Lobby Reform

“We are blowing away the fog of anonymity,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Rules Committee. “The goal is to pull back the curtain on earmarks to the public.”

The rule change shelves a wider ethics bill, however, at least until next year. That bill became bogged down amid disagreements between the House and the Senate, and the reluctance of lawmakers from both parties to limit their interactions with lobbyists. The earmarks measure was brought up as a passable way to address voter unrest over the scandals, aides said.

“This bill represents the death of lobby reform,” said Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), a former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The Senate is working on its own change in earmarks rules, which its leaders also hope to approve in lieu of broad ethics legislation this year, top staffers said. The staffers added that subjecting earmarks to more sunshine will allow lawmakers to tell their constituents that they addressed their ethics concerns even though the broad overhaul bill failed.

The larger ethics effort began with fanfare in January, prompted by a series of congressional scandals that started with the guilty plea of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff on fraud and conspiracy charges.

The ethics bill faltered, however, after being gradually diluted, at least compared with the initial promises made by congressional leaders. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), for example, advanced a plan that would have prohibited lawmakers from accepting privately funded travel. But lawmakers rejected that provision along with many others that would have restricted lobbyists or would have done more than improve disclosure about lobbyists’ encounters with Congress.

The House and the Senate did endorse separate lobbying-overhaul bills this spring, but efforts to reconcile them stalled over a disagreement about a House-passed provision that would restrict independent campaign organizations called 527s. Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans refused to accept the provision, but the House insisted that it be included in the final bill.

Lawmakers from both parties and both chambers also lost their enthusiasm for the bill as lobbying groups pressured them to water down the legislation and voters remained silent about its diminishing prospects.

I’d bet a poll on whether or not lobbying should be illegal would show most Americans feel it should.

Here’s how the vote went down. I’d bet the number of Democrats voting nay relates to their dislike of the idea that Reps will be able to use this as as political propeganda this November.

One side is centered on retreating from Iraq, the other is centered on advancing on Terror. Personally I think Iraq will work itself out and terror will continue to be a central issue. What about entitlement reform, healthcare, and government largess? I sense the next two years will be a complete waste of time, at the tax payers expense.


Ford Slashing Jobs

The two car companies also face stiff competition from Asian automakers, whose reputation for building fuel-efficient small cars is paying off in the face of gas prices that topped $3 a gallon this summer. Companies like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai of Korea have set sales records in the United States as the market share of the three Detroit companies has hit record lows. They also have new plants under construction in the United States, and may build more.

You would have thought Ford would have learned this lession the first time around, back in the early 80s, but apparently not.

In January, Ford said it would cut 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants over the next six years. It had offered buyouts first to that group of workers, but only about 6,000 employees accepted them. Now, facing the likelihood of additional job cuts, Ford is offering buyouts to all of its hourly workers, apparently in the hope that everyone at a plant set to close will accept them.

Otherwise, workers enter a program that guarantees them virtually all their pay plus full benefits for the life of the union’s contract, and they remain on Ford’s payroll until a job opens up. Given that Ford is cutting so many jobs, that is not likely to happen.

While the unions work hard at bleeding the carcass dry. Lovely.


Burning Man

Apparently, Burning Man isn’t what it used to be. With 40,000 visitors a year (compared to the rather smallish 10,000 when I visited in 97), it seems to have lost it’s charm.

The word “nausea” barely covers the full body ache you feel when “acclimating” to the Martian landscape and punishing heat of Burning Man. You can’t move, you can’t escape the dust or heat and you are surrounded by some of the most perverse and deviant people you will ever meet. Everywhere you look a “porno-copia” of sagging balls, flopping peckers, hairy asses, flabby breasts and other uninvited unattractive nakedness will strip away any remnant of goodwill you may feel towards your fellow burners as the caustic alkali dust strips away your exposed skin. What gives these naked perverts the right to expose their ugly fucked-out carcasses? If being forced to view hundreds of hairy ass cracks as you gag down breakfast sounds fun, Burning Man is for you.

The Redux post linked at the bottom of the original is also good.

Hat tip to Steve for the Link.