No more excuses

Less than a year and a half ago, the entire Republican membership of Congress voted to send a bill to President Obama that would have repealed Obamacare.

But that was just for consumption by the rubes back in their home districts.  Clearly, the president wasn’t about to agree to dismantling his namesake health care takeover plan.

That the Republican party isn’t truly serious about seeking smaller government should be apparent to everyone.  They control both houses of Congress, and work with a President who committed himself to getting rid of the misnamed “Affordable Care Act.”

So why won’t they send the same bill to the new occupant of the Oval Office?

Because they know he’d sign it.  Then they’re not just posturing for the constituents, they’re actually removing an ill-conceived government program riddled equally with incompetence and opportunities for political theft and graft.

This is why I stopped identifying as “Republican” close to a dozen years ago.

It’s time to call their bluff.  Everyone who believes the Supreme Court was insane to rule this health care law constitutional, everyone who wants to see health care costs fall instead of rise, everyone who believes the free market, not the bureaucrats best meets our individual needs, simply MUST contact their representatives and demand they resubmit the previous bill.

No more stalling while “a draft” is written.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Paul Ryan – your membership in the Deep State is showing.  You best realize the election of Trump was a symptom of patience becoming exhausted.

Congress is acting in direct opposition to the mandate expressed in November’s election. So here’s the deal, Congress:

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

A few modest suggestions

Life’s been busy lately, so posting has been light.  For some time, though, I’ve been working on a list of “things I’d do if I was completely in charge of adjusting the government.”  They center around limiting the influence of lobbyists, making immigration offenses a serious matter, and reducing the ability of a president to unilaterally commit the nation to war.

It’s an ongoing project.  But I’ll post it here for any comments and input on what’s already there.  Warning: it’s a lot of stuff (roughly 6 pages in a word processor).  But then, there’s a lot of stuff wrong with the country, so that’s to be expected.  Use the page numbers at the bottom of the post to advance to the next page.

Constructive input/critiques welcomed.

REFORM  (Federal Level)

General:

No person convicted of a felony will be eligible to hold elective office at the Federal Level.  Convicted felons may not serve in the Federal Civil Service above the grade of GS-5.

The Legislatures of each State will appoint one person to serve on a Federal Civil Service Oversight Board.  Board members will serve terms determined by their individual State.  This 50-member board will have power independent of Congress to investigate accusations of fraud, waste, abuse, or employee misconduct/failure to meet standards within the Federal workforce.  The board, by a 3/5 majority vote, may dismiss any federal employee below the grade of Cabinet Secretary.  The board will also investigate charges of retaliation against whistle-blowers.  With the concurrence of 3/5 of the board, anyone deemed as having engaged in retaliation will be dismissed from Civil Service.  No person dismissed by the Oversight Board will be eligible for any future Civil Service position or for elected office to Congress or the Presidency.

I approve this message

From Glenn Reynolds:

During the next four years, the Trump Administration — and Congress — should plan to move at least 25% of the federal workforce located in the Washington, D.C. metro area to other locations around the country: Places that are economically suffering (which will have the advantage of making federal workers’ salaries go farther) and that need the business. Should Trump get another four years, he should do it all over again.

That would mean that in 8 years, the population of bureaucrats in the Washington, D.C. metro area would be roughly halved. That would make Washington less vibrant, but more affordable — and those bureaucrats working out of offices in the hinterland would be brought closer to the American people.

This tracks with my thought that Congress should only be physically in session for three weeks out of the year, spending the rest of their time in their home districts among the people they allegedly represent.  Secure communication is mature enough to allow Congress’ various committees to work together ‘virtually,’ saving the really important matters for the limited three-week face-to-face meeting.  Of course, that would also mean prioritizing action in session.  There wouldn’t be time to investigate baseball or similar nonsense.

After all, a ‘congress’ is defined as a “formal meeting or series of meetings for discussion between delegates…”  Congress doesn’t “meet” anymore.  It resides in the alternative reality known as Mordor Washington, D.C., and its members occasionally go back to their fiefdoms districts to lie to their constituents face-to-face, rather than via the TV news.  The comparison, occurring more and more, of our capitol to “The Capitol” in The Hunger Games, noted by Glenn in his column, is an apt one (and the reason one of the Three Musketeers wears a “Down with the Capitol” t-shirt, complete with mockingjay logo.  I’m thinking of getting one in my size.  People can read into that what they want.)

https://i1.wp.com/cdn4.teehunter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/down-with-the-capitol.jpg

Glenn has also suggested that since our leaders are constantly carping about carbon footprints, they should turn off all air conditioning in D.C.  Not only would that save energy, it would motivate people to be in that former literal swamp as short a time as possible, as it was in the early days of the Republic.

However it’s done, get the Congresscritters back home for close observation.  This also has the benefit of making lobbyists work harder, since they people they are trying to buy are no longer located all in one convenient location close to K Street.

Rotting from the head

Today’s USA Today editorial by the Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) is a must-read.  Excerpt:

“…people may obey the law because they think that being law-abiding is an important part of maintaining a viable society. But that’s the kind of law-abiding behavior that’s at risk when people at the top treat the law with unconcealed contempt.
Being law-abiding for its own sake is a traditional part of bourgeois culture, and our ruling class has lately treated the bourgeoisie with contempt as well. Which raises the risk that this contempt will be returned.”

 

These days, to be in contempt of Congress shouldn’t be considered a legal state so much as a badge of honor that one is in tune with reality.  Only Congress has the tools at its disposal to rein in these out of control government agencies like the IRS, TSA, EPA, etc.  For instance, agencies that suffer “accidental” deletions of key evidence should find their funding zeroed out and the agency abolished on the grounds it can no longer be trusted with public business.  That Congress refuses to use such tools merely shows they are no longer the “people’s house,” but rather, in the words of a very wise man, “a den of thieves.”

A no-brainer

This should be one of those proposals that enjoys broad bipartisan support among the citizenry:

Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) introduced legislation on Tuesday to prevent members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists after they leave office…

Kudos to the couple of Democrats who tried last year to introduce the same ban.  Wonder why ‘it never received legislative action?’ (that was sarcasm, by the way…)

Why is this needed?

Current law requires House members to wait at least a year after leaving office before becoming lobbyists. Former senators, meanwhile, must wait at least two years.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that more than half(!) of the former members of the 111th and 112th sessions of Congress who found new jobs had become either lobbying clients or joined lobbying firms.

Want to make Congress more responsive to the people?  Make sure it can only work for the people… not audition for lucrative post-congressional careers!  The revolving door between Washington, Wall Street and K-Street has to stop, if the average American is ever to have true representation again.

While we’re at it, how about we ban all campaign contributions from corporations?  If you can’t raise the money to campaign simply from the individual voters you would represent, then you obviously have no business pretending to represent them.

Time to shatter business as usual… light up the phone lines on Capitol Hill and tell them to make sure this proposal GETS legislative action — and passage — this time!

Why have a Congress?

It’s clear we aren’t ruled by representative government anymore.  Instead, unelected bureaucrats and a President who continues to wipe his feet on the Constitution rule us instead.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a sweeping, 300+ page overhaul that will place the internet under government regulation as though it were a public utility, including, for the first time, the power to levy Federal taxes on it.  The FCC is expected to pass the changes by a 3-2 partisan vote (three Democrats, two Republicans on the commission) — just as “Obamacare” was passed on the flimsiest of margins.  Not exactly a mandate from the people in either case.  Not only has the FCC Chairman steadfastly refused to allow public review of the proposals before the vote (something that more sensible Senator Obama fellow thought should be a requirement), he has also refused to appear before Congress — the representative branch of government — before taking action that seems predetermined.

And thus does Congress just roll over yet again.  Does the IRS want to stonewall them about how they attempted to influence an election?  Fine, says the Congresscritters.  Got a rogue President ignoring his duty to faithfully execute the laws on immigration?  Gosh, wish there was something we could do about that, says Congress, but guess we’ll fund Homeland Security anyway.   Meanwhile, despite a court injunction against the President’s unconstitutional actions, he has the gall to tell our border enforcement agency–in a public, townhall meeting–to continue on anyway, or they’ll “answer to the head of Homeland Security.”

To top it off, despite Americans being war weary — especially given how the ship of state has been run aground at home — our leaders seem determined to pick a war with Russia (probably to distract from their utter corruption and abuse of power at home.  After all, we’ve always been at war with Eurasia, right?):

U.S. military combat vehicles paraded Wednesday through an Estonian city that juts into Russia, a symbolic act that highlighted the stakes for both sides amid the worst tensions between the West and Russia since the Cold War…  The United States has sent hundreds of military personnel to joint NATO exercises in the Baltics. NATO nations committed in September to forming a rapid reaction force that could deploy quickly to eastern Europe if they are invaded.

Congress, if it had any spine whatsoever, could stop all this in its tracks.  FCC chairman wants to ignore a request for testimony?  Fine — defund the FCC until he sees the error of his ways.  IRS wants to act like an unaccountable mafia operation?  Fine, pass a flat tax to be collected at the point of sales and sent direct to the Treasury, abolish the income tax and the IRS right along with it.

The problem is that Congress has either no will or no desire to act so decisively in defense of the people.  Some of that is because many of its members secretly hope to wield this growing Federal power themselves one day.  For those who see the danger and want to roll back increasingly unitary government under executive fiat, they can’t get enough of their fellow Capitolistas to cooperate.  Worse, many individual Americans are still convinced that handing government more power will solve problems that government intervention created to begin with!

Maybe Americans will light up Congressional phone lines today.  Maybe not.  I’m not convinced it makes a difference anymore.  Leviathan’s gonna do what Leviathan wants to do.  And that’s increase its control over you.  So the question, America, is what are our alternatives?  Are we ready as a people yet to say that if Congress won’t comply with our will, we’ll just defund the whole three-ring circus ourselves by refusing to pay taxes?  Or will this trend have to continue until either freedom dies completely or shots have to be fired in its defense?  I greatly fear it’s going to be the latter, because it seems that will be the only thing that will wake up a critical mass of citizenry to action.

“The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.” –John Adams, 1818

Loss of legitimacy

Americans increasingly are dissatisfied with the results of power centralizing both in government and in business:

The poll… indicates that the public’s trust in government is at an all-time low.

Just 13% of Americans say the government can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time, with just over three-quarters saying only some of the time and one in 10 saying they never trust the government, according to the poll.

“The number who trust the government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted the government,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said…

The survey indicates that skepticism doesn’t stop at the White House and Capitol Hill: Only 17% of Americans believe that big business can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time.

Distant, consolidated power in any form or function is less connected to, and thus less responsive to the people.  That is why the Constitution expressly gives the Federal Goverment few and defined powers, reserving the remainder to “the States, or to the People.”  We have ignored that arrangement, and the concept of sovereign States as bullworks against Federal encroachment, to our deep and lasting detriment.

Big Business has amassed significant power over the past two decades or so for two reasons: the tendency of the public to look only at the price tag on shelves, ignoring the hidden costs that often are involved with “everyday low prices” (i.e. offshoring of American jobs, corner-cutting on safety and environmental practices, etc), combined with significant regulatory lobbying by industry leaders that make it increasingly difficult for legitimate competition to gain traction.  The combination of Big Business with the force of Big Government is extremely dangerous to individual liberty.

I’d like to believe such poll results show the jig is up: that American are realizing they aren’t ‘free’ just because they can choose between 30 different types of toothpaste at the supermarket (made by a handful of powerful companies, of course).  They’re not ‘free’ just because we can vote, either — especially when the integrity of the process is questionable, and the collection of ‘representatives’ routinely disregard the public’s position on important issues… like whether borders are still important enough to be enforced!

I’ve watched these “trust in government” poll results head steadily downward my entire adult life.  One has to wonder at what point the citizenry just decides “this isn’t working anymore” and chooses to stop playing along.  Several recent lurches between House Elephant and House Donkey seem to prove the point that just changing the party in power isn’t the answer.   Something is systemically wrong with our social order, and people are realizing it.

I don’t think it’s oversimplifying to boil it down to a handful of factors:

1)  Few candidates for office (elected or appointed) are consistently more civic-minded than they are self-interested.  At the same time, we’ve forgotten the principle that human beings are inherently fallible and corruptable, so should always be limited in the power they wield.

2)  A public that has jettisoned what was once a broad consensus on right and wrong, embracing instead a “50 shades of gray” worldview.  A nation that once had bi-partisan certainty what Nixon did 40 years ago was wrong now tends to give “their team” far too much benefit of the doubt.  If you believe it’d be wrong for ‘the other guy’ to do it, why do you tolerate it in your own associates?

3)  A Constitution that was designed to separate powers, but did not build in enough solid provisions to prevent ever-less-enlightened generations from selling out their birthright.  As Benjamin Franklin is said to have told a passerby in Philadelphia, the Constitutional Convention had produced a “republic… if you can keep it.”  Apocryphal or not, the tale makes a valid point.  We were given the power as individuals to prevent the consolidations that have occured.  But nothing can force us to remain vigilant and wary about principles well before the approach of danger.

4) An aversion to accountability.  From individual relationships to official capacities, our society has lost much of the will to confront and correct behavior.  This is exacerbated by the aforementioned “50 shades of gray” view, as well as today’s preference for spin over substance.  “With great power comes great responsibility,” the saying goes.  Which begs the question why MANY people still hold their positions of power (both in government AND in business), much less why they aren’t in some cases warming a prison cell somewhere.

The key for the immediate future hinges on whether thoughtful Americans accept the need to resume the individual and local responsibilities that attend to liberty, or whether they go all-in on the idea of letting others take care of them (in return for being handed the keys of power).  Closely related to this is the issue of whether those who see what is wrong (i.e. the loss of equal protection under the law, and the unprecedented lattitude the Executive has asserted to ignore enforcement of laws he disagrees with) will speak out, regardless what ad hominem attacks (“Racist!” “Nativist!”) are hurled their way.

Which will it be?