REFORMING THE FILIBUSTERER
Hendrick Hertzberg at the New Yorker writes about the wild outside chance that the havoc-wreaking filibuster rules might possibly get reformed. (Please, please, please, let it be so!)
Here’s a clip:
Our two-year election cycle leaves little time for long-acting changes to ripen and be judged fairly. That basic structure has its pluses as well as its minuses, of course. Anyway, we’re stuck with it. But there’s one big obstacle—almost as big as the rest put together—that has no pluses whatsoever, and that we don’t have to be stuck with: the arsenal of senatorial death rays that goes by the quaint name of filibuster.
In the nineteenth century, filibusters were rarer than visible comets. For most of the twentieth, they were still rare—about as frequent as solar eclipses—and reserved for special occasions, such as killing civil-rights bills. Now they and their bastard offspring, the secret “holds” that allow a single senator to pigeonhole a bill or a nomination, are as common as sunsets—and as destructive as tsunamis. It is taken for granted that without the support of sixty of the hundred senators, the number needed to invoke “cloture,” nothing emerges from the Senate alive. The minority can’t quite rule, exactly, but it can, and does, use the rules to ruin. Even when something does get through, the marginal cost of that fifty-ninth or sixtieth vote is severe. In the absence of the filibuster, the health-care law would offer a public alternative to private insurance, the financial reform would be strong enough to close off the likelihood of another meltdown, and the very rich (and their heirs) would pay something closer to their fair share of taxes. Nearly two hundred qualified nominees for executive and judicial offices would be on the job instead of in limbo. And a climate-and-energy bill, a bill to require corporations to be open about their political spending, the DREAM Act, and dozens of other worthy measures—all of which passed the House and had majority support in the Senate—would now be the law of the land.
Read the rest.
DEAR UC EXECS: IN YOUR CASE, GREED IS DEFINITELY NOT GOOD
Should THE UC system’s executives be forced to renegotiate their retirement deal like the rest of UC employees? Or should they get the phenomenally cushy retirement package they were planning on, along with their nicely cushy salaries while everyone else takes hits and the students are asked to pay ever higher tuition fees?
Hmmm. Let’s see. Tough one. (NOT.)
On Monday, Patt Morrison had a show on the issue featuring Nanette Asimov, the reporter who broke the story for the SF Chron.
THE GOVERNOR AND THE ESTEBAN NUNEZ CASE
I said Monday that I was glad that outgoing Gov. Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence for Fabian Nunez’s son, Esteban.
Today, I take that back.
There are young men and woman in prison who are doing 25 to life because they were present at age 14 or 15 or 16 when someone else committed a murder. Esteban Nunez was 19 when he and his friends picked a fight that left one young man dead, two others stabbed—and Nunez gets 7 years?
Maybe I’m missing something, but how does that work exactly?
Photo from Basetree.com.