Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DOG BITES MAN, PART 576....I would like to nominate this for the year's least surprising headline. Here's the key sentence about the Republican legislation currently wending its way through Congress: "Many lobbyists said they consider these bills more of a nuisance than an impediment to their ability to work their will." Shocking, isn't it?

Kevin Drum 1:19 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Posted by: Colin on March 19, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Headline too obvious to print:
Lobbyists lobby anti-lobbying bill. Win.

Posted by: HRlaughed on March 19, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes.

Life in the time of the Banana Republicans.

Posted by: AvengingAngel on March 19, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Although cunningham is prisoner number 547886, and Abramoff is spilling his guts, kind of, nothing has changed for the GOP machine. In fact, these scandles drive them all to be more careful, but the machine goes on. They want a Christian Nation, they want to see the raise of the Church again.

Posted by: the fake fake al on March 19, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing wrong with lobbying. Lobbying is morally neutral. One can advocate for things that benefit the world as a whole, or one can advocate for a narrow interest. And that narrow interest may be a compelling one (e.g. research to cure a genetic diseases) or a particularly undeserving one (e.g. allowing polluters to pollute even more than they already are polluting).

I remember walking through the House office buildings a few years ago, and noticing a sign on the door of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) saying "No gifts please." And it wasn't just on Lofgren's door, but on others as well. Bless you, Rep. Lofgren! That means you are willing to listen to lobbyists, but you will vote based on criteria other than how much is in the envelope that the lobbyist hands you — because you have pledged to refuse that envelope.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 19, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Completing the thought, the point is, solving the problem of corrupt members of Congress accepting bribes from lobbyists is not rocket science. The rest of Congress needs to follow the lead of Rep. Lofgren and others, and abide by a "No gifts" policy from lobbyists. An actual law would be helpful, but "mere" pledges with a transparent audit trail would also be salutary.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 19, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Is anyone ever going to look at publicly-funded

Is there any way to fix this without taking the
money out of the game? Or is money the only point?

Posted by: Semanticleo on March 19, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK


Heres some pics from Saturdays Anti-war march and rally in Hollywood featuring President Bartlett

Posted by: Bob on March 19, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Of course the lobby reforms aren't really going to amount to anything more than a nuisance. You don't expect the lobbyists would write anything with substance do you?

Posted by: Ron byers on March 19, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

big companies love regulations, such as safety regulations or reporting regulations. it keeps competitors out.

i imagine lobbyists would like some barrier-type reforms for the same reason.

Posted by: b on March 19, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Is there any way to fix this without taking the money out of the game?

Why, yes, there is. Reallocating wealth and power will balance the political playing field. As long as we as a socielty worship money, and give all power to those that have it, we cannot fix this problem.

Posted by: bobbyp on March 19, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Publicly funded campaigns, like most reforms, would be good for a little while. Then someone will notice that incumbent parties inherently, under such a system, have an enormous advantage over start-up parties and fringe parties.

One will also notice that the incumbent, subsidized parties have become enormously more arrogant and over-bearing, once they no longer have to seek donations from the public to exist. There will be taxation, not donation, and the money will flow to the major parties no matter
how insensitive and inept they become.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 19, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Today I heard Chris Matthews essentially argue that we in the blogsphere won't get off our asses and build grassroot organizations. Andrew Sullivan tried to argue the point, but the snear never went off Matthews face. He thinks we are all (both right and left) self-absorbed intellectual snobs "too good" to actually get our hands dirty.

The only solution, of course, is for us to all get involved. Instead of just writing posts, we should all be sending contributions to honest candidates. We should be electing folks who are willing to say "no gifts, please" and mean it. We should be unelecting folks who accept the large legal bribes from big companies.

You want a real reform. Last I looked the media companies don't own bandwidth. The public does. How about requiring television stations to provide X hours of free advertizing to candidates. Of course, such a reform will never happen, but it could go a long way to leveling the playing field.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 19, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

No Ron they don't...but they own the people that manipulate it, and that is all it takes.
I say let Matthews snear, that is all he is good at as far as I can see. Talk about people living in their own world...he is a beltway baby on several levels.

Posted by: Ben Merc on March 19, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Matthews just figured out that he hopped on the wrong bus.

I wonder how dirty his hands get with that 200+k a year GE salary.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on March 19, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, this is obvious. But that doesn't mean the Abramoff scandal is irrevelant. Its importance is as a deterrent. The politicians who lose their jobs over this will act as an awful warning to others, for a while at least--keeping things somewhat cleaner, for a while at least.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 20, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK



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