Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rules, norms and Nomic in the Senate

Yes, the Senate is going nuclear.  Back in November, I wrote that the filibuster was essentially dead for Supreme Court nominations, even though Reid only used it for sub-SCOTUS nominations.  Why?

Nomic.  Nomic is a ridiculous, stupid game created by a philosophy professor named Peter Suber in 1982.  What is the point of Nomic?  To change the rules of Nomic.  Yes, really.  The game is about re-writing the rules about making rules for Nomic.  Does your head hurt?  Good.  That's kind of the point.  It was a philosophical exercise in the circularity of rule-making and the question of the malleability of rules about rule-making.  It actually has some vague insight about process.  If the process about changing the process can be changed, then are rules meaningful?

Man, that's deep.

Good rule of thumb:  anytime you can imagine someone saying, "man, that's deep," it isn't.

Fuck Peter Suber.  Fuck him.  Fuck him for wasting time and brain cells like the fucking philosopher twerp he is.  I hate philosophers.  Bunch of wankers, the lot of them.  (Except Harry Frankfurt.  He rules.)

Anyway, the point is that rules are malleable, whether that hurts your Nomic-addled brain or not, and in the Senate, they have only ever really been norms, not even Nomic-style rules.  The filibuster has always existed at the sufferance of the majority because the cost of eliminating it in the long run has balanced the short run benefit of doing so, until now.

Using the nuclear option breaks the rules, as I have explained before.  It isn't even playing Nomic.  There are no rules.  Fuck Peter Suber.

The Senate will break its rules.  Mitch McConnell, having forced Harry Reid to knock over the board and break the rules in 2013, will now do the same.  The Senate is not, and never was governed by rules.

For those who want to go back and read what I said in November, here are the links to the "Future of the filibuster" series.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V


  1. However, Three Man is a great drinking game, because everyone makes silly and easily forgotten/violated rules, which leads to more drinking, which is the point.

    1. That reminds me of my high school drinking coach. Let's drink.