Why the Dems should eliminate the filibuster on Motions to Proceed NOW

Given the current state of play over Wall Street reform, I think the Dems are blowing an opportunity right now to exercise their authority under Article I, Section 5 to determine what the Senate rules are, and set a valuable political precedent, establishing its authority for being able to change the rules by majority vote.

The argument for waiting for January to rewrite the Senate rules is that the incoming Senate won't have given its implied consent to the pre-existing rules by operating under those rules.

The arguments against waiting for January are fourfold:

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Torture bill: Reid's bum rap from our Matt

I've had occasion to be critical of Harry Reid in the past.

But this from Matt seems to me to stray far from the facts:

The torture bill could have been stopped fairly easily by the Democratic Senate leadership, but they didn't care enough to stop it.

The technicalities here are vital, as I explained earlier.

The choice that Reid made to agree to the UCA meant that, on the Specter amendment on habeas corpus (the bill's opponents' strongest card), Frist was challenged as hard as he could have been.

In the past, Frist's counting has not exactly been stellar - and it's as plain as a pikestaff that a vote in favor of the Specter amendment was the best hope of stymieing the bill.

If Reid had not gone this way, his only choice would have been to try to keep Frist from getting 60 votes on the Mexican fence bill - which would have been to piss away the chance of putting Frist on the spot.

There has been a whole slew of counterfactuality in the lefty sphere (not too much of it over here, thank God!) over the torture bill, which only goes to provide corroboration to the charge from those hostile to the influence of the sphere that it is essentially a bunch of amateurs with loud voices and small understanding.

I wonder how much of this ululation has been an attempt to distract attention from the fact that, if the sphere had been on the case a good deal earlier, it might conceivably have persuaded one or two Dem senators to switch votes on habeas corpus, and have thus inflicted a stinging blow against the GOP.

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Torture bill shenanigans: explanation

Since my piece yesterday, my little grey cells (such as they are) have been beavering away.

The following is, I believe, the thinking informing the rather strange antics of the Video Doctor (as described in yesterday's piece):

Once the text of a torture/detainee bill had been settled between the WH and Congressional GOP leaders, the imperative was to get it enacted this week.

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A cloture conundrum

The cloture motion on the laughably named Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 (S 2349) failed as expected.

The motion was designed to balk the (perhaps now moot) Schumer Dubai Ports amendment (non-germane amendments to bill under cloture are barred - and Schumer's was non-germane on an epic scale!)

The final score was 51-47. The Dems were solid, for once (two GOP plus (procedurally) Frist making up the numbers, Inouye not voting - is he sick?).

The conundrum is this: why did the vote need (according to the roll call page) a two-thirds majority? Only changes to Senate rules needed such a majority, I thought.

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