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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, August 9, 2006


A Conservative Quote
A Day Late and a Dollar Short

"John Kerry as right when he said, and was soundly ridiculed, that the war on terror is primarily an intelligence and police matter."
-Conservative Pundit George Will

Of course John Kerry was right and he should be the President rather than the thing from hell called Bush.

-Robert Scardapane


To almost quote President Richard M. Nixon, "I am not a schmuck." As I said before, I won't support Lieberman as an Independent. Not because he's an Independent (I'm a huge supporter of Rep. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, who's running for The Senate this year) but because his chosen party, and his Democratic constituency said "We don't want you, Joe. You're out of touch with us," and he chose to ignore them.

I am not a schmuck. Make no mistake, I now support Ned Lamont heart and soul . Unlike many of Madman's readers, I felt that the winner of this primary would represent my chosen party, the Democrats well, and that included Joe Lieberman, if he had won.

Joe, please stand down. Don't let your pride or vanity or sense of injustice prevent you from being the bigger man I always suspected you are. Give it up and help Ned Lamont win. Take your reputation, because you still have one, and allow a new Democratic President in 2009 make you Secretary of Defense or Ambassador to Israel, or some other post that fits you. Stop this bad fight.

Even if your behavior now wins you your seat in the Senate, it will be victory at the expense of much more... your chosen party.

Senator Joe... Please don't be a schmuck.

-Noah Greenberg


Just to get this straight, last year Western nation newspapers published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The Muslim community was up in arms about the image of Mohammed being shown because it's against the tenets of their religion to show his likeness.

Israeli newspapers didn't publish the image.

However, in response to the cartoon, Iran has created an international cartoon contest, the theme being The Holocaust.

"We staged this fair to explore the limits of freedom Westerners believe in,"
-Masoud Shojai, head of the country's "Iran Cartoon" association

In the spirit of two wrongs making a right, the Iranians are about to "right" their "wrong". I'm going to be interested to see what the reaction of those in the Western world will be, myself. I'm really going to be interested in what those screamed loudest when that image of Mohammed was shown. Will they scream at the images of six million dead, dying and tortured European Jews being shown in cartoon fashion? I certainly hope not.

"They can freely write anything they like about our prophet, but if one raises doubts about the Holocaust he is either fined or sent to prison."

Was anyone put in prison for the Mohammed cartoon? I doubt it. Will anyone be put in prison for a Holocaust cartoon? Well, in the past, when showing Jews in a negative light in any medium, they haven't been. In passion plays through history, just how many were imprisoned by their hatred of Jews? Just how many Saudi's have been put in jail for supporting madrases and the teaching of hate against Jews or Israel?

For that matter, which prison cell is Mel Gibson occupying these days?

After the image of Mohammed was satirized, death threats were thrown at those who created it, published it and even those who thought about publishing it. Does anyone think that any Jew or Jewish group will make the same threats? I doubt it.

"Though we do not deny that fact that Jews were killed in the (second world) war, why should the Palestinians pay for it?"

That's a strange sentiment presented by Shojai. It was just last year that new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Hitler's Holocaust "a myth".

Make no mistake about it, the Iranians are aiding the Bushites in their want for World War III by their deeds and actions. The Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah at the behest of Tehran and Ahmadinejad. His actions mirror that of Osama bin-Laden's; to shake up the World's Muslim population. And he is able to do these deeds because he has no fear of the United States due to the fact that we are occupied elsewhere.

Israel and the world's Jewish population will show their anger toward the Iranian/ Holocaust cartoon contest. But that's all that will happen. Tehran is looking for a fight, plain and simple. And they should be careful what they wish for, for the world's sake.

-Noah Greenberg

Another Bush Power Grab

The Washington Post reported this morning that the National Defense Authorization Act has a provision that would allow the President to take direct control of the National Guard in the event of a national disaster or threat to homeland security. This is truly a troubling development. The article noted that the governors are almost unanimous in their opposition to the proposed law, which has apparently already passed the House. I can think of three very troubling reasons for this.

Warning, warning, warning - do not give Bush that power. He has been trying to overturn Posse Comitatus since 9/11. If he is given that power, he will impose an outright dictatorship.

-Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane

Talking Money

The London Times reported yesterday that the airport closings cost the airlines one Hundred MILLION POUNDS.

A few more anti-terror victories like this and we'll all be wearing barrels.

-Robert Chapman

More on Connecticut Politics

In many ways, I would rather see Joe Lieberman bow out gracefully by running a token campaign and spend the rest of his years working on building up his retirement fund.

Realistically, I think Joe's feelings are hurt and that he will work hard to get reelected and demonstrate that he still is in touch with the average voter and that he is a force to be reckoned with in the Party and in national politics. The Lieberman-Lamont-Schlesinger race could well be a bellwether election for national politics.

If Lieberman is able to crank up his machine and out poll Lamont and Schlesinger in Connecticut, it will greatly strengthen Al From's (spokesman and possibly still executive director of the Democratic Leadership Council) argument that a left coalition cannot win in American politics. If on the other hand, Lamont is able to connect with the voters, maintain the motivation of the progressive bloc that supported his nomination and get himself elected, it will show that the left is alive and well and not to be taken for granted.

That Cheney is out scaring the GOP faithful with the specter of left wingers running amok if Lamont wins, shows clearly that an explicitly left coalition is a stronger electoral challenge to the GOP than the moderate based center-left coalition the DLC supports.

If Lamont can take a majority in the general election, his campaign could well serve as a blueprint for other aspiring left leaning politicians to run on an openly left wing agenda. Some of them will win and the left will once again have many strong, active and explicit voices in American politics.

I urge all the readers of this publication to actively support the Lamont campaign and to do all in their power to assure his victory in Connecticut in November.

-Robert Chapman

Lew's Crystal Ball

I predict: Lieberman will win in the General. And in a landslide if the Republicans are smart. You read it here.

-Lew Warden

Imminent Terror

So, I hear that the geniuses in Homeland Security are not going to allow passengers to bring bottled water on to planes. I am reminded of a line out of the movie Dr. Strangelove. General "Jack" Ripper explains to Mandrake (Peter Sellers) why he is going to nuke the Russians:

General Ripper: Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!...You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh?

Terror, terror and more terror, right up to the elections in 2006. By the way, the British are yet to find any actual explosives but the attack was imminent (yeah right!). In the cold war, it was the terror of Communists, now it is the terror of "Islamo-Fascists". External conflicts always generate the need for internal enemies. When the empire is failing, it must be because of "turn-coats" at home. Republicans empire builders have made this a matter of policy. Without war and conflict, Republicans are nothing. I say it's time to get of these Re-Thugs.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

Sy Hersh on Lebanon

Seymour Hersh's intelligence and diplomatic sources tell him that the reason for this hands-off reaction was that George Bush and Dick Cheney already knew about Israeli plans for a bombing campaign against Hezbollah's underground missile complexes and were convinced that it could both increase Israel's security and serve as a prelude to a American pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

This would not surprise me at all. I have said for a long time that the neoconservatives use Israel for their nefarious purposes. They are not friends of Israel.


-Robert Scardapane

About the 2004 Election

Like 2000, 2004 was stolen as well. I agree that George "The Idiot" Bush lost both times and is only in office today because of low, slimy bastards like Karl "The Traitor" Rove. The TV news could never mention that the election was stolen because they bow to their right-wing advertisers. The news networks in turn have brainwashed the American public who are either not sure politically or are moderates. They made people believe in Dumbya's so-called "war on terror in Iraq" to get Saddam and set up a democratic government in Iraq. Bush made Osama look like he is no longer a concern. He is still one of the most, if not the most dangerous person in the world.

Let's sum it all up: The Rethuglicans (Dumbya, Rove, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the GOP-led Congress) are corrupt, stupid politicians who in turn have made our government corrupt and made our once proud nation a scary horror show.It is because of their idiocy in EVERY single decision they make.

-Michael Brandes

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

Would you work an hour for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread?

If your answer was “no way” or something more colorful, then you clearly are *not* a minimum wage earner. But for more than 15 million Americans making minimum wage–$5.15 an hour–that is all an hour’s wage will buy.

Just before taking summer vacation, the Senate managed to weasel out of raising the minimum wage for the most poverty-stricken workers in America. Yet that same Senate has repeatedly raised its own wages to reflect the cost of living in America.

The reason the minimum wage increase was defeated was political and cynical: Republicans tacked an estate tax reduction onto the minimum-wage increase in an attempt to give more welfare to the rich from the Republican-run government. Meanwhile, the poor–and everyone else--gets poorer.

Let’s put the Republican sleaze-factor on the minimum wage bill in perspective: In the past ten years that the Republicans have had control of the Congress, Congress has voted itself a pay raise *nine* times. Yet it has refused to raise the minimum wage once in that same time period. What’s more, the current Republican-dominated Congress has also lowered estate taxes nine times, benefiting the super-rich at the expense of not only the poor, but also the middle-class.

Estate taxes currently impact fewer than .05 percent of Americans: those who inherit more than $2 million. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 15 million Americans making minimum wage while only 30,000 people in the *entire country* were effected by the estate tax. (Among those benefiting from the rampant estate tax cuts, however, is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Frist inherited more than $2 million in 2004 from his mother’s estate which he immediately transferred into a family-held trust, thus avoiding paying any taxes at all.)

Last August, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and 1.5 million people were left displaced, one reason given for the thousands stranded in New Orleans during the storm was lack of resources to leave when the town was evacuated.

In 2004, more than 300,000 workers in Louisiana were minimum wage workers; that same year only 91 households had to pay estate taxes. The cost-benefit analysis is obvious. The zeal with which Congress has protected the minuscule number of estates subject to the estate tax is particularly disturbing in contrast to the refusal to raise the minimum wage, especially as the votes have consistently been partisan: Democrats for a minimum wage increase, Republicans against it.

Some states–Pennsylvania among them–have been forced to enact their own legislation (and also facing Republican ire, as Gov. Rendell has) to raise the minimum wage, because the federal statute has remained unchanged for such an inordinately long period of time.

In the ten years since the minimum wage was last increased–the longest period of stasis since the federal minimum wage was established–the divide between rich and poor in America has increased exponentially. The refusal to raise the minimum wage is just one aspect of how the Republican-run government has benefited its base while creating an ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots in America–a gulf that threatens the middle class as much as the poor and working poor.

In the last session prior to the summer vacation recess, the House of Representatives actually voted twice in six weeks to make major reductions in the already ludicrously low estate tax. The House has held three votes this past session on the estate tax, none on the minimum wage until the most recent bill, which passed the House solely on the lure of the estate tax reduction. Beyond the simple fact of numbers–how many people make minimum wage in America versus those impacted by the ever-decreasing estate tax–is what minimum wage *means* in America.

Minimum wage means automatic poverty. Minimum wage means a gross income of only $10,700 per year, a take home or net pay of under $8,000 after taxes. That is $6,000 below the poverty level. Most minimum wage earners also do not receive benefits--health care, sick leave, vacation time. This adds to the misery index for minimum wage earners. And with the minimum wage at its lowest buying power in 51 years, it means minimum wage earners are not just working poor, but belong to an increasingly permanent underclass of workers in America. Those workers are being kept in poverty by wealthy Republican members of Congress.

The Republican leadership in Washington (and many states) thinks this status quo is appropriate and have referred to “minimum wage hysteria,” putting the plight of the poorest working Americans dead last on their list of concerns, as evidenced by the most recent–sabotaged –vote.

For years Republicans have generated the myth that raising the minimum wage would somehow damage small businesses and take jobs away from teenagers. But only ten percent of minimum wage workers are teenagers; the overwhelming majority of minimum wage workers–not just fast-food outlet employees, but nurse’s aides, clerks, retail assistants, hotel staff–are adults, many of them attempting to support families on meager wages which fall well below the poverty level.

Nor does the old canard that raising the minimum wage damages small business fly: The majority of minimum wage workers are employed by corporations, among them the wealthiest in the nation, if not the world, Wal-Mart being a typical example. In reality, refusing to raise the minimum wage is yet another way the Republican-run Congress grants more benefits to its wealthy base. As Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) noted after the recent minimum-wage debacle, “It’s political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. Members of Congress raised their own pay–no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect.”

Apparently not. Apparently, as the sleazy inclusion of the estate tax exemption exemplifies, it is more important to give more tax breaks to Paris Hilton, who regularly pokes fun at hard-working people on her TV show *The Simple Life* than to actually pay those hard-working people a living wage.

The estate tax reduction has come to be known as the “Paris Hilton tax cut” because it benefits the very wealthy at the expense of the poor and working poor. In the last bill before Congress on the minimum wage, the Congressional Republican leadership planned to continue reductions in estate taxes so that the first $10 million of a couple’s estate or first $5 million of an individual’s estate would be totally free of taxes. This amounts to a tax break of $2.76 million for those receiving a $10 million inheritance.

In case those numbers aren’t clear enough, John Irons, director of tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress puts it succinctly: “An heir to a $10 million estate would get a tax break worth as much as 183 years of the income of a full-time minimum wage earner.”

And it’s not as if the rise in the minimum wage could be perceived as excessive. The increase of $2.10 per hour would only give the minimum wage worker an extra $1,200 per year–less than what they already lose to taxes.

Meanwhile, the Republican proposal would benefit only 8,200 people in America (as opposed to millions of minimum wage workers) and each stands to gain $1.3 million, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Many Americans think this battle between rich and poor won’t effect them if they aren’t minimum wage workers and don’t stand to inherit $10 million. But while the raise in minimum wage is paid for by corporations and businesses–the private sector that employs the worker and benefits from the work–the inheritance tax exemption is paid for by the government and thus by non-wealthy Americans and only benefits the wealthy while take services and money away from the average American.

The estate tax provision tacked onto the recent minimum wage bill–which Republicans plan to propose again in the fall--would drastically cut the government’s own income, adding to a deficit already at $300 billion. (Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid estimated it would increase the deficit to $1 trillion within a decade.) Government income derives from a range of taxes, but a significant amount is taken from inheritance taxes on the very rich. (Which is why many philanthropic Americans have protested the estate tax exemption, even though they would benefit from it. Among those arguing *against* the Paris Hilton exemption are the nation’s two wealthiest men, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, as well as several Rockefellers and Pillsbury's. But not Senate Majority Leader Frist.) As it stands now, without any additional cutting, the estate tax provision would slash government income by upwards of $76.1 billion each year.

Where will this deficit be felt? Most immediately it will be the working poor–the minimum wage earners and everyone else making below $15 per hour, or all those living at or below the poverty level–who will be most impacted by depletion of services such as Medicaid and food stamps.

But this is part of the Bush Administration’s economic strategy which the President claims is “growing the economy.”

Bush has long lauded his economic strategies as beneficial to the nation, and it is true that the economy overall has improved. The economy grew by 4.2 percent–a modest, but acceptable increase–in 2004. But while everyone should have seen the same increase, very few Americans have actually benefited from that boost in the economy. While the top one percent of Americans showed a net increase in wealth of more than 13 percent in 2004 alone, the other 99 percent of Americans showed a net increase of less than one percent–not even equal to the standard of living increase of three percent. Statistically, Americans–not just the poor minimum-wage earner, but middle-class Americans as well–are getting poorer.

Democrats plan to bring the minimum wage issue to the Congress again in the fall, just as Republicans plan to renew their calls for more estate tax repeals. It’s important that voters going to the polls in November remember who stands for what when it comes to the American people: wage increases that benefit millions individually and the economy as a whole, or tax benefits for the wealthy that benefit a few thousand and contribute to the mounting national debt and the poverty of millions of Americans. Voters have little influence over the war, but the Congress alone controls the minimum wage and estate tax exemptions. Republicans have vowed to fight any attempt at raising the minimum wage this year. One more reason to vote for Americans and against Republicans come November.

In response to, "(Senator Lincoln) Chafee (R-RI) must be up for re-election or something," Pat Thompson writes:

Yes, he is! You guessed right, and he is having difficulties.

In response to, "One wonders what planet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice landed from," Pat Thompson writes:

Her education, her specialty was the "Soviet Union", which ceased to exist over 15 years ago. She has obviously little knowledge of the Middle East, or diplomacy. She is totally under the spell of the man she referred to as "my husband" -- GWB. This is a sorry situation. Clinton didn't appoint Monica Lewinsky Secretary of State.

*Why whatever are you saying here, Pat? -NG

In response to, "As a Jew, I fear Mel Gibson," Pat Thompson writes:

As a humanist, I also fear Mel Gibson. That bit of bloody porn he passed off as religion, is truly dangerous. Jesus preached peace, but that movie will be responsible for new Crusades.
In response to, "I'm very sorry to hear that you are against gay rights--actually outright violently homophobic and standing beside Jerry Falwell on this issue. I'm sorry that you don't support plan b or ru486, both of which would prevent numerous abortions. I'm sorry you don't support a raise in the minimum wage. these are all things that Lieberman stands against--so if you stand with Lieberman, you stand against them as well," Rhian writes:

Hey hey hey. Hold on there. Can we please please please just once, Victoria, separate the insistence of gays on rights, from politics in general?

The Constitutional guarantee of rights covers everyone that is a citizen. As long as the citizenry keeps their judges on the up and up, then everyone's rights should be as intact as they can be, considering that there are enormous prejudices in the general populace.

Gay rights are no different than anyone else's rights. Or should be no different. We all are supposed to be equal before the law. Equal means equal doesn't it, not some more equal than others because they are gay?

Lieberman is a whack job. That's a given. But so are the rest of those bozo's in DC.

There is no person, politician or pope, doctor or judge, that can grant or not grant you or me or anyone any right. Our document of law, the Consitution, is what keeps the thugs in DC from interfering too much in your inherent rights.

. . . . . 'that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights. That are among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. . . . .Bill of Rights.

It does not track logically that one guy's opinion on Leiberman means that guy is homophobic, supports abortion or is against the minimum wage, unless he says so, or writes so, specifically.

And, it wouldn't hurt for everyone to understand that there is prejudice among the populace. There always has been and always will be, 'till the second coming of Christ. Some people are going to be homophobic and some will be uneasy with gay lifestyle. Some will not. Some people hate people who keep more than one dog. Some people are racist. Some are not.

Some people hate other people who keep cats. Men don't want women on construction sites. Even very highly qualified women. Some women in labor don't want a male RN anywhere near them. Some people in unions hate those who are non-union. Some non-smokers hate smokers. Teetotalers hate drunks. Repukes hate Libs. Libs detest Repukes.

The thing that is good in the world is that when one person, meets another person, they usually manage to be civil to each other. Even helpful. Too bad we can't all just be individuals and throw out all the alignment with groups. It was a sixties thing. More and more people introduce themselves as what they belong to, instead of just who they are.

I miss the sixties. : ) Hi, I'm Jane. (without announcement of affiliation)

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-Noah Greenberg