Carbon credits: indulgence or commutation fee?

Carbon credits: indulgence or commutation fee?

Thomas Lifson
The ability of wealthy individuals like Al Gore to purchase what amounts to rights to pollute by buying carbon credits is a repulsive moral dodge, demanding us to consider useful analogies. One comparison that has occurred to many is the sale of Papal Indulgences that so infuriated Martin Luther. Taxprof picked up on this analgy in commenting on the “get out of jail free” card for pollution guilt that was part of the gift bag given to all Academy Awards presenters.

This year’s Oscar goodie bag contained gift certificates representing 100,000 pounds of greenhouse gas reductions from TerraPass, which describes itself as a “carbon offset retailer.” The 100,000 pounds “are enough to balance out an average year in the life of an Academy Award presenter,” a press release from TerraPass asserts. “For example, 100,000 pounds is the total amount of carbon dioxide created by 20,000 miles of driving, 40,000 miles on commercial airlines, 20 hours in a private jet and a large house in Los Angeles. The greenhouse gas reductions will be accomplished through TerraPass’ [program] of verified wind energy, cow power [collecting methane from manure] and efficiency projects.” Voila, guilt-free consumption! It reminds us of the era when rich Catholics paid the church for “dispensations” that would shorten their terms in Purgatory.” [hat tips: Instapundit, Clarice Feldman]

But I think there is another good analogy, much closer to hand, both geographically and temporally.
During the Civil War, it was possible for well-to-do men who were drafted to pay a $300 “commutation fee” and escape the draft. The move sparked much public outrage, creating the impression that the war was a “rich man’s war” and probably contributing to the disgraceful draft riots in New York City, which led to the lynching of African Americans.
It seems to me that the purchase of carbon credits is a direct imitation of commutation fee. I don’t expect to see SUV-deprived soccer moms lunching the wealthy outside of fixed base operator terminals at haunts of private jet-setters like Teterboro and Santa Monica Airports,  but I do expect public revulsion to rise and rise, as sacrifices demanded of ordinary people are evaded by the wealthy. The war on global warming seems very much a “rich man’s war.”
Everyone who preens about personal enlightenment by virtue of a “position” on global warming should sign a green pledge to reduce actual personal carbon emissions, not just pay a commutation fee in the form of carbon credits.  Anyone who emits more CO2 than the average citizen does should be subject to relentless ridicule. They can no more claim virtue than could Civil War-era draft evaders who paid their $300 bucks claim moral parity with wounded veterans.

Why Confront Islamism?

Why Confront Islamism?

By Amil Imani

Why confront Islamism? Because if we don’t it will continue to get more extreme. This is not Islamophobia, as many Muslims and their apologists protest.  A phobia is a baseless irrational fear. Detestation of Islamism, the violent form of Islam, is based on irrefutable facts and it is not only rational, it is ethically imperative.

It is a virtue to take action to oppose the hateful, a vice to ignore it. It is a virtue to hate tyranny, misogyny, discriminations of all sorts, oppression, and all manners of violations of the legitimate rights of individual and peoples. Islamism is a mutation of Islam into a terrible menace. It is religious fascism, a destroyer of liberty and much of what free people cherish. Therefore, it must be confronted.
Islamism, Islamofascism, radical Islam and political Islam, are different terms for essentially the same thing: a virulent, hateful, and violent system of beliefs and practices. Yet, one and all are progeny of Islam itself.
It is a systemic problem of Islam that inevitably gives rise to Islamism. The three scriptures of Islam, the Quran, Islam’s holy book; the Hadith, sayings of Muhammad as recorded by his contemporaries; and the Suna, the life examples of Muhammad himself, together form the body of Islamic beliefs. They provide an array of frequently confusing, multiple-meaning and even outright contradictory dogma that enable anyone to pick and choose certain teachings of Islam and justify anything they do on the basis of the scripture.
The Quran enjoys a sanctified standing, since Muslims believe it is written by Allah himself. Allah handed down the Quran to Archangel Gabriel, chapter by chapter, to deliver to Muhammad over the course of some 22 years. Muhammad could neither read nor write. So Gabriel had to whisper the chapters to him and Muhammad in turn would reveal them to a literate person who happened to be around to write them down on anything he could find. To Muslims, every word of the Quran is a literal perfect immutable eternal word of Allah himself. Therefore, no man or divine is ever to revise, much less dispute, the Quran.
The hodgepodge of Islamic scripture is the medium for generating all kinds of mutations, some of which such as Islamism are extremely dangerous. A segment of any society, at any time, is staffed by people who feel disaffected, alienated, and disenfranchised. It is from the ranks of this population that Islamists heavily recruit.
Islamism’s rallying cry is also of particular attraction to the young since it is rabidly anti-establishment. The young lack a major stake in society but brim with action-inclined vitality. They are among the most willing recruits to anti-establishment causes. Older leaders frequently take advantage of the young’s proclivity to act and enlist them as foot-soldiers in their cause. The Hitler’s youth, the Soviet Union’s young Communists, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Basij (young Islamic storm troopers) are some examples of the young’s enlistment by tyrannical systems.
Furthermore, there is excitement in action, any action. The greater the risk, the greater is the excitement. This feature is highly attractive to a significant segment of the population. That’s why it is said that war is exciting, while peace is boring. The validation of this dictum is seen daily, for instance, in numberless arenas where battles rage between combatants, be they cocks, dogs, or human. Throngs of spectators pay by time and money to participate vicariously in the socially-approved brutalities.
In any physical contest, the more violent side usually prevails. The Islamists use ruthless force to eliminate the opposition or to intimidate them to join its ranks.
Islamism is rapidly advancing on two fronts. In every Islamic country, it is cowing the non-radicals while recruiting more and more radicals into its own ranks. In non-Muslim lands, Islamism,flush with Petrodollars, is establishing itself as a formidable force by enlisting the disaffected and attracting the delusional liberals with its promises. For the faithful, there is the added incentive of Allah’s heaven and its irresistible attractions.
There are those who claim that the majority of Muslims in the world are moderate and non-violent. It may be so. Yet, the silence of this majority is deafening, although, they do speak up from time-to-time by, for instance, claiming that the 9/11 slaughter was the work of the Jews, even when Osama himself proudly admits the dastardly act.
This very same Muslim majority pours into the streets of the West on a moment’s notice to protest against the slightest perceived affront to its sanctities, but they almost never march to condemn the violent acts of the Islamists or speak up against them. This sort of behavior by the majority makes it complicit with the Islamists.
In spite of all this, Islam’s apologists and lobbyists want us to accept the notion that the present Islamic radicalism is an aberration that, given time, will dissipate as have all radical movements of the past. These folk fail to tell us about the radical movements that inflicted horrors on humanity before they expired. Here are a few instances of the bloody acts of radicalism from Wikipedia:

  • Japan 1910-45. Imperial Japanese killed 25,000,000 Chinese and enslaved millions of Koreans.
  • Soviet Union 1918-89. Communists killed 20,000,000 of their own citizens.
  • Germany 1940-45. Nazis killed 11,000,000 Jews, Romas, homosexuals, Slavs, the mentally ill and Communists.
  • China 1950-80. Communists killed 65,000,000 fellow Chinese.
  • Bangladesh 1971. Muslims killed 1,500,000 Hindus.
  • Cambodia 1975-79. Communist Cambodians killed 1,700,000 Cambodians.
  • Afghanistan 1979-89. Soviet Communists killed unspecified number of Afghans.
  • Sudan 1983-2007. Arab/Muslims killed over 2,000,000 Africans.

Iraq’s socio-fascist Baathist government slaughtered several hundred thousand Kurds and Shiites during Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror. And let us not forget the genocidal mullahs presently ruling Iran. These Islamofascists executed, without the least due process, tens of thousands of the opposition in order to consolidate their Islamist tyranny. The mullahs’ present project is the subjugation of the region and, down the road, the world itself.
Islamism threatens to set a new record for brutality, contrary to the contention that there is no reason to worry about it. Jihadist Wahabism’s tentacles are reaching out from its cradle in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Arab Emirates. The Petrodollar flush Sunni zealots are liberally financing mosques, madresehs (Islamic indoctrination schools), Islamic centers at universities, front organizations and lobbyists to promote the Wahabi virulent Islamism in every part of the world.
Murderous Shiism, led by Iran’s racing to arm itself with the ultimate weapon, is busily doing whatever it can to ensnare the world into Islam’s nation, the Ummeh. The purported peaceful Muslim majorities are nowhere to be seen. They are either complicit with the Islamists or on the retreat from Southeast Asia to the Americas, from Australia, to Europe.
Islamism is a pincers, with the world in its jaws between the end-of-the-world Shiism and the jihadist Sunnis. The two jaws aim to crush the life of all non-believers. It is imperative that people who value liberty rise up and act to defeat Islamism. Here are some specific suggestions:

  • Any mosque, Islamic center or front organization that condones or promotes hate or violence must be shut down.
  • Islamic studies centers at universities must be scrutinized to guard against mercenary academes who deceptively preach the gospel of Islamism.
  • Lobbyists and front organizations serving Islamism must be investigated as to their sources of funds.
  • Laws should be enacted to protect all media and individuals against lawsuits, so that they can report the truth without risking ruinous litigations.
  • Imams, mullahs and others who promote Islamic hate doctrine should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
  • Local Muslims should review Islamic literature, including the Quran, and should mark them with an asterisk, disavowing teachings of hate and violence or purge them entirely.

It is urgent that we confront Islamism. All free people, Muslim or not, must demand that their governments, at all levels, abandon the practice of political correctness and act to safeguard liberty against the truly deadly assault of Islamism on the rest of the World.
Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America, who has been writing and speaking out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran. He maintains a website at

Don’t Worry! The Religious Left Is Making “Peace” with Iran

Don’t Worry! The Religious Left Is Making “Peace” with Iran
By Mark D. Tooley | February 28, 2007

On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran will not backtrack on its nuclear program. And on Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Iran had ignored a United Nations Security Council ultimatum about potential nukes.

But do not fear! An ecumenical delegation from the U.S. is currently in Iran, meeting with the Iranian president and various ayatollahs.  Peace is at hand. 

“The headlines in U.S. newspapers talk about missed deadlines and stalemates,” recounted Quaker official Joe Volk in his report.  “But sitting here in Iran, we see a different picture.”  He promised that “the Iranians are willing to begin negotiations to return their nuclear program to full international safeguards.”  After all, the Iranian deputy foreign minister has assured Volk’s delegation that this is so. 

The U.S. religious representatives, representing United Methodists, Episcopalians, Quakers, Mennonites, “Sojourners,” Pax Christi, and the National Council of Churches, have found an “openness to negotiations here in Iran,” according to Volk.  But, “sadly, the United States has not demonstrated a similar openness.  The U.S. government has refused for many years to enter into any type of negotiations with Iran, focusing instead on a program of sanctions, isolation, and threats of regime change.”

Worried about Iran’s safety in the face of U.S. belligerance, the ecumenical delegation is meeting with whomever the Iranian theocratic police state will allow it to in Teheran, in pursuit of peace.  The churchmen are in Iran at the special invitation of the Iranian dictator, anti-Semite and apocalyptic preacher, Ahmadinejad, who met with a much larger group of U.S. clerics when he was in New York last September.

Dave Robinson of the left-wing Catholic group Pax Christi explained in his dispatch from Teheran that the delegation therapeutically “plans to highlight and draw attention to the source of each nation’s pain and mistrust and to understand what divides us historically.”  Robinson, of course, was pleased when assured by Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani that Iran’s nuclear program is not a weapons program and that in fact, nuclear weapons are incompatible with Islamic law.

“Our delegation has come to Tehran in a humble posture of listening and learning as well as to raise difficult questions,” Robinson explained.  But the delegation seems to be eager to accept dubious answers to its supposedly difficult questions.  When the ayatollah was asked about Iran’s “harsh” rhetoric about the U.S., the cleric responded, “What you mention is not against the American people. Our objection is to statements of the American government.”  Undoubtedly, the ecumenical delegation liked that answer.  The imam even assured his visitors, “Please consider Iran as your second home for Americans.”  Such hospitality.  The imam might be disappointed that this batch of American churchmen is likely to take his offer seriously. 

Of course, sojourning in Teheran is not quite like jetting to the Virgin Islands.  Jeff Carr of the evangelical left group Sojourners noted that as the delegation’s plane descended, the pilot warned:  “By order of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, all women need to cover their heads for their own protection.” Welcome to the Shiite paradise!  

Before taking off for the vacation land of imams, Mennonite official Daryl Byler dashed off an urgent letter to President Bush about Iran.  “I wish you were the one meeting with President Ahmadinejad.” Byler wrote.  “Not because I fear meeting Iran’s president. To the contrary, when I met him last fall in New York I found him to be bright and engaging.  Like you, Ahmadinejad is a religious man. I believe you would enjoy one another’s company. Your conversation could signal a positive change in a relationship severed more than 25 years ago.”

Bush and Adhmadinejad, as religious men, would have much in common to discuss. The American president could discuss his Methodist church and his daily prayer devotionals.  And the Iranian could talk about his dreams of destroying Israel in a final holocaust that would apocalyptically usher in the the Reign of the Mahdi in a sea of blood.

Byler fretted to Bush that the U.S. has captured several Iranian diplomats inside Iraq and dispatched a second U.S. naval carrier group to the Persian Gulf.  “Many see these events as provocative,” he worries.  “Of course, Iranian rhetoric and actions have added to the volatile mix.” he reclutantly added.
Will you be a “repairer of the breach” as the biblical prophets urged of leaders long ago (Isaiah 58:12)?” Byler asked of Bush.  Byler and the rest of the delegation will meet with Ahmadinejad before leaving for home to begin their “education” of the American public about the reality in Iran. 

Undoubtedly, the church delegation will be as charmed as they were last September.  The Iranian president likely will courteously omit any of his rhetoric about killing infidels as he serves the American Christians hot tea and Iranian pastries.

For the latest updates about the delegation’s final adventures in Iran, check out:

Gang rapes Jewish women as “revenge” for Israeli military ops subhuman animals

Gang rapes Jewish women as “revenge” for Israeli military ops

One may compare this case to many such cases in Pakistan, where gang rape is rather frequently used to settle scores, often to put a lower social group back in its supposed place. Moreover, the burden of proof is on the victim, per the “four witnesses” requirement in Qur’an 24:13, to demonstrate they were not at fault, well in line with that which is so often imposed on Israel when jihadists attack.

“Gang rapes Jewish women as ‘revenge’,” by Rebecca Anna Stoil and Shelly Paz for the Jerusalem Post:

A gang of serial rapists has been prowling the North, raping Jewish women as revenge for IDF actions in the West Bank, police revealed Tuesday after arresting six suspects.

“We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians in the territories,” one of the six suspects told investigators from the Northern District Central Investigative Unit (CIU) during questioning. During their questioning and their brief appearance at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court Tuesday, none of the four main suspects indicated that they felt remorse for their actions.

Police said they were aware of four attacks carried out by the gang, but they believed there were probably other incidents that had gone unreported by the victims.

In all four cases, police said, the rapists’ modus operandi were strikingly similar – all of the attacks were directed against young women who were waiting at bus stops or designated hitchhiking points in the western Galilee and the Haifa area.

In all of the cases, the attackers forced their victim into a car and drove together with the victim to an isolated spot, where they raped her.

All of the suspects are from the Galilee town of Bir al-Maksur, a Beduin village near the Hamovil Junction. The last of the four known rapes was carried out in a forested area just outside of the village.

The first attack occurred in April 2005, when a 13-year-old girl was raped at the Zevulun Beach in Kiryat Yam. In December of that year, a 19-year-old soldier was kidnapped and raped just outside of Kiryat Ata.

According to police, the gang attacked again three days later. In that assault, the gang allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old girl who was standing with her friends at the Kiryon Junction in Kiryat Bialik. They allegedly took her to a grove near Tamra, where they raped her.

It was after the third attack, commander of the Northern District CIU Asst.-Cmdr. Menahem Haver said, that the police realized they were dealing with a serial rape gang. In that case, the teenage victim told investigators that one of her attackers told her the attack was in revenge for IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

Jeb in 2008?

Jeb in 2008?
By Quin Hillyer
Published 2/27/2007 12:08:25 AM

Don’t be surprised if, come November of 2008, voters are choosing between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush for president.

But how can that be? Jeb’s not running.

Well, he isn’t running now, but the new, front-loaded primary system may, counterintuitively, allow him to enter the race late as a “white knight” rescuing Republicans from a morass of unhappiness and indecision.

Here’s how:

The fully frontloaded system replaces not the slow unfolding of primary and caucus states common through, say, 1976, but an already semi-frontloaded system instead. It is the latter, the semi, that produced overly quick ends to the nomination battles — but the fully frontloaded system may do just the opposite.

The reason the semi served to quickly winnow the presidential field is that it effectively anointed one particular candidate as the nearly unstoppable frontrunner by virtue of results in three states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Iowa would usually put forth one winner, New Hampshire — jealous of its “first in the nation” prerogatives — would put forth another, and then South Carolina would break the tie. The big jumble of staggered primaries in the weeks thereafter would come just at the right time to validate the momentum earned in South Carolina, and only a brief denouement was usually needed before the losing candidates acknowledged that the jig was up.

But in 2008, with a whopping 19 states, including mammoth California, moving their primaries, the Feb. 2 South Carolina match won’t seem so decisive because everybody will know that the big delegate haul will come just three days later. And because all of the major candidates will be fighting heavily across such a wide range of states, the odds are high that each major candidate will win at least several of those 19 states. If, say, John McCain wins California and Arizona, and maybe another, but Mitt Romney follows a New Hampshire win with Feb. 5 wins in Michigan, Utah, and Colorado, and another one or two, while Rudy Giuliani takes Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Tennessee, and Mike Huckabee wins his home state of Arkansas and Sam Brownback carries home-state Kansas…well, then, who exactly is the front-runner?

RATHER THAN PROVIDING UNSTOPPABLE momentum to any one candidate, in other words, the widespread voting on Feb. 5 could serve to keep all three “major” candidates and even a couple of minor ones alive. Nobody could claim a mandate, the vitriol would continue to grow, and the dissatisfaction already being voiced by conservatives might take on pandemic proportions.

Meanwhile, a number of states may have qualifying dates for candidates or delegates that post-date Feb. 5. Nine states still won’t vote until May. A white night with a big enough name could conceivably jump in the race, sweep all the later contests, and lay claim to be the candidate of consensus and unity. Think of another president’s brother, Bobby Kennedy in 1968, and you get the idea.

Not only that, but the white knight could pick up the endorsements, and presumably the delegates, of the minor candidates as they fall by the wayside. Huckabee’s Arkansans and Brownback’s Kansans could both shift to the knight the moment those candidates drop out. Ditto for McCain’s Arizonans and Californians if, after eight more big primaries on March 4, he finds himself to be clearly in third place among the three major contestants.

Suddenly, the scenario for the knight’s victory doesn’t look quite so far-fetched.

Of course, this all assumes that we’re talking about one helluva knight. Somebody with major name ID, with access to large amounts of money and organizational might at a moment’s notice, and with a solid reputation across the Republican philosophical spectrum.

Of course, Jeb Bush qualifies on all counts.

BUT WHY WOULD HE RUN when the name Bush is so unpopular these days?

Perhaps because a lot can change in a year. Ask George H. W. Bush, he of the 91 percent approval rating in 1991, about how fast political fortunes can change. What if, by late winter of next year, the vaunted troop surge in Iraq is seen to have been a major success? What if the continued over-reaching by Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha makes President George W. Bush look good by comparison, just as Bill Clinton looked good when compared with the caricature Newt Gingrich allowed to be drawn of himself?

Still, you might argue, what about the inevitable backlash against political dynasticism? How could Americans possibly be expected to choose a Bush for the third time in four presidencies?

In actuality, though, 2008 may be the best year possible to overcome the argument against dynasties. After all, if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, the anti-dynasticism argument will cut both ways. What better time for Jeb Bush to argue that a political inheritance should not be a disqualifier than when his opponent’s entire career as an elected official is seen as a political inheritance?

All of which explains why the frontloaded system plays right into Jeb Bush’s hands.

This isn’t a prediction that Bush will be the Republican nominee, by the way, but only an explanation why he could be. And it’s not a case of my own wishes being father to the thought: My choice for president is SEC Chairman Chris Cox — but he’s not running. Neither, unfortunately, is the most eloquent conservative speaker on today’s scene, White House press secretary Tony Snow. Oh, well….

The point is not that conservatives should wait around for Jeb Bush to come to the rescue, nor that we should begin secretly plotting the Floridian’s ascendance. It is to say, though, that just as campaign finance reforms always have unintended consequences, so too might a frontloaded primary calendar. Conservatives should right now be “gaming out” the various possibilities, so they can be a decisive influence in the final choice of a nominee.

Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator. He can be reached at

Pelosi Falls Short On Election Promises

Pelosi Falls Short On Election Promises
By: Daniel W. Reilly and Jim VandeHei
February 27, 2007 08:27 AM EST

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is discovering the cold truth about governing with a slim majority: It’s much easier to promise behavioral change for Congress than to deliver it.

Pelosi vowed that five-day workweeks would be a hallmark of a harder-working Democratic majority. So far, the House has logged only one. Lawmakers plan to clock three days this week.

The speaker has denied Republicans a vote on their proposals during congressional debates — a tactic she previously declared oppressive and promised to end. Pelosi has opened the floor to a Republican alternative just once.

Pelosi set a high standard for herself when she pledged to make this “the most ethical Congress in history” — a boast that was the political equivalent of leading with her chin. And some critics have been happy to hit it.

She is drawing fire for putting Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), who had $90,000 in alleged bribe money in his freezer, on the Homeland Security Committee. And The Washington Post reported during the weekend that she is helping chairmen raise money from donors with business before their committees.

Pelosi can count several big changes designed to curb abuses that plagued the Republican majority before it was dethroned in last fall’s elections, including new limits on gifts from lobbyists. But her debut has not quieted skeptics who see her and the new majority failing to make the clean break with the deeply ingrained congressional culture.

“She has done exactly what she said she would do,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.

For example, he noted, while the House is not always in session five days a weeks, many committees are working throughout the week. Pelosi promised an ambitious start to the new Congress, he said, and she had determined the best way to proceed was by limiting debate.

“In the future,” Daly said, “we will do business in the regular order.”

Pelosi seems to be following a familiar pattern. Twelve years ago, Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to reform the House and govern by principles of fairness and transparency. But, for leaders of both parties, the reality of ruling with a narrow majority translates into tight controls over floor debate, cozy relations with lobbyists and accommodating the needs of lawmakers (who hate working long weeks).

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a congressional watchdog organization, said Jefferson’s reelection put the new speaker in a bind.

“Pelosi had to put him somewhere,” said Sloan, who has also worked as minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee for then-ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). “But I am troubled by the fact … that (Jefferson) is the kind of guy who could not pass a security clearance test and yet now he has access to top-secret government info.”

Sloan also took issue with Democrats’ use of committee chairs for fundraising efforts, a tactic Republicans often abused in the last Congress.

“Given the scandals of last Congress, particularly involving (disgraced former lobbyist Jack) Abramoff, it doesn’t look good,” Sloan said. “It is very hard for people to understand the difference between what’s legal and what’s illegal.”

Republicans are cutting Pelosi less slack than that. Eager to brand her a hypocrite, GOP strategists are closely tracking what they call a growing list of “broken promises” and are encouraging their members to attack her for them.

“She promised the most open and honest Congress in history and by any objective score, (Democrats) have fallen short,” said Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).

Pressed on whether voters will care about procedural complaints, such as lack of floor votes for GOP proposals, Putnam said: “I think voters do care if you shut down the process to the point people cannot even offer an alternative, and you are stifling debate …You don’t want to be constantly complaining about the process, but bottom line, they are abusing it.”

Some Democratic lawmakers privately warn that Pelosi could blow a rare opportunity to change voters’ perception of the party and Congress if she reverts to old Republican ways.

In a recent newspaper commentary, former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana expressed concern “that the new Democratic majority in the House, which certainly understands the sting of unfair treatment, has on occasion yielded to the temptation of its newfound power to shut down Republican participation.”

So far, the GOP has been shut out of virtually every big debate. The most recent example was the House fight over the war in Iraq, in which Democrats broke their promise to allow the GOP a vote on its nonbinding resolution supporting the troops.

Pelosi sympathizers said Republican critics are laying it on a bit thick.

“Oh, cry me a river,” said former Democratic Rep. Tony Coelho. “For six years they ran a system that was autocratic, that didn’t give the minority a shot at offering anything and now are saying ‘mistreatment’ …They never even let the Democrats have a voice.”

Still, Pelosi’s experience with the recent Iraq debate illustrates her challenge. She calculated that it would be harder to build bipartisan support for a Democratic resolution condemning the administration’s troop “surge” if the debate were muddied by a generic, support-the-troops vote. In essence, she determined it was riskier, in the short term, to keep her pledge than to break it.

There is a practical reason for this approach, too. Alternatives are ripe for mischief. The minority party often puts together legislation designed to either embarrass or divide the other side.

That means there is almost always a temptation to backtrack on pledges of reform. Gingrich and his self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” roared to power in 1994 with promises to undo the feather-nesting and strong-arm tactics that had come to mark the Democratic reign — then discovered that what they once deemed outrageous seemed more defensible once their party was in charge.

In light of this history, say some congressional scholars, Pelosi soon will be facing a choice.

“If we don’t start seeing some opportunities for Republicans to offer real amendments on floor and to see some effort at collaboration that is genuine,” said Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, “then she and Democrats will properly be subject to criticism.”

TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton Communications Company

Pakistan: More polio cases if resistance continues; Islamic clerics say those who die of polio are ‘martyrs’ Some religious leaders in the Bajaur and Malakand agencies are telling the people not to get their children vaccinated since the practice is un-Islamic

Pakistan: More polio cases if resistance continues; Islamic clerics say those who die of polio are ‘martyrs’

An update on this story. “More polio cases if resistance continues: NIH, WHO,” from the Daily Times, with thanks to Twostellas:

ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) fear that more polio cases will crop up in the Bajaur and Malakand agencies since workers are denied access to children amid threats by Taliban-backed clerics, Daily Times learnt on Monday.A senior official at the NIH said that health authorities had confirmed yet another polio case in the Nowshera. He said that the polio victim was originally from the Bajaur Agency. In addition, the Health Ministry has also reported three more confirmed polio cases in urban and rural Sindh.

The clerics, including Tehreek Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) leader Maulana Fazlullah and his supporters in the Malakand Agency, have been ‘warning’ people during sermons in mosques or through illegal FM radio stations not to administer polio drops to their children since it was against religious norms and brought infertility. Maulana Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, ex-chief of the TNSM.

To complete the polio immunisation drive, the WHO and the Ministry of Health are contemplating enlisting the help of the district/tehsil and union council nazims, political and religious leaders, public representatives and tribal elders, sources said.

Some religious leaders in the Bajaur and Malakand agencies are telling the people not to get their children vaccinated since the practice is un-Islamic, and that those that die of polio would be considered martyrs.