With your busy schedule, how to manage your armchair activism - those moments you can sneak in a phone call or email to your elected representatives between packing school lunches, working, and fixing dinner? On top of the mundane stresses of First-World life, the current White House occupants and global events are seemingly conspiring to take us back to the Dark Ages. It's tempting to pull the sheets over our heads, call in sick, and hope for the best.
Tuesday morning, for instance, The New York Times led with the bombings in Lebanon, the Alaskan oil-field shutdown that's driving up oil prices (meanwhile, in Texas, Valero recently announced record profits), and looming shortages in several states' public-pension plans. In other news, DeLay will stay on the ballot in Texas, and his fellow scandal-plagued Republican, Ohio's Bob Ney, will resign in the face of a looming Abramofflinked indictment. Damn! We haven't even touched the Express-News, the International Herald Tribune, NPR, or Slate yet.
The most important thing is to stay focused, and not get pulled this way and that by every passing headline (tomorrow is another day, after all, and you're an organized, Day-Planner progressive). Here are a few items that you can agitate about this week.
Texas Democrats are celebrating a federal- appeals court ruling that Tom DeLay's name must stay on the November House District 22 ballot opposite Donkey-Team member Nick Lampson even though the indicted former Speaker resigned his seat and took up residence in Virginia. My champagne is still corked; we've elected dead people before, and we're certainly not above alleged felons. The 5th-Circuit ruling noted that the Constitution requires only that candidates live in the state they're vying to represent on the day of the election; it's up to voters to decide whether a physical address implies true commitment or naked opportunism. Contact Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise (?!) at (281) 488-4922 or via email at campaign@ lampson.com and remind him that the election's not over till the oath is taken.
On July 31, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was initiating talks with Barr Pharmaceuticals subsidiary Duramed, maker of over-the-counter contraceptive Plan B, to finally bring the post-coital pregnancy preventer to the public. Skeptics found the timing - one day before acting FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach's Senate confirmation hearing - suspicious, and not terribly original. AVE's predecessor, Lester Crawford, made promises "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights"-style that he subsequently reneged on. Vowing that she "Won't Get Fooled Again," New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton promised to continue sitting on AVE's nomination until the FDA green-lights Plan B. You can tell Hils "way to go" at (202) 224-4451; and AVE to give you your clinically tested reproductive rights already, at Fda.gov/cder/comment.htm.
As long as you're calling Washington, dial up Democratic senators Richard Durbin of Illinois (202-224-2152), Russell Feingold of Wisconsin (202-224-5323), and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (202-224- 4543) to endorse their block of Bush nominee Steven G. Bradbury. Bush proposed Bradbury for the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, but the Democratic trio are playing hardball because the Administration blocked a Senate investigation of the secret NSA warrantless wiretapping program by denying security clearance to Justice Department investigators.
Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania (202-224-4254), meantime, is trying to push a proposal through the Senate Judiciary Committee that would essentially legalize the NSA program and potentially open the door for more oversight- free spying on Americans, but he's run into opposition from the committee's Dems, including California's Dianne Feinstein (202-224-3841).
On a probably (we hope) unrelated note, a Security Destruction document-destroyer truck (47-SHRED, "Certificate of Destruction" and "Witness Destruction Room" available) was parked in a vacant lot near the downtown headquarters of a certain global telecom giant that has yet to deny its participation in a government scheme to collect domestic phonecall records. But sleep soundly tonight, pleased with the knowledge that when the Feds get your records, there'll be (202) all over them.