Because I am cranky, I’d like to start the day with a little Feingold bashing.
First, remember when the health care bill was being voted on around Christmas, and everyone was aghast that the Republicans made 92 year old Robert Byrd be wheeled to the Senate floor to cast his vote, rather than harken back to the days of old and a member of the opposition party would have collegially voted for Byrd, and now they were wishing for his death:
It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads — but without his vote, Democrats wouldn’t have the 60 they needed.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number-two Democratic leader, went to the floor to complain about Coburn’s unholy prayer, which followed an unsuccessful request from Democrats for an earlier vote because of Byrd’s “significant health problems.” Said Durbin: “When it reaches a point where we’re praying, asking people to pray, that senators wouldn’t be able to answer the roll call, I think it has crossed the line.”
Byrd is dead now, and financial reform teeters on the brink, one vote short. Would be nice if Feingold could shelve his deep principles and vote for his friend and with his party.
Additionally, Feingold’s office number is (202) 224-5323. Please call his staff and ask them to map out the strategy for a better financial regulations bill in 2011 with 6 fewer Democratic Senators and up to 40 fewer Democratic members of the House. I’d love to hear if the strategery goes beyond “and a pony!”
Also, by “sticking to his principles,” Feingold is now letting Ben Nelson be queen for a day. If Feingold would vote with the caucus, Nelson would have no leverage whatsoever. Feingold already let Scott Brown be President for a couple weeks, now it is Ben’s turn.
Finally, remember when we all mocked Glenn Greenwald’s thesis about the bi-partisan rotating bad guy? Doesn’t seem so mockable anymore, does it?
This entire thread is null and void if Feingold changes his mind or if there are 60 votes.
I thought there were enough Repub votes for this (Brown, one or both of the Maine Repubs).
@Bulworth: Still need Nelson, even with Scotty and the two Maine senators, because of the WV vacancy.
@Bulworth: They either need Hairy Nelson, or Feingold needs to grow a pair, or they have to wait until next week when the placeholder from west BY GOD virginia is installed – and presumably votes with the party.
Clusterfuck, Day 423 or something.
Feingold’s is the one seat I’m really kind of hoping goes Republican this fall. It would be worth it not to have to deal with his “principled” shooting down of all kinds of bills we need passed. I can’t believe people were talking him up as a presidential candidate 3 years ago.
As soon as it looked like his vote would matter, Nelson decided it was time to play prima donna about the consumer protection bureau that he was okay with a couple of weeks ago.
The man is utterly and completely predictable and Reid should have figured that as soon as he had enough Republicans on board, Nelson would find something to get pissy about.
Nothing here about Nelson or Feingold. Maybe the paper assumes one or both are on board.
@Mumphrey: Screw that. I like Feingold most of the time, and on top of that, I don’t want any Republicans gaining seats.
I just get sick and tired of people grandstanding.
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@Mumphrey: That principle lead him to be one of eight Senators(out of 100) to vote against the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Need I remind you that two others were named Dorgan and Wellstone. And then there is the AUMF-Iraq and Patriot Act.
I will call Feingold’s Madison office after 9am today. I am a local. Any suggestions of polite things to say?
Interesting that you are asking people nationwide to influence the Senator from Wisconsin. We actually elect members to Congress to act on our behalf, not to act in accordance with a referendum, and in any case he is elected to represent the wishes of the people of Wisconsin, not the people of the other 49 states. But I guess it’s okay if you are in pursuit of the passage of Democratic values.
And yes, I know that constitutes concern trolling. It is somehow wrong to want the constitutional process to function the way it was designed to. Guilty as charged.
I suppose he should have shelved his deep principles and voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley too. Feingold is the best Democrat in the Senate. If the other 55 Democrats were anywhere near as principled as Feingold we’d be much better off.
For some reason its always the liberals, committed to what they believe in, who have to compromise and not the bought & paid for centrists.
Yeah, I guess you’re right. I just really don’t like him, though, and never have. I always got the feeling he was more interested in feeling like he was standing up as some kind of noble, lonely figure who alone cared about the rights and dignity of man or something than in actually getting laws we need passed.
I mean, standing up for what you believe in is important. It means something. But when somebody shoots down a bill the country desperately needs because it isn’t as awesomely awesome as they think it should be, it makes me want to slap them.
@Omnes Omnibus: sure. tell him that you’re incredibly lucky to have him as a Senator and thank him for being one of the few Democrats willing to stand up for the little guy.
I’m curious–what happens when one calls? How much information does one give, and how much is appropriate to give? The reason I ask is that I’m a Feingold constituent, and have some pretty close personal and (more importantly) professional ties to him. Sort of 2 degrees of separation in several ways. But my sense is that the professional ties are not really fair game (“hi, I’m PRD and I worked closely with…” seems inappropriate).
Feingold’s explanation seems pretty sincere: He thinks the fin reg bill is no better than no bill, because it won’t prevent another financial collapse, and because it might foster a false sense of security. Seems internally consistent.
Just because Feingold was right about other issues does not make him right about this. Again, I ask you to tell me the route to a better financial regulations bill in the upcoming years. And by most accounts, this bill, while not perfect (none are), is still going to do a lot of good.
Bill E Pilgrim
Sure but get it right, “hippie” is the word, popularized by Herb Caen and no, you can’t just spell it however you like sorry.
He also invented the word “beatnik” but hippie he seems to have just helped popularize, but it was “hippie”, in keeping with darkie or whitie or whatever, deriving from “hipster”.
Funny how hipster has now made a comeback. And please don’t start spelling it hipstur or something.
In Herb Caen’s case by the way he was very much hippie-punching when using the term, not to mention beatnik-punching. He was an old fashioned curmudgeon by the 1960s not having been an actual hipster himself since the 40s in his heyday, and we all read him and rolled our eyes at his rants against “modern” jazz (anything after 1938 it seemed) and so on, and he loved hanging out with yuppies in the Marina and gushing about “what great kids they are” but we all loved reading him anyway.
One of my fondest memories was walking into the Ferry Building plaza off the boat one day and smack into an open air memorial celebration with Joan Baez singing to him.
@Mumphrey: it’s not “because it isn’t as awesomely awesome as they think it should be”, it’s because he believes it won’t do much of anything its supporters are claiming it would do. and history usually proves him right when he votes against the majority of the party.
Why is it always liberals who have to shelve their principals?
Like HCR it is always the liberals who are required to give up things are are really necessary so this president can get some sort of smoke and mirrors and pretend that he has done something. Then in a couple of years when we realized that it is so much less than what was necessary we can all say: “Who could have imagined?”
As a long time reader here, you should be aware that I can and do spell things any way I like. Artistic license.
I fixed it though.
@John Cole: by accounts of its supporters, and of course they’d say its going to do a lot of good. people who voted for GLBA said it would do a lot of good too. just because supporters say it will do good things is not in and of itself proof that it will.
by passing a “compromise” bill that’s ineffective, you remove any urgency to pass decent legislation. in essence, it becomes a “we’ve addressed that already” issue.
some other guy
Could someone please list some of these “all kinds of bills” that Feingold, personally, has been responsible for shooting down on principle? Aside from financial reform, I can’t think of another. I don’t follow every vote, but AFAIK he’s been a pretty reliable member of the Dem caucus when it’s counted.
That said, as a WI resident, I’m reaally pissed at Russ. I already contacted Feingold’s office and told him that I don’t care if he votes for or against the the bill, but joining a Republican filibuster is completely unacceptable. Not that I have much of a choice in November. I’d turn out to vote for Ben fucking Nelson over virtually any GOP candidate.
@John Cole: you honestly, really think that Feingold is doing this because he wants the attention?
@lawguy: Because liberals are the fucking minority in the Senate. This isn’t hating on liberals, this is math. Jesus.
Because somebody has to be the responsible one.
@Marc: Oh, I definitely think it is part of it. Feingold is a good Senator, but every single one of them is a grandstanding fool to some extent. Pretending Feingold is above it all is the kind of idol worship that progressives usually pin on Obama supporters.
They are all politicians. The idea is not to fall in love with them, but to get them to do what you want.
This FinReg episode is sounding more and more like PTDB from earlier this year. With many of the same characters playing starring roles. I’m amazed anything has gotten passed during Obama’s term so far.
My current Feingold theories vacillate between:
(a) He’s butthurt because nobody wants him to be queen for a day, so he’s holding out to get the same treatment as Presidents Brown, Collins, Snowe and Nelson.
(b) He’s afraid he’s going to lose this Fall so he’s trying to act indy enough to bring over the swing voters who will vote for anyone who’s defiant, no matter what they defy or why they defy it.
I’m pretty sure (a) is it, but I’m not discounting (b) entirely.
@some other guy: so just because the Republicans decide they want to filibuster a bill because they don’t want the President to have any successes, means that all Democrats have to table their opinions and vote unanimously with the President regardless?
because that’s what you’re essentially saying. if the Republicans decide to filibuster a bill, then Democrats must go along to avoid any appearance of working with Republicans.
Well, that’s the way the world works. It’s too bad, but it is.
There are 40 people who are dead set against anything happening at all. There are 40 who’d like big changes. The default is nothing happening. That’s what we begin with. Since the rules demand 60 votes to get anything to the floor for a vote, that means the 20 Liebermans, Nelsons, Snowes, Collinses, Landrieus and Lincolns who could go either way can ask for all kinds of bullshit for their votes.
That’s how compromise works when one side already has what it wants. How would you suggest the 40 liberals put the screws to the 20 moderates? “All right, if you won’t vote for the strong bill we want, then we won’t… Uhh… Oh, damn. We don’t have anything to threaten you with. Oooh, how about if you don’t vote the way we want, then nothing will pass, and you’ll be just as happy as you are already! Ha! Take that!” That isn’t much of a threat.
I know this isn’t a flawless analogy, but it’s like saying I’m a chump when I’m getting mugged since I’m not not making the mugger give up anything in the “negotiations”. Why do I have to make all the compromises? Well, because I’m the one with the gun in my face, that’s why.
@Chyron HR: i guess we have very different definitions of being responsible.
I’d hardly call HCR “smoke and mirrors.” It’s not single-payer or public option, but it’s not nothing, which is what “smoke and mirrors” means.
LOL, cranky indeed.
@John Cole: I’m not in love with him, I just appreciate a great representative when I see one. They’re so rare anymore.
I think its ridiculous to suggest that Feingold is doing this because he wants the attention. If he was, he’d be out there whoring himself to every media outlet that would have him on like Kucinich does.
Well you could say that but sh*t rolls downhill, as they say, so why don’t we start the blame game at the top where it belongs.
It is *amazing* how none of the pro-Obama, stop-complaining-about-Obama bloggers still haven’t mentioned the amazing interview Harry Reid gave just the other day saying Obama never had his back on HCR.
It’s like the interview never happened. “I wish Obama Had Backed Me Up…I know it was a time when I wanted a few folks in the White House behind me.”
Greenwald is way more correct on this than anyone wants to admit. It’s just a rotating villain kabuki dance and sh*t rolls downhill.
Bill E Pilgrim
@General Stuck: Yeah but after denying that there was anything to fix, you notice he fixed it.
This is why I like this guy. I can’t even explain what that means exactly.
@Mumphrey: you’re right. its hardly a flawless analogy. you know what, i might buy your argument if the White House put an OUNCE of public pressure on those “20 Liebermans, Nelsons, Snowes, Collinses, Landrieus and Lincolns” who stand in the way of real progress. But they don’t. In fact they spend valuable DNC & White House time, money and effort to get them re-elected. The DNC & White House give them the loaded gun.
This is he beginning, not the end. It isn’t what I’d have done if I ran the country however I saw fit, but it brings insurance to millions of Americans who didn’t have it before. I’m glad it passed.
In 2 or 3 years, we’ll go through this all over again, as Democrats try to make this admittedly bad bill better. Then 2 or 3 or 5 years after that, we’ll go through it again, and a somewhat less bad bill will end up being better still. In 20 years, I hope, at least, we’ll be where we want to be. It’s slower than I’d like, but every step along the way makes things better for real people who need help. I’m proud that we’ve gotten as far as a country on this as we have. God willing, I’ll be prouder before too long.
@Bill H: First, some of us are Wisconsinites. Second, just because someone is not a constituent does not mean that he or she does not have persuasive arguments to make.
pumas are funny.
At least Feingold has the decency to not be like Nelson. Actually, Feingold’s best move would be to negotiate his support in exchange for whatever pet issue he wants to come out of conference… and make it be something that would absolutely rile up Nelson and make him give up his vote without getting anything in return.
@Bill E Pilgrim: Yes he did fix it. But it’s the scent marking that is precious.
It’s true that this is a risk. But by the same token it’s also true that the longer we go without anything being done, the more the urgency drops. The only urgency for a financial regulation bill right now is because there are elections coming up in November – the Democratic pols want to be able to say “there was a problem, we did something to try to fix it”. The Republican pols want to say “there’s a problem and it’s still a problem because the Democrats are incapable of fixing it – tax cuts!!!!”
Once the election passes, the urgency for a fix will go away. In fact, if as is commonly assumed, the Republicans gain seats in the House Republican ideas will start to come back into force and the chances of getting anything good will drop. If Republicans gain seats in the Senate than the compromise dance will need to be even more aggressive to get some Republican prima donnas on board.
So basically, I’m saying that if you believe that this bill is good but not good enough then you need to accept that it’s the best we’re going to get right now and move on to something else. Incremental improvement is always better than the status quo if it is in fact improvement. The argument that the urgency will “go away” if something is passed is specious because, in the absence of another collapse, the urgency is going to go away anyway in a couple of months regardless of whether this passes or not.
OTOH if, like Feingold seems to believe, you think that this is not an incremental improvement but actually something that will actively make things worse then by all means oppose it. The status quo is certainly better than making things worse. I don’t personally think from what I’ve read that this will make things worse, but others differ. So if your argument is actually that passing this bill is worse than doing nothing that’s a genuinely good argument in my mind. But the idea that the bill is okay but not great so don’t pass it because we should be able to do better is just naive given how royally fucked up the Senate is and the bad incentives Republicans have to make sure absolutely nothing gets done in the next few months (or longer).
yay! Crabby Cole=fun day at BJ.
This is like HCR deja vu all over again, also too.
Now here is where I draw the line. GG is always and everlastingly mockable.
some other guy
I’m not asking for Feingold to vote for the bill. I’m asking him to get out of the way of ending debate on it. If he doesn’t want to support his party’s legislative agenda in this area, fine, but working with the opposition party block it from even coming up for a vote is asinine, IMO.
@Observer: “It is amazing how none of the pro-Obama, stop-complaining-about-Obama bloggers still haven’t mentioned the amazing interview Harry Reid gave just the other day saying Obama never had his back on HCR.”
Greenwald et al said Obama intentionally scuttled the public option and duped all progressives to help out his buddies in big insurance. Reid is saying that he wishes Obama had spoken up earlier rather than leaving the Senate to do its job. I happen to agree with Reid, but this doesn’t vindicate conspiratorial nonsense at all. It’s sort of sad that Reid’s biggest bone of contention is that Obama didn’t step up to do Reid’s job for him.
Occam’s Razor. He is in a tightening race and he is worried. He is a pol who wants to be reelected. It’s what they do.
@some other guy:
The fiction that you can vote for cloture but still be against the bill is over, I’m afraid. Senators have done that dance for years, but it’s no longer the case now. The media reporting on the issue and the work by conservative activists to make sure that their base understood that voting for cloture when at least 51 Senators were going to vote for the bill was the same as voting for the bill has destroyed the fiction that let some Senators play both sides – cutting deals for their cloture vote while voting against the final passage used to be typical behavior. Doesn’t happen anymore because the primary voters on both sides have caught on.
So we no longer have a majority-rules voting system in the Senate. Voting for cloture is a vote for the bill, voting against cloture is a vote against the bill, you need 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate and everyone knows it now. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle – until the Senate eliminates the 60-votes-for-cloture rule that’s the new reality of the Senate.
Edited to add: And it will have to be radical Republicans who eliminate the 60-votes-for-cloture rule, not Democrats. The Democratic Party doesn’t put radicals into leadership positions in the Senate. The GOP does. So the next time the GOP has 51 votes in the Senate and they’re stymied by Democratic opposition I expect the “nuclear option” to be put back on the table and possibly used. But folks hoping it will happen with the Democrats are kidding themselves – the Democrats are too small-c conservative to ever muck with the rules of the Senate like that.
I can’t wait for the Firebaggers to get their dream of a unified Republican leadership of both Houses and the WH. Then they’ll get their magic pony for sure!
this is at least the third time i’ve seen it come up in the comments here. and it got a good discussion the last time round.
and, while i have issues with Obama’s leadership style. i think it’s pretty hilarious that Harry Reid of all people has the nerve to complain about someone else’s toughness.
i’ll agree that it is odd that it hasn’t come up on the front page of any of the blogs i read, though i won’t go so far as to assume why.
@some other guy:
Good Point! I am not for filibustering every bill that comes up. The Senate should allow bills an up or down vote and that’s why I agree with you. Feingold should be campaigning against the filibuster.
I’s telling that the hypocrite hippies whining over filibuster reform are totally cool with Feingold abusing the filibuster, because, hey, it’s “principled,” right?
I don’t like it when Lincoln does it, don’t like it when Nelson does it, and don’t like it when Feingold does it. But Feingold can end Nelson’s influence right now, and still hold on to his principle. He wont.
@NonyNony: appreciate your thoughtful comment and I generally agree, although I think the timeline for when interest disappears is a little longer than you believe it is.
my feeling is that a bill that gives the appearance of solving a problem but in reality leaves open a bunch of loopholes and doesn’t really solve the problem is worse than not passing any bill at all. at that point you’re arguing for passing a bill that will act as a prop for Democrats to be able to lie to their constituents. not only is that bad for people who would be victims of the loopholes in the bill, its bad for people’s faith in their elected officials and government. and in this situation its also bad because it plays into and reaffirms the power the Liebermans, Nelsons, Snowes, Collinses, Landrieus and Lincolns have to dictate the Democrats’ agenda.
It was discussed right here last night.
I wonder if Reid was reminded that he, on the day after the president told a primetime audience that he wanted a bill to sign before the summer recess (that painful summer recess), said that wouldn’t happen.
Personally I do find myself in a weird spot here. Yes, I think the passage of this legislation seems like it would do a lot of good. Yay. And yet I feel like we’re heading toward another super-elite caused financial timebomb, and this legislation won’t avert it. Boo.
@Nick: so by your definition, any use of the filibuster is an “abuse of the filibuster”?
its one thing when someone on a very rare occasion uses the filibuster to block something they think is very important, its another when a someone uses the filibuster on every major piece of legislation and uses it as a power play.
@Observer: Reid said the same thing six months ago, the President didn’t have his back because he knew Reid’ strategy was destined to fail. We all argued that in November, catch up.
It is amazing that people who base their entire argument on the untrammeled power of the executive, and it’s corrosive effect, never, ever look to Congress on legislation.
A judicial opinion that goes against the Obama DOJ is not a normal sign that proves we have an independent judiciary and three functioning branches is not good news, it is instead proof of Obama’s duplicity.
A Senate battle (because that’s what health care was) is not the usual legislative wrangling over a HUGE piece of law, it is proof of Obama’s duplicity.
You’re doing more to promote the idea of the unitary presidency than any conservative. It’s ALL Obama, ALL the time.
@demo woman: until everyone is forbidden from using the filibuster, it would be bad strategy to refuse to use it while your enemies use it at every turn.
Called Feingold. The staffer read me a statement that he had prepared – Doesn’t address TBTF and Glass-Steagall. I expressed my frustration with the Senate and grandstanding by senators like Nelson, and I suggested that Feingold’s actions could possibly perceived as the same sort of thing. Then I suggested that, if he was opposed to the bill, he vote against it on the floor rather than support the filibuster. The staffer said she would pass on my thoughts to the senator.
@Keith G: Feingold’s record of sticking to his principles is hardly election-calendar-dependent.
@Marc: Yes. I have long argued the filibuster needs to gone completely. It’s anti-democratic.
@Marc: As his vote for John Ashcroft and John Roberts proved.
@some other guy: he’s not working for the Republicans, you know it and that’s a dishonest argument.
A couple of quick notes:
1.) I find the opposition to this bill because it might not do enough to stop a future crash to be laughable. Bold stance there, Russ. Personally, I think there is going to be a future crash regardless what we do. Witholding support for this because of what might or probably will happen is tantamount to saying “I’m not voting for any law enforcement funding because criminals will keep doing criminal things anyway and I don’t want to be lulled into a false sense of security.” It’s complete bullshit.
2.) If Russ is completely concerned about progressive principles, he needs to learn the dynamic of the Senate pretty quickly, because his withholding support has allowed a lot of the bill to be watered down already. Withholding his support does not make the bill better, it makes it worse, because they now need to reach out to the drama queens like Nelson and Brown.
3.) The way to evaluate any bill is not “will this make shit perfect” but “will this make things better.” Sitting on the sideline pining for the perfect at the expense of the better is the very definition of grandstanding.
4.) Because I think there is going to be another crash in the future, I’m really looking forward to all the Feingold folks screaming “See, he was right!” That will be laughable.
Observer, I am a pro-Obama type like the ones you reference. I’ll posit two reasons why people haven’t commented on the Reid quote. One, it’s way to early dude..it’s only just come out. Second, if you read the quote and the interview fully, it’s not saying that Obama didn’t have his back, it’s saying that he thought Obama could have stuck it to Republicans more than he did. He also admitted that looking back on it, Obama has good reason to say that he did it the right way but that Reid felt like he could have used some support when it was actually happening. No complaint on the substance of the bill and the fact that the bill passed in circumstances when no-one thought it would you’d think would be sufficient for people to grudgingly accept that Obama’s way on HCR was the right way.
If you’ve read either of Obama’s books, in particular the Audacity of Hope, it’s all about finding consensus between two parties seemingly at odds with each other. It’s all about changing the tone in Washington – as was his campaign by the way. He tried that in good faith because that’s what he ran on and because that’s what he believes. When it didn’t work, he didn’t have much of a hard time slapping them down on camera at the republican’s retreat.
Recall, people said the same thing during the campaign – oh, he should go after McCain more! – but he knew what he was doing. And btw, he didn’t actually have that much trouble slapping McCain around if you remember the convention speech.
and we can’t forbid everyone from using the filibuster because St. Russ of Madison doesn’t support getting rid of it.
Fact is, whether you like it or not, he is using an anti-progressive tactic to take a progressive stand, we think, and can’t get rid of the anti-progressive tactic because he won’t support it.
It’s not that he hates this bill that bothers me, it’s that he’s reinforcing a conservative, anti-democratic tactic to do it. And you argue he should be able to because we can’t get rid of it, but we can’t get rid of it in part because of him.
If Ron Johnson came out tomorrow to kill the filibuster, I’d sent the guy money. At this point getting rid of the filibuster is my #1 priority.
Not that I disagree, but if you don’t think there’s anything that can be done to prevent a future crash, what is this legislation for in your mind then? To make sure that the next crash happens for different reasons than this one (i.e. to prevent making the same mistake twice)? To make the next crash hurt less? To do something to say “we did something”?
Not being snarky – I personally think that the “make a different mistake next time, bozos” rationale is a perfectly reasonable one. Just wondering what you think the motivation for a financial regulation bill should be.
@Nick: congrats, you’ve found two bad decisions of his and have proved nothing. some of his most important principled votes happened in non-election years (i.e. GLBA, AUMF)
That’s another thing (among many others): I think we all recognize the climate in Washington and in the country is insane. How do we get ourselves out of the insanity?
Perhaps a leader who’s calm, reasonable, willing to listen and compromise if it makes sense, and who has the country’s best interests in heart. Perhaps someone who leads by example?
I would say Obama is precisely the kind of leader America needs. But no. The Firebagger’s want a Progressive Cheney, apparently, to ram all sorts of things down all sorts of people’s throats.
I am 100% behind Obama, but I feel for him. He faces the Wingnuts who will oppose everything; the Blue Dogs who will play him; and the Holier-than-thou Firebaggers who demand Obama does… something! NOW!
There must be a grand total of 127 people out there (I’m one of them) who thinks Obama is doing the best job possible, given the material.
he may not be consciously doing it, but he is working for them. He is giving Nelson the ability to hold up this bill. He could end this now, say he’ll vote for cloture, and let the bill pass, but he won’t.
and actually since I hear Nelson is on board privately and always has been, who he’s really giving clearance to is Scott Brown…and that’s even worse IMO.
If he would just have voted for cloture, there’s a good chance that $19 billion bank tax would still be in the bill because Reid wouldn’t have had to hold off long enough for it to make news.
Reid is in a really tough race. He’s running a campaign, and he needs his base.
I don’t object to it, but I wouldn’t bet money on anything he says from now until November.
I bet Obama won’t object to it either, from any of them. He wants them to win. They’re going to distance themselves and say “I am working for you” because the whole game is Democrats (the incumbent majority in a tough year) run local races and Republicans try to create a national “wave”. You just saw the reverse, in 2006. Democrats tried to nationalize, Republicans tried to run local races.
It’s also weird how any statement that could be construed as anti-Obama is immediately credible and heart-felt, but any statement that is pro-Obama is subject to endless analysis and second-guessing of motive.
I would think the analysis and second-guessing would work both ways.
My acid test is dems who block their party by joining wingnut filibusters. No excuse for that, despite possible deeply held beliefs (cough). You know who else had deeply held beliefs. Yes, George Bush, that’s who.
The bill will likely pass, because Nelson is mostly just doing his runway strut for the press and his “independent” thinker bullshit. And if not, it will pass when Manchin selects RIP Byrd’s replacement next week.
Feingold can be a prissy stubborn prima dona, but he is our PSD.
Different day, same clown ideologues.
@Marc: And you found two good decisions of his and, again, proved nothing.
I know you asked John Cole but let me give you my thoughts as to the finreg bill and what it’s purpose is. First, there is a consumer protection agency. That is an agency that works directly for the consumers, for the little guy. That alone would make the bill worth passing and signing. Second, while it may not totally avoid the next crash (and if you study history, you will come to a realisation that, as JC says, crashes happen, they are cyclical and largely unavoidable) it does contain some pieces of regulation that are important and do minimise the amount of totally risky transactions (if not eliminate them). Trust me, as a lawyer working in a large commercial firm, the banks hate this. Third, there was a bank tax, which would have been a good thing but that was scuppered, in part by prima donna Feingold, meaning that instead of the big banks paying for this, the taxpayer and small banks pay for it through TARP/FDIC.
I will add finally that nothing – and I mean nothing – that we do now on any subject will totally eliminate the risk of something bad happening in the future that may or may not be predictable. Not very many people forecast the economic crisis before it happend, for example. So, the fact that some bill doesn’t or allegedly does not solve a particular problem that may or may not arise in the future is a completely irrelevant consideration in my view. A more relevant consideration is what the bill actually does right now. And on this basis, the bill is well worth passing no doubt about it. My problem with Feingold is not that he’s necessarily wrong but that he’s been in government for long enough to know that NO piece of legislation is perfect. I’ll bet all the money in my pocket, for example, that the McCain-Feingold law had its fair share of loopholes in it.
And the normal thing to do in this case is to analyze the bill and demonstrate that it won’t actually do those good things. Which it seems like nobody wants to bother doing.
Trying to argue that the bill is good or not by being all meta like that is basically a way of saying “I’m too lazy to understand the bill.”
@Omnes Omnibus: Maybe I’ll call and use your talking points. I’ll add my own–between mr. m and I we get fundraising appeals at least twice a week from him (and have given more than once). Right now, we’ve agreed to toss them in the trash/delete the emails–no more $$ for him because this grandstanding is BS. He’s just worried that Ron Johnson might get some traction. I guess I’m a chump, but I think Russ is smart and pragmatic enough to beat him.
some other guy
Before you accuse me of dishonesty you should quote me accurately. I never said he was working “for” the Republicans. I said he is working “with” the Republicans to filibuster this bill, which is, in effect, true. However, I’ll admit that even that might imply more cooperation than is the case. Rather than “working with” I should’ve said “voting with.”
@NonyNony: Because this legislation
1.) Makes another crash harder
2.) Makes it easier to stop one without having to directly bail out the banks
No, nothing we can do can stop another crash, because the financial industry is a core industry that cannot be allowed to fail, while other industries can fail. It also works differently than other industries because in others, when one company fails, the others come in and take over, in the financial industry, when one company fails, it creates a domino effect.
Th smart thing to do would be to completely eliminate the industry and have government take over banking, since the financial industry, like the insurance industry, is one that cannot work effectively under the rules of capitalism, but that’s almost certainly unconstitutional anyway.
So the best legislation we can get is one that will make another crisis difficult to create, and easier to manage when it does happen.
Thanks for the comment. From my read it sounds like you agree with me that “make a different mistake next time, bozos” is a worthy enough goal.
See, this is something that I don’t think a lot of people get. It’s the same with the whole “Terrorism” scare – we can’t stop terrorist attacks in the US, we can only reduce the risks. It’s the same thing with financial regulation – we can’t stop financial downturns, we can only reduce the risks and make them less painful when they happen. If this bill has stuff in there to do that – and my understanding is that that’s exactly what the “stuff that banks don’t like” is trying to do – minimize risks – then it should be passed.
I’m still not sure if the consumer protection agency bit is real, or if it’s a toothless sham though. Everything I read is in conflict – some people saying it’s a good thing, some saying it’s a toothless sham – and I can’t figure out if any of them really know, or if they’re using past performance of things like this as an indicator of future results. Kind of frustrating – it feels like all opinion and little factual analysis on that part.
God damn it, John Cole…there is so much meat in this one blog post, I am very impressed.
It’s no wonder this is now my first stop of the day.
Thank you for sharing the story about wheeling Byrd into the Senate chamber, Coburn’s prayer to Satan, and the FORMER collegial attitude of voting with the opposition. These are things I did not know of before I read this.
I like it. He is objectively pro-
Go get those goll-dad-tarned %$&*^$#@firebaggers, git! git!
And that’s really the best we can do, which does mean that the goal really is “Make different mistakes next time, bozos.” The terrorism analogy does work pretty well…the financial system is so complex that barely anybody will know the systemic risks until they’re exploited. Before that, it never occurs to anyone that it might be a good idea to lock the cockpit doors during flight.
The agency is a new idea and I don’t think we’ll have a great idea if it works or not until we try it, so most of it is a lot of push and pull based on how much power people think it should have. The main sticking point that I’ve heard is that it’ll be housed in the Fed, which would theoretically mean that they have a chain of command to go through. But there’s enough exemptions and independence that I’m personally optimistic.
@Sentient Puddle: You did some stream of consciousness type analysis on the prelim bill the other day. As you understand the bill to exist as is right now, have you formed an opinion on it?
Nony Nony, as with any regulatory agency it totally depends on who runs it and how it is staffed. Frankly, the SEC had the power and authority to do a lot that might have prevented or at least lessened the crisis but they just didn’t use it. I put that down to a lacklustre Bush administration that simply wasn’t that bothered about regulation. On one view, Obama has done a clever thing here and it’s consistent to what he did on healthcare (with the advisory board), the EPA and the FDA. He knows that Congress is absolutely no help to actually get anything done, so he just increases and expands the power of the regulators. Not great for opponents of unitary power, but not bad for people who just want things done. Of course, the next repub administration can stop funding those regulators but the good thing is that they will still be there when President Obama (Malia) is elected.
@demo woman: Feingold should be campaigning against the filibuster.
But nooooooooooooooo, Senator Braveheart is against any attempts to reform/abolish the filibuster.
Russ Feingold has a much milder case of the same affliction that warped another otherwise praiseworthy worthwhile crusader for the public good into an unwittingly oblivious, vain tool of the dark forces corrupting and destroying this country: Ralph Nader.
@Corner Stone: Worth passing. There’s plenty of concerns that things might not work as well as intended and good ideas that aren’t fleshed out enough, but it will likely do at least some good, and nothing in it will do any harm.
I’ll stick it there before I ramble on for paragraphs.
@Nick: On the contrary. You implied that Feingold only takes principled stances when he’s worried about his job. I proved that Feingold takes unpopular stances (that are popular with the base) even in non-election years.
No, actually, I never said that. If he was worried about his job, he’d vote for this bill, because I’m sure Ron Johnson is going to pound him on this.
@lawguy: Because there is an asymmetry between doing something and doing nothing. Liberals generally want to reform something; conservatives generally want to do nothing. Throw in some grandstanding, unprincipled “moderates” and you have the perfect recipe for less than satisfying legislation.
Marc, are you Feingold’s press spokesman by any chance? Nothing you say will make the fact that he is making this bill weaker by refusing to at least vote for cloture. Even if he genuinely thinks that the bill is worse than no bill, doesn’t he realise that A bill will pass and by not supporting it at its best, he’s just made it worse. I can do maths, and even if a bill is worse than the status quo, a bill that is worse than that bill is worse still.
you know, I love this blog. It’s a daily read for me. Yet, i have never understood the hostility to Glenn Greenwald i often see here, and I enjoyed the admission that, at least on the issue of the rotating cast of Democratic villains, you admit he may have had a point.
@some other guy: i apologize for the misquote. i think its unfair to say he’s doing anything “with” the Republicans. “with” implies interaction & collaboration…that they have a common goal & motivation. we know that’s not the case here.
Fair enough. Then I take it you will ask Senator Feingold to also refuse ANY out of state campaign donations as well, including those from the DNC and the DSCC?
@brendancalling: Do you honestly think my position here is as a “Greenwald basher?” I’m baffled.
@homerhk: no, i’m not his spokesperson. unfortunately i’m a feinstein constituent. i’m just a huge fan of feingold’s. and he didn’t earn my appreciation through marketing or campaign promises, he’s gained it from his actions.
Although a person can still support this legislation, pointing out one’s own dread fear that this can’t avert an intuited onrushing giganto-crash II, and that there could be (in some fantasy political reality not our own) legislation which did, doesn’t make a person crazy and obsessed with ‘the perfect’ over ‘the good’. That’s just not a high standard for ‘the perfect’. Again, this doesn’t conflict with thinking the current legislation should pass.
A pessimistic but still realist view is that of, say, Krugman, that the current legislation does good things but may be a political palliative which once passed will not lead to the legislation truly needed.
An optimistic, and probably not realistic view, but maybe, if we’re lucky, is that clear good results of this legislation once passed might miraculously make further follow-ups more politically possible, though still quite unlikely.
The Greenwald worship antenna is so finely tuned to slights they even lash out at his supporters. Maybe it was the sound in your voice.
@martha: Go for it. I think every little bit helps – especially from longtime supporters.
It’s almost as though they can use either sticks OR carrots to get people on board with their policies!
I’m sick of this bullshit. This logic from the leftier-than-thou brigade is just like John Kyl’s quote from yesterday about how you have to offset spending increases with spending cuts but you never have to offset tax cuts with anything. There’s an enormous online presence that has concluded that the only acceptable way to get someone to vote for something is to pound them with the stick. Carrot doesn’t count. Carrot is the wussy way. Stick, stick, stick! Bully pulpit! Arm-twisting like LBJ did! How does it happen? I dunno, but it better be painful!
Also, IMHO, there are not 40 liberals, 40 conservatives, and 20 in the middle. There’s more like 25-30 liberals, 30 flaming conservative nutbags, 20 nervous centrists, and 20-25 self-interested careerists. If you want more liberal policy, convert more people to liberal views and elect more liberal politicians. While you wait for that to happen, consider growing a long white beard for that extra aura of holiness. We can’t wait. We have to move the ball down the field. If Elizabeth Warren is satisfied with the bill, St. Russell Feingold can jam it up his ass sideways.
@brendancalling: Glenn Greenwald has a lot of good points. He is very good at calling out the media. He is truly a force for good.
My problem with him is he’s fucking tone deaf on political reality. Take his views on torture prosecution. He thinks we should prosecute Bush administration officials for torture…fair enough…but he seems tone deaf to the fact that the American people either support or are indifferent to torture that a trial will likely backfire, put the tortures back into power, lead to the pardon of Cheney and his ilk and only make us look worse in the eyes of the world?
I appreciate his stance, but before we start knocking heads on the issue, we first have to get the public outraged
In other Feingold news….I love this idea.
Great Lakes people will have a gut-level reaction to that in the middle of the summer. Good timing.
I think he has a focus on the executive and the judiciary because that’s how litigation and courts work.
I think he short-changes the role of the legislative branch, and, to me, that’s a big flaw, a big hole in understanding the process, and weirdly counter-productive to his main goal, which ( I think) is for all three branches to function properly, and in their constitutional boundaries.
Liberals used to be accused of wanting executive-courts to do all the heavy lifting, rather than working towards (harder) legislative victories, and there was truth to it. It was a valid charge, back in the day when conservatives made real arguments, before they went insane.
I think he falls into that trap, because, like a lot of lawyers, he’s most comfortable within a litigation model. If he wants to do broader commentary, he has to expand the way he thinks.
Just my take.
@Nick: I think both Feingold and Greenwald reject the idea that sometimes one principle can be subordinated in order to advance another. Some people find that unimpeachably noble. Others find it lofty and self-congratulatory.
Further, I think he’s most comfortable within an adversarial model, and that’s also true of a lot of lawyers.
There aren’t really good guys and bad guys in the Senate. It’s more nuanced than that, because (on the Democratic side anyway) we have some who are 50% “with us” and (depending on the issue you care about) that can be enough.
I don’t think he’s comfortable in a compromise/negotiation set-up, like Congress, because he sees the world in adversarial terms.
What John said [yeah, big surpise there, huh?], but especially this:
Folks really, really need to get better educated on the history of Congress. Every once in a while we get a Stunde Null condition, where big progressive legislation can be passed en-bloc. For example in 1913 right after Wilson was elected, benefiting from the progressive-conservative split in the GOP that broke the Republican lockhold on the govt which had lasted since 1861. And again in 1933 when FDR was innagurated in the middle of an accute banking crisis and fear that democracy itself was failing. And again with LBJ passing legislation in the wake of JFK’s death and the subsequent landslide election in 1964 – events which rocked the right back on its heels for a time.
But the rest of the time, it’s always nibbling at the edges. And right now we are not at Stunde Null, not even close. TARP and Bernanke’s actions at the Fed took care of the most accute stage of our current banking criris back in late 2008/early 2009, and the sense of immediate urgency in Congress is gone. It’s not coming back until the next crash. We can either get something done now, small beer though it may be, or do nothing. The latter option is exactly what the neo-Confederates and investment bankers want. Why give them what they want?
Also, what NonyNony at #50 said. 60 is the new 50 as far the Senate is concerned. That toothpaste is never going back into the tube, period, end of story.
I think this is very insightful, and it explains a lot about the self-selection for adversarial approaches that drives a lot of the big bloggers to see the world as they do. If everyone is supposed to be convinced of the rightness of their vews and fighting their adversaries to a clear resolution time after time after time, then you might see someone not-fighting and conclude that they must be corrupted or duped or something, because they’re just not following the script.
I like this…
I am taking training to be a court-annex mediator (for juveniles, which is my area) ,and it’s been really interesting.
It is really really difficult to drop the adversarial approach once you’re trained in it, and I (have) prided myself at being good at getting consent agreements, so I thought I’d be a natural. Hah! It’s hard godammned work getting people to agree on anything.
We do role playing and there is a LOT of laughing, because we all backslide, and go into adversarial mode.
It occurred to me that this is what legislators do all day long, and Obama is the fucking poster boy for this philosophy, is he not? Hah!
It’s ironic. We got the President who spent nearly his entire career in a legislative body, and we want the “my way or the highway” guy. Ain’t gonna happen.
It’s both his flaw and his strength, and when people look back and look at the legislative achievements, I think they’ll have to conclude that the good in that approach outweighs the bad. It’s no accident he’s racking up legislative victories. It’s what he knows.
I think you misunderstand.
I’m not calling you a greenwald basher, but I was here during the whole freakout a few months back, where there was a to-do in comments that’s still mentioned occasionally. I read comments on a daily basis, and there’s often some snarky remark about Greenwald and purity and firebaggers (from a variety of commenters). You in fact refer to it in this post (“remember when we all mocked Glenn Greenwald’s thesis about the bi-partisan rotating bad guy? Doesn’t seem so mockable anymore, does it?”).
i’ve always interpreted that as some degree of hostility (most people don’t typically mock those they’re sympathetic to), although I don’t think I’d go so far as to call it “bashing”. Perhaps that interpretation was incorrect?
And one of the key points to me anyway is that he told us that was the kind of guy he was. Constantly. Throughout the campaign he talked about consensus and working with Congress and building bridges and bi-partisanship. That was his schtick, his thing.
I don’t know if a lot of liberals were not listening, thought he was lying, or just didn’t care at the time because they knew that McCain would be a disaster. But I’ve been kind of flabbergasted over the last couple of years watching people get outraged at Obama for being exactly the kind of President that he told everyone he was going to be. The man said nice things about Ronald Reagan for crying out loud – he was never a firebreather. Even his rousing speeches weren’t of the “crush our enemies, drive them before us and hear the lamentations of their women” type. They were more “hey if we all work together great things can happen” speeches.
(That said, I’m someone who’s incredibly angry about his backsliding on torture and Gitmo and all the other national security state crap that he explicitly campaigned against at times and, I think, implicitly campaigned against at others. So I understand the anger and frustration there. I don’t get the anger and frustration about his dealings with Congress, though – that’s exactly who he told us he was. A moderate Democrat who wanted to work with Congress to pass legislation without stepping on their toes.)
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Great points. Though it’s easy to predict that if the Repugs regain control of the Senate, as if by magic, 51 votes will once again be enough to pass legislation.
Only up to the day when the Democrats actually manage to hang onto one of the 9 votes needed for cloture on a particular bill. At that point the Republicans will roll out the nuclear option.
I also predict that at that point one of the Democrats will cave and vote for cloture just to protect the filibuster. Because enough of them are just that small-c conservative that they would put protecting an outdated relic of Senates past over actually working like a modern political party.
Mediation is a way of thinking, and the people who ascribe to it feel very strongly about it. If litigation is war, mediation is diplomacy. Like that. I don’t know if I buy it to the extent that real adherents do, but I’m keeping an open mind.
We discussed the BP consent agreement ( a mediator’s dream!) and one of the trainers said a true thing, I think: she said: “Obama won’t get any credit for it because he made it look easy”. It’s not easy, at all, but “we reached an agreement” just isn’t the same as “fight to the death”
She thinks Americans like a BATTLE, with blood on the floor.
She thinks he should have made a big production out of it, tense late nights, people storming out, etc. and then he could emerge, bruised but victorious, with a big honking check :)
Give me one fucking example where that has EVER happened.
Oh, wait, I know what you’re going to say, HCR!
HCR that was passed all of four months ago hasn’t been improved on!
Q.E.D., compromise bills never get revisited.
Is that the same Harry Reid that bitched, “I don’t work on the President’s time schedule” when Obama said he wanted to see a HCR bill by the end of August?
That lying hypocrite?
You’re right about the numbers; I was trying to make a point and didn’t really stop to work out the specifics as well as maybe I should have.
Official Nullification in this post.
Because the things Feingold wanted were offered as amendments and they lost. Simple enough?
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
It’s not hippie punching, it’s childishness. Feingold is for 98% of the same stuff you are, but because he’s not with you on this one thing you implore your followers to
That’s right, you’re telling your commenters to call up a Senator’s office and be sarcastic. That’ll show him.
By the way, have you written a blog post laying out all the specific policy reasons you’re for the FinReg bill? Because it’s really a far more important issue than whether Obama gets a tick mark in his win column.
When a Senator’s actions affect a nation, you’re damn right I’m gonna call and make my voice heard. If I can donate to a primary challenger, I can affect him just as well.
Don’t be ignorant. Feingold is one of the great progressive senators. As for hoping for a republican…do you know what a republican senator from WI looks like? Try Joe McCarthy on for size.
It’s one issue, and Ben Nelson was going to be queen for a day regardless. Why again are we shitting on people on the left.
@Mumphrey: Your post was the jumping-off point for a rant that wasn’t aimed at your post. I’ve just been getting extremely frustrated at people who want to know why Democrats don’t just band together and pass the kinds of bills we out here on the blogs want to see passing. If my categories below are close to accurate, it’s not that hard to explain: it’s because only about half the caucus is somewhat reliably liberal.
No clue (14):
@Bruce (formerly Steve S.): You’d think we’d hold the same standard for people like, I don’t know, Bart Stupak, who is also with us 98% of the time, but hey, it’s different with abortion.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
Oy. Please think this through.
This FinReg bill will be the LiberalDemocrat Reform Bill of 2010. Doesn’t matter what it really is, that’s what it’s going to be in our national discourse. Liberals and Democrats will own this bill.
So when the next crash happens, as you suggest it inevitably will, it will be known as the LiberalDemocratSocialistKenyan Crash of 20__. If we’re lucky the next President we get after that will be as liberal as Sarah Palin and the Tea Party (formerly known as the Republicans) will only have majorities like the Dems currently have. If we’re lucky.
@Bill E Pilgrim:
Wow, I remember him being very supportive of the “kids” at the time
Tom Udall probably belongs in the Libs column in your list. He is also one of the senators pushing for changes to the Senate rules, to be imposed by simple majority vote at the start of the next Congress.
Bingaman is more of a moderate, but the informal state constitution requires that we always have at least one NM senator representing the military industrial complex, otherwise in these parts we’d have nothing to do all day but selling each other green chile cheeseburgers and making up new jokes about Arizona and Texas.
I agree on your larger point. The ideological outlook of the Senate has never been particularly liberal. Back in LBJ’s time there was a alliance of common interests between conservative (mostly southern) Dems and conservative Republicans which had been blocking almost everything progressives wanted from roughly circa 1937 through the mid 1960s, with rare exception. Only two types of bills could pass – watered down bills, and nothing at all. Even FDR wasn’t able to get much thru the Senate after his court packing scheme went awry. That is one of the reasons why the executive branch has steadily accumulated more and more power over the last 110 years – it was the only way to work around the Senate and get anything done.
Not a whole lot has changed recently except switching around the party labels (in that sense GG is correct about the bipartisan blockage of the day), nor will it change until progressives find a way to make common cause with people in the more rural states. So long as the rural and southern states are united ideologically, they have just enough population (combined with disproportionate representation in the Senate) to filibuster just about anything. Only an accute crisis changes that dynamic, and only for a brief time in each case.
@Bruce (formerly Steve S.):
So they’ll get more credit for doing nothing?
In any event that makes no sense. The nature of the financial industry is such that there’s nothing you can do to prevent bank failures. But there are things you can do to manage them. The FDIC does this for deposit banks, and this bill gives them the authority to do so with shadow banks as well. That’s a huge improvement over the status quo. As is the CFPA. The bill makes significant improvements on the current regulatory regime, blocking it because it doesn’t achieve a basically unattainable threshold is beyond stupid.
@Bruce (formerly Steve S.):
Nothing is more important to ‘pragmatists’ than the tick marks. Literally. Regardless of the relative worth of the legislation, they’ve been conditioned by the Clinton years (and really the Reagan years onward) to treat the entire world as being 100% against the forces of liberalism. This is why you hear the bleating about the US being a center-right nation and how liberals are really really misguided for trying to push legislation left which sounds like it came from Lee Atwater. They are literally terrified of losing, because when you lose, you lose FOREVER.
if you have some idea as to how a better bill is going to come about later, I’m sure everyone would like to hear it.
@Brien Jackson: Indeed, but that’s not what I was speaking of. I was speaking of ‘pragmatist’ needs for a 100% win record or else they feel a crushing sense of failure. Do try and keep up.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
It’s not a question of “credit”, it’s a question of which is the more defensible position. If you pass nothing and another crash happens you can at least try to blame the Republicans. If you pass your own bill and another crash happens (BTW it’s John saying this will happen, not me) then it’s a certainty that you will be blamed.
In case you missed it, I support the bill but consider it a close call, which is why I at least understand Feingold’s position, even if I don’t quite agree with it.
@FlipYrWhig: yea that carrot has been extremely successful. the carrot/stick analogy doesn’t really work with there is NO STICK! so i have no problem with carrots, as long as there’s also a stick. instead we have a group of centrists who know that if they hold out long enough they’ll get as many carrots as they want.