Friday, April 24, 2009

GOP aggression techniques

The Republicans were pretty successful at blocking Bill Clinton federal judiciary appointments. And the Democrats weren't nearly so successful during the last eight years at blocking even genuinely bad Bush judicial appointments, not least of them the torture judge, Jay Bybee.

Now the GOP obstructionism is expanding. Al Franken was elected as the Democratic Senator from Minnesota last November. Here it is near the end of April and the Republicans are still tying up that election in court with the approval of the GOP establishment. Why aren't the Democrats in Congress baying like wolves over that outrage? They should be.

Now the Republicans are holding up the approval of the highly-qualified Dawn Johnsen as head of the key Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the office which was key to the Cheney torture policy, because she has spoken out in favor of enforcing the anti-torture laws and treaties. Now Sen. Ben Nelson of Pennsylvania is going wobbly on that nomination, too. Any backing down on the Johnsen nomination by the Senate Democrats or the administration will be a cave-in on legal accountability for torture, as well as another victory for GOP obstructionism.

That filibuster rule for me is not an excuse for anything. Whatever usefulness it had historically is over. And, in any case, in practice the Republicans Senate majority in 2006 abolished the filibuster with their threats about the "nuclear option" and the "Gang of 14" compromise that basically let the Reps have their bad judicial nominees. The Dems have a large Senate majority and Joe Biden as presiding officer. They can abolish the filibuster formally with a simple majority vote.

Meanwhile, honorary Democrat Joe Lieberman has joined with hardline Bush supporter a legendary Maverick John McCain to write to the Obama administration opposing any prosecution of lawyers criminally involved in the torture policy. After Lieberman spent most of the Cheney-Bush administration denouncing other Democrats for not sufficiently cheering for Republican policies, defeating the Democratic candidate in the 2006 Connecticut Senate election, and endorsing McCain in the Presidential election even during the primary season, they welcomed him into the Democratic caucus as a member in good standing. Unbelievable. Hillary Clinton reminded the House Foreign Relations Committee this week that the Democrats won the 2008 election. The Senate Democrats don't seem to have quite figured that out yet and still think they have to play the Beltway Village Idiot game of sniveling to the Republicans on things like this.

To quote Pete Seeger's famous song:

When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?


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