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May 19, 2005


Perhaps if Mr. Miranda is ever tried before a jury, a simple majority of the jurors should suffice to convict him.

Interesting note of the day:

Hilary Rosen writes that the military base closings were intentionally released last week to provide a pressure point on the filibuster vote.

Remember how they're cutting bases in Maine?

If this is true, they're going to try to win this dirty, in the style of the Medicare Prescription Drug vote in the House.

For a while, I've been thinking that the GOP really didn't care if they lost this vote. They could use it in 2006 if they lost, and the wingnut base would be OK with Frist if they thought he'd tried. But if Rosen is right about BRAC goodies being offered, they're going to the mattresses to actually win.

Interesting days ahead. I'd guess that on Monday morning, no one will yet be sure about which way this is going to go. The game is Long Arm of the Leadership vs Self Interest of the Moderates, and midway through the 3rd quarter, it's a tie game.

They're gonna lose those bases anyway. It might be the excuse Collins uses to roll over, but I don't think Snowe is going to change her mind.

So that's a wash. That's about how I thought it would come out.

I was pleased to hear Dick Durbin bring up Miranda today during the debate.

He also got in a wonderful line about how the Republican senators were like cocker spaniels in a room full of pit bulls.

Head Counts

So who are the Republican 6? The WaPo listed them in Friday's paper as:

John McCain
Olympia Snowe
John Warner
Mike DeWine
Lindsey Graham
Susan Collins
Lisa Murkowski

Now, that's not 6. That's 7. Odd. Add to that a name they list as working with the group, but not part of it:

Arlen Specter

Also odd is a name not on the list.

Lincoln Chafee

Chafee, of course, along with McCain, and Snowe is committed to defecting. So now we're up to 9 Republicans in play, with 3 committed, and 6 necessary to stop the madness.

Add to that another interesting fact in the WaPo story:

On Wednesday, a deal was close, but it was shot down by Harry Reid. That means the Democratic group is working for the leadership. If you're doing the math at home, that's a crucial point.

How does it all add up?

It all means that as of now, Frist doesn't have 50 votes, and that the Republicans are negotiating from a position of weakness. Reid is able to dictate the terms of the eventual agreement, with an eye toward keeping as much freedom as possible for the coming Supreme Court fight.

Now of the 9 above listed Republicans, I'm sure at least a couple are working for Frist - probably including Murkowski and Graham. But as of now, less than 4 are. So while my conclusions change daily, for today at least, I'm going to conclude that Hilary Rosen is wrong, and that what is going on on the floor is just Kabuki for the wingnut base. No one is going nuclear, what is being worked out is some elaborate face saving, and Self Interest of the Moderates wins the fight.

It sure is a tough bet. But while I don't doubt the sincerity with which most of those Republicans are working to avoid the nuclear option, I also don't think their alternative to a negotiated settlement is a no vote on the motion to table.

I still look for Murkowski, DeWine, Warner and Collins to flip. The other two are wild cards, but if it looks like Frist is going to win, I'd could be talked into giving better odds on Graham standing pat than Specter.

I've also been thinking about how the Administration might be using the simmering Downing Street disclosure to pressure people like Hagel, who may have finally caved.

Without no true Senate, it will be even harder for Dems for force attention to important issues--like investigating whether the lies about WMD were deliberate, as Downing Street would suggest. I can see Hagel being swayed by the desire to prevent the whole facade of American legality from falling.

But then again, maybe Hagel really does want to pander to Dobson.

"But then again, maybe Hagel really does want to pander to Dobson."

Hagel is running for President, and is making a smart political decision for himself in voting with the leadership. 2008 is wide open on their side, and there could well be a market in the primaries for a McCain-like figure who the base doesn't hate.

"I still look for Murkowski, DeWine, Warner and Collins to flip."

Perhaps. But the dynamic here is very different than in the Bolton fight where everyone understood that the Republicans were going to come home in the end. (And where Voinovich's courage was a true surprise.)

Here, the moderates would be giving up some very real and tangible power to stand with the leadership - in weakening the rules, they risk a shift from being the crucial votes near cloture to being the impotent moderates of the House.

Specter was weird in his floor speech. Physically, he looks like he's speaking from beyond the grave. The dude actually looks like a specter or phantasm.

And his talking points were all over the place and idiosyncratic, echoing neither the R's or the D's.

But at the end, he indicated he'd be astounded if the G-12 didn't do a deal.

Why is Manuel Miranda filibustering the federal courts?

Pardon me? He's stalling for the arrival of Nov. 8, 2006, when Duhbya the Lame will give him his get out of jail free card.

Here, the moderates would be giving up some very real and tangible power to stand with the leadership - in weakening the rules, they risk a shift from being the crucial votes near cloture to being the impotent moderates of the House.

This, I think, is a very very intriguing aspect to this whole thing. Part of that equation, it seems to me, would be to what extent Frist is annoyed by/quietly supportive of these compromise negotiations. And, also, how much Frist holds a grudge. In other words, how much are these negotiators already being cut out of the priviledged circles?

Reid met with a bunch of columnists today and seems to have given the impression that he has 4 Repub votes. That would be one more than publicly known.

To my horror and chagrin, I have to go on a field trip with the BLM on Tuesday, to see about a proposed gold mine at South Pass (WY), the historic corridor that opened the west for the Oregon/California/Mormon/Pony Express historic trails. Important work to ensure this Canadian company doesn't suddenly get a permit to do cyanide leaching next to this historic treasure, but DAMN, did it have to be that day? It took great skill and major tips from BLM employees to get me -- a lowly citizens advocate for historic resources -- an invitation.

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