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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes


I don't know how they did it, but they did it. The global corporations... the same ones who brought you outsourcing, the trade deficit, global warming and Fox News Channel have convinced us all that buying American is somehow Un-American. Figure that one out.

Somewhere along the line we went from "Look for the Union Label" to "but it costs less to make it over there."

Are we that stupid?

Think of former Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX). Here's a guy who went to free college and lived in subsidized housing, then tried to take it all away from anyone who came after him who might need it.

"Hey, I got mine..."

Back in the fifties and sixties, one out of every American worker was in a union. Items were made in America and THAT was good for the economy. more importantly, items were made here in the USA as well, and, somehow, everyone was able to afford them.

"Outsourcing... is a good thing,"
-Former chief of President Bush's economic advisors, Dr. N. Gregory Mankiw

I say employed Americans making items for other Americans to buy is a "good thing", Doc.

Remember this one? "Made with Pride in America". I sure do.

I dare anyone of you to go to a store in any of "America's malls" today. Find an article of clothing, a staple like underwear or socks or a pair of pants. Even Levi's aren't made in America any more. Tell me, what was more American than a pair of Levi Strauss dungarees?

The Bush administration, and their global corporate elitist "base" of "have and have-mores" have convinced Ma' and Pa' that they no longer can buy clothing made in the USA... that it costs too much to make it here. They ask us rhetorical questions like "Do you want to pay ten dollars for a pair of underwear?" Those goods (cotton) are still milled here and much of the underwear in Macy's is manufactured in Canada. When did they become a third world nation.

The day we offer health care for all in this country is the day we make the world economic playing field near-equal again. The original design of a one-world economy was to raise everyone on planet Earth's economic level so they could afford to buy the stuff we make here in the USA. Well, not only are their economic levels worse, but ours is as well, and we don't sell anything more than a token amount to China or India or Vietnam or any of the other "make it for pennies a day" nations.

And what have we gained? Take a look at the inflation level for items like clothing. Those prices go up as fast or faster than our shrinking salaries while the people who manufacture them are forced to live in squalor and work 18 hour days next to their children.

Reaganomics... What a concept. George H.W. Bush was right... these are the days of Voo-Doo Economics.

Go into a Wal-Mart (just to check prices, not to buy anything) and see the "quality" of the merchandise you're buying... I like to call it "disposable clothing". When my mother bought me a shirt or socks or underwear in the sixties and seventies, I wore it until I grew out of it. My mother would buy me clothing 2 sizes bigger than I needed because she knew I'd grow into them. Today you buy an item at "America's Retailer" and its washing your car in 2 months (if you're lucky).

Where are all of those savings going anyway? If they aren't going into our pockets in the form of savings; and they aren't going to the men and women and children who are making the goods; and they aren't going for the creation of "The New American Jobs" that "G"lobal "W"arming Bush is always talking about; or the great American Education System, then just where are they going?

Take a look at the average CEO salary and compensation package, lobbyists and political PACS for the answer. It's all right there.

-Noah Greenberg

CMS Officials Exit Through Swinging Doors to Join Insurers? Trade Group

According to the publication Modern Healthcare, three key Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials are leaving the agency for positions with the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) trade group. Craig Miner will be AHIP's Executive Director in charge of pharmacy groups, while Patricia Smith and Sue Rohan will become vice presidents. The three are the latest examples of CMS and Capitol Hill leaders joining the groups they had a hand in regulating. Previously, while Thomas Scully was overseeing passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 for the White House, he was simultaneously heading CMS and securing a lobbying position with a firm that represents several drug companies. Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), who chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce during the writing of the Medicare law, later accepted a multi-million-dollar deal to become president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the drug industry's lobbying arm.

-The Alliance for Retired Americans, as described in this weeks alert

Medicare Part D - another interesting tale of foxes watching the hen house.

-Forwarded and commented by Annmarie Polinsky, Retiree Benefits Advocate, CWA Local 1180



"One of the biggest threats to development in many countries -- including this one [Jakarta, Indonesia where speech is given] -- is corruption…We are now working on a common strategy to blacklist firms that engage in corruption in our projects and to share information on these firms."

Paul Wolfowitz spoke these words and vows to have the World Bank set up corruption teams for "high-risk" countries.  I just wonder if he is going to put the U.S. on that list of “high risk” countries since corruption is the question?



The Washington Post released their new poll on April 10th.    The typical results reported from this poll are:

-         Approve of GW Bush job as president = 38%

-         Disapprove of GW Bush job as president = 60%


What is not typically shared is how this breaks down.  Yes, the details say even more.  The 38% is comprised of 20% that strongly approve and 18% that somewhat approve.  The 60% is comprised of 47% strongly disapprove and 13% somewhat disapprove.  LOOK at how this breakdown has changed over time which shows how much STRONG disfavor has shifted towards bush even moreso than the more generalized approval/disapproval ratings.

                                    Strongly App    Somewhat App            Strongly Disapp      Somewhat Disapp

April ’06                      20%                 18%                             47%                       13%

Oct. ’05                       22                    17                                45                          13

May ’04                       31                    17                                36                          14

Oct. ’03                       30                    26                                29                          13

Oct. ’02                       39                    28                                16                          13

Oct 9, ’01                    76                    16                                3                            3

Sept. 13, ’01                63                    23                                6                            5

Sept. 9, ’01                  26%                 29%                             22%                       20%


What becomes obvious when following the trend of numbers month after month is that the “somewhat approve” and “somewhat disapprove” numbers don’t shift dramatically after Oct. ’02.  What does shift is the “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” which means either people are slowly and systematically moving from “strongly approve” to “somewhat approve” to “somewhat disapprove” to “strongly disapprove.”  OR, they are dramatically moving from “strongly approve” to “strongly disapprove.”  Either way, when the numbers are conveyed as “approve/disapprove” it doesn’t truly convey this underlying slip from “strongly approve” to “strongly disapprove” which must be the most frightening downtrend to republicans.  To say 38% approval vs. 60% disapproval (58% more) is bad, but to say 20% strong approval vs. 47% strong disapproval (135% more) is disastrous.

A very similar trend is emerging with the “strong” feelings regarding Iraq though only the overall numbers were tabulated through June ’05. 

Other results regarding Bush’s performance:

-         About a 50/50 split on approval and disapproval for US campaign against terrorism

-         40% approval vs. 59% disapproval on the economy

-         37% A. vs. 53% D. for prescription drug benefits (which was almost the opposite in 2003)

-         33% A. vs. 61% D. on immigration (which has been similar for the last 15 months)

-         33% A vs. 62% D on health care (which has remained about the same since 2002)

-         23% A vs. 74% D on gasoline prices


If the election of US House of Representatives was held today how would you vote?


-         54% Democrats vs. 40% Republican (the last time there was at least a 12%+ spread was 1996, 1988, 1984, and 1982.  Even in 1994 when the republicans took control of the house the spread wasn’t this far apart.)


Notice in the answers below that dems have the advantage on EVERY issue.  Which political part do you trust to do a better job handling?

                                    Dems               Reps

- Iraq                           49                    42        (a reversal from 2002)

- Prescript Drug Prog   59                    31        (always about the same)

- Economy                   49                    43        (always about the same)

- Immigration                50                    38        (no past data)

- Terrorism                   46                    45        (30% dems, 51% reps in 2002)

- Health care                61                    29        (increased over 10 points for dems since 2002)

- Corruption                 52                    27        (no past data)


A new question was added.  Would you describe Iraq as currently:

-         In a civil war = 30%

-         Not in a civil war but close to one = 49%

-         Situation less sever than that = 18%


Another new question.  Do you think illegal immigrants take jobs that other people want or take jobs other people don’t want?

-         Other people want = 29%

-         Other people don’t want = 68%


Clearly the following results show why Rep. Hassert and Sen. Frist are trying to back peddle as quickly as possible on their rigid proposals.  Reactions to 3 proposals for immigrants:

-         #1 Let immigrants who live here a certain number of years apply for legal status and eventually become permanent citizens if they meet specific conditions like paying a fine and back taxes = 63%

-         #2 Let them pay a fee and work here for a limited number of years after which they leave = 14%

-         #3 Declare all illegal immigrants to be felons and not allow them to work here legally = 20%


For those who disapprove of the Medicare prescription drug program (45%), who would you say deserves most of the blame for the program?

-         Bush and the republicans in congress = 73%

-         Democrats = 11%

-         Both = 12%


-    -Casey Sweet

In     In response to FEMA's Donald Powell, Hurricane Katrina and ideas like "Fix the levees and make them Category 5 Proof", Anonymous writes:

Until George Bush was elected, the City of New Orleans had survived hurricanes for more than a century. No one, in all of the conversations about Katrina, has said anything about any hurricane flooding in New Orleans, other than Lower 9 in Betsy. It's a lot like being pregnant - there are no degrees. If the levees hold, a three foot elevation is not necessary because there will be no water. If the levees don't hold, a fifteen or twenty foot elevation would be required - three feet would accomplish nothing.

This is standard Bush administration tactics - make it look like you're doing something significant and important while accomplishing nothing. Now, being a native and long time resident of New Orleans, and being familiar with how politics is done in that part of the world, I am constrained to wonder: who benefits? Do I want to buy stock in concrete companies? There is no dirt to move around and create the elevation, hence a lot of concrete will be required. Do I want to buy stock in the local contractors? My answer to both is yes, which means I really ought to "follow the money."

Such a measure will make reconstruction even more expensive than it is now. So, given that some people already cannot afford to rebuild their homes, if a significant surcharge is now imposed to elevate the house, then more and more people will not be able to afford to rebuild and must sell their land. Now, I want to buy stock in the developers, and believe me, that's a fascinating political money trail to follow.

The bottom line is that the higher the cost of reconstruction, the greater the number of peoplewho will not be able to afford to rebuild, and the higher the socio-economic status of the people who do rebuild and vote in New Orleans. Within a decade, the city will be transformed. It will be much whiter and much higher ncome than before, and both trends in the south translate to more Republican. Meanwhile, the nonwhite voters who have been forced to take refuge in Texas and Georgia will have no choice but to remain and will find their votes swallowed up by the already existing Republican majorities. What amazes me is that the administration is going to such efforts to collect 9 electoral votes. That doesn't make sense. So, why are we doing this? Two clear alternative answers: they are stupid and don't realize the inanity of the three foot elevation proposal, or there is money to be made. I can't discount either - the last six years have demonstrated conclusively that the two principal motivations of this administration are stupidity and greed. Take your choice.

In response to Pot and health Care, Billie M. Spaight writes:

Re: Pot: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Spiraling health costs, the Bushies out to nuke Iran, the ongoing war in Iraq, immigration debates, terrorism, loss of due process, etc., and those people up there are worrying about POT???? Their brains must have frozen up or something.

Pot is one of those victimless "crimes." The U.S. would do a lot better to tax and regulate it. Bam--a whole new industry with jobs and revenue coming in--and cuts in the money used to bust these people too. It's win-win all around. It cannot be any worse than liquor anyway.

Re: The three states and healthcare: Well, it's good to help children but that doesn't help the rest of us. And Massachusetts is NOT helping the masses. In fact, Romney says he will gut the parts of the legislation that are designed to offer free care to the poor. And, as I've said before, the middle-class is going to be slaughtered in this. Pataki, over here, is cutting the Medicaid budget. We have to go single-payor.

All this is enough to make ME want to smoke a joint--just to forget all the pain and trouble. I've had a pain in the side of my head that won't go away but I don't want to use up the last remaining money of this year's scrip coverage on more antibiotics, so I'll just live with it.

In response to Robert Scardapane's take on Immigration, In writing about immigration, Carol Yost writes:

I don't think Robert Scardapane is being so original here. His first three points (advocating border enforcement, convicting employers of illegals, and enforcing the law against illegals, including deportation for some, including criminals) are not at all just to immigrants, I feel, except of course for punishing actual drug dealers, etc. People are not thinking of what an immigrant really goes through. If it were that simple to follow the law and get into this country, do you think people would risk their lives to get in and then work down-and-dirty jobs for low pay and no benefits, be exploited by unscrupulous employers, and go through horrors trying to pay off the smugglers who got them in? I keep reading about how the undocumented immigrants have it so easy. Are you nuts? The only reason they do it is to try to escape even worse conditions at home. As long as things are so rough elsewhere, people will find any way they can to get in. Meanwhile, in their work here they usually pay taxes in wage deductions for benefits and protections enjoyed by others and not by them. They even have to pay for a Social Security they don't get. We all get the benefit! This is all on the side of those Republican bluebloods.

The only point of his I agree with is the part about getting rid of CAFTA, NAFTA, WTO, etc. They're making matters worse.

Today's Monster Quote


"No regret, no remorse,"

-Zacarias Moussaoui , the 20th 9/11 hijacker at his trial today


Do you still believe that there is no need for a death penalty?


-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg