Working Overtime

“If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con’, is Congress the opposite of progress?” –Unknown

Happy Bill of Rights Day. Or is it? The first ten amendments to the US Constitution were ratified on this day in 1791, providing the legal basis for many of our individual freedoms. We’re still trying to determine the exact date of their sad, unsung demise. True, Amendments 1 through 10 are still on the books. But if they’re not in fact dead, would you sell them life insurance? We now have a genetically modified Constitution, in which individual rights have been magically, tragically transformed into corporate rights. Corporations are legal ‘persons’, with near-unlimited rights, while people are now little more than commodities, renewable resources for corporate exploitation. It’s probably just one of those peculiar coincidences that all this seems so much like the classic definitions of fascism. Probably.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” –Benito Mussolini

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

Luckily, we still have our elected representatives on our side, to balance all the greed and indifference of corporate capitalism. Check out what a great job they’re doing for us now.

“Forgive your enemies … but never forget their names.” –John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Which 32 Senate Democrats Just Sold You Out to Give Wall Street a CRomnibus Christmas?
Daily Kos * Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM PST
byLiberty Equality Fraternity and Trees
After a long day of voting, the Senate finally passed the so-called “CRomnibus,” part continuing resolution, part omnibus, almost all bad.
The two provisions that have been criticized the most by Democrats are the rider that weakens campaign finance regulations by increasing the amount that an individual can donate to a party committee in a year from $32,400 to $324,000, thus giving rich people even more say than they already have, and the rider that guts Dodd-Frank and sets the stage for future bank bailouts. Elizabeth Warren has spoken eloquently and forcefully against the latter provision, which was, in fact, directly written by Citigroup.

However, the toxicity of the deal did not end there:
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But there’s so much more to the CRomnibus than just those two riders. Under the bill, trustees would be enabled to cut pension benefits to current retirees, reversing a 40-year bond with workers who earned their retirement packages. Voters in the District of Columbia who approved legalized marijuana will see their initiative vaporized, with local government prohibited from taxing or regulating the drug’s sale. Trucking companies can make roads less safe by giving their employees 82-hour work weeks without sufficient rest breaks. Pell grants for college students will be cut, with the money diverted to private student loan contractors who have actively harmed borrowers. Government financiers of overseas projects will be prevented from stopping funding for coal-fired power plants. Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to count “quality improvement” measures toward their mandatory health spending under Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” provision, a windfall saving them millions of dollars.
I’m not done. The bill eliminates a bipartisan measure to end “backdoor” searches by the NSA of Americans’ private communications. It blocks the EPA from regulating certain water sources for farmers. It adds an exception to allow the U.S. to continue to fund Egypt’s military leadership. In a giveaway to potato growers, it reduces nutrition standards in school lunches and the Women, Infant and Children food aid program. It halts the listing of new endangered species. It stops the regulation of lead in hunting ammunition or fishing equipment. It limits contributions to the Green Climate Fund to compensate poor countries ravaged by climate change. I could go on. And even if the offending measures on derivatives and campaign finance were removed, all of that dreck would remain.
block quote end
Despite the toxicity of the bill–and the fact that it will enable Republicans to demand more—President Obama, with the help of good friend Jamie Dimon, whipped Democrats in the House to vote for it, as Nancy Pelosi refused to support it herself.
Most of Pelosi’s caucus did side with her (139 members), but 57 voted against her to join the Republican majority in rolling back the regulatory state.
After a long day of voting, the Senate passed the CRomnibus late at night by a vote of 56 to 40.
32 members of the Democratic caucus and 24 Republicans supported it. 22 members of the Democratic caucus and 18 Republicans opposed it.
So who were the naughty 32?
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
John Walsh (D-MT)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Many of them were unsurprising, but I was particularly disappointed in Baldwin, Murphy, and Schatz, who are all freshmen with fairly progressive voting records so far.
And which 22 were nice?
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Of those 22, the nicest were Brown, Franken, Manchin, McCaskill, Sanders, and Warren, who also voted against cloture (i.e. allowing the bill to proceed). That vote was 77 to 19.
Every Democrat who lost re-election voted for it. They are probably angling for a future career in lobbying now.
To quote myself from the other day….
A Republican Senate aide told The Hill,
“If liberal Democrats vote for this package it shows that conservatives can use must-pass legislation to repeal the regulatory state.” Granted, many of these Democrats are not “liberals.” But the vote nevertheless shows that Republicans will be able to roll back various parts of the regulatory state (financial, environmental, labor, etc.) over the next two years by shoving such provisions into “must-pass” bills that Obama will sign and lobby Democrats to pass.
Welcome to the next two years.


About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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8 Responses to Working Overtime

  1. The “Criminalbus” bill. Bought and paid for sellout-the-American people traitors.

    • No shit! There’s a 50-foot white fence next to my house, and I’m itching to put up a banner reading –


      [starting with a sketch map of the US, and showing logos of Koch Industries, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, General Dynamics, Monsanto etc]

      I’m just worried it might be too subtle. Thanks for your comment, as always. – Linda

  2. carolahand says:

    I’m relieved to see my senators on the “nice” list even though they both voted for Israel’s Right to Self-Defense so we would continue funding the oppression and murder of Palestinians…

    • Carol, Yes, same here, though my unprintable congressman voted for the House bill. Actually, I’ve been so demoralized I’m not sure about the Israel vote, I’ve just assumed they did the usual. Guess I should check that. Thanks for your comment! – Linda

  3. Clearly the corporate takeover of the US government is complete.

    • Looks that way — they’re certainly not bothering to hide much any more. And I can’t help wondering if even those still making pro-regular people noises (Warren, Sanders, et al) may just be … filling a political market niche, telling the progressive end of the spectrum what we want to hear, so we won’t organize and fight for serious change. Thanks for your comment, and wish us luck. – Linda

  4. This corporate personhood (and nationhood) thing is a rapidly advancing evil. I wonder, if we can ever get Big Money out of our political system, would that even stop it?

    Thanks for sharing the naughty and nice voters.

    • I hope not, but it often feels like we’ve let these heartless bastards get such a head start we may never even slow them down. Eventually, they’ll destroy themselves, but we may have disappeared into the corporate maw before the system collapses of its own poisons.

      Thanks for your comment, and I just wish there was no need for such lists, if our nominal representatives would just do their damn jobs. – Linda

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