Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Death of the Republic

This past week, the Progressive Democrats in the Senate, in an unprecedented, nakedly partisan power grab, voted to upend more than 220 years of tradition, change the rules and effectively end the right of dissent for the minority party in the Senate by eliminating the filibuster for Executive appointments.  Using procedural motion, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led his majority to vote to allow debate to be cut off with a bare majority vote, instead of the 60 vote threshold the rules usually require when confirming Presidential appointees.  With that vote, they have set the stage for the end of the Republic, in favor of a Democracy.

As is typical, the Progressives/Statists shrug off as irrelevant the blatant hypocrisy of their actions.  It was just a few years ago, during the term of George W. Bush that they were all up in arms over the possibility that the Republican might do what they just did (here's the difference, the Republicans never even proposed to vote on, much less pass, such a rules change). 

Sen. Reid: The filibuster encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail. It also separates us from the House of Representatives -- where the majority rules.  And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government...Separation of Powers...Checks and Balances. 

Mr. President, the filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check.  This central fact has been acknowledged and even praised by Senators from both parties.

Mr. President, the right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls the Congress and the White House.  In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.

Right now, the only check on President Bush is the Democrats ability to voice their concern in the Senate.

If Republicans rollback our rights in this Chamber, there will be no check on their power. The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees...the President's nominees in general...and legislation like Social Security privatization.

And that is why the White House has been aggressively lobbying Senate Republicans to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches -- the Congress and the Judiciary.

Unfortunately, this is part of a disturbing pattern of behavior by this White House and Republicans in Washington.

Then-Senator Obama: Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to think about the implications of what has been called the nuclear option and what effect that might have on this Chamber and on this country... I urge all of us to think not just about winning every debate but about protecting free and democratic debate.

If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who asked us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That doesn't serve anyone's best interests, and it certainly isn't what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.

I recognize that the filibuster can be used for unfortunate purposes. However, I am also aware that the Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority -- and that protection, with some changes, has been in place for over 200 years.

Then-Senator Joe Biden: We should make no mistake. This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party, propelled by its extreme right and designed to change the reading of the Constitution, particularly as it relates to individual rights and property rights. It is nothing more or nothing less.

The nuclear option abandons America's sense of fair play ... tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won't own it forever. I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." [emphasis added]

Apparently, all that has changed with the change in occupancy of the White House.,

Like spoiled children and other incompetents, when they can't win the game playing by the rules, their answer is always to change the rules so they can win.  Preferably unopposed.

As justification for this naked partisan power grab, Sen. Reid and Pres. Obama claimed it was necessary to combat "obstructionist" tactics from the Republicans.  Apparently, when they were busily holding up Bush's nominees they weren't being obstructionist, they were just being good stewards of the people who elected them to office.  Here are the facts:  according to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days from nomination to confirmation for first-term circuit court nominees (including the D.C. Circuit at the heart of the Nuclear option), was 277 days for George W. Bush. For Obama it has been 240 days. Republicans have confirmed 215 of Obama's court appointments. They rejected two

Mr. Reid also bemoaned the lack of business being done by the Congress, saying that "the American people deserve more".  If Harry Reid wants to find obstructionism, he need look no further than his lectern, where bi-partisan passed House bills have gone to die for the last 5 and a half years.

What this means for us regular folks is this: there is now de-facto one party rule in Washington.  There is absolutely nothing the Republicans can do to slow down Obama's great march forward into Socialism/Marxism/Communism/Collectivism.  Nothing.  Obama now has a free hand to nominate whomever he will for the District and Appellate Courts, as well as Cabinet appointments and Department heads.  Even the most extreme nominees will get a pass, unless they are even too far outside the mainstream for your run-of-the-mill liberal (don't count on it).

When it comes to anything meaningful, the opposition may as well call in sick.

Does Obama want to nominate a Socialist union organizer to the NLRB?  No problem.

Does Obama want to nominate someone who thinks businesses are evil and that all coal & nuclear power plants should be shut down in favor of "green energy" to head the EPA?  Done.

Does Obama want to nominate out-spoken collectivists who believe that the Constitution should be discarded in favor of a "more modern document that reflects the realities of today".  Nothing to stop him.

He is now free to pack the courts and the bureaucracy to an extent that FDR could only dream of.  Keep in mind that once these appointments are made, they can't be unmade.  I know of no way, short of impeachment, to remove  a sitting judge from the Federal court.  As for the bureaucracy, yeah, a different President could, I suppose, replace the head of the EPA, the DOJ, etc. and every President is entitled to name his own Cabinet, but what about the mid-level bureaucrats that will be installed throughout all levels of government by those who get appointed in the interim?  Very little of what happens in the regulatory arena originates from the top.  The EPA has many "environmentalists" in it's ranks working below the surface.  Even if the President nominates and installs a head of the EPA who has a reasonable opinion of businesses and businessmen, his/her underlings are the ones who make sure directives are followed (or not).  There are many things that originate from the top that never see the light of day because of opposition by the liberal rank and file.

The impact on the court system is even more troubling.  If Obama is able to appoint even a handful of Progressive, "social-justice" judges to lifetime appointments, we'll never get back to a court system based on an equally and impartially applied set of objective laws.  Everything will be eventually decided with a lean towards what's deemed "fair".  Legal matters concerning monetary awards will no longer be decided according to the letter of the law or contract and the individual merits of the claimants.  Judges will feel empowered to decided based on their individual notion(s) of "social-" and "economic justice".

For now, nominees to the Supreme Court are untouched by the change in filibuster rules.  Look for that to change, should Ginsburg or one of the other liberal justices signal their readiness to retire.  Also, legislative filibusters still require 60 votes to bring and end to debate.  Given the long list of legislative complaints listed by both Pres. Obama and Sen. Reid, look for that to change, should they face opposition to some favorite piece of liberal claptrap legislation designed to extend federal control over our lives even further.

What's perhaps most troubling is the lack of real outrage from the Republican leadership.  Both Sen. McConnell and Speaker Boehner have been more than a little tepid in their remarks so far.  Perhaps they both see eventual advantage for themselves in what the Democrats have done?  I have actually heard so-called conservative Republican pundits opining that this could actually be to their advantage, that it could make it easier for them to repeal Obamacare and to pursue their agenda when (if) they gain control of the Senate in the next election.

Let me get this straight.  This could actually be a good thing for the country because, when the Republicans get in power they can break the rules even worse???  Aside from the fact that there is little, if any difference between a Progressive Democrat and a Progressive Republican, we are supposed to be "a nation of laws, not of men".  If rules and customs that have near the sanctity of law after having stood since the establishment of the institution of Congress can be waived at whim by a simple majority of 50%+1, there is no rule of law.  There is no protection for the minority against the tyranny of the majority.  There is nothing to stop the 50.1% from voting to take anything they want from the 49.9%.  That's what "Democracy" is.  Limitless power for the majority.  Mob rule backed by the power of government.

We have one last chance to pull the ashes of America out of the Progressive inferno:  Republicans must get mobilized for the 2014 mid-term elections.  Obama and the Progressive Dems (as well as some Progressive Republicans) will have nearly 12 months to impose their will on the rest of us, but we can limit the damage by taking back control of the Senate and keeping control of the House of Representatives.  Regardless of what you may think of "RINO's", this may very well be a time to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.  Should the Democrats hold the Senate, or worse, should they both hold the Senate and gain seats in the House due to conservatives sitting out, America as founded will cease to exist.  It's entirely possible that the Senate will never be the same as it once was.  If it is to have any chance of being restored to it's rightful place in the balance of power, the first action taken by the Republicans upon gaining control of the Senate should not be to immediately push for their agenda, to "get some of their own back", but to immediately vote to  restore the super-majority threshold for Presidential nominees.  If they are the statesmen they pretend, if they have the honor and integrity we should demand of all of our representatives, they will do this.  If they don't, they will have shown that what many have thought for years is true; that there is no difference between the Republican and Democrat parties, we are all just grist for their power mills.

So goes the Republic.  It was a nice dream while it lasted.


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