Sunday, June 03, 2007

The A.P. calls out the Democrats 

One thing about the Democrats moving into the majority. For the first time in the history of the blogosphere, the media has something on the left to shoot at. Here's a couple of opening grafs that you won't see every day:

After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" — lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Read the whole thing, and note the headline, too.

The Democrats have long done this sort of thing. The lesson of the last decade especially is that Republicans will do it to if they are in control, notwithstanding their erstwhile claims for fiscal responsibility. There are no meaningful differences between Republican and Democratic Congressmen now, only different constituents.

The Congressional system is busted. The "imperial presidency" is not the greatest threat to American democracy, the virtually undefeatable House of Representatives is. The only ways to reform it involve changing the rules by which we draw Congressional districts (so that 90% of the seats are no longer incontestably safe) or imposing term limits. Unfortunately, Congress is not likely to support either of those reforms, so this is what we have to live with. Government of careerists, by careerists, and for careerists, shall not perish from the earth.


By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sun Jun 03, 08:47:00 AM:

The only quasi-effective tool here is the bully pulpit of the presidency and a veto.

If Bush had any stones, he'd do exactly what Clinton did. Refuse to sign, then vocally accuse the congress of "shutting down the government".

In this era of the internet, the details of the pork can spread quickly once the veto switch is thrown. With the full text of conference bills online, even the doltish media will be able to parse through the drek and find plenty of newsworthy excesses to splash across headlines and inflame public anger.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun Jun 03, 12:25:00 PM:

This is exactly what I have been saying for a long time, the system is broken.

Not only at the presidential level, but at the congressional level as well. And apparently the Federal Judiciary and US Attorneys are also in on the fix. Increasingly PAC's and moneyed interests are conniving with professional politicians to manipulate public opinion and avoid discussion of the real issues.

But it is our own fault if we are not intelligent and well read enough to see through the ruse.

Traditionally, the American political system has been reformed via the formation of third political parties such as the Republicans in the 1860 election or the Progressives in the early part of this century.

This is why I have been voting for any third party candidate who has a chance to get more than 5% of the vote. There is nothing that inspires more fear in the hearts of professional politicians than the election of third party or independent candidates.

If we are going to fix things we need to get a viable third party going. Unfortunately, in lieu of that I have been voting Libertarian in the last few elections. So don't blame me for the mess we are in. I say "Death to tyrants!", throw them all out of office. Power to the people, indeed!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 03, 12:36:00 PM:

I would like to see constraints imposed upon state legislatures that severly restrict their ability to gerrymander districts. My suggestion for IL, where I live, would be to requrie the legislature to bisect no more than 18 townships (subtracting one from this figure for every trisected township) in creating our 19 congressional districts. This simple rule would allow elected politicans (which is where the responsibility should lie) some leeway for mischief, but check their ability to completely game the system.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun Jun 03, 12:41:00 PM:

By the way, PA, what you are missing in the whole equation is that the Republicans are no longer the party of fiscal responsiblity. So we now have Republican Pork (welfare for the wealthy, corporations, and the military-industrial complex) and the traditional Democratic Pork.

Either way the deficit is getting larger which will eventually lead to a loss of American power and influence. We will have the aircraft carriers but will no longer be able to operate them if the Chicoms stop buying our treasuries. And if Chavez succeeds in getting oil priced in a market basket of currencies (which only seems reasonable in light of the dollar's further deterioration), this will only compound the problem.

I am convinced that if we do not do something soon that a decline like that of Great Britain in the early part of this century is inevitable.

Unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency any where in the government. All we have is sniping about funding for the war in Iraq when everyone knows if we pull out the Shias win, Iran takes over the Shat-al-Arab, and the Saudis will acquire a nuclear option in response. Unfortunately, defeat is NOT an option here under these circumstances.

And yet the ultimate source of our eventual demise, the national debt and the federal deficit, go largely unaddressed by either party. Increasingly our policy options will be dictated by what others allow us to pay for, which is not at all satisfactory in my opinion.  

By Blogger tm, at Sun Jun 03, 05:09:00 PM:

We've seen this story arc before in the past few months: Dems in the Congress get flak for failing to pass this or that promised reform, and then it's passed shortly thereafter.

Given that, I'm not particularly concerned. Tighter rules will be passed.  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sun Jun 03, 05:20:00 PM:

Tighter rules will be passed.

Perhaps. Even if they are, they'll be promptly ignored. Who enforces the rules congress operates under? The congress, that's who.

The fox is guarding the chicken coop.  

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