Money For Nothin'
When this country was first founded, there was a long discussion among the members of the Continental Congress as to what form the government of this nation would take. After hours of arduous wrangling, and after much compromise, the functions of government were divided among an executive, a judicial, and a legislative.
Those of us who still remember our high school civics class don't need to go through the entire course again, but for the purpose of the article I make one statement: The legislative branch is supposed to deliberateupon the passage of law.
So what is one to make of this:
Today is the 74th day of 2004; the House of Representatives has been in session for 21 days this year, and has accomplished almost nothing. So far, House committees have held few substantive meetings or significant oversight hearings.
But the fact that the House (and, not quite as starkly this winter, the Senate) can sit passively by in the midst of war, the prospect of record-setting budget and trade deficits and countless other national dilemmas is a symptom of a momentous change in the status of the legislative branch, whose powers were considered so important that the writers of the Constitution enumerated them in Article I, leaving the presidency and judiciary for Articles II and III.
In fundamental ways that have gone largely unrecognized, Congress has become less vigilant, less proud and protective of its own prerogatives, and less important to the conduct of American government than at any time in decades.
Now suckers - for suckers you all are, allowing the costs of The Best Government Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Buy to come out of YOUR pocket - are you getting good value for your tax dollar? As the First Pharisee is so fond of repeating ad nauseum, IT'S YOUR MONEY!
Since it's your money, shouldn't you demand a refund for poor service?
"Congress has abdicated much of its responsibility," Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel said in a recent conversation. "It could become an adjunct to the executive branch." Hagel is no disaffected Democrat frustrated by the imperious GOP leadership. He is a conservative Republican admired by colleagues in both parties for his thoughtfulness and independence.
OK, Nebraskans. He's your Senator. I have Dianne Feinstein "representing" me along with Barbara Boxer, who at least tries to represent us out here in California, so I don't know if this is a true statement or not. So is Hagel admired by both parties? Is he thoughtful and independent? Or is he a part of the problem that demands solution?
"Congress is the only thing that stands in the way between essentially a modern-day democratic dictator and a president who is accountable to the people," he says.
This sounds good - thoughtful, independent even. But what is he doing to see to it that George Warmonger Bush doesn't realize his ambition to make his job easier by becoming dictator? Is he acting like a leader to rouse the Congress to resume its Constitutional obligation? Or has he abrogated his prerogatives as too many others have, preferring to act as the rubber stamp, approving all of George Warmonger Bush's acts blanket fashion?
A dead givaway might be if someone were to give Bush this book, If I Were Dictator, by Lord Raglan, 1934, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, but since 9/11, Bush has had a hard time putting down The Very Hungry Caterpillar, he really doesn't have time to read a boring old historical book written by someone who was serious about becoming a dictator.
Lord Raglan writes, on Page 43: [scroll down]
If I were dictator my efforts would be directed towards improving the quality of of the population, while leaving the quantity to take care of itself. There is no doubt, however, that measures taken to improve the quality would, at any rate at first, cause a large reduction in quantity. At this moment we could, in my view, face with equanimity a reduction of ten millions [out of a total of about 40 million in 1934 - Thomas], that is, if the reduction took place among those whose value to the country is the lowest.
Based on George Warmonger Bush's actions, those with the lowest value to the nation would be, oh, ahhhh, would seem to be, hmm, er, about 99% of us.
Lord Raglan continues:
No alien should be allowed to live in this country who is not definitely an asset...
There you have it! That's why Mexicans are allowed to freely cross our border while Haitians are pushed back into the ocean.
Two boats filled with around 330 Haitians, who tried to sail to the Florida coast, arrived at Port-au-Prince port on Saturday after being sent back by the U.S. Coast Guard.
This is why Cubans have free passage to South Florida where they can become Republican voters while many Muslims are deported, and there have to be as many Cuban terrorists among those immigrants as there are among the Muslim ones, but the Cubans are preferred because their politics and ambitions more closely resemble those of the BushCo cartel.
So what are our "elected representatives" doing?
Congress today rarely initiates its own policies. Few members speak up for the institutional interests of Congress. "The idea that they have an independent institutional responsibility, that the institution itself is bigger than the individuals or the parties, doesn't occur to the bulk of [members] for a nanosecond," said an exasperated Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a longtime student of Congress.
Partly this is the consequence of one-party government. Now that Republicans control the White House, the House and Senate for the first time in half a century -- for the first time since the modern, conservative Republican Party assumed its modern personality in the 1980s -- congressional Republicans behave like players on a football team, said Mickey Edwards, a member of the House Republican leadership until he lost his Oklahoma seat in a 1992 primary. Edwards now teaches at Princeton. "George W. is the quarterback, and you go with your team," he said. Because the Republicans enjoy such small majorities, team discipline is all the fiercer.
Said John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.): "We tend to work very closely with this president because a) we agree with him and b) we find having political disagreements is a waste of time."
A waste of whose time, MISTER Feehery? I doubt that those adversely affected by the Medicare drug "improvement" would agree that it would have been a waste of time for the Congress to actually do its job and deliberate before passing legislation that only benefits the top 1%.
In an unusually blunt speech last December, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made it clear that, for him, winning is the most important thing. "So, on occasion, you will see us take effective action to get the job done," he said, responding to criticism that he abused his authority in November when he held open the Medicare roll call vote for an unprecedented three hours to allow arm twisting needed to pass the bill. "Sometimes, we have a hard time convincing the majority of the House to vote like a majority of the House, so sometimes you will see votes stay open longer than usual," he said. "But the hallmark of an effective leadership is one that can deliver the votes. And we have been an effective leadership."
Has it occured to ANYONE in Congress that they are a bunch of slackers????
It occurs to Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. He said that the House has given up the meaningful exercise of its powers by largely forfeiting its oversight role and abandoning all discipline on the federal budget. "Which means that this administration is essentially walking around with a free hand . . . . If the Congress is turned into a jellyfish, there are no checks and there are no balances."
Jellyfish isn't a bad image for the backbone Congress has shown in recent times.
NEWS FLASH - Jellyfish file class-action suit over slanderous comparison with Congress
I would too, if I were the jellyfish of the world! Jellyfish 1) are naturally constituted to be spineless, and 2) still showing more spine than Congress is does!
Welcoming congressional docility, the Bush administration has made a conscious political decision to reassert executive-branch prerogatives. Vice President Cheney has spoken candidly about this: "I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job," he said in January 2002 . He and Bush have "talked about" their belief that they should "pass on our offices in better shape than we found them to our successors," he said. As if to prove this point, the administration has repeatedly bullied the Congress, usually successfully, to accept executive authority and decisions without challenge.
Just maybe George Warmonger Bush HAS realized his ambition to be a dictator!
Republicans who applaud the results produced by this new kind of Congress reject criticisms that the institution has turned into a rubber-stamp parliament, or has abandoned its constitutional responsibilities. Nick Calio, Bush's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill until last year, said: "How you see it depends on where you sit. You'd have a lot of difficulty persuading any White House lobbyist that the pendulum has gone too far" toward the executive branch. Calio also acknowledged that this administration has tried hard to reassert executive authority. He called the current one-party government an example of "efficient governance," not a radical change of the constitutional order.
"Eficient government" is always a handy excuse for a dictator to excuse himself for ridding his regime of those pesky and cumbersome rules for deliberation. Why, what would happen to law and order if it was allowed to continue unabated?
"When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship." -- Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 33rd US President, Democrat
"The infidel Michael Moore," continued the heavily bejeweled president, after the gore-streaked machine had finished its work, "is to be soaked in kerosene and burned alive in the street, and the smoldering ashes mocked and spat upon by children and old women. Let it be so. Let it be so. The hopeless monkey Tim Robbins, who merely will be decapitated on the steps of the Bush [formerly Lincoln] Memorial, may count himself among the fortunate. God is great."
THAT should teach all thought criminals an important double-plus-good lesson! Law and Order upheld once again! We return you now to our regularly scheduled interrupted broadcast, the Capture of the Criminal Montag.