Friday, November 22, 2013

Cruising the Web

Of course, it was rank hypocrisy of the Democrats to launch the nuclear option when that was exactly what Democratic senators such as Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden had excoriated the Republicans from even contemplating. And Republicans who now are screeching about the rights of the minority now weren't so concerned about those rights when they thought about doing away with the filibuster for judges. However, there is something very distressing about how the Democrats totally ignored the rules of the Senate in order to get rid of a tradition in the Senate since the 1830s.

I've just finished teaching the unit on the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates for my A.P. Government class. We read excerpts from the Federalist Papers as Madison explained his concerns about checking the power of a majority. We discussed why the Senate had been created as a different sort of institution from the House. With the 17th Amendment and this action by the Senate today, the Senate is no longer much different from the House. The Senators are no longer chosen indirectly by the state legislatures and now the Senate has become more of an institution like the House where the minority has few rights. Philosophically, that should concern those who care about the measures that were written into the Constitution to protect against the tyranny of the majority. This moment will come back to haunt the Democrats because our politics is cyclical and parties that are in majority one day will be in the minority another day.

The WSJ sums up what will now be possible for the Democrats.
The immediate result of Harry Reid's power play will be that President Obama has a freer hand to pursue his agenda through regulation and the courts. Democrats will now rush to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in particular, adding three new judges over GOP objection to a court that is already underworked.

They will also confirm Mel Watt as the chief regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Watt, who will have almost unlimited power as government conservator, will proceed to allow principal writedowns on underwater mortgages before the 2014 election. And he will begin to finance an "affordable housing trust fund" for liberal groups that dole out subsidies to Democratic voters and harass businesses with lawsuits.

Mr. Obama also hopes to limit successful legal challenges to his rule-by-regulation. The D.C. Circuit will now have more liberal judges to hear challenges to his unilateral climate-change power grab or his rewrite by fiat of the Affordable Care Act.
The Democrats complain that the Republicans have used the filibuster to block presidential nominations to a degree unseen in political history. That is so. But it was the Democrats who pioneered the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees when George W. Bush was president. That tawdry history demonstrates how whenever one party introduces a new tactic, the other party will adopt that tactic and then kick it up. So, even though the rule change is supposed to not include Supreme Court nominees or legislation, those will be the next change to come.

Dana Milbank explains how this rule change will just increase partisanship ugliness in the Congress.
“Cloture has fostered more bipartisanship in the Senate,” Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian, told me Thursday after Reid detonated his nuclear device. “The majority leader of the Senate is expected to try to work out some kind of a bipartisan deal to get enough votes to get cloture. Because the House is run by majority rule, it is seen as a sign of weakness if the majority leadership of the House has to get votes from the minority side.”

Now the Senate will be just as dysfunctional.

Reid was right that Republican obstruction has been intolerable; half of the 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations in the nation’s history, he noted, have come during the Obama presidency.

But Reid’s remedy — calling a simple-majority vote to undo more than two centuries of custom — has created a situation in which the minority leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), is expected to use the minority’s remaining powers to gum up the works, and to get revenge when Republicans regain the majority.

“If a Senate majority demonstrates it can make such a change once, there are no rules which binds a majority, and all future majorities will feel free to exercise the same power, not just on judges and executive appointments but on legislation,” Levin said Thursday. Quoting one of the Senate’s giants, Arthur Vandenberg, Levin said his fellow Democrats had sacrificed “vital principle for the sake of momentary convenience.”

If it was possible to make things even worse in Washington, Reid just did it.

The National Journal focuses on how the administration has concentrated everything that will be damaging the health care system right before the 2014 election.
Canceled insurance plans are the most obvious example. President Obama said last week that insurers can un-cancel certain policies for another year, a move largely designed to appease nervous Democrats. But a one-year delay simply means that cancellation notices will resume next October—just weeks before many of those same Democrats will face voters for the first time since voting to pass the Affordable Care Act.

And that’s not the only political threat lurking just ahead of the 2014 midterms. The White House also delayed the law’s employer mandate until 2015. That means employers will be deciding in mid- to late 2014 whether they’re going to offer health benefits under the mandate—and whether to cut employees’ hours to avoid providing them with health care.
That is why the administration is now moving to delay enrollments for 2015 for a month to push it back after the 2014 election so voters won't see how their premiums are going up until after the election.


With Obamacare squeezing the insurance companies, the only way to get the money the federal government will need to finance the plan is to turn to squeeze doctors. And the result will be that more and more doctors will stop participating in the exchanges.
Many doctors are disturbed they will be paid less -- often a lot less -- to care for the millions of patients projected to buy coverage through the health law’s new insurance marketplaces.

Some have complained to medical associations, including those in New York, California, Connecticut, Texas and Georgia, saying the discounted rates could lead to a two-tiered system in which fewer doctors participate, potentially making it harder for consumers to get the care they need.

“As it is, there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the country, and they don’t have enough time to see all the patients who are calling them,” said Peter Cunningham, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington D.C.

If providers are paid less, “are [enrollees] going to have difficulty getting physicians to accept them as patients?”

Insurance officials acknowledge they have reduced rates in some plans, saying they are under enormous pressure to keep premiums affordable. They say physicians will make up for the lower pay by seeing more patients, since the plans tend to have smaller networks of doctors.

But many primary care doctors say they barely have time to take care of the patients they have now.


Charles Krauthammer exposes how ludicrous and shameful the Iran deal that John Kerry has been negotiating.
The only reason Iran has come to the table after a decade of contemptuous stonewalling is that economic sanctions have cut so deeply — its currency has collapsed, inflation is rampant — that the regime fears a threat to its very survival.

Nothing else could move it to negotiate. Regime survival is the only thing the mullahs value above nuclear weapons. And yet precisely at the point of maximum leverage, President Obama is offering relief in a deal that is absurdly asymmetric: The West would weaken sanctions in exchange for cosmetic changes that do absolutely nothing to weaken Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Don’t worry, we are assured. This is only an interim six-month agreement to “build confidence” until we reach a final one. But this makes no sense. If at this point of maximum economic pressure we can’t get Iran to accept a final deal that shuts down its nuclear program, how in God’s name do we expect to get such a deal when we have radically reduced that pressure?

A bizarre negotiating tactic. And the content of the deal is even worse. It’s a rescue package for the mullahs.
Why should the U.S. give up the only leverage it has in dealing with Iran for nothing at all except some free time to continue their efforts to build nuclear capability.
Not a single centrifuge is dismantled. Not a single facility that manufactures centrifuges is touched. In Syria, the first thing the weapons inspectors did was to destroy the machines that make the chemical weapons. Then they went after the stockpiles. It has to be that way. Otherwise, the whole operation is an exercise in futility. Take away just the chemical agents, and the weapons-making facilities can replace them at will.

Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing with Iran. It would deactivate its 20 percent enriched uranium, which besides being chemically reversible, is quickly replaceable because Iran retains its 3.5 percent enriched uranium, which can be enriched to 20 percent in less than a month.

Result: Sanctions relief that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure untouched, including — and this is where the French gagged — the plutonium facility at Arak, a defiant alternate path to a nuclear weapon.

The point is blindingly simple. Unless you dismantle the centrifuges and prevent the manufacture of new ones, Iran will be perpetually just a few months away from going nuclear. This agreement, which is now reportedly being drafted to allow Iran to interpret it as granting the “right” to enrich uranium, constitutes the West legitimizing Iran’s status as a threshold nuclear state.

Don’t worry, we are assured. The sanctions relief is reversible. Nonsense. It was extraordinarily difficult to cobble together the current sanctions. It took endless years of overcoming Russian, Chinese and Indian recalcitrance, together with foot-dragging from Europeans making a pretty penny from Iran.

Ron Fournier examines how the White House is controlling the media by not allowing independent media photographers to take pictures of the President and instead just issuing the White House photographer's pictures which seek to continue the iconography of Barack Obama.

The National Journal explains how Harry Reid maintains party discipline in the Senate.

Joseph Epstein is exactly right about how the Presidential Medal of Freedom has declined to being an ideological celebration of a president's own party rather than any real recognition of true contributions.

16 comments:

SMP said...

I agree that politics is cyclical. I have heard some pundits argue that the nuclear option was invoked because the Dems can see the writing on the wall for 2014. On the other hand, with efforts to turn states like Colorado and Texas blue, and their rapacious appetite for voter registration data, they are doing whatever they can to put the cycle on hold. Just because something has been a cycle in the past, doesn't mean it always will be. Thus, the fundamental transformation of America.

mark said...

Obviously, "the rank hypocrisy" cuts both ways:

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/twelve-republicans-who-broke-their-pledge-oppose-judicial-filibusters

Last, First, MI said...

Mark,

When the Republicans threatened to go "nuclear" the result was a agreement in which the opposing parties resolved the stalemate. The very nature of the Senate, as a deliberative body was left unchanged, and the minority view could still hold its ground. Now the Senate and it's role is changed.

It was bad enough when the 17th Amendment reduced the role and influence of the states but this attempt to pack the courts has effectively changed senators to state-wide members of the House. I don't know about you, Mark, but I think the 57 states deserve better.

BTW, Where have you been? It's been a long time since you've been trolling around here. Given your sudden and prolonged lack of "communiques", I was worried that something untoward may have befallen you. I'm glad to see that's not been the case, but please don't tell me you've spent all of this time trying to enroll in ObamaCare!

mark said...

50 states, equitus. There are only 50 states.

Last, First, MI said...

Mark,

But, but I believe everything that Obama says, don't you? He said there were 57 states and that if we liked our plans we could keep our plans. Are you telling me he was wrong? Or he was just lying?

mark said...

Poor equitus,
still bitter that I exposed you as a liar?

Last, First, MI said...
Mark,
Identities? Identify ANY Democrat that has demanded that Bob Menendez, child prostitute customer and Democratic Party Senator from New Jersey, step aside and cooperate fully with the current FBI investigation.10:37 AM

equitus said...

My question, again: Identify ANY Democrat that has demanded that Bob Menendez, child prostitute customer and Democratic Party Senator from New Jersey, step aside and cooperate fully with the current FBI investigation.

Last, First, MI said...

Mark,

There you go again, but when you're a one string banjo, what other string have you got to pluck? Besides, what difference does it make anyway? (That's my new stock answer for anything! If it's good enough for you liberal kooks to give Hillary a pass, then it's good enough for the rest of us to use on her fawning believers for anything we please.)

It cracks me up that you keep going there with that NJ pervert and campaign fund crook, almost as much as it does to watch you still flail about thinking I'm equitus. Anyway, all I did was play you the same way the Dems like to play the Republicans. Say any damn thing you want - repeat it enough - and the damage is done. Creeps like you played along with that crap when they were smearing Romney, an honest and good man, for tax evasion, animal cruelty and for supposedly causing a woman to die of cancer. Turns out he didn't cheat on his taxes and the dog and the woman both survived. The irony of it is that Obama, a blatant liar, uses the IRS to attack his "enemies", as he calls his political opponents. He eats dogs and his destruction of our healthcare system will kill people.

What really gets me is to watch how low you Progressives have to go to believe that your discredited political beliefs are worth allowing a crooked President to ship weapons to drug cartels, cover up the deaths of our people at the hands of AQ in Libya after refusing to send them help, using the IRS for politics, Solyndra et al, and finally, lying to you and everyone else about ObamaCare.

How much of that are you going to take? You've been played for a fool if you believed Obama's lies at some point. You're an idiot if you still do.

I think you need to get back to signing up for ObamaCare. I hear they won't bounce you out for your preexisting case of BDS or your equitusphobia. Just get ready for a long wait, higher premiums and higher deductibles but at least you can still keep seeing your OBGYN! (Unless you liked that doctor....)

mark said...

"He eats dogs"? Huh?

Oh, equitus. You went from originally saying that you pulled "a Biden" by using lfm's comment to now claim (as lfm)that you did it to "play me". Given the order of the comments, that is quite illogical.
Just as you keep dusting off the 57-state gaffe, I'll keep using your absurd lie. It undermines not only the whining about the "liberal media", but just about everything conservatives claim to stand for: Respect for the Constitution, honesty and accountability for mistakes.

mark said...

BTW:
That conservatives have been silent on Cong. Trey Radel after calling on Menendez to step down is just further evidence of the complete lack of integrity. Once again, politics trumps the Constitution and accountability.

Last, First, MI said...

Oh Mark,

I would like to see Radel in jail...right along with that other noteworthy coke user, Barack Obama!
So yeah, I'm glad you asked.

Last, First, MI said...

Mark,

As for the pervy creep from New Jersey, I've never said anything about pulling a "Biden". Only Biden can be Biden stupid, unless we consider the morons that voted for him, like you. Weren't you the one that once extolled the virtues of his foreign policy "expertise"? I'd laugh but the US foreign policy situations is probably at its lowest point in about 40 or 50 years.

So now were just wasting time with the name calling but then that's all the left can do, so I guess this is discourse or debate in your book. Unless you'd like to take a turn at what we're going to have to do to fix the mess Obama has made of our healthcare system.

Remember when the Republicans tried to get Obama to negotiate on points like the tax on medical devices? Obama wouldn't budge and we had the BFD (Bidenism for healthcare issues) government shutdown. Now the Dems are flipping out about the damage they've done, not to the people that have lost their insurance, but to their own precious chance for reelection! Yep, that's the left in a nutshell, and what does Reid do? He follows his master's direction and goes with the nuke. What f-ing idiots you people on the left have become!

It's so sad. The left has always had the conceit to believe that they knew what was best for everyone but I never believed, until you nominated a complete freak like Obama, that you would actually try to implement your nightmares on the rest of us. It's like you actually believe the garbage you've been peddling! What must you be thinking now?!

mark said...

So now were just wasting time with the name calling but then that's all the left can do, so I guess this is discourse or debate in your book.

equitus,
I think if you were to make a list of insults by me versus insults by you, you'd realize how silly you are.
As far as "discourse or debate", the last time I took you seriously and answered your question, you then accused me of "enjoying abortion as a blood sport", and created the following juvenile dialogue:

Last, First, MI - "Why does the left embrace the racist, genocidal policies of Margaret Sanger?"

Mark - "I don't know who David Foster is but I'd have his baby.'

Last, First, MI - "?!"

Mark - "Really? Do you actually expect me to explain why I have no morals when I'd rather give David Foster a tongue bath than make an inept attempt to explain why I am nothing more than a left wing bootlick?"

Last, First,"Well, yes, Mark. I would think that if you feel so strongly about something, you would not hesitate to stand up for your beliefs. You might even want to explain why it is that you think the quaint idea of a nuclear family is outmoded in the face of a state supported single parent model, or even better, a government funded abortion mill alternative."

Mark - "Republicans have launched a war on women!"

Last, First, MI - "Calm down, Mark. Take a breath and tell us why you think the left has ignored the national tragedy of abortion mills and the likes of Kermit Gosnel."

Mark - (Swooning) "David Foster is dreamy."

Last, First, MI said...

Ha! You're still chewing on that! Good, choke on it!

I guess it's better than facing the fact that you voted for the liar that brought us:

1. Fast and Furious - the reality show, not the movies.

2. Solyndra - where the real power generated is called cronyism.

3. Russian Reset foreign policy: Look down the barrel, spin the cylinder and pull trigger! Co-starring Mrs Hillary "What Difference Will This Make in the 2016 Election Anyway?" Clinton as the dum-dum bullet and the neck-bolt dolt, John Kerry, as the blank round, wherein the world watches in shocked amazement as America's ability to lead or even positively influence events abroad drop to an all time low. Let me know when you want to talk about Munich II, surrendered this weekend to Iran in Geneva.

4. Double digit unemployment and a massive growth in the number of Americans on public assistance - chalk that up to the food stamp President.

5. White House enemies lists to rival anything Nixon ever dreamt. From John Dodson to James Rosen to Gregory Hicks, the list is as brutal as it is expansive. And can you just imagine if a Republican had unleashed the IRS to attack his "enemies"?

And finally, ObamaCare! The liberal Liberal's dream of dreams that has Progressives swooning and Americans losing their health insurance, while driving up costs for the rest of us. Thanks Obama!

Let's debate any of those or we could continue your bizarre fantasy about equitus. Your choice.

Last, First, MI said...

Oops - forgot to mention doubling the national debt. There's so much to list!

mark said...

equitus,
You forgot to mention "he eats dogs".

"Choke on it"? Nice. Does reading your own silly words upset you?

Last, First, MI said...

Not at all but it seems to get your goat. I hear goat is popular in Indonesia, among other places. I can't remember if Barry and Bill put a recipe in the book for goat. I know he bragged about his dope smoking and cocaine use but the goat thing evades....

Have you finished signing up for ObamaCare? Maybe this will help:

http://tinypic.com/r/10d8miq/5