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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, 2006

Besides telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, of course, die the GOP has done a fine job of getting government out of our lives.
-David W.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Let me get this straight. A former disgraced senator from a state with an up-for-grabs Democratic seat is going to be re-investigated by a Republican controlled senate for stuff he might have done while he was a senator. At the same time, this same senate is going to ignore the failings and possible criminal activities of present day seated senators who appear to have their own fingers in many lobbyist cookie jars. By the way, these allegations took place while Torricelli was a congressman and was merely running for the senate seat he eventually won in 1996.

You all remember 1996, don't you? That was when just about everyone in the United States was doing better, financially. Not just the ultra rich Bush "base" of "haves and have-mores". There was a guy named Clinton in office then and the senate was controlled by Democrats.

Former US Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) is going to be investigate by Senator Norm Coleman's (R-MN) permanent subcommittee on investigations for the possibility that Torricelli tried to help a contributor get an Iraqi "Food-for-Oil" contract.

"We take these allegations seriously and will continue to investigate in a bipartisan manner allegations of wrongdoing under the oil-for-food program,"

Coleman, some of you might remember, is the guy who won the Late Senator Paul Wellstone's (D-MN) senate seat after senator Wellstone's plane crashed killing him, his wife and his daughter. I wonder why no one ever investigates Coleman?

Although this contract would have come to a New Jersey company instead of a German, British or French company; and although this New Jersey company never got a nickel from the $64 billion for the "food-for-oil" program, Coleman feels it's necessary to spend the time and the money on something that didn't occur rather than investigating the relationships that actually did produce, shall we say, irregularities.

Let's just look at Senate majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), shall we? :Last October, Frist made a whole lot of money when he had the "good fortune" of selling stock in his family's company right before it tanked. Remember these lies?

"I put this into a blind trust, so as far as I know, I own no HCA stock."
The trust was "totally blind. I have no control."

Why aren't you investigating Bill Frist, Senator Coleman? I bet all of America would like to know why the Majority leader of the senate can get away with insider trading whole Martha Stewart did "hard time" and a former senator is being investigated for a crime that didn't exist.

These hypocrites in the senate can't find even one Democrat who is up for re-election to try and pin something on. I guess they must feel that getting the people of New Jersey riled up on something that never happened ten years ago whiile grabbing a few headlines might get their "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party candidate elected over the appointed incumbent, Senator Robert Menendez (D). Maybe between this scandal that never happened and the use of the name Tom Kean (they probably hope that many people will confuse Kean Jr. with his father, former Republican New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, Sr.)

The politics of distraction are what these Nero's use while their Rome (our United States) is burning.

-Noah Greenberg

Democratic Platform

Democrats have not clearly defined themselves. If we count on winning in 2006 with a simplistic motto such as "Had Enough?", we will be disappointed in the results. So, what would a Democratic platform look like? Excerpt from a Daily Kos diary that comes close:

For starters, it would mean shaping our policies around Liberal Rhetoric again. In my diary A Memorial For What We Have Lost, I tried to remind people of the REAL values that American stands for--that are engraved and tattooed onto its very being:

The Common Good.
Equal Opportunity.
The Right to Privacy.
Accountable Government.
Respect Abroad.

It would mean standing up for single-payer healthcare.
It would mean standing up for a SERIOUS increase in the minimum wage.
It would mean standing up for SERIOUSLY higher taxes on corporations and the extremely wealthy, in order to actually SHRINK the income gap in this country.
It would mean standing up for re-regulating all the corrupt, vampirous industries that were deregulated by Reagan and Bush.
It would mean standing up strongly for the separation of church and state, and heaping scorn on those who would tear it down, rather than running in fear of them.
It would mean standing up for SERIOUSLY higher pensions and funding for our military personnel, and for our veterans.
It would mean doing all these things and much more--AND MAKING SURE THAT JOE SIXPACK KNEW WE MEANT IT.

Our think tanks really do need to hammer this home. The Republicans got to where they are by creating the so-called pillars of conservatism - smaller government, stronger military, and "moral values". We can argue endlessly about whether they succeeded in these areas but the bottom line is that they can always argue that their politicians merely did not live up to these principles. Can we do the same as Democrats? Right now, not exactly.

-Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane

Specter Versus Feingold

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA, JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN): I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I. If you want to leave, good riddance.
SENATOR RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman. See ya.

This happened after Feingold declared his opposition to a Gay Marriage amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.It was also before the Gay Marriage Amendment was approved by the senate.

I am truly sick of Arlen Specter. Awhile back, I read a Kos diary where the author described a political tactic called "Specterism" - where a politician makes lots of noise on an issue and at a convenient moment backs off from their position. How many times have we seen Specter do that? I don't believe he will do anything about NSA wiretapping nor do I think he'll do much to help defeat the FMA.

Russ Feingold is The Man! He takes principled stands on issues and sticks it out. That is the sort of person we need as President. I know, I know, it's a long shot but wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a person as your President.

-Robert Scardapane

Media Madman
Unfair and Unbalanced - Sunday Talk Shows

-Meet the Press hosts Sec/State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA).
-Face the Nation hosts AG Alberto Gonzales, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
-This Week hosts Gonzales, ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and John Walsh in the voices segment.
-Fox News Sunday hosts Rice and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
-Late Edition hosts Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, Australian PM John Howard, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and U.S. Amb. to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

Let's count the R's - 7 of them - Rice, Graham, Norwood, Gonzalez, Sensenbrenner, McCain, Hagel. I'm excluding media pundits and the U.S Ambassador to Iraq (who is a Neocon by the way!). Let's count the D's - 3 of them - Feinstein, Edwards, Wyden.

This is fair and balanced reporting? Let's face it the media is still stacked against Democrats. The mainstream media haven't improved at all despite the unpopularity of the GOP. I refuse to watch any of these shows.

-Robert Scardapane

More Media Madman
Bush Targeting Reporters

According to this breaking AP story, Alberto Gonzales said on This Week that he believes the First Amendment right to a free press is not absolute, and that reporters should be prosecuted in certain cases. He also announced that the collection of phone records would continue against reporters' calls.

Just when you think it can't get worst, this criminal Bush administration pushes the envelop even harder. Bush and Cheney must be impeached. They are way over the line and must be stopped before it really is too late. The media needs to wakeup now. The Bushies, embodied in the hit man Attorney General, are the enemies of a free media.

The Bushies are breaking the law with warrantless wiretapping. They are the ones that should be prosecuted as criminals. It's clear to me that the Bushies are attacking journalists to 1) Divert attention from their criminal acts, 2) intimidate the press so they won't report leaks.

This is absolutely outrageous. Every Democrat in Congress and the Senate should be on the floor this Monday concerning this issue. Forget about immigration, it's an issue that the GOP is using to divert attention from their crimes. How can we worry about amnesty for illegals when our own civil liberty is being stolen by a pack of criminals?

-Robert Scardapane

Even More Media Madman
Edwards Slams Bush

From ABC News:
May 21, 2006 - Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., says George W. Bush is the "worst president of our lifetime," and "absolutely" worse than Watergate-tainted President Richard M. Nixon.
In an exclusive appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," the former presidential and vice presidential contender said of Bush, "He's done a variety of things - things which are going to take us forever to recover from.
"You have to give Bush and Cheney and gang credit for being good at politics - you know, good at political campaigns," Edwards added. "They're very good at dividing the country and taking advantage of it. What they're not good at is governing, and it shows every single day in this administration. And the country is paying a huge price for that."

-They stink at governing because conservatives have contempt for government.
-They use government as a tool to fleece the citizens for corporate welfare.
-They use government to start wars that benefit their corporate cronies.
-Competence doesn't not matter as their goal is to use power for selfish gain.

-Robert Scardapane

Tonight's  Last Media Madman
To Bid or Not to Bid

"The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders."
-The New York Times

Even on the downward side of the mountain, all the cronies get a taste.

I guess Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrup Grumman bid so it can seem like a competitive process when Halliburton gets the contract?

-From Josh Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com, submitted by Victoria Brownworth

Pumping Gas

Here's a take on pumping our own gas from my niece, Kathy Helfer, of Valdosta, Georgia (there's a couple of "typos" but you get the point). Kathy was born in Atlanta and has lived just about everywhere, including New Jersey. She's been pumping her own gas for as long as she can remember. As you can well imagine the 48 other states that allow self service at the pump find this quite amusing. Hell, even Oregon, the other state that forbids self service, allows it if you drive a diesel vehicle. The "Mike" that she refers to is her husband, Mike Helfer, Head Basketball Coach at Valdosta State University. In that capacity, he does attend quite a few formal functions for the school's athletic department. If he needs gas, he gets it before he's all dressed up in his black tie.

Our local newspaper, The Gloucester County Times, in opposing Corzine's initiative, said that there was no guarantee that the dealers would pass the savings on to the consumer. Why the hell should they!?! The guys at the gas station may be making as little as $.05 per gallon on regular. If they have a chance to pick up a little extra margin then do it! That's the problem with this state, a blue one by the way. The clowns in the circus in Trenton, find it easier to focus on fluff than tackle the real problems facing this bankrupt state.

-Bob Driscoll

-The Letter:
-Damn! You people in New Jersey sure have some funny reasons as to why you can't pump your own damn gas! We do it fine in our state. Here's a snippet of an article I just read. God for bid a damn Republican forgets to fill up before pumping gas in his fancy tux! Mike has that problem all the time. If only we lived in Jersey our problems would be solved. And if someone can't remember to turn their damn engine off when they pump they shouldn't be driving in the first place. Glad to hear your politicians are hard at work protecting yourselves from, well, yourselves.


-Assemblyman Francis Bodine, a Republican, says that after stopping at self-service stations in the South recently, he found that gas in New Jersey was the same price or slightly cheaper. "So I don't see any economic savings to having to pump your own gas," he says. "The flip side of it is ... there'd be some job losses." Besides, he says, "If I'm in a tux going to a black tie (event), I don't want to stop and handle a gas pump."

-Bill Dressler, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association and Allied Trades, says there are safety concerns. While attendants are trained, many motorists would be novices. "It could be put in the wrong container," says Dressler, whose group represents about 2,200 of the state's 3,800 gas stations. There could be "somebody getting out and smoking and they didn't turn the engine off."

-Kathy Helfer

Stuff, from Billie

There are no undocumented immigrant crime stats because these people are "flying under the radar." And are also working too many hours a day to commit crimes. As columnist John Tierney, (who normally takes a view that is conservative relative to me) says terrorists can figure out ways to get in here legally and these immigrants are not coming up to commit crimes. They just want to mow our lawns and serve us coffee. How much of a threat is that?

Re: Pinheads Who Can't Do the Math
You know, I always wondered about that too. Until I read that some wag commented as follows: "Those who are paid not to know something will not know it." It made sense. Not that I AGREE with the immorality of it, but that's exactly how it works. That's how you get these crazy laws passed--by rich lawyers.

If social workers ran the country, it might be a whole different story. (I'm not a social worker, just a medical editor).

It seems life and economics are bad all over. It costs too much to live near public transportation so people who can drive move to the suburbs. But now these same people are getting smacked back into the cities because the gas prices are too high. So that means more work for public transit, which is vastly overcrowded and difficult--and in some places either scanty or missing. Much as I firmly believe that it is wrong to have places where people who cannot drive cannot go, it would be impossible otherwise unless we really had a massive, mass transportation system that did not miss anywhere. So, even though I live in the city and cannot drive, I think we do have to do something about these people who are experiencing problems at the pump.

Some politicos are totally insensitive and say that people have to overcome an addiction to using gas. Well, I would not call the need to get to work and to get children to school in areas that are not served (or are very underserved) by mass transit an addiction. I would call that a necessity of life. To "overcome an addiction," there has to be some kind of support system. So, before telling people to stay out of their cars, provide them with an alternative.

That having been said, I still think that people should stop driving those SUVs and I think that the companies should stop making them. We can't make SUVs illegal because people who have them may not be able to afford to replace them, but let's make it illegal to make SUVs.

It's very hard NOT to use energy. We need it to cook, to keep warm, and to get from place to place. We need it to stay connected with the rest of the world.

Let's demand that alternative sources of fuel be created and used. Let's make all new buildings and houses supplement their energy needs with solar panels. Let's hybridize all vehicles with an eventual turnover to all alternative energy. And let's NOT be seduced by claims of "green nuclear energy." That is a total oxymoron. Nukes should be wiped out completely from our system.

-Billie M. Spaight

In response to Rhian's "Meanwhile crime stats on illegals are curiously missing from the news," Victoria Brownworth writes:

Actually they aren't "curiously missing," Rhian just curiously doesn't want to acknowledge them. Uniformly undocumented workers have far lower crimes statistics than other groups, including documented immigrants. Lower incidences of arrests (for anything other than illegal entry into the U.S.) and lower incidence of incarceration. Apparently they really just want to work and raise their families. Kind of like the immigrants Rhian's and other Americans' families once were, huh?

Apparently for some, immigrants are suddenly the new Muslims (isn't that the drumbeat Rhian was sounding last month?) or the new queers (gay marriage is always a fallback position for the right). All people who aren't straight, white evangelicals seem to get a bad rap from those who are still (what is it, 29 percent and barely holding?) in love with the Bush team--who are, by the way, a bunch of murderous villains. Wouldn't we all be safer if the 6,000 National Guardsmen were keeping BushCo in a compound where they couldn't do any more damage? That would be my choice as opposed to some poverrty stricken Mexicans looking for a better life doing jobs "real" Americans don't want to touch.

In response to Rhian's "Focus on lame. Bush pulled an Andy. Remember Deputy Fife?" Robert Scardapane writes:

I remember that show well. Did you see Bush cruising around in a border patrol ATV? Give me a break! First Dumbya is a fake air force pilot, now a fake border patrol guard. It's all about PR with Bush - all hat, no cattle.

I don't believe for an instant that Bush is serious about securing our open borders.

Immigration Is A Losing Issue

"In a largely symbolic move the US Senate voted for an amendment making the English the "common and unifying language. Senator Harry Reid said "This amendment is racist. I think it's directed basically to people who speak Spanish".

"Here are the facts. Mexico has an official language, only 8% of nations do not have an official language, and 31 nations have English as their official language. Being able to legislate and govern using one language is hugely beneficial. If you agree with the pandering, disingenuous view of Senator Reid, then go to US English inc, and educate yourself."
-From Daily Kos

Dems are making a big mistake getting sucked up in this immigration debate. It's no big deal to make English the official language.

All the polls indicate to me that the sooner we get off of the immigration issue the better. Let's get back to issues that are winners for Democrats in 2006. Please!

-Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg