2013/11/22

Fainting couch over loss of the filibuster


Y'know, Dana Milbank, as a Washington Post editorialist, gets very well compensated for doing what a blogger does. One would think his job would involve just a bit of research. Even a minor blogger like me (I blog when I gol durn jolly well feel like it) knows that the filibuster is not in the Constitution. Yet he states:

“Congress is broken,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday before holding a party-line vote that disposed of rules that have guided and protected the chamber since 1789.

*Sigh*, no Dana, in order for the filibuster to have been around since 1789, it would have to have been established along with the Constitution and it wasn't. According to Wikipedia “The first Senate filibuster occurred in 1837.” It was only a theoretical possibility up until then. Frankly, when you look at the legislation it's been used to block, it's a wonder it's survived up until now. The cloture, the method of breaking a filibuster and allowing the Senate to get on with its business, was not developed along with the filibuster. It was developed in 1917, nearly a century later.

The filibuster is nothing more than a Senate rule. It's not a Constitutional Amendment or some other kind of sacrosanct procedure that should be preserved at all costs.

But Reid’s remedy—calling a simple-majority vote to undo more than two centuries of custom—has created a situation in which the minority leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), is expected to use the minority’s remaining powers to gum up the works, and to get revenge when Republicans regain the majority.

Milbank at least gets that right. The Democrats ended a “custom,” not anything that was codified in legislation. This tells me that Milbank isn't stupid enough to think that the filibuster is part of the Constitution. It suggests that he's simply pandering to what he sees as an ignorant audience.

The really annoying thing is this:

In fairness, Milbank’s column acknowledges Republican “abuse,” and I’m glad. But he and other critics of Senate Democrats have offered nothing constructive on what the majority party was expected to do in the face of unprecedented abuses.

Y'know, it's funny, but somehow, the British Parliament and the US House of Representatives seem to get along just fine without a filibuster. And as the Daily Kos article says

As if it could get any worse! As if Republicans haven't already gummed up the gears to the point [where the Senate has] ground to a halt. Take just this week. There's significant bipartisan support for both of the sexual assault amendments to the defense authorization bill—a bill you'd think Republicans would want to get passed, and soon. But no, they've refused to allow votes on those amendments...

Well, the right-wing blog Weasel Zippers recommends denying Democrats the tradition of “unanimous consent” until the filibuster is restored, but that sounds to me like a recipe for even more loss of the Senate minority's powers to the point where they'd become completely irrelevant. And as the piece points out, it's been quite clear for some time now that were the Republicans to regain their majority status, the filibuster would quickly become history anyway.


2013/11/18

Looking at it from the other side

The other day, I and a group of others were asked to try and see things from the other political side's perspective. I saw these two comments below a Smerconish article:

  • 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 9:26 AM, 11/17/2013
    If this summary below from a law professor is true, are you sure you want to encourage more and more people who are dependent on the government welfare voting for more and more politicians who support more and more taxpayer funded welfare? Also encouraging college students to vote is always a bad idea since they mostly are uninformed, irrational, lead astray by professors and have not paid taxes yet.

    Food Stamps for Thought!

    "In aggregate, the map of the territory Romney won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income areas and living off various forms of government welfare..."

    If we want fair elections, have party affiliation removed from all candidates names and ballots and force the voters to vote for the candidate's beliefs and not for any party.
    GAC
  • 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 11:05 AM, 11/17/2013
    A Republic ceases to exist when the people realize they can vote themselves benefits. Shame on the Obama/Smerconish line of thinking.
    Thoughtful&concernedvoter

  • Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/inquirer/20131117_The_Pulse__Why_so_many_roadblocks_on_the_way_to_casting_a_ballot_.html#8lmi576l3C6PU6xu.99

    Posted 9:26 AM, 11/17/2013
    If this summary below from a law professor is true, are you sure you want to encourage more and more people who are dependent on the government welfare voting for more and more politicians who support more and more taxpayer funded welfare? Also encouraging college students to vote is always a bad idea since they mostly are uninformed, irrational, lead astray by professors and have not paid taxes yet.

    Food Stamps for Thought!

    "In aggregate, the map of the territory Romney won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income areas and living off various forms of government welfare..."

    If we want fair elections, have party affiliation removed from all candidates names and ballots and force the voters to vote for the candidate's beliefs and not for any party.
    GAC
    Posted 11:05 AM, 11/17/2013
    A Republic ceases to exist when the people realize they can vote themselves benefits. Shame on the Obama/Smerconish line of thinking.
    Thoughtful&concernedvoter
     GAC doesn't give us the link to the fellow who makes this observation, but I have no reason to doubt that the observation is entirely true. Problem is, it's incomplete. If we look at Alexander Cockburn's description in The Nation:
    On March 23, 1983, a friend of mine watched as a naval officer and a defense contractor in the Fort Myer Officers' Club in Virginia listened impatiently as Reagan churned his way through a longish overture to his excited launch of Star Wars. Then, as Reagan began to token forth the billion-dollar feeding trough of SDI, they screamed to each other in incredulous delight, "He's going to do it...he's doing it...he's done it! We're rich, we're rich!" With these words, they both made a rush to the telephones.
     What's that you say? That, somehow, what motivates the already-wealthy and the not-so-wealthy are in some strange way distinct from each other? That's obvious nonsense. Out of the $3.8 trillion in the 2014 budget in total spending, the Farm Bill, which contains the Food Stamps/SNAP program, is 4% of the total budget, keep in mind that the bill also contains farm price supports. Defense is 17%, Veteran's benefits are 4% and transportation, housing, education and energy are 4%, 2%, 2% and 1% respectively. Medicare and Social Security make up around 58% of all spending.

    If we look at total Federal spending by county, we can see that rural, i.e., Republican-heavy counties, are pretty flush with Federal cash. So what GAC and TCV are going along with is called "cherry-picking of the data," choosing to look at very small slices of highly select and chosen data to reach really broad conclusions.

    2013/11/17

    8 things about me


    1. My grandfather, my dad and me were named Richmond P., Richmond and Richmond L. avoiding the junior, senior, III thing, but as it's a fairly unusual name, all clearly of the same family.

    2. My grandfather joined the service after World War I, but left well before World War II; Dad joined after World War II, but was serving at a shore command before Vietnam heated up; my service began just as the 1991 Persian Gulf War was finishing up and I was long out of the service before the 2003 Iraq War started up. We all served, but we all missed seeing any action.

    3. Two aptitude tests I took, one was a color choosing test that said I have a hard time really settling on and committing to anything and the other was an extensive battery of tests that concluded I'm in the top 1% when it comes to knowledge of words, top 10% organizational ability, bottom 5% creative imagination and bottom 10% ability to make a plan and stick to it. I've always appreciated the value of teamwork as I have both great strengths and great weaknesses.

    4. I appreciate it when people are humble and can admit mistakes, but got very tired of the advice columnist Ann Landers constantly having to reverse herself and apologize for giving bad advice. Miss Manners was much more my type of columnist. I don't remember her ever having to reverse herself. I just believe she took her time and gave her answers more thought and thereby simply didn't need to go back and reverse herself.

    5. I read a lot as a youth. I had a problem with science fiction because I had no way of knowing which authors were good and worth following. I decided to focus more on reading history as I knew the general outline of what happened and to whom. I could get a general outline of the actions that “would” take place in the books. It wasn't the endings that mattered, it was the journey and how people got from A to B.

    6. In my youth, the late 60s and early 70s, we got lots and lots of popular, paperback histories of World War II. I decided that I wasn't interested in following the stories of generals like Patton and Eisenhower because they had it relatively easy. They had well-supplied forces and a competent and moral Commander-in-Chief. The German generals didn't have either of those advantages, so I found their stories much more interesting.

    7. Did ten years in the Navy, six of them in Norfolk, VA; two of them in Gaeta, Italy (Halfway between Rome & Naples) and two in Pensacola, FL. Good times!

    8. Not many paid jobs since then, but been doing lots with web sites and other stuff.

    2013/11/08

    Thor: The Dark World


    Very good. Probably an overload of grandeur, they try to put in a few human touches and quieter parts, but it's generally so many vast, epic happenings that it all comes across as far larger than life and one kind of loses track of the smaller, human parts of the story.
    What's probably the best single run of Thor is reprinted in the Thor Omnibus, covering Walter Simonson's run on the series from 1983 to 1987.
    I followed the comic on and off up through 2011, but haven't read it much since. Jane Foster has been pretty scarce lately, but Sif was until very recently featured in Journey into Mystery. This short run had both a female writer and a female artist, so it explored lots of aspects that the male superheroes usually don't explore.

    2013/11/02

    12 Years a Slave


    Very inspiring to see how tough and resilient some people can be. Horrible to see how inhumane others can be. As with Django Unchained, it's made clear that slavery wasn't something you just walked away from. It was a very powerful and dehumanizing institution that was so difficult to escape that masters and mistresses had no problem telling a slave to go to another plantation or to a shop in town to do an errand. There was no easy escape.
    I read James Michener's Texas many years ago and one passage really struck me. It concerned how some just-freed slaves made an arrangement with their former owners. They agreed to stay with the people who were now their employers, they agreed to keep doing the same work, but they insisted on a corner of the plantation to be their own property. They commuted to work each day, but now got to go home to their own property each night. It wasn't the work or in many cases the people that slaves found intolerable, it was being owned and not being able to make decisions about their own lives or being able to build up something for their future or to arrange anything for their descendants.