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Nov-27-2007 11:02printcomments

Unethical Scumbags in Oregon's State Legislature

The voters know the lawmakers and officials are SUPPOSED to be doing the work of the PEOPLE, not just the work of the lobbyists, and the deeper their apathy goes the hotter their anger grows.

Oregon State Capitol
Oregon State Capitol

(SALEM, Ore.) - This most recent legislative session that we had in 2007 was nice. It was productive. It avoided most of the acrimony of the previous sessions that were under the iron bootheel of (would-be Empress) Karen Minnis who ran the Oregon House as if it were her own ideological dominion.

There were a few hiccups. The blatant ramrodding of recently passed Measure 49 for example that ignored and marginalized an entire side of the legislature. And the lobbyists for Big Tobacco managed to block reasonable legislation forcing the legislature to go the unsuccessful route of Measure 50 for the tobacco tax which was also purchased with massive influxes of out of state cash - record amounts in fact.

Hopefully this February session will see the influence of the lobbyists wane under the new ethics rules put in place during the recent session.

But wait...

Clearly seeing how effective it is for the agendas of their well funded clients to just purchase the votes of legislators (much like they purchased the votes of the voters in the last election, although more directly) through bribery the lobbyists have squealed like stuck pigs over the limits placed on their lavish gift giving (read: bribes) to the lawmakers and other government officials.

They claim that to deny them the right to bribe, and buy the legislative process lock, stock and barrel, is somehow an infringement on their right to free SPEECH.

Keep in mind they can still SAY anything they like, so their speech is unimpaired.

They can even give the lawmakers lapdances (in private of course) as ruled recently that lap dances are protected free expression.

But I, for one, fail to see the logic behind calling bribery 'free speech'.

And just how stupid do they think we are, these well dressed scumsucking slimeballs who prowl the halls of power with their sacks of money and other filthy lucre in their attempts to buy OUR representatives, that they think we will not see that bribery is not free speech or expression any more than kidnapping a child or spouse of a legislator and holding them until the lawmaker votes a certain way?

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Bribery is a very corruptive influence on politics... this is why is it criminalized. And lavishing lawmakers and officials with bottomless bar tabs, expensive lunches and dinners, swank trips to Hawaii or Scotland or maybe even free RVs or boats, college tuitions paid for their kids, cushy high paying figurehead jobs for spouses etc etc etc is bribery.

Make no mistake about it.

Which is why, spearheaded by the freshman class of lawmakers, the state legislature created new stricter ethical rules that, amongst other things, limited to $50 per year what any individual or group that has business with the government can give during any year to any lawmaker or government official.

If they want to take them out for a single nice dinner once a year, fine.

But it prevents the buying and selling of influence to some degree.

Granted, there was nothing done to limit campaign contributions, the other side of the bribery aspect. If PAC A gives $100,000 to the campaign of politician X you can bet politician X knows full well if he does not go along with the agenda of the PAC the money from them will stop flowing. But at least contributions like this are, allegedly, reported and tracked as public knowledge.

The bribery done by the lobbyists is far less so.

What harm all this bribery by well funded organizations and people does is twofold -

First it gives those with the funds to do such bribery much more influence in government than those citizens who have the same RIGHT to EQUAL access and support by their representatives, but more dangerously.

Second, it undermines public confidence in the political system. The average citizen comes to believe, true or not, that all the politicians are bought and paid for and couldn't care less about the needs, wants and agendas of the 'Little Guys'. With that comes disillusionment, then apathy.

We already see a lot of the apathy in the abysmally low voter turnouts. We have vote by mail in Oregon. Every voter gets a ballot in their mailbox for every election. All they need to do is vote and put a stamp on the return envelope and send it back in, and they have 2-3 weeks to do this in. It could not be made easier to vote. The voter does not even need to go to a polling place.

Yes this gives us higher voter turnouts than most other areas. But not astoundingly so. The answer is apathy. The voters see no point in voting. After all, why bother to elect anyone when all who are running are bought and paid for by moneyed interests, not beholden to their constituents for anything but the stray photo op.

Or that whatever the voters vote on will just be changed by the legislature who has no respect for the will of the voters.

It is the apathy and low turn outs that gave political parasite Bill Sizemore and others the idea of a double majority for property tax increases on the ballot, knowing that most elections never have a 50% voter turnout and that by limiting the exempted elections to one every two years it forces every taxing entity to pile onto a single ballot numerous bonds, etc, that are sure to give the voters sticker shock causing then in general to vote No on most or all of them. Since Bill Sizemore relishes the idea of no tax ever passing (he would dearly love to eliminate all taxes if he had his choice I am certain) this works right into his goals.

But for the citizenry, even those gullible fools who are so manipulated into opposing taxes even when the taxes should be passed, they are forced to live in a state where their ill-conceived and shortsighted choices force cuts to services, eliminate funding for infrastructure maintenance, etc.

And of course these folks are the first to whine and cry that there are too many potholes in the roads, not enough cops on patrol, that many crimes have effectively been decriminalized since the government does not have the funds to investigate, prosecute and (if convicted) incarcerate in those cases, etc. They complain that class sizes are too large. They complain that the infrastructure is falling apart.

But in all their complaining they never look in the mirror for the reason... themselves and their votes, or lack of voting.

So they turn to the legislature, who they refuse to adequately fund to do what needs to be done, and just think they are bought and paid for by the lobbyists so it is all their fault. The impression is that if you do not have wads of cash, box seats for Blazer games, tickets to Maui etc. you will not be given the time of day by the legislators.

In far too many cases this unfortunately does seem to be the case.

Which of course gives the lobbyists even more power and influence.

What is bred along with apathy is anger.

The voters know the lawmakers and officials are SUPPOSED to be doing the work of the PEOPLE, not just the work of the lobbyists, and the deeper their apathy goes the hotter their anger grows.

And sooner or later that anger boils over into action, often violent. We see it around the world and like to think it could never happen here.

But then we see things like the anti-war demonstrations in Olympia, Washington and the police with their jackbooted near goosestepping stormtrooper response and it becomes clear that not only CAN such happen here, but that it ALREADY IS HAPPENING HERE.

If these lobbyists suing to overturn the ethics rules succeed they will have created a precedent for a Right to Bribe.

And that is an extremely dangerous precedent to set.

It will further, even more so than presently, divide the population into those who have the funds to exercise the Right to Bribe and the vast majority that does not.

That majority will only have the Right to Riot which will tear this nation apart. The growing gap between the haves and have-nots is already dangerously accelerating.

The nation is already dangerously close to being thrust into another civil war between the many have-nots and the few haves. And just like Marie Antoinette discovered in the French Revolution, no matter how much money you have a pack of peasants can still chop off your head.

What will be most perilous is that this nation, if it comes to such inner strife, is a military superpower, and the rest of the world will not be comfortable with that situation and may decide to remove us as a threat to them.

All because of voter apathy... all because of this disgusting idea put forth by the attorneys for the scumbags, errr, the lobbyist of a Right to Bribe.

Far better to preserve these ethics rules and make even more. Politicians have proven that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing, generally speaking, unless forced to do so by rules and laws. It is unfortunate but it is basic human nature. Then, maybe, the voter apathy can give way to voter confidence followed by greater voter involvement and support for their government that they will, then, see as being worthy of support.

We can just hope for this, as the only obvious eventual outcomes of the current trends are the destruction of this nation from within.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Neal Feldman November 30, 2007 6:19 pm (Pacific time)

Jefferson - The dems do not control yet as they need 60% solid to do anything they like... if republicans have just 41% they can block... such as they did last session to force M50 to be made. Ah well...

Henry Ruark November 29, 2007 10:33 am (Pacific time)

To all: For current read-out on credibility for neocon-Jeff, working as if shill for Bush-cabal democracy-damagers, see ongoing Op Ed thread. He speaketh out of side of mouth, and you all know what that meaneth...and defies, denies, tries to defeat any honest inquiry re right to speak via special background, training, knowledge, experience or whatever. Ask him to send you his source-link, for check

Jefferson November 29, 2007 8:10 am (Pacific time)

The democrats currently control the process, what, oh what will they do? Maybe Pelosi will guide these morons?

Henry Ruark November 29, 2007 4:49 am (Pacific time)

To all: Now that we know --without further possible doubt or even indecision-- the true causes of the consternations evident wherever corporate personhood is allowed to provide heavily compelling money-power vs the individual or citizen-group, we can start the democratic process of remediation. What better time-or-place than the forthcoming February legislative session ? Let YOUR voices be heard, now, well in advance, if this is to be other than "routine, and return home rapidly." We need corporate tax reform urgently; we need more and stronger ethics guidance for benighted and becalmed legislators; we need a final end to that national joke negative to Oregon, "$10 minimum corporate tax". This channel can only become as strong as your thoughtful and probing Comments. BUT it can become what you will it to be, with the wit and wisdom inherent in our fine Oregon-style of life.

Henry Ruark November 27, 2007 3:20 pm (Pacific time)

To all: The real key to this horrible damage to democracy is UNequal opportunity and access, provided by the very heavy money-power of corporate wealth derived from everyone else. Best ref. I have found to the entire system-impact is: UNequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights; Thom Hartmann; paperback 2004; ISBN 1-57954-955-1. I list about 30 other titles in documentation for Op Ed coming up later here today, available on ID and request to editor.

Henry Ruark November 27, 2007 11:36 am (Pacific time)

Friend Neal et al:
First, strong declaration that we have never met, do not exchange notes or any other form of documentation, and therefore cannot be collaborating on our Op Eds.

I think that's undeniable proof of the ongoing values of open-channel, truly democratic dialog, one weapon we can all use, if we will...

THEN forgive direct reference to Op Ed upcoming later today basically about "corporate person-hood", which is where-and-why corporate dollar-power is now allowed to create precisely those overwhelming circumstances you so comprehensively cover in this excellent review of realities as they exist --not only in Oregon, and in every other State, too, but worldwide.

Yet, we as a people can still control and shape our cooperative destinies, if we still have the wit, wisdom and will do to so !.

@!@x.nfnrf !!.,kl,mi !! No, that is not typo-line, but continuing comment !!!

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