Saturday, November 11, 2006

What can the House of Representatives do, all by itself? - Step#3

Reprising the topic, yet again...

The new Democratic Congressional majority may face obstinate presidential vetoes. So, before considering bills and legislation, let’s talk about things that the U.S. House of Representatives could do, all alone, to set a new tone in America.

In previous postings we discussed some clever jiu jitsu moves that could BOTH do a lot to establish trust with the voters AND set valuable precedents for the future... while deeply damaging this generation of GOP leaders by starkly contrasting and illustrating their deep turpitude.

Continuing along such lines, here are suggestions # 5 & 6.


5 -- Adjust House Rules To Limit "Pork" - the earmarking of tax dollars that benefit special interests or specific districts.

Yes, this is already on the declared agenda. (Reducing the sheer number of earmarks from 15,000 down to 1,000, the number allocated last time the Dems ran Congress, would help a lot. But we can do even better.)

And yes, I have my own ideas how it could be done. No, you’ll never eliminate the practice entirely. But how about let’s --


-- require that all future earmarks, of any kind, must come from a single pool, no larger than one tenth of a percent of the discretionary budget. Get our representatives adversarial with each other over this, instead of slyly cooperative.

-- Moreover, future earmarks must be placed in clearly labeled and severable portions of a bill, at least two weeks before the bill is voted upon.

-- Earmarks may not be inserted into conference reports.

-- Further, establish a lawful system of “challenges” under which any company or person out there may publicly demand a show-cause as to why they cannot compete to deliver a service similar to the one that had been earmarked... or else challenge the reasons for bypassing normal contract rules. With burden of proof on the recipient of the earmark.



This brings up yet another crime of the Neocon Era. The near-utter demolition of standards for soliciting bids and awarding government contracts. Especially with “war” as an excuse. This should have been a major scandal of the campaign! Far more stringent limits must be placed on no-bid, crony, or noncompetitive contracts. Conflict of interest rules must be strengthened, closing the “urgent” way that a small community of kleptocrats managed to turn the federal contracting process into their own, personal potlatch, rewarding loyalty with multi billion dollar gift fests.

(And this came from hypocrites who dared to call themselves believers in a free market! Adam Smith would curse their eyes.)

-- Carrying this further, why not create an office that is tasked to translate and describe all legislation in easily understandable language, for public posting at least three days before any bill is voted upon, clearly tracking changes or insertions, so that the public (and even members of Congress) may know what is at stake? This office - independent of member pressure - may recommend division of any bill that inserts or combines unrelated or "stealth" provisions.


6 -- Punish K Street. All right, there has to be a limit to highmindedness. Is it forgivable to also want a little outright partisan vengeance? Especially where it is MOST deserved? ANd where it would do the least collateral harm?

I have tried to keep things elevated, so far. But is it all right if one -- just one -- of these suggestions carries a taste for blood?

I choose one that the House Democrats can accomplish all alone, if necessary.
A retribution that the People will not only understand, but cheer!

Under the previous Congressional leadership, a scandalous attitude of outright whoredom led to inviting lobbyists right into Congress and letting them write whole swathes of actual legislation. Moreover, extremist GOP bosses let it be known that they would do no business with firms that had even a few Democrats or independents working on staff! In effect, they required that K Street purge all moderates, as a price of even being allowed into Congressional offices.

This behavior was so outrageous and blatantly corrupt that there simply is no “mature and judicious” response. There must be comeuppance and it must be very intense... a warning never to do this kind of thing, ever again.

Participants in this crooked process must at minimum be banished. (If not prosecuted.) Their lobbying firms must be rendered useless and valueless. Permanently and without a scintilla of mercy.

Sure, many of the same players will be back, the following week, using proxies. There must be followup reforms, like limiting the “revolving door” of rich consultancies for retired officials. Still, I leave it up to Beltway experts exactly HOW to accomplish this... and how to ensure that representatives are not lured back into temptation, yet again, when “normality” creeps back.

All I can say is that I will look with favor on genuine ruthlessness in this one area. I expect most Americans will.

------
Note that so far we have concentrated on things that the House of Representatives can accomplish even if they face obstinate presidential vetoes.

Next time: some actual bills and laws that may be worth considering, if we can get even more ambitious.

35 comments:

P.T. Galt said...

How 'bout this: A law that says every Congressperson must sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that they (not their staff) have personally read and believe they understand proposed legislation before they are allowed to vote in favor of it in any committee hearing or floor vote. A statement must be signed for each bill, and for each rider added to each bill. Combine this with the other suggestion to post proposed bills on the 'net a few days in advance.

This would cut down on the byzantine thousand page monstrosities that churn their way throug Congress unread by the people who vote to pass them. Congresspersons would have to make legislation count, since it would actually take time and effort for them to produce and vote on it.

Don Quijote said...

Washington Post - Rove Remains Steadfast in the Face of Criticism


The Architect, as President Bush once called him, has a theory for why the building fell down. "Get me the one-pager!" he cried out to an aide, who promptly delivered a single sheet of paper that had been updated almost hourly since the midterm elections with a series of statistics explaining that the "thumping" Bush took was not such a thumping after all.

The theory is this: The building's infrastructure was actually quite sound. It was bad luck and seasonal shifts in the winds that blew out the walls -- complacent candidates, an ill-timed Mark Foley page scandal and the predictable cycles of history. But the foundation is fine: "The Republican philosophy is alive and well and likely to reemerge in the majority in 2008."


Investigate, Subpoena, Impeach!!!

Destroy the political & ideological infrastructure, destroy the financial supporters, destroy the Brand!!!

Do it now while you can!

Tony Fisk said...

Has anyone thought to go over to the Democrats and say: "there's a number of really interesting ideas here, what do you think of them?" (I suppose I could, but would it count as foreign interference?;-). It might be a naive notion, but I thought knocking on the front door is usually the best way of getting a response.

The idea of congressfolk acknowledging they've read and understood all legislation appeals. After all, they're supposed to be the source of the legislation!

... except that devious underfolk like Sir Humphrey would have a field day running their masters ragged with all the minutae, and slipping a few swift ones through at a suitably fatigued moment.

It might be better to require congressfolk to paraphrase the formal drafting as an indication of what they understand the legislation to mean (with a countersign from the drafters to affirm that the Minister has got the point, the whole point, and nothing but the point).

The only thing that can be said about a Civil War redux is that at least this time 'round Robert E. Lee would be leading the Union!

DQ: Rove is in a state of denial. 'Seasonal shifts' are also known as climate change. Still, not a guy around whom it is wise to let your guard down.

To make impeachment the aim is to make you no better than Starr and his merry band of witchfinders. If these be monsters, then they can't help their nature. So, why not just pay out the rope and let investigations lead where they will?

Naum said...

Nancy Pelosi's tough new rules - "No House member may accept any gift of any value from lobbyists, or any firm or association that hires lobbyists."

And this too - Democrats seek to restore Habeas Corpus rights

Is the U.S. coming back to its senses?

Still, could be just banter, and I don't think there's enough of a voting block to override presidential veto, with all the Bush loyalists still in office.

Nate said...

Yes, but this means the Republicans will either go along, or they'll have to go on record as opposing rules banning bribes. They're almost all already on record as supporting torture, so that's not much different.

Nate said...

Stirling Newberry has a decent post over at tpmcafe. A bunch of what he says sounds like ideas that've been kicked around here. For example:
"The Republicans are not in a majority in the Senate today because of defections on their own right flank. This right flank is as anti-Patriot act as the ACLU is, this right flank will be more than willing to see big spending Republicans go down. This flank, in short, offers a number of openings for Reid and Pelosi to wedge off the right end of the Republican coalition, their neglected base - in pursuit of rather large changes in policy direction. These strange marriages, of which Ted Kennedy is one old master, and Obama a rapidly rising one - are not going to be "moderate", but they are going to find broad based support."

or

"The search isn't going to be for "the middle" against two entrenched extremes, but a search for a broad base against a reactionary core of about 30% which will not give way on anything at any time until forced. The fiction that the hard left and the hard right are of proportionate size, or danger, is just that, a fiction. The hard left comprises perhaps 20% of the Democratic vote, even in the most concentrated blue zone areas, the hard right comprises between 50% to 60% of the Republican vote, even in states like Maryland, where hard right Steele was the Senate nominee, and in winnable New Jersey where Kean Jr.'s Bushstampism snatched defeat from the jaws of victory."

Which is all fine by me. I'd be happy to see the Democrats deal with anybody who's willing to deal in good faith as long they don't end up compromising on their principles. Which might make for strange alliances on some issues, but so what?

OdinsEye2k said...

To make impeachment the aim is to make you no better than Starr and his merry band of witchfinders.

Whoa! Holy misplaced priorities, Batman! Remeber the stats. Hundreds of millions to go after Clinton for sexual infidelity, versus holding someone accountable for lying to cause the deaths of 3000 American citizens and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? Equal? Maybe in the same way that a story is "balanced" when an intelligent designer and an evolutionist jabber at each other with no fact checking.

When even the President does something illegal, he must be brought to justice. Overly idealistic, I'll admit, but we should at least try.

For Galt - I would say that bill readership (at least in the House) will improve once we actually return to the rules. A lot of those bad symptoms were do to a severe Republican lack of respect for any type of bipartisanship. "The worst Congress ever" is an excellent primer of late-night votes, last-minute substitutions and a complete shut-out of Democrats from committee discussions.

Again, I'd really like to slap these guys around as punishment to ensure that they won't do this type of thing any more. But, it will likely be more effective to be open and show the American people that the Democrats are the adults in the situation.

After all, success is the best revenge. Being in the minority is already causing so much psychic pain in the right wing that I'd like to extend it for as long as possible. And we get to be true to ideals at the same time. Bonus.

Woozle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Woozle said...

Ok, everyone – I hope I'm not overstepping any boundaries here, but I have taken the proposals of Our Esteemed Host and written them up in IssueGroups, where further hashing-out of details and wording is invited. (The full text is here, or you can click on the links in the other version to read it in smaller chunks.)

If it seems like a good idea afterwards, we could submit the final version to Congress, with signatures and so on – going on the no-doubt outdated, "reality-based" theory that US citizens get to have input into their government ^_^

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

I will comment on some of what you folks have said. But first a smattering of guest comments from Russ Daggatt:

The win by Democrats in the popular vote was even greater than the outcome in terms of seats won. For example, in the Senate races (where there is no gerrymandering other than our Constitutional system itself),

Democrats predominated cumulatively by an overwhelming 12.6% margin - 55% to 42.4%. In a presidential year, a popular vote margin like that would be in “landslide” territory.

Turnout overall in this election was the highest of any midterm since 1982. And in a sign of better things to come, the youth turnout in this election was the :

About 24 percent of Americans under the age of 30, or at least 10 million young voters, cast ballots in Tuesday's elections that saw Democrats make big gains in Congress. That was up 4 percentage points from the last mid-term elections in 2002.
Democrats won 60 percent of voters aged 18-29 in 2006 while Republicans got 38 percent. In 2004 the spread was 55 to 45. This is the “Jon Stewart Generation"Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris of East Carolina University said previous research found that nearly half -- 48 percent -- of this age group watched "The Daily Show" and only 23 percent of show viewers followed "hard news" programs closely."

Voters tend to lock in to their party affiliation in early adulthood. So dissatisfaction with Bush and his fellow Republicans may have created a .

And there is plenty of reason to think the Democratic party will build more in 2008, particularly in the Senate. This was not expected to be a good year for Democrats in the Senate. Democrats had 18 seats to defend this year, including seats in red and purple places like Florida, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Republicans had only 15 seats to defend. In 2008, Republicans will be defending 21 seats, to 12.

This was the first election in over half a century where the party that controlled the South did not end up controlling the House. When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 he famously said, “We have lost the South for a generation.” At that time, the South was solidly Democratic. The Republicans pounced with their “Southern Strategy,” appealing to Southern segregationists.

As a result, 40 years later, the South today is solidly Republican. But, as I’ve pointed out before, there was always a tension between the Southern fundamentalists and Western libertarians in the Republican coalition. This election has revealed that latent fracture line like none other. The Mountain West, in particular, seems to be slowing breaking away from the Republican coalition. (Democrats now have the governorships in Montana , Wyoming , Colorado , New Mexico and Arizona and came close this time in Nevada and Idaho (!).) The Republican party is increasingly a Southern party.


Thanks for those insights, Russ. And now a few replies.

PT I like the signing statement idea. Hard to see it happening.

Tony, you are close too, with “paraphrasing.” But what I really want is a neutral AGENCY whose job it is to post of the web their interpretations of new laws, in clear language.

DQ... we can destroy this era’s neofeudalists in one way only... the way we destroyed segregation... by creating a new American consensus that considers them to be troglodytes. So that men like George Wallace fell all over themselves to claim they had been for ML King, all along. ONLY that approach makes the old ways go away. WAGING CULTURE WAR INTERESTS ME LESS THAN ENDING IT.

Naum, lobbyists find ways to hire your cousin and that’s not a “gift”. It’s a long road.

Yes, Stirling Newberry seems a wiseguy. ;-) “I especially liked: “The fiction that the hard left and the hard right are of proportionate size, or danger, is just that, a fiction. The hard left comprises perhaps 20% of the Democratic vote, even in the most concentrated blue zone areas, the hard right comprises between 50% to 60% of the Republican vote...” That is very cogent. It shows both the strength and weakness of the GOP. Fanaticism of their base let them take greater advantage of gerrymandering, for example.

On the other hand, they can be raided. If the Dems PROVE me right... that they are the one great modernist force left in American life, they can peel off 10 to 20% of GOP voters simply by being relentlessly and consistently reasonable!

OdinsEye has a point. I am NOT saying “do not investigate and prosecute!” What I am saying is “do many things to prove that you are doing it reluctantly and in a mature way, and not as your monomaniacal vengeance-hunt!” This can be done by emphasizing truth-seeking, with generous offers of immunity.

It will be hard for Rove to scream “witch hunt!” when case after case shows (1) genuine punishable perfidy in which (2) punishment is clearly less the issue than truth.

Woozle, thanks for posting summaries for followup! I hope ideas can percolate.

Let’s continue.

Don Quijote said...

DQ... we can destroy this era’s neofeudalists in one way only... the way we destroyed segregation...

We destroyed segregation? when?

As far as the culture war goes, there has never been one. The whole culture war is a side show meant to distract the suckers so that they can be fleeced, IT WILL NEVER END!!!

wkwillis said...

Segregation is now voluntary, not compulsory. This is a change.

Don Quijote said...

Segregation is now voluntary, not compulsory. This is a change.

No, it is not voluntary, it's economic, not the law and that is a change, but for all practical purposes a minor one.

David Brin said...

We disagree DQ. In fact, you again perfectly illustrate the problem of the left. Their inability to do the one thing that would have gained them actual credibility (if that were their aim) and that is to brag about the incredible accomplishments of liberalism.

This is why I say that liberalism and the left are NOT the same! Lefties are only interested in Puritan finger wagging and guilt tripping and never about SELLING MORE REFORM! Liberals want more reform, but whenever they raise their heads to say "look how much we've already accomplished!" the sourpusses of the left shout them down.

Fie.

On other matters:
http://www.devilducky.com/media/53546/

Another person sent me a copy of the famous picture of a grinning Rummy shaking hands with Saddam. In this one speech balloons say:

"Oog, Saddie it's been a bitch of a week."

"Don't get me started, old friend."

David Brin said...

Another gem from RussD: And, finally, this is from right-wing blogger John Cole (before the election -- it got a lot of attention in their little world):
 
This Is No Fun
By: John Cole   October 31, 2006 at 4:02 pm

I just thought I would go on record stating that the last few weeks and months have really sucked for me. I spent my whole life in the GOP- starting in 1984 with county meetings, going to Teenage Republican camp (my friends called it Hitler Youth Camp, proving that Nazi/Republican quips are no new development), and spending the better part the fall of 1984 going door to door for John Raese in his race against Rockefeller (Raese, as you know, lost).

Now, 22 years later, I find myself not only refusing to support Raese against Robert Byrd (the man who for years has embarassed me with his pork), but I have come to the conclusion that the Republicans are so corrupt, so dishonest, so beholden to special interests and fanatical lobbying groups that Byrd not only looks to be the better option, but the entire Democratic party looks better.

I don’t know when things went south with this party (literally and figuratively- and I am sure commenters here will tell me the party has always been this bad- I disagree with that, and so do others), but for me, Terri Schiavo was the real eye-opener. Sure, the Prescription Drug Plan was hideous and still gets my blood pressure pumping, and the awful bankruptcy bill was equally bad, and there were other things that should have clued me in, but really, it was Schiavo that made me realize this party was not as advertised. And it is frustrating as hell.

What makes this even more frustrating is that not only do I feel like I have been duped, but I established a lot of friends in the right wing of the blogging community- and now I read their pages and I can’t believe what I am reading, even though I know that five years ago I probably would have been saying the same or similar things. I know many of them as people- and not just GOP parrots- having spent time working on collaborative projects with them, serving on the editorial board at Red State, appearing on radio shows with them- you name it. I have, at one point in time, defended many of them from what I perceived to be unfair attacks.

So I know that by and large they are not bad people (Dan Riehl is an unmitigated asshole, however). Yet I read their pages now, and through my eyes, it looks like they are so divorced from reality it makes me question what, if anything, I ever believed in.

In short, it really sucks looking around at the wreckage that is my party and realizing that the only decent thing to do is to pull the plug on them (or help).

I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends- but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse.

I don’t know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a “terrorist-enabler” than to swing back.

I don’t know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the administration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, prescription drugs, etc., are signs of… liberal media bias.

And it makes me mad. I still think of myself as a Republican- but I think the whole party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills, and it frustrates me to no end to see my former friends enabling them, and I wonder ‘Why can’t they see what I see?” I don’t think I am crazy, I don’t think my beliefs have changed radically, and I don’t think I have been (as suggested by others) brainwashed by my commentariat.

I hate getting up in the morning, surfing the news, and finding more and more evidence that my party is nothing but a bunch of frauds. I feel like I am betraying my friends in the party and the blogosphere when I attack them, even though I believe it is they who have betrayed what ‘we’ allegedly believe in.

Bush has been a terrible President. The past Congresses have been horrible- spending excessively, engaging in widespread corruption, butting in to things they should have no say in (like end of life decisions), refusing to hold this administration accountable for ANYTHING, and using wedge issues to keep themselves in power at the expense of gays, etc. And I don’t know why my friends on the right still keep fighting for these guys to stay in power.

Why do they keep attacking decent people like Jim Webb- to keep this corrupt lot of fools in office?

Why can’t they just admit they were sold a bill of goods and start over? Why do they want to remain in power, but without any principles?
Are tax cuts that important? What is gained by keeping troops in harms way with no clear plan for victory? With no desire to change course? With our guys dying every day in what looks to be for no real good reason? Why?

I really don’t know where this post is going, so I will just end it now, but I do have to say the past few months have really sucked, and I am completely disillusioned.

Russ adds: Don't reject wisdom just because it comes late.

I'll add, these are the people who can turn this into a rout and end culture war. We need them to be with us in the revolution for the Enlightenment... and then go back to arguing with them about HOW (not whether) to make a better world.

Finn de Siecle said...

I usually just read here, because (a) it's more fun, and (b) by the time I get to the end of the comments, someone has already said what I was thinking. The latter hasn't happened yet on this thread, though, so I'm popping back out of lurk mode for a moment to toss out two thoughts:

--Maybe I just missed it, but with all this talk about changing the legislative process, I still haven't yet seen anyone bring up the simple old chestnut from Robert's Rules of Order: dividing the question. Under this rule, any single member of a house can require that separate votes be taken on each proposition within a piece of legislation. All you'd need is one person in each house who's tired of some objectionable law or piece of pork being tacked on to a main bill that you'd have to be Satan to oppose. The hard part would be getting Congress to adopt this rule; but if it's ever brought up, it would be very tough to oppose. What non-lawmaker hasn't ever been disgusted by those sneaky little riders and amendments? To fight the right to divide the question would be tantamount to admitting you prefer pulling fast ones on the American people.

--It's my impression from the snippet of Stirling Newberry's post quoted above that, at best, he's using a somewhat unusual definition of "hard left" and "hard right." I'd have been more likely to buy into it if he hadn't used an example that runs completely contrary to my knowledge of my home state:

"(T)he hard right comprises between 50% to 60% of the Republican vote, even in states like ... winnable New Jersey."

There is no way in hell that the "hard right" makes up anywhere near 60% of N.J.'s GOP voters. There are, of course, areas within the state where this is true, but on the statewide level, hard-right candidates almost always get their asses handed to them in the primaries, without ever making it to the actual race. New Jerseyans have given their government over to Republicans more than once in the past generation, but the resulting administration or Legislature has always been a centrist one.

So I didn't click on the Newberry link, since part of his information already struck me as suspect.

Don Quijote said...

We disagree DQ. In fact, you again perfectly illustrate the problem of the left. Their inability to do the one thing that would have gained them actual credibility (if that were their aim) and that is to brag about the incredible accomplishments of liberalism.


* Black households had the lowest median income in 2004 ($30,134) among race groups. Asian households had the highest median income ($57,518). The median income for non-Hispanic white households was $48,977. Median income for Hispanic households was $34,241.

* In 2004, the poverty rate declined for Asians (9.8 percent in 2004, down from 11.8 percent in 2003), remained unchanged for Hispanics (21.9 percent) and blacks (24.7 percent) and rose for non-Hispanic whites (8.6 percent in 2004, up from 8.2 percent in 2003).

* The uninsured rate in 2004 was 11.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 19.7 percent for blacks, both unchanged from 2003. The uninsured rate for Asians declined from 18.8 percent to 16.8 percent.


The incredible accomplishments of liberalism can be seen in the above observations from the US Census Bureau.

HawkerHurricane said...

Don...

What were those numbers 25 years ago? 50 years? 100 years?
That things aren't perfect yet is a given, Dr. Brin's point was that they are BETTER than they were... and you won't (can't?) admit it. The fact that such numbers produce outrage *at all* is one of the triumphs of liberalism.

grendelkhan said...

Off topic, but absolutely delicious. In short:

High school teacher tells class that the Muslim in class is going to hell, that dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark, evolution and the Big Bang are nonscientific, and so forth. Student arranges a meeting to lodge a complaint with the principal. Teacher denies making any of these statements, claims he was taken out of context, and so forth, whereupon the student pulls out two CDs he'd recorded of the lectures.

Accountability can be delicious, eh?

Anonymous said...

Reading that bit from John Cole reminded me of something I realized recently: the older I get the more "liberal" I've become.

Usually you think of older people as more conservative. But in my case I've noticed a change in my moral viewpoints as I've realized the idealized ossified beliefs I was running under, views and beliefs that in fact were isolating me from others.

This "moral code" didn't work. Yet I clung to it out of stubbornness and fear of what would happen if I abandoned it. Now that I have moved on... I've realized that not only had I wasted years of my life laboring under an unworkable premise, but in looking back I realize it was almost a form of insanity to cling to outdated beliefs that did no good to myself or others.

Perhaps this is happening across the country. People are waking up, looking at what their beliefs have spawned, and realized they need to grow, to move beyond a philosophy that failed and only benefited a few up high rather than themselves.

What we need to do is keep people awake. People need to realize that they must remain vigilant to defend their freedoms and democracy. Without this vigilance, we may see the pendulum swing in reverse and the very type that climbed to power as Repuglicans will emerge as Demoncrats and try to seize control again from the other side, like chameleons changing their color.

Perhaps the age of blogs and the freedoms found on the Internet will be enough to keep our youth awake and aware. Perhaps not. If we reformists are to keep this country from foundering, however, we need to find this key to keeping people active in the politics of our country. Only then can our liberties be safeguarded, by the vigilance of its citizens.

Rob H., Tangents Reviews

OdinsEye2k said...

What we need to do is keep people awake. People need to realize that they must remain vigilant to defend their freedoms and democracy. Without this vigilance, we may see the pendulum swing in reverse and the very type that climbed to power as Repuglicans will emerge as Demoncrats and try to seize control again from the other side, like chameleons changing their color.

Exactly. And this puts an interesting point on party "purity." The internal party battles between true moderates, liberals and the corporatized "moderates" of the DLC are partly about ensuring that we are not infiltrated to become Republican Light and offer no real alternative.

When you see a group of any politicians, or (worse) consultants, talking about raising money rather than engaging voters (ahem, Mr. Carville) you are going to have problems. Killing K Street is definitely necessary, and the beauty of Dr. Dean as DNC chair is that so far, he has been highly suspicious of it.

It's too bad that Prop 89 went down in California - if enough states manage to work this clean election thing out, it would be a huge boost to our democracy.

And, as a further aside, check out the LA-02 runoff. The grass and netroots are working to try and eliminate corruption in our own party by booting Jefferson.

Carl said...

How about a house rule that simply limits the overall size of any particular bill? If the bill is recorded in electronic form somewhere, this is trivial to check.

I don't think the Democrats would go for it, because it would rule out absurdedly complex "comprehensive plans." But there is always hope...

Don Quijote said...

What were those numbers 25 years ago?
Measuring progress: a look at the economic strides of African Americans in recent decades - Facts & Figures


Poverty African Americans Total Population

1970 33.5% 12.6%

1980 32.5% 13%

1990 31.9% 13.5%

2000 22.5% 11.3%


From 33.5% to 22.5% in 30 years...

It's progress, but no where near what it should be.

Andrew Smith said...

Oops! looks like this figure was left out:

1965 -- 55.1%

H. Hurricane said...

1990 31.9% 13.5%

2000 22.5% 11.3%

You see a 10 percent drop in 30 years, I see a 9 percent drop in 10 years...

I'll conceed that it's not enough. But it is better... and that it got better is a liberal triumph, not a failure. If we wait until we're perfect before we point out improvement, we'll wait forever.

HH said...

Andrew
Must have been writing while you were posting...

So, in 50 years it was cut in less than half...

And this is failure?

Funny how the two biggest drops are during decades dominated by Democratic Presidents...

Todd said...

"It's progress, but no where near what it should be."

The choices I see:

1) Whine about it.

2) Do something constructive about it.

3) Don't bother either whining or doing anything about it.

So far, I have only seen #1 from DQ. I admit that I haven't read every word of every post and comment, though.

Also #1 is perhaps better than #3. At least DQ could claim a role of whining annoyingly enough so that other people might do #2.

But only #2 is going to get the job done.

There is a cliche which goes something like "the perfect is the enemy of the good" -- the logic as I understand it being that nixing too many improvements because they are not "good enough" can stifle progress.

Todd said...

Hmmm, I didn't notice that the granularity of DQ's stats are decades, so we don't have 2010 yet.

I wonder if 2000 - 2005 or 2006 (we're getting close to the end of 2006) would show a reversal of the 1970 - 2000 trend, seeing an increase in poor African-Americans. At some point or another we should expect to see a (we hope minor and temporary) reversal of a major trend.

But measurng a single trend for single group doesn't seem to me a very global treatment of "progress" or "improvement".

David Brin said...

FinnDeSiecle, I agree with you that the “60% hard core” figure seems not only vague but absurd, especially in cosmopolitan New Jersey. In fact, I cannot imagine what polling criterion could nail down in any explicit way who is a “leftist” vs reasonable liberal... vs who is a dogmatic rightist vs reasonable conservative.

And yet, what reasonable person cannot tell that the ratios are really, really different? We’ll see in future weeks the essential core truth. The Democrats are NOT as thoroughly controlled by their screeching maniacs as the republican party is thoroughly run by its fanatical elements. I invite debate over this.

DQ, you are simply being absurd again. You can describe forever all sorts of problems and things that need fixing... and you KNOW that I agree on many of them, especially after 12 years of neocon domination of Congress.

And yet, your logic is INDENTICAL to the smarmy Tobacco Institute character in “Thank You For Smoking”. When you cannot win an argument, by all means pretend we are arguing about something else!

The list of things to fix does abso-freaking lutely nothing to repudiate the long list of things that HAVE been fixed. (Perhaps you don’t recall “coloreds only” drinking fountains and girls being told they can’t do science, but I do. And my father could never have bought a home in my current neighborhood.)

The topic. THE topic between you and me is the filthy and utterly stupid habit of the left to deny the long, long long long and glorious list of things that have been accomplished, so far.

It is deeply, deeply sick, on two levels:

1- the utter absurdity of such a mental trait, in its own right

2- the utter impracticality of yammering at a civilization “None of our past reforms have ever worked! You are still a bunch of racist sexist assholes! You’ve bought our product for a century and it never worked! .... SO BUY MORE! We hate and despise you! ... SO VOTE FOR US!”

This inability to even grasp the counterproductive illogic of that position, is THE reason why most people in this country despise the left. The weird thing is that the left utterly adores that. They love things exactly this way, so they can feel smugly superior.

Liberals, recognize this “ally”. Work with them, because the “core” is useful, but watch your backs. The closer we get to victory over the neo-feudalists and neo-fascists, the more we will be hamstrung and attacked and shivved by the insanity on our own side.

Never, ever let the indignation junkies take us over, the way conservatives let fanatics take over their side.

David Brin said...

Sorry, but this merits comment:

"Bush said the goal in Iraq remains "a government that can sustain, govern and defend itself and serve as an ally in this war on terror.""

In today's AP news... from a post election interview.

Uh... "remains"? REMAINS?

Whatever happened to:

(1) our main and urgent goal is "elimination of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction"?

or

(2) eliminating Saddam's support of Al Quaeda (later proved to be nonexistent.)

or

(3) the utopian goal of spreading democracy and nation-building?

All three of these justifications are not only gone, but forgotten. Whoosh!

Please folks. Do not let election glows prevent you from pointing all of this out. People glowering over the Tuesday results need to be shown WHY this happened!

It happens that, out of all four of these reasons... I actually kind of agreed with #3... but only if performed by competent people. Not a pack of utter morons.

or worse.

Anonymous said...

But only [doing] #2 is going to get the job done.


:-)

I'm sorry, but I just couldn't resist...

TwinBeam said...

Ironically, I think the conservatives would look at that list of previous missions in Iraq and consider them to have been checked off, one by one, as "Done!". That they didn't have that checklist in mind going into Iraq doesn't bother them at all. Of course, they're having a bit of trouble getting a check-mark on "stabilize Iraq"...


As to the racial distribution of poverty - one factor to take into account is the somewhat bell-shaped distribution of income. When 55% of a population is under the poverty line, a relatively small increase in income can greatly reduce the percent below the poverty line. I'd guess that's what happened from 1955 to 1970, and I'd say that was at least partly due to Civil Rights laws.

But the change from 1990 to 2000 was rather more impressive, since it'd require a bigger shift in median income vs the poverty line to achieve that, than the 1955 to 1970 shift.

Let's look at a table from the link provided by DQ:

Per Capita Income

Year...African ......Total
.......Americans.....Population
1970...$1,869........$3,177
1980...$4,804........$7,787
1990...$9,017.......$14,387
2000..$14,796.......$22,346

For comparison, the poverty line (a different source):

YEAR..individuals...family of 3
1970...$1954........ $3099
1980...$4190.........$6565
1990...$6652........$10419
2000...$8791........$13740

The poverty line moved about with inflation, which was high in the 70's and 80's, but pretty moderate and decreasing in the 90's.

Lower income workers tend to not have good wage leverage to keep up with inflation. They rely on a good economy to raise their average employment and wages. Inflation ruined their chances from 1970-1990, but low inflation allowed a good economy from 1990 to 2000, allowing wages to rise faster than the poverty line.

Bush's spending has been pumping up inflation, keeping the economy going in the short term. As we inevitably have to cut back on the spending that has kept the economy artificially afloat, the economy will turn sour. So Blacks' impressive poverty gains from the 90's may be about to reverse themselves.

Don Quijote said...

FOXNEWS - U.S.
Census: Race Disparities in Income, Education, Home Ownership Persist in U.S.



Among the findings:

—Black adults have narrowed the gap with white adults in earning high school diplomas, but the gap has widened for college degrees. Thirty percent of white adults had at least a bachelor's degree in 2005, while 17 percent of black adults and 12 percent of Hispanic adults had degrees.

—Forty-nine percent of Asian Americans had at least a bachelor's degree in 2005.

—The median income for white households was $50,622 last year. It was $30,939 for black households, $36,278 for Hispanic households and $60,367 for Asian households.

—Median income for black households has stayed about 60 percent of the income for white households since 1980. In dollar terms, the gap has grown from $18,123 to $19,683.

—Hispanic households made about 76 percent as much as white households in 1980. In 2005, it was 72 percent.

—The gap in poverty rates has narrowed since 1980, but it remains substantial. The poverty rate for white residents was 8.3 percent on 2005. It was 24.9 percent for black residents, 21.8 percent for Hispanic residents and 11.1 percent for Asian residents.

Genius said...

DQ,
Interesting that the asians despite being a very diverse group and starting from a low basis are already so far ahead of the whites in things like average income and education - I presume that gap is growing?