Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | March 28, 2013

WIllard’s Lobby

The Willard or otherwise known as the Lobbyist Hotel in Washington DC, has a long tradition of wielding influence…
Situated strategically right across from the White House, decked out  in colonial splendour, and being the best hotel in town – carries it’s own air of cognitive dissonance. Because here at the Willard – always under heavy security – reality seems to have been barred from intruding. And thus climate change is not ever to be discussed here as the threat to National Security it really is.
According to the legend du jour, in the Capital of the United States and specifically in the Government District — the term ‘lobbyist’ originated at the Willard Hotel when Ulysses S. Grant was the US President sometime between 1869-1877 during his two year term of duty.  Apparently President Grant would frequent the Willard Hotel to enjoy a snifter of brandy and a fat cigar in his boots – away from the cares of office and the demands of administration. And as this became somewhat of a pleasant habit of his evenings, word got out. When the news spread out that he was frequenting the lobby bar nightly — favour seekers started flocking. And while he was there, he’d be hounded by petitioners with petitions at hand, asking for legislative favours, land grants and government deals, federal jobs, and he was generally mobbed by businessmen seeking to sell him things. He was besieged so much that in order to escape long and dreaded conversations – he devised a system of “chits” to give as “promissory notes to buy” the various armaments, munitions, supplies and all the things the federal government needed to acquire in open commerce.  That way with a stroke of his pen in a small piece of paper, he was rid of the unwanted intruders, routing them to be dealt with through the official channels for their business – and thus observing the government’s fairness act for the procurement process. It is said that President Grant was quite annoyed by this and thus coined the term “Lobbyist” in referring to the business petitioners as “those damn lobbyists pestering me and not allowing me the peace of mind to enjoy my repass at the Willard’s comfy carpeted bar…”
Still almost a couple of centuries later – whenever, I stay at the Willard – I see all kinds of lobbyists maneuvering the floor and seeking favours in suit and tie – with petition/briefcase at hand.  It’s largely inescapable to dismiss them or their influence in today’s body politic of America because their incessant charade, now extends toward each and every office holder in Washington. Great or small. All publicly elected officials and bureaucrats receive daily visits from lobbyists for a very real reason. Treasure hunting. They all accept their campaign contributions, trinkets, silver or gold in as many forms as human treachery can colour. This is the nature of the beast called lobbying.
Yet in America lobbying has grown to an unprecedented extent today – not seen in Rome back in the day … to the peril of this great republic. As Caesar said: “When elections were bought, Democracy suffered. When the judges were bought, the populace suffered. When the army captains were bought, the security of the provinces suffered. But when the Senators were bought, Rome itself fell….”
Lobby doe just this. Buying and selling senators. And because of this, the very public affront to Democracy, has given pause to all efforts to halt Climate change in America — lest it disrupts their carbon intensive business model. And they have succeeded magnificently. Far more than what the President and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant could have ever foreseen. Because today, the hated lobbyists, not only disturb our repass but they threaten our very lives. Your LIFE. My Life. Everyone’s Life….
And this is our fault — because we have allowed the lobbyists and their 30 silver coins, to go unfettered about their deleterious business of corrupting our Democracy.
They go on daily, unfairly dealing, in buying and selling the Public’s consciousness, their votes, and that of their elected officials and civil servants alike.
And the results of their influence peddling is devastating. Because for the first time in it’s history the US intelligent lawmakers deny honest science. And this is not only unprecedented but dangerous in the extreme since they know better. Yet they pretend to deny and question scientific consensus because it conflicts with the interests of their funders, the fossil fuel industry. There is no greater depth to the conspiracy to deny reality. No smoky room, no secret societies, no cabals of men wanting to destroy the world. The error of their ways is just greed. And their need to raise enough “juice” to fight the next election cycle. It’s ultimately our fault for allowing public office elections to become a gladiatorial sport and a people’s bloody spectacle. Simple as that…
 In that fight to the bottom, we tend to forget reality. Yet this early in the year and our drought is already considered a Thousand year odd climatic occurrence. For example, the crops and livestock in Texas are equally decimated – victims of the incessant drought. New Mexico has got no water for agriculture. Most Kansas corn is stillborn. Colorado forests have been burned and the wildfires continue to spread. These occurrences have caused billions of dollars in damages over a few short weeks. Add to this the whole past year’s costs and you quickly see what the 30 pieces of silver strategically distributed by lobbyists around Washington have done to the Republic. Extreme storms like Katrina are now regular. Super freak storm Sandy hit New york and Jersey like an Armageddon. Towns and cities from coast to coast have experienced an alternating cold spell and extreme snow and then massive heat waves.  Farmers can’t compete for the meagre water resources available when they have to bid up against the oil and gas well frackers. And this was the hottest year on record still after breaking all records in the previous one. Meanwhile, the record high temperatures have caused the kinds of droughts that make crop pollination near impossible. One crop biologist recently described the current conditions thus:  “It’s like farming in Hell out there.”

And it’s not even summer yet…

These weather extremes can be squarely blamed on the shift in the climate triggered by human energy generating activities that produce CO2. Our unscientific habit of burning everything on sight for our energy and economic needs i catching up with us. Ghosts of Victorian air pollution in large cities are now a worldwide phenomenon polluting all of our atmosphere from pollution accumulated over many years… Anthropogenic global warming is what the scientists call the Greenhouse effect induced by our infantile desire of burning fossil fuels to procure our energy. And with the Congress and Senate of the United States virtually ignoring the Climate Change issues today, you can only imagine how much more difficult life will get for your tomorrows.

Last real effort at addressing this mammoth issue took place at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. Energy Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, and Rep. Edward Markey, co-sponsored and brought a bill for Climate Change legislation to Capitol Hill in Washington, on Monday, May 18, 2009. This was based upon reasonable proposals made by the Environmental Parliament amongst others and it  was worded as a new bill proposal for legislation on global warming, climate and energy strategy. Details of the plan are unimportant but suffice to say that it was a small reasonable baby step in the right direction.

And that was this country’s best opportunity to mitigate climate change. A gigantic opportunity to start doing the right thing…

Yet it was all for nought. The marvellous momentum of the CHANGE election and the New President acting boldly on Climate Change, was singularly wasted. The chance to do the right thing, came and went four years ago. This was right after President Barack Obama took office, with a friendly Democratic Senate and House of Representatives — and yet we screwed it up…

Why?

Let’s look at the Post Mortem, as we always do at EP when we analyze our performance: The American Clean Energy and Security Act (otherwise known as Waxman-Markey, after its sponsors) was debated in Congress thoroughly and although the lobbyists took out the bags of gold and spread their largesses amongst Congressmen, this little bill thundered through and passed the House of representatives with a slim margin of majority. Yet it passed. The fact that it managed to get this far was a miracle in itself.

And then the bill went on to the senate for debate.

Here is where the lobbying effort kicked in at high gear. The knives were out for all to see. This was a serious knife fight.  And the lobbyists bought any and all shreds of consciousness from the old men tasked to guard our Republic from the Barbarians. Thus the lobby succeeded to shred our Democracy and the  global warming, climate and energy strategy bill failed and died an ignoble death in the Senate floor.

That was the end of that… Yeah, the proposal lingered, on the corridors of the House until it was eventually abandoned as a bastard child given to an out of country orphanage for adoption. This was in July 2010. Since then, our elected officials have largely ignored the global warming caused by CO2 pollution, and the atmospheric heat-trapping gases, causing enormous disruptions across the planet and potentially rendering all life at peril of extinction. Because something else the good men and women of the United States government failed to debate was the fact that we are currently undergoing the Mass Extinction phase of species of animals and plants called the Anthropocene geological period. And as the old adage going from the era of the Nazi people hunts and forced extinctions: ” When they came for my neighbours, I did not protest and then, when they came to take me away — nobody was there to protest for me.”

Am afraid the same holds true for us because if we do not protect the other species fast disappearing today — nobody will be there to protect us from this ignoble destiny. No big deal… After all the cemeteries of species are full of the ignoramus, the unfit, the inflexible and those unable to adjust and change.

And here is the accounting tally for the deadly defeat: The 2009 bill saw lobbying efforts unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Environmental groups pushing for the legislation, including the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund, spent a record $24.6 million lobbying in 2009, employing nearly 500 lobbyists in their hefty effort.

But even that kind of cash was grossly outmatched by the oil and gas industry, which also had a record spending year in lobbying: $175 million and 807 lobbyists. No wonder the bill didn’t stand a chance.

No piece of legislation since Waxman-Markey has been anywhere near as comprehensive in lowering carbon emissions. And smaller efforts have been decimated by the oil and gas industry’s influence on Capitol Hill. Take a recent vote to end $24 billion in tax breaks for big oil companies. 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to block the bill. All told, the 51 senators in favor of ending subsidies had received a paltry $5.9 million in career contributions from oil and gas. The 47 who protected the subsidies got $23.5 million.

That kind of money could seduce even the sturdiest senator and turn them into lobbyist’s tarts or worse…

Whoring their vote has been an institution in DC since the lobbyists came around. Yes from the very beginning. Washington and Lincoln both protested the influence peddlers. But today it has really gotten horrid. For the US senators and Congressmen and women denying science to such an extent that dazzles the mind is not a sign of the times but rather indicative of the fact, the Barbarians are inside the gates. And their name is “Joey Lobby – money blowy.” The amount of wealth the Oil, Coal and Gas lobbyists lavish on the elected officials is such that even former republican representatives blush. And it’s difficult to get a politician to blush when faced with the true form of their errant ways…

And lobbying today has taken many new faces. Most all of them not registered officially as lobbying organizations as the law demands. As an example, of this unregistered and largely illegal lobbying masquerading as something else, we have Rep. Bob Inglis (R-Va.) announcing a new initiative “urging conservatives to stop denying that humans are contributing to global warming.” And a related timely post on the conservative Republican’s website revealed that the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has supposedly been “secretly” meeting with environmental activist groups to discuss a carbon tax to address climate change and deficit reduction. Conspiracy theorists – please start your engines now…

It appears like progress but such a conservative-progressive alignment would be excellent news, if it were for real and if not for the AEI’s historically excellent record of denying science, denying climate change, and consequently denying the current American people’s reality.

Yet the AEI  didn’t stop there, in their illegal lobby activities — because it is a very strong lobby organization unafraid of giving people money for erroneous and fake research. Same as their brethren plying the halls of Capitol Hill with dripping purses full of silver. AEI offered the $ 10K grant to any comers, one and all — according to the Washington Post newspaper of record — back in 2007 and continues unabated to day. So if you need some extra cash for a new bathroom, general home remodeling,a garage, or a new gas guzzling jalopy — do call on the AEI which still offers $10,000 per head no question asked. That’s $10 K  cash and many other perks and additional monies in grants, and expenses, to brazen scientists willing to lie, cheat, and teal in order to distort the scientific evidence of global warming. All this to derail the scientific consensus. Hurry up though … Go get yours, while the getting is good and the game is easy to discredit the new IPCC report coming up now.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the AEI had received $1.6 million from Exxon-Mobil, for the 29 members of its staff that had once worked for the Bush administration, and that periodically the Chair and vice-chairman of its board of trustees was a former Exxon-Mobil chief.  From 2007 when the IPCC fourth assessment on Climate Change came out, till today 2013 when the fifth assessment is expected at the end of the year – plenty of Quisling scientists have benefited from Exxon-Mobile’s largesse, via the AEI’s silver coin purse. And now the game is on high gear again, with the AEI spotting money on all the crazy pseudo-scientists claiming global warming is caused by Cosmic rays. Superman and all his posse of comic book heroes is not far behind either…

Talk about culture — Methinks it’s time to let the clowns in…

By the way, the fifth IPCC Climate Change assessment report (In draft form AR5)  – by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which is not due to be published in full until September 2013, was uploaded onto a website called Stop Green Suicide by obscure climate sceptic Alec Rawls, and it has since been mirrored everywhere else on the internet. Easy to find – look for AR5 – to see for yourself where we stand precariously as a species…

This precarious existence and the resultant National Security Threats are further exacerbated by the unregistered lobbying machine of AEI, masquerading as a think-tank while wreaking havoc on real science. Because AEI, has been receiving huge capital infusions as donations from Big Oil companies and polluters in order to carry out it’s mission to disrupt the scientific consensus and misinform the American public by spreading the seeds of discord and doubt. Same as the big tobacco lobby was doing for fifty years — trashing available medical science about smoking harm — up until their practices were exposed and had to retreat under their rock along with their PR machine’s lobbyists.

And now they have resurfaced, because the same Public Relations firms are using their old playbook and are causing the same grave damage – now on behalf of Big Oil, Gas and Coal. Recycling their old tricks seem sustainable to them. Well played boys – well played…

So that’s the Willard lobby’s finest hour.

Now you know.

That’s where they are cooking the facts and the books for you with their 30 pieces of silver — ill gotten from selling you expensive petrol. Petrol financed by a couple of useless wars to get more access to easy & cheap oil. Oil, that you have already paid for twice… if not three times through taxes. subsidies, profiteering, and war costs.

And thus they have us all stitched up…

Yet it’s good to remember that some scores of years ago in another Republic – that of ancient Rome – Caesar at a young age had realized that money was the key to Roman politics and influence as the system had long been corrupted. And when he was firmly ensconced in power, he felt free to push for reforms and thus clearly stated that his practice of buying political favour has grave consequences for the Republic, and it will open the door to the end of it’s Democracy. Of course the Roman Republic was not a perfect Democracy — far from it — as Julius Caesar also observed. To explain things, he is often credited with the saying: “Fortune turned against us and brought confusion to all we did. Greed destroyed honour, honesty and every other virtue, and taught men to be arrogant and cruel, to neglect the gods. Ambition made men false. Rome changed. A government which had once surpassed all others in justice and excellence now became cruel and unbearable.”
And today it’s not the “paid for and bought” influence that’s deadliest to our politics and National Security. Today it’s the appearance of influence. This last week alone was revealed that more than $ 30 Million US dollars were given by lobbyists to Senators who voted to built the vastly damaging Canadian Tar Sand pipeline across America. Thirty million silver dollars for them to act like modern day Judas and betray the American public… If this is not corruption and  debauchery, then we all live in Paradise. Yet it’ a small investment when is compared with the $ 1,9 Trillion US Dollars that were given to the Big Oil ad the Fossil Fuel industry worldwide in subsidies, with the largest giver of this largesse being the US government. If this is not Tit for Tat politics, then it must be divine benevolence toward the Oil majors who have been showing record profits consistently over the last fifteen years. Why the need for additional subsidies to the tune of the size of GDP of France is beyond me…
This was reported by the Washington Post, that verified the figure of One point nine trillion Us dollars [ $1,9 Trillion US ] given as subsidies to the worldwide fossil fuel industry in 2011 and it continue unabated since. An industry dominated by the five major American and transnational Oil companies and their ilk that exhibit record profits in the midst of a worldwide recession, and still receive subsidies almost the size of the Gross Domestic Product of France — the world’s sixth largest economy — each and every year. It’s a bloody disgrace and a monopoly support scheme for perpetuating corruption and lack of competition.
Instead – f we were members of an intelligent species – we would follow the correct policy which would have been to allow all fuels regardless of origin to compete freely on a level Darwinian playing field. Only that way we would determine the best and thus allow the fittest fuel to flourish in the market place. In that landscape the renewable energy fuels would win hands down now that solar ha achieved Grid Parity worldwide.
Because with that amount of dough — almost Two Trillion US Dollars — there is enough juice to incentivize the scale up of renewable energies worldwide and liberate us all from Climate hurt…
So that’s what the Lobby money buys… at the Willard Hotel. A retrograde future.
And we can debate endlessly about the First Amendment interpretations and the real power of Lobbying and the super PACs, buying influence and flooding Congress and Senate races with oil-dollars, all we’d like. But Climate Change is a case where public opinion, on its own, should be the decisive factor of the course we should follow, because the public in true wisdom of crowds fashion, has already determined the best course to follow. And that course does not include Tar Sands Oil.
The new civil rights movement that was spawn on the back of this issue, highlights the dangers to our National Security from this dirtiest of fuels. People know these threats are all too real and are willing to lay their lives on the line in order to fight against the Tar Sands pipelines. Now that’s Leadership. No need for sugar-coating this TRUTH.
And coming in the heels of so many disasters hitting America all at once, the costs are mounting for the tax payer and for the Republic to the point that cannot be explained away as accounting rounding errors in our pursuit of cheap energy. We’ve got gas for that…
So my suggestion to the elected officials of the United State is to observe timidity and reason, lest the public loses faith in our Democracy.
Because if a loss of faith on this pivotal issue for the American public becomes wide and deep enough, the question of whether or not we are right to lose faith becomes academic.
The loss is destructive either way…
Just ask Rome.

Yours,

Pano

PS:

Of course lobbying takes its name a bit earlier, from the lobbies or hallways of the English Parliament — well before Ulysses Grant came around. Lobby is where MPs of the House of Parliament and the peers of the House of Lords, gather before and after their debates in the Commons and Lords chambers respectively – in old England.

And the term lobbyist, has been in use since the 16th century if not earlier — but the Willard hotel lobby story, coupled with General Grant, is far more true of it’s destructive powers. Because only here in America can the “lobby” produce such dire corrupting results for the Republic, and in turn for humanity — as denial of science and their wanton willingness to sacrifice all Life for short term profit.

And given the way the lobbying influence industry works – a heady mix of campaign donations, lobbying expenditures, manipulated think tanks, and deep and complex personal relationships – unless we all stand together in protest or cut way back on our own, individual energy gluttony, big oil looks like it will continue to increase profits with the help of Washington, at the expense of our pocket, our wellbeing, and our children’s blood.

Never mind the fate of the human species, and all the other species cohabiting this planet’s present and future.


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