Democrats & Liberals Archives

Working Hours

The Democrats are going to try a radical new approach to labor: The five day work week. Don’t we have this already? Well, they’re looking to apply this to a different sector in the work force, one that has up to this point worked much different hours the rest of society. If you’re still puzzled, I can sympathize. It makes better sense when you find out who I’m talking about here.

This particular quote is priceless for the naivete and elitism it demonstrates:

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

Oh, horrors of horrors. These people spent years butchering labor laws to ensure that businesses could work the living hell out of people, keeping them away from their families, and they complain because they're being asked to work five days a week in Washington. Fella, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Don't make a career out of being a legislator. There's something to be said for committment to the job. Don't apply here unless you're willing to make sacrifices for the good of the nation. Bring them up to Washington if you miss them that badly.

Time away from Washington is just as important to being an effective member of Congress as time spent in the Capitol, Kingston added. "When I'm here, people call me Mr. Congressman. When I'm home, people call me 'Jack, you stupid SOB, why did you vote that way?' It keeps me grounded."

This is the better argument of the two he makes, but on examination of his party's record, it rings hollow. These guys had five days a week to max, relax, visit with the folks, consult with the constituents, and they still managed to screw the country up and screw the taxpayer to boot. There's not much use being grounded when your votes reflect a profound ignorance of the people's interests.

Additionally, things are nowhere near as bucolic as he presents them. There's a hidden issue here: What these people actually do in their time off:

For lawmakers within a reasonable commute of Washington, longer weeks are not a burden -- although they are likely to cut into members' fundraising and campaigning activities.

Fundraising and campaigning. Is it any wonder this last congress was so long on rhetoric, and so short on action? For years on end, those two things have been what they've seen as their real jobs. If you spent five days a week wheeling and dealing, and two actually working on legislation and oversight, wouldn't you see yourself that way? Their real jobs have been made virtual hobbies. This congress has been one of the laziest on record:

Hoyer and other Democratic leaders say they are trying to repair the image of Congress, which was so anemic this year it could not meet a basic duty: to approve spending bills that fund government. By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That's seven days fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.

They could have at least been cute about it and worked an extra six days somewhere for symbolic value: one day at work for every other congress ever convened. Now, I may have my math wrong, but in the two years of this particular congress, they've managed to work only 103 days out of 730. figuring in all the vacations and days off they put in, that two days a week translates effectively to not even one day out of every seven spent doing their jobs. Serving the American people, for them, has been a part-time job.

Part of the job is keeping in touch with constituents, but this is the modern age, and people not only can write their congressman, they can e-mail them. If they fear losing touch, they can assign staffers to keep them tied back into the rest of the country, and the issues at hand there. At the same time, there is a such thing as being too local in one's focus. Earmarks, pork, a lack of responsiveness to national priorities, etc.

The job of the individual members of Congress is indeed to represent the people of their district, but also to represent national interests as well. As badly as some of the districts might have needed jobs or funds for this and that, the nation needed to be cutting down the deficit and prioritizing on issues that affected the rest of the country.

This is not a unitary system, like Britain's parliament. We have a ton of local congresses and assemblies, municipal governments and governors to support the load on local interests. While Congressfolk undoubtedly need to have some focus on local interests, they should be the local interests relative to the Federal level of government, and what it can do.

If this proves to be too much pressure, all the better. Governing, done right, is hard work. If the incumbents decide they want an easier work-week, they can just decide not to run again. Running a government and running it well can be a crushing burden. Those who can withstand that burden, make the sacrifices necessary, and do a good job should stay as long as they please. Others should go back home and let somebody relieve them of their difficult duties. Governing is serious work. It shouldn't be attractive to people who aren't serious about doing the work of the people. I mean, I can sympathize with the GOP respresentative who has to reschedule her kid's Brownie troop meeting, but let's be realistic: her duties can affect the schedules and lives of millions. There are little boys and girls who right now are missing their fathers and mothers because they're serving in Iraq. Some will have to go on missing them for the rest of their lives. Governing is not easy, and it is not to be done by those who can't or won't make the sacrifices necessary.

Okay, so what happens if Congressman Kingston's point about keeping in touch makes itself felt, and the people in Washington get out of touch with their bases? Again, these people can always be relieved of their seats, if that comes to pass. That's the point of an election. If a person's not smart enough to keep track of what's going on back home, and what people think there, we should reward their lack of hard work with the lack of a difficult job.

I distinctly recall cringing in the 2004 Presidential Debates when the president started saying that being President is hard work. There was a significant duh-factor there. In older days, presidents and governing officials didn't whine about the hard work, the separation from family, about all the sacrifices made. They charged ahead and simply did their jobs, hoping to make their performance speak for itself. They understood that this was what the job was.

Reading the article this entry is based on, I could not help feeling that a piece of the puzzle had finally fit in. It was no wonder that image based politics had become so prominent, that policy competence had become so rare, that this Congress had become such a machine for the lobbyists and the special interests. That's what these people were doing most of the week. They say that idle hands are the devils workshop. I think it's only appropriate to applaud the Democratic leadership on its initiative to keep the hands of Congress doing their real job, rather than getting up to other devilry.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2006 11:40 AM
Comments
Comment #197957

Stephen,

Serving the American people, for them, has been a part-time job. Part of the job is keeping in touch with constituents, but this is the modern age, and people not only can write their congressman, they can e-mail them.

Working as a congresscritter has always suppose to have been a part-time job. It was never intended that they make a career out of being a politician.

It has much less to do with keeping in touch with the voters as it does living the live as one yourself. Granted, we have exalted these people to a status that they are treated like royalty, but that is our fault as much as theirs.

It is also indicitave of how much control of our lives we have handed over to the centralized federal beauracracy. What we NEED them to do should only take a couple of months a year at most. Instead we have months and months of taking control away from the citizens, returning us to servanthood, that we end up having to pay for for their ‘sacrifice’.

Sorry, but while I don’t feel sympathy for them having to work a full work week I also don’t want them in Washington any longer than the NEED to be…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 6, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #197961


Stephen: I checked TPM this morning as usual so I knew were you were headed. Some of those 103 days were devoted to pay raises. A full time salary for a part time job.

Posted by: jlw at December 6, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #197963

Rhinehold: I want them there the whole time except for suitable vacation and federal holidays. I want them to EARN the salaries they have voted for themselves.

Let them move thier families to Washington, just like everyone else who takes a job in a different city.

Let them spend the time getting educated about the issues before them so they ask the right questions in order to make decisions. Having watched some of the hearings, I sit there and ask myself “why don’t they ask…”?

As complicated technologically and population-wise as our country and economy are, they need to spend the time to get educated.

I don’t want them spending time I pay them for to fund-raise and campaign.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 6, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #197964

Hell, lets make them keep time cards and pay them an hourly wage based on the time they actually do the government’s business. Not get paid for fund-raising and campaigning.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 6, 2006 2:15 PM
Comment #197965


They are servants of the people. The minimum wage is more than enough if they manage it right.

Posted by: jlw at December 6, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #197966

See? There are things I can agree with the Democrats on! This is one of them.

By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That’s seven days fewer than the infamous “Do-Nothing Congress” of 1948.

I think I compared this congress to the Do-Nothing Congress a while back on here.
Nothing gets done because the parties either refuse to cooperate or pretend not to cooperate so they don’t have to touch an issue.

So I don’t think this is going to help much. But at least the Democrats are trying to make themselves look good, an important part of politics they forgot about between 2000 and 2005.

Posted by: TheTraveler at December 6, 2006 2:26 PM
Comment #197970

womanmarine and jlw,

Hell, lets make them keep time cards and pay them an hourly wage based on the time they actually do the government’s business. Not get paid for fund-raising and campaigning.

They are servants of the people. The minimum wage is more than enough if they manage it right.


Sounds good to me. They make plenty of money from bribes (or as they call them, campaign donations). If they want more, let Pelosi pay for it. She’s got plenty of money.

Posted by: TheTraveler at December 6, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #197979

Rhinehold-
The problem with your approach, not to put too fine a point on it, is that we’ve been taking your suggestion for the last twelve years. Your approach has been business as usual.

You don’t like the extent and power of government. What has five day weekends done to stop that? Nothing, from the looks of it. You don’t like how much money it wastes. Has part-time governance stopped that? No. Has congress rolled back its powers, and that of the executive branch, given their time with the people back home? No.

Cynicism towards government has also failed to solve anything about the extent of its powers. Arguably, like the rest of these things, its only increased that power, because the folks elected knew their base would believe the propaganda regardless that said they were anti-government regardless of what they did. It took massive abuse to disillusion conservatives.

Let’s face facts: people will make careers out of being a politician. We may not like that, it might not have been what was originally intended, but its a consequence of the system, and we have to at least confront the reality. Given that there will be politicians, we want to make the power they seek to continue come at a price: hard work, long hours, high expectations and fewer guarantees of job security. Make them earn this bread they seek by the sweat of their brow.

Anytime we just let them loaf off, they will turn their power to selfish ends, and they will forget the interests of those who sent them to Washington. There’s nothing magical about letting them have all that time off that makes them act like ordinary citizens. They are politicians, and should be treated with appropriate caution.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2006 3:29 PM
Comment #197985

I’ve seen this claim in enough reputable places that I’ll accept it as fact, but can anyone point me to the actual historical data? I’ve been surfing for the past half hour and can’t find it anywhere.

Posted by: Rob at December 6, 2006 4:29 PM
Comment #197987

Stephen D-

I read that article this morning in the times, and had a very similar reaction to the comments from republican congressmen you quoted above. In fact, I was hoping someone in the blue column would write about it. Thank you for not dissapointing me.

I love the part about this last congress working 7 fewer days than the 1948 congress, the notorious lame duck congress. How sad. The poor congressmen have to leave their families to work for a living. Gee, I don’t remember hearing all of these complaints when these same people were working 20 hours a day on a grueling campaign trail in the hopes of being chosen to represent their district. Now when it comes to making good on those promises, it is just too inconvenient? What a bunch a horse@#*t. The democrats are obviously trying to de-rail the republican fundraising machine, which has become a 5 day workweek in and of itself. While the motivation may very well be primarily a selfish party interest, I think the reality is that the democrats know this is one of those issues where only an idiot would defend the current policy.

So sit back and watch the parade of idiots as they try to make excuses for the bubble they’ve been living in for the last 6 years. I personally love that they immediately use the excuse of family. Then in the next breath, those same people will defend an employer’s right to deny sick leave to struggling parents. Family values indeed. What a crock.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 6, 2006 4:36 PM
Comment #197994


How about all the family disruption and divorces brought on by multiple tours of duty in Iraq by our National Guard men and women.

Posted by: jlw at December 6, 2006 5:26 PM
Comment #198000

Kevin23-
My hope is that my party looks at such failures and recognizes that they could be their own. I like to see reforms like this, as they signal that we’re on the side of right, but I recognize that our politicans could be as much lying bastards as the other side.

I think, though, on the positive side, that we Democrats have not yet gotten to the point where we trust our politicians. We still remember getting kicked out by voters, and why. We don’t like what our politicians became, and would like it even less to see them come to resemble those we fought against.

I sure hope we don’t. I sure hope we don’t let this congress get bubbled away from us. It’s good to learn from your own mistakes; it’s even better to learn from somebody else’s and leave it at that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2006 6:02 PM
Comment #198002

It looks like we’re going to need all those extra days, given this kind of behavior.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #198017

Stephen D-

Forcing congressional representatives to spend more days working than raising money is certainly a good start for Pelosi and co. Let me just say that democrats such as yourself are not alone in resisting the placement of full trust in their leadership. I think both parties are suffering from an identity crisis. The difference is that in my party, we have a very loud minority who would rather sell their souls to Satin than admit weakness. But the majority are skeptical and at least somewhat cynical about the priorities of the party leadership.

I’ll put it this way, who would you rather have on the news to represent the red side: an adament and unwavering ditto-head, or someone like me who answers questions with more questions and needs a lot of credible information and an understanding of context before getting passionate about a cause? The entertainment value alone makes the former more soundbite-worthy. It is easy to mistake those soundbites as reality sometimes.

So although it is better hidden, republicans are just as fractured as their rivals. I think the problem with democrats, especially in election years, is that they openly question their own abilities. If they are not questioning their grass-roots campaigning, they question their fundraising abilities, or their ability to work together, etc. Anytime you hear about a democrat success, it is followed by a concern. They don’t seem to ever consider themselves the best at anything. Even if they win, it always gets framed as an underdog victory. I really don’t think that many democrat leaders know how to exude unadulterated confidence. If they did, they’d do better in many red states.

In these next two years, I think that the ability to state one’s platform in such a way as to be meaningful to people (confidence is a huge part of that) is going to determine the partys’ success rates in 2008. I hope the democrats keep it simple, and that Pelosi and co. are not made to publicly retreat. I firmly believe that 2008 must also be a hard fought and surprisingly close election in order for the reformist spirit of the people to be taken to heart. A few close elections in a row levels the fundraising playing field, and scares people into injecting an occasional nugget of honesty. Plus it’ll really have those K Street boys running around in circles. =)

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 6, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #198047

“Stubborn Conservative on a liberal blog! Is he insane?!”

No. I just came here to talk about work hours in a non-political way as possible. Just talk as an American to fellow Americans.

Work is messed up. A lot of things are messed up. The American schedule is one of them. This is a hectic, fast-paced country we live in. Even our kids are feeling it. When was the last time anyone got 7 hours of sleep or more. I don’t remember. We need to fix this mess. Both sides: Repubs/Cons and Dems/Libs. We can still be the best country economically without paying this price.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at December 6, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #198055

No, we haven’t been using my approach for some 75 years. I never once said that I thought that the congresscritters in Washington deserved the money that they get. As I said, this is suppose to be a part time temp job, something they do IN ADDITION to their full time jobs back home. They should be in Washington about 2 months perhaps each year, voting on a small number of bills that might be needed, and then going back to live under the rules that they set forth. Which of course would mean no longer exempting themselves from those laws as they do now.

No, the last 12 years, the last 18 years, the last 25 years, they have all be more and more progressively terrible and overreaching into the lives of most Americans while exempting themselves, if this continues we will create an elite class that does nothing but govern… Err, perhaps we already have?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 6, 2006 10:12 PM
Comment #198059

Kevin23,

I firmly believe that 2008 must also be a hard fought and surprisingly close election in order for the reformist spirit of the people to be taken to heart. A few close elections in a row levels the fundraising playing field, and scares people into injecting an occasional nugget of honesty.

I hope you don’t think the last few elections have been good for the country.

So far I haven’t seen a “reformist spirit” on any large scale, and as for nuggets of honesty… Are we talking about the same congress?

The 2000 electoral map only served to encourage Bush and Kerry to focus on a few states in 2004 and ignore most of the nation. That’s why only two states voted differently in the ‘04 presidential election.

If things are going to improve, the strategies, and therefore outcomes, of the national elections have to change.

We are in desperate need of a realigning presidential election.
The parties need to get back to using national electoral strategies. The big states (New York, California and Texas) should be in play, or at least a lot closer than they have been. Senator Obama was right when he said there are no blue states or red states. I think this year’s election helped prove that.

The ideal ‘08 presidential election will feature two popular candidates. That means people actually have to like them (as opposed to the ‘04 candidates).
The margin of victory should be larger than it has been but not a landslide.

There was a national focus on this year’s congressional election and congress realigned. Not everyone was happy with the outcome, but most found they could live with it. The parties must the lessons of this election and apply them to the ‘08 presidential campaign.

If the parties return to the “swing state” strategy of ‘04, it will only lead to more bitterness and partisanship. And more close elections where few are happy with the outcome.

Posted by: TheTraveler at December 6, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #198070

“I’ve seen this claim in enough reputable places that I’ll accept it as fact, but can anyone point me to the actual historical data? I’ve been surfing for the past half hour and can’t find it anywhere.”

Rob,

Days in Session Calendars
http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/index.html

http://thomas.loc.gov/ is generally a quite reliable source of unbiased facts and figures. Quite often the “devil’s in the details” and very few people have the time or take the time to look for those details.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 6, 2006 10:51 PM
Comment #198093

Thank you for that link, KansasDem. Having looked through it, I’m glad I qualified my numbers above. The numbers for the days is for one year alone. It knocks a perfectly good piece of rhetoric on its ass, but the good news on that is that we can compare the numbers.

To put it plainly, the numbers show a much lazier Republican Congress. In bad years, the Democratic congress usually spent 130-140 days in session. The bad years, I got the sense, were election years, where they would be campaigning the most. In good years, throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Congress would be in session for at least 170-179 days. The Republicans did something like this only once, and that was in 1995. What was typically bad for the Democrats in terms of attendance was just typical for the Republicans, the typical session lasting 130 days for them.

To put it plainly, Democratic Congress’s spent a month to up to two months more in session every year they served. 1992 was the worst year, I think, with 120 days.

The argument could be made that we’d be better off with them doing less, but in this day and age, its not just the legislation that’s at issue, but the oversight questions, and the research on legislator’s part. Even if your aim is to keep legislation lean and mean, rather than rough and bloated, it still pays to know what’s going on, and you can’t do that on just two days out of the week. Given our problems in this day and age, we certainly don’t need part-time government.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #198129

Stephen,

Remember what an agressive agenda Gingrich was pushing in ‘95? I think it was called the “Contract ON America”.

Considering that we’re now at war, national debt’s in excess of 60% of GDP, nearly 1/5th of American’s are uninsured, etc, etc, ad nauseam, I’d say an agressive agenda is called for.

We’ve seen what complacency results in.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 7, 2006 8:37 AM
Comment #198132

Damn!! Who wouldn’t want that work schedule for that salary? I know I would.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 7, 2006 9:31 AM
Comment #198186

TheTraveler-

Let me clarify a little bit. I agree that 2000 and 2004 were divisive elections that made for an odd political landscape. However, I am looking at the trends. The trend in 2006 was that many die-hard red states were now battleground states. I think this is good. Personally, I don’t really care about a national v. local campaigning. The nature of the media is such that everything is on TV everywhere regardless of where a candidate happens to be standing. I don’t mind that only battleground states get frequent visits.

What I’m hoping is that a few close elections go by forcing democrats and republicans alike to constantly re-evaluate their actions and rhetoric. Neither has much of a base to mobilize around at the moment. Democrats are riding the reformist wave (it may be small, but it is the swing vote). Republicans are feeling the wrath of conservatives who feel abandoned by the white house policies. Change is innevitable. So why not hope for a political scenario that forces candidates to do some major convincing and answering for themselves.

The partisanship crap-flinging will, unfortunately, never go away. But people have become suspicious of partisanship for the sake of partisanship. I think better questions will be asked by the media from here on out. The lessons of the last 6 years have been learned. People were just as frustrated with the media as they were with politicians in 2006. And I personally noticed a big difference in the questions lately.

I guess the bigger point here is that democrats have an opportunity here, and many possible paths to go down. Will they tackle important issues like spending, immigration, SS and healthcare costs? Or will they stick to old favorites to appease their base? Then, how well do things go for the president in Iraq? The answers will make a difference in 2008.

I still maintain that I’d like to see more splintering by both sides to promote internal power struggles and debates. I do not want to see either party pick unimportant and emotionally charged issues and present a unified front on their behalf…constantly poised to attack for the sake of another election victory alone. Those are the two competing tensions. I think the nation is ripe for a re-positioning and re-entrenchment of the parties. I just don’t have any clue as to what the outcome will be. There are just too many factors to be considered. But I do think the nation is very different now than it was even 2 years ago…mostly because of what happened 2 years ago.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 7, 2006 4:00 PM
Comment #198230

Most of these political hacks are nothing but leeches which explains much of their behavior. Ever notice how fast they run and hide when the subject of term limits comes up. It would be fun to try getting one of the networks to say that they are putting on a town hall meeting concerning term limits and ask each party to send a couple of their top senators or congressmen to represent them. My guess is that both parties would refuse to send anyone.

Posted by: Carnak at December 7, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #198277

Kevin23
You should try Mark Buchanan’s Ubiquity: The Science of History… or Why the World Is Simpler Than We Think and Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks. Though neither are political books, I think both illuminate the real shape of the relationships that determine the way that alliances and party membership shift.

Carnak-
Term limits for legislators strikes me as not too useful for keeping people honest. If people show up dishonest, there’s not much term limits can do to stop them from being corrupt bastards.

My advice? let’s keep them busy. it’ll do a hell of lot to keep their minds and hands occupied. An Idle Congress is a devil’s workshop. Work them so hard that only the best performers keep the job.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 7, 2006 11:09 PM
Comment #198334

Stephen D-

I’ll see if I can find them at the library here on campus. If not, maybe the next time I’m at Borders.

As an aside, I’d just like to mention that Hillary has decided to use her political capital to fight against the VIDEO GAME industry! What the hell is wrong with her that she thinks that is a good place to spend her time and energy. If she wants me to even consider voting for her, which is very unlikely anyway, she should stay the hell out of censoring my video games. I know many others who did not vote for Gore solely because of he and Tipper were big on censorship. That’s why we have parents. We don’t need Hillary and Leiberman to tell us how to raise our kids. We need them to focus on getting this country and its economy on firm footing, find a graceful exit strategy in Iraq (being on the foreign intel committee and all), etc.

I just can’t tell you how dissappointed I was to see her and Joe sounding off against video game makers the same day of the worst casualties in Iraq in over a year. If this is what happens when democrats take over in January then I have lost faith ALREADY that the democrats have any clue what the people want from them, or they don’t care. If it was just an isolated bitching session, then I’ll try not to hold a grudge.

But seriously Hillary, what the hell are you thinking? If I had given her any money, I’d be asking for it back.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 8, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #198337

It’s a Catch-22.
When Congress is in session, there’s more likelihood of danger to the nation.
But, if Do-Nothing Congress continues to do nothing to resolve problems, there’s more likelihood of danger to the nation.
Face it.
We’re screwed.
Especially since we keep rewarding and empowering them by repeatedly re-electing them.

: )

Nancy Pelosi’s first 100 hour strategy is full of gaping holes:

  • (1) Toughen House Ethics Rules (very unlikely; besides, laws are meaningless if never enforced; and even if ever convicted, they can get a presidential pardon like the 546 criminals pardoned by Clinton; 140 on his last day in office)

  • (2) Raise the Minimum Wage (But still ignore illegal immigration and wide open borders and ports? Isn’t Homeland Security a bit of a joke without securing the ports and borders? Isn’t it hypocritical of Congress to still ignore existing laws by ignoring wide open borders and ports, employers of illegal aliens, 2.3 million displaced American workers, the many burdens on schools, hospitals, ERs, law enforcement, border patrol, prisons, healthcare, CDC, Medicaid, welfare, insurance and voting systems, resulting in over $70 billion in net losses annually to U.S. tax payers.)

  • (3) Enact 9/11 Commission Recommendations (Again, isn’t Homeland Security a bit of a joke without securing the ports adn borders?)
  • (4) Half Student Loan Interest rates (But ignore ever-present inflation, a nation swimming in debt, predatory lending practices, and a excessive money printing ?)

  • (5) Broaden Federally-Supported Stem Cell Research (Sure, why not? Just print some more money.)

  • (6) Negotiate for Lower Medicare Drug Prices (HHMMmmmm … more corporate welfare and pork-barrel for pharmaceuticals? And what about healthcare that is not only increasingly unaffordable (due to meddling and middlemen: insurance and government), but dangerous too! Pharmaceutical corporations and the FDA are becoming pill pushers that are killing hundreds of thousands in the U.S. (annually). 2.2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 had serious Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 were fatal, making these ADRs the 5th or 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.! On 27-July-2004, HealthGrades.com reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”. Part of the problem is government is FOR-SALE, and the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and influence of government by corporations and some that abuse vast amounts of money to control government. While government is NOT responsible for providing universal healthcare, it is responsible for protecting consumers from some greedy corporations that will do almost anything for profit).

Does that list indicate that Congress is really serious about solving problems?
Or does it mean the pressing problems are too numerous and severe?
If it’s a matter of number and severity, why did Congress allow it?
But, we keep rewarding them by re-electing them.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 8, 2006 2:46 PM
Comment #198346

Kevin23-
I agree that they should leave the games alone. First, there are millions of Americans who don’t become homicidal after playing violent video games. Second, it’s literally not worth taking seriously. You don’t become a ruthless capitalist from playing Monopoly, A general from playing military strategy games, or a street criminal from playing Grand Theft Auto. Nobody in their right mind is going to play Burnout 3 or Burnout Revenge and go around weaving through oncoming traffic or intentionally crashing their car to get the most spectacular wreck they can. Video Games are just fantasy. Let people have their fantasies.

Don’t get disappointed in the rest of us over that B.S. This won’t be the first or last time a politician in either party got up in arms about something in the media. It’s just easy political points for being against bad influences.

Dan-
One thing at a time. We’re just talking the first 100 hours

Subject by subject:
Toughen Ethics rules. Well, I think the Democrats are going to make a big show about getting these things through. Part of our promises were to reverse the corruption, and I think we’re quite aware that the country is looking on.

Raise Minimum Wage. You have to start somewhere. Taking care of the rest of these issues lies in the province of…

Implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which entails much of what you were complaining about under the Raise Minimum wage heading.

Halve Student Loan…
Well, on that one, you have to look at it as just a start. Remember, this is just a start. You can reassure yourself by recalling that we’re more likely to go for taking care of the budget and confronting predatory lending practices.

Stem Cell Research. The pay-go system would have us cut something else to pursue this, so it wouldn’t create a net debt increase.

Negotiate for lower…
First, we’re likely going to start pushing legislation to take on many of your complaints, but calling it more corporate welfare and pork-barrel to negotiate for lower drug prices is quite opposite to the truth of what that would represent. It’s Bush’s first version that we can call that.

Your list needs updating. Different people are taking over congress who will not only be under pressure to reverse the crap that the Republican Congress pulled, but will actually be ideologically attuned to taking on such matters.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #198389

Thanks for the much needed sanity from your side, Stephen. I was, for a second there, starting to worry.

I’m still going to have to pull out the yellow card on Mrs. Clinton. One more and International rules dictate that she be suspended for a game (2008 election). And if the most well financed dem candidate to date goes on another crusade against something stupid before taking on the many important issues of the day that desperately need her attention will earn her a red card, and a nice space on my sh*t list.

I hope people appreciate my soccer analogies…this is coming from someone whose watched maybe 10 games in the last 25 years or so. I’m trying to appeal to a more diverse audience. =)

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 8, 2006 6:16 PM
Comment #198404
Your list needs updating.
What? The list above, or this list ? What on the list should be updated ?
Different people are taking over congress who will not only be under pressure to reverse the crap that the Republican Congress pulled, but will actually be ideologically attuned to taking on such matters.

Stephen,
No offense, but I think time will show that we still have the:

  • same teams

  • a few new players (90% of previous incumbents are still there)

  • same old game

  • each team simply taking turns being the IN-Party/OUT-Party

Problem solving isn’t likely.
Grid lock is more likely.
It would be great if Congress would prove me wrong.
About the only thing I can think of that Democrats and Republicans will pass is amnesty (a.k.a. guest worker plan) for illegal aliens (which will be just great with a higher minimum wage and already 2.3 million displaced American workers). Already, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) any many other politicians are trying to get a guest worker program pushed through, and some H1B VISA caps raised for more imported labor (for nursing). Are nurses over-paid in the U.S. ? How’s that for yet another effort to undercut the wages and working conditions of American nurses. 38 of 50 Senators that voted YES for giving illegal aliens Social Security benefits were Democrats, so there ain’t much hope of putting an end to the influx of more illegal aliens and imported cheap labor. Our Congress is constantly undermining our own citizen work force, and refuse to enforce existing laws. Efforts like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s represents an unethical kind of classism that should be repugnant in a 21st century American Congress. Sen. Hutchison’s chronic efforts to flood the country with foreign nurses are thwarting the ability of the free-market system to entice and reward career choices based on what skills are needed by our society. Sen. Hutchison and John Cornyn are ruining the nursing profession.

When Congress starts passing some of the many no-brainer, common-sense reforms, then there might be some reason to believe Congress has improved.

If Congress was serious about cutting the pork-barrel (of which Democrats are MUCH worse about according to Citizens Against Government Waste), then they would pass a One-Purpose-Per-BILL amendment. That would make it hard to tack on pork-barrel without anyone knowing it, or obscuring the myraid of reasons to voter for or against a BILL.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 8, 2006 7:19 PM
Comment #198675

Stephen,

By the way some of you bias is showing. The Congresswoman leading the brownie troop was a Dem not a GOP representative.

Posted by: Rob at December 11, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #198823

Rob-
Let me cheerfully admit another mistake. She is in fact a Democrat. However:

1) My point still stands. If she is not willing or able to make the sacrifices necessary, she ought not to be there.

2)Bias is a bit strong of a term, and it implies that other things were equal, and I just pushed the point. Four out of the five people quoted were GOP. I didn’t notice the one little letter, so I assumed they were all Republican.

As for my bias showing? Well damn, I do right for the Blue Column, don’t I? I show a bias all the time.

Was it a bias that got in the way here? No, just a pattern that proved right in 80% of the other cases keeping me in error about the other 20%.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 11, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #199656

Stephen,

That didn’t seem a very cheerful admission of a mistake. In fact, it seemed a bit defensive.

My point on bias was not in your reading of the source article but in assuming that Republicans are the ones that are always wrong and Democrats are always right. That is what I perceive your bias to be, not a specific instance, but a general one.

And, no, by the way, I don’t think you show a bias all the time. In fact, I think for two years you worked to overcome it first, and then create arguments. However, since November, it seems to be running the other way. It is a shame because it makes you less effective and less persuasive.

Posted by: Rob at December 18, 2006 11:39 AM
Comment #199776

Rob-
I don’t want to sound too defensive, and to be honest with you, I was smiling, and was cheerful when I corrected the mistake.

I saw what I expected to see. However, and I think this is the important point here, I had more than just partisan sentiments contributing to the expectation of seeing an R by her name. Most of the other people complaining were Republicans.

I’m also serious about what I said about the woman. It’s nice that she has kids and all, but she got elected to a job that’s going to require a great deal of attention and dedication to do right, and I don’t want anybody there who isn’t dedicated to the job.

If it becomes a hardship on people it might discourage those who seek office merely for the money and power. I want it to be a high stress, high demand workload that weeds out those who can’t take it.

I’m serious that the fact that she’s part of my party is irrelevant to my point. I don’t want my party’s delegation in congress to sink to the depths that the Republicans did. I am willing to see turnover, even at the price of the majority, to see my party retain its integrity. That’s what I want.

I’m glad to see my party take a step towards that. But it’s not good enough by itself. I’m praising a first step, but I expect others.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2006 7:36 AM
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