Post Spring Break Catch-Up

Hope everyone’s been having a good spring break!  The last couple of weeks have been filled with dramatic current events.

The Wisconsin Republicans proved that controlling the rules is more than half the battle in politics.  They detached the collective bargaining rule from the budget and thus did not need a quorum to pass it. It passed on its own with just Republican votes, and the Democrats came home from Illinois and challenged the passage in court.  A judge stayed the law temporarily but the Republicans went ahead and published it anyway. It’s pretty much a mess. Meanwhile, Democratic and labor union anger over the policy has not abated and the Democrats claim to be ahead of their goals for gaining signatures to stage recall elections of some of the Republicans this summer.  The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne is well worth reading on the lasting political consequences of the conflict.

The airstrikes in Libya show the unending struggle between Congress and the President over who gets to run a war.  Obama will speak on the military action tonight.

And an interesting article in this morning’s Washington Post over a case headed to the Supreme Court.  Is lying about your military record protected speech?

On other fronts, keep your eyes on the impending budget showdown, as House Republicans insist they will not pass a budget without some policy riders attached and Senate Democrats insist they will not pass it with them.

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The Wisconsin “Filibuster” and Recall Elections

That’s the Wisconsin “Filibuster” and Recall Elections as two separate topics, not the same one.  I am just writing a single post to tell you about two good very things to read this morning, one on each:

Ezra Klein has some interesting thoughts on how what the Wisconsin Democrats are doing is like an old fashioned filibuster (think Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and if you haven’t seen it, you should!!  Watch the climax of the filibuster scene here.)  Klein is a blogger at the Washington Post who leans liberal in his political views, but is a smart and objective policy analyst. Tune in and read his “Wonkbook” every morning.

For now, think about what he says about the filibuster — that democracy demands that the minority work for their veto as the Wisconsin Democrats are doing (and as Mr. Smith did) instead of just using the threat of it to hold the majority hostage, the way it works in Congress today.  Is he right?  Why or why not?

Also, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an excellent piece on the effort, now underway, to recall 16 of the 33 members of the Wisconsin senate. Read about recalls and other instruments of direct democracy at the state level in Chapter 4 and Chapter 16.