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DION- "Abraham, Martin & John"
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I've seen strong opinions out there, and I tend to agree, that the Republicans won't limit it to non-SCOTUS judicial confirmations either, as Harry did yesterday. They'll nuke the filibuster for everything. And I believe that's what's next for Harry Reid too, at the behest of Barack Obama. I think the way this will be spun is that now that Harry nuked the filibuster, Republicans will take advantage of that the first chance they get and they will nuke it for every single thing that gets voted on in the Senate. And since we know they will do that, then we should go ahead and do it ourselves, preemptively. I think that's how it will go and it will make perfect sense and it will be justifiable. Why? Because the filibuster hasn't just been used to block Obama's appointments to various positions, judicial and otherwise. It's been used to destroy good legislation, time and time again.
Now here is where it gets hard to explain what I'm sensing and speculating. I think it's a given that Democrats, the left-wing of the Corporate party have used the filibuster habits of the right-wing of the Corporate party as a tool perhaps even more than the Republicans have. I don't think that many people here disagree that the whole "we don't have the 60 votes" has been used as an excuse ad nauseum, for not passing good legislation, things that serve the interests of the people, and it's been used as an excuse by this president since day one. I don't think anyone has forgotten how Joe Lieberman stepped up and used the filibuster to poison good bills when we had given the Democrats such good majorities that they really had to jump through hoops to explain why they couldn't pass things that the people wanted and that were possible. And we're not just talking about small things. We're talking about critical issues, critical bills during critical times. Time and time again, the Democrats sadly, oh so sadly, regretfully, could not pass the bills that they wanted and poor Obama just couldn't do for the people what, deep in his heart, he really wanted to do, because of that damned filibuster. Alas!
So during those critical times, for those critical bills, why didn't Harry Reid exercise the nuclear option on the filibuster? Why didn't he do it for the health care bill, for Dodd-Frank, for the various crises? These are extraordinary times, are they not? Extreme measures are justified in every other way because of 9/11, because the country is at war, because Wall Street crashed the global economy, because of severe recession, because of unemployment, because because of climate change, because of extremism and polarization, etc. The country is literally in a state of emergency. Does anyone in this world doubt that we've been in a continuous crisis ever since this president took office, and even before that? Our very democracy is at risk for reasons we are all familiar with. Our government has gutted the Constitution in certain ways because of the extraordinary circumstances. So there has never been any lack of justification for removing the filibuster, a manufactured rule that subverts majority rule in the Senate.
But this president and his tool, the Senate, and the good cop left-wing of the Corporate party have used it to their advantage. Republicans have blocked judges for five years and other than periodic whining, nobody did anything about it. But suddenly, at a time when Obama has gotten his compromised signature achievement legislation finished, they've decided they just can't take it anymore and in order to get the judges approved they took a drastic measure and nuked the filibuster, after threatening to do it before but backing off and doing gentleman's agreements instead, which everyone knew would be broken and were broken in short order.
So why did Harry Reid and Barack Obama feel that they had to nuke the filibuster now? After all this time? I don't think this was about judges. I'm betting that the Dems take the nuclear option further and nuke it for legislation too and what worries me is that there are a few things on Obama's agenda, some of them things he has been obsessive about, and there are other things that the powers that be want to be able to stop from happening, such as repealing parts of the PATRIOT Act and reining in the NSA programs and committing to keep troops in Afghanistan for another decade at least and paying many billions to prop up their govt and their military and law enforcement. There are other potential things on the horizon in the foreign policy arena too, such as discussions of putting troops into Libya to try to stabilize a country that we deliberately destabilized. Who knows if designs on Syria and Assad are still in the works, at a time when the Congress and the country have absolutely no appetite for more war? Or maybe one of the things in their agenda is a positive thing, peace agreement with Iran and opposition from a very Israel friendly Congress is anticipated.
And there is this dangerous coalition that has cropped up on the left and the right, a group of lawmakers who defy the Corporate party leadership, dangerous in eyes of the 1% powers that be and the military/intelligence complex, and they must be stopped. There is "entitlement reform" and an austerity agenda, flattening the tax code and cutting corporate rates, a grand bargain, perhaps offshore drilling, all of which might be filibusted by progressive leaning Senators or a mix of Senators on both sides of the aisle. I don't know how much difference one senator makes but they've now got Cory Booker who will toe the 1% line who replaced Lautenberg, a guy with many years and a lot of progressive influence, a guy who was nobody's fool. Lautenberg caused Menendez to be cautious about his neoliberal and hawkish stances and there has been a noticeable difference in him since Lautenberg has been gone. And then there is the TPP and the Euro trade agreements. The TPP was negotiated in secret, kept secret even from the Congress. Obama wants to subvert the Constitution (again, this isn't the first time he's gone for this method) and do an end run around the normal Congressional process, by fast tracking TPP, allowing no amendments and putting it right to the floor for a vote with no input from committees or others.
He wants to take a bill crafted by the hundreds of corporate operatives who did have access to the TPP negotiations and documents when Congress did not, and force it onto the floor of Congress for a vote. This is a trade agreement that will fundamentally change the way the world works and will undermine the power of the the Congress, the states, the people, the regulatory agencies, all in favor of the multinational corporations and the global bankers. Members of the Senate on the left and the right who tend to defy the Corporate party leadership are very likely to object to that and the filibuster could come from the left or the right, actually. It's tragic that every member of Congress, House and Senate, don't try to kill the thing, but that's the corrupt state of affairs today.
So my fear is that the real reason that Harry Reid and Barack Obama nuked the filibuster is because there are things on the agenda that are so unpopular and IMHO so wrong, that the only way they can bulldoze them through Congress is by getting rid of the filibuster threat and by passing them with a majority, perhaps with Joe Biden's help as a tie breaker vote, and with Nancy Pelosi's superb arm twisting skills and with the significant number of D votes in the House added to the votes that Boehner, also a Corporate party leader, can get, and to make sure that members of Congress with a conscience can't stop them.
I hope I'm wrong and in fact, I don't think there's been a time when I have more strongly hoped my suspicions were wrong. But the timing of this filibuster thing smells, a lot. The best outcome is that it is what it looks like, on its face, and the Ds have just gotten sick and tired of the obstruction, especially after the govt shutdown, and Obama and the Dems have come around and realized that they need to put some more moderate influences into the conservative packed courts, and/or Obama has become concerned about his legacy and his plummeting approval ratings, and they see the leftward shift and more populist shift in the public sentiment and want to respond to it before their polling becomes more abysmal. So maybe it's that. But going by the history and the great lengths to which they go to playact and do the kabuki theater, I'm not betting on that, even though I am still hoping for it.
This Wiegel article is a two-page article and it's worth reading it to see how he lays it out.
How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombGlen Ford in a series of interviews on the Real News about JFK's presidency. Glen kind of shatters the myths about the Kennedy brothers and the civil rights movement. Paul Jay pushes back about Bobby Kennedy and claims that he changed drastically over the years, which Ford doesn't really disagree with. Ford, in his signature way, takes no prisoners and tells it like it is.
The gutting of the Senate filibuster is a huge victory for progressives.
We do know how the Senate came to change its rules today, a vote that represented the biggest victory for the left since the election of President Barack Obama. That process started in the first weeks of 2009, after a Democratic landslide mighty enough to sweep even Al Franken into the upper house. The Republicans, who’d held 55 seats during the 2005 “nuclear option” fight, were down to 41. A new class of Democrats, including Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, buckled in for action.
They got a slog. An economic stimulus package, once expected to get up to 80 votes, got over the 60-vote cloture line only with huge concessions to three Republicans. A simple omnibus parks funding bill took weeks to pass. Then, in May, just enough Republicans held together to filibuster the president’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Interior. To Majority Leader Harry Reid’s surprise, the Democratic left honed in quickly on the filibuster, demanding that he change it.
Republicans didn’t try to convince Democrats otherwise. Their closing, baffled arguments against the filibuster reform (as recently as last week, Republican aides were confident the vote wouldn’t happen) were a series of threats, varying in their politeness. “When we have the majority, when we have a Republican president, we will put more people like Scalia on the court,” said Grassley when asked to envision a post-nuclear world. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that if the majority breaks the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate with regard to nominations, the next majority will do it for everything,” said McConnell.
Progressives know that. They expect that. They didn’t demand the change because they’re ignorant about the 2014 polls. If they lose that election, they’ll have given themselves a year to confirm judges and executive nominees. If they lose the presidency in 2016, they’ll have empowered a Republican to put judicial robes on whichever Federalist Society member he wants. But they expected Republicans to break the filibuster anyway. “I know that if there is a Republican president and a Republican majority,” Sen. Merkley said this month, “they will force up-and-down votes, because they demonstrated their commitment to that principle in 2005.”
Ford: "The Kennedy Brothers Thought the Civil Rights Movement Was a Nuisance at Best" Pt. 1Peter Kuznick, who worked with Oliver Stone on the Untold History of the United States series (which, from what I've seen of it, is a must watch, and which is now on DVD. I've not read the book but I suspect that is also well worth reading. It begins earlier in time, late 1800's, than the TV series does, post WW1). Paul Jay is not an adoring interviewer like some other, say Charlie Rose. He often challenges his guest, to varying degrees, and he does that a lot with Kuznick in this interview, using quotes from others, in this case Chomsky and Bacevich, both of whom are convincing (Bacevich more so than Chomsky in this case, IMHO. I find something very "off" about Chomsky's sentiments toward Kennedy).
On this episode of Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Glen Ford discusses the JFK presidency and its relative indifference towards the black freedom struggle
Kuznick says that he dug deeper than others have, and claims that Kennedy's world view changed pretty drastically during his presidency, which is apparent when you examine his private conversations rather than the public ones. Kuznick cites the Cuban missile crisis as a turning point and cites sentiments and statements Kennedy made, which indicate that he was constantly at loggerheads with his generals and the intelligence community. He also talks a lot about his relationship and work with Khrushchev. Kuznick acknowledges the hawkishness but says that others don't give enough weight to the rather drastic change in him after a couple of years in the White House. Barack Obama is a prime example of why you shouldn't judge a president by his speeches, but I think that Kennedy's speech at American University might the exception to that rule because the speech is so exceptional, because there are numerous actions that support the views expressed in that speech, and because the animosity toward both Kennedy brothers by the military & intelligence community is well known and might very well have been the underlying reason for their assassinations due to the threat they posed to the burgeoning military & intelligence industrial complex.
Vietnam and the Legacy of the JFK Presidency - Peter Kuznick on Reality Asserts Itself Pt.1
On this episode of Reality Asserts Itself, Paul Jay and historian Peter Kuznick discuss whether or not JFK intended to withdraw from Vietnam before his assassination
Stop Watching Us.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Senate utter madness under majority rule now. Members have shot out lights and roam aisles in feral packs with bow and arrow slung on backs.— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) November 21, 2013
What the Senate did today is a very dangerous slippery slope to majority rule and honoring the intent of the Founders.— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) November 21, 2013
Q for IL people: Is the local press covering that Mark Kirk believes his primary duty is to serve his constituents in Israel?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) November 21, 2013
Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron responds to Bob Woodward on Snowden. So do I. http://t.co/...— Bart██ Gellm█n (@bartongellman) November 21, 2013
Sweden's telcos hand over mass spying powers to police, tax authority, customs and other agencies http://t.co/...— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) November 21, 2013
Cole makes arg- in dig age privacy will be dead if we don't protect innoc citizens agnst dragnet spying foreign&dom http://t.co/...— JoanneLeon (@joanneleon) November 21, 2013
1/2 Must read by @JimWhiteGNV "seems entirely possible that striking in Khan’s province was a deliberate act by Brennan in retaliation..."— JoanneLeon (@joanneleon) November 21, 2013
"for Khan’s rhetoric aft..Mehsud killing..But by striking..esp..missing..populated area..set..up for huge blowback" http://t.co/...— JoanneLeon (@joanneleon) November 21, 2013
All killed in Hangu #drone strike were students, media reports. This is first strike in PK settled area...— Mirza Shahzad Akbar (@ShazadAkbar) November 21, 2013
Where Is the Moral Rectitude When Political Retaliation Drone Strike Hits Settled Area, Misses Target? http://t.co/...— Jim White (@JimWhiteGNV) November 21, 2013
So with Reid's new rule, we would have had Dawn Johnsen running OLC, wouldn't we? Or how would Obama have torpedoed her another way?— Jim White (@JimWhiteGNV) November 21, 2013
The vote happening now is the big one. In classic senate fashion, a no means yes. If a majority votes no, filibuster is gone for nominees— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 21, 2013
Here's a list of all of the pending judiciary/executive nominations before the Senate http://t.co/...— David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) November 21, 2013
If we're going to get rid of the filibuster entirely, can we ALSO get CA 3 more Senators and DC one? Cause otherwise, the rural states win.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) November 21, 2013
Exclusive: Inside America's Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere | The Cable http://t.co/...— JoanneLeon (@joanneleon) November 21, 2013
More WP poll on #Iran: 64% of respondents approved of Obama's theoretical deal, including sizable majorities of Rs, Dems and independents.— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) November 20, 2013
So many priceless bits in Woodward's Snowden jones. Like implicitly dissing Post colleague @bartongellman, to whom Snowden did go.— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) November 21, 2013
Plus, Woodward thinks a better outcome would be if none of us gets to know who Snowden is or hear him explain in his own voice but Bob does.— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) November 21, 2013
An important story about how White House uses propaganda to manage Obama's image. http://t.co/...— Matt Apuzzo (@mattapuzzo) November 21, 2013
1972: Kabul, Afghanistan pre Taliban. pic.twitter.com/r3CatsNyOp— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) November 16, 2013
JFK Tribute Simon and Garfunkel Sound Of Silence