Year 4, Month 5, Day 21: The Conservative Id, Yes, The Conservative Id

We have a minority vice-president. WaPo:

Environmentalists have seized on a comment Vice President Biden made while working a rope line in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, in which he told an activist he is “in the minority” within the administration when it comes to opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

Elaine Cooper, who serves on the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s South Caroline chapter, said in an interview Wednesday that Biden shared his thoughts with her during Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) annual fish fry.

Buzzfeed first reported the vice president’s remarks late Tuesday, based on an e-mail a colleague of Cooper had sent to fellow environmentalists.

Cooper, who was wearing a black-and-white leather hat, said she attracted the vice president’s attention and was able to ask him about the controversial proposal to ship heavy crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

” ‘Sir, do you support rejecting the Keystone pipeline?’ ” Cooper recalled asking Biden. “And he responded, ‘Yes, I do support rejecting the Keystone pipeline, but I’m in the minority.’ And he smiled back at me.”

Good for Joe. How about good for us? May 9:

It’s an enduring irony: in a corporatized political system, the only position in government offering almost complete freedom of expression is the one John Nance Garner so memorably characterized as “not worth a bucket of warm spit.” Vice-Presidents have for years expressed their constituents’ true sentiments in ways that chief executives cannot; think of Nixon under Eisenhower, and Spiro Agnew’s turn as “Nixon’s Nixon” a decade later, the voice of the conservative American id.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, channels our collective superego, as witness his emergence as an eloquent and compassionate advocate of marriage equality. Nowhere is Mr. Biden’s finely-honed moral sensibility more evident than in his recent outspoken opposition to that planetary disaster-in-the-making, the Keystone XL pipeline. Unlike some who’ve held his office, Joe Biden elevates the vice-presidency with an eloquent expression of the better angels of our nature. Let’s hope he has the president’s ear.

Warren Senders

Day 18: Joe Biden Hears From Me

This morning I read a nice piece at Kos, titled “Vice-President Biden Bashes the Filibuster.” Better late than never, I suppose. I still cannot believe it’s taken the Administration this long to figure out that they’re dealing with an opposition party that is entirely composed of people who think Fox News is genuinely Fair and Balanced; an opposition party of delusional sociopathic denialists, actually.

So I wrote Joe a letter. I emailed it to him at the WH website, and I’m going to print it out and mail it to him tomorrow.

It was interesting to craft a letter in which climate-change issues were the secondary theme rather than the primary focus. This will open up more possibilities on the days when I have time to compose new material rather than just recombine my old verbiage.

Dear Vice-President Biden,

I was deeply gratified to read that you recently made the statement that, “As long as I have served … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they’ve done. This is the first time every single solitary decision has required 60 senators. No democracy has survived needing a supermajority.” The supermajority requirement has effectively stifled participatory democracy in our country. When a single senator from a low-population state can hold up a bill which is supported by the vast majority of the nation’s population, we no longer live in a democratic republic.

While this situation has been made obvious by the continuous wheeling and dealing over health-care legislation, the supermajority requirement will stand in the way of meaningful action on another policy initiative, one that is even more important for our long-term viability as a nation and as a planet. How can genuine action on climate-change legislation take place in the face of the 60-vote requirement?

Our oceans are becoming acidified, with potentially catastrophic results for the billions on Earth who depend on the seas for their food. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are already above the levels Dr. James Hansen calls the maximum to “sustain the climate in which civilization evolved and to which all planetary life is adjusted.” America needs to assume the leadership responsibilities that go along with being a global superpower, and that means that passing a robust climate bill is essential at all levels: it’s essential for our economy; it’s essential for the health of our citizens; it’s essential for our country’s role in the world; it’s essential for the survival of our planet.

I urge you to suggest to Majority Leader Reid and other members of the Senate that they adopt the proposal of Senator Tom Harkin, in which a gradually decreasing majority would be required for cloture. It is my understanding that this could come up for consideration at the opening of the next session of Congress, when the Senate Rules Committee can institute changes to the Senate’s rules of procedure. We need to reform the abuse of the filibuster as soon as possible, so that a tiny minority of lawmakers can no longer effectively paralyze the Senate, making progress impossible.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Warren Senders

I’m pretty tired. I did 5 hours of phonebanking for Coakley today and will be helping voters get to the polls tomorrow morning. If you live in Massachusetts, REMEMBER TO VOTE!!!