April 11, 2007
We get angry mail
By Perry Willis
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Please share with concerned friends . . . Subject: Repealing the Patriot Act Our call to repeal the Patriot Act generated hate mail. In between the many curse words employed by some of the angry mailers, their basic arguments reduced to this . . . The burden of proof lies with us, not the government. If the government says it needs new powers in order to protect us, then we must grant those powers. Take this argument to its logical conclusion and there is no basis for retaining a democratic republic of constitutionally limited powers. The government merely needs to make claims and we must accept them. We do not like this argument or its logical consequences, so we take the opposite approach. Government has a monopoly of the use of force. This is a supreme power, and a dangerous one. Therefore, this monopoly must be controlled and limited. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is one way to do this. DISTRUST of government in the minds of citizens is another. The politicians running the government routinely ignore constitutional limits. Therefore, an inherent and consistent distrust of government, on the part of the people, is indispensable. The burden of proof must ALWAYS rest on the government's shoulders. Critical thinking, even distrust, should be the automatic response of every citizen to every government request to remove or reduce legal limits on its powers. There are few more compelling proofs of the need for this distrust than the response of our government to the 9-11 attack. It is a record of lies, incompetence, and opportunism. The Patriot Act stands at the heart of this history of monopoly power run amok. The Patriot Act was not even available for members of Congress to read at the time they passed it into law. If you did not know this, and it comes as a shock to you, NOW might be the time to send Congress a message calling for them to pass Downsize DC's "Read the Bills Act." You can do so here. Contained within the renewal of the very large Patriot Act was a provision removing checks-and-balances in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently expressed shock that Congress had passed such a thing, all but admitting that she and her colleagues hadn't read the bill. This is one more argument you can make to Congress about the need for the "Read the Bills Act," and one more reason why you should consistently distrust your government. Prior to the 9-11 attacks, as every American should now know, based on nationally televised testimony before Congress, the FBI knew that suspected terrorists were in the United States, planning an attack. They also knew that some of these suspects were learning how to fly planes, but NOT how to land them. All of this knowledge was gained without the Patriot Act. We did not need the Patriot Act then, and we do not need it now. What we need is a smaller, more streamlined government that can actually FOCUS ON PROTECTING US. Since 9-11 our government has done everything BUT FOCUS. It has run off in a thousand different directions, assuming new powers, and creating new thickets of bureaucracy. It has devoted more resources to starting an unnecessary war in Iraq than it has to catching the people who attacked us. And . . . There's no publicly available testimony that evidence obtained through the Patriot Act has been used to convict a single person. Given that the Patriot Act has been such a lightening rod issue, we should expect that exhibits of Patriot Act successes would be very well known, shouldn't we? But they're not. Instead, we have evidence that the government has abused its Patriot Act powers (which we shared with you Monday). Distrust of government as a default position is justified by the monopoly nature of government power. But that was not what we asked of anyone in our Monday message. Distrust of government is also justified by the massive evidence that government consistently abuses its power. And that's what we presented. It is time for citizens to do their job. It is time for us to fulfill our role as a bulwark against the monopoly power of government. It is time for us to demand that Congress repeal the Patriot Act. You can do so here. But we must also do more. We must stop playing defense and start playing offense. The "Read the Bills Act" is one powerful weapon in our offensive arsenal. But we need more. We also need the "One Subject at a Time Act" to prevent politicians from combining unrelated provisions into one bill -- like they did with the Patriot Act. We want to launch the "One Subject at a Time Act" sooner rather than later, but we will not do so without adequate financial support. Specifically, we need more monthly credit card pledgers. When we have $7,500 a month in pledges, we will launch the "One Subject at a Time Act." Here's what we need to get there . . . * 400 people pledging a dime a day ($3 a month) would do it. * So would 240 people pledging 16 cents per day ($5 a month), or . . . * 120 people pledging 34 cents per day ($10 a month), or . . . * 60 people pledging 67 cents per day ($20 a month), or . . . * 16 people pledging about $2.50 per day ($76 a month) would do it. Those people can be new pledgers or current pledgers increasing their pledges by those amounts. But those amounts are not a lot. If you want to help you can do so HERE. We suspect that the "One Subject at a Time Act" will be as popular as the "Read the Bills Act." if not more so. It might even get introduced in Congress first. We won't know until we launch it and we cannot launch without your support. Pledgers who support us will be perpetually listed as "sponsors" of this bill on the website page dedicated to the "One Subject at a Time Act." (unless they choose not to be listed). Please, add your name to the roster by starting a monthly pledge today. Thank you for being a DC Downsizer, Jim Babka President, Inc.
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