Vote Out the Entire Congress
Monday, 16 October 2006
Crabby Old Lady hasn’t been around much lately, but never fear - she hasn’t mellowed. She’s just been taking a break and saving up some complaints for a big, fat go at it all at once.
Politics has been on Crabby’s mind. National politics. Washington politics. It’s hard to avoid these days. Crabby has been in a serious snit about the current U.S. regime ever since, as one of his first acts after the 2000 inauguration, the president backed off the Kyoto Protocol. There is hardly a move Mr. Bush has made in the ensuing six years that has not been downhill for American citizens who are not wealthy – which is 99 percent of the population.
So it’s difficult for Crabby to understand why, when she read last Friday of Mr. Bush’s lavish praise, the previous evening, for House speaker Dennis Hastert, that it felt like a final straw. After all, it’s not like the president had sent another 2700 young people to die in Iraq (yet).
Perhaps it was one too many emperor’s-new-clothes moments; one time too many of stating that black is white. Here is what is known about Hastert’s involvement in the Foley affair:
- When it was revealed that Florida Rep. Mark Foley, for several years, had sent sexually provocative emails and instant messages to young Congressional pages, he resigned his House seat.
- Former Foley aide Kirk Fordham says that between 2001 and 2003, he discussed Foley’s sexually explicit emails with Mr. Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer.
- Mr. Palmer has denied Fordham’s claim.
- Mr. Hastert has publicly asserted that his aides did not learn of Foley’s behavior until the fall of 2005.
In a press conference last week, Mr. Hastert cagily deflected any finger pointing in his direction by stating that “the buck stops here.” He would deal, he said, with any of his aides found to be involved in a cover-up of Foley’s predator activities. And the press, as is its habit with cagey politicians, thereafter has given Rep. Hastert a pass in questioning his personal knowledge of Foley’s behavior.
Given the high visibility of sexual abuse and predator crimes in the U.S., Crabby Old Lady finds it less than credible that Hastert’s aides did not immediately tell him of the page’s accusations against Rep. Foley – sometime between 2001 and 2003. And even if his aides did not learn of the accusations until the fall of 2005, what the hell, Crabby wants to know, has been going on in the intervening year if not a cover-up?
These days, 16 and 17-year-olds are not sexual naifs and none were sexually harmed. So although Rep. Foley was grotesquely out of line, it is not so much his emails that spark Crabby’s ire (which, in any case, were reported by a boy who received Foley’s email, a boy who understood their inappropriate nature). It is the lying and the protection of their own, by top leaders of our country.
But that is just business as usual for this Congress and the two previous Republican-controlled Congresses under the Bush regime.
These are the men and women who cravenly gave us a prescription drug bill written by the pharmaceutical companies themselves that has enriched those corporations in obscene measure. The same Congress that rubber-stamped a pre-emptive war against a country that never harmed ours. Elected leaders who have allowed Halliburton et al (with no-bid contracts) in that war to “lose” billions of dollars into their own pockets. All without a peep from those officials ostensibly elected to represent Crabby and you.
While all that has been happening, the rich have been given tax cuts that would shame King Midas as the number of ordinary Americans unable to afford health coverage has increased to more than 15 percent of the population. Most of those are children who, it appears, Congress believes are more in danger from the sexy emails of one representative than from not having to access to healthcare.
And just within the past month, this Congress passed new legislation that makes it possible for the president of the United States, on no more than personal whim, to declare anyone – foreign nationals and U.S. citizens alike - an enemy non-combatant, have him or her tortured and “disappeared” without recourse.
In Crabby’s living memory – and she’s been a political junkie for all her 65 years - there has never been a more craven, corrupt and dishonorable, do-nothing Congress. The Foley scandal - as disgusting as he and his Congressional ass-covering cohorts are - is no more than a pimple on its foggy bottom compared to the rest of their transgressions.
But, there is a possible remedy, just three weeks away. The bi-annual Congressional elections are at hand and every one of the 435 representative seats and about a third of the Senate are up for grabs. As Crabby suggested last January, if voters work in concert, we can jettison the entire Congress – or enough to send a message.
Elders vote in far larger numbers than other age groups and if we can tear ourselves away from our computers on 7 November, Crabby Old Lady believes we can go a long way toward swinging the election in a better direction than it might otherwise go. Here’s what Crabby has in mind:
- Ignore all television commercials and print ads. They don’t say anything informative or useful about candidates and the issues anyway.
- Find out who the incumbent running in your district is and vote against him or her. It doesn’t matter if the other candidate is a Republican or a Democrat. They are all the same these days. (Remember the corruption voters rebelled against when they took the Congressional majority away from the Democrats in 1994.)
- If no incumbent is running in your district, do your best to choose the candidate who comes closest to speaking with honesty, will be accountable for his/her actions and has an idea or two that can move the country forward.
That last won’t be easy, as campaigns are deliberately designed to say as little as possible about what the candidates stand for – although Crabby has come to believe that all politicians stand for nothing but preservation of their own power and money-grubbing. But do the best you can.
What a powerful statement this could be: even if it can be accomplished in only a few states, the media will notice and they will report it – that voters are so fed up with the Washington regime they are willing to vote for anyone other than incumbents.
Crabby believes that if enough incumbents are defeated, the new members of Congress will have little choice but to do at least something that is not a rubber stamp of President Bush's inept and irresponsible regime and that should at least slow the decline we are experiencing on every important issue the country faces.
Plus, the newly elected will be on notice that if they do not do something serious about health coverage for everyone, the war in Iraq, taxes, the deficit, immigration policy, foreign policy, the middle-class economy and all the rest of the serious issues our country faces, they’ll be voted out next time, in 2008.
Damn, Ronni! You are good! (superb writing as usual)Dee
Posted by: Dee | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 04:45 AM
WEll done. EXCEPT for encouraging us to defeat the handful of really good legislators. How about we all ignore the ads and watch the debates and examine the voting records, esp in view of their sources of campaign funding? Or best of all, have Congress work for the public and not their wealthy contributors by instituting public funding of campaigns? Also, as has been done in many other more civilized countries, banning advertising altogether? Campaigns can be short and cheap and publicly funded. It's the very SYSTEM that's dysfunctional, IMHO. Susan
Posted by: Takoma Gardener | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 05:09 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with your advice to ignore television ads and news. But your sweeping generalization that all incumbents are the same is as wrong as the stereotype that old people can't use computers. There's a lot to be said for the experience of some legislators who are running for their second, third or fourth term.
Find the website of an organization dedicated to an issue that matters to you. Check out Vote Smart
Don't overlook your local races. Next year's presidential candidates may be governors today. 2008 congressional candidates may be county or state legislators today.
If all else fails, ask a woman to run for office.
Posted by: Mary Ann | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 05:44 AM
There's certainly nothing to add to this prolific post....you said it all, Ronni and in a very superb way. Now....if only people would listen!
Posted by: Terri | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 06:13 AM
crabby's sounding a bit revoluntionary with this "throw the rascals out" message. i agree with mary ann and takoma gardener that we have to vote for some incumbents. in new york it's hilary clinton: not strong enough about ending war in iraq, pretty good on social issues AND no viable opposition.
Posted by: Naomi Dagen Bloom | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 06:13 AM
Crabby...this post is GREAT. YES, let's let our ballots do the talking.
As I have been saying for a while the biggest problem I see among the aging
population is 'resignation', the condition in which nothing makes much difference and real fundamental changes aren't possible. Hopefully your challenge will provoke action and stick a finger in the eye of resignation and cultural intertia.
What is that old adage -- That the only thing required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
See you on November 7th.
Posted by: sereneambition | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 06:18 AM
Bravo. Exactly on the mark and perfectly put. I'm stomping my feet and raising my fists in agreement. Bush's momentum must be brought to a screeching halt. We have the power.
Posted by: Virginia DeBolt | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 06:46 AM
I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been waffling on whether or not to vote for Sen. Feinstein and Grace Napolitano, but to hell with them. They've voted against me often enough.
Posted by: AlwaysQuestion | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 07:10 AM
I don't like the current Congress either; but if your voters take your advice and vote out all incumbents, which takes votes mostly from democrats given my assumption (which could be wrong) that the people who read your blog already don't like the current gov't in power, the end result will be the far right will vote for their people anyway. We will end up with a Congress still in the power of Republicans with no power to do real investigations of anything to do with Iraq or any of the other massive corruptions we have seen in these 6 years. I want to see Republicans lose.
Yes Democrats haven't been right either but if Republicans win this time, Bush has two more years to carry out whatever he wants and we already know what kinds of things he wants.
The only real answer is a third party, as I see it, but that won't happen in November. So for now, the answer is give the power back to the Democrats and begin grassroots work for a third, meaningful party.
Posted by: Rain | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 07:44 AM
I wholeheartedly concurs.
I cannot honestly say that there is any incumbent in my district that deserves another term. I have written many letters to my representatives, expressing my feelings and stance on many different matters/bills that have come before Congress in this past year. Most of my letters did get a response - but it was just a form letter sent out by the representatives flunkies. Form letters that inanely spouted the standard party swill, er...line on drilling in Alaska, national park management, the Patriot(puh-leez) Act, and women's rights.
And I am very sure that not one of my representatives even took the time to read my letters. Hell, they probably never even saw them.
Not to say that kicking all incumbents out will ensure my future correspondence will merit any better treatment, but I have to hope.
Without hope or expectations, I might as well stay home on elections.
Posted by: Cowtown Pattie | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 07:52 AM
Posted by: Cowtown Pattie | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 07:53 AM
FOLLOW UP: The nexus of what Congress is about is pretty well summed up today in the Washington Post wherein lobbyist David Thompson is quoted about his former boss, Speaker Dennis Hastert:
"He wakes up every morning thinking about how he can help the Republican team."
How silly of Crabby Old Lady to think his job is to represent the people of his Congressional District.
But she's sharp enough to know that what Mr. Thompson says is true of every other Republican as well as every Democrat.
Posted by: Crabby Old Lady | Monday, 16 October 2006 at 10:52 AM
Hear! Hear! Sing it, sister! I am with you 110%!!!
From the latest Cranky Thoughts on my Blog:
"As the November election approaches, I'm becoming more & more inclined to think that we need to throw all of the bums out & start from scratch. I've never seen such filthy politicking! I'd like to hear each of these clowns define the word 'honor' without a dictionary for assistance (or an aide to look it up for them). Oh yeah, and get rid of the lobbyists -- let the Congress critters live on their nice salaries without perks & bonuses from big business."
Posted by: Kay Dennison | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 02:26 AM
Ronni, you are singing my tune. That said, I agree with Rain that we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Some incunmbents are good and we need their experience. Of course from my perspective, those incumbents are all Democrats. The Republicans have rubber stamped Bush's disastrous policies from the get-go. They had their chance to govern and blew it big time. The only hope for this country now is to stop their onslaught. It is destroying our nation. The only way to do that is remove their unabated power. A third party would be nice, but we don't have that option so vote Democrat!
Posted by: Darlene | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 08:23 AM
Yeah, but look at what choices the Democrats AND Republicans have. Why is it so difficult to get a third party going? Apparently, according to what we are hearing over and over again, most of the American population is gung-ho for a third party. But, any honest try seems to fizzle out. And, what's wrong with Massachussetts? They continue to keep Senators Gasbag Kennedy and the Toothless Wonder in office.
Posted by: Maxie | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 10:54 AM
I agree with most of what you say with the exception of my Congresswoman. Tammy Baldwin is one of the best people in the House. She is our best hope for a good health care system in this country. We need to get the theocratic hypocrites out of office and keep the good one in Congress.
Posted by: knomad | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 06:08 PM
Do not be STUPID in the name of principle.
If you want change in any house or position, you have to vote Democratic; even if the person is doing a poor job of representing your interests today. The Republication machine is in control and will stay that way. Think beyond the emotion and the sound bite !!!
Posted by: pine | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 07:29 PM
We certainly need to send a message to this congress -- big time -- something dramatic may be what is required. What you propose here just might be what it takes to get our government's attention that their ineffective actions and lack of action on critical issues are overwhelmingly rejected by the people of this country. The line from the movie "Network" comes to mind: "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!"
Posted by: joared | Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 10:48 PM
Well, George Soros is running for President or King of the World, so he can probably take care of all those bums. Lurch Kerrey can be vice king.
Posted by: Susanne | Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 10:22 AM
The simple truth is, no matter how much the polls demonstrate an anti-incumbent sentiment, the vast majority of those who actually vote will only see two credible choices on the ballot, a Democrat and a Republican, and roughly have will choose an incumbent.
So, there is no real credible threat of ending up with 33 new Senators and 453 or so new Representatives in one election. The average reelection rate has been around 90% on average.
America will do herself a world of good if she can get that percentage down to around 50 to 60%, which will have the effect of scaring a huge number incumbents and freshman alike into considering the nation's needs first, instead of wealthy campaign donors, special interests, and their party. Their challenge to the status quo and corrupt politics as usual will become their badge of honor and certification for reelection by the people, and a tremendous number of districts around the country.
Vote Out Incumbents Democracy, http://voidnow.org is working to achieve just this result, as a registered, all volunteer, not for profit, non-partisan PAC. Consider supporting their effort to help get grow the anti-incumbent voter movement in 2008, 2010, 2012 and beyond if necessary, to create an efficient, responsible, and transparent U.S. Congress.
Posted by: David R. Remer | Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 09:28 AM