Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Men In Tights

Any non-US citizen who is interested in American politics might be a bit perplexed. The rift between ‘red’ and ‘blue’, conservative and liberal, right and left, is turning into a chasm. Arguments over gay rights, right to life, and public prayer are increasingly shrill and nasty. More time is now spent by the peoples’ representatives arguing over ‘values’ than is devoted to deciding what wine to serve in the Senate dining room or whether cactus farmers in Alaska should receive the same subsidies as cactus farmers in New Mexico. This civic hurricane is now gusting around the ‘balance of powers’ as defined in the US Constitution. A Far Right/Evangelical Christian coalition has decided that independent judges who serve for life are inconvenient in this moral debate.

Americans respect the architects of their form of government. Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and the other ‘Founders’ still command reverence. This is in spite of the fact that by modern standards these guys had no dress sense at all. From the top of their pony-tailed wigs to the tips of their buckled shoes, the Constitutional Convention must have looked like the Hollywood production of Amadeus. But these were true statesmen. Although the debates were bitter, there is no record of Hamilton ever saying to Burr ‘I’ve seen better legs on a piano!’ In order to keep the cotton knee-sock wearing majority from discriminating against the woollen knee-sock wearing minority, a government of three co-equal branches with balanced powers was designed. Congress was to create the laws, the Executive was to implement the laws and the Judiciary was to make sure laws were created and implemented according to the Constitution. The genius of the system is that it works like a meeting of the Commission of the Mafia: everybody watches everybody. Realising that cable TV, the feeding tube and the hula hoop had not yet been invented, the founders also established a way to change the system. If enough citizens (enough being a very large percentage) voted to change things, the system could be changed. The Founders made changing the system possible; they just didn’t make it easy. They might have worn funny looking clothing, but they had wisdom.

There might, however, be an easy way to change things. Step 1: make sure only judges who agree with you get appointed. Step 2: get rid of any judge who does not agree with you. Of course Jefferson and Adams might be bothered by this idea, but Don Corleone would like it a lot. To make step 1 work, there’s the ‘Nuclear Option’. It is important that North Korea and Iran do not misunderstand this idea. Simply put, it means that instead of 60% of the Senate approving new judges only 51% will be needed. The alternative of electing enough Senators to make up a 60% voting bloc is tough. You have to get a lot of troublesome voters to agree with your ideas. To make step 2 work, there’s ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanours’. To impeach a judge, 51% of the House of Representatives and then 67% of the Senate have to agree. You’d have to be able to herd voters like long horn steers to get this done. Changing the lock on the judge’s office door over the weekend is a lot easier.

Representative Tom DeLay and a group of conservative politicians have decided to take up the challenge. Tom’s idea of a good judge is Charlton Heston in his Moses costume. He is supported by a committee of fair and open minded Televangelist preachers. This committee is very small. Tom and his allies may have the money. Tom may have the will and the guile. Tom might even look good in a wig with a pony tail. However it remains to be seen if Tom has the wisdom – much less the legs - to be a modern Founder.


Blogger Africanuck said...

Tom DeLay is exactly the sort of person that the founding fathers had in mind when they required a super-majority. However, it's unfortunate that they didn't have enough foresight to disqualify anyone who has the mentality of a bug exterminator from politics. I'm surprised that DeLay didn't baptize it "the DDT option".

He probably thinks those tight-wearing, wig-sporting fops were a bunch of homosexuals or wanna-be ballet dancers anyways.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

If only we could find a picture of Tom in a wig and tights, this whole mess would probably go away.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Blighty Blog said...

Interesting read! How did conservatives and democrats convey how much they hated each other before blogs? From outside it seems like there's an online civil war taking place.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Talking Tina said...

Saw your Blog on BlogExplosion. Loved your article. Ty for saying what needed to be said. Take care and God Bless.

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