« Legal Free Music | Main | Another Trick (Surprised?) »


April 27, 2005

Setting Aside The Rules

-- by Dave Johnson

I participated in a conference call with Senate Minority Leader Reid Monday. The topic was the Republican "nuclear option" of not allowing filibusters anymore.

Senator Reid said something that I don't think the public is being made sufficiently aware of. He said that the Senate Parliamentarian has stated that this idea the Republicans have of changing the rules of the Senate to disallow filibusters of judicial nominations is itself against the rules of the Senate! (For one thing, the rule change itself could be filibustered, so the Republican insistence that 51 votes is enough to change the rules is against the rules.)

But the Republicans are saying no, they are just going to change the rule, regardless of what the Senate rules allow or do not allow. Just because they can, and no one can stop them.

I think the implications of this are disturbing, to say the least. The Republicans are saying they just will not follow the rules of the Senate, because they have the power to say this, and that's that. Rules will no longer apply. And as I understand it the Democrats can't take this to the courts, because separation of powers prevents the courts from getting involved with the internal rules of the Senate. (And if they could take it before the courts, would judges appointed under the Republican rules hear the case...?)

So this is a bigger deal than just a battle over appointing a few judges. This will be a full-blown Constitutional crisis, well beyond the 2000 Supreme Court decision to set aside the election and appoint Bush as President. This will be about the Republicans saying they will just make up the rules as they go along, because they have the power to do so.

My question is, how is this different from a coup, takeover, whatever you want to call it? I ask that question in all seriousness and I hope we can have a discussion in the comments, because I don't know the answer. I know I get worked up over things like this (I mean, I'm a blogger, right?) and I would like someone to calm me down and tell me how this is not a takeover. Leave a comment. Reassure me. Tell me not to worry.

Meanwhile, watch your backs.

Update - From The Carpetbagger Report has more on what this is about,

James Dobson did a lot of his usual shtick at “Justice Sunday,” railing against the judiciary, lambasting the culture that’s made him wealthy, demanding better results from the Republican Party, etc. But there was one comment from the weekend stood out for me.
“Five black-robed justices on the Supreme Court can tell us how it’s gonna be,” Dobson said. “They’re not gods. They don’t do everything right…. For 43 years, the court has been on a campaign to limit religious liberty.”
[. . .] This is significant because it speaks volumes about the far-right agenda. Focus on the Family and their followers in Congress aren’t just defending religion in the public square; they want the government to literally be responsible for writing and dictating prayers for all public school children. They want the biggest of all possible governments: the state as religious instructor. To do otherwise is “to limit religious liberty.”
Calling the Supreme Court "black-robed justices" and mocking the concept of existing law... Make no mistake, these people mean it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 27, 2005 12:43 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.seeingtheforest.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-t.fcgi/121

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Setting Aside The Rules:

» Close to Boiling from Pacific Views
One analogy that is often used to describe situations that are steadily getting worse without active complaint is the story of the frog put into a bucket of lukewarm water and its passivity while the water is slowly heated to... [Read More]

Tracked on April 28, 2005 10:23 AM


Comments

Okay, calm down. A little.

How is this different from a coup? It's a diference of degree.

People have a tendency to think of governments (or elections) as either legitimate or illegitimate. The truth is that there is a spectrum of legitimacy. The Senate ignoring its own rules would make our Congress less legitimate than it is currently, but more legitimate than if unelected persons seized power.

Obviously this isn't to say that people shouldn't be serously concerned.

Posted by: space at April 27, 2005 1:55 PM

You better worry cause your spot on. This is a takeover of our country as we know it. Think about it, how different is this country from what it was a mere 7 years ago. They are taking our rights as citizens away by the day. As a gay person I must say I'm terrified. I feel like in 7 years I'll be hiding out in someone's attic with my husband, son and dog. I am not kidding. We are being led down a tragic path.

Posted by: Dan at April 27, 2005 4:19 PM

What's happening is a putsch in slow motion. Every day democracy recedes further into the past. The Republicans don't worry what the Democrats might one day do as payback - they intend never to give up power.

And they're much better armed than we are.

Posted by: lovable liberal at April 27, 2005 4:30 PM

This is all remarkably similar to a game of Calvinball.

Posted by: Joe Bob at April 27, 2005 4:58 PM

Dave, Dave, Dave,........The coup was on December 12, 2000. It's over. 2002 and 2004 just solidified it.

Posted by: Vinnie at April 27, 2005 5:16 PM

I think various arguments can be made for and against retaining the filibuster, but I don't see how restoring majority rule can be considered either unconstitutional or a coup d'etat.

Posted by: DBL at April 27, 2005 7:35 PM

I wish I could reassure you, or myself for that matter. Because we can is not a reason.

Posted by: Mark Thoma at April 27, 2005 7:51 PM

Not to got relativist/absolute on this, but there is a line somewhere. At some point, the Republicans crossed it. Then they crossed it again. And again. Shouting down the recount in Dade County in 2000 was just the start. A war sold to serve a previous, unspoken agenda, later sold as freedom on the march. The muddy boots on our civil liberties. The shameful treatment of prisoners. The derogation of all others' rights in service to some dark vision. Because we know best and if you don't see that, well. . . . don't you understand? Some things have to be done!

Posted by: The Heretik at April 27, 2005 9:34 PM

Reassure you? Do you mean that you are not already worried? That you haven't been worried since the Radical Right and the Christo-Fascists impeached a president for having an affair? That you made it through the 2000 Selection and you were still not worried? I don't need to go on, I know I don't need to go on.

I am no longer worried, I'm fucking scared. And what scares me the most is how few people are scared.

Posted by: James E. Powell at April 28, 2005 12:56 AM


space:

"Okay, calm down. A little.

How is this different from a coup? It's a diference of degree."

Said the frog, as the water temperature rose...

Posted by: Anonymous at April 28, 2005 5:09 AM

Worried? Scared? What really scares me is how passive the public's been considering everything that's been happening since 2000.

Posted by: MJ at April 28, 2005 7:03 AM

Thanks for clarification on parlimentarian proceedure. It was something I noticed i.e. the change in filibuster rule could itself be filibustered but I thought I just wasn't getting it. I believe that is when Cheney indicated he would be the one to simply disallow that tactic.
Sorry to say I have nothing to add that would help settle your upset stomach.

Posted by: Jacob at April 28, 2005 7:29 AM

This is more of a coupe of a coup. It is a 2-seater coupe being driven by Frist and De Lay. The Democrats could try to stall it but that would only De Lay the inevitable.

Unfortunately, it looks like any Republican senators with the backbone to stand up to the religious right have flown the coop. This should not be surprising however. Backbones are not very prominent in an invertebrate species.

Posted by: Bill Feller at April 28, 2005 7:35 AM

Well at least our house is still somewhat run like a house of representatives. Look at the state of Georgia's house. They accidentally voted their speaker near-dictatorial powers... the ability to appoint certain people as "hawks" who can then serve on any committee whenever the speaker tells them to.

Whats that? Committee B (of 12 people) has decided to let some bill get to the floor, and it looks like they'll vote it 10-2? Send in a dozen hawks and vote it down 10 - 14.

And how do you undo a rule like that? Why, through the ways and means committee... which is also subject to hawks coming in and voting it down.

nohawks.com

Posted by: rawb at April 28, 2005 7:40 AM

Calm down? Need there be a reminder that such astute observers as Bill Moyers have written about the agenda of the right wing to dismantle the Constitution and put in place a theocratic rule utlizing the process of democracy.

Why else would there be such outlandish escapades as the "Justice Sunday" which highlights the subjucation of the Republican party to those who espouse a religious intolerence to all those who are not of their faith?

Calm down? This is a power grab by the party in power which is breathtaking. But this Republican Senatorial power grab complements the power grab by Mr. Bush and his enablers in the DoJ and White House consules office through such tortured reasoning of John Yoo, Judge Bybee, and Alberto Gonzales.

The rule of law is being thrown out by the Republican party.

This is a dangerous time for this nation's people because the Republicans have made use of fear to whip into submission a populace still affected by 9/11 and a faux "war on terror".

Posted by: ken at April 28, 2005 1:15 PM

This is just one more in a long line of actions designed to reduce our "democracy" to a theocratic one-party dictatorship.

Be afraid, very afraid.

Read Doris Lessing's "Memoirs of a Survivor" to see how easy it is for us to swallow just one more piece of dung, thinking that maybe this time it will be the last one.

Dominoes fall. Democracy is dead. The US has already been taken by coup.

Posted by: ashamed to be american at April 28, 2005 2:29 PM

"Obviously this isn't to say that people shouldn't be serously concerned."

I nominate the above for consideration as the understatement of the year.

Posted by: Bobski at April 28, 2005 3:21 PM

It's a coup, for all intents and purposes.

Posted by: Cynthia at April 28, 2005 4:02 PM

Sorry. No difference.

Power seized is power seized, whether by elected or unelected people. After our rights and protections are gone, who are we going to turn to, Congress, the courts?

the president bush and his corporatista allies are, even as we speak, seizing control of the government. This nonsense about the judges is just the sideshow. The real agenda is to remove the filibuster from the Senate rules.

That means not just for judges, but for anything the majority wants done.

And remember, with our new paperless electronic voting machines, we'll be trusting the people we are trying to vote out of office to tell us who won.

http://tmars.iwarp.com/guerrilla_campaign

Posted by: Tom Marshall at April 28, 2005 4:40 PM

Sorry ---- but, I'm too worried about this myself.

Posted by: Linda at April 28, 2005 6:27 PM

Discussed by many on my blog -

The Alarmist Dialogs: On the crazies who are pulling all the strings in Washington today, rubber-stamped by an uninformed electorate who already doesn't hold complex political theory in very high regard…
URL: http://apavlik0.tripod.com/sunsetblog/index.blog?entry_id=1081254

Posted by: Alan at April 28, 2005 9:48 PM

A little here, a little there, and next thing you know, we won't be able to do anything about the changes the Republicans keep making in the way our country is run.

It fascinates me that Republicans in general continue supporting this administration and Democrats in general don't make more of a fuss.

Posted by: Alan Charles at April 29, 2005 6:03 AM

Here's what Molly Ivins had to say about this in her current column:
Further, in order to change Rule 22, the Senate also has to change the rules on how to change the rules. At present, a two-thirds vote, 67, is required to change the rules, but under a procedural ploy, this will be brought up "out of order," so it requires only 51 votes.

I'm not sure what she means, but it sounds more involved than they're just saying they can, so they can.

Posted by: Donna at April 29, 2005 9:11 AM

Look on the bright side. Yes, the U.S. Senate has degenerated into a game of Calvinball, and the GOP radicals are extending their influence and control over Washington. The good news is that, by the time they succeed in taking over the show, the whole production will be bankrupt.

The can't build the really scary machine you're worrying about. They don't have the money to pay for it.

Posted by: s9 at April 29, 2005 10:29 PM

Sorry, but I think you need to be concerned, very concerned and it would be a hugh mistake to calm down. There was a coup d'etat in 2000 when the Supreme court took the vote away from the people and gave the Predencey to Bush. They did this when the re-count began to show that Gore had won the popular vote and the reason they gave was that to continue the recount would be detrimental to the partitioner George Bush. So Bush was never elected but rather appointed. Does that mean that he can run again in 2008? He was only "elected" once and according to the "rule book" which the Repubs just might look at, no one can be "elected" twice. Do you want to vomit yet? After this successful coup which was supported by the corporate media, the Repubs became more and more overt with their cavorting over our rights.........and nothing happened. Why should they stop? They have some of the population convinced that they are "the chosen". Personally I have been stocking up on canned goods ane other non-perishables (including food for my pets). I have a wind-up radio that does not need batteries as well as oil lanterns, a supply of water and potassium oxide. Laugh at me if you wish but I am expecting and preparing for either this country going bankrupt which will mean no more government pension or social security checks, the banks folding and our money being lost, the stock market folding and our money being lost, inability to pay for utilities, mortages,etc. Another possibility is a civilian revolution which will mean a dismantling of regular deliveries to stores thus a shortage or even elimination of many food items, disruption of utility services and military takeover of our cities. And the last possibility is that the rest of the world get tired of our heavy handedness or becomes frightened that we will invade them and they will attack us in self defense. I see no way out since we have no one who is standing up to this administration and since we have a main news media that distorts the truth and is only a platform for the White House.
I truely hope that I'm wrong and I hope that those who call me a fool are right. But I do not trust this meglomaniac who is in charge. He has absolutely no concern for "the people" and is unwilling to deter from his own aganda, whatever the cost. I am not only afraid of this government but I am also very angry at them for ruining my country, for not listening to the people who are protesting, for not thinking of anyone but themselves and how their acts can make more money for them and their friends. I am 63 years old I really feel sorry for those who are just starting out in life under these circumstances.

Posted by: Jane Algozzini at May 4, 2005 8:46 AM

Sorry for the mis-spelled words in my comments above but I was upset and not being careful. When I read it after I posted it, I blushed. I should have previewed it and will do so next time.

Posted by: Jane Algozzini at May 4, 2005 8:50 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?



Email this entry to:


Your email address:


Message (optional):


Return to main page