Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Manchin’

Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema & John C. Calhoun Walk Into A Bar…

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 12, 2021

Joe orders a Black Russian, Kyrsten orders a White Russian, and John C. Calhoun orders a filibuster.

Nobody got any drinks.

West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat in his 2nd term has an illustrious history as a public servant which began with election to the state’s House of Delegates, then to the State Senate, and from there to statewide office as WV Secretary of State, and then as Governor.

In a June 6, 2021 Op-Ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he announced his opposition to H.R.1 – the “For the People Act of 2021” – ostensibly because of a wholesale lack of Republican support for it, including opposition to the idea of eliminating the filibuster.

Among other things, the bill would unify election law throughout the 50 United States by establishing uniform standards for federal elections, establish non-partisan independent state redistricting commissions in all 50 states, establish a Federal Judicial Code of Conduct, outlaw any action that would “corruptly hinder, interfere with, or prevent another person from registering to vote” or assisting another to register to vote, mandate “motor voter” registration when applying for a driver license, prohibit partisan voting registration “dirty tricks” to cull voters without their knowledge, require voter-verified permanent paper ballots, mandate early voting, as well as numerous other significantly beneficial improvements to national security and election law.

Relatedly, Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema, a Democrat two years into her first term, has announced her opposition to eliminating the filibuster – a procedural tool most often used by the minority to thwart legislation, by requiring at least 60 votes to proceed, thereby preventing it from even being discussed, in order to effectively kill the prospective measure.

The Senate’s 2 Independents – Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Angus King of Maine – caucus with the Democrats, and in the case of now-rare tie votes, the Vice President Kamala Harris would cast any tie-breaking vote… if it weren’t for the filibuster – which has now degenerated into a mere threat, with no real “action” required to “activate” it, per se. It has become the quintessential model, and most public example of, pathological passive-aggressive behavior – doing nothing (the passive behavior) to control, or manipulate others (the aggressive behavior).

Back To The Future

At one time, or another, Republicans and Democrats have separately expressed desire to eliminate the obstructionist tactic of the filibuster, which was not supported by the Founders, but rather, was a response to Vice President Aaron Burr’s criticism (shortly after his indictment for the murder of Alexander Hamilton) that the Senate’s rules were a mess, with numerous rules that duplicated each other, and in particular, singled out the “previous question” motion. So, when the Senate met the next year in 1806, they eliminated the “previous question” motion of parliamentary procedure, which functionally ceased debate using a simple majority vote… because Aaron Burr told them to.

Deleting that rule did not immediately cause filibusters to break out all over, but merely made it possible for them to happen — because there was no longer a Senate rule that could have enabled a simple majority to cut off debate. It was only several decades later in 1837 that the minority exploited the insufficient limits on rules of debate, and had the first filibuster.

There were three essential reasons why the filibuster was so rare, and infrequently used before the Civil War, because:

1.) The Senate operated by majority rule, and Senators expected that matters would be brought to a vote;
2.) The Senate had little work to do in that era, and there was plenty of time to wait out any opposition, and;
3.) Voting coalitions in the Senate were not as polarized as they later became.

Catch-22

As our nation grew, and added states, so did the Senate add more members. With growth, came increased work. And by 1880, every Congress had at least one episode of filibustered obstructionism, most of which were unconcerned with important matters of the day, and instead were focused upon trivial, inconsequential matters.

So, when filibusters did occur, Senate leaders tried to ban them. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries Senate leaders tried to reinstate the “previous question” motion – but they failed repeatedly – and ever since, have long sought a procedure to end debate on any given matter.

More often than not, senators gave up any hope for reform when they became aware that opponents to the elimination of the filibuster would kill any such effort at changing the rules to eliminate the filibuster — ironically, by filibustering — thereby putting the majority’s other priorities at risk. Because they were unable to reform the Senate’s rules, leaders developed other innovations such as unanimous consent agreements, which measures were an option of second resort for managing a chamber which by then, was prone to filibusters.

In response, the Senate changed… but not by much.

“Unanimous Consent” agreements emerged like mushrooms after a springtime rain shower. And then, cloture was created in 1917 during the waning days of World War I. Not “simple majority” cloture, but “supermajority” cloture. The Senate filibustered for 23 days following President Woodrow Wilson’s proposal to arm merchant marine ships during WWI. It also ground to a halt all other work in the Senate. The President criticized the Senate by saying it was

“the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”

In response to President Wilson’s withering criticism, a bipartisan Senate committee was formed to negotiate the form of the rule. Five of the six Democrats supported a simple majority rule; one Republican supported a supermajority rule; and one Republican preferred no rule. Negotiators then struck a compromise:

1.) Cloture would require two-thirds of senators voting;
2.) Opponents promised not to block or weaken the proposal, and;
3.) Supporters promised to drop their own proposal for simple majority cloture — a proposal which was supported by at least 40 senators.

Rule 22 – the cloture rule, to cease filibuster by a two-thirds majority vote – was adopted 76-3, on March 8, 1917.

Just Say No

Without Senators Manchin and Sinema’s support on vital bills forwarded from the narrow Democratic majority House, it’s practically assured that Republicans – who control 50 Senate seats – will once again, control movements of all legislation, despite the fact that when they were in control as the majority, they “circled their wagons” and got things done, even with Democratic opposition.

And, at a recent press event in his home state on May 5, 2021, Senate Minority Leader Kentucky Republican “Moscow” Mitch McConnell said,

“One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”

So, it very much looks like the Senate’s legislative “Grim Reaper” is back to his old manipulative tricks, despite being in the minority – just because he can.

Prophecy Fulfilled

As many political scientists, politicians, and analysts have observed, increasingly, the formerly Grand Old Party is losing grassroots support on a broad basis. But, it’s not as if such problems weren’t predictable. On February 1, 1993 Washington Post Reporter Michael Weisskopf wrote that:

“The gospel lobby evolved with the explosion of satellite and cable television, hitting its national political peak in the presidential election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

“Unlike other powerful interests, it does not lavish campaign funds on candidates for Congress nor does it entertain them. The strength of fundamentalist leaders lies in their flocks. Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.

“The thing that makes them powerful, is they’re mobilizable. You can activate them to vote, and that’s particularly important in congressional primaries where the turnout is usually low. Some studies put the number of evangelical Americans as high as 40 million, with the vast majority considered politically conservative,” said Seymour Martin Lipset (d.2006), professor of public policy at George Mason University.”

What Michael Weisskopf wrote caused such an outrage and an uproar, so much so to the extent that the Post was moved to write some type of retraction as a “correction.”

It’s always easier to ask forgiveness, than permission.

But, what Weisskopf wrote about the predominately Rural, Republican-voting, White Protestant Evangelicals – that “Their followers are largely poor, uneducated and easy to command” – was true then, and it’s even more true now.

Folks don’t get mad because of falsehoods, or scurrilous accusations.

They get mad because of truth.

While campaigning for the Republican party’s nomination, after winning Nevada’s Republican caucuses on February 23, 2016, the later-45th President exclaimed, “I love the poorly-educated!”

Of course he does — because they’re too stupid to know when they’re being played for a fool. And he played them like a fiddle – like Nero, while Rome burned.

The once-Grand Old Party has demonstrably become the Party of Poorly-Educated, Low-Skilled, Poorly-Paid and Often-Impoverished, Rural Working Class Whites who watch and believe Fox News like religion – especially men – who twice voted for Trump, still believe his Big Lie, earn well under $50K annually, and increasingly vote Republican – against their own best self-interest.

They support candidates whose exclusive guiding political philosophy is to refuse endorsing higher wages, healthcare, education, and other matters of direct concern to them and their families, and magically believe that a privatized, laissez-faire free market everything will solve all problems. They are becoming, or have become, a minority voting bloc whose interests are not represented by the political party for which they increasingly vote.

They are, in essence, deluded.

We’re Going Down

In the few days before the January 6 insurrectionist attack upon Congress at the Capitol, led by far right-wing extremist Kentucky Republican Representative Read the rest of this entry »

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