Thursday, May 27, 2010

Worst Committee in the Congress? House Natural Resources Committee

I've watched a lot of C-SPAN in the past two years, which means a LOT of Congressional hearings, and the quality of our representatives leaves a lot to be desired.

But never have I seen such uniform incompetence as was on display May 26, 2010 when Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall testified to the House Natural Resources Committee about the audit of MMS (Minerals Management Service).

Unlike Neil Barofsky, the Inspector General for TARP, who relishes finding problems, Ms. Kendall seemed determined to minimize their findings. As did all the members of the committee, Republican and Democrat, asking if the problems were really much worse than in other agencies, if the issues of fraternization were not common in other agencies, if proposed changes to ethics rules would be unfair in being limited to MMS, etc., etc.

Worse, when the committee members weren't subtly defending MMS, their questions were uniformly unthoughtful and poorly phrased (to be kind). Half the time, quite frankly, I couldn't figure out what they were asking and I suspect that they didn't know either.

Again, poor questions and demagoguery are not uncommon in Congressional hearings. But there are usually at least a few competent committee members. Not here.

I suggest that the House dissolve this particular committee and find some people with an interest in and real knowledge of the issues.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Congressional Hearings on Gulf Oil Spill & Market Crash

Sigh. Believe me, I hold no brief for BP (or any of its associates) or for the automated trading systems which buy/sell in nanoseconds.

But one must give the panelists in both hearings (on the Gulf Oil Spill and the market crash) for their patience when dealing with committee members whose general & specific ignorance was on high display.

This is not to excuse the Republican committee members who used their time to opine (Bachus) on how technology really hasn't changed anything important (hard to believe he was the chair of this committee for years; the man is an idiot), to explain that regulation is never the solution, and to harp on how Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac have destroyed the economy.

Are Democrats simply too dumb to use committee questions in their campaigns? I can't believe the average citizen, even in a red district/state, wants to elect somebody who believes that business as usual is good enough.