Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mark Foley, Congressional Pages and Revisiting a Silly NonIssue

Some months ago I wrote about a silly non-issue - the fact that our Senators and Congressmen sometimes miss recording their votes on issues because they're not physically present on Capitol Hill. I raised the point that, in the year 2006, that's about the silliest thing there is.
Give me a break - if you need to vote but are not there at the moment, just fax it in, e-mail it, Blackberry it, for God's sake, "beam it up" to the Hill. Heck, if I can pay my bills every month via the Internet - and not end up in debtor's prison - surely Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or another of our super rich wizz kids, or their progeny, can figure out a simple, modern way that our august legislators can transmit their Yeas and Nays electronically, from anywhere on earth, without fraud or failure, to the hallowed halls of Congress. Missing votes because of absence is truly a phony issue and avoiding a vote by conveniently being out of town is nothing more than a fake maneuver!
But now, because of the Mark Foley scandal, are you telling me we have Capitol Hill Pages who still act as messengers and couriers doing errands and physically running messages throughout the building? No wonder one of our Representatives, Illinois' Ray LaHood, has raised the idea of suspending the Page Program to re-evaluate whether it is anachronistic and way out of date in 2006 and, if it's still needed, whether it should be modified in some way to be more contemporary.
Makes sense to me. For sending information back and forth, what's the matter with the telephone, the fax machine or e-mail, to say nothing of IM - Instant Messaging? They're all faster and e-mail is a precisely documented and confirmable way for our senators/representatives to communicate with each other. Online conversations are captured exactly as written with an exact time/date stamp.
So, maybe LaHood is right, and if we do automate their communications to the 21st century, then we could finally put a welcome end to the nonsense defense they like to throw up at us when they happen to be (ever so strategically) absent from the floor of the House or Senate at crucial moments for key votes.

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