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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note from a Madman

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


McCain as Bush III

JON STEWART: Add 10,000 (troops) to support Baghdad is not a strategy.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: They will have a strategy.
JON STEWART: Add 350,000 and we have a shot.

Above was just a very, very small part of an exchange between Stewart and McCain from yesterday's The Daily Show. I give McCain credit for appearing on the show as a frequent guest whose audience - shall we say - is more left than right of center. But that doesn't mean that he isn't plain wrong. McCain kept on spouting the phrase, "But we're here now," making the sacrifices that our soldiers have made seem inconsequential as compared to the sacrifices which they will make in the near and far off future.

And the problem is that those others who support the president's failed policies in Iraq want to continue with those failed policies because, as their argument goes, to NOT continue them would result in chaos in both Iraq and the rest of the middle east.

Then just what do we have now?

It's like Stewart said to McCain 9and I paraphrase): If you hire an architect to build you a house; and that house has no doors or windows, would you then rehire that architect to build windows so you could look into the house?

In other words, when the President says "trust me", we have to answer with the question "Why would we?" McCain thinks that we should.

Even now, somehow, McCain is still stating that the "surge" is working due to the reduced amount of killings in Baghdad. Of course this negates the fact that the rest of the nation is falling apart. And what could make any American crazy is to realize that this seems to be the "strategy" employed in Afghanistan which has led to an American (and allies) -defended capital city of Kabul at the sacrifice of the rest of the nation.

Hey, maybe McCain should go to downtown Kabul with a couple of his favorite GOP Senate mates; taking a squad of American troops and a couple of Apache attack helicopters with him; and buy a couple of rugs at discount prices. That'll teach us Progressives a lesson, won't it?

Stewart makes a point which I have made many times previously: Either get out or get more troops, as an international force, involved in Iraq. He's right when he says that 350,000 more troops would be a good start, but it isn't a new strategy. some of you might remember the Powell Doctrine which argued for the use of an overwhelming force which would not only win the short war, but could keep a peace so that insurgents and foreign fighters, such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, wouldn't grab a foot-hold.

McCain chastised both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-NV) for his words stating that the war in Iraq is lost, echoing the words and not the sentiment. As Stewart pointed out to McCain, Reid was merely stating what so many before have states: That a military solution isn't possible and that only diplomacy as a political solution have a chance to work. Although all the president's men seem to agree in words, their actions keep betraying them. McCain might be right when he says that we have to have security established on the ground before the political solution could take hold, but what he fails to see is that we may never get to that point. Does this mean that Iraq is indefinite, generational or a never-ending conflict?

For some reason McCain and his swerving straight talk express seem intent on sticking to Bushco Road, avoiding the necessary detour, and continue to drive toward the cliff's end that awaits.

It amazes me that no one person has asked McCain where he sees Iraq at the end of his first term as president. How does he see the situation changing on the ground to allow us the graceful exit we al desire? Exactly what will he do different from the Bushies to extract our youth from Iraq and bring them home to their families?

“Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement. That’s their right. But it is wrong for our troops and it’s wrong for our country.”

You will have a bill you could sign, Mr. Bush. It's a bill that makes sense and has the best interests of our soldiers at heart. it's a bill that should have been sent to your desk prior to this year, but never would have, because of a willing congress eager to do your bidding. It's a bill that you won't sign because it doesn't give in to your way, and we all know that those named Bush always get their way.

One wonders what McCain would really say if he were the McCain of old. Where have all the Mavericks gone?

-Noah Greenberg

Rudy's Road to the GOP Nomination paved with Sleaze

What to do when your lead in the GOP presidential sweepstakes shrinks from 14 down to 11 percent? You find your enemy and attack him (her or them). And this is just what Rudy Giuliani decided to do today with this statement:

“if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001. But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.”
-Giuliani in New Hampshire yesterday

Hey... I thought that a Republican WAS in charge for eight months prior to the 911 attacks. I thought that there WAS at least one house of Congress led by the Republican party for six-plus years prior to the terrorist attacks of 911. Come to think of it, New York had a mayor for almost eight years who continuously ignored the voices of his police, firemen and emergency medical technicians prior to the terrorist attacks of 911.

If memory serves me correctly, Rudy Giuliani was mayor for BOTH World Trade Center terrorist attacks. What did Rudy learn from the 1993 attack which killed ONLY (comparatively speaking, of course) six people? NOTHING AT ALL. Did the NYPD and the NYFD have radios that shared the same frequencies? Of course not.

Come to think of it, again relying on my questionable memory, Giuliani's approval rating on September 10, 2001 was somewhere around where Bush's approval ratings are today.


Now one might think that this is a stupid remark by the thrice married former mayor of NYC whose own son and daughter don't appear to be backing him. But upon further examination, it's genius. By stating those words, then reiterating them on Sean Hannity's hate-and-bash-the-Dems radio show (WABC-AM, New York), America's mayor, as he likes to be known, has put himself clearly in front of the other Republican hopefuls in the eyes of those on the right who will be voting in the GOP primaries at the beginning of 2008.

There will be a question to the candidates during tomorrow night's first Democratic presidential debate about Giuliani's remarks, making him the guy to beat in the eyes of many.

Focus the hate - Focus the love. and of there isn't any love, then focus the hate some more, right Rudy?

I guess Rudy feels that this administration, and the rest of the Greedy Old Party, have screwed things up so much that they can now recognize mistakes BEFORE they happen. After all, after micromanaging the Generals and the boots on the ground from even before day one of the Iraq war, they are now telling us that this is exactly what the Democrats want to do. When General Eric Shinseki told us all that the Iraq war, and its aftermath, would require a half-million troops, he was asked to retire. When former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn't want to hear about needing more troops in Iraq, he threatened to fire the next guy who had the temerity to even suggest it.

Even when then-new CENTCOM commander came to Rumsfeld with his predecessor, General Anthony Zinni's plan to invade Iraq, which called for about that same half-million troops number, Rummy continuously sent him back to reduce the force and rush the attack stating that he couldn't bring this to the President and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Read any one of Bob Woodward's last three books - it's astonishing!)

Giuliani is relying on those same scare-'em tactics which have proved so useful to the Bushies and the Republicans up until we got smart (or smarter) in 2006. And he must think this is the path to winning the hearts (the little black ones) and minds (equally as small) of the far-righters who have questioned his "conservative" credentials thus far. Catering to the lowest common denominator has become a GOP trademark since the Bushies came into office.

Even the likes of former House majority leader, Tom DeLay is getting into the action once again.

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "are getting very, very close to treason,"

yeah,,, he ought to know. BY the way, it was DeLay and his House majority in 1999 who berated Bill Clinton for invading Kosovo and demanded our troops be brought home AFTER JUST ONE MONTH!. We didn't lose one US military man or woman there and their infamous leader, Slobodan Milosovic was deposed.

Giuliani has discovered the GOP fountain of crap and he intends to use it at his leisure. His remarks have forced Democratic Presidential Candidates to come out and lambaste him.

“Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics. America’s mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure. I think we should focus on strengthening our intelligence, working with local authorities and doing all the things we haven’t yet done to keep Americans safe. The threat we face is real, and deserves better than to be the punchline of another political attack.”
-Senator Barak Obama (DEMOCRAT-IL)

“There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm. If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it’s that political rhetoric won’t do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change.
One of the great tragedies of this Administration is that the President failed to keep this country unified after 9/11. We have to protect our country from terrorism – it shouldn’t be a Democratic fight or a Republican fight. The plain truth is that this Administration has done too little to protect our ports, make our mass transit safer, and protect our cities. They have isolated us in the world and have let Al Qaeda regroup. The next President is going to be left with these problems and will have to do what it takes to make us safer and bring Democrats and Republicans together around this common mission of protecting our nation. That is exactly what has to be done and what I am ready to do.”
-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (DEMOCRAT-NY)

And former North Carolina Democratic Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards put it best, scolding Giuliani and telling us all that he should know better than to say that there is a “superior Republican way to fight terrorism.”

He does know better, senator Edwards. Divide the people and use the loyals to get your way. His teacher was President Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the rest of the GOP swift-boat sleaze machine.

-Noah Greenberg


John Aravosis details how The Hill (and several leading cultural conservative groups) have published the work of David Cameron, who heads an organization labeled a “hate group” by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center. Some of what Cameron espouses:

He told the 1985 Conservative Political Action Committee conference that “extermination of homosexuals” might be needed in the next three to four years. He has advocated tattooing AIDS patients in the face, and banishment to a former leper colony for any patient who resisted. He has called for gay bars to be closed and gays to be registered with the government.

For those still inexplicably wondering about the real distinction between the Republicans and the Democrats.

-Submitted with comments by Victoria Brownworth

And This:

“After three hours of impassioned debate the Connecticut General Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 27-15 to approve a bill that would make gay marriage legal in that state. It will now head to the House of Representatives.” The “most powerful moment came when state Rep. Beth Bye (D) spoke publicly for the first time at the legislature” about her same-sex relationship:

As tears rolled down her cheeks, Bye told members of the committee how her deeply religious father has come to accept and support her and her female partner. ‘My father, a devout Catholic, … has moved on this issue because he loves his daughter. He thinks of me as married,’ said Bye. ‘The broader world does not see me as married.’ Her voice shaking, Bye explained how, on her partner’s pension documents, she has been listed as ‘Other’ because she didn’t fit into any of the traditional legal categories. ‘I don’t want to be ‘Other,” insisted Bye, ‘I want to be married.’

-Submitted by Victoria A. Brownworth

First Freedom(?); Ancient Law (?); Second Amendment - A Bit of History

Here's some history on the complicated issue of guns in American culture. I'd have to agree with the NRA that the 2nd Amendment is, in a sense, the "first" freedom. It is the direct descendant of a clause in the Statute of Winchester of 1285, which is considered by most students of dissent (as I am) to be the first and only Medieval English law containing rights that were almost instantly favorable to the disenfranchised lower classes. Not Magna Carta, not the Provisions of Oxford, not even the antipapal and liberalizing reformist Good Parliament of 1376 which instituted impeachment of corrupt officials and a Speaker of the House of Commons, had any direct and immediate bearing on the rights and liberties of the economically poor and the socially unfree. The Statute of Winchester did. Whenever I re-read it I am always impressed by the fact that it has never been forgotten. Generations of rebels involved in English and American political dissent have quoted it. We would have NO personal rights and liberties without it. Even when Parliament itself was crushed under tyranny during the era of the Tudors and early Stuarts, no king dared ignore the Statue of Winchester. England's rebels and religious dissenters used it--but so did England's armed forces.

King Edward I, the author of the Statute, was no liberal! He was a warmongering, imperialist, land-grabbing king who browbeat his noblemen to support his wars in Wales, Ireland, France, Scotland, Flanders, and the Holy Land. However, the feudal noblemen--drained dry of money, men, and resources--hated him and resisted vehemently, so Edward (who was no dummy) drummed up money and manpower from the commons, the majority population, first creating a "House" of Commons populated by rich merchants, then, in a shrewdly calculated move, turning to the rural poor, free and unfree. In one of those common instances of a mixed result when there is an opening of opportunity, Edward decided that the poor would fight his wars. They did, and those of his grandson, Edward III, and of his thrice-great grandson Henry V. And it was not all their loss--far from it.

The important clause of the Statute of Winchester granted all English males between 16 and 60--including bondmen!--the right to bear arms. In our day it's hard to comprehend just how revolutionary this was. In the other Western Christian countries which had a population of serfs, the unfree had no rights at all, or only meagre ones insisted on by churchmen, and the poor in their cottages, tofts & crofts were treated as dependents, not as real men who might contribute to society, even if it was only a military contribution. Winchester, for the first time, gave pride to the Saxon, Danish and Celtic peasantry who had been robbed, raped, murdered, kept poor, insulted, and demeaned in over 200 years of Norman rule. Social mobility, hitherto frozen, exploded and released megatons of energy (mostly on the ruination of France). Hundreds of poor peasants became rich from loot during the first part of the Hundred Years' War with France, which began officially in 1337. I know of at least two villeins (bondmen) who were freed and later knighted. A fishmonger's son got rich in the wool trade, his descendants married into the nobility and became near-contenders to the throne. In 14th century England social climbing was "in" for the first time.

But the basic purpose of the Statute clause was not to raise up the poor, but to populate the army. That was made clear in a subsidiary clause forcing the poor and the unfree to fight for the defense of England. The law specified that the liberty of bearing arms was granted for the purpose of forming local infantry militias that could be called up instantly by local lords in the event of attack on England. Thus, the new arms-bearing poor were enjoined not only to own arms (in 1285, a bow and arrow, knife, or spear) but to practice military skills every Sunday after church. If a poor man could not afford to buy a weapon, the landlord was to furnish it. Every churchyard set up archery "butts" (straw or wooden targets) and very quickly English longbowmen, the tallest ones drawing 6-foot bows with a 60-pound pull or even heavier, and shooting heavy lead-filled war arrows a yard long, became skilled and deadly. They could shoot a furlong's distance, send 7 or 8 arrows while a crossbow was being rewound, and pierce even plate armor. Important battles were won in 1342, 1346, and 1415 not by English cavalry, but by armed peasants wielding longbows. Because of the English bowmen, Europe's armored heavy cavalry went into decline half a century before cannon became really important to warfare. William Bohun, Earl of Northampton (1312?-1360), is long forgotten, but was the primary author of this military revolution. He was the great strategy-and-tactics English general who dismounted his knights and turned them into infantry swordsmen supporting the bowmen(!) and who instituted intensive military drill to maintain a steady field of fire. He commanded the victories at Morlaix in 1342 and at Crecy in 1346, with negligible losses to England while thousands of French noblemen, including allied kings, were strewn with their dead horses all over the field, riddled with arrows. I consider Northampton to be England's most gifted military commander, greater than Wellington--but without the Statute of Winchester he would have had few skilled bowmen.

Although militias were the purpose of the statute, we who are suspicious of firearms should understand that weapons have often been used in the defense of liberty. Winchester almost immediately was recognized BY THE POOR as a revolutionary step in their own empowerment, and one of the demands of the misnamed "Peasants' Revolt" of 1381--actually a widespread, socially inclusive anarcho-communist-democratic-anticlerical-congregationalist-libertarian revolution--was that the Statute of Winchester be the only basis of national law in England! Among many other modern-sounding demands, the central government was to be disbanded, all government decentralized to the shires and hundreds, just as the Church was to be turned over to congregations and the monastics and bishops deposed. All the oppressive and hated Forest Laws, Wool Staple statutes, tolls, tariffs, etc., even Magna Carta which privileged the baronage and well-to-do freemen, were to be discarded. But the rebels admired Winchester because of its emphasis on the individual and local. Because of it, in 1381 the poor and the unfree, full of energy and pride and knowing their power, rebelled against every law and institution we associate with Medieval rulership and the Medieval Church. One admiring historian rightly called the 1381 Revolt "the most democratic revolution ever attempted in England." The Statute of Winchester, allowing the poor and unfree to own arms and become skilled in their use, allowed the events of 1381. Even after its defeat, the permanent threat of further risings, the subsequent freeing of villeins and a soaring 300% increase in the real wages of skilled and unskilled laborers, brought on the so-called "golden age of English wage labor".

See James Madison's opinion of the 2nd Amendment. He and the other Founders deliberately incorporated the Amendment's history and purposes into its wording. As a history student and passionate defender of civil liberties, I would be reluctant to change the wording of the 2nd Amendment. I definitely support a careful legal definition (not deletion) of the two words ". . .and bear". . . Bearing arms has always been regulated in England. University cities like Oxford, where fights broke out every night, banned weapons altogether. Many places in the U.S. have banned firearms, including New York City with its Sullivan Law. The right to "bear" arms needs very careful definition to protect citizens. What is imperative is to set a rational (and national) policy on how, when and where firearms can be carried.

To provide basic information, another list is needed--a national database with names, drivers licenses, and photographs of potentially violent people to whom weapons can't be sold, with serious prosecution of anyone selling firearms to those on the database. Ownership of types of arms needs much more careful defining to establish a dividing line between what is permissible, like hunting rifles, shotguns and non-repeating pistols, and those that are impermissible like automatic and other assault weapons. This was tried in the Brady Bill, but never went far enough to make all assault weapons impermissible. Galloping technology demands a rethinking of what can't be owned by a private citizen. I don't think even the most extreme NRA fanatic would be happy if the family next door owned a nuclear warhead or even an arsenal of biological or chemical weaponry. Yet all fall into the category of "arms."

-Jenny Hanniver

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-Noah Greenberg