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Snow emerges, see?

BY BEAU ELLIOT | FEBRUARY 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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Snow, it seems, is general all over the country.

OK, I exaggerate a tad. It’s snowing here in Iowa, but as those of us who have lived a while in fly-over country know, Iowa is definitely the opposite of everywhere in this curious conglomeration we call a country. Which doesn’t make it nowhere, exactly (that’s along Interstate 80 in Nebraska, if you’re keeping score at home). But I can see nowhere from my porch — which isn’t quite like seeing Russia from my porch, but it will have to do until I move to Alaska, Sarah.

And, as we all know, it snowed in Washington, D.C. Two and a half feet, from what I hear. This in a town that can’t really handle 2 inches of snow — at least the kind that falls from the sky. Washington, of course, is far more accustomed to the type of snow emanating from the mouths of self-described saviors of the Republic. (Call me cynical, but I think if we had far fewer self-described saviors of the Republic, we wouldn’t have to worry about saving the Republic.)

The snow — the physical sort, not the wordy sort — basically shut down Washington. And when Washington shuts down, it seems as though snow is general all over the country.

Or maybe not. I am prone to exaggeration. (I blame it on my Irish genes, but my family members point out that they’re not so prone, so what’s up with that?) But if I’m being honest, I would have to admit that I didn’t notice that Washington had shut down.

But shut down it did, I have from good authority — NPR and the New York Times; you know, those traditional voices of liberal doom and gloom.

Gail Collins of the Times probably had the best line about the shutdown: “Washington was immobilized by snow on Friday [Feb. 5]. This is highly unusual. Normally, Washington is immobilized by senators.”

Ah, yes, the Senate. If you want a good time, you can do what I did: Open a copy of the Constitution and read Section 3 of Article 1 (OK, it’s not that good of a time, but at the moment, it seemed better than going out and shoveling the snow. I mean, you have your good times, and I have mine; that’s what makes this a Republic worth saving, not that I’m announcing any intention of doing so.):

“The Senate shall be composed of Senators from each State …” and blah, blah, blah. Nowhere in the section establishing the Senate did I find the word “filibuster” or, for that matter, the word “hold.”

Which are the two most important words when describing the Senate these days.

“Filibuster” we all know about, of course, because of the election of Republican Scott Brown and the loss of the Democrats’ filibuster-proof super majority. “Hold,” however, is more important to the way the Senate does business — or rather, doesn’t. Individual senators can put a “hold” on presidential nominations, which prevents the Senate from acting upon them.

As both Collins and Paul Krugman, also of the Times, point out, the nomination of Martha Johnson to head the General Services Administration (basically a facilities management and supply organization, and thus, seemingly, utterly noncontroversial) was put on hold by Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., because he wanted the federal government to OK a project in Kansas City.

Yes, Virginia, senators can do that. So they do. So Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., no doubt a defender of the Republic, has put a hold on some 70 Obama administration nominations — basically, all the ones outstanding. He wants a tanker contract to be awarded to Alabama and, for frosting, an FBI facility to be located in that state.

So you can understand Collins’ crack about snow and shutting down Washington.

If only they had snow shovels in the Senate.


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