ETHICS IS SO... DULL AND ABSTRACT. SO WHY NOT JUST LET THE REPUBLICANS STEAL EVERYTHING?
This morning I was thinking a lot about the pervasive Republican Culture of Corruption in DC and how the gross practice of congressmen taking overt bribes, like Cunningham and Ney, is just a tiny part of a much worse sickness that is having a terribly corrosive impact on our democracy and on our whole nation. Bush and his bandit regime are more than mere posterboys for this. They have let their greed-obsessed allies in Congress run wild-- in return for the prone, rubber-stamp posture on governing-- and they let the congressmen take the million dollar chump change while they take the generational wealth-- the billions of dollars-- for themselves and their families.
"Ethics" is a dull and nearly meaningless subject for most Americans. Most of us assume-- and, alas, correctly that both parties are corrupt. Democrats don't have to look at Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum and Bill Frist and Jerry Lewis to find corruption, although you'll never find more egregious examples than the quartet on monsters I just named. Whether Democrats want to fight fire with fire or because they don't give a rat's ass, they-- the Inside the Beltway species at least-- have burdened themselves with the leadership of a sleazy lowlife like Rahm Emanuel, for example. He is the mirror image of Tom DeLay and perhaps what we will have to look forward to after November are Democratic insiders who want to get their piece of the action after over a decade on the outside looking in.
True, this Republican-led Congress is more corrupt and the corruption is more systemic and interwoven into the fabric of governance than anything in American history. But is what we're looking for just Democrats who are less corrupt than Republicans? Today the rubber-stamp Republican majority-- joined by 8 make-believe Democrats who all need to be defeated; I wouldn't vote for one of them if he was running against Adolph Hitler or Tom DeLay-- voted to pass David Dreier's sham "ethics reform" bill. David Dreier (R-CA) is a closeted gay man who lives his life in the shadows and lives a lie with every breath he takes. His entire miserable and pathetic existence is one based on deceit. When Denny Hastert appointed him to head up the Republicans' approach to ethics, he knew exactly what he was going to get. And the 8 right-wing so-called "Democrats," all of whom seem to vote with Republicans more than they should be able to and still be allowed to call themselves Democrats, are also shams, shameful shams. You should remember these names; they have all been written about often on DWT-- and always because they vote like Republicans and against Democratic core values:
The kinds of Democrats who really oppose this sort of disgraceful sham reform, Democrats with not even power inside the Democratic Beltway Establishment, were best represented by Louise Slaughter, a courageous congresswoman who really does want actual reform. "Republicans are insulting the intelligence of voters by thinking they'll be fooled by this joke of a reform bill. Make no mistake: voters are paying attention, and they can tell the difference between lip service and real reform... Our proposal would have ended the culture of corruption—their bill is a dangerous fraud."
If it weren't so tragic it would almost be funny that Slaughter's Motion to Recommit (ie- kill Dreier's sham bill) was defeated 213-216 today. Dreier's lobbyist-and-corrupt-politician-protection bill passed the House 217-213, but only after the lobbyists' best friend in Congress, Majority Leader John Boehner, the man from Big Tobacco, held the vote open long enough to strong-arm the dozen or so reform-minded Republicans into voting with them. If voting had ended when time expired, Dreier's snake-oil bill would have been defeated. Ironically, one of the provisions in Rep. Slaughter's rules reform package, H.R. 686, would have provided a record of which members switched their votes after time expired. Unfortunately, Boehner, Hastert, DeLay and the rest of the crooks who run the House GOP have absolutely refused to consider her bill.
Slaughter's bill bans travel on corporate jets; bans gifts, including meals, tickets, entertainment and travel, from lobbyists and non-governmental organizations that retain or employ lobbyists; prohibits lobbyists from funding, arranging, planning, or participating in congressional travel; makes it a criminal offense and a violation of the House Rules for members to take or withhold official action, or threaten to do so, with the intent to influence private employment decisions (ie- shuts down Santorum's and DeLay's K Street Project); prohibits former congressmen, executive branch officials and senior staff from lobbying their former colleagues for 2 years; eliminates floor and gym privileges for former members and officers who are lobbyists; and requires members and senior staff to disclose outside job negotiations; ends the practice of adding special interest provisions in the dead of night by prohibiting
consideration of conference reports and other legislation not available in printed form and on the Internet for at least 24 hours; requires full and open debate in conference and a vote by the conferees on the final version of the legislation; and prohibits consideration of a conference report that contains matters different from what the conferees voted on.
Instead we got Dreier's revolting proposal. It features unchanged limits on "gifts" (a polite, more dignified, but no less pernicious, way of saying "bribes"); all the fancy trips any member wants to take from any corporation anywhere; no oversight on lobbyist campaign contributions (zero transparency); no ethics training for members; no slow down on the revolving door between Congress and Big Business lobbying; no disclosure rules for lobbyists when it comes to coordinating with political campaigns (like by giving millions of dollars in advertising for candidates who pass special interest legislation for them); no enforcement of anything, not even the weak rules that exist and, thanks to Jerry Lewis' hissy fit, no reform in the much abused earmarks tactics when it comes to tax and authorization bills.
If we're sick of being ripped off we should vote against every single congressman who voted for this crap-- regardless of political party. The Democrats-- named above-- and the Republicans, should all be defeated in their bids to remain at the public trough. And then we should demand that our legislators take up real ethics reform-- which has to start with public financing of political campaigns.