Washington, DC: Where Ideas Go to Die


292603chimpanzee-at-typewriter-postersI was listening to C-SPAN radio on XM, (how sad is that?) last night as Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn) discussed the miserable state of the economy and the importance of getting the recovery right.  His Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was assembled to address oversight of recovery dollars.  In an all-too-familiar, Alf-like timbre, he said nothing new.

On Lieberman’s heels, ranking member Susan Collins (R-Me) launched a a harangue led by the now ubiquitous “Wall street to Main Street” phrase and theme, each thought carefully constructed and sounding deeply familiar, because literally every phrase she uttered repeated rhetoric others have been parroting in recent weeks.

We see dicks like Senate Minority Speaker John Boner (D-OH) dramatically hoisting a hefty pile of paper in the air and letting it fall with a dull thud, complaining about the burden such a bill is when insufficient time is provided-and if that is how they must review these, he’s absolutely right.  If not, he’s just being himself.

I’m starting to get the impression that members of Congress are cheating on their speeches.  They’ve become political plagiarists.   A handful of writers actually pound out content,  posting to a central repository, which our representatives access.

After entering passwords, they go to a page of complete speeches from which they can select by theme, talking point and party line.  Those enterprising enough to prefer `custom statements’ can go to a “create your own” page listing issues, bills, hot buttons, topics and indexed arguments to choose a basic template. Then, by clicking “options,” they can assemble a personalized statement.

I suggest this because rarely does one hear or see anything new in these meetings.  Why would so many write the same speech?  They appear as obligatory assemblies docketed merely to fill the time/space that facilities provide.  Little gets resolved because everything said has been said before, often in a session immediately preceding the one currently being “narrowcasted.”

Now, I know these folks keep tight schedules.  There’s so much to read.  Bills are  lengthy and detailed.  How can one stay abreast of current versions of quickly created, extremely detailed documents written to read as what many of us would deem gobbledygook?  And if one can’t read the volumes that require his or her “two cent’s worth,” how can he or she possibly come up with anything other than a boilerplate filled with tested rhetoric?

But are we to believe that this is the current state of our federal government’s document review process? If it is, we need to direct resources to a system that isolates current changes, in context to previously disputed but settled pertaining sections and allows lawmakers to make changes online–where all is seen by everyone involved in a specific argument.

One way to reduce time needed to review and revise bills would be to ensure one reads only the most current iteration and only parts that have been modified.  If an on-line document review system doesn’t permit this, Congress should start there.

All previously agreed-upon or uncontested aspects of a bill need not be seen, let alone circulated in print. What a waste of time and trees!

Those who let a point go uncontested have no need to see that part of the bill again.  Let differences be hammered out by their owners.  Once decided,  approved sections can be routed for review by the larger group.

If we truly suffer under an antiquated review system, the Boner’s “Bone of contention” should be addressed to expedite passage. If Boner’s simply resorting to cheap theatrics to manipulate an inattentive, gullible public, he should be cold-cocked and I’ll gladly provide a steak for his swollen eye.

If the dearth of original ideas and the chronic repetition of hackneyed rhetoric on The Hill is indeed attributable to time demands woefully incompatible with those needed to conduct required research to make informed decisions or ample preparation needed to clearly convey one’s position once due diligence is done, we must change the system to reflect current capabilities and exploit productivity enhancements computer technology provides.

But if this stultifying reliance on recycled opinions, ideas, rhetoric and arguments grows out of something else,  for instance, laziness, inattention, apathy, complacency, conflicting priorities or a complete absence of the tools requisite to analyze, deduce and convey one’s true beliefs, these congressional parrots serve no one: not their constituents, not their committees, not their fellows and I suggest, not even themselves.

Most of them aren’t stupid.  They must show us.  We deserve and NEED better.

And by the way, DON’T  “dumb things down” for us. We who care understand. And those who couldn’t care less will process whatever Fox News feeds them.

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