Life’s Little Ironies Goes to Washington – Part One

This was an exciting week! I was taken on a tour of the Houses of Congress arranged by those who can make these things happen, no less. I have always been interested in Neo-Classical Colonial architecture and this was an opportunity to view the best examples up-front so to speak. As we were being escorted around by our congressional aides my eye caught a wonderful example of Empire style architrave and I peeled off the group to get a better look where upon I came across this large imposing double white-painted doors atop with a spectactular pediment. In contrast to the Neo-Classical dominated architecture this was pure High Renaissance, almost Mannerist. As I scanned the door some more I saw hanging a plain typed notice with the words ‘In Session’ written in Times Roman. I smiled to myself and thought ‘the “Peoples’ Work” is being done behind those doors’. That got me thinking what committee, open to the public, was being conducted in there and very carefully and quietly I let myself in the room.

To my astonishment sat the President and the Speaker sitting around an oval table with Senators McConnell, Reid and Secretary Geitner. The were so engrossed in discussion about the proposed budget cuts that they never registered what they might have thought was a lowly civil service official entering through the doors had I registered in their conciousness at all . The room, rather disappointingly,was austere and dimly lit with only a Tiffany-style lamp suspended from the ceiling above to give it any kind of character. The room was also smokey. The President clearly had not given up smoking and Boehner never said he would, but I was suprised that the other three indulged also. I drew closer hoping to see and hear more clearly the dialogue. As I did it became apparent that they did not have policy documents in their hands but poker cards and beside their right hands lay bargaining chips. I looked up from the table and glimpsed an elephant. Not of the political motif kind but a living, breathing elephant sitting precariously on a small wooden chair; knees crossed and arms folded across the chest. It was as clever a circus trick as I had ever seen. The elephant caught my eye, smiled and said “Hi there”. “How do you do?” I replied rather prosaicly. After a short pause I added. “Who are you?”  He removed a big fat cigar clenched between his teeth and smiled some more. “I am the Department of Defense” he said matter of factly replacing the cigar back between his teeth and taking a few puffs. The exhaled smoke swirled and and joined the cigarette smoke emanating from the table. I was concerned that he might not understand the discourse unfolding in front of us. He was only an elephant for all his tricks. I said tentativley “Are you worried that you might be cut?”. He smiled more broadly still as he opened his mouth and made visible a row of large discolored teeth clamped down hard on the cigar. With a  slightly dismissive chuckle that caused a long line of ash to fall from the cigar on to his lap, he chortled “Not in the least. My wife has seen to that” I was  now thoroughly confused but as he finshed his sentence he beckoned to his unseen wife at which point I felt something pass my arm. I looked round and saw a well groomed cow. He looked lovingly in to her eyes and added with swelling pride. “She’s sacred”

As I tried to drink in confusing scene before me, my cell phone rang. “I have to take this” I said hurriedly not wanting to draw attention to myself. I answered but it kept ringing. I franticly hit more buttons but the ringing continued and got louder and the room dimmed some more. I sighed as reality set in and my eyes strained and flickered against the light that was seeping in. I lifted my head peered out my bedroom window to look upon the gloom beyond and sighed again.

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  • paulreed

    Alan Simpson says cut defense spending not the poor.
    Alan Simpson the former Senator most recently chaiman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission said on NPR’s Morning Edition that the Congress’s efforts to cut spending and misguided and will fail unless cuts in expenditure are made widespread especially the sacred cow that is Defense. He berates Congress for not investigating whether there are any egregious expenditures that need to be reigned in. For instance there are 250,000 contractors to the DOD and it is inconceivable that everyone is of vital strategic importance to US security. The truth is that contractors have skillfully placed their facilities across all the states throughout the US making it virtually impossible for members of congress to argue against their wasteful spending for fear of losing jobs in their own district. Simpson provides a profound example of extravagance. “We found stuff in the Defense Department that you can’t believe. Here’s one for ya. There’s a DOD health system, its separate for Veterans Administration, its separate from Obamacare. It affects 2.2 million military retirees.

    Their premium is $460 a year and no co-pay and includes their dependents and the cost to the U.S. is $53 billion a year”

    Maybe I was not dreaming after all