'We had to destroy the village to save it'
Attributed to many different people, including war correspondent Peter Arnett who supposedly attributed the quote to an unidentified Army officer. Used circa 1968, perhaps during the bloody Tet offensive. Some people believe the phrase applies to the massacre at My Lai , where approximately 500 unarmed villagers were murdered by rampaging US troops. Army Lt. William Calley was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment but served only three years before being pardoned by President Richard Nixon. Tim Larimer of Time magazine returned to My Lai 30 years later and said, ' My Lai 's place in American history is firmly entrenched, as a disturbing wake-up call that the US military could be as guilty of inhumane acts as any army.' A Vietnamese war veteran who returned to the village to find his entire family murdered and then hastily buried, remarked, 'There were many My Lais.' Recently the Toledo Blade corroborated his remark, uncovering other atrocities and war crimes in Vietnam . Lately the Israelis seem to have adopted the 'We had to destroy the village to save it' policy in Palestinian territory, and the likelihood is we will in Iraq , since we've asked the Israelis for advice.
The phrase above came to mind as I read about the battle in the Senate over the filibuster.
Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday dropped his demand that the new Democratic Senate majority promise to preserve the filibuster — which Republicans could use to obstruct President Biden’s agenda — ending an impasse that had prevented Democrats from assuming full power even after their election wins.
In his negotiations with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the new majority leader, Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, had refused to agree to a plan for organizing the chamber without a pledge from Democrats to protect the filibuster, a condition that Mr. Schumer had rejected.
Two centrist Democrats stated that they are opposed to eliminating the filibuster, which allowed things to move forward without a guarantee from Chuck Schumer.
As I understand things, the Senate apparently will abide by a 2001 power-sharing rule, which came into play when the Senate was 50/50 - and it apparently still maintained the filibuster.
By not demanding a pre-emptive surrender by the Democrats, McConnell's latest approach means than Senate committees are no longer frozen under Republican control, and new Democratic senators can now be seated on on committee panels.
For now, the Democrats have not INSISTED that the filibuster be eliminated. However, they've also thrown down the gauntlet - if the Republicans abuse the filibuster, then it will be.
In order to make sense of all this, I think that what happened is the McConnell lost, without losing, and Schumer won, without winning.
Does that sound about right?
If you are still confused, Jamelle Bouie's column from this morning may help. It references a battle that goes all the way back to 1960. Back then , the solution was the rules committee.
The Rules Committee was where legislation went to live or die. It decided whether a bill moved to the floor for full consideration or if it was buried and forgotten. The 12-person committee was meant to act like a traffic cop, controlling the flow of legislation to the entire House. Under Republican Howard Smith, however, the committee used its broad powers to restrict the scope of activity altogether.
Sam Rayburn solved the problem by making the committee bigger.
The Rules Committee could be as small as five members or as large as 15. Smith could keep his coalition. With three additional members, two Democrats and one Republican, liberals and moderates would have an 8-7 majority. They could block legislation as needed but they could also let Kennedy’s bills through.