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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, July 31, 2006

Not Another Roadmap!

"We want there to be a long-lasting peace, one that is sustainable,"
-President "G"lobal "W"arming Bush, regarding the worsening situation between
Israel and the terrorist group and Lebanese political party, Hezbollah

Bush is going to met with his Secretary of State, "Can-Do-Nothing" Rice to get her views on the conflict. Dr. Rice appeared to spend less time speaking with the parties involved than she did on press conferences and her attire. Every time she appeared in public Madame Secretary showed up in a new pants suit. It was more like a really bad fashion show where Condi was the only runway model.

"I'll speak to Condi Rice when she gets back tonight, talk about what she saw, what she heard in the Middle East. And, of course, there'll be a way forward in the Security Council later this week,"

After all, there isn't any rush, is there?

In my humble opinion, Bush should call for an immediate cease-fire. I know the objective is to rid the world of terrorism, and starting with Hezbollah is a noble idea. If that will stop their lobbing of bombs into Israel, and, as a result, Israel stops their air-strikes, then I say "cease-fire".

Lebanon's government must be "empowered to exercise sole authority over its territory"
-Bush, speaking on a part of the conditions that have to be met for a cease-fire to be backed by the

So, in Bush's plan, this would have to be the time-line for the killing to stop between Israel and Hezbollah:
-A return of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, which was the "Gavrilo Princip assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand" moment of the current situation
-Lebanon be run, in its entirety, without Hezbollah, which, apparently, would mean the Lebanese army disarming the militant group which controls all of southern Lebanon or Hezbollah's disarming themselves
-No more interference form Iran
-No more interference from Syria
-A safe buffer zone prior to the arrival of UN or NATO or EU or Russian or Chinese or US troops arrival to keep the peace
-Then the troops come into Southern Lebanon
-Then the Cease-Fire

In other words, there can be no peace and cease-fire because there is no peace and cease-fire. This is the Bushies logic at work.

Bush send Condi Rice, who is being thrown under the wheels of the bus by the Neo-Cons as we speak, into a situation where she admittedly has no real practical experience to speak of. Instead of a special envoy, like former General Jay Garner, who has negotiated in the area before, or asking former Secretary of State Colin Powell to accompany her, she is left to her own devices (and wardrobe). This is not a thinking man's president at work here.

As I have said before in Madman: Peace needs to come in the form of a cease-fire now. It's important t stop the killing now. Whether you choose the side of Israel or Hezbollah is of no concern regarding this one point. Stopping the killing is "Job-One" and the only way to accomplish it is with a cease-fire now.

Bush's roadmaps only lead us down bumpy, unnavigable paths.

-Noah Greenberg

Media Madman
Frist Fails to Disclose Foundation Role
An Associated Press Headline

"Majority Leader Bill Frist hasn't been following all the Senate's rules when it comes to disclosing details about his finances.
"Frist and his wife are the sole trustees in charge of a family foundation bearing the senator's name, according to Internal Revenue Service forms. However, he has not been listing that position on his Senate disclosure forms, which are made public every year.
"The family foundation had more than $2 million in assets in 2004"

Gawsh! Ain't it amazing how LITTLE these GOP guys know about finances? No wonder our country's economy is so screwed up. They can't even keep their own accounts. Or else, perhaps, they keep them TOO WELL, using a bit of creative bookkeeping? Hmmmm???

-Forwarded and Commented by Jenny Hanniver

Another Bad GOP Bill

"This proposal that links the estate tax and the minimum wage and a bill you know that is not going to pass the senate is the most ethically dishonest, morally bankrupt ploy I have ever seen in a legislative body. For you, Mr. Speaker, and your party, to perpetrate this conscious deliberate deception, not only on the American people but the poorest and hardest working among them is something I would have thought previously you would have been ashamed to do but apparently shame has become entirely irrelevant for you and your party."
-Rep. Barney Frank on the Republican's sham "minimum wage bill":

What's worst is that this bill is actually an attack on state minimum wages. According to this dreadful bill, tipped workers are not required to receive state minimum wage. This terrible bill passed along partisan lines. In November, let's get a majority in Congress, throw this bill out and pass a real minimum wage increase. By the way, the estate tax repeals were already passed by the House (nothing new there just games by the Rethuglicans).

-Robert Scardapane

What the Iraq War is Costing Us

We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq. that equates to 2 billion dollars a week, or 267 million dollars a day, or 11 million dollars an hour.

Attached are some comparisons between what we are spending in Iraq as we "stay the course" indefinitely and what those funds could be used for instead.

I've been fighting for our military to get out of Iraq because I'm concerned about the loss of our troops and the future of our military and also because I believe they have accomplished their mission there and the Iraqis must resolve their internal conflict themselves. However, I also wanted to demonstrate what these expenses mean to domestic policy in the United States and give you an idea of just some of the things that what we could accomplish with this amount of money.

$33.1 billion/yr Department of Homeland Security FY 07 budget (4 months in Iraq)
$10 billion (1-time) Equipping commercial airliners with defenses against shoulder fired missiles (5 weeks in Iraq)
$8.6 billion/7 years Shortage of international aid needed to rebuild Afghanistan (one month in Iraq)
$5.2 billion (1-time) estimated need for capital improvements to secure public transportation system (trains, subways, buses) (3 weeks in Iraq)
$1.5 billion/year Radiation detectors needed at all US ports (rejected due to cost) (5 days in Iraq)
$1.4 billion/ year Double the COPS (community police grants) program (5 days in Iraq)
$800 million/year public transportation personnel training and technical support (72 hours in Iraq)
$700 million/year 100% screening of all air cargo - rejected because of (2 days in Iraq) cost (1/4 of domestic shipping and 1/2 of international shipping is done on passenger planes)
$350 million (1-time) Make emergency radio systems interoperable (1.2 days in Iraq) (recommended after 9/11 but hasn't happened yet)
$500 million/year Double the firefighters grant program (2 days in Iraq)
$94 million/year Restore cuts to cities hit on 9/11 in Homeland Security budget (8-1/2 hours in Iraq)

$36 billion/5 years reduction for Medicare spending in President's FY 07 budget (4-1/2 months in Iraq)
$5 billion/5 years Cut in Medicaid in President's FY 2007 budget (2-1/2 weeks in Iraq)
$2.5 billion/5 years VA health care premium increases in this year's budget. Premiums will double and triple and drug co-payments will increase, costing our military retirees $2.4 billion over 5 years (9 days in Iraq)
$100 million Additional funding recommended for mental health research for Veterans (9 hours in Iraq)
$48 million Medical and prosthetic research for Veterans (half a day in Iraq)
$65 million/yr National Institutes of Health research funding cuts in this year's budget (scientists are leaving the field of health research because funding has been cut so severely) (6 hours in Iraq)
$15 billion/yr Provide health insurance to 9 million children with no health insurance (1-1/2 weeks in Iraq)
$118 million/yr The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides nutritional food packages for less than $20 a month to more than 400,000 elderly people - eliminated in the President's budget (12 hours in Iraq)

$3.4 billion/yr Cut in education budget in President's FY 07 budget from FY 06 funding level (over 40 programs including drug-free schools, federal support for the arts, technology and parent-resource centers). (13 days in Iraq)
$664 million/yr Perkins Loan program cut in President's FY 07 budget (would help 463,000 low-income students attend college) (2-1/2 days in Iraq)
$99 million/yr Even Start (eliminated in President's budget) (9 hours in Iraq)

$300 million President's cut to EPA budget in FY 2007 (1 day, 3 hours in Iraq)
$253 billion/30 years Clean up contaminated sites in US (Up to 350,000 contaminated sites will require cleanup over the next 30 years according to a report released by the EPA.) (2 years in Iraq)
$9.11 billion National Park Service maintenance backlog (1 month, 10 days in Iraq)
$6 billion Forest Service maintenance backlog (3 weeks in Iraq)
$2 billion Fish and Wildlife Service maintenance backlog (2 weeks in Iraq)
$47.2 billion/yr Miscellaneous user fees throughout government imposed by President's budget on taxpayers (6 months in Iraq)
$1.7 billion/yr Grants to states cut in 2007 budget (1 week in Iraq)
$15 million/yr Double the Save America's Treasures program (cut in half from last year's budget) (1.3 hours in Iraq)

$6 billion Double the number of Navy ships we are buying in the 2007 bill from 6 ships to 12. (3 weeks in Iraq)
$8 billion Double the number of total Air Force aircraft we are buying in this bill. That's right ? we could double the number of F-22s, Joint Strike Fighters, C-130's, Global Hawks and Predators we are buying. Or, we could double the number of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft we are buying F-18s, V-22s, KC-130Js, and so on. (1 month in Iraq)

Rep. John P. Murtha is a member of Congress from Pennsylvania.

-Forwarded by Randi Haley


Estimated 2.4 MILLION in Mexico City Protest Demand Recount

In an absolutely astounding development for the defense of democracy everywhere, Mexico's liberal coalition has led a presidential-vote-recount protest today centered around Mexico City's downtown central plaza (the "Zocalo") and has apparently bested the previous record for the largest demonstration ever in Mexico by a million people.

-by el cid , Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 12:47:43 PM PDT Forwarded by Robert Scardapane

In response to, "But when asked if he (Mel Gibson) believed what his father had to say about the Holocaust (the Jews weren't killed by hitler. They all moved to Cincinnati), Gibson had a big, fat 'No Comment'", and, "I'm all for second chances, but how many second chances does one man get?" Eddie Konczal writes:

He's out of chances in my book. I had (stupidly) defended Gibson when "The Passion of the Christ" came out, giving him the benefit of the doubt when he said the movie was not anti-Semitic in nature. But now Gibson has shown his true colors.

As a practicing Catholic, I am embarrassed by Gibson. Anti-semitism has no place in our religion. Gibson is a disgrace to our faith.

And Billie M. Spaight adds:

Mel Gibson is the pits. There is so much evidence about the Holocaust that anybody who denies it is totally in another dimension. There are pictures; there are remains; and there are so many eyewitnesses.

I think Mel Gibson should be boycotted. Maybe if enough people refuse to see his movies and don't buy his videos and DVDs, he will feel popular pressure against him. It may not make him change his views but it sure would make him profit less from everybody. Anti Semitism is just not acceptable anywhere, anytime.

In response to Madman's comments on Hezbollah, Carol F. Yost writes:

I think you should note that far more innocent civilians are being killed by Israeli bombs than by Hezbollah, and you shouldn't blame Hezbollah for that as you seem to be doing. I am very opposed to the one-sided rant that you have been giving here. The Arabs have very just objections to what Israel has been doing all along, especially in relation to the Palestinians, who are being actively and systematically persecuted. I wrote some comments earlier which you didn't print, not because you thought I was biased, but because you said at that time you didn't want to get into the subject of the Middle East.

A case in point is the fact that, as it has been reported, the Arab countries generally were very critical of Hezbollah at first, but the Israeli strikes are so out of proportion to the kidnapping of the three soldiers, that now Hezbollah is beginning to be seen as heroically defending Lebanon. Lebanon is terribly devastated by all this bombing. It does seem as if civilians have been targeted deliberately in many cases. Also, Hezbollah is so deeply rooted in Lebanon that it would be awfully hard to get it out. Negotiations have not really been tried here, and that is the main thing. Also, before the soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah, Israeli soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian doctor and his son; that has not been reported in the press. (It was Noam Chomsky who said it.) The three kidnapped soldiers were just an excuse for Israel to try to destroy Lebanon.

It is easy enough to find out what is really going on in the Palestinian territories. However, the press has largely not reported on that. The only thing that gets attention with regard to the Palestinians (and the issue with them is what started all this trouble in Lebanon) is the suicide bombing. Now, I loathe suicide bombing. I think it's horrible. However, that is what gets reported--not the active harassment and deprivation of simple human rights, and often of simple human needs like medical care, that is being carried on by Israel against the Palestinians. Now, if suicide bombing gets attention, that encourages more of it. If, however, the persecution of the Palestinians got more attention in the mainstream media (and the Israeli leaders have for years stated they have actively wanted the Palestinians just to go away so that the Israelis can have the land to themselves), there might be less of it because Israel would get a very bad image. That would in turn discourage the suicide bombing. How ready Israel is to let go of all that persecution is a big question. It may eventually be forced to; I wish it didn't have to be.

I recommend, for example, the following link for information firsthand from former Israeli soldiers as to the real policy of Israel toward the Palestinians: www.breakingthesilence.org.il. I have heard two of the former soldiers speak, and have seen a video made by this group, and I must say they are quite courageous. (On their homepage they have a note that the web site is being revised, but there is really a great deal of information still available there.)

The heartfelt writings of David Grossman on what is going on in Israel are useful, too.

It doesn't do Israel any good to persecute people who are Arab. Why, that's just what Jews experienced in Europe within many people's lifetime. This has caused so much trouble and pain. They should give up the idea of a "Jewish state" because it's not good to base any nation on one religion, no matter how great that religion is. We can see it doesn't work to have a Muslim state, and it hasn't worked to have a Protestant or Catholic state. There's so much ego and intolerance involved in that idea that it simply should end. The separation of church and state is one of the principles our country was founded on, and the US should also stick to that. (There are people saying we are a "Christian nation," and glorifying almighty God Bush and what our army is doing in Iraq, and boy, that has to stop, too.) You can't do away with persecution if you're guilty of it yourself.

And Victoria Brownworth sends this along:

I am passing this on because it is food for thought, not because i agree or disagree with the content 9(although i have posed the question in the last line myself), but because i think it is definitely worthy of considering. (and no doubt, arguing over).

I will note that the blogger is one of the leftist and best of Washington and has published some of the most terrific breaking news on the Bush administration scandals (so many, who can keep count?) around.

Israeli air strike kills 34 children
by John in DC - 7/30/2006 01:00:00 PM


Israeli said it targeted Qana because it was a base for hundreds of rockets launched at Israel, including 40 that injured five Israelis on Sunday. Israel said it had warned civilians several days before to leave the village.

So here's the ethical question of the day. Someone is firing hundreds of missiles at your citizens each day, and launching them from civilians areas because they think you won't hit back (or hope you do, and thus kill civilians, causing a storm of bad publicity). As for the civilians, it's an open question whether they are helping harbor the guys with the missiles or not, i.e., whether or not they have a say in telling Hezbollah to take a hike (and if they do have a say, would that change your answer)?

So the question is this, under those circumstances, what do YOU do as the leader of country that's receiving 100 rockets a day raining down on your cities?

Second question, which I've posed before. At what point does a local citizenry become responsible for the crimes it supports? When Israel is on the receiving end of bombs, I hear a lot of talk about how every Israeli is a legitimate target because they all support the government. So does the same apply to every Arab, every Muslim, every southern Lebanese, and every American?

I'd just like to see some real discussion of where the line is here, and why some folks seem to care less when the targets are Jewish civilians.

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-Noah Greenberg