Gridlock and Opportunity

The next session of Congress is either going to be complete gridlock, or an era of great bi-partisanship. I say this based on this chart from Nate Silver. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s Nate “the man who got all the numbers right when everybody else got them horribly wrong” Silver:


Let me point out the obvious. It takes 218 votes to get most things done in the House of Representatives. Neither the mainstream Republicans nor the Democrats (with or without the Blue Dog crowd) have those votes. The Tea Party has become a de-facto third party. To get anything done, there will have to be a coalition and/or a compromise: either between the two parties, or with the Tea Partiers. This should be obvious to both Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi. The President already said it out loud. As Mr. Silver points out, on this and pretty much every bill in the next session, Mr. Boehner “will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.”

Nobody knows if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Was Mr. Boehner’s ill-named “Plan B” a symptom of his increasing irrelevance, or an attempt to enter a Post- Norquist political world? Will the 113th Congress be a more sane and bi-partisan body, or a place where the right hand and the left hand quite literally don’t know what the other is doing? Let’s hope for sanity.

In Closing: military research saving lives on battlefields and eventually on American streets; why re-invent public education with things we aren’t even sure work when we can just crib off Massachusetts?; yeah, it turns out there were good guys with guns at Columbine and it didn’t help (at least the good guys didn’t injure more students); and maybe this deserves more thought.

Wake-Up Call

Wake up call! Come home from the polls
With another one in my Senate!
Don’t you care about Ted anymore?
Care about Ted? I don’t think so!

No 60 votes, health care bill in trouble
So I had to shoot it dead.
Won’t come around here anymore.
Come around here… I don’t feel so bad!

Yesterday, everybody went crazy trying to figure out what went wrong and what was going to happen next. So what went wrong? You can’t blame it all on Coakley’s terrible and tone-deaf campaign as much as some people would like to. The party has to take some blame for not delivering on very darn much.

Very interesting that all of a sudden today, we are talking about financial services reform. The administration spent a year playing nice and begging the banks to do likewise, and now we’re playing hardball. Go figure! My theory is that it’s a combination of quid pro quo (they didn’t do their part towards making sure that seat went to a Democrat, any Democrat), and a desire to at least appear that they are finally going to protect the American people from the predatory financial services industry that has been robbing the economy blind.

So, let’s hope the Democratic party takes the situation in Massachusetts for what it is: a wake-up call. They have 10 months to get their act together! That means doing The People’s Work, and not just for show.

In closing: reasons profiling won’t catch terrorists go beyond Tim McVeigh; don’t feel too bad about your house’s value, even the White House lost value last year (hold the jokes about the President, please); better shoelace tying; and giant cattle.