The United States House of Representatives should approve a Senate-passed bill to renew the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), not a weaker House version that undermines protections, Human Rights Watch said today. Approving the Senate-passed bill would ensure that all women who are victims of violence have access to protection and services, Human Rights Watch said. The House is expected to vote on renewing the act this week.
So why hasn’t Congress already raised taxes on the rich? Perhaps because the superwealthy have raised a lot more political money than the rest of us.
- Percent of donations to super-PACs this year that come from just 196 Americans: 80
- Amount the Koch brothers and their foundations plan to spend to defeat Obama: $395 million
- Total money raised by John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign: $384 million
- Number of billionaires who’ve made donations to Mitt Romney’s super-PAC, Restore Our Future: 32
- Percentage of Americans who give more than $10,000 in any election cycle: 0.01
“The Center for Responsive Politics takes a look at what former members of the 111th Congress who didn’t make it back for the 112th are doing, and finds that they’re mostly lobbying.” (via Most Former Members of Congress Are Lobbying or Unemployed)
The corporations that occupy Congress. - David Cay Johnston
Today in Headlines We Never Thought We Would Actually See
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
On 11/16, Congress holds hearings on the first American Internet censorship system. This bill can pass. If it does the Internet and free speech will never be the same. Join all of us on the 16th to stop this bill.
If this law passes, sites like Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr could be shut down for letting users post freely. Join the protest to stop it.
From BoingBoing: “The worst bill in Internet history is about to become law. Law is very real here in the United States and legal language is often different than stated intentions — this law would give government and corporations the power to block sites like BoingBoing over infringing links on at least one webpage posted by their users. Believe the EFF, Public Knowledge, Google when they say this bill is about much more than copyright, it’s about the Internet and free speech everywhere…
…Everyone, the entire Internet community needs to stand together if we don’t want to see this bill actually become law. Internet and democracy groups are planning an Internet-wide day of protest called American Censorship Day on Wednesday, November 16th for the day Congress holds a hearing on these bills to create the first American Internet censorship system. Every single person with a website can join and needs to.
“It’s not illegal, but I think it’s highly unethical, I think it’s highly offensive and wrong.”
That’s Peter Schweizer, a researcher at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, talking about the ability of members of Congress to make trades in the stock market based on inside information they’ve gleaned from their positions on Capitol Hill.
Does that sound unbelievable? Watch last night’s CBS “60 Minutes” report on the subject above. It hits a wide swath of lawmakers, from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Perhaps the most egregious example: Rep. Spencer Bauchus (R-Ala.). Bauchus, who now chairs the House Financial Services Committee, was sitting in meetings with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson during the early stirrings of the financial crisis and then making big bets that the stock market would tank.
Isn’t this already illegal? Amazingly, no, say sponsors of the STOCK Act, a bill that would make it illegal for members of Congress to trade on such information. From a 2006 fact sheet from one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.):
MYTH: Even if congressional insider trading is not covered by current insider trading laws, congressional insider trading is illegal under other laws.FACT: In 1958, the House of Representatives adopted the Code of Ethics for Government Service into its Ethics Rules. Clause 8 of the Code of Ethics states that “Any person in Government service should…[n]ever use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making a private profit.” However, this is a House Rule, enforceable only by the House Ethics Committee on an internal basis, and not a law under which a Member or staffer can be prosecuted. Recent years have proven that House Ethics Rules are rarely, if ever enforced. In those cases where they are enforced, Members receive little more than a slap on the wrist. In addition, there is currently no mechanism in place within the House to track and monitor this. If we want to put an end to this practice, we must develop a new law that can and will be enforced.
In addition, the Code of Ethics for Government Service has not been adopted by the Senate and therefore does not apply to Senators or Senate staffers.
Finally, House Rules do not have any effect on those outside of the House. The Code of Ethics for Government Service has no impact on “political intelligence” firms who gather information from Members of Congress or their staffers and share that information with outside investors. In addition to shutting down congressional insider trading by Members and staffers, the legislation will prohibit trading based on information gathered and sold by “political intelligence” firms.
This is not to say that all or even most members of Congress are running around making huge profits off of insider information, as Schweizer - whose book on the subject is being released tomorrow - acknowledges. But the point is, they could be and it wouldn’t be against the law. “It’s not that I think John Kerry is calling up his broker, on health care, and saying, ‘Buy this company, sell that company,’” Schweizer says in a Daily Beast piece.
“The issue is one of a double standard…. The only group in America that we exempt [from insider trading strictures is] politicians, who are probably the last people about whom we should be saying, ‘Oh, we’ll take their word for it.’ That’s what’s so amazing to me.”