Just As I Thought

The Baath Party, American Style

Saddam Hussein’s ruling Baath Party infiltrated into every government post and it’s tendrils slowly but surely took over the nation. Sound familiar? I know, you’re thinking about the Fascists or the Communists, or those pesky Nazis. Wrong! It’s the insidious machinations of the vast right-wing conspiracy I speak of.
Their “K Street Project” aims to eliminate left-leaning lobbyists and keep money flowing to Republican candidates in exchange for continued preferential treatment for business and top bracket CEOs:

Nearly a decade after Republicans launched a campaign to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs in Washington, sometimes through intimidation and private threats, they are seizing a significant number of the most influential positions at trade associations and corporate government affairs offices — and reaping big financial rewards.

Partly because of the “K Street Project” — and partly because of GOP control of Congress and the presidency — virtually every major company or trade association looking for new top-level representation is hiring or seeking to hire a prominent Republican politician or staffer, according to Republicans and Democrats tracking the situation.

This year, General Electric, Comcast, Citigroup and many other Fortune 500 companies have hired Bush administration officials and former GOP congressional advisers for top lobbying posts. A Republican National Committee official recently told a group of GOP lobbyists that 33 of 36 top-level Washington positions he is monitoring went to Republicans, according to someone who attended the meeting.

The list of prominent organizations with Republican representatives could soon grow. The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association is looking to replace its retiring president, Thomas Wheeler — who has Democratic credentials — with conservative Rep. Charles “Chip” W. Pickering (R-Miss.).

Pickering has the backing of a group of two dozen GOP lobbyists. He would earn about $750,000 a year if he takes the job, according to people familiar with the situation.

$750,000 a year?! I think that if anyone has doubts about the buying and selling of government favors, that salary should put those doubts to rest.

This trend worries Democrats, who say it gives Republicans both an unfair legislative and fundraising advantage. Former representative Tony Coehlo (D-Calif.), who aggressively targeted business in Congress in the 1980s, said Republicans are “going too far” by pressuring companies to hire Republicans only and threatening retribution to those who disobey.

“They’ve put the fear of God in these businesses and few of them are able to withstand it,” Coehlo said. Indeed, several top officials at trade associations and corporate offices said privately that Republicans have created a culture in Washington in which companies fear hiring Democrats for top jobs, even if they are the most qualified.

Republicans have done this with a few, well-publicized warnings to companies they felt were too cozy with Democrats. The most famous and ominous warning came in 1998 from then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). The two leaders held up a vote on intellectual property legislation in protest of the Electronics Industry Association’s plan to hire a Democrat to run the group. The House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his tactics in the incident. It was a slap on the wrist by congressional ethics standards, and Republicans say that was a small price to pay for the fear it put in companies thinking about hiring a Democrat.

Add to this the Republican master plan to redistrict the country so that there will never again be a Democratic Congress, and you begin to see the parallels with other party machines in history. And most people don’t see what’s happening — just like in the past. Until it’s too late.

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