Keystone Pipeline and John Boehner: Surprise! There’s money involved.

No wonder John Boehner is all over President Obama’s decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline!  He put money into the Canadian companies involved!

. . . according to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport. The firms include six oil companies — BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Exxon — along with Emerson Electric, which has a contract to provide the digital automation for the first phase of a $9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada.

Bill McKibben, a climate activist and co-founder of the group 350.org, wrote in an e-mail that Boehner has received more than $1 million from fossil-fuel companies, “and now we find out that he’s got extensive personal investments in companies dependent on tarsands oil.”

“He was willing to shut down the government in part to prevent enough time for serious environmental review,” McKibben added. “In any other facet of our public life . . . this whole list taken together would be seen for the gross conflict of interest that it is.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an interview that an investment adviser chooses Boehner’s financial investments. “He doesn’t have any control over day-to-day trades, so there’s no conflict of interest on this or any other investment,” Steel said of the speaker, adding that when it comes to the upcoming decision on Keystone XL, “We hope the president will do the right thing and approve the permit, and create American jobs.” — source:  Washington Post

Mr. Steel’s statement that there’s no conflict of interest because he doesn’t have control over day-to-day trades is an unbelievable rationalization of insider trading.  Tell me, who believes that Boehner didn’t know about the upcoming expansion proposal of the Keystone?  How many bridges do these believers want to buy???

Isn’t this a conflict of interest?  How about ethics violation?  How about an investigation into all this?  Someone?  Anyone?

Just one more example of corporate buying of influence, money in government.

HEY, MITT ROMNEY!!!

More from Mitt:

“You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.” (emphasis added)

Mitt Romney says in the one highlighted phrase how he measures success:  by how much money one makes.  Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  I am a Mormon.  This statement goes against pretty much everything the Church as an institution teaches about both success and money.  Mitt Romney tries to make himself be a man of principle, of constancy — one wife, one religion — and he’s probably right.  This statement shows where his principles and his heart really are and where they apparently have always been.

Mr. Romney is attacking President Obama, claiming that he is encouraging the 99 percent.  This shows an amazing lack of awareness of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Romney doesn’t realize that OWS didn’t really have the support of the president until late in the game.  OWS didn’t have the support of very many politicians, regardless of political party.  Democrats were slow to take up the cause, probably because they didn’t realize how strong it would be and the depth of feeling that is at the core of the movement.  Republicans, even tea partiers, seemed to be taken a bit by surprise by the movement, but tea partiers recognized the resonance of much in the OWS movement.  Romney doesn’t seem to understand any of this.  He seems genuinely oblivious to the movement and the real reasons behind the anti-Wall Street sentiment.

Hey, Mitt Romney!!!   The Occupy Wall Street Movement was not Obama’s idea!  It was OUR idea!  The idea of the PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY!  That would be the 99%!  Now, if you can get elected by the 1%, after all, you say that “corporations are people, my friend,” I guess you’ll have worked some kind of magic.  Go for it, man, you don’t have my vote, but then, I’m not part of your 1% so I guess you don’t need me anyway.

A Defender of the Tea Party. Me???!!! Good Grief!

I just read an article in TPM about the political effect of the recent yes/no/yes vote on the payroll tax cut.  If you are unaware of this discussion, I want to go wherever you have been, because it is indeed a disconnected place.  The payroll tax debate has been the “Grinch” of Christmas 2011.

This article, and many preceding it, blame the recent payroll tax fiasco and much of congressional gridlock, on the Tea Party.  Although I do think that the Tea Party, basing their position on the fact that they were actually elected, has effectively hijacked the entire Republican party in their ideological direction, I think this is particular bucket of blame is undeserved.  John Boehner, for example, is not considered part of that group, but is the Speaker of the House, the ‘main man’ for all House Republicans, and he supported the entire Republican unification againstthe payroll tax cut extension.  ALL Republicans, regardless of Tea Party preference or not, voted against the extension.

Don't you just love the "trickle down" idea?

The silly things that Boehner has said in justification of that “no” vote exemplifies politics today:  PARTY above ALL else. It wasn’t the  Tea Party caucus only that voted against the extension and effectively FOR a tax hike for working Americans, it was ALL Republicans.

Let’s track the discussion to make sure we know the who, what and when of it all.

We start with the President.

Dec. 8:  Obama says, no payroll tax cut, no Christmas break. source

Moving to the House:

Dec. 13:  Passes a bill extended the cuts for a year, but see what else their Bill contained:  source

  • —Extended expiring long-term unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless through 2012, but shortened the maximum length of coverage from 99 to 79 weeks. Required anyone receiving benefits who does not hold a high school diploma to seek a GED; let states test applicants for illegal drug use (I thought the GOP was against big government and govt. intervention?).
  • —Prevented the 2012 scheduled 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors (purpose of the cut was to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful costs).
  • Blocks Obama administration rule curbing pollution from industrial boilers; extends tax break for businesses buying equipment for 2012 (Do we hear special interest calling?).
  • —Requires the President to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline within 60 days unless he declares the project would not serve the national interest (Again, special interest whispering sweet nothing).
  • —Price tag, over $180 billion.

Now to the Senate;  the pre-House bill proposal in the Senate had initially been to pay for the tax cut extension with a 1% increase in taxes paid by those making over $1 million.  That proposal was ejected based on House Republicans saying absolutely not.  Here are the main points of the Senate:

Dec. 17:

  • —Extends payroll tax cut through Feb. 29.
  • —Renews current unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed through Feb. 29, no other changes in program (I actually like the idea of maybe not a GED/degree requirement but rather a vocational training requirement for the extension of benefits.).
  • —Also prevents 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors; extends other health care fees through Feb. 29 (What about that ‘let’s eliminate hidden, wasteful costs thing again?).
  • —Same provision on Keystone as House (Democrats listen to special interest as much as Republicans).
  • —All this would be paid for by increasing home loan guarantee fees charged to mortgage lenders by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration by one-tenth of 1 percentage point. The fee is passed on to home buyers and will apply to many new purchases and refinancings starting Jan. 1 (Wouldn’t this work against the home buyers market?  It also means that home buyers are subsidizing unemployment, doctors and all who benefit from the Social Security payroll tax cut?  This basically means that middle class Americans are still covering the bulk of everything.).
  • —Price tag $33 billion.

The next step was to send the Senate bill that passed to the House and they vote on that one.

Dec. 20:  House votes “no” on the Senate bill (229-193).

What ensued next was a general disbelief by the President, Senate and American public that the House would effectively raise payroll tax cuts to the previous level and decrease take-home pay of working people.  Boehner went public, accusing Obama and Senate Democrats of causing the gridlock and playing partisan politics.  It takes a lot of nerve to do that when it was the House Republicans that attached the “poison pill” (aka Keystone pipeline) to their bill.  They knew that would never pass the Senate and had Obama’s promise of a veto.

Enter public outcry, Senate Republicans, press editorials across the country and POLLS showing Obama was getting a political bump from the juvenile behavior of House Republicans.  See again the TPM article.

And today we have concession.

Again I say, don’t blame the Tea Party, this frat party disaster was a combined effort of ALL House Republicans.

Unlimited Campaign Donations, eh Mitt?

I can’t believe that anyone has the nerve to say what the Republican candidates are saying these days. Mitt Romney says,

“I think the Supreme Court’s decision was following their interpretation of the campaign finance laws that were written by Congress. My own view is now we tried a lot of efforts to try and restrict what can be given to campaigns, we’d be a lot wiser to say you can give what you’d like to a campaign. They must report it immediately. And the creation of these independent expenditure committees that have to be separate from the candidate, that’s just a bad idea.”

So, I guess that means that anyone or anything* can give whatever amount they want to a campaign as long as it is declared and goes straight to the campaign, not through the SuperPAC campaign laundering system that operates now.

This interpretation of Mitt’s statement:

“This is more radical than Citizens United,” David Donnelly of Public Campaign Action Fund told me when I asked for his reaction. “It means that if he is president he will appoint Supreme Court justices that will eviscerate any ability to regulate campaign finance.”

While it’s true that Romney wants donors disclosed, this doesn’t constitute regulation; it just means the public would be aware of who is giving unregulated sums in huge amounts to campaigns.

“This would set up a pipeline from Wall Street directly to campaigns,” Donnelly concluded. “This is the one percent’s wet dream.” source

Mitt’s statement should be HEADLINED EVERYWHERE! This is what this man stands for! Mitt Romney: no finer example of the 1%.

*that would be the corporations (which are NOT people, my friend).

The Daily Show and Power to the PEOPLE!

Have you read Lawrence Lessig’s book, Republic Lost?  I haven’t either, yet.  This book, however, has jumped to the top of my “must read” list.  Many of us have been blogging, talking, tumbling, etc. about the OWS (Occupy Wall Street) Movement and what it means. It sounds to me, as he talks about with Jon Stewart in the interviews below, like he has nailed it in the book.  If you have read the book, please comment below and let me know what you think.

The first segment is what was televised on The Daily Show Dec. 13, 2011; the second is the continuation of that interview, online only.  To get directly to the interviews, click on the black bars.

What is going on:  Lawrence Lessig Extended Interview Pt. 1  (06:06)

The Solution:  Lawrence Lessig Extended Interview Pt. 2 (07:25)