The House spent some quality time this week with Roger Clemens at hearings that occupied both the attention of Representative Henry Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as a big chunk of my morning paper's front page. These hearings were, to all extents and purposes, completely useless.
Leaving aside the fact that Congress has not seen fit to include baseball under the activities it regulates as interstate commerce (at least to my shaky understanding, as of 1972's Flood v. Kuhn) and therefore has given itself no jurisdiction over the sport, leaving aside that other star entertainers like 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean and Timbaland have also been accused of steroid use but have not been pulled before Congress (and that's not to mention pro wrestling), leaving aside that both Waxman and Clemens now say the hearings were unnecessary -- leaving aside all of that -- whether pro athletes or other entertainers use steroids is simply not something that's at the top of my priority list, and certainly not what I want my Congress to work on.
If Congress has run out of ideas for what to do, or finds itself unsure where my priorities lie, here are 100 things Congress could work on that would matter more to me than investigating steroids in baseball.
1. Collect and release the names, locations, and occupants of all secret US prisons
2. Collect and release lists and manifests of all extraordinary rendition flights
3. Collect and release all documents petrtaining to interrogation of suspected terrorists
4. Collect and release the contents of the TSA's no-fly list, with explanations
5. Establish a fast and easy way for passengers to clear themselves from the no-fly list
6. Impose harsh penalties on predatory lenders. People who have declared bankruptcy should not be getting pre-approved credit cards
7. Collect and release lists of all US citizens whose telecommunications have been monitored without a warrant
8. Investigate how every contractor in Iraq used the funds they received
9. Same for New Orleans
10. What was that thing on the President's back in the 2004 debates, anyway?
11. Fix voting - investigate Diebold
12. Legalize federally funded stem cell research
13. Give NIH enough money to keep pace with inflation. A little extra wouldn't hurt, while they're at it
14. Establish federal controls over direct-to-consumer genetic testing, which is now a patchwork of state regulations (where any exist at all)
15. Establish federal science education standards that would remove intelligent design from the curricula of districts that accept federal funds
16. Fix the alternative minimum tax
17. Determine who knew what when during Representative Mark Foley's sex abuse of underage pages
18. Undo the Bush tax cuts
19. Establish a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq
20. Release all documents pertaining to the closed-door investigation of the Utah mine collapse
21. Legalize pot. Or criminalize booze and tobacco. Whatever. Just make it consistent
22. Regulate how many hours in a row a doctor may be required to work
23. Investigate the Pentagon's order for substandard helmets for our troops
24. Close gun law loopholes
25. Convert all federal buildings to compact fluorescent lights (and other energy-efficient practices)
26. Completely scrap the multi-billion dollar missile defense plans
27. Stop horse slaughter once and for all
28. While you're at it, stop the capture and transport of pigeons from NYC to Pennsylvania. I saw a guy net about 30 pigeons and take them into a plain white van yesterday while I was having lunch. I'm not in love with pigeons, but that's just animal cruelty
29. End canned hunts, too. No one needs that
30. Reinstate your own Office of Technology Assessment
31. Net Neutrality
32. Adopt the Pew Marine Conservation recommendations
33. Also, their recommendations on fuel efficiency standards
34. And, did we do all the 9/11 Commission recommendations yet?
35. Remember the anti-trust case against Microsoft that Bush's DOJ dropped? How about some anti-trust hearings before they buy Yahoo?
36. In fact, go ahead and tighten the regulations on media ownership and conglomeration in general
37. Put pressure on China to stop its oil-weapons trade with Sudan
38. Equal rights for same-sex couples
39. Lengthen the waiting period between federal employment and lobbying to slow down the lobbyists' revolving door
40. Give residents of Washington, DC voting representation in Congress
41. Digitize the holdings of the Library of Congress and make full text searchable online
42. Daily podcasts of Congressional floor debate, itemized by topic
43. Set aside 0.1% of the federal budget and let the taxpayers decide how to spend it
44. Inspect cargo coming into US ports, stop building the useless Mexican fence
45. Let gays in the military serve openly
46. The Army's minimum enlistment age is 17. So lower the voting age to 17 as well
47. Impeach Bush and Cheney
48. Tax all dividend income at the same rate as earned salary income
49. Close corporate tax loopholes
50. Nationwide moratorium on the death penalty
51. Standardize Uprising Farm's workaround so food stamp benefits can easily be used to get local and organic foods to low-income families
52. Rep. Oberstar's plan for bridge repair and reinforcement
53. It's been two and a half years and we still need a Hurricane Katrina Commission report
54. Forbid an unprovoked attack on Iran -- or anywhere else
55. Expressly allow civil and federal prosecution of phone companies who violated consumer privacy
56. Require pharmacists to fill prescriptions, personal religious dogma notwithstanding
57. Get Cheney's energy policy records
58. Begin impeachment proceedings against any member of the administration who condones torture -- or doesn't know what it is
59. Find Mukasey in contempt for refusing to prosecute torture
60. Stop gerrymandering: Find an automated, objective way to draw congressional districts
61. What the hell happened to Nalini Ghuman?
62. Save student loans
63. Follow Spitzer's push to break up the big bond insurers
...well, that should keep them busy for a while, and I'm sure you can round out the list in the comments below. These items are what I could come up with off the top of my head in a an hour or so. Someone like emptywheel who understands what really needs to be investigated, or many of you well-informed policy wonks, could write a Congressional to-do list even quicker, and it would be better and longer. The list you would make would probably, like mine, have some things that are crucial and some that are more like pet causes -- but I doubt sports steroids would appear anywhere among any of ours.
This week, after Congress finished wasting time with Clemens, they went on a 12-day vacation. When they get back, recharged and rested, it will be time for real policy making. One of the first items on their agenda is to find out whether racehorses use steroids.
p.s. I'm not kidding