Democrats & Liberals Archives

Ethically Challenged Officials

We the people are losing our position and strength in our government. The lawmakers are no longer working for their constituents. They are no longer held to a high standard. We tolerate their unethical behavior and chalk it up to politics as usual. When we take that stance it only emboldens those politicians who are corrupt and the lobbyists that line their pockets. Capitalism should not be the single driving force in our government, yet the citizens of the United States have watched their power and their voice in government usurped by the wealthy elite and large corporations.
Even the people who are supposed to be the ethical watchdogs in government have failed us.

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 5, 2005; Page A02


“The House ethics committee, the panel responsible for upholding the chamber's ethics code, has been virtually moribund for the past year, handling only routine business despite a wave of federal investigations into close and potentially illegal relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists.

With a California congressman headed to prison for accepting bribes and several others under investigation for accepting lavish gifts and money from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, one might expect the House committee to have a lot of work to do.

But the committee's five Republican and five Democratic members have not opened a new case or launched an investigation in the past 12 months.”

Government watchdog groups say they are appalled that ethics overseers in both the House and Senate have done nothing in the face of a growing number of ethics inquiries against members of Congress.

So far this year, at least seven lawmakers have been indicted, have pleaded guilty or are under investigation for improper conduct such as conspiracy, securities fraud and improper campaign donations. In the past two weeks alone, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned from Congress and pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy, and public relations executive Michael Scanlon admitted his role in a conspiracy to try to bribe a congressman.

In addition, The Washington Post and other publications have reported that a host of lawmakers -- Republicans and Democrats, senators and members of the House -- are being examined by the Justice Department for their connections to Abramoff, a lobbyist who, with his former partner Scanlon, billed Indian tribes $82 million in fees that may have been put to improper uses.

And that's not all. The spouses of lawmakers and their aides-turned-lobbyists -- including those of DeLay -- are also under scrutiny as part of the Abramoff scandal."


This is not the government for the people, by the people. It is a government that has sat around and become rotten. We allowed this to happen. We must fix it.
In 2006 we have a chance to save our government. We have a duty to save our government. We must vote out those who have turned their backs on their constituency in favor of lobbyists and special interest groups.

If a wealthy real estate developer who gave a $100,000 donation to a Senator or House members campaign wants to be heard on an issue that will be debated in congress or the senate, he will be heard and sadly, be able to influence the decision our government makes on that issue.
If a poor to middle class elderly person wants to ask that same Senator or House member why her co-payment has increased by $10.00, she has no access to her state lawmakers, and no real voice, and will be dismissed immediately.
We must rid the United States government of the career politicians who have no desire to serve the greater public good. They have too much power and influence and way too easy access to our tax dollars.
We must fight for campaign finance reform.
We must rid our government of lobbyists and special interest groups.
We must look for those politicians who demostrate character and strength, not an uncanny ability to fundraise and get chummy with the "right" people.

Posted by Andre M. Hernandez at December 6, 2005 9:36 AM
Comments
Comment #99265

Andre,
“We the people are losing our position and strength in our government. The lawmakers are no longer working for their constituents. They are no longer held to a high standard. We tolerate their unethical behavior and chalk it up to politics as usual.”


That’s so true. Npw, what do you propose to be done about that? And, let’s try not to get partisan on this issue. Try giving a straight-up, no nonsense answer. I say, when a politician is busted or not doing a good job, we all lobby to call them out. Cut across the party lines and say “this politician is not doing a good job, yada, yada, yada,”. Not go after a politician b/c they are effective for their party; rather, get on them when they are not representing “we the people” anymore. Now, I realize that’s a good (good) number of them; however, it’s our country and we need to be represented.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 6, 2005 10:21 AM
Comment #99273

The answer is voting ind. The problem is there isn’t anyone worth a damn running as an ind.

Posted by: David at December 6, 2005 10:58 AM
Comment #99276

Andre M. Hernandez,

You are so right.
Now, what are we going to do about it?
Why do we keep repeating this cycle?
Voters need to realize that this is a natural process, in which government is always trying to grow more corrupt, and only the voters (who will suffer from that corruption) can limit it.
Voters need to understand the natural human tendency to seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain. Thus, without transparency, government always grows corrupt, by virtue of the power that voters grant the politicians.

There is a growing anti-incumbent sentiment, but I hope voters carry through this time, and also demand transparency.

My hope though this time, is that voters follow through after doing the hard part of voting out incumbents, by also demanding transparency so that voters can see which politicians are responsible, and which are not.

I realize at the root of our problems is laziness. People seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain. And, positions of power, without transparency, will breed corruption. That’s just a simple fact of human nature. Laziness is a human tendency, but it is immoral to surrender to it completely.

Thus, voters must learn that government, by virtue of the power voters grant it, there will be abuse unless voters also insist on transparency, which yields accountability, which yields responsibility. And, it would also yield peer-pressure amongst politicians to police their own ranks. Imagine that?

So, how do you get transperency?
It’s not complicated at all.
None of it is as complicated as politicians like to pretend.
Transparency really only requires a little common sense and simplification of processes that have been unnecessarily over-complicated (by design) in order to be abused.
Voters merely need to follow through this time, and learn that they can never ignore government, because it always leads to corruption. The longer corruption is allowed to grow, the harder and more painful it will be to reform. It can, and occassionally, even leads to civil unrest (or worse).

So voters should also provide a To-Do list to Congress, and promise politicians will be voted out, or recalled if they refuse to the simple, no-brainer, common-sense things on the To-Do list.

EXAMPLES of TRANSPARENCY:
__________________________________________
[1]Here’s an obvious simplification to reduce corruption, waste, and graft.
ONE PURPOSE PER BILL: Start simplifying government by allowing ONLY ONE PURPOSE PER BILL (i.e. only one or more items that are necessary for the one purpose of the one bill). This will cut out the pork-barrel and graft that sneak into huge bills, in which pork-barrel consisting of numerous unrelated items is hidden within thousands of pages that few (if anyone, much less voters) reads or scrutinizes. This will allow voters to easily see how politicians voted. Currently, it’s nearly impossible to know why a politician voted for or against a bill.

[2] CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM:
Government should not be FOR SALE. Simply impose limits (e.g. limit contributions to 10% of average American annual income). The constitution currently does not allow the elimination of political contributions, but it can regulate them. Thus, limits are needed. Otherwise, government is FOR SALE (like now).

[3] END LEGAL PLUNDER:
Stop plundering Social Security and Medicare. Those system wouldn’t be in trouble had politicians not been allowed to plunder them.
Also, end the special, cu$hy, multi-million dollar retirement benefits for members of Congress and the Executive branch. Eliminate Congress’ right to vote themselves a raise. Only voters should determine when Congress should get a raise. Perhaps Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement systems would not be in trouble, and perhaps over $8 trillion dollar National Debt would not exist, had Congress been limited to the same Social Security system they plundered and mismanaged.
Stop stealing from the Social Security funds, and stop stealing the surpluses. Stop over-complicating things unnecessarily in order to hide abuses and plunder, and stop perpetuating the “great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else” — by Frederic Bastiat 1848 .

[4] TAX REFORM:
This a no brainer. For details, see this.

[5] BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT:
Fiscal irresponsibility is one of the first signs of an irresponsible government. Introduce and pass a “BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT” bill. Make it the LAW. Also, place limits on borrowing, and the ONLY exception allowed for over-spending is for national emergencies, and those funds are limited ONLY for national emergencies. Stop over-spending. Stop pork-barrel spending. Prosecute those that violate this law. And, the Federal government must begin (now) paying $1 billion per day to pay down the debt, which could take about 127 years to pay off completely. The daily debt payment must slightly exceed the daily interest (currently now about $1 billion dollars per day for interest ONLY); otherwise the $8 trillion dollar national debt will continue to grow larger forever.

[6] FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY:
Then, cut spending and waste, eliminate duplicate, overlapping, and unnecessary departments, agencies, commissions, committees, etc., reduce the waste, and start reducing the Federal government to only the few things that it is best suited to do. Do we really need all of these offices, departments, agencies, etc. ? Initially, the Federal government was only supposed to provide for a National Defense. Perhaps we should try to get back to the few original responsibilities? In 2005, the Executive Branch employed about 2 million people, and the Congress employed several hundred thousand people, and many of them get paid a lot of money to do what? The nation could be headed for a Fiscal/Financial meltdown due to a potential, simultaneous culmination of several serious problems continuing to grow in number and serverity.of the following to create the perfect storm:
_______________________________
So, who could argue with any of that?

So, why not do the most simple thing:
(1) that is the most honest, safe, non-partisan, peaceful, inexpensive, logical, fair, and responsible way to peacefully force government to be responsible and accountable too. Government should not be FOR SALE. Voters should simply oust irresponsible incumbents. It’s what voters should have been doing all along.
(2) that has the necessary peaceful force required. No other peaceful plan does.
(3) that can peacefully force a restoration of the balance of power between government and The People, with out merely shifting power, or stripping all power from government to accomplish anything.
(4) that would be quicker; We are running out of time. History repeats itself. If we ignore it, we will be doomed to repeat it (again). This plan can yield results faster than what we’re doing now. What we’re doing now ain’t workin’ is it? The nation may not be able to weather another decade of fiscal and moral bankruptcy.
(5) that provides the necessary unpredictability and disruption to force change; Change has historically always required some disruption. This plan promotes a peaceful solution. But, if it fails, the final solution may be a repeat of history anyway, which will be harder and more painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #99278

What qualifies an organization as being a “special interests group?”
If US Tobacco or Exxon cannot support a candidate, then the UAW, NEA, NAACP and others should not be able to.

Posted by: kctim at December 6, 2005 11:31 AM
Comment #99286

I would ban political contributions from any corporation that is not 100% owned by U.S. citizens. Owners of foreign owned corporations (in part or whole) should not influence our government. Govenment should not be FOR SALE. That would effectively eliminate most corporations.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 11:57 AM
Comment #99287

Ethically Challenged Officials ?

That’s funny really, seeing that it is a huge understatement.
How about “Crooked, Greedy, and Corrupt Officials” ?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 11:59 AM
Comment #99293

Unfortunately, R Reagan and the Teflon presidency showed that by simply planning for disclosure of your dishonest and amoral behaviors (often by picking the fall guy in advance) largely enables you to avoid prosecution.

The solution is for the voter to hold all politicians, from your party and otherwise, accountable. If we act on the truism “Where there’s smoke there’s fire”, then perhaps our pols will be a little less willing to walk that line between lies and near lies. And with honesty, will come effectivity and an increase in the common good.

Posted by: Dave at December 6, 2005 12:18 PM
Comment #99299

Dave
“The solution is for the voter to hold all politicians, from your party and otherwise, accountable”

I think we are well beyond that ever becoming a reality.
To stay current:
The left refused to hold their people accountable with clinton and now the right refuses to do so.

If the “otherside” wins, America loses.
The People now fear the “otherside” winning so much, they feel they would be throwing their vote away by voting for a person who has no chance of winning, which in turn, would allow the “otherside” to win.

The People now fear the “otherside” winning so much, that they are willing to compromise doing whats best for the country, so that their party stays in power.

Ethically challenged officials?
Only if they are from the “otherside.”

Posted by: kctim at December 6, 2005 12:34 PM
Comment #99300

D.A.N.
I hope you don’t mind me quoting you from another site. I also hope your infomation is correct.

I can’t help but wonder why any of these people are involved in our government. They apparently can not handle their own money, or obey the law. Why would anyone vote for them?

While I do not advocate tossing out all of the incumbants, these people really should go. I just wish I knew who they were by name. Then I could check them out myself.

__________OUR U.$. CONGRESS_________________
7 that have been arrested for fraud;
19 have been accused of writing bad checks;
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses;
3 have done time for assault;
71, repeat 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit;
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges;
8 have been arrested for shoplifting;
21 currently are defendants in lawsuits;
84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year;

Something to think about.
Linda H.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 6, 2005 12:37 PM
Comment #99303

Kctim,
If the “otherside” wins, America loses.
The People now fear the “otherside” winning so much, they feel they would be throwing their vote away by voting for a person who has no chance of winning, which in turn, would allow the “otherside” to win. The People now fear the “otherside” winning so much, that they are willing to compromise doing whats best for the country, so that their party stays in power. Ethically challenged officials? Only if they are from the “otherside”.”


Good point. Another problem is if we choose “no side” then the “otherside” wins as well. That’s b/c low-voter turn out helps out the party that dominates that area.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 6, 2005 12:43 PM
Comment #99305

What’s with this “ethically challenged” bullshit? A Crook is a crook. A liar is a liar. A thief is a thief. Part of the reason we are in this mess is that we gloss over this stuff with pretty euphemisms because we are afraid to “offend” some sneaking, lying, thieving jackanapes that should have been run out of town years ago. Sometimes I think the last good president we ever had was Harry Truman. I sure would have been more enthusiastic about voting for Kerry (I voted for him anyway) if he had had the balls to call W a LIAR, which is what he is, after all. It doesn’t matter if somebody is Dem or Rep, both sides have some good points…but HONESTY should be DEMANDED above all else. The most pathetic part is that nothing much ever happens to these bums…they get off, or get pardoned, and end up with some cushy “consulting” job. Perhaps it is time to bring back the guillotine.

Posted by: capnmike at December 6, 2005 12:48 PM
Comment #99307

d.a.n.

I like your post and agree with most of what you write. There is one problem though. As far as voting goes all across this country people like their Congressmen/Senator. It is always your Congressmen/Senator that is the problem. For example and not to get political per say. The one Senator I hear about all the time who people don’t like or scream about is Ted Kennedy. However, the people in his state don’t feel like many of the people around the country. They love him.
You see everyone likes their guy, the problem is with everyone else… That is what makes the problem with just vote them out so difficult. Let’s say I don’t like Tom Delay. It doesn’t matter, I live in California and he is in Texas. The same thing could be for people in Kansas that don’t like Barbara Boxer, but the people of California continue to vote her back into office.
I like your post, I just don’t know how it can ever work on a national level. With redistricting, people all vote in unison. In my district for example, it is the most conservitive voting district in California. We will always vote for a conservitive congressmen because a bad conservitive congressmen is better than a democrat of any kind. That is what redistricting has done to my state. Only a Republican will win here, and then their are other districts of course where only a Democrat would win. The political parties are just as much to blame in my opinion as the congressmen/senators…

Posted by: Rusty at December 6, 2005 12:49 PM
Comment #99323

Rhadigly,

“Npw, what do you propose to be done about that? And, let’s try not to get partisan on this issue. Try giving a straight-up, no nonsense answer.”


“We must fight for campaign finance reform.
We must rid our government of lobbyists and special interest groups (their influence overrides ours).
We must look for those politicians who demostrate character and strength, not an uncanny ability to fundraise and get chummy with the “right” people.”

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 6, 2005 1:29 PM
Comment #99325

Dan,

You have some excellent ideas. I am really looking for someone regardless of party, to make a genuine attempt to run in 06 on this type of government reform platform. Transparency and the simplification of government processes is a giant step for the people of this country to take back the power we have given away.
It will also help to eliminate alot of the excuses used by the lazy/ no-voters to get back into the voting process and the holding of those who we vote for accountable.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 6, 2005 1:42 PM
Comment #99332

Andre M. Hernandez,
You have hit the nail on the head with your post. Perhaps another way to control the governemnt might be to get in touch with the ones who keep voting themselves salary increases. By in touch, I mean call and write them, and then vote them out.

I understand why we pay (however it should be compensation, not a salary) our officials, but unless I am way wrong on my history, it seems that most of our early Presidents and governmental officals served at their own expense. Since we already know it takes money to get elected, perhaps we should re-consider the salaries we pay. It might also encourage them to actually do something, so they could go home and work and make their own money, instead of wasting time and our money arguing with each other, and accompolishing nothing.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 6, 2005 2:00 PM
Comment #99336

This may be a rather simplistic view, but if you want to deter corruption in government from career politicians then you should make it impossible to have a career in politics. Our President can’t have more than 8 years in office, so why not limit length of service for Senators or Congressmen?
Speaking of service, why has everyone forgotten that politicians are supposed to be public servants? The founding fathers created a government where the politicians work for their constituents, not lobbyists. They were never meant to have a career in politics, but rather to work temporarily for the betterment of society as a responsibility of citizenship and then go back to their jobs in the private sector.
I think we should strip down our government to a “no frills” level so that the only benefit derived from a politician’s service is the satisfaction that he or she did something good for his/her country?
That being said, how do we go about creating such a drastic change in our now corrupt and befuddled system of government? I really want to know.

Posted by: Kevin at December 6, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #99339

Kevin,
“if you want to deter corruption in government from career politicians then you should make it impossible to have a career in politics. Our President can’t have more than 8 years in office, so why not limit length of service for Senators or Congressmen?”


Good point. I’m definitely for term limits; especially w/ the Supreme Court. And, I know the founding fathers didn’t have in mind for the Supreme Court to have the power they have now. Maybe removing the gerrymandering would be another solution for congress.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 6, 2005 2:21 PM
Comment #99343

Rhadigly,

I also think that elected officials need to do polls and research before voting on bills, so that it is the will of the people they are representing that is the driving influence on what policies are successful and what policies are halted.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be asked what environmental issues were important?
If a bridge for 12 people were neccessary?
A toothbrush museum really important to the community?

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 6, 2005 2:33 PM
Comment #99355

Andre,
“I also think that elected officials need to do polls and research before voting on bills, so that it is the will of the people they are representing that is the driving influence on what policies are successful and what policies are halted.”


I agree. I would add that the polls should have direct, specific questions so there’s no confusion or partisanship with the polls. I’m not a big fan of polls and that’s one of the reasons why. Also, make sure the polls are evened out amongst liberals,conservatives, independents, etc. Too many times there are polls that are taken by more from one party over the other; you can’t get an accurate representation of the voters when they are slanted.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 6, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #99370

Thanks Rusty.

Rusty wrote: d.a.n. … There is one problem though. As far as voting goes all across this country people like their Congressmen/Senator. It is always your Congressmen/Senator that is the problem. For example and not to get political per say. The one Senator I hear about all the time who people don’t like or scream about is Ted Kennedy. However, the people in his state don’t feel like many of the people around the country. They love him.

Yes, I understand that all too well.
We can’t reach or convince everyone.
But we don’t need to. We just need a few
percentage points to tip the scales away from incumbents.
BTW, I don’t like my representatives or Senators in Congress.
The bar is set too too low these days.
Newcomers are quickly perverted by the system due to numerous pressures and tempations. But, I’m looking for better solutions if they exist. I will truly consider other ideas if they make sense. But, continuing what we’ve been doing isn’t working, and we could be running out of time. I’ve got a dreadful suspicion that an economic meltdown is probable around 2009 if we don’t immediately stop the irresponsible spending and borrowing and printing money (interest on the debt is now over $1 billion per day !).

Rusty wrote: With redistricting, people all vote in unison. In my district for example, it is the most conservitive voting district in California. We will always vote for a conservitive congressmen because a bad conservitive congressmen is better than a democrat of any kind. That is what redistricting has done to my state. Only a Republican will win here, and then their are other districts of course where only a Democrat would win. The political parties are just as much to blame in my opinion as the congressmen/senators…

And the voters too. They need to learn to never ignore what those in government are doing, because what it is doing is always growing more corrupt, if allowed. Only transparency (common sense simplifications), and accountability (law enforcement) can yield responsibility. But, government won’t reform itself now. Now, only the voters can peacefully force government to reform.
_____________
Linda H.,

Anytime. Yes, it is true. I researched it a long time ago before posting it. Some of the details are missing. There was originally a list of names to go with it. But, in the many years I’ve been posting it, no one has ever challenged it. Probably, because it is true. The information was originally taken from a series of articles that appeared in an on-line publication called Capitol Hill Blue (whose motto is “Because nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session …”) in August 1999. It has since gained widespread currency (understandably).

Actually, the list should be updated, because it
would probably be even more outrageous than in 1999, given all the corruption, and arrests lately. And it doesn’t even mention Janklow who had a bad habit of speeding, and had a lot of tickets to prove it, and was convicted of manslaughter for speeding and running a stop sign, and killing a man (a 55 year old Army veteran) on a motor cycle in Dec-2003. Janklow (R-SD) also tried to weasle out with a really, disgusting, lame diabetes defense. The jury wasn’t buying it. But, that’s a first (i.e. blame diabetes for driving over the speed limit and running a stop sign).

The evidence of just the corruption we know about is staggering. Just think of all the corruption, back-room deals, and graft that go on that we don’t know about.

At any rate, here’s ample evidence of the corruption, greed, irresponsibility, and unaccountability of Congress. Just consider some of these examples of the difficult decisions Congress makes daily:
_______________
[] Vote for $107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail or Vote for body armor for troops with armor ?
[] Vote for $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck or more funding for disabled veterans ?
[] Vote for $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud or more armor for humvees and military vehicles ?

see more here … or …here.

[] Vote for $1 million for a Seafood Consumer Center or reform our ridiculous tax system ?
[] $57,000 spent by the Executive Branch for gold-embossed playing cards on Air Force Two or more and better weapons and armor for active duty troops.
_______________
None of that (above) even remotely strikes me as responsible and accountable.


Kevin,
Those are good ideas. I agree with that. And, it’s not simplistic. It demonstrates that you understand human nature and human psychology. Humans will alway seek security and prosperity with the least effort and pain. And, often, if opportunity and power exists, people will do so unethically. Thus, the transparency and such rules as you suggest are pausible solutions to compensate and deal with these problems we often (lazily) ignore. Thus, the solutions must take into account this rather unattractive truth about human nature. To ignore it is to invite abuse and corruption.

Andre Hernandez,
Yes, you are so right. And that is where the 3rd parties and independents come in. I hope they are paying attention. Actually, I know for fact that many are. This growing anti-incumbent sentiment is a opportunity that doesn’t come along that often. The other larger anti-incumbent movements were back in 1951-1958, 1976-1980, and 1992-1994, so there is a historical precedent.

capnmike,
I agree. Ethically Challenged is a funny understatement. Like saying government is a bit too beholding to political contributors, or slightly distracted with partisan issues, or mildly preoccuppied with raising money for their re-election. Your anger is understandable. I’m angry too. But, I have to hold myself responsible too. I used to be Republican, and used to be seduced into the circular pattern of petty partisan warfare, demonizing the other party, and allowing myself to be distracted from real issues. But, better late than never, I finally discovered how I allowed myself to be duped, and even became fond of wallowing in the petty partisan warfare. But, I’m not playing the game anymore. And, now that I have removed my partisan blinders, I feel like I can see again. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I no longer have to squirm around trying to defend my parties irresponsibility and unaccountability. So, I’m non-partisan. I really don’t see the need to support any party any more.

Someday, perhaps, when voters have the sufficient transparency to see who is really responsible, and who is not, and politicians have some incentive to police their own ranks, then perhaps the nation can really move forward, and really remain a super power, and a true land of the free, and make new history (rather than repeat history again and again).

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 3:23 PM
Comment #99394

Adrienne,
Yes, election fraud is serious. But we’ve got to oust the lazy, do-nothing, bought-and-paid-for incumbents, and get some newcomers to help us enforce the law and prosecute anyone committing election fraud. John Conyers was supposed to be lookin’ into that. Has anyone been arrested or indicted yet?

What good is voting if it’s all rigged.
How do you fix voting fraud first, without removing the corrupt politicians that allow it, or possibly even foster it.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22. The best approach is a simultaneous approach. Because, immediately after voters oust a great number of incumbents (like they did in 1952-1958, 1976-1980, and 1992-1994), the voters must follow through with a short To-Do-List, which contains items that insist upon transparency, elimination of election fraud, election finance reform, ONE PURPOSE PER BILL, and end to legal plunder of Social Security and Medicare, better law enforcement, a BALANCED BUDGET amendment, etc.

And, if they can’t agree to these common-sense, no-brainer, responsible tasks, voters should start recalls and/or vote those incumbents out in the next election. And I will be keeping score. And so will cagw.org and many other organizations that are fed up with government corruption.

Thus, we also need to move forward with elecitons, and try to oust as many irresponsible incumbents as possible, because the newcomers will be able to help us enforce the law and punish those that commit election fraud. The newcomers will understand that the status quo will be their fast-track to their own recall or getting voted out.

Force is necessary.
The voters have it, if the learn to wield it.
The voters can do it now peacefully, or
we can all wait until The People are extremely fed up, and resort to less peaceful solutions. That’s not a lame attempt to use fear. There is historical precedent. Just look at this cycle .

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 5:05 PM
Comment #99399

Article by Brad Friedman (of Bradblog) written at Arianna’s request for The Huffington Post.

A bit from the article:

Well here’s the good news: You’ve got another chance. A chance to pay attention. This time before it’s too late. That is, if it isn’t already.

Elections in 2006 and 2008 are just around the corner and you Democrats are making big plans. Good for you. You probably think you’re in a terrific place to regain your majority in Congress and perhaps even re-take the White House. You probably are. Or at least you might have been…

Because here’s the bad news: Unless you follow Phillips’ advice and pay attention now to what has happened to your Electoral System in America — to what is happening even as you read this every single day in every single Board of Elections in every single county in every single state in America — you will be in for an even bigger surprise in ‘06 and ‘08 than you found yourselves waking up to on the morning of November 3rd, 2004.

Because here’s the deal: Your Electoral System in America — theoretically the world’s greatest democracy — has been sold to the Corporate Interests of the very good friends of the Neo-Republican Party in America. It’s gone. It’s been sold. Your Republican and Democratic elected leaders watched it happen. Gave their approval. And you let them do it. And now…your democracy is no longer in your hands. That is, unless you do something now about it.

So as you fight your fruitless fight to save a Supreme Court from falling over a Righwing cliff, I hope you realize by now that your store is being well-looted from right under your well-meaning noses. Your Supreme Court fight is already lost. You lost that one long ago. You lost it last November 3rd when you bought into the impossible notion that an incredibly unpopular Republican “President”, in the most contentious National Election ever, with the largest turn-out in the history of America, during an incredibly unpopular war, suddenly and magically — after being behind in the standings the entire day — suddenly and still-without-explanation-or-accountability “won” by the time the “results” were in. You lost your Supreme Court battle and so many others when you failed to stand up that day and ask questions. When you failed to demand answers. When you failed to fight for the Right to Vote in America and to have that vote actually counted. When you failed to hold anybody accountable for your once-great democracy. When you failed to be vigilant.

You (Democrats) bought those “results” in 2004 and you (Mainstream Media folks) didn’t bother to question them. You were both, apparently, under Dubya’s post-9/11 spell when you believed in a greater America than the one that we actually have: An America were nobody would ever cynically or criminally game a National Election to retain their stranglehold on power. Such a notion was as impossible to believe or forsee as a President of the United States lying an entire nation into a war…or somone flying a commercial airplane into a building…or the levees breaching in New Orleans.

Who could have ever forseen such things happening in America?

Now you can shrug off this blog item, or anything else I’ve ever written, as a “wild conspiracy theory.” That’s up to you. You are still allowed that much freedom in America. You can buy into your Rightwing “ditto-head” talking points about folks like me wearing “tin-foil hats” to bed. You can say that folks like me have nothing but “sour grapes” because John Kerry didn’t win. (I didn’t vote for him — just so you know.) You can go get on with your day and your life just as you did when you heard those warnings — and you know you did — about Osama wanting to destroy America or there being no WMD in Iraq or a Hurricane that might someday destroy the Big Easy. You can continue to believe in the ultimate sense of goodness and fairplay of Americans in America. There is a great number of people and a great deal of money riding on you believing all of those things after all.

Or you can pay attention — this time to the FACTS and to the warnings — before it’s too late.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 6, 2005 5:23 PM
Comment #99411

There is an answer, made up of several parts. All would require something that is sadly missing in politics today. It’s called courage. It has been pointed out that the founders of this great land never envisioned a professional political class. So, let’s go back to the beginning: a Constutional amendment limiting terms to 1 12 year term for senators and 2 4 years terms for representatives. THESE LIMITS WOULD BE LIFETIME Also, ban all soft from from any source. Limit the amount of money that can be donated to a candidate, not a party. All contributions must be used by the candidate. Finally, enbaling legislation that would set the penalty for any violation of the above at 5-10 years in prison and a fine of 10 times the amount of money involved.
It will never happen because there is not one politician in Washington with the guts to get the ball rolling. Too bad, it looks like we are stuck with what we have because, despite all the calls for more voter involvement, it just ain’t gonna happen

Posted by: jback814 at December 6, 2005 5:41 PM
Comment #99423

That was very well written.
I also like the non-partisan approach.
Brad Friedman doesn’t sound like he’s buyin’ into the circular pattern of distracting, petty partisan warfare anymore either.

He’s absolutely correct.

And, that’s why I’m skeptical about the committees and law enforcement that were supposed to be investigating voter fraud.

Want to hear something really ridiculous?
There are illegal aliens voting in state and national elections in Texas (probably many other states).

This is what happens when government is FOR SALE.

And, he is also correct about the corporatism and corpocrisy. That’s because corporations (not even 100% American owned) can make political contributions. Thus, government is FOR SALE. Incumbents are all bougt-and-paid-for.

I agree with all of that. It’s not just the ravings of a lunatic. Every point and conclusion he makes is sound, and backed up by substantial evidence.

Brad Friedman wrote: You can continue to believe in the ultimate sense of goodness and fairplay of Americans in America. There is a great number of people and a great deal of money riding on you believing all of those things after all.

That belief in goodness and fairplay is false. People don’t really believe that.
The problem is really one rooted in laziness.
The lack of attention to these problems is fueled by laziness. When will action to solve these problems begin? Only when doing nothing becomes more painful than taking action. Or, if sufficient visibility is given to the problem.
Unfortunately, it’s necessary to be a bit of a pest to get people’s attention (for their own good). Sadly, laziness is human nature. Most people seek the path of least resistance, while lazily ignoring the fact that the end of that path is a dead end. Almost all bad things can be traced back to this one bad trait. Education and visibility is needed. The voting fraud in Ohio and other states (despite the large magnitude of it) didn’t get much attention did it? So, voter fraud is your pet peeve. Irresponsible and unaccountable government is my pet peeve (which includes voter fraud). Perhaps, if we all join to give these problems more visibility, perhaps voters will begin to notice?

Personally, and I know a lot of people disagree, I believe the only hope to peacefully force government to reform is for the voters to get angry and fed up enough to finally do something about it. We may be approaching the point now. It occurs from time to time.

It would be nice however, the next time, if the voters also carry through, and provide some goals for the newcomers to instill some transparency so that voters can see who is responsible, and who isn’t. With all the secretiveness and unnecessary over-complications we have now (such as 10,000 page, pork-laden BILLs), we can’t tell why anyone would vote for or against a BILL. We’re in the dark. We’ve got to acquire more transparency, and that is easy. It’s just common sense simplifications and elimination of secretive practices designed to reduce transparency for the purpose of abuse. Just follow the money, and you’ll see where transparency is needed.

Transparency and Visibility.

And to quote Brad Friedman (above): Or you can pay attention — this time to the FACTS and to the warnings — before it’s too late.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 6:04 PM
Comment #99425
jback814 wrote: …It will never happen because there is not one politician in Washington with the guts to get the ball rolling. Too bad, it looks like we are stuck with what we have because, despite all the calls for more voter involvement, it just ain’t gonna happen

jback814,
I know how you feel. It seems hopeless. But, rather than resign to despair and futility, why not simply vote non-incumbent, and insist one some simple, no-brainer, common sense, responsible changes? The voters must have courage too.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 6, 2005 6:09 PM
Comment #99478
But the committee’s five Republican and five Democratic members have not opened a new case or launched an investigation in the past 12 months.

andre,

This is the root of the problem right here. Our Constitution gives congress the right to self govern themselves. Take that away and put the ethics committee in the hands of independent outsiders, then we may see an improvement. The only way that will happen is if congress enacts it or if the Constitution is amended, also a partial act of congress. The chances of them doing either by themselves are slim to nil. The pressure for change has to come from the voters. It’s the only way.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 9:17 PM
Comment #99484
The answer is voting ind. The problem is there isn’t anyone worth a damn running as an ind.

David,

This and the VOID campaign may be temporarily effective, but it is only a bandaid at best. How long will it take to corrupt the non-incumbent. Isn’t the saying one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Unless you gut congress and start over fresh, the apples will just keep going bad. To effect real change the people must take the power of self governance away from congress and set strict rules on how congress should operate. Give the power to the people. Since this is a constitutional matter, it makes it difficult to do that.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 9:35 PM
Comment #99487

OK Rhadigly,

This time it’s your turn to help me. Npw?

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 9:54 PM
Comment #99489

D.a.n.,

You have some really good ideas. Maybe the DNC needs to hire you. I would vote for the party that ran on this platform.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 9:59 PM
Comment #99494
I understand why we pay (however it should be compensation, not a salary) our officials, but unless I am way wrong on my history, it seems that most of our early Presidents and governmental officals served at their own expense. Since we already know it takes money to get elected, perhaps we should re-consider the salaries we pay. It might also encourage them to actually do something, so they could go home and work and make their own money, instead of wasting time and our money arguing with each other, and accompolishing nothing.

Linda,

Unfortunately, this is another of those things that our Constitution let the politicians decide for themselves. I think our Constitution is a wonderful document, but when it comes to the power congress to regulate itself, it is just downright stupid. If the Constitution were written today, there is no way we would allow congress to self police themselves, and award themselves raises.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 10:08 PM
Comment #99501
voters should start recalls and/or vote those incumbents out

d.a.n.,
I am not sure about the VOID campaign. The reason being is that the major parties will just spin the shit out why it happened and it will lose it’s intended message.

I do think the recall idea is excellent. A recall would be clear and get the message across that if you are going to shit on the voters, then you get recalled. Even if the end result is that the person retains their seat, it does get the message out, and the mainstream media would pick up on that. I’m not so sure they would pick up on voting out a few incumbents.

Everytime a politician acts unethically, the recall process should be started. Then see how fast things change.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 10:23 PM
Comment #99506
It will never happen because there is not one politician in Washington with the guts to get the ball rolling.

Again, if the Democrats were serious about winning in 2006 & 2008, they would pick up on this and run with it. Who wouldn’t vote for someone who campaigned on d.a.n.’s commonsense platform? Then once they were in place, they would have to keep their promise or face recall/ VOID. Dems need to stop running on a platform of “the other side is wrong”, and start running on a platform on how to make it right. If they did that they would be so much further ahead.

The way I see it there are two major issues on the minds of voters right now. The Iraq war and corruption in Washington. The Iraq war is a hopeless issue for the Dems. They cannot win that argument. They need to come up with a unified message on the war, then move onto other issues, including reforming congressional rules to stop corruption, and restore accountability. It would be far better for the Dems to have a strong stance on one major issue then to be wrong on one and ignore the others. Its simple math; 0+1=1; 0+0=0.

Under normal circumstances, neither party would even think to run on a platform of Congressional reform (the equivalent of biting the hand that feeds you.) But these are not normal circumstances. The Dems have been made almost moot in Washington and corruption is running amuck. The public is getting fed up. The Dems desperately need an issue to propel them forward and back into power. Such a platform may just do it.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 6, 2005 11:05 PM
Comment #99539

END CORPORATE INFLUENCE:

My idea is that political contributions be limited to $2,000 per year, per social security number. PERIOD.

Simple, easily enforceable, no ifs, ands, or buts.

No corporate contributions.

Posted by: dave at December 7, 2005 1:50 AM
Comment #99705

Our leaders have approved a $3,100 pay raise for themselves.
I’m sure we’d all agree that this is a slap in the face to the military families who are struggling in the absence of their husbands and wives. This is an insult to the poor and elderly who are struggling with heating costs and medication. It is politics as usual, which makes it that much more disturbing and sad.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 7, 2005 10:02 AM
Comment #100210

Jay Jay, you raise a good point, but not one which stands as an obstacle. The underlying premise of your question as to why the replacements won’t also become corrupt, is that the system is corrupt, and well intended new politicians become corrupt by being forced to play the corrupt party and political system to the advantage of the party and incumbents it serves.

But, then don’t you see the wisdom of voting out the incumbents who are responsible for the corrupt system being maintained? If Democrats and Republicans lose their assurance of incumbency, the parties and the remaining incumbents and the incoming freshman will have a fire under the butts to change the laws and rules that now protect the corrupt system. If their incumbency depends on restoring responsibility, accountability, and optimal service to the American people, then it will become so.

All that is left is for the voters to demonstrate to them in no uncertain terms, that in fact, their incumbencies do depend directly upon restoring honest, ethical, multi-partisan, transparent, and responsible government, responsible to the voters and nation that is, not campaign donors, lobbyists, and other special interests representing extremely small percentages of individuals in this country.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 8, 2005 12:47 PM
Comment #100666

This is what America gets for not hiring real true born poor Americans to get things done they hire discusting RICH FOREIGNERS RICH JEWS RICH WHITES to run America this is what you all get for being stupid.

Posted by: Albert Garibay at December 9, 2005 4:30 PM
Comment #101018

The facts proves that poor whites poor blacks poor legal mexicans and the first people in America the Indians the poor and working class in this hell hole United States My country kicks us to the curb and has no love for US go to hell you bastards now and forever America that land of freedom and hope is not and has not ever helped me this country helps legal and iilegal foreigners.

Posted by: Albert Garibay at December 10, 2005 7:48 PM
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