Category Archives: Congress

Email your Congressman?

Well, maybe not.  Apparently, members of the House have been receiving so many emails from constituents pissed off over this bailout thing that the House of Representatives’ website has been on the verge of crashing.  To that end, they have now put a limit on the number of emails that can come through the system at any given time.  So if you try to send an email to your Representative, you’ll more than likely get this instead of a confirmation screen:

The House of Representatives is currently experiencing an extraordinarily high amount of e-mail traffic. The Write Your Representative function is therefore intermittently available. While we realize communicating to your Members of Congress is critical, we suggest attempting to do so at a later time, when demand is not so high. System engineers are working to resolve this issue and we appreciate your patience.

Yeah, write later, like after the economy has completely tanked with no hope of revival.  Thank you.

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Bailout fails to pass House

The House voted down the Bailout measure, 228-205.  A significant number of both Republicans and Democrats voted no.  The market is in a freefall after the news, down more than 550 points as of this writing.  See MSNBC for details.

**Update:  30 minutes later, the Dow has dropped 673.74.  Keep watching.** (2:29 CT)

**Update:  The Dow closed down 777.68 points, its largest single day point decline ever.  See here for more.**

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Bailout breakthrough reached

There’s been a breakthrough in the bailout negotiations.  I won’t even try to explain it.  Economics are not my forte.  I will say that it does contain some things that were important to me, like limits on executive benefits and help on foreclosures.  Click on this great photo to head over to the New York Times for details:

Breakthrough Reached in Negotiations on Bailout

The New York Times: Breakthrough Reached in Negotiations on Bailout

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There is no spoon

The members of Congress really do live in an alternate reality.  In this reality, they can disclose anything they would like and we, the people, will believe it.  Take, for instance, the list Roll Call released today (thanks, Marcus) showing the 50 richest members of Congress.  It is, for lack of any better word in the English language, complete and utter bullshit.  Even Roll Call, with its opening lines, admits its a load of crap:

Everything that you are about to read might be wrong.

Roll Call’s annual attempt to rank the riches of Members of Congress is hampered by one fundamental flaw: It is based on the lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms, which are extraordinarily unreliable sources of information.

Picked completely at random, <cough, cough> let’s take an example:

13. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
$19.64 million

McCain’s true value is impossible to estimate because most of the major assets are listed in the name of his wife or children, thereby requiring far less detailed disclosure. Other news outlets have suggested that Cindy McCain’s net worth may exceed $100 million, but there is no documentation to prove that figure.

McCain’s disclosure form lists 12 items with values of “over $1 million” that are owned by his wife and children. In 2007, the family liquidated a trust set up by Cindy McCain’s late mother that had a reported value in 2006 of more than $2.5 million. The proceeds were then distributed to three other trusts, which show a minimum value of $1.4 million. Cindy McCain also liquidated a blind trust in 2007, selling millions of dollars worth of stock, and the reported value of the stock she owns through Hensley & Co. — her family’s beer distributorship — dropped more than $4 million in value last year.

The only assets McCain claims as his own are a checking account with a balance of $15,000 to $50,000, a money market fund worth less than $15,000 and several book deals.

You have got to be shitting me.  Seriously.

To be fair, John Kerry, who tops the list at $230.98 million, did not fully disclose the holdings of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.  But he at least disclosed enough to put him at the top of the list.

All of this reminds me of that scene in the Matrix:

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Let’s export critical thinking instead of tactical warfare

One of my firmly held beliefs is that this world will never settle down unless or until we solve the myriad crises facing the African continent.  One of these crises is the lack of education available for women and girls.  Congress has the ability to help solve this particular crisis by passing the Education for All Act, S. 1259 (H.R. 2092).  The ONE Campaign has advocated for passage of this bipartisan bicameral bill and care is currently asking people to contact their representatives in Congress to co-sponsor the bill.  From care’s website:

Around the world, 72 million children of primary school age — more than half of whom are girls — are out of school. Lack of educational opportunities is both a cause and a consequence of poverty — one that stymies the development of entire societies. Providing basic education to girls has tremendous positive effects in areas like public health and economic growth. Over the years, the benefits reach families, communities and countries as a whole.

The United States can take an important step toward getting children in the world’s poorest countries into school by passing the Education for All Act. This bi-partisan legislation would make achieving universal primary education a U.S. foreign assistance priority and calls for the development of a comprehensive strategy outlining how the United States will play a leading role in reaching this important goal.

While we fight for universal pre-K at home, we should also fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves around the world.  Please visit care and add your voice.

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