Saturday, 16 July 2011

Maybe I'm a little late to the party but..

I only just read this description of Congress, supposedly by Samuel Clemens. After seeing their actions over the past two years, I'm fully prepared to describe it as "accurate":

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. Simply suppose you were a member of Congress. And suppose you started-up what you believed to be your faculties, and worked out the draft of a law to cover the needs of some industry or other which you did not know anything about. What would you do with that draft - submit it to somebody who did know something about it, and get instruction and advice? Yes?

It is natural to think that; but the member of Congress proceeds differently. He drafts that law to cover a matter which he knows nothing about; he straightaway submits it to the National Asylum, who are similarly ignorant concerning the thing; they amend-out any accidental clearness or coherences which may have escaped notice; then they pass it, and it presently goes into effect. It goes into effect. and of course it begins to confuse and hamper interested parties, because they do not understand it. But this has been foreseen, and has also been provided for - in a most curious way. Each public department at Washington keeps a minor asylum of salaried inmates whose business it is to invent a meaning for laws that have no meaning; and to detect meanings, where any exist, and distort and confuse them. This process is called 'interpreting.' And sublime and awe-inspiring is this art."

Anyone know anything more about this passage? I'd love for it to actually be by Mr. Twain.

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