May 23, 2005

The Deal: Cry "Wolf" But Let the Beast In. Extraordinary Indeed!

"Trust, mutual respect, extraordinary circumstances, working together, saved the Senate," and all the rest of bullcrap we've heard from both sides on Monday night when the U.S. Senate reached a compromise on the filibuster. Of course, no one has bothered to define those "extraordinary circumstances," and Frist was quick to say that he hadn't given up his "right" to go ballistic and bring back the "nuclear option." What were those people thinking? Were they pleasuring each other in their chambers? The president and the Republican-controlled Congress have been in a free fall in the approval ratings. Was this a way to stop the bleeding? Or, was it a case of wool-over-the-eyes?
As it is today, the Republicans are getting those extreme judges, Owen and Brown, and a few other ultra-conservatives through the Senate. Weren't these people way out of the mainstream? Of course they were! By giving in, the Dems now have set a benchmark of what's acceptable; this is a big mistake. Maybe they wanted to reserve the big fight for the Supreme Court. Yet, the Dems lost some respect if they said that Owen and Brown were not qualified to be on the federal bench but the Dems let them in anyway. Well, aren't the Dems in the Senate supposedly safeguarding not only the rights of the minority but also the interests of the country? Why is it OK now to allow those extremists to serve life-time appointments on federal courts? It sounds very wishy-washy to me.

Secondly, I don't think president Bush will hesitate to nominate someone, even the most extreme judge, to fill the anticipated Supreme Court vacancy this year. Dubya is an advocate of "in your face politics!" When the last Congress rebuffed Owen and Brown, he promptly re-nominated them this year! The only qualification Bush cares for is how good the nominee is in promoting the neo-con, far-right agenda. This is a president who rewards people that have failed miserably! Just think of Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Franks, Bremer, Wolfowitz, Bolton, name a few.
The Dems made a mistake in accepting the compromise. If nothing else, there is no guarantee that the other side will be reasonable in the future. The Republican leadership is far to the right, not interested in compromising, not interested in checks & balances, not interested in a general consensus. It wants to implement an extreme agenda as dictated by the theocrats and their buddies of the fat corporations. It wants to built a totalitarian society according to their apocalyptic, rapturist views. They are not interested in "working together" as they have no respect for anyone who disagrees with them. Haven't the Dems realized this? Delay and Frist, the two leaders of the majority in Congress, have been usurping power, changing the rules at will, silencing dissent, and having their ..flock vote on bills without even reading them! It was only last week, when a serious bill, the so-called Real ID Act, that was attached to a spending bill and was passed without any debate. A Big Brother bill with serious implications on privacy and security and wasn't even discussed in the people's House! Need to say more?
The Dems cried "wolf" in the cases of Owen and Brown. They correctly identified the beasts, but they let them in anyway. That's twice already. Are the Dems going to be believed the next time?


Anonymous said...

I have to say that this is a very good argument, as yet the minority view among the progressive blogs and other Dems who think that was a good deal. I have my doubts, and you expressed them here.

On KOs and elsewhere people suggested that the Dems can point out the extreme judges (like Brown and Owen) that the Republicans nominated/appointed, but this is BS in my opinion. Besides, if we let the federal courts become so far right wing, we won't be able to restore common sense in this country for many decades to come.

Anne, NY

Andros said...

I wanted to add this statement by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) as taken from his website:

Statement of Senator Russ Feingold on Tonight's Decision Regarding Judicial Nominees and the Filibuster

May 23, 2005

This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions. I value the many traditions of the Senate, including the tradition of bipartisanship to forge consensus. I do not, however, value threatening to disregard an important Senate tradition, like occasional unlimited debate, when necessary. I respect all my colleagues very much who thought to end this playground squabble over judges, but I am disappointed in this deal.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain the great disatisfaction, if not hostility, coming from the activists on the right who feel betrayed by their Republican leadership?
The conservatives wanted to end the filibuster and push their judicial nominees through and thus shape the federal courts. Allowing the Democrats to keep the fillibuster is seen as a capitulation, a defeat.
The right-wing blogs are furious today.

John K. Lund

Anonymous said...

We can't equate those who want greater liberty and personal freedom with those who don't agree that there could be different paths to truth, life, reason, etc.
I mean, the far right doesn't recognize our right to lead our life according to our own choices.
Likewise, the Republican leadership wants to impose their own extreme agenda. They don't care for minority rights and that the system needs checks & balances as long as they are in charge!

An independent Judiciary, a free press, and the filibuster... are needed to check authoritarian government.

So it happends all three are under vicious attack by the Bush White House, the neo-cons, and the far right Republicans in Congress.


Anonymous said...

Priscilla Owen's nomination was advanced to the full senate today by a vote of 81-18 to end the debate (filibuster). In other words, she'll be confirmed by the 55 Republicans in the senate.
Owen was so extreme that even Al Gonzales who sat with her on the Texas court had said how she stood out (in a very conservative court)....

Who's saying the deal was good for the Dems and the country? Please, it was to save face and show the American people that those bozos are doing something.... Shameful.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd like to know those good 18 Dems who didn't go along and voted not to allow Owen to go through... they lost, but they were right not to take that crappy deal.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the Reps had the votes to end the filibuster so Reid got the best deal available to the Dems.

Anonymous said...

I think the progressive blogs and the other activists should not give in. I don't know if the so-called centrists, like the Democratic Leadership Council, but we have to show resolve on issues of principle.
This wasn't a good deal
I don't understand how anyone can tell us with a straight face that at least 3 extremists will be sitting on federal courts the next 30-40 years but the Dems preserved their right to filibuster!!!!
What are those "extra-ordinary circumstances" that they'll use it? If not now when?
For the Supreme Court nominee? Who says that Bush will nominate a mainstream judge? Nobody!
And, even if the Dems succeed in blocking an extremist from getting to the SC (very, very doubtful now), the very important appelate, circuit courts review public policy, constitutional issues, and many, many more cases than the limited number the Supremes deal with.

Anderson, NY

Anonymous said...

There is a hearing by the House Democrats on the media. Interesting to hear the views. The basic tenet is that the US media has failed to hold high journalistic standards and to properly inform the public of the important issues.
Misinformed citizens are easier to manipulate.
Franken mentioned the PIPA study (Univ. of MD) that showed 70-75 of Bush voters believed non-facts about Iraq-911... a total misconception of reality.
Studies have shown that the majority (though slim) of Bush voters would not have agreed to go to war in Iraq had they known the truth!

The Republicans' agenda is not mainstream now and in order to push it they want the public to be deceived, misinformed and, of course, easily manipulated.

Graig, CA

Andros said...

These are the 18 (17 Dems, 1 Ind) senators that voted not to end the debate on Owen, Brown, and Pryor. In other words, they didn't sign on to the deal!

Biden (D-DE)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Feingold (D-WI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Stabenow (D-MI)

*Inouye (D-HI) didn't vote.

They stood their ground not to allow the 3 most extremists judges to be confirmed. I applaud them even in defeat.

Andros said...

Here is the signed agreement:

(you need Adobe reader to open PDFs; the program is useful to have and it's free @

Anonymous said...

Randi Rhodes is arguing today that the Dems were 1 vote short so the filibuster would have been taken away if they hadn't made a deal.
Barbara Boxer also says that Owen will not necessary be confirmed, and that some moderate Republicans may not vote for her. We'll see.
I doubt that's the case.
I agree with you that this was a bad deal.

Andros said...

Yeah, I've heard that. I hope I'm wrong and that Pryor, Owen, and Brown are not confirmed, but I'm willing to bet that they will and are going to have a very long tenure on the federal bench. I don't think most people really understand the significance of a judiciary dominated by the extreme right.....

As to the Dems not having 51 votes to maintain the filibuster, it may be true. But, then they should have made it clear that they were willing to bring business in the US Senate to a grind. I suppose they thought that they couldn't explain themselves well enough to the voters and that they'd lose in 2006.

When Delay got reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee, Speaker Hastert removed the Rep. chair, and even changed the ethics rules to protect the disgraced Delay. However, when the Dems refused to take part in any of the committee's activities, the Repubs agreed to change back the ethics rules!

This is a very perilous times for our democracy, civil rights, progress.... The stakes are extremely high. We are indeed fighting for the future of our country in the 21st century. Yes, we'll have a future but if we let the theologs and powerlogs have their way, we'll find ourselves back in the Dark Ages! Going back to the future is not a good thing.

Anonymous said...

If Frist goes nuclear, I want to see whether those 7 Republicans will jump ship and defeat Frist! Personally, I don't trust them, but it would be interesting to see how this plays out.
Frist needs 50 (plus the Dick, er, the VP Cheney) to change the senate rules.

Andros said...

As expected, the ultra-conservative, "unconsciously activist" judge (according to her former colleague Al. Gonzales!) Priscilla Owen was confirmed today by a vote 56-43, mostly along party lines. Dems Landrieu (LA) and Byrd (WV) voted for her, while Repub. Chaffee (RI) and Jeffords (I-VT) voted against her. Inoye (D-HI) didn't vote.