Where’s my pitchfork and torch?

And some tar and an old feather pillow?

Pitchforks and TorchesI’m putting together a Constitutional Amendment.  I used to think term limits was a good idea, but I’ve given up on that one because an out-of-work Congressman just moves to a lobbyist and has an even more pernicious impact on our world.

I want to elect Congressmen and US Senators to one term, pay ‘em $2,000,000 per year tax free.  At the end of their term throw them off the tippy-top of the Capitol Dome onto the Capitol steps and leave their rotting bodies there until the next Congress is sworn in.

It’s likely what I’m writing about today very few of you have ever heard of, but it’s a symptom of just how evil Washington DC is, and I use the word “evil” with full knowledge of the meaning of the word.

Members of Congress, high ranking staff and certain members of the administration are required by law to file financial disclosures.  The point, at least one of them, is to inhibit conflict of interest by members who vote for legislation that might enrich their personal portfolio.  There are, in my opinion, a number of problems with the current system.  The filings are so broad that it’s virtually impossible to read one and draw a conclusion and the filings happen infrequently and then take months to be published.

Another little problem with the current system is that it exempts members of Congress and their staff that actions that would land you or me in federal prison, specifically insider trading.  If I have knowledge about a publicly traded firm that is not publicly available and I make stock trades to benefit from that knowledge the SEC will haul me away.  If my US Senator John McCain has similar knowledge – such as who might receive a large government contacts – and he trades on that knowledge, he gets a pass.

Last year Congress passed the “STOCK Act” which was designed to make the financial transactions of the members and administration officials more transparent.

The bill enacted last year would require already public financial disclosures of senior congressional and executive branch officials to be put online in order to prevent or root out insider trading.

Well, it turns out that the Congress is no more transparent than the Obama administration.  On Thursday, the Senate – by a voice vote – to gut the law by excluding legislative staffers from the requirements, by making posting the information into an online searchable database optional and by eliminating the requirement that the database be searchable.

In other words go…, well, my comment will be edited so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

There’s a reason, gentle reader, why buffoons who can’t get a real job in private industry go to Washington mostly broke and in a few – very few – years they’re worth millions.  Pretty much the only members who start out with money married it.  See John Kerry and John McCain for two, and I wouldn’t let either of them clean my toilet for free.

The STOCK Act is now effectively dead.  The Senate had a reason for killing it, you can be sure.  The National Academy of Public Administration issued a report at the request of Congress, who, by the way, provides 100% of their funding, which determined that there were serious national security risks with publication of the information as required by the STOCK Act.

As you think about that one, remember that the information is available, just in a different format.  Posting online and in a searchable database would simply make it available to guys like me a little sooner and in a format that is more user friendly.

Now I’ll freely admit that I haven’t read the report that Congress paid the NAPA to put out.  I have better things to do with my time, the bride is taking me to see Jurassic Park 3D today for one.

It’s worth reading the entire article about this mess in Roll Call.  It won’t take you long and I’m pretty sure that tar and feather pillows will be a line item in your household budget when you’re done with it.  It’s a story of “business-as-usual” in the Congress.  This is a backroom deal that I’m pretty sure they all want but nobody knows a darn thing about how it could have happened.

[L]eadership aides for the majorities in both chambers provided few details before and after the bill (S 716) passed after many senators had already departed the Capitol on Thursday afternoon. …

Neither the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee nor its House counterpart seemed to have specifics on what was in the works…

When asked whether he was involved at all in discussions on whether to block or move forward with implementation of the online database by the April 15 deadline, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., simply said, “No.” Similarly, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate panel, said he was not really involved in any discussions about the law.

The House Administration Committee was also not in the discussions about what might happen before Monday…

Needless to say, all members have their asses covered…

…much of the law won plaudits from lawmakers in both parties and from outside groups favoring government transparency for blocking insider trading by members of Congress…

Now then, take one more deep breath and remember that the reason this bill –  requiring transparency on the part of  members of Congress, their staff and high level members of the administration – was modified beyond recognition was national security concerns.

Where’s my tar bucket and a match.

Tar Feathers Politician

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