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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, August 21, 2006



"The need is urgent,"

"The international community must now designate the leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement and deploy it as quickly as possible to secure the peace,"
-President Bush, regarding the Israeli troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the fact that the EU and other NATO nations haven't offered any troops yet to go along with their cease-fire plan and internationally administered buffer zone

Finally, I agree with the president. All of these big mouth nations who insisted that Israel remove herself from Lebanon, and offered the solution (through the UN) of the buffer zone, have no problems talking the talk. Too bad they have no intention of walking the walk.

It's time for the nations of the world to act as the leaders they pretend to be. Germany, France, Russia and China certainly want their share of the global-corporate money pie, but how about a little global-responsibility, as well? It's time for the nations of the world to put up or shut up.

Left to their own devices, there is not a doubt in my mind that Israel could destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon. But at what cost? For every innocent Israeli killed (even though Iran and Syria consider there to be no "innocent" Israelis or Jews) there would be ten times that many innocent Lebanese dead. For every destroyed building in Israel there would be an obliterated village in Lebanon. The international force is needed to stop this from happening. It's the only answer.

Although I am an Israel supporter, I stated in earlier Madman's that there needs to be a force of this nature with real power in this new demilitarized zone:

"If you really want to stop Israel from attacking Lebanon and a Syria-Iran sanctioned Hezbollah from lofting bombs into Israel, there is a way. However, this way will put England, France, Germany and a host of other EU and NATO nations (including Russia and the US) squarely in harm's way. This force should also include China (to be a world leader, one has to act as a world leader).

"This plan would create a buffer zone inside of Lebanon stretching from the Israeli border 100 miles into Lebanon. Call it the Israeli-Lebanon DMZ.

"A similar zone (as compared to the 38th parallel between North and South Korea) in between Israel and Lebanon would offer even greater security IF, and only IF, all of the nations and organizations mentioned above were willing to put their money where there mouths are.

"Creating this zone as both a no-fly and buffer DMZ would prevent Hezbollah from firing their rockets into Israeli settlements and cities while, at the same time, preventing Israeli sorties into Lebanon for retaliation. There would have to be severe consequences for either side for their violations and the governments of Israel and Lebanon would bear the brunt of these consequences.

"One of two things need to happen in order for a plan like this to work: Either Lebanon has to put a leash on the terrorist organization, Hezbollah or Hezbollah needs to be completely destroyed. Any bombs or raids across the Israeli border have to be dealt with as treasonous acts by a Lebanese president and Prime Minister who, up until now, have been unwilling or unable to do so. Make no mistake, strong leaders make strong governments. Israel has them, Lebanon does not."
From Fixing It, Note from a Madman, www.nationalview.org\Newsletter06\newsletter_072506.htm

So far, I was encouraged, until I read on:

"The United States will do our part. The most effective contribution we can make at this time" is logistical support.

In other words, GW isn't going to allow the US to lead by sending troops into the buffer zone. He'd rather keep them in harm's way in Iraq, a nation that is now fighting a secular civil war where both sides view the US troops... these children of America... as the common enemy. If the US doesn't stand up, how will they expect the other nations of the world to do so?
And what happens, if and when this imaginary, international force actually does create and inhabit a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon, if Hezbollah attacks and Israel responds? Will they attack the aggressor? Will they attack he retaliator? What happens when France, a nation with a ten percent Muslim population, makes Hezbollah stop their bombing? How many cars will be burned in Paris' suburbs then?

The US must be the lead nation in the buffer zone. Maybe if GW pretends that there is oil there, he could justify the presence to his "base" of "haves and have mores".

-Noah Greenberg

For The Religious Righties

President John Adams: "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

The religious righties and their hero Dumbya should listen to this over and over. America was most certainly NOT founded as a Christian nation. The founders were purposely non-specific when it came to religion. They believed in God but didn't make any religion the official one; in fact, the constitution explicitly prohibits doing that!

-Robert Scardapane

A Kiss of Newt

It's the double kiss of death when Bush gives you a smack and then Newt Gingrich does as well!

Newt Gingrich, the Republican who once served as House speaker, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman's candidacy. . . . "The right thing for people who believe the world is deeply dangerous is to re-elect Lieberman," Mr. Gingrich said. That is especially true, he said, because "the Republican Party's own candidate does not have any possibility of winning."


Clearly, Joementum is the Republican candidate that has the backing of Rove, Bush, Cheney and Gingrich (noecons all!).

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

Lieberman: The GOP's Choice

"Facing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November.

"Despite Mr. Lieberman's position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party's nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war."
-Ann Kornblut in the New York Times

Okay, this is how I see the race. It's the Republican candidate Joe Lieberman versus the Democratic candidate Ned Lamont. The "other" candidate, Alan Schlesinger, will split the Republican vote! More and more Democrats and non-affliates are realizing the truth and are dumping Lieberman. Go Ned Lamont!


-Robert Scardapane


As ground workers at Northwest Airlines prepare for upcoming layoffs, many are considering career changes. And according to Northwest, some might even look into making a living on the professional dumpster-diving circuit.

No joke. Professional dumpster diving is one of the suggestions the airline offered workers in a special booklet and Web page called “Restructuring Q&A, Employee Support”—all to help workers prepare for the coming hard times, of course.

The booklet, mailed to some workers, includes the tempting section, “101 Ways to Save Money.” But a quick glance shows some of those suggestions are not so mouth-watering:

-Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.
-Move to a less expensive place to live.
-Trade down your car for a less expensive one.
-Use old newspapers for cat litter.
-Cut the kids hair yourself.
-Buy spare parts for your car at the junkyard.
-Take a shorter shower.

Oh good - pulling something out of the trash. Goodness, the crassness of these corporations is beyond believe. These are the same corporations that forced IT workers to train their replacements! It don't get more vulgar than that. Now why exactly do the Rethuglicans give them tax subsidies? I know the answer - they are crooks. Throw them out in 2006.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

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

It’s not news to anyone who has been living through it that the summer of 2006 has been one of the hottest on record. Hundreds died as temperatures in the triple digits blanketed the nation. There have been both punishing droughts and record rainfalls caused by stalled heat systems. Power outages have increased the misery index from California to New York. For a full week this summer the lights on the Empire State Building–one of the nation’s major landmarks-- were turned off to conserve energy due to repeated blackouts throughout New York. In Philadelphia, thunderstorms brought on by the aggressive heat whipped up winds over 60 miles an hour and cascades of penny-sized hail fell on the city. The storms brought down power lines and caused power outages that lasted in some places for as long as a week, with people trying to cope without air-conditioning and refrigeration.

The same story was repeated across the country in city after city. And while it was happening scientists were warning, as they have been for more than a decade, that global warming is killing the planet. The people who died this summer from the heat were victims of global warming, but they were not the only ones.

It has been a year since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, destroying several cities, including New Orleans. More than 1,200 people were killed and 1.5 million displaced in New Orleans alone last August–the same number of deaths and displacements as occurred recently in Lebanon during the war between Israel and Hezbollah. But the deaths in the Gulf were not caused by bombs, tanks, rockets and war. They were caused by global warming. But just as war is man-made, so is global warming.

As we all suffer through yet another debilitating summer, we continue to ignore the obvious. As we remember the grim anniversary of Katrina with all its vivid and horrifying images of houses smashed to kindling, cars and boats overturns and crushed, miles of flooded streets with only rooftops visible and desperate, suffering people screaming for help as if it were indeed a war-torn town in a Third World country incapable of helping its own people, we somehow ignore the grimmest fact of all: Global warming created Katrina.

A year has passed and virtually no rebuilding of one of the most beautiful and unique cities in America has occurred. Part of rebuilding is preventative–forestalling another Katrina and its aftermath. Yet since Katrina there hasn’t been a single initiative to slow the intensity of global warming and its destructive capabilities.

What is global warming? It’s the heating of the planet beyond its natural temperature by humans. The major causes of global warming are the same things that cause pollution: engine exhaust, factory emissions, lawnmowers, the excess energy released from everything from light bulbs to microwave ovens. Each of us contributes to global warming, some of us more than others.

What does global warming do? It heats everything up, causing a plethora of disasters from droughts to floods, tornadoes to hurricanes. Put ice in a glass in winter and leave it on your table and it will take hours to melt. Put that same glass of ice on a table in summer and it takes mere minutes to melt. The planet is now that glass in summer, not winter. Overload the glass with ice and if it’s cold, only a few drops will hit the table. But if it’s hot and all the ice melts, a lot of water will spill over onto the table. At the top of the world the ice is melting and it’s spilling over onto the land across the world, altering the sea levels. If global warming continues at its current rate, most of the major cities in America–New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans–will be underwater within 50 years as if a giant tsunami hit every coastline in the country.

At present events throughout the world mimic Katrina, but most of them involve people we don’t know, like Pacific Islanders whose coastal island homes are being subsumed by the rising sea levels or Inuits and Native Americans who live in Alaska where the ice on which they live is melting, destroying both their homes and their means of livelihood.

Some changes wrought by global warming involve animals, and unfortunately, we don’t really register the pain and suffering of animals the way we register our own. But consider this: In the Arctic right now the polar bear population is experiencing what the people of New Orleans experienced last August. Polar bears need to be able to walk across the ice to get to the ocean to kill the seals that are their only food source. But the ice is melting due to global warming–melting at a rate that is exponential compared to just a decade ago and they can’t swim far enough to get food.

So imagine the polar bears like the people of New Orleans–their homes flooded, no food, starving, suffering, terrified, dying–no one to help them. It’s estimated that if global warming continues at its current rate, polar bears will be extinct in a decade.

So who cares about polar bears? Sure, they’re cute on Christmas cards, but does it matter if they suffer immeasurably and then die out?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter to most people if polar bears become extinct. But what about people? Because the polar bears are an advance warning of what the rest of us will experience if a concerted effort isn’t made to slow the speed of global warming. It’s too late to *stop* global warming, but if we don’t all work right now to slow its progression, we will be the polar bears in 20 years.

Many want to pretend global warming is a myth. Others simply think it won’t effect them (no doubt that’s what many of the citizens of New Orleans thought, too). Some may think that this is just one hot summer and Katrina was just one hurricane. But this summer and that hurricane are actually indicative of the speed with which global warming is progressing.

American summers are hot, particularly in July and August. But it isn’t just the summers that are hot any more. I am old enough to remember when January was the coldest month and April was chilly because it was Spring. Like much of the nation, Philadelphia used to have four seasons; now we have two and a half. The winters are shorter and milder, spring is non-existent, fall is very short and summer is now not three months, but five.

So the winters are milder? Who doesn’t want a milder winter with less snow and higher temperatures? Better for the heating bills and driving, right? Wrong. The snow feeds the springs that provide water for the cities and towns throughout the country. When we don’t have snow, we don’t have ice melt and when we don’t have ice melt we don’t have water and when we don’t have water, we die.

The diminishing of springtime is also dangerous. Spring is when the earth begins its regeneration–the foliage starts to emerge, flowers start to bloom, plants get pollinated and our food begins to grow for another year. Except Spring now begins in January along the East Coast–for the past ten years there have been the warmest Januaries in recorded history. The reason this is a problem is that the bees that pollinate the plants that grow our food are still in hibernation. While your flower bed might be fooled into thinking it’s actually Spring in January, the bees know better. They know their own lifespan and they don’t come out until early April. But by then it’s too late because it’s already summer and the pollination time has passed. No food this year.

The short winters and non-existent springs cause other disasters, like summer wild fires. This summer was the worst fire season on record–from the West Coast to the Pacific Northwest to the Plains states to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, wildfires raged fueled by global warming.

When the winters are shortened and the ice melt occurs too early, the mountain ranges where trees that keep the oxygen flowing for the planet live get dry too early and begin to catch fire when lightning strikes the dry brush. The fires themselves cause their own weather system, heating the surrounding area and causing even more fires and increasing the temperature in the region where the fires rage.
Still think global warming doesn’t matter to you?

Think about Katrina. I used to live in New Orleans and many of my friends still live there. Katrina was a direct result of global warming. When the oceans get too warm, hurricanes are spawned; the higher the heat, the greater the intensity of the hurricane. Right now typhoons–a variation on the hurricane system–are devastating Southeast Asia, China and even Ethiopia, all of which are experiencing floods like those that decimated New Orleans.

And as we have seen in the aftermath of Katrina, there will be no one to help rebuild–not for individuals, not for communities and not for great cities like New Orleans. Last week the insurance companies of America decided that they could not pay for the flood damage done by Katrina, leaving millions with no recourse for rebuilding their homes, leaving them destitute once again.

Katrina serves as a warning to us all. In the disasters wrought by global warming, we will be on our own, just like the polar bears.

A novel written by American Nobel Prize-winner Ernest Hemingway several decades ago called *The Snows of Kilimanjaro* was a paean to the mountainous peak in Kenya that has captivated the imaginations of writers and travelers for centuries. But like the polar bears, due to global warming, the snows are nearly gone and will be within a decade. Extinct, except in Hemingway’s title.

Africa is becoming a land of non-stop drought and famine, due to global warming and deforestation. When we cut down trees, we leave nothing to hold in the water that feeds the planet. Trees help cleanse the air of carbon dioxide, essentially providing us with oxygen. In places where trees have been completely removed, desert takes over and drought follows; there is nothing to help create condensation and the rain that provides the water that feeds the soil that grows the plants that we live on.

And we die.

In Africa, drought causes the deaths of hundreds of thousands each year.

The same thing is beginning to happen in South America in Peru, Uruguay, Guatemala and Argentina where the problem of early snow melt is impacting the mountain ranges and previously fertile growing seasons. And people are dying from starvation, because they can’t grow enough to survive.

In the American Southwest and Midwest, drought has eclipsed the growing seasons for several years now, impacting not only the livelihood of thousands of workers, but also radically effecting the price of produce. This summer–2006–is the worst so far.

A majority of people in rural Africa and South America are subsistence farmers; without water nothing can grow and they simply starve. While the situation is not as dire here in the U.S.–yet–there are still millions of workers dependent on farming for their livelihood.

Thus the impact of global warming, whether in a catastrophic disaster like Katrina or in the loss of jobs and consistent rise in the cost of all food, touches all of us, not just the dying polar bears.
Global warming is the most important political issue of our time–more important even than health care and the war; without a planet, we can’t survive.
The U.S. is the largest contributor to global warming in the world. Although the U.S. represents only five percent of the world’s population, we produce more than half of the world’s emissions from cars and factories and just our own everyday appliances.

Republicans in Congress and in the Bush Administration, all of whom represent big business and corporate interests, have repetitively denied the reality of global warming. They have tried to find scientists to agree with them, but have been unsuccessful. Just as they have tried to perpetuate the myth of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they attempt to perpetuate the myth that global warming isn’t that terrible.

But even some of their own supporters have come to recognize the perils of global warming. Staunch conservatives like former Republican presidential candidate Rev. Pat Robertson have begun to talk about global warming and its dangers. Sen. James Inhofe (OK-R) and Sen. Conrad Burns (MT- R) are both on record saying that if Republicans maintain their current majority after the November election, they will ensure that *nothing* is done to address global warming. (Inhofe has said that “man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” while Burns has said, “You remember the ice age? It’s been warming ever since, and there ain’t nothing we can do to stop it.”)

Except both Inhofe and Burns are wrong–dangerously wrong.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the first six months of 2006 were the warmest ever recorded in the U. S. Over the course of the past three months, more than 50 U.S. cities–including Philadelphia–have had record high temperatures.

When former Vice President Al Gore was in Philadelphia last month talking about global warming and signing copies of his book on the subject, *An Inconvenient Truth,* he noted in his speech in Center City: of the 21 hottest years ever measured, 20 have occurred in the last 25 years. Until this year, last year was the hottest on record. Until last year, the year before was the hottest.

Sen. Inhofe is dead wrong: global warming is no hoax. Burns is also wrong–we *can* do something to stop it, and if we don’t, we will all be like the polar bears in the Arctic or the people of New Orleans last summer. Global warming is a dire reality. Talk to anyone who lived through Katrina and its aftermath–do you want to risk more of the same? The next big hurricane is predicted to hit the East Coast.

Beyond voting for candidates who support global warming initiatives which could save much of the planet, there are things each of us can do to help conserve energy and thus reduce emissions.

Driving fuel efficient vehicles is essential. Not only does it save money on exorbitant gas prices, but it saves the environment for our children and grandchildren. Carpool whenever possible or take public transportation.

Recycle. It’s the law in Philadelphia, but not well-enforced. The city must be more proactive in this area.

Unplug appliances you are not using. If every household did this, it would have the same effect as taking a million cars off the road. Not only will you save on your electric bill, but you save the environment. So-called “vampire appliances” leach energy from your outlets. Turn your computer off, don’t put it on stand-by. Unplug microwaves, coffee makers, VCRs, DVD players–anything you aren’t using that has a clock or timer. That is running–running up your bill and running up the emissions in the environment.

When your light bulbs blow, replace them with energy saving bulbs. Yes they are more expensive initially, but you don’t have to replace them for at least a year, some for as long as ten years. The savings to you and the environment are huge.

Whenever possible use recycled products: paper for your kids’ school notebooks (Staples, Wal-Mart and other stores all carry recycled paper products and they look just like non-recycled products), toilet paper (don’t worry–it’s clean and cheap), tissues, paper towels.

Do your best to cut down on the waste you produce in papers, cans, bottles and things that cannot be recycled.

Educate yourselves, your children and your friends about the effects of global warming (tell them about Katrina and the polar bears) and what they can do to help.

In November, vote for candidates who are pledged to working to slow global warming.

Global warming effects all of us and each of us can do something to help save the planet for ourselves, our children and our future. It may be too late for the polar bears, but it’s not too late.

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-Noah Greenberg