Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Takes On The Lobbyists But Harry Reid Comes To Their Rescue


"Yes, you heard me right, Rahm, no more lobbyists."

Barackstock is over, Bush is just a bogeyman you can use to scare naughty children with, and President Obama has gotten down to his first full day, starting at 8:35 am, of the Oval Office grind. So what does someone do on their first day in the Oval Office? Well, he can start by calling the leaders of the Middle East countries where problems seem to have been coming up regularly for the past three thousand-plus years: Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine. He would like the Gaza ceasefire to hold-- but apparently not enough to talk with the Hamas guys.

He's also got some home-knitting to do. If you call the U.S. concentration camp at Guantánamo "home." As he promised during the campaign, he's already working on shutting the place down and last night he let prosecutors know that he wanted a 4-month suspension of trials of detainees there. This morning a military judge suspended 5 of the unconstitutional Bush-era military commissions trials, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed's. Cool, cool.

But what I'm most excited about regarding the first day was an executive order he signed to tighten rules on lobbyists. There are few things more venal, even Inside-the-Beltway, than the blatant influence peddling that is the multibillion dollar lobbyist industry. Corporate lobbyists have perverted American democracy and made Washington a place unfriendly to the interests of American working families. A bumbling idiot like Harry Reid, who can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth these days, may claim that lobbyists are people too, but Obama made it clear that the era of "protecting narrow interests" is over-- at least at the White House. Ironically one of the most corrupt corporate hacks to have ever set foot on the Senate floor, Texas shill John Cornyn, had the gall to lecture Reid on the subject of lobbyists today. In their entire senatorial careers Reid has taken in $140,683 from lobbyists (21 years), while Cornyn, widely regarded as the biggest whore in Congress, has scooped up $189,018 from lobbyists (6 years).

Lobbyist funneled corporate money, a very bipartisan affair, still makes Congress' Culture of Corruption go round. No one who defends it should be in office-- not Mitch McConnell and not Harry Reid. Members of Congress have seen to it that lobbyists are treated as though they are the fourth branch of government. There are over 30,000 registered lobbyists in DC-- over 50 for every member of Congress-- and if you include support staff there are over 260,000 of them. Their revenues are over $2.5 billion annually. Lobbyists doled out $151,511,560 in legalized bribes to members of Congress (the ones who legalized the bribes) since 1990 and the biggest year was... 2008, during which they spent $30,873,979, corrupt Democrats reaping 56%. Not counting presidential candidates (or defeated John Sununus or Norm Colemen), the biggest congressional recipients of these bribes this year were Mitch McConnell (R-KY-$334,440), Max Baucus (D-MT-$267,011), Mary Landrieu (D-LA-$253,177), Arlen Specter (R-PA-$239,312), Tom Harkin (D-IA-$224,811), Susan Collins (R-ME-$214,849), Dick Durbin (D-IL-$198,212), John Cornyn (R-TX-$189,018) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA-$171,195).

My favorite recent book on lobbyists, one I can't stop recommending to everyone I know, is Turkmeniscam by Ken Silverstein. Random quotes I underlined:
Washington lobbyists are not generally deemed to be a group with high ethical standards, and foreign lobbyists, with their track record of working for Nazis, drug-running despots and death squad dictators, are widely thought to be the lowest type of Beltway pond scum.

...Public Citizen's Congress Watch found in 2006 that at least three dozen members of Congress have relatives who are professional lobbyists. [Those included career criminals like Tom DeLay, Ted Stevens, John Doolittle, John Murtha, and Curt Weldon, all of whom have run into legal problems over their relative's lobbying.]

...Cassidy and his colleagues [a notorious Beltway lobbying firm who have donated over $5.3 million to members of Congress who help them out] could truthfully tell perspective clients that they never failed to win an earmark for an institution that had retained them.

Reid brags about how much business he does with lobbyists. "And there's nothing wrong with that." But there is and Reid's inability to understand that disqualifies him from office. I hope voters in Nevada figure it out. Yesterday lobbyists were "munching on shrimp, oysters and beef tenderloin with a perfect indoor view of where President Barack Obama would pass on his way to the White House;" today they were slapped with some new rules that could make life tougher for them.
The orders are "aimed at establishing firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it, and to help restore that faith in government, without which we cannot deliver the changes we were sent here to make -- from rebuilding our economy and ensuring that anyone who is willing to work and find a well-paying job, to protecting and defending the United States, and promoting peace and security," Obama said.

The executive order designed to cut down the influence of lobbyists by making them "subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history."

Specifically, lobbyists working for Obama will not be allowed to work on matters they lobbied on for the previous two years. Upon leaving the Obama administration, they will not be allowed to lobby the issues they worked for during the remainder of Obama's presidency. In addition, the president instituted a ban on gifts by lobbyists to any member of his administration.

Unfortunately they can still keep giving to their hearts' content to Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. In fact, the only Senators I could find in 2008 who weren't sucking the corporate tit by way of lobbyists were Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

The two biggest lobbyist whores in the House-- both currently in trouble over ethics-- are Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and John Murtha (D-PA). Working families in America will always get a raw deal as long as lobbyists are allowed to deliver the goods for whoever will pay the highest price for their services. This was a great move on Obama's part today-- and a disgrace that Reid decided it was an issue he should push back on.

Labels: ,


At 7:16 PM, Blogger Koshem Bos said...

The problem is not lobbying; it's the money in lobbying. With a change in election financing, private sector lobbying will be the same as Sierra Club and union lobbying.

There is an added element. In a Wall Street culture, Reid feels closer to Goldman Sachs than to the Sierra Club. That's a much more difficult problem, one that no laws are going to affect.

Hamas is a terrorist organization openly advocating genocide. If you want to talk to them, you probably missed part of reality.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Connecticut Man1 said...

There are some Bloggers on the left that would toe the party line relentlessly and regardless of the candidate that they are asked to push. Thankfully those Bloggers are few and far between. (Are you reading this Dan Gerstein?)

As an indy/unaffiliated, the one thing that keeps me allied to Democratic party Bloggers (beyond just the whole reality thing) is the fact that 98% of them are working for something better than just "More Dems".

Thanks for the great post!

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I need to know where my check that Obama promised to send to us is. It should have been first order of the day, after all I have to pay my bills..or we are going to get an IOU?

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason Feingold, Sanders, and Snowe (despite being a repub) aren't bought & paid for is because they're principled. Kohl is independently wealthy....not sure about Lugar, but we all know Bayh is a corrupt little prick so the money must be coming from some corrupt source....or "daddy" which is the only reason he's in the senate in the first place.

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with the premise of that article mentioned. Israel turned Lebanon into a parking lott in 2006 and now that it is controlled by Hezbolah (Iran's proxy terrorist army) they did nothing in this war. Hezbolah was so terrified of being turned into rubble they just sat there denying any possible rocket as being theirs. Israel showed that what takes them decade to build Israel can demolish in 4 minutes. As for Harry Reid, he can go to hell, I hate him! I am waiting for Mitch to get caught in a bathroom tapping his feet (These views are not necessarily those of the blog or anyone affiliated with it).


Post a Comment

<< Home