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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 4, 2014 / 4 Nissan, 5774

Our dysfunctional Senate

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | G0D saves the queen. He saves this honorable court. But who will save the United States Senate?

The venerable institution that Democrats control and Republicans covet has lately been something of a circus. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), prevents amendments and pursues an unhinged vendetta against the Koch brothers, private citizens engaged in lawful political activity. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is under political siege from right and left in his own state. Conservative populists gain presidential buzz by blowing up or shutting down Senate processes.

Since the Senate is America’s pinnacle of institutional self-regard — “the world’s greatest deliberative body” — its reputation has always had a long way to tumble. Even the Senate of Webster and Clay was also the Senate of Know-Nothings, Doughfaces, Hunkers, Hard-Shells and secessionists, picking their teeth and missing the spittoons.

But the gap between constitutional calling and institutional infirmity has seldom been greater than it is today. One long-serving senator recently told me, “The Senate has lost its soul.” He means that the institution has lost its defining, deliberative function. It is becoming circus-like in certain modern and destructive ways.

The first, bear with me, concerns Senate procedure. In the not-too-distant past, a few senators — say, an odd pairing of a Democrat and a Republican — might have gotten to push for a creative or unexpected amendment. This is how much of the agenda of compassionate conservativism, for example, was carried out when I worked as a Senate staffer in the 1990s. Amendments were an opportunity for innovation. They could also, of course, be used to force political opponents into clarifying and embarrassing votes, which is also part of the deliberative process.

But the amendment process is increasingly and purposely blocked in the Senate. Reid often writes major legislation in his office, bypassing the hearings and markups through which senators outside the leadership get their say and where the political opposition can become more invested in bills as they move forward. And Reid employs a maneuver called “filling up the amendment tree” — which blocks amendments on the Senate floor outside his control — as the norm rather than the exception. None of these practices is unprecedented; they have just become commonplace.

Reid blames Republican obstructionism for such stern procedural measures. His actions, not coincidentally, also protect vulnerable Democrats from having to take awkward votes. But whatever the justification, the routinization of this approach — passing leadership-written bills without a real amendment process — is a highly partisan shift in the traditions of the Senate. It is difficult to imagine, say, Sen. Ted Kennedy meekly accepting up-or-down votes on legislation written by Majority Leader George Mitchell. And Robert Byrd, the great Senate historian and institutionalist, would have been provoked to long-winded apoplexy by such a diminution of privilege.

Republicans are now highly critical of these procedures. But they will, almost certainly, employ them if they gain the majority. Partisans will not accept the voluntary renunciation of established advantages. Procedural ruthlessness seems to be a one-way ratchet.

The second source of Senate dysfunction concerns the nature of modern political movements. In particular, social media and conservative media have created a powerful avenue of influence outside of party structures, and this empowers ideological purists and intimidates other conservative legislators. A senator such as Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Rand Paul (R-Ky.) does not need to work his way up to influence by persuading his Senate colleagues; he gains prominence by using populist issues (unrealistic attempts at Obamacare repeal or imaginary domestic drone threats) to criticize the weakness or perfidy of his colleagues.

I wonder if conservative “constitutionalists” have any idea how odd and disturbing the Founders would have found the whole idea of the Senate as a populist platform. According to Federalist 63: “There are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn.” The Senate is specifically designed to minimize, not multiply, such moments.

Many senators I talk to, Republican and Democrat, are frustrated by this multifronted attack on the possibility of deliberation. Both partisans and ideologues are impatient with institutional restraint, which they see as an obstacle to progress or purity. It should bother them, and us, that the Founders were institutionalists to the core and for good reason: because a democracy must deliberate somewhere.

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Previously:



03/25/14 Obama is learning is learning the lessons of inaction -- one hopes
03/21/14 The GOP's need for creative policy
03/18/14 Can Obama Rise To Carter's Level?
03/11/14 Ukraine shakes up the GOP debate over foreign policy
03/07/14 The U.S. retreats: History tells us who will fill the vacuum
02/28/14The GOP is struggling to redefine itself
02/25/14 Physics is enjoying a golden age
02/18/14 Syria's refugees: Assad uses mass atrocities in the civil war
02/11/14 Burke and Paine, a rivalry that still reverberates
02/03/14 A rendezvous with irrelevance
01/31/14 Obama's thin agenda: The State of the Union lacked a theme
01/28/14 Obama breeding distrust of liberalism
01/24/14 Our complex president: Is his intellectual style actually good leadership?
01/21/14 The power to intimidate . . . on the Left
01/17/14 Gates hits his target
12/31/13 A dismal year in politics, for Republicans and Democrats alike
12/24/13 The war on Christians
12/17/13 The exhausted parties: What have politicians accomplished?
12/06/13 My numbered days: My cancer diagnosis gave me the clarity of mortality
11/22/13 C.S. Lewis: Rescuing desire
11/19/13 Former bridge burner starting to build them to save GOP
11/15/13 Entrepreneurs of outrage: Fear and anger sweep up policy issues
11/01/13 What Obamacare has cost Dems
10/29/13 In 6 months will this column prove prophetic?
10/22/13 Obamacare repair: It could become a crisis for modern liberalism
10/04/13 The GOP should speed Obamacare's demise. Right now, it's not
10/03/13 The tea party's revolt
09/30/13 The end of compromise?
09/17/13 A state of paralysis: Congress, Obama need to act
09/12/13 In full retreat on Syria
09/10/13 Obama misunderstands wartime leadership
09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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