open threads

Open Thread

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Feb 05, 2011 at 12:09

Well, all the goodbye posts have been made, so this is really it.

Comments on articles will continue to work for seven days after the articles were posted. After that point, Open Left will become frozen in time.

This is, both ironically and fittingly, an open thread.

Discuss :: (204 Comments)

Serious question

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 13:00

Does anyone here think that working to stop GOP from destroying the filibuster in 2005 was still a good idea?

Wasn't that a mistake? Shouldn't we have helped them instead?


Taking the bait: OK, fine, I'll bit at BTD's latest diatribe against me:

Chris Bowers asks "Does anyone here think that working to stop GOP from destroying the filibuster in 2005 was still a good idea?"

The first problem with this question is that the GOP did not try to destroy the filibuster - they tried to destroy the judicial filibuster, arguing that it violated the Constitution. They would not have touched the legislative filibuster.

Point! Which many have noted in the comments.


The second problem with this question is Bowers not imagining what a GOP President and GOP Congress would have achieved with the elimination of the filibuster. You thought the actual Bush tax cuts were bad? They would be TWICE as bad without the filibuster.

Um, no.  Both the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under Bush were passed using budget reconciliation, not under normal order.  In 2001, the final vote was 58-33. In 2003, the vote was 51-50, with Dick Cheney casting the tiebreaking.

Given that both of his major tax packages had 51 votes, hard to see how they would have been twice as bad if they only needed 51 votes.

Conservatives can get tax cuts through budget reconciliation without the filibuster. They can gut regulations by appointing regulators who refuse to enforce the regulations.  Further, Dems didn't block any significant number of judges after the Gang of 14 compromise.  They didn't even come close to stopping Alito or Roberts.

If the 60-vote threshold is done away with, there will undoubtedly be conservative legislation and nominations that will pass the Senate which otherwise would not have passed.  But, that's democracy. And, on balance I do believe progressives will get the better end of the bargain.

Discuss :: (29 Comments)

Henry Rollins Open Thread

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jul 16, 2010 at 17:00

It's Friday! For me, that means the start of a long weekend of unpacking, which should finally result in having a single, functional place to live.  It will be an exhausting end to an exhausting three months, but I can't wait.

Also, Brave New Films has started a series of video conversations in conjunction with a few other blogs, including Open Left.  Here is the first one, featuring Henry Rollins, discussing whether got into punk rock because of his politics, or whether he was politicized because of punk rock.  Check it out:

Check out all the videos on Facebook at Brave New Conversations.

This is an open thread. Tell the world what's on your mind.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Changes at Open Left

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 13:15

There are some changes to the writing lineups here at Open Left:

  1. Paul Rosenberg is moving to the weekdays. Expect the same amount of content, just spaced out over five days instead of two. Congratulations to Paul!

  2. David Sirota is returning next week. He will be posting in the early afternoon, instead of in his old morning slot.

  3. I will be writing only 1-2 posts a day, almost all of them during weekdays. In about 2-3 weeks, there will be an announcement explaining why.
There is going to be just as much content here during the weekdays as ever, so make sure that Open Left remains one of your daily visits. Onward!
Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Three important updates: Wall Street reform, Pennsylvania Senate, 2010 elections

by: Chris Bowers

Mon May 17, 2010 at 14:41

Three updates on stories we are following:

  1. Wall Street reform: Reid sounds ready to file cloture: Reid on the Senate floor about 30 minutes ago:

    Sen. Reid ready to pull the cloture trigger on financial overhaul: "This cannot be delayed any longer," he said as the Senate opened today.

    This would mean the first cloture vote is Wednesday.  After that fails, the second will be on Thursday.  And then the next day, and the next, until it passes.

  2. Pennsylvania Senate: Raining tomorrow in Philadelphia: The conventional wisdom is that Arlen Specter needs big turnout tomorrow, especially in Philadelphia, in order to defeat Joe Sestak.  However, not only is Democratic turnout down this year, but the forecast tomorrow in Philadelphia is for rain.

  3. 2010 elections: No Democratic Senate candidate receiving 10% of the vote among Obama disapprovers: Public Policy Polling has some eye-opening numbers with huge relevance to the 2010 elections.  No Democratic Senate hopeful is receiving even 10% of the vote among people who disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance.  If this holds, Democrats will need Obama's approval to stay positive through November, and even then will have a difficult time winning in red states.
the combination of Wall Street reform and the May 18th primaries reaching a climax will have big implications on the 2010 elections.  I will be following these stories closely as they unfold this week.
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio results thread--Encouraging results in North Carolina

by: Chris Bowers

Tue May 04, 2010 at 18:42

And the results are in...
  • North Carolina Senate: Elaine Marshall handily defeated Cal Cunningham, 37%--27%.  However, since she did not each 40.0%+1, there will be a June 22nd run-off between the two. This isn't necessarily a negative--it will keep attention focused on the two Democrats, help both raise name ID and improve their campaigns.  Open Left will also be active on behalf of Marshall during the run-off.

  • North Carolina house primaries  Larry Kissell (NC-08) and Heath Shuler (NC-11), who both voted against health care and other Democratic agenda items, faced surprisingly stiff primary challenges.  Nancy Shakir and Alixa Wilson, each of whom had raised exactly zero dollars by March 31st, took 37% and 39% of the vote against Kissell and Shuler respectively.

    The lesson is that both Shuler and Kissell could have been defeated by progressive primary challengers, if either had faced a real campaign. Just being Vichy Democrats cost them 40% of the vote.  We have a larger base than we think, and should be playing in more primaries.

  • The rest: Dan Coats won the Republican primary in Indiana, and will likely be the next Senator from that state.  The tea party strikes out again, but might have had a chance if they hadn't split their vote.

    Lee Fisher unfortunately won the Democratic primary in Ohio, and is in a virtual dead-heat against Republican nominee Rob Portman.

    On a lighter note, Republican Congressman Dan Burton (IN-05) won renomination with 29.7% of the vote. If that isn't a record low for an incumbent winning renomination, it has to be close.

for a wider range of campaigns, check out Swing State Project.

This is an open thread to discuss the results of tonight's primary elections in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio.  All polls close in Indiana at 7:00 p.m. eastern (some close at 6pm), while all polls close in Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30 p.m.

Results websites:

The premier campaign tonight, bar none, is the North Carolina Democratic Senate primary.  The big question is not just whether Elaine Marshall or Cal Cunningham will receive the most votes, but if the winner will receive the 40%+1 necessary to avoid a June 8th runoff.

This is an open thread on the election results.

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Meta open thread: Stoller becomes the man behind the man

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 22:00

Check out this video of Alan Grayson talking on the House floor about reducing defense procurement waste.  Open Left co-founder Matt Stoller is literally the man behind the man in the video:

And speaking of both Matt Stoller and meta, it turns out a new academic study has the numbers to prove our old thesis that right-wing blogs are more top-down, and less community focused than left-wing blogs.  For those of you old-time blog junkies, you might remember our 2005 paper, The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere.

This is a meta open thread.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Friday news dump

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 17:00

A bunch of links:

  • Another bad campaign finance ruling: Federal Appeals Court unanimously strikes down the $5,000 contribution limit to Federal PACs.

  • Senate Adjourns with unfinished business: In addition to not passing an extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits, the Senate left town without passing a Medicare doc fix.  This will result in Medicare doctors receiving a 21% cut in pay starting on April 1st.  The Senate plans to solve this problem by passing an extension in mid-April that will restore the lost benefits and pay retroactively:

    Meanwhile, COBRA benefits expire April 1; a 21-percent cut in Medicare doctor payments is scheduled to take effect that same day; and the filing deadline for UI benefits arrives April 5.

    Senate lawmakers will tweak the bill to make the extensions retroactive, Reid's office said.

    The money will come, but having it come late will still cause problems for a lot of people.  Not good.

  • New foreclosure prevention program announced: The Obama administration is revamping their program to prevent foreclosures.  Once again, it takes money from TARP (which is good) instead of appropriating new funds.  I don't pretend to understand this policy very well, but Wonk Room is impressed.  It better work, because this program is probably the last best chance for Democrats to improve the economy for average Americans before the midterm elections.

  • Nuclear arms reduction treaty: Russia and the USA have signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty.  Details on the treaty can be found here.  It is a good first step, but it will face the hurdle of ratification in the United States Senate.  Anything that requires approval from that chamber is pretty much always in danger.

  • Democrats getting riled up?: Democrats might be narrowing the voter intensity gap, according to the weekly Daily Kos poll tracking poll.  Whether this holds up as the year goes on, and in other polls, is another question.  Kos is absolutely correct when writes, in his press release for the poll, that "this intensity gap will bear tracking the rest of this cycle."

  • Eric Cantor's office window bullet story  The bullet that went through Eric Cantor's sort-of office window was fired into the air as an act of random gunfire.  Unsurprisingly, Cantor's spokesperson defends Cantor originally citing the story as an example of equivalnce between left and right-wing political violence.

  • More right-wing violence: Meanwhile, a conservative attacked an Obama supporter, and his ten-year old, with his SUV.  Pretty scary.

  • Bad idea jeans: Yes, Cass Sustain would be a terrible Supreme Court Justice.

  • Progressive media news: The Nation purchases Air America's 290,000 member email list.

  • The dangers of over-promising and relaxing on health reform: David Dayen responds to my article from earlier today touting the expansion of public health insurance and public care for low-income Americans as a major progressive accomplishment in the far from perfect health reform legislation.  He is worried about complacency and overpromising:

    Student loan reform is smart and 100% defensible in concept. The Affordable Care Act involved legislative compromise and must be watched carefully to ensure it achieves the promise that many liberals are touting this week. Rather than labeling it, we have to work to make it actually operate properly.

    I don't disagree.  In fact, analogously, I think there was far too much complacency in the center-left after the 2008 elections.  Everyone was tired and happy after the election, and didn't want to work to prevent bad transition appointments like Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.  Those appointments resulted in bad policies like an ineffective foreclosure prevention program that helped far to few people, and which the Obama administration has now had to entirely revamp. And, those bad policies have resulted in an economic environment that is worse than it had to be for average Americans, which has in turn resulted in an electoral environment that is far worse than it had to be for Democrats.  And, that will result in even worse policies down the road, as Republicans and conservatives accrue more power.

    We have to always keep pushing.  I just don't think that is incommensurate with feeling good, and pointing out that we have made some gains, too.

Enjoy your weekend.  This is an open thread.
Discuss :: (16 Comments)

Big night in Congress open thread

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 18:20

I'm checking out for the evening.  If I make any updates, they will be on the twitter feed, which I will leave up in the box on the right.

In the Senate, the unemployment extension fight continues.  In the House, this phase of the health reform fight is about to end:

The bill now heads to the House, where the Rules Committee could begin action within hours. Democratic aides said a final vote on the package could come in early evening, although if Republicans throw up procedural barriers, the vote could be delayed until later Thursday night.

The House Rules committee hearing started at 4 p.m.  I think it is already over, given that it isn't on C-SPAN3.

Watch C-SPAN for live coverage.  This is an open thread.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Afternoon news roundup

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 15:51

Some quick hits:

  1. The House is expected to vote on the reconciliation bill around 6:30 or 7:30 p.m., eastern.

    Update--Actually it looks like the House will finish at 9 or 10 p.m. tonight.  They will also use "deem and pass" in order to clear the bill quickly.

  2. More info on the bullet through Eric Cantor's campaign office window:

    A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.

    Greg Sargent has more.

  3. Bill Halter gains a bit on Blanche Lincoln, according to a new Daily Kos poll (December numbers in parenthesis):

    Democratic Senate Primary
    Blanche Lincoln (D) 44 (42)
    Bill Halter (D)     31 (26)
    Undecided           25 (32)

    The primary is Mary 18th.

  4. "White powder" package sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner's office; threats made against Rep. Dahlkemper
This is an open thread.  What are you reading / watching / doing?
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Senate passes reconciliation bill

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 13:57

Update: Senate passes reconciliation bill 56-43.  All Republicans, plus Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln vote against.


Amendment voting has bee completed on the reconciliation bill.  Final vote any minute.  Senators currently thanking staff and each other for their efforts.

My updates will appear in the twitter box on the right.  This is an open thread for your comments.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Evening Health Reform Round-up

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 19:15

Updated: The Senate parliamentarian has rejected the Republican challenge to reconciliation:

Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin has cleared the way for Democrats to advance a second health care bill under fast-track budget reconciliation procedures, ruling against a Republican challenge to the legislation concerning Social Security.

Reconciliation bill will now hit the Senate floor tomorrow.


Some quick hits on health reform:

  • President Obama will sign the Senate bill into law at 11:15 a.m., eastern, tomorrow.

  • Senate parliamentarian declines to rule for now on GOP complaint against the Cadilac tax fix in the reconciliation bill.  Greg Sargent thinks this could signal the parliamentarian is taking the complaint seriously.  If the parliamentarian rules in favor of Republicans, it would change the bill.  This would either kill the reconciliation bill entirely, or force the House to vote on the bill again.

  • Even if the parliamentarian decides to side with Republicans, its true that Vice-President Biden could overrule the parliamentarian.  However, the Obama White House is simply not going to take that aggressive of a procedural move.

  • Ben Nelson opposes the reconciliation bill.  Because he always votes with Republicans, now, apparently.  He even voted against the micro-jobs bill, and the extension of unemployment benefits.  

  • The health reform bill is not popular, either in absolute terms or in historic terms.  Just because some of the opposition comes from the left does not mean it will be a political winner for Democrats in the 2010 elections.  At the same time, killing the bill would not have made Democrats more popular, because then they would look utterly ineffective in addition to trying to foist an unpopular bill on the country.

    At this point, for Democrats as a whole, the least painful political solution is to pass the bill and get it out of the headlines as quickly as possible.  That is the least painful of a range of painful options.

That's it for tonight.
Discuss :: (124 Comments)

Health insurnace reform updates

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:15

Some quick hitters on info as it comes in:

  1. Full CBO score.

  2. House Democrats had their first full caucus with the final bill today.

  3. Dem press conference at noon on the bill.

  4. Vote on Sunday afternoon.
More details as they come in.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Massachusetts results thread--COAKLEY CONCEDES

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 20:00

Martha Coakley has conceded and the race has been called.  Scott Brown wins.

I will update with final results later tonight.  Results will stop updating for a couple hours though.  Its over.

Massachusetts special election results

(1,497 of 2168 precincts reporting - 68.9%)

Coakley (D) Brown (R) Kennedy (L)
46.3% 52.7% 1.0%

Raw vote margin: Brown +95,221

Discuss :: (44 Comments)

Nine short stories

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 21:00

Link dump:

  1. Harry Reid confirms personally that Lieberman backstabbed him on the Medicare buy-in compromise.  Senior Senate aides have been saying this for quite some time, even to me.

  2. Reid also declares that Olympia Snowe was negotiating in bad faith, that she was never going to support a health care bill, and that talking to her was a waste of time.

  3. Given that both Lieberman and Snowe were negotiating in bad faith, we should have been pushing for reconciliation as hard as we were pushing for the public option.

  4. Polling from PPP indicates that freshman Rep. Larry Kissell helped his general election chances by voting against the health care bill, and did not hurt himself among Democrats too badly.

    Then again, Kissell only leads a potential primary challenger 49-15, and only 28% of Democrats know he voted against the bill. For an incumbent, those are pretty weak primary numbers-someone could actually knock him off. However, the North Carolina primary is on May 4th, so it is unlikely that a strong primary campaign would be able to gear up in such a short time.

  5. Ned Lamont's main opponent in the Democratic primary for Governor in Connecticut has dropped out.  Current polling on the campaign indicates that Ned is now the strong favorite in both the primary and the general election.  Get ready for Governor Lamont!

  6. Given how easy it is to pressure Arlen Specter from the left during a Democratic primary, isn't it extremely likely that Specter will move to the right in the general election when Toomey is pressuring him instead of Sestak?

  7. It turns out that if I delete content from a website that I--quite literally--own, then I am engaging in censorship.  I don't remember the part of the first amendment that declares everyone is allowed to use everyone else's printing press.

  8. This is the last day to submit your comments to the FCC in support of Net Neutrality. Go do it, now.

  9. The FDIC is trying to limit risky bank behavior by linking it to limits on executive pay.  The good news not just the ruling, but that the ruling is causing blowback from the conservative members of the FDIC.  This is a perfect example of the type of fights Democrats have to pick with financial institutions in 2010.  As I wrote yesterday, banks must be portrayed as the culprit, and Democrats have to come across as fighting the banks father than colluding with them.

    Keep picking fights like these, and pick them as publicly as possible.

What are you reading and thinking tonight?
Discuss :: (34 Comments)
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