The Shelby Shakedown

We have a label. Now we need to make it a cause celebre.

Steve Benen supplies the phrase to match “Cornhusker Kickback.” I move we make it official.

The DNC video Steve links to is pretty lame. It mentions “politics” but not “earmarks” or “pork” or “shakedown” or “extortion” or “corruption.” Time for all of us to get angry, folks. And though I like the President’s generally cool demeanor, that includes him. On this one, and on the student loan racket, he needs to show some righteous indignation.

But he can’t do it alone. He needs help from other Democratic elected officials, from the media, and from you. Start hitting your favorite media websites with angry comments. Write letters to the editor. If you’re in Alabama, or know someone who is, organize a demonstration outside one of Shelby’s offices.

All of which reminds me: I have yet to see anything from OFA on this. Is someone asleep at the switch, or are they getting together something powerful?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “The Shelby Shakedown”

  1. This is what motivates the Neo-birther movement. No doubts about the President's birtplace, but doubts about whether he ever lived in Chicago. Shelby would be in the political equivalent of a car trunk if this were Chicago politics. As soon as possible, I am going to contrive a document that shows that Obama was actually a community organizer in Burlington, Vermont. Anyone out there have any experience with creating conspiracy theories? I may need some help with technique.

  2. Yes, I agree that Obama should land on Reid like a ton of bricks for voluntarily complying with this request, which Senate rules in no way required him to do. The only thing more unreasonable than requesting the hold, was complying with the request.

  3. OFA is Organizing for America, the shell of the Obama campaign now mouldering as an arm of the DNC.

    It's hard to tell whether Brett is missing the point deliberately, or whether he's really as obtuse as he pretends to be. A "hold" is a threat to filibuster. Every filibuster now requires three cloture votes to break, with thirty hours of debate before each vote. Ninety floor hours is about two weeks' worth of sessions, at which no other business can be transacted. At last count, there were 200 pending nominations. Since 400 weeks is eight years, if Reid insisted in bringing all of those nominates to the floor and didn't bother with any legislation or appropriations, the confirmations would be finished sometime early in the first term of President Udall. And even that assumes that the Republicans wouldn't stand firm; if all 41 of them vote "no" on cloture (or just don't show up to vote) no nominee can be confirmed and no bill can pass.

    The Senate rules as they exist enable a single thug like Shelby to hold the country to ransom. So we need to change the rules. It can't be done right now, but it can be done at the beginning of the next Congress.

  4. Yeah, we should change the rules, adopt a new rule. We could call it the Reid rule: you can put a blanket hold on all nominees, except for defense-related nominees. That practice met Mark's approval during the last administration. If only Shelby would follow that practice, everything would be OK.

  5. Thomas, STFU until you have something true to say.

    Mark Kleiman :

    The Senate rules as they exist enable a single thug like Shelby to hold the country to ransom. So we need to change the rules. It can’t be done right now, but it can be done at the beginning of the next Congress."

    How can this be done? The fillibuster will be responsible for the 45 or so GOP senators (if we're lucky); combine that majority against changing the rules.

    And that assumes that Byrd doesn't have a hissy fit, and that none of the rest of the Dem senators are willing to do something which would reduce their personal power.

  6. Mark has explained before that the President of the Senate (aka Biden) could, between sessions, declare that the Senate is *not* a continuing body, and that the rules of the body have to be adopted affirmatively at the start of each session. (This is what the House does.)

    The majority could then adopt a new set of rules that have either no filibuster or a sharply curtailed filibuster.

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