Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Give 'em Hell, Harry!" We've Been Waiting.

A Tale of Two Harry's

(image source)
Perhaps the most contemporary similarity between the two Democrats is associated with the "nuclear option."  For the first Harry this was quite material.  It amounted with an atomic bomb falling from a US bomber over Hiroshima, Japan.

Even before Little Boy had detonated, the world had changed.  Permanently.

For the second Harry the "nuclear option" amounted to a change in the paralytic "rules" of the United States Senate.  While such a decision may have represented a "contemplative challenge" for the "contemplative body" led by the old Senate Majority Leader, it represented a desperate last glimmer of hope for the rest of us.

"Give 'em Hell, Harry" (image)
We have watched in horror as the Republican servants of the oligarch class have declared and executed their war on the democracy.  The casualties of that war have visited an unprotected, undefended public in election crimes, a cynical Supreme Court majority, wild, violent divisiveness and economic collapse.  No American without the corrupt access and influence provided by lobbyists and a servile media has emerged unscathed.

"I don't give them hell.  I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell."   President Harry S. Truman

Even the hypnotized, brain dead minions still willing to elect more Republicans in the aftermath of these attacks have suffered in unconscious terror after being thoroughly pummelled by the controlled media's desolate, unceasing, propaganda fear campaign.

MeanMesa has posted on this grisly "downturn of events" before:

This is not merely geriatric hyperbole.  This young nation has never found itself so precariously close to the "tipping point" heralding the voluntary dissolution of our democracy.  While we have stupendous resources and accomplishments at our disposal, we are committing national suicide with the dull blade of junior high school ideology.

Further, all those still with voices, while urging us to "fight on," have abandoned us.  Matters seem to patiently slip from "bad to worse," while only the whimpering noise of maudlin laments roll out endlessly from our own Congressional "generals."  Not a single response, not even the most genial retaliation, has slowed the relentless advance of the oligarchs' coup.

Is "coup" too strong a term? (chart source)

The top 20% now, officially and quite legally, own 80% of the entire United States, and they intend to own the rest of it.  And, they clearly intend to own us, too.  A similar chart showing the wealth of the top 1% would be even more disturbing. This is the aftermath of the laws passed by these complaining fools.

Theoretically, in a representational democracy this trend would have been stopped long ago.  The relentless drive to plutocratic hegemony is nothing new.

President Theodore Roosevelt was famous for stopping the monopolistic oligarchs of his day. President Franklin Roosevelt was famous for redirecting the national wealth from the pockets of the oligarchs to the mouths of the hungry, ordinary citizens. President Harry S. Truman was famous for stopping the war profiteers of WWII. 

The theoretical "stopping" might have been led by the sitting President, but the "nuts and bolts" of grinding through the imbalance would have been the task of Congress.  This time while the President is doing what he can, instead of stopping this slide back to the economic model of 1700's European royalty, OUR Congress is promoting it!

Now we're ready to discuss the "second Harry."

Senate Filibuster Rules and Reid's "Nuclear Option"

One major part of the oligarchs' "death grip" on the economy -- and the democracy -- has been the glacial tide of GOP Senate filibusters.  Plenty has been published about this obstructive subversion of Senate rules, so MeanMesa won't "add logs to the fire."  But before we move on, take another look at the chart [above] to make sure you mistakenly consider that the US economy and the US democracy are not "joined at the hip."

Parasitic leeches such as oligarchs don't mistakenly send their private politicians to suck blood at the wrong spot.

For the six years following the first election of President Obama Senate Republicans, no doubt following orders, have filibustered almost every bill that has reached the floor of the Senate before it could face a vote.

Senate filibuster history (Maddow blog)
To "map" Dr. Maddow's chart to the corresponding administrations, Nancy Pelosi took the House Speakership with the 110th Session in January, 2007.  President Obama took the Oval Office in January, 2009, during the 111th Session.  Harry Reid became Senate Majority Leader in January, 2009 during the 111th Congressional Session.

What the chart shows is the Republicans' tactical response to becoming a minority party.  What the chart doesn't show is the continuing deterioration of the United States as it was continually prevented from solving its own current difficulties -- most of which were initiated during the Bush W. autocracy.

Senator Harry Reid [D-NV] (image source)
Reid has now followed through with his threat to hold a simple Senate vote -- "simple" in the sense of being a vote requiring only a "simple" majority of 51 Senators -- to change the Senate rule which has made the Republican obstruction of judicial nominations possible: the filibuster cloture rule -- Rule 22.

Typically, this type of GOP filibuster in the current Senate occurs to prevent bills nominating Federal judges and prosecutors from Senate committees from reaching a full Senate floor vote.  Republicans have used the filibuster to block all sorts of normal Senate work -- and in this case, most notably Obama administration nominations for judicial posts.

This particular tactic has grown so bad that the Obama Administration has been unable to nominate and confirm appointments to Federal judgeships so frequently that the Department of Justice has warned that the system itself is beginning to fail.  The Republicans, through their almost inevitable filibuster, have required a cloture vote that takes 60 votes.

This is precisely what Majority Leader Reid has addressed with his rule change.

Map: Senate Democrats Nuke the Filibuster
The Senate vote on blowing up the filibuster, mapped.

[Go to the SLATE article here.  The map {below} is an interactive graphic on the original page.]

  Rule 22 vote (image source)
"After years of threats, Majority Leader Harry Reid finally took the “nuclear option” today and heavily limited the power of filibustering. Senators will no longer be able to filibuster votes to approve executive branch nominees and judicial nominees for lower courts, which means the president’s nominees will henceforward require only 51 votes instead of the 60 required to defeat a filibuster. Senators will still be able to filibuster Supreme Court nominations.

The rule change will prevent the minority from stifling executive functions by withholding nominee approvals, but it could also affect the ideological make up of the executive and judicial branches. The map above shows how senators from each state voted on the issue."

 Aside from denoting which Senators deserve public pillorying after the vote, the pink zone displays the fading glory of the Republican Party.  Beyond a clutch of deep South bigots and a patchy quilt of "fly-over" country through the nation's middle, the "tea bag hordes" showed up short.

Instantly after the vote, heavily soiled Republican Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, began a litany of threats of GOP "vengeance." Thoroughly dispatched Republican "war expert" John McCain parroted out similar vitriol.

But however frightening these threats may have been, MeanMesa sees only a field of wounded, yet still quite fickle, Democrats facing a few still bombastic archers with visibly empty quivers.  There are, very honestly, few more injuries left for these hateful geriatric hate mongers to inflict on our country.

Further, if this were actually a "nuclear bomb" as implied by the Senatorial term, "nuclear option," it would be an impossibly small one.  Far from a wide reaching "defanging" of the McConnell filibusters, it amounts to little more than the extraction of single rotten tooth.  It deals exclusively with the filibustering of judicial appointments leaving all the other critical affairs of the nation firmly in the quivering, extractive grip of the cynical GOP.

A Few Final "Love" Notes From MeanMesa

To Mitch McConnell:

"You disgust every American who isn't listening to the media mouth junk broadcast by the networks your bosses own."

To Harry Reid:

"You have allowed the entire national needs of the United States to languish for five years as a result of your cowardice.  The rest of us do not -- and can not -- fear the future the way you do, probably because we don't have jobs as Senators."

To the Senate:

"Don't walk the streets of your constituencies without security.  The public opinion polls don't tell the half of it.  There's an important difference between 'disapproving' and 'infuriated.'"

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