Doc and I were having lunch after our weekly tennis match. "Tell me," he began as our heart-healthy fare was served, "are we going to get that filibuster thing fixed?"
It was good to have something to talk about other than the lies being told about Obamacare.
"Well," I said. "There's a lot of money working against it."
"There's always a lot of money against anything that's good for people," he said. "It's the American Way.
"The filibuster has never been a good thing: look at who's done it and why. Remember those pictures of Dixiecrat Senators reading the Manhattan telephone book on the Senate floor to filibuster against the voting rights act? But at least back then they by gawd had to keep talking, had to actually filibuster in order to filibuster. Sooner or later they'd run out of spit, or patience, or talkers. That was the hope, anyway.
"Now with the silent filibuster, any damned nutcase of a right-wing Senator can block any bills or presidential nominations on a whim, or out of sheer contrariness. One cock-eyed son of a gun from Alabama or Mississippi can bottle up legislation to help 315 million of his fellow Americans. It's obscene.
"You've got this guy Vitter from Louisiana, single-handedly holds off the confirmation vote on EPA appointments in order to delay scientific assessments on the health risks of formaldehyde. Just happens that some of his biggest campaign contributors sell formaldehyde. You've got Mitch McConnell, top Repuglican in the Senate, filibustering on behalf of oil subsidies, filibustering to block efforts to mitigate the mortgage crisis, and filibustering against campaign disclosure reforms. Every damn one of 'em designed to help real people and opposed by fat cat campaign donors to ol' Mitchy-witchy. You've got this guy Shelby from Alabama, who is 85 per cent owned by Northrup Grumman. Richy boy puts a damn blanket hold on every Obama nomination in order to force the Administration to give a big fat contract to Northrup Grumman to build a new air fueling tanker. You've got Honest John McCain his very own self blocking a Labor department nominee the U.S. Chamber of Commerce didn't like, in exchange for the chamber's withholding money support from McCain's Tea Party opponent in the primary election. You've got FedEx pouring a mountain of money into Bob Corker's Senate campaign in Tennessee whereupon that good ol' boy obligingly filibusters the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in order to demand a policy that prevents FedEx drivers from unionizing. You've got Mary Landrieu, the Senator from Exxon-Mobile-Chevron by way of Louisiana, blocking the vote on a senior OMB nomination until President Kidglove caves and allows more oil drilling in the Gulf after Deepwater Horizon defiled the thing for ages.
"And so you've got the so-called mainstream media listening to guys like Steven Duffield. Steven who? Duffield. Big time lobbyist. Says those damned Senate Liberals "want to gut the filibuster." Damn right they do. If real rules reform takes place, Duffield stands to lose about a quarter of a million dollars a year from selling -- yes, selling -- holds and filibusters to his corporate clients. 'You require advocacy,' he told them, 'before those Senators -- many of them backbench Republicans -- who may exercise their prerogatives to delay or obstruct.'
"You've got Investors Business Daily -- you know whose corner they're in! -- soberly taking the word of another big-time lobbyist, Martin Gold, that even the modest rules reform now on the table would be 'unprecedented and unwise.' Humbug! What's unprecedented is the way Repuglicans are using the filibuster. Almost 390 times just during the period Harry Reid has been majority leader. In all the years Lyndon Johnson was majority leader he had to deal with just one filibuster. One! Unwise? Sure, for Gold's clients: Qualcomm, Amazon.com, BAE Systems and a clutch of similarly altruistic corporations.
"So now I'm asking you, my editor friend, what if anything will be done about this? What have you got to say?"
I replied, "Doc, my friend, you've said it all. Lunch is on me this week."