We each have an ability to promote positive change under the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This is one place to find your drive, voice, and outlet.


The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act

It is about time that some legislation get passed in Washington that limits the rampant and flagrant incest between lobbyists and law makers in Washington. Our nation's legislative process has been twisted and contorted by lobbyists more with each passing year. Finally congress is acting now that polls suggest on 14% of Americans express confidence in them and yet another congressman's house is raided Alaska in a corruption investigation. This bill is long overdue, and I have to question the sincerity of the legislator is waiting until now to pass the bill.

I believe that the structure of this bill probably still allows for loopholes that lobbyists and congressmen can pass through. I believe that the limits on money that lobbyists can "bundle" is still too high (I think that it should be totally eliminated.) I believe that the limit for former senators to lobby being one and two years for the house and senate is far to short. Senators should never lobby. It is a practice that invites corruption. These are some of the deficiencies that I would expect to find in a bill passed by this congress.

However, I disagree with the republican senators who oppose this bill. They correctly point out the deficiencies to this bill and say that it isn't good enough. While they are right, it is better than not passing anything at all. And it is long overdue. If these republicans who think that this bill in not sufficient, pass legislation in the future to tighten up the laws, but do not shore up the progress that could be made now.

Perhaps their dissent is simply a way to call attention to the deficiencies to make it easier to improve in the future. Perhaps they know that it will be passed but choose to make a scene. I doubt it though, although this is what they will accomplish--if congress sincerly wants to clean up it's act and will pass more legislation in the future.


Why this Matters

George Bush's administration is building to a climax of their confrontation with congress. Congress has approved a contempt citation for Bolton and Miers and the media has plenty to talk about. Some might think that this is a waste of everybody's time. So what if he did fire some of his attorneys? It was just a couple anyway. If he can stuff his whole cabinet and supreme court with whoever he wants, what does it matter if 8 or 9 measly federal attorneys get canned?

I would have to agree that congress has wasted a lot of time. With all the bills that they could have passed and the problems that they could have solved but didn't with the time that they have had, it does seem like they are being stubborn about something that just doesn't look to benefit anybody that much.

But it does matter. A lot.

Its not the fact that the attorneys were fired that matters, its the process that has ensued since they were fired. In the United States, as opposed to many other would-be great nations, we have a tradition of accountability. When we have honored that tradition, it has served us well. When we have relented, we have suffered the consequence of wasting money and resources, acting in the worst interest of Americans and foreign neighbors, and weakening public confidence and the nation as a whole.

Congress wanted to know why the attorneys were fired. I think that it is legitimate to monitor possible politicization of the justice department, however small. So in a normal world, congress would have asked the president, or the attorney general, or whoever, what happened. Gonzales or whoever would be accountable would say something like: "political considerations were involved in the firing of so and so, but its not that big a deal, and we had a right to do it." Congress would have gotten all huffy and made demands, accusations, and threats-none of which would have actually amounted to anything- and everyone would have gone along their way.

In the real world, however, something terrible has happened: The president and the attorney general have effectively flipped off the congress and said: "screw you!" Now, this is fine and well for candidates in a political debate to say to each other. It's even all right for congressmen on different sides of the isle to say to each other. It is sometimes all right for the president to say when vetoing a bill, but it is definitely NOT all right when the Congress has issued a subpoena for an arguably legitimate reason after a lengthy investigation and multiple unheeded requests for information.

So what is at stake?

If the president can skate by when the highest authority that the world can muster against him, (a majority of congress elected by the people of this nation,) then he is truly moving toward the realm of dictatorship. Perhaps he wishes that everybody would like him, maybe he tries to do things so that people agree with him, perhaps in his own way he thinks he is making the world a better place, but nevertheless, this is the realm of dictatorship.

On the other hand, If the congress can succeed in bringing the people Bush has ordered not to testify to testify and stand accountable for what has happened (even though what has happened is not that big of a deal,) the justice department will refuse to acknowledge and enforce that act of Congress, therefore the matter will end up in the Supreme Court that says that Bush is out of his mind and not in the right. At that point accountability and justice be forced upon Bush, Gonzales, Rove, or whoever else might be involved. Sure, by that time the din from the upcoming elections will have reached fever pitch in the ears of the public and media, but it will leave an imprint on our future leaders' mind of how things work in the country. By the people!


Thoughful Citizen

Welcome to Patrolo!

This blog is a growing compilation of resources, opinions, and information for people who care about what is happening in America. Here you will find newsfeeds, links, and documents relevant to what is happening to the democratic process in this country with an emphasis on the checks and balances of our government, war, issues such as immigration, and the overall "liberty" of our nation. I have created this blog because of the urge to do something about it and speak out about what I view as the deteriorating situation in my country.

Some of the things that alarm me:

  • Congress is issuing important subpoenas that are getting rejected by the president
  • At the college career fair, half of the recruiters are defense contractors
  • We are all driving cars, and those car's emission standards are not even technically challenging for automakers
  • Americans in general are uniformed and uninvolved
  • Lobbyists are swarming all over our legislators with much more intensity than the people that they represent
  • Teachers and education have a low priority in the governments scheme of things
  • The government has failed to put together immigration reform
  • Americans are getting fat, and kids are trained to be fat by having it given to them in their schools and TV sets by dominating food companies
  • Good people all over the world are giving us the thumbs down for our foreign policy and impact
Please respond to these issues or any others that you feel are relevant to this dialogue, and please, above all, get involved by using the links to contact your representatives in government about what you want them to do.