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Why I Don't Approve of My Congressman:

Polls routinely show that most Americans give very low approval ratings to Congress as a whole, but give much higher ratings to their own representatives. Count me among the minority that would give an even lower rating to their own representative than Congress as a whole. That's because my representative is the egregious Jim Moran.

Recent data reveal that Moran is one of the biggest porkers in Congress, and second only to Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha in reaping campaign contributions from the beneficiaries of his earmarks. Of course, that's exactly what you would expect from the man who said back in 2006 that "[w]hen I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the shit out of it." He has certainly kept his campaign promise.

Massive earmarking hardly exhausts the list of Moran's shortcomings. He has also flirted with anti-Semitism, notoriously blaming the Iraq War on "the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, [without which] we would not be doing this." This despite the fact that Jewish opinion has consistently been more hostile to the war than general public opinion. Such statements don't definitively prove that Moran is an anti-Semite. But they do suggest that he is either anti-Semitic or grossly ignorant about the true distribution of Jewish opinion (despite the fact that his district has Virginia's largest concentration of Jewish voters), or both. None of these three possibilities speak well of Moran, to put it mildly.

Finally, Moran is likely guilty of corruption (see, e.g., here).

There are probably some congressmen who are worse than mine. But even in a body not known for its high moral standards, there can't be too many.

smitty1e:
You in VA 8, too?
I thoroughly disagree with our mutual Congresscritter. As long as his campaign goes down in flames, I support his run for VA Governor.
11.19.2008 9:53pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
yeah-everyone hates pork-unless that pork is for your district...

good for you for being consistent
11.19.2008 9:54pm
MikeK (mail):
Unfortunately, smitty, his brother is the one running for Governor.
11.19.2008 10:00pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Moran isn't an antisemite, he's just a moron.

He spreads his ignorant comments to the Arab community as well, pissing them off as wildly as he pisses off Jews. Good thing he doesn't depend on either group for re-election.
11.19.2008 10:08pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Your opinion, based on not being rationally ignorant, is statistically insignificant in terms of your vote. Whether or not you can be effective as a mover and shaker influencing a bloc of votes in your district is another matter.
11.19.2008 10:15pm
JohnO (mail):
I also have had the misfortune of being gerrymandered into the execrable Moran's district. He's clearny worse than the institution -- and that's saying something.
11.19.2008 10:20pm
Oren:
There's just something about the Potomac that really brings out the sleaze. As The Simpsons pointed out a while ago, it stank then and it stinks now.
11.19.2008 10:30pm
zippypinhead:
Virginia's 8th District is basically a one-party fiefdom, and that's not likely to change in the next redistricting. Short of Moran getting bored and trying a different line of work or getting indicted for some felony or another, he's not going anywhere (he's already proven that a misdemeanor conviction isn't particularly harmful to his political career). I think a lot of voters would agree that he's an a**hole -- but he's their a**hole. If Moran really bothers you, maybe it's time to move out to Frank Wolf's 10th District - and with housing prices what they are, you can trade in your close-in condo on the exurban McMansion of your dreams and/or nightmares...

It's funny but I seem to recall that when Moran was mayor of Alexandria, he was generally thought to be pretty good. Colorful and a bit rough, but a decent mayor. Maybe he's just another example of the Peter Principle at work?

Incidentally, Jim's baby brother Brian (14 years younger) is the one running for Governor. He's been in the House of Delegates for over a decade and is chair of the Democratic caucus. He started out prosecuting cases in the Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney's office. As a general proposition, Brian is a lot smoother than his big brother, and certainly much better at auto-editing his comments before they make embarrassing headlines.
11.19.2008 10:34pm
Al Maviva:
Moran's pre-election comments about how the Republicans were basically scumbags because they held on to an antiquated belief that those who accumulate wealth should be allowed to keep it, were particularly embarrassing. What a fool.
11.19.2008 10:37pm
CiarandDenlane (mail):
Having seen the same stories, I won't vote for the man either. It's too bad, because the district will be represented by a Democrat no matter what, and, as far as this independent is concerned, Moran's views on the issues (his support for free trade, for example), are better than what I would expect from a generic Democratic substitute.
11.19.2008 10:48pm
Cornellian (mail):
everyone hates pork-unless that pork is for your district

I'd criticize him even for pork in my district, though I suppose it's a good thing that I'm unlikely ever to be tested by the scenario of pork directed to me, personally.
11.19.2008 10:55pm
hawkins:

If Moran really bothers you, maybe it's time to move out to Frank Wolf's 10th District


It pains me to say this, but I think I actually prefer Moran.
11.19.2008 11:16pm
hawkins:

It pains me to say this, but I think I actually prefer Moran.


Sorry, got my GOP Congressmen mixed up. Its not Wolf, but Davis that I dislike.
11.19.2008 11:18pm
Sagar:
it is amazing that political contributions resulting in earmarks of pork is legal in this country - an advanced democracy that talks down 3rd world corruption.

in a class i was teaching for project managers preparing for PMI certification, the Ethics course had clear examples of what not to do in "other" countries (even if it is legal locally) since it is against the US Law. i had to bring up the earmarks and campaign contributions to show that we are not pure here.

why should we have to prove intent to throw these bastards in jail for corruption, when there is clear material quid pro quo? someone like Stevens could go on for 40 years before he gets what he deserves, and many more porkers like Murtha will likely never pay for their wrongs ...
11.19.2008 11:24pm
Asterix:
Wolf may not be a total stinkyhole like Moran, but he's hardly a congressman to be proud of. Heck, he managed to vote for the bank bailout both times. Market's really validating that decision. And he seems to think his primary responsibility to his district is securing more money to widen I-66, so even more people can sit in gridlock every day.

In all honesty, the polling bias is quite possibly just due to national vs. local news reporting practices. Congressmen other than the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader generally only get on the national news when they're spouting utter idiocy, blowing taxpayer money, or going to jail; it's no wonder the lot looks like scum. But local media in home districts are more likely to cover Congressmen speaking at store opening, kissing babies, hosting bake sales, and what not. So their constituents get a (earned or otherwise) rosier view.
11.19.2008 11:40pm
Kenneth Tickner (mail):
Well, my Congressman is "Baghdad" Jim McDermott, Seattle's Congressman-for-life, who continues to send out fundraising messages asking for financial assistance to help him defend the First Amendment from the Republicans. These contributions will actually go to pay legal judgments and costs from his interception and publication of secret political conversations - contrary to a law that he voted for, and while he was head Democrat on the House Ethics Committee. Other people have criminal convictions for helping him - I can only wish he did too.
11.19.2008 11:57pm
Kelly (mail):
Yes, he's mine, too. I have a vastly more favorable view of Congress as a whole than I do of that particular Congressperson - he's really without redeeming value. But given that Moran represents all those Virginians lovingly referred to as "communist" by Joe McCain, he's unfortunately safe from anything short of a dead boy.

I hold onto a slight hope that the next redistricting will serve to lessen his grip on his small fiefdom. Now that the 11th district is also in Democratic hands and likely to stay there, there's less incentive to cram all of the most liberal areas of NoVA into one district. If the communists are watered-down at bit with some more moderate folks, a decent primary challenger could possibly have a shot.
11.20.2008 12:07am
Mac (mail):
Well, my Congressman, Rick Renzi, is up on corruption charges. I really liked him, I must say. However, I am still trying to figure out why he is in legal trouble for what he is alleged to have done, when it seems business as usual for the rest of Congress. I really don't get it. When does feathering someone's nest who feathers yours become a crime and when is it just an error in judgement, I believe it is called or business as usual?

Why is William Jefferson still in Congress, by the way, instead of behind bars?
11.20.2008 12:15am
Looker (mail):

He has also flirted with anti-Semitism, notoriously blaming the Iraq War on "the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, [without which] we would not be doing this."


University of Chicago Professor J. Mearsheimer and Harvard Professor wrote S. Walt wrote an essay and book calling the Israel lobby's efforts "critical" in the US decision to go to war with Iraq.

Lobby

Members of Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board have said the same thing. Even during Clinton, the American Jewish Congress called for the US to pursue the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act and remove Saddam Hussein at all costs.

You can call it hate, or blame, if you'd like, but it makes sense. Iraq has been a deadly threat to Israel for a long time (and not a serious threat to the US)...its not clear that most Israelis or American Jews supported the war - but going to war is not a decision by referendum. There were very good reasons and motives for Jewish interest groups to push for war.

How many Scuds fall on Israel these days, killing civilians indiscriminately?
11.20.2008 12:21am
lawnchair reactionary:
Identity Politics.
11.20.2008 12:59am
Ilya Somin:
University of Chicago Professor J. Mearsheimer and Harvard Professor wrote S. Walt wrote an essay and book calling the Israel lobby's efforts "critical" in the US decision to go to war with Iraq.

Lobby


The Mearsheimer-Walt theory has been refuted and discredited many times, including right here at the VC (David Bernstein and I among others have written various posts about it).

Members of Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board have said the same thing. Even during Clinton, the American Jewish Congress called for the US to pursue the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act and remove Saddam Hussein at all costs.

The Iraq Liberation Act, supported by Bill Clinton among others, didn't call for an invasion of Iraq and was not understood to require any such thing at time - by the AJC or anyone else.

You can call it hate, or blame, if you'd like, but it makes sense. Iraq has been a deadly threat to Israel for a long time (and not a serious threat to the US)...its not clear that most Israelis or American Jews supported the war - but going to war is not a decision by referendum. There were very good reasons and motives for Jewish interest groups to push for war.

The Israeli political establishment wanted the US to focus on Iran rather than Iraq in 2001-2002, which they considered the more serious threat. And the Scuds fell on Israel in 1991 because Saddam did it to try to tie in Israel to a war that was actually primarily between himself and the US. Yes, Saddam was an enemy of Israel. But the Israeli government played no more than a marginal role in the US decision for war in 2003. And in any event, Moran's remark related not to Israel but to the Jewish community in the US - most of which has been far more opposed to the war than US gentiles have been.
11.20.2008 1:23am
jhhgjk:
Looker,

So you're equating the Israel lobby to the "Jewish community" at large? That's precisely what is idiotic about Moran's statement. You merely repeat the logic that underpins it.
11.20.2008 2:34am
Kevin Murphy:
I'll trade in a heartbeat. I'm gerrymandered into Maxine Water's district -- they needed to erase some Republican votes from Jane Harman's swing seat and found a nice sinkhole in CA-35.
11.20.2008 2:48am
just me (mail):
I can't stand my congressman. Although he at least isn't corrupt (as far as I know). But he doesn't seem to really think much on his own-he marches in lockstep with Pelosi.

I didn't care for him before he went to congress and cared for him even less after I wrote him a letter in opposition to a bill (can't recall now which one). I did get a response but it thanked me for writing in support of the bill and why he thought it was a great bill etc.

I realize that some staffer probably wrote the response, but it was still his staff and they attached his name to a document that indicated they hadn't even bothered to read the letter.

I happily voted against him this last election cycle, but he won handily. I will gladly keep voting against him every two years until he is gone.
11.20.2008 6:23am
Thief (mail) (www):
11.20.2008 7:04am
Goobermunch:
Ilya, this election has taught me that there's hope. At long last, our long term Senator has found himself unemployed. Of course, it took seven felony convictions and a tight race to pull it off.

--G
11.20.2008 7:54am
blaster (mail):
That's all you got on Moran?

I got gerrymandered into his district, too. What a piece of work. Don't forget the sheriff having to come out to his mistress's house - domestic violence, I think she chose not to press charges. His wife on the other hand...

And then he punched that 8 year old boy. I think he had a scuffle of some sort with security at the airport, too, but maybe I am confusing him with some other Democrat congressman.
11.20.2008 8:27am
Happyshooter:
Ilya, I believe your point on jewish opposition to the Iraqi war is misleading.

Jewish power groups supported the invasion and defeat of Iraq's military. We can fancy up the past, but I clearly recall AIPAC and their think tanks cheerleading the war.

It was only after the weapons of mass destruction and the missile systems in Iraq were no longer a threat to Israel that the jews en mass started opposing the remainder of the American war effort.
11.20.2008 8:36am
Roger_Z:
I disapprove of both equally. Mine is Barney Frank, one of perhaps five individuals most responsible for the current crash. Add to that his brazen willingness to lay blame elsewhere without a scintilla of public remorse, and I would venture that he is very close to our least honorable politician, which is no mean feat. I would add that Frank is obviously very intelligent, so, deep down, he possibly understand his culpability. This makes his denials and projection even more heinous.

However, from Massachusetts district 4, we are unlikely to get anyone significantly better.
11.20.2008 8:44am
AntonK (mail):

"Polls routinely show that most Americans give very low approval ratings to Congress as a whole, but give much higher ratings to their own representatives."
Interesting, and the exact same effect is seen with parent's estimation of their children's schools: public education is seen poorly overall, but their kids school is okay.
11.20.2008 8:47am
Sarcastro (www):
[Yep, I didn't vote for the guy this past time either, after he said "This simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it."]
11.20.2008 9:01am
MD22304:
Moran's ethics may have improved lately, as the wealth of his new wife reduces the need to e.g., give his vote to MBNA in return for a sweetheart loan.
11.20.2008 9:08am
Fedya (www):
And I thought I had it bad living in Maurice Hinchey's district....
11.20.2008 9:24am
Houston Lawyer:
Until I moved in February, I was in Sheila Jackson Lee's district. The woman is a compete buffoon. She does, however, provide occassional entertainment value, such as the time that she held a press conference to complain that the National Weather Service wasn't giving hurricanes a sufficient number of "Black" names such as Keisha and LaToya.

I'm out in the burbs now, in Tom DeLay's former district, which just elected a new Republican who is so noteworthy I can't remember his name.
11.20.2008 9:29am
Kevin R (mail):
I'm alright with Frank Wolf. Maybe it's just that after Jim Trafficant, when I lived in Ohio, and Jim Moran, when I lived inside the beltway, anyone seems good.
11.20.2008 9:29am
Kinch (mail) (www):
Well how do you think I feel? My congressman is "Dollar" Bill Jefferson.

And if that is not bad enough, if I lived across the street, my former congressman would have been Bobby Jindal.

You know what they say, 'location, location, location'.
11.20.2008 9:31am
Obvious (mail):
Ilya, you can't have it both ways.

You recognize people are politically ignorant. There's no reason to suspect that in many matters this doesn't also apply to members of congress.

There is no contradiction in, for example, recognizing that members of the Black Caucus oppose tuition vouchers while a majority of blacks support it. Similarly, there is no contradiction in recognizing that powerful pro-Israel interests supported the Iraq invasion by the US while lots of Jews throughout the country opposed it.
11.20.2008 9:44am
rarango (mail):
Wow--some of you posters are really screwed! The names cited read like a list of the 10 worst congress critters: McDermott, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Moran, et al! You certainly have my sympathy.
11.20.2008 10:01am
Kelly (mail):

And I thought I had it bad living in Maurice Hinchey's district....

Now there's some gerrymandering to maintain a Democratic safe-seat that puts Moran's district to shame. The lengths they went to in the last redistricting in order in keep Ithaca in Hinchey's district were absolutely ridiculous.
11.20.2008 10:02am
Seamus (mail):
Sorry, got my GOP Congressmen mixed up. Its not Wolf, but Davis that I dislike.

Well, you should be very happy, now that Davis is leaving, to be replaced by Gerry Connally (i.e., Moran w/o the buffoonery).
11.20.2008 10:15am
Kirk:
Kenneth Tickner,

S*cks to be you! No one except perhaps Christopher Hitchens would ever confuse my congressman, Norm Dicks, with Mother Teresa, but compared to most of the folks cited here he's a paragon of virtue.

Our mutual Senators, on the other hand, are a completely different story. I'm sure you'd join me in saying that I'd gladly replace those two (Patty "Osama the daycare provider" Murray and Maria Cantwell) with two names drawn at random from the adult non-felon population of our state. :-(
11.20.2008 10:16am
George Lyon (mail):
Moran or Moron as I prefer to call him should be a complete embarrassment even to his fellow Congressmen. I remember when he punched a kid.
11.20.2008 11:07am
willis (mail):
Well at least your representative is just corrupt. Ours, John Lewis from Georgia, is bone stupid. He would sound like a complete idiot if you could make out anything he says.
11.20.2008 11:30am
Thunderstruck (mail):

Well, you should be very happy, now that Davis is leaving, to be replaced by Gerry Connally (i.e., Moran w/o the buffoonery).


I was not happy with Davis in VA-11, but I think Connolly will be much worse. I don't remember precisely what the new VA delegation looks like, i.e., D versus R, but with a Democrat governor and two Democrat Senators, this erstwhile red state seems blue, blue, blue.
11.20.2008 11:49am
Fub:
Kinch wins the thread at 11.20.2008 9:31am:
You know what they say, 'location, location, location'.
11.20.2008 12:19pm
PLR:
Without further comment, I will note only that Congress.org lists Congressman Moran as the 81st most powerful Congressman.

Link is here

Meanwhile, my own Congressman, a bible-thumping numbskull named Todd Akin, is the 414th most powerful Congressman, dead last in both the Missouri delegation and the class of 2000.
11.20.2008 12:25pm
zippypinhead:
Sorry, got my GOP Congressmen mixed up. Its not Wolf, but Davis that I dislike.

Well, you should be very happy, now that Davis is leaving, to be replaced by Gerry Connally (i.e., Moran w/o the buffoonery).
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes in Virginia's 11th District. I'm guessing "not much." If Davis had run for re-election, he would have handily won even though the District went for Obama. Davis was significantly to the center/left of the bulk of the Virginia GOP (see, e.g., the way the party rigged the nominating process for U.S. Senate to keep Davis off the ticket). His replacement, Gerry Connolly, has generally stuck to pretty moderate bread and butter positions as the Dem chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. In fact, I daresay I detected little difference in the FFX Board's behavior from when Davis was Board chair versus Connolly's tenure -- whether you think that's good or bad is another issue.

I just don't see Connolly getting anywhere near as squirrelly as Moran -- his constituents won't stand for it. After all, one reason the 11th District was created was to rescue some of the more reasonable parts of the NoVA suburbs from the clutches of the People's Republik of Arlington &Alexandria (both of which behave almost as if they'd never been retroceded to Virginia from D.C. in 1847).
11.20.2008 12:38pm
DCP:

I have all of you beat.

I used to be represented by Cynthia McKinney. I challenge anyone to top that. Please, I could use the laugh.
11.20.2008 1:48pm
KWC (mail):
Be careful of overusing the term "anti-Semitic." Not every comment that casts the Jewish community in a negative light is driven by hatred of Jewish people.
11.20.2008 1:49pm
swg:
My Congressman Henry Waxman is pretty bad. I'm not sure about his earmarking, but his general perspective on other stuff is infuriating. Recently he's said that we need to change the fact that "so many government agencies are filled with cronies." He then made "unusually large campaign contributions to several freshman democrats whose votes could prove key in determining which man takes the gavel of one of Congress' most powerful panels." I know this is how politics works, but Waxman's "it's only bad if it's the other side" behavior is especially egregious.
11.20.2008 2:03pm
Tatterdemalian (mail):
How does it continue to surprise people that congressmen are popular in their own district but hated by other districts? They wouldn't get elected if they weren't popular at home, nor would they get elected if they were too feckless to make any enemies outside their district. It's like being surprised that there are still children who are "below average." It's how mathematics works.

Me, I have a great senator and representative, but I wouldn't consider for a minute that all of Congress should be like them. They should be fighting to bring home the pork, not reaching a mutual understanding for it.
11.20.2008 2:04pm
swg:
Oh no! My congressman is now more powerful than your congressman.
11.20.2008 2:13pm
DG:
{Be careful of overusing the term "anti-Semitic." Not every comment that casts the Jewish community in a negative light is driven by hatred of Jewish people.}

You mean like this one?

{It was only after the weapons of mass destruction and the missile systems in Iraq were no longer a threat to Israel that the jews en mass started opposing the remainder of the American war effort.}

Jewish opinion about the Iraq war has closely tracked the larger US population, particularly when you norm for party affiliation. Moran is a fool and an anti-semite. That is hardly his only flaw. He is a violent man, corrupt, and ill suited to politics. His corruption is a far more serious issue than his anti-semitism.
11.20.2008 2:14pm
Fedya (www):
Kelly:

The gerrymandering was, of course, much worse back when a lot of New York north of Westchester was solidly Republican. Now, though, with a bunch of Democratic seats, Republicans are going to be made extinct in New York, especially with the Democrats having won a majority in the State Senate.

And to think all this happened despite half a term with one of the more corrupt Democratic governors who had to leave office thoroughly disgraced.

Worse, the government-sector unions continue to shriek that New York's problem is one of not spending enough money, and that if we only incite enough hatred of people whose salaries make us jealous, everything will be hunky-dory.

(Not that it has to do with this thread, but according to the NYS Department of Budget, tax receipts have gone up 73% after adjusting for inflation in the last 30 years (population sure hasn't gone up 73%), and the tax system has already moved substantially more toward the income tax.)
11.20.2008 2:32pm
Mac (mail):


I have all of you beat.

I used to be represented by Cynthia McKinney. I challenge anyone to top that. Please, I could use the laugh.


DCP,

You win!
11.20.2008 3:15pm
Happyshooter:
How would it feel to have Cheeks-Kilpatrick, Levin, and Stabanow? Or Conyers?
11.20.2008 3:43pm
Jmaie (mail):
Gotta ask, does anyone here like their congressman?
11.20.2008 10:04pm
josil (mail):
Not me...and I have a relatively good one. Just wish she would not vote straight party all the time...especially because it is not my party.
11.21.2008 3:25am
Gordo:
Ilya should move into the District of Columbia. That way he won't have a Congressperson at all - at least not one that can vote.
11.21.2008 1:42pm
Louisiana Boy (mail):

Gotta ask, does anyone here like their congressman?


I don't like the one where I am now, but where I lived before my congressmen were, in series, Bob Livingston, David Vitter, and Bobby Jindal. I liked (and voted for) all three.
11.21.2008 5:40pm
TCO:
I have Cantor. I blistered the cocksucker's phone line. With anti-bailout comments. I want the fucker out of a job and all of his spawn to die like Ethipians with blown up bellies from starvation. Just sayin...
11.22.2008 5:27pm
TCO:
Jews seem very sensitive to anti-semitism. Not sure how muich of that is from the holocaust and pogroms and how much is sorta in group helping each other. There are incredible things about the Jews like their achievements in the arts and sciences. Then more lame things like their pathetic level of (non) service in the US Armed forces.
11.22.2008 5:29pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
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11.23.2008 1:07am