Category Archives: Lobbyists

News headlines that will piss you off…

At least they did me. Here we go:

Bart Stupak is grinning like a fool over this one, DHHS limits abortion funding for new high-risk insurance pools.

I realize Politico is a rightwing rag for the most part…but this is Fox News-like yellow journalism at it’s best. What the Politico Web site deletes from its articles without telling anyone.

If you have ever lost a loved-one to this shit or suffer from it’s deadly consequences yourself, I am quite sure this article will really jerk your chain. Lobbyists push use of deadly asbestos in developing nations.

If none of those articles get to you…then you must be a rightwing nutter and a Batshit Bachmann/Teabagger supporter. 

The first and third ones really, really piss-me-the-fuck-off. That they still manufacture asbestos is criminal to me. That they want to use that friggin shit in countries already suffering is outrageous. They want the poor and high-risk people to pay for their own legal medical procedures is fuckwitted, selfish, innane and disgusting. They preach and preach about forgiveness…but when people make mistakes and try to fix them…wtf assholes? See Alex Trebek and buy a fucking clue you jerkwads.

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How lobbyists influenced the Dodd financial reform bill.

Daniel Indiviglio is a former investment banker and consultant who now writes about that industry for The Atlantic. His recent article explains how the lobbyists influenced, or as I call it, wrote the financial reform bill that Dodd and Frank pushed like crack dealers. From his writeup:

 There are easily dozens of sections where their persuasion can be felt, but here are several striking examples.

Auto Dealer Exclusion
Perhaps one of the most egregious lobbyist influences was a key exclusion from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When you think about consumer credit, a few products immediately come to mind: mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. But wait! Car loans — one of the most prevalent types of consumer loan — are excluded entirely from the Bureau’s reach. While it isn’t likely that auto loans will ever cause a financial crisis, neither will credit cards. Yet there are certainly auto loan shops that could use dastardly tactics worthy of as much attention as the regulator pays to credit card companies.

Derivative Spin-Off Provision
To see a truly strange legislative effort, check out how one of the more controversial derivatives provisions in the bill turned out. Initially, all banks would be forced to put their derivatives business in a separately capitalized subsidiary. That is, until lobbyists got their hands on it. Now, banks can create certain sorts of derivatives, but not other sorts. Foreign exchange and interest rate swaps, for example, are okay. But commodities and energy swaps aren’t. Is corn riskier than the euro? Probably not. So what’s the explanation? One industry source I spoke with theorized that futures exchanges may have pushed for the ban on commodity and energy derivatives created by banks. The over-the-counter derivatives (a market run by banks) market ate away at exchanges’ market share once banks started getting into the business. Now banks are out of the picture regarding these products.

Volcker Rule
Another extraordinarily watered-down provision compared to the original conception is the so-called “Volcker Rule,” meant to limit proprietary trading by banks. The final bill limits the amount of money dedicated to this function to 3% of a bank’s Tier 1 Capital. That should allow all but a few banks to proprietary trade in the same way they have in the past. Moreover, the rule inexplicitly limits the amount of a private equity venture or hedge fund that a bank can own to 3%. This ultimately benefits banks, because they need less skin in the game to convince outside investors to participate in a venture or fund.

It’s a good read, so I suggest you click the link and read his entire piece.  He talks about ‘too big to fail’ and Frannie and Freddie as well. For a nitwit like myself, it’s well written and easy for me to comprehend. This…cough…bill…is weaker than my bladder after an evening of boozing it up.

Abramoff to be released…already?

“Casino Jack” Abramoff will soon call a halfway house home, according to RawStory. Soon as in this week or next. From the RS writeup:

Three and a half years has passed since the incarceration of onetime Washington power-broker Jack Abramoff.

And as soon as this week, or next, Abramoff will be on his way out the doors of a federal prison and into a halfway house, where he will reside until he’s formally released.

Abramoff, 51, pled guilty to corrupting public officials and tax evasion in January 2006 and was sentenced to four years in jail. He bilked nearly $25 million from Indian tribes who sought influence with federal officials. Peter Stone, a veteran investigative journalist at National Journal, who has covered the scandal extensively, asserted in a little-noticed post late Friday that Abramoff was set to leave prison soon.

That scumbag will soon be a free man. Was Justice served? I don’t think so.  Watch the trailer for a new documentary on Jackie, courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1600178470

Political analysts serve whom exactly?

The Political analysts that appear on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and other news outlets will have you believe that they are all fair and balanced in their analysis of specific issues or incidents.
Nothing could be farther from the truth in most cases. Many times, these folks have another job as a Lobbyist, Consultant or sit on the Board of huge corporations. This is known as, per The Nation, The Media-Lobbying Complex. Fits don’t ya think? And this happens on both sides of the political aisle. From The Nation:

For lobbyists, PR firms and corporate officials, going on cable television is a chance to promote clients and their interests on the most widely cited source of news in the United States. These appearances also generate good will and access to major players inside the Democratic and Republican parties. For their part, the cable networks, eager to fill time and afraid of upsetting the political elite, have ofteBut n looked the other way. At times, the networks have even disregarded their own written ethics guidelines. Just about everyone involved is heavily invested in maintaining the current system, with the exception of the viewer.
While lobbyists and PR flacks have long tried to spin the press, the launch of Fox News and MSNBC in 1996 and the Clinton impeachment saga that followed helped create the caldron of twenty-four-hour political analysis that so many influence peddlers call home. Since then, guests with serious conflicts of interest have popped up with alarming regularity on every network. Just examine their presence in coverage of the economic crash and the healthcare reform debate, two recent issues that have engendered massive cable coverage.

I realize that not all lobbyists are carpetbagging fucks. Some actually have the best interests of the public in mind when they go on these shows. But the problem is…how do we know, if full disclosure isn’t made, when introducing the so-called analyst?

We don’t know. And therein lies the problem. An example would be Richard Wolffe, a left-leaning contributor on MSNBC. I like Wolffe and usually agree with his assessment on whatever issue he is contributing to at the moment. He is part of a public relations group, Public Strategies, that helps corporations fix their images when they go south. The problem lies in the fact that we are bombarded with these ‘contributors’ when there is a specific issue heating up. Again, from The Nation link:

Janine Wedel, an anthropologist in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of the new book Shadow Elite, told me in a recent interview that while these influence peddlers are not necessarily unethical, they “elude accountability to governments, shareholders and voters–and threaten democracy.”
“When there’s a whole host of pundits on the airwaves touting the same agenda at the same time, you get a cumulative effect that shapes public opinion toward their agenda,” she said.
Frequent television news commentators are also often given access to policy-makers, who may find that they are meeting with not just a TV pundit but also a paid lobbyist. This past March, for example, the White House held an exclusive “communications message meeting” for high-profile Democratic strategists with top presidential aide David Axelrod. Of the eighteen attendees, almost all television regulars, a third were lobbyists or public relations flacks, such as Kelly Bingel, a lobbyist for AHIP and a partner at mega-firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, and Rich Masters, a partner at PR/lobbying outfit Qorvis Communications, where he works on behalf of trade group Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

It makes you wonder every time you see one of these fuckers on tv….who are they representing…we the people..or some fucking corporation. As Wedel explains, these assholes can shape public opinion…and that can be a dangerous thing when it’s done undercover by someone acting as a knowledgeable, unbiased expert.

Lobbyists invited to the Republican retreat?

Oh yes, of course they are! From ABC:

The day after President Barack Obama urged members of Congress to be more transparent about their interactions with lobbyists, the House Republican Caucus headed up Interstate 95 for a retreat where they will be able to mingle privately with… lobbyists.

The annual retreat, sponsored by a non-profit group called the Congressional Institute, is meant to be a chance for members to escape the Beltway to talk about big ideas, hear from rising stars in the party, media pundits, and even visit with President Obama, who will address the caucus Friday.

In between these work sessions, though, there will be less formal gatherings involving several of the Institute’s 14-member board of directors. The vast majority of the Institute’s board is made up by top Capitol Hill lobbyists whose clients include leading drug manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and such major corporations as American Express and Verizon.

Institute Executive Director Mark Strand said the entire event has been scrubbed for potential ethics problems, and everything will be done above board. He explained it this way:

“The institute’s supporters, who include lobbyists, do not plan, attend or participate in any session of the annual conference. They are invited to a reception and dinner and depart the next morning,” he said.(emphasis mine)

“Such a courtesy for a tax-exempt organization’s supporters is commonplace and within ethical rules,” Strand added. “All members of Congress who participate in the conference pay their own expenses. The Institute does not employ a lobbyist nor does it engage in lobbying.”

Oh…and there will be no “transparency” during the reception and dinner, meaning the press will not be allowed to attend. Chew on these facts regarding lobbying Congress:

Last year Washington lobbyists netted $3.2 billion, a 13.7 percent increase from 2007, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, aka OpenSecrets.org

And it’s the industries most affected by the economic downturn that seem to be doing much of the spending: finance, insurance and real estate, the group found. 

Fucking carpetbaggers. Nothing turns my stomach more than lobbyists. Nothing. They are the hyena pack, ready to surround and consume whatever they see as a threat to their bottom line, regardless of the consequences to Main Street and the average Joe and Jill American. Below is a list from OpenSecrets of the top 20 corporations and what they spent to lobby Congress in 2009:

US Chamber of Commerce                                                    $73,899,200
Exxon Mobil                                                                           $27,430,000
Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America                                $26,150,520
General Electric                                                                       $21,470,000
AARP                                                                                     $21,010,000
American Medical Assn                                                           $20,830,000
Chevron Corp                                                                         $20,815,000
Blue Cross/Blue Shield                                                            $20,067,939
Pfizer Inc                                                                                $19,669,268
National Assn of Realtors                                                        $19,477,000
Verizon Communications                                                         $17,820,000
FedEx Corp                                                                            $17,000,000
Boeing Co                                                                               $16,850,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn                            $15,980,000
Northrop Grumman                                                                 $15,180,000
Lockheed Martin                                                                     $13,533,782
Business Roundtable                                                                $13,410,000
ConocoPhillips                                                                         $13,382,079
American Hospital Assn                                                           $13,230,696
Altria Group                                                                             $12,770,000

Ain’t that some shit?  Makes me wanna beat someone about the head and shoulders with a Louisville Slugger.