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  • Refugee_New
    01-06 05:28 PM
    What do you mean by "Others"? Al-Jazeera? Al-Aqsa? Al-Manar?? FYI, Here are couple of Articles from the charter of Hamas. And you think Hamas is peace loving organization because........ ?

    Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant states the following: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Cedar tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslem).

    Article 22 claims that the French revolution, the Russian revolution, colonialism and both world wars were created by the Zionists. It also claims the Freemasons and Rotary clubs are Zionist fronts. "You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

    I am not supporting Hamas or their core belief. I am not going that far. What i'm saying is, how can one country kill school kids and go scot-free???

    When we cried for terror victims, why don't we do the same for palestinians who are victims of state sponsored terrorism???

    If we want to discuss about Ideology of other faiths and different groups, we can open one more thread. You wouldn't want to open another thread. Because you know how nasty those ideologies are? Every religion/group have their own ideology and they are nothing but brutal.

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  • satishku_2000
    08-03 05:05 PM
    What exactly is the difference between current and future employments in the context of Perm labor certification and 485. I have seen people using two things interchangeably to suit their arguments. In context of finding ability to pay is there a difference in the way adjudicator looks at two things?

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  • DoNotWorry
    04-13 09:41 AM
    I agree fully on this. Working/staying more hours at office does not mean, he/she is "really working"

    I saw some people, get used to this trend and ignore their families, pity on them!!!!

    When in college students used to rag others just because they were ragged when they joined the college. It�s not because they want to, it is just because they went through it. Indian software companies are just like, I worked enough in software industry and I have even been on call 24 hours but the truth is, it was never 12 hours or 10 hours work every day. Yes, occasionally I had 12 hours work which is the same in every industry and I used to get calls in the middle of the night at least once or twice during the night, but its not 10 hours work everyday. We want to impress our boss by working 10 hours, that�s the truth; it�s not that your boss wants.

    Similarly, in India people go to work on Saturday not because they have work but to show their face to their PM. Even if God comes down and says that people in India work 10 hours everyday, I cannot believe it. They might be in office for 10-12 hours but that does not mean they are working. It is the people who should be blamed for this. Yesterday�s programmer or today�s PM, and they expect the programmer to be there in the office for 10 hours just because they went through it. I am an ex TCSer, things worked exactly as I said. It is never going to change. All these talks about stress and coding 10 hours straight come on.....:cool:

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  • aadimanav
    07-14 05:43 PM
    Please participate in this non-controversial (EB1 vs. 2 vs. 3 and Row vs. Non-Row Compatible) campaign.



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  • ita
    01-04 12:51 AM
    I think it's now a moot point with you playing obtuse( genuinely or otherwise)
    Also I'm tempted to respectfully ask you to go through your posts rather than ask me how your are doing circles...
    Check this one out...this is what you have been going on about....

    proof for Kayani's involvement->How the entire episode could be Indian media's hype ->how the expectation to shed the inertia build up in Pak being a bit much->attributing the entire thing to hostile relationship btwn the 2 countries->How pakitanis think it's Taiban that's involved->Supposed Indian involvement in Pakistan destablization->non-state actors->How Masood and others should be rounded up->Etradition treaty uncertainity->screwing Dawood as he is past->Bihari thieves-> How Pakistanis should want to know who is trying to provoke India, and risking a war in the subcontinent, and why. 9/11->state->roaches->Paki state govt->don't know what else.

    It looks like you concede a point to keep peddling anything/new things into the already complicated scenario. If you don't agree then please do what you find suitable.I don't want to be contributing into this frivolously logical loop any more than what I've already done.

    Thank you.

    Could you point out the circular logic that I am using?

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  • zxcvb
    07-17 11:05 PM
    Does any one knows the answer to this?



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  • ArkBird
    01-06 05:32 PM
    I am not supporting Hamas or their core belief. I am not going that far. What i'm saying is, how can one country kill school kids and go scot-free???

    When we cried for terror victims, why don't we do the same for palestinians who are victims of state sponsored terrorism???

    If we want to discuss about Ideology of other faiths and different groups, we can open one more thread. You wouldn't want to open another thread. Because you know how nasty those ideologies are? Every religion/group have their own ideology and they are nothing but brutal.

    I don't know of any religion which touts killing on innocent people just because they don't believe in your ideology which for me is the biggest crime against humanity.

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  • devikas81
    12-19 01:38 PM
    All Pakistanis are not a Terrorist but all Terrorist are Pakistanis..


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  • Macaca
    12-30 08:20 AM
    2007: Democrats in Control, but Thwarted ( By LAURIE KELLMAN | Associated Press, Dec 30, 2007

    WASHINGTON -- It's a painful irony for Democrats: In the space of a year, the Iraq war that was the source of party's resurgence in Congress became the measure of its impotence.

    By the end of the 2007, a Congress controlled by Democrats for the first time since 1994 had an approval rating of only 25 percent, down from 40 percent last spring. Then the debate over the war split the party and cast shadows over other issues, spawning a series of legislative failures and losing confrontations with President Bush.

    What to do about Iraq has turned into a dissing match so far-reaching and nasty that Congress's accomplishments are seen, even by some who run it, through the lens of their failure to override Bush and start bringing the troops home.

    "There is no question that the war in Iraq has eclipsed much of what we have done," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. "If you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well."

    It's not as if the new Democrat-controlled Congress did nothing during 2007.

    It gave the nation's lowest paid workers their first raise in a decade, raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 an hour in July. It will rise to $7.25 an hour in 2009.

    Congress also cut in half the interest rates on federal student loans and boosted annual Pell grants for post high-school education by $260 to $4,310 in July, rising to $5,400 for the 2012-2013 school year. Bush signed the bill after initially threatening to veto it.

    And just before Congress turned out the lights for the year on Dec. 19, Bush signed into law a sweeping new energy policy that requires automakers to achieve an industrywide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40 percent jump. Some analysts said the new law will render gas guzzlers relics of the past and make farmers rivals of oil companies in producing motor fuels.

    "All of us deserve credit for getting some things done," Bush said in his year-end news conference, insisting that he doesn't keep score.

    But on the eve of an election year with the presidency and control of Congress at stake, many others do.

    In the year's firmest push-back against the Bush administration, Congress for the first time overrode one of Bush's vetoes, on a $23 billion bill for restoring hurricane-ravaged wetlands along the Gulf Coast and other water projects. The president had protested it was filled with unnecessary projects, but 34 Senate Republicans defied him.

    Democrats scored other political victories as well. Most significantly, a Democrat-led investigation revealed a troubled Justice Department and forced Alberto Gonzales, a longtime presidential friend, from the attorney general's office. Democrats also played a big role in selecting his successor, Michael Mukasey.

    But the story of Congress in 2007 is more about what it failed to accomplish during a war that the public opposes and that Democrats had vowed _ but did not _ to end.

    On that, they found themselves repeatedly outmaneuvered, unable to break bill-killing GOP filibusters with 60 votes in a Senate where Democrats held only what effectively is a 51-49 majority.

    Plans to expand health care for 10 million children stalled. And a fragile compromise put together by Bush and liberal Democrats to provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants buckled with only lukewarm support from all sides.

    Perhaps the most bitter pill came toward the end of the year. Democrats were forced to acknowledge that the decrease in violence in Iraq might mean that Bush's much-criticized surge buildup of troops was working.

    Simultaneously, they found themselves on the defensive against Republican charges that they squandered time on the war that could have been spent getting agency budgets passed on time. As usual, what has become an annual fix to the tax code to save 20 million families an average $2,000 in extra taxes was put off until the final days before Christmas.

    Predictably, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid called Bush's "stubbornness" and Republicans' filibuster threats "obstruction on steroids."

    Republicans suggested Democrats could have accomplished big reforms on Social Security and immigration _ or even just speedy passage of the federal budget _ had it been in their election-year interests.

    "I just don't think the new majority wanted to do anything significant," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

    By most accounts, the window for accomplishing broad new reforms was quickly closing as the nation's political machinery rumbled into position for the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. On the ballot will be all 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate.

    At stake is a wider Democratic majority, big enough to govern. A cascade of retirements by Republicans in the Senate made that goal achievable. Democrats hoped gain seats in the House, as well.

    So they labored to tout what they had accomplished in the majority. They suggested that what failed this year might pass with more Democrats elected next year.

    Bush has signed into law other initiatives of the Democratic-led Congress, such as $3 billion in funding for Louisiana's Road Home program to rebuild housing stock destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

    Procedural and institutional reforms became law as well, such as changes in ethics and lobbying rules.

    Behind the scenes, Democrats and their aides debated which fights to pick next year with a lame duck president. Most likely, they said: the children's health care bill.

    Immigration reform, however, appears dead until the new Congress takes its seats in 2009.

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  • LostInGCProcess
    09-29 12:36 PM
    After watching the debate the other day between Obama and McCain at the Ole Miss, I felt McCain was more truthful and talking from his mind. All these days I was hoping Obama was really going to make that "change", but after watching the debate, clearly it was McCain who, I personally feel, won the debate.

    Obama's speech was more like a prepared one. He was stumbling a lot, maybe he was nervous, I don't know. But McCain was cool all along, although he was not prepared for the debate...he changed his schedule in the very last minute.

    I am positive if he wins he would definitely do something about the broken Immigration System. Remember he has a daughter adopted from Bangladesh...of course, which has no connection with Immigration, but he seems to be the 'nice' guy.



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  • senthil1
    07-14 05:36 PM
    If you go with any campaign without the support of any organisation or without any legal basis you are going to fail. Not only that if you go without IV support but at the same time use IV forum that will certainly impact the unity of IV and that will may have impact on survival of IV in future. I think Core IV Group is in fix in this issue and whatever they tell someone will be unhappy.

    If law tells something and DOS violates that then certainly there is a valid point. If DOS follows law and law is unfair then you need to try changing the law. If you go to DOS simply they will tell we followed the law. If you find viloation of law then you may get some support.

    I definitely feel that EB3 should go ahead with this campaign. there has to be some fairness ...if we don't speak up then year after year, the same thing will happen and maybe in 2015, EB3 will get spillover visas. those who are writing against EB3 --tell me this, if a person who has come to US in 2007 and he has applied during the july fiasco ..and if he gets preference over a EB3 person who is still stuck with a PD of 2002 ..would you still say that the system is fair ???
    my point is let there be a little spillover ...maybe in a ratio of 2 to 1 ..but a little bit atleast that asking for too much ???

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  • mrane1
    04-07 02:45 AM

    I had no idea my two humble posts would stir up such a hornets' nest among the desi junta here. I certainly see more "bears" coming out of their hibernation now that spring is here :).

    OK, I admit that I am also in the camp that really wants to buy a house and "settle down" in a good area with good schools for my kids. The mythical "nesting instinct" is alive and well here. I am obsessed with the real estate market, and am constantly watching real estate porn as my wife calls it, i.e., surfing on and trying to spot good deals.

    However, the reality is that I am scared sh*tless of the market right now. I do not want to burn my hard earned equity in the form of a good 20% plus downpayment. If you are in the same situation as I am, then I would offer the following practical suggestions to help you cope with the situation:

    1. Rent a house/townhouse/condo from private parties instead of an apartment complex to help you understand the responsibilities and expenses of homeownership.

    2. If renting an apartment in an area with moderate schools, and have school age kids, instead of trying to chase the dream of building equity in a house in an area with good public schools, in the short run, consider sending your kids to a decent private school. The cost of added property taxes in case of home purchase would alone balance out the high monthly payments of private schooling, with probably better "return on investment" at a private school.

    3. Feel good about renting an apartment: You should not succumb to peer pressure and try to keep up with the Janardhan's (OK, bad joke, "Joneses") and buy a house just because other people took the plunge at the wrong time. Your time will come. Just be patient. Not to be taken lightly is the fact that in the month of April we celebrate Earth Day - think positively about all the energy you are saving living in an apartment with shared utilities with other people living in the complex. A house is a big energy guzzler (although I am sure an enjoyable one!) in all respects - more heating and cooling costs, more water used (esp. in summer with lawn watering), more greenhouse gas emissions from your individual lawn mower, leaf blower, and snow blower (can you picture yourself mowing your lawn or riding the snow blower in your lungi :D- OK this joke is getting old)...

    4. More quality time spent at home with the kids - when you are not having to do chores around a big house. A house seems to take up a lot of maintenance time, not to mention time spent cleaning/vacuuming /dusting the entire 3000 sq ft area and otherwise maintaining the 1/4 acre yard. You could instead spend a lot of quality time with your kids doing projects/homework/art work with them and being a kid again yourself. In a house it is more likely that unless you have kids big enough to help you do those chores for some incentive, your kids will be watching Dora and Diego while you are cleaning up.

    All in all, I think there are many positives to look forward to while you save money renting, and like I said before, when the time is nigh, you will have your turn. You will also by then, hopefully have your green cards in hand and may even be able to move to a more desirable city or other states looking for better work opportunities and where your downpayment savings will take you farther in getting you more for your buck.


    "Real estate porn".... I just burst out laughing... Yeah I am a hardcore RE porn lover! I have been studying the market since 2004... I even got my GC in sept (although my wife is still stuck in name check... hopefully now that she is current again we might get the news!). So anywho, I completely agree with you junglee. Something tells me that you are an old timer who saw the 2001 crash unfold. I currently live in BA and I am shocked to see even desis spread so thin its really hard for me to fathom how they sleep at night. Many are just a few paychecks away from foreclosure... So did you invest in any of the inverse ETFs such as SRS, SKF, DXD, SDS?


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  • gcseeker2002
    12-27 10:49 PM
    I myself am originally from Mumbai so please dont doubt the deep sense of outrage that I feel. But amid all this talk about going to war, here are a few things to ponder

    1. Think about how long it takes to construct a single runway of an airport. In the developed countries, it takes about 2-3 years, for India safe to say 5-6 years. One of Paki's first responses would be take out entire airports not just runways. Can you imagine how long it would take us to recover

    >>>>>It will be the same if terrorists take out entire airports by their terror actions, which they were about to do in Mumbai that failed on 11/26. So no point worrying about what if.

    2. Why should India kill Pak when it is killing itself every day. At this rate, just imagine how long this country will last. Sitting back and being a spectator could just about be the best option

    >>>>>At this rate they will take another 50 years to kill themselves, but will continue to torment India till they die, they are like a cockroach that keeps wriggling till it dies, and does not matter if you just cut off its legs, etc.

    3. If we are outraged by 200 civilians/police/NSG dying, do we really have the stomach to absorb 1000s, lakhs ........

    >>>>>If we dont destroy the Pakis now, tomorrow their terrorists will take out 1000s, lakhs while we sit and wait.

    4. Talking of "surgical strikes" - surgical strikes on what? Even the dumbest terrorist knows that its probably not a good idea to be in a terror camp right now.

    >>>>>That is a true statement, but who cares, look at Israel that takes out Hamas buildings even though no hamas terrorists are in those buildings.

    5. Do we really want to unite all those crazy Punjabis, Balochis, Taliban and the Paki army

    >>>>>They are already united, it is Indians who are divided.

    6. Ok, what about assassinating Kayani. Wonderful, we have destroyed the last institution in Paki land. Get ready to welcome millions of refugees

    >>>>>No comments.

    I know I know that I am not coming up with any good course of action, just pointing out the flaws in the rest of them. But thats all my layman's strategic vision gives me. Maybe with just 1/100th the cost of war, we can improve our border/maritime security and also our intelligence apparatus

    Personally, I think war is going to happen. I just wish people even remotely understand what it is that they are asking for.

    War is bad but required to quell bad people, some people just dont get it the soft way.

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  • nojoke
    05-03 09:38 PM
    You think buying and selling a home a joke. You look on an average for 3-5 month to buy a home and one fine day u woke up and interest rate is high u plan to sell. This may be even possible only when u have bought house for pure investment.

    Once you move to ur first house with ur family. you will not sell ur house until u r forced to because of job/other extreme factors.

    Location is most important that any thing. It is very very localized. do u think manhattan house price went fact it went up. Similarly DC metro area is relatively stronger compare to mid west.

    A bit of luck is always there in every single thing. Predicting bottom/peak is always challenge.

    One funny thing..people are planning how to sell before they even look for house to buy. lol..

    What are you talking about? I said to buy house when it is cheaper. If interest rates go up, then the house price will sure come down. If I buy low, I will be able to sell without a loss. I said it is better to buy a house cheaper at higher interest rate than paying 1/2 million at a lower interest rate. Got it?

    So Manhattan prices are rising and it is ok to buy else where? You are kidding.
    Yes real estate is localized. But this time it not if you area is falling down in price, but it is by how much. Some areas fall more than others. The prices will continue to fall in 99% of the place. Please stop quoting Manhattan. How many here live in Manhattan?

    Oh, predicting in this economy is easy. The housing will crash. No question about that. Only question is by how much. The lying liars(NAR) has just said that there is going to be a correction of 24% this year for california. If they are saying this, then you know it will go down by more than 40%.

    Did you watch today's program in CNN(housing meltdown). They said that this is a ponzi scheme. It is unsustainable. It is bound to fall.

    You seem to be living in your own dream world. Stop denying the fact. Go look around and read news. Just hoping for prices not falling is not going to stop the crash.

    I am not trying to talk about selling before buying. I am telling you to buy at a lower price so that you don't loose when you are forced to sell. Even otherwise it is always a good idea to buy low. Don't you look for bargain for your clothing. You don't sell them, but you still try to get at a good price. If you are doing this for buying clothes, why are you guys so eager to throw your money away when it comes to housing.:confused:

    Before throwing the sarcasm at others, learn about the economy and where we are in housing and where it is heading. You are just playing 'I don't hear any bad news, I don't see bad la la la and everything is wonderful'. Look into all the links I posted and tell me why you are confident that house prices won't fall.


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  • unitednations
    08-02 11:55 AM
    I read this thread ONLY to not to miss any single word from US, no wonder.. his advises are indirectly helping many others like me in getting more understanding about what we are doing..
    Long live UN(even chain smoke cant distroy you ;) )

    Coming to my situatation,
    I came in July 2000, got job in Nov 2000. in 2002, I left for India to help my Dad who was hospitalized for Cancer. I came back in Dec'02 and have been on the payroll till today without fail.

    Once when I am applying for a H4 for my spouse, the US consulate at India issued a 221(g) to give the details about "Why the employee was paid less then the LCA promised wages?" In fact the officer didnt check all of the paperwork submitted, I had shown that I used FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) to assisit my Dad. My spouse went on the next day, pulled out the same letters and my Dad's hospital bills and Doctor letters etc and shown, and got the Visa approved..

    So, folks who got their payroll significantly showing the gaps, please show the real reason, if you start covering up something, you will end up in the Original poster's spouse of this thread.

    Once again, thanks UN...

    very good information. I just hope it isn't too late for people to put in the correct information into the forms.

    I remember in my previous day job whenever there was a gray area that we were trying to exploit (could be Securities and Exchange Rules, IRS rules, etc.), all we had to do was convince ourselves and ourselves had the vested interest in getting a certain outcome. However; we always had to be ready for the next level if the regulatory bodies came asking that we had a reasonable basis for our conclusions.

    Difference in most things is that the SEC and IRS do not "approve" your tax returns or financial statements. They may come and ask. However; immigration law; the onus on us is to prove that we are eligible for the benefit and have to prove it with every application. Everyone should be ready for the next level of scrutiny.

    I had worked on a case where USCIS was trying to add up 20 i-140's for ability to pay and telling the company that they don't have the numbers for all those people. While we were working on this; we had to get ready for the possible outcome (ie., uscis going after the approved i-140's (44 of them) and the h-1b's. We responded to the 20 rfe's but had set it up that if uscis came asking about the others that the information we were showing in these responses would not contradict and would be sufficient if they came after the approved ones.

    Well; after the rfe response; uscis did come after the approved cases and sent in the notice of intent to revoke the 44 approved cases (some were approved almost three years before). They all got re-approved but you have to be ready with all the evidence.

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  • rbharol
    04-07 01:35 AM
    I don't really think this bill will even be discussed. yes the may try to cut and paste parts of it to immigration bill....

    Will Compete America and other companies accept it? no way..

    And if it goes through, it will be begining of an end to America's supermacy as a leader in the world economy.


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  • gccovet
    08-07 03:40 PM
    Political Science for Dummies

    You have two cows.
    Your neighbor has none.
    You feel guilty for being successful.

    You push for higher taxes so the government can provide cows for everyone.

    You have two cows.
    Your neighbor has none.

    You have two cows.
    The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
    You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

    You have two cows.
    The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
    You wait in line for hours to get it.
    It is expensive and sour.

    You have two cows.
    You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

    You have two cows.
    Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

    You have two cows.
    You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
    You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
    Your stock goes up.

    You have two cows.
    You go on strike because you want three cows.
    You go to lunch and drink wine.
    Life is good.

    You have two cows.
    You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
    They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
    Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

    You have two cows.
    You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
    Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

    You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
    You break for lunch.
    Life is good.

    You have two cows.
    You have some vodka.
    You count them and learn you have five cows.
    You have some more vodka.
    You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
    The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

    You have all the cows in Afghanistan , which are two.
    You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.
    You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.

    You have two cows.
    They go into hiding.
    They send radio tapes of their mooing.

    You have two bulls.
    Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

    You have one cow.
    The cow is schizophrenic.
    Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
    The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
    The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
    The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
    The cow dies happy.

    You have a black cow and a brown cow.
    Everyone votes for the best looking one.
    Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one.
    Some people vote for both.
    Some people vote for neither.
    Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
    Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.

    You have millions of cows.
    They make real California cheese.
    Only five speak English.
    Most are illegal.
    Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

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  • Macaca
    12-30 04:19 PM
    But today, as the year ends, the netroots activists who adored Reid at the start of the new Congress have begun turning on him, musing out loud about encouraging senators to oust him as leader. They complained that Reid's Senate caved - allowing continued tax breaks for oil companies, approving a new attorney general who wouldn't call waterboarding torture, breaking the pay-as-you go promise by approving a tax break without a tax hike on the rich.

    Some liberal lawmakers believe the way to accomplish their goals is for Reid to put even more pressure on Republicans to break. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Reid should do more to "highlight who's obstructing."

    "The one issue people have with Harry Reid, he's not embarrassing enough people," Frank said.

    Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate politics for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan firm in Washington, said the problem for Democrats isn't that they haven't delivered much more than the Republicans.

    "It's that voters don't see a difference," Duffy said. "Voters are coming to the conclusion the parties are the same - not philosophically the same, but they conduct themselves in the same way."

    Trying to end a war

    Six weeks into the new Congress, as the promises of comity began to fade, Reid pulled a dramatic maneuver: He kept the Senate in session over Presidents Day weekend for a Saturday vote on Iraq.

    Nine Republicans failed to show up, including Nevada's John Ensign, who was back home playing golf with his son. The Republican whip, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, praised the absences, saying the senators were right to gum up a vote that his side saw as a stunt.

    The measure opposing Bush's troop surge failed to get 60 votes needed to advance. But it helped set the stage for a poisoned atmosphere that would dominate the Iraq debate for the year.

    The Senate conducted 34 votes on Iraq. Only once did a measure to bring troops home succeed. Bush vetoed it.

    Critics say Reid spent too much time on Iraq, that it became personal. He called it "Bush's war" and "the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of our country."

    By spring, as it became clear he could not find enough votes to override the president on Iraq votes, he embraced the party's left wing by putting his name on a bill to cut off troop funds.

    Vote after vote only hardened Republicans' resolve.

    Anti-war activists grew furious with Reid. All the while, the clock ticked down and other business went undone.

    "If you're going to criticize him, you can criticize him for allocating so much floor time to the debate when it was pretty clear it wasn't going to accomplish anything," Mann said. "And you can criticize him for his emotional investment."

    Could Reid really have stopped trying? Opinion polls show that more than two-thirds of Americans continue to oppose the war.

    The real question is whether Reid missed an opportunity to broker middle ground. As Republicans started speaking out against Bush's war policy in the summer months, Reid failed to entertain a more moderate bill - one without a withdrawal deadline - that could have peeled Republicans away from Bush.

    Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who faces a tough reelection in 2008, said she finds it "frustrating that those of us who were trying to find a bipartisan path forward on Iraq were unable to get votes on our proposals. I think there was an opportunity to change the course in Iraq, and to send a strong message to the president about the future direction, but that opportunity was lost."

    Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University who has written extensively on Congress, said leaders are judged by the choices they make. In his view, Reid made a mistake.

    "The criticism the Democrats have been facing is they weren't aggressive enough," Zelizer said. "I think the bigger failure was that he didn't get something more moderate through. I think it would have been a blow to the administration."

    By fall the mood in Congress shifted as news from Iraq improved. The moment had passed. Before Congress left for the holidays, lawmakers approved another war funding bill, with no strings attached.

    "Great leaders realize there are just moments, windows of opportunity," Zelizer said, "and I think he missed."

    Reid remains optimistic about his chances for securing Republican support in 2008. "We're going to continue putting the pedal to the metal," he said at his year-end news conference.

    But the Democrats and Reid are clearly trying to find their way under the new terms of the Iraq debate.


    The Senate chaplain, a retired Navy rear admiral, opens each day's business with a prayer. On the last Monday of the session, he called on God to remind the senators "that ultimately they will be judged by their productivity."

    The Senate had become gridlocked. Reid had threatened to do cartwheels down the aisle if it would help shake things loose.

    Democrats had accomplished plenty this year - raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, adopting the most sweeping ethics laws since Watergate, crafting the greatest college loan assistance program since the GI bill, increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years and providing unprecedented oversight of the Bush administration, leading to the resignation of the beleaguered attorney general.

    Congress worked more days than in any session in years.

    But all that seemed overshadowed by what it couldn't do. Stop the war. Provide health care for working-class kids. Address global warming by rolling back oil companies' tax breaks. Start a renewable energy requirement. End the torture of war prisoners.

    Even passing the budget to keep the government running seemed dicey.

    "It's been a really lousy year," said Norman J. Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

    In this hyper-partisan environment, where Reid liked to say Republicans were conducting "filibusters on steroids," could another kind of majority leader have achieved better results?

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was among those leading efforts to provide children's health insurance, said if not for Reid, the State Children's Health Care bill known as SCHIP wouldn't have progressed as far as it did.

    Dozens of Republicans crossed party lines to back the bill, which polls show was supported by 70 percent of Americans. Children's health care would have been paid for by increasing the tax on cigarettes. Bush vetoed the bill twice.

    Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said even if "God himself" were in the majority leader's job, it would not have been a match for Republican obstructionism. Mann sums up Reid this way: "Were Tom Daschle and George Mitchell sort of smoother, were they more effective with the Washington press? You betcha. Could they make a more compelling, favorable case? Yes. Would either of them operating in this environment have a much more productive record? No."

    By the office fireplace again

    People say running the Senate is like herding cats, with 100 Type-A personalities going in every direction. But watching the Senate feels more like being at a baseball game - so much drama happens between the big home runs and base hits, even when it looks like nothing is going on at all.

    The fire continues to burn strongly in Reid's office as snow covers the Capitol grounds. The workday is coming to a close. The Senate adjourns earlier than usual, without having taken a single roll-call vote. Christmas is almost here, and countless bills still needed to pass.

    Reid is not one for regrets, or for comparing himself to those who held the office before his arrival.

    "I can't be an Everett Dirksen, I don't have his long white hair, I don't have his voice. I can't be Mike Mansfield, I don't smoke a pipe," he says. "I just have to be who I am."

    Reid's home state has benefited substantially from his rise to the majority leader's job, as Nevada has enjoyed financial and political gains from being home to arguably the nation's top elected Democrat.

    But on the national stage Reid sees little more he can do when faced with Senate Republicans willing to stand beside Bush, even as they're "being marched over a cliff" for the next election.

    He recalls his first alone time with Bush, years ago. "He was so nice, 'I'll work with you, try to get along with Democrats.' That's Orwellian talk. Because everything he said to me personally was just the opposite ... This is not Harry Reid talking, this is history.

    "I try to be pleasant, he tries to be pleasant," Reid continued, "but there's an underlying tension there because he knows how I feel, that he's let down the American people by being a divider, not a uniter."

    He holds no hard feelings against Pelosi for setting an ambitious agenda. "Next year she will better understand the Senate than she did this year."

    In 2008 he has two legislative goals: "I would like to get us out of Iraq," he said. "I'd like to establish something to give Americans, Nevadans, the ability to go to a doctor when they're sick."

    And one day, when this job is done, "I wouldn't mind being manager of a baseball team."

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    04-09 11:46 AM
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