THE NEWSLETTER

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, November 18-20, 2005

 

 

It was amazing. . . You tell them a lie, and when you don't need it anymore you tell them another lie . . . Then instead of laughing they follow you even more, hoping that at the heart of all the lies they'll find the truth. And bit by bit they accept the unacceptable. Amazing.
-Terry Pratchett, GUARDS! GUARDS!
-Forwarded by Jenny Hanniver


 

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Quote in the Lead


"cowards cut and run, Marines never do,"
-Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), during Friday night's House debate, to war hero and fellow congressman, John Murtha (D-PA)

 

Just how the people of suburban Cincinnati voted this awful woman into office is beyond me. What... David Duke wasn't available? This is all part of the "swift-boating" of Rep. Murtha, a real American hero who served in 2 American Foreign wars.

 

It doesn't surprise me that Rep. Schmidt is known as "Mean Jean." I have a word that sort-of rhymes with "Schmidt" that we can use as part of her new nickname.

 

"We have said innumerable times that she would go to Washington and open her mouth and create an embarrassment. She will say things that turn people off like nothing you've ever seen."
-Jim Schifrin, publisher of the Whistleblower, a Cincinnati area online political newsletter
 

Just as a reminder, Rep. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marines.

 

Ms. Schmidt, you certainly are a piece of (Now what was that word that rhymes with "Schmidt"?).

 

-Noah Greenberg


Followed by Just a Stupid, Stupid Quote

 

"Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer."
-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan

Rep. Murtha (D-PA) dumped a bucket of ice water on Bush's little Iraq war PR campaign. The only response they can come up with is this lame attack on the Democratic party.

I think if Scotty loves the war so much he should sign up. For matter sign up Bush and Cheney as well. Bush is a pretend pilot and Cheney is a ... pretend human being (more machine than man, twisted, evil).

-Robert Scardapane


 

Chicken Hawk Cheney
 

FIVE DEFERMENTS (for service in Vietnam):
1st deferment: Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963 -- he turned 22 that month -- and sought his first student deferment on March 20.
2nd deferment: (student), after transferring to the University of Wyoming on July 23, 1963.
3rd deferment: (student) on Oct. 14, 1964.
4th deferment: attended graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.
5th deferment: On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Cheney had his first daughter. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the ''hardship' exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

"Hardship" exemption? This is the guy that has the gall to criticize John Kerry and Jack Murtha.

-Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane



Decisions, Decisions
Pick Your Poison - A Bad Choice or No Choice regarding Medicare Part "D"

''Our program always has been to provide access for people with no other coverage. Now they will qualify for a government program."
-Carla Burigatto, spokeswoman for London-based AstraZeneca PLC

AstraZeneca PLC has about one-quarter of a million people in its charity program.

''We're going to have to change our position,"
-Patty Seif, spokeswoman for another London-based drug-maker, GlaxoSmithKline PLC

The first position held by GlaxoSmithKline was to continue it charitable drug program regardless of one's eligibility for Medicare Part "D's" prescription drug "benefit" program.

In order to prevent "fraud", the Department of Health and Human Services ordered/ suggested (depending on your point of view) those drug companies providing free drugs to anyone who is merely eligible for the Part "D" prescription plan, regardless of their participation, to be dropped from those programs.

Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck are still going to offer the program to their drugs' low-income participants despite the confusing ruling.

''The last thing we need is one more variable in a hopelessly complex situation,"
-Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center

''if they sign up for Medicare Part D, they will not be eligible for our program."
-Laura Hortas, a Bristol-Myers Squibb spokeswoman

Let's look at that for a moment. If someone signs up for the drug plan, they will cease to receive the free drugs from Ms. Hortas' employer. Assuming, of course, that all of that Granny's medication comes from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and none of it comes from GlaxoSmithKline, Granny would be crazy to sign up for the program. However, if Granny uses many different drugs, like so many grandmothers and grandfathers throughout America do, then she'll need a pretty good spreadsheet program to figure out if it's better to sign up and only get a small fraction of her drugs covered or to pay full retail on some drugs while getting the others for free.

''Our broad interest is making sure that the people who need them have access to their medicines. That's the overall goal of everyone in the industry,"
-Amy Rose, a spokeswoman for Merck

Well, that's not really your industry's "broad interest", Ms. Rose. Making money has that covered, doesn't it?

Paul Krugman has called the prescription drug bill, that goes into effect in 2006, an example of gratuitous privatization. That is, privatizing a public program just to increase business profits. From what I can tell, it is more cost effective to allow Medicare to negotiate for bulk pricing and administer the program directly yet they are prohibited from doing that. So, instead we got a lousy program - hardly a surprise given that it was championed by the Boy Blunder.

Here at Madman, we have published what the Medicare Drug "Benefit" Program REALLY will mean to America's prescription drug users. Anyone earning over about $12,000 per year, who requires $500 per month in retail prescription drug costs, will be responsible for about $4,000 of the $6,000 of those drugs annual cost. That includes the deductible, the co-pay, the "donut hole" (where only 5 percent of the drugs cost will be paid by Medicare), and the fact that THESE PRICES ARE RETAIL.

(For a complete table and explanation o what the Medicare Prescription Drug "Benefit" Program means for an average elderly person, please refer to http://www.nationalview.org/DRUGS.htm)


-Quotes forwarded from "Enrollees to lose medicine given by firms via charities," a Knight Ridder article by Thomas Ginsberg, November 19, 2005, by Robert Scardapane
-Madman article by Robert Scardapane and Noah Greenberg



And More...

I've been listening to report after report after report about the new drug coverage for Medicare and what is becoming abundantly clear is that is has basically been turned over to private insurance companies, who will insist you choose one plan among 47 available, and hope to
God your need for covered medications, coincides with your annual opportunity to change plans.

Of course you will pay for this insurance, with a co-pay from the feds, depending on your income.

Oh yeah, there is a doughnut hole, which must be applied for separately, which somehow covers something but no one is quite sure what.

 

(At $2,250, seniors enter what is called the ‘donut hole’ where they will have to pay, out-of-pocket, for 95 percent of the next $2850 in drug expenses, until they reach $5100.-NG)

It starts January 1, 2006. Requirements for enrollment, were rolled out THIS WEEK.
If you don't sign up in time, you will be assigned indiscriminately so some plan by some 20 year old aide on part time loan from college classes, who could care less what happens to you, which might pay for your medication or might not, depending on if they happen to cover your particular meds or not. Don't worry, the payments will be automatically deducted from your bank account, whether you signed for it or not.

40% of folks who need the policies, are incapable of reading much less understanding the parameters of the program.

I've decided to keep skydiving and hope for a zapper of a death after a fun ride, because old age looks more and more dismal, as the Bush administration continues to destroy every retirement safeguard, the baby boomers have been paying into, for 30 years. Well, that 'war' Bush has going in Iraq is pretty expensive. Now that 2090 of our kids have died there, I wonder how many seniors are going to die for it?

-Rhian



The GOP Training Camp

One man's residence is another man's storage unit. After all, isn't that just what a home is... a storage unit to keep... well... US?

Lori D. Sotelo, “under penalty of perjury,” sent a letter stating that the residence of Steven Lacey and 140 of his King County (Seattle, Washington) neighbors could not have possibly lived at a real residence, The Watermarke, an apartment building, because it is clearly either a PO Box or a storage facility. The building was built in 1908 and many of the resident are over 50 years of age and have voted in "dozens of elections", according to Lacey.

With the Bush administration in office, we may all have to live in storage facilities or cardboard boxes or "Bushville shantytowns"  soon enough.

Sotelo, from the "East Side" is one of the leaders of the King County Republican Party. You all might remember the King County Republican Party from their movie, "GOP Tries to Steal the Washington State Governor's Seat by throwing Seattle's Urban Votes Out."

The residents of the Watermarke were told that the burden of proof regarding their residency was on them, and they would not be able to vote until it was beyond doubt.

What? No Voter's tax? No test? How about if we just count, say, three-fifths of each of the residents of The Watermarke as a vote?

It appears that Ms. Sotelo is the chairwoman of the King County Republican Party’s “Voter Registration Integrity Project.” Sounds a bit like the Clean Water Act, which allows polluters to police themselves or the "Clear Skies Initiative" which allows polluters to "purchase" more "pollution rights."

“We are withdrawing those challenges today and apologizing to those folks,” It is “just coincidence” that a significant number of the wrongly challenged voters live in a strongly Democratic neighborhood."
-Chris Vance, chairman of the state "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople Party

Isn't it "funny" (as in "ironic", not as in "ha-ha") how whenever there is a "voting machine error" or a "voter challenge" it always seems to favor the Republicans? What? Another coincidence!

The "Integrity Project" states that there are 1,943 King County residents who were not living where they were registered. With all of those "cheaters" out there in Redwood land, it amazes me that the guardians of the "King County Republican Party's Integrity Project" got is wrong. Surely such an odd number like 1,943 couldn't possibly been made up, could it? Maybe the new number is more like 1,803 (1,943 minus the 140 "real residents" of The Watermarke).

“We’re off by less than 10 percent. For having this done by volunteers and interns, this is very good work.”
-Chairman Vance

Maybe you oughta pay someone to do your research next time, Chris. You weren't off by "less than 10 percent," you were "off by 100 percent of the first 10 percent." Every person you sent the letter to was a legitimate voter. I wonder how many "questionable Republican voters are registered in the "East Side"?

And, get this, although the affidavit was signed by Ms. Sotelo, it was actually prepared by those same "volunteers and interns" Vance spoke so highly of.

“This is an unfortunate example of what happens when what is a serious issue, people’s right to vote, is hijacked for partisan advantage. This is a concern that we’ve had in King County for some time, ever since this issue came down the pike—that there’s a real possibility that innocent, ordinary people would get caught up in what appears to be a partisan campaign to challenge voters.”
-Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the King County Elections Office and its head, Ron Sims

“If (Sotelo) had been wrong on purpose, that would be perjury. But we made an error.”
-Vance

Just like the national "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party, local Republicans are claiming "ignorance" as their defense. Sounds a bit like Karl "The Traitor" Rove and Scooter Libby's declarations that they didn't know Valerie Plame was still an "active agent."

 

Ah, Grasshopper.... You learn well.

I wonder how many African Americans live in Belltown, where the Watermarke stands, anyway.

The GOP steals big... The GOP steals small.... Consider it the "GOP's training camp."

-Noah Greenberg



U.S. MUST GIVE MORE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005, Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

The death toll is mounting in Pakistan.

It's also mounting in Darfur, Congo, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere where poverty, war, natural disasters are causing global chaos. Whether due to war or natural disaster, the globe–particularly the developing world, the poverty-stricken world–is fraught with need. That need, most of it egregious, is not being addressed adequately or in time by those who have the ability to assuage the problem.

A powerful earthquake devastated the Pakistan-India border region October 8th, killing at least 83,000, with millions more left homeless. Survivors face a shortage of water, food and shelter as the harsh mountain winter approaches. International aid agencies are calling the situation the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Yet little international aid has been forthcoming.

Criticism over the lack of response to the crisis has been harsh. International aid agencies have noted that response to the tsunami disaster in December 2004 was immediate and manifold, whereas to the Pakistani disaster there has been limited and haphazard response, despite an even more dire situation for the victims and survivors. Some blame racism; many tsunami victims were American and European tourists who put white faces on a crisis that primarily affected people of color. In the mountainous areas of Pakistan hardest hit by the earthquake, everyone is of color and everyone is being ignored.

In addition to the always hovering question of racism, some question if the West is suffering from crisis fatigue–apathy brought about by so many serious global crises occurring so close together. Also, unlike during the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, news images of the disaster in Pakistan have been limited. There has been no immediate flurry of reporters and news anchors as there was to the South Pacific last year. In fact there has been little reportage at all.

Many survivors have been traveling for weeks with life-threatening injuries to makeshift medical centers only to have limbs amputated under primitive conditions because time had made it impossible to save those limbs. There is no recourse for other injuries far more terrible.

More the 17,000 children were killed in the earthquake and at least quadruple that number have been injured. Children are, as is so often true in circumstances such as this, dying from dehydration.

In the initial days after the tsunami disaster, the U.S. had pledged a pittance in comparison to other nations in Europe. Jan Egeland, coordinator of UN relief efforts, publicly chastised the U.S. for "stinginess." Soon the amount of aid was increased. But those promises were never fulfilled, that aid never actually materialized in the South Pacific and critics now say the U.S. is remiss in not providing more aid to Pakistan, particularly given that nation's key support to the Bush Administration.

More than a year ago the U.N. declared what was happening in Darfur, Sudan to be genocide. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed and gave a commitment of help from the U.S. Last week Congress covertly decided to cut aid to Darfur from a bill that would have authorized funds to the starving and dying in Darfur.

In July, when Philadelphia hosted the Live 8 concert, there was a flurry of concern over Africa and the poverty and strife on that continent. There were passionate speeches by Bono, who has been in the forefront of the Save Africa movement and heads DATA (DebtAIDSTradeAfrica) several days in advance of the G8 summit in Scotland. But then the terrorist attacks in
London happened at the opening of the conference and attention was deflected once again from the crisis in Africa to the war on terror.

On November 16th FEMA announced that those displaced by Hurricane Katrina who are staying in motels and other government placements have two weeks to find other accommodations. Nearly two million people were made homeless–literally, as their homes were either outright destroyed or made unlivable–by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Yet survivors complain that the federal government has done little to help them re-start their lives. Most assert it's because they are poor. Or African American.

All of these crises beg the ultimate question: What exactly is the obligation of the wealthy to the poor?

We can look to the so-called war on terror for at least one answer. Darfur is a site of terrorism. So is much of Africa. So is Palestine. Osama bin Laden is said to be in hiding in Pakistan. Increasingly poverty and terrorism go hand-in-hand; people with nothing are people with nothing to lose. They are far more vulnerable to recruitment into al-Qaeda, Hammas and other terrorist networks than people with comfortable lives. The child soldiers of the Congo were recruited by the Lord's Resistance Army in just that way. Their teenage and adult counterparts throughout Africa, the Middle East and now Europe are also being wooed because of their disenfranchisement and poverty.

Taking a pragmatic and selfish approach alone to global poverty and suffering is explicative: The West could protect itself from home-grown and in-sourced terrorists by providing alternatives for the desperate. Instead of augmenting situations in which being a suicide bomber is preferable to living in dire straits, the West must focus on creating a more equitable world in which there are alternatives for the disenfranchised. Just as poverty in the U.S. breeds crime and violence, so globally it breeds terrorism.

Thus the pragmatic side to global poverty demands that we address the root problem: disenfranchisement, lack of options, fear, rage.

The humanitarian side is, necessarily, more complex and more disturbing. Under the Bush Administration, the U.S. has been creating wider and wider chasms between the wealthy and the poor, just as it has been fomenting terrorism worldwide. The word "poverty" is rarely even spoken by anyone in the Bush Administration, including the President.

For example, when it was revealed last month that American oil companies had made record profits this year, there was no call from the President nor anyone in the Administration that those companies return some of those profits in aid to the poor and working poor for escalating energy cost during what is expected to be a brutal winter. In fact this Administration never demands anything of industry or corporate America–or itself–for the 42 million Americans living in poverty and the 50 million more living paycheck to paycheck as those displaced in New Orleans were.

Since we are not providing for our own citizens, is it any wonder we are not providing for the poor and displaced elsewhere in the world? As Pakistan's President Musharif mused with some bitterness in the week after the earthquake, the U.S. couldn't even take care of it's own citizens in New Orleans–why should Pakistanis expect help from the U.S. in their crisis?

Yet the U.S. remains a rich and profitable nation. It is also, under the Bush Administration, an increasingly profligate nation.

Even if we ignore the billions being spent on the illegal war on Iraq, what about all the other monies being spent in equally wasteful ways? The U.S. gives more than $2 billion to Egypt every year, aid that was promised decades ago when Anwar Sadat, a proponent of and participant in the Middle East Peace process, was president of Egypt. But Sadat was assassinated 20 years ago. In his stead has been the dictatorial regime of the Mubaraks. Egypt has been a hotbed of terrorism for the past decade. Yet the U.S. still sends billions every year: Why?
The U.S. previously propped up Afghanistan with billions as it did Iraq–prior to deciding those two nations were enemies and invading them.

For over a decade the U.S. has spent billions on the Osprey–a heli-plane that has had nothing but problems and is an ultimately unworkable vehicle for the military. The $230 million funding for the so-called bridge to nowhere in Alaska which would be used by a population of just 50 people finally was axed on November 17th by a narrow vote in Congress. But other pork has slid right through, some of it military, some of it pet project like the Alaskan bridge.

The majority of people in the developing world live on less than $1 a day. In Philadelphia it costs $2 to ride SEPTA. A cup of coffee anywhere costs $2; at Starbucks it costs $3 or more. A Big Mac costs $2.50. A pack of cigarettes costs $4.50. A Thanksgiving turkey costs $20 or more.

Imagine living on $1 a day. Feeding yourself *and* your family. Sheltering and clothing yourself *and* your family. Trying not to despair when this is all you have and when it appears that it is all you will *ever* have.

Poverty is the single most compelling issue in the world today. It isn't just the source of incredible suffering and early death, it is also the obvious root of terrorism.

The wealthy West must take responsibility for the poverty both within its own borders and in the developing world. The perilous nature of the West's relationship with the poverty-stricken and desperate developing world cannot be understated. People will risk their lives to escape their suffering and provide for their suffering families; they will risk the lives of others to do so as well. Even if we don't want to take the moral high-ground and be dictated to by the humanitarian nature of this crisis, then we should at least look at the pragmatics involved: poverty breeds despair and terrorism is bred by despair.

The victim/survivors in Pakistan need our help desperately right now. So do the Darfurians. And so, too, do those still displaced in our own nation by Katrina.

The U.S. was once considered a moral leader in the global village. Under George Bush we have become uniformly reviled by all but our most steadfast allies. The U.S. must become more than just a military and corporate gorgon and shift attention away from global greed and toward global aid. It is the best way to protect our nation against terrorism. It is also the only way to redeem our historical legacy and restore our country to the standard bearer of democracy it once was.

Democracy means equity. If we don't practice it, how can we preach it to others?

This Thanksgiving be grateful for how rich you are (your turkey alone cost what most people in the world live on in a month). As you give thanks, remember that part of giving thanks is giving back. Teach that lesson to your children. There is always someone with less than you have. And also something you can offer, no matter how little you think you have.

We have an obligation as Americans to be generous. Remember that this Thanksgiving, remind your Congress people and your President. Our tax dollars should go first to aid for those who need it–here and elsewhere. Demand that your elected officials put your money where hungry mouths are.



The Reaganite-Hype

I ran a division of an aerospace company in 1981. Following my presentation at an annual meeting, I was invited to listen in to conversations between the Exec. VP and various Senators. The thrust of those calls was a cynical agreement to hype the evil-empire and commie menace to the public for one purpose: to sell rocket fuel and engines for Reagan's proposed mobile MX missile project. No one took the "menace" seriously, and consensus was that the mobile MX plan had little merit; however, the plan provided an opportunity for several hundred million in sales.

One conversation in particular made clear the depth of cynicism regarding the gullibility of the public and the lack of any moral grounding about what was proposed. It was business as usual. My own quiet objections resulted in my leaving that arena in disgust. To suggest that the administration or many of those serving in Congress were anything less than cynical about the public and willing to do what it took to "sell" the commie menace as an immanent threat to a gullible public as justification for government contracts certainly flies in the face of my own experience.

The data were clear by the `70's that the Soviets were bankrupt but served a useful purpose as long as they could be portrayed as a threat to national security. Power mongering, cynicism, and contempt for the public were hallmarks of the administration, and certainly many in the defense establishment. That the spin-meisters continue to hype Regan as the single source of Soviet collapse was ludicrous then, as it is now.

-Dan Kelly



And More...

 

The " ... USSR much weaker than Reagan and the U.S. CIA thought it was. ... " , is a bit dubious, though. I'm pretty sure that both the capabilities and the intentions of the Soviets were deliberately exaggerated and misrepresented to the US populace - as a bolster to the military-industrial complex - and the usual big bad bogey-man fear-mongering that's reckoned to make people more compliant and easier to control .

I remember back in the day...
Back when Ronnie Ray-gun was scaring the sheeple about "bears in the woods" I was working for a Pre-Press shop in NYC. One of the magazine we did work for was a Nursing magazine that served the nursing profession. So what was Ray-gun's budget busting military spending costing us? Well according to the people taking care of the nurses who will eventually at some point take care of us, that military spending meant hospitals closing, and shortages in health care.

-David W.



Suffer Little Children

"Mr. Speaker, tonight the Republicans are launching an attack on America’s children, America’s families, and America’s middle class. All of this to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our country. This budget is a sham and it’s a shame. Democrats believe that together, America can do better.

"The National Council of Churches USA has written to every Member of Congress and carefully dissected this budget, and this is what they say: ‘The role of government is to protect its people and work for the common good. This is not the time for a budget reconciliation process. To do so is not only unjust, it’s a sin. It violates all the fundamental Christian principles of loving thy neighbor, caring for the poor and showing mercy. As religious leaders this is a violation that is unacceptable to us. How is it that we show mercy for oil millionaires and not hurricane survivors? We urge you to change this destructive course of action for the sake of our nation and for generations to come.’

"My Democratic colleagues have eloquently made an indictment against this budget, which is immoral because it contains more than $70 billion in tax cuts mostly for America’s wealthiest and decimates the very programs that millions of middle-class Americans rely upon to get ahead.

"As the number of people without health insurance has increased for four years in a row, Republicans are charging ahead with $45 billion in cuts to Medicaid – the health insurance program that provides medical care to America’s poorest children and many of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

"Republicans give new meaning to the words, ‘suffer little children.’ As the number of people in America who go to sleep hungry because they cannot afford to buy food has increased by 7 million people in the past 5 years of the Bush Administration, Republicans are slashing food assistance to America’s poor children. Republicans are slashing funding for preventative services and foster care for abused and neglected children, when more help, not less, is needed. Republicans are drastically reducing funding for the child support enforcement program, which could result in $24 billion in reduced child support from delinquent dads to their children.

"The Republicans are taking food out of the mouths of children to give tax cuts to America’s wealthiest. This is not a statement of America’s values. Democrats believe that together, America can do better."
-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

-Forwarded by Robert Scardapane

This was on the heels of a slim budget defeat in the House (217-215). All House Democrats voted against the bill that makes irresponsible cuts to programs that benefit main-stream America while leaving the big tax give-backs to the rich intact. -NG



In response to Madman's dialogue on Health Care with Ed W., Dan Kelly writes:

AMEN, brother!

As a businessman and an aging one whose wife is a paraplegic, it would be impossible for me to be hired by most companies, large or small. At my age and with Kathie's pre-existing condition, we are too much burden on the burden.

Your point on the idiocy of capitation in medical billings was well said as well, (usual and customary having devolved into an insane range of inconsistent, unpredictable and inequitable price structures).

The medical crisis in this country is profoundly affecting the poor and middle-class. Access to insurance is limited, and the expense out of all proportion to a working family's capacity.

Those same effects on small businesses is equally profound. Small businesses employing ten to fifteen employees ... the bed-rock of our economy, responsible for over 80% of all private-sector employment, has been forced into draconian policies in response.

In simple terms: between outsourcing, insurance costs, and cost of living pressures, the middle class has become the meat in the neo-con sandwich. In the Biblical sense, the situation Sucketh!


Send your comments to: NationalView@aol.com or comments@nationalview.org

-Noah Greenberg