Golden State Betrayal: Dear DiFi and Babs – Get on Board With “Real” Filibuster Reform or Pay a Price
Scrolling through news wires and sites this morning, I came across a new (written late last night) Huffington Post article by Sabrina Siddiqui and Ryan Grim on Filibuster Reform.
Here’s the scoop: according to HuffPo, as of last night, there were 48 votes in the Senate supporting Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall’s (D-NM) proposal for real change in filibuster rules. The Democrats need 51 votes. Vice-President Joe Biden has made it no secret that, should the Senate get to 50 votes, he will break the tie as Senate President. So you can imagine my complete and utter shock to find within HuffPo’s article the names of both of my California Senators – BOTH – as “holdouts”, aligning themselves with the utterly ridiculous, smoke-and-mirrors “compromise” being pushed by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI). Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. My supposedly liberal, sometime progressive Senators. There is not only an element of shock here; it is outright betrayal of constituency. It is beyond disturbing. This is not what we as Californians have repeatedly sent them back to the Senate to do – especially now. This is not what myself, nor my family, have busted our rumps for over decades, helping to support these women, having tremendous pride in them as women, having contributed to their campaigns, canvassed our streets and then sent them on their merry way to do the people’s work; this is not what either of these Senators have stood for in the past. It is not what they stand for now. They are simply acting out of fear. Fear of being in the minority “one day”; they are succumbing to the old-timers’ club. THIS IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE. It takes no math whiz to know that these two votes are “the” targeted votes at this point. My Senators. My liberal Senators. So, after reading the reports this morning, and before calming down, I did what I haven’t had to do in a long while – but for the second time this week – I phoned both Senators’ offices. [Emails are worthless, by the way, for urgent matters, because you get an instantaneous canned and generic response - I don't discourage one from sending emails, it's better than nothing, but in this instance, we need to be picking up the phones]. Earlier in the week, Senator Feinstein’s office phone was “busy”, every time I called. You cannot even get through on her line. Hmmmph. Curious. Today, surely I would be able to get through to my Senator. Right. Hey, Senator Feinstein, can you please have someone in your office actually answer your constituents’ phone calls? And if that’s too much to ask, could you be a dear and at least give us the privilege of leaving you a voice message so that your staff can transcribe the angry lady from Studio City’s rant about your filibuster position? M’kay, thanks. In trying to reach out to Senator Boxer, earlier this week, I was able to leave a voice message. I expected nothing in return nor as a result of that call, but it did make me feel better to leave the message.
Then, today, I actually got through to a staffer in Boxer’s office, who shall remain nameless (for now). Here’s how the conversation went: in the most robotic fashion since C-3PO first spoke (or, maybe R2 is more appropriate), the staffer could only repeat, “Well, Senator Boxer stood on the Senate floor a month ago and said that the Senate doesn’t work, that she wants change”. “That’s fantastic!” I said. “So why is she supporting the McCain-Levin plan, which is NOT real filibuster reform?” To which he replied: “Well she hasn’t said she’s supporting that. Are you referencing the Huffington Post article”? “Yes”, I said. “Well, it really just says she’s undecided” he tells me. So I say, “That’s just not okay. And she hasn’t said she’s not supporting the McCain-Levin plan. Correct?” “Well, [every sentence begins with ......."well"] – “Well”, he says, finally, “Senator Boxer is definitely for filibuster reform”. “That’s awesome”, I say; “good to know”. “Now, which plan is she supporting”? “Well……she definitely supports change”, I’m told, again. “WELL“, I finish, “I hear you typing. Please be sure to note that this household, with four voters who have worked for and supported Senator Boxer her entire career, will go to the ends of the earth to make her life miserable if she votes for the wrong plan on filibuster reform. It is unconscionable to me that –” “Ma’am, ma’am, you don’t have to scream”, I’m chided. “Are you still typing”? I want to know. “Please take this down, my name and number, too, and please tell the good Senator that I am thrilled to know she is for CHANGE, but if the CHANGE she’s for is the worthless McCain-Levin proposal, and if she actually casts a vote for that deceptive thing, it will be game on from her constituents, starting with me, right now. And if you see Senator Feinstein or anyone who works for her, can you please ask them to kindly turn their phones on? Californians would like to speak with someone in that office.” Crickets…..”hello?” Silence, still. Finally: “OK”. “Okay”? I say. “Okay”? “OK” he says. Dial tone.
If this isn’t enough to make a California liberal have a full-on anxiety attack, there are the various reports indicating that Feinstein is again part of the McCain-Levin triumvirate – this time joining them in their efforts to grill the CIA over the content of the film “Zero Dark Thirty”. Really? With everything else going on right now, with all of the real work to do. With the promise she made of “first item of business” to be an assault weapons’ ban. This is what the Senator is spending her time on? Is Di-Fi the new Joe Lieberman??
All hot-headedness and kidding aside, as you know, this particular issue is extremely important to me (see my post of January 2 on filibuster reform); I would like to also believe that not only is it important to most Americans, but that they know why it must be so. We just bid adieu to a Congress that was fundamentally broken and that did not govern. In particular, our Senate operates in a way in which the minority party seems to hold the reins. How much of Mitch McConnell have we seen in the last week as opposed to Harry Reid? This is patently absurd! I’m not going to again go through the litany of reasons why this is the case, nor am I going to recite the massive gob of legislation that never came to be because of the Senate Republicans using the current form of the filibuster, which happened over four-hundred times in the 112th Congress. Unprecedented, for sure. As of November, 2012, over 65 % of Americans were in favor of real filibuster reform. I can almost certainly guarantee that the number today is even higher. And that if people knew what was actually in the McCain-Levin proposal, they too would be outraged.
So, again, I plead for you all to educate yourselves on how this affects you, as an individual, and US, as a country. I plead for action. We can absolutely make a difference. But time is of the essence. We must not let this issue slip through one single news cycle without speaking up. Making calls. Sending emails. Telling everyone you know to give their Senators an earful, even if they are on the right side of this issue – they need every ounce of reinforcement and support. Forward this link, share, copy, paste. Do something. It only takes a minute of your time.
YOU CAN FIND YOUR SENATORS AND THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION HERE.
To my fellow Californians: give Senators Feinstein and Boxer a call. Then send them an email. TELL THEM “NO”: NO TO THE MCCAIN-LEVIN FILIBUSTER COMPROMISE. NO. TELL THEM TO SUPPORT THE EFFORTS OF SENATORS MERKLEY AND UDALL INSTEAD.
You may contact Senator Feinstein at her D.C. office: (202) 224-3841 PHONE (202) 228-3954 FAX
I also encourage you to contact her at her various State offices, since she is not accepting phone calls in D.C.:
Los Angeles (Feinstein)
(310) 914-7300 PHONE
(310) 914-7318 FAX
San Francisco (Feinstein)
(415) 393-0707 PHONE
(415) 393-0710 FAX
You may send an email to Senator Feinstein here.
You may contact Senator Boxer at her D.C. office: (202) 224-3553 PHONE (202) 224-0357 FAX
Los Angeles (Boxer)
(213) 894-5000 PHONE
Bay Area (Boxer)
(510) 286-8537 PHONE
You may send an email to Senator Boxer here.
LET’S GET TO WORK!
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