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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, November 1, 2006


John McCain: A War Hero and a Political Coward

In 2000, I gave some serious thought about a President John McCain, the REPUBLICAN Senator from Arizona. I liked his no nonsense approach and his individuality regarding the real important issues at hand. He was a breath of fresh air from the Red side of the aisle.

McCain was in the North Vietnam prison known as the "Hanoi Hilton". A former Navy pilot who was shot down, he was a "guest" at the prison for five years subject to the kind of pain, torture and loneliness most of us have only seen in the movies. Like many prisoners, under duress, he was forced to "confess" his crimes against the Vietnamese and tell the world how he, and the United States were guilty of war crimes.

This was a man to admire. This man was a hero.

As a legislator in congress, then in the senate, McCain had no problem speaking his mind. The McCain-Feingold bill was designed to regulate political campaigns financing and hopefully bring about fairer elections. It was a pretty bold step by a member of the party which greatly benefited (much more then the Democrats) by the large sum donations sprayed upon then by the likes of big business. It was not well received by his GOP brethren.

Today, John McCain has taken a different approach. You see, in 2000, after an improbable win in the New Hampshire GOP primary over a stunned George W. Bush crowd, McCain took his campaign to South Carolina. During that campaign, the Bushies called the Arizona Senator a philanderer, the father of a bastard child and a Manchurian Candidate, saying that, while he was in the Hanoi Hilton, his mind had been altered. They even called his wife, Cindy, a drunk, drug addict and a loon.

McCain lost the South Carolina primary and his hopes as the GOP candidate was over.

The last few years have seen McCain gone from an opponent of the bush policies, such as torture, to being one of its new cheerleaders. Even when something rubs him the wring way, his choice is silence over the good of the nation.

So today I phoned the Washington DC headquarters of Sen. McCain. his press office was nowhere to be found, only offering a promise to return the call. I then called the Phoenix, Arizona office of the senator and was told that all statements come out of DC. So I called back and the same nice receptionist connected me to the same recording by a Ms. Melissa Sheffield. Again no return call.

I asked all the live, human voices what Sen. McCain's reaction was to the kidnapped American soldier in Iraq, and the ordered removal, by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki, of all checkpoints in and around Sadr City, where the soldier was presumed to have been taken . Neither human voice had the slightest idea of what I was talking about.

In this frenzy of wanting to blast Senator John Kerry (DEMOCRAT-MA) for a badly delivered joke, the whole of right wing radio, and those like Sen. McCain have forsaken what is important: The actual safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is an American soldier with an Iraqi wife who was taken while he attempted to visit her. Al-Malaki, flexing his muscles and cow-towing to his Shi'ite majority, has ended any hope our military had of finding this soldier, who, and I'm taking an educated guess here, probably speaks Farsi (Iraq's main language). he is (was?) of Iraqi descent. And we desperately need translators and good soldiers.

At the same time that PM al-Malaki was kneeling to the likes Muqtada al-Sadr, the young clerics who is behind a powerful militia, he now assumes that he is the US Commander in Iraq.

President Bush and his Bushies have nothing to say on the matter. It would lead to hard questions as to why they have given up hope in this young man and given up control of the Army to the Iraqi government.

But why hasn't McCain said anything? Is he so far up the Presidents rear cheeks that he can no longer see? Has the lust for power gone so far that he can't state the obvious any more? What has the president promised him, anyway? Don't be surprised to see this GOP ticket: MCCAIN-BUSH (as in Jeb).

We know what President Bush is, and more and more of us detest it. But what is scarier is when independent thinking REPUBLICANS like McCain let ambition force their eyes and minds to close. maybe he feels that if elected, he will be able to do powerful things and really change the world for the better. But his silences now just makes me think that we are seeing the Real McCain who will give in to special interests and do or say anything to be President Number 44.

And that makes him a political coward.

-Noah Greenberg

"Swift Soprano's"

What does Tom Kean JUNIOR think of New Jersians? We know that he thinks all of Hudson county is corrupt. With its diverse population and lower income status (as compared to Kean JUNIOR's usual "base" of "haves and have mores"), writing off the small, but heavily populated county is just a no-brainer.

But his new ad is something else. Taking The Soprano's (the present-day HBO gangster series) for a bigoted spin around the block, we see a gangster of Italian descent talking about his relationship with Sen. Menendez, calling the Senator his "boy down in Washington". By the way, Menendez isn't even Italian.

The Italian-American community is up in arms, as it should be.

And now it turns out that Bob Perry, a Texas Home builder and Bush pioneer is financing the ad. Perry is the guy behind the "Swift Boat" campaign that worded so well against John Kerry in 2004.

"The Swift Boat ad distortion and now this distortion -- that Italian-Americans are involved in organized crime, and so is Menendez, who is not even Italian -- it's hurtful,"
-Robert Bianchi, National Vice President of the Commission for Social Justice, Order Sons of Italy of America, and a Bloomfield attorney

It doesn't seem to matter to Kean JUNIOR, his father (Kean, Sr. who is quiet on the subject of the ad) and any other REPUBLICAN politician in New Jersey who should be outraged.

To his credit, Bianchi doesn't want this ad to be a rallying cry for Italian-Americans to rush to Menendez' side. I think it ought to be.

"We're trying desperately not to make this a partisan issue. We were hoping the Kean campaign would at least ask that it be withdrawn. He hasn't even made the phone call."

The GOP would rather play on stereotypes. It's why they try to negate the vote of African-American, Hispanic and any other ethnic or nationality who vote more DEMOCRATIC than REPUBLICAN.

Jill Hazelbaker, the Kean JUNIOR aide who some of you will remember disguised herself as a "former Democrat" in various emails and blogs, says that the ad isn't her boss' fault.

"It may seem confusing and convoluted but we cannot get the ad pulled. That's the way the campaign finance law has been written, and we abide by it. I think it's pretty clear from our statement that we abhor the ad,"

Then why not, at the very least, call Mr. Bianchi's group to explain himself. I guess Karl "The Traitor" Rove didn't give him the go-ahead to make the call. After all, it's obvious to anyone with a brain that the group which designed the "Swift Boat" had to be tied to Rove, a.k.a. "Bush's Brain".

"This guy has a history of funding deceptive ads against Democrats and then trying to allow Republican candidates to hide behind phony denials. But just as George Bush never called for the Swift Boat ads to be taken off the air, Tom Kean Jr. never called for this ad to be taken off the air because he thought he would benefit from it,"
-Matt Miller, a Menendez spokesman

Perry's Free Enterprise Fund Committee called the ad "creative". It's an opinion most bigots have of their acts.

There is a reason that a race that was tied just a few short weeks ago now shows a seven-point lead for Senator Menendez. People are tired of cheap shots and ethnic slanders. Too bad for the REPUBLICANS that negativity is all they know. After all, when all you have is mud, you might as well sling it.

-Noah Greenberg (as suggested by Robert Scardapane)

Great Quote from "The Votemaster"

The NY Daily News has a story about congressman John Sweeney knocking his wife around so much that she called 911 (thanks to Political Wire for finding this). With Sweeney ( NY-20 ) beating his wife, Don Sherwood ( PA-10 ) choking his mistress, and Mark Foley (formerly of FL-16 ) chasing teenage boys, the Republican claim of supporting family values raises questions of exactly what those values are.


-Thanks to Eddie Konczal

Still No Apology Policy

Just when it looked like North Korea was about to start World War III, Pakistan has grabbed the world's attention by bombing a madras in its Federally Administered Tribal Area, killing 80 people and causing protests across the country. Aside from the bodies, within the rubble were found scores of Korans, and no weapons. Many of the victims were youths. Yet Musharraf claims that all of the victims were "militants" and the press reports that a military training camp has been successfully destroyed. Whoever is responsible has a strange idea of success.

I don't know enough about Pakistani politics to guess the implications this may have on the Presidential election, the return of Benazir Bhutto and so on, but it's clear that the attack has angered people, not only in the tribal belt, but across all of Pakistan. It will mobilize people living on the Afghan border, and could be dangerous to the stability of the country. Whatever "militants" may have been among the dead will soon be replaced by those propelled into action by the attacks.

Key to understanding what happened is that it occurred on the night before a peace agreement with the Bajaur elders was to be signed. This would have paralleled the agreement reached in Waziristan. Musharraf claims that the Waziristan elders will comply with the agreement, and reject Afghan fighters looking for protection across the border. To Washington, it is a prohibited negotiation with terrorists. The US military are quick to label the tribesmen "Taliban" whether they are Afghan or Pakistani, and whether these people could be separated from the Afghan nationalist fighters. The "Taliban" label is an unfortunate term that obscures what is going on.

There is no indication at all that the Pakistani government was going to change its mind about signing the agreement. Therefore, I would guess that Washington either ordered the attack, or may even be responsible for it. Witnesses claim that the missiles were shot from a US Predator drone aircraft. ABC has spun this into another episode in the hunt for "al Qaeda's No. 2 man". Maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention, but I thought we'd killed that guy at least five times already. It seems more likely to me that the US bombed the school to put an end to the Pakistani negotiations. Then the Mushy President decided to take the blame, to prevent the even worse reaction that would have occurred if the US were found responsible. If that's so, then it's an act of patriotism for Musharraf to sacrifice his own reputation to keep Pakistan intact. Or maybe he just does what Washington tells him to do. I guess we will have to wait for his next book to come out to find out what happened.

Good luck to Pakistan. To be honest, I'm more worried about North Korea. I think the government of North Korea has been pushed into a corner, and may have to start a war with the US in order to survive. We will be surprised that they have taken the initiative, but if they see a gradual and continual escalation of sanctions, they may think their best option is to get this over with before it gets any worse. While the US is undoubtedly able to cause much damage in North Korea, a war with North Korea would have enormous political implications within the US. The Nov 7th congressional elections add even pressure to the situation.

-Forwarded by Dorothy Schwartz, from "Paul"

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-Noah Greenberg