Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer's Here, The Time Is Right...

To the members of our staff, music isn't just something to set the mood for day, but certain songs also fit into certain times of the year. Whether it's for personal or historic reasons, when summer begins to make its presence known, the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" often finds its way onto our stereos and iPods.

Somehow, that seems appropriate today, in light of the surprising battles that have begun to move forward outside of the major media spotlights.

As Slate's Dave Weigel notes, the filibuster reform battle appears to have kicked open the metaphorical coffin and returned from the dead with a vengeance. Both Sahil Kapur and Greg Sargent also make it clear that the U.S. Senate could easily be "going nuclear" this July, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid actually goes through with his threat of filibuster reform  this time.

Reid currently appears to be waiting until immigration reform clears the Senate, since "nuking" the Senate would mean forcing a majority-only vote, which - if successful - would change the Senate rules. In most cases, the minority party then would be unable to block the ability of the Executive Branch - and by extension, the Judicial Branch - to function properly, by indiscriminately filibustering Presidential nominees.

While it would be surprising if Reid actually followed through this time, the truly unusual alliances have been popping up elsewhere.

The online sales tax battle has had Republicans in Congress beginning yet another intra-party battle, primarily to see who will get taxed and who can exempt themselves from the tax.

While the American people clearly don't want a broader online sales tax law, the Senate already passed a somewhat bipartisan version of the proposed tax bill earlier this month. Now, the GOP-led House is attempting to push the bill through - and Republicans are being blocked by other Republicans. Major conservative groups have now lined up on both sides of the bill, with big corporations and states hungry for tax revenue on one side, and small businesses and major lobbying groups allied on the other.

Don't think Democrats aren't having their own intra-party battles.

Today, President Obama will give a major address on civil liberties, Guantanamo, and drones. The President is going to fight against Congress - and some members of his own party - as he restarts transfers of detainees from Guantanamo, part of his long-term goal to shut down one of the greatest legal and humanitarian disasters of the Bush era.

At the same time, Attorney General Eric holder released a letter to members of Congress Wednesday, acknowledging the deaths of four American citizens, including terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, all killed by drones during the Obama era.

These two issues will be guaranteed to have Democrats battling with each other about civil liberties and legal procedures with just as much venom as Republicans will be fighting with their own party members over taxes.

None of these battle reports have included the massive public outcry in Chicago where the Board of Education, at the direction of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, voted to close fifty public schools. Or Longmont, Colorado, where a suspect whipped out his AR-15 in the street, in broad daylight, and shot at police. They also haven't included the brutal and bloody public beheading of a soldier by radical extremists in London. Talk about your street fightin' men.

Welcome to summer, folks. It looks like it's gonna be a hot one.

Maybe we'll just stay inside with our laptops for a while, where both the temperature and the tempers are likely to be a bit cooler.

Just don't charge us any sales tax, or we'll have to take things outside.

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