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Tilting at Windmills

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January 9, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

HOW TO TALK ABOUT CORRUPTION....Mark Schmitt has some framing advice for Democrats about the Abramoff affair:

This is not a lobbying scandal. It's a betrayal-of-public-trust scandal. Lobbyists have no power, no influence, until a public servant gives them power. That's what DeLay and the K Street Project was all about. What they did was to set up a system by which lobbyists who proved their loyalty in various ways, such as taking DeLay and Ney on golf trips to Scotland, could be transformed from supplicants to full partners in government.

....But every time we say "lobbying reform," we reinforce the idea that it is only the lobbyist who is the wrongdoer.

Sounds right to me. Mark promises a followup in a day or two.

Kevin Drum 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

This is not a lobbying scandal. It's a betrayal-of-public-trust scandal.

But mostly, it's a Republican scandal. That's the talking point.

Posted by: craigie on January 9, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I respectfully beg to differ.

Republicans take bribes is much more powerful than Republicans betrayed public trust. No need to sugarcoat it or to intellectuallize it.

Posted by: lib on January 9, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's a Republican corruption scandal. And we need to keep repeating this all day, every day.

Welcome back, craigie. We missed you, but while you were busy enjoying yourself, we took down Tom DeLay, wired Duke Cunningham and convinced the American public that a Democratic Congressional majority is a fine idea. No need to thank us.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Columbus, Ohio. Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party spokesman, was on the local NPR affiliate this morning. He was making the case that instead of giving ill-gotten money from Abrahamoff back to select charities, Republicans should rather be giving that money to the Democratic opponents that they defeated in elections.

Part of me went "Hell Yeah!" And part of me cringed, because he sounded like a sore loser. Not sure how most people would react to that.

Posted by: Patrick Hall on January 9, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it's an organized crime scandal. Abramoff and his fellow gangsters were engaged in thefts, shakedowns and racketeering (not to mention murder) on a grand scale, and were looting the public treasury to do it.

Posted by: Stefan on January 9, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop -

Wow, good work. The check's in the mail!

Posted by: craigie on January 9, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Giving money back is like closing the barn door after the horse already left. Money that changed hands was meant to accomplish something - it was a soft bribe, and presumably those bribes have already had the results that they were meant to buy. Giving the money back won't change that. Democrats ought to be pounding that point every day.

Posted by: ExBrit on January 9, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hate to break it, but both Republican and Democrat have been complicit in allowing Lobbyists to influence public policy. The problem is that we have a two party system where a lobbyist needs only to bribe two parties, and the rest is a done deal.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 9, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hope you didn't "forget" to sign it this time, craigie.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Republican Bribery Scandal sounds a bit harder hitting, no?

Lackoff (sp?) wasn't all that good at coming up with frames, but boy did he nail what had to be done.

BTW - what Gingrinch was good at was getting a lot of different people using the same buzzwords. That Wednesday morning Norquist meeting clearly keeps doing that for the GOP. The Democrats obviously need to do the same thing.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 9, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jon Karak: hate to break it to you, but you have no clue what is going on in Washington. Read "Off Center", then come back and discuss.

Your argument would have some validity if there were still any Democratic lobbyists working in Washington. Since Grover Norquist has spent the last 12 years ensuring that all lobbying firms exclusively hire ex-staffers of Republican congresspeople and other trusted Republicans, you are discussing a world that does not exist. Put it this way: not all Republicans are lobbyists, but all lobbyists are Republican. Please redraw your Venn diagram accordingly.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 9, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Chairman Dean shows Wolf Blister how it's done:

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...

BLITZER: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?

DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

BLITZER: Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, we got to leave it right there. Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, always speaking out bluntly, candidly.

Posted by: Stefan on January 9, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Another way of putting this: how much would you personally be willing to bet that no Democrats will be indicted as part of this bribery scandal? I'd put $100 on it, and I'm not a rich man.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 9, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Actually this is a campaign fundraising scandal. Most of the politicians did not receive personal bribes. The bribes go into campaign funds and campaign fundraising is now a 24/7/365 activity for politicians.

Lobbying is good. Permitting lobbyists to gain access and results through financial rewards is bad.

Fix campaign funding.

Posted by: jb on January 9, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK
Hate to break it, but both Republican and Democrat have been complicit in allowing Lobbyists to influence public policy.

Lobbyists are allowed to influence public policy. Indeed, its a Constitutional right for them to do so. What they aren't supposed to do is buy it outright, which is what the Republicans have allowed Jack Abramoff (and he is, I would suspect, not alone) to do.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 9, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't a case of Republicans being tempted by lobbyists, of some Republicans falling victim to the siren's call of big money and selling out the public interest.

This is about the K Street Project, where the Republican leadership weren't lobbyists' victims, but lobbyists' allies--they were actively trying to erase the line between being a lobbyist and being in government.

The Republicans under indictment weren't weak. They didn't yield to temptation. This was the plan all along. They just got caught.

Posted by: theorajones on January 9, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

http://tinyurl.com/9ljnb

OT: Anonymous trolls on the internet are now illegal. You can insult, berate, laugh at, mock, scorn, ridicule anyone you want. But you have to do it under your own name.

In fact, the overly broad "annoy" is prohibited. 2 years and big fines.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on January 9, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is the closest thing to God on this earth and all you liberals need to kneel down, pray and thank the heavenly father that he is your president...Opps! gotta go now! before I get fined for violating the anti-troll law!!
p.s. I love tbrosz, he's soooo manly!

Posted by: Troll on January 9, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money.

Go Dean!

Ok, there's one Democrat with guts. How many left to go?

Posted by: alex on January 9, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is an accountability scandal. I live in a district with a Republican Representative who did not take the bribes. One reason to oppose him is that he did not stand up for a clean party. He did not speak out against DeLay when he should have.

We need to make this issue broader than the ten or fewer elected Republicans who will be indicted before the elections.

Posted by: reino on January 9, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Troll:Bush is the closest thing to God on this earth

If that were true, I'd become a Satanist.

Posted by: alex on January 9, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

...


The special K street interest groups.

...

Posted by: wellstoner on January 9, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I too like 'Republican Bribery Scandal'. Why should we care if it's accurate or true? Maybe we need to be more like repugs for awhile.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 9, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The American people aren't dumb. They understand it's a political scandal, and that it's mostly involving the Republicans. Don't oversell the point, if there are a few democrats who took money from Abramoff who cares, the public understands.

If you're worried that calling it a "lobbying" scandal takes the focus off the politicians, just call it a "political" scandal and there you go. "Betrayal-of-public-trust scandal" is obviously too unwieldy.

If it's really true what Dean is saying, if this really is 100% Republican, then fine, press the point. But if it's 90% Republican, don't say it's 100% Republican, that just reduces your credibility. If you speak out with credibility about a serious problem and the voters agree with you, you will unquestionably be gaining points with the voters.

Posted by: mk on January 9, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if it isn't a legislative scandal. We have created a big government system run by the worst kind of micromanaging bosses. Those bosses are in Congress and instead of allowing career bureaucrats (and most often the experts) to run programs and agencies in ways that make most efficient sense. We pile micromanaging laws on top of micromanaging laws beholden to the special interest of the month club. Lawmakers don't have enough time (or arguably brainpower) to actually understand how EVERY aspect of the government runs, but they feel they should, so they rely on lobbyists to TELL them. And then pass laws accordingly. The lobbyists are exactly the wrong people to ask. But laziness combined with the urge to micromanage has created this mess. I don't think this is a partisan problem, but a problem with the way the legislative branch views its roll.

Posted by: DC1974 on January 9, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

If you speak out with credibility about a serious problem and the voters agree with you, you will unquestionably be gaining points with the voters.

And if there's one thing we've learned in America over the last six years, it's that being credible and serious wins elections....

Posted by: Stefan on January 9, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I too like 'Republican Bribery Scandal'. Why should we care if it's accurate or true?

Because it happens to be true.

Posted by: Gregory on January 9, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

betrayal of public trust - i don't really like it. sounds a tad kerryesque. why not corruption and bribery?

Posted by: sed on January 9, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

In order for the working and lower classes, and increasingly the lower half of the middle class, to again have a voice and receive consideration in this society, a sense of community has to be restored.

While essential, alterations to the lobbying process without reforming the election campaign process, will only cause the methods of buying candidates and policies to become more subtle. The current system almost requires the candidate to be a whore.

The greed is good, survival of the fittest, and government is corrupt and incompetent philosophy, in its implementation, is self-fulfilling. Whether viewed from a religious or secular perspective, people are very capable of being greedy and callous. To capitulate to the worse angels of our nature and then assert that the negative results validate the capitulation is sophistry.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on January 9, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a betrayal of public trust.

This is a portrayal of what the entire Republican Philosophy is based on. Good-old-boy networks, cronyism, and scamming. If you're not their buddy, you're their lawful prey.

Corruption is the goal of the Republican ideology. This is the whole reason they dismantle oversight and regulation. Republican Culture of Corruption.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 9, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why not be more specific?

The Republicans sold the copyright laws to the big media companies, and they sold the bankruptcy laws to the banks and credit card companies.

Other examples (mine safety laws, forest conservation, etc.) are available.

Colin

Posted by: Colin on January 9, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans assert that this involves just a few bad apples. The Dems say it is systemic.

This morning's headlines convinced me it is systemic: "Republicans assess impact of corruption charges on '06 elections."

They don't seem concerned about any damage to the party's core, or problems with party practices, only public perception - at least as far as the elections are involved.

The entire K-Street movement was an 'election insurance' ploy, not some fundamental drive for improvement - in either the party or the country. It's how they got in trouble in the first place.

They appear to be "staying the course", and still in the wrong direction.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on January 9, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a Republican corruption scandal. And we need to keep repeating this all day, every day."
Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2006 at 12:51 PM

So that even you will begin to believe it.

It is a GOVERNMENT Corruption Scandal. Everybody's in on it. Not just repubes. Demons too.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 9, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

AND, according to Tweety it's those smarmy little staffers (not the guys and gals in Congress) who are making the corruption all possible...DREAM ON!!!

Posted by: Dancer on January 9, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

'If you're worried that calling it a "lobbying" scandal takes the focus off the politicians, just call it a "political" scandal and there you go. "Betrayal-of-public-trust scandal" is obviously too unwieldy.

If it's really true what Dean is saying, if this really is 100% Republican, then fine, press the point. But if it's 90% Republican, don't say it's 100% Republican, that just reduces your credibility. If you speak out with credibility about a serious problem and the voters agree with you, you will unquestionably be gaining points with the voters.

mk:

No, this is a 100% Republican problem. Democratic candidates may have received money from Indian tribes that Abramoff worked with (read - screwed over), but Abramoff did not give one nickel, not one penny, to a Democrat. Karl Rove came up with this fanciful way of conflating contributions received from an Indian tribe with receiving money from Abramoff. THE TWO ARE NOT THE SAME!!! Many Indian tribes give campaign contributions to both sides, in order to hedge their bets (no pun intended). Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT LET KARL ROVE PAINT THIS AS A DEMOCRATIC SCANDAL TOO!!!

Further, beyond bribery, Dems need to remind voters there is a dead body linked to Abramoff named Gus Boulis, former owner of SunCruz Casinos. He was the victim of a gangland-style hit and I'll bet you money Abramoff is eventually tied to his killing. Let's make sure the GOP is also linked to his killing.

Stephen Kriz
[BTW - this is my real name]

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 9, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

It is a GOVERNMENT Corruption Scandal. Everybody's in on it. Not just repubes. Demons too.

You haven't been keeping up, have you, Lurk? That's all right; you'll get there.

Posted by: shortstop on January 9, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

How many times will the lightweigt brains on this and other threads be taken by Republican "SPIN"?...and commentators like Blitzer (not the sharpest blade) fall right into it...they completely misrepresent the fact (as Dean pointed out) that Republicans took the money FROM ABRAMOFF and those Democrats that received contributions from the tribes are a totally different deal. That said, if there are Democrats who are involved to the same degree as Republicans who are...OFF THEY GO TOO!!!!

Posted by: Dancer on January 9, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm seeing some spin that Abramoff directed his clients to donate (some) money directly to Democrats. (See for example the Washington Post story.) How does one counter THAT spin?

Posted by: Steven Jong on January 9, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Since everyone else is putting in their party-strategist two cents here, I'll throw in mine: The way for Democrats to differentiate themselves on this issue is to remember that values is the horse here, and a better policy is the cart.

But I'll add that instead of the value being "honesty" and the Dems campaigning as saints who will clean up Washington (which voters wouldn't believe even if it was true), the value should be "common sense," portraying the Republicans not just as crooks but as selfish and out of control.

Here's part of a post at Needlenose I wrote on Friday on this topic:

. . . any legislation is going to be only a complementary part of the the real message.

Republicans haven't been beating the Democrats in elections by virtue of their brilliantly crafted policies -- they've done it by saying to Americans, "Look at our values; we're just like you" while implying saying outright that Dems are weird or weak, or both. . . . That's why I'm not just being glib when I say that common sense should be our core theme -- it's the simplest, most straightforward way of communicating, "No, we're really the ones who think the way you do."

. . . Democrats don't forget that the purpose of politics is to do things that help people and help the country. That's our "moral values" message. . . . The flip side of this message is that Republicans have forgotten that purpose -- they've lost their common sense, their fundamental compass between right and wrong. To the audience of voters we're trying to reach, that's probably a more damning accusation than saying they've broken the law ... and it's absolutely a stronger argument than saying our legislation is better than theirs.

If I was campaigning as a Democrat this year, rather than huffing and puffing about a "culture of corruption" and being the "party of reform," I'd put the issue in common-sense terms: "You know the things you're afraid would happen if you left your kids alone, unsupervised, for a couple of hours? Imagine if you left them alone for ten years ... That's the Republicans in Washington."
Posted by: Swopa on January 9, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bribery, betrayal, corruption....whatever. As long as the phrasing is always "REPUBLICAN ______ scandal"....

Call it what it is!

Posted by: A Hermit on January 9, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK
If it's really true what Dean is saying, if this really is 100% Republican, then fine, press the point.

It is, in fact, true that 100% of those who are either (1) documented as receiving money from Jack Abramoff, or (2) named in court filings concerning Abramoff as involved in bribery are Republicans.

It is, therefore, 100% correct to state that it is a 100% Republican scandal.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 9, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

How does one counter THAT spin?

by asking for proof that the money made a difference in the way votes were cast. if it did, the reps were crooks and oughta be tossed out, regardless of party.

Posted by: cleek on January 9, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

GOP Jackoff Bribery Scandal.

Short and sweet.

Posted by: lib on January 9, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't all of this Abramoff scandal about vote selling, pure and simple.

Why not call it that?

Posted by: TP on January 9, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds okay to me. Really, emphasizing "violating the public trust" is far better than sweeping "culture of corruption" statements. Violating the public trust almost bespeaks something sacred has been violated, while the "culture of corruption" almost sounds weaselish. I'd rather just point out "corruption" period and frame it through the lens "violating the public trust" and thus our expectations of what our public representatives are supposed to be doing.

We definitely need to talk up corruption all the time, because it's pervasive and undermines our strength and unity, but catchphrases like "culture of corruption" dilute the message. Just talk "corruption" and "public trust". Let's get past the lame rhetorical devices and keep things simple and to the point. People can figure out on their own that the Republican "culture" is "infected" with "corruption", and needs to be cleaned up and out.

Posted by: Jimm on January 9, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should frame the scandal as a Republicans are corrupt one. Afterall, Democrats want to control governmental power by winning majorities in both houses of Congress.

People concerned with the health and well being of our political economic system should frame the scandal as mainstream politicians are corrupt. Afterall, most politicians have compensatory personality types that require adulation, which requires money in order to campaign and win votes to validate said politicians' popularity. The money invariably has to come from self-interested sources, regardless of the politicians' actual policy preferences, who will then make demands upon the politicians to support making law in their favor. The whole process of providing utility for the commonweal has been corrupted regardless of which of the two parties is in power. I offer up the Star Wars funding as an example, voted for by Republicans and Democrats in 1999 97-3 in favor in the Senate. Democrats are beholden to the same defense contractors as Republicans for extra monies to campaign with in order to validate their popularity with voters. I suggest voters abandon both parties if they want policy in the public interest.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 9, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

And again, the issue is much much bigger than the people who took bribes.

It's the difference between crime and organized crime. Sure, the Dems may have a few crooks in their ranks, and those bums should be thrown out.

But the Republican party doesn't just have a handful of crooks. The Republican leadership was engaged in an organized criminal enterprise--they were a political machine, with K Street at its center. Lobbyists didn't get their hands on a couple of congressmen--the Party's leadership decided they were going to be the Party of the lobbyists, and erase the distinction between lobbying and governing.

It's more than just a few bad apples. It's a poisoned apple tree.

Posted by: theorajones on January 9, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

bring me money and i don't care how you get it .
bushy tail

Posted by: BUSHY TAIL on January 9, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Who exactly are the "crooks" in the Democratic ranks, theorajones?

So far I've been hearing a lot of "both sides do it", but funnily enough nobody seems to be able to actually come up with any examples of Democrats who do it. Take bribes, that is.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 9, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

By the time Rove gets done, you won't remember what party Abramoff was from?

Heard he did lots of favours for Mr. Reid....

Posted by: McAristotle on January 9, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Heard he did lots of favours for Mr. Reid....

Actually, I think it was almost $70,000 worth. But who's counting? :-)

Posted by: Dave S on January 10, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

But who's counting? :-)

Posted by: Dave S on January 10, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove's media advisors :) ....

He can hire Abramoff's firm to raise money for the ad if he wants to have extra Chutzpah!

Posted by: McAristotle on January 10, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Since when do scandals have to have anything to do with the truth? See Swift Boat. In the spirit of bipartisanship, see the first President Bush pictured as never having seen a bar code scanner before. Or Gerald Ford, surely the most athletic president we ever had, pictured as a klutz. All totally phony, and yet all with very real political ramifications.

Ergo, it's the GOP Corruption Scandal.

Posted by: Wally on January 10, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

So far I've been hearing a lot of "both sides do it", but funnily enough nobody seems to be able to actually come up with any examples of Democrats who do it.

Why would Senate Democrats have only 3 dissenting votes on the Stars Wars funding in 1999? Defense contractors $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Democrats, like Republicans, sell America's interests to war pigs. Rep. Murtha, now being cast as a peace hero, has never seen a military spending bill he did not like. He has betrayed America for lobbyists largesse, just like his Republican counterparts.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 10, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK
Why would Senate Democrats have only 3 dissenting votes on the Stars Wars funding in 1999?

Because there was a real perceived threat from rogue nations ballistic missiles and ballistic missile defense was widely perceived as a potentially useful (in the long-run) tool for combatting it. That, and jobs.

Defense contractors $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

This is true, but not primarily in the way you suggest. Defense contractors very cannily distribute subcontracting and facilities related to any project to as many congressional districts as possible to make it in the narrow, local jobs interest of as many members, in both houses, as possible to vote for any system. This means there usually needs to be a really substantive policy opposition in the district before a no vote is made on a defense procurement.

Rep. Murtha, now being cast as a peace hero, has never seen a military spending bill he did not like.

That he has come out in favor of a drawdown despite being widely regarded as pro-defense and pro-military is why Murtha is notable.

He has betrayed America for lobbyists largesse, just like his Republican counterparts.

Really? Just like? You mean there is specific evidence of a specific, direct quid pro quo? Where?

Yeah, lots of people do things that powerful lobbies want, that's no surprise. And the people that do them often get donations from those lobbies, that's no surprise either. And, yes, there may be a problem there.

But its not just like the problem with members taking outright, direct, specific bribes.

Conflating the two is just a way of minimizing the latter.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

From 2001: Lockheed
was the number two contributor to Lott's last Senate campaign and it shared
honors as top contributor to Murtha's last campaign.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 10, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't a Republican problem, nor is this a Democratic problem. Its an American problem that rots the core of our democracy. The problem is that since there are only two parties that matter in America, BOTH parties have too much power.

Choosing left or right is disgracefully inadequate to represent such a sophisticated electorate as our own. Instant runoff voting would be a better start than excoriating Republicans.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 10, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

From http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=15742

Defense companies gave candidates and leadership PACs more than $3.5 million in the first six months of the year. Because appropriations bills are first drafted in the House, the industry directed much of its money to members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Armed Service Committee, two panels with considerable influence over the defense budget. On the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, the sector gave Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) $44,500 and ranking member John Murtha (D-Pa.) $68,000. On the House Armed Services Committee, the defense sector gave $98,600 to Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and $48,500 to ranking member Ike Skelton (D-Mo.).

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and United Technologies -- the Defense Department's six largest contractors last year -- already have spent close to $19 million on lobbying in 2003.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 10, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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