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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 15, 2008


Rove Says McCain Doesn't Pass the "Truth Test"

After berating the Obama campaign (as usual), anchor Chris Wallace and "expert" Fox News contributor Karl Rove had this exchange:

WALLACE: In fair game, what is McCain doing that has gone a step too far?
ROVE: McCain has gone - in some of his ads, similarly too far in sort of attributing to Obama - things that are, you know, beyond the one-hundred percent truth test.
MADMAN: Well just what percent is McCain, Sarah Palin and anyone else connected to the McCain-Palin "Truth-Test Campaign" telling the "truth"? Would you put it at sixty percent? Fifty? Twenty-Five? how much lying does one have to do to be called a liar by Karl Rove anyway?

WALLACE: Do they need to be "one-hundred percent" passing "the truth test"? You were running Bush's campaign - did you care whether some fact-check organization...?
ROVE: No. You can't trust the fact-check organization, with all due respect.
MADMAN: Lost in the interview was that little, two-letter word, "No". Rove admits that the truth isn't something he necessarily cares about when it comes to choosing who will become President of the United States. Certainly we all knew that by now. Admitting it on national television is another story. The fact-check organizations are just that - FACT CHECK organizations. When a politician says something or mis-represents their records, it's these FACT CHECK organizations who do the work for the rest of us and find out the REAL FACTS. You actually can trust these organizations such as factcheck.com because that's all they do - THEY CHECK FACTS. And the FACT is that, when you CHECK what the McCain campaign is saying, the FACTS don't CHECK out.

Certainly Wallace caught Rove by surprise and clearly the words flowed out of Rove's mouth before making the trip around his brain. But even Presidential brains can have a brain-fart. It's good to hear the truth out of Rove for the first time, well, ever, even if it was just for a fleeting moment.

McCain is a liar and even Karl Rove knows it. but what's more to the point, he admitted it.

I wonder what he's up to...

-Noah Greenberg

Greed Run-Amok and the Price WE Pay

Oversight and Regulation have been assaulted and their enemies have won yet another battle.

Lehman Brothers, one of the real giants of Wall Street, has filed Chapter Eleven and is just about out of business. As one of the eldest of the brokerage houses which have defined the American investor class, Lehman Brothers going out of business ranks up there as one of the worst financial breakdowns of all time.

When one thinks of this nearly extinct giant one has to realize that Lehman Brothers has been around for 168 Since 1840, they have been a staple of the financial industry and now, just like that, they are soon to be gone. Lehman Brothers have made it through the Civil War, World War I, World War II and even a pair Black Weekdays: Black Friday in 1929 and Black Monday in 1987.

In short, Lehman Brothers has withstood the financial hard times. But they couldn't withstand the presidency of George W. Bush.

It's greed run-amok, plain and simple. It's a financial industry run by and for the very wealthy and when "Stuff" hits the fan, it's all of us who suffer.

Lehman Brothers could cost the financial industry up to 25,000 jobs. Sure many of those jobs belong to Wall Street big wigs, charter members of the Bush "base of haves and have mores", but so many more of them belong to us regular middle class people. These people are now losing their health care at a time when it's nearly impossible to pay for your own, individual health care. These people are worrying about their pension plans which are managed by their recent ex-employer. These people are worried. They are the middle class workers who used to be employed by Lehman Brothers who did the everyday work for those at the top.

And today, they are all out of a job.

When combined with what has already happened in the financial industry, one would have to consider this new Black Monday, September 14, 2008, as rock bottom. Too bad that it isn't. So far our economy and market-run-amok has seen a record number of big shots bite the dust, or at least taste it. The Federal Reserve Bank took the unprecedented move to bail out giant Bear Sterns when they were on the verge of collapse; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the Federal Government; insurance giant AIG is on the bubble as to whether or not they will have to seek the protection of the bankruptcy courts; and banking giant Washington Mutual is in trouble of closing as well.

And while we mourn the loss of the jobs which used to reside at Lehman Brothers, another financial giant, Merrill Lynch, was spared the executioner's ax in an eleventh hour deal which now has them under the umbrella of another giant bank of America, who promises additional job losses in the thousands as well.

In truth, this past Sunday-to-Monday shouldn't simply be known as another Black Monday. Instead it should be called Black Sunday and Greedy Monday because it is greed and the environment set up by the Bush administration which has caused these failures.

Certainly George Bush will come out and state that this sad state of affairs is the problem of the investor class. But it is all of our problems. It could be that this collapse will cause the loss of some 100,000 jobs in the end, and maybe more. It isn't just the jobs that were lost today, but the jobs that will be lost tomorrow. how many companies sold goods and services to Lehman Brothers who now won't get paid for those goods and services? How many will have to cut staff or reduce benefits (including health care) or simply close their doors because their "big client" is out of business?

Too many. And when you add the nearly three-quarters of a million jobs which have been lost since the beginning of this calendar year, so far, it's even worse.

This particular collapse couldn't be ignored and "poo-poo'd" by the Bush administration or the candidates to replace him next January. But what John McCain, the Republican nominee, included in his statement about it (as heard on various news shows this morning) was absolutely unbelievable:

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong,"
-John McCain, in the hours after Lehman Brothers announced their filing for Chapter Eleven protection

As housing prices soared and the other areas of the economy suffered, we saw the Federal Reserve bank lower interest rates time and time again. And each time they did so, mortgage rates fell and people's houses and new homes went up in price. The banks and other investors took the bait. Mortgages became "solid", Triple-A investments.

The warnings were there. Honest analysts kept on warning that this bubble is going to burst and that the market wouldn't be able to take it. Still the Bush administration did nothing. It is what this, the Administration of Diminished Responsibility does best: Nothing. They are reactionary, but only as it relates to blame. They are quick to point the finger, but never at themselves.

Think of it this way: In the wake of 9-11 we heard the voices of the Bush administration tell us all how the attacks couldn't be predicted. Many will remember those now infamous words of then NSA Director Condoleezza Rice when she said, "we would have moved heaven and Earth," to stop the 9-11 attacks. But the truth was that just a month earlier they were warned, and did nothing.

Just like now. The answer the Bushies had to the failing economy was to lower interest rates. They told us that the economy is strong and for us, the middle class, our homes are worth more. They told us to borrow on our homes to take a vacation or buy a car. They asked us to contribute to the president's failing economy with the homes we live in.

Then the bubble burst and everyone got a cold wet towel-slap in the face.

Today the President told us that the market will fix this "glitch". But it isn't just a "glitch"; it's a catastrophe and this administration, along with their would-be successors, the McCain's, have no idea how to fix it. McCain, himself, as is President Bush are still living in denial that the economy - the Bush economy - is fundamentally strong. Is that statement made to quell the fears of those of us who have been hit,  and will continue to be hit the hardest by this administration built on and for the wealthy? Certainly they couldn't really believe it...

... Could they?

And do we really want someone who follows in lock-step (or is that goose-step?) with those who put us in this mess to lead us out of it? Certainly no one who is truly paying attention can believe that. Not only is John McCain the man who said, "I am not an expert on Wall Street," but he is the man who hired the engineer of the Banking-Industry-Run-Amok as his chief financial advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm (REPUBLICAN-TX) who told us all that the recession and financial hard times are all in our heads - that we were all "whiners".

I guess whining only counts when one losses millions, not jobs, health care or their family's future security.

-Noah Greenberg

Is This Just One Woman's Opinion?

I have detested politics and those involved with it most of my life. I believe that most politicians will tell you what you want to hear until they get elected then conveniently forget the promises they make. I must say that ever since I started reading the NationalView my eyes have opened to a lot of things, and with this upcoming election I read it every day. The Notes From a Madman are insightful and at times humorous, but the message is always clear. So here comes the opinion from this peanut gallery.

How do I feel about John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his running mate?

I don’t diminish or resent Governor Palin’s achievements. I'm sure that she has worked hard to get where she is. However, the view and opinion I have is that McCain is merely using her, and this is insulting to my and other women’s intelligence. By assuming that by picking a woman, most of the women who were angry at Obama for not picking Hilary Clinton as his running mate will jump ship just foolish and stupid. I have news for you Senator McCain (or McBush, as Madman calls you): I have faith that most of the women of this country are smarter than you give us credit for. Our Chief concerns right now is the economy, ending this war, universal health care, etc. - In other words, the issues that this country is facing. So pardon me if I don’t fall for your ploys.

I admit it - I would have liked to have seen an Obama-Clinton ticket, but you can’t deny that Biden is a strong, well establish partner. and I think it was a good choice.

-Estelle Lawrence

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

On October 7, 2001 the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.

On September 17, 2001, President Bush announced the beginning of what he called “the war on terror” and said the mastermind of the attacks was Islamist terrorist Osama bin Laden, who had been living in Afghanistan, training al-Qaeda operatives and working with the Taliban.

In an address to the nation on September 20, 2001, the President issued several ultimatums to the Taliban regime, ostensibly demanding that the government turn over bin Laden as well as any other al-Qaeda operatives. He said," They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.”

The Taliban responded via Pakistan, saying that no evidence existed that bin Laden had perpetrated the attacks and that bin Laden was a guest of the Taliban government and therefore could be granted asylum.

Plans for the invasion began. On the eve of the invasion, the Taliban offered to try bin Laden in an Islamic court in Afghanistan. The U.S. rejected that offer.

The rationale for the invasion was to capture bin Laden, destroy his terrorist gang, al-Qaeda, and depose the Taliban regime which had terrorized Afghanistan. The Taliban had provided the major support and cover for al-Qaeda in addition to working with bin Laden.

It’s been seven years since 9/11 shook our insular nation. Not since Pearl Harbor–which was not in the mainland U.S.–had there been an attack on American soil.

The anniversary was muted this year. Time is passing, wounds are healing. Americans remember, but they are also caught up in economic issues as well as a long presidential campaign. The somber reading of the nearly 3,000 names of the victims was as gut-wrenching as it had been on the first anniversary, however.

A friend in New York City said it was a difficult day, that it would always be a difficult day. “People don’t quite know what to do on the anniversary. Mostly, I think we try not to cry.”

Now the seventh anniversary of the war on Afghanistan nears and with that anniversary comes questions: What has the invasion and the seven-year war accomplished?

The Taliban was deposed in the first year, but has been coming back strong, particularly at the border areas with Pakistan. Since 2003 incursions by al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents between the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been frequent and al-Qaeda has also committed acts of terror in Pakistan.

Osama bin Laden was never captured and is widely suspected of living in Pakistan. When asked, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declined to answer questions about whether or not bin Laden was living in his country. Over 900 U.S. and NATO troops have been killed and more than 3,000 severely injured since the initial deployment in 2001. This year more U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq, even though the number of troops in Iraq is four times that of the troop numbers in Afghanistan.

In addition, thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed and injured, although there are no agreed upon numbers for these figures and the Pentagon says it does not record civilian casualties. Just last month, however, a U.S. attack on the village of Azizabad accidentally killed 90 civilians, more than 60 of them children. That attack has prompted an investigation by President Hamid Karzai.

Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain have differences in policy regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama wants to withdraw troops in Iraq by 2011 and deploy them to Afghanistan. McCain has said troop levels should be maintained in Iraq until 2013 and that more NATO troops should be used in Afghanistan.

McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, whose oldest son was just deployed to Iraq, said in an interview on September 12 that more troops were definitely needed in Afghanistan.

If you look at a map of these countries, some things are self-evident. Afghanistan is nearly half again as large as Iraq. Afghanistan is the size of Texas with more than half the country given to mountainous terrain. The population is 33 million people. Conversely, Iraq is about the size of Pennsylvania and has 28 million people.

What the two countries have in common is sectarian violence. The U.S. currently has 160,000 troops in Iraq and the lid is barely on. While the violence appears to be down since the troop surge, it is also true that the violence is not over, nor is the fundamental conflict between the Sunni and the Shiites.

In Afghanistan, there are fewer than 40,000 troops. The violence in the country is not even remotely under control. Both Obama and McCain favor increasing the number of troops currently in Afghanistan to about 70,000.

On September 10th, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. House of Representatives that the current strategy in Afghanistan was not working. But Mullen said that the war was indeed winnable. Conditions have, however, gotten worse each year since 2002.

Mullen said U.S. troops must now fight the war in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.

More than a year ago, Obama pledged to use military force against al-Qaeda operatives hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan if Pakistan did not move more aggressively against them first. Obama has consistently reiterated that position, saying he would take military action as president, if necessary. He has also asserted that the U.S. does not need to ask Pakistan’s permission to do so.

McCain has maintained a more moderate stance concerning Pakistan, stating that the country has been an ally in the war on terror. McCain has been resistant to the idea of transgressing the border without permission.

Palin agrees with Obama, that raids into Pakistan might be necessary while Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, appears to agree with McCain, erring on the side of restraint.

At the time Obama made his initial statements about invading Pakistan without informing then-President Musharraf, Biden said in an NPR interview," It's a well-intentioned notion [Obama] has, but it’s a very naive way of thinking how you’re going to conduct foreign policy. Having talking points on foreign policy doesn’t get you there.”

If Biden has altered his perspective on Pakistan, he hasn’t commented publicly since becoming Obama’s running mate.

The views of the candidates became germane on September 11, when it was revealed that President Bush had secretly approved orders in July allowing American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government.

The raid involved more than two dozen members of the Navy Seals who spent several hours on the ground and killed about two dozen suspected al-Qaeda fighters.

This compelling news was obscured by comments about lipstick on a pig.

Some have long argued that the “real” war on terror lies in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The argument that Obama gives is that Iraq became a distraction from that real war which is, unlike Iraq, winnable.

But history says otherwise. Afghanistan has been the site of endless wars and occupations long before the U.S. invaded. Most recently the Soviets were at war in Afghanistan for a decade between 1979 and 1989. Ironically, the U.S. aid to Afghanistan during that war contributed to the rise of the Taliban.

I grew up with the Vietnam War. I remember Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization plan. I remember when the war was expanded into Cambodia and Laos.

We didn’t win that war. We won’t win in Afghanistan. The fact that the two seasoned politicians are leery of going into Pakistan while Obama and Palin are not strikes a chord that perhaps should be listened to.

It doesn’t matter seven years after 9/11 where the “real” war *should* have begun. Another 30,000 troops will not alter the course in Afghanistan just as another 120,000 troops in the smaller country of Iraq has not altered the course there. Whether Iraq was a distraction or a destination, no one with any logistical or military sense believes that American troops will be fully withdrawn in three years, five years or even in a generation. The Middle East is a time bomb. Afghanistan is not.

The U.S. could withdraw from Afghanistan tomorrow with less trauma than when it withdrew from Vietnam. Leaving Iraq will be a much more arduous task which no one seems to actually have a coherent plan for achieving.

How will expanding the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan end the war on terror? How many more countries will we have to invade to end the reign of al-Qaeda and capture Osama bin Laden? Will invading Pakistan stop the growth of terrorism in other countries? There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded there. And in seven years we have not been able to obliterate al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

If Obama and McCain want to be true to their individual messages of change, they should withdraw the troops from Afghanistan and recognize that sometimes victory as well as true statesmanship simply means knowing when enough is enough.

In response to "Since 9-11-01", Denise writes:

You forgot to mention all of the civil liberties we lost. This, to me, more than anything else, is how Osama beat us and unless restored, rather they catch him or not, he will have won. Oh yeah, we also gave Osama about six weeks warning him we were coming after him, to use his multi-millions of dollars to get out of Afghanistan rather than attacking immediately. Get real! He isn't in Pakistan. He is on some secluded island in the middle of nowhere and it is not likely he will ever be found.

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-Noah Greenberg