I have honestly lost track of the number of scandals that permeate our national leadership. For some 16 months, Congressional leaders did nothing to correct the constant influence-for-sale worldview, often because those charged with drafting any rules are themselves part and parcel of the problem.
A short examination reveals:
"Public Citizen says that if lawmakers are sincere about cutting off the corporate money trail, they should close travel loopholes, which currently enable industry and other interest groups to lavish lawmakers with luxury travel junkets financed through "nonprofit" shell organizations.
The group has also called on lawmakers to enact broader anti-corruption measures, like an independent oversight mechanism to monitor ethical transgressions, and strict caps on federal campaign contributions from lobbyists to political action committees.
The problem, reformers say, is that the people writing the rules are the ones charged with enforcing them, and as a result, are often the ones violating them.
In its ongoing investigation of Abramoff, the "super-lobbyist" recently convicted on corruption-related charges, CREW revealed that some of Abramoff’s closest cronies on Capitol Hill are also champions of the House lobbying reform legislation.
Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff’s extensive lobbying network, tied to the Native-American casino industry, doled out tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions to two co-sponsors of the bill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and Representative Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). The two worked with other House Republicans in 2003 to pressure the Interior Department to block the casino-development plans of a tribe in competition with one of Abramoff’s clients.
Reflecting on what she sees as a long pattern of impunity in Congress, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) remarked, "The fact of the matter is, a lot of the stuff that happened was already against the rules…. So new rules have no more use than old rules, if you don’t enforce the rules."
Some of the dust on those old rules has been kicked up by a report on lobbying disclosure by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a public-interest research organization.
The 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act requires lobbyists to report their activities and expenditures every six months, and violations carry a fine of up to $50,000, which would rise to $100,000 under the current reform bills. But in its survey of over 180,000 lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Senate Office of Public Records since 1998, the CPI found that 14,000 documents were missing, and nearly 20 percent of forms were filed late.
Researchers also found that among the 250 top lobbying firms, 210 had not fulfilled all reporting requirements. Alex Knott, the project manager for CPI’s LobbyWatch program, said that typically the disclosure forms are of little public value, "sloppily" filled out and not linked to specific legislation.
Records of penalties for non-compliance are similarly obscure: in CPI’s investigation last year, the House, Senate and the US Attorney’s office in DC, which is tasked with handling disclosure-related indictments, all provided no data on how the rules were being enforced.
"Basically, lobbyists know they can break the rules and get away with it," said Knott, noting that fewer than a dozen staffers in the Senate Office of Public Records oversee the backdoor deals of thousands of lobbyists."Now, instead, the Senate has decided that "indecency" is a problem created by television and radio programming and has voted to increase fines against stations ten times the current levels.
I suggest the same ten-fold increase in fines and jail time for Indecent behavior for elected officials.
"But Joe," cry the Parents Television Council and Donald Wildmon, "a chi-yuld could see something on the TeeVee that could rot their minds, turn 'em into liberals, and make them attend a non-protestant church service! We must protect the chi-yulds from the satanic teachings of public school and Pokemon reruns!"
High heaping piles of horseshit, say I. If you chi-yuld is so endangered, get that TV behind them, Satan! Don't own one. Or better yet, use your pea-brained half-witted dried-up brains and learn how to use the myriad of channel blocking options via most any cable or satellite box or (as forced by Congressional rule) learn to use that V-chip. If you have not the wisdom to or the depth of concern to educate yourself on how to use such technology, then get rid of it.
Don't make the entire nation pick up your slack, in whining disguised as legislation.
The fact is, the thousands of complaints of "indecency" on television were constant petitions provided by the Parents Television Council and Donald Wildmon's American Family Association (remember when Wildmon used to videotape sit-coms claiming he saw some woman's breast for an 1/18th of a second?)
Americans already have all the control they need over content on TV and radio. It's called the On and Off switch. Worried your chi-yuld might see something horriffic on the TeeVee at some sinner's house? Then why not take the opportunity to TALK to your chi-yuld about the world we all live in and that not all people hold the same beliefs as you?
As for the Senator who put forth this legislation, one Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, who wants the science of Intelligent Design mandatory in schools is himself a part of the Jack Abramoff gravy train.
He accepted $40,000 from Abramoff to stop the construction of an Indian casino in Kansas.
His other main concern of late was to submit no less than 17 bills to suspend temporarily the duties on footwear:
"Among the offerings: S. 2847, to “reduce temporarily the duty on certain footwear with open toes or heels,” and the more catchall S. 2845, affecting “certain women’s footwear.” S. 2837, for the leather lover, would reduce the duty on “certain leather and textile footwear,” while S. 2838, affecting “certain rubber or plastic footwear,” keeps the pleather lover pleased.
Stay-at-home moms aren’t left out either: S. 2850 would “reduce temporarily the duty on certain house slippers.”
And on it goes, to cover certain footwear for men, certain other work footwear, certain athletic shoes and certain athletic footwear for men and boys.
We only got confused when it came to S. 2835, which would suspend the duty on “certain leather footwear for persons other than men or women.” Which leaves what, exactly? Humanoids? Extraterrestrials?"
Looks like I've gnawed through my chain. Best to shut up now before I say anything else .... today.
I leave you with this thought - If ya don't like what you watch on TV, why are you watching it??