Welcome to this week’s edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! This week Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the use of the filibuster, respond to gibberish emails, review ‘Prometheus’ and talk about the smearing of public sector unions.
Bob, I’d love to know how many times Democrats have actually forced Republicans to filibuster. Seems to me all I ever read about is a procedural vote that indicates Republicans would filibuster if necessary, and then no filibuster is ever, actually, performed. Let’s force the issue; the theater created by one senator having to filibuster to stop – let’s just say – the American Jobs Act, would be great to see. Down with procedural votes – on with the real thing!
Bob: I’m *almost* with you on this one. The Republican abuse of cloture votes has crippled the Senate. The 109th and 110th congresses are responsible for more than double the number of cloture votes (votes to end filibusters, requiring 60 votes) than the 107th and 108th congresses. I’d really love to see a Republican stand up and read the phone book for days on end with urine running down his leg, but unless the process of cloture is eliminated via the so-called “nuclear option” the time spent on the theatrics would be wasted unless somehow the cloture vote whip count changed. In other words, at the end of all that talking, there would still have to be a cloture vote to proceed to the final vote to pass the hypothetical bill. If there’s not 60 votes to proceed, then why would a Republican waste his time on a physical filibuster when they have the cloture votes to block and obstruct the legislation without all of the theatrics? Meanwhile, I hesitate to support killing cloture/filibusters because one of these days, our side will need to use it in order to block a ridiculous Republican bill. At that point, we’ll wish we hadn’t have killed the procedure.
: I have no idea what the answer is to your question and I’m too lazy to Google it. Also, your question is addressed to Bob and it has to do with filibustering, which I’ve already explained in a previous mail bag is a subject that makes my eyes glaze over and my jaw go slack. So I’ll just mention that yesterday was National Bourbon Day, which I celebrated by having several glasses of Bulleit Bourbon — my personal favorite — before attempting to answer these questions. With that in mind, let me tell you what I thought of “Prometheus,” which I’ve now seen twice. First of all, it’s gorgeous to look at — really, one of the most spectacular and immersive 3D experiences ever created. Unfortunately, the story itself is a mess. The characters are all stupid and thoroughly unlikable, with the possible exception of David the android, who seems to have motivations known only to him who seems to be reveling in his own curiosity. I get the feeling that screenwriter Damon Lindelof, as he did with “Lost,” simply threw a bunch of tenuously connected quasi-Christian, metaphysical and mythological references at the screen in the hope that something would stick and might form a coherent story. For the most part, it didn’t. I don’t mind a movie that asks big question and which doesn’t necessarily answer all of them, but I don’t like to feel like I’m getting played — like the filmmakers themselves have no idea what’s going on but instead hope that I’ll be able to make some sense out of the chaos and that I’ll confuse bad storytelling with profundity. Still, the visuals are beautiful. It’s worth seeing for that reason alone. Thumbs kind of up!
Ben: I would dearly love to see a Republican filibustering to stop something like the American Jobs Act. It would highlight how despicably out of touch they are on issues that affect regular people, and display just how committed they are to screwing over working people for their own benefit. But as Bob mentioned, unless the process of cloture is eliminated, we won’t see it happen.
Bill Clinton deregulated banking and broadcast ownership rules not reagan or bush! Thats where the car went of the road , sommers Reubin , franks , reid , pelosi and maxine waters robbed the treasury through franklyn raines at Freddie and fannie , dodd – frank is a joke and so is your dishonest attempt at spinning katrina and 9-11 wasted federal f you money for travel agents and the other green job rip offs , the more you deny , the more obama will pay!
Ben: A quick note to our readers in light of John Driscoll’s email – please write coherently and use capital letters at the beginning of people’s names. It just makes you look silly if you don’t. On to John’s ‘question’, if you can call it that. I think you’re basically saying that the Left is just as responsible for the financial crisis as the Right if I’m not mistaken – and if it is, I agree to a large extent. Clinton in particular bears huge responsibility for the repeal of Glass Steagall in collaboration with the Republicans. The rest of your email is incomprehensible so I’m not going to bother to respond.
Bob: Huh? I have no idea when any of us “dishonestly spun” anything about Katrina money. You’re right about the Clinton record of deregulation, although Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine which opened to doors to right-wing talk radio dominance and the lopsided monopolization of the *public* airwaves. But back to Clinton, I won’t argue with you there. Clinton famously once declared, “The era of big government is over.” Clearly, he was caught up in the philosophy of deregulatory, small-government Reaganomics. Many Democrats in the 1990s were. But make no mistake: this was a philosophy that was invented by Republicans to destroy social programs and it paved the way for the Great Recession.
Chez:Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebted to Gabby Driscoll for clearly stating what needed to be said. I’m particularly glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.
One thing that struck me during the recent elections in Wisconsin and California is that voters truly begrudge benefits for public sector workers, particularly pensions, that workers in the private sector do not receive. Public sector unions have been greatly stigmatized on the subject of pensions, evidenced by the fact that a significant percentage of voters in private sector unions who are Democrats voted for Walker in Wisconsin, perhaps solely because of the pension issue. Republicans are doing a good job pitting one group of middle class workers against another and I believe this is a winning argument for them. I think these arguments carry real weight with voters, and as a result, public sector unions need to be prepared to give up some benefits and improve their image with voters, or risk becoming marginalized as one state after another attempts to reduce their benefits. Do you agree?
Bob: I don’t agree. I think a stronger case for pensions should be made — and not just for government workers, but all workers. Opposition to government pensions is primarily due to stupid, stupid jealousy — we don’t get them, so why should they? It’s pathetic and should never be allowed to continue beyond angry, petty, closed-door Republican coffee clatches. Unions and the Democrats ought to fight these efforts at every turn. Pensions are the last remaining slice of the American Dream and instead of petulantly and childishly killing them for the real people with real families and real houses who happen to work for state, local or federal governments, voters ought demand that *private sector* pensions be reinstated. Real pensions. Likewise, if voters are pissed off about wasted government money, they ought to be targeting the massive subsidies doled out to corporations that are already turning record profits by manipulating prices — specifically Big Oil. Voters should be investigating and holding-accountable lawmakers who are pushing for more wars and therefore more war profiteering via government contracts. Voters should be rejecting lawmakers like Eric Cantor who are actively short-selling treasury bonds — literally profiting on the poor health of the American economy. Instead, voters are being tricked into believing pensions are an evil that needs to be destroyed. Horsecrap. Those voters in Wisconsin and California last week took another gigantic chunk out of the American Dream, and how dare they.
Ben: I agree with you that Republicans are doing a good job pitting one group of middle class workers against another. I don’t agree that the way around this tactic is to for public sector unions to cede more ground and give up more rights. Unions have been smeared in America more so than in any other country I’ve ever visited – Americans are brought up to literally hate them as a natural reaction. This hatred exists regardless of whether they understand the point behind them or just how important they are in ensuring people earn a decent wage (as witnessed with the Tea Party movement – a largely lower middle class demographic that would benefit from stronger working rights). The only way to fight this is for public sector and private sector unions to work together and put a compelling argument to the American people that their fight is an important one, not to give in to Republican threats and propaganda.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.