Monthly Archives: September 2006

No Torture

Human Rights Watch needed a grassroots organization to fight an evil bill in Congress.

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Guarding the Borders and Coasts

Welcome to the Sept 10-17 issue of Last Week in Congress. ::::::“Government doesn’t work.” This was the message of the late Harry Browne, co-founder of Because government doesn’t work, we want to shrink it. Because government doesn’t work, we want it out of our lives.::::::And because government doesn’t work, we’re skeptical of projects and programs that might even seem sensible. For example, we expect the federal government to provide for the common defense, but we shouldn’t rubber stamp every Defense Department budget request. Legitimate security concerns shouldn’t excuse waste, fraud, and abuse.::::::Border security is a legitimate concern, and immigration is a complicated topic. Some oppose immigration because they are not crazy about a growing immigrant voting bloc that supports Big Government candidates. Others fear the Southwest will secede and unite with stagnant, unfree Mexico. And then there is the fear that the borders will be abolished in order to form a North American Union and another layer of government. ::::::On the other hand, “people prohibition” doesn’t sound any more desirable or effective than any other form of government prohibition. Instead, it might just create another layer of illegality, and greater profits for smugglers and other criminals. Moreover, it is arbitary and unjust to let an imaginary line in the sand prevent people on one side from going over to the other to work, live, and do business.::::::We are skeptical that beefed-up border controls will work any better than any other government program. We have doubts about fences and other measures to keep immigrants out. Will they work? Will they be cost-effective? Will they just cause more problems elsewhere? And are they even desirable? DC Downsizers have honest disagreements over these issues.::::::That is why some of you will applaud, and some will oppose, H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The 8-page bill calls for building two layers of reinforced fencing through the most popular areas of entry for illegal immigrants, and for greater surveillance and additional checkpoints elsewhere on the borders and coasts.

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Arlen Specter Replies to a Constituent

Arlen Specter (R-PA) is not exactly our favorite Senator right now. He “sold out” to White House demands in crafting the National Security Surveillance Act. As Ryan Singel of Wired News describes it,:::

Specter’s bill concedes the government’s right to wiretap Americans without warrants, and allows the U.S. Attorney General to authorize, on his own, dragnet surveillance of Americans so long as the stated purpose of the surveillance is to monitor suspected terrorists or spies.

:::The bill got out of committee this week by a 10-8 vote, and is expected to face the full Senate next week. has feared this bill for months, and you can tell your Senator to oppose it by clicking to our No Warrant, No Search campaign. ::::::On top of this, Specter is showing amazing contempt for the democratic process and for the American people. As Singel reports,:::

Specter has moved to have his bill voted upon next week by voice vote, called a unanimous consent motion, according to the ACLU’s Graves. Such a procedure would leave no record of who voted for or against the bill.

:::How convenient: Senators who don’t even have the guts to stand up and be counted can now vote for the de facto repeal of the Fourth Amendment. ::::::Specter’s contempt for us normal folks is also on display in his response to one of our Downsizers: ::::::

Thank you for your email. We will be responding soon.

:::Except, according to our correspondent, they never do.:::

I receive a large volume of E-mails, phone calls, faxes and letters every week from concerned citizens like yourself.

:::In other words, Quit bothering me! :::

By following these simple steps, you will help me respond to your concerns in a more prompt and efficient manner.

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Stand by Schiff and Flake

It’s more fun to cheer than jeer. We constantly criticize politicians and bang on them for doing the wrong thing. But it’s just as important to support those few who do good things. Representatives Schiff and Flake are doing good things. They’re fighting to prevent Presidents, present and future, from gaining the power to spy on Americans without a warrant. Schiff and Flake need your support and encouragement.

Part of the inspiration for’s lobbying system was the Medicare Prescription Drug bill. This boondoggle was the largest entitlement created in a generation. It is estimated that it will cost more than $700 billion over ten years. And it was passed because just two freshman Republicans, who had previously committed to opposing the bill, gave in to overwhelming pressure from the leaders of their party, including the President. We asked ourselves, “What if they knew lots of people were backing their play and paying attention?” Would they have broken?

In a case that seems a little like Deja vu,

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An ancient myth and a modern beast

Today’s subjects are an ancient myth and a modern beast. The beast appears below in conjunction with details about two media interviews, one of which you can hear on the Internet. But first, the ancient myth . . .

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Babka needs a theme

Babka called me yesterday. Said he needed a theme for his radio show. I suggested he call John Williams. Maybe John could compose him something suitably Darth-Vaderish.::::::Babka sighed and said, “Not that kind of theme you dope. I mean theme as in subject. A description of what I’ll discuss.”::::::I said, “Well, what will you discuss?”::::::I heard another Babka sigh followed by, “If I could tell you that I wouldn’t be searching for a theme, you dope. I’m going to talk about lots of things, with no unifying theme.”::::::”Oh,” said I.::::::Silence followed. Crickets chirped. Babka sighed again. “What I really want,” said he, “Is for Downsizers to call and ask me questions. Surely they have some.”::::::”Well there you go,” said I, “the theme of the show is ‘Babka answers your questions.'”::::::And . . .::::::You guessed it. I heard another Babka sigh, followed by a click, and a dial tone. I guess I wasn’t much help. But you can succeed where I failed. Babka needs you. Call him. Ask him questions. Make assertions. Offer opinions. Rant. Rave. Suggest a theme. Read him your grocery list. The possibilities are endless, and the opportunity unprecedented. Use it. Abuse it. Do it today, at the following time and place . . .::::::You can call toll-free at 1-800-259-9231 or email CALL at DOWNSIZEDC dot ORG ::::::This hour-long program starts at 5:06 PM Eastern (4:06 PM Central, 3:06 PM Mountain, 2:06 PM Pacific, 1:06 PM Alaska).::::::To listen on the Net, go to and click on channels one or two for the free feed. You can sample the higher quality, subscription feed on channels three or four for 25 minutes.::::::Thank you for being a DC Downsizer. ::::::Perry Willis:::Communications, Inc.

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The War on Horse Eaters

Welcome to the Sept 5-9, 2006 edition of Last Week in Congress:::::::Much of Congress’s work last week centered on Defense appropriations for fiscal year 2007. The process is confusing. The House appointed members to the conference committee to work out differences between House and Senate versions of H.R. 5122, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. As of this writing the bill has a staggering 885 pages. But the Senate then passed H.R. 5631, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2007. The Government Printing Office’s PDF display has this bill at 269 pages, but almost half of it is marked out. I’m as confused as you are. Both bills, however, are in conference. Some way, some how, I suspect Congress will manage to shill out $440 billion or more for Defense by October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.::::::Through all the roll call votes, including amendments, resolutions, and procedural votes, I found just one other bill passed. This is the 8-page, $5 million H.R. 503, the Horse Protection Act that prohibits the sale and slaughter of horses for human consumption. With all the problems America faces – many of which the federal government itself caused – the House decided to spend time declaring a War on Horse Eaters. In a few years, we’ll probably have minimum ten-year sentences for “street” horsemeat dealers, and the death penalty for “horse kingpins.”::::::Horsemeat may sound repulsive to many Americans, but the decision to avoid horsemeat is a preference, not a moral obligation. Under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress might have the power to regulate the interstate transport of horses, and even that is probably unnecessary. To prohibit the sale and slaughter of horses for human consumption, however, violates our Ninth Amendment right to choose horsemeat if we prefer it. It also violates the Tenth Amendment, which limits Congress’s powers only to those enumerated in the Constitution. Telling us what we can and can’t eat isn’t one of them.

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Read the Bills Action

What we’re doing is so much fun because we make progress every day.

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Downsize DC Conference Call – September 10, 2006

Latest conference call…

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A Downsizer view of the news

Today (Sunday) there’s a brand new episode of the Downsize DC Conference Call (a radio show) with host Jim Babka; sponsored by Gun Owners of America, the Marijuana Policy Project, and ::::::This show will focus on targeted messages one might use to persuasively share the Downsize DC message with gun advocates, anti-war activists, environmentalists, and relatives. Persuasion expert Michael Cloud will join Jim to give his insights. ::::::Another subject will be Islamo-fascism. Does the label fit? Jim will explain what fascism really is, and whether or not it applies to the terrorists. ::::::Plus, we have our first major Downsize DC victory to talk about! . . . and much more. An hour will barely contain it all. It’s action packed and you won’t want to miss it. ::::::Jim calls the show a “conference call” because YOU can participate. You can call toll-free 1-800-259-9231 or email CALL at DOWNSIZEDC dot ORG ::::::This hour-long program starts at 5:06 PM Eastern (4:06 PM Central, 3:06 PM Mountain, 2:06 PM Pacific, 1:06 PM Alaska).::::::To listen on the Net . . . :::

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