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Author Topic: Obama first year. Grades?
G2
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The economy still sucks despite the stimulus (spare G2 the bogus it 'would have been worse' argument). All predictors indicate we're heading to a double dip or at least a very flat year economically.

As for the WOT - is there any major difference in it's prosecution beyond trying to make it a law enforcement issue? We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan - in fact, even more so. Gitmo is still going. It looks a lot like Bush & Co is still running the war. A successful attack on American soil and one near miss doesn't bode well.

The legislative agenda has thus far been a spectacular flame out. Farming the entire deal out to Reid and Pelosi was a major mistake. Maybe The One will figure that out and correct it next year. If Brown wins today, even Obama taking ownership of his own agenda might not work out. This alone should hammer his GPA for the year.

Foreign policy ... all I can think of is where The One upset people like China and Costa Rica (the most recent) with embargoes. A lot of foreign leaders are ridiculing him (“Incredibly Naive” and “Grossly Egotistical”) and Russia is pushing him around pretty good. Not a great year in this department.

Obama gave himself a "solid B+" on his first year in office - with a job approval rating below 50% that seems pretty generous. G2 is going to go with a straight "D". G2 could have gone with a passing grade but for his amazing legislative failure (The One had a super majority to work with and is still floundering). G2 guesses we're hoping that his midterm grades will help out his average, perhaps it's time for double secret probation?

What do you guys think?

[ January 19, 2010, 12:18 PM: Message edited by: G2 ]

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JWatts
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President Obama finishes his first year in office without any significant accomplishments, a steady drop in opinion polls & a pretty bad economy.

Yep, its a solid D

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JoshCrow
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I would agree with his B+ assessment. I think he's made good decisions, but has struggled to pull off much of his ambitious agenda. I do not fault him for the legislative failure - I fault the Republican party overwhelmingly for putting their allegiances above pragmatism. Save for the likes of Snowe on the Senate side, it seems very few Republicans are interested in spelling out exactly what they would support, while being adamant about what they oppose. That's because it's politically easier to be oppositional than constructive. The same is even true in an online forum!

[ January 19, 2010, 01:06 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I do not fault him for the legislative failure - I fault the Republican party overwhelmingly for putting their allegiances above pragmatism.

What are you smoking? Obama had a super majority to work with, the republicans could not stop anything.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I do not fault him for the legislative failure - I fault the Republican party overwhelmingly for putting their allegiances above pragmatism.

What are you smoking? Obama had a super majority to work with, the republicans could not stop anything.
All it took was a Lieberman. The difference between a free pass and failure was one Senator.
If a single Republican had cooperated, it would have made all the difference. Therefore, I blame the Republicans.
I would like to see the Republicans get anything done with every Democrat standing against them - but Democrats tend not to do that.

[ January 19, 2010, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Viking_Longship
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G2 are you going to allow this thread to progress fairly or is it going to be a forum for you to tell everyone who disagrees with you how dumb they are?
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philnotfil
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So a bill needs a majority vote to pass, and the Democrats only control 59 of 100 seats, which means ... the Republicans kept the Obama from carrying out his legislative goals?

I'm missing something here.

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Viking_Longship
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Please enlighten me, btw, how Russia has pushed him around?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I do not fault him for the legislative failure - I fault the Republican party overwhelmingly for putting their allegiances above pragmatism.

What are you smoking? Obama had a super majority to work with, the republicans could not stop anything.
Getting 60 out of 60 people to agree on something is much harder than getting 50 out of 100 to do that. You seem to be faulting the Democrats here for being individuals with differing priorities than acting as a nearly single minded mob as the Republicans have.

And that doesn't even get into more pernicious activity like placing holds on the confirmation of appointments, where all it takes is one person to block up the works and create the current situation where huge chunks of the executive branch are operating without proper staffing.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
So a bill needs a majority vote to pass, and the Democrats only control 59 of 100 seats, which means ... the Republicans kept the Obama from carrying out his legislative goals?

You're missing the fact that the Republicans have made it so that any bill requires 60 votes to pass. If even one Democrat doesn't vote for cloture, then the bill doesn't pass. Even bills that have gone immediately on to pass 97-0 have had to invoke cloture on a party line vote to get them through.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
G2 are you going to allow this thread to progress fairly or is it going to be a forum for you to tell everyone who disagrees with you how dumb they are?

No at all but when you enjoy a filibuster proof super majority in both houses and blame the completely and utterly powerless minority for failure to do anything then it's a more than a little over the top.

G2 is not saying he's dumb - Josh is a relatively sharp cookie - G2 is saying that blaming the Republicans when they could do nothing to stop Obama is an absurd position and is patently false. The Republicans could not have stopped anything no matter how much they wanted to.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I do not fault him for the legislative failure - I fault the Republican party overwhelmingly for putting their allegiances above pragmatism.

What are you smoking? Obama had a super majority to work with, the republicans could not stop anything.
All it took was a Lieberman. The difference between a free pass and failure was one Senator.
If a single Republican had cooperated, it would have made all the difference. Therefore, I blame the Republicans.
I would like to see the Republicans get anything done with every Democrat standing against them - but Democrats tend not to do that.

They couldn't pull on even RINO's like Snowe? Hell, they didn't need her or anyone else, they could pull on even their own people. This is a failure of bipartisanship from Democrats and Obama.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
So a bill needs a majority vote to pass, and the Democrats only control 59 of 100 seats, which means ... the Republicans kept the Obama from carrying out his legislative goals?

You're missing the fact that the Republicans have made it so that any bill requires 60 votes to pass. If even one Democrat doesn't vote for cloture, then the bill doesn't pass. Even bills that have gone immediately on to pass 97-0 have had to invoke cloture on a party line vote to get them through.
You're missing the fact that the Democrats have 60 votes. If, as the head of the Democrats, Obama can't get his party to dance then that's yet another failure to lead - and the fallout of letting Reid and Pelosi take the leadership position.

Besides, they really only need 51 votes as Pelosi has been reminding us today (the "nuclear option").

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Pyrtolin
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I'd rate the first as roughly a C overall.
While the stimulus package got through, it started off too weak, and was chopped down to something that was barely able to bring some stability by the time it actually passed and it's plans for the follow that was required after being to timid the first time are tepid enough that it probably won't do much better, making the long term cost of getting back in gear rise even higher.

It's a little behind its timeline on withdrawing from Iraq, but following an established withdrawal plan. It's escalating the fight in Afghanistan, for better or worse, exactly as it promised that it would.

It has completely dropped the ball on civil rights matters, leaving those for later, even as DADT which could have been put to rest with a simple executive order, continues to cost the military many good soldiers and officers.

It continues to let itself apparently be sliding further and further to the conservative end of the spectrum by chasing the carrot on a stick of bipartisanship that the Republicans keep sliding further to the right, even as they sandbag progress by pulling out every obstructionist legislative stop that they can.

The Department of Justice in particular is doing a lousy job because of said pursuit of bipartisanship by not fully airing the dirty laundry of the previous administration and letting the current one take full umbrage when it should be actively pointing to and trying to correct the faults that lead to those problems.

It hasn't done anything disastrous, and while disappointing, I can't really say that it's overall failure to accomplish what it had hoped to is very surprising at all, except perhaps to those that were proclaiming doom and gloom at a "unstoppable" Democratic majority, if they were ate all serious and not just stirring up FUD to distract from the fact that the Democrats aren't even remotely an ideologically uniform party.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
All it took was a Lieberman. The difference between a free pass and failure was one Senator.
If a single Republican had cooperated, it would have made all the difference. Therefore, I blame the Republicans.
I would like to see the Republicans get anything done with every Democrat standing against them - but Democrats tend not to do that.

I think you have this ass backwards. Obviously both hold-out Democrats and the Republicans are equally to blame from a strict causation standpoint, but with the Republicans it's to be expected, whereas with the Democrats, that's a betrayal. If Obama wants to blame someone, he should be blaming the trouble-makers in his own party. As G2 points out, if his party had been united the Republicans could have done nothing to stop him.

quote:
Save for the likes of Snowe on the Senate side, it seems very few Republicans are interested in spelling out exactly what they would support, while being adamant about what they oppose. That's because it's politically easier to be oppositional than constructive. The same is even true in an online forum!
While it may score the Democrats rhetorical points to attack the Republicans for being the party of "NO" and for having no alternative plan, I don't see this as being a particularly compelling or rational argument. The Republicans are under no obligation to propose an "alternative" solution to a policy they wholeheartedly oppose. It is perfectly valid to say that you oppose any major change to the system. Only the Democrats talk about healthcare in "crisis" and the need for drastic change. This hyperbole is self-serving, and I don't see why the Republicans should be forced into a false dilema between Obama's radical change and a "compromise" solution.

If the Democrats don't like the Republicans' position they are free to use their majority to push through whatever plan they like - assuming they can agree amongst each other.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
I think you have this ass backwards. Obviously both hold-out Democrats and the Republicans are equally to blame from a strict causation standpoint, but with the Republicans it's to be expected, whereas with the Democrats, that's a betrayal. If Obama wants to blame someone, he should be blaming the trouble-makers in his own party. As G2 points out, if his party had been united the Republicans could have done nothing to stop him.

To be pedantic the democrats have 58 senators and two independents who caucus with the democrats. Lieberman campaigned for John McCain and was one of the significant hold outs on the health care bill.

[ January 19, 2010, 02:57 PM: Message edited by: yossarian22c ]

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Aris Katsaris
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Why does the American system allow fillibusters?

And calling Lieberman a Democrat makes even less sense than calling OSC one.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
To be pedantic the democrats have 58 senators and two independents who caucus with the democrats. Lieberman campaigned for John McCain and was one of the significant hold outs on the health care bill.
Technically true. But my understanding was that blue dog Democrats, while not outright opposing Obama in many areas, were essentially blackmailing him and watering down the bill and also sapping Obama's momentum.

By the way, I want to say again that I really wish that those who would fillibuster were actually forced to fillibuster. It pisses me off that this extraordinary political tool has basically become commonplace, rather than the nuclear option it was supposed to be. If senators want to fillibuster, let them read the telephone book out of their sleeping bags.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
And calling Lieberman a Democrat makes even less sense than calling OSC one.
He was the Democratic Part's vice presidential nominee back in 2000. I'd say that gives him alot more Democratic street cred than OSC, who hasn't supported the Democratic party since the 1960's, apparently.
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TCB
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Jasonr said:
quote:
Only the Democrats talk about healthcare in "crisis" and the need for drastic change. This hyperbole is self-serving, and I don't see why the Republicans should be forced into a false dilema between Obama's radical change and a "compromise" solution.
That's actually not true. I don't know of any serious Republican policy-maker who doesn't believe (per their own web sites) that health care costs are rising unsustainably fast, and that the problem of uninsured people needs to be addressed legislatively.
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whitefire
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"That's actually not true. I don't know of any serious Republican policy-maker who doesn't believe (per their own web sites) that health care costs are rising unsustainably fast, and that the problem of uninsured people needs to be addressed legislatively. "
Yes, that's an issue, but conversely, they man not think that massive new government regulation is the answer.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Yes, that's an issue, but conversely, they man not think that massive new government regulation is the answer.
In short there will never be a healthcare crisis as long as We The People maintain the option of letting poor sick people die.
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whitefire
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As for a grade, how about "incomplete"?
But if that's not an option...
I'd say the "stimulus" for 09 was a failure from most perspectives since a. it spend a lot of money we had to borrow, and b. wasn't spend quickly so there could be any reward reaped from it.
I know some folks that were giving him a lot of credit during the election because of the rhetoric, the thought that we can make the world a better place (IE. "Yes we can"). They were jaded against the entrenchment of our political system, and the thought that we could do nothing to change it. When Obama came along people thought maybe we were getting the president we see in the movies.
Obviously most of that enthusiasm has cooled. I don't even see him being the kind of cheerleader the country would need to get us out of the funk we've been in. I'm disappointed that someone with that kind of rhetorical flair hasn't done anything more with his gift.
I would say he's a pretty typical politician with some "outstanding" (for good or bad) characteristics.
So where do I rate typical politicians D (+or-).
Lets see where he goes from here.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
While it may score the Democrats rhetorical points to attack the Republicans for being the party of "NO" and for having no alternative plan, I don't see this as being a particularly compelling or rational argument. The Republicans are under no obligation to propose an "alternative" solution to a policy they wholeheartedly oppose. It is perfectly valid to say that you oppose any major change to the system. Only the Democrats talk about healthcare in "crisis" and the need for drastic change. This hyperbole is self-serving, and I don't see why the Republicans should be forced into a false dilema between Obama's radical change and a "compromise" solution.

You say they oppose policy, but it's already been stripped of the components that were the chief source of their opposition. Can you in fact name an aspect of the Senate bill that Republicans are opposed to? I'll bet you can offhand... you'd have to look it up, and it's because with the public option gone their objections are without much substance (i.e. "death panels"), and are merely a kind of half-hearted booing at the "opposing team". Moreover, the health care crisis is not some manufactured dilemma - it's a strictly numerical, factual problem. Republicans would do well to propose a concrete solution, whatever it may involve, even if it's just "cut taxes" or whatever. Staying put is not an acceptable answer when a problem is approaching.

[ January 19, 2010, 04:08 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
You're missing the fact that the Democrats have 60 votes. If, as the head of the Democrats, Obama can't get his party to dance then that's yet another failure to lead - and the fallout of letting Reid and Pelosi take the leadership position.

Besides, they really only need 51 votes as Pelosi has been reminding us today (the "nuclear option").

Nobody - not you or I - wants to see them press that button. It's unfortunate that the system is set up such that cloture is necessary - 51 votes is how it OUGHT to be, but now we see what the real tally is on any issue of significance.

I give the legislative system a D, regardless of who is in charge of it.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
Why does the American system allow fillibusters?

The filibuster is a relic of a different time in American politics. I believe the philosophy was that as long as people were interested in debating or changing each others minds that debate should continue. However times have changed, issues are no longer debated on the senate floor anymore. All of the decisions and negotiations take place in committees or offices. Now each political party cares more about staying in power than doing good for the country so the filibuster is abused. If the filibuster isn't going to be eliminated I think the rules need to change to require 40 senators vote to extend debate instead of requiring 60 senators to end the debate. This change would require that the minority stay on the senate floor instead of the majority party.
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KidB
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I give him a C-.

Trying to be the unifier/bridge-builder/consensus maker or whatever was a bad move from the get-go. He started from a fundamentally weak position. Wrong move at the wrong time.

His economic policies have not worked - they were anemic an unimaginative.

WOT - it's just Nixon/Johnson all over again.

I give him some credit for advocating a re-negotiation of Nafta, and for nominating a rational human being to the SCOTUS.

EDITED TO ADD: I do not blame Republicans anywhere near as much as Obama for misspent political capital.

[ January 19, 2010, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: KidB ]

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
Why does the American system allow fillibusters?

Well, the filibuster was used in Rome, and is currently used in a lot of Western Democracies. Canada, UK, France, US, etc...

A filibuster, or "speaking or talking out a bill", is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body whereby one attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a proposal by extending a debate on that proposal.

Link

The original premise was that if legislation was so bad it couldn't get 2/3rd's of the Senators to support it, it wasn't worth passing.

That was later watered down to 60% by a Democratic Senate, presumably to keep the Republicans from filibustering them.

Later the requirement for an actual filibuster was watered down so that the Senate could be filibustered without an actual filibuster (talking on the floor) taking place. However, the Senate Majority Leader still has the right to insist on a actual filibuster.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
In short there will never be a healthcare crisis as long as We The People maintain the option of letting poor sick people die.
Bingo.

A "crisis" is by definition something acute that demands immediate attention.

There have been uninsured and underinsured forever in your country, and healthcare costs have been prohibitive for ages. Nothing has changed in the past 10 years to provoke a "crisis". There is no "crisis" in reality. This is a word used by politicians as a catchphrase in political speeches. Everything is characterized and sold as a "crisis" so that it will seem more urgent and action more justified. Haiti is a crisis. Healthcare is just a mess, but a longstanding one.

quote:
Moreover, the health care crisis is not some manufactured dilemma - it's a strictly numerical, factual problem.
The "problem" is certainly not manufactured. The "crisis" certainly is.

The solution? I can't tell you I even fully understand what the hell the Democrats are proposing. I understand and support socialized medicine i.e. government run healthcare, but what the Democrats are trying to push through seems to fall under the category of "something is better than nothing", even where that "something" is a monstrous chimera of a system that doesn't appear to improve on the status quo.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
In short there will never be a healthcare crisis as long as We The People maintain the option of letting poor sick people die.
Bingo.

A "crisis" is by definition something acute that demands immediate attention.

Health care spending is expected to reach nearly 20% of America’s GDP within the next 10 years, when the boomers retire, and the cost of health care is rising at least twice as fast as the rate of economic growth.

This isn't something demanding immediate attention? When SHOULD it be handled?

I suspect this IS a crisis for anybody who has crunched the numbers and looked ahead in the prospectus. It demands attention NOW so as to not become a problem LATER.

[ January 19, 2010, 06:46 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
The original premise was that if legislation was so bad it couldn't get 2/3rd's of the Senators to support it, it wasn't worth passing.



That's not true at all, given that the 2/3rds cloture rule wasn't adopted till the early 20th century. In fact, in the documents discussing the creation of the legislative branch, requiring a super-majority to pass legislation was noted as a sure path to complete ineffectiveness.

quote:
That was later watered down to 60% by a Democratic Senate, presumably to keep the Republicans from filibustering them.


Beefed up to 60% of all Senators arguably, from just 2/3rds of those voting as it was before. (Thus no leaving just two or three guys in the room to sustain it. Either you were there in force or the majority of those present could break it. And it was the Dixicrats, not the Republicans that tended to be the ones leading the filibusters.

quote:
Later the requirement for an actual filibuster was watered down so that the Senate could be filibustered without an actual filibuster (talking on the floor) taking place. However, the Senate Majority Leader still has the right to insist on a actual filibuster.
Dual tracking- the ability to put legislation on the back burner if it was filibustered or otherwise bogged down- was introduced in the 60s, the change to 60% of sworn Senators happened in the 70s.

You should also make note of the fact that 1993 marked an important turning point in the use of the filibuster, when the Republicans realized that it could be used to undermine the majority party and make them look ineffective instead of just being saved for use against highly objectionable legislation- they used it as a ploy to take control of congress and began using it heavily as regular policy. The Democrats pushed it up a bit more during their time in the minority, but then when in the 07-08 Congress, when the Republicans were in the minority again, they pushed it up to record levels. There were 112 cloture filings in that session, compared to 61 in 01-02, which was the heaviest session for the Democrats.

In the past 3 years it's gotten to the point where everyone just assumes a filibuster as a given and say that the Senate needs 60 votes to pass anything, which was never true till then.

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bringer
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Not all Democrats are liberal.
The property 'liberal' slides on a relative scale.
It's more like being relatively 'sick' than being relatively pregnant.

But far be it from me to arbitrate on whether you're sick or you're pregnant.

But I will assign you to one of three groups.

By oversimplifying (my specialty) the leadership vs. the governed is a relationship that has varied little. It's rather simple.

This relationship has been either:

The lords vs. the livestock (yes, human livestock)

or

The masters vs. the servants

or

The third kind who serve each other. Willingly. Sometimes doing so by battling the lords, their cattle, the masters, and their servants.

Of course, this is an assertion and might be contested by, say, one of the more enlightened servants or one of the less cannibalistic of the lords. Translating - that would perhaps be a Democrat who is a conservative or a Republican whose employees have more take home pay than he/she does.

The rest will no doubt just keep serving and lording. And some will both serve and milk and be milked. And be master. Maybe even meekly. But still master.

So it can get complex, more so if you throw in democrat or conservative or republican or liberal.

But it is simple.

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hobsen
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Here I agree with jasonr that Obama made a mistake by trying to address health care at this time. Regardless of how serious the health care situation may be, the fact is that it was the economy and employment that were a lot worse in 2009 than they were in 2007, and not health care. Successful U.S. leaders tend to believe that voters can address only one issue at a time, as Lincoln famously illustrated by saying he cared nothing about slavery as compared to saving the Union. He certainly got more support by asking voters "Do you want the Union preserved?" than he would have by asking "Do you want to free slaves?" Similarly I think Obama should have invested all his political capital into trying to fix the economy, or at least look as if he were fixing it, and not into reforming health care. The emphasis on that makes him look as if he is neglecting what is most wrong with the country, and the voters will punish him and his party for that. Maybe that is a bad system, but it is the system we have.

As a grade I should say Obama's performance has been barely passing. Since letter grades have different meanings in different systems, I hesitate to assign one of those.

[ January 20, 2010, 01:01 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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TommySama
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It isn't even midterms and we're giving him a grade? He probably gets a "see the instructor immediately."
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Viking_Longship
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Domestically I'd give him a C+, internationally he gets an A. Just getting elected (which is a credit to the American voters, not him) undercut the international meme that Americans are inherently racist. In office he's generally handled foriegn leaders as competanty as any president since Bush 41, a man who knew how, but also made reasonable mistakes that were inflated by an ignorant media.

Domestically he's let the bankers get away with too much and not handled the tea party movement in a constructive way (Barry imagine they're not Americans and use your diplomatic skills)

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Greg Davidson
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B-

In December 2007, I heard David Gergen speak, and he said that the next President would inherit the worst set of challenges since World War II. Subsequently, the economy tanked.

The rate of improvement in the economy has been far more rapid than under Ronald Reagan (unemployment was still over 10% in the third year in Reagan's term). G2 should speak with the right wing American Enterprise Institute which disagrees with him in crediting the stimulus with significantly reducing the decline in the economy.

If McCain/Palin would have been elected, we would likely be in a much worse situation. More war in Iran and Georgia? Crazy things like suspending his campaign for a meaningless crisis summit?

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
He probably gets a "see the instructor immediately."

That can't be good.
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TommySama
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It can't be too bad, as his instructors seem to be Paul Ruben, Voldemort, and Moriarte. He seems to have been doing their bidding lately, so they are probably not too upset with him
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
It can't be too bad, as his instructors seem to be Paul Ruben, Voldemort, and Moriarte. He seems to have been doing their bidding lately, so they are probably not too upset with him

I'm pretty sure getting a "see the instructor immediately" note from Voldemort is something to avoid.

I don't imagine anybody ever got a second one. [Big Grin]

[ January 20, 2010, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

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Daruma28
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Obama's Grade?

He gets an A.

He is most certainly doing everything he's supposed to be doing.

quote:
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.… Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies. - Carroll Quigley, Tragedy & Hope

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