Congress’ Budgeting Would Baffle a Martian

If a martian landed here today with the mission to bring back information on how Congress makes budgets, he might report back there is no sign of intelligent life in Washington — at least when it comes to budgeting. On the other hand, he might conclude the opposite: The budget process is so convoluted and complex that officials have obviously encrypted the whole thing so no other country or planet can crack the code as to how U.S. budgets are really made.

McConnell’s Lament Stirs Fresh Breeze of Hope

It is not unusual for sitting members of Congress to twitch and moan that the other party is destroying the institution. The majority party lambastes the minority for obstructing the important business of the country and the minority counter-bastes the majority for excluding it from making those important decisions.

Senate Leader Reid’s Rule Recalls House Czar Speaker Reed

The joke used to be that the House of Representatives has dozens of rules while the Senate has just two: unanimous consent and exhaustion.

However, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the trigger on the “nuclear option” on Nov. 21 to effect a change in the filibuster rule for most nominations, it can now be said that the Senate has three rules: unanimous consent, exhaustion and Reid’s rule. The latter can be defined as any procedural edict the majority leader wishes to impose on the Senate so long as he has the backing of just 50 members.

Historical Perspective on the Purge of Jang Song Thaek

The December 2013 purge and execution of Jang Song Thaek, who was often described as the No. 2 in North Korea, came four months after the ruling Korean Worker’s Party announced that the Ten Points of the Monolithic Ideological System, the basic tenets of the unitary leadership system in North Korea, had been updated for the new leader, Kim Jong Un.

Don’t Dismiss Bicameral Working Group Out of Hand

Procedural Politics
Roll Call
Oct. 9, 2013

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, surprised even his own party caucus colleagues Tuesday by introducing a bill to create a Bicameral Working Group on Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth, then calling it up in his committee an hour later.

Procedural Maneuvers Go Nowhere in Twin Crises

Procedural Politics
Roll Call
Oct. 22, 2013

When asked if I intended to write a column on all the procedural moves and counter-moves during the twin crises of the shutdown and near debt default, I said “no.” I didn’t want to dignify or seem to make sense of such senseless forays into futility.

A procedural flow chart of the moves would probably resemble a wobbly, downward spiral into a sealed cul-de-sac — picture the flight of an inebriated bumble bee in death’s throes.

Aaron Miller on President Obama's Address on Syria

President Barack Obama's speech to the American public Monday night was eloquent and forceful. But given the odds arrayed against him -- some of his own making -- the persuader in chief likely won't make the sale.

Indeed, it's likely that none of the other great communicators and explainers -- Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- could have either. And here's why:

Haleh Esfandiari on President Obama's Address on Syria

In a crisp and cogent 15 minute address, President Obama laid out his case for military action against Syria. It was a strong speech—even if not always forcefully delivered—because the president addressed all the thorny issues regarding US military action against Syria raised in the last two weeks; and he did so in language that was simple, clear and honest.

Wilson Center Experts Provide Reaction and Analysis on the President's Address on Syria

A Glimmer of Hope on Syria---Robin Wright

'Challenges to Democracy in the Western Hemisphere': Cynthia Arnson Testifies before House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Western Hemisphere

Cindy Arnson, Director for the Latin American Program, joined a panel of experts in testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on challenges to democracy in the Western Hemisphere.

Watch the live webcast below:


Chairman Salmon on the hearing: