L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


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Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 21, 2011 7:01AM

One More Lobbyist Running Amok

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“Today's Republican Party may revere Reagan as the patron saint of low taxation. But the party of Reagan – which understood that higher taxes on the rich are sometimes required to cure ruinous deficits – is dead and gone. Instead, the modern  Ronald Reagan (Public Domain)GOP has undergone a radical transformation, reorganizing itself around a grotesque proposition: that the wealthy should grow wealthier still, whatever the consequences for the rest of us.”
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

Americans who actually listen to the empty words spewed by politicians, in this case of the Republican variety, often hear the name of Ronald Reagan invoked as the grand poobah of anti-taxation conservatism.  For many of the GOP faithful, that’s all they need to hear to feel all warm and fuzzy about the state of the nation as soon as their guys and gals “take their country back.”

Other Americans, like me, pay very little attention to what is being said by either side, mainly because no one is saying anything particularly coherent.   We are numbed by the failure of rhetoric and party-line catch phrases to move us out of the deep muck we slipped into in 2008.

Sunday morning, however, the spectre of another critical deadline in Washington got my attention, and for the first time I can recall, I actually listened to Candy Crowley interview members of the Deficit Super Committee.  That’s when the name Grover Norquist penetrated my political brain fog for the first time.  This is the guy who convinced 279  Republican members of Congress to sign a pledge written by his lobbying front organization, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR.) Norquist was the subject of Sunday's 60 Minutes lead story.

photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr 

Grover Norquist by Gage Skidmore from Flkr

Grover Norquist

The ATR web site describes The Pledge as follows:

In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. While ATR has the role of promoting and monitoring the Pledge, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is actually made to a candidate's constituents, who are entitled to know where candidates stand before sending them to the capitol. Since the Pledge is a prerequisite for many voters, it is considered binding as long as an individual holds the office for which he or she signed the Pledge.
Read more: http://www.atr.org/taxpayer-protection-pledge#ixzz1eGPKi4Rb

Norquist claims he was asked by Reagan himself to form ATR in 1986.  Apparently, there is no term limit on that pledge, no opportunity for renewal or  a decision NOT to renew.  The Huffington Post reported on November 9, 2011 that a growing number of House members want out of that pledge, but Norquist refuses to remove their names from the published list of signers.

In the meantime, Norquist’s pledge keeps coming up as a major reason the Super Committee cannot reach an agreement.

 [The players:  Sens.Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.).]

“The difficulty we find is that every one of these discussions, Grover Norquist seems to be in the room,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters last week. “I am hopeful that the Republicans on the super committee will break away from this.”

The idea that one man, not an elected official, but a powerful Washington lobbyist, can effectively bring the nation to the brink of yet another failure to do the jobs for which they were elected, is frightening to me.  Even Republicans who believe it is time to take a look at forcing the rich to pay a more reasonable share of taxes are finding it impossible to circumvent the pledge they might have signed several campaign cycles ago, because “the voters don’t want any tax increases.”

I think it’s time for us who see things differently to pay more attention to what the other side is saying and doing.  I may be one of the few who, until now, was unaware of the name Grover Norquist or his organization, but I doubt it.  If you need a concrete reason for my concern, see the chart below from the November 24, 2011 edition of Rolling Stone:


400 Richest Income vs Tax chart

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Lezlie, I heard the interview with Dickinson yesterday on NPR. Some powerful research he's one. I do believe the cat is now out of the bag. Thanks for this summary. And congrats on the EP!
Glad I can actually get on OS now.

This is a great post. Betcha Jonathan wishes he caught this one.
Kosh: OS seems to have had the flu! Yeah, it's kind of hard to scoop Jonathan. :D
Your opening quote sums it up nicely. But he forgot to add "We're all screwed." Because I don't see these folks getting a clue as to the long-term consequences of their actions any time soon. It seems their interest is in re-election and godbothering and not much else.
And here I thought Grover was a blue fuzzy muppet...
He's a shill for the uber-rich, a sociopathic mendacious policy promoter hell bent on breaking down government until it is small enough he has said to drown in the bathtub.
I saw the Sixty Minutes interview. AWRGH. Congratulations on your EP. Great post.
I watch political news so I've been hearing Grover's name for a while. I don't understand his strangle hold. Hopefully there is an intrepid reporter that is going to blow this story wide open before the next election. It has to be money. But how can 1 guy be charismatic enough to control all of the money in the world? Simple, he can't. So it has to be our politicians being greedy for money.

I guess they don't understand that they would be respected more for admitting a mistake publicly and telling us they want off of the list, they are removing their name, even if Grover won't erase it.
Great post, Lezlie. Congrats on the EP. -R-
Bell: I have no idea what their interests are, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t the welfare of this country’s people.

Linnnn: lol

alsoknownas: I saw that quote when I was researching this post. Unbelievable.

Bamy: AWRGH is right!

phyllis45: It is only a matter of time before ol’ Grover gets knocked down a peg or two.

Christine: Thanks.
Your only flaw is that you apparently think that this kind of Republican is willing to learn and is capable of it...they are immune to it.
It's a ridiculous pledge and while some who sign are true believers, others are just too afraid their careers will end by refusing it. Although running on a platform of tax hikes is perilous (just ask Mondale), the Dems will eventually have to bite that bullet. They've already been putting the issue in terms of letting tax cuts expire, so maybe that's one way around it. That small government-low tax ideology is more like religious dogma than anything else.
Norquist is a tool. I once saw his humorous ass on the Colbert Report and he seemed to have no idea was Colbert was mocking him.

Congress beholden to a lobbyist. That's the story of America 2011. Somebody should remind them that their only pledge is to honor and defend the Constitution.
I meant "humorless" ass.
Lezlie this is excellent. It is just like Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man.
I also saw the 60 Minutes interview, and I've never seen a more pompous, self-righteous ass in my life. He never stopped smirking. Who died and elected him God? Personally, I think that any member of Congress who signed it should be impeached for putting a pledge to a lobbyist before his oath to the Constitution and his constituents.
I've heard about Norquist and his pledge AND his wish to drown the Federal Government in a bathtub.

He is one of the few people on Earth whom I would enjoy drowing in that same bathtub instead.

Failing that, I think fierce public scorn criticism and villification of Norquist and all who toe his line is years overdue. Let him learn to fear the 99% percent!

Like Cranky Cuss and NobleExperiment, we wonder at elected officials who put their promise to a lobbyist above their loyalty to the Constitution and the people who elected them. Maybe someone can start a meme like the one Sergeant Pepper-Spray of UC Davis fame has circulating on Facebook?
Nice EP I guess Reaganomics will always be talked about. Good one.
Good one Lezlie. Maybe it is time to put up a fence around D.C. and sprinkle some idiot dust on them. An upgrade to idiot would be an improvement for most of them.
I don't get the inability to simply say: Yeah, well, we signed that and now we've changed our minds. Also, was it in blood or something? Why would they care? What this really means is that WE HAVE TO GET THOSE (pardon my language) COCKSUCKERS OUT OF OFFICE. Then, after that, no one will be there on his little (and I'm sure 'it's' little) list.

We have to make it so uncomfortable to be on this list, all the congresspeople can't tell the difference between being on that list and having hemorrhoids.
Wasn't Norquist part of that Council for National Policy group that was somehow involved in that group from C Street? Dominionism and such? David Coe and the prayer breakfasts and secret cabal of right wing elites who wanted to rule the world?
I saw him on "60 Minutes" and it was all I could do to keep myself from reaching into the tv set and strangling that self-satisfied ideologue.
Wasn't the Tim Dickinson article great!! Recommended reading for everyone. Norquist is a buffoon, but a dangerous one. His no-tax pledge is the canoe the entire Republican leadership is riding in, and it's heading toward the falls.
Norquist was interviewed on 60 Minutes. Such a smug demogogue. He actually seemed gleeful about the prospect of ruining the country. It is important to remember, though, that he is not the most evil person in America. He is the front man for the most evil people.

There does seem to be a growing uneasiness within the Republican ranks. A few Republicans have renounced the pledge saying it was written in and for a different time. An David Frum, Conservative columnist has stated that the GOP has lost it's mind.R
Lezlie, you and I watch the same shows. I have no idea what that guy was talking about because I am dumb when it comes to what lobbying entails or how or why that guy was powerful. As I watched I just thought that he was a smug and clueless bastard. He struck me as so many lawyers have-- never admit you are wrong, win at all costs etc. Disgusting guy.
LSD: “This kind of Republican” is an enemy of the nation, whether the rest of us know it or not.

Abrawang: Well put. And dogma creates mindless automatons.

Cranky: I knew what you meant. Nothing is more delicious than when Colbert skewers a guest and the guest thinks he’s getting over.

NobleExperiments: Didn’t he remind you of some kind of reptile?

Shiral: I predict some modern-day Woodward and Bernstein will soon blow the lid off Grover’s empire.

Seer: I should have run like the wind as soon as my ex told me his dream job was to be a Washington lobbyist.

Algis: Talked about and misrepresented, I guess.

bobbot: I love that imagery, even if figurative.

odetteroulette: You are too funny! I am in complete agreement.

Mother: Yep, that would be him. From what I understand, a Big Business marionette.

Frank: I had the same impulse.

Steve: It WAS great!

Rodney: The uneasiness your noticing is the realization that the base of the GOP has lost control over the party, I believe. It might be too late.

fernsy: … and under no circumstances worry about the collateral damage!
Grover obviously got beat up on the playground a lot as a kid. And we are all paying for it now.
Come the revolution, I suspect Grover and Karl Rove will be at the head of the "let 'em eat cakes" line awaiting the guillotine. I've been aware of this pompous, greedy trust-fund, asswipe for some time. Here's my take, if you have time:

Grovering Government
no one is saying anything particularly coherent.

Couldn't have said it better myself. You are right though. Much as I hate (yes hate) listening to conservation dribble, I have recently begun forcing myself to do so. Keep your enemy closer.... right? Well done. Well said. Really well written.
Chicago: I’d like to beat him up now; go a little South Side on his stupid behind. :D

Tom: Excellent piece you wrote before my joining OS. Thanks for the new term: grovering.

Dawn: I’ve always believed that. Otherwise, they sneak up on you like this clown did me. Thanks.
Thanks for this, L. Really informative! I was aware of Norquist and the ATR, but not that some Republicans want off the pledge list and he refuses to honor their request. It's infuriating that this guy effectively is holding elected officials hostage, and denying them freedom of speech to boot.
They tend to forget their oath of office and focus on this instead. Norquist is a domestic terrorist.
I'm sorry I missed this. Excellent work and congrats on the EP~~