Pushing Legislative Limits

This to-do list may seem extreme except to the voters.

By James McCarty Yeager

Washington, D.C.

Apparently, all the things we thought the Constitution explicitly said—that the Executive is subordinate to the Legislative for appropriations, for instance—must be restated, recodified, and reprinted in capital letters for creationists who had trouble with their reading acquisition. Let’s do that, and let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

The House should vote on treason charges, and if passed the Senate should try them, against George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove, and all who aided them—John Ashcroft, Richard Addington, John Woo, Harriet Miers, Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Josh Bolten. Treason is classically “compassing the death of the King.” In a Republic, it is furthering the death of the Constitution. Grounds for House action are readily apparent among the war-lying, domestic spying, authorized torture, fabricated “signing statements” and politicization of the Justice Department. Conviction of treason should not have the death penalty, of course, since no crime should; but if convicted of treason you are pronounced legally dead, having no property, no rights, no legal will recognized, no bank accounts, no drivers license, no guns. As treason is outside the normal criminal code, Legislative branch votes alone suffice to indict and try, with no possible appeal to or exemption by the courts. Treason, as a legislative finding, is also immune from any presidential pardon, before or after. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Expand the Supreme Court to 11 members immediately. The Constitution gives the Legislature the right to create courts, and there have not always been nine Supremes. Nine is actually a 19th-century number. Former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Hillary Clinton would make fine Supreme Court Justices, as would former Sens. John Edwards and Tom Daschle. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Impeach Mr. Justice Thomas, Mr. Justice Alito and Mr. Chief Justice Roberts on the grounds of perjury at their confirmation hearings, when they stated they had not made up their minds on matters their previous and subsequent decisions indicate they had opinions already having been carved in stone. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Augment the federal circuit courts and appeals courts by one or two justices each all across the country. The judiciary has long complained of overwork, and its users have long lamented slow proceedings. Again, the Legislature creates courts, and is well within its rights to increase the number of judges to handle the workload. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Establish universal mandatory single-payer health care, putting health insurance companies and HMOs out of business immediately. Insurance was fine as a payment mechanism as long as health care was tied to employment. But nowadays it needs to be tied to existence; as the slogan has it, “healthcare is a right, not a business.” Health insurance will disappear anyway as genetic research reveals health patterns long before disease manifests itself; thus no competitive advantage can exist whereby one insurance pool is more profitable than another. Instead, there is one pool — the nation — which does away with the utility of insurance. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Mandate that any Executive Department employee summoned to testify to Congress must do so, even if forbidden by his/her superior, on pain of having their (and their superior’s) salary cut off. Failure to produce persons and papers as ordered by Congressional committees must result in contempt proceedings with jail until compliance every single time. Legislation must remove prosecutorial discretion in pursuing such cases. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Both houses of Congress should entertain a petition for Statehood from the Territory of Ellingtonia (or Douglassiana) consisting of all of the former District of Columbia except a rectangle encompassing the Supreme Court, the Capitol, the Mall and the White House. A simple majority Congressional approval of a Territorial Constitution as drawn up by the Territorial Governor and Legislature (formerly the D.C. Mayor and Council) will suffice for Statehood. Fortunately, D.C. has no State constitution to act as an impediment, and the US Constitution gives Congress absolute jurisdiction over the District so there could be no rational challenge to admitting it as a State by majority Congressional vote. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Having partially nationalized the banking system under the Republicans, Congress should also mandate a massive rollback of credit card interest rates from the usurious 25, 21 and 18% levels that are far too normal, down to 10-12%. The extortionate credit card add-on fee system must be abolished and those costs borne by the lenders out of their interest rate income. And all ATMs everywhere must become free immediately. Furthermore, the Visa/Mastercard monopoly must be made illegal and dismantled by competition or regulation and the fees charged to merchants made to bear some relation to the actual cost of providing the transfers. The practice of public utilities allowing credit card processors to extract massive profits by charging credit card users vastly more than cash payers of public utility bills, especially when paying bills late to avoid service cutoffs, must end for all gas, electric, telephone, cellular, cable, internet and water companies, public and private. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Voting list maintenance for federal offices should be stripped from state secretaries of state and placed in the hands of bipartisan county registrars. Universal postal voting á la Oregon should be mandated for all federal elections and primaries. The states can do what they want for other offices, but a clean and open federal registration and voting system is imperative to protect democracy, and Congress has the power to establish and enforce it for its own and presidential elections. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

Does all this go too far? No, not far enough. If the Dems don’t give America complete, thoroughgoing, massive change, America will conclude that the Republicans are right, politics is a dirty game that it doesn’t matter who wins. Let the Republicans retaliate whenever they have the votes.

James McCarty Yeager has lived in Washington, D.C., for 36 years but remains defiantly apart from the inside-the-Beltway consensus.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2008

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