It's hard to believe I got hot walking around the streets of downtown Washington, DC on Wednesday. This morning's temperature of twenty five degrees Fahrenheit feels much more like November. I'm glad we're seeing a change in more than just the weather.
There's some positive news on a number of fronts. A Washington opinion article, "An Iraq Deadline for Bush," talks about the pressure building for results in Iraq.
This will be remembered as the week when President Bush lost control over the Iraq war debate. His administration has perhaps six months to get things right. If the situation in Iraq fails to improve significantly, public pressure for withdrawal will become irresistible.
I find it refreshing to see our system of government start to work. The Roanoke Times said it well in an editorial in today's paper.
If the American system of checks and balances were operating properly, more of the questions now being asked would have been answered before Congress authorized the use of force.
But, partly because Bush and his adviser Karl Rove wanted to use that vote as an issue in the 2002 congressional elections, the tough questions didn't get asked then.
Despite that lapse, they need to be answered now...
But the recent resolution demanding some sort of exit strategy from Bush may be a sign of Republican realization that a failure to hold the president to account could have consequences. The electorate, after all, will have an opportunity in less than a year to hold them accountable.
It was also nice to see at least one new position established on the Iraqi war with one Senator, John Murtha, actually calling for withdrawal of our troops with a statement detailed in the Post article, "Hawkish Democrat Joins Call For Pullout."
"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha said in a Capitol news conference that left him in tears. Islamic insurgents "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. ". . . It's time to bring them home."
This of course has prompted intensified attacks from the White House, but they might not be nearly as effective as earlier one against anyone who spoke out against the war.
Murtha, asked about the comments, replied sarcastically: "I like guys who got five deferments and [have] never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done." Cheney did not serve in the military, and Bush was an Air National Guardsman who did not leave the United States during the Vietnam War.
Whatever, your point of view, debate is always healthier than an unchallenged stampede towards one path which is how we got into this mess in the first place. Politics got us here, and the realities of politics will solve the problem.
There was another interesting article in the Post, "Grand Old Spenders," which brought some refreshing reality to the subject of government spending by so-called conservatives.
Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government waxes, with per-household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II. Federal spending -- including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 -- has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Bill Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.
In 1991, the 546 pork projects in the 13 appropriation bills cost $3.1 billion. In 2005, the 13,997 pork projects cost $27.3 billion, for things such as improving the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio (Packard, an automobile brand, died in 1958).
It's hard to believe these politicians can get up in front of us with a straight face and say they are going to cut government spending, but it's nice see clear evidence of how spending has grown.
Also I'm pleased to see at least a little backbone being shown on the renewal of the Patriot Act. The Seattle Times article, "Patriot Act deal runs into Senate challenge," reports the following.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, three Republicans joined three Democrats in describing the bill as "unacceptable." They added that "if further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law."
The Boston Globe adds in their editorial, "Patriotic bipartisanship,"
For many months, six senators -- three from each party -- worked to smooth the roughest edges of the Patriot Act. Their efforts were rewarded when the Senate approved their measure with such overwhelming support it required only a voice vote....
However, the House was meanwhile advancing a version that did little to deal with the law's excesses...
It is hard to imagine why government needs the power to impose gag orders, and it's indefensible that Congress would consider taking away citizens' right to challenge them.
Equally troubling is that the House and some Senate Republicans, with support from the White House, have given so little weight to the bipartisan Senate effort. Earlier this year, the bipartisan ''Gang of 14" prevented a blowup over judicial appointments, at least temporarily.
In a year with far too much political rancor, a second bipartisan success story should not be too much to hope for.
Compromise is the key to good government, it's a lesson that the current administration and many of its followers have yet to learn. Unless they learn it soon, they won't be around after the next time the voters have a chance to speak. Of course trying to stick religion into science won't help their situation either. According to George Will also in the "Grand Old Spenders" opinion piece this will be the result.
The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.
On this very subject Charles Krauthammer also has an interesting article, "Phony Theory, False Conflict," in today's Washington Post.
'Intelligent Design' Foolishly Pits Evolution Against Faith
How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.
The first sentence of the quote from the Krauthammer article says it all on the evolution and intelligent design controversy.
I'm glad that our country seems to be awaking from a period of stupor where debate was unpatriotic.