Filibuster: Make Them Talk

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The Senate is considering reforming the rules for filibusters. In the last few years the filibuster has been used so frequently that it is now conventional wisdom that “it takes 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate.” This is because the public, and apparently even much of the news media, does not understand how the Senate operates. In fact, when you hear that something takes 60 votes to pass it is because it has been filibustered.
In the last two years everything has been blocked by an obstructive minority in the Senate. This was done as a strategy, on purpose, with the idea that by blocking everything and keeping the public from understanding this was what was going on, the public would turn against the Democrats for not getting enough done to solve the country’s problems. And it worked.
Make Them Talk
So the Senate is considering changing the rules for the filibuster, in an attempt to restore democracy and enable a return to governing and problem-solving. They are not talking about getting rid of the filibuster, they are talking about returning to its original purpose. To sum it up, they are going to try to make them talk.
Currently a Senator can can announce a filibuster or place a “hold,” and that alone requires that the Senate gather 60 votes to undo it. For nominations the Senator does not even have to be identified. But this is not what the public understand the filibuster to be. The public thinks the filibuster is a dramatic event, with Senators talking all night, like in the movie Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
So the proposed changes in the filibuster will bring this back. Senators will have to talk, and it will be dramatic, and the public will know that there is a filibuster underway.
Senator Harkin: The Purpose Of The Filibuster
On a call with the press today Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa talked about this idea for changing the filibuster. He began by reminding us of the original purpose of the filibuster. This was so that when the majority is doing something that is egregious, the minority can hold it up, giving the public time to react if they so choose. But this is not at all what we have today. Today it enables the minority to block everything, subverting democracy.
Harkin said that by enabling the minority to block everything we have “stood democracy on its head.” The minority decides everything, which means “the majority has the responsibility but not the ability to govern.” “The minority should not have the power to dictate what the senate does.”
The purpose of the filibuster, he said, should be to slow things down and let the public know something dramatic is happening. And the use of a supermajority was historically limited, originally for impeachment, treaties and overturing a veto. Not for passing legislation or confirming nominees.
Harkin would like to see a return to a dramatic, make-them-talk filibuster.
Good For Democracy
Making them talk would be good for democracy, because the public will be able to see that a dramatic event is taking place. Just as in the movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, the public will have a chance to rise in support of the effort, or let Senators know they oppose it.
Making them talk all night gives the public an opportunity to rally, one way or the other. It also, frankly, puts on a show, which will engage the public, restoring interest in government. This is good and we should do it.
Please visit Fix The Senate Now for more information. And CALL YOUR SENATORS to tell them you support reforming the filibuster!
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A Public Bank!

This is a really good idea: Eschaton: Public Banking Option

Yes there should be one though probably the best we could hope for is a “if you want to make money providing the financial services to run our food stamp debit cards then you must offer accounts on these terms.” Not holding my breath for that one, but “paying someone lots of money to do what the government could do more cheaply” seems to be the only acceptable way to do anything decent these days.


Tunisia tossed out a dictator after months of public protests and street demonstrations. Scarecrow at FDL, talk about … Tunisia? Tunisians Help “Expand Our Moral Imaginations”

Suppose you lived in a country in which the ruling elite had retained power for decades and then used that power to heap enormous wealth and privilege on the ruling elite, while the elite’s financiers profited even more from their regime by looting the nation’s financial system.
Suppose these financial and political elites had ignored the plight of ordinary citizens, allowed massive poverty and income inequality to persist, and instead fostered conditions allowing the elite to plunder the country’s resources and loot its citizen’s wealth, leaving millions unemployed and at risk of losing their homes.
Suppose this same elite controlled the media, could buy/bribe government officials at will, and could use the media and the trappings of democracy to claim legitimacy while enforcing a narrow range on political discourse and even narrower range of which problems and solutions possess political legitimacy.
And suppose any efforts at reform kept the same elites and their institutions in charge, even after they ransacked the country and caused great harm to millions of ordinary citizens, while the elite held none of themselves accountable, let alone criminally responsible.
What should the citizens of that nation do? And which country am I describing?

“Half A Trillion In Cuts To Medicare”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Watch as GOP Rep. Jim Renacci (OH) is confronted at a local town hall meeting, asked what the heck he thinks he is doing saying he will vote to repeal the health care reform law. Renacci replies that he and fellow Republicans campaigned on reversing the “half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare.” (From Daily Kos.)

Republicans campaigned on protecting seniors from Medicare cuts. No way around it. In the 2010 election campaign Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. They campaigned against Democrats for “cutting $500 billion from Medicare” and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.
Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:

And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)

Conservative Strategists Warn Republicans Against Cutting Social Security
National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, in a New York Times op-ed, How the G.O.P. Can Cut and Survive, warns Republicans not to touch Social Security,

Ronald Reagan suffered a defeat in his first year when he tried cutting Social Security’s early retirement benefits. Newt Gingrich’s 1995 Republican revolution fizzled when President Bill Clinton fought him over Medicare cuts. President George W. Bush’s effort to reform Social Security in 2005 ended any political momentum he brought to his second term.
Would-be reformers should draw two lessons from this history. The first is that reform can’t be sprung on the electorate. Reagan hadn’t campaigned on cutting Social Security in 1980, nor did the Gingrich Republicans promise to reduce the growth of Medicare.

Well, actually they campaigned on restoring $500 billion to Medicare and increasing Social Security, but everyone except the “low-information voters” they targeted understood they meant the opposite…

Keep in mind that most voters oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, so they are likely to be very nervous about any proposals to restrain their growth, especially if opponents portray such cuts as excessive. Even worse, most members of Congress are not well informed about these programs, so they’ll have a hard time soothing public anxieties.

Don’t Cut Social Security, It’s A Trap
Conservative and “centrist” (corporate) calls for President Obama to go after Social Security at the same time they are warning Republicans not to are nothing more than a trap. If the President calls for cutting Social Security you will see ad after ad after ad after ad after ad after ad blasting President Obama and Democrats in general for cutting Social Security and devastating seniors. The voters do not want Social Security cut and any politician who goes against the wishes of the voters will face their wrath. And cutting Social Security will devastate seniors. It is the wrong thing to do. So don’t.
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Why No Right To A Job?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Note: See also Isaiah Poole’s We Need An Unemployed People’s Campaign
Why don’t we all have a right to a job? Who is our country and our economy for? The first three words of our Constitution provide us with a hint: “We, the People.”
There are millions of people out of work and millions of jobs that need doing. The jobs that need doing pay for themselves because they make our economy more competitive, like modernizing our infrastructure and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
Millions Of People Out Of Work
Here is The Chart (from Calculated Risk.)
The following two charts are from this analysis. They are unemployed over 26 weeks and part time for economic reasons (underemployed)
UnemployedOver26WeeksDec2010 PartTimeDec2010
Millions Of Jobs That Need Doing
Since the Reagan-era tax cuts caused us to defer maintaining out infrastructure we have fallen behind much of the world in economic competitiveness. Modernizing ports, roads, rail, airports, Internet, wireless, water, sewer, schools… Retrofitting buildings and homes to be energy efficient would save us from buying so much oil from the Middle East. So would building wind, solar, electric car charging stations, efficient power grids, etc.
Meanwhile our economic competitors, countries like China and Germany and India, have been investing in their people and building modern infrastructure like crazy. Other countries are investing, educating, improving public services because they know these things make the economy explode later, paying dividends for decades.
The Right To A Job
Robert Borosage wrote this week about the 67th anniversary of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights,

How does America dig out of the hole we are in? Surely the focus must be on first principles: how do we recreate an economy that works for working people? With the right talking about a return to the principles of the Constitution, it is worth remembering how Americans thought about first principles coming out of the last great economic calamity.

Among the rights FDR proposed: “The right to a useful and remunerative job…”

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”

“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness, he merely exists.” “All labor has dignity.” “It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.” “… bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots .. we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty.”
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Trolling For Assassins

Everyone should read Trolling for Assassins, about “Becking,” or “stochastic terrorism“:

Think of cigarette smoking. We don’t know who will get cancer from the smoke – even though we can be confident that the death rate goes up the more people smoke. Or think of an advertiser who has no idea which viewers will buy their product — yet spends millions confident that the ad campaign will pay for itself. As Gabby Giffords said so well, words and images have consequences. She had no way of knowing who the shooter would be, or when violence would strike, or that she herself would be among the victims.

From Stochastic Terrorism: Triggering the shooters:

Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.
his is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.
This is also the term for what Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, and others do. And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.
. . . Here’s the mechanism spelled out concisely:
The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.
One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. “given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such”), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).
The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: “Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I’m not responsible for what people in my audience do.”

They Even Filibustered The Public Printer!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The Senate is considering changing the rules for the “filibuster” and this is an opportunity for you to do something that can make a difference. The filibuster has been abused and the Senate is broken. Call your Senators and tell them you want this fixed!
“Abuse” does not adequately describe what has happened with the filibuster and “broken” does not adequately describe what has happened with the U.S. Senate. Two years ago We, the People voted for change, but in the Senate change and everything else was blocked. Everything was filibustered as part of a strategy to demoralize people and undermine democracy. Everything. Important bills, judges, agency heads, ambassadors and all the things that constitute “everything.” And the strategy worked.
They even filibustered the Public Printer!
What is the Public Printer? The Public Printer heads up the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). The GPO manages our country’s public documents. They print but also electronically distribute the Congressional Record, Supreme Court decisions, passports, tax forms, internal government documents, and agency publications. (They don’t print the money.)
Benjamin Franklin served as the Public Printer when we were a colony, though the current office was established by Congress in 1861.
I am unable to locate any stated reason why the nomination of the Public Printer was filibustered, leaving me to assume that this particular filibuster came under the classification of “everything.” Therefore the Public Printer was filibustered.
So now the Senate is considering whether to change their system. They are voting on January 24. They are considering making Senators actually filibuster instead of being able to block things from a nice table at a nice restaurant. This way the public will be aware that this tactic is being used to block things and can respond accordingly.
This is why you should call your Senators – both of them – today, and tell them that you want the Senate to reform the filibuster.
If you do this, some of them will say “Uh oh, they’re on to us.” They depend on the public not understanding what is going on, but if you call they will know that you are hip to their bag of tricks.
Others will say, “Hey, I don’t have to be afraid to change things, they are paying attention!” These Senators will know that they have support and will be nudged toward voting to fix the problem, which will help make it so they can fix the rest of the problems.
Either way, calling WILL do some good. So call. Today. And tell others to call.
This is Annie Hill of the Communication Workers Union, with an overview of Senate Rules Reform:

Warning: If you are not a political junkie you might want to stop reading now and go call your Senators and say you want the filibuster reformed. The following content might be unsuitable for normal audiences.
Ezra Klein, with one of the best blog post titles in a long time, If you read only one John Kerry speech today …,

I’m not going to summarize it here, because I think it’s actually worth taking five minutes to read it in full. But the whole thing is below the fold:

Yes, if you like to read John Kerry speeches you should click through to read the whole thing, but just in case you are the rare individual who does not live to read John Kerry speeches here is “the meat,” (and keep in mind that I, a vegetarian, had to actually read the speech to find “the meat” for you),

John and I considered postponing this speech, which had been planned for some time. But serious times call for serious discussions. And after some reflection, both of us felt that not only should this speech not be postponed, but that, in fact, it was imperative to give it.

Oh, wait, that’s apparently not the interesting part. This is, about 115 paragraphs into the filibuster talk.,

Sometimes, as John Kennedy once said, “party asks too much.” Sometimes, party leaders also ask too much, especially if they exploit the rules of the United States Senate for the sole purpose of denying a President a second term. But that is what we have witnessed the last two years; Republicans nearly unanimous in opposition to almost every proposal by the President and almost every proposal by Democratic colleagues. The extraordinary measure of a filibuster has become an ordinary expedient. Today it’s possible for 41 Senators representing only about one tenth of the American population to bring the Senate to a standstill.
Certainly, I believe the filibuster has its rightful place. I used it to stop drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge because I believed that was in our national interest –and 60 or more Senators should be required to speak up on such an irrevocable decision. But we have reached the point where the filibuster is being invoked by the minority not necessarily because of a difference over policy, but as a political tool to undermine the Presidency.
Consider this: in the entire 19th century, including the struggle against slavery, fewer than two dozen filibusters were mounted. Between 1933 and the coming of World War II, it was attempted only twice. During the Eisenhower administration, twice. During John Kennedy’s presidency, four times– and then eight during Lyndon Johnson’s push for civil rights and voting rights bills. By the time Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, there were about 20 filibusters a year.
But in the 110th Congress of 2007-2008, there were a record 112 cloture votes. And in the 111th Congress, there were 136, one of which even delayed a vote to authorize funding for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps during a time of war. That’s not how the Founders intended the Senate to work– and that’s not how our country can afford the Senate not to work.

If only I could move to DC so I could listen to speeches like this every day instead of just reading them.

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Pension Envy

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Since the 80s many employers have stopped offering health care, pensions and other benefits to their employees. Many are also cutting pay and hours, while increasing the workload. So more and more people are hurting. As more and more of us fall further and further behind, corporate/conservative propagandists use resentment to drive anti-union feelings. They tell people to oppose unions, saying, “Why should they have it so good?” The real question you should ask is, “Why should we have it so bad?”
The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki, in “State of the Unions,” examines why “public support for labor has fallen to historic lows.”

More than seventy per cent of those surveyed in a 1937 Gallup poll said they favored unions.
Seventy-five years later, in the wake of another economic crisis, things couldn’t be more different. … In the recent midterm elections, voters in several states passed initiatives making it harder for unions to organize. Across the country, governors and mayors wrestling with budget shortfalls are blaming public-sector unions for the problems. And in polls public support for labor has fallen to historic lows.
. . . In 2009, for the first time ever, support for unions in the Gallup poll dipped below fifty per cent. A 2010 Pew Research poll offered even worse numbers, with just forty-one per cent of respondents saying they had a favorable view of unions, the lowest level of support in the history of that poll.

Surowiecki suspects that the gap between workers in and out of unions is the reason,

Union workers, on average, get paid more than their non-unionized counterparts—most estimates put the difference at around fifteen per cent—and that wage premium widens during recessions. Similarly, union workers often still have defined-benefit pensions, which sets them apart from all those Americans who watched their retirement accounts get ravaged by the financial crisis. That’s given rise to what Olivia Mitchell, an economics professor at Wharton, calls “pension envy.”
This resentment is most evident in the backlash against public-sector workers (who now make up a majority of union members).

The problem is that working people feel increasingly powerless, and this weakens support for the very institutions that would, in better circumstances, come to their assistance: government and unions. Normally you would think that when people see that workers who are in unions have it better they would reach a simple and obvious conclusion: they should JOIN A UNION! DUH! But circumstances in our economy today lead people to the wrong conclusions.
Today they see people who try to organize unions fired. They see whistleblowers persecuted. They see fellow employees lose their jobs for calling in sick or taking time off to care for a family member. They see people lose jobs for just reaching “a certain age.” Many are even afraid to take vacations using time they have earned. And they don’t see any way to do anything about it. Unions are unable to organize and workers are told facilities will close or their jobs will be moved overseas. Government inadequately enforces its own laws, or blatantly favors the wealthy and powerful. People don’t feel that elections make any difference. So workers don’t see any help on the horizon.
Crabs In A Bucket
Meanwhile many public employees still have unions, so as a result they in many cases have pensions, health care plans and dignity on the job. People look at that and the temptation toward “crab mentality” is strong. The corporate/conservative anti-union propagandists see an opportunity to set working people against each other and strike at support for unions:

Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither should you.” The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition (or sabotage) which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that of a group that will attempt to “pull down” (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of jealousy, conspiracy or competitive feelings.
This term is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It is also often used colloquially in reference to individuals or communities attempting to “escape” a so-called “underprivileged life”, but kept from doing so by others attempting to ride upon their coat-tails or those who simply resent their success.

The other day in Understanding The Attacks On Public Employees,

What do we see if we look around at the state of the economy? Stocks are soaring, corporate profits are way up, Wall Street gets trillions in bailouts and pays millions upon millions in bonuses. But regular people are having a hard time making ends meet and unemployment is still through the roof. Instead of programs to create jobs, stop foreclosures and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure the government passes more tax cuts for the rich. A few Wall Street and big-corporate types are getting very rich (richer) at the expense of the rest of us. If you are sitting pretty on Wall Street, you probably don’t want people thinking about these contrasts too much.
“Look Over There!”
How do you get regular people to “look over there” with all of that going on? Simple: launch a big campaign to blame the librarians, firefighters and other public sector workers for the hard times. “Don’t blame US,” Wall Street says, “Look over there!” Blame the economy’s victims for economic crimes. And, do you know what? This is a strategy that is proven to work every time.

So the corporate/conservatives pit people against each other, hoping to provoke the behavior of crabs in a bucket, instead of reaching the correct conclusion: stand together and join a union and fight for your rights and a share of the pie and you can have it better.

This video directs people to a STOP THE LIES website where you can sign up to add your voice, download a fact sheet and find other resources.
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Lose A Ton!

James Boyce: I’ve Already Lost A Ton This Year:

I am one of those people who should be quite willing and in fact, adept, at calculating my carbon footprint and then offsetting it. After all, CS NMS has clients such as NRDC and the Rainforest Alliance, and the environment is a true passion of mine.
I also am a strong supporter of climate change legislation and everyone chipping in for good causes.
However, I have to confess — I have never offset my carbon emissions; and I haven’t even really come that close to trying if the truth be told. My biggest issue is that frankly it’s just too damm complicated; there are calculators to help you figure it out but you have to enter something in those calculators. They are not self-calculating and it takes a lot of work.
Can. Not. Be. Bothered.
So (drum roll please) when my friends at the Marion Institute launched a $7 Carbon Diet, that gives you the chance to offset just one ton of carbon emissions for just $7, I was happy. This I understand. This makes sense. I get it.

Go read the rest.

Filibuster Reform … But

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
“But.” Everything you read about the filibuster talks about how important the filibuster is, allowing a minority to retain some power over abuse by a majority… and then it says, “But.”
For example, the Camden, NJ Courier Post, editorial today, Alter filibuster rules in Senate, reads,

In a representative democracy, the minority group or party should never be without any power, and the filibuster in the Senate has proved an important tool for both Republicans and Democrats when they’ve been in the minority. It allows the minority party to have a voice in the legislative process, even when the majority party would like to ignore that voice.
But over the last decade, as partisan divisions in Washington have become more entrenched, the filibuster privilege has been overused and abused by both parties. In just the last two congresses, filibusters have been used to block legislation or nominees 275 times. During the eight years when Dwight Eisenhower was president from 1953 to 1961, the Senate had to vote just twice to stop filibusters, according to Senate records.

“But over the last decade…” “overused,” “used to block,” etc… “But.”
Of course the Courier Post threw in the “both sides” equivalence with no evidence. It’s a media rule that you can’t explain what conservatives are doing to the country without finding some way to equivalently blame “the other side.”
The Albany, NY Times Union Fix the Senate, gets to the heart of the problem,

There actually were more filibusters in 2009 alone than in the 1950s and ’60s combined.
A tool designed to guard against the tyranny of the majority has instead led to the tyranny of the minority. It’s time for the Senate to consider allowing fewer than 60 votes to keep a bill under consideration. The rule of the majority, in both spirit and letter, remember, is just 51.
Even if a minority in the Senate is to retain this weapon, it should have to use it in a way that enhances debate, not undermines it.

More filibusters in the one year than the ’50s and ’60s combined…
The Problem: Blocking Everything
In the last two years Republicans pursued a strategy of trying to block everything — every bill, every nominee, every judge — and then campaigning saying that our country’s problems were not being fixed. It worked. They got away with it. And our country’s problems were not solved.
How bad is the problem? Last year one Senator placed a “blanket hold” on all Presidential appointments until he got earmarks for a defense contractor that was giving him tons of “campaign contributions.” Even worse, here is a story about a lobbying firm that arranges filibusters for cash.
Abuse And Consequences
The filibuster is being abused, and the Senate is broken. Important bills are blocked. 420 important bills that had passed the House were not voted on in the Senate. The judges and executive appointees we need are not able to be confirmed. The country’s problems are not being addressed.
This is more than just abuse, the filibuster is abused to the point that it is damaging the country and the world’s understanding of democracy itself. Columnist Thomas Friedman has been warning that the abuse of the filibuster is causing the world to believe that China’s autocratic system is a more effective form of government than our own. In Our One-Party Democracy, Friedman wrote,

The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste.

And in a column titled, Never Heard That Before, he writes about whisperings heard at the Davos conference of world leaders,

This year, Asians and Europeans, in particular, pull you aside and ask you some version of: “Tell me, what’s going on in your country?” We’re making people nervous. . . . “Our two-party political system is broken just when everything needs major repair, not minor repair,” said K.R. Sridhar, the founder of Bloom Energy, a fuel cell company in Silicon Valley, who is attending the forum. “I am talking about health care, infrastructure, education, energy. We are the ones who need a Marshall Plan now.”
Indeed, speaking of phrases I’ve never heard here before, another goes like this: “Is the ‘Beijing Consensus’ replacing the ‘Washington Consensus?’ ”

Please read that whole column to see the damage to our country this obstructionism is bringing in the world’s eyes. It is causing the world to view democracy as an inferior system.
Democracy Thwarted
The filibuster is not just abused now, so is the public’s understanding of it. The public understands what a filibuster is and when it should and should not be used. But they think a filibuster is Senators talking, not sitting in a restaurant and placing an anonymous “hold.”
The problem is that the public does not even know that the filibuster is being used. The public is not getting the information it needs to make decisions, and to apply political pressure where it should be applied. All they hear is that the Senate can’t pass things. How many times have you read that “Senate rules require 60 votes to pass a bill?” This is now the accepted “conventional wisdom” assumption. But, in fact, Senate rules require a simple majority to pass a bill, not 60 votes.
Lat year, in Harry — Roll Out The Cots! Again And Again And Again!, I wrote,

You are not drawing a clear contrast and repeating it. You are not telling a simple story in a clear, understandable way. It is not getting through to the public that the hated filibuster is being used over and over. You need to put on a show that breaks through the haze and informs the public. There is a way to do that: roll out the cots! The public gets that. They associate cots with filibusters. It is theater but the public needs to have the information and without the theater – yes, the circus – of rolling out the cots again and again and again, the public is, in effect, having that information withheld from them.
Ever since the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” the public has believed that a filibuster is about Senators staying up all night, talking. If that is what they believe, then that is what you have to give them. You have a responsibility to democracy to find ways to break through the media filter and help the public to understand what is really going on. You need to roll out the cots, and do it again and again, until the point is made with the public that what is going on is not the normal operation of the Senate, but instead is pure obstruction, used as a strategy to prevent the public from getting what they need, to demoralize them and keep them from voting.
After a while the public will get it. You owe it to them to do this. Roll out the cots.

Fix the filibuster. Fix the Senate. Stop the anonymous holds. Stop the silent filibuster. If they want to block a bill, make them block it, make them talk all night! Roll out the cots!


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Why Conservatives Use Extreme Rhetoric

Conservatives use extreme rhetoric as a strategy. Watch the video. I gave a talk on this in 2007, titled, “We’re All In This Together.”

Those in the conservative movement understand that public appreciation of community and government are the underpinnings of support for these and other target issues. So by first working to erode public support for government and community they can effectively leverage their efforts and erode support for all of their targets at the same time.
The guy in the video clip attacks public education – but he does it as part of a larger attack on what he calls “liberals.” “Liberals” is the shorthand name for their enemy but it is really an attack on community and government. Some of you here may not think of yourselves as “liberals,” but because you value public education this puts you in that enemy category as far as THEY are concerned