No More Half-Assery

Scott Lemieux in The American Prospect has a particularly good grasp on how the nomination process to replace Justice Stevens should go. It’s rather sad that even in a Democraticly-controlled Congress and with a Democrat in the White House, we’re treating all executive nominations as if this was 1997 and the Republicans were in power. But this is not the time to settle. Aim high, and either get it all or get most of it:

It might be objected at this point that a nominee like [Pamela] Karlan or [Harold] Koh might compel a Republican filibuster … In the (probably unlikely) possibility that a filibuster of a nominee holds, the result would be the eventual confirmation of a more moderate nominee. If Obama preemptively nominates a moderate nominee, the result would be … exactly the same.


[With] Republican obstructionism in the Senate virtually maxed out, there’s no reason to believe that a Republican filibuster would incur any net political cost. If anything, it would provide ammunition for a narrative painting the Republicans as the “Party of No” while providing a venue for defending liberal constitutional values. And finally, the filibustering of a Supreme Court nominee for the first time since 1968 (and second total) would escalate the cycle that is likely to lead to the elimination or substantial modification of the filibuster rule — something that would be a massive victory for democracy.

We’ve tried the bipartisan cooperative route, and it was pretty clear from the start that Republicans had no interest in that (and finally, Axelrod is coming around). Time to stop trying; the actual goals (say no) of the Republican Party are completely clear at this point. “If we win, we win. If we lose, we still win.”

Via Lawyers, Guns, & Money.

One Man’s Malaise is Another’s Motivation

We’ll see if I can’t get up and running more regularly, but this is such an accurate quote to describe the lack of anything being undertaken in Congress that I needed to risk another meltdown:

Members of Congress—including seven Republicans who had proposed the idea—were even too chicken to vote for a bipartisan commission. This is the political equivalent of being too timid to take a nap.

I’ve jury-rigged the laptop to work in spurts while I wait for my backup to get sent, so I’ll have a semi-regular selection of new material for you. But hell, this one post alone has made my week more productive than the United States Congress.

The Liberal from Lufkin

Charlie Wilson died today. From my limited knowledge (basically a book and a film), I’ve developed a deep admiration for the man. To some extent his death is part of the passing of an era, for better or for worse. But this country will surely miss him. Bob Gates writes a fitting farewell. We’re still picking up the pieces, as Charlie always wanted.

I had the unforgettable experience of knowing Congressman Wilson when I was at CIA and he was working tirelessly on behalf of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviets.  As the world now knows, his efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close.  After the Soviets left, Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatized country to its fate — a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today.

America has lost an extraordinary patriot whose life showed, once more, that one brave and determined person can alter the course of history.

Amen, Mr. Secretary. Good-Time Charlie, we hardly knew you.


Salena Zito on the perils of the big tent. “Competing agendas” is certainly one way to put it. More realistically, there’s no more single grand unifying idea for liberals or the progressive movement. It’s a series of policy initiatives with no common thread. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for health care (and this reform doesn’t go nearly far enough), but until you can package it as part of a greater big idea, you won’t get many takers.

Both parties have seen splinter groups and fringe movements, but there’s a chance we’re on the verge of something much more fundamental.