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Filibuster Stuff

Today's column is on why we should end the filibuster. It references this now-online memo from conservative activist Jim Boulet which quite correctly argues that conservatives need the filibuster. The column also scare-quotes "gun show loophole" in the conservative style. Did you know that this loophole -- which is a real loophole -- has nothing to do with gun shows? Conservatives seem to think that labeling it "gun show loophole" is part of a massive liberal scam. I've never understood what the scam is supposed to be, exactly. Nevertheless, gun shows have nothing to do with it.

April 12, 2005 | Permalink

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» No counter-nuclear option from Here's What's Left
Matthew Ygelsias's column on the filibuster is courageous but seems wrong to me:There is, however, a better way. Democrats should counter loose talk of going nuclear with a proposal of their own: The Senate as a whole could vote, through [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2005 1:33:19 AM

» Institutional grand strategy from locussolus
Matt Yglesias has an interesting column up suggesting that the Democrats take this opportunity to scrap the filibuster. He (along with Nathan Newman) takes a broader view of progressive politics through recent decades, arguing that the filibuster has w... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2005 9:36:20 AM

» Failure Buster from Don Singleton
The Republicans are not talking about violating the rules of the Senate; they are talking about changing the rules, and Senate rules have a procedure for changing the rules. Actually it has a lot to do with gun shows. It relates to delay before yo... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2005 12:12:04 PM

Comments

I've never understood what the scam is supposed to be, exactly

The scam is that guns don't determine crime rates but demographics do. Which is why liberals use euphemisms like "urban" and "inner city" to describe no-go zones in the city. Rural Nebraska has tons of guns and no crime, while Washington DC has the most restrictive gun laws in the nation and the highest crime rate. Demographics, not guns are the determinant - and liberals won't admit it - and that's the liberal scam.

Posted by: asdf | Apr 12, 2005 11:38:15 PM

"Today's column is on why we should end the filibuster."

The column has perfect pitch.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 13, 2005 12:18:28 AM

Demographics AND the availability of guns are the determinants, of course, ASDF. You can't kill people with demographics; if guns were unavailable everywhere, the gun murder rate would be low everywhere. Nor can you do anything about demographics governmentally, unless you're proposing to implement the Final Solution for nonwhites and Southern whites (the two American groups which have by far the highest gun-crime rate).

Whether we actually CAN or SHOULD radically reduce gun availability are, of course, separate questions.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw | Apr 13, 2005 12:22:22 AM

Private party gun sales should be regulated.

Why should I be able to sell my gun to Joe Blow if Joe Blow is inneligible to purchase a gun at a gun store?

Small factoid: Most guns used in crimes were legally purchased by somebody other than the criminal and were *NOT* stolen from the original legal owner.

Straw purchases are perfectly legal if a private citizen seller can plausibly claim ignorance.

Gun show... shum show. The right to bear arms is not the same as the right to sell them.

Posted by: def | Apr 13, 2005 12:36:10 AM

That's cute, def. If you don't have the right to sell arms, then presumably you don't have the right to buy them. How can you possible excersice the right to bear them?

Posted by: Steve | Apr 13, 2005 12:45:14 AM

How can you possible excersice the right to bear them?

If you bought them from a store, for instance. You don't have a right to sell guns with regulatory approval (or buy them). Private sales turn the "well-regulated militia" into an unregulated militia, which is not implicitly or explicitly allowed in the second amendment. As if there is any point at all to having a militia in modern times. Any government tyranny counter-balancing or national defense justification for the second amendment is trumped by the supieriority of the military.

Posted by: scott lewis | Apr 13, 2005 1:04:35 AM

Forgive any disjointedness, I've been awake too long...

There is something about your position on the filibuster that just doesn't sell me, Matt. And I'm not sure what it is. My political history is light at best, but my main question is when have conservatives had the majorities they would need to pass sweeping reform? If they had a filibuster proof majority, would they not work to exploit it for all it's worth? And if the Democrats accomplished so much in spite of the filibuster, why remove the one guard that they as the minority party currently has left?

I think rather than shooting themselves in the foot for a while (are Democrats really primed to retake the majority any time soon?), Democrats should work on selling the people on ideas and visions in a way that the nation can support. Rather than argue the merits of this idea, I'd rather see an argument on how to get Democrats back to a place that renders this discussion moot.

Posted by: Scott | Apr 13, 2005 1:23:15 AM

The scam is that the term "gun show loophole" is, at best, deliberately used to unfairly stigmatize and regulate gun shows, and at worst, to obscure the nature of the "anti-loophole" agenda-- i.e., def's agenda, to make it a crime for a private citizen who is not a gun dealer to sell his used guns. And what about giving a gun as a gift? You don't need to think along these lines for very long before the "gun show loophole" label starts to look an awful lot like a trojan horse for some pretty radical and unpopular policies.

Posted by: John Tabin | Apr 13, 2005 1:49:11 AM

So, are we prepared to have Social Security repeal, Medicare repeal, etc. passed by simple majorities in both Houses (probably in the dead of night with the text made available 20 minutes before the vote)?

Doing away with the filibuster is something that I greatly fear with neocons, theocons, ecocons, and other assorted nutcons transcendent.

Maybe in the long run this would or could be a good idea. But as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead.

Maybe the Democratic party is on the deathbed anyway, so we should agree to a living will for the party that provides for removal of life support. Nothing in the Constitution requires two parties, and one-party rule certainly has lots of potential to be efficient.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 13, 2005 2:48:39 AM

"So, are we prepared to have Social Security repeal, Medicare repeal, etc. passed by simple majorities in both Houses (probably in the dead of night with the text made available 20 minutes before the vote)?"

Let 'em try. We have elections in this country every 2 years. I think those programs can be defended politically.

At the end of the day, I think liberals and progressives have more to enact than to defend.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 13, 2005 2:59:57 AM

It's called the "gun show" loophole, it has nothing to do with gun shows, and you can't figure out what the scam is? Matt, you're not THAT stupid.

"Small factoid: Most guns used in crimes were legally purchased by somebody other than the criminal and were *NOT* stolen from the original legal owner."

You could say the same of cars used in crimes, too, I suppose, or just about anything that's primarilly used for law abiding purposes, but occasionally abused by criminals. What of it?

"Straw purchases are perfectly legal if a private citizen seller can plausibly claim ignorance."

I suspect you don't understand the elements of a "straw purchase", or you'd realize that's dreck.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Apr 13, 2005 6:12:10 AM

An unscammy reason it might be called a "gun show" loophole is that gun shows, qua gun markets, present a distinct problem. They combine the legal status of a private sale (and thus exemption from gun-store regulation) with efficient anonymous transactions (thus allowing Bad People more convenient access to weapons).

Posted by: Adrian | Apr 13, 2005 6:31:33 AM

Hmm, I'm not convinced by this argument:
'In the short term, this would produce bad results: confirmation for some bad judges.'
In the short term? How long do you expect Supreme Court judges to live?

Posted by: Gray | Apr 13, 2005 7:17:48 AM

Brett must keep his right to sell guns to Al Qaeda otherwise the terrorists have won!

Posted by: Rob | Apr 13, 2005 7:27:06 AM

Simply put, if you can't prove that an alleged member of Al Quaeda really IS a terrorist, their civil liberties should remain intact. If you CAN prove it, they should be rotting in prison, after a trial of course.

Your problem is that you don't like the fact that gun ownership is a civil right. Take that up with James Madison.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Apr 13, 2005 7:43:40 AM

I'm open to the idea that the filibuster should be eliminated for all votes except votes on judicial nominees. No way should the judicial branch reflect only a mere majority of the Senate alone.

Of course, Republicans want the opposite.

Posted by: phil | Apr 13, 2005 8:00:25 AM

"Your problem is that you don't like the fact that gun ownership is a civil right. Take that up with James Madison."

And your problem is that your "civil right" of gun ownership is subject to regulation--indeed, it's supposed to be "well-regulated." If you don't like THAT, you can take it up with James Madison as well.

The text of the amendment makes it cler that what is acceptable regulation is based on military discipline--and that, of course, implies A LOT of regulation.

Certainly, in the army, you don't have a "right" to carry a "Saturday night special" if your C. O. doesn't want you to. If you are a particularly incompetant or unreliable character, you may not be allowed to carry firearms at all.

Here's a hypothetical for you, Bellmore: Padilla, Hamdi and Lindh are found in a D. C. suburb with a small nuclear weapon. Under your analysis, they're all U. S. citizens, they haven't actually blown anything up yet, they have a constitutional right to bear arms--you think the F. B. I. should let them go with an apology (& their nuke), don't you?


Posted by: rea | Apr 13, 2005 8:15:10 AM

Simply put, if you can't prove that an alleged member of Al Quaeda really IS a terrorist, their civil liberties should remain intact.

tell that to the current occupant of the WHite House

Posted by: cleek | Apr 13, 2005 9:17:32 AM

You don't need to think along these lines for very long before the "gun show loophole" label starts to look an awful lot like a trojan horse for some pretty radical and unpopular policies.

There is no right to bear arms in an unregulated militia. The gun show loophole takes a well-regulated situation, gun dealers and licensed gun owners, and turns it into a completely unregulated situation. You have no right to receive a gun as a gift or buy a gun from anyone, if you did not follow your states regulations for gun ownership. The second amendment does not read "the right to bear arms," as is the lie sold to America by the NRA. There's a reason that they included "well-regulated", and it was to let the government have control of how people could buy and sell guns.

If this is a "trojan horse" for eliminating the set of rights given to gun buyers that are found nowhere in the constitution, who is the one creating rheotoric that doesn't match reality?

Posted by: scott lewis | Apr 13, 2005 9:32:08 AM

You know, Rea, that nuclear bomb strawman has been tackled so often, I'm going to give it a pass this time.

Cleek, I do indeed have some problems with the current occupant of the White house.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Apr 13, 2005 9:35:21 AM

Nice column, Matt.

Posted by: Chad | Apr 13, 2005 9:47:27 AM

Demographics AND the availability of guns are the determinants...Nor can you do anything about demographics governmentally, unless you're proposing to implement the Final Solution for nonwhites and Southern whites (the two American groups which have by far the highest gun-crime rate).

I too wondered what demographics meant in this case. So I looked up the dictionary definition and it indeed does not mention race at all, just mentions segment of the population. In my experience, demographics as applied to this case means poor areas, wrecked by poverty, etc. etc.

In my opinion, we ought to separate the race from the class. People don't use guns because their black or from the south. The reason they use them is to settle ridiculous disagreements that usually have to do with money, drugs, or just plain pride. Move these segments of the population (i.e. demographics) up in class, and there will be less gun violence.

Talking about class only helps the Democrats vision of a safer society because we're on the side of lower to middle classes. The gun toting Republicans can't win if we define the battle on those terms.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the NRA isn't still a bunch of scumbags. They seem to think its ok for a terrorist to go into a store and buy a gun with no background check. Any reasonable person could not take that position seriously.

Posted by: Adrock | Apr 13, 2005 9:53:16 AM

I meant to elaborate, a little more succintly than I did above, that I disagree that the government can't change demograhics. 2nd and 3rd paragraph explains why.

Posted by: Adrock | Apr 13, 2005 10:02:19 AM

God save us from the Kool Kontrarian Kids. This is a horrendous, horrendous idea.

Reid and Durbin are much too smart to listen, fortunately.

Posted by: Katherine | Apr 13, 2005 10:07:42 AM

Don't you think "violating" Senate Rules is a little strong? They are not talking about violating the rules, but changing them.

You could say that it's wrong to allow filibusters on some votes, but not others, but there is already precedent for that, spending bills can't be filibustered either.

PS. I'm conservative, but I'm against the nuclear option, I just think your wording was heavily biased. I think the right way to handle it is on Constitutional grounds - the Senate has an obligation to provide it's "advice and consent", and by not allowing a vote, it's reneging on it's Constitutional obligations.

Posted by: cf | Apr 13, 2005 10:10:17 AM

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