Thursday, November 30, 2006

Joe Lieberman: Jackal of All Trades

Yesterday's post about StumbleUpon drew a few comments, and I'm always grateful for those, because that's what really makes a good blog. Daily Kos is a great site mainly because so many smart and caring people post comments that are often more substantive and informative than the main articles. This is what the 'Net and the blogosphere are supposed to be about. So thanks to you all for posting your comments, and by all means, keep it up.

As for Klassy, I thoroughly agree with the commenters: she's got more taste in her belly button lint than Britney will ever have in her entire life, most likely (and no, I'm not linking to any of the stories about the latter that are all over the place). And as for StumbleUpon, I'm using it already: today's graphic and link are from a site that I "stumbled upon" using the Firefox extension. It's a good companion piece to Terry McKenna's article below, and it's about the threat to democracy posed by the inequality of wealth.

Now, on to Terry and his study of the corporate stranglehold on our government. This is the kind of information we'll need as we monitor next year's 110th Congress to see whether the blues are honoring their mandate.

Now we move from words to money and influence.

We’ve suggested in the past that corporate America owns our government. To buy a government takes lot of money. Fortunately, information about most campaign contributions is in the public record. It's also useful that there are high-minded groups that review and digest the data.

Today’s article focuses on the oil and gas industry, but all of corporate America owns at least a small piece of the government pie. Most corporations help fund industry associations (lobbyists) that expend billions to tell our legislators exactly what laws industry wants, and what it wants quashed. And then there is campaign cash. I gave maybe $100 this past year to Democratic candidates. Industry and industry leaders give lots more. Since 1998, the Big Five oil producers gave $146MM to political parties, PACS and candidates. (From the Center for Public Integrity). Of course, influence peddling occurs across all commercial interests, not just oil. The nation’s biggest lobby may be the pharmaceutical lobby. (Remember the Medicare reform bill – this was crafted by a combination of drug company lobbyists, hospital associations, insurance lobbyists and right wing think tanks).

Campaign cash steers voting. For example, Joe Lieberman is presented as independent and ethical, yet many of his votes appear to mesh with the wishes of his campaign contributors. This list, from the Open Secrets website suggests support from a number of well-heeled constituencies:


Top Industries The top industries supporting Joe Lieberman are:

1 Lawyers/Law Firms $3,142,444
2 Securities & Investment $2,402,813
3 Real Estate $2,055,519
4 Retired $1,352,496
5 Pro-Israel $876,388
6 Insurance $830,577
7 Misc Finance $825,370
8 Health Professionals $816,402
9 Business Services $699,404
10 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $511,586
11 Misc Business $495,099

In 1993, Joe Lieberman led the quashing of accounting rules that would have forced the reporting of stock options as having real cash value. This single accounting reform might have single handedly prevented the abuses that led to large collapses like Enron and World Com. Joe took an especially aggressive interest in this issue. Were his beliefs solely his own, or tainted by campaign cash?

My point is that all are involved here, not just Republicans.

--T. McKenna

Tomorrow, Terry will be continuing on this theme, shifting his focus on to big oil.

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