Monday, February 15, 2010

Are Obama And The Democrats Really Working For The Republicans?

Boy I'm grumpy.
I've just returned from the garden out back, wishing to rake up all of the leaves and sticks that have accumulated over the week, only to discover that someone had taken the big roll of large plastic bags that I had stashed in the back utility closest where we keep the hose and a few other garden supplies. Without those bags I've got no way to transport said leaves and sticks, and of course all of the staff around here have taken the freaking day off celebrating some freaking federal holiday. Geeze, come apply to work here, dear readers, you get more time off than a morning deejay.
What holiday is it anyway? Oh yes, National Flag of Canada Day. Isn't it enough that they've got the Olympics, we need to celebrate their flag as well?!
Anyway, I made do out back with transplanting the dwarf orange tree to a spot where it will get more sun, and watered. I'll deal with the leaves and sticks tomorrow maybe.
Freaking leaves and sticks.
Now as far as the question posed in the title of this post... I doubt it. But at times it sure seems like it.
I've refrained from criticizing President Obama very much throughout his first year, because I have no idea what it was like to be in his shoes, and the things he had to contend with all of the baggage left over from President Bush. But now that that year is over there are some tendencies apparent with this administration and Congress that merit close examination.
Obama campaigned with the promise of change. "Change we can believe in," he would tell us, over and over again. Change, change, change. Well where the hell is it?
Yes, I've related a list of the many accomplishments Obama and Congress have been able to get passed. There is also a big list of items that haven't gotten done, or are a continuation of the Bush failed policies, or things that have happened which would happen if Obama and the Democrats did work for the Republicans (who of course work for multi-nationals, as does the Supreme Court), some of which include:
Just today, Evan Bayh, the "centrist" Senator from Indiana, announced he will not be running again this year, making a fairly sure retention of a democratic seat fairly uncertain now. In total, five democratic Senators will be leaving the Senate this year to the Republican's six, with Bayh's not participating making it that much easier for the Republican's to regain control of the Senate (if they even want it. They seem to getting everything they want as the minority right now).
And what about that election last month in Massachusetts? The democratic candidate, Martha Coakley couldn't have given that Senate election and seat to the Republicans any easier than if she had gone on vacation for most of the campaign. Oh wait a second... she did go on vacation.
Right now the House of Representatives looks fairly sane, but that is only because the Senate looks so much more the opposite, a fully dysfunctional madhouse that can't get anything done, let alone the people's business. And what's stopping them from doing the people's business, like promoting financial reform in the banking and insurance industries, Cap and Trade legislation that will provide a cleaner environment for our children and grandchildren weaning the country away from a diminishing and expensive supply of fossils fuels, election reform, and lets not forget that little effort for health insurance reform that is currently languishing somewhere in the limboland between the House and Senate. The threat of what Rachel Maddow calls the most boring word in the English language: FILIBUSTER.
Not an actual filibuster, oh no... just the freaking threat of one will have Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader shaking in his skinny Nevada boots, stopping virtually anything from getting done.
For those of you who don't what what a filibuster is it simply the process of endlessly debating an issue in order for it not to come to a full vote. It takes a clear 60 vote super majority to vote for cloture to end debate, that is why we saw so many so-called "back room deals" going on when attempting to formulate a health care bill, and wound up without a single payer or public option, because 60 Senate votes needed to be courted in order to pass anything because the Republicans threaten to filibuster the bill. There being democratic Senators in swing states, or decidedly conservative areas leaning more to the right, or guys like Joe Liberman who just like to screw everybody's day up, who also threatened to not vote for cloture, virtually stifling the legislative process assuring nothing but a crappy bill might just possibly pass, and that is even now in doubt.
But the Republicans aren't actually filibustering anything. They're just threatening to do it (in record numbers. The 110th Congress was saturated with 112 votes for cloture brought about by the Republicans, who then turn around and blame the Democrats for not getting anything done). I'd love to see Reid grow a pair and really let the American people see the Republican obstructionism in play by letting them hold an actual filibuster. But no, that might be impolite. If the Republicans were forced to stand up and continue discussing an issue (the record being 75 hours) the rest of the country might get an idea why they can't get anything done. But Reid refuses to do this.
He also refuses to end the practice of the filibuster altogether. There is nothing in the Constitution that mentions the filibuster, it is simply a Senate rule that can be changed to end the use of the filibuster, thus not requiring a 60 vote super majority, but only a 51 simple majority, thus taking away all that power Liberman, and Nelson, and Olympia Snow had of late with health care reform. No they can go kick rocks! This can be done either with a process called "reconciliation" (Bush got his tax cuts to his wealthy buddies through this process, but now the same Republican Senators who voted for that say Obama would be "Steamrolling" legislation if it were used against them), or the Constitutional Option, in which Joe Biden, acting as the president of the Senate, invoked a "point of order," declaring the filibuster unconstitutional and ending its use, which again would only need a simple majority of 51 votes.
Use of either of these methods would simplify and unclog the Senate legislative process allowing actual work to get done in the most efficient manner possible. We'd really have a chance at universal heath care, clean air, and more restrictions on the banks and brokerage houses that brought the world to it's knees.
But Reid won't do it. I don't know why.
He keeps saying that it takes 67 votes to change the rules of the Senate.
So who's he really working for?
He's facing a tough election back home in Nevada this year. Maybe it's time for his constituents to send him home so he can get some rest.

To be continued

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