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by brasch

Pink Sneaks Cushion a Will for Women’s Rights

9:40 am in Uncategorized by brasch

 

by Walter and Rosemary Brasch

The filibuster is at the core of the U.S. senate.

It’s also why nothing of much significance has been done the past decade.

Under Senate rules, senators can filibuster any legislation. They can just stand up and start talking. They can talk about anything they wish. They can read from telephone books, or even take bathroom breaks. They can also yield the floor to like-minded senators.

Even a threat of a filibuster—it doesn’t have to be carried out—is enough to stop legislation.

Senate rules require that 60 percent of the senate must vote to stop a filibuster. Knowing this, the Republicans, a minority party in the Senate, have consistently blocked legislation just by threatening to filibuster anything they didn’t agree with—not even allowing it to come to the floor for discussion.

Almost 70 percent of all filibuster threats occurred since 2000.

Now, let’s travel to Texas. That state has the most restrictive rules on filibusters in the nation. A senator who filibusters legislation must be the only one. She or he must stay on topic and not take any bathroom breaks.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat and a 50-year-old Harvard graduate lawyer, put on a pair of comfortable pink sneakers this week, and talked for more than 11 hours to block an oppressive Republican-sponsored bill to kill almost all of the state’s medical abortion clinics and impose their governmental will upon all women.

She succeeded—somewhat. The Republicans said she deviated from the topic twice—once when she talked about Planned Parenthood budgeting, once when she discussed sonograms. Once she took a brief break while a fellow senator adjusted her back brace. Three strikes, and the Republicans called her out.

But, there was so much confusion and shouting in the chambers that it wasn’t until after midnight, when the special session ended, that the Senate voted on the bill and passed it. Even then it wasn’t a problem. The Republican majority just made believe the vote occurred before midnight, and had the vote computer-coded as if it occurred before midnight. With several hundred thousand outraged Texas citizens shouting their disapproval, three hours later the lieutenant governor, presiding over the Senate, turned tail, admitted the vote occurred after the deadline, and aborted it.

Enter Rick Perry, the super conservative showboating Texas governor who couldn’t even make it into the semi-finals of the Presidential race. He announced he would call yet another special session. The first one, created to sneak through the legislation, had failed. He was gambling that Sen. Davis would not have the endurance to filibuster the bill a second time.

And then Gov. Perry threw in some personal attacks at Sen. Davis, the courageous woman who tried to block the government’s intrusion into women’s lives. First, he attacked Sen. Davis for having been a teenage mother. And then he attacked her for her filibuster, which he said was “nothing more than hijacking the democratic process.” He later claimed that those who believed in a woman’s right to choose “will resort to mob tactics to force their minority agenda on the people of Texas.”

Here’s some truth for the reality-impaired governor. You and your party can’t have it both ways. If a filibuster hijacks democracy, as you claim, then demand a change in the rules in the U.S. Senate.  Demand the U.S. senate tighten restrictions on filibusters so that a simple majority of 51, not a super-majority of 60, can stop a filibuster that blocks the will of the majority to get meaningful legislation passed.

Dr. Walter Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, a look at the health, environmental, economic, and political issues. Rosemary R. Brasch is a retired secretary, labor activist and college instructor.

by brasch

Truckin’ to Treason: The Hot Air of Secession

10:20 am in Uncategorized by brasch

by WALTER BRASCH

Reynolds - Gettysburg

General John Reynolds monument at Gettysburg

A white Ford F-250 pick-up rumbled through town, a Confederate rebel flag on a pole behind the cab; on the rear bumper were a pro-life and three Anti-Obama stickers, two of which could not be revealed in a family newspaper.

It wasn’t a lone wolf protest; several cars, trucks, and homes in the area sport similar flags and messages. During the summer, when a 4-wheel Jamboree and a Monster Truck rally are held at the local fairgrounds, attracting thousands from a multi-state area, many trucks fly rebel flags, insignia, and political statements. During the annual eight-day fair at the end of September, vendors sell all kinds of items with the Confederate battle flag, most of them made overseas.

The rebels say they are fierce independents. But, being a “rebel” doesn’t mean you can complain about paying taxes, while also denying climate change and evolution. Nevertheless, those flying rebel flags, although they may be disenchanted and alienated from the mainstream, are still part of traditional mainstream America.

They may claim they oppose “Government” (also known as “gummint”) intruding upon their lives, but think it’s perfectly acceptable for government to make rules about the people’s sexual practices and to invade women’s bodies.

They also believe government has the duty to create laws to require national identification for every citizen and establish restrictive measures that weaken the rights of all people to vote, especially those who aren’t White establishment Republicans. When the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons that were questionable at best, chest-thumping jingoistic “rebels” were the strongest supporters of military action. But, they remained largely silent when liberals and social activists spoke out about soldiers not being given adequate body armor, and military hospitals not giving the wounded adequate treatment. They have also remained largely silent about the one-fourth of America’s homeless who were combat veterans.

These pretend-rebels gave standing ovations to the PATRIOT Act that established numerous ways the government could violate citizen rights granted by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments. When the federal courts ruled parts of the Act to be unconstitutional, the “patriotic rebels” complained about activist judges.

They listen to conservative talk radio and Fox News, all of which bash the mainstream media, but don’t recognize that the very sources they turn to for information are also mainstream media, owned by establishment multi-millionaires.

They willingly agree with Mitt Romney, even in defeat, that 47 percent of Americans are takers who “want stuff,” but don’t recognize that one of the biggest takers who wanted more “stuff” was Romney himself, who ran a venture capital company that existed to take over other companies. Even fellow Republicans during the primaries called Romney not a venture capitalist but a vulture capitalist.
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