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Why do they call these “Debates?”

I spend a lot of my time lately watching the House of Representatives on C-Span and the Senate on C-Span 2. In the last few weeks as the subject of the deficit and the National Debt dominate the programming when the two houses are in session (rarely on Mondays or Fridays while they are “traveling”).

So, on the three days a week that they are working, what do our “representatives” do?

Take away the committee hearings, many of which are not available to us, although C-Span works very hard to show as many as possible, and we are left with something they call “debates.” I don’t know about you, but I was in the Debating Club as a teenager and I have a pretty good idea of how a debate is structured. These alternating speeches by members of either house are really a series of statements conveying the points of view and policies that their parties have frozen into unchangeable position.

This is upsetting, because if one member comes up with a new idea, or an explanation of how history shows one action working and another failing… the great benefit of actual experience… the conclusion of the speech does not bring forth a discussion on those points from the opposition. Instead, we hear another speech ignoring the opposition’s points which, at its conclusion, faces the same ignorance by the other side.

So these alternating presentations do nothing to allow one side to convince the other of the value of a position. THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO EACH OTHER! I have no idea why they go on with this farce… much less why they do it in front of us. the frustrated public that actually does listen, contacts their representatives’ offices, but rarely gets changes that they are looking for… often in large majorities of responders.

To top it off, the Congressmen and Senators of each side take their points of view, often very different, and constantly say “this is what the majority of Americans want.”

I’ll bet the majority of Americans would really like them to listen to each other and to the public and come up with real solutions to real problems.

I rest my case.

On the appropriateness of celebration…

There has now been a day to ponder the responses of the killing of bin Laden which, let me assure you, I think was an important and rightful act.

I am bothered, however, by the New Year’s Eve-style celebrations which went on for hours after the announcement: delerious street dancing, people wrapping themselves in flags, yelling and screaming… I would have expected something much more somber. I would have expected candles, thoughtful silence, remembrance of so many lost in the name of getting this one man.

I’ve been reading blogs, watching television, flipping through the newspapers and listening to radio for 24 hours or so (about half of which I was disconnected from the internet thanks to my friends at Frontier… boy, these guys are driving me to the Hughes Network) and finding there were a lot of people who also thought the party-like atmosphere made us seem as bad as Al Qaida, who did the same kind of thing after the twin towers went down. I had hoped we would be better than that, but I should know from experience that we, as a people, are easily tipped into emotional release.

Having had the day to think about everything I hope folks will be a little more reflective today. This, of course, means different things to different people. I spent five minutes switching from CSPAN‘s Morning Edition, Morning Joe, Fox News and CNN and each had their own perspective. CSPAN was taking calls from the public… at least two who were pushing the idea that 1.) bin Laden was not dead, but we really had scooted him off for secret interrogation without the rest of the world knowing about it, and  2.) that he has been dead for a couple of years and we have been keeping him on ice so Obama could stage this event in order to get reelected. In their usual reluctance to comment or get in the way of the craziest responses, CSPAN just let it go by with a “Thank You.”

Fox seemed to be devoting the morning to making sure there was plenty of focus on George W. Bush whose plans were in place to be carried out by Obama… plus repeated videos of Bush with megaphone at the 9/11 site, Bush doing the “Dead or Alive” speech, etc. Damned little focus on Obama.

My favorite was public radio which found part of the Seth Myers’ speech at the Correspondent’s Dinner the night before the attack and the one bin Laden joke he made… which the President did a deep laugh at… we know now that he knew what was about to go on in Pakistan and he kept it in unleaked control.

Morning Joe had the usual mix of conservatives and liberals and CNN was more concerned with a troop of missing boy scouts and massive flooding in Cairo, IL. Their Obama thoughts ran as a tickertape stream at the bottom of the screen.

Frankly, I’m going to start reviewing the “what do we do next” scenarios… with a certain amount of hope that we MAY no longer need to be in Afghanistan – that it becomes the new Iraq, the war that we have no reason to be in. I don’t really believe it will happen… after all we still have thousands of folks still in Iraq. If we could only get away from the need to be an empire!

I’ll comment on what I find later. Have a nice day.

In Case you missed the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last night…

Here’s the fun that Obama and Seth Meyers had with Donald Trump…

I don’t think The Donald has much of a sense of humor… he certainly couldn’t take the kind of attacks that he hands out… there’s Obama’s strength,

And did you know Michelle Bachman was born in Canada? 🙂

Staying out of the weather and watching the Congress…

It’s been snowing steadily since nine this morning and, while the dogs love walking around in it, I’m looking for reasons to stay inside today. One of those reasons is to watch the Senate debate the START treaty, which is not even close to the action in the tax cut extension debates earlier on, and flipping back to the House of Representatives who nearly completed debate on the rule for taxes when Rep. McGovern (D-MA) pulled the bill off the floor. Lawmakers are uncertain if they have enough votes to bring the tax bill to the floor.

Before the debate on the tax bill starts, the House first needs to pass the rule on how the debate and votes will go, with a simple majority vote. If the rule passes, the will be three hours of general debate and one amendment to change the inheritance tax provisions in the bill. For the last two hours, though, nothing has happened and the House is now out. The Democrats were supposed to go into a closed meeting, but the word from CSpan is that the Closed Meeting has been delayed. Whether or not they come back this evening, I don’t know.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which the House voted to end yesterday, went the to Senate and lost. The Senate has failed to get past a roadblock on a bill that would repeal the policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The procedural vote failed, 57-40, and was mostly along party lines. Sixty votes were needed to move forward.

All in all, it has been pretty dismal in Congress today.