Tag Archives: George Carlin

Who needs congressional ethics oversight?

The late comic genius George Carlin used to poke fun at the English language and a favorite target of his was the use of what he considered to be oxymorons … you know, phrases that contain words that are mutually exclusive.

Jumbo shrimp? Military intelligence?

Let’s try “government ethics” on for size.

The House Ethics Committee is now going to take over the policing of alleged ethical breaches by members of Congress. It’s a goofy idea proposed by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a leader in the Republican caucus. Given that the GOP controls the House of Representatives, it’s going to become a new rule for the 115th Congress, which convenes today.

This marks a departure from previous practices, which allowed an independent bipartisan oversight arm to examine complaints — not that it was as aggressive as it should have been always.

Now we’re going to have the proverbial fox guarding the proverbial chicken coop.


Wherever he is, George Carlin is laughing out loud.

Revolving door keeps spinning in Austin

The late comic genius George Carlin used to poke fun at words — for example, taking note of particularly amusing oxymorons.

“Military intelligence,” “jumbo shrimp” … that kind of thing.

“Government ethics”?

I know, it’s a tired cliché at times to make light of what some in government think of as ethical conduct. But here’s yet another example of why ethical reform needs government’s attention — but it’s not likely to get off the ground.

Former state Rep. John Davis, a Houston Republican, has just registered as a lobbyist immediately after ending his tenure in the Texas House of Representatives.


Why is that so bad? Simple. He’s now able to parlay his myriad connections within state government to fatten his own wallet and help the clients on whose behalf he is lobbying.

Davis is going to lobby for a Tomball-based residential contracting firm that works closely with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Is that fair, say, for other contractors who might want to get in on the action provided by a state agency? Does former Rep. Davis have some inside knowledge that others might not be able to obtain as readily?

You figure it out.

Davis is doing not a single illegal thing here. He’s just taking advantage of a gigantic loophole in the state’s ethics-in-government code.

It stinks.

It’s also a tradition in Texas politics and government for lawmakers to move smoothly and seamlessly from legislating to lobbying. Former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Hale Center Democrat, did it when he left the House just a few years ago.

Two state legislators, both Republicans — Rep. Angie Chen Button of Garland and Sen. Van Taylor of Plano — have proposed putting a four-year waiting period on the time former lawmakers can register as lobbyists. Davis, according to the San Antonio Express-News, opposes the legislation. Imagine that.

Do you think they’ll find other opponents among their fellow legislators who might want to jump on that lobbyist gravy train once their days as public servants have ended?

Government ethics? Add it to that dubious list of nonsensical terms.


Who should be filing suit?

Shouldn’t it be taxpayers suing Congress for LACK of action, instead of Congress suing the President for doing too much?

So said David Axelrod in a tweet just a few moments ago.

Axelrod is to President Barack Obama what Karl Rove is to President George W. Bush. I guess we should call Axelrod “Obama’s Brain,” correct?

But the former White House senior policy/political adviser does make a good point about House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to sue President Obama over the president’s supposedly “excessive” use of executive authority.

Axelrod wonders why Americans aren’t suing the do-nothing Congress for sitting on its hands while President Obama is trying to push programs forward.

I get that some Americans are glad to have Congress doing nothing. They welcome the stalling, fighting, arguing, threatening and obstruction that’s been occurring in Congress.

I’m more of a good-government kind of guy, even though some folks might consider the term “good-government” be an oxymoron — kind of like “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp,” to borrow two of the late George Carlin’s examples.

For the speaker, though, to suggest that Obama is overreaching with his executive authority when the president has used that authority less than any of his predecessors over the past century, does seem to be a bit of an overreach in itself.