View Full Version : In Congress I Trust

08-01-2009, 11:14 PM
Rate your trust in our Congress - specifically on national defense and foreign policy issues.

08-01-2009, 11:24 PM
Just to clarify, I voted for "Lock them up - I don’t trust them as an organization as far as I could throw them." But I only agree with the second half of that. Locking them up seems a bit much. There is no law against being a disgraceful human being.

08-02-2009, 12:25 AM
There is no law against being a disgraceful human being.

If there was - Congress would enact it and I can comfortably guess that they would be exempt - maybe as a rider on a pay raise bill? Iím not naÔve, but the latest Congressional shenanigans have left me fuming.

08-02-2009, 02:13 AM
What in particular? I mean, I can think of nothing that they have done recently that I am pleased with and generally everything that they do disgusts me - but nothing recently sticks out in my mind as being abnormal.

John T. Fishel
08-02-2009, 02:24 AM
Reps plus about 5 so-called non-voting delegates who vote on committees including the Committee of the Whole and 100 Senators and you want me to rate the whole darn institution with only those choices!!!!:eek:

Some get it, some don't. Most are well meaning, some are absoultely venal. Some are very bright, others dumber than whale s**t. None of these categories are mutually exclusive.

The institution was created the way it is to be inefficient. But it still has the power to change the players (and therefore the rules) in ways that neither the executive nor the judiciary can - that is if they can get their act together. Consider the impeachment process and Richard Nixon, his resignation forced, contrasted with the impeachment of Bill Clinton who was handily acquitted by the Senate. But, of course, you also have the impeachment and conviction of Judge Alcee Hastings and the current service in the House of Congressman Alcee Hastings - go figure.



08-02-2009, 02:48 AM
Saw this posted recently in the comment section of the USNI Blog (http://blog.usni.org/?p=3853#comments)...

Of all the six frigates, Congress had the least notable career in comparison to her sister ships and was unceremoniously broken up in 1834. - via Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Congress_%281799%29)

That's like naming a ship after the Titanic or Benedict Arnold. Bad Karma. What did they expect?

08-02-2009, 04:35 AM
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress.
- Mark Twain

08-02-2009, 07:58 PM
Some get it, some don't. Most are well meaning, some are absoultely venal. Some are very bright, others dumber than whale s**t. None of these categories are mutually exclusive.

Not intended as a gotcha question, but could someone point out a few of the individuals who fit into the categories of "getting it" and/or "well meaning"? I know there are some who may have a reputation for either of those, though a "reputation" may not equate to actually epitomizing either. I am sure that someone with a military installation in their district is regarded as "getting it" by many, but they are probably just parochial whores. There are others with military backgrounds who are probably assumed to get it just by having served. Again, I can think of a few individuals for whom that would be very misleading.

I'm just curious, which individuals, if any, get respect from people who have a better understanding of the budgetary/legislative process. Who are the Congress Critters who actually DO good, rather than just making it look like they do good. I'm sure there are one or two of them, but I have no idea who.

08-02-2009, 10:44 PM
I voted "They do not get it" because I'm not sure if they are all complete villains or if some are just incredibly stupid and ineffectual. Clearly, some level of corruption is implicit in legislative service but I have to believe some actually think they are doing the right thing... Right? :o

John T. Fishel
08-02-2009, 11:24 PM
First, one needs to understand the several roles a member of Congress (MC) plays. The first role is that of an instructed delegate. The MC represents his district and its interests. The late Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson was known as the Senator from Boeing because, literally, what was good for Boeing was good for the state of Washington and what was bad for Boeing was bad for Washington... The only Democrat in the OK congressional delegation, Dan Boren, is a strong Blue Dog because that is the way his district wants him to be.

The second role is that of Party Delegate. The MC runs on a party label. With the exception of a few, like Arlen Spector, party is not chosen at random. Mike Pence (R IN) is a Republican because he believes in the policy preferences of the Rep Party; Likewise Dan Boren (D OK) generally supports the Democratic position because he believes in it. In point of fact, party affiliation is the single best predictor of the way a MC will vote.

The third role is Trustee. Here the MC is saying, in effect, to the voters of his district, "You elected me to serve for 2 (6 if Sen) years and to use my best judgement on what is best for my district, state, country. If you don't like my choices, vote for somebody else." This role most often involves defense and foreign policy issues.

Clearly there is overlap and sometimes conflict between roles. The latter is where it gets interesting. But consider my least favorite MC - speaker Nancy Pelosi. In her case there is complete overlap among her roles. While I think she is a disaster for the country she is giving her district what it wants and that is congruent with her party ideology and her best personal and professional judgement. In short, her district thinks she gets it and I would be very remiss if I didn't credit her with meaning well (absent hard evidence to the contrary). I can't find any such evidence much as I might like to and all I can do is argue with my cousin who lives in her district that "she doesn't ge it."



PS This is why I couln't choose an answer to the poll.:eek:

08-02-2009, 11:44 PM
It is a horribly challenging situation as observed (http://www.despair.com/idiocy.html) by that great philosopher E.L. Kersten, and Congress rarely fails to succumb to the challenge.

Something about those large group dynamics that makes it hard to stand out (http://www.despair.com/un.html) for the good and easy to hide (http://www.despair.com/ir.html) for the less noble & accountable. There are some of each.

08-03-2009, 12:17 AM
the US Rep from our district (about 1/2 of Michigan geographically), Bart Stupak, whose Wiki is here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_Stupak), and propaganda pages, here (http://www.stupakforcongress.com/) and here (http://www.house.gov/stupak/).

Some personal bias, because I know him. A good guy. Not perfection on every issue, but who is. He is an example of representing his district; but his voting record reflects his personal beliefs as well as those of the district.

The state and national Demo parties find him a wee bit too conservative - basically center-right. His 2008 endorsements (http://www.stupakforcongress.com/release_details.asp?id=22) tell the story. The fellow he beat in 1992, Phil Ruppe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Ruppe), is also a friend (closer than Bart). Phil (and his wife Loret (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loret_Miller_Ruppe), a bit better known) had pretty much the same platform and personal beliefs when he was US Rep (1966-1978), as a Republican.

As to my two US Senators, I stay silent - reflecting my mom's general advice. ;)

Ken White
08-03-2009, 12:30 AM
As to my two US Senators, I stay silent - reflecting my mom's general advice. ;)OTOH, our local Rep isn't too bad, he's better than most and does a good job of representing the District in a way most of us can support, doesn't do the politically correct thing anymore than he has too...

When I lived in Georgia, I liked Sam Nunn -- didn't agree with him on everything but he was pretty honest, seemed to try to do what was right rather than expedient and is one of the few incumbents I have ever voted for and one of the even fewer people I've voted for on more than one occasion.

'Course, he's not in the Senate now... :wry:

08-03-2009, 01:26 AM
One of my favorite quotes:

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Sam Clemens

Ron Humphrey
08-03-2009, 02:04 AM
And this is why. I look at Congress the same way I do every other person in this country. They are what and who they are and act accordingly; for good or bad.

FWIW When it comes to governance I have never in my life put my trust in any given branch of government but rather that trust is in those who make up this country and the constitution it's based on.

When I see things happen which I disagree with or which concern me as to the continued welfare of the country any disappointment is with the people who make the choices to place those in the government and any hope for adjustment or correction is to be found in the same place.

I look at it kinda like ride share The group figures out where their going and then whoever gets chosen to drive drives. If I don't like their driving then I either change ride share groups, get my own car, or walk.

It's all about choices and so far as I can tell we all still have them so for now I can just keep going while maintaining hope that I'm not the only one who notices when one of the driver's is high as heck or drunk off their backside and try's to get them outta the car and into rehab:D

Watcher In The Middle
08-03-2009, 04:32 AM
Originally posted by Schmedlap:

I'm just curious, which individuals, if any, get respect from people who have a better understanding of the budgetary/legislative process. Who are the Congress Critters who actually DO good, rather than just making it look like they do good. I'm sure there are one or two of them, but I have no idea who.

Actually, a fair number would meet the criteria. We always used to work on the basis that it was "30 - 40 - 30". The 1st .300 was for the political partisans (they were all about politics, that was all that mattered, most were 1-2-3 main issue types, and that was all they cared about); the 2nd .40 were all about accumulating wealth/influence (and they both were and are still good at it), and the last 30 percent were actually good legislators. And the good ones would surprise you. People like Ted Kennedy, Charles Grassley, Tom Coburn, Steny Hoyer, Denny Hastert, John Dingell, others. I actually have a fair degree of respect for Henry Waxman, because he gets it done. Others, not so much.

Funny thing - in these times of trouble, there is a group of "newbies" from both sides who look to be fairly impressive. We'll see how they do, because the 2010 midterms are looking to be really interesting.

Remember the insight of a great political thinker on "Politics":

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."

Groucho Marx

The saying really resonates as it relates to the Congress of the United States.

08-03-2009, 04:55 AM
I guess I should have clarified. I meant legislators who "get it" in terms of legislation pertaining to national security. The only individual whom I have ever seen singled out for praise was Sam Nunn - and that was about 15 years ago when I read Schwarzkopf's biography.

Odd side note - during the Presidential campaign, George Will was asked on This Week, "who will Obama choose as a running mate?" His response was, "well, he should choose Sam Nunn." The entire roundtable cut him off with polite laughter and George Stephanopoulus (sp?) then interjected, "well, of course he should choose Sam Nunn, but who will he choose?" That exchange seems to epitomize, for me, one of the biggest problems with the current state of our democracy.

Watcher In The Middle
08-03-2009, 05:23 AM
I tend to think re: "National Security" issues, that many of the Congress critters "get it" in terms of understanding the material, but they fail to understand the related complex relationships that can exist (which can be terribly difficult to put into briefing materials), or they certainly don't property value them.

Wish that it would change, but you can go all the way back to the Revolutionary War for far too many examples of "politicians acting badly" as regards our national security. Hasn't changed very much.

Just as an observation, one of the biggest problems/obstacles for any member of Congress becoming the next Sam Nunn or 'Scoop' Jackson is that the up-and-comers become magnets for lobbyists and influence 'peddlers' all wanting to get their piece of the Defense pie, and who are more than willing to trade contributions (or whatever) for influence. And it's really gotten intense beyond all reason in the last 10-15 years.

I'm just grateful that we are not allowing Congress to craft our National Security policy like they are in the process of attempting to do on a few other national issues. Shudder to think....

John T. Fishel
08-03-2009, 12:34 PM
the single most important piece of defense legislation in the past 25 years, Goldwater-Nichols, was drafted by Congress along with its companion, the Cohen-Nunn amendment (to the 1986 Appropriations Act). Actually, both were drafted by Nunn staffer, Jim Locher, who became ASD-SO/LIC under Bush 41. IMO, both pieces of legislation were long overdue and highly successful (which, I know, will provoke a respnse from Ken;)) Both became law over the objections of the SECDEF and the JCS - the only strong supporter on the JCS was Shy Meyer.



08-03-2009, 12:49 PM
Okay, who's the joker that voted "very trustful"?

Ken White
08-03-2009, 01:54 PM
some things...:wry:

08-04-2009, 05:45 AM
I knew it was Ken :D

Lock them up, hire NCOs, no more free meals. Sierra, I just can't remember ever wanting to pay for a plate and listen to someone banter.

I need a beer ;)

08-04-2009, 06:27 AM
I just can't remember ever wanting to pay for a plate and listen to someone banter.

It depends on how you approach it. I did that in 1996 at a state party convention. Not too pricey, but more than the dish was worth. However, I got my money's worth by partaking of the bottomless glass of wine that they seemed to be offering. Either that was an actual special offer, or the waitress just allotted everyone else's share to my table. The funny thing is that I was only 18. I guess they figured young people weren't into politics, so no ID check. Between me and the old codger sitting next to me, we polished off 5 bottles of some decent stuff - any one bottle of which was about equal to the price for the dinner and banter.

I hope that I have not tempted anyone to cease being apolitical.