Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why are Steroids Illegal?

March 31, 2006

In the spirit of the new MLB inquiry I am asking a very simple question:

Why are steroids illegal?

No one really seems to know.

More specifically, why is it a federal crime for me to obtain steroids with a doctors prescription for cosmetic purposes?

Steroids were legal with a physicans prescription until the 1980s.  When, for a reasons known only by the NCAA and NFL, they were deemed illegal.

If the NFL, MLB, NCAA and IOC want to ban steroids among their competitors, fine.

The MLB can ban the spit ball, the NBA says players can't stand in the key for more than three seconds and the NCAA says athletes have to make academic progress to maintain eligibility, but they are not Federal Crimes.

Why can't I go to a physician who specializes in sports medicine, get a prescription for Anavar or Decca Durabolin, get the scrip filled at Walgreens and have the physician monitor my health and usage?

Because its cheating?  Cheating against who?  Some other guy in the gym? 

I can go to a plastic surgeon and get lipo suction, implants, lifts or tucks to improve my appearance, but it is a Federal crime for me to take a pill or get an injection that will help me build muscle.

Is lipo suction cheating?  No.  So why the double standard? 

No one seems to know why.

The Pharmaceutical industry is missing out on a big market.

The sports supplement industry is a mega million dollar industry that sells powders and pills that reall don't do anything.

If big Pharm would get steroids legalized, they would take over that market and probably develop anabolics with fewer side effects.

The only reason I do not use steroids is because I don't trust substances sold on the black market and I am not in the mood to be convicted of a Federal crime.

Considering the size of the supplement and fitness industry, big Pharm should take on the NFL, NCAA and John McCain and open up a brand new market of elective pharmaceutical customers.

The Abramoff Contribution Plan: Not too impressive

January 8, 2006

So, who got all that money Jack was spreading around???

Democratic Senate Campaign Committee: $423,480

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: $354,700

Republican Congressional Campaign Committee:  $498,000

Republican Senate Campaign Committee:  $436,500

Looks like a pretty balanced contribution plan to me.

You can see a pretty good report at Capital Eye.

But, to really move the legislation, you have to get the committee members on the team.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs–

Chairman McCain:  $10,000
Vice Chair Dorgan: $28,000*

Dems–
Inouye: $6,000
Conrad $4,000*
Akaka $0
Johnson $7,250
Cantwell $10,000

Rep–
Domenici $5,350
Thomas $7,000
Smith $12,500
Murkowski $5,000
Crapo $0
Burr $0
Coburn $0

Dem Total: $55,250
Rep Total:  $39,850

Lets take a look at another Senate Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee.

Chairman Ted “Build That Bridge” Stevens received $10,750 from Verizon.

At the same time he received $16,000 from Sprint/Nextel.

And still took in $30,000 from AT&T.

Now, as we all may or may not know, these three companies have divergent interests.  They all want something a little different legislatively.

But notice, how the telcoms spread more money around on a committee chair than Abramoff.

The grand total of Abramoff money floating around D.C.–$4,434,761 from 1999-2006– is easily surpassed by what the entertainment industry has spread around D.C. for the 2006 cycle– $5,601,919.

In 2004 alone, the entertainment industry dropped $32,200,087 on Federal candidates and campaign committees.

So, if it is pretty common for one company to drop $10k+ on a committee chairman, and Hollywood will give more in two years than Abramoff does in 6, why is this guy being singled out as the epitome of all that is wrong with D.C.?

But just to make a point, lets look at the Telcos again.

Verizon $1,611,065–just to committees.
Sprint $308,100–just to committees.
SBC $1,141,024–just to committees.

Or, lets look at the Verizon Communication Good Government Club.

I didn’t take the time to do the math, but it looks like they got to 7 figures pretty fast.

So, Abramoff was just one fish in an ocean of lobbyists.  His $4,000,000 is just one bucket in that ocean.  So, why is he the poster boy for the ‘Culture of Corruption?’

*Press reports indicate higher amount.

MSM’s Short Memory: Anybody Remember Roger Tamraz? or, What was left out of Syriana

January 6, 2006

From the reporting about Jack Abramoff in the MSM, this appears to be the first time money in politics ever had a shady nexus.  With the allusions to Watergate, it appears everyone has forgotten the good old days of selling the Lincoln Bedroom, fundraisers at Buddahist temples and Roger Tamraz.

But for those of us with an internet connection and ability to type a few words into Google, the details of the Clinton’s and the DNC’s selling access in the 1990’s are free for all to see.

It was less then ten years ago when the law and lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig was in the news for its connections for none other than Roger Tamraz.

Tamraz was a naturalized U.S citizen who had a history of criminal convictions and a warrant for his arrest by Interpol who gave $300,000 to the DNC to gain access to President Clinton to sell his plan for an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea region.

Tamraz was originally rebuffed by an NSC/Interagency working group who had other pipeline plans and decided to make an end-run around the bureacrats the old fashioned way:  Big Money.

Tamraz gave enough money that then DNC chairman Don Fowler went to bat for him in the policy arena.

“Fowler complained to him over the telephone that “big oil companies were muscling out [Fowler’s] friend here Roger Tamraz, and that he intended to give this guy a fair hearing . . . .” Fowler told Bob that Sheila Heslin “was keeping consideration of Tamraz’s pipeline from being fairly considered or something like that.”

Tamraz also retained Greenberg Traurig to represent him.  Marvin Rosen, DNC Finance Chair 1995-1997, was and still is a member of the firm.  [Greenberg Traurig is back in the news again, but this time regarding Jack Abramoff.]

For $300,000, Tamraz got some quality face time with the President and some ranking staffers to go to bat for him to get around Sheila Heslin, an NSC staffer Fowler felt was in the tank for the big oil companies.

From the Senate Report:

The key to understanding why these officials found the idea
of endorsing Tamraz’s pipeline to be so attractive five months
before the presidential election may lie in Simpson’s
communications to Carter and in Carter’s own subsequent
communication with Heslin. By this point, after all, Heslin was
the principal obstacle that remained for Tamraz. Buying access
to U.S. Government officials had been comparatively easy, but
the interagency working group headed by Heslin remained opposed
to offering the official support Tamraz “desperately
need[ed].” 140 After receiving his instructions
from Simpson, therefore, it was not surprising that Carter
should continue to “follow-up” on the Tamraz issue by
contacting her at the NSC. What is particularly significant
about this contact, however, is the degree to which the two
Energy officials apparently understood this “follow-up” to
revolve around Tamraz’s campaign contributions.”

According to the WaPo, Fowler’s assesment of Heslin was correct.

“By early 1995, the U.S. oil companies operating in Azerbaijan had set up a Foreign Oil Companies group in Washington. It met with National Security Council energy expert Sheila Heslin and later with an interagency committee headed by her boss, Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger.

Government documents show that the NSC and oil companies worked together in June 1995 to forestall an attempt by Lebanese-American oil financier Roger Tamraz to promote his own pipeline from Baku to Turkey, via Armenia. Pennzoil’s Hamilton alerted NSC officials of oil company opposition to the Tamraz initiative, effectively killing any White House support for the project.”

Which brings us to what was left out of Syriana.  The “Bob” that appears in the Senate report is none other than Robert Baer the inspiration for George Clooney’s movie, Syriana.  Bob, for a while, was Tamraz’s CIA handler.  Bob, out of the field at this point, was bored and curious about the politics that dictated the policies he carried out.  [I stongly recommend reading Baer’s book.  I don’t recommend the movie.]

Bob, seeing what Tamraz was doing was curious as to why Heslin was using the CIA to dig up on Tamraz.  Bob conclusion was similar to Fowler’s and the WaPo’s.

“Heslin’s sole job, it seemed, was to carry water for an exclusive club known as the Foreign Oil Companies Group, a cover for a cartel of major petroleum companies doing business in the Caspian.  It was the same cartel that wanted dirt on Tamraz and others.  The group particularly hated Tamraz because he was a lot more agile than they were.

Another thing I learned was that Heslin wasn’t soloing.  Her boss, Deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, headed the interagency committee on Caspian oil policy, which made him in effect the government’s ambassador to the cartel, and Berger wasn’t a disinterested player.  He held $90,000 worth of stock in Amoco, probably the most influential member in the cartel and the one with the greatest reason to be wary of Tamraz.”

Baer goes on to discuss all the Caspian oil money sloshing aroung D.C. through law and lobbying firms and then tosses in this nugget, “Probably the most aggressive was Berger’s old firm, Hogan & Hartson, which put out the word that it could guarantee entree int the White House anytime.” (Pg. 243-244, See No Evil)

In the end, Tamraz didn’t get his pipeline approved by the U.S. government.

In the Senate Hearings into the matter, this line questioning sums it all up:

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: So do you think you got your money’s worth? Do you feel badly about having given the $300,000?

ROGER TAMRAZ: I think next time I’ll give $600,000.

Tamraz’s $300,000 was enough to get the president interested, the Chief of Staff, a few appointees and the Chairman of the DNC intersted, but he was out maneuvered by the Foreign Oil Companies Group, Berger and Heslin.  My guess is that $600,000 would have gotten the job done for Tamraz.

And all of the above comes from just one section of the Senate report about the 1996 elections.

What about Johnny Chung, Yogesh Gandhi, Ted Sioeng, John Huang, The Hsi Lai Temple Fundraiser, Charlie Trie, Ng Lap Seng, Warren Meddoff?  And who can forget the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes?  Obviously the MSM can.
Abramoff is not the biggest scandal since Watergate, it is what happens in D.C. everyday.  And compared to Caspian pipelines, Indian Gaming seems pretty petty.

The Crimes of Abramoff: Opposing a Postal Rate Increase

January 5, 2006

After reading the plea agreement and the “Factual Basis” for the plea agreement in attachment “A”, it looks like this is the second coming of Fitzmas.

One of the crimes was bribing “Staffer A” to oppose a postal rate increase.  What?  That’s a  crime?  I think it is a public service we should all be thankful for.  But why do we have to bribe staffers to oppose an increase in the fee imposed by a government chartered monopoly?  (Hey, Porkbusters, new strategy, take the staff of the Alaska delegation golfing!)

What is missed in the Abramoff hooplah is how the whole investigation…at
least the lobbying side of it…came about.

From the WaPo  12.29.05

“Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), the ranking Democrat on the Indian Affairs
Committee, remembers first hearing “vague complaints” about Abramoff in June
2003 from three Democratic lobbyists. The tribes had traditionally supported
Democrats, but Abramoff was capturing them for Republicans, getting them to
boost their contributions and give two-thirds to his party.”

Only in D.C. will a group of lobbyists, lobby a Dem Senator to go after a
Republican lobbyist because Republican lobbyist convinced clients to
contribute to Republicans.  In D.C., getting a donor to flip sides is the
greatest of sins.

So, if Jack would have let the Dems have a fair share of the Indian money flowing to political campaigns, the lobbyists wouldn’t have run to Dorgan, who also got some $90,000 in Abramoff related money, and Jack could have kept bilking the tribes.

What brought down Abramoff was his success.  He was getting better results
than most lobbyists and making a pile of money and sniping clients from
other firms.

And of course, getting the Indians to contribute to Republicans….on
K-Street, that is the unforgivable sin, for while most lobbying interests
are big business, their lobbyists tend to be former Democrat staffers, who
still want the Blue team to win.

My K-Street and politics education came the old fashioned way.  I saw
Liberal Democrat lobbyists stear money to candidates who consistently voted
against their clients interests.  I saw a lobbyist from a Pharmaceutical
company direct the company make a max contribution to a candidate who wanted
to crack down on the Pharmaceutical Industry’s profits and require more
stringent safety standards.

The Pharm company didn’t know what was going on.  But their lobbyist, a
part-time gay rights activist, was actually playing the marriage issue with
his company’s money.

Big businesses are waking up to what has been happening to them–the lobbyists have been ripping them off.

I also learned an unwritten rule in lobbying–don’t be too good, then everyone will have to work harder and produce results.

If you are too good, the other lobbyists will turn on you.  Remember, most
lobbyists are long removed from being a middling staffer.  Few of them come
from the campaign side and to them it is a big machine.  The ones from the
campaign side, at least Republicans, rarely end up on K-Street.  They are too
philosophically oriented, too driven to win and not urbane enough for those
whose father could buy them an internship to start moving up the D.C. ladder.  There are very few winning campaign managers running around D.C. when compared to those who come up  through the company.

For those who came in through the staff side, D.C. is a company town and
they just want to keep the money flowing and pay the mortgage and help the
party they came up through.

Abramoff broke the rules.  He cut off a source of Democrat money, got
results and stole clients.

All of which led some Dem lobbyists to complain to a Dem Senator who took Abramoff related money.

That is how messed up the place is and why I stayed on the campaign side and eventually got out of it all.

Did Abramoff break the law…at least in the parts he plead guilty to.  But
outside of SunCruz, what he did was what happens every day in D.C. and state
capitals around the nation.  Abramoff original sin was being too good,
getting to big of results and being to brash about it–and of course,
cutting Dem candidates off from the Indian Gaming campaign contribution
trough.

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January 5, 2006

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