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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Anyone who has ever lived in the New York City area knows about cockroaches. Even with a good exterminator they're almost impossible to get rid of. When the light is out, so are they. How many times have you turned on the lights in you apartment and sent them scattering?

The Taliban are the terrorist version of cockroaches. The US, along with a real coalition of allies went into Afghanistan and, in effect, "Turned on the light." They scattered.

"The Taliban extremists have taken control of the areas of Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi. However, coalition forces do have them under observation. Decisive operations will begin soon,"
-Military spokesman Col. Tom Collins


We turned the light off and the cities of Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi in southern Afghanistan were back in the hands of the cockroaches.

We have a troop level for a nation of some 28 million less than New York City's 45,000 member NYPD. And. not everybody in New York City is trying to kill them. Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan (and a former Unocal employee) has little or no power outside of his Kabul enclave. He's more mayor than president.

"After 16 days of brave resistance, our police -- who numbered only 42 people -- had to pull back. After they left the area, eight vehicles loaded with Taliban came from across the border and took the district,"
-Karzai's spokesman Karim Rahimi

According to some reports, at least one of the cities, Naway-i-Barakzayi, has been taken back by Afghani troops.

Click! The light's back on, cockroaches... Scatter!

We had an opportunity to be rid of the Taliban forever. We had the people on the ground and we had the whole civilized world standing right behind us. George W. Bush and his political hacks masquerading as leaders blew it. He threw away our "political capital. While we were closing in on Osama bin-Laden in his Tora Bora mountain "hide-away", he slipped through our fingers. There were paramilitary troops on the ground just waiting for a go ahead to be turned loose. It never came.

"There he goes,"
-a US soldier in Tora Bora as he watched a plane leave Afghanistan, referring to bin-Laden


-Noah Greenberg (idea originally forwarded by Jenny Hanniver)

Losing His Veto Virginity

President Bush, if he does as promised, will veto his very first bill in the coming days. It's a bill that is would support everything that is right in regard to science, and what it could do for us all. It's a bill that holds the promise for a walking future for those who have no use of their legs. It's a bill that might allow those without hearing to hear someday soon. It's a bill that has a great majority of America's support. It's the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill.

Bush's contention is that extracting stem cells from embryos is wrong because the outcome is, he believes, a loss of a life. Wouldn't that life be lost regardless when that very same embryo is thrown in the trash?

In order to keep up appearances with the Religious Right (a group that seems to be opening their eyes, albeit slowly, to Karl "The Traitor" Rove's lying and controlling ways) Bush needs to veto this bill. I wonder what the Rove-Polls are saying?

"The simple answer is he thinks murder's wrong. The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research."
-White House Press secretary, and former Fox news guy Tony Snow

However, today on the floor of the Senate the topic was stem cell research, an issue that splits the Republicans into the ‘rigid, fanatical’ right and ‘reasoned, open-minded’ right. There were a number of touching and meaningful presentations in support of HR810 (not to be confused with the other 2 much weaker bills from the likes of Senator Santorum), but one of the most profound was by Senator Gordon Smith (R- Oregon). He is and always has been a solid pro-life Senator and from his biblical quotes appears to be very religious. He spoke with eloquence and clarity from his pro-life perspective often pointing out that he felt stem cell research from discarded embryonic stem cells was very pro-life. He also pointed out that he had watched a number of close relatives die from Parkinson’s. Some of his comments included:

“It is the act of implementation within a mother that gives them (stem cells) life…stem cell research is very pro-life…I do not believe religion and science are in conflict on this issue…we do not serve the public well by taking the narrowest theological vision…stem cells are a building block of life, but if left in a Petri dish they will remain dust forever…I believe religion and science are in harmony…HR810 offers hope and promise to unlocking mysteries of science and hope and what could be more pro-life than that…I appeal to President Bush, please to not veto this bill…or the hope that comes from this research…to my pro-life friend President Bush I urge he not veto this bill.”
-Senator Smith

Seventy percent of America is in support of the passage of a real embryonic stem cell research bill. Every member of our nation's House of Representatives is up for election this year, including the Republicans. They're scared of losing their "right to steal" seats in the house and their lucrative expense accounts and PAC "donations".


You do the math.

283-144 in the House and, if the senate would get up the guts to create a similar bill to the House's, 60-40 would make Bush's veto irrelevant. The only thing it would do is to show him as even more of an impediment to the advancement of medical science and human life that we all know he already is.

Ask a paraplegic if he wants hope. Ask a juvenile diabetic if they want to throw their needles away. Ask an NF2 patient if they want to hear or smile again.

Then ask them to get out and vote.

-Noah Greenberg

Bush's Off-Camera "Smartitudeness"

BUSH to Blair: "I think Condi is going to go (to the Middle East) pretty soon."
BLAIR: "Right, that's all that matters, it will take some time to get that together . . . See, if she goes out she's got to succeed as it were, where as I can just go out and talk."
BUSH: "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."
BLAIR: "Who, Syria?"
BUSH: "Right . . . What about Kofi? That seems odd. I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything else happens."
BLAIR: "I think the thing that is really difficult is you can't stop this unless you get this international presence agreed." . . .
BUSH: "I felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen. We're not blaming Israel. We're not blaming the Lebanese government."

The president acting smart, presumably off camera. "Why, I didn't know y'all were a-listenin' there fellas"

Too bad he can't actually be smart when we need him to be smart.

Bush's "I didn't know I was on camera bit" was right out of a Saturday Night Live bit. Let me refresh your memories: Ronald Reagan appeared as a forgetful bafoon in public, while in front of his staff he was this sharp, coherent leader of the free world.

Yeah.... That's the ticket.

-Noah Greenberg, from a forward by Victoria Brownworth

The Four Most Overpaid White House Staffers

Today the National Journal published a list of salaries for the 403 White House staffers. Here are the four most overpaid:

Deborah Nirmala Misir Ethics Advisor $114,688
Erica M. Dornburg Ethics Advisor $100,547
Stuart Baker Director for Lessons Learned $106,641
Melissa M. Carson Director of Fact Checking $46,500

And yes, there is a White House Director for Lessons Learned. We aren’t making this up.

Gee, and I'm only a journalist and a college professor. Obviously I am in the wrong business!

-submitted and commented on by Victoria Brownworth, thanks to thinkprogress

Al-Qaeda in Indiana?

It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.” But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the official federal antiterrorism database.

The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.

“Nix’s Check Cashing,” “Ice Cream Parlor,” “Tackle Shop,” “Donut Shop,” and “Bean Fest” also made the list.

-Forwarded by Victoria Brownworth from the New York Times

In response to Rhian's horse idea, Billie M. Spaight writes:

Conservation: Every Little Bit Helps

I like Rhian's positive suggestions for reducing consumption and energy use. Horses and bicyles will work for some people. Others may need to find other solutions, but in any case, I think it's good for individuals to seek solutions to the economy/energy problem while we all work collectively too.

Some more ideas could include: shutting lights when not in use, recycling conscientiously, using both sides of paper, and scavenging used items that may be "trash" to one person but a "treasure" to someone else. I also use the backs of those mini-calendars for scrap paper. I also save all those packets of sugar and salt and other condiments that I get when I eat out and use them at home. Ditto napkins. All of these are proverbial drops in the bucket, but eventually the bucket will fill up.

People who can afford it and have houses could invest in solar panels. People who live in cities could use mass transit if it is available and bearable. And those very, very fortunate people who CAN stagger their work hours or telecomute may want to consider that.

And meanwhile on the collective level, we can push for more hybrid vehicles, better mass transit systems, and more use of solar and wind power.

It's not much and I am sure other people can think of other things to do. But I do think Rhian is onto something good here. Lets go green and help ourselves individually too.

In response to, "We need to have the militancy that says 'We're not going to lose a city,' " Gingrich said. He talks about the need to recognize World War III as important for military strategy and political strategy," Anonymous writes:

We did, however, lose the City of New Orleans to a president who preferred golf to rescue, delay to action, inaction over leadership.

A Quote

"This wasn't any old Joe. It was Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country who was courted last summer by the RNC to run against Cruella Harris. But before he could announce he wouldn't, Harris called major donors and suggested Scarborough would have to answer questions about Scarborough's dead intern."
-Marc Caputo, "Story of 'Joe's dead intern' began Harris' slide, insiders say"

So if you kill an intern, you can go on to cable TV stardom. But talking about Scarborough's dead intern is political suicide?

-David W.

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-Noah Greenberg