The Duncan Banner

May 19, 2013

Is it ‘coincidence’ the OCE has no teeth?

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Since I spend most of my working hours in offices in Duncan and Waurika, it’s nice both communities now have recycling programs so I can deposit the sticky notes that serve as my memory. Slip off your partisan political Polaroids for a minute and let’s take a wider view of what goes on under the rotunda in Washington, D.C.

In November, an investigative piece by The Washington Post revealed that over the course of three years, 130 members of Congress and their families traded stock in companies registered to lobby before congressional committees. Over 5,000 of those trades happened when Congress was considering bills that would impact those companies.

In all, The Post found 73 members of Congress “sponsored or co-sponsored legislation in recent years that could benefit businesses or industries in which either they or their family members were involved or invested.”

The report seems to have not raised an eyebrow among our elected officials. Since Tom DeLay was taken to the woodshed in 2004, only two House members have been disciplined for playing ethically fast and loose, and the Senate Ethics Committee has issued just four “letters of admonishment” to members accused of questionable ethics.

Politicians from both parties say representing their constituents is their job. If their personal financial interests happen to overlap with their constituents’ interests ... well that’s what, just a coincidence?

Four years ago, Congress created the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was to independently monitor members’ behavior and recommend action for those who cross the ethical line. No one’s been before that board, yet, because House leaders of both parties haven’t even named members to the OCE board.

Tell me, are you really surprised?

 If this were a perfect world, your shin bone would have more meat on it.

 Of course, if it was a perfect world, I wouldn’t be interested.

 At one convenience store it’s called “crushed ice.” At another convenience store it’s called “pellet ice.” At a third convenience store it’s called “chunk ice,” And at a fourth convenience store it’s called “shaved ice.” Can’t we find some unanimity on this pressing issue?

 Duke Ellington once explained his “sound” this way: “I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”

 Is it a good thing 13-year-olds can now acquire a Facebook account?

 Are you buying the industry rhetoric that gasoline prices have spiked because of refinery outages? Locally, the price for a gallon of petrol has risen 70 cents in less than a month, but Chuck Mai of AAA Oklahoma says he knows of no problems at Oklahoma refineries. There’s talk Oklahoma gas has been moved from local refineries to help with shortages in areas around the Great Lakes. Could be ... but all I know is: In five decades of driving, this is the first time I can remember diesel fuel being cheaper than regular unleaded.

 OK, the next time you want a day off, try this one: “Hey, boss, I can’t come to work because I’m stuck in the blood pressure machine down at the Walmart.”

 Although some of us struggle with belief, how else does someone have a voice like Smokey Robinson’s unless there’s a creator?

 “You’re a beard with an idiot hanging off of it.” A zinger from the now-defunct British television comedy Black Books.

 Sauerkraut didn’t start off as a German delicacy, it was created in China about 1,000 years before becoming popular among Germans.

 Plastic surgeons can now take fat from the buttocks and add it to the breasts? I’ve got a line — or five — I could use in response, but I’ve really been trying to get a grip on my “typical male” side.

 The most true thing my parents told me was: “You won’t believe how fast it (life) goes.” I guess that’s why the older I get the more life seems like an eternal loop of Mondays. I get up Monday morning, blink my eyes,  and the next thing I know it’s Monday morning again!

 If you believed all the stuff you can read about political candidates on the Internet, we’d never elect anybody.

 “Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” Mark Twain said it.

580-255-5354, Ext. 172. Kaley is managing editor of Waurika News-Democrat