Congress: How Did Americans Like It Then?

The Russians I met back in 1965 on a study tour of the then Soviet Union may have had it right with their observation about the superiority of their legislature vs. Western legislatures, that one could tell simply by their names. Back then I heard from several Russian friends that while the British legislature is called parliament, from the French “to speak,” and the American legislature is called Congress, from the Latin “to congregate” (have a meeting, so to speak), the Russian legislature is the Duma, from the Russian verb “to think.”

Since I was a guest in their country at the time, and a polite guest by nature, I went along with their joke.

But recently I found in my book club’s monthly read a discussion about our Congress and how much Americans have more contempt than love for the institution. Those of us who haven’t made it our life’s work to ensure President Obama never hears a kind word are especially prone to view Congress as obstructionist. Witness the Senate’s refusal to even consider a Supreme Court nominee.

But the dismal amount of popularity for Congress isn’t exactly a new thing, and here is modest, historical proof, a ditty about the very first Congress, the Continental Congress of 1776:

“These hardy knaves and stupid fools, Some apish and pragmatic mules, Some servile acquiescing tools, These, these compose the Congress!

When Jove resolved to send a curse, And all the woes of life rehearse, Not plague, not famine, but much worse, He cursed us with a Congress.”

(Source: “A More Perfect Constitution, Larry J. Sabato, 2007, Walker Publishing, Chapter 1, Note 1. Quoted from the 1776 Pennsylvania Evening Post.)

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Puzzle Piece Pilferer?

Panda Elegance

Again, a missing piece. This time an edge, a corner of a thousand piece “Panda Elegance” jigsaw puzzle. (If I have succeeded in including a photo, check the lower left hand corner.)

Grrrr! Ahrgg!

We wonder whether the house is haunted. Or is there some creature that preys upon jigsaw puzzle persons, snatching a piece here, a piece there, and husstling off to a secret hideaway to add a piece to an ever growing pile hidden somewhere humans are not able to penetrate.

We have searched on our knees with flashlights, brooms, and those fiber duster things (available only from Publisher’s Clearing House for four easy payments of $3.95. You get one long, adjustable one and one short one). No luck. No missing pieces located.

Although we are embarassed to admit it, we carefully watch family and friends and other visitors, but are certain that none have slipped a piece or two into a purse or pocket. We wonder about motive, but suspect we do have the occasional visitor who might be gleeful to hear about our thousand piece puzzle with only nine hundred nintey-eight pieces.

What to do?

We are hopelessly addicted to puzzling and not likely to let our frustration prevent us from the stressless hours of assembling dazzling pictures from tiny pieces of cardboard.

The puzzle manufacturers include contact information and urge us to get in touch if we experience problems or would like to shower them with compliments. One even sent us another puzzle. A different puzzle, but we enjoyed assembling it until we discovered the replacement puzzle was missing more pieces than the original one…..

We’re looking into ways to make puzzle manufacturers great again.

Good grief.

George Washington on Political Parties

From President George Washington’s Farewell Address, referring to political parties:

“However combinations or associations of the above description (of political parties) may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Those Colonial graduates sure knew how to use the English language, and predict the possible dangers inherent in our political system…..