Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Shame of America

A majority of the United States Senate just voted to require reducing, on a reasonable schedule, the number of U.S. forces in Iraq – an obvious reflection of popular will, the thinking of almost every general not currently in uniform and the best interest of preserving national security.

However, due to Republicans’ fealty to the stinking albatross in the White House around their necks, the legislation will not take effect.

How could a majority be thwarted like that? Look to Senate Rule 22, which permits “unlimited debate.” This is a euphemism for the filibuster, a tactic by which a minority can talk a measure to death. The filibuster is the tactic perfected by Southern racists, including the Senate President pro tempore Robert Byrd, to keep Jim Crow alive during the early and middle parts of the last century. They would be forced by the majority to hold the floor and keep talking, leading to 24-hour sessions and use of the “motorman’s helper,” a device by which a male senator (there were no female racists at the time; hell there was only one female at all for most of the 50s and 60s) could pee while orating. As they say, there are two things you don’t want to watch being made – sausage and legislation.

To get around a filibuster requires a vote of three-fifths of the 100-member Senate, or 60 instead of 51. In recent years, a “gentleman’s agreement” was in force by which mere threat of a filibuster would keep a bill or amendment from even being debated. But the slim Senate majority of Democrats is now playing hardball.

Knowing that they could get 50, but not 60, votes, they required the Senate to stay in all night talking and talking and talking – forcing Republicans up for re-election next year to go on record in support of the insanity of the Bushwar and thus face well-deserved defeat in 2008.

The only way Republicans have held the presidency and continued their war crimes is through the least democratic features of our government – the Electoral College and the Senate filibuster rule. There are 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, one socialist who votes with the Democrats plus the toad Joe Lieberman whom the Democrats use to maintain procedural control but who votes Republican on every major issue. Further hampering the Democratis is one of their number who has been absent all year due to a brain disease, leaving him still more capable than all but a handful of Republican members.

To listen to the debate on C-SPAN was to understand that many Republicans don’t even believe what they were saying – their logic and facts in laughably stark contrast to reality. For reasons unclear but to themselves they have chosen to align with the frat boy war deserter who one day will take his place in history books alongside Benedict Arnold.

The Democrats’ maneuver in demanding an all-night session is a tactic Republicans perfected during their time in the majority; call for votes on measures that are patently doomed or likely to be held unconstitutional just so Democrats would have to cast votes that could be hard to explain – like allowing late-term abortions in rare instances, opposing flag-burning amendments, supporting gay marriage and the like.

Republicans screamed that the all-night session was merely “political theater,” and so it was. But that’s okay. It put the shame of America on display for all to see and, it is hoped, to take steps to correct.

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