10.18.2009

watch senator franken cut through bullshit and stand up for justice

This is a beautiful thing. Thank you, Jamie Leigh Jones. Thank you, Al Franken.

Please watch.



The Jamie Leigh Foundation

20 comments:

Some Person said...

Note to U.S. Senators - this is what is called "doing your job". Don't be afraid to learn from the new guy.

L-girl said...

Some Person! I had a very similar comment in the post, then cut it, because I was feeling more moved and disturbed than snarky. So THANK YOU for filling that in for me!

M@ said...

SuMei and I watched this together, as well as some of Franken's other statements on his amendment. I have been keeping up with this case, but it was new to SuMei. Both of us are shocked by the need for Franken's amendment, and thrilled that someone has actually made it and better yet passed it, even shaming a handful of Republicans into voting with it.

SuMei's reaction was, isn't it amazing that it takes a comedian to get this passed. I say it's because he's one of the few who hasn't been around long enough to be tainted by corporate interests. (Whether it'll last, who knows. I have some hope, though.)

But listening to Franken, you can almost start to believe that there's the possibility of the US government doing some good in the world. I haven't felt that way in a while.

Btw, I didn't find an easy answer to this so I'm wondering if anyone knows. Were there significant donations from Halliburton, Blackwater, etc. to the 30 senators who voted against this bill? Has anyone crunched the numbers on that yet?

L-girl said...

I say it's because he's one of the few who hasn't been around long enough to be tainted by corporate interests. (Whether it'll last, who knows. I have some hope, though.)

I'd say that's true. And there are always a handful - albeit a baby-sized hand - in Congress who keep some integrity. Perhaps he'll be one of them.

But listening to Franken, you can almost start to believe that there's the possibility of the US government doing some good in the world.

I can't. This one man is doing some good in the world, tho.

Btw, I didn't find an easy answer to this so I'm wondering if anyone knows. Were there significant donations from Halliburton, Blackwater, etc. to the 30 senators who voted against this bill? Has anyone crunched the numbers on that yet?

Good question, I wonder if anyone has. In general the mega-corps give to both parties - esp to whichever party is ascendant. But specifically those companies and which senators, that would be good to know. Let us know if you see anything, ok?

M@ said...

Let us know if you see anything, ok?

Absolutely. Can I go off on a tangent here, on that note?

I'm surprised at how little it takes to buy off US Government legislators. I keep reading about these senators who are trying to derail health care reform and have been paid off by the health insurance industry to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars, sometimes a million dollars or so.

It sounds like they're selling off their integrity at far too low a price, to me.

I'm not rich by any means, of course, and a hundred thousand bucks falling on me out of the sky would ease my most pressing personal concerns greatly. But you have to be among the richest Americans -- like the top 5% of income earners or some such stat, IIRC -- to even run for the senate.

Why would someone that rich try to torpedo something as obviously necessary as universal health care, or not using the services of gang-rape-supporting corporations, for a few hundred thousand bucks in campaign donations from multi-billion dollar corporations?

Let it be known that if I ever get into office, I'm going to be much more expensive than that. It's going to take a ton of money to buy me off, and even more to buy my silence.

And if that happens, the first time I pass something for the sake of my big business benefactors, trust me, we're going to have one hell of a party. Possibly in space.

L-girl said...

Whoo-hoo, par-tay in space!

But you have to be among the richest Americans -- like the top 5% of income earners or some such stat, IIRC -- to even run for the senate.

You have to be able to raise a ton of money, that's for sure. But do you have to be already hugely rich in order to do that? Because the top 5% of income earners in the US are waaay richer than US Senators.

I mean in general, of course. There have been plenty of Senators from hugely wealthy old-money families. But the very richest people in the US are not in politics.

Re low payoff threshold, maybe it's cumulative. Few hundred thou here, few hundred thou there, it all adds up.

M@ said...

Whoo-hoo, par-tay in space!

Don't hold your breath. Well, don't until we get out in space, anyhow.

Because the top 5% of income earners in the US are waaay richer than US Senators.

I'm not sure that's true -- it seems that the before-tax income for the 95th percentile of earners in the USA is something like $200,000 (one source here).

Anyhow, I've done a little digging on the corporate donations question. Although a couple of the half-dozen or so of these senators have received money from defence contractors like McDonnell-Douglas and Boeing, I have yet to find Halliburton or KBR or Blackwater (what the hell are they called now? Xeen or some such bullshit?) on anyone's donation list, for their entire career.

Which leads me to wonder -- how are they being compensated? Because I simply refuse to believe that anyone could be so stupid as to vote against an anti-gang-rape bill. At least, not without being paid well for being that stupid.

L-girl said...

it seems that the before-tax income for the 95th percentile of earners in the USA is something like $200,000

How can that be? Where are all the millionaires and kajillionaires that have been created since since 1980?

In US-rich terms, $200,000 doesn't even get you in the door.

Well, maybe in the door, but once you open the door, no Rockefellers or Gettys are inside.

M@ said...

Yeah, I may have been overstating it. It may have been a figure like the top 1% or 0.5% or something.

Point is, surely if you're rich enough to be a senator -- not super-rich, just rich enough that you can devote a couple of years to greasing palms and sucking up to your party's top brass and so on -- a couple hundred grand from KBR and a Christmas gift basket isn't going to make you change your vote, is it?

Maybe you're right -- it's a cumulative effect. Once you start getting dirty, you start looking for people to pay for your vote and nothing else.

What a racket.

L-girl said...

I wasn't trying to nit-pick your numbers. It just seems to me - based only on observation - that the richest people in the US aren't in government. (Not literally, anyway!)

A racket. Yes.

*sigh*

James said...

SuMei's reaction was, isn't it amazing that it takes a comedian to get this passed.

Why not? It takes a comedian to do the news properly these days, too.

It sounds like they're selling off their integrity at far too low a price, to me.

Keep in mind that they aren't selling their integrity for the money. They're not trying to get rich off of money-for-votes; they're setting themselves up to get rich later from being "good friends" of those rich corporations that got them elected.

How can that be? Where are all the millionaires and kajillionaires that have been created since since 1980?

As of 2005, 2.65% of US households earn $200,000+/yr: Household income in the US.

The curve gets steep after that: Today there are approximately 146,000 (0.1%) households with incomes exceeding $1,500,000, while the top 0.01% or 11,000 households had incomes exceeding $5,500,000. The 400 highest tax payers in the nation had gross annual household incomes exceeding $87,000,000. Household incomes for this group have risen more dramatically than for any other.

For comparison, 55% earn less than $50,000.

L-girl said...

James, M@ linked to the same Wiki source earlier in this thread. I'm questioning its accuracy. $200,000/yr is just not that much in the US now.

M@ said...

Yeah, I wasn't trying to get bogged down in the figures; I'm trying to get a sense of how rich someone has to be to become a senator. If you're in the top 5% of income earners in the USA, then yes, $50,000 might have a huge influence on your actions. If you're in the top 1%, it doesn't seem like that much; you could probably just sell one of your Bentleys if you were that hard up for cash.

My understanding is that senators are typically in the highest range of income-earners, although I agree, Laura, that they're not in the super-elite. (Those guys are the ones paying the money, not taking it, I would think.) But surely they're not going to sell their integrity for a measly bribe like a hundred grand towards their next campaign.

However, your suggestion, James, that it's an investment in their future employability seems sound. I wonder how many former congress members are senior VPs or board members at these companies. A little harder to track down, maybe, but it would be interesting to know.

L-girl said...

However, your suggestion, James, that it's an investment in their future employability seems sound. I wonder how many former congress members are senior VPs or board members at these companies. A little harder to track down, maybe, but it would be interesting to know.

There are public interest groups that keep track of this revolving door - industry lobbyist to government and back to industry.

Also, perhaps we said this already, but the quid-pro-quo starts with campaign financing. No matter how rich you are, it costs so many millions to run a campaign. Someone has to pay for that, then that someone expects your vote in return. It's less about getting rich(er) than it is about getting elected.

As long as elections are run on for-profit, corporate media, with ads paid for at market rates, the system cannot change.

L-girl said...

One such group: OpenSecrets.org: Center for Responsive Politics

James said...

I'm questioning its accuracy. $200,000/yr is just not that much in the US now.

I'm not sure that $200,000+ being only 2.65% of the population and it being not that much in the US now are mutually exclusive, actually.

Though I think it's more a case that it's not that much in major urban areas -- but in smaller cities and rural areas, it's a fair bit. I have a friend in Hamilton who keeps joking that, for what Lori & I paid for our house, we could have had Dundurn Castle if we had been willing to live in Hamilton.

Here's a more recent review of income in the US (dated Sept 29, 2009), which puts the top 5% cut-off at $180,000.

L-girl said...

I'm not sure that $200,000+ being only 2.65% of the population and it being not that much in the US now are mutually exclusive, actually.

It's hard to imagine that all the well-off professionals in so much of greater-urban US constitute only 5% of the population. I supposed it's possible, but I remain skeptical of the accuracy of that Wiki article.

Though I think it's more a case that it's not that much in major urban areas

Absolutely, but in the US, that's where money is. The money in rural US are second and third homes, not primary residences.

John F said...

I'd say I wish Al Franken was my Senator, but that would mean giving up Canada for Minnesota. Not gonna happen.

Cornelia said...

Wow, great job!

redsock said...

That is some serious ass kicking.

That poor schmuck must be counting the seconds until he can run the hell out of there.