Monday, March 02, 2009

Make 'Em Pee, Harry

While Republicans are debating whether Rush Limbaugh is the their leader, highwayscribery wants to reduce the significance of whatever conclusion they come to.

In "This Winning of Our Discontent," (Feb. 23) highwayscribery said this about what has become an automatic filibuster in the U.S. Senate:

[Democratic] Victories in the Senate are deemed "razor-thin" when 61-37 is something of a trouncing. Or should the scribe remind you of how votes went, say, three years ago under guys with names like Delay, Frist, and Bush?

It's razor-thin because the Republican filibuster is an unchallenged daily blessing to a struggling minority, when it should be subject to national derision.

The way the Senate operates now, all you have to do is inform the leadership of your plan to filibuster and the altered, more difficult, voting math kicks-in.

highwayscribery's suggestion is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) drop the courtesy and force Republicans to sustain their filibusters for real.

Reid should obligate them to wear catheters so they can pee while reading from newspapers, and do midnight relays to fresh senators, making a spectacle of themselves while delaying the nation's business.

(Just a thought).

The catheter reference applies to the former and late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) who strapped one on in a game effort to prevent the enactment of the Civil Rights Act with a very long filibuster.

But that was back when filibusterers were filibusterers.

By way of primer, a "filibuster" is the extreme application of the Senate's unlimited debate rule. To kill one - to make a Senator shut up - the majority needs to muster a two-thirds vote or 60.

It is certainly no measure of highwayscribery's influence that others are beginning to wonder why we need a supermajority to enact the agenda of a president who was elected by a simple plurality.

David E. RePass in a "New York Time"s Op-ed entitled, "In Make My Filibuster" noted that what we have today are "phantom filibusters," which he notes, is clearly unconstitutional because the founders were rather specific about when supermajorities were required.

Like highwayscribery a week or so ago, RePass noted that all Senate Majority Leader Harry Read needs to do, "is call the minority's bluff by bringing a challenged measure to the floor and letting the debate begin."

We'd continue quoting from the piece, but it reads like the stuff from the Feb. 23 post and there's no need for mindless repetition...unless you're a Republican senator trying to keep country club friends from leaping into higher tax bracket.

Jean Edward Smith, also in the "New York Times," does a great historical look at the parliamentary tactic, noting how rare it was used until Republicans made it an every day thing in an effort to stymie the initiatives of that rare animal in American politics - Democratic administration - during Bill Clinton's reign.

He goes on to say:

The routine use of the filibuster as a matter of everyday politics has transformed the Senate’s legislative process from majority rule into minority tyranny. Leaving party affiliation aside, it is now possible for the senators representing the 34 million people who live in the 21 least populous states — a little more than 11 percent of the nation’s population — to nullify the wishes of the representatives of the remaining 88 percent of Americans.

Of course, the filibuster is supposed to protect these very folks from the majority's tyranny. highwayscribery does not want to get rid of the filibuster. It wants a robust filibuster characterized BY ACTUAL DEBATE.

So, we're proposing folks ride this thing for all that it's worth. There's an agenda to be put forward and a country to be fixed. The situation is too dire to let a bunch of very sore losers arrest all progress and be rewarded with an election-year claim that "The Democrats didn't get anything done."

Even a lack of success will serve to shed light on something the media has, up until today, let go on without remark. Hardy, boisterous protest will make it harder to filibuster day in and day out.

Harry Reid's number is (202) 224--3542. Call him and say:

'Make 'em pee, Harry."

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