Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, April 4, 2005


More on Pope John Paul II


In response to Pope John Paul II, "I Prefer to Remain Anonymous" writes:

I was raised Catholic, had a protestant conversion experience at 13, and became pretty disillusioned by the whole experience my early 20's. In my 40's, I'm raising my kids in a fairly liberal (especially for where I live) Presbyterian Church, since it's a good framework for learning decent morals, and protestantism is the 'Spanish language' of religious frameworks. (Then again, we should all be having our children taught Chinese at this point...)

Anyhow (and 'enough about me', as they say...), I've been singularly unphased by the death of John Paul. He meant little to me, disappointed me during the child abuse scandal, and as you can imagine, alternately encouraged and disappointed me over the years with positions that have been to my distant observation purist and convincingly non-political. (As an aside, I've been away from the papers, but it appears that there's an extraordinary irony in his death related to his withdrawal from the hospital, as compared with the whole Schiavo debacle...)

Your Weekend Sad Man dispatch caught my heart in its tracks. I'm aware of the Pope's efforts to apologize for the church's offenses to Israel, but not familiar with the specifics you've put together here. I thank you greatly for that - it is much of what I will take away as the Pope's legacy. I did catch a bit of media on Friday night (part of Charlie Rose, etc...) as (bizarrely) everyone seemed to be expecting the Pope to die on queue, and no one covered his actions and statements regarding Israel well. I imagine that some have since. In any case, I'm glad you're spamming me, at least so far, particularly for this dispatch.

I am my Italian father's son, and while I don't have any buddies that are Jews for Jesus, Jews hold a special place in my heart for the suffering they've long endured, as do American Blacks for their brief travails. (My dad drove limos in his later years, and often officiated at the grave site, sporting a small collection of yamakas...) I don't consider Jews in the US particularly oppressed, but anti-Semitism is alive and well around the world, and even here, the stigmas take so many generations to fade!

Here's to Karol!

I'm not a Jew for Jesus. I'm just a Brooklyn Jew with roots in Eastern Europe. My brother says of my mother, "She doesn't speak with an acent, she THINKS with an accent." I have been blessed with good friends my entire life. In Brooklyn, they were Jewish and mostly Italian-Roman Catholic. Here in New Jersey, my friends come from everywhere: Jews, Catholics; Evangelical Christians.

Here's to you "I Prefer to Remain Anonymous"

-Noah Greenberg


Yes, Noah, when it comes to repenting on behalf of the Church in regard to our irresponsible and immoral behavior over the centuries toward our Hebrew brothers and sisters, John Paul did what was sorely needed. And he did the same in many other areas of life and our world. Perhaps it is not fair that that many of us are disappointed that he did not manage to do so well in all of the areas of life that he dealt with.

John-Otto Liljenstolpe


John Paul II was not only a man of religious conviction but a staunch defender of human rights. I believe he did more to bring down the Iron Curtain than President Reagan's cold war blustering. His support for a small Polish labor group known as Solidarity triggered a revolution that ultimately brought the Berlin Wall down. Indeed, this was a sad loss for the world. I sincerely hope that the next Pope will continue his work and reach out to Muslims as well to heal the acrimony in our troubled world.

-Robert Scardapane


In response to "We're drunk on gambling revenue. Gambling revenues are like free money." by Delaware Legislature's House Majority Leader, Representative Wayne A. Smith (R), Randi Haley of Oklahoma writes:

Texas and Oklahoma, probably other places in the South, Bush's brain USED the gambling issue to get their short-visioned "Christian" zealot friends to the polls! The Republicans are definitely playing both sides of this issue! Hopefully, the Courts will take them to task for it soon!

In response to the conclusions of the 9/11 commission and the same results by the Silberman-Robb commission, thus making them a waste of time and money, Jack kashinsky writes:

The sad thing about the 9/11 Commission's report was how effective the Repugs (That's Jack's pet-name for the Republicans) were in stonewalling it.

What was even more sad was the usual ineffectiveness of the Dems in keeping issues like this on the front burner

If Kerry, and the Party had stayed consistent and focused on this issue he might have made it despite all of his inadequacies. It certainly would have been worth 2-3 more points.

As I have noted before, the Party (Democrats) needs to shake things up in the poor excuses for the PR and Communications people. Here we are in a desperate struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people, and these losers are continuing to take a few scattered pot shots and falling back. In case they haven't noticed, there is no more room behind them.

Big Brother

Having lived in the former Soviet socialist bloc for ten years, I am extremely familiar with the way Big Brother operates and the effect that it has on society as a whole. And, believe me, Big Brother is very much alive and well and has relocated to the US, where conditions (a record number of Patriot Act warrants) are NOW far more favorable for HIS (Big Brother's) growth and development. In fact, this administration's so-called "terrorist" dragnet has already extended well beyond any real or imaginary terrorist designated targets, which is creating in this society a phenomenon which used to be characteristic only of totalitarian societies; namely, the existence of what is called a "microclimate," an invisible sociopolitical atmosphere in which one's behavior is governed by a complex set of rules established by those in authority and maintained through fear and uncertainty.

Chris Tennant
UN Consultant and former Programme Officer
MENA and CIS/CEE Regions

An Impeachable Idea?

"This administration’s war on Iraq, in addition to being increasingly unpopular among Americans, is an unmistakable violation of our Constitution and federal law which you have sworn to uphold. In our system, the remedy for such high crimes is clear: this administration must be impeached.”
-Veterans For Peace (VFP), In a letter sent to each member of the US House and Senate

"We do not make this call (for Impeachment) lightly and as former members of the US armed forces, we take our responsibilities as citizens very seriously. For that reason we believe that when our government conducts a war of aggression on Iraq and commits a growing and appalling series of what must legally be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity in the execution of that war, it violates Article VI of the US Constitution, the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. § 2441), and numerous international treaties which are legally binding on our nation."

-David Cline, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and president of the Veterans For Peace

"We are not the first group to call for impeachment. We have decided to add our voice to the call. All the reasons given for the invasion have shown themselves to be half-truths or misleading. The conflict continues to drag on taking the lives of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis. It is clear that George Bush does not intend to change course in an effort to right this great wrong. He has had enough time in his second term to begin a shift and he has not. It is time to remove him from office."
David Cline

While the above action is certainly commendable and totally justified, why isn't there a NATIONAL call for impeachment in this country? People wasted no time calling for the impeachment of Clinton over his personal "misdemeanors" which were not a threat to ANYONE, let alone to our national security. However, they don't seem to be very concerned over the fact that this ENTIRE (Bush) administration has both violated international law in general and specific international treaties and conventions in particular. various international treaties and conventions in particular, placing the security of our country at even greater risk than before. And, if that were not serious enough, they are eroding our constitutional rights here at home and taking away our freedom, at the same time that they CLAIM to be promoting democracy and freedom abroad!!!!

Chris Tennant
UN Consultant and Programme Officer
MENA and CIS/CEE Regions


I noticed how the media went from Social Security all the time to Terry Schiavo all the time. This is a classic Republican trick - when all else fails stir up the culture/social wars. That's also why steroids all of a sudden became so hot. Bush even did that last year when Iraq was going poorly (not that it's so great right now) at a state of the union speech - he mentioned steroids twenty times in his speech.

According to the numbers floated by Bush thus far, a 7% annual return on your private account would be needed to match what the traditional system currently pays out.

-Robert Scardapane

Recap of Al Franken at the State Theatre

My wife Laura and I saw Al Franken at the State Theatre (New Brunswick, NJ) last Friday night. Haven't laughed so hard in ages... most of the material I had already heard on his show or read in his book, but in person he delivered it even more effectively. He ended his speech with a touching tribute to his late father, before answering audience questions (submitted earlier on note cards).

He did begin his speech with some kind words about the Pope, whom he thought had died before the show (must have received one of those premature news reports). He credited the Pope with helping to bring down the Iron Curtain.

Some of the biggest laughs were when Al discussed
Fox's frivolous lawsuit against him for using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the subtitle of his book. Another highlight was when he commented on comparisons of his show to Rush Limbaugh's. He said his show is different from Rush's - Al relies on facts while Rush relies on hot air. His example was Limbaugh claiming that 75% of minimum wage earners are teenagers, when the actual figure is less than 40%. Al said, "We get our labor statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Rush gets his labor statistics from the Bureau of Rush's Butt!" (The Elton John joke from "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them" also got huge laughs... it's a bit risqué to repeat here but it's on page 158 of "Lies" if you want to read it!)

One question that I though was extremely relevant to our respective activities was this: "Do Democrats need to become more moderate?" Al said, "No. Democrats must become more passionate, and stand for bigger things." His example was single-payer universal health coverage. He said it's crazy that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn't have SPUHC. He also mentioned that National Guard/Army Reservists who return from active duty in Iraq are NOT guaranteed health coverage by the government, and that "high-income veterans" must contribute to their own health coverage. Do you know what high-income veterans earn, he asked? $26,000. Gasps from the audience ensued.

After the show, Al greeted "VIP ticket holders" (which included us, thanks to my wife, who got me the tickets for my birthday)! He signed autographs and posed for pictures. He signed my copies of "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them" and I congratulated him on the 1-year anniversary of Air America radio. Al seemed tired but smiled when my wife told him how I give her recaps of the "Oy Yoy Yoy show."

A wonderful evening... thanks to my wonderful wife for the tickets!

-Eddie Konczal

Crayola Man

I was in New York City today (Monday, April 4, 2005). The question everyone at the office in the Tribeca section of Manhattan (that's the area of the World Trade Center was), "Why is that military jet circling Manhattan?"

I couldn't help but think to myself that if this were November 1, 2004, the day before election day, we would have a RED ALERT and people would have been told to stay inside. There might have been military vehicles circling the West side, going cross town at Houston Street, then finding their way back to Hudson Street telling everyone that New York City is under attack and George W. Bush is here to protect us.

But here it is, April 4, 2005. A military jet circles the city. Where is John Ashcroft with his box of Crayola Crayons when you need him?

-Noah Greenberg

Like a Good Neighbor...

I'm watching a State Farm Insurance ad on TV. The wife-character in the car "accidentally" (and we all know that Freud said "there are no accidents") runs over the husband-character's foot... twice. The wife says, We didn't know whether to file it as a homeowner's claim or an auto claim.".


Cut to the caring State-Farm-Agent-Character. He can help. If they live in New Jersey they had better not file an auto claim or their rates will go through the roof!

They show the husband in a wheelchair and a cast on his foot rolling down a hospital hallway... smiling. A hospital. Hmmm. Isn't this a MEDICAL CLAIM?


Oh... I get it. They have no health insurance so the husband had to sue the wife in order to get his foot taken care of.

There goes the auto rates.

The United States Insurance Companies. We Care...


-Noah Greenberg


I figure my money trickled down right into the Lipper's pocket ... or was it Tricky Dicky Cheney.
-Jack Kashinsky

Dastardly Dick Cheney makes Tricky Dick Nixon look like Honest Abe.
-Eddie Konczal

"Iraq didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Social Security isn't going bankrupt."
-Rep. Jim McDermott (D-7, WA), March 4, 2005, by way of
Eddie Konczal


-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg