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It's no big secret that the membership of the United States Senate is largely paralyzed and pretty much incapable of taking any real positive actions.  The leadership acts as if it's been infected with syphilitic dementia (yes, I'm talking to you Mitch McConnell, you wattled old fruitbat, you; as well as that Certifiable Moron Harry "Weak" Reid) and the members seem to love the idea of screeching "Filibuster!" or whispering "Secret Hold" whenever they seek to gain political points by jamming a spanner into the machinery.

The sad fact is that the Senate rules allow this.  An even sadder fact is that this, like so much, has happened before.

Back during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the later Kingdom of Poland, the government was an elective monarchy with a Sejm, or parliament composed of the assembled nobles.  One of the greatest weapons the Sejm had to bar a possible absolute monarch or tyrant was a little thing called the liberum veto.

The veto was originally designed to stop a possible tyrant by requiring unanimous consent for any legislation.  By the start of the 18th Century, it had turned into a way to paralyze the Parliament.  Not surprisingly, many of the vetoes were at the behest of the neighboring Powers (Russia, Prussia and Austria), all of whom wanted a slice of the fat Polish pierogi.  Bribery of Sejm members became the fashion in order to get these members to exercise their veto.

Poland degenerated from the biggest stick in Eastern Europe to a basket case that was eventually consumed by its neighbors in the Three Partitions.

And the reason for this historical sideline?

It'd be rather enlightening to see who's making all the filibusters and secret holds and what-not for political points or just to poke a contemptuous finger in the eye of the majority - and who's paying them under the table to do it.

Just saying.

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An interesting trend has been spotted up in Washington lately.

Several Republican members of Congress have actually started talking sense.

Now, I'm not talking about crazies like Michelle Bachmann.  I seriously think she's too far gone for anything but seriously powerful antipsychotic drugs.  That is, if she isn't already on them; if she is, I advocate increasing her dosage.

But several members have actually started drifting a bit, just a teensy bit, toward actually sane positions on such topics as immigration, same-sex marriage and tax increases.  They're treading a very fine line, knowing that if they move too far too fast they'll get primaried by the real whackos in their own Party, as well as being immolated as heretics upon the altar of the Great God Norquist; but if they move too slowly, they risk being left behind by their constituency who might vote them out in favor of - >gasp!< - a Democrat.

There are reasons for this, of course.  The majority of Americans are gaining a live and let live attitude toward same-sex marriage (my position has been firm for many years now - why should I deny any segment of the population the right to be just as miserable as I was?)  as well as a liberalizing of the immigration laws to accept the fait accompli.  These people are not going to "self-deport," dear readers; they're here to stay.

Tax increases?  Why, yes - the obscene notion that "families balance their budgets" dies in the face of how real families manage to balance things out; i.e., accruing credit card debt, taking out a loan or mortgage, etc.  To balance the equation, it's not enough to cut spending in an intelligent manner - you have to raise taxes.

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The European area known as the Balkans can probably be extended to include the island nation of Cyprus; after all, Greece and Turkey have gone to the mat a few times over the place, and it's always some damn foolish thing in the Balkans that have caused a lot of European angst since about 1910.

Cyprus is the latest part of the European Monetary Zone to be having a lot of trouble with its finances.  See, its loose banking laws and the machinations of the big bankers have managed to cripple its economy.  In order to qualify for a bailout from the Central Bank (i.e., Germany), Cyprus had to basically cut its budget and raise taxes.  One thing it tried to do was levy a one-time tax on individual savings accounts.

The population reacted predictably.  Within hours, every ATM in the country was bone dry and the banks were being stampeded as if they were in Pamplona.  Russia, which has about $15 Billion in exposure in Cypriot banks, hinted darkly that they might reconsider the wisdom of allowing their money to stay in Nicosia.

So, what happens if Cyprus goes bankrupt?

Can it drag the rest of the Eurozone down with it?  Stay tuned, folks, because as Europe goes, so will our economy.

And all of which still begs the question:  When will the actual people who put us into this spiral ever go to jail?

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It's been about 100 days since the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut.

And about 3,000 Americans have died from gunshot wounds in that time.  Either through assault, suicide, suicide by cop, accident, or random stray shots.  Three thousand non-combat deaths.

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Updated to remove a religious aspersion.  

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