“Cockroaches are a pretty good reason to call the exterminator but voters might be even more concerned if their homes were infested with members of Congress: Cockroaches 45 Congress 43”
Here are the names of two people you probably never heard of: Jim Manley and Mark Lyttle.
The worlds of these two men are a universe apart. The void between their worlds is filled with the dark matter of political influence in Washington–blood money, revolving doors, and the self-interest of career politicians. That invisible political astrophysics is what defeated the public’s desire for comprehensive background checks in the Senate last week, is defeating public health and safety measures to reduce gun violence in Washington today, and will continue to thwart the will of the vast majority of Americans for a safer country tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Unless you get up, stand up, and do something about it, like the hundreds of Americans rallying today in Washington to shame the NRA’s lobbyists.
Mark Lyttle is the subject of a frightening article by William Finnegan in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. Lyttle is an American citizen who was arrested for a misdemeanor in North Carolina. From there–in a horrendously Kafkaesque series of arrogant mistakes and flawed decisions by nameless, faceless, and demonstrably incompetent bureaucrats–Lyttle was thrown into the unrelenting machinery of the American Homeland-Security-Industrial-Complex. He was expelled from the United States and repeatedly arrested by Department of Homeland Security operatives.
Like Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Lyttle fell through the cracks of the vastly flawed system of piously fearful pork upon which we, the taxpayers of America, have lavished at least $1.3 TRILLION since the horrible events of September 11, 2001. Trillions for “homeland security,” but not one cent for keeping children safe from gun violence!
How can this be? How can it be that the Congress of the United States can allow–indeed, encourage–waste and incompetence on such a scale for such a Byzantine structure, and yet not protect small children and the rest of us from the far greater danger of gun violence?
Enter Jim Manley, a long time aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, career Senate staffer, now turned lobbyist. Manley made the unfortunate decision to be interviewed by the brilliant John Oliver for The Daily Show on politics and guns. He fairly made an ass of himself, but in the process revealed precisely the problem. Asked what makes a politician “successful,” Manley unblinkingly answered, “Getting reelected by his or her constituents.”
Not saving lives, but getting reelected.
Manley got the classic, patented John Oliver reaction to incredibly dumb statements. As the light dawned on his smugly placid face, he began to squirm with a deer-in-the-headlights look. Gosh, if only he could have rewound the tape and started over! But see the whole revealing bit for yourself here.
So, who is this inadvertently revealing guy, Jim Manley? Here’s his official bio from QCA, the oh-so-cleverly named “public affairs” (Washington doublespeak for House of Lobbyists and Piano Players) firm for which he now works:
Jim most recently served as the senior communications advisor and spokesman for the Senate Majority Leader, where he spent six years at the nexus of communications, politics and policy for every issue facing the Senate. As a strategist, he worked with the White House and the leadership in the House of Representatives to set the Democratic tone for legislative initiatives. As the Leader’s top spokesman, he dealt extensively with the national and regional media on a daily basis to advance the Democratic agenda. He is a regarded as a top Democratic strategist in Washington and continues to serve as a trusted resource for many of the nation’s top reporters.
What neither Manley nor The Daily Show revealed about this “top Democratic strategist” and “trusted source” is that among his firm’s clients is the investment management company BlackRock. New York City’s Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio recently named BlackRock as one of the Dirty Dozen investors in the gun industry. In fact, BlackRock, with $342 million of its investors’ money invested in the killing machine business, tops de Blasio’s money manager dirty investor list.
In truth, there is nothing remarkable about Jim Manley and his pedestrian, let’s-all-go-along-to-get-reelected “strategical thinking.” He’s just another of the thousands of Capitol Hill staffers who rotate between high-paying Congressional jobs to cash in with even higher paying jobs whoring–oops, I meant “lobbying”–for one or another plutocratic or just plain evil special interest in Washington. They are only following their bosses’ example. As The New York Times‘ inimitable Gail Collins recently noted:
Members of Congress regularly glom onto high-paying jobs in the private sector, none of which involve the use of their skills in computer technology. The Center for Responsive Politics counts 373 former House and Senate members who are currently working as lobbyists.
Former Congressman Steve Buyer (what a deliciously appropriate name, and no wonder he pronounces it as if it were spelled “boy-er”!), for example, went to work flacking for the tobacco industry, the only other industry in town that even comes close to the murderous, blood-soaked, unconscionable greed of the gun industry and its lackey, the NRA.
The NRA, of course, has been throwing its money around Washington with an abandoned passion since the Moloch’s slaughter of precious, innocent, beautiful children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Not that the NRA and the gun industry need that much help with brilliant “strategists” like Jim Manley and the Third Way’s Jim Kessler advocating preemptive surrender on the gun control front. Still, every little bit helps when your business is death machines in a society of people who mostly want to live.
Among the hired guns the NRA has bought with the gun industry’s blood money is Michael E. Williams, a director in the firm of Greenberg, Taurig, another House of Piano Players in the Washington lobbying game. If Williams’ name sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because he was reported to be linked to convicted felon Jack Abramoff’s “Dream Team” of hucksters and specialists in the subornation of Congress. Here’s Williams’ official bio, which brags conspicuously about his skill at “derailing” gun control legislation, meaning the will of the American people:
Michael Williams focuses his practice on coalition building and integrating legislative, regulatory, grass tops, grass roots and public relations strategies on behalf of his clients to affect positive legislative and regulatory outcomes. Michael’s 25 years of experience on Capitol Hill has allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the interaction of policy issues and politics, as well as a wide-ranging bipartisan network of contacts within all areas of the federal government including Members of Congress, Congressional staff, the Administration and various governmental agencies.
Michael is a member of the Greenberg Political Contribution Committee which reviews and approves contributions and political activities of the Greenberg Traurig Political Action Committee. He also serves as a government affairs team representative to the Greenberg Traurig Commitment to Excellence Committee (CTE). The CTE works to ensure that the firm preserves and enhances the core values crucial to our brand: integrity, quality, service and accountability.
Prior to joining the firm in 2001, Michael Williams was a Senior Lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), the number one rated Association lobbyist team for 2001, according to Fortune magazine. For more than 11 years, as a Federal liaison for the NRA, he promoted legislative and political objectives on Capitol Hill. Michael was one of the major architects of the NRA legislative strategy to derail the 1997-1998 Clinton Gun Control legislation.
These inside ball, dark-of-the-moon, smoke-filled room operators are the mere tip of a rotting mound of corrupt influence in Washington. For more information, go here.
These people have no shame. And, by the way, there should be no place to hide for those who hire them. All of their clients are gun violence enablers, linked to the NRA and the gun industry in a frothing chain of blood money.
But who lobbies for the children of Newtown and the rest of us?