Everybody wants to explain the election. What I want to do is complain about toilets. A while ago, the federal government decided we needed to save resources, so they mandated that toilets use less water when flushing. This saved very little water, because most of the toilets rushed to market to meet this mandate wouldn't actually flush with the small amount of water dictated by Washington.
This means that when you want what's in the toilet to end up not in the toilet, you have to flush several times. It also means having plungers in each bathroom, for when what was in the toilet doesn't quite make it out of the toilet. This clogs the pipes, preventing the next flush from removing anything. Usually this is accompanied by screams of "the toilet is going to overflow," and people rushing around trying to find extra provisions before the ensuing flood.
Well, voters didn't like what was in Washington, so we flushed the toilet. But just like the government-mandated atrocities installed in our homes, what was in the toilet (corruption, overspending, earmarks, and petty partisanship) did not actually end up out of the toilet. Instead, it's still floating around, waiting for the next flush to overflow the bowl.
We give the government too much power, so there is too much incentive for unions, lobbyists, businesses, and special-interest organizations to pay for influence over our elected officials. And while this election flushed some corrupt politicians, there are plenty left who will now be given positions of power.
Am I judging too harshly? It's still early, but signs are not good. Nancy Pelosi, who will be the next Speaker of the House, is already hard at work populating the leadership with corrupt members of her own party.
Pelosi endorsed John Murtha for House Majority Leader, snubbing Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Hoyer ran against Pelosi for Minority Leader, and she's never forgiven him for his "disloyalty." Murtha supported her, and its payback time.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has Murtha on their list of the most corrupt members in Congress. While many Republicans on the list resigned or were defeated in this election, no Democrats on the list lost their jobs.
Chastising Pelosi for her endorsement of Murtha, CREW director Melanie Sloan says "Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption." Meanwhile, the Washington Post says Murtha has "worked to slow the ethics process to a crawl for much of the past two years," and called him the "Democratic Party's consummate dealer in home-district spending." So the King of Pork could now be Majority Leader.
Pelosi is also seeking revenge against Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the critically important, bipartisan Intelligence Committee. Traditionally, this committee is staffed with less-partisan politicians, and run without regard to party politics, for the security of the country. But Pelosi is upset that Harman has not used the committee for partisan attacks. So, under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus, Pelosi might appoint Alcee Hastings in the sensitive position.
Hastings is one of only six [ed note: actually 7] judges in history to be impeached, for bribery. He was removed from office by the Democrat-led Senate in 1989. As a congressman, he hired his girlfriend, whom he owed a half-million dollars for legal fees defending the bribery charges, at a taxpayer-funded salary of $129,000 a year. He is under investigation by the Florida and Federal Elections commissions, and the House Ethics Committee.
Hastings is already in the upper ranks of Democratic leadership, but appointing him Chair of the House Intelligence Committee would be a slap in the face of an electorate who voted in part against the corruption of Washington. Pressure from the media might convince Pelosi to abandon Hastings, but she will still deny Harman the seat.
Using leadership positions to reward political cronies and punish adversaries, and giving the “King of Pork” the leadership position, is probably not what voters had in mind. Seems we might need a few more “flushes” before the job is done.
Of course, as I noted in a previous post, Steny Hoyer is no boy scout when it comes to pork and connections with lobbyists.