the lobbyists

ISP’s have a History of Censorship when there was NO Net Neutrality

Today we must all come together for #netneutrality so we can keep the Internet open. #SaveNetNeutrality means saving free speech.

— @ACLUAlabama

No #InternetCensorship  No #PayToPlay

I think if there’s a single thing that’s actually happening so far during this administration that is reshaping government and affecting the population broadly, it is what is going on in the regulatory area. … Trump … for the most part, his legislative agenda has not really gone anywhere, but more quietly, in each of the agencies across the federal government, his appointees have been rolling back rules … in just about every sector of the government – from health and the environment, and financial regulatory matters, and workplace safety. And it is pretty extraordinary and it’s happening at such a rapid pace.
—  Eric Lipton, New York Times reporter, with Terry Gross
6-Month Update for Trump Voters

So after six months, has he delivered what he promised you?

1. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.” You bought it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan would have knocked at least 22 million off health insurance, including many of you.)

2. He told you he’d cut your taxes. You bought it. But tax “reform” is stalled. And if it ever moves, the only ones whose taxes will be cut are the wealthy.

3. He told you he’d invest $1 trillion in our nation’ crumbling infrastructure. You bought it. But his infrastructure plan, which was really a giveaway to rich investors, is also stalled.

4. He said he’d clean the Washington swamp. You bought it. But he’s brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses, along with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are crafting new policies for the same industries they recently worked for.

5. He said he’d use his business experience to whip the White House into shape. You bought it. But he created the most chaotic, dysfunctional, back-stabbing White House in modern history, in which no one is in charge.

6. He said he’d close “special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors but unfair to American workers.“ You bought it. But he picked a Wall Street financier Stephen Schwarzman to run his strategic and policy forum, who compares closing those loopholes to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

7. He told you he’d “bring down drug prices” by making deals with drug companies. You bought it. But now the White House says that promise is “inoperative.”

8. He said that on Day One he’d label China a “currency manipulator.” You bought it. But then he met with China’s president and declared "China is not a currency manipulator.”

9. He said he wouldn’t bomb Syria. You bought it. But then he bombed Syria.

10. He called Barack Obama “the vacationer-in-Chief” and accused him of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods. He promised to never be the kind of president who took cushy vacations on the taxpayer’s dime, not when there was so much important work to be done. You bought it. But in his first 6 months he has spent more taxpayer money on vacations than Obama did in the first 3 years of his presidency. Not to mention all the money taxpayers are spending protecting his family, including his two sons who travel all over the world on Trump business.

11. He said he’d force companies to keep jobs in America. You believed him. But despite their promises, Carrier, Ford, GM, and the rest are shipping jobs to Mexico and China.

12. He said he’d create coal jobs. You believe him. He hasn’t. But here’s what he has done: Since 1965 a federal program called the Appalachian Regional Commission has spent $23 billion helping communities in coal states fund job retraining, reclaim land, and provide desperately needed social services. A.R.C. helped cut poverty rates almost in half, double the percentage of high-school graduates, and reduce infant mortality by two-thirds. Trump’s first proposed budget eliminates A.R.C.

Dozens of lobbyists, contractors and others who make their living influencing the government pay President Trump’s companies for membership in his private golf clubs, a status that can put them in close contact with the president, a USA TODAY investigation found.

Members of the clubs Trump has visited most often as president — in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia — include at least 50 executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials. Two-thirds played on one of the 58 days the president was there, according to scores they posted online.

[…]

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally. It is a view of the president available to few other Americans.

— 

USA Today

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally.

Google, Trump, and the Arrogance of Power

Google’s search engine runs two-thirds of all searches in the United States and 90 percent in Europe.

“Platform monopolies” like this can squelch innovation. Google might favor its own services, such as Google Maps and Google Product Search, for example. This is one reason why the European Commission hit Google with a record 2.42 billion-euro fine in June.

Why hasn’t Google run into similar problems with antitrust authorities in the United States?

It almost did in 2012. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition recommended that the Commission sue Google for conduct that “has resulted — and will result — in real harm to … innovation.”

But the commissioners decided not to pursue the case, which was unusual. They didn’t explain their decision, but it may have had to do with Google’s political clout. 

Google is among the largest corporate lobbyists in the United States, and a major campaign donor.

Google also has enough financial power to stifle criticism coming from independent researchers.

Last week the New York Times reported that the New America Foundation, an influential center-left think tank, fired Barry Lynn, a sharp critic of platform monopolies. Lynn had posted a congratulatory note to European officials on their Google decision, and called for American antitrust officials to follow suit.

Since its founding in 1999, the New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google (and its parent company, Alphabet) and from the family foundation of Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet who previously served as chairman of New America’s board.

According to the Times, Schmidt didn’t like Lynn’s comments, and communicated his displeasure to the president of the New America Foundation. She then accused Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole,” and fired him and his staff.

Few powerful institutions or people like criticism. But it’s never smart to use power to try to stop it.

Consider Donald J. Trump. It may seem odd to mention Trump at the same time I’m talking about Google. Google’s executives tend to be on the left. Eric Schmidt was a major backer of Hillary Clinton.  

But power is power, and Trump has demonstrated a similar tendency to throw his ever-expanding weight around. Like Google, he doesn’t particularly like to be criticized, if you hadn’t noticed. 

Trump also has a record of paying off politicians. During the 2016 Republican primaries, when attacked by his GOP rivals for having once donated money to Hillary Clinton, Trump explained “as a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”

After Trump’s charitable foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a campaign organization linked to Florida’s Attorney General, she decided not to open a fraud investigation of Trump University that her office had been considering. Not quite the Federal Trade Commission, but a similar transaction.

To support his ambitions, Trump has also paid for, shall we say, fake news. His presidential campaign seems to have financed a lot of fictional dirt on Hillary.

Google doesn’t pay for fake news, but it does pay off academics to help sway public opinion and policymakers in its favor.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google has financed hundreds of professors at places like Harvard and Berkeley to write research papers that help Google defend itself against regulatory challenges of its market dominance. Google’s payments range from $5,000 to $400,000.

This research has been used by Google in courtrooms, regulatory hearings, and congressional hearings.

Some professors have allowed Google to see the papers before they’re published, enabling Google to give them “suggestions,” according to emails obtained by the Journal.

The professors’ research papers don’t disclose that Google sought them out, and don’t necessarily reveal Google’s backing.

I’m not suggesting their research has been faked. But the failure to fully disclose Google’s connection with it does raise questions about its objectivity.

Google and Trump are wildly different, of course, but they’ve been playing much the same game. They’ve used their clout to stifle criticism, paid members of Congress to pull their punches, and bought fake or at least questionable facts to support of their goals.

Whether it’s a giant left-leaning corporation or an unhinged alt-right president, the underlying problem is the same. It imperils our democracy and breeds distrust in our system. Such abuse of power is morally wrong.

Washington D.C. in 48 hours

From rooftop views of the White House to the best Indian food in the city, Garrett M. Graff, former editor of Washingtonian magazine, reveals how to spend 48 hours in the capital.


Day One

08:00 – Like a local

It’s hard to miss the power and grandeur of Washington, the centre of the city remains a political powerhouse and it permeates nearly every corner, but there’s also much more to the city than simply politics.

After landing at Washington Dulles International Airport and you’ve settled in, start your morning like the locals with coffee and breakfast at the Tryst Coffeehouse in funky Adams Morgan, before heading up to the National Zoo (Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, to give it its full name). It’s seen a dramatic renovation in recent years that has turned its 163 acres into a shining gem filled with great exhibits from elephants and pandas to American buffalo. Entry is free and it’s open 364 days a year.


Noon – Power lunch

Recharge with a casual pub-style lunch at Duke’s Grocery on 17th Street NW (have the Proper Burger) or indulge in the city’s best Indian food at the fine dining Rasika in Penn Quarter, where you might very well find yourself dining next to a Cabinet member. Don’t miss the palaak chaat – crispy flash-fried spinach – that’s one of the city’s most-requested dishes.


14:00 – Read all about it

Spend the afternoon at the Newseum, the towering interactive museum of news, where you can revisit the world’s most notable events, and lose yourself for hours watching old footage and breaking news coverage. The Washington D.C. Explorer pass offers a package admission to the Newseum and other top D.C. sights like the International Spy Museum.


17:00 – No reservations

Getting into many of Washington’s hottest restaurants has grown harder in recent years, with some of the most popular adopting no reservations policies that can lead to long lines. At Bad Saint, a 24-seat Filipino restaurant – named as the second best new restaurant in the USA by Bon Appetit magazine in 2016 – lines can begin as early as 17:30.

Not up for waiting? Plan ahead with a reservation at Tail Up Goat, a Michelin-starred restaurant featuring creative Mediterranean and Caribbean food by chef Jon Sybert – expand your drinking horizons at the bar by following the lead of sommelier Bill Jensen.


Day Two

08:00 – Morning rush

Breakfast at the Old Ebbitt Grill, one of the city’s oldest restaurants, usually packed with lobbyists and power players first thing in the morning before the tourist crowd sets in during the day. 


09:00 – Famous figures

Across the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery is best known for its stark and formal Changing of the Guard ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honouring America’s war dead, but the 600-acre cemetery is home also to the graves of many famous figures like John F. Kennedy – marked with an eternal flame ­­– boxer Joe Lewis, and Pierre L’Enfant, the architect who designed Washington. Save your feet and jump on the Hop-On, Hop-Off trolley.


Noon – Fit for a First Lady 

Lunch on the Georgetown waterfront at Fiola Mare, the glimmering Italian seafood restaurant of chef Fabio Trabocchi – a favourite of Michelle Obama.


13:30 – Remember them

Spend the afternoon wandering ‘America’s Front Lawn’ on the National Mall, starting at the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall, then up to the sunken World War II memorial, where you can see the emotional visits of buses filled with veterans, and gaze up at the Washington Monument. [NB the monument is closed until spring 2019 but can still be looked at].


14:30 – A history lesson

Nearby, take in Washington’s hottest new attraction, the giant National Museum of African-American History and Culture, honouring the artistic contributions of African-Americans while also wrestling with the nation’s still-unfolding racial legacy of slavery and civil rights. Plan ahead – or wake up early – to score timed-entry tickets, but it’s well worth the effort.


17:00 – Treats and eats

Spend the evening wandering the environs of 14th Street NW, which has been the centre of Washington’s revitalization over the last decade. Window-shop at the boutique Salt and Sundry, Detroit-made watches and leather goods at the city’s flagship Shinola store, or vintage and antiques at Miss Pixie’s, a long-time 14th Street fixture. 

Once you’re hungry, the area has something for every palate: for the city’s swankiest French bistro, try Le Diplomate, where the breadbasket alone is worth the visit. 

Prefer Latin American? Try Tico for its hibiscus margaritas, tacos, and a delicious shredded cabbage salad. Or, on nearby 17th Street NW, get in line for mouth-burning, authentic Thai food at Little Serow [NB Little Serow is shut for summer 2017, reopening 7 September] from one of Washington’s top chefs, Johnny Monis (if it’s a weeknight, be in line by 17:00 or 17:30 for dinner, if it’s a weekend, try even earlier). Once your name’s on the list, have a drink around the corner at Hank’s Oyster Bar while you wait. 


Where to stay 

W Washington D.C. – head up to the cocktail bar for presidential views down on the neighbouring White House.

Washington Hilton is home to many of the city’s black tie galas, including the star-studded spring White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Hilton Garden Inn is a new hotel in the city’s West End, you’ll be just around the corner from where former President Barack Obama has set up his new office.

Plan your Washington trip now


Words by Garrett M. Graff, former editor of Washingtonian magazine 

Photo by tpsdave on Pixabay

You may not be aware that Ballast Point Brewing Company, famed for its Sculpin IPA and fruity renditions of the same beer, was bought in 2015 for $1 billion by Constellation Brands, the company that owns Corona. Or that Lagunitas Brewing Company is now owned fully by Heineken or that Goose Island has since 2011 been a brand of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the global brewing giant that owns Budweiser.

These are just three of more than a dozen of the country’s most popular and beloved craft breweries that have been purchased by global beverage companies in the past seven years. Indeed, beer brands recently purchased by larger companies now almost dominate many supermarket or liquor store shelves.

It isn’t clear how many consumers know this is happening or whether they would care if they did. It also remains to be seen how these transactions will affect how the newly acquired brands taste.

But one thing is clear to craft beer brewers, lovers and lobbyists: They feel they’re under attack by what they bitterly call “Big Beer” or “Big Alcohol.”

Craft Beer, Brought To You By Big Beer

Photo: bauhaus1000/Getty Images

So who amongst us hasn’t

had to retroactively amend a federal foreign contacts disclosure statement several times because we kept forgetting the meeting we had with our brother-in-law, our dad’s one-time presidential campaign manager (and active Ukrainian lobbyist), a Russian lawyer claiming to represent the Russian government’s interest in helping our dad get incriminating or embarrassing information against our dad’s presidential opponent, and a long-time, if perhaps “retired,” Russian spy? A meeting where we signaled our “love” for the point of the meeting?

I mean, it could happen to anyone. Anyone at all.

I saw this image saying “if libraries weren’t already around book lobbyists would want to stop them and politicians would call them communist” that sounded too banksy to post but honestly? where’s the lie

i feel like this isnt brought up a lot but i believe a huge part in american resistance to climate change, beyond oil lobbyists and so forth, is because some christians view the whole thing as a question of faith. back in my mormon days, it wasn’t really explicitly stated by anyone but i always got the sense that christians didn’t see climate change as a big deal because of two core beliefs 1) they do not believe that humans are more in control of the earth than god and 2) they also believe that god wouldn’t just ‘let’ the earth become fucked up if god still had Work to be done here. i’m not sure if it really changes anything significantly to understand this POV but i think it helps explain why there is resistance to it despite the science, and it takes more than just raw data to supercede those deep beliefs