A week and a half back I noticed a link to a story about The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hiring both a public relations firm and a lobbying firm. Finding that interesting I clicked on sent me surfing on over to Politico, where I read:
CHESS CLUB HIRES TWO FORMER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has brought on some major Missouri political heft. The St. Louis-based nonprofit has retained the public relations firm of former Sen. Jim Talent, and the lobbying firm of former Missouri Rep. Earl Thomas Coleman. According to a lobbying registration filed this week, Coleman will lobby on “opportunities for client to testify before a committee of Congress and the secure sponsorships for H. Res. 169.” The resolution H. Res 169 would designate S. Louis as the “National Chess Capital.” It was introduced by William Lacy Clay Jr. and currently has 28 co-sponsors. Sen. Claire McCaskill has introduced a Senate version of the resolution that has just one co-sponsor. “We’ve been working very diligently to try to showcase chess as a great educational tool,” said a spokesman for the chess club about their public affairs and advocacy efforts.
Having read much lately concerning lobbyists being hired to “grease the wheels” of Congress for the wealthy, the people my mother called the “Upper crust,” I thought this sounded like a good thing, with someone to lobby on behalf of We The People. I considered posting something about it, but never got around to it. Last night I noticed something on my favorite chess blog, Spraggett on Chess, “Interesting read about Rex Sinquefield.” (http://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/interesting-read-about-rex-sinquefield/) I was too tired to read the long article, but did download it, and have spent considerable time today reading many articles about the man behind the blooming of chess in St. Louis. It has been disquieting, to say the least.
It has been my experience in chess that for those who wish to “run things” in chess there has been little, if any, obstacle to their doing so. Elections are rare in chess, and I say that as someone who has played in many different state championships, and sat through many business meetings where elections have been held.
As I have grown older I have become less of a political person, to the point I could care less which bum wins. Some years ago while living in North Carolina my landlord, who was from the Great State of Virginia, mentioned that the NASCAR drive, Jeb Burton, intended on running for office in his home state of Virginia after his driving days were over. I told him all politicians were crooks and it did not matter what their party. He vehemently disagreed with me, telling me he thought Jeb was an honest man and would make a fine politician. “You mean to tell me ol’ Jeb will get down in the slime pit with the rest of ’em but come out smelling like a rose?” Everyone at the party laughed, even Will, who said, “You’ve got a point.”
About the story on Mr. Sinquefield mentioned in GM Spraggett’s post, ‘A Reporter’s Guide to Rex Sinquefield and the Show-Me Institute: What Reporters, Citizens, and Policymakers Need to Know’ (http://www.prwatch.org/files/reporters_guide_to_rex_sinquefield_0.pdf) Kevin says, “A fascinating story about a fascinating man!”
In a review, “When Moving From Rags to Riches Makes a Person Ruthless, Not Compassionate,” (http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/when-moving-from-rags-to-riches-makes-a-person-ruthless-not-compassionate/18629-when-moving-from-rags-to-riches-makes-a-person-ruthless-not-compassionate) of the 39 page PDF, Bill Berkowitz for Buzzflash at Truthout writes, “His is a legitimate “rags to riches” story. However, instead of using his millions to improve the lives of the poor, and working people, our protagonist is bullying his way to political power in pursuit of an agenda that benefits the privatizers and the rich and powerful. You probably never heard of him, you wouldn’t know him if you ran into him at a St. Louis Cardinal game at Busch Stadium, or rode in the same elevator to the top of the city’s Gateway Arch. If you live in Missouri – thereby directly effected by the way he wields his wealth — and if you want to understand how one very wealthy and powerful individual goes about the business of building influence throughout the state, consider the story of Rex Sinquefield.” Unfortunately, it gets worse…
“A Reporter’s Guide points out that two years ago, “Sinquefield told the Wall Street Journal that what he had spent so far is ‘merely the start of what he’ll spend to promote his two main interests: rolling back taxes” and what he describes as “rescuing education from teachers unions.’ He has also invested in groups working to thwart fair wages in Missouri, and undermine other long-standing union rights.”
“Key findings from the re- port include”:
— “Other states that have cut income taxes have offset the lost revenue by taxing capital gains or hiking property taxes but Sinquefield, whose vast wealth has come from investments and who owns two of the most ex- pensive mansions in the state, wants to instead hike the sales tax, which disproportionately affects working people.”
— “Sinquefield called neighboring Kansas’ steep tax cuts ‘unbelievably brilliant’ in 2012 and predicted that Missouri businesses would quickly flock across the border, but in the year following the cuts, Kansas’ economy has lagged behind most of the region, and has actually added fewer businesses than Missouri.”
“Sinquefield’s contributions have not always brought successful outcomes. He backed Todd Akin’s candidacy for the Senate, even after Akin said that women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.”
Think about that while the women’s championship is taking place at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.
From the article, “Show Me the Money: Meet the Multimillionaire Squeezing Missouri’s Schools” by Brendan Fischer and Lisa Graves, The Progressive (http://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/04/12459/show-me-money-meet-multimillionaire-squeezing-missouris-schools), Even more revealing is how Sinquefield behaved when Missouri was operating under laws to limit the amount of donations one person or group could give to influence elections. In order to bypass those clean election laws, he worked with his legal and political advisers to create more than 100 separate groups with similar names. Those multiple groups gave more, cumulatively, than Sinquefield would be able to give in his own name, technically complying with the law while actually circumventing it. That operation injected more than $2 million in disclosed donations flowing from Sinquefield during the 2008 election year, and it underscored his chess-like gamesmanship and his determination to do as he pleases. (Sinquefield is an avid chess player.)”
It bothers me that Mr. Sinquefield, “… has also invested in groups working to thwart fair wages in Missouri, and undermine other long-standing union rights.”
It makes me wonder why Rex Sinquefield and his wife have put so much money into chess. The purpose, as far as I have understood it is that they have wanted to do something for We The People. After reading the above, and more, much more, I am perplexed, wondering if they have an ulterior motive for their largess for the chess community. When reading the article, “Billionaires gather in Arizona to discuss giving,” (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/billionaires-gather-in-arizona-to-discuss-giving/) I could not help but wonder if the Sinquefields were there. After reading the article, and seeing a picture of Warren Buffett, I realized it was about a different kind of giving. Another article has just appeared (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/09/giving-pledge-meet-up_n_859495.html) concerning the “Upper crust” giving crums to We The Little People. Throughout his this is the kind of thing the crusty uppers have done to stave off revolution. Now that the Supremes have ruled corporations are people I could get in bed with the corpo’s, but that does not sound as satisfying as getting in bed with a real, living woman.
For the past few years I have looked forward to the US Chess Championships, even with some weird type formats in use. I was especially looking forward to the Championships this year because it is what is now called a “traditional” round robin format. After reading these, and other articles (do a search on any search engine -I use only http://www.startpage.com -you will find a plethora of recent articles), today, I have decided to not spend my time on the tournament. I will miss Yaz and Jen.