K street antics
June 29, 2003 5:40 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to the Machine This article in the Washington Monthly describes a long term project of the Republican party to change the largely bipartisan nature of K street lobbying firms and install Republican thought leaders. In return for political benefits to the lobbyists clients, the lobbyists and their clients are expected to play nice with the Republicans on other issues. K Street has been a moderating influence against drastic change, as some constituent always objects. Under this new right-wing symbiotic relationship, individual interests are somewhat subordinated to the right-wing agenda. One of the more fascinating aspects is how it dramatically improves Republican fundraising; for instance:"For years, conservatives have been pushing to divert part of Social Security into private investment accounts. Such a move, GOP operatives argued, would provide millions of new customers and potentially trillions of dollars to the mutual fund industry that would manage the private accounts. The profits earned would, of course, be shared with the GOP in the form of campaign contributions. In other words, by sluicing the funds collected by the federal government's largest social insurance program through businesses loyal to the GOP, the party would instantly convert the crown jewels of Democratic governance into a pillar of the new Republican machine. " Of course the whole premise of this system rests upon continued Republican control. If the Democrats can wrest back control of the House and Senate, or install another strong president some of these lobbyists and their constituents will likely find themselves closed out of the process. Oh what a lovely way to govern. (via The Filibuster)
posted by caddis (30 comments total)
A good article, and a very sobering read. Paul Krugman's latest column in the Times discussed this article and argues that, if anything, author Nicholas Confessore understates what the Republicans are up to:

"Mr. Confessore suggests that we may be heading for a replay of the McKinley era, in which the nation was governed by and for big business. I think he's actually understating his case: like Mr. DeLay, Republican leaders often talk of 'revolution,' and we should take them at their word."

Josh Marshall notes that much the same thing is going on in Texas, where the recent re-redistricting flap is just part of the Republicans' plan to entrench themselves as the permanent government.
posted by Zonker at 5:58 AM on June 29, 2003

Oh what a lovely way to post. Via the Filibuster, how deliciously ironic.
posted by grahamwell at 5:58 AM on June 29, 2003

Looks like someone (grahamwell) read the irony article. Nice.

Now, just out of curiosity...don't democrats do this kind of thing too? I mean, I know in the past they've tried the redistricting thing. As stupid as it sounds, I think that it's common practice to try and redistrict in your favor.

On the other hand, please vote in 2004.
posted by graventy at 6:26 AM on June 29, 2003

It's a common practise to redistrict a state once every ten years, after the results of the census are available, and yes, both parties seek advantage when doing that. That happened in Texas in 2002 (or so).

It is not a common practise to redistrict more than once within a ten-year cycle, which is what the Republicans are up to. Prior to the current mess, a "re-redistricting" of this sort hadn't happened in more than 50 years.

And as the articles linked above make clear, what the Republicans are doing now -- which includes, but is by no means limited to re-redistricting whenever they see a chance -- is very much unprecedented.
posted by Zonker at 6:35 AM on June 29, 2003

"The haves are on the march. With growing inequality, so grows their power. And so also diminish the voices of solidarity and mutual reinforcement, the voices of civil society, the voices of a democratic and egalitarian middle class." – James K. Galbraith, Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay (1998)

Galbraith is on solid ground; the US middle class is shrinking, (also here (174K jpeg graph), and analysis, links (by Scott Kerlin, PhD., an academic consultant),while the wealth of the rich elite is steadily growing. The history of Fordism is very relevant to this issue.

Sometimes they march, sometimes they throw noisy tantrums, sometimes they carry out beatings and mob attacks, but mostly they just creep in the night! (see below)

Republican vote rigging [see also here,here, here, here, here, here (Mefi discussion thread), here, here, here, here, here ] is part of the overall strategy too. The Republican Party - together with it's associated think tanks (which now far outnumber their liberal counterparts) and it's paid political operatives - is working all the angles, legal and otherwise. This campaign, to entrench the Republican Party as the party permanently in power, is decentralized but quite pervasive and driven by, surprise surprise, lots of cash.

posted by troutfishing at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2003

In an interesting note, the last paragraph:

"It wouldn't be the first time. A little over a century ago, William McKinley--Karl Rove's favorite president--positioned the Republican Party as a bulwark of the industrial revolution against the growing backlash from agrarian populists, led by Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan."

WJB was a certified kook. Pro gold standard, prohibitionist, fundamentalist evangelical, staunchly isolationistic, and incredibly charismatic in front of an audience, on a par with Huey Long or Adolf Hitler. Pulling enough strings to force himself on Franklin Roosevelt, who personally despised him, he almost single handedly ruined American foreign policy as Secretary of State. Not only the Republicans loathed him, but most intelligent people did.

Though not entirely accurate, check out the movie "Inherit the Wind."
posted by kablam at 7:53 AM on June 29, 2003

Doesn't the description of WJB sound familiar, though? While I don't know about Bush's stance on the gold standard, the closely similar "recovered alcoholic, fundamentalist Christian, staunchly isonlationistic and somewhat charismatic in front of an audience" part certainly rings true.

Why is it no one refers to Bush as a "kook"?
posted by FormlessOne at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2003

Yep, I can spell, really. That should be "isolationistic"...
posted by FormlessOne at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2003

it's cool how you completely replace words in the description of WJB to more closely resemble GWB in a quote about WJB meant to draw similarities between the two.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2003

Why is it no one refers to Bush as a "kook"?
Because we don't feel like listening to a rant about how killing Arabs makes them not want to kill us, deficit spending makes the economy stronger, farm-company subsidies aren't welfare and anybody who disagrees is some sort of extremist liberal idealogue.
posted by mosch at 8:47 AM on June 29, 2003

Bush isn't a kook. He's a smart (if inarticulate), highly effective executive who is remarkably incurious.

And I loathe his adminstration's policies.
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 AM on June 29, 2003

highly effective executive

If previous success as an executive was a requirement for office, Bush and Clinton wouldn't have made White House Mail Clerk. Ignoring the horrible record of their respective goverened states alone, I seem to recall Bush having a few failed Businesses under his belt and Clinton not being exactly the best negotiator in land ownership.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2003

Of those that voted for Bush, I wonder what percentage even know who William McKinley is.
posted by four panels at 9:39 AM on June 29, 2003

Of those who didn't vote for Bush, how many know who McKinley is, either?

You don't have to be stupid to vote for Bush. I'm emphatically NOT a Bush voter, but assuming only stupid people are is indulging in the same sort of elitist underestimation that allowed him into office in the first place.
posted by jscalzi at 9:47 AM on June 29, 2003

...as opposed to those who voted for other candidates, the majority of which I'm sure could write books on McKinley.

preview: Yeah.. what jscalzi said.
posted by Wingy at 9:53 AM on June 29, 2003

highly effective executive

yes, he definitely is:
During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas—a record unmatched in modern American history. All governors claim that they agonize over death penalty decisions. Bush made numerous statements to this effect. But [the] execution summaries belie these assurances." —Alan Berlow, in "The Texas Clemency Memos," in the July/August Atlantic.
posted by matteo at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2003

I would agree that all of us could stand to learn more about McKinley at this point. Fair enough, no?

We're in the middle of experiencing a massive real-time case study in McKinleynomics. Karl Rove's secret agenda to educate us about a past President is paying off. If only he could have chosen William Henry Harrison.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:21 AM on June 29, 2003

The Fordism article linked above by troutfishing is quite interesting. However, it leaves off at the 1960s, more or less, and therefore doesn't cover the way in which the employer-labor union partnership completely fell apart beginning in the '80s as globalization started shifting manufacturing jobs off to Asia and Latin America. Plus, he ignores altogether the influence of Organized Crime within unions which is relevant to the extent that many of the mob bosses were more anti-communist than J. Edgar himself.

But directly on topic, the article shows more than ever that those American citizens who disagree with the GWB gang need to do whatever's necessary to block the path their moving down. Redistricting in Texas, recall of Davis in Cali (he sucks, I suppose, but the Republicans cannot be permitted to have his seat ahead of 2004), the changes on K Street, whatever. Before DeLay gets his revolution.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2003

WJB was a certified kook. Pro gold standard, . .

WJB may have been a kook, but one thing he definitely was not was pro gold standard. Free silver anyone? The idea being that a move to the silver standard would liquify the money supply to the the benefit of the (significant at that time) rural/agrarian population. In the Midwest one still runs across silver notes in circulation on occasion. During that part of my life where I worked in retail primarily I managed to secure two $20 notes, and probably missed a few others.

And now, back to the topic at hand . . .
posted by Fezboy! at 12:00 PM on June 29, 2003

Matteo, XQUZYPHYR - re: "...a highly effective executive."

I didn't say that I liked the man, or that he's a nice or moral person (by my lights). From from it. Hitler was also a highly effective executive.


Billsaysthis - well, you summarized the post 1960's developments (concerning "Fordism" pretty nicely. And then there's Wal-Mart.
posted by troutfishing at 1:56 PM on June 29, 2003

*is going to Wal*Mart as soon as the Confederations Cup final is over*
posted by billsaysthis at 2:03 PM on June 29, 2003

dash_slot: you should be aware that the prime examples of corporatism in the world today are the Scandinavian social democracies.

All it means is that firms (or industrial group organizations) and/or unions have a direct role in policymaking.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:20 PM on June 29, 2003

billsaysthis - My wife won't let me go to Wal-Mart.

ROU_Xenophobe - I'd say that the US is in hot pursuit of that title - after all, Halliburton seems to have been granted the contract to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure and to manage the oil fields....forever? (last thing I heard)

Halliburton, Bechtel, and other large corporate concerns tightly linked to the Bush Administration are benefitting handsomely from their connections to government.

Daniel Perle, before quitting the Defense Policy Board, had joined a corporate venture which made anti-terrorism software.

And Dick Cheney still hasn't released the minutes of those cute little meetings with top energy execs for "input" into US energy policy. Remember those? They were secret, and excluded environmental groups. The GAO filed a lawsuit to force Cheney to cough up the transcripts, but to no avail. The case was rejected.
posted by troutfishing at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2003

Oops - That's Richard Perle! Islamic terrorists got Daniel (no relation).
posted by troutfishing at 4:01 PM on June 29, 2003

Personally, I'm wondering when the Revolution will come.

Because it is coming, and it isn't going to be pretty.
posted by Cerebus at 4:04 PM on June 29, 2003

hmm, it seems Bush has extra money to spend:

Mr. Coelho said he expected the Bush campaign to contribute millions of excess dollars to Congressional campaign committees and state and local Republican parties to be used to improve the party's position in Congress. "What they want to do is not just target Bush's re-election but also make the Republican Party the majority party for the rest of the decade if not longer," he said.
posted by MzB at 4:18 PM on June 29, 2003

Elephant Uber Alles.
posted by troutfishing at 4:55 PM on June 29, 2003

Because it is coming, and it isn't going to be pretty.

Nah. Americans don't have the stomach for revolution anymore. Unless it happens on tv and has lots of half-naked bimbos mudwrestling to not get voted off the democracy.
posted by rushmc at 10:20 AM on June 30, 2003

rushmc - I think it'll have that sort of thing - to distract us from other developments. Cerebus didn't specify what kind of revolution.
posted by troutfishing at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2003

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