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Tommy Tuberville's war
He's holding up military appointments. It's hilarious
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington defined actor Jimmy Stewart as a decent guy who winds up confronting evil. His Jefferson Smith was the forerunner to George Bailey. While Mr. Smith was a box office hit in its time and It’s A Wonderful Life was not. But the latter is more remembered today thanks in large part to its copyright expiring. In the 1980s, TV stations ran the film repeatedly each Christmas because it was royalty free. Some loophole lawyer later restored the copyright and people still want to see it, generating revenue for the film.
Writers invoke Mr. Smith Goes To Washington anytime someone in Washington displays an ounce of courage and challenges the whole darned racketeer-influenced corrupt organization we lovingly call the federal government.
The fictional Mr. Smith served in the Senate to finish the term of a senator who died. He had no intention of seeking the job himself. But when corruption raised its ugly head in the form of the senior senator from his state, Smith made the mistake of fighting back. He held a one-man filibuster and succumbed to exhaustion. The evil senator had a change of heart, someone rang a bell and Clarence got his wings. Thee end.
OK, maybe it didn’t quite end that way but it’s close enough for government work.
In real life, the evil in Washington never quits. If it did, no one would serve in Washington because there would be no money in it.
But also in real life now, Tommy Tuberville is giving the military brass fits by blocking their promotions and transfers to new commands. He’s Alabama’s junior senator having coached football at Auburn; he was 7-3 against Alabama which is all you need to know about any Auburn coach.
In light of the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court sending abortion back to the states, Biden and the Pentagon decided to give women in the military and military dependents time off and free transportation to an abortion clinic in a locality where it is legal.
Tuberville said, hey, wait a minute. The Hyde Amendment forbids using federal money on abortion. He said either change the law or change the policy. The Biden administration and Congress refuse to do either one.
A filibuster would be shut down quickly. But a Senate rule allows one senator to hold up military promotions and new assignments for generals and admirals.
The Senate rubberstamps military promotions as it shows no interest in holding the Pentagon accountable. Tuberville is a newbie, having been elected in 2020. He learned of this rule and used it to stop the promotions in February. They are piling up. The Pentagon is upset and some of his Republican senators are upset as well.
Politico reported, “Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) repeatedly said Sunday that Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s one-person blockade of military nominations was paralyzing the Defense Department.
“‘To hold up the top brass from being promoted and lower brass, I think, is paralyzing our Department of Defense,’ said McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on CNN.
Yo, Red China. You do not need nukes or hypersonic missiles to defeat the American military. All you need do is stop the one-stars from getting that second star, and so on and so forth. Mao called us a paper tiger. I am beginning to see his point.
Politico also said, “More than 300 nominations await consideration. Backers of Tuberville’s blockade, which the Alabama Republican launched because of the Pentagon’s abortion policy, have said the nominations could be considered individually, though doing so would tie up the U.S. Senate indefinitely.”
Tying up the Senate indefinitely sounds like a winner to me.
The Independent (which called him an Alabama coach) said, “Mr. Tuberville’s protest effectively prevents a unanimous voice vote in the Senate to confirm hundreds of military nominations and promotions, putting the lives of service members and their families on hold while waiting for what has been an otherwise routine approval process.
“‘These military leaders are being forced to endure costly separations from their families — a painful experience they have come to know from nearly 20 years of deployments to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan,’ military secretaries wrote in the Washington Post this week.
“‘All because of the actions of a single senator,’ they added.”
Fact-check: Nope. It’s all because the commander-in-chief will not budge from his position of not changing the law or the policy which violates the law.
Jezebel reported, “Normally, military promotions are a pretty uncontroversial action and the Senate approves them by unanimous consent. However, if even one senator (say, from Alabama) objects, the motion fails. Instead, Tuberville is calling for an up-and-down vote on every single promotion which, in the glacially paced Senate, would take months.”
So Chuck Schumer and Freeze Frame McConnell could get the promotions and new assignments passed without a mass vote. How hard would it be to hold a voice vote for each promotion? Get a auctioneer to zip through the names, pausing for everyone to say aye, and then say it passed. It could be done in an hour.
Steven Stafford, a spokesman Tuberville, said, “No one can stop Chuck Schumer from holding votes on these nominations. He just doesn’t want to.
“It’s also inaccurate because acting officials are in all of these roles. In some cases these acting officials are the nominees for permanent roles. No jobs are open or going undone right now.”
Schumer, McConnell and the rest do not want the promotions and new assignments to go through because they want to keep abortion around as an issue because it helps them get votes in their home states. Well, sort of home states. They live in DC, Maryland and Virginia but claim a home in the state they represent. Bobby Byrd kept a post office box in Sophia, West Virginia (pronounced So-phee).
Tuberville, like Mr. Smith, is on to something.
Jamie McIntyre of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Tuberville may never agree to military promotions by unanimous consent.”
McIntyre quoted Tuberville as saying, “We’ve got 44 four-star generals right now. We only had seven during World War II. So I think we were a little overloaded to begin with. I don’t care if they promote anybody to be honest with you.”
I don’t either. We are not talking about a guy getting a stripe when completing boot camp or A-school. We are talking about generals and admirals.
Jimmy Stewart was a pilot in World War II. He came home devastated by the war, but he stayed in the reserves and retired a general. Some say he was a good actor but I believe he was just a decent guy in an occasionally obscene world.
Tuberville seems to have a touch of that inside him. Anyway, I hope he sticks to his principles on this one because you cannot have a law that says one thing and a military that does the opposite.