“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

smash the revolving door - another demand for the OWS crowd!

The Democratic party is supposedly divided between a rightwing faction and a liberal faction. In reality, the Democratic party, like the GOP, is in thrall to the revolving door faction. The revolving door Dems found their emblem and hero in Peter Orszag, the Obama advisor who, going from strength to strength, helped plan Obama’s “pivot” to the issue of the deficit before launching a career for himself in the financial world that Obama’s Treasury and Obama’s appointee to the head of the Federal Reserve so amply supported with 16 trillion dollars in loans over the last three years.

Orszag, though, is easy pickings, an amoral DLC-er who pathetically wowed the kids hired to fluff for Obama in the press – people like Ezra Klein – because he had that shark vibe and was reportedly good with the babes – wow! How neat! It is hard to take the likes of him seriously, given the likes of those who take him seriously.

The revolving door is a term that helps us understand the government/corporation complex as one big building. It involves SEC enforcers who go on to become Goldman Sachs shills, and then sometimes even go back to the SEC, where they become ever more valuable by diverting or blocking enforcement until they go out again. It involves Congressmen, Senators, and their aids, who go from legislating energy policy to shilling for Nukes. The revolving door zone is the shadow government that operates much like shadow finance – it is where all the disgusting bits are stuffed. You as the voter want the Public Option, and vote for the candidate who promises it? Tom Daschle, as the big Pharma lobbyists, tweaks your desire and out comes – crap mandatory private insurance accounts for the middle class!

The on and on goes on and on, we can rock this way to the break of dawn…

So lets examine a bit of the career of Rob Cogorno, a true poster boy of the Obama era. As his peppy bio tells us at the Elmerdorf/Ryan site:

“With experience at the center of the major public policy fights in Congress over the last fifteen years, Rob Cogorno brings an unparalleled expertise in the legislative process to Elmendorf | Ryan. In particular, Cogorno offers clients a singular understanding of the complex dynam- ics in the House of Representatives and the House Democratic Caucus that ultimately shape legislative decisions for the two parties on both sides of the Capitol.”

Bringing experience – how delightful! What is this entity to which he has brought his experience in ‘shaping legislative decisions”?

Here’s a little hint, from a Reuters story:

“Expert network firm Gerson Lehrman Group has hired a Washington lobby firm with close ties to the Democratic party as it braces for fallout from a U.S. insider trading investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Gerson Lehrman, the largest of a group of firms that specialize in matching hedge funds with industry consultants, began interviewing lobbying firms a few weeks ago and selected Elmendorf Ryan in the past few days, said these people, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to disclose the information to the media.
The hiring of Elmendorf Ryan comes as federal prosecutors in New York have charged at least eight people associated with a rival expert network firm with giving confidential corporate information to traders and analysts with hedge funds.
The unfolding investigation has caused some hedge funds to scale back their use of expert network firms.”
The strong ties with the Democratic party are the result of the firms close association with some of the sterling losers of the past twenty years. You remember the clueless opposition that, during the Bush years, proved that the worm doesn’t necessarily turn? This is where they ended up! The firm is headed by Dick Gephardt’s former top aid, Steven Elmendorf. And as you’d suspect, Rob Cogorno also used to work for Gephardt. You see, times have changed since old soldier’s fade away – now they fade into fat jobs with lobbying firms, and so do retired or defeated Congressmen. Congress is now something like a prep school for the real money –a fact well known to all Congressmen and their staffers. Thus, even before you make the leap for the revolving door, you want to show that you are a player. This is the ‘experience’ you can bring to K street.

Interestingly, while campaign finance reform has a strong claque among editors, who love to opine about it partly because it is a freebie – nothing is ever going to get done, as everybody knows – the revolving door culture is never discussed in terms of ‘reform’. So in 2008, the Politico could put in this announcement about Rob Cogorno and everybody in the know politely applauded:

“Cogorno joins Elmendorf
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) has shuffled his staff a lot lately, starting with Rob Cogorno.
Most recently, Cogorno was the floor director to Hoyer in both his majority leader and Democratic whip offices, until Cogorno recently joined Elmendorf Strategies.
Prior to working with Hoyer, Cogorno was the research director and appropriations policy adviser to then-House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.), where he developed floor strategy for the consideration of all appropriations bills and was Gephardt’s chief liaison to the House Appropriations Committee.
“As a counselor to House Democratic Leaders Steny Hoyer and Dick Gephardt, Rob has been at the center of every major public policy fight in Congress over the last 15 years,” said Steve Elmendorf, founder and president of the firm. “Rob brings an unparalleled expertise in legislative process to Elmendorf Strategies, offering our clients a singular understanding of the complex dynamics in the House of Representatives and the House Democratic caucus. Those dynamics ultimately shape legislative decisions for the two parties on both sides of the Capitol.”
Elmendorf’s prose here has all the charm of the smell of a nasty aftershave lotion clinging to a cheap suit. More interesting is the fact that such parasites on the Republic can strut their stuff as though this were normal business. It isn’t. It can be changed. There is no way the ‘singular understanding’ of a Rob Cogorno should be used to help Gerson Lehrman skate around an investigation. We would be up in arms if suspected bank robbers were able to make donations to the Judge Retirement Fund before trial, but we let such stinky business transpire in the supposed halls of power. Our halls of power. We shouldn’t. No top aid should be able to work for a lobbying firm for a goodly period of time – say five years – after he leaves the aid business. And for Congress folk, the period should be longer – ten years at least. Election to public office shouldn’t be a preface to gorging on the gravy train.

Let's pour rat poison in the gravy train. And if that means we can't get 'qualified' people to advise us on legislative policy - if that means the plutocrats don't have their clawprints all over the legislation meant to rein them in - all the better. .

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