Friday, February 27, 2015

What's Hidden in All Those "Riders"

Government is supposed to be accountable to the people (play the laugh track here) and that includes the scoundrels we elect to Congress (guffaws) who devised their committee system so that accountability is impossible.

When committees do “mark ups” of pending legislation corruption is in  full flower.  The foxes are loose in the hen house.  Let the good times roll! Fill the pork barrels! Crank up the policy riders!  Anything goes! These guys work behind closed doors and hide their dirty work deep in the innards of the legislation they mangle.

The federal budget is a favorite playground.  Because the thieves and scoundrels know we have to have a budget, they hide all kinds of mischief in it.  In order to provide money for the necessary functions of government, the frivolous, the pork and the mischievous riders have to be passed, too.  

The right-wingers couldn’t pass a stand-alone bill banning abortions, but they can insert riders into the budget bill that deny funding for abortion services and otherwise restrict women’s access to this vital element of their health care.

Republicans hate having health care be affordable for low income Americans, but have failed repeatedly to get Obamacare repealed in the House.  But they can put a rider into the budget bill that cripples it by denying new money for it.  

They hate the fact that the Clean Water Act, which protects the health of the public, is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, so they sneak in a rider that cuts the funding of the EPA.  They’ve slashed EPA funding by nearly a quarter since 2010.

What they can’t do in the public eye, they do in the darkness of the committee rooms with riders, mirrors and voodoo.  The result, in the words of that infamous Straight Arrow  Sen. John McCain, is legislation “jammed full of shit.”

Shit like giving away our land, yours and mine, to rich and powerful private interests.  Even foreign private interests.  The richer the better.

Our enormous military and national defense organism is a huge giant squid, sucking up money like plankton.  Thus you simply gotta  pass the National Defense Authorization Act, right?  Right.

For ten years and counting, the biggest copper mining outfits in the world have coveted a hunk of our  land — we own it, you and I — in the Tonto National Forest fin Arizona.   They could dig more than $130 billion worth of ore out of it, by a process that’s only slightly more destructive than fracking for gas.  The mining giants are Australian and British-owned Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton and their wholly-owned subsidiary Resolution Copper. Each time their land grab came up as stand-alone legislation, it failed to pass. Even in Congress, some noses can still smell a rat.

To the rescue now comes Straight Shooter McCain, charging into the Senate Armed Services Committee room with a rider that would approve the copper mining land grab.  His piece of shit, er, rider, was written into page 1,105 of the National Defense Authorization Act — gift of 2,400 acres, four square miles, of our  national forest land to a foreign corporation.

Since long before there even was a National Forest Service, that particular bit of land has been used by the San Carlos Apache tribe for religious rites and for the harvest of medicinal plants.It is part of their ancestral homeland, supposedly protected forever from logging and mining.  

Ah, but white eyes has a mythology, too.  The mining masters say their raping of the landscape will generate $61 billion in economic activity and 3,700 direct and indirect jobs over 40 years.  These ethereal jobs presumably will come from the same Happy Hunting Grounds that magically would have produced 44,000 jobs as a result of building that great health and environmental disaster called the Keystone XL pipeline.  The jobs materialize when corrupt office-holders, snatching polluters’ bribes in their left hands, snap the fingers of their right hands and— Shazam! — armies of happy workers  emerge from the blue smoke.

Buy into that fantasy and next year they’ll sell you their grand plan for storing nuclear waste in the Grand Canyon.  Or something. 

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