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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, July 24, 2006

Why I'm Still Honored to have Been in the Second Graduating Class at Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY, 1978

"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
"No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices."
-Edward R. Murrow

-Titled and Forwarded by Noah Greenberg

Media Madman
AP Headlines

"Oil prices fall as Rice arrives in mideast"
"Gas prices move past $3 to all-time high"

Remember last week when I took notice that gas prices haven't risen as expected, even though oil rose to $78 a barrel? I suggested that the lack of a price hike was the result of the upcoming 2006 congressional and senatorial elections, and that the Bushies were begging the oil companies not to do what they did after Hurricane Katrina hit: Allow the prices to soar. Well, if these two contradicting headlines from the Associated Press are to be believed, I was wrong (Or maybe I was just mis-quoted).

The drop is significant, from last week's high of $78.00 per barrel to today's $73.00. Saudi Arabia didn't want to overshadow Secretary Rice's "visit" and create a story which might hurt her mission.

But in a story just 6 hours older than the price drop story, we found out that the average price for a gallon of gas in the US has risen to over three dollars per gallon. It is now at its highest price ever, with an average cost to the consumer of $3.0150 per gallon.

One wonders whether the AP editors and writers actually talk to each other.

-Noah Greenberg

"Another Bar, Wine-Tender"

Or "Ocifer, I am Not Under the Affluence of Icohol"

“I am so sorry,”
-Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Karen Hughes to a group of angry Americans who fled Lebanon an have been stuck due to a broken plane for five days

As a note, Ms. Hughes was sitting at an airport bar drinking wine, at the time.

Wow, I bet Ms. Hughes was really ticked. After all, it was the cocktail hour. Condoleezza Rice's plane was making a fueling stopover in Ireland when this exchange took place with a "mob" or angry Americans who were trying to get home. Remember that these are the same Americans which the Bushies wanted to charge $150 a piece to evacuate from Lebanon. They're upset, tired and simply want to come home. They recognized presidential advisor, Karen Hughes, who is accompanying Secretary Rice on her trip to Beirut and Israel.

The group, who had been traveling for five days and had been stuck at the Ireland airport for 24 hours wanted help and answers, things that the Bushites can't answer without first getting the green light from Karl "The Traitor" Rove.

Don't they offer wine on the Secretary's plane? Was it necessary for her to go to the Airport lounge for nightcap? Maybe it's time for her to get herself into the first of the twelve steps that GW himself has, so far, avoided.

At the very least Ms. Hughes should have offered to buy them all a round.

-Noah Greenberg

Bush's First Veto
No Stem Cell Research

An iceberg looks innocent above the surface. But what it truly is (and its danger) lies below the surface.

So too, IMHO, is the reasons behind this first veto of his administration. Bush looks like a stalwart Christian pro-lifer. But what he actually is, is a corporatist. The only god he worships is money. And what group contributes millions to him and his party? The Pharmaceutical companies. There is much more money to be made in continuing to treat disease than in curing it.

-Ann Dougherty

More on Bush's Veto

Regarding President Bush's veto of the funding bill for stem-cell research.

I share the concern for the preservation of human life, but I find the position of the President and advocates of banning federal funding for stem cell research difficult to understand.

However, as I do understand it, their position is that using the genetic material of an unused IVF zygote for medical purposes that destroys said zygote is tantamount to taking human life. If this is a correct understanding, the President and other opponents of federally funded stem cell research should explain the moral and philosophical basis of their contention that destroying such a zygote is killing a human being. How can a zygote, that would spend its "natural days" in agar or frozen be a human being? (Not to mention eventually being thrown away. -NG)

What validity- outside of political power- does the assertion of the moral equivalency of the zygote's existence to the life and treatment of a sick person have ?

Even as a theological proposition, the contention that such a zygote is a fully endowed, spiritually aware, morally responsible being created in the image of God seems to me ridiculous. I think the advocates of banning federal funding on stem cell research need to face the moral implications of their stance and explain clearly whether they are defending human life, or have merely painted themselves into a political corner.

When the President and other GOP notables contend that they are acting on conviction in this matter, one can conscientiously question their intellectual honesty on this issue until they explain the philosophical and moral underpinnings of their contention that zygotes are human beings.

-Robert Chapman

Fighting to Keep What We've Earned

What the hell; we're just a bunch of old fudds, won't be around in a few years anyway. Just kill us off, let us die without hospital care. No big deal, right? (And lots more money for all those welfare programs for the super-rich.)

Of course Dick Cheney doesn't use Medicare. He's a former Congressman--and thanks mostly to the GOP but with plenty of eager collusion from Democrats, Congress has its own ultra-plush lifetime totally government-paid plan. Cheney voted against Medicare when it first came up. What did HE care? He had lifetime Socialized Medicine.


-Jenny Hanniver

Bush Vs. Conyers

"I decided to file suit against the President in Federal Court in Michigan, along with 11 Senior Democratic Members of Congress. This suit was necessary because of a clear violation of the constitution. When the President signed the Deficit Reduction Act (which "reduced" the deficit by cutting taxes, health care benefits, and student loans), he signed into law a bill that had not passed the House and Senate. A different version of the bill passed each house of Congress with a multi-billion dollar difference in funding for life-saving medical equipment.
"Anyone who ever watched Schoolhouse Rock knows this to be a problem."
-Rep. john Conyers (D-MI)

Hurrah for Rep Conyers! He's one of the few in Congress with guts & gumption, and I'm glad I signed onto his mailing list.

-Jenny Hanniver

I think the president was watching Super-Friends, Rep. Conyers. -NG

Bush's Amerika

Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- When school was canceled to accommodate a campaign visit by President Bush, the two 55-year-old teachers reckoned the time was ripe to voice their simmering discontent with the administration's policies.

Christine Nelson showed up at the Cedar Rapids rally with a Kerry-Edwards button pinned on her T-shirt; Alice McCabe clutched a small, paper sign stating "No More War." What could be more American, they thought, than mixing a little dissent with the bunting and buzz of a get-out-the-vote rally headlined by the president?

Their reward: a pair of handcuffs and a strip search at the county jail.

From "Arrested Bush Dissenters Eye Courts" By Todd Dvorak, The Associated Press


Now, you tell me that this Bush administration isn't fascism. When someone can't even wear a Kerry-Edwards button, what have we come to other than dictatorship?

-Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane

Their Own "Reward"

The pseudo-Christian End Time believers have this delusion that sparking a war that'll consume the world will get them-personally-rewarded by God. They expected when the (expletive deleted) hits the fan that they'll be swept up in the Rapture...

A lot like the 9/11 hijackers thought they would wake up in Paradise with 72.

-David W.

I hope that there's room on "Kenny-Boy" Lay's boat as they cruise down the river of fire.-NG


by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006, Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

While Lebanon is being bombed into oblivion by Israel, Hezbollah missiles slam into northern Israel and the entire Middle East looks like the opening salvo of World War III, President Bush finally found time last week to make an important political move.

Bush was declarative, saying he had a moral responsibility to protect human life.

Did the President call Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert? Did he speak to UN head Kofi Annan? Did he make an international plea to Hezbollah?

No, Bush didn't urge a cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah that might have put an end to the incipient war that has already taken hundreds of lives and injured several thousand others.

Instead, against the urging of Democratic leaders as well as some prominent members of his own party, like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (a physician), Philadelphia cancer survivor Sen. Arlen Specter and Nancy Reagan (widow of former President Ronald Reagan, who died of Alzheimer's disease), Bush vetoed a Congressional bill that would have legalized embryonic stem cell research.

The scene was vintage Bush playing to his political base of religious zealots at the expense of science and the lives of suffering Americans. On July 19th, surrounded by parents and babies, Bush made his statement about "the sanctity of human life" even as children in Lebanon and Israel were being killed and maimed by the conflict there.

The stem cell veto wasn't the first boldly craven political move by Bush (the next day he appeared at the NAACP after refusing to speak to the group for the entire six years of his presidency to woo blacks to the Republican Party). With a pivotal election in November in which Republicans are expected to lose numerous seats, Bush is trying to at least ensure the fealty of his far-right base.

As the first in his entire presidency, Bush's veto needs perspective. No two-term president since Jefferson has waited so long to veto Congressional legislation.

A majority of Americans and scientists support embryonic stem cell research, which could find cures for a panoply of illnesses including diabetes, certain cancers, and neurological and central nervous system diseases like Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and Parkinson's. Similar research is being done all over the world using discarded embryonic cell formations (between eight and 24 cells). The embryos that would have been used to further research into these devastating diseases will now be thrown away: into the trash, per the President's dictate.

It's difficult to understand how Bush's veto protects life, given that the same stem cells that would be used to advance science and save lives will now be thrown into a medical waste container and either burned or sent to a landfill.

This stem cell research veto is part of the Bush Administration's war against science. It is a war that pits those in often desperate need of medical technology against Bush's desperate need to hold onto the votes of his most far right wing supporters who oppose science on religious grounds.

Unfortunately, majority America is suffering because of this war on science.

I am one of those suffering.

Thirteen years ago I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating neurological disease in which the pathways to the brain are blocked, stopping basic functions from walking to speaking to breathing. I have spent more than a decade predominantly in a wheelchair, unable to do many of the things I used to love–including taking a simple walk around the block. I am partially blind from the disease. My hands shake constantly from it, my feet drop and spasm, I am severely fatigued all the time and I am in constant, debilitating pain.

While there is treatment for some of the symptoms, there is no cure for MS, which mostly strikes women in their 20s and 30s, causing eventual paralysis, blindness and death. MS is one of the diseases stem cell research might cure.

Millions of Americans are suffering from diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS and ALS. More than 65 percent of people over 80 will be stricken with Alzheimer's.

Yet President Bush doesn't want to see those people's lives saved.

And stem cell research is not the only area in which the President has allowed extremists to determine science. These religious extremists–no different from religious extremists in other parts of the world on whom the President has declared war–are succeeding in restricting women's access to basic health care in America.

I don't want to make this column about me, but I do want to personalize it so you can understand how the President's decisions could easily effect you and everyone you love. Everyone, for example, has women and girls in their families. And the President and his extremist supporters are putting the lives of those women and girls at risk.

On September 4, 2002, I was beaten and sexually assaulted in a neighbor's yard next to my house by a total stranger.

Statistically speaking, it was not a shocking event: One in three women and girls will be raped in her lifetime. Those rapes are most likely to occur in the home, since more than two-thirds of rapists are known to the victim; in the case of children under 18, the majority of those rapists are family members, teachers or other care-givers.

So what does my rape and the rapes of millions of women and girls each year in America have to do with Bush's extremist war on science?

Approximately 15 percent of women and girls who are sexually assaulted become pregnant. There is now a pill called Plan B–a contraceptive pill–that can be taken within 72 hours of a rape to prevent pregnancy.

Physicians estimate that Plan B would prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions each year.

Yet the Bush Administration has lobbied to keep the drug from being available in pharmacies and hospitals where it might be given to rape and incest victims or where women could buy it themselves.
The argument against Plan B is that it will promote promiscuity in women and girls. And Plan B isn't the only medical breakthrough the Bush Administration doesn't want women to have.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a common sexually transmitted disease infecting one in four women and men in the U.S. It is also the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer in women. Because HPV has no symptoms, it remains undetected by those who acquire it (and it only takes one sexual encounter to get the disease–my rape, for example, or the rape of a little girl).

Cervical cancer kills thousands of women in the U.S. each year. In the past year both a test for HPV and a vaccine for the disease have been made available.

But the Bush Administration doesn't want us to have them.

Physicians recommend that all pre-pubescent girls get the vaccine to prevent transmission of HPV and the possibility of cervical cancer. They also recommend that all adult women who are sexually active (this would include married as well as unmarried women) be tested for HPV and if found to be negative, get the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

When I was raped, I could have gotten pregnant or gotten a sexually transmitted disease from my attacker. I spent 18 months being tested for various STDs after the assault. The HPV vaccine wasn't available then, nor was Plan B, but if either were, I would have wanted them available to me. And I certainly want those medical breakthroughs available for all the other millions of girls and women who are the victims of rape and incest every year.

It isn't just rape victims at risk. In 21st century America, only 15 percent of women and five percent of men are virgins when they marry. It only takes one sexual encounter with an infected person to get HPV. Why should a woman pay with her life for a virus she might contract from her husband?

We vaccinate our children against Hepatitis B, another virus that is primarily transmitted sexually. Why can't we vaccinate our girls against HPV, which could kill them later in life?

Religious extremists are defining science in America and killing people in the process, just as religious extremists abroad are killing people in other ways.

If a religious zealot in America keeps my little girl from having a vaccine that could save her life or keeps me from the benefits of research that might save my own life, how is that any different from a religious zealot in the Middle East who blows up a crowded street with a bomb?

My grandmother lived to be 96. My great-aunt lived to be 103, as did my great-grandmother. I doubt I will be able to match their longevity, but I would like to live the life-span of the average American woman, which is 79–another 30 years for me. And with stem-cell research, that might be possible.

I would hope that my three lovely nieces will never endure the horror of sexual assaulted. But regardless, I want them protected from diseases that could kill them.

My friend and Mount Airy resident, Louise Kuney died of metastatic cervical cancer three years ago at 46. She was a vibrant, funny, life-affirming artist with decades more life ahead of her.

Louise had a great sense of community and fellow feeling and when I visited her a week before her untimely death at the serene Keystone Hospice in Mount Airy, she asked me to tell her story and try and save some lives with it. I promised I would.

So you see, real people–myself, Louise, your uncle with Alzheimer's, your father with Parkinson's, your cousin who was raped–are impacted by decisions being made by a small group of religious zealots who say that women will be promiscuous if the threat of death doesn't hang over their sexual lives and stem cell research is a violation of human life.

But as my rape and the rape of millions of women and girls every year proves, there are many ways to get HPV or be the victim of an unwanted pregnancy. And since embryos that would have been used to further research will now be thrown in the trash with disposable diapers and other garbage, that's hardly respect for life. Respect for those embryos would be granting life to others through them, like organ donation does.

More than 65 percent of Americans say they are religious. I am a devout Catholic. I have deep respect for human life–not just my own, or Louise's, or my nieces', but everyone's. If Plan B can prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions, shouldn't we use it? If the HPV vaccine can save thousands, shouldn't we use it? If stem cell research can end the suffering and deaths of millions, shouldn't we use it?
Louise had immense courage when she was dying, but I wouldn't want to see another woman die as painfully and tragically as she did. I wouldn't want to see another young woman sentenced to life in a wheelchair like I have been.

The President can keep that from happening. We can all keep that from happening.

There is an election in November. Before that election, make it clear to the politicians where you stand: Standing for life means respecting the lives of the people here, now, today and saving them from terrible and unnecessary suffering. We have the technology to do that. Now all we need is to care enough about the lives of others to save them.

In response to, "Does anybody else feel like sending Rice into the middle east conflict is like adding fuel to an already blazing inferno? Remember, it was President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and possibly the most moral man who ever inhabited the White House, who brokered a lasting peace between Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat," Robert Scardapane writes:

Rice's trip to the Middle East is a diversion. She isn't there to urge peace. The neocons are setting the stage for at least one more Middle East war, namely against Iran.

Where oh where is Jimmy Carter! I am convinced that if Jimmy Carter had
four more years there would be a Palestinian state and Hamas/Hezbollah would have been small fringe groups.

Jimmy Carter was the first modern President to seek a paradigm shift in foreign policy. He wanted a foreign policy that is based on morality instead of protecting the Corporate overlords. If Mr. Carter succeeded in making this change, there would be no neocons. Now wouldn't that have been great! Instead, we got Ronald Ray-Gun thus beginning our decline.

And in response to, "Rice declared that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire, saying: 'This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard. We're going through a very violent time.'" Robert Scardapane writes:

What more do you need to hear? Rice is a heartless murderer just like the rest of the Neocons. But, we all knew that already.

By the way, be very afraid of Newt Gingrich's WW III rhetoric. He is a charter member of PNAC and was instantly on TV after 9/11 saying this is the first battle in WW III. Some timing huh? Gingrich is obnoxious and disgusting but he is the political voice of the blood sucking neoconservative movement.

In response to, "Meanwhile, the rest of us will remain here on this planet," Rhian writes:

Troops levels have been increased in Afghanistan and Iraq, after lots of media blathering about drawing down, for the past two or three months.

Note: Iran lies between these two countries. Smells like logistics to me.

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-Noah Greenberg