Taming The Wild Snollygosters GRAYBEARD PAINE
Posted 02.28.06

I may not be the smartest goat in the barn but it seems to me that politicians are a lot like teenagers. If not properly supervised, they start running with the wrong crowd, they get into trouble.

We need to apply some tough love if we want them to display even a modicum of honesty, common sense, or responsibility.

"Just say no" isn't working because it's too darned easy to tempt a politician with money, power or sex.

Lobbyists are clearly a bad influence, so we can begin by monitoring meetings between them. I suggest lobbyists and politicians be required to wear leg bands like dope dealers on parole. Alarms would ring when they meet up, lights would blink, people would know something was up.

Bundles of cash are unlikely to change hands when the public is watching, which brings up the problem of secret meetings.

Lobbyists tend to congregate at expensive restaurants that provide sit-down service, thick steaks, and fine wines -- especially fine wines. The temptation is overwhelming for politicians, many of whom come from places where such establishments are rare.

Remember, politicians get to Washington by eating rubber chicken and cold peas, washed down with stale coffee.

Fancy food and wine temptations could be further reduced if restaurants inside the Beltway were required to have adequate lighting, with a press room from which the talking heads could observe. Imagine the deterrence if a politician knew a reporter would say, "Congressman Such and Such dined with lobbyist So and So, accepted a fat envelope of cash, drank three bottles of wine, and went home with the lobbyist's sister, where he spent the night. Tomorrow he is expected to vote big bucks for So and So's clients."

We might restrict the food and drink lobbyists are allowed to buy for Congressmen. It is doubtful that a Big Mac, Burrito Supreme. or even a Budweiser would induce serious bribery or vote-buying, though we might need to limit the number of brews except during national holidays.

No matter, we must insist - no steak, no wine, and none of those sissy French vegetables served in the dark. That takes care of a good bit of the teenage problems in Washington.

Another pressing area of concern is Literature. The snollygosters in Washington just don't know how to write anything readable. That creates work for lawyers but also work for taxpayers.

Consider the Internal Revenue Code; seventy seven feet of books to say what could be said in fifteen words: "We will take your money and give it to someone else, generally to our friends."

See how simple it is. If they can't learn that little lesson, put them on a "word ration." Tie the ration to pay for a real deterrence; use too many words, we cut your pay. Ration the number of amendments they are allowed to introduce during their terms.

Finally, stop the incestuous relationships between the Washington media and our congressmen. Media types need to spend some time in the heartland doing real work. I wanted to see Rush Limbough shoveling snow in Vermont, but he may be too frail. He may do better as a chicken sexer or tortilla maker outside of Bakersfield. The possibilities are endless - and just a little bit exciting.

Paul Graybeard Paine, a retired homebuilder, writes from Claremore, Oklahoma. His website is at http://pdpaine.us.

Copyright © 2006 Paul Paine/Log Cabin Chronicles/02.06