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December 19, 2009
They're laughing at us
They're laughing at us. All over the world, they're laughing, some more discretely than others. We may not like it, but we have to acknowledge it. There's just too much material. We're we are the world's first super power joke generator.
You know where they're laughing at us the hardest? Iraq. Baghdad.
You know who? Legislators.
In a remarkable, but still tender bit of anthropology, really good people - military, State Department and civilian - have been advising newly democratized Iraqi leaders about the ways of democracy, including law making.
Three WEF (Worst Enemies Forever), Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Curds, are bumpily affecting self-government.
They are coached to let every voice at the table be heard; not get to far ahead or behind constituents; to be civil to one another; to establish level playing fields and fair rules; to avoid stacking the deck; to be open with the public and to listen to them, individually and as a group. The military advisors, being high-ranking officers, encourage leaders to set the example and keep everyone informed. The basic lessons of democracy, the stuff of election campaigns.
Yet, what do Iraqi see from their would-be model in Washington?
They watch us pass bone-chilling, vastly expensive legislation unread, indeed in one case, without even having a final print of a two thousand-page slush fund that, among other things, provided John Murtha's never-used airport with a backup runway.
They see us twice pass legislation in the middle of Saturday nights.
They read reports of the senate majority leader sausaging his version of the largest entitlement program in American history behind closed doors ¬- shutting out even many of his own party members - to produce an act that promises to look like the men's room floor at a grunge bar late Saturday night, right after a guy vomited, slipped and fell, sliding to a halt under the urinal.
And this is from the reformers! The ones who are draining the swamp.
Then they see guys who voted for the Community Reinvestment Act, which coerced banks into lending the wrong people accessible mortgages, then take sweetheart loans from smarmy, wheel-dealing debt sellers, then write new regulations for Wall Street, all along while they spew invective against the bankers and never acknowledging even the slightest contribution they might have made to the calamity.
"Hey, can we be on the ways and means committee and 'forget" to pay taxes, too? Har. Har. Har."
"Can we appoint our girlfriends to political jobs, too? Oh, boy!"
"Does our system have to be as transparent as yours? Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Can we tell people that a mandatory confiscation of money isn't a tax, too?" (All-out guffaws and rolling in aisles with tear-stained faces.)
"Hey, this democracy thing is a gravy train!" (Applause.)
"You there, Mr. Lobbyist, you're either at the table or on the menu! Give us some publicity money and we'll go easy on you. Whoo-hoo!"
"Hey everyone! Don't waste a good crisis!!!!" (One guy chokes because he's laughing so hard. Two guys slap him on the back, in uproarious laughter.)
"If you don't vote for health care, you're a slave owner!"
"Stop it. You're killin' me!"
"Passing anything is better than passing nothing!"