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Killing the Filibuster and Letting the Majority Rule in the Senate

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One of the many reasons for the logjam in Congress in the past years has been that while a simple majority is all that is necessary to pass a bill in the House of Representatives, in the Senate it takes 60 votes to do so.Why?Because the Senate allows for a parliamentary procedure called a “filibuster” in which the Senators who oppose a bill may keep debating it, and debating it, and debating it, unless cut off by a “cloture” vote, which takes the support of 60 senators.Thus, even though the Democrats have a majority of 53 senators (plus two independents who usually vote with them), they cannot pass a bill without the support of some of the 45 Republican senators supporting a cloture vote.
Under Robert’s Rules of Order (used by most deliberative bodies) debate is closed by the passage of a “Motion To Call the Question,” which is not debatable (see RRO section 37).In the U.S. House of Representatives such a motion passes on a mere majority vote.This originally was the rule in the Senat…

Duck Dynasty & Gays: Freedom of Speech Isn’t What It’s Quacked Up To Be

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The patriarch of the duck whistle family in “Duck Dynasty” (one of the most watched shows on television), Phil Robertson, granted a interview recently with GQ Magazine and made some remarks about blacks:
I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. ...They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! . . . Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.
and gay men:
It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logic…

Douglas and David Get Married

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Continuing the story of the romance that has been explored before in this blog below (see Related Posts below), this update gives a prècis of the actual marriage and the celebration thereof that occurred to Douglas John Whaley and David Allen Vargo, who met on Saturday, January 12th of this year at 11 p.m. in Wilton Manors, Florida, and married in New York City on Saturday, November 9th at 5:30 p.m.
Since the States of Ohio and Florida both prohibit gays from obtaining a marriage license, we flew to New York on Thursday, November 7th, and checked into the Hilton on Times Square.I mentioned to the nice woman at the reservations desk that we were in the city for the weekend in order to be married, she congratulated us, and then promptly put us in a deluxe suite with a terrific view of downtown.David hadn’t seen either “The Phantom of the Opera” or “The Lion King” (though decades before I’d watched the original casts perform both), so we saw them in that order on Thursday and then Frida…

Republican Politicians: Reluctant Homophobes?

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There are certainly major homophobic politicians at the forefront of the Republican Party.In a prior post ["The Legacy of Homophobia," see Related Posts, below] I wrote about the vitriolic attacks on homosexuals by former Presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, which are clearly based on hatred from the heart.Equally obvious is that the Tea Party wing requires Republicans to swear fealty to the belief marriage consists solely of a union between one man and one woman, and is also largely homophobic on all gay issues [as to this see the recent book Dr. Christopher Parker and Dr. Matt Barreto "Change They Can't Believe In"].
But here’s the thing: any sentient human being is now aware the gay rights battles have an obvious conclusion, and that conclusion is that gays will end up both socially and as a matter of law being treated the same as everyone else.This result will take a few more years and a Supreme Court decision or two, but it’s now inev…

Why Even Believers Should Read My Atheist Thriller “Imaginary Friend”

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While doubtless most of the sales of my atheist thriller “Imaginary Friend” have been to nonbelievers, I’ve been pleased to hear from a goodly number of readers who believe in God but contacted me one way or the other to tell me how much they enjoyed reading the novel.The reason is that while it does express an atheist viewpoint, the novel is really about how atheists are discriminated against in a way that Americans would not tolerate if such hatred was casually focused on any other minority.All sensitive readers can appreciate why that is wrong.
Moreover the book truly is a thriller.It begins with an explosion at half-time at a college football game that immures our protagonist deep inside a collapsed stadium, and the action moves from one tense event to the next until it climaxes in an ending that scared me when I finally finished the book, waited a month to see what I had, and then re-read it and was much bothered by the fact that such extreme violence came from my own sappy, pea…