THE NEWSLETTER

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, December 16-18, 2005

 

Stupid Quote in the Lead

"I think he (Rep. John Murtha) has become too emotional and understandably so. He goes to funerals. He goes, as many of us do, out to Walter Reed, and he sees the price of war. And I think that that has had some effect on him…"
-Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

Appearing on Meet the Press, Sen. McCain argued that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is advocating redeployment of U.S. forces – not because he believes it is in the best interest of the country – but because he has become overly emotional.

Of course, George W. Bush doesn’t go to soldiers funerals. That’s why his policy in Iraq has been so successful.

-Victoria Brownworth

I assume that last statement was said tongue-in-cheek. In response to Sen. McCain, I would ask the Arizona presidential hopeful for 2008this: If Rep. Murtha is so emotional now, where was his emotion during previous conflicts? Murtha has been in congress for almost two decades and has been attending funerals and shedding tears even before that. What Senator McCain doesn't seem to realize is that, unlike himself (McCain), Rep. Murtha IS a visionary and can see what the future holds in a never-ending war.

Rep. Murtha knows that the "end" has to "begin" somewhere with someone. Why shouldn't it begin now and with him?

If John Murtha were to run for president, he would have my support. Period.

-Noah Greenberg



A Note On Health Care

By the way, the number of uninsured is up to 48 million. I read one estimate that around 200,000 people per month are losing their health care insurance. There is every reason to think this will accelerate in the years to come. There is a negative feedback loop - as more people become uninsured, the insured pay higher premiums. As premiums rise, more people become uninsured.

-Robert Scardapane



Much like President "G"lobal "W"arming Bush's televised radio address on Saturday, the following review is similarly and seemingly all over the place. The president's constant desire to link 9/11 with the Iraq war and now his breaking laws to spy on US citizens forced me to write this as two separate essays and then combine them. I did the best I could.

Similar to Bill Murray in Groundhog day when he told Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) "Don't drive angry", it might have been best if I didn't write that way.

GW Admits He Broke the Law
The Televised Radio Address - December 17, 2005


"As President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life. On September the 11th, 2001, our freedom and way of life came under attack by brutal enemies who killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans."
-President Bush from his Televised Radio address on Saturday

Read into this statement. It rings of saying "I will take away the basic rights that the Constitution gives you, the people of the United States in order to protect you, the people of the United States." More so, the above statement gives the same goals to the terrorists of 9/11 the same goals as President Bush - the removal of our basic Freedoms and Liberty.

"Yet key provisions of (the Patriot Act) are set to expire in two weeks,"
-Bush, from the Saturday Speech

The senate and house have modified the Patriot act. Part of the the bill that became law's provision was that it would have a sunset provision, thus putting an expiration date on it. The reason for this was because our legislators realized that something like the Patriot Act would have to be revisited to change what worked and remove what didn't work. The president has the opportunity to sign an improved bill that has the support of the house and senate, but he will choose to make this his first, and possibly only veto of his tenure. While the president of the United States has the right and obligation to veto bad legislation, his "my way or the highway" view of things makes his attitude more like that of a monarch or a spoiled child than like the leader of the Free World.

The president spoke about his ability to use "eves-dropping" methods at his will to tap the phone calls of American citizens; "sneak-and-peek" at our medical records; or even check out the library books and materials WE check out. There is a procedure that allows the use of wire-tapping for three days without a warrant, but after the three days, the warrant needs to be obtained. GW feels that he is simply above the law.

"Yesterday the existence of this secret program (authorizing the NSA - National Security Agency) was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country."
-GW

Now that's the part that got my ire up (like it needed a whole lot of help). Weren't Karl "The Traitor" Rove and Scooter "I Write Smut Novels" Libby revealing "improperly provided" information "to news organizations" when they revealed the identity of an undercover operative to a number of reporters? Haven't our "enemies learned information they should not have" by those closest to you and your administration, Mr. Bush? Wasn't all of this "classified information" you hypocrite?

In stating his case for his ability to ignore and break the law, GW said the following: "Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late."

What President "G"lobal "W"arming Bush fails to disclose is the fact that much, maybe all pertinent intelligence that was known prior to 9/11 was ignored. As many sources have reported, on September 10, 2001, the NSA "electronic ears" picked up two al-Qaeda communications that stated "The match begins tomorrow" and "Tomorrow is Zero Hour."

"On September 10, Newsweek has learned, a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly cancelled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns,"
-Even Thomas in Newsweek

What a fortunate coincident for those top Pentagon officials! I could think of "nearly 3,000 innocent Americans" that President Bush mentioned earlier who wished they had had that information.

"You can't set those values apart in the name of expediency,"
"We cannot set aside the rule of law"

-Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on CBS' Face the Nation in response to President Bush's speech

The values Senator Graham speaks of are our rights to privacy and due process guaranteed by the US Constitution.

What Senator Graham, a Republican, wants to know is simple. Just what gives you the right, President Bush, to go outside of the law when specific laws exist. Lindsey Graham was a lawyer. He was also a lawyer while in the US Navy. Sen. Graham is what most intelligent people would consider to be, an expert in legal matters. He asked, on CBS' morning question and answer program that the president bring forth the legal experts who told him that it was within his rights as president to break the law. He asked that President Bush show US, the people of the United States, the legal statutes of the US Constitution that gives him such rights.

"Leaders were briefed"
-Condoleezza Rice on Meet the Press, regarding the small group of congressional leaders who were "consulted" as to the president's intent to break the law

"The authorization I gave the National Security Agency... is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities."
-GW, from his Saturday speech

The Constitution, which was designed by our nation's fore-fathers to adapt and grow with the nation might think otherwise.

"The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days... I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks..."
-GW

"The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President,"

-GW

Apparently, GW''s thought process went along these lines: "So, although what I did is illegal, I simply don't care. So what I did, which could have easily been brought to our nation's representatives for their approval, I chose not to do. Instead, I chose to ignore the rule of law. "

After all, it's only breaking the law if you get caught, isn't it? Saying "I'm sorry" while saying "I'd do it again" sort of missed the point of the mea culpa, GW.

"The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President,"
"The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general.,"
-GW, passing the legal buck, just in case there are any questions later on

There will be questions President Bush, and they're going to begin with questions from Senator Graham. Graham stated on Face the Nation that he would like to talk to the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales as well as the other "top legal officials" who said it was okay to ignore the Constitution.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties."
-GW

... And it appears that GW's going to do just that, even as we become less safe (due to the loss of the ability to recruit new National Guardsmen and reservists) and loss more and more of our "civil liberties".

-Noah Greenberg



More on Bush's Criminal Activity

Bush said his authority to approve what he called a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists" came from his constitutional powers as commander in chief. He said that he has personally signed off on reauthorizations more than 30 times.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties," Bush said. "And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the president of the United States."

James Bamford, author of two books on the NSA, said the program could be problematic because it bypasses a special court set up by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to authorize eavesdropping on suspected terrorists.

"I didn't hear him specify any legal right, except his right as president, which in a democracy doesn't make much sense," Bamford said in an interview. "Today, what Bush said is he went around the law, which is a violation of the law - which is illegal."

First illegal use of the military, now illegal use of the NSA. Both crimes against Americans, which Bush claims is okay, because lives are at risk. Who's lives? Ours or the Saudi's lives?

'Terrorists' are nothing but criminals. Launching the US military at them was a mistake first because they are elevated in their own minds as to the status of their cause, and second, because real war cannot be fought without objectives and without an identified enemy to kill.

Our military is being trained to torture, blow up women, children and non-uniformed people, drugged by easy and cheap availability of Soma, and anti-depressants, and diseased by not only the foreign whores that are supplied out of Turkey and the Orient by Command, but also DU, and the parasites that infest the middle east.

15,000 of our troops are either dead or wounded with permanent disabilities which make them unfit for duty, and in many cases, unfit for regular life. (jobs, wives, kids)

Why is this man, and he is just a man, getting away with illegal acts as President of the United States of America?

If lives are at risk from terrorists, who are in reality nothing more than criminals on the same level as any bunch of gang bangers, wouldn't it make more sense to feed them to the justice machine, after arrests by people who are very good at arresting criminals? It is within the criminal justice system that warrants can be obtained for wiretaps, legally.

Has Bush hung around for so long with the King of Saudi Arabia that he cannot separate his job from that one? Are the actions of Bush, elaborate, round-about protection for his buddies the Saudis? Is Bush as incapable of understanding three branches of government, as the populations of the middle east?

For at least four decades, oil interests have been either killing or buying off all designers of alternatives to petroleum based fuels. Mmm, odd, that is the same business the Bush family has been in for three generations. Oil.

Can't someone arrest these jackals, the Bush administration as well as any Saudi buddies who are slinking about, and bring them to justice? Is it really going to take a death squad, supported by 57% + of the American populace, to get this dying nation on life support (and out of the hands of mere thugs like George W. Bush)?

There are no lack of alternatives to Saudi oil sitting on the shelves of Standard Oil. They WILL/SHALL be trotted out, if oil becomes unobtainable, and oil companies are forced to figure out a way to make money with them.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Surely we, who have built the best nation that has ever been, can do better than that.

-Rhian



A Response To The President's Saturday Radio Address
Regarding The USA PATRIOT Act
by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a former prosecutor


"Many of us who want improvements in the PATRIOT Act worked hard to help write and enact the original law in 2001. We want to make sure these tools are used against terrorists and not abused to undermine the hard-won rights that are the heritage of every American. Why not go the extra mile for a PATRIOT Act the American people can fully support, knowing that it has sufficient safeguards for their liberty?

"Threats to our freedoms are as current and as disturbing as this morning's headlines. Chairman Specter has pledged hearings on the domestic eavesdropping that the President has authorized, and I support his determination to examine these revelations. Electronic surveillance is an important law enforcement and intelligence gathering tool, but it can and must be done lawfully, in accordance with our laws and Constitution.

"Fear mongering and false choices do little to advance either the security or liberty of Americans. Republican and Democratic senators joined together this week to say we can do better to protect Americans' liberties while ensuring our national security is as strong as it can be. Every single senator -- Republican and Democratic -- voted in July to mend and extend the PATRIOT Act. That bipartisan solution dissolved when the Bush Administration and Republican congressional leaders rewrote the bill in ways that fall short in protecting basic civil liberties and then tried to ram it through Congress as an all-or-nothing proposition.
\
"I have joined with senators of both parties in an effort to enact a short-term extension so that we can keep working to improve the bill. For the Bush Administration and Republican congressional leaders to allow the PATRIOT Act to expire would be irresponsible. Instead of playing partisan politics and setting up false attack ads, they should join in trying to improve the law. We ask the President and Republican leaders to reconsider their opposition to briefly extending the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act until these improvements are made.
"Most importantly, our government must follow the laws and respect the Constitution while it protects Americans' security and liberty. The Bush Administration seems to believe it is above the law. It is not and neither is any administration. Our nation is a democracy, founded on the principles of balanced government. We need to restore checks and balances in this country to protect us all and all that we hold dear."

-Forwarded by Jean Alaffa



Reactionary Republicanism

The rhetoric from the right wing of late on Wal-Mart's, health care, social security is downright agonizing.

One right winger claims that Wal-Mart is the GM of the 21st century and we must embrace their new economic model. Really? I refuse to support anyone that treat workers poorly and promotes international sweatshops. I don't care how much money they save consumers (assuming that is true).

Another right winger claims we would be better off if all employers drop health care coverage. Really? The alternative according to them is consumer directed health care. Yet, the only people attracted to such a system are the young and healthy.

Yet another right winger whines about social security burdening small business and the self-employed. Really? I didn't realize that consider caring for the elderly a burden. I guess I didn't get that memo!

The right wingers argue that we should give up the social safety nets put in place by Democrats because the economy has changed. That is no reason at all. If anything, the current economic volatility argues for a stronger social safety net.

The right wingers believe they can fool us into thinking they are futurists when in fact their ideas are reactionary - taken from 1920's Republicanism. Those ideas may sound new because we haven't heard them in a long time but they are nothing but the failed policy of the past that led this nation into a painful depression. I see no reason to return to that era.

-Robert Scardapane



Media Madman
Novak Moves to a New "Home" - Fox News


Robert Novak, the political columnist who revealed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, left his job as a commentator for CNN and will move to Fox News.

How appropriate! He'll fit right in with the rest of the Fox News Thugs.

-Robert Scardapane



Patriot Act Reauthorization Bill Defeated

The Patriot Act Reauthorization bill failed to achieve cloture in the Senate by a vote of 52-47. In typical peevish Bush style, he threatened to veto a 3 month extension for the current Patriot Act. So, where does that leave us? Right now, the Patriot Act will expire on December 31st.

I think it's time to put our civil liberties on equal footing with security.

The Senate should heed legitimate civil liberty concerns about "sneak and peek" searches and probes into personal records. To date, the Bush administration has not provided a compelling rationale for eliminating search warrants. As Benjamin Franklin famously said - "Those who are willing to trade civil liberties for temporary security, deserve neither".

-Robert Scardapane



In response to "Maybe you could dig out the Rio Grande, extend it to the Pacific and make it a shipping lane for water commerce and cruises. You could take the billions of tons of silt and dirt you remove and build up the barrier islands around New Orleans," Rhian writes:

This is one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time. Really. It would fix the economy, the illegal problem, fix New Orleans up against more Class 5 hurricanes, None of the jobs of creating this could be outsourced. . . employment, of architects, developers, earth movers, engineers, landscapers, etc. etc. WOW, I do love big ideas.

Noah for President. 2008

-If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. (Now where have I heard that before?) -NG



In response to "Make Republican Senators and Congressmen and women lose their health care coverage, it will make them support universal health care," Robert Scardapane writes:

A similar thought ran through my head this morning. I was thinking about Kerry's health care plan in 2004. If everyone got the same health care as their Representatives and Senators, there would be ample motivation to guarantee that the coverage is sufficient. In addition, all federal employees should be in the social security system rather than a separate pension. This way we would truly have a safety net with shared risks.



In response to "The least someone who wants to make the US their home should do is to learn (or at least attempt to learn) English. I don't think it is unfair," Robert Scardapane writes:

Indeed, it is a requirement for citizen to demonstrate competency in both English and American history. This requirement is framed as English is the official language. If some states adopt multi-lingual policies that's their prerogative. I presume the voters in those states came to the conclusion that it was more effective to work that way.

I would go further and say it's our obligation to teach immigrants English.

I suspect we are doing a rotten job at that. So, for the record, I am not one of those sink or swim types. I believe we should spend the money to help people learn English. In addition, languages such as Spanish, Chinese, etc... should be taught in public schools. Americans can not expect the rest of the world to speak English. In the world of globalization, the ability to speak multiple languages will be extremely valuable.

And Jenny Hanniver writes:

You want the true ancestral language of Americans? Don't choose English. Not very many Americans have forebears from England. However, most white Americans and many persons of color have ancestors (Christian or Jewish) who spoke a dialect of German, so why isn't German our national language? Makes as much sense as English, which has just as many mutually unintelligible dialects.

To those who want English as an "official" national language, I would remind them that the Norman dialect of French and Latin were the "official" national languages of England from 1068 to about 1400. Note that our courts, even in the U.S.A., STILL use a lot of jaw-breaking Norman French and Latin terms like bailiff, habeas corpus, and oyez, along with much commoner ones like judge, jury, legal, and law. Just flip through Black's Law Dictionary. It was far worse in the Middle Ages when every element of a legal proceeding was conducted in French and Latin. English peasants who came to court knowing only the language of their village had no idea what was going on. And how about the people in Wales? Until the 18th century few in Wales spoke any language but Cymrig (Welsh), so they were kept in the dark not only until 1400 but beyond.

The English refused to give up their language and their culture, and they should be proud of that. But when English courts gradually converted from French/Latin to English, it was no help to the Welsh, Highland Scots, Irish, Manx and Cornish, who all spoke Celtic dialects. Everywhere in Britain and Ireland the English language replaced French as the oppressor's language. In France, the French language and culture tried to eradicate every vestige of long-independent Brittany.

The once-independent Manx and Cornish people lost both language and culture, but the others have been struggling back. For two hundred years the Celts of Wales and Brittany have been gradually reclaiming their language and their sense of selfhood. I'm not Welsh or Breton (though I'd be proud to be), or not more than a smidgen, but I salute their efforts and partial success and I'll cheer on minorities anywhere in the world who've managed to maintain some authentic traditions. What you ARE is worth fighting for. When Africans were brought to the New World as slaves, the first policy of their oppressors was to deprive them of their language, musical instruments, arts and culture. The same problems have faced all other minority cultures everywhere. All of them have been forced to learn the language of their conquerors--and the basic reason people do so is not to go shopping, not even to get a job, but to cope with legal systems that ALWAYS pick on minorities first, because a bewildered person is easier to convict.

I'm not Jewish any more than I'm Welsh, but Jews have suffered the same deculturation and many know how it ruptures a people from their wholeness. Here's a quote from last spring's "Freedom Seder" in Philadelphia at the White Dog Cafe. It's by a Jewish woman, Sheila Peltz Weinberg:

“In every liberation movement the sharing of stories becomes crucial. When women first gathered in consciousness raising, or alcoholics shared their “experience, strength and hope” in church basements, stories were shared. First we touch the common pain, then the common hope. From there we devise strategies for transformation, no longer caught in the isolation of uniqueness. Every oppressor tries to keep the oppressed from talking to each other, from telling their stories to one another.”

My son and daughter-in-law, who was born in Korea, are raising my granddaughter bilingually in Korean and English, and I am delighted. I submit that the BEST and truest stories are those told by parents to children in the languages of their ancestors. Whoever they were.

And Rhian writes:

Kudos Noah. Thank you.

The language of Mexico, not really sure what to call it, is made up of about 30,000 words.

English has approximately 1.2 million. One of the reasons there are so many more words in English is that communication is done in the sciences, engineering, medicine, mathematics based on pi, rather than metric (predominately) and thousands of other professional, English subsets.

A person of Hispanic descent, who comes to the US whether illegal or not, who refuses to learn fluent English, cannot hope to do any better here, than they were doing where they came from. For example, electrical engineering degrees from Mexico, translate into construction jobs in the US.

The Constitution cannot be adequately translated into Hispanic. US citizenship cannot be understood unless one learns to speak and understand, read and write English. Education levels for employment in jobs that pay more than minimum wage, is not possible without a command of the English language.

Is there anyone who can translate this into Hispanic? So they will know?


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-Noah Greenberg