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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

July 29, 2008


Big Oil's Employees

Senator Tom Coburn (REPUBLICAN-OK) led the GOP-backed murder of a good bill. The "Advancing America's Priorities Act" was a bill designed to help victims of torture, the handicapped and others who, for varying reasons, have trouble helping themselves. The bill had 52 votes for but fell short of the required sixty which would have left Coburn and others on the Red side of the aisle without a filibuster leg to stand on.

Coburn says that he wants no bill to pass through the upper chamber of congress until "something" is done about gas prices. In other words, Coburn and his band of defiant Republicans will do anything and everything in their power to stall government in favor of getting Big Oil their prize of off-shore drilling privileges. The thought process is that they need to get it done in this, the final days of the 110th Congress because they have their man, President Bush, in the White House. Their fear is that if and when a Democrat - Barack Obama - takes the big seat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their free shot at off-shore drilling will be off the table.

As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said:

"They're (the Democratic majority in The Senate) using every trick to get us away from dealing with high gas prices. Republicans won't let them change the subject. Republicans will vote to keep the Senate focused on the number one domestic issue facing our nation."

Republicans to the rescue. But who are they rescuing?

Translating Republicanese to English, the language the rest of us speak, the Senate Republicans will do nothing and block everything until their true employers - Big Oil - get their way.

Of course this led to the defeat of a bill designed to help those less fortunate than most of us (and certainly less fortunate than McConnell and Coburn and their "base of haves and have mores"). The Democrats in The Senate voted unanimously for the legislation and even had three GOP colleagues cross party lines to join them. Senator John Warner of Virginia, who is retiring this year, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon and Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota all crossed the line.

In his vote for the bill, I'd like to think that Warner has developed a conscience, while I'm sure Coleman's support has more to do with his fight to keep his US Senate seat than altruism.

This bill to aid the handicapped and victims of misfortune pale in comparison to the needs of Big Oil, or so is the logic on the GOP side of the Senate aisle. While this is obvious to anyone paying attention, it also pays to think back to the bills that were important enough to rush through the Senate while the Republicans held its control.. Does anyone remember the Terry Schiavo debacle? I sure do.

To quote the Associated Press regarding the "Advancing America's Priorities Act":

The bill "included the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crime Act, aimed at investigating unsolved civil rights era crimes; the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act; a runaway and homeless youth bill; a bill to combat child exploitation by pornographers; a measure to create a database for Lou Gehrig's disease victims and aid for new mothers suffering from depression,"
-Laurie Kellman writing for The Associated Press (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080728/ap_on_go_co/senate_showdown)

The grand total for these worthwhile bills would have added up to about $10 billion, or about one month's cost of our involvement in Iraq. Coburn decided that any money spent on the needy is money better spent elsewhere. Perhaps another insurance company bail-out; or maybe we could refinance some more loans made by greedy investors to sub-prime borrowers so they can keep their Summer mansions in the Hamptons, beach homes in the Bahamas or other icons of their affluent lifestyles.

After all, suffering must be done across the board, mustn't it? And by "board" they mean the middle class.

"Next time you see someone in a wheelchair at home, explain to them about how you voted against moving forward on something that may get them out of that wheelchair,"
-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-NV)

They won't see them Senator Reid. It's too far down from their ivory tower to get a good look.

And there won't be a peep about this bill from either the White House or Senator McCain's campaign. What could they say to explain their lack of support?

That silence speaks volumes.

Coburn, for his part, didn't object to no less than twenty-five other bills, amendments and motions which came before the US Senate from July 9 through July 26 of this year. His disdain for the process only seemed to rear its ugly head when a decent bill aimed at helping the less fortunate came about. And the reason was simple: He, along with thirty-none of his GOP comrades, decided to hold this good bill hostage until they, and Big Oil, get their collective way.

Here are a few or the bills which hadn't incurred Coburn's wrath in July alone:
-H.R. 6304; Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978
-On the Nomination Confirmation Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, USA, to be General
-On the Nomination Confirmation Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, to be General
-Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008

The last of the quartet above (Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008), Coburn didn't even bother voting.

"They feel bad about siding with big oil over advancing America's priorities,"
-Reid, obviously in jest

And now there can be no doubt as to who those forty Republican Senators actually work for.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg