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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Today's Bush Quote

"I'm optimistic we'll succeed. If not, I'd pull our troops out. If I didn't believe we had a plan for victory, I wouldn't leave our people in harm's way."
-President Bush today, in a news conference

So, in effect, the president is saying "I'm gonna have to screw up a heck-of-a-lot worse than I already have; make Iraq an unlivable place to be; and then pull out any hope for that nation to get back on their feet ever again before admitting I ever made a mistake."

I don't believe you have a "plan for victory", Mr. Bush, just a plan for occupation; I don't think you care that our "people are in harm's way", GW, just as long as your friends keep making the "big bucks" and it's only the middle class and poor that have to suffer; and as far as your optimism goes... I wonder how you actually define "success".

-Noah Greenberg

Questions, Questions

I have a question: Using the logic of Neil Cavuto of Fox News Channel (everybody who is not receiving unemployment insurance is no longer unemployed), if everybody in the United States suddenly lost their jobs, and then collected unemployment insurance for 26 weeks, would the rate of employment in the United States at the beginning of week 27 be 100 percent or zero percent?

I have another question: Using that same Cavuto-Fox-Logic, if there were no unemployment insurance at all (after all, don't the Bushites want to get rid of ALL entitlements - even though, technically, we all pay for part of our own unemployment benefits?) would the unemployment rate be similarly be 100 percent?

One more question: Since the poverty level for a single wage-earner (according to the 2006 Federal Poverty guidelines) sits at $9,800 per year; and since the American work week is considered to be a 40 hour work week (unless you happen to be pulling brush in Crawford, Texas for about half the year); and since the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, why is it that the poverty level is set below the minimum wage? (40 hours per week; 52 weeks a year; $9,800 earned averages out to a $4.71 per hour wage.)

No let's assume that 40 hour work week is being worked by a single mother who is stuck in one of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush's "Good Paying American Minimum Wage Jobs". Let's also assume that she lives alone in South Dakota, was raped by a stranger the result of which was an unwanted pregnancy and was forced, by South Dakota law, to have the baby. I want to know how that woman, who is coming home with exactly $9,892.53 (this assumes no federal or state income taxes and the standard 7.65 percent Social Security and Medicare tax), is expected to pay for food, rent, transportation to and from work, her baby's doctor bills and/ or medical insurance, a baby sitter (last I heard it was illegal to leave an infant home alone while you were at work - just ask the poor guy who lost his son in a house fire a couple of weeks ago how his trial is going) and any other incidentals that might arise? By the way, this woman's poverty level is set at $13,200 because there is a 2nd person in the household. I guess the Right figures that once you're out of the womb you ought to get a job. After all, there is 95.3 percent of all Americans employed, right Mr. Cavuto?

"Programs using the guidelines (or percentage multiples of the guidelines — for instance, 125 percent or 185 percent of the guidelines) in determining eligibility include Head Start, the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program."
-2006 Federal Poverty Guidelines, http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/06poverty.shtml

So let's assume that after a few years at her "Good Paying American Minimum Wage Job", this single mother actually got a promotion with a big raise. She is now the Assistant office manager and is earning $11.75 per hour. Her Salary jumps from $10,712 to $24,440 per year. Sounds great, doesn't it? But if we take a closer look we realize that any and all federally sponsored programs for the poor which use the Federal Poverty Level as an indicator would cease to help this woman and her child because she is earning just over the 185 percent mark to qualify for any government support at all.

In other words, at an annual salary of $24,419 (this assumes the raise would have been to $11.74 an hour working a 40 hour week), this unwed, raped, forced to have an unwanted child and take care of it mother would qualify for SOME federal relief (she would have to make only $16,500, or $7.93 an hour to qualify for ALL federally funded programs that use the Federal Poverty Level as their qualification standard).

The "leaders" or our nation and our states ignore our unemployed and the under-employed in order to make them invisible. They make laws which  infringe on their lives without considering the consequences. They force the beliefs of their "core constituents" on them, knowing it is against the law, to force a Supreme Court Showdown. They take from the middle class to pay for tax breaks for their ultra-rich global elitist friends while snubbing those in need.

These are states like South Dakota and Kansas who will make laws to limit our rights, regardless of the consequences. These are the laws that benefit the minority while ignoring the vast majority. This is the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party-led United States of America.

-Noah Greenberg

Many Religions - One God

I've lived in 15 states and perhaps 25 cities and towns, including NYC. Everywhere I've lived, even in the South (maybe ESPECIALLY in the South, where the issues are clearly defined!) there are plenty of Protestant ministers and laypeople ready to step forward and take the lead in fostering progressive political ideals.

A great number of our Philadelphia Protestant churches tend to be very activist. Celeste Zappala, one of the two leading peace mothers who lost sons in Iraq, is a long-time member of the church we nickname "FUMCOG" (First United Methodist Church of Germantown), where her sons Dante and Raphael and her late stepson Sherwood Baker, killed in Iraq, were baptized and learned their religion and liberal values. Sherwood, as many people know, was as much a liberal as any of us, a caregiver. That fine young man joined the Guard to serve the people of Pennsylvania and to pay off college debts, never expecting to be sent overseas to war; but he went because he was a sergeant and wanted to lead and protect the untrained younger men in his outfit, a decision I respect. FUMCOG has hosted many activist meetings, vigils and services, and Celeste's deeply-held religious faith--like Cindy Sheehan's Catholicism--is her constant inspiration and support. I was raised a Methodist, and know that I began the journey toward my own deep religious convictions and gained my passion for social justice in my teenage years in a small church in Wisconsin--and for political justice, since in our parish of largely conservative members, we did not turn aside from the struggle against Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and his destructive campaign against liberals, including setting his sight on liberal Methodists.

I couldn't even begin to name all the other Philadelphia Protestant churches that undertake progressive activities, but they include those that are racially mixed, largely white and largely black, not only United Methodists, but Presbyterians, Lutherans (including the local Lutheran Seminary), Baptists (the nationally known evangelical liberal, Dr Tony Campolo, is associate minister at Mt Carmel Baptist), Episcopalians (just step inside Church of the Advocate and look at the dynamic black activist murals!), United Church of Christ, Mennonites, Brethren, Friends and Unitarian Universalists. The Friends Service Committee hosts many vigils and rallies, opens their national headquarters to the Veterans for Peace chapter that I belong to, works within the nearby Liberty Bell visitors' center, and invites other activists for the public good who need space for meetings. At my own Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, in the Mount Airy section of Philly, our Social Justice Committee is the church's most dynamic committee--and we sometimes join with the equally committed Unitarian Society of Germantown and center city's First Unitarian Church, founded in 1794 by the great scientist and minister Joseph Priestley, after fleeing England to avoid arrest for radicalism. There are plenty of evangelical churches in Philly that join us for meetings and rallies, even some Pentecostal megachurches, and my own parish belongs to two local organizing committees for all religious denominations--Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim.

That's because so many people in Philly get into the act(ivism). Large numbers of Catholics in our city are committed to peace and justice. I've been to meetings at Maryknoll House/School of the Americas Center and at several Catholic churches. Rabbi Arthur Waskow of Shalom Center is an inspiration to us all. Congregation Mishkan Shalom and other local synagogues host progressive rallies and meetings, and I'm a member of one of the nation's largest and most active chapters of Tikkun Community,. It's nondenominational, but inspired by Rabbi Michael Lerner with most of the members being Jewish. Al Aqsa Mosque, with many members immigrants from the Middle East, is involved in peace and reconciliation efforts, and I know other Muslim individuals in our area who are passionate for peace and justice--including my next-door neighbors. Each summer for the past few years, all faiths (and unaffiliated) have joined in a Peace Walk that includes worship in three houses of worship--Muslim, Jewish, Christian.

Issues may differ from one denomination to another; That is natural, because there wouldn't be separate places of worship if there weren't differences of opinion. Some emphasize social goals that others might even deplore. But we keep on working together in a spirit of love and good works, as the Qu'ran (Surah 5:48) says: "If God had so willed He would have created you one community, but [instead] . . . compete with one another in good works." There is only one God.

-Jenny Hanniver

Media Madman

The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy article touting Condoleezza Rice for President and suggesting that George Bush might retain his power if Vice President Cheney and Karl Rowe would resign and Secretary of State Rice take over as VP. I felt compelled to scoff. Fred Barnes evidently is on the WSJ's staff, else his nutty proposal, complete with cartoon, would not have been posted by WSJ.

Re: A 'Third Term' for Bush

What a dreamer is our Fred Barnes, he of the firm-jawed, steely-eyed cartoon, a rather typical Looney Liberal Look that seeks to hide the callow, irresolute Narcissus. Vide J.F. Kerry.

George Bush, let it be known to all who have a basic political understanding, is toast. He has lost the support of his ultra-conservative and middle-of-the-road Republican bases, leaving him naught but those fickle financial elites who really do run this country and can (and do) lavish its wealth upon an army of politicians of both major parties.

Bush is scant months away from being destroyed utterly, like Doctor Frankenstein, by the cobbled monster he created. Only the cruel dilemmas of the Iraq war and the likes of J.F. Kerry and Teddy Kennedy have sustained his waning power to this point.

Good night, sweet Prince; and may flights of angels guide thee to thy rest.

Join the Howard Beale Memorial Society, http://www.networkcentralca.net. Denounce the hypocrisies of our times.

-Lew Warden

In response to Fox News and their distortion of the employment numbers, Billie M. Spaight writes:

I am glad you tackled that subject. I personally know three people who have been trying to find work for quite some time. One of them lost her job about 3 years ago and she is only partially employed now. Another one lost her job about 2 years ago and she is still employed. And my sister hasn't worked for nearly a year. Statistics, as we all know, can be twisted to "mean" different things. You dug below the surface to show how bad the spin is. There are many, many people who have dropped off the official rolls because they have exhausted their benefits. Has anybody counted welfare recipients too?

Sigh. More lies from our government as usual.

... and Sharon S. writes:

Dear Noah,

First of all, I enjoy the emails that I get from you.

Now to the jobs situation. The unemployment rate is definitely not a real one. They do not count people who exhausted their unemployment benefits. I know because I am one of them. I have been out of work for two and a half years. This is something that has never happened to me before. I am going into a home base business because there just aren't many jobs as an administrative assistant out there and the ones that are out there are "killer" jobs (very long hours).

Many white collar jobs are being outsourced. A friend told me that all of the word processing work from the former company that she worked for was now going to India. The Free Trade Agreements have ruined the lives of many workers in America.

Nobody wants to talk about the increase of layoffs and the lack of jobs. The jobs that are being created are low paying service jobs without health benefits. This country is in a mess and I wish that more people would take note of this and get up off of their backsides and do something about it.

Thank you discussing the subject. Keep up the good work.

In response to Victoria Brownworth's writings, Rhian offers the following:

Do you ever get sick of the viewpoint of Victoria Brownworth?

Anti-right to bear arms, anti-family, anti-religion, pro abortion, pro gay, and unable to see anything from any viewpoint except by the assignment of Republican/Democrat? She is as black/white a moralizer as any fundy Christian, the only difference being that she uses Republican=bad guy/black hat against Democract=good guy/white hat so incessantly as to become one of the most boring and predictable writers available to read.

The world is just not that cut and dried, not that simple, and people far more valuable than to be adamantly assigned by her dogma into two political classifications, to the exclusion of all other consideration.

Her articles are repeatedly facade without light, in a time of growing darkness. The Bush policies are beyond politics at this point, and will not be solved by political manouvering. But the more people are swayed that it all gets down to nothing more than Democrat vs Republican, the less chance 'we the people' have, of re-securing our Constitutional liberties and inherent rights, in the face of what is becoming rampant facism.

I did really love that raw, (unspun) data from the Department of Labor you published.

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-Noah Greenberg