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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 18, 2008


Email in the Public Domain

Some of you may know that writing for, editing and publishing Note From a Madman is merely my sideline. In the real world - the world in which I perform certain tasks for a few diminishing American dollars - I build, maintain and troubleshoot Microsoft active Directories and Exchange Servers.

I am, for lack of a better term, an email expert.

Most of my customers have their very own email (Microsoft Exchange) servers right on their premises. It allows them a certain amount of privacy and the ability to control their own email domain internally. The smallest of my customers, a firm of about seven people, own Microsoft's 2003 Small Business Server which includes Exchange Server as a part of the package. It's a pretty good and well-priced package that serves this customer, and many more very well.

I even have a test environment, full version of Microsoft exchange server (Standard Edition) in my home so I could duplicate problems some of my customers might have. It sits on an old server which cost me less than $500 brand new some years ago.

The reason I bring this out isn't as an advertisement for my services (although I rarely turn down business so feel free to tell your friends about me), it is to ask one question:

Why is the state of Alaska and Governor Sarah Palin using a Yahoo email account to send and receive email?

Allow me to answer my own rhetorical question: Plausible deniability.

"Plausible deniability refers to the denial of blame in loose and informal chains of command where upper rungs quarantine the blame to the lower rungs,"

I couldn't say it any better myself.

Some of you will remember the flap over White House staffers using their Republican National Committee email accounts to send email back and forth to each other in a successful attempt at keeping their emails private, whether or not those emails should have been kept quiet or not. You might also remember the RNC stating that they hadn't kept those emails or that they would not comply with subpoenas requiring them to produce those emails.

The White House itself has refused to produce emails stating that they cannot be found or recovered without extensive work. That work went to a private company "earning" a multi-million dollar contract to do so. the emails won't be available until after the Bushies leave Washington, DC on January 20, 2009.

In each of the above cases, Plausible Deniability reigned down upon the underlings of the RNC and the White House (as if there's a difference) which enabled the upper staffers to use the old Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes "I know nothing" excuse.

Palin's Alaska, with all of that $398 million of US middle-class "bridge to nowhere" tax money didn't see it as necessary to go out and purchase even a $200 POP mailbox server. Instead they chose a free Yahoo.com email account which offers limited storage space and the ability to "lose" emails one doesn't wish to keep. There is, in most circumstances, no archive for old emails and no accountability as to what happens to read email after they have been accessed.

Plausible Deniability.

I guess what Governor Palin didn't understand as she was attempting to create the atmosphere of Diminished Responsibility (Where have I heard that one before?) was that it isn't hard for someone, even in her own office, to "Steal" her emails. These emails are actually the property of the people of Alaska and are in the public domain. Palin's failed attempt at keeping them secret, and her failure to do so, are the reasons she is crying foul today.

"This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them,"
-The McCain campaign

And what will the appropriate authorities do if they find the culprit? What if those emails were left open on the desktop of Governor Palin's, or some flunkies' desk by mistake?

And what if they find the person who released these emails? Certainly their existence in the public domain would make them available to the people of Alaska who are no investigating possible wrong-doings in the governor's office.

How will Governor Palin hide them then?

-Noah Greenberg

McCain Puts the Nation at Risk

John McCain has asked us to trust him. He said that he puts the good of the country over his desire to be elected. Yet, he has put the country at risk in order to advance his hopes for the Presidency by his selection of Sara Palin as his running mate. He selected her to appeal to his base, at which he succeeded and to possibly capture some women voters despite his knowledge that Ms. Palin is opposed to virtually every issue meaningful to women.

For two months, McCain pledged that he would select a running mate on the basis of his/her qualifications to be President. Regardless of one’s feelings about Ms. Palin is there anyone who could not name several dozens solid Republicans far better qualified – just in case – to be President of the United States. How can we trust McCain if he would put the country at risk of having a totally inexperienced and unqualified individual possibly be President when McCain himself has talked about “these extremely dangerous times for the United States”. When we think about McCain-Palin we must think about “President Palin” given not simply because of McCain’s age, but because of his medical history. We certainly wish Senator McCain a long and healthy life but do we dare take the risk of inheriting. “President Palin”?

-Herb Greenberg

Winning: The Only Thing

In 2004, all observers agree that John Kerry lost the election due to passivity. I and others urged a far stronger program and a program more clearly defined for the voters. Unfortunately, we didn’t do this, and the election was lost. My fear and the fear of many other Democrats with whom I’ve spoken, is that we may be doing it again.

Senator Obama’s speeches are phenomenal, and he still has a lead. However, what we hear more and more, from Democrats, is the question, “Is there really a difference?” The concern is that our Democratic Congress’ approval rating is 9%. That approval rating is even lower than that of George Bush.

In 2006, the voters gave us a mandate, control of both houses, and frankly, in most peoples minds including Democrat, we have done little to justify that mandate. I’m certain that insiders can point to one or another accomplishment, but in terms of the perception of the public, Congress has done “nothing.”

The reality is rather than fight for some of our issues - that might be eventually defeated because of a filibuster or a veto, we have backed away, and so, as Trent Lott threatened a year ago, the Republicans will be able to refer to the Democrats as that “do nothing Congress.”

I apologize for the harsh sounding of the foregoing, but it is critical that we don’t blow this and that we turn this around quickly. So, the following are some suggestions that a number of us are making to the leadership – the Obama campaign, and to the Senate and House leadership, as to how to win this election in a landslide – not only to elect Obama President, but to give him a working majority in House and Senate.

-Quickly decide on four to five major issues that are part of the campaign, and that we can quickly develop legislation around upon which Congress can act – NOW
-Pass the bills, or if they fail, make certain that it is clear who voted for or against the bill
-Pass the bill, even if you know there will be a filibuster and/or a veto
-Include in many of Obama’s speeches an ongoing, running scorecard. In other words, if a bill on windfall profits for the oil industry has been blocked by a filibuster, let’s make certain that Obama refers to that protection of the oil industry by the Republicans in many of his talks. Obama’s speeches make news. Filibusters make news, both in terms of the filibuster and by what it is about. We don’t need to depend on the media to accept our press releases – we can make news by our actions.

What we are suggesting, in short, is the Obama campaign and the Senate and the House Democratic leadership run a combined “living platform.” It is not enough to say we will solve the energy crisis, find alternative fuels, get healthcare for everyone, but let’s introduce legislation now and make it clear to everyone - who is supporting these efforts and who is blocking them. At the end of the day, if the Republicans attack us for having a “do-nothing Congress” which they will if we don’t do something about it, it is not enough for us to say at the end, but “Look, the Republicans blocked us.”

If we are going to win, that needs to be made evident – day by day, play by play – between now and election day. Please, let’s get aggressive. Please, let’s not fear the Republican attack machine. We know we will face that attack – no matter how nice we are. Let’s stand up and show the country what the Democratic party is really all about and that it is fighting right now for things most Americans believe in.

-Herb Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg