Ask Mrs. Vera: Do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

So, do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Truly Yours,
Philip Ulcer

Mrs. Vera with Jim Henson refrigerator magnets.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Cameron Wolf

Dear Mr. Cruz,

On behalf of my readers, I must thank you for writing in, even if under a nom-de-plume (that’s Quebecois for faker) and calling attention to this most pressing of issues.  Being subjected to a filibuster-a-thon™ from a stubborn foreigner Texan truly feels like attending a function where everyone is depressed because the host is insisting on playing a party game involving running your head through a letterpress or embossing machine, with the most points going to the person who sustains the least brain damage.  It is rude not to join, but sometimes, usually around the time we are seven or so years old, we stop jumping off bridges when our parents suggest we might not want to make that leap of faith just because Billy Wilson from down the street may suggest it and he’s popular.

Caving into peer pressure is a smell bullies love, so my advice for those whose arms and/or Congress are being twisted into doing something they don’t want to do, like, say, destroying a nation’s credit because of a law that’s already been passed and upheld by the Supreme Court, and also, because, Obama, etc. is just to say politely, but clearly, that while you respect their soul-troubling need for attention, you no longer argue with those whose intellect has not reached the developmental equivalency of an eight year old, not unless you are baby-sitting anyway, and even then arguments are restricted severely to matters of cereal choice.

I know you were hoping for something a little more head-patty/vote-getty/thumby-uppy, but I’m afraid you’ll have to figure out how to do that on your own, like a big boy, though I’m not quite sure where your thumb should go if you Master Class it by also chewing gum while eating crackers and rubbing your belly all at the same time.  Maybe, I heard a guy say he had a friend who says that if you could do all those things at the same time something super crazy-weird would happen, I don’t know, like you’d summon a Genie or win a mountain bike or discover you have health insurance, and can finally get that thing girls make a face at when they see it looked at by a doctor.  But girls are stupid anyway so who needs healthcare.  A lot of people who lived in Germany while Hitler was popular had health care, another reason Mr. Cruz is against it, and it ruined their reputation as a source of good Americans, and also Socialism, Communism and, um, Obama — all trademarks of affordable medical service that many argue we should throw our country away over and start over again, only this time with just one Texan guy in charge of everything, which would surely be better than obeying the law.  Maybe.  How can we know until we’ve tried it?

But I want to encourage those who write me to develop and grow, and have a positive relationship to learning whenever they discover they made, or are, a big mistake.  I’m sure there are some praiseworthy attributes to filibusters, even Mr. Cruz’s, which was given from the front seat of the short bus, Senatorially speaking.  So let’s try to find some.  I’m going to look in that old candy dish by the front door that is in the back of that drawer of the little stand from Grandma’s house, under the ashtrays and inside the toilet tank to see if I can find any evidence of their value to the American taxpayers who pay you to waste their time in many creative ways.  I’ll be back in a minute or two.

No luck.  Anyway, would it be helpful if we pictured Congress today as a new version of the now unfunded public school “art period” from days of yore, where creativity and novelty of expression were encouraged no matter how lumpy the ceramic mug or un-turkey like the paper plate/outlined hand project turned out to be?  Since we no longer teach art, scientific reasoning or even education in school these days, Mr. Cruz’s filibuster can be considered both a wonderful gift of culture and simultaneously an overpriced ticket’s worth of awful, condescending performance art we managed to somehow get through without committing a violent crime to make it stop.  Though his book report was overly long, there can be no denying that he had actually read the book, quite recently probably.  Also, that he had mastered the material, successfully conveying to other grade school minds that vote on the course we take through history that they are not, in fact, Capital K Krazy for never wanting to eat green eggs in any variety of locations or preparations.  Yet, somehow, I feel as though I’ve been eating nothing but very, very green eggs, and plenty of them, when I look at footage of the speech or casually think about the politics of the last 5 years.

Another great Texan Leader has left some daunting footprints to fill for anyone born in a foreign country that hopes to run for President here.  Those called to serve thusly usually do so because of the horror of Obamacare, though the motives for those who ran prior to the second half of the first decade of the current century remain largely unexplained.  George W. Bush (Not King George from 1776, just to be clear, who people with sick babies aspire to be like), was also attempting to sway future voters through children’s literature on one particularily fine morning not so long ago, and had enough respect for his audience and commitment to the material to stick it out for hours, long after being informed about something he was warned would happen, did happen.  And, for that matter, long after any child could reasonably be expected to care anymore about how Dolores Duck had Paddled the Candy Canoe all the way back to Old Widow Holly Burton’s five-sided house in a field in Pennsylvania somewhere.  Or maybe it was the one about the purple crayon.  The point is about how lucky we are that the rules of the filibuster allow grown men to talk down to their voting countrymen through the words of the last man whom members of both major political parties could see themselves voting for — Dr. Suess.  He is a doctor after all, the argument goes, and there was no co-pay to watch the filibuster (a few hidden costs, but, whatever), so as long as you avoid getting a flu shot this year that ought to be enough health care for Joe Citizen right there.  You Betcha!

If Mr. Cruz has calculated correctly, ignoring things like fractions and angles and junk, he may have assessed the national temperature in the least child-distressing way there is that involves thermometers.  The very least a dentist can do for the frightened, uncomprehending toddlers who have been terrified by the older boys on the radio about how much it is going to hurt to get dental work done is to read them a made-up, fanciful story to take their minds off the excruciating pain he’s about to cause them, crippling them emotionally and financially for decades to come, with nightmares about the black-tooth fairy leprechaun, O’bama, climbing down from his rainbow coalition in the sky during the darkiness of night to eat the teeth of naughty boys and girls whose parents are likely Democratic™ voters.

Filibusters are great news for those obsessed with the bladder control of their potential political leaders.  The filibuster is probably the only tool available to them, within the bounds of propriety, for determining a candidate’s suitability for wielding power.  That is the main, among many, many stupid reasons, that so many stupid people feel we could never have a Lady President.

Another great thing about filibusters is how they remind us that Phyllis Schafly is still either alive, irrelevant, weird-haired or once a virgin, all of which are good points, though bringing the Nation’s business to a stop to make these points seems a bit on the costly side.  But when it is your filibuster, you get to do things your way.  Just remember that if you throw your party too hard at your friends and votequaintences, you may find people not responding to your future invites in a timely manner, and may end up having to eat that red velvet cake the size and shape of an elephant all by yourself.  Be warned, you might need to see a doctor after that.  Just don’t pick one that Suess all the time, it is rather off-putting in my opinion.


Mrs. Vera, lost.Mrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!