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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


A Debate?

The Senate Republicans don't want a debate on Iraq. They suck!

The Senate Republicans are complaining that the new Democratic majority in the big house of congress want to debate the President's policies on Iraq. The Dems have offered up a non-binding resolution and the Republicans want to block it.

They never learn, do they?

Welcome to how government is supposed to be run, members of the GOP. It's nice to have you back. Too bad (for them, of course) they no longer can have their unfettered way and just cave in to the President's demands for more money and bodies in this war on sanity. In order for government to work properly, minority views have to be heard, and the Republicans are going to have to say more than "Yes sir, Mr. Decider."

The Dems in the Senate want to make sure every voter knows just where every senator stands on the President's "strategy" of using US children as cannon fodder in his war to make the war profiteers more money.

"The president must hear from Congress, so he knows he stands in the wrong place — alone,"
-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-NV)

And up until now, there was no need for the president to hear from congress - he already knew the answers.

"As far as stalling, we've got a week here where we can have a full debate."
-Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (REPUBLICAN-MS)

After all, it isn't YOUR child on those front lines, is it Sen. Lott? Maybe you could invite everybody to your home on the gulf coast for mint juleps.

But a full debate is necessary, and it's new territory for the party of Bush's "base" of "haves and have mores". It's kind of funny to hear the GOP whine about fair government, ain't it?

The Bushies estimate that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will require a defense budget of $624.6 billion for the next year. It's the first time that they ever gave an estimate. Under the "Anything you want, President Decider" GOP leadership, all the President had to do was put in for an "emergency funding" bill so as not to have to reconcile the spending in their budget. This allowed them to tell us all that he has been reducing the deficit while increasing it.

It appears that oversight has come back to DC.

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

There have been four police shootings in Philadelphia since the beginning of the year–an average of one a week. The reason given thus far by police? Suspects with weapons in cars.

Unsurprisingly, the suspects were all African American, as have been the majority of police shooting victims in Philadelphia in recent years.

These incidents have caused Philadelphians of all races to question whether police treat African American suspects differently than they treat Caucasian suspects.

The January 30 incidents involving Garrett and Britt Reid, sons of Eagles coach, Andy Reid, should finally put the question to rest.

There are definitely two forms of justice in Philadelphia; it is difficult to imagine that race does not play a role.

The two young men–Garrett, 24 and Britt, 21–live at home with their parents in Villanova. Police say both are under investigation: Britt for allegedly threatening a man with a gun in a road rage incident and Garrett for speeding, running a red light and injuring a 55-year-old woman (who had to be airlifted to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital from the scene) when he crashed into her car. Garrett told police at the scene that he had been using heroin prior to the accident.

And yet he was not arrested, not even for DUI. Nor was his brother, even though this is the account given to police about that incident. Britt Reid was in an argument about which driver had been in the proper lane, police said. He allegedly approached the victim's car yelling, then returned to his vehicle and got a handgun. He then pointed it directly at the victim and smiled, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He then drove away, but the victim noted his license plate number and reported it to police, according to the affidavit. The vehicle was registered to Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy.

Imagine being African American–or even just not the son of a celebrity–and driving through Philadelphia at a high rate of speed, running a red light, crashing into another car and then when police arrived at the scene, telling them you had been doing heroin just prior to the accident. Can you imagine that you would *not* be arrested and charged immediately with attempted vehicular homicide? Or imagine threatening another motorist with a gun. Think you’d even come out of that one without the injuries that usually accompany being “subdued” by police in Philadelphia after a high-speed chase?

Both men were also found with drug paraphernalia and weapons. Apparently, however, the presumption of innocence–even in the face of quantities of drugs, syringes, bullets and guns–applies to two young white men who were involved in incidents on the road that might easily have resulted in the deaths of the woman struck by Garrett or the man in whose face Brit allegedly thrust a pistol while smiling.

Should we apply that same presumption to African American or non-celebrity white motorists with cars filled with drugs, guns and ammo? Or should we just use reasonable application of the law: if you have drugs and guns in your car–which is illegal–and someone was just injured by you or claims to have been injured, you get arrested. Regardless of race or position.

That seems the way to best protect the citizenry.

So why haven’t Garrett and Brit Reid been charged, at the very least, with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia and with risking a catastrophe by driving under the influence?

Isn’t that what you or I would be charged with?

There were a lot of different issues I wanted to write about this week: Iraq, the campaign for Mayor in which the worst candidates are ahead in the polls, the fabulous new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who is forcing more change in Washington and doing more for the people of America than any previous Speaker in recent history and definitely more than the President.

But watching the inexplicable special treatment of Garrett and Brit Reid, who should have been but were not arrested at the scenes of their alleged crimes has so outraged me, I had to put those other, very important issues, aside for another week and address this insult to all Philadelphians who are being faced daily with thugs just like the Reid brothers who threaten the rest of us with their drugs and guns.

Sports has long been a renegade arena. The NFL and NBA are both as well known for their criminals–murderers and rapists, felons and batterers–as they are for their stellar players on the field/court. Anger management is a term many players have never heard. Alan Iverson, for example, might have left Philadelphia for Phoenix, but few Philadelphians will forget his checkered moments off the court in addition to his incredible scoring on it.

Andy Reid is a Mormon–a deeply religious man. He met his wife, Tammy, at the Mormon college, Brigham Young University, in Utah. He has said repeatedly that he tries to blend “faith, family and football” in his life. At a speech he gave in 2005 he said, “I used the [leadership] format I learned at church and transformed it to the Eagles. I'm like the Bishop of the Philadelphia Eagles. “In a game, there are highs and lows. Life is like that. Football is a microcosm of life. The good people stay consistent. They work themselves right through it. They have quiet confidence. We've tried to present that as husband and wife to our family."

In recent months we’ve witnessed many falls from grace in America. Family values proponents found with prostitutes of both genders or congressional pages, evangelicals preaching one thing and doing another outside their apparently fake marriages. But sports is an area where we have not only come to expect bad behavior, but we have also–alas–accepted it.

Andy Reid was supposed to be different. Reid isn’t one of those coaches swearing at or throttling his players–or the fans–like Bobby Knight or Phil Jackson. He isn’t one of those coaches who blames the players for his own inadequacies. In recent years he’s faced numerous challenges with two prima donna quarterbacks–Terrell Owens, the worst thing to ever happen to the Eagles–and Donovan McNabb, who at 31 is still having Mommy and Daddy fight his battles for him on his website.

Yet through all the turmoil, Reid has brought the team to the playoffs five out of six seasons. And while the Superbowl has remained elusive, Reid has been consistent: taking responsibility for himself and his team and never behaving like a thug or shifting the blame.

Which makes Reid’s response–or rather lack of response–to the obvious extreme crisis in his own family and the damage it has done outside the family all the more disturbing.

Garrett and Brit are apparently drug addicts with guns. Take them out of Villanova and put them in Germantown or Mount Airy and they would be just another couple of petty felons. Give them the last name Reid and they get the kind of treatment by law enforcement that George Bush got from the National Guard: a total–and unforgivable–pass.

Many of us grew up with addiction in our families. I did. Many of my friends have. It’s a painful reality that many Americans deal with daily. I see the impact of addiction–and guns–every day in my neighborhood in lower Germantown.

I also see that families with rules and schedules that pay careful attention to their children aren’t the failing families.

Somewhere along the line something very bad happened in the Reid household, because the Reid boys are out of control–driving under the influence of heroin with bags of crack or cocaine or heroin in the car, vials of marijuana, syringes, bullets, guns. And those are just the things reported by the police from the search of the cars.

Days after the incidents, in which one woman was badly injured and a man whose wife is due to give birth any day was allegedly threatened with a gun, the Reid boys have yet to be arrested and police are “still investigating.”

Still investigating what? Whether a confession of heroin use at the scene of a serious accident will stand up in court? Investigating whether a probable cause search of cars involved in accidents that turned up drugs and guns should lead to an arrest for possession of illegal drugs? Or investigating whether or not there are two systems of justice in this area–one for rich white sport-playing sons of football coaches and one for the rest of us?

Garrett and Brit Reid should both have been arrested on January 30th. Every day that goes by that they are not arrested and charged is another day in which everyone in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs understands more and more clearly that thuggery is acceptable among sports figures and celebrities, but unacceptable for the rest of us.

Andy Reid issued a statement through his attorney asking for privacy at this “difficult time.”

Difficult time for whom? Difficult for the woman who was struck by his son who was driving under the influence of one of the most powerful drugs known to humanity and who had to be airlifted from the scene of the accident? Difficult for the 36 year old carpenter who thought he might be murdered in broad daylight before the birth of his child by a man who had chased him down and pointed a gun in his face, smiling as he did so?

The difficult time is the one all of us are having understanding why Garrett and Brit Reid haven’t been arrested and why Andy Reid has not issued some kind of apologetic statement to the community for allowing his sons to get so out of control that they are a danger to society.

Expect to see some note about “rehab” in the near future. After all, that’s the place celebrities go to escape responsibility for their actions. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the next time some random black guy gets stopped while driving in a car in Germantown or Mount Airy and guns and drugs are found in his car, he might want to call Coach Reid to get him a pass on immediate arrest.

In response to, "Thalidomide was a drug for nausea, touted in WWII, for pregnant women, as having no serious side effects. It was a miracle and stopped a generation of moms-to-be from throwing up. It wasn't until the grandchildren were born to the girls who were dosed with thalidomide while in utero, without arms, legs, fingers, etc, that the pharma and doctor community realized they had made a mistake," Pat Thompson writes:

Thalidomide was introduced long after WWII, and the effects were IMMEDIATE on the fetus being carried by the woman who took the drug -- flippers instead of legs and arms. Not the grandchildren. Mothers who took a hormone commonly given to help maintain problem pregnancies had daughters who had vaginal cancers in their teens.

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-Noah Greenberg