Posted tagged ‘Filibuster’

A rigged vote, no real debate

September 11, 2015

A rigged vote, no real debate, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, September 11, 2015

This has been a bad month for democracy, for serious debate and for the treatment of all Americans as equally capable of deciding important issue on their merits and demerits. Whether it also turns out to have been a bad month for peace and nuclear non-proliferation remains to be seen. But even those who support the deal should be ashamed of some of the undemocratic tactics and bigoted arguments employed to avoid a real debate and a majority vote.

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When I was growing up, “filibuster” was a dirty word. It was a tactic used by bigoted southern Senators to prevent the enactment of any civil rights legislation. I recall Senator Strom Thurman babbling on for 24 hours in an effort to keep the south racially segregated. We regarded the filibuster as the enemy of democracy and the weapon of choice against civil rights.

Yet, President Obama and his followers in the senate deployed this undemocratic weapon in order to stifle real debate about the nuclear deal with Iran and to prevent the up or down vote promised by the Corker bill. A President, who was more confident of the deal, would have welcomed the Lincoln-Douglas type debates that I and others had called for regarding the most important foreign policy decision of the 21st century. But instead of arguments on the merits and demerits of the deal, what we mostly got was ad hominems. Proponents of the deal trotted out famous names of those who supported the deal, without detailed arguments about why they took that position. No wonder so few Americans support the deal. According to a recent Pew poll approximately one in five Americans think the deal is a good one. The President had an obligation to use his bully pulpit to try to obtain majority support among voters. Not only did he fail to do that, he also failed to persuade a majority of senator and house members. So this minority deal will go into operation over the objection of majority of our legislators and voters.

One of the low points of this debate was a variation on the ad hominem fallacy. It was the argument by religious or ethnic identity. Supporters of the deal tried to get as many prominent Jews as they could to sign ads and petitions in favor of the deal. The implicit argument was, “See, even Jews support this deal, so it must be good for Israel,” despite the reality that the vast majority of Israelis and almost all of its political leaders believe the deal is bad for Israel.

The absolute low point in the non-debate was a New York Times chart, identifying opponents of the deal by whether they were Jewish or Gentile. The implication was that Jews who opposed the deal must be more loyal to their Jewish constituents or to Israel than Americans who supported the deal. But the chart itself made little sense. It turns out that the vast majority of democratic Congressmen who voted against the deal were not Jewish, and several of them represented districts in which less than 1% of the voters were Jewish. It is true that two out of the four democratic senators who voted against the deal were identified as Jews, but one of the non-Jewish Senators represents West Virginia where Jewish voters constituted less than one tenth of one percent of the voting population. Moreover, opposition to this deal is considerably greater among evangelical Christians than among Jews.

Identifying by their religion members of congress who voted against a deal that the Times strongly supported is, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (Camera) aptly put it, more than a dog whistle; it is a bull horn. It plays squarely into anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews having dual loyalty. Will the Times next identify bankers, media moguls, journalists and professors by their religious identity? Would the Times have done that for other ethnic, religious or gender groups?

This has been a bad month for democracy, for serious debate and for the treatment of all Americans as equally capable of deciding important issue on their merits and demerits. Whether it also turns out to have been a bad month for peace and nuclear non-proliferation remains to be seen. But even those who support the deal should be ashamed of some of the undemocratic tactics and bigoted arguments employed to avoid a real debate and a majority vote.

Satire but not funny|Kim Jong-un has replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House

September 11, 2015

Kim Jong-un has replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 11, 2015

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

We have met the enemy and it is us: we have become too tired to be effective and hence are becoming indifferent. The charade on Capitol Hill continues, and not only about the nuke “deal” with Iran. Will the carnival end before it’s too late, or will Obama continue to win?

The House speaker is elected by all House members, not just those of the majority party. He need not be a member of the House. Boehner having resigned because a serious medical condition often reduces him to tears, one group of Democrats nominated Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to replace him. However, due to her support for Hillary Clinton, she fell out of favor with the White House so another group of Democrats nominated Kim Jong-un at Obama’s request. To avoid the appearance of confrontation, Republicans offered no candidates. Kim won by seventeen votes, becoming the first non-US citizen to hold the office thus far this month.

tearsofboehnerDebby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting for duty!

REPORTING FOR DUTY!

The current upset was precipitated by Republican members’ disagreements with Boehner and other party leaders about how best to deal with the catastrophic Iran nuke “deal” without unnecessarily offending the President. Kim Jong-un is expected to substitute his own brand of leadership for Boehner’s leadership through ambivalence.

A majority also deemed Kim the best qualified to negotiate with Dear Leader Obama on behalf of the House because, as the undisputed leader of a rogue nuclear nation himself, he should be able to pull not only Obama’s strings but also those of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Rogue Republic of Iran.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined comment on the situation beyond refusing to comment on whether Obama met privately with Kim to congratulate him. However, Obama is generally thought to have confirmed that He fully supports Kim’s way of governing his own Democratic Peoples’ Republic and — subject to the few pesky restraints still imposed by an antiquated Constitution that He has not yet found ways to sneak around — He does His best to emulate him. In that connection, Obama asked Kim for recommendations on antiaircraft guns to deal humanely with Jews and other traitors who oppose Him (Please see also, New York Times Launches Congress ‘Jew Tracker’ – Washington Free Beacon.)

Desiring to gain Obama’s total good will, Kim promised to have derogatory cartoons of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton painted on all future North Korean nukes and missiles just before they explode. In return, Obama promised to issue executive orders granting North Korea the permanent right to declassify any and all U.S. documents it sees fit pertaining to the security of the United States and to obtain copies, gratis, from the Government Printing Office.

House Speaker Kim Jong-un will next meet with Supreme Leader Khamenei in Tehran to make two common sense proposals, with which Khamenei is certain to agree:

First, Kim will propose that a group of highly regarded North Korean nuclear experts — under his personal guidance and supervision — conduct all nuke inspections in Iran and draw all conclusions concerning any past or present Iranian nuclear program based on them exclusively. Those conclusions will be drawn on behalf of, and in lieu of any conclusions drawn by, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, immediately endorsed this plan as “splendid and totally consistent with any and all IAEA – Iran “secret deals.”

Second, Kim will propose that Khamenei promise not to nuke anyone until all sanctions have been permanently eliminated, unless he really wants to.

Obama is thought to have agreed with every aspect of the Kim plan and to have directed Secretary Kerry to tell Khamenei that if he agrees all sanctions will be eliminated permanently, via executive decree, and hence even more expeditiously than previously expected. Due to a successful Senate filibuster yesterday, Obama can issue the executive decree very soon; Today — Friday, September 11th — is being considered seriously due to the obvious symbolism of the date.

H/t Freedom is just another word

arming

The inevitable success of Kim’s mission will result in a win-win situation for nearly everyone, particularly the financially strapped IAEA, and the true Peace of Obama will prevail throughout all parts of the world that He considers worth saving. Remember — it’s all for the Children!

veto (1)Mushroom cloud

 

Addendum

하원 의장 김정은 의 문 사랑하는 북미 친구 , 그것은 오바마 대통령 아래에서 당신의 인생 이 곧 Amerika 민주주의 인민 공화국 이 될 것입니다 무엇 에 미래의 삶을 위해 잘 준비 것을 진심으로 희망 합니다. 배리 와 나는 제출 된 것을 기쁘게 사람들을 위해 가능한 한 오랫동안 지배 구조 의 우리의 양식 에 서서히 적응 을 하기 때문에 전환이 원활 하게 하기 위해 함께 열심히하고 고통 일했다 .

Translation:

Statement of House Speaker Kim Jong-un

My dear North American friends, it is my sincere hope that your life under President Obama has prepared you well for your future life in what will soon become the Democratic People’s Republic of Amerika. Barry [a.k.a. Barack] and I have worked long and hard together to acclimate you gradually to our transformed and transformational form of governance and hence to make the transition as smooth and painless as possible for those pleased to submit. Now, we will accelerate the progress.

Conclusions

It does not have to be that way. Here, in closing, are a few words from Daniel Greenfield.

We don’t have to give in to despair. If we do, we are lost. Lost the way that the left is lost. Lost the way that the Muslim world is lost.

We are not savages and feral children. We are the inheritors of a great civilization. It is still ours to lose. It is ours to keep if we understand its truths. [Emphasis added.]

We are not alone. A sense of isolation has been imposed on us as part of a culture war. The task of reconstructing our civilization and ending that isolation begins with our communication. We are the successors of revolutions of ideas. We need to do more than keep them alive. We must refresh them and renew them. And, most importantly, we must practice them.

We are not this culture. We are not our media. We are not our politicians. We are better than that.

We must win, but we must also remember what it is we hope to win. If we forget that, we lose. If we forget that, we will embrace dead end policies that cannot restore hope or bring victory.

What we have now is not a movement because we have not defined what it is we hope to win. We have built reactive movements to stave off despair. We must do better than that. We must not settle for striving to restore some idealized lost world. Instead we must dream big. We must think of the nation we want and of the civilization we want to live in and what it will take to build it.

Our enemies have set out big goals. We must set out bigger ones. We must become more than conservatives. If we remain conservatives, then all we will have is the America we live in now. And even if our children and grandchildren become conservatives, that is the culture and nation they will fight to conserve. We must become revolutionaries.

We must think in terms of the world we want. Not the world we have lost.

This is the America we live in now. But it doesn’t have to be.

It can be up to us, not to those who hate America and all for which she once stood.

Senate Democrats sustain Iran nuclear deal, free Obama to lift sanctions

September 10, 2015

Senate Democrats sustain Iran nuclear deal, free Obama to lift sanctions, Washington Times

Democrats rallied behind President Obama Thursday, successfully filibustering to preserve the deal he and international leaders negotiated to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, clearing the way for the White House to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic next week.

House Republicans were attempting a last-ditch effort to derail the deal, with a vote expected later in the day certifying that the president broke the law governing Congress’s review of the Iran deal. But Senate GOP leaders have rejected that avenue of attack, and Mr. Obama is expected to consider the Senate vote enough backing to move ahead next week.

“This is historic, this is grand, this is visionary,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “This is about peace.”

Opponents vehemently disagreed, predicting that a new arms race in the Middle East, and eventually war, would be the result of giving Iran access to tens of billions of dollars, lifting restrictions on conventional weapons and allowing the regime to retain the right to enrich nuclear material.

Public sentiment is adamantly opposed to the deal, according to polls, and a bipartisan majority in Congress voted to reject the agreement, including all Republican senators and four Democrats. But they were unable to surmount Democratic leaders’ filibuster, falling just two votes shy.

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, signed into law earlier this year, Mr. Obama was required to submit the final agreement to Congress, and give lawmakers 60 days to review it before he could unilaterally lift sanctions. Congress needed to pass a resolution of disapproval in order to stop him, but Thursday’s filibuster short-circuited that effort.

Republicans could try again next week, ahead of the Sept. 17 date when Mr. Obama says he’ll be able to lift sanctions, but there’s little chance any senators will change their votes barring overwhelming pressure.

Across the Capitol, House Republican leaders are trying a new tactic, having concluded that Mr. Obama didn’t submit to Congress some of the side-agreements involved in the Iran deal, so the 60-day clock hasn’t actually started.

In particular, the International Atomic Energy Agency has refused to share agreements it reached with Iran governing how inspections of the regime’s nuclear facilities will be done. Republicans said without seeing those agreements, it’s impossible to judge how easy it will be for Iran to backslide.

“No American citizen has read this entire agreement,” Rep. Mike Pompeo, Kansas Republican, told colleagues as he pleaded with them to stop the deal.

The House was slated to vote later Thursday on a resolution officially stating the president hasn’t complied with the law. On Friday, the House will vote on two other measures: One would direct the president not to lift sanctions until January at the earliest, and the other would officially approve the Iran deal — Republicans intend for that to fail.

Mr. Obama said Thursday that if Congress hadn’t backed him, he would have had no other option to stop Iran’s program other than to strike at its nuclear facilities.

“We can either prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon through diplomacy, or be left with a form of war,” the president said in answering questions about the deal on Quora.com. “Those are the options. As commander in chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary, but I cannot in good conscience place the burden of war on our men and women in uniform without testing a diplomatic agreement that achieves a better result.”

Thursday’s vote was a major victory for Mr. Obama and his top lieutenants in Congress, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who corralled enough supporters to ensure Mr. Obama’s moves couldn’t be stopped.

Senate Dems plot filibuster to dodge Iran nuclear deal vote

September 1, 2015

Senate Dems plot filibuster to dodge Iran nuclear deal vote, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, September 1, 2015

(Please see also, Use Our Senatorial Nuclear Option to Stop Iran’s Radioactive Nuclear Option. — DM)

Democratic senators supporting President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran are cowards. They know that a majority of Americans oppose the deal. Thus, they are running for cover to avoid going on the record and voting against a resolution disapproving the deal. A filibuster to block a vote on the merits altogether is the Democratic Senate caucus’s preferred way out.

The White House is reportedly pushing the filibuster strategy even though Obama is virtually certain to have enough votes to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval passed by both houses of Congress. Two-thirds votes are required in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to override an Obama veto. But if Obama can get out of using his veto pen and expending political capital to sustain it, he is all too happy to hide behind the filibuster fig leaf.

So far only two Democratic senators have declared their opposition to the deal – New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, and New Jersey’s senior senator, Robert Menendez. Assuming they both would vote with the Republican majority to end a filibuster, four additional votes would be needed to reach the magic closure number of 60 and allow the resolution to proceed to a floor vote. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is doing what he can to corral enough support among his fellow Democrats to prevent the closure number from being reached.

Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Associated Press he found it “stunning” that Reid is proposing to block a vote on a resolution of disapproval.  “All but one senator voted in favor of having the right to vote on the final deal, so then to turn right around and filibuster it to me is very inconsistent and I think would be confusing to the people they represent,” Senator Corker said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was even more direct, declaring that Reid “wants to deny the American people a voice entirely by blocking an up-or-down vote on this terrible deal.”

A majority of Americans oppose the nuclear deal. Democrats could face a political price if they do not even allow a vote that reflects the majority sentiment. But blind partisan loyalty to Obama trumps their responsibility to the American people. Their excuse, as explained by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), is an insult to American national sovereignty:

“There’s a cost to the international credibility of the country and this president if a motion of disapproval passes the House and the Senate. There is some harm to the country’s standing if we have to go through the charade of the veto.”

The “charade” in play here occurred when the Senate forfeited its constitutional prerogative in the first place to “advise and consent” to treaties by a two-thirds vote of senators present. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPA”), the formal name of the nuclear deal with Iran, deserved to be handled as a treaty that affirmatively requires Senate approval. Instead, in the face of the Obama administration’s threat to treat the JCPA solely as an executive agreement and exclude Congress altogether from playing any role in reviewing the JCPA before it went into effect, the leaders in both houses buckled under. They ended up taking whatever scraps of participation in the process that the Obama administration was willing to offer them.

The Republican majority thereby set a terrible precedent when it agreed to an upside-down procedure under which President Obama will get his way unless both houses of Congress override his veto of a disapproval resolution by a two-thirds vote. Now they are playing defense against the stratagems of Democratic Minority Leader Reid, who plans to take no prisoners. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Baidi-nejad, presumably speaking for his government, is rooting for Reid to succeed with his filibuster ploy, according to a report last weekend in the Tehran Times.

The response of the Republican Senate majority to the filibuster threat is muddled. When asked whether the majority could beat back a filibuster maneuver, Senator Corker lamented, “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

There is a defeatist attitude emerging amongst opponents of the deal, although some Republicans are looking to the next election to exact a political price from those Democratic senators running in 2016 who side with Reid and Obama. In particular, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), still reportedly undecided, may be in the crosshairs as a vulnerable incumbent if he ends up supporting Reid and Obama. “If Sen. Michael Bennet filibusters or votes for the Iran deal we will make sure voters know he supported a nuclear deal that threatens our national security,” Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement.

Waiting until the 2016 elections, however, is too little, too late, at least as far as the filibuster threat is concerned. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must not only denounce the filibuster ploy, but push through a change in Senate rules to prohibit a filibuster that would prevent an up-or-down vote on something as momentous to national security as the nuclear deal with Iran.

McConnell would not have to look very far for a precedent. Harry Reid provided it back in 2013 when he maneuvered a party line vote to ban the use of filibusters to block votes on presidential nominations.

“A simple majority vote no longer seems to be sufficient for anything, even routine business, in what is supposed to be the world’s foremost deliberative body,” Obama said at the time in supporting Reid’s tactic. “Today’s pattern of obstruction, it just isn’t’ normal, it’s not what our founders envisioned.”

In truth, our founders did not envision a situation in which a minority of senators can prevent the Senate from even exercising the crumb left on the table after the majority ceded away the Senate’s constitutional treaty “advice and consent” powers.

Senator McConnell responded to Reid’s initiative against the use of filibusters in connection with nominations this way: “Some of us have been here long enough to know the shoe is sometimes on the other foot. You’ll regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

The shoe now is on the other foot. The time has come for Senator McConnell and the Senate Republican majority to put their collective foot down and force the Democrats to vote up or down on the resolution to disapprove Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. They must act immediately to take away the Democrats’ filibuster fig leaf. Each of those Obama loyalists who support the deal should be required to go on the record and be accountable to their constituents for their decision. Even if not playing the full advice and consent role that the founding fathers contemplated with regards to treaties, the Senate will at least have had its say. And the next president can act accordingly to void the deal and punish Iran, including (unlike Obama) supporting congressional initiatives for even harsher sanctions and possible military action, if Iran is found to have violated a single commitment. The large majority of Americans who oppose Obama’s deal deserve nothing less.