"Probably not many of us here [are going to the PETA alternative, but] there are probably better looking girls there." - Rep. Collin Peterson, July 18th, 2007, in remarks to the House Agriculture Committee as he called for a break before going to the American Meat Institute's annual Hot Dog Lunch for members of Congress. PETA hands out veggie dogs as a counter-event.
So, yes, Peterson voted to authorize a man who has repeatedly perjured himself before Congress to pick who the federal government gets to wiretap. Even though the court in question allowed for warrants to be issued up to 72 hours after a wiretap was initiated and only very rarely turned down requests; out of 18,761 warrant requests, 5 were rejected between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's founding in 1978 and the year 2004. The court proceedings are also closed to the public, and the record is classified. But that wasn't good enought for the Bush administration, nor Collin Peterson, who voted to remove all requirements for judicial oversight, to make legal what the Bush administration has been doing illegally for years.
He voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This law was passed in response to the revelations that the Bush administration had been torturing people, keeping them in secret detention, and violating the Geneva Conventions. In it, Congress told the courts of the United States that they no longer had jurisdiction over detainees deprived of their human rights, and that they couldn't enforce the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions became part of US law when this country enthusiastically signed the treaty after WWII, to publicly repudiate the human rights violations committed by the Axis powers.
Last year, he also voted against the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would have protected consumers from fuel and oil price gouging. But he has a long history of disregarding the public interest (links added):
... He voted with Republicans on Bill Clinton's showdown budget bill of 1993, perhaps the most important party-loyalty vote of the Clinton era. He was one of just 16 Democrats to back Bush's Medicare bill. He supports the Republican fair tax, a national sales tax, and voted for the bankruptcy bill, estate-tax repeal, tort reform, and the tax cuts. ...
The Democratic Party leadership has been angry with Peterson over his disloyalty, but never did anything about it. And with his chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee and comfort with his conservative district, he'll probably be around for a while yet to come.
And has he ever brought home the bacon. There are 57,956 farms and groups receiving farm subsidies in his district, $4.8 billion dollars worth for all types of farm subsidies. Peterson claimed that it was significant reform to the Farm Bill just passed in the House that it included an adjusted gross income cap for recipients, but payment caps? Right. A tiny minority of those farms, 195, or 0.3 percent, received over a million dollars in payments between 1995 and 2005.
It's usually applauded when a congresscritter can bring money back home, but I have to say, it's really a shame that it isn't spread around a little better. Because the farm dollars he ushers home only go to a very few farmers, which is why it's a shame that the Farm Bill he presided over passing perpetuates the same policies that give an unfair competitive advantage to a minority of very large farms in his district. As the Environmental Working Group points out, the 10 percent of recipients got 58 percent of the subsidies handed out in Minnesota's Seventh District, while the top 20 percent collected fully 79 percent of all subsidy dollars. Because it's like this, "Recipients in the top 10% averaged $43,968 in annual payments between 1995 and 2005. The bottom 80 percent of the recipients saw only $2,015 on average per year."
Conservation payments made up only 15 percent of the total, but not all of those conservation payments were really going to conservation. Plenty of them wind up subsidizing large CAFOs, a practice Peterson is glad to continue. Meanwhile, Peterson voted to bar the courts to small farmers when unfair contract provisions make it even harder for them to compete with Big Agriculture's big polluters.
Seeing a pattern? Peterson doesn't care about fuel consumers, people who go bankrupt because of long deployments in Iraq or outrageous medical bills, victims of corporate malfeasance, small and medium sized farmers, or basic human rights. He'll no more let farmers have the protection of the courts over business practices than he'll let citizens have the protection of the courts over surveillance. He's not out for the little guy, for the people who can't buy their way out of their problems.
Peterson may not be much of a Democrat, but at least he's more or less consistent. Which should be a relief. When he voted to screw over the country's reputation and the rights of all Americans to be secure in their persons and effects from unwarranted search or seizure, it wasn't personal. We're just not the people he cares about.Posted by natasha at August 20, 2007 11:39 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |