Release the CRS!

December 30, 2009

There are a lot of worthless government programs out there, but the Congressional Research Service is not one of them. Congress has to deal with plenty of disparate topics, and would still have to even if Congress was limited to things they actually should worry about. Needless to say, Congressmen are not going to be experts on all subjects they’ll be voting on. And while they can always direct their staff to collect information, that could lead massive redundancy if every member of Congress ordered a separate report for something… Besides, then you have to worry that one or two politically motivated members of your staff will bias the report in a particular direction. Better to have one central, nonpartisan source for this sort of thing. Which is exactly what the CRS is. According to their website:
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Common sense says that Coburn was right to do this

December 16, 2009

The world, or at least the blogosphere, is abuzz today about Sen. Tom Coburn’s demand to have Sen. Sanders 760 page amendment read on the Senate floor. According to the normal rules, this should happen for all bills and amendments, but the requirement is routinely waived with unanimous consent. Needless to say, that means one ornery Senator (or two, as DeMint joined him) can force the read, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. This went on for a few hours before Sanders pulled his amendment (ranting the whole way). Here’s DeMint’s statement (H/T Hot Air)

“Democrats are playing a bait and switch trick — wasting our time debating a bill they’ve rejected while writing a new one in secret. Right now, behind closed doors, Democrats are writing a brand new bill, thousands of pages long, and want to rush it through before Christmas.”

“Americans are tired of watching their leaders in Washington pass bills they haven’t even bothered to read,” said Senator DeMint. “If Senator Reid won’t slow down this debate, we will do it for him. This bill allows the federal government to take over our health care system, and it must be stopped. We will use whatever procedural tools are necessary to defeat this bill.”

Now, despite the fact that this is being referred to as a stalling tactic by just about everyone (and, well, it is), in truth this is simply common sense to us, the measly little common people. So however much that certain Leftists rant and rave about how nutty this move is or how partisan it is or how improper this move is, that’s not going to resonate. If I’m going to vote for something, I want to know what I’m voting on. And if someone just comes up with a 700 page amendment out of the blue, I want to know what’s in it. Now, I’m not going to be naive; we know all 40 Republicans would vote against this no matter what (as would many Democrats). But the way Congress should work is that they would vote based on what’s in the bill. And yes, we know from the gist of it that the Reps would not vote for it based on the bill, but in theory one could try to improve the amendment. But again, that requires actually knowing what’s in it. And if you don’t have time to read it beforehand, then by all means, demand it be read on the floor.
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One more thing to take from Climategate

November 24, 2009

Iain Murray wrote an excellent piece at Pajamas Media regarding the three things you must know about Climategate (the hacked CRU email and data). Despite being excellent, I think there’s one more to add. While the emails got a lot of attention, a file called HARRY_READ_ME.txt is finally getting some attention. And wow, is it interesting. Even CBS has taken notice: (H/T: Hot Air)

As the leaked messages, and especially the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file, found their way around technical circles, two things happened: first, programmers unaffiliated with East Anglia started taking a close look at the quality of the CRU’s code, and second, they began to feel sympathetic for anyone who had to spend three years (including working weekends) trying to make sense of code that appeared to be undocumented and buggy, while representing the core of CRU’s climate model.

The link has some good excecrpts, but The Devil’s Kitchen has more, plus commentary. Frankly, I encourage you to read the original file. Whoever this Harry person is, he at least knows how to keep an entertaining log. Some fun bits: Read the rest of this entry »

A new ammendment for the Constitution

August 7, 2009

This whole “ramming legistlation through before anyone knows what’s going on” thing has to stop.  Congress could do it, but does anyone think either party would actually go for that?  Didn’t think so.  Therefore, time to change the Constitution.  Sorry about the wording; I’m not good with legalese

– Any bill to be voted on by Congress must be presented to the public in final form for a period of time prior to a vote. This period of time must be at least 24 hours for every 50 pages of text in the final legistlation. In other words, a 1000 page bill must be delayed 20 days prior to voting. Any amendments or changes to the bill will add additional time at a rate of 24 hours for every 20 pages changed or added. This rule may be waived by a 3/4 supermajority.