Sightings from The Catbird Seat

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From: “paul stifflemire” <stifflem@hotmail.com>

To: thecatbird@the-catbird-seat.net

Subject: How appropriate

Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 08:05:54 -0700

One need not bother to read anything posted on your website beyond the quote from your hero, old honest Abe Lincoln.

For you see, my friend, old Honest Abe did more than any individual, living or dead, to shred the Constitution of the United States and subjugate the “citizens” of the United States as serfs of the federal government.

You seem to be an enemy of capitalism and of the concept of private property, economic freedom and individual rights in general. But nothing could provide more insight to your petty little mind than the fact that you think quoting Abraham Lincoln adds credibility to whatever follows.

At least be honest. Quote Marx, Lenin and Stalin, your true heroes, and let everyone see you for what you truly are. And why be hypocritical? Using a symbol you obviously detest–the American flag–merely constitutes the weakest kind of camouflage.


Paul Stifflemire

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 16:16:26 -0700 (PDT)

From: “The Catbird” <thecatbird@the-catbird-seat.net>

Subject: Re: How appropriate

To: “paul stifflemire” <stifflem@hotmail.com>

Dear Mr. Stifflemire:

Ruffled some feathers, eh?

— The Catbird

From: “paul stifflemire” <stifflem@hotmail.com>

To: thecatbird@the-catbird-seat.net

Subject: In the interest of accuracy

Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 08:19:38 -0700

You know what they say–one error of fact makes all other “facts” suspect.

Despite the fact that about 98.6% of the crap at your website is garbage, why make it easy for people to discover that you’re dishonest, lazy and perhaps stupid as well.

Charles Keating, rather than spending “the rest of his life in jail” as you state, is now free after serving the minimum on charges that were the product of hysteria and witch-hunting foisted upon the American people by the likes of you and your ilk.

Here’s the truth, in case you’d like to attempt retroting some semblance of credibility (probably impossible) to your trash site:

Charles Keating

A man who became a symbol of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, Keating’s Lincoln Savings & Loan Association was charged with selling investors millions of dollars in unsecured junk bonds that turned out to be worthless.

Keating served four years of a 10-year state sentence and a concurrent 12-year seven-month federal sentence for securities fraud. Both convictions were overturned on appeals in 1996, but three years later, he plead to four fraud counts and was sentenced to 50 months in prison, time he had already served. Today, Keating reportedly lives modestly in Phoenix in one of the homes he built as a developer of affordable real estate in the ’70s and ’80s.

The above is from ABC News, hardly a member of the vast right wing conspiracy. Note that the convictions were overturned, but that Keating, realizing that he was facing endless prosecution by a vengeful bunch of feds with bottomless pockets, decided to “plead” and end the nightmare by accepting a meaningless sentence since he had already served the time.

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 16:11:33 -0700 (PDT)

From: “The Catbird” <thecatbird@the-catbird-seat.net>

Subject: Re: In the interest of accuracy

To: “paul stifflemire” <stifflem@hotmail.com>

Dear Mr. Stifflemire:

Thank you for the information. I’ll try to update The Catbird Seat as soon as I have a chance.

In the meantime, if you would like to post your opinions on this matter in The Catbird’s Forum, please feel free to do so.

Best regards,

— The Catbird

P.S. – Who pays your salary?

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From Washington on $10 Million a Day: How Lobbyists Plunder the Nation, by Ken Silverstein:


Dollar for dollar, lobbying is a better investment than campaign contributions, one reason business spends far more on the former than on the latter.

In 1996, Philip Morris coughed up $19.6 million for lobbying programs versus $4.2 million for campaign donations (making it the leader in both categories). The same pattern holds true with other firms.

For 1996, Georgia Pacific spent $8.9 million for lobbying and handed out $527,000 in political money. Corresponding figures for AT&T are $8.4 million versus $1.8 million; for Pfizer, $8.3 million versus $775,000; for Boeing, $5.2 million versus $770,000; for ARCO, $4.3 million versus $1.4 million; for Lockheed $3.5 million versus $1.26 million; for Fedex, $3.1 million versus $578,000.

In addition to in-house efforts, most big companies spend lavishly for outside lobbying firms. Lockheed, for example, retains at least two dozen beltway lobby shops to supplement its own efforts, while Fedex has an additional 10 firms on retainer. In 1996, Boeing hired seven outside lobby shops for the sole purpose of pushing renewed Most Favored Nation trade status for China, paying them a combined total of at least $160,000 for their efforts.

While corporate lobbying has long been a major force in American politics, it has also been greatly transformed during the past few decades. Today, many efforts involve stealth lobbying – the chief tactic here is mobilizing fake “grassroots” campaigns – or with indirect methods, such as buying research from friendly think tanks in order to influence Congress and public opinion.

All of this makes calculating corporate lobbying expenditures nearly impossible, though it’s safe to say that lobbying has now become a multi-billion dollar-per-year industry….

When you consider the enormous benefits bestowed on Corporate America by the White House and Congress, the big sums companies spend to win favors are revealed as chump change. Lockheed’s combined expenditures on lobbying and campaign contributions were about $5 million in 1996. That same year, Lockheed’s lobbyists, with help from other arms makers, won approval for the creation of a new $15 billion government fund that will underwrite foreign weapon sales.

In 1996, Microsoft spent less that $2 million for its combined lobbying and campaign contribution expenditures … The following year Congress awarded the company tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the sale of licenses to manufacture its software programs overseas….

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Meet America’s Unelected Branch of Government

“The locus of decision-making in the political process is rapidly shifting from politicians and civil servants to lobbyists.”

– Peter Drucker, The New Realities

. . . The straightforward cash bribe was long an accepted practice as well. J.D. Williams, a former aide to Oklahoma Senator Robert Kerr and later the founder of Williams & Jensen, explained in Legal Times:

“Back in the old days, it was a common occurrence that [lobbyists] walked around with envelopes of cash in their pockets. One time I had mistakenly given a fairly junior member of a committee the envelope for the chairman of the committee. I sensed this when I received a call from the [junior] committee member saying how nice it was, what I’d done, and thet ‘I knew we were friends, but I didn’t know we were that good.’

“For the most part, the bucks were passed in private. Only rarely did anyone get a glimpse of just how much money was rolling in. There was a high-ranking member of Ways and Means, a crusty old guy from the South who’d been there…forever. Everyone in Longworth [Home Office Building] had a little brown safe in the wall. And when he died, they opened this guy’s safe. And they took shoe box after shoe box of $100 bills out of that safe.”

This truly was a golden age of lobbying. As Campaign & Election magazine once wrote of the period, “There was a time when lobbying was strictly a backroom affair. Affable men in suits would hang around swarming, sweatyu legislative chambers, buttonholing lawmakers as they swaggered through lustrous bronzed doors, whispering in ears, slapping backs, winking knowingly. These were the same men who were always good for a free lunch, a round of cocktails, and at election time, a check from their fainthearted clients.”

Though this backroom world is far from extinct, lobbyists have been forced to develop new tactics as legal restrictions and tighter disclosure rules dampened the effectiveness of time-honored techniques. Cash bribes passed under the table were replaced by campaign checks passed across the table. In a similar transitieon, junkets have given way to “fact-finding missions,” where lawmakers give a speech or appear on a penel in exchange for room and board at some cushy resort (though lobbyists are barred from paying for frills such as Jet Skis or golfing fees.)

Producing a more profound change in strategies has been a growing public cynicism about business power, which has led corporations to disguise their direct involvement in lobbying campaigns. The most direct consequence has been an explosion of fake “grass-roots” mobilizations….

In addition to “grass-roots” activities, corporations now complement traditional lobbying with a multitude of other tricks: paying think tanks and “third party” experts to do their intellectual dirty work and testify on their behalf at public hearings and academic conferences; forming “independent”front groups to lead business-backed campaigns; hiring public relations firms to spin their message and manipulate the media….

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From When Corporations Rule the World, by David C. Korten:


Before the 1970s, business interests were represented by old-fashioned corporate lobbying organizations with straightforward names: Beer Institute, National Coal Association, Chamber of Commerce, or American Petroleum Institute. As aggressive public-interest groups succeeded in mobilizing broad-based citizen pressures on Congress, business decided that another approach was needed.

Corporations began to create their own “citizen” organizations with names and images that were carefully constructed to mask their corporate and sponsorship and their true purpose. The National Wetlands Coalition, which features a logo of a duck flying blissfully over a swamp, was sponsored by oil and gas companies and real estate developers to fight for the easing of restrictions on the conversion of wetlands into drilling sites and shopping malls. Corporate-sponsored Consumer Alert fights government regulations of product safety. Keep America Beautiful attempts to give its sponsors, the bottling industry, a green image by funding anti-litter campaigns, while those same sponsors actively fight mandatory recycling legislation. The strategy is to convince the public that litter is the responsibility of consumers – not the packaging industry.

The views of these and similar industry-sponsored groups – thirty-six of them are documented in Masks of Deception: Corporate Front Groups in America – are regularly reported in the press as the views of citizen advocates. The sole reason for thie existence is to convince the public that the corporate interest is the public interest and that labor, health, and the environment are “special” interests. The top funders of such groups include Dow Chemical, Exxon, Chevron USA, Mobil, DuPont, Ford, Phillip Morris, Pfizer, Anheuser-Busch, Monsanto, Procter & Gamble, Phillips Petroleum, AT&T, and Arco.

Business interest funded the formation of new conservative policy think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation and revived legthargic pro-establishment think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, which experienced a tenfold increase in its budget. In 1978, the Institute for Educational Affairs was formed to match corporate funders with sympathetic scholars producing research studies supporting corporate views on economic freedom….

Although many of those involved in these campaigns truly believe that they are acting in the public interest, what we are seeing is a frontal assault on democratic pluralism to advance the ideological agenda of corporate libertarianism.

Though advanced in the name of freedom and democracy, this massive abuse of corporate power mocks them both….

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Which brings us back to my friend, old honest Paul Stifflemire….

According to a quick search on the old World Wide Web, there is a Paul Stifflemire who is a Senior Policy Analyst with a THINK TANK called ALLEGHENY INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY.

Whether or not this is the same Paul Stifflemire is not certain. But, hey, what does it matter in a website where 98.6% of the crap is garbage anyway?

Here, from the Allegheny Institute’s own website, is The Truth According to Stifflemire:


The Allegheny Institute was founded in 1995 as the nation’s first think tank devoted exclusively to bringing free-market solutions to local government. The Institute supports competitive market processes in the delivery of government services, requiring governments to prove that benefits outweigh costs before embarking on public projects and evaluation of social services on an outcomes basis rather than on an inputs basis.

These principles are advanced by performing detailed accurate research on local policy issues and publishing our findings in reports and policy briefs made available to political, civic, and business leaders, individuals, and the media. However, unlike many traditional think tanks, the Allegheny Institute actively promotes its findings by providing information to local policy makers in order to get better policies implemented.

The Institute has taken a leading role in ensuring the economic vitality of our region. Our expertise in the area of economic development is shaping the way the region grows. As experts in tax increment financing and eminent domain, we are shedding a bright light on urban planning and giving a voice to property owners and taxpayers. Our advocacy of economic freedom and a better business climate and regulatory environment provides a strong counter balance to the traditional approaches in the region….

The Allegheny Institute receives tax deductible contributions from individuals and corporations, and grants from foundations.

The Allegheny Institute welcomes and appreciates financial support from individuals who share our conservative, free market, low tax, and small government philosophy.

Allegheny Institute memberships are available at three levels of support:

Supporter: $25 per year
Patron: $100-$499 per year
President’s Council: $500 and higher per year

Supporters will receive our Newsletters, weekly Policy Briefs and invitations to Institute events. Patrons will also receive copies of research reports. President’s Council will receive all of the above and also be invited to semi-annual luncheon briefings from AI staff and guest speakers….

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The following excerpts are taken from one of Allegheny Institute’s research papers that appears on their website:


Allegheny Institute Report #99-09
August 1999

© by Allegheny Institute for Public Policy. All rights reserved.

Note: The Allegheny Institute is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan educational organization. Nothing written here is to be construed as an attempt to support, endorse or oppose any candidate or proposed legislation.

Key Findings

This report rigorously examines prison privatization, a topic of considerable interest to Pennsylvania counties. The report surveys national evidence on prison privatization, examines Pennsylvania state law concerning it, and analyzes the privatization of the Delaware County prison, located in eastern Pennsylvania. The research concludes that by contracting out prison management Pennshylvania governments can improve prisons and realize cost savings while maintaining ultimate authority….

II. Prison Privatization: The Big Picture.

Private prisons have become an increasingly significant sector of corrections in the United States. In 1990, they housed little more than 3,000 prisoners. But the 1990s have seen the private prison population grow at a rate of 34.5% per year, and by 1996 private prisons held 85,201 prisoners. Private firms can trace their success in corrections management to the spiraling costs of corrections over the last two decades. … Corrections expenditures have grown at a rate three to four times inflation, forcing counties to either raise taxes or seek alternative ways to keep costs down. Increasingly, governments are turning to the private sector.

Prison privatization has taken hold across the nation because it brings several advantages over publicly run prisons. Prison privatization brings three fundamental benefits:

1. Cost Savings and Efficiencies

The very growth of private prisons, and the willingness of governments to contract with private firms, illustrates anticipated cost savings and efficiencies. According to data from the University of Florida’s Center for Studies in Criminology and Law, jail privatization yields savings of 10-20% on average.

Some of the early data on cost savings came with the study of the Hamilton County Prison near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The National Institute for Justice conducted a three-year study of this institution, comparing what the county actually paid the Corrections Corporation of America with projected costs under government management. The authors found an annual savings rate of 5.37%. Later, in 1991, Texas chartered its Sunset Advisory Commission to investigate the effectiveness of contracting in Texas’ state prisons. The commission applied a similary methodology to the National Institute for Justice, and determined cost savings of 14.35%.

In 1993 a case surfaced in Florida which allowed for cost comparisons before a contract was signed. The legislature instructed the auditor general to perform a cost analysis of building and managing two new prisons, and also issued a request for proposal (RFP) from private firms. The Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (Wackenhut) and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) responded with proposals that fell below the auditor general’s cost estimate by 10%. As a result, Florida achieved guaranteed savings by singing a contract with private firms for less that the state’s system could guarantee….

2. Less Bureaucracy, Higher Quality

Perhaps most important, privately managed prisons appear to achieve cost savings without sacrificing the quality of the institutions. A study by the Tennessee Select Oversight Committee on Corrections – which examined publicly and privately run prisons in Tennessee – found that CCA achieved a higher performance rating and still beat state facilities on cost….

For public officials, the existence of any savings (however small) achieved through privatization without sacrificing quality make contracting out an obvious choice….

3. Accountability to a Higher Standard

Third, corporations are more directly accountable than governments.

Corporations are held accountable for their performance every day on the stock market, whereas public officials (at best) only face direct evaluations on election day….

Allegheny Institute’s website is located at: www.alleghenyinstitute.org

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For more on Private Prisons, GO TO > > > Privatizing Hell

For more on Wackenhut Corporation, GO TO > > > An Octopus Named Wackenhut

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The Allegheny Institute is generous enough to provide the following links to locating other THINK TANKS, where birds of a feather nest in tax-free luxury at the rest of US TAXPAYERS’ expense:


American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI)
Atlas Foundation
Bill of Rights Institute
Buckeye Institute
Cascade Policy Institute
Cato Institute
Citizens Against Higher Taxes
Commonwealth Foundation
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Heritage Foundation
Independent Institute
John Locke Foundation
Lincoln Institute
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Nevada Policy Research Institute
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Pacific Research Institute
Pennsylvania Family Institute
Pennsylvanians for Right to Work
Pennsylvania Leadership Council
Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association
PERC-The Center for Free Market Environmentalism
Reason Foundation
Shenango Institute
Susquehanna Valley Center
Texas Public Policy Foundation
The Heartland Institute
The James Madison Institute for Public Policy Studies
The South Carolina Policy Council

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For more privatizations for profit, GO TO >>>























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Texas Prison Labor Union
Abuses In The Texas Prison System


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Originally posted July 4, 2003 by The Catbird