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senate comity, the filibuster, and star trek: a taste of armageddon

i really love the word "comity" in the context of the senate. it's the one truly bipartisan value all senators agree on -- the notion that whatever rotten things politicians say about each other, whatever political disagreements, innocents may be imprisoned, children may starve, the just may suffer, and death may rain from above, but still, senators will play squash together amicably.

as a bonus, the word, when spoken, often sounds quite like "comedy".

delicious, that.

"senate comity" is usually trotted out as the reason not to "go nuclear" and end, or even slightly modify, the filibuster. the idea is that changing the senate rules will so enrage the republicans that they might stop playing squash with us.

so the consumer financial protection bureau can be kneecapped by filibuster, huge portions of the judiciary can remain vacant by filibuster, reasonable legislation and appointments can be delayed -- but we do nothing about it so a few senators can continue to play squash together. real people can suffer, entire sections of law may remain unenforced, case after case is stalled, but a few senators continue to play squash together, so i guess all is well.


about 45 years ago, there was an episode of star trek (the old series) called "a taste of armageddon", wherein our beloved crew visit a planet enveloped in a kind of virtual war. the computer simulates the war and determines the daily casualties, and each side executes the victims that the computer has determined the other side would have killed. the idea was to remove all the inconvenience of war, so that buildings aren't destroyed, and life is quite normal, at least up until you or someone you love is expunged.

eventually, captain kirk, in blatant defiance of the famous non-interference prime directive, destroys the computer. evidently, while this computer has had no downtime in centuries, they nevertheless have no backup system, and are forced to either negotiate for peace or fight war the old-fashioned way.

the filibuster seems to have become the senate's version of a taste of Armageddon. they can wage political war with real casualties but without the ugliness, the noise, the destructiveness, and the messiness of actual political war. no one has to stand for hours, no one really has to pay a political price, in some cases no one even need reveal their name. in creating such a system, the senate falls victim to a fate similar to the planets in the star trek episode -- mired in endless war with heavy casualties yet no compelling drive to sue for peace.

the time has come to squash the machine. the anonymous and paper filibusters have proven far too damaging to be allowed to continue. senators simply cannot play enough squash to justify leaving hundreds of posts vacant, often for years.

if the filibuster is deemed worthy of another chance, then those choosing to wield that weapon must be made to put their political necks on the line. it doesn't need to be specifically a standing filibuster (i don't think making the senate more like an episode of "survivor" is necessarily an improvement) but it does need to be something politically difficult to initiate and maintain. i can be flexible on the particulars but not on the principle.

and if comity is a casualty, so be it. the loss of a few senate squash matches is a small price to pay for getting a more functional government.

i have my doubts about gravity because newton was a slave-trading heretic

and computers? are you kidding? turing was teh gay!

game theory? oh come ON! have you seen "a beautiful mind"??

i'm going to be researching a lot more about the people who come up with all these wacky ideas, some of which we've been brainwashed with in school and college. if the people behind these ideas and figures and such are not morally right, religiously right, sexually right, clean as an arrow and pure of soul, i'm not really going to believe any of their so-called "physics" or "math" or "facts" or whatever else they're peddling!

ben franklin was a notorious philanderer! what did he get his mitts on?

ok, no more crap about "obama caving". it's called a trial balloon. COMPLAIN TO CONGRESS.

complain to the white house.


obama negotiates. negotiations go nowhere if you just stare at each other and say "no".
so boner made some proposals. if a deal is to be had, both sides have to look to give the other side SOMETHING to save face with their constituents.

at some point, someone suggested the contents of the trial balloon we're all hearing about an not liking. obama tells boner he'll think about it, i.e., leak it to the public and see how they react.


obama needs to be able to go back to boner and say "sorry, i'd love to help you out but look, democrats in congres and the white house got these brazillion emails and phone calls and texts and posts and twits. my constituents won't let me agree to this. i tried, but now YOU gotta give ME something. THAT is how a president negotiates.



this has been a public service announcement.
thank you for your time and i approve of this message.

the election will determine who will read to ya, scripts according to the media.

their determined disdain for figures and facts.
their obsequious obsession with character attacks.

their total tolerance of lies.
their focused fixation on sighs.

so little attention is paid to the fact that the person elected could quite literally change the world, in ways big and small, in reach near and far.

and yet instead of insisting on coherent plans the candidates would take to the white house, the media dwells on sweaters and sighs, smirks and quirks, who looks silly in a tank and whose poll numbers sank.

no, we're not to care about what they do, only how they sound, how they look.
a strong-sounding leader is what's important, not whether or not he's a crook.

disastrous policy advanced by a powerful presence cannot fail,
but a panacea from a shrill voice is run out of town on a rail.

i can no longer give them a free pass.
liberal media my ass.

rmoney to balance the ticket by choosing....

a taxpayer!

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