Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Senate Republicans After Health Care Passage

MeanMesa Asks:  
"How are the Grand Old Party Patriots (GOPPs) handling the passage of the 
Health Care Reform Bill?"

Uh, not very well, it seems.

Aside from getting every dirty shirt Attorney General from all the "down south somewhere" states to immediately file an attack of frivolous Constitutional law suits as they try to block health care for the poor, the Senate Republicans, in yet another of their  zombie-like 100% tantrums, have invoked an ancient Senate Rule to stop all work every afternoon at 2 PM.  What exactly does this mean, and what exactly are they doing?

How the Senate Usually Works
Senate business starts at noon.  Of course, Senators are in their offices earlier than than receiving campaign contributions from their, uh, friends, but activities such as the famous Senate "debates," votes and committee hearings all begin at noon.  At 2 PM, two hours later, the Senate is required to act to extend the day's working session on through the afternoon by passing a quick unanimous consent vote to keep going.

If the unanimous consent vote fails, the Senate stops for the day.  And, this "stoppage" isn't limited to the dry cereal pablum we might see on C-Span. either. It extends to everything the Senate is doing.  When the nation is stuck in two worthless wars, an economic meltdown and the mindless diplomatic crises left over from the autocracy, the Senate is, well, expected to be doing something for the American people all afternoon everyday.

That would be, "doing something" for longer than two hours each week day that the Senate is in session.

The average (rough) annual salary for a Senator is around $175,000.

What's Going On Now

The Senate Republicans, once again manifesting their creepy "to a man" lockstep, are refusing to pass the unanimous consent every day.  This can be best understood by the threat that  Grandpappy McCain spouted out the day after the health reform bill passed.  His "pissy" little snit basically said that the Republicans would do everything they could to stop all work which might help the Democrats win the midterm elections in November.

Now, this might sound like simply another little "burp" from the petulant children inhabiting the reactionary chairs on the Senate floor -- you know, just more politics as usual.  However, when MeanMesa looks at some of the stuff that will be "clogging up the drain" because of this maneuver, we see more than an innocent blob of our teen aged daughter's bleach-blond hair and chewing gum.

To bring home the paradox, an example will be helpful.

The Example

Senate Republicans Are Willing to Sabotage Afghanistan for Political Gains

This would be the heartbreaking story of "hearings."  Just about all the important stuff the Senate ever does begins with "hearings." Perhaps everyone can remember the famous "hearings" that Senator Baucus held while he was carefully negotiating away everything Americans wanted in the health care reform debate.

Although many of these Seante hearings would normally be going on in the afternoon sessions -- that is, committee meetings which might occur after 2 PM on a normal day before the Republicans began this scheme -- are effectively castrated by the lack of these unanimous consent votes, we can look at a specific example for an explanation of exactly why this latest reactionary move is so lethal.

One of the many hearings which have been scheduled for months was an examination of the corruption in the US policy of training Afghan police. 

Thanks to the Republican idea that everything of value either has to do with more campaign contributions or winning the next election by inflaming the information challenged voters -- almost never for the good of the people or the country -- this police training operation is mired in an abyss of worthless, crooked, no-bid contractors who are not only sucking boatloads of tax dollars out of our Treasury, but, while doing that, are also really pissing off the Afghans and not really creating many well trained Afghan policemen.

This long scheduled committee hearing was to get to the bottom of this little "stink hole."  Some Democratic Senators were convinced that this was something they could definitely improve -- beginning with this Senate Committee hearing, then going forward for a later floor vote on the corrective action to be taken.

Military commanders from around the world, State Department officials in charge of this operation, Defense Department big-wigs and other folks were scheduled to testify in this hearing.  For a moment, it looked very much like the problem was finally going to receive the attention it deserved from the Senators involved.

Ooops!  The hearing is cancelled.  It was, unhappily, scheduled for after 2PM, and, as such, fell under the "knife" of the Senate Republican tantrum.  If you, as a MeanMesa visitor find this troubling, remember that all sorts of other things have been cancelled, too!

This sort of drunken Senate rule banging is left over from a previous age.  MeanMesa has been watching the Senate do such things for decades.  Forty or fifty years ago a scandal such as this would have hardly raised an eyebrow.  During those happier times, the country was fat with prosperity, honor and determination -- the Senate would not have dared such a selfish, childish maneuver under Ike or LBJ.  But, here we are...

Read more at the following links.

from Think Progress:

and from True/Slant:

Talk to your neighbors, your family, your butcher, your barber -- well, you get the idea.  The neo-cons truly believe that this approach is going to lead them to a landslide victory in the midterm elections.  Do we really approve of such a ill-considered and self-serving political tactic when it both endangers the American troops which are in Afghanistan now, threatens the success of the strategy of the President and dishonors the blood our country has already invested there?

All while Senators such as Grandpa McCain, a failed war monger himself, try to claim the "higher ground" as military violence experts?

We have to make sure that doesn't happen.  Neither we nor the nation can afford for these "throwbacks" to cause even more wreckage and be rewarded for it with re-election in November.\

The time to start is NOW.

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