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There has been a lot of media attention and discussion on The Daily Kos about Senator Rand Paul's filibuster.    And whether you agree or disagree with his filibuster, or whether you think that his motives are genuine or not, one thing is clear, Senator Paul's filibuster demonstrated the need to reform the Senate rules to require talking filibusters.

This week Senator Paul stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and talked and talked about the use of drones.  And the media paid attention.   And people were talking about it.  And in response to Senator Paul's filibuster and the media coverage of it, the White House felt obligated to respond to the concerns raised by Senator Paul.  And because of the filibuster of Senator Paul, we now have a "no" statement from the White House on the use of drones in the U.S.

But this is not the most important thing about what Senator Paul did.

Senator Paul sat down.    

After talking for many hours, Senator Paul yielded the floor and a vote took place on Brennan's nomination.   And Brennan was confirmed by a majority of the Senate.

This is the beauty of the talking filibuster.  Important issues can be raised on the floor of the U.S. Senate during the filibuster, and these issues can be debated in the U.S. Senate and by the citizens of this country.  But ultimately most talking filibusters will end.  And then U.S. Senate is free to continue its business.  And then in most cases there will be a vote on the legislation.  And if a majority of the Senate votes in favor of the bill, and the bill passes the House and is signed by the President, the bill will become law.  And it will become law by passing the Senate by a simply majority, rather than the "60 vote requirement" we have now.  

Whatever your view is of Senator Paul and whatever you think his motives are, Senator Paul should be commended for using a talking filibuster rather than trying to hold up the nomination by threatening to filibuster as is the custom of the modern Republican Party.  And he should be commended for allowing the vote to proceed after his objections were heard.

I can only hope that more Republicans will follow Senator Paul's example and engage in talking filibusters regardless of whether they are required by the Senate rules.  

But I suspect that this won't happen because the modern Republican Party is more interested in obstruction than making sure that their positions are heard by the American People.

And it is for this reason that I think that the Senate needs real filibuster reform by requiring talking filibusters like the one used by Senator Paul this week.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I liked that situation. I really don't know enough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko

    about the players yet to give credit.

    It might have all been storybook, and staged, but it's at least nice to see no full on right wing villans (or left, for that matter) hogging the cameras and microphones.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:11:49 PM PST

    •  Paul is exactly a right wing vilian (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Progressif, Paul1a

      and he hogged the camera for 13 hours. He also lied about nearly everything but he did it in a friendly manner so I guess that's all anyone cares about..

      ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

      by tommy2tone on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:37:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You missed the "can a President kill (6+ / 0-)

        Americans without trial" part. Which is actually incredibly important, even were it a herd of deranged clowns riding huge turtles which got the question raised.


        We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

        by Jim P on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:29:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bill Maher.. (0+ / 0-)

          On drones: I stand with Bill.

          "Some people need killing."

           

          ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

          by tommy2tone on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:36:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bill's a jerk-off, though. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Australian2

            So fuck the Constitution, you want a President Jeb Bush free to just kill anyone he decides is an enemy? I see you've given this a lot of thought.


            If Republicans said every 3rd person named "Smith" should hang, we'd bargain them to every 7th. Then we'll see apologia written praising this most pragmatic compromise. There's our losing formula.

            by Jim P on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:08:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Give me a break.. (0+ / 0-)

              I want a president to have the authority to take out bad guys. You do know Dubya had drones..did you see him take out people drinking coffee in San Francisco?

              BTW..I don't believe the Constitution was written thinking there would be drones.

              and I don't need you talking down to me about what I have or have not thought out. Calling Bill a jerk-off is a bit the pot calling the kettle black there Jim.

              ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

              by tommy2tone on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 03:52:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  "I guess that's all anyone cares about" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Australian2

        No, what was really apparent is that a minority percentage of hyperpartisans only care about what color their t-shirt is, red or blue.  It was never more obvious than during and after that filibuster. Even on issues as important as shredding the Constitution, potential abuse of executive power, excessive secrecy, the blue team can't take a position against their party on even one issue for a few hours, in order to pressure their hero president to do the right thing.

        It's sad and that came across in the writings and social media messages from people on the left who have a principle or two left in their quiver, no matter which party holds the White House.


        "Justice is a commodity"

        by joanneleon on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 06:03:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice rant.. (0+ / 0-)

          but of course it's all bullshit. You and the media were all duped.

          Paul had already received an answer from the White House before he went on his 13 hour infomercial.....but..hey maybe you can work the phone banks for Patrick Henry Paul?

          ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

          by tommy2tone on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:40:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  That's certainly one way to look at the situation. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nailbender, DuzT

    But it's much more likely that the first talking filibuster in decades was meant to "appear" as if the minority party, in this case Republicans, objected to the vote on the floor.

    There is a reason why this 'filibuster' was so public and why all previous 'filibusters' were private and obfuscated any particular politician.

    Praising Rand Paul, as many have done and continue to do, was the intention.

    I find the fact that so many people are suddenly championing the 'filibuster' an amazing tactical accomplishment by Republicans, when only a month ago the filibuster was a toxic subject.

    But I'm insulted that so many people have fallen into this trap.

  •  Agreed. The point that it gets media exposure, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, joanneleon, night cat, burlydee, ringer

    and the unlikelihood that someone would put themselves often through that for trivial purposes, combine to make it the perfect way to have filibusters done.

    It permits a minority to really force a fuller consideration of something which might actually be important, while, nature being what it is, sooner or later a majority (perhaps newly-informed) will be able to proceed with the business of governance.


    We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

    by Jim P on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:27:05 PM PST

    •  Yer right! NOBODY in America has worked 13 hr (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DuzT

      straight since ... geez, probably me 3 years ago a couple weeks before I retired?

      Little known fact: Rand Paul had to end the filibuster because his shift was starting at his second job at the RK facility down the street, dusting the hardware.

      What are the chances

      someone would put themselves often through that for trivial purposes
      ? Gotta be 3 to 1 at the outside! That's as close to 'nevah hoppen' as I can imagine!

      Too late for the simple life, too early for android love slaves - Savio

      by Clem Yeobright on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 03:49:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think yer missing the point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        night cat, burlydee

        it's not so much the effort but the exposure. If somebody "puts themselves through that" it draws attention to what they are doing.  Talking filibusters get a lot of media attention.  If the reasoning is sound, the senator gets some positive attention (in this case a lot of positive attention). But if he's just being a partisan jerk, or has some reason related to extremism, or fealty to bankers or the MIC or something like that, he's going to get a lot of negative attention, and would not be likely to "put himself through that".

        However, the point about the stark contrast between the work week of a senator and an average working class American is valid, just not what the original commenter was referring to, unless I am mistaken.  He's talking about how when you do a talking filibuster, you really put yourself out there.

        The Senate rules are more well suited to snakes in the grass, grinding the gears of the government in stealth ways.  Shutting down a vote really only takes a private phone call these days and clearly that's how Harry Reid likes it since he had the ability to change that and he didn't.


        "Justice is a commodity"

        by joanneleon on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:53:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And would Rand Paul have been willing (0+ / 0-)

        to talk for a week straight? Or two weeks?

        That's the point of the talking filibuster. The filibuster-by-threat requires no effort by the threatener, no matter how long it holds up the Senate's consideration of a bill.

        The talking filibuster, by contrast, requires more effort to sustain the longer it goes on. Therefore, in order to levy a real, meaningful delay on a bill, a Senator (or a group of them) have to keep up the effort, themselves and in person, for the entire duration.

        Best of all, a real, talking filibuster means that Rand Paul wasn't out there raising money for Republicans while he was on the floor.

        "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

        by Australian2 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:33:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      night cat

      and really important point, Jim P.

      The fake filibuster (cloture) is very often used for trivial and very wrong headed reasons and nobody ever knows. Indeed, many people here, on a site that has a very high percentage of highly informed voters, don't completely understand the rules of cloture, unanimous consent, etc.  I'm a person who has spent many hours watching C-SPAN, and I have to stop and think about the rules sometimes.

      But if a senator is required to do a real filibuster in order to block the legislative process, let him make his case to the public, as Rand Paul did, or let him look like a fool if what he is arguing is trivial.


      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:46:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agreed. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, night cat, Australian2

    That was a proper and constructive use of the filibuster and sets the good example.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:28:27 PM PST

  •  just wait until they come out with the meth (0+ / 0-)

    fueled filibuster. It won't end for days.

  •  Good Way To Get To Know Your Real Senators (0+ / 0-)

    With the talking filibuster we get a more uncensored view of our politicians.  In this case we saw a big crazy ass.

    •  Most of the time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ringer

      he is a guy whose libertarian policies are fringe but guess what? In this case, he is the one who came out smelling like roses and guess who ended up looking bad?  The Democrats.

      The "optics" of this were horrendous for the left in general.  The silence from them was deafening.  The immediate call for a cloture vote as soon as Rand Paul sat down, calling for the Brennan vote while still having no answer to the question, was damaging in the extreme.  And that was evident from social media, blogs and the news and it was coming from the entire political spectrum, left, right and center.


      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:58:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary that makes a really important point (0+ / 0-)

    I have only one small disagreement with it -- even after the 13 hour talking filibuster, cloture was still invoked and the 60 vote threshold was still required.  So the Senate remains an undemocratic institution even if you do a talking filibuster.


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:55:16 AM PST

  •  The whole Paul Filibuster is a mixed bag for me. (0+ / 0-)

    On the one hand, he raised some valid concerns (along with a bunch of crackpot ones). But, I also couldn't help question his motives being that he's a self-aggrandizing dirt bag racist.

    But, it did help to shine a light on what a filibuster should look like and how our congress is capable of working at times.

    Ill never approve of Rand or the reasons I suspect were behind his filibuster, but he may have done more to further the cause of real filibuster reform that we could have done by simply attempting to pressure Harry.

  •  Whatever you think of the messenger (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    night cat

    the message was useful and the method was right on.
    Like his whacked out father, Rat Paul is a mostly worthless POS, but, he got an unequivocal answer from the Administration that domestic drone strikes are not legal or permissible.
    And he demonstrated exactly how a filibuster should work.
    He also launched his bid for 2016 (and that will be VERY entertaining).
    And he also launched a new front in the internal civil war within the GOP, all of which are good things.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:20:19 AM PST

  •  The biggest thing the GOP has going for it... (0+ / 0-)

    today is a filibuster that drawing opposition within the GOP itself...?  hmmmmm

    The drone program has been with us for a while...  did Paul just fine out about it, bush used drones I believe...  seems political to me...  

    The CIA has covert operations that target killing people...  shouldn't paul be concerned that they will not target him or other Americans that move against their agendas...

    As long as the GOP rides this it shows that they still don't have much of substance going their way...

    I would love to be a democrat these days...  

    I may not be deep, but I am very wide... Honree Balzac

    by meknow on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:08:00 PM PDT

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