The Hightower Report

Franken v. Roberts; and Stomping on America's Workers

Franken v. Roberts

Way to go, Al!

At last, there's a Democrat in the Senate who's acting like a real Democrat in the FDR mold, unafraid and unabashed to go right at the corporate powers who dominate our economy, environment, media, politics, and government. Al Franken, the new Minnesota senator who won the seat once held by the fighting populist Paul Wellstone, is shaking up the Washington establishment on behalf of regular folks. Instead of going along to get along, Franken is speaking bluntly about the raw judicial activism and corporate obsequiousness of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, a lifelong servant of the corporate agenda.

For years, I've railed about the wimpiness of Democrats who approach every Supreme Court nomination strictly from the viewpoint of such social issues as abortion and gay rights. Of course those are important, but the Dems have given nominees a free pass on the fundamental issue of steadily rising corporate supremacy. Most Supreme Court cases don't involve hot social issues but questions of power between moneyed behemoths and the rest of us – things like pollution of our water and air, denial of basic workers' rights, abuse of consumers, and usurpation of the people's governing authority.

By not delving deeply into every nominee's record and bias on these populist questions, Democrats have allowed the judicial branch, including today's five-man majority of the Rob­erts court, to become a corporate wet dream, with corporatist judges ruling routinely to expand corporate power over the rest of us.

With Al Franken, we have a leader on our side, daring to challenge the enthronement of corporations over our democracy. Of course, the powers that be are coming down on him – so let's bolster Al with our grassroots support. Contact him at www.alfranken.com.

Stomping on America's Workers

Republican Congresscritters have once again stomped on the fingers of out-of-work Americans who are clinging to unemployment aid to keep from tumbling into the depths of poverty.

Every single GOP senator recently locked arms to block consideration of a $33 billion bill to extend unemployment benefits to those who've been without work for more than six months, at which point their jobless payments expire. Long-term joblessness is now at the highest rate since the Great Depression, and the Republicans' cold recalcitrance means more than a million Americans will now lose even the meager weekly payments that have kept them hanging on in today's jobless economy – and another 200,000 workers will join them every week.

"Too costly," grumped the GOP senators. They've suddenly turned into budget skinflints, after approving trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street fat cats who caused today's economic mess and while continuing to shell out $12 billion a month for nation-building in Afghanistan.

Adding insult to economic injury, the Repubs have taken to dissing out-of-work Americans as unworthy of a helping hand. "We should not be giving cash to people who basically are just going to blow it on drugs," sniffed Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl complained that $300-a-week jobless payments are a "disincentive for them to seek new work." Nevada Rep. Dean Heller worries that the payments are "creating hobos." And Nevada's Sharron Angle, a GOP tea bag candidate for Senate, declares that unemployment benefits "really have spoiled our citizenry."

What a disgrace! It's these privileged lawmakers who are spoiled – spoiled so rotten they can't even smell the hypocrisy of showering tax dollars on the moneyed elites as they piously turn their backs on America's grassroots folks in a time of real need.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Al Franken, unemployment benefits, Paul Wellstone, John Roberts, Supreme Court, Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, Dean Heller, Sharron Angle

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