This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, February 2, 2006

 

A Bush Quote in the Lead
From the State of the Union Address


"Americans are addicted to oil,"
-GW Bush


George W. Bush criticizing Americans for being addicted to oil is sort of like Dr. Kevorkian complaining that all his patients are dying.

-Eddie Konczal



Russ Feingold Chimes In

"I've seen some strange things in my life, but I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday's State of the Union speech, listening to the President assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on. It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold.

"Cheering? Clapping? Applause? All for violating the law?"
-Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)

I was at a SOTU (State of the Union) watching party. We all wondered - why are these people clapping? Later, I thought of a comment from Star Wars Episode III on a speech the evil "emperor" gives to the Senate:

"So this is how democracy ends, with thunderous applause."

I watched that movie again. I think George Lucas had the Bush administration in mind when he wrote the dialog. Can Darth Cheney and "Lord" Bush be stopped? Now that Alito is on the Supreme court, it will be even tougher to stop these neoconservatives.

-Robert Scardapane



Another Open Letter About the Bush Administration

Dear Friends:

Among the dubious joys of growing older is the little chore of cleaning out files and throwing old stuff away so that ones survivors never have to face the question: What the Hell am I supposed to do with this?

Occasionally, however, something serendipitous happens. And it causes a letter like this to be written and sent to as many receptive souls as possible in the hope that together we might do some good. What I found, dated 1976, is so relevant to today’s headlines about Bush’s secret eavesdropping that at first it seemed spooky. Then I remembered that George Santayana reminded us that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

It is a column written by Charles McCabe for the San Francisco Chronicle and entitled “Nixon As King”. It says: “He [Nixon] gave…a sworn deposition to the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, about his presidential role in authorizing peace time wiretaps.” Nixon told the committee: “It is quite obvious that there are certain inherently governmental actions which, if undertaken by the sovereign [my emphasis] in the protection of the interest of the nation’s security, are lawful but which, if undertaken by private persons, are not.”

I recall quite vividly that, at the time, I was so incensed at such hubris that I tried to raise a stink about it. Not everyone, however, was as bothered as I was. Bill Moyers’ office, for example, insisted that the quote was: if the president does it, it is not illegal.” And just yesterday I heard Al Franken on Air America radio saying the same thing.

While Bush & Co have not, to my knowledge, used the term sovereign in their recent efforts to justify their illegal actions, I have noticed a tendency in the press to use wording such as “Our Imperial Presidency”; “The Emperor’s Powers”, (see The Nation, Jan. 9/16, 2006, p.4); and the word “King” seems to show up in congressional dialogue; notably, by Wisconsin’s Senator Russ Feingold. In any case, from my point of view, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush have considered themselves, for some unexplained reason, to be above the law. What else could it mean to say: if the president does it, it is not illegal?

Thus I have concluded in my own mind that – like Nixon – Bush has violated his oath of office in this and other instances and there is no alternative but to impeach him. Otherwise, we - and I include members of congress in we (as in We the People) - will have failed in the obligations to the United States of America we inherited when our forbears established the constitution on our behalf.

What do I propose to do about it? First, I am sending this to you and as many others as I can think of in the hope that if you agree with me, you will forward it to others who might, in one way or another, join in. Second, I intend to communicate with as many decision makers as possible, starting with Michigan congressman John Conyers and the dynamic California triumvirate of Feinstein, Boxer and Pelosi. One of Mr. Conyers’ programs “…encourages people to sign on to [his] legislation calling for the investigation of impeachable offenses.” Another is to censure Bush & Co. I happen to equate censure with a slap on the wrist but as I read his Bill of Particulars, I can see it morphing into the Articles of Impeachment. So I hope. Mr. Conyers’ E-mail of 5 Jan 06 ends with these words:

Help send the message to the President, the media, and the American people that we want an end to the war and we are not going to stand for an imperial presidency any longer.

That is what I am trying to do.

Sincerely,
Carroll S. Rankin



Betraying America With a Drug Plan

In all, the new Medicare Drug Benefit Program, which has an estimated 24 million Americans "covered" has only really benefited an additional 3.9 million Americans. The other 20 million (or so) Americans who are covered under the plan (or is that scheme) were covered previously by employers or their state's Medicare programs. When you take into consideration that the Bush administration lied to get the plan passed, initially saying that 39 million Americans who previously had no coverage will now have coverage. Then those numbers were changed to 29 million. They are nowhere near that goal.

Another lie that the Bush administration threw at the nation and congress (I feel it necessary to exclude "congress" from "the nation" as they appear to not be a part of the nation anymore) is the cost of the Medicare Drug Benefit Program. Knowing that the program's price tag was severely understated with a cost of $400 million to the US taxpayer, the Bush administration went through with using that as the cost anyway. The real price tag puts the cost to the US taxpayer at somewhere nearer to $750 million. That's a whole lot of zero's! When a government accountant suggested that he would come forward with the truth, he was threatened with the loss of his job.

The Veterans administration has the ability to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for prescription drug prices. The edicare Drug Benefit Program does not. In a cost comparison of 20 widely used drugs, the best price for all of but one of them were obtained by the VA, not by the bevy of small companies that provide the "benefit" of the edicare Drug Benefit Program. In all, the VA pays on average 48 percent less for their drugs than the Medicare program. The US government pays for 75 percent of the drug program cost, which means the US taxpayer, made up mostly of the American middle class, pays for the escalated cost of the drugs.

Another point to be made is that the drug companies pushed for numerous drug card providers. The reason is the fear that someday, most likely in the near future, a single provider of the drug cards and programs would negotiate drug prices on their sheer size alone, similar to the weight that the VA puts on them. With untold numbers of providers the fear of negotiation is drastically reduced.

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and the Drug plan administrator Dr. Mark McClellan (yes, he is the brother of Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary) like to tell us all about the "success" of the Medicare Drug Benefit Program. They call the million-plus people that have had trouble filling their prescription mere "bumps in the road". They point out as fact the short period of time that the plan has been in place. In actuality, the drug scheme has been well thought out by those who are poised to make the most money from it (the pharmaceutical industry, in case you couldn't figure it out) for a long time. The government of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush has had this scheme in place for over two full years. Any bumps in the road" should have been paved over a long time ago.

As we have shown here at Madman, through the NationalView website, before, an elderly person earning over that magical $12,000 per year figure, with $500 per month in prescription drug costs will be responsible, out of their own pockets, for about $4,000 of the $6,000 it will cost just to keep them alive. There are schemes set up like donut holes, high deductibles and, my personal favorite, differences in drug costs from plan to plan that could offer an elderly person a "deal" on one drug while ripping them off for another.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was right... Scrap the whole thing and let's start from scratch.

-Noah Greenberg



Hypocrisy and the New Stick

So Rep. C.W. Bill Young's (R-FL) wife was asked to leave and escorted out of the State of the Union address two nights ago because she wore a t-shirt that said "Support the Troops". As we said before, that is obviously not what the Bush administration does otherwise Mrs. Young wouldn't have had to remind the president of his duty to do just that.

"They said I was protesting. I said, 'Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'"
-Beverly Young, the wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young

Does anyone here ever remember calling a police officer "an idiot"? Does anyone here ever remember calling a police officer "an idiot" and then waking up in an emergency room or jail cell? Isn't it nice to see the way the wife of a Republican leader treats the Capital Hill police? I just want you all to think of what would have happened if a Democrat's wife or husband would have called a police office "an idiot". What would the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party faithful say then? In fact, when Cindy Sheehan was "removed" from the Capital for "protesting", and then arrested for having the temerity to not be related to a congressman and exercise her first amendment rights, she was respectful and left without a fuss.

The very next day, Rep. Young had what best can be called a "hissy-fit".

"I just called for the chief of police and asked him to get his little tail over here. This is not acceptable."
-Rep. Young

"Chief Gainer should be commended for doing something that happens too infrequently in Washington - he took responsibility for a mistake and he stepped forward to correct it. By dropping charges against peace activist Cindy Sheehan, who was my guest at the State of the Union Speech, Chief Gainer stood up for free speech and fairness.

"President Bush could take a lesson from the Chief."
-Rep. Lynn Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), regarding the release of Cindy Sheehan, her guest at the State of the Union address, from a DC prison and the fast action and responsibility taken by police chief Gainer

Bush learn something? Not likely as he is too arrogant for that.

And isn't it nice to know that a Republican congressman from Florida could cause so much problems because his wife was "insulted". Do you think that he was also upset at the way Cindy Sheehan was treated? Do you think he was ever this upset when someone else's first amendment rights were violated? Just what would have happened if, say, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) had called the chief of police and ordered him to "get his little tail here"? What would the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party have to say then?

And isn't it interesting to see how Rep. Woolsey responded to her guest, Cindy Sheehan's situation. Quite a difference between the two congress members, don't you think?

And, if all of this chest-thumping that this elitist congressman, Rep. Young, had just performed wasn't enough, he felt it necessary to step onto the floor of the House of Representatives and show us all his sensitive side. Young held up the t-shirt his wife wore the night before and told us all, while crying, that the shirt was "defending our freedom". What a powerful shirt that must be, and what a phony this guy is.

Crying is the new stick that the Bush-led GOP and other Right-Wingers uses to beat back the critics. (maybe we should cal it the new "schtick"?) In the past, we have seen the likes of Reverends James Baker and Jimmy Swaggert get caught with their hands in the cookie jar (as well as other places) crying for forgiveness. More recently, we had the tears of Mrs. Samuel Alito as front-page news as she broke down at a question from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who mostly lobbed soft-balls at the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice. And now we have a sobbing Bill Young using the "Crying Card" as his weapon of choice.

Being out of touch with the average American as well as using "manipulation as a tool" are how the new GOP chooses to operate in the new America of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush. I think it's time for the American public to wisen up.

-Noah Greenberg and Robert Scardapane



Woof

The State of the Union speech may be an indication of what Bush has been watching on TV before hitting the sack... Which version of Island of Dr. Moreau do you think he was watching? It kind of reminds me of Dan Quayle's desire to explore the canals of Mars. They're just mixing up their science fiction viewing with reality. Bush needs encouragement to get so preoccupied with animal-people that he forgets about everything else.

-Leigh Davis



The following is a note I received in my email:

A $22 Screw?

Dear Internal Revenue Service:

Enclosed you will find my 2005 tax return showing that I owe $3,407.00 in taxes. Please note the attached article from the USA Today newspaper; dated 12 November, wherein you will see the Pentagon (Department of Defense) is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA has paid $600.00 per toilet seat.

I am enclosing four (4) toilet seats (valued @ $2,400) and six (6) hammers valued @ $1,029), which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total remittance to $3,429.00. Please apply the overpayment of $22.00 to the "Presidential Election Fund," as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one (1) 1.5" Phillips Head screw (see aforementioned article from USA Today newspaper detailing how H.U.D. pays $22.00 each for 1.5" Phillips Head Screws). One screw is enclosed for your convenience.

It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.

Sincerely,
A Satisfied Taxpayer



In response to President Bush's statement "So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid," Robert Scardapane writes:

Lions and tigers and "baby boomers" oh my! Lions and tigers and "baby boomers", oh my!

So much fear mongering over the "baby boomers" retiring. The actuaries of the social programs have known the demographic trends for decades. But, the Bush-itas act like they discovered something new. The social programs were geared to cover the baby boomers retiring. The real crisis is Bush's borrowing of the money set aside for those programs. What does Bush propose to resolve the crisis? Make the tax cuts permanent! Now that my friends is robbery.


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-Noah Greenberg