Latest Posts

Robert Byrd
  • Rep. Joe Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Wins in West Virginia

    This Democratic senatorial candidate — whom the DSM-IV has referred to as Factitious Disorder in which one purposefully injures another person (most often a child or family member) so as to gain sympathy and attention — appears to have beat out his Republican opponent in West Virginia.

    As such, the Democrats will hold onto the seat previously held by the late Sen. Robert Avian Influenza.

    Tags: Joe Manchin, Liveblog, Midterms, Robert Byrd, Senate, West Virginia
  • Republican Senators Fall Short in Noble Quest to Keep American Children Hungry

    It was a valiant effort on Senate Republicans' account, but their mission to keep unemployed Americans from being able to put food on their families was dashed this afternoon against the jagged rocks of the unusually non-feckless Democratic majority

    The Senate approved a bill extending unemployment benefits averaging $309 a week for millions of people stuck on jobless rolls.

    The 60-40 vote came moments after Carte Goodwin, a successor to West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, was sworn in. Goodwin was the crucial 60th senator to defeat a Republican filibuster that has led to a lapse in benefits for 2.5 million people…

    About 2.5 million people will receive jobless benefits retroactively. Instead of being dropped from a federal program that extends benefits for those whose six months of state-paid benefits have run out, millions of others will continue to receive payments.

    I hope the Republican senators don't get too down on themselves. I'm sure that the several weeks their filibuster kept millions of citizens from receiving benefits caused an unimaginable amount of misery. And that's what really counts in the end, isn't it?

    Tags: Money, Republicans, Robert Byrd, Senate, Unemployment, West Virginia
  • Democrats Somehow Manage to Pull Off Financial Reform(ish) Legislation

    Big news! Financial reform has somehow passed the Senate despite the fact that the Democrats' lack of a super-ultra-quantum-majority…

    The vote was 60 to 38, with just three centrist Republicans from the Northeast joining with the Democrats in voting to advance the legislation. One Democrat, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against the bill, saying it was still not tough enough. Senator Michael D. Crapo, Republican of Idaho, did not vote, and one seat — which was held by Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died last month — is vacant…

    The bill would create a council of high-level federal officials, led by the Treasury secretary, to try to detect, and perhaps prevent, systemic dangers to the financial system, and it would give the government new authority to seize and shut down failing financial institutions, by liquidating assets and forcing shareholders and creditors to take losses.

    Sounds promising, I think, based upon the minutes and minutes I've spent kind of thinking about it. But will it work?

    "We won’t know the full results of what we have done until the very institutions we have created, the regulations we have suggested and provided for are actually tested," [Sen. Chris Dodd, banking committee chair and main author of the bill] said in a floor speech. "We can’t legislate wisdom or passion. We can't legislate competency. All we can do is create the structures and hope that good people will be appointed who will attract other good people — people who will make careers and listen and see to it that never again do we go through what we have gone through."

    So, won't know if this bill is even worth anything until after we get hit with another huge financial crisis that threatens the very fabric of our national cohesion? I'm simply on pins and needles waiting to find out!

    Tags: Banks, Chris Dodd, Economy, Financial Reform, Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, Senate, Wall Street
  • Unemployment Extension Fails in Senate Yet Again

    It seems that when Robert Byrd left Capitol Hill for a better place*, he took with him his party's hopes of passing wasteful legislation that would have helped unemployed Americans feed their families

    The Senate rejected Wednesday — for the fourth time — a bill that would have reauthorized extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, by a vote of 58 to 38. Democrats will not make another effort to break the Republican filibuster before adjourning for the July 4 recess…

    Only two Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, crossed the aisle to support the measure. That gave Democrats 59 of the 60 votes they needed to break the GOP filibuster, but without the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson's nay vote was enough to kill the bill.

    38 senators voted against this? Don't you just hate senators who vote against unpopular bills, solely to get votes in November? If you can you think of a better way to curry favor with voters than striking down legislation that would allow people to eat, I'd like to hear it.


    * Even if you reject the idea of Heaven and believe that Sen. Byrd's "better place" is nothing more than a cold, dark, worm-infested hole in the ground, this is still meets the criteria.

    Tags: 4th of July, Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, Robert Byrd, Senate, Susan Collins, Unemployment
  • Sen. Robert Byrd Is Having a Complicated History of Race Relations with the Angels Now

    Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) — who, after 51 years, is the longest serving Senator in U.S. history — died last night at the age of 92.

    Why must God take them so young?

    Mr. Byrd's perspective on the world changed over the years. He filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported the Vietnam War only to come to back civil rights measures and criticize the Iraq war. Rating his voting record in 1964, Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal lobbying group, found that his views and the organization’s were aligned only 16 percent of the time. In 2005, he got an A.D.A. rating of 95.

    Mr. Byrd’s political life could be traced to his early involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, an association that almost thwarted his career and clouded it intermittently for years afterward… Mr. Byrd insisted that his klavern had never conducted white-supremacist marches or engaged in racial violence. He said in his autobiography that he had joined the Klan because he shared its anti-Communist creed and wanted to be associated with the leading people in his part of West Virginia. He conceded, however, that he also "reflected the fears and prejudices" of the time.

    His opponents used his Klan membership against him during his first run for the House of Representatives in 1952; Democratic leaders urged him to drop out of the race. But he stayed in and won, then spent decades apologizing for what he called a "sad mistake."

    Hey, look, I don't mean to be controversial or anything, but I'm not a huge fan of the Ku Klux Klan or the white supremacist movement or  racism in general. I'm sorry, it's just the way I was brought up. That said, I feel like being a West Virginian bigot and joining the Klan back in the '40s was probably just being a West Virginian back in the '40s. You probably walked out your front door, tripped over a twig and landed in the Klan.

    One thing that I liked about Byrd was that he served as a living fossil of what the Democratic Party used to be. A constant reminder that, at one time in the not-so-distant past, they were the party of institutionalized racism.

    Now that he's gone, I guess we'll just have to count on Mississippi Republican House candidate Bill Marcy to remind us.

    Tags: Civil Rights, House of Representatives, Ku Klux Klan, Racism, Robert Byrd, Senate, West Virginia