New Gingrich: In the Lobby with Lobbyists

Newt Gingrich loves to make sure everyone knows that he isn’t a lobbyist, but with Bloomberg News reporting that he made between 1.6 and 1.8 million consulting for Freddie Mac, Gingrich appears to be playing the semantic game.

Image from the Daily Kos

When asked about his “lobbying” activity Gingrich is suspiciously vague.

First, he told CNBC that he was strictly a “historian” for Freddie Mac, making him one of the most well paid historians of all time. Plato’s account of Atlantis wouldn’t even fetch a price that high. Next, when asked on Fox News Channel about his consulting work Gingrich told Sean Hannity that he was just doing his civic duty.

” As a citizen, I’m allowed to have an opinion.” he said.

But most citizen’s aren’t paid millions of dollars for their “opinion”. And that “opinion” isn’t informed and connected to politicians and an insider culture of power elite. Bloomberg goes on to say (unfortunately with anonymous sources):

Former Freddie Mac officials familiar with his work in 2006 say Gingrich was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.

 

Building bridges between politicians and the private sector is what lobbying is all about. In most job descriptions for historian there isn’t a bridge building clause. And with regards to the whole citizen defense, since when do any of us get paid to be citizens? If that’s a paying job sign me up.

Gingrich likes to walk a slimy rope between lobbyist and “citizen”. Ultimately he defends himself by saying that he is paid for opinions he already has, so the money doesn’t influence what he already believes. From the New York Times piece:

Referring to the health records issue Mr. Gingrich said, “I happen to believe if you’re traveling — as you do — and you get into a car wreck or have a stroke or something happens, we ought to be able to instantaneously access a record to know exactly what medicine you’re taking; to be able to provide you a treatment in the emergency room without risking killing you. I believe this very deeply,” he said.

 

He continued, “If Newt Gingrich believes that, happens to also be working with companies that care about that, and I go walk in to see friends of mine to talk about the issue, they’re responding to what Newt Gingrich believes. Because they know that I don’t go out and say ‘Tell me what you believe in — I’ll be for apples this week if you’ll pay me for apples.’ I walk in and say ‘Look, this is what I believe in.’”

 

The Colbert Report says it best:

 

Luckily for Gingrich a lot of very elite and wealthy people believe in the same things. What he doesn’t understand is that he is the poster boy for something that the everyday citizen doesn’t believe in: the revolting door culture of Washington. Whether Gingrich calls himself a lobbyist or not isn’t the real issue. Most people will look at Gingrich as a facilitator between private interest and members of Congress. So, from a citizen giving out my opinions for free I have to ask Gingrich: Where is my check?

 

 

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King Bloomberg’s Proclamation: NO PAGES ALLOWED!

Mayor Bloomberg seemed smugly happy about his eviction of the sleeping Occupy Wall Street protestors in the middle of the night on Tuesday. He took full responsibility at the press conference that morning, saying,

We have been in constant contact with Brookfield and yesterday they requested that the City assist it in enforcing the no sleeping and camping rules in the park. But make no mistake – the final decision to act was mine.

But if Mayor Bloomberg was so pleased with his large scale police action, including reports of an LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) being deployed in the streets, why didn’t he let any of the press cover it?

There are multiple reports from journalists who experienced violence by the NYPD and were denied access to the operation. Journalists who were corralled and kept away from the scene, and reporters from the New York Times and NPR who were arrested. CBS News has confirmed that the airspace in Lower Manhattan was restricted, making it impossible for images of the operation to be broadcast from the air.

The restriction of press coverage of the OWS raid is one of the most unsettling revelations to come out of the NYPD’s operation of overwhelming militarized force. Initial reports that tear gas was used on the protestors hasn’t been confirmed, presumably because no one was allowed to cover it and anyone that was tear gassed is still sitting in jail. The press in Lower Manhattan were restricted on Tuesday more than in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

With press censorship systematic during the NYPD raid journalists set up #mediablackout on twitter to spread instances of repression and censorship by police officers. One photographer was shoved away when he tried to photograph a protestor being led to an ambulance on a stretcher.

Bloomberg later said that there weren’t any serious injuries. But what happened to the guy on the stretcher? And what about City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested and last seen bleeding from the head? I suppose Mayor Bloomberg didn’t consider his injuries “serious” enough.

According to Bloomberg press were kept from covering the raid out of fear for their safety, but does that mean reporters are safer in a war zone than they are in one of the riches areas of Manhattan? And what does that say about the CBS news helicopter? It’s completely false to imply that covering the NYPD using military tactics on peaceful civilians is a danger to journalists. Bloomberg violated the First Amendment and stifled freedom of the press in the name of state secrecy and government repression. New York was a police state on Tuesday. We need to remind King Bloomberg that New York isn’t in Syria. The only danger on Tuesday was the power elites silencing the truth, then covering it up with the thinnest of veiled excuses.

Technocrats: the Waiters of Austerity

The debt problem in the European Union has led to the ousting of prime ministers from two countries, Italy and Greece. With George Papandreou and Silvio Burlusconi stepping down amid a toppling house of cards made of debt that threatens the integrity of the EU,  a new class of leader appointed by elite interests has emerged as a hope for stability: the technocrat.

Both the successors of these elected politicians have been called technocrats by newspapers all over the world, but the idea of a technocrat in charge looks more like a reliance on mysticism than a commitment to democracy. A recent Slate article notes that a technocrat is:

“An expert, not a politician. Technocrats make decisions based on specialized information rather than public opinion. For this reason, they are sometimes called upon when there’s no popular or easy solution to a problem (like, for example, the European debt crisis). The word technocrat derives from the Greek tekhne, meaning skill or craft, and an expert in a field like economics can be as much a technocrat as one in a field more commonly thought to be technological (like robotics).”

So, the technocrat is appointed and all of the problems of these countries are solved, right? These men are considered experts in the systems which dominate world relations, namely free-market capitalism. But what if the system is the problem? Working under the assumption that no expert can fix a flaw deeply embedded in the ideology, in the very fabric, of our globalized market system the adventure of the technocrat could be a folly without end. The technocrat isn’t concerned with giving voice to the of the Greek or Italian people, that isn’t his job. In this case his only job is to avoid default. Unfortunately for the people of these two Mediterranean countries default is exactly what is going to save them from the market’s heavy handed dish of austerity, a dish best served to the unrefined palate of the middle class.

 

 

Seriously Herman Cain?

The Cain campaign is about as unorthodox as you can get. Half the time it’s just a struggle trying to figure out if the man is joking or not. You have to hand it to him though, he has certainly figured out how to say a whole bunch of crazy shit and then laugh it off as a misunderstood joke.

The New York Times puts this idea into perspective perfectly:

Cain pivoted over to Obamacare, which he said could destroy America’s health system. “We got the best in the world!” Cain said. “Why do you think sheeks and shakes and shikes come here when they get sick? Because we have the best — ” Cain stopped short. “That’s supposed be a joke, y’all.”

Installing an electric fence to zap illegals trying to cross the border?…..Na just joking.

Weird campaign video with a smoking chief of staff and a smiling Cain creepily staring into the camera? Kind of joking…..

Force your hand up a women’s skirt…Wait, joking?

The American electorate has proven it will tolerate a ton of crazy shit, especially on the right, but where does reality begin and the pseudo-reality polyurethane glassy-eyed television show end. At the end of the day we are talking about some serious shit going on here. I like absurdity just as much as the next guy, I’m just wondering if their is a level of tolerance or just a shoulder shrug and then back to the grind.

Or as a New York Times magazine piece quotes:

“That’s the magic of Herman Cain,” said an admiring Richard Marriott, chairman of Host Hotels & Resorts, who worked with Cain when both were at the National Restaurant Association. “No matter what he comes up with, they all laugh and say: ‘That’s great. He’s different.’ If somebody else came out with that ad, they would tear him apart.”

And maybe he’s right. Maybe America should “lighten up” and get a sense of humor. Aren’t we all too serious about not having a place to live? About families torn apart because of a never ending war? About a whole generation of kids like me with no prospects and a crippling student loan debt? Naaa, laugh it off. These are all jokes too. More fictional scenes on the reality show of life. We don’t need a commander-in-chief. Let’s elect a guy like Mr. Cain, a clown-in-chief. I’m not all that interested in being politically correct, but shouldn’t we all at least know when to laugh. Laugh to keep from crying I guess. Herman is just going to keep laughing on his way to the bank. I have to ask though. Mr. Cain, when does your reality show air?

taken from the New York Times website

Herman Cain, 1966