Thursday, December 23, 2004

Letter to a Christian Fundamentalist

My brain is rotting, I have been tinkering with blog too long this morning...

One last post before I run...

On a new blog I found this morning, The Moderate Liberal...

A letter to a Christian Fundamentalist

In a letter to his cousin, "a born-again Christian Fundamentalist who moved to Texas to be with others who share her beliefs," Mark Matson writes:

I believe this world is at war between the forces of religious fundamentalism and enlightened reason. Enlightened reason must win. It isn't a coincidence we refer to the last time religious fundamentalism ruled as the Dark Ages. Religious fundamentalists brought down the twin towers. Enlightened reason must, must win.

There need be no conflict between enlightened reason and religion. Many of the founding fathers were deeply religious, but they all believed in The Enlightenment, the base philosophy this country was founded on, the principle of open discourse that lead to democracy, capitalism and science. But they were not fundamentalists.

Even if the Bible is perfect, no human who reads it is. We decide which lines to emphasize. We interpret meaning. We humans decide what biblical laws should translate to modern laws and what should be left to the individual.

It is a good letter.

I do not believe we will prevail by "converting" the other side, as I said in an earlier post, but it is good to have thoughtful, logical arguments if we are debating with them.

Check it out.

Happy Holidays!

If I say this, does this mean I hate America?

I've been meaning to write something about this crap for a while, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would be helping to transform this into a legitimate issue.

Maybe this is a good one to just ignore.

Plus, I like Atrios' point, "it really feels fucking stupid saying "Merry Christmas" on December 1 when Christmas is over 3 weeks away."

Then there is this banality...

Homosexuals behind Target action? Stores banned Salvation Army bell ringers from property

Dude, I am taking my ball and going home...

The Grinch who saved Christmas

A Possible Re-Do In Washington State?

The Democrat’s Christine Gregoire now leads by 10 votes. This lead might grow by several hundred once 500 or so more ballots in King County are counted.

According to The Seattle Times, this means, “statewide, the vote difference between Gregoire and [Republican Dino] Rossi is now 0.00036 percent.” 2.9 million votes were cast in the election.

According to a piece published Tuesday in USA Today:

The trouble with extremely close elections is that a candidate's victory margin can be smaller than the total vote's margin of error, regardless of voting technology. A lead of just a few votes could be the result of mistakes. That's why there are recounts. But recounts themselves, whether by machine or by hand, have error rates of 1% to 2%, says Phil Howard, a political communications professor at the University of Washington.

Looking at the vote totals for the three recounts, we see the problem illustrated more clearly…

From today’s Seattle Times article:

Rossi won the Nov. 2 election by 261 votes, which triggered an automatic statewide machine recount. After Rossi won that recount by just 42 votes, the state Democratic Party requested a third count -- this time by hand.

For the first week of the manual recount, Rossi gained votes in most of the state's smaller counties and at one point was ahead by more than 120 votes.

But Gregoire charged back late last week, picking up 43 votes on Rossi in Snohomish County and 31 in Pierce County.

She overtook Rossi yesterday when King County -- the last to complete the manual recount -- reported she had gained 47 votes, while Rossi had lost 12.

King County elections director Dean Logan said Gregoire may have benefited from ballots on which voters wrote her name as a write-in but failed to fill in any bubble, Logan said. Machines disqualified those ballots, but the manual count gave them to Gregoire.

Which gives Gregoire a ten vote lead.

Maybe the Republicans do have something of a point when they whine about recounting over and over until you get a result that you like.

This has triggered talk of re-doing the election.

The election to replace two-term Democrat Gary Locke has dragged on so long that calls for a new election are gaining traction.

Last week, a former secretary of State who oversaw elections for 20 years joined the chorus, warning that whoever emerges from the recount would have trouble governing.

There are some precedents for this in American politics.

In 1974, a two-vote margin in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race led to a court battle so contentious that both candidates agreed to a new election. Democrat John Durkin won a rematch.

Now, this one article in a national publication is the only place I have actually seen the possibility of a re-do mentioned. I have done my extensive 37 seconds of searching on Google, I have glanced at the web sites for the two Seattle newspapers…

I doubt that this is really much of an issue outside of random, idle chatter. Or is it? I tried to find an article from Washington mentioning the idea of a re-do, but I was unable to locate one before I got distracted.

This probably will be settled by the courts in the end.

I just hope one of the canidates does not suddenly develop facial scaring.

Wash. election drama plays on

Unofficial manual recount results

Text of Supreme Court's decision

2004 is not 1969: Middle America Values

The Middle Americans cherish a system of values they see assaulted and mocked everywhere--everywhere except in [the President's] Washington... It was their interpretation of patriotism that influenced the mood of government...The Men and Women of the Year were the Middle Americans... Middle America is a state of mind, a morality, a construct of values.

--Time Magazine, "Man and Woman of the Year"

Seattle's alternative rag The Stranger has a column in this week's issue that starts with the above quote.

Here are the first couple paragraphs of the piece that follows:

No, I didn't get an advance copy of Time's Man of the Year issue. This is from 1969, when the magazine honored red-state Americans and the reemergence of moral values. Before they go and honor the same group in 2004, scaring the shit out of you with the idea that "moral values" are in ascendancy, I'd like to offer a reality check. Let's start with a history lesson.

1969? Moral values? Roll the film: Woodstock, mini-skirts, and the gay rights explosion at Stonewall; feminism, Black Power, and the debut of the super politically correct Sesame Street; orgies, communes, and the debut of the sexually explicit Penthouse.

By the mid-'70s, liberal Democrats firmly controlled the Senate, a bunch of stoned comedians, including John Belushi, were hosting the most popular TV show in the country, and blatantly gay disco hits were topping the charts.

Essentially, Josh Feit compares the cultural trends of that period with the current one, and comes up with the idea that "We're winning the culture war."

He writes:

Desperate Housewives, with its swinging '70s values, is the number-two show in the country--and it's number one in red turf like metro Atlanta. More substantively, civil unions--once anathema--are now the Republican fallback position. Polls find two-thirds of Americans say abortion should be legal, and prescriptions for the morning-after pill have increased from 48,000 in 1998 to more than 310,000 in 2000, according to Planned Parenthood.

And he concludes that;

2005 will make it clear the Bushies and the media (as before) are overplaying the moral "mandate." If there's going to be any backlash, it's going to be ours--against their house of cards.

Uh... Okay.

Desperate Housewives, a show I find myself despising, though I have admittedly never seen it, and approximately 250,000 more women a year resorting to the morning after pill as a last resort? Are these good things? Do you really think that we are trending towards Red America lightening up and getting with the hip crowd, accepting what they see as perverse and immoral?

Do I even want to be in this hip crowd?

Now, I am on the left. I believe that the FCC needs to back off. I believe that Desperate Housewives is a valid form of entertainment. I believe that the availability of morning after pill is an essential element of women's health care, one that includes comprehensive sex education enabling people to make choices that lessen the need for the morning after pill and for abortions. And I believe that all Americans deserve the same rights, period. If I can do it legally, you can do it legally and on until dawn. No exceptions.

But I would say, the culture war is not something that CAN be won. It is not something that should even be fought in the first place. We are a nation of moral people, but different groups have different morals. Just as they have different belief systems.

Trying to win a culture war, to me, is no less offensive than Ann Coulter saying:

We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

Earlier this week, I was in The Dalles in Eastern Oregon. This is a pink county on the election map and their split on the President was exactly the same as the national result: 51% Bush, 48% Kerry. Just off the freeway there is a porn shop. On Sunday, there were also a handful of perfectly legitimate protesters with anti-porn signs standing outside of this perfectly legitimate business.

This was almost odd to me. I live in a city where every neighborhood has its very own porn shop (seriously, Portland is like that, we also have the highest per capita number of strip joints in America), but in a culture war, one of these sides is going to win and one is going to lose. Both sides have 1st Amendment protections safe guarding their activities. Regardless of who would win such a battle in a culture war, we all would lose as basic freedom of speech rights were eroded.

Beyond this... Before the November elections, many liberal Democrats actually assumed that they were a majority in this country. Regardless of your beliefs on the validity of the results of the election, one thing is clear... We are split right down the middle, 50/50. I'll say the 3% difference in the presidential election results would be called within the margin of error on this point.

According to Feit, he assumes that this same unseen liberal majority will quietly slide into power as a backlash against conservatism. But what he fails to understand is that the political climate is very different these days. What we are seeing today in many ways is the backlash to the cultural shift that happened in the early 70's.

It could even be said that we are seeing a correction, that the conservatives are not pulling America in their direction but that the conservatives themselves are actually the true face of American values that was subjugated by the culturally amoral liberal minority for 30 years.

It seems to me that there are actually two Americas with almost equal populations; Blue urban America and Red rural America. We need to find the values that both sides agree on and work on building consensus through those points.

We will never convince Red America that what their faith labels as perverse and immoral is just a fun, legally protected Saturday night and that our soul is our own business. They will never convince Blue America that it is good for the country to limit our rights and choices.

But right now the culture is trending towards the Red. While it is important to accept their values as legitimate, it is even more important that we do not become complacent and let them take away our rights and freedoms.

We have to be viligent and defend our values; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to privacy; control of our own bodies, civil rights for all Americans...

The most disturbing thing about this column was not its total miss on the cultural climate of rural America's socially conservative values, but that it encourages those with more to lose than soft core porn on network TV to be passive and to ignore the fact that their basic rights are being threatened.

And by the way, Atlanta is almost as Blue as Seattle. Fulton County, Georgia had Kerry at 60%, Bush at 39%. King County, Washington went for Kerry 65% to 34%.

Complacency, making naive assumptions about Red American values and the nature of Red States in general (Atlanta is in Georgia, Georgia is Red, Atlanta must be Red) are at the core of why we find our Democracy in Distress.


Quote of the Day

We have been following developments very closely and are deeply disturbed by the extensive and credible reports of fraud in the election. We call for a full review of the conduct of the election and the tallying of election results... We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.

-- US Secretary of State Colin Powell, 11/23/2004, referring to the election in the Ukraine, of course, not the one here in the US.

Eat The State

A Democracy In Distress First: A. F. Litt sides with Republicans on Washington State recount issue

A new wrinkle in Washington… Two victories for the Democrats.

Yesterday, the state Supreme Court ruled that those ballots in question in King County, a Democrat stronghold, can be counted.

As if to spike the ball, Democrat Contender Christine Gregoire pulled ahead by 10 votes anyway. All that is left to count are 735 disputed ballots in King County. Unless these ballots go for Dino Rossi, which is highly unlikely since King County, in the initial count, went 58% for the Democrat (65% for Kerry in the Presidential race), the Democrats will retain the govenorship in Washington State.

Okay, what is it that the Republicans like to say? Something about recounting over and over until you get a result you like, but at some point a winner has to be declared and the process just has to stop?

Well, if the current totals in the Washington State Governor’s race continue their trend, the Dems can start chanting, you can challenge the results in court over and over until you get a result you like, but at some point a winner has to be declared and the process just has to stop.

Time for a big quote from The Seattle Times:

The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled that during a recount, counties have the power to reconsider previously rejected ballots.

The ruling allows King County today to count some, if not most, of the 735 ballots that election workers improperly rejected because they failed to find matching signatures in county files. The county expects to finish counting and report its final returns this afternoon.

What happens after that is not clear. At yesterday's court hearing, justices and lawyers made reference to the state law that allows elections to be contested in a court trial where evidence of fraud or legal error can be heard. The law allows election results to be set aside, and new elections ordered, under certain circumstances.

"Someone will decide to contest it," the Republican Party's attorney, Harry Korrell, told the Supreme Court yesterday. "I think that is almost unavoidable regardless of what this court does."

He said a contest would allow for an adversarial process where evidence would be presented and witnesses cross-examined.

Are the Republican’s already planning their challenge or are they taking the high road they preached in Florida in 2000 and letting the process roll to its conclusion?

The Times quotes the State Republican Chair Chris Vance as saying, "This is the election without end, this is the election without rules."

Ambiguous, sure, but I am guessing, after all the Republican hand wringing in Ohio this year and Florida four years ago, they are going to start the healing in Washington and concede, right?


Please feel free to mentally insert your favorite Republican spin doctor’s “Democrats are sore loooooosers” quote here and then chuckle over the blatant hypocrisy.

So, really…

Let’s parse this out a bit… Now, over those 735 ballots in King County, the issues here are the same as those in Ohio and those in Florida in 2000, every vote must be counted.

King County Executive Ron Sims, a Democrat, said the ruling reinforced the state's process for running elections and correcting mistakes.

"For us, this hand recount hasn't been about partisan politics; this has been about having a process that assures every eligible vote is counted," Sims said in a statement.

Now the Republicans are running with this ball, saying that the courts ruling should allow every county in Washington to review their ballots.

Of course, this sudden Republican concern over counting every vote is because, as of today, the Democrats are ahead and Rossi has lost. Even without the 735 ballots in King County.

Vance said the Republicans have a list of 500 people statewide, including about 260 who have signed affidavits, who voted for Rossi but contend their ballots were wrongly rejected due to signature problems.

In light of yesterday's court ruling, he said the party will press county auditors across the state to reconsider those ballots.

"Now, we're with the Democrats," said Vance. "Let's count every vote -- everywhere, not just in King County."

Ah, man… Uh, oh.

[Rossi spokeswoman Mary] Lane and ... Vance said the party planned to go all over the state asking canvassing boards to take another look at ballots the party believes were erroneously rejected.

"If the rules are going to be changed for a select group in King County, it only seems logical that the rules are changed for everyone, including military voters overseas," Lane said.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who backed the Democrats' bid to add any valid disputed ballots to King County's recount, said it's too late for counties that have already certified results to recanvass their returns.

"He's wrong," Vance said, noting that Thurston County certified its results last week, then changed them to add one Gregoire vote. "This battle is not over. This election is not over."

Trovah Hutchins, Reed's spokeswoman, said the secretary of state's office advised Thurston County against changing its certified results. "Our reading of the law is that it's very clear, and that you cannot go back after a county has certified and begin adding votes back into the process."

I would guess that one way this issue could be resolved would be for King County to go ahead and certify their results without adding in the additional ballots. Then the other counties would have little room for complaint, since the same process was followed in all of the counties. However, this would mean that valid ballots were not counted and that voters were disenfranchised.

This is one of those principal defining moments. What is more important, a Democrat winning or defending the principals of our system and counting every valid ballot?

They’ve got to count those ballots. Even if it puts Rossi into the job.

I said it.

But it would still be nice to see the Righties live by the principals they whine about in the recent Presidential races and to just concede.

And flying monkeys just shot out of my ass.

Finally, the money...

If Gregoire's lead holds, Democrats will get back the $730,000 they posted to cover the cost of the manual recount, and the state will have to pick up the bill.

Gregoire leads by 10

Both parties respond to the latest chapter in recount saga

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Because Representative Democracy Undergoing Difficulties Just Doesn't Have the Same Ring to It...

So I call this site Democracy in Distress instead.

I bring this up because this morning I ducked over to Lance in Iraq to see if he happened to be stationed at Camp Merez outside of Mosul. All I know from his blog is that he is in Northern Iraq, so he might be there. God bless the dead and wounded, and Lance- Blog soon so we know you are okay.

So while I was checking on our brave, patriotic spin meister (sorry, Lance, I respect you as a person and as a soldier but your politics are fair game), I noticed that he suddenly had a ton of comments on his posts. Seems like the recent media coverage of his blog cranked up his traffic quite a bit. He is a bit annoyed with the tone of some of the lefty comments, however. "The Comments section may not be family friendly until I get a chance to do some cleaning," Frizzell writes.

So, seeing an opportunity to chide my team for using bad language (something I never do), I reviewed the comments on this blog looking for bad behavior... None that I could find, but maybe Lance had a chance to exercise his administrative rights and clean up the nasty.

Seriously, I do hope that we can take the high road and not resort to name calling, etc. I hope we can focus on logical, fact based arguments and leave the hysteria and irrational conspiracy theories behind...

Anyway, on to the main point of this post...

DJ writes in a comment on Lance In Iraq:

Socialist democrats ... do not know, in their "Gathering to Save Our Democracy" , probably from their disdain for our pledge of allegiance, that we do not have a democracy in the USA. It is a representative Republic. There is a difference. In a democracy, "mob rules". Our republic is constitutionally protected and equally represented by elected officials, hence the Electoral College.

A good try, DJ, but calling our political system a republic is just about as meaningless as calling it a democracy. What we actually have is a representative democracy, "in which the people elect representatives, and the reps make the laws."

The Straight Dope has a nice, readable article on this concept. A few quotes to help define fine our terms:

In recent times, the term "republic" has been bandied about by just about every country, with a popular vote or no, on the claim that the government and the people were subject to the same law. Covers just about everybody except for hereditary monarchies, as I say, including the People's Republic of China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the Republic of Texas, as well as the more "republican" Dominician Republic, Kyrgyz Republic, and Banana Republic.

True democracy can also be called "town hall" or "referendum" government. Some small towns use the town hall as their exclusive system of law-making, and most state and local governments in the U.S. use referenda in placing bond issues and similar decisions directly on the voting ballot.

Direct involvement of the people is a nice concept, but for matters of day-to-day government, a strictly democratic system is impractical. Even now that it's somewhat feasible via electronic communication to survey each and every voter on each and every matter of administering the laws, would you really want this on a national, state, or even local level? Voting is rightly looked on as a civic obligation, but if you were asked to do it every morning when you woke up, you'd probably get pretty sick of it.

I don't know... I get up and make random comments about politics almost every morning on this blog, so I might like logging on and voting every morning. But then again, when politics is not your full time job, it is hard to make informed decisions on the issues. Also, I am more interested in politics than the average American (or human, for that matter).

So yes, I know we do not live in a pure democracy, but it is the democratic elements in our system that seem to be distressed right now, so that is why I call this site Democracy in Distress.

And what ever we want to call it, these men and women are over there fighting and dying to protect it, regardless of what the Bush Administration is doing to it back at home. So I say thank you to them and I hope they are okay.

Lance In Iraq

Is the U.S. a democracy or a republic? What's the difference?

Attack on US Iraq base kills 22

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bush Not Ready for Primetime?

I do not have enough coffee in me. After posting the previous post and tinkering with my personal blog, I looked up at my TV and realized that Bush was having his "End of the Year" Press Conference.

Didn't Presidents do these sorts of things in primetime at one point in history? Were they not publicized before hand? Or have I just been hiding too deep in my bunker?

Listening to this man talk makes me hurt. It's not even his politics, just his voice and the way he talks. It looks painful for him. It makes me cringe just watching.

This started sometime before 8 AM on the west coast. Monday morning, that is when they let this guy live and uncensored on the television. It is on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News, NorthWest Cable News, CSPAN... I am actually surprised; it is on the three broadcast networks too. Maybe this is the only time they were willing to clear time in their schedules.

Rolling Highlights:

Bush seems really concerned about not "negotiating with [him]self." That sounds like something Ashcroft would not have approved of.

Rumsfeld "is a good and decent man... A good human being who cares deeply about the military." I would add that he cares enough to use the very best equipment so he does not have to sign 1300+ letters of condolence regarding service in Iraq, freeing his time up to work hard on providing armor for the living soldiers in the combat zone.

He is now taking credit for the courts ruling against the Administration on behalf of foreign nationals being held in Gitmo, saying that it proves that we "honor the rule of law" and that criticisms of the administration's human rights record regarding these prisoners is "unfair."

"I've been in the diplomatic dental chair for four years" Bush says regarding Israeli/Palestinian relations. Also, "I know the world is wondering if this is just empty rhetoric or if... It is really time to move this process forward... I look forward to working with the world..."

Okay, he was all over a ton of issues here, but I was unprepared and missed most of it. CNN is calling it "good." If it was so good, why didn't the administration put it up in primetime?

Anyway, the talking heads are spinning wildly now, and these are just the impartial CNN commentators.

A weak post... It is too early and I did not have enough warning to properly prepare for this. I see, I get it. Oh, they are good.

CNN has returned to its regularly scheduled broadcast of the Fetus Cut From Its Mother's Womb and Kidnapped! and the upcoming Michael Jackson Pedophilia Trial!

I am not kidding, these were the next two stories they went to, in that order.

Republican Press Secretary Serving in Iraq Discusses Rumsfeld and Armor

I am always a fan of "primary source" material. To me, this is one of the best things about blogging: It gives people who would be normally overlooked by the mainstream media a readily accessible pipeline to the masses. Because of this, I don't have to go to Iraq to hear a first person story about life there. I don't have to rely on catching a few stories on life in Iraq squeezed into the slow news gap between the Peterson Sentence and the Kidnapped Fetus.

One of the worst things about blogging? Being stuck in an apartment in the suburbs with no access to primary material and writing about news and information recycled from other media sources. Using blogs for research isn't much better. It still isn't the same as being there, talking to a live human, but at least it feels one step closer...

There was an article this morning calling Lance In Iraq, by Second Lt. Lance Frizzell, the first blog out of Iraq by a US soldier from Tennessee. I do know know if it is true that this is the first blog from a Tennessee soldier in Iraq or not, but it is the first blog I have noticed from any US soldier in Iraq.

It is an interesting read. It is written by a National Guardsman who's civilian job is being "the Press Secretary for the House Republican Caucus in the Tennessee Legislature."

There is bias here, obviously, but I have no problem with bias as long as it is not claiming to be "Fair and Balanced."

I get laid off from my job and decide to kill time by writing about life and politics on my blogs, this man gets sent to war and decides to kill time by passing "on some of the things the 278th[Armored Cavalry Regiment (now Regimental Combat Team)] is doing in country as well as talk a little politics and media analysis. "

I can respect that, regardless of his political affiliation.

The 278th is the same unit that Spc. Thomas Wilson is from. He is the soldier who asked the Secretary of Defense why the US Military had to "dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles." To make hillbilly armor, as they call it.

Obviously, I am interested to see what a Republican press secretary who is in a combat zone has to say about this...

...what would happen if the 278th hung out in Kuwait for an extended period of time waiting for official up-armor kits. Here is the answer:

The units we are scheduled to replace would be stuck in Iraq waiting to be relieved. A lot of these units are National Guardsman like ourselves who rolled in last year when things were dicier than they are now. I'd hate to be languishing here in country because some members of the U.S. Army are too prissy to pick up a welding torch and put steel on a vehicle. It's time for these guys to go home. It's time for us to take their place. Period.

If we are delayed a year from now because the next rotation is scared of angry family members and Congressional inquiries I (and everyone else in the 278th - especially those complaining about armor) will be highly pissed.

Frizzell writes that he is more concerned about the troop rotations, getting soldiers who are due to leave Iraq out, than having adequate armor. That is very noble. I would guess this is how most soldiers going into this situation feel. This is because we have good people serving over there. They deserve all the protection they can be given while they are doing their jobs over there.

The point here isn't quite on target, unfortunately. The debate isn't about delaying your arrival in the combat zone. You are going with or without the proper equipment. The debate is about making sure that going in unarmored stops.

In a different post from the same day, Frizzell talks about Clinton's secretary of Defense Les Aspin turning down a request for "tanks and armored vehicles for his forces" during the Somalia deployments.

He quotes the following from a DOD web site profile of Aspin:

In September General Powell asked Aspin to approve the request of the U.S. commander in Somalia for tanks and armored vehicles for his forces. Aspin turned down the request. Shortly thereafter Aideed's forces in Mogadishu killed 18 U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 75 in attacks that also resulted in the shooting down of three U.S. helicopters and the capture of one pilot.

In his post, the Republican press secretary/soldier writes, "Liberals and lefty media types using the armor issue to take down Rumsfeld were no where to be found during the Aspin debacle. "

The sentence immediately following the DOD quote above is:

In the face of severe congressional criticism, Aspin admitted that in view of what had happened he had made a mistake, but stated that the request for armored equipment had been made within the context of delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia rather than protecting troops.

Aspin ended up resigning a short time later.

I would use this example not so much to complain about differences in the media coverage between events a over a decade ago in Somalia and current events in Iraq, but to illustrate the difference between an administration that can admit its mistakes and one that cannot, no matter how bad they are.

Especially when considering... Aspin's mistake, apparently, did not cost those soldiers serving in Somalia their lives.

According to one of the comments posted on Frizzell's blog, "But of course having the armor wouldn't have prevented either the attack, or the deaths -- the armor was requested by the 10th Mountain Division, not the Ranger detachment, and the Rangers were based on the opposite side of the city than the 10th Mountain Division."

As far as the media coverage goes, I cannot remember if the media latched onto this Aspin controversy or not, but I do know that very little was said in the mainstream media about the lack of properly armored vehicles in Iraq until Rumsfeld was confronted by one of his own soldiers about the issue.

Body armor was discussed to some degree before then, mostly during the presidential campaign, but the discussion was focused mostly on congressional voting records, not if the soldiers ever actually received armor or other materiel that was supposedly being voted on at the time.

What was that money for? One of our left-liberal stars, Rep. Jim McDermott from Washington, outlined some of it on the House floor...

We have got no jobs in this country. But we are printing money. The presses are running like mad printing this money to send over to Iraq.

Now, what are we going to send it there for? You heard from one of my colleagues a little bit of it. We are going to send over a guard system for public property, $15 million. That is just for training and administration.

We are going to send them 80 pickup trucks at $2.6 million. That is $33,000 apiece. That is a pretty good pickup truck. You can get a pickup truck for under $20,000 right now. But, no, we have to send them the $33,000 brand.

We are going to send over a communications system of handheld radios, 400 of them, and 200 satellite telephones, for $6 million. How many of your police departments have that kind of equipment? And yet we can send it over to Iraq.

Or we can go and give security for the judges at $200 million. Four hundred judges. We are going to provide security details constantly for $200 million.

These phony dollars that they got us into, they got us into a war on a fraudulent basis. The President stood right here and said things which he now says, ``My, it wasn't true.'' But we are going to pay for it.

We are going to pay for a witness protection program. If any Iraqis come forward, we promise them that we will take them to the United States and set them up someplace in Florida or wherever, I do not know, and spend $100 million on them, like they were crime fighters in the Mafia in the United States. That is what your money is going for.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things in this country that ought to happen before that happens.

We are going to buy them 200 tanker trucks. We are going to buy them 250 natural gas trucks. More of these dollars. They are going out. They are going out to the people, and they are going to be spent over there, and the Iraqis themselves say, ``Give us 10 cents on the dollar, and we can do it ourselves.'' But this is an American occupation headed by Viceroy Bremer, and there is no intention in this list of turning over control to them.

We are going to set them up an army. We have decided they need a 40,000-man army. They had an army before. Where is it? Why do we have to buy new weapons for all of them?

Four hundred thirty-five Members are going to come in here with their rubber stamp, and they are going to say, ``Mr. President, you want it. I close my eyes, it is yours.'' And we are going to send them $87 billion , with no discussion. It is wrong. Keep your eye on them.

$87 Billion in October 2003, $25 billion on August 2004, another $70 Billion in the works; all in addition to the initial " $78.5 billion measure that included $62.4 billion for combat and $7.5 billion for foreign assistance..."

This is why the lefties get a little upset and confused when US troops still seem to be unprepared two years into this phase of the Global War on Terror.

This is what inspires "lefty" Congressmen, like Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., to demand accountability from the Secretary of Defense.

Dodd sent a letter to the Secretary "and called the secretary's answer to Spc. Wilson's question 'unacceptable.'"

"Your response -- 'You go to war with the Army you have' -- is utterly unacceptable," Sen. Dodd wrote. "Mr. Secretary, our troops go to war with the Army that our nation's leaders provide."

I can spin in Oregon. Frizzell can spin in Iraq. That is the beauty of blogs.

Welcome to the conversation, Lance.