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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 13, 2009 / 20 Tamuz 5769

Read it before you vote, congressman

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Say, did you hear the one about the congressman who was asked to do his job? Talk about funny — this'll crack you up!


Well, maybe it won't. But Steny Hoyer thought it was hilarious.


Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, is the majority leader in the US House of Representatives. At a news conference last week, he was talking about the health-care overhaul now being drafted on Capitol Hill, and a reporter asked whether he would support a pledge committing members of Congress to read the bill before voting on it, and to make the full text of the legislation available to the public online for 72 hours before the vote takes place.


That, reported CNS News, gave Hoyer the giggles:


The majority leader "found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. 'I'm laughing because …I don't know how long this bill is going to be, but it's going to be a very long bill,' he said."


Then came one of those classic Washington gaffes that Michael Kinsley famously defined as "when a politician tells the truth." Hoyer conceded that if lawmakers had to carefully study the bill ahead of time, they'd never vote for it. "If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn't read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes," he said.


Hoyer's words can be given two interpretations, both of which are probably accurate: One is that the health-care "reform" will be such a noisome mess that anyone who really digs into its details will be more likely to oppose it. The second is that so few members of Congress will bother to read the bill that if reading it became a prerequisite for voting on it, almost no one would qualify. Either way, the majority leader was declaring it more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.


"Transparency" is a popular buzzword in good-government circles, and politicians are forever promising more of it. On his first day in the White House, for example, President Obama vowed to make his administration "the most open and transparent in history." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has boasted of the "great openness and transparency" that her leadership has brought to Congress.


But as Hoyer's mirth suggests, when it comes to the legislative process, transparency is a joke. Congress frequently votes on huge and complex bills that few if any members of the House or Senate have read through. They couldn't read them even if they wanted to, since it is not unusual for legislation to be put to a vote just hours after the text is made available to lawmakers. Congress passed the gigantic, $787 billion "stimulus" bill in February — the largest spending bill in history — after having had only 13 hours to master its 1,100 pages. A 300-page amendment was added to Waxman-Markey, the mammoth cap-and-trade energy bill, at 3 A.M. on the day the bill was taken up by the House. And that wasn't the worst of it, as law professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University noted:


"When Waxman-Markey finally hit the floor, there was no actual bill. Not one single copy of the full legislation that would, hours later, be subject to a final vote was available to members of the House. The text made available to some members of Congress still had "placeholders" — blank provisions to be filled in by subsequent language…. Even the House Clerk's office lacked a complete copy of the legislation, and was forced to place a copy of the 1,200-page draft side by side with the 300-page amendments."


Ramming legislation through Congress so quickly that neither lawmakers nor voters have time to read and digest it is a bipartisan crime; Republicans have been as guilty of it as Democrats. The 341-page Patriot Act, to mention just one notorious example, was introduced in the Republican-controlled House on Oct. 23, 2001, brought to a vote on Oct. 24, adopted by the Democratic-controlled Senate on Oct. 25, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26.


Such efficiency is no virtue when it comes to lawmaking, which is why every member of Congress should be pressed to sign the pledge Hoyer was asked about. It is sponsored by a grassroots conservative group, Let Freedom Ring, and is readily accessible online. Equally worthy of support is ReadTheBill.org, which is backed by a coalition of liberal organizations. Still another push comes from the libertarian group Downsize DC, which urges Congress to pass its proposed Read The Bills Act.


Senators and representatives who vote on bills they haven't read and don't understand betray their constituents' trust. It is no answer to say that Congress would get much less done if every member took the time to read every bill. Fewer and shorter laws more carefully thought through would be a vast improvement over today's massive bills, which are assembled in the dark and enacted in haste. Steny Hoyer chortles at the thought of asking members of Congress to do their job properly. It's up to voters to wipe the grin off his face.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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