Nel's New Day

February 2, 2013

Senate Engages in Rude Discourse

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
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paul Mccain Yesterday I wrote about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) rudeness to a past GOP senator when he raked Chuck Hagel over the coals during the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense. It appears that Republican senators have declared open season on each other. On the Senate floor, an hour after the hearing, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) derided Mr. McCain’s opposition to his measure that would punish Egypt as “spurious and really, frankly, absurd.”

Other GOP senators adamantly refuse to support Hagel for the position, and yesterday Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both from Texas, said that they weren’t ruling out a Texas procedural roadblocks to stop Mr. Hagel’s nomination. If they used a filibuster, it would be the first time in history that this “roadblock” would be used to block a cabinet appointee. I’m not fond of Hagel because of his past anti-LGBT and anti-abortion positions, but that should make him more desirable to Republicans. Even a Republican decorated Vietnam veteran isn’t far enough right for some of those in his party.

The virulent GOP opposition to one of their own follows a recent history of growing disregard for each other. In December, Bob Dole, the former majority leader, appeared on the Senate floor in a wheelchair to advocate for a disability treaty. After he was wheeled away, many of his GOP colleagues, including those who had previously praised the measure, voted against the measure. When Dole was in the Senate, he was to the right of the party; now he is considered far left.

Earlier this week, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) referred on talk radio to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as “amazingly naïve” for his proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Somehow Vitter managed to get re-elected to Congress the last time after his phone number appeared in a client list of a Washington madam and he publicly apologized.

In The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer writes about the history of Senate relations. In the 1790s, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first rules manual for the Senate. Members were told not to refer to each other by name but instead say the “distinguished senator from state of X or Y” and address each another through the chairman rather than directly. Members are not supposed to question one another’s motives or criticize individual states. Before the advent of television, cutting words, such as one member calling another a “rancid tub of ignorance,” were removed from the Congressional Record.

Many newly-elected conservative senators have less regard for the old rules of jurisdictional courtesy and respect. Fear runs among the less radically conservative because of Tea Party opposition, especially those who are up for re-election in 2014 such as Cornyn. In the past, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had a cordial relationship with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), but McConnell, with his own re-election looming, cannot any longer afford this friendship.

In the last election, Olympia Snowe (R-MA) did not run for a third term, citing hyper-partisanship leading to a dysfunctional Congress. She and her former fellow Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, are regarded as leading moderates within their party. In 2006, Snowe was named one of America’s Best Senators by Time. Her voting record consistently showed her as a centrist.

Even GOP Senators who have been part of the Congressional problems are quitting. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announced a week ago that he will not seek a third term in 2014. “The debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal cliff vote showed Congress at its worse. And sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon,” he said. Chambliss won his first term, using images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein next to photographs of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Max Cleland. Sen. Cleland lost three of his limbs and received the Silver and Bronze Stars during his service in Vietnam. Chambliss used two deferments from bad knees after a football injury to stay out of service.

For the upcoming Massachusetts election, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has decided not to run for the position vacated by John Kerry, now Secretary of State. Now Scott is scrambling for a job, and the state GOP is scrambling for a candidate. The primary is April 30 and the general election is June 25. In one of his more controversial statements while running against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who won the 2012 election, he commented that he was glad she had not posed nude the way that he did for Cosmopolitan 30 years ago.


As Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said: “It’s leadership. It’s pure leadership. When the goal is always to win the next election, rather than to put the country on the right course, whether it’s a Republican leading it or the– a Democrat leading it, the Senate is not going to work.”

With no real resolution to the filibuster problem, the next two years are guaranteed to be even less civil.

July 10, 2012

Congressional Conservatives Should Resign

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:58 PM
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Tomorrow the House of Representatives plans to vote against the Affordable Care Act–for the 31st time. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the law, they are taking another tack, to remove all money from the IRS to implement the plan.

Fortunately, the Democrats in the House are comparing “Obamacare” to “Romneycare,” showing Massachusetts’ success in its comprehensive health care reform.

Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, told NPR in an interview that he has become “less conservative … since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.” Over the past 10 years, Posner said, “There’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.”

In response to the right-wing’s vicious responses to Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling on health care, Posner added, “Because if you put [yourself] in his position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”

When Posner uses words like “lunatics” and “crackpots,” he’s apparently referring to the other conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former leaders in the GOP are highly disgusted with the actions of the current House conservatives. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) gave this advice last summer, recommending that lawmakers who aren’t willing to compromise should not serve in Congress. “If you can’t compromise on anything, go home,” Simpson told NPR. “If you can’t learn to compromise on an issue without compromising yourself, then you shouldn’t be a legislator.”

Former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) blasted Republican leadership for their “irresponsible actions” during the debt ceiling debacle a year ago: “I think about some of the presidents we’ve had on my side of the aisle — Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., go right through them, Eisenhower — they would be stunned.” Disgusted with the debt ceiling negotiations, Hagel called it “an astounding lack of responsible leadership by many in the Republican party, and I say that as a Republican.” Hagel added that the Republican party is too captive to the Tea Party movement that is “very ideological” and “very narrow.” He said, “I’ve never seen so much intolerance as I’ve seen today.”

Former Florida governor and Republican, Jeb Bush, said that the GOP is “short-sighted” on tax and immigration policies, which is not what the GOP mainstream wants to hear. At the same time, he endorsed President Obama’s philosophy about the economic “headwinds” from Europe and agreed with the president’s statement that both Ronald Reagan and his father, George H. W. Bush, would have a hard time getting nominated by today’s Republican Party.

Even Richard Nixon would have been disgusted with the current crop of Republicans as shown by his definition of “liberal.” In quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s definition of the word, Nixon said, “It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him.” The definition? “A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.” The president who resigned before being impeached 40 years ago makes today’s Republican lawmakers look totally selfish and unethical.


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