Friday, May 22, 2009

Go, Speed Reader! Go!!

Do you want yet another glaring example of why things don't get done in this country? No? Yes? Hmmm. You know you're getting it either way, right? Oh, yeah. We're all getting it, all right. Hard.

Over there in Washington, DC, there is apparently a House Energy and Commerce Committee. And according to
Wikipedia (which anyone can edit, so keep that in mind) " maintains principal responsibility for legislative oversight relating to telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and environmental health, the supply and delivery of energy, and interstate and foreign commerce in general." Sure. It seems like a perfectly sane and productive idea to have ONE committee providing the legislative oversight for such a VAST selection of agencies. But of course they've divided themselves up into subcommittees! There are five subcommittees, one of which serves the role to oversee and investigate the other committees! Perfect. Whatever it is that they do there, I'm sure that they don't get an ounce of it done on time or before disaster strikes. I have absolutely no idea how the members of this committee are chosen, and there are 59 of them (23 Republicans and 36 Democrats), but they only represent 34 states AND the Virgin Islands. Go figure. You'd kind of think that since they're responsible for just about everything under the sun that they would have representation from all 50 states and perhaps NOT places that are NOT states, but they don't. My point here isn't much, merely just to point out that 59 Representatives is a lot of Representatives to be acting like small children throwing major tantrums.

This report appeared in
The Wall Street Journal, a fairly reputable publication which I find to be trustworthy and accurate. I mention that because I find this story to be utterly ridiculous. So much, that it is conceivable that some Internet troll/drone/dwarf/whatever they are could have made it up But they didn't. It's real. Unfortunately.

It seems that there is a "sweeping climate bill" that the Democrats want to get out of the Committee by Memorial Day (May 25). It would seem that the Republicans
"...are largely against the bill, which aims to cut emissions of so-called greenhouse gases by more than 80% over the next half-century but would be costly." So what is their plan? Discuss the situation rationally? Compromise? Debate? Discuss?

Nope. No, they've decided to try to stall by boring the Democrats (and any other unfortunate soul who actually had to be present during these powwows) to death by invoking their right to have the entire bill and all of its major amendments read out loud. Yep. All 946 pages of the bill and hundreds of pages worth of amendments. Wait. How many?

946 plus several hundred pages. To be read out loud. You know, I think I'd quit. Right there. If I thought I was going to have to sit through what seems to amount to a small child holding their breath until an adult gives in to their unreasonable demands (or until the kid can't breathe anymore and just finally lets all of his breath out and resumes aspiration on their own), I'd quit. Way to go, Reps! Real mature! I'm sure that's exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they set the groundwork for this country.

Well, the Democrats weren't going to just sit there and take that. How could they? 946 pages? Minimum? Out loud? What if they had Robert Byrd read them? (He's not on the committee, but I can't think of anyone more torturous to have to listen to for that long. And when I say 'long', I mean 'until 2013'. He might finish by Memorial Day 2013, but he'd never finish by Monday!) So they did the most reasonable thing that you can think of in this situation. That's right. They hired a speed reader. :::blink::: :::blink::: Come again?

Yep, hired a speed reader. Said speed reader is a
"...young man who was on door duty at the hearing as he awaited a call to the microphone (and) was hired to help staffers. After years of practice, the panel's clerks can read at a good clip. But the speed reader is a lot faster." All of that from a Committee spokeswoman who declined to give her name, probably due to embarrassment at being associated with this sort of crap. And according to said newly hired (who also declined to state his name), "Judging by the size of the amendments, I can read a page about every 34 seconds." So, if we do the math on that, or let The Wall Street Journal do the math on that, then "Based on that estimate, it would take him about nine hours." You think?!

I think it will likely take longer than that, as it's reported that
"It took the committee more than two hours Tuesday to debate and vote on the first proposed amendment." Please note that earlier it was stated that there were "major amendments that measure several hundred pages." At that rate, Robert Byrd is going to finish reading them before they do. And I guess the interns figured that out at some point because "By the time Capitol Hill interns finally left for tacos and happy-hour drinks at the local Mexican restaurant, the panel had approved just three amendments." OK, when's happy-hour usually? 4pm? 5pm? All I know is that it's never an hour! (Why they call it that, I have no idea, but it bugs me. And I digress. Where was I?)

So, would it be safe to assume that they were hammering out details on something that is really, really important? It would not, because one of the sticking points was a"...proposal to give government subsidies to people who trade in old cars or trucks for new, more efficient ones." Um, what? Wait! Government subsidies? For trading in vehicles for more efficient vehicles?! Didn't President Barry just announce some agreement that car manufacturers will have to produce a fleet of cars that average 35 mpg, making them more efficient than the cars with the current fleet average of 27.5 mpg? Meaning that damn near EVERYONE who buys a new vehicle will be buying one that is "more efficient"! Meaning that damn near EVERYONE who buys a new vehicle will be getting government subsidies?!

I was completely unaware that this Committee had access to an unlimited supply of cash! Who's paying for this?! ME?! AGAIN?! I'm already paying for a bunch of mortgages I didn't default on! I'm already paying for a bunch of bank bailouts that I didn't sign off on! So are millions of other taxpayers! Am I going to be expected to foot the bill for a subsidy for damn near EVERYONE who buys a car that the car companies can't afford to make (and that will now cost consumers an average of $1600 more per vehicle) but that the government has goaded them into making so that they can offer little, tiny, fuel efficient cars that the public doesn't want in the first place otherwise we'd already be buying them because they DO already exist?!

What planet does this Committee meet on? Clearly not this one. And the folks who are supposed to be doing all of the overseeing and all of the legislating are off pouting while their interns are drinking margaritas down at Chevy's! Grand! Sure, this is going to work. Can't y'all just play nice and get some freaking work done? Isn't that your job? You people are un-believable.

They're never finishing before Memorial Day. Not like this. According to the Texas Rep., a one Joe Barton, the Republicans "...have 400 amendments that we could offer, but there are at least 75-80 that we almost have to offer." 400?! Is that even possible to amend ONE document 400 times?! It shouldn't be possible! You know, let's hope that they're all up for re-election before this debacle is finished so we can NOT vote for any of them and start over! Where's Robert Byrd when we need him for the one thing I know he's capable of doing?

This is no way to run a country.

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