Bart Stupak’s C-Street Sepsis

Picture 138As you read Bart Stupak boasting of taking reproductive choice away from women, remember that he’s not just an otherwise good Democrat (he’s not, in fact, a Blue Dog) who consistently lets the agenda of the Catholic Church override the well-being of his constituents, he’s also one of C-Street’s top Democratic members.  This man, crowing over his legislative success is speaking as a representative of a group that preaches moral purity for others, but excuses itself from such moral guidelines with a back-slapping prayer lunch with the buddies. And then turns around and uses that moralizing to accrue political power.

HuffPost asked Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the lead Blue Dog negotiator, why he succeeded and the progressives failed.

“Because I didn’t threat[en]. These are the facts,” he said.

But you did threaten, a reporter pointed out.

No, Stupak said, it wasn’t a threat. It was a promise. “No, they know I’ll vote against the rule,” he said.

Stupak said the Blue Dogs have gradually been sending a message to leadership and that much of it goes back to a previous vote involving an appropriations bill that Blue Dogs wanted to include pro-life language.

In July, the House considered a Financial Services Appropriations bill that would allow publicly-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. Stupak and allies were not allowed an amendment, so they sought to “take down the rule” — in other words, round up enough votes to deny he bill a chance to get voted on on the floor. When time expired, the pro-lifers had prevailed. But Pelosi held the vote open for extra time and persuaded four members to switch their votes.

They didn’t win in the end, Stupak said, but they accomplished their goal.

“We wanted to send a message,” he said. “We went back and I said, ‘See, I can take down your rule.'”

He has held his fire since then, saving his strength for the health care bill.

“Now, I have not threatened that every time that we went to Rules Committee and we didn’t always get our pro-life amendments, I did not try to take down any rules. You have to pick your fights at the right time. You can’t be crying wolf all the time because you lose your wolfiness. You lose your credibility,” he said. “So I’m not going to lose my credibility. So you use it at certain times when it’s appropriate.”

Viewed through the lens of Stupak’s C Street membership, this victory lap (and all the others he has been doing) comes off as what it is: a naked grab for power through hypocritical moralizing.

Too bad that formula works so well for so many in Washington.

65 replies
  1. oaechief says:

    I’d like to say that Stupak is a despicable human being, but that would be giving him too much credit and insulting the likes of Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham.

    I’d like to compare Stupak to a ‘snake in the grass’ but that would be an insult to all the good snakes that rid of us of vermin.

    I’d like to compare Stupak to the H1N1 virus, but even that would be to generous.

    Even a dried up ol’ turd has fertilizer value, which Stupak distinctly lacks.

  2. PAR4 says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to make that C-street connection.Once again Marcy is the first one I’ve read to do that. Kudos

  3. rosalind says:

    so when one of the c-street brethren knocks up his mistress, will they be passing a collection plate while they pass the buck in their “on a ka-ching and a prayer” circle?

  4. Jim White says:

    He’s no patriot. I just tweeted Glenn Greenwald to let him know he should follow “How Would a Patriot Act?” with “How Would a Stupe Act?”

  5. skdadl says:

    Credibility = “wolfiness.” Interesting equation.

    I almost wish it were true, y’know. I have often thought of the little boy who cried wolf over the last eight or nine years, listening to the enthusiasts for the war on terra. They never seem to lose their wolfy credit with a lot of people, and I can’t figure out why that is, given so little evidence.

    I really feel for you over this vile amendment. It seems that we can never trust that we’ve won this battle even when we do win it, which sometimes we do.

  6. Jim White says:

    So, does anyone buy the BS supposedly claiming that Obama will strip the Stupakity out of the bill in conference?

    No, I don’t buy it either, cause Stupak will stomp his feet and claim his cabal will vote no on the conference report if it’s stripped.

    • emptywheel says:

      I actually think that Obama might trade off choice for the public option by saying he needed to drop the Supak amendment to get Olympia Snowe on board, but to get her on board, he would have to drop the PO.

      • PJEvans says:

        If they leave Stupidk’s amendment in, I’d rather see the whole thing vetoed.

        I’m f*cking tired of being expected to support politicians who turn around and forget everything they promised, throwing us under the bus –
        ‘us’ here being everyone who isn’t wealthy, male or conservative.
        I want a better party, not just better Democrats in Congress.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Yes, and then again no.
          Most worrying is the lack of capacity to compromise, nor to recognize that one-size-fits-all so-called ‘solutions’ are formulas for disaster.

          FWIW, I think we’re still caught in the riptides of big changes; there are still many in Congress who are really from an era that has passed but they have not adapted.

          Ted Stevens, born: November 18, 1923
          Charles Grassley, born: September 17, 1933
          Orrin Hatch, born: March 22, 1934
          James Mountain Inhofe, born: November 17, 1934
          Richard Craig Shelby, born: May 6, 1934
          you get the idea…
          Of these random 5, one is no longer serving. But both Stevens and Inhofe are/were basically elected to serve Big Oil

          Now a few recent Senate Dems:
          Mark Emery Udall, born: July 18, 1950
          Michael Farrand Bennet, born: November 28, 1964
          — (note: Bennet was appointed, and may be the only Senator younger than the President…?)
          Maria E. Cantwell, born: October 13, 1958
          — (note: Cantwell may be the only member of the US Senate with background in the software industry; Barbara Boxer represents the region that spawned Google, Apple, Macromedia, and other innovative software initiatives)
          Patricia Lynn “Patty” Murray, born: October 11, 1950

          Now, if you were to line up the birth dates of US Senators, there would be plenty of older Dems. Nevertheless, if you took the **average** birth date of Dem Senators and House members, I suspect that it would fall a lot closer to Udall’s birth year of 1950, or to Cantwell’s 1958.

          However, I’m guessing that the **average** birth dates of Republican federal electeds would fall closer to 1938.

          If my hunch is correct, that’s a 20-year generational shift.
          It’s also a shift in economics, environmental scarcity, etc, etc…

          As a snake sheds its old, dessicated skin, we still need to ‘slough off’ a few Republicans who have a death-grip on the Senate. And like it or not, Harry Reid (who is still in their demographic, although culturally much different), has to deal with those intractable knuckleheads.

          Lest I be accused of ‘agism’, I feel a need to point out that there are other factors at play besides age – the Republicans are far more aligned with outdated technologies than the Dems that I listed. And that may help explain their blindness with respect to financial reform, as they are also ‘blind’ to the complexity of the abortion issue.

          • PJEvans says:

            I think party plays a bigger role than age, although, yeah, the Rs seem to be mentally much older than Ds. (Like pre-1900. /s)

            Be interesting to get all the birthdates, sort them, and compare age with voting patterns, though. Someone might get a paper out of it.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Thx, I was thinking that could be a useful and pretty intriguing little mini-project. I was surprised myself; had no idea that some of the Dem birthdates actually fall quite close to 1960.

              So Inhofe, Stevens, Hatch, Shelby, and Grassley were all born around the time of the birth of radio, but actually before commercial radio was viable.

              And Bennet of CO was born… 30 years later, in the era of network television, two years before ‘The Sound of Music’ and just after the Beatles arrived in the USA.
              (Actually, Bennet’s 1964 birthdate puts him 41 years after the 1923 birthdate of Toobz Stevens.)

              So when Jobs and Gates (and Allen) were tweaking early code around 1981, along with some who frequent this blog, Toobz would have been nearly 50, and Bennet would have been starting college.


              • nonplussed says:

                Unix was invented in 1969, Fortran in 1954, COBOL in 1959. Unless you don’t consider them “code”, by 1981, code had been tweaked for quite a while. I had classes in said tweaking many years before 81…

                • Hmmm says:

                  I think the point was that those guys were old when the PC revolution hit, not that the PC revolution was the dawn of computing. Obviously machine code programming started when programmable computers did, and that was much, much earlier.

                • PJEvans says:

                  But PCs as something you could buy, ready to use, aren’t there until the 80s.
                  Remember, the Altairs and Imsais are mid-70s, running CP-M on on the S-100 bus, and you had to pay extra to get someone else to do the physical assembly of the machine.
                  The addition of the cassette deck, and later the floppy disk, made PCs as we know them viable: you didn’t have to flip switches on the front panel, or feed a reel of paper tape through the reader, to do stuff with it.

              • PJEvans says:

                They would have had radios in their households as children, or have known people who did. Radio took off in the 20s. (KDKA, among other early stations – they may have been the first, but there’s at least one solid contender for that title on the west coast.)

          • emptywheel says:

            First of all, remember this is the House, not the Senate.

            And in the House, two of the oldest are Dingell and Conyers, both of whom voted against their MI colleague (though Obey and Murtha voted with Stupak). The Republicans are reasonably young in the House.

            And in teh Senate, don’t ignore people like Carl Levin, or Robert Byrd (though i suspect Byrd would vote for the Stupak amendment if he had a chance). Ditto on Inouye.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Excellent points, and the thing about the younger Republicans in the House is how brainless they appear to be.

              And Sen Carl Levin is one of my heros, although I’d sure like to see some action on tax havens ‘sooner, rather than later’. His capacity to distill and synthesize vast amounts of information is genuinely inspiring.

              But I’m still intrigued with the demographics of the Congress, after that little preliminary exploration. There seems to be some factor related to information seeking and also creativity that’s lurking in the data somewhere….

              Fundamentally, it’s probably most related to cognitive styles.

  7. Gunner says:

    Marcy is yet another JACKASS on the westside? along with Pete and Dick probably don’t have to answer

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    hypocritical moralizing.

    Too much of current American political discourse in this nutshell. And I do mean “NUT”shell.
    And I’m pretty damn sanctimonious myself, so it’s not as if I’m a completely shiny pot calling bullshit on this sooty kettle.

  9. Jim White says:

    The only civilian killed in the Fort Hood tragedy:

    Michael Cahill was also passionate about the health care debate, sending letters to legislators and writing messages online – all arguing for universal healthcare and a public option.

    James Cahill remembered his father as an intellectual man who read anything he could get his hands on and loved watching C-SPAN.

    I wonder if he ever came to the Lake…

  10. Gunner says:

    Joe wants to stop PO but never mentions hey if we stop sending troops we could pay for health care and more!!!

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Went off to do something else, then flashed on that moment in late September when Sen Kyl (R-AZ), refused to support maternity benefits because he didn’t need them, and his mother hadn’t needed them in over 60 years.


    So, no abortions.
    But also no maternity care?

    No hypocrisy or moralizing there, eh?

  12. brendanscalling says:

    as atrios says, he needs the santorum treatment. we have to so thoroughly trash his reputation and name that he can’t walk down the street without being ridiculed. the urban dictionary entry for stupak went on my facebook page today:

    A medical condition (subset of sepsis) resulting from unsafe – unnecessarily so – back alley abortions as a result of the “Stupak Amendment” to the 2009 Health Care Reform Bill.

    Doctor: Unfortunately, while this would have been covered under private insurance carriers, public plans were barred from including women’s health measures. I’m sorry, you’ll have to see “Dr. Julio” in the alley behind 7-11.

    (Three weeks later.)

    Doctor: I believe you’ve developed Stupak, a form of sepsis, a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria.

    yeah, it’s bad form to copy an entire entry, but it’s worse form to throw women in the garbage.

    Spread it around. “Stupak” is another word for “sepsis”.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    C Street’s mentality seems to be do unto others what you don’t want to do yourself. Theirs would be garden variety hypocrisy were their desire for power and their ueber-conservative, Randian agenda not so institutionalized. That they are makes C Street a threat to representative democracy. Its wishes should be actively exposed and opposed, not silently accepted by the Beltway as just another interest group among many.

    Tolerance for their vicious hypocrisy in the pursuit of power from so intimate a vantage point inside the Beltway makes their methodology and ends seem acceptable, which is the first step in allowing them to take what they want.

    • dakine01 says:

      It might surprise you but some women can’t use birth control pills.

      Of course, she could also demand that the guy wear a rubber. Seems to me that’s as fair as requiring the woman to be the only one responsible for the birth control. And as effective as birth control as well (as well as much safer for stopping STDs).

  14. Elliott says:

    Sepsis in more ways han one-
    Ensign’s moved out of the C Street House

    Las Vegas Sun:

    Sen. John Ensign has moved out of the C Street house, the Christian home he shared with other elected officials on Capitol Hill that came under scrutiny for its residents’ beliefs and practices and their role in trying to end the Nevada Republican’s affair with a campaign staff member.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Las Vegas Sun described C Street’s house as a “Christian home”? It’s hard to imagine a peasant village Jew entering that den of power, profit and hypocrisy and finding it an expression of his faith rather than what he ardently opposed.

  15. Knoxville says:

    No, Stupak said, it wasn’t a threat. It was a promise. “No, they know I’ll vote against the rule,” he said.

    When Stupak said that they knew that he’d vote against the rule, what did he mean exactly by “the rule.”

    • Peterr says:

      Every bill that comes to the floor of the House goes through the committee of jurisdiction and also through the Rules Committee. The committee on jurisdiction prepares the bill itself (“here’s what we want to see debated and approved”), and the Rules committee proposes the rules for debate.

      Thus, “the rule” would include how much time to be given to each side, who controls the time, and the number and scope of amendments that would be considered during the debate.

      If you can vote down the rule, you stop consideration of the bill. It goes back to the Rules committee until they come up with a new rule, and you try it all again.

      • Knoxville says:

        Thank you so much for your explanation. Learning as fast as I can!

        Pelosi should have called his bluff.

        If Pelosi had not wanted the ruin H R 3962 with this Stupak Amendment, couldn’t she have just whipped out a Dirty Harry quote and stopped it?

        Wouldn’t it have been difficult for Stupak and friends to have gotten enough votes to block the rule on supposedly historic health care reform?

        • Peterr says:

          Stupak proposed his amendment in committee, and lost there. When the bill went to the Rules committee, Pelosi and Stupak tried to work out some kind of deal to get language acceptable to both sides into the bill, but that failed. As a result, Stupak asked the Rules committee to allow his amendment a vote on the floor, and the committee went along.

          Could Stupak have beaten the rule? From the way the vote went on the amendment itself, there’s a decent chance the answer is probably “yes.” Had Nancy whipped the Rules committee to keep the amendment out of the rule, and then had the rule voted down, that would really have made life difficult for her — not just in dealing with health care, but anything else.

          • Knoxville says:

            Again, thank you.

            In general terms, would it be correct to say that the legislation we got last night – H R 3962 with the Stupak Amendment – creates a public health insurance option that will be available to some, but only few years from now, and that it creates a new health insurance exchange to force greater competition among private plans so as to bring costs down, but that none of these will be available to women unless they voluntarily give up their constitutional right in a matter of conscience?

          • powwow says:

            Had Nancy whipped the Rules committee to keep the amendment out of the rule, and then had the rule voted down, that would really have made life difficult for her — not just in dealing with health care, but anything else.

            A caveat to your helpful and clear explanations, Peterr: There is (very unfortunately for democratic self-government) no independence on the House Rules Committee – they are completely controlled by the Speaker. She doesn’t need to “whip” them – they obey her, if she gives them direction, period. This was made exceedingly clear Friday/Saturday between 1 and 2 a.m., when the obviously-prewritten rule was ruthlessly adhered to by the Democratic members, quashing every contrary suggestion by the Republicans (to let amendments through), without debate. And note, too, that every female member on the Democratic side had left the room before the vote, knowing what was in the Speaker-ordained rule, and thereby carefully avoiding on-the-record accountability for passing her rule or the need to ‘break protocol’ to go on record against it.

            Stupak and Kaptur won – but behind closed doors, apparently after they left the closed-door meetings at about 10 or 11 p.m. (KagroX saw Kaptur come into the Rules Committee room about then) and before the Rules Committee voted to adopt “the rule” (a rule that was simply handed to them, already containing the Stupak amendment – it was on blue paper, FWIW) at about 1:15 a.m. [I’m pretty confident that these closed-door meetings with Stupak, evidently involving the President, are where Henry Waxman was spending his time Friday, rather than at the Rules Committee, where he had been expected; Frank Pallone (very capably) filled in for Waxman at the Rules Committee “on two minutes’ notice”.]

  16. Slideguy says:

    The Democrats continue to play the game in the Republican frame, arguing point-by-point, amendment-by-amendment. Pelosi and Reid haven’t learned how to play the game by its current rules.

    There is video of Jim DeMint from last summer where he gives the game away, saying that if they can stop health care reform, they can “break” Obama. Pelosi and Reid should have had the Dem du jour on every Sunday show reminding people of that. That footage should have been in ads in every state represented by a Blue Dog. And every ad should have been capped by the statement, “These people are playing politics with your life.”

    The only Dem with that kind of courage these days seems to be Alan Grayson.

  17. solerso68 says:

    liberals gotta find a way to pay stupak back for taking his “victory lap”. stupak needs to made an example of.

  18. DrZen says:

    Obama is not going to stand up against the Republicans because they are a useful tool in negotiating the package down to what he wants.

  19. laurastrand says:

    note to Bart S; fuck you you fucking fuck!
    Friends of the Lake, please excuse my tasteless and or offense – yet well deserved comment.

  20. kellygrrrl says:

    wonder what those C-Streeters would say if we demanded an amendment blocking Federal funds for Viagra and ED meds.

    also, is the IRS ready to send the Catholic Church their tax bill yet?

    • Knoxville says:

      wonder what those C-Streeters would say if we demanded an amendment blocking Federal funds for Viagra and ED meds.

      such a low blow is, well, entirely appropriate. Of the 64 turncoat dems who voted for the Stupak Amendment, how many of them were men? I believe the correct answer is 62.

  21. onitgoes says:

    C Street is behind most of the worst b.s. legislation that we see. These tools live by one set of rules for themselves, which includes any of the “their women” – not just mistresses, but wives, daughters, sisters – being able to get safe abortions on demand. Wealthy women have mostly always been able to buy a safe abortion, even if it meant traveling to another country to do so.

    They are lying hypocrits of the lowest and most venal kind. They use their ersatz religion in much the same way that the Roman Catholic church does: to enrich themselves – mainly the white male power elite – while forcing the serfs to live by a different set of much more onerous “rules.”

    It’s all an old boys club social network, where they back each other up, including, yes, collecting for each other’s mistresses’ pay-offs and so forth. Yes, I know that there are some women involved, but the vast majority are men. Their goal is to dominate and hold back anyone who is not part of their group, which mainly includes the less weathy, the poor, women, gays, minorities, and so on. In other words: rich white men holding down the rest of us for their enrichment and empowerment.

    Same old, same old.

    I, too, wish there was a better, third party bc Democratic pols are hand in glove with the C Street crowd. Ugh. Very depressing.

  22. powwow says:

    To be somewhat contrarian, I have to say that I admired the methods of Stupak and Kaptur, if not the objective of their methods.

    Just think for a moment about what improvements to the base bill might have been possible – or, at a minimum, substantively debated on the House floor – if the Progressive Caucus, instead of impotently letting their meaningless “robust public option” bluff be called even before the conferencing process began, had played the same form of successful brinksmanship against the undemocratic rule, that Stupak & Co. pulled off – behind closed doors all day and into the night Friday, topped off by their public visit at midnight with the Rules Committee.

    Granted, some progressive ideas weren’t going to get enough Democratic votes to pass on the floor – without Republican support – but what was the harm in insisting, or letting them try? Medicare plus 5%, Kucinich’s state waiver for single payer that had already passed committee, a biologic ‘perfecting’ amendment re evergreening, etc., etc. could have seen the light of day. The only “harm” was that such votes might have exposed members (and corporate-beholden leaders) of the “Democratic Party” as the frauds they are, and so any risk of that had to be avoided at all (good government) cost.

    And then consider how the debate might have been improved and informed if all worthy amendments had been considered, including, for example Oregon Republican Walden’s simple suggestions to ensure enough rural representation on the key new Executive Branch bodies that will be implementing this legislation (ideas that had passed unanimously in committee only to be stripped later by Democratic leadership). [You should see the geographic reach of Walden’s eastern Oregon district.] There happened to be a telling moment of foreshadow during Walden’s persistent and passionate testimony for his amendments, when Rules Committee member Dennis Cardoza (Democratic Blue Dog) spoke up in favor of them (as did Republican Foxx later). Cardoza wanted Walden to know that he’d ‘put in a word for’ Walden’s amendments with… yes, this is who the Party controlling Congress has ceded legislative power to, and is letting call the shots as this process winds down… the president. [Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.] Walden was purportedly at the Rules Committee, at 10 or 11 p.m. at night, to ask the Rules Committee, of which Cardoza is a member, to allow his amendments through to the House floor. And yet a member of that committee dropped the pretense of independence just long enough to alert Walden that the real (if backroom, and publicly ‘hands off’) authority was being given private encouragement by Cardoza to grace Walden by including his language in the final bill, even while bipartisan support on the Speaker-controlled Slaughter Rules Committee itself was insufficient to get Walden’s (or any other non-Stupak) amendments to the House floor…

    What Marcy Kaptur needs to do now, if she has the principles she claims to have, is to practice her new-found “bringing down the rule” skills on banking and campaign finance reform, two of her avowed passions. No reason to limit to abortion legislation this practice of insisting that your voice be heard and democratic process be honored, in the face of Party leadership opposition, is there, Ms. Kaptur? You’ll have Ron Paul of the Republicans, at least, with you on the banking reform. So don’t hide your light under a bushel, Rep. Kaptur – time and money’s awasting.

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