Well I really wanted to post something about the State of the Union sooner, but it is really hard to keep up a blog with a busy schedule. Excuses aside, let’s hope you all subscribe to the “better late than never philosophy”
State of the Union (SOTU)
Of course I watched the SOTU, because I was interested, but I also watched it for work so we could be ready for reaction to the press ( keeping my personal opinion to myself of course). The one thing I can say is Obama is a great speaker…he is funny, he is personable, he is someone I would want to hang out with. It was an hour plus SOTU address, and I listened to the whole thing. I could not have listened to an hour of Bush…and I believed in his policies. He had a little something for everyone in his speech but here were my concerns.
· Excessive use of “I” and “me”. If you are looking to bridge the gap and work with both parties for consensus, I would recommend a little less focus on oneself.
· We spent less than 5 minutes on Homeland Security. We just glossed right over our security. Now I realize I have an excessive concern for homeland security and that really, most people are interested in domestic issues right now with the economy. But I just wanted a little more. It re-enforce my concern that we are weak on Security. That being said, I am excited to see they are rethinking this idea of trying the terrorist ring leader in NY. (I could..and may..do an entire blog on giving Miranda rights to FORIEGN terrorists. Absolutely ticks me off. Let’s spend the money somewhere else and focus on giving constitutional rights to US citizens first.)
· That it was rather taboo to call out the Supreme Court. Not only call them out, but call them out when you know the court’s ruling on Campaign Finance DID NOT open the door to foreign countries donating to our elections.
There were also two things that he stated that I thought will come back to bite him in the butt:
1. The “worst” of the storm has passed (referring to the Economy)
2. ALL troops are leaving Iraq soon
What happens when unemployment goes up and we don’t have spending under control. Is the worst really over? I don’t think so…but good news here…I am not an economist.
Also – where is the last place US Troops rolled into, declared war, and then completely left? I can only think of one…Vietnam. Not sure I would have said, “All” troops are coming home.
And of course my number one problem with his entire speech was his referral to those darn unethical lobbyists and blamed them for ruining everything (See Next Section for More). I have never seen someone wage such a campaign against a certain profession! Sure we have Lawyer jokes, but do we blame them for the economy, excess spending, DC’s inability to get things done? No!
Oh yes, Mr. President..you are going to have to quit pretending to be an outsider. Not sure if you noticed, but the Washington Monument sits outside your window and your neighbor is the Capitol.
My Life as a Dirty Lobbyist
So one thing that did come out of the SOTU is that we are going to put EVEN MORE restraints on registered lobbyist. We are also going to close the loop hole that allows people to de-register. (Currently if you spend 20% or more of your time lobbying you have to register as a lobbyist). This 20% threshold is used so that you, as a common citizen, do not have to register as a lobbyist if you come visit your Representative about an issue of concern or if you simply right him a letter expressing your views. The other thing they are going to try to pass is increased reporting requirements on where lobbyists go, who they meet with, what was discussed, and the duration of the meeting. Perhaps I can just suggest strapping a video camera to my head with a live feed to the Internet. I have nothing to hide, but really don’t want to spend time every day logging my daily activities. Can you imagine if you had to log everyone you met with on a daily basis for posting on the Website. Oh yes, and he pointed out the White House visitor book for all meetings happening in the executive office. Note to Mr. President…I am not in there…and I have been up there to meet with political appointees. Now, I think they just have not gotten to my meeting…but I will give it a few more months before I determine we are selectively identifying WH visitors.
This is what really annoyed me. I got this email on Friday:
On Monday, February 1, 2010 at 1:00 p.m., XXXX XXXXX of the Office of Management & Budget will offer an “off the record” briefing to review the Information Technology elements of the FY11 Budget Submission from the White House. This meeting is open to non-lobbyists.
No, this is not the first time I have been banned from a meeting. Certain agencies are worse than others. Some want to ban you…others just want to identify you. (Again, I need to start making and selling a Scarlet L so we can all be identified properly) As a taxpaying citizen, I am being excluded from a particular meeting because of my occupation. Doesn’t that seem strange to anyone else? My taxes help pay these people’s salaries, but yet I cannot attend a meeting to find out how my money will be spent?
What if our government sent out this email but instead it said, “This meeting is open to Men” or “This meeting is open only to Illinoisan” Or “This meeting is open only to Plumbers” People would be outraged. But we have decided to blame lobbyist for all that is wrong with Washington. Like all professionals, you have bad apples, but that doesn’t mean you can disparage the entire profession.
Let me just leave you all with a small reminder of what Lobbyist do (They petition their government on behalf of groups of people to advocate for or against something) and what the First Amendment says:
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.