Wednesday :: Jun 22, 2005

The [Republican] Congress is now a transactional institution


by Duckman GR

Workers say MZM founder pressed them to give to PAC

By Marcus Stern COPLEY NEWS SERVICE June 22, 2005

"By the spring of '02, Mitch was twisting employees' arms to donate to his MZM PAC," said one former employee. "We were called in and told basically either donate ... or we would be fired."

Many companies have PACs, but campaign finance laws prohibit employers from pressuring workers to contribute to the PAC. [snip]

"It is illegal to solicit campaign contributions for the company's political action committee by the use of threats, force or threat of job reprisal," said Larry Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission and currently director of the Center for Responsive Politics....

"If they say to somebody, 'You either give or you are going to be fired,' they have violated the law," Noble said.

Look at this Cunningham scandal, look at Coingate. This is the republican party. The onion is getting peeled ever so slowly.

What really matters is not the alleged criminal behavior, but what's revealed about the cesspool of DC lobbying by corporate America.

That isn?t what this country is supposed to be about, after all, not greed and unfettered rank capitalism, public servants seemingly responsible not to their country but to some unprincipled corporation.

We all know about, check that, we should all know about the ?K Street Project," well, read about it here, thanks to Elizabeth Drew. [Excerpts below] And I think you should read it, print it out, take your time, pass it amongst your friends, consider it and what it means for Democracy. They're corrupt, down to the nth degree, and detrimental to our health, wealth, and general well being.

Look at cunningham. An unknown contractor starts developing contacts within the Congress, via bake sales etc, on the House Appropriations Cmte, then gets millions of dollars in contracts. Nothing to see here, just business as usual. Sure, this particular contractor is seeking work mainly with three defense intelligence operations: [from Stern article above-ed]

Counter Intelligence Field Activity, a highly secretive program created in 2002 by a Pentagon directive that focuses on gathering intelligence to avert attacks like the ones on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Army National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Va., whose mission is to provide soldiers with battlefield intelligence.

The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Ft. Belvoir, Va., just outside Washington, which also provides battlefield intelligence.

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Who is this Wade guy, where'd he come from, what kind of torture scheme is he connected with? Who's he spying for, and more importantly, who's he spying on? Iraqi's? Bin Forgotten? You? Me?

Look, when someone suggests, [Drew], to [g]rover [n]orquist ... that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, "We don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist Republicans on K Street" you know there's a problem. And when one of those corporations does intelligence work for homeland security, and has congressmen and women in their pcoket, and when [p]eople in the Republican party, in the agencies, will say, 'I hear you were badmouthing X.' You know that you're being watched; you know that it's taken into account in your ability to do public policy things ...." Another lobbyist says, "It's scary now. People are afraid to say what they feel. It's had a chilling effect on debate" you have to wonder.

Wonder how we're going to get our country back, our Democracy back. Not by compromising, that's for certain, not for attacking those who fight back, not by backing down from your principles or beliefs or, get this, FACTS.

Here's more from Ms. Drew below. Read it. Think about it. Think about it before you buy a dell computer, or a gas guzzler suv, or shop at wal mart, or think that something schwarzenegger wants to do has any merit.

DeLay, Santorum, and their associates organized a systematic campaign, closely monitored by Republicans on Capitol Hill and by Grover Norquist and the Republican National Committee, to put pressure on firms not just to hire Republicans but also to fire Democrats. With the election of Bush, this pressure became stronger. A Republican lobbyist told me, "Having the White House" has made it more possible for DeLay and Santorum "to enforce the K Street Project." Several Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution. They are told that they won't be able to see the people on Capitol Hill they want to see. Sometimes the retribution is more tangible. The Republican lobbyist I spoke to said, "There's a high state of sensitivity to the partisanship of the person you hire for these jobs that did not exist five, six years ago?you hire a Democrat at your peril."

In one instance well known among lobbyists, the Ohio Republican Michael Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put pressure on the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual fund companies, to fire its top lobbyist, a Democrat, and hire a Republican to replace her. According to a Washington Post story on February 15, 2003, six sources, both Democratic and Republican, said that members of Oxley's staff told the institute that a pending congressional investigation of mutual fund companies "might ease up if the mutual fund trade group complies with their wishes." It apparently didn't matter to them that House ethics rules prohibit congressmen or their staff "from bestowing benefits on the basis of the recipient's status as a supporter or contributor, or partisan affiliation." A Republican now holds the top job at the Investment Company Institute.

Snip

A recently released Congressional Quarterly study said that the disclosure forms filed by members of Congress "frequently show a direct correlation between a member's legislative interests and the sponsors of his or her trips."

Snip

The effects of the new, higher level of corruption on the way the country is governed are profound. Not only is legislation increasingly skewed to benefit the richest interests, but Congress itself has been changed. The head of a public policy strategy group told me, "It's not about governing anymore. The Congress is now a transactional institution. They don't take risks. So when a great moral issue comes up? like war?they can't deal with it." The theory that ours is a system of one-person-one-vote, or even that it's a representative democracy, is challenged by the reality of power and who really wields it. Barney Frank argues that "the political system was supposed to overcome the financial advantage of the capitalists, but as money becomes more and more influential, it doesn't work that way."

That's the gop. Others have noted the lack of anything more then lip service by "moderate" goppers to these reprehensible policies and activities and crimes of the gop, save for a handful of votes by the girls from Maine and some others.

For those who want to play the game their way, to continue to think that they're interested in policy, or doing the right thing, or making the world a better place, I say, think again. And act accordingly.

Sure, taking down a nasty, petty, thug like Cunningham is pleasurable in and of itself, and trolls, it?s not because he?s a war hero, but because he?s a crooked republican stooge, ill-mannered, thuggish; why, I believe he wants me lined up against a wall and shot, me personally, as he's said in the past, so, yes, I will be pleased to see him frog marched to some prison, any prison.

The fact that he served honorably for his country, in yet another ill-conceived war not withstanding, only makes his behaviors more reprehensible. But that's what greed and power lust will do to some people. Not him, he's not that smart, frankly. It's the grovers and rovers and falwells and robertsons and scaifes and fascist corporatists pulling the strings, that ruin people, that turn honorable men and women into petty, sneaking whores, desperately lusting for their preciousssssss and some kind of immortality, and in vain I add, in vain.

Duckman GR :: 2:36 PM :: Comments (5) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!