Tag Archives: Washington DC

Group Welcomes Sen. Grassley’s Probe Of Google’s Use Of NASA Airfield


Consumer Watchdog Report Revealed How Google Bases Jet Fleet At Moffett Field

Consumer Watchdog today welcomed an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) into Google’s use of NASA’s Moffett Federal Airfield in Santa Clara County, California, near Google headquarters.

Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator, expressing concern about “troubling allegations regarding the Google fleet of aircraft housed at Moffett Airfield.”

In January 2011 Consumer Watchdog released a report, Lost in the Cloud: Google and the US Government, detailing how Google has inappropriately benefited from its ties to the Obama Administration, including how NASA’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters, was turned into a taxpayer-subsidized private airport for Google and their corporate junkets.

“Whistleblowers have questioned the benefit to the U.S. government from the Google fleet being housed at Moffett Airfield,” wrote Grassley. “Additionally, my office received allegations that Google has purchased jet fuel from the government at a discounted price, a price allegedly well below the market price due to its tax treatment.”

“Sen. Grassley is finally asking the right tough questions about Google’s sweetheart deal with NASA,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.

Read Sen. Grassley’s letter here:

Consumer Watchdog’s study found that a growing fleet of jets and helicopters based at Moffett stand ready to ferry the company’s top executives near or far, for business or pleasure, for vacations or schmoozing. The trips included at least three wintertime jaunts to the Caribbean and a trip by Google’s then chief executive Eric Schmidt to the Cannes Film Festival.  Humanitarian groups, by contrast, have been denied access to the airport.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s report, Lost in the Cloud here:

Grassley asked Bolden to respond to these questions by May 25:

  1. How did NASA arrive at the lease amount of $3.7 million per year? Does that represent a fair market rate for the lease? Which individuals at NASA and Google negotiated the lease amount?
  2. As of the date of this letter, how many aircraft owned or operated by Google are present at Moffett Airfield? Provide detailed descriptions of all aircraft.
  3. Why does Moffett Airfield house Google aircraft and when did this arrangement begin? Provide all contracts between Google, NASA, and/or the military related to aircraft and aircraft fuel at Moffett Airfield.
  4. Please describe the agreements by which Google obtains fuel for its aircraft at Moffett Airfield and provide fueling records for each aircraft over the past five years.
  5. Are any of the aircraft used to support NASA research? Provide a specific explanation regarding the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet.4
  6. Have any NASA officials flown on the Google aircraft? Please provide a list of each official and describe the nature and purpose of each trip in detail.
  7. For each aircraft owned or operated by Google, provide all flight plans and passenger manifests for each flight originating and landing at Moffett Airfield in the last five years.
  8. In the last five years, have any other aircraft owned by private companies or individuals housed aircraft at Moffett Airfield? If yes, provide a detailed description of the aircraft, the ownership of the aircraft.

Consumer Watchdog had brought its report to the attention of Congress by sending it to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and had asked him to investigate.

Sick and Tired’s Turn to Stand and Fight

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

How many times have you said or thought that? Plenty, I’ll bet. If you are like ACORN member Tamecka Pierce from Florida who suffers from lupus and serious gaps in her health care coverage, it’s a regular thing.

If you are like the ACORN members I speak with regularly, the mother who worries about her son’s asthma medicine, the partners who worry if their uninsured husbands get injured on the job, the families who face discrimination in the ambulances on the way to the hospital where a lack of insurance can take us 20 minutes farther away to a hospital that will provide care, then you know.

You are also sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Well, you aren’t alone.

Faced with a generational opportunity to fix America’s broken health care system thousands of people are joining together with Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and gathering today, June 25th, in Washington, DC. We are union leaders, healthcare workers, moms and dads, faith leaders, students, advocates, and over 900 ACORN members from around the country all coming together in the largest healthcare rally in American history! We are calling on Congress to pass a quality, affordable healthcare bill.

The sick and tired are going to halls of the well-insured and well-cared-for and telling them that now is the time to reform our healthcare system and provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

Today we are sending one clear message to our elected officials in Washington: We’ve fought too hard, come too far, and have waited too long for Congress to do too little. This fight is about quality care that people can afford, and that means a package of comprehensive benefits that gives all of us the care we need. We won’t settle for anything less.

We know the enemies of health care reform are working hard to defeat any meaningful reform. And they are being sneaky. They have to be because 72% of Americans support the centerpiece of health care reform: the Public Health Insurance Plan, the so-called “public option”. Opponents of reform say things like, “It’s too expensive.” “Now isn’t the time.” Or they rally behind the idea of buyer co-ops or state-by-state solutions. My friends, these are all stalling tactics aimed at derailing the centerpiece of any meaningful reform. Simply put, we need a robust public health insurance option and Congress needs to make it happen right now.

Because not only are we sick and tired of being sick and tired, we’re sick and tired of excuses, we’re sick and tired of delay, and we’re sick and tired of false solutions. The time is now, the momentum is with us. Now its time for us to fight and win.

Taking Action, Saving Homes, Starting the Recovery

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

It took me about 7 seconds to say that chant three times. Six seconds later another family in America entered the foreclosure process.

ACORN members know what that does to a family and to a community. So today, 300 ACORN members took over the Mitchell Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland singing and chanting as they overwhelmed the 20 or so sheriff’s deputies assigned to “protect” auctioneers from selling off foreclosed properties.

50 miles away in Washington, DC, another 120 took over two buildings on the same block where foreclosure auctions were being held.

In Baltimore, Donna Hanks, a foreclosure victim who lost her home a year ago – a home that still sits vacant in the bank’s hands today – led the action and later talked to film crews about the turmoil she is going through. “I’ve moved six times in the last year – and I have a steady, union job. Families that are losing their jobs are even worse off than I am. That’s why I came out today to help working people keep their homes.”

In Washington, ACORN members snuck into one auction disguised as prospective buyers and then joined in the protest as marchers appeared outside the building. One of the building owners, angered that his property was being used to facilitate foreclosures, kicked the auctioneer out and ACORN members proceeded to follow him around refusing to let him sell homes out from under families.

13 seconds goes by pretty fast. We’re talking four families every minute. It is no wonder that ACORN members are stiffening their spines, gritting their teeth, and fighting back in the face of the economic maelstrom engulfing the country. With Treasury Secretary Geithner announcing today the prospect of a $50 billion package of aid that addresses the crisis, we are heartened, but know that we need to take action now to keep hard-hit families in their homes and to keep pressure on our elected leaders to do the right thing.


Because it is one family every 13 seconds.

Today’s actions are the continuation of actions that ACORN members have been taking for weeks to keep families in their homes, including a coordinated Day of Action on January 15th, when members in over 25 cities blocked foreclosure actions.

As part of the campaign, ACORN members are in DC today for our annual Legislative and Political Conference talking with their Congressional representatives about the need for immediate action to get Americans back to work and save the homes of working families.

Next week we ratchet up the pressure. On February 19th, ACORN is launching the Home Defenders, a program that links members of local communities with families who have taken the courageous step of refusing to cooperate with the foreclosure process. It responds to the desperate calls for help made by one family every 13 seconds.

It echoes the sentiments of leaders like Toledo, Ohio-area Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who recently said, “stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don’t leave[.]”

The Home Defenders program is modeled on an ACORN action taken a week ago in Oakland, CA that saved the home of a West Oakland couple on the day of their eviction.

And we are partnering with the folks at Brave New Films in their launch of a new web-based resource for foreclosure victims and those in danger of foreclosure. Called Fighting For Our Homes, this is a way for people to have their own voice and tell their own stories about the foreclosure crisis – stories that show how real people and real neighborhoods are being affected.

If you want to join in the fight to get America back to work and end the foreclosure crisis in this country, you can join the Home Defenders, and sign this petition to President Obama asking for quick action. And visit Fighting For Our Homes to see foreclosure victims speaking for themselves.

Together we can get America back on her feet again.

John Edwards: They aren’t going to just give their power away

John Edwards:

This isn’t about petty politics or good intentions.

Corporate greed and influence in Washington are stealing our children’s future.

The moral test of our generation is whether we’re going to allow this broken system to go on without a fight or take on corporate greed and stand up for the middle class and American jobs before it’s too late.

They aren’t going to just give their power away.

Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that’s a fight I was born for.



John Edwards: the Fight



So Who’s Fighting who, and for What?

The assertion:

Corporate greed and influence in Washington are stealing our children’s future.

How so?

Do those “greedy corporations”  just stroll into Congress and demand that legislators, just give them concessions?

Well sometimes — but usually its much more subtle than that. Usually they just hire someone to do this convincing for them.

And those they employ, know the “behind the scenes” working of Washington quite well — They don’t become highly paid Lobbyists for nothing!

Lobbying is hard work! The stress level and the burn out rates in the Lobbying industry is high. Lobbying Firms must resort to snapping up “retiring Congressmen”, in a system known as the “revolving door”. Sometimes Lobbyists need a break too, and they go back into Politics for a spell (just ask Fred Thompson).

Lobbying Firms also have been known to recruit this country’s best talent, in places like Harvard and Princeton.  Recent graduates, are probably easier to train, and ready to “go that extra mile” in order to make a name for themselves:

from the Princeton Review Career page:

Lobbyist: Day in the Life

First and foremost, lobbyists must be adept at the art of persuasion, which is the mainstay of their job. They must figure out how to sway politicians to vote on legislation in a way that favors the interest they represent.

When normally opposing groups find a common area of interest and can present a united front they are extremely effective.

Lobbying can be direct or indirect.

Direct lobbying means actually meeting with congressmen and providing them with information pertinent to a bill being voted on. The lobbyist imparts her information with the help of graphs, charts, polls, and reports that she has hunted up or created. Needless to say, this is usually information that the politician might not otherwise have access to, that casts the matter in a light favorable to the interest the lobbyist represents.

Sometimes, lobbyists will even sit down and help a politician draft legislation that is advantageous for their interest.

Maintaining good relations with politicians who can be relied on to support the lobbyist”s interest is key. While lobbyists and their employers cannot themselves make large campaign donations to politicians, they can, and do, raise money from other sources for reelection campaigns.

Indirect lobbying, sometimes referred to as grassroots organizing, is a bit less glamorous. Grassroots lobbyists enlist the help of the community to influence politicians by writing, calling, or demonstrating on the organization”s behalf. This means long hours spent on the phone and writing letters, trying to rouse the community to get involved. These lobbyists also report to politicians about the concerns and reactions they have gotten from community members. Indirect lobbying is also done through the media. Grassroots lobbyists write articles for newspapers and magazines and appear on talk shows to generate interest in and awareness of their issues.

There are no licensing or certification requirements, but lobbyists are required to register with the state and federal governments. Most lobbyists have college degrees. A major in political science, journalism, law, communications, public relations, or economics should stand future lobbyists in good stead.

Many lobbyists also come from careers as legislators, as former politicians often capitalize on their years of government service and their connections to old pals still in office. This is the “revolving door” that recent legislation has begun to regulate.

Indeed, networking is the name of the game in lobbying, where people are hired as much for who they know as what they know. Someone who can schmooze at high levels will start his lobbying career from an accordingly high perch, while others face a long hard climb upwards.



So how are Corporations, stealing our Children’s future?

By sheer numbers and dollars spent, to block legislation, or otherwise, insert clauses to laws, helpful to their Profits Margin — and little else.  That’s what unchecked greed gets you, in a Free Market society, where Corporations make up the rules, and the People must take a back seat.

Here’s the list of the most influential power-brokers in Washington, and chances are you never even heard of them:

Top Lobbying Firms, 1998-2007

Lobbying firm – Total [retainer fees]

Patton Boggs LLP


Cassidy & Assoc


Akin, Gump et al


Van Scoyoc Assoc


Barbour, Griffith & Rogers


Williams & Jensen


Ernst & Young


Hogan & Hartson


Greenberg Traurig LLP


Quinn, Gillespie & Assoc


PMA Group


Preston, Gates et al


Verner, Liipfert et al




Holland & Knight


Alcalde & Fay


Clark & Weinstock


Timmons & Co




Washington Group


In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies.

Some special interests retain lobbying firms, many of them located along Washington’s legendary K Street; others have lobbyists working in-house.



THIS — is the “Broken System in Washington” that Edwards talks about in that Ad!

This is “the moral test of our generation”:

whether we’re going to allow this broken system to go on without a fight or take on corporate greed and stand up for the middle class and American jobs before it’s too late.

Have you every wondered why we don’t have:

– Universal Health Care

– Energy Independence

– Fair tax policy

– Fair trade policy

Well who do you think can afford to hire “enough” Lobbyists to get their way?

How much did you give to Sierra Club last year? What about the Natural Resource Defense Council? Chances are it wasn’t enough! Big Oil no doubt gave more to many of these Lobbying Firmsand yet another year slipped by, with NO REAL ACTION, toward Energy Independence, and stopping Global Warming!

That’s just Wrong!  This system of Government of our IS Broken!

When are we gonna show a little backbone — and do something about it? (that is something that Edwards often asks, too)

Those Mega-Million-dollar Lobbying Firms have “built a Wall around Washington”!  That Wall keeps out the voices and concerns of ordinary Americans like you and me!

It’s time for that Wall to come down!

Part 1



Part 2: John Edwards’ Speech: DNC Fall Meeting



We do not have to settle for a system

that protects Exxon Mobil’s Profits —

But does NOT protect the Planet!

History will judge US, on this moment,

in this Election —

Did we grow too cautious for a Campaign Check,

or Did we grow together and Protect our Planet?

Part 3



Other candidates think that to change the system you got to “work within the system” — if that approach worked, we’d already have – Universal Health Care, Energy Independence, Fair tax policy, Fair trade policy!

I guess “working the system” really only works for those who can afford to “pay to play”?

Hmmmm … maybe I should contact MY Lobbyist?

Wait a minute, who’s that?

Who’s going to Lobby for ME?

Who’s going to Fight for MY Issues?

Who’s going to “represent WE the People”

in that power-broker circus, called DC?

Who’s got the guts, and the experience to take on this “epic fight of a generation”?

That Fighter sounds like John Edwards to me!

The question is, Is America ready to step up, and help fix this Broken System?

If not now, when?


Learn more about why Lobbyist’s influence MUST be reigned in:



Edwards to the DNC: “There’s a Wall around Washington”

John Edwards frames a powerful new argument to the describe our Broken System of Government, which we put up with in Washington DC.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it well worth a listen:

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Great Imaginary, fiery rhetoric!

But what exactly is “this Wall around Washington” that Edwards says we must tear down?

Explore with me, a few ways in which the “Rhetoric Meets Reality”, after the fold, in a simple photo-essay:

Here is the the Transcript of the DNC Speech:

Edwards DNC Speech Transcript, as prepared (pdf)


Here are some the key ideas about that “Wall around Washington” that John Edwards has so keenly identified:


John Edwards:

There’s a wall around Washington and we need to take it down. The American people are on the outside.

And on the other side, on the inside, are the powerful, the well-connected and the very wealthy.

Every single day, working men and women see that wall when they have to split their bills into two piles, pay-now and pay-later;

when they watch the factory door shut for the last time;

when they see the disappointment on their son or daughter’s face when there’s no money to pay for college.

This is not okay. That wall has to come down.

That wall has taken the greatest economy on the planet and put it in jeopardy.

Too many good paying jobs are going to other places instead of your hometown. The tax code rewards wealth and not work.

CEO’s went to work on that wall to protect their huge tax cuts and loopholes and trade deals while the great divides between the haves and everybody else grow wider and wider.

It isn’t class warfare to talk about this — this is the Truth.


America needs a fighter to fix this. America needs a president who will stand up and stand proudly for working people again.


SO what is this “metaphorical Wall” ?

Is it the insular nature of the “Power Elite” attracted to the city of Washington DC itself?

Is it the Echo Chamber in DC that has no time for outside voices?

Or is it anything that prevents “We the People” from getting “True Representation” out of our Elected Officials?

   Lobbyist Influence

Indeed the Wall around Washington is all of these things,

and it stands between the People and the Change We Need!

And this Wall MUST be brought down!

I think John Edwards has it right about Washington!

Kudos, he has the guts to tell the Truth about it!

If only all Candidates were so candid!

If only the People were so honest too.