Denver Bar Association
January 2006
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Resolutions I’d Like to See

by Doug McQuiston

Every hack writer (myself included) seems to do an annual "New Year’s Resolutions" article. This year, I am approaching it a little differently: How about resolutions we’d like to see others make? That way, we don’t have to worry about living up to them ourselves. Feel free to toss in your own anytime. Let’s start in Washington, D.C.:

Resolution No. 1 — Change how things are done.

Imagine the fun that would ensue if the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee stood up during the hearings and said: "Hell, this nominee knows more about the Constitution than I do, he passed his FBI check, and seems pretty qualified. He’s not who I’d pick, but I’m not the president. I say let’s approve him and move onto the next one. The country deserves a full Bench. When it’s our turn to pick ’em again, we can pick who we want."

Resolution No. 2 — Quit spending so damn much of our money.

Here’s how it would happen: members of Congress, from both parties, form a caucus. They resolve that they’re spending too much money on too many of the wrong things, and it’s time to change. They put the 2007 federal budget in an Excel spreadsheet. Starting at "A" and working their way to "Z," they cut 15 percent across the board. No exceptions. Then, they slice off the "Senator Ted Andrews Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska, and the "Robert Byrd National Center for Pork Delivery Analysis" slated for Possum Wallow, W.Va., swinging at a few other oinkers along the way just because they can.

Swept away in the fervor of the long knives, they really let their hair down and lop off a few other programs: the dairy subsidy, sugar price supports, AMTRAK and the National Endowment for the Arts. All great ideas, sure, but we don’t have the money for them right now.

When they’re done, they sheath their swords, toss their bill to the floor, and sit back to watch the carnage. It would make C-SPAN fun to watch again.

Resolution No. 3 — Ride the horse that brung ya, W.

This one goes to the executive branch. Most Reagan Republicans can hardly recognize the Bush administration. What ever happened to streamlining government? In his first term, we got a whole new cabinet level Leviathan (the Orwellian-named Department of Homeland Security), a money-sucking, but useless education bill, written by Teddy Kennedy, no less (the "Leave No Child Behind" Act — what’s with the ridiculous names, too?), yet another poorly-functioning bureaucracy (TSA), and spending that would have made Reagan’s nose bleed. It’s time to get a grip and remember which party you belong to, Mr. President.

First, knock off the Department of Homeland Security. Nice gesture right after 9/11, when everyone was clamoring for you to "do something," but it went against every principle of good (limited) government, and it just ain’t working. Never really did. Give the other departments back their people — the Coast Guard belongs in Transportation, ICE in Justice, FEMA on their own, etc. While you’re at it, dissolve the TSA and privatize airport security again. Making Granny take off her shoes doesn’t make us feel any safer.

Next? The Department of Education. Buh-bye. Take next year’s appropriation for it and split it 50 ways, sending a check to each state. Then, tell the states they’re on their own from there on. The Feds are out of the education business.

Moving on: The Department of Energy. Don’t eliminate it, just change the focus. It will now be called "the Department of Energy Independence," whose only mission is making the U.S. energy independent by 2015. It only took nine years for Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon after John Kennedy asked for it — this shouldn’t be any more difficult. From hydrogen to nuclear to ANWR to conservation, all means should be placed at their disposal to do more with less. Make it happen.

Resolution No. 4 — Borders and Immigration laws — remember?

Another one for the executive. We have borders and immigration laws. Resolve to start enforcing both. Add border patrol agents until ICE begs you to stop. Push back on both borders. Hard. Bust employers who hire illegal immigrants, from the local auto body shop to Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. Might a few Fortune 500 execs "perp walking" on CNN toward a nickel stretch in the federal pen shrink the hiring pool?

Next, a summit with Presidente Fox. Bring two things: a "carrot," (a workable way of allowing Mexican citizens to quickly get a temporary work visa), and a big "stick," (trade sanctions and big reductions in aid to his country if he doesn’t help us stem the tide of undocumented workers).

The last one’s for the local scene:

Resolution No. 5 — The state legislature and the governor both wake up and remember why they’re there.

It isn’t all about free breakfasts from lobbyists. We want more judgeships. More judges with civil trial backgrounds. Pay them more while you’re at it.

More paving, fewer cocktail parties at the U Club. Wave goodbye to Ward Churchill. And for God’s sake (literally and figuratively), call James Dobson and tell him to focus on his own damn family. Mandate that only schools that get a perfect score on their CSAPs get to teach "intelligent design." I don’t want to hear anymore about it until every kid in every high school in the state can diagram a sentence in English and write a coherent book report on Shakespeare’s Henry V.

There you have it: what I’d like to see in 2006. Of course, we won’t see any of it, but we can dream, can’t we? That’s what New Year’s Day is all about.

"… Some people see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ My brother dreamed things that never were, and said, ‘Why not?’"

Sen. Edward Kennedy, speaking at the funeral of his brother,
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.


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