In Possibly Satiric “#EarthDay” Message, Andy Barr Butchers Teddy Roosevelt Quote, Calls for Deregulation of Environment

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April 22, 2014
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“Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. The World and the Future and your very children shall judge you according as you deal with this Sacred Trust.”

–Andy Barr (R-KY), trying to quote Teddy Roosevelt

Four hours after Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth posted an Earth Day message about Republican efforts to make it even easier for companies to dump toxic waste into our drinking water, Lexington Congressman Garland H. Barr IV posted an Earth Day message of his own — absolutely butchering a quote from Teddy Roosevelt while calling for increased privatization and deregulation... as his supporters called for the destruction of the National Parks system Roosevelt created.

First off, here’s Yarmuth’s message, which was titled “A reminder of who we’re fighting for” and went on to link to a March 24th release from his office:

SBZ floor pic

 

WASHINGTON – Holding up a bottle of Eastern Kentucky well water turned orange by mine waste contamination, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) implored his colleagues to address the public health crisis in mining communities in a speech on the House floor this afternoon.

Yarmuth’s speech came during debate of H.R. 2824, legislation to weaken federal standards that help prevent mining companies from dumping toxic mine waste into nearby streams and valleys. The House approved the bill 229-192 on a largely party-line vote.

Under this legislation, the 1983 Reagan Administration Stream Buffer Zone rule – which prohibits mining activities within 100 feet of perennial or intermittent streams – would be replaced by a 2008 Bush Administration policy that eliminates the prohibition. That policy was vacated by a federal court last month. The bill would also delay any attempts to strengthen Stream Buffer Zones rules for at least five years. The Obama Administration is currently drafting a revised Stream Buffer Zone rule.

Andy Barr, of course, voted in favor of HR 2824 in his ongoing effort to poison Kentucky voters. A pro-pollution 6th District congressman, Barr has fought over and over to protect the toxic policies of private industry rather than the people of his home state.

Where Yarmuth used Earth Day to make a serious point, Barr’s own Earth Day message veered wildly into a land of satire — or a land where irony, satire, history and intelligence have been strip-mined away leaving only a series of randomized words that create some semblance of a statement:

BarrEarthDay

Barr’s satiric Earth Day message begins with a Teddy Roosevelt quote:

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children.”

You can sort of see how Barr and his people thought that quote might be innocuous enough an expression of care for the environment without implying any actual intention to protect or preserve the environment. And because Barr apparently believes the mass of his supporters are ahistorical buffoons, quoting T.R. just seems manly… rather than laughable.

The quote Barr’s butchered is from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the Grand Canyon. And it doesn’t end with “your children’s children.”

The full quote, including the section Barr lopped off like a mountaintop, is:

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. The World and the Future and your very children shall judge you according as you deal with this Sacred Trust.

Which is likely not the message Garland H. Barr IV wants to send, given the fact his career is heavily underwritten by the greedy interests that skin the country of its beauty, its riches and poison the water people have to drink.

Underneath his butchered T.R. quote, Barr includes a message of his own:

Happy #EarthDay & #NationalParksWeek! We can protect our environment while responsibly developing our natural resources. Going forward, we must focus on promoting private sector solutions to ensure Americans have affordable energy with the least impact on the environment for decades to come.

You can almost hear Teddy vomiting as you read it.

Oh — and then there’s the first comment, a Barr supporter who writes: “Take the land back that belongs to the states , not the feds ………..”

Which is a really beautiful way for the Barr campaign to commemorate Earth Day, National Parks Week, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Congressman_Andy_Barr

NYT: With Andy Barr’s Help, Banks Cling to Bundles Holding Risk (and move toward even riskier bundles)

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April 20, 2014
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In the New York Times this weekend, Gretchen Morgenson takes a closer look at the Volcker Rule, the Dodd Frank law and the financial industry’s desperate attempt to save their risky C.L.O. market profits:

What are collateralized loan obligations, or C.L.O.s? Translated into simple English, they are bundles of mostly commercial loans that are sold in various pieces to investors. They are similar to collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.s — those instruments that imperiled so many institutions in 2008 — but C.L.O.s are simpler and in some cases less risky. The loans in C.L.O.s provide money to companies, many of them subject to leveraged buyouts, that might not receive bank funding.

The C.L.O. market is vast, much of it controlled by the Too Big To Fail banks that, if the Volcker Rule were to stand, would have to divest themselves of the market — the risk the C.L.O.s present to the financial system being too great, like the C.D.O.s that already felled ‘em.

The Volcker Rule is part of the Wall Street Reform Law and it is intended to re-instate some of the fiscal protections that keep taxpayers from footing the bill when Wall Street’s unbridled investment strategies crater south.

This — as we’ve discussed at some length here at B&P over the past few months — is where Andy Barr comes in… as Morgenson now reports in the Times:

[T]he big bank crowd contends that regulators have overreached. At a January hearing convened by the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who is its chairman, called the Volcker Rule a job destroyer that “will harm numerous of our capital markets: equity, joint ventures, C.D.O., venture capital and especially the C.L.O. market.”

Last month, that House committee passed a bill introduced by Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican, containing a provision that would allow banks to own riskier types of C.L.O.s. Mr. Barr contended that small banks in his state would suffer layoffs if they had to divest those assets.

In responding to the New York Times story, Andy Barr will likely invoke the feigned stupidity that is the cornerstone of his political career. An Ernie Fletcher Republican who once insisted to me that George W. Bush would go down in the history books as one of America’s all time greatest Presidents, Garland H. Barr IV is now parading around the 6th District as a Tea Party reformer.

Thus, Barr will say of the Times piece some variation on, if not exactly, this: “When the New York Times is attacking you, you know you’re doing something right.”

That sort of stupidity can only be called “feigned” for so long. Barr is clearly under the influence of Jeb Hensarling — as we discussed at length in February. Hensarling, the chair of the House Financial Services committee is the acolyte of Phil Gramm and Phil Gramm, of course, is one of the key architects of the the financial deregulation that led to the economic collapse of 2008.

After that collapse, Dodd Frank was passed and with it the Volcker Rule. Now, Hensarling and his acolytes are working hard to re-de-regulate the financial system. Andy Barr, who sits on Hensarling’s Financial Services Committee and the Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, is at the forefront of the erroneous arguments against the post-2008 collapse taxpayer and consumer safeguards. 

Barr claims that regulating the C.L.O. market will destroy small community banks. As is the case with much of what Andy says, that’s just not true. Morgenson explains:

And what of the argument that small banks will incur crippling losses when forced to sell their C.L.O. holdings under the Volcker Rule? Not true. Small banks simply don’t own large amounts of this paper.

Their big bank brethren do, however. Regulatory filings from year-end 2013 show that 52 banks held an estimated $81 billion in C.L.O.s. Small institutions, those with less than $50 billion in assets, held only $5.4 billion, the filings show. By contrast, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank held almost $60 billion altogether, or three-quarters of the total.

A month after Barr pushed his C.L.O. legislation to let the Too Big To Fails engage in even riskier C.L.O. trading, the very groups that had come before Barr’s committee asking for Barr’s help rewarded him with a Wall Street fundraiser.

That sort of quid pro quo legislating is nothing new, and the brazen openness of the timing (Barr pushed the legislation in early March, by late March he was in lower Manhattan picking up checks) isn’t at all surprising: Andy Barr represents the financial industry, he oversees the financial industry, he pushes legislation to help the financial industry and the financial industry pays him to do that. In 2014, that’s just how politics works.

None of this will come as much surprise if you’ve been reading along here at B&P. Andy Barr’s political debt to Hensarling, his political indebebteness to the shady players in the financial system and its more legitimate Too Big To Fail failures, and the financial industry’s inverse debt to Andy Barr when taken together and bundled up create the toxic asset that is Kentucky’s 6th District Congressman.

Previously:

Congressman_Andy_Barr

Andy Barr Raises More $$$ from Financial Industry He Oversees than from the Major City He Represents

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April 17, 2014
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Sixth District Congressman Garland H. Barr IV raised $361,000 for his campaign in the 1st Quarter of 2014. Barr raised more money in the past month from the financial industry he oversees than he was able to raise over the entire quarter from Lexington, KY — the largest city in his district.

Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee, the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee and the Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Since going to Washington, the financial services industry has showered Andy Barr with cash. [link]

Cash from Too Big To Fail Banks. Cash from bailed out institutions, hedge fund profiteers, mortgage pirateers, payday lenders and… other captains of industry and masterminds of economic destruction. 

Last month, we posted about a Wall Street fundraiser for the Barr Campaign in Lower Manhattan [link, link]. The fundraiser was to be hosted by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft — a firm with deep ties to America’s Too Big To Fail financial system, and a firm that’s taken a special interest in the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform law, the Volcker Rule and something called Collateralized Loan Obligations — a way of bundling debt that’s not dissimilar to the Collateralized Debt Obligations that collapsed the American economy. 

Through mid-to-late February and into early March, Congressman Andy Barr was hard at work pushing legislation to protect Wall Street from regulation and their penchant for the largely unregulated C.L.O. market — 70% of which is controlled by the Too Big To Fail Banks that Cadwalader often represents.

In thanks for Barr’s hard work, Cadwalader planned to fete Congressman Andy at their headquarters:

Wall Street Eatin’ Andy for Lunch

That fundraiser, as you see on the invite, was scheduled for March 24th, 2014. On March 22nd, we posted Cadwalader’s invite, the fundraiser details and the background relationship of Cadwalader to Barr.

With the Barr Campaign’s 1Q financials now available, the question is now: How’d Garland Barr do? At first glance, not so great.

BarrFinancial1

Andy Barr flew all the way to NYC, stayed in the Doubletree… and all he got was five grand? That doesn’t seem a very profitable venture. Perhaps the publicity of Cadwalader’s fundraiser for Barr depressed the turnout. Maybe some of the Cadwalader team had second thoughts about pouring money into the Barr campaign so soon after Barr’s push to undo parts of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Perhaps they were worried about an appearance of quid pro quo campaign giving.

Or… perhaps that five grand is only part of the story.

Combing through the rest of the disclosure, other details of the trip begin to emerge.

There’s a Peter J. Williams of Connecticut who gave $250 on March 24th. His occupation is listed by the FEC as “Information Requested” but there is a Peter J. Williams at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

And then… well, what about other monied interests in the tri-state area around the time of his visit?

BarrFinancial2

Pfizer PAC wrote a big check just days after Barr’s visit. It’s not Barr’s only check from Big PhRMA, but it did come within his NYC window. LSTA, Oakcliff Capital, Berkley Capital, Citi and CVC Credit Partners all have an interest in seeing Barr returned to DC to continue to ‘oversee’ their industry. CIT Group is a leading commercial lender and Morgan Stanley, of course, is Morgan Stanley — their check came in earlier in the month, closer to when Barr was overseeing his latest efforts to re-de-regulate the financial system.

Taking a still wider look at Barr’s 1Q reporting, we find a host of financial interests giving heavily to the Barr campaign — almost half of them in the window around Barr’s Wall Street campaign fundraiser:

BarrFinancial3

The Barr campaign filing does mark a bit of a change for Andy, a sort of financial mainstreaming of his campaign cash. Last summer Barr joined five other Congressmen — all of them on the Financial Services Committee, and all but one of them on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee — in a Joint Committee that raised nearly $45,000 for the Barr Campaign from a handful of Texas-based payday lenders, hedge funders and the like. [link]

Barr’s 2014 1Q report shows that Texas payday lending spigot hasn’t yet dried up. Cash America International PAC from Fort Worth, TX gave Barr $2,500 on February 13th.

In all — the Barr Campaign brought in at least $62,450 from his Wall Street fundraiser and the financial services industry. All but the $2,500 from Cash America came within the last month. And that total doesn’t include individual donors outside the NYC area — just the Cadwalader folks, their associates, and the financial PACs.

Andy Barr’s Wall Street haul over just the past month is considerably more than Barr was able to raise (just $51,000) over the entire quarter in Lexington, KY — his hometown and the largest city in Kentucky’s 6th District.

With more money flowing from the folks Andy Barr oversees than the ones Andy Barr represents, one has to wonder: Who’s being represented, and who’s being overlooked?

Anthany Beatty: Running for Mayor… or just running interference?

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April 16, 2014
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Anthany Beatty kicked off his campaign for Mayor last night in grand fashion: there was a mostly empty grand ballroom, a campaign platform copied from another candidate, and a giant banner on the side of a giant campaign RV with the candidate’s own name misspelled.

Oh… and Jim Newberry was there like an anchor to hold the whole campaign ship down.

The event took place at the Embassy Suites. Here’s Beatty’s RV parked outside:

That’s a purty nice RV! When you run a campaign in, say, Iowa or for, like, Governor of Kentucky and you really need to get all around a state, a nice big campaign RV is a great thing. To get around New Circle Road? Even better!

Anthany Beatty is an AnthAny. Like “Any.”

But his awesome RV is adorned (or should I say, “ordorned”) with an awesome banner that features Anthany’s face, the office he’s running for and his campaign website: www.AnthOnyBeattyforMayor.com:

The scene inside the ballroom wasn’t much better — giant space, nobody home:

Oh wait… there’s 20 or so people over in the corner!

Not a great turnout right? Nope! Former Mayor Jim Newberry says that turnout is just terrific!

As for the content of Beatty’s event — what his campaign is all about — Beatty has pegged PR exec Phil Osborne as his campaign manager. Osborne, another Newberry ally, is perhaps most famous for his work as the head of the fake grassroots/astroturf “Faces of Coal” campaign [link].

So to recap so far: Lots of money spent on empty ballroom; lots of money spent on RV; lots of money spent on erroneous banner; lots of money spent on the guy who’s in charge of all that.

Beatty’s platform is also interesting. He says that he wants to be the “Mayor of ALL Lexington”, he says that the interest in downtown development is “elitist” and, in the apparent cornerstone of his campaign,  Beatty says, “Lexington is more than downtown.”

Which is funny because if you visit his website — you know, if you can navigate around his campaign’s attempt to keep you from finding his website, you’ll be greeted by this:

And here’s a screenshot of AnthOnyBeattyForMayor.com:

Osborne’s messaging for Beatty is fascinating. First of all, the notion that Mayor Gray has ignored the rest of Lexington and focused only on downtown Lexington is silly. Either it’s the best Osborne/Beatty/Newberry can do… or it’s a placeholder as they figure out how to run a compelling campaign. Either way — the notion’s easy enough to knock down and is a laughable starting point.

More importantly, the Osborne/Beatty/Newberry campaign platform appears to be simply co-opting the platform of another Mayoral candidate — Danny Mayer. (Note to the Beatty compaign: That’s Mayer with an “e” not an “o”.)

The Mayer for Mayor campaign unveiled its platform two full weeks ago and apparently Beatty and Osborne have been reading up on it — which means they can at least spell one campaign web address correctly: http://lfucmayer.com.

If you read the Herald Leader’s coverage of Beatty’s event last night, and if you’re at all familiar with Mayer’s platform, you can clearly see that Osborne’s chosen campaign strategy hews very closely to the platform of Danny Mayer — the elitism of downtown development, the opposition to Rupp and the convention center, etc.

This morning, the Mayer campaign noted the Beatty campaign’s carbon copying:

So what’s happening here?

For starters, the primary is a month a way. There are three men running: Gray, Mayer, and Beatty. Gray maintains a serious advantage in recognition, popularity, experience, record, expertise and money.

Danny Mayer and Antho/any Beatty will have to run absolutely flawless campaigns in order to win in November, let alone win next month.

The Beatty for Mayor campaign was something of an afterthought. He jumped into the race at the last minute after a months long deliberation that also included former Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon weighing the scales. But to call that a “deliberation” is untrue… it was more like a game of chicken. No one was actually rushing into this decision.

Plenty of people knew that defeating Gray would be a very, very long shot. That’s why no one rushed to enter the race, and that’s why a month from the primary, the most ‘mainstream’ opposition campaign is disorganized. Phil Osborne knows the score and Jim Newberry just wants to settle one. In fact, that’s mostly what the Beatty campaign appears to be about… a cabal of people who lost power trying, in vain, to get it back.

Does Anthany Beatty realize this? Is he one of them, or have they convinced him to use his good name and whatever political power he does have on this race? Is Beatty running for Mayor or simply running interference?

His disorganized and sloppy campaign launch certainly raises that question. And it also raises the question of whether the money Phil Osbarne’s wasted so far should inspire Beatty to keep giving him more of it.

Team Newberry failed miserably while in office and failed miserably on the campaign trail. It’s good to see they’re getting the team back together… but it’s also worth noting that at this point, Danny Mayer’s a far more interesting opposition candidate than Anthany Beatty… in large part because at this point, Anthany Beatty’s just parroting Danny Mayer.

That, friends, is the primary question.

Andy Barr’s $6.7 Billion Vote to Balance Budget on Backs of Kentucky’s Seniors

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April 10, 2014
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The House of Representatives passed Paul Ryan’s budget this afternoon — barely. Twelve Republicans voted against it (mostly Conservatives who felt Ryan’s cuts weren’t extreme enough). Seven more and it would’ve failed.

6th District Republican Rep. Garland H. Barr IV voted with Ryan and most of the GOP. The budget would get 69% of its ‘savings’ from slashing programs — health care, Medicare, education, etc. — aimed at low and middle income Americans.

The Ryan budget is a gift to Democrats in tight races, and Elisabeth Jensen — Barr’s Democratic opponent here in the 6th — wasted no time:

“It should surprise no one that today Andy Barr once again supported a reckless budget that throws Kentucky’s working families and seniors under the bus. Andy Barr’s budget is a slap in the face that would actually end the Medicare guarantee, turn it into a voucher program, reopen the prescription drug donut hole and make seniors pay more for health care – while lining the pockets of their special interest donors. Kentuckians deserve someone who will fight for their jobs, cut spending the right way and reduce our deficit – but not on the backs of seniors and the middle class,” said Elisabeth Jensen.

Barr’s vote for the Ryan budget is a vote for slashing $6.7 Billion in existing benefits for Kentucky’s seniors.

The AARP says it will “simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage.”

Balancing the budget by shifting the costs of government to senior citizens on fixed incomes is, essentially, not that much different from a massive tax increase on these Kentuckians. The difference, of course, is that you have to pay your taxes, but with this approach, your grandmother has the “free market choice” to simply not pay for her prescriptions that she can longer afford and then possibly die… which, Andy Barr and Paul Ryan must realize, is also an effective way of lowering the cost of America’s “entitlement” programs.

 

In Video, McConnell Calls for Aggregate Limits & End to PACs

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April 9, 2014
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Last week the Supreme Court threw open the doors to even more money in politics. The McCutcheon decision eliminates aggregate campaign donation limits (previously set at $123,000). It builds on the Citizens United decision making it still easier for super wealthy individuals and interests to purchase elected offices.

The lawyers representing McCutheon cited, among the top reasons for their victory, the amicus brief of Mitch McConnell, which they called “extraordinarily helpful.” [link]

McConnell has a long history with campaign finance — early in his career he began to focus on the issue and once in the Senate made it his central expertise. (He’s led 20 filibusters to stop various campaign finance bills). This work to loosen the bowels of the big money sphincter helped propel McConnell to the Republican minority leadership. Last week’s Supreme Court decision has been hailed as “McConnell’s Triumph.” [link]

Over his now almost 30 year Senate career, McConnell’s views on campaign finance have changed in some considerable ways.

  • Once upon a time, McConnell was opposed to “dark money.”
  • Once upon a time, McConnell was in favor of shutting out Super PACs.
  • Once upon a time, McConnell was even in favor of aggregate limits.

As McConnell’s views have ‘evolved’, so too have the dynamics of the American electorate — and looking forward, those changes are likely to continue. As demographics swing, voting patterns are likely to go with them, making massive amounts of campaign money even more important to controlling elections. We all have one vote, but we don’t all have a million (or a billion) dollars.

In the video below, Mitch McConnell says, “He who crafts the rules, controls the game.” And right now, Mitch McConnell is clearly crafting the rules.

See Also:

By the Numbers:
  • Mitch McConnell currently trails his Democratic opponent, with a new poll affirming the previous ones, putting Grimes 1% point ahead. [link]
  • Mitch McConnell is less popular than President Obama in the state of Kentucky. [link]
  • Eight in ten of voters were opposed to the Citizens United decision — 85% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans and 81% of independents. [link]
  • Just 16% of Americans believe limits on total contributions to candidates are a violation of free speech rights, and 64% say they are not. [link]
  • Half of all Americans support publicly financed elections. [link]
  • 58% of Americans says we need new campaign finance laws. [link]
  • 60% of Americans wouls support “a federal law that imposes tough, new campaign finance laws for politicians, lobbyists and super PACs.” And 72% would support “tough, new anti-corruption laws.” [link]

***

“I’ve worked in the private sector and I’ve worked in the government, and the most honest, most intelligent, most hard working people I’ve ever met, have been people here. Politicians.” –Mitch McConnell. [link]

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