Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, October 28-30, 2005

Economic Myths

"There can be no doubt that the American economy is an adaptive and resilient marvel, and one that has benefited greatly from good fiscal policies. The strong and steady G.D.P. growth we've been experiencing is the result of lower tax rates, sound monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve and the economy's underlying fundamentals."
-Treasury Secretary John Snow

It seems the US economy grew this quarter (July-September 2005) according to the Commerce Department (that's the Bush Administration's Commerce Department). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 3.8 percent, which was a little better than economists expected (3.6 percnt). That includes both consumer and GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

I wonder how much of that was the billions of Katrina-Related dollars "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and his cronies awarded to their friends in no-bid contracts?

But Wait...

It turns out that the disposable personal income growth slowed down to 2.8 percent from the previous quarter's 4.9 percent. After adjusting for inflation, that's almost a one percent decrease, down from the almost 2 percent increase from the previous quarter.

Since when do "good fiscal policies" make the average American's income go down, Secretary Snow? Oh yeah... since January 21, 2001.

By the way, during that same period, wages and salaries dropped a staggering 2.3 percent. Now combine that with Rising gas prices, increased medical premiums and deductibles and the upcoming home energy crisis (prices for home heating will rise as much as 74 percent this winter) and a rise in the G.D.P. becomes meaningless. In fact, considering the rise, one must conclude that the ultra-rich (America's wealthiest one percent) are spending more while the rest of US are spending less.

"With stagnant hourly wages, the only way for working families to get ahead is by working more hours, certainly not the path to improving living standards that we'd expect in an economy posting strong productivity gains,"
-Labor Economist Jared Bernstein, of the Economic Policy Institute

Along with all of Secretary Snow's self-proclaimed good news, it appears that the inflation rate rose from 2.6 percent in the 2nd quarter to 3.1 percent this past quarter; consumer confidence fell from 76.2 percent to 74.2 percent; and the personal savings rate dropped from just about even (0.1 percent) to a NEGATIVE 1.1 PERCENT.

"The negative impact associated with the energy shock will be more evident in the fourth quarter even though it hit in September,"
-Economist David Greenlaw of Morgan Stanley.

Wow... What Growth! Any more good news like this and we can start housing our poor in jails and workhouses again, right Secretary Scrooge?

And if that wasn't bad enough, fixed investment (the kinds that small businesses use for steady growth with little risk) rose only to a 5.7 percent annual growth, down from the 9.5 percent rate of the second quarter; and export growth fell to 0.8 percent from 10.7 percent while imports remained unchanged.

As for businesses, fixed investments slowed to a 5.7 percent annual growth rate, down from 9.5 percent in the second quarter. Export growth also flattened out to 0.8 percent after a robust 10.7 percent jump in the second quarter. Imports, which are a statistical drag on the G.D.P., were unchanged in the quarter.

That doesn't sound like good news at all, now does it Secretary "Ebenezer" Snow?

How could the New York Times headline have read: "Economy Grew at Strong Rate in 3rd Quarter?"

With the Holiday Season coming up fast, we can all look forward to cheap imports made by slave or near-slave foreign labor, higher heating bills and lower wages.


-Noah Greenberg

Some Thoughts

I obey the law. I do not like the people in the White House who is trying to change the laws to fit there way of stealing from America. If you listen to anything beside Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Libby, you would know better. That little CABAL they have has done more damage to us, the people of the United States and the World then anyone or anything in History... All in the name of greed, power and lies... and also in shame, I may add, in

But I do care about all of us, and what happens to us, our country, and the world. We are losing honey bees. You now may ask , "Why say anything about them?" Without Honey Bees all things will die. Now people are saying, and have proof that our oceans are almost empty of fish. There are only 10% of what was there only 10 years ago. The Republican's don't care about our land, ocean or anything but MONEY, POWER, and CONTROL. The worst thing is that the RNC has use the Church to aid them in stealing America and everything in it, without any regard to what is left after there are gone.

The people in charge now are always saying, "be afraid of terror." Friends, be afraid of the thugs and thieves and liars in the White House. I am, more so than any terrorists in the world. YES... our own Government. They are stealing, and lying to all of us each day. They are destroying the USA.




We love watching those big implosions on the tube–when a huge edifice of long-standing gets blown up and comes crashing down in a big cloud of dust. So, there we were on October 28th, watching the Friday soap opera cliffhanger when the special news bulletin cut into the programming.

Back in high school, our vehemently anti-TV but passionately political mother forced us to watch the Watergate hearings. "It's history in the making," she intoned. We watched, and got hooked on the original law & order series.

So there we were, just about to find out whether Stephanie was going to stick it to Eric at Forrester Creations on *The Bold & the Beautiful* when....ah, *Schadenfreude.*

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald laid it all out, replete with baseball analogies (he's from Chicago; first the White Sox win the Pennant after 88 years then he indicts one of the criminals in the Bush Administration–talk about a no-hitter). Of course, we had been hoping for a night of longer knives, but any head off the Bush hydra is a good thing. Bye-bye, Libby.

The grand priestess of Right Wing cant, Ann Coulter, had been whipping her bleached-blonde hair about all over the tube in the days before the indictment asserting that "no one even knows who [Lewis]' Scooter' Libby is," in an effort to downplay the impact of the impending axe. But whether anyone other than Bush insiders, the press corps and that New York Times Quisling, Judy Miller, knew who Scooter was and how important he was before Fitzgerald interrupted all the soaps (including the telenovellas!), *everybody* knows now.
History in the making, indeed.

Our favorite dramas might be in re-run in preparation for November sweeps, but it was all new from BushCo–one TV highlight after another.* First Harriet Miers, then Scooter. Karl Rove twisting in the wind. Cheney rubbing his hands and talking about how brilliant Scooter is. Bush unable to even get out two sentences without stumbling before he went off to Camp David to consult God about who he should choose for the Supreme Court. (We're betting on another white guy.)

Yes, we *love* TV. The implosion was just fabulous to watch.

Leave it to a Democrat to spoil the fun. Ted Kennedy, red in the face and shaking his over-sized lion's head and reminding viewers like us that taking pleasure in the pain of others is not all it's cracked up to be. (But if it weren't, would the Germans have invented a word just for it?)

There was Kennedy, seconds after Fitzgerald's press conference ended, spoiling the fun with this dirge: "Today is an ominous day for the country, signifying a new low since Watergate in terms of openness and honesty in our government. This is far more than an indictment of an individual. In effect it's an indictment of the vicious and devious tactics used by the Administration to justify a war we never should have fought. It's an indictment of the lengths Administration officials were willing to go to cover up their failed intelligence, their distortion on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and their serious blunders on the war. It is an indictment of their vindictive efforts to discredit anyone who challenge their misrepresentations."
That history-in-the-making thing. Dicey.

Kennedy didn't stop there. All week the warmongering liars over at Fox news had been dismissing the impact of the 2,000th dead soldier in Iraq, but Kennedy reminded everyone not only of the dead, but of the "more than 15,000 wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars spent with no end in sight and a continuing shameful effort by the White House to silence those who try to tell the truth about the war....Dissent is the ultimate form of patriotism."

Dissent, indeed. Watching the Fitzgerald press conference it looked like the press–not just Helen Thomas and Terry Moran–were going
to sink their teeth into this one, that Plamegate had the scent of Watergate and there might be more blood pooling where Libby fell on his sword for the Administration.

Stay tuned.

Actually we'd like to stay tuned to see what NBC does with Tim Russert who has seemed up to his Buffalo wings in Plamegate. We'd also like to see if Robert Novak returns to CNN for his promised revelatory interview about the case. (Because we're still wondering how come Russert and Novak didn't go to jail like Judy Miller did.)
But we haven't seen any pigs gliding by overhead, so...we'll set the TiVo just in case.

We also don't expect to see any bacon hanging from the trees near CBS. We sure do miss Dan Rather. While ABC, NBC and PBS were zeroed in on the (latest) White House scandal, Bob Schieffer was over at CBS chatting with Steve Kroft from *60 Minutes* about an upcoming interview with Prince Charles.

Uh, okay. Didn't we win the war against England a few hundred years ago? This might have been less embarrassing if the previous week *60 Minutes* hadn't done an anti-Clinton interview with Louis Freeh about his new book without interviewing anyone from the Clinton Administration for their side. (And people complain about Fox!) Or if it hadn't been revealed the day before that Sean McManus was moving from the CBS sports division to head the news division (hey, when the White Sox win, all bets are off).
The appointment wouldn't have raised many eyebrows if it hadn't also been revealed that according to Federal Election Commission records, McManus made donations to the Bush/Cheney campaign last year.

A little ignominious for Dan Rather.

Speaking of ignominy, remember last month when the President's favorite televangelist and personal spiritual advisor, Rev. Pat Robertson, suggested assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would be a good job for the CIA (not Valerie Plame, someone whose cover hadn't been blown by the Vice President's Chief of Staff)? Well, he's got some more ideas and he was speaking them (in tongues apparently) on CNN to Wolf Blitzer.

*You didn't know that the earthquake in Pakistan was a sign of the End Times? Then don't expect to be beamed up when the Rapture comes.*
Do we care what Robertson says on his non-stop TV circuit party? Not really. *Except* that he *is* a spiritual advisor to the President and a little lunacy goes a very long way in this Administration.
If you aren't worried about Bush *tete a tete* with Robertson, what about this: In a three-part documentary on BBC, Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath said of a meeting he had with Bush in June 2003, "President Bush said to all of us: ‘I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, *George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.* And I did. And then God would tell me, *George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq . . . * And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, *Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.* And by God, I'm gonna do it.*"

To quote Dana Carvey doing Bush 1 on *SNL*: "Scary. Scary." Good thing Bush has that nice Old Testament evangelical God and not the one who tells people to strap themselves with explosives or fly planes into buildings....

As if all this weren't frightening enough, Leonardo Di Caprio was on *Oprah* the other day talking about his obsession: global warming. More than just another pretty face, Di Caprio works full time at warning people about the assault on the planet and lecturing about how we can slow it down. (Go get compact fluorescent light bulbs. A little pricey at first, but you'll save money and massive amounts of energy in the long run. Recycle all plastic–it *never* biodegrades and it gives off gases. And if you're thinking parquet floors or veneers in your home, think bamboo. It's the world's most plentiful wood, it looks beautiful and cutting it down doesn't upset the rainforest ecosystem.)

Di Caprio was terrific–earnest, passionate, smart, well-informed and of course, living green with a hybrid car (we were horrified to find out Oprah drives one of the top five most polluting SUVs) and a solar-powered house and of course, is spending all those Scorsese bucks on warning about the warming.

Adding to the scariness was a *Nightline* town meeting about preparedness–for terrorist attack, bird flu, anything bad. Guess what? Four years after 9/11 we're basically unprepared for anything big. Or even moderate. Build your bunkers now, kids, and build 'em 1950s big.

Finally, we hate to sound obsessive or worse, petulant, but why, why, why is everyone in love with *Commander in Chief*? This week Geena Davis/Mackenzie Allen got involved in some messy torture of a possible terrorist. Unlike Bush she fired the Karen Hughes type who authorized it, but still–she *knew.*

Some pundits say the show is paving the way for a *real*woman president. But if it is, the president it's paving the way for is part of the Bush dynasty–Condi Rice. Hillary Clinton may be a centrist but she's not a Republican and Davis's character is a right wing ideologue with some compassionate conservative tossed in. Women should be boycotting this show, no matter how much they want a woman president. Allen is cut from the BushCo cloth–corrupt and stained with blood. Not what *we'd* hope for from the first woman president. But then look at Margaret Thatcher.

Stay tuned.


by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

Dear Editor,

(A response to an Oklahoma City newspaper editorial)

Pam Fleischaker's article "Republican's for Choice" came as good news. It is a great relief to know that not all the Republicans fail to see the difference between a microscopic bundle of cells and a breathing human being. It is also a great relief to know that there are some of these so-called "Republicans" who oppose the discrimination of a large portion of our citizenry- the "Log Cabin Republicans".

However, I am left to wonder how these two groups can continue to associate themselves with a party that won the last election by inciting homo-phobia and discrimination against women.

Why don't you form your own party?

If you formed your own party, you might soon be joined by "Republicans for truth and ethics", "Republicans for sound science over mythology", "Republicans for a humane healthcare system", "Republicans NOT owned by corporations", and "Republican's for protecting the Home-land".

It seems to me the Republican party would be a meaningless minority if not for the Southern white people who have hate and invidiousness on the top of their agenda.


-Randi Haley

Lou Dobbs

I used to like Lou Dobbs but he really is bothering me of late. He constantly claims that Democrats are no different than Republicans. I have a few thoughts for Mr. Dobbs:

1) Democrats led the charge to reverse Bush's attack on Davis-Bacon act of 1931 as it applied to Gulf Coast workers. They actually won that battle by getting 30 something Republicans to vote with 100% of the Democrats.
2) Democrats have come up with a comprehensive energy plan while Republicans continue to give our tax dollars to oil & gas companies to drill for a small percent of oil. These companies won't drill on their own as there is little return on investment but if Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer will give them the money, they'll drill. That simply makes no sense.
3) Democrats fought against the House agriculture committee budget cuts to food stamps. That's right, the Republicans in the House Agriculture committee voted on party lines to cut $800 million from food stamps in the Omnibus Reduction Bill (the so-called Operation Offset). This bill must be voted on by the full House. The bill also includes provisions to allow oil companies to drill, with taxpayer subsidies, in ANWR.

What does Mr. Dobbs have to say about this? He claims that Democrats don't help the working guy. Phooey! Dobbs may be mad at Republicans but he disingenuously painting Democrats as being the same. Of course, our "wonderful" Democratic PR people don't help a lick. Paul Begala was on the show last Friday moaning and groaning about how Democrats have no message. Come on Begala get with the program; you are suppose to help get the message out! Begala could have talked about the Democratic victory restoring the Davis-Bacon act and Reid's energy bill. I don't see how Democrats are going to win if we don't get better PR people.

-Robert Scardapane

Asked how the Mr. Bush could revive the plan [to revamp Social Security], Iowa's Sen. Charles Grassley (R) replied: "Get the troops out of Iraq and get New Orleans rebuilt."


Well Chuckles that certainly is a minimum. But, when are you jug heads going to understand that Americans like Social Security in it's present form.

They don't want it privatized. But, they do want the Republican Kleptocrats to put the money back. Americans understand that Kleptocrats, such as Chuckles, stole Social Security funds and gave it away to oil & gas companies as subsidies, funded bridges to nowhere in Alaska and a useless missile defense system that blows up on the launch pad.

-Robert Scardapane

In response to "President Madman - My staff would include Robert Scardapane, Eddie Konczal and Pat Thompson... and there will always be a position for all of you Madman contributors, as well," Eddie Konczal writes:

Noah, thanks - I'm honored! If I may nominate one more person for your cabinet, I see you did not select a National Security Advisor. How about someone who protected America from terrorism when he was given the resources to do his job... former White House Counter Terrorism chief RICHARD A. CLARKE?

Hurricane Alibi

A Storm That Will Rain-Down Spin on Traitor-Gate


Brace yourself in the days ahead for excuses from right wingers on indictments. Here are some likely ploys (taken from the article The Fizgerald Spinmeisters by Russ Baker):

Claim that Fitzgerald exceeded his original mandate. Numerous news accounts have picked up the assertion that Fitzgerald asked for and got expanded authority to explore other crimes than those on the original bill of goods.

Yet, in fact, Fitzgerald had always been able to do that. A 2004 letter from then-acting Attorney General James B. Comey is being misrepresented, since it was merely a clarification-not an expansion-of authority.

Look for anything at all about Fitzgerald that might raise doubts about his independence or judgment, like being spotted ordering a triple tofutti lasagna chip cone. Long ago, my friend Tucker Carlson advised such an approach.

Insist that, even if certain officials are found to have leaked Plame's name, it wouldn't matter because it isn't a crime. That's a tricky one, figuring out exactly whether such an action would violate various laws, especially since there's a whole lotta gray area. Including, hypothetically, calling a Plame a Flame, then saying you sure like P's better than F's. So far, strongly partisan former government attorneys have been quoted as if their interpretation is the final word. Journalists should do a better job finding sober and authoritative analysts.

Suggest that changing one's account is understandable, and attributable to normal memory lapses. That might fly as to whether you returned a library book on time five years ago, but it's hard to claim you don't remember your role in the mechanics of an elaborately constructed smear.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

Today's Cindy Sheehan Quotes

"Juan, Beatriz Saldivar, and Julie Cuniglio who have all had loved ones killed in this war had brought pictures of their dead loved ones with them to Arlington. We were told by the administration of the cemetery that they couldn't take the pictures into the cemetery because they were 'political statements!!' We were stunned that pictures of our children that have been killed for lies and betrayals and for purely political reasons can't be shown in a cemetery that supposedly honors those who have served, some making the ultimate sacrifice in war. We are living in a state that kills our children then calls them political statements. That speaks volumes to the chicken hawks who we are allowing to ruin our country. "

"There was a man there who had several signs (at the White House Vigil - in a counter-protest) which among them said: 'Saddam loves Cindy'... He was making 60 dollars an hour to do so from some non-profit, right wing group. He said he would switch signs if we gave him more money."

-Cindy Sheehan

-Taken from a forward by Jenny Hanniver

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-Noah Greenberg