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Nirek On August - 5 - 2016

lobbyist handshake

The way lobbying has evolved is a big part of why we have a dysfunctional government.

Let me explain.

When lobbying was just concerned citizens trying to convince congressmen/women and senators that their ideas were good for America, it was fine. Today, a citizen concerned about an issue can’t get a word in sideways because corporate “lobbyists” are buying said congressmen/women and senators with bribes that are legal since “Citizens United”, the worst Supreme Court decision ever, made it legal for those with great wealth and corporations to literally buy a politician.

I don’t think that is a priority for either Hillary or her opponent. Both of them, I believe, are out of touch with the issues of the common man/woman. They are both wealthy. Trump was born into great wealth with a silver spoon and Hillary has become wealthy from her benefactors paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speech.

I will say, Hillary probably is more in touch with us regular folks than Trump. But Money does corrupt. I doubt that she will fight to get money out of politics, hope I’m wrong.

So, what do you, my friends, think about lobbying and today’s lobbyists? Am I right or wrong in your opinion? Lets have a conversation about lobbying. Is it good or bad? Was it a good thing before the Supreme Court decision? Am I right that that bad Supreme Court decision made it legal to bribe a politician?

Written by Nirek

Proud progressive Vietnam Vet against WAR! Can't stomach chickenhawks.

17 Responses so far.

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  1. Kalima says:

    Hello, Nirek, sorry I’m late, it was a busy week last week.

    If lobbyists are working for the people, then of course their work is to be appreciated and commended. If they are working for rich, tax evading corporations and bribing politicians, they are appalling. Bribing is illegal and many officials worldwide have gone to jail for this, or lost their jobs. Unfortunately the majority are never caught or prosecuted.

    I remember a scandal a few years back in the U.K. where developers who wanted to destroy the beautiful “green belts” of the British countryside, sent lobbyists who payed huge amounts of money to cronies and aides of Cameron to meet with him for a few minutes to persuade him to give permission for their wanton destruction. It was front page news for a few weeks, someone was investigated, and then came the excuses. They weren’t bribes, they were campaign contributions. Right. The man at the centre of that storm neither resigned nor was punished, he was just moved to another post within the Cameron cabinet, a habit that occurred continuously during Cameron’s terms as PM. There are hundreds of law suits now by residents who have lived there all their lives and for generations, who don’t want their peace and way of life invaded. Thousands of houses already built are inhabitable because of sinking and flooding.
    The same thing is happening with much despised fracking in the economically poorer regions of northern England.

    Corruption is rife the world over, and unfortunately, money buys a lot of silence.

    I was here on The Planet when the CU ruling came down from the SC, and it was one of the most disturbing rulings I have witnessed in my life. The only conclusion I could come for for such a disgraceful ruling was that the SC judges who were in favour of it, had been bribed too. There is no other explanation for throwing the voting public under the bus. It gave permission for outright corruption in your democratic political process. The sooner it’s overturned the better. Elections are for the people who go to vote to decide. That is democracy. Anything else is a mockery of your Constitution.

    • Nirek says:

      So, Kalima, money corrupts. I guess you made my point better than I did. Thanks!

      It’s good to know that America isn’t the only place where this problem is rampant.

      Peace

  2. kesmarn says:

    Nirek, as things stand right now I think the lobbying system is so corrupt that I’d have to go with your opinion that it really is an over all negative.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the Planet’s very own choicelady, whose day job was actually as a lobbyist with a large group of churches who had joined together to push for the health care coverage reform that later became Obamacare. Now that — of course — is an example of lobbying for a righteous cause. So it can — and does — happen that good things can come from honest lobbyists.

    But now — with Citizen United — we have to ask whether honest lobbyists with very limited funds can ever get anywhere near many of the congressmen in DC. There are only 24 hours in a day, and there’s so much money floating around in Washington, how does a person who represents a good cause — but without a luxury golf vacation to offer — manage to get penciled in on a Senator or Rep’s calendar?

    I know I’m saying nothing new here, but having a Dem majority in Congress with a Dem president would be the perfect launching board for getting rid of Citizens United. If it didn’t happen under those circumstances, I would say that would be a real statement (and not a good one) about the state of Dem Party morality in the 21st century.

    We’ll all be voting — and then waiting and watching.

    • Nirek says:

      Kes and CL, wasn’t lobbying supposed to be a way for the common man/woman to inform the senators and reps. about issues? It has gotten to the point now where lobbyists for the big corporations are legally bribing them. I blame CU, the single worst SC decision, ever.

      CL, Bernie has been more vocal about the CU decision than anyone else that I have heard. He spoke out against it when it was made. He campaigned on overturning CU, and I never heard Hillary or anyone else as forceful as Bernie, on the subject.

      Good to see you back even for a brief moment, CL. Hope all goes well for you. See you in the fall.
      Peace

      • choicelady says:

        Hi Nirek -- Well, Bern took it on, but I was working it along with many groups (Common Cause etc,) YEARS before he raised the issue. Clinton had it in her platform before Bernie announced. And why not? Citizens United spending on the film WAS about her! That film is still “out there” created by dark money that is now legal. It’s playing right now at a theater near Sacramento.

        Bernie focused on a few issues, one of them ‘overturning CU’, but HER broader issue isn’t just that but getting ALL the various forms of monetary influence gone.

        The problem comes when you target something like CU and don’t expand the point to include issues such as that you’ve raised here. Lobbying is not campaign dollars. Those would not stop even if we did end CU operations. So I tend to lean toward anyone who sees the broader picture as she does. And SHE does because she has seen its impacts in ways Bern never did.

        So yes -- I have watched her target CU and the larger issues.

        • Nirek says:

          CL, Bernie is my Senator here in Vermont and he has been against money in our politics for a long time. He has not always been in the public eye like Hillary has.

          CU was the worst decision the SC has made, in my opinion. But my point is that some lobbyists have evolved to blatant bribers. I know that lobbying was a good thing years ago. But it has gotten out of the common mans reach. I believe that many lobbyists are good people like you. There are some who abuse the “money is speech” and “corporations are persons” and bribe senators and reps..

          I am glad CA has laws that keep lobbyists honest. Too bad the federal laws aren’t as strong.

          Peace

    • choicelady says:

      Hi kes!

      Hope you are well. Too long not talking.

      I totally agree about being concerned about downticket races to get back a decent Congress. Getting rid of CU will probably take a Constitutional Amendment indeed. SCOTUS -- and, I will remind everyone, ACLU -- supported money as the equivalent of free speech, and we are screwed.

      We public interest lobbyists actually DO make a difference, but it has a lot to do with which party is in control of each house. It’s easier at state levels -- and critically important there, too -- but we’re not down and out in Congress when we have rational (roll on the floor over this bunch of goons) people in each house.

      My one jolly out of this is how utterly inept the Kochs’ money has been this campaign. NONE of the candidates they backed got anywhere on the presidential level.

      That said, they may be far more effective at Congress and local races, so we must never take our eyes off the prize.

      I hope YOU are doing OK? How and where is your amazing son? I miss hearing everyone’s updates, but I’m taking a major mental health break from blogging since REAL life is stressful enough, thank you!

      Be back in the Fall to rejoin my friends here on The Planet.

      In the meantime -- vote early and often as we used to say in Chicago. The other side will.

      Hugs-choicelady

      • AdLib says:

        Hey CL!

        Of course I know what a meaningful impact all of your great work for your group has made here in CA and beyond!

        I would agree with Nirek to the degree that lobbying is at its best when those lobbying are representing the best interests of people and society. Like free speech, the door has to be open too to those very selfish interests that lobby to harm the many so they can profit but with CU in place, lobbying has reached far too deeply into our democratic process (even allowing Chinese citizens and those from other countries to buy influence which is anti-American).

        With a new Progressive majority on the SCOTUS, we can indeed get CU overturned, just needs the right lawsuit to get there. I wouldn’t count on a Constitutional Amendment, so difficult and in the end, with Repubs seeing their base is shrinking and they’ll need cash to manipulate elections, I think they’ll block that.

        You have been very missed! So happy to see you here and look forward to seeing you again (and at Vox) soon!

        • choicelady says:

          Hi AdLib-

          I am ALL for using SCOTUS if we can. It would be much easier indeed.

          As it now stands, foreign donations are still forbidden to candidates, but it appears not so tough to attach to a PAC, no.

          SuperPAC money (or corporate money for that matter) cannot be given to candidates but that doesn’t stop PACs from arguing (supposedly independent of that candidate -- no “coordination”) some issue or focus that is supportive to one at the expense of another. And I see no observable limitations on foreign donations to those c-4 PAC organizations.

          What has well and truly pissed me off about CU is that it was supported by ACLU. They blithely said it would promote MORE free speech that would prompt further free speech from the rest of us. They totally overlooked how much it costs to get ads and air time out there. That was just so dumb!

          Money is NOT free speech. And yes, if we can get a good SCOTUS majority, we could overturn this obscene inequality. Would be the best thing that could happen to our election system.

          But whatever we do on CU, it does not have an impact on Congressional lobbying, and that is ANOTHER issue where CA-style regulations could do a great deal of good at the national level. There’s never NOT a job for us to do to get the reforms we so very much need is there?

      • kesmarn says:

        Good to see you again, c’lady! And even better to hear that you’ll be back in the Fall — please God, not to grieve with us over a President Trump! (Seriously, I doubt that will happen.)

        The son is currently out West with the girl friend on vacation: Vegas and the Grand Canyon are on the agenda for them. He’s also working with a U of Wisc. prof/colleague on a presentation for a world wide software convention to take place in Buenas Aires in May. (I’m kinda jealous — having never been to S. America.)

        On the home front, the Maumee, Ohio employee-owned automotive machining and stamping plant is now thriving — with a “help wanted” sign out front for skilled workers. I think of you every time I drive by.

        Take care, and — yes — vote early and often!

  3. fjb says:

    For one, CU has got to go. Hillary has stated that as one of her priorities.

    The People need a way to petition congress with new laws hence, the lobby.
    What we need to do is set up some sort of board to inspect the various petitions for validity and bearings on the laws. (Yes, another government agency.)

    Of course, corporations will try to flood the board(s) so some type of priority will have to be set so that all have their chance.
    Congress will have to report back to the lobbyists on the progress or rejection of their petitions after the board has accepted the petition.

  4. Hillary has vowed to work to do away with Citizens United. She has said so many times now. This is something that Bernie had moved her toward and they both vow to fight it. So does Elizabeth Warren.

    • choicelady says:

      Hello all -- decided to drop back in for this.

      First, Bern did NOT move Hillary on CU. Do remember who that was ABOUT? Citizens United wanted unfettered opportunity to promote a film TRASHING HER in 2008. So if anyone gets it -- it is Hillary Clinton. She was more appalled than anyone when SCOTUS (with the help of the ACLU that stupidly sided with CU advocates) ruled that unlimited spending by PACs could indeed be generated to gut all good candidates.

      She was opposed to CU before Bernie was ever a twinkle in anyone’s eye.

      Second -- think very closely about trashing lobbyists. Why? About 1/3 of them work in the public interest. Common Cause was the first way back in the day, but almost every non profit and public interest group has one either in states or federally or both.

      I am a registered lobbyist. I work for a progressive non profit and raise my voice for every issue anyone here cares about. The issue isn’t lobbying -- it’s the rules of the game. CA for example forbids me and Chevron’s lobbyist from donating one penny to any candidate running in this state. We may not DELIVER campaign donations, make behested payments to legislators, may not donate to their charitable causes -- nothing. We have just passed very strict rules on what legislators may accept from the organizations (distinct from us as lobbyists) No gifts. None. No fancy pants invitations to travel or box seats at a game -- these are now considered corrupt.

      So if states such as CA can make these laws -- the nation may do so as well.

      To get major reform you need a decent Congress. To get a decent Congress you have to vote Dem even if you don’t like the individual in your district. It’s the HOUSE and SENATE that will change these rules including raising the constitutional amendment we all want. No majority? Never happens.

      So don’t think lobbying is the sole issue or that it has to do with CU -- those are two different things. Kill all the lobbyists, you still have CU which is about campaign donations not lobbying.

      We CAN get rid of the power of money in our elected officials’ lives and operation. But we need to be strategic and NOT throw the baby out with the bathwater. ONLY the water needs to go.

      Nice to see everybody -- be well!

      • Hey stranger! Thanks for the clarification. You obviously are more versed in Hillary’s career than I am.
        It doesn’t surprise me though, considering the decades long attacks on her.
        Just for the record, I will not have to “hold my nose,” when voting for Hillary. I agree with president Obama, that she is extremely qualified for the job she is applying for. She’s whip smart, tough as nails and greatly experienced, plus she is a real policy wonk, which is what we need. FYI, I didn’t write this article.

        Stop by more often, you stinker! 😉

        • choicelady says:

          Good to see you, dear KT -- I am declining to do much because REAL life (as opposed to online life) is highly stressful these days. I decided to eliminate everything that made me tense, and I’m not blogging much right now. I do Tweet but am the ‘fastest block in the West’ so I don’t have to engage with Trumpsters or anyone looking for a fight.

          But I keep an eye on conversations, and since I’m IN the system, so to speak, I thought it a good time to pop back in.

          Be well, dear heart. Always good to see you.


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