Monthly Archives: May 2008

More Good News

Quote of the Day:
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:::”I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
:::– Mark Twain
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:::Fact of the Day:
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:::Most mass transit systems cause more greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than the average automobile. For example, the Washington Metro produces almost 20 percent more CO2 per passenger mile than the average car. The cost of cutting a ton of emissions through more fuel-efficient cars is near zero. The cost of doing so through rail transit is nearly $5,000 per ton.
:::– Courtesy of Randal O’Toole at the Cato Institute
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:::Subject: May Achievements

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:::In May . . .
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:::* DownsizeDC.org recruited 625 new DC Downsizers which brings us to 4,110 new recruits for the year — 992 ahead of last year’s pace
:::* YOU sent 47,580 messages to Congress, bringing us to 230,298 messages for the year — 83,556 ahead of last year’s pace
:::* We distributed 342,878 copies of the Downsizer Dispatch, bringing us to 2,116,793 for the year — 71,355 ahead of last year’s pace
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:::This is a lot of Education, Recruitment, and Action, achieved at a very low cost, both in time and money. In addition . . .

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A Free Newsletter For You

Quotes of the Day:
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:::”The quotes on your emails keep me checking back. — E.K., SD
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:::”Thank you for the information you are continuously giving. I wish everybody would read it.” — M.B., CA
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:::”I love your positive messages… I send out your emails to 80 friends.” — A.D., CA
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:::”Excellent work. The writing is surperb.” — L.G., IL
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:::Subject: A Free Newsletter For You
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:::Do you value the Downsizer-Dispatch? We want each of these messages to be informative to you. In today’s Dispatch, for example, you’ll learn something new about ethanol and solutions to the challenge of CO2 emissions.
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:::We devote a great deal of time and thought to these Downsizer-Dispatch messages. We strive to present you with the most essential details, using lively and direct sentences placed in crisp paragraphs.
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:::I guess you could say we’re on a constant quest for clarity. Issues must be clear to us before we can make them clear to you. This can be difficult, and we don’t always hit our mark.
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:::Agriculture subsidies are a case in point. The issue itself is clear. Subsidies are bad. But the legislation that generates these subsidies is huge and incredibly complex. We found it challenging to dig out the essential facts and arguments. Even more surprising, that digging led to an unexpected place — a campaign against ethanol subsidies.
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:::But even an issue as seemingly clear as ethanol subsidies is fraught with complexities.

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Good News & Bad News on FISA

Quote of the day:
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:::”Fear can only prevail when victims are ignorant of the facts.”
:::– Thomas Jefferson
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:::Subject: Good News and Bad News
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:::I have bad news and good news.
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:::We devoted all last week to combating warrantless surveillance and retroactive telecom immunity. We had reason to believe the issue would be shelved if we could prevent a vote before the weekend. No vote was held, but the issue hasn’t been shelved yet.
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:::Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) says a deal is close. We don’t know all the details. We only know what Bond and a couple of his Republican allies have chosen to share with the world. But what we do know isn’t good. Here’s what we’re hearing about the proposed “compromise” . . . 
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:::* If the Executive Branch wants to spy on the private conversations of American residents and businesses with friends, family, colleagues, and service members abroad, MOST OF THE TIME the Executive Branch will need a general order, rubber-stamped by a Secret Court and certified by the Attorney General (AG). This will permit the Executive Branch to monitor and acquire international communications, by Americans, even if they have no ties to groups like al Qaeda.
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:::* But if there are “exigent circumstances,” then the standard will be lowered. The Senator didn’t provide his devilish details. Perhaps no Secret Court would be required. Maybe all the Executive Branch will need is the AG certification of the surveillance.
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:::* Who will define exigent circumstances? Apparently, under Senator Bond’s proposal, the Executive Branch will do that. 
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:::This is a rogue prosecutor’s fantasy.
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:::Senator Bond considers his proposal to be a compromise on the subject of retroactive telecom immunity. So how would Bond handle the existing court cases against the telecom companies? 
::: 

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Can Congress Govern Itself?

Can Congress Govern Itself?

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Decentralized Goodness

Quote of the Day:
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:::”Research and development (R&D) activities undertaken by the business sector seem to have high social returns, while no clear-cut relationship could be established between (government funded) non-business-oriented R&D activities and growth.”
:::– from a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
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:::Subject: Decentralized goodness
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:::At Downsize DC, we do what we do because we want YOU to be rich.
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We believe everyone could be vastly more affluent if the government spent less and did less, leaving increased resources for people like YOU to spend more and do more.
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The U.S. Gross Domestic Product is about $14.5 trillion. Total federal spending is just shy of $3 trillion. The federal government takes a huge bite out of the national wealth.
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:::We believe GDP would be vastly higher if federal spending was vastly lower.
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:::Here at Downsize DC, we try to keep up with all the evidence that justifies this claim. We can’t. There’s simply too much. It’s like trying to drink water from a fire hose. But here’s just one example . . .
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:::Everyone is feeling the pinch of increased gasoline prices. But that’s nothing compared to the rate at which the cost of first class postage has risen. The average price of gasoline has increased 1,400% in the last 89 years, but the price of a first class stamp has risen 2,100%.
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:::There are many reasons for this. Here’s a big one: Government is a monopoly. It has no incentives to economize. Another problem is that spending decisions are made for political reasons, not because the social benefits outweigh the costs. Here’s another example, that relates to the first one  . . .

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Deadline

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .::::::Subject: One last push on FISA::::::We’re at the deadline. Congress leaves town tomorrow, and as usual they like to pass lots of bill really quickly right before they go. Let’s make sure they don’t rush though a law giving the President warrantless spying powers, and/or immunity for the telecoms that participated in past warrantless spying.::::::Thank you to all the DC Downsizers who sent messages on this issue this week. If you haven’t sent a message yet, please do so now, here.::::::If you’ve already sent a message, please use our “I am not afraid” campaign to send another one. This campaign is our effort to convince Congress to make their response to terrorism proportional to the threat. You can use your personal comments to also tell them that you oppose warrantless spying and immunity for the telecoms. You can send that message here. ::::::Finally, we still need calls to the Blue Dog Democrats telling them to NOT sign the discharge petition that would bring the bad Senate FISA bill to an immediate vote in the House. If your rep is on this list, please call them . . .

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Nearing the Finish Line

Change the political environment. Recruit more DC Downsizers. Share this message with others.
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:::Quote of the Day:
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:::”We’ve witnessed a fire sale of American liberties at bargain basement prices, in return for the false promise of more security… The America being designed right now won’t resemble the America we’ve been defending… The danger isn’t that Big Brother may storm the castle gates. The danger is that Americans don’t realize that he is already inside the castle walls.”
:::– Wayne LaPierre
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:::Subject: Two days left to stop warrantless spying
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:::We’ve campaigned against warrantless spying since Summer, 2006. During that time, with various campaigns, we’ve sent 122,526 messages to Congress on this one issue. It’s had an impact — most notably when the House allowed the so-called “Protect America Act” to sunset out of existence.
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:::We have today and tomorrow to secure what may be a final victory.
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:::DC Downsizers have sent roughly 8,000 more messages to Congress in the last five days. If everyone reading this message would write Congress, 60,400 more messages could be sent. Today would be a good day to do so.
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:::If you oppose warrantless spying and immunity for the telecom companies that engaged in illegal surveillance

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FISA Urgent Action Needed

Quote of the Day:
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:::”When I was young American politics were fairly straightforward: conservatives let you keep all your money in return for telling you how to live your life, while liberals let you live as you pleased in return for all your money. Now the only difference is whether they want your money or your life first.”
:::– D.A. Ridgely
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:::Subject: Urgent action needed on warrantless spying bills

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:::The deadline is two days from now, Thursday, May 22, 2008. If, by that date, we can prevent Congress from giving the President expanded powers to spy on American citizens, then we’re likely to have won a long lasting victory.
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:::But if we fail, the damage to the Bill of Rights may also be long lasting. And there’s a new danger afoot . . .
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:::In February the Senate passed a bill that . . .
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:::* Gave the President warrantless spying powers
:::* Gave the telecom companies immunity for their past illegal spying
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:::Bad as it is, this Senate bill hasn’t been a real threat before, because our coalition persuaded the House leadership to oppose it. Now, however, the House Republicans are close to having enough sponsors for something called a discharge petition. This would allow the Senate bill to be brought to a vote in the House, no matter what the House leadership wants.
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:::The Republicans currently have 190 sponsors for the discharge petition. They need 218. If they can find 28 more sponsors then they can bring the bill to a vote, and it may pass, unless we stop it.
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:::The Republicans have a potential source of those 28 additional sponsors —

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Do We Live in a Democracy?

Every time we use the word “democracy” we get complaints about our choice of words . . .

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Dangerous Democracy

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .::::::Change the political environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this message with others.
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:::Quote of the Day:
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:::”The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
:::– Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State (Source: New York Times, Oct. 28, 1973)
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:::Subject: Dangerous Democracy
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:::President Bush probably meant to do good by bringing democracy to Iraq, but it’s hard to succeed when you’re aiming at the wrong thing.
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:::The President has always assumed that democracy is what made America good and great. He thinks it could do the same for Iraq, and many others agree. But is it true?
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:::Iraq now has a representative democracy, but strangely, it seems to be a source of violence, not peace. 
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  • The Sunni minority fears majority democratic rule by the Shia
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  • Iraqi women fear that they’ll be subjected to fundamentalist Islamic law, imposed by democratic means
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  • And the Shia are afraid to share power with the Sunni lest it result in the return of full Sunni control
  • :::

:::All these fears are justified, because representative democracy can be just as tyrannical as any other form of government. 
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:::What made American democracy different was that our Founders limited the power of government, and of majority rule. These limits, and not representative democracy itself, are what made America good and great.
:::
:::This point is difficult for politicians like President Bush to understand.

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