The World You Wake Up to the Next Day

November 10th, 2006  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

I just watched George Allen concede his Senate race in Virginia, so I guess the widely pertinent details in the election are settled. I was content when I went to bed Tuesday night, and I remain content, enjoying a comment I got from pk in the midst of our election-night e-mails, as the House was called for Democrats:

“Now Daddy’s feelin’ greedy.”

I’m just Scarlett O’Hara, gnawin’ on a carrot out here in the dirt. Or whatever that was she gnawed on. It was a root or something. I was eight last time I saw that scene.

So, you know … good.

Here’s part of why: The Honest Leadership & Open Government Act, which is nicely summarized by a Canadian reporter (

No House member may accept any gift of any value from lobbyists, or any firm or association that hires lobbyists.

No free travel, which means an end to the corporate jet line every Friday at Reagan National Airport.

No free tickets to Redskins games; or no meals of any value, even at a McDonalds; no front-row seats at entertainment venues….

House members will no longer be able to slip in special-interest projects on unrelated legislation. Such measures will no longer be allowed on a bill once negotiations between the Senate and House are complete.

Further, all bills will be made available to the public a full 24 hours before a final vote; presumably this gives watchdog groups a chance to flag any skullduggery.

Under the Pelosi rules, lobbyists will no longer be able to use the House gym (you’d be surprised how much gets negotiated in a sauna). Lobbyists will no longer be allowed onto the House floor or to use the cloakrooms just off the floor, preventing last-minute arm-twisting.

What’s more, no member or staffer will be able to negotiate for employment in the public sector without disclosing such contacts to the House Ethics Committee, and within three days of such contact being made.

Finally, all of this will be audited and investigated by a new Office of Public Integrity, and that office reports, directly and only, to the U.S. Attorneys Office….

Since I have no comprehensive list of what ails Washington and admit that I don’t have enough raw data to even concoct reasonably lurid fantasies about how bad things really are, a list like this has to be taken with a certain amount of sobriety. I mean … if you’re hogtied in some guy’s basement with an apple in your mouth, his promise to wash his hands might not be so comforting if you can barely hear it over the chainsaw he’s firing up.

But the idea that there could be some public review of bills, some modicum of transparency regarding the employment of future lobbyists, and a small ethical (and physical) firewall between the guys with bags of money and our elected representatives all strike me as things I’m down with. It makes me optimistic to think that Democrats might be able to arrive in power with a reform agenda that strikes a blow against the crap we’ve seen festering in Washington, and that they might be able to do it in a way that strikes at the root vs. trying a punitive and humiliating approach.

I’ve got devils on each shoulder yelling “Punish! Humiliate!” same as everyone, but for purposes of getting more responsive, transparent, ethical government … I can forego the pleasure of bloodsport.

Responses

  1. gl. says:

    November 14th, 2006 at 1:29 am (#)

    “House members will no longer be able to slip in special-interest projects on unrelated legislation. Such measures will no longer be allowed on a bill once negotiations between the Senate and House are complete.”

    i think, “wow, THAT’s been a long time comin’.”

Leave a Response

© Michael Hall, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.