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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 4, 2008


I'll be traveling this weekend and might not be able to get the next Note From a Madman out until Tuesday, September 9th. -NG


Talk About Natural Disasters!

The Republicans at their 2008 National Convention have decided to put a "natural disaster insurance policy" into their platform. There's only one problem with this part of their platform: Their standard-bearer and Presidential nominee, John McCain, opposes the idea.

A "natural disaster insurance policy" law is already waiting on Senate passage and it is being held up by Republicans who can't figure out a way to make it seem like they are for helping people in their greatest time of need without pissing off their real base of "haves and have mores", which, of course, include Big Insurance Companies as a charter member.

Whether or not you believe that those of us living in non-hurricane and other natural disaster areas should contribute to a fund that we will, more than likely, never tap into isn't the point I'm trying to make here.

Of course Republicans from Florida, as well as their Democratic colleagues, are in favor of such a fund - a fund I personally agree needs to be created.

But, again, John McCain doesn't, just like President Bush who has threatened a veto should this bill get through the Republican block in the Senate and get to his desk.

Bush's reason, and one could assume that it's McCain's reason as well, is that such a bill would "disrupt the private market". Sure, I know that this needs translation, so allow me the honor:

"Disrupt the private market" in McBush terms means simply taking profits out of Big Insurance Companies pockets. It's the same reason the GOP, now led by McCain but still following in the same failed footsteps the Bush administration has left them, are against a real national health care plan which would cover all Americans.

By keeping the current system, either Americans who live in these disaster areas pony up the dollars for hefty insurance policies or they run the risk of losing everything in the next disaster. And disasters have been getting more frequent and more deadly.

But the kicker is that while those of us who live in these affected areas (I'm not one of you) are paying outrageous rates for insurance which barely covers their needs, when they actually have to file a claim they are left with choices of taking a fraction of what they should get versus waiting, and waiting... and waiting for their Insurance Company to review their appeal. All one has to do is just look at how many families in and around the New Orleans area still haven't received enough to rebuild their homes and their lives.

The kicker to the opposition to the McBush "natural disaster insurance policy" is that when a disaster does hit, we, the American people, end up doling out the big bucks to help subsidize what Big Insurance should have paid out to begin with. Hurricane Francis saw Big Insurance beg for federal money and then had the temerity to post some of the highest profits in history.

The Republican Party is even floating the idea that McCain will change his mind. It's an interesting trick: Allow the candidate to keep the current track, never changing his mind nor even reviewing his policy, then tell everybody that he "could", may, "Possibly" change his mind.

"He's a reasonable man. It may be open to compromise,"
-National committeeman Paul Senft

"I think that Gov. Crist has talked to him about it and will continue to talk to him after the election. I'm encouraged with the language, it's certainly a starting point."
-State Rep. Marcelo Llorente (REPUBLICAN-MIAMI, FL)

Republicans at the convention are talking about the "language" of a bill such as the "natural disaster insurance policy" rather than the bill itself. It's all bull.

Certainly you can count on a candidate who says he's against a plan to aid the average American prior to the election to keep that promise, no matter what the rest of the party, or even his own spokes-people say.

"John McCain needs to explain why he is saying one thing and his party is saying something else,"
-U.S. Rep. Ron Klein (DEMOCRAT, FL)

Klein is the man in the House of Representatives who wrote the bill which has already passed the House and sits, idle, in the Senate due to the GOP opposition. He did his job, as did the entire House, led by the democratic majority. It is only a small group in the Senate who, led by a Republican minority, who stand in the way.

"It's a nice little coup, it's a definite statement. Every little bit helps,"
-U.S. Rep. John Mica (REPUBLICAN-FL)

And it will be another "nice little coup" should McCain win the state of Florida by having his people promise a plan such as the "natural disaster insurance policy" and then not come through. Certainly Florida Representatives will have to answer for this slight as will now-popular Governor Charlie Crist (REPUBLICAN), an ardent McCain supporter.

-Noah Greenberg

What You Just Saw

I don't generally forward requests for contributions. Forget about the contribution request and just consider what David Plouffe is saying. The Republican Party for a long time mocked large central government. Reagan once said that the most frightening statement a politician can make is "that I am from the government and I am here to help you". To make up for a lack of emphasis on federal governance, the Republicans pushed the concept of community governance; Reagan's "thousand points of light". Now, the Republican are mocking all forms of secular governance. Where does that leave them? Perhaps, rule by religious governance! With the pick of Sarah Palin, McCain has sided with the concept of religious governance. Palin belongs to a church that preaches the Dominionist ideology that the constitution should be replaced with "Biblical law". This is downright scary stuff.

-Robert Scardapane

No Room for Volunteers

The Republicans are mocking Obama for being a community organizer. That puts them in a real bind. Here is my letter to the editor:

Speakers at the Republican convention mocked the role of community organizers. Does the Republican Party understand the value of such groups? Community groups run food banks and volunteer time in health care clinics across the country. The Republicans used to believe that community groups make up for a large government. Now, they don't believe in any sort of governance. Where does that leave America?

-Robert Scardapane

I don't normally just reprint any articles in lieu of my own work, but this piece by the AP says it all:

Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.


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-Noah Greenberg