Filibusters and polar bears: the little hypocrisies of Congressional life

A couple of Kossacks point up (though not intentionally) the advantages to politicians (and their supporters) of a short memory.

One guy rails against GOP obstructionism - balking EFCA (HR 800) by denying cloture and the ethics and 9/11 Commission bills by preventing a UCA on the appointment of conferees.

[The 9/11 Commission, I see - that was HR 1 and S 4; ethics, I don't: S 1 passed the Senate, but (so far as I'm aware) there was never a companion bill in the House (in the 100 Hours, what the House passed was a resolution (H Res 6) making changes to the House Rules). So - how can we be ready for a conference if the House hasn't passed a companion bill to S 1?]

Now, majorities the world round complain about obstructive minorities; but, in the Senate, it's an a fortiori case, given the default of unlimited debate and the imperfect mechanism that is cloture.

In the general case, positions follow the election returns: when power changes hands, so does the role of complaining about obstructionism.

With the Senate, the hypocrisy is just so many decibels louder.

Of course, had Senate Dems sincerely opposed obstructionism in principle - and not merely when they were the victims as the majority part - they could have agreed with the GOP to go nuclear when they were threatening to do so. (And not just for nominations but for all matters - the distinction always seemed to me a dubious one.)

(Fisk and Chemerinsky in their filibuster article (look for tag) refer to a Democratic Study Group report from the 103rd Congress which excoriated the anti-democratic (as well as anti-Democratic!) institution of supermajority rule in the Senate. The timing just about perfect!)

Then there's the case of the polar bear. Apparently Brer Reed is introducing a bill to ban the importation of polar bear body parts as hunting trophies.

The piece lauds Reed as a savior of bearkind, and fingers the NRA whose worst side (they have another?) Reed's bill has apparently brought out.

Savor the blistering ire:

During the 1970s, polar bears were hunted down to a few thousand. Their numbers made a comeback during the 80s and early 90s, but in a move that would surely meet with the approval of Stephen Colbert, Republicans did their share to help in solving the polar bear problem. In 1994, they passed one of those lesser known aspects of their Contract On America.

That lowdown Gingrich and his Contract with America!

Except - 1994 was when he won the election, but the Dems were still in control of Congress!

And - Clinton was in the White House.

Uh oh.

Trace it though, and you'll find we're talking about S 1636 (103rd), in particular §4(a)(1), which amends 16 USC 1371 (codifying the Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1972).

Who, then, was responsible for this heinous indulgence of the lovers of slaughter? Hard to tell, because there were no roll call votes. Not on S 1636 nor on its companion bill that went through the House.

Not a single MC could be heard to speak up for little white fur bundles liable to be made orphans for sport, all for the sake of MCs keeping in good with the merchants of death.

And the bill was sponsored by - the French-looking milquetoast himself. You'd have thought his campaign people would have made something of that in 04: photo-op with a freshly flayed off bearskin draped round his shoulders, say...

Update [2007-6-27 14:33:47 by skeptic06]:

Dashing to rehabilitate JFK, a squint at the Record (page S4933) shows that he was against the polar bear trophy language:

My only regret is that, while we were able to amend the language on the importation of polar bear trophies into the United States from Canada in previous versions of S. 1636 sent from the House, we were unsuccessful in fully eliminating this language...

But, to pass the bill at all, the gore-hounds would have to have their pound of flesh. (Some of it, at least.) Thanks to their friends in the House. (The Dem-controlled House, of course, that would be.)

It also occurred to me to look see if Reed happened to be a member at the time S 1636 went through. He was: not of the Senate, but of the House.

More joy in Heaven... also applies on the ice floes, I'm sure.

Tags: card check, Complaints Contingent on Majority/Minority Status, EFCA, Filibuster, HR 800, Importation of Polar Bear Body Parts, Jack Reed, Obstructive Minorities, S 1636 (103rd) (all tags)


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