Spending and the Leadership Vote

(13:59, 2/2/6) UPDATE: John Boehner is the new leader of the House GOP. What do you think, Debaters? A good choice by the Republican congressmen?

In yesterday's Debate on the conspicuous absence of Hurricane Katrina in President Bush's State of the Union address, Debater Will made this observation:

Another noteworthy word lacking in this speech was "deficit". I mention this as an unsexy issue that will probably go unnoticed, because it is not treated as a life or death issue (yet) though Katrina and Iraq are.

So what is Congress doing about the problem? By a slim 216-214 vote Wednesday, the House moved to cut entitlement spending in ways that will hurt the poor, students who get college loans and more affluent seniors who need nursing home care. E.J. Dionne explains what is so wrong with this budget plan.

Debater Cayambe, who argues that the president "has no credibility on this issue having failed to veto a single spending bill throughout his Presidency," says that despite Bush "pointing the finger at entitlement spending, it is discretionary spending which has seen the higher growth rates under this Republican Congress and Republican President."

This is an important point.* What about earmarks, many of which are pure pork? I don't know the specific rates of growth of each type of spending, but as these charts from Citizens Against Government Waste make clear, pork has increased by $10 billion since 2000. Members of Congress certainly seem to feel entitled to their pet projects, which cost taxpayers $27.3 billion in 2005 alone.

This is a particularly big deal today, as Republicans take a secret vote to choose a leader to replace the indicted Tom DeLay. George Will wrote last month that while Roy Blunt, the Missouri congressman who's been serving as leader in DeLay's absence, is a "champion of earmarks," his chief competition, Rep. John Boehner, "[i]n 15 years in the House ... has never put an earmark in an appropriations or transportation bill."

That said, Boehner is a big fish in the lobbying world, once passing out checks from the tobacco lobby on the House floor. Given that (in the wake of the Abramoff scandal) lobbying reform is another key issue in the leadership selection, it's worth remembering that Boehner has been under scrutiny for his relationship with lobbyists in the past.

The Stubborn Liberal blog points to this disturbing article in The Hill headlined, "Candidates for majority leader opened their wallets." The article begins:

Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Education and the Workforce Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave nearly $270,000 to colleagues from their leadership political action committees less than a month before Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) renounced his claim to the post of majority leader.
The contributions are revealed in fundraising reports the lawmakers filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The reports cover the final six months of 2005 and show that Boehner and Blunt concentrated all their giving in the final month of the year.
Boehner gave $150,000 to 30 Republican colleagues on Dec. 15, according to his filing for the Freedom Project, his leadership PAC. He also gave contributions of $5,000 each to Republican candidates John Gard of Wisconsin and Jim Jordan of Ohio.
He donated $5,000 each to the campaigns of Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and Jon Porter (R-Nev.) on Dec. 22.
Blunt gave nearly $110,000 in contributions to 19 of his House colleagues in December. He made several contributions Dec. 7, several Dec. 12 and the rest Dec. 20 and 21.

The article does have some good news about the conservative dark horse candidate in the leadership race:

Meanwhile, Rep. John Shadegg (Ariz.), the former Republican policy chairman, who is also running for majority leader, did not contribute to any colleagues from his leadership PAC, Leadership for America's Future, during the second half of 2005.

Stubborn Liberal asks, "Why aren't they voting for the best qualified person? Where the heck are they getting all this money?"

A Washington Post editorial supports both earmark and lobbying reform, but insists that "there hasn't been enough focus on another kind of reform that the new leader, whoever he is, needs to promote: making the operations of the House less autocratic, more deliberative for all members and fairer to the minority -- in short, more democratic."

*Sure, Bush mentioned the pork problem in his SOTU, but only in order to urge the passing of a very different reform -- one that gives still more power to the president: "I am pleased that the members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects," Bush said. "And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto."

'Hang on,' you might be thinking, 'wasn't the line-item veto struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional?' Yes, it was.

By Emily Messner |  February 2, 2006; 6:40 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
Previous: SOTU: Where's Katrina? | Next: A Long, Long War Away


Please email us to report offensive comments.

This is where the Bush Administration and Congress are most vulnerable. The American Public is very upset about all the cheating that is going on in DC. I can't wait to see Bush conducting Ethics Classes for member of Congress. And that is the problem.


Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 2, 2006 07:55 AM

Remember, if you just switch two letters in the "United States" it becomes the "Untied States".
Bush and the Republican Congress are gross dividers of this great Country.


Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 2, 2006 09:02 AM

Didn't the US Government default last week. The US Government is bankrupt. We are borrowing 2 Trillion from China to pay for the territorial pissings in Iraq, that just elected the Shiite Council for the Islamic Revolution! What the hell are we paying for that! Why are we still giving Trillions to Israel. This nation deserves the horrors just over the horizon, hope you have some canned goods and good guns!

Posted by: Tar and Feather the Liars | February 2, 2006 09:14 AM

Here's what Newt Gingrich said 10 years ago in April 1996 to students at Emory University:

"We believe that for your generation, balancing the federal budget is a crisis situation. If the federal budget were suddenly balanced by magic, interest rates would drop by 2 percent, reducing the cost of an average home by $37,000. We are still determined to get to a balanced budget. If we don't get our house in order, the financial burden of the Baby Boom retirees will be crushing for your generation."

Now Clinton worked with the republican Congress then and balanced the budget. Interest rates did come down and we were talking about an 800 billion dollar SURPLUS by 2011. Then Bush was elected and the republicans went on a spending binge with Bush never vetoing a spending bill. And NO republican today is saying what Gingrich said 10 years ago. So did the republicans change their minds on deficits or were they lying about deficits for political gain?

It really does not matter now since the effect of balancing the budget proved to be prosperity. In the face of that I do not see how today's republicans can ignore the problem, except that they do not care. Time for change...

Posted by: Sully | February 2, 2006 10:26 AM

The problem the Bush administration faces is a glaring demonstrated incompetency. This slovenly habit has been evident in so many instances--beginning right after last year's SOU speech with the Schiavo affair--that they have become too numerous to recite.

As a former federal emplyee in a management position, I have seen this sort of sloppiness before. I recall a meeting I once had that had to do with improving the image of the agency within which I worked. A suggestion had been submitted recommending that clerical empoloyees tasked with evaluating the complexities of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) which is the Bible for federal contracting officers be called technicians instead of clerks. I pointed out that I failed to see how referring to our clerks as FARTS--Federal Acquisition Regulation Technicians--improved the image of the agency.

It is just this sort of careless, image intensive, PR approach to problems that characterizes the Bush administration, particularly given that the man at the top at the moment qualifies in every respect as a fart.

Posted by: Jaxas | February 2, 2006 11:14 AM

Blunt has reduced spending for the poor and middle income in his home state while pressing his connections with Republican money and gawd....

He is also associated with the Abramoffed bs...

Delay and he are somewhat of the same tone....

He steals from the poor and gives to the riche....

Posted by: Blunt is a christian pissant....using the word as a tool... | February 2, 2006 11:20 AM


Say what you want about Bush, the purse strings are controlled by Congress. Bush has certainly not done his job of overseeing Congressional spending via vetos or sending balanced spending bills, but it is Congress that writes the checks, and boy have they been writing checks, mostly to their own states, as Katrina funding is showning.

I never thought I'd see anyone, including republicans, go so low as to punish hurricane survivors living in a blue state. Reports are saying federal disaster funding per affected house in Mississippi is three times that of funding per house in LA. If true I think its time to put the Republican party in the same catagory as the American Nazi and Communist Parties, parties to be ignored and never allowed have power through the vote.

Posted by: Sully | February 2, 2006 11:26 AM

I agree with Sully; it's time for a change. But to whom do we turn? The Democratic Party does not seem able to shake off the chains put on them by the far left wingnuts, and now the Republicans are feeling the weight of catering to the far right wingnuts. Meanwhile, moderates of both parties are paralyzed into inaction by the howling dogs of partisanship. (great story on Danforth in today's Post)

I think we need a new party: the Pragmatists.

Posted by: Average American | February 2, 2006 11:29 AM

maybe you don't understand something...

bush represents someone(s).

your congress isn't democraticorrepublican.

he's still standing with warpowers, and tom delay hasn't been arrested because that would create problems for them...

what is getting through congress is what they want to...

having worked with people that run things in dc, you're a fool if you believe the framing...

what is actually going down?

who and what is getting passed and what isn't?

we have a rising elderly population, are they being thought of? foodstamps cut by $380 million

Making it illegal to get cheaper prescriptions from Canada or Mexico does that help out the elderly or the corporations.....who does the reduction of benefits to the tune of $30 a month for pharmaceuticals help?

Social Security payments come from the General Fund....they need that money to make sure that their investments in Europe are stable, they need to corral the oil in saudi, kuwait and iraq.....with YOUR MONEY, not theirs.....they just spin the stories and ask you to wave your little flags, and talk about gawd bless effing amerika....

they/congress are monied internationals not citizens.....look at what they spend on....highways to nowhere in alaska....every citizen in alaska gets money from the pipleline....while that oil goes to Japan, drill the North Slope because WE NEED MORE OIL, please.....it's simply a chip to intimidate, we don't need the oil, japan does...

how much land does japan own in the united states....how much can you own in japan?

how easy is it to open a business in japan?

why is that....are they smarter than us....no, they're smarter than you....your congress is raping you.

Posted by: Say what you will about bush he's a representative of a coalition in congress.... | February 2, 2006 11:43 AM

while manipulating you with rhetoric....

why didn't kerry win?

again: how could an alcoholic, cokehead, draftdodger, marginal student, illiterate, ill-spoken, business failure get to be president?

they needed someone "in control" that wouldn't get in the way....his connections got him there....

connections get paid off with favors....

does this look like what is happening?

is there some other cliche-ish way to say it.....simply look at the way things are happening....it's your country, the only way you can break the spell is to see what is going on....not keep thinking with the framing that they are giving you....

why haven't they worked on Katrina? it doesn't affect them...

oil in Saudi, Kuwait, Iraq, pipeline in Afghanistan-Caspian sea....come on...be brave....maybe daddy doesn't care about you, maybe daddy needs money to pay for his polo ponies....arabian stallions, new cowboy hats while the elderly died from lack of money to pay heating bills in NYC last year....thats real....where's your prez....schtuppin you...

Posted by: your congress represents the landed.... | February 2, 2006 11:50 AM

Puzzled by the comments of Average American. I didn't think that there was a "far left", or even a "left" in the US since McCarthy and co. stopped that nonsense. I thought you only had center right and far right parties nowadays - please educate me. A party of Pragmatists sounds a great idea - what particular goals would this party, in their realistic understanding of what is possible, be aiming for?
Is this a the best way for Democracy to go forward (Sully); to deny those you disagree with the right to stand for election? - sort of sounds contradictory to us Brits.

Posted by: Confused Englishman | February 2, 2006 11:56 AM

Boy, do I wish EM had made a subtle change to her title: "Spending and the 'Leadership' Vote." The only leadership that's occurring today is a massive charge AWAY from Congressional reform. The situation is so bad I predict that more Congressmen will lose their seats in the PRIMARIES than ever before. This is certainly the only way the GOP can stem the tide of losses in November. That noise you hear? Generations of conservative Republicans spinning in their graves.

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 2, 2006 11:57 AM

"In a 6 to 3 decision, the court held that the line-item veto law violates a constitutional requirement that legislation be passed by both houses of Congress and presented in its entirety to the president for signature or veto."

How does this jive with the president writing an interpretive statement on legislation he signs such as the torture bill?

Posted by: Peter | February 2, 2006 12:44 PM

Got a chuckle from Confused Englishman's comments. The Left (or liberals) have been an endangered species since the 1980's.

I envision the Pragmatists as a party of balance. People who can confront our serious problems with the compassion with courage the Democrats used to embrace with the fiscal responsility the Republicans used to embrace. People who can remember they represent all of their constituents, not just those who are the same color (blue, red) they are. People who can (sorry for the dirty word) compromise. sighs... what a wonderful dream.

Posted by: Average American | February 2, 2006 12:55 PM

Don't you love it? Tuesday's SOTU was, besides a shoring-up of the "conservative base", a broader appeal to the "average American." This average citizen, is supposed to be seeking his/her own realization of the American dream. Then, the day after, the House of Representatives - with an opportunity to correct the gross injustice of the budget - passes an anti-average spending document.
I just guess that some people think a thin majority in the "publica" gives the dominant party all rights, all voice, all power. Maybe the Democrats don't have a plan, but I suggest that is better than a plan to benefit power with more power, wealth with more wealth, and serve only one's own interests.

Posted by: Jazzman | February 2, 2006 12:55 PM

Speaking of spending....


Why don't you spend some quality time with a jar of Metamucil.

You look a little bound up!!

Posted by: The Lonemule | February 2, 2006 01:00 PM

Hello dissidents:

Halliburton Detention Camps For Political Subversives

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com | February 1 2006

In another shining example of modern day corporate fascism, it was announced recently that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root had been awarded a $385 million dollar contract by Homeland Security to construct detention and processing facilities in the event of a national emergency.

Posted by: here's where you'll be spending your summers...at campe...latour... | February 2, 2006 01:21 PM

Hey Average American, we've got one of those "Pragmatic Parties" over here. They call themselves "New Labour". Tony Blair is Oh so full of compassion, Gordon Brown keeps the economy running just fine. And they represent all - have NO problem cutting taxes for CEOs.
And DO they compromise - man, they compromise us all.
And does Lonemule know - you can also get pornography on the internet!

Posted by: Confused Englishman | February 2, 2006 01:32 PM

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the deficit will actually grow in 2006 and 2007 and that it will be 321 billion in 2009.

So when the President says he has a plan for cutting the budget in half (why can't we have plans that talk about *balancing* the budget anymore) I have to say...


Posted by: Will | February 2, 2006 01:45 PM

Jimmy Carter reduced the deficit. It exploded under Reagan because of tax cuts for the superwealthy. A Democratic Congress forced Bush 41 to be responsible and raise taxes for the rich while holding the line on spending. President Clinton and a Democratic Congress took it a further step in 1993 while taxes were reduced for the working poor when he expanded the earned income tax credit. Consequently, he left office with a surplus. Now Bush 43 with his Enron style fiscal mismanagement.

Do we see a pattern here people? As Howard Dean has noted many times: Republicans don't know how to handle money. They're simply not responsible.


Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | February 2, 2006 01:53 PM

what laws are being passed and by who?

why are they pressing the iran thing right now?

what are they asking you to look away from?

what do "war powers" do -> they allow you to do things that you can't do otherwise without oversight?

why would they want them?

what is being passed?

why is katrina being ignored while they start posturing about iran?

why is it against the law to buy cheaper prescriptions from canada and mexico....
to protect the corporations.

who is paying for the war? your seniors and your future seniors....it is being paid for from the General Fund, which is where Social Security is paid from....why is it that all seniors and dependant children that depend on medicare have to pay $30 more a month for medication, even though they are on a fixed income....and can't afford it.....how many children and seniors will die paying for the affluent to be able to gaurantee stable oil prices...

how many of your children will die supporting a lie?

Posted by: I'm really against framing things right/left democrat republican... | February 2, 2006 02:01 PM

Always expecting a handout from the Government. That's the problem with you people. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Everyone in this country is afforded the same opportunity. It's capitalism; there has to be those without in order to have those with. It's not perfect but it's better than any other. If you can't afford something, tough shit.

Posted by: | February 2, 2006 02:14 PM

To the previous poster regarding government handouts, have you ever actually looked at the statistics regarding people, distribution of wealth in US, poverty levels, and the ability of people 'to pull themselves out of it?' If you actually look at these statistics, instead of living in a dream world (theres a reason why its called "the american dream'), you might find out that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Freedom | February 2, 2006 02:34 PM

And as another question, do you support the war in Iraq?
I ask, because the logical assessment from your statement, "If you can't afford something, tough shit" suggests that you don't. Why would you support spreading democracy and freedom and bettering another people's lives if you don't support helping your own buy medicine, food, shelter when they don't ahve the same oppurtunities as you to buy it? (Please don't try to suggest that someone who is born into a family thats networth is 50 million has the same oppurtunities of an individual who's born into a family with a networth of 30k- networth, not yearly salary. Studies have found that things that are influencced by networth, such as diet, free time activities, tutors, sports and local school districts can all influence a person's likelihood of success)

Posted by: Freedom | February 2, 2006 02:41 PM

there needs to be an understanding that containment is not enough....

the wealthy want containment.

they are not touched by crime, paying for emergency room visits by people that can't afford doctors....

to really change things you can't throw money at it....you'd just have people with more money that didn't have the necessary living skills....

the kids I taught were from the marginalized minorities....but they were bright....they only knew the mores from the hood...

they thought I was from another country because they hadn't heard first hand a person that spoke business english....

these kids couldn't pass the computer screening pre-interviews for most jobs that exist nowdays....they don't know squat about anger managment....

they are children being raised by children....the highest emotional level I saw was about 14...

not because they are evil or stupid, because they have been seperated.....

there are no "evil villians" there are dysfunctionals that need to be functionalized and not by institutions...

why pay to institutionalize someone when you could intervene and create a self saving individual capable of generating revenue?

it makes no sense from an engineering perspective to continue to "short term" the problem with the answer being juvee and then prison....

if I had the presidency and 15 years I could eradicate 70 percent of the prison population.....I'd require that all seniors in colleges do some field study work in a specific region of the city....the same one that other colleges were investing their seniors into....

social work, teachers, law enforcement, architectual students, psychology students....live projects...

projects cover an area like the sweeping hand of a clock...new time sector every year...

interrupting neighborhood culture with educated culture.....exposure of both classes to a different part of society...so we didn't have ignorant riche kids running the congress.....asking for more in taxes, burning your cottages whenyou can't make payment....oh sorry, wrong era....right?...

conscription: taking citizens from their homes to fight a war for a feudal kingdom...

and what happened to the national gaurdsmen...who are only supposed to protect their homeland from internal sources....maybe we should fly them to washington and have them arrest the whitehouse and congress for fraud...

Posted by: I taught in middle schools and highshools for awhile... | February 2, 2006 03:05 PM

The Government is for the common good, not hand-outs. The common good does NOT mean giving the already rich people in this country more money by cutting their taxes so that the US Government is bankrupt.

The "Congused Englishman's" discussion of the Labour Party sounds SOOOOOOOOO familar.

Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 2, 2006 03:06 PM

Freedom, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you. The post that you rebutted was sickening and just the sort of banter I would expect from someone to cowardly to even post a name.

Posted by: Yodha | February 2, 2006 03:09 PM

Forgetting two things:
1) the electorate that votes is STUPID
(defined as in, vote against their own interests and there has to be a reason for it)

2) GOP: Masters of Orwellian double-speak.

Dems don't really stand a chance guys. Prove me wrong, the electorate isn't going to go digging around, they vote by soundbites.

Posted by: gonzo | February 2, 2006 03:13 PM

Oh I forgot..

Giving to the people: handout

Giving to those who have (Major oil companies recording record profits): incentive

Posted by: gonzo | February 2, 2006 03:16 PM

child labor laws, womans rights, labor laws...

we're rolling back the hands of time....

the monied can always manipulate situations to marginalize the citizens...

look at one example:

grocery stores....no one gets more than 30 hours a week any more....why, healthcare and benefits...when I was growing up you could make a living delivering milk and own a house, and play with your kids....

what about this?:

all of the factories have moved over seas, are there any provisions protecting you as citizens when your fellow citizens are moved into the service sector and out of the middle class? tariff, laws requiring the us based companies to adhere to us labor standards or environmental standards overseas?

then why the *uck would they want to be here? do you think they will pass these laws by themselves? they're not down in the streets with the rest of you....if they can get someone in india to do your job for 15% of what you're earning....

why do you think Japan has such strict control of import and business influence, and land ownership.....they don't want to be controled by other countries....you don't have that protection.....

what you're working against is the international monied.....they don't have a country they have a class and they support that by controlling the countries laws, media, connections...

Fox news....Rupert Murdoch aussie "who doesn't give a ragged eff about you"

go to other third world countries, the riche live in compounds.....that's where we're headed....

why do you think the aborigines moved to north east australia....they didn't want to end up in oklahoma sucking dust...

Posted by: unreigned capitalism is a disease..... | February 2, 2006 03:17 PM

Emily wrote:
A good choice by the Republican congressmen?

Not very impressive actually. Now had they elected Chris Shays, I might have thought they finally "got it"!!

Posted by: | February 2, 2006 03:39 PM

John Boehner is a far better choice than Roy Blount, who would be seen as all as a "let business continue as usual" choice. Boehner has a huge cleanup job ahead. What isn't mentioned is someone everyone can't muster a mean word for - Denny Hastert - except of course the moveon.org Lefties of the Democratic Party.

Hastert was part of this by acquiescence.

It took the Republicans 10 years to become as corrupt as the Democrats and less than a month after Bush was in office to launch a special interest feeding frenzy at the public trough.

Bush's legacy will probably lead historians 40 years from now to rate him as a below average President....and not so much on the incompetence of his leadership on postwar Iraq or post-Katrina as his lack of control over the greedy power brokers of his Party. But because he put America into a big fiscal hole, failed to address the energy crisis, the mass immigration of poor 3rd Worlders his corporate bosses wanted, and who destroyed our long term competitiveness with Rising China in favor of gutting high tech jobs in America in favor of quick bucks for the "outsourcing" owner class.

Poor Dubya! He wanted to be the War President who defended America. He got his wish to be a mostly correct war leader..but his Administration will be seen more as a US Grant Administration mired in corruption and influence peddling taking advantage of an inattentive President - rather than as the Lincolnescque one his syncophants declared him the head of. The danger of any President fixating on two issues (please the Right Wing base, fight the "evildoers") while ignoring other vital matters and refusing to rein in his Party's influence peddlers.

Not that anyone should wish for an America-hating Lefty Democrat who wishes to give us the Nanny State as Dubya's replacement. Or someone that cannot be trusted with the nation's security.

The two biggest reasons why Bush was placed in office are still Noble Algore and John Forbes Kerry.....

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 2, 2006 03:49 PM

Boehner is a better choice than Blount but I was pulling for Shedegg. Hopefully, they can clean up the mess. Not holding my breath though...

Posted by: D. | February 2, 2006 03:55 PM

Sully and Jaxas - Bush hasn't vetoed a single bill because someone is pulling the strings such that only desirable bills are passed. Congress has not been an independent third branch of government, rather Congress and the Executive branch have been rolled into a single actor.

How could they get control of the third branch too (until SCOTUS justices started dropping)? They started passing court stripping legislation. This seemed to happen with almost NO notice, beginning just before the 2004 election. Mercifully the Senate did hold out againt this, although one was in danger of passing the Senate at one point. Until the spying story broke this was about the most worrisome thing happening in Washington, and the msm and even Dems were virtually ignoring it - maybe because they believed the Senate would continue to protect us?

This power grab goes way beyond the Executive. Alito was chosen for his malleability - he appears to espouse whatever is the position of his owner. The unknown for his SC tenure is who will own him?

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 2, 2006 04:24 PM

Judge Crater - "The situation is so bad I predict that more Congressmen will lose their seats in the PRIMARIES than ever before"

Maybe not. The party has a lot of control over the primaries. Another thing that went largely overlooked in 2004 was that PRIMARY candidates were touting themselves as "Bush's choice". The Republican party was choosing the candidate they liked best and getting him the funding, exposure and endorsement needed to win. This was how they intended to keep their lockstep control over Congress.

Had things continued on their current path, the people we would have seen go down in primaries were RINO's - ie moderate republicans suffering from the return of conscience.

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 2, 2006 04:35 PM

The two biggest reasons why Bush was placed in office are still Noble Algore and John Forbes Kerry.....
Posted by: Chris Ford | Feb 2, 2006 3:49:56 PM

For once, I actually agree with Chris Ford. If Al Gore and John Kerry ran against each other in a presidential campaign (and were the only candidates), they'd still find a way to both lose. What's telling is that the last two presidential elections have been between George Bush, Al Gore, and John Kerry, all sons of privilege born with silver spoons in their mouths. Until the voters of America put a stop to political office being a prize for the privileged class, we'll continue to get these so-so leaders. Problem is, the two-party system is in the pocket of the privileged upper class; Too many of our 'representatives' in Washington are of the privileged prep school variety. We need real representation, not a bunch of upper class twits that are not in touch with the real world the majority of Americans live in.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 2, 2006 04:42 PM

Welcome to the Plutocracy....

Senate millionaires
John Kerry, D-Massachusetts: $163,626,399
Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin: $111,015,016
John Rockefeller, D -West Virginia: $81,648,018
Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey: $71,035,025
Dianne Feinstein, D-California: $26,377,109
Peter Fitzgerald, R-Illinois: $26,132,013
Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey $17,789,018
Bill Frist, R-Tennessee: $15,108,042
John Edwards, D-North Carolina: $12,844,029
Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts: $9,905,009
Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico: $7,981,015
Bob Graham, D-Florida: $7,691,052
Richard Shelby, R-Alabama: $7,085,012
Gordon Smith, R-Oregon: $6,429,011
Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island: $6,296,010
Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska: $6,267,028
Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee: $4,823,018
Mike DeWine, R-Ohio: $4,308,093
Mark Dayton, D-Minnesota: $3,974,037
Ben Campbell, R-Colorado: $3,165,007
Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska: $2,963,013
Olympia Snowe, R-Maine: $2,955,037
James Talent, R-Missouri: $2,843,031
Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania: $2,045,016
Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire: $1,916,026
John McCain, R-Arizona: $1,838,010
James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma: $1,570,043
John Warner, R-Virginia: $1,545,039
Kay Bailey Hutchison, R - Texas: $1,513,046
Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky: $1,511,017
Harry Reid, D-Nevada: $1,500,040
Sam Brownback, R-Kansas: $1,491,018
Thomas Carper, D-Delaware: $1,482,017
Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: $1,417,013
Maria Cantwell, D-Washington: $1,264,999
Barbara Boxer, D-California: $1,172,003
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: $1,086,023
Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana: $1,080,014
Bill Nelson, D-Florida: $1,073,014
Charles Grassley, R-Iowa: $1,016,024
*These figures are base estimates provided by senators on their financial disclosure forms.

Posted by: D. | February 2, 2006 04:50 PM

This power grab goes way beyond the Executive. Alito was chosen for his malleability - he appears to espouse whatever is the position of his owner. The unknown for his SC tenure is who will own him?
Posted by: patriot1957 | Feb 2, 2006 4:24:54 PM

I would withhold judgement on Alito for now. His first vote as Justice had him voting against the conservative bloc. What's disappointing is that John Roberts, who claimed to be an empirical, impartial person, keeps voting in a bloc with Scalia and Thomas. Hopefully, this has just been coincidence so far, else Roberts seriously downplayed his own conservatism. Obviously, it's a little too early to tell, but so far Alito has shown independent thought while Roberts just tows the party line. I actually think both will be more moderate and independent than expected, though I'm beginning to wonder if John Roberts will turn out to be a partisan justice.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 2, 2006 04:51 PM


Who thinks Emily looks like she just ate a 5lb block of cheese?

I mean, consider a stool softener.

Posted by: The Lonemule | February 2, 2006 04:52 PM

So the Democrats ran the richest boob they could find in 2004. No wonder they lost. That Kerry lost in 2004 and Bush sqaundered all his political capital in 2005 just goes to show that these rich boy nincompoops aren't fit to hold office. No matter which out-of-touch-with-the-real-world prep school graduate won in 2004, they would have screwed things up in 2005. I hope the American voter will learn a lesson from letting two silver spoon dunces be their only choices for president two times in a row.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 2, 2006 05:08 PM

Who thinks Emily looks like she just ate a 5lb block of cheese?
I mean, consider a stool softener.
Posted by: The Lonemule | Feb 2, 2006 4:52:25 PM

Seriously, consider posting on-topic for once and saying something that isn't nonsensical. Give stool softeners and your Freudian issues a rest, Lonemule. At least you've dropped the Jay Sherman bit for now.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 2, 2006 05:12 PM

Erinn, don't be so quick to buy the caricatures Karl Rove sold you for these guys. Kerry didn't actually flip flop any more than Bush - who went from bullying Gore about being a nation builder to "democracy is on the march?". And while actually understanding things like the difference between Shia and Sunni doesn't always make you an interesting conversationalist or inspire exciting rhetoric, it actually was important that our chief executive understand the Arab world and the law of unintended consequences.

I mean really, Gore the nation builder would most certainly have finished the job in Afghanistan. Bush didn't, and now we are truly screwed there. The guys I know posted there tell me the Taliban is back, and now they're armed for bear and just waiting in their caves for the infusion of bodies when Iraq cools off to really make their move. We will be like Russia, with an entrenched armed enemy and no exit strategy fighting another endless war there until we get disgusted with the mess and decide to cut our losses and run. How much wiser it would have been not to have been put in the position of having to choose that option.

And today Negroponte told us that al Qaeda is strengthened and invigorated by the merger with Qarqawi. You know the pissant Jordanian guy who had a little camp in Kurdish controlled Iraq until we gave him a bully pulpit and built him a terrorist spewing machine of epic proportions in Iraq. Somehow we managed to undo the way we "disassembled" al Qaeda and killed 2/3 of their leadership and saw a lot of Bin Laden's sympathizers dry up after 9-11 and now al Qaeda is more of a threat than ever.

I truly can't understand how anyone willing to look past the rhetoric to the substance can give this president anything but an F for fighting terrorism. Its worse than ever and even Jimmy Carter could have done a better job with this one.

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 2, 2006 05:27 PM

Run away!!!! Run away!!! All is lost!!! They're hidding in, like, their CAVES man...its over! Oh how the mighty have been humbled!!!

Posted by: Red Ken Livingston | February 2, 2006 06:00 PM

The reason the Democrats do not have a unified position on defense is because they have to worry about looking soft on defense. But there is a principaled stance on the war that is sure to get us cutting and running long before a Presidential election.

The Democrats could demand, quite reasonably, that if the President wants to sign a 60-80 billion dollar bill every year for the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq (currently around 330 billion is the price tag for these wars) he has to actually provide the means to pay for it as well.

I have a feeling that the American public, who have already turned against this free war with historically low casualty rates, wouldn't feel all that great about putting boots in the middle east when their taxes increase to pay for the war.

One reason Americans get so riled up for defense is because they have no perspective on the costs. Wars in Iraq are not expensive, despite politicians best attempts to describe them as such. We haven't paid for them.

There have not been any substantial spending cuts to pay for this war. No one has seriously proposed increasing taxes to pay for this war. Yet here we are, 330 billion dollars later, still talking about how indefinite it is.

Maybe if Americans knew how much wars actually cost (you know... like the government actually levied money from them to pay for it) they would be reluctant to encourage them in the first place. "Iraq has WMDs!!!" would be less convincing if it was qualified with "but it will cost you an 8% income tax increase to pay for it (which is about what it would cost)

War sure is hell, huh? Wouldn't know. Don't have to pay for it.

Posted by: Will | February 2, 2006 06:13 PM

Patriot1957 -

"I mean really, Gore the nation builder would most certainly have finished the job in Afghanistan."

Oh yeah, that Algore....the same one that is now sounding like Cindy Sheehan on testosterone shots and lost his home state plus Bill Clinton's home state over his campaign for new infringements on gun ownership? The new spokesman for "enemy civil liberties?" It seems Dems are repeating their old piss and moans about the "genius" of Adalai Stevenson III (who it turns out was far lower in IQ than IKE) with how the planet would be in genius hands with Noble Algore and War Hero Kerry instead of ...That...Man!!

Only way the Dems win is when they wise up and find a Centrist like Clinton or Truman. The only way a Clinton or Truman is successful is when they ditch the knee pads the "Hate America" Left of the DEmocratic Party demand they don...

" Qarqawi. You know the pissant Jordanian guy who had a little camp in Kurdish controlled Iraq until we gave him a bully pulpit and built him a terrorist spewing machine of epic proportions in Iraq. Somehow we managed to undo the way we "disassembled" al Qaeda and killed 2/3 of their leadership and saw a lot of Bin Laden's sympathizers dry up after 9-11 and now al Qaeda is more of a threat than ever."

Patriot1957 continues the Great Lefty Mistake of thinking terrorism is a law enforcement problem involving only a few thousand individuals who could cease as a coherent force if we only "decapitate" handful dozen "Head Evildoers" a la a James Bond novel.

Terrorism is simply a tool of radical Islam. One of many. The anti-West media is a tool. The predominantly Jewish ACLU is a tool of radical Islam. Oil is a tool. The madrassahs are tools..and so on. The war is with radical Islam, not a few "criminals". The Islamoids don't consider their Jihad against infidels, apostates, and heretic Muslims evil or criminal in any way. Not when they have a religion that guarantees heaven to those who kill to advance Allah's grip over lands.

After 4 years, it is long past time for Lefties to use a little reasoning power and see the war with radical Islam is an ideological war that terror is found a useful tool in...and this war will NOT end when the White Whale is captured and given to his ACLU defenders for another "Admirable" Trial of the Century...

Even thick-skulled Lefties are beginning to realize it's more than a Ahab-like quest to "get" a single entity...it's slowly sinking in as Lefty newspapers in Europe are threatened with death for running cartoons of the Prophet hundreds of times tamer than the vicious cartoons Islamoids gleefully and routinely run of Jews, Bush, black African "infidel savages".

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 2, 2006 06:47 PM

The CLEAN SWEEP MOVEMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA has the goal of replacing every elected representative and judge in the next election cycle. Here are some issues that could help get Independents elected because the existing parties have become to self-serving and would never address these issues which I think Independents can win on:

Good luck.

Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 2, 2006 07:22 PM

You're right, Chris Ford. This is about more than one man. Because Dubya has so successfully pissed off an entire region.

Posted by: Matthew | February 2, 2006 07:26 PM

Why can't Righties respect other people's cultures. What makes Righties so .....right?
Oil? Bank? Gold? Guns? What? God? Ha, you don't know Him.

Posted by: | February 2, 2006 07:35 PM

I think I get Chris Ford's point. It's great to finally understand where US policy should be going at last. It is not simply a dozen or so Muslims that need killing - not even just the odd thousand.
Basically you have to kill the bloody lot - otherwise they'll be some bugger left to object to our cartoons.

Posted by: Confused Englishman | February 2, 2006 07:48 PM

My lower intestine feels like it's full of concrete.

Anyone got a Feenamint?

Posted by: The Lonemule | February 2, 2006 08:32 PM

I thought I smelled something stinking here.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 2, 2006 09:29 PM

the single entity walks out makes a tape and fed exes it to the cia....who are impatiently waiting to give it to their media gofers...

oh yes....it's hard to find that one man...

you've got to pay him.

Posted by: in burbank...on a sound stage... | February 2, 2006 10:36 PM

just like ali lost to spinks....

what a bunch of starry eyed gooks.

Posted by: yeah bush beat al and john.... | February 2, 2006 10:39 PM

Once again a Bush appointee is in trouble for putting party before the people, this time at NASA:

From the Post:
"An FBI-led watchdog agency has opened an investigation into multiple complaints accusing NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb of failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle-blowers. Most of the complaints were filed by current and former employees of his own office."

Anyone want to put odds on whether he was qualified for the job or not?

Posted by: Sully | February 2, 2006 11:19 PM

Below is Cobb's bio from his own website. Not sure if this is a qualification for OIG. I looked at other OIG backgrounds and most had criminal investigation or deputy OIG backgrounds. Cobb's background seems weak for becomming an OIG of a large complicated agency as NASA. Of course Bush gave a recess appointment to Julie Myers to head Immigration and Customs when she had virtually no management experience. Anyway, here is Cobb's experience before becomming OIG at NASA:

"Mr. Cobb was previously Associate Counsel to the President. In this role, he handled the administration of the White House ethics program under the supervision of the Counsel to the President and was responsible for administration of the conflict of interest and financial disclosure clearance processes for candidates for nomination to Senate-confirmed positions.

Posted by: Sully | February 2, 2006 11:40 PM

"You're right, Chris Ford. This is about more than one man. Because Dubya has so successfully pissed off an entire region.

Posted by: Matthew "

Ah, that would be the pissed off region that had committed acts of terror from Los Angeles to Moscow to New Guinea, and had already killed a million Sudanese and 1/3rd of the population of East Timor in the years prior to Bush. And had got the greenlight to do the 9/11 plot AND declare war on the USA civilian population in 1998, two years before his election.

The same folks that then attacked the US, they were so pissed off.

But then the Hitler-Bush became the Real Root Cause of Really Really pissing off the Religion of Peace when he went after those Really, Really pissed off people....and thus "antagonizing" the really really pissed off but peaceful people of the Religion of Peace.

Thank you Matthew! Now I understand how reacting negatively to a few skyscrapers falling needlessly pissed these pissed off people further and Forced them to dish out Bali, head-chopping hostages and other righteous things Allah wants because the Bush-Hitler made it unavoidable..

And made the Islamoids so pissed off about Iraq - beyond being sorta pissed off - that they Just Had To Kill the Children of Beslan because Russia was....well, they were pissed off about Russia for other reasons...and further had to bomb, execute and butcher The Wrong Sort Of Muslims in Iraq. And kill thousands of Hindis - just to keep in practice, I guess - and go back to the Sudan Butchery, Round II..

Bush's fault. All Bush's fault.

Got it, Matthew!

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 2, 2006 11:54 PM

I just hope all of you vote as well in November as you post comments now. Your vote is the real comment. For the first time in my life, I'm really scared for my families future because of what republicans have done to our government.

Posted by: Jamal | February 3, 2006 12:48 AM

Is there any particular person, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, whatever, that you would like to vote for for President in 2008?

Posted by: Cayambe | February 3, 2006 01:30 AM

Will wrote:
"The reason the Democrats do not have a unified position on defense is because they have to worry about looking soft on defense. But there is a principaled stance on the war that is sure to get us cutting and running long before a Presidential election."

Sorry Will, I just can't agree with that at all. There are very few Democrats with what I would call principles, to include principles with which I would disagree. Among the few, I would list Senators Byrd, Feingold, Levin, and of course, Howard Dean. Some might add Senator Lieberman, but I personally have a hard time with religion as a substitute for principles. Then there is Barney Frank who does seem to me to have principles. The vast majority of Democrats voted their constituencies back in the AUF days, which is not quite the same as voting your principles. As for being "soft on defense", the principled stand would have argued that it wasn't our defense that was being either threatened or tested. The issue was what justified the use of our offense?

As for what we do now, I don't know what principles you would apply, but mine have to take account of and responsibility for our national mistake of invading this country in the first place. My principles don't let me support arbitrary cutting and running leaving the place in chaos. I think Murtha has the right idea, but I think the timing of it has to be conditional on the actual level of chaos. I sure don't like it, but that's what happens when you blow it, and we all have to take responsibility for blowing it, even those of us who didn't want to blow it.

What principles would you apply now?

Posted by: Cayambe | February 3, 2006 02:21 AM

Boehner is one of those dumn Cincinnati German Catholics, like Marge Schotte. The GOP always goes back to its corrupt fascistic base.

Posted by: candide | February 3, 2006 06:21 AM

Mr. Ford: The reason Al Gore lost Tennessee can be summed up in two words: Donna Brazille. She was downright rude to long time Tennessee Democrats who attempted to help -- ranging from the former governor on down the line, and as a consequence a lot stayed home during the campaign instead of getting out the vote. When it comes to dealing rural white Southerners (of which there are quite a few in the Tennessee Democratic Party outside of Nashville and Memphis) she has some very big chips on her shoulders. Tennessee farmers tend to be Democrats, which is one reason the Bush Administration is willing to cut to cut cotton and other ag subsidies that barely make up for cost of the environmental, labor and safety regulations that burden US farmers and which third world farmers do not face.

Posted by: MikeDeal | February 3, 2006 09:30 AM

"..this war will NOT end when.."

Whatever makes you think this "war" will EVER end..? There's a whole lot of people out there that need killing, right? How much in treasure and $$ will that take do you think? How many manned missions to mars will be postponed? How many cancer cures? Rumsfeld is now talking about WOT as a generational war.. gee, I didn't see THAT coming a mile away!

Nothing good comes from extravagent military expenditures - that's pouring money down a rat hole.

Terrorism was not invented on 9-11, a political war was and "we" haven't woken up yet.

Do these multi-billion supplementals get included in the budget numbers thrown around on the hill?? How much of a negative impact would they have on the "overall economy" if they were?

Posted by: gonzo | February 3, 2006 09:37 AM

Being a very rare East Tennessee Democrat, I have to agree with the following quote. I voted for Gore, but there is no excuse in losing your home state. If he had won Tennessee, bush would not be in office today.

Tennessee in the buckle of the bible belt and the Christian Religious Right hammered Al gore in this east end of the state almost to the point of promising a free ticket to heaven if you voted republican.

"Mr. Ford: The reason Al Gore lost Tennessee can be summed up in two words: Donna Brazille. She was downright rude to long time Tennessee Democrats who attempted to help -- ranging from the former governor on down the line, and as a consequence a lot stayed home during the campaign instead of getting out the vote. When it comes to dealing rural white Southerners (of which there are quite a few in the Tennessee Democratic Party outside of Nashville and Memphis) she has some very big chips on her shoulders. Tennessee farmers tend to be Democrats, which is one reason the Bush Administration is willing to cut to cut cotton and other ag subsidies that barely make up for cost of the environmental, labor and safety regulations that burden US farmers and which third world farmers do not face."

Posted by: DC | February 3, 2006 10:09 AM

Just a thought:

I was sitting here thinking why Bush is all of a sudden looking more like a democrat, talking more about investing in research and so forth and less of the usual republican rhetoric. Also, why his SOTU speech was so dry. And then it hit me. He's under seige.

He knows that the Senate is about to hold hearings on the illegal wiretapping. He knows he broke the law. He knows he can be impeached and convicted. He knows that he's safe with a republican Congress but that will change if he does not keep it republican in November. In other words, the man is really scared. He must now keep the Congress republican or get impeached. So, he's dropped SS and other things that make people mad and is working to make people happy before November.


Posted by: | February 3, 2006 10:13 AM

Gonzo, it will take a long time, lots and lots of money, and many advancements will be postponed while carrying out this confict. Confused Englishman did not state it correctly. It is not all Muslims, but all active Muslim extremists that must be killed. We must send them to their Muslim hell and in great quantities and for a long period of time.

Sooner or later, Muslim extremist survivors will give up, stop blabering hate-America trash talk, and get on with their lives. Maybe even go to the moon and Mars with us (unfortunately, not in my lifetime).

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 3, 2006 10:14 AM

....and you would have to you live in White Right Wing Conservative Christian dominated place like East Tennessee to fully understand how the republican party and religious right are one in the same....how and why the separation of church and state is eroding. And I fully understand how terrorist groups persuade people to commit suicide bombings as a way to go to heaven. Most, but not all, preachers and ministers indirectly in subtle and not so subtle ways convince their congregations to vote republican, because doing so will make you a better Christian.

Posted by: DC | February 3, 2006 10:18 AM

Terrorism was not invented on 9-11, a political war was and "we" haven't woken up yet.
Posted by: gonzo | Feb 3, 2006 9:37:24 AM

Exactly. Now the military is trying to call the War On Terror "The Long War". Apparently, our military leaders are too busy coining new phrases and protesting cartoons to wage an effective campaign against terror.

Posted by: ErrinF | February 3, 2006 10:23 AM

Oh, my next they will be burning books "Johnny Got His Gun".

We don't want our fair-haired youth or their parents to have a clue about what war is all about.

I'm gonna make an offer: I will enlist in the Army to serve in Iraq as grunt if Chris Ford, George W. Bush, Rummy and Cheney all agree to be my squad members.

What say guys? Ready to go to war with a Lefty.

Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 3, 2006 10:50 AM

Speaking of protesting cartoons, why hasn't the WAPO expressed its solidarity with the european press and printed those "horrible" cartoons of Mohammed that have so infuriated the Mohammedans? Not that it takes alot to piss them off. Which is fine, except that they have this annoying tendency to self-detonate on occasion.

Posted by: | February 3, 2006 10:51 AM

Book Report: "Johnny Got His Gun"

Johnny goes to serve in world war I and gets all his limbs as well as his face blown off, and survives, but is trapped in his body.

The story is told in the first person from the view of Johnny.


Posted by: Impeach Bush | February 3, 2006 10:55 AM

Johnnyg states,
"It is not all Muslims, but all active Muslim extremists that must be killed." The problem with this thinking under the current line of policy in the ME, is that a good deal of Muslims are being pushed to the extremist side as a result of American/Foreign Action. Some allies are made, but these allies have been made before (See: Afghanistan, Iraq) only to have become enemies once more. What makes terrorists in the ME is our way of life. This includes not only our current conflcits there, but how we live, our religion, and corporate policies towards the world. No non-ending 'war' will stop this.

A large problem with American thinking currently is the assumption that this terror is something new. It has been around since before anyone can remember and it will be around for the rest of our lives. There will most likely ALWAYS be someone that wants someone else, somwhere in the world, dead (Remember the terrorist group caught in Texas a couple years back that was pro-white and collecting anthrax?).

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 10:59 AM

Kill a Muslim! Save America!

Posted by: candide | February 3, 2006 11:05 AM

Johnny Got His Gun is an excellent book, though Dalton Trumbo was basically blacklisted after it was published. The excellent Metallica song "One" was based on the book.

D. Conservative metalhead.

Posted by: D. | February 3, 2006 11:06 AM

The problem with Bush is the very same as the problem with modern neoconservatives in general--they are excellent and canny in their political arts and know just the precise tactics to use on an unsophisticated electorate. They know how to push all of the appropriate hot buttons to distract this present, dumbed down electorate when an election is just around the corner. In short, they know how to win.

The problem is that they do not have even the most basic intellectual components necessary for effective governance. They do not know how to compromise, how to achieve a reasonable middle ground that leaves everyone with a reasonably felicitous state of mind. So, they end up attempting to govern in the same manner as they campaign. They inevitably produce results that are unworkable, unpopular, and leave everyone--including our dumbed down electorate--unhappy, anxious and worried over the future. They end up invariably pushing upon the people unpopular policies based on the extreme moral principles of a handful of oddball zealots.

That is why they cannot understand why the people are not more happy about outcomes. For example, they boast proudly of the low unemployment numbers without give even the slightest thought that the people who are getting jobs today are receiving incomes barely above the poverty level. They use the DOW as a bar for economic success without even the barest recogntion that the DOW only tells us how profitable blue cip companies are doing and how wealthy investors are faring.

The sad part of all of this for the rest of us is that as long as they continue to win elections, the worse things will get and the farther America will fall on the truly meaningful measure of what make a nation great.

Posted by: Jaxas | February 3, 2006 11:13 AM

Sure it will Freedom. It just takes the balls to see it through, to further marginalize these types by waring with nations that subsidize and tolerate their activities, and at the same time encourage modern democratic governments.

You can say our approach has been a disaster when looking at this through a narrow window, but I disagree. As time passes, changes will slowly begin take hold and then accelerate after a critical mass is reached.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 3, 2006 11:15 AM

I agree with freedom, terrorism is nothing new. Our founding fathers were terrorists to Great Britain, terrorism occurred during the American Civil War (Kansas and Missouri were very hard hit). Terrorism used to be called guerrilla warfare, but has now been politicized and re-named "Terrorism". Every time GWB gets in trouble or drops in the poles he begins screaming WAR on Terror!!!

Most of today's terrorist's are right wingers, I wonder why GWB never uses the term "CONSERVATIVE Islamic States" or "CONSERVATIVE Islamic World Empire". Hmmmm, can't make those fellow conservatives look bad.

Posted by: DC | February 3, 2006 11:25 AM

Cayambe said: "What principles would you apply now?"

This is in response to your entire post.

There is a political reality in America that the party willing to take the softer stance (perhaps reasonably) will be painted as the party soft on security. Perhaps this is unfair.

I am not so cynical that I think this country hates gays and poor people enough to vote Republican. The reality is, this is a Conservative country right now. There is a conservative judiciary appointed by a conservative President confirmed by a conservative Congress.

I did not mean to sound so cavalier about the war in Iraq. Perhaps my "cutting and running" bit was inappropriate.

The principled stance of 2002 would have been to argue whether or not Iraq represented "our" defense. That opportunity has passed. As you said we have a responsibility in Iraq that includes finishing the job without incurring civil war and chaos.

Now, as we've seen with Murtha and others, anyone who screams for withdrawal (which is *not* what I've done by the way) is painted as an anti-patriot and represents the soft*er* on defense candidate. The democratic party recognizes this and that is why they refuse to take a party line on the matter.

There is another matter, however. If we have a responsibility to Iraqis we have an equal responsibility to Americans. There is something disgustingly hypocritical about entering a country to spread democracy and leaving the check for that war on others who had no chance to dissent to that war democratically: Our granchildren.

Iraq and Afghanistan are the first two wars that Americans have paid nothing for. In fact, the administration has rewarded our war-apathy with cuts in taxes. This is a dangerous lesson for a democratic public: If you encourage your elected officials to engage in war, not only will we not make you pay for it, we will make you pay less.

This is all ignoring the moral conundrum with borrowing money from unborn children to fight in Iraq today. Again, my position is not solely that we need to cut and run from Iraq, it's that if we want to spend 50 billion dollars a year on wars then we better damn well pay for it.

And frankly soldiers deserve better as well. While they struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan they cannot look home to Victory Gardens or patriotic rationing. It is a free loading country that pays their checks with borrowed money, with no intention of ever paying that money back (afterall, we only plan on REDUCING the deficit).

A numbness to the horrors of war, of which Iraq is short of, is dangerous. Why should anyone challenge claims of WMDs? It won't cost us anything?

Because the Republican party is so absurdly married to tax cuts, they will not take the principled position that wars must be paid for. This represents an excellent opportunity for democrats to a) set the dialogue on defense and b) actually do the *right* thing. Because make no mistake, constant deficits is as dangerous as it is immoral. Last year the interest on the national debt jumped by 24 billion dollars, the most substantial increase since 1994.

184 billion dollars this government pays for nothing. The interest on the national debt is not a social service. 184 billion dollars could pay for the war in Iraq for over 2 years. 184 billion dollars is enough to give every American over 600 dollars. 184 billion dollars is more than we spent on Medicaid last year.

How much should a war in Iraq cost an American taxpayer? Well...

In 2005 the Department of Defense paid around 83 billion for the war in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq, and the War at home (spying). 85% of that went to Iraq, 13% went to Afghanistan, and 2% went towards Operation Noble Eagle (antiterrorism at home, I wonder if this involves the NSA?).

So let's say: Americans, you've had a pretty good deal. We aren't going to charge you for 2002, 2003, or 2004, but we are going to bill you for 2005. Your war with Afghanistan and Iraq costs, for a nice round number, 80 billion dollars last year.

If we wanted to fund the war via Income Taxes, which seems reasonable because it is the largest revenue generator for the federal government, we'd have to increase income tax revenues 8.6 percent to generate 80 billion dollars. Seems fair, everyone in America pays 8.6 percent more in taxes. That does not mean that people who pay 10% pay 18.6%, it means if you pay 10%, you pay 10.86%. If you pay 30%, you pay 32.58%, etc. Tell me if this proposal is unreasonable.

I guess I better stop now before I lose my audience (which I likely already have or never had in the first place). I think wars should be paid for by the countries that start them. We have not paid for our war yet.

Posted by: Will | February 3, 2006 11:39 AM

Johhnyg states:
"Sure it will Freedom. It just takes the balls to see it through, to further marginalize these types by waring with nations that subsidize and tolerate their activities, and at the same time encourage modern democratic governments"

I disagree Johnny. Terrorism is something the human race has always tried to deal with, and always failed. Through out history, Terrorism has never been confined to one type of population. Fawkes, McVeigh, and Osama (first three I thought of off the top of my head, for no reason, but the list goes on) were/are all very different people, with different ideals, thoughts, and motivations.

To be fair, Terrorism is also in the eye of the beholder. What do you think our founding fathers were called by the british after the Boston Tea Party?

My main point is, these people will most likely never be fully marginalized to a point where they become ineffective. A small group of discontents, properly motivated, will manage to cause terror. At the moment, no one can say with authority what the results on terror will be after/if we finish with Iraq or Afghanistan. But just as people can say suggest there has been progress, people can suggest there has been a rise in discontents.

And what about terrorists without a nation backing them? Terrorist acts by the KKK? Radical militias? Crazy people living in shacks mailing bombs? Online hackers that steal/destroy personal information/ property? How do we deal with these? Osama gave the administration a good 'out' by providing a people to direct our fear/anger at, in regards to terrorist activity. We cannot forget, however, that there are other types of terrorists.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 12:16 PM

The problem with the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration is that, at best, they have forgotten that deficits do matter. The budget deficit enables the trade deficit because it facilitates the ability of Asian central banks to maintain a favorable exchange rate, i.e., it gives them a painless way to keep the dollar articially high, thereby keeping not only their product prices low relative to the dollar, but also their input prices. Wages aren't the only input that are therefore lower: The chief of logistics of a major contract electronic manufacturer told me that wages comprise only about 10% of product cost, and that North American labor productivity made up for low wages. The reason they were expanding in Asia was the relative low price of other inputs, such as construction and land acquisition. Reading between the lines, I also sensed that the bureaucratic hassle, which on paper is far worse in places like China, could be cheaply dispensed with by the payment of well-placed bribes. (Any future administration that actually wanted to stop offshoring could probably make a significant dent just by enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

The price effect of currency manipulation is so much more powerful than tariffs that free trade agreements, or even the preferential rates for developing countries, hardly even matter.

There is also a chain reaction effect: As a result of the trade deficit, we have a higher budget deficit because of lower wages and therefore lower tax revenues and the greater call on entitlement programs by the un- and underemployed.

In fact, one gets the uneasy, creeping feeling that the Republican leadership actually does understand this, and that they want to use foreign competition, as well as illegal immigration, to pressure wages further down. Which explains in part why they need to use social issues like abortion to get middle class Americans to vote for the party that consistently works against their economic interest.

Just look at the "Beige Books" from 2000: Greenspan et al kept interest rates high to combat not inflation in general, but specifically wage inflation. The Republican leadership simply doesn't want more people making more money. Why? No rational reason other than they want a stratified class system in which they are on top and labor is comfortably on the bottom, well under their heel. But then rationality doesn't figure into class warfare, any more than it figured in Jim Crow laws. The true class warfare being waged is by "conservative" Republicans via means far more subtle than graduated income tax rates.

Posted by: MikeDeal | February 3, 2006 12:36 PM

Freedom, if domestic terrorists are US citizens, they should be tried, and then shot if found guiltly. However, many of the examples you point out are lone wolf types, and those who are not, like the KKK, are watched closely. Furthermore, the KKK is much more marginalized than it was when I was a child and continues in that direction. We too are still evolving.

These groups and individuals are not the same as modern Muslim terrorism. Imagine the KKK supported by several countries and funded by groups of foreign nationals. If the KKK were as well funded as al Qaeda, we certainly would be pursuing their lot with great vigor.

Sorry about any typos ... got to get back to work.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 3, 2006 12:43 PM

Freedon wrote:
"To be fair, Terrorism is also in the eye of the beholder. What do you think our founding fathers were called by the british after the Boston Tea Party?"

I disagree Freedom. I define a terrorist as one who uses terror in the form of killing innocents to terrorize the population into forcing their government into an action the terrorists favor. The Boston Tea Party killed no one and should be called vandalism, though it was used to make a political point. The KKK however killed innocents as did Hamas, al Qaida, the IRA, etc. Terrorism is not what America was formed from. But you are right that as long as people have the abilities, terrorist will always be with us.

Posted by: Sully | February 3, 2006 12:50 PM

MikeDeal, well written!

Posted by: Sully | February 3, 2006 12:54 PM

We won the cold war by out spending the Soviet Union and essentially bankrupted their country. Considering economics as a battlefield and knowing what we are spending in the ME, we are pathetically losing in the ME. It has crippled our response to Katrina; it's causing cuts to the elderly and so on. So if you want a reason to cut and run, just look at the simple economics of it.

To this point, no matter who you are, saying to stay till victory is won in Iraq is stupid. Not to mention the human sacrifice. Somebody, anybody tell what victory is..... Defeating Sadams army, Finding WMD's, Free elections and ????? Osama is beyond any doubt under the present circumstances defeating the greatest country on earth economically. Is Osama's next attempt to kill American citizens at home by making us spend all our money fighting a ghost war in the ME, so we can't care for our elderly at home?

Posted by: John | February 3, 2006 01:15 PM

I disagree with your assessment of terrorism. A quick look at dictionary.com lists the definition as, "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." I would argue that the Boston Tea Party could be seen as a very frightening action by a group of people to achieve political goals. The very reason behind the Boston Party would depict it is as terrorism. It was not done simply for the sake of destruction or out of anger as the term vandalism would suggest. It was done to achieve a certain goal and send a message to the British. It is the same reason why 9/11 is not simply reduced to an act of murder. While murder was involved, the goals/intent behind it define it as terrorism.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 01:18 PM

I second that: MikeDeal and Will!

Will, your proposal sounds reasonable. All the current talk about healthcare and consumer costs; maybe changing the footing a bit on the war front might make the rhetoric game a bit less important.

Posted by: gonzo | February 3, 2006 01:19 PM

Thank you for your assessment. That's a very interesting concept, and one that I've never considered. It's rather scary when you think of what would happen to America if they could no longer borrow money, or if their debts were called upon.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 01:20 PM

Dear John,
If you won the Cold War, why are you still playing? Bush walked out of just about every treaty or agreement on limiting (US) nuclear escalation years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And is still developing - at massive cost to you tax payers.
MAD rules, and now Putin's going MAD as well (just wait for China, India, Pakistan...)

Posted by: Confused Engilshman | February 3, 2006 02:05 PM

"Somebody, anybody tell what victory is....."
John, victory is the situation as it will be when we finally bug out of Iraq.

Are we agreed then, that we will each of us support some form of Constitutional amendment which binds the Congress to balance the budget? Perhaps requiring a super majority for expenditures in excess of revenues? Or perhaps requiring a rolling 5 year balance?

Will, I expect Rep. Murtha to survive just fine. If he doesn't, I will be ashamed of his constituents.

Posted by: Cayambe | February 3, 2006 02:17 PM

Dear Confused Engilshman,

I agree with you. We are still emtionally governed creatures of this planet, who, as whole, are no where near our technological development, including the brits.

I know this is way off the subject of this comment section. But worldwide over population used to be an issue in the 60's and 70's. But the major religions of the world watered that down. But dwindling natural resources and world population increase are going to create a disaster in the near future.

Posted by: John | February 3, 2006 02:39 PM

johnnyg wrote: Sooner or later, Muslim extremist survivors will give up, stop blabering hate-America trash talk, and get on with their lives

I'd really like to believe that. I really would. But I can't.

Because man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and we are losing the PR war there big time.

We have a shaky history in these countries to begin with. We have supported, and are still supporting, repressive regimes to defend our oil interests. Al-Jazeera is outlawed in our friend Jordan for being too "liberal". Let's see what happens to people who stand in a public square in Jordan or Saudi Arabia and call the king a fink. When you have a history like that and you're miserably losing the PR war its not that hard for ME citizens to believe we think of them as barely tolerable obstacles living above our oil fields.

Then our President stupidly uses the word "Crusade". Then we start invading. Of course Americans see ourselves as "protecting our interests/security". What they saw was that we killed twice as many innocent Iraqis in the initial invasion of Baghdad as innocent Americans who died on 9-11. Its all a matter of perspective, isn't it.

Our smart bombs are C students. Every hospital or school or innocent family that gets blown up by American bombs forms their persepctive. Every person who sees themselves called "islamoids" and sees incitement to put them "in their place" forms the perspective. The heavier our fist gets, the more the people think they need protection from US, not from Osama.

Like the star wars line - "the tighter you squeeze your fist the more star systems will slip between your fingers" - I fear our grip will just make an endless supply of American hating "patriotic" terrorists.

Our best solution, really, is to no longer have any oil interests in the region. The NRDC says if passenger cars got 40 mpg we would need to import almost no oil from the ME. Toyota is coming out with a Sienna minivan in 2007 rated for 40 mpg. Detroit needs the kind of revival that making it patriotic to switch to a hybrid would bring. Hell, for a fraction of the 440 billion we're now spending on the war we could have just bought Toyota's patent on their hybrid battery since our scientists are too busy learning that science is intelligent design to intelligently design a decent hybrid.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 3, 2006 02:51 PM


Lets say the US continues on its current path and becomes a legal dictatorship - you know, the Bill of Rights "temporarily suspended" until the US is safe from all enemies, a tightly controlled lockstep Congress adding "court stripping" provisions to legislation until the current "liberals" die off, etc).

Canada and the Brits invade us to "save" us from our government, and to protect themselves because our WMD are now in the hands of a government they no longer trust not to engage in first strike war.

Who you gonna fight, the US army or the Canadians/Brits?

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 3, 2006 03:18 PM

Cayambe- I will respond in reverse.

Regarding Murtha: I certainly hope you are right. I do not think any individual Democrat is soft on defense, nor do I think Murtha is. But Americans as a whole have reached the conclusion that Democrats are soft on security and it has tempered the way they vote in national elections.

I do not think this is necessary. There is a principled position on security that doesn't involve starting wars 2+ times a decade. I stipulate that one reason Americans are so willing to engage in war is because it is, in the 21st century, essentially costless.

I do not demean the 2000 dead soldiers in any way with that comment. I mean as a society, Americans have incurred no costs for this war. It is paid for on borrowed money from our children and grandchildren. Americans would have a more realistic understanding of the consequences of war if they were actually forced to pay for the ones they tacitly support.

Regarding Constitutional Amendment: I'm certainly not against the idea. I worry about the pros and cons and also that I don't know enough about it to evaluate it. How would it be enforced? Would the Supreme Court deem an appropriations deficit "unconstitutional"? And then what?

I see other obstacles that you address with your caveats. Certainly deficit spending is necessary sometimes, like if a military force invaded the United States swift action would be more important than ensuring the future financing of that action. A super majority seems to protect vital interests from budget handcuffing.

Explain what you mean by the 5 year rolling balance. Does that mean you can run deficits within 5 years but overall you must be balanced for any particular 5 year period?

Constitutional Amendments that affect Congressional salaries seem to be "in vogue" (as far as Constitutional Amendments go I guess). I say the quickest way to get rid of Budget Deficits is to get an amendment out there that docks Congressional Salaries 10% each year our elected officials fail to balance the budget (or generate a surplus). Any takers?

But seriously, right now this nation lacks any honest level of comprehension over the current budget crisis. Over 180 billion dollars just up and disappeared last year alone because of the national debt. That's criminal. Why should we ever take seriously the "costs" that politicians invoke (Democrats for the war and tax cuts, Republicans for social spending) when we don't even know how much those programs cost? Currently neither party spends any political capital in viciously bankrupting our grandchildren.

Americans cannot have a frank discussion about the value of this program vs that program, of war in Iraq vs social security vs farm subsidies vs Homeland Security vs food stamps, unless we actually pay for them all. But currently we don't even understand the costs of these programs because we just borrow the money from people currently uninvolved in the political discussion.

I'm ranting now, I'll shut up.

Posted by: Will | February 3, 2006 03:32 PM

I think the question the Democrats need to ask America is whether they can trust Republicans to start and manage wars in the future. I mean, if we are attacked, can the Republicans be trusted to attack the right country, provide the material and coordination to put our troops on the ground in the best position and with the best material (like armour) possible?

Really, the republicans are only tough on defense because they rattle sabres instead of using diplomacy along side allies and vote for large military appropriations to appease their large corporate donors. They may seem tough, but the guy who used to start all the fights in school over the littlest things was called a stupid bully.

Maybe the republicans should be called "stupid on defense". I don't think it would take much to make it stick.

Posted by: Sully | February 3, 2006 04:04 PM

patriot1957 - I'm curious as to your rationale here, are you suggesting that if we disinvest ourselves of our reliance on ME oil (alternative fuels, hybrid cars, etc.) and disengage from the ME that the problem of terrorism, or more specifically, a particularly virulent strain of Islam that employs terrorism to spread its ideology, will disappear? Isolationism has a long and well-entrenched history in this country so I understand its appeal but I don't think it'll solve the problem.

It is interesting however how the appeal of isolationism has moved from the right side (well, there's still the Pat buchanan types) to the left side of the political spectrum.

Posted by: D. | February 3, 2006 04:14 PM

patriot1957 wrote:
"Who you gonna fight, the US army or the Canadians/Brits?"

I'll be in Aruba waiting out the war.... :^)

Posted by: Sully | February 3, 2006 04:15 PM

Helping Greta van Sustern search for Natalie Halloway, 'natch.

Posted by: D. | February 3, 2006 04:24 PM

Dear Emily,
How `bout a column on the cartoons that incited murderous rage? As a statement for unfettered freedom of the press some brave European papers printed the `toons. Our governmental response was to rebuke the action taken by these periodicals. Most of our media has given the story play but not shown the cartoons out of "respect" for Islam. Are we being unusually respectful or just remarkably fearful?

Posted by: bender | February 3, 2006 04:43 PM


Actually D. I think patriot's position is probably more nuanced than that. One of the advantages (that you ignore) of less dependence on foreign oil is that we have a bargaining chip with those governments. Currently it is kind of a "We need you more than you need us" deal with them, and middle eastern countries engage with the United States positively at their own political risk, which encourages them to rebuff us frequently and fan the populace's anger and hate for America while still dealing in oil with us.

Also, the United States would have no interest in "democratizing" an area for which it has no need. Why does the United States virtually ignore civil unrest in Sudan but not in the Middle East?

I don't think patriot was suggesting that radical islam is caused by oil. The cause of United States hatred from Radical Islam is United States foreign policy, and the cause of United States foreign policy in that region is a dependence on oil. So, going backwards, no oil dependence means no vested interest in Middle East stability means no aggressive foreign policy there means no deep seated hatred for the United States.

You could be making the now tired claim that "They attack us for our freedoms/western excess/etc." or some other trite bit. But to paraphrase Osama Bin Ladin: If I attacked you because of your freedoms, why wouldn't I have just gone after Sweden? (or Canada or Luxemberg or Japan)

I really do think that a reduced dependency on oil would make us a lot safer from terrorists. Your President seems to agree. Don't you?

If not you are probably just jonesing, you oil-addict.

Posted by: Will | February 3, 2006 04:51 PM

Posted by: | February 3, 2006 04:54 PM

I think we're being remarkably sensible. First off, with our current deployments in the ME, causing the locals to see us as mocking their religion probably wouldn't work to our benefit. Sure we're seen as infidels and we follow other religions, but we've so far managed to keep our enemies angry at us for mostly physical, non-spiritual things. This probably works in our favor.

Second, why bother? Sure, freedom of speech is something we and many others enjoy, but that doesn't mean everyone does. Now, I'm not saying they have a right to regulate what we say or do, or that threatening those that post the cartoons is appropriate. But if you know that posting something about the muslim faith angered a great many people from a region known to be very religious and fanatical, does it really make sense to do it again? There's a difference between making a point and sticking by what you said/printed and saying it again to piss people off. In my opinion, it was done both to sensationalize it and gain PR.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 04:56 PM

I appreciate your considered response. I agree, our govt`s "respect" for Isalm is pragmatic. We fear inciting anyone to violence that we haven`t offended already.

Why bother to print them? To demonstrate that freedom of the press will not be squashed by a potentially violent response from zealots. To show the absurdity of a group that will kill over a cartoon but remain reticent about suicide bombings. To let those enjoying life in Western society know that we will not be censored.

Posted by: bender | February 3, 2006 05:20 PM

I guess that after your response I can see why to bother, though I feel that the same could be achieved by simply stating that they stood by their right to originally print them. To reprint them seems to be both callous towards the groups feelings and beliefs, as well as a display of contempt towards the group. Its one thing to stick by your beliefs and an entirely different one to do something that seems largely to anger a populace.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 05:25 PM

I agree with bender. The cartoons are harmless and the reaction by the Islamic world highlights the fanaticism of many groups. People should die over a cartoon?

This is an equal nutsflexing from both sides. The muslim world is saying that freedom of speech is secondary to the ridiculous umbrage they take from a cartoon. The west responds in kind: Our freedom to express ourselves in even the most vitriolic ways is more important than *any* religious culture.

How do you think the Islamic world would have reacted if Americans started kidnapping muslims in the United States and threatening to kill people because some Pakistani burned an American flag on TV?

Free speech is free speech. F any religion that tries to infringe on that. I hold Christian fanatics to the same standard.

Posted by: Will | February 3, 2006 05:28 PM


I'm not talking about being isolationist. I 'm talking about dealing with the ME from a position of strength, the kind of strength that comes from the power of the purse, not the power of "shock and awe". As we have seen, a few David's with "light and run" IED's can tie up Goliath's "shock and awe" in knots for years.

Why were Americans such an inviting target for "displacement biting", that is repressive regimes subtly encouraging this fundamentalist anti-American sentiment to take hold? Because we needed their oil and they needed a scapegoat. We could change the equation considerably by not needing their oil so desperately any more. We would have the power to pick and choose who we import from, rather than having to put boots on the ground in foreign countries to defend our supply. They have someting to sell, we can decide if we like the terms enough to buy it or not.

If our oil orders started declining, I think we'd see a change in attitude from "we'll let our people teach anti-Americanism in our schools if it takes the heat off us" to "be nice to the customer or they'll shop somewhere else". It would be a lot harder for the fundamentalists to convince the people they're really freedom fighters not terrorists when America pulls their boots off the ground.. And we're talking about buying a little less every year, not some crazy "cut and run" strategy that would destabillize the region further.

I fully expect Saudi Arabia would do whatever it took to win us back as a customer. Drop prices, teach the kids to be nice to the customers, stop funding terrorists under the table. The end result of this strategy is that we probably would do whatever is cheaper. If its cheaper to import oil from the ME than the alternative, we might very well go back to buying from them again. But its OUR decision. If we are buying because its more convenient, not because our entire economy will collapse if we don't, then WE hold the POWER of the purse.

It would take so pitifully little effort on our part to no longer need ME oil. In 2003 we imported 2.4 million barrels a day from the ME. If average passenger car mileage was 40 mpg we'd save 2 million barrels a day. Now that the technology to make big cars and minivans get that kind of mileage is here, and now that Detroit desperately needs to make a new product that people would buy, what would be stopping us? Mostly, a president whose fortune depends on keeping up those imports even at the expense of national security.

If we recycled HALF the paper and plastic we put in our landfills each year we'd save another 2 million barrels a day. Recycling just 12% of it would take us over the top wrt no longer needing ME oil. The rest is gravy - we can start deciding how much we want to buy from Venezuala next. The power of the purse. Asking municipalities and businesses to add a recycling bin next to the trash for the sake of national security is a lot less of a sacrifice than sending our kids off to war or trashing our civil rights. California alone puts one BILLION water bottles in the landfill every year. That's one shitload of oil that it took to make those bottles that could be saved if the trash can the sandwich wrapper went in had a recycle bin for the water bottle next to it.

Yes, they're pissed about Israel. But the PLO and Hamas and Hezbollah weren't targeting the WTC. So why were the Iranians and Saudis and Jordanians? Our desperate need for their oil provided the warmth and nutriton to incubate the petri dish of injustice in the ME. It would take us so pitifully little to no longer be desperate for their oil. Let China and India incubate the petri dish, we can now pick and choose who we wish to buy from.

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 3, 2006 05:31 PM

Will, your response to D came up while mine was in process. You said it better than me! Thanks

Posted by: patriot1957 | February 3, 2006 05:34 PM

I agree that papers had a right to print them and that the world population should not be subject towards a religion's beliefs (See: US policy of late). But to reprint them again because muslims have expressed disapproval screams to me of ignorance and chidlish behaviour. I equate it to poking a beehive. If/when violence occurs because of the French reprinting, I will have to supress laughter when I hear complaints and people acting as victims. Not because I think violence is right or because I feel that people have a right to regulate free speech across the world, but because I will honestly wonder what these people thought would happen?

By all means, stick by what you said and by your right to have said it. But when someone complains, the best course of action isn't to go out and say it again to spite them.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 05:36 PM

I don`t doubt that reprinting the cartoons was a deliberate poke in the eye to folks who would bully free press. That was the editors` intent...you`re right. But I think taking that idea a bit further, this bully needs his lip busted repeatedly and collectively by all us good-natured kids who like to say what we think...until he understands or goes away.

We`re in serious trouble if Christians start exploding. I`ve seen polls reporting up to 70 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian.

Posted by: bender | February 3, 2006 05:46 PM

I see your point. There is a world of difference between individual speech freedoms and calculated political moves (the former is engaged in by individuals, the latter by countries).

But wasn't it newspapers that printed them in protest of the Islamic reaction and not countries? Don't countries have more of a responsibility to "stand by their man" (IE the papers) than they do to angry foreigners? I'm disgusted that the Danes would even consider any serious non-verbal response. A public statement saying "That cartoon was in poor taste (which it really isn't) but we support our newspaper's right to publish what they want. We do believe in, after all, freedom of speech."

The question is which message do you want to send and how loudly do you want to send it. If a country rolls over because the Muslim world says "WAAAAAAAH" then we condition their future response. If we say "lighten the eff up, our country our rules" than we condition their future response.

You might be right. Maybe a moderate response, like denouncing the cartoons, is the correct move. Maybe fanning the flames is the wrong move. I'd still take the wrong move because it is the principled one, in my opinion. My government should not sacrifice even an ounce of my freedoms because the Muslim world takes umbrage. They are unhinged by a cartoon. So what? Their (any religious person Christian, Muslim, Tweenkie Worshipper) religious pride does not trump my freedom. Period.

But there is something said for not inciting... meh, it's a trade off.

Posted by: Will | February 3, 2006 05:54 PM

I still maintain it was a foolish, silly thing to do. I agree that its a good idea to state that you stand by what you printed and will continue to print what you want. But to reprint it simply to annoy or frustrate a group of people is something I find to be inane and undeserving of respect or applause.
On a side note, do you think the people are right in protesting Denmark/Denmark goods?

On yet another side note, I don't think you have too much to worry from the people that identify as christian. A good portion of our population identifies as christian but does not practice, myself included.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 05:58 PM

Please don't get me wrong. Perhaps I've miscontrued what I feel.

While I wouldn't try to fan the flames as various papers in different countries have done, I would stand by the cartoons and the paper's right to print them. The only thing I would apologize for, if anything, was that they find it offensive and feel they must harbor ill will to a country whose people are excercising their own rights. I would stick by the right to say it until my death, however; Allah, God, Buddah, or whatever else you want be damned.

Posted by: Freedom | February 3, 2006 06:04 PM

that's all well and good if you're actually affluent enough to be spend money on investments and have enough time to benefit from looking over what is happening....most people don't.

they go to work and then come home and go towork....

the economic intervention being called a "war" benefits one class of people...

the cowboy rhetoric about terrorism from people who never even got into a playground fight is appalling....like little puny guys wearing "biker" clothes or looking at what "bikers" are, the emotionally challenged looking to look dangerous...I've known a few....and they're mostly people looking to fit in...I suggest that your posturing as being tough makes you look like your underpants are on too tight....I'd conjecture that your manhood is more lacking by your attempts to puff yourselves up....

what could be done to make everyones life easier is to address what isn't working at home, for example prisons....

BIG GUNS are inarguably sexy, but who in current times is any thing close to what we have as military hardware....

everyone in the military knows that what is visible is only a portion of what we actually use....planes that do mach 8, spy satellites that can tell you what time it is in lisbon by reading someones wristwatch...but can't see saddam escape with three tractor trailers loaded with cash....where did the museum pieces go?

all that aside, who can compete with us?

aren't you tub thumpers really like software geeks that want the latest hardware and software, not because you need it but because it excites you?

is it all necessary?

shouldn't we be making peace at home by emptying our prisons by making intervention a part of life before the "criminal" becomes an adult?

is it so odd that people that grow up in hellish environments are not people that socialize well?

shouldn't we be doing some serious engineering work to reduce our workload at home by not breeding criminals?

I've worked in schools which served the marginalized....these kids are smart, and because of their mores, and opportunities they are tomorrow's criminals...

they thought I was foreign because I used business english with them....they'd never heard it....thought I was weird and cool..

just a thought, people are either resources or a threat depending upon their environments....and I don't mean throwing money at them....you just get a more wealthy, socially challenged individual...

I mean intervention....at several levels...in grade school and being implemented as a phased in program....following the child into middle school and high school....with minor implementations going in place in parallel...eventually eradicating mostof the problem within 2.5 generations....

try walking around portland oregon at night....it's errily safe...

Posted by: regarding war, and controlling the world so that we can have a predictable economy.... | February 3, 2006 06:04 PM

I like the Pavlov`s conditioned response angle...wish I said that. And Freedom, I see your point on not deliberately pissing off crazy people.

Posted by: bender | February 3, 2006 06:06 PM

that require manufacturers that move to third world countries to use their slave laborers to...

1. meet the same standards there that they have to in the united states so that the osmotic membrane has a constant pressure on both sides while the disparity in income comes up to scale in the 3rd world while not decreasing in the united states?

2. that foreign produced products not reduce the quality of life in the united states for the citizens while the quality of life for the affluent increases exponentially....

3. that import duties of some sort get placed upon offshore manufactured us products so that our middle class blue collar workers don't all work at walmart or shop there, because that's all they can afford....

4. that people learn to think rather than respond to framing that presumes that the framing is the correct way of looking at all circumstances because they


not used

to thinking for


cribbing papers,

copying from encyclopaedias while

avoiding the original thought.....

Posted by: how about laws.... | February 3, 2006 06:17 PM

Freedom, I think there was more to the decision to reprint the cartoons than to simply "annoy and frustrate" the group. I think it was an attempt for some delineation on where tolerance for the intolerant ends. I find the act nobly notable because I see it as more than a childish taunt. The principled stand the editors made could be met with acts of very personal revenge. Their defiance helps everyone, including those who need to have their assimilation assisted.

Posted by: bender | February 3, 2006 06:23 PM

was stolen from the original christians....

and reinvented by the ROMAN catholic church....

conquering indigeneous populations while reseeding with the belief system that they had gawd on their side and that they would crucify you if you didn't agree....would tend to win over the indigenous....

microsoft buys up it's competitors as a way of dealing with the threat of someone outmanuevering them....

constantine, a roman emporer did the same thing when the counsel of nicea established what church doctrine would be and amended the bible to reflect that....

most of the gospels were composed 150 years after the death of the historical jesus....

nailing jesus to a cross would actually depict how romans would treat anyone that tried to stand against them, while seeming to acede...

giving yourself up, to the romans is what they taught....

which is pretty much what todays gawd using christians want you to do for the same historical and trained reasons....

power over, and threatening those that don't adhere to "church" their gawd using policy....I suggest you point out their roots....it's nice to call a beast a beast...

which reminds me, all indigenous religions became "evil" under this doctrine....the sumerians had a horned god baal, which is also remniscent of the "green man" mythology of celtic/drudic belief systems, mycenean, et al....your satan is non existent....paradise lost is the only reference to lucifer being satan....the others are reducing the mythologies of competing religions to being "evil" to the extent that practicing them was punishable by death...

fear not the christians because the mean one are not....they are abusive personalities hiding behind their shield of being divinely inspired just like the texan lady accused of killing her children because gawd told her too....

hamed was a general, and interpreted his dream in which Gabriel spoke to him as a general would....thus you have the jihad aspect of his "created" "inspired" faith...

he was a man interpreting his dream...


and he borrowed from judaic culture to create his story....what irony.

Posted by: christianity as a beginning principle.... | February 3, 2006 06:29 PM

muslim men for the most part really see women as inferior...it's what they are taught.....it's not an affectation or a way of dominanting....it's encultured.....

how do you address it?

you must address it's beginning, tribal roots....

quit using western belief systems to adress a cultural issue....

failure will be your bread...

Posted by: you need to actually understand the roots rather than tootle on... | February 3, 2006 06:35 PM

The Presidents request to wean America off of ME oil is a direct admission that the war in Iraq and his ME Foreign Policy are failures. The request is a direct statement we are there for oil. And the request is his way of requesting America to cut and run, to run when we don't need ME oil, not when have spread freedom or seeded democracy.

Posted by: John | February 3, 2006 09:22 PM

Of course we are there to protect our oil interests. How many troops have we sent to free the poor oppressed people of Burma or Rwanda? Or Cuba? We have a choice - we can depend on our "shock and awe" mighty war machine to protect our interests, continuing to watch our kids die while feeding the terrorist spewing machine, or plan B - we can tell them we don't need their stinking oil. Plan B would take so pathetically little effort on our part, asking new cars to be hybrids and tossing paper and plastic in the recycle bin instead of landfill.

I believed the mention was pure lip service to his most conservative base, who are starting to get the picture and squawk.

But I'm going to think about your proposal of the mention as the beginnings of an exit strategy. If you are right, we should expect to hear speeches in Detroit charging the auto industry with building hybrids as good as Japan, and Americans urged to be patriotic and buy them (maybe even some tax relief for those who do), and speeches in front of recycling plants urging us to demand less plastic packaging and put recycling bins next to the trash cans on the Mall, all for the sake of national security.

Changing the subject - Emily I think its time for a new topic. Lets talk about the 18 minute gap in the White House emails.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | February 3, 2006 10:45 PM

Will - After writing pretty intelligently on the deficit and how the Bushie plutocrats are working against the middle class, you go dumb with this gem!

"I don't think patriot was suggesting that radical islam is caused by oil. The cause of United States hatred from Radical Islam is United States foreign policy, and the cause of United States foreign policy in that region is a dependence on oil. So, going backwards, no oil dependence means no vested interest in Middle East stability means no aggressive foreign policy there means no deep seated hatred for the United States."

The Islamoids don't hate Americans for our "foreign policy" any more than for our oil dependency. They hate us because we are infidels that have the things they lack - and their self-evident inferiority despite a pious life doing as Allah commands drives Islamoids nuts. If it was America and only America...even add Israel to it...your theory would have more validity. But Islamoids kill who they can. In the 20th Century, they started with 700,000 Greeks, 350,000 Balkan Christians, and 1.2 million Christian Armenians. And continued on relentlessly. 5 million Hindis killed in India and East pakistan from 1947-1975, 1/3rd of the Christian East Timoran population butchered, 500,000 Chinese infidels killed in 1 year in Indonesia by Jihadis, 2 million Christian and animist Africans murdered by Islamoids in Sudan, 4 million elsewhere.

That has nothing to do with US policy, anymore than the Children of Beslan did, the fact that French suburbs burn, or that most rapes in Sweden are due to a very small minority of resident Muslims Sweden stupidly let in.

Hatred stems from being infidels. It is good and holy to be an infidel killer. Infidel women are sluts with no honor who may freely be raped, enslaved, and converted - while no infidel may touch a believing Muslim woman at the cost of his life and hers - even if she was raped.

It has nothing to do with America's foreign policy in search of oil or favoring Israel creating radical Islam. Radical Islam has existed for 1400 years and occasionally comes to power again and again to lead the so-called "Religion of Peace" to new lands and new conquests and the quick or slow elimination of conquered non-Muslims unless they embrace slavery or semi-slavery to the superior people of Islam (Dhimmitude).

If we eliminated all our dependency to ME oil tomorrow, the endless grievances of Islamoids would not change, nor their desire to kill and conquer infidels, nor their hatred in lands where they exist as an unassimilated minority. The best we can hope for is the majority of Muslims who are not true Islamoids will agree to a temporary truce to end their tacit support of infidel attackers on Jihad - until they think conditions and timing better favor a clamor for a new generation of Radical Islamists to rise again and pursue the final victory of Dar al-Islam over the Dar al-Harb.

If we eliminate the 3.2 Quads of oil energy we get from the ME by pursuing technologically and financially ill-educated Lefties dreams of "no-SUVs" PLUS all but eliminate our allowance of immigration - since all our increase in demand is from population growth (since we use less per capita than in 1970, but have 80 million additional people) it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. Because Rising China and emergent India will need that 3.2 Quad shifted to them ASAP. KSA and other oil producers will sell every drop they care to produce. At or near at today's prices.

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 3, 2006 11:21 PM

our oil.....

you're not in the equation bozo....

you don't rate....

aristotle onassis.....why did jackie kennedy marry him, 'cause he was a nice guy?

"our" oil interests.....you're not in the game.....take your pretensions some where else....

you're only a simple citizen.....walmart is what you get....

if you're not in the multiple billions class....you're a pawn....

and you play your part well....talk about what you know...

what you've "read"...

experience is not a big part of poseurism.

pity the stray "original thought" challenges you so...

Posted by: you're rather presumptious..... | February 3, 2006 11:25 PM

you're the one with the tighty whitey's....

arrogance as a ploy, hiding inadequacies....

where do you stuff your toilet paper?

radical islam....buffoon...tootlings of a child in the bathtub....what's that smell....

address the issues not your pipe dreams.

Posted by: dear cf.... | February 3, 2006 11:31 PM

that's why we stood by while Isarel ran tanks through palestine a short time before we invaded iraq....right?

that's why we sent missles into pakistan to take out a terrorist right....even though they have nuckaleer bommmbs raht?

the arrrrrrrrrrabic culture is a culture, they are fairly primitive......tribal...

there's no mystery here.....

they have a different culture....

like your bible belt crackers are the direct analog of them.....they'd kill you if jayzus told them to....no questions asked.....

and your president is enlisting them to run your country.....

"the moron vote"

Posted by: respect for islam.... | February 3, 2006 11:38 PM

Patriot1957 -

"It would take so pitifully little effort on our part to no longer need ME oil. In 2003 we imported 2.4 million barrels a day from the ME. If average passenger car mileage was 40 mpg we'd save 2 million barrels a day."

We use pitifully less oil per capita than in 1970, yet we use 35% more oil. The reason is that immigration and population growth not only negated the savings, but added MORE demand.

The USA will grow to 363 million people by 2030. Your cute little hybrids will achieve a little respite, but not much. The USA currently uses 107 Quads of energy, 40 of oil. Of the oil, 16 Quads are in fueling private transportation of gas cars. Getting rid of low milage SUVs frees up 2.5 Quads. But even with that efficiency, we will need 4-5 additional new Quads of oil or oil substitutes because people are pouring into the USA and having large families. Plus China and other nations are projected to create an additional 20-28 Quads of global oil demand by 2030.

The ME will continue to sell every drop they can make. And America will still be heavily involved in protecting that supply from seizure by radical Islam or China so our allies in Europe and Asia can continue until the world shifts to a coal and fission (and hopefully fusion) energy eonomy 40 years out in the future...

Posted by: Chris Ford | February 3, 2006 11:52 PM

rail systems, hybrid, public transport...

3 to 4 dollars a gallon, with the excess profit earmarked for research and revitalizing public transportation....

suburbs disappear as a way of life as cities become the option of choice....

modifications on other levels but any real


could find a way....

beside quoting stale sh*t...

please gro up...

Posted by: actually, you're like kinda stupid... | February 4, 2006 12:00 AM

The "problem", in a nutshell, is that complicated issues involving shared and unique values, economics, beliefs and mythologies, politics and statespersonship, and history and anthropology are never solved with sweeping black/white answers. Sweeping black/white answers, however, are easier to sell than the long patient dialog necessary to reaching the heart of societal and international issues. The present tactic of neo-con-led Republican party (with some notable but non-influential exceptions) is to propose simple-sounding solutions to these complex concerns. The present tactic of the moderate-led Democratic party has been to propose complicated-sounding solutions (which are sometimes troubling to contemplate and therefore less palatable) to many of hte same complex concerns.]
It is important for everyone to keep in mind that despite 2 consecutive wins for the Republican party in the presidential elections, the margin is really "too close to call." Similarly, although Republicans control both houses of Congress, the margins are relatively small in both cases. It is a mistake to conclude that this is a conservative country; the separation in popular vote is extremely narrow and hinges on a "swing" vote that is not decidedly conservative nor liberal. I believe that the President forgot or never understood these electoral facts and that the dominant party in Congress similarly let the sense of mandate and power go to its collective head.

Posted by: Jazzman | February 4, 2006 12:25 AM

solutions than....

left, right, liberal, conservative, neo-cons, christians....

like the things that "I" said, are situations....what do "you" know that works?

"they" said, "he" said....

you all want to hide behind the "right ideology" no matter what you say....little children standing in line, not wanting to stand out or make a difference....it's all about fitting in.....

when someone else sets the tone, you could be "fitting in" to Auschwitz....

that is the point....look at things.

take a chance why not, "I" said....take the leap...

Posted by: I'd be a lot more impressed if you talked about "your" | February 4, 2006 01:32 AM

From todays Mew York Times:

" The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

Did the qualified person for this job, not qualify for the neo-conservative party party line?

Posted by: John | February 4, 2006 10:14 AM

Sorry for the typo, Mew is New. Scientific research is required to have the word theory added, then wouldn't anything having to do with religion need to have theory added aslo? The Chistian Theory, the Islam Teory?

Posted by: John | February 4, 2006 10:18 AM

I am certainly not religious by any degree, and my background is in the sciences, but I agree that the "Big Bang" is theory. Many facts support this theory. The religious aspect of it all seems to relate to the question, "What was before it?"

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 10:51 AM

The others (i.e., Christians, Islam etc.) are based in faith. I do not doubt that, say, Jesus or Mohammad did not exist. However, facts supporting whether they actually are prophets or the son of God, and that their teachings are actually those of the big guy in the sky, are based on belief, not theory.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 10:59 AM

Sorry about the double negative!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 11:00 AM

recognizes the "states" that jesus of nazareth and mohammed found as being "divine."

It's just that others have reached the same place, but don't claim to have cornered the market....

christians were usurped by romans to use as a tool for empire expansion....gawd was their tool, and explanation as to why they didn't need one.....and your religion was evil....celtics suffered the same fate as native americans...indigenous populations...the statue, "the dying gaul," was of a celtic warrior...naked with torque....they "owned" france before the romans conquered that region.

muslims were led by a general who was looking to spur on his troops....what better thing to tell them than that gawd was on their side.....

the judaic culture, an angry gawd to control the masses and lead them out of the first stages of doing whatever they wanted to....an angry gawd works better in harsh lands.....being persecuted as a "way of life," seems to create that effect

all three groups are dualistic, good/evil, right/wrong.....

primitive views all.....self limiting.

most other groups have a little bit more breathing room..

milarepa, a tibetan saint demonstrated walking on water and flying in the 8th century....to a group of monks...

normal "abilities" of one who has reached a certain state of awareness include being able to do the "miracles" that were attributed to jesus....

most other groups refer to jesus as a master, but not the only one.....christians who vie for we are the "special" ones....would not have you know the truth....catholic persecution sort of set the tone for that....inquisitions/witchhunts.

even Africans know of loas, the bastardization of the african medicine into voodoun...is partially white man's fear....and the power it gave the blacks emotionally....blah blah blah

isn't it interesting that only catholic saints have the abilities in western culture.....they are the only ones "allowed" to have them by church doctrine....

jesus was supposed to have visited the tibetans during his "wanderings," and learned from them....

buddhism pretty much doesn't talk about the siddhis but they occur as a natural progression in one moving to higher states of conciousness....no biggee

to the unelightened west this is an outrage that "anyone could be like jayzus," what arrogance....

all the romans have to do is change the concept from "a son of gawd" to "the son of gawd" and the phrase "only through me" and they own the franchise.....and you bought in....and don't have the courage to examine, that's what is really nauseating....

Posted by: actually anyone who understands the mystic process.... | February 4, 2006 12:06 PM

Goes to show you what a whole lotta crap and killing originates from religious beliefs, mysticism and ignorance of nature.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 12:48 PM

that to some extent, although you all believe that you are clear headed...

you're embedded in the mythology of the christian culture/roman-rule, interpretation of history just as much as the towelheads...

you are encultured, and too close to it to see your own predjudices when interpreting information.....even about something simple like "rights," proper behavior, what best interests are all about....what you can balk, protest about....

crossing over the line is something that the current people in power are trying to keep you from seeing that they do as a way of doing business while throwing catchy phrases out at you....

pictures of the president partying with Jack Abramoff, you can't have them....

you paid for them, but the president doesn't want you to see 'em......

and since he's the fraudulent "war" president he can do that....he can do anything he wants to and you can't stop him....plus it's what as a riche kid, he's used to.....dwi....no prob, I know the govenor....want out of the national guard a few months early....just leave, no one will complain if they do....well, let's just say they won't....story of his life...

sorry he doesn't value yours nearly as much....but hey

you're peasants, not real people with feelings....

Posted by: the reason that I'm mentioning this is.... | February 4, 2006 12:51 PM

religion is dogma, codification by the laity of an experience they never had....

that's how you get a pat robertson, using gawd likea primitive witchdoctor to curse people......the only problem is he's linking his spirit with the "punishment" and thus in a ssense punishing himself and denigrating his spirit with evil/control.

the only experential form of religion is mysticism....union with "the force," the shaolin are monks that used their knowledge of the tao/force/wu to learn how to defend themselves....there is a truth to being one with reality that's discernible.....

most people live within their map of reality and make the mistake of thinking that if they manipulate the map, the manipulate the territory....

"the map is not the territory"

direct perception is possible.

the mystic/enlighted-state doesn't ask you to believe Jack, it's all about experience....and demonstration....

Posted by: belief in general is a perpetuation of fraud asking for you not to examine facts... | February 4, 2006 12:59 PM

Thanks for the palm reading madame. Here's your quarter.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 01:02 PM

but it doesn't take much...

a big boy can look at himself and make changes, little-ones make wise-ass remarks as a way of avoiding seeing their fraility...and lack of knowledge...

dissing as a way of life is what street people do to cover their ignorance...

a fourteen year old that can't read, can at least intimidate....

teaching children requires knowing where they're at...

dark sullen glances usually mask inadequacy....

Posted by: sorry if I intimidate you by being more knowledgeable... | February 4, 2006 01:14 PM

Ok Mrs. Robinson, coo coo ca choo! Ha ha ha

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | February 4, 2006 01:23 PM



WASHINGTON - Response to Representative Charles Boustany's decision to support Rep. John Boehner for House Majority Leader after being one of 30 Republican House members to receive $5,000 from Boehner's "Freedom Project" PAC.

For more information, please read The Hill article "Candidates for majority leader opened their wallets." http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/020206/donations.html

Statement by Ben Smilowitz, former Site Manager of Red Cross Client Service Center in Gulfport, MS in September-October 2005 and Founder of the Katrina Accountability Project:

"I expected Representative Boustany to vote for a Majority Leader that demonstrated a commitment to Gulf Coast Recovery--not his personal campaign reelection fund. After all that Louisiana has been though--- and the last few months of public scandals and corruption in Washington, you'd think Boustany would focus on Louisiana's recovery needs over personal kick-backs and campaign contributions.

"This is another opportunity lost for the people of Louisiana. Doesn't it make more sense for the LA delegation to make Katrina recovery a public issue in this leadership election and vote as a block for the candidate that promises to deliver the most recovery aid to the Louisiana people?"

After spending a month in Gulfport, MS managing a Red Cross Financial Service Center that distributed over $20 million to 20,000 households in 20 days, I decided to start the Katrina Accountability Project. The organization brings national attention to the gross under-representation of hurricane victims in Congress, and to the many critical needs that have been ignored.

The Katrina Accountability Project (www.KatrinaAccountabilityProject.org) will help Gulf Coast residents build real political power to demand better performance from their members of Congress. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina could have been an opportunity for members of Congress to leverage their clout and membership in the Majority party of Congress to deliver drastically needed services to their constituents. While Americans were quick to respond with record donations to the Red Cross and other relief organizations, Congress waited until December to pass major relief legislation. The inaction forced many to sleep in tents, outside their damaged homes, for months. The Katrina Accountability Project is exposing the failures now. In November, the voters can decide whether or not they want to keep their representatives around for the next hurricane season.

Contact Ben via email at Ben@KatrinaAccountabilityProject.org

Posted by: Ben Smilowitz | February 4, 2006 09:48 PM

Chris Ford-

I certainly hear your point, and given recent events regarding the Mohammed cartoon, what you are saying rings home. For me to say that "an elimination on our dependence of oil in the Middle East would eliminate Islamic ill-will towards America" is certainly and demonstrably short sighted. I admit as much.

One point you mention (in response to Patriot): If the United States elminated all its ME oil dependence tomorrow, some other country would be waiting in the wings to take up that oil.

I'll take this as true though it may not be. If Random American X switches to hybrid it's not clear why Random Chinease X buys a car. If the demand for oil goes down, which is what Patriot proposes, than the price of oil goes down which means Middle Eastern countries receive less money which means less money for terrorists.

But I will move past that fact, for now. If the Middle East sold all its oil to China and Europe, as opposed to China and Europe and the United States, then it would be on those two countries to deal with the stability of the middle eastern region. Given that we know the United States is already trying to eliminate its need for ME oil because of the political climate in that region, it's likely that at some point, Chinease and European oil interests will cause them to clash-heads with the Muslim world. This is good for U.S. because it gives them two more super-entities to focus their hatred on and it gives us two great allies in the war against radical islam (our enemy's enemy is our friend?)

I think at some point Radical Islam loses this fight, because it is incompatible with the rest of the world. They are just too dogmatic and, frankly, just too crazy to interact forever with the rest of us. If not for oil, radical islam would already have essentially gone the way of the dodo.

Another point is that as the United States eliminates its dependence on ME oil (or any country's oil, for that matter) investment in alternative fuel sources will become more profitable. If the Government is serious about reducing ME oil dependency then it will invest, probably through subsidizing those industries, in technological advances in non-oil energies. I am not so naive to think that windmills will oneday replace oil as our global infrastructure, but I know that if we completely shut the door on alternative fuel sources as unreliable, unlikely, etc. than we won't develop them.

Also, a national dialogue on decreasing our ME oil dependency is more likely to swing the public towards domestic oil programs like ANWR which you probably support.

Eliminating oil dependency gives countries like Saudi Arabia a reason to actually try and appease us (not half ass) which they have lacked. While they are an "ally" they fail to make any meaningful or worthwhile gains towards giving their citizenry civil rights or discouraging anti-Americanism within their borders. Yet this attitude might likely change if a Saudi President realized he could have twice as many Mercedes if he could demonstrably show that Saudi Arabia was willing to play ball... Perhaps denouncing Generic Terrorist Act in 2015, for example, which would go a long way in convincing Saudis that infidels aren't all that evil (because they are paying for our food)

I am not so cynical about Islam to think that this is a war against every individual Islamic person or that Islam cannot reach the modern world. I am also not so naive to think that mere dependence on oil is the sole impetus in the West vs. Islam boxing match. But shouldn't there be a middle ground? We don't need to surrender the war for hearts and minds just because many of these people believe what they do dogmatically. There are muslims who do not blow themselves up for virgins. Shouldn't we examine what distinguishes these people from the Osama Bin Ladins?

In conclusion, I agree that this conflict is not so simple that eliminating oil eliminates our problems, but I think it is a step in the right direction. It gives us a crucial bargaining chip with the leaders of nations who have influence of the people they lead. Accepting that our increasing oil needs are driven by more factors than SUV sales (like our immigration policy, that you reasonably point out) is important, but does that *really* make eliminating our ME oil pipeline irrelevant?

Or have I missed your point entirely? All apologies if I have. Hope you had a good weekend and "F" the Seahawks.

Posted by: Will | February 5, 2006 11:15 PM

We can learn from our enemies. Cindy Sheehan is thinking about running against the hawk Dianne Feinstein in California and I think that we should contest
not only the Republicans but every Democrat in the primaries who does not call for our immediate withdrawal from Iraq and who is not willing to impeach Bush. Someone should run against Nancy Pelosi. She is wrong on both counts. We have to let everyone know what a Progressive is. A progressive is a citizen that can say the word impeachment and mean it, and wants an immediate airlift of our troops out of Iraq.

GOPAC - Taking the helm of GOPAC, Gingrich emphasized spreading ideas and inspiring conservative reform minded citizens through countless campaign
seminars, workbooks, audiotapes and years of grassroots organizing, GOPAC became the Republican Party's pre eminent education and training center. The famous GOPAC tapes, in particular, galvanized Republican candidates and activists.

Many political observers credited GOPAC with being a key catalyist of the Republican Revolution that stormed the nation in 1994, sweeping in the first GOP Congress in four decades and leaving a record number of governorships and statehouses in Republican hands.

Newt Gingrich 1978 speech.

"This party does not need another generation of cautious, prudent, careful, bland, irrelevant, quasi-leaders who are willing as people to drift into positions because nobody else is available. What we really need are people
who are hard-working, energetic, willing to take risks, willing to stand up in a ug,ug, slugfest and match it out with their opponent, and people who
take themselves and saving the country so seriously that when they have to choose between a week on the lake, and a week serving the country they never
worry about which choice they make, because they know tht next spring when there are no campaigns, they can go to the lake. But the only time you have to save the country is between June and November of every other year. It
does take time, it takes a lot of hard work."

We should write our own Contract For America and its first two items should be getting out of Iraq and Impeaching Bush. We can add getting corporation
money out of politics and many other bills to the contract.

We have nine months until November and there should not be an unapposed, Republican, or dirty Democrat that is not taken on in the primary. If this is the case in your area--get down to the registrar of voters and run for something.

Posted by: gramps | February 8, 2006 12:47 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.