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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, August 13, 2007

 

"MC Rove"

"MC Rove" as Karl Rove (a.k.a. The President's Brain) referred to himself at the White House Correspondent's Dinner is leaving the White House and leaving the side of President Bush at the end of the month.

Does anyone else remember the words to "Ding, Dong the with is Dead?"

Rove, the second most powerful rat on the Executive Branch ship (assuming, of course, that rat number one, Dick Cheney, is actually part of the Executive Branch) has decided it's time to move on. One wonders if this is a play to keep him from having to testify before Congress in various ongoing investigations. Maybe his plan is to go someplace where there is no extradition treaty with the US.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us. He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends."
-White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino

Maybe Rove is leaving because it would be easier to "take the fifth" as a private citizen than as an employee of the American people.

Rove is just the latest rodent to put on a life jacket and jump off the bad ship Bushco. After the initial purge of non-Bushies (those not loyal to the President) were forced out of the White House (Original Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Anti-Terrorism Czar Richard Clark; Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki; etc.); and the second term resignations of the likes of Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft, all seemed smooth sailing for the Bush Globalist Privateers on their political seas. The had a majority in both houses, friendly judges and a main stream media who continued to give them the benefit of the doubt even when there was no doubt as to their misdeeds.

However, something happened in 2006. The GOP lost their majorities in both houses, with the Senate being much more of a surprise. This resulted in those gnat-ish Democrats gaining power and, more precisely, the power of subpoena. As a result, the past few months have seen the White House hunker down and use "Executive Privilege" as a device to hide from the American people.

I guess we now know what the last refuge of scoundrels really is.

On has to wonder where Rove will land next. Is the "private sector" calling? Maybe a lengthy lecture circuit is calling. Or maybe there's a GOP presidential candidate willing to sell his soul in exchange for Rove's services. Today on CNN's morning show, upbeat (and slim) candidate Mike Huckabee, when asked if he wanted Rove's help said, "I wouldn't turn down anybody's help." Scary, huh?

Rove is supposed to write a book after his departure. It's just too bad that the title "Mein Kampf" was already taken.

"I just think it's time,
"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family,"
-Rove

By the way, Rove's son lives on campus. Smart kid.

Rove has made some predictions about our nation's future, including a Republican gaining the White House in 2008. Let's hope that this prediction goes the way of his "The Republican Party will keep both houses and gain seats" prediction just prior to the 2006 GOP massacre.

-Noah Greenberg



... and if That Weren't Enough for One Day, check this out:

It turns out that during an interview with the American Enterprise Institute, none other than Dick Cheney told the questioner from the ultra-conservative Think-Tank that an invasion of Iraq would end up being - are you ready for this? - a "QUAGMIRE".

In the interview with his employer (at the time, Cheney was working at the American Enterprise Institute), Cheney described President H.W. Bush's decision regarding the capture or killing of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as the "right" one. Cheney was Bush's (41) Secretary of Defense during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm so his opinion would have been counted highly.

"146 Americans killed in action (Desert storm, 1991), it wasn't a cheap war. The question of the President, whether or not we went on to Baghdad is, and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, is how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many, and I think we got it right."
-Cheney
Let's talk about "cheap wars" for a moment, shall we? Just what the hell is this was that you and your ilk have gotten us into anyway? Cheney described, almost to a "T" exactly what would happen in a poorly planned war in the Middle East.

"If we had gone into Baghdad we would have been all alone - we wouldn't have had anyone with us. We wouldn't have had anyone willing to fight with us the way we would have been willing to invade Iraq."
-Cheney

Of course the Bushies would point to their "Coalition of the Willing", which comprised a mere fraction of the forces needed for a lengthy occupation in a hostile environment. Cheney, in his 1994 reasoning, explained that any coalition would not only have to include UN and NATO forces, but it would also have to include Iraq's Arab neighbors, something we suggested here in Nationalview.org in June 2004.

I sure wish someone would read this stuff.

"Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government of Iraq, then you're going to see parts of Iraq fly off. Part of it, the Syrians would like to have in the West. Part of Eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim. In the north, you've got the Kurds, and the Kurds get loose and would join with the Kurds in Turkey - you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey."
-Cheney

And just like then private citizen Cheney predicted, there was (and still is) a power vacuum in Iraq which this Cheney, the Vice President, has helped along And those "parts of Iraq" that are "flying off" have wings supplied by the Bush administration themselves.

So what has changed since Bush's (41) Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney left office and 2003, when he was an integral part of the Plan of Attack (as Bob Woodward out it)? Certainly Cheney didn't want a Democratic administration (Bill Clinton's) to finish what his boss' refused to. Remember that just after Desert Storm the Bush (41) White House allowed Saddam to exterminate tens of thousands (if not more) of his subjects. It was Cheney's Defense Department that turned the other way as helicopters flew in the "no-fly zone" to carry out that calamity.

And secondly, it wasn't long after the American Enterprise Institute interview that Cheney took over the reigns at Halliburton, a post that made him millions as their CEO and millions more as he sat in the seat next to the President of the United States.

I wonder when he got that idea?

-Noah Greenberg



HOW BIG ARE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINTS?
A Beginner’s Guide to Saving the Planet
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.


It’s been a harsh summer. Next year will be worse.

Tornados in Brooklyn. Droughts in Utah and Minnesota. Floods in Oklahoma. Forest fires in California, Idaho and New Jersey. Record heat across the country.
Utah has faced the worst drought since the Great Depression. Minnesota is in the midst of its worst drought since 1976. Flash floods like the one that crippled the New York transit system on August 8th have occurred regularly in many states.

Yet as bad as those floods have been, they can’t compare with the floods that have displaced 20 million people in India. Nor can the droughts out West match the drought that threatens to displace the entire continent of Australia if it doesn’t abate.

Weather extremes have been increasing over the past decade, a direct result of global warming. Scientists explain that increased evaporation in the Earth’s atmosphere due to greenhouse gases and carbon emissions cause more extreme weather: more intense flooding, drought, tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, snowstorms. There is less protection in the atmosphere from violent weather changes.

The result of these weather extremes can already be seen throughout Southeast Asia. With hundreds dying and millions homeless from extreme weather, the disaster zone is huge. Disease now threatens to kill and sicken these millions of displaced persons because there is no clean water and no food. Hundreds of thousands are marooned on top of their now-submerged homes. Imagine the scenes of Katrina two years ago, multiplied by millions and, as with Katrina, no help from the government in sight.

This is the image of global warming, this is what looms ahead for all of us if we don’t change now.

The debate over global warming has long been over among scientists. The only people still balking at the grim reality are conservative politicians whose links to big business are inextricable.

As long as political leaders like George Bush, China’s Hu Jintao or India’s Dr. Manmohan Singh continue to ignore the damage being done to the planet by the U.S., China and India, the world’s top polluters, the danger to all of us will only increase.

There are 6.6 billion people in the world. The three most populous countries are China, with 1.4 billion people, India, with 1.1 billion and the U.S., with 302,000,000. These are also the prime polluters. The U.S. currently has the technology to immediately change its emissions standards and begin reversing the problems wrought by global warming.

Throughout Europe, attention to carbon emissions and greenhouse gases has been a matter of grave concern for years. Individual countries like Germany and France have passed legislation requiring rapid decrease in carbon emissions in the next decade. And the EU as a whole has voted to do the same.

Yet the top polluters continue to balk at change. China and India are in the midst of intense economic and industrial growth and neither nation wants to cut back on any aspect of industry, no matter what the cost to the planet. Throughout the Bush Administration’s tenure, the President and his cronies have weakened already existing protections against water, air and other pollution.

Carbon footprints, however, are made not just by corporations; they are made by the individuals who comprise a nation. They are made by*us.*

What is a carbon footprint? A carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 –carbon dioxide--and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product, service or individual. Each of us has carbon footprints, some more damaging than others. Each of us is contributing to the dying of our planet and each of us can reduce the amount of damage we do by becoming aware of our actions. Each of us must take responsibility for our carbon footprints and reduce our impact on the environment.

The first step is to think about what you use, what you waste and where the waste goes.

In lower Germantown, where I live, almost no one thinks about these issues. The waste is profound. On my block, only three houses out of 40 recycle. That means on my block alone–a block where almost every house has between two and ten occupants–cans, bottles, paper and plastic are going directly to a landfill where they will never biodegrade, instead of being re-used.

Recycling is the simplest act toward reducing carbon footprints. In Philadelphia, recycling is picked up every week and on the same day as trash pickup. All anyone has to do is put the products for recycling in the containers provided by the city. It’s incredibly simple.

Each week I have between three and four paper bags filled with paper recycling: newspapers, junk mail, envelopes, cardboard containers. My entire recycling can is filled with cans and bottles. If all the families on my block that are *not* recycling are putting even a tenth of what I recycle in the trash (and they are likely putting ten times as much, since there are only two people in my household), the carbon emissions caused by tossing all this into a landfill is exponential.

A few months ago a neighbor’s child asked me, “How come black people don’t recycle?” I think she, herself African American, asked me because the only people recycling on our block are white. But go to white neighborhoods like the Northeast and the same problems pertain. Very few people are recycling.

I asked her if she knew why we should recycle. She explained that it was “to save the earth.”

If a six year old understands that recycling is important, then why don’t her parents? Refusing to recycle is selfish. There’s no good excuse for it. The city could raise much-needed revenues by ticketing households that *don’t* recycle.

Don’t just recycle–buy recycled products. From Staples to Super Fresh to Trader Joe’s, recycled products are available and usually less expensive than products that aren’t recycled. Buying recycled paper products is another way to reduce your carbon footprints. They are just as good, but far better for the environment.

Around the corner from my house, a neighbor owns a Hummer, the most fuel inefficient vehicle in America. The average American compact car gets between 30 and 40 miles per gallon of gas. A Hummer gets eight. The more fuel we use, the more we damage the planet. SUV’s, minivans, trucks, Hummers–these are the worst offenders. A neighbor’s sister recently changed her fuel-efficient sedan for a big SUV. Since she’s single, I wanted to know why she would buy such a fuel-inefficient vehicle, given the price of gas and the crisis of global warming. Her thought was that someone else could get a smaller car to off-set her big one.

As I said: Selfish.

Yet her response mirrors the response of the U.S., China and India on global warming: Let someone else cut back on carbon emissions.

The thing is, if we don’t all do our part to help save the planet, the planet will die. It’s that simple. Would you rather drive a big car that you don’t need or keep your house from being flooded or catching fire from extreme weather? Doesn’t the choice seem easy?

In addition to recycling and cutting back our gas use, we can also do small things in our own homes to diminish our energy use.

As your light bulbs burn out, change them to compact fluorescents. Although these light bulbs cost more initially than incandescent bulbs, the cost is offset almost immediately because the bulbs last an average of five years, as opposed to the five months of a standard bulb.

The impact of changing the light bulbs in your home is the same as taking the exhaust emissions from thousands of cars off the road. And again, as with gas consumption and recycling, it’s simple to do. Every store now carries the bulbs. They are easy to find and easy to use.

Stop wasting electricity. This too is simple, and will also save money. Unplug appliances that are not being used. Turn off your computer when it’s not in use. Anything that is plugged into an outlet is using electricity, even if it is not turned on. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Put lights on timers, so that you waste even less electricity.

Another thing that Americans are guilty of is wasting water. We run our taps and our showers as if water was not the most precious commodity on the planet. More than two-thirds of the people on Earth do not have access to clean, potable water. Much of the developing world is dealing with drought. Drought in Africa has become lethal in many nations: Sudan, Lesotho, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique–all these countries are suffering from extreme drought and as in Australia, there is nowhere to get water except from the rain that is not falling.

Stop wasting water. This is as simple as thinking about how you use water. Ten gallons of water comes out of a faucet per minute. Since you pay for that water, saving water will also save you money.

Half of the U.S. is currently suffering from extreme drought. We can’t afford to waste water anymore than someone in Sydney can. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth or shave. Take shorter showers. Only run the dishwasher or washing machine with full loads. All these things will save thousands of gallons of water each year–and thousands of dollars and incomparable waste. In more than half the world women have to travel on foot for miles to bring home the number of gallons of water we waste in a minute of running the tap.

Go green. By this I mean stop decimating the landscape. I have one neighbor who seems to hate anything green. He cut down all the trees and hedges in his back yard and now it is nothing but scorched grass, because it gets too much sun and the earth is too dry to maintain the grass.

Trees are also our best defense against carbon dioxide: plants replace carbon dioxide with oxygen–they clean the air. The fewer trees and plants, the dirtier the air. The dirtier the air, the harder it is to breathe.

What’s more, trees and other foliage hold in moisture. They help retain the topsoil that is essential not just to growing our food, but also to maintaining our very homes. Trees and plants help anchor the earth. Without them there are mudslides and dust bowls. Stripping the earth of foliage is the quickest way to precipitate drought and create more desert in which nothing can live or grow. Trees create condensation which in turn gives us water. Think about it.

Go local. We lower carbon emissions when we buy food and other products that are grown and made closer to home.

Re-use. When you are finished with something–clothes, furniture, appliances–don’t just put it in the trash. Donate it to a charity like Goodwill, Purple Heart, the Salvation Army. Keep it out of the landfill. Everything can be recycled. If you aren’t sure how to do it, check out www.Lime.com which explains how to recycle everything.

There’s not a lot we can do from here to help the 20 million people displaced by the flooding in India other than giving money to NGOs that are helping the victims. But we *can* help reduce the carbon emissions and greenhouse gases that are creating these nightmarish extremes of weather by paying attention to our individual impact on the planet.

Make a pledge to going green with your whole family. Your children and grandchildren will have to live in the increasingly more awful conditions being wrought by global warming, so why not teach them how to recycle and be responsible about the planet? If my neighbor’s daughter is any barometer, many kids already know about global warming and going green because their favorite celebrities are talking about it all the time. Learn as a family what you can do to make the planet more habitable for all of us.

Write, email, call your congresspersons and tell them you want more environmentally sound legislation and protections. Walk instead of drive if the distance is short. Don’t throw anything away without thinking about where it will end up. Remember, how global warming became a crisis is because everyone thought someone else would pick up the slack.

Look at the photos of the millions displaced in India. Look at the consequences of the drought in Australia where the government is now trying to recycle sewage water for drinking–that’s how dire the water crisis is there.

The floods and tornadoes, drought and fires are all telling us something. (Tornadoes in *Brooklyn*?) It’s time we started to listen and began to save the planet while we still can.


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-Noah Greenberg