- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let me welcome you to my inner dialogue.

You’ll notice that I said “dialogue” and not “monologue,” and that’s not a mistake. I know the difference between the two logues. I am an editor. Words are my … um …

Anyway, there is a dialogue in my head, where different voices coexist in curious wonderment - exchanging ideas, arguing positions, weighing opinions, trading phone numbers, sharing baking secrets and conspiring against me.

Most of the time I just ignore them. But now I’ve decided to listen and take dictation.

[Editors’ note: Mr. Bryant does not really hear voices in his head. He is speaking metaphorically about the creative process. At least we hope he is.]

I know a lot of people who talk to themselves in their heads. Some actually do it out loud and don’t realize it. It’s probably this profession.

[Eds.: There is no scientific evidence to support the contention that journalists hear voices or talk to themselves - only anecdotal evidence.]

They walk around with those Bluetooth cell-phone headsets in their ears all day long, trying to make you think that they’re always in the middle of a very important phone call. “Look at me, I can talk on the phone with no hands!”

But most of the time, their battery light is off and the stuff they’re saying just doesn’t make sense. Listen sometime, you’ll see. You’ll see.

Anyway, this column isn’t a transcript of those telephone conversations but of the conversations in my head. You might notice that there’s a real jumble in there - or should that be “in here?” - with some pointed observations mixed with some really deep thoughts.

[Eds.: We assure you, Mr. Bryant does not have deep thoughts.]

I’m not going for laughs, guffaws, cackles or chortles. You know, knee-slapping, eye-watering, jaw-dropping, rip-roaring (How do you rip a roar? I’ve never ripped a roar - not intentionally, anyway.) types of laughter. A light sigh (heh) will do.


I wish I was too big to fail. But I’d have to let out these pants.

Look, I’m not asking for a bailout. But if the federal government decides that I’m too valuable to the economy to go out of business (after all, I am a Sam’s Club member), hey, I’m not going to argue.

I’d feel weird, though, about people I don’t know talking about my liquidity. (“Sorry about that liquidity. That happens sometimes when I sneeze.”) That’s information I usually share only with my doctor - and my HMO administrator, and her secretary, and a couple of her friends who have the same problem.

And I’m not worried about a federal takeover of my assets. I feel like I’m in the middle of a takeover every time I look at my paycheck. (“Whenever I find this FICA dude, he’s toast!”)


THING! Words are my THING!


With Galveston and parts of the Midwest, the presidential race upshifting to fifth gear and the federal government buying up every failing megabusiness in the country, all eyes turned to - Vegas, baby!

O.J. is on trial again. Finally.

This time he’s accused of armed robbery and kidnapping while trying to get back some of his sports memorabilia. Guess he hasn’t heard of “please.”

Jury selection went pretty quickly. The judge found it pretty easy to seat the jurors.

Judge: “Have you formed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of O.J. Simpson in this case?”

Juror X: “The guy who got away with murder in his last trial? No, I haven’t formed an opinion.”

Judge: “You’re good to go. Next.”

It must be incredibly hard or incredibly easy to be O.J.’s lawyer this time around. It all depends on how you deal with the pressure from his previous trial.

If you lose, all the other lawyers will say, “You couldn’t get him off a kidnapping charge? How lame!”

On the other hand, if you lose, you could say, “Hey, my client was O.J.!” and get plenty of sympathy.

If you win, well, um … let’s just say that failure IS an option.

No matter how the trial goes, O.J.’s lawyer better make sure to get paid BEFORE the verdict. I’m just saying.


Congress recently got back to work after a five-week recess.

Recess? The last time I was on recess was eighth grade - and that was only for 15 minutes. With nuns watching.

Congress had been off from work for FIVE weeks. I can’t remember the last time I was off from work for five weeks. I’ve been OUT of work for five weeks. But I used to say I was “between jobs.”

Now I think “on recess” sounds better in a job interview. You know, classy.

Interviewer: “Are you currently employed, Mr. Bryant?”

Me: “I’m on recess.”

Interviewer: “Well, that’s impressive. When can you start?”

Me: “After nap time. I get cranky.”


I would never put lipstick on a pig. Again.

Putting lipstick on a pig is not as easy as it sounds. You’ve got to trick the pig into wanting the lipstick, sometimes by putting the lipstick on your own lips so the pig knows that it’s OK. It’s much easier to get a pig in a tutu. (I don’t know how I know that.)

But you don’t have to put lipstick on a pig to make a pig feel pretty. Just talk to it. Tell it that it’s a pretty little pig. Just let it know you care.


Representatives and senators recently returned to Washington to do - what exactly? What do you do when you’re known as the “do-nothing Congress?”

I mean, you can’t really do nothing. You’ve got to do something, maybe just do it in small doses when nobody’s looking.

Whatever they’re not doing in Congress, it sure pays well. A member of Congress makes $169,300 a year, minimum. (I almost said “earns,” but when you’re in a do-nothing Congress, it’s what you don’t earn that counts.)

Based on a 40-hour workweek, 50 weeks a year, that breaks down to $81.39 a hour. That’s some serious change. A tank of gas and a garter belt. Without the lace.

Earlier this year, congressional leaders boasted (BOASTED!) that they would work five days a week. And that was NEWS.

(Go to any other place of business anywhere in the country and tell the workers there that, from now on, they will work FIVE days a week. Many will jump up and kiss you for the time off.)

Maybe if we paid Congress by the hour, instead of an annual salary, they would do more.

We all know how the amount of work that needs to be done expands to fill the amount of time you have to do it. (If you have to change a light bulb and you’ve got only three minutes to do it, the job’s done and you’re back to reading Popular Histrionics in no time. But if you have the entire weekend to change that bulb, you will amaze yourself with your newfound, catlike ability to see in the dark.)

It’s the same with Congress. You’ve got two years or six years to do something significant, then a constituent calls, then you got a fundraiser to go to, a couple of “meetings” with some lobbyists, make a few speeches about how stupid the other party is, and before you know it, it’s summer and time to go on recess for five weeks. Where does the time go?

If we pay them by the hour, we give them a reason to work. Incentivize them, as the consultants say.

But on second thought, maybe that isn’t such a good idea - a bunch lawmakers “incentivized” to make new laws. They’d be making laws left and right, and repealing them just as fast.

They’d pass the “Unibrow Ban of 2008,” only to have it repealed immediately because it would be unfair to homunculi.

And let me tell you from experience, you don’t want the homunculi lobby on your back. They are LITIGIOUS. And a little surly.

And hairy, of course.

Carleton Bryant is an assistant managing editor at The Washington Times

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