Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thankful


Apparently, Republicans new way to put down Democrats is to point out that they too have had dealings with sleazy Republicans.

Man, I'm so thankful we have them to teach us about the moral high ground.


This is from Times Premium, so I hope I don't get sued.

Saving the House
By
DAVID BROOKS

I don't know what's more pathetic, Jack Abramoff's sleaze or Republican paralysis in the face of it. Abramoff walks out of a D.C. courthouse in his pseudo-Hasidic homburg, and all that leading Republicans can do is promise to return his money and remind everyone that some Democrats are involved in the scandal, too.

That's a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us.

If Republicans want to emerge from this affair with their self-respect or electoral prospects intact, they need to get in front of it with a comprehensive reform offensive.

First, they need to hold new leadership elections. As Newt Gingrich and Vin Weber told me yesterday, Tom DeLay needs to take care of his own legal problems and give up the dream of returning as majority leader.

But Republicans need to do more than bump DeLay. They need to put the entire leadership team up for a re-vote. That's because the real problem wasn't DeLay, it was DeLayism, the whole culture that merged K Street with the Hill, and held that raising money is the most important way to contribute to the team.

New leadership elections would, at least, make the current leaders re-earn their slots with new platforms. At best, they would allow the party to reinvigorate itself under new management. A party led by young talents like Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Mike Pence and Mark Kirk would be taken seriously as a party of reform.

Second, the Republicans need to get a grip on earmarks.

Earmarks are the provisions that single members can stick into gigantic bills to steer spending toward favored projects. They're an invitation to corruption. If individual members of Congress can control $100 million federal contracts or billion-dollar pork barrel projects, then of course companies are going to find ways to funnel graft to those members.

To prove they're serious about special-interest spending, Republicans could declare a one-year earmark moratorium until they get a handle on this problem. Or they could promote legislation mandating that earmarks eat up only 1 percent of any spending bill's total cost.

Third, Republicans need to steal David Obey and Barney Frank's lobbying-reform ideas. For some insane reason, having to do with their own special interests, Democrats have been slow to trumpet the ideas coming from their own party. Republicans have a chance to hijack them before the country notices.

Specifically, there should be a ban on lobbyist-paid travel. (Members should be allowed to take spouses on publicly financed travel because it is important that members get out and see the world.) Former members should not be allowed to lobby on the House floor. All lobbyist contacts with government officials should be posted on the Internet.

Gingrich intriguingly suggests abolishing all fund-raising in the Washington metro area. Make the lobbyists go to the districts if they want to attend $1,000 cocktail parties.

Fourth, enforce House rules. There's bound to be corruption when spending provisions can be slipped into legislation in the dead of night, outside the normal oversight procedures. There's bound to be corruption when members are forced to vote on sprawling bills nobody has a chance to inspect. Instead, all legislation should be posted online for 72 hours before the vote, so the staff and bloggers can nitpick and expose.

Fifth, rebuild the ethics committees. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute proposes a bifurcated process. The investigations should be conducted by a commission of former members and former staffers. That way, current members are not investigating one another. Then the committees can vote on the commission recommendations.

Sixth, readopt the pay-as-you-go budget rules. As long as a $2.6-trillion-a-year government is expanding into more areas of national life, businesses will have an incentive to invest in lobbyists. The 1990 pay-as-you-go rules, which forced Congress to offset new expenditures with spending restraint not only imposed fiscal discipline but also forced pork projects to compete for limited resources.

Finally, today before noon, fire Bob Ney as chairman of the House Administration Committee. For God's sake, Republicans, show a little moral revulsion.

Back in the dim recesses of my mind, I remember a party that thought of itself as a reform, or even a revolutionary movement. That party used to be known as the Republican Party. I wonder if it still exists.


***

Tom DeLay Sez:

1) "I AM the federal government." –Tom DeLay, to the owner of Ruth's Chris Steak House, after being told to put out his cigar because of federal government regulations banning smoking in the building, May 14, 2003 (Source)

2) "So many minority youths had volunteered…that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself." --Tom DeLay, explaining at the 1988 GOP convention why he and vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle did not fight in the Vietnam War (Source)

3) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –Tom Delay, to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)

4) "We're no longer a superpower. We're a super-duper power." –Tom DeLay, explaining why America must topple Saddam Hussein in 2002 interview with Fox News (Source)

5) "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." –Tom DeLay, March 12, 2003 (Source)

6) "Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills." –Tom DeLay, on causes of the Columbine High School massacre, 1999 (Source)

7) "A woman can take care of the family. It takes a man to provide structure. To provide stability. Not that a woman can't provide stability, I'm not saying that... It does take a father, though." -Tom DeLay, in a radio interview, Feb. 10, 2004 (Source)

8) "I don't believe there is a separation of church and state. I think the Constitution is very clear. The only separation is that there will not be a government church." –Tom DeLay (Source)

9) "Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour [the minimum wage in 1996] are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist." –Tom DeLay, during a debate in Congress on increasing the minimum wage, April 23, 1996 (Source)

10) "I am not a federal employee. I am a constitutional officer. My job is the Constitution of the United States, I am not a government employee. I am in the Constitution." –Tom DeLay, in a CNN interview, Dec. 19, 1995 (Source)

***
HL Said:

"In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."

8 Comments:

Blogger Soundsurfr said...

If both Dems and Republicans are involved in the investigation, I say we just skip the time and expense of an investigation and instead, as a bipartisan effort, agree to fire all of them.

(By the way, the ratio of Republicans to Democrats being investigated under this debacle is 11 to 1.)

9:57 AM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

Jemunds at Pandagon has a post about the GOP's *plan* to get ahead of this scandal by pushing lobbying reform. Says it's been in the works for a couple of months.

http://www.pandagon.net/archives/2006/01/lobbying_reform.html

The post also said that the GOP put Santorum in charge of it.

Funny though -- I saw Byron York on Hardball and then Santorum was on Imus this morning and I didn't hear a hoot about it from either one.

I agree with soundsurfr: FIRE THEM ALL. GET THEM ALL OUT OF THERE!

It's not like we didn't know this all along -- but, jeez -- Washington is a total freakshow.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

Al!~

You've got my blood boiling now!

This country is SO SCREWED UP, I can hardly stand it anymore.

Athletes making zillion of dollars - Athletes! Make millions TO. PLAY. A. GAME. God!

The middle class is evaporating

Teachers make squat

Housing prices are un-Godly out of control

Millions without healthcare

CEO to average worker pay: something like 485 to 1

And the rationalization...the rationalization that goes on!!!

And the huge kicker: George W. Bush is president

If something's not done and done quickly -- it's over. OVER!

God!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous blue gil said...

It's me again. I'm back, not to rant and rave but to say -- you might be surprised I put sports first on that list.

I'm so sick of football and sports in general and all the importance people put on it that I could scream.

That is all.

10:19 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Welcome back BG.

Our blood should be boiling. We tried to be polite and reasonable and look where it got us.

10:50 AM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Harper's magazine had a great article by Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Silverstein last summer (July '05) called "The Great American Pork Barrel" that described the whole earmark process in scary and disgusting detail. I haven't been able to find it online, unfortunately, but if you Google it you can find some video interviews with him.


wejieyep (slang name given to a politician who just can't say no to a lobbyist)

5:44 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Yeah, what's up with Brooks, huh? That's both insightful AND funny!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Great quotes from DeLay. Well, not "great" but you know what I mean.

I'm reading Al Franken's THE TRUTH right now and there's a whole chapter on DeLay and Abramoff that very nicely spells out how depraved these guys are. Greed, vanity and all the other vices are there (along with a particular brand of vicious stupidity) yet they still turn out to be even worse than imagined.

11:39 AM  

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