Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 8, 2006
Voices In The Wilderness

I've beaten the drum lately regarding entrenched, out-of-touch incumbents, more interested in securing their own fortunes & legacies than in working for their constituents, so it's only fair that I draw some attention to a couple of Representatives actually doing something.

I've also written a few time about Ron Paul, the only politician in Washington who seems completely outside the standard influences. Paul's an odd collection of characteristics: a libertarian who holds to a very archaic notion of governance that many of us wouldn't like, but also a degree of honestly & consistency I admire very much. For instance, his opposition to the Iraq War is coupled with a genuine repulsion towards large, federal programs for . . . well, just about everything.

Anyhow, here's an excerpt from a speech Paul gave, as cited in a Whiskey & Gunpowder piece dealing with oil prices & the situation in Iraq:

We must reassess our foreign policy and announce some changes. One of the reasons we went into Iraq was to secure oil. Before the Iraq war, oil was less than $30 per barrel; today, it is over $70. The sooner we get out of Iraq and allow the Iraqis to solve their own problems, the better . . . We must end our obsession for a military confrontation with Iran. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, and, according to our own CIA, is nowhere near getting one. Yet the drumbeat grows louder for attacking certain sites in Iran, either by conventional or even nuclear means. An attack on Iran, coupled with our continued presence in Iraq, could hike gas prices to $5 or $6 per gallon here at home . . . We must remember that prices of all things go up because of inflation. Inflation by definition is an increase in the money supply . . . the Fed creates new dollars out of thin air to buy Treasury bills and keep interest rates artificially low. But when new money is created out of nothing, the money already in circulation loses value. Once this is recognized, prices rise . . . this contributes greatly to the higher prices we're all paying at the pump.

(Emphasis added). The piece also goes on to include a letter that Representative John Murtha wrote to President Bush. You may remember that Murtha, who served as a Marine in Vietnam, has spoken out rather vehemently, demanding that we withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. In his letter to the President, he states:

Despite the latest evidence that your administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory, there has been virtually no diplomatic effort to resolve sectarian differences, no regional effort to establish a broader security framework, and no attempt to revive a struggling reconstruction effort. Instead, we learned of your plans to redeploy an additional 5,000 U.S. troops into an urban war zone in Baghdad. Far from implementing a comprehensive 'Strategy for Victory,' as you promised months ago, your administration's strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat. Meanwhile, U.S. troops and taxpayers continue to pay a high price as your administration searches for a policy. Over 2,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice, and over 18,000 others have been wounded . . . American taxpayers have already contributed over $300 billion, and each week we stay in Iraq adds nearly $3 billion more to our record budget deficit . . . We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel . . . Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working. We need to take a new direction. We believe these recommendations comprise an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment, which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see.

Now my point here isn't whether I do or don't agree with both Paul & Murtha, though I think they're both on to something.

No. My point is they're doing something: speaking out, addressing problems, challenging executive power, looking out for their fellow citizens. And, at least superficially, these ideas seem based on something other than pleasing their "patrons" or looking for the next round of campaign dollars. I'm not denying that Murtha's riding the wave of anti-Bush sentiment. He is. But a look at the issues he supports (and doesn't) indicates a man with at least a shred of integrity. Not sure how many in the big building he works in can say the same.

As I (hopefully) read tonight that the voters of Connecticut said No to Joe, I'll remember what I've been saying and hopefully will say until November: unless our elected officials come out explicitly and demonstrate that they're looking out for their country or their constituency, we need to kick them out. If I lived in Texas or Pennsylvania, Paul & Murtha would've just gotten their stays of execution.

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This piece is cross-posted on Mike's Neighborhood.

Posted by Mike Rogers at 6:21 AM | Politics 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

I have to disagree with your basic assertions. They are in fact not "addressing problems" John Murtha has certainly done nothing more than pointed the finger and made disastrous accusations about our military. I would challenge anyone to show me what solutions he has put forth. He has yet to offer any solutions, unless you consider total and immediate withdrawal a solution. Is "challenging executive power" truly an admirable and needed venture? If his concern is issues regarding separation of powers then go after the judiciary they certainly have no respect for the constitution and the deliniation of powers. The only reason that Murtha and the left continue to cry about executive power is that they don't have it! So save me the "integrity" speech. John Murtha is an opportunistic buffoon.

Posted by: Tree Rat at August 8, 2006 9:28 AM

I'm curious about Ron Paul's statement that the CIA says Iran is "nowhere near getting" a nuclear weapon. The reports I've read about say that, at most Iran is five to ten years away, which, while better than it could be, is not far enough away to give me much comfort. Is there something I've missed?

Posted by: Jeff A at August 8, 2006 9:45 AM

"...unless you consider total and immediate withdrawal a solution"

I challenge you to show me where Murtha (or any Dem of significance for that matter) has demanded or recommended total and immediate withdrawal.

You won't find it, because it hasn't happened. It's a bullshit misrepresentation of the issue by the likes of Rush, FOX and GOP liars.

When the Executive Branch wakes up every morning looking for ways to expand its power, you better believe challenging that is admirable, and necessary.

Get back to me in a few years when there's a Democrat in the White House with the new "executive powers" and let me know how you feel, Bushmonkey.

Posted by: Mr Furious at August 8, 2006 9:46 AM


Tell 'em how you really feel!

I agree with you 100% when you say When the Executive Branch wakes up every morning looking for ways to expand its power, you better believe challenging that is admirable, and necessary

I think that just about sums it up. I'm not saying that Tree Rat doesn't have a point re the judiciary; there's much to explore there too.

But just because one branch is aggrandizing power, doesn't mean another isn't as well.

I'm sure there's some Latin phrase for the logical absurdity of that -- absurdum cum logos no veritas, or something -- but far be it for me to know either Latin or formal logic. I'm a lawyer; we don't really know anything.

Jeff A-

5-10 years is worth being concerned about. I have little, or no, patience for those who say we need not worry at all whether Iran gets nukes. That's ridiculous. We should care.

But 5-10 years, conversely, isn't a causus belli (hey! Latin . . . or is it Greek?). The Adminstration's beating the war drums . . . for a foe that can't harm us for as much as a decade. Keep the guns loaded, for sure, but diplomacy has to be the way to go for the time being.

Tree Rat-

I guess I covered what you said in my response to Furious, but please re-read two things:

1. I'm not "taking sides" here. I want good officials in, and bad ones out. You're taking sides, which is your right, but it's not an adequate response to what I said.

2. Murtha said -- in the letter I quoted -- that "We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel."

You may not agree, but there's the "solution he has put forth." He's not just talking; he's doing.

Posted by: Mike at August 8, 2006 10:08 AM

Causus belli is latin.

Bush and his henchmen have grabbed far too much power, but I don't blame them. Congress is so inbred and entrenched, that they simply sat there on their fat behinds and allowed their authority to wither away.

I prefer the oppostion party to the President to always have power in Congress. That is where the real checks and balances then lie.

What Murtha said is basically what he saw happen in Viet Nam. Not that the public was so against the war (which it was, and let's face it, a really big part of this country is against the Iraqi War as well, whether it's 49 or 51%) but how our government prosecutes conflict; in using our troops the way they are, and with what planning and equipment. As long as our soldiers are basically there day to day, waiting for bombers, nationbuilding, which is not a soldier's job, then they are being misused.

Iraq, like so much of the fundamentalist world, has been dragged down to the tribal level. He, like me I should say, simply doesn't want to see our young troops there for this conflict. Murtha did the job all of congress is supposed to do: step in and govern. Unlike a president, he can't do it alone.

I say when in doubt, never vote for the incumbent, vote them all out. Every single one. The republicans especially adbicated their power, and the democrats can't get their act together to be anything but a uselss oppostion. And never vote for a lawyer there either. Lawyers are so devoted to the process of anything, they forget there is supposed to be an end goal, not necesarily winning and losing, but maybe just getting something accomplished.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at August 8, 2006 10:56 AM

A couple of thoughts in response to previous posts:

I appreciate backing up your statement with evidence. I would disagree that his statement on "phased redeployment" differs greatly from the current policy. George Bush is also a proponent of phased redeployment.

As a Pennsylvanian who has watched John Murtha for years he is disingenuous, narcissistic, intellectually vacuous and now faces libel charges. While he states a concern for troops he thows out caustic comments that imperil those he claims to defend. He would do well to consider the original "voice in the wilderness", who pointed to someone/something greater than himself. From my seat John Murtha is all about John Murtha. If the left hitches their wagon to that star, they will crash.

Now regarding the statement "when the executive branch wakes up every morning looking for ways to expand its power", I agree too! That's a problem if that is the case, but unless you have access to the Bush bedroom that is nothing more than conjecture. A silly one I might add. If Bush has encroached on powers be specific. George Bush is one of the weakest presidents in memory, give me a break he's afraid to utilize the veto, let alone take power from another branch. The guy has had the unbelievable advantage of his party holding the majority in congress and has still struggled to implement his policies.

I shudder to think how the left will respond if we ever get a true conservative president.

Posted by: Tree Rat at August 8, 2006 6:12 PM

I don't see how the statement that the executive branch is looking for every opportunity to expand it's power is even vaguely debatable. First of all, Dick Cheney has talked about his desire to build executive power back to pre-Watergate levels for decades. Second, Bush has not only authorized surveillance programs that are arguably illegal, but he's claimed that it's basically treasonous to tell anyone, including most members of Congress, that they even exist. Whether that expansion of powers is a good thing or a bad thing is debatable, but I think whether it exists really is not.

Posted by: Jerry at August 8, 2006 8:37 PM

Tree Rat-

George Bush is also a proponent of phased redeployment.

When I see him do something in this regard -- as opposed to sending 5,000 soldiers to Iraq -- I'll agree that he's a proponent.

If you don't like Murtha, that's cool. I like what I've seen.

Jerry pretty much summed up the Executive Power point.

Posted by: Mike at August 9, 2006 10:01 AM
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