Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Echo Chamber

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .::::::Subject: Piercing The Echo Chamber::::::Most members of Congress spend most of their time with other members of Congress, or with Beltway media types. It’s a small group of people, most of whom share similar opinions on a wide range of issues, with only a narrow margin of disagreement. It’s an environment tailor-made for Group Think. It’s an echo chamber.::::::I’m reminded of the woman from Greenwich Village who couldn’t understand how Nixon won in 1972 — everyone she knew voted for McGovern. That woman lived in an echo chamber too. ::::::It’s easy for Congress to assume that “the people” want what Congress wants, if they never hear any different. That’s why we need to make them hear what we think and what we want. We need to pierce the Congressional Echo Chamber. ::::::That’s the importance of what we’re doing in the short term.

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Numbers that matter

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .::::::Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this with others.::::::Quote of the Day:::::::“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”:::— attributed to Groucho Marx (in various versions)::::::Subject: Numbers that matter::::::More than 1,000 new people have joined DownsizeDC.org in January. This is more than we recruited in any single month all last year. We’re off to a great start. Thank you to those who helped spread the word, and welcome to all the new members of our Downsize DC Army. Your membership is important because . . .

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The FEC vs. Free Speech

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .::::::IMPORTANT UPDATE
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:::Good news! Opponents of the Protect America Act defeated two cloture motions yesterday. We will have more on this tomorrow, but the battle isn’t over yet. Please tell your Senators to let the Protect America Act expire, and to oppose any replacement.
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And now on to our regularly-scheduled Downsizer-Dispatch . . .
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:::QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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:::”It should be common sense that if individuals can speak without limit, so too can groups of individuals.
:::- Bradley Smith (former member of the Federal Election Commission)
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:::SUBJECT: The FEC vs. Free Speech

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:::A rich person, acting alone, can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose a candidate, without government interference. But the government will interfere plenty if two, or more, less wealthy people cooperate to match what the rich person spends.
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:::Individuals who cooperate to express opinions about candidates have to consult lawyers and accountants, file reports with the government, and potentially face large fines. They will also be limited to contributions of $5,000 each, while the rich person, acting alone, bears none of these burdens, and can spend millions.
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:::When it comes to political campaigns, one rich person has more rights than an infinite number of poor people.
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:::The federal government has a special gang it uses to control the right of people to cooperate to express opinions about candidates. It’s called the Federal Election Commission — FEC for short.

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The clock is ticking

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .::::::Quote of the Day:
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:::”The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
:::- Albert Camus
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:::Subject: The clock is ticking
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:::At the end of this week the so-called “Protect America Act” (PAA) will sunset out of existence. The House and Senate must both take action to either extend the deadline or replace the PAA with something else.
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:::A cloture vote will be held in the Senate this afternoon. If they get 60 votes for cloture then debate will end and the Senate will move to a vote on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s replacement for PAA. This is a bad bill. It has everything we don’t want, including immunity for the telecom companies that collaborated with the Bush administration to violate the Bill of Rights.
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:::That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is strong opposition in the Senate to this version of the replacement bill. If we can support that opposition it may prove impossible for the Senate to get the 60 votes needed for cloture. If we can prevent cloture then the clock could run out, and PAA will sunset.
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:::Send your Senators a message, and copy your House rep. too. Our system is already set-up to do that. Use your personal comments to ask your Senators to NOT vote for cloture on the replacement bill for PAA.
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:::But please take one more step. If one or more of your Senators is a Democrat, or one of the following Republican Senators — Hagel, Specter, Sununu — please pick up the phone and call them. Tell them you want the PAA to sunset, and that you want them to vote NO on cloture for the replacement for PAA.
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:::You will see the phone numbers for your Senators when you send your message to Congress, here.

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Where things stand with the “Enumerated Powers Act”

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .::::::Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this message with others.
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::: Quote of the Day:
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:::”Americans just want us to… not be concerned if they [new laws] can be constitutionally justified…Why, if we had to do that we could not pass most of the laws we enact around here.”
:::– Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) 07/16/96
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:::Subject: Where things stand with the “Enumerated Powers Act”

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:::The “Enumerated Powers Act” would compel Congress to cite the section of the U.S. Constitution that provides the authority for every law they pass. We first introduced this bill to Downsizers on December 19, 2007, but what we didn’t tell you is that this bill already has 38 sponsors in the House of Representatives.
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:::You see, it is possible for members of Congress to support good legislation once in a while. That’s the good news.
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:::But the bad news is that no Senator has yet signed on as a co-sponsor, and there are no new co-sponsors in the House since December 12th. Can we encourage more Representatives and maybe a few Senators to climb on board? Let’s try.
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Urgent Action Item

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .::::::Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this message with others.
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::: Quote of the Day:
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:::”No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
:::– Judge Gideon J. Tucker (1826-1899)
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::: Subject: Urgent Action Item
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:::The Senate may vote today to replace or extend the “Protect America Act” (PAA), a law that legalizes warrantless spying on Americans.
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:::There is a version of a replacement bill that some organizations describe as acceptable. For one thing, it does not grant immunity to the telecom companies that participated in spying on Americans when such spying was still illegal. However, we have stopped asking you to ask Congress to favor this bill because . . .
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:::We think we are more likely to get what we want, or a better compromise, if we ask for what we want, which is the termination of PAA.
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:::We think it is strategically unsound to ask for less than what you really want. Doing so sends Congress a message that it is safe to compromise in the wrong direction. By asking for what we want, even if it is not what Congress is likely to grant, we make it more likely that any resulting compromise will be in the right direction.
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:::Now, this may be your last chance to influence what Congress does. Please ask Congress to repeal the PAA, or let it sunset out of existence.
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:::Also, in other news, gold moved above $900 an ounce this morning. Investors are trying to protect themselves from the Fed’s inflationary interest rate cut from earlier in the week. You might want to send Congress a message urging passage of the “Honest Money Act,” and mention $900 gold in your personal comments.
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Changing the Environment

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .:::Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this message with others.
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::: Quote of the Day:
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:::”If you don’t trust gold, do you trust the logic of taking a pine tree, worth $4,000-$5,000, cutting it up, turning it into pulp, putting some ink on it and then calling it one billion dollars?”
:::- Kenneth J. Gerbino
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::: Subject: Changing the environment
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:::The “American Spectator” reports that Mike Huckabee is out of money. His campaign workers are now having to volunteer. The same with Giuliani. People will vote for these guys, but they won’t fund them. 
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:::We find this fascinating and instructive. People are easy with their votes, but stingy with their dollars. This tells us that support for the Big Government status quo is only an inch deep, though it remains a mile wide.
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:::The Big Government Establishment is running on fumes. It continues to dominate through sheer inertia, and because it retains the loyalty of the most important constituency of all — the mainstream media.
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:::The media, under the guise of reporting, can provide its favored candidates with massive free advertising, without regulation from the campaign finance laws.
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:::This is what keeps the house of cards standing.

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Sunset the “Protect America Act”

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . . ::::::Quote of the Day:
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:::”To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in orderto secure conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.”
:::– Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) US Supreme Court Justice
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:::Subject: Sunset the “Protect America Act”
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:::We need to keep hitting Congress on the “Protect America Act” (PAA).
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:::The “Protect America Act” — which legalizes warrantless spying on Americans — will sunset out of existence on February 1 unless Congress either agrees to a replacement bill, or votes to extend the sunset deadline. The Senate is having a hard time reaching an agreement on a replacement bill, so the main opportunity and threat is the deadline extension.
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:::We must tell both the Senate and the House to let the PAA expire, and to oppose any replacement bill.

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:::We also asked you to do this last Friday, but there were problems with the campaign that took us a while to fix. But the problems are now fixed, so you can go forth and pound Congress with confidence that they will get your message. PAA will either die or be extended in the next couple of weeks, so the time to act is now.
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:::Thank your for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.
:::
:::Perry Willis
:::Communications Director
:::DownsizeDC.org, Inc. ::::::

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Wisdom From the Past

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .:::Let us begin with an extended quote:
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:::”Mr. Speaker, today the Chief Executive sent to this House of Representatives a . . . bill for immediate enactment. The author of this bill seems to be unknown. No one has told us who drafted the bill. There appears to be a printed copy at the speakers desk, but no printed copies are available for the House Members. The bill has been driven through the House with cyclonic speed after 40 minutes debate, 20 minutes for the minority and 20 minutes for the majority. I have demanded a roll call, but have been unable to get the attention of the Chair. Others have done the same . . .
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:::”I want to put myself on record against procedure of this kind and against the use of such methods in passing legislation affecting millions of lives and billions of dollars. It is safe to say that in normal times. after careful study of a printed copy and after careful debate and consideration, this bill would never have passed this House or any other House. Its passage could be accomplished only by rapid procedure, hurried and hectic debate, and a general rush for voting without roll call.
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:::”I am suspicious of this railroading of bills through our House of Representatives, and I refuse to vote for a measure unseen and unknown.

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Economic Collapse

On today’s (Sunday) Downsize DC Conference Call, my now 2 hour long radio show, my guest will be Jack Mullen. Jack is Chair of the Downsize DC Foundation, a businessman with several businesses, and an investor.
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:::He convinced me to buy gold. I waited too long, and gold went up in price. He said, it’s not too late. And he was right. Already, I’m profiting.
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:::Our topic today is the economic collapse. What does it mean to you? …to your neighbors and friends? How do we explain things like fiat currency, fractional reserve banking, and so forth? Why bother?
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:::And what are you doing to prepare for the coming economic earthquake?
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:::Tune in at 3:06 PM Eastern (2:06 PM Central, 1:06 PM Mountain, 12:06 PM Pacific).
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:::More on that in a moment, but first . . .
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