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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, October 30, 2006


Little Tommy's Ad

"Tom Kean, Jr. An Independent reformer."
-From Kean (JUNIOR'S) newest television ad

Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought tahat Kean JUNIOR was actually an INDEPENDENT candidate to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate.

He isn't.

Not once in that whole thirty second (or so) campaign ad does Kean or the announcer (or even his two little girls who said "and I approve this message") is the fact that KEAN JUNIOR IS A MEMBER OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Let me say that again, just as a reminder: Not once does the ad mention that THOMAS KEAN JUNIOR is a REPUBLICAN.

No matter what this JUNIOR says, if elected he would be siding with that same REPUBLICAN MAJORITY in the Senate which has helped President Bush all but destroy the American middle class; keep our troops figting and dying in Iraq; and created the largest budget deficit in the history i=of the United States (inflation adjusted, of course).

If you know any RISC's (REPUBLICANS In Search of a Candidate), please feel free to point them to Len Flynn, the New Jersey's Libertarian party candidate for US Senate. Then, at least, your GOP friends wouldn't have to consider themselves hypocrites...


-Noah Greenberg

Pulling a "Boehner"

"I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing that's happened to the Pentagon in 25 years. This Pentagon and our military needs a transformation. And I think Donald Rumsfeld's the only man in America who knows where the bodies are buried..."
-House Majority Leader John Boehner (REPUBLICAN-OH)

You know... I think old-"Boner-Boy" has got something there. It's obvious to me that "Rummy" knows where the bodied are buried: He killed most of them.

A military works best when it trusts its leaders and that is something Rumsfeld has refused to do. When such REAL CONSERVATIVES like George Will say that Rumsfeld ought to go; and every single REPUBLICAN looking to keep their seat or with a slim shot at gaining a seat, is saying that the embittered Secretary of War (err... Defense) ought to be sacked, one would think that the president would listen.

There are lots of wacky quotable remarks coming out of the Right-Red side of the aisle lately. But Boehner's statement praising Rumsfeld is the single most out of touch statement I have heard so far.

"Mr. Boehner's statement that Secretary Rumsfeld is the 'best thing to happen to the Pentagon in 25 years' shows just how out of touch he is.
"Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush sent our troops to Iraq without the equipment they needed and without a plan to complete our mission. Our troops deserved far better.
"Americans concerned by the obvious failures of President Bush's Iraq policy, Secretary Rumsfeld's obvious incompetence, the rapidly increasing numbers of U.S. causalities, and the escalating levels of sectarian violence want a new direction in Iraq."
-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (DEMOCRAT-CA)

"We have no choice but to win in Iraq, and all the Democrats want to do is just give up and bring the troops home. That's not what the American people want."

Well maybe in your little slice of ultra-rural, ultra-red right-on-the-western-border Ohio (US congressional district OH-8) the people don't want to bring the troops home anytime soon, but here in the real America, where the predominant color is purple (like the "mountains majesty"), we want the troops, our American children, to come home. and now would suit us just fine.

"Leaders" like Boehner play to the fears and "gullibilities" Okay - I made up a word) of their constituents to say that these are stupid people because I believe that they are not. What they are, however, are a constituencey taught from the time they're able to think that there is only one way to think. The close-mindedness of Boehner's majority have closed the door to things like embryonic stem cell research, which has the potential to save and enhance millions, if not billions of lives in the future.

So go ahead and vote for John Boehner, Western Ohio. Keep on voting against your own self interests. And when the big farm corporations come to take away your family's legacy, don't come a-runnin' to me.

-Noah Greenberg

A Big "BOOM!"

The Pakistan government blew up a Madras (A School of Hate) in Pakistan killing all but three in the building.

"The government has launched an attack during the night, which is against Islam and the traditions of the area,"
-Siraj ul-Haq, a Cabinet minister from the North West Frontier Province

So. just to get the record straight, it was "okay" for al-Qaeda and Osama bin-Laden to use jets as missiles and kill 2,973 people who just wanted to go to work because it happened during the day? let me tell the cabinet minister, who said he would resign "in protest" something - We have innocent people here too, We have fatherless and motherless children here too, we have sorrow and anger here too.

"We heard helicopters flying in and then heard bombs. We were all saddened by what we have seen."
-Villager Haji Youssef

Being in New York City on September 11, 2001 wasn't exactly a pcnic here, Mr. Youssef. And to see the pictures of those celebrating the mass murder of my fellow Americans and many, many foreigners working at the World Trade Center "saddened" all of us here in the western world, as well.

If it is true that this was a school intent on teaching how to kill and when to kill Americans, then I couldn't be happier that it was bombed and just about everybody in there was killed. I'm only sorry that Ayman al-Zawahri's deputy, Faqir Mohammed had left the building prior to the raid.

What I'd like to know is if this is the beginning of a series of October Surprises designed to show the people of America that the Bush administration and their allies are not asleep at the wheel.

Already we have heard that there will be a verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein just two days before election day. (WOW! What a coincidence!) Now we have a raid that killed as many as 80 al-Qaeda terrorists by our allies the Pakistani's.

Maybe we should hold an election every week. That way the Bushies will get something done.

Although the Pakistan government, led by General Pervez Musharraf, said that President bush had nothing to do with the raid, the bad guys (al-Qaeda) think differently.

We were peaceful, but the government attacked and killed our innocent people on orders from America,"
-Mohammed, in a rally and surrounded by demonstrators with automatic weapons

Sounds "peaceful" to me. How about you?

Being taught how to kill Americans just because they are Americans doesn't really sound all that peaceful to me, Mohammed.

-Noah Greenberg

"Green" is a Dangerous Color

A long time ago, early 1990s as I recall--years before Ralph Nader spread his web of lies about Al Gore and neatly handed the 2000 election to Bush--NATION had a terrific article about the destructive activities of the Greens in the Southwest US. It might have been a whole issue. For decades this used to be a reliably Dem (and liberal) part of the country. Since the early 1990s, even before in some places, the Republigoons took over most offices, state and federal, in NM, AZ, CO, etc. and have had a chance to build up screaming militias and propagandize their pet anti-immigrant, anti-gay, pro-imperialism, pro-war, anti-women, pro-phony religion formula. Because of this, the worst elements of the GOP were able to change the balance of power in the US Congress.

How did the SW states become red states? According to that article, it was due ENTIRELY to the Greens! In most races there was no significant difference between the Green and Dem candidates' stands on issues. The author showed that the Greens ran some candidates who were to the right of the Dems socially and/or environmentally--although they tried to pretend otherwise. In close elections against clearly liberal and honest Democrats, would the Green candidate cooperate and resign, so Greens could vote Dem? No! Arrogantly they ran against liberal Democrats, exaggerated differences, told lies, until Dem control of that entire region was lost. The article writer concluded that building up state "grass roots" for the Green Party, not supporting liberal issues, had become the only real goal of state Green parties.

This "end justifies the means" and "win at all cost" tendency is probably one of the reasons why Greens no longer win important victories in European elections--plus their clueless and inept legislation. They used to have significant numbers of national legislators. By 2006, in most European countries they have faded and dwindled almost to nothing. We in Pennsylvania have read that 100% of the financing for the 2006 Green gubernatorial candidate has been furnished by rich Repubs. Too true! I'd bet that 90% of the Green party candidates nationwide are funded by the GOP and that they and their state party leaders are either too dumb, too naive, or too crooked to turn down the support. In any of these cases, I don't want people like that representing me!

I had first-hand knowledge of the Green Slime (as we called it) in 2004. In 2004 the Philly GOP paid signature collectors who turned in page after page of petition signatures, with the goal of getting the Green presidential candidate on the Philadelphia County ballot. For several weeks I worked on rotation as a volunteer paralegal for the lawyer who was pleading for the Democrats that a significant number of these signatures were phony. Just looking at them proved it--illegible writing, same handwriting page after page, false addresses (or the same address over and over), fake names (even "Mickey Mouse"!), incomplete addresses. I got madder and madder, volunteered more and more often, worked harder and harder, and was delighted when most of these petitions were tossed out and the Green candidate was deleted from the official ballot.

If the Dems fail to win Congress this time it will almost certainly be because of GOP tricks. Even so, to clean the DemaGOPs out, we may need to consider another party--or better, a reformed ("re-formed") Democratic Party--just as the abolitionist Republicans who gave our country Lincoln arose out of the ashes of the moribund, morally bankrupt Whigs and abolitionist Democrats. Americans--especially left liberals--are catching on to the sneaky tactics of the Greens. In the meantime I don't care if someone sends me Green propaganda via email. The way I feel about them I would hardly ever pass it on. I got the one entitled "Active-Duty Troops Opposing War in Iraq" from several people, but it was old news. And why would I want to forward a message--even if the one who wrote it is totally innocent about the GOP-Green collusion--that propagandizes for a party which winks at corruption and tacitly permits the GOP to destroy liberty and justice?

-Jenny Hanniver

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

As the clock ticks out on the mid-term elections, the tube is rife with non-stop political ads, TV talk shows discussing the up-coming elections, late night comedians joking about the elections, impromptu press conferences by the President and Secretary of Defense and series like *Law&Order,* *Boston Legal* and *The Simpson's* that have saved their most dramatic and satiric commentary on the State of the Union for this week’s airing.

So it’s all elections, all the time.

Which, in a democracy, a week before one of *the* most important elections in recent years, is how it should be.

*Nightline* did its part, devoting it’s October 27th newscast to the Dixie Chicks and the new documentary about them, *Shut Up and Sing* as well as its October 30th episode to the attack by American soldiers on unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha, a scandal that is currently under investigation by the Pentagon and in which several soldiers have been charged in the grisly wartime murders.

Both pieces put the Bush Administration’s war policy–whatever it is this week–front and center. The Dixie Chicks, the best-selling girl band in the history of American music, went through an auto da fe a few years ago when their lead singer stated impromptu at a concert that she was ashamed that Bush came from Texas.

The group was promptly pilloried–their CDs were burned, country stations refused to play them while more left-leaning stations that had never played them did so. Their sales fell off dramatically. The always non-ideological group known for singing about love gone wrong and other country music staples, had become politicized by free speech.

The group still opposes the war, still thinks Bush is a “dumb [bleep]”, as one member said in their dressing room after the President commented on their comments, but the nation has come around to their way of thinking. There are still protests at their concerts, but they have slowly regained the support of their audience.

As for the Haditha massacre, that horror was laid out in graphic, CSI-style revolting detail by *Nightline.* Expect to see more on this dark side of the war in the coming days as the election draws closer. What’s clear to the media and the nation, if not to the Bush Administration is “It’s the war, stupid.”

The right is still trying to deflect attention away from the war by focusing on ideologies, of course. Rush Limbaugh created a furor with his attacks on Michael J. Fox last week. Fox has been doing political ads for candidates who support stem cell research. Limbaugh accused Fox of exaggerating the symptoms of his advanced Parkinson’s disease for which he has had several brain surgeries and takes myriad medications.

Most news outlets and tabloid TV shows voiced outrage over the Limbaugh assault. Fox is a uniformly respected actor and has shown little overt partisanship politically. He supports stem cell research and those who promote it, who are almost wholly Democrats. However, Fox campaigned for Sen. Arlen Specter [R-PA] two years ago, because Specter, who suffers from cancer, has been a longtime supporter of stem cell research.

Fox responded to the Limbaugh attack in a sit-down interview with Katie Couric.

Those who watch the always stupendous *Boston Legal* know Fox has a recurring role on the show. His symptoms are not controlled–he has learned, however, to work within their jarring manifestations.

It’s always difficult to pinpoint the most repugnant aspect of Limbaugh, but his accusation that Fox was “acting” (for which he never apologized, despite mis-representations in the media that he did) or “off his medication” was most repellant because Fox *does* have a terminal illness that is hugely debilitating. He’s had it since his early 30s. Why shouldn’t viewers see the impact of such a disease on a human being? Doesn’t that help create an informed decision?

Informed decisions aren’t the purview of the right, however, as the lead-in to the election has made quite clear. Although Limbaugh is the true heart-and-soul of the mean-spirited right, Bill O’Reilly is the guy they dress up (he cleans up so much better and his lies are more in keeping with the Bush Administration’s party line) and put out on the public stage.

On October 27th Oprah did another of her town hall discussions, this time with O’Reilly. Two weeks earlier she had New York Times columnist (and avowed queer liberal) Frank Rich on the show discussing his new book, *The Greatest Story Ever Told,* about the decline of truth in American politics and media.

Like Rich, O’Reilly was touting his latest book, *Culture Warrior,* and like Rich, O’Reilly was giving his side of the ideological divide. Unlike Rich, however, O’Reilly was surly, dismissive of any opinion in disputation with his own, and generally rude–which is his trademark behavior on the tube.

There was less yelling than usual. O’Reilly comes from the Chris Matthews school of shouting his opposition into silence, but in deference to Oprah--whom he claimed as being on his side of the ideological fence–he was almost calm.

In her town meeting with Rich, Oprah had challenged the columnist on various points, specifically on whether Bush was a liar. That didn’t happen in her discourse with O’Reilly. Before she opened the discussion up to audience questions, Oprah did ask O’Reilly about his black-and- white assessment of the American demographic, which he separates into traditionalists and secular-progressives, and queried whether such constructions just further divide the nation along ideological lines.

O’Reilly said people have to take sides. As his markers, the host of cable’s top-rated show (*The O’Reilly Factor*) defined rap music and parental consent laws for abortions for minors as his litmus for the decline and fall of American civilization. He told the audience (which was not the average Oprah audience at all–stocked ahead with right-wing lovers of O’Reilly, there were only a handful of dissenters and those were quickly quelled by O’Reilly) they had a choice: they could keep America as it is, the world’s most powerful and valued nation, or they could have “Holland” or Denmark instead–countries that O’Reilly views as emblematic of liberal extremism. O’Reilly talked about the most dangerous group in America–the ACLU. He uses their support of NAMBLA and Guantanamo detainees as his rationale for that, which sparked a one-sided debate on moral relativism.

O’Reilly also repeated many of the stock lies of the right/Bush Administration–like the link between 9/11 and Iraq. O’Reilly stated unequivocally that there was indeed a phalanx of al-Qaeda in Iraq that helped plan the 9/11 attacks.

Just a reminder, since O’Reilly wasn’t corrected by anyone: This is a lie.

The importance of the O’Reilly town meeting so close to the election on the show (which re-airs on late night in most markets) of the most powerful and influential woman in America cannot be minimized. Oprah’s other shows last week included an interview with Magic Johnson on his series of clinics to fight AIDS in urban America and a dialogue with seven women with HIV/AIDS discussing how the epidemic continues to rage. She also interviewed Madonna about her adoption of a one-year-old boy from Malawi.

O’Reilly is right: there is indeed a culture war in America and TV is where we see it played out with daily clarity. Issues that matter to the American people–polls put the top three as the war, the economy and health care–are never discussed by the right. They avoid the war (in his most recent press conference last week, a desperate Bush asserted that things needed to change in Iraq), tout the economy as healthy (even though 52 million Americans are living at or below the poverty level) and ignore health care altogether (42 million Americans have no health care and another 30 million are under-insured; the U.S. is the only Western nation that does not insure all its citizens with health care).

In the weeks leading up to the elections, what we have seen most is the spate of lies coming from the right about who the moderate left-of-center (because there is no real “left” in the country anymore) is.

The O’Reilly town meeting told part of the tale, the political ads tell more. In Pennsylvania, for example, where one of the tightest and most important senate races is playing out, the ads from the right have been brutal.

Rick Santorum is the third most powerful Republican in Congress. He is also perhaps the most right wing member of the Senate, the one who equated same-sex marriage with man-dog sex and who wants to outlaw all birth control because he says the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped in its 1965 ruling on Griswold v. Connecticut which legalized birth control.

Santorum is in a tightly contested race in Pennsylvania to retain the seat he has held for three terms. Running against him is Bob Casey, Jr., son of the late Pennsylvania governor, Bob Casey, Sr. who was a figurehead in the national Democratic Party, known best for his opposition to abortion and the death penalty. Casey Jr. has strong support in the middle and western parts of the state and he has been leading Santorum in the polls by about five points.

In Casey’s ads, he depicts Santorum as an extremist–which he is. He notes Santorum’s 98 percent voting record with Bush, his refusal to raise the minimum wage while giving tax cuts to the rich and his support of the war in Iraq. He also notes Santorum’s repeated references to abolishing birth control. (Like his father, Casey opposes abortion and the death penalty, but he support queer civil rights, birth control and stem cell research, all of which Santorum opposes, although Santorum does support the death penalty.) The ads are tough, but honest.

In Santorum’s ads, he depicts Casey as a “dangerous liberal,” focusing on Casey’s support of amnesty for illegal immigrants. In his most recent ads, Santorum has juxtaposed Casey’s face with that of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, with missiles in the center. The voice-over notes that Casey is against a missile defense system for the U.S. (none has been proven to work, yet) and that he “welcomes illegal immigrants” into the U.S., despite the threats of terrorism to the nation.

Thus Santorum equates illegal immigrants–more than 95 percent of whom come from Latin America–with terrorism.

This particular ad campaign–the argument that Democrats are soft on terrorism–is being repeated in New Jersey and New York, where tough Senate races divide centrist Democrats from extremist Republicans. The focus is consistent: Democrats will tax the hell out of you (because they are all for rolling back Bush’s tax cuts for the rich) and make the nation unsafe (because they are for immigration reforms).

On Oprah, O’Reilly said he thought the Democrats would take the House or the Senate, he didn’t think both. He didn’t give a reason why, but did imply that it was somehow the fault of a populace that doesn’t get the importance of not turning America into “Holland.”

Somehow, in his diatribe on moral values, the name “Mark Foley” never came up–even though NAMBLA was discussed in detail.

O’Reilly appeared on David Letterman a few hours after his appearance on Oprah. Unlike the daytime diva, who has a different demographic to address, Letterman took the gloves off.

O’Reilly arrived holding a Halloween sword and shield. He handed the sword to Letterman and took up the shield. He needed it.

O’Reilly was pilloried on his last visit to Letterman in which the comedian asserted that “about 60 percent of what you say is crap.” This time he tried to put Letterman on the defensive. He asked, “Do you want America to win or not in Iraq?” When Letterman paused, O’Reilly said, “It’s an easy answer.” To which Letterman replied, “No it’s not because I’m thoughtful.”

The debate between Letterman and O’Reilly focused predominately on the war and unlike Oprah, who had read O’Reilly’s book and made specific comments about it, Letterman said he hadn’t read it and didn’t plan to. When discussing O’Reilly’s talk show Letterman quipped, “I go over to Fox and all I can find are *The Simpson's.* Are you sure you have a show?”

As they debated the war, O’Reilly repeated more of the cant from his appearance on Oprah, this time asserting that Iraqi terrorists had been caught poisoning the British water supply with ricin, an alleged plot that was thoroughly debunked, but which O’Reilly repeated as fact. (He also used ABC’s Brian Ross as his source for many of his claims–none of which could be substantiated on the ABCnews website.) He dismissed the torture of water-boarding and getting terrorists a little wet.

O’Reilly acknowledged that the war on Iraq had been a mistake, but covered Bush with “mistakes happen.”

Letterman countered with: “So we made a mistake with the war, so we just stay and kill as many Americans as we possibly can? That’s how we fix a mistake? How do you make a right decision out of a wrong decision?”

Letterman was self-deprecating as usual, and said he didn’t know enough to argue the facts with O’Reilly, but added that he didn’t think O’Reilly had the facts either.

At one point in the riposte, Letterman charged, “You are putting words in my mouth just like you put artificial facts in your head.”

TV has been the proving ground for the culture wars and will continue to be so. The Oct. 27th episode of *Law&Order* ran a storyline in which a huge government contractor like Halliburton provided faulty body armor for soldiers in Iraq and the Pentagon asked that it be covered up. The Republican DA (played by real-life former Republican congressman Fred Thompson) agreed to do so.

The fog of war–be it Iraq or the culture wars (abortion, same-sex marriage, free speech)–is all around us. TV has been both the debunker of myths and the propagator of them. In the days before the elections, the swirl of controversies large and small will continue to be previewed on the small screen. There’s little counter to the Limbaugh's and the O'Reilly's. Even Oprah–who took on Katrina and AIDS in Africa–won’t take them on.

That leaves the voters and the polls on November 7th.

Stay tuned.

VOTER PURGE is Widespread!

Just heard today that right now voter purges of thousands of REGISTERED and legal Hispanic people are being orchestrated across the country in states including Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida (and more).

This was reported today (10/29) by Greg Palast, investigative journalist on the ABC show "Like It Is". (Palast is best known as the journalist who broke the story of how Jeb Bush purged thousands of black Florida citizens from voter rolls before the 2000 election. [Observer, UK and BBC, UK]

A Democrat sweep of Congress in NOT in the bag . ***Become an activist - get off your butt and hand out fliers or phone bank or volunteer for a candidate in a battleground state or be a poll watcher or hound apathetic friends to vote!!

*** Only meant for those who have not volunteered -- I know a number of you are working your tails off!!

So be sure to VOTE and PASS this on -- the loathsome Bush machine will stop at nothing...

[Greg Palast is also the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy".]

-Kelly Taylor

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-Noah Greenberg