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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Standing Up

"When they stand up, we'll stand down,"
-President Bush, setting the "timetable in his mind" for US troop removals from Iraq

What President Bush doesn't seem to realize is that they, the Iraqi government and its people, won't stand up UNTIL we stand down. You can relate Iraq to an adult child who won't leave home: Sometimes you have to kick him out.

At best, we are now nothing more than Iraq's "Tough, Big Brother". When things get tough, they always have the option of saying, "Beat up the bully for us." But when we go and look for the "bully", he is nowhere to be found.

But enough of the imagery. The Iraqi government will never take responsibility for their own protection as long as they have us there to do it for them. And left to their own devices, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would rather rule using the "Iron Fist" method, shich include the use of death squads as opposed to diplomacy.

Just what will happen when (if?) we leave Iraq? Well, since they are already in the throes of a civil war, set along sectarian lines, how much more harm do you think will be done? Just this past July, an average of 110 Iraqi civilians lost their lives in this sectarian violence each and every day. It appears to be getting even worse today

There can be no doubt that the presence of foreign troops, made up mostly of American forces, is disturbing to the people of iraq. They are no longer greeting us as "liberators", as Vice President Dick Cheney suggested in the Bush administration's selling of the war. Likewise, they are not throwing flowers at our feet. Instead, our young troops have to dodge bullets and are left dead or seriously wounded by IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) and EIED's (the Enhanced version of the IED).

Most of the attacks are perpetrated by the Sunni insurgency. There is real hate and distrust between the Sunni minority and the Shi'ite majority. The Shi'ites, who are now charged with creating Iraq's future are looked upon by the Sunni's as exclusionary. At the same time many feel that the Shi'ites are taking revenge upon the Sunni's for the atrocities of Saddam's Ba'ath party.

Our continued presence in Iraq will not make the two sides negotiate with each other. As long as leaders of both parties have the US to blame for their problems, the attacks will go on. If we leave, and it doesn't have to be today, but the sooner the better, the sides will be forced to negotiate a peace between themselves. This peace may even lead to the creation of three autonomous regions in Iraq, as many have recommended. But no matter how one speculates, there no longer can be any doubt that nothing will get done while "Big Brother America" still casts his shadow over Iraq.

Is it possible and even recommended that the US stay geographically close to Iraq, just in case. The Kurds, already in an autonomous region in Northern Iraq, which many are already calling Kurdistan, would welcome a Full-Time United States military base in their territory. They are our allies and would welcome the protection. We'd be able to call an air-strike, just in case one side or the other were to get out of hand; and we'd be able to re-invade with troops, when (if?) necessary. We'd even be able to keep our military eyes on other nations in the region. Performing these same tasks from an "Uber-Mission" from deep within Baghdad is a huge mistake for a number of reasons, not the leas tof which being the wasted resources we'd have to provide just to protect ourselves. As it stands now, even the "safe" Green Zone isn't all that "safe".

The Iraqi government needs to start governing and the Iraqi police needd to start policing. and this needs to be done without the shadow of "Big Brother America" looming over them.

-Noah Greenberg

The Fence

The issue that crosses party lines is immigration reform. It might be the only one. It's an issue that the Bush administration and the GOP have attempted to steal as their own on many occasions. But there was a problem. You see, there were many REPUBLICANS who didn't approve of the president's plan to allow cheap labor to come across the border during the day, then allow them to go back home in the evening. Many in both the House and Senate couldn't figure out which side they were on and, as a result, immigration refprm became a hot potato. So, the GOP, instead of attempting to debate the issue on their respective floors of Congress, decided that the issue should be tabled, thus ignored.


The Senate and the House, both controlled by the GOP couldn't come up with a compromice plan. But somewhere along the line, some GOP pollster, somewhere, must have took a poll that said the GOP faithful wanted a fence between the US and Mexico. It's the GOP way of saying that we're tough on illegal immigrants, without really solving the issue. Today Bush signed a bill that would build a fence in various areas along the US-Mexico border to help secure the lower-48. Of course, in standard Bush-like fashion, there is no way to pay for this fence yet.

The fence is "an important step toward immigration reform."

The fence is a step toward keeping illegal immigrants out and forcing them to use legal means to enter the US. It is not any measure toward fixing the problem of between 11 and 25 million illegal immigrants who are working in the US right now.

Bush must be going after the Minute-Man vote.

It would cost billions of dollars for the Bushies to declare war on illegal immigrants. After all, the president wants to allow some to stay while others would be forced to leave if they didn't qualify under his proposed plan of amnesty (yes, it is amnesty). How much money and how many INS officers do you think it will take to remove some 10 million illegal immigrants from within our borders?

Worse still, it would cost the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" their cheap, almost slave-like labor that they use to raise their children, pick their crops and work in their sweatshops. The Bush market-based economy is open to the use of forced labor and they won't close that door.

"We have a responsibility to enforce our laws. We have a responsibility to secure our borders."

And now that a strategic mid-term election is just about here, immigration reform is Bush's "October Surprise" with which he hopes to change the domestic dialogue to make us real Americans forget about the failures in Iraq; the failures in Afghanistan; the International hatred of America and Americans by our European allies; an economy which only benefits the very wealthy Bush "base" of "have and have mores"; and a non existent health care system which alienates more Americans each and every day.

Bush using immigrants as cannon fodder in a border-crossing war is less of a surprise than it is a disappointment. Real immigration reform comes in working with our neighbor to the south. and getting their input on how to stop the exodus from the border. However, we all know that Bush doesn't work well with others unless they already agree with him or simply acquiesce.

As I write this I wonder if the Bush plan to start a temporary immigration conversation will be enough to divert the American mind from all of the other failures making headlines in the various newspapers and taking the time on the Cable News Channels. You'll have to watch Fox News to find out. I guess. So far, today, all I've seen on Fox is a California fire. I guess the marching orders haven't been handed out from Karl "The Traitor" Rove's office yet.

Bush's signing of a non-funded 700 mile, divided fence is nothing more than another of this administration's WMD's (Weapons of Mass Distraction) leading into the mid-term elections in less than two weeks.

To quote Victoria Brownworth: Stay Tuned

-Noah Greenberg

"IN" vs. "IS"

Lynn, I like what you wrote. I am somewhat concerned about how your words and the UCC statement would be viewed by some of the writers who have expressed deep resentment of, or disbelief in, a God that could have permitted the slaughter of the young Amish girls. My own anguish--and theirs, too, of course--extends to what may be as many as 655,000 innocents killed in Iraq, our 2,800 dead troops, and those killed in Darfur, Rwanda, and everywhere from the beginning of time, although that does not diminish the tragedy of the murder of these schoolgirls. The problem is that answers to the existence of evil are so various world-wide, even within Judaeo-Christian theology, and all seem to lack some capstone that could make them entirely convincing. They are abstruse concepts, too, like the trinity, that can easily be misunderstood and twisted--as the trinity is often misunderstood as polytheism.

I have no final answers, but I do have hope. Everything I've experienced leads me toward panentheism (God IN everything) and away from pantheism (God IS everything). The words are unfortunately similar and require careful definition. Many of the angonized words written after the Amish tragedy seem to be from persons--even ones calling themselves agnostics--who view God from within the confines of the pantheist box. (Not so surprising after 35 years of "New Age" books that contain vastly oversimplified, dogmatic versions of "pop Eastern mysticism." For too many years New Age has promulgated a vague sort of pantheism or pseudo-pantheism.)

The writers who shun God are correct to perceive that if God were a pantheist deity there would be no point in protesting any wrong. It would even be rebellious, because dissent would be a protest against some manifestation of God. Understanding the need for an ethic of good works, many of them claim that God does not exist, and they are right to deny the existence of that perception of "God". The near-nihilist rage of some of these writers are the screams of exceptionally caring and sensitive persons, whom the God of Love must especially hold dear. I appreciate Stephen Spiro telling them that.

What the angry writers don't see is that theirs isn't the only way to understand God or evil. My own theology is based on Neoplatonism, Augustine, and Process Philosophy: that God ultimately permeates every aspect of matter-energy, space-time, sentient-insentient--and over evolutionary time enters, fills and exalts each to the spiritual dimension. But parts of Creation--like a stone in one of my flower-pots--may not have begun this evolution, or just barely. Others are awakening but are not yet completely ensouled, although some of the Becoming may have achieved a spiritual state close to Being. Still others may have already merged with God. At least I hope that myriads of souls, perhaps born in early-formed galaxies now faded out of physical existence (or even previous universes), have reached the stage of ultimate Oneness. Here on earth it seems that few humans have ever come close. Human consciousness has emerged out of the black hole of non-awareness recently. We are a young species, still on the lower rungs of the ladder, so to speak. Climbing higher toward Being is hard effort; backsliding is easy. I truly believe that God understands our bewildered babyhood, empathizes, is patient, but, out of Love, urges us to keep our eyes on the prize. In the words of my dear 14th century friend, Juliane of Norwich:

In my visions, Love was the meaning.
Who showed them to me?
What was shown?
Why were they shown?
For Love.
All this we shall see in God
for ever and ever.

-Jenny Hanniver

In response to Jenny Hanniver's "Michael J. Fox" and "Scientists don't like repression," David W. writes:

You'd think so ... and yet, Reagan wasn't just elected by a bunch of old farts still resentful about that Civil Rights Act of 1964. There were young people eating up the crap he was spewing.

The thinking behind the Michael J. Fox character on that show (I can't remember the name either) is that kids are supposedly rebel against their parents. So the kids of the 60's supposedly rebelled against their parents values, ergo the kids of liberals will rebel against their parents values. I don't know about that.

I think what happened is that the kids of the liberals of the 60's grew up largely spoiled and pampered in ways their parents never were--so of course they were sucked by the lies of Reagan.

I grew up during the Cold War. In grade school, we had drills that had us hiding beneath our desks, in case of a nuclear attack. And Vietnam ... man I remember the days when every guy who could maintain a "C" average, made sure his ass was in a college taking basket weaving classes so he could avoid getting drafted.

Today's kids are repeating the same behavior of the early days of 'Nam, when it was "only" a small volunteer force doing the fighting (and dying) in 'Nam while the kids from the better classes got to stay home, or go to college and leave the dying to them.

Once Johnson instituted The Draft, that's when public opinion began to turn against the war. Suddenly the campus kids who had been so Pro-War started changing their minds when it started to look like THEY might be called upon to make some sacrifice.


Ah yes, those were the days...

When all it took was the significant chance of a Selective Service lottery sending you on a fun filled tour of Vietnam and thousands of draft age men began to look up the phrase, "Imperial War Policy" because it just acquired meaning in their life.

But, back to Jenny's observation.... Regarding "xeno-genesis" the birth of something alien from what had come before.

Among the things that shaped the generation that came of age during Vietnam was that for most of America there were only about 5 or 6 TV channels and most, if not all, of them signed off before midnight. Video games hadn't been invented yet As a result, more kids READ back then. The age of voting was 21, which meant that you could be Drafted and sent to die before you even had a chance to participate in democracy yourself. As a result, kids being shuffled off to 'Nam were mad as hell they couldn't vote and when they did get the right..... They used it!

Today with cable TV, there's not only something on 24/7 but depending on the channel you select, you can safely isolate yourself from reality or at least what the corporate news media passes off as reality these days.

I was on a worksite the Saturday that Reagan died. i was there with my republican boss and my other very republican coworker. on the way home that afternoon, I heard on my NPR station that Reagan had died. Next day, Sunday, we met again to finish up the job, and I mentioned that Reagan had died, and both those people were shocked--they hadn't heard. They had hopped into their cars, played CDs, gone home, watched whatever cable station they did that didn't have a 6 O'clock or 11 O'clock news and gone to bed.

Kids today have way more distractions than we ever did. Cable TV, DVDs and video games make it next to impossible for them to find the time or place to actually read anything even if they find the presence of mind to want to try.

I think the character or Alex Keaton (played by Michael J. Fox on "Family Ties") wasn't too far off the mark. The kids of 60's Liberals were growing up way more comfortable than their parents did. Even if their parents weren't as comfortably well off as TV families (except for Roseanne) tend to be. Just as kids of the 50's had it way easier than their Depression Era parents did--which makes it hard to relate sometimes. "Teach, your children well. Their fathers Hell, did slowly go by." Pretty much all the things that Alex Keaton's parents had fought for were the things that Alex had as a birth right. It was like air to him, it's nice and its necessary but you hardly notice it until it disappears.

So for the record, kids of Liberal parents, trashing all that their folks valued ... not too far fetched although not as comically scripted as TV would have us believe.

Time for me to take my meds.

-David W.

And these forwarded by David W. as well:

"I don't know where Limbaugh got the idea that telling scurrilous lies about one of America's favorite celebrities -- and someone who enjoys a huge amount of public sympathy to boot -- was a shrewd political move. But the Dems should be damned glad he did. Rush may have just booted away Missouri's Republican Senate seat."
-from billmon

(Note: Missouri is the vulgar Pigboy's home state.)

Why I hate people with Parkinson's
Vulgar Pigboy says Michael J Fox is faking it

Rush Limbaugh attacked Michael J. Foxi, suggesting Fox was "acting" in a commercial where he's shown shaking while endorsing the importance of stem cell research.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act...This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."
-Rush the vulgar Pigboy, also known as "Ann Coulter with a penis"

Those Parkinsons disease people are always faking it.
Same for those with MS, always pretending they're disabled.
The people dying from cancer? Same thing - they're all lying.

If only everyone could be as honest as the Oxycontin child molester.
Gee, Rush - if only you had Parkinsons.
Then you could show us how easy it is to control.

Wait, Muhammad Ali has Parkinson's, righty?
Maybe Ali would like to explain it to Rush, personally?

"When you see someone with those movements, it's not because they have not taken medication but because they probably have taken medication for some time. If you don't take the medication, then you freeze."
the National Parkinson Foundation

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-Noah Greenberg