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December 28, 2006

Congressional “sunlight” casts deep shadows

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .

The skillful confidence trickster makes criminal activity sound reasonable. So it is with supposed Congressional reform proposals.

The politicians tell us they want to shine sunlight on the system. Sunlight, they say, makes a great disinfectant.

Nice rhetoric. Sounds reasonable. So why doesn’t Congress apply this thinking to itself?

Let us cast brilliant, clarifying, disinfecting sunlight into the lives of every member of Congress. Let us hire a few camera teams to make video and audio recordings of every minute of every day that every member of Congress spends in office. It would cost us a little money, but it would save us more.

After all, sunlight makes a great disinfectant. No member of Congress could take a bribe or make a sweet-heart deal under such disinfecting sunlight.

See how tricky rhetoric can be? Many things sound reasonable until you take the argument to its logical conclusion. So let us dispense with rhetoric, and deal with reality. Let us start with an argument that both sounds reasonable, and remains reasonable, even when taken to its logical conclusion.

When Congress does something wrong it should regulate itself, not others. It should, for instance, pass the “Read the Bills Act.” This would make corrupt law-making much more difficult. And it would do so by regulating Congress, not you.

This is an argument that sounds reasonable, and remains reasonable, even when considered at length. Here’s another one . . .

Congressional sunlight casts deep shadows.

When Congress passed legislation claiming to cast illuminating, disinfecting sunlight onto the funding of campaigns, the electoral efforts of challengers were cast into the shadows. Most challengers could no longer raise the funds they needed to compete with incumbents.

Incumbents became more secure in office, and corruption in Congress became worse. Witness the Abramoff and related scandals. When Congress feels more secure in office, it becomes more brazen in its criminality. And when its gets caught, it never regulates itself, it always regulates others in such a way as to benefit itself.

Having successfully exploited earlier Congressional corruption to cast electoral challengers into the shadows, now Congress wants to exploit the corruption resulting from increased incumbent security to cast groups like Downsize DC into the shadows too. They want to impose costs on grassroots organizations that will make them less able to criticize Congress.

It’s a great confidence trick when you can mute your critics while making people think you’re doing something to fix your own criminality. And that’s what the so-called “lobbying reform” bill is. A confidence trick.

When politicians speak of sunlight, expect darkness. When politicians talk about fixing their own corruption, expect their corruption to increase.

The only solution to this is more of what Downsize DC does, not less. True reform must be imposed on Congress by citizens, from the outside, using grassroots groups like Downsize DC, because Congress will never reform itself from the inside.

Yesterday Downsizers sent Congress 1,953 messages opposing the regulation of grassroots groups. We need even more messages today. You can send your message HERE.

You can also listen to Jim Babka do a radio interview on the Internet today. Here are the details . . .

Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006
Stations: WAIF 88.3-FM Cincinnati, OH
Time: 4:15 PM Eastern
3:15 PM Central
2:15 PM Mountain
1:15 PM Pacific
Length: 30 minutes
Guest: Jim Babka, President, DownsizeDC.org
Host: Roger Yeardley
Show: Curved Air Show
Internet: Go to http://www.waifstream.com

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Perry Willis
Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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