Inside Politics

AN OLD MOVIE

“In a key scene in Frank Capra’s 1939 film ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ appointed senator (and unwitting pawn in a corruption scheme) Jefferson Smith, played by Jimmy Stewart, suggests to a colleague that perhaps it would be a good idea to read bills before voting on them,” John Fund writes at OpinionJournal.com.

” ‘The bills?’ responds an incredulous Sen. Paine, played by Claude Rains. ‘These bills are put together by legal minds after long study. I can’t understand half of them myself, and I used to be a lawyer.’

“Forget it, he tells Smith. ‘When the time comes, I’ll advise you how to vote.’

“Never has art so closely mirrored life as with the mammoth 2,100-page health care bill passed by the Senate. ‘The result makes no sense whatsoever - not to conservatives, not to liberals, not to anyone,’ accurately concludes the Weekly Standard. ‘Rather than reform a system that everyone agrees is a failure, it will subsidize that system and compel participation in it.’

“Many who have long touted health care reform are turning up their noses at the final product,” Mr. Fund said. “Michael Bloomberg, New York’s independent mayor, told ‘Meet the Press’ over the weekend: ‘I have asked congressperson after congressperson. Not one can explain to me what’s in the bill, even in the House version. Certainly not in the other version. And so for them to vote on a bill that they don’t understand whatsoever, really, you’ve got to question how - what kind of government we have.’

“Mr. Bloomberg added that his own reading of the Senate bill led him to conclude that it would blow a hole in the New York State budget and force closure of perhaps 100 health clinics.

“It’s no wonder Congress and the White House are so determined to hide their handiwork from the public while the House and Senate versions are ‘reconciled.’ ”

BRAVE NEW LAW

“It’s getting to the point where the twin news stories more or less write themselves,” Christopher Hitchens writes at Slate.com.

“No sooner is the fanatical and homicidal Muslim arrested than it turns out that he (it won’t be long until it is also she) has been known to the authorities for a long time. …

“So that’s now more or less the routine for the guilty. (I am not making any presumption of innocence concerning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.) But flick your eye across the page, or down it, and you will instantly see a different imperative for the innocent. ‘New Restrictions Quickly Added for Travelers,’ reads the inevitable headline just below the report on the notoriety of Abdulmutallab, whose own father had been sufficiently alarmed to report his son to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, some time ago. (By the way, I make a safe prediction: Nobody in that embassy or anywhere else in our national security system will lose his or her job as a consequence of this most recent disgrace.) …

“In my boyhood, there were signs on English buses that declared, in bold letters, ‘No Spitting.’ At a tender age, I was able to work out that most people don’t need to be told this, while those who do feel a desire to expectorate on public transport will require more discouragement than a mere sign.

“But I’d be wasting my time pointing this out to our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all.

“Yes, that ought to do it. It’s also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.”

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About the Author
Greg Pierce

Greg Pierce

Greg Pierce grew up in Indiana and Illinois, and graduated from Illinois State University, where he was editor of the student newspaper. He worked at newspapers in Indiana, Florida and Connecticut before coming to The Washington Times in 1984. Before compiling “Inside Politics,” he covered federal agencies for the newspaper. Mr. Pierce also compiles “Washington in Five Minutes” and edits ...

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