Friday, November 03, 2006

The 109th - the Nelson Muntz Congress

I have found that most people that I talk to (in person) about today's political landscape have next to no-zero-nada-bupkiss idea about how Congress works to create and pass legislation. More specifically (R)Wingnuts who, bar none, all repeat the meme of '04 " voting for before voting against", and then, ALL admit they don't know how a bill becomes a law). While I can admit to a nerdly fascination with wonky policy minutia that may have it's own psychological anomolies, I am continually amazed at how little curiousity so many Americans have in their government and how it works, yet how quickly they'll wave a flag and call you a traitor for asking questions of same government. Or how the same citizens that want to run immigrants out or down, take their own citizenship for granted by knowing jack squat about history or civics.
So, I thought Matt Taibbi's recent article in Rolling Stone was a great, albeit scary, read:

"The 109th Congress is so bad that it makes you wonder if democracy is a failed experiment," says Jonathan Turley, a noted constitutional scholar and the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington Law School. "I think that if the Framers went to Capitol Hill today, it would shake their confidence in the system they created. Congress has become an exercise of raw power with no principles -- and in that environment corruption has flourished. The Republicans in Congress decided from the outset that their future would be inextricably tied to George Bush and his policies. It has become this sad session of members sitting down and drinking Kool-Aid delivered by Karl Rove. Congress became a mere extension of the White House."

The end result is a Congress that has hijacked the national treasury, frantically ceded power to the executive, and sold off the federal government in a private auction. It all happened before our very eyes. In case you missed it, here's how they did it -- in five easy steps:
Worst Congress Ever

Also, for a more "short attention span" review, read or watch his interview on Democracy Now! in which Taibbi talks about how the newer Congresspeople know little of working across the aisle because of the climate set into motion since '01, the explosion of ear marks and more. One of the stories about how this Republican-led Congress has pioneered a new way of handling conferences to finalize bills:
"There was a famous example, where the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Bill Thomas, the congressman from California, he didn't tell the ranking minority member, who was Charlie Rangel here from New York, he didn't tell him where the conference was, and Rangel went around the Congress looking for this conference, knocking on doors, and he finally finds it. He knocks on the door, and the Republicans hid behind the door, pretending that they weren't inside, literally, like little kids. They hid in there."
Goodman interviews Taibbi