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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, April 21-23, 2006

Green America

This is not a story about saving the Earth, although I think it's a good idea.

America is a nation of colors. We have Red States and Blue States; we have states that are red on the outside but blue on the inside; we have purple counties to go along with our "purple mountains majesty". But I'm looking for a "Green America".

Where is our "Green Zone"? Where is the place that is kept safe for us, the American Middle Class? I hear all of this stuff about the "Green Zone" in Iraq, its protection and how it is the safest part of the war-torn country, but where do we run to when things get ugly here?

I remember the year 1974 pretty well. That's the year where I was the same age my son is now, fourteen. I could go to a ball game with my friends without my mom or my dad coming along; I could ride my bike a couple of miles away without my mother calling the police; and I could drink a glass of water from the tap without boiling it first.

There was a feeling of good will during the years that Bill Clinton was president. In fact, all Fox News had to talk about, it seemed, was a chunky intern and a blue dress, neither of which made me feel scared.

George W. Bush has been president now for five-and-a-half years. In that time have our borders been made more impassable? No. Are we examining all of the containers that are coming in from overseas, at their points of origin, while they are on the ocean or even when they get into the US? No. Why, they're even allowing small knives and such on airplanes again.

Are we safer yet? Where is our "Green Zone"?

This administration ignored those whose job it was to make us safer. Some people say that Bush and company were complicit in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. All one has to do is look at the PNAC letter which stated the US needs another "catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." Just look at some of their members: Bill Kristol of Fox News; Bill Bennett, the do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do right wing radio host and former drug czar and secretary of Education; Ellen Bork, wife of former failed supreme court justice Robert Bork; Charles Krauthammer, another Fox News contributor; former Bush (41) Vice President Can Quayle and a host of other ultra-rich neo-cons and chicken hawks who think that the way to save America is to destru her first.

They ignored the advice of people in the outgoing Clinton administration like former Defense Secretary William Cohen (a Republican), national security advisor Sandy Berger and even those who they kept on, like anti-terrorism czar Richard Clark, who they chose to vilify rather than listen to.

When President Bush stood on the rubble of the World Trade Center just after 9/11, he had the support of the whole western world behind him. When we invaded Afghanistan, it seemed as if every nation was with us, even France. He could have used this opportunity to truly make the world, and us, safer from the evils that it had to offer. Instead, he chose political rhetoric, the politics of hate and division, and blame-casting, finger-pointing and buck-passing. He chose poorly.

Ask anybody if they feel safer now than they did five-and-a-half years ago. Ask anybody if they are better off now than they were then. Ask anyone of they wish they had their November 2000 or 2004 vote back to do it all over again. I wonder what the answer would be?

I want a place where my child could ride his bike alone or go to a ballgame with only his friends for company. I want a place where the the politics of fair play take the place of the politics of fear and division.

I want my own "Green Zone".

-Noah Greenberg

McLaughlin on Health Care

I watched the McLaughlin Group this morning and was surprised to see a panel without the usual suspects. In their place was a group of medical "opinionators" including, of all people, HHS secretary Michael Leavitt.

So much for "fair and balanced" out of the peacock network.

To his credit, John McLaughlin brought out all of the questions that most of us ask: What are we going to do about the 45 million Americans who have no health care coverage?; Why are we spending, at a minimum, more than twice the amount that any other country spends, per capita, on health care?; What are we going to do about the rising costs of health care?

To his detriment, McLaughlin didn't mention, not even once, universal health care, let alone a single universal health care payer plan.

The more I hear about "the market" taking care of health care costs, the more I realize that we need a single payer universal health care plan in this nation.

According to Secretary Leavitt, sick Americans are the problem with health care costs today. His logic was that Americans aren't taking care of themselves, therefore there are more Americans who are sick. Mr.. Leavitt feels that diet and exercise are the cure-alls that we need to cure the health care crisis.

It's all us fat Americans fault. (like there aren't any fat Europeans?)

Then the "panel" blamed the pen. That's right, the reason that our medical premiums are so high is because doctors have to write things down instead of being able to use technology to create the paperless office.

It's all the pen's fault.

How did doctors keep their prices down before we had computers anyway?

The "panel" came up with solutions, but they all seemed to agree on one thing: "HCA's" will save America. You see, their thought process is that if you have the market determine medical costs, everything will be all right. So, their plan is for you to go out and purchase a catastrophic health insurance policy, then to "haggle" with your doctors every tome you need to see him. They compared it with elective plastic surgery; They said that those who seek a "makeover" simply look for the best price and choose their doctor accordingly.

I think that's how some exotic dancers may choose their "boob" doctors. But I doubt that's how most Americans who can afford elective plastic surgery choose theirs. If they did, we'd see a lit of people walking around who look like Picasso paintings.

And once you have chosen that bargain-basement doctor for your simple procedure, you have to then hope someone won't outbid you for his services.

Let's imaging that your child breaks his leg playing baseball. You rush to his side, dial 411 from your cell phone to find out the cheapest ambulance to transport the child, who is screaming in agony. After calling Joey's Ambulance and pizza delivery service, and making a stop along the route for an emergency pepperoni at the local Frat House, you and your child arrive at the hospital. You ask for a list of orthopedic doctors and you call several for the best price. After the "lowest bidder" sees your child, he tells you that he'll need surgery. he gives you a list of anesthesiologist, scrub nurses, a medical supply company for things like oxygen, a list of sheet and gown providers and a few other nick-knacks that they're going to need and you go shopping.

This was their vision.

Now let me tell you my vision. Hurt yourself; go to a hospital; get treated; go home.

All through this discussion, not one of the "panel" of "experts" bothered to even mention a single payer universal health care program which, in our "competitor nations", keeps prices down and provides health care for all of their citizens. The main difference is the lack of profit being taken from their citizens and given to their for-profit health insurance industry. They didn't even bother to mention a single payer option as part of the discussion, not even to dismiss it. after all, if they brought it up, the would lend credence to it.

America, for all of our yelling and screaming that we have the best health care in the world, actually is in the bottom 22 percentile of all of our western world competitors.

I wondered why John McLaughlin chose to discard his usual panel, then I went to his website. His sponsors include insurance giants New York Life, Kaiser Permanente and Pfizer. I guess "fair and balanced" is in the eye of the beholder.

-Noah Greenberg

Rove In The Frying Pan

MSNBC's David Shuster thinks that recent court filings by Patrick Fitzgerald indicate Karl Rove will be indicted. Three key points made by Shuster on Keith Olbermann's show:

1. The latest court documents, for the first time, name Rove as asubject of the investigation.
2. The court documents go out of their way to say that Rove will not be called as a witness in Scooter Libby's trial, even though Rove is a key part of the narrative. Shuster notes that this is done when prosecutors want to "leave open the possibility of later charging that particular subject in a separate case."
3. Rove is referred in court documents as "Official A." Shuster says "in every single case we have found, Keith, that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald when he designates somebody as Official A in an indictment, that person eventually does get indicted themselves."

Oh please, oh please ... let it be so!

-Robert Scardapane

Drunken Sailors and the Taxpayer Gravy-Train

The following is from a friend of mine. I think he sentiments apply to those "drunken thieves" in Washington, too.

As Sent To The Editor of the Gloucester County Times
Woodbury, New Jersey, April 2, 2006

“Freeholders spend like drunken sailors on liberty”. So says Luis M. Perez, Gloucester County Times, Sunday, April 2, 2006.

As a seven year U.S. Navy veteran, two years of which were spent on active duty which included a stint in Vietnam and a Mediterranean cruise, I believe that I know a little bit about sailors on liberty. To compare the Freeholders to drunken sailors on liberty is an insult to every sailor who ever went on liberty and, in the process, might have gotten drunk! There is one big difference. That drunken sailor has to stop spending once the money is gone. There is nothing to stop a politician from spending as long as the taxpayer is available to fleece. Witness the fiscal mess in New Jersey. Beginning with Tom Kean and continuing through Christie Whitman and Jim McGreevey, the state has been spending at a rate that could not be sustained. Rather than fix the mess, it seems that every legislator in Trenton has climbed on board the gravy train and feasted like pigs at a trough!

Getting back to Mr. Perez. On behalf of every “drunken sailor on liberty” I demand an apology. Comparing us to fiscally irresponsible politicians is an insult which is too painful to bear!

-Bob Driscoll, United States Navy, 1967-1974

Santorum Hits The Bottom

Rick Santorum is now the least popular Senator: A Survey USA poll released yesterday puts Rick's job approval rating at 39% and his disapproval rating at 53%. A little more popular than Dumb-Ya (not much more). At any rate, congratulations Rick.

-Robert Scardapane

In response to "In 1996, the '50-yard line' marker for the Clinton administration, the US poverty rate fell from his inherited 15.1 percent (when Clinton took office) to 13.7 percent, a drop of 9.27 percent. In 2004, the '50-yard line' marker for the GW Bush administration, the US poverty rate rose from his inherited 9.9 percent (When Bush took office) to 12.7 percent, an increase of more than 8.5 percent." Anonymous writes:

Actually, it is an increase of 28.3% - from 9.9 to 12.7.

I need a new calculator. -NG

Regarding President Bush's response to Scott McClellan's leaving the White House and his statement "One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days." Rhian observes:

Did you notice the slurred speech? Bush sounds like he is making visits to the opium den. Irrational temper tantrums in public, 'I am the decider' and total lack of logic in his decision making process are also symptoms.

McCain is having the same type of behavior, busting out publicly in his own temper tantrum, saying 'my bill is not amnesty. . (list of reasons) . . . . and I'm not going to tell a soldier in Iraq that I am deporting his parents. His tone of voice while delivering this statement was irascible, and invited challenge.

Would the presence of the Chinese communist president (very fuzzy, that) have something to do with the bad tempers of his political hosts? Is it possible they wish we would all go away so they can smoke some world class grade opium, gift of the Chinaman, in peace?

They (neocons) wouldn't be the first bunch of self-aggrandizing self styled rulers to go up in smoke, if that is what is happening before our eyes. It would explain Cheney's birdshot gone wild episode also.

If they all gathered in the oval office, to smoke, I wonder how long they could stay there incommunicado and high as kites, till some sort of law enforcement showed up?

It might sound funny, but something is seriously akilter when the public hears the President of the United States, say petulantly and angrily, 'I am the decider' Is there a way to demand drug tests all around, at the White House?

Criminal Quote of the Day


"I'm looking forward to (testifying). I want to put more of the facts and the truth out about what happened at Enron."
-Ken "Kenny-Boy" Lay, former CEO of Enron

That's funny. We're looking forward to it, too.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg