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Parasites with a sense of entitlement

Oh, there are some mighty big britches here in DC.
 
 
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OK, have a seat and take your blood pressure medication. This, from the Washington Post, might just pop the cuff off your arm:

Lawmakers are moving quickly to devise lobbying legislation and to approve it soon after Congress returns later this month. The rush has been caused by recent lobbying scandals, including the guilty plea last week of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is cooperating with prosecutors in a corruption investigation of Congress. […]

But one particularly powerful group is gearing up to oppose several of the most sweeping proposals: lobbyists. Lobby organizations ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) are concerned that some of the measures under consideration would overburden them with paperwork or unfairly limit their ability to do their jobs. They are already planning to lobby against those parts of any new lobbying law.

"We need to sit down with people up there and give them some honest understanding of what can and what cannot be done," R. Bruce Josten, a Chamber executive, said, referring to Congress.

Let that rest in your head for a moment. Here's a greasy Chamber of Commerce asswipe huckster in a $3000 dollar suit who's so full of himself, so certain that his sense of entitlement is justified, that he thinks he should be able to go and tell the people we've elected to represent us what they can or cannot do.

What more do you need to know? All I can say, in the words of great cartoon characters everywhere, is: %$@#*!!

Now, there are people who hold moderation as a high virtue who will tell you that lobbyists perform a vital service in our democracy. There's so much information out there, they'll say, that no legislator's staff can get a handle on all of it. Lobbyists' research is a valuable legislative tool.

They'll tell you that while some lobbyists are aggressive putzes, the industry works on reputation. If you give a legislator bad info, s/he won't take your calls the next time. So they have to have some integrity. Besides, environmental groups and labor unions lobby too. And, you know, it's a perfectly legal $36 billion dollar industry, so who are we to quarrel?

If someone brings you that line, tell 'em you have no problem with lobbyists' research - making your case is part of the democratic process - it's the influence peddling , the dirty money that has to go. It's a $36 billion dollar industry dedicated to distorting democracy.

A corporation is a group of like-minded individuals pooling capital in order to launch an enterprise. Every one of those individuals enjoys all the rights of citizenship - they can vote, they can petition their legislators and they can speak and write without fear of reprisal. But by allowing those corporations to be super-citizens - giving them leave to spread their money around and raise campaign cash and give out trips and meals and tickets -- what we've ended up with is a system of legal bribery.

That system has developed, in part, because there's not the same stigma attached to lobbying as there once was. Lobbyists used to be considered (broadly) to be lower than swamp scum. In Jan Frel's front-page piece he talks about a suggestion that the labor movement "annually ostracize a lobbyist." It's a good idea, but why just one per year?

Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer .