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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

March 30, 2008


Play Ball!
(Just Not Everyone)

It's all about perceptions and association. It doesn't matter that nearly 60 million Americans don't have health care insurance or if gas prices are rise at one-thousand percent more than any other measurable index. The Bushies are only concerned that the very, very small number of Americans who still think that they're doing a good job. And towards that end, this little ditty in the Newark Star-Ledger's sports section this past Sunday made me chuckle, uncomfortably:

"The White House said it had no input on the decision to have (Team Manager Manny) Acta catch tonight's ceremonial first pitch from President Bush. Acta was picked instead of starting catcher Paul Lo Duca, whose name appeared prominently in the Mitchell (Steroids in baseball) report.

"'It was a decision made by the (Washington) Nationals (Major League Baseball Club),' a White House spokesman said.

Nationals' President Stan Kasten said Lo Duca was never considered."

Just to get this straight, the Washington Nationals of MLB's National League didn't want President Bush to throw the first ceremonial pitch of this season to someone who was merely accused of taking steroids. Somehow they must feel that it's an insult to thee man. Of course, the drug's use didn't deter the cellar-dwellers from obtaining the all-star catcher who played for the New York Mets last season.

Lo Duca, who Kasten says "was never considered" to be behind the plate for the pitch, if healthy, will tart somewhere between 125 and 150 games for the Nationals this year. The team will sell Lo Duca Number 16 uniforms for upwards of $120 apiece and they'll probably have a Lo Duca bobble-headed doll which you can place next to your plastic deity of choice on your dashboard.

But they won't allow Lo Duca - a citizen of the United States - to catch just one pitch, or shake the hand of President Bush to begin their season this year. Acta, the manager and pre-game catcher, has never played one inning in the major leagues.

So, any or all of you baseball knowledgeable people may ask, why isn't backup catcher, 23 year old Jesus Flores, going to be the man behind the plate for that one play. Well, you're all going to love this one. Ready?

He's from Venezuela, the home of Bush antagonist and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez!

I laughed so hard when I saw that, I cried.

One wonders if big Bush supporter and pitcher on the Boston Red Sox Curt Shilling would pitch to Lo Duca if they were teammates. Maybe all Bush-supporting major leaguers who have to share the plate during a game against Lo Duca's Nationals should boycott those games. Or perhaps, on the President's say-so, Lo Duca should be removed from baseball for the coming year so as not to cast doubt on the National's decision to sit him for the pre-game pitch.

I would have liked to be in on the phone call (the one that never existed, according to Kasten) from the Bush White House to the National's front office on the Lo Duca subject. I probably went something like this:

KASTEN: Hello. Stan Kasten speaking.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Hey, Stanny-Boy. This is President Bush. I'd like to throw out the first pitch this week. Is that okay?
KASTEN: Of course, sir. We'd be honored.
BUSH: There's just one thing. I can't throw it to that guy - Paul leDuco, er, Lo Duci - well, you know who I mean.
KASTEN: But why sir? He's the best player we have.
BUSH: Yeah, but he took an illegal drug. And I can tell you that, well, I just shouldn't be around anyone taking a drug, you know?
KASTEN: Yes sir. We'll have Manager Manny Acta start backup catcher Jesus Flores for the game. Is that alright?
BUSH: Sure great. Thanks. See ya' there.
(Hangs up)

KASTEN: Hello. Stan Kasten speaking.
BUSH: Hey, it's me again, President Bush.
KASTEN: Yes sir.
BUSH: Cheney here wants me to ask where this guy Flora's from.
KASTEN: Flores is from Venezuela, sir.
BUSH: Dick says that ain't good. Who else ya' got?
KASTEN: How about manager Acta?
BUSH: Where's he from?
KASTEN: The Dominican Republic.
BUSH( (slightly distant): Is that okay Dick?
(growling heard in background)
BUSH: He'll do. See y'all there.
(hangs up)

KASTEN: What a putz!

Of course the President's priorities are all screwed up. All one has to do is take a look at just about any one of his policies and how he implements them to see that.

Bush should have just traveled the 45 miles up to Baltimore to have one of their catchers receive that first pitch. But their catchers, starter Ramon Hernandez and backup Guillermo Quiroz are also from Venezuela. Bush should have traveled to Arlington, Texas to have one of their two Californians catch his pitch instead. And he could have had another vacation to boot!

Oh well. Another opportunity missed, I guess.

-Noah Greenberg

The Surge Has Failed

Factions of Shiite militia are fighting each other for control of Basra while "government" troops are abandoning the battle. Meanwhile, riots broke out in Baghdad and there now is a curfew. In addition, the Sunni militia are no longer playing along with us because we stopped our 10 dollar a day pay off. To make it really "wonderful", there is a war between the Kurds and Turkey. Can it possibly be worst? The sad answer is yes! Thousands of people will die because of the McCain and Bush occupation.

It's time for us to say it plainly; the surge has failed. From the NYT article "Assault by Iraq on Shiite Forces Stalls in Basra "

BAGHDAD - American-trained Iraqi security forces failed for a third straight
day to oust Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra on Thursday,
even as President Bush hailed the operation as a sign of the growing strength of Iraq's federal government.

The fighting in Basra against the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the political movement led by the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, set off clashes in cities throughout Iraq. Major demonstrations were staged in a number of Shiite areas of Baghdad, including Sadr City, the huge neighborhood that is Mr. Sadr's base of power.

Although Mr. Bush praised the Iraqi government for leading the fighting, it also appeared that the Iraqi government was pursuing its own agenda, calling the battles a fight against "criminal" elements but seeking to marginalize the Mahdi Army.

The Americans share the Iraqi government's hostility toward what they call rogue elements of the Mahdi Army but will also be faced with the consequences if the battles among Shiite factions erupt into more widespread unrest.

The violence underscored the fragile nature of the security improvements partly credited to the American troop increase that began last year.
Officials have acknowledged that a cease-fire called by Mr. Sadr last August has contributed to the improvements. Should the cease-fire collapse entirely, those gains could be in serious jeopardy, making it far more difficult to begin bringing substantial numbers of American troops home.

Although Sadr officials insisted on Thursday that the cease-fire was still in effect, Mr. Sadr has authorized his forces to fight in self-defense, and the battles in Basra appear to be eroding the cease-fire.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

Not a Happy Anniversary

March 29 was the 20th Anniversary of the Day After the Meltdown at Three Mile Island.

It's hard to say 'Happy Anniversary.' However, no new nuclear power plants have been ordered built. The last one to come on line, in Tennessee, took 23 years to complete.

This is in part because of Three Mile Island, and its sister-disaster, Chernobyl. While the American nuclear power industry says 'We do it better' the truth of the matter is that American reactors are safer because American anti-nuclear power activists have forced American nuclear operators to build in redundant safety systems.

And it is also because the investment bankers on Wall Street, the "heroes" of Enron and Bear Stearns, have learned, by watching Three Mile Island (safely, from NY, NY - 200 miles away) how quickly a Billion Dollar investment can become a Five Billion Dollar Toxic Waste Dump.

For some of our neighbors "routine" releases of radioactive materials have become, well, routine. They are content in the belief that someone else is on top of things, and comfortable with the notion that they can buy their way out of trouble. Others, the people reading this e-mail, working full time or part time to shut-down the nuclear power industry and stop global warming, know the NRC is more like 'Nuclear Rubberstamping Commissars' than 'Nuclear Regulatory Commission' others

We know there 'ain't no such thing as clean coal' that there are alternatives to nuclear and coal - solar, wind, marine current, geothermal - the clean sustainable technologies, and conservation, 'negawatts' - doing more with less - insulating our homes, driving fuel efficient cars. These technologies don't contribute to global warming, don't put mercury and other toxics in the food we eat, donít create radioactive wastes, and make our nation more secure.

-Larry Furman

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-Noah Greenberg