Today's Note from a Madman

Monday, December 5, 2005



Media Madman Quote in the Lead

"Nobody's even debating why we went to war... it's (the debate on the reasons why we went to war in Iraq) over,"
-Tucker Carlson on Hardball with Chris Matthews

This is the GOP at its very best. Deny the existence of an issue then put your own spin on it. Now more than ever people are waking up to the fact that they were lied to by "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party ultra-rich elite that are making a killing off of the Iraq war. They want to know "why", and in order to know that, they must also ask "how?"

Telling US that "the original reasons don't matter", Tucker, doesn't make it so. Someone has to answer for the dead and injured.

Remember, it's all part of the never-ending "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party strategy to use WMD's (Weapons of Mass Distraction) against the people of America.

-Noah Greenberg

DeLay's Delay is Over - Let's Get To It

Tom DeLay is not a conspirator. So says Texas Judge Pat Priest, who is presiding over the Tom "I am not a crook" DeLay case. The judge found that there was reason to drop the conspiracy charge against the man who once claimed, "I am the law."

That would have been some of the best news DeLay ever received had that been the only charge against the Houston Congressman and former number two GOP'er in the House, but it wasn't. You see, there's this other small matter called MONEY LAUNDERING that "Tommy-Boy" has to answer for.

I bet DeLay, his lawyers and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party "Greedists" were licking their chops at the possibility of having all charges thrown out. I could just hear them now:

"...baseless accusations..."
"...Liberal witch-hunt..."
"... Democrat partisan Ronnie Earl..."

...and much, much more.

"The court's decision to dismiss Ronnie Earle's numerous charges against Mr. DeLay underscores just how baseless and politically motivated the charges were,"
-Kevin Madden, a DeLay spokesman

Isn't the MONEY LAUNDERING charge the more serious of the charges? MUCH MORE SERIOUS? Oh yeah... It is.

"Mr. DeLay is very encouraged by the swift progress of the legal proceedings and looks forward to his eventual and absolute exoneration based on the facts and the law."

Funny ("funny" as in ironic, not "funny" as in ha-ha) how I'm looking forward to that as well.

John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, the other two "gentlemen" who are under indictment, like DeLay are accused of funneling $190,000 worth of corporate money from the federal GOP coffers back to Texas for use by DeLay cronies in their attempts to win seats in the Texas legislature. The plan worked, but now it's time for DeLay and his buddies to answer for it. You see, in Texas it is illegal to use corporate money in a campaign.


Wow... There is something actually illegal in Texas. Does it come with a Death Penalty?

The reason that the conspiracy charge was thrown out wasn't due to DeLay's innocence, but rather good timing. You see, DeLay and his buddies did conspire, but it wasn't a law yet. They got in under the wire. The act, although wrong, at the time wasn't illegal (like it is now).

Maybe they ought to leave "Tommy-Boy" alone. After all, he IS the law.

-Noah Greenberg

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

This is the fourth year in a row the poverty rate has risen. Is this what "Christian leadership" does for a country? I consider myself a Christian who was taught to look after the poor and give joyfully. It makes me sad that the Bush administration uses Jesus to further political aspirations without following his teachings.

I also am sad for our country. I have a few questions for those who cited "moral values" as a reason for voting for George W. Bush: Is it moral to make the sick and elderly decide whether to take their medication regularly or to cut dosages so they can put some money aside for food and heating oil? Is it moral to deny part of our population basic civil rights? Is it moral to refuse to pay people an honest living wage for honest work? Is it moral to saddle our children with a huge deficit? Is it moral to let corporations hijack our democracy?

When the bottom line is the only thing that matters, the decisions will never benefit the common good.

Does the Christian right see any correlation between President Bush's alleged piety and pre-emptive war, tax breaks for the wealthy, the decimation of the natural world for the sake of profit, the loss of individual liberties, a concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, a newly defined Fortress America and naked threats to anyone who doesn't agree with us? Just what in the life and teachings of Jesus supports or even allows this ungodly litany?

Jesus had kind words to say about the Good Samaritan and rather harsh words for the Pharisee, who wore his religion rather than lived it.

In my opinion, liberal values, whether expressed by churchgoers or secular humanists, are still based on the Judeo-Christian tradition and, in particular, the teachings of Jesus. These values embrace compassion for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the old and the homeless.

In the Scriptures I have yet to find verses in which Jesus condemns global treaties, endorses a policy of tax cuts for the wealthy, or promotes an "ownership society" in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Perhaps Pat Robertson can help me locate these passages, as well as those that support political assassinations.

Bush and the extremists on the Christian right have created a twisted Republican Jesus. As heard daily on Fox News and right-wing hate radio, they have modified the commandments: Love your neighbor as yourself, unless he is a foreigner; you shall not kill unborn children, but killing 100,000 Iraqis is OK; you shall not covet your neighbor's possessions — unless it's oil.

I have news for all of them: Jesus is not the god of the GOP, big business or the religious right.

James V. Burke
(originally published in The Home News Tribune Online)

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

As Americans began preparing for the holiday season last week, President Bush gave a speech to a pre-sorted audience of midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
In his speech the President once again expressed just how far out of touch he is with the majority of Americans and their feelings about the long war on Iraq.

Bush said, "We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory."

If Andy Reid said that in a press conference about the Eagles' season, people would think the stress of the past few months had finally gotten to the best coach in the NFL. Sure, the Eagles won the last game after several crushing losses. But could they win *every* game from now till SuperBowl time? For *certain*? And if they didn't, would Reid just *declare* they had won *anyway*?

That scenario sounds a little, well,* crazy,* doesn't it? As did the scenario presented by the President last week.

"We will never give in. We will never back down." How many times have Americans heard this already?

Didn't we hear after 9/11 that the terrorists would be hunted down and captured and made to pay for the egregious murders of 3,000 innocent Americans? Yet Osama bin Laden is still vacationing somewhere in the Middle East, most likely staying with our ally, Pakistan.

And didn't the President tell us 24 months ago that the war on Iraq was over–"Mission Accomplished"? Ninety percent of those killed in the war have died since the President made *that* grandiose statement.

Weren't Americans also told that this would be a short, decisive war, that after the capture of Saddam Hussein the insurgents would lay down their arms and the war would *really* be over?

Wasn't it just a few months ago that both the President and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that victory was near, because the insurgency was "in its death throes?"
And every other month there are reports of the death and/or capture of al- Zarqarwi, the titular leader of the "insurgency" in Iraq, yet those always turn out to be false.

Thus Bush's unequivocal statement that the U.S. would accept nothing less than complete victory rang more than a little hollow, as did the subsequent applause from his captive audience. What, reporters and pundits were soon asking, would complete victory look like?

Would it look like being greeted with flowers and open arms by Iraqis as Vice President Cheney insisted would happen when the U.S. first invaded Iraq?
Would it look like total control over the oil fields of Iraq?

Or would it look like it's been looking lately: a mini-version of the fall of Saigon 30 years ago?

One can admire a stalwart leader, even, under certain circumstances such as the ones Churchill found himself in during World War II, an intransigent leader. But one cannot admire a leader who is stalwart and intransigent in the face of irrefutable error, who ignores the facts just because he wants them to be different. Hitler did that as the Third Reich was falling to the Allied invasion 60 years ago. Hitler's closest advisors told him the end was irrevocable; he ignored them and died at his own ignominious hand in a secret bunker.

Bush's intransigence on Iraq cannot be admired, it can only be scorned. Much has been made in recent weeks about the plethora of Democrats who once supported the invasion of Iraq now standing down on the war. When Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, a hawkish veteran of Korea and Vietnam who once fully supported the war demanded an exit strategy on the floor of the House two weeks ago, the Administration bristled, branding the much-decorated veteran as a coward.

But it isn't cowardice to acknowledge error or even failure. And it certainly isn't cowardice to acknowledge the truth, which is that the war on Iraq has produced none of the things that the President and his advisors promised except for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Not only have Americans not been welcomed in Iraq, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis say that the nation is worse off under American occupation. In addition the U.S. invasion has opened Iraq to terrorists from all over the Middle East; Iraq under U.S. occupation has become a virtual playground for al-Qeada and its off-shoots. Iraq is far more violent and decidedly more out-of-control than it was under the Hussein dictatorship. Bombings and explosions kill an average of ten Americans and 100 Iraqis a week.

The war on Iraq appears both unwinnable and endless to all but the President. The first Gulf War lasted from August 1990 to February 1991–six months. The American involvement in World War I lasted a little more than a year. The Korean War lasted just under three years. The Civil War lasted four years, as did the U.S. involvement in World War II.

Thus without clarity of leadership the war on Iraq is destined to go on as Vietnam did–for more than 28 years from the time the French began the war until the fall of Saigon. The U.S. first sent aid to the French in Vietnam in August 1950. On September 5, 1956 President Eisenhower said in a news conference that the French "are involved in a hopelessly losing war in Indochina [Vietnam]." But in 1961, President Kennedy sent special forces units to Vietnam, although some troops had already been stationed there for two years. The first American soldier was killed in Vietnam on July 8, 1959. The last American soldier was killed in Vietnam on April 29, 1975, when Saigon fell.

Twenty-six years of American deaths. During a speech April 7, 1971 President Nixon said that setting a firm date for troop withdrawal would "serve the enemy's purpose, not our own." In 1973 President Nixon demanded a "clear victory" in Vietnam: "peace with honor."

Vietnam might not have been America's deadliest war, but it was America's longest war. When Bush spoke about Iraq last week, insisting on nothing less than "complete victory," he echoed Nixon at his most megalomanic. Iraq has already gone on too long: 30 months. Thirty months might not seem like very long to most people. But a lot can happen in 30 months.
Anyone who's had a child knows 30 months is a small lifetime: it's the time in which a baby is born, learns to crawl, talks and walks for the first time, grows to twice her or his size.

In 30 months the U.S. has witnessed the deaths of more than 2,100 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis–among them thousands of children–in Iraq. In 30 months nearly 18,000 American soldiers have been injured, more than two-thirds of them so severely (amputations, brain trauma, blindness, third-and fourth-degree burns) that the damage is permanent. In 30 months some soldiers have not been home for more than a few weeks at a time; the military has instituted a stop-loss program: a soldier's time of service might be up, but he or she can't go home until the Pentagon says so.

A lot of other things have happened in that 30 months of war. Numerous soldiers have suffered from severe mental stress, some committing suicide, a few killing fellow soldiers. Some have gotten sick from strange illnesses only found in the Middle East, like the 34 soldiers who died from a strain of pneumonia medics had not previously seen. Many others have been killed in accidents–roadside and gun related. Others, like NFL star Pat Tillman, have died in episodes of friendly fire. In 30 months several hundred soldiers have died from non-combat-related injuries or illness, but the Pentagon doesn't release those numbers, just as they don't count the number of civilian dead and those Americans are not part of the current body count.

Bush said in his speech that, "Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation."

Yet the attacks have increased exponentially in the past three months; they are daily and manifold. And the costs beyond human lives both American and Iraqi also cannot be sustained. It costs $6-billion a month to fund the war on Iraq. Six billion a month while 42 million Americans are without health care and two in five American children lives below the poverty level. Virtually every military person asked has hedged on both troop withdrawal and the number of troops that should have been deployed initially to avoid the current chaos.

Since 2006 is a significant election year, it is likely that some troops will be withdrawn next year. But it should be remembered that Nixon began to withdraw troops too during elections–withdrawals that took place over six years.

Troop withdrawal is, according to Bush, dependent on Iraq being able to police and defend itself. However, Iraqi security forces are ill-equipped, understaffed and according to almost every source, Pentagon and expert, widely infiltrated by private militia members and insurgents. How can this forces be ready to guide and protect Iraq by next year when 155,000 expertly trained American troops can't do it?

The lack of military and policing expertise in Iraq isn't the only problem. There is yet to be a fully functioning government outside of U.S. occupation. And there is clear evidence (daily evidence) that democracy is not evolving in Iraq, despite the new (and disputed) Constitution and the recent (and disputed) elections. Rather there is increasing evidence of the kinds of egregious human rights abuses that plagued the Hussein dictatorship, including the recent findings in Jadyira where scenes of torture were uncovered.

At the close of his speech last week President Bush said, "To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief."

The man who, along with his Vice President and his closest advisors ran from Vietnam service himself–Vietnam, a war much like this one–now pledges the lives of more and more Americans and Iraqis with his hapless comments. His speech might sound tough and stalwart, but it is just another hollow statement from a leader who has failed to lead in this war.
There is no easy answer for the mess Bush and his cohort of non-military men have created. But it is increasingly clear that the American presence in Iraq has achieved nothing but a daily escalation of violence and outrage among Iraqis. Without true leadership, without any clarity of purpose in Iraq, the killing will continue–past the 2006 elections, past this President's much-awaited 2008 exit.

Vietnam yielded nothing but 26 years of American soldiers dying with no "clear victory"–only a hellish bloodbath as Saigon fell and a 30-year wound left behind. Throughout that conflict the Vietnamese had none of the insidious weaponry nor religious-political zealotry of al-Qeada, al-Zarqarwi and the anonymous insurgents.

It's time for an exit strategy, for definitive time lines and definitive numbers. It's past time to acknowledge that this war was wrong from the outset, that there can be no "clear victory" and that admitting error is a sign of strength, not weakness. Lives matter. Political posturing doesn't. Let's stop throwing American and Iraqi lives away as if they were yesterday's trash. Victory will never be within our grasp. We must bring the troops home. Now.

Racing to the Bottom

Stacy Mitchell argues that Wal-Mart is really just one of many global companies leading the race to the bottom. She recommends the following as broad guidelines for a political movement:

1) Bring Back Trust-Busting .This process actually started with the Republican president TR Roosevelt. when he broke up Standard Oil.

2) Expand Community Control Over Development. When Edison (NJ) mayor George Spadoro's secret plan to bring in Wal-Mart was exposed he lost in the Democratic primary. More actions are needed to hold politicians accountable to their communities.

3) Support Small Business Creation. Tax policy should be geared to helping small business rather than favoring large chains.

4) Value Work. This is the crux of the matter. No one who works 40 hours per week should be living in poverty.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg