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Michael Kinsley has a good piece in the Washington Post today about the recently departed Anne Wexler, whose death has been widely mourned in Washington media circles. Wexler started out her career as an anti-Vietnam War activist and campaigner for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and ended up as a lobbyist for a broad swath of the Fortune 500. As Kinsley wrote:
And what is wrong with this? After all, the Constitution guarantees each of us the right to petition our government for the redress of our grievances. Plenty is wrong. First, there is nothing in this list of services about determining which side of a legislative dispute happens to be correct before jumping in on the side that has hired you. Second, if the lobbyists’ claims about being able to affect the outcome of political disputes are even close to being true, this tilts democracy in favor of those who can afford to hire them. And third, what a waste of a lot of smart people’s time! What might Anne Wexler have accomplished for causes that she really believed in if she hadn’t spent the last three decades of her life taking on any cause that walked in the door with a checkbook in hand?
I once wrote about how Wexler and her partner, former congressman Robert Walker, had written a skit for a client called the National Franchise Association (NFA), which represents Burger King operators. Here’s an excerpt:
(To the tune of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”)
Congressman, senator we’ve formed a PAC.
Now we can act, no need for tact,
Pooling resources makes very good sense
So we formed a little PAC.
When NFA’s membership starts to pitch in,
Growing the fund, access begins.
Should ever a congressman put up his guard
The PAC is our calling card…
Any lawmaker ignoring our PAC
Risks being fried like a Big Mac.
Working together’s the tried and true way to
Deliver the facts, give pats on the back
Favors attract, enemies sacked
Through NFA’s brand new PAC!
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”