S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Here's your to-do list, Congress

After six years on corruption, inaction and outright criminality Congress still has some catching up to do. Confronting corporate greed, looking into the actions of so-called independent agencies, acting to balance the White House, and healing your own internal divisions about the war in Iraq, are but a few of the current challenges needing your attention. Here are a few things to do right now:
  • Go head to head with the White House - This would be the natural and logical consequences of the Libby guilty verdict. Mike Allen at Politico lays out the possibilities for Congressional action in a thorough piece about this potential confrontation between powerful committee chairs and our current president (OCP). What actually happened Valerie Plame has gotten completely obscured, and should not be forgotten.
  • Do not let this go by any longer - This is one of the most unnerving things to come to understand: the FBI is charged with keeping us safe from terrorist attack and look how they are doing it. An opinion piece in USA Today presents the argument that the agency is appallingly inept at carrying out their responsibilities. Not only are civil liberties shredded, but remember that the agency never even got its act together enough to have a working computer system. After several restarts and mountains of wasted taxpayer dollars, they are still keeping track "on the backs of envelopes."
  • Take on regulators of pharmaceuticals - This is a true case of "fox guarding the hen house." Carl Pope writes a very illuminating post about FDA's failure to regulate that is "chilling," as he puts it at his Sierra Club blog. There are perhaps several committees that have jurisdiction with this issue that puts cow health ahead of people's health.
  • Find common ground within - This is not easy, because Congress naturally reflects the country's dilemma about what to do next in Iraq. Josephine Hearn, writing for, sheds very useful light on "Blue Dog" Democrats' divisions over the war. The time is now because the supplemental funding bills for the Pentagon are to be debated very soon.
  • Investigate Halliburton - This move to the UAE is not about proximity to a great golf course. Michael J.W. Stickings was thinking more deeply about Halliburton's move than was I. His post at The Reaction opens another level of possibility for Congressional action.
The idea about Congress is - The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been able to move more rapidly and decisively than the Senate. Because the two branches of congress operate under very different rules, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) often seems to have his hands tied because of powers reserved to the minority party. Representatives are closer to the people's wishes; Senators are supposed to think and act more nationally. It is a good balance, however, and one necessary to good legislating. We will see how it goes. I remain optimistic that the to-do list will get shorter as time passes.
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