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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

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07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

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07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  The GOP's Filibuster Hypocrisy
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U.S. DEMOCRACY DYSFUNCTIONAL:

The GOP's Filibuster Hypocrisy

by Robert Parry
9 February 2009

Though seemingly forgotten by most TV talking heads, it was only three years ago, when the Republicans had control of both the White House and Congress – and “filibuster” was a dirty word.

It was usually coupled with “obstructionist” amid demands that any of George W. Bush’s proposals deserved “an up-or-down vote.”

Yet now, with the Democrats holding the White House and Congress, the Republicans and the Washington press corps have come to view the filibuster fondly, as a valued American tradition, a time-honored part of a healthy legislative process.

Today, it’s seen as a good thing that Democrats must muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass almost anything.

When the TV pundits talk about Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan squeaking through the Senate, they're actually referring to a vote that might fall  in the range of 60 or more yes votes to perhaps 38 no’s, a three-touchdown “squeaker.”

The only thing close about the vote is whether the package can overcome a Republican filibuster and get 60 votes for “cloture.” To reach this super-majority, Democrats have been forced to accept a higher percentage of tax cuts, even if leading economists consider tax cuts one of the least effective ways of stimulating the moribund economy.

Yet, this anti-democratic fact about the GOP strategy – that it seeks to frustrate the will of the American majority, which rejected the Republicans and their policies in the last two U.S. elections – is rarely mentioned in the news.

Nor is the fact that Republicans railed against even a hint of a filibuster when the Democrats were in the minority just a few years ago.

Back then, when the Republicans controlled everything, the big story was how a threatened Democratic filibuster against, say, one of Bush’s right-wing judicial nominations would be met by the Republican “nuclear option” – using a majority-vote on a rule change to eliminate the filibuster permanently.

For instance, in 2006, when Bush wanted to put Samuel Alito on the U.S. Supreme Court, the move amounted to a direct threat to the Republic. Alito was a staunch believer in the imperial presidency, a promoter of a “unitary executive” who would wield unlimited powers at a time of war – and the “war on terror” promised to be an endless war.

If confirmed, Alito would join three other justices – John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – who shared his extreme views, and possibly another, Anthony Kennedy, who was considered only slightly more moderate.

In effect, the Alito nomination raised the specter of five right-wing justices effectively gutting the U.S. Constitution and its checks and balances in favor of Bush’s personal rule.

The Republic in the Balance

With the future of the American Republic in the balance and Bush short of 60 votes in favor of Alito, a filibuster could have stopped this radical nomination in its tracks and could have forced Bush to select a less extreme nominee.

Many in the Democratic “base” urged Senate Democrats to use the filibuster at this critical moment – a time when Bush was viewing himself as a new-age monarch and his political aides were fantasizing about a “permanent Republican majority,” transforming the United States into a virtual one-party state with the Democrats kept around as a cosmetic appendage.

As this drama played out, the Washington news media weighed in heavily against a Democratic filibuster, essentially repeating Republican talking points about the need to give the President’s nominee an up-or-down vote and bemoaning the anti-democratic nature of the filibuster.

Republican leaders thundered that any use of the filibuster against Alito or other Bush judicial nominees would force them to go “nuclear” by outlawing filibusters forever. Then, the Republicans could ram through whomever – or whatever – they wanted.

Rather than call the Republicans’ bluff, “moderate” Democratic senators joined a bipartisan group called the “Gang of 14,” which agreed to forego filibusters except in “extraordinary circumstances.” And despite the alarm of many Americans about Bush’s moves to eradicate the Republic, this “gang” did not believe Alito’s confirmation reached the “extraordinary” standard.

So, when a few Democratic senators led by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts tried to mount a filibuster, the Senate Democratic leadership refused to put up a fight, even as their former standard bearer was mocked by Republicans as a “Swiss Miss” for first urging the filibuster while he was attending an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland.

Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan piled on Kerry at a White House press briefing. “I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps,” McClellan laughed.

In support of his filibuster, Kerry could line up only 25 votes, while the Republicans amassed 72 votes for cloture – a dozen more than the 60 needed to shut off debate. Those votes included 19 Democrats.

On the final confirmation vote, however, Alito was approved by a much smaller margin, 58-42, meaning that he could have been kept off the Supreme Court if all those who considered him a poor choice had backed the filibuster.

[As for the fate of the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy turned out to be less of an extremist than some Republicans had hoped. He joined with more moderate justices in key 5-to-4 opinions that rebuffed President Bush’s assertions of unlimited powers.]

Reversing Majorities

Despite the timidity of Senate Democrats in the Alito battle, an energized Democratic “base” – joined by Republican constitutionalists – fought on against the “permanent-Republican-majority” dreams of Bush, Karl Rove and the neoconservatives. In November 2006, the Republicans were repudiated at the polls.

Suddenly in the congressional minority, the Republicans did a flip-flop on the filibuster, discovering the high principles behind the tactic. The GOP used the filibuster routinely in 2007 and 2008 to block Democratic initiatives, especially any challenges to Bush’s expansive claims of executive authority.

Typical of the modern Washington press corps, its leading voices changed, too, joining the Republican chorus hailing the filibuster as an honored tradition of democracy and finding value in the need for the Democrats to muster 60 Senate votes to pass any significant bill.

Today, the press corps continues in that pattern, forgetting the GOP’s earlier contempt for the filibuster and treating its use by the Republican minority against the stimulus bill as normal.

There are rarely any comments about obstructionism, nor are the Republicans compared to the Southern segregationists who famously used the filibuster to resist civil rights laws in the 1950s and 1960s.

Given this pass by the press, Republicans are making the filibuster their chief weapon in pressuring Obama and congressional Democratic to accept more of a Republican-style stimulus bill with less spending and more tax cuts, regardless of whether that represents the best hope for the U.S. economy.

But the stimulus battle is likely to be only the first taste of the GOP strategy to hobble the Obama presidency. The Republicans can be expected to use the filibuster again and again to prevent many of the social and economic changes that the American voters endorsed in November 2008, policies like national health insurance and spending on long-neglected domestic needs.

In this obstructionism, the Republicans appear to have a powerful ally in the Washington press corps that – with few exceptions – treats the GOP’s promiscuous use of filibusters as some responsible application of a time-honored tradition. The press also forgets to remind the U.S. public that just a few years ago, the Republicans hated filibusters.

[For more of Consortiumnews.com’s coverage of the Alito nomination, see “Alito & the Point of No Return,” Or take a look at another historical moment “When Republicans Loved a Filibuster.” Or see our book,Neck Deep.]


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on February 9, 2009.

 

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