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Senate Votes to Limit Filibuster of Nominees

No more filibustering of presidential appointees. The Senate voted today to end it. Via the New York Times:

The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, a move that will break the Republican blockade of President Obama’s picks to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. The change is the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation.

This is a big deal for the judiciary. Republican efforts to thwart Obama's picks will be diminished, particularly on the influential DC Circuit Court of Appeals which has three vacancies.

Overall, there are 18 vacancies on federal appeals court and 75 on federal district courts.

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Tuesday Afternoon Open Thread

In case you haven't heard, the United States of America is shutting down in the next few days, as a bunch of lunatic morons, enabled by "serious people," refuse to allow the paying of bills by the government.

It was a nice country for a while anyway.

Open Thread.

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Government Shuts Down

Republicans are stupid. They shut the Government down. The public will be unforgiving.

Boehner refused to yield. He instead won approval, in a 1 a.m. largely party-line roll call, requesting a special House-Senate committee to meet in the coming days to resolve differences between the two parties, leaving in limbo the fate of millions of federal workers and the services they provide.


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Countdown to Shutdown or Compromise

The countdown begins. Will Republicans let the country fall apart? We've been down to wire several times in recent years but the media isn't holding out much hope for a compromise. From the NY Times:[More...]

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Government Shutdown: Law Enforcement Exceptions

I don't believe there will be a government shut-down on October 1. I think the Republicans will cave before then and a continuing resolution will be passed.

But, if there was, what would it mean for the federal courts and law enforcement? Would the DEA have to shut down wiretaps and put pending investigations on hold? Would it mean a suspension of DEA and FBI busts? Would DOJ be unable to prosecute cases? Would the NSA have to suspend its electronic surveillance programs?

According to the 2011 DOJ contingency plan, the answer to all of those questions is "No." All services essential for national security and public safety—including law enforcement are safe. The DEA, NSA, FBI, ATF, US Marshals and Bureau of Prisons will be open for business as usual. [More...]

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Michelle Bachman 's Exit

Michelle Bachman is not running for reelection. I can't think of any reason to care. I've never devoted even a single brain cell to thinking about her. Sounds like it's time for her to retreat into the obscurity from which she came. Unless she gets indicted, she's now less than a footnote in the history of national affairs.

If anyone wants to discuss her, here's a thread to do so.

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Hearing on IRS Underway

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller is testifying now. You can watch here.

Also expected to testify: Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman. Shulman was in charge when the targeting began in 2010.

Miller says the targeting was not partisan-engendered.

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Acting IRS Director Steven Miller Resigns

President Obama tonight announced that Acting IRS Director Steven Miller has resigned, at the request of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

A transcript of Obama's remarks at his press conference tonight is here.

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AG Eric Holder Grilled by Congress

Attorney General Eric Holder is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. You can watch live here.

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Failing To Respect The Third Rail

Setting aside the policy implications of Chained CPI, what the President and his men have discovered today is that there is still a lot of juice in the Third Rail. There are protests against characterizations of President Obama's budget proposal as a "fumble." The protest is 'these are smart people. They know what they are doing." I think this misunderstands the "fumble" description.

I'm not someone who thinks President Obama made this proposal knowing it would be rejected out of hand. I think he thought he could get to a Grand Bargain from this proposal, picking up a little support from the GOP and a lot of support from The Media and these combined would let him muscle this through the Democratic caucuses.

More . . .

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Why President Obama's Chained CPI Pre-concession Was A Mistake

The People's View writes:

Why Obama and Democrats Should Strike a Grand Bargain and Leave Behind The Great Progressive Resistance When everyone digs in their heels, nothing gets done. As I have noted earlier this week, Paul Ryan apparently doesn't remember that his party and his ticket lost the election largely on the merits of their budget plans. House Republicans are digging in their heels, furiously opposed to any additional revenue and hell bent on ending the social safety net. But there also seem to be plenty of Democrats and liberals digging in their heels - Bernie Sanders being the leading contender of the mantle of Leader of the Great Progressive ResistanceTM - and are declaring themselves adamantly opposed to any meaningful reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The argument appears to be that pre-concessions from the president and Democrats are necessary, and ultimately a good thing, because if they do not make a pre-concession, nothing will get done. I disagree with this negotiating approach. While it is true that Obama and the Dems can "get something done" by conceding points to the GOP, it is not by definition a good thing to get that "something" done. Moreover, the president does not even get credit for the pre-concession anyway.

More . . .

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Habemus Papam: Pope Francis I

New York Times:

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to ever lead the church.

The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

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Hugo Chavez Passes Away


President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.

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The Post Mortem On The Post Partisan Unity Schtick

Ryan Lizza writes:

[T]the fact that Barack Obama now so appreciates the limits of his office and his lack of Jedi powers is rich with irony. As I’ve written about before, the premise of Obamaism— from his famous convention speech in 2004, through his primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, in 2008, right up until the later half of his first term—was that Obama was a politician uniquely suited to transform American politics by breaking through the polarization in Washington and bringing the two parties together.

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Not A Dime's Worth Of Difference

Regular readers will remember my description of the policy differences between then political rivals President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as not being "a dime's worth of difference." After watching their joint appearance on 60 Minutes, I feel vindicated:

The president lavished praise on Mrs. Clinton for her discipline, stamina and talent. And they put a glossy shine on history by brushing off the tough primary attacks five years ago as the product of trying to find differences where, they now say, there actually were not that many.

“Despite our hard-fought primary, we had such agreement on what needed to be done for our country,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Made for tough debates, by the way,” Mr. Obama added, “because we could never figure out what we were different on.” “Yeah, we worked at that pretty hard,” she said.

It was a rather extraordinary event. And to my eye, a real degree of warmth, and yes, chemistry, shone through. Was Obama tapping his preferred successor? Not formally of course. But it seemed rather clear to me. Time will tell.

Speaking for me only

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