Today's Note from a Madman

Thursday, December 1, 2005


Bush Quote in the Lead

"They who are not with us are against us."
-GW Bush, days after 9/11

You may remember that only three days (or was it two?) after 911, President Bush delivered a speech on television, in which he uttered, to my utmost horror, the statement above.

I heard Anakin Skywalker (soon to become Darth Vader) say the same thing to Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode III." Coincidence, or not-too-subtle political commentary?

-Eddie Konczal

Remembering Rosa Parks - Rosa Parks Day, December 1
How It All Started

"One evening in early December 1955 I was sitting in the front seat of the colored section of a bus I Montgomery, Alabama. The white people were sitting in the white section. More white people got on, and they filled up all the seats in the white section. When that happened, we black people were supposed to give up our seats to the whites. But I didn't move. The white driver said, "Let me have those front seats." I didn't get up. I was tired of giving in to white people.

"I'm going to have you arrested," the driver said.

"You may do that." I answered.

Two white policemen came. I asked one of them, "Why do you all push us around?".

He answered, "I don't know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest.""
-Rosa Parks, from "Rosa Parks: My Story"

-Forwarded by Joan Hervey

I Like Christmas Trees

So there is absolutely no confusion, let me be the first Jew to say that I like Christmas trees. Yes... I said Christmas tree, because that's what it is. It isn't Holiday tree or Bush; it isn't a Season's tree. It's a Christmas tree.

As a matter of fact, I believe calling it anything but a Christmas tree is ridiculous. I'm for allowing public displays at town halls and city parks of Christmas trees. I'm for public decorating of them as well, as a nice community activity. And if you want to help me kindle my Menorah lights, I'd greatly appreciate that too.

A Christmas tree by any other name would still be a Christmas tree.

Now, I know some cite the "prayer in school" debate, and I do admit that there are similarities. There is a difference, however. Anyone could put their own decoration of anything they want, on the same piece of public property to celebrate their own holiday. If we say that the Christmas tree is fine, we must then say that the Menorah (for Hanukah) and the seven Kwanzaa candles (representing the seven principles) or  any other religious observance has an equal right to be placed in the same area.

It becomes a problem when the majority don't want to allow others the same right to display their holiday joy in a similar manner.

Personally, I would like to see the Christmas tree and the Hanukah Menorah and the Kwanzaa candles all displayed with pride on our public grounds. It would offer up the diversity of the American people and their ability to co-exsist with each other on common ground.

So, you may ask, what have I got against prayer in school? Nothing, as long as it isn't practiced during school hours. If parents feel that their own churches or synagogues or other houses of worship aren't good enough to teach their children the true meaning of their religion, just what makes them think that the public school system (already over-taxed and exhausted by the likes of No Child Left Behind and politicians who don't care) could do a better job? Why do I have to take time away from my son or daughter's lessons in math, science or history to teach what ought to be taught in the home or in their church instead?

Do parents feel that they are losing touch with their children and that school prayer is the answer? Or is it that some religious leaders want to push their version of religion, the bible or of
God on "that little heathen child down the block so he doesn't spend eternity in 'H-E-double-hockey-sticks'"? It's not your job to save my child's soul. It's my decision until they have the legal right to make it for themselves.

I am brought back to my childhood, when Rabbi Jack Tauber (1916-1991) of the Avenue Z Jewish Center in Brooklyn NY asked my class one simple question: "Is being religious the most important thing in the Jewish religion?" Everybody thought the answer Rabbi Tauber wanted to hear was "Yes", but it wasn't. After my class, full of ten and eleven year olds finished shaking their heads up and down, Rabbi Tauber got that little smile on his face and told US all that, "No.. it isn't. Be righteous; be charitable and good to your fellow man." Of all the lessons and all of the classes I have taken in my life, that was the one that stuck.

I teach my children Rabbi Tauber's lesson, along with my feelings of what being a Jew means. I teach them to not only be tolerant of others' religious beliefs, but to be inquisitive of them, to better understand why they love God as much as we do, and how that love is applied differently, yet the same. I think they get it.

I don't have a problem with children praying in school, as long as it is before or after school hours and is not used as a barometer of how one teacher of a particular faith treats an individual student of a different faith. Until you can make that guarantee, keep religious freedom by keeping it out of public schools.

-Noah Greenberg


"Since I believe I don't have it, I don't see why I should march. Otherwise, people will think I have it."

-Mufu Adebajo, a 22-year-old african craftsman watching an AIDS day demonstration from the side of the road

That's the kind of shame that is attached to AIDS victims worldwide. It is that attitude, created in the 1980's that has people afraid to admit that they have this disease and afraid to help people with this disease. It is just this attitude that inhibit people from testing themselves, thus spreading the virus to others.

"I believe America has a unique ability and special calling to fight this disease,"
-"G"lobal "W"arming Bush on AIDS Day

Doesn't it seem that something was missing from that quote? Shouldn't it have been followed with "as soon as the 2006 mid-term elections start"?

Of course, one might think that the president could have an ulterior motive:

"The Bush administration insists on protecting the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by using only expensive, patented drugs in its HIV/AIDS programs, instead of lower-cost generic versions that could provide treatment to three times as many people,"
-Salih Booker, Africa Action Executive Director

"The prices charged by pharmaceutical companies, and the policies pursued by rich countries at their behest, continue to keep life-saving treatment out of reach for those most affected by HIV/AIDS."

What's the matter Mr. Booker? Don't your trust the word of GW Bush? The Bushies will help as long as they get to "wet their beak" a little. And the way they "wet their beak" is by making sure their political contributors and fellow corporate shareholders are supplying the drugs at RETAIL.

"Drugs are already on the ground,"
-an unidentified US official

I guess the purchase of retail drugs that the Africans can't afford is now considered "proactive".

The truth of the matter is that we had the opportunity to take action at the beginning of the AIDS crisis back in the 1980's. Unfortunately, at that time, we had a president in Ronald Reagan that preferred to ignore a problem that didn't have much to do with him or his ilk. There can be no doubt that the apathy the Republican Government of Mr. Reagan during those "Iran-Contra lying-to-congress years" have sped up and increased the severity of the AIDS problem worldwide.

And now President Bush gets to use this terrible disease's victims as political fodder.

There is no shame in this man.

-Noah Greenberg

Dr. Dean Looks Ahead

In 2006, Democrats will take back the House and the Senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have done an excellent job recruiting strong candidates, and we are already investing in the local infrastructure to ensure they win. But the key to winning is running a national campaign based on our different vision and the themes that Democrats around the country have put forward.

Americans of all political persuasions are tired of and worried about the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington and to so many statehouses around America. We will offer real ethics reform and election reform so that the Government Accountability Office can report in three years that we can have confidence in our voting machines.

We will offer a program for American jobs that stay in America and for energy independence that will create jobs and wean us off of foreign oil.

The only president to balance a budget in the past 37 years was a Democrat. We will do that again.

We will offer a real tax-reform program that helps the middle class pay for it by eliminating the shocking waste and giveaways the Republican Congress and president have added to the budget and subtracted from revenues in the past five years.

We will join the 36 other countries that manage to include all their citizens in their health-insurance systems while simultaneously balancing their budgets.

We will provide a strong public education system by avoiding bureaucratic federal mandates and taxpayer-funded puff pieces. We will rely on local control while requiring real standards that work nationally.

We will offer Americans real security. We all agree that 2006 must be a transition year in Iraq. While we may have different ideas about tactics and timing, itís clear we must change course. The vision of strategic redeployment set forward by Brian Katulis and former Reagan Defense Department official Lawrence Korb offers a likely roadmap to success that we can coalesce around.

We will offer the American people a government that is honest in preparing for any deployment of American troops and honor their sacrifice when they come home.

Most important, we will talk about Democratic values, which are Americaís values.

The vast majority of Americans believe it is immoral to lets kids go hungry. We agree. The other party cuts school lunches (they just canít seem to leave that one alone.)

Americans believe it is immoral that not everyone has some kind of health insurance. We agree.

The vast majority of Americans believe that government overreaching into personal and family decisions is wrong. We agree.

Americans believe that it is immoral to leave huge debts to our children and grandchildren. We agree.

Americans believe that using issues to divide us as a country to win elections is bad for America. We will restore Americaís sense of community.

Together, America can do better. And in 2006, the Democrats will lead America to do just that.

Dr Dean speaks about the path forward. Again, note that he is speaking about national health care! -Robert Scardapane

In response to "Thanksgiving Madman", Dorothy Schwartz writes:

Finally had time to read the Thanksgiving Madman. Please thank Jenny Hanniver for her lovely essay on appreciating "otherness."

In response to, "What has a better chance of revitalizing the economy? A $1.5 million tax give-back to one ultra-rich GOP contributor or $1,500 tax refunds to one-thousand middle class Americans?" Robert Scardapane writes:

Actually, I think neither. But, if I had to make that choice, the latter is clearly more rational. I don't believe in supply side economics (sometimes called derisively voodoo economics). I believe that demand side economics (Keynesian economics) have a proven track record. Instead of cutting taxes, I would have government invest tax money in research, infrastructure, etc...

That is how demand is created and that leads to a good economy.

In response to "Let's say the GDP didn't rise.," Robert Scardapane writes:

By the way, the definition of a recession is two or more consecutive quarters where GDP does not rise. A depression is a protracted recession.

In 2001, we had exactly two consecutive quarters where GDP was just barely negative. Generally, there is a sharp rebound from recessions - particularly, in jobs. The recovery from this recession has been historically flat. All in all, we still have a net of ZERO jobs since Bush became President. That is because the job market must grow fast enough to keep pace with population growth (whether by young people entering the job market or by immigration).

We already know what happens politically when GDP doesn't rise - the Republicans blame Bill Clinton! They hire an economic hit man, such as George Schultz, to come up with the bogus study that allegedly shows that Bush inherited a recession.

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-Noah Greenberg