Monday, May 29, 2006

Rumsfeld's Troop Decisions Come Back to Haunt U.S.

There will be a lot of words written about the U.S. Marines who allegedly murdered civilans at Haditha, Iraq, over the next few weeks. Most of them will concern what allegedly happened between the Iraqis and the Marines. Relatively few of them will concern Rumsfeld's decision to try and fight this war on the cheap. Yet, it is that decision that led to what happened at Haditha.

Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff back in 2002, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that "several hundred thousand troops would be needed to "put an end to the violence against our troops and against each other." He based his testimony on the American experience in the Kosovo, where there was a ratio of 1 soldier for every 1000 people. That candor led to this rebuke from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who called his estimate "wildly off the mark" and said, "I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down." Rumsfeld himself was reported to have called Shinseki's testimony "bullshit".

So, where are we at three years and counting since our invasion? We have a ongoing insurgency in Iraq. We have lost many more men since the war "ended" than we did during the war itself, and now we have reports of American Marines murdering Iraqi civilans. If the arrogant idiots who run the Defense Department had listened to a professional military man instead of each other, a lot of the tragedy of the last three years would have been avoided. Putting several hundred thousand troops in Iraq would have reduced the chances of the insurgency and avoided the breakdown of law and order that followed the fall of Hussein.

Of course, that didn't happen in the faith-based presidency of George W. Bush. Because, after all, why would you listen to experts when you are convinced that you are doing God's work?
MCDAC hereby grants permission to use this work without attribution.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reform Proposal: Increase Size of the U.S. House

Currently there are 435 members of the House of Representatives. This means that each Representative represents over 685,000 people in Congress. In some cases, such as the Representative from South Dakota, there is only one Representative for the entire state. All of these members have to run every two years, and, because of the size of their districts, they have to raise a lot of money to run competitive campaigns.

Almost every proposal to reform campaigns for Congress involves cutting down contributions, but they are never successful. Here is an idea that hasn't been tried: reduce the cost of campaigns. How? By tripling or even quadrupling the size of the House of Representatives. Go from the present size of 435 Representatives to 1305 or even 1740 Representatives.

By increasing the size of Congress, you would decrease the cost of campaigning. Instead of representing 685,000 people, each member would be representing 228,000 people at 1305 Representatives or 171,000 people at 1740. It is much easier to advertise yourself to 228,000 people or 171,000 people than it is to 685,000.

Cities would pick up more representatives, and so would suburbs, and small towns. It would be much easier for members of Congress to stay in touch with their constituents if they were representing fewer people. It would also be easier to mount challenges to such members because the cost of campaigning would be less.

The present size of the House of Representatives has been at this number since Hawaii and Alaska came into the Union. During the time, the population of the United States has increased dramatically. It is time to bring Congress back in touch with the people by increasing the number of Representatives. In fact, it is overdue.