Our Democracy at Work

AT&T maintains a formidable presence in Washington. The company spent more than $15.8 million on Washington lobbying last year, and its lobbying spending in the first quarter of 2019 put it among the top two dozen companies, according to a POLITICO analysis of disclosure filings. AT&T has 17 in-house lobbyists and also retains nearly 30 outside lobbying firms, according to disclosure reports.

Readers need to know that AT&T owns:

•HBO and Cinemax, as part of Home Box Office Inc.

•TBS, truTV, TNT, Studio T, and TCM, as part of Turner Entertainment Networks

•Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, as part of the TBS, Inc. Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media (AYAKM) division

•CNN and HLN, as part of CNN News Group

•The websites Super Deluxe, Beme Inc., and CallToons

•DC Entertainment

•DC Films, including all of the “Batman” movies

•Turner Broadcasting International

•Turner Sports, including the website Bleacher Report and the rights to March Madness and NBA playoffs

•The CW (50%)

•Warner Bros. Animation

•Hanna-Barbera Cartoons

•Fandango Media (30%)

•Warner Bros. Consumer Products

•Warner Bros. Digital Networks

•Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures

•Warner Bros. Pictures International

•Warner Bros. Museum

•Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank

•Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden

•Warner Bros. Studio Tours

•Warner Bros. Pictures

•Warner Animation Group

•Warner Bros. Family Entertainment

•NonStop Television

•New Line Cinema

•Turner Entertainment Co.

•WaterTower Music

•Castle Rock Entertainment

•The Wolper Organization


•Blue Ribbon Content

•Warner Bros. Television

•Warner Horizon Television

•Warner Bros. Television Distribution

•Warner Bros. International Television Production


•Alloy Entertainment


•Warner Bros

Is democracy threatened by this? What happened to antitrust regulations?

 It is an age of corporatism unbridled by a government that still thinks only in terms of the printed page. How will AT&T influence our opinions not just for entertainment but for news and an understanding of reality? This is too much control over a public’s perception of the issues of daily life.

Ancient Mariner



Age of Corporatism

Everyone is aware that corporate money saturates the purpose of government – not the spirit of statesmanship or doing one’s share for liberty and justice for all. Al Franken, a popular Senator representing Minnesota who had to step down because of poor taste in humor about women, likely could win if he ran again. Franken said it was not worth it because the first five hours of every day were spent hustling donations from lobbyists, corporations and private donors. Party politics are tightly locked into the amount of money an elected official can raise. If a Senator or Representative can raise a goodly sum, he or she likely will be assigned to choice committees and even chairmanships. Part of the collapse of statesmanship is caused right up front by political parties operated to sustain party dominance and participation in plutocratic government, not ideological convictions.

When the Trans Pacific Partnership was promoted in 2016, mariner found himself juxtaposed. He believed in the future potential of the international consortium as a sign of the new international economy but could not support the fine print. Corporate trade representatives actually wrote the treaty; it was written so corporations did not necessarily have to abide by each nation’s civil rights, regulations or what was best for a nation’s economy. In other words, the TPP was written for the benefit of corporate trade and allowed modifications solely to maximize profit – the niceties of equality and cultural obligation are not part of the corporate ethos.

[Politico] How an EPA Official’s old firm earned millions fighting environmental rules:

“The nation’s biggest coal-burning power companies paid a top lobbying firm millions of dollars to fight a wide range of Obama-era environmental rules, documents obtained by POLITICO reveal — shortly before one of the firm’s partners became President Donald Trump’s top air pollution regulator,” POLITICO’s Zack Colman and Alex Guillén report. “Now that ex-partner, Bill Wehrum , is aggressively working to undo many of those same regulations at the EPA, where he is an assistant administrator in charge of issues including climate change, smog and power plants’ mercury pollution.”

“Wehrum’s past role as a utility lobbyist is well-known, but the documents reveal never-before-disclosed details of how extensively his old firm, formerly called Hunton & Williams, worked to coordinate the power industry’s strategy against the Obama administration’s regulations. Twenty-five power companies and six industry trade groups agreed to pay the firm a total of $8.2 million in 2017 alone, according to an internal summary prepared in June of that year — less than three months before Trump tapped Wehrum for his EPA post.”

–> Multiply this activity by thousands of lobbying firms spending billions to sway elected officials. Even worse, a large number of elected officials who leave office sign on with the same lobbying firms. One can make an assumption that there are three houses in Congress: The Senate, the House and the Lobby. This has led to an election process that allows only the most financially endowed individuals to campaign. Saying what sounds good to local voters, often these vows vanish immediately upon taking office.

There is an exceptional class of House representatives in the 2018 election. It will be interesting to see how they change under the pressures of fund raising as a first priority. Plutocracy is well-rooted today.

Another topic related to this post is the control of corporations over international investment, market and national solvency. Rational taxation of these multinational organizations does not exist.

Add corporatism to the pile of unsettling transitions in economics and cultural values that tumble around us.

  • If the percentage of citizens who vote regularly were 90% instead of 47%, corporatism would be controlled.

  • If a new set of legislative and election regulations were established to severely limit private donations, genuine community advocates could run for office; the House of Lobby would be limited to public debate instead of hidden pay-offs.

Ancient Mariner