Friday, April 29, 2005

Marathon Filibuster at Princeton!

This is just so bloody inspiring. Princeton U students and faculty are doing a Filibuster and they've been at it for more than 80 hours. A filibuster is "a time-delaying tactic associated with the US Senate and used by a minority in an effort to delay, modify or defeat a bill or amendment that probably would pass if voted on directly." More from wikipedia:
A filibuster is a process, typically an extremely long speech, that is used primarily to stall the legislative process and thus derail a particular piece of legislation, rather than to make a particular point in the content of the diversion per se. The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose. Under Senate rules, the speech need not be relevant to the topic under discussion, and there have been cases in which a senator has undertaken part of a speech by reading from a telephone directory. Legendary segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond set a record in 1957 by filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Preparations for a filibuster can be elaborate. Sometimes coats are brought into the hallways or cloakrooms for senators to sleep on. According to Newsweek, "They used to call it 'taking to the diaper,' a phrase that referred to the preparation undertaken by a prudent senator before an extended filibuster". Strom Thurmond visited a steam room before his filibuster in order to dehydrate himself so he could drink without urinating. An aide stood by in the cloakroom with a pail in case of emergency...
"It works like this: If at least 41 senators strongly oppose a bill or nominee, they can block a final vote until at least 60 senators override the filibuster, the filibustering senators drop their objections, or the vote is abandoned." (There are currently 55 Republican and 44 Democrat Senators.) "We were meant by the framers of the Constitution to have the minority have influence." — Arizona Senator John McCain "As long as it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, the moderates on both sides of the aisle are always going to be in a key position to bridge partisan differences." — Maine Senator Susan Collins
It's fun, outrageous and wacky. But it serves an important check-and-balance function: it ensures that the majority party (nowadays, the Republicans) doesn't control everything, all the time. So now the Republicans want to end the Filibuster tradition because a few of Bush's conservative judicial appointments were blocked by the Democrats, and they are angry. Those who are against the nominations are now labeled as against 'people of faith' in an event held this past Sunday called Justice Sunday with keynote speeches by people such as kingmaker James 'focus on our own darn family' Dobson. If they abolish the Filibuster tradition, all their nominations will then be able to go through. But it would also mean the one party would then have absolute power. And some might say this could lead to absolute corruption. In this regard, Singapore is still doing well, the separation of Church and State. So, the Princeton folks are doing this to protest against moves by the Republicans. Click here to go to the constantly updated webcam covering the proceedings. It's booked solid till at least Sunday... More from DailyKos.

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