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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
A blog 'for independent minds'
A Senate adrift?
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Feb. 16, 2013 11:05 a.m.



Danny W., reputedly a transplant just retired from Capitol Hill, has been bemoaning a Senate suddenly devoid of liberal lions, collaboration and respect. Gail Collins chooses a more current metaphor:



A Senate that is beginning to resemble a bad Carnival cruise. They’re dead in the water, nothing’s working and the chief engineer is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.




There ought to be room on the bridge for the befuddled Harry Reid, but it’s the Republicans who are more interesting.  The new star is Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is determined to prove the Tea Party is as crazy and obstructionist as ever. Even Republicans are aghast as his McCarthyite tactics in the war on Chuck Hagel. “The appropriate way to treat Senator Hagel is to be as tough as you want to be, but don’t be disrespectful or malign his character,” John McCain told the Times.



What do these guys expect to gain from beating up on Hagel for no good reason? The latest justification for filibustering the nomination is that Graham and McCain are still mad about Benghazi, which involves the State Dept., not Defense, and which Hagel had nothing to do with. I’d like someone who understands the Republican caucus to explain to me why Tea Party neo-isolationists like Cruz and Rand Paul are siding with neo-cons like McCain and Graham.



Meanwhile, another freshman senator made the news this week by doing exactly what senators are supposed to do: oversight of federal officials.  In polite but pointed questioning, Elizabeth Warren elicited from a panel of regulatory officials a specific point:  Agencies across the board are accepting settlements from the big banks and never taking them to trial. “Too big to fail,” under the Obama administration means “to big to take to trial” and settlements for law-breaking have become just the cost of doing business.   And for those who see partisanship at every turn: Need I mention Warren is a Democrat putting the heat on Democratic appointees?

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