Trevor e-mails to note "Katrina's really important post on lobbying." Here's an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Corruption Machine:"
At a time when the scale of corruption in Congress has risen to obscene heights, the fight to achieve a clean government has heated up–and the good Senator from Wisconsin, Russell Feingold, is admirably spearheading the campaign to usher in a new era.
Feingold, who with John McCain led the fight for passage of campaign finance reform, understands the importance of this fight better than anyone. So, this month, the tough-minded reformer introduced the Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act in the Senate (Martin Meehan has similar legislation pending in the House). Once again, Feingold is doing good service to his nation by pushing into the next frontier of reforming lobbying corruption in Washington.
The bill's key provisions are designed to reduce the power of special interests by forcing lobbyists to file disclosure reports quarterly instead of twice a year, prohibiting lobbyists from taking trips with members of Congress and their staffs, and requiring former members of Congress and some senior executive branch officials to wait two years after leaving government service before working as a lobbyist. And, as Feingold told The Hill, the bill would prohibit "lobbyists from giving gifts to members" or staff and require "members and campaigns to reimburse the owners of corporate jets at the charter rate when they use those planes for their official or political travel."
Such a law--and, sadly, in these political times, its chances of passage aren't great--would arrive just barely in the nick of time. The Center for Public Integrity published a must-read study in April showing that lobbyists have spent almost $13 billion since 1998 seeking to influence federal legislation and federal regulations. "Our report reveals that each year since 1998 the amount spent to influence federal lawmakers is double the amount of money spent to elect them," the Center's executive director, Roberta Baskin, pointed out.
Brady e-mails asking that we highlight "The Democrats 2008 Choice" (from TomPaine.com):
David Sirota is a writer and veteran political strategist. Sirota's regular blogs can be viewed at HuffingtonPost and SirotaBlog. This first appeared on HuffingtonPost.
The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates this week are busy genuflecting at Corporate America's alter--otherwise known as the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Now, it's true--the DLC is really just a group of Beltway-insulated corporate-funded hacks who have spent the better part of the last decade trying to undermine the Democratic Party's traditional working class base--a base that had kept Democrats in power for 40 years and now, thanks to the DLC, has been forfeited to the Republicans. Even so, the fact that these presidential candidates feel the need to bow down to the DLC is a troubling sign about whether the Democratic Party is really serious about regaining power in America.
Let's just look at the cold, hard facts about the DLC and its record. The DLC has pushed, among other things, the war in Iraq and "free" trade policies, using bags of corporate money to buy enough Democratic votes to help Republicans make those policies a reality. They have chastised anyone who has opposed those policies as either unpatriotic or anti-business--even as a majority of Americans now oppose the war in Iraq, oppose the DLC's business-written trade deals, and are sick of watching America's economy sold out to the highest corporate bidder. Additionally, in Orwellian fashion, the DLC has also called its extremist agenda "centrist," even though polls show the American public opposes most of their agenda, and supports much of the progressive agenda .
Now, you could make a credible argument that the DLC's corporatization/Republicanization of the Democratic Party was justified, had it led to electoral success for Democrats. Few would argue that today's split-the-difference Democratic Party hasn't followed the DLC's policy direction over the last 10 years. That means the last 10 years of elections really have been a referendum on whether the DLC's model--regardless of any moral judgements about it--actually wins at the polls.
And that's when we get to the real problem with the DLC--its policies are BOTH morally bankrupt, and politically disastrous. The rise of the DLC within the Democratic Party has coincided almost perfectly with the decline of the Democratic Party's power in American politics—a decline that took Democrats from seemingly permanent majority status to permanent minority status. In this last election, just think of Democrats' troubles in Ohio as a perfect example of this. Here was a state ravaged by massive job loss due to corporate-written "free" trade deals --yet Democrats were unable to capitalize on that issue and thus couldn't win the state because the DLC had long ago made sure the party helped pass the very trade policies (NAFTA, China PNTR) that sold out those jobs.
To counter, the DLC holds up Bill Clinton's 1992 win as proof that its policies win elections, but that is so dishonest it's laughable. First and foremost, almost everyone would agree Clinton ran a very un-DLC-like populist campaign for President in 1992, and won far more on the strength of his charisma/personality than any policy platform from a bunch of pencil-pushing geeks at the DLC in Washington, D.C. Secondly, since that 1992 victory--with the exception of Clinton's 1996 victory over one of the weakest GOP challengers in modern history--Democrats have been roundly destroyed in national election after national election.
Thus, we are brought back to the bottom line: with the DLC, Democrats get all of the bad policies, and none of the good electoral outcomes--it is the worst of both worlds.
Lastly will note this from Elaine's entry tonight:
I want to start off by noting that Google, whose politics have been repeatedly questioned, currently features, when you search Jane Fonda in news, a bull's eye target shoot photo of Jane Fonda. I guess I miss the "joke" or how this vile thing is "news." Or why Google feels it's okay to promote it?
It's not okay to promote that. Mike wrote a thing yesterday about how his sister saw one of those trashy shows that junk up the airwaves (this one starring the "I'm reforming!" stooge) called The Insider who felt it was necessary to interview the man who spat on Fonda at a book signing. As Mike rightly asked, would they also interview celebrity stalkers? Would they give those violent kooks a platform? No, but they feel it's okay when it has something to do with Jane Fonda.
On the plus side, it's a testament to how much these war mongers, creeps and losers fear Jane Fonda's upcoming speak out tour that they are crawling out of the woodwork prepared to launch these attacks.
However, that doesn't excuse Google's use of a target photo of Jane Fonda. Note that I said "use." I did not say promote. Google would argue that they are not "promoting" violence against Jane Fonda. They would say they were just displaying "news images." But it isn't a "news image." And they are using it. It has no place popping up in one of their searches.
A great deal was made recently, to give but one example, over their apparent hiding of images of Abu Ghraib; however, encouraging violence towards Jane Fonda is apparently a-okay?
It's not okay and they need to pull that "news" photo from their "news" results.The idiot who "created" the photo can run it as his site (I'm guessing that it's a "he"). Free speech gives him the right to be as vile as he wants to be. But the image is not "news" and it doesn't belong in a news search done on Google and hopefully Google will address this issue promptly.
I share Elaine's disgust that the "photo" shows up in a news search.
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