Iraq kabuki: now in summer stock!

The old saying about the Jim Crow South was that, in order to keep the Negro in the gutter, the white man had to be in there with him.

Much the same, I think, with Iraq: in order for the Congressional Dems to keep the spotlight on the fubar in Iraq, they have to train said spotlight on their own impotence.

Whatever: a CQpiece today runs through some of the Iraq business to be taken during Senate floor action (starting today) on HR 1585, the defense authorization bill - S 1547 is the Senate text.

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The ´clay pigeon amendment´ explained

Three or four weeks ago, I noted Uncle Harry's plan to bring the immigration bill (S 1384) to a final vote.

It involved the exquisitely named device of the clay pigeon amendment.

The bill itself was surely dead on departure. But the shenanigan, like the melody, lingers on.

I was foggy about the mechanics of the CPA back then, and did not expect the fog to lift anytime soon.

But - like the Big Vowel sang -

Fairy tales can come true...

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Motion to recommit in the 110th House: very odd

A few minutes playing about with a spreadsheet of the 110th House roll call votes to date - the source linked here - pulled up one or two oddities which, by and by, I shall be drawn to investigate further.

Up to the start of the current recess, there have been 45 MTRs (ie, with instructions). Instructions in this context means an amendment to be made to the bill as amended in the regular process. By the rules, an MTR can only be moved  by an opponent of the bill in question.

Of these 45, 31 failed and 14 passed.

This contrasts rather starkly with the MTR stats from the whole of the 109th: 51 motions, 51 failed. (The stats for the 109th and earlier Congresses from the Voteview site.)

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War on Drugs: another hopeless case of political immobilism

Healthcare, Israel policy, the military-industrial complex: three prime examples of insane, costly, deeply damaging US phenomena which the political system is incapable of dealing with effectively.

This immobilism is, of course, to some extent caused by naked fear of the retaliation that those interests hurt by such effective measures would unleash on the pols responsible.

But there are deeper, systemic flaws which give the interests the leverage essential to their blackmail: the media and the need for vast campaign contributions spring to mind.

The War on Drugs (domestic and export versions) is another in the same category. So far as I'm aware, no credible Prez 08 candidate has proposed to end or significantly curtail it (Huffington thereon); Kerry in 04 was (as I recall) no different, with a WoD True Believer like Rand Beers a key member of his team.

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Farm bill: lesson for the lefty sphere

Last dealt with by me on June 25, the farm bill has moved on a little.

CQ in the Times did a piece on the bill outlining some of the difficulties that the leadership may face on the floor:

Party leaders are concerned the money crunch will incite an intraparty squabble on the House floor because the bill is not likely to satisfy many Democrats outside of the Agriculture panel, aides say.

Many of those lawmakers say their top priorities are land conservation, nutrition, energy and rural development -- accounts for which there is little extra money in the current version of the bill.

Among potential troublemakers fingered is Ron Kind, whose FARM21 bill I looked at in the last piece.

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Rahmbo's little game: and the 24 Dems who stopped him

In response to Brer Cheney's radical Constitutional reinterpretations, Rahmbo (I clearly wasn't paying attention!) was noisily proclaiming an upcoming legislative stunt .

(No opprobrium attaches to the word stunt in context: if ever the Congress decides to stick to legislating and nothing but, the world will be a much duller place. Besides, fish gotta swim...)

This was by no means a solo effort of the Feingold censure variety: even Senate colleagues like Durbin (whose subcommittee will be marking up the Senate version of the FY08 financial services apps bill after the recess) and Chucky Boy were talking tough.

Unfortunately, on the night, Rahmbo failed to keep his guys in line: as mentioned in my earlier piece (with links), his amendment failed.

Moreover, no fewer than 24 Dem reps voted against:

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Beware: interlopers in House roll calls!

A heads-up to those who analyze roll call votes in the US House - and a prime case of unintended consequences (or legislative arrogance):

We start (I started what seems like a week ago!) with a Hillpiece on ethics task force chairman Capuano (not a happy bunny!) which includes this:

...several influential Democrats, including Capuano, dealt Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a blow last week by voting against an amendment to the financial services spending bill that would have barred the use of taxpayer funds for the office of the vice president. The amendment failed, 209-217.

After the vote, Capuano dismissed the amendment as "ridiculous."

Wow! I thought, in sufficient strength to do a little digging.

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Gun control - Dems have the NRA covered

I've had my mind on other things the last few days, so it was only today that Jerome's heads-up alerted me to the dark (but predictable) doings in the Senate Apps Committee.

There is nothing (that I can see) on the Committee site (which is not one of the better examples); but the today's NYT editorial he links says that 5 Dem members voted with the GOP for the Shelby Amendment, which strengthens the Tiahrt Amendment.

Feel free to yawn.

However - what the Tiahrt Amendment does is to prevent the ATF from using gun purchase info in all but the narrowest ways; the Shelby Amendment backs this prohibition with criminal sanctions.

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Filibusters and polar bears: the little hypocrisies of Congressional life

A couple of Kossacks point up (though not intentionally) the advantages to politicians (and their supporters) of a short memory.

One guy rails against GOP obstructionism - balking EFCA (HR 800) by denying cloture and the ethics and 9/11 Commission bills by preventing a UCA on the appointment of conferees.

[The 9/11 Commission, I see - that was HR 1 and S 4; ethics, I don't: S 1 passed the Senate, but (so far as I'm aware) there was never a companion bill in the House (in the 100 Hours, what the House passed was a resolution (H Res 6) making changes to the House Rules). So - how can we be ready for a conference if the House hasn't passed a companion bill to S 1?]

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EFCA: Sirota gets panties in a bunch

I have no aversion to criticizing or ridiculing Dem leaders in Congress when it's deserved. (No party man, me!)

But, in general, I think that Pelosi, Reid and their helpers have played the mediocre hands they've been dealt with a modicum of skill.

Sirota complains about Harry not have secreted the card check bill EFCA (HR 800) in a must-pass bill, and thus allowed its defeat.

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