Thursday, April 28, 2005

So much for civil discourse..

Josh Marshall says a Senate majority may very well opt to bypass the Foreign Relations Committee - or any other committee that tries to stand in the way - and exercise the will of a simple majority, with or without comity.

There's a fascinating article (sub. required) in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal about the state of the Bolton nomination. All the parliamentary niceties aside, the upshot is that Republicans may bring Bolton's nomination to a vote even if he doesn't get approved by the Foreign Relations committee.

TPM Reader TS dropped me a line this evening, noting the article and asking me, in essence: can they really do that?

The answer, I told him, is that if they really want to, a majority, or rather a Majority Leader backed by 51 senators (or 50 with Cheney) can really do anything he wants. They can abolish the filibuster. They can bring Bolton to a vote. Whatever. The senate has no referees or rulemakers who don't work at the pleasure of the majority.

He has received a lot of flack for this post, he says in an update, but he is sticking with his position...

...The simple fact is that there is no outside authority that does or can pass judgment on how 51 senators choose to interpret the rules or how Dick Cheney chooses to interpret the constitution. So, I stick to my assertion that so long as they are not bound by a good faith interpretation of the rules or the constitution, 51 senators and/or a vice president of their own party, pretty much can do anything they want. When you push past the soft tissue of law, almost anything becomes possible.


Comity be damned, I suppose.
Civility is not a strong point in Washington just now.

If activist judges are a problem, it seems to me that the more legislative support they bring to their appointments, the more likely they will be to reflect the will of the legislature. A squeeking majority is more apt to approve an activist juror than a large majority. I think the simple majority seeks to replace one kind of activism with another, rather than doing the hard work of saying what they want in the form of legislation.

If the UN is corrupt, inept, ineffective and in need of reform, someone who can appeal to its better elements should be more effective than someone who thinks that power is his only tool. **Someone said it is easier to get results with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone. No one questions the gun part, but do we have to forsake kind words altogether?

**[See "Speak softly, but carry a big stick." Or, WWJD, "...bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back...Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Lk 6, Mt 5). But He didn't anticipate modern developments, I guess. Or he wasn't speaking about politics. Or something.]

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