November 16, 2006
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   Earmarks and Politics
Incoming U.S. Senate leaders (C) speak to the press after elections within the party on Capitol Hill November 14, 2006. Harry Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat, was elected by colleagues on Tuesday as U.S. Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. REUTERS/Jason Reed 
Reuters via Yahoo! News - Nov 14 9:29 AM
REUTERS/Jason Reed Reuters via Yahoo! News
Republicans and Democrats both use and abuse them. Nancy (Pelosi) says her Dems will work to pass legislation to identify the lawmakers who use them. They are Earmarks.

(Earmarks are funds set aside for specific projects by politicians, most likely pork barrel projects to help special interests.

These funds are allocated to these specific projects and can not be spent elsewhere. Earmarks are often placed in spending bills often at the last minute.

Remember the famous "Bridge to Nowhere." Funds were earmarked to build a bridge from an Alaskan town of 8,700 to an island with 50 residents in order to avoid a short ferry ride. The earmark was removed from legislation because of negative publicity, but the money is still there and apparently Alaska can use it on the bridge if they want.)

I just hope that the Democrats are smart. The people put them in and can take them out.

The one guy who has become my hero is this representative from AZ named Jeff Flake(Don't you just love that name?). I saw him on 60 Minutes; Flake is the guy who has made it a point to question all these "earmarks," the pork that congressmen slide into various spending bills for back home.

Anyway, Flake is a Republican and won overwhelmingly. I think that most people would rather have Congress be honest than get all this pork, even if it goes to their district.

Get this: I read that in 87', Reagan vetoed a bill because it had 152 earmarks and in 05', Bush signed one with 6,371. Democrats, we will be watching. KT
   War By Committee By KT
The Iraq Study Group:

1)Chairmen: James Baker, former Secretary of State, Republican; Lee Hamiliton, former member of the House of Representatives, Democrat

2)Republican Members: Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court justice; Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state; Edwin Meese, former U.S. attorney general; Alan Simpson, former Wyoming senator.

3)Democrats: Vernon Jordan Jr., business executive; Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff; William Perry, former defense secretary; Charles Robb, former Virginia senator and governor.

This picture released by the White House shows US President George W. Bush (2nd R) joined by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (R), Vice President Dick Cheney (2nd L) and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten (L) during a meeting with the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker (L, facing Bush) and former Democratic lawmaker Lee Hamilton (R, facing Hadley) at the White House. Photo:Eric Draper/AFP
Photo:Eric Draper/AFP
Well, we are finally to this: The Iraq Study Group(I-S-G) or as I like to call it, War by Committee.

These men and a lady are supposed to give us a new roadmap, strategy, or suggestions about what to do with Iraq before the end of the year. Let's hope they agree on something.

I might have thought in the past, that this was the dumbest thing that I've ever heard. However, as I look at Iraq, there is "Nothing that doesn't need a fix." NOTHING!

We are close to civil war, if not there already. I challenge anyone to suggest an area where things are positive (other than the courage and spirit of our soldiers doing their job). Corruption of the Iraqi Army and police, operation of militias, kidnappings, the sectarian violence(hangings, decapitations, suicide bombings), etc. Consequently, War By Committee, may lead to fresh ideas.

What we can't do is dwell on how we got to Iraq. Maybe after the war is over, but not now. We have to come up with an exit strategy. Thus far, all it has been is "hoping things will work out OK."

Getting rid of Rumsfeld is a start. I must admit I feel a little sorry for the guy, but it was time to pass the torch.

This whole Iraq quagmire is a little like a drama. If it wasn't so tragic, it could be a novel. What you have are guys like Rumsfeld, Cheney, Pearle, Wolfowitz, convinced by the charlatan, Ahmad Chalabi(an Iraqi who had been gone from Iraq for thirty years) that Saddam definitely had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq then became a passion.

Chalabi said people would welcome us as liberators, a democractic society would bring peace to the Middle East, etc. Chalabi's organization, the Iraqi National Congress, was given 15 million dollars to prepare to run Iraq; when, in fact, Chalabi hardly had an organization. Chalabi's arguments for war in Iraq was the catalyst for the invasion-a colossal liar at worst or a smart manipulator at best. But, honestly, it is amazing; this was not some conspiracy theory, but how they sold it to the President.

There is lots more to this historical miscalculation. Chalabi convinced the smart guys: Rumsfeld, Cheney, and the true believer, Wolfowitz; and, then, the "smart guys" sold Chalabi's words to the Prez which gave Bush the fuel to do what he wanted to do anyway. And, in the process, the reputations of Colin Powell, Condi Rice, the CIA, and all kinds of other lessor players were forever tainted.

The enormous significance of "War By Committee" and doing something new and plotting an exit strategy NOW is that we need to do something about the young Americans who continue to die daily because of the "broken nature of Iraq" over which we have no control.

So let's give "War By Committee," a shot and use the motto of "Good" magazine, "America, love it or fix it."

For More Info: USA Today: A Closer Look at the Iraq Group

New York Times Magazine: Where Plan A Left Ahmad Chalabi

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