Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX 26) sent out his periodic newsletter via email today to his constituents. If you've ever emailed him, you probably received a couple of these. Most of the folks I know got two copies. The letter is in grey, my comments in the white area:
Our presence in Iraq is a critical component of the War on Terror. Today’s recommendations by the Iraq Study Group are aimed at returning the United States to its place as the watchdog of democracy and freedom for people all over the world.
Whoa... So much crap here... Our presence a "critical component of the 'War on Terror'". Would that be the component that foments the terror? Maybe the part that provides a target for the terrorists?
"Watchdog of democracy and freedom?" Michael, you and your Republican cohorts have been more lap-dog than watchdog here in OUR country. Freedom and democracy are to be cherished, preserved, and guarded, but it starts at home. Your assertion that we should be the watchdog for the world is authoritarian and wrong. We are to be the shining example of freedom and democracy, lending a helping hand in times of crisis to countries where the people want us there. While I don't disagree that Iraqis needed more freedom and democracy, there are now and have been more pressing needs.
The most critical component of the recommendations focuses on the need for the Iraq government to step-up its responsibility of serving, protecting and providing for their countrymen. I could not agree more with this point; it is not an open ended commitment.
If it's not an open-ended commitment, then we should define the time-table under which we should leave.
We continue to train and encourage the Iraq Security Forces so that they will sooner, rather than later, be able to take the reigns of control completely. This is a recognized goal, and we are taking the actions to make it a reality. As soon as we can confidently depart Iraq, knowing it can defend itself, we will.
So if we want to encourage them to step up, why are we sending 40,000 more troops?
However, we must remember this is not simply a matter of Iraq taking care of itself. It remains an important player in Middle East politics. A tentative balance of power in the Middle East continues, but should it falter, there would be a consider threat to the peace of the entire region which will inevitably spread across the globe. The negative ramifications of this failure could be felt for generations to come.
Right. I remember the same being said about communism. Vietnam... When South Vietnam fell to the communists, how many countries "fell as dominoes?"
It should come as no surprise that a powerful and vindictive Iran is waiting in the wings. As Iran gains nuclear power, its prominence and sway over the region will present an unprecedented threat to peace everywhere. Iraq must stand as the beacon of democracy and be able to balance the power of her surrounding neighbors who are openly hostile to any form of freedom.
Neighbors like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia too? Should we be concerned about Iran? Absolutely, but there is no reason for a pre-emptive strike. We don't need to be as concerned about Iraq's ability to defend its borders. Iraq needs to secure its streets. If you're telling me that we're training security forces in traditional combat, that scares me.
I plan to return to Iraq soon and review the progress of the Iraq Security Forces. They are being trained by the best in the world - our United States Armed Forces. I know that our soldiers have done all we have asked of them.
Before you waste our tax dollars on another joy ride to Iraq, why don't you resolve to venture outside the green zone and LISTEN. As a Member of Congress, you should know that you're seeing a dog-and-pony show each time you go. You are in the way, and making difficulties for the troops that must support your visit and protect you. They're not going to let you see anything they don't want you to see. I'm telling you this as someone that has actually served in the military.
But I also go to Iraq to meet face-to-face with new leaders I the Iraq government so I can share my political and governing experience in a complex and partisan government.
Your "governing experience in a complex and partisan government?" That's priceless. You're about half right. It definitely has been a complex and partisan government during your tenure, but your party fails to actually govern, so your experience can't count for very much. In all seriousness, your statement assumes that Iraq can be governed in a similar way to the United States. I just don't think that is the case.
I hope that all Members of Congress, in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle, will remember our overarching goal – to defend our homeland and to seek freedom for all. I will carefully and diligently review and support the best of the recommendations.
Yes, those are worthy goals - but they have nothing to do with our presence in Iraq. We are there as the result of a mistake at best. The only goal that should apply here are mitigating this mistake, and exiting in an honorable way. The protection of our troops and the lives of innocent Iraqis can be our only concern. The destabilizing presence of our troops must come to an end. The sooner the better.
If you read regularly, you may recall that I wrote recently about My son's first letter to Congress. My 7-year old son wrote about his favorite topic: Sharks. (They are hunted for their fins, a delicacy in parts of Asia)
Congressman Burgess wrote back promptly, and it wasn't the usual squishy form letter full of blind partisan dogma, but a very well researched and thoughtful letter not only addressing my son's concerns in detail, but thanking him for his activism. When I get a chance, I'll post the letter.
I appreciate that very much and applaud him and/or his staff for taking the time. I think it is important for children to learn early how to articulate their opinions and actively engage their government for solutions to the problems they see.
So although I normally publish a different picture of Rep. Burgess, this one will go undoctored. (no pun intended). Seth is the one next to Rep. Burgess, (3rd from left) with the obnoxious display of over-enthusiasm for yet another family political outing.
The 3,000th official US troop death of the Iraq war/occupation was reached on Sunday, Dec. 31. Also not to be forgotten are the estimated 650,000 Iraqi deaths.
In memorium and to ask for immediate US troop withdrawl, please join us at 3:30 pm on MONDAY, JANUARY 1 at North Texas Bl and I-35 (Denton). Dress warmly as the high is predicted to only be 50 F. (this is an earlier starting time than previously stated)
As of this writing there are now 2,990 2998 (12/30) reported KIA in Iraq for a lie. The past month has seen an increase in military operations by both the Allied forces and the insurgents, with resulting increase beyond the average of approximately 3 KIA daily prior to that time. The 3,000th will probably be Friday or Saturday, Dec 29 or Dec 30
The plan is for a demonstration in support of the troops and against the war day to be held the day AFTER the 3,000th KIA is announced on the website http://icasualties.org/oif
The vigil is intended for 5pm-7pm in the area of North Texas Blvd and I-35, near the main entrance to UNT. (TAKE THE NORTH TX BLVD EXIT FROM EITHER DIRECTION ON I-35) Bernie will be coming up from Carrollton with his large VFP banners which we intend to display facing traffic on the N. TX Blvd overpass bridge to provide mass visual impact to the maximum number of persons.
Space will be limited there, so if a large number of people show up I suggest that they line the sidewalk(s) from the corner in towards UNT. North TX Blvd is a 20mph zone in that area with sufficient curves and corners that it should slow down even any potential hostile motorists, such as the guy at Burgess' office in Lewisville last summer.
If anybody needs sign making materials I have a few yard signs collected from the last election available for your use. Email David Honish or call David at 940-382-2790.
WEATHER? My mother did not raise any fools dumb enough to stand out in the rain. (Well at least not more than once, as we saw at the Old Courthouse Sq last March.) If there is rain let us postpone the event for a day, rather than risk anyone's health standing out in bad weather!
From the "If it ain't fixed, break it" department: On December 18th, the Lewisville City Council passed an ordinance banning the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the City of Lewisville.
19. Consideration of an Ordinance Amending the Lewisville Code of Ordinances Prohibiting the Use of Wind Turbines for the Generation of Electric Power Within The City of Lewisville.
ADMINISTRATIVE COMMENTS: Commercial windmill farms are becoming more common in Texas, generating pollution free electric power in larger and larger amounts. Typically these windmills, or wind turbines, are found in sparsely populated locations outside of metropolitan areas. There is, however, increasing interest in using private wind generators for producing electric power for individual home use. Published information about individual wind turbines indicates that such towers would range from 45 to 85 feet in height, but also express concerns about the noise made by the turbines. It is possible that future technology will provide a less intrusive way of harnessing energy from the wind, but until then the current technology would appear to provide more of a noise nuisance than benefit when used on individual lots within an urban area.
RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council approve the proposed ordinance prohibiting the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the City of Lewisville.
OK, something just doesn't smell right to me about this. Did we really have a problem with too many wind turbines within the city limits? I sincerely doubt that "noise" is the issue here, since most of the city is in the extremely noisy flight-path of DFW Airport, or along the extremely noisy I-35 corridor. A light "whup, whup" sound in the background might actually be soothing, compared to the ambient noise levels in the city. I can certainly understand the sense that you wouldn't want to have these within tightly packed residential neighborhoods, but if that were the motivation, then why not just enact zoning regulations for them, with appropriate setbacks and decibel levels?
I've requested more information from the City, and will update this post when I receive it.
Most of Texas' wind farm generation comes from West Texas, and feeds the grid for consumption mostly along the I-35 corridor. Transmission congestion for the 375KV Texas power grid has throttled Texas wind generation quite frequently lately according to ERCOT records, with the generators producing more voltage than the grid can handle. Upwards of 30% of the power generated is lost via transmission. Relocating power generation sources closer to the point of usage requires less generation. Of all power sources, wind energy is the most environmentally friendly.
I think the city should reconsider this ordinance, and hear cases for wind generation on their individual merits.