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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, February 12

 

The Trial

Lying is a big deal. How big a deal, one may ask, is it? Well, as the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby scoots along, it appears that covering up the crime (yes, it is a crime) by lying about who and when Valerie Plame's name was leaked is worse than actually leaking the name. Just take a look at who should be in jail already versus who is on trial (Libby) now:

-Robert Novak: The first guy who released Valerie Plame's name as an undercover operative for the CIA, he has been left alone in exchange for his testimony. According to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Novak has been "cooperating" with the investigation of the leak from the very beginning. Novak's original claim, in print, was that he didn't know that it was illegal to tell the world who our secret agents are and who they work for.

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction,"
-Novak, from his July 14, 2003 "outing of Valerie Plame" column

By the way, this one sentence from Novak should have put to rest, immediately, any talk by the GOP that Plame was merely a secretary or that she wasn't an operative working in sensitive areas. Can there be any more sensitive area which the CIA is investigating than WMD's?

Of course, Novak couldn't help but contradict his own column. In October of 2003, e tap-danced his way to these statement:

NOVAK: First, I did not receive a planned leak.
MADMAN: Just what is a "planned leak" anyway? It appears that the only reason for this statement is to allow his "friends" in the White House a way out by stating that they didn't "knowingly" put the life of a CIA agent at risk.

NOVAK: Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson's wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else.
MADMAN: The CIA didn't tell you that Wilson's wife worked there. Former Under Secretary of State Rich Armitage (that's the STATE Department, not the CIA), it turns out, told Novak of Plame's identity and job. Novak, by the words of his first column knew that Plame was a WMD expert and he released the name anyway.
Could you imagine if Novak had actually called the CIA and asked if it was okay to tell the world that Ms. Plame/ Mrs. Wilson was an agent working on WMD's? Just what do you think they might have said? I doubt that "It's okay Bob. Knock yourself out," would have been their first response.
Whereas it's true that Novak never was informed by the CIA not to reveal an agent's identity, it's also true that he never asked.
Convenient, huh?

NOVAK: Third, it was not much of a
MADMAN: It certainly wasn't a secret. After shopping the information around to the likes of Tim Russert, Bob Woodward, and a host of other, more responsible journalists, the White House found its mouthpiece in Bob Novak. After he got a hold of this classified info, Bob "The Human Megaphone" Novak took the bait and told the world, including our terrorist enemies in the middle east.

NOVAK: He (one of the ‘senior administration officials’) asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause "difficulties" if she travels abroad.”
MADMAN: So Armitage, an official at STATE told Bob that she may never get another foreign assignment. Doesn't that mean she might, as well? And what of her ongoing investigations, which Novak knew were ongoing? How many lives might Novak's actions have cost?

-Aril Fleischer: The former White House Press Secretary has had the finger of Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus pointed straight at him as his source of the leak. If true, and it appears that it is, Fleischer did well by getting out of the Bush administration as early as he did. Although Fleischer cooperated, what appears to be fully with the special prosecutor, he has known two things since 2003:
a) What he did was flat-out wrong and criminal
b) Keeping it a secret since 2003 just compounded his criminal activity

FLEISCHER: Did I just do something that I could be in big trouble for?
MADMAN: Yes, you did, Ari.

-Karl Rove: The president's right hand man, or the one whose arm is lost up the puppet-president's rear end has been a source of the leak as well. here's what Novak had to say about Karl "The Traitor" Rove:

"I wouldn't call him a good friend. I would call him a very good source. I talked to him two or three times a week at that point.
-Novak

We all want to know just how "good" a "source" Rove was. We already know that Rove was one of the many White House leakers. Now we want to know if it was him or another, higher ranking White House slug who planned the whole get-back-at-Joe-Wilson-for-telling-the-truth thing.

Vice President Dick Cheney: The handwriting is on the wall - or should I say in the right-hand column of the newspaper. By now we all know that Cheney, Libby's boss, was the man who got Libby rolling. And we all know that it was Cheney who wondered who sent Joe Wilson to Africa. Cheney's paw-prints are all over this one and, as time and this trial goes on, we'll see how really complicit he was in all of it.

Criminal? yes. Impeachment? Maybe. But something has got to be done. We, as a nation, have to make sure that the damage caused by the release of a CIA agent's name doesn't go unpunished.

-Noah Greenberg



Scooter Libby, Leaker or Hero? It's Really The People v The Media

Dateline: Washington, DC. It’s not Scooter Libby who should be on trial, it’s the media elite: The Washington Post, Meet the Press, The New York Times, Time Magazine.

According to “classified” and “top secret” documents that I believe may exist although I have no basis for these beliefs, the White House plan was to test the media. And, except for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and Comedy Central’s the Daily Show and the Colbert Report; the mainstream media failed the test. Weekend Update and The Daily Show stayed true to their mission: to criticize the White House at every turn. The Colbert Report, in allowing Stephen Colbert to say whatever popped into his mind, also passed the test. While they can no longer be considered “news media,” the Fox network and the New York Post, fulfilled their role as cheerleaders for the White House. But the Washington Post, Meet the Press, the New York Times, and Time Magazine, which did not challenge the White House, failed in their mission.

Spokespeople for the media elite, in a news conference that “never happened” said “First of all we have to deliver shareholder value. Second, it’s a new world. There are many new outlets for the news, and we are making room for them, giving them a chance. There is this ‘Internet’ thing, and all those independent ‘bloggers.’ We want to help them by getting out of their way, and we did that by letting them run with this story.”

Spokespeople for Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report said “Thanks. We thought we were making jokes. Does this mean we can get Press Badges? Can we get Pulitzers? And do we get free pizza and concert tickets? But seriously, we are entertainers. We don’t need concert tickets. We give concerts. You guys are journalists, investigative reporters. You’re supposed to investigate.”

The truth is that the White House operates on many levels. When he publicly expressed doubt that “we’ll find out who the leaker is” President Bush challenged the press to investigate. In revealing the identity of Valerie Plame as a covert agent for the CIA, the White House also acted on its plan to show that the CIA was ‘kinder and gentler.’ Plame is happily married to Joseph Wilson. She is therefore a housewife, sort of like the Angelina Jolie character in the film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” So in identifying Plame as an agent of the CIA the White House is showing the world the kind of people we have in the CIA. “Listen,” they are saying, “sometimes we apprehend bad people and bring them to places where tough people might ask them tough questions, but we are the good guys. We’re soccer moms. And by the way, we “apprehend” bad guys. We don’t “kidnap” people.”

Regarding the observation that identifying Plame as a CIA agent on “Non-Official Cover” put her life in danger, and also put anyone and everyone she ever worked with in danger, including “assets” in Europe and the Middle East, a spokesperson for the White House, in a telephone conversation that “never took place” said “life is dangerous. People get killed crossing the street. You better not print this. You know what I mean?”

***

This is a work of satire. Any relation to the facts is purely tragic.

L. J. "Gonzo" Furman
http://furmanfiles.blogspot.com



'Non-binding resolutions' are an excuse for serious action

As both the Senate and the House consider and debate "non-binding resolutions" to address the President's proposed "troop surge" in Iraq, Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich took the floor of the House today to declare, "The House will soon entertain a resolution relating to the surge. It is a nonbinding resolution. The war, however, is binding."

"The real -- and Constitutional -- power of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, is to cut off funds for an immoral and illegal war," Kucinich said. "Money is there right now to bring our troops home, and bringing our brave troops home is part of a plan that involves enlisting the support of the United Nations to mobilize international peacekeepers so our men and women can come home."

"I have a 12-point plan which I have circulated among Members of Congress," Kucinich said, "as to how we can get out of Iraq. The American people will not tolerate nonbinding resolutions as being an excuse for strong and substantive action to end the war as quickly as possible."

-Forwarded by Jenny Hanniver from a post by AndyJ



In response to the John Edwards Health Insurance Plan, Robert Chapman writes:

So this is a smart, serious proposal. It addresses both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system. And every candidate should be pressed to come up with something comparable.

With the information available to me in writing this response, I am willing to grant, in arguendo, Mr. Scardapane's assertion that the Edwards' health insurance is what he characterizes above. I agree very strongly with Mr. Scardapane's secondary point that all candidates should be pressed to come up with something comparable.

Health insurance, environmental protection and other issues are important and, in my opinion, voters should know what they are voting for when they push the levers in the voting booth.

I would like to propose, as an activist, that the Democratic Party take its platform very seriously this time around, hold a mid-session platform writing convention and withhold, endorsements, funding and support from any candidates who do not endorse the platform. We voters have enough on our plate figuring out which candidate has the best personal attributes to be President, we should not be required to decipher the permutations and tweaking of policy proposals that passes for issues debate in our campaigns.

If we progressives want to stand for something and if we want our Democratic vote to mean anything, a coherent, democratically produced and binding platform is a good starting point.



But Billie M. Speight, in disagreement, writes the following:

Edwards' plan and Krugman's endorsement of it was a great disappointment. Didn't anybody notice the part about REQUIRING people to buy healthcare? The result of that is that the health insurance companies make more money and cover less because all people can afford are stripped down plans that cover almost nothing. That is worse than having no insurance because now a person would have to pay for a plan that offers practically nothing PLUS everything else out of pocket.

If that becomes the law of the land I'm either going to have to hightail it out of this country or break the law. But I will NOT buy a stripped down plan and then pay for all my medicines too. And of course, this is a perfect way for employers to drop their plans.

Single-payer healthcare with everybody in and nobody out is the way to go--like the rest of the civilized world.



And Carol F. Yost adds to Billie's thoughts with this:

In response to the Krugman article on John Edwards' healthcare plan:

Edwards is responding to the fact that people really do want national healthcare that covers everybody. However, he feels sorry for those long-suffering insurance companies who are worried that their totally unnecessary existence could be done away with. (They also probably contribute to his Presidential campaign, as they do to those of other candidates.)

Well they might worry; yet, under the new version of HR 676, proposed by Rep. John Conyers, we would not only get national single-payer healthcare without an insurance company in sight, but the employees of the to-be-defunct insurance companies would be granted a two-year unemployment insurance while they looked for new jobs. Those companies have been in business not to provide needed healthcare but to fund as little healthcare as possible while they make as much money as possible. And they're not the doctors, nurses, specialists who actually take care of you. They're in the way.

Edwards, who I think is admirable in many ways, is still trying to appease people who need no appeasing. Insurance companies have become identified with the "American way of life," but we don't need them. In case anybody is worrying about what getting rid of them might mean, think, as many single-payer advocates have said, of the police and fire departments, to name just two of many government services we never get billed for. We don't have to pay insurance companies to get police and fire protection. There are no monthly premiums, deductibles, co-pays, 80%-20% rates, uncovered services, doughnut holes, participating and non-participating providers, spending caps, time limits; there's no fine print. You just get fire and police protection, period.

If you are mugged and the police assist you, you will never see a bill. There will never be an extra charge for the handcuffs used to restrain the suspect, or for the gas expended in car-chasing him; you will not have to pay an hourly rate for the time it took to take down your information and catch him; you will not be charged for the time you spent in the police station. Each police officer involved will not present you with a separate bill. Nor will you see bills from any back-room guys you never met. You will not have to pay for any of the expenses involved in keeping the suspect in jail, including daily cell rates and food. Nor will you have to deal with an insurance company, which will tell you how much it will pay and how much you'll have to pay (mostly what you'll have to pay). How do you get all this without having to see a bill, when your health, surely a necessity and a right as much as police and fire protection, is covered and uncovered with a sea of loopholes, bills and catch-22's?

People have scrimped on their healthcare because they couldn't afford all the care and prescription drugs they really needed. It's like letting the firefighters save only half your house because you couldn't afford to pay them to save your entire house--if they had to be paid that way. This way the whole house eventually burns down. Be sure, with the Edwards plan, the insurance companies will continue to use all their tricks to cover as little as possible, even if you do get help in paying their premiums.

Let's all get on the same page. HR 676 is the way to go NOW. Check the Healthcare-NOW! website, www.healthcare-now.org, for details of the bill. Eliminate the middleman! Get help from your doctor and nurse the same way your police officer and firefighter will help you, without your having to worry about how much it will cost.



In response to Rhian's insane hospital charges and "The total bill for this, not including the doctors charges, was $28,000. Lab work charges were reasonable.
Hospital charges were reasonable. The charge for the actual serum was close to $1500 per dose," Robert Scardapane writes:

That is totally outlandish. Any health care system - single payer, multi payer, mandated insurance - that doesn't control prices will be a failure.
No doctor should charge that much for a series of shots.


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-Noah Greenberg