Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, May 27th., 2008

A statute in the lobby
Thanks Firefighters
Last week was EMS Week and I hope you had a chance to thank a rescue worker, a firefighter or some other EMS person for the 24-7 protection they provide us with. They are severely undermanned and endure very long duty hours. If you did not attend any of the functions last week you can still stop in to any fire station and say thanks to those guys for putting their butts on the line for us. They will appreciate knowing that we appreciate them.
Thanks Veterans. Yesterday was Memorial Day. I took my son up to Marpi for the Veterans Memorial Service. It’s hard enough to explain dying to a 3 year old, but explaining why it can sometimes be good taxed my powers of persuasion. Anyway, he enjoyed the marching band and was impressed by the soldiers in uniform. My hat is off to all who have served and paid the ultimate price.
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He’s in the Foyer
Saipan Congressman Joseph N. Camacho has introduced legislation (HB 16-96) that attempts to restrict the hiring of lobbyists without the permission of the legislature. If passed, this law would have the effect of hamstringing this and all future Executive Branch administrations and would give undue powers to the Legislative Branch, the very branch that wants to pass the law.

I should disclose that I am not a detractor of Joe Camacho. In fact I ‘lobbied’ in his favor and worked directly to help his election bid. That does not mean we agree on all issues, we don’t. That does mean, though, that I have high regard for Rep Camacho’s abilities and his sense of providing fair and balanced government. In the case of this legislation, however, it seems that Joe has lost part of that sense of balance that is so important in staving off unwarranted concentration of governmental power. This bill is wrong for the CNMI and wrong for any government wanting to provide a limited representative democracy to its people. We citizens should be wary of allowing the Legislative Branch too much leeway in interfering with the Executive Branch. This law would allow way too much.

Hiring consultants and trained lobbyists is a legitimate, albeit expensive, way for smaller regional governments to make their positions known to the massive and often uncaring central US government. It is often the only way to gain favorable action which fosters those local positions and goals. Like it or not, that is how the US system works. We ignore that reality at our peril.

An example might be the most recent case of lobbying in which a specific remedy of $15 million is sought to offset some of the additional expenses that will be incurred because of federalization of our immigration and labor departments among other things. (Frankly I think they should have asked for $50 million or $100 million, either of which is a pittance to the cash rich US federal treasury). That aside, without asking for the aid and without using a lobbyist to push for that agenda, we are unlikely to get the cash no matter how little it is.

There are some few here, especially those in the pro-federalist camp, that will applaud this legislation as necessary to keep the Executive from lobbying against their personal wishes. You can see their vitriolic complaints in that regard spinning across the blogsphere and their oft repeated letters to the editor. Wait and see, those same folks will be singing a different tune someday if a liberal (excuse me, ‘progressive’) minded governor is elected and decides to push via legitimate lobbying efforts some agenda close to their left leaning hearts and does not have the flexibility to provide essential lobbying efforts to gain that, probably distasteful, result. These same people will be squealing for the right to hire lobbyists then.

So please, Congressmen, don’t pass this ill-conceived piece of law. It is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth and will probably wind up hurting you along with everyone else should it become law. Joe Camacho can do better than this.
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You can’t make me
I am planning to join the pack and run for the new Non Voting Delegate seat in November. I will run on a simple one-plank platform: I shall not vote! As your non-voting delegate it is my blood oath to you that “I-will-not-vote”. Come hell or high water, even if they hold me down and try to make me, I will abstain from voting.

In addition to a platform, all political candidates must make promises. Here are mine:

First, I promise to fly 1st class wherever I go, and will only stay in the best hotels. I will do both as often as possible. Remember, the CNMI is off the hook. The US government will fund all the expenses and salary for the NVD from now on. So let’s stick it to those dumb saps paying taxes out there in Nebraska.

Second, I promise to keep my eyes peeled for an opportunity to sponsor some legislation actually written by some other congressman with an axe to grind or a score to settle. Like Ms Christensen of the Virgin Islands, I won’t care who takes it in the shorts as long as I get some nice benefits tossed to the CNMI in return. I further promise to do it in an underhanded and sneaky way and to bring aboard lots of ‘advocates’ for this and that so the dirty deed looks palatable, even laudable, to average person on the street. Who knows, we may save polar bears, we may grant a munificent living to needy sea slugs (or land slugs) all while secretly hiding a bill to run Aunt Tilly’s Laundromat over in Scotts Bluff out of business because it is competing against the local congressman’s Mud Pie and Laundry Emporium. Who knows what kind of devilment-for-profit we can come up with. (Sorry, Cornhuskers, if I seem to be picking on you. Feel free to substitute ‘Kansas’ and ‘Coogan’s Bluff’ if you so choose).

Third, I will bring home the bacon. I will sponsor one or more pork barrel bills designed to bring some of that US loot back here to the CNMI. We should be able to shake those funding trees and get a few hundred million to drop out and be tossed our way easy.

Fourth, at the taxpayer’s expense I will send you some great looking but totally fictional reports on what I’ve accomplished while there. They will be on glossy paper with lots of charts, graphs and pictures.

Fifth, I will not subject you to the embarrassment of being seen around Washington in a cowboy hat. A beret, even a Scottish tam, but never a cowboy hat.

Sixth, I also promise to have my picture taken 10 times per day and send it to all the papers here in the CNMI for publication.

Okay, so much for promises. I’ll come up with some more later to give you a good reason to cast a vote my way. If I keep throwing spaghetti promises against the wall one or more are likely to be favorable to you and will perhaps persuade you to shove that vote up my ballot box once in the privacy of the voting booth.

Some politicians promise to be transparent good little girls and boys, some promise to improve your life with grandiose public works, some promise you a job due to economic upturns, etc, etc. All those promises are made to be broken and most, sure enough, will be broken, mine included. Remember though, whatever else happens…I WILL NOT VOTE!

There will be 30 or 40 people vying for this position. Why not? It pays a buck seventy a year. Contract deliverables are….nothing. You can pretend to do this job and run a profitable business on the side in your spare time. It has lots of prestige…you can put on your resume’ later that you dazzled ‘em in the halls of Congress. (Literally in the halls because they won’t let us NVDs into the actual voting Chamber). You’re almost certain to come back rich after a few years of cutting side deals in DC. So please don’t be distracted by posers. Plenty are running but only one is really qualified to not-vote. Cast your vote for the guy who absolutely will not vote. Me.

One other thing. We need to have a political party in order to look like a serious candidate for election. Independent is so trite and overused. Instead, I am forming the All Night Party. You can send your donations (in an unmarked brown envelope) to:

The Bruce to Monte Carlo Fund
PO Box 2 or 3
Twisted Sense of Humor (Right next to Truth or Consequences)
New Mexico 77666
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Quote of the week: Lobbyists are in many cases expert technicians and capable of explaining complex and difficult subjects in a clear, understandable fashion. They engage in personal discussions with Members of Congress in which they can explain in detail the reasons for the positions they advocate. Because our congressional representation is based on geographical boundaries, the lobbyists who speak for the various economic, commercial, and other functional interests of this country serve a very useful purpose and have assumed an important role in the legislative process. - John F. Kennedy ( 1917 – 1963)


bigsoxfan said...

Finally, a cause I can believe in. Sounds like it's time for a poll. I working on a campaign song, if I can ever get the link to "show them to me" to work.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I tried linking to it, Mark but the link goes through yahoo mail cause a 'log off' to occur. That is the only link I have for it.