It’s hard to know where to begin when running down the list of harmful special interest giveaways in the omnibus spending bill narrowly passed by the House yesterday. Earlier this week, we wrote about a rider in the bill that would allow the amount of money rich donors can give to political parties to skyrocket. The legislation moving through Congress also includes a provision that would have the effect of allowing mountaintop mining companies to keep filling Appalachian streams with toxic waste. Yet another rider is a “Wall Street giveaway,” actually drafted by Citigroup’s lobbyists, that would repeal a piece of financial regulation and let banks take part in more kinds of high-risk trading deals with government backed money.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren railed against the Wall Street rider on the Senate floor:
[Americans] see a Congress that works just fine for the big guys, but it won’t lift a finger to help them. If big companies can deploy armies of lawyers and lobbyists to get the Congress to vote for special deals that benefit themselves, then we will simply confirm the view of the American people that the system is rigged.
It is, as Sen. Warren says, hard not to think that “the system is rigged” when members of Congress use a spending bill to sneak through major policy shifts that benefit wealthy political donors, Wall Street executives, and big businesses, while leaving the majority of Americans with an even weaker political voice.
This is especially true when you consider that those who voted for the rider-filled spending deal were, by and large, the members who received bigger contributions from the benefitting industries. The Washington Post compared the House spending bill votes with Center for Responsive Politics data on campaign contributions to each representative from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries. What they found is disheartening, but not surprising:
On average, members of Congress who voted yes received $322,000 from those industries. Those who voted no? $162,000.
And that doesn’t even take into account the dark money whose source is unknown to the public (but likely known by the officials who benefit from it).
It’s one more example of the influence that money can buy in our current system, where big gifts from corporate spenders pave the way for corporate political victories. When Wall Street lobbyists can literally write the laws they want, no matter the impact on ordinary Americans, it’s clear that we need serious reform to the rules governing money in politics.
As part of Matt Barber’s apparent quest to bring down the Religious Right from the inside by making it look completely ridiculous, his website today published this column by contributor Luke Hamilton about how the “Demokratik Party” is deciding between “Shrillary” and the “hardcore socialist progressive” Elizabeth Warren.
Hamilton writes that Hillary Clinton may not capture the “Demokratik” nomination because “she has looked more ready for a knockout than the Oval Office. It’s hard to tell with her pantsuits, but those legs look rubbery and her corner has got to be concerned.”
If voters instead nominate and elect Warren president, Hamilton warns, it would represent “a contiguous communist coup with long-ranging repercussions.”
That’s right, voters using the democratic, constitutional process to elect a president are actually carrying out a communist coup!
At one point, it seemed virtually predetermined that Shrillary would be the 2016 Demokratik Presidential candidate. So it’s surprising that recently she has looked more ready for a knockout than the Oval Office. It’s hard to tell with her pantsuits, but those legs look rubbery and her corner has got to be concerned. Her political blunders over the past several weeks seem to confirm the fact that the political acumen in that family resides exclusively in Bubba. For someone with such extensive experience with the limelight and televised interviews, it is hard to believe that she misspoke so badly by claiming poverty after Bill left office. She has since tried to fall back on relativism and insist that she and Bill aren’t broke but they’re also not like some of those people who are “truly well off”. Riiiight, because the rest of us have made $100m over the past 20 years.
But hold the phone! There appears to be a new snout in the pigpen. The whisper campaign is gaining a full head of steam to draft Senator Elizabeth “Fauxcohontas” Warren into the race for President. According to Edward Klein, the author of Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas, the President has tasked Valerie Jarrett with the job of convincing Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016. It is hard to know if Klein’s sources are accurate, but it is logical to think that Obama is involved in this effort. Primarily because Obama is incessantly distracted from doing his actual job by anything and everything. This project would allow him to avoid geopolitical crises like the Islamification of Iraq, unknown numbers of people (with unknown identities!) pouring over our borders, ongoing attacks faced by our allies Ukraine & Israel, and an American economy more fragile than the sanity of Ed Schultz. Also, it’s logical to think that Obama would be interested in convincing Warren to run for President because playing Kingmaker to the next progressive socialist in the White House would scratch his egomaniacal itch and cement his name as the first of a new generation of Marxist “forefathers” who fundamentally transformed the United States into poverty-stricken irrelevancy. A Chicago Machine Marxist is an unfortunate accident, a Chicago Machine Marxist followed by an East Coast Socialist Egghead is a contiguous communist coup with long-ranging repercussions.
What would a Warren Presidency mean for the country? Like Obama, she’s a hardcore socialist progressive, but there is a subtle difference. Obama seems to feel the need to explain his redistributive policies, almost apologetically at times. Warren is unashamed of her avarice. Her boilerplate stump speech seems to suggest that she would be able to tap into the populist anger which Clinton is so desperately trying to access; anger at the capitalist cronies who have benefited from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies. But unlike libertarian conservatives, who share her anger at crony capitalism, her only solution seems to be the vilification of success and the exponential growth of central authority. In many ways, a Warren presidency would complete the transformation begun on Barack’s watch, which explains why Jarrett is helping measure lawn space for Elizabeth’s presidential teepee.
On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored Senator Udall’s amendment proposal, SJRES 19, adding a key progressive voice to the amendment movement. With Warren’s endorsement, the entire Massachusetts’s congressional delegation is now in support of amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases.
In a speech two months ago, Senator Warren decried the overwhelming influence of money in politics and noted that “Congress needs power to address all of the ways in which corruption threatens the health of our political system.” That notion – that Congress and the states should have the constitutional authority to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes – is at the heart of what the Udall proposal does.
To date, 16 states, 500 cities/towns, and over 150 members of Congress have called for a constitutional amendment. To learn more about the amendment movement, visit: www.united4thepeople.org.
At an AFL-CIO convention this weekend, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called out the increasingly pro-corporate lean of the U.S. Supreme Court. Politico reports:
On the opening day of the AFL-CIO’s convention, Warren — the highest-profile national Democrat to address the gathering here — warned attendees of a “corporate capture of the federal courts.”
In a speech that voiced a range of widely held frustrations on the left, Warren assailed the court as an instrument of the wealthy that regularly sides with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She cited an academic study that called the current Supreme Court’s five conservative-leaning justices among the “top 10 most pro-corporate justices in half a century.”
“You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business,” Warren said, drawing murmurs from the crowd.
The study that Warren was referring to is a Minnesota Law Review study that found that the five conservative justices currently on the Supreme Court have sided with corporate interests at a greater rate than most justices since World War II. All five were among the ten most corporate-friendly justices in over 50 years. Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts were the top two.
The Supreme Court majority’s consistent twisting of the law to put the interests of corporations over those of individuals is one of the main characteristics of the Roberts Court, but it is not the only extremely influential court with such a pro-corporate bent. In fact, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to which President Obama has nominated three highly qualified candidates, has been following the same trend, also because of the influence of judges named by George W. Bush. This is the court whose ultra-conservative justices declared that cigarette label warning requirements violate the free speech rights of tobacco companies and that requiring that employers inform employees of their right to unionize violates the free speech rights of the corporations.
While there is not currently a vacancy at the Supreme Court that could affect its balance, there are three at the DC Circuit. That is why Senate Republicans are working so hard to keep them empty.
The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved the nomination of Sri Srinivasan to sit on the powerful Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. There are currently four vacancies on the D.C. Circuit – and Senate Republicans have prevented President Obama from filling a single one.
The Senate GOP has been unusually cooperative with Srinivasan’s nomination, but have signaled that they will not be so friendly to future nominees to the court. Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley is actually trying to permanently lower the number of judgeships on the court to prevent President Obama from reversing its far-right, anti-consumer, anti-worker tilt.
The Senate yesterday also confirmed William Orrick to serve on the District Court for the Northern District of California, a seat that had been officially designated a “judicial emergency” because of its overworked courts. The confirmation vote came a full eight months after Orrick was first approved with bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts discussed the Senate GOP’s extraordinary obstruction of federal judicial nominees, noting the high level of officially-designated “judicial emergencies,” which has risen by 30 percent since the beginning of the year.
The Founders of our Republic gave to the President the task of nominating individuals to serve and gave us the responsibility to advise on and consent to these appointments. For more than 200 years this process has worked.
Presidents over the years have nominated thousands of qualified men and women who were willing to serve in key executive branch positions.
The Senate has considered nominations in a timely fashion and taken up-or-down votes. Of course, there have been bumps along the way, but we have never seen anything like this. Time and again, Members of this body have resorted to procedural technicalities and flatout obstructionism to block qualified nominees.
At the moment, there are 85 judicial vacancies in the U.S. courts, some of which are classified as ``judicial emergencies.'' That is more than double the number of judicial vacancies at the comparable point during President George W. Bush's second term. Yet right now there are 10 nominees awaiting a vote in the Senate, and they have not gotten one.
Senate Republicans like to blame the judicial vacancy crisis on President Obama, whom they say has not been quick enough to nominate judges. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas ran into the fallacy of this talking point last week, when he was called out for blaming the president for Texas vacancies that Cornyn himself was responsible for.
The president continued his steady pace of federal judicial nominations last night, nominating four women to federal judgeships in Utah, Tennessee, New York and Mississippi.
UPDATE: The White House points out in a blog post today that President Obama has now nominated more district court judges than had President Bush at this point in his presidency.
People For the American Way has been stressing the enormous importance of the Supreme Court in the next election, emphasizing that if Mitt Romney is elected, he has promised to nominate extreme right-wing judges who will limit our civil liberties and rescind equality measures. In a new ad, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren echoes these concerns, warning that a Senate dominated by Republicans has the potential to approve a justice that would help overturn Roe v. Wade. Warren’s opponent Scott Brown has already voiced his support for Justice Antonin Scalia, naming the ultra-conservative judge as his favorite on the Supreme Court. We cannot afford to elect candidates like Mitt Romney or Scott Brown, who are sure to nominate and confirm justices that will take us back in time and turn back the progress we have made on behalf of women’s rights, worker’s rights, voting rights, and more.