(BORING GOVERNMENT ARTICLE ALERT! If you are frustrated to tears with governmental inner workings, skip this and read something funnier.)

The U.S. Senate is in a tizzy. Well, more accurately, the Democrat senators are in a tizzy. You see, the President has the Constitutional responsibility to select people to fill roles in the judiciary, but the judges need to be passed to the Senate for “Advise and Consent.” It only takes 51 votes of the current 100 senators to confirm the nomination. That’s all it takes, and the Constitution is mute about the need for more than a simple majority to confirm a judge. There are other instances in the Constitution that require more than a simple majority of the Senate. Amendments, treaty ratifications, and impeachment convictions are three examples of votes requiring more than a simple majority. The passing of a law, as well as the confirmation of a judge, only requires a simple majority–51 votes.

Some things don’t appear in the Constitution which are part of the internal rules and procedures of the Senate. A classic example of this is the motion of cloture. Members of the Senate may debate about the nature of a bill before them and, normally, speak for as long as they wish. To move from this discussion phase to an actual vote requires a procedural act of the Senate and the agreement of 60 senators. When a motion for cloture is proposed, there are some limits imposed upon the senators about the bill. Each senator may only address the Senate twice about the bill in question, and each senator may only talk for one hour in total. There is also a 30-hour limit imposed. Once the 30 hours have passed, the vote on the motion of cloture is taken. If there are 60 or more votes, the bill may be actually voted on. It then requires only 51 votes to pass the bill.

Another particular aspect of the Senate workings is the filibuster. A senator may stand and discourse on the subject at hand, or on any other subject he chooses. In fact, if he follows the rules of debate, he can talk for as long as he is able to do so. At times when a band of senators are riled up enough against a bill, they could gang up to drag out the Senate procedures to delay a bill or even prevent it from being voted on altogether. This fit with the Senate idea that any senator could stand and talk about any subject: favorite recipes, quotations from the phone book, your dog Billy, or even the bill at hand. In the 1930s, Senator Hugh B. Long used the filibuster to delay and stop many bills with his recipes and readings from Shakespeare. His longest filibuster lasted 15 hours. The longest filibuster on record is held by Senator Strom Thurmond, who held the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes when debating against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

But the most famous filibuster of all time didn’t happen in the Senate. It isn’t even real. It comes from the Frank Capra movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where Jimmy Stewart pleads passionately to his colleagues, talking himself hoarse as he stands alone against the rest of the Senate. The movie suffers from one factual goof–it couldn’t have happened that way. Back in 1917, the Senate adopted Rule 22 that allowed for a motion of cloture to stop a filibuster if enough votes were gathered. The days of a lone senator being able to stand up, blather on, and stop the rest of the other senators from proceeding were gone with the adoption of that rule. Since 1917, the Senate rules about debate have changed many times. What do the filibuster and the motion of cloture have to do with the Constitution? Well, actually, neither one appears in the Constitution as they are both part of the internal rules voted on by the Senate for its own purposes.

Why do I bring this stuff up? Because many Democrat senators are currently riled up over a proposed change to the Senate internal rules. To put it simply, it takes 60 votes to pass a motion of cloture, but only 51 votes to pass a bill or confirm a nomination. The new rules would apply only to judicial nominees. It would still require the 51 votes to confirm that person, but it would make it easier to pass a motion of cloture. The first motion would still require the 60+ votes. The next would require less, and the next even less. I believe it is the fourth motion of cloture for a nominee that requires only 51 votes to pass. And at that point, the vote for the nomination could proceed. This proposed change in the rules has been called the “Nuclear Option”–a poor choice of words. The change is being proposed because the most important judicial nominees have consistently been held up by Senate Democrats. With the possibility of multiple Supreme Court positions to be filled in President Bush’s last term, the Democrats don’t want to make this process any easier for the Republicans.

On March 16th, moveon.org held a rally with several Democrat speakers (full transcripts here). Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia said the following:

An ill wind is blowing across this country. That wind sows the seeds of destruction. Our Constitution is under attack. We must speak out. We must kill this dangerous effort to rewrite our precious Constitution. Your freedom of speech is in jeopardy. Your freedom. My freedom of speech is in jeopardy. Some in the United States Senate want to bully the American people and the Senate and force feed us far right wing judges. We cannot let them do it. Don’t let them do it. Speak out. Tell the people. Get the people. Get the people. We cannot let them do it. Their view of the Constitution is based on the opinions of a fancy Washington law firm. Our view, your view, of the Constitution is based on the plain words of the framers who wrote that Constitution.

The opponents of the filibuster, the opponents of freedom of speech, say that we don’t need 217 years of American history. Oh no. According to the opponents of the filibuster, 217 years of history is a bore. It’s simply passe. Old hat. Well they say the Constitution is stale bread. The opponents of free speech see no need to rely on Jefferson. To rely on Franklin. To rely on Madison. To rely on Hamilton. They want to nuke. Nuke. N-U-K-E. They want to nuke debate in the Senate, and stand the Senate rules on their head.

I find it interesting that a Democrat would call for “plain words” to understand the Constitution. It really isn’t that hard to understand, but it is a pity that the Supreme Court doesn’t agree. They have been ignoring what the Constitution says, relying on the opinions and laws of other nations to make some of their recent decisions. But what Senator Byrd failed to say was that he, himself, led the charge to change the filibuster rules four times when he led the Senate. So much for 217 years of history.

Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton claimed to be able to read the minds of her Republican colleagues, and messed up a movie reference for good measure:

You know, I serve with a lot of Republican Senators with whom I have worked. Some much to my amazement, to tell you the truth, that I am working with, on issues that are important to New York and America. I know that a number of them have serious doubts about the wisdom of this. They know kinda deep down in their gut this is not a good thing to do. To upend the way the Senate has operated, just because you can for sheer political power? For partisan advantage? To basically end minority rights? To go ahead and consign Mr. Smith Goes To Washington to the dustbin of history?

I have already pointed out that the unlimited filibuster died in 1917, but that doesn’t stop people like Senators Byrd and Clinton from pretending otherwise as they talk about Frank Capra’s fictional movie and the equally fictitious claim of 217 years of unchanged filibuster history. But Senator Barbara Boxer really takes the cake as the senator who speaks the plain truth about what the Democrat senators have been doing.

Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we’re saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn’t too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don’t you think so? It’s the only check and balance on these people. They’re in for life. They don’t stand for election like we do, which is scary. [emphasis mine]

So much for the vaunted Constitution and history! Senator Boxer thinks that the judicial nominees with whom Democrats disagree should require 60 votes instead of the Constitutional 51, solely because Democrats want it to be the case. Listen closely–you can hear the Democrat cry of “Waaah! We’re not in power!” wherever you live.

The judicial farce surrounding the Terri Schiavo case has shown a desperate need for judges who understand the Constitution. When Congress passed the bill that President Bush signed into law, telling the federal courts to look into the Schiavo case de novo, rather than doing what Congress had the authority to tell them to do, the judges went against the will of our elected representatives. America needs judges that will look at the Constitution and base their decisions on what it says–not what they think it says, or what they think it ought to say, or what other people in other countries think, but what the text actually says. Sadly, it appears there are not enough senators with the necessary backbone to make the “nuclear option” a reality. This means that the Democrats will be able to continue slowing down the process of swearing in important judges, just because they disagree with them.

Addendum (5/26/2005): The Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement that has put aside the nuclear option. I wish the Republicans could have held together, but some squishy types failed to come through for the party. Democrats promise suggest that they won’t mount a judicial filibuster unless there are extraordinary circumstances. But they don’t state what those are. Anyone taking bets on how long the Senate goes before the Democrats threaten to filibuster another nominee? Cox and Forkum do a good job of outlining what “extraordinary circumstances” means to Democrats.

I spent this week at work in training. People from around the globe attended the training courses. One of them was Joe, a self-professed socialist from Massachusetts. While he was a fun guy, and we chatted about a number of wide-ranging subjects, our political ideologies were almost diametrically opposed. Yet we still got along fine. America is nice that way.

At one point, Joe mentioned some information he’d read about the yearly complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission. In 2000 and 2001 there were fewer than 350 complaints each year. In 2002 the number rose to about 14,000, and in 2003 it soared to more than 240,000 complaints. The stinger of this article was that 99.8% of the complaints in 2003 came from a single group: the Parents Television Council. Joe was incensed that this Christian group would spend its time and effort trying to change what was shown on TV, and he was shocked that they would be allowed such access to the FCC.

I try to avoid politics when in training, but at this point I had to chime in with a sarcastic comment: “Damn those Christians for exercising their freedom of speech!” This comment promptly shut Joe up; whether he suddenly recognized the hypocrisy of his comments or was simply irritated by my statement, I’m not sure. Perhaps it would be better for Joe to gather like-minded friends and make use of his own freedom of speech, rather than fuming over others using their freedom to express their opinions to the government. It is always a better idea to speak for yourself, rather than reflexively trying to stifle others.

Incidentally, complaints to the FCC rose to over one million in 2004. While the Parents Television Council was extremely active during that year, half of the complaints came from individuals angered over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl halftime show. Perhaps if Joe had read the entire article, he might have noticed his fellow Americans individually exercising their freedom of speech.

Exercising his own freedom of speech, Senator Byrd (D-WV) recently spoke out against the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for the position of Secretary of State. During his long rant against Dr. Rice, Senator Byrd missed the point multiple times:

Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the Administration used to scare the American people into believing that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. On September 8, 2002, Dr. Rice conjured visions of American cities being consumed by mushroom clouds. On an appearance on CNN, she warned: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

May I politely remind the Senator from the State of West Virginia that President Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat? I may? Spiffy! Here’s the salient bit from the State of the Union address in 2003:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Senator Byrd’s long oration before the Senate continued in the same vein. Numerous times he made inaccurate statements, or mischaracterized the statements or actions of others. I find it highly ironic that one of the loudest voices of dissent against the nomination of America’s first black female Secretary of State was raised by a former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. But Senator Byrd was most certainly free to voice his objections to the now confirmed and sworn in Secretary Rice. He was simply exercising one of many freedoms we enjoy in this country.

Another freedom U.S. citizens enjoy is the freedom to vote for our government leaders. Iraqis around the world are also enjoying this freedom today; while the actual election day in Iraq is set for January 30, Iraqis living in other nations have already gathered to cast their vote in a three-day window. It has been many decades since the Iraqi people had a free election. Though there were elections under Saddam Hussein, they were far from free. To quote a classic video game, “When there’s only one candidate, there’s only one choice.”

Exercising his freedom of speech, Senator Kennedy (D-MA) stated yesterday that the U.S. should pull its troops out of Iraq. “It will not be easy to extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we must begin.” Since I have already reminded one Senator of the facts, here’s a historical reminder for you, Senator Kennedy: U.S. troops never left Germany after it was defeated in World War II. Here we are, 60 years after the end of World War II, and we still have American soldiers stationed in Germany. But they are not seen as “part of the problem,” as Senator Kennedy views the troops in Iraq.

Why is it that the senior Senator from Massachusetts feels such a pressing need to compare Iraq to Vietnam? “We lost our national purpose in Vietnam. We abandoned the truth. We failed our ideals. The words of our leaders could no longer be trusted,” he said. Well, there is a real similarity between the two wars. The Vietnam War was lost largely because Leftists in the United States turned public opinion against the war, and they are attempting to do exactly the same thing with the war in Iraq.

In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency’s top official in Baghdad warned recently that the security situation is deteriorating and is likely to worsen, with escalating violence and more sectarian clashes. How could any President have let this happen?

It’s quite simple, Senator. When you bloviate about how the war in Iraq was a fraud made up in Texas, you undermine our soldiers and their jobs. When you criticize everything the President says and does, you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And when you call for a quick withdrawal, you spread the word to the murderous thugs converging on Iraq that they need only to wait us out, and they’ll be back in power.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has announced that he will fight against the coming elections: “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology.” Congratulations, Senator Kennedy; you have just aligned yourself with a head-chopping murderer who wants Americans dead. Not just out of Iraq, but dead.

Regardless of his political stance, however, Senator Kennedy is free to speak out as he sees fit. That is a blessing of living in this great nation. President Bush has explained our national goal further: “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” In a few days, Iraq will join Afghanistan in casting free elections.

Fifty million people to date have escaped the oppressive control of tyrants because of President Bush’s vision. Let freedom ring!

The other day I came across a list of reasons why President Bush should not be re-elected. Here’s the list:

  1. Bush is destroying workers’ rights and outsourcing jobs instead of protecting the right to organize and creating new jobs rebuilding schools, bridges, roads and hospitals.
  2. Bush is privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education with phony reforms instead of enacting health care for all, protecting retirement funds and full funding for public education through college.
  3. Bush is bankrupting the Federal Government with giant tax cuts for the very rich and super-funds to the military instead of securing the budget for human needs by taxing the rich and spending on human needs.
  4. Bush is rolling back civil rights gains instead of enforcing and expanding affirmative action to end racism in all areas of life.
  5. Bush is curtailing women’s rights and choice by undermining Roe v. Wade instead of upholding the right to choice and ending the gender wage gap.
  6. Bush is abusing immigrant workers in low-wage jobs instead of providing a clear path to citizenship and equal rights.
  7. Bush is exploiting and ruining the environment by protecting corporate polluters instead of conserving our natural resources for the public good.
  8. Bush’s war in Iraq is a disaster for our security and economy. He is pushing for more preemptive wars and for first strike nuclear military policy instead of negotiations and cooperation utilizing the UN.
  9. Bush is denying civil liberties and free speech in the name of fighting terrorism instead of repealing the USA Patriot Act and helping cities, towns and states fund firefighters and police.
  10. Bush discriminates against Gays and Lesbians with a Constitutional Amendment instead of expanding civil rights and liberties for all.

If you have been following the latest election cycle as I have, you’d recognize these are reasons being used by Democrat Senator John Kerry’s campaign against President Bush (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), but there is one catch — this list didn’t come from the Democratic National Committee site. It came from the Communist Party USA site. There is virtually no difference between the Democratic objections to President Bush and his administration, and the Communist ones. Why? The answer is simple enough — the modern Democratic party is Marxist by its very nature.

The American Left didn’t start out Marxist, but it has increasingly become so in the past decades. I pointed out before that the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto have been fully accepted by the Left (and, sadly, by the Right in too many instances). But the Marxist rot has spread the farthest and been accepted the most by the Democrats and the Left.

Numerous pundits have noted a double standard between how members of the Left and Right are treated. Republican Senator Trent Lott made an off-the-cuff remark about fellow-Republican Senator Strom Thurmond’s presidential run of four decades earlier, and the subsequent backlash and cries of “Racist!” from the Left forced him to step down from his position of power in the Senate. Yet Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan in his past, and he recently used the word “nigger” multiple times on national TV. There were no similar calls of outrage and horror from the Left, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) dismissed this obvious demonstration of racism. Former President Clinton has been accused of multiple rapes and has confessed to multiple adulterous affairs, yet the National Organization of Women (NOW) has not only excused these actions, they actually stood by Clinton during the exposure of his affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. The Left proudly claims to champion the rights of racial minorities and women, but willingly accepts bigotry and misogyny when it comes from within their own ranks. Lawrence Auster explains why this double standard exists: the American Left has become Marxist.

The basic reason for the “liberal” double standard has already been alluded to. It is that today’s “liberals” are really leftists who have rejected the older liberal belief in a shared equality of citizens before the law and have embraced the socialist vision of “equality as a fact and equality as a result,” as Lyndon Johnson famously put it. Since people are unequal in their ability to accumulate property, as Hayek argued in the Mirage of Social Justice, equality of results can only be pursued by treating people unequally. This is the origin of the double standard.

Still don’t believe me? I have already demonstrated the link between the Communist Party USA and the Democratic party in their shared anti-Bush message, and I previously wrote how the DNC fully embraces the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto, but you can also see it in some of the Democrat campaign slogans. Senator John Edwards’ “Two Americas” speech has been used repeatedly on the campaign trail:

Today under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one. One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward. One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks.

Tell me whether there is any material difference between Senator Edwards’ stump speech and this quote by Joe Cannon, from the 1948 Socialist Workers’ Party convention speech:

There are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them. One is the America of the imperialists — of the little clique of capitalists, landlords and militarists, who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear. There is the other America — the America of the workers and farmers and the ‘little people.’

Another slogan for the Kerry/Edwards ticket, “Let America Be America Again,” was taken from the first line of a poem by Langston Hughes — a known Communist activist. This particular poem shows the poet’s admiration of Joseph Stalin, the most murderous of all the Soviet leaders. Senator Kerry wrote the preface to a recent re-release of Hughes’ poetry, so he seems to have no difficulty with the very pro-Communist flavor of Hughes’ work.

Speaking of Senator Kerry, the Left is rallying around him because he is their appointed leader. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started to voice its concerns and opposition to Senator Kerry’s Navy record and service in Vietnam, the Left responded not by refuting these claims, but by launching attacks on the Swift Vets themselves. Apparently it is OK for the self-proclaimed “party of the little guy” to attack the little guys of the Swift Vets group when they dared to challenge the Left’s anointed leader. Any lie, dishonesty, sneaky behavior, or illegal act is defensible and right if it is done to uphold Marxist ideals.

This is why Leftists don’t care about their own hypocrisy. This is why it is useless to expose the Left’s double standard. Since treating people differently to achieve equality of result fits with Marxist ideals, the hypocrisy of their actions simply doesn’t matter. It is part of what they must do to achieve their desired ends. I believe in calling a spade a spade, so from now on, I will stop calling radical Democrats “the Left” or “the liberal Left” and call them by their true name: the Marxist Left.

As I type this, the Marxist Left is being exposed again. On October 14th, just a few weeks before the national election in November, the Democrat election playbook was leaked to the press. Chapter 2 of the playbook directs Democrats to “launch a pre-emptive strike” if no sign of voter intimidation appears. In other words, if nothing goes wrong, the Marxist Left is to go ballistic and claim voter intimidation anyway. You can see this in the shrill verbiage from the Marxist Left on the subject of the 2000 vote in Florida. They claim that a million blacks were disenfranchised, but nobody can point to a single black person who was prevented from voting. But since it assists their goal of regaining power, it’s acceptable for the Democrats to lie. In a further attempt to muddy the waters, the “Colorado Election Day Manual” says to round up the useful idiots and parade them before the media: in other words, describe “party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting”. The truth doesn’t matter to these people; all that matters is getting and keeping power. That is the essence of Marxism.