Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Massive New Government Program?

U.S. Senator from California Dianne Feinstein has never had the reputation of being the brightest bulb in the rather dim chandelier that is the U.S. Senate, but she manages to display surprising levels of naivete with this explanation as to why Congress does not need oversight from an independent ethics watchdog: "If the law is clear and precise, members will follow it."

Yes, of course. Members of Congress have never been guilty of violating clear and precise laws. One supposes that Senator Feinstein could argue that any previously violated laws have lacked clarity and precision, but then one might want to ask her about her body's inability to pass a law possessing those qualities.

Feinstein then proceeds to contend that an ethics oversight committee would just be too much of an expansion and intrusion of government: "As to whether we need to create a new federal bureaucracy to enforce the rules, I would hope not.” Congress has become famous for its professed ability to regulate everything other than itself, on down to the amount of water that should be required to flush a toilet, but Feinstein seems to think that government will have finally become too large if an entity keeping an eye on congressional ethics is formed. Of course, Feinstein may have a point. The Oracle could be underestimating how massive an oversight entity would have to be in order to monitor congressional ethics violations.

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