Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cliff's Notes

Remember those? Before Wiki, before Google, before Ask Jeeves (ha! Remember him?), we had Cliff's Notes. It's how I got through most of my high school Shakespeare and some of that other dreaded "required reading" (Beowulf, Canterbury Tales), so don't laugh. Yes, they were pseudo-cheating, but they nevertheless helped.

We could have used a version of the oul' Cliff's Notes last week, for this mondo-giganto stimulus bill that just got passed in Congress. Why? Because not a single member of either chamber had a chance to read it. Or wanted to, apparently. Indeed, the 1,073-page document (admittedly full of legalese mumbo-jumbo) wasn't posted on the government's Web site until after 10 p.m. the day before the vote to pass it was taken. Shame, shame, shame; Congress has voted to spend almost $790 billion of our money on a stimulus package that no one has bothered to properly commit to the grey matter.

Democrats promised to post the bill a full 48 hours before the vote was taken to allow members of the public, as well as lawmakers, to see what they were getting for their money. Both parties voted unanimously to do this ... and both parties lied.

That Congress lies to the American people is not a surprise---it really ought to legally become part of a politician's job description---but methinks the reason for all this business-as-usual wrangling inside the Beltway is the noxious, internecine warfare between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

These two stalwarts represent exactly that which Obama is desperately trying to fight: status-quo and "good ol' boy" mentality and fraternity, which seem to have thoroughly ensconced themselves into Washington culture, thus rendering all aspects of visionary lawmaking impotent.

It's really a shame President Obama couldn't figure out a way to boot these two brats (along with a few handfuls of their Republican counterparts). The Associated Press called the stimulus bill "sausage making" in the best tradition of Washington politics as usual.

Personally, I'm holding my breath---we need some sort of a chance, but the skeptic/cynic within me is wincing just a wee bit. I cannot help it; I've seen these games for far too long.