A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This time around, the Democrats are the Bad Guys

I was absolutely sickened by the passage in the House of Representatives of the Waxman-Markey climate bill. It reminded me of the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act of a few short years ago.

What's that? A bill to fight the climate crisis being compared to the so-called "Patriot" Act?

If you saw Michael Moore's infamous Fahrenheit 9/11, you may remember the shocking confession by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan that in Congress they often don't actually read the bill.

And this is just what happened yesterday. Apparently 300 pages were added at the last minute to the bill at 3 AM. And regardless of their motivation for wanting or not wanting the bill, it was the Republicans who were right for trying to actually put the brakes on the process and actually give themselves time to read the bill. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, raised questions about whether "there was even a copy of the current version of the bill anywhere in the House chamber."

So now are you starting to see the parallels between this and the "Patriot" Act? I don't care what a bill is supposed to solve; if Congress allows it to be pushed through to passage like the railroad car in Back to the Future Part III, then there is a big problem with Congress. And this time, it's the Democrats who are conducting this train - not the evil Republicans.

So where does our representative, Pete Stark, stand on this? I'm not sure. According to SolveClimate, Stark voted No "on the grounds that the bill wasn't strong enough". OK, that's fine. But I really want to find out what he thinks about the whole way that the Democrats are allowing bills to be passed, unread.

This is a defining moment for the Democratic Party. It fills me with incredible sorrow that we had fought for so long to wrestle control of Congress away from the Republicans, only to have the Democrats do basically the same thing.

What is in these 300 pages that were snuck in at 3 AM? We'll probably find out soon enough, just as we eventually did with the "Patriot" Act, and I'm pretty sure we're not going to like what it contains. Even if the overall purpose of the bill is a "good" thing, sneaking in 300 pages of provisions without vetting them is most assuredly not. Remember, at the time that the "Patriot" Act was proposed, everybody thought it was critical that it be passed for national security. Boy, do we wish that never happened!

The only glimmer of hope is that there is a movement afoot to stop the passage of laws in the dark like this. It's called "Read the Bill." The idea is that all leglislation be made available to the public (on the Internet) for 72 hours before it can be voted upon.

There is a bill on the floor in Congress, called H. Res 554, which would put this rule into effect. I have been trying to find out if Pete Stark is in favor of this (and if he'll even sign on as a co-sponsor). I've gotten the run-around from his office.

If you have a moment, please call Rep. Stark at 202-225-5065 (Washington DC) or 510-494-1388 (Fremont Office) and tell the receptionist about H. Res. 554. (It's important to use the term "H. Res." and not "H.R.")

Shame on Nancy Pelosi. Shame on Henry Waxman. Shame on Congress. We should be better than this.

2 Comments:

Blogger goldcoastjon said...

This may be the best that the current House can do on climate change, as weak and loophole-filed as it may be. Even so, it is still an improvement on what has been passed before.

The Senate is likely to pass an even more "moderate" (i.e., weak) climate change bill, so be prepared for more disappointments.

I am really upset with the environmental groups and news organizations that failed to publicize and/or resist the amendments made to the Waxman bill. If some of these amendments had been better publicized, they might have been kept out of the final House bill.

Even with all the disappointments in the ACES Act as passed, it is still landmark legislation. On to the Senate...

8:40 PM  
Blogger A Progressive Alamedan said...

Jon, I think you missed my point entirely. I wasn't criticizing the weakness of the bill. The problem is, I don't even know what's *in* the bill -- and *neither does Congress.*

The environmental groups can't publicize criticisms on what they, or congress, haven't been given time to *read*.

The system is broken, hugely, and right now it's the Democrats who have the power to either fix it, or turn themselves into the same kind of Republicans we were fighting against.\

7:15 AM  

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