A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 :::
Republicans Block Bush Judges...Osama bin-Laden's Real Motive...Foreign Aid, A Bad Idea

It's the Republicans' Fault!!!! A lot of spleen is being vented over the way Senate Democrats are acting. They are using "filibusters" to block votes on judicial nominees Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owens, which means they are going around the nomination process written into the Constitution. True enough, they are. But the real problem is that the solution is in the hands of the Republicans, and they don't have the will to use it.

It used to be a filibuster was a filibuster. Senators would talk and talk over a course of days trying to prevent the Senate from taking up a bill. It was the primary weapon with which Southerners tried, first, to preserve slavery and then to prevent meaningful civil rights legislation from being passed. With typical bluntness, the name was coined by John C. Calhoun, and he openly took it from an old naval term meaning "piracy used for military purposes."

You may have noticed these recent "filibusters" have been dragging on for months. That was because of a "compromise" change in the rules in the mid-1970's. Technically, it still means one Senator or a group of Senators keeps talking to prevent action, but since the change, someone can offer a motion to shift topics. The debate on the filibustered topic stops, and when the topic is taken up again, the Senator who was talking last can start up again. Strom Thurmond, in his hateful days (when he was a Democrat), had to speak for 24 hours to try and stop passage of a civil rights bill. When he stopped, the vote was taken anyway. The whole filibuster, involving other senators, lasted only a few days. Now, members of a minority can speak for 6 or 8 hours, and when they are tired, somebody moves to go on to a different subject and everyone takes a break.

A Mind That Suits' Intro to Poli Sci teacher, a raving leftist, was apoplectic when this change was passed. He realized that it meant a filibuster could be extended for months, not days. It was a "compromise" with "states' rights" forces in the Senate, and that is what drove him nuts. What he did not foresee was that the left--very soon thereafter-- would move so far out of the mainstream that they would have to steal this old racist tactic. And they have been shameless in doing so since the 1980 election, when the new mainstream's first great triumph shocked them to their very core.

For judicial nominees, technically, the Senate goes into "Executive Session." With a filibuster going on, the filibuster is put on hold when they "go out of" Executive Session, and the filibuster resumes when they "go back in."

So, if the Republicans are serious about these judicial nominees, why don't they just prevent the Senate from going out of Executive Session? It actually would take just one Senator, because they usually move from topic to topic by "unanimous consent," and any member can object. The Democrats would then have to talk non-stop round the clock to prevent a vote, as they had to in the old days, and they would be the only ones on camera.

With one or even two Supreme Court nominations coming up, Republicans had better learn to fight back. Fast.


It's Not Israel. Those who do not read what Osama bin-Laden says assume that Israel is bin-Laden's main complaint. It isn't. It is Western Civilization, and, even more, Muslims who make concessions in order to deal with the West. The attacks against Western targets in Saudi Arabia should have made that clear. Much of Saudi Arabia is the "Hijaz," the area where the Prophet Mohammed lived and fought. The current king styles himself as "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," and bin-Laden does not think he is doing a good job.


"Over funded, over staffed, and over here." Thus did a Senator famously describe foreign aid. President Bush's bold initiative to combat AIDS worldwide, especially in Africa, is gaining a lot of good press, but it is also inspiring the traditional complaint that the US gives such a small portion of its budget to foreign aid. The problem is, foreign aid is probably the root cause of so much misery in the world. What is left over after the elites in recipient countries steal it is given over to deeply flawed economic plans. Much of it is inspired by frankly Swedish notions of economic development, meaning that power is concentrated in the hands of the elites instead of given to the average person, as it would be under more capitalist efforts. Many of the most disastrous governments had their elites educated in Paris, where they learned Marxism and used it to ruin their countries. The most notorious example in US history is the Food for Peace program, whose main beneficiaries were farmers in Minnesota, which was represented by the man who thought up the program, Hubert Humphrey. Its supposed beneficiaries in the Third World saw their farm economies battered by competition from free food. The EU is dumping extra crops produced by their subsidized farms, a contributing factor to economic devastation in several poor countries. The AIDS program, together with the campaign for free trade around the world, is exactly the kind of foreign aid that should be offered, and socialist critics should just be ignored.

Have a great Wednesday.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:41 AM



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