Some Retail Politics, For A Change

I discovered Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va) in 2002, in a post at Armed Liberal which I titled: Why My Ostensible Party, The Democrats, Will Not Be Able To Use Bush’s Corporate History Against Him. In it, I quoted a New York Times article which explained that Moran – who carried the repulsive anti-consumer bankruptcy bill, also received a $447,000 loan ‘on favorable terms’ from MBNA – the credit card company.

He managed to explain to a meeting of opponents of the Iraq war that “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”Since then, I’ve found out that he’s managed to add to the level of outrageous behavior, as set out in an article in today’s Washington Post.

Over the years, financial, ethical and personal problems as well as physical confrontations have become Moran’s hallmark as much as his political resilience. In 1984, Moran resigned as vice mayor of Alexandria after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge related to a city garage project. He was later elected mayor, and the verdict was set aside.

In 1995, Moran shoved Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) during an argument and later apologized. In 1999, Moran’s wife filed for divorce after an early morning argument, to which police were called. In 2000, Moran grabbed an 8-year-old boy, saying the child had a gun and had demanded his car keys. A magistrate closed a complaint from the boy and his parents, taking no action.

In office, Moran has been on the defensive for accepting, among other things, an unsecured $25,000 loan from a drug company lobbyist whose bill he supported and a $447,000 debt consolidation mortgage package he received from a credit card giant whose legislation he carried.

For what it’s worth, he’s being opposed in the Democratic primary this June (which, in the gerrymandered district, is tantamount to election) by Andy Rosenberg. Rosenberg has a pretty typical resume – “…former Senate aide and lobbyist for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and drug companies…”. He’s won the endorsement of the Americans for Democratic Action.

To be honest, I don’t know enough about him…except that he’s not Jim Moran, and that sending a message to Members of Congress than behavior like Jim Moran’s will result in electoral defeat seems like a damn good thing.

His website is at www.andyrosenbergforcongress.com, and if you go there, you can donate to his campaign. If you live in the district, you can even volunteer.

Cleaning up Congress, one district at a time…

21 thoughts on “Some Retail Politics, For A Change”

  1. AL wrote:

    I discovered Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va) in 2002, in a post at Armed Liberal which I titled: Why My Ostensible Party, The Democrats, Will Not Be Able To Use Bush’s Corporate History Against Him. In it, I quoted a New York Times article which explained that Moran – who carried the repulsive anti-consumer bankruptcy bill, also received a $447,000 loan ‘on favorable terms’ from MBNA – the credit card company.

    What rubbish. There is nothing “anti-consumer” about requiring that people who voluntarily decide to enter into a contract should have to uphold their end of the bargain.

  2. Thorley, that’s nonsense. I’ve done work for banks and credit card companies, and have seen how hard they work to push their product on the – realtively uninformed – consumer.

    I’d be happy to support stricter bankruptcy filings if they were mirrored by stricter credit underwriting requirements on the part of the predatory lenders.(note that this isn’t a fully baked policy proposal, but it does suggest the direction I’d like) I’d also suggest that any changes in the law should only involve debt taken on after the law was in effect; I’d ‘grandfather’ the huge overhang of consumer debt that we’ve created and need to work off.

    A.L.

  3. Regarding Jim Moran, one lobby who didn’t pay him enough was the NRA. Today he wants to ban .50 cal sniper rifles claiming that they can take down an airplane from a mile away. Guess they weren’t able to give him some free rifles.

    Representative Jim Moran (D-VA), Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), and DC and Virginia Law Enforcement Officials Warn of Public Safety Threat Posed by Rifles That Can Penetrate Armor Plating and Destroy Aircraft

    Washington, DC – Area law enforcement and public officials warned at a 10:30 AM press conference today of the homeland security threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles and endorsed federal legislation introduced by Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) to ban these military-bred weapons. Fifty caliber sniper rifles can penetrate armor plating, pierce rail cars carrying toxic chemicals, and destroy aircraft. Currently being used by U.S. troops in Iraq, 50 caliber sniper rifles are accurate from over a mile, yet under federal law are sold in the United States with fewer restrictions than a standard handgun. Bolt-action 50 caliber sniper rifles are legal in the District of Columbia. The guns have already been banned in Los Angeles, CA. In March of this year, Contra Costa County, CA, and the New York State Assembly also voted to ban them. A vote is pending in the New York State Senate.

  4. Jim –

    I’ll note for the reading public that 1) I didn’t know his position on gun regulation when I decided he was a bad guy; 2) I think .50 caliber regulation is truly stupid – I can do most of what a .50 will do with a hot hunting round like a .475, and to my knowledge, no crime has yet been committed with a .50 (I have a basic policy tha the do the easy effective stuff first then worry about the rest); and 3) there is gun regulation that I’d be happy to accept (I’m not an absolutist, even though I do believe in the individual rights intrepretation of the 2AM).

    A.L.

  5. A.L. wrote:

    Thorley, that’s nonsense. I’ve done work for banks and credit card companies, and have seen how hard they work to push their product on the – realtively uninformed – consumer.

    I routinely get mailings from cards that I do not use informing me of their annual rates, finance charges, late fees, and payments terms. Unless you were working for a real shyster, it is highly doubtful anyone who gets a credit card can legitimately claim to be uninformed unless they were careless, in which case it is their own fault.

    I’d be happy to support stricter bankruptcy filings if they were mirrored by stricter credit underwriting requirements on the part of the predatory lenders.(note that this isn’t a fully baked policy proposal, but it does suggest the direction I’d like)

    Which the bill did.

    Lawmakers accepted an amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) that modifies the Truth in Lending Act to require credit card issuers to make disclosures regarding interest rates, monthly payments information and late fees. It also subjects Internet credit card solicitations to the same disclosure requirements.

    The House also approved another of Rep. Moran’s amendments that would require debt relief agencies to make certain disclosures to debtors. The amendment also included a debtor’s bill of rights. Lawmakers approved an amendment by Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that extends the bankruptcy code’s prohibition against discharging federal education loans to include all qualified education loans.

    The House also accepted an amendment by Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.) that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set standards for the United States Trustees in approving credit counseling agencies, counselors, and related programs and courses of instruction.

    Source:
    http://www.toolkit.cch.com/columns/finances/239-99housebankruptcy.asp

    I’d also suggest that any changes in the law should only involve debt taken on after the law was in effect; I’d ‘grandfather’ the huge overhang of consumer debt that we’ve created and need to work off.

    It is completely disingenuous to first decry a bill that would require and make it easier for more borrowers to reorganize their debt (Chapter 13) rather than dissolve it (Chapter 7) as being “anti-consumer” and then say that the same consumers need to “work off” the “huge overhang of consumer debt that we’ve created” when you opposed legislation that would reduce the government-created incentive to do just the opposite.

  6. I’d be happy to support stricter bankruptcy filings if they were mirrored by stricter credit underwriting requirements on the part of the predatory lenders.(note that this isn’t a fully baked policy proposal, but it does suggest the direction I’d like) I’d also suggest that any changes in the law should only involve debt taken on after the law was in effect; I’d ‘grandfather’ the huge overhang of consumer debt that we’ve created and need to work off.

    I’ve been “bitten.” A Visa card I held, because of membership in a purchasing club, was “transferred” to a different (Mastercard) credit card company whose lending practices and consumer exploitation have been nothing short of breathtaking. Predatory lending is one area that gets my attention, and since I happen to live in NOVA perhaps I’ll contribute some time and effort to the Rosenberg campaign. I’d love to get a little “payback” for what that Mastercard company managed to do to me in the fine print, when my attention was focussed elsewhere.

    These people are diliberately milking the public who can least afford it, for $billions$ by raising interest rates to userous levels for those who have lost their borrowing options. They are deliberately enriching themselves on the misery of others, and represent precisely what it is that many of those who hate America misidentify with the US. They are “piling up wrath” as the saying goes.

  7. I saw the Rosenberg v. Moran debate recently. I found it … underwhelming. Rosenberg gave the impression that he needs a bit more seasoning before he’s ready for Congress. Moran managed to handle Rosenberg’s constant attacks rather well, and Rosenberg seemed to lose his cool at least a few times during the debate.

    Rosenberg really needs to hold another political office and get his rookie mistakes out of the way before he ascends to Congress.

    On the more substantive side, I’m a bit uncomfortable with some of Rosenberg’s business views. In a region that depends heavily on the tech industry for many of its private-sector jobs, Rosenberg came across as distinctly anti-business, especially with his constant attack on Moran, who accepted an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    I really would prefer a Democrat in the mold of Kate Hanley or even a Republican in the mold of Connie Morella or Tom Davis, but Rosenberg and Moran, it seems, are what we’re stuck with.

    Part of the problem with living in a gerrymandered district is that I don’t feel like I get a real choice at the ballot box these days. I’m actually somewhat left of center, and the nominees available across the board are less than inspiring, although Scott Tate (from the last cycle) seemed interesting.

    –|PW|–

  8. I routinely get mailings from cards that I do not use informing me of their annual rates, finance charges, late fees, and payments terms. Unless you were working for a real shyster, it is highly doubtful anyone who gets a credit card can legitimately claim to be uninformed unless they were careless, in which case it is their own fault.

    So basically all I need to do to take advantage of you is to wait for a moment of carelessness (or induce in judiciously) and I’m home free. Is that it? Devil take the hindmost sorta thing?

  9. Thorley – all that disclosure. The lenders do it out of keen-eyed desire to make sure that their borrowers don’t overborrow?

    Or…could regulation have played a hand in it?

    A.L.

  10. Your buddies in the credit business fought tooth and nail against the law that makes them disclose their rates and fees.

    Once on a bus, I saw an ad for a credit card that stipulated in the fine print that on being accepted (large application fee), you would immediately be given a cash advance to your credit limit (large loan origination fee, usurious interest calculated from the day the card was approved). By my calculation, an applicant for this card would have been out $200 minimum even if he sent the money right back. But then, I’m a mathematician with good credit and excellent fine print reading comprehension skills. I’m not an unskilled worker looking for a credit card from the ads on a bus.

    A.L. has this one 100%. The lenders want their cake (subprime borrowers pay higher fees and rates) and to eat it too. And with enough campaign contributions, they managed.

  11. > Today he wants to ban .50 cal sniper rifles
    > …Guess they weren’t able to give him some
    > free rifles.

    Or maybe he’s just mad because his shoulder still hurts. :-)

    Oh, and A.L., here’s one sorta-conservative/sorta-libertarian who’s mostly on your side here. Even bad rules are rules, and people have some expectation in their stability as they make their financial decisions. Thus (I suppose this is the conservative side talking now) we really ought to make such changes slowly rather than abruptly.

  12. An interesting thread as far as what the traditional ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ labels can still mean. Thorley makes the sensible ‘conservative’ point that people should be careful, know what they are getting into, and live with the consequences of their decisions. A.L. (and A.L.) make the ‘liberal’ point that companies shouldn’t get a free pass from society for a business strategy based on tempting ignorant and uneducated customers to saddle themselves with debt under poor terms.

    This is the sort of debate that’s worth having; each side has merits that the other should be able to see. Most of us want society’s policies (i.e. legislation) to take heed of both points of view.

    FWIW, in this case I think the A.L.s have the better argument.

  13. Jim Moran has been a blight on the NoVa landscape for over 20 years. His 1990 campaign, which was my first on moving to Virginia, was one of the dirtiest campaigns I had ever seen. He’s a typical Tammany Hall politician, using his ethnicity and religion as a show. He would show up at our church every other October, carrying his cancer-stricken daughter up to Communion (which as a divorced and remarried man, he was ineligible for), and then disappear until the next election cycle. The WaPo article mentions several of his other travails, and their commentator Fred Hiatt called him “an embarrassment” yesterday. I will cheer (though not back) Rosenberg (a minor problem being that I disagree with virtually every one of his positions), because he is not Moron.

    That last is not a typo.

  14. Amongst the other shannigans from Mr. Moran was the $25,000 personal loan from Terry Lierman, a registered lobbyist whose clients had significant interest in legislation before congress. Low and behold, Moran becomes one of the co-sponsors of the bill which Lierman’s clients at Schering-Plough wanted though Congress.

    He’s also a first class whiner as exhibited in this WaPo article back on 22 April: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32404-2004Apr21.html
    According to Mr. Moran all the troubles concerning his unethical behavior are not due to his actions, but to Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Chapman. Seems the Chapman’s, who were formerly Moran supporters, had significant questions about his stance on Israel and had the temerity to voice their opinion publically.

    My hope is that the folks in Northern Virginia will vote this schmuck out, but I don’t think it will happen.

  15. AL wrote:

    Thorley – all that disclosure. The lenders do it out of keen-eyed desire to make sure that their borrowers don’t overborrow?
    Or…could regulation have played a hand in it?

    Like the sort of regulation that was in the 1999 Bankruptcy Reform Act as part of an amendment sponsored by Representative Jim Moran.

    Funny how AL is trying to ignore that little detail in his non-response to my earlier post.

  16. Andrew J. Lazarus wrote:

    Your buddies in the credit business fought tooth and nail against the law that makes them disclose their rates and fees.

    Right because of course we all know that such terms are never listed in a contractual agreement. Interestingly enough, the 1999 BRA so falsely vilified as being “anti-consumer” by those who think that people should not have to honor their agreements and pay their debts, actually tightened those disclosure requirements as well as providing some oversight over credit counselors and the fees charged for people who filed Chapter 13.

    Once on a bus, I saw an ad for a credit card that stipulated in the fine print that on being accepted (large application fee), you would immediately be given a cash advance to your credit limit (large loan origination fee, usurious interest calculated from the day the card was approved). By my calculation, an applicant for this card would have been out $200 minimum even if he sent the money right back. But then, I’m a mathematician with good credit and excellent fine print reading comprehension skills. I’m not an unskilled worker looking for a credit card from the ads on a bus.

    Or that hypothetic unskilled worker might have just realized that there are plenty of credit card companies that do not charge an application fee and opted for one of their cards instead or no card at all.

  17. AL is absolutely right

    one might mention that the USA only requires high school graduates to have passed algebra one, thus a poor woking-class individual might not grasp the literally exponential growth of compound intrest loans, which is learned two years later in algebra two.

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