Only 15 days until we reset Congress.

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Rested, Ready and Really Pissed-Off

WordPress ate this post yesterday without so much as saving a draft. I’ve updated the software and that seems to have corrected the issue, and now I have to recreate the post from memory. Bear with me if it seems incomplete; people say that memory is the second thing to go, but I can’t recall what the first thing is …


I am indeed rested, ready and really pissed off. Frankly, if you aren’t filled with righteous indignation at the buffoons in DC, then you must be living under a rock. The lamp of Liberty has waned during the almost three years since I last posted to this blog. The reasons for my absence have been personal and professional, and the reason for my return is political.

In 2010 my wife’s gastroenterologist said two words that chilled us to the bone: stomach cancer. It’s amazing how a few words can focus you on what really matters in your life. The good news is that it wasn’t cancer; the not-so-good news is that it took another two years to arrive at a diagnosis. She had suffered with abdominal pain for almost four years, a pain that doctors could not understand. Over the course of six years she was subjected to multiple ER visits, hospitalizations and invasive testing – tests often repeated by different doctors as they puzzled over her symptoms. It would finally be a young ER physician who solved the mystery by making a connection between what seemed to be unrelated symptoms. It was a process that gave me insights into the healthcare and insurance industries at a level that I hope you never experience.

Professionally, I’ve changed work roles twice since in the last three years and I’m negotiating another change early in 2014. Although I will be returning to the managerial ranks, it will be back in an office I’ve worked in before as a technical consultant, and I’m pleased with the potential change. The economic uncertainty of the last three years – compounded with a less than desirable work situation – has added more than a few gray hairs, so I welcome the reduced stress of a return to familiar territory.

It’s interesting how the intersection of my personal and professional experiences have been reflected in the major political issues of the last three years: healthcare, debt, and lack of trust in leadership, just to name a few. It is these topics and many others that I intend to expound upon in the coming days. Also, I want to renew the primary mission of ResetCongress, to seek out and promote those Patriots willing to take on the mantle of responsibility from those in office now who think themselves our masters.

Join me on the journey to take back America!

Testing the newest version

WordPress keeps eating my posts, so I upgraded to the most recent version. I sure hope this fixes the problem.

Back in 3 … 2 … 1 …

Going dormant for a while …

Well, November was a start but – in my opinion – we didn’t go far enough. Another chance comes around in 2012, and until that election season kicks off this blog will be mostly dormant. With tons of stress at work and two separate cancer scares in the family, there has been little to no time to devote to this grassroots campaign effort. Kudos to those who took up the standard and made the voice of the people heard. Well done!

I will also be disabling all comments and registration, as well as deleting all current users. Too many spammers, mostly from Russia, have been trying to use this site as a launching point. Nice try, Ivan, but not any more! Go pester the Chinese with your Viagara ads, ok?

Until next year, farewell !

“It’s the People’s Seat”

Truer words were never spoken in a political contest.

On 11 January, a televised debate between the contenders for the open Massachusetts seat in the Senate featured a moderated forum with the Democratic candidate Martha Coakley and her Republican opponent Scott Brown.  While I refrain from endorsing one candidate over another, I would like to call attention to a comment by Brown that echoes my theme here at Reset Congress. Here’s a short transcript and a longer segment of video to ensure it is in context.

Moderator: You’ve said you’re for health-care reform, just not this bill. We know from the Clinton experience that if this bill fails, it could well be another 15 years before we see a health-care reform efforts [sic] again in Washington. Are you willing, under those circumstances, to say “I’m going to be the person. I’m going to sit in Teddy Kennedy’s seat, and I’m going to be the person who’s going to block it for another 15 years.”

Brown: Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat - it’s the people’s seat. And they have a chance to send someone down there who is going to be an independent voter and an independent thinker and going look out for the best interests of the people of Massachusetts.

Long considered a liberal safe-haven, Brown’s quickly rising popularity in the pre-election polls obviously has the Democrats concerned – concerned enough for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to dump $576,000 into advertising for Coakley in the Boston and Springfield markets.

With the special election only a week away, Massachusetts voters have little time to look into each candidate’s issues on the positions. The post below has links to their campaign websites to help you out.

“The People’s Seat” is exactly the sentiment every elected representative should hold foremost in his thoughts each day. The visibility of high office and the importance of the issues under their consideration often leads Representatives and Senators to lose this focus. Once they have a taste of power, status and privilege, they seek more. For many elected officials increasing these things become their goal, and representing the People becomes merely a means to a more personally satisfying end.

Voters – choose wisely, for the effects of your choice may be felt for many years to come.

Resetting the Bay State

A special election is scheduled in Massachusetts for Tuesday, January 19, 2010 to fill the Commonwealth’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Democratic and Republican candidates were chosen in a primary election back in early December, and an independent candidate has qualified to run as well. These candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Links to their respective campaign websites can be accessed by clicking on each candidate’s name. I strongly encourage Massachusetts voters to visit these websites and become familiar with the position of each candidate. If you know someone who lives in Massachusetts, let them know about these candidates and encourage them to research the issues prior to the election on 19 January. Informed decisions by the voters can make our Nation a better, more prosperous place for us all.

MA citizens: Information on finding your polling place can be found at your state government’s Elections Division website. The more citizens that participate in our democracy, the better our democracy will serve its citizens.

Bribery or Business as Usual?

The efforts to move the healthcare reform bill forward in the Senate have spawned some interesting side issues, not the least of which has been the apparent trading of votes for some form of legislated favor. You’ve probably heard of them referred to as Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE)  ”Cornhusker Kickback”, or Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA)  ”Louisiana Purchase”. Some say it’s tantamount to bribery, while others (including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)) call it “small stuff“. So, are these deals bribery or business as usual?

A bribe is an illegal payment to a person in an official position as a means of influencing a decision. While this definition sounds applicable, the deals secured by Reid with Nelson and other senators did not benefit them personally – at least not in a direct way, but rather indirectly through their constituency. Nor is it patently illegal; however, many people might believe it to be ethically questionable.

Personally, I find it objectionable when a politician makes a stand on his (or her) priniciples and then reverses that position when some legislative largese is granted to their constituents. Either that stand was made without true conviction, or it was all a ploy to gain the benefits ultimately granted. Being a push-over or a liar are not good character traits for someone representing the public trust, but apparently it is good enough to get you into the Senate these days.

The other side of “Cash for Cloture” argument is that such dealings are part and parcel of the legislative process. I disagree. Congress is a deliberative body, and compromise is a necessary technique for arriving at an outcome where everyone gives a little to gain more. That is the essence of compromise; however, what we have seen recently is more akin to buying votes than compromise. A true compromise would result in legislation that has broad support and benefits a large segment of the population.

Neither of those things can be said of the healthcare reform bill that passed the Senate this morning on a sharply divided party-line vote. The people represented by these politicians are not in favor of the bill, something should be reflected in the Congressional vote – but is sorely missing. A recent poll indicates 57% of voters would prefer no healthcare reform over the bill currently in the works. Likewise, the cost of the bill is likely to outstrip any potential benefits, not to mention the probable decline in the level and availability of  care as healthcare providers labor under the new statutory limitations.

The public for years has sat by and reaped the benefits of these shady maneuverings,  tacitly encouraging politicians to continue “horse-trading” benefits for concessions. The habit of adding earmarks to bills is a similar behavior, and ultimately drives up the cost of major expenditures in the defense appropriations bill and others. Every congressman wants a piece of the pie, and it is you and I that end up footing the bill with inefficiencies, redundancies and more debt.

Such actions can hardly be deemed as serving the public trust. If our congressmen are unwilling to lay aside these behaviors, then we must replace them with those that will disavow the ways of the past and will work for a fresh start in the representational process.

Time to Ramp It Up

With 2010 almost upon us, it’s a good time to start putting more effort into the Reset Congress initiative. The past few months have been a stress-filled, non-stop blur of project deadlines, presentations, business trips, two computer failures and a family wedding thrown in just to make it  interesting. Things have calmed down for the holidays, and I intend to really get things in order. More posts, more links and – most importantly – more information on candidates who can bring a breath of fresh air into the stale halls of Washington. I have completed a template for a campaign links page and I will make it available as soon as I can begin populating it with a few names and links, hopefully in a few days.

The primary elections for the 2010 general election will begin in a few short months. The mood among a large segment of the population appears ready to “throw the bums out!” I’ve sensed this feeling in the people I’ve talked to during my travels, and what I read and see on the Web and the media in the past few weeks has only reinforced that perception. Perhaps the time for some real change in Washington is finally here!

Thanksgiving thoughts

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. 

-Theodore Roosevelt

 

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. 

-Cicero

Your first opportunity to push the “Reset” button

There is a special election in upstate New York on 3 November, one of at least two such contests to fill open House seats. Vying for the seat in the 23rd District are three candidates listed below (in alphabetical order). I do not and will not endorse any candidate, though from time to time I may highlight an individual opposing an incumbent who I feel is a prime example of why we need to replace the current Congressional members en masse.

As I stated back in July, one of the primary purposes of this website is to facilitate voter access to information on candidates.  The onus is upon the voter to decide which candidate would best represent the people.

This is shaping up to be a tight three-way race. Voters in upstate New York need to check out the candidates’ websites and investigate their stands on the issues. Vote – it’s a citizen’s right and duty. Make sure the best person is representing your interests at the national level.

Running for the open NY-23 seat are:

Over Half of Americans Give Congress a Failing Grade

These polling numbers from Rasmussen presage what may happen in the 2010 mid-term elections:

Just 16% of U.S. voters give Congress good or excellent ratings now that it’s back in action after a rough-and-tumble August recess, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Fifty-three (53%) percent say Congress is doing a poor job, down three points since early August but roughly comparable to what voters thought of the legislators at the time President Obama assumed office in late January.

A poor report card, indeed. The survey also notes the mood of the electorate a few paragraphs later, which may explain this low confidence:

Most voters (51%) worry, though, that the federal government will do too much in response to the country’s continuing economic problems. Sixty-six percent (66%) of voters nationwide say they’re at least somewhat angry about the current policies of the federal government.

Fifteen percent (15%) say most members of Congress are genuinely interested in helping people, but 74% say they are more interested in furthering their own political careers. These results have remained fairly consistent since January 2009.

Forty-two percent (42%) say a group of people randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress, but the same number (42%) disagree.

Ouch! That last set of numbers is bolstered by another Rasmussen poll from earlier in the week:

With the health care debate raging in Washington, D.C., there’s one change Americans clearly believe in: Members of Congress have now surpassed corporate CEOs to hold the least favorably regarded profession in the country.

Just one-out-of-four Americans (25%) have a favor [sic] opinion of members of Congress. Seventy-two percent (72%) view them unfavorably. There’s some intensity in that perception, too. Only four percent (4%) have a very favorable view of congressmen, while 37% view them very unfavorably.

Even 56% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Congress although their party controls both the House and the Senate. Of course, their opposition pales next to the 86% of Republicans and 81% of adults not affiliated with either party who have an unfavorable opinion of Congress.

How sad that a body first formed by those who committed their sacred honor to the cause of Liberty has dishonored itself so.

The Tip of the Iceberg

The 9/12 Tea Party demonstration in Washington, DC drew by some estimates as many as two million people. Even if the true number was only half that figure, it would still rank as one of the largest protest marches in the nation’s capital.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Between yesterday’s turn-out and the August townhall phenomenon, I imagine more than a few Congressmen are rethinking their positions on several issues. The large crowd of people from all across the country completely blows away any and all “astroturf” theories. There is a genuine groundswell of opinion in favor of reducing government intervention in our lives – and for many, once passive opinions are becoming action.

I encoutered these opinions wherever I went during my two-week road trip across the States last month. I talked to people of all ages and races during those two weeks, at hotels and gas stations, restaurants and shopping malls. There is a broad-based reaction that has been building for some time, and recent congressional shenanigans have brought it to a head. Ironically, it was Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, who summed up the issues when he addressed the 9/12 rally in DC:

The coming weeks and months may well set the course for this nation for a generation. How we as conservatives respond to these challenges, could determine whether America retains her place in the world as a beacon of freedom or whether we slip into the abyss that has swallowed much of Europe in an avalanche of socialism.

Let us do as those great Americans we remember in this city have done before: let us stand and fight for freedom. And if we hold the banner of freedom high, I believe with all my heart that the good and great people of this country will rally to our cause, we will take this Congress back in 2010 and we will take this Country back in 2012, so help us God.

You can read his entire address over at Power Line.

To borrow a line from the sci-fi classic Dune, “The sleeper has awakened!” Of that, you can be certain.

Disingenuity at the top

When searching for reasons to replace the current crop of Congressional miscreants, one need look no further than the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-8). You could write several lengthy posts (or part of a book) on her dissemblings, such as her false accussations against the CIA.

On Thursday just before the August recess, Pelosi criticized insurance companies for trying to block healthcare reform legislation – even going so far as to accuse them of ”immoral” behavior. The most amazing thing about her statement is that she could issue it with a straight face. Over her 22-year Congressional career, Pelosi has accepted $1,029,950 in political contrbutions from the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, and health professionals. These are the people she characterizes as the “villians” in the healthcare reform process.

Watch closely, boys and girls. This is  how political pandering is done: attacking a group to appease your base constituency, then cozying up behind closed doors with those you villify. And this from a woman who vowed in the wake of last November’s election that she would lead a team that “will create the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

Every time I hear Pelosi speak I get a sensation of deja moo: the feeling that I’ve heard this BS before.

Hitting the RESET button

Words without deeds are a nuisance at best, and cowardly at worst.

I have advocated the replacement of incumbent members of the federal legislature to send a message: we take ethical representation seriously. Party affiliation is not an issue here. You, the voter, must weigh each candidate carefully to choose one worthy of your support, one that you feel best represents your needs and the direction in which we should take our nation. That is a duty and an obligation that transcends party politics and personal identification with any race, creed or other association. We are, first and foremost, Americans.

 To put this conviction into action, I will be using this website for two primary purposes:

  1. To accentuate the need for large-scale replacement of elected officials by highlighting their misdeeds and lapses in judgment in profiles of the worst offenders; and,
  2. To facilitate voter access to information on candidates who could potentially replace the current crop of miscreants with an organized set of links to election races in every state and every district.

It sounds easy, but in reality it’s a big job – and I’m just one person. That’s why I need your help. I have created two e-mail addresses associated with this web domain. These will allow you to tip me off to late-breaking Congressional buffoonery, and to identify campaign websites of candidates who would make better representatives of the people.

Use  tipline@reset-congress.com to send me information about misdeeds on the Hill. Be sure to include a link to the source material.

The campaign@reset-congress.com address can be used to notify me about potential candidates. Again, please include a link to the candidate’s website.

For my part, I promise not to filter the information about either topic based on party affiliation or any other cause. Full and ethical representation is my goal. I will, however, review information to ensure its accuracy to the greatest extent possible and will not post links to candidates who espouse racist or offensive agendas. Spammers will be blocked unmercifully.

Why reset Congress?

It seems that everyday you hear about another Congressman that is involved in some impropriety. These range from scandalous affairs all the way up felonious acts. Bribery, influence peddling, kickbacks, tax fraud: you name it, one of your elected officials on the Hill has done it.

Even those that are clear of criminal acts may not be free of acting irresponsibly. They don’t read the legislation they pass, they seek political gain over national interests, and ultimately they ignore the will of the people.

Why do we put up with this? If you or I did these things, our careers would probably be at an end – but our ourdeal in the courts and prison would just be beginning. At the very least we would be pariahs in our community, losing the support of our families and friends. Not only does this not happen in DC, for some reason we continue to reelect these embarrassing and criminal degenerates to represent us at the highest levels of government.

I believe we have become so accustomed to these antics that we now expect elected officials will act this way regardless of their party affiliation. As Lord Acton is often quoted: ”All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This expectation of poor behavior has become pervasive among our citizens and, in my opinion, is probably linked to the decline in personal responsibility for our actions. We don’t hold these politicians accountable because many of us don’t hold ourselves personally accountable. This trend is indicative of moral decay and ultimately has brought about the downfall of many a great nation.

Is there a cure? I think so, but like the treatment of many chronic health conditions it will take time and may be painful. We need to show our elected officials that we are serious about responsible and ethical government, even if they aren’t. Here’s how we start:

  • Beginning with the 2010 election cycle, identify and support new candidates to replace the incumbent members of the House and Senate standing for reelection that year.  I would reccommend an exception for those serving their first term if they have been free of unethical behavior.
  • Repeat this activity in the 2012 and 2014 elections so that all incumbent Senators have faced replacement.
  • Ensure the newly elected candidates understand explicitly that previously tolerated behaviors are no longer acceptable to their constituents. Questionable or unethical behavior, and unfounded accusations against their political opponents of such behavior, should result in their removal in the same manner they were brought into office.
  • Ask candidates to sign a pledge to resign and never again stand for election to national office if they are indicted of criminal activity. Refusal to do so should be viewed with skepticism on their suitability to be entrusted with such responsibility.

Congress will act responsibly if and only if we hold them accountable. It is our duty and our obligation to do so.