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Transparency Now! Says former lobbyist

All I know about lobbying I learned from the movie “The American President.” (During which I determined that Mrs. Spocko was more attractive than Annette Bening.)

By Spocko

The movie shows everything people think they know about lobbying: getting the vote count right, educating congress people, making deals, trade offs and pay offs with different groups in exchange for current or future votes, the unusual bed fellows (literally) and finally dealing with the expectations of, and exposure in, the media.

I saw that movie three times, so clearly I’m an expert on what the lobbyists will do next following this current vote on TPP.

Luckily I have some friends who actually were lobbyists and I talk and listen to them to see what really goes on. I wanted to know what they did after a failure and what they think the pro-TPP people will do next.

But first, what do WE do after success? One of my least favorite phrases after a victory or semi-victory is, “Now the hard work begins.” Screw you Negative Nelly! Bite me Pragmatic Patrick! Piss off Realist Rick!

I say, “Give the fighters a pat on the back! Give ’em a raise. Take a bow people who worked so hard to educate!”

Then everyone should hug the helpers and friends. Smile and laugh and drink and tell funny stories. We MUST enjoy and celebrate victories. In the past I didn’t. Post victory I went right into the next project with no down time. Big mistake. My body knew better and usually I’d get the flu.

So now’s the time to look at what worked, what didn’t. What did we do right? What could we do differently next time? How do we build on success? Can we create future barriers for the opposition? What barriers to our success can we bring down now for next time?

I wanted to know, “What do my lobbyists friends do after a losing campaign?”

They regroup. Take a break. Yes they lost, but they still got paid. They explain to the client how this is really a victory. They explain how it sets the stage for the next campaign. They tell the story of how this loss is really an opportunity to change things for success next time, based on what was learned. They just need more money to make it happen.

They determine what the landscape looks like now, then start again.

As we saw from the net neutrality fights, when the people close a door the lobbyists open a window. The second they fail on one front they cry,

“And we would have won too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”

Then they look for new ways to win.

We can wait around to see what they will do next, or we can ask former lobbyists, ‘What are they going to do next? What can we do to tie them up now? How can we thwart their future plans? What would YOU suggest? Why would it work? Why is nobody doing this? How would they respond?”
So, taking a page from the actual lobbyists vs. the movie ones, I would like to suggest a specific long-term action to take now.

We need a transparency mechanism for international agreements. Time to set up a bill that would have bi-partisian support on this. Prepare a message for each side based on their biases.

For the right:

With the TPP Obama was going to secretly give away the sovereignty of the UNITED STATES to foreign countries and to un-elected tribunals!!

Let’s never let a President have that kind of power again (esp. if Clinton wins). That power needs to remain in congress (which we will control). Congress needs to know what is going on, especially when it comes to deals with foreign powers (who either want to pay us or kill us.) Why did those horrible hackers at WikiLeaks know something our own Congresspeople didn’t?”

For the left:

“The ability of multi-national corporations to hide deals from the government needs to stop, especially when they kill jobs, destroy the environment and taint our food. (Things voters care about)

As a nation we can push for deals that are beneficial for Americans. If the deals are so great, why don’t the corporations want the public knowing? (Companies are really afraid of pissed off consumers, not bought off congresspeople. This bill forces transparency which gives them have no choice but to protect voters.)”

I say transparency because it’s an obvious issue, but I really think the bill should contain more, with transparency just one part of it.

None of the billionaires and their Pet Presidential candidates want transparency, but the people like it. We can ask all the candidates if they are for it (“You won’t be like Clinton and her emails will you?!”) then watch as their lead billionaires tell them to walk back all that transparency stuff.

Maybe get Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson and some Clinton hating presidential candidate to put together a transparency bill. One written my our former lobbyists’ friends to make current lobbyists crazy.

It would be a short term tactical move that could capitalize on the temporary bi-partisan agreement. The left congress people are angry at being locked out of the text, the right’s afraid of the future dictator’s secret FEMA camp contracts. It would provide some long term help for the America people against the concentrated power of the billionaires and their need for secrecy.

I’m not in the beltway loop (Ha! Beltloop!) so maybe this in already in the works, or it was suggested and shot down for a million reasons that a stupid non-insider wouldn’t understand. That is when I throw down the gauntlet to the insiders and ask. “Okay, you are wiser than a tree full of owls, what CAN we do to make some transparency happen?”

Personally I would get Annette Bening to help push a lobbying/trade transparency bill through. Then when I meet her, I’d tell her that I’ve always thought that Mrs. Spocko was prettier than her. But maybe that would be rude.

Frankly I’m tired of being the dirty hippie whom, after the fact, everyone says was right, but during the time when it would have made a difference nobody acts to do the right thing or the strategic thing.

So if pushing for new levels of transparency is the right thing to do, what would it take to make it happen? And if someone is already doing it, what can we do to help?

Now I’m off to watch the beltway’s favorite film starring Annette Bening, The Grifters.

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  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    I realized that this was a pretty lame headline. 🙁 So I tweeted this. Time to thwart the Pro-TPP lobbyists. let’s make it harder for them to hide. With a transparency bill.

    I also didn’t name the former lobbyists that I spoke with, which makes people think, “Who was it?” or “Who cares?” Pretty much a double fail in my headline.

    I like the Transparency Now! Because it reminded me of “Serenity Now!” which was shouted by Jerry Steller as George’s dad on Seinfeld.

    So many fun lines in this piece and I blew the headline. Sorry.
    In the past I would adjust the headlines as I went along as I came up with better ones. I can’t do that now here at FDL. 🙁 Oh well. Next time I’ll spend more time on the headlines before I submit.

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    Spocko you’re back! Great!

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    Change change! I had to finesse things as well during the changeover. It actually works better now.

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    Thanks!

  • Alice X

    You have set the bar pretty low here.

  • Rational

    How about a simple law that any one ( and remember according to thie Supreme Court Corporations are people) who has been convicted of, or has accepted paying a settlement for criminal activities within the last 10 years cannot participiate or have any involvement in any international negotiations nor any one representing such individuals. Nor any trade group that has even 1 criminial organization as a member.
    Any involvement kills the deal automatically.
    This includes any financial, environmental, labor, state or municipial codes.
    This would eliminaite almost all of the major banks and insurance companies. Not to mention places like Boeing and Rockwell who have been cited for fraud, insurance companies are out. Pharma is out.

    A side point is that if corporations are “people” shouldn’t the 3 strikes laws apply to them? Can’t put corporations in jail but one can strip them of their business charter and license to do business.

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    Stripping them of their business charter is something that should be considered.

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    That’s too “Rational”!

    How can you justify sensible actions?

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    OT: I see that the poster says CTUTTLE but you are the actual poster. What gives? CT and spocko the same?

  • Alice X

    Not to say that they are not the same but something written by one is posted by another all the time.

    Spocko wrote it. CT posted it.

  • mulp

    Well, progressives are lobbying, too.

    Progressives are lobbying to prevent Republican jib killing trade deals from being replaced with Democratic negotiated trade deals that promote increased US exports to offset the overwhelming trade deficits.

    Clearly progressives want TPP to be negotiated by Scott Walker seeking to use trade to further destroy unions.

    At least that’s what I see happening.

    Trade deals are not negotiated by Americans with Americans. A President Sanders would not be negotiating his TPP with Speaker Beehner and Leader McConnell. He would instead be forced to negotiate with representatives of 11 other nations. To change the current trade deals, a President Sanders would be required to negotiate with the trade representatives of about a hundred nations to ram changes through over the objections of the other third.

    No one is calling for the US to exit trade agreements and create trade barriers to block the import of bananas, consumer electronics like iPhones, computers, TVs, radios, half the generic drugs used, the lower cost medical devices, and most important the 30% of oil used in the US.

    To be a progressive is to be stuck in one place, clinging desperately to the present, or perhaps a past that never exited. Or perhaps it is living in a fantasy world where a few million progressives are smarter and morally superior to the remaining 7 billion people of the world.

    The progressives are lobbying hard for the same things I hear from Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers: a mythical past with no possible way to get there.

  • joel

    Hey Spocko, IMO you are a national treasure… you never give up…. always thinking strategically….trying to anticipate the others guys next move…..however, oh geeze there is always a however, you bug me a little with that annette bening kind of thing. What is it for? If it’s amusing I don’t get it and I’m a male. I doubt many women find it amusing either. Does it add or detract from your serious and important message?

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    The root for progressives is progress. Progress and Truth have one thing in common. One cannot know either unassailably. One can only point in the direction.

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    Oops. Meant for mulp.

  • http://www.hudechrome.com Lawrence Hudetz

    See below.

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    Thanks. The Annette Bening thing was in there as a way to acknowledge the ridiculousness of how the very serious people think they know how the world works, and that if you aren’t part of it you can’t be allowed to comment.
    It’s the “What are your credentials?” Kind of comment that the villagers throw at the bloggers all the time.

    I’m getting in my lack of qualifications early to deposition their. argument

    Also, it’s a true story. That makes the whole lobbying Story Personal

  • Rational

    Is there a jurisdiction that would allow citizens to move a 3 strikes prosecution against a corporation ( the 3 strikes would include environmental laws as well) without having to count on a governmental prosecutor?
    Be classic if this could be used against Duke energy or the pipeline company in California that trashed the beaches.
    Maybe a state that was affected by the BP disaster, or Halliburton.

  • joel

    Movie refs are lost on me, I think the last one I saw was ‘the music man’ …..now there was a con man I could get behind, thinking of con men how about this Francis, head of one of the all time great setups….looks like next week he is going to set fire to the climate deniers…I might have to reup for his church. Con is not always a bad thing.

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    If you really want to look into this do a search on when corporate charters we dissolved in the past, where they where and why. They map backwards to find a player who could fit the same bill.

    You might be surprised what you find. Sometimes the thing we want to bust them for they are fine with, but the things they actually get busted for are things that piss off shareholders. Misuse of corporate funds, failure to explain why they we not maximizing profit. Hassle fraud that hurt the boards reputation, not necessarily the people. Rich people do not take kindly to being ripped off. They have leverage and they will punish people who hurt them.
    If. You look for a company that has leadership that screws the stockholders (who also screw the people) you have a better case of getting an dissolution of the Corp charter. The good news is that you would have a powerful group of pissed off people on your side.

    Find the target, that meets the criteria in the state you want, then get in front of the parade as a test case. Soon everyone will start trying to do it.

    This could be a case where the heavy legal living would be done by rival lawyers and you use the media pulpit to discuss 3 strikes laws and the Corp death sentence. Things that lawyers don’t want to talk about, but you can.

  • Rational

    When I mentioned fraud I was thinking in terms of corporations defrauding the Gov. to maximise profits. Defense contractors are infamous for this and they are always brushed away as mere “technical violations” unworthy of enforcement.

    That or environmental laws that are seen as not really laws.

    I would think that finding a jurisdiction that allows this sort of citizen prosecuation would be the first step.
    Of course if a part of the military complex were threatened the pentagon would big foot any action with a national security claim.

    I do not have the legal background or ability to pursue this. It would probably be a lifetime case out of Dickens if it was started.
    I am curious if this has ever been explored before and what the results would have been.
    I cannot imagine any corporation involving themselves in this sort of case. The risk of blowback by their corporate brotherhood would be just too great.

  • Alice X

    605, give or take a few, corporate insiders who have been allowed access to the TPP.

    You can note that the list does not include any of the US Congress.

    TPP Corporate Insiders

    http://www.flushthetpp.org/tpp-corporate-insiders/

  • http://firedoglake.com/ CTuttle

    You’ll like the post I’ve got on tap later today, Alice…! Sadly, I’m headed to work shortly and can’t participate until late tonite…!

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    Hi what you are talking about is a qui Tam case and they can do exact what you want. The best part is that if you win you get 15 percent of the savings/fine. A friend was in a law firm that did this.
    If you work in a company that is defrauding the government you can make money and do the right thing.

    The fraud that I’m talking about is sort of the same, but you team with the injured shareholders instead of the feds.
    It’s not for everyone, but I encourage people to look into it as a way to drive change and get more than pocket change in the end.

  • joel

    Spocko, As I implied I admire you very much for what you do and I want you to be perfect.

    Wanting to be polite about it I failed to actually say what bugged me which was what seemed to me a gratuitous rating of women’s looks, comparing them. It’s a cultural obsession I know and it’s everywhere, and it sells hair and cosmetic products. (and it costs them a lot of money, walk down those aisles in the supermarket sometime.) It’s another thing that women have to deal with that we don’t. It’s just not fair to make a big deal out of appearance if we don’t have to.

  • http://www.spockosbrain.com spocko

    Thanks. I appreciate the Comment. The funny thing is that the “prettier than Annette Bening” is an inside story that I included for Mrs. Spocko who know that looks are not the whole picture. The character played by Bening is super smart, principled, funny and also attractive. In a way that makes people think she is just a pretty face. She is not. Mrs. Spocko is also all those things. I feel like the most fortunate guy in the world that we clicked and are still together. Without her support most of my Spocko work could never have happened.

    So the post was a bit of a love letter to her.
    When we went to Net Roots Nation I introduced her and it was fun for me to introduce her to people who admire me, because to her you are all invisible friends on the internet.

    I’ve been a strong feminist since 8th grade. At the Vulcan Academy I was on a committee pushing for women’s rights.

    But your comment reminds me that not everyone lives in my head and know where I am coming from. So thank you.

    When I was talking about how I developed the Spocko Method to defund RW radio and TV I found that it was very important that the people on my side understand what I was doing and saying. And if they didn’t get it, the burden was on me to explain it better.

    That is why when I’m developing ideas or suggesting programs I like to engage with people. I learn a lot when I listen and ask questions.

    Often times I find out that my great idea has been tried and failed, or someone else said it better and I should help them. The same is true with this transparency issue. I just heard from someone who put together a petition to make trade deals transparent. When I do more research I might find an “official group” that does the same.

    I have some ideas on how to make it work using my understanding of the world, but someone else might have a better idea. Like Public Citizen. Or Crew.

    The Internet makes a lot of things possible, but it still takes understanding of how things actually work vs the way we think they work in the fantasy world.

    One of the things I know is that when you start pushing for something like transparency and start making progress the powers that be on your side start to explain all the problems. Then, if you actually hit a nerve, the lawyers and experts, come out to explain why it’s not possible.

    The status quo is fine with being challenged when it looks like some silly blogger is doing it. You are a gnat to them. But if it looked like you actually could get something going people will fall all over themselves to stop and mock you then block you and expose you.

    So the underestimate you, they ignore you, then if it’s working they attack you.

    It is scary stuff, especially when you get in the way of their money. That is another reason for the silliness.
    It’s easy to l “ignore the silly Vulcan blogger” until 33 major ponsors stop advertising.

    They look around for the real brains of the operation, never assuming it is some goofy blogger who likes SF.

    I might not be the best person to lead a transparency charge because people will ask, “Who are You?” but in a way that is the point. If you know who is behind something you see it differently.

    But I do think that pushing on this issue is important, for another reason. We are often on the defensive, I like being on the offensive, because you can set the frame.

    Their might be good reasons these deals were kept from the general public, but their is Not a good reason they were kept from all members of Congress.

    Thanks for engaging me, on this topic. As you can see I had some pent up talking to do. 🙂

  • joel

    Thanks, Spocko,

    And our exchange reminds me that when something seems out of character there usually is an explanation and the thing to do is to amiably inquire if there is one.
    “Amiably”, nice word, still learning how to do it.

    Also reminds me how we often get to hear merely a topic sentence or phrase with the paragraph remaining unspoken until an interest is expressed.

  • Rational

    I was thinking more along the line of finding a jurisdiction that allows “citizen Prosecution” ( Private Prosecution ?) and waiting until a corporation registers a plea agreement for some wrong doing and then drop the hammer on the 3 strikes law.
    The underlining issue of wrong doing has already been adjudicaited all that needs to be done is that the court be made aware that this is/ was the 3rd strike and move for penalties as dictated by a 3 strikes law in that jurisdiction.
    much like how some people have been ensnared by plreading out a misdeamenour just to find out that they are in for life because of forgotten offenses. Or immagrants pleading out and paying fine for petty offenses just to find out that they are to be deported after the plea is registered.
    Saves effort. Guilt is already settled all that needs to be done is to get a court to say that since a corporation is a “person” the laws do apply to it. Or even if the court states that for the purpose of the 3 strikes law a corporation is not an “person”
    Resolve that conundrum Supreme Court

  • karenjj2

    “605 corps allowed access”. Nah! the 3 T CONTRACTS are written by the corps and for the corps granting corps sovereignty over Nations. The NAFTA CONTRACT granted equality to nations. The 3 Ts elevate Corps above nations.