‘Our Town’

August 12, 2013

135735_600Despite my best efforts and a lot of crying, it’s Monday again!
And it’s foggy up here along California’s north coast, so the noted Perseid meteor shower won’t be seen in the morning murk — the peak is supposedly tonight, but more fog is expected then, too.

One fog bank is thick and nasty — the US Congress is 10 days into its ‘vacation’ time and most Americans believe the useless assholes don’t deserve it.

(Illustration found here).

While most people in the US are going through some shit time, the clowns that supposedly govern us are having a ball. Citizens don’t like those in charge to be turds — 82 percent of Americans polled recently say Congress does not deserve any kind of vacation.
Via CBS:

Members of Congress left Washington last Friday, leaving behind a daunting to-do list: While issues like immigration reform and gun control remain on the backburner, the legislature must pass a bill to fund the government (called a continuing resolution) by Sept. 30 or risk letting federal operations partially shut down.
Given the trouble the House had last month with just one transportation bill — the GOP-led House could not find the votes for it, because it allocated so little money to federal transportation spending — the vote on a continuing resolution could prove to be difficult.
Congress returns to Washington next month, but the House is only scheduled to be in session nine days in September.

The House is chock-a-block insane, anyway.

A Gallup poll conducted late last month displayed Americans disillusionment and distrust with its governing body — they stink:

Congress’ approval rating remains stagnant at the low end of Gallup’s historical trend.
Approval has averaged 15 percent so far this year, far below the overall 33 percent average rating for the entire trend since 1974.
The average for 2013 to date ties with 2012 for the lowest annual average on record.
More generally, Americans’ views of Congress have been depressed for the past few years, averaging 17 percent in 2011 and 19 percent in 2010.
The highest yearly average was 56 percent in 2001, due to a spike in congressional approval after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And Washington, DC, is considered a shit town. Except for those who are in government, and then’s it’s the DC gravy train. A new book explores the vast wealth of a few in the capital city of the reportedly free — “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America’s Gilded Capital by Mark Leibovich, a former reporter for the New York Times and Washington Post, who came to DC via the San Jose Mercury News.
Leibovich supposedly details hilarity in the incestuous relationship of DC. I haven’t read it, but the book appears to be a scoop.
A review at UK’s the Independent:

That the US capital, the earth’s last imperial city, is a strange place is no secret.
Administrations come and go but a permanent establishment remains, an incestuous stew of politicians and ex-politicians, media, lobbyists, thinktanks and consultants, all of them prospering mightily, even as the rest of the country is laid low by recession.
Inherent conflicts of interest are massive but taken for granted.
The last chairman of the Federal Reserve, the most powerful central banker on the planet, is married to a senior NBC correspondent.
Another reporter’s husband is the city’s hottest lawyer; a recent Senate majority leader’s spouse is a top lobbyist in This Town.
And there are many more examples.

And you can understand the commotion.
Why put the gravy train at risk?
Washington’s media-politico-lobbying complex is doing brilliantly.
The real world has faced the worst economic slump in 75 years, but in the capital you barely notice.
DC is America’s 21st-century El Dorado.
There are 3,143 counties in the US; of the 10 richest measured by household income, seven are clustered around Washington.
This boom has three overlapping reasons.
One is the growth of the federal government, as a result first of 9/11 and then of the financial crisis.
The second is the explosion of electronic media, turning the city into a giant 24/7 echo chamber; the third reason is the proliferation of lobbying, or less politely put, legalised influence-peddling.
Again, a few figures.
There are 12,000-odd registered lobbyists here, and $4bn is spent on lobbying the federal government; which works out at $333,333 per lobbyist, nice work if you can get it.
And many can: half of retired senators now go into lobbying, against 3 per cent in the 1970s.
The pickings from federal elections are huge also.
A record $6.3bn was spent on the 2012 cycle, rich pickings indeed if you can get a slice of the action as a consultant, “strategist” or whatever.

Can it go on?
Congress’s approval rating is in single figures, vying with that of cockroaches and colonoscopies.
Leibovich’s book, naming names and with chapter and verse on Washington’s dreadful, self-congratulatory culture, is a bestseller.
“This era has reached a tipping point,” says the author.
Somehow though one doubts it.
Who’ll kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Yes indeed. ‘This Town‘ does sound like a page-turner, but maybe it would end up pissing me way-off — Thornton Wilder would have a field day, but he would really, really have to re-invent Grover’s Corners.
As it turns out, our town isn’t really ‘ours’ after all.

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