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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013 in Guest Contributor, Politics | 3 comments

The Filibuster That Wasn’t There

Yesterday, upon the stair,

I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

triangle of fubar

The legendary Triangle of FUBAR

The Senate Republicans, fresh from promising, on their honor, that they wouldn’t engage in any more filibuster abuse yesterday extended their abuse record and then had the gall to claim that they weren’t doing what they were doing.

Senate Republicans filibuster Hagel nomination
Paul Kane / Washington Post

Senate Republicans delivered a sharp rebuke to President Obama on Thursday when they began a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense. 

The confirmation process stalled Thursday when GOP senators deprived Hagel of the 60 votes needed to move it to its final stages. Republicans said they were seeking a delay so they could look more closely at the nominee. …

Republicans denied that their actions constituted a filibuster because they expect Hagel to be confirmed, and they insisted they will allow a simple-majority vote on the nomination later this month….

Oh, well then, even though it looks like a filibuster, smells like a filibuster and quacks like a filibuster, it’s NOT a filibuster because we expect that it will fail.

Oh. Dear. Ghod.

If I slap you in the face and call it a kiss it’s not violence? If I kick you in the crotch and call it a chiropractic adjustment then it’s not an act of physical aggression?

fighterPreparatory to a love and cuddles fest, clearly

If I fart loudly and tell you it’s Chanel No. 5 then it would smell sweet?


Remember, there was a “Gentleman’s Agreement” with the Republicans rather than forcing them to actually DO what the filibuster actually does: It DELAYS a vote on any issue before the Senate, but never actually halts said vote, unless the clock can be run out (as it was yesterday) before a recess or change of Congresses, which happens every two years. (Obama took office with the 111th Congress, which passed Obamacare among other major legislation; the Do-Nothing GOP House took office as the 112th Congress, and this already disgusting lot is the 113th Congress.)

Snake squoze

Meet the 113th Congress GOP

The filibuster is a COURTESY of the Senate’s formerly robust policy on debate, from back when debate actually meant something, and was give and take, and earned the Senate its fatuous nickname as “The Greatest Deliberative Body on Earth.” But when Civil Rights was before the Congress, it was abused by the spiritually self-same Republicans, back when they were Dixiecrats, and the threshold of the filibuster was lowered from 2/3rds (or 67 votes) to 60. Which is where we are today.

Except that we aren’t. The filibuster has been elevated to the level of SuperMajority, which was never the intent of the Founding Fathers, whose shoes they deign to shine, those “Constitutionalists” and their high-falutin’ “reverence” and “patriotism.”

The filibuster is clearly something never envisioned nor, arguably, would it be endorsed today, were said founders present. And it has paralyzed the government, virtually giving ANY single, cranky senator virtual veto power over all legislation, a power only reserved in the Constitution for the president, and, until Ulysses S. Grant, as rarely used as the filibuster formerly was.

And, when the 113th Senate had the chance to correct that abuse, the Republicans threatened to block ALL Senate business, and, with a handshake and a “gentlemen’s agreement” no rules were changed. Hopefully, the naive and punditry said, this agreement to behave civilly will produce a decrease in the obscene gridlock created by a few loons from strange states. (Like, say, paranoia and dementia.)

But evidently Harry Reid never bothered reading his Aesop:

farmer and the viper

Or, in the words of the parallel tale (from other sources) of the Frog and the Scorpion, says the Scorpion: “I can’t help it. It’s my nature.”


And the first filibuster of a Defense/War Secretary ever in the Eleven Score and Two years since the Constitution was adopted?

But don’t worry about no filbuster. If it FAILS it never happened. Right? Oh:

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away*

It’s their nature.

Olympic Team

The 113th Crack Filibuster Corps
(or, at least, as they see themselves)


* Note: Wikipedia tells us, “Antigonish” is an 1899 poem by American educator and poet Hughes Mearns.


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

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