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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


How corrupt are politicians today? Just check out this quote by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL):

"I think those materials ought to be returned," and the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of (the case against Representative William Jefferson - D-LA) for the sake of the Constitution."

Instead of "making hay" against the Democrats and calling them "criminal", Hastert wants to cover the asses (and we all know that there are a whole lot of "asses" in the House) of every member of the House of Representatives. You could bet your bottom dollar that if the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party had clean hands, the Speaker's reaction would have been a whole lot different.

It is almost unprecedented to subpoena the office of a sitting congressman before he is indicted. Searches of their suspected representatives' homes have been performed, but not their workspace. Hastert cited the separation of powers in the US Constitution as his weapon.

In case you missed it, the FBI has video of the congressman from New Orleans taking a bribe of $100,000 from an undercover agent for "favors". This is chump change for the likes of people like soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), imprisoned ex-Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) and a whole slew of other Republicans who are sweating around the collar as I write this. For most, their nervousness could be summed up in two words: Jack Abramoff.

It would be hard, if not impossible, for the Republicans to turn into the party of trustworthiness with so many of their own up to their eyeballs in scandal. In recent months, we have had one after another come out and back their party compatriots... until the end, of course. (Where are all of "The Duke's" buddies now?) The Democrats for their part are publicly urging Jefferson to resign from office and have asked him to, at least, resign his seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. I'm sure a censure measure, sponsored by House Democrats is not far behind. Thinking out loud, wouldn't it be something if the House Republicans refused to censure Jefferson, though?

It could be that opening up an investigation of a corrupt Democrat would actually be the best thing for Democrats. Think of it in this way: If the House Dems go after one of their own, what defense would their GOP counterparts offer for not examining their own house (bought and paid for by the likes of Abramoff and the "K" Street Project)?

"I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy. If asked, I would respectfully decline."

Hey, schmuck! They have you on tape!

"My opinion is that they took the wrong path. They need to back up, and we need to go from there."

Double-talk and bull-(spit)! By the way, it seems that Hastert is on the FBI "What have you been doing"" list himself, which stems from his curious urging (to the Secretary of the Interior) to block an attempt by an Indian tribe to set up a casino on their lands.

Is there any room left in Cunningham's cell for DeLay, Rep. Bob "Official Number One" Net (R-OH); Abramoff and Hastert?

So, just to make this clear, it's okay for the FBI, CIA, NSA or the DIA to come into my private office and look into my private files and record my private phone calls but it isn't okay to see what my congressman is up to? How do these guys (and gals) think to even say this crap? Everything (with the exception of classified materials) that our elected officials do, write, say and (dare I say it?) even think should be transparent and open for review by the American people. Let me take this a step further: Maybe we should consider letting the FBI trash every member of congress' office every now and again. Maybe we should start with "Denny-Boy" Hastert's office first. (I'd love to see that guy's face turn red and start to bead up with sweat as they tip over his file cabinet.)

By the way, the FBI actually got a warrant before delving into the public files of Jefferson. That's more than Bush and the NSA did before invading and trashing our privacy.

"We are hoping that there's a way to balance the constitutional concerns of the House of Representatives with the law enforcement obligations of the executive branch. Obviously we are taking note of Speaker Hastert's statements."
-Bush's Press Secretary Tony Snow

Even the Bushites are having trouble explaining this one away. Besides, anyone who thinks that they didn't know about the Jefferson affair, and weren't salivating about it, is living in fantasy-land.

"We have an obligation to the American people to pursue the evidence where it exists."
-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Just open the door to the oval office, Al.

-Noah Greenberg

McCain, Interpreted

“I do not begin with the presumption that my age gives me a privileged view of the truth. Quite the contrary – I believe that those of us who are older should keep our ears and hearts open to the possibility that our age may have cost us the most important of human characteristics: the hope for a better, fairer, and more just world.”
-Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), The New School President, in defense of students’ views of the world and passionate protest of John McCain’s commencement speech

For anyone who has not been following The New School commencement excitement you are missing an interaction that reflects what is happening in America today – in many dimensions. Last Friday a student commencement speaker, Jean Rohe, spoke truth to power. Sen. John McCain had been invited to be the guest commencement speaker and he vowed to give the same speech at 3 universities (The NS, Columbia, and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University). Ex-Senator Bob Kerrey (yes, only a democrat would be head of a progressive school like this) had invited McCain based on their friendship when they served in the Senate together. Some students and professors had objected to the choice of McCain which Kerrey listened to and decided to proceed with McCain anyway.

Jean had written a pretty personal-based speech until the night before commencement when a friend inspired her to say something about those objecting to McCain’s presence. She decided to go to the McCain website where his thrice delivered words were posted. Based on reading his speech she changed hers entirely and what she ultimately spoke is below. After the graduation she was interviewed on CNN, Countdown with Keith Olberman, written up in Maureen Dowd’s Sunday column, and much other media attention.

It didn’t end there. The Huffington Post website asked Ms. Rohe to make a posting explaining how this all came about. In follow-up to this, McCain’s aide an chief of staff, Mark Salter, wrote an intellectually attacking response which HP posted and offered Ms. Rohe the opportunity to respond to Salter which she did. Tuesday night Bob Kerrey weighed in with a response in defense of students’ right to speak out and eloquently pointed out that diminishing the beliefs and intent of Jean and other students based on their age was uncalled for and that he now sees how McCain’s speech could be interpreted negatively to younger people. He said that listening to younger adults is very important and not to be dismissed in any way. All of this can be found on the HP site and the only missing piece is McCain’s in-person comments to the press after the commencement that dismissively insulted the students. (Some pundits have suggested that McCain savored all this because it endears him more to the fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and his students for upsetting progressive students. And even suggest maybe it was all a strategic set-up to begin with as part of his presidential quest.)


Here is Jean’s commencement speech:

If all the world were peaceful now and forever more,
Peaceful at the surface and peaceful at the core,
All the joy within my heart would be so free to soar,
And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.
Don't know where we're going but I know we're going far.
We can change the universe by being who we are,
And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Welcome everyone on this beautiful afternoon to the commencement ceremony for the New School class of 2006. That was an excerpt of a song I learned as a child called "Living Planet" by Jay Mankita. I chose to begin my address this way because, as always, but especially now, we are living in a time of violence, of war, of injustice. I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in Mogadishu, in Israel/Palestine, right here in the U.S., and many, many other places around the world. And my deepest wish on this day--on all days--is for peace, justice, and true freedom for all people. The song says, "We can change the universe by being who we are," and I believe that it really is just that simple.

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.

-Forwarded and commented by Casey Sweet

The Democratic Plan for America
As presented by the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)



Honest Leadership and Open Government
We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves

Real Security
We will protect America at home and the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies

Energy Independence
We will create a cleaner and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Economic Prosperity and Educational Excellence
We will create jobs that will stay in America by restoring opportunity and driving innovation.

A Health care System that Works for Everyone
We will make sure everyone has access to affordable, quality health care.

Retirement Security
We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American.

Without any spin from yours truly, I am curious what Madman readers think of it.

-Robert "Yours Truly" Scardapane

More Silly Immigration Stuff

I just can't resist this one. Hillary Clinton said this speaking in front of Long Island business executives:

Whether we do this before the midterms ... I would be doubtful. There are people who want this as an issue. They want to stir up their base."
-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), to members of the Long Island Association in Woodbury, NY

"We have to make it clear to employers that if you employ people illegally you're going to have to pay a price. I've had lots of constituents around the state tell me how much they're against illegal immigration. I say, 'well, have you or anyone you know ever hired an illegal immigrant to take care of your yard or your child or have you ever gone to a restaurant where someone ... might be illegal?'"
-Clinton, who has, characteristically, sought the middle ground on immigration, backing a lenient amnesty program while calling for tough border security and enforcement of laws penalizing businesses that use undocumented workers.


I think that the first part of Senator Clinton's accessment is right. This is not going to be quickly settled with the House and the GOP will use this issue to rally their base, divert attention from issues such as Iraq and divide the country.

But, excuse me Senator Clinton, the last paragraph is silly. Do you expect customers to ask for prove of citzenship before they order meals? This sort ridiculous comment gets us nowhere.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

In response to, "The new regulations that the Bushies are proposing to 'cure' our 'oil addiction' are puny, to say the least. Their plan would raise gas mileage standards a measly 1.8 miles per gallon by 2011. It is, simply put, pitiful."

"The new rules 'underestimated the technologies and ignored important benefits, such as the ability to significantly reduce our global warming emissions.' (Robert Kennedy, Jr.)"
Robert Scardapane writes:

Right on target! It's criminally irresponsible to have done nothing about raising CAFE standards all these years. Such standards push the technology envelope. The auto-makers are forced to build better cars, the air is less polluted and fuel is conserved. Gee, sounds like a win-win-win.

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-Noah Greenberg