Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Compromising Postions

While perusing the news of the day I came across this article about how Harry Reid was going to force the issue of getting the President's nominations approved by doing away with Senate Rule 22 where a 2/3 majority was needed to overcome a filibuster. The rule has stood since 1960 or so (a good discussion of the Cloture rule and filibusters can be found here). Since I reviewed that article and stuck it in my notes to think about, the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have come to a 'compromise' and the rule change is not going to happen. Rather that write an entire essay on the merits of the filibuster, I am thinking more now about the nature of that compromise and how and why it came about.

To understand the 'what' of the compromise a little divergence into the history of situation is necessary. Back in January 2012 Obama was getting frustrated that he couldn't get his nominees into office to do his bidding. The Republicans had filibustered his appointments, mainly because he failed to do his due diligence in ensuring the people he nominated had met the Senate Republican's minimal standards for bipartisanship. To ensure that he did not attempt to make recess appointment, the Senate Republicans forced the Senate to never be out of session. Faced with this, Obama ignored the Senate and declared that he was making 'recess' appointments anyway, and appointed two members to the National Labor Relations Board. The Republicans went the Federal Circuit Court and sued Obama. They won the case as the court noted that the appointees were illegally in office. Obama appealed at the next level up (the Supreme Court) and they have yet to listen to arguments on the case. In the meantime, the appointees did not step down, but continued to serve and make rulings. This is how things sat until yesterday, when Reid announced he would use the 'nuclear option' to change the Senate Rules to remove the 2/3 vote requirement to overcome a filibuster in order to get Obama's appointees in a up or down vote.

As noted above the rule change didn't happen. What happened instead was a compromise where Obama (and the democrats) withdrew the nomination of the two illegally serving NLRB members, and in exchange the Republicans withdrew their filibuster threat and allow other unrelated nominees to proceed to an up or down vote. On the surface this is a fair trade. Underneath, it is no compromise at all but an complete hoodwink of the Republicans by Obama and the Democrats. Any three card Monte con operator can show you how it's done.

Reid and the White House did not install their real candidates for the NRLB. The ones they wanted were actually the ones that they negotiated with the unions to fill those positions. That in itself is an outrage, but I digress. The Republicans took the bait when Obama made the illegal appointments and sued for redress. This set up Harry Reid's move the threaten a rule change to one of the Senate's most honored traditions - the filibuster. The Republicans blinked, and Reid got a boatload of Obama's appointees slipped into place. We have only to look at the outrageous effects of the departing Napolitano's leadership at Homeland Security to image what havoc these new appointees can wreck on our democracy.

It is shameful that Mitchell, and yes, even the RINO McCain allowed this to happen without even a whimper. There is one bright spot. I noticed this morning that Rand Paul is already announcing that he will use the filibuster to prevent the wackos like the failed broadcaster Rachel Maddow from getting on the Supreme Court. Let's hope the Senate minority leadership does not find a way to silence him. What I fear is that Reid's above actions are just the opening act in a play that will ultimately end in killing the rule and tipping our republic on it's head. The Republican leadership has proven that they are weak in opposing him, so it is only a matter of time. America likes that their representative in the Senate has the power to stop bad legislation in it's tracks with a filibuster. When they remove that privilege, the Democrats will be exposed as the tyrants they truly are.

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