As per usual, this bill has a cute and easy-to remember acronym: STOCK -- standing for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge. Not as sexy as SOPA and PIPA, but very catchy and righteous-sounding. As in, Congress is finally taking stock of itself before the citizenry goes all tar and feathers and puts them in the stocks. For a minute I thought it meant "stop counting on congressional intelligence if you want the country to function", but that's another bill for another day. Since Congress seems hell-bent on defunding and privatizing education, I was rather surprised they are having much of anything to do with something so entitle-y/elitist as knowledge. As God warned Adam and Eve and the right wing nihilist Republicans, don't eat ye the apple of the Tree of Knowledge, of Good and Evil. Stay stupid and stay safe.
Senator Reid obeyed his master Barry and immediately scheduled the vote to make it seem like they're really not all a bunch of crooks, and so the prez has something to run on besides Lilly Ledbetter and killing bin Laden. From The Hill:
Reid said the legislation would help restore confidence in Congress by stipulating that profiting from privileged political intelligence is illegal.Thank God, because I was feeling mighty jittery and befuddled, wondering if Nancy Pelosi would end up going scot free because of all the Visa stock she and her multimillionaire husband bought right before she made sure that credit card debt would not be included in tough new bankruptcy legislation.
"Members of Congress and their staffers have the duty to the American people," Reid said. "They may not use privileged information they get on the job to personally profit. [This bill] will end any confusion over whether members of Congress can be prosecuted for the serious crime. They can be."
Lawmakers were shaken when 60 Minutes ran a report recently about Pelosi and practically everybody in Congress making some heavy-duty bucks from insider trading. Most of them professed shock that it was going on, and that they were doing it. Again, from The Hill article:
"I was shocked by this report, I think we all were," (Mass. Sen. Scott) Brown said. "[M]embers of Congress should not be lining their pockets on insider information. Serving our country is a privilege. I believe we must level the playing field and show the American people that the United States Congress does not consider itself to be above laws that apply to everyone else.”When the bill passes Thursday and goes on to the House for approval, no doubt the nouveau- and olde-riche millionaires will be back-slapping each other in another orgy of self-congratulation. I can already see their 9 percent approval rating skyrocketing off the charts as the engaged public audience applauds their courage and honesty.
And to be fair, 60 Minutes did not really break this story. All its information came from a little book published in November called "Throw Them All Out", written in the best old-fashioned muckraking tradition. A journalist named Peter Schweizer actually looked through votes and stock trades and their timing, and put two and two together. The info has been hiding in plain sight for decades, if not centuries.
Congressional corruption, says Schweizer, puts lie to the notion that the two political parties are engaged in a constant battle royal. Of course, we knew they were really two phony factions of an oligarchic uniparty, especially when it comes to funding wars, the security state, indefinite detention and anything and everything that does not make life better for their constituents. "Republicans and Democrats are not so different as you think", he writes. "They work together to enrich themselves. They have designed the system to work so that they can make lots of money doing things that would get the rest of us sent to jail".
Schweizer is painstakingly bipartisan and absolutely relentless in exposing both Democrats and Republicans. Besides Pelosi, he puts the spotlight on John Kerry; Tom Carper; Melissa Bean; Jared Polis; James Oberstar; Jeb Bradley; John Boehner; Jim McDermott; Amo Houghton; Johnny Isakson; Sheldon Whitehouse; Max Baucus; Jim Moran; Dick Durbin; Rahm Emanuel; Gary Ackerman; Dennis Hastert; Carolyn Maloney; Judd Gregg; Ken Calvert; David Hobson; Heath Shuler; Bennie Thompson; Maurice Hinchey; Jerry Lewis.... and last but least, Harry Reid!!
The bill will pass, and then Congress will hire its own lobbyists to punch it to shreds with the obligatory loopholes. Or they won't bother to fund it, or they'll appoint Joe Lieberman their impartial watchdog when he retires next year.
Throw the bums out.
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