Category Archives: Uncategorized

Today’s Stories of Interest

The truth is out- Sean Hannity’s “Freedom Concerts” are a scam that
takes allows him and his family luxury travel and provides injured
soldiers almost nothing. Why is this not surprising at all? http://www.debbieschlussel.com/6938/sean-hannitys-freedom-concert-scam-only-7-of-charitys-money-went-to-injured-troops-kids-of-fallen-troops-g5s-g6s-for-vannity/

Dodd’s new not-so-independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency : http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/541394/dodd_s_not_independent_consumer_watchdog

47,000 new reasons to pass the health care bill! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/health/policy/19arizona.html?ref=us

Greenspan admits he did “very little” to prevent the banking crisis, but claims it wasn’t his fault: http://www.propublica.org/ion/blog/item/greenspan-financial-crisis-not-my-fault

Civilian contractors wounded on injured in Iraq, now in financial ruins, take on AIG: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/back-iraq-injured-war-zone-workers-fight-insurance/story?id=10125056

Politicians Are Crack Fiends for Cash

Tuesday’s post on politicians’ all consuming sense of entitlement was but an introduction to a series on the psyche of the elected official, and why they must not be depended on for reform and progressive change.   The elected official has two primary preoccupations- getting reelected and getting ready to run for higher office.  These two agendas intertwine in the crack fiend-like dependence on raising cash constantly.

It used to befuddle me why safe incumbents were so hell-bent on milking their mailing lists for money and holding fundraisers within weeks of re-election.   One reason is to scare off challengers, be they general election challengers in contested districts or primary challengers in very liberal or very conservative districts.   Though primary challenges usually occur due to a scandal or ideological deviation from the incumbent, Reshma Saujani’s well financed challenge to Representative Carolyn Maloney in New York shows lightning can strike at any time.  One congressional staffer to a very safe liberal explained to me that his Congressman needs to fundraise every year not just to scare off challengers, but to build relationships with those donors for when he needs them.  One shudders to think what “building a relationship” entails when one side is handing cash to the other.

Raising money not only preserves one’s seat, it also prepares an officeholder for taking the next step.  Most seats open quite suddenly.  A death, scandal, or political appointment may create a vacancy in an office at any moment.   A candidate has to be ready with the $3 million unspent from his last race when the moment calls.   Even if the race is not a special election, even ‘regular’ circumstances that would encourage a run for higher office, such as the retirement of an incumbent or changing political winds, requires one to be ready with at least a rolodex of people who can raise money in a hurry.

It is obvious that there are only so many numbers to call and receptions to attend if you’re looking a few million dollars in handouts- wealthy individuals and corporate interests.   The quid pro quo ranges from implied to explicit, but the result is the same.  The question is, what citizens do about it?

Sure, strong campaign finance laws would be helpful, but so are a lot of other things that won’t happen any time soon.   We need to think creatively about how to apply pressure and build awareness. The first wave of elected officials to be targeted with outside pressure should be safe incumbents.   They need to be weaned off of their relationships with donors when they don’t “need” the money.  At town halls, elected officials should pledge not to hold fundraising events during their first year in office.  If you really want to make them look absurd, make them pledge not to hold fundraising events or make fundraising phone calls during their first three months in office!  So much time goes into these phone calls and events that it impedes their ability to legislate and govern, which is what we the tax-payers sent them to do.

(This is the second piece in a series on money and politicians. You can read Part I here)

Today’s Stories of Interest

An in depth and fascinating look at our Social Security system. The next time someone tells you that it’s running out of money, here’s the reason why: Daily Kos: Who Is Our Biggest Creditor? Hint: It’s Not Japan or China

Check out Open Congress- a bill requiring information that is “publicly available” to actually be publicly available, by having the government post it online: H.R.4858: Public Online Information Act of 2010 – U.S. Congress – OpenCongress

An era of greater government transparancy? Apparently not…. Federal agencies under Obama invoking secrecy provision more often than under Bush: http://rawstory.com/2010/03/obama-agencies-invoking-secrecy-provision-bush/

and more…. http://rawstory.com/2010/03/protecting-agencies-oversight-obama-threatens-veto-intelligence-funding/

Health insurance companies spend millions to push Congress against public option reform (http://tinyurl.com/yjqfwvn), meanwhile, financially-strapped states cut Medicaid payments (http://tinyurl.com/yj4tcax). Whose interests will win — those of corporations or everyday Americans?

The Columbia Journalism Review says this blog deserves credit for scooping the mainstream media on the real story behind the financial crisis- the role of Timothy Geithner: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/03/wray-timmy-gate-did-geithner-help-hide-lehman-fraud.html

Warning: Clicking on these links may cause enlightenment in some readers

Visit Our Revamped Library!

One of our goals is for folks new to the site and new to   activism generally to learn about all the major issues of corporate influence in our politics and policies.   When I first got the activist bug in 2001, I spent hours googling, trying to soak in as much as I could.   Well, it’s now 2010, and there’s no excuse for us not to have a compendium of articles dissecting issues, holding corporations and their political enablers accountable, and promoting reform.

As with everything else here at the Bull Moose Movement, the Library will be a work in progress, but we hope that down the road it will serve as a useful tool for everyone from the veteran organizer brushing up on an issue to the young person trying to get involved for the first time.  While the layout in the Library link itself is not ideal, the more user-friendly issue sorting is available on the right-hand side of the main site.

Suggestions welcome!

Sense of Entitlement

John Liu, New York City’s first Asian-American City Councilman, had always been described as ambitious, not an unusual adjective for a politician. With hunger for power was on full display last year when he flirted with running for Mayor, ran for Public Advocate, and then dropped out to enter the more winnable Comptroller race, which indeed he won. Now he asks staff to stand when he walks into a room and has people address him as “Mr. Comptroller.” This is staggering hubris for a second-tier New York political hack, who saw the last days of his election plagued by his own mother’s revelation that he had lied about working in a sweatshop as a child.

Mr. Liu is a particularly egregious example of the swollen-head political class, but he is far from alone among elected officials in forgetting that he is a public servant, whose job and many amenities are paid for by hard-working taxpayers. Again, to Liu’s credit, he at least is vocal on many issues, though he is behind the curve on most of them. A lot of politicians simply coast through their terms, accomplishing little outside of the constituent services their underpaid staffers and unpaid interns deliver for them. Such politicians fail to acknowledge their own mediocrity. Witness New York state politics, where the dance goes on, pretty much irrespective of which party controls the legislature and which people lead the legislature, let alone who represents pockets of Queens or Westchester.

Very few elected officials demonstrate the intelligence, hard work and leadership that should be a prerequisite for the job. The sense of entitlement that envelops these unimpressive individuals allows them to ignore their communities and more readily succumb to corporate influence. The Bull Moose Movement does not endorse candidates, and it will not focus on electoral results. We believe that voters need to learn the truth about their elected officials, many of whom are too lazy to even regularly schedule events in the district outside of high-end fundraisers. In future posts we discuss reforms that could improve the caliber of our elected officials, but in the end, voters have to make better choices than sending the same people back to City Hall, Albany and Washington. One of our goals this summer will be encouraging communities to start demanding the same kind of access that top lobbyist dollars can buy. After all, aren’t taxpayers already contributing more than lobbyists ever will?

Today’s Stories of Interest

Dan Firger and Janos Marton’s Op-Ed Piece on The Huffington Post!! Why We Need a New Bull Moose Movement: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-firger/why-we-need-a-new-bull-mo_b_497048.html

What if a mass of citizens owned the banks? Imagine that! http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100329/nichols

No decorum left in SCOTUS. Not surprising either. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/14/virginia-thomas-tea-party_n_498283.html

A message of fear to those brave enough to blow the whistle on the big banks: http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/

Interesting stuff, eh?

Today’s Stories of Interest

Corporate seduction and intimidation at its best: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100315/wiener

House Dems block earmarks to for-profits:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/us/politics/11earmark.html?hp

DC residents fight corporate giveaways for a defense contractor:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/12-8

Mass incarceration of people of color = new Jim Crow
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/alexander

Increased corporate spending on election ads will be less than transparent:

http://www.propublica.org/article/higher-corporate-spending-on-election-ads-could-be-all-but-invisible

You read it… you can’t unread it!

Today’s Stories of Interest

Disney can’t handle the heat, forces mental health center to kick out critical childhood advocacy group: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/education/10baby.html?hp

Dennis Kucinich: the sole liberal in the House that won’t support the health care bill before congress if it doesn’t include a public option. “This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry – $70 billion dollars a year, and no guarantees of any control over premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance,… five consecutive
years of double-digit premium increases.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k92JGmO1HP0

The revolving door keeps on spinnin’ – former DNC Chief Counsel to advise corporations on new campaign finance law landscape: http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/85311-trade-group-hires-democratic-lawyer-to-lobby-on-campaign-finance-reform

Today’s winner and losers: Senate kills summer jobs program and benefits for the poor with 45 votes; Schumer plans to join Republicans and centrist Dems in killing Wall Street bonus tax: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/09/senate-drops-funding-for_n_491493.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/09/another-wall-street-bonus_n_491749.html

The Bull Moose and the Sneaky Corporate Beast

There is nothing surprising about major corporations pouring millions of dollars into the political process to secure favorable results for their bottom lines.  What makes corporate influence particularly dangerous, however, is the inability of the American people to recognize the corrosive corporate impact on our politics and policies.  In debates over all of the major issues affecting our country today- war, healthcare, financial reform, jobs, energy and educations, corporations have a vested interest in an outcome, and exercise due care to keep their fingerprints off that outcome.

During the health-care debate, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, not the most popular bunch, got most aggressive behind closed doors, and funded TV ads for sham citizen groups (not unlike Citizens United).  In the run-up to the war in Iraq, dozens of retired military commanders went on news shows to press the case for war without disclosing their role as paid consultants to major military contractors, due largely to a lazy media that did not expose these ties.   Last year, Bank of America’s CEO chaired private conference calls with other industry leaders on how to defeat the pro-worker Employee Free Choice Act.  Big lender lobbyists have swarmed the Hill, particularly the offices of centrist Democrats, to block popular student loan reform.  Just today, we learned that corporations are putting major resources into 2010 efforts under the banner of the Chamber of Commerce, so the negative ads that will inevitably spew cannot be traced back to them.

There is nothing conspiratorial about these corporate efforts.  They lobby for their own benefit and for the benefit of the shareholders- the people who give them bonuses.  I cannot envision a system where people of such skewed character no longer engage in this behavior.  What I look forward to is an awaked populace that sees these tentacles of influence and mobilizes to cast them off by pressing for tough reform laws.   A brutal recession is when people need the support of an aggressive regulatory government more than ever, and that means educating the American public both about why their government isn’t there for them now and how it could be.

The Bull Moose Movement is committed to exposing the anti-democratic corporate forces that fight to the bitter end for legislation Americans actively oppose.  There are many groups like us all over the country, and it is imperative that we work together to share resources and coordinate our community outreach.  If Bank of America, an institution with vastly more resources than all the progressive and reformer groups in the country combined, is organizing its buddies for conference calls, surely we should be too.

Today’s Stories of Interest

After the dust settles, ACORN is cleared of all charges. Their community organizing work will be tougher, however, after major cuts in public funding and private donations following the “scandal.”   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/08-12

“We saved the economy, but we kind of lost the public doing it.” -Simon Johnsonhttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/3/9/844311/-Simon-Johnsons-Most-Powerful-Words-Since-The-Quiet-Coup

Regardless of how you feel about Iran sanctions, it seems that a number of corporations are flouting U.S law by doing business with Iran, and still winning federal contracts. Next time you hear that “sanctions aren’t working,” ask how of it has to do with corporations not respecting them: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/0…