DADT fails in the Senate: Open Thread

So Reid brought DADT (as part of the Defense Authorization Bill) to a vote. It failed to 57-40 (or rather, it won 57-40 but the filibuster had its way in the end). Now Lieberman and Collins are going to bring back a stand-alone version of repeal supposedly today. What does Collins want? What will she get? Why did Reid bring this to a rushed vote, knowing he would lose? What will happen if a stand-alone is brought up for a vote with Collins’s support?

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112 thoughts on “DADT fails in the Senate: Open Thread

    • The assumption behind the article seems to be that gridlock leads to predictability. Maybe that was once the case, but it manifestly isn’t now. Everyone knows DADT will be repealed eventually, but we have to keep firing arabic translators in the meantime to satisfy John McCain’s ego, apparently. The whole country is held up now not even knowing what 2010’s taxes will be, over the largely symbolic higher tax rates that apply to almost no-one, not even to people technically in those brackets. This is really what you want?

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        • Me too! Tom, very happy you were able to work things out with James Hanley. There was absolutey no way he could been able to screw up the reply mechanism. He’s innocent. I know, because I often encounter the exact problem you had with the reply options. Frequently, my replies just disappear, or end up being a response to someone I had no intention of responding to. In any case, may the truce hold! I think the professor is a pretty good guy, as well. I’ve certainly had my share of dust ups with him on any number of issues and I know that Irish (?) temper may get the better of him at times, but all in all, he tries to be fair, and very generous with his time. Of course, tomorrow we’ll probably be at each other’s throats again, but that’s what I love about this joint!

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        • Me too. But I see the forces that are supposed to drive them to consensus weakening, and the tendency to play chicken as strong as ever. This has happened in other countries – there’s no magic that says the US is immune to destructive gridlock of the kind that once affected, say, Argentina, or medieval Poland. If winning truly becomes more important to them than the national interest, thats the problem, and we seem to be getting closer to that every year.

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  1. I believe I said yesterday somewhere on this site the American system of government may not be completely disfunctional. On today’s evidence I would like to retract that statement.

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  2. The Senate made a little more sense before a) the civil war, when a confederation became a nation, b) the ratio of the populations of the states grew to 70:1, and c) the two parties did such a fine job of dividing up the states.
    (I’m pretty sure that the factual premises of the foregoing are actually false, so I guess I’m agreeing that the Senate is a bad idea, and a super-majority requirement is just absurd.)

    What would happen if an initiative were circulated in California, amending the State Constitution to state that the People of the State seek secession from the US and all elected officials are to use their powers to obtain an amendment to the US Constitution under which California seceded? I think it might pass here, but what effect might it have at the federal level?

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  3. I would like to know what the -hell- Reid thought he was doing. The bugger didn’t even switch his vote at the last minute (Senate rules state that if he switched his vote he could bring the bill up again later for a revote) he essentially killed the goddamn bill. I gather Reid thought that the conservative senators would essentially use the bill to run out the rest of the legislative session and so this strikes me as essentially a “burn the ships” move. He sailed DADT onto the beach and then he set it on fire so the left couldn’t pressure him to keep working on it.

    Now of course the that the GOP and especially Mccain are too contemptible for words on the matter goes without out saying (or would if I hadn’t said it). But this is a bitter pill coming from Reid.

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  4. I’m pretty sure he brought it up to a vote because he knew he didn’t have enough votes to win and wanted to put a vote against DADT on the record for every Republican Senator. For many of the hardcore red, that will be a badge of honor, but for other candidates, like the Senators from Maine, or Scott Brown, for example, that could be a very big issue if the bill doesn’t get passed by some other means in the next few weeks.

    I wouldn’t worry about Reid. He’s one of the last politicians in the Senate who is interested in governing instead of getting re-elected. It’s those fucking idiots in the White House giving everything away for free in the hopes that the Republicans will play nice since 2008 that you need to worry about.

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      • I am reminded of a story.

        A young lady was climbing a mountain when she encountered a snake that was close to freezing to death. “Please pick me up and put me in your coat, that I may be warm”, the snake said. The young lady then said “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” and ran in place for a while. “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” and then, running in place, she slipped and fell and broke her back. “Why did you scream and freak out? Now we will both surely die!”, the snake asked. “You knew I was a chick when you asked me to pick you up”, the young lady answered.

        The moral of this story, I have no trouble explaining, is that it’s somewhat more unreasonable to be upset at folks who act according to their true nature than it is to expect that they will.

        No one is surprised that the Republicans oppose homosexuals in the military. Heck, they opposed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a compromise because, tah-dah, it allowed homosexuals to be in the military.

        It’s when the folks you thought would be more enlightened turn out to be wimpy squishes that you get disappointed.

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        • I’m glad to see you well into the spirit of the season. You even have a lovely traditional folk tale.

          So who will take up the corresponding role as the “blame the democrats for the actions of the republicans” grinch and bring up math and the rules of the senate?

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          • Dude, I’m one of those “abolish the standing army” types. We need to return to a draft.

            In the short term, however, we have to keep in mind that there was a very narrow window within which progress could have been made with regards to DADT… and by “progress”, I mean “overcoming the Republican opposition that could have been taken for granted”.

            I take the Republican opposition to DADT for granted.

            It’s up to the Democrats to be enlightened here.

            It was the Senate Leader who failed here. We can talk about math and obscure Senate rules that only Republicans have bothered to read but, at the end of the day, there was an achievable objective that the Democrats failed to go for.

            Sure, the Republicans are evil when it comes to the topic of same-sex relationships. Thrice-divorced protectors of traditional marriage. Absolutely.

            But we knew that going in.

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              • Think of it this way.

                Soon we’ll be entering the season of asking why the Democrats can’t do anything to stop the Republicans from doing anything like the Republicans were able to stop the Democrats.

                Then we can explore such thoughts as “well, they’re in the minority, what did you expect?” and other insights.

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                • It is important to keep up traditions. Just ask any conservative.

                  In seriousness I’m expecting some vetoes and non-passing votes in the senate. The senate is the place where dreams go to die. That is a bi-partisan phenomenon.

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                • Because the Republicans, while incapable of governing, are brilliant at finding ways to increase their power. (F’r instance, it was the Reagan administration that invented appoint really, really young federal judges.) This is not their only resemblance to the Bolsheviks.

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                    • Something else you don’t seem to realize, because you’re stuck in partisan stupidity, is that I support repeal of DADT — I support same sex marriage — I support a liberal immigration policy — I support legalizing marijuana — I support more freedoms than most Democrats, because I also support economic freedom.

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                    • I’m not stuck, I can notice patterns.

                      Such as you always jump on the opportunity to smear democrats and conveniently forget to slam the republicans for their horrible actions.

                      So since I don’t care to try to convince the unconvicable, I only care to respond to the specific non-sense you badger on about.

                      I mean how sill of you is it to support positions and only attack the politicians who agree with you on those issue.

                      If you constantly criticize only democrats then I don’t care what you claim to support other than “no taxes evar!” As far as anyone can tell the only reason you bring up republicans is to justify your attacks on democrats. Yay! you don’t support either party when confronted.

                      Good for you.

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                    • One of the curious aspects of the current partisan stupidity is the rejection of the possibility of someone who believes both parites are wrong — there is an insistence to put them on one side or the other. Your need for enemy in a two party system blocks your imagination. Be free — think outside the bottle. Both parties have served to maintain State power and they are exploiting the American people. Partisans are part of the problem to the extent they can’t see the reality of their party and how it contributes to our problems.

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      • Okay, that was oblique even for me.

        I suggest third party voting. Ever since I discovered it, I couldn’t be happier. It’s like being able to vote “none of the above” while, at the same time, saying *WHY*.

        Libertarian? Green? Constitution? Objectivist? Communist? Prohibition?

        It’s all there, baby.

        Come to the third parties. It is *SOOOO* nice voting without feeling like you need a shower afterwards.

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        • All well and good Jay and certainly strong on principal. But despite the frustrating behavior of the Dems the fact remains that gays in America do have a voice in that party and it is heard at least sometimes. Perhaps it’s not great for getting good things done for gays but it’s pretty reliable for preventing bad things from being done to gays; a full fledged anti SSM amendment for instance; or a Federal bill duplicating the Virginia GOP’s policy of invalidating private contracts that even ape marriage benefits.
          If gays defected from the Dems and made a little Rainbow party or even threw their weight into some existing third party they could sleep comfortable in their purity. But who knows what their day to day life would look like? Better to raise a ruckus within the party in my opinion.

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  5. My contribution to the open thread: I do find this procedural Senate stuff baffling. The political bloggers I read seem to have given up on the Republicans entirely, and are trying to work out which Democrats are to blame for this, but my non-insider takeaway is more that the Republicans lose points for going to the mat on a fifteen-year-old compromise that’s so stilted, internally contradictory, and, well, compromised.

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        • If the principles were important to the Democratic leadership, they would have acted on them when they could make the change — also, I didn’t hear any great outcry from the liberal public for the Democrat representatives to do it. I’ve only seen posturing. No matter what you believe regarding DADT, it can be seen from two sides — most Republicans, from what I can tell, believe the troops aren’t ready for this level of openness and not in time of war. You can disagree with this, but it’s not like the Republicans are saying they hate gays — thy are looking at what they see as the reality of the average mindset in the military regarding homosexuality and how it would affect operations. If Democrats strongly disgree, then they should have changed it when they had a chance. They can’t blame the Republicans for standing up for what they believe.

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    • A song for the holidays.
      (to the tune of jingle bells.)
      Tax Cuts!
      Tax Cuts!
      Filibusters don’t exist
      Democrats are always the antagonist
      Tax Cuts!
      Tax Cuts all the way.

      Tax Cuts!
      Tax Cuts!
      We don’t need unemployment benefits.
      They just make people take on sits.
      Tax Cuts!
      Tax Cuts all the way.

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      • I can’t understand the partisan mindset. If I believed the stated principles of the Democrat Party, I would be blasting the current representatives and the president — some liberals are, but way too many are doing what you’re doing, making it a game about the evil Republicans. I don’t support either party, although I look on with interest at the new Republicans coming into office because they at least speak about limited government, which is where I stand. I have no problem blaming Republicans for being complicit with Democrats, destroying our economy and propping up a powerful, anti-social State. My principles are different from the modern liberal — they are in alignment with classical liberalism, so neither party represents my beliefs, but if I was a modern liberal, I wouldn’t be wasting time with the obvious, the flaws of the Republican Party — I’d be doing everything in my power to reform the Democrat Party — it’s a fucking mess.

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        • Oh look, you finally tried to engage in something useful.

          So I will return the favor. It is this I blame the democrats for one critical mistake made in in early 2009. Not changing the filibuster rules. Reforming won’t be accomplished by bagging on them for the evil that republicans do.

          The most effective course of action is agitating to change the filibuster and trying to primary senators and congress-critters that are more conservative than their districts. Attacking the democrats and the president on this issue is stupid, we should attack the scum-bags who filibustered and the rule itself. Edward Kennedy dying is why things like this couldn’t get done, we didn’t have 60 and not having sixty when your opponents are vile republicans means it is damned hard to pass anything.

          For the record, democrats are disorganized people who can’t fight their way out of a paper-bag in terms of messaging. Republicans are evil and have an entire media empire to push their message. They even intimidate the rest of the media into following. So excuse me for not engaging in a circular firing squad, I’m smarter than that.

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            • So going to Focus on the Family events and supporting and courting don’t count as evil. Comparing gay people and their relationships to bestiality don’t count as evil.

              Rush, Beck, Palin, Bachmann, Huckabee, Gingrich, these people and their rhetoric represent the party and the base. Their principles are evil so are the platform of the state republican parties. Excuse me for not abandoning the only counter-force to them because the filibuster has enabled the crazies a legislative and appointment veto.

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              • You know that Focus also uses words like “evil” in their sermons, right?

                They even have books with decades of history behind them to back them up. See? Right here. It says “evil”.

                Why should I believe in your god and your ontology instead of theirs?

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                  • Oh, absolutely.

                    I have an entire ontology.

                    Which, of course, leads me to believe that most Politicians are not, in themselves, moral agents… which makes using the language of morality in criticizing them somewhat odd. It’s like a category error of sorts.

                    I mean, dig this: Let’s say that I called Obamacare “evil”. Not misguided. Not a bad compromise brokered by insurance companies for insurance companies. Not even what happens when the best of intentions meets the sausage making of the legislative process.

                    Evil.

                    It seems odd and out of place, no?

                    Well, the same strikes me when it comes to politicians failing to repeal a compromise they made 15 years ago… in the direction of progress.

                    It strikes me as an awful, awful policy (I mean, seriously, how many potential translators have we fired?). It strikes me as something that most people would grow to not even notice/think about within months of it passing. Ending the program is something that I think would benefit pretty much everybody directly involved and have negligible impact upon everybody else (excepting “feelings” and who gives a crap about those?).

                    But I still understand why the Republicans are doing what they’re doing, what they are doing is not particularly surprising given their history, and the Democrats are failing now when they may have succeeded as little as 6 months ago.

                    So it seems odd to have the Republicans be called “evil” here.

                    One may as well call a snake “evil”.

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                    • They have a history of this behavior, that cannot be denied. It is their principle that gay people don’t have the same rights as straight people that I call evil. Their idea that anyone who isn’t a christian in the same way they are doesn’t matter I call evil.

                      Their stubborn dismissal of many scientific ideas and facts, I call dangerously stupid. Their dedication to providing benefits, cover, and money to corporations and individuals they like I call corrupt, and not very unique.

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                    • Well, I don’t know that I consider being a soldier to be a “right”, per se.

                      It seems significantly different than the right to free speech or the right to worship God as one’s conscience dictates, doesn’t it?

                      Now, I certainly think that it’s stupid to exclude folks from the military… and triply so when you desperately need, for example, translators and you’re firing folks who make decent translators for reasons unrelated to translating.

                      It’s like they don’t want to win the war. They would rather lose and stick to their own established protocols than win while abandoning them.

                      We’re in an odd situation where Republicans are actively harming the military and war effort while Democrats, however meekly, are trying to help it. Irony, I think it’s called.

                      Anyway, as I said, I’m more of the opinion that we ought to abolish the standing army (and pull out of everywhere that we happen to be “in”) and rely on a draft henceforth. (Hey, if you can’t muster the country’s political will for a draft, you shouldn’t be involved in whatever you’re inclined to be involved in.)

                      As for Christian theology… I’m an atheist. They strike me as perfect examples for an anthropology textbook. Their actions don’t reflect any kind of God… they’re just tribe members acting tribally. If anything, I’m pleased that they’re so civilized.

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          • While I agree with many of your criticisms of the Democrats, I don’t feel they go far enough.

            I also suspect that you give the Republicans far more credit than they deserve.

            Additionally, I suspect that there are more people calling their Congresscritter/Senator today (these days) than in, say, the 80’s and 90’s. And not just over Medicare stuff either. They’re calling about normal stuff in greater numbers and trivial stuff in greater numbers. (This could be explained by Tea Party gaming things just as easily as greater engagement on the part of the population.)

            Additionally, given the last three elections being “throw the bums out” elections, it’s a lot more likely that politicians act “conservatively” (and by that I mean choosing the status quo/devil they know) than “progressively” (and by that I mean choosing a different devil).

            But then I look at the vote totals again and see 57-40.

            I wonder “who were the 3?” and “wait, Reid was one of the 40? The Senate Leader???”

            This strikes me as a battle that the Democrats in the Senate *COULD* have won.

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            • Jaybird, you are counting wrong. Reid -wasn’t- in the 40 (more’s the pity since by being in the 57 he made it so he couldn’t bring this bill again this legislative session). The 3 nay votes were 2 republicans who said they support DADT but won’t, yet, for procedural reasons and because this is going too fast (lol), and 1 democrat who most insiders say was “allowed” to vote no because Reid knew going in that he wasn’t going to get 60 votes.

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                • My own read on Reid is that he decided that he wasn’t going to let DADT consume the rest of the session (Collins asked for 4 days of debate, Reid claims that the conservative wing of the GOP was going to invoke cloture votes and unlimited amendments to run out the clock) so he drove it onto the beach and then set it on fire.

                  His reasoning might make sense now, but the fact that he let it sit until the last minute was a fiasco. Whether it happened because they didn’t want/care to get it passed or because Obama once again let the GOP hoodwink him into running out the clock in hopes of a bipartisan vote (or both) depends on who you ask.

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  6. People need to accept that neither side want this issue resolved for reasons having nothing to do with the position itself. Republicans are basically enslaved by the so called party base. They have no choice but to give it what it wants. As long as DADT stands democrats can use it as an issue to energize their supporters. If DADT is repealed the issue becomes negative for them at least for a few years. Look at health care reform for example. It’s clear that neither side can allow anything at all to be done.

    But then gridlock is good right?

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    • If Democrats continue to simply act like they will really stand up for gay rights after this, if they merely expect me to take them seriously on that claim, I will go join the nearest Tea Party movement. I’d have a better chance convincing them, probably. Democrats will need to do some shirt-tearing and abject apologizing before gay people in general believe them.

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      • This is what I was thinking about the whole comment session. The republican filibuster works so very well for them as they know they won’t be blamed. Instead the democrats will get hurt.

        This is crazy making. The senate where dreams go to die.

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        • But remember that Democrat obstructionism in Congress in the early Bush years is part of what allowed them gradually to take control of the Congress. The filibuster is ultimately a mechanism for causing the Congress to change hands occasionally. The question is whether this is really what we want.

          It’s possible that it is not. By maintaining this constant political and partisan tension, the practical outcome is that only the things both parties’ politicians can agree on are what happen. The compromises they make are universally statist. But the platforms of the parties are not strictly statist.

          Maybe libertarians should actually want occasional stretches of a single party dominating Congress enough to be able to pass a comprehensive set of legislation that the party in control can then take credit for or be blamed for. If the American public knows what they’re actually voting for, I suspect they would tend to pull in the anti-statist direction over time.

          The problem with our current system is that the system itself separates credit/blame from electability too much. I used to really support the filibuster, but having paid attention now for a full cycle–Republicans fully in control, then Democrats fully in control, and the end of that control–I think I really want the filibuster to go away. And I think it won’t, because it does all the things I’ve just said, and politicians love not being easily blamed for things they do.

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          • This is why I don’t think that the filibuster will go away.

            If there was a vote on ending DADT, do you think it would have been 57-40?

            I don’t.

            This allows the senators to straddle an issue. “Hey, *I* voted *FOR* (cloture)” and if The People get all furious the way that they do the senator can backpedal and say “hey, I was just voting for Cloture. I would have voted against it! I was voting for cloture so that I *COULD* vote against it!”

            The filibuster allows fictions to be maintained politely. That’s it.

            All that to say:
            Dude, you might be right… It might be very interesting to get rid of the filibuster for JUST THAT REASON.

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            • I don’t understand why you think that the democrats are so dumb that they don’t understand that not passing this hurts them way more than “losing it as an issue.” Certainly the president would like it as a notch in his belt to re-open the GAYTM as it has been referred too.

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              • I don’t understand why you think that the democrats are so dumb that they don’t understand that not passing this hurts them way more than “losing it as an issue.

                All I can do is ask you to keep watching the Democrats. Just keep watching. I suspect that if you do so, you’ll inevitably come to the same conclusion that I have.

                They are, in fact, that dumb.

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              • And the Republicans are so dumb that they don’t understand how they are being hurt by issue after issue? Both parties are being driven by the need to address short term tactical issues so that longer term issues of principle are lost. We don’t have a government of the majority so much as a government of the most obnoxiously intransigent.

                But then gridlock is good right?

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                  • Not really. They aren’t so stupid as to not see the damage that the Glen Beck’s and Fox news are doing to any principled conservatism. I even participated in a conversation where a republican thinking of running for office actually straight out said that he would have to pretend to be a creationist. He understood the damage but to win he had no choice. Many republicans look at the tea party with horror exactly because they understand that they created it. Worse they understand that they will have to continue to service its needs.

                    This is what happens when you create a system that rewards the most obnoxiously intransigent.

                    Somebody somewhere needs to grow some balls.

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                    • “any principled conservatism”

                      Well, I was specifically talking about Republicans.

                      That said, I am more prone to believe that the Tea Parties are principled than any organized political organization… in the same way that the random folks who showed up at anti-war protests are much more likely to be principled than, say, Democratic Politicians.

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  7. “That said, I am more prone to believe that the Tea Parties are principled than any organized political organization… in the same way that the random folks who showed up at anti-war protests are much more likely to be principled than, say, Democratic Politicians.”

    In the sense that they honestly think that Glen Beck represents good common sense rather than just pretending yes they are more principled. But…

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      • Well in fact the supposed principles are mine. I do believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility. That’s exactly what makes the whole TP movement so facepalm worthy.

        Sorry, being open minded about Glen Beck isn’t happening. It is true that it isn’t fair to paint the whole TP movement as Glen Beck followers. But the problem is that you can’t paint the entire TP movement with anything. The idea that they have much in common at all is an illusion. You just have undirected anger and a lot of left over republican talking points that have no actual meaning. The fact that they allow Glen Beck followers in their midst at all shows just how little self awareness they have.

        I do not fear the tea party. I fear the man who manages to heard the ignorant beast back under the authoritarian tent that it escaped from. There is some small chance that the beast will develop some self awareness and address it’s internal contradictions. I’m not holding my breath.

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