Read the Bill, Congress!

The US Congress recently passed the Cap and Trade Bill without reading through the over 1200-page document, which more than likely contained more pork than a Louisiana farmer’s pantry. It was a bill drafted by lobbyists and edited in closed door committees, paving the way for tons of very lucrative government contracts and taxes that will surely pad many insiders’ pockets for decades to come.

Now they’re getting ready to fast-track the House Health Care Bill, another over 1000-page document, introduced as H.R. 3200, which no one will likely read, except the lobbyists drafting it and the few congressmen whose larder needs refilling as the way for the bill is greased through the inner workings of our illustrious Congress.

What’s to be done about this? At the very least, Congress should bother to read the bills before they vote and sign them. Pretty simple, right?

That’s why the Sunlight Foundation came up with, a website which proposes a simple rule: post all bills online for 72 hours before they are debated. This was introduced as H. Res. 554 — a change to the House resolutions — and is slowly making its way through the approval process thanks to people like you and me, who are bugging our representatives to vote for it. The 72 hour delay would give constituents a decent amount of time during which to read through the proposed bills and see if they need to act.

I endorse the 72 Hour Rule

Let’s not forget President Obama promised his own 5-day delay on signing any new bills during his campaign, but has almost never respected that promise. So we’ve got a Congress and a President that don’t really bother to read all the bills they’re signing, and don’t even want to pretend like they’re doing it — at least not yet. It’s a grand example they’re setting for the rest of the world, isn’t it? They’re passing bills they haven’t read, and they’re telling us everything is on the up and up, and we have nothing to worry about, because they’re hard at work on fixing America. Whoopee!

Please tell your friends about Go there, sign the online petition, and bug your Representatives to pass the 72-hour rule.

Read The Bill from Sunlight Foundation on Vimeo.


Monsanto attorney returns to FDA helm

One of the things I feel strongly about is the hijacking of our food supply by biotech companies, and I’ve written about it time and time again. I consider it a crime against humanity, on a global scale, to take away a seed’s ability to germinate in its future generations, and to turn farmers into biotech company serfs, forced to buy their seeds from the same source, year after year, because they have no alternative. It’s also wrong because when you concentrate all of the heritage seeds of certain important plant species in the hands of a single distributor, that’s a single point of failure and you’re begging for a food chain disaster.

Peas in a pod

Yet that’s exactly what a handful of biotech companies have done over the past few decades. They’ve taken over most of our food supply, and they’re holding it for ransom. And to make sure their interests are protected, they’ve infiltrated the highest levels of the US government with their own men and women, people who make sure the legislation that gets passed is either favorable or neutral to these companies.

One such disappointing example has just occurred during the media frenzy over the death of Michael Jackson. During those hectic few days, the Obama administration appointed an ex-Monsanto lawyer, Michael Taylor, as senior adviser to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. Michael Taylor is the same person that during the Bush administration wrote the FDA regulations that eliminated the need to post warning labels on milk cartons containing genetically-engineered milk. Now, here he is, back at work in the FDA, making sure biotech interests are protected. I don’t know the man, but his track record speaks for itself, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of our food.

I thought Obama was going to be different. That’s why I voted for him. I guess my wife and I, along with many others, were fooled by the cheery facade put up over the same old shack. I do wonder how long it’ll take for the rest of the folks out there to figure this out though. Because it is important that we get things right — it’s important for the future of the US. We can’t let it get railroaded by special interests who want to milk the status quo for all its worth.

You can read this NotMilk newsletter or this article in the St. Louis Business Journal for the details on Michael Taylor’s appointment.


Congratulations, President Obama!

We have seen democracy in action, and we have achieved something amazing, as a country: we have elected the first African-American president. That’s something that goes a long way to wipe the wrongs of the past, and is something that would have probably made some of our country’s founders proud, had they been able to witness it.

There’s a long road ahead, and it’s paved with incredible challenges. I believe our new president is equipped to deal with them, and that’s why he got my vote and my wife’s vote. I hope he does what he promised to do, and that he brings positive change to this country. We’re in a huge mess, and we need someone to clean house.

Our federal government will now be a Democrat government, from top to bottom, which is something I’ve not seen yet. I hope they use their collective legislative power to do good things, and they don’t get caught up in bureaucracy or infighting. I think the next four or even eight years could be used to build our country up in an historic way, not unlike the period after WWII. The opportunity is there, but the right people need to do the right things, and they need to support our new president as he charts our country’s course.

One thing I also hope is that they’ve beefed up the security around him. I don’t want to see anything tragic happen. It would be disastrous. It is very unfortunate that there are still people in the US who can’t get over someone’s skin color even when that person is rational, intelligent, respectful and kind. But those people are around, and I’m fairly sure that they’re not dealing with this Obama win in any sensible manner. Let us hope the Secret Service does their job and neutralizes any threats before they arise.

I want to end on a positive note and wish Barack Obama and Joe Biden all the best in the years that lie ahead. I hope and pray they will meet every challenge rationally, calmly, and decisively, and that they’ll hold true to the promises they made during their campaign.

Image used courtesy of Barack Obama.


Barack Obama's smart politics

I’m watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech right now, and I just realized something. Obama was accused of playing dirty politics a few years ago in Chicago, when he eliminated his competition. He checked their candidacy applications to make sure they obeyed all the rules when collecting the required signatures. None of them fully qualified, so they were eliminated before the fight even began. I say those people who think that’s dirty politics are wrong. That’s smart politics.

People are saying the campaign he’s running now tries to project a different image. They say he’s trying to seem nicer. Again, I say they’re wrong. He’s the same. He’s been playing smart politics all along, and that’s exactly why we need him in the White House.

When he entered the race for president, he knew he’d spent too little time in the Senate and in politics to build enough of a public name, the sort of name that draws the popular vote. He also knew there was still plenty of prejudice in America toward blacks — as evidenced aplenty in WV and other states.

What Obama did was genial. He looked around at the situation and made the best move he could make. Instead of trying to attract the popular vote, which he knew would come around eventually but not during the primaries, he went after the superdelegates, and won them one by one until he clinched the democratic nomination.

He knew exactly what to go after to get where he needs to go. That’s why his smart politics are exactly what we need right now, both inside and outside the US, and that’s why I support him. We don’t need Bush’s sawed-off shotgun approach. We need someone who will examine the situation and take a clear, calculated move to get the win in a difficult situation. We need Barack Obama.