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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Petri Dish of DeLay: Where's the Bleach?


Hear that sound? That's the band striking up to celebrate at least one more Republican standing down.

But it's been so long since we had something to actually be happy about, the music sounds as discordant as the first day of junior high band class. Why? Because though far from pyrrhic, this is only a small victory. Sure, if you toss in "Duke" Cunningham from California, that's two in the last six months, but getting the "poster boys" of Republican corruption - er, make that culture of corruption (gotta remember the talking points) - out of Congress is a far cry from getting corruption out of government.

If you're a little nerdy, like I am, then you can't hear the word "culture" without thinking of growing mold in a Petri dish (or that to-go container of unknown origin in the back of your fridge). But then, both biological cultures and social cultures involve finding a way to make it easy for like-natured organisms to join the fray. After being sealed and hidden in a dark place, away from prying eyes, they feast on the food that sustains them. For mold, it's yeast. For fungi-faced politicians it's money-money-money. I know - it's all bread - but isn't that part of the point?

Two things for sure that kill mold are light and bleach. So we shine a light on corruption in the well-founded belief that this kind of exposure should kill the culture. But , in truth, the Congress has passed nothing that will sustain the sunshine on their culture. In fact, they want us to believe that the small, under-nourished (read: under-funded) colonies they leave out for us to see is all there is to worry about and they've taken care of it. But they have done nothing to dismantle the system that perpetuates this kind of corruption, and continue to hide the cash-cow cultures.

Apparently - surprise - once again it's up to us. We should be asking (with apologies to Wendy's), "Where's the bleach?" Do you know how to find out who your representative is taking money from? Well, you can try petitioning them for their donor list. You know - write them a letter.

At least some of it is public record. The Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives says the following on their website:
"Members, officers, and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives are required by certain House Rules and federal statutes to file official documents on travel, income, gifts, etc. and to make this information available to the public as Public Disclosure documents. These documents are filed with the Clerk of the House and are available from the Legislative Resource Center, B-106 Cannon House Office Building, during normal office hours. The telephone number is (202) 226-5200."


Lobbying firms are required to report how much money they spend and on whose behalf. Those records are compiled by groups like The Center for Public Integrity. If you find out anything regarding lobbying, ethics and your representatives that you want to know more about, contact the Center either from the interface on their site or the old-fashioned way (pasted from their website):
"The Center is located at 910 17th Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20006. The telephone number is (202) 466-1300."

Finally, talk about the issue with your friends and especially your neighbors. Don't let them sock away the Petri dish of corruption like it doesn't matter. Be the bleach. Then more will have to stand down.
-PBG
PS. The special election to replace the prison-bound Cunningham is April 11! If you know anyone in California's 50th District (San Diego County) please let them know that there is a progressive Democrat, Fran Busby, running and she stands a good chance of winning in this usually very Republican district. Get out the vote!
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