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Saturday, December 6, 2014

GRIDLOCK EXPLAINED


The phrase “gridlock” has been used a lot over the past few years to imply that political differences in the government in Washington are impeding “legislative progress”, a phrase that itself may be an oxymoron.  Depending on where you went to school an “oxymoron”is either a really dumb cow-like animal with big horns or a self-contradictory phrase, both seem to be common in the nation’s capital.  But either way, “gridlock” may be getting a bad rap. 
 
First of all, “gridlock” comes from the description of a traffic jam, like the ones caused by fourteen year old girls driving their friends to a Justin Beiber concert and being so excited that they pull into busy intersections and stop.  Of course fourteen year old girls shouldn’t be driving, but Justin Beiber shouldn’t be singing, so in a philosophical sense maybe the two balance out.  In any case “gridlock” in Washington isn’t all that bad because it creates a “firewall” against incompetent political leadership. Firewalls are what keep fraternity houses from completely burning down on Saturday nights and the political version has had a similar positive effect over the last six years. 

 Even so,  “gridlock” hasn’t always worked.  The biggest example is ObamaCare which snuck through Congress before the grid was locked.  ObamaCare has never been popular but still, Obama’s supporters, started calling it his “flagship” accomplishment.   “Flagship” is a naval term like “happy hour” and “political correctness”, and denotes something of great importance.  But when Obama’s supporters on the Left received a letter from eight Gender Studies majors at Brown University, complaining that “flagship” had something to do with the “military-industrial complex” they started calling ObamaCare his “signature” accomplishment.   It’s a “signature accomplishment” because he had a big ceremony in which he “signed” it.  Ordinary people can tell when Obama is having a “signature moment” because he shows up all day on CNN  sitting at a desk surrounded by little black kids, signing a piece of paper with a basket full of pens; one for each letter of his name and any doodles he might want to add just for fun.  Occasionally, Nancy Pelosi is standing behind him with her vacant stare and quixotic smile to add enthusiasm to the moment.

The little black kids don’t get  these pens because they are valuable for Democrat fund raisers.  Obama’s fund raisers happen each Wednesday in Beverly Hills, California.  For thirty-five thousand dollars, rich Hollywood liberals will find a “signature pen” between their“non-GMO” tofu and their “organic” Chardonnay while they listen to Obama talk about the evils of financial inequality.

 But back to gridlock. Gridlock happens in Washington when Fox News has a majority in one house of Congress and the New York Times has a majority in the other. In the new Congress that takes over in January, Fox will have majorities in both houses but the New York Times will still control the White House, so grid lock will still be the way legislative business doesn’t get done.

 The list of important issues that qualify for gridlock is long.  There is tax reform, infrastructure rebuilding, immigration, Guantanamo
detainees, the Keystone pipeline and of course Obama’s “signature issue” ObamaCare.  Republicans want to change ObamaCare but whenever the word “ObamaCare” is uttered in the halls of Congress, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz pops up like the AFLAC Duck and starts quacking about repeal of the whole program.  This strategy is a perfect candidate for gridlock.  If Cruz actually got a repeal bill introduced in the Senate it would be filibustered to death by the Democrat minority.  Even if the Democrats were all away that day for election defeat group counseling and it passed, Obama would veto it. So what to do?  Republicans not from Texas want to chip away at various onerous provisions of ObamaCare like grief therapy for people who start to miss their favorite body parts after sex change operations (Sec. 2146 B.), or higher subsidies for the poor for emergency aroma therapy (Sec.3756 D.) To make these changes they would add amendments to important bills that the President won’t want to veto.  He’ll veto them anyway but at least gridlock will then be seen as his fault (except by the New York Times).

 Another issue that seems ripe for gridlock is the Keystone pipeline which would bring a bazillion and a half barrels of oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf coast.  President Obama has refused to make a decision on allowing the pipeline because he can’t decide whether to anger construction unions or environmentalists.  The debate is largely symbolic because the State Department has said it won’t cause any environmental damage or an increase in Left wing hysteria which is already at the top of the scale, and besides much of the pipeline is already in place.  Environmentalists who just don’t like all that nasty, black sticky stuff, want to spray-paint slogans on that part of the pipeline but the Canadians who own it have cleverly hidden it underground. The new Congress in January will probably pass a bill authorizing the remainder of the pipe line which will be gridlocked by a presidential veto.  A Democrat bill to pay for spray-paint, metal detectors, and pipeline sniffing Beagles for environmental groups will also probably be gridlocked.

 So for fans of gridlock, things look pretty good for the final two years of Obama’s White House golfing vacation and if someone with three names and a closet full of pant suits would happen to get elected president in 2016, gridlock could move to a whole new level.

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