Business as usual on Capitol Hill

By DOUG THOMPSON

Yep, things sure are different in Washington since the Democrats took over the Hill and turned the place into “the most ethical Congress in history.” No more gridlock, no more fatcat lobbyists buying access, no more talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Wait a minute. Let’s look again.

President George W. Bush is still doing pretty much whatever the hell he wants, sending more American troops to die in his illegal and immoral war. Congress hasn’t stopped him, nor are they close to finding any way to do so. The Senate still can’t make up its mind how to debate on a non-binding resolution while the House promises one by the end of this week but it too is little more than a political jack off.

After the public relations driven “100 hour agenda” that huffed and puffed and produced little, the Hill has settled into the same old bastion of all talk, less work and even less action.

And those lobbyists who Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid promised would be driven from the halls of power? They’re still around, still writing out big checks, still buying access and still controlling the legislative agenda.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson had a bunch of them down to Miami weekend before last for the Super Bowl. For $5,000 each they got to cozy up the Senator in a skybox and mingle. Now they are back in Washington writing legislation to benefit their clients that the Senator will be oh so happy to sponsor.

Senator Tom Carper, Democrat from Delaware, set up a skiing weekend at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch resort in Colorado for lobbyists willing to pony up five grand each. That’s also the cost to go skiing and snowmobiling this month in Montana with Senator Max Baucus. Can’t make it this month? That’s all right. Max is having a fly-fishing weekend this summer. Cost? The same. Just write out a check for five big ones.

But that’s cheap compared to the weekend at Harbor House resort sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It will take a check for $25,000 to hobnob with the members of “the most ethical Congress in history.”

Over on the House side, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs doesn’t want the girls left out so lady lobbyists are welcome to join her for “manicures and muffins” at Capital Nails in Washington. The price is a true bargain by lobbying standards: just $2,500.

Republicans, of course, aren’t sitting back and claiming the high road. They’re too busy finding their own ways to let lobbyists buy votes. Sen. Mel Martinez is sponsoring a $5,000 a head Presidents Day weekend at Disney World while Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor will drink coffee with lobbyists at Starbucks for $2,500. The cost of a double latte just went up.

One of the first actions promised by the new leadership of Congress was a ban on free trips and lavish gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress, a reaction of scandal-scarred former Republican whip Tom DeLay’s many golfing trips and lavish vacations on someone else’s tab.

But the ink had not dried on the bill before the campaign funding committees on both sides started circulating memos on how to get around the new restrictions. Instead of letting the lobbyist pay the tab directly, the money now just goes into the political campaign fund which pays the tab.

Members of Congress have long lived large off their campaign war chests. A look at the Federal Election Commission reports of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shows her campaign funds pays for clothes, cars, dinners at fancy restaurants and manicures. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stays in $1,500 a night hotel suites and lets his campaign fund foot the bill. The fund also buys his cars.

And it doesn’t take long for newcomers to learn the ways of the world. Freshman Democratic Senator Jim Webb, the “breath of fresh air” who delivered the highly-praised response to Bush’s tedious State of the Union address, set up a “leadership PAC” as soon as he got to town. Leadership PAC? What, or who, is Webb leading?

Such willingness to sell their souls should come as no surprise. It became obvious as soon as Democrats picked their leaders that this would be business as usual. Reid is a well-known Nevada con man who uses the power of office to line his pockets with shady real estate deals in much the same way as former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert. Pelosi brags she learned politics at her daddy’s knee, which is a dubious honor when you consider daddy was a bagman for the Mafia, a mob-controlled mayor of Baltimore.

California political boss Jesse Unruh used to say “money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

It still is but the milk has gone sour from all the pimps and whores from “the most ethical Congress in history” sucking on momma’s tit.

Comments

  1. HereToday

    Congress is a self-legitemized criminal enterprise.

    Anyone who thought Dems would clean house when they took over would probably vote for a socialist too.

    Bribes-for-votes isn’t going to go away until pols do something about it…..and they have no intention of doing so.

  2. Until we have elections funded only by public money and a independent ethics committee staffed not by congress but by attorneys and investigators who have the funding and jurisdiction to investigate wrong doing and limits to the Political Action Committees Washington will just find more loopholes to exploit Republican or Democrat.

  3. Doubtom

    Mary, your main problem is you can’t see beyond the two major parties; you’ve bought the argument that only two parties can represent the United States. That’s pure bullshit!

    This country desperately needs an infusion of a third even a fourth party.

    It’s downright silly to accept that a nation of some 300 million souls can only field two parties. We need more competition and better representation.

    And everybody who challenges either party is not a spoiler. He/she is just someone who can see that both major parties are bought and paid for by the lobbyists.

  4. Mary

    Certainly there are similarities between the two parties. Corruption, war, and debt are not owned by any one party. Also, over the years parties have morphed changing philosophy and advocacy along the way. Nor are the members of the parties monolithic. None were more committed to segregation and Jim Crow than the Dixie Democrats. Now the D party is cosidered the party more committed to civil rights. The point is parties are fluid and not static. However, there are some philosophical differences that can be read in the party platforms that guide policy advocacy.

    You do make a good point that citizens should be more vigilant when one party controls all branches of the Federal government. The Founding Fathers were very big on the checks and balances thing. We have seen over the past six years where a too cozy relationship between the WH and Congress can lead. I do not share the cynicism that all polticians are bad, whether R or D. I do

    agree with the Founder’s principles of checks and balances and a vigilent, informed electorate. We have had too little of the latter.

    As for health care, we already do have

    health care rationing, between those who are insured and those who are not. Our emergency rooms overflow with the uninsured. Also, HMOs ration much of our health care already.

    When the corporate world is now starting to see the wisdom of universal health insurance you know it is coming.

  5. history guy

    Oh Mary; look to your history books. Every time either party has controlled both Congress and the White House, we have had war and debt for the last 100 years.

    When you say “Had there been a D congress and a D president over the past 20 years we very likely would have health care coverage for all Americans,” don’t you mean we would have health care rationing like they have in the UK, where hospitals are publicly admonished to quit treating so many people so quickly because they are running out of money.

    Look at the film “What happened to the Electric Car”. That all happened during the Clinton presidency.

    They are all the same! They just make different noises to seduce their particular group of suckers.

  6. Mary

    Nothing bugs me more than the tired refrain that there is no difference between the two parties. As we know Nader made that case in 2000 about Gore and Bush. Nader got 96,000 votes in Florida handing the state to Bush. “Naderites” have lived to regret that recklessness.

    Does anyone believe we would be in this mess in Iraq had Gore been president?

    There are real philosophical differences between the two parties, which result in different policies and legislation. It is simplistic and uninformed to think there aren’t.

    Had there been a D congress and a D president over the past 20 years we very likely would have health care coverage for all Americans. Had Gore been president, we would be further along in energy independence. We would not have scientists from EPA complaining how their science was surpressed by administration toadies.

    These are just a few examples of some

    differences between the two parties that spring from philosophical underpinnings. I think the differences between the two parties have never been clearer.

  7. Jennifer

    They use to (Sherman & Sheridan & Grant)call us “vermin”…Now I can call them all “vermin” & it fits.

    Same old calvary, same old song & dance…they’re all the same. NO ONE is going to save us, but ourselves, Kent said it all folks!

    Peace,

    Jennifer

  8. Doubtom

    This is proof again that Ralph Nader was right when he said there’s no difference between the to major parties, now all we have to overcome is our fear of a third party.

    If, by now, we haven’t figured out that any change will have to come from a third party, we may as well give on this self-governing attempt. We are not fit for the struggle!

  9. Wayne K Dolik

    Casey:

    Thank you for your input. Here is the official numbers from the 2006 election cycle. The Source is FEC Dec. 11, 2006. Total for AT&T for the year was $36,886,798 (in millions). AT&T was #2 in the top 10 donors for this last election year.

    Just as a point of information in this election AT&T gave 65% to Republicans and only 35% to Democrats. AT&T favors Republicans by almost 2 to 1.

    As we all know that AT&T is famous for spying on Americans in collusion with the Bush Administration. They are also one of the biggest money donors in politics today.

  10. Tommy

    Are you people kidding me? How many times are you going to keep falling for this garbage that flows out of the mouths of these pols before you figure it out? Of all lifes experiences, we should all know by now that politicians, Repubs AND Dems, are nothing but a bunch of con-artists, and all these junkets are nothing but BRIBES.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a politican say “the goverment is broken and needs to be fixed”, or “ethics reform is long overdue”. When it comes to taking care of themselves, they all sleep in the same bed, and they have NO INTENTION of doing ANYTHING to change that.

    Politics is nothing more than a self-legitamized criminal enterprise.

  11. Ray

    Just what exactly is all this campaign money spent on? TV time and posters? So is it cut in stone that who gets the most donations wins? The candidate with the biggest bank account wins? What about thier ideas and intentions once in office. Are the voters swayed simply by how many bumper stickers they see?

    If so, that doesn’t say much for the voters. I don’t think there has been an honest campaign or election in many many years. Besides like I said, Hillary has already been chosen.

  12. Casey

    I don’t know if AT&T favors Republicans. Traditionally, AT&T (like most companies, I would wager) donate handsomely to both sides of the One Party (so they ‘win’ either way).

    ———

    Great article! No surprise… but good to know that the congressvermin in the swamps of D.C. (“you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany”) still live up to the name of vermin.

  13. Wayne K Dolik

    Having been a fundraiser for a former congressional candidate, perhaps I could share some of my knowledge with you. Big money in politics comes in two ways. Here are your basic lobbies.

    For Republicans it’s big business. We know that much of the 109th Congress controlled by Republicans had many of their bills written by the big business lobbyists such as the pharmaceutical industry. That is why the pharmaceutical bill was and still is a huge disaster. Oil companies do lean to Republicans by about 84% of their money. AT&T favors Republicans. So, basically it’s all about big business if you’re a Republican.

    If you are a Democrat you get your money from the lobbyists for big labor unions. So in a nutshell business owns a Republican and Labor owns you if you are a Democrat.

    Outside of business or labor it’s the large national organizations like DNC, DCCC RNC etc.

    Lastly, money comes in from us little folks in small donations, however wealthy donors sometimes give larger amounts. The real truth is it takes lots of money to get in office and stay there. That is a fact of political life. It’s a two party system of property interests business and labor. PACs give donations of up to 5 thousand dollars and individuals can give up to 2100 hundred dollars for Congressional races.

  14. JPorter

    I wonder how much it costs to get representatives to read. Listening to droning lobbyists and looking at zero-filled checks doesn’t teach them anything about what we, the constituents, are thinking and expressing with the written word.

  15. With every crop of new crook politicians we get another crop of crook media moralists complaining about the perpetual con game. However, it is the media that really makes out with every crooked election.

    Crook Politicians are financed by the crook rich because they are a good bet (they have an honest face).

    The money that is given to the crook politicians goes back to the rich via the crook media.

    Crook election campaigns take years so the crook media milking process goes on forever.

    If you want to get rid of the crooks, you have to cut their supply line by paying for short elections yourself. I guarantee that if we own them we will control them. The many big crooks will be replaced by just a few little crooks.

    At this point I believe in an insanely violent American insurgency, just for the fun of it.

  16. Kent Shaw

    .

    A financial collapse is coming. As long as Senate and House keep agreeing to increase the national debt limit they are hastening that day. If they did not increase the limit neither they or the executive could start more wars.

    .

    The most important thing any individual can do right now to prepare is if you have any credit card debt make paying it off the FIRST priority over all else because the congress passed the new bankruptcy law and Bush signed it into law — bankruptcy now no longer frees you of your credit card obligation.

    .

    Then consider laying in a two year supply of canned and dry foodstuffs. It is going to get really rocky when China, Japan and Saudi Arabia refuse to purchase any more U.S. debt, and even more so when they start dumping dollars for gold, silver and Euros. Inflation will become rampant.

    .

    Purchase as much bulk silver and silver coins (poor man’s gold, AND the government may once again make it illegal for individuals to own gold) as you can afford. Paper dollars are going to become worthless. Hard silver will not lose its value — an ounce of silver, no matter the dollar price of same, will always purchase a dozen cans of soup even if the dollar price goes to $50.

    .

    I may be a bit premature but this crunch is coming. Guns and ammunition will always be good for barter also. A box of 50 9mm rounds might purchase you a couple nights lodging.

    .

    Call me paranoid. Call me whacko. But give me that AR15 and I’ll put you up for a couple months. Or give me 7 ounces of silver and you can stay a week. Anytime.

    .

    .

  17. Laurence

    I can name that tune in 2 notes: “The Rant”:

    “All politicians are the same.”

    The Rant preaches the same message in an endless series of variations; there is no distinction and no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Anyone who is foolish enough to draw distinctions is an ignoramus. Discussing politics in such an environment is like exploring the complexities of differential diagnoses in a Christian Science Reading Room.

    I anxiously await the work product of The Campaign for Our America (to which I’m a subscriber), hoping against hope that it isn’t just another soapbox built to spew the same repetitive theme that leads nowhere.