Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Read The Bills Act!

Today I get to focus completely on the RTBA. This acronym actually reminds me of RTFM (Read The Fine Manual), which presents itself in technical circles, especially open source. RTBA is the Read The Bills Act, which, if passed, would require all legislation to be read aloud in Congress with a quorum present. We do not elect, nor pay for people to go to Washington and shirk their legislative responsibilities. If there is a person in Washington who believes that this act would place too much burden upon them, then I feel that should be a pleading case for us to remove them from office post-haste. Congress is already in session on such a light schedule (compared to the 40 hour work weeks that are a minimum for the majority of Americans), that actually requiring them to read, understand, and debate the legislation that they vote to pass doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

This matter is significant enough to me that I have joined the Read The Bills Act Coalition (as you can see at the bottom of my sidebar). I am also fortunate enough to have been mentioned in todays Dispatch. Welcome to anyone that decided to follow that link. I encourage everyone to put pressure on their congresspeople to hold themselves accountable and buck the common wisdom that politicians aren't interested in honesty, accountability, and transparency.

Here's the Dispatch for June 17th (Intellectual Splatter got linked!) --

SUBJECT: Is the "Read the Bills Act" Practical?

As we noted in our June 5 Dispatch, the "Climate Security Act" was actually read in the Senate chamber -- 500+ pages in ten hours. Also, on one April day, the Florida House of Representatives had 398 pages pages of legislation read aloud.

Both times, the minority party insisted the bills be read as a form of protest. But there's something revealing here about the practicality of the "Read the Bills Act" (RTBA).

Imagine if RTBA was in force, and stipulate the following . . .
  • It normally takes one hour to read a forty-page bill.
  • Each member of Congress has a copy of the bill, a high-lighter, a pen, and a notebook to jot down their questions and objections.
  • And let's also grant four hours for debate and votes on amendments for every one hour of reading. That's five hours to finalize a forty-page bill.
This would leave plenty of time for meetings, final votes on bills from the previous week, and other business. That evening, Congressional clerks could post the bill on the Internet. Interested citizens could read it and contact their representatives with feedback. Seven days later, Congress could vote.

Assuming Congress meets for 200 days a year, the above scenario would allow them to pass 8,000 pages of legislation quite easily.

Keep in mind, we at Downsize DC don't want Congress to pass this much legislation. But, contrary to what some in Congress claim, they could still pass a lot of laws under the "Read the Bills Act." Indeed, the changes to the process would be all for the better . . .

  • There would be increased pressure on Congressional committees to write short, understandable bills. For instance, large Cabinet Departments wouldn't need to be funded in one bill; separate agencies could be funded in separate bills
  • Many bills are uncontroversial and wouldn't need much debate; even so, reading them aloud would allow Congress to spot errors
  • Peer pressure would limit the addition of amendments on unrelated subjects
  • Members of Congress (and the public) would have the chance to expose and remove wasteful and unwanted earmarks
  • And the same could be done with other hidden, dangerous, and harmful provisions
  • Urgent, high-priority bills would come first
Please tell your Representative and Senators to introduce the Read the Bills Act.

In your personal comments, tell them that the RTBA gives Congress plenty of time to pass needed legislation -- perhaps as much as 8,000 pages a year, plus the bills would be simpler, cleaner, and better than they are now. You send your message here.

In addition, we invite you to help spread the word about RTBA by joining the "Read the Bills Act Coalition." You help spread the word about the RTBA, and we'll spread the word about you, linking to your site on our blog. Details are here.

This week, we welcome four new members to the Coalition.

Intellectual Splatter
Debt Sucks
Call of God
Spotlight Radio

Over the past two weeks the House passed 35 bills totaling 503 pages, and the Senate passed 7 bills amounting to 1863 pages. A list of their bills, and their length, can be found in the blog version of this Dispatch.


Here's the text of my note to Senator Bond, Senator McCaskill, and Representative Blunt --

Congress needs to start reading the laws it passes. Please introduce DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act." I know you have the power to introduce this legislation on your own, without waiting for anyone else. I urge you to do so. This is a much-needed, common sense reform. I can see no justification for not introducing it. I'm telling my friends about it, and I look forward to hearing that you've introduced it. You can find the text of the legislation here: http://www.downsizedc.org/rtba_legislation.shtml

My personal comment to you:

As a member of the Read the Bills Act Coalition, I urge you to consider this legislation on its merits of accountability, transparency, and honesty. As a member of Congress, you should be more than willing to bring these principles to bear upon the legislation that you participate in passing. You should not be willing to vote for bills that you have not read, nor should you be willing to vote for bills that have not been available to be read by the public. This is a direct non-partisan call for you to stand for clean policies that encourage citizen participation. Please support the Read The Bills Act today.

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Habeas Corpus -- Not just for Liberal Whiners

I have trouble understanding how anyone could be opposed to habeas corpus for any human being. If the case for detaining someone is so weak that a judge would refuse the imprisonment, then that person should not be allowed to be held. If the evidence against a person is of such a secret and sensitive nature that the media cannot have access to it, then so be it. A court appearance can still be made with only the judge, the prosecution, the defense, and the detainee. Everyone should have this right. Holding people without evidence, or without charges is unacceptable by a free nation, no matter where the detainees are held, or from what nation they come.

Freedom has a price, and I'm willing to stand in the face of terrorists and tell them that they may kill me or my family, but they cannot take my freedom from me. The United States Government is not protecting us from terrorism by eroding freedom, they are perpetuating the terrorists' goals. I cannot condone the destruction of freedom in return for a slave's life.

This should not be confused with sympathy for terrorists, or agreement with anyone's cause. Abuse of liberty by the government must be opposed by all who expect to be free tomorrow. I'm not fighting for any individual person here, because there are certainly people that deserve to have their freedom taken away. I'm standing up and demanding that the court have the opportunity to review the evidence. We cannot stand for perpetual war, and we must demand that our nation holds liberty and justice as the high standard when dealing with all peoples.

Freedom is a high and lofty standard, and it comes with hard decisions. Granting the Government the ability to take away someone else's rights without due process inherently erodes your own rights. You may be the minority that is unjustly accused of the same crime tomorrow.

Here's the Downsizer Dispatch for June 16th --

Subject: Good news sparks more fear mongering

On Thursday, June 12, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling restoring the writ of habeas corpus. Those being held as suspected terrorists should now be able to challenge their detentions in a court of law, as our Constitution requires.

This is good news! The Judicial Branch has moved to block the overreaching power of the Executive Branch. This means America's system of "checks and balances" still has some life! But more must be done to restore and preserve the rule of law. We must . . .
  • Continue to use our right to "petition Congress for a redress of grievances"
  • Compel the Legislative Branch to deny the Executive Branch the power to spy on Americans without a warrant
  • Ensure that both the Executive and Judicial branches execute the laws of the land
This means . . .
  • The lawsuits against the telecom companies that aided the President's warrantless spying must have their day in court -- no immunity for the telecoms!
  • Congress must block the President's relentless drive for "legalized" warrantless spying powers -- the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must NOT be replaced.
To accomplish these goals we must overcome the fear-mongering propaganda of those who favor unchecked presidential power.
  • On last Friday's Bill O'Reilly show Laura Ingraham claimed that the habeas decision would result in the release of vast numbers of terrorists
Both of these claims are dishonest. Here's the truth . . .
  • The right of habeas corpus is the right to challenge a detention in court, not a guarantee that anyone accused of terrorist actions will actually be released -- no one will be released if the government has solid legal grounds for detaining them.
  • Back in February, before the Protect America Act expired, the Executive Branch had the power to renew surveillance warrants for 12 months. If any surveillance actually lapses in August (and we have no way of knowing if that's true), it will be because the Bush administration failed to renew their so-called warrants for 12 months -- perhaps so that they could make this a campaign issue.
We must continue to resist this kind of fear mongering, and give Congress the courage to do the same. We must maintain our drumbeat of opposition to replacing FISA with so-called compromise legislation that grants telecom immunity and legalizes warrantless spying. Send Congress a message opposing immunity and any replacement for FISA.

Use your personal comments to tell Congress that you know the Bush administration is using fraudulent scare tactics to win immunity for the telecom companies and to "legalize" warrantless spying.

Because of this dispatch I sent the following to my congresspeople --

I'm suspicious about the need for a restored or revised Protect America Act, and completely opposed to Telecom Immunity.

My personal comment to you:

The compromise legislation proposed by Senator Bond is unacceptable. I've written on this matter fairly frequently because we cannot allow the Executive Branch to bypass Constitutional Checks and Balances on any issue, no matter which party holds the office. Please oppose any version of the Protect America Act or any legislation that grants the President warrantless surveillance.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

The Revolution Continues

Today (Thursday, June 12) the Ron Paul Presidential campaign ended. That, is the bad news. The good news is that the Revolution Continues as the Campaign For Liberty! This new phase in the Revolution frees up the organization to work with the volunteers to elect City, County, State, and U.S. Congressional candidates that support our platform.

Someone that is by all counts a Ron Paul Republican is Jeremy Cady. The Campaign for Liberty will be capable of identifying, spreading the word, and hopefully helping fill the campaign coffers for these bona fide Revolutionaries.

One of the things that is in the works is a sort of scorecard system so that we can educate the voters about the various candidates that will be up for votes in the primaries that are coming up on August 5th. There is plenty more to talk about, but I'm headed to bed.

There is much to be excited about! The Revolution Continues, even if Ron Paul isn't going to be our President.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Iraqi Citizens - Do they get a say?

This week has been all about foreign policy in the Downsizer world. This is absolutely the most contentious subject that I have any difference with my fellow conservatives and Republicans. I happen to agree with Ron Paul on this issue though. There are two overarching concerns that drive me on Foreign Policy.


  1. Economic Stability - We cannot continue to spend our grandchildren's money propping up the economies around the world. We are going to have to maintain a very strong military without the foreign bases and the stationing of troops all over the world. With our Air Force and Navy (which should remain VERY strong) we can mobilize our forces anywhere on the globe in rapid enough fashion to have overwhelming force deployed faster than any nation would risk. We don't need troops living in foreign countries. This isn't just about military spending, it's also about Foreign Aid.

  2. Executive Power - The balance of power issue has been building since the Civil War, and especially since the second World War. I mentioned this in a comment on my previous post, but it's a very significant issue. The President should not have the power to enter our nation into military conflict with any nation ever. This power is reserved to Congress. The Constitution was structured to prevent King-like powers from being used by the President. The Judicial branch is trying to legislate from the bench and using who knows what definition of the Constitution to rule. The Legislative branch is too busy spending money we don't have to buy votes and win elections. We cannot allow the office of the President to continue to wield such great power.


With that, we come to today's Dispatch. I agree particularly with the article from Reason Magazine that we should be supportive of the effort to take a vote by the Iraqi people on whether occupation forces should remain. Any clear message from that type of vote would assist our country in knowing what we should do. Here's what the Downsizer Dispatch has to say -


Subject: Support an Iraqi referendum on the occupation

Headlines across America screamed the news this week. The U.S. government is seeking 58 permanent military bases in Iraq.

Is this what you want? It certainly seems to NOT be what the Iraqi people want, given the violent protests it has provoked.

President Bush thinks U.S. military personnel should stay in Iraq for decades, the way they have in Korea. John McCain says he's willing for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq for one hundred years, assuming, he says, that there's no violence. But if Iraq becomes peaceful, why would U.S. forces even be needed?

Shouldn't we finally, at long last, ask the Iraqi people what they want?

ABC News polled Iraqis in September of 2007. It found that 79% oppose the occupation, including 80% of Shiites, and 95% of Sunnis.

Another poll conducted in February, 2008, shows that 77% of Iraqis remain opposed to the U.S. occupation, including 77% of Shiites and 95% percent of Sunnis.

We are continually told that we must stay in Iraq to prevent a sectarian blood bath. But the Iraqi people don't seem to share this fear, and perhaps with good reason. A study of violent attacks in Iraq indicates that the sectarian violence has largely subsided, and that most of the remaining violence is directed at the occupation, and at government officials who are perceived to be collaborating with US. forces.

This would seem to indicate that violence in Iraq could dwindle away to nothing, if only we would leave.

Of course, no one can guarantee what will happen if U.S. forces depart. But the same is true for the opposite position. It's possible the violence will continue precisely because the occupation continues.

It's time to cut through the pointless, circular debate. It's time to ask the Iraqi people what they want, NOT what U.S. politicians want, and NOT even what the Iraqi government wants. Instead, we should request that the Iraqi people be allowed to decide for themselves. Didn't President Bush say he wanted democracy for Iraq?

If you agree with this idea, please send Congress a message. Tell Congress to pass a resolution asking the Iraqi government to hold a public referendum on whether or not the U.S. occupation should continue. You can send that message here.


I contacted my congresspeople as follows -

Please pass a resolution asking the Iraqi government to hold a public
referendum on whether or not the U.S. occupation should continue.
My personal comment to you:

The concept of a vote by the Iraqi people to determine whether we stay
or go has great merit. Please support or propose a resolution that
asks the Iraqi government to hold such a vote.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Iran -- Is Diplomacy an Option?

I happen to agree with Ron Paul on the issue of Foreign Policy. The biggest issue we face is the decay of the Balance of Power in Washington DC. The Executive Branch is wielding new powers against foreign nations, foreign citizens, and unfortunately, United States Citizens as well. Since the nation frequently swings left and right, I feel that we should determine the limits of the Executive branch as if the most heinous President imaginable was sitting in the office. On that footing, I object to the Executive Branch being capable of enlarging or initiating any military conflict anywhere in the world ever. For me at least, this isn't particularly about how the current President has handled Foreign Policy, it's about the precedents it sets. I don't think that if we secured our borders and took a more benevolent, free trading stance, that Iran could do much other than blow smoke.

Subject: Tell Congress You Want Direct Dialogue -- Not War with Iran

DownsizeDC.org is one of about 35 organizations participating in a "National Call-In Day on Iran" that will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10th.

This is a major national campaign, with press events and photo ops. Details about tomorrow's events are available at the coalition website NewIranPolicy.org.

The same people who called for attacking Iraq, based on faulty intelligence, are now raising the drumbeat for military action against Iran. Despite the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration is, once again, making a case for war.

As with Iraq they are claiming that Iran is a huge threat to American security.

We believe bombing Iran would bring disastrous consequences.

  • Such an attack will increase the chance of terrorist blow-back on U.S. territory
  • The entire Middle East could descend into further violence putting the well-being of innumerable civilians at risk
  • U.S. standing in the world would plummet once again, and oil prices would likely soar
  • A U.S. attack would strengthen hardliners in Iran, and turn the Iranian people, who are now pro-American, against us
Current U.S. foreign policy is not working. Threats of military attacks and regime change, and a refusal to talk with Iran until they stop enriching uranium -- something Iran is allowed to do for peaceful purposes under international agreements -- is a prescription for heightened tensions, and worse. Such a policy could lead to full-scale war, and as we know, "War is the health of the State" -- the ultimate Big Government program.

We want you to take two actions - one today; one tomorrow . . .

First, go to DownsizeDC.org and send a message asking for Congressional action to prevent an un-authorized attack on Iran by President Bush.

Then, join thousands of individuals from our coalition partners and call your Congressional Representatives on Tuesday, June 10th. Our coalition has created a telephone number specifically for this purpose -- 1-800-788-9372

Tomorrow, when you make your phone call, tell members of Congress that . . .

  • We need direct, comprehensive talks, without preconditions, between the U.S. and Iran
  • The U.S. and Iran share common interests in a stable Iraq and Afghanistan
  • The U.S. pursued successful negotiations with North Korea and Libya, and it's time to talk with Iran too
Tell your Congressional leaders that you want dialogue -- not war!

So, please send a message today using our online system.


Then, please participate in the "National Call-In Day for Dialogue with Iran" tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10th. This campaign will be sponsored by a coalition group of which DownsizeDC.org is a member: The Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran.

This is a huge coalition, so you won't be alone when sending your message and making your phone call. Numbers Matter. God tends to be on the side of the bigger battalions. This is your chance to be on the side of a bigger battalion. And we thank you for being a part of our growing Downsize DC army.


So here's what I told my Congresspeople --

Please pass legislation denying President Bush the authority to attack Iran.

My personal comment to you:

Use the proper Constitutional Checks and Balances to prevent the Executive Branch from leading this country further into war. If there is a nation that is a clear and present danger to this nation and to the world, then declare war Constitutionally so that we may take the full force of our nation into the conflict.

It is not acceptable to allow the Executive branch to take this nation's armed forces into conflict under any other context, including United Nations resolutions.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Dispatch (June 8, 2008)

Not sure if I'll post these regularly, but today's broadcast sounds like a fairly good one.
On today's Downsize DC Conference Call (2-hour radio show), which starts at 3:06 PM Eastern (2:06 PM Central, 1:06 PM Mountain, and 12:06 PM Pacific) I'll be joined by a candidate for Congress who pledges to sponsor (or co-sponsor, as the case may require) . . .

* The Read the Bills Act
* The One Subject at a Time Act
* The Write the Laws Act
* The Enumerated Powers Act

His name is B.J. Lawson and he's running in the 4th district in North Carolina. Yeah, a candidate. So what's special about B.J.?

* He's an MD and built a very successful, medical software business.
* He won the Republican primary with 71% of the vote.
* His campaign has already raised and received more than $120,000.
* He's a DC Downsizer.

Those are the first steps to victory. And though I'm anti-partisan and I believe a movement to really Downsize DC is still too young to think about electoral campaigns -- we are, after all, in the early stages of building an army -- I found B.J.'s campaign story and progress compelling. I believe you're going to want to hear it.

Also, I'll be joined by Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, who is coordinating a broad coalition of notable individuals and organizations that includes show sponsor DownsizeDC.org. Carah will tell us about the National Call-In Day for Diplomacy with Iran.

Of course, I'll also have an update from my other show sponsor, Gun Owners of America.

Here's how you can participate . . .

Toll-free 1-800-259-9231, or type this address to email me, "CALL at DOWNSIZEDC dot ORG" (we don't provide a link to this address to keep spam harvesters from easily acquiring it; emails to other addresses, including just hitting Reply to this Dispatch, won't make it to me by show time).

You can HEAR THE SHOW LIVE ONLINE at gcnlive.com/Listen_Live.html

Or you can TUNE IN to one of these stations . . .

* WCER 900-AM Canton, Ohio
* WBCR 1470-AM Maryville, Tennessee
* KLID 1340-AM, Poplar Bluff, Missouri
* KGEZ 600-AM, Great Falls, Montana

And if for some reason you can't catch the live show, my network, Genesis Communications provides a podcast of the show, available a couple of hours after it goes off air, up through the next broadcast.

If you have technical issues with the podcast, please contact the webmaster at GCNLive.com, directly.
From the perspective of this Ron Paul Republican, B.J. Lawson needs our support to win in North Carolina's 4th district.

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Bill Titles and Reality

Hopefully my one reader already knew this, but Congress constantly plays the misleading game of having pleasantly titled bills that make people want them passed, but hiding deep within excessive pages of bureaucracy the snakes that bite us as citizens. Not only do they misleadingly name horrible bills to get them to pass (The PATRIOT Act, Protect America Act, Climate Security Act), they also cram in completely unrelated legislation that clearly couldn't pass on its own merits. REAL ID didn't pass under its own bill, and in fact it was defeated when proposed on its own merits. It only passed when slammed into a must pass bill.

The Downsizer Dispatch for June 6th has more -

Subject: Unrelated bills rolled into one

H.R. 2642 was introduced in June, 2007 to finance military construction and Veterans Affairs. Since then, Congress has added 230 pages of amendments to what was once a 50-page bill. Among the additions is the "Iraq Supplemental" to fund the the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

H.R. 2642 is bad, but it could have been worse . . .

Two weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to add a 100-page amendment granting amnesty to over a million illegal immigrant farm workers. However, Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez raised a point of order against the amendment, and Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to remove it.

Perhaps they remembered the backlash when Congress added the REAL ID Act to the Iraq Supplemental in 2005. Perhaps they're feeling pressure to pass the One Subject At A Time Act (OSTA) and know that adding an unpopular amnesty bill into the Iraq Supplemental would only intensify calls to pass OSTA.

In any case, H.R. 2642 still contains numerous unrelated provisions:

  • "Emergency" funds for the FBI, BAFTE, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, and many other federal agencies
  • Additional funds for Katrina recovery and other disaster relief
  • A waiver of certain sanctions against North Korea
  • A study on the effect of the minimum wage on the Northern Mariana Islands
  • A law against unemployment insurance fraud
  • A requirement for states to implement an "asset verification program" for individuals seeking medical assistance
  • And dozens of other provisions unrelated to Defense or Veterans Affairs.
Congress normally passes several short, one-subject bills every week, so why couldn't they have voted on the above provisions as separate bills too? Possible answers include . . .

1. The provisions couldn't pass if voted on separately
2. Congress didn't want to give them due consideration

Sadly, all these unrelated provisions add up. According to Washington Watch, H.R. 2642 is going to cost the average American family almost $1,700.

Tell Congress they were right to pull amnesty out of the Iraq Supplemental. But tell them they shouldn't throw so many unrelated laws and spending programs into one bill. Tell them this undermines America's faith in Congress and is costly to taxpayers. Tell them to strip H.R. 2642 down to one subject, or vote against it. And tell them to pass Downsize DC's One Subject At A Time Act. You can do so here.


I wouldn't blog about it if I hadn't harassed my Congresspeople, and here's what I said -

Please introduce DownsizeDC.org's "One Subject at a Time Act" (OSTA). You can find the text of the legislation here:
http://www.downsizedc.org/osta-legislation.shtml

My personal comment to you:

Having no law at all is better than having bad laws. We encourage you to have the fortitude to let legislation fail, or to improve through the process and not tack unrelated bills on as amendments to things that will pass.

Please stand strong and fight against this duplicitous practice of sneaking bills that cannot pass on their own into other more popular bills.

We want legislation from legislators that don't try to pull a fast one on the American Public. That's exactly what is happening routinely in the halls of Congress. HR 2642 is currently being loaded up. I'll be watching for you to propose the striking of amendments from that bill and calling the bill to a vote with only one purpose left on the bill.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Powerful Entertainment

OK, my subject is sarcasm. I couldn't leave that one hanging even for a moment. The Senate rang out with the voice of boredom. The legislation that they are trying to foist upon we the people was read aloud while very few Senators bothered to grace the chamber with their presence.

If you are an unfortunate reader of my blog, you've been seeing that I'm taking the approach of sharing with you the Downsizer Dispatch. This organization (Downsize DC) has been doing the hard work of watching Congress like a hawk and has been coordinating its members to send messages to their Representative and Senators on given days. I invite you to become a member of the Downsize DC army, and barrage our congress people with messages about the reduction of the size of the Federal Government. One of the things that is excellent about Downsize DC is that they don't presume to speak for you on anything. They provide you the facility to take action, but they do not take the action for you. They merely suggest what you should talk about on a given day, and you have the choice to participate in each day's campaign or not.

One of the things that Springfield area Ron Paul Revolution members are talking about is bringing the Downsize DC concept to Missouri. It has been proposed that we create a Downsize Jeff City organization that seeks to coordinate in the same way by watching our Jefferson City representatives like hawks and encouraging them to reduce the size of our State government. I'll definitely keep my one reader posted on how this progresses (yes, that means I'm talking to myself here, please prove me wrong if you feel that my information is worth anything).

For now, here's the text of the June 5th Downsizer Dispatch -

Subject: The Senate read the bill!

Something incredible happened last night. The U.S. Senate actually read the so-called "Climate Security Act" and a substitute amendment -- out loud, word for word.

500+ pages. 10 hours to read!

This legislation, which would impose a huge tax and regulatory system on all carbon emissions, is about 300 pages long. Congress constantly passes bills this large, or larger, without reading them. If it took 10 hours to read this one bill, just imagine what would happen if they had to read ALL their bills.

The pace of legislation, and the growth of government, would slow down. It might even be possible for a citizen group (like DownsizeDC.org), or a reporter, or a talk-show host, or even just an ordinary citizen, to keep up with all the things Congress is doing.

For the very few people who oppose DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act" (in our experience, that's not even one out of every ten people who hear about it) this would be a bad thing. These people think we need more government, even if it must come at the cost of passing legislation that the members of Congress haven't read, let alone understood.

We think this is irresponsible. Remember, Congress may not have to read a bill, or really understand it. But YOU will have to bear the burden of obeying every word of it!

In the case of the "cap and trade" bill, U.S. companies will have to hire thousands of lawyers to do their own 100-hour (or more) readings of this legislation (because unlike Congress, they will actually have to understand how to obey it). Compliance will cost billions of dollars. That cost will be passed on to you, the consumer, as will the tax that companies must pay to buy their carbon emission permits.

But it doesn't end there.

The way the government works today legislation is just the starting point for the creation of rules. Once something like the "cap and trade" bill is passed the federal bureaucracy then goes to work creating specific regulations to execute the legislation.

This means billions more will be spent on more lawyers to read, understand, and comply with these regulations. And you will pay for all of this too. Unelected bureaucrats shouldn't be able to burden the public with more laws. That's why we also need to pass the Write the Laws Act.

Some people say it's unreasonable to expect Congress to read all of its legislation, but . . .

Could YOU get away with violating a law because you felt it was unreasonable for the government to expect you to read, understand, and comply with all their huge legislation and bureaucratic rules?

Of course not. If you must bear the burden (in time and higher prices and worry that you're not running afoul of some crazy rule) THEN SO SHOULD THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!

One Congressman has called the "Read the Bills Act" a gimmick. But the real gimmick was what happened in the Senate last night. The "cap and trade" bill was read out loud NOT so that the members of Congress could know what they were being asked to pass, but because the Republicans wanted to slow things down to make a point about how judicial nominations are being handled by the Democrats.

ALMOST NO SENATORS WERE IN THE ROOM TO HEAR THE BILL BEING READ!

For us, the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT a gimmick. It's an essential requirement for responsible representative government. For us, the very most important feature of the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT . . .

* The 7-day waiting period before a vote can be held. Yes, it's a great idea. It gives citizen-action groups time to organize opposition at the moment of highest public interest in a bill. But the "cap and trade" bill will be just as bad if they pass it 7 days from now.
* The requirement that members of Congress sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that they have read a bill. That is also important, but secondary.

Both of these features are valuable and helpful. They make the bill complete. But they are not the true key to bringing about responsible government. Instead, the most important aspect of the "Read the Bills Act" is forcing the members of each chamber of Congress to SIT through and LISTEN to a full reading of each bill before a vote can be held.

This, and only this, can bring about real change in how our government operates, because this is the ONLY feature of the "Read the Bills Act" that compels the politicians to pay a PERSONAL PRICE for the burdens they seek to impose on the American people. This feature, and only this feature, will . . .

* Make sure that most members of Congress have an informed idea of what it is they are passing.
* Make Congress prioritize, instead of simply enacting every wild idea that strikes their collective fancy (and that's what they do now because they don't have to pause and read the bill out loud, word for word, on the floor, before voting).
* Make bills shorter, and more understandable, so that Congress can endure the fatigue of hearing them read.

The "Read the Bills Act," as we have constructed it, would bring about real, meaningful reform. It would go a long way toward protecting us from 300-page monstrosities like the so-called "Climate Security Act." But . . .

Until the "Read the Bills Act" passes the only protection we have is YOU, and the work you do through DownsizeDC.org. DC Downsizers have bombarded Congress with more than 5,000 messages opposing the "Climate Security Act." But more is needed. If you haven't yet sent a message on this issue, please do so now. You can do so here.

Or, if you have sent a message, please send another one in support of the "Read the Bills Act." Use your personal comments to take note of the 10-hour reading that took place last night. Tell them you oppose the "Climate Security Act," and support the "Read the Bills Act" as a way to protect the American people against irresponsible legislation. You can send that message here.

Since I had already spoken to the "Climate Security Act", I wrote my Congresspeople about the "Read The Bills Act" (please click the banner on the far right if you want to read more about it) -

Congress needs to start reading the laws it passes. Please introduce DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act." I know you have the power to introduce this legislation on your own, without waiting for anyone else. I urge you to do so. This is a much-needed, common sense reform. I can see no justification for not introducing it. I'm telling my friends about it, and I look forward to hearing that you've introduced it. You can find the text of the legislation here:
http://www.downsizedc.org/rtba_legislation.shtml

My personal comment to you:

It is good news in my opinion that the Senate read aloud the Climate Security Act. Were you present? Did you have a staff member present? The Read the Bills Act would require accountability on your part so that you cannot be asked to take votes on legislation that you haven't read and understood. We need you to take your responsibilities seriously, and consider the burdens you are placing upon the American public. Every law has to be read and understood so that we can comply with it. Obscure and voluminous legislation and bureaucracy does nothing but ensure that there are no law abiding citizens left because we cannot live without falling prey to the massive encroachment of these laws.

Please work to reduce the size and scope of the Federal Government. Start by bringing forward or cosponsoring the Read The Bills Act.

Thank you for your service to our country and our state.


Thank you to my one reader for reading this important information. I hope that I have provided it in a way that is helpful in making us all more capable of being self governing.

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Regulation Excess

Why does the government continue to believe that it has the right to control the ins and outs of our economy or our lives? During the previous Downsizer Dispatch we learned that the Senate was marching towards our destruction by trying to pass a Cap and Trade bill that would allow IRS like control over every business and every individual in the entire nation. How can we possibly allow this type of an invasion to occur?

Here's the text from the June 4th Downsizer Dispatch -

Subject: Regulating your gas stove

Notice the last words in our quote of the day: "gas stove." This gives you a good idea of how far-reaching and intrusive the so-called "Climate Security Act" could be. In the short run it may only regulate fossil fuels at their source. In the long-run the regulations are likely to extend to every aspect of life, from the large to the small.

Notice also the name of the bill, and its use of the word "security." This name reflects the politician's standard operating procedure. First they incite fear, and then they promise security. It would have been more honest to call it something straightforward, like the "Anti-Global Warming Act."

More honest still would be something like the "Total Control Act." If the government must sell, and you must buy, an emission permit for your gas stove, or your lawn mower, and perhaps your fireplace too, then we are very close to a state of total government control over the economy.

Is this hyperbole? Possibly, but probably not. The bill is 344 pages long, and you can bet that almost no one in the Senate has actually read it. Later, unelected bureaucrats will craft many hundreds or thousands of additional pages to establish specific regulations.

Still more trees will be killed to add even more pages in the years to come, as exceptions and new restrictions are added to completely unrelated bills, and passed without deliberation. The pages of regulations will grow to keep pace with this.

At every step of the way lobbyists will be meeting with Congressional staffs, seeking special provisions that will benefit them, and/or hurt their competitors. Many politicians will work to provide these favors with an eye toward future positions on boards of directors, or million dollar lobbying contracts with this or that carbon emitting industry. This could explain part of why so many politicians favor the complexity of "cap and trade" over the relative simplicity of a carbon tax (combined with tax cuts in other areas).

Are we saying that a carbon tax wouldn't be subject to the buying and selling of exceptions? No, it would be. But the complexity of "cap and trade" makes it far, far more suitable to the purpose of selling favors -- in large part because it would be much harder to detect favoritism in a complex, bureaucratic "cap and trade" scheme, then it would be in a simpler carbon tax plan.

Sadly, this issue isn't going to go away any time soon. All of the major party presidential candidates favor "cap and trade," so we're going to have to fight this for a long time. We took a big step in that direction yesterday, sending nearly 4,000 messages to Congress.

If you haven't yet sent a message against "cap and trade," you can do so here.

If you did send a message yesterday, we still need to keep reminding Congress that we do NOT want a bill permitting warrantless spying, and granting immunity to the telecoms that participated in previous warrantless spying. It would be very helpful if you would send a message on that subject today. You can do so here.


Since I had already sent a message about the Cap and Trade horror, I took action on the warrantless spying initiative -

I'm suspicious about the need for a restored or revised Protect America Act, and completely opposed to Telecom Immunity.

My personal comment to you:

The citizens of Missouri do not want warrant-less spying on anyone, especially not if citizens are coincidentally spied upon. FISA is already strong enough. Keep the Executive Branch going to the secret courts and getting the rubber stamp.

Furthermore, it is completely unacceptable that the companies that allowed the Executive Branch to bully them in to breaking the law should be given immunity. The Executive Branch is NOT ABOVE THE LAW. Consider that in the light of some other administration, not the current one. Would you have proposed laws in the Clinton administration that offered this kind of protection?

If you put party above the Constitutional Separation of Powers, we the Citizens will put the Constitution above you.


Well, I hope that doesn't sound like a threat to the persons that serve us in the U.S. Congress. I would never dream of being associated with anything that really threatened anyone with physical or emotional harm. However, I am strongly against supporting the continuation in office of our representatives that do not take their oath to the Constitution seriously. We have plenty of people ready to step up and take a faithful approach to the Constitutional service that our Congress is called to perform. If the ones in office won't live up to it, we will find and vote for someone that will.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cap and Trade

Pollution alone is an issue that is difficult to solve, and it's only a subset of the whole Environment issue. As Americans, we don't like to be told how to live, what cars to drive, what temperature to keep our house, etc. However, Congress is trying to tell us anyway...

The Downsizer Dispatch for June 3rd -

Subject: Urgent danger from "cap and trade" bill in the Senate

The U.S. Senate is debating a bill to impose a "cap and trade" system on the U.S. economy. This bill, S. 3036, the "Climate Security Act" would . . .
  • Place a cap on the level of CO2 emissions
  • Sell permits to businesses that would allow them to emit CO2 in amounts equal to the cap
  • Allow businesses to trade and/or sell these permits to each other -- allegedly creating a market to encourage innovations that would reduce CO2 emissions
  • Use the proceeds from the sale of these permits to create a vast new research bureaucracy designed to help corporations cope with the cap
As a practical matter, S. 3036 will . . .
  • Raise your electricity and gasoline bills
  • Provide politicians with new tools to control the economy, hand out favors, and punish enemies
  • Be as ineffective in doing "research" as the Energy Department has been
  • Probably (if the example of Europe is a reliable guide) have little impact on the over-all level of CO2 emissions
Even if you accept that human CO2 emissions are causing problematic global warming, a government run "cap and trade" system is not the way to deal with this problem. There is a better way. Here are some points to consider . . .
  • Fossil fuels create massive amounts of air pollution, quite apart from CO2.
  • This pollution causes massive health problems, none of which are reflected in the price of fossil fuels.
  • Fossil fuels enjoy a "free ride" in terms of pollution costs that make it hard for alternative sources of energy to compete.
  • Air pollution is a form of trespass, and a case can certainly be made that dealing with such trespasses is a legitimate function of government.
The federal government could do this by . . .
  • Taxing fossil fuels
  • Cutting other taxes so that your overall financial burden would remain unchanged
Your energy costs would rise, but your taxes would fall by an equal amount. Doing this would . . .
  • Eliminate the justification for a "cap and trade" boondoggle
  • Make fossil fuels reflect more of their true costs
  • Provide an incentive for everyone to reduce their use of fossil fuels
  • Make other sources of energy cost competitive
  • Limit the financial impact on you and the economy
  • Help reduce air pollution, including CO2 emissions
We know that most Americans are concerned about pollution and the environment, and for those who feel this way, a carbon tax combined with tax cuts in other areas would be a better approach. But THIS CAMPAIGN is about stopping the "cap and trade" boondoggle, because if you really care about the environment, this proposal has only symbolic value.

Please send Congress a message opposing the so-called "Climate Security Act," and all other "cap and trade" schemes.
So I told Roy Blunt, Kit Bond, and Claire McCaskill what I thought about it -

I oppose S. 2191, the "Climate Security Act."

My personal comment to you:

There are far better ways for the Government to encourage reduction in pollution. I don't want the Government to manage pollution.
I do not oppose on grounds that I feel that pollution is good, or that we should go around polluting to our hearts content and everyone else be damned. I oppose the government creating a system by which they can play favorites and entangle us all deeper into the corruption that is rampant in Washington D.C.

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Renewal

One of the things that hinders people like me from the capacity to blog regularly is perfectionism. I feel that I have to perfect every phrase, or rework every thought so that they carry the maximum effect to the reader.

Fortunately, I am also eased at mind by the fact that I haven't drawn any real readers to this blog and don't deserve to have any. I'll just work on posting what I want to post about and worry about whether my reader(s) like it when I have one(or two).

I've added to the sidebar a banner and link to an organization that has inspired me to contact my Senators and Representatives very regularly this year. DownsizeDC.org is that organization which has researched and distributed information that is compelling enough to me that I harassed Congress 45 times so far this year.

In fact, I am going to start harassing my readers with the information that I get from the Downsizer Dispatch, and my responses to Congress.

The first one that I'm posting was from June 2nd -

Subject: Real Regulation

In a true free market (something we've never had) businesses have a clear incentive to provide safety, so they won't lose customers and employees to their competitors. More importantly . . .

In a true free market businesses are legally liable for the safety of their products, services, and work-places. To limit this liability businesses seek insurance. The insurance providers then do oversight to limit their own risk of loss by making sure that products, services, and work-places, are in fact safe.

This free-market approach to safety regulation is what funds the existence -- even in our current un-free market -- of something like Underwriter's Laboratory (UL). UL tests product safety in order to protect insurers from losses. The result is increased safety for you.

The other approach to safety is one driven by top-down regulations and inspections provided by unaccountable bureaucrats and paid for with tax dollars. The problem with this system is that it greatly muddies the water as to whom is actually liable for safety failures.

If Underwriter's Laboratory makes a mistake, it pays a big price, out of its own pocket. But if, for instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes a mistake, it doesn't pay any price at all.

In the year 2000 it was discovered that . . .
  • Between 1,800 and 2,000 mechanics were falsely certified by St. George Aviation in the late 1990's.
  • Eight years later, the FAA has found and re-tested only 700 of these mechanics, and most of these received only partial tests.
  • The failure rate was 36% among those re-tested.
  • This rate suggests there may be 400 or more unqualified mechanics still working in the airline industry, and the FAA is doing almost nothing about it. Source: Cybercast News Service
When will the FAA pay a price for this failure? Probably never. As a coercion-enforced monopoly the government rarely has to pay any price for failure. Instead, the FAA may get a larger budget so, supposedly, it can do better in the future. Worse still . . .

If an airline wants to protect itself against FAA incompetence it will have to pay extra for insurance and underwriting oversight, while still submitting to the FAA's regulations and inspectors. This is a cost most airline's can't afford, so we end up with only the FAA's incompetent and unaccountable "protections."

Meanwhile, businesses have an incentive to game the system, using their political clout to gain favorable treatment from government regulators and government-imposed limits on their liability.

So-called government regulation is a fraud. We need less fake regulation by government, and more Real Regulation by the free market. DownsizeDC.org has a proposal that will give you exactly that. It's called the "Write the Laws Act" (WTLA).

  • WTLA would reduce the burden of incompetent government regulations while making businesses more accountable to their customers.
  • The WTLA strips unelected bureaucracies such as the FAA of their law-making powers, and restores to Congress the full responsibility for all rule making, in keeping with the Constitution's separation of powers.
  • Congress won't have the time or knowledge to create complicated regulations, so there will be fewer of them, and those that do exist may work better. Instead, businesses will be legally liable for their failures, and regulated by insurance underwriting.
  • This would reduce the cost you pay for ineffective government regulations, while also making you safer.
To learn more about the Write the Laws Act, click here.

And please tell Congress to introduce and pass the Write the Laws Act.

Use your personal comments to tell Congress that the FAA's mishandling of the flight mechanics testing scandal is evidence that bureaucrats are incapable of keeping the people safe. Tell them that only a free market, legal liability, and insurance underwriting, can hold businesses accountable and keep consumers safe. Tell them you have more faith in groups like Underwriters Laboratory than you do in government regulators like the FAA.

You can send your message here.


I did send my message -
Please introduce DownsizeDC.org's "Write the Laws Act." You can find a summary and the full text of the bill here: http://www.downsizedc.org/wtla_legislation.shtml

My personal comment to you:

We The People send you as representatives for ourselves and our State in Washington DC. We want you to do your job and to craft the laws of our country. Please bring this legislation forward and sponsor it so that it can reach committee.

The bill proposes that we stop allowing non-elected bureaucrats to write all the rules that are enforced selectively by the Federal government.

A body of laws that citizens CANNOT follow leads to a deterioration of the nation into lawlessness.
My main hope is that I can keep these flowing as well as provide additional posts that are at least worth skimming.

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