Rhymes With Hobbyist

It’s just so much fun to watch the big-time as well as the small-fry
congressmen try to keep from drowning just three weeks before
elections. They’re all in the water, flailing away to stay afloat.
Sharks are circling, but Jack Abramoff’s in the boat and they’re all
afraid to climb in with him.

It’s just so much fun to watch the big-time as well as the small-fry
congressmen try to keep from drowning just three weeks before
elections. They’re all in the water, flailing away to stay afloat.
Sharks are circling, but Jack Abramoff’s in the boat and they’re all
afraid to climb in with him.

But sharks are circling, man. Damn, if only the election was over, their seat secure and they could just go back to the way it was—all that nice, comfy money. The papers and TV keep talking about ‘disgraced lobbyist, Jack Abramoff’ as though he was something unusual.
Abramoff’s disgrace was getting caught. Then the sonofabitch plea bargained. Some 35,000 lobbyists in Washington haven’t yet been caught. But, like my old daddy used to say, “you run with dogs, you get fleas” and Washington is alive with the itch.
According to a guy by the name of Evan Tracey, who keeps a pro’s eye on political commercials, “lobbyists and special interests are the biggest bogeymen of this election.” Which is kind of a chuckle and shows just how selectively puritan this country has come to be.
The dictionary defines ‘puritan’ as

‘a person
excessively concerned about propriety and decorum, adhering to strict
religious principles; opposed to sensual pleasures.’

Man, it’s a sensual pleasure just to read that. But the point is that wrecking our country’s reputation as a fair-minded place where people can do well on their ability doesn’t seem to offend puritans.
Nor are puritans at all put off by neocons setting up the rich to
get richer and the poor poorer—as long as the rich don’t have too many sensual pleasures.
I’m not sure what you think. I have a hunch the rich get more sensual
pleasure on almost any mundane afternoon of the week than most of us do
in a year, but that’s just my take.
But the puritan voter out there, the guy whose ancestors burned
witches, is all-a-tremble come this November. And he’s the guy all
these neo-conservatives
are worried about because witch burners are such a broad Republican
constituency. Puritanism is very upset about skyboxes, hookers, $200
dinners, private jets and golfing outside the country. Propriety and
decorum are simply not to be had playing golf in a foreign land.
And I understand that. But we have to be careful about terms,
thoughtful about the language we use when we are close to throwing out
babies with bath waters.
Lobbyists are essential to government—not only government ‘as we know it,’
but any reasonable kind of government at all. Who can possibly know all
the sides of the myriad issues that come before our learned
legislators? When the Senate passed Bush’s torture bill in its closing
moments before rushing home to deny lobbyist influence, not more than
five Senators had even read it.
If they can’t take the time to read wording within legislation
affecting our constitutional rights and the security of our nation, how
are they supposed to thoughtfully balance each side of arguments
affecting schools? Most of them weren’t all that good in school. Or
maybe the wind-farms Teddy doesn’t want near his Cape Cod hangout.
Could even be something as slippery as the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act, that Rep. Bob Goodlatte slipped into the Port Security
Bill like a switch-blade between the ribs for his Indian friends.
Goodlatte is not the lobbyist for Starbucks, though he may well be should he lose at the polls.
Behind this gentle poking of fun at our sweating politicians, is the
true fact that we need lobbyists and they serve a purpose in bringing
both sides of important issues before our elected officials. In many
cases, they write legislation and there’s nothing necessarily
wrong with that. They are educated men who can write as well as think
and most of the ethically-impaired in Washington (who vote on these
issues) are hard pressed to keep their tee-times straight.
Lobbyists are necessary and occasionally even good.
The problem comes when, like oil and water, lobbyists and money are
mixed. Lobbyists and money (shaken not stirred) poured down the dry
throats of desperate legislators, are a very bad idea. It stuns me that Goodlatte can so cavalierly slip us an Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the entire (admittedly distracted) peer-group of his 434 co-conspirators can’t devise a simple Unlawful Lobbyist Payoff Enforcement Act.
When I mention desperate legislators, they have been made desperate by
the costs of re-election. Out of control. Spun out of control by
confusing ‘free speech’ with paid speech.
Paid speech, in the form of airtime, is an arms race which
primarily benefits the media, who haul off the booty every couple
years. Incumbents benefit, only because those who would buy their vote
are served by the efficiency of paying off the same man (or woman) and
not having to learn a new name. But the benefit requires an unrelenting grab for money.
The downside is that the payees are bound to the payers like Ahab to Moby Dick. Once convinced you need to take money and that everybody’s doing it, it gets easier.
Lobbyists like the system because it’s efficient and business always
reveres efficiencies. Congressmen can’t kick the money habit because
progress (a good chairmanship) in the Congress is tied to longevity,
longevity is tied to (duh) re-election, re-election is tied to funding,
funding is tied to the selling of votes and (finally) the selling of
votes has become a way of life in United States government.
But the sharks are circling.
What rhymes with hobbyist in the news;

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *