ATG: Ethics Schmethics

2003/11/24 #839838: US Capitol dome, photo
People seem pretty resigned to the fact that not much will be done in the way of ensuring meaningful ethics reform on the Hill. I guess we've really run into hard times when people start suggesting that the Pope be a watchdog there.

Was it Thomas Jefferson who said people get the government they deserve?

And a high school teacher is suspended because he found "eerily similarities" between President Bush's State of the Union speech and things Hitler would say. They don't want a teacher thinking out loud in class. Young people are too impressionable. No one, that I've ever read, ever found similarities between what President George Bush has said and what the "most influential person in his life" (Jesus Christ) has said. Or was Jesus speaking metaphorically about love your enemies? Was political correctness in vogue then?

Perhaps the hardest notion to accept is that most people won't give a damn whether congress gets ethics. Some will probably protest, arguing that ethics means ethnics and yeah we should include everybody. Well, except those who think differently, of course, like the religious types. If everyone were non-conformists, would they be conformists? You simply can't legislate morality. And, of course, as congress proved against President Clinton, they know immorality when they see it (in someone else).

And if congress simply reflects the people they represent (they do get re-elected)...who's the fool?

My we live in interesting times.

Dave Murray

I read your column. No surprises, except for the technical knowledge about the committees etc., etc.

Guys like us have known now for years these crooks just don't care.

And now, after years of being ignored and lied to and cheated out of just about every damn dime we make I think the regular people don't care anymore either.

My wife wanted me to go vote in the primary we had in Texas the other day. I didn't want to until she told me there was a question on the ballot to raise the minimum wage (Why people are not screaming for $10 bucks an hour is beyond me). I went. 9 am at the I walked in. Three Republican desks are set up with three kind ladies. The Democrat table is way on the other side with one little 'ol lady who was just about as sweet as honey. I was the first person. The first person two hours after the polls opened!

At the end of the day, statewide the average turnout was 15 percent. In some areas it was as low as 5 percent.

Now, nobody cares and that is really pathetic.

Kevin Quish

Enjoyed your commentary, "Fools On The Hill". Actually, when I read your stuff I feel so bad that our country has become so amoral?/cowardly?/deplorable?/despicable?/lost?/corrupt? (all of the above?). It also makes me feel rather bad that I know so little and seem able to perceive even less. I know I am disgusted but I don't even know why or the extent of it until I read stuff from you and others like you who spell it all out for me.

I know I must be a dolt because I so believe in fair-play and honor and integrity etc, though that seems NOT to be the coin of the American realm anymore with this Bush administration. They seem so completely at odds with the America I believe in. Their cynical, self-righteous, isolated, totalitarian, pig-headed and SECRETIVE actions never seem to abate and only seem to get worse.

I don't even know why I am writing to you. I suppose I feel so forlorn and disgusted and even lost that I am drawn to almost any light in this new barren American wilderness devoid of idealism. Please keep up the good work. In fact, even if you are doing lousy work please keep it up. I feel like I just need HELP!!!

Ron Cote

Asking the proverbial fox to restrain itself while having unlimited access to the henhouse won't get us anywhere. There is no way in hell for Congress, the Presidency or the Supreme Court to hold their own feet to the fire — in the form of authentic ethics reform. Think of a spoiled rich kid, never told "no," who goes out into the world. They can't act responsibly because they've never been exposed to it. Senators and Congressmen and women are virtually inside the U.S. Mint: they can literally create their own wealth without really trying. The only way to put a handle on corruption is with outside, incorruptible oversight backed with meaningful powers. Perhaps we can hire the Dalai Llama, the Pope and a couple other religious leaders to do this. I suspect it is not within the realm of possibilities to effect a system that keeps politicians honest: it would be unnatural.

Michael T. Heath

If you still want to send in an e-mail, you'll have to read a real column to find the address.