Glowing Anthem


Glowing Anthem


Rehash:
In the last article, ‘As Close Comfort’ I wrote about how the financial insurance giant AIG received $180 billion dollars of taxpayer money to cover their outstanding claims and keep the company solvent. I also elaborated a bit on how the American financial world felt they were exempt to feeling any of the financial pressures brought on by the financial crisis and resulting recession that has caused so much angst for the average American in opportunity, jobs, mortgages and a decent standard of living. America’s financial world truly feels they should be immune to the crisis’ repercussions knowing full well the hole they put not only this nation, but the global world in due to unnecessary economic calamity as a result of pure capitalistic greed.

I surmise the motto of the financial sector is…‘We provide the mess, you clean it up but with one stipulation…bring your own brooms, for we provide none.’ To provide some substance to this silly phrase, during the first half of January this new year, American International Group, better known by their initials, AIG was seriously considering suing the federal government.

To bring my points home to a conclusion on the ethics and mindset of the financial market, if you may recall, AIG was intentionally issuing guarantees against losses on highly rated securities tied directly to subprime mortgages. When those securities finally plummeted (as every financial official knew eventually they would but in the meantime were too ensconced in enjoying the outrageous money flow it was incurring), the losses in AIGs financial products division brought the firm to their bended knees toward bankruptcy.

Being ‘too big to fail’ they actually felt the government owed them since no private entity would bail or lend them any money. The day after Lehman Brothers went belly-up, on September 8, 2008 AIG executives went to the government expecting all their needs to be met. They asked for a hundreds of billions of dollars loan with a very low interest rate and then be left alone to go back to their bidding.

What they got was an initial $85 billion dollar loan with the Libor rate (the short term bank lending rate ~.75%) plus an additional 8.5%. The $85 billion was a bit later increased to a total of $180 billion. The executives weren’t too enthused over the additional 8.5% interest rate, but what really chafed them was the Fed taking over 79.9% of AIGs stock that eventually became a 92% government share. This was enacted to ensure tighter regulation of the taxpayers’ bailout money and adherence to more stable policies.

So last month at board and executive meetings, AIG was seriously considering suing the federal government in that they did not receive enough in monetary funds in the bailout resulting in high losses to shareholders on the bailout transactions.

Now please let this sink in, they actually referred to this suit as a matter of patriotism with the ridiculous argument the bailout violated the Fifth Amendment prohibiting the U.S. government to take over a private entity without compensation. In my opinion, the compensation is that they’re still here aren’t they, thanks duly to the taxpayer.   

The originator of the lawsuit is Starr International which its current CEO is Maurice (Hank) Greenberg, a former AIG CEO who stepped down from the firm in 2005 amid executive scandal. They are suing for $25 billion dollars in disagreement over the government’s handling of the financial bailout and Greenberg felt AIG should join in the suit for renegotiating the bailout terms.

After public disclosure was followed by public outrage, AIG dropped any more considerations in joining the suit. However, AIGs storyline saga continues. In considering suing side-by-side with their former executive, then reconsidering not to, AIG is now re-reconsidering in suing on their own behalf. They have filed a lawsuit against a Federal Reserve financial vehicle that held in escrow some of the firms troubled mortgage bonds. They are disputing as owner’s rights to sue over losses it incurred over selling billions of dollars in troubled mortgage bonds to the New York Fed. AIG is not suing the government per say, but Bank of America (BoA), who first issued the bonds. The Fed says no, we now own the bonds and have the right to pursue retribution from BoA. The AIG suit is calling for $7 billion in damages.

In reference to AIG, in a March 2009 ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke had this to say. “Of all the events and all of the things we’ve done in the last eighteen months, the single one that makes me the angriest, that gives me the most angst, is the intervention with AIG. Here was a company that made all kinds of unconscionable bets. Then, when those bets went wrong, we had a situation where the failure of that company would have brought down the financial system. . . . . It makes me angry. I slammed the phone more than a few times on discussing AIG. It’s– it’s just absolutely– I understand why the American people are angry. It’s absolutely unfair that taxpayer dollars are going to prop up a company that made these terrible bets–that was operating out of the sight of regulators, but which we have no choice but to stabilize, or else risk enormous impact, not just in the financial system, but on the whole U.S. economy.”

As good ol’ Abe Lincoln once said on a cold winter Illinois’ day in January 1837, “These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people.”
  
Closing of an Era:
Apologies gun enthusiasts, advocates and the Ted Nugent fanatics, but gun laws are going to change this time around…after Newtown, something has to be done. So holler and rant all ya want in rehashing the same old stories after an assault weapon slaughter in whining about 2nd amendment rights, self-protection, conspiracies of a government takeover and more guns keep the peace. There will be change, maybe only somewhat, but it is looming down upon us as a nation that supposedly values human life.

As the debate over gun control rages on, just under a two month period since the Newtown massacre, 1,285 Americans and counting have died from gunshot wounds. This has to be halted.

Assault weapons with high capacity magazine clips that are manufactured solely for inflicting multiple wounds upon an human target, are intended for military war zones and not to be owned and used in our communities and neighborhoods where we raise our children.

I understand, as a nation that gives rights to private ownership of guns that veterans as citizens perhaps prefer the M-16 and M-17 rifles with high capacity clip rounds that they were trained and equipped with in the military. That’s fine, but in a societal setting…acclimate accordingly. If these veterans love the rifle so much, great, use it, but there is no useful need in the keeping of its high capacity clips far from a battlefield, simply use the rifle and take a few seconds to reload.

I confess wholeheartedly, I know very little about guns and in particular assault weapons, but let’s have a quick look at some of the semi-assault or assault weapons that are readily available on the market.

The assault weapon M-17 rifle originally was developed by the consortium venture of Colt and Heckler & Koch for the peace keeping arm of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), but UNSC eventually rejected it after running trials. In order to make money from it, Colt/HK then offered it up as a civilian firearm in the U.S. The AR-15, which is a modified M-16 version for civilians, was the weapon Adam Lanza used on the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The AK-47 is originally a Russian assault rifle that is gas operated with the vapor forcing each round to automatically reload after the prior bullet has been spent. They are common in gun households because they are easy to use, maintain, reliable, but most of all…cheap. The AK-47 is the preferred assault weapon of terrorists.

After the Newtown, Connecticut episode, where normally NRA leadership was quick to start defending guns after previous like massacres, were eerily silent. Perhaps they knew this time around with the majority of victims being six and seven-year-olds, they might want to first shut-up and let mourners grieve a bit undisturbed. After their moment of silence though, it only took them within a two week period to initiate a counter against the nation’s somber mood with a barrage of nationally televised guest appearances, attendance in congressional hearings and outrageous ads.

The NRA truthfully hasn’t much anything to do with its membership; leadership only utilizes its members as its ground troops. The real motive behind the NRA is as special interests for the weapon and ammunition manufacturers.               

The NRAs ad about Obama’s two girls having special privilege in having secret service personnel around them was ludicrous and callous. Even Fox News did not condone the ad with ‘Fox News Sunday’ host, Chris Wallace grilling NRA president Wayne LaPierre. After LaPierre was defending the ad, Wallace told him, “That is ridiculous sir and you know it.”

The ad depicts that if the president’s kids can be surrounded by armed guards in reference to the secret service, then why can’t all our kids be protected by armed guards. Wallace also alluded to the fact that if LaPierre cannot see the fact that the president’s children are more of a threatened high target above and beyond average schoolchildren, then he’s senseless.

Arguments by NRA leadership are almost as senseless as the ad, but in addition are becoming really boring as they are always a repeat. The one core is 2nd Amendment rights. This is so misinterpreted and below is why…

The original script that was to be the 2nd Amendment was written by James Madison in June 1789 and read, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well-armed and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

This script was later revised in July of that same year by a select house committee and became the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. This is what gun owners fastidiously latch onto and it reads, “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.”

Yepper, it does say the right to bear arms, but its intents and purposes were to arm militias to confront any foreign invasions. Ya see, with only a total of eighty soldiers, there virtually was no standing army at the time, so to defend the country adequately, they saw to it that militias composed of ordinary armed citizens would have to be utilized to counter any invasion. If the founding fathers could have foreseen that their fledgling nation would eventually possess the most powerful military ever on the earth and knew of the consequences of armed criminal and mass murder behavior, they might have thought a little deeper about the inclusion of Madison’s proposal.

Hey, if gun fanatics can misinterpret the 2nd Amendment, I s’pose I can too. This 2nd Amendment is actually a misprint; what the founding fathers originally intended to be read wasn’t the right to bear arms, but the right to arm bears…

Another argument is that “guns don’t kill, people do.” The NRA insists the people who commit these acts are deranged, so instead of taking away assault rifles, let’s simply devote our time to mental health issues. It is true, mental illness is an eminent problem, but even more so…the mentally ill with an assault weapon in hand.

With this scenario, I guess that tobacco smoke doesn’t cause lung cancer, people do. Of course people kill and undoubtedly more so with assault rifles as their choice of weapon. Simply addressing the mental health side won’t solve the problem; it’s also the easy access to these weapons that need to be addressed.

Let’s be factual, no matter how stringent mental health laws are put in place to prevent a person deemed mentally ill to acquire weapons, as long as they’re available any person may have access. Adam Lanza was known to be mentally ill and perhaps he himself could never purchase any gun, but he lived in a household that had semi-assault weapons. This was easy access for him. His mother, who owned the guns, actually trained him to use them that he eventually used on her and the twenty-six victims at the school.

Guns, guns, guns and more guns! NRA leadership, in particular David Keene, who was the former chairman of the ‘American Conservative Union’ until 2011 states we do not need to keep guns out of our children’s schools, we actually need more guns in our schools. Have armed guards stationed in every school essentially turning our school grounds into police states and war zones.

This is so asinine. In this reasoning, if more guns is the solution, America who has ‘more guns’ than any other country per capita, then why is it that America also has more homicidal deaths by guns than any other nation per capita. According to the ‘Washington Post’ statistics, gun citizen ownership in the U.S. is a whopping 270,000,000 with 67.5% of homicides carried out by guns.

In central China in Chenpeng Province, just a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, a Chinaman wielding a knife attacked school children entering classes. Twenty-two students received wounds, but not one died. If the attacker had an assault weapon the mortality rate would have been much worse.   

They also argue that high citizen gun ownership countries are the most peaceful and pacifist countries. Looking at American statistics that argument is already muted, but the next country per capita with the highest number of gun ownership is Yemen and I dare say there aren’t too many out there that would call Yemen a pacifist, peaceful and howdy-doody country.

One silly complaint is how stay-at-home moms need protection with an assault rifle, for what if a group of thugs broke in to do her and her babes harm. They claim simply a pistol would not be a worthy enough weapon to defend with. Oh, I don’t know, a pistol can fire off six bullets within seconds. If there’s more than six, I’m quite sure the remainder would be high-tailing it out of there after six of their comrades had been shot. Every time I hear this argument, I always envision a breast feeding mom with an AK-47 strapped across her shoulder. This extremely hypothetical argument is just not practical.

Self-protection is a major excuse for having guns in the home. But study after study shows acquaintances and relatives are the ones most likely to be injured or killed by a gun in the home rather than an unknown intruder.

One of the latest studies is by David Hemenway of the ‘Harvard Control Research Center’ that he published in the ‘American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine’ in 2011. In Hemenway’s conclusion, he found no advantage in having guns in the home as a deterrent in being a crime victim, nor does it reduce the risk of break-ins or being injured in a break-in. In fact gun owners are twenty times more likely on a daily average to be injured by a gun than their non-gun owning neighbors. From gun cleaning to misidentification of an intimate for a burglar are some reasons for home gun injuries.

One of the leading causes of child injury or deaths are due to guns in the home no matter how those weapons are stored. Children aged five to fourteen are eleven times more likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound than those children living in other developed countries. American children are thirteen times more likely to be injured by guns in the home than children in other developed countries. It became so common that in 2000, the ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’ who deal with child injuries on a daily basis, issued a policy recommending to all pediatricians to urge parents to keep guns out of their homes.

States with the highest amount of home gun ownership are also the same states that lead in the highest number of successful suicides.

In the U.S., home burglaries by a stranger occur only 5% of the time when the home is occupied by its owners. That means 95% of the time no violence will occur. This is low odds in having a gun at home, especially when you compare it to the accidental injuries or deaths from having a gun in the home.

Hemenway notes, “For most contemporary Americans, the scientific studies suggest that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit. There are no credible studies that indicate otherwise.”

The last argument comes from extreme right-wing conservatives that feel individuals owning guns prevents our government from taking us over. An oxymoron I know, for we the people are the government. No military personnel that grew up in our rural towns and urban cities would attack his relatives, friends and neighbors if such an act was ever ridiculously ordered.

But now these (I hesitate in calling them fringe, for many are out there) conspiracy groups are stating that the government was responsible for the Newtown massacre. One contingent, with the website: sandyhookhoax.blogspot.com contends that the weapon used in killing the twenty children wasn’t an AR-15, but merely a handgun. What difference does that make, all twenty children died anyway?

Another conspiracy group claims that it was an orchestrated plot by Vice President Biden and Senator Feinstein to take all our guns away. Finally, there is one that calls itself ‘Sandy Hook Capricorn One’ and claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting never even occurred. They claim the whole incident was a perpetrated government hoax.

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich’s hand-picked state school board president, Debe Tarher compared Obama’s national dialogue on gun control and gun violence prevention to Hitler on her Facebook page. Her comments were along with a photo of ol’ Adolf and a quote by the Nazi leader.   

The point is, with this kind of argumentation the NRA along with the gun fanatics should not be allowed to drive this debate. “God ‘n’ Guns” just doesn’t mix. I wonder if the gutless wonders that go by this phrase ever wonder if there are guns in heaven.

Let the right-wingers freak on new gun control legislation banning assault rifles. It is not going to be as the NRA portrays it. No sir, ATF officials aren’t going to come knocking on yore door insisting you give up every gun in your house. If Republicans can pass fairy tale voter fraud legislation then the more progressive caucus should dang well be able to pass substantive gun law legislation, for the greatest individual rights is to life itself.

There are in the books fair anti-libel laws, fair anti-trust laws, even anti-pornography laws. Along with stringent mental health checks and criminal background histories, in this country there has to be fair gun laws as well and that includes a reasonable banning of assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips. 

Below is a cartoon rendition depicting some of the silliness these gun conspirators proclaim:


Where the Deeper Self Resides:
Immigration reform has always been a policy the general Republican disdains. They feel illegal immigrants of the Chicano kind simply have not earned it, no matter if they worked endlessly almost as slave labor, were brought here as children or even born here from illegal parents.

But due to political reasons rather than from any ethical standpoint, a few Republicans are beginning to actually attempt to solve this dilemma of some twelve million illegal immigrants stationed in limbo throughout the U.S.

The so-called senate ‘Gang of Eight’ apparently spearheaded by Marco Rubio (FL) is rounded out with Republicans John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC) and freshman Jeff Flake (AZ). The other four are Democrats Chuck Schumer (NY), Robert Menedez (NJ), Michael Bennett (CO) and Dick Durbin (IL). Within this gang, originally all the Democrats supported Obama’s Dream Act of 2010 where McCain and Graham voted nay and of course Rubio and Flake were not sworn into office yet. But once while campaigning for the Florida senate, Rubio during a Fox News debate on 03/28/2010 stated he emphatically would never support a pathway to citizenship for illegals. Putatively, Rubio changed or at least has softened on his stance. 

Due to election results, the Latino vote put a knot on Republican heads that a monkey couldn’t climb. Some GOP politicians now get that the U.S. demographics are changing and if they want to stay in office, they had better start paying more attention. Thus some are willing to seriously approach immigration reform.

As if he’s grateful that at least some Republicans have picked up the fight, Obama has stepped aside allowing the legislatures in bipartisan fashion to legislate immigration reform. Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants now favors a blueprint in a path to citizenship for illegals, but includes background checks and full payment of back taxes. He also stipulates that citizenship not proceed until the border with Mexico is fully secured. Flake feels border state senators have more valued input on the matter and has put impetus on border community admonition.

McCain has a history of splitting from his fellow Republicans on immigration reform, but he has put too much emphasis on border security instead of an overall comprehensive plan. Graham, in catering to his Tea Party voters for the upcoming 2014 elections is more resolute stating, “Illegal immigration is a nightmare for America,” but as long as he feels there will be a secure border, is offering support for a pathway to citizenship. Just don’t tell his South Carolina conservative voters that.

The gang has worked on a bold plan and has given out a broad outline of its structure. It will not be one big omnibus administered as one bill, but will be spread out in a series of successive legislative bills. It does specifically favor providing legal status for the younger illegal immigrants that were brought here as children. Rubio has stated though that this piecemeal approach is not a “line drawn in the sand.” If once implemented but not working, amendments should be added to accommodate a fix.

Of course the more hardline Republicans are a tad miffed with Republicans adhering to illegal immigrant citizenship status no matter how long the road might be in acquiring citizenship. One fresh freshman Republican senator of Texas, Ted Cruz is simply a belligerent know-it-all. He likes to present himself as a wealth of knowledge and lectures those willing to sit and listen to his rhetoric.

Cruz is attempting to be the leader of the anti-immigration reform affront in the senate with his charging logo of “categorically opposes” any path to citizenship for undocumented workers. With his patented smirk smile, Cruz has decided to beat the drum of resistance at the delight of the ultra-conservative. Considering who he is as judged from his own rhetoric, his small voice shouldn’t make a dent in the Republicans that have decided to begin seriously approaching illegal immigration reform or any other issue problem that deems common sense.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has put his freshman dough boy, Cruz on about every committee panel there is from gun control, confirmation hearings to the Benghazi hearings. McConnell feels the exposure will elevate Cruz therefore conservative ideologue. What will turn out from the exposure though, is how inept in knowledge Cruz really is. He is high on rhetoric but low on substance.

A Closing by Opening:
All appointed as handpicked by previous Republican administrations to the U.S. Court of Appeals, three conservative judges ruled that Obama’s recess appointments were invalid. The judges not only ruled down the appointments, but the work the appointments had conducted was also considered null and void. Now how can that be?

There is no practicality to the decision and it surely is an omission of common sense appearing to be a decision based more on political ideologue…maybe even vengeance.

Normally, a high level position is filled by senate confirmation of the president’s appointed choice. By definition, a recess appointment is conducted by the president of a senior federal official while the senate is off on recess then approved by senate confirmation at the end of the next session in Congress. According to Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. constitution, the president has the authority to induct his appointees during a recess of congress.

Going back to the Reagan era, recess appointments have been a commonality among past presidents. Recent presidents have conducted both types of recess appointments. Intercession is between sessions of congress, while intrasession is during a recess within a session. W. Bush himself appointed 171 recess appointees, Obama has conducted only twenty-eight.

In conducting recess appointments, past presidents have done so for various reasons such as a vacancy needing filled during a long recess or to thwart strong congressional opposition that might wear the nominee down in hearings.

Obama chose to recess appoint his candidate, Richard Cordray as chairman to fill the vacancy of the newly formed ‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ because the Republican entity of the senate had continually obstructed, delayed and filibustered Cordray’s confirmation hearings.

The inception of this appellate court decision was due to the nursing home consortium, Healthbridge Management LLC wanting the court to stay a federal district court’s preliminary injunction requiring the company, as enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reinstate striking union workers while the NLRB considers employee complaints. The original complaint involved 700 employees citing unfair labor practices at the company’s facilities. Healthbridge did not like the decisions of NLRB citing them as too pro union and took it to court knocking down not only their decisions and work, but their appointments.

This decision directly concerns Obama’s recess appointments of his NLRB appointees, which will negate their year’s work load, but will also indirectly affect Cordray’s appointment, whose filled position is also being challenged due to the recess appointment.

Now, going all the way back 150 years of presidential recess appointments, the judges on this Appeals Court decision rules only on Obama’s appointments? If indeed Obama’s appointments are invalid, along with all their work, then you technically are going to have to stretch all the way back to the first recess appointment invalidating them and all their workloads. Just because of political differences, a court of justice cannot punish only one president.

Some though are arguing that in Obama’s instance the senate was ‘pro forma’ therefore theoretically was not in recess. This is nonsense and mere child’s play instead of adults seriously conducting the nation’s business. In stating ‘pro forma’ this is what they are referring to.

While congressional members had vacated and left for the holidays, a few Republican volunteers remained to take turns in pounding the gavel in the emptied senate chamber, announce if there is any business, then immediately pound the gavel again to adjourn and walk out. As technical or as common sense goes this conduct was frivolous. These were not days of the senate working, for they were all out enjoying the holidays back home or on ski slopes at some lodge.

After news of the three judges’ decision McConnell had this to say, it “reaffirmed that the Constitution is not an inconvenience, but the law of the land.” Funny that, for it is not what he said after the Supreme Court’s decision in calling the new Affordable Care Act as relevant to the Constitution that he was solidified against.

I know that politicians, in particular Republican ones, make no sense, but now rhetorical ignorance has to be conducted in our judicial systems as well...

Idiopathic Neurosis:
Considering senate majority leader, Harry Reid, as of late, I’m sort of reminded of an old Phyllis Diller phrase, “My cigar goes out more than I do.” What I’m referring to here in particular is his decision to shake hands again with McConnell on controlling the amount of convenient filibusters by Republicans. 391 record smashing filibuster clotures later after that first handshake, Republicans have filibustered virtually every piece of legislation and obstructed every Obama appointee confirmation hearings. Now, Reid just gave McConnell carte blanche to do more of the same. But indeed, if he would, heaven forbid, win over the senate majority in 2014 or 2016, do you think McConnell would continue the convenient filibuster…not a chance…he would resort back to the original form and make it as hard as he could for Democrats to obstruct Republican agendas.

After the election results this past fall, Democrats had gained steam and a true sense of momentum to actually begin conducting the business of the country. Filibuster reform was gaining acceptance not merely by Democrat congressmen, but by the public at large.

Today’s filibuster resembles nothing like as portrayed in the movie ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ starring James Stewart. Stewart’s portrayal of Senator Smith shows him for hours on end filibustering the senate floor to make his grievance heard. No more; today a senator simply has to pick up the phone and anonymously call in a filibuster. Reform wasn’t going to eliminate the filibuster altogether, but was going to revert back more to old style where a senator would have to be recognized and take the floor to announce as to why he is not for a bill up for legislation.

Reform was gearing to challenge the minority’s obstructionism of the majority’s efforts to conduct legislation. There were two pending versions, one was strict and more in line to the original platform, while the other was watered down and more assessable to current filibuster convenience. While McConnell was even trying to obstruct filibuster reform, it appeared that Reid had finally reached his breaking point and on January 23 gave McConnell an ultimatum that within 24 hours, if McConnell cannot agree on the watered down version, then Reid was going to pass the much stricter reform version and do so with only 51 Democrat votes.

The stricter reform was a sweet deal to ensure the public that the senate would quit remaining in constant gridlock and start passing legislation. Currently, the majority requires sixty votes to break a filibuster, while the minority needs only one vote from the floor. The strict version would reverse those roles, where the minority would have to have a minimum of forty-one votes to keep a filibuster on the floor, with the majority not having to be required to do much of anything except be in attendance enjoying the show. It would also mean that if a filibuster was in session, the senate leader could call for a vote anytime of his choosing like at 3:30 AM on a Saturday morning.

Well, this was not to be. Apparently within that ultimatum 24 hour time frame, Reid and McConnell had discussions and the final product agreed upon was a more water soaked version of the watered down version. Any adherence to the stricter version was flung out the window.

Still, even though filibustering will remain more of a convenience than an effort, there are some new changes and decent requirements.

There will be no real talking filibuster or flipping of the burden onto the senate floor, but now any senator who wishes to filibuster a bill has to make himself or herself known by actually announcing their objection and threat to filibuster.

This version will also truly eliminate the so-called ‘secret hold,’ but only for the next two years. A ‘secret hold’ is basically an ally to a filibuster to aid in stalling legislation. No longer can a senator unannounced secretly object to a bill or proceeding in stalling pieces of legislation and nominations along with the ability to block votes and extract concessions. To approach ‘secret hold’ transactions, in 2007 the ‘Honest Leadership and Open government Act’ was passed by Democrats to require transparency and a revealing beforehand of any objections. Also in 2011, due to the efforts of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and with the aid of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), a senate resolution was passed to further strengthen rules against the ‘secret hold.’ These acts however failed to have any enforcement mechanisms, so under Republican obstructionism the ‘secret hold’ proceeded due to loopholes. Those loopholes will now be sealed shut.

This new agreement between Reid and McConnell also, theoretically anyway, has impacted the inside ground game with moving parts where the caucus is more aware of its use or non-use of the filibuster making them more accountable with future candidates also becoming aware of filibuster implications.

Why, I don’t really know why Reid let McConnell off the hook from a more strict reform, but maybe it is that he still has the ability to further reform filibustering if he so deems necessary and McConnell definitely knows it. As it stands though, Republicans can still obstruct substantive legislation. Why McConnell did a jig as best he could due to the outcome of the agreement I don’t know either. He really won no concessions, but he was out there bragging hardy about the new agreement to Kentuckians in his campaign bid to be reelected in 2014. Except in not having the strict filibuster enforced, he achieved nothing.


In Effervescent Reporting
BJA
02/07/2013