Nancy Pelosi’s House leadership just voted to make their own jobs harder.
In the wake of a string of Congressional misconduct and corruption cases, the House on Tuesday created an independent panel to investigate suspected wrongdoing by lawmakers, despite deep reservations from rank-and-file lawmakers from both parties.
[…] By creating a panel of six people of “exceptional public standing,” the House, for the first time, delegated the authority for regulating behavior in the House to nonlawmakers. Current members of the House, federal employees and anyone who has been a registered lobbyist in the past year would be ineligible.
Good for them. Tom DeLay’s GOP Congress showed beyond any conceivable doubt that American government suffers from a gross deficit of oversight, and it equally showed that in-house ethics committees, when they act at all, only move when it’s politically convenient (Bill Jefferson, Larry Craig). After watching Republicans hash the government during six years of more or less total power it seems naive to think that a one-party Democratic government will entirely resist the obvious temptation. We will be better off locking in whatever safeguards we can get while there is still some motivation to do it.
Republicans and some Democrats complain that the panel will tie up lawmakers in “frivolous” investigations. That concern would worry me more if guilty lawmakers didn’t use that exact word literally every time an investigation gets under way. The word doesn’t necessarily signal guilt; it’s just a reflexive response to being investigated. As long as the investigating body is relatively non-partisan and free from political control it won’t bother me at all to hear the word “frivolous” used quite a bit more around DC.
On the list of good results, the real threat of oversight will clear out lawmakers who come to DC for the perks. Coincidentally, these guys tend to be shitty lawmakers (see DeLay, Cunningham, Renzi, Cunningham, Jefferson et cetera ad nauseum). A little honest fear will go a long way towards getting more of the people’s work done amidst the usual vanity and graft.
As a side note, MissLaura at Kos pointed out yesterday that Bill Foster won the special election for Hastert’s seat on Tuesday and cast the tie-breaking vote for ethics reform one day later. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t have an office yet.
Tim, that’s _et alii ad nauseum_: _cetera_ means (literally) “other things”, “alii” means “other people”.
Otherwise, spot on, particularly the part about the perks.
At least it will distract them from constantly caving to Bush.
Republicans must be cursing Hastert’s name right now. Thanks Denny!
All together on three fRighties. 1…2…:
If you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to hide!
Well, that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? After Bush dropped a couple new Scalias on the SCOTUS and completely corrupted the DoJ, capping a 30 year run at drowning the entire judiciary in GOP Kool-aid, I can’t help but feel this solution is only a stop-gap measure until someone figures out how to appoint a panel full of Brownies.
I’d complain, but I don’t have a better solution. Either way, I wouldn’t want a seat on that panel for all the hookers in Spitzer’s phone directory. Crooked Pols are going to make their lives hell if they try to do their jobs right.
Dennis - SGMM
The legislation also mandates that Representatives must use only their bare hands to grab PAC and lobbyist money. The use of vacuum cleaners and snow shovels, which so reduced the dignity of these selfless public servants, is now forbidden. In the interests of health and safety, any bribe where the cash weighs more than ten pounds must now be lowered by rope.
So, I wonder if Bush will veto it?
forgot to note – the preceding is SNARK. The president can’t veto resolutions, and house rules are set by resolution. This one, for example, is H Res 895.
How the hell is it going to remain non-partisan and free from political control when it’s a board setup by partisan politicians?
In fact, from what little information the linked-to Times article presents, the board is the exact opposite of non-partisan with no political control – it’s highly partisan with lots of political control:
That’s not non-partisan at all. Which is a good thing given that we have a two party system. If we had more parties represented in Congress then the board make up would need to be much more complex.
However – this has all the makings for biting those who like good governance in the ass. Watch the bad government GOP wing attempt to exploit the hell out of this until they break it and it gets eliminated. That’s what they did with the office of the Independent Prosecutor when they put Ken Starr on the case. Republicans had hated the Independent Prosecutor laws ever since the Nixon fallout forced them to accept them. And at the first opportunity they showed exactly how it could be misused to persecute a sitting President for political gain.
They’ll do the same with this – find whatever holes exist and use them mercilessly to break the board. My gut is that the board will never get seated at all because of this:
Minority leader and Speaker have to agree on the composure of the board. Which means that Boehner has the ability to prevent the board from getting seated at all by just disagreeing with everyone that Pelosi presents as a board member. So Pelosi will either have to “compromise” and put people that Boehner wants on the board OR she’ll have to live without a board at all. If both sides wanted the board and wanted it to work this wouldn’t be an issue, but if one side wants it to fail – and fail in such a way as to make the other side look corrupt and foolish – they have a recipe for doing it.
My prediction – IF a board even gets seated (a big if) then the only people who will ever get investigated are Democrats. Because the Republican appointees will never allow investigations of Dems but the Dem appointee will want to be “fair” and “balanced” and so Dems will get investigated. If a Republican appointee ever does allow for an investigation of a Republican, that appointee will be removed at the first opportunity and no one will say boo about it. It sucks, but it’s the reality of our current two party system.
A much, much, MUCH better approach would be to force all of the Congresscritters to make ALL of their paperwork open to the public – including meeting schedules. Let the independent watchdog groups root this stuff out, because anyone appointed by Congress is going to be used as a pawn by one side or the other in the vote-getting game.
Dennis - SGMM
You’re underestimating our sterling lawmakers. Boehner will be allowed to seat three unemployed seal clubbers while Pelosi will seat three unemployed hedge fund managers.
What could go wrong?
That’s a better idea in my book. You can’t have too much transparency.
If we wanna be pedantic here, JC and Demimondian, then here goes: the correct phrase is et alia, ad nauseam. Not an actual construction of classical Latin, but at least it’s grammatically correct. Et alii, which Demimondian suggests, only means “and other men.” But the US Congress has female members, too, and there’s no reason to think a congresswoman won’t be involved in a scandal (although something makes me suspect that’s rather unlikely). Hence we must use et alia, to include our better halves too. Ad nauseum is incorrect, although quite common these days. It would be the accusative of nauseus, which isn’t a real Latin word. The correct phrase comes from nausea, which we also have in English. Thus, it’s gotta be ad nauseam. Also, the two constructions must be separated by a comma; without it, you end up actually saying “and other people in order to become nauseated.” Funny, perhaps, but not what you need here.
They did leave a loophole, though – pols are still allowed to smear themselves up with Crisco and roll around naked in giant piles of cash, as long as it’s restricted to denominations of $100 or lower.
It’s minor, but given how hard this simple, probably slightly above meaningless step, was fought; it’s a start. Real reform is going to take a long, long time.
Should also note, between this and FISA, Pelosi’s starting to look like a leader!
Desargues…no, in Latin, the neuter plural is never used to refer to men. The grammatical feminine was reserved for groups of women; groups of people of mixed or unknwon gender were always referred to using the masculine plural, in this case, alii.
I stand corrected, Demimondian–as far as Latina restituta is concerned. I was trying to preempt accusations of sexism by resorting to the fairly harmless (although less Latin, it’s true) alia.
Unfortunately, Latin is both dead and sexist, and so, in a sense, unfixable.
Personally, I use etcetera, no space, no italicization, and treat it as a single English word (“and a whole lot of etceteras” is valid, in my opinion, even if some of those ‘things’ are ‘people’.)
Here’s yet another shining example of why independent, outside audits/review is needed.
No one polices themselves well. Internal audit, risk departments, Internal Affairs(for Police), etc. are great to have, but they are not a substitute for outside audit firms, independent/sunshine watchdog groups, FOIA, public disclosure, etc.
But IOKIYAR – seriously – to defraud the NRCC or RNC. Only helps my side :-)
Just like the Obama campaign! [/troll]
I’ve seen the MUP kill for less…careful there…
See, this is why I love balloon juice. In between the fights about Obama and Hillary we can also get into fights about Latin or Star Wars.
King of the nitpickers, we are.
Makes sense. I think it’s generally accepted that rolling on Grant is considered spicy but rolling on Franklin would make it gay.
Killing them softly with his song?
Killing them with kindness?
Does he just fart some sort of deadly rainbow?
Need to know these things about our future Commander-in-Chief!
(side note – I hate the way the Republicans have replaced President with “Commander in Chief”. The president is not our commander. He is the civilian commander of the armed forces. For the rest of us, he’s an elected leader, but not a commander.)
Exactly. Franklin-rolling is tantamount to toe-tapping.