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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

May 4, 2008



There are many "R"-Words when it comes to politics, especially when it comes to US politics, both good and bad. For example, there's "R" for Responsibility, which most administrations have shown throughout our short history but has eluded the Bush administration so far; and there's "R" for Recession, which that same administration is doing its best to create and deny all at the same time; and, finally, there's "R" for Regulation, which has become a word conservatives despise, the neocons vilify and the Liberals dare not utter for fear of being called "Commies".

So in these times of rising gas prices and corporate greed, allow me to be the first to scream it from the top of my lungs...


There comes a time when industry and corporations must be allowed to flourish or decline all on their own. Just because a company is an industry giant today doesn't mean that they're going to be so tomorrow. Indeed, they may not even exist when tomorrow comes.

When we look at Regulation and deregulation in the US, many of us point to two industries before all of the others: The airline industry and the former phone company monopoly. The first was regulated for passenger safety and the latter because it was a monopoly.

Today we're experiencing a collusion that cries out for some sort of government intervention through Regulation. For the past seven-plus years we have had this Bush-led government which has been a friend to industry at the expense of the American people. Our next president, assuming he or she will be a Democrat, will have no choice but to step up and attempt to put a collar on big oil. Big Oil mega-corporations don't compete against one another, they act in concert with each other. That is exactly what we must regulate against.

Big oil controls the means of oil consumption almost from the cradle to its grave, whether that end lands in your gas tank or heating tanks, and they make their profit on each and every level. An industry such as big oil shouldn't be receiving $12 billion a year in middle-class supplied federal aid. And since they use our highways, our ports and our stock market for trading their wares, a little regulation wouldn't be a bad thing.

The problem with asking for regulation is that it makes big business very nervous. This is an administration which has sought to remove regulation from any and all industry and allow businesses a free hand to do as they please. In 2009 that simply has to stop.

We have to limit the profits collected by big oil here in the US. Certainly we can't stop them from collecting those profits elsewhere, but with the US in the lead, one has to think that other nations will follow that lead. There must be a price to pay for doing business in the US, and the middle class can't be the only ones to pay it. Profit is what drives the oil-for-power industry and it's going to be hard to stop them.

It's time for those smarter than me to figure out a way to put the clamps on big oil. Whether it begins with releasing some crude from our strategic oil reserves or in some other way remains an open question, However, doing nothing and watching our economy sink along with our currency's worth, as the Bush administration has done so far, is not the right answer.

-Noah Greenberg

The following thread ends with the responses below. I agree that it does no good to keep arguing the merits of both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in negative terms. I'm allowing the responses to the previous articles, but no more after that. I will be editing from now on. -NG

Crossing Over

I thought you two might be interested in this. This is from my cousin in CA, who as far as I know is a life-long Republican, and rather conservative. However, health care has hit him where it hurts. He also told me a while ago he is supporting Obama!! Maybe we needed the country in tatters to get people to see the big picture. A friend is campaigning in Indiana this weekend, and found Republicans who had crossed over, just as a NYTimes article was saying.

-Dorothy Schwartz

In response to, "...getting pretty tired of the 'all Clinton supporters are stupid and ignorant,'" Casey Sweet writes:

This seemed highly inflammatory and prompted me to respond and offer the opinion of an Obama supporter that sees things differently:

It never occurred to me that Clinton supporters are stupid or ignorant or that that is even a prevalent feeling at large. I was absolutely surprised to see that proposed as a truism. I watch more political news and opinion shows than I care to admit to, including c-span, and can’t remember hearing Clinton supporters referred to as stupid and ignorant by Obama supporters. I have heard republicans called stupid and ignorant for voting for the likes of Bush – twice – but not Clinton supporters.

Perhaps with the primaries there is so much talk about the segments of people that each candidate attract and so much talk about Hillary’s appeal to working class, especially white men, maybe this implies something about education levels?? But that is a big jump to stupid and ignorant. And just because some small groups of people may talk that way does not make it so.

To suggest that Obama supporters as a collective promote this idea is ridiculous, silly, and a generic slander which does exactly what it complains about. I am a strong Obama supporter and know many others and have never heard such a thing said. Do I and others think that the Clintons are shrewd, Machiavellian, and will do almost anything to win – Yes. This is the way they play the game. Do we sometimes wonder exactly what all the Hillary “relevant” experience is? Have some of us been HillBill supporters in the past – Yes. Do negative opinions of HillBill exist – definitely, but this has more to do with how people have experienced them, personally, over the years and long before this race started.

Speaking for myself, I pretty quickly chose Obama over Hillary after hearing them both speak at a conference. She expressed support for the war and got boo’ed, while he spoke at the Friday lunch and many who would typically leave early stayed to hear his visionary ideas. There were many, many reasons for my selection, but suffice it to say that knowing something about what it takes to create “new, bold” conversations in order to produce new outcomes, I wholeheartedly believe that Barack has the power to create extraordinary outcomes that Hillary’s polarization prevents.

Do my beliefs and who I support mean I can be called smart, stupid, educated, uneducated, antagonistic, conciliatory – sure, but who cares about labels that put false walls between us all when there is so much to work on together in this country, regardless of who we support. We all care about the deteriorating economy, increasing limitations or absence of healthcare, destructive war asking for the sacrifice of so few, crumbling infrastructure, lacking education, on and on. Creating a strong, healthy, vital country and world for our children and future generations to live in, that’s worth caring about.

Frankly, at this moment, as I notice my increasing distaste for Hillary’s actions and what I deem misrepresentations, I don’t know how I would ever cast my vote for Hillary if she prevailed, except as a vote against McCain. I have never cast an “against” vote in 30+ years of voting, but, I know that I would have to find a way because any democrat has a better future in store for us than the republican “turn-back-the-clock and stay-in-fear” path. We will all have to find a way to come together leaving the anger and hurt behind. And, I assure you, I will not feel stupid or ignorant no matter whom I vote for, especially after the last 2 years of reading, thinking, discussing, disagreeing, supporting, donating, interpreting, and writing about politics!

And Keith A. Dewey writes:

My apologies for being a clumsy messenger. You and the Republicans are good at obfuscating the issue by derogating the messenger. Suffice it to say that another did an admirable job at expressing my beliefs. Even to the descending choices for president.

Bad leaders are out in front followers. The polls from PA show that Sen. Clinton was supported by gun people, religious fundamentalists, and Regan Democrats (euphemism for ignorant prejudice bigoted voters). Coupled with her pandering vote on the war, keeping the leaches in healthcare, and perpetuating an Iran “crises” propagates; just getting elected. Not good. I have two very uneducated female friends who voted for bush twice and are Clinton supporters. I am not climbing on that wagon.

As Bob alluded to, it is about time to drop the reins, grab the ol’ trusty musket from over the fireplace mantel, and stand at the bridge. Of course a pint or two at the local, before dying, will help.

And Robert Scardapane responds:

Madman, I know you don't want to exercise censorship but I am disappointed to continue reading this type of exchange.

Obama most certainly is not an anti-intellectual, knee-jerk politician. His platform is as detailed oriented as Clinton's. The suggestion that Obama supporters are stupid is downright insulting. There has been way too much vitriol and dirty campaigning in this primary. I have become turned off by the entire process and even considered staying home in 2008 as a protest.

Now, Democratic activists are going after each other? Just great! This makes me pessimistic about winning in 2008 even though the GOP opponent is an awful candidate.

In response to, "If she is the Democratic standard bearer then I will be staying home, digging a good bunker and stocking it up with food, water, and ammo," Victoria Brownworth writes:

Careful, your lack of fealty to Democratic values is showing. I find it continually amazing that people rant about Clinton without having a clue about her platform or policies or history. Her health care plan is the only one that covers everyone and moves us toward the universal health care we all need and deserve. Her education plans are the only ones that provide for all Americans, not just the wealthy. Her attention to the issues specific to women and children--which neither Obama nor McCain feels is even worthy of notice--makes her the one candidate who is addressing ALL Americans.

She has a real plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. She has a real foreign policy and none of her advisors are saying "wink wink" to foreign countries while she campaigns. She has plans for economy that work for the working class and poor.

Perhaps because I fall into the under-$50,000 a year demographic, I actually care about these issues. Perhaps the elitist branch of the Democratic Party thinks that they are above the concerns of the poor and working class. But the basic tenets of the Democratic Party in the past has been to be concerned about ALL Americans, not just college kids of the wealthy and middle class and upwardly mobile yuppies.

Clinton has been dissed for being a New Deal Democrat. Since FDR was the greatest president of the 20th century, I hardly see this as a negative.

Stay home if she's the nominee. Go ahead. Show to the country and the world that you cannot support a Democratic candidate. Remember that sitting home IS voting. For the other side.

And in response to, ""Clinton supporters (her Philadelphia headquarters was run by as many African-Americans as whites)," Victoria Brownworth writes:

Yes, that is exactly what I saw at the Clinton headquarters. And it was indeed inspiring: college kids of all races, Asians and Latinos as well as whites and blacks, women of all ages, men of all ages. It was so exciting to be at the Clinton headquarters and see all these different demographics in one place. Particularly since the media consistently lies about the demographics of the Clinton campaign in their fealty to Obama.

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-Noah Greenberg