Friday, September 27, 2013

Nice Day for a Filibuster

Senator Ted Cruz
Senate TV/AP Photo
It was a good 21 hours 19 minutes. It deserves comment. I like a good, real filibuster—as opposed to the virtual kind the Senate has done over the years where they say, “You don’t have a supermajority of votes to end a filibuster, so let’s say we’re filibustering and call it a day,” without actually doing the long talking part.

This wasn’t officially a filibuster, technically. It was a long—very long—speech, calling attention to the issue and actually talking about it.
I listened in here and there, and always Senator Ted Cruz was making cogent arguments against Obamacare—except for the break he took to read Green Eggs and Ham to his children for their bedtime. I also heard Senator Mike Lee of Utah, taking a turn, well into the night (about quarter till 3:00 AM EDT) before I turned off my computer for the night.
It’s kind of funny that so much vitriol has been aimed at Cruz and not at Lee, since they were partners in this. I’m not sure why, except that the liberal media is starting to do a hatchet job on Cruz lest he begin to appear presidential. They’ve tried to portray him as crazed, extremist, and unstable.
But if you watch someone stay calm, reasonable, and cogent for 21 straight hours, without food or rest—and he looks a lot better than Jimmy Stewart at the end of the filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—then you lose credibility when you claim he’s unstable and crazed.
One of the highlights came in the last hour. Senator Dick Durbin might have been thinking he was on more equal ground taking on a very tired Senator Cruz. But he got schooled. Durbin wanted Cruz to admit to wanting to deprive 50 million Americans of their ability to have health insurance, while he and his family enjoyed the very full coverage available to Congressman. Cruz said he’d answer the question as soon as Durbin answered the three questions Cruz had asked him and Durbin had sidestepped. And then Durbin, thinking he’d gotten him where he wanted him, insisted he was like a witness refusing to answer the question in a trial.
What Durbin forgot was that you never ask a witness a question you don’t know the answer to. Cruz’s answer: “No, Senator, I’m eligible for the congressional plan—but I’m not enrolled in it.” Ouch! Cruz also got Durbin to admit that the way he planned to handle problems with Obamacare was case-by-case, giving exemptions to his cronies as they are asked for, while the American people without powerful friends will be stuck, as Cruz later described it, not just riding in coach, but in the baggage compartment.
The purpose of the marathon speech was to prevent discussion in favor of funding Obamacare, and Cruz was successful at that. He set up circumstances to separate those voting to shove Obamacare down the throats of Americans and those fighting against that monstrosity.
Cloture on the bill is the vote that matters. It will probably happen around noon Friday (possibly as late as Saturday), probably by the time you read this.
The Senate requires 60 votes to close debate on a bill, or cloture. But it only requires a simple majority of 51 votes on an amendment. So if Harry Reid gets cloture, then he will file one amendment to the continuing resolution bill sent up from the House; the amendment will be to eliminate the exclusion of Obamacare from the continuing resolution funding, so it gets fully funded along with the rest of government. And a simple majority of 51 (all Democrat) votes would be the pre-decided Senate vote.
So a vote for cloture by any Republican is a vote to allow Democrats the power to ruin our lives with Obamacare without any Republican opposition. No Republican who claims to be against Obamacare can make such a vote without their betrayal becoming obvious, and some (John McCain, for example) are furious about being put under that scrutiny.
Any Republican who votes for cloture, thus voting for funding Obamacare, deserves to be replaced in the next election. In my state, I’m totally confident in Senator Cruz, but I’m still watching Senator Cornyn; I've already met a candidate running against Cornyn. Very Texan, a little Quixotic, but I'm willing to take a serious look at him if I need to.
Meanwhile, if, by some unexpected miracle, all the Republicans stand firm against funding Obamacare, it puts the Democrats on the hot seat. Several (I think seven) Democrat senators are up for reelection in states that favored Romney in the last presidential election; the people in those states already lean red. If it becomes crystal clear that those senators are at fault for force-feeding us Obamacare, dragging down our economy and our health care as a result, there’s a good chance they lose their seats. Under those high pressure circumstances, a few Democrats might defect, but not if Republicans aren't standing united.
The more likely scenario is that cloture passes with a handful of GOP votes, Obamacare gets put back in the bill, and it gets returned to the House—with just a couple of days left before the current continuing resolution expires. It’s sort of a hot potato game: whoever gets stuck with the bill when the timer goes off gets the blame for shutting down the government.
Of course, government shutdown is not that big a deal. It has happened many times over the decades, with almost no notice. The world doesn’t end. Essential services continue uninterrupted. Which ought to be a clue—if it’s not essential, just don’t let government do it. And, as I said Monday, the 1995 shutdown is remembered as a PR nightmare, but it was a net plus for Republicans, despite the blame heaped upon them.
Since blame gets heaped on Republicans regardless, what could be the harm in standing firm—especially when standing firm against Obamacare is what the vast majority of Americans want and need?
So it’s time to call/contact your senators, and then your congressmen, and pray for God to guide them, to regain the blessed constitutional republic God granted us, after much sacrifice of blood and treasure, more than two centuries ago.

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