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Jon Stewart and the Massachusetts Senate election

In retrospect, Jon Stewart told us everything we needed to know about state Sen. Scott Brown's (R) victory over state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in Massachusetts last night.

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By Chris Cillizza  |  January 20, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Winners and Losers in the Massachusetts special election



Now that the Dems have conceded they will wait for Scott Brown to be seated to be part of the process, perhaps we will finally get the bi-partisan bill that Obama promised. Who better to bring a fresh perspective than one of the lone Republicans who voted for Romneycare, who has seen it actually implemented and knows what works / doesn't work? But this time it has to ALL (including any conference committee negotiations) be broadcast on C-SPAN.

We already have a good starting point. But, we need to make it comprehensive with no special deals for unions or Nebraska. No coverage for illegal aliens means there has to be some way to distinguish between eligible participants and those who will be deported, keeping in mind all applicable judicial decisions in that regard. No federal funds for abortion / guaranteed protections for ER workers who object to abortion on moral grounds (yes, AG Coakley, I'm looking at you). Tort reform and guarantees that free market healthcare insurance survives, perhaps by allowing competition across State lines, short of turning every insurance company non-profit. Then we can talk about the best ways to address cost controls, recission, pre-existing conditions, portability, etc.

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

A familiar pattern has re-emerged. The Republicans in Congress are ruthless, and the Congressional Democrats are gutless.

Our system of creating legislation is a double-edged sword. All too often, in order to accommodate enough people to support a bill, it becomes bloated with amendments and neutered by the need to compromise.

This can also impact the leaders of the cause -- the danger in trying to be all things to all people is that, more often than not, you end up being nothing to no one.

It makes no sense to try to compromise with a political party that has publicly avowed to do everything in its power to undermine every attempt to pass ANY health care reform legislation.

Posted by: labman57 | January 21, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

anon99, I love your use of comics - I might say if you were doing the negotiating and pushing humility there would be a chance. Compromise in the right hands can be good, but the compromise in the Senate Bill was bad - real bad.

I personally think piecemealing it would be best. As a disabled veteran, going through hell today, I think Congress could extend VA healthcare coverage to all vets without a large outcry from the Right.

People do not know that not all vets get free medical care. If you are not service connected and earn too much money you get nothing. Congress certainly could propose these veterans pay a monthly premium in exchange for access to the VA. Yes this is a step at a time, but it would extend healthcare to people who do not currently have it. It would also be the type issue which most members of Congress would dare not say no to.

While I want universal healthcare, i am more pragmatic about it than most on the left. We need to find a way to encourage more states to experiment with it so that the federal government can fashion a solution based on what worked at the state level.

For me I would love to see 3 immediate changes. Insurance reform exactly as you stated. Extending healthcare to all vets as I suggested. The states and federal government working together to build federal/state clinics for people on medicaid where teh doctors on are salary. Something similar should be offered to people on medicare, but not a mandatory use such as with those on medicaid.

In South Texas we have a new VA clinic which in my opinion delivers the best healthcare available in South Texas. Is it perfect, no - they are still trying to hire more doctors and in particular specialists.

People also need to be reasonable - I have spent most of today trying to find a specialist who treats sclerosing mesenteritis. My VA coverage would be considered a cadillac policy. The VA will pay for the specialist - I just have to find him/her.

A lot of people would complain that this is what happens when the government runs the system. No - it is a highly specialized area and the government recognizing such has agreed to pay for me to go outside the VA.

Anon99, thanks for your approach - this blog is so much better when people can think out loud with one wnother without insults - I come and go her because I just hate when the attackers take control - unfortunately they win too often.

And again - as to your last post I think you are 100% correct and I hope someone in the Congress reads it and understands humility is the solution.

Bobby WC

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama just took the option of "jamming" through any healthcare bill before Senator-Elect Brown (R-MA) is seated.

"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," the president said. "People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."

(R-MA) I just had to see that in print again. I never thought I would live to see that again in my lifetime ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Back on the actual topic (from

Among the options under consideration is having the House pass an identical version of the bill approved by the Senate in December. Doing so would allow the measure to proceed straight to Obama's desk to be signed into law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday it "remains to be seen" whether there's enough support in the House for such a course of action.

"There's a lot of good things in the Senate bill," she said. "As you know, 85 percent of the bills are the same."

Pelosi argued "the message from Massachusetts" was that voters are angry about special state-specific provisions added to the Senate bill in order to win over wavering Democrats. She specifically cited a provision exempting Nebraska from the costs of expanded Medicaid coverage - a provision critics have labeled "the Cornhusker kickback."

"Some of those issues are lightning-rod issues and some of that has to be changed," Pelosi said. "I don't think our members should be asked to support something that even Sen. (Ben) Nelson" - the Nebraska Democrat who initially pushed for the provision - "has backed away from."

A number of House liberals, however, are pushing back hard against the idea of adopting the Senate plan without major changes. The more conservative Senate measure contains a number of provisions unpopular with progressives, including a 40 percent tax on insurance companies providing high-end "Cadillac" health plans.

"If it comes down to that Senate bill or nothing, I think we're going to end up with nothing," Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Massachusetts, said Tuesday. "I don't hear a lot of support on our side."

Several other Democrats echoed Lynch's concerns, telling CNN that even if there was a firm commitment to follow approval of the Senate version with a second bill containing changes negotiated by House and Senate leaders and the White House, they wouldn't vote yes.

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"After that we disagree. I do not care if it is from the left right or center. there comes a point compromise is dangerous."

Perhaps, but I don't see what compromise has to do with it. First, start with the things that there is broad support for. A bill generally curbing the insurance industry regarding pre-existing conditions and the like would draw massive support. You then tack on some parts that are more left-leaning than some members would like but which will still pull sufficient votes. That's how you work the system.

But more significantly, "compromise" seems to be a dirty word these days. How about "humility" instead? Too many people seem absolutely convinced of the rightness of their ideas. To quote yet another cartoon, I recall seeing a "Peanuts" strip once where Snoopy was writing a book on theology entitled, "Have You Ever Considered The Possibility That You Might Be Wrong?" Good advice for us all.

Some great things can happen when there is a little humility on all sides. Welfare reform is a prime example. It had both conservative and liberal elements and turned out to be a stunning success, even though it was hugely controversial at the time. That's an example to consider.

Posted by: anon99 | January 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You know, if every day it was just "koolkat_1960" here rather than "drindl" and (the banned) Chris Fox, this would be a GREAT discussion board.

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse


You are assuming that I even need your "help". Careful, though, as Bobby may get all upset by your insults (never mind, that won't ever happen ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

anon, this is so right

"Man up, Democrats. You remind me of the line from the Simpsons, "We've tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas!"

After that we disagree. I do not care if it is from the left right or center. there comes a point compromise is dangerous.

medicare part D and the senate version of healthcare are prime examples. If the dems want to go left on 51 votes allow them. Every two years the people have the right to send a message.

I am very happy with the Mass results because it sent a message of accountability which regardless of whether you are on the left, center, or right, is good for America

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

anon, this is so right

"Man up, Democrats. You remind me of the line from the Simpsons, "We've tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas!"

After that we disagree. I do not care if it is from the left right or center. there comes a point compromise is dangerous.

medicare part D and the senate version of healthcare are prime examples. If the dems want to go left on 51 votes allow them. Every two years the people have the right to send a message.

I am very happy with the Mass results because it sent a message of accountability which regardless of whether you are on the left, center, or right, is good for America

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I didn't mean "Booby" (inadvertent typo). I also didn't say that the Supreme Court has ruled on filibusters specifically -- the "Senate can make its own rules" case (as I said, it was re: how to calculate a quorum and therefore would not be on "all fours") would be used as some precedent -- if such a lawsuit passed the initial standing / "political question" hurdle, it would come down to the ROBERTS Court deciding if the filibuster is procedural or substantive. Again, sorry for any unintended slight. If you've read any of my posts in the past, that is not my style.

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Senile yet immature poster: "For the record, there has been no admission by either "drivl" or "Moonbat" as to being banned in the past."

I don't care who admitted what, old man. These posters are clearly zouk. If you're too stupid to see that or too gutless to admit it, then I can't help you.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 20, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are being hopeless twits and Jon Stewart, as usual, is dead on.

This struck me a while ago. Reagan never had a majority in the House and had, IIRC, a 54 seat majority in the Senate for two years. Other than that, the Democrats were in control of both houses. Yet, somehow, Reagan managed to do a whole bunch of stuff that many Liberals are still complaining about.

The Democrats have total control of the presidency and both houses but now they are powerless to do anything because they have only 59 Senate votes?!? Good Question. What did they manage to get done in the last six months when they had, in effect, complete and total power?

The Democrats are pathetic. When they had absolute power, the far left wing viewed it as an opportunity to re-make America, which nobody -- including most members of their own party -- wanted to do, effectively sabotaging the main-stream Democratic agenda. Now they are "completely blocked" by a handful of Republicans. Ridiculous.

Man up, Democrats. You remind me of the line from the Simpsons, "We've tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas!" Brute force, isn't going to work and you aren't going to get your fantasy bill. So try politics and put together something that will pass.

Posted by: anon99 | January 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Jake, when you turn to stupid insults you send a message to everyone you have no substance to your argument.

The issue is substantive effect - if the substantive effect is to change the constitutional it is unconstitutional.

This argument has not been heard by the Supremes - you were wrong on that account. The US Supreme court has found many laws unconstitutional based on their substantive effect.

What is your worry - I am certain Scalia will look at your post here - quote it as substantive definitive law and rule as you say. the Dems will look stupid and tyranical an the Repubs will be the savior of the republic - I would think you would want such a result

Bobby WC

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse


The filibuster (in place for over 200 years) does not change the Constitution; the Senate rules simply provide a method as to determining for which bills debate is cut-off = procedural (you would have a point if the Senate attempted to impose a requirement that more than a majority vote was needed to actually pass a bill = substantive : )

Back to the topic, it looks like "joeyjoejoe" nailed the result almost perfectly for the Fix T-shirt -- I gave the "protest" Kennedy vote too much credence -- runners up were "armpeg" with 52.2 and "johnhinson" with 52.3 respectively):

"Brown 51.7
Coakley 47.0
Kennedy 1.3"

Posted January 19, 2010 5:04 PM (on prior thread)


Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Jake, I have read the opinion - the issue of substantive change of the constitution is clear - Senate rules cannot be used to substantively change the constitution. Nothing in the case you reference deals with substantive changes or the filibuster.

here is some key language

" Summing up this matter, this law is found in the Secretary of State's office, properly authenticated. If we appeal to the journal of the House, we find that a majority of its members were present when the bill passed, a majority creating by the Constitution a quorum, with authority to act upon any measure; that the presence of that quorum was determined in accordance with a valid rule theretofore adopted by the House, and that of that quorum a majority voted in favor of the bill. It therefore legally passed the House, and the law, as found in the office of the Secretary of State, is beyond challenge."

You will note the opinion finds what is a quorum to be found in the constitution and the rules deal with how the House counted the quorum. They did not change what constitutes a quorum. Your research needs to extend beyond Wikipedia

Nothing in the opinion you reference even comes close to saying the Senate can make rules which change the constitution - it simply says it can make rules.

Your argument is simple - "if the senate makes a rule that only white Senators can vote on laws it is constitutional because it is a senate made rule."

Senate rule making power caanot be used to change the constitution

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse


Please remove Loud and Dumb from the list of the three intolerable liberal stooges. He is clearly even too simple to serve in that capacity. Could we initiate a new category of FIX imbeciles, who carry water for the more advanced stooges. We owe it to the liberal cause to make this dunce feel important and valuable, despite the obvious contradiction.

Posted by: drivl | January 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

this dripping sanctimoney of liberalism is exactly why they are having so much trouble. all you need to know about voting for liberals is the phrase "do you know who I am?"

the rules simply don't apply to them. promises can go unkept. Lies are fine. taxes unpaid. corruption and bribes de riguer.

Everyman has had it with these clowns. and I mean EVERY MAN and woman.

Posted by: drivl | January 20, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

For the record, there has been no admission by either "drivl" or "Moonbat" as to being banned in the past. OTOH "Noacoler" has admitted to being "SeattleTop, GoldAndTanzanite, ChrisFox8". If anyone else has a question about that, please let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse


There is already Supreme Court precedent on your point. U.S. v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1(1892) held that it is up to the Senate how, or if, to change any specific Senate rule.

"The constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. [...] The power to make rules is not one which once exercised is exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be exercised by the house, and, within the limitations suggested, absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or tribunal."

In that case, it was up to the Senate alone to determine how to calculate the presence of a quorum. As long as there is a reasonable basis, the courts will not disturb the Senate rules. The current Senate rules state that 67 votes are required for future rule changes.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

CC: please add drivl to your list of banned posters. Moonbat should also be on there as well.

If this idiot wants to keep posting on your boards, at least make him work for it a little.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 20, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Loud and Dumb. did you get all the paste out of your mouth from craft hour?

Posted by: drivl | January 20, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

You are probably the only one who watched the dwarf Jon Stewart--AKA Jonathan Leibowitz--last night.

Posted by: armpeg | January 20, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse"

Classic teabagger. Armpit was probably the guy holding the Dachau pictures at the last Capitol Hill teabagger rally.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 20, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

You are probably the only one who watched the dwarf Jon Stewart--AKA Jonathan Leibowitz--last night.

Posted by: armpeg | January 20, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Now, as they say be careful what you ask for - I am convinced that the filibuster is unconstitutional because it substantively changes how many votes are needed to pass a Bill in the Senate. I hope some senator or public group will have the courage to file a lawsuit to end the use of the filibuster. Personally I think the Democrats should announce unilaterally the end of the filibuster and pass true healthcare reform on 51 votes. The Republicans are sure to sue. If they sue it will hurt them because they will be in court demanding that a federal judge change the constitution to 60 votes instead of 51. It is time we end the filibuster and allow the majority party in power to move legislation forward. I can say as a very left wing Independent I would have voted Republican in the Massachusetts Senate race because I consider the Senate version of healthcare reform to be a betrayal of the people and a windfall for the insurance companies. Voting Republican is the only way I could have participated in the defeat of the Senate version.

Bobby WIghtman-Cervantes

Posted by: bobbywc | January 20, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stewart has been much better lately, more so than Mr. Colbert (who lost his mojo after Obama was "sworn" in).

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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