Nevadan Reid, Senate majority leader, approved the woefully undemocratic filibuster rule at the beginning of the Senate session last year.
All he had to do was ask for a simple majority to pass legislation. He did not. His inaction, which tarnishes his reputation, is the nation’s loss.
Reid admitted his mistake last month, declaring that the senators who wanted to end the filibuster were right and he was wrong.
To admit you were wrong is noble. But Reid came to his senses awfully late. In the past five years Republicans used the filibuster 360 times, all while Reid was majority leader.
The women’s pay equality bill was the latest victim of the unconstitutional filibuster. It recently passed the Senate, 52-47, but it takes a supermajority of 60 to break a filibuster.
Women earn 77 cents to $1 for men in comparable jobs with comparable experience. But that did not matter to the reactionary Senate Republicans. They blocked the Fairness Pay Check Act.
Marine: no thanks
Camillo Bica, a philosophy professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, is a former Marine officer who served in Vietnam. As such, his voice is more authoritative than that of most peace activists.
Bica urges “an immediate end to the corporate takeover of our ‘democracy’ and to the undue influence of the military-industrial-congressional complex.”
He urges “sanity in Pentagon spending and a reallocation of finite resources to people-focused programs such as health care, education and jobs rather than to killing and destruction.”
As a Marine he was trained “to become a killer” but now that training is “a source of guilt and shame.” (His confession appears in a recent online Truthout column.)
Bica deplores the war in Vietnam — “the horrible and unnecessary deaths of good friends and comrades” —and the wars today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, he pleads with veterans to abandon “the mythology of heroism, glory, honor and nobility of war.”
Lies and falsities
The tobacco industry has no shame. It lies and distorts while spending enormous sums to perpetuate the evils of smoking.
It spent $50 million recently to defeat Proposition 29 on the ballot in California. An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle rightly called it an “outrageously deceptive” campaign.
“All Californians, smokers and nonsmokers, pay the price of smoking,” the Chron said. “In their private insurance premiums and tax dollars they contribute to public medical coverage. All of us are subsidizing the true cost of smoking.”
Prop 29 would have raised cigarette taxes by $1 a pack. The cost for a pack in California is about $5.70, never high enough for the “evil weed.”
An industry responsible for the cancer-related deaths of 500,000 Americans annually has no conscience.
Giddy over royals
Alessandra Stanley, TV critic of the New York Times, mercilessly criticized the absurdity of U.S. coverage of the centuries-old obsolescence of the British monarchy.
“There’s nothing like a regal celebration to bring out the royal pains of American television,” Stanley wrote. “The four-day extravaganza to celebrate the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II was particularly rich in folly.”
With so much air time to fill and so little new to say, anchors and commentators showed the worst side of TV on ABC’s “Good Morning America” recently.
Anchors Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer mugged in front of Buckingham Palace while “wearing goofy ribbon fascinators on their heads and acting like teenagers on a sugar high at a shopping mall,” Stanley wrote.
The two clowns drank Pimm’s, danced and DJed their way through all the monarchial nonsense. You cannot get shallower than that.
Stanley ridiculed the “inane enthusiasm” of Piers Morgan on CNN, who described the flotilla on the Thames as an “orgy of excitement.” Stanley noted that Morgan “gushed over the queen for many hours” and declared fatuously that he wished he were king.
The monarchy is nearly as much of a religion in some quarters of America as it is in Great Britain. The royals are even worshipped by the 54-nation commonwealth, many of the countries former colonies woefully exploited by the Brits.
Yet England has descended from having a worldwide empire to a middling military power me-tooing whatever armed follies America commits.
Walter Bagehot, Victorian apologist for the monarchy, said, “We must not let daylight in on magic.”
Why not? The royals in Britain and the few crowned heads left in the world should be abolished as relics of a shameful past.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.