BY CHARLEY MEMMINGER – Watching a lame duck Congress in action is more painful than watching a bear gnaw off his foot after getting caught in a steel trap.

Where are the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals when you need them?

This lame duck needs to be put out of its misery while there are still a few pennies left in the national till. Oops. Too late. The national till is as empty as Billy’s piggy bank after daddy goes on a meth bender.

We should have known we were in trouble when the Federal Reserve contracted with Parker Brothers to print up a trillion new hundred dollar bills and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving requested reams of pink, blue and yellow paper.

I think it’s manifestly unfair to equate the shocking spectacle of politicians gone mad in the waning days of their public duties with the plight of physically-impaired ducks. If any animal should be associated with the depraved activities of elected officials who suddenly find themselves off the public accountability leash it should be weasels. And not lame weasels either. Fully ambulatory weasels.

So how did ducks, generally admired as genial creatures who bring joy to those who see them floating placidly on ponds or steaming on platters with orange sauce, come to be affiliated with the bad behavior of politicians and civic officers soon to be without portfolio? It goes back to 18th century England when one broker at the London Stock Exchange referred to another who had defaulted on his debts as a “lame duck.” The conversation went something like this:

“You sir, are a scoundrel and a lame duck.”

“A lame what?”

“A lame duck, sir! A duck that has become incapable of waddling in a traditional duck-like fashion. A duck to be ostracized by his fellow able-bodied ducks. A duck not to be trusted in the company of unlame ducks.”

“But my good man, is not a lame duck a duck to be pitied? Is it not wrong to disparage one of God’s most inoffensive of creations. And a crippled one at that. Sir, have you no humanity?”

“You speak of humanity and yet you are in debt to the East India Company fourteen shillings, two sixpence and a farthing? I call you a duck, sir! A lame duck! And dare you to ask for satisfaction!”

The term “lame duck” eventually became associated with politics, referring to elected officials who, when thrown out of office, went on wild spending sprees before the parliamentary doors hit them on their butts on the way out. It is widely thought that the War of 1812 was the result of a strangely boozed-up lame duck session of the House of Lords since historians have been unable to find any reasonable explanation for that conflict.

The new United State’s government incorporated many of England’s traditional concepts of governance into its way of doing business including elements of the Magna Carta, the Articles of War and, curiously, the phrase “lame duck.”

Some of the founding fathers believed America should come up with its own defective fowl terminology and the delegates of the Second Continental Congress took to testing out various alternatives by calling each other “gimpy barn owls,” “beakless meadowlarks” and “flightless boobies.”  With just days running out before the Continental Congress was to adjourn and the distinguished members’ mistresses becoming increasingly impatient to be off to the Adirondacks, the body voted to use the term “Jive Turkey” to describe any outgoing president, congressman, judge, governmental body or annoying delegate (“We’re talking about you, Franklin.”)

The Jive Turkey Congress of 1777 reinstated the term “lame duck” with just three minutes remaining in the session.

The current lame duck session of Congress is the best example of how lame a lame duck session of Congress can be. A recent Gallup poll (and I’m not making this up) found that this Congress is officially the lamest duck Congress in the history of Gallup polling.  The poll found that 83 percent of the American people hate Congress’ guts. As of this writing, this lame duck Congress, with the support of President Obama, has approved 400 lapapaloozillian dollars of tax cuts, subsidies, fees, sweeteners, add-ons, pork, ribs, briskets, bribes, kickbacks and purchases.

In short – on a purely historical basis – this Congress is an embarrassment to physically defective water fowl everywhere.

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Charles Memminger is a national award-winning columnist, screenwriter and author. His first novel, "Aloha, Lady Blue" will be published nationally Jan. 22, 2013 by St. Martin's Press. Memminger is a senior writer at Communications Pacific, Hawaii's premier communications, marketing and PR firms. Memminger's commentary represents his personal views and are not affiliated with any organization. To keep up with developments regarding "Aloha, Lady Blue," like him at: http://www.facebook.com/charles.memminger. E-mail him at cmemminger@hawaii.rr.com