Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cloture votes

Yeah, right, like you thought they would get even a simple "no-confidence" vote to the floor? It's not as if Gonzales has done anything worth impeaching, right? I mean, dismissing employees of the Justice Department for political reasons isn't a violation of their civil service rights, is it? Or colluding with the rest of Smirky's cabal and wiretapping the whole country illegally? How about the simple fact that he has repeatedly lied to Congress while testifying before committees?
There really is no excuse for anyone supporting this moral waste of oxygen, but hey, there are at least 38 Senators who voted yesterday who did just that.
You see, in the Senate, a vote to end debate is necessary before any action itself gets to be voted on, and cloture requires 60 Senators' approval. This is what's known as the "cloture" vote, and is the official term for the filibuster process. Voting for cloture means that the Senator wants to bring the matter at hand to the floor for the final pass/no pass vote. This past week we saw two instances where this came up; the first was the immigration bill, which also failed its cloture vote; and the second on Gonzales's wrist slap. The vast majority of those not voting for cloture were Republicans (naturally, since they have no interest in doing the people's business, but instead only seek to gum up the works at every opportunity), and since they have far more than the 41 Senators required to deny cloture (100-60+1), we can expect to see a lot of these kinds of votes over the next year and 1/2.
Why didn't the Democrats do this when they were in the minority, even though there were more than 41 Democrats in the Senate, even at their lowest ebb? Good question. Part of the answer lies in the fact that some Dems (I'm looking at you, Joe Lieberman) seem to want to appear as if they really aren't "partisan" when in fact, their lack of party loyalty simply enables the Republican agenda to continue to advance. That's not being non-partisan, Joe, that's being Republican. Jackass. Other Dems seem not to understand that our government is teetering on the brink of dissolution, in effect, as the Executive Branch under Bush runs wild over the Constitution. Those seeking to "keep their powder dry" for something really important can't ever quite pull the trigger on anything, which again simply enables the Republicans to rule, even while they are in the minority. Filibuster the nominations of Alito? Roberts? Bolton? Rice? Gonzales himself? Filibuster the Bankruptcy Bill? The extension of the Patriot Act? Vote to cut off funding for the Occupation of Iraq? Nah, we'll wait and use our "power" when it matters.
The problem with that attitude, of course, is that all of these nominations and bills (and hundreds of others unmentioned) have mattered. Greatly. And by not exercising the power of the filibuster and/or party discipline--as Republicans have been doing for the last 13 years quite extensively and successfully--the Democrats have failed in their duty to represent their constituents, let alone the country's best interests and future.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Book review: The Assault on Reason

All of you, I'm sure, are aware of my wholehearted support for a Gore candidacy, so it should be no surprise that I found The Assault on Reason a truly terrific book. I haven't read any of Gore's previous books, however, so I was somewhat hesitant to pick this one up, in case all of my fears would come true and he would come across stiff, pedantic, or far worse, boring.
Fret not, dear readers, Al is definitely not pulling too many punches here. The Bush Administration comes under severe fire for its incredible resistance to good sense, in addition to its relentless disdain for honor, truth, or even its proper role in a democracy. Gore tells a tale fraught with danger--we are in serious peril of losing our nation's reason for existence. The reason for this is that our country's capacity and ability for rational thought are being overwhelmed by the wave of inane blather emanating from our airwaves. Anyone relying on the networks for their news (especially Fox, of course) are treated to never ending crises of meaningless events--witness their wall-to-wall coverage of Paris Hilton's recent lawless escapades--or, worse still, false information provided by a sinister government.
Gore provides many examples of this assault, including his personal experience in regards to his attempts to educate the public and the government about global warming, but he also relies on scholarly research to buttress his assertions. This is not a polemic, but rather a well-reasoned (not so ironically) and -supported treatise on the state of our union.
The one weakness I see in the book lies in Gore's reluctance to call Congress to task for its role in enabling Bush's Administration. It's not all Smirky's doing, Al, and laying the entirety of the blame on him simply allows the Republicans to distance themselves verbally and politically from his epic failures when they have been just as culpable. I can understand why he wouldn't want to alienate any of the current members of Congress--if he intends to run for President next year. That would be a nice way to implement some of the ideas he presents in this book, wouldn't it?

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