Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And Now... What This Means For The Country

I keep promising it, now I'll spill it.

1) The election means I wait around the office wondering whether John Warner, a relatively sane but very conservative senator, will take the minority ranking member position on the Environment and Public Works Committee in the next Congress. (It's a mark of environmentalists' desperation and jungle fever anxiety that they've come down to rooting for him. Because...) If he doesn't, James Inhofe, global warming skeptic extraordinaire, will get that plum assignment, from where he can scuttle, filibuster, delay and undermine any kind of environmental policy Barbara Boxer may want to put forth. A consensus is growing in the gossip community that Warner, who floated the ranking member idea himself, has always had his eye on the Intelligence Committee instead and made a stink to ensure he got his way. This could be the case, for reasons having to do with many senators, several committees and an avalanche of personal interests, but we don't know yet. The bottom line is that with Inhofe, global warming legislation -- which, depending on your point of view, would either be a waste of money or a way to prevent living on Venus -- would face a terrific hurdle. And so we all wait.

2) On a related note, it means we won't have any more Inhofe-sponsored hearings on whether the media has done a good job covering "climate variation." I went to today's media circus as part of my job; it was newsworthy mostly in an Onion sort of way.

3) It means we'll finally know the truth, or at least more of it, about those damn prisons that were built with our tax money and run in the name of our security. Prisons where agents of our elected government continue to torture innocent people, deny "enemy combatants" basic human rights, let alone legal protections, and spread fear and resentment supposedly with our best interests in mind. If these operations have yielded a single really good piece of intelligence, don't you think we would have heard about it by now?

Speaking of which, several years ago my uncle got me a copy of Chris Hedges' War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, which I hadn't ever sat down to until last week. I read it practically straight through. I cannot recommend it highly enough -- it's a quick read and very intellectually and morally stirring. He was the New York Times war correspondent for many years, and his stories go back to covering El Salvador. I didn't know this, but he was at one time a divinity student. His commentaries on war, patriotism, hate, love and death read like the classics. You cannot buy this book soon enough.

4) It means we can expect a five-day work week from Congress, as opposed to the current two days. According to the Washington Post:
Hoyer and other Democratic leaders say they are trying to repair the image of Congress, which was so anemic this year it could not meet a basic duty: to approve spending bills that fund government. By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That's seven days fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.

Hoyer said members can bid farewell to extended holidays, the kind that awarded them six weekdays to relax around Memorial Day, when most Americans get a single day off. He didn't mention the month-long August recess, the two-week April recess or the weeks off in February, March and July.

He said members need to spend more time in the Capitol to pass laws and oversee federal agencies. "We are going to meet sufficient times, so the committees can do their jobs on behalf of the American people," he said.
Next time you want to argue in favor of the GOP Congress From Hell's Intestine, think about that 103 days figure before you say something you can't take back. That's your money they're getting paid with.

5) It means I'll actually have Capitol Hill issues, bills and debates to cover rather than hustling bureaucrats for table leavings and giblets. That will be a nice departure, believe me.

6) Hopefully it means taking North Korean diplomacy seriously, as Bush has. . . uh, not done.
Remember how the whole premise of Bush administration North Korea policy was that we shouldn't be offering 'pay-offs' to the North Koreans in exchange for them giving up their nuclear program?

From today's Times:

"The United States has offered a detailed package of economic and energy assistance in exchange for North Korea’s giving up nuclear weapons and technology, American officials said Tuesday."

So after six long years of incompetence, arrogance, dithering and disaster, in which the president allowed the NKs to waltz into the nuclear club unimpeded, they're now back to the same policy they insisted on ditching in the first place. Only now with a hand infinitely weaker than it was in 2000 since back then the NKs didn't have the bomb.
7) It means this guy no longer has a place at the table and will just run for president on his way into the mists of time.
Hunter had wanted the island closed off for private hunting for several groups over the years. Hopefully with his quixotic run for the presidency in 2008 and the Dem majority, this will be the last we hear of this stupid hunting on Santa Rosa Island B.S.
I almost wrote a story about this once: Hunter, the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wanted at one time to close off Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of his native California, to create a private hunting playground for himself and his friends. (No one liked the idea.) Now that he'll soon be in the minority party, he's throwing his hat into the ring, hoping to corner the reactionary and super-reactionary vote on his way to the White House.

It means plenty more, but you get the idea. Let the good times roll.


Blogger stephanie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:19 PM  
Blogger stephanie said...

Dude, you totally forgot to mention that it was me--current events maven--who brought that 5-day work week story to your attention. That's like, 3rd degree plagiarism, or something.

11:21 PM  
Blogger charvakan said...

"Forgot"...yeah, that's the ticket!

12:15 PM  

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