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WHO? BidenWatch for October 19, 2020. “Hunter Biden revelations continue to explode, Kazakhstan joins China and Ukraine in the Biden Payola Sweepstakes, inside Biden’s Malarkey Factory, and the revolving door between social media giants and Team Biden.”

REVOLVING DOOR REVOLVES: MSNBC and NBC News hire Lisa Page as a legal analyst.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): This is as if the press had hired G. Gordon Liddy to do color commentary on Watergate.

REVOLVING DOOR BETWEEN BIG TECH AND BIG GOVERNMENT: Apple Policy Exec Cynthia Hogan Departs Company.

Apple’s vice president for public policy and government affairs, Cynthia Hogan, has resigned from the company, reports Axios. Hogan will be leaving Apple next month after recently being selected as one of the members of Joe Biden’s vice presidential selection committee.

Hogan joined Apple back in April 2016 to head its Washington D.C. office under Apple’s environmental, policy, and social initiatives chief Lisa Jackson.

Prior to joining Apple, Hogan was a top lobbyist for the National Football League, and before that, she served as Joe Biden’s counsel when he was Vice President of the United States under President Barack Obama.

Hogan’s now-former boss at Apple, Lisa Jackson, was Obama’s EPA chief.

THE COCOANUT GROVE FIRE: On this day in 1942, in Boston Massachusetts, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire killed 492 Thanksgiving weekend revelers. Yes, that’s four hundred and ninety-two.

Nightclub fires with horrific death counts have occurred throughout the world, but I am aware of none worse than the Cocoanut Grove fire. The only usable street exit was a revolving door. The crowd quickly pressed up against that door so no one could escape. Some of those who did escape the fast-moving flames somehow climbed up onto the roof and jumped down on parked cars. Others escaped through kitchen windows and doors.

I wish I could report to you a few hero stories. As Instapundit readers may have noticed, I like hero stories. But as one survivor put it, “… I looked back at the dance floor. People were fighting to get out of the club. Pandemonium is the only word I can think of, and I must say the scene did no credit to the male sex.” (Ah … the 1940s, when masculinity was still measured the old-fashioned way.)

I did find one apparently unverified story, and there are likely others that I missed (or, sadly, that everyone missed because the individuals involved didn’t live to tell the story):

Joseph Lawrence Ford, a second-class petty officer in the Navy, stationed at Portsmouth, N.H., said he entered the burning building by breaking a window and jumping inside. He added: “I crawled along on my hands and knees and then I bumped into five forms. All were moaning and some were twisting around on the floor, clawing at their throats.”

An AP reporter wrote that Ford reported that he rescued three women and two men.  (Note that the fact that the story is unverified does not mean it isn’t true.  It’s not so easy to verify this kind of thing.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for something to be thankful for, you can start with being thankful you weren’t at the Cocoanut Grove fire.  And for those of you (like me) who have never had your mettle tested in a sudden emergency, be thankful for that too.

UPDATE:  A reader supplies us with more hero stories:

From “The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II” by Robert J. Cressman:

November 28, Sat.

United States

“Cocoanut Grove” nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts, catches fire;
Ensigns George W. Carlson and Mac A. Cason, SC-V(P), USNR, driving
through the city at that hour, respond immediately when they see flames
issuing from the burning building. Exhibiting courage, leadership and
resourcefulness, these two Supply Corps officers, who organize rescue
parties from enlisted men they see in the gathering crowd, are later
deemed “the cause of saving more lives than any other single agency.”
Despite rescuers’ efforts, however, 492 people perish in the tragedy.

In the military, officers of all services and specialties are supposed to show initiative and lead. Enlisted personnel are suppose to intelligently respond to orders and work as a team to carry out the mission.

John Nisley, USN (Ret.), 1974-1994

Well done, Ensigns Carlson and Cason and CPO Ford.

FIREWORKS: Fox News Host Accuses Marie Harf of Ukraine Cover-Up.

Before her Fox News gig, Marie Harf served as director of Strategic Communications to Secretary of State John Kerry. She also worked for a bit as Acting Spokesperson and Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department. She got her start as a CIA analyst on the Middle East, before getting involved in Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection effort. A fully-fledged member of the Revolving Door Community, Harf turned her low-responsibility duties as a bureaucrat and campaign official into a sweet-paying media gig. If anyone knows how the system really works, it’s a beneficiary of it like Harf.

And if the phrase “deep state” suddenly popped into your brain, well, it did into mine, too.

Read the whole thing, if you don’t mind me saying so myself.


The media and the left (but I repeat myself) have spent the past three years ridiculing the concept of the “Deep State” and those who subscribe to its existence. We have been told it’s a crazy right-wing conspiracy theory to believe that some public servants, mostly in the fields of intelligence, law enforcement and diplomacy, might cooperate in informal cabals to pursue their preferred policies regardless of who is in power and to protect their fiefdoms from oversight, interference and the executive, legislative and judicial control. To wonder whether some influential people in the federal bureaucracy, connected through a revolving door with the progressive establishment, might have contemplated preventing the election of their bete noire and his removal from office once their initial efforts proved unsuccessful invited accusation of delusion and paranoia.

This narrative is now officially old and busted. The new and hot one: the Deep State exists and it’s good. . . .

The problem is that for all the left’s constant drumbeat the last three years about “this corrupt and corrupting administration”, Trump’s “excesses”, the “war on science, expertise and facts”, collusion, treason, and so on, the sound and fury signify pretty much nothing. There are no smoking guns, or even non-smoking guns, no evidence, no proof that would stand up anywhere outside the court of the left-wing opinion. And now after three years of baselessly accusing the President of being a Russian agent we have impeachment proceedings without an official vote to commence and without identifying which laws Trump is meant to have broken.

You could believe the whole “protect[ing] the interests… of the American people” shtick if after all this time and the incalculable amount of energy and effort expended on bringing down the President, all those patriotic public servants have been able to show something – anything – for it. So instead of disinterested paragons of civic virtue, it increasingly looks like the federal bureaucracy is full of hard core progressives and liberals who can’t stomach a non-Democrat usurper who doesn’t share their values, ideas and objectives.

Yeah, pretty much. But read the whole thing.

Related (From Ed): NYT Columnist Tells the Today Show the Deep State Exists…To Protect Us From Trump.

I’M NOT SURE I AGREE WITH THIS: The Ocasio-Cortez–Cruz Bill Would Almost Certainly Be Unconstitutional. There’s a first amendment right to petition the government, but there’s not a first amendment right to lobby on behalf of paying clients when you have a conflict of interest. I’d have to think about this more, but I find Cooke’s invocation of the right to petition unpersuasive. You have a constitutional right to engage in sexual intimacy, too, but you don’t have a constitutional right to work as a prostitute. It’s certainly not as open-and-shut a case as some of my libertarian friends are suggesting.

But don’t worry: There are no constitutional problems with my revolving-door surtax!

THEY’RE BOTH RIGHT: Ted Cruz agrees with Ocasio-Cortez: There should be a ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists.

And we also need my revolving-door surtax.

FASTER, PLEASE: Overdue Overhaul: Security Clearance Reform in a Decade of Leakers, Spies and Insider Threats.

The most significant overhaul of the security clearance process in 50 years appears to finally be at hand. At the end of February, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management – working through the interagency Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council – announced that the Trusted Workforce 2.0 framework would be implemented soon, once White House review of the framework is complete.

Trusted Workforce 2.0 is intended to improve the government’s personnel vetting and security clearance processes. Media reporting indicates that this improvement will be based on six primary pillars: more nimble policymaking and clear policy for implementation; ensuring personnel vetting is tailored, reciprocal between agencies, and includes continuous vetting (which will tie into insider threat programs) rather than laborious periodic reinvestigations; aligning and streamlining security, suitability and credentialing processes; reducing the number of investigative levels, or tiers, from five to three (Trusted, Secret and Top Secret); expanding the spectrum of investigative methods, including the use of digital interview channels; and implementing a trusted information provider program to improve efficiency by allowing investigators to leverage certain information that has already been collected by designated government and private sources.

I might go further, and have security clearances automatically withdrawn at the end of government employment, available for reissue, but not automatically reissued, on an as-needed basis for consult work.

Consider a part of Glenn’s revolving door tax surcharge plan.

ELIZABETH WARREN: Break Up Tech Giants.

Me, several months ago: Donald Trump must bust Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google monopolies like Teddy Roosevelt.

How long before she pushes the Revolving-Door Surtax, and starts agitating to repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts?

ANTITRUST: Why Regulators Went Soft on Monopolies: Federal officials become economists and lawyers who help kill competition for their corporate clients. Welcome to the new Gilded Age.

Antitrust authorities once fought against monopolies, but for the past four decades they have given a green light to merger after merger. The guardians who were meant to protect competition have become the principal cheerleaders of monopolies.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have become revolving doors for highly paid economists and lawyers whose only goal is to look after their corporate clients rather than voters, consumers, workers, suppliers, and competition.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

Plus: Donald Trump must bust Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google monopolies like Teddy Roosevelt.


Ailes forbade the campaign from releasing Horton’s photograph. When the campaign produced its now-famous Massachusetts prison “revolving door” ad, it was filmed in Utah, in sepia tones, and the inmates appeared to be white, black, and Hispanic. Earlier, two conservative provocateurs, Larry McCarthy and Floyd Brown, produced a low-budget ad showing Horton’s picture and mentioning his name. Democrats pounced. This is racist, they said. Some of the media followed suit and some didn’t, although with each passing year, the “vile” Willie Horton ad narrative entrenched itself more deeply in the collective memories of Democrats and the media.

Those closest to the case were the most nonplussed by this characterization. Dane Strother, a former Eagle-Tribune reporter who became a Democratic political consultant, told me race was never an issue when Dukakis’ furlough program came under scrutiny. “It wasn’t about racism,” he said. “That didn’t come up. Not ever.”

One reason was that as the paper dug deeper into the story, they found other victims of crimes, not all of them white, and other furloughed prisoners who’d committed violent crimes, not all of them black.

Among the details unearthed by the Eagle-Tribune was that of the 80 prisoners listed as “escaped” by the state, all but four were on furlough when they disappeared.

When pressed as to why they deem the Bush campaign’s 1988 treatment of this topic racist, critics cite a litany of factoids and arguments.

What made it racist was that it hurt Democrats, and it was effective.

HMM: Amazon on Democrat-Hiring Binge.

Amazon is getting ready for the new Democratic House — and building a wall of protection against any potential focus on its growth and influence.

In the last month the tech, commerce, and media giant has hired three key Democratic aides, who will help with legislation and diversity issues.

The trade outlet Legistorm reported the latest hire and blogged, “Amazon is continuing its hiring sweep of Congress, adding its third Democratic aide in a month.”

It reported the hiring of Tina Tower as a program manager for public policy. She was Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Ed Markey’s assistant to the chief of staff.

And Politico reported two other big hires, House chiefs of staff LaDavia Drane and Tony Clair to handle the company’s ties to the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The outlet said that Drane came from the office of New York Rep. Yvette Clarke and Clair from North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

I THINK WE NEED TO KEEP THEM OUT OF SHADY LAND DEALS, A LA HARRY REID: Elizabeth Warren wants to bar Congress from owning individual stock.

Better still, she could get behind my — bipartisanly endorsed! — revolving door surtax.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: The Obamas are worth 30 times more than when they entered the White House in 2008.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

KENTUCKY REP. BLASTS ‘PAY-TO-PLAY’ CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES: Ask Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) about Congress and the first thing he’s likely to talk about is his anger about how a representative’s committee assignments are determined by how much money he or she can raise for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

LifeZette’s Connor Wolf got that and more from Massie in a great interview about how to drain the swamp. Connor is doing a series of such interviews with Members of Congress. Go here, here and here for previous installments.

ENDORSED: We Should Tax The Clintons And Other Former Senior Government Employees At A Higher Rate.

Sadly, this paper entirely fails to mention my revolving-door surtax proposal.

DRAINING THE SWAMP STARTS WITH STOPPING THE REVOLVING DOOR: That’s the advice of Rep. Ron DeSantis in an interview with LifeZette’s Connor Wolf. Here’s a multiple choice question for you: How many former senators and representatives are now working Congress as lobbyists? 25 percent? 51 percent? 73 percent? 100 percent? This is not a trick question.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Campaign contributor helped Obamas score Netflix deal.

Or as Byron York explains it:. “How it works: Netflix exec & wife bundle big donations to Obama in ’08. Wife is rewarded with ambassadorship. Now Netflix exec steers $50m contract to Obamas through ‘Higher Ground Productions.'”

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

SWAMPLAND: Trump’s Appointees Pledged Not to Lobby After They Leave. Now They’re Lobbying.

Glenn’s revolving-door surtax — now with bipartisan appeal!

JOEL KOTKIN: How Silicon Valley Went From “Don’t Be Evil” To Doing Evil.

Once seen as the saviors of America’s economy, Silicon Valley is turning into something more of an emerging axis of evil. “Brain-hacking” tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, as one prominent tech investor puts it, have become so intrusive as to alarm critics on both right and left.

Firms like Google, which once advertised themselves as committed to being not “evil,” are now increasingly seen as epitomizing Hades’ legions. The tech giants now constitute the world’s five largest companies in market capitalization. Rather than idealistic newcomers, they increasingly reflect the worst of American capitalism — squashing competitors, using indentured servants, attempting to fix wages, depressing incomes, creating ever more social anomie and alienation.

At the same time these firms are fostering what British academic David Lyon has called a “surveillance society” both here and abroad. Companies like Facebook and Google thrive by mining personal data, and their only way to grow, as Wired recently suggested, was, creepily, to “know you better.”

The techie vision of the future is one in which the middle class all but disappears, with those not sufficiently merged with machine intelligence relegated to rent-paying serfs living on “income maintenance.” Theirs is a world in where long-standing local affinities are supplanted by Facebook’s concept of digitally-created “meaningful communities.”

Back during the Obama years, the tech oligarchy was widely admired throughout the progressive circles. Companies like Google gained massive access to the administration’s inner circles, with many top aides eventually entering a “revolving door” for jobs with firms like Google, Facebook, Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

Although the vast majority of all political contributions from these firms, not surprisingly, go to the Democrats, many progressives — at least not those on their payroll — are expressing alarm about the oligarchs’ move to gain control of whole industries, such as education, finance, groceries, space, print media and entertainment. Left-leaning luminaries like Franklin Foer, former editor of the New Republic, rant against technology firms as a threat to basic liberties and coarsening culture. . . .

Whether one sits on the progressive left or the political right, this growing hegemony presents a clear and present danger. It is increasingly clear that the oligarchs have forgotten that Americans are more than a collection of data-bases to be exploited. People, whatever their ideology, generally want to maintain a modicum of privacy, and choose their way of life.

Someone’s going to make a lot of political hay out of breaking these companies up.

Related: From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future; The unaffordable Bay Area, Google’s new neighborhood ‘built from the internet up,’ and China’s police state each offer glimpses of what the tech giants plan to sell the rest of us.

NOAH ROTHMAN: Ben Rhodes and the Democratic Guilt Complex on Russia and Iran.

When you’re good at something, you should never do it for free. That’s perhaps why Barack Obama’s former deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, is gearing up to politicize national security issues once again in a professional capacity.

On Tuesday, Rhodes revealed his intention to join former Obama administration officials, Hillary Clinton staffers, and a handful of career civil servants to form “National Security Action,” a 501(c)(4) that will not endorse candidates but will campaign against them. You can probably guess who this organization’s primary target will be. “We’re a temporary organization,” Rhodes told the Washington Post. “Our hope is to be out of business in three years.”

There’s more of that revolving door action, assuming Rhodes means what he says — which by his own admission is a dangerous assumption.

But Rhodes’ problem since leaving the Obama Administration is that his audience no longer consists exclusively of 27-year-olds who literally know nothing. As you can see for yourself at his sad (and widely mocked) Twitter feed.

SORT OF LIKE MY REVOLVING-DOOR SURTAX PROPOSAL: Should We Tax the ‘Clintons’ and Other Former Senior Civil Servants More? Yes, We Should.

NEWS YOU CAN ABUSE: In Portland, You Can Steal Cars Over and Over—and Get Away With It. Here’s How. Portland now ranks third among the nation’s major cities for car thefts per capita. And the number keeps rising:

Police say the rise in car thefts is partly a symptom of Portland’s ongoing epidemic of intravenous drug use, which afflicts people for whom a warm, dry place is increasingly difficult to find.

Yes, a lot of cars appear to be stolen to provide temporary shelter. But prosecutors, cops and even defense lawyers say there is something else at work as well—a 2014 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that, according to law enforcement, has made prosecuting car thieves more difficult in Portland than in most other places in the nation.

“A lot of clients know the right things to say or not say to avoid conviction,” says Kami White, who supervises the minor felonies unit at Metropolitan Public Defenders.

The revolving door for accused car thieves has frustrated police, flummoxed prosecutors and infuriated residents. It summons the helplessness and fury many Portlanders feel in a city with a booming economy but highly visible symptoms of addiction and poverty.

Yet the legal part of it has a simple fix: State lawmakers could close the loophole created by the appeals court. They’ve refused.

* * * * * * * *

The Oregon Court of Appeals judges ruled in Shipe’s favor. Chief Appellate Judge Erika Hadlock wrote in the July 23, 2014, decision that the state was asking the court “to accept too great an inferential leap” in determining that Shipe knew the truck was stolen when he took possession of it. (Hadlock declined comment to WW on her ruling.)

It set a precedent: Carrying tools associated with car break-ins or even operating a car with the wrong key was not enough evidence to prove that someone sitting in a stolen car knew that it was hot.

Portland’s last Republican mayor left office in 1980. Why are Democrat-monopoly cities such cesspits of crime, homelessness, and illegal drug use?

BLOOMBERG: Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year. “Obama is coming to Wall Street less than a year after leaving the White House, following a path that’s well trod and well paid. While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power. His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on and disappoint anyone expecting him to avoid a trap that snared Clinton.”

Hey, they didn’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.


But it’s yet another argument for my Revolving-Door Surtax.

Flashback: Joe Biden to Goldman Sachs execs: “I’m doing a job interview with you.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: New Centene CEO is another example Obamacare’s architects getting rich off Obamacare.

Sarah Kliff’s take is a ludicrously generous assessment. The reporter is referring to the recent decision by former CEO, Kevin Counihan, to join a health insurance company, Centene. Unlike many other insurers who have withdrawn from the exchanges, Centene is finding success in Obama’s wonderland. Amusingly, Kliff suggests Counihan for moral rather than monetary reasons.

I think her assessment is a stretch.

As the former head of the federal health exchange, Counihan is well placed to guide Centene towards new profits. And it’s clear where those profits wait. As I’ve explained, Centene’s business model is utterly dependent on the Obama administration’s massive expansion of Medicaid. Indeed, with 3.5 million of Centene’s customers on Medicaid, the government trough is Centene’s heart, aorta, and lifeblood.

Counihan will be able to grease Centene’s wheels by engaging with his contacts to help his new employer anticipate regulatory changes and subsidies. In return, Counihan is likely to collect a healthy paycheck.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

ATTRACTED TO MONEY AND POWER LIKE A MOTH TO A FLAME: Silicon Valley is ‘officially a retirement community for D.C. political vets’

Veterans of high-profile political campaigns and White House administrations such as LaBolt — who in years past would have turned their public-service resumes and connections into jobs as lobbyists on K Street, advisers at Fortune 500 firms or leaders of nonprofits — are increasingly heading west, attracted by the opportunities to put their political skills to use in the technology industry. It can lead to strange bedfellows: Democrats and Republicans who fought each other while working on opposing campaigns find themselves working on shared goals and trying to effect change outside the nation’s gridlocked capital.

It’s a new gold rush — to social media companies, tech start-ups, incubators and key players in the sharing economy.

“Mall shoes. White cars. Buffet specials. Come and get it, this town is now officially a retirement community for D.C. political vets,” said Matt McKenna, who worked for Clinton for nearly a decade of his post-presidency before joining the ride-sharing company Uber and then launching a crisis-communications firm in Sausalito.

Beyond healthy six-figure salaries and better weather than Washington, D.C., the moves make sense — skills developed in politics are in critical demand in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

Isn’t it time that the wealthy and well-connected technorati give something back via Glenn’s revolving-door surtax?

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Barack Obama Is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.


POLITICO: A REVOLVING DOOR? “In three months since Election Day, at least a half-dozen prominent journalists have taken jobs working for the federal government. Journalists, including some of those who’ve jumped ship, say it’s better to have a solid job in government than a shaky job – or none at all – in an industry that’s fading fast. But conservative critics answer with a question: Would journalists be making the same career choices if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama in November?” If it were another industry, and a Republican candidate/President, the press would treat this as a serious conflict of interest. It does kinda explain the favorable election coverage . . . .



Perhaps no president in recent history has more pressure on him to perform economic miracles than Donald Trump. As someone who ran on the promise that he could fix the economy — and largely won because of it — Trump faces two severe challenges, one that is largely perceptual and another more critical one that is very real.

To start, Trump must cope with the widespread idea, accepted by much of the media, that we are experiencing something of an “Obama boom.”

He is widely portrayed as inheriting a very strong economy, notes MSNBC, in which the U.S. is “the envy of the world.” Fortune sees Trump inheriting “the best economy in a generation.”

Yet this is more a matter of perception than reality, a kind of “fake news.” To be sure, President Barack Obama inherited a disastrous economy from George W. Bush and can claim, with some justification, that on his watch millions of jobs were restored and the economy achieved steady, if unspectacular, growth. Under Obama average GDP growth has been almost twice as high as under his predecessor, but roughly half that of either President Reagan or Clinton.

Less appreciated, however, are the fundamental long-term weaknesses in the U.S. economy that Obama and Bush have left for Trump. A recent report from the U.S. Council on Competitiveness details a litany of profound, lingering flaws — historically slow growth, rising inequality, stagnant incomes, slumping productivity and declining lifespans. As the report concludes: “The Great Recession may be over, but America is dangerously running on empty.”

On the other hand, if people thought the economy was as good as the press has been claiming, would Trump have won?

UPDATE: From the comments:

I’d be delighted if Trump started his first State of The Union speech with, “My fellow citizens, after many years of being absolutely lied to, by both politicians and the media that support them, I’d like to throw a monkey wrench in their spin-jobs and tell you some rock solid facts, quoting the statistics from the government agencies responsible. Here’s what has been going on with the economy… labor participation rates… violent crime… illegal immigration… the revolving door of media, government service and political campaigns… size of the federal bureaucracy… how much of your tax money actually goes to the purposes they’re allocated for…”


SUCK-UP WATCH: Having backed the losing candidate, Google now tries to align with Trump. “Despite Google’s support of Clinton, and Trump’s tendency to hold grudges, the tech behemoth may very well succeed in its efforts to embed itself in the new power structure.” And apparently they’re doing okay:

Joshua Wright, long an ally of Google, is in charge of the transition team at the Federal Trade Commission. The Intercept noted Wright is “pulling off the rare revolving-door quadruple-play,” having moved from academic work supported by Google to FTC commissioner, back to Google-supported work and now back to the federal government.

As a George Mason University law professor, Wright wrote at least four academic papers while being funded by Google that argued the company hadn’t violated antitrust laws by favoring its own sites in search engine results.

After Wright became a FTC commissioner in 2013, he recused himself from any cases involving Google for two years. He returned to George Mason in August 2015, but also began working with the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Google’s primary outside law firm.

Now Wright could very well be named chairman of the FTC in the coming months.

Stay tuned.


4. The mechanism for this homogenization is not obvious. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Cathedral has no pope (although I read recently that Warren Buffet owns 71 newspapers, and the New York Times is owned in part by Carlos Slim, whose vast fortune has a lot to do with his special relationship with the Mexican government). One factor is that the credibility of a set of information sources depends on their being able to agree on a story (coordination games, the peloton effect, the parliament of clocks). Another factor is self-dealing: people with high verbal skills tend to support a system of government that is controlled by people with high verbal skills, and once they control it, they tend to want it to be unlimited in scope. Another factor is self-selection: once an institution becomes dominated by members of a political movement, it tends to become unpleasant and career-limiting for anyone else to work there. Another factor is that the easiest way to write a newspaper story is to copy it from a politician’s press handout. To a considerable extent, these institutions are deliberately manipulated by politicians (broadcast licensing, educational and research funding, journalistic access, selective leaking of secrets, etc., aka Gleichschaltung; in many cases, journalists are literally married to political operatives or are involved in “revolving door” relationships with the political institutions they write about, such as Jeff Immelt of GE, MSNBC and the Obama administration). But the two biggest factors are probably that (1) intellectuals are seduced by political power (the Boromir effect), and (2) these institutions are quasi-religious, and have taken on the peculiar characteristics of the dominant quasi-religion of the day.

5. Three things make an intellectual movement quasi-religious: (1) the outputs that they produce are credence goods, (2) they provide a framework for competition for social status, and (3) this basis is insecure. The fact that credence goods are involved means that conflict about them will tend to be irrational. The fact that social status is involved, and that the basis for social status is insecure, means that this conflict will be relatively vicious, and will carry a strong odor of a witch hunt.

6. The Cathedral is powerful partly because its relative homogeneity allows it to serve as a gatekeeper of politically relevant mass-market information and interpretation. But its real power comes from control of what ideas are associated with high status. Everyone thinks, “I’m my own man. I think for myself.” But unconsciously, people tend to copy the opinions of people who are one step above them on the social ladder. This was explained in the Cerulean Top scene in The Devil Wears Prada.

Read the whole thing; and don’t miss the clip of that aforementioned “Cerulean Top” scene from The Devil Wears Prada, a nifty variation on the line Claude Rains’ sly ambassador character tells Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia: “If we’ve been telling lies, you’ve been telling half-lies. A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”


Residency issues knocked out a handful of Harry Reid’s colleagues over the years, but the outgoing Senate Democratic leader didn’t even pretend that he got back to his home state of Nevada on a regular basis.

“It’s amazing what I have not done,” said Reid in the recent cover story for GW Magazine. “I don’t go home every week. I never have, even when I was in the House. I don’t like banquets, parades.”

Reid has never been known to pull rhetorical punches, so his comments aren’t a complete surprise. But they are remarkable, considering how multiple senators during Reid’s three decades in Congress lost re-election, at least in part, because they were portrayed as having “gone Washington” and not spent enough time in their home states. . . .

In 2010, Reid called attacks on his residency “embarrassing” and called Searchlight (population: 539) home as Republicans highlighted his condo in Washington’s Ritz-Carlton.

Amazing that he could afford to live in the Ritz-Carlton as a public servant.


Barbara Walters thinks ABC execs have ruined “The View” and fears the show will be remembered for its petty backstage bickering and revolving door of talent.

“She feels they’ve ruined the franchise that she and Bill Geddie built. Instead of focusing on smart, educated women with strong talent, they cast uninformed child actors on the show. The legacy has been compromised because of poor casting and bad leadership under ABC News,” a source told us.

As the left continues to pass the December “silly season” obsessing over “fake news,” it’s worth remembering that Walters, who made her bones in the newsrooms of NBC and ABC, gave a platform to both a 9/11 truther, and a NASA truther. That will be the ultimate legacy – if any – of The View.

WELL, THAT WAS FAST: Google Gets A Seat On The Trump Transition Team:

Joshua Wright has been put in charge of transition efforts at the influential Federal Trade Commission after pulling off the rare revolving-door quadruple-play, moving from Google-supported academic work to government – as an FTC commissioner – back to the Google gravy train and now back to the government.

The Intercept has documented how Wright, as a law professor at George Mason University, received Google funding for at least four academic papers, all of which supported Google’s position that it did not violate antitrust laws when it favored its own sites in search engine requests and restricted advertisers from running ads on competitors. George Mason received $762,000 in funding from Google from 2011 to 2013.

Wright then became an FTC commissioner in January 2013, agreeing to recuse himself from Google cases for two years, because of his Google-funded research. He lasted at the FTC until August 2015, returning to George Mason’s law school (now named after Antonin Scalia). But Wright also became an “of counsel” at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Google’s main outside law firm. Wilson Sonsini has represented Google before the FTC.

Wright’s leadership position in the Trump FTC transition flips him back into government work. The FTC has two open seats on its five-member panel, and Chair Edith Ramirez’s term ends in April 2017. So Trump will be able to remake the agency, which has responsibilities over consumer protection and policing anti-competitive business practices, like the employing of monopoly power. Outside of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, no government agency is more responsible for competition policy than the FTC.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Podesta Kept Up With Former Investment Firm Employer While at White House.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman met and corresponded on multiple occasions in his capacity as a top White House adviser with a previous employer seeking energy policies that it described as a potential “gold rush,” hacked emails and public records show.

John Podesta was a top White House energy policy official before joining the Clinton campaign last year. He previously served on the board of renewable energy investment firm Equilibrium Capital. He owned stock in the firm and drew $4,000 in annual “board fees.”

White House ethics rules bar employees from working on issues affecting former clients or employers for two years after taking their jobs. However, internal emails show that Podesta was in contact with Equilibrium within months of joining the White House as the company pursued a new energy efficiency financing model that would steer it significant revenue.

Glenn’s revolving-door surtax is a marvelous idea, and in addition to that we ought to look into requiring that for the duration of their office, elected officials, cabinet officers, and Presidential appointees place their investments into a blind trust.

IT’S A POPULAR IDEA: Trump proposes term limits for Congress.

Donald Trump on Tuesday called for term limits in Congress as part of his new ethics reform proposal.

“If I’m elected president I will push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” Trump said at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Decades of failure in Washington and decades of special-interest dealing must and will come to an end.”

“Not only will it end our government corruption, but we will end the economic stagnation that we’re in right now — no growth,” Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, added of the proposal.

Trump released a five-point ethics plan Monday night in an effort to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

He also wants Congress to pass a law preventing all administration officials, lawmakers and congressional aides from lobbying the government for five years after leaving public service.

He should endorse my revolving-door surtax. It has bipartisan support!

TIME FOR MY REVOLVING-DOOR SURTAX: Evan Bayh’s extremely lucrative post-Senate career. “How lucrative is it to be a former member of Congress? Just ask Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Evan Bayh, who in just six years after leaving the Senate in 2011 built as much as $40 million in wealth — mostly from K Street lobbying firms and corporate board positions he never would have had except that he’s a former senator and governor.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Young America, You’re Getting Screwed.

Bob Kerrey:

Clinton is pushing 70. Trump just passed it. Both have substantial amounts of non-employment income to supplement their Social Security benefits. Neither have any personal concern about the Social Security trustees’ report warning that the so-called trust fund for the Old Age and Survivors program will be depleted in 18 years.

Congress is in the same privileged condition. The average age of senators and House members is 62 and 57 years, respectively. They will have congressional pensions to supplement their Social Security. And thanks to the lucrative revolving door to the private sector, it is unlikely that they, like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will be personally impacted by the dire predictions of the report.

However, for every American under the age of 50—especially the growing numbers whose only source of retirement income will be Social Security—the trustees’ report is very bad news. The “Do Nothing Plan” supported by nearly every member of Congress and the presidential candidates contains a large cut in benefits or a comparably large increase in taxes. And every year support for the “Do Nothing Plan” is sustained, the burden on young Americans grows.

As I noted above, the “second screwing” of young Americans costs them more than $10,000 per year. And if you exclude government employees that number is almost $20,000 a year about the total average amount of college debt.

Very few younger Americans understand just how much has been taken from them, or just how much they already owe for services which will they will likely never receive.

When they finally do understand, the political eruption may make 2016 seem tame.

REGULATORY CAPTURE: Half of ex-insurance commissioners went to work for industry.

That’s according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation, which tracked career moves between 2006 and 2016. Of 109 commissioners who left their posts, 55 of them ended up working for the insurance industry.

The investigation also details some of the cozy relationships between the regulators and the companies they worked to regulate — from sharing fancy dinners and drinks to commissioners receiving industry campaign contributions.

“A lot of commissioners don’t want to alienate the industry,” says Sally McCarty, an ex-Indiana commissioner. “Many people consider the job an audition for a better-paying job.”

Here’s yet another area where Glenn’s revolving door surtax would do us some good.

REVOLVING DOOR? MORE LIKE REVOLTING DOOR: Fifth Estate? Or wholly-owned subsidiary of the Entertainment-Government Complex?

YEP: Dems tap K Street candidate Evan Bayh and embrace the revolving door.

When Evan Bayh left the U.S. Senate six years ago, he penned a righteous essay in the Washington Post about how broken the U.S. Senate is. He also sat down for an interview about Washington’s brokenness with a Post blogger in which Bayh expressed his desire “to be engaged in an honorable line of work.”

Then Bayh went to K Street to work for a lobbying firm and a hedge fund.

This summer, when revolving-door Democratic congressman-turned-K Street lobbyist Baron Hill was polling badly in the race to replace Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. (the Republican senator-turned-lobbyist-turned-senator who is retiring this year), the Democratic leadership worked overtime to convince Bayh to swing back through the revolving door and run again.

If Trump’s smart he’ll highlight this and call for enacting my revolving-door surtax. Remember, it already has bipartisan support!

WASHINGTON’S HOLLOW MEN: Victor Davis Hanson fillets American elites.

…our modern American elite is a bit different. Residence, either in the Boston–Washington, D.C., or the San Francisco–Los Angeles corridor, often is a requisite. Celebrity and public exposure count — e.g., access to traditional television outlets (as opposed to hoi polloi Internet blogging). So does education — again, most often a coastal-corridor thing: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, etc. Net worth, whether made or inherited, helps. But lots of billionaires, especially Midwestern sorts, are not part of the elite, in that their money does not necessarily translate into much political or cultural influence — or influence of the right sort. (Exceptions are Chicago traders who bundle millions for Hillary.) Especially influential are the revolving-door multimillionaires, especially from big banks and Wall Street — the Tim Geithners, Jack Lews, Hank Paulsons, and Robert Rubins, but also the lesser flunkies of the Freddie/Fannie Clintonite crowd, a Franklin Raines (raking in $90 million) or a Jamie Gorelick ($26 million), all of whom came into the White House and its bureaucracies to get rich, but who always seem shocked when the public does not like their incestuous trails of bailouts, relief plans, favorable regulations, etc. Creepy too are the satellite grifters like “investment banker” Rahm Emanuel — who somehow, between the White House and the House of Representatives, made off with $16 million for his financial “expertise” — or Chelsea Clinton, who made her fortune ($15 million?) largely by being a “consultant” for a Wall Street investment group (her fluff job at NBC News was small potatoes in comparison). The locus classicus, of course, is the Clinton power marriage itself, which invested nearly 40 years of public service in what proved to be a gargantuan pay-for-play payoff, when they parlayed Hillary’s political trajectories into a personal fortune of well over $100 million. Give them credit: From the early days, when they would write off as IRS deductions gifts of their used underwear, they ended up 30 years later getting paid $10,000 to $60,000 a minute for their Wall Street riffs. The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines.

Read the whole thing. Note Mr. Hanson mentions John Dickerson. Dickerson recently provided us with a small but documented example of how crooked elites attempt to manipulate media perception– a “nexus operation” combining the Big Media and Big Influence Mr. Hanson so brilliantly damns. When Dickerson interviewed Hillary on Face the Nation (May 8) he employed Hillary’s fake-description “inquiry” to describe the FBI’s criminal investigation. Yes, a privileged, leftish Washington media elite rhetorically colluding with a preferred political elite.

REVOLVING DOORS ARE SPINNING AT HYPER-SPEED AT THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BOARD: Three of the top four executives at the CFPB – the questionably constitutional hybrid agency created by President Obama and Elizabeth Warren – have left the bureau in recent months for lucrative positions in the financial industry, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group’s Richard Pollock.

Obama, Warren and the Democratic Congress in 2010 put CFPB under the Federal Reserve, ostensibly to insure its independence of financial industry special interests, but also effectively insulating it from congressional oversight, As Pollock reports, however, CFPB has instead become “a breeding ground for bureaucrats becoming highly paid executives in the very industry the bureau was created to regulate. The CFPB has an unusually high turnover rate for a government agency as nearly 50 top CFPB officials have abandoned the agency since its creation to take high-paying jobs in the industry.”


I HOPE GOOGLE REALIZES WHO IT’S GOTTEN INTO BED WITH, as one of these things is not like the other:

● The Android Administration — Google’s Remarkably Close Relationship With the Obama White House, in Two Charts.

Is Google Getting Ready to Put Obama on Board of Directors?

Obama Stands Silent, And Even Piles On, As Europe Attacks Google.

Whether or not Obama lands on the Google board, it’s a very safe bet that after our semi-retired president leaves office, he’s about to become the next Al Gore and Jamie Gorelick, parleying staggering incompetence as a government official into millions of dollars of additional net worth as a boardroom-hopping corporate executive. Where’s that revolving door surtax when you need it?

JUST A REMINDER: My revolving-door surtax plan has bipartisan support.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Former top deputy at consumer bureau quietly joins Capital One.

Another high-ranking official at the Obama administration’s financial protection agency has gone to Wall Street this month, The Hill has learned.

Meredith Fuchs, who most recently served as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) acting deputy director, has gone to the credit and banking giant Capital One.

She now serves as the bank’s senior vice president and chief counsel on regulatory issues, her recently updated LinkedIn page says. There have been no press releases from the agency or Capital One announcing her move.

Capital One and the CFPB did not immediately return a request for comment.

It is the latest in a slew of departures from the young agency, which was created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in 2010.

Since it opened its doors in 2011, at least 45 CFPB employees have left the agency for the private sector, snapped up by companies including JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, PayPal, Bank of America and BlackRock.

Just another argument for enacting my revolving-door surtax. And let’s face it — Elizabeth Warren and the other champions of this “consumer protection” agency knew this was going to happen all along. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: Former CFPB Lawyer Joins Goldman Sachs Online Lending Unit.

Yet another argument for my revolving door surtax.

GEE, WHICH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BENEFITS FROM THIS ARTICLE? “We Keep Electing Outsiders; How’s That Working Out?”, Jonathan Allen asks at Roll Call:

Jimmy Carter kicked off the trend with a promise to restore honor to the White House. Ronald Reagan, the tough-talking movie star and California governor, vowed he’d get Washington’s spending and taxing under control. Bill Clinton, who had never worked in Washington, ran as the man from Hope. George W. Bush, despite being the son of a president, managed to come off as more Texan than political elite. Most recently, Barack Obama’s message and historic 2008 candidacy made it impossible for anyone to view him as an insider.

And yet, after electing this caravan of outsiders, voters still see Washington as a swamp of dysfunction, decadence and corruption. I readily admit I have more faith in our government and its leaders than most Americans do. But if you truly believe that Washington is getting worse, why keep electing the same kind of candidate?

If this sounds like an infomercial for Hillary Clinton, that’s likely not a coincidence. In December of 2009, NewsBusters spotted “another entry for the revolving door file: Politico’s Jonathan Allen…formerly of Congressional Quarterly and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes’ [D-MD] office, will take over as the top staffer at Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s DWS PAC,” Ken Shepherd wrote. “For his part, Allen, whose wife works as the communications director for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), found it an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

In February of 2010, when Allen returned to the Politico after admitting that he preferred pack journalism to working in a PAC, he sheepishly claimed:

I am a registered independent. My political views, like those of many Americans, are not neatly defined by anyone’s platform. I love the power of a good idea and get frustrated when I see the political system distorted by inertia or hypocrisy. I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats and even some third-party candidates. I am not by temperament a partisan or an ideologue. But there is no doubt that I have voted more often for Democrats, and when I decided to indulge my curiosity about life on the other side of the notebook it was most natural for me to align with them.

And judging by the above article, he’s still a Democrat operative, whether it’s with or without his byline.


Joe’s been rehearsing for that that gig since January of 2009; hasn’t he passed the audition yet?


Related: Glenn on employing the Pigouvian tax to slow the revolving door between Big Government and Big Business: “When the post-government-employment goodies are less good, they’ll pose less of a temptation.”

Not to mention, it’s the patriotic thing to do — just ask Biden himself!

TIM CARNEY: The Top 12 Revolving Door Moments Of 2015. Here’s just one:

President Obama said he was going to stop the revolving door, and he spoke as if Obamacare was a broadside to the industry. If you believed either of these lines, you were surprised in 2011 when Obama picked hospital executive Marilyn Tavenner as Medicare administrator. Not done with the revolving door, Tavenner cashed out in 2015 to become president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the largest lobby for the insurance industry, which is — thanks to Obamacare — increasingly dependent on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for profits.

Follow the link for 11 more reasons to enact my revolving-door surtax.

DNC-MSM REVOLVING DOOR REVOLVES: Sam Kass, former White House chef and husband of MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, joins NBC as well:

On Wednesday, the hosts of NBC’s Today cheered the network’s decision to hire former White House chef — and husband of left-wing MSNBC host Alex Wagner — Sam Kass. Co-host Savannah Guthrie gushed: “…we’ve got an exciting announcement. You guys remember Sam Kass, of course he’s the former assistant White House chef, executive director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, and nutrition advisor to the President….He is becoming an NBC News senior food analyst.”

Obama attended Kass’s wedding to Wagner; in last year’s “Love in the Time of Obama,” Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon explored just how interconnected Kass and Wagner are with Big Money, Big Government, and Big Journalism, and how they used nepotism to leapfrog into “the new aristocracy,” as Continetti dubbed the Washington-NY power structure. But then, the entire MSM really does seem like one big happy mafia family of Democratic operatives with bylines, doesn’t it?

HERE’S MORE ON MY revolving-door surtax plan.

I TALK ABOUT MY REVOLVING-DOOR SURTAX PLAN on the latest episode of How Do We Fix It?

THE HILL: ObamaCare’s revolving door.

Marilyn Tavenner, who spearheaded the fraught Affordable Care Act rollout for the Obama administration, is but the latest ACA insider to cash in. Lobbying for America’s Health Insurance Plans is a natural transition for the former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Tavenner was chosen to run CMS principally because she was not a healthcare reformer like her predecessor, Dr. Donald Berwick, a pediatrician the Senate refused to confirm. Instead she was a colorless former apparatchik for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a company that once paid $1.7 billion in penalties for fraud.

The revolving door between industry and government existed long prior to the ACA, but the commingling of industry and government interests under the ACA brings with it new implications. Simply put, the ACA represents the biggest transfer of taxpayer resources to the private sector since Gilded Age railroad barons were beneficiaries.


REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: Former Obamacare chief to lead top insurance lobby. “The former chief of Medicare and Medicaid, who was responsible for overseeing the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare law, will lead the insurance industry’s top lobbying group. Marilyn Tavenner, who in February stepped down from her role as chief administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will become the new head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents dozens of U.S. insurers.”

With that track record, you know she’s being hired for her connections and not for her skills. Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: After 6-Year Tenure Not Prosecuting Banks, Eric Holder Returns ‘Home’ to Defend Them.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.


How did Hastert happen to have enough money lying around that paying out $3.5 million was even within the realm of possibility?

Hastert’s ability to participate in the blackmail is, after all, itself a general indictment of D.C.’s “revolving door” money culture, in which former lawmakers move easily from government into lobbying.

Time for my revolving-door surtax.

ANNALS OF OUR RULING CLASS: The Great 2014 Cashout: Landrieu lands at oil-rich lobbying firm.

Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu was a centrist Democratic senator, and so of course she is now working at a lobbying firm. She was also very friendly to the oil industry, and so it’s unsurprising she cashed out to Van Ness Feldman, a firm heavy in the oil and gas industry. . . .

Like Dicks, Landrieu was an appropriator. Landrieu was also chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Van Ness Feldman’s client list includes energy companies American Electric Power, Warren Buffett’s Pacificorp, Danaher, the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and utility Puget Equico, among others. . . .

Through the revolving door, Landrieu follows her classmates Saxby Chambliss (DLA Piper), Mark Pryor (Venable), Carl Levin (Hongman) and Mark Begich (Brownstein Hyatt). Did I miss anyone?

More arguments for my revolving door surtax. This would be a good campaign issue for an enterprising Presidential candidate.

SO MY REVOLVING-DOOR SURTAX JUST KEEPS LOOKING BETTER: Congressman Investigated By Feds Now Gets Paid By Feds To Lobby Congress.

SELF-CARICATURE: Taxpayer Funded Video Promoting Eric Holder as “People’s Lawyer.” Actually, it’s a bit of grease for the revolving door.

CORRUPTION-FIGHTING! GOP lawmaker proposes lifetime lobbying ban. “Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) introduced legislation on Tuesday to prevent members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists after they leave office. Blum, a freshman lawmaker, argued his bill would help limit lobbyists’ influence on the legislative process so members of Congress won’t feel pressured to cater to their wishes for their own self-interest.”

We could still apply my revolving-door surtax to the Executive branch.

IRA STOLL: Preet’s Revolving Door. “You don’t have to be a cynic to see a kind of parallel between the actions of the former prosecutors and the accusations they are making against those they are prosecuting. One group is making money by trading on their insider knowledge and unique relationships. And the other group… I’d love to see the Times (or someone else) do an info-graphic with photographs of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s nine prosecutors who have left the Wall Street task force, along with the firms they have left for, the annual profits per partner at those firms, and the names of some of their new clients. Maybe we’ll try it here.”

Another case for my revolving-door surtax.

SHOCKER: Revolving door lets USAID officials get jobs with major N.C. contractor.

A North Carolina nonprofit awarded billions of tax dollars over the years by the U.S. Agency for International Development keeps a revolving door swinging for former government officials while spending heavily to lobby Congress to keep the federal money pouring into its corporate treasury.

RTI International’s development work has been criticized in a litany of inspector general reports over the past decade, but the Raleigh-based organization continues getting high-profile USAID contracts and hiring former top officials from USAID.

Nearly $208 million was awarded to RTI by USAID just in 2012, so it’s no surprise that federal funding has accounted for more than three quarters of the nonprofit’s revenue between 2009 and 2011, according to financial disclosure documents.

The nonprofit spent $377,825 on lobbying in 2012, according to its tax filings, relying heavily on Cornerstone Government Affairs for lobbying services in Washington. RTI paid Cornerstone $240,000 in 2012, putting the nonprofit among Fortune 500 firms that are also Cornerstone clients, including Microsoft, Boeing and GlaxoSmithKline.
. . .

Despite the nonprofit’s near-complete failure to comply with contract regulations requiring officials to turn over regular progress and expenditure reports, USAID handed RTI three consecutive contracts between 2003 and 2011, totaling more than $400 million dollars.

“There’s obviously a lack of oversight in administration of the funds USAID is awarding,” Scott Amey, general counsel of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, told the Washington Examiner.

That may be a result of the fact that former USAID officials populate the ranks of RTI, with some running programs for the nonprofit that they oversaw at the agency. The issue raises questions about the agency’s impartiality when it comes to procurement.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

BYRON YORK: GruberGate Shines Spotlight On ObamaCare Profiteers.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi declared that Obamacare was a jobs bill? “It’s about jobs,” Pelosi said in 2011, during a news conference to mark the first anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Does it create jobs? Health insurance reform creates 4 million jobs.”

Like many other promises about Obamacare, that hasn’t worked out. But there is no doubt that Obamacare created a lot of work for at least one American — MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. Gruber’s frank admissions that he and others deceived the public about Obamacare have drawn a lot of attention in recent days. But the money that Gruber made from Obamacare raises yet another issue about his involvement in the project. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he energetically advocated a bill from which he stood to profit. And when it became law, the money rolled in.

In 2009, as Obamacare was moving its way through Senate committees, Gruber, who had achieved a measure of fame as the architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, was a paid consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. In March of that year, he received a contract for $95,000 to work on the project, and in June he received a second contract to continue that work; it was worth $297,600. Together, they comprise the “nearly $400,000” that critics have said Gruber received to work on Obamacare.

But after the bill became law, Gruber made a good deal more from it. The Affordable Care Act provided for states to set up exchanges to sell taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage. For those states that chose to do so, exchanges would have to be built from the ground up. Studies would have to be done. Contracts would be let.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Tax Revolving Door Enriches Former IRS Officials Who Cash in by Navigating Inversions Through Rules They Wrote.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR: Ex-Google lawyer nominated as patent office director.

THE UNDIGNIFIED NUDGE. If anyone needs to be nudged toward the path of proper behavior, it’s the bureaucrats and Clerisy who want to nudge us.

Let’s think about the dramatis personae of Sunstein’s account. There are, first of all, people, ordinary individuals with their heuristics, their intuitions, and their rules of thumb, with their laziness, their impulses, and their myopia. They have choices to make for themselves and their loved ones, and they make some of them well and many of them badly.

Then there are those whom Sunstein refers to as “we.” We know this, we know that, and we know better about the way ordinary people make their choices. We are the law professors and the behavioral economists who (a) understand human choosing and its foibles much better than members of the first group and (b) are in a position to design and manipulate the architecture of the choices that face ordinary folk. In other words, the members of this second group are endowed with a happy combination of power and expertise.

Of course regulators are people too. And like the rest of us, they are fallible. In the original Nudge, Sunstein engagingly confessed to many of the decisional foibles that Thaler exposed. Worse, though, is the fact that regulators are apt to make mistakes in their regulatory behavior: “For every bias identified for individuals, there is an accompanying bias in the public sphere.” Sometimes governments blunder because they feel compelled to defer to the irrationalities of ordinary people. But we all know they are perfectly capable of screwing things up on their own, whether it’s the invasion of Iraq or the rollout of Obamacare.

The difference is that when individuals make bad decisions in their own lives, they bear the cost. When members of the “nudging class” make bad decisions, they generally step through the revolving door to an even cushier job.

UPDATE: From the comments: “Sunstein et al. are concerned that the common man is not investing enough in his 401K. They attribute this to inertia, since they are unable to think of another reason why people would not make good investments against future needs. I suggest an alternate explanation: The common man is not investing in his 401K because he lacks confidence that Sunstein et al. can keep the world from blowing up before he retires, or that they can keep their hands off his retirement finds if the world does not blow up.”

LOIS LERNER TOOK THE FIFTH, but now she’s telling Politico that she did nothing wrong, and that she’s the real victim here. And note the prominent play Politico gives to alleged anti-semitic epithets, and to Lerner’s brownie-baking. So why the media-rehab operation — and that’s what this is — and why now?

But it’s nice to hear that even the Washington revolving-door apparat finds her “untouchable.” Perhaps that’s because nothing much in this story suggests that she didn’t target Tea Party groups for partisan political reasons.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Politically Connected: Ties Link Embattled Government Bank, Well-Heeled Consultants.

Among other roles, Albright Stonebridge Group helps clients with government relations and crafts messaging plans for businesses. It is not, however, a registered lobbying firm, according to records at the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks how money and lobbying affect politics.

Still, many of ASG’s top officials share a history with the Export-Import Bank and worked with the government agency in a variety of capacities.

The close ties with the Ex-Im Bank paid off for three clients that, collectively, benefited from more than $6.3 billion in financing from the bank between 2009 and 2013: Siemens AG, First Solar and Dow Chemical Co.

During that same period, Albright’s daughter, Alice Albright, was Ex-Im’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.

Sounds like another argument for my revolving door surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: The Great Obamacare Cashout: Medicare overhaul chief cashes out to CareFirst.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR: Russian Bank Hires Former Senators Trent Lott, John Breaux To Lobby Against U.S. Sanctions.

Still more support for my revolving-door surtax proposal.

HOW WASHINGTON’S REVOLVING DOOR Spurred Obama Administration’s Anti-Inversion Push. “If you were wondering why the White House suddenly took an interest in the consequences of tax inversion deals last spring, here is the reason – a pair of Wall Streeters with ties to the Obama administration made some calls on behalf of AstraZeneca which, you may recall, was trying to fend off an unwanted bid from Pfizer. Pfizer cited a tax inversion as one reason for its offer.”

So it was all about the Obama Administration taking a side in corporate maneuvering, and not about what was good for America. Color me shocked.

Hey, how about enacting my revolving-door surtax?

UPDATE: Oh, hey, and for bonus hypocrisy points, while blathering on about “economic patriotism,” the Obama Administration was actually backing a foreign company (AstraZeneca, which is British/Swedish) against an American company, Pfizer.

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: Eric Cantor Joins Wall Street Bank.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has joined the global investment bank Moelis & Co. as vice chairman and managing director, the company announced Tuesday.

Cantor, who resigned from Congress during the August recess after losing his primary in June, will also be elected to the company’s board of directors.

Cantor will focus on client development and providing strategic advice.

Initially, Cantor will be given $1.4 million in cash and stocks. He will receive a base salary of $400,000 per year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On top of that, Cantor will receive $1.6 million in incentive cash and stocks in 2015.

The contract allows Cantor to leave the company after two years without a pay penalty to “take a full-time elected or appointed position in federal government, state government, or a national party.”

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: The Hill: The Rise Of ‘Obama, Inc.’

The presidency of Barack Obama has catapulted a network of former advisers into lucrative positions.

Members of the president’s brain trust have steadily moved outside the administration in recent years, capitalizing on their association with the Obama brand to launch careers as advisors, consultants and hired guns.

“You see people not only serving as representatives of a lobbying firm but taking these very high-profile corporate jobs. I think that is becoming more common,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “Businesses understand that this is a great opportunity for them.”

I’m sure it is. It’s also another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

SHOCKER: Revolving door at regulator CFPB enables former bureaucrats to cash in at taxpayers’ expense.

Peter Carroll helped shape the mortgage regulations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until this spring. Now, Carroll is senior vice president of capital markets at Wells Fargo Home Mortgages, the largest private mortgage lender in the country.

Carroll’s colleague, Lisa Applegate, was the “Mortgage Implementation Lead,” at CFPB, and now she’s “strategic quality manager within Wells’ home lending capital markets group,” according to American Banker magazine.

Carroll’s replacement at CFPB, Patricia McClung, was recently at the National Association of Realtors (one of the largest lobbying groups in the country), and for years was an executive at failed mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

What’s remarkable about the revolving-door action at the CFPB this year is that it’s completely unremarkable for the agency.

The Democratic Congress and the Obama White House created the CFPB with its 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. The top aides to Messrs. Dodd and Frank, of course, have cashed out to K Street and Wall Street.

Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: The Hill: Regulator assailed for quick ‘spin through the revolving door.’

Still waiting for someone to introduce my revolving-door surtax. Rand Paul? Ted Cruz? Mike Lee? Marco Rubio?

Hey, how about you, Elizabeth Warren? You’re supposed to be against regulators who are in bed with industry, right?

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Derivatives regulator CFTC’s ‘revolving door’ move to industry group criticized.

An outgoing commissioner of the regulatory agency that oversees derivatives contracts will become the CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a trade group for firms that engage in derivatives transactions, according to a statement from the ISDA Wednesday.

The commissioner, Scott O’Malia, had announced his departure from the Commodity Futures Trade Commission two days earlier. O’Malia, who had previously worked as a Senate staffer for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, was a Republican nominee to the five-member CFTC.

O’Malia’s move to a trade group involved in CFTC matters drew immediate criticism from financial reform advocates. The group Better Markets wrote in a statement that “O’Malia’s spin through the revolving door is a record setter for influence peddling.”

The Obama era has just been one big advertisement for my revolving door surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: U.S. Aides Find New Door To Jobs on Campuses Dealing With Sex Crimes.

To the list of defense contractors recruiting retiring Pentagon officials, corporate law firms hiring former SEC and Justice Department officials, and trade associations signing up former senators, add another new hot recruiting field for the private sector. Universities are snapping up employees with experience related to the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which is in charge of enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

That law is best known for boosting the presence of women’s sports on college campuses, spawning a sports-bra company of the same name. Lawyers with experience related to the federal Office of Civil Rights are in high demand at the moment, though, not because of any ability coaching undergraduate soccer players or designing athletic apparel. Rather, they are being sought after for their ability to coach college administrators through the legal mine field that is the latest guidance from the Obama administration on “Title IX and Sexual Violence.”

Later this month, Valerie Simons will start a $150,000-a-year job as Title IX coordinator at the University of Colorado. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that Ms. Simons “served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Education Section, where she was the lead attorney in charge of enforcing Title IX and other civil rights laws around the U.S.” In her new position, she will report directly to the university’s chancellor.

In May of this year, Stanford announced that Catherine Criswell would join that university as its Title IX coordinator after a 19-year career at the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Harvard last year hired as its Title IX coordinator Mia Karvonides, another Department of Education Office of Civil Rights lawyer; a Harvard memo at the time reported by the Boston Globe reported that her “duties at the Office of Civil Rights included investigating post-secondary and elementary/secondary institutions for compliance with Title IX. “

More such hires are on the way.

Write complicated, intrusive regulations — then get hired by their targets to help them comply, and to use your connections with the new crop of enforcers. Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.


I am writing to you because a good friend of mine, Republican Michael Burris, is running for Congress in Missouri’s 5th Congressional District – That seat is currently held by the Honorable Emanuel “the Tea Party spit on me” Cleaver, II. You might recall that Andrew Breitbart offered, I believe, $100K for video evidence of the Tea Party spitting on Cleaver as he, Nancy Pelosi and others trolled through a D.C event a few years ago looking for trouble. The money went uncollected for lack of evidence.

I mentioned to you before that Cleaver’s Congressional wages are currently being garnished to make good on a sizable SBA loan he took out on a car wash on which he defaulted. Cleaver also chiseled out about $50 million from Obama’s ARRA stimulus back in ’09. The money was earmarked for an inner city “Green Zone,” in which thousands of decrepit houses would be weatherized, streets repaved, sidewalks rebuilt and other handouts given. The vaunted Green Zone has been an abject failure. I think some Cleaver cronies probably lined their pockets, but very few houses got weatherized because it was just too expensive and impractical. New sidewalks and repaved streets lead to dysfunctional or closed schools. There are no jobs to be had. Living conditions among inner city blacks, Cleaver’s core constituency, are worse than before Obama took office with Cleaver’s help. In short, Cleaver needs to go.

Michael is in a tough primary race against 3 other Republican candidates, 2 of whom we just learned don’t even live in the district. The third is an unknown with no campaign presence whatsoever.

Michael is a lifelong small businessman, family man, and is quietly very active in the community in and around Kansas City, Missouri. He is a fiscal conservative and adheres to the Constitution, believes in limited and responsible government, fiscal responsibility, tax reform, and other key conservative issues.

The primary is on August 5, and we are beginning a closing push. I think he’s got a very solid chance of winning the primary, but Michael needs to raise some money, and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to give him a mention. He has a great website where instapundit readers can donate, and the website includes some videos about Michael. Who says you have to be slick at reading the TelePrompter? Look what that’s gotten us. We’d love to raise $25,000.00, and I’m sure we could do with the help of instapundit readers.

Well, there you are. Here’s Michael Burris’s website. I don’t know Burris, but I do know David Vickers, who also tells me that Burris is a supporter of my revolving door surtax.

AND THE DOOR REVOLVES ONCE MORE: Ex-White House Flack Jay Carney To MSNBC? Yet another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Obama Assistant Press Secretary Goes To Work For Tom Steyer.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

EX-NSA HEAD TO MAKE BIG BUCKS IN CONSULTING, BUT SOME ARE UNHAPPY: Lawmaker Slams Ex-NSA Chief: ‘Nothing to Offer’ but State Secrets.

Keith Alexander, since stepping down from his position as National Security Administration (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command chief following last year’s mass surveillance revelations, has gotten himself in the business of cybersecurity consulting.

And not everyone’s comfortable with that. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.) yesterday published letters he sent to the “Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Clearing House—all of which Alexander reportedly has approached about his services,” according to Wired. The congressman, who sits on both the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, gave a roundabout warning to former spy chief.

It’s always disturbing when Alan Grayson says something sensible, but you know, broken clocks and all that. But if he’s serious here, he should introduce a bill to implement my revolving-door surtax.

HMM: Former head of NSA doing very well in the private sector.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

FATCAT CRONY INSIDERS — THEY’RE JUST LIKE US! Hillary Clinton Says She Isn’t ‘Truly Well Off.’ “Because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”

At one percent of the Clintons’ net worth, most Americans would consider themselves well off. But here’s how they’re struggling:

Clinton earned an $8 million advance for her 2003 book “Living History” and her publisher is rumored to have paid “significantly more” for “Hard Choices.” Additionally, Clinton reportedly earns $200,000 in speaking fees each time she makes a speech. Bill Clinton has reportedly made over $100 million in speaking fees since leaving office.

Earlier this month, Clinton caused controversy when she said she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were “dead broke” when he left the White House in 2000 and subsequently “struggled” to buy homes and pay for their daughter, Chelsea’s, education. Chelsea Clinton’s wealth also made headlines earlier this month after Politico reported she earned a $600,000 salary as a “special correspondent” for NBC News, a sum Business Insider noted seems to amount to $26,724 for each minute she was on air.

Working class all the way. She and Bill are walking, talking (for a fee) arguments for my revolving-door surtax.

Related: WaPo: Some Democrats fear Clinton’s wealth and ‘imperial image’ could be damaging in 2016. “She’s been living 30, going on 40 years with somebody bringing your coffee to you every morning. Is it more ‘Downton Abbey’ than it is America?”

ANNALS OF THE .1 PERCENT: Sen. Elizabeth Warren got $525,000 advance for new book. So here’s a new proposal, to accompany my revolving-door surtax: Book advances received by serving government officials or those less than one year out of office are taxed at 75%.

BUCKRAKING: Hillary Clinton Has Made $5 Million in Speaking Fees Since Leaving Office.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

KA-CHING: After Fed, Bernanke Offers His Wisdom, for a Big Fee. “During his eight years as steward of the world’s largest economy, Mr. Bernanke’s salary was about $200,000 a year. Now he makes that in just a few hours speaking to bankers, hedge fund billionaires and leaders of industry. This year alone, he is poised to make millions of dollars from speaking engagements.”

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.

WASHINGTON: Insurance lobby AHIP hires up John Boehner aide Brendan Buck.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

FLASH: ACTUAL JOURNALISM COMMITTED BY MSM: “Damn Right I Taped Kerry’s ‘Apartheid’ Talk,” says the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin. “And if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it in the exact same way.”

“The media is turning on President Obama,” Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Post a week ago. But don’t worry — everybody in the media-political complex will be chummy tonight at Nerdprom.


CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: How the revolving door lets Hollywood shape Obama’s trade agenda. “The revolving door between industry groups and the Obama administration’s trade shop has been busy lately. Earlier this month, we learned that assistant US Trade Representative Stan McCoy has accepted a new job with the Motion Picture Association of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, a Hollywood lobbying group. The announcement came a few weeks after the Obama administration announced it was naming a former software industry lobbyist to be deputy U.S. trade representative.” Yet another argument for imposing my Revolving-Door Surtax.

REVOLVING DOOR: Shocker: EPA official leaves for environmental group. “Lisa Garcia, former associate assistant administrator for environmental justice at the EPA, will become Earthjustice’s new vice president of litigation for health — a position created just for Garcia.” How accommodating of them.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Men and women are equally good at reading partners’ sexual satisfaction, new study finds. “Sally’s very loud — and very fake — public orgasm in the film When Harry Met Sally was her emphatic way of proving that Harry has no clue if the revolving door of women he sleeps with are satisfied or not. Although the jury is still out on one-night stands, a new study of relationships by Canadian psychologists has found that men and women are equally good at picking up on their partners’ sexual satisfaction. If you’re in a committed partnership, your lover already knows how much you’re enjoying yourself in bed — so no need to start using Sally-esque theatrics to get your point across, in other words.”

REVOLVING DOOR UPDATE: US Solicitor General’s Office, Run By Former Top MPAA Lawyer, Shockingly Sides With Broadcasters Over Aereo.

ANNALS OF THE .0001 PERCENT: Do we deserve to know how much Citigroup is paying Obama alumnus Peter Orszag? “When President Obama’s budget chief Peter Orszag left for Citigroup, it was one of the highest profile revolving-door cash-outs of the Obama administration. Now Orszag is fighting in court for special protection against standard public records laws, which would ordinarily make public how much Citigroup is paying him.”

Whatever it is, I’ll bet it’s enough to support my revolving-door surtax.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Obama appointee subsidizes electric bus company, then goes to work for it.

Another argument for my revolving-door surtax.


The long-awaited simplification of the tax code being drafted by House Republicans would slash the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent and impose a surtax on some of the nation’s wealthiest households.

Under the proposal, set for release Wednesday, the vast majority of taxpayers would see little change in the ultimate size of their tax bills, according to a nonpartisan congressional analysis of the legislation.

But the tax system would be dramatically simpler, with seven existing brackets collapsed into just two, set at 10 percent and 25 percent.

In addition, the plan would impose a 10 percent surtax on certain types of earned income over roughly $450,000 a year. The surtax would hit many salaried professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, while dodging farmers and manufacturers — as well as the super-rich, whose income often is derived primarily from interest and investments.

I’d like to see my revolving-door surtax included, as long as we’re talking surtaxes. I’ve got a few other revenue enhancements to suggest, too, if Dems think this doesn’t do enough. . . .

THE JUDICIARY STRIKES BACK: Obama, legislator-in-chief, suffers setback on illegal IRS rules.

“The IRS may not unilaterally expand its authority through such an expansive, atextual, and ahistorical reading of” the law. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit used these words in a Feb. 11 ruling that struck down an Obama administration regulation on tax preparers.

Federal judges should copy this phrase and be ready to paste it into rulings — sometimes replacing “IRS” with “Health and Human Services” — as President Obama continues to act as legislator in chief, making and amending laws as he sees fit, separation of powers be damned.

n the same week Obama illegally delayed the employer mandate and out of thin air created a bizarre loyalty oath to administer to companies suffering from Obamacare, a federal court unanimously smacked down his IRS for executive overreach.

The latest IRS case wraps in a tight ball all of the defects of Obama’s governing style — the constantly revolving door between private and public sectors, a rogue IRS, skirted ethics rules, burdensome regulations that crush Mom and Pop and favor big business, and, above all, the usurpation of Congressional prerogatives by the executive branch.


HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Sen. Mike Lee Pitches Higher Ed Reform Plan.

Plus: “Lee will introduce welfare reform this week and Head Start reform after recess, and . . . his office also has an anti-cronyism agenda in the works for this spring.” I hope he includes my anti-revolving-door surtax. Hey, it’s got bipartisan support already.