Friday, September 21, 2007

Further Profiles in Non-Courage

Radley Balko Has the update:

All 13 members of Congress subpoenaed in the Duke Cunningham investigation have refused to turn over documents and testimony, citing congressional privilege. This was under advice from the House general counsel.

Keep in mind, this is the same Congress that, when questioned by Major League Baseball over its constitutional authority to investigate the steroid scandal, replied that its jurisdiction extended to "any time" and "on any matter."

So while they seem to think their subpoena power is universal, don't expect them to be held accountable themselves.

Raw Story has more details including an explanation for why Duncan Hunter is running for President. Why would a Congressman from California strap on the immigration issue and try to run all the way to the White House with it-? It stops the investigation and the Press from following too closely. If elected, long shot at best, he would get a free ride while in office following the precedent so widely argued by the Democrats about President Clinton...

The subpoenas were issued for "documents and testimony" by the lawyer for Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor named in Cunningham's case. Cunningham pled guilty and is serving eight years in prison.

Five lawmakers received subpoenas for documents and testimony: House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX); Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA); House Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha (D-PA); and ranking House Appropriations Republican Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

Other members were served subpoenas requesting only testimony.

Among them were: House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), erstwhile House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI); Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep John Doolittle (R-CA), Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA).

A spokesman for for Rep. Hunter told RAW STORY by email Tuesday that Hunter had been advised by House General Counsel that the subpoena was "inconsistent with the precedents and privileges of the House." Hunter is the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and a candidate for president.

"Congressman Hunter intends to continue consulting with House Counsel on this matter and will proceed according to their judgment," Kasper said. (with a straight face-?-Andy)

Radley Balko way back in December of Oh-Five for Fox News , had some background on our "Courageous Leaders" in his story about Congress investigating steroid use in Major League Baseball... Just more examples of "Do as I say not as I do" Leadership from the back of the parade. (emphasis in red-Andy)

It probably won't surprise you to learn that there's some clear hypocrisy at play here, too. The same politicians railing against the failings of big-time sports have curiously difficult time keeping their own house in order. For example, John McCain — himself one of the "Keating Five" Senators tainted by the savings and loan scandal — says the federal government needs to regulate professional boxing because the sport is hopelessly corrupt.

That may well be. But then, so is Congress. Two high-profile members of McCain's own party have been indicted in just the last two months. His Senate majority leader is under investigation for insider trading. And of course, there's the legal, ongoing "corruption" that takes place in Congress every day, such as when members procure wasteful pork projects from the federal treasury to win favor with constituents back home, or when lobbyists give sweetheart jobs to the family members of senators and congressmen. The notion of Congress "cleaning up" another institution is laughable.

Likewise, Rep. Davis and fellow baseball antagonists say steroids and amphetamines give athletes an "unfair advantage" over the competition. Never mind that after the 2000 census, Davis led efforts to gerrymander his own congressional district to ensure he'd never need to worry about re-election. Due to gerrymandering, Davis ran unopposed in 2002, as did one in five of his congressional colleagues.

Davis also recently sneaked a provision into federal legislation that prevented an apartment complex from going up in his district because, according to the Washington Post, he feared it would bring too many Democrats into the area. And as head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, Davis fought to similarly gerrymander Republican districts across the country, effectively giving many voters just one candidate to choose from.

As for McCain, he's responsible for putting limits on campaign spending that will make it even more difficult for challengers to knock off incumbents in the House and Senate.

Such efforts make it more difficult for voters to hold the GOP accountable when, for example, its party leaders prove to be corrupt. While opinion polls show the public's approval of Congress consistently hovers around 40 percent, 98 percent of incumbents won re-election in 2004. According to a Cato Institute study by Patrick Basham and Dennis Polhill, "90 percent of Americans live in congressional districts where the outcome is so certain that their votes are irrelevant."

So it's difficult to take politicians like Davis and McCain seriously when they talk about healthy competition and unfair advantages. If a slugger has indeed been using steroids, he may well have cheated opposing pitchers of a fair duel, or paying customers of a level baseball game. But politicians like Davis do all they can to cheat voters out of honest elections and electoral accountability. Which is worse?

Don't expect much from the New Ethics Legislation that the Democrats ran on and promised and delivered within their first week in the majority... It's more re-arrangement of furniture, more smoke, more mirrors and more "bugger-thy-neighbor"... Screwing the opposition is more important than investigating and removing scoundrels... Nothing really changed...

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