Monday, September 29, 2008

Law and sausage

Mark Twain once said "Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made." Last night, I hoped to get a chance to see law being made. I was in the area of the Capitol, and the Capitol Police told me that the Congress would be deliberating all night on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a. the $700B bailout). I got a gallery pass, and went up the the third floor. Once you get up there, they make you hand over everything with a battery (including a tiny LED light I have on my keychain). I walked into the gallery, and joined about six other people. The floor was empty, the Congress was on a break, but the session continued in less than 10 minutes. One of the first to enter was Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), who pointed at me and waved. I don't know Congressman Jackson, and have never met him, but maybe he thought I was a constituent. After turning around to see who he waved at, and realizing there was nobody there, I turned around and waved back. He was soon joined by a few other members of Congress, and their various vassals. All told, when the gavel came down, there were about a dozen people on the floor (including security, stenographers, etc.). So much for what I had imagined: shirtsleeves rolled up, a flurry of activity, soaring oratory, and noses to the grindstone to do something about the current financial crisis. The news I've seen led me to believe they were in session until they came up with something. The Capitol Police told me they were probably going to be busy until 2AM. Okay, so I'm an idealist.

A Congresswoman from New York stood up and talked for five minutes about rules. Apparently, she wanted to increase the number of rules that could be discussed from four to five. When she was done, a Congressman from California (I only know this because they each referred to eachother as "my good friend and colleague from ______") stood up and talked about how busy we (the American people) were with football (yes, he mentioned several teams) and everything else, and how we need solar power initiatives, and somehow figured that we would be better off if our esteemed elected representatives would only discuss four rules at a time. He did mention that the bailout was imporatant, but made no other mention. A half-asleep colleague yielded his time, and he continued to drone on. No other Congresscritters entered - if you're an idealist, let's say they were in committee discussing ideas vital to our battered enonomy. If you're a realist, they were gone for the night (this was after 9:00).

I slipped on my boogie shoes after about 40 minutes of less-than-riveting dialogue. Don't get me wrong, it's neat to see the digs the Congress gets to call home, but if you want coherent discussion, catch the clips on CSPAN.
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