Sunday, December 11, 2005

Both Their Houses 

Via Zemblan patriot D.R.B.: We recently came across two items at Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. Both make us want to puke on our shoes. The question we are unable to resolve is, which one makes us want to puke on our shoes worse?

1.) These are the people who rule us:
A week ago it was reported that Justice Department lawyers had concluded at the time that the DeLay redistricting plan of 2003 violated the Voting Rights Act, but that senior DOJ officials overruled that finding and okayed DeLay's plan anyway.

Justice Department officials have now
instituted a policy to assure this never happens again. They have, as reported in today's Post, "barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics."
2.) These are the people we are counting on to unseat the people who rule us:
Since 1998, there has been an ethics "truce" in the House of Representatives, under the terms of which no member will file an ethics complaint against another member. Because outsiders are prohibited from filing complaints with the House ethics committee, this has effectively shut down the ethics process.

In 2004,
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) prepared an ethics complaint against former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). In spite of DeLay's long history of ethics abuses, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was adamantly opposed to the filing of such a complaint. Nonetheless, Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX), who had lost his seat when DeLay gerrymandered the Texas congressional map, filed the complaint anyway. As a result of that complaint, DeLay was admonished by a unanimous ethics committee and people around the country began to take notice of the ethics crisis in Congress . . . .

CREW had an
ethics complaint ready to file against former Rep. and now convicted felon Duke Cunningham (R-CA) since July and we've had one ready to go against Bob Ney (R-OH) - the likeliest candidate to be the next indicted Member of Congress -- since February, but no House member was or has been willing to file either complaint.

Congress has a constitutional obligation to police itself, but members are full of excuses as to why they can't or won't file ethics complaints. The truth is that the Democratic leadership doesn't allow anyone to file a complaint for fear of retaliation, not exactly a profile in courage.
Okay, then -- if we have to pick, we'll pick #2. And please remind us, in future, not to wear our nice suede boots when researching ethics in government.

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