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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

April 27, 2008


McCain on Katrina

John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is attempting to get the Maverick" back in his game. And the vehicle he's using to get there is Hurricane Katrina.

McCain has been applying the Bush strategy of "stay the course" to so many of his would-be predecessor's policies that it's hard to imagine the once and future Maverick being hard on President Bush about anything.

"terrible and disgraceful,''
"Never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in this terrible and disgraceful manner,''
"History will judge this president,"
"This was an unacceptable scenario,"
-McCain after a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood without what appears to be a shot at ever being rebuilt, despite the promises of the Bush administration

McCain even went so far as to put some of the blame on Congress for the disaster and its aftermath:

"I would also place some of those responsibilities on the Congress, which funded pork barrel projects that were not only not needed but certainly not as important as some of the projects that were needed here,"

But what the Senator from Arizona failed to mention is that it was a REPUBLICAN Congress, a REPUBLICAN Senate, and a REPUBLICAN White House which performed "terribly and disgracefully." Also missing from McCain's walk and talk with new Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (REPUBLICAN) was the fact that while New Orleans was drowning, McCain was having a birthday bash in his home state with none other than President Bush as his guest of honor.

And after the get-together, President Bush did his fly-by of the tortured New Orleans as Air Force One buzzed a few thousand feet over head in order for Georgie-Boy to have a look-see.

I wish someone asked McCain why he hadn't insisted that President Bush, upon his arrival at the gala event, leave immediately and tend to the issues in our Gulf Coast. One also might ask why McCain didn't offer to go with President Bush. After all, he was a ranking member of the US Senate. Certainly his experience would have been welcome in such a catastrophe.

And even had McCain not done all that he should have (like canceling his party), certainly he could have suggested that after President Bush finished his last slice of Birthday cake that the President then tend to the problems in the Gulf Coast.

Shouldn't he?

McCain seems to realize that he is actually a part of our government and that leaders step forward during trying times. McCain has only blame to access and fingers to point, and none of it at himself.

True to form, John McCain is becoming the rightful heir of the Bush legacy. May it die a painful death come this November.

-Noah Greenberg

George W. Bush Lie-brary

The George W. Bush Presidential Lie-brary is now in the planning stages. You'll want to be the first on your block to make a contribution to this great man's legacy. The lie-brary will include:

-The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
-The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you can't remember anything.
-The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't have to even show up.
-The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
-The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
-The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room (which no one has been able to find).
-The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.
-The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.

Plans also include: The K-Street Project Gift Shop where you can buy (or just steal) an election. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators. Last, but not least, there will be an entire floor devoted to a 7/8 scale model of the President's ego To highlight the President's accomplishments, the museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate them. When asked, President Bush said that he didn't care so much about the individual exhibits as long as his museum was better than his father's.


Globalization Stinks!

Remember when this country had a thriving agricultural base? Shrimp was one product we raised domestically. Welcome to new world of globalization. Thailand and Bangladesh now import $4 billion worth of shrimp sold in U.S. retail stores and restaurants such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Sysco, Harris Teeter, IGA, Trader Joe’s, Cub Foods, Giant, Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster.

Where's there is globalization, there is abuse! I read an absolutely awful report from the Solidarity Center on shrimp workers in Thailand and Bangladesh. Here are some of the atrocious details:

-Widespread exploitation of migrant workers, including beatings, torture, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.
-Human trafficking of workers.
-Forced labor where workers often work 16 to 20 hours for as little as 30 cents per day or nothing at all.
-Widespread use of child labor, with some factories employing up to 150 children, some as young as 5 years old.


There is a consistent pattern; American workers lose their jobs and international workers that replace them are exploited. I wonder how many Americans truly think globalization is a good thing?

-Robert Scardapane


The Food Crisis and Farm Subsidy

Hunger and its cousin malnutrition are working together to bring the globe into an untenable situation.

Food riots in Bangladesh, Egypt and Haiti have occurred, cost of food in the USA is skyrocketing and the situation grows worse daily. At a news conference last Sunday, April 14th World Bank President Robert Zoelick came out with this assessment: "We have to put our money where our mouths are so that we can put food into hungry mouths.”

The price of the staple rice crop has risen by as much as 70% since the last annual report, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with increases accelerating recently.

The USA is far from exempt from this catastrophe as food banks, soup kitchens, and other food distributor organizations reported an estimated twenty- percent increase since April of last year. Additionally in the last year, the United States has seen the number of citizens enrolled in food stamp programs grow by one point three million, the highest one year increase ever.

A recent report on CNN, informed us that the average price of a loaf of bread has increased 32% In the last year alone, the average price of carton of eggs has increased almost 50 percent. Currently the wheat storage supply for the USA is at a 60 year low.

The worst food price inflation in nearly 20 years has many Americans giving up restaurant meals to eat at home. We are buying fewer luxury food items, eating more leftovers and purchasing more store brands instead of name-brand items. As it grows worse we will be challenged to find sustenance that does not cost an arm and a leg.

Causes are various, yet the ethanol pitch has come under scrutiny lately as this corn and wheat hoarding for fuel has increased the cost of all foods. Irregular weather like droughts, rising fuel cost, diet changes such as increases in meat consumption in Asia, and booming populations have added to the food inflation. Secondary protein is also a cause as it takes 8.3 grams of corn to produce one gram of Beef, so that many more could be fed if primary protein sources were preferred. High petroleum prices low valued dollar and tighter supplies have all added to this looming problem.

International cooperation is needed to stave off this crisis, the UN in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund has asked for an emergency fund of 500 million less than a week’s cost of the Iraq war. The Bush administration has {to its credit} has taken the first step pledging funds of up to 200 million from a food reserve know as the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.

America should act with others in the international community to increase agricultural output in developing societies so that these states can become self-sufficient. Working hand-in-glove with Western nations we must reduce subsidies and tariffs so that, once produced, developing countries can sell their goods both domestically and on the international market.

International food aid programs should also be reformed so that funds are given directly into the hands of farmers and producers, rather than Western shippers, suppliers, and corporations. Lastly, the world should move to the new generation of biofuels on semi-arable land that are not as dependent on corn and do not directly compete with food crops.

American farmers have been paid to leave certain fields un-sown and subsidies have been in place to keep the market price high enough for US farmers to stay in business, this practice must cease and all agricultural land available for food production.

The $286 billion farm bill, which has recently been passed by both the House and Senate, gives Congress a legislative chance to assist in solving the domestic and international food crisis. Providing more than just a safety net to America's agricultural system, the new farm bill grants the critical funding to our nation's poverty, nutrition, land conservation, energy, and international trade programs.

However, final compromise on this controversial measure has not yet been reached. Congress drags their feet as the world suffers and we all pay for procrastination. The farm bill as it currently reads is a lost opportunity to remove oppressive subsidies that could positively impact this crisis both domestically and abroad.

-Robert W. Barker

In response to the Supreme Court's decision to deny women the right to sue for workplace discrimination, and the Senate Republicans' agreement, Victoria Brownworth writes:

The Republican vote against equal pay for women once again signals why we need a woman president. The second-class citizenship of American women has gone on throughout our entire life as a nation. Other Western countries have caught up. Pakistan, India, Liberia, Burma--even these nations have had or currently have women leaders. Mitch McConnell and Madman's piece on him certify why America is so behind the Western and even Eastern world on this issue.

In response to, "Jimmy Carter remains the only president in recent history to accomplish anything, as it relates to peace, between Israel and her neighbors," Victoria Brownworth writes:

I'm sure Madman did not mean to ignore the Oslo Peace Treaty orchestrated by President Bill Clinton nor the historic moment (which led to the Noble Peace Prize for those involved) that he orchestrated between Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin. Nor the other meetings between Arafat and Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres that he also orchestrated.

I guess in these days of Clinton bashing it's easy to ignore the eight years Bill Clinton spent working in the Middle East with Madeline Albright in favor of the one that Jimmy carter spent in his White House. But history actually says otherwise.

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-Noah Greenberg