Bob Higgins

Bill Moyers, Cleaning Up Washington

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on June 5, 2007

Born on this day in 1934

America’s corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own, they’re privatizing democracy. All the benefits, the tax cuts, policies and rewards flow in one direction: up.
Bill Moyers

I happened to be reading Moyer’s Blog early this morning looking for his interview with Public Citizen’s Joan Claybrook which I missed when it aired on PBS last Friday on “Bill Moyers Journal.”

The subject of the segment was lobbying and lobbyists and their pervasive influence on our political system.

I have a large measure of respect for both Moyers and Claybrook and an enormous loathing for lobbyists and their destructive influence on MY country and I was disappointed to have missed the program.

Fortunately for me I learned from Karl Rove that Al Gore invented the internet a few years back, and that invention led to the discovery of You Tube where I found a clip of the segment and I feel very good about the modern world this morning.

If you are at all interested, as you should be, in the machinations and corruptions of our polical system by the Bob Neys, the Jack Abramoffs, the Billy Tauzins and other disreputable and criminal scum who infest our government and engage in buying and selling it these days I recommend that you watch the video.

Coincidentally, it seems like an appropriate time to once again ponder the the corruption in our government and to seriously consider, again, again… doing something to put an end to the revolving doors and corrupt and unethical congressional behavior, after yesterday’s indictment of another sitting congressman (Louisiana’s own William Jefferson .. hmmm… Billy Tauzin was from Louisiana too) on bribery and racketeering charges.

Just about a year ago, around the time that the Feds were breaking down Jefferson’s office door, I wrote a somewhat awkwardly titled and probably, awkwardly written piece The Mother Of All Public Airings Of The Dirty Skivvies, in which I ranted briefly about the corruption in Washington. I reread it this morning after reading accounts of “Dollar Bill’s” indictment and marveled that I had, at that time, a somewhat hopeful tone, because I fully expected the Democrats to sweep back into Washington at mid term, surfing on a tidal wave of the foul detritus of Republican corruption and really polish up the Washington Monument and everything else in sight.

Those were heady and optimistic days for me, I had survived a heart attack, learned that I would likely survive to a decently old age, Abramoff was singing his heart out, Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney were preparing musical arrangements of their own and it looked like the lid was going to blow right off the old Washington sewer.

I gushed:

Democrats do not wait, do not falter, this day, this very day begin to cleanse your ranks of the filth, of the rot, of all those unworthy to serve the public trust. You know them well, you have ignored and protected and excused them far too long, and they have held us back like a great sea anchor, made from the mainsail of our Ship of State and torn from it’s proud and proper place flying high and boldly before the winds of history.

Take the lead Democrats and do it this day, the gods and the people wait and watch.

I blush as I read it this morning but I was so much younger and idealistic a year ago, and this morning after the last months of watching my Democratic leadership fold on nearly all fronts, from health care and pharmaceuticals to Iraq and ethics reform, watching their cowardly accommodations and their lust for the largesse of the lizards of K Street, I am much older.

The Democrats were voted back into Washington and the several statehouses by the people, to do the work of the people, to put a stop to the corruption, an end to the war, to renew our economy, and return us to a position of respect in the eyes of the world, not to do the bidding of the Big Oil Trust, Big Pharm, the National Association of Manufacturers or the defense industry.

They were elected to throw the moneylenders out of the temple not to grovel by their side and worship Mammon with them.

I’m straying a bit here from “Happy Birthday Bill” I suppose but I set out to pen a small tribute to his work in past years of exposing the kind of corporate and governmental collusion that I believe is at the heart of our public malaise as well as to express my respect for the work of Public Citizen.

From Ms Claybrook:

When corporate lobbyists raise campaign cash or help lawmakers get lucrative lobbying jobs after leaving office, the democratic system is corrupted. It’s also expensive. Lobbyists throw their financial weight around Congress to get tax breaks, contracts, loan guarantees, subsidies and regulatory cutbacks for their corporate clients. Meanwhile, those of us with legitimate concerns about drug safety, global warming and high gas prices have trouble being heard at all.
Joan Claybrook from Public Citizen

The scandals brought on by the criminal relationship between lobbyist Jack Abramoff and members of Congress * like Tom DeLay and Bob Ney * toppled Republicans in 2006. The Democrats came to power on the promise of draining the swamp and ending the culture of corruption.

So where are we now?

We are still fighting for some very modest reforms for transparency in the way that lobbyists and members of Congress conduct business.

See Watchdog Blog

The lobby and ethics reform bills passed by the Senate and House will be joined in a conference committee when Congress returns to work next week. At least one critical reform found in the stronger Senate bill may be in jeopardy: slowing the “revolving door.” This refers to the practice of former lawmakers taking high-paying lobbying jobs after leaving Congress, hired because they know the system and have special access to ask former colleagues for favors.

Under the current law, public officials are prohibited only from “direct” lobbying * and only for one year after office. This means that former lawmakers can run lobbying campaigns for clients as soon as they leave Congress * as long as they don’t pick up the phone or meet personally with a lawmaker. This is completely inadequate.

If I have a point here aside from birthday greetings it is this, the only thing that will save our Democratic Party is extreme pressure from you and I, we, after all are the base, the core and the soul of the party and we must not allow it to become another tool co -opted by the theo – plutocracy.

Write to the Party leadership, piss and moan in the media and in print, loudly, boldly and clearly.

My America, our America, cannot survive without a Democratic Party.

Oh yeah, donate to Public Citizen and to Bill Moyers Journal, it’s his birthday you know.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

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