The House ethics committee revealed Wednesday it is investigating allegations involving three lawmakers in unrelated incidents.
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly known as the ethics panel, issued separate statements Wednesday identifying inquiries into Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.).
A statement issued by the ethics committee said each of the investigations is ongoing, but the panel will defer its efforts in Jackson’s case in light of an ongoing Justice Department inquiry.
Granted, ethics investigations can waste time and mistakenly soil reputations. That sucks for people who have to deal with stupid or malicious inquiries. As bad as that may be, and the Bush DOJ showed that it can get pretty bad, in my opinion the other extreme is far worse. IMO no Republican era initiative did more harm than the jihad against oversight. Without that none of the rest would have been imaginable.
The Federalist Papers show that America’s founders were not fools. The writers of the Constitution took for granted that good people face terrible temptations that can lead them to places just as harmful as original sins like malice or greed. Every tic of the pendulum back towards unbiased and legally binding oversight, whether it starts with Democrats or Republicans, strikes me as a positive sign.
Absolutely. If they’re guilty, take them out. I’ve never trusted Maxine Waters, personally, even though she mostly votes the way I would like.
In light of the frequent hits that Libertarians take on this site, can we at least all agree that giving government more power leads precisely to the temptations in public officials that Tim F. describes? Whether or not you like the tone of some of the stuff at Reason Magazine (and I agree that Gillespie is too “smart-ass” and Mangu-Ward doesn’t have much to say of substance), this idea that is at the heart of Libertarian philosophy — that limited government removes incentives for corruption, favoritism and the like — makes a lot of sense.
Agreed, it’s important that the Justice Department take a long hard look into credible allegations against lawmakers, of either party.
That said, I’d be happier if there were more of a look being taken into illegal actions by the Justice Department – the Siegelman case being an obvious example, and the whole U.S. Attorneys/Gonzales/whoever that Regent grad was illegal polticization business, and Schlozman and the rest of that crooked crew that perverted the Civil Rights Division and lied to Congress repeatedly. I’m a strong believer in a strong Justice Department – but that only works if the Justice Department is kept clean, which will only happen if those who muck it up pay a price.
Yes, the whole idea of an “ethics truce” in the House was horribly corrupt.
@Jonny Scrum-half: Meh. That’s sorta like arguing a large machete could take care of that hangnail just fine and dandy.
It’s not a particularly nuanced argument, bare of details and facts and extremely oversimplified.
@Jonny Scrum-half: Careful; if you keep making logical leaps that big you’ll pull a muscle in your head.
And that temptation differs from when we give the private sector the power instead?
No, the temptation exist, period, and there’s no capacity to eliminate the power, so the only realistic recourse is oversight. Which institution is better equipped for oversight – government or the private sector? For every William Jefferson with $100K in cash in the freezer, we have an Enron or Bernie Madoff or AIG or Goldman leeching *billions* out of the public.
Absolutely agree with the crux of this post. Unfortunately, this phrase:
Sounds an awful lot like . . . well . . . you know. Bait, if I ever saw it.
[N.B.: The Federalist Papers are an excellent and deservedly revered source of American political philosophy and constitutional interpretation. However, they are not binding law (as some might think), nor do they reasonably imply the kind of bizarre pseudo-aristocratic libertarian utopianism some people infer from them. This is not to be read as a crack against the Federalist Papers per se, nor a swipe at how Tim F. was (appropriately) referring to them.]
Exactamundo. Crooked is crooked is crooked. Furthermore, the cleaner the Dem side is, the sillier the GOP side looks when they go into their sputter-and-flail routine.
limited government removes incentives for corruption, favoritism and the like
Unfortunately this opens up a power vacuum and increases incentives for corruption and abuse by corporations and otehr private entities with less government oversight to restrain them.
Hong Kong has probably the most limited government on the planet, yet corruption is a major problem there.
I couldn’t agree more.
And even from a calculating political standpoint, I think this is good politics. It shows people that you actually care about things like “law” and “ethics” and it helps prevent nasty surprises of corruption that undermine genuine policy initiatives. Corrupt representatives are distracting, get them out.
How is this perceived to be a dissent from good governance advocates?
Any system of regulating the use of power depends on a mix of formal rules and practiced adherence to those rules. We’ve just gone through 8 years of rule by a party whose formal ideology of defying any rules of accountability already in place was justified because, hey, we’re right damnit, and fuck you.
Many of us are in favor of increasing the level of democratic accountability of government not simply by continually talking about shrinking ‘government’ versus other social forces and power concentrations, but increasing the degree of accountable democratic control of their government by the citizenry.
Jonny, the inherent weakness of libertarianism (private is just as corruptable as public) is not why we make fun of Reason. We mock Reason because they are glibertarians. Ron Paul would [[[facepalm]]] if he read half of the inane crap that they write these days.
Not really. I think we can agree that more oversight and transparency will discourage public officials from giving in to these temptations. But that doesn’t play as well into the Libertarian framing of things, so bugger that, eh?
Hong Kong has such limited government that it is effectively run by a handfull of families and the jockey club, who have monopolies on land development and gambling respectively.
It’s shit if your poor in Hong Kong.
If glenn beck wants to see an oligarhy in action go to hong kong and smell victoria harbour.
I don’t know whether to agree with that or not. On the one hand, Republicans – even when caught completely red handed – just lied to the public’s face and keep right on doing what they were doing. On the other hand, if we’d had less investigative journalism and more feel-good Patriotism, we might not have seen the elections of ’06 and ’08 swing our way. And had we had more investigative journalism and civic attentiveness, perhaps we could have avoid ’02 and ’04 – or even ’00.
:-p The black box economy we’ve been living in has been a nightmare, but I’m not convinced that pulling back the curtain would have seriously stemmed the tide of crap. Oversight doesn’t do much good when the general public just shoves it’s fingers in its ears while screaming, “Sean Hannity Said LALALA!”
Sarah Palin thanks you for the shout-out.
Regarding government/corporate corruption: It’s true that individuals in corporations have the same incentive to be corrupt as they do in government. But there’s a difference — corporations can’t coerce people into buying their products, or becoming employed by them. Government, on the other hand, has the force of law to get what it wants. I think that there’s a real difference between “big government” and “big corporations,” and I don’t agree that a corporation is automatically more evil/corrupt than the government
Second, even accepting the premise that corporations will screw over the powerless, more government doesn’t solve anything. Rather, as we’ve seen these past 20 years, the powerful (usually large corporations) will use their leverage with the government to get what they want — they write the laws, or get them interpreted favorably, and ultimately it’s the powerful who “win.” Then we’re stuck with a corporate-government tag team that doesn’t represent the individual’s interests at all.
Therefore, why isn’t it true that the best-case (not perfect) scenario is for a limited government that provides a general legal framework but declines to involve itself in most individual decisions?
The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
All this “investigate both sides equally” stuff sounds good, but it’s always subject to the same double standard. A Democratic legislator whose vote is bought and paid for by the corporate interests who contribute to his campaign coffers is guilty of corruption. A Republican legislator who does the same is merely an “honest politician” who stays bought. This is the reality, despite all the noble-sounding rhetoric.
The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
Because a “limited” government who set this “legal framework” would be completely powerless to do anything about enforcing it. The Corporatist vampires would laugh in their face. Kind of like now, only worse.
I have a question – my understanding is that the Federalist Papers were written to encourage a strong central government against people known as anti-Federalists. How then did federalism become equated with nut ball anarchist liberatarians who hate the federal government?
The heart of libertarian “philosophy” is “I got mine fuck you”. Everything else around it are excuses that can be dreamt up by 13-year olds.
Government also has the distinct weakness of being subject to elections, such that if the people don’t like the politicians using the force of law to do things they don’t like, they can throw the bums out.
Really, I think you’re trying too hard to shoehorn this story into a justification for Libertarianism.
Calouste — I’m no expert on what is and isn’t “libertarian.” But I look at it as similar or related to what I understand as capitalism — every person acts with his or her own self-interest in mind, and the innumerable actions and reactions of the marketplace generate the best-case (not perfect) result. That isn’t to say that irrationality doesn’t screw things up sometimes, or to deny that there needs to be a legal and perhaps even regulatory framework to make things work. But a comparison of societies where people are freer to make their own choices (economically as well as otherwise) with more regulated or repressive societies would show, I think, that the freer societies are almost always better off.
What’s wrong with that “philosophy”?
Sentient Puddle — Maybe I am; I just don’t get the anger directed toward “glibertarians” and Reason Magazine on this site. So what if they’re complaining about Obama? They don’t like government, and Obama and the Democrats are in charge right now. What does anyone expect?
I read Reason for the past several years, and they complained quite a bit about Bush and the Republicans back when they were in charge.
Anyway, I’ll prepare for the suggestions that if I like limited government so much I should move to Somalia.
The reason we hate these “glibertarians” (or at least me, someone else can add to this if they want) is that they do nothing but espouse all kinds of theoretical diarrhea on the way things should be that (a) would be a cataclysmic upheaval of society as we know it, (b) has no practical grounding to speak of, and (c) has a pretty dubious theoretical grounding that they never really bother to address (say, instead saying the market will deal with it). And when they encounter any opposition whatsoever to their ideas, they bitch and whine that people can’t follow their seriously rational arguments that are totally airtight.
I mean sure, they do have some ideas I could get behind. But as far as public discourse goes, they’re a step above useless.
Actually they WERE fools. They thought political parties didn’t need to be taken into account, or wrote the thing like that.
What a horrible system we have.
Not every problem is solved optimally by focusing only on the leaf nodes. By ruling out useful abstractions and emergent effects by definition, that “philosophy” settles for a very weak subset of policy options, and for ones that tend to be deleterious.
I, and everyone else in California, had to use the electricity being brokered by Enron. We don’t have any choice who supplies our water or collects our trash. We don’t have much choice in who supplies our health insurance; employers only offer a limited number of vendors. Whether we buy their products or not, corporations that fly planes overhead, drive trucks along side us, belch smoke into the air or effluent into the streams affect our lives. We need responsive government at all levels to keep the greed for short-term profit in check.
Origuy — I agree with part of what you say; it is important to have responsive government for things like pollution, etc. But I’m not sure that your examples support your position, since utilities and insurance are already heavily regulated by government.
Charlie Rangel welcomes the company.
“The writers of the Constitution took for granted that EVEN good people face terrible temptations…”
Pardon the nit, but I think that’s a better sentence. If you leave out “even” then it assumes those are all good people. As we are more than well-aware, they are not.
Oh good god, do you even read what you write? In your “limited government” utopia the government would not have the power to regulate pollution. That would be “government interference in the marketplace!!! ZOMG!!1111!!!!!
Everyone, and I mean, everyone in the US agrees on a limited government, even socialists (and I am one).
It’s where we draw the boundaries that is different.
So when glibertarians, such as yourself, argue for “limited government” it’s essentially an empty, meaningless statement because it doesn’t say, how limited and in what ways it is limited.