I Continue to Beat Up On Congress
Perhaps Bush was right. When Bush was President he was so pathetic that I couldn't really determine much about Congress because I don't think anyone could work effectively with him. When Bush put out his budget, he couldn't even get a majority of Republicans to vote for it.
But, now that Clinton is President it's becoming apparent that Congress is almost as pathetic as Bush is. What a sorry bunch of representatives we have. I've started trying a new tactic to get their attention. Based on the idea that all they care about is getting reelected I wrote the following letter to Senate Democrats:
As we all know the Congress passed the President's budget and now it's your turn to vote. I also know that you all are very uncertain about what you'll be doing for a living after 1994. You might be asking yourself, do you vote for the bill and realize that you are going to piss off a lot of voters, or do you vote against the bill and go to the voters in 1994 with hands empty?
Look guys, lets get real. Bob Dole and Ross Perot are counting on you voting this bill down. I don't know how long your memory is but the Democrats won in last year's election. We now control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. We ran on the platform that we were going to take responsibility for the economy, we were going to do what's right, and if things don't turn around it's our fault.
Here's what I picture might happen in 1994. Let me know if this sounds paranoid. You guys fail to get Clinton's budget passed. The Republicans win because 8 Democrats voted with Bob Dole. The House Democrats fall on the sword for the last time and the Republicans are perceived to be in control of the country. The economy continues to decay and in 1994 you go to the voters and have to convince them that it's the Republican's fault! -- Yeah Right! --
You can try to tell the voters that we aren't in a recession and that there's nothing wrong with the economy, but George Bush already tried that idea and it didn't seem to work very well for him. Your political opponent is going to be able to look you in the eye and call you a pussy and the public is likely to believe them. That's a scary thought isn't it? Doesn't it just send chills down your spine?
I know that you are torn on the issue and that you are confused and afraid and I understand that because this is the vote that will decide your political future and it may well be the most critical vote of your career (so far). With so much at stake, how do you decide?
Let me offer three suggestions that I hope will help you decide. You can do "the right thing" and face reality, or you can do "the wrong thing" and hope that the 4 trillion dollar debt will just go away by itself. I have found that, when facing tough decisions, that doing the right thing tends to work out better in the long run than doing the wrong thing.
The second suggestion is, when I'm confused about what to do, and my enemies want me to go one way, I find that it's better to go in the opposite direction. I have a hard time comprehending how voting with Bob Dole and against the President is going to be good for Democrats. Perhaps I'm politically naive and someone can call me up and explain it to me.
The last suggestion is success is better that failure. Even trying to succeed is better than failure. If you don't vote for this bill you won't get health care reform and you won't get any significant bill through and you will fail. So when choosing between "will fail" and "might work" I always go for "might work".
Along the same lines of thinking, it seems that the Republicans should get a similar letter that is targeted at the Republican perspective.
First of all, I am not a Perot supporter. It's quite clear to me that
Perot is as phoney as a three dollar bill. It's also quite clear to
me that he has already started his 1996 Presidential race. Perot is
one of the most masterful liars I've ever seen. It's no wonder he's a
billionaire with that kind of talent. I remember how Republicans
sucked up to him in 1992 and it sure did us a lot of good, didn't
- NOT -
Here's what I see might happen. Tell me if I sound paranoid. I see Republicans unified against Clinton's plans and doing everything they can do to block the President. In 1994 Republicans go to the voters and say, "Look see. They are just as bad as we are. It's their fault now. We told you all along it was those liberal Democrats in Congress who are to blame." Then Democrats say, " It's not our fault. The debt is so high that it's going to take bipartisan support to fix it. The Republicans are doing everything in their power to destroy the economy and they created the debt in the first place."
The Perot comes along and he has a slate of candidates and he says, "They are all alike. We gave the Republicans a chance and for 12 years they ran us 4 trillion dollars in the hole. Then the Democrats had their chance and they ran us even further in the hole. Since neither of them can do it, it's time to elect someone new. You've seen what they can do. Voting for me and my slate can't be any worse than what they are doing. Send them a message! Express your anger and frustration! Get even with government! Vote UWSA!"
So you have Republicans bashing Democrats and taking Democrat votes away and you have Democrats bashing Republicans taking Republican votes away. But unlike 2 party races the voters go the Perot candidate who is the "none of the above" vote. Last year 14 states passed term limitations, but not because they wanted or understood term limitations. In my opinion they voted for term limitations because of how they feel about government. It was their way of expressing anger. Pat Buchannan and Jerry Brown also represented the "angry voter" and did a lot better than expected. And look at how well Perot did the first time out.
The entire House and 1/3 of the Senate is up for election in 1994. There is no doubt in my mind that Perot will have a candidate in EVERY seat. The mystery is, how many will he win? Could Perot control say 15 - 20% of the house? Could Perot control 4 or more Senate seats? Would they not have a mandate to disrupt the process? What would it be like serving with these people? It could take all the "fun" out of being a representative. Doesn't that just scare the piss out of you?
As I said, I don't like Perot. He's transparent to me. Nonetheless, given the above argument I would have a hard time justifying why I didn't vote for the little opportunist bastard. For those of you who haven't noticed, Perot has already taken one third of the Republican party away. Perot has tasted power and he likes it and he and his 3 billion bucks are here to stay.
So you say, "OK Marc, you may have a point about Perot. How do we deal with this?" Well, I'm glad you asked that question. The way I see it is the best defense is to produce some results. Maybe it is time to "do the right thing" and fix the economy and share in the glory of the recovery. Bill Clinton has some very Republican friendly ideas and his own party is often his worst enemy.
I suggest that Republicans and Democrats and the President come together and fix the economy. If you all were to publicly display unity and put the country first then Perot doesn't have a chance. There has to be a Republican/Democrat alliance formed and I'm not talking about a phoney one like Danforth/Boren, I'm talking about a Dole/Clinton alliance. If you don't do this Perot will eat your lunch in 1994 and 1996.
There's a saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But who's your enemy here? Clinton won the election on CHANGE. Perot is running on change and if he wins it will be because he convinces the voters that he can bring more change than Clinton. So where are the Republicans on the change issue? We're not offering change, we're offering SAME!
Now I may be politically ignorant compared to you all so maybe someone can call me up and explain to me how not giving the voters want they want is going to help Republicans get elected. Ross Perot wants you to fail. He is counting on gridlock and filibusters. He hopes that you will succeed in making Clinton look bad. He depends on you voting against programs that people want. He needs health care reform to fail. Because if these things don't happen, he doesn't have a chance in the 1996 elections. Ross Perot needs you to get him elected and you are playing right into his hands.
For instance, Republicans have always been for an investment tax credit for business. But when Clinton tried to pass it the liberal Democrats shot it down. Had the Republicans supported Clinton it would have passed. I think it's time we tell our Republican leaders to start voting conservative and stop voting no on everything.
As you may have noted, you've been getting a lot of faxes from me. Several representatives have called me up wondering, "Who is this guy who is writing these fascinating letters and what is he up to? Is he a Democrat or a Republican?"
Well, I'm Marc Perkel and I'm a politically active computer nerd. I own a small software company in Springfield Missouri that makes control programs for Novell networks. Like most small businessmen, I only work half a day. Sometimes it's the first 12 hours, sometimes the last. And like most small businessmen, I'm not rich but I might call myself the "near rich".
I am a member of both the Republican and Democratic parties. My picture of Hillary and I sits proudly next to my picture of Bob Dole and I. I've realized that the parties are more similar than they are different and I just don't buy into the "football team" description of how government works.
As a bipartisan activist I attend both Jackson Day and Lincoln Day. As a Republican, I ran two one man anti-tax campaigns and managed to stop two sales tax increases totaling $124 million. As a Democrat, I sent out 6000 letters to the editor by fax supporting the Clinton campaign.
As a Democrat, I believe in social diversity and the plurality of religious expression. I believe that the "common man" has certain rights that need to be protected from the mighty who would take advantage of them. However, I resist the tendency in the party towards socialism, control by union mobsters, and excess rights of minorities (gays in particular).
As a Republican, I believe in "Traditional Republican Values" such as less government, fiscal responsibility, and keeping Uncle Sam out of peoples' private business. That's why, like 71% of Republicans, I'm pro-choice. I resist the party's tendency to sell out to big business and fundamentalist oppressors. I also have a problem with Republican elected officials who put party ahead of country and are unresponsive to the Republican electorate.
As a bipartisan, I see myself in the roll of helping both parties be the best they can be and I work for the benefit of both. I want to see both parties fight over who gets the glory of doing the right thing, rather than who gets the blame for doing the wrong thing.
Sometimes my party participation is in support and contributions to help good candidates get elected and pass tough legislation that is often needed. Sometimes I express my party loyalty by helping to prevent parties from making serious mistakes. And like the saying, "friends don't let friends drive drunk", sometimes what I do and say seem negative when in fact they are positive.
As a computer nerd, I have a sophisticated computer system. I have about 20 computers three of which are Novell file servers. On my net are three fax servers/bbs systems. With my fax servers I am able to deliver 120 single page faxes per hour allowing me to fax all of congress and my news media list in a single evening between 11pm and 8am when the phone rates are cheap.
Your name and number are in my database. I can fax to the House or the Senate. I can fax to Democrats or I can fax to Republicans. Sometimes I fax to just Democratic Senators. When I fax Republicans I speak as a fellow Republican about our party. Likewise, when I fax Democrats I speak as a fellow Democrat about our party. So when I slam the Republicans over the filibuster and then slam the Democrats for creating an atmosphere where filibusters occur, I'm being consistent. I'm against the filibuster.
So you now no longer have to wonder if I'm really a Democrat or really a Republican. I am in fact really both. Since all your votes affect me equally I'm not willing to limit my faxes to just my Congressman and Senators. I feel it is your job to read my mail whether I send it by fax or by snail (post office).
However, for those of you who are using thermal fax paper, there are alternatives. You can receive faxes with a computer and view them on the screen before committing them to paper. That's what I do. This gives you the ability to receive an unlimited number of faxes and dispose of junk faxes without creating garbage.
Or, if you installed a single gateway computer on your network backbone you could receive and send electronic mail to the outside world through services like Compuserve and the internet. I'm surprised you don't have an email gateway already. Bill Clinton has it at the Whitehouse and it makes it a lot easier to communicate with him. I'm surprised you allow them to have such a technological advantage. You might want to talk to House Information Systems about getting an internet gateway.
As a writer, I write a publication called "Thinking Magazine". Thinking Magazine is electronically distributed through BBS systems and computer networks and can be described as the political voice of the computer nerd. For those of you who may be interested in more of my views, you can download Thinking Magazine from my BBS @ Use Email. It can also be downloaded from Compuserve in the Politics forum.
Even though I'm active I have no personal political ambitions. I'm too short to be in politics. I'm an asshole and I don't want to give that up. I also like telling crude and tasteless jokes. I only wear a suit and tie when there's money to be made. Although I admire patience, diplomacy and tolerance, these are qualities I don't have. And I don't particularly like people and would rather spend my time with a machine. I would rather harass you about the decisions you make than to be harassed about the decisions I make. I would rather be part of the solution, than part of the problem.
One talent I have is the ability to come up with innovative and unusual solutions to problems. I am not limited to solving problems by conventional means. For example, how many people do you know that are a member of both political parties the way I am? Probably none. But look at the advantages I have in being politically effective. I'm using a new way to solve an old problem and it is highly effective.
This is but one of many examples of the way I think. I wrote the fax server software that allows me to communicate with you by fax. I'm writing this letter on a laptop computer while flying from San Francisco to Dallas. I'm willing to bet that I perhaps am the only individual (as opposed to a group) in the country that is writing letters and mass faxing congress on a weekly basis. I'll also bet that I have written more consistently interesting letters than anyone else and have caused which have caused more political debate among your staff that anyone in the country. Am I right?
The point I'm trying to make is that if I'm sharp enough to do these things then perhaps I'm sharp enough that you might want to listen to what else I might have to say. Perhaps you need to deal with a national problem and you need a fresh and innovative point of view. The country is in trouble, the situation is complex. Maybe it's time to let the nerds out of the back room and allow us to help come up with new and innovative solutions. I'm just a phone call away.
You invited Ross Perot to come to Washington and testify before Congress. I may not be as entertaining as Perot, but I have a lot better ideas than he has. And I don't have an alternate political agenda. I can help you out in a way that is actually useful. For instance, I actually do know how to get the budget in balance or win the drug war. I have solutions that will work and are achievable and if you want to know how to do it, all you have to do is call me up and ask me how.
The way I see it the economy needs to be fixed now. I believe that there is not an infinite amount of money that the US can borrow. Therefore at some point in the near future we are going to run out. I also believe that as the debt continues to grow that we will hit a point of no return where it is too late to fix the economy. We may already be there, but I choose to believe that we aren't. Mathematically the economy can still recover if the president and congress take very bold steps. The president is already willing to do that but the rest of you (especially the Republicans) aren't anywhere near the point of dealing with the economy in a realistic way.
In fact, my being a bipartisan is not only a good idea, but in order to not miss the last window of opportunity to fix the economy before it's too late being bipartisan is required as a first step. You have absolutely no chance of success in turning America around unless you do what I'm doing now.
Now that you know who I am and what I'm up to, perhaps you can let me know who you are and what you're up to. Is congress really as bad as George Bush says it is? I hope to continue to stir lively debate among you and your staff and at least provide you with a new source of entertainment, and perhaps a few useful ideas.
As you know Senator Boren of Oklahoma is promoting a "bipartisan" alternative to the Clinton budget. Actually, it isn't really bipartisan. The only thing bipartisan about it is that it cuts the tax on oil and is being promoted by both Democrats and Republicans whose souls are owned by oil interests.
What it is really happening is that they want to cut taxes for the rich and cut medical benefits for old people. But it's being sold as "more cuts and less taxes". But, since hospitals aren't going to let old people die on the front steps, what it really means is the rest of us pick up the "cut in spending" in the form of higher medical insurance costs.
Senator Boren has chosen to put the interests of oil and wealthy contributors ahead of the national interests. I suppose he figures that since he isn't facing the voters till 1996, the masses will forget his 1993 sins but the oil companies he represents won't. There is some logic in the Boren strategy, but I think it's a short-sited and incomplete view. Here's why:
Because of the "Motor Voter" bill, there will be more "ordinary" people voting, This will shift the vote more towards the middle class. Also, new computer technology and software will put more information in the hands of the voter than ever before. Meanwhile, software is being developed that will sell for about $30 and will contain complete and detailed information about your (and every senator's) political history. In the near future voters will be more informed and aware than they have ever been.
In spite of the fact that people sympathetic to the Republican cause control most of the major media, in 1992 almost 70% of voters voted against the incumbent Republican president. This was because the voters placed their worries about the economy, and their own futures, ahead of normal partisan considerations. I think that the strategy that failed for Bush is likely to fail for Boren and for any of you who intend to compromise the need to work on the budget in order to promote your personal gain. The Boren plan relies on the voters being dumb enough to believe that Boren knows more than they do about energy and ignorant enough not to see that he serves the interests of the petroleum industry. Although in the past voters have been that stupid, I think things are changing. In the '90s it's likely to cost more and more to successfully fool the electorate.
Many voters feel that we need to make a clean break from the ways of the past. We elected Clinton because we wanted to end the shift of wealth to the very rich from the middle class and we resent senators who we perceive to be owned by those who have robbed us over the last 12 years. Boren is now in the list of those who would sell out the public to big oil. We know who owns his soul. We thought we won the election only to find the Democrats siding with Republicans against the will of the electorate.
So, even though I think that Clinton will get enough votes to pass his budget, I really don't think you should make it cost him a pound of flesh to do so. I'm not saying that the bill doesn't need some improvement, but I want to see it improved and not compromised.
I have C-Span and I watched the vote on the budget in the house. The thing that I found interesting when watching it live was that there was this group of about 40 Democrats who held out to the last 3 minutes before they voted. I'd say that 3/4 of the "no" votes by Democrats came in this period.
The way I interpret what happened was that these guys held out till the end because they really wanted the bill to pass, but they hoped that if there was enough margin to vote "no" and still carry the bill, they did so they could go on record as voting "no" on taxes when they really wanted the bill to pass. I just wanted to point out to you that I noticed that, and figured out what was going on.
We are in a time where we have to fix the economy and Clinton must succeed. I think that many Democrats, like yourself, don't realize that your political future is karmically linked to Bill Clinton's. If he fails, then all Democrats fail. If he suffers, then you suffer. But if he succeeds, then you to share in the glory of victory.
Every so often after sending off a bulk fax to Congress, the next morning I would get a fax back which was the fax I sent but had the name of the congressman and all identifying information blotted out with a marking pen. There wasn't any message on the fax and it seems like whoever was doing it was just trying to waste my fax paper.
This last time I looked at it and decided that there's got to be some way to figure out who was sending it. When my fax system generates a fax it patches the fax header with the date and time (to the second) that the fax was generated. It takes about 2.5 seconds to add a fax to the outgoing fax queue which means that each fax would have a different time stamp. Since I'm running on NetWare 3.11 I ran the salvage utility and undeleted the outgoing fax queue. I sorted the files by date and examined them till I found a match.
The culprit turned out to be Congressman George W. Gekas, Republican representing the 7th district of Pennsylvania. I'd like to believe that the Congressman himself wasn't involved and that he just has an immature staff member. Surely Congressmen have better things to do. I responded by faxing him the following letter:
I'm just wondering why you are marking up my faxes I send you and faxing them back to me? What is the point of marking out your name in an attempt to disguise who the fax in coming from? When I fax you I give great detail as to who it's from because I have important ideas and I want to share them with you. You should consider yourself lucky to be receiving it!
If you're trying to waste my fax paper, that won't work. I receive my faxes electronically (as you should). They never go to paper unless I want a hard copy. Aren't you wasting the taxpayers money by sending annonymous faxes with no message? As a fellow Republican I think that we should be against this kind of waste. Don't you agree?
Anyhow, consider yourself "caught".
Perot Comes To Town
In Perot's last sweep of the Midwest he made a stop here in Springfield Missouri. It was very dull. I thought he'd get a lot bigger audience than he did and that there would be national press there. The crowd was only 1500 compared to 9000 that came to see Clinton as a candidate and 12,000 that came to see Bush.
Perot spent the whole time bashing Clinton. Didn't have anything constructive to say except for knocking Congress for living above the law. Our Congressman, Mel Hancock was there. But Mel is also a businessman and he and Perot have a lot in common, except that Perot is against NAFTA and Mel is for it.
So Perot is running for President and he's already started running. I've been to enough political rallies to figure out what's going on and I can spot a politician when I see one. Anyhow, in order to help keep Perot humble I sent this letter off to the press. Perot's a rich guy and he stands to save hundreds of millions if Clinton's budget is defeated. So it makes one have to ask the following question:
I was watching the CBS nightly news last Saturday and they did this piece on the Republicans sucking up to the Perotees to form some sort of united anti-Clinton front. Republicans go for the "The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend" theory. The same one that led to the Iraq war. The reporter said something that I found fascinating. He said that the Republicans should be careful in mixing it up with the Perotees because Perot might run for President in 1996 AS A REPUBLICAN!
"What a radical idea!", I thought. That's brilliant! Talk about a marriage made in Hell! Can you imagine what a Perot run as a Republican would do to the Republican Party? Anyhow, I wrote up this letter and faxed it off to Republicans.
The idea of Perot running as a Republican is an interesting concept indeed. Perot, in my opinion already owns about a third of the Republican party. He has his own followers and his own money so I think if he decides to do it that there's a good chance that he'll take the Republican party away from you.
If Perot ran on the Republican ticket he could run on the platform of reforming the party. Talk about getting back to Traditional Republican Values. He could position himself as a "do something" Republican as compared to "do nothing" Republicans, and the public just might buy it.
If Perot wins then he only has to run against one opponent instead of two. He also picks up the die hard Republicans. As the presidential candidate he would become the controlling influence of the party. Can you imagine having Ross Perot as our party leader? I'm not sure I like the idea, but I find the concept to be somewhat fascinating.
If Perot loses then he can still run as an independent as long as USWA doesn't officially become a party. In the process he will have done considerable damage to his Republican opponent and one can only speculate what kind of changes in the party will result. I'm trying to picture what the Republican party will be like with Perot defining it's character.
As you know, I'm no fan of Perot. I think he's got a serious ego problem and is an excellent liar. However, Perot is very smart and he learns from his mistakes. He may start getting 25 dollar haircuts instead of 10 dollar haircuts. It makes me wonder though, that maybe if Perot does run as a Republican that it will end up having a positive influence on the party.
As I have said in previous letters, I am not happy with the direction the party is heading. I think that many of us Republicans feel that you didn't get the message from last years election and I wonder if perhaps Perot might bring that message to the party. So the way I see it, I don't like Perot, but I don't like the direction of the party even more, so I ask myself, "Would the Republican party be better or worse with Perot at the helm?" At this point I haven't made a decision. Perhaps someone could give me some feedback on this.
The idea here is that the Republicans, my party, (one of my parties), has been bad and hasn't learned its lesson. No amount of reason seems to get through to these people. So I'm thinking that perhaps fear will. After some careful thought I think it would be good for the Republican party if Perot did run.
Perot has a big ego and he's smart and I wonder if I can goat him into it? I'm faxing a letter to the press trying to get them to pursue it. In my opinion the very thought of Perot taking over the Republican party should scare the piss out of them. But they are likely to be too stupid to realize this. Could Perot actually take the Republican party? I don't know. But when you consider what he has going for him he should be able to do it quite easily. If I were playing his hand I wouldn't have any trouble pulling it off.
Off to My 20 Year Class Reunion
Oh no! I'm getting old! Heading back to Wheeling West Virginia to see the "kids" I grew up with. Some of these kids have kids of their own who are now older than they were last time I saw them. I can see it now. "Dianne! You haven't changed a bit!" "No, I'm Sally, Dianne's my mom. Are you my father?"
Actually, that won't happen. I managed to graduate a virgin. Back in those days a nerd was just a nerd. It wasn't till I became a hippy that my luck started to change. I've been gone from West Virginia a long time and these people will be like familiar strangers. But if I don't go I will regret it for the rest of my life. Maybe I'll look up some of the other nerds I used to hang out with.
Well, it's summertime and I'm having a harder time getting into writing Thinking Magazine when I'd rather go out and play. And when I do write I'm beating up on government. So this issue was more politics than I would normally like to have written. I'm reading a very interesting book on theoretical mathematics called "Chaos" by James Gleick. Perhaps I'll do a book report next issue.