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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Greater United States of the Americas

Let's have a new Mexican-American war. Then let's annex Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. everything down to the Panama Canal.

Then everyone we fear so much will be United States citizens. The "border wall" can be reduced from the present proposed China Wall length. We could build on to the Interstate system and the drive to Acapulco wouldn't be so difficult. We could also have a few active American volcanos and everyone would feel much safer. Then we should go for Canada.

-John Dwyer

Forgetting New Orleans

Well I guess it's true. Rome really wasn't built in a day, and New Orleans won't be rebuilt anytime soon either. In an effort to prepare us for their future failures, a Bush and company specialty, Don Powell, the White House's Gulf Coast reconstruction coordinator said it could take more than a generation to rebuild the Crescent City.

"This could be five to 25 years for it all to fit into place."

In other words, What's the rush? As long as the people that the Bushies want back in New Orleans have their homes and their lives back, who cares about the rest. While what they call "The Sliver by the River", the homes along the Mississippi that are worth millions, are inhabited and pretty and being lived in by the Bush "base", just a few blocks away in the poorer neighborhoods, the streets still look like something out of the war-torn middle east.

It's "out of our control,"

Sounds a bit like former FEMA director Michael "you're doing a great job, Brownie" Brown making excuses for the failure of his organization before and after Katrina hit. \

Why wait? Set 'em up for failure now, right Mr. Powell? I guess the cleanup of New Orleans will have to wait for future presidents to fix it, much the same way President Bush has pushed off Iraqi troop removal  them as well.


Passing the buck has reached a new level for the Bushites. It's now generational.

An additional $5.9 billion will be necessary to "fully certify" the levees around New Orleans according to the Army Corp of Engineers. I wonder if that makes them terrorist-loving followers of bin-Laden? After all, if we can't spend every possible dollar on the war in Iraq or on tax breaks for the Bush "base" ultra-elites, then there must be something wrong with these guys and gals.

"We haven't decided what to ask for,"

Well, I think the Army Corp of Engineers gave you a good start Mr. Powell... $5.9 billion. Coincidentally, that is how much it costs us for just one month in Iraq, the war that was going to pay for itself (according to the Bush administration's Pail Wolfowitz).

"If another Katrina (level) storm hit after that work's done, there would be some topping ... but the flooding would be all manageable," Powell said. "I think New Orleans is always subject to some kind of flooding, but it would not be catastrophic-type flooding."

So stop procrastinating and do as Larry the Cable Guy says already... "Git 'er done". What is so hard to figure out. These Bushites only know one thing: Excuses. What is unusual in this case is that they are making the excuses pre- next catastrophe.

So far there has been $3.5 billion allocated toward fixing the levees, and it has gone toward making life better for those who own the better homes on the "Sliver".

So, the question is this: when will the people of New Orleans, and places like the decimated and poorer lower ninth ward be able to come home? The "hospitable" people of Houston, Texas say "NOW".

''We still feel sorry for them. We still want to help them, but it's to the point where enough is enough,''
-Torah Whitaker, 25, of Missouri City, a Houston suburb

The crime rate in Houston has risen since Katrina and there are up to 150,000 refugees still living there. This is what happens when people are displaced and their hopes are diminished. I wonder what people like Torah Whitaker would have done had the shoe been on the other foot?

''The majority of evacuees are not thugs, looters and hoodlums. We'd like for the people of Houston to walk in our shoes.'' If Hurricane Rita had taken a slightly different course, the people of Houston ''just as well could have been in our situation.''
-Angelo Edwards, vice chairman of the Katrina Survivors Association and a victim of Katrina

Maybe if the people of Houston complain long and hard enough, President Bush will speed up New Orleans' recovery. Or maybe the Bush plan is to make New Orleans inhabitable for the masses so them and their votes will be absorbed elsewhere.

It's a good thing that Houston is in Texas. After all, Texas is the state where excuses are born.

-Noah Greenberg

John Podhoretz Attacks Jill Carroll

Amazing as it is, the reich wingers are already attacking jill carroll--and she hasn't been out of captivity for even a day! these people really have SO MUCH to answer for.

Today, Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll released after three months of being held in captivity in Iraq by kidnappers. The National Review’s John Podhoretz responded by attacking her mental state:

"It’s wonderful that she’s free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn’t beaten or killed — while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is — I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days."

This is a day that we should celebrate Jill Carroll’s courage. She put herself in danger to try to give the world a more accurate picture of Iraq. It is totally inappropriate to assume that her description of how she was treated is motivated by anything other than a desire to tell the truth.

Podhoretz owes Jill Carroll an apology.

-Victoria Brownworth

And I thought the release of a US hostage was some of that "good news" the likes of Podhoretz and the National Review were looking for.

Silly me.

-Noah Greenberg

An Immigration Story

My daughter-in-law's a recent (1996) immigrant from Korea, originally a "guest worker", which in that company could be defined as "a skilled engineer working for very low pay without any benefits, rights, respect, or chance of promotion." She's doing a lot better now that she has her green card--go, ChungMin! My ex-husband's father was an immigrant from Italy, and if he hadn't come to America just after World War One I wouldn't have my son. One of the finest persons I know here in Philly is a recent immigrant from Israel.

Having lived in Florida, southern Cal, Hawaii, Texas, NY, NJ, and east PA, even beyond Koreans, Italians and Israelis I've liked many persons who themselves (or their parents) came from Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, the West Indies, Nigeria, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Spain, North Africa, the Azores, France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Russia, India, Pakistan, Australia--you name it! That's America. Part of my liking for people from different cultures comes from spending early childhood in a mixed Italian-Czech-Hungarian-German-English-Swedish-Irish-Lithuanian-Presbyterian-Lutheran-Catholic-Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, and later, from three delightful early-teen summers spent at Methodist church camp, where there were always two or three on the camp faculty, and a few young campers, from some part of Asia, Europe or Africa. It also helps to have lived in 15 states and visited about 12 other countries. (My son beat me out; he's been to 27 foreign lands.)

I'm proud as the dickens of my own immigrant ancestors. Even the Shawnee ones were immigrants who just came over a lot earlier than the others. Whatever else Roosevelt did, I'll always love him for that caustic introduction to the D.A.R., "Fellow immigrants!" after they refused to allow Marian Anderson to sing in their precious whites-only hall.

There are plenty of immigrants in the U.S. who have a right to be angry--like those from Africa who were stolen and forcibly enslaved, from Mexico and other Latin American countries who were brought in only to do burdensome labor, and the original ones, the Native Americans, who were "ethnically cleansed" and their small remnants shoved into compounds called reservations. Moral imbeciles, some of whom should know better since their own ancestors recently came across the water, quite evidently want to keep on burdening, enslaving, eliminating and incarcerating these people and any others they don't happen to like.

I wish the guy whose African American neighbors don't talk to him--it might help if he talked to them--could visit Mount Airy where I live. If you want to learn about our wonderful totally mixed-up neighborhood, read the article in the April 2006 issue of O (Oprah) magazine by a certain Ms. Funderburg (who, typically, happens to be African, English and Dutch). I'll conclude by saying that when my blond, blue-eyed son was 15, we moved from Texas to Michigan after he'd been in a whole series of highly integrated (bussed) schools--including Arlington, VA, with an additional wealth of foreign-born kids whose parents worked in the Washington DC embassies, and Vietnamese kids from Little Saigon, only 6 blocks away.

His first comment after starting the fall semester in a suburb of Detroit was, "The school's OK, Mom, but the kids are kinda boring. They all look and talk like me." I wanted to hug him, but thought it might ruin an innocently insightful moment!

-Jenny Hanniver

Some Fun From Sean

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired of God. "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction, Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet, "replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while! southern Europe is going to be poor.

Over there I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people.

Balance in all things," God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God "That's Washington State, one of the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, plains, and coulees. The people from Washington State are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to be found traveling the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as dip! lomats, and carriers of peace."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance."

God smiled, "There is another Washington...

Wait until you see the idiots I put there."

-Sean, Mr. Blue-Sky

In response to all who have written on immigration, Kelly Taylor writes:

Regarding the IMMIGRATION issue: I too am skeptical of respondents like Rhian and Steve from N. Carolina - who are a little too fast and loose with stereotypes and inaccuracies. I was born and raised in the Southwest (Denver, Colorado) and attended public schools with a diverse student population that included large numbers of Mexican-American students and some African American students. I assumed all schools were like mine -- I don't remember any problems -- my sisters and I had Hispanic friends and we had African-American friends. Now, as a New Yorker of almost 30 years, I live in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cites in the world. And yet, when I see Mexican-American people here in the city, I feel excited and a little homesick.

So when the mean-spirited, cockamamie Immigration Bill was created in the House, my first thought was for the many immigrants who might be victimized by Republican Right Wingers who need a new scapegoat to divert our attention -- God forbid we stay focused on illegal wire-tapping, the obscene budget for the Iraq war, health care, education, Medicare, lobbyist scandals, etc. Republicans want us to be distracted and have found a new "bogeyman"- illegal immigrants (whose cheap labor this country enjoys and exploits daily.)

I DO believe we need some kind of intelligent immigration reform (as per Noah's suggestions) which were very intelligent, balanced and fair-minded. But, when I hear people like Rhian and Steve from N. Carolina spew their extreme "us and them" mentality, it makes me NOT like them. They remind me of narrow people who grow up in homogeneous communities whose parents are suspicious of anyone not like them. Shame on you two -- its individuals like you who are the scary people, the real bogeymen!

And in response to Rhian and the Mexicans, Billie M. Spaight writes:

Free Speech, Hate Speech, and Mexicans

I know your forum is open, but I would like to suggest another limit, if you would not mind considering it. Can we dispense with any speech that is obviously stereotyped, bigoted, and hateful? And the first person I would like to ban from this blog is Rhian. Most people on this blog, whether we agree or disagree about things, are trying to discuss what is going on in our nation and in the world with care and feeling. Most of us are, to the best of our ability, trying to understand things and express ourselves about them. Most of us are trying to find helpful solutions. Rhian is doing nothing more than spewing hate.

I know this puts me in a rather weird position because most of my ideas tend to place me pretty much on the left end of the political spectrum. But I have never felt that hate speech was justified. Even with free speech there are limits--such as not crying "FIRE" in a crowded theater. It is also against the law to slur or damage the reputations of individuals. Why should that not also be applied to groups? I've never believed that racist groups had any rights because they are (1) advocating the destruction of people and (2) slurring groups of people.

Now, let me get on to the Mexicans. For heaven's sake. Where the heck does this Rhian person come from anyway? She doesn't come from any place I have ever seen!!! I worked for a while with some people from the United Farmworkers who lived in Queens. True, I wasn't picking grapes but rather working on promoting the United Farmworkers. For hours on end, I sat no more than 5 inches away from a group of people who were working with me. And from time to time, their children would come over to say hello. I have eaten food prepared there too. And I never ever smelled or saw anything disagreeable. Nor did I expect to. The place, the people, the children, and the food were all impeccably clean and fresh.

When unrealistic goals for work are set, work quality will suffer. If a person is forced to go beyond his or her natural capacity to work in order to survive, quality is going to be the last consideration. Put that same human being in a productive and humane work environment, and that person's talents will blossom. There is nothing inherently inferior about Mexicans that would prevent this from happening.

Rhian, however, lacks the capacity to be a human being and I think her deficiency is just too big to accommodate reasonably. Give me three thousand Mexicans and send Rhian over the border! Or better still, take her and put her under a boiling sun and make her pick grapes till her fingers bleed for a solid year straight with very little sleep, substandard housing, and brutal hunger.

Has this miserable creep ever even spoken to a Mexican in her disgusting semblance of a life?

Yes, deport Rhian. That would make me happy. I am sure the U.S. will not suffer any great loss as a result. Send her back to wherever she came from so that she cannot poison our atmosphere with her filth.

Finally, what's the deal about the damn flags? On Sixth Avenue in NY we have flags from many nations. We have flags from all over the world at the UN. When we have parades, we get Italian flags, Irish flags, Cuban flags, and whatever else. I see flags for Cuba and Africa all over the place. So what? Who really cares? I like the flags. And we have TONS of American flags too.

Now I could see somebody getting upset if perhaps the government decided to become part of another country and stopped flying the U.S. flag in government buildings. But to borrow a phrase, Noah, the other flags are here, Rhian, get used to it.

What on earth would Rhian do if her cardiologist had signs in Korean and English? What about stores with signs written in Russian and NO English? What about Arabic writing over schools? What about bodegas? Man, sometimes I read books with French passages and no translations so I don't know what they are even talking about. I call FedEx at least 3 times a week and it's in English and Spanish. I cannot read most of the ads on the subway because they are in different languages. How about cab drivers that get directions wrong because they don't know English? Try having this on a daily basis. It's mostly no big deal. I figure if the Russians don't want English speaking people in their stores, they will get the business they want and don't need mine. If the ads are in Spanish, they are for Spanish people. No big loss. One less product or service to waste money on. And the cardiologist speaks perfect English. The cab drivers can be a bit of a problem though. . .I had to buy a GPS to overcome that problem. Well, they are working and doing the best they can just like everybody else. I sure would not like to have to navigate my way around a foreign country and not know the language. Eventually, the cab drivers will learn English or fail.

All my life, I have always heard different languages, smelled different foods, and seen different types of people. I've seen clean, proud, and hardworking people. I've used the little bit of Italian I knew to get bread for my mom in a bakery. I've exchanged Yiddishisms with people without even realizing it because my grandmother, a non-Jewish lady from Poland, spoke Yiddish among other languages. I've gone to the local bodega and passed the time of day with the proprietor. And I've worked with an Arab cabdriver to find our way to where were were supposed to be when we got lost. And has Rhian ever tried to get her cabinets painted by a Japanese fellow who spoke almost no English--with whom most conversations required a translator? (The cabinets came out quite lovely, thank you.)

Good Lord. Rhian should meet the people at my nephew's parties--Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Ukranian, Turkish....all of them in their newly learned English reaching out to one another to enjoy each other's company. All from the classes my nephew taught in English as a Second Language.

And yes, I've also walked out of places where my speaking English only produced glares or nodding heads with dumb stares. And I've also seen and smelled some awfully dirty miserable people--some new immigrants and some from familes that go so far back into American history that nobody even remembers when their ancestors got here. Try riding the subways on a cold winter night with people who are so filthy, it's impossible to know WHAT color or race or nationality they are. People whose lunatic mumblings defy anyone to figure out if it IS a language.

I have seen white people that were clean and white people that were dirty. Dirt, filth, and nastiness come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. No group is exempt from its rotten specimens.

And, you know what? All of this is life in its glorious, untidy way. I've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about Mexicans being here. Fact is, if they weren't here, I'd probably have a few problems that I don't have now such as a lack of good vegetables and fruits.

I wonder about something. Is Rhian a Native American that she should resent immigrants? Funny, I don't notice a lot of Native Americans complaining about THAT? We are ALL immigrants other than the Native Americans. We are ALL transplants. Somehow, somewhere, somebody in each of our lineages came over here. And the first settlers did not have visas, passports, or whatever. THEY were illegal immigrants too. America was founded by and built by immigrants. And every time one of us eats a piece of lettuce, drinks a glass of wine, or samples a piece of fruit or vegetable, it is because somebody was willing to do the backbreaking work to get it for us! The food we eat was all handled by Mexicans. I don't notice a rash of Americans dying or getting sick from that, do you? There but for the grace of God, go I. Send the Mexicans back? Well, then let's start by giving up all fruits and vegetables in our diets and see how healthy we get...o please!

Noah, whatever decision you make, I will respect it. I know it took a lot to even write the commentary above what this miserable specimen of INhumanity wrote. But if I have any input into the matter, I would suggest that Rhian be advised to tone down her contributions and rid them of hate speech or be banned from the blog. She makes me physically sick.

Everybody else, when we get our copies of Madman, let's delete anything by Rhian. And let's all write back saying we did it. Let's vote her outta here!

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-Noah Greenberg