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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 11, 2005 / 2 Nisan, 5765

Mr. Frist goes to Washington

By Jonathan Turley

Turley
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If, like me, you hate sequels, stay away from the Senate floor this month. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., may soon try to change one of the longest congressional traditions in the nation's history — the 200-year-old right to filibuster. However, unlike the original movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, this modern sequel has the makings of neither good viewing nor good politics.

For many Americans, Frank Capra's 1939 classic work was their first introduction to the filibuster and contains perhaps the quintessential American film scene. Standing alone on the floor of the U.S. Senate, young Sen. Jefferson Smith refuses to yield to the corrupt plans of his powerful colleagues. Against all odds, he invokes the filibuster — the right of a single person to hold the floor against the world — as long as he can continue to stand and to speak.

Where the filibuster was portrayed in the film as "democracy's finest show ... the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form," the sequel takes a more sinister view of the rule as a form of "tyranny of the minority."

Ostensibly, Republicans will seek to kill the filibuster in the name of a handful of controversial judicial nominees blocked by the Democrats. However, the real motivation is the much-anticipated fight over Supreme Court nominations — with as many as two or three expected this term. Indeed, President Bush places such importance on the court as his true legacy that he appears willing to jeopardize much of his legislative agenda to secure it. Not only could Democrats use the filibuster rule to block ultra-conservative nominees, they could block a vote on vacancies occurring near the end of Bush's second term.

Like Smith, Frist is the descendant of a proud family line in his largely rural state of Tennessee. Frist even looks vaguely like the lean, erstwhile Scout leader played by Jimmy Stewart. And just as Smith was offering legislation to protect his "Boy Ranger" Scouts, Frist has introduced his own pro-Scout legislation in the midst of the filibuster fight. Same characters, same issues, but a decidedly different outcome. "Mr. Frist Goes to Washington" is a lesson in realpolitik. Where Smith was the na´ve voice of the idealist, Frist is the determined voice of the ideologue.

Purposely long-winded

Actual filibuster speeches are rarely profound. In the 1930s, Louisiana Sen. Huey Long used to pass the time by detailing the proper way to make fried oysters.

The old rule allowed a member to control the Senate floor for as long as his voice and bladder held out. In 1957, the late Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act for 24 hours and 18 minutes until doctors advised him of imminent kidney failure. Not only was this a record, but Thurmond beat Smith, who collapsed after 23 hours and 16 minutes.

Under the modern rules, it is no longer possible to stand alone against the world. Sixty senators can bring "cloture" to end a filibuster. (The Republicans have only 55 members). Frist is proposing that Vice President Cheney, as presiding officer, should simply rule any filibuster as "out of order." Frist needs only 50 Republican senators to defeat any Democratic challenge to such a ruling. It is called the "nuclear option" to capture its menacing implications for Democrats and the apocalyptic political scene that it would leave behind.

Of course, only Claude Rains (who played Smith's nemesis, Sen. Joseph Harrison Paine) could do justice to the current claims of Republicans that they are "shocked, shocked" by the blocking of judicial nominees. In President Clinton's second term, the Republicans confirmed 35 out of 51 nominations to the appellate courts. In Bush's first term, 35 out of 52 have been confirmed. Republicans routinely killed nominations in committee rather than the floor, but there was no practical difference in the result. In fairness to Frist, he is right on the law. The filibuster rule has always existed at the pleasure of the Senate, which sets its own rules under the Constitution. Thus, Democratic threats of a legal challenge are less than convincing. Moreover, the filibuster rule is unabashedly and undeniably anti-democratic, as Frist has argued.

However, there was always more to the filibuster rule than a really good movie. The rule, in many ways, protects the majority from itself. When 40% of the Senate opposes a nomination, there is generally good reason for a president to rethink a lifetime appointment.

Endangering a legacy

Though the nuclear option may secure a Bush legacy on the court, it may also guarantee that it will be his only lasting legacy.

Democrats recently promised to wage a virtual war if their right of filibuster is taken away — slowing the Senate to a crawl through quorum calls and other tactics. For moderate Republicans, the loss of the rule would also eliminate the last excuse in resisting more extreme nominees. That would likely force some moderates to break with the pro-life base while also risking a backlash against the GOP among women if Roe v. Wade is endangered. Indeed, at least seven Republican senators are quietly resisting Frist's effort to "go nuclear."

Finally, the filibuster is the last of a series of rules that protected minority interests in the Senate. Once gone, the Senate would likely become less deliberative, less collegial and ultimately less influential.

Of course, it was Mr. Smith who insisted in his filibuster, "Either I'm dead right or I'm crazy." In his modern sequel, Mr. Frist is about to show that you can be both.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.

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