By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Oh, the twists and turns on the road to an Ethiopia human rights legislation in the U.S. Congress. The first leg of that journey began in the House of Representatives with H.R. 4423 (“Ethiopia Consolidation Act of 2005”). Then came H.R. 5680 (“Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006”) Then there was H.R. 2003 (“Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007”) which passed in the House last October with a unanimous vote and sent to the Senate. At each stage, they crowed “Ethiopia human rights legislation is D.O.A. (dead on arrival) in Congress!” And each time they had to eat crow and wash it down with French cognac andchampagne. They just could not shake it loose. Ethiopia human rights legislation in the U.S. Congress has more lives than a herd of cats. It gets “resurrected” again and again, and marches on forward.
They Just Don’t Get It!
Those guys just don’t get it! First, they said all this human rights stuff in Congress is the work of the “extreme Diaspora” and “misguided supporters of Eritrea”. When that claptrap did not work, they tried to pin it on a couple of members of Congress and their staffers. “The whole thing is the handiwork of Donald Payne and his aides. And Chris Smith too. They are out to get us! There is no support for Ethiopia human rights in the House,” they bellowed. When H.R. 2003 passed unanimously, they said, “Oh! It’s just the House. There is no support for a human rights bill in the Senate.” Now that Russ Feingold and Pat Leahy, two of the most distinguished members of the U.S. Senate, have introduced Senate Bill 3457, what are they going to say? “Oh, it is not as tough as H.R. 2003! Anyway, the president won’t sign it!” The simple point is that those guys just don’t get it: Not everyone in the U.S. Congress is up for sale. You can spend your $50,000 a month, or millions a year to pay your lobbyists and buy influence in Congress. You can wine and dine ’em. And they can make inane and fatuous speeches for you to an empty Senate gallery. But there is real and genuine interest and concern for human rights in Ethiopia in the U.S. Congress. There are American lawmakers who believe that the ideals of American freedom and liberty can more effectively advance the cause of democracy and help secure American national interests in the world than military muscle or collusion with ruthless dictators. They just don’t get it. It ain’t about Don Payne, Chris Smith, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy or anybody else. It is about freedom, democracy, human rights and accountability taking center stage in Ethiopian-American relations! It is just that simple!
The Feingold-Leahy Ethiopia Human Rights Bill
Feingold-Leahy’s Senate Bill 3457 (“Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2008’’), shares the same legislative justification and evidence as H.R. 2003. S.B. 3457 documents serious, widespread and extensive human rights violations by the “Government of Ethiopia” in the aftermath of the 2005 elections. It notes the murder of 193 innocent demonstrators and injury of 763 others, detention of “thousands more opposition party leaders and their followers”, “violations of human rights and international law by the Ethiopian military in Mogadishu and other areas of Somalia, as well as in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia.” The bill describes the use of “unjustifiably brutal tactics [by the ‘government’ of Ethiopia] against its own citizens in Oromiya, Amhara and Gambella regions.” The bill asserts that the recent so-called civil society law has the effect of “creat[ing] a complex web of onerous bureaucratic hurdles, draconian criminal penalties and intrusive powers of surveillance that would further decrease the political space available for civil society institutions.” Section 5 of the bill requires the President to take “additional steps to support the implementation of democracy and governance institutions and organizations in Ethiopia,” including support for civil society organizations, fundamental freedoms, bolstering the independence of the judiciary and full international access to the Ogaden, among other things. The bill provides $20,000,000 for fiscal year 2009 to carry out its purposes.
In contrast to the Feingold-Leahy bill, H.R. 2003 imposes stricter limitations on security assistance and travel restrictions on any official of the government of Ethiopia involved in human rights violations. To avoid triggering the sanctions provisions, H.R. 2003 requires the President to report to Congress that the “government” of Ethiopia is making “quantifiable” progress in specific areas such as the release of political prisoners, independent operation of the judiciary, free operation of the print and broadcast media and restructuring of the national elections board to reflect the political diversity in the country, among others. H.R. 2003 also provides support for economic development.
Getting to Know Our Senate Sponsors: Feingold of Wisconsin and Leahy of Vermont
The sponsors of S.B. 3457 are not some Johnny-come-lately senators who bumped into human rights while on a safari to Africa or on an infant rescue mission from the mouths of hungry canines. Feingold and Leahy are two of the most distinguished and highly respected members in the U.S. Senate. Senator Feingold is Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Africa and a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Leahy is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with full jurisdiction over the federal justice administration system. Both Feingold and Leahy have stellar records in international human rights. Both are co-sponsors of the bipartisan “Genocide Accountability Act” that was signed into law by the President in December, 2007; and the “Child Soldiers Accountability Act Of 2007”, which a few days ago passed in the House and is now awaiting presidential signature.
Both Senators Feingold and Leahy have been long time supporters of human rights in Ethiopia.
Both have made numerous public statements criticizing the regime’s human right’s record. In his introductory remarks to S.B. 3457, Senator Feingold said, “The purpose of this bill is to reaffirm policy objectives towardsEthiopia and encourage greater commitment to the underpinnings of a true democracy — an independent judiciary and the rule of law, respect for human and political rights, and an end to restrictions on the media and non-governmental organizations. As many in this body know, I have spoken numerous times in recent months about the situation in Ethiopia and I continue to believe that the U.S.-Ethiopian partnership is very important — one of the more critical ones given not only our historic relationship but also Ethiopia’s location in an increasingly strategic region…. Genuine democratic progress in Ethiopia is essential if we are to have a healthy and positive bilateral relationship. It is also essential if we are going to successfully combat extremism, thereby bolstering our own national security here at home.”
Senator Leahy has also issued numerous public statements urging the regime to immediately and unconditionally release political prisoners in Ethiopia and undertake reconciliation talks with opposition leaders in an environment of fairness and transparency. Citing the New York Times, Senator Leahy has called for accountability of the Zenawi regime in the diversion of millions of dollars meant for food aid and a vaccination program. He has criticized the expulsion of the Red Cross from the Ogaden region and the clampdown on civil society organizations. He has rejected the Bush Administration’s policy which has made it possible for dictators to hide behind the skirt of an anti-terrorism alliance while perpetrating terrorism on their own citizens: “The White House seems to support just about anyone who says they are against terrorism, no matter how undemocratic or corrupt. It is short sighted, it tarnishes our image, and it will cost us dearly in the long term.” Last August, Leahy warned, “We will not ignore the unlawful imprisonment of political opponents or the mistreatment of journalists. We will not ignore reports of abuses of civilians by Ethiopian security forces.” Anyone who knows Pat Leahy knows that he is a man of his word. But Senator Leahy’s peerless contribution to international human rights is immortalized in the “Leahy Law,” an amendment aimed at increasing the accountability of foreign military aid recipients that violate the human rights of their citizens with impunity. It prohibits funds to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights,… and the government of such country is not taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.” This amendment has “become the most important legal tool used to promote respect for human rights through U.S. security assistance programs.”
After the House passed H.R. 2003 last October, there has been a palpable mood of resignation and frustration over the pace of legislative progress on the bill. Things seemed to have stalled in the Senate and the horizon seemed somewhat bleak. Many seemed to show signs of impatience, “Why don’t they just pass the bill and be done with it?” (Most Americans feel the same way about the traditional way Congress considers legislation.) In some ways, that is a natural reaction to a process that seems to make progress at a snail’s pace. But for some of us who have a bit more familiarity with the congressional legislative process, the view could not have been different. What many saw as slow legislative motion, we saw as quantum leaps and runaway progress. It often takes years to get a new bill through Congress. The bicameral legislative process is designed to be completely independent not only from the executive branch, but also from each other. Each chamber has its own exclusive rules, procedures and traditions; and final legislative action takes time. That is a function of the constitutional architecture of the American republic based on the principle of separation of powers. The American Founders designed a legislative system to ensure that all proposals receive careful scrutiny, and that all voices are heard.
We must understand that Congress is not some rubber-stamp parliament that is at the beck and call of some political overlord. But there is great wisdom in this “slow” process. A lot of things happen: A great deal of fact-finding is made by lawmakers about the subject matter of a bill, constituents get a chance to have input in the lawmaking process often and at many levels, government agencies are consulted on the potential impact and consequences of the legislation, consensus and support for the legislation is built, lawmakers get to debate, argue and offer amendments, and institutional bargaining and compromising must take place between the two chambers before a bill is ready for the president’s signature. It takes many years to go through this unwieldy process. As the noted congressional scholar Norman Ornstein observed, “The system of checks and balances and the legislative process as it evolved in the House and the Senate were built around deliberation… If there is one word at the core of Congress’ essence, it is deliberation.” That has been the “deliberative” history of the various versions of an Ethiopia human rights bill in Congress beginning with Chris Smith’s H.R. 4423. There fact that there was not a single dissenting voice in the passage of H.R. 2003 in the House (despite millions of lobbying dollars spent to defeat it) is testimony to the outstanding legislative skills and extraordinary hard work of Don Payne (who got 85 House members to co-sponsor the bill). It took a lot of time and legwork by Don Payne to get a unanimous vote for H.R. 2003. We are hopeful that the Senate will act swiftly under its expedited procedures to approve the bill.
So what are some lessons to be learned from our struggle over the past three years?
Lesson 1. Never give up. Never Give In.
Churchill was right: “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” We must continue to work for this legislation regardless of how long it takes to pass and become law.
Lesson 2. Act, Don’t React.
Always act on the basis of the truth. Never lie or misrepresent the facts. But speak truth to power, to every man, woman and child. Never back down from telling the truth. The power of truth always overcomes the power of lies. Lies are like a mirage in the desert. They look real and convincing from a distance but they vanish when you scrutinize them closely. Truth on the other hand is like a mountain. The closer you get to it, the more you are able to experience its magnificence. Never react to lies. Liars want you to react to their lies thereby distracting you from telling the truth and getting you bogged down in their lies. React to lies not with the heat of emotion but with the cold hard facts.
Lesson 3. Act Together, Work Together and Think Together.
When people act, work and think together they always accomplish their objectives. In getting a human rights bill to this stage, we acted, worked and thought together in all sorts of forums. That is why we succeeded to the extent that we did. That is the power of collective action. Credit for whatever we have accomplished to date belongs equally to each and every person who did their best to help advance the cause of Ethiopia human rights in Congress. If we want to get an Ethiopia human rights bill enacted, each and every one of us who believes in the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights must put our shoulders to the grindstone and keep pushing until we get the job done.
Lesson 4. Speak Out, Speak Up and Often.
Speak out and make a difference. Every chance you get to talk about human rights in Ethiopia, just do it. Even if it is one sentence. Talk about it on the phone, in your email, online chat, in the restaurant, churches, conferences, on the radio and television, in the local newspaper or wherever you find anyone willing to listen. If you don’t speak about human rights in Ethiopia, who will?
Lesson 5. Knowledge is Power — Educate Yourself on the Legislative Process.
Much of our frustration about what is or is not happening in Congress on Ethiopia human rights legislation is related to our lack of knowledge and information about the legislative process. The U.S. Congress is truly one of the greatest lawmaking institutions in human history. No doubt, it has many flaws — excessive lobbyist influence, gridlock, partisanship, etc.– but as a law making institution it is accessible and responsive to its citizens. If we organize and persist — AND SPEAK IN ONE VOICE — we will find out that our members of Congress and the institution itself are all ears.
But when we talk to members of Congress, let’s be more professional: prepare our talking points, assemble our documentation and evidence, designate our presenters, make clear, concise and persuasive arguments, be sensitive to the time pressures of our members of Congress and their staffers, always be respectful and cooperative and always express appreciation for the opportunity to be heard, etc. We must avoid the past mistakes of making unkind remarks about each other’s advocacy efforts as supporters of the same cause and effort. Nothing is more embarrassing and painful than hearing members or their staffers asking point blank: “Why can’t you guys work together. It is ineffective and counterproductive for different groups who support the same cause to come in and make the same arguments while undercutting others working for the same purpose. It is a waste of our time and it shows you are not really organized.” Let’s be more organized.
Lesson 6. Make Use of the Media to Get Out Our Message.
The American media can be a great ally in our human rights advocacy efforts. We learned a great lesson from our efforts in 2006 when then-House speaker Hastert iced H.R. 5680. We were able to coordinate with the electronic and print media in Hastert’s congressional district outside Chicago to apply grassroots pressure on him to let the bill go to the floor for a vote. As most who are aware of that effort know, the impact of our media work on Hastert’s office was massive and immediate. It was described as “unprecedented” by Hastert’s staffers. But as luck would have it, the speaker and his party lost control of the House within weeks. Never have an event without adequate media coverage.
Lesson 7. Learn and Teach Others.
Human rights advocacy should not be looked at lightly. To do an effective job, we must have basic familiarity with the various international human rights conventions and instruments; we must read and understand the bills. To advocate on behalf of human rights without reading and understanding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or H.R. 2003, H.R. 5680, H.R. 4423 or S.B. 3457 could be embarrassing. We must make an effort to learn about human rights laws and conventions and share our knowledge with others.
Lesson 8. Be Creative. Think of New Ways to Act.
We need to think of new ideas and strategies to advance the cause of human rights in Ethiopia. For instance, we began pushing for resolutions in the state legislature and county and local governments on human rights in Ethiopia. Such resolutions were passed in various state legislatures including Massachusetts,Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma and other jurisdictions. We need to get similar legislation passed in every American state legislature. Musicians, artists, scholars, journalists, poets, athletes, cab drivers, food service workers, lawyers, doctors, engineers and all others can think and act creatively within the sphere of their knowledge and experience to promote human rights in Ethiopia. All of us have the power to inspire through ideas, thoughts, words and imagination. Let’s inspire each other creatively.
Lesson 9. Create Alliances With Other Groups and Support Human Rights Organizations.
A great deal of the evidence buttressing Ethiopia human rights legislation in Congress is based on the independent work of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and many other international human rights organizations. Without their work, we would not have the evidence to make our arguments. But why is that many of us are not members of one or more of these organizations? For less than the cost of an average restaurant meal, we can become members and support the great work of these organizations. These organizations need us as much as we need them. Let’s become members. We also need to build bridges to other grassroots human rights and civil rights groups. Our influence is magnified when we act in concert with others who share the same cause and concerns.
Lesson 10. Gandhi Was Right!
Gandhi was right: “First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”
An Imaginary Conversation Between an Apparatchik and a U.S. Senator (Act I)
The following is an imaginary telephone conversation that took place between an Ethiopian apparatchik (a political hack, a flunky, a yes-man) and a U.S. Senator on the occasion of the introduction of Senate Bill 3457.
Apparatchik: “Senator, I can’t tell you how pissed off we are with this bill you just introduced. We have been telling our people — as a matter of fact — the whole world that an Ethiopia human rights bill in the U.S. Congress is dead and gone. You guys sat on H.R. 2003 for damn near a year without anything happening. Now you pull off a stunt with this Senate bill on the eve of our new year and embarrass the hell out of us. What’s up with that, Senator?”
Senator: “First, let me say happy new year to you. Sorry to rain on your parade (chuckle). I hope you will not misunderstand because the bill was not introduced at this time as some sort of new year present to you and yours. It is all a coincidence. You know, bills have a funny life in the U.S. Congress. Just as soon as someone writes their epitaph, they rise from the crypt and come alive. Just like in the movies, sometimes they become your worst nightmare.”
Apparatchik: “Senator, I don’t get. Just tell me. What is the big deal about human rights in Ethiopia. Why should you care? You know everything was fine and dandy until that Chris Smith in the House messed things up back in ’05 and started talking about human rights this and human rights that in Ethiopia. Then, Payne runs with his human rights bill and scores a touchdown in the House. Now, you are carrying the ball to the end zone for a second touchdown in the Senate. Why are you guys so much interested in Ethiopia?
Senator: “Surely, you must know that human rights is a cornerstone of American foreign policy. Our policy is to promote democracy with our partners around the world as a means of securing our national interest. We do what we can to assist emerging democracies in implementing democratic principles and in developing democratic institutions. We speak out against regimes that deny their citizens fundamental freedoms. Let’s be honest. What we are proposing here is nothing new. It is all in your constitution, if you care to check it out. In Article 13 of your constitution is stated: ‘The fundamental rights and freedoms enumerated in this Chapter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants and conventions ratified by Ethiopia.’ All we are doing is help you live up to the standards of your own constitution. Do you want to talk about it more?”
Apparatchik: “No, I don’t know what it says in the constitution. I have never read the thing. Anyway, Senator, I have to tell you how we really feel. Ethiopia is not some banana republic you can run from Capitol Hill. We are a proud and independent people. You can’t tell us what to do!”
Senator: “Well, ‘banana republic’ is a term used to describe a country that is politically unstable, dependent on one primary agricultural commodity — banana or coffee — with a large impoverished population, and adorned with the trapping of modernity (such as a whole bunch of empty office buildings) and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy and corrupt clique. Is that what you are not? Anyway, we are not telling you what to do. All we are saying is the American taxpayer does not have an obligation to support any regime that engages in widespread violations of human rights. If you don’t like it, all you have to say is ‘Stop all the aid!’ and you won’t hear a word from us.”
Apparatchik: “Senator, you guys picking on us. Aren’t there enough bad guys out there for you to beat up on like terrorists, or that country to our north or something?”
Senator: “Give me a break! ‘Beating on you!’. No, we leave that to you guys. You are the experts. You beat up and jail your ordinary citizens who don’t agree with you. You threaten, harass and intimidate your opposition leaders. You criminalize civil society organizations. You jail and drive out independent journalists. And you have the gall to talk about someone beating up on you!”
Apparatchik: “That’s not what I am talking about, Senator. Anyway, you must know this bill interferes with Ethiopia’s internal affairs. Yeah, you are meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation unfairly and with no account of the realities on the ground. You are treading on our sovereignty. It is like you are trying to colonize us. You are telling us that if we do not improve on human rights, you will cut off funding. What happened to the good old days when you gave us money and let us do whatever we want with it? What is all this accountability stuff now?
Senator: “Well, those good old days are gone. It’s a new day. The American people demand accountability for their tax dollars. We provide aid to the people of Ethiopia, not to a political party or faction that is determined to keep its chokehold on power. You say we are trying to ‘colonize’ you with this bill. At least you did not call us ‘imperialists’, like they used to in the old days. You have been telling us that you are our “reliable partners” in the war on terror. Now we have become your colonial masters? Let the facts speak for themselves. Over the past decade, we have given you billions in development assistance, disaster, famine and humanitarian relief, economic support, child survival and health programs, debt relief and much more. You never complained about being an American colony when you were grabbing the goodies for all these years. Now, suddenly we have become colonial ogres intruding on your sovereignty. Give us a break!
Apparatchik: “Let me try it a different way, Senator. You are not understanding me. We are a key partner in your war on terror. We went after Al Quieda in Somalia. We broomed that place squeaky-clean. Not a terrorist in sight. How do you like that?!”
Senator: “Right. Right. Yeah, we were wondering what had happened to those wild-eyed terrorists. Anyway, we really appreciate your efforts very much. But what does that have to do with jailing your opposition political leaders and journalists, not bringing to justice those who killed innocent demonstrators, election rigging, political prisoners, misuse of the justice system for political ends and the rest of it? Look here! We may be partners in fighting global terrorism, but we are not — and never will be — partners in your crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of international human rights laws.”
Apparatchik: “Well, Senator, you want democracy, so do we. If you are really interested in promoting democracy and good governance in Ethiopia, the best way to do it by encouraging Western companies to invest in our country and help modernize the agricultural sector. You helped South Korea when it was under a military dictatorship and now you help all sorts of anti-democratic Arab countries. You know we have run three successful elections. Opposition groups are freely operating in the country and basic human rights of citizens are respected. Your bill will undermine the Ethiopia’s remarkable progress as a young democracy.”
Senator: “(Guffaw! Breaks out in boisterous laughter.) Forgive me, but how do you define democracy? Running 4 million candidates from one party? Jailing opposition political leaders and keeping thousands of political prisoners? Incapacitating civil society leaders and institutions? Jailing independent journalists? Using courts as political tools of persecution? If that is the accomplishment of your young democracy, I’d be scared to imagine what it will do when it gets into adulthood.”
Apparatchik: “Senator, we just have to tell our people that you are trying to starve them by cutting off aid and blame everything on you guys. How do you like that?”
Senator: “Doggone it! You will stoop that low, eh! What a low down dirty shame! Do and say what you will. But the U.S. Congress will never deny humanitarian aid to the people of Ethiopia. NEVER. But rest assured that we will do what we can to stop you from using our humvees and military aid to kill off your people.”
Apparatchik: “Check it out Senator. See, we are now going through a national healing after all of the mess in 2005, with the elections and all I mean. We pardoned the opposition leaders and let them come toAmerica and do whatever they wanted. Today, we have hope and optimism that has never happened in Ethiopia before. If you pass this law, it’s all going down the drain.”
Senator: “Sorry, I did not hear you clearly. Did you say national healing or stealing? Anyway, we are pleased to see that you have pardoned the leaders. But we all know that you still have thousands of political prisoners in detention. When will you be releasing those prisoners?
Apparatchik: “Well, umm! Well…
Apparatchik: “Senator, you can’t go through with this bill. Ethiopia faces a rebel movement. There is famine, I mean severe malnutrition. There is insurgency in the Ogaden. Muslim fundamentalists in neighboring Somalia and Eritrea are creating chaos. If this bill passes, we, your ally in the war on terror, will be weak. You will have no supporters in the most dangerous regions in the world.”
Senator: “Here you go again. You don’t really get, do you? Hello! If you respected the rights of your people, may be you won’t have any insurgency movements. If you take care of your people, may be they will give you their full support. Let me give you this guarantee: ‘There will not be a single insurgency movement or adverse reaction by any opposition group to your regime because of passage of this bill. And you can take this to the bank’.”
Apparatchik: “Senator, I am going to try one last argument to get through to you. If you pass this bill it will damage the economic progress we have made so far. It will interfere with our democratization process and the Ethiopian renaissance we have started. What do you think of that?”
Senator: “Not much. The last I read 80 percent of your people live on pennies a day, much, much less than a dollar. One-third of your population is directly in the path of an oncoming famine freight train. Who are you kidding? If there is economic progress, it is there for you and yours. Don’t preach this economic development drivel to me. I know what’s happening. But let me ask you a few questions of my own.”
Senator: “You have a great constitution. Why can’t you follow it?”
Apparatchik: “Duh! Did you say, constitution? Umm… yes. Can I get back to you on that question. I need clearance before I can answer that question.”
Senator: “Alright. You talk about democracy and economic development. Do you know of any country that has been able to have a successful democracy with economic development that did not also have a free press and freely functioning civic society institutions?”
Apparatchik: “Senator, very good question. Right! Umm… Can I get back to you on that. I need clearance before I can answer that question.”
Senator: “Let me put things in perspective for you. Kibaki and Odinga in Kenya were able to cut a power sharing agreement. Now Mugabe and Tsvangirai cut a similar power sharing deal in Zimbabwe. Why can’t you guys come up with a similar arrangement in Ethiopia?”
Apparatchik: “Senator, that is a radioactive question. I am not going there. Oh! No. No. No. I am going to have to take the Fifth on this one, as you guys say in America. I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I might incriminate myself.”
Senator: “I like your humor there. By the way, when are you guys getting out of Somalia? Any plans?
Apparatchik: (Sweating it.) “Senator, I don’t know nothing about nothing. Why are you asking me all of these questions. Do you want to get me into trouble? I just want to talk about H.R. 2003 and S.B. 3457 and stuff like that. I am not authorized to talk about anything else.”
Apparatchik: “Senator, you know we don’t care about any law passed in Congress. It’s is not going to make one ounce of difference to us. We’ll just ignore it. We don’t need you measly $20 million. You can keep it. We’ll do something. I don’t know. Just something.”
Senator: “So why are you whining? If is not going to make a damn bit of difference to you, why are you so worked up? Let it go, man! Forget about it! Go with the flow. Roll with the punches, dude! Take it easy! Chill!”
Apparatchik: “Oh, man!”
P.S. Please send a thank you email to Senators Feingold and Leahy, or call up their offices and just say: “THANK YOU!”