Thursday, February 11, 2010

Filibuster Oh The Tragedy

Who loathes the filibuster? Senate Democrats, of course!

It seems yet another of the President's nominees was blocked the other day, a fellow who would have sat on the National Labor Relations Board, which would be one of the many heapin' helpings of FDR's alphabet soup that besets this country. SEIU (remember them?) President Andy Stern is outraged, since the guy was more or less in his pocket; Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (Socialist/Democrat-People's Revolutionary Sodality* of Vermont)(just kiddin', I know you Vermonters allll love 'im -- and he is, therefore, just what you deserve) went so far as to confer with respected greybeard Walter Mondale (he's still alive?), and tells us, "He said it was just inconceivable to anybody at that time" that it would be abused as it is now, Leahy said. "The reason the filibuster rule has been supported all these years is people have used it responsibly...this is unprecedented."

Now this would be the exact same Walter Mondale (D-Outer Space) who led the charge to make ending filibusters easier, "reforming" Rule XXII way, way back in 1975 (before there was VOIP or even gravel) to reduce the number of Senate votes needed to choke off debate from two-thirds to three-fifths. Back then, The Mondale loftily informed us proles, "...the Senate will be able to deal with the pressing problems of America in 1975. This reform will make the Senate more efficient, more democratic and more effective."

At least I think that was a small "d" in "democratic." It's hard to be certain, as his is the Party that, cheered on by the odious Woodrow Wilson in 1917, first moved to put an end to unlimited debate in the U. S. Senate in 1917 with the original mod to allow cloture on a two-thirds majority. (Flip side, they're also the Party that used filibuster to slow down or stop passage of Civil Rights legislation).

But hey, not to worry; a "more efficient" and "effective" Senate that can stifle debate in its cradle will be able to make the trains run on time -- and you, too. All aboard?
* The moronization of America, Part Whatever: neither Blogger nor Firefox's spellcheckers recognize "sodality" as being in a word, not even in the most common and limited sense of a Catholic fellowship. Sigh.


Old Grouch said...

Bah, the Senate wused-out on the filibuster when they decided to make the threat equal to the deed. Nowadays all someone has to do is say, "I'll filibuster that," and everybody else says, "Okay, we'll set it aside." Threats doesn't cost anything, so there's no need to husband them.

We need a return to Mr-Smith-Goes-to-Washington style continuous-debate, 24-hour sessions, cots-in-the-corridor filibusters. If the solons know that the response to "I'll filibuster that" is going to be "Okay, start talking," maybe we won't have so many.

And besides, think of the coverage: "C-Span Official Filibuster Clock: 3 days 4 hours 10 minutes"!

Drang said...

"People have used it responsibly" is obviously code for "Democratic Party politicians are The Only Ones responsible enough to use it."

OG: But some of them would have to actually exert themselves to do something that did not involve voting themselves more largess.

Geodkyt said...

I'm with Old Grouch.

Hell, I wouldn;t haveminded teh filibuster of Bush's appointments if the Dems actually had to, you know, filibuster.

The multi-track legislative process, with "notional" filibusters not even slowing down business, makes it painless to filibuster.

sam said...

What they said.

To put it another way, put your mouth where the money is.

George said...

I must confess to some confusion over the Dems' palpitations over losing the 'super' majority. The way I figure it ... now both parties but especially the majority party are required to do some politicking.

The way I see it ... the Dems would have to get matching absentee agreements between Senators ... bargain and negotiate to get vote support from the Republican side ... offer legislative proposals that can be sold to the other side, largely as is ... and so on.

This used to be the way politics operated. Yes ... there surely will be arm twisting but astute politicians always remember who did what to whom ... and memory provides for paybacks.

But ... as Old Grouch said ... a real filibuster is a fearsome thing ... for both sides. An empty threat, I'm afraid, just shows the state of American politics.

Not a grand, inspiring sight, is it?

(Not that politics up here in the Great White North is any better. At least, our government sent them all home for a couple of months. If the MPs aren't there, they can't make trouble for us.)


Ian Argent said...

The notional filibuster is a mechanism in place to make it easier for the *majority*, not the filibusters. The majority has to maintain a majority of quorum present while their opposition speaks; lest that opposition have enough votes to push through a motion to adjourn. Contrariwise, the filibusters can yield to each other and only have to keep a small group on the floor and can tag out as necessary.

The term filibuster is kind of interesting; it derives from the dutch word for freebooter, AKA pirate or mercenary

Jeffro said...

before there was VOIP or even gravel

Yep, the heady days when dirt was new and Moby Dick was a minnow.