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January 5, 2013

Time to stop the stopwatch

NORMAN — You know those dopey, backtiming clocks the news channels put in the corner of the screen each time the nation is facing another contrived crisis?

We just watched them again, ominously ticking away the hours, minutes and seconds as our politicians lurched toward the fiscal cliff on New Year’s Day.

Of course, just past the nick of time, our fearful leaders managed to avert immediate disaster by agreeing to shove disagreement aside for a couple of months, when they see to it that the country’s well-being will once again be endangered.

Maybe we should just keep the clocks going down there with all the other distracting graphic garbage racing past the anchorperson. After all, there are only about 1,400 hours, X minutes and X seconds before we face a financial default, or those debilitating cuts.

So we need to know how far away our next national embarrassment is. Some might argue that our elected officials themselves are a national embarrassment, but unfortunately they have the power to cause some real damage.

And while we’re at it, perhaps we should add even more to the clutter on the screen with a second clock, one that would count the time remaining till the budget deal that funds all of the U.S. agencies runs out.

That’s right, we face another threat of a government shutdown at the end of March, 744 hours from debt ceiling zero hour. We need to know exactly how long we have between calamities. Surely there are some experts on Mayan chronology looking for work, since they blew it so badly on Doomsday.

Actually, with the start of a new Congress, the time has come for timeouts. Asystem must be established to discipline lawmakers who are behaving badly.

When a senator or representative says something that is destructively hostile or otherwise acts out, he or she must spend some Quiet Time.

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