Attack on filibusters latest outrage from conservatives

    While I normally spend hundreds of words telling stories and giving examples to prove exactly how undemocratic, socially regressive and mean-spirited the political objectives of the so-called “conservative movement” are, this time all I need to do is tell you what they call the latest shenanigan-cum-stab-at-democratic-freedom:

    The Nuclear Option.

    (It’s the kind of sick euphemism that comes out when a “democratic” country is really run by an oligarchy of corrupt interests through a sinister party that also — as if this didn’t suck enough already — tips its hat to some of the most sickeningly arrogant and comically juvenile Christians the sadly undereducated Bible Belt could belch out.)

    Republican senators’ heads are buzzing so fast from the rush of absolute power that, in the push to confirm seven hardcore conservative judges to the federal bench, they’re prepared to change a major legislative right — that of a sizeable minority to indefinitely put off a vote. It’s called a filibuster, and it’s what happens when 40 of the Senate’s 100 members are damn sure something really bad is going to happen.

    The Republicans want to change Senate rules so that 51 votes, not 60, are needed to bring a judge’s nomination to vote. With this accomplished, the minority party — Republican or Democratic— would have no way to stop the appointment of judges to either the Supreme Court or the federal bench if the majority had 51 votes.

    And with their majority on the Senate Rules Committee, this insanity is entirely up to the Good Ol’ Boys to commit at their leisure.

    Why, exactly, is this a terrible idea? While it would grant the heartbreaking conservative agenda even more high-powered allies than it already has, the most disturbing aspect of this proposition is what it says about the rights of political minorities in the eyes of the ruling party — namely, that they don’t get any.

    (Which is a pretty ridiculous attitude, considering that this is the first time since 1954 that the Republicans have had so much power. For most of recent political history, they were the minority — and boy, did they bitch about it.)

    Wait … I’m still balking at what a downright attack on the principles of the Constitution this is. Isn’t this the conservative party? That supposedly values the document that gave special safeguards to protect the rights of the minority? Didn’t they read “Federalist #10”?

    Well apparently some of them did, because the conservative bloc is crumbling — or at least stumbling. The polls show the public doesn’t like the idea of punching through any traditional walls by the party-of-the-moment in an effort to please the hardcore fundies who want Roe v. Wade overturned and GI Jesus on the $20 bill.

    I may regret this (I know my e-mail inbox will), but I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction: The pendulum has swung about as far to the right as it can — and it’s swung pretty damn far since just a few years ago. The conservative movement, as strong as it appears to be, rides on the cooperation of two interests that are going to get greedier and less congenial as their respective bellies fill up. It’s the ultra-Christians that want madman Bill Frist to use the nuke; at the same time, some business interests are worried that if the bomb gets dropped, and Senate Democrats respond the way they threaten to — by halting any progress in the Senate — their interests won’t be met. Can fighting over who’s first in the candy line derail the seemingly awesome power of the conservative bloc?

    Well, with the Los Angeles Times editorializing about how limp post-Social Security failure Bush is looking these days, it just might. The country has leaped so far to the right that to make any more progress, the grumpy, gray-haired troglodytes on Capitol Hill will have to do permanent damage that even their massive, shiny propaganda machines can’t gloss over.

    They’re trying, with multimillion-dollar ad campaigns aimed at nervous, on-the-fence senators. They’ve telecasted to churches all around the country a kindly Biblo-Ad assuring you that it’s your duty as a good Christian to harangue those evil Democrats into letting them vote on the issue.

    But America isn’t going to let a change of rules happen, and I think it’s quickly getting sick of the Republicans’ self-centered show. Rather than further cementing their grasp on the future, Republicans are going to find that playing with nukes — pushing the country farther toward an oligarchy — is a dangerous game. If the bomb drops, it won’t just be Senate Democrats (or friends of democracy) that feel the burn.

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