Various Items

I missed the Massa press conference today. For the near future, I'll attend Massa press conferences if something big comes up, or if I haven't checked in with the Massa camp for a while.  There isn't much going on in the 29th race at the moment, and I'm not going to pretend that there is, nor am I going to insult my readers' intelligence by re-hashing stuff that's already been covered.

In the meantime, Norm Ornstein, who is a center-left expert on Congress, is participating in a conversation on the New Republic site.  I thought Norm captured the last year's follies pretty well in this paragraph:

The Senate is at the root of many of the problems Democrats faced this year. Republicans applied delaying tactics that had never been used before--on highly controversial issues as well as routine ones, and not just by filibustering, but by regularly denying unanimous consent in a body where everything moves, or doesn't, by unanimity. It had the twin effect of raising the bar to 60 on nearly every issue, and slowing down the Senate as if there were gallons of molasses poured onto the roadway. Because a filibuster can be applied as many as three separate times on a bill, and a successful cloture vote allows up to 30 hours of debate after it passes, filibuster efforts, even on widely accepted matters, can take days to resolve. And by raising the bar to 60, it meant that many matters with majority support--like limiting farm subsidy payments to non-millionaires--went by the boards. Combine these delaying tactics with the president's near-universal veto strategy, and you have a formula for gridlock.
As Norm points out, it really doesn't matter what the House does if the Senate passes everything through its sphincter of delay.  The inevitable end result will be bad compromises and kitchen-sink bills that serve petty partisan interests while they delay the inevitable reckoning that's coming on energy policy, our massive deficit, and our seemingly endless involvement in Iraq.  I think the whole exchange between Norm and a couple of other TNR reporters is well worth reading.

Also, those of you who are frustrated by the superficial yet never-ending coverage of the presidential race might want to check out Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone piece, and Glenn Greenwald's exchange with John King of CNN.


Ornstein is not center-left, Rottenbroder.

Why do you write this kind of thing?

From his Wiki:

Norman J. Ornstein is a political scientist and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative-leaning Washington D.C. thinktank (though Ornstein is usually not identified as a conservative, and is considered within AEI to be a bipartisan centrist).

I know it's fun to be play the game where everyone who criticizes Republicans is on the left, but if you've ever read Mr. Ornstein's writings or seen him interviewed, you'd realize that he's more a student of Congress than anything else.

Perhaps you consider the belief that we should attempt to have a functioning democracy a center-left position. In that case, I take back my criticism, although I disagree.

Actually, I think Norm is the best current analyst on Congress that I've seen.

In the TNR discussion, Norm says that he's a "big Rahm Emanuel fan". I thought that meant that he might be changing his politics a bit.

Not a big deal.