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Given the unwillingness of the Democratic leadership of the US Senate to force the Republicans to actually filibuster, perhaps we can look back at a time when a President and his allies in the Senate were willing to go to the mat for something they deemed important.  Today is an appropriate day to do, because on this day in 1964 the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights act was finally ended with a cloture vote.  A bill that had first been introduced into the House after John F. Kennedy's June 12, 1963 speech on Civil Rights would finally become law on July 2 of the following year.  

There were many delays.  Judge Howard Smith of Virginia, chair of the House Rules committee and an ardent segregationist, bottled the bill up.  The sponsor Emanuel Celler of Brooklyn, chair of the Judiciary Committee, worked long and hard to round up a sufficient number of Members so that a discharge petition would pass, and rather than suffer that embarrassment, Smith allowed the bill out of committee where it passed the whole House with 290 votes on Feb. 10, 1964.

And then it went to the Senate.

One needs to remember the time. The strongest opposition was from key Democrats, who due to the "solid South" controlled many key committees.  It did not matter that President Johnson had been Majority Leader nor that he had been close friends with some of those Southerners, particularly Richard Russell of Georgia.   They were adamantly opposed to civil rights legislation.

Johnson's successor as Majority Leader was Mike Mansfield of MT, one of the great senators of the 20th century, later a US Ambassador to Japan who truly loved by his host nation.  Mansfield was born in New York City, but grew up in Great Falls Montana, dropping out of school to enlist in the Navy at age 14.  He later served in both the Army and the Marine Corps (there was no separate Air Force until after WWII).  He worked as a minor and mining engineer, studied on his own, and never having attended high school was admitted by examination, first to Montana School of Mines and then to University of Montana, where he earned BA and MA degrees and taught Latin American and Far Eastern History before he was elected to Congress in 1942.  

Mansfield knew that if the bill sent over by the House ever went to Senate Judiciary Committee, arch-segregationist James Eastland would ensure that it never again emerged to see the light of day.  He pulled a parliamentary maneuver by avoiding a second reading of the bill and managed to send it directly to the floor for debate, although even this maneuver was briefly subjected to a filibuster.

It is upon the bill's arrival on the floor that the real battle began. The date was March 30, and the opposition was led by the formidable Richard Russell, perhaps the most influential member of the Senate for much of his tenure, a man who had helped Johnson rise to the position of majority leader, and whose close friendship with Johnson survived the Civil Rights Act, only to be severed on their disagreement over the nomination of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice in 1969.  

Russell was a racist, one reason his brief attempt to seek the Democratic nomination for president had foundered in 1952.  One need only consider this famous statement he made with respect to the Civil Rights Bill that now was pending before the Senate:

We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our states.

Let me make a brief excursus.  That language about rejecting social equality and intermingling, especially the former, is to me quite parallel with some of the language currently used in opposition to full rights for our GLBT citizenry, whether it is questions of marriage equality, coverage under hate crimes legislation, DADT, or so many other areas in which some of our people still suffer discrimination and inequality.  I am old enough to remember the nastiness of the opposition during the period we describe as the Era of Civil Rights - perhaps there are too many who have forgotten how embarrassing to this nation the language - and actions - of the opposition were.

Returning to the bill - now filibustering began in earnest. After more than 50 working days, including several Saturdays, Mansfield, Republican Leader Ev Dirksen and his assistant Tom Kuchel of California, cobbled together a substitute that while somewhat weaker than what had passed the House seemed to be capable of drawing sufficient votes to break the filibuster.  The last major speaker for those filibustering was an ex clansman from W Virginia named Robert Byrd, who on the morning of June 10 ended more than 14 hours of filibustering.   The manager of the bill was Hubert Humphrey of MN, who the previous day had announced that he had the 67 votes for cloture.

But people were not sure.  Some of those votes were considered soft, perhaps  Perhaps one of the most important single actions in the history of the Senate occurred.   Senator Clair Engle of California was dying of the brain cancer that would finally claim his life in July.  He was carried into the Senate for the vote, but was no longer capable of speech.  When the clerk called his name, there was silence. He lifted his arm, which he was barely able to do, and pointed at his eye to indicate his affirmative vote - Aye.   The cloture motion passed 71-29.  

Remember, there were six of that majority considered soft.  Had Engle not been able to vote, and all six had refused to support the cloture effort, it would have failed with only 66 votes.

The substitute measure was agreed to in relatively short order, and on this day 45 years ago the final measure cleared the Senate, the House chose to support the Senate version and on July 2 Johnson signed it into law.

Why do I recount this history?  We seem to have a reluctance to force the Republicans to filibuster.   Even when Franken joins the Senate, as I expect will happen soon enough, the Democrats cannot be sure to have 60 votes on every issue.  They will lose some of their members, say Ben Nelson of NE, on some issues, and they cannot guarantee to offset that with the very few remaining moderate Republicans, notably the two women from Maine.  

Yet if something is important enough to our society, to our nation, should we not be willing to force those who are being obstructionist to place them in the position of being the ones preventing progress, whether it be on health care, on equal rights for all Americans, on energy and environment?  Will we see a president committed enough to something to be willing to place his political capital and prestige behind an issue, to force that issue to be fully vetted?  

I understand that some think it is too early in the administration to bring the mechanisms of government to a halt over any one issue.  And besides, none of the issues has had the kind of presence in the national attention that Civil Rights did.  After all, Kennedy did not propose the bill until 1963, well after things like Little Rock and Freedom Rides and University of Alabama with George Wallace demagaguingand University of Mississippi with James Meredith needed armed Federal marshalls to register. Even so, the bill was going no where, which is why on August 28 over 250,000 of us came to Washington - that March was to pressure Congress to act.  Still it did not, and it is only after the assassination of Kennedy that we are able to really see the bill move forward.

Passage of a bill is by itself not enough.  The Civil Rights Act became law on July 2, 1964.  Sunday March 7 of the following year John Lewis almost died at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma Alabama.  That led Lyndon Johnson to make his famous speech on March 15.  It is worth reading all of his words , or even listening to the audio here.

Let me offer some of his words, in contrast to what I quoted from Richard Russell.  

But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed, more than a hundred years since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight.

It was more than a hundred years ago that Abraham Lincoln, a great President of another party, signed the Emancipation Proclamation; but emancipation is a proclamation, and not a fact. A century has passed, more than a hundred years, since equality was promised. And yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise. And the promise is un-kept.

There is more.  The words Johnson spoke about ongoing inequality certainly still apply to many whose rights were at issue in 1964 and 1965.  And as there was a history of prejudice and fear that had lead to the denial of those rights then, and to some degree still today, for African Americans, we have similar histories of prejudice and fear with respect to others - of national origin, of religion, of gender, and of sexual orientation.

But we also have an even more basic issue, and it is of economic equity.   Johnson noted this as well in his speech.  Let me offer two more quick snips:

How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we've wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

This great, rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all, all black and white, all North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They're our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor. And these enemies too -- poverty, disease, and ignorance: we shall overcome.

Johnson gave that speech to advocate for the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  One of the differences between the original and substitute versions of the Civil Rights Bill had been the removal of protection of voting rights, and even then it was difficult to get it through the Senate.

Bullies succeed when they are not opposed. They use fear and intimidation.  And when we do not stand up to them, they become bolder, more arrogant, and will attempt to obstruct even more those things that might weaken their control.  Allowing the obstructionists of the other party to use holds and threats of filibusters to prevent action for which the American people expressed their strong support by their votes in November is to betray the audacity of their hopes.  Besides, Johnson needed 67 votes, and Obama only needs 60.

As a nation and a society we have come a long way from when in much of the country political participation was limited to white men of property.  We have expanded legal protections and political participation greatly in the 233 years since we declared ourselves free of British rule.  The progress has been neither continuous nor has it avoided regression.  After a period in the last century in which we saw a real expansion of individual rights and the opportunity for economic advancement for most of our people, we have beginnin by the penultimate decade of that previous century seen a slippage, particularly in economic fairness, but also in the willingness of the majority of the American people to undertake the challenge of expanding political and social equity for all of our citizens.  

During the Civil Rights movement we saw people force the government to address long-festering issues.  We had a press that focused the nation's attentions on the well-justified grievances, and the nation saw the horror of hatred and violence and discrimination.  And some political leaders were willing to act, to force opponents to put their hatred and fear on full display.  That includes forcing a filibuster, and thereby forcing some weaker members of the US Senate to pick sides, to let their constituents and the nation answer the question, which side are you on?

The country may be differently organized.  The media functions in different ways, but that does not mean we cannot bring the issues to the forefront. We the people can work with those in the government to try to address these issues, including demanding that those actions be taken to force our elected representatives to show whether they stand with what the American people want or not.

Is it time for a filibuster?  If so on what issue or issues?  

I offer no answer to that question.  But in looking back 45 years, sometimes insisting upon a filibuster can force people to act, to start the process of overcoming the obstructionism, to move the nation in the direction it needs to go.

Lyndon Johnson was a man from the South, yet he had come to understand that we had to address the issues of fairness, of equity, that had been festering in their opposites for too long.  

He had courage.  And he spoke with the words of a hope that in its own day was as audacious as anything we might offer today, words at the heart of that civil rights movement.

WE SHALL OVERCOME

Peace

Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:41 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  my rights depend upon your rights (59+ / 0-)

    if you lack liberty, so do I

    and for liberty and rights and fairness and equity we should be willing to take a stand.

    If the words I offer can in any way advance that goal, then they are worth the effort I put into them, no matter how few people may read them, and no matter how much better others may express the ideas.  My responsibility is to do what I can.

    Peace.

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:41:20 AM PDT

    •  This is a great history (5+ / 0-)

      It recalls a day when our political leaders were willing to break arms in the Senate to force these things through - when a threat of a filibuster was not met with a fold but a called bluff.

      Politics isn't about caving when you "don't have the votes." Politics is about finding the votes. If Obama wants health care with a robust public option he can make it happen. Ben Nelson can be broken. Olympia Snowe can be broken. Susan Collins can be broken. All politicians have their pressure points.

      LBJ found those of the Senators in question in 1964. Obama can too. It is merely a question of will.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:21:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well done, however I'd like to give (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hillbilly Dem, jgtidd

      more credit to Ev Dirksen of Illinois, who really did yeoman work in getting the act written and passed.  As Minority Leader he engaged in a tremendous amount of arm-twisting (remember this is when the Dems controlled the southern Senate seats) to bring his caucus into line to obtain cloture.  It shows what happens when you have a Minority Leader who believes in doing the right thing, not merely defeating the other party.

    •  You Can't Force That Kind of Filibuster Anymore (0+ / 0-)

      Far be it from me to in anyway defend Harry Reid's indefensible leadership of the Senate. And I agree that Republicans should be forced to actually filibuster.

      But "actually filibustering" today is a lot easier than it was in 1964.  

      Those seeking to break an actual filibuster today need to find 60 votes to bring about cloture.  An actual filibuster may create some bad publicity for the filibustering party, but it's pretty damn easy to pull off.

      Senate rules have changed frequently, but from 1959 through 1975 (i.e. when the events you discuss took place), all you needed to break a filibuster was a 2/3 vote of those present in the chamber. While you only needed 34 Senators to mount a filibuster, those Senators all had to be physically present, or the filibuster could be broken with fewer than 67 Senators.

      When the Senate reduced the number of Senators needed for cloture to 3/5 (or 60) in 1975, they changed this rule. Since then, cloture has required not 3/5 of Senators present, but 3/5 of Senators sworn.  This made it much harder to break a filibuster.

      So while this history is interesting, and Reid deserves plenty of criticism for his handing of the Senate, it isn't 1964 and that filibuster couldn't be reproduced even if Reid wanted to do so.

      (Incidentally, the Senate rules do need to be changed. And while a return to counting the Senators present would be an improvement, simply eliminating the filibuster would be even better, IMO.)

      Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House. - Bob Herbert

      by GreenSooner on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:40:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, my rights depend on your (0+ / 0-)

      obligation to respect and honor them.  Rights by themselves are as nothing.  All of us, and you are steadily at the forefront, need to insure that our agents of government meet their obligations to the Constitution.

      There are some who believe that a public official is a ruler; some don't even know the meaning of public servant.  We need to remind them and those that fail to carry out their obligations need to be removed.

      Of course, there's the problem that a certain percentage of our population do not want to be obliged to monitor how our agents perform and many an agent is quite content with that.  It's a free country, so people don't have to participate, if they don't want to.  But, that's why we appoint and pay agents of government to take care of those things most people prefer not to do on their own.

      Traditional Democrats were inclined to tout their ability to do what people CAN'T do for themselves.  CAN or CAN'T isn't the point.  Clearly, people can shoot their enemies, but some of us don't want to, unless there's an objective assessment that it needs to be done.  It's in this sense that I say we have government to do what we don't want to do ourselves.

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:53:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From One Teacher to Another... (15+ / 0-)

    Well done.  Also, when are they going to take Richard Russell's name off of the Senate building?

  •  I remember those years well. (11+ / 0-)

    I was way too young to march on Washington in August 1963, but I was raised in a pro-civil rights family in Atlanta, Ga. Both my parents were native Southerners, BTW, and my Dad's people were New Dealers. My mom had a lot of segregationist relatives but my dad won her over.

    It also helped that our church belonged to a pro-civil rights denomination, one of the predecessors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ECLA), while many Southern churches either ignored the issue or were blatantly on the other side.

    Thanks for posting this, teacherken.

    i can't watch [Obama] speak on tv for more than 5 minutes or else what he's saying starts to make sense to me. It's very scary.

    by Kimball Cross on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:50:21 AM PDT

    •  I remember it well... (4+ / 0-)

      Hubert Humphrey, we sure could use you today!

      Moderation in all things-NOT

      by Julie Gulden on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:21:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was in NC high school when desegregation... (6+ / 0-)

      took place between my sophomore and junior years (summer of 1965).  I grew up in a small town in southeastern North Carolina that was only big enough to have one "white" high school, and one "negro" high school.  My town and the local power/political structure were decidedly NOT "progressive" even by the standards of the time - my area was deservedly known as a sleepy agricultural-based backwater.  

      NEVERTHELESS, SOMEHOW our local school administrators and school board had the practical wisdom to get out in front of the inevitability of legally required integration rather than digging in for resistance.  The way they went about it may seem in hindsight extremely - the first year, they transferred a sprinkling of blacks to the white high school who just by coincidence, happened to be good athletes instantly ready to improve our school's rather mediocre varsity sports teams.  Then, they imported some of the academically brighter kids to the white high school (there was absolutely NO reverse importation of white kids to the negro high school the first two or three years).

      BTW, the school board took advantage of another fortunate coincidence - the same year (1965) when integration started in our high school just happened to be a year after a school bond referendum had passed to build two new high schools to replace the outmoded respective buildings - one for a new white high school in the entirely white northern side of the town, one for a new black high school in the mostly black southern side of town.  The initial importing of a handful of athletes to the white high school coincided with the opening of both new high schools in 1965.  The significance of this symmetrical piece of geography and dual facilities in our small town for eventual integration is that it facilitated a uniquely neat opportunity for completing integration three or four years later - the "white" high school became the senior high school (grades 10, 11, 12) for the entire city, the "black" high school became the junior high school (grades 7, 8, 9) for the entire city, and no lawsuits or court orders were ever invoked or involved that our town's school system was ever involved with.  This path obviously was not available everywhere, nor would it have worked everywhere, and it's easy to look askance at the cynicism and even some implied racism in how they went about it...but nonetheless it worked and was peacefully accepted by a community that could easily have been led to dig in with fierce resistance had community leaders been so inclined.  It also meant that the initial wave of black kids rather easily won acceptance by most of the white kids in the school.

      That this took place in an enormously different era of southern society is a huge understatement, and this account should be understood in that context, rather than what would seem acceptable or not now.

  •  From health care reform, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Eddie C, Julie Gulden

    to legislation that rolls back this country's contributions to climate change, to equal rights for the GLBT community, we need a president and congressional leaders who will do what it takes - rules manipulations in congress, arm-twisting and veto threats from the White House, executive orders where possible, and threats to the vulnerable sitting lawmakers of both parties - to enact what this country needs to save our future.

    Bipartisanship will work only when both the president and the opposing party realize that it's not at all necessary.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:03:22 AM PDT

    •  I will quibble slightly (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eddie C, Julie Gulden, mkor7, drache

      given the opposition of the Southern Senate Democrats, cloture was not possible without the Senate Republicans.

      When I originally posted I accidently left out the name of Ev Dirksen, Republican leader of the Senate.  Mansfield worked with him and with Republican whip Kuchel (who had been appointed by Earl Warren to succeed Richard Nixon) to craft the compromise, in order to find enough votes to reach 67.  Again, there were several differences from today.

      1.  the divisions were largely geographic, rather than ideological or party
      1.  both parties had a mix of conservatives and moderates, in fact one can argue that there were actually liberals in the Republican party, in places like NY and New England
      1.  when a senator asked for a change, having received it he would commit to support the underlying legislation.  Contrast that with demands made by Republicans on things like ARRA where they still refused to vote for the final bill.

      There is a point to bipartisanship, but only if the the side in the minority is prepared to be other than obstructionist.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:17:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely done. Solid history with a point to make (6+ / 0-)

    about the present. And it covered ground that was new to me, and probably to most of us here. I had never heard of Clair Engle before, but I will remember that name now.

    Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at RevolutionBoston.com

    by AlanF on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:09:07 AM PDT

    •  Agree -- as always, you teach us well, TK. And, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, AlanF, joanneleon

      concerning the absolute refusal of the current Senate leadership to force an open filibuster when necessary, which would return the filibuster to being an extraordinary event as originally intended rather than a means of requiring a super-majority on every single issue, I couldn't agree with you more.

      Thanks for the excellent diary. I too didn't know about Sen. Clair Engle and the dramatic moment of his "eye" vote. Amazing.

      There is no better example of what DKos is all about than this diary. We all learn from each other, and there are pretty amazing folks amongst us.

      "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

      by flitedocnm on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:26:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Progress Came, but with Steep Price Afterwards (5+ / 0-)

    I wholeheartedly agree that all the political capital, effort, and courage spent on passing the landmark Civil Rights legislation of the mid-60s was rightful and amply worthwhile.

    NEVERTHELESS don't forget that the tandem of standing up for civil rights legislation plus standing up against the Vietnam War misadventure wound up creating the essential ground upon which the era of Republican reactionary dominance (starting with Richard Nixon's election in 1968) was built.  After a false dawn with Clinton's election in 1992, it re-descended first in 1994, then in 2000, and only in 2006 and 2008 are there finally signs of progressive spring re-emerging, green sprouts shooting up as the ice melts all too slowly.

    Great progress sometimes comes at the great price of empowering reactionaries who may not be able to fully undo the necessary fundamental progressive steps won, but can freeze much of anything further from evolving and can poison the fruits of progress from ripening in a healthy way for quite a long time.

    Not saying here we should forego the fight or the potential win over the risk of the aforementioned dynamic, but nonetheless we should be aware that sometimes our progressive victories temporarily wind up empowering the enemies of progressivism, and that sometimes temporary can be a very long kind of temporary.

    •  If you ask most of the civil rights vets (8+ / 0-)

      They will say that even if you could lay the blame for Republican dominance after 1968 at the feet of civil rights (and Perlstein's Nixonland should make clear that would be inaccurate) they would say it was totally worth it.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:22:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree Completely.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Al Fondy, drache

        All I'm saying is to caution that success in Health Care Reform, Energy/Environmental/Climate legislation/ Gay Rights etc. won't necessarily represent any sort of final victory over the forces of darkness.  There's a perverse dynamic where opponents can powerfully feed off the resentments generated from the side-effects of change, and that can take awhile to overcome, regardless of whether the initial landmark victories were amply worthwhile or not (I agree they were).

        •  Totally agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          smellybeast

          However, the civil rights movement did help hold back the Republican tide (it took until 2001 for them to achieve total dominance of all three branches, and it didn't last long).

          More importantly, it ended 350 years of deep discrimination and legal inequality in American history, setting in motion dramatic social changes. It's true that the resentments can feed a counter-revolution, but it isn't inevitable that it would succeed.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:32:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It was a different time. (6+ / 0-)

    The lines were less partisan and more ideological then.  Many liberal Republicans (no, not moderate, actual real liberal Republicans -- yes, Virginia, they once did exist) were instrumental in assisting Mansfield in getting this through.  Today, a Javitts or a Margaret Chase Smith could never win a Republican primary, so there are no Republican liberals, while all the old school Dixiecrats are now Republicans.

    •  Jesse Helms once fit right in as a 'D' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimball Cross

      Jesse Helms once epitomized the dominant conservative wing of the southern Democratic party that jumped ship to the 'R's over the period 1966-1980.  The transition was only finally completed in 1994 when e.g. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama switched from D to R.

    •  Republican liberals aren't needed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkor7

      You just need to learn how to break the arms of a few Republicans and reluctant Democrats. Obama has to be willing to make threats and to carry them out. To veto a Senator's cherished bill, or cut their state off from funding core programs.

      We keep hearing Obama and Emanuel know "the Chicago Way". We're about to see whether this is true or not, because the only way a real health care reform bill will pass is if they are willing to put the fear of god into people like Ben Nelson.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:23:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A repeat of Engle's role? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, mkor7

    I was struck by the idea that we might see almost this same scenario play out over healthcare reform.  Imagine a filibuster over inclusion of a public option, with Kennedy casting the critical vote to break it (though we can all hope in a healthier condition than Engle.)  It could even be Byrd that could play that role at the moment.

    Sometimes the strange serendipities of history bring this kind of thing together.

    Conservito delenda est pro is deleo orbis terrarum!

    by Stwriley on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:21:59 AM PDT

  •  I agree with this line (11+ / 0-)

    Bullies succeed when they are not opposed.

    Republicans have proven that over and over in recent years.

    Watch what you say, they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, Oh fanatical criminal...

    by minerva1157 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:22:17 AM PDT

  •  Emanuel Celler, not Cellars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross
  •  The bizarre thing about today's situation (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, TomP, jgilhousen, mkor7, flitedocnm

    Is it time for a filibuster?  If so on what issue or issues?  

    is that they are "adamantly opposed" to EVERYTHING proposed. There is not a single issue on which (they claim) they are NOT prepared to filibuster.

    Something's gotta give, here. Catering to their intransigence can only "embolden" them.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:31:02 AM PDT

    •  Call their bluff (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, TomP, jgilhousen

      What are Obama and Reid so scared of?

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:33:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the political realities of 1964 (0+ / 0-)

        are not the same political realities of today.

        This is a great diary but it's relevance in today's Congress is not really that great.

        A song about life
        Why aren't you more like Gandhi? Why aren't I?

        by drache on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:48:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Explain yourself (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joanneleon

          The basic point remains the same - filibusters can be broken. Votes can be changed. Reluctant politicians can be forced to support something they originally opposed.

          Those are eternal political realities. Yet today our leaders seem to have forgotten all that. Yes, 2009 is not 1964, but the basic rules of politics still apply.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:55:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not sure what there is to explain (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vcmvo2

            Others have already made the point quite eloquently and even teacherken agrees.

            In 1964 the differences were largely regional not partisan or by party.

            You also had moderate republicans and even liberal ones.

            That no longer is the case.

            The GOP will not bend and will not honor anything. Thus forcing a filabuster in today's world is largely fruitless. Maybe it works maybe it doesn't but given the huge differences today I'd go with not.

            A song about life
            Why aren't you more like Gandhi? Why aren't I?

            by drache on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:00:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Good history. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, Hillbilly Dem, Predictor

    Your point is correct: we need to force the filibusters.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by TomP on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:41:06 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Kimball Cross

    "How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we've wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror? "
    This quote brings to mind the frustrations of the new Deal legislation and things that did not pass that would have helped all Americans because of the fear that the legislation would have to include blacks. Health care is one but the farmers were not added under Social security until Eisenhower because the black share croppers would have been covered.There were white share croppers but that was too bad from the Southern point of view.

  •  I'm glad you posted this. (6+ / 0-)

    Some time ago, someone on Dkos published a diary about how the rules of the Senate had changed in such a way as to make an actual filibuster nearly impossible.  

    I don't know this stuff that well.  I though I'd missed something really important.  Your posting now gives me confidence that what I learned about our system of government is still true, that the filibuster is still a tool of the Senate.

    I'm all for a filibuster.  Pick an issue, doesn't matter.  One filibuster holding up all else would be the single best illustration of what the opposition is all about.  Putting it off for later simply means we end up with more crappy legislation rather than getting what the people want.  

    Yet, I don't think the Dems in the Senate are capable of anything that requires a unified front.  They still stink at message.  They'd let the GOP spin things into heaven-knows-what.  It defies imagination to think that a party of such really smart people, with a clear majority, could get buried by those in the minority who are so willfully, maliciously ignorant.  I think that bothers me most of all.  That such ignorance is given unchallenged credibility on virtually every news outlet is stunning and discouraging to those of the sane persuasion.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:47:46 AM PDT

  •  In some ways LBJ was brash and crude, and he (4+ / 0-)

    seemed often to revel in his countrified style.  But he was a skillful politician.  When he confronted senators and others, they knew he was not bluffing.  And the passages you have quoted from his speeches demonstrate that he was at the same time capable of eloquent thought and great courage.  Thank you for the diary.

  •  History, Shmistory... (0+ / 0-)

    ...my question is, what's going on in Minnesota.  Were they waiting for SCOTUS to be over before releasing?

  •  Obama's Brain compared to LBJ's Brain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smellybeast

    I watched LBJ and I truly believe he was the best and the brightest.  For modern times, I believe Obama is the best and the brightest of today.

    But there is a frightening aspect to LBJ's power, and I see too much of it in Obama--even though there may be no alternative.

    LBJ grew to power in the Senate during the McCarthy Era.  That 2nd Red Scare was fueled by journalistic irresponsibility and fear the same way our current neo-con movement gained and maintained power.  Before he went to battle, LBJ counted the cost.  It was his determination that McCarthy had to be beaten indirectly.  If you were a thinking person back then, you wanted the Democrats, led by LBJ to DO SOMETHING against the injustice.  But with his masterful sense of timing, and counting the votes, LBJ stayed in the background until success was his in the mid-term Elections of 1954.  Even though he was victorious, he knew that the fear-mongers could return.  McCarthy was actually a clown; the real leader of the fear-mongers was Richard Nixon.

    Fast forward ten years.  How could the best and the brightest man in America make the mistake of Vietnam?  According to Robert Dallek, his biographer, it was no accident.  LBJ was more focused on the potential Red Scare, led by Nixon, than he was creative in avoiding the quagmire.  LBJ knew he was getting into more trouble by the day, but he was not willing to allow a repeat of the "Who Lost China" debate of his formative years.  Of course, we know the result.

    And then there is Barak Obama.  He can evaluate the political landscape as well as LBJ could.  At the same time, his political advisors probably point out that LBJ was not always courageous.  Nor did LBJ go into battles (with Congress) that he could not win.  So to me it is very frightening.  We could witness the best and the brightest of today make disasterous mistakes so as not to embolden the fear-mongers, and leave the country crippled in matters of Constitutional protections.

    •  Another possible similarity. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Al Fondy

      LBJ won big.  He came into office with an incredible head of steam, and his legislative record was truly amazing.

      However, he had campaigned on the promise I won't send American boys to fight a war Asian boys should fight . . .

      It turned out to be less than truthful . . . and so he went from landslide to unelectable in 4 short years and left office in disgrace.

      2012 is not that far away, the campaign promises of transparency and ending the war and looking for and more like pipe dreams of a deluded electorate.

      "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by bobdevo on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:59:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A live Kennedy couldn't have got that bill (0+ / 0-)

    It was passed partially in honor of the dead president.

    "I'm not opposed to all wars; I'm opposed to dumb wars." -- Obama in 2002

    by Frank Palmer on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:51:20 AM PDT

  •  That's why the conservadems don't want a (0+ / 0-)

    filibuster, especially now.  They know if the issues got a real hearing, the public might start demanding some justice in many areas.

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