Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Please note - this piece is entirely non-partisan. I'm not condoning or criminalizing Joe Wilson's actions in yelling "You lie!" at President Obama during his big speech before the Joint Session of Congress last week - but I am certainly saying that Congress's actions today are a disgraceful waste of time, money, and thought.

In case you missed it, the House voted to officially "rebuke," Representative Wilson, which means, well, jack shit. Here is the wording from the actual resolution:


Raising a question of the privileges of the House.

Whereas on September 9, 2009, during the joint session of Congress convened pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 179, the President of the United States, speaking at the invitation of the House and Senate, had his remarks interrupted by the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson; and Whereas the conduct of the Representative from South Carolina was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, during the joint session of Congress held on September 9, 2009.

Now, in case you don't understand what that means, the elected officials of our country spent time today debating and then voting to decide that it "disapproves" of the behavior of Mr. Wilson. Seriously.

They didn't spend time talking about how to recoup the hundreds of billions of dollars they've sunk into AIG, FNM, FRE, C and BAC.

They didn't discuss exactly what might be the best way to dispose of the Citigroup stake that Treasury has expressed interest in selling, and they didn't discuss the possibility of removing the guarantees that the government has given Citi on $300Billion in crappy assets.

They didn't spend time talking about how to move forward with the monumental health care bill, or if maybe it might be time to think about alternatives to continuing to extend unemployment benefits while desperately hoping the economy improves.

They didn't debate a second stimulus plan, or even consider that since the mainstream party line is that the recession is over and that things are getting better, maybe we don't need the stimulus after all.

They didn't talk about the risks to our plan to continue to roll over an ever increasing mass of national debt on the gullible Chinese.

They didn't discuss a potential backup plan in case the "delay and pray" strategy for economic improvement fails.

Instead, they spent their time debating and then voting to make sure that everyone knows they disapprove of Representative Wilson's actions... And??? Are they going to kick him out of the House? Are they going to fine him? Are they going to put him on trial for treason? Are they going to send him to Gitmo? If not, WHY THE FUCK DID THEY NEED TO WASTE TIME ON THIS?!?!!?

Again, without passing any judgment at all on Wilson's actions, I can agree 100% with his quote today:
"When we are done here today, we will not have taken any further steps toward helping" the nation deal with urgent challenges, said Wilson, of South Carolina. "It is time that we move forward and get back to work for the American people."

The American people saw Obama's speech, and Wilson's interruption. It was said that in the 24 hours after the event, Wilson's campaign donations ramped up, but that his opponent's donations increased twice as much. The people are capable of evaluating the action on their own - we do NOT need our elected officials spending their time on utter crap like this, unless they are doing it to enforce actual consequences as a result.

In related news, this Dilbert cartoon sounds like a better use of time and money than what Congress is currently doing:

edit: the entire roll call for the resolution is here. Shame on Barney Frank for taking the time to show up and vote "present" but not being able to make a decision on something as monumentally inconsequential as "disapproving" or Wilson's actions. Kudos to Maxine Waters (that is the first, and possibly the last time you will hear me commend Waters) for not bothering to vote at all.



Kid Dynamite said...

i forgot to mention that Congress didn't spend time debating the recent revelations that ACORN is in favor of tax fraud, prostitution, and child sexual enslavement... no - they were to busy debating if they should "disapprove" of Joe Wilson's shouting.

StB said...

If this isn't one of the best argument for smaller government, I don't know what is.

Amy said...

Even if one does not agree with the President, the outburst was so disrespectful, so the rebuke was a good decision.

Kid Dynamite said...

Amy, you are missing the point. it's a colossal waste of Congress's time to debate this "rebuke," unless there are going to be actual consequences. There are no consequences, other than congress expressing its formal "disapproval."

bergsten said...

This is what committees do.

I was in a Board meeting once where the most heated topic of discussion was whether to censure an employee who slammed the door when he went into the (new) President's office to complain about something.

Maybe it's better they spend their time on this sort of thing instead of screwing something important up.

asphaltjesus said...


You are wrong on this one.

Orderly communication is the cornerstone of a functioning social/political organization.

Giving ole' Joe a free pass on acting like a 5-year-old isn't good. It sets a horrible precedent.

Does the legislature have bigger problems? Yes. It's Joe's fault for wasting everyone's time in the legislature dealing with his outburst.

Daniel said...

Please direct me to your blog post criticizing bush for his implementation of steel tariffs during the first 6 months of his administration. Then, please direct me to any post critical of anything regarding the prior administration. How come such self professed libertarians are so damningly critical of Democrats but yet seem completely silent when it comes to republicans? You are completely and utterly partisan. Last but not least, please point me to your blog post that criticized cheney for dropping the f bomb on Leahy on the Senate floor. Society is getting ruder and ruder and ruder and it is specifically and absolutely the fault of idiots like joe wilson.

Kid Dynamite said...

@asphaltjesus - i didn't condone the activity. i don't know why this is so hard for you guys to understand - it is outright fucking ABSURD for congress to waste time discussing this IF there are not going to be any consequences! They DEBATED if they should disapprove. It's a total fucking joke. If they wanted to DEBATE and VOTE to actually do something about it, that would be something we could talk about the validity of. what they did has no validity - it's a travesty.

and Daniel - you need to work on your reading comprehension. there is absolutely NOTHING partisan about this post.

asphaltjesus said...


Re: your response at 7:06.

Congress' primary functions is to openly debate things. It may drive you and many others crazy, but most of what happens in on the floor of Congress is largely symbolic anyway.

You need to accept that part of the sausage-making-factory that is Congress is a whole lot of hot air.

If you can't accept that, then what does that event symbolize for you? Because that's about right.

Kid Dynamite said...

Thanks for the comment, AsphaltJesus - i strongly disagree. Congress is not symbolic - they create and vote on the laws of our country. it's important stuff. The fact that they do a crappy job of it is no reason why we should accept the status quo.

I can't believe anyone could even attempt to argue that Congress should be spending 45 seconds debating "disapproval" of Wilson's remarks without consequence while they have many many more actual important things to do (see: finances, healthcare)

asphaltjesus said...


I agree with the general sentiment that the rebuke was a colossal waste of time.

But laboring on as you do is like complaining about how your liver should act more like your lungs.

Debates, proclamations, recognitions are inherent in the system and now you want the 200-year old system to immediately act differently.

Stubbornly holding onto this particular disapproval doesn't improve our government, or lead to any change at all.

I'd like to take a shot at the 'small government' remark too. Bergsten's comment is what a 'small' government does. Size doesn't matter. It doesn't fix anything.