Some Free Advice For Congress

With Congressional approval at incredibly dismal levels (I believe polls place them around the level of used-car salesmen, serial killers, and lawyers, and they’re heading towards pedophiles and telemarketers), I find myself wanting to offer them some advice.

The advice I have to offer is simple:

DO SOMETHING.

This is awkward, as my libertarian streak strongly believes that “that government is best which governs least,” as Thomas Paine put it, but “least” means that they have some things they need to do, and they’re failing miserably at that.

Let’s start off with the budget. That’s the main duty of Congress — indeed, it’s the very first duty assigned to Congress by the Constitution. (Article I, Section 7 — “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”)

The last federal budget expired on October 1. Congress has not, to the best of my knowledge, passed a single budget bill since then. And the few times they’ve even come close, they’ve tried to play politics and/or stuff them with enough pork to guarantee every single Muslim in the world a one-way trip to Hell — if it were, indeed, actual pig meat and distributed evenly.

Instead, they’ve played their little games with investigating the Bush administration (I believe the total is over 600 at this point), grandstanding, pointing fingers, and howling like a bunch of… well howler monkeys over everything and anything BUT their actual jobs.

Next up, once they’ve actually passed a budget, they can stop their howling and whining and shrieking and actually try putting some meat to their complaints.

For example, let’s start up with a fun topic — waterboarding.

During Attorney General Mukasey’s recent confirmation hearings, he was pressed repeatedly by Democratic senators to define waterboarding as torture, and to repudiate the practice. Mr. Mukasey refused, and rightfully so — the Attorney General is part of the Executive branch, and their Constitutional duty is to enforce the laws.

Not make the laws. That’s the responsibility of another branch. I think it’s called “Congress.”

If Congress wants waterboarding to be considered torture, then all they have to do is pass a law defining it as such. Then — ka-pow! — case closed. Argument over.

But it’s easier and more fun to point and waggle fingers at the Executive branch for not following non-existent laws, to slough off their Constitutional duties and insist that the president do their job for them. Especially if that means they can later howl about the president overreaching his authority.

Finally, there’s been a bit of talk about the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions. Some gibbering dolts (I’m trying not to point fingers here) have brought them up in light of the defeat of John Howard in Australia, saying that his successor, Kevin Rudd, has said he will get the Aussies to comply. This ties in — somehow — to President Bush’s refusal to submit the Kyoto Protocol to Congress for approval.

A little history lesson for those who let their rabid partisanship overwhelm the facts:

The Kyoto Protocol was established in December of 1997, and then submitted to the various nations of the world to accept or reject. Vice President Al Gore signed it on behalf of the United States, but this was purely a symbolic act — treaties need the approval of the Senate to become binding on the United States.

But in an extraordinary step, five months before the treaty was finalized, the Senate passed a resolution rejecting it unless it put limits on all nations, not just the “developed” ones. Their reasoning — and I concur — was that to place limits on the carbon emissions of only some nations and exempting others was not only fundamentally unfair, but foolish. For example, China is exempt from any sort of limitations on its carbon emissions — and, according to one study, has already surpassed the United States for the title of “most carbon-emitting nation.”

And the vote was a squeaker, too. Five Senators didn’t vote at all (Democrats Richard Bryan of Nevada, Dianne Feinstein of California, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Harry Reid of Nevada, along with Republican Rod Grams of Minnesota), and 95 voted against Kyoto — including such notable names as Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Christopher Dodd, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Paul Wellstone.

Naturally, President Clinton took this warning seriously, and never bothered to submit Kyoto to the Senate for approval. Anything that the Senate felt so strongly about that they’d reject it five months before it’s even finalized would be beyond DOA.

So, if the Democrats who are running Congress (into the ground) are serious about Kyoto, let them start by passing a new Senate resolution repudiating the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution and calling on President Bush to submit the Protocol for ratification.

I happen to think that the Kyoto Protocol is a disastrous plan — by focusing on only certain nations’ carbon emissions, and not overall carbon emissions, it reveals itself not so much concerned with global warming as trying to strike some sort of economic “balance” or “justice” by punishing the more successful nations and giving a pass to those working their way up.And that’s not even going into the nuts and bolts about carbon’s role in global warming — if it has any, and if the condition even exists.

But if Congress were to actually DO something, or at least try, I’d have a bit more respect for them. And, I suspect, would a lot of other Americans. Instead, we’re subjected to endless meaningless hearings and grandstanding and showboating.

Shakespeare wrote the perfect description of this year’s Congressional Record: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Speaking as one of those footing the bill, I’d like a refund.

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