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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Christmas Eve Madman

Friday-Sunday, December 22-24, 2006


There will be no Madman on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas to all. We'll see you on Tuesday.

-Noah Greenberg

A Holiday Story

Merry Christmas John J. Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley. Your profits are so huge that you were able to award yourself with a $40 million bonus. And Happy Hanukah to Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sacks who, upon hearing of the Mack bonus, gave himself an even larger one. Oh, and let's not forget the realtors who found these two money changers mansions in the most expensive real estate market in the nation: The New York Market. Those commissions will come in handy.

Who said trickled-down doesn't' work. After all somewhere down the road those mansions are going to need gilded bathroom fixtures and gold umbrella stands to be built. See? The American middle class is getting richer all the time.

"Wildly busy,"
-Linda Stein of Prudential Douglas Elliman Realty in Manhattan, New York City, on the number of Wall Street types she describes as "lookers"

These "lookers" are looking at purchasing condominiums and co-ops in New York City for anywhere from $1.5 million to $5 million. And those are the cheap ones All one has to do is look at the Sunday real estate section of The New York Times and see apartments (yes, I said apartments) in Manhattan's better neighborhoods going for even more dough than that.

The average Wall Street bonus this year is in excess of $137,000. Go ahead boys (and girls), you've earned it. That adds up to a total of almost $24 billion for Wall Streeters this year (that's "BILLION" with a "B"), a group whose sole contribution to society is to make more money for those such as themselves.

As Zero Mostel said to a Fat-Cat-type coming out of a limo under his office window in The Producers, "That's it, Baby, when you got it, flaunt it!"

And if you want to know where some of those high-paying jobs are coming from, look no further than employers such as Goldman Sacks and Morgan Stanley. Wall Street, in all, created an additional 7,200 jobs so far this year. One might think that this is great news until one looks at the numbers: Today, as these Wall Street types cash in on their big bonuses, 35.6 percent of all Americans who are able-bodied and not institutionalized aren't working. It's a higher average than the 32.9 percent during the Clinton years; and even higher than the 33.7 percent left by the Bush (41) administration. Maybe Americans just don't want to work any more.

Today there are about 48 million Americans without health care and many more with not enough health care. We are responsible for paying more towards our deductibles and, what they term, other out-of-pocket expenses. health care costs have risen to the point where many employers are forced to hire employees without families or with spouses who have their own health care coverage.

All one has to do is take a look at real wages to see their lack of growth, even in keeping up with smaller than normal CPI (inflation numbers). And disposable income, as it related to the average American, is a thing of the past.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a Joyous Kwanzaa to those Wall Street money changers who are reaping the benefits of the Bush policies. Save enough for the ferryman.

-Noah Greenberg

To the Honorable Virgil Goode:

Your name has recently achieved a high degree of visibility due to remarks you made regarding Muslims in the USA. You are cited by Fox News as being in favor of adopting immigration policies similar to those of the 1920s that limited immigration to people arriving from the northern European countries.

I simply cannot understand the contempt for America that goes behind such a proposal. Do you view European culture as superior and think that we Americans are so backward that we need to recruit Europeans to come here and civilize us? Are you so inimical to religion that you think an onslaught of European atheists would benefit us by overpowering American religiosity? Or is your view of American ideals of representative democracy so jaded that you think sycophants bred under atheistic communist totalitarianism will properly tutor Americans on submission to their betters?

On the position of taking an oath on the Koran, I find your position even more troubling. When Members are sworn into Congress, there is no requirement to place the hand on any Holy Book or object: the Law recognizes their competence and intent. Taking the oath with the hand placed on the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Talmud, the Koran or whatever, takes place in a ceremony held only to solemnize the oath in a manner personally significant for the incoming Member.

I cannot fathom what you think gives you the right to criticize another man's personal ceremony. Your willingness to impose your personal views on another is loathsome and odious. It is an unpardonable breach of decorum and a misuse of your office. Virginia's motto, "Sic semper tyrannis," is intended to counter such behavior.

The lack of judgment reflected by your remarks imperils the achievement of the mission to democratize Iraq. If Congressmen show such perniciously bigoted views as yours, what virtue does democracy possess?

-Robert Chapman

In response to Wal-Mart in China, Billie M. Spaight writes:

Robert is right on about Wal-Mart. That company is so bad. And let me just say that the fastest way to create a Communist is to treat workers like hell. Not that I mind Communists. It was the American Communist party that pushed for a lot of safety-net things in this country, which made life much more bearable than it is today. I'm not saying I want the brands of Communism that were extant in Russia and China but I'm not sure capitalism improved anything anyway. But if we could model ourselves on some of the socialist countries, I think we would be a lot better off.

Wal-Mart is breeding Communists--right here--most definitely.

In response to "If and when Rep. Ellison gets a chance to speak with Virgil Goode, I hope he addresses Virgil Goode as 'Vigil Goode'. It might go something like
"REP. ELLISON (approaching Rep. Virgil Goode in the halls of Congress): How is >Rep. Virgil Goode today?
"REP. VIRGIL GOODE: Virgil Goode is good.
"REP. ELLISON: Well it's good to know that Virgil Goode is good. Good-bye.
"REP. VIRGIL GOODE: Virgil Goode says good-bye as well."

Eddie Konczal writes:

Reminds me of the famous telephone exchange between President Merkin Muffley and Premier Kissoff in Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)"

President Merkin Muffley: "Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?...
Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine...
Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine... a-ha-ha-ha-

I (Jenny Hanniver) couldn't help but reply to Billie Spaight, whose comments I usually agree with (regarding Al Franken and Michael Moore as Liberal Hate Mongers), but:

It's COMEDY, Billie! Not hate! Michael Moore and Al Franken poke fun at those who DO hate and who leave wreckage and sorrow wherever they can convince others to hate. Lampooning helps bring the haters & baiters, self-appointed pundits, warmongers, racists, sexists, gun-happies, and other dangerous people down off their high horses onto their butts, and when people laugh at them they lose authority.

Having entered college in 1953 I belong to the first generation of MAD magazine aficionados. I guess you never read MAD's devastating lampoon (1955? 56?) of the Army-McCarthy hearings. Every college friend I knew read and passed around till it was dog-eared. Even my conservative friends were chortling and rolling on the floor--and this was in the north Florida (Gainesville) Okefenokee Swamp, not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. Not ever having been a TV fan, and without any access to television at college, I didn't see the Ed Murrow broadcast. But I can assure you that the MAD satire woke up a whole lot of young people to McCarthy's tactics--and goals. This lampoon was so on-target that in the first MAD paperback collection from the early years, it was banned from the book! (It finally got published, and I am fortunate to have it in my library of books.)

Satire and lampoon are old forms of comedy--and almost always POLITICAL. Surely you must have read or seen Aristophanes' and Terenece's satirical comedies? Or heard a few Gilbert & Sullivan scores? Or, more modern-ly, seen the stage plays of MACBIRD and/or DICK DETERRED? Or Vaclav Havels's THE ELEPHANT? They all maintain topicality because human foibles haven't changed much. Hypocrites are still hypocrites, and still need to be brought down to a prat-fall.

In my opinion Michael Moore and Al Franken have done wondrous services for our smugly asleep country. Please don't buy into the self-serving NeoCon claim that NeoCons can get away with any kind of sin while liberals must invariably be 100% pure. We gotta get down and dirty sometimes. Even Jesus got angry at the hypocrites who turned the Temple into a house of money, and at the wolves in sheep's clothing. No, I don't believe Jesus was God, but it would be an improbable chore to try to be holier than Jesus, so let's not waste time trying.

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-Noah Greenberg