Saturday, February 06, 2010

Something In The Water

I've been following the National Teabaggers' United Party in Nashville only half-heartedly. After all, only about six hundred people are in attendance, although those six hundred paid a lot of money for the privilege of listening to people like Sarah Palin (who apparently received $100,000 for the privilege to talking to the brave six hundred). Are the teabaggers getting scammed? Probably. Do they mind? Probably not. They're angry and need to vent with like-minded angry people. It's understandable.

Most of us are angry and with good reason. Many of us worked hard and gave money to elect candidates who made all sorts of promises about changing the way government does business only to watch the economy swirl down the commode. Then we got to watch the government reward those who caused the economic failure to the tune of billions of dollars of our tax money. The elected officials who comprise our government showed us quite clearly how they, well, do business.

Blame Bush, blame Obama, blame Congress. They all had a hand in it. What's so interesting at this point is that the American electorate as a whole is fed up with the politicians we have. The conservatives are angry at the Republicans. The liberals are angry at the Democrats. Those who classify themselves as "independents" are angry at both parties.

Tim Rutten's latest column in the Los Angeles Times details just how angry we are by citing multiple recent polls. Mr. Rutten chose a pretty good example of why we're all so disenchanted with the sausage makers:

In the face of these daunting issues, what was it that preoccupied the Senate on the eve of its long weekend recess? The legislative drama du jour is the standoff between the White House and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), who has put a personal hold on more than 70 executive branch appointments until the Obama administration agrees to fund a couple of pork-barrel projects he has earmarked for his state. One involves tens of millions of dollars for an FBI laboratory focusing on improvised explosives -- something the bureau doesn't think it needs. The other involves contract specifications for an aerial tanker that Northrop Grumman and Airbus would manufacture in Alabama, if they win the deal. (Boeing also is competing for the plane, which it would build in Topeka, Kan., and Seattle.)

Unless the administration agrees to give Shelby what he wants, he intends to invoke an archaic senatorial privilege that allows him to prevent the chamber from considering any of the administration's nominees to executive branch vacancies, no matter how crucial. Without the 60 votes to force cloture -- another archaic convention -- there's nothing the Democrats or the White House can do.

Outside the Senate, Shelby's conduct would be called extortion; inside the chamber, it's a "parliamentary tactic."

It's also the sort of shabby situation that brings into sharp focus both the sources of congressional dysfunction and the popular discontent on both the left and right with the congressional parties. Earmarks and pork are anathema to a majority of conservatives and independents; the Senate's outdated, made-for-obstruction rules and susceptibility to special interests are a source of increasing frustration to liberals and some independents. Yet, here we have one senator from one Southern state obstructing with impunity an entire nation's business -- purely for his narrow constituency's financial interests.
{Emphasis added]

Shabby? I think that a polite understatement, but Mr. Rutten has nailed it. Sen. Shelby is just the current poster boy for the dysfunctional government in action. There are Democrats from all parts of the country engaged in the same tactics, as the give-aways in the health care reform process highlighted. It's the way they all "do" business, and that's why so many of us are so angry.

A pox on all their houses.



Anonymous Jamie said...

Sen. Shelby is just the current poster boy for the dysfunctional government in inaction.

9:54 AM  

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