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Tilting at Windmills

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January 16, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE BIGGER CORRUPTION PICTURE....I briefly mentioned last night that Dems might do well to tie the Republican corruption scandal to the broader theme of Republican addiction to special business interests. Greg Sargent of the American Prospect talked to some Democratic strategists about this, and they seem to agree:

Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee...."What we need to make sure we explain to voters is...'Theres a cost to this corruption, and youre paying the bill. This comes at a cost to you in the form of an $800 billion prescription drug bill, and an energy bill where your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the energy industry.'"

....Karl Agne, a senior adviser at Democracy Corps..."Pointing to the lobbying scandals becomes more potent if it's put in a larger context of Republican fealty to special interests in energy and health care, which makes it impossible for the GOP to bring about real reform on their most pressing problems."

....Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution..."So they might be better off tying Republican corruption and incompetence to their alliance with specific sectors energy and health where individuals feel burned, rather than to a larger anti-business argument."

Energy and health sure seem to be the consensus favorites here, and why not? People are pissed off about both high gasoline prices and the botched Medicare prescription bill, so why not point out exactly why the Republican approach to these issues was so lousy? It's because the Republican Party considers legislation to be a vehicle for giving special breaks to favored corporate interests rather than a vehicle to actually solve people's problems.

It might work. At the very least it has the advantage of being true.

Kevin Drum 5:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (86)

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Comments

i guess the only problem is that the dems are as corrupt as the republicans, and they know it

kevin, when are you going to give up on the idea that the dems are the only alternative?

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Rick: And just what are you thinking of?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 16, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Dems just want the option of having enough power to be corruptible; whether they would act on it is pure speculation, while with Republicans there's little left to imagination.

Posted by: foo on January 16, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

"It's because the Republican Party considers legislation to be a vehicle for giving special breaks to favored corporate interests rather than a vehicle to actually solve people's problems."

Yes, and also for Government to fail stokes the whole Government is the problem, Government can't do the job, so we need to privatize/outsource the functions it does, etc. The two goals work hand in hand: Let the whole operation become corrupt, then it won't do its job, then you can point and say "Look, we told you the Government can't do anything right."

What progressives must do is emphasize and publicize that Government can't do anything right today because of *who* is running it, not because of *what* it is. If we don't, the media and the conservatarian class will use these bunglings against Government functioning itself.

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

The central point here is that these issues can be used by people running against incumbent republicans. If I were running a congressional campaign a day would not go by when I failed to mention the Medicare drug plan.

Those of us unhappy with spineless or corrupt democratic incumbents should be looking to support fresh blood.

Posted by: JayAckroyd on January 16, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

This endless strategezing on how to present simple truths is going to hurt Democrats.

Why not just say that Republicans are a bunch of crooks?

Put a picture of tearful Cunningham, a DeLay defiant in face of indictment, and a dickless Hasert with the statement and that's it.

Sometimes it is best to tell the unvarnished truth.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Corruption has cost the economy four years of growth. Under Clinton the economy grew by 2-3% a year after inflation, or 1-2% a year per head. (If population grows 1% a year, the economy, at least measured by gross domestic product, has to grow as much just to keep even.)

Under Dubya, with government policy generally for sale to the highest bidder, the economy has barely kept up with population, at best. You can't prove corruption has caused the whole drop, but it's the best explanation I can imagine.

Posted by: duvidil on January 16, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that, in order to focus attention squarely on the Republican Party as a whole in brief sound-bite way (and deflect the "Dems do it, too" strategy) the mantra coming out of Dems mouths on this issue needs to be "Republican K Street Project," no matter what they might go on to say.

Posted by: MF on January 16, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rick: You are so manifestly wrong, and the evidence is that this is overwhelmingly this is a Republican problem. Even Republican sympathizer Kathleen Parker admits that is true, and how dangerous it would be for Repubs to hide behind a ridiculous pretense of "everyone is doing it, so what...."

I was hoping the trolls would at least have a bit of substance, not just pure rubbish (I mean, have a point as does tbrosz from time to time...)

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

What lib said...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 16, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the system in place in Defense Contracting that short-changed body armor for our troops. Armor that could have prevented over 3/4s of the Iraq fatalities according to some stories.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 16, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

....the Republican Party considers legislation to be a vehicle for giving special breaks to favored corporate interests rather than a vehicle to actually solve people's problems.

...and thus remain true to their Whig forebearers.


Posted by: kaptain kapital on January 16, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

As long as political elites equate $$$ with free speech, then we are doomed to repeat Republican-like scandals under "different management" on an embarrassing basis.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 16, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

i'll just note, in passing, since it's semi-relevant here, that i have been arguing for a long time now that dems should demand that the awful prescription drug bill be torn up on the grounds of being overly expensive and not effective.

this provides the benefit of playing against type (removing an entitlement) and helps set the stage for the tax-hike fight to come....

Posted by: howard on January 16, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

GOP=corruption:

1. Give away the country to the canal builders to float watered stock.
2. Give it away to the railroad builders to float even more watered stock.
3. Give it away to the robber barons hiding behind high tariff walls.
4. Give our oil away at Teapot Dome.
5. Let looters steal billions from our S&L's.
6. Tax breaks for the wealthy.

For them, the government is just another piggy bank for the rich. They want it all. They have no shame.

Posted by: kaptain kapital on January 16, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just say that Republicans are a bunch of crooks?

Problem is, that may go just so far. What about the Republicans who AREN'T indicted?

The trick is to find a sensible way to attach them to the same scheme of corruption. But the K Street project, together with its inherent selling out of the American public, should make the job easy.

Delay-->K Street Project-->Selling out American public.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 16, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

this is really sad. it was one thing for kerry to not immediately put a strong defense against the swiftboaters' attacks, but for the dems to dilly dally for ever on how to talk about pay for play politics of the Republicans, especially in face of overwhelming evidence of the Repubs' guilt, is truly disgusting for anyone who wants the country move in the right diretion after five years of bush misadministration.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0

let the Repubs worry about that. Let every GOP member of the congress protest that he is not a crook.

We should just say that Republicans are a bunch of crooks. That's the least we can do.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that we need to make it relevant to the average voter. That is why I submitted this LTE today on the Medicare drug plan:

Corporations Benefit from Medicare Drug Plan

There is a lot of grumbling about the new Medicare prescription drug plan. Seniors are under the gun to choose from a mind-boggling array of more than 40 insurance plans. As they try to figure out if they will benefit, seniors are bound to ask, "Who voted for this mess and why?"

Over the next decade, the drug plan will cost us $720 billion, which amounts to nearly $10,000 in taxes from an average family of four. Most of your tax money will go to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the real beneficiaries of the bill.

These industries spent tens of millions through their lobbyists for the right to write this ridiculous bill. The insurance companies all wanted a slice of the pie, and this resulted in the confusing collection of competing plans and some of the inefficiency.

For a small sliver of the cost, a much larger savings could have been provided to seniors through government price negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies. However, such bargaining was prohibited so that the pharmaceutical industry could reap maximum profits, anticipated to be a whopping $140 billion in additional revenue.

To understand why the Republicans passed this disastrous bill, we need look no further than our own Representative Tom Latham. He has collected almost $170,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since 2003, he has collected nearly $40,000 from the insurance industry and more than $32,000 from the pharmaceutical industries.

Can you guess why Latham voted for this bill and against the interests of Iowa seniors and taxpayers?

Posted by: Tom on January 16, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
the problem is the system, not just the republicans (they are simply the "most" corrupt, because they have the most power).
the reason dems have not gone after repubs on travel expenses, or gifts (or etc) is that they accept the same type of "gifts", simply from different lobyists. They don't want to upset their own "gravy train". They don't want to bring any light at all into the real problem, which is that big money has more power than the voter.
The repubs can easily present this "corruption" as if both parties are guilty of it, because it's true. The dems may not be involved with the latest scandal (abramoff), but they know that if they push it, there are many more "scandals" that can be unearthed (trips paid for by lobyists, etc).
you say that dems will do well if they tie this "scandal" to the broader theme, but that would backfire, they have just as many "special business interests" as the repubs, they are just different groups (ACLU, etc)
The big problem here is that is big business runs our government, both dem and repub!
the alternative is a third and maybe a forth party (green and libertarian maybe? with either being viable, it maght straighten out one or both of the existing parties), these parties will not stay corrupt free, but at least they will start out that way (only those in power are subject to corruption, there is no incentive to corrupt those NOT in power)
so, my point is, quit framing the solution as if only the dems can solve it, only when people start thinking "outside the box" will the real solutions emerge.

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

lib, maybe our disagreement comes down to the "good cop, bad cop" thing.

It's probably a very good thing to have a large number of Democrats just saying "The Republicans are a bunch of crooks". That would be the bad cop.

But probably Democratic candidates have to be the more careful good cop, and say, "Well, these Democrats who say Republicans are a bunch of crooks DO have a legitimate point. There never has been such a large scale illegal political operation in modern American history. But of course, my opponent really hasn't been indicted. You know, yet. But he was in there in the same club with all the official criminals, on the K Street project, selling out the public to special interests. I simply DON'T see how he can deny that -- look at his votes!"

Posted by: frankly0 on January 16, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sure why? It beats having to come up with ideas of your own.

Since Democrats can not agree on supporting universal health care (wouldn't want to stop those pharmaceutical companies from contributing), or higher taxes on the wealthy to pay down the debt (don't want to come across as big taxers), or ending the Iraq War (there is that problem of coming across as weak again), or protecting the environment (when have you ever seen an owl or bear contribute to a political campaign?), so attacking the Republicans it is. The same strategy they tried in 2002 (and lost) and 2004 (and lost). But you know, maybe the third time will do the trick.

Posted by: Dicksknee on January 16, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Niel,
why on earth do you call me a troll? to insult me? or simply because i disagree with you?

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Again, just to make the point again about political "good cop, bad cop", it's routine and effective Republican politics.

Anne Coulter and Rush Lameass screech, "Liberals are traitors to America! Every last of them! And their dogs!"

Republican politicians say, "Oh, well, I certainly wouldn't go so far as to impugn the patriotism of my liberal opponent. But let's think about why some of these people are saying such things. I think what bothers them, really, is that liberals never seem to support our troops and our Commander in Chief even when we are at war. I guess they wonder why liberals might do that. I have to say, I wonder about that too."

Posted by: frankly0 on January 16, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that, in order to focus attention squarely on the Republican Party as a whole in brief sound-bite way (and deflect the "Dems do it, too" strategy) the mantra coming out of Dems mouths on this issue needs to be "Republican K Street Project," no matter what they might go on to say.

Posted by: MF on January 16, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hear, hear, I agree with lib. You know if the tables were turned the Republicans wouldn't sweat over falsely accusing Democrats who weren't corrupt.

Hell, they're already trying to push that lie right now by their mouthpieces in the right-wing media.

Show no mercy, they would not and our country's future depends on it.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 16, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Under Dubya, with government policy generally for sale to the highest bidder, the economy has barely kept up with population, at best. You can't prove corruption has caused the whole drop, but it's the best explanation I can imagine.

Posted by: Dan H. on January 16, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0

I have no quarrel with that.

Just like GWB camp denied having anything to do with the swiftboaters, and laughed their ass off when Kerry plaintively pleaded, 'Mr. President stop these attacks', it is of course not essential that each and every democrat call the Republicans crooks.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just say that Republicans are a bunch of crooks?

Two reasons:

1) Because Republicans don't just sit around sucking their thumbs while Democrats call them names. They respond. They muddy the water. They misdirect. They fire back. So unless Democrats can tie the scandals into some larger themes that both resonate with voters and don't redound to the Democrats themselves, they won't be able to make political hay out of these issues.

2) Because calling Republicans a bunch of crooks doesn't really resonate with the majority of voters who have recently voted for Republicans and are only too content to subscribe to the "few bad apples" theory. This is like asking, "Why didn't Kerry just point out that George Bush looks like a mildly retarded chimpanzee?" Just because it's true doesn't make it an effective political strategy. The charge has to stick, and in order to stick it has to resonate on some level with people's preconceptions.

And now a rant: all the frothing and outraged commenters on this blog are too happy to attack Kevin whenever he has the temerity to suggest that -- gasp! -- political strategy matters. Please take your purity tests and go elsewhere. This is the attitude that keeps losing elections for Democrats, and frankly I'm sick of it.

Posted by: crabshack on January 16, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that Republicans know the Democrats' DNA too well. Any charge leveled by the Dems will be met with a huge outcry that the Democrats are not engaging in a 'civil discourse'. Immediatley, democratic pundits will start beating their chests, and ultimately the democrats will quickly go back to the defensive mode.

Over and above everything else, Dems have to stop acting like seventh grade pussies.

Posted by: nut on January 16, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

energy companies, big pharma & insurance companies... a trifecta!!!

Posted by: exgop on January 16, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Energy and health sure seem to be the consensus favorites here, and why not?

go for it. come up with policies and hammer at them for the next few years. Don't wait until the last minute or flutter from policy to policy like butterflies seeking nectar. John Kerry had a decent energy policy, but he didn't make a big issue of it. Maybe the Democrats can come up with really solid improvements on the energy policy enacted by the Congress in 2005. In energy, I wouldn't stress anger over high prices: those are responsible in part for ongoing increases in efficiency, responsible in part for new supplies; low prices can only be guaranteed by plentiful new supplies.

To a degree I think of political competition as I do professional football competition. I really like for both teams to be as good as possible.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Rick, I called you a troll because your first comment was an empty boast. Later, you came up with a more substantive post - I suppose my criticism must have shamed you into doing better. BTW, your original claim that the Democrats were *as corrupt* as the Republicans is false. Your later post makes some more reasonable points about how corruption affects both parties, power corrupts, etc., but doesn't justify the original empty jab.

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

The democrats will continue to lose until they define "conservatism" as the problem. I don't know how many times I read that Alito 'just' came off as a "conservative." Like we all fully accept today's Moon molded "conservatism"(theocratic fascism) as an OK way to run the country. Look around you, can you see where it is taking us? Conservatism is the problem, it is their ideology. It is this cultish conservatism which is dragging the nation to hell.

They put their ideology way, way, way ahead of the constitution. When the nation saw Alito sit down in that oiled up chair, they should have been very afraid. They weren't because they do NOT understand what conservatism is today.

IT'S THE CONSERVATISM STUPID!!

Baptist minister, Dr. Bruce Prescott, posted this to his excellent blog.

Quoting Dr. Prescott

Al Gore on Saving the Constitution
Common Dreams has posted the text of Al Gore's speech "'We the People' Must Save Our Constitution." Gore believes President Bush's actions threaten the foundations of our democracy and has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate unauthorized wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Administration.

I gave a speech about Christians who believe that "Democracy is Heresy" to a group of prominent business and civic leaders in Oklahoma City last week. The reaction I received from some of them convinced me that there is little concern for democracy among some of the elites in our society. Their disdain for liberalism is greater than any conceivable threat that could be posed to democracy from the theocratic right.

I suspect that these same elites will discount anything that Gore says. America needs a conservative of conviction and integrity to issue a call to defend the constitution. We have a lot of conservatives with conviction and a few who have integrity, but none, so far, who have been willing to rise to the defense of the constitution.

In my view, nothing demonstrates the bankruptcy of conservative thought in America more than it's willingness to achieve its goals by sacrificing the constitutional "checks and balances" that undergird our system of law.

Posted by: Dools on January 16, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

crabshck

what can the democrats say that will not be muddied by the Republicans? Are you saying that there is a way to associate Republicans with corruption without the GOP firing back?

What planet do you live on?

Rather that softening our statements, we should be prepared to respond to Republicans' efforts to defelect the truth.

Posted by: lib on January 16, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Boys and girls, the Republican leadership established the K-Street Project. The K-Street Project was not established to help the American people, rather it was established to allow Republicans to consolidate money and power through the exchange of special favors to people who paid Republicans bribes (both legal and illegal.) The K-Street Project has been spectacularly successful. It has resulted in the fastest growth in pork for favors in American history. Virtually every elected Republican has benefitted. The back bench Republicans said nary a word in opposition. They are just as guilty as their leaders.

It follows that all elected Republicans are crooks until they demonstrate otherwise.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 16, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO,

Excellent point in your 6:05 PM post - Similar to Shortstop's point in another thread speaking of those who say, "Well, I know this is not supposed to be PC, but those N.........."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 16, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK
... we need to make it relevant to the average voter. That is why I submitted this LTE today on the Medicare drug plan: Posted by: Tom
Tom, that is a great letter for Astroturf. It is well-written. All one has to do is change the name of the congressman and research their campaign contributors and bang off a copy to one's local media. Posted by: Mike on January 16, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, or anyone else interested, please feel free to use any part of my letter above.

The amount of money your congress critter received from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries is available at opensecrets.

A similar letter could be written on the energy bill or bankruptcy vill votes, but the amount of money spent on those bills pales to the amount wasted on the Medicar prescription drug plan, one of the worst bills in recent history as far as budgets are concerned.

Posted by: Tom on January 16, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

A dishonest person will take advantage of the situation no matter what political bent they are. In Canada, they are investigating the the theft of literally billions of dollars (albeit Canadian dollars) by the ruling party. Yhe Conservative Party before that was known for its corruption. The temptations are overwhelming no matter what your party or your country. I believe there are few among us could turn down the (comparative)pennies offered to Conrad Black for which he is indicted or the larger sums which float in politics. The fault dear Brutus lies in us. It is a human failing as old as time and listed in the 7 deadly sins

Posted by: murmeister on January 16, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Neil,
My orginal post is not an "empty boast", it is my opinion. My further explanation of my position was because kevin asked a question of me, not because i was "shamed" into it.
Your reaction to my post is typical of politics today, insults are the substitute for real discussion. They are also typical of americans today, vote for your team, right or wrong. Dems are NOT right, simply because repubs are wrong!

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Energy and health sure seem to be the consensus favorites here

Don't forget military supply and service contracts.

Posted by: Ottnott on January 16, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

about 35% of voters can be counted on to vote Democratic (e.g. for McGovern) and about 35% can be counted on to vote Republican (e.g. for Goldwater.) That leaves about 30% available to persuasion based on good policy, logic, facts, and intellectual analysis broadly conceived.

If the Democrats want to win the majority in all three brances of government, they need to win over the majority of that 30% and hold that majority for a long period of time. Continuing criticism of the Republicans is a part of a winning strategy, but only a small part. I believe that at the present time the liberals and Democrats are too self-absorbed, ignorant, illogical, disrespectful of middle America and vacillating to win over the majority of the middle and non-committed Americans. You really need to get past the idea that vilifying the right wing is an important part of your strategy, because (in part) there are equally vile people on the far left.

John Kerry came close. Despite all the analyses, no one really knows why the middle voters split more strongly for Bush -- most of the analyses are not able to distinguish between those voters who sometimes vote Republican, and those who always vote Republican (though it isn't for lack of trying.)

So: try a better national health care package; try a better national energy policy; try a more assertive foreign policy (Trumanesque and Kennedyesque, what Clinton called "assertive multilateralism") in place of Kerry's self-flagellation and Murtha's defeatism.

It was a real weakness of the Republicans that they didn't support Clinton in Bosnia and Kosovo, but I wonder whether the contemporary Democratic party could be persuaded to go along with either.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

howard wrote this: i'll just note, in passing, since it's semi-relevant here, that i have been arguing for a long time now that dems should demand that the awful prescription drug bill be torn up on the grounds of being overly expensive and not effective.

In the last election Kerry tried to promote a different plan, and he lost. However, that wasn't probably the dominant factor in his loss. If the Democrats could rally around a better plan and hammer at it right through the 2008 presidential election, they might make headway. However, they keep flitting among different plans and abandoning them; they really need to be consistent as to benefits and costs for at least two congressional campaign seasons in order to be effective -- at least in my opinion.

Posted by: contentious on January 16, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

"...insults are the substitute for real discussion." - Rick

Well. A put-down may or may not be an "insult" but it is not a *substitute* for real discussion if it at least contains an argument: some reason for agreeing with it. I don't put down others just for being conservative, nor am I a mindless partisan (I voted for Anderson in '80 like most smart people did, and have voted independent since then several times.) I do not, however, think much of brash, unsupportable statements thrown around without backing. Finally, it is pointless to seek an "evenhandedness" that looks at the result (blaming both of something equally) rather than the standard (which judges according to what is done.)

Posted by: Neil' on January 16, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

81% of the american people believe that the current congress is no more corrupt than any congress in the past. They believe these levels of corruption are par for the course.

Posted by: AL on January 16, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Neil,
Nice of you to agree with me, that insults should not be a substitute for real discussion!
If you had simply said that my original post was "brash, unsupportable" i would not have responded as i did (even though it is still just an insult, at least i could have responded to the argument instead of just responding to a brash and unsuportable insult ;-)

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Rick,

This comment by Neil' Finally, it is pointless to seek an "evenhandedness" that looks at the result (blaming both of something equally) rather than the standard (which judges according to what is done.

is precisely correct. You have spent much of this thread's comments lecturing others either how to blame all sides equally, how to argue nicely according to your own strictures and finally, that from the vantage of your own infinite wisdom, Kevin and those here should think outside of the box. It adds up to a lot of words behind a faux position. I challenge YOU to think outside the box and rather than telling others what NOT to do, why don't you come up with some specific positive solutions?

You don't even have to be polite. Well?

Posted by: Nash on January 16, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

The war, and No Child Left Behind are other obvious examples of where cronyism has helped screw the American people. Halliburton. Armstrong Williams/Bill Bennett (and I like some things about No Child Left Behind).

This is actually a very useful meme and adjunct to Daniel Davies' question about finding one policy the administration hasn't screwed up.

Posted by: benton on January 16, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Rick, your 7:57 is just more meta-discussion. Come down off of your meta-horse and offer specifics. "Democrats are just as bad as Republicans" doesn't advance the state of knowledge one bit. Educate us.

Posted by: Nash on January 16, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

81% of the american people believe that the current congress is no more corrupt than any congress in the past. They believe these levels of corruption are par for the course.

That must make it, you know, right then.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 16, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Democrats are just as bad as Republicans" doesn't advance the state of knowledge one bit. Educate us.

Yes, speaking in vague generalities asserting that Democrats are just as corrupt as Republicans (or that they would be, if they had more power), without any specific instances of Democratic analogs to the current set of Republicans either indicted or under investigation, is rather pointless.

Posted by: Nemo on January 16, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Rick,

I defy you to present evidence that the ACLU has paid "buy money" to ANY politician.

Your suspicions of "big business" are laudable, but really--greens and libertarians teaming up together? You must be joking.

A savy corruptor will pay to keep in the good graces of some opposition types--after all, they may hold some degree of power some day. Look at what big business did for Hitler before his ascension to power.

ciao,

Posted by: bobbyp on January 16, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

You state that "the Republican Party considers legislation to be a vehicle for giving special breaks to favored corporate interests rather than a vehicle to actually solve people's problems."

This is simplistic. Democrats never favor corporate interests? Democrats are the only party to legislate to solve problems?

I breathlessly await your analysis of the Iranian drive to develop nuclear weapons, the Saudi funding of terrorists, the future of Iraq, outsourcing, illegal immigration, the Chinese valuation of the yuan, global warming, and the looming peanut butter shortage.

Would "Republican policies bad" about cover all the bases?

Posted by: Col. B. Bunny on January 16, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen,

OT - Did you get a chance to check out the first poster on HuffPo's Blunt thread?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 16, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

On Sunday, Fox News featured Republican lobbyist and strategist Ralph Reed offering analysis on the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Who better than Reed to provide insight and context into the exploding Republican scandals on Capitol Hill? As it turns out, Reed is quite familiar with the ethical quicksand that is consuming Tom Delay, Bob Ney, Jack Abramoff and his minions such as David Safavian...

For the full story, see:
"Ralph Reed and the Abramoff Scandal at Fox News"

Posted by: AvengingAngel on January 16, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

In other news today, Fox News Contributor Frank Nitti offered his analysis of the Capone trial.

Posted by: stupid git on January 16, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Rick? Rick?

Are you only about telling other people how to argue?

Do you have any "outside the box" thinking to impart?

Posted by: Nash on January 16, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Col. B. Bunny, you wouldn't be Rick by any chance, would you?

Or Mary Rosh, perhaps?

Posted by: Nash on January 16, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

bobbyp,
try going to the aclu web site http://www.aclu-nca.org/sAboutUs.asp and read "ACLU lobbyists are working on both Federal and state legislation" - "buy money"? - i certainly look at it that way, legal or not.
if you want more information on lobby go to http://www.publicintegrity.org/lobby/report.aspx?aid=750
i never said that greens and libertarians should join up, i said that we should have a viable third choice (liberals could vote green, conservatives could vote libertarian). I'm tired of voting for the "lesser of two evils".
niel, nash and nemo, it is not my job to educate you, go to school if you want to be educated, i just wanted to state my opinion, i did that.
finally, i do not seek "evenhandedness", i also do not ignore it when it exists

Posted by: Rick on January 16, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh, this Rick character is almost as effective as a right-wing troll at derailing actual discussion. What a coinkidink!

Posted by: shortstop on January 16, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

amaingly, i heard Dainel Schorr today on NPR tie the Medicaid fiasco ("the pharmaceutical companies' dream and seniors' nightmare") directly to pharama lobbying and Republicans.

it's a good angle, if more people can use it.

Posted by: cleek on January 16, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Saw it, Paul-3. I laughed out loud. I called him "Unfit to serve" over at my place and linked to the Public Citizen report.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 16, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, shortstop. That Rick would just arbitrarily act trollish is an oddity the odds of which would be interesting to calculate.

My own meta-observation: I've begun to notice that when someone needs to come back with an uber-post addressed paragraph after paragraph to each interlocuter (dear bobbyp, dear niel, dear nash, dear nemo, dear et al.), they have defined themselves as having nothing to say worth noting.

Posted by: Nash on January 16, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

(Hi Shortstop!!!)

:)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 16, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

It was pretty obvious that the Democrats could have won the presidency in 2004 if they had championed transparency, accountability, special interests, and corruption (i.e. clean governance) at the FOREFRONT of the party platform.

Clearly, an attack of this kind would have landed blows while knocking Bush off his war and foreign policy perch, since Bush would have risked a lot to keep emphasizing foreign policy at the expense of corruption at home (and especially while Iraq was faltering).

If anything, even if the Democrats had still lost, which I doubt, they would have set up beautifully the 2006 elections, seeing where we are today. Unfortunately, the Democrats did not do this in 2004, even though it was friggin OBVIOUS, and many were advocating it in various high-traffic blogs (but it never caught on, even with the bloggers).

Still, this theme should be at the forefront of the 2006 campaign, and it should be touted loudly, insistently, and primarily. Obviously, there should be a clear and simple reform package that will emphasize transparency, accountability, and severly limiting lobbyist contributions to candidates or political parties.

Posted by: Jimm on January 16, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Al: 81% of the american people believe that the current congress is no more corrupt than any congress in the past. They believe these levels of corruption are par for the course.

Where's this from? A Fox News online poll? Even though I'd be surprised if a legitimate poll showed this, it's hard to overestimate the ignorance and apathy of the public on the issue of Congressional behavior.

There are other polls, reliable ones, that report that a majority of the public doesn't even know which party controls the House and Senate. It seems the Democratic strategists in Kevin's post are getting way ahead of themselves. Before they attempt to sway voters on ramifications of the Abramoff scandal, perhaps they should try to build a rudimentary understanding of the context.

Posted by: DevilDog on January 16, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me a lot of Democrats voted for all of those bills they would be trying to blame on Republican graft.

Why did many Democrats vote for the pharma bill?

Why did many Democrats vote for the new bankruptcy bill?

Why did many Democrats vote for the rich only tax cuts?

These Republican blackmail points are going to have to be cleared up before Democrats can attack them for their obedience to lobbyists. The Democrats have the same problem when discussing a solution to the invasion/occuption of Iraq. Why did so many Democrats vote to give Bush perpetual war powers and the funding to destroy Iraq? We need a different alternative.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 16, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

In Canada, they are investigating the the theft of literally billions of dollars (albeit Canadian dollars) by the ruling party.

Please excuse this OT (kinda) intrusion from the Great White North, but I couldn't let this assertion from murmeister just go by.

The scandal he is talking about began with a scheme cooked up by the Prime Minister's Office (Jean Chretien of the Liberal Party was PM at the time) to increase Canada's profile in the French-speaking province of Quebec. There was a great scare in government after the Quebec sovereignty referendum of 1995 was "won" by the non-separatists by a margin of only 50.4% to 49.6%. Chretien certainly didn't want to be the Prime Minister who lost Quebec (quarter of the population, St. Lawrence River, huge landmass...) He decided, I suppose, that Quebeckers would feel more "Canadian" and therefore not so nationalist if they could just see more Canadian flags everywhere. Rather insulting, eh?

Money was earmarked and the call went out to to Liberal-friendly ad agencies to dream up ways to show the flag. Mostly this ended up as a series of sponsorships for sporting and cultural events, large and small. All over Quebec, word went out that if your softball tournament or strings festival needed a boost, the feds were willing to pitch in. The catch? Well, you needed to have prominent displays of the red maple leaf all around your event and all over the promotional material.

There seemed to be almost no oversight. Liberal Party operatives decided which agencies and which events received money and, of course, how much. The agencies themselves became adept at double-billing, invoicing for work never done, padding payrolls, and even dreaming up non-existent events. And, wouldn't you know it, some money found its way back to the Liberal Party by way of kickbacks.

But it wasn't "billions of dollars" (Canadian or otherwise). The total amount committed to sponsorships over 5 years was about $100 million. Only a fraction of that was used illegally and only about $1.5 million ended up in Liberal coffers. The public inquiry is over, the criminal trials are awaiting, the stink has kicked the crap out of current Lib PM Paul Martin's election campaign (voting on Jan. 23). The Liberals once-comfortable base of 35-65 seats from Quebec may be shrunk to nothing this time around.

So, in the end, Jean Chretien, although he got off scott-free, did indeed "lose" Quebec, just not in the way he imagined.

Posted by: caribou on January 16, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hello, Nash.

Nope. I am neither Rick nor Mary Rosh.

I am an avuncular, far-seeing rightwinger and, to be quite frank, an inspiration to all misguided leftists to change their ways and become like me.

Posted by: Col. B. Bunny on January 17, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

an energy bill where your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the energy industry.

If most of the tax money comes from few of the taxpayers, why is this a problem to most taxpayers? Like the tax subsidies for logging roads in national forest, it's essentially a transfer from the wealthy that reduces the cost of a commodity for most users. You could argue that the subsidy could be better spent elsewhere, or left to the taxpayers, but subsidies of energy production should increase supplies to all and reduce their cost to consumers.

Posted by: contentious on January 17, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

I am an avuncular, far-seeing rightwinger and, to be quite frank, an inspiration to all misguided leftists to change their ways and become like me.

And be on the wrong side of history? Heck no.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 17, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Rick, the ACLU mentions that they work with state and federal legislators and from that you conclude they're greasing palms?

That has to be the most pathetic attempt at argumentation I've ever seen.

How about some real evidence of money exchanging hands.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 17, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Weighing in late, but I have always advocated shouting from the rooftops about the criminality of the Bush Administration.

Despite having the longest criminal rap sheet of any president in history, George W. Bush got a pass from the media on answering any questions about his extremely checkered, criminal history.

Ditto as it regards two-time drunk driver Dick Cheney. I mean, come on. Al Gore is not morally fit to be president, when his opponent has five or six arrests in his past???

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 17, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think the public would get lost in how this is corruption and not just ordinary lobbying and even worse how it is of any concern to them.

So, I suggest we just convict 'em all and tell the public about a 'culture of corruption' and other such labeling they'd 'get'.

Posted by: MarkH on January 17, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"and an energy bill where your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the energy industry."

I have an idea. Lets just let the energy industry go away. OK? Then we can go back to burning firewood to cook and keep warm. OH!! Wait!! We can't burn wood either because that might hurt the environment. Guess we just freeze to death but at least the energy industry won't get any money.

Do you even have the slightest idea how many people the energy industry employs? Simple answer...A few?...A great many?...No idea huh?
Maybe you should think about the people you are about to put out of work before you climb onto your anti business soapbox.

Oh and BTW. Give it up. The public knows better than to listen to your nonsenseical bull crap. They've heard you before and your message hasn't changed. You had nuthin then and you've got nuthin now. Deal with it, liberal ideals just aren't wanted in this country.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

'...liberal ideals just aren't wanted in this country.'
--Lurker42

Actually, you are dead wrong. Poll after poll shows Americans personal viewpoints mirror the liberal agenda, not the conservative agenda. From women's rights to the environment to helping the poor to slashing military spending, conservatives are on the wrong side of almost every issue.

Face it, chump. People are not in favor of piling debt on their grandchildren, forcing a woman to carry a rapist's fetus, everyone being heavily armed and allowing corporations to pollute with impunity so their CEO can make a couple extra million. GET OVER IT!!!!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 17, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

"conservatives are on the wrong side of almost every issue."

But yet they keep getting elected (Not just talking about george). Hmmm I would double check those polls if I were you.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Kriz
"allowing corporations to pollute with impunity so their CEO can make a couple extra million."

So you would put all of those people out of work to keep a company from polluting? That is supposed to be the correct side of the issue????

"to helping the poor "
Conservatives help the poor to help themselves. All of your give-away ideas only help to keep them where they are.

"to slashing military spending"
That would be a VERY bad idea. Have you noticed the world we live in??

" everyone being heavily armed"
That topic lost you the majority once already so you KNOW the people side with conservatives on that issue.

"forcing a woman to carry a rapist's fetus"
I agree with you on that issue. That needs work.


Posted by: Lurker42 on January 17, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Lurker42:

As I have posted before, I could give a rat's ass about polls and about whether "my guys" win elections. Because the GOP has a more effective propaganda machine, certainly doesn't make it the "right" political party nor does it mean that God smiles upon it.

Your attempted rebuttals are either nothing more than tired old platitudes the right-wing throws around (e.g. "helping the poor help themselves" - give me a break) or suppositions based on false premises. Why do corporations have to lay people off to be environmentally responsible? You don't give the American people much credit for being ingenious or creative, do you? As for military spending, how would throwing $400 billion have prevented 9-11? How did Star Wars prevent 9-11? How many al-Qaeda operatives have been caught by the military? Answer - damn few. The proper response to 9-11 was an international police mobilization and a crash program to become energy independent. Not a military invasion of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with it. Once again, you are dead, flat wrong.

Good day.

Stephen Kriz

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 17, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

The best way to help the poor help themselves, according to Capitalists, is to pay them half the calories required per day, as determined by nutritionists. That really motivates them. It motivates them to migrate to the US.

Lurker42's response: suckee number 1?

Posted by: Hostile on January 17, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit, somebody else has been posting with my handle. Begone!

Time to turn on the batlight again.

Posted by: Rick on January 17, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Dem strategy: Look at the corruption of the Right due to their ties to corporations.

(Behind curtain: Thanks for the check NARAL, NOW and Unions. Did you like our anti-corporation speech?)

Public reaction: A pox on both your houses.

Posted by: Birkel on January 17, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

" Once again, you are dead, flat wrong.

Good day."

Stephen Kriz
Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 17, 2006 at 4:10 PM

If you even look here I will reply anyhow.

And once again I draw your attention to the majority of our gov't. Republican. Don't care if you accept my "tired old platitudes". The point is that the Amer people don't click with the Liberal message. Not who is right or wrong.

Posted by: Lurker42 on January 18, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK
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