TigerSoft Freedom News Service 2/8/2009 www.tigersoft.com
The US Senate - Now A Dangerous Disgrace
The Fillibuster Is A Perfect Symbol
of The Dangerously Antiquated, Anti-democratic US Senate.
America Can Not Afford Either.
Unchanged, The US Constitution Is
Now A Clear and Present Danger To Millions of Unemployed Americans
THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS NOT CREATING ENOUGH JOBS NOW/
HOW LONG SHOULD THE JOBLESS WAIT FOR PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS?
RURAL REPUBLICANS DECRY STIMULUS AS "SOCIALISM"
See also TigerSoft New Service/Blog - 12/11/2008 - Plutocratic US Senate ...
by William Schmidt, Ph.D. - Creator of TigerSoft
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The US Senate - Now A Dangerous Disgrace
by William Schmidt, Ph.D
We should not expect democracy within an inherently
anti-democratic institution. The Senate was always intended
to thwart the will of the majority at the discretion of any coalition
of millionaires from smaller states, representing as few as only 11%
of the US population. So, the fillibuster is a perfect symbol for this
elitist anachronism. The terrible truth now is that fillibusters
and the threat of them are becoming quite common and the
consequences of inaction with a Depression comining down
the line could mean the destruction of millions of innocent families.
The Senate needs to be abolished or turned into a powerless
debating society, such as the House of Lords has become in
Conservatives have long supported the Senate's Fillibuster
rules that effectively permits 41 Senators to block the will of 59 Senators.
Fillibustering involves a small group of Senators talking endlessly and
often irrelevantly in order to stop the legisative process and thwart
majority rule. Just the threat of a fillibuster can give ammunition to
a determined minority to force unwanted changes to the majority's
legislation. 60 votes are needed to stop a fillibuster. Until 1949
"cloture" required only a 2/3 vote by all those present. Aron Burr,
the man who killed Hamilton, was the first fillibuster in the US Senate.
Strom Thurmond set a record in 1957 of talking more than 24 hours
in one stretch in fillibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The number of fillibusters has been increasing sharply.
"In the 1960s, no Senate term had more than seven filibusters. One of the
filibusters of the 1960s, was when southern Democratic Senators attempted
to block the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by making a filibuster that
lasted for 75 hours. In the first decade of the 21st century, no Senate term had
fewer than 49 filibusters. The 1999-2002 Senate terms both had 58 filibusters.
In the fall of 2007, the 110th Congress' 1st session broke the record, for filibuster
cloture votes, topping 70 as of Nov 15, 2007. It is on track to triple the number
of such votes in 2008's 2nd session."  ( Source. )
The Republicans now have just 41 US Senators. As a result,
they can block or threaten to block any legislation they choose,
including Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan. So, even though Obama
should be considered to have won a mandate to pursue his economic
recovery agenda, by virtue of the whopping majority he got in the
popular vote and also the Electoral College vote, the threat of a
Republican minority fillibuster can derail any of his legislation.
Significantly, it may now take a 2/3 vote in the Senate to change
that institution's rules on fillibustering, though some claim that a clever
and motiovated Senate Majority Leader could find ways to override
these rules. See the illuminating comments of David Swanson
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/39624 Swanson argues
that Reid is unwilling to do this because he finds it a convenient way
to avoid taking responsibility. Reid can simply say that the Democrats
were thwarted and people should vote still more Democrats into office.
This rings hollow: even though the 2006 Election's results were a
clear Democratic mandate to end the Iraq War and impeach Bush, the
Democratic leadership in Congress rejected the mandate and again
claimed that only if more Democrats were elected could the War
be ended. Even with many more Congressmen in 2009, they still
claim that they do not have enough members to do what they told
the American people they would do if elected.
Senate Majority Leader Reid is not forcing the Republicans
to actually fillibuster against the Stimulus Package. Instead, he is
immediately making concessions to win over three Republican Senators'
votes. Progressives think he should call their bluff on this. Reid's caution
or timidity plays perfectly into the hands of the minority obstructionists.
Historically, fillibusters have always served well the retrograde
causes of Slavery, Southern Opposition to Civil Rights and those
who would fight against reforms of campaign contributions. There
is no reason, however, that a determined Democratic minority
could not threaten to use a Fillibuster, for example, to prevent a Republican
effort to change the US bankruptcy law so that a debtor would
forever owe a credit card company money, rather than as is true
now, have a bankruptcy cease all such debt.
( See Demand a Senate Filibuster of the Bankruptcy Slavery Bill ... )
The Senate Should Be Abolished.
In England, the enirely undemocratic House of Lords used to
have powers comparable to the popularly elected House of
Commons. But these have been taken away over the years and
the House of Lords is mostly a ceremonial bow to England's
aristocratic past. In contrast, America is bound by a rigid
Constitution that was created mostly by very rich white men.
Many of the "founding fathers" were slave owners. Most were
fearful of the urban masses, as a result of the French Revolution.
On the way to ratification of the US Constitution, the Senate
was also seen as a way to entice more rural Southern states
into the Union. When South Carolina rebelled and the other
southern States joined its succession, these states breached
their contract and the US Senate should have been abolished.
It was not abolished because Big Money also saw the Senate as a
way to protect and extend their advantages. Thowing big campaign
contributions into smaller state elections could ensure the
Senate would be made up of enough representatives of Capital
to block most restrictions on their quest for more and more wealth
and power. The threat of a minority-fillibuster in the Senate fit
perfectly into the hands of those that did not want a real Democracy.
We all know that the US Senate is undemocratically constituted
because of the Constitution's archaic 2 Senators per state provision,
no matter the size of the population. But I doubt if the American people
realize how ridiculously unfair the Senate is. California has 12% of
the country's population. So do the 21 least populated states,
taken together. California has 2 Senators. The 21 least populated
states have 42.
What's worse is that in theory, 40 Senators from the 20 least
populated states, with only 10.8% of the US population could all band
together and block any legislation or appoinments they wish.
The least populated states are:
Population Percent of US Population.
1 Wyoming 532,668 0.17%
2 Vermont 621,270 0.20%
3 No. Dakota 641,481 0.21%
4 Alaska 683,478 0.22%
5 So. Dakota 804,194 0.26%
6 Delaware 873,092 0.28%
7 Montana 967,440 0.31%
8 Rhode Island 1,050,788 0.35%
9 Hawaii 1,288,198 0.42%
10 New Hampshire 1,315,809 0.43%
11 MAINE 1,316,456 0.43%
12 IDAHO 1,523,816 0.49%
13 NEBRASKA 1,783,432 0.58%
14 WEST VIRGINIA 1,814,468 0.59%
15 NEW MEXICO 1,984,356 0.64%
16 NEVADA 2,600,167 0.84%
17 UTAH 2,736,424 0.87%
18 KANSAS 2,802,134 0.91%
19 ARKANSAS 2,855,390 0.93%
20 MISSISSIPPI 2,938,618 0.95%
21- Iowa 3,002,555 0.98%
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population )
The Senate Is A Menace
The Senate is grotesquely undemocratic and no one in the media or
government challnges it. The Constitution is considered sacrosanct.
Why? The owners of the mass media do not want a truly democratic
government! It is this, as much as anything, which explains why
the US has no national health care, why 1% of the population
now own 50% of the country's wealth and why we are threatened
with a terrible, but avoidable, Depression.
Minority obstructionism can ruin a country. Historians
study the case of Poland in the 17th and 18th century. A
loose federation of regions and cities from Poland and Lithuania
were represented in a leglislative body called a "diet" or the Sejm.
This body had an extreme version of a fillibuster called "liberum
veto". Any Polish city could invoke this rule when it did not like
a piece of legislation and thereby annul not only the particular
law, but the enitire legislative session. Not surprisingly, foreign
powers, like Prussia and Russia, saw it to their advantage to
meddle in the affairs of some of the cities, like Krakow. The result
was that Poland was unable to develop an army to defend itself
and was partitioned by Prussia and Russia, thereby destroying
Poland for more than a century.
How To Make A Stimulus Fail
Minority obstructionism is a serious threat to American economic
health. Economists say that America needs a huge and immediate
fiscal stimulus to prevent a Depression and to start creating jobs
that the private sector can no longer. Many feel that Stripping away
too much money from the Stimulus will guarantee we fall into a Depression.
See the warnings of Robert Reich and Nouriel Roubini. Paul
Krugman write in today's NY Times.
"Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending much of it among
the most effective and most needed parts of the (Stimulus) plan. In particular, aid to state governments,
which are in desperate straits, is both fast because it prevents spending cuts rather than
having to start up new projects and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and
local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high.
But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out".
( http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/07/what-the-centrists-have-wrought/ )