The infamous filibuster Archives

February 13, 2009

Self-tied hands

After watching the courtship of those three ultra-odious senatorial aisle-crossin' repugs -- if I were a Hoper, I'd scream "just do it -- end the 60 vote rule!" (As our dear father S pointed out here miles and miles back.)

Now you got the helm, Dems, so do not quibble! Have no scruple! Go directly to the nuclear option and do it immediately! Just push down the plunger, boys and girls. You got the 51 votes. Blow away the senate's "qualified majority" 60 vote rule. Flush the filibuster right down the drain.

Once and for all, end this vicious anti-people blight. Far from its horrendous Hollywood inversion, shown above, in "Mr Smith" -- no relation to our abbot here -- this rule ain't there to shield decent little guys when they stand up against the corrupt steam roller.

This rude vestige of the slave power, perpetuated by the slave power's rough-knuckled nephew Jim Crow, nurtured by clownish reaction from all points of the compass -- like Strom Thurmond here, the reality beneath the Frank Capra sugarcoat --

... was ever the comfort of the comfortable few, a legal lead pipe, ever ready to sap the people's will, and not in a dark alley, either, but right out there on the Senate floor in broad daylight.

Of course the Democrats never will untie their own hands. That would be to take full responsibility for their repeated rollovers.

As all of you SMBIVA rovers know, from that blunt fact hangs the real tale.

April 2, 2009

I sold you and you sold -- naah, I just sold you

As every three-year-old in the country now knows, the Democrats are getting ready for a breathtaking betrayal of the labor movement on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), otherwise known as "card check", a measure that makes it easier to organize unions. The filibuster will be their excuse.

Shown above is Strom Thurmond in his glory days, a man with whose execrable name the splendid Senatorial institution of the filibuster will be forever linked.

Let's take a quick Wayback trip to 2005, when Pwogs were eager to defend Senator Thurmond's favorite -- well, second-favorite -- institution against those mean ole Bushies. Here's The Nation:

Fight for the Filibuster
posted by Peter Rothberg on 05/23/2005

A vote to end debate on the nomination of extreme conservative Priscilla Owen to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24--the first strike in the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations. Now is the time to tell your senators that you oppose eliminating the filibuster.

The filibuster, which Peter and his friends loved so much back then, is now deployable by the mean ole Republicans. And so it's the Democrats' handy excuse for not passing EFCA. No wonder the old pros wanted to hang onto it -- though what was the pwogs' excuse?

The Democrats were all strongly behind EFCA as long as it had no chance of passing. But now that they have a majority in both houses, they must find a face-saving way to lose the fight (except Dianne Feinstein -- shown left, with another fox in the hencoop -- who apparently needs no excuse and has thrown EFCA overboard with a shameless barefaced fuck-you grin.)

Enter the filibuster! Those mean ole Republicans who wanted to take the filibuster away are now going to... use it! (This is a nice mirror image of the Democrats, who fought to keep it and didn't use it. Anybody see a pattern here?)

This is the burden of the donkeys' song: Since us good-hearted well-meaning Democrats only have a majority, not a filibuster-proof supermajority... ah well, we fought the good fight. Better luck in the next life, toilers of America. Oh and don't forget to vote for us in the next Most Important Elections In History, scheduled for 2010. Give us a filibuster-proof supermajority! And then we'll find some brand-new way to sell you out!

So far, we're wading hip-deep in bullshit, right? Well, hold your breath, because we're about to step off a ledge right into the bottomless Marianas Trench of bullshit.

The filibuster is a straw man. There is an arcane provision in the Senate's rules that any measure covered under what's called "reconciliation" can't be filibustered. It's a long story, but the short of it is that what is and what isn't covered by "reconciliation" is ultimately determined by the presiding officer of the Senate. And that would, of course, be Vice President Joe Biden.

The Republicans used this "reconciliation" dodge a lot back when they were the majority. I think we can safely predict that the Democrats will not -- and most especially, that they will not on the EFCA bill. Obie could put a stop to this treachery with a couple of phone calls, but he will not make them.

Obie, and the congressional Democrats, climbed labor's support for EFCA into office, and now they'll kick it away -- as they did with the public's warsickness. And no doubt labor, just like the so-called antiwar movement, will take the kick with a shit-eating grin and ask, Please sir, may I have another?

* * * * *

Update: Owen and I were thinking along the same lines. He writes:

Who sez there ain't no way to beat the fillibuster?

"Senate Democrats are increasingly receptive to using a controversial budget shortcut to ease passage of health-care reform legislation, a shift in stance encouraged by the White House but denounced by Republicans, who say the maneuver is an unfair partisan trick."
My personal GOP idol, Phil Specter's older brother Arlen, seems ticked:
"There are those of us on this side of the aisle who have cooperated," Specter said. "I think it fair to say that to misuse the reconciliation process would be a very strong blow against bipartisanship and cooperation. Obviously, it would impede future activity by the Obama administration in reaching across the aisle to get necessary Republican votes."
As a friend of demo-muppet fellow aisle-squatters like Bridgeport Joe, this must come as a deep disappointment to Senator Specter. But of course it's how the repugs got their donors' tenderloin of a tax cut past a prostrate deadlocked Senate in '01.

I wonder -- can card check slip through this loophole too? I bet not -- eh?

Hell, even cap-and-trade is a bridge too far, so firing shots in the class war? Heavens!

April 28, 2009

Tortoise maintains lead, Achilles close second

Curious how the Democrats are always approaching the capacity to govern -- and the concomitant responsibility for what government does and doesn't do -- but never quite getting there. Zeno would feel vindicated.

Now that the loathesome Arlen Specter has joined the "progressive" party -- and I'm sure he'll feel right at home there -- the elusive filibuster-proof majority is still half as far away, even if the preposterous Al Franken succeeds in boarding the clown-car of the Senate Democratic caucus. Here's Specter, serving notice that he will be one of those convenient Liebermannish aisle-crossers who will save the Democrats from having to serve their poor much-traduced constituencies:

Specter switching parties, Dems will gain filibuster proof Senate

The Washington Post reports, “Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.”

“Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota,” Chris Cillizza writes for the paper’s online The Fix column.

“My change in party affiliation does not mean I will be a party line voter for the Democrats than I have been for the Republicans,” Specter noted in a press release. “Unlike Senator Jeffords switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatically 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on employee free choice card check will not change.”

An apparatus fearfully and wonderfully made. In 2010 we will be hearing how vitally, world-historically important it is to give the Democrats a super-hyper-filibuster-proof majority. Owen will probably remember where the phrase "a cupful of excuses" comes from. Trust the Democrats to serve you one, every time.

Whatever happened, I wonder, to people's pattern-recognition skills? Why and how can anybody still repose any hope in these shabby con artists?

November 28, 2009

Sauce for the geese

The Nation is fulminating against the filibuster:

Filibustering the Public

This is not what democracy looks like. When Americans vote, by overwhelming majorities, to place control of the executive and legislative branches in the hands of a party that has promised fundamental change, they are supposed to get that change. They are not supposed to watch as a handful of self-interested and special-interested senators prevent progress by exploiting the arcane rules of the less representative of our two legislative chambers--rules requiring that not a majority but a supermajority be attained in order even to discuss necessary reforms, and that a similar supermajority be in place to thwart a filibuster.

Yes, The Nation -- the same magazine that was calling on us all, just a few short years ago, to save the hoary and iniquitous institution:
Fight for the Filibuster

A vote to end debate on the nomination of extreme conservative Priscilla Owen to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24--the first strike in the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations. Now is the time to tell your senators that you oppose eliminating the filibuster.

I was quite tickled to see that back then, in 2005, Eric Boehlert, just recently mentioned here, was also a strong advocate for the Dixiecrats' favorite parliamentary maneuver:
The Top 10 filibuster falsehoods

With Senate debate on two of President Bush's most controversial judicial nominees beginning May 18, the heated rhetoric over the so-called "nuclear option" to ban Senate filibusters on judicial nominations has reached its boiling point. The rules of the Senate thus far remain intact, but filibuster opponents have pulled all rhetorical stops, advancing numerous falsehoods and distortions, and, as Media Matters for America documents below, the media have too often perpetuated that misinformation by unskeptically, and sometimes even deliberately, repeating it.

November 18, 2010

Filibuster bronco buster?

From the national Washpost on the future of the filibuster:

"...A proposal by Tom Udall would grant the Senate majority party the option of changing any procedural rule, including the filibuster, by a simple majority vote at the beginning of each Congress."
Sound sensible? Hold your applause:
"...A milder version advanced by Mark Udall... would restrict the use of the filibuster by the minority party, while limiting the majority's control over minority amendments."
Dueling Udalls? Oughta be fun watching the boys and girls bat around the ole wiffle ball on this one. Will it morph into a session of bipartisan Twister?

December 24, 2010

More like the movies

Here's a filibuster rule change update.

My brother, Royal Paine, is on one of those Democratic Party email lists. The traffic he's seeing suggests that there's no end in sight. The Donks are braying to beat the band (echoed by Alternet and Kos) about a change in the rules to... to... "make 'em talk". Here's the text:


Are you as angry about the broken Senate as we are? In the movies, in order to filibuster, Senators have to stand in the Senate and make their case to the American people. But in the modern Senate, a filibuster takes no such act of principle or courage. Senators can filibuster simply by placing a phone call to a clerk and heading off to dinner!

This January 5th, we have a chance to change the rules of the Senate, and make Senators engage in an all night talk-a-thon in order to block legislation or nominations. We can make the filibuster a real filibuster....

' To get across the finish line, we need members of the Daily Kos community to show their support. You can do so by signing the petition Daily Kos has created in support of making the filibuster real.

Oh yeah, oh yeah, that's what we want. A "real" filibuster. Like in the movies.

As we've noted here before, endlessly, the filibuster constitutes one of the most staggeringly obvious, slap-in-the-face insults to the principle of majority rule in the whole comical US system of government. And that's saying a lot, considering the presence of elements like the Supreme Court, and the Electoral College, and and and... the Senate itself.

I hardly need more than the persistence of this one "procedural element" to convince myself the Orthrian hypothesis is valid. After all, if the Donk rump majority in the Senate can change the rules, on this first-day meeting, to "make 'em talk", they could equally easily do away with the filibuster altogether. But they don't want to do that, and they won't.

About The infamous filibuster

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the The infamous filibuster category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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