Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Speaking of do nothing legislatures 

In recent days the Venezuelan opposition has been falling over itself complaining about the National Assembly in effect ceding most of its powers over to President Chavez through an enabling law. What do we even have a legislature for if they don't do anything they squeal? Seeing as our our opposition friends don't seem to have a grasp of these matters I'm going to be forced to post on this soon.

In the mean time though this related article from today's New York Times caught my eye:

Iraq Parliament Finds a Quorum Hard to Come By

BAGHDAD, Jan. 23 — Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, read a roll call of the 275 elected members with a goal of shaming the no-shows.

Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister? Absent, living in Amman and London. Adnan Pachachi, the octogenarian statesman? Also gone, in Abu Dhabi.

Others who failed to appear Monday included Saleh Mutlak, a senior Sunni legislator; several Shiites and Kurds; and Ayad al-Samaraei, chairman of the finance committee, whose absence led Mr. Mashhadani to ask: “When will he be back? After we approve the budget?”

It was a joke barbed with outrage. Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.

Of course, the Iraqi parlamentarians have an excuse for not showing up:

Some of Iraq’s more seasoned leaders say attendance has been undermined by a widening sense of disillusionment about Parliament’s ability to improve Iraqis’ daily life. The country’s dominant issue, security, is almost exclusively the policy realm of the American military and the office of the prime minister.


Party leaders in Baghdad said they had urged their members to attend but emphasized that for many, Parliament had become a hardship post. Representatives who travel from afar stay at the Rashid Hotel in the Green Zone, across a road, two checkpoints and several pat-downs from the 1970s-era convention center. It is not luxurious. It is barely safe. The food is mediocre.

Indeed, what is the point in showing up when the people calling the shots are the ones speaking english and carrying guns? Especially when the food isn't even any good.


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