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Thursday, December 29, 2005

afternoon idiocy 

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Congressional Free For All

WASHINGTON – The first session of the 109th Congress is over, but lawmakers and interest groups are still sorting out what surprises may have been buried in its final bills.

A clause added here or lifted there can shift the fortunes of whole industries and regions. Even insiders say it's tough to follow what's in, what's out, and why.


But even before the results are tallied, observers say it's been a bumper year for add-ons, especially in conference committees behind closed doors.

The year ended in a crush of tough negotiations, late-night votes, and hastily printed bills so vast that few lawmakers had time to read them. Early in the morning on Dec. 19, lawmakers got their first glimpse of the 774-page final version of a nearly $40 billion spending cut bill. The time? 1:12 a.m. House members had to vote on the measure just four and a half hours later.

"It's just one example of the increasing breakdown of any rules in the Congress," says Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a public interest group.

"More and more decisions are being made in closed-door conference meetings, where Democrats often aren't allowed. And there is no way to know what is going on often until after it has been passed," he adds.

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The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren't still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap. Of course, they tell us we have to be spied on for our own safety, so they can catch the terrorists who threaten us all. Thirty-five years ago, they nabbed a film star named Jean Seberg and a bunch of people running a free breakfast program for poor kids in Chicago. This time, they're onto the Quakers. We are not safer.

Same Clowns, Different Circus

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This is how dumb Americans are

Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to the online poll of 1,961 adults.

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