The Nullification Chronicles Roll On

220px-John_C_Calhoun_by_Mathew_Brady,_March_1849-crop.jpgThe Congress is finally moving ahead on a budget bill and a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut. End of obstructionism and modern "nullification"? Unfortunately not:

- Our old friend Sen. Mitch McConnell has, under the Senate's hallowed "each man a majority" precept, objected to and thereby prevented the confirmation of the dozens upon dozens of appointments listed here. The vast majority of them are noncontroversial; about 70 are military promotions; some are necessary for continuation of routine functions; but none of them will go ahead for now. The reason is reportedly that McConnell wants President Obama to promise not to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. This is an extension of previous GOP efforts to treat the CPFB, the board generally considered Elizabeth Warren's brainchild, as a still-hypothetical entity that can be prevented from operating, even though it has been passed and enacted into law.

- Similarly, the National Labor Relations Board will shortly be de facto "nullified," since Senate Republicans can block the appointment of members to vacant seats and therefore deny it a legal quorum to operate.

- Greg Sargent of the Washington Post explains again why obstructionism creates public hostility to both Democrats and Republicans, but eventually makes sense as a pure-political strategy for the GOP since a failure to govern inevitably weakens the incumbent president most of all.

This is really the way to run a modern country.
The 1849 Mathew Brady daguerreotype of John C. Calhoun hereby becomes the running logo for the Modern Nullification Chronicles.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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