Saturday, October 15, 2011

Message to Guards


As you should know, several players have left our alliance in the last two days. While it has taken me some time and, sadly, great effort, I have gathered their collective group of complaints and reasons for departing. As you should also know, Trapperman is getting marrried tonight and has not been around for several days - as I'm certain you can understand. He won't be on for another 10 days while he is on honeymoon w/ Queso.

Since Dionysia left, I'm am the only remaining VH. It is my position that we honor our word and remain blue with GLADIUS and red with UNITED. Since we have been blue with GLAD, and conquered Carinthia together, GLAD has been true to its word, including passing two 14s to us and offering Trapper, myself and Dion a recurring shift in the capitol of Carinthia. That capitol, located at 700, 500, is now besieged by United. That war was started by United, which was blue with both GLADIUS and Guards prior to its porting in on the capitol, unannounced.

Many of the players who have departed complained of a distrust, if not outright hatred, of GLADIUS due to its past actions with regard to the ROM coalition and its war with us. I'm sure you have your own perception of GLAD.

My position to remain allies of GLAD is thus held against the prospect of future departures from the alliance. Since preserving the remaining strength of our membership is my first duty as VH, I think it best to poll the membership. To do so, I am requesting that each of you reply to htis message by alliance GROUP MAIL with one of ONLY two words.

YES (we stay BLUE with GLAD and RED with UNITED), or,

NO (which means we will then hold an election for a 2nd VH, who will control all alliance diplomacy until Trap returns).

The deadline for votes on the YES/NO question is 00:00 server time on Monday morning - approximately 25 hours from now. If you don't have the speakers to send a group mail, I have sent each of my FB friends a lesser speaker pack, which contains the two speakers needed to send a group mail. If you did not receive that gift, then please catch someone in AC and tell them to post your name and vote as a GROUP MAIL. If you don't know how to send a group mail, ask someone.

If there are not a total of 35 votes by the deadline, then we'll hold the polls open for additional time. If the required number of votes is met and the majority is a NO response, we'll hold an election for the 2nd VH immediately thereafter.

Finally, and I loathe to mention it, but please keep your group mail response limited to either YES or NO exclusively. If you feel the need to politic, please use AC or Skype for that purpose. Things are harried enough right now that none of us wants to sift through messages as long this one has, by necessity, become.

Now go do your part and vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Immunity We Trust

It takes so long to fashion a personally satisfying essay that I've trashed my last ten or so "efforts." While I've maintained a habit of tracking all sorts of outrageous behavior by the Bush administration, the Democratic (certainly not little "d") Congress and private market decision makers, the story never seems to change: the rich get richer and the poor poorer, while taxpayer money is used to socialize the risk of institutions that have (and will continue to) privatize their profit. See here, or the J.P. Morgan and the Fed-supported bailout of Bear Stearns, the Fed's ridiculous TAF facility used to prop up the remaining investment banks, and the more recent UST-supported "backstop" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

So, after months of this same old story, there was finally one act that was so disgraceful I simply had to get it down on virtual paper. A few weeks ago, you may have read about Congress passing a "modernization" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In the most profligate act (so far) of this current Congress, the bill included a White House-supported provision that granted retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that assisted the Bush administration in illegally (though not decreed by a court of law) wiretapping U.S. citizens within the United States. "It could not be clearer that this program broke the law, and this president broke the law," Senator Feingold said. He said the measure makes "some improvements" in the program, "but those changes are not nearly enough to justify supporting the bill." "I do not support a result that says the president of the United States, whoever he is, is above the law," said Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. "This bill makes the federal courts the handmaiden to a cover-up."
You may have even heard numerous Obamatons (TM*) screeching that their messiah betrayed them by supporting the passage of that bill. But, as usual, that's not the whole story.

In fact, prior to the Senate's vote on the full FISA bill, Senator Christopher Dodd proposed an amendment to the bill that removed only the immunity provision. That amendment was voted down 32-66, with 2 senators not voting. Here's how your senator voted:

YEAs ---32
Akaka (D-HI); Baucus (D-MT); Biden (D-DE); Bingaman (D-NM); Boxer (D-CA); Brown (D-OH); Byrd (D-WV); Cantwell (D-WA); Cardin (D-MD); Casey (D-PA); Clinton (D-NY);
Dodd (D-CT); Dorgan (D-ND); Durbin (D-IL); Feingold (D-WI); Harkin (D-IA); Kerry (D-MA); Klobuchar (D-MN); Lautenberg (D-NJ); Leahy (D-VT); Levin (D-MI); Menendez (D-NJ);
Murray (D-WA); Obama (D-IL); Reed (D-RI); Reid (D-NV); Sanders (I-VT); Schumer (D-NY); Stabenow (D-MI); Tester (D-MT); Whitehouse (D-RI); Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---66
Alexander (R-TN); Allard (R-CO); Barrasso (R-WY); Bayh (D-IN); Bennett (R-UT); Bond (R-MO); Brownback (R-KS); Bunning (R-KY); Burr (R-NC); Carper (D-DE); Chambliss (R-GA); Coburn (R-OK); Cochran (R-MS); Coleman (R-MN); Collins (R-ME); Conrad (D-ND); Corker (R-TN); Cornyn (R-TX); Craig (R-ID); Crapo (R-ID); DeMint (R-SC); Dole (R-NC);
Domenici (R-NM); Ensign (R-NV); Enzi (R-WY); Feinstein (D-CA); Graham (R-SC); Grassley (R-IA); Gregg (R-NH); Hagel (R-NE); Hatch (R-UT); Hutchison (R-TX); Inhofe (R-OK); Inouye (D-HI); Isakson (R-GA); Johnson (D-SD); Kohl (D-WI); Kyl (R-AZ); Landrieu (D-LA); Lieberman (ID-CT); Lincoln (D-AR); Lugar (R-IN); Martinez (R-FL); McCaskill (D-MO);
McConnell (R-KY); Mikulski (D-MD); Murkowski (R-AK); Nelson (D-FL); Nelson (D-NE); Pryor (D-AR); Roberts (R-KS); Rockefeller (D-WV); Salazar (D-CO); Sessions (R-AL); Shelby (R-AL); Smith (R-OR); Snowe (R-ME); Specter (R-PA); Stevens (R-AK); Sununu (R-NH); Thune (R-SD); Vitter (R-LA); Voinovich (R-OH); Warner (R-VA); Webb (D-VA); Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting - 2
Kennedy (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)

In case you missed the point, only 32 of 100 United States Senators voted in favor of allowing court proceedings to continue to determine whether the telcos acted illegally in acquiescing to the Bush administration's request to wiretap domestic communications without a warrant. There was never an argument that the telco's acts (as well as the Bush directive) were legal under the Fourth Amendment or FISA, because those acts clearly were not. As more details on the wiretapping are uncovered, we learn that telcos that refused to indulge the government's illegal demands BEFORE 9/11 were punished through the cancellation of their government contracts and/or the opportunity to bid on future contracts. Instead, the argument (what little there was) was whether the telcos should be granted immunity for breaking the law because the President requested it of them. This proposition was resoundingly answered in the affirmative, albeit by a "nay" vote. Thus, 66 United States Senators implicitly condoned the notion that private actors can violate your constitutional rights with impunity, but without consequence, if instructed to do so by the Executive branch. This votes represents a breathtaking abdication of duty by these Senators to defend the Constitution, and I'm simply flabbergasted that very few citizens have stopped to give it a second thought. Have we as citizens become so lazy and disconnected that we simply don't care about such violations? Has our government become so corrupt that it will allow such violations of its citizenry's basic rights in exchange for a "practical solution" propounded over countless campaign donation dinners?

Interestingly, of the few names I bolded above, there were some surprises. Evan Bayh and Jim Webb, both potential Obama VP candidates, voted with Bush, on baseless grounds. Claire McCaskill, a long-time member of Obama's national campaign team, toed the Bush line as well. Chuck Hagel and John Warner, while both Republicans, were, in my mind, honorable, law and order gentleman. Apparently that's not the case when it comes to telco immunity. And McCain as absent, give me a break, are you planning more vacation than Bush as President or just joining him in a nonchalant trampling of my civil liberties?

Following up on this most traitorous of acts, the Senate met last Saturday to push through housing reform legislation. While the waterfront has generally been covered on this legislation, there are a few exceptions. How about most private merchants being required to report details of each electronic transaction they process to the federal government? Surely you heard about that? Even better, imagine a simple amendment offered by Senator Demint that would prevent the employees of the government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from making political contributions when the funds to pay their salaries may come from government bailout funds? Should such an amendment be allowed to be offered and debated? The answer according to Senator Harry Reid: apparently not.

I'm beginning to think that the next administration, which, along with the congress, I believe is likely to be Democrat-controlled, may be practically no different than the six years of Bush/Republican control from the 2000-2006 election cycles. Continued protection of deviant insiders and a continuing move away from the interests and rights of the average American seems to be the course shaping up for the resurgent Democrats. With homogeneous behavior such as this, why should parties matter any longer? Is the only current goal of our elected representatives simply to be re-elected? If so, why should we oblige when the results, from both sides of the aisle, appear to be equally detrimental to the interests of the country's citizens? Am I disgusted? Indeed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Danica "Partick" Does it At Last

Almost two years ago, I offered my considered opinion on the ESPN-engendered charade that was Danicamania. Well, Danicamania is back, because she's now a winner, first to cross under the checkered flag at the Indy Japan 300. Here's Partick as a winner, fiercely working her first money shot.

(AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

While this may not be news to you, or for many perhaps, I have an odd affinity for Danica Partick stories. It's gotten to the point where I can't even spell her name correctly, as you may have noticed (most don't). Seem strange? Let me explain.

Every visit to this website is tracked, and it's done for free through a service called stat counter. The service lets me know who comes here, and how they got here (keywords, search engine, etc.). BFD, right? Well, it also serves as my window to the world wide web. And what have I learned by looking into that window?

Of all the admittedly brilliant essays I've composed, the most popular on the web is my Danica Partick post. Nevermind that my other essays skillfully characterized Bush as a modern-day Richard III, provided piercing insight on The Curse of Rocky Balboa and presciently unveiled our neighbors' phantom wealth. Instead, it was an isolated incident in which I published an unedited piece misspelling Patrick as "Partick" that has brought me my small share of Internet renown. You can imagine my horror. The web, however, smiled at my spelling mistake and has since kept that essay as a consistent first page reference on Google for every person on the planet innocently making the same "Partick" error. For those of us who champion proper spelling, we can be comforted by stat counter's recognition of my essay on amending the Constitution as my second-most read item. And, after much reflection, I've come to appreciate my "Partick" visitors. So, now that my steadiest readers, as well the at marginally dyslexic Partick typers, have come in big numbers, here's my take on her victory:

Certainly having suffered since the halcyon days of Danicamania, Dainca is now primed to be an even bigger star. In 2006, the date of my original post, Dania had over 3600 Google news mentions after finishing eighth the Indy 500, the IRL's top event in the United States. Her recent Indy Japan 300 victory has only garnered 2371 Google mentions for the past week, though the decidedly uncelebrated Sam King is ahead of the herd in suggesting that Danica's critics simply won't be satisfied with one victory every three years. Even Detroit now has Partick defenders. A seemingly female commentator took the brave step of dismissing the Anna Kournikova analogy only moments after Danica's victory, writing "Although it would have been nice for Patrick's first win to have come on home turf in America - and in prime time - there should be no more comparisons to tennis' Anna Kournikova, who built a reputation based on glamour but never won a title, despite coming tantalizingly close several times." Didn't hate on Anna explicitly, but clawed her implicitly-- how very feminine for Steve Herman.

Though I certainly don't aspire to argument with Sam, Freeps or the Stevie Herman, I'm afraid that the more likely truth is that Danica's victory was cleverly timed to correspond with the impending Indy 500. To recap, Partick didn't lead the race for any extended period of time-- the lap leader pitted for fuel with five laps to go, and Danica passed the new leader, Helio Castroneves (yes, the "Dancing with the Stars" guy), with only two laps to go, and only after Castroneves slowed down to conserve fuel and finish in a top position to preserve his spot atop the standings in the nascent IRL season.

After the race, a likely prodded Castroneves quipped "with five laps to go, I was saving fuel,... when Danica passed me, I realized she was the leader. She did a great job, passed me fair and square and that shows you how competitive our series is." Helio rehashed the same quote later, but a bit more "on-message", explaining "In recognition of Danica's talents, she did a good job. She passed me fair and square," Castroneves said. "I didn't have enough fuel to fight with her and I guess it's part of history. She was very competitive."

Patrick has improved her craft over the last few years, finishing seventh last year in the overall IRL standings for 2007. Still, the Indy Japan 300 was a bittersweet victory at best. Imagine a first PGA victory for a well-publicized upstart against Tiger Woods, where Woods, after watching his playing partner hit the green for a tournament-winning birdie attempt, lays up on the 18th to protect his lead for the future prospect of a season title. While the upstart still has to make the short putt, that putt does not make him a hero or provide any honor to his victory.

Viewing the Danica victory in the same context, it seems all too convenient coming in time for the Indy 500. But don't believe me, check ESPN or your local sports newscast on the morning of Memorial Day, and I'll bet you'll be barraged by news of Danica's victory in the Japan 300, as well as numerous glamour shots to induce some hillbillies to buy Axe body spray.

As the video below from The Racing Capital of the World indicates, Partick better keep her heel to the floor if she wants to survive in Indianapolis. Rumor has it that Jessica Vasquez will be out in time to compete in the 500, maybe in the McDonald's car. Told you that bitch was crazy.

Wonder who's she supporting in the upcoming primary? Her party affiliation is irrelevant, as Indiana has open primaries (well, sort of).

I may travel to Indianapolis for the festivities, financing the trip through sales of "Past is Prologue" t-shirts. Be sure to check back later for pictures. To save both of us time, I'll monitor the "Partick" counter and report back after Memorial Day. Until then, you can worry about our lesser problems.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballpark

As April begins, the doldrums inspired by a Northwest winter begin to fade. The stage is being opened as baseball fields across North America are manicured with a standard of care rarely seen outside the walls of Augusta National. Hundreds of thousands of players, ranging from grizzled veteran specialist relievers to six-year old teeballers, will play organized baseball in the months to come. Tens of millions will witness the games, and each individual's experience will be different. Some spectators are avid fans, keeping score by hand while listening to the local radio broadcast on handsets so technologically anachronistic that you now have to go to a second-hand store to find one. Other visitors to the park may care less about the particulars, attending to cheer on their favorite player, their spouse or children. Still others will be there simply based on consequence-- being drug along by a Fever Pitch-like spouse or succumbing to the siren's song of dollar beer night. All of these characters and more are on display nearly every night at a baseball park near you.

My love of baseball, like many other avid fans, stems from my childhood. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family and neighborhood that supported outdoor recreation, including baseball. I treasure memories of slapping a Wiffle ball over a chain link fence and, later, encountering for the first time the realm of competitive sports and, as often the youngest participant, the concepts of hierarchy and machismo. Equally rewarding were trips to Busch Stadium attending St. Louis Cardinals games, where I saw greats such as Ozzie Smith in the prime of his career and oddities like backup catcher Glen Brummer (4 career stolen bases) stealing home plate in the extra-innings of the second game of a midsummer doubleheader. I continued playing baseball, first at catcher, then right field and, on a very few occasions late in that period, as a pitcher. At age 15, other organized sports began to dominate my time and baseball's importance began to fade from my memory.

In the summer of 2002, I fell in love with baseball again, but this time as a spectator. During that time, I was working extremely long hours in a job and city that had closed in around me. All the concrete, collating and commuting created in me an unconscious yearning for things pastoral. I only found succor by happenstance-- a chance encounter with an old friend that had tickets for that evening's Mets game. I don't remember much of anything about the opponent or outcome, but everything about the sights, sounds and spirit of the ballpark that night. For the first time in years, I was back in the stands, amongst the fray Americana, this time at Shea Stadium. Adults cursing in the company of toddlers, $7 beers disappearing into the bellies of middle-aged men and women faster than the chances for democracy in Iraq, and women dressed in clothes that clearly indicated their concerns were aimed at an entirely different kind of box score-- all these sights and more captured my attention, freeing me from the shackles of my urba-corprafessional existence. In an odd way, I felt more a part of the New York City community that evening than I ever did, before or after the episode. This wildly diverse population gathered around the diamond with individual agendas but shared an experience of community and focus, if only for select moments: the National Anthem, the first pitch. I'm among a select few who will never forget the foul ball laced towards the home dugout, flying over our heads, and coming to its first resistance-- a hard, twined missile meeting flush the forehead of one truly unfortunate. Paying attention to nothing other than her cellphone, the poor girl never saw it coming. An admittedly larger fraction of fans collectively suffered the seemingly endless number of planes departing La Guardia, and surely the seventh inning stretch and sing meets that criteria as well. The girl hit by the ball? While seemingly recovered of her faculties upon receiving seat-side care, I doubt she'll see much of worth in this essay.

After that evening, I made the baseball park my refuge. Over time, I joined fantasy leagues, absorbed statistics and learned baseball strategy, technique and history. Having this knowledge enhances my current experiences at the park, and I now look back on my baseball youth (and to some extent general youth) with some disdain, for I failed at that time to contemplate the significance or complexities of the game I was playing. In those days it was close your eyes and swing as hard as you can; throw it as hard and fast as you can. Strategy was never learned, technique never sought and history inconsequential-- the perfect form of childrens' entertainment, but an endless source of regret for we thirty-year old arm-chair athletes.

So now I go to the park for the game, where informed observation gives me endless pleasure as each day I can witness the competition, with the joy of winning and quizzical gapes of disappointment on display for all to see, each and every night over the course of a long season. If you come out often enough, you'll see the both the best and the worst of our species. I've witnessed the excitement of a rookie pitcher throwing a brilliant no-hitter on the road, standing triumphantly before a cheering throng that fate will likely never embellish upon him again. I've also seen managers throw tirades that would stun even the most unruly of infants.

And it's not only managers that misbehave on the field-- baseball has a long history of players losing their wits and assaulting other players, sometimes even fans. In one famous incident, Ty Cobb allegedly (I wasn't there--here's the best source I found) climbed in the stands to reprimand a heckler, mercilessly beating the disabled man, who was equipped with only one hand, albeit of three fingers.

The legend continues that Cobb was suspended and, three days later, went to the park that day with his teammates. When Cobb was refused entry onto the field, his teammates protested, refusing to play. Team management was prepared, and fielded a contingent of semi-pro players hurriedly stitched together only hours before. Allen Travers was the only pitcher on the roster that day, tossing all eight frames, surrendered 14 earned runs on 26 hits en route to a 24-2 whitewashing. Travers never played another major league game and, after a life as an educator, died in 1968. Cobb watched the game from the stands, returning to the professional game days later. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 by 98.23% of those voting.

That is baseball to me-- the shared experience occasionally sprinkled with heroic triumph and ghastly misdeed, every game at every level being played by the same rules and holding the same initial possibility of greatness. What more can one ask for from a summer's evening?

Finally, a word on the present state of Major League Baseball. While many bemoan the presence of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport and others immerse themselves in statistics and decry a perceived lack of parity in the leagues, I stridently ignore such balderdash, believing that baseball, as a shared experience, is reflective of society. People cheat and score is always being kept--if players are stupid enough (and owners greedy enough to allow players) to risk health and future compensation for additional strength in a game that demands precision, not brawn, then that's their fault, not the game's. The game is still pure, despite the protestations of biased writers and morons barking on sports talk radio. Outside of the pundits, a cottage industry of insidious stat-checkers has sprung up and all of the sudden half of the world believes it can predict the outcome of an entire baseball season months in advance of its actual conclusion. Certainly a club's money and its players' statistics matter to some extent, but each game starts with a clean slate, 0-0 with at least twenty-seven chances to score. The performances of each individual day in the context of an entire season are the meat of baseball, not an extended streak of excellence or a career of legendary long balls. Today's superstar may be tomorrow's journeyman minor leaguer. While I'm not often wont to support Joe Morgan, he did make his one excellent point of this season already, quipping on Opening Day, "you can use statistics to embellish the point, just don't let it be the point." Statistics alone can never predict a particular success or failure, and certainly can't capture the most important aspect of the game-- how will that player perform today?

So, this summer, I hope you may benefit from the contents of this essay as I have for seasons past. Take yourself out to the ballpark. Sneak in some peanuts and cracker jacks. Pay attention to the game if you want, but definitely pay attention for foul balls. Cheer for the players or get wasted and heckle the other team and umpires: the ballpark is your stage too. My bet is that you won't care if you ever come back. Play ball!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Solving the Iraq Crisis Through Legislative Action: The letter that started a revolution

Since posting yesterday's essay, I've had a chance to reflect on some of my own thoughts and believe I may have found the ideal way for Congress to end the war in Iraq on terms we, as Americans, can all live with. To best understand my proposed solution, I think its best that you read yesterday's essay for background on the Constitutional powers of each branch at play here and the concept of supplemental budget requests. If you feel familiar with those concepts or have already read "yesterday's effort" on them, then please continue. I'm so convinced this solution will work that I sent it to numerous United States Senators. Absent pleasantries, the text below is the same that was sent to them, under the heading, "Solving the Iraq Crisis Through Legislative Action." Here goes:

Congress should respond to Bush's supplemental budget request with funding that lasts until a date certain. To make this solution politically feasible, the Democrats would have to publicly set a deadline (say Bush's benchmark from last night that control of all Iraqi provinces is ceded to Iraqis by November) and only provide funding for operations up to that date. Since the next meaningful supplemental budget request is due in mid-February, the Democrats could announce the November deadline and send such a bill to Bush with ample notice of the deadline. Only three possible scenarios could result:

If Bush doesn't sign it, he's looks like he does not believe in his own program and, in that light, does not deserve the money anyway. The next logical step from there is an announcement and appropriation that provides a significantly lesser amount of money with the expressed, yet unwritten purpose of the money being used for redeployment. If Bush does not sign this, then the war effort, in terms of funding, is at an impasse via legislative impudence-- a stalemate. A storied and ennobled Congress faces an empowered yet ignominious executive. In this zero sum battle, assuming a significant majority of public opinion remains as it does today (against an expansion of the war), then "public opinion" tilts the scale in favor of Congress. Public opinion has to mean something, doesn't it?

If Bush does approve the deadlined appropriation and things don't get better in Iraq by November (less casualties, economic development and some semblance of civil tranquility), then he's had every chance and we should redeploy our troops to perform a limited function: to protect American interests in Iraq (read: oil, just maybe). Before redeploying in such a fashion, Congress passes a new war powers resolution that funds this small, relatively inert peacekeeping force in Iraq, while clearly stating that any foreign intervention in Iraq's government or military institutions or any strike against its interests is an act of war against the United States. Thus, the Iraqis are not only motivated but required to broker an internal solution and any group or nation who thinks to meddle in or attack Iraq will do so with knowledge that such action will immediately qualify them for a rain of space age Nintendo weapons they will never forget. As an aside, a provision for determining the identity of the meddler/attacker should contain a preponderance of the evidence standard to avoid any WMD type fiasco. We fixed the intelligence problem, right?

Finally, if Bush signs the deadlined appropriation and, through the determination that only comes when one is working against a deadline, things do get better, then we all win and can close this sad chapter of American history. Thereafter, perhaps Americans could summon the wherewithal to solve significant domestic problems like initiating significant funding for the research and development of sustainable energy, resolving equitably the Social Security/Medicare funding crisis and addressing the immigration issue before the "us vs. them" rhetoric metastasizes and tensions boil over into social disorder.

Now, that's a plan we can all live with.
[Update: (1/30/06) Looks like our Congress has heard my words. Senator Feingold, a recipient of the above letter, opened the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Exercising Congress’s Constitutional Power to End a War” with these words:

“Tomorrow, I will introduce legislation that will prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment. By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the President to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm’s way. This legislation will allow the President adequate time to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq, and it will make specific exceptions for a limited number of U.S. troops who must remain in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism and training missions and protect U.S. personnel. It will not hurt our troops in any way ­– they will continue receiving their equipment, training and salaries. It will simply prevent the President from continuing to deploy them to Iraq. By passing this bill, we can finally focus on repairing our military and countering the full range of threats that we face around the world.”

Later the same day, Senator Obama, who also received my letter, said today from the Senate floor that he will be introducing legislation entitled the "Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007," in which Congress would require a redeployment of U.S. combat forces to start by May of this year and be completed by March 2008. Moreover, The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the thirteen benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met and that the suspension is in the national security interest of the United States."

So, given these "new" policies, it's clear that my letter set the Democratic (little "d" too) policy revolution into motion. Such is the power of words, which, in this case, only needed to be made available to our representatives who so treasure the input of citizens, and especially that of citizens not from their districts. A lesson from this bit of wisdom could not be more clearly enunciated than by Henry David Thoreau who cleverly formulated: "It takes two to speak the truth — one to speak and another to hear."

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