Democrats & Liberals Archives

Naked Republican Power

Richard Shelby of Alabama has demonstrated how a single Republican senator, though a member of the minority party, can prevent the president of the U.S. from doing his job. Shelby used a hold to prevent the confirmation of not 1 but of 70 executive appointees merely to gain some pork for Alabama. An excellent example of the exercise of naked Republican power through obstructionism.

The Huffington Post says:

Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) decision to place a "blanket hold" on all presidential nominations until a pair of billion-dollar earmarks for his home state are fast-tracked has reignited the debate over the parliamentary tactics being deployed by the Republican Party. It also has thrust into the spotlight the clout that major defense contractors often yield on the political process. . . The Senator confirmed that he launched the hold, in part, because he is upset with a tanker contract worth $35 billion that remains unresolved between Northrop Grumman/EADs and Boeing. Shelby favors the Northrop Grummann-EADS bid largely because it would result in tankers being assembled in his home state. The two contractors, in turn, have donated to Shelby's campaign committees, hoping ostensibly to secure favor or at least an audience with the Alabama Republican.

EADS stands for Airbus. So, Shelby is stopping all government activity to make sure that a foreign company - Airbus - beats an American company - Boeing - and gets an American defense contract because it would provide some manufacturing jobs for Mobile, Alabama. This is more than obstructionism; it is extortion.

The Whitehouse is furious. Gibbs said:

I guess if you needed one example of what's wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government work better because he didn't get his earmarks, If that's not the poster child for how this town needs to change the way it works, I fear there won't be a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010.

This is not the first time Republicans have used holds to frustrate Obama and the Democrats. What makes the hold so powerful is that it comes with the promise to filibuster. And filibustering is the primary goal of Republicans in today's senate. With the filibuster, Republicans are preventing Congress from dealing with healthcare, with the economy and with other important problems facing the nation. With the filibuster they plan to bring all executive activity to a halt. With the filibuster Republicans plan to "win" in November.

Don't call them Republicans. Call them Filibusterers. Filibustering leads to naked power and naked Power is all Republicans want.

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 5, 2010 4:59 PM
Comment #295186

Shelby is going a long way toward shutting our American government down by denying its agencies responsible for executing the functions of government leadership to efficiently carry out the duties and obligations of our government.

But, it is not just Shelby. This is a GOP strategy that has been implemented in many ways since Obama took office, and our nation’s progress and the people’s demand for results are being denied, as a result. This will come back to bite Republicans in the arse. I can almost guarantee it.

If the media wasn’t leaning left before, they have reason to fall over left, NOW.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 5, 2010 5:30 PM
Comment #295187

Shelby’s blanket block is just another example of how broken and dysfunctional our legislative government has become.

They all act like a bunch of 5th graders that weren’t chosen for the team and would much rather make noise and pout than actually do anything to help their country.

Posted by: john trevisani at February 5, 2010 5:49 PM
Comment #295188

These tactics need to be pointed out to Americans on a daily basis and come november, Republicans may have another rude awakening. Republicans are greedy and corrupt and will soon no longer be a viable party as they self implode.

Posted by: Jeff at February 5, 2010 7:08 PM
Comment #295197
These tactics need to be pointed out to Americans on a daily basis and come november, Republicans may have another rude awakening. Republicans are greedy and corrupt and will soon no longer be a viable party as they self implode.

Posted by: Jeff at February 5, 2010 07:08 PM

Imagine No more republican party, Wow!!! I can see it now, The Democrats vrs the Socialist partys running for Prez. Oh!!! What the future could and may be.

Posted by: papioscar at February 5, 2010 11:37 PM
Comment #295199


I wonder if you will be happy with the party that will take the place of the Republicans when that happens…

Probably not. Because I don’t think they would be willing to up with nearly as much from the Democrats that the Republicans have tolerated for so long.

Of course, the Democrats have been showing themselves as a party of inconsequence as well, it is very possible that by 2030 two new parties will have taken over for the current ones as happens from time to time in American politics.

If the US isn’t either a 3rd world country or a territory of a one world government headquartered in Northern Europe by that time. Not as far a stretch as you would think…

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 6, 2010 12:36 AM
Comment #295202

Rhinehold - that 2030 time frame may be abit generous. I see it happening far sooner than that. Just how much does China own us now? Imagine the fun they could have calling in all that debt? BTW has any other country besides Iceland gone bankrupt in recent history?

Posted by: Kathryn at February 6, 2010 7:58 AM
Comment #295205

My question is, if a single congressman in the minority party can screw up the president’s plans, how come the Democrats didn’t do this stuff to Bush when he was lying us into a war, putting his cronies in power, and messing up the nation?

Posted by: capnmike at February 6, 2010 10:33 AM
Comment #295207

It bears repeating that the Democrats have more power than any Republican has had since the time for almost ninety (90) years. They just cannot use it. It is too bad if they cannot handle it, but it is getting old and silly to keep on playing victims.

The stereotype of Democrats is that they are weak and prefer to play the victim than to get anything done. I didn’t believe it was true, but the various crybaby comments I keep on reading and seeing on TV make me think that there is something to it.

Evidently even one Republican can take on dozens of Democrats. One Republican is like Batman among the petty thugs. What that says to me is that Democrats can never govern, unless they can reach 100% agreement. Of course then they are not making choices, just going with the crowd.

No wonder nobody is afraid of Democratic wrath. We are only afraid of their ineptitude.

IMO it might be true that Republicans want power because Democrats clearly don’t know what to do with it.

Our Democratic friends are learning that doing is harder than crying that somebody else is doing wrong.

Posted by: Christine at February 6, 2010 11:02 AM
Comment #295208

Katrhyn, Greece and several other European nations are throwing global markets into a tizzy this week due to bankrupt conditions in those countries brought on by enormous debt load.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 6, 2010 11:03 AM
Comment #295209


Your argument reminds of the rapist who beats his victim first, and then gets angry when she refuses to be affectionate with him.

Shelby’s example is but one of many now, of Republican obstructionism. Today they are obstructing Democrats. They keep it up, they will increasingly be viewed as obstructing America and the American people.

It is not about power plays, for the American people. It is about getting results and solutions to the challenges the people face. And Republicans are holding measures to meet those challenges up. Their position is, if it is not our way, it won’t be anyone’s way, and the country can go to hell.

Not a very smart position to take, Christine. The really ironic thing is, more Republicans approve of the Tea Party movement than Independents or Democrats, and a very large number in the Tea Party movement have lost faith with the GOP.

That should be a wake up call to IdJuts like Shelby, blackmailing the government for pork spending for his home state. If he thinks that is endearing the GOP to the fiscal responsibility Tea Partyer’s, he is a bigger fool than even most Democrats think.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 6, 2010 11:24 AM
Comment #295212


The problem is that the Democrats hold almost all the levers of power. They are like the rapists you talk about. When when their own impotence makes them unable to consummate their act, they blame their victims for not being willing.

I just cannot understand how anybody can view as victims the ones that control the presidency, have most of the mainstream media on their side, control both houses of congress by dominating majorities.

What if Republicans had such power? Would what happened be their fault? Wait, the liberals blame Republicans for everything, no matter who has the power.

A simple and undeniable fact is that Democrats hold more power than Republicans have in living memory (well a person would have to be more than 110 years old to have voted in an election where Republicans had the kind of power Democrats have now. It is the Democrats who are not doing what they said. Blame the perpetrators.

It is interesting that after three years of Democratic control of the Congress and more than a year with the Democrats in control of the presidency, they still feel the need to blame.

Posted by: Christine at February 6, 2010 12:49 PM
Comment #295214

Christine said: “The problem is that the Democrats hold almost all the levers of power.”

By almost, I assume you are exempting the Supreme Court and the Senate, where Democrats DO NOT hold the levers of power. The Democrats, as you well know, hold only 57 seats in the Senate. They would need 60 Democrats to unilaterally hold the power of the Senate.

And as you well know, NOTHING in the way of legislative power can be enacted without passage through the Senate. Since, Democrats hold only 57 seats, and Republicans hold 41, and Independents the other 2, Democrats do not control the lever of Legislative Power as your comment suggests.

This is evidenced by the Democrats lack of the needed votes to pass Health Care Reform, EVEN IF every Democrat voted for it.

Your point is factually and evidently untrue where legislative power is concerned. The Executive Branch has the power to enforce laws, not make them, though GW Bush had another opinion on that. And the Supreme Court is not controlled by either Party, though it mirrors some ideological differences between the R’s and D’s.

Yeah, yeah, we all know Dems blame Reps and vice versa, regardless of who has the majority. But, having a majority is rendered meaningless by the 60% cloture requirement if the majority lacks 60 seats in the Senate. Your point goes no where as your comment engages in this same partisan blame game without fact or substance to back it.

Republicans have become anti-government. They make no bones about publicly saying this and continue to do so frequently. But, their actions while in power were in total contradiction to their words of anti-government. They words say spending is bad, but, expanded the Medicare program and through deficit spending to boot.

Republican hypocrisy in this manner leads to only one interpretation of their actions today, obstructionist. And with Democrats having only 57 seats in the Senate, obstructing legislation is precisely what Republicans are doing, to no good purpose. Doing nothing about energy independence, health care, education, greenhouse emissions is destroying American children’s futures. And Republicans are responsible for nothing being done in these areas through their obstruction of legislation in these areas.

Your premise is false, and hence, your conclusions are illogical and false. Democrats do not control the lever of power in the Senate. For that to be true, they would have to hold 60 seats in the Senate. Your entire argument is invalidated by your invalid premise.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 6, 2010 1:29 PM
Comment #295219

So David

Your conclusion must be that NO parties or politicians can be held responsible for much of anything.

The Democrats have MORE power now than Republicans have had under Bush(s), Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower, Hoover or Calvin Coolidge.Did I miss any? If they cannot figure out how to use it, we have to question their general competence.

I read in the Washington Post that Reid cannot even round up 51 democrats to pass Obamacare. Maybe it just is not the right thing to do. Maybe our Democratic friends should figure out what they people want instead of just pushing their programs.

Posted by: Christine at February 6, 2010 4:01 PM
Comment #295222

I’m kind of dense. Could someone explain to me, when there aren’t enough votes for closure, isn’t someone suppose to filibuster? Wouldn’t this be a perfect issue to call their bluff on. It would seem the threat of a filibuster is a lot more useful than actually filibustering.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at February 6, 2010 8:24 PM
Comment #295224


I think they should force a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” style filibuster. The Democrats could force this, but they don’t want to because they figure they might need it some time in the near future.

IMO - a plurality of Democrats are delighted to have the excuse not to take the hard decisions. Most don’t want to have to vote for health care. They aren’t going to do anything to upset their alibis.

Posted by: Christine at February 6, 2010 9:30 PM
Comment #295225

You think of this as a moderate. But this is not the policies of moderates. No moderate takes every proposal from the other party off the table. No moderate tries to hermetically seal the agenda of the other side behind a wall of obstruction.

The moderate doesn’t wait to fix problems until after their party gains back effective control of the government. They don’t demand that everybody does things their way.

And what is it that you keep on challenging me, and the others about, this taunting about the power of that majority. Oh, why aren’t they overpowering the Republicans, forcing every filibuster, etc.

The fact is, Republicans have been filibustering from the start. They filibustered after the American people rejected them the first time. They filibustered them after they were even more rejected the next time. They filibustered healthcare when it was more popular, as they do now. The fact is, the Republicans are treating the election of Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress as if they were some sort of illegitimate coup d’etat by subversives, whose policies must be stopped at all costs.

That, rather than acknowledging the results of two free elections. There never was any breaking point of dissatisfaction. The Republicans never waited to come to the rescue of the American people when they objected to the leftist policy. No, they manufactured both the outrage, and the sabotage of those policies, which often feature many of their conservative proposals, at the same time.

These are not the actions of a heroic political resistance. These are the actions of those who have forgotten all moderation, who will not accept any other political order than their own, even in the face of majority rejection.

Your support saddens me, and here’s why: at the end of the day, you folks are selling your political souls to support the very people who hate and despise the moderation you claim to represent. They would kick you out of your own party, if they had their druthers. Yet you still cling to them and their message out of fear of what we Democrats would do.

Funny, really. You’re buying into the notion that we’re all these far left marxists, even as our party has to fight to unite around centrist Democratic Party proposals, even as we have to make concessions to the right wing of our party.

The irony is, you could get more results, more leavening of the liberalism in government policy, and avoidance of radicalism if you simply called upon your people to negotiate in good faith with us, and let something through. If Republican moderates would help us break filibuster and get legislation passed, don’t you think that their votes would become more sought after, that the Democrats wouldn’t, by necessity, be forced further and further left as they seek unity within party, rather than bargaining with the other side of the aisle?

I think you misunderstand the political dynamics necessary for moderation. If you want moderation, moderate your own behavior, give people deals they can make.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 6, 2010 9:53 PM
Comment #295226


You are fighting the old fight.

What I wrote to Mike is that I think that many Democrats are more than happy to have the excuse of a Republican filibuster. I read in the paper that Reid is unable to get even 51 Democrats. They cannot pass this bill, even w/o the filibuster. They like to hide behind it.

What I am buying into is that the health care proposals now kicking around are worse then nothing. I am in the majority of Americans who agree with me. Democratic politicians understand this too.

It would be very interesting if the Republican “caved”. I don’t think Harry Reid has a proposal that can get 51 votes. You cannot blame Republicans for that.

Posted by: Christine at February 6, 2010 10:07 PM
Comment #295230

God forbid we blame the people whose fault it is.

More good reason to get rid of the undemocratic filibuster before we turn into a banana republic. The next Senate can and should rewrite the rules.Or we could always follow the example of 17th century Poland.

with the rise of power held by Polish magnates, the unanimity principle was reinforced with the institution of the nobility’s right of liberum veto (Latin for “I freely forbid”). If the envoys were unable to reach a unanimous decision within six weeks (the time limit of a single session), deliberations were declared null and void. From the mid-17th century onward, any objection to a Sejm resolution — by either an envoy or a senator — automatically caused the rejection of other, previously approved resolutions. This was because all resolutions passed by a given session of the Sejm formed a whole resolution, and, as such, was published as the annual constitution of the Sejm, e.g., Anno Domini 1667. In the 16th century, no single person or small group dared to hold up proceedings, but, from the second half of the 17th century, the liberum veto was used to virtually paralyze the Sejm, and brought the Commonwealth to the brink of collapse.

Posted by: bills at February 7, 2010 12:22 AM
Comment #295232


It brought the commonwealth to complete destruction. But the method was constant vetoing of provisions to increase the military to defend the commonwealth against the aggression by the Russians, Prussians and Austrians. The Rzeczpospolita essentially unilaterally disarmed. It was dismembered and Poland disappeared from the map of Europe for 123 years. The lesson from Poland was that if you don’t keep your military strong and your foreign policy aggressive enough, you lose your freedom.

But I think it would be very difficult for Democrats to get even 51 votes for Obamacare as it stands now. We both can understand why the liberum veto was a bad thing. But we should also agree that Democrats should have to get a majority to pass their legislation.

Posted by: Christine at February 7, 2010 12:46 AM
Comment #295236

Geez, I liked my Scott Brown joke.

Posted by: gergle at February 7, 2010 8:32 AM
Comment #295242

Christine, I think what people are against is the way the bill kowtowed to special interests. The public option and Medicare buy in are still popular with the American people. (If people want to buy in with the most medically needy group of people, that shows how desperate things are.)

Steven, How can you say “The fact is, Republicans have been filibustering from the start. They filibustered after the American people rejected them the first time. They filibustered them after they were even more rejected the next time. They filibustered healthcare when it was more popular, as they do now.“
From what I see they’ve threatened to filibuster over sixty times in 2008 and in 2009. But I can’t remember turning on C-span and seeing Republicans standing there and just talking. If Shelby wants to hold up 70 nominations until we agree that a foreign company gets the bid to make our weapons for us, let him. The Dems are Weak!

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at February 7, 2010 11:15 AM
Comment #295244

Mike the Cynic-
Well, in the previous Congress, they made 112 filibuster threats. And, due to the way things have actually been for the past thirty or so years, that’s all they have to do. Now we could break out the cots on every one of that, but what would change? Maybe it would make it more of an ordeal to put forward this threat, but the Republicans are pretty much committed to making any kind of legislation an ordeal, and I don’t think they care. I think they would again cast themselves as Jimmy Stewart style political heroes, though they seem to fight for the Mr. Potters of the world.

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s high time that we show the country and the world what the Republicans are doing. But we should not expect them to end it before public pressure comes down on them, nor should we expect them not to try and spin their obstruction as a good thing. We got to be prepared to fight more than just the legislative battle.

The Democrats are not weak. They are simply facing a political effort at obstruction that is unprecedented in American history. Nobody could be prepared for this level of obstruction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 7, 2010 12:31 PM
Comment #295246

The Senate will agree to something at some point. They know they can’t get away from healthcare. Sooner or later, they’ll realize they can’t run away from it. The President is going to remind them a lot of that.

I think the Republicans are playing Russian Roulette, both with this country’s fortunes and their own.

Whatever pretensions your party might have about it’s necessity to America’s continued good fortunes, it’s not done a very good job at all over the last decade, and I don’t think people have just forgotten. If the Democrats are suffering, it’s because they’re seeming a bit useless to them right now.

But Republicans? Republicans have largely remained less popular for one reason: they seem worse than useless.

If another crisis develops, and Republicans are seen to interfere again, the Republicans put themselves between the hammer and the anvil. The Republicans are endangering this country’s fortunes by playing this game of allowing no real governance if they can’t get what they want. They are endangering their own by making it so bloody obvious that winning elections, even in the face of their own failures and their causing of failure, is their first priority.

America needs a functioning government, even it’s one you don’t like. Democrats like me, in the face of the most collosal screw-up of a President modern times, didn’t throw so many monkey wrenches in government.

What deprivation and disaster must this country suffer through so you people can run things the way you want to run them?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 7, 2010 2:23 PM
Comment #295319


When blame Bush runs out of steam, we might get into a blame Obama stance. If Obama doesn’t wise up, he will be a lot like Carter.

BTW your party has not done a very good job over the past three plus years. Obama has three years left to show why he is better than he seems to have been in his first year.

Posted by: Christine at February 8, 2010 7:27 PM
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