Fight (2005)

Drama, Family

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Fighting for Filibuster Reform-Moyers and Company-011813 PTC avi

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	Fighting for Filibuster Reform-Moyers and Company-011813.PTC.avi

President Obama’s second inauguration will be a day of celebration, but whether or not he accomplishes his second-term goals depends on what happens the next day — Tuesday, January 22 — on Capitol Hill. That’s when the United States Senate is supposed to decide the fate of the filibuster. Once “the world’s most deliberative body”, the Senate has become a graveyard of democracy where, says Bill Moyers, “grown men and women are zombified in a process no respectable witch doctor would emulate for fear of a malpractice suit.”

Case in point: The 112th Congress that just ended — the least productive in the record books — saw Republicans mounting or threatening to mount nearly 400 filibusters, blocking everything from equal pay for equal work and jobs bills to immigration reform and judicial appointments. As a result, there are more vacancies on the federal courts today than when President Obama first took office. With minimal effort — and hardly a word spoken — a minority of Senators can prevent lawmakers from even discussing legislation by simply making phone call to the cloakroom. The filibuster is also “a triumph of hypocrisy,” Moyers says, because the party in the majority always wants to reform it, until that same party winds up in the minority and wants to keep it.

Larry Cohen, president of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America, joins Bill to make the case for common-sense reform that would bring the Senate back to serving democracy. Cohen is a leader of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of nearly 50 progressive organizations campaigning hard to change the filibuster rules — not to deny a minority the right to be heard, but to hold Senators accountable by bringing back the requirement that they show up in person and talk in plain sight, so we can know who’s holding democracy hostage. But time is not on their side — unless the Senate reforms the filibuster at the beginning of the new 113th Congress — that’s as soon as next Tuesday, January 22 — the minority wrecking crew remains in charge for the next two years.

“We think our members and working people in this country and most Americans would say it’s fair: people get elected, at some point the majority should rule,” Cohen tells Bill. “That’s the way it is in every other democracy in the world… We need to bring back the debate in the U.S. Senate.”

Later in the show, the combativeness of politics gives way to the clarity of poetry, as poet Martín Espada joins Bill to examine life through verse, and read from his work. A one-time lawyer and advocate, Espada has published more than 15 books of poems, translations, and essays, including his latest poetry collection, The Trouble Ball. 171.826 MB
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