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May 18, 2005

"It's Like A Banana Republic"

-- by Dave Johnson

I just got off a blogger conference call with Senator Schumer of New York, talking about the "nuclear option" in which the Republicans are trying to remove the right of the Senate Minority party to filibsuster. I want to write at length about this later, but right now I have a pesky "day job" situation that I should be attending to so I'll be brief.

First, from my notes, Sen. Schumer says that we are on the "eve of a precipice – one of the major Constitutional crisis of last 100 years." He says that in return for the far right keeping the public pressure down - they were publicly critical of Dole and Bush's father, for example, which harmed them in their runs for the Presidency - Bush would hand judicial appointments over to the Right. He says that "Bush has turned over mechanism of picking judges to the federalist society."

In response to a potential loss on the "nuclear option" Democrats are "not going to slow down the Senate, nor bring it to a grinding halt. They will use every senate rule they can to wrest the agenda from the majority. In the past it is comity that ..." and here he was called to the Senate floor, but he was going to say that as part of the traditional comity of the Senate the Minority party allows the Majority to set the Senate's agenda, and that will cease and the Democrats will start introducing their own agenda items, such as raising the Minimum Wage, and force the Republicans to a public vote on such bills as the Democrats have written them. What this means is that any talk you hear from The Party (my term for the Republican Party and all of its tentacles of propaganda and control: think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) about "obstruction" is just another lie. (Yes, Virginia, they lie.)

My quote of the day came when I asked if the Republicans lose, what will they try next in their unceasing drive to achieve absolute power? "Who would ever have thought that the Vice President could rule from the chair – it's like a banana republic." I don't have the exact quote for what he said next but he went on to say the Republicans appear to think they can just say the Constitution means this or that and there's nothing we can do about it…

So, here we are. This could well be a week that is talked about in history classes for 100 years or more. If it turns out that the Republicans are able to seize the last check and balance that is in place there will be nothing to stop them from implementing their entire agenda. And I think the key to helping the public understand the consequences of this is our own understanding and talking about what this means to people's lives rather than talking about it in technical terms of things they will implement, or issues, or "taking us back 100 years." I think we need to talk about the Right's agenda in terms of pensions disappearing, and birth control being made illegal again, and companies like AOL being able to charge your credit card long after you tried to cancel their service... and your dying mother being forced to live on a breathing machine no matter what she wanted.

More later. Watch your backs.

Update - Other bloggers writing about the call. I'll update this:
TalkLeft: Conference Call With Sen. Schumer
Swing State Project: Nuclear Option
Daily Kos: Schumer Talk Before His Floor Speech
BOPNews: Negotiating the Nuclear Option

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 18, 2005 10:10 AM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "It's Like A Banana Republic":

» Conference Call With Sen. Schumer from TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
Democratic bloggers just finished a conference call with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on the nuclear option. The Dems are being very careful. They will not leave the Senate floor unattended even to go to the bathroom in case someone tries... [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2005 11:48 AM

» Nuclear Option from Swing State Project
In the opening salvo, Schumer bested Frist UPDATE 1 - Wednesday 1:54 PM (Bob): Dave Johnson reports, Schumer: "It's like a Banana Republic." Ellen Dana Nagler has the negotiation watch. UPDATE 2 - Wednesday 2:29 PM (Tim): A wingnut batton pass. From Se... [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2005 12:54 PM

» First for Frist from The nTrain
Cacophanies aside, Frist goes wildly off message on the floor of the Senate. The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe... [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2005 2:35 PM

» Pack of Lies (Special Edition, Part 1) from The Left Coaster
Given that some in the right side of the blogosphere/media - and their political masters in The Party - have recently been exuding the unimaginable stench of mendacity that is also bottomless in its moral depravity, a wee bit -... [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2005 8:31 PM

» Lazy Snarking from Scratchings

I just got off a blogger conference call with Senator Schumer of New York, talking about the "nuclear option" in ...
[Read More]

Tracked on May 19, 2005 7:14 AM

» It Only Gets Worse from Scratchings
Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest reporting Chuck Schumer's account of the Dem strategy if the Repubs go nuclear:



In ...
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Tracked on May 19, 2005 11:11 AM


Comments

It is a banana republic. If the VP can rule that Senate Rules don't mean what they plainly state, then the VP can run the senate by fiat! Why do they even need 51 votes? The VP can rule that 44 votes are good enough. The VP can rule that votes against what the president wants are unpatriotic and will not be counted. The senate will cease to exist as an independent body and become an arm of the executive branch.

Posted by: Alan S. at May 18, 2005 11:41 AM

I've said before that I like Schumer. Remembering his campaign against d'Amato, a conservative pig, Schumer's an old-fashioned New York style street fighter. I'm glad he's deep in this fight. When it comes to strategy, he's about the only hope we have.

Ultimately, it's the Republicans who actually care about the country who have to find the guts to stand up against the extreme right wing of their own party, no matter how scared they are of retaliation. Somebody has to say this loud and clear. They're the ones who have to find the guts to do it. And be called the cowards they are if they don't.

Posted by: MJ at May 18, 2005 11:52 AM

Arguably this has been a banana republic since Dubya stole the 2000 election. Thanks for this quick interview with Senator Schumer, Dave. He must feel like the rest of us - like we're living in the bloody Twilight Zone.

Posted by: Susan at May 18, 2005 12:12 PM

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