Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guilty Government, Disenfranchisement, and Jacob Marley's Chains (Updated)

Taking Congress's activities personally, here.

The Senate could at least have had the decency to respect our little holiday, our few hours or days off from work, our desire to celebrate, to eat, drink, and be merry, to visit with family and friends. But no! Americans must be armored at all times, lest our own elected representatives move to a sneak attack while we take a little while off to be, well, just Americans.

In the Big Picture, the hopeful prospects of America's health care are being flushed, true enough. But as an ever-so-small part of that Big Picture, it's also my ability and my loved ones' abilities to use our wits and to rely on our doctors' wits to seek medical solutions that are being encroached upon, and I am taking that very personally.

And, while I'm at it, I'm taking very personally that my own countrymen and countrywomen in Washington are playing fast and loose with my country's laws. They've been doing it for so long, and have insulated themselves so comfortably, that they've become quite casual about it. They see no need even to pretend to be honest, as used to be the case when, for example, a divorce would present enough evidence of scandalous duplicity and the inability to remain faithful to a sacred oath to doom a political career. Nope. While the Senate Democrats approve the dictates that lobbyists have put in writing, they have no trouble including a provision that future voters and future Congresses cannot undo what they have dictated in the dark of night.

This has been bothering me, this apparent (to my non-legally-trained mind) workaround to the force of a Constitutional amendment, passage of which after all requires approval by 2/3 of the Senate and 2/3 of the House plus assent by 3/4 of the states.

A commenter (Dave) at The Volokh Conspiracy was thinking along those lines, but apparently feeling less threatened than I:
This seems simple enough. If Congress feels strongly enough about the fiscal solvency of this proposal this that it wants to bind future legislatures to it, then it merely needs to submit a constitutional amendment to the various state legislatures saying so. Any of the various balanced budget amendments that have been floated will do nicely. If, on the other hand, they wish to seem to be committed to fiscal solvency while actually doing nothing to insure it, they should do exactly what they’ve done in this bill.
However another commenter, David Sanger, like me a non-lawyer, also was taking that dictate personally:
IMHO such clauses as these are odious since they in effect disenfranchise future voters by presuming to know more than they.
If this bill were laid out in the coffin that it deserves, Sanger would have hit one of that coffin's many nails smack on the head: On its face, this bill intends to disenfranchise Americans, and says so in black and white in no uncertain terms, and this effort has so far been endorsed by 60 elected leaders. Whether this effort withstands whatever forces that may (or may not) ensue, it is nevertheless an effort to rob you and I of our votes.

And that I take very personally.

The Senate Democrats are calling this disenfranchisement "procedure," thus reducing their iniquitous attack on Americans to a trivial dispute about a minor point of order over which a chamber full of lawyers could bicker endlessly, if they cared to.

Which they don't. They are unconcerned over attacks on the American system.

Time for an excerpt from A Christmas Carol:

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

We had best all take care that we protect our power to interfere, for good, in Congressional matters, lest we lose the power forever.

UPDATE: Nebraska's Governor Heineman asked senator Nelson to vote no on the Senate health care bill. The Governor says that Nebraska doesn't want any part of Nelson's sweetheart deal and is "angry" and "upset" about it and "embarrassed" by it.

From Fox News:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, so will you be asking Senator Ben Nelson to tell the Senate that you guys don't -- Nebraska doesn't want that $100 million? Are you going to ask him to do that?
GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN, R - NEB.: Well, we've already made it clear, Greta, we want all these special deals removed. In fact, this afternoon, our other United States senator, Senator Mike Johanns, introduced an amendment to strip all of the special interest deals from this bill, and the Democrats objected! That is really unfortunate. All these special deals should be removed from the bill.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you talk about "all these" special deals, and I take it that you mean, like, all the ones to Florida, to Connecticut. What about to your state alone? Are you willing to give up the -- are you willing to say, We don't want the $100 million in our state, Nebraska?

HEINEMAN: Absolutely. Nebraska doesn't want a special deal. We only want a fair deal. We're embarrassed by what's going on. We're very surprised. Nebraskans are angry and upset about what occurred. And so they need to set this straight.

I've also asked Senator Nelson -- I'm going to repeat it again tonight. He has a chance tomorrow to vote no on cloture. That would be the best thing for Nebraska, the best thing for America. Send this bill back to committee. Go home for Christmas and think about it and get it right.



  1. You make me laugh when you use "respect" and "congress" in the same sentence. The very warmest Christmas wishes to you, my friend.

  2. It's the season of ghosts all right- Chavez also said “there was a ‘silent and terrible ghost in the room’ at the confrence. Maybe he got the idea from Dicken's!