Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ala Carte PLEASE

Picture this:

You're a young man and you have been agonizing over asking out this beautiful lady.
You spend days, weeks, months hemming and hawing and acting like a fool just to get up enough nerve to call her.
Finally you take a deep breath and in a voice reminiscent of an Italian castrato you suggest a night out together.
Surprisingly she agrees and you literally melt with excitement.  Not thinking straight you forget your former frugal ways and reserve a table for two at a very expensive and exclusive restaurant.
The night comes and you escort your date to her seat.  You order the specialty of the house, a surf and turf delight to die for.
Out comes the wait staff and in synchronized motion BAM, they uncover the savory duo with a flair and a flick of the wrist.
But also on the plate and interspersed with your meal are some nachos, a side order of fried onion rings with ketchup, and a couple of Oreo cookies.
To make matters worse, if possible the entire dish is part of a package and you will be paying for all of it whether you like it or not.
You swallow your pride and the stew while simmering in anger.  Your date is not impressed.
The above scenario would never happen in a good restaurant, or most any restaurant for that matter but it happens regularly in a place that has raised the idea of combination plates to an art form; Congress!
The latest bitter pill to swallow comes in the form of a $500,000,000 side order of nachos tacked on to the long awaited and sought after, "Don't ask - Don't tell" repeal act.  The President has stated for a while that he will not sign a bill that has wasteful Defense spending attached.
This money is part of an amendment to be used in the continuing development an engine for a fighter jet that the Pentagon itself does not want or need.  In fact current Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated that he categorically does not want the engine.
Knowing that the President and Mr. Gates feel this strongly about the erroneous earmark there can be only two reasons for its appearance in the bill:
1 - Congress and all involved really don't want it to pass and needed some insurance that it would not - or
2 - Congress really is as stupid as many in America are starting to realize and cannot get out of their own way.
Many will argue that with so much to get done it is not possible for any singularly focused bill to come up for consideration, debate, and passage.  The sheer number of important issues demand package deals be made and strange bedfellows bunk up.
But if an issue is truly important should it not be considered on its own merits?
This beautiful lady has been waiting for the President to call for way too long.  She is dressed to the nines and starving for a wonderful meal.
Why ruin the night by asking if she'd like fries with that?

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