Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Gentleman from West Virginia

This will refer to this article, http://nytimes.com/2005/04/03/politics/03byrd.html?hp&ex=1112504400&en=5ab4574f909f8584&ei=5094&partner=homepage in the NYTimes.

Mr. Byrd says that a vote to change the procedural rule to end fillibustering of judicial nominations would be a vote to "assasinate freedom of speech in the Senate of the United States". I take particular exception to this. First, if someone told you that you could stand up and threaten one word and effectively end all speech on a subject whether it be majority or minority speech would you consider that a bastion of free speech? The fillibuster that Mr. Byrd refers to is not of the ilk of the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" type. There is no need to continue speaking and there is no need to hold the floor. All one must do is threaten to fillibuster and the speech ENDS there. It is in no way continuing free speech and it is in no way even similar to the notions that the word fillibuster strikes in the minds of citizens.

Secondly, I have a hard time listening to a former Ku Klux Klan member talk about free speech. The article said that he saw he was wrong and has apologized. I could understand being a member of a group that got a bit radical and removing yourself from it and saying that it was a mistake, but joining the Ku Klux Klan was not like joining a group that happens to go one way you do not like. The Ku Klux Klan advocated brutal murders. They were the ultimate killers of free speech. If you spoke out they hung you from a tree or burned your house. I cannot imagine why people look to this man to protect freedom of speech and I think it shows when he has a skewed version of what freedom of speech is. There are some marks on a man's character that cannot be overlooked.

Third, I have to take issue with this article. It treats Mr. Byrd like he is a legend in the Senate and he is this wise all knowing profit of the Senate rules. They fly on and on about how much he knows about the rules, but they don't discuss this particular rule or his knowledge about it. They don't discuss that the fillibuster has never been used like this before. They don't discuss how the Constitution says that the Senate can create and change it's rules with a simple majority vote. They don't actually say how this is un-constitutional. They point to no specific constitutional prohibition on this. This article is all smoke and mirrors. They are pushing a point of view by bolstering one of it's biggest proponents. It is a neat journalistic trick that can be quite effective, but it is extremely dishonest and shady.

Fourth, I think we have lost the idea that to the victor goes the spoils. I can't recall how many times I heard Democrats yell that this election is so extremely important because of judicial nominations. They pounded out their message that the winning electors would get to put their judges on the bench. Now they have changed their tune. They pretty much make their whole argument moot by saying that it doesn't matter who is in power because a small minority can just talk it down by saying fillibuster. So republicans want to make a rule change, which is completely constitutional and completely acceptable and the democrats dub it the 'nuclear option' and rally against it by spreading half-truths and more smoke and mirrors tactics.

Fifth, the real losers in this are the ones responsible. We the people. We elect these dopes. On both sides of the aisle here. We have people who flip flopped positions on this depending on who was in power. I would think it would be a powerful tool to show how one person has done a complete 180 on an issue, but it is out there so much it loses much of its strength. We as an electorate need to watch politicians and what they do not just 6 months prior to the election. We need to look at their entire record and learn for ourselves who is right and who is wrong. Another group that gets the blame is the media. I can't think of a single media outlet that I would consider as objective. Nearly everyone has a bias. I have turned to weblogs because they seem better at disseminating the whole story and not just partisan desires. I hope that in the future we can hold the media, the politicians, and ourselves to a higher standard.

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