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Friday, March 31, 2006

National Consumer Protection Week Has Come and Gone. Notice Any Difference?

National Consumer Protection Week was held February 5-11, and there was much hoopla over protecting you from identity theft, as well as nineteen other scams listed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its site: “’Consumer Protection: It’s the Name of the Game’ For National Consumer Protection Week 2006.” The week is sponsored by several government agencies, as well as the FTC and major consumer protection organizations.

Try the FTC’s “Grand Slam Challenge” to test your ability to recognize scams, bargains that aren’t, and simple fact or fiction questions that will keep you on your toes. I did, and it’s both interesting and entertaining.

All this fanfare over protecting your rights was going on at the same time your esteemed congressional leaders were pushing legislation in the House of Representatives that severely limits your ability to learn of personal data breaches. The House Committee on Financial Services voted 48-17 to approve a bill that lets the “breacher” (data brokers, banks, junk mail companies, etc) decide if this is necessary. That’s like leaving your cat in charge of the parakeet while you’re gone. See Declan McCullagh’s story on C/Net, “Newsmaker: The politics of data security.”

This dumb bill would completely zap the provisions of the California law that caught ChoicePoint and some sixty other companies, organizations and schools in 2005 that violated the rights of 9 million consumers. Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director for Public Interest Research Group, says, with this bill, there would be no notices of data breaches because the alert level is so high.

And then I ran into a site—posted just before the consumer protection week started—from junk mail’s industry organization, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It tells us that we don’t have to worry about identity theft any longer. The article, “ID Fraud Growth Is Contained, Finds Better Business Bureau And Javelin Study,” is not worth linking to but here are some of the facts:

• ID fraud has declined marginally from 10.1 million people to 8.9 million
• Average fraud amount has increased from $5,249 to $6,383 (worse, right?)
• 68% of victims suffer no loss (which means 32% do)
• Time spent fixing the fraud increased from 33 hours to 40 (more bad news)

My interpretation of these facts is that ID fraud is still full-blown, but the fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated, getting more of your money with less effort. It is ludicrous to me that an organization like the DMA would state that identity theft has been contained. Maybe it isn’t so bizarre, since a measurable percent of ID theft comes from junk mail.

You may be sick of hearing it, but there is only one answer to protecting your name and personal information. Pass federal legislation that will give you control. And while we’re at it, make the junk mailers PAY YOU every time they sell your name and private data. Please, take the time to contact your members of Congress. Here are sites that make it easy: U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Challenge to Junk Mail List Industry: Put Up or Shut Up

Back in 2004, I was writing op-eds on the subject of protecting individuals’ names and personal data, and submitting them to newspapers around the country with good success. As the result of one titled, “Mining the gold in our names,” appearing in the Rocky Mountain News, Tad Clarke, then Editor in Chief of junk mail industry publication, DM News, took exception with the term “junk mail.” He also called my hand on sharing this revenue with the name-holder, professing that junk mail shoppers already share in the wealth by getting lower prices. This is pure bull----!

If you add up any junk mail purchase, including shipping and handling—also a profit center with some junk mailers—you won’t save a lousy cent. You’ll actually pay more, but it is done in the name of convenience…which is OK. But don’t insult mine, or the public’s intelligence, by trying to pass off this industry fallacy that has been floated for years…that you can save money. I responded to Clarke’s editorial with my side of the story and have been richly ignored since.

When The Dunning Letter was launched in April of 2005, I had hoped to hear from any junk mail professional that agrees or disagrees with my concept that federal legislation should be passed giving consumers control over their names and private information, and pay them when it is sold. I haven’t heard from anyone. In the 35 years while selling names and personal data, it has been my position that the individual should have rights of control, and a good number of former associates know that.

Not only do I know that there are those in the business who agree with my ideas, but from experience, there are many who felt the data breach episodes of 2005 were inevitable, due to a lack of industry standards for security. But all of us were too busy making money to do anything about it. That is, until three years ago when I began my research to start The Dunning Letter, and its eventual introduction as a Blog.

So why should I care? Because it is in everyone’s interest to clean up the junk mail list industry, and I believe there are list professionals out there with stories that could help do just that. Otherwise, these list brokers and list managers are destined to lose the $4 billion annually harvested from the sale of consumers’ names and private information. The public is very angry over the identity crisis, and it is only a matter of time before tough, possibly irreversible, measures are taken.

So let’s hear it junk mailers, especially the list brokers and list managers, and tell me what you think. You can roast me at the stake or hang me in effigy, but at least give me your position on this issue of protecting consumers’ names and personal data. Tell me where I’m wrong and what you would do in this matter. You can get it off your chest and we’ll all be the better for it. Just e-mail me at and tell me what you think.

The clock is running, and there is very little time left. Your industry can survive the “junk” in junk mail, because it is a nickname associated with that 98% that ends up in the city dump. What it cannot endure is the complete loss of public confidence that will occur with continuing identity breaches.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More on the IRS Selling Your Financial Data

Did you know that in large tax preparer franchises, that anyone in the organization has unrestricted access to your tax records? They do. Are you aware that many tax professionals outsource your tax preparation to contractors overseas? They do. It’s also a fact that smaller companies do not have the electronic capabilities to complete your returns and must use outside computer facilities.

In other words, your income tax data is all over the place just like your name and other private information. Read about it in William Perez’ article in “IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer’s Privacy.” Perez mentions even more participants in the laying open of your financial life, which are banks, loan companies, and investment firms, that partner with the tax pros.

So now they want to open the door to marketing your financial data in the same way they sell lists like Sharper Image, LL Bean, Coldwater Creek, Brookstone and thousands of other mailing lists on the market. And you know who’s standing in line to confiscate your name and all the goodies that go with it? Five hundred list managers and several data brokers that will compete for the right to hawk 295 million tax returns to whoever has the money to buy them.

This will provide a generous increase to the $4 billion already made from your names and private information each year. And…not one penny goes into your pocket. If that doesn’t gall you, it should. Restraint is called for now more than ever, and it can be accomplished by the passing of federal legislation that will give the individual control over their name and personal data, and paying them when it is sold.

Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a Democrat, along with some other congressional leaders, apparently opened this can of worms by voicing his concern over the outsourcing of tax preparation services to IRS Commissioner, Mark Everson. Markey now seems satisfied with Everson’s regulations allowing the sale of your financial data, which is another strike against the Democratic Party.

Please tell me. How did we end up with the dimwitted notion that it is realistic to place some of the consumer’s most private information in harm’s way, after over 100 data breaches in 2005, affecting 56 million people, at a cost of $47.5 billion? And the beat goes on in 2006 with at least 10 breaches already. I’ll tell you how. The current trend by the GOP to shove as much action toward the business community that it can, protect the banking industry and the consumer be damned. Read another good piece in by Douglas Drenkow: “Backed by Big Money, Congress May Gut Identity Theft Laws.”

Two of the largest tax preparers have been involved in legal action over how they handle personal data. H&R Block is being sued by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for fraudulently marketing retirement savings plans to its customers that caused heavy financial losses. See the Reuters article on, “New York charges H&R Block with fraud.” The company admits another breach in Kansas City, in an Associated Press piece, “H&R Block acknowledges privacy breach,” again, on Get this: they put the recipients Social Security number on the mail out label for software that was being sent.

As an example of general ethics, another biggie in the tax preparation business, Jackson Hewitt, had a manager of one of its locations in Michigan sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $231,053 in restitution. Also in Michigan, a second JH manager sent up for 30 months plus three years supervision, and had to pay $229,805. Each was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the IRS by inflating the refunds of clients. You can read about this on the IRS site: “Tax Return Preparer Fraud.”

The consumer does have to give their consent for tax preparers to sell their financial data. A move that I, as a list expert in the junk mail industry for over 35 years, would consider insane. Haven’t we already lost too much control over our personal data? The public hearing on this issue is being held April 4. All I can say is I wish I could be there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Now, Even the IRS Wants to Sell Your Financial Data

Even I can’t believe this, and the past year has been full of surprises. The Internal Revenue Service has decided it should get in the business of selling your name and private information. Not directly, you understand, but to authorize every tax preparer in the country to do so. The IRS is proposing to allow tax preparers to sell the very data you provide them to do your taxes. The stuff we all thought was sacred until now.

Mind you, there have been situations in the past when certain tax information was released, but primarily for legal reasons, not for mass marketing. This is blatant government irresponsibility in the handling of perhaps one of your most personal assets. Sure, the preparer has to get your consent, but this reeks of the days when junk mailers were forced to bury that now infamous phrase in their sales pitches: we may share your name with other (junk) mailers… They don’t even have the guts to say “sell.”

In a article by Martin Bosworth, he remarks that H&R Block could sell your tax return information to data brokers such as ChoicePoint, who in turn could sell it to anyone with the ability to buy. Or, as we have observed, lose it to an ID thief (my comment). Bosworth continues with a statement by Ed Mierzwinski from Public Interest Research Group: (this is) “…the same IRS that let Richard Nixon and many other Presidents run roughshod over the privacy of ordinary American citizens…”

Kathleen Pender, in the San Francisco Chronicle, makes an interesting observation: “The IRS, with a straight face, says the existing prohibitions against sharing (there’s that killer word again) confidential data with outside parties ‘restrict the ability of taxpayers to control and direct the use of their own tax return information as they see fit.’” The consent form, which is supposed to be separate from all other material, also has a “disclaimer.” It specifies that the tax preparer has no control over your name and personal data once it is in the hands of the third party—ChoicePoint, etc. Isn’t that comforting?

Jeanne Sahadi, in a piece on, says: “You want a piece of me? Pay me.” This is the position everyone should take in the selling of their name and private information. However, if you took legal ownership of your name, you’d probably bargain it away for freebies like cable or other services, according to Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He also feels that, at the present time, whoever possesses your personal data, owns it.

And that’s why we must pass federal legislation that will give consumers control over their names and private information, and, while we’re at it, pay them whenever it is sold. Sahadi agrees and cautions taxpayers further: even though the IRS regulations are not final, tax preparers could ask your consent, anticipating this potential windfall. Be aware!

More in my next Post on this issue, including the “biggies” of tax preparation like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, the IRS Commissioner, Mark W. Everson’s part in this new regulation, and the junk mail list people now standing in line to sell your financial data found in this new treasure trove.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Statistics Are Boring...Unless They're Yours

When statistical surveys are taken, they use a cross-section of the U.S. to determine the probable answers to certain questions. Based on the replies from this random sampling, public opinion is measured, and conclusions drawn on issues such as privacy. The results are designed to represent the average “you,” the consumer…so, this post is directed to that happy medium.

The reason I bring all this up are two surveys I ran into recently; one re. government’s priority for your privacy, the other the same, but for business. The results are so startling—actually horrifying—that I decided to dig further to resolve just how “you” react to this shabby treatment. But first, how business and government go about protecting your name and personal data.

In a recent Chief Information Officer (CIO) study, federal agencies don’t care about your privacy unless they are forced to by bad publicity. In an article from, “Survey: Agency programs to protect privacy inadequate,” by Daniel Pulliam, he remarks, “…privacy programs are slipping through the cracks and fewer agencies treat them as a priority…” The respondents were top federal CIO’s, one of which stated the law governing IT security, the “2002 Federal Information Security Management Act,” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Business didn’t fare any better. Some excerpts from a series of pieces done by Chief Security Officer Online: only 80 % have privacy or data protection strategy; 38 % believe their resources couldn’t adequately manage the privacy of your personal data; only 31 % are prepared to notify you in case of a breach. /MORE/ Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) reports that 61 U.S. companies experienced breaches of your private information in just the first half of 2005. /MORE/ A report by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 65 % of you feel secure online and 75 % believe that a website’s privacy policy translates to the fact they will not share your personal data. Both, of course, are incorrect assumptions. /MORE/

If you are hooked on numbers, go to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) for a collection of surveys and statistics on privacy-related matters that are unsurpassed, as far as I am concerned. And now, some of the many faces of “you.”

Over 9 million of you were victims of identity fraud in 2005, which was down from 2003, according to Javelin Research. However, what it cost you and the time to fix it, did go up. That means the crooks are getting more sophisticated.

The balance of statistics is listed in chronological order with the newest first. According to the Washington Post in January of 2006, 64 % of you thought federal agencies were intruding on your privacy rights in investigating terrorism, with 44% concerned that Bush would exceed his limits in order to investigate terrorism.

A whopping 32% placed your personal privacy above investigating possible terrorist threats… recruits for my new independent party based on privacy! In another Annenberg survey, an alarming number of you have false beliefs over the safety of your private information in the marketplace.

A Harris Poll found that 35% of you have “very high privacy concerns,” and 79% feel it is extremely important that the personal data collected on you is controlled. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, a majority of you are concerned that business and government would violate your privacy. The same study showed that another 52% of you have “very little” or “no confidence at all” that business uses your private information properly.

Eighty-nine percent of you are concerned about privacy, and 54% want Congress to pass legislation to protect your personal data. The statistics go on, but this is decidedly the place to end this post.

Join with me to get that federal legislation passed that will give you control over your private information, and will also pay you when it is sold. Write or e-mail your congressional representatives, send letters to your newspaper’s editorial page, call local TV and talk radio, and tell them all you aren’t going to take it anymore. And, of course…be sure to tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Protection Against the Protection

When you Google “ID theft prevention,” you get 6.9 million sites, some of which are selling you protection, others offer it free. You know they are going to come out of the woodwork when there is a buck to be made. I am not saying you shouldn’t buy this service, because some of us are too lazy, or just do not have the time, to watch over our identity. It does require some effort, and if you want to take charge of this most valuable asset, go to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for some of the best information available on the subject. It’s free.

If you’re thinking of purchasing protection, there is a good article on, “No sure-fire cure/Many products fight ID theft, but none fully prevent it,” by Andrea Coombes. The key here is, none of these services, nor any of the free advice, good as it might be, is 100% guaranteed. Neither is the plethora of identity theft bills currently proposed in Congress. It is all designed to help guard against the possibility of ID theft, or to clean up the situation once it has occurred. Not good enough, in my book.

This is my mandate for solving the identity crisis once and for all. Pass federal legislation to give the individual control over their name and personal data, and, while we’re at it, pay them when it is sold. If you visit this Blog with any regularity, you’ve heard this many times, and if you continue to come back, you’ll keep hearing it. That is…until we get the federal legislation passed.

You might want to check the article, “The ID theft protection racket,” on, by Pat Regnier. Sub-headline: “It could get you killed.” It chronicles a stolen identity where the perp ends up in the hospital with the victim’s name, and this data ends up at the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), the vast storehouse of your past health issues. The scenario goes on to show how, if you then went to the hospital, and the perp’s MIB info shows you have heart trouble, they could kill you. Very possible, since I once ended up in the MIB as deceased, and was denied life insurance.

Regnier mentions some elite of the financial community, “…hawking services designed to protect you from the threat.” They include American Express, Chase, Citi, Discover and MBNA, and this household has received offers from all of them. Then Regnier gets right to the point: “Privacy advocates complain that ID protection is often sold by the very companies that have contributed to the problem.”

And, of course, there’s ID theft insurance, covered in another CNN piece by Regnier, titled, “ID insurance? Who needs this stuff?” Although it doesn’t reimburse you for the stolen money, you can get up to $2,000 for attorney fees and lost wages. Other options are to check if your homeowner’s insurance covers this, and, of course, you should get your free annual credit report.

Some of these paid services are just not worth it. However, if you are one of the lazy ones, or simply too busy to deal with this and have the money to let someone else do it, just be careful with whom you sign up. Read the fine print and make sure it is the plan that fits your needs. And, don’t buy something you do not need. Remember the old reliable axiom, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. It applies here…more than ever.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why the Democratic Party is NOT the Party of Privacy

It goes without saying that a GOP Congress is never going to stoop to the level of championing the protection of consumer privacy. If anything, “W” wants to take away as much as he can, and his Congressional brigade is certainly making it easy. It’s been a year since the major data breaches of 2005, and have you seen any meaningful privacy legislation come from Washington? So, where do we turn, to the Democrats? Another not. Here’s why.

Reporting on the 2000 Democratic National Convention, had an article by Lisa Bowman: “Are Democrats the Privacy Party?” If you read this article posted in August of 2000, and if you are a Democrat, you’d think there’s hope for the protection of your privacy, and it was your party that was going to do it. Caroline Kennedy said they would. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y supported this move, as well as Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. So, what happened?

Nothing, but a lot of rhetoric, with no substance, at least from the federal lawmakers. To cap this off, I just received a mailing from Democratic National Headquarters entitled, “2006 New Directions Survey,” with a questionnaire and request for donation. It’s from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, who is the House Democratic Leader.

The survey talks about the mission of the Democrats, its leadership, and goes on to cover six issues: the economy, Social Security, foreign policy, education, the environment, and health care. It was received March 2, 2006…once again, a year from the first data breach, and not one word about privacy, much less how you can prevent your name and personal data from being ravaged by ID thieves.

It took State Senator Liz Figueroa of California to pass bankable legislation in January 2005—even before the data breaches—that would eventually expose the incompetence of data brokers like ChoicePoint and LexisNexis. Her “Shine the Light” law has been the foundation on which Congressional leaders, in their bumbling way, have tried to mold federal legislation to curb the identity crisis.

Aside from really getting nothing done, the Washington politicos are steering bills in a direction that will actually dilute state laws like Figueroa’s. And, she’s a Democrat. Congress seems bent on protecting business, over the interests of the consumers who are their constituents. That’s you, by the way.

In January, Computerworld, in an article, “Three more states add laws on data breaches,” by Jaikumar Vijayan, talks about adding three states to the twenty that already have data breach laws. More states are sure to follow. Despite the fact that fifty-one different laws would pose an insurmountable task for business, and the fact that this Congress is likely to pass anemic legislation that would supersede all 51, this is still not getting to the heart of the real problem.

Back to the soapbox. We need to pass federal legislation that will give every individual control over their name and personal data, which would include paying them anytime this private information is sold. Period. If I haven’t convinced you of the need for this legislation by now, I need to know where I failed, and why you don’t agree.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Ammunition for the Independent Privacy Party

I started my day reading an MSNBC story, “Senate panel rejects ethics, lobbying watchdog,” by Jeffrey Birnbaum. The rejected proposal was a bipartisan effort to establish independent oversight and enforcement of congressional ethics. Are any of us surprised it was rejected? Senators Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Joe Lieberman, Democrat from Connecticut, tried, but it just wasn’t to be. There are nine Republicans on the committee, seven Democrats, and the vote to reject was 11 to 5.

Republican Senator George Voinovich from Ohio, and chairman of the Senate’s Select Committee on Ethics, remarked that the ethics panel doesn’t need help, “…because it is already doing a thorough job of enforcing the chamber’s rules.” Apparently he hasn’t met or even heard of Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, or “Duke” Cunningham.

A Senator Collins comment, although not in reply to Voinovich, was that hiring professionals to oversee lobbying reports and ethics complaints could improve Congress’ credibility because of the appearance of conflict-of-interest in self-policing. She proceeded to say: “The current system of reviewing lobbyists’ public reports is a joke.” And, folks, she's a Republican.

Another Senator, Democrat Barack Obama from Illinois, also feels an independent body to watch congressional ethics is the only answer. In the Boston Globe’s coverage of this issue, “Senate balks at ethics watchdog agency,” by Rick Klein, he also reports that several senators were concerned about the potential bureaucracy, cost, and duplication of tasks of the ethics committees. In my opinion, if anything at all is done to raise the ethics of Congress, there will be no duplication in what congressional leaders are, or have been, doing.

Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, is afraid of how his opponents would use information from an independent group, and fears that it could not operate at the same level of “secrecy” as House and Senate ethics committees. There’s that favorite Bush/Cheney word again. Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, and the Grand Dame of consumerism, is convinced independence is required for ethics enforcement.

On the other hand, the Senate Rules Committee voted 17-0 to alert the public when a senator has a drink bought by a lobbyist, a piddly bill by Trent Lott they hope will refocus the public’s attention. See “Senate Panel Backs New Ethics Disclosures” on CBS Actually, it means ‘fessin up to meals, booze, and trips they receive at the expense of the strong-arm clique. Maybe I’m missing something, but this sounds like padding legislation with an issue meant to keep the wolf away from the real door: the decidedly crooked members of Congress.

I could go on forever about why an independent party is needed to stem the tide from an unethical and non-responsive Congress. Remember from my last post, 61% of you feel your congressional representatives do not share your priorities. It goes without saying, everyone wants to feel safe in the privacy of their home and with their personal information. This is guaranteed by the 4th Amendment. So, we start there as the basic platform for a privacy party, and branch out to other planks.

Hey! Sounding better all the time, don’t you think?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

My Case for an Independent Political Party Based on Privacy

Mark Twain said: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” This was spoken sometime in the late 1800’s by the writer, and quoted in December of 2004 in “Why you can’t trust Congress,” by Paul Greenberg. Greenberg, writing in, was remarking on the attempt of Oklahoma Republican Representative Ernest Istook to slip into the giant omnibus spending bill of 2004, a provision allowing lawmakers, and whomever they designate, to access the tax returns of any American they choose.

Under pressure, the provision was removed, after being discovered by the staff of Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota. posted the story, “GOP lawmaker: Tax-return measure aimed at IRS oversight,” in November of 2004. Old news? Yes, but one of the glaring examples of what lengths at least the Republican side of this Congress will go to in order to usurp your identity and place your name and personal data in jeopardy. Starting with your Social Security number, your tax returns provide all the ingredients for ID thieves to steal you blind.

Here are the results of a CBS News poll in the latter part of 2005. On Congress’ job approval, 52% disapprove with only 33% approving. Some reasons given for the dissent are: partisan bickering, 20%; bad priorities, 14%; and this is my favorite, 9% feel congressional leaders just don’t care about them. When asked what Congress had done lately, 78% said they didn’t know. Sixty-one percent expressed that Congress does not share their priorities. Yet, as an approval of political party, the Democrats are barely ahead at 44% to 43%.

In an Associated Press, article, “Collins: Public trust in Congress perilously low,” by Jim Abrams, some members of Congress are calling for an evaluation of their own behavior, as well as the lobbyists. It’s the old adage of supply and demand. The lobbyists wouldn’t be performing the crooked antics they are if it wasn’t for the needs of some likewise politicians. On the other hand, Senator Susan Collins, Republican from Maine and chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, sounds genuinely concerned over the public trust, or lack, thereof. Senator Joe Lieberman, the committee’s top Democrat, wants to clear the air, referring to the Abramoff lobbying scandal.

All well and good, but where is the real action? My gut feeling is that this Congress will let the identity crisis issue slide until the heat is off—as we have learned to expect from the past—and eventually go back to business as usual. Too bad there is no statesperson in the current crop of politicos in Washington like Shirley Chisholm, Everett Dirksen, Adlai Stevenson, or Barry Goldwater. Say what you want about former Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, but he took care of the people.

We must return to a focus on the human rights of individuals, and respect their privacy to do what they choose within the law. This would have to start with the White House and filter down through Congress and State governments. What is needed is a new independent political party with its major platform issue: individual privacy.

My grass-roots effort to pass federal legislation giving consumers control over their names and personal data, and paying them when it is sold, is only a small part of a movement that seems to be gaining momentum with the low congressional satisfaction levels stated above. The time is right and the electorate is ready to stand up for their rights.

It will never be done with ordinary politicians, and, unless there is a national leader lurking in the cloakrooms of Congress, unable to speak up due to peer pressure, we have to find that individual. As best I can determine, he or she isn’t on either side of the aisle today. As Paul Greenberg put it: “When Mark Twain compared congressmen to idiots, he was, of course, being unfair. To idiots.”