06 March, 2010

Dumbfuckery du Jour - Special Weekend Addition

Senator Judd Gregg, my darlings, is a supreme nitwit.  It's not ordinarily the case that a bit of dumbfuckery so extreme, so outrageous, so bloody motherfucking stupid comes down the pike on a Saturday afternoon that I feel compelled to give up precious writing time in order to unleash the Smack-o-Matic upon a sitting senator.  Judd Gregg, I'm afraid, has dropped just such a huge, steaming pile of stupidity right in our laps.  And it cannot be ignored.

It was just five years ago that Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) was so anxious to let oil companies drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he tried to use the budget reconciliation process to do it. "If you have 51 votes for your position, you win," he said at the time, adding, "Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so."

This week, Gregg not only said there's something wrong with majority rules, he manufactured a bizarre history of the Senate that exists only in his imagination.
[U]nder the Senate rules, anything that comes across the floor of the Senate requires 60 votes to pass. It's called the filibuster. That's the way the Senate was structured. [...]
The Founding Fathers realized when they structured this they wanted checks and balances. They didn't want things rushed through. They saw the parliamentary system. They knew it didn't work... That's why we have the 60-vote situation over here in the Senate to require that things get full consideration.
That guy named Judd Gregg who said, "If you have 51 votes for your position, you win"? Yeah, he's gone missing, and has been replaced with this shameless hack.

It's hard to overstate how truly ridiculous Gregg's analysis is. It simply has no foundation in reality. The Senate wasn't "structured" to require supermajorities on literally every bill, nomination, and resolution -- that's the exact opposite of the truth. This isn't a subjective question open to interpretation; Gregg is just lying.

And when Gregg says the framers of the Constitution "saw the parliamentary system" and rejected it, he's just making things up. Matt Yglesias, who refers to Gregg as "an idiot," explained, "There were no countries operating on a modern parliamentary system when the constitution was written. And why doesn't it work? It seems to work in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, etc."
You know what else is funny?  How the Founding Fathers, who were apparently soooo concerned with these supposed checks and balances, felt just fine about majority rule in the Senate (h/t):

First, the Constitution explicitly requires supermajorities only in a few special cases: ratifying treaties and constitutional amendments, overriding presidential vetoes, expelling members and for impeachments. With so many lawyers among them, the founders knew and operated under the maxim "expressio unius est exclusio alterius" -- the express mention of one thing excludes all others. But one need not leave it at a maxim. In the Federalist Papers, every time Alexander Hamilton or John Jay defends a particular supermajority rule, he does so at length and with an obvious sense of guilt over his departure from majority rule.
Second, Article I, Section 3, expressly says that the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate should cast the deciding vote when senators are "equally divided." The procedural filibuster does an end run around this constitutional requirement, which presumed that on the truly contested bills there would be ties. With supermajority voting, the Senate is never "equally divided" on the big, contested issues of our day, so that it is a rogue senator, and not the vice president, who casts the deciding vote. The procedural filibuster effectively disenfranchises the vice president. [...]
Third, Article I pointedly mandates at least one rule of proceeding, namely, that a majority of senators (and House members, for that matter) will constitute a quorum. Article I, Section 5 states in part that "a majority of each shall constitute a majority to do business." Of course, in requiring a simple majority for a quorum, the founders were concerned about no-shows for a host of reasons -- not least of all because the first legislators had to travel great distances by stagecoach.
But the bigger reason for the rule was to keep a minority from walking out and thereby blocking a majority vote. In Federalist No. 75, Hamilton dismissed a supermajority rule for a quorum thus: "All provisions which require more than a majority of any body to its resolutions have a direct tendency to embarrass the operations of the government and an indirect one to subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority."
It would be illogical for the Constitution to preclude a supermajority rule with respect to a quorum while allowing it on an ad hoc and more convenient basis any time a minority wanted to block a vote. Yet that is essentially what Senate Rule 22 achieves on any bill that used to require a majority vote.
You know, I just read the Constitution again.  Funny how it never mentioned the necessity of a filibuster to preserve our precious democracy.  Funny how those folks who built our country from the ground up didn't bother giving everything "full consideration" until 1837:

In 1789, the first U.S. Senate adopted rules allowing the Senate "to move the previous question," ending debate and proceeding to a vote. Aaron Burr argued that the motion regarding the previous question was redundant, had only been exercised once in the preceding four years, and should be eliminated.[4] In 1806, the Senate agreed, recodifying its rules, and thus the potential for a filibuster sprang into being.[4] Because the Senate created no alternative mechanism for terminating debate, the filibuster became an option for delay and blocking of floor votes.

The filibuster remained a solely theoretical option until the late 1830s. The first Senate filibuster occurred in 1837.
Ye olde cherry on top is dear silly Sen. Gregg trying to claim that a procedural tactic he denigrated when Cons were in the majority is somehow essential to our democracy and has been since the country was founded.

Politicians say dumbfuck things every day.  But this has just set a new diamond standard for dumbfuckery.  The sad thing is that I'm sure some idiot Con will surpass him next week.

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