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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Russ in the Lead

"I cannot understand why the structure of the Democratic Party, the consultants that are here in Washington, constantly advise Democrats not to take a strong stand… The Democratic Party of this country is the people of this country. And I have been all over Wisconsin, all 72 counties, [and] to 12 different states… [W]e lost in 2000, we lost in 2002, we lost in 2004. Why don't we try something different, like listening to the American people?"
-Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)


-Forwarded by Robert Scardapane

$6 Billion a Month

The war in Iraq costs somewhere around $6 billion dollars each and every month. During that time, war profiteers like Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney's Halliburton (is he still receiving residuals from them?) have seen their stock prices soar. In Halliburton's case, it has doubled.

During this time of war, we have seen tax give backs to the Bush "base" of "haves and have-mores" been pushed through congress numerous times while issues like poverty and health care can't even get off the table. We have a "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party controlled Senate, Congress and Executive (Bush) branch to thank for that.

We have seen anti-gay amendments pushed through the halls of congress without a shot at passing in order to give the do-nothing Republicans a slim chance at keeping their religious right zombies pulling the handle for them in November. Now we see a flag burning amendment making its way to the floor. Somehow, these hypocrites feel that these "moral" issues have more morality than taking care of the sick or e tpoor.

So I was thinking, what could we buy for that $6 billion we spend each and every month in Iraq? If I were in charge, here would be some of my purchases:

With the world, and more to the point, the United States, in a constant state of fear (after all, that's how the Bushies like it), we're always in constant need of law enforcers. Even though Bush and his cronies have cut the COPS program (signed into law by then President Bill Clinton) which put 100,000 new police officers on the street, we could use this extra $6 billion dollars a month to hire them back, plus an additional 27,000. We could hire 127,000 border guards or some sort of combination of the two.

For $6 billion we could make sure that our first responders are able to talk to each other over the same type of communication devices. There were over 300 New York City firefighters killed on September 11, 200, not to mention all of the police officers, paramedics and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials who also lost their lives attempting to save people. Some of those deaths might just have been avoided had there been standardized communications between their departments.

You might ask how many teachers could we hire nationwide? Believe it or not, that $6 billion could hire nearly 150,000 teachers to our public schools. That same money could build an additional one-thousand schools EACH AND EVERY MONTH or create more space in approximately six-thousand schools with much needed additions EACH AND EVERY MONTH. Imagine expanding school curriculums to include after-school programs and tutors for students who are falling behind. Think of it: no more over-crowded schools; no more teachers spending their own money on school supplies; no more students falling through the cracks of a crowded and damaged public school system.

What about public college tuition? In fact, for $6 billion a month (that's $72 billion a year), we could provide tuition for just about every lower and middle class student who wishes to attend a public, four-year institute of higher learning. That's an additional 13 million American children attending our colleges and universities, tuition free. If we want to pay for their books, room and board, that number goes down to five million.

An additional $6 billion dollars could employ that 4.7 percent of Americans without jobs (Bush's numbers, not mine), with above minimum wage jobs for 40 hours each and every week. They could be fixing our roads or cleaning our parks or any number of other occupations that "Americans will do". More importantly, we could use that money to retrain those who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing for the "new jobs of tomorrow". How about this: What if we used that money to help real American entrepreneurs start their own businesses providing that they create jobs, pay taxes and keep those jobs right here in the USA?

But wait... There's more... $6 billion a month could allow every man, woman and child about $140 a month toward the cost of health insurance. That means the average American family of four would have $560 a month to pay their health care bill. They could get their children immunizations shot or get themselves a physical examination. Maybe they could pay for that "catastrophic illness" which the Bushies want us to save up for (see HSA's). "Oh boy... I hope I can save enough money to get that new heart," will not be a sentence uttered in the near or far future in the United States if we spent $6 billion a month on health care and eliminating poverty.

I know that my pie-in-the-sky ideas are far removed from the American mind. After all, we have to know that Brittany Spears is going to pose nude while she is pregnant; or that Tom and Katie's baby hasn't been photographed yet


 Our priorities are here at home first. Let's solve the problems that we have today so that all of us may concentrate on the ills of the world next..

-Noah Greenberg

'00 & '04 - Is It Too Late for '06? - Dems Better Get Ready for '08 Now

It is time to face the music on this and accept that we Democrats failed as a party in 04.

Had the Democratic Party begun organizing: voter recruitment; voter reg; voter education; voter ID and voter mobilization right after the 00 election, the way the GOP did we could have put more people into the polling booths than them on election day.

To sit back and carp and say the election was stolen and that we don't have the vote any more in America at this juncture in history is simply false cynicism.

The GOP wants to consolidate itself as the majority party in America.

They can't because they are only one-third of the electorate.

We dems are currently at parity with the GOP which is why unity and energy are so important right now. If we stay home, if we split up the GOP will continue to win elections. If they keep winning, they will consolidate themselves, even if they remain only one third of the electorate.

The demography of America favors the dems: as the minority voters become a larger and larger share of the electorate, the potential for recruitment and mobilization of voters favors the Dems.

The caveat being that all the white liberal/progressives as willing to get off their pet peeves and work for racial and economic equity and justice.

Everything is in place for a vast and overpowering surge of progressive policy. We need only have a vision of a progressive future and the self-discipline to get and organize rather than blog and kvetch.

If you don't want elections stolen, if you are against the incumbent protection schemes called gerrymandering, support your Democratic gubernatorial and state legislative candidates.

We can change things from the bottom up.

-Robert Chapman

On Welfare Reform

The Clinton welfare reform was an atrocity. If it had been in effect while I was out of work and I had to use welfare, I would be dead today. Why? Because finding jobs is not always that easy. There are factors that can interfere with finding jobs, such as disabilities, tight job markets, age, gender, and actual blacklisting. I had a friend who was blacklisted for trying to unionize on one of her jobs. And, as a working person with a disability, I find that employers are not always so eager to hire someone who they may have to accommodate - regardless of that person's skills. And when workers hit a certain age, the going gets even tougher.

In fact, the very people who struggle to be responsible and work despite such obstacles are the very people who have the hardest time. There are also issues concerning lack of decent child care for people with children.

I do think that people on welfare do need to show some type of effort--perhaps similar to the type of efforts expended when people are on unemployment extension such as clear evidence of job searches or efforts to obtain training. But I do not believe in setting limits on luck. Sometimes, it just doesn't work!

"Personal responsibility" is just a right-wing code term for saying, "we are tearing up the safety net. Die off if you can't make it." It's Social Darwinism and it's wrong.

And btw, both my husband and I are in our 50s, we work 50 hour weeks, and between us we have something like 7 disabilities. Retirement is a dream we may never achieve. We have never collected a single welfare check in our lives. But I have gotten SSI and I was one of the people that worked actively on my own to get off it--and succeeded. So, it's not exactly like we are lounging around and living off the government. We just believe in a strong safety net because we went through times when we simply didn't know if we were going to make it or not and it wasn't for lack of trying.

-Billie M. Spaight

In response to, "After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I've reached the conclusion he's either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both," Robert Scardapane writes:

George Lakoff in a recent Rockridge op-ed commented on exactly this issue.

Bush may very well be incompetent but his party is not! If they were incompetent, there would be no significant legislation passed the past six years. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. None of the legislation are policies progressives agree with but nevertheless the GOOPERS did get their agenda through by and large. So, instead of focusing on the failures of Bush, we should highlight the failure of conservative policy - something that Bush certainly agrees with even if he can't put two coherent sentences together. Otherwise, we give the GOOPERS an easy out.

They can always claim that the failures of Katrina response/recovery, Iraq war, etc... were due to the incompetent Bush and not conservative policy. Therefore, a more competent person will do better. It is plain to me that even if Bush was all there, his policies would be disastrous.

In response to, "Imagine both Spanish language stations in the hands of the right-leaning (and I'm being generous here) GE and the ultra-right-wing The News Corporation. Imagine what they could have done to the Spanish speaking population in terms of spin," Jenny Hanniver writes:

Even under Faux could television get much worse for Hispanics? Maybe many persons will be smart and turn off the TV altogether.

In any case, I'd be truly surprised if Spanish-speaking Americans fell for NeoCon nonsense now that federal and state GOP legislators have shown their bigoted, anti-Hispanic bias--although MADMAN has recently shown that a few who call themselves liberals hold "law'n'order" views that are hostile to "illegal" immigrants, few of whom are any more illegal than most of our ancestors were, and whose presence here has minimal impact on US job losses.

All television is right-wing biased! The only truly democratic and liberal network I know of nowadays--and the only one I keep tuned into on a regular basis--is KBS, the (South) Korean Broadcasting Station. We get this station part of each day on Channel 35, WYBE, our public TV channel in Philly. I don't understand Korean but their TV news broadcasts are probably as liberal in subject matter and approach as their English-language Internet news.

This decade is a period of creative dominance for Korean film-making and acting, and I faithfully watch KBS's magnificently-crafted, exciting, educational historical series, which, along with some of their other programs, are subtitled in English. These are the ONLY television programs I turn on nowadays because they're the only ones worth watching. Even looking back on the "golden age" of 1950s TV, I can't recall more passionately liberal arguments for peace with social justice and economic equity! "Liberal biased?"--sure. But how refreshing that is in the year 2006!

Some cable systems may carry KBS. If you can get them, tune in to their history series twice a week. (In Philly they are aired from 10 to 11 PM on Thursday and Friday evenings.)

In response to, "The Dems lost 04 by 2.5 million votes. Kerry got more votes than any Democrat in history, He got 5 million more than Gore. The trouble is the GOP got SEVEN MILLION more votes in 04 than in 00. You can cry about 'stolen' elections or you can recruit , organize and mobilize more Dems. Being disaffected is the GOP's passport to power," Pat Thompson writes:

Why then, did the exit polling show Kerry in the lead by 4 points? And why did the US make a fuss about the election in the Ukraine being stolen, due to the results not agreeing with the exit polls? Why do exit polls matter in the Ukraine, but are irrelevant here? Why have they always been predictive previously? The 04 election was hijacked.

In response to... well... everything, Jay Bernard or J. Smith) writes:

As an educated liberal speaking to you, five words for ya:

Get a Freaking Life. (understood, You?)

Maybe you should sit back, read what you've written, scratch your head and ask yourself if your time would be better spent writing to your Congressman. It actually works.

The country is not in a great state of affairs. However, undermining our President does nothing to better the cause.

You have good ideas. Express them to others around you and to your Congressmen. It is so futile to join the bandwagon of the American media and harp on the President.

It's a hard enough job, historically speaking, that Bush has had to clean up Clinton's faults.

The whole global warming is certainly important. Why can't charismatic Al Gore seem to sway more than one person in the Senate. Bush's fault.

Use time pro-actively.


I thought this was proactive. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg