Posts Tagged ‘senate’

USA PATRIOT Act.

7. February 2011

The USA PATRIOT Act is up for reauthorization in the House tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are only forty minutes of scheduled debate and no opportunities for amendments. Please write your Representative and tell them not to vote for it under these conditions. The PATRIOT Act abridges your rights in the name of national security. A power so unlimited in the hands of the government deserves to be well-regulated and well-debated.

If you would like to write your Representative, I have a form letter below that you may feel free to use, or you may compose your own email.

Representative __________,
I implore you, do not vote for a suspension calendar with the USA PATRIOT Act on it. Though terrorism can be a threat, there are more effective ways to fight it than allowing for a suspension of Americans’ constitutional rights and allowing roving wiretaps, secret searches and other breaches of personal privacy and security.

You certainly have the security of the nation at heart, of that I have no doubt, but I beg you to recognize that by supporting an Act of dubious constitutionality and the restriction of law-abiding Americans’ rights, you might be inadvertently bringing about the end goal of the terrorists: the destruction of the American society which you and I both value so greatly.

Thank you for your time,
YOUR NAME HERE

If you would like to write your Representative but are unsure who that is, you may quickly find that information here.

On the Futility of Term Limits.

7. November 2010

There’s a big divide within the conservative/Republican/tea party world about term limits. I’ve seen signs at tea party rallies calling for term limits on Congressmen and I’ve talked to others about why term limits are the wrong choice in trying to control Congress. After hearing what people have to say about term limits, I’ve reached the conclusion that they are wholly unnecessary.

Those who support instituting term limits generally hold Congressmen like Barney Frank and the late Sen. Kennedy as examples of the perpetual incumbency allowed by our current system. They say that the presidency has been term limited, and that it should rightly follow that the Congress ought to also be limited in that fashion. These are good points and show failings inherent in our political system.

What those people forget is that the burden of ensuring good governance lies not on the heads of the governors but on those of the governed. We cannot rely on the mechanisms of government to save us from scheming politicians, or even ones who have simply outstayed their usefulness in Washington. To do so would go against the spirit of the Constitution, imbued in it by the Founders during its construction. A successful democracy depends on active participants both elected and electing.

We have faith in elections and respect their results because we know that they reflect the wishes of those who made the effort to voice their opinion. If the same people keep winning their seat we must only assume that it is because their constituents are satisfied with their performance. The only effective means to voice dissatisfaction is to vote the politician in question out of office. Term limits barricade the people from voicing their true opinions. What happens if, like in Rep. Ron Paul’s district, the people actually like their elected official? He has been reelected a number of times, but would have been forbidden to do so had he been subjected to term limits. In short, it is up to the people to elect a new representative if they believe the current one is not doing his job well enough. If no one is running against him, they must find and elect someone who will.

As a response to the argument about the presidential term limits, I can only implore people to remember that his term limit was imposed not by the Founders but as an amendment in the twentieth century. It was not in the original design of the Constitution and while it may suit the office of the President, it is not as easily applicable to Congress. A President is not directly elected by the people and it could therefore be argued that a term limit should be imposed to serve as a barrier to abuse of power. Congressmen of both houses are elected directly now, and it is in this way that we can ensure that the representatives will be voted out of office when the time comes.

CPAC: Day One

18. February 2010

Well, I just got back to the room from the first day of CPAC in Washington, D.C. I can tell you that the Republicans are very much fired up. They’ve found a fight, and from the looks of this organization, they’ve been training for the big match since the first tea party. The Republicans are getting organized. They’re beginning to hold their Congressmen accountable, and those Congressmen are taking notice.

House Minority Leader John Boehner gave a speech this afternoon, of which I regrettably only caught the last half. What I did hear, though, was a reflection of what the newly-vocal Republicans have been screaming for the past year. In his speech, there were plenty of references to the purging of RINOs and getting “back to the basics”. Whether or not this is truly heartfelt or merely an attempt to rally the troops for 2010 is still a mystery to me, though I hope most sincerely that it is the former. That’s the only way that the Republicans will be able to win big in the 2010 midterm elections.

There was a curious mention of Boehner’s intention for the Republican party to stay separate from the tea party movement. I found it odd that he would mention this, not because it wasn’t a wise thing to say, but because it was awkwardly placed and was the subject of Karl Rove’s latest op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today. Right at the end of Representative Boehner’s speech, he announced that he would not try to merge the Republican Party with the tea party movement, but understand them, listen to them and “walk among them”. This is the same general approach that Rove advised in his article, and one I wholly agree with. CPAC is about as cozy as Tea Party and Republican Party need to get. There needs to be a healthy distance between the two, because without it, the tea parties are simply an astroturf puppet tool of the Republicans, which severely discredits them.

On an only somewhat unrelated note, Mitt Romney is the strongest candidate for the Republicans in 2012. His public speaking skills, and general political persona far outmatch those of Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee. I think that despite the resurgence of Christianity in the Republican Party in the last year, they would unite behind Mitt Romney if he could lead them to the White House. And his experience as a governor, background in business and general smoothness that at least matches Obama’s are enough to get him there.

If you want to see my pictures from the first day, you can go to my Flickr page.

On Populism.

29. January 2010

Before the Tea Party movement began in early 2009, there was nary a mention of populism. These days, however, it seems as is “populism” is every third word out of politicians’ and pundits’ mouths. The silly thing is that the Tea Party-ers are not populists. They are individuals, with degrees of differing views on every issue. And individualism is, by necessity, precluded in populism. This is why populist crusades are generally of the left-leaning sentiment.

This attempt to paint the Tea Parties as somehow reminiscent of the late nineteenth century Populist Party is utterly silly. A little historical context might clear up reasons as to why. The Populist Party, founded in 1891, was for a silver standard, a graduated income tax and government control of monopolies. Its message resonated throughout the country, especially with those in the western United States, where the greenback–the federally established post-Civil War currency–was distrusted at best. As you can see from its general principles, this was a “progressive” movement, presenting the troubles of the little man to the government with expectations that they would solve said problems.

Since this time, the meaning of the word “populism” has become rather fuzzy. It undoubtedly stands for the interests of the people–whomever the people may be–but, as it has roots in the Populist Party, it generally represents the anti-private sector sentiments of the people. This is certainly not the general sentiment of the Tea Party movement, nor does it seem to be the general sentiment of the nation at the moment. I would venture to say that right now, public opinion–as much as one can know the “public opinion”–seems to be anti-government. The Tea Party is unquestionably anti-public sector.

In this day in age, though, when words have lost all true definition and meaning and require frequent clarification, one may be certain that this misnomer will continue to be used to inaccurately describe the sentiments of some of the nation. True, there are probably many in the country who hold genuinely populist views. Still, most of those being labeled as populists are not.

So why continue to refer to public opinion as populist? Because it gives weight to the view that the country is angry at the banks and other private-sector ventures. If it seems as if the citizens in this country are angry at the banks, it is undoubtedly easier for the government to continue down the path which many in this nation vehemently oppose. The government can brush off the Tea Party anger directed toward it as “populist”, while also discrediting the banks.

Because if you’re mad at the private-sector, you’re a populist. If you’re mad at the government, you’re just plain stupid.

On Mr. Bernanke’s Confirmation.

24. January 2010

I must say, that as much as Ben Bernanke has done wrong, I have a hard time disliking him. Not because I like his policies, or feel bad for him, but because he resembles my dog. That’s right. Ben Bernanke looks like my dog. I said it. if you don’t believe me, look at the pictures.

On the other hand, he has handled this whole economic hiccup rather poorly. I, admittedly, know very little about monetary policy. But the low interest rate policy which Bernanke seems to support wholeheartedly makes me skittish. Money–which in this case refers to M2 money, or all deposits and currency–is plentiful. But banks aren’t lending at a rate that the Fed finds satisfactory. So they’re keeping the Fed funds rate low (0.0 to 0.25%). Unfortunately, this isn’t going to spur the banks to lend more.

This “cheap money” policy is just asking for inflation. This is not some new information, it is an established fact. When there is a greater amount of money in circulation, the money itself is devalued, causing inflation. This next bit, however, is conjecture on my part and may be very wrong.

What I believe Mr. Bernanke is pegging his job on is that this influx of money will spur economic growth, which would reduce or eliminate the effects of inflation. Though some sectors are growing and the new unemployment claims have inconsistently waned in the past few months, there is no substantial proof of recovery. Each promising new statistic, whether it concern new home sales or new jobless claims is quietly revised to be less encouraging.

Bernanke’s plan does not seem to be working. Though we seem to be better off than we were in the first fiscal quarter of 2009, the degree of improvement is unequal to the effort and exception-making policies which have been enacted in its name. I don’t have the answers, but I know that unless the Fed adopts a tighter money policy, my money will be worth less than it already is.

With all of this in mind, I’m going to cast my vote against Mr. Bernanke. In spite of the fact that he reminds me of my dog.

The dog’s fur is patterned after Bernanke’s hair. She has black fur on the sides of her head where Bernanke has hair. She has greyish-white fur around her jaw where Bernanke has his beard. You see?