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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, July 14-16, 2006

About the Violence

I'm doing my best to formulate my thoughts on the conflict between Israel, the Palestinians and Lebanon.
I'm doing my best to decipher the lame Bush response to what is going on there.
I'm doing my best to figure out why President Bush, or, at the very least, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice doesn't see fit to leave their St. Petersburg (Russia) G-8 trip to show the United State's "resolve" to help end the fighting. In much the same way as Katrina was ignored by Bush's Department of Homeland Security's FEMA, the Israel-Palestinian issue has been ignored by Bush's State Department.

Lebanon has a Democratically led government and Hezbollah is a part if it. Don't let the Bushites tell you that there are a few "extremists" who are opposing democracy, as Condi Rice has suggested today on the Sunday Talking Head Shows. This isn't a product of Democracy.

Our Bush-led USA has decided to be hands-off in this crisis. I guess without oil or vast natural resources there isn't enough money or reason to send Halliburton and Blackwater mercenaries in at US taxpayer cost.

I don't want to make this a forum for the different views of all who want to take sides about the Israel-Lebanon-Gaza issue. If I receive a lot of messages and responses regarding the issue, I'll publish them either in a separate section or in a separate issue of Note from a Madman. But, I'm not really sure how I should handle this. I have my own bias about the situation. My thoughts are This: If I don't tell you mine, I don't have to publish yours. Maybe that's not a good idea, but, at least for today, that's what I'll do.

All of that being said, I do believe this one thing: The apathy shown by the Bush administration; their complete lack of empathy or sympathy for anyone but their "base" of "haves and have-mores"; and their inability to see beyond their "What's in it for me" mentality have not only let middle east peace slip by, but has help hatred grow.

Much like during Katrina, when Bush felt it more necessary to sing Happy Birthday to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), then get a couple rounds of golf in at an exclusive California Golf Club rather than concentrate on the issue at hand, he has "played" in much the same way Nero had fiddled as Rome was burning.

-Noah Greenberg

The Benefits of Dick

Bullets, Bombs and Blood

"Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace. As for the reaction of the Arab 'street,' the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are 'sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.' Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced, just as it was following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991."
--VP Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney to a VFW group, August, 2002

Has any of this happened Mr. Cheney?
What and where are those "benefits" that you promised?
Have the "gravest of threats" been eliminated, or are they all still there, along with the brand new "gravest of threats" like never-ending wars and a new terrorist training ground in Iraq?
Have the "Arab 'Streets'" erupted in joy yet, or have they just erupted with bullets, bombs and blood?
Where are those "moderates" Mr. Cheney?

And just how has the "Israeli-Palestinian peace process" been "enhanced"?

Turn on the TV, Dick. And while you're at it, tell GW to stop looking at the funnies and take a look at the headlines.

-Noah Greenberg

Hezbollah declared war on Israel. Technically, Israel and Lebanon are at war with each other. So, I recall just one year ago Bush bragging about progress with Lebanon. What progress! In fact, what has been gained in the Middle East. As I see it, the situation is worst than ever. Roadmap to peace? Please give me a break. Bush and the Rethuglicans can not bring peace to the Middle East. Get rid of them. -Robert Scardapane

And Bush's Thoughts(?)

"Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations,"
"President Abbas's election four months ago was a tribute to the power and appeal of democracy ... Palestinians voted against violence, and for sovereignty, because only the defeat of violence will lead to sovereignty,"
"Lebanon is truly free and independent and democratic ... There's no question in my mind that Lebanon can serve as a great example for what is possible in the broader Middle East,"
-President Bush

Is "freedom" still on the march in the Middle East? I don't think the people of that region can take anymore "freedom".

-Robert Scardapane

Bush's Banging Up

Well he's doing a bang-up job in the Middle East now, isn't he?

Let's nip this whole "Bush is shifting to a more enlightened foreign policy" theme in the bud, shall we?

Time calls it "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy" in this week's cover story. A David Sanger piece in tomorrow's New York Times is headlined, "Bush's Shift: Being Patient With Foes."

The sad truth is that the Administration's foreign policy has run aground on the shoals of its own incompetence. As Kevin Drum noted last week, "the Bush administration literally seems to have no foreign policy at all anymore."

Afghanistan is reverting to the Taliban. Iraq is beyond the point of no return. North Korea is acting with impunity. Iran controls its own destiny.

Worse, for an Administration that has instinctively favored military action over diplomacy, the nation's military resources are depleted, bogged down, and largely unavailable for any further foreign adventures.

Yet we have stories emerging that suggest the current foreign policy dilemma is a deliberate course of action chosen by Bush. Time, in a mishmash of its news and style sections, calls it a "strategic makeover" led by Condi Rice.

The fact is Bush has boxed himself in, frittering away lives and treasure, and leaving himself with few options. He deserves no more credit for a policy shift than the man serving a life sentence who declares that he will henceforth be law-abiding.

-submitted and commented on by Victoria Brownworth, via talkingpointsmemo.com

Voting With Their Feet

"Having rid Iraq of an oppressive regime, we are committed to helping Iraq build a future of freedom and dignity and peace,"
-President Bush's Speech at Boeing Defense Systems, April 16, 2003

"Each Iraqi enjoys the right of free movement, travel, and residence inside and outside Iraq."
-Iraqi Constitution 2005, Article 42 Ratified October 25, 2005

"Like people in all parts of the world, from all cultures and religions, when given the opportunity, the Iraqi people prefer to live in freedom rather than under tyranny,"
-National Security Council Strategy for Victory in Iraq, November 2005

"Those that can are leaving the country. At Baghdad airport, throngs of Iraqis jostle for places on the flights out -- testimony to the breakdown in Iraqi society . . . In one of the few comprehensive surveys of how many Iraqis have fled their country since the US invasion, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said last month that there were 644,500 refugees in Syria and Jordan in 2005 -- about 2.5 per cent of Iraq’s population. In total, 889,000 Iraqis had moved abroad, creating “the biggest new flow of refugees in the world."
Times of London,,Baghdad starts to collapse As its people flee a life of death, July 13, 2006

I don't see how you can fault Shrub on this one. He promised he would bring freedom, including freedom of travel, to Iraq, and he did. It's even written into the Constitution. And now thousands of Iraqis are exercising that basic right and pursuing the eternal human dream of dignity and peace and sewage systems that actually work -- outside Iraq.

So what's not to like?

Although you'd think more of them would stick around, seeing how we painted their schools and all.

-Posted by billmon, forwarded and commented by Victoria Brownworth

It's Still the Economy Stupid

"The downdraft in equities due to concerns we may be seeing the beginnings of an economic slowdown, coupled with jitters about the geopolitical events in the Middle East, pushed Treasury prices higher as some investors shifted into higher-quality, lower-risk investments. The yield on the 2-year note lost 5 bp to 5.12%, while the yield on the 10-year note declined by 3 bp to 5.07%, and the 30-bond yield fell 2 bp to 5.12%."
-Business wire news

By the way, for the past year, I read this phrase "beginnings of an economic slowdown" (similar to "low level civil war in Iraq"). We are already there! The housing bubble has burst. There is a glut of housing on the market. Interest rates - particularly the Fed Funds rate - inched up to year 2000 levels. The employment reports for the past three-four months have not been good. The price of oil exceeded 75 dollars per barrel. I don't need to tell you how expensive it is to "fill it up" - 3 dollar per gallon gas is commonplace.

How much longer can this economic insanity last without a recession? I don't think much longer. Consider that the consumer contributes more than 50% of the economy. Currently, the consumer is getting by because of credit. But, they are living on borrowed time particularly with the new personal bankruptcy laws. Now, when a person goes bankrupt they will be in a virtual debtors jail indefinitely. When that happens on a large scale, consumer spending will drop like a rock.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve can't cut interest rates because they need to attract foreign money who demand higher rates (just like loan sharks). That means, interest rates on business loans will go high thus reducing capital spending.
When that occurs, business stops growing.

I see another recession on the horizon. When it occurs, will the Rethuglicans blame it on Bill Clinton?

-Robert Scardapane


Or Is It The Philosophy Stupid?

-Children from low-income families have only a 1 percent change of reaching the top 5% of the income distribution, versus children of the rich who have about a 22% chance.
-Children born to the middle quintile of parental family income ($42,000 to $54,300) had about the same chance of ending up in a lower quintile than their parents (39.5%) as they did of moving to a higher quintile (36.5%). Their chance of attaining the top five percentiles of the income distribution were just 1.8%.
-By international standards, the US has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the US is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the US.
-The overall volatility of household income increased significantly between 1990-91 and 1997-98 and again in 2003-04.


One of the key myths Republicans spin is the "rags to riches" saga. They say that anyone can become rich in America regardless of where they start. From a probability standpoint, there is less than 1 out of 100 chance of that outcome! Making a more personal analogy, if you were approached with an investment opportunity that had a 99% chance of failure, would you make that investment? When the most likely outcome of a public policy is failure that policy is simply bad. Republicans propose bad policy because they follow the conservative philosophy that argues for a Darwinist world - survival of the fittest. Their philosophy is the root cause of a nation that is moving backwards economically.

-From The Center on American Progress, Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane

A Real Agenda

Democrats propose a six-pronged "New Direction" agenda that provides:

1. affordable healthcare
2. lowering gas prices
3. raising the minimum wage
4. lowering the cost of college
5. preventing Social Security privatization
6. restoring fiscal responsibility.

This is a great direction for the nation. Keep this agenda in mind when supporting Democratic candidates in 2006.

-Robert Scardapane

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)

OK: Scott Garrett has now voted against both Hurricane Katrina relief (one of only 10 Representatives) AND the Voting Rights Act (one of 33).

Is this guy a member of the John Birch society or something?

-Eddie Konczal

A "Friendly" Quote

(FOG = Friends of George)

"It's not like he's making the decisions,"
-A friend, and supporter of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush, suggesting (emphatically) that anything which goes wrong can't be GW's fault because he doesn;t make any "decisions"

Bush's people are either poor leaders themselves, too good at following a poor leader or simply inept. The "good ones" are "retired" when they speak their mind and then ridiculed when their predictions come true. Those left as Bush's small circle of advisors are relegated to a bunch of "yes-men" and "political activists" whose only job, it appears, is to get that next contract for the Friends of George (FOG) and to make sure that anyone who tells the truth is painted as either Un-American or out of the mainstream.

With a 35 percent approval rating, the American people are catching on... albeit slowly.

President Abraham Lincoln put together a "Team of Rivals" (as termed by the book of that same name by Doris Kearns Goodwin). He brought together such men as William H. Seward of New York (Secretary of State), Salmon P. Chase of Ohio (Secretary of the Treasury) and Edward Bates. of Missouri (Attorney General), all of whom sought their party's  presidential nod (Seward, the favorite, almost got it on the first ballot) as a team. This team put aside their own hurts, disappointments and desires to help hold together a nation through The Civil War. They were the voices of opposition and agreement that President Lincoln sought out in times of indecision and uncertainty.

The Civil War could not have been won without Lincoln the advice from his "team".

President Bush doesn't have a team of rivals. He has Karl "The Traitor" Rove, Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney and Don "We Don't Know What We Don't Know" Rumsfeld. Those are his "advisors" and they are "advised" by the wealthiest of Americans who have only their own self-interests at heart.

Bush doesn't make decisions. Bush just makes mistakes.

-Noah Greenberg

Jack Murtha Speaks

To all the Republicans who sit in their air-conditioned offices and talk of the courage it takes for them to keep young kids in harm's way -- I say enough. Karl Rove talking about 'cutting and running' while he sits on his big, fat backside-saying 'stay the course.' I say enough! That's not a plan! We've got to have a new direction, and it's clear we need more Democrats in Congress to get that done."
-Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA)

Darn right!

-Forwarded and "Darn Righted" by Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg