By Tony Russell

I fear the vermin that shall undermine Senate and citadel and school and shrine— The Worm of Greed, the fatted Worm of Ease, And all the crawling progeny of these— The vermin that shall honeycomb the towers And walls of State in unsuspecting hours.

Edwin Markham, "I Fear for Thee, My Country," quoted by Sen. Robert Byrd in Losing America

by Sen. Robert Byrd in Losing America

In a development that came as no surprise to Washington insiders, Congressional leaders announced this morning that they would not be returning to the capital after the holiday recess.

Standing on the White House lawn and flanked by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert said, "It has become obvious over the past few years that three branches of government are at least one too many. The executive branch, led by this President, has proven itself willing and perfectly able to operate without input from the Congress." His next line drew good-natured laughs from reporters and White House staffers. "You have to know when it's time to go," he said. "Personally, I'd rather play a few rubbers of bridge than serve as a rubber stamp."

Speaking off the record, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) made the same point, though in blunter terms. "We give the thumbs up to whatever Bush and Rove want anyway, so what's the point of attending all these committee meetings, hearings, and sessions? I'd rather be watching NASCAR."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who earlier had said that he was not qualified to make a technical judgment as to whether disbanding Congress was "the appropriate step to take," said only that he was concerned whether needy members of Congress would still be able to draw a government check if they were no longer performing any work. He suggested that there might well be a legal distinction between simply not doing anything useful and officially shutting down a branch of government.

Senate leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn), noting that the President has taken upon himself the power to attack other nations at his will; the authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions; the ability to detain citizens without charge or legal representation for as long as he chooses; the right to spy on any American citizen he designates despite specific federal legislation forbidding it, and without seeking permission from the courts; and the power to torture at his discretion despite a Congressional prohibition of such acts, urged the federal judiciary to abolish itself as well.

Read more of Tony's article at readtonyrussell.blogspot.com

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