' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for March 8, 2014    
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the column of lasting insignificance: March 29, 2014
by John Wilcock

Despite what the registration forms say, Wall Street doesn’t seem to think the lobbying industry is drying up. The profits from the influence industry have aroused the interest of deep-pocketed investors. As a result, the boutique firms and partnerships that made up America’s lobbying industry for the last two centuries are giving way to multi-million dollar conglomerates.”
—Lee Fang in the Nation

IT’S MUCH, MUCH WORSE than you had possibly imagined—the way that the criminal $million lobbyists have taken over the manipulation and traducing of our government. Criminal? Yes, because the law mandates that lobbyists be registered and more than three quarters of them are not.
    Last year the official number of registered lobbyists dipped to 12,281, although the actual number is said to be closer to 100,000. These are the figures offered by the American Bar Association’s James Thurber who estimates that the industry brings in more than nine billion dollars a year. There’s a loophole, of course, in fact several, the main one being that if they spend less than one full day a week making “lobbying contacts” they needn’t register. Any good conman can bribe a pol in less than one day every week. So these greedy douchebags describe their influence-peddling as “government relations” while retitling their lobby league as the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Many of them are former pols who’ve tripled their salaries by switching sides, but none are short of cash for kickbacks: “Apple’s former vp Catherine Novelli earned over $7.5m last year while helping the company deal with congressional inquiries about its alleged tax-dodging strategies, without registering as a lobbyist” writes the Nation’s Lee Fang. “Enforcement authority ultimately lies with the United States Attorney’s Office for Washington, DC”, he writes, quoting a deputy chief of that office to whom he spoke. “To the best of his knowledge, even though Congress added criminal penalties for failing to disclose lobbying activities, there has not been one single case of criminal enforcement of the law”.
    Identified for special mention in the Nation’s eight-page exposure is former Senate majority leader and (unregistered) lobbyist Tom Daschle whose evasions are so notorious they are known as the “Daschle Loophole”. Describing himself as a “policy adviser” to a range of corporate interests, his law firm, DLA Piper, took note of that tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh which killed more than 1,100 employees. In short order, says the mag, the firm “unveiled a plan to allow American retailers to skirt responsibility for future garment-factory disasters”.

TAKING THEIR RIVALRY right to the groin, the English have long referred to a condom as a French letter, whereas to the French it’s known as un capote anglais. And, not surprisingly, there are hundreds of slang terms for the popular rubber: Jimmy, love glove and Willie hat; dick sock and salami sling. Back in the era of our 43rd president, a Chinese company introduced a kelitum and a laiwensiji for which users didn’t need translations. And now the humble joy bag is making news again with the introduction of graphene and polyurethane, among the strongest and thinnest materials ever discovered and of obvious interest to the Gates Foundation which has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the search for the ideal condom that can cut the transmission of venereal diseases in Third-World countries. An estimated 15 billion condoms are used each year, too many of which says the Economist “are awkward passion-killers that have disturbing tendency to pop off at inconvenient moments”.

“Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me and I had no compassion for myself. Though why such a task should have fallen to me, I have no idea. Maybe writing protected me against even worse menace”.
—Philip Roth interviewed by Daniel Sandstrom in Svenska Dagbladet

NOT EVERYBODY HAS heard of thorium, a silvery metal first discovered almost two centuries ago, but there’s plenty of it around. Huge amounts exist in Norway, India, China, Australia, Turkey, even the U.S., and most of these countries have set up new research projects concentrating on the metal’s ability to substitute for uranium whose disadvantages have become increasingly accepted. Thorium (named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder) is ‘safer’ than uranium whose energy-producing content is similar because it can’t transfer into the plutonium which is the basis for nuclear technology. With this advantage you’d think that it might have emerged before but in the Cold War days, the world was locked into nuclear research and the prospect of meltdowns and undisposable piles of nuclear waste weren’t considered.

THE FOX TV NETWORK is about to get its first major competition, but surprisingly it will come not from the Left but the Right. Christopher Ruddy says “he doesn’t need to beat Fox News, he just needs to shave off a little of its audience” says Bloomberg Businessweek “particularly those Conservatives who feel Fox has drifted too far to the right”. Ruddy’s company, Newsmax Media, already publishes a monthly magazine (circ: 230,000) and a group of newsletters devoted to finance and health, and plans to begin its cable TV news operation in June, broadcasting nine hours each day out of Boca Raton. Ruddy, 49, complains that today’s Republican party “is always fighting for corporate interests and not the mainstream” and his ambitions are modest. “If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience, and they are making $1bn a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable”.

THE WINE SPECTATOR featured a chart claiming to identify voters from what they drink: Grey Goose, Absolut, Moet & Chandon, Jose Cuervo, Charles Shaw (among 30 others) for Democrats; Makers Mark, Jack Daniels, Kendall-Jackson, Bacardi, Seagram’s VO (among 30 others) for Republicans.

INSTEAD OF RUNNING to the bottom of the page, the New York Times’ ends its printed copy about one and half inches short, i.e. thus leaving a blank space on every page measuring 1 ½" deep by 12" wide, a total of 18 inches per page. As there are an average of 40 pages in each paper that means 40x18 inches for each copy, i.e. 720 inches of blank white space unused every day. Multiply this by roughly 750,000 papers and you’ll see that there would be room in every issue for many millions of words more or, alternatively, 750 inches of space in every copy that could be sold for ads or donated to good causes.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Instead of moving along and accepting a fait accompli, the US seems determined to vilify and “punish” Russia’s bullying dictator for his invasion as if we don’t do the same thing. Here’s what John Kerry recently told NBC: “You just don’t invade another country on a phony pretext in order to assert your interests, This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century.” Iraq and Afghanistan, anybody?.....Grasping Time Warner Cable is so greedy it took away from subscribers the Arts Channel, which is not only the best thing on television but is provided to them free by its generous sponsors….Twenty years from now, when Israel and Palestine have long been the same single country, we’ll look back and ponder why this inevitable solution was delayed for so many lifetimes ….The Chinese are snapping up French wineries at such a rate that they were reported to own more than 60 chateaux by the beginning of this year….And wine is increasingly being packaged differently: one Oregon company is selling it in lined, pull-tab cans and California’s Truett-Hurst winery is peddling its Chardonnay in sturdy ‘bottles’ made from recycled cardboard weighing less than a quarter of the standard glass container....As you can see from this panel in London’s Private Eye, Piers Morgan is also heartily

Piers Morgan handgun joke

disliked in England….. ….Couldn’t Mick Jagger’s millions have solved some of the crushingly suicidal financial problems of his pretentiously-named girl friend during their 12-year relationship?.....All serving politicians should be obliged to answer a single question: Is there anything or anyone for which you would vote if the NRA opposed it?......“The arbitrary imposition of what amounts to martial law is both arrogant and discourteous” comments the Weekly Standard about the daily motorcades imposed by the Secret Service closing Washington’s streets, sometimes “to entertain fat cats at a posh hotel.” ….. A Russian-owned ship, the Baltika, went into action in the Gulf of Finland, built to cut through ice two feet thick by ramming it sideways…. ….Sponsoring a Champagne Chair Contest, the furniture company Design Within Reach received 700 entries when it asked for miniature chairs made with nothing more than foil, label, cage and cork from two champagne bottles (two entries, below) ……How do you recognize

Tiny Champagne Chairs

a Kerry pirate? He’s got a patch over each eye…..“One thing that (Edward) Snowden has taught us journalists” muses Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, “is that it’s essential to be paranoid”. …. With more than nine billion deliveries being made last year, the shipping business in China is rife with competition, but US companies such as FedEx and UPS complain their license renewals are being unfairly withheld…..“Nike and its rivals simply created a (running) footwear market where there wasn’t one” writes Richard Askwith in the Independent on Sunday. “Now they’re ruthlessly exploiting it—and us”…..“It is always the season for the old to learn.”—Aeschylus (525-456 BC)


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