May 23, 1997 - #36
by: Doug Fiedor - email@example.com
Previous Editions at: http://mmc.cns.net/headsup.html
Yeah. Count 'em -- three new commissions.
Yup, deep-thinking Al is going to "reinvent" the IRS for us just like he "reinvented government" a couple years ago. (Remember that? Have you noticed the results yet?) This it typical Gore, too: confused! Read on and you'll see.
"We don't need to -- and we should not -- turn the IRS over to a board of outsiders," Gore told reporters at a news conference also attended by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. "We need to fix it."
"For the vast majority of Americans who want to do the right thing, the IRS should do right by them, and that means treating them with respect and trust," Gore said.
Apparently to Ozone Head, "do the right thing" means do as the IRS tells us. And here's a thought: Are those of us not part of that "majority" he speaks of to receive the "normal" IRS treatment?
Oh, and as for the proposal itself, well . . . one task force, led by IRS employees, is to report within 90 days on how to make the agency more "customer-friendly." That should be about as interesting as watching ice melt!
Then, Al proposes creating an IRS management board to improve agency administration. Hopefully, that will force the IRS to stop wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on computer equipment that doesn't work. But wait a minute here. . . . This board will also be made up of bureaucrats, which probably means even more cover- up of waste, fraud and abuse.
And for the third commission -- exactly as he said he would not do above -- the bumbling vice president called for a separate advisory board outside government to bring private-sector and consumer expertise to IRS management. "There is nothing standing between government and private-sector efficiency that hard work and imagination will not overcome," Gore said.
Yes there is, Al. Yes there is. They're a creature known as federal bureaucrats. And bureaucrats have absolutely nothing in common with private sector efficiency because they are a law unto themselves.
Not to be completely left out, Rubin added that granting the IRS commissioner a fixed five-year term is necessary "for greater continuity of leadership and an improved focus on ongoing management."
Rubin also proposed that the treasury secretary and deputy secretary answer twice yearly to a congressional committee on their oversight of IRS operations. He said the move would ensure "that all future occupants of these positions energetically fulfill these responsibilities because of highly public accountability."
Well folks, if Bob Rubin expects Congress to do something about the IRS he must be as far out there as Ozone Head Al. Because, every Member of Congress knows exactly what a mess they created with the IRS. If they cared at all, the problem would have been corrected years ago. Instead, every year they just keep adding more law and making it worse.
Anyway, the Washington babble is fun to write about.
Seriously though, look for changes in the IRS about the same time the federal budget balances. That will be the very same year the American people get mad enough to hire legislators who can read and follow their job description manual: The Constitution.
Early reports by the new House administrator were kind of funny, actually. Ronald Kessler writes in his soon to be released new book, "Inside Congress: The Shocking Scandals, Corruption, and Abuse of Power Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill," that the management expert brought in to oversee House administration soon became convinced that the House "was the most disastrously run, self-indulgent, out-of-control organization he'd ever seen or heard of." You know, typical Washington stuff.
But it gets even better.
One of the first things the Republicans did when they took over was to commission an audit by Price Waterhouse. Price Waterhouse soon concluded that the House books were such a mess they could not be audited.
The Democrats were still keeping the House books on paper ledgers, the same way they were back when James Madison was a representative.
Now let's remember something here folks; these legislators were the very same clowns who wrote our tax laws. Yet, they didn't even know how to keep the books for the House of Representatives. Anyone wonder why the tax laws are such a mess?
It wasn't till last July, when Price Waterhouse had finished a second audit, that they certified that the books had been brought up to date and were in proper order. (Too bad we can't let them do the same with the tax laws!)
As with most government offices, there were a lot of strict rules under the Democrat run house. But, as usual, rules didn't matter much to the Lords and Ladies of Capitol Hill. "Procurement rules were a joke, so members got waivers from the Committee on House Administration to do almost anything they wanted." Yeah, you betcha! And this accounts for the fancy, over-priced furnishings in many Congressional offices -- among other things.
There's a cute story about old Tom Foolery in the new book too. Former Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley and his wife maintained what amounted to a hideaway apartment in the Capitol building. "You walked in the door and there was her desk and a small room. No one was allowed behind that desk. Some of us went past that desk. We found a stairway that had been built at Foley's instruction to the second floor. In essence, it was an apartment, with a wet bar, a bedroom, a full bath. It had a kitchen unit. Even some of the Democrats didn't know about it. We were able to attribute at least $68,000 to the construction of that space. No one knew it existed. It was not in the blueprints."
Now comes another interesting angle: censorship.
Just about the time we were sending out Heads Up last Friday, this story was scheduled to be the lead on ABC's newsmagazine program "20/20." It was promoted on earlier ABC news shows, but it did not appear.
Some of the points to be made in the show include revelations about spending on expensive furniture for committee chairmen and sexual excesses by members of Congress. So, when ABC Chairman Roone Arledge and President David Westin viewed the report Thursday, they canceled it.
"Arledge and Westin killed it out of fear," Kessler said. He felt that ABC was concerned that Members of Congress might boycott ABC news programs if it ran.
Richard Wald, the ABC News senior vice president for editorial quality, originally approved the piece. He then recanted after his bosses nixed it. Wald said that Kessler's reaction was tied to his desire to "get publicity for his book."
Kessler said, "That might be part of it. But I also think it's outrageous that there is this kind of suppression in the press."
That's a very interesting statement coming from a former Washington Post reporter. He should know exactly how that works. The Washington Post does a lot of that too.
Anyway, ABC News has a synergistic relationship with the liberals in government, and the book pokes fun at a lot of Congressional liberals. It is not important to ABC that Kessler will do everything humanly possible to drag a few Republicans into the muck. With very few exceptions, liberals are not to be depicted in a bad light on ABC. Period.
Probably, there are many more interesting stories of excess and fraud in the operation of the House, and Kessler may have a very interesting book.
Nevada passed a law that makes it illegal to ride a camel on any of the state's highways. Wilber, Washington took that a step further. They prohibited the riding of ugly horses in public.
In Hartford Connecticut it is illegal to teach or educate a dog, so we suggest you wear your boots when entering the home of that couple with three Great Danes.
Some of these local laws are fun to read because they can sound really stupid out of context. Federal laws are even worse because, usually, there really is no proper "context." Many of our federal "laws" are little more than bureaucratic decrees, which are imposed on us with the force of law.
Below is one such example that any of us who have lived in California and played with these beasts will appreciate.
A few weeks ago a family owning a 21 foot sailboat had an unexpected visitor: An 800 pound sea lion. The beast got on the boat, and refused to leave.
Now comes the federal law: Federal law makes it illegal to harm -- or even annoy -- a marine mammal.
So . . . during it's month long stay, "Stinky" as the family named it, crushed everything near the rear of the boat and used the rear deck as a latrine.
Harbor Patrol officials had an idea that might help -- even though it was "technically" illegal. They revved their big boat engines next to the sailboat and Stinky decided to leave. Then they towed the sailboat out of there.
Stinky quickly boarded another boat. But apparently he didn't like it there and disappeared soon thereafter.
Harbor Police predict that Stinky will not be gone long, though. There's too much free food -- scraps from the local fishing boat -- floating in the water.
And there you have it folks, the trials and tribulations of one family, brought to you simply because some federal bureaucrat thinks sea mammals are more important than a human family.
Has anyone ever stopped to wonder what George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the boys from the Constitutional Convention would do about things like this?
If they ran true to character, George would get the rope, Hamilton would get the gun, and the rest would cheer them on. However, it's unclear which one they would go after first, the bureaucrat or the beast.
Ben Franklin's newspapers, we might add, also wrote frequently about a specifically effective application for tar and feathers. . . .
No matter, though. Pre$ident Clinton thinks it's more important "to bring China into the family of nations and to secure our interests and our ideals. We're more likely to have a positive influence on China by engaging them than we are by trying to isolate them," the Pre$ident said.
So, Clinton wants to give China Most Favored Nation (MFN) status so they can sell those prison-camp produced Christmas lights in the United States at a price that undercuts American producers.
Renewing China's MFN status is an annual decision. Every president has granted it since 1980.
This year, however, the subject is expected to be controversial in Congress. Some legislators have already said they will seek to reverse the decision.
For instance, Rep. Bill Paxon, (R-N.Y.) said he will no longer support granting China preferable trade status. Paxon says the administration's policy of "constructive engagement" with China had failed to produce improvements in China's human rights records or bring an end to Chinese weapons sales. He said China had not done enough to open its markets to American goods, and cited allegations that the Beijing government tried to illegally funnel money into U.S. elections last year.
The proponents to granting China MFN status say that there is a big economic incentive for the United States to continue normal trade relations. The administration estimates that 170,000 U.S. jobs depend on exports to China and that ending MFN could cost U.S.
consumers $600 million a year in higher prices for shoes, clothing and appliances. "The vote on MFN is a vote on how best to protect U.S. interests, not an endorsement of China's policies," U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky told reporters this week.
It's true too, folks. Putting the screws to China "could" cost each American citizen a little over two- bucks each a year. The administration's "estimate" about the jobs lost is ridiculous, though. In reality, many of our jobs have been sent over there. In reality, the United States still has a few factories that can produce Christmas tree lights, shoes, clothing and appliances.
And in reality, we have American citizens who would like the work.
Reuters reports that opponents of U.S. trade concessions to China are expected to mount the fiercest congressional battle in years to overturn Pre$ident Clinton's decision to renew China's favored trading status.
They report that, while supporters of the Pre$ident's decision Monday to renew China's most favored nation (MFN) status for another year remain confident of victory, opponents -- ranging from social conservatives to organized labor -- are revving up for a fight.
That's true. This year, many people from both sides of the political spectrum are fighting MFN status for China. Union groups and conservative groups alike oppose it. Reuters may well be right. This could end up being one hell of a good Congressional food fight.
There's a problem, though. The majority of Congress -- and the majority of Americans -- may oppose MFN status for China, but because of a stupid law chances are excellent it will pass anyway.
Under this stupid law, which reverses the normal Constitutional procedure for making law, Clinton must formally inform Congress of his decision by June 3. If Congress wants to overturn the decision, it will have until Aug. 31 to pass a joint resolution disapproving it.
But, Pre$ident Clinton can veto the resolution.
Then both chambers would have to muster a two-thirds majority to override his veto. And folks, it is not likely Congress will override a veto unless we start putting pressure on them now.
Telephone calls and postcards are all it takes.
Call the local offices of your three Members of Congress. Then drop a postcard to their Washington offices.
Else, when you purchase those 'made in China' Christmas lights next December, perhaps you will remember that they were probably produced by Christians -- Christians who will not be celebrating Christmas because they are imprisoned in those Chinese work camps simply because they are Christians.
As you wrap up your week of celebrating "recent Republican achievements" with politicians, perhaps it is now time to discuss ideas that could spur major grassroots growth for the party.
The question, "What would be necessary to attract major blocks of Americans to the Republican Party," has only been asked in political terms. That is, the party leadership discusses subjects like taxes, abortion, education and legislation. What is forgotten can be described in only one word. And this is a word that is very near and dear to the hearts of every American citizen: Freedom.
It's a problem of perception, Jim. You, the political leadership, tell us that you will sponsor this, that and whatever legislation to change this, that and whatever problem you've identified this week. And we voters, in turn, are expected to believe that this new legislation will somehow help us.
But it never quite works that way.
We already have more federal laws than any person can understand. We certainly do not need any more. On top of that, we have more than one-hundred- million words of federal rules and regulations. No person will ever read and understand all that either.
The analogy is that of a one way street down that slippery slope of justice; a road which contains many turns of unexpected consequences, and eventually leads down to the state of tyranny. Because, when the volume of law enacted by government far exceeds the ability of the governed to comprehend, there is, in effect, no law.
The unexpected consequence, then, is exactly what we see today: selective tyranny by federal agents.
In The Federalist Papers No. 62 James Madison admonishes: "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"
Was Madison a prophet? That is exactly our situation today.
The Republican Party allowed some very oppressive laws to get through Congress. For instance, they started by gutting the Fourth Amendment with HR-666. Then came that anti-terrorist bill, national ID cards, more gun laws, new taxes, and even harsher drug laws. Each and every one of these laws severely limits that one aspect of American life most valued in the hearts of all Americans: Personal Freedom.
And what of the laws, rules and regulations that were repealed? Right! There were none repealed; just more piled on.
Democrats limit our freedom through socialism.
Now republicans are limiting our freedom through authoritarianism. Regardless, the theme seems to be the same: Total and complete control of the people.
We citizens are starting to do a little research on all this restriction of personal freedom. Many of us are now starting to realize that most -- not just many, but most -- of these laws, rules and regulations are unconstitutional. According to the words of the Founding Fathers, we learn that the most important function of government is to protect our rights, not to limit them under color of fighting crime. As Ben Franklin instructed, "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Most Americans agree with that statement.
Americans are starting to read their Constitution again. And when they compare the Constitution with the actions of the federal government they see a dilemma.
Let's face it; there's little relation between the two.
Worse yet, after hearing of all these new and oppressive laws, many Americans actually fear the possible repercussions of speaking up.
Unfortunately, this is true, Jim. And that is exactly why many people will not get involved in politics. Americans fear their government! Therefore, they prefer to stay just as far away from as much of it as possible.
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich suggested a while back that Americans read texts such as The Federalist Papers. Many of us did. In the Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton puts part of the problem we have with the federal government in proper prospective for us:
"There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid."
Strong stuff, isn't it! "No legislative act, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid." There is certainly no equivocation there. That is quite a concept, especially coming from a man who actively participated in the Convention that wrote our Constitution. It should be noted too that Hamilton was a bit of an authoritarian. At the Constitutional Convention, and within the Cabinet of the Washington Administration, he was a major proponent of a strong central government.
However, as Hamilton admitted, there are (were) real limits to the authority vested in the federal government by the Constitution. Yet, last week one popular Republican Congressman admitted in an off the cuff comment on CSPAN that, "Everything we do in Congress is Constitutional unless the Supreme Court knocks it down."
This attitude presents a definite problem! All members of government take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. One would think that would also include legislating within the authority defined within the Constitution. But, obviously that is not the situation today.
Term limits were proposed as a method of insuring legislators are more responsive to the real wishes of the people. Last week, on the Evans and Novak television show, America heard Senator Orrin Hatch refute term limits with the remark, "If we move to that system, we'll loose our Constitutional form of life."
Indeed. This is exactly the type of hubris prevailing in Washington that we must abolish! Because, if we are to believe the words of the Founding Fathers, the United States Constitution has not been in effect since the Roosevelt administration. The new ideas brought to Washington by term limits, while maybe not being the cure to the problem of Constitutional malignancy, would certainly go far in treating the symptoms.
You report that "The Republican Party is going strong," and for that I congratulate you. But I hope you also understand that most of the growth of the Republican Party is directly due to the professed socialism of the Democratic Party. That is, moderate Democrats have only two choices, either support socialists or support Republicans.
Most American people, however, are looking for something entirely different. And here comes that "freedom" word again.
The next great American leader, the next great American political party, will be the one supporting all of those individual rights and liberties -- and yes, freedoms -- intended by the authors of our Constitution.
Americans want all of their individual rights returned, and we want severe restraints on the federal government. This can easily be accomplished through the Republican Party, but it will require a little effort and planning.
You have only to ask, Jim. Ask voters if they will support a political party that fully supports all of those original ideals professed by the Founding Fathers.
Ask who would support a candidate and a political party that is willing to recoup all personal freedoms promised American citizens by the men who signed our Constitution into law. You may be very, very surprised at the response.
One thing I can promise you, Jim: If you start this, the "silent majority" -- including all those voters who sat out the last two elections -- will be silent no more.
If the Republicans do not take this position, some other group will. Regardless, the days of the political status quo in Washington are numbered. The will of the American people shall prevail.