Who is Paying Your Policitians’ Salaries?

If no, then now you can find out exactly.

LegiStorm – The Web’s only source for congressional staff salaries

Of course, one only gets the sinking feeling that many perks suddenly cease to be classified as compensation, and this site will become worthless.

But, until then…

Measuring Success

Marketplace: Let’s be objective about pulling out of Iraq

What is true is that the General Accountability Office has had an unassailable record as a disinterested assessor of the country’s affairs. The GAO is usually media shy for reasons that are well understood. They carry studies and investigations, and they release the results to the government and the public at large, and they let their findings speak for themselvs. This low-profile behavior is entirely consistent with the mission of a non-partisan body. This is why the GAO is venerated.

So, you know things are bad when the head of the GAO, the Comptroller General, feels the need to publicly warn against drawing any conclusions about how the Iraqi conflict is unraveling. It should be alarming when Mr. David Walker (our Comptroller General) asserts that we are dispensing with the process of gauging success altogether. In other words, although metrics exist for assessing the situation, the US government is either ignoring them or refusing to apply the metrics. Therefore, we cannot know whether what we are doing in Iraq will ever meet success.

Ignorance is bliss, as they say, but this bliss will be short-lived. As William Sloan Coffin said, “Hell is truth seen too late.” If we can measure our progress to success, then we can move forward confidently. If we insist on blindly working toward failure, then our standing as a global power will be lost forever. The former scenario is logical, essential. The latter scenario is unthinkable. Absent good metrics, as Mr. Walker states, we don’t know the scenario in which we live.

Is ignorance bliss?

Typical Day in Baghdad

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Shooting victims found in Baghdad

As the drumbeat of “staying the course” in Iraq and not “cutting and running” drowns out the voices of reality in Iraq, the daily calamities that befall the miserable masses of the cradle of modern civilization are erased from the minds of those who march willingly to this tune. Lost with the memories are reasons for pursuing the conflict further. Lost is compassion for people who die daily for a conflict that was not of their choosing. Lost is the sense of purpose that ought to drive our resolve.

At first American blood was to be shed for the purposes of democracy. Now it is being shed for the purpose of halting an increasingly hardened and horribly violent insurgency. When the Iraqi prime minister makes a formal visit to Ahmadinejad in Iran, Democracy is a perverse fantasy, and there is no victory to be claimed when the death toll from the insurgency rises daily.

The drums beat, the soldiers march, and the cradle of modern civilization is destroyed. Who is more pitiable? The Iraqis who die daily, or the inured soldiers who have no sight of the destination to which they charge?