Thursday, April 22, 2010

Democrats Make Their Most Thuggish, Naked Power Grab Yet

I don't think we're in America anymore, Toto:

Senate Democrats Gather In The Rules Committee To Eliminate The Filibuster, Which They Previously Called One "Of The Most Treasured And Cherished Traditions Of The United States Senate."

Yep, now that the Dems don't have 60 votes, and now that their window for destroying a free and prosperous America through an unprecedented expansion of government is rapidly closing, they have decided to get rid of the primary tool used by a minority to hold up a reckless and destructive majority.  Of course, as is typical with these people, that's precisely the opposite of their previous position:

THEN-SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): "What [The American People] Do Not Expect Is For One Party, Be It Republican Or Democrat, To Change The Rules In The Middle Of The Game So They Can Make All The Decisions While The Other Party Is Told To Sit Down And Keep Quiet." "What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this Chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse." (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)

THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): "I Pray God When The Democrats Take Back Control, We Don't Make The Kind Of Naked Power Grab You Are Doing." (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S.5737, 5/23/05)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): "The Need To Muster 60 Votes In Order To Terminate Senate Debate Naturally Frustrates The Majority And Oftentimes The Minority. I Am Sure It Will Frustrate Me When I Assume The Office Of Majority Leader In A Few Weeks. But I Recognize This Requirement Is A Tool That Serves The Long-Term Interest Of The Senate And The American People And Our Country." (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)

•    REID: "Mr. President, The Filibuster Is Not A 'Procedural Gimmick.' The Filibuster Is An Important Check On Executive Power And Part Of Every Senator's Right To Free Speech In The United States Senate." (Sen. Harry Reid, "Reid Floor Statement On Nuclear Option," Press Release, 5/17/05)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) On Any Threat To The Filibuster: "The Basic Makeup Of Our Senate Is At Stake. The Checks And Balances That Americans Prize Are At Stake. The Idea Of Bipartisanship, Where You Have To Come Together And Can't Just Ram Everything Through Because You Have A Narrow Majority, Is At Stake. The Very Things We Treasure And Love About This Grand Republic Are At Stake." (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.4801, 5/10/05)

•    SCHUMER: "We Are On The Precipice Of A Crisis, A Constitutional Crisis. The Checks And Balances Which Have Been At The Core Of This Republic Are About To Be Evaporated By The Nuclear Option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote you don't get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing it's almost a temper tantrum by those on the hard right. They want their way every single time, and they will change the rules, break the rules, misread the Constitution so they will get their way." (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.5208, 5/16/05)

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV): "I Believe That Efforts To Change Or Reinterpret The Rules In Order To Facilitate Expeditious Action By A Simple Majority, While Popular, Are Grossly Misguided." ("Sen. Byrd Calls Proposed Democratic Changes To Filibuster Rules 'Misguided,'" The Hill, 2/24/10)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT): "'I Totally Oppose The Idea Of Changing Filibuster Rules,' Dodd Said During An Appearance On MSNBC. 'That's Foolish, In My View.'" ("Dodd: Changing Filibuster Rules Would Be 'Foolish,'" The Hill, 2/17/10)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): "Blinded By Political Passion, Some Are Willing To Unravel Our Government's Fundamental Principle Of Checks And Balances To Break The Rules And Discard Senate Precedent. The nuclear option, if successful, will turn the Senate into a body that could have its rules broken at any time by a majority of Senators unhappy with any position taken by the minority. It begins with judicial nominations. Next will be executive appointments, and then legislation." (Sen. Feinstein, Congressional Record, S.5398, 5/18/05)

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): "Those Who Would Attack And Destroy The Institution Of The Filibuster Are Attacking The Very Force Within The Senate That Creates Compromise And Bipartisanship." (Sen. Richard Durbin, Congressional Record, 4/15/05, p.S3763)

•    DURBIN: The Filibuster Is "[One] Of The Most Treasured And Cherished Traditions Of The United States Senate." "Many of us in the Senate feel that this agreement tonight means that some of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate will be preserved, will not be attacked and will not be destroyed." (Sen. Durbin, "Statement of Sen. Dick Durbin Regarding the Agreement on Judicial Nominations in the Senate," Press Release, 5/23/05)

SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE): "Filibusters … Give Small States Such As Nebraska An Important Tool To Protect Itself From The Will Of The Larger States." "Filibusters also give small States such as Nebraska an important tool to protect itself from the will of the larger States." (Sen. Nelson, Congressional Record, S.5917, 5/25/05)

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): "I Was Very Concerned That When You Looked At The Nuclear Option, If That Trigger Was Pulled, You Had A Nuclear Winter That Would Follow." "But in a broader sense, I did this agreement for them because I was very concerned that when you looked at the nuclear option, if that trigger was pulled, you had a nuclear winter that would follow." (Sen. Pryor, Congressional Record, S.6000, 5/26/05)

How can they do this?  Maybe like this:

Senate rules require 67 votes to change the rules of the Senate. However, it's actually quite possible for 50 Senators—if backed by the Vice President—to have elements of existing procedural deemed unconstitutional.

The US court system neither will nor should rule on things like the constitutionality of a de facto supermajority rule. But this is precisely why you have a President of the Senate (i.e., a Vice President) and I think it would be perfectly plausible for Joe Biden to say that by specifying supermajority voting for certain purposes (treaties, veto overrides, constitutional amendments) the constitution is clearly assuming majority rule for other purposes. Then it would take a majority of Senators to back up Biden's ruling. And low and behold, a return to majority rule

Ace sums it up very succinctly: "Ah. So they're just going to have the Vice President start declaring things unconstitutional?"

Yep, looks that way.

Welcome to the Obama era, baby.  How's that hope-n-change working out for you?

There's my two cents.

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