Saturday, 20 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

If Sports Had No Rules …

Monday, 12 August 2013 15:28 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/2427345834/in/photolist-4GuMmf-6n1ywg-6mMwtZ-5fo6H2-4wj1eE-6n1ysg-9BnxPc-4GCkY6-4RMHm2-6UtwdF-6mMxSR-4Ft3LE-9B8DHs-9BkE1R-6mRGY7-4GhcBj-4RaQuk-4Rf24W-6n5Dfs-6UDaJ3-4GuMZq-8pvNqr-9B5imR-9BpQcm-4RRTU1-9BkBDF-6UxzBY-9BsVFC-6mMxzB-6UtnLX-9B6ndH-6Uw3pq-5fBUf6-6mRKUw-6mAzg1-4RRTcU-6UACxw-6n1uPn-6mwvcM-5fXwHY-4weQHx-4RaULP-6UAZgJ-9B611D-4GGRC7-5fTHEv-6n1ueT-6n5Feo-5fGjdA-6mwpLD-6UwzKH" target="_blank"> Keith Allison / Flickr</a>)Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez. (Photo: Keith Allison / Flickr).What if the future of baseball sounded a little like this…
 
It's the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and the New York Yankees are tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates 7 to 7.
 
A-Rod is a bat, and the count is three balls and two strikes. Jeff Locke of the Pirates winds up and throws, and as his fastball flies by, A-Rod swings at it and misses.
 
"Strike three!" shouts the umpire.  
 
Rather than walk back to the dugout, A-Rod lifts his bat for the next pitch.
 
Locke throws another fastball, and with a loud crack of the bat, A-Rod knocks the ball out into the bleacher seats behind center field.
 
"Looks like the Steinbrenner family's investment is starting to pay off," says Yankees announcer John Sterling to a radio and television audience of millions.
 
"That $20 million contribution the Yankees super PAC made to Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig really helped,” Sterling adds. "When MLB changed the rules to give the Yankees five strikes while every other team only gets three. That was a brilliant business decision."
 
This is all because back in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that MLB teams can give unlimited amounts of money to MLB officials, and that teams that give the largest donations get the most generous rules.
 
Now back to today.
 
The Supreme Court has not yet extended the logic behind the Citizens United decision to Major League Baseball, although that day may come, but they certainly have extended it to the financial services and banking industries.
 
That’s where Republican Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky and the House Financial Services Committee come in.
 
Despite having little experience with the financial services industry and Wall Street when he was elected last year, John Boehner put the House freshman on the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
 
And as the New York Times points out, Barr is a, “telling example of why the panel is sometimes called ‘the cash committee’ — a place, critics say, where there are big incentives for freshmen to do special favors for the industry.”
 
Barr is only six months into his first term as a Congressman, but he’s already raised more money than pretty much anyone else in the House of Representatives, and more than $150,000 of it has come from the banksters.
 
And what does all of that money buy for the banksters and Wall Street?
 
They get an infinite number of strikes and are never thrown out of the game, and on those rare occasions when they do fail, you and I the taxpayers are  forced to be their pinch-hitters.
 
As the New York Times notes, “One afternoon in April, Mr. Barr hosted credit union lobbyists and executives in his House office just before a committee hearing, promising that he would help protect a federal tax break worth $500 million a year, the executives said. Last month, he introduced legislation to eliminate a new federal rule intended to prevent banks from issuing mortgages to customers who could not afford to repay the debt — a measure pushed by bank lobbyists who had visited his office.”
 
In other words, Congress was trying pass a rule that said bankers could not give mortgages to people who they knew could not pay them back. But giving mortgages to people who can’t pay them back is weirdly profitable for banks. So Congressman Barr gave the banks $500 million and it only cost them $150,000.
 
Buying Congressmen is the best investment you can make in modern America.
 
But Barr is not the only lawmaker on the House Financial Services Committee taking in thousands from Wall Street, and introducing favorable legislation in return.
 
The political action committees of big banks and financial service companies have donated $9.4 million to members of the Financial Services Committee in the first six months of 2013 – more in donations than to any other committee in Congress.
 
And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, has received $282,000 in donations so far this year from the banking and financial services industry.
 
Thanks to Citizens United, big banks and corporations across every realm of business in America are able to invest millions in lawmakers in Washington, and those lawmakers then give them the legislation they want.
 
Congressmen in the pockets of Big Oil introduce bills to further America’s toxic addiction to fossil fuels; Congressmen in the pockets of giant healthcare and drug companies introduce legislation to keep healthcare costs in America the highest in the world.
 
Since five Conservative justices on the Supreme Court handed down the disastrous Citizens United decision, corporations have been allowed to “rig the game”.
 
It’s not only making banking a risky business, it’s also ripping the guts out of the American democracy.
 
It’s time to stop all of the pay-offs, investments and rigged rules in Washington, and restore the integrity of American democracy.

Go to MoveToAmend.Org, and help overturn Citizens United, so that in our democracy every industry and every company has only three strikes at bat.  
 
This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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If Sports Had No Rules …

Monday, 12 August 2013 15:28 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/2427345834/in/photolist-4GuMmf-6n1ywg-6mMwtZ-5fo6H2-4wj1eE-6n1ysg-9BnxPc-4GCkY6-4RMHm2-6UtwdF-6mMxSR-4Ft3LE-9B8DHs-9BkE1R-6mRGY7-4GhcBj-4RaQuk-4Rf24W-6n5Dfs-6UDaJ3-4GuMZq-8pvNqr-9B5imR-9BpQcm-4RRTU1-9BkBDF-6UxzBY-9BsVFC-6mMxzB-6UtnLX-9B6ndH-6Uw3pq-5fBUf6-6mRKUw-6mAzg1-4RRTcU-6UACxw-6n1uPn-6mwvcM-5fXwHY-4weQHx-4RaULP-6UAZgJ-9B611D-4GGRC7-5fTHEv-6n1ueT-6n5Feo-5fGjdA-6mwpLD-6UwzKH" target="_blank"> Keith Allison / Flickr</a>)Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez. (Photo: Keith Allison / Flickr).What if the future of baseball sounded a little like this…
 
It's the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and the New York Yankees are tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates 7 to 7.
 
A-Rod is a bat, and the count is three balls and two strikes. Jeff Locke of the Pirates winds up and throws, and as his fastball flies by, A-Rod swings at it and misses.
 
"Strike three!" shouts the umpire.  
 
Rather than walk back to the dugout, A-Rod lifts his bat for the next pitch.
 
Locke throws another fastball, and with a loud crack of the bat, A-Rod knocks the ball out into the bleacher seats behind center field.
 
"Looks like the Steinbrenner family's investment is starting to pay off," says Yankees announcer John Sterling to a radio and television audience of millions.
 
"That $20 million contribution the Yankees super PAC made to Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig really helped,” Sterling adds. "When MLB changed the rules to give the Yankees five strikes while every other team only gets three. That was a brilliant business decision."
 
This is all because back in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that MLB teams can give unlimited amounts of money to MLB officials, and that teams that give the largest donations get the most generous rules.
 
Now back to today.
 
The Supreme Court has not yet extended the logic behind the Citizens United decision to Major League Baseball, although that day may come, but they certainly have extended it to the financial services and banking industries.
 
That’s where Republican Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky and the House Financial Services Committee come in.
 
Despite having little experience with the financial services industry and Wall Street when he was elected last year, John Boehner put the House freshman on the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
 
And as the New York Times points out, Barr is a, “telling example of why the panel is sometimes called ‘the cash committee’ — a place, critics say, where there are big incentives for freshmen to do special favors for the industry.”
 
Barr is only six months into his first term as a Congressman, but he’s already raised more money than pretty much anyone else in the House of Representatives, and more than $150,000 of it has come from the banksters.
 
And what does all of that money buy for the banksters and Wall Street?
 
They get an infinite number of strikes and are never thrown out of the game, and on those rare occasions when they do fail, you and I the taxpayers are  forced to be their pinch-hitters.
 
As the New York Times notes, “One afternoon in April, Mr. Barr hosted credit union lobbyists and executives in his House office just before a committee hearing, promising that he would help protect a federal tax break worth $500 million a year, the executives said. Last month, he introduced legislation to eliminate a new federal rule intended to prevent banks from issuing mortgages to customers who could not afford to repay the debt — a measure pushed by bank lobbyists who had visited his office.”
 
In other words, Congress was trying pass a rule that said bankers could not give mortgages to people who they knew could not pay them back. But giving mortgages to people who can’t pay them back is weirdly profitable for banks. So Congressman Barr gave the banks $500 million and it only cost them $150,000.
 
Buying Congressmen is the best investment you can make in modern America.
 
But Barr is not the only lawmaker on the House Financial Services Committee taking in thousands from Wall Street, and introducing favorable legislation in return.
 
The political action committees of big banks and financial service companies have donated $9.4 million to members of the Financial Services Committee in the first six months of 2013 – more in donations than to any other committee in Congress.
 
And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, has received $282,000 in donations so far this year from the banking and financial services industry.
 
Thanks to Citizens United, big banks and corporations across every realm of business in America are able to invest millions in lawmakers in Washington, and those lawmakers then give them the legislation they want.
 
Congressmen in the pockets of Big Oil introduce bills to further America’s toxic addiction to fossil fuels; Congressmen in the pockets of giant healthcare and drug companies introduce legislation to keep healthcare costs in America the highest in the world.
 
Since five Conservative justices on the Supreme Court handed down the disastrous Citizens United decision, corporations have been allowed to “rig the game”.
 
It’s not only making banking a risky business, it’s also ripping the guts out of the American democracy.
 
It’s time to stop all of the pay-offs, investments and rigged rules in Washington, and restore the integrity of American democracy.

Go to MoveToAmend.Org, and help overturn Citizens United, so that in our democracy every industry and every company has only three strikes at bat.  
 
This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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