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We can’t wait much longer to fix Congress


Fri, Dec 9th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

I am a great fan of Congress. It is, to my mind, the American institution that best represents our democracy and guards our freedoms.Without it, there is no way for our nation to guarantee freedom, ensure that the passions of the moment are cooled in deliberate debate, or check the power of the President.So I am distressed to say that at the moment, I am not a fan of how Congress operates, or fails to operate. Indeed, there are now so many serious issues that have been allowed to spiral out of control and so many problems going unresolved that Congress, as an institution, is in deep trouble.In particular, I believe that:Congress has allowed the budget to get out of control.It has become far too responsive to narrow special interests.It has refused to deal effectively with the fragility of our electoral process.It is exceptionally polarized.Fairness in the legislative process has broken down.It has refused to look seriously at reshaping itself to deal with the nation’s current challenges.Its members spend too much of their week campaigning, and not enough time doing the hard work of governing.And finally, it has ceded its war powers to the President.All of this has hurt Congress, to the point where people who care about it now openly debate whether it can pull out of its alarming tailspin.So what should our response be? Should we just give up on the institution? Of course not. We need to become more engaged, more involved, more insistent that Congress measure up to its constitutional responsibilities.Congress is at heart a resilient, self-correcting institution that is responsive to the clearly expressed will of the people. I know it can do better, and if prodded enough, it will. As citizens, we always have a responsibility to become involved in the work of Congress, but never more so than when we think it has gotten off track.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

The road less traveled

Fri, Dec 2nd, 2005
Posted in Commentary

When I used to travel into the remote areas of southwest China in the 90s, it was common to meet villagers who would donate one day per month to work on public projects. In mountainous Yunnan Province, villagers would set off with their hoes, shovels ..... 
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Minnesota needs strong state policy for renewable energy

Tue, Nov 29th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

On November 15 The Department of Commerce came to Preston Minnesota and proclaimed Minnesota as “America’s Clean Energy Capital”, but they did not provide you with the entire story. Minnesota currently only generates about 3% from renewables like win ..... 
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Our leaders have failed our country on Iraq

Fri, Nov 25th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Dick Cheney said his critic’s comments were “reprehensible;” President Bush called them “irresponsible.”

Somehow those words coming from these two men remind me of those Phillip Morris commercials where the tobacco company give ..... 
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Rural schools face a critical future

Fri, Nov 11th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

The recently concluded election highlights the problems the state faces in funding education. On Tuesday, more than 80 school districts throughout Minnesota put levy referendums to their voters; another 26 districts had bond referendums. This include ..... 
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It’s time to investigate the Vice-President’s office

Fri, Nov 4th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

President George Bush did the only sensible thing he could do in the aftermath of the latest debacle to hit his administration, he nominated Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. What better way to steal the front ..... 
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Hearts and Minds

Fri, Oct 7th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

The only people still supporting President Bush today are those stalwart troops hanging around the bunker - flat-earth Christians, Orange County conservatives, and the uber-rich who have come to expect unfettered access to the low-hanging fruit. Thes ..... 
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Compassionate incompetence

Fri, Sep 16th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Ah, yes, compassion.    I will give the benefit of the doubt (reluctantly) that George Bush and his administration wanted to act, that they felt some sense of duty to respond to their fellow citizens struggling in the gloom o ..... 
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Déja vu all over again

Fri, Sep 2nd, 2005
Posted in Commentary

This has been the summer of the Hollywood remake. “The Longest Yard,” “The Bad News Bears,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” are all movies with old story lines re-made with new actors and faux glitz and sold to an unsuspecting public as new e ..... 
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