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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Real GOP Energy Policy
A Sort-Of Quote

Jim McDermott (D-WA) just said (paraphrased):
The GOP energy policy is to drill for money in American's wallets!

That's pretty much the GOP policy for everything except when it comes to Bush's base (the haves and have mores), lobbyists and corporate cronies. Meanwhile, the Goopers push for extending capital gains and dividend tax cuts that are rob the treasury of needed income. Believe it or not, the Goopers even want larger tax subsidies for oil companies and are fighting closing tax loopholes used by these companies.

How do the Goopers propose balancing the budget? Once again, social programs are being attacked. Again tonight, Goopers were rambling on about the pending retiring baby boomer crisis. Heck, I hope the Goopers continue along these lines right into November. Make the 2006 elections a referendum on social security privatization, tax giveaways to oil companies and tax breaks for the wealthy. The GOP will lose bad.

-Robert Scardapane

Speaking Out

What do real patriots do when they see their nation in trouble? They take action. Today, a former CIA agent, Ray McGovern, took Donald Rumsfeld to task for his lies and failures regarding Iraq. The first I heard of it was on the Randi Rhodes show which was being guest-hosted by Tom Hartman. The exchange almost made me lose control of my car.

MCGOVERN: I would like to ask you to be upfront with the American people. Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary, that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?
RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven't lied.

It was then that the Bush Gestapo (SS) started to escort McGovern out of the question and answer period. Rumsfeld stopped them, wanting to prove that he didn't lie. When McGovern quoted Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary stayed with the Bush company line of deny, deny, deny, and then pass the busk and play the "blame game".

"I'm not in the intelligence business."
"They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were no weapons of mass destruction."
-Rumsfeld, referring to the CIA

In fact, Rumsfeld is lying here as well. (These guys just can't help themselves. They're pathological!) The defense department, led by "Rummy", actually controls somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of the intelligence budget. Going on the theory that money is power, we all know that "Rummy" has done everything in his power to keep it there.

MCGOVERN: You said you knew where they (Iraqi WMD's) were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were.
MCGOVERN: You said you know where they were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and north, east, south and west of there. Those are your words. I'd just like an honest answer," McGovern added. "We're talking about lies.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, here are "Rummy's" exact words:

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
-Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003, in an ABC News interview, in response to a question about WMD's

McGovern also noted Rumsfeld's words relating al-Qaeda with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld mentioned Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McGovern reminded "Rummy" that the only connection between the two was that al-Zarqawi was in an area in Iraq that was not controlled by Hussein. The only venture he made to Baghdad was for a hospital stay. In fact, even Osama bin-Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda worldwide and the man the world holds responsible for the terror attacks of 9/11, wanted nothing to do with the Iraqi dictator, other than to see him overthrown ad Iraq to become part of a larger, Muslim super-nation.

Ray McGovern is no anti-war crazy. He is a retired CIA agent with 27 years put in at the agency. His bio reads the way most of us would want to be remembered. Here is a bit from his bio as told at

"Ray McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. Ray is now co-director of the Servant Leadership School, which provides training and other support for those seeking ways to be in relationship with the marginalized poor. The School is one of ten Jubilee Ministries, not-for-profit organizations inspired by the ecumenical Church of the Saviour and established in an inner-city neighborhood in Washington, DC.

"The department Ray heads at the School deals with the biblical injunction to “speak truth to power,” and this, together with his experience in intelligence analysis, accounts for his various writings and media appearances over the past year. His focus dovetails nicely with the passage carved into the marble entrance to CIA Headquarters: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”—the ethic mandating that CIA analysts were to “tell it like it is” without fear or favor."
-The Schreiner University Website

About a dozen retired generals and many former CIA agents like Ray McGovern and Larry Johnson are attempting to make their former bosses, "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and his cronies, see the light. They would rather sit in their dark room and curse the darkness rather than turn on that light.

-Noah Greenberg

Marching in New York

Three Hundred Thousand here... a half million there... People who want to bring America's Children home from Iraq come via their own means and at their own expense. It has gotten to the point where the Right just can't spin it anymore. There was virtually no reporting on the March this past Saturday in New York City that ended downtown in Foley Square. There was barely a mention that these people, many of who disagree on various other issues, have joined forces for the common goal of bringing our children home now in the main stream media. They did it in September of last year in Washington, DC... They did it in New York City a couple of days ago... One gets the feeling they would march on Baghdad if they could.

Carol F. Yost wrote in the subject: "I don't think we should be talking about how we should have fought the war, with more soldiers, more this, less that, and "winning the peace". We should be talking about how we shouldn't have had ONE SOLDIER over there in the first place. The war was created on lies. We shouldn't have sent anything over there. Not one soldier. Not one bullet. Not one bomb. Nada."

Robert Scardapane noted: "I just got back from the NYC UFPJ rally. It was awesome! Officially, the crowd was estimated at 300,000. I think it was around 500,000. We marched from 22nd Street to Foley Square (near Chambers St.). It took hours to get there.
"There were no counter-protesters. I did have a minor disagreement with one of the 32% that supports Bush while taking the train home. This person took exception with my sign:
"Fire The Decider and Shotgun Dick too!
"So, the counter-protesters have taken to riding the trains. The underground seems like a real good place for them
"I can't say I agreed with all of the causes that were at the rally. But, we all agreed that the Bush Regime must go and this illegal Iraq must end now."

Checking the New York Times, I discovered what some of the other marchers thought as well:

"It's going to keep me alive — standing up for what I value,"
-Roslyn Fassett, Aged 70 from Orange, NY

-The New York Times. borrowing from a quote by Ms. Fassett to describe the march

"The meek are ready,"
-A sign carried by Rita Pearl

Just like in DC last year, people came to New York from all over the country, Blue States as well as Red for two reasons:
1- To show the Children of America that fight in Bush's war that we love them, we miss them, and we want them to come home safe and sound to their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children
2- To show "G"lobal "W"arming Bush that there is a voice for sanity and for those soldiers who learned to simply follow orders, not question them

Imagine a rally with as many as half a million people. How many people do you think the GOP had there to protest? How many could they afford to pay?

Like in the 1960's into the 1970's, the anti-war movement is growing. What makes this movement even more remarkable than the one thirty years ago is the lack of a draft. In the late sixties and early seventies, many of the children of America protested because they didn't want to fight the war in Indochina. Today there is no draft and no fear (at least for the moment) that one has to protest to save one's own hide. The people protesting are not old or young... they are old AND young. This is a war to fight against that has united those who though that they could never unite.

It feels as if, soon, the only ones who will be supporting the war in Iraq are anyone who works in the White House and anyone who is a war profiteer. Oh... I forgot... they're one in the same.

-Noah Greenberg, with Robert Scardapane and Carol F. Yost

Disgraceful Rethuglicans

I wonder if anyone saw the disgraceful spectacle of Congressional Rethuglicans crowing about the latest reports on the financial health of social security and Medicare. Apparently, the actuaries claim both will go insolvent one year sooner. So, Rethuglicans what's the fix? You say these systems must be reformed - namely, cut benefits at a time when most people will not be able to afford it. The boomers are retiring we hear, oh no the boomers are retiring. No kidding, the actuaries have factored that in for the last twenty five years. So, why are both systems having shortfalls?

1) The economy stinks! There simply is less money coming into the systems because salaries have been flat/decreasing the past five years.
2) Medicare Part D was passed. This is an expensive giveaway to drug companies!
3) More income is needed. Indeed, taxation must be increased to make up for the weak economy. Taxes haven't raised since 1986! At the very least, raise the salary cap for social security and if necessary raise the rates for these systems.

Rethugs have no answers to the solvency of these necessary systems. They merely want to destroy the social safety net.

-Robert Scardapane

In response to "Mullah Mohammed Omar, the blind cleric leader of the Taliban government of Afghanistan, escaped and no one knows where he is (or at least we don't).  Osama bin-Laden, who stands at six foot four inches or so, and who is burdened by failing kidneys, escaped his Tora Bora mountain hide-away to mock the US at every turn," Robert Scardapane writes:

Can't locate the blind cleric? Can't find a six foot Arab with a dialysis machine in tow? Yeah right. The Bush-itas don't want to find either of them. If they did, people might think that we won the "war on terror".

Then DumbYa would no longer be the "war president". Phooey on this bunch of neo-con artists.

In response to Madman's Minimum Wage proposal, Billie M. Spaight writes:

As to your proposal for the minimum wage, I don't know if you have a ban on cuss words, but if not, my response is "HELL NO!" Or, you can write H**L NO if you need to be decent.

Here's why: Some jobs for regular citizens are paid at minimum wage and these are regular adults that work as messengers for example. I've known people personally in this situation.

You mentioned to me that your plan was designed to take an initial step. The problem that I have with incrementalism is that it seems to have very adverse affects on certain populations of people that fall between the cracks. That was the problem I had with Medicare's doughnut hole, the Massachusetts healthcare plan, and the minimum wage idea you are suggesting.

Another problem with incrementalism is that the politicians seem to feel that they have "done something" and get very resistant to doing more or fixing problems that arise because of the incremental steps taken. Sometimes, doing something partially can actually make things worse (as in Massachusetts). It's kind of like taking some of a bottle of antibiotics but not all of the pills prescribed--the infection come raging back and refuses to go away--needing even stronger doses of medicine to cure the worse problem that has arisen.

I know an adult who was making minimum wage as a messenger. He tried to get an indoor job but was asked to take a polygraph but he was on anticonvulsants. People on anticonvulsants cannot take polygraphs so he submitted to a written test. Then they told him he failed that. Why? Because he couldn't take a polygraph. So he was stuck with the mimimum wage messenger work.

People with disabilities are often given these types of jobs--even if they are high-level people and it makes life very, very tough. And we are not permitted to advance like other people. I've been more fortunate than most in that my work is pretty respectable.

What I would propose would be perhaps less incremental. The minimum wage for self-supporting adults should be enough to make any single individual make at least $22,500.00 a year, which is what an individual needs to survive on. At least that's what most people need, given the high cost of housing, fuel, and other expenses in life--especially unmet medical needs!!!!

Now, for students living at home, we could make it $6.00 and hour because, presumably those kids don't need new iPods and whatever....but for adults it has got to be enough to at least rent an apartment in a reasonably safe neighborhood, buy decent food and sundries, and take care of phone, gas, and electric (never mind cell phones--that's a luxury), and fuel (if a person does not live where there is public transportation) or transportation (if a person does live where this exists) and unmet medical expenses, with enough left over to save, pay taxes, and meet unmet medical expenses.

I don't think it's fair to make adults work 45 hours a week out in miserable jobs doing brainless work with no medical coverage, no paid days off--no benefits--and then make them have to live in a broom closet in a crack neighborhood and have to share that closet with 6 other people in order to survive. It's sometimes really hard for older people or disabled people to get anything better and they do want to work and pay their own ways.

Let's crunch the numbers:
-No studio today in NYC rents for less than $800 a month.
-Transportation, assuming no doublefare zone, is at least $20.00 a week.
-Food and other sundries costs at least $70.00 a week.
-Gas is about $25.00 a month
-Electric can run from $80.00 to $100.00 a month
-Phone can run $85.00 for a basic U.S. calling plan.

So, what you have already is this: You need to make at least $1,500 a month, when extra medical expenses are brought in--and this is bare minimum, bare, bare minimum!!! That's at least $333.00 AFTER taxes and social security and other stuff are taken out! That's the take-home. So a person has got to make $443.00 a week to do that. $6.00 x 37 hours a week only comes out to $222.00 barely half of that. So a person has got to work a LOT of overtime to do this, IF the employer even offers this. God forbid the person gets sick--with no sick days and has to pay for doctors and meds!

And don't forget in Massachusetts they have to make another $200.00 a week take-home to pay for the medical insurance that basically covers nothing until a person is in the poor house (do those still actually exist?).

Please check my math--I'm bad with precise numbers.

And Madman responds to Billie:

Here's a rant that you missed. When the US government hires people, they are hired at different rates around the country. When I was unemployed (around 9/11) for 18 months, I applied for a TSA job. The job paid from $24,000 to $32,000 (I'm rounding it off). If you were to work in a NYC are airport (Newark, LaGuardia, JFK) you were given an adjustment of 23 percent. If you were to work in an LA area airport, that area adjustment went to 32 percent.

As an answer to the minimum wage issue, I understand your concern. That's why I put the cap on the hours that a kid could work (20 hours a week during school and 40 hours a week during recess). The jobs that this would effect aren't jobs that most adults wouldn't even apply for: Food court at the shopping mall, McDonalds, etc.

I agree just about everything you said, but we're talking about baby steps and helping our kids get their jobs back from illegal immigrants.

My plan is a start... your plan is more toward a good finished solution.

Note: Billie changed her response a bit after I sent my comments back to her. Some of her changes reflected my initial response to her. -NG

In response to Rhian's, "the lawbreakers called immigrants, predominately from Mexico and other South American countries.," Robert Chapman writes:

Rhian writes about people coming here for honest gainful work as if they are doing something bad. Why does the accident of being born North of the Rio Grande give her the right to tell people they can't work here and that they should be denied the protection of our laws?

I think we all need to think about the desperate poverty that makes people think that coming to America is an improvement.

They cannot drive, they may not be able to send their children to school.
The amount of money they earn is not enough to enable them to live here permanently.
Only by staying here, working like animals, buying nothing and saving money from their meager earnings to bring home does their travail make any sense.

They aren't coming to steal or rob, they aren't coming to settle, they can't afford drugs. Why are the 35% of the American public so threatened?

Because the illegals are undercutting the value of American labor.

If I were a painter and bid a job painting a house at 750, it is clear a savvy homeowner could get an unscrupulous contractor for $ 600 or less. Of course, the unscrupulous contractor is not doing the painting, he is a "businessman" setting up the jobs. The painters may well be illegals or even legals who want to earn a quick buck and go home. How do I compete against them? There is no way for me to compete and maintain an American standard of living.

Are employers penalized? NOOOOOOOO! All they have to do is show due diligence, i.e., show that they ask for documents. It doesn't matter if they hire illegals, all they have to do is show that they are TRYING not to. Look at the immigration laws in the US. Code Chapter eight.

If we repealed the due diligence clause in the law against hiring illegals, looked at the people on a work site, checked them against the employer's records and SHUT THE EMPLOYER DOWN if he didn't have proper documentation for all the workers. This would raise wages, this would enable workers to earn enough money to live on and it would stop the flow of undocumented workers across the border.

If American business cannot provide the standard of living that we are supposedly enjoying without a sub class of sub minimum wage workers, it isn't business.

In response to, "The last plane out  and 'There he goes,' referring to the probability that bin-Laden, who was surrounded, was on that plane. They were ordered not to shoot," Pat Thompson writes:

I do believe, as I have said in this space before, that the neo-cons wanted 9/11 to happen and were grateful enough to Bin Laden that he was given special treatment, along with dozens of members of the Bin Laden and Saudi "royal" family, who were flying out of America when all commercial air traffic was grounded after 9/11. While 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, Bush continued his friendship with Prince Bandar "Bush", the Saudi ambassador to the US, and with the rest of the family. There was no retribution against the Saudis; Iraq and Afghanistan were attacked. How stupid are the American people anyway? They re-elected this bunch of criminals, and 33% still approve of him!

In response to, "There is something absurd and inherently false about one country trying to impose its system of government or its economic institutions on another.
Such an enterprise amounts to a dictionary definition of imperialism. When what's at issue is 'democracy,' you have the fallacy of using the end to justify the means (making war on those to be democratized), and in the process the leaders of the missionary country are invariably infected with the sins of hubris, racism, and arrogance,"
Pat Thompson writes:

The Roman Empire conquered most of Europe and the middle east. The sun didn't set on the British Empire (for a while anyway). They were "civilizing" the world. Germany had invaded most of Europe and North Africa. Spain owned most of North and South America. There have been many imperial powers creating empires, conquering other countries and peoples. None of these empires continue to exist. Invading other countries, such as Iraq, Iran, and a generation ago, Vietnam is wrong, evil, and will gain the US nothing but the scorn of the civilized world. The Vikings were doing this kind of thing over a thousand years ago, but are now the evolved and civilized nations of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We are going backwards, thanks to our back asswards administration of the Bush crime family.

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-Noah Greenberg