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Posts Tagged ‘senate’

Or at least, it may feel that way to one Harry Mason Reid, currently Senate Majority Leader.

With the election – at last – of Al Franken, the Democrats have the “filibuster-proof supermajority” of which much has been said.

However, I think such things as the recent House vote on Waxman-Markey (the ‘climate change bill’) show that there is no such thing as party unity within Team Blue. That vote saw some moderate Dems vote no due to its potential effect on their constituents, and some highly liberal Dems vote no because the bill was not progressive enough.

Surely the Senate is blessed (or plagued) with the same diversity of opinion.

Can we assume that Al Franken and Arlen Specter will vote the same way on… well, anything?

Reid has often said that if only he had a supermajority at his disposal, he could ensure passage of a great many bills on the Obama agenda – but does he, really and truly, have the votes?

In practice, the Dems may now be able to come together enough to force down the threat of filibusters, but the bills will still have to stand on their own merits, or fall on the lack thereof.

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Oh, sure. I put up a politics-related post, and some misfit senator has to go and make a party switch. Way to go, Arlen Specter. Thanks for ensuring that you’re the only political thing anyone wants to read about on a day when I posted about something entirely else.

Aw, who am I kidding? It’s pretty sweet. The Senate has another Democrat. Admittedly, it’s a guy who was the Dems’ easiest target when they needed to win a vote from across the aisle, but it serves to send the message that the Republican Party is increasingly becoming a minority party simply due to their incessant attempts to play to the hysterical far-right base.

This switch doesn’t mean that much in terms of the actual votes. Sure, the Republicans don’t really have the option to threaten a filibuster any more (especially if/when Coleman runs out of options and Franken finally gets seated), but Specter and the other more moderate Senators on both sides will still be voting their consciences rather than sticking to the party line. Otherwise, nobody would actually give a flying fuck about Senator Nelson other than his Nebraska constituents.

What this means, perhaps crucially, is that in 2010, when Specter is up for re-election, he will probably get the Democratic party nomination and beat Pat Toomey handily. Had he stayed Republican, Toomey would probably have beaten him out in the primary and the Senate would have lost a longtime voice of reason. (NB: by ‘reason’, I mean an intelligent, level-headed moderate. I don’t always agree with Specter, but I don’t hold with extreme ideologues on either side.)

Despite the general inclination to vote his conscience, though… in order to consolidate his position as a Democrat, Specter may throw his backing behind some of the more crucial reforms of the Obama agenda which he otherwise might not have; this would make it all the more likely that he gets the nod in ’10.

So welcome to the party of Yes, Arlen Specter. Good to have you.

Now if we could just get Norm Coleman to FREAKING QUIT ALREADY. YOU LOST. GET OVER IT.

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In order to help me keep my electoral math straight, I created a spreadsheet to track the likely winner of the Presidency next Tuesday, entering my own projections plus data for about a dozen relatively realistic alternate scenarios.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I also added in worksheets to track the House, Senate and gubernatorial races (including my projections for each one of the roughly 480 races involved), plus one to provide me a running timetable of when the polls in each state will close.

OK, maybe now I’m the only one.

I think of this as geeky. D thinks I’ve strayed well into nerd territory.

However, if anybody else is inclined to use a tool like this, or just keep it handy as a running scorecard while watching Tuesday’s coverage, let me know and I’ll either put it up for download or email it to you directly.

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