January 13, 2006

An Appeal to Center-Right Bloggers

I received an e-mail from N.Z. Bear earlier today inviting me to be one of the original signers of a letter from center-right bloggers to the House Republican leadership. A lot of bloggers have signed on to the letter. I did not. Most of them are people I respect, so it is baffling that they signed it even though one would think they agree with my central argument. The letter is silly and meaningless. Here is my response.

You bloggers have a butttload of opinions, and you've gone and expressed another one. I don't agree with you on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

While you are not naive about lobbying, and you know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members, you are naive to think that the average American gives a rat's ass about the Abramoff scandall--or even understands it. I don't. I don't believe you do either.

You are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege, and you are right. But, what excesses? What priveleges? When a lobbyist gives money to a Congressman, the money actually goes to help him get reelected. He doesn't actually keep the money. Yeah, maybe the occasional junket. But, so what? Surely you can't be serious to think that any sizeable chunk could be taken out of the deficit if, say, more Indian tribes got legalized gaming--which is what the alleged Abramoff payolla was about. Right?

I also hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to certain reforms, including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations, but who in their right mind would call such reforms "sweeping". No, let me take that back. If a Congressman wants to take a junket from Tyson foods to Hedonism II, what business is it of mine? Let him. Have fun Congressman. Blow off some steam. It's really none of my business.

I will agree that changes need to be made to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process, but I wouldn't call such changes "major". Isn't the real culprit here the American electorate and the media? The media for not covering appropriations hearings, and the American public for not caring. In fact, the American people have become so lazy that they find it easy to believe that Congress is full of corruption, easier to blame every one in Congress, and easiest just to tune out. Personally, I won't take the lazy way out. I keep hearing about influence peddling in Congress, but the concrete examples seem much fewer and farther between than the media would like us to believe. The fact that a Congressman takes money or services from a lobbyist is not evidence of corruption or influence peddling.

As for the Republican leadership elections, I really don't give a damn if the candidate is reform oriented or not. My major concern is that the next Majority Leader has a bloodlust for terrorists, will not be shirk from calling fascism fascism when the fascists in question are a group favored by the Left, and who will make sure enough money is spent to win the war on terror. However much money it takes.

After that, I want a Majority Leader who will cut the Federal government's spending by so much that it would make Ronald Reagan blush in shame. Let's start with Social Security, work our way through Medicare, and then start hacking away at the Department of Education. When the Federal government shrinks to its Constitutionally limited functions, there will be no more need for armies of lobbyists in Washington because the teets of largess will be dry. They will have been weened.

Give me 435 unethical, whoremongering, immoral, back room elected Congressman committed to limited government. Keep your transparency. I will gladly let my Congressman get away with just about anything in exchange for protecting me from the bad guys of the world and keeping his grubby paws out of my pockets. Let their paws remain in the pockets of whoever is trying to bribe them. Better their's than mine.

I hope every Congressman who is committed to winning the war on terror and getting the hell out of my life will support a candidate who doesn't give a damn what the New York Times or Chris Matthews thinks about them. And I hope all would-be members of the leadership ignore the self-righteouss members of the new media who have taken to sounding like a CBS News echo chamber.

Rusty Shackleford

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:04 PM | Comments |