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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, March 31-April 2, 2006


A Quick Note on the Censure Movement
And Why it Should Go Forward

I know I haven't really printed much about the Censure debate going on in the Senate now, and there is a reason for it. President Bush's own words told us that he knew he needed a warrant to spy on anyone.

"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order."
- George W. Bush, April 20, 2004

One has to figure that, at the very least, GW was at speaking about the FISA courts

Next is Alberto Gonzales. He told the Senate that there was no ongoing warrantless spying program just three years ago We all should want to know if he was lying or if it was going on behind his back.

"...it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes,"
-The White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales

If he was lying, then he has some explaining to do. If he was telling the truth, which meant he didn't know that the US government was spying on Americans, then he couldn't have possibly been the "legal expert" that President Bush said advised him before the illegal wiretaps began.

The third and final observance I'm going to make about the NSA illegal surveillance program is this: If it was legal, as the Bushites have claimed, then why, in 2002, did they try to get the FISA law changed to allow warrantless wiretaps? As a matter of fact, the Bush Justice Department, in 2002 said that the FISA courts were "working well" and that it would require a "significant review" to change them.

"It may not be the case that the probable cause standard has caused any difficulties in our ability to seek the FISA warrants we require,"
-James A. Baker, the Justice Department's top lawyer on intelligence policy, to the Senate Intelligence Committee, July 31, 2002

Using the Bush administration's own words against them has become common-place. Unfortunately, lying, spin and explaining what the president "meant to say" has as well. You simply cannot trust a word that these guys (and gals) say.


-Noah Greenberg

A Letter On Censure

I wrote a quick letter to the editor this morning regarding the censure issue. I am asking you to circulate it with the request that your readers send a version of it to their local media. Let's see if we can get a groundswell in favor of the Censure resolution.

Dear Editors:

It is interesting that the GOP majority in the Senate is trying to delay Feingold's censure bill.

The Feingold Resolution to Censure President Bush for violating the fourth amendment of the US constitution is an action with huge mass appeal.

It would seem a much smarter course for the GOP Senate Majority to call an early vote on this matter before the Democratic activist base has a chance to mobilize and get the Democratic caucus to support the censure vote.

One can only conclude that the GOP senators are stalling to give the RNC time to educate and mobilize the GOP rank and file in favor of the President.

Clearly Bush is in a lot more trouble with the American public than the MSM is reporting.

-Robert Chapman

Premature Spinning

How bad is it in Iraq? An American citizen and journalist, released from her kidnappers after months held against her will, was forced to make a propaganda video and she wasn't mistreated and never threatened the whole time she was held. In fact, she wasn't treated well, she was threatened and she was all the time, a hostage whose life was in jeopardy every minute.

The reason Jill Carroll made this video and said all of these things was simple: she was still in captivity while she did so. Although technically a "guest" of the new Iraqi government (Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab political organization) , she knew that if she didn't participate in this charade, she might very well have been taken back to the same people who delivered her to the government, She was scared and would have done anything to get out. The Iraqi government facility was merely her "purgatory" to see what Ms. Carroll's next destination would be. It was her belief that she would be released if she extolled the "virtues" of her captors. She was right.

"During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me I would be released if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. So I agreed,"
"Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not."
-Carroll in a statement

Isn't it amazing how the right wing couldn't wait to jump al over Jill Carroll once her statements came out? Stockholm Syndrome was being thrown out as Ms. Carroll was still being kept hostage, this time by the Iraqi government. Does anybody really think that had she not acquiesced and said what they wanted her to say that her life would not have been in danger? How dare the likes of John Podhoretz, who yelled first for the Right, jump the gun in order to get "their message" out. If she were running for office, I'm sure they'd call her a "Manchurian Candidate" like they did to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during the 2000 Republican presidential primary.

"At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear, I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times. Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: One — that I refused to travel and cooperate with the U.S. military, and two — that I refused to discuss my captivity with U.S. officials. Again, neither statement is true."

The political Right in our nation needs for Americans to believe that all is going according to plan in Iraq. They'd like us all to think that anything bad that happens to Americans in Iraq is strictly their own fault. I'm sure if you asked the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson they would have told us that
God was punishing her and that's why she was kidnapped.

"I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes,"

I wonder how the right will spin this?

Get ready for President Bush, Fox News and the rest of the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople spin-misters to take credit for Jill Carroll's release. You're going to hear things like "We were working behind the scenes all the time." Don't buy it.

Iraq is a dangerous place made no safer by a new Iraqi government that rules with the use of death squads and fear. The Bush administration can sugar-coat it any way they like, but Iraq is their failure that will be left for the next generation.

-Noah Greenberg

Another Bush Coincidence

Hey, guess who President Bush has nominated to head up the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division? That's right: the guy who represented Wal-Mart in trying to prevent a class of 1.5 million women from suing the company for discrimination in pay and promotions! He also appears to oppose pretty much every regulation related to wages and hours ever passed.

What a perfect nominee. If he didn't exist, the Republican Party would have to have invented him.

-from Kevin Drum, comments by Victoria Brownworth

Quotes and Other Stuff

“You can’t accept a ham sandwich [from a lobbyist], but you can take your own ham sandwich on their private jet.”
-Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D- IL) speaking Thursday in referring to the lobbying bill passed by the Senate.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) was speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday about an immigration program with “blue” cards that can be earned by certain, designated workers, mostly agricultural. What is it about the republicans always having to set up color systems? Didn’t the supreme failure of Ashcroft’s color coded emergency system show the ludicrousy of such simplicity? Though, in reality, the terror alert system was very useful for republican political gain during the presidential election year so maybe this blue system also has some nefarious hidden political motive. It is hard to trust the motives of any republican anymore knowing that they tend to fall in line and do the bidding of the bush regime no matter how much their decisions damage citizens.

Senator Kyl finally defined what “out of touch” means to republicans. When republicans don’t like what democrats say or do they say that the public deems them out of touch. Oh, I missed that. So when Bush took us to war under false pretenses, hands out no-bid contracts, rewards the wealthiest with outrageous tax breaks, declines to fun no child left behind, neglects to provide soldiers with protective armor, flies back in the middle of the night to support interfering congressional acts with a brain dead woman, on and on – all of this constitutes being “in touch.” Well, I think I will stay out of touch, thank you, with a party that does not endorse war profiteering, regret being tricked into a war, don’t believe in tax breaks for those who don’t need them and who already receive many more breaks than working citizens, believe a persons family decisions should remain private, works hard to provide services and equipment to soldiers on the battlefield and when they return home, and constantly try to introduce bills that will benefit the greatest number of citizens and recognize the contributions of working individuals and not just value the wealthy. Yes, let me stay out of touch with this party.

For anyone who would like to see the facts of what both parties have done in the past 9 years in both the house and senate check out my favorite website - http://thomas.loc.gov/home/rollcallvotes.html . It gives all the bills, amendments, motions, etc. introduced and exactly who voted for what. It shows how many times (probably at least 9 out of 10) it has gone strictly by party lines and without a majority the democrats have little influence to get anything they propose passed.

“Presidents take note when there is no oversight…it is important to them…they push the envelope…it would have been good if Nixon had been censured.”
-John Dean

The Judiciary Committee held a 2 ½ hour session today with witnesses to address the censure resolution brought by Senator Russ Feingold. In opening statements, Sen Cornyn (R-TX) questioned why some one peddling a book who was a felon was on the witness panel. He was referring to one of his own from the past, John Dean of the Nixon White House and Watergate fame. When John Dean introduced himself he addressed Cornyn’s comments and immediately turned it into a positive by saying that it is good for Congress to hear from the dark side of politics of which he knows so much. He went further to say that he knows how wrong political thinking can go and for just the reasons Cornyn referred to him it is important that they hear this other perspective of underhanded politics. Point scored.

He went on to say that he was not there to sell books though writing them has informed and educated him more regarding censures and impeachments and that the book referred to was not coming out until summer and it had references to Sen Cornyn in it. Point scored. It seemed Cornyn had gone out of his way to opening discredit Dean as a witness when most Senators would have the decency not to, but after Dean’s comment it became obvious that Cornyn must have slandered him in public in a self-serving desperate attempt because he knew he would not be portrayed well in Dean’s book. And Cornyn accuses someone of self-serving? (What was that old saying of our mother’s – remember when you point at someone there are 3 fingers pointing back at you!). Cornyn did a “hit and run” which pointed out by I believe Senator Feingold because he never returned to ask a question. He just spewed his venom and left.

Ultimately, Dean showed that he knows more than anyone else about criminal White House activities and even when Senator Graham questioned him and tried to incorrectly recount and characterize what happened in the Nixon years, Dean was on the money and corrected his every mistake.

Another brilliant witness was Mr. Fein who knew every piece of law and interpretation associated with the FISA laws and related topics. He easily discussed Pres. Bush’s illegal acts and calmly corrected others who mischaracterized FISA.

Both Senator Feingold and Senator Leahy (shame, shame, shame on all the other democrats that did not show) vocally expressed that some strong sentiments. Feingold indicated some viable witnesses in the government who object to what bush is doing were not invited because a “cover up” is happening. At which point, the few republicans still at the hearing started shifting in their seats and started talking to aids. He continued to say, in contradiction of Senator Specter’s comments, that President Bush had “acted in bad faith.” At one point, Senator Leahy lost his cool, yelling to make the point that the administration refuses to give important information that the committee requests so there is no way to judge bush’s/gonzalez’s interpretations because no one knows what they are.

And where were the other 42 democrats? Did they all get caught with plans on a Friday? Is everybody that scared to say the Emperor has no clothes? Some of them must not be running for president and have enough courage to speak about bush’s illegal acts in public. Five republicans were able to show up to make statements and ask questions for a disproportionate republican focus compared to the 2 democrats. I was highly disappointed with them and proud of Leahy and Feingold. As my father once said when I stood up in a difficult situation to a bully – Thank God someone has the courage to stand up for what they believe.

-Casey Sweet

Free Speech & Corporate Bribery

I have a long morning commute and fill the time listening to radio. There is a channel I grown to enjoy musically but am revolted by the daily Donald Trump "observations on life" they play. Trump complained that people have a strange notion of "free speech". Specifically, he mocked a case where a person claimed that a gesture, associated with a curse, is free speech.

Corporations claim to be allowed unlimited campaign contributions because of "free speech". Corporations buy our politicians and use "free speech" as justification. I doubt that "The Donald" has a problem with this truly strange notion of "free speech".

-Robert Scardapane

We Told Us So

A lot of us predicted this would happen before the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq. That it's happened in Afghanistan is yet another criminal charge against Bush and Cheney.

Let's not kid ourselves, the same takeover of government by power-crazy, warmongering religious nuts is happening right here in the U.S.--except that in this country, whatever they REALLY are, they self-style themselves Christian or Jewish, not Muslim. There's little difference between one pseudo-religious right wing fanatic and any other, and we are saddled with a Bush administration that cares not one whit for democracy, women's rights or separation of religion and state.

We had an example that could have been followed in Afghanistan and Iraq, but wasn't. We didn't gently and gradually "democratize" Japan after WWII, either, but sent (of all people!) conservative Republican Gen Douglas MacArthur there to MANDATE liberalization of its constitution, ensuring universal adult suffrage and separation of religion and government to make sure that superpatriot religious fanatics (mostly Shinto, but some Confucian and Buddhist) were kept out of politics. The war party could not resume power because its religious authority was gone, and the Japanese army was shrunk and turned into a strictly self-defense force.

Miracle of miracles, MacArthur and his staff did a pretty thorough job of it, which shows the enormous difference between conservative Republicans back then and the evil crew nowadays who use those once-esteemed names. One of the results of giving women the vote was the appearance of laws for women's rights. The emperor became a Constitutional monarch, no longer religiously sacrosanct. Several extant Japanese peace groups quickly set up a climate of devotion to peace, which has lasted. The changes weren't perfect--workers' rights and minority rights (the persecuted Ainu) remained half-measures, maybe because the U.S. has never given much of a damn about those either--but they were still major steps toward making imperialist, religiously-hagridden, warmongering Japan into a peaceable democracy.

True, women in Japan have had to fight inch by inch to end religious and societal customs that kept them in thrall--but quite a few women have prevailed in many areas of society. As for pacifism in Japan, the U.S. has tried in every way to erode it in recent years, whining about needing Japan's Defense Force to fight "world terrorism", as if Japan didn't have enough problems with domestic terrorists like Aum Shinrikyo's fundamentalist "doomsday" cult! Because of U.S. pressure and cracks in the once-admired Japanese economy, there's been an ominous rise in warmongering, something that could bode ill for the future. But 50+ years of peace and considerable prosperity are nothing to be sneered at.

All I know is that this workable example was completely ignored by the stupes in Washington.

-Jenny Hanniver

In regard to the immigration debate and its tone, Billie M. Spaight writes:


I was starting to feel as if I was in another country or something. I am thrilled to learn that they too have had similar experiences to my own. Familiarity, instead of breeding contempt, created love and comfort instead. Maybe there is hope that we DON'T have to secede.

P.S. Jenny -- I have a question. Mt. Airy--is that where Chang and Eng came from? I would love to know more about that.

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-Noah Greenberg