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Heather Barmore
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    Tuesday
    Dec212010

    The Cloture Vote

    "The men and women who put on the uniform to protect and defend the United States -- gay or straight -- do so for the same reason: love of country. So, let them serve with dignity and honor. Let them serve openly." - Jonathan Capehart

    The cloture vote is a pain in the ass. It’s one of the things that sets the representative body of the House from the far more deliberative body of the Senate. To file for cloture is to file an end to debate and end a filibuster before an up or down vote for final passage. A cloture can be a test for how a bill will fare in an up or down vote. And because we are all guilty of playing politics with policy; waiting to file cloture and end debate depends upon whether or not a leader feels that he has the votes in order to pass a bill.

    That last bit - knowing that you have the votes - is why on Saturday morning when Senator McCain took the floor and all but threw himself down kicking and screaming; he was already resigned on this fight. The votes were being counted prior to the actual votes but since this is a legislative body ‘whipping’ takes place to see where the pieces lie. McCain stood up and said that it was a ‘sad day for America’ and quite honestly I would have had more respect for the man had he just stood up and said what he really wanted to say. I mean, hell, if you’re going to be an old curmudgeon then you might as well let your bigot flag fly. The rational behind spending so much of your time worrying about a sex life THAT ISN’T YOURS is something that I have yet to comprehend. But this isn’t about why people can be assholes, this is about playing politics.

    Anyway, that morning, with the announcements of crucial votes by Senators Snowe, Collins and Brown, the leadership knew that they were on their way to 60 votes. They ended up with 63 which ended a filibuster. And, prepared the bill for final passage. Hence the reason for why debate was limited (it’s limited to 30 hours but if it’s the Saturday before Christmas and you want to get the hell out of DC, and clearly the votes are there, then there isn’t going to be an additional 30 hours of debate) post-cloture vote.

    And that, friends, for those that asked, is a cloture vote. Clearly none of this begins to explain the hysterics over both cloture votes held on Saturday; one for the DREAM act that failed by five votes and then the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Which, by the way, isn’t really a repeal so much as it lays the groundwork for the President and the Pentagon to begin the process of repeal. But back to what I was saying about hysterics and full blown temper tantrums by grumpy old men; this is not meant to explain that but I will after a few deep breaths and reigning in of my emotions. Until then you have this.

    Any questions?

    (After the cloture vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Saturday, I received a slew of emails and DMs on what the vote would mean for final passage. I wrote this diddy in response. If you have any questions feel free to email me at Poliogue@gmail.com MMkay?)
    Sunday
    Dec122010

    How to Compromise: A step by step process

    "I'm unhappy. You're unhappy too. That's what a good compromise is all about!" - Larry David

    1. Realize that something expires in less than a month so decide to start working on it two weeks before it needs to be done because you're like a college freshman with red bull, pizza and 24 hours to cram.

    2. Put on your big boy undies and realize that without cooperation and compromise with the other side shit won't get done.

     2a. People would really like for you to get some shit done.

    3. Meet with Republican leaders to produce a compromise because without them you get quagmire and shutdown and you know what's worse than not getting shit done? Having a non-functioning government, that's what.

    4. In your compromise where you give the rich everything they never really needed, you do manage to remember the oft-forgotten middle class. Yes, that middle class. The one that is shrinking to nothing.

    5. In exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits for 13 months you give those making a million dollars a massive tax break.
     
     5a. Pretend to believe in the trickle down theory.

    6. Make your compromise public.

    7. Realize that despite compromise 150 people still hate you because you dare compromise with the Devil. See also; they'd prefer you just grow some balls.

    8. Explain yo'self fool.

    9. How 'bout a beer summit? Better yet, how do we feel about vodka?

    10. WHY IS NO ONE EVER HAPPY?

    11. Rinse and repeat for the next two to six years. Yay!

    Must read: Ben Smith's Tax Cut Framework Talking Points

    Video of the Obama/Clinton tax compromise press conference via the White House:

    Thursday
    Dec022010

    The Lamest of the Ducks

    "We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability.  But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two.  "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." ~Erwin N. Griswold

    I’m crushed between two Lame Duck sessions. One of which I am more tangentially involved with than the other but still, there’s all of that milling about and waiting that comes with a Lame Duck session. Then again waiting and more waiting is par for the course when it comes to dealing with any legislative body but with a Lame Duck there isn’t an incentive to get anything done. No one is meticulously watching every move a legislator makes save for the usual suspects in punditry. Long gone are the days where voters actually cared enough to worry about every other vote a legislator made in order to use their vote to kick ‘em all out of office. Been there, done that. Those who have survived are breathing a quick sigh of relief but head back to a capital city only to be reminded of how much things are going to change. There are new sheriffs in town ready to shake things up. Ironic since during a congressional leaders meeting today at the White House, the President sat with the likes of John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Cantor, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Same as, same as but different. Or so they’d like for us to believe. Dynamics are changing and when you step into a Capitol you can feel it in the air. There are the hellos from members who will soon be departing. I force a smile back and say “Fine, and you?” when they ask how I’m doing. Then again I really don’t want to know how they’re doing as I am afraid to ask. It’s those times that I lean back and think about putting my best foot forward to run for office. The giving up of time and finances in pursuit of public service* (in my mind I ignore that some people run not for altruistic purposes but because they want to be King of the World). In the end these are the people that lose and it’s difficult to say “I’m awesome! I just got a tan and drank beers on the beach!” when they genuinely say, “How are you?” But I digress. The thing about a life in politics is the acceptance of transience. No one will win all of the time and though I kick the ground and shake my head in disappointment, we wouldn’t be the country that we are if it weren’t for the possibilities of change in power. Anyway, I’m cheerful despite the loads of Lame Ducks about. It is what it is and talking about the whys and how’s of a month ago won’t change the what is of today. Worrying about yesterday won’t help you tomorrow.

    Some highlights of the Lame Duck session, which, for the record ,is somewhat disappointing as it is when legislative bodies fear nothing so they tend to do nothing. I like to read about all of the nothing. The Tax Cut piece by Politico is my personal favorite:

    Tax cuts in Black in White via Politico

    This Week is Do or Die for DADT via Jezebel

    President Obama post Leaders Meeting

    GOP post Leaders Meeting

    *I have very strong feelings about public service. Remind me to finish getting them dow