Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mitch McConnell Is Now A Full-Fledged Weasel

Over the years, I've grown increasingly tired of reading about the weaselly ways of  Senator (R-KY)  Mitch McConnell, and I've just hit my limit.  It's been just over two weeks since McConnell, on his own, derailed the planned Senate confirmation of 80-plus federal nominees. This left U.S. embassies vacant and the U.S. embarrassed in the eyes of our allies.  Dozens of nominees and their families preparing to move but in limbo; various agencies without their Inspector General or Deputy Director -- and all of this because (as McConnell unashamedly admitted on the Senate floor) he objected to exactly one of the nominees-- Craig Becker of the National Labor Relations Board. 

This is the guy Chief Justice John Roberts (a GOP nominee) asked about during arguments on a case from the deadlocked National Labor Relations Board-- wondering why the administration hadn't given a recess appointment to Craig Becker.  Obama did eventually give Becker a recess appointment, but that didn't help much-- now that little king McConnell has peevishly decided to hold up the business (and personal lives) of 80 other nominees to register his unhappiness with recess appointments (a provision of the constitution, by the way)

This is really about petty little Mitch not getting his way, and it is a slap in the face of the Constitution.  Every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote, so that they can get to work for the American public.  It's not that they're going to serve in their jobs forever, with no way to get rid of them if they suck (like some Senators I know)-- they'll be gone in 4 years or less when the administration changes.

I think it's time for a little public embarrassment for mini-Napoleons like Mitch McConnell.  A life-long politician, McConnell has a long-standing record of being a weasel.  He has voted overwhelming in favor of big-oil interests (having accepted $474,658 from oil companies since from 2000 to 2008, making him a leading recipient of oil money) and has a long-standing record against environmental legislation. 

McConnell also led a successful effort to block the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007, which would require Senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically to the Federal Election Commission.  Living up to his weasel credentials, he tried to hide his involvement using various parliamentary tricks, but was eventually forced to come out in the open with his opposition.  McConnell also had ties to felon Jack Abramoff and has also led the effort to block recommendations of the 9/11 commission. 

 For a long time, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership (part of the University of Lousiville) fought to keep secret its list of donors.  Two of its largest donors were Ashland Inc ($500K) and UPS ($400K).   After losing their case in the Kentucky Supreme Court, donors to the McConnell Center scattered like cockroaches under the glare of light-- only $31,125 in contributions have been received since 2004.  

In 2007, McConnell pushed $25 million in earmarked federal funds for a British defense contractor that was under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for bribery. He had taken at least $53,000 in campaign donations from BAE's political action committees and employees since his 2002 re-election.

In 2010, McConnell began pushing for another $17 million in earmarks for BAE, even though they are still the target of corruption investigations by DOJ and the Australian government (Bush pressured the Blair government to drop its investigation).  According to Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, "Most politicians decide that a scandal is a good time to stop doing business with a company, at least until the scandal is over, particularly when we're talking about a criminal investigation over bribery. You would think that a member of Congress [McConnell] would want to steer clear of anyone accused of bribery."

Apparently, McConnell has no shame-- whether serving special interests or selfishly indulging his own petty interests vs. those of the American public.

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