Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, May 19, 2005





SEN. SCHUMER: Isn't it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez (A Utah native and a Brigham Young graduate)?

SEN. FRIST: The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we'll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I'd like to, and it really brings to what I believe - a point - and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership- led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way.

Answer the question Senator Frist!


The truth is you led a filibuster of Paez. Republicans used the pocket veto and other suppression tactics to prevent 60 of Bill Clinton's nominees from getting an "up and down" vote. Now, these Republicans are abusing power by attempting to re-write the Senate rules. Voters must hold them accountable in 2006 and beyond.

-Robert Scardapane

Bill Moyers
Part One

"I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.

Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart's affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother's picture on my lapel to prove her son's love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

So what's this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo — the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice
Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's little red book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread.

But more galling than anything are all those moralistic
ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They're in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.

So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don't have to make it, or approve of
bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash.) I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what Bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it's not un-American to think that war — except in self-defense — is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country."

-Bill Moyers, from NOW


In response to the National Debt and the Deficit, Lew Warden writes:

Noah, aren’t you confusing National “debt” with “deficit”? The National Debt clock for the end of 2000 showed that the National Debt was over $5.6 trillion. Clinton claimed there was no “deficit” for that year, deficit being the difference between income and outgo for the period ; different sources can come up with different deficit numbers for a period by referring to different data and methods of analysis, but the debt, i.e., the amount of money the US has borrowed and owes up to a given point of time, is a different number. Bush’s tax rebates, the Mid-East conflict, and Bush’s huge borrowings have driven the National Debt to over $7 trillion, a formidable record in itself.’

In response, I wrote this:

I find them intertwined:

"Deficit" vs. "National Debt"

Suppose you want to spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a "budget deficit". So you borrow. The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you don't have enough money to cover your spending (another deficit), you must borrow some more, and you'll still have to pay the interest on the loan. If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don't have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy.

Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress's appropriations. The total borrowed is nearly $7,800,000,000,000 and growing. Even when government officials claim to have a surplus, they still spend more than they get in. We pay interest on that huge debt.

In response to, "But we all know that all of this will take a leader of vision, guts and compassion. Wait until 2008 everyone, and pray," Jack Kashinsky writes:

I hope we don't wait until '08.

The people need to focus on taking back the House, Senate and the local and State offices like yesterday.

Will the Democratic Party EVER learn how to skip and chew gum simultaneously?

The National issues are important, and require being addressed. However, beyond rhetoric, there is actually very little the Dems can do, especially now that they have the dangling sward of Damascus hanging over their heads.

To regain control, we need to pay more attention to the State and local races. It is not enough to get anyone calling him/herself a "Democrat" elected, we must focus on the loyalty and quality of the candidates.

All of the conversation concerning this appears to have gone by the boards, and almost everyone has gone back to the Hare Kari tactic of protecting their own little domain.

The Repugs win because of strong party discipline, while the Dems are back to looking like the dog chasing it's tail.

Incidentally, I think it is extremely stupid "strategy" to follow Lieberman's lead and try to work out a "compromise" over the "nuclear option" debate. Any "compromise" will last only as long as the Repugs get their way. All it will accomplish will be to allow the Repugs to make public in the future, that the Dems. also approved some of the totally objectionable court nominees.

Instead of playing into the Repugs hands (as usual), the Dems. should NOT compromise their integrity. they should instead allow the Repugs to force a filibuster and then pass their "nuclear option".

I believe, with proper PR, this issue has the potential of blowing up in the Repugs faces.


The only thing Jack said that I take issue with is the word "loyalty" in regard to the Democratic candidates. I think that "loyalty" is best left for the candidates to show toward those who elected them in the first place. -NG


In response to, "President Fox 'expressed the great respect he and his administration has for the African-American community in the United States,'" SchwartzAPN writes:



In response to, "Isn't it funny how the Bush Administration gets on Newsweek for a flawed report, which they retracted already, but feels that it's 'okay' for Bob Novak to release the name of an undercover CIA operative?", Robert Scardapane writes:

That is indeed funny. But, isn't it sadder that the Bush administration lied to the American public, Congress and United Nations about WMD's in Iraq. The media is eerily silent about the Downing Street memo. Yet, can there a reasonable doubt that the case for Iraq war was a BIG LIE?


Bush can't get away with it forever.

Or can he? -NG

- In response to the national "fingertip story", Pat Thompson writes:

It seems that the mainstream media has become more like the National Enquirer or the Star, or one of those idiotic "newspapers". There is something even more insidious going on, as well. Whenever there is a report that is detrimental to this administration -- like Bush's AWOL report, they seize on some part of it, and claim loudly and perhaps threateningly, that the letter may be a forgery. This is picked up and amplified by the right wing spin machine. The original question is never answered -- did Bush complete his National Guard service, or was he AWOL? Heads roll. Now Newsweek must apologize for their report that the Koran was flushed down the toilet. They are accused of causing deaths and rioting. There were many other reports surrounding this issue -- that 200 men were shipped in an airtight shipping container across the desert, and only 20 survived, etc. Many reports of abusive treatment, including torture -- but the sound byte is the Koran, and that has been delegitimized. So the whole story is debunked.


Remember, all of the media in America is owned by 6 men, and they have their own corporate agenda. We no longer have a free press. And we no longer have free and fair elections.


Stupid Quote

"There has been some lasting damage that has been done to our image... and it's going to take some work to repair that damage,"
-Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary, referring to Newsweek article mistake

Well yeah – most of what the bush gang has done since 2002 fits this description! I had to laugh loudly at this “assessment” from an administration and spokesman who seem to have had NO ability to assess when their US policies are creating lasting damage that will take “some work to repair.” NOW, these warmongers come to the conclusion that Newsweek’s incorrect reporting about disrespect towards the Koran is going to create more damage than their conquering war that has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths. HUH? GIVE ME A BREAK! Not everyone can be dumbed down THAT much.

I am not even convinced about the reporting on revolts supposedly created by this article. Are they even accurate especially if reported on Fox News? Or just more spin? Maybe they are like the Chalabi inspired freedom celebrations in the Baghdad square that we subsequently found out were staged and not spontaneous. I have ceased to trust the words from this administration that seems to value the playing of the BIG game above a real contribution to humanity and American citizens. History will not treat President Bush kindly once people feel free and safe to think again.

And speaking of Chalabi, if he is one of the “senior officials” that Sen. Coleman’s committee relied on to malign George Galloway our democracy is surely in trouble for pinning its national and international assessments on a man of such disrepute. He predictably fell out of favor with the US the same month as his last US payment right before the turnover in Iraq last June. Soon thereafter there were a few varied “breaks” between Chalabi and the US which made it possible for him to appear to be an Iraqi not controlled by the US (those were clever plot twists and script writing to put him back in favor and ultimately in power – coincidence or design?) and now he has been given one of the highest positions – in charge of the Oil Ministry. Talk about letting the fox into the chicken coop! And it so absurd and Chalibi’s opinion is not even worth the air it travels on.

Lastly, Noah, I had the same thought about Bob Novak and the Valerie Plame case. We can demand investigations of a Newsweek mistake, but Bush cannot find his way to the bottom of an investigation of WHO in HIS white house was un-American enough to reveal Plame’s identity. I consider a person who would do that to be traitorous and should be prosecuted as such. NOT in this white house which rewards liars, deceivers, and those who can barely thoughts other than their king.

And the rights of all of us are being trounced and diminished bit by bit. Our constitution should protect us from fascism which is defined as a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader with severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. That definition sound familiar? – an administration that tries to redefine the constitution, judicial power, and goes so far as to redefine decency and morality in a narrow religious vein to control the majority in a dictatorial fashion. As can be heard on Air American’s Morning Sedition show each day at closing –


“Wake Up Sheeple” (sheep + people = sheeple), it is slipping away.

-Casey Sweet


Interesting Quote


"If you earn a lot, you should not mind paying the taxes."
-Alex Trebec, Jeopardy, Thursday, May 19, 2005

Alex wasn't speaking about the American Wealthy as a whole. Alex was speaking to and about a $1 million winner from a past "Jeopardy Tournament of Champions" who now stands to win $2 million, providing he can get past Ken Jennings (who once said, "With all that I've won, I might have to start voting Republican.") and a few others. The contestant, whose name escapes me, complained, jokingly, that the only bad thing about winning was paying the taxes.

But Alex is right. If you earn a lot, you should not mind paying taxes. You should not mind paying your fair share. However, in the United States today, the people who could afford the most pay the least. We all hear President Bush and his
Bush-men and Bush-women tell us that the top 10- or 20- percent pay for 40- or 50 percent of all taxes. What they fail to tell us is that they control 80- or 90- percent of the wealth in the US.

You're right Alex. The rich should pay the most, including their fair share of Social Security and Capital Gains.


-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg