Today's Note from a Madman

Thursday, December 8, 2005


Boy... I sure do miss John Lennon. For those of you who don't know, it was 25 years ago today that John's life was lost to an assassin's bullet. -NG


Cheney vs. Rice - Are we for or against torture today?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that the United States has not and will not resort to torture. The statement, made to a NATO European members was reassuring, if nothing else.

Too bad that our Vice President, Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney doesn't feel the same way, In fact, Cheney's stance on human rights' violations, and his "torture memos" led former CIA Director, Stansfield Turner to say this:

"I'm embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture. He condones torture, what else is he?"

But the international community seems to have taken Rice at her word, in spite of the Cheney contradictions.

"We have received quite clear answers concerning airspace and overflights, and that there will be no cruel or inhuman treatment inside or outside the United States."
-Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot

"I think NATO and EU ministers were able to raise their concerns that we should not diverge from one another on the interpretation of international law,''
-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

"Secretary Rice promised that international agreements are not interpreted any differently in the United States than they are in Europe."

Relating, however, to Rice's statements, one wonders whether or not she meant it, and so do our allies. Look at the follow-ups to both Ministers Bot's and Steinmeier's comments:

"All the fields have been covered,''
-Bot, seemingly stating that there should be no gray area and the US shouldn't attempt to make exceptions

"That, at least, is a good statement,''
-Steinmeier, referring to the "interpretation of international law"

Sounds a bit like a back-handed compliment, if you ask me. Let's face it, our allies don't trust US. In our most Bravado-filled moments, we say things like "we'll go it alone" or "who needs those snobby Europeans." But the truth is, we do. It's easier to have allies when facing a foe (or foes). It's better to spread the cost of the battle or an occupation among a large group of allied nations rather than to foot the whole bill oneself, as we have done in Iraq. The reason is simple: By spreading the cost, both in troops and finances, over a larger group of nations (a coalition), each single country stays stronger both militarily and economically.

Think of how vulnerable the fledgling united States of America (the framers used the small "u") was while fighting the British for our independence. It wasn't until our alliance with France were we able to afford the cost of such a war. Meanwhile, Britain fought against two allies on foreign soil and lost.

The reason to not crow our greatness to our allies while denigrating them to each other is simple: We need them. we are stronger against a growing mid-east menace which, although a minority, is growing. As a group of allies, or partners, we can make that hateful minority less of a threat. By showing the world that we behave according to global law, we show that we are truly compassionate

Although there is no compromise in religious fanaticism, there is the ability to defeat it as a global community. The Bravado won't work here.

-Noah Greenberg

Robert Byrd's Responds to President Bush

"Today, President Bush suggested he is willing to pay any price for his plan in Iraq. The numbers tell the story of the President's adventure in Iraq, and it's a tragic story indeed. More than 2,130 of our men and women have lost their lives in Iraq, while more than 15,000 have been wounded in action. The United States has devoted $256 billion to Iraq. How much more is needed? What more will be demanded of the American people? The President either can't say, because he doesn't have any real plan, or he won't say, because he refuses to level with the American people. But one truth is clear: It is time for the Iraqi people to take the lead in their own country, and it is time for America to turn its attention to the incredible needs here at home.

"On Tuesday, victims of Hurricane Katrina testified before Congress that they are living in desolation. They have not seen any meaningful federal assistance from FEMA. It is December, the hurricane struck in August, and yet the victims seem forgotten by the White House. One must ask why the United States continues to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America.

"The President started the conflict in Iraq, and our troops have gamely continued. They toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. They carried out the search for weapons of mass destruction. They have performed with courage and determination.

"The Iraqi people are going to the polls next week to elect a permanent government. We ought to use that moment to start to establish a plan to begin to bring our troops home. The Iraqi people need to find their future and the American people need to demand a government which cares about the huge problems here at home."
-Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)

I have to admit that I can't listen to Bush. His voice sends a chill down my spine. But, I did have a chance to watch the Katrina victims testify. I could not believe that such terrible treatment could happen in our country. Okay, I know the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana Governor made their share of mistakes. But, when the chips were down where were the
national institutions that are suppose to protect American citizens? Silly me I forgot - they were in Iraq along with the vehicles that can travel through deep water - real useful in the desert!

-Robert Scardapane

Isn't it time to make lobbying Illegal?

If I were a candidate for office, I think that the strategy I would run on is a promise to try and make lobbyists and lobbying illegal. Haven't we had enough of this form of "legalized bribery"? Whereas industries can make educated suggestions on how their industries should be run and regulated, can we really trust them to do it objectively? More importantly, can we trust our elected officials to side with US when THEY are pulling the purse-strings? I don't think so.

We need to get rid of lobbyists, and the way to do that is to limit campaign contributions and stop the revolving door that goes through industry, then to congress, then to the lobbying firms of "K" Street, then back to congress. When we stop making it "profitable" to be the "representative of big business" we can make OUR representatives behave as we want them to again.

Becoming a representative of the people should be a willing sacrifice for the good of the people, not the path to fortune.


I believe in the following:
1- Eliminate all donations, whether they be to the candidate or the party, from any non-registered voter (and since industry has no vote, they are to be considered non-registered as well).
2- Force over-the-air radio and television stations, who wish to keep their licenses, to give air-time to candidates based on a point system (where each office gets a certain amount of points to use as currency for their political campaign)
3- Remove the revolving door of industry-to-congress that exists. This would include all senior staff members. The restriction would be in relation to the amount of years they have served or their office (an ex-senator could not work for a company that does business with the government for at least six years, for example).

These are just some ideas from someone who wants to see the "people" back in "we the People."

-Noah Greenberg

Why Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Would Become Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Q: What does Hurricane Katrina tell us?
Bernie Sanders: I think Katrina is one more indication of how inefficient and corrupt this Administration is, and indicates the absolute lack of seriousness that Bush has in making the government respond to the needs of the people. He is there primarily to give tax breaks to billionaires, to do the service of large corporations. This is just one more powerful, dramatic, painful example of the incompetence and lack of concern of this Administration. They are so separated from the lives of normal, low-income people that it never occurred to them that if you're poor and have no money, no car, that you can't leave. You don't just get in your SUV and go to a nice hotel a few miles away.

Q: So what's your message to progressives?
Sanders: We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution. That means we are working on politics not just three weeks before an election but 365 days a year. We have to develop a strong economic message which says every American is entitled to health care through a national health care program. And we're not going to allow these large corporations to push through trade agreements which allow them to throw Americans out on the street and run to China. We're not going to give tax breaks to billionaires and then cut back on the needs of our elderly or poor or kids or education. We're not going to privatize Social Security---in fact, we're going to strengthen it. We're going to provide quality education for every kid in America, from preschool through college. We have to take on these corporate leaders who are selling out the American people, whose allegiance is now much more to China than it is to the United States. If we have the courage to take these people on, I think we can overwhelm Bush and his friends.

-Forwarded by Robert Scardapane

For those of you who don't listen to "Breakfast with Bernie Sanders" on Air America Radio's syndicated Thom Hartman program, Sundays at 11:00 AM, you should. -NG

Crazy People, Air Marshals and Strange Things

An air marshal shot and killed a US citizen at Miami's International Airport. The air marshal did the right thing. The man left the plane, running through the aisle like the madman (no relation) he was (his wife tried to explain that the man, Rigoberto Alpizar, was mentally ill and didn't take his medicine). Mr. Alpizar, who claimed to have a bomb in his bag, when ordered to stop on the tarmac, reached into his bag, giving the air marshal seemingly no choice but to fire.

"There is no reason to believe right now that there is any nexus to terrorism, or indeed that any other events are associated with this one."
-James Bauer, the special agent in charge of federal air marshals in Miami

Bad news for Mr. Alpizar... Good news for the rest of US.

I have no qualms with the actions of the air marshals. They were reacting to the threat posed by a deranged individual who claimed to have explosives. Even the tearful pleas of his wife didn't and shouldn't have halted the deadly process that 8unfolded before her eyes. I am heart-broken for her and her husband and wish there was a different outcome. The situation could do nothing but end badly.

But I do have one qualm, however. After all of this tumult, all of the bags were taken off the flight headed for Orlando and subjected to dog-sniffing. Two of the bags were then detonated.

My question is this: What were in those two bags?

We hear about how well the Bush administration is protecting US. We hear about strange and funny things happening, but are told not to worry. Just what was in those two bags that made the experts blow them up? Just what was that maple-syrup smelling odor that washed over New York City last month? Just what was the reason for that cloud dispersal drill over Manhattan Island two months ago? Why was the Homeland security Threat advisory color code implemented so often? Is there reason for US to be concerned about a bird flu here in the US?

We have had so many well-timed scares over the last few years that one wonders why. It appears that the latest one which took the life of Mr. Alpizar was a real threat due to uncertainty. But what of the others? Do you believe that the Bush administration above using terror as a tool? Or are they just hiding some really bad stuff from US?

-Noah Greenberg

A Great Letter All Should Read

America's conservative, right-wing, Christian Republicans have been very vocal about three social issues. Right wingers support the death penalty, they want stricter legislation against illegal immigrants and they are very much in favor of cutting social programs that help the homeless and poor pregnant women.

This Christmas, perhaps these issues should be looked at in the spirit of the season. Jesus was a homeless child who was born to a poor woman. He and his family fled to Egypt to escape persecution, so he was an illegal alien. Most importantly, when you look at the crucifix, you see a man who was put to death as a result of the death penalty.

Perhaps when these Christian groups invoke the cross, they should remember that the man on the cross was once a poor, homeless, illegal alien who died as a result of the death penalty.

This hopefully puts Christ and his mission in perspective for all of us this Christmas season. And hopefully, the hearts of the conservative right wingers will embrace the poor, as Jesus would have done.

-Nancy Catania, from the South Jersey Courier Post, December 7, 2005, as forwarded by Eddie Konczal

Media Madman

A heard a caller on the Jerry Springer With Jay Marvin show say he didn't vote for the Democrat or the Republican candidate because they don't care about the little guy. When Springer asked who he did vote for, the caller replied "The Libertarian Candidate."

You just can't make this stuff up.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "President Bush said that the Sunni's will learn to accept the new, Shi'ite government "that is strong enough to protect minority rights." I wonder if the new Shi'ite-led government will learn to accept, protect and respect the Sunni minority which had been their oppressors during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Do I really need to wonder?", Robert Scardapane writes:

Don't wonder too much. Iraqi troops will stand up for their own local area but don't feel an allegiance to the central government. Why it is taking so long to "train" Iraqi troops? They already know how to shoot guns but they don't feel loyalty to a United States dominated central government. The Bush-Leaguer is caught in this contradiction:

Iraqi troops must stand up so the United States troops can leave.


Iraqi troops will be reluctant to stand up until the United States troops leave!

In short, Murtha's plan is the best approach - a staged pull back to the periphery. This will send a powerful signal to the Iraqi people that the United States has no intention to dominate their country.

An Ann Coulter Quote

"I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am,"
-Ann Coulter told a crowd of 2,600 Wednesday

I guess she doesn't too many people to debate with.

-Eddie Konczal

I want to know what the 2,600 people who were there to hear her speak didn't walk out at that very moment. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg