(Updated) Climate-criminal Senate Democrats: A Keystone pipeline vote list

Update: Of the 17 Dem senators listed below, eight are up for re-election in 2014:

Baucus (MT)
Begich (AK)
Coons (DE)
Hagan (NC)
Johnson (SD), retiring
Landrieu (LA)
Pryor (AR)
Warner (VA)

I meant what I said below about this being a choice between holding the Senate and becoming hunter-gatherers. Reasonable people can disagree, but still … hunter-gatherers.
________

As I wrote earlier, I think Obama has four must-have economic legacy items:

The whole of Barack Obama’s two-term economic agenda is topped by these four items:

  1. Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
  2. A “grand bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
  3. Plentiful oil & gas and passage of the Keystone Sludgepipe (KXL pipeline)
  4. Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement

And that’s the list. Privatized “Medicare expansion” (the ACA). Benefits cuts for SS and Medicare. Keystone. TPP. If Obama gets these four, he’s a happy man, and in his mind he goes out in glory. …

We screwed up on the first — thanks, Dennis “Plane Ride” Kucinich and the other “bold” progressives in Congress. But we can still win the other three.

So this is our second-term action list as progressives:

Stop Grand Bargain benefit cuts.
Stop Keystone.
Stop TPP.

If we win those three, we win the big economic fights of Obama’s remaining presidency. I’ll be writing about all of these, as I have been doing. This piece is about Keystone.

Keystone had a test vote in the Senate — it was approved

The Keystone Pipeline is rearing its sludge-filled head. First came the news that a key government environmental study was authored by people from TransCanada, the pipeline’s builder. Then came a symbolic vote in the Senate, a test vote to see who would line up where. There’s more detail on the vote at the link; for now I want to feature the voters themselves.

Context: This is one of many votes in the Senate on Friday, March 22, in a session which went past the midnight hour. The big measure was the Continuing Resolution, which funds the government. Attached to it were a 30–40 Amendments — for example:

Inhofe Amdt. No. 139; To uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

There were 41 total roll-call votes that night, many like this one. (By the way, Inhofe’s thing passed 53-46-1.)

The amendment we care about is this one:

Hoeven Amdt. No. 494; To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to promote investment and job growth in United States manufacturing, oil and gas production, and refining sectors through the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

That one also passed, 62-37-1. The proponents of Keystone, climate criminals all, are using the vote to signal to the White House that Keystone will pass in the Senate. But we can use that vote for our purposes as well.

There are three groups of votes I noted, and two to present. First, the list of climate criminal enablers (Sludgepipe supporters) on the Republican side includes … all of them. That was easy.

Next, the Democratic climate criminals in the Senate. These 17 people really do want to serve the carbon masters at the expense of our future. (“-1″ means a vote for Keystone; this is a “scorable vote” in my opinion.)

Democratic climate criminals in the Senate
Eager Keystone supporters — Yes to carbon money, No to you & your future

Last Name First Name State Party Phone Mar 22 Keystone
Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651 -1
Begich Mark AK D (202) 224-3004 -1
Bennet Michael CO D (202) 224-5852 -1
Carper Thomas DE D (202) 224-2441 -1
Casey Bob PA D (202) 224-6324 -1
Coons Chris DE D (202) 224-5042 -1
Donnelly Joe IN D (202) 224-4814 -1
Hagan Kay NC D (202) 224-6342 -1
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043 -1
Johnson Tim SD D (202) 224-5842 -1
Landrieu Mary LA D (202) 224-5824 -1
Manchin Joe WV D (202) 224-3954 -1
McCaskill Claire MO D (202) 224-6154 -1
Nelson Bill FL D (202) 224-5274 -1
Pryor Mark AR D (202) 224-2353 -1
Tester Jon MT D (202) 224-2644 -1
Warner Mark VA D (202) 224-2023 -1

I kind of don’t care about losing the Senate if we manage to really nail some of these folks. After all, the alternative is maybe humans become hunter-gatherers again. Want to know how hunter-gatherers live? Look at the homeless in your own city. They’re hunter-gatherers; the smell is part of the lifestyle, always was.

Hmm; risk losing the Senate, or risk becoming hunter-gatherers again. I know which risk I would take.

climate change pollution global warming CO2

CO2 via Shutterstock

And no, I don’t want to hear about constituencies. For example, Mark Begich from Alaska — How long will your happy oil-soaked Alaskans like their state, when it’s the state with the most liveable climate of them all, and everyone in the lower 48 comes streaming in because … hey, open inter-state borders, dude; free crossing rights.

Senator Begich, when no crops will grow in the California Central Valley because it has four months of temperatures above 100°F, how is Alaska not the largest refugee camp in the nation? This happens before 2100. That’s what you’re voting for.

My message to you, sir:

Save Alaska from the rest of us. Keep the lower states worth living in too.

One more thing …

Did the State Dept really use TransCanada people for their environmental study?

Yes, Virginia, they really did. Listen to Matt Filipowicz with the detail. Don’t miss the Koch Bros connection near the middle — yes, Obama really will make Daddy Koch rich with this one — and the New York news near the end. Stunning.

Matt’s a humorist, so his tone is satirical (one reason I enjoy him), but it’s a fact-filled rant as well. Listen and learn.

This is what we’re up against, folks. Keystone game on — this is the big one.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • CrossWinds

    Let these endearing anti-pipeline protestors go all the way, and cut the gas and oil pipelines connected to their houses……………………..

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    Begich is only there because Stevens was crooked. Begich goes and you get Parnell, Treadwell, maybe Don Young? It’s already a colony of Texahoma up here and Mark has to dance with those that brung him-people on both ends of the oil business. Senator Palin would be an awesome wildcard, though.

  • Ford Prefect

    Agree. The Party also decertified the Progressive Caucus in the state. 2010, methinks.

    In the end, the choice is to stand for something or be a member of the apparat. Most ProgDems will choose the later if pushed. That’s why I use the example as to why the stalwart Righties in the Party can’t be pressured. NY goes the same way. Cuomo is a diehard Neo-Lib and wants to privatize everything under the sun, not to mention his deeply held anti-labor position. No pressure from ProgDems there either.

    The institution is rotten to the core.

  • cole3244

    i already did but thanks for thinking of me in the meantime.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    In California, labor is for fracking. They think it will produce jobs. I would say a growth industry would be morticians — but I don’t see poor people having fancy funerals.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    Yes, they like their Chair positions. It is all about them. Not us.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    DiFi is hopeless and so are the “progressives” in this state. A couple of years ago they almost got a censure vote through the State Dem party (I forget what the issue was now) and she knows that threat is out there. So do the progressives. And they won’t use it.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    don’t tell us — call his office and tell him.

  • lynchie

    It is the lesser of two evils crap. Frankly what difference does it make to control the Senate. Reid is not a leader, has no backbone and frankly agrees with the GOP. I agree that mustering the money to compete is now so outrageously expensive few will take the risk. Both parties depend on the cash to play price that is why they never pushed forward publicly funded elections. That would open elections up to anyone who can get the votes to run.

  • Ford Prefect

    To be clear, I’m not opposed to attacking the lot of them. I just don’t think it’s possible to muster the astronomical resources needed to challenge those seats. Indeed, besides being very expensive, it would take a generation to change the complexion of that most undemocratic of institutions.

    First, you have to find a candidate willing to take a lot of abuse, who is also squeaky clean. Then you have to run an independent, since the primary system is rigged. Then you have to find $20 Million (maybe less), to even be taken seriously, much less compete. Finally, you have to win and not winning means all those resources just got flushed down the loo.

    If the Dems are fearful for the Senate, it’s not an overriding concern. It’s about a loss of power (and thusly slightly reduced amounts of valuable cash and prizes), not an agenda per se. The House Dems are quite content to be in minority, except for the few who want to be Speaker. The Senate Dems just gave the GOP back its virtual veto, to give them cover for doing horrendous things. IOW, they agree with the GOP agenda, so becoming minority party isn’t that important in the end. The agenda moves forward, regardless of who’s majority.

    Don’t take party communications too seriously. It’s mostly designed to scare the rubes into supporting a rotted party, by threatening: “You don’t want those scary Repubs in control, do you?!” I still get those calls and have to spend the next 30 minutes disabusing the caller of their bullshit–which I gladly do if I have time.

    That said, yes, by all means, make the entire party responsible. They’re begging for it, so why not give it to them? But you can’t do that by threatening their seats. If you raise a million, they’ll raise ten times that with a few calls to Wall Street. I used to work on Democratic campaigns and every time I saw the GOP do the same thing. It usually works.

    Now with Dark Money, secret “committees” and so forth, it’s only worse. So you have to find a way to avoid playing their money-based game. That’s their game, with their rules and they know how to win it.

    One thing that is possible is undermining Dem candidates overtly. It doesn’t cost much and it can work–although typically it usually leads to some nice pandering to be ignored after the election is won. Also too, it usually means throwing a seat to the GOP, so Dems won’t go along with it. In the grassroots, there are plenty of options, but remember the Dems will go all hammer and tongs on you. Why do you suppose Ashley Judd just bowed out? It was undoubtedly due to Democratic pressure and/or threats. She has enough money to practically buy that election outright. So there were other reasons.

    Party politics is a contact sport. You have to be prepared for the worst or get steamrolled. The two worst campaign experiences I had were while working on primary campaigns. Those get ugly real fast and it never lets up. Also too, the post-campaign parties aren’t as much fun, since everyone is already thinking about how they’re going to smooth over certain things to certain people in order to keep working. After two of those, I vowed never to do that again.

  • GaiusPublius

    It would be very tempting to attack some of the unsafe seats who vote badly — thus threaten the whole party with losing the majority — unless the whole party votes down Keystone (and votes up gun control).

    In other words, make the whole party responsible for what the *party* does in the Senate. That would be my approach. I know they fear losing the Senate.

    GP

  • lynchie

    But since all of Congress is owned we have few choices. We lack the real ability to primary these jackasses. In some regards I give the Tea Party credit they actively primary or threaten to any of the Repubs they deem unworthy. We dems on the other had wring our hands and then offer up the “lesser of two evils” meme and that is used to keep us in line. There is no lesser of two evils when day after day, issue after issue Congress is voting as a bloc. They arrange for a few to vote against an issue but only after the deal is done in the back room. Hell with the filibuster rules now they only need threaten filibuster (anonymously) and the bill is withdrawn so one never knows where your representative really stands. I phoned Casey’s office this morning and his 20 year old office person told me I was wrong Casey stands solidly behind stopping the pipeline. I asked for that in writing, which no one apparently ever asks these jerks. The kid on the phone told me that is never done and you can take Casey at his word. I said fine get Casey to call me and reassure me. His answer “I am sure you realize how busy is with the work of Congress”. In other words drop dead.

  • Ford Prefect

    If you look at that list of criminals, they’re all safe seats. Johnson is retiring, but the notion that the DSCC will support anyone who isn’t on the Big Carbon, Big Ag pad is quaint, but not realistic. The rest really can’t be threatened. I mean, who’s going to threaten their seats?

    I’m fine with “losing the Senate,” since “we” never had it in the first place. You can’t lose what you never had. The implications of that are none too pleasing though.

    The Keystone vote was symbolic. It shows the Senate will ratify anything the White House sends their way–assuming it even needs to be ratified in the first place. So this is going to happen. The real question is, “What do we do then?”

    Probably the biggest single problem with “progressive” political strategy is it’s almost always three moves behind. In politics, the aggressor almost always wins and the criminals are very good at being aggressors. They move the ball, while progressives are always in a purely reactive stance, getting steamrolled. Decisions are made well before they become public, so by the time people can react, it’s already too late. In this case, it’s all over but for the shouting.

    Lastly, an electoral strategy with Senators has proven itself largely useless. Jon Tester was elected with a lot of decisive help from progressives, to name one. He turned out to be a crook. This pattern seems to reassert itself every time, with the possible exception of Elizabeth Warren–she’s the only newbie that gives me any hope at all and she’s just one person swimming in a shark tank.

    If California Dems can’t pressure DiFi to be less fascistic, then how does one pressure a Mary Landrieu or Mark Begich when those states don’t even have significant constituencies that actually give a shit?

  • Ford Prefect

    Sadly, some enviros are already on record supporting fracking. Environmental Defense Fund is one of the biggies. Sierra Club seems to be waking up, but after being corrupt for the better part of two decades, I’ll wait and see on them. 350.org isn’t really serious. Nice words, but precious little else to be considered serious.

    One of the biggest problems in all this is the willingness of enviros to just roll over when Dems are doing the crimes against nature. It’s the biggest single reason the current administration has gotten away with their horrid policies. They know there’s no downside to their actions.

    The people I know who are most opposed to all this destruction aren’t members of “green” groups. It’s anecdotal, but it speaks volumes to me, because I know a lot of people who belong to a half-dozen “green” groups each and they aren’t saying very much. The reason is pretty clear, as one who receives a dozen mailers each month from “green” groups: A lot of this isn’t in their messaging. Lots of disturbing pictures of wlidlife threatened or mangled in some way, but little or no mention of climate change, fracking or Keystone XL… much less who’s to blame for all of it.

  • cole3244

    one of my senators is on the list and he has lost my vote, he’s not liberal by any means so i have no loyalty to him in the first place, since cons are americas problem regardless of party label.

  • GaiusPublius

    Don’t do that, lynchie. The enviro movement will be all over this. We need to take it to the senators. I forgot to point out which senators are up for re-election, vulnerable. Will correct that with an update.

    Take hope, this is a huge deal for a lot of people. Join them.

    GP

  • lynchie

    Let’s not go through the charade of making this lies about stopping the pipeline. Money trumps people every day of the week with the Democrats in fact all of Congress and lest I forget the liar in Chief Obama. Think i will go out and suck on the exhaust pipe on my car and end it all.

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