Friday, April 29, 2005

LTE Never to be Published

The Daily ran an opinion piece yesterday about overturning the Senate Filibuster. I wrote a letter to the editor that was not published in today's edition. As Friday is the most likely time to get these things published, I think its unlikely it will ever see the cold crisp pages of our local circular. Maybe my argument was too high brow! Even so, the letter can live on here, among my clutter of thoughts. Maybe someone will pick up the term "Elephant in a China Shop" and make it famous.

Grasping the Subtleties

The United States Senate is a complicated legislative body.  It is the embodiment of federalism central to American democracy.  The only rule handed down to the Senate by the Constitution is that the Senate, independent from all other branches of government, shall decide what that federalism looks like.  We elect Senators to help shape American federalism.  Maybe a fluke of history, or perhaps intentional and structured, our Senators decided that an aspect of federalism means that if 2/5th of the states want continued discussing of an issue, discussion continues.

Is it obstructionist?  I'm not convinced.  During Clinton's term the Republicans held up numerous appeals court nominees in committee.  It's a rule, devised by our Senators, that allows a minority of Senators (ten, to be exact) to prevent a nomination from reaching the floor and that all important up or down vote.  Is that rule obstructionist?  Is that rule unconstitutional?

I suggest the rules are one in same.  If it is unconstitutional for 40 senators to hold up a nominee, than it is equally unconstitutional for 10 senators to hold up a nominee.  The Senate is a subtle body, designed to represent the complexity of American federalism.  Declaring the filibuster unconstitutional and questioning centuries of American tradition over a small handful of appointees is a bit too much like the elephant in the china shop for my tastes.

2 comments:

Apologia_Christi said...

Hello, I read your comment at: Coffeehousesoapbox.blogspot.com about using embryonic stem cells to benefit other children and adults. I'm not sure how familiar you are with this proceedure, but I'm assuming you do not think the embryo is a human being. That issue aside for the moment, let me point out some factors in the ESCR (Embryonic Stem Cell Research) adventures and their results.

Advocates of embryonic stem cell research want more tax money and less scrutiny over what they do with it. But can they deliver on their promise to use public money to cure everything from Alzheimer’s to acne? Judge for yourself:

1) The promise of embryonic stem cell research is wholly speculative at this point. Not one human therapy of any kind has been developed or tested using ESCR and none are on the horizon.


2) ESCR will not cure Alzheimer’s disease. The latter is a whole brain disease rather than a cellular disorder (like Parkinson’s).


3) There are not 400,000 "left-over" embryos available for destructive research. Truth is that only 3 percent of these 400,000 are actually available for research; the rest remain in the custody of parents who created them in the first place. These embryos are not public property and unless government is prepared to override parental rights, there never will be huge numbers of them available. Even if ALL the embryos currently frozen were used for ESCR, only 275 lines of stem cells would result.


4) Because we will never have huge numbers of "left-over" embryos, researchers must rely on cloned embryos created expressly for destructive research.


5) Each cloning attempt requires many female eggs, all of which will be sold at a high premium. Bottom line: Cloning treatments will be hugely expensive.


6) Poll numbers showing that Americans support ESCR are not reliable. Rarely are Americans asked, "Do you support using tax-dollars to fund the creation of human embryos so that they can
be destroyed for research?"

The question begging is on the side of the advocates. What is the unborn? If is simply a mass of cells like our somatic (bodily) cells, kill it. Do whatever you want with it. But, if it is a distinct and whole human being, we have a moral dilemma in unjustly taking it's life for the benefit of others. It's homicide for personal gain.

Let me know what you think. I'd be more than happy to discuss this with you.

srcastic said...

Well I am sorry that I was a conduit for that comment.

That aside, I think you have good arguments about the filibuster. I am inclined to agree.