The Washington Post Magazine yesterday published a must-read look at how Washington, D.C., really works. Far too often the Post and other media focus far too much attention on how election campaigns are financed and not nearly of attention on how lobbying campaigns are actually run. This type of coverage leads to meaningless regulation that assaults the First Amendment and goes by silly names like “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.”

Jeffrey Birnbaum’s Feb. 17 piece tells the story of how the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Jay Rasulo, almost secured $200 million a year in corporate pork from Congress for the “Holy Grail” of the travel industry: a permanent government-funded overseas tourism ad campaign. The article details Rasulo’s savvy and complex lobbying campaign that convinced the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to sign off on spending taxpayer dollars to help underwrite advertising for the third largest media and entertainment company in the world.

The only thing standing in the way of shelling out $200 million in corporate pork to a $63.6 billion company? Birnbaum writes:

Conservatives in the Senate led by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint saw the advertising program as an unwarranted giveaway to wealthy corporations. “It’s not a legitimate federal role,” DeMint said.

That is how real change is made in Washington: when public officials ask basic questions based on sound conservative principles. Isn’t this a activity better coordinated by the private sector? Can the government really do this better? Is this new program really a legitimate federal role? Making sure we have the officeholders that ask these questions is the only way to bring real change to Washington. Not more laws and regulations that limit the First Amendment and only increase the power of establishment Washington players.

Quick Hits:

  • Parents who weren’t told 16-year-old boys would be teaching their 14-year-old daughter how to put a condom on a banana are fighting state-required sex education courses in New Jersey.
  • Venezuela President Hugo Chavez backed off from threats to cut oil sales to the United States.
  • Despite being among the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas, China said any new treaty would fail unless rich nations were treated as the “culprits” of global warming.
  • Some corals are evolving on their own to survive warming ocean temperatures.
  • The New York Times is describing U.S. efforts to shoot down a disabled satellite before it crashes to earth as an opportunity “to showcase how the emerging missile defense arsenal could be reprogrammed to counter an unexpected threat.”