Today's Note from a Madman

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Jim North wanted me to tell you all that his web site is up and running: -NG

The Bush Health Care Plan
Plan to Stay Healthy

The conservatives are pushing consumer directed health care. The concept is that a person will have a health savings account (HSA) coupled with high deductible health care plan. When the money in the HSA is exhausted, the high deductible plan kicks in. The deductible is typically 1000 dollars for individual coverage and 2000 for families. The conservatives claim that making people spend more of their own money will reduce unnecessary treatment, force them to shop the best price, etc...

To date, the evidence is that people who chose HSA's in fact avoid treatment when they shouldn't. The end result is more serious conditions and emergency room visits - exactly what we need to reduce! In fact, it's not plausible to shop around for many treatments as they aren't listed. But, what is more absurd is the notion that a person can shop around for what ails them. Such a notion presumes that people can self diagnose their medical problems - a very dangerous presumption indeed.

Imagine a scenario where you are slumped over from a pain somewhere in your gut. Is your first reaction going to be login to your computer assuming you own one and go through a series of questions in WebMD? I doubt it. If you are feeling as if you life may be in danger, your first reaction is going to be to call 911! You have no control over what hospital will answer the call and you aren't going to shop for the best price for whatever treatment results.

Comparing shopping for medical treatment with shopping for a new TV is absurd. Buying a new TV is not life saving event though some people act that way. You can take your time finding the best price and make trade offs between shopping the lowest price and convenience of location. For example, do you really want to drive 5 hours just to save 20 dollars?

I think consumer directed health care is the final straw in the deterioration of the current system. Americans will reject this approach as an even more dismal failure than managed health care (HMO's). It's time to build a hybrid single payer / private insurance system. The rest of the world made that transition. It's time for the United States to join the civilized world.

-Robert Scardapane

Media Madman
A Real AP Headline
Bush: Iraq Invasion My Responsibility

Don'tcha just love the way "G"lobal "W"arming Bush takes "responsibility"? Now there's a word that has been misused and distorted, kinda like "Freedom", "Liberty" and GW's new favorite word, "victory."

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."

Let me translate for you all. What GW REALLY meant to say is this:
While none of it was MY fault or MY doing, and all the fault goes to the CIA (remember that former CIA director George Tenet received the "Freedom" Medal) and the FBI and Bill Clinton and anyone else BUT me, if you want to blame me, as wrong as you would be, well... go right ahead. But remember, just because I failed to ignore all of the warning signs , my anti-terrorism export (Richard Clark), my president's daily briefing memo (PDB) and a multitude of CIA and FBI agents who reported "unusual activity", you can't blame me, but I'll take the responsibility... kind of... sort of.... maybe not. Nah...

Wow... The Bush-Buck-Pass is alive and well.

"Saddam was a threat and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power,"

Now just wait a darn minute here. Didn't he just say that the intelligence was faulty and he took responsibility? If you'd do it all again, knowing all of the "intelligence" was "faulty", how could you possibly say you'd do it all again? Most people, when realizing that a mistake was made on their part, would attempt to avoid making that very same mistake again, wouldn't they?

"There was no reason for America to go to war when we did, the way we did, and for the false reasons we were given,"
-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision,"

Yes, it certainly was YOUR decision, Mr. Bush, I love Freudian slips


How can a "right decision" end up worse than "no decision" at all? Let's face it, under Hussein, the Iraqi people, especially those who weren't with the more secular Sunnis, had it unbelievably bad. But aren't there just as bad or worse leaders still in this world? Does anyone think that Iraq was more of a threat than Iran? I know I don't. All you have to do is look at the words of Iran's new president to know that. Does anyone think that Israel and the rest of the world would be safer with a neutralized Iraq or Iran?

"We can ... expect that the elections will be followed by days of uncertainty. It's going to take awhile."

Well, so much for "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

"Victory will be achieved by meeting certain objectives: when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can protect their own people and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against our country,"

That... and when there are no more natural resources left for the likes of Dick Cheney's Halliburton to pillage.

-Noah Greenberg


Rightie calls me an "elitist" because I believe in a safety net for people who are poor. This is the most Orwellian Newspeak I have ever heard in my life. How can caring about the community of people around me be elitist? The very definition of the word has been turned upside down!

It is elitist to assume that everyone is so privileged so as not to need a safety net. It is also cruel and unthinking. There is nothing like real-life experience and knowing people to see what is needed. Stepping over homeless people and seeing them on the trains is a very real and graphic thing. Spending more than $500 a month on prescription drugs (with coverage!) is real. Knowing people who are unemployed and not getting jobs is also real. I've Been There Done That myself regarding being unemployed and desperately seeking work. Reality has a way of informing thinking.

Disagree all you want Rightie--it's your choice--but using buzzwords and names to put somebody down because you cannot understand what that person has seen or experienced to form his or her own views is not good logic. I admit frankly that I don't understand you either--I just haven't had your experiences. If you want to tell me what experiences made you form your ideas, I am willing to try to understand.

If it's my intelligence you prefer to knock, let me say this: Where is it written that people with high IQs are not allowed to express themselves because somebody is going to call them a name? I have a right to my IQ whether anybody likes it or not. I am not questioning Rightie's IQ--it could be higher than mine--so what? Who really cares? Being intelligent doesn't make me an elitist any more than having blue eyes or any other trait I have. It's just a trait, that's all.

I care about only one thing--living in the America I was taught to believe in--a nation that opened its arms to poor people and gave them an opportunity to better themselves and helped them when they could not. Everything else is not relevant or important because it was our compassion that made us a great nation. If we lose that, we have nothing to protect or defend because then we are no better than our enemies.

Maybe my thinking is moralistic--maybe not--but so what? We liberals are always being told that we don't have any morals. We DO--it just that ours are different from those who are on the right. In a pluralistic society, that is to be expected.

If my ideas are a turn off to Rightie, that's OK. His ideas don't thrill me either, so we are pretty much even.

-Ms. Billie M. Spaight

Freedom of the Press - Freedom to Own the Press

And you thought that the news was bad HERE!!! Well, take a look at what the US is doing abroad. Not only do "we" pay Iraqi reporters to write pro-US propaganda, but our military also writes and broadcasts the "news" for secretly US owned and controlled radio stations and newspapers in Iraq!!! And not only does the news released through these channels contain disinformation, but also agitprop, and outright lies.

Having lived in the communist bloc, I am well aware of how the "propaganda arm" of the government worked and, let me tell you, we got better information THERE than WE are getting HERE now! Given the rate and direction that things are going in this country now, we are moving ever closer to a totalitarian state, but one without any of the benefits that go with it. In fact, although our security apparatus is developing along the lines of the former Soviet model (and will soon surpass it, thanks to modern technology), other aspects of this administration's policies and actions more closely parallel those of German fascism.

-Chris Tennant


Peter Wallsten and Bob Drogin of the LA Times report that the French intelligence service tried repeatedly to warn the Bush administration that the idea that Saddam Hussein had tried to procure uranium from Africa was crazy. Their source is Alain Chouet, France's former chief of counterintelligence, backed up by a former CIA official:

The French-U.S. communications were detailed to The Times last week by Chouet, who directed a 700-person intelligence unit specializing in weapon proliferation and terrorism. Chouet said the cautions from his agency grew more emphatic over time as the Bush administration bolstered the case for invading Iraq by arguing that Saddam Hussein had sought to build a nuclear arsenal using uranium from Niger.

....When President Bush gave his State of the Union address in January 2003, citing a report from the British that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium from Africa, other French officials were flabbergasted.

One government official said that French experts viewed the statement attributed to the British as "totally crazy because, in our view, there was no back up for this." Nonetheless, he said, the French once again launched an investigation, turning things "upside down trying to find out what was going on."

The French say that American queries appear to have been based almost solely on the infamous Niger forgeries and nothing else. However, the British continue to claim that they had independent evidence of Saddam's procurement attempts, which means that even if George Bush's 2003 SOTU statement ("The British government has learned....") was mendaciously misleading, at least it was still technically correct.

But was it? Maybe someone from MI6 ought to think about leaking the real story about this, since at this point it appears that the British actually had no more evidence than we did.

...and on December 14th Bush acknowledged he led the country to war based on faulty intelligence. But, he added, it was the right decision.


-Forwarded and Commented by Victoria Brownworth

More on Immigration

In response to my article about illegal immigration, followed by Robert's, this exchange took place:

Noah: People in this country should be allowed to get green cards after a certain number of years (I think 10 is too many, but I'm not sure how many it should be - maybe three to give people something to look forward to). But more importantly, I fell it a necessity that anyone who wants to work in, and have opportunity to stay in the US should be required to learn English.

Robert: The reason I put the number of years at 10 is to balance being "fair" to those who have proven they will hold done a job and stay out of trouble versus being too lenient and encouraging even more illegal immigration. I would rather have all immigration remain legal and under control by reasonable limits - subject to what additional people we can absorb.

I have no quarrel with helping immigrants learn the English language. By the way, I think the law already does require some competency in English to become a citizen BUT the law is often ignored. I even heard of the oath of allegiance being given in Spanish. I am not a fan of multi-lingual. I think that is too much of a financial burden to produce all documents in multiple languages.

We seem to be pretty in agreement on immigration. Our view points aren't shared by most Democrats who are at heart open border advocates - though they usually duck the issue and make enforcement impossible (in effect creating an open border). I had some very entertaining exchanges of letters with Frank Lautenberg on this issue. He keeps telling me how his family came here from Eastern Europe. Well fine, my family came here from Italy in the late1890's. We all came here from somewhere else, except the native Americans, but the people that came here in 18th, 19th and 20th century were all legal immigrants that wanted to live here. My family settled in little Italy. They went lived through all of the prejudices against Italians, they learned the English language, etc... I just don't get why this is now considered an unfair requirement. A transition from Italian to English is just as hard as Spanish to English. Maybe we need to invest in more language teachers to help immigrants ...

In response to "it has felt like Lieberman is favoring (or veering) to the Republican right in some important areas. I keep expecting to hear that he has changed parties," Eddie Konczal writes:

Can we trade Lieberman for John McCain?

I don't want either of them. -NG

In response to "I have only one thought on the Patriot Act, and it's a thought that many regular citizens probably have had. It's okay to extend the Patriot act as long as it doesn't effect ME. It's okay to extend the Patriot act as long as no one looks at MY medical records or wiretaps MY phone or looks into MY personal life," Robert Scardapane writes:

The problem is "how would you ever know when that might occur?". That's the nature of civil liberties. They are invisible until you get into a situation where you looking for protection from injustice. Personally, I find it creepy that the government claims the right to enter my home and search it without a warrant. How do I know that I may become the target of
a political witch hunt or the victim of someone bearing false witness against me as a personal vendetta? There just is no way to know and that is why these invisible civil liberties are so important.

Great Quotes

James Madison warned that "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

Harry Truman: "Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the military/industrial complex had the potential to "endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

"What has become of the American people that they permit the despicable practices of tyrants to be practiced in their name?" former Reagan administration official Paul Craig Roberts recently asked. "The Bush administration is in violation of the US Constitution, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Standard, and basic humanity. It is a gang of criminals," he wrote.

Former President Jimmy Carter also voiced concern. "Everywhere you go, people ask, "What has happened to the United States of America?" he said, referring to international reaction to America's evolving stance on human rights, the environment and the separation of church and state.

1942: The New York Tribune features a front page story entitled "
Hitler's Angel has $3 million in US bank," referring to Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen and his ties to Union Banking Corporation. Later that year, Union Bank official Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather, is charged with "Running Nazi front groups in the United States." Bush is elected to the U.S. Senate ten years later.... Newly discovered government documents prove that Prescott Bush's ties to the Nazis continued until as late as 1951, and that he and his cohorts "routinely attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators."

During the early 1980s,
Oliver North helps draft secret wartime contingency plans which provide for "the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA," and more than twenty years later, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Bush administration might employ these Reagan-era security initiatives, installing "internment camps and martial law in the United States."

Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, reports of civilian detention camps and plans to "herd people into sports stadiums," are punctuated by John Dean's question: "Could terrorism result in a constitutional dictator?"

By late 2005, after
President Bush proposes a greater role for the military during natural disasters and the imposition of marshal law should there be an avian flu outbreak, former Reagan cabinet member Paul Craig Roberts asserts that "The Police State Is Closer Than You Think."

1953: After
Iran's Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalizes Iran's oil industry. Britain pushes the U.S. to mount a coup. The CIA, led by Teddy Roosevelt's grandson Kermit Roosevelt (and with the help of Norman Schwarzkopf's father) overthrows Mossadegh during Operation AJAX. "The crushing of Iran's first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms," the Guardian later notes.

In 1957, the CIA creates SAVAK, the
Shah of Iran's secret police force, which routinely relies on torture -- using the same interrogation techniques the CIA imported from the Nazis. Nearly half a century later, the world learns of the CIA's network of detainment facilities and American-sanctioned torture.

-Provided by Chris Tennant

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-Noah Greenberg