By Christopher R Rice
Two main career paths are prevalent among politicians in modern democracies: there are career politicians (i.e., politicians who work in the political sector until retirement), and political careers (i.e., there are politicians who leave politics before retirement and work in the private sector).
Of our 100 US Senators, only about 10 have a business background. Of those Senators with any business experience, on average, they have been in office longer than they were in business.
There are 36 senators who have been in elected office for more than 30 years. No wonder our economy is stagnant, businesses are struggling, and our country’s finances are in disarray.
We all know who is to blame for the terrible results from Washington. Career politicians created the economic and debt crisis we are in right now. That’s why the approval rating of Congress is 10%, the lowest it’s been in the 70 years that Gallop has tracked their rating. Yet, we re-elect the same people 92% of the time.
So why aren’t they held accountable? They have rigged the system in their favor. Too much of the money raised by the incumbent politicians in this race came from DC lobbyists, PACs, and special interests. That’s the sign of a system run amok. And that advantage keeps good people from outside the political establishment from running for office.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been the Democrat leader for the past seventeen years. It turns out Pelosi is among the richest in Congress, having as much as $202 million in 2014.
Remember when Pelosi promised to restore integrity to Washington? Pelosi pledged to “drain the swamp of corruption in Congress.”
Paul Pelosi, Nancy’s husband, is an “ultra-wealthy real estate investor and venture capitalist who has been an active investor in large companies that have been impacted by his wife’s regulations.
Her nephew, Laurence Pelosi, was involved in a ring of shady business deals between the real estate developer Lennar, the city of San Francisco, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), and Morgan Stanley.
Laurence Pelosi was a senior executive at Lennar when his cousin for whom he had served as campaign treasurer, Mayor Gavin Newsom, signed an agreement with Lennar to develop the Hunters Point Shipyard.
While Laurence Pelosi served as its senior executive, Lennar also developed and sold $2 billion worth of property to the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). After the value of the property plummeted, the state brought in Morgan Stanley, who Pelosi had gone to work for, to review and advise on the land deals.
In 2007 Morgan Stanley would purchase thousands of properties from Lennar, including those in California which Laurence Pelosi had developed, for 40 percent of their original cost.
Morgan Stanley was the 19th biggest contributor to Nancy Pelosi’s campaign committee and received $10 billion in the TARP bailout, which the congresswoman voted in favor of.
And now, Pelosi is in hot water again, because of her response to the sexual harassment allegations against John Conyers.
Conyers, who first won election to the House in 1964, has been accused by multiple former staffers of sexual harassment.
New York Democrat Kathleen Rice ripped Pelosi’s response and declared that it “set women back decades.”
“Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York said Pelosi’s appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday — when she raised questions about the accounts of Conyers’ accusers and described the Michigan Democrat as an “icon” — ceded the party’s moral high ground on sexual harassment issues, especially because one of Conyers’ accusers is bound by a nondisclosure agreement.
“I think that her comments on Sunday set women back and — quite frankly, our party back — decades,” said Rice, who is advocating for legislation that would expose a slew of hidden, taxpayer-funded settlements for sexual harassment by lawmakers and aides.
New documents uncovered by Judicial Watch suggest House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been treating the Air Force like her own personal airline. This discovery has led to a barrage of news coverage.
We obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They include internal Pentagon email correspondence detailing attempts by Pentagon staff struggling to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker’s 11th hour cancellations and changes. (You can read them in full by clicking here.)
In 2007, the speaker was hammered in the press for requesting a 42-seat Air Force carrier to ferry her and her staff back and forth between San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC.
A new report from the Washington Free Beacon indicates that Pelosi is thought to have enriched herself and her husband, Paul, through her efforts to “steer taxpayer funds” to a San Francisco-area light rail project.
Pelosi’s support for the project caused local real estate prices to escalate such that a large parcel of land owned by “high-dollar Democratic donor” Marc Benioff’s company may have received a huge profit upon selling it to the Golden State Warriors. Pelosi’s husband is also a significant investor in the company.
The report says that “liberal billionaire hedge fund manager” Tom Steyer may also have been further enriched through Pelosi’s efforts to provide federal subsidies to the project.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s husband bought up to a quarter million dollars of stock in SunEdison, a now financially troubled green energy company just weeks before it announced a major 2014 acquisition that sent its stock price soaring. SunE’s 2014 purchase of wind energy company First Wind “further bolstered the reputation of the company,” wrote one market-watcher at the time. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, SunEdison’s stock soared 29% on news of this acquisition alone.”
Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, had invested just in time. He bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in SunEdison stock on Oct. 24, 2014, according to congressional financial disclosures. The company announced its First Wind acquisition on Nov. 17.
Pelosi has previously been accused of trading stock based on information gleaned through her official duties. A law passed in the wake of that controversy prohibits members of Congress from using nonpublic information for personal gain. Language in that measure was informally dubbed the ‘Pelosi Provision.’
Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.
The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader’s brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.
PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.
One of SolarReserve’s major financial backers is the PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East), whose second-in-command is Ronald Pelosi, the brother of the House Minority leader’s husband, Paul. Another investor is Argonaut Private Equity, a company that lost heavily in the Solyndra debacle.
And the conservative Weekly Standard wrote, “It’s increasingly hard to tell the government’s green jobs subsidies apart from the Democrats’ friends and family rewards program.”
Ronald Pelosi, 76, is a member of one of California’s most powerful Democratic families. He is a former president of both the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Planning Commission as well as sitting on many other boards in the Bay City. His nephew Gavin Newsom is currently the Lieutenant Governor of California.
The VA scandal has erupted into an enormous political liability
Pelosi cited a report indicating the services provided to veterans of the war on terror will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars in coming decades and wondered aloud why those costs weren’t considered as Congress green-lighted the war in Iraq.
“Maybe, when we go into war, we should be thinking about its consequences and its ramifications,” she said. “You would think that would be a given. But maybe it wasn’t.”
THE COLD HARD REALITY
By Chris Ryan
Once upon a time, politics was about service. People who felt profoundly impacted by their communities showed that impact by getting involved and trying to make things happen. In between making a living and supporting their families, these men and women felt obligated to help out in their communities, and later to represent their communities in the hallowed halls of Congress. It was a hobby, a calling, rather than a sought-out career. It was an inevitable extension of their involvement with their community.
Now people run for office in cities they barely know, and they get in, because they run TV ads that tell stories people want to hear. These TV ads are financed in part by corporate donors, to whom these people sell their Congressional votes. Their “communities” consist of the people who pay them, rather than the people whose district or state they represent.
Passion for the community and passion for the culture is the substance of true leadership. Why is it that when we look at our politicians on the television and read what they have to say, we see a remarkable lack of passion for the communities of people they espouse to represent? Passion is not without its difficulties – passionate people tend to run into opposition, particularly from other passionate people. That’s the world the founding fathers of the United States lived in – a world in which legitimate passions collided in government. That’s why they invented the democratic system that they did, in which conflicting passions can be most effectively channeled into action to help the nation as a whole.
But what kind of person becomes a politician today? I would argue that cowardice, not passion, is the main character quality in the career politician. Everybody in government is terrified of rocking the boat. As a result, the boat is being steered by lobbyists, bankers, corporate executives, and anyone with money to pay. These people, only interested in lining their own pockets with gold, have little care for the pain of average Americans. Americans are being hurt by career politicians’ cowardice and inability to take a sincere stand on behalf of the communities they supposedly represent.
The Democrats are so terrified of being on the wrong side of an issue and losing electability that they fail to take any side. The Republicans are so terrified of not having enough campaign money to be re-elected that they take the side of whoever is going to finance their barrage of advertisements. Meanwhile, the American people are going bankrupt because of hospital bills, the country is borrowing grossly beyond its means, and Social Security and Medicare are set to collapse within ten years!
The third element of this triad, which consists of the cowardly politician too terrified of making waves and losing re-election and the corporate lobbyist seeking unfettered profits at the expense of American health and financial stability, is the media professional whose salary is paid by the corporate lobbyists, whose job is to misdirect the American people from the grave injustices committed upon them by ultra-wealthy business and banks, through the cowardice of their elected officials. From the holy altar of your TV, these media professionals tell you that politicians have good intentions, that corporate entities are great because they provide you with fast food and cheap gas, and that U.S. Democracy is the best system of government in the world. They convince you that voting is your civic duty and that Democrats and Republicans are more different than they are similar.
They support the cowardly career politicians who are nothing but mouthpieces for corporations whose only interest is in their own profits. Education? Not important. Environmental issues? Counter-productive. Combating racism, sexism, poverty? A waste of money. The arts? Don’t make me laugh. Health reform? Only if it makes them more money, likely through mandatory, private, expensive health care. War? Hell yes! More war, more war, it’s great for the oil companies and great for the arms dealers! Deregulating banks? That’s what they’re talking about!
What happened to this country? What passions drive the people who supposedly run it? Don’t be fooled by their campaign speeches. They poll their audience then say what the polls show they ought to say.
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