Sunday, March 10, 2013

Help! Help Me, Congress!

     Like most Americans, I've never contacted my congressional representatives about anything.  I vote for them and they win or lose;  after that, I expect them to work on behalf of constituents who do need them, and to uphold the Constitution along the way.
     Now I'm a constituent who needs my congresspeople.  I have a problem, which is shared by everyone, and it's my duty to advocate for all of us.  The problem is not a novel one:  "too-much-government" has been the Republican by-line for decades. "Too much judiciary power" is a more recent phenomenon, as drone attacks and arms-to-Mexico make news headlines.
     I haven't allied myself to Republicans in the past, nor do I claim any party affiliation at this time:  questions of politics are too intertwined for a binary system, the term 'libertarian" smacks of priggishness, and "liberal" is an epithet that strikes me as jejune.
     Still, I've had too much government lately, in my professional life, and so have a good many other businesspeople--so many of us that the economic backbone of our country is being hacked away by those well-meaning, naive, obedient soldiers who fill the ranks of the FBI, the same ones, in fact, who raided and wrecked my clinic.
     When a person has been wronged, there follows a period of emotional havoc during which it can be difficult to find one's way through the gridwork of reason toward a sensible goal.  What ought to be done, in my situation, I have been asking?  What can I, a lone person, do?  What exactly needs to be changed in our nation's governing bodies so that such wrongs may be righted, and are rescued from the senselessness of repetition?
     Our system isn't perfect.  Even if it were, it would be a mistake to think that that hillock of perfection shouldn't be eroded, constantly, by the pitter-patter of human foibles like greed, envy and sloth, and by the living presence of evil, which is sometimes stormily exemplified by horrific deeds but more often comes out as plain old inertia.
     None of us wants, really, to "do" anything, do we?  We are wired, as humans, to rest and relax whenever possible, and to exert energy only when hunger, or an urge to procreate, or dire need draw us out of our torpor into action.   I have observed chimpanzees in African woodlands and seen proof of this mammalian tendency toward inertia:  the primates sit around on tree limbs preening, or dozing, or smacking their lips until danger or hunger force them out of their mute reverie.  We might observe ourselves, too, as Americans affected by the hypnosis of night-time television:  we suffer the irritation of having to stand upright, in the middle of our shows, or we endure the aches of arthritic movement, only if a pang of appetite seduces us into the kitchen for a bowl of rocky road or a bag of chips, or if physiology mandates a foray to the bathroom.
     My own inertia is an obstacle, I admit.  I'd rather lie around at home watching birds scarfing seeds at the bird-feeders, or rereading the classics, or surfing the net for news reports to see who is doing something about anything--so I won't have to.
     Can't someone else fight my battles?  Can't the country just be good once and for all, without our having to make it so?
     I guess not. 
     So, this week I resisted inertia and contacted every United States congressional representative in Florida:  there are twenty-seven House members and two in the Senate.
     In addition, as part of my cause, I researched the various committees in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold sway, to ascertain which members might sympathize with my cause and organize an opposition to our current judicial arrangement, on behalf of businesses like mine.
     I wrote to Rand Paul, who made headlines with his filibuster response to Eric Holder's hemming and hawing a few days ago.  I contacted the chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and John Conyers (D-MI), and the chairmen of its two subcommittees-- the Constitution committee, with Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY),  and the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security committee, headed by Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
     I want to tell these representatives that businesses like Colasante Clinic, Gibson Guitar, Midamor Meatpacking, Mountain Pure Water, and Duncan Outdoor Equipment are being raided at gunpoint by overzealous, excessively empowered agents, and that our employees have been terrorized and placed at risk for their lives.  I want to tell them that this has happened to hundreds of other businesses, and that more are slated for similar raids.  These judiciary tactics are ruining businesses in America--businesses we rely on to supply goods and services, businesses which keep people off the unemployment rolls.  If our congresspeople don't stand up for us against the Department of Justice, they need to be replaced with candidates who will.
     What would a formal "opposition" look like?  One of my purposes in meeting face-to-face with congressional representatives is to find out what they suggest, how we all might work within the system for change.  One way to fight back is to push for House and Senate hearings on the matter of judicial overreach.  There have been enough raids like the one on my clinic, including some where individuals have been harmed physically, to justify such hearings.  Moreover, at a time when our national debt is the subject of terrific anxiety, there is too much money being taken from its coffers to fund ridiculous, militaristic attacks on peaceful citizens whose businesses pose no threat to life or limb for FBI agents, and therefore don't require their TV-drama-worthy SWAT attacks.
     Congress needs to hear from us about these attacks.  Our congressional representatives need to speak on our behalf, and demand a change in the over-the-top methods the Department of Justice is using to investigate white-collar matters like "suspicion of billing fraud," "wrongful application for FEMA loans," "failure to report income to the IRS," "mislabeling of Halal foods, and "suspicion of unfinished rosewood being imported from Madagascar."  Even if the FBI's suspicions are legitimate (although in many cases, they are not) none requires paramilitary tactics, which were designed for Mafia arrests, drug ring break-ups, and terrorist threats.
     I am planning a trip to Washington, DC where, for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, I will be meeting with members of Congress.  I want them to hear me out, offer avenues for action, and request House and Senate hearings on this matter.  Everyone knows the Department of Justice has been getting away with murder:  I'm one more voice in the chorus, insisting on FBI and DOJ accountability, calling for FBI restrictions, wanting protection for businesses like mine.  Otherwise, our economy will suffer.  The collateral damage from such ruthless raids is enough to cause collapse of businesses, as happened in my case.
     This coming week, John Stacks and I will meet with up to ten congresspeople and present our cases and those of our class-action group, as emissaries for the thousands of other individuals who have suffered harm, injustice and ignominy at the hands of the FBI.
    This week we will begin to exercise our rights as American citizens who want to redress a wrong and, in the process, improve the state of our country.

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