This is What Democracy Looks Like

Valentine's Day Madman

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It ain't guns that kill people, it's Republican Vice-Presidents that kill people.
-Robert Chapman

Today's Media Madman Quote in the Lead

"Now Cheney's got a taste for human blood,"
-Randi Rhodes of Air America Radio, warning all of us of the reason to be more afraid


Something tells me this isn't the first time.


-Noah Greenberg

Cheney Done It

The National Journal is now reporting that Libby admitted on the stand that he was authorized to leak classified national security secrets by none other than Dick Cheney and other White House "superiors." This new bombshell is terrible news for the Bush White House.
-Forwarded from the DSCC

Was there ever any doubt? After all, Libby reported to Cheney. It stands to reason that Cheney authorized the leak and maybe even dreamt up the scheme to get revenge on Joe Wilson.

Cheney should resign just as Agnew did. First Cheney then Bush as was first Agnew then Nixon.

-Robert Scardapane

An observation that said: "Do you find it odd that 2 men are out hunting with 2 women that are not their wives? Maybe this is the reason for the White House cover up of Cheney's 'accident'?" resulted in the following:

The four in the hunting party were: Cheney, Whittington, the divorced Katharine Armstrong and as Raw Story reports, Pamela Willeford, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland. Think about what the press would be reporting if it were Bill Clinton instead of Dick Cheney.

-Victoria Brownworth

Boy-Girl-Boy-Girl - Just the way it was intended . (Hey... isn't Cheney married?) -NG

The Story of the Administration of George W. Bush

Remember the last days of the Clinton administration? I sure do. We had a budget surplus. People were gamefully employed. There were good feelings among the people of the United States. Then...


The Bushies came back to Washington, DC.

Let's take a look at some of the things that simply, weren't the fault of the Bush administration (as they tell it, at least):

Oops: We didn't mean to disenfranchise mostly African American voters in Florida and steal the 2000 election. It just happened.

Oops: We didn't mean to ignore all of the experts who told us "Osama bin-Laden determined to strike in the Unted States". It was just a "historical document" that didn't mean a thing.

Oops: We would have moved "Heaven and Earth" to stop the hijackings and subsequent destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and the loss of life that resulted from it, not to mention the Pentagon and the people on Flight 93.

Oops: We didn't mean to lie to the United Nations and tell the workd that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction when all he really had were threats.

Oops: We didn't mean to say that Saddam had ties with al-Qaeda when, in fact, they were enemies.

Oops: We didn't mean to imply that "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Oops: we didn't mean to tell the citizens of the United states that Saddam is an "imminent threat".

Oops: We didn't mean to say that the Iraq War would "pay for itself".

Oops: We didn't mean to create a great, big tax cut that would create the largest deficit in this nation's history (inflation included).

Oops: We didn't mean to steal another election by disenfranchising more people in Florida and Ohio.

Oops: We didn't mean to have our troops stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 20 years or so.

Oops: We didn't really mean it when we said "America is addicted to oil" while our personal stock shares in oil and oil-related companies soar.

Oops: Dick Cheney didn't mean to cause the profits of Halliburton, the company he used to chair, and the company that still pays him dividends and other payments, to rise by more than 200 percent.

Oops: We didn't meant to cause the real wages of Americans to drop while the prices of health care and home heating and gas for our cars and staples like milk, eggs and meat rise disproportional to our incomes.

Oops: Dick Cheney didn't mean to shoot that GOP donor during a hunting trip. It was his fault for looking too much like a quail. (was that Dan Quayle?)

Like I've said before, nothing is the fault of the Bushies. They're just bad luck. Unfortunately, they are the schlemiels and we are their schlimazels. (A schlemiel is the one who spills the coffee. The schlimazel is the one he spills it on.)

-Noah Greenberg

Republican Taxation Evasion

I was watching CSPAN. One of my "favorite" Goo-pers , Chuckles Grassley (R-IA), was droning away about extending corporate tax breaks and the dividend tax rate at 15%. According to Chucky, this creates jobs. When are these Repugs goings to stop lying about taxation. The corporate tax holiday in 2004 did not create even one job. Studies done on the repatriated corporate income show that it all went into stock buy backs and CEO bonuses. What in blue blazes does dividend tax cuts have to do with job creation? Dividends are all about personal income! Are we to believe that just because a person makes more money, they will create jobs? There simply is no empirical evidence to support this "economic hypothesis". Sorry Chucky, I am not buying your baloney.

-Robert Scardapane

There Is No Caliphate

The Neocons have created the myth of an "Islamic Caliphate" determined to destroy "free Western" society. It's true that the followers of Bin Laden are dangerous criminals intent on driving Western nations out of the Middle East. But, there is no reason to think that Islamic nations are at all interested in unifying into a "Caliphate". This paranoiac notion fuels tension between the West and Islamic nations and is an excuse for decades of warfare. Reasonable people must resist this idea at all costs!

-Robert Scardapane

Liberals and Conservatives in Perspective

I want to share some of my opinions on conservative partisan agendas and you can bounce back yours. I agree that conservatives are a lot more aggressive than liberals in pushing their partisan agendas by means of propaganda. But are they more successful? Over the long haul, I doubt it. If they are so successful, why must they keep repeating the same lies over and over?

First of all, not all ideologues begin as idealists. I think the extreme ones have no moral ideals at all. They may fool others into believing they do (throughout history, clergy have been masterful at maintaining their power that way), and a few may even kid themselves. But many are cynics who are secretly well aware of their own greed--for money or self-serving power or some sicker urge like sadism. (But that's for another discussion.)

There is a noticeable difference between the way people perceive rightists (right, rechts, Reich, Dexter, dexterous, adroit) and leftists (left out in the cold, in left field, sinister, gauche). Why are these words so loaded? That smacks to me of manipulative propaganda, and if so, it's been going on for a long, long time and in many cultures and languages. And why are the truly pernicious propagandists mostly on the side of the Reich's? My studies in the history of dissent have indicated that opposing ideas of government (order vs. freedom) and of economics and social structure (divine right of the ruler vs. liberties of the people) are very ancient. All you need do is search through the Bible to see that the Jews were engaged in a continuing struggle in both Old and New testament times (Samuel's warning against oppressive and warlike kings vs. the mythicization of King Solomon's splendor; the socially-leveling Magnificat vs. Paul's hierarchies, and so on).

Nowadays anthropologists observe that modern hunter-gatherers and small herder groups practice shared leadership--what we might call democracy--or even anarchism, which is democracy without a formal structure. At first that may seem strange, since these peoples are considered to be technologically "primitive". But a growing number of social historians believe that the ideals of free travel, economic and political egalitarianism, leveled gender and class differences, etc., which seem so new, are actually the oldest social systems of all, formulated in a time long before conscious politics and economics. They are deep-time echoes, residuals of thousands of millennia during which our ancestors led wandering lives in extended families as hunter-gatherers, and their social pattern partially survived into modern times among a few isolated hunter-gatherers and certain nomadic herders. The few remaining hunter-gatherers, like the San of the Kalahari, are shorter and slighter in build than their ancestors because they have been pushed into undesirable starveling environments, but early people ranged out of Africa to wander all over the world, not on the ice itself but in the lush, wet grasslands, forests, tundras and jungles created by the glacial climate, where game and vegetation provided ample food and there was little incentive to fight other people. (Meeting another group of humans might have been an occasion for rejoicing and partying, exchanging goods and arranging exogamous marriages.)

As far back as the Neanderthalers, there's evidence that hunter-gatherers cared for their elders and their cripples, and early modern humans may have practiced other altruisms. Children were widely spaced--five to six years apart--to avoid burdening parents during migrations, and they still are in modern hunter-gatherer populations. Bones indicate that early modern people were taller, healthier, and stronger during the Upper Paleolithic, the final 25,000 years before agriculture, than in the Neolithic, that teeth were worn down in old age but in younger skulls almost perfect. Existence no doubt was harsh, weather and animals were dangerous, and migratory people without draft animals must carry everything themselves and can own very few possessions. Technology was minimal and refined only very gradually, but life was not as brief or dreary as we might imagine. From as far back as 35,000 years ago, as we know from Europe, Africa and Australia, art was not lacking. Migrators stayed healthy from continual walking; there was little pollution of air and water; they ate a balanced diet of meat, seeds, nuts and berries, enjoyed considerable leisure, and lived under much less brutal conditions than in the settled, agricultural period that followed. As recently as the 19th century, paintings and photographs of the Plains Indians and the Bantu herders of southern Africa probably give a fair idea of the way most humans looked before agriculture: muscular, lean, healthy and handsome. And let's not forget that the "good guy" in the Cain and Abel tale was Abel--a herdsman. If the deep-time thesis is valid, then there's a good possibility that liberal ideals are hard-wired into our brains. Thus, while the longing for a primordial free Golden Age can be cynically manipulated, warped and denied, it can never be entirely eradicated.

Cain, we remember, was a farmer. The onset of agriculture and animal domestication was a serious social devolution, but probably inevitable if humans were to survive. The world climate changed radically when the last major glaciation began to retreat around 12,000 years ago. Temperatures fluctuated for awhile, then tree ring chronology shows rapid global warming. Desert replaced grassland, forest replaced glacial tundra, sea levels rose and shrank available land. The invention of the bow and arrow--a technology of desperation due to the changing environment and dwindling game--may actually have accelerated the extinction of the great Pleistocene animals. Agriculture, for thousands of years accidental, then deliberate but uncultivated--seeded at an oasis as an occasional supplement to the usual diet--now became the chief source of food, in an attempt to ensure a steady supply. You could keep wandering while herding domesticated animals, even harvesting small stands of uncultivated grain, but seeding, cultivating, and harvesting large fields, improving strains and increasing yields, required settled farming communities. At the center of them rapidly grew the first towns and city-states. In my childhood the explosive rise in population and the rise of cities used to be lauded by paleoanthropologists as the signs of civilization; now it's viewed more suspiciously. Contemporary archaeologists see these early cities an indicators of tyrannical rule, with kings and priests lording over a population encouraged to reproduce as often as possible, to furnish more and more agricultural serfs and slaves for the great lords' latifundia and soldiers for their wars. True, the walled city-states brought forth many useful aspects of civilization like architecture, writing (including great literature), transportation, engineering and art, but from their beginning most of these states were organized into a warrior-priest hierarchy, and they relied on conquest and ex pension to keep their populations fed. Walled cities are a sure sign of territoriality and warfare, and it was in the early Neolithic that humans began to destroy not only each other, but their own environment by overpopulation and overgrazing within confined spaces. Slash-and-burn agriculture, which brings quick returns, wears out the soil rapidly. Surface irrigation, from the Near East to China, created vast salt flats and deserts where arid farmland once existed. Cutting down forests and the plowing of old forest land and grassland exposed the earth, killed benign soil bacteria and earthworms and dried the soil, creating dust bowls and extending deserts.

And the new foods were poor in nutrients compared to the omnivorous diet of earlier humans, which is why the "bread of life" is now viewed by some nutritional historians as the "bread of death" or at least of sickness. Archaeologists disinterring agriculturalists' graves in Egypt have found a scrawny, bone-deformed population (men from heavy carrying, women from kneeling and bending over all day to grind grain). These people were an undernourished, overworked, socially stratified and often necrotically diseased underclass whose bones resemble the condition of African slave remains from pre-Civil War American graveyards. Pollution and overcrowding of humans with animals and fowl led to transfer of bacterial and viral diseases that became the world's first plagues. Humans lost height. Dental problems increased, drastically in cultures that relied most heavily on grain foods, where stone grit from grinding ruined teeth already decayed from poor diet. Except for some of the warriors, the last ones to give up hunting, the upper classes were not much healthier or taller. The rich too ate bread. They led sedentary lives and their bones indicate obesity. Human longevity from the onset of the Neolithic to the end of the 19th century, even in the most technologically advanced nations, is estimated as being shorter than it was in the Upper Paleolithic and the next human phase, the Mesolithic. (There are rare exceptions, primarily from fish-eating regions.) For a good, balanced article on comparative longevities in English, see the Chilean science journal, Revista de Antropología Chilena Volume 32, N° 1, 2000. pp 33-40,

There were rebellions, of course. To keep the poor docile under the crushing new regimes, along with many other new specialized occupations and industries a new occupation arose. These were the propagandists for the kings and priests--although I'm not sure they've usually been recognized as such. They were lawyers and judges who wrote royal edicts in such a way as to either intimidate or soothe the lower orders, poets--many of them warriors--who recited and handed down epics of war and conquest, myth-makers who created and nurtured religions that supported hierarchy and taught the people to obey. Under different names they still exist, and their activity still goes on. To keep a tyranny flourishing there HAS to be incessant propaganda. Tyranny and submission to tyranny aren't hard-wired in us. They've been around no more than 10,000 years--the blink of an eye, compared to the almost numberless millennia of our freer ancestral past.

-Jenny Hanniver

Breaking News
Believed Shooting Victim Was Zawahiri, Veep Says

Vice President Dick Cheney revealed today that he shot a fellow hunter while on a quail hunting trip over the weekend because he believed the man was the fugitive terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Mr. Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on Saturday was not al-Zawahiri but rather Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on "faulty intelligence."

"I believed I had credible intelligence that al-Zawahiri had infiltrated my hunting party in disguise with the intent of spraying me with pellets," Mr. Cheney told reporters. "Only after I shot Harry in the face and he shouted 'Cheney, you bastard' did I realize that this intelligence was faulty."

Moments after Mr. Cheney's assault on Mr. Whittington, Mr. al-Zawahiri appeared in a new videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera to announce that he was uninjured in the vice president's attack because, in his words, "I was in Pakistan."

An aide to the vice president said he believed that the American people would believe Mr. Cheney's version of events, but added, "If he was going to shoot any of his cronies right now it's a shame it wasn't Jack Abramoff."

At the White House, President George W. Bush defended his vice president's shooting of a fellow hunter, saying that the attack sent "a strong message to terrorists everywhere."

"The message is, if Dick Cheney is willing to shoot an innocent American citizen at point-blank range, imagine what he'll do to you," Mr. Bush said.

Elsewhere, aviator Steve Fossett completed his three-day journey around the globe, setting a world record for wasting both time and money.

-By Andy Borowitz, Forwarded by Kelly Taylor

Tell Congress To Stop Hurting Your Healthcare

I have just read and signed the petition “Tell Congress To Stop Hurting Your Healthcare."

Key members of Congress are now pushing hard for passage of Association Health Plan legislation. If they are successful, you and your family might lose the few healthcare protections you now have under state law:

* You will lose your right to appeal if your AHP insurance company
denies your claim;
* You will lose basic limits on how much and how often your AHP
insurer can increase your premiums;
* You will lose the assurance that your claim will be paid, because
AHP insurers have no requirement to have adequate cash on hand; and
* You will lose guarantees of coverage for essential healthcare
services, including OB-GYN choice and mammogram coverage for women.

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. We are trying to reach 150,000 signatures: Please sign here! Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.

-Eddie Konczal

In response to GW's bad use of grammar, Stephen J. Spiro (apparently reluctantly) writes:

Ya know, Bush's handling of the language is bad enough that it is unnecessary (and, indeed, foolish) to put him down for imaginary grammar rules. Rhian (or you, I can't tell for sure) disparages Bush for using
Almighty without a noun.

First of all, adjectival forms are frequently used as abstract nouns. This is not merely acceptable, but elegant English grammar. Think of "The one, the true and the beautiful", or "The Naked and the Dead". Use of the "adjective" Almighty as a noun is at least 150 years old, and The
"Almighty" is now well-ensconced as a noun in its own right.

Somebody owes George Bush (well, his speechwriter, anyway) an apology, and needs a refresher in English grammar. And, as long as someone is going to criticize the president for grammar, he/she should watch one's own spelling. Vigilance in not spelled vigilance.

Grade for this essay: C

May The
Almighty bless us all!

In response to "More to the point, when a family needs help, it is our responsibility as a SOCIETY to make sure they get that help," Robert Scardapane writes:

To paraphrase, the British conservative Margaret Thatcher - there is no SOCIETY. Say what? Conservatives, British and American, actually think there are families but SOCIETY is a fiction. Does that make sense? Heck no as no family functions as an "island". This is just more Republican insanity. In fact, I suspect that Republicanism is a mental disorder. Indeed, it's not hard to understand that it takes a village for a healthy SOCIETY but first you must understand the simple concept of the common good!

Another response on "Cartoons" by Billie Spaight:

Guess it's time for the cartoon rant:

"Don't Hate Nothin' at All Except Hatred"

The kerfluffle about the cartoon printed by some Danish right-wingers is really far, far out of control. Both sides are wrong.

The people who created and printed the cartoon were wrong because the cartoon had no socially redeeming value and was designed specifically to offend and upset people. In our courts, obscenity would not pass the tests of socially redeeming value or community standards. Is that censorship? YES! Would that be right? I think so. One doesn't shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theater and that's exactly what happened in essence. The cartoon functioned as a shout that inflamed the passions of people who were bound to react strongly. And there is a law--at least in America--that one does not slander people. Slandering whole groups of people should be illegal too.

The people who overreacted to the cartoon with violence and actions against Danes in general are also totally wrong. Violence is not an appropriate response to an insult. Anger and protesting and boycotting would be more appropriate. And the actions should be targeted to the real source--not Danes, but the paper responsible for printing that odious cartoon.

It is my personal wish that people were not as sensitive as they are about their religions but that is not a wish that I can force on other people. While I can laugh at jokes about my religion, I know other people just cannot do that.

All hate speech against people's religions, nationalities, disabilities, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations should be illegal. Hate speech creates a hostile environment for people to live in. But in the meantime, illegal or legal, hate speech is a reality and one of the best ways to conquer it is to react with a show of indifference (even while one's guts seethe with fury) to the speaker. Another good way is to boycott or marginalize the source of the speech. And finally, sounding off with letters of protest or peaceful demonstrations are also appropriate ways to work out the anger.

One letter writer asked if World War III was going to start over a cartoon. It's a fair question. Like Bob Dylan said, I "don't hate nothin' at all except hatred."

In response to "What's next? Mount Rushmore, public Museums in the Capital. Heck, why not just sell the White House!", Eddie Konczal writes:

Maybe it would be better if they sold Mount Rushmore before Idiot George gets the bright idea to put himself on it!

Another Quote
A Good or A Scared Republican

"Congresswoman Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee overseeing the National Security Agency, has just broken ranks with her party, defied Karl Rove, and called for a full Congressional inquiry into the recently-disclosed domestic wiretapping program...On Tuesday Congresswoman Wilson refused to give in to Karl Rove's intimidation and called for a full congressional inquiry into the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Because Representative Wilson chairs the House Intelligence Subcommittee with oversight responsibility for the National Security Agency, this call carries special weight..."
-Working Assets – Act for Change Feb 9, 2006

-Forwarded by Kelly Taylor

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-Noah Greenberg