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The US is fast becoming ungovernable

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Oski2005, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    Great op ed by Krugman about how ridiculous things have gotten lately.
    America Is Not Yet Lost

    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    Published: February 7, 2010

    We’ve always known that America’s reign as the world’s greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.

    What we’re getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. Instead of fraying under the strain of imperial overstretch, we’re paralyzed by procedure. Instead of re-enacting the decline and fall of Rome, we’re re-enacting the dissolution of 18th-century Poland.

    A brief history lesson: In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Polish legislature, the Sejm, operated on the unanimity principle: any member could nullify legislation by shouting “I do not allow!” This made the nation largely ungovernable, and neighboring regimes began hacking off pieces of its territory. By 1795 Poland had disappeared, not to re-emerge for more than a century.

    Today, the U.S. Senate seems determined to make the Sejm look good by comparison.

    Last week, after nine months, the Senate finally approved Martha Johnson to head the General Services Administration, which runs government buildings and purchases supplies. It’s an essentially nonpolitical position, and nobody questioned Ms. Johnson’s qualifications: she was approved by a vote of 94 to 2. But Senator Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, had put a “hold” on her appointment to pressure the government into approving a building project in Kansas City.

    This dubious achievement may have inspired Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama. In any case, Mr. Shelby has now placed a hold on all outstanding Obama administration nominations — about 70 high-level government positions — until his state gets a tanker contract and a counterterrorism center.

    What gives individual senators this kind of power? Much of the Senate’s business relies on unanimous consent: it’s difficult to get anything done unless everyone agrees on procedure. And a tradition has grown up under which senators, in return for not gumming up everything, get the right to block nominees they don’t like.

    In the past, holds were used sparingly. That’s because, as a Congressional Research Service report on the practice says, the Senate used to be ruled by “traditions of comity, courtesy, reciprocity, and accommodation.” But that was then. Rules that used to be workable have become crippling now that one of the nation’s major political parties has descended into nihilism, seeing no harm — in fact, political dividends — in making the nation ungovernable.

    How bad is it? It’s so bad that I miss Newt Gingrich.

    Readers may recall that in 1995 Mr. Gingrich, then speaker of the House, cut off the federal government’s funding and forced a temporary government shutdown. It was ugly and extreme, but at least Mr. Gingrich had specific demands: he wanted Bill Clinton to agree to sharp cuts in Medicare.

    Today, by contrast, the Republican leaders refuse to offer any specific proposals. They inveigh against the deficit — and last month their senators voted in lockstep against any increase in the federal debt limit, a move that would have precipitated another government shutdown if Democrats hadn’t had 60 votes. But they also denounce anything that might actually reduce the deficit, including, ironically, any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely.

    And with the national G.O.P. having abdicated any responsibility for making things work, it’s only natural that individual senators should feel free to take the nation hostage until they get their pet projects funded.

    The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.

    Don’t hold your breath. As it is, Democrats don’t even seem able to score political points by highlighting their opponents’ obstructionism.

    It should be a simple message (and it should have been the central message in Massachusetts): a vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis. But by now, we know how the Obama administration deals with those who would destroy it: it goes straight for the capillaries. Sure enough, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, accused Mr. Shelby of “silliness.” Yep, that will really resonate with voters.

    After the dissolution of Poland, a Polish officer serving under Napoleon penned a song that eventually — after the country’s post-World War I resurrection — became the country’s national anthem. It begins, “Poland is not yet lost.”

    Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/opinion/08krugman.html
     
  2. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    Aside from the ridicuolous Senate rules that Krugman points out, you have the whole government hating thing. Of course you have the libertarians and their utopian theories of virtually no government and the ant-taxer "drown government in the bathtub style Repbublicans, but you also have the proudly self proclaimed moderates who view themselves as hard headed and non-idological and fact based. We see it on the board as they praise divided government which is often paralyzed government.
     
  3. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    I noted this morning a headline which seems to indicate the asshat alabama senator has given up.
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    apparently, former Enron Advisor Paul Krugman slept through the years 2001-2009.
     
  5. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    Thank goodness. It was totally ridiculous. Of course now you have the Republicans refusing to attend a bi-partisan health care meeting unless the Democrats completely abolish the whole bill.

    I might not mind starting over, if I actually had faith the GOP would go into it with an earnest desire to see a working bill passed this time. But to refuse to attend is just more obstruction and the party of 'no' tactics.
     
  6. Major

    Major Member

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    Or you did. Government functioned just fine in the 2000's. The filibuster was not used remotely as much as it is now. The problem there was that the GOP had no solutions for anything.
     
  7. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Ben Nelson to filibuster key Obama nominee.
     
  8. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    And your point is?
     
  9. Major

    Major Member

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    Thanks for the irrelevant point.
     
  10. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    my cat's breath smells like cat food.
     
  11. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    Where is that chart about filibuster useage?
     
  12. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    I assume his point is that Nelson is a democrat.
     
  13. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    I guess that would be valid if people on this board who generally attack the GOP never attacked Dems also. But that generally isn't the case.

    Also to cite this one incident and try to claim both sides are equally as guilty is pretty ridiculous.
     
  14. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    The Ben Nelson story is how I found this op ed. Somebody mentioned it in a comments section. This op ed is from Sunday and the Ben Nelson story came out yesterday.
     
  15. Major

    Major Member

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    But he was responding to a post that contained two points:

    1. The filibuster was not used remotely as much as it is now.

    2. The problem there was that the GOP had no solutions for anything.

    Nelson filibustering 1 nominee is irrelevant to either of those. And no one ever claimed the filibuster was never used in the early/mid 2000's (or by Democrats), so pointing out one use of a filibuster doesn't show anything at all.
     
  16. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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  17. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    I respect his economic opinions but his obsession with the filibuster is silly. He's been on this for a while now. We're not getting rid of the filibuster, dude.
     
  18. SunsRocketsfan

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    There you go again Major. You lose all credibility when you just finger point and blame one political party. Over the last 10 years we had both democrats and republicans in the whitehouse and congress was controlled by both democrats and republicans. You really think one political party caused the mess we are in now? You are really just blinded in your one sided views. Both parties have a lot of shady characters that are driven by self interest and need to be voted out.
     
  19. Depressio

    Depressio Contributing Member

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    Do you even know what a filibuster is?

    Do you even read what the conversation is about?!
     
  20. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

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    Agree. I don't want to get rid of the filibuster either. That's an important check I want to be able to use when wingnuts are in power.

    However, Krugman does make the point that the conventions and traditions of Washington... the grease that allowed the gears of government to operate... have been obliterated by the GOP. Just look to the Texas redistricting fiasco, the unprincipled opposition to everything proposed by Dems, the literal interpretation of rules instead of the intended, the absurd levels of blocked nominees, and strident party voting... not to mention lying about everything.

    Of course, the other reason we're becoming ungovernable is money.

    Here's an interesting article that highlights the differences between the parties. While both are hypocrites and whores, only the Repubs have the balls to suck up to Wall Street while fanning the anger of teabaggers against both Wall Street and the Dems.

    At least Obama recognizes there is a major economic and social problem that needs to be fixed... Repubs could care less as long as they are in power.

    If these very modest reform proposals turn Wall Street Dems into Repubs, I doubt they were really Dems in the first place.

    And of course, we now get to have barge loads of corporate money thrown into the political process. (Thank you Supreme Court.)
     

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