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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,391

Journal Archives

Schoolhouse Rock for the 113th Congress

Back in the old days when we had only three channels on TV, not counting PBS, and Saturday morning cartoons were less educational than they are now (unless you count the weekly lesson on why not to shop at Acme), ABC slipped in a bit of book-learnin' with its "Schoolhouse Rock" segments.

One of their better ones was the "I'm Just A Bill" short that President Obama referred to yesterday. It is unfortunately a bit out of date, so let's fix it for the current Congress...

Boy: Woof! You sure got to climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington. But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is?

Bill: I'm just a bill
Yes, I'm only a bill
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will
But today I am still just a bill

Boy: Gee, Bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage

Bill: Well I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman and he said, "No, we just need to enforce the laws we already have." So they called their friends in another congressional district who had enough sense to not elect a teabagger, and they called their local Congresssman, and he said, "you're right, that ought to be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.

I'm just a bill
Yes, I'm only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill
Well, now I'm stuck in committee
And I'll sit here and wait
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they have enough time between their attempts to repeal Obamacare to let me be a law
How I hope and pray that they will
But today I am still just a bill

Boy: Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?

Bill: No, they're discussing and debating whether to order pizza for lunch today. But they'll discuss me next. I might get five minutes of consideration. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they decide to report on me favorably, otherwise I may die.

Boy: Die?

Bill: Yeah, die in committee. And then I go to another committee.

Boy: What do they do there?

Bill: They decide whether to amend me to a tax cut, a post-office rename, or an Obamacare repeal bill.

Boy: What's 'amend' mean?

Bill: "Amend" is a fancy word that means "add." Nothing gets out of this session of the House of Representatives unless it contains a tax cut, a bill to rename a post office, or an attempt to repeal the president's healthcare reform law. So if I want to be a law, I have to be amended to one of those three things.

Boy: And what's "repeal" mean?

Bill: That means "to get rid of."

Boy: Why do they want to repeal Obamacare?

Bill: Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs bark? There are things that just are, and one of them is that the Republicans try to repeal Obamacare every Tuesday.

Boy: What happens if they name all the post offices?

Bill: Then we're screwed, but don't worry: there are enough post offices out there that the teabaggers can't rename them all before the voters come to their senses and vote them out of office.

Boy: And if they find one of those bills to amend you to, then what happens?

Bill: Then the bill I'm amended to gets sent to the full House, and they vote on me. I hope they vote yes.

Boy: What if they can't find one of those bills to amend you to?

Bill: Then they'll write one. It doesn't take very long.

Boy: If they amend you to another bill and vote yes, what happens?

Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again with the Senate removing the tax cut or the Obamacare repeal language from the bill.

Boy: How about the post office name?

Bill: Oh, they'll leave those alone. And then the Senate does all the same things to me that were done in the House.

Boy: Oh no!

Bill: Oh yes!

Boy: Can a bill that the Senate changed become a law?

Bill: No. The same bill has to pass both the House and the Senate, so I become a Reconciliation Bill.

Boy: That's an awfully big name.

Bill: And it's an awful process, but after I become a Reconciliation Bill I have to go back to the House.

Boy: To be voted on again?

Bill: Yup. But they can change it too. And if that happens I have to go back to the Senate, who can change it again and again...

Boy: It doesn't sound like there's much chance of you becoming a law if you go into reconciliation.

Bill: No. But sometimes the lucky Bills pass through reconciliation, and then...

I'm a reconciliation bill
Yes, I'm only a reconciliation bill
And my lack of Obamacare repeal just gives me a thrill
But if they vote for me on Capitol Hill
Well, then I'm off to the White House
Where I'll wait in a line
With a lot of other bills
For the president to sign
And if he signs me, then I'll be a law
How I hope and pray that he will
But today I am still just a bill

Boy: You mean even if the whole Congress says you should be a law, the president can still say no?

Bill: Yes, that's called a veto. If the President vetoes me, I have to go back to Congress and they vote on me again, and by that time you're so old . . .

Boy: By that time it's very unlikely that you'll become a law. It's not easy to become a law, is it?

Bill: No!

But how I hope and I pray that I will
But today I am still just a bill

Congressman: He signed you, Bill! Now you're a law!

Bill: Oh yes!

Report from the North Idaho Fair Democratic party booth, day 1

This year I'm working two days at the Democratic party booth at the North Idaho Fair. (If you're in the area: I-90 to Idaho exit 12 (US 95 exit), north on US 95 to Kathleen Avenue (Super 1 Foods, Sunset Motors and Parker Toyota are at that corner), right on Kathleen, left on Government Way and you're right there. Three dollars parking, $9 admission, the Democratic Party booth is straight up from the main gate.) Status report follows:

This year our main push is getting people to sign a petition to put an initiative raising the minimum wage in Idaho on next year's ballot. We got a lot of signatures. We also got a lot of people who were in one of two camps: that it should stay the same, or that it should be lowered. Apparently the theory is that if we lower the minimum wage more jobs will be created because employers will be able to spread their payroll around to more people. We'd have to lower it by a bunch to do that. (We had a man who claimed to be an economics professor tell us that. He didn't say where he taught economics; if he would have I could have told you where not to study economics.) We also got a LOT of new voter registrations.

I was serving from 10 am to 2 pm on Thursday when a lot of people are at work, so we didn't get a lot of teabaggers. We did get one and this guy was fuckin' hilarious, in a sad sort of way: One of the teabagger groups in Idaho has produced a book that contains the Idaho and US Constitutions. It's a nice book, printed on good paper with an offset press (yes, I can tell) and perfect-bound with a heavy durable cover. It's even got a foil-stamped cover. He wouldn't give me one and he was carrying four...and I think the reason he wouldn't give me one is he was stupid enough to open the book to Article 1 of the Constitution, point at Sections 8 (powers of Congress) and 9 (limits on Congress), and tell me those sections created a "limited government." I took Constitution in hand and explained to him, very calmly, that a document that allows Congress to levy taxes, borrow money and write any law it deems necessary to provide for the general welfare and common defense of the United States is a document that allows Congress to do, with very limited exceptions, whatever the hell it wants. (I even pointed at the three lines which do that.) At which point the teabagger went into the "original intent" thing and the "Federalist Papers" thing, to which I responded that the people who wrote the Constitution were also the people who wrote the Federalist Papers so they must have had a reason to write the Constitution in the way that they did. That made him madder...it was good for the soul.

If the allegations are true, how fucked is Johnny Manziel?

Mr. Manziel is the Heisman Trophy winner who is currently facing allegations that he's been selling autographs while still a Texas Aggie.

My bet: he loses his eligibility permanently, can't get a job in pro football and winds up back in Tyler driving a garbage truck.

The North Colorado people haven't actually read the Constitution

Article 4, Section 3: New States

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

So the teabaggers in Coloralabama can rant and rave about wanting to form a new state all day long, and write all the resolutions and initiatives they want...but if Denver or Washington says they stay part of Colorado, they stay part of Colorado.

Name a quarterback who's better than Tim Tebow

My money is on Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, Burt Reynolds' quarterback character in The Longest Yard.

Someone tell me this about teabaggers

In this wonderful thread:


(it's about a teabagger distributing the names of people who both vote and receive disability payments)

we find the oft-quoted, incorrectly-attributed-to-Ben-Franklin quote about democracies surviving until The People learn they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

Assuming that this is true, and assuming that asking the government for money is a bad thing, howcum teabaggers invariably vote for the candidate who promises the biggest tax cuts?

Here's what I don't get, regarding Snowden and Manning...

Why do computers in secure areas have accessible USB ports anyway?

During the Cold War they didn't allow 3.5" floppy drives in systems that processed classified traffic unless the system only came with them (such as a Mac, and those were exceptionally rare in high security environments), and then that system had to be in a place that always had at least two people in it. Because you could put a 3.5" disk in your pocket, there was too great a danger of people walking classified information out of the secure area. If you had a pocket large enough to hold a 5-1/4" disk, you'd have never gotten out of the SCIF with it because it would have been too obvious.

Now all these machines have USB ports and you can just waltz out of the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) with anything you want...which makes me wonder how many OTHER people have been doing this shit.

The government buys the computers it uses for processing classified traffic from special vendors and that equipment has to meet very high standards to keep the secrets inside; why in FUCK are they putting computers in SCIFs that have this big a security hole in them?

And come on: one drum of epoxy and a drum of filler would have solved all this.

A Republican Congressman's Weekly Agenda

Monday: Open and answer mail from constituents. Answer all with the same form letter: all America's problems will self-correct if we cut taxes and repeal Obamacare. We have an autoresponder on our email server for all the people who send us letters electronically.

Tuesday: Write, debate and pass Obamacare repeal bill. Look on in dismay as Senator Franken lights a cigar with it as soon as it gets to the Senate floor.

Wednesday: Write, debate and pass ACORN defunding bill. File motion of protest after Senator Warren intercepts the bill before it reaches the Senate chamber and disappears into the ladies' room with it. When she leaves the bathroom, the bill is not in her possession.

Thursday: Write and debate tax cut bill. Also attempt to pass bill prohibiting the use of Republican-authored legislation for the lighting of cigars or wiping of asses.

Friday: Fly back to district and tell constituents it's those damn Democrats' fault that we're not getting anything done in here.

Let's Bring Back ACORN!

If the Republicans keep on insisting on defunding the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, shouldn't there actually be one?

If the Republicans successfully bury Obamacare, what will they ask for next?

If they can get the president to surrender his signature achievement, they'll keep going. What will be their next demand?

My guess: they'll want their whole agenda, but the first thing to come up will be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It won't be an abortion ban because they still need an issue for 2014. Nh
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