Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Trip to the Nation's Capitol

I returned late last night from a four day trip to D.C. I did not see Dick Cheney, but I only looked at the Capitol and the executive offices. I found out while I was there that he isn't actually a part of either.

And while the Dark Lord was no doubt trying to amass even more power, all I saw was a couple of Congressmen trying to give theirs back. Mrs. AA and I got House passes from the polite but eerily somber folks at Emmanuel Cleaver's office. After traversing the 28 or so security checkpoints and divesting ourselves of mostly everything we were carrying we arrived in the House Chamber.

What we found was the Speaker Pro Tem in charge and two Congressmen orating from the floor. There were also a couple of women carrying papers from one desk to another and then transferring them yet again. In the back of the room, three pages conducted a possibly high stakes game of rock, paper, scissors. Another page was napping across the way. The Congressional Reporter typed quickly but surprisingly calmly.

The two orators were taking the end of the Congressional week to remind the Speaker Pro Tem, the paper shufflers, the three non-comatose pages, the reporter, we upper-level gawkers, and anyone with a lot of time and CSPAN exactly what the founding fathers really meant when they put pen to paper over 200 years ago. Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah and Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey explained that Congress has (since the damn dirty New Deal went into place) greatly usurped authorities not granted to it by the Constitution. There are presumably many such usurpations, but the Congressmen were primarily (i.e. only) concerned with spending.

To make the case they invoked Constitutional heavyweights Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Rush Limbaugh, and George Burns. In fact, George Burns provided the tag line for the speech with his "Say goodnight Gracie" punchline. Congressman Bishop used the punchline to illustrate several points, not the least of which was how unhip his students were because they don't know George Burns.

Davy Crockett and some farmer were also integral in the speech. The farmer apparently schooled Congressman Crockett on the Constitution, prompting Crockett persuade Congress not to help a military widower. Representative Bishop guessed that you could call Crockett a conservative. I guess that he's right, and I also guess you could call Baghdad a really big Alamo.

This really wasn't a Constitution speech. It was an anti-pork-barrel speech. You might assume a real reminder of the limits of Congressional power granted by the Constitution would touch on several more issues than local spending. On the other hand, you might also assume that a guy reminding everyone about the evils of pork might not have these headlines on his Congressional homepage:

Bishop Secures Millions for Utah Defense Projects

Bishop Announces $2.5 Million Grant for Ogden Airport

Bishop Bill for Park City Open Space Passes House

You might also guess that the other guy in the speech wouldn't be boasting about "securing funding" to help old people and only old people. But you obviously aren't a Congressman. If you were (and if you are please help out here) you would be able to decipher this statement:

"If we truly understand what it means to establish justice, we have to understand the Framers hope to curb the excesses of the State governments, just the way patriots today have to curb the excesses of our national government. So Federalism means we forget the concept of establishing justice."

I guess I need to watch more CSPAN.

(I got off track here. More about DC later.)

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