Monday, September 19, 2011

Money Talks, And Politicians Listen!

Who's Running Ruining Our Country?

The Love Affair Between Corporations And Congress. Total campaign contributions for the 2008 Congressional elections totaled $2.64 billion. There are at least a dozen countries whose GDP is lower than this amount. That's almost $5 million for each of the 535 seats in the two houses of Congress. Of this amount, 74% came from Business, 8% from Ideological Groups, 3% from Labor, and the remaining 15% from Other sources. Business alone contributed almost $3.7 million for each Congressional seat. And Congress has been faithful in providing corporations with exemption, incentives, special deductions, and other such rewards.

Bigger Is Better When It Comes To Donations. Which corporations are the biggest contributors to Capitol Hill? Here is a list of the top 75 corporate contributors of campaign cash from 1989 to 2010. (Source: The Top 75 Corporate Sponsors) How many of these names do you recognize? Do they sound like the kinds of companies you would like to have running your country – for their benefit?

1 AT&T
20 Pfizer
21 FedEx
30 UBS
31 Aflac
33 Boeing
52 UST
56 AIG
65 CSX
71 MCI
75 Enron

This looks like a nice slice of the Fortune 500, doesn't it? However, It is more likely to be viewed as a “Most Wanted” list by politicians looking for campaign contributions.

Corporations Lending A Helping Hand. It would be nice to think that these corporations are just being good corporate “citizens” interested in helping their country. However, we all know that they are much more interested in helping themselves, and that is just what they expect Congress to help them do. The corporations know that the politicians whom they helped put into office with their money will watch out for their welfare and best interests. Meanwhile, private citizens who actually put them into office with their votes fail to get the representation that the Constitution provides.   

Coming Up.

                  U.S. Congress: Bought And Paid For

Lobbying And Its Impact On Democracy

Lobbyists Teach One Day and Get Huge Pension

Why Is Our Congress So Dysfunctional?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Problems For Third-Party Candidates

Two-Party Rule. Independent or third-party candidates face huge obstacles in order to achieve elective office. Democrats and Republicans ensure that these obstacles remain great enough to discourage all but the most dedicated outside candidates from ever mounting a serious threat to their duopoly. In most cases, it is the duopoly, and not the people, who have instituted these barriers,and they have been part of the mechanics used to hijack our democracy. As long as our two-party duopoly dominates and controls elections at the state and federal levels (and sometimes even local levels), we cannot have a truly democratic process to elect candidates who will serve the people as envisioned in our Constitution. Let's take as some of the factors that contribute to this dominance.

Special Interests. One major reason for this has to do with the wealth that the two major parties can attract from special interests who, by their contributions and other resources are able to influence public opinion on behalf of their selected candidates as well as policy and legislation if their candidates get elected. The greater the contributions, the greater the influence.
Ballot Access Restrictions. This is a problem primarily for candidates running for president, Ballot access laws in the various states can be a major barrier to third-party success. States may set their own requirements, including registration fees and petition requirements. This is a relatively small hurdle for the two major parties who dominate the elections, but it can be an insurmountable obstacle for an independent or third-party candidate when one considers that the process has to be repeated in each of the fifty states plus Washington D.C.
Redistricting. This is usually done to favor one of the two major parties, which creates a major barrier for third-party candidates to surmount.
Who Do You Trust? A candidate of an established party that has a history of performance and an established platform which has endured over time makes the candidates of the two major parties seem like less of a risk. Even if little is known about particular candidates, the parties that back them are known entities, but much less is likely to be known about minor parties, so people may be considered somewhat of a gamble to vote for them.
Incumbent Bias. It is generally much easier for a candidate to get re-elected to a position than for an outsider to succeed. Even if voters aren't overwhelmingly in favor of a particular candidate, at least that person is a known entity, and voters have doubts or at least a lack of knowledge about how the challenger might perform. Since most offices are already held by either Democrats or Republicans, this bias perpetuates their hold on the duopoly.
Wasted Votes. Because of the two-party dominance in our country and voters recognize that third party candidates have only the slimmest of chances of winning an election. People don't like to vote for them, because they feel as though their votes are wasted.
Voting The Party Line. A sixth reason has to do with party loyalty. Many people will vote a straight party line, without even considering the qualifications of other candidates. This also impacts the chances of third-party candidates.
Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils. Voters may not favor either of the two major party candidates, but feel strongly negative about one of the. They may vote for the other candidate to ensure that the one they feel negative about won't win. A seventh reason involves voting for “the lesser of two evils.”
Majority Rule? While we generally subscribe to what is referred to as “majority rule,” But we don't actually practice that when it comes to elections. Instead, we go with a plurality. If a Democrat receives 41% of the vote and the runner-up third-party member gets 39%, the person with the 41% is declared the winner. That means the majority of the voters (59%) did not prefer that candidate who is declared the winner. So much for majority rule. If the remaining 20% of the votes could be recast in some form, there is a chance that the third-party candidate could prevail over the Democratic candidate. There are forms of voting (sometimes called Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting that resolve this situation and guarantee that the winning candidate does indeed get a majority of the votes.
Proportional Representation. In this country, most states have “winner-take-all” elections. In a presidential election, that means that the person who finishes highest gets all the Electoral votes from that state. In our example above, the Democratic candidate got 41% of the vote, but got 100% of the electoral votes. The candidates that placed second and third and the candidates who voted for them get nothing. They are disenfranchised, and their votes are indeed wasted.
Exclusion from Debates. The presidential debates are run by a non-profit organization made up of democrats and republicans only. They set the rules. In 1992, Ross Perot met the guidelines to participate in the debate and, as a result, he got 18.9% of the vote. When he ran again in 1996, he was excluded from the debates, despite his strong showing four years prior. The debate rules were changed to require being on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority if that candidate were to win those states and they must also achieve at least 15% preference in pre-debate opinon polls. This virtually assures that only the two major parties will ever be in those debates, and likewise almost guarantees that only a Republican or a Democrat can get elected president.
Co-Opting Third-Party Candidates' Issues.
Conclusion.  While it is extremely difficult for an independent or third-party candidate to get elected, it is not impossible. Polls in August of 2011 indicate that 84% of the Americans polled were dissatisfied with Congress.  Politicians obviously don't pay a whole lot of attention to polls. Even with their rating languishing dangerously near a digit digit, they continue to play partisan games of brinkmanship, with the future of our country at stake.  Obviously, letters, e-mail, phone calls, petitions, and tweets have little or not effect either.  They tend to agree only with that feedback that is favorable and turn a blind eye to all the negative comments.  They refuse to get the message.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elections: Heart of Democracy or Height of Hypocrisy?

Democratic Elections? One thing our country prides itself on is the democratic process we use for selecting our political leaders. But just how democratic is it really? I postulate that the entire election process has been co-opted, corrupted, and controlled by the country's plutocracy and its political duopoly. When it come to being democratic, our elections are a sham. And here's why.

How Much Say Do Voters Have? Voters do select the candidates for various public offices themselves, don't they? Just stop and think about that for moment and look at how the process works. Do the people directly select candidates for office?  Or do they just get to select from among a list of candidates that each party provides? People within each party declare themselves to be candidates.  In some cases, the political parties themselves will recruit candidates to run on their party ticket.  These are the only choices available to the voters.
Political Parties Have Their Say.  At the state level. candidates seek to gain endorsements from politically powerful groups, the most powerful of which is their own political party.  By making such endorsements, political parties hope to influence voters toward the candidates they endorse and away from the other candidates.  So, there is already an attempt to control the elections by influencing voters even in the selection of candidates to be put on the ballots

Show Me The Money.  The essential element that powers America's elections is not the candidates, not the issues, and not even the will and welfare of its people.  There is an expression that "Money is the root of all evil."  Well, in this country, it is also the root of all elections.  To put it bluntly, it is impossible to get elected without money. The role of money cannot and should not be ignored.  It is the paramount force in our electoral process. And it doesn't hurt if the candidates themselves are independently wealthy as well.  
Here is a list of candidates from the 2010 Congressional elections who contributed large sums of money to their own campaigns, something the average citizen probably be able to do in the amounts indicated:

Major Self-Financed Campaigns of 2010
Candidate Amount Percent
Linda McMahon (R) $22.1 million 99.9%
Jeff Greene $5.9 million 99.9%
Carly Fiorina (R) $5.5 million 52.0%
William Binnie $3.6 million 75.0%
David Malpass $2.5 million 89.0%
Total $39.6 million
Average $7.9 million
House of Representatives
Candidate Amount Percent
Tom Ganley (R) $3.5 million 94.0%
George Flinn $2.9 million 93.0%
Randy Altschuler (R) $2 million 71.0%
Wink Hartman (R) $1.6 million 92.0%
Rudolph Moise $1.0 million 70.0%
Total $11 million
Average $2.2 million
Source: 2010's Self-Financed Candidates

And here is a list of 2010's costliest elections:
2010's Most Costly Congressional Races
Senate Cost*
Florida Charlie Crist (I) vs. Marco Rubio (R) et al $ 37.7 million
Connecticut Linda McMahon (R) vs. Richard Blumenthal (D) $ 30.3 million
California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) vs. Carly Fiorina (R) $ 29.5 million
Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) vs. J.D. Hayworth (R) $ 27.4 million
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) vs. Sharron Angle (R) $ 22.7 million
Total $147.6 million
Average $ 29.5 million
House Cost*
Tennessee District 8George Flinn Jr. (R) vs. Roy Herron (D) $ 7.3 million
Minnesota District 6 Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) vs. Tarryl Clark (D) $ 7.0 million
New York District 1 Rep. Timothy Bishop (D) vs. Randy Altschuler (R) $ 6.6 million
South Carolina District 2 Rep. Joe Wilson (R) vs. Rob Miller (D) $ 6.6 million
Florida District 22 Rep. Ron Klein (D) vs. Allen West (R) $ 5.9 million
Total $ 36.4 million
Average $ 7.3 million
*As of July 26, 2010
Source: 2010's Most Expensive Races

The amount of money invested in our elections cannot and must not be ignored.  You can imagine that this amount of money is not contributed without the expectation of something in return.  And Congress members seem to be all too happy to reciprocate in kind, so that they can expect the same or even greater support for the next election.

Limiting the Voters' Ability to Exercise Their Freedom of Choice. Once each party establishes its slate of candidates for the primary elections, don't the people at least get to vote for the candidate of their choice? Well, not necessarily. If a voter's preferred candidate is a member of that voter's party, the answer is certainly yes. But, typically, people who are registered with one political party are not allowed to vote for any member of another party in primary elections.  In most cases, only registered Republicans get to vote for Republican candidates and only registered Democrats get to vote for Democratic candidates.

Protecting Against Crossover Voting.  Sometimes, a party will agree to let  independent or non-partisan voters to vote on their ballot, but, even then, the voter is allowed to vote for the candidates of that particular party.  Generally speaking, if one of a voter's preferences for a particular office is a Democrat and the another preferred candidate is a Republican, that voter is deprived of voting for his or her preferred choices. This is not a democratic process.

Why Do These Restrictions Exist? These restrictions exist because the political duopoly wants them to exist. They want to limit the amount of control that the people have over the election. They are afraid that, if Democrats are allowed to vote for or against Republicans, or vice versa, it could upset the duopoly's control. It would take a whole lot of voters to do this -- probably in the millions -- but, if that many people felt that strongly about a particular candidate, wouldn't allowing them to vote either for or against a particular candidate be the truly democratic thing to do?

Big Money's Influence In The General Election.
  Candidates who take a stand for or against particular issues attract huge financial support from like-minded big-money interests who could benefit directly if their candidate of choice were to get elected.  These big-money interests help finance and influence political campaigns.  They contribute to special interest groups who fund thousands of television ads either backing the positions of their candidate of choice or attacking the opposing candidate. When it comes to such television messages, they are usually so contorted and contrived that it would tax the capabilities of a lie detector to get the straight facts. Instead of trying to inform the people intelligently, they are deliberately designed to misinform and deceive them. Too many voters are influenced by such ads, to the detriment of honest campaigning and true issues.

Truth Loses To Distortion, Innuendos, and Outright Deception.  Truth in advertising seems to be largely non-existent when it comes to politics.  The average citizen doesn't even have a chance against all of their machinations and manipulations -- and it is the voters who are being manipulated. All of this is done to influence and control the outcome of the election.     

Democracy In Action, Or Democracy Inaction?  All of this is done in the name of democracy. However, it is more realistic to say that it is done for the benefit of our political duopoly and their plutocratic supporters.  Most of the faults in our electoral process that are described here are either done by or for the benefit of the two major parties, to ensure that they maintain control, thereby freezing out any meaningful opposition from third-party candidates.  As has been stated previously, we have government of the people, by a political duopoly (instead of by the people), and for the big-money interests (instead of for the people).  This is not democracy in action.  It is just the opposite.

Coming up:  
                      Gerrymandering for Fun and Profit!  (in development)

In Presidential Debates, Duopoly Reigns Supreme

Presidential Debates: Fraud or Farce?

Problems For Third-Party Candidates

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lobbying And Its Impact On Democracy

Definitions. Lobbying can be defined as the act of influencing or attempting to influence government leaders at the national, state, or local levels to create legislation or policy or to conduct an activity for the benefit of a specific industry, company, individual, or special interest group.  The National Conference of State Legislatures ( adds that “most states define a lobbyist as someone who receives any amount of compensation or reimbursement to lobby.”

The Fourth Branch Of Our Government? Lobbying have become as integral a part of our government as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. However, the three branches mentioned were created by the U.S. Constitution, but the lobbying element as it exists today could not have been foreseen by our founding fathers, so it was neither included or excluded from our Constitution.

First Amendment Protection? Pro-lobbyists will say that lobbying is allowed under the First Amendment of the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Extracting those portions that are used to justify lobbying, we get:

Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Meaning Of The Word “People.” To some people, it is very clear that the word “people” as specified in this amendment was intended to mean the plural of person and, in this particular case, human beings who are citizens of this country. That would exclude corporate entities which are legal constructs, and who are neither human nor citizens.

Individuals could join together to pursue their legal rights as a group and not lose their identity as people. However, once a group becomes incorporated, whether they be an S corporation, a C corporation, or an LLC, that corporate entity itself is not a person. The people within it are, but the corporation itself is not.

I feel that Congress was on the right track in 1907 when it banned campaign contributions from banks and corporations Unfortunately, due to an over-zealous judge in 1886 and an over-reaching court reporter in his court, the proceedings of a case there became an irregular landmark ruling that corporations are people. (See:The Straight Dope (How can a corporation be legally considered a person?) at

Lobbyists: The Fourth Branch of Government. The role of lobbyists is to influence legislation in favor of their clients. It is becoming increasingly common for lobbyists to actually write the legislation on behalf of the members of Congress, to ensure that the wording in the bills to be presented does indeed favor their clients. This tactic must be working, because the amount spent on this activity has continued to double about every nine years, as corporations and special interest groups invest more and more in the lobbying activity.

Whom Do The Lobbyists Represent? Do they represent the best interests of the American people? What do you think? .Do they represent the interests of their clients, even if those interests run counter to those of the American people? You bet! This is just one way that the power of the people is usurped for the benefit of big money interests.  To read more about how lobbying and influence peddling are shaping legislation, keep up with the Center for Responsive Politics’ blog at

Lobbying Is Big Business ... states that there are 18,000 lobbyists in Washington in 1,700 firms, representing 12,000 clients. That means that there are more than 33 lobbyists per member of Congress. How can Congress get any work done with that many people constantly vying for their attention – or is that a self-answering question?

And It Must Be Effective. Furthermore, according to The Center for Responsive Politics (, special interests paid Washington lobbyists a record-breaking $3.51 billion in 2010.. That is an expenditure of more than $6.5 million per member of Congress. They say that money speaks. In this case, it shouts! They must be getting the results they want, or they wouldn't put out money in such huge volumes.

Follow The Money. Just what special interest groups find lobbying to be of such great value that they are willing to contribute huge sums of money to influence our government in their favor? Here is a list of the top 15 industries who have used lobbyists over the time period of 1998-2011, and the amount they have “invested” in furthering their own interests:    

Industry Total
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $2,204,027,124
Insurance $1,577,725,579
Electric Utilities $1,487,339,178
Business Associations $1,232,513,899
Computers/Internet $1,206,517,827
Oil & Gas $1,150,840,111
Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $1,010,365,149
Education $1,002,954,368
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $947,933,537
Civil Servants/Public Officials $910,330,244

TV/Movies/Music $878,307,553
Securities & Investment $848,947,340
Health Professionals $839,339,329
Air Transport $793,385,436
Source: Center for Public Responsibility:
And here is a list of the top 20 organizations who used lobbyists during that same time period and the amount of money they expended in pursuit of their interests.

Lobbying Client
US Chamber of Commerce
American Medical Assn
General Electric
Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America
American Hospital Assn
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
National Assn of Realtors
Northrop Grumman
Exxon Mobil
Verizon Communications
Edison Electric Institute
Business Roundtable
Boeing Co
Lockheed Martin
AT&T Inc
Southern Co
General Motors
PG&E Corp
Pfizer Inc
Source: Center for Public Responsibility:(

How many of these companies would you suppose are lobbying on your behalf rather than their own special interests? (Clue: You probably won't need more than one finger, if that.)
The Revolving Door: From Capitol Hill to K Street, CBS News reported on this story at While serving in government, people build up personal relationships with their fellow members. They learn how they think, what their hot buttons are, and what it might take to get their vote on a particular piece of legislation. They might even know something about them that can be used as leverage in a particularly critical situation.

Once they leave Capitol Hill, they are very valuable commodities to special interest groups. They know the people, they know the process, and they know whose arm to twist to get a particular political favor or a piece of legislation passed They become in essence a fourth branch of our government, representing the special interests of their clients, rather than their fellow citizens or the country as a whole. 

What Happens To Their Campaign Chests? Not only do these movers and shakers draw very high salaries for their efforts, but the also bring along any unspent money from their campaign chests to use on the job. They aren't supposed to spend it on personal needs, But they do feel free to use it to influence their former fellow legislators. 

According to CBS, Trent Lott went from the Senate into lobbying. He took along $1.3 million in unspent campaign funds. Lott has dipped into his campaign chest to donate money to former colleagues who could influence a deal with Northrup Grumman, who is lobbying to keep a $35 billion air force contract for plane re-fuelers. This included Senators Saxby Chambliss and Roger Wicker, who sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's also contributed to the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell. 

But Is It Legal? Government watchdog Sheila Krumholz says it's perfectly legal … but shouldn't be. “Not only do they have incredible access to their former colleagues,” she adds, “but they can give out money to those colleagues to keep the doors open," 

Added Benefits. And they don't have to be concerned about re-election, campaigning, or being held accountable by their constituents. According to the Congressional Quarterly, “195 members have crossed over to lobbying since 2005.” The Center For Responsive Politics has revealed that a staggering 79% of the members of Congress, who have left office since 1998, have found work as lobbyists. 

From K Street to Capitol Hill. A revolving door works in both directions. In this case, not only do many members of Congress move into lobbying positions to use their influence to pass legislation favorable to their clients, but some lobbyists are often elected or invited into the federal government. 
The Center for Responsive Politics reports that huge numbers of former lobbyists are now working as staff to many of our elected Congress members. The Center found that 128 former lobbyists now work in key staff positions in this Congress. These lobbyists can be found in the offices of Republicans and Democrats, senior and junior congressional members and in the staff offices of many powerful congressional committees. Some of these are now working for the same Congress members or committees that they once used to lobby. This could be a real boon for lobbying firms. Why should they have to pay for lobbyists to influence lawmakers when they can have them on the legislators' staff, paid for by the government?

A Lobbying “Dirty Trick?” Federal laws prohibit individual lobbyists from paying for Congress members' lavish trips. However, non-profit firms can do this. So, what would any good, enterprising lobbyist do? Of course, he or she would get other lobbyists to join in establishing a tax-exempt, non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization One such organization is called America's Trust. Here is how they describe themselves:

“America's Trust is a non-profit, non-partisan research and public policy organization that aims to bridge partisan and other divisions in order to facilitate the process of responsibly addressing the challenges facing the United States. To accomplish this long-term goal, America’s Trust seeks to bring experts, leaders and policy makers together across party lines to encourage honest dialogue on important issues facing America, and to provide them and the public with new ideas and research to stimulate innovative problem-solving.”

This description appears to be a thinly-veiled disguise for a lobbying organization to me. USA Today ( reported that this organization has a 12-person board of directors, and that every one of them is a lobbyist. (Their web site provides no names of any people involved in the organization other than its executive director.)  USA Today says that there are many such organizations in existence.
Law Abiding Or Law Evading? Members of Congress are reported to have taken thousands of privately-financed trips, more than half of which were funded by tax-exempt groups such as America's Trust. The reason for using this masquerade is that non-profit groups don't have to disclose their members' names or those of their donors. So, lobbyists who form such groups, can evade laws designed to limit their influence. In addition, politicians who are otherwise restricted to gifts of $50 or less from lobbying firms can go on these types on luxury trips with posh hotels and gourmet food – all funded by special interest groups. But, while they are on the plane, they are available for “educational discussion” about pending legislation and policy matters.

A Huge Cadre Of Highly-Skilled “Hired Guns."   There may be some legitimate reasons to permit special interest lobbying, but the concept as it is presently practiced is that of a huge cadre of highly-skilled “hired guns”who exert undue influence on public policy and legislation in support of their clients' interests, even when that is contrary to the will of the American people and detrimental to our country. They exert an inordinate amount of control over our government, and it is done largely outside the public view.
Uequal Access = Unfair Representation  Lobbyists enjoy special access to elected officials, which ordinary citizens do not have. In brief, it is an unfair playing field from the start.that gives lobbyists a huge, insurmountable inside edge. This is be achieved through scheduled meetings, during tours, on airplane flights, over a meal, at social or sporting events, or dozens of other convenient times. These, however, are opportunities for lobbyists that ordinary citizens do not have. It is unequal and therefore unfair access that is prejudicial to the best interests of the people


Lobbying is detrimental to our system of government. We are supposed to have a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Nowhere in that statement is there any mention of government influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups. Nor is there any mention of government for such interests.. Lobbying detracts our legislators from the interests of the American people and subverts our elected representatives with information that is biased in favor of their clients. There is no “fair and balanced” input from the other side. We have seen in the national media how information can be spun, distorted, manipulated, and abused. You can imagine how much more this can be done in private discussions between lobbyists and legislators. When lobbyists are able to promote views based upon invalid or misleading information provided to our legislators, both the lobbyist and the representative are abusing our political system.

Lobbyists have too much power. Private citizens have virtually no clout with their government officials when they are up against powerful and well-funded lobbyists. The average person very rarely has the opportunity to get the ear of his or her elected representative – even for a few seconds. Individual letters and e-mails have little or no effect. They are generally seen only by the legislators' aides and.frequently are only tallied relative to their position on a matter. Even though polls are taken frequently, it seems as though legislators pay attention only to those which confirm their views, those of their party, or those of the lobbyists. The only time they seem to be interested in the views of those who elected them is when they are up for re-election.
Citizens have too little power.  Yes, citizens can form their own special interest groups, and some already exist in certain general areas. However, without the enormous funding that lobbyists bring to the table, the voice of private citizens on individual issues is totally drowned out by the power and clout of the lobbyists. It is little wonder that so many Americans are not active in their government, but are at best just passive observers, when they are so powerless against strong special interests and their voice cannot be heard in Washington.
Conclusion I would like to conclude this particular discussion with the words of Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, when she addressed the House Ethics Committee several years ago. Her complete address to the Committee can be found at

"The ethical crisis confronting us in this House is truly corrosive. It has become the subtext for every issue we face in Washington - and Americans are suffering as a result."

"The democratic process within the halls of Congress has been forgotten, replaced by the desire to see partisan legislation pass at all costs. Corrupted bills benefiting the few rather than the many have been the result."

"We have also heard a great deal of late about the role of lobbyists in Washington. Defenders of this industry claim that because of the First Amendment, the practice is, and always will be, constitutionally protected. But what did our Founders mean when they enshrined 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances?'"

"They certainly never intended to condone a system in which private lobbying firms, wielding vast sums of money, spend their days shaping our nation's legislation - and do so to a degree the average citizen can't even dream of. And more importantly, our Founders never would have imagined that this Congress would prove so eager to cater to these special interests. Lobbyists, after all, can only knock on the door. Members are the ones who have to open it."

"In the weeks and months ahead, we need to halt this body's slide away from its most fundamental principals."

"We need to drain the swamp."

Footnote. Despite Ms. Slaughter's comments above, I have found a Politico web site ( which describes 400 fundraisers recently within a 14 day period. Included was the following small item:
“For $500 to $5,000, a lobbyist can enjoy cocktails at Democratic House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter's Capitol Hill home.”
Like most politicians, Ms. Slaughter apparently doesn't practice what she preaches, and only strengthens the case against lobbyists and our representatives who open their door to them.

Coming Up: 
                        Lobbyists Teach One Day and Get Huge Pension

Why Is Our Congress So Dysfunctional?

How Congress Has Occupied Wall Street.

Big Problems with Our Two-Party System