I called my Senator at his Washington DC office. (202) 224-2854. I didn't see the transparent government that I'm used to from a Senator's office. At one point the guy I was talking to
1. Essentially hung up on me - when my questions got tough, he started saying "Sir, Sir, are you there, I can't here you, sir, sir, please call me back if you can hear me." (we were both on land-lines) He knew full well that I had to go through others in order to just get connected to his line.
2. He gave me a real run around Him: "The legislative aides who worked on that bill are not here." Me: "Well, what are their names?" Him: "Actually, I don't know."
3. Lied to me. Me: "I would like one of those legislative aides to call me at home before their go home for the night, will that happen?" Him: "Yes, if I can find one here." Of course you kind find "A" legislative aide at some point in the afternoon.
4. Evaded my question: "Listen are you guys preparing for a presidential election or are you working as a representatives of the people of Illinois?" Him: "No, this is the Senate office you have called, this isn't the campaign headquarters." (I guess my question could have been more clear to have helped prevent him from avoiding the question).
I've resolved that my next time in DC, I would like to go visit that office to see what exactly it is that they are doing there and to speak to the legislative aid face to face. Time for a little reading and then off to bed. - Allan in la isla azul
Quote of the Day:
"...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn't say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a 'compelling interest' in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn't say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn't say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances."
-- Harry Browne (1933-2006) best-selling author, two-time presidential candidate, and co-founder of Downsize DC
Subject: 68 Senators violated their oaths of office yesterday
Do you know the date of the first law ever passed by the United States' Senate? It was May 5, 1789.
Do you know the subject of that law? It was the "Oath Act." It's purpose was to provide specific wording for the oath the Constitution requires Senators to swear upon taking office.
Strangely, the Constitution actually provides the specific wording of the oath the President is supposed to take, but it does not do so for Congress. Instead, the Constitution simply stipulates the following in Article VI, clause 3:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
The lack of specific wording meant that Congress had to create the wording. The oath they created as their first order of business, was very simple . . .
"I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States."
Of course, later politicians have been increasingly fond of complexity, causing the oath to mutate into this . . .
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."
The result remains the same. And please notice that members of Congress do not swear an oath to support or defend the nation, the country, or the government. They swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, specifically. This is very important . . .
The Founders viewed government as a servant of the people. They did not make the mistake that so many supposed "patriots" make, of thinking the government is the same thing as the nation, the country, or the people. Our country is made up of many institutions -- families, churches, businesses, associations -- of which the government is only one. All of these institutions taken together, and all the individuals within the country, independent of any institution, are what make up the country.
The government is meant to serve the nation, not BE the country.
In keeping with the ideas expressed in our Declaration of Independence, our government was instituted with highly limited powers. The instrument that imposed these limitations was the Constitution, and it is this document that members of Congress swear an oath to defend.
One of the consequences of Constitutional limits on government power is that bad people are often permitted to get away with doing bad things. The government is categorically denied many of the powers that might aid it in the apprehension of criminals. For example . . .
There are hundreds of murderers running lose in America, and thousands of murders committed each year, that the government might be able to stop. The Constitution specifically prohibits government from doing all that it could do to save lives by catching murderers.
Were the Founders crazy? Were they stupid? No, they were not. The Founders knew that any government that has all the power it might need to optimize its apprehension of murderers, would also have all the power it needed to become a mass murderer.
The Founders knew, even in their time, that governments were, historically, the greatest killers of all. The history of the last century has only added to the evidence. Tens of millions of people were murdered in the 20th Century by governments that had too much power. Our Constitution protects us from this; so far.
Think about that.
But now, because criminals murdered thousands of people on September 11, 2001, many are eager to abandon their Constitutional protections.
Have we become a nation of sniveling cowards? If not, please explain how it is that Congress has either bowed to or exploited this fear to become a gang of lawbreakers?
Yesterday, 68 Senators violated their oaths of office. They voted to pass S. 2248, a new law designed to replace the so-called "Protect America Act." This bill violates the Bill of Rights . . .
* It permits the President to spy on Americans without a warrant.
* It grants retroactive immunity to tele-communications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration in previous warrantless spying, thereby creating an incentive for other companies to engage in similar crimes in the future (only Qwest Communications insisted on warrants).
Will this new, un-constitutional power, prevent future terrorist attacks? Of course not, nothing can do that, just as there is no law or power that could completely stop murders by domestic criminals.
Does this new law create a tyranny? That would be an exaggeration. But what will happen when the next terrorist attack comes?
The sniveling cowards among us, and the lawbreakers in Congress, will then seek still more powers.
At one point will our children call this tyranny? Will there be any turning back?
Yesterday, 19 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and 1 independent voted to violate the Constitution and their oaths of office. Only 28 Democrats, 1 independent, and ZERO Republicans remained true to their oaths. The Republicans were universally bad.
But please notice that the law could not have passed without the vote of the Democrats!
Let this be clear -- neither political party is going to protect our Constitution, unless WE compel them to do it.
All hope is NOT lost. S. 2248 cannot become law unless the House agrees to its provisions. Fortunately, the House version of this bill, while not perfect, is signficantly better. Our best hope, and we must take it, is to tell the House to stick by their version of the bill.
A list of how the Senate voted is pasted below my signature. Use the personal comments section of your message to Congress to thank your Senator if he or she voted against S. 2248, or to criticize your Senator if he or she voted for it. Ask your House member to reject the provisions of S. 2248.
You can send your message from the DownsizeDC.org website.
Also, please make a contribution to further our work. Your contribution is our budget. You can contribute here.
How the Senate voted . . .
Sen. Daniel Akaka [D, HI] Nay
Sen. Lamar Alexander [R, TN] Aye
Sen. Wayne Allard [R, CO] Aye
Sen. John Barrasso [R, WY] Aye
Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] Aye
Sen. B. Evan Bayh [D, IN] Aye
Sen. Robert Bennett [R, UT] Aye
Sen. Joseph Biden [D, DE] Nay
Sen. Jeff Bingaman [D, NM] Nay
Sen. Christopher Bond [R, MO] Aye
Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] Nay
Sen. Sherrod Brown [D, OH] Nay
Sen. Samuel Brownback [R, KS] Aye
Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY] Aye
Sen. Richard Burr [R, NC] Aye
Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] Nay
Sen. Maria Cantwell [D, WA] Nay
Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D, MD] Nay
Sen. Thomas Carper [D, DE] Aye
Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA] Aye
Sen. C. Saxby Chambliss [R, GA] Aye
Sen. Hillary Clinton [D, NY] Abstain
Sen. Thomas Coburn [R, OK] Aye
Sen. Thad Cochran [R, MS] Aye
Sen. Norm Coleman [R, MN] Aye
Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] Aye
Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND] Aye
Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN] Aye
Sen. John Cornyn [R, TX] Aye
Sen. Larry Craig [R, ID] Aye
Sen. Michael Crapo [R, ID] Aye
Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] Aye
Sen. Christopher Dodd [D, CT] Nay
Sen. Elizabeth Dole [R, NC] Aye
Sen. Pete Domenici [R, NM] Aye
Sen. Byron Dorgan [D, ND] Nay
Sen. Richard Durbin [D, IL] Nay
Sen. John Ensign [R, NV] Aye
Sen. Michael Enzi [R, WY] Aye
Sen. Russell Feingold [D, WI] Nay
Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] Nay
Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC] Abstain
Sen. Charles Grassley [R, IA] Aye
Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] Aye
Sen. Charles Hagel [R, NE] Aye
Sen. Thomas Harkin [D, IA] Nay
Sen. Orrin Hatch [R, UT] Aye
Sen. Kay Hutchison [R, TX] Aye
Sen. James Inhofe [R, OK] Aye
Sen. Daniel Inouye [D, HI] Aye
Sen. John Isakson [R, GA] Aye
Sen. Tim Johnson [D, SD] Aye
Sen. Edward Kennedy [D, MA] Nay
Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] Nay
Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D, MN] Nay
Sen. Herbert Kohl [D, WI] Aye
Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ] Aye
Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA] Aye
Sen. Frank Lautenberg [D, NJ] Nay
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D, VT] Nay
Sen. Carl Levin [D, MI] Nay
Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT] Aye
Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] Aye
Sen. Richard Lugar [R, IN] Aye
Sen. Mel Martinez [R, FL] Aye
Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] Aye
Sen. Claire McCaskill [D, MO] Aye
Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] Aye
Sen. Robert Menendez [D, NJ] Nay
Sen. Barbara Mikulski [D, MD] Aye
Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] Aye
Sen. Patty Murray [D, WA] Nay
Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] Aye
Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL] Aye
Sen. Barack Obama [D, IL] Abstain
Sen. Mark Pryor [D, AR] Aye
Sen. John Reed [D, RI] Nay
Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] Nay
Sen. Pat Roberts [R, KS] Aye
Sen. John Rockefeller [D, WV] Aye
Sen. Ken Salazar [D, CO] Aye
Sen. Bernard Sanders [I, VT] Nay
Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] Nay
Sen. Jefferson Sessions [R, AL] Aye
Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL] Aye
Sen. Gordon Smith [R, OR] Aye
Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] Aye
Sen. Arlen Specter [R, PA] Aye
Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow [D, MI] Nay
Sen. Ted Stevens [R, AK] Aye
Sen. John Sununu [R, NH] Aye
Sen. Jon Tester [D, MT] Nay
Sen. John Thune [R, SD] Aye
Sen. David Vitter [R, LA] Aye
Sen. George Voinovich [R, OH] Aye
Sen. John Warner [R, VA] Aye
Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA] Aye
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI] Aye
Rep. Roger Wicker [R, MS-1] Aye
Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] Nay