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Welcome to Connect the Dots. I’m your host Lila Garrett waving goodbye to the US Congress. But let’s remember, they waved first. Within the last two and a half weeks, they managed to wangle a vote for something called Fast Track—an energizing phrase that sounds like “Let’s go! We’re ready to rock and roll!”

But in this case it means, “We give up!” Yes, that’s what the US Congress and the Senate did. They gave up. They rendered themselves irrelevant. They threw up their hands and said, okay Mr. President, you want that pro-corporate, job-killing, anti-environmental, nonregulating, government-trumping TPP Bill to go through without us questioning it, debating it or even reading it? You want to be the only one who decides? You’ve got it. Do what you will with the 545 of us in the House and Senate! You are king!

And so, boys and girls, those 545 subjects—who, by the way, were elected by we the people to represent us—threw in the towel and handed our future, our health, our happiness to the master of all he surveys. Barack Obama.

And so, boys and girls, those 545 subjects—who, by the way, were elected by we the people to represent us—threw in the towel and handed our future, our health, our happiness to the master of all he surveys. Barack Obama.

And what will he do with all that? Hand it over to the corporations, of course. They will decide from now on what medicines cost, and therefore who shall live and who shall die.

They will decide what can be contained in the air we breath and the food we eat.

They will determine what we will be paid for our labor, and eventually if in fact we will be paid at all. At least one of the 11 countries—Malaysia—that are signators of the TPP still practices slavery. Will we join them?

When you’re on a roll, or in this case a slide, anything is possible. It’s up to the Corporations to decide. And once American unemployment becomes epidemic, the corporations—not the government—will ordain whether unemployment insurance still applies or has become nostalgic. They will dictate what constitutes a crime and what is the appropriate punishment. The TPP allows corporations to trump government in these matters.

With the signing of the TPP, corporations…the 1 tenth of 1%....become the government. You may say, well, that’s always been somewhat true. Yes, but now it’s official…out there naked, defiant. Corporations call the shots. So make sure you get out of the way. An avalanche is about to start. Fasten your seat belts, as Betty Davis once said, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

How did this happen you may ask. Surely Congress and the Senate have good people who didn't sell us out. We know there are bad people there, too, but surely the good ones had the determination to prevail. Yes, and for a while we thought they would prevail. But then the secret but irresistible weapon loomed before them..

That weapon is called bribery. Let me quote from The Guardian:

The fast-tracking bill passed the Senate—by a 65-33 margin .

That impressive majority follow months of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing by the world’s most well-heeled multinational corporations with just a handful of holdouts.

Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yes” votes.

The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.

The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.

Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence.

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In just 24 hours, Wyden and five Democratic holdouts—Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida—caved and voted for fast-track.

Bennet, Murray, and Wyden—all running for re-election in 2016—received $105,900 between the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign donations

Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track—the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.”

These bribes are just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s not forget the ride in the President’s plane that at least four of the Congress people got, or their appointments to special committees, or their children’s appointments, their special invitations to dinner at the White House…. and more money. Lots and lots of more money. Bribes did it.

For a moment two weeks ago we thought we had defeated Fast Track in the House. Even Nancy Pelosi was euphoric. But Speaker John Boehner—a man trained for politics as a bouncer in his father’s bar—and President of the Senate Mitch McConnell—the errand boy for the Koch brothers—put their heads together with….you guessed it….Barack Obama.

This new triumvirate came up with the plan to break Fast Track into three parts, causing a re-vote. This not only gave the President time for more bribes, it caused so much confusion, it passed. Fast Track was then sent back to the Senate….somewhat changed for the worse.

Diane Feinstein let out the word that she was a swing vote….so we all lobbied her to vote against it through phone calls, visits to her office, emails…the works. She loved the attention. (She’s always been a showoff.) And then she voted as she always knew she would. For Fast Track. Yes this measure which surrendered the responsibility of the Senate to participate in making decisions that govern this country passed the Senate by one vote.

Diane Feinstein had an opportunity to save it. She had a chance to mandate our Congress to do what it was elected to do….debate and vote on major issues like the TPP. Trade agreements that are about a lot more than trade, agreements that fracture our country, economically, environmentally morally. She had the means to strengthen our democracy instead of plunging another dagger in its heart. She opted for the dagger.

Surprised anyone? It’s long past time for that ice woman to retire.

Having been hit by the reality that our Congress has little intention of taking responsibility for anything but their own interests, they reiterated that intention by a vote on another subject last week. Congressional Resolution 55 was offered by Congress people Jim MC Govern, Barbara Lee, and Walter Jones, which would require the Congress to vote for or against war and not just leave it to the President. War. You’ve got to admit it’s pretty basic. Are you going to agree to kill strangers and if so for what? Will it lead to peace or just more war. Is it for the benefit of the many or in the end for the profit and power of the few? Congress didn’t just vote it down. They voted it down with a vengeance….139-288. That, too, was left to the President to decide. There’s a lot on his shoulders.

But rather than seeming burdened by all this responsibility, President Obama seems energized. Maybe it’s his Fast Track making way for his TPP ….our loss, but his passionate win.

Or maybe it’s the Supreme Court decision to let his healthcare plan stand. We know the insurance companies are happy about it. Their stock prices have soared. It's a mixed bag, but progressives feel it’s better than nothing.

And maybe he’s happy as we are that same sex-marriage, which he once opposed, is now legal. Not that it was ever any of the Supreme Court’s business. They exist presumably to interpret the Constitution, not the Bible. Still, we were thankful for a good day….which the media turned into a hysterical new week. This gave the Supreme court cover while it showed who they really were by defeating the EPA ruling and allowing industry to emit toxins into the air (including mercury) to protect their profits.

Yes, while newlyweds of all stripes were smooching for the press, the Supreme Court was busy gutting the clean air act. Now if we can get them to reverse Citizens United, which gave corporations the freedom to buy our elections, and if we get back the Voting Rights Act, which this Supreme Court gutted …. we’d be less cynical. As it stands, exalted be-robed ones, we know who you really are!

There’s very little we can do about the Supreme Court except wring our hands in frustration Let’s face it, they’re in office for life…..

But the Congress is not. And we can not only get rid of the bad ones…. We can actively support the good ones. Two of them are with us today. Congressperson Barbara Lee…and Congressperson Ted Lieu…..


Lila Garrett
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