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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


"On His Watch"

The Bush Brand of Democracy

Thailand has a brand new government. While Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was hob-knobbing with other world leaders, and helping screw up traffic on New York City's East Side, the Thai army and their Commander-in-Chief General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin (a Muslim in a mostly Buddhist nation) were taking over Bangkok and surrounding the capital. He named himself the new Prime Minister.

Bush's plan for Democracy gets another shot in the arm.. or maybe a little lower.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej is said to be buddies with the new PM. Although talk about having the people run this old-new nation, the King will be at the head.

"The armed forces commander and the national police commander have successfully taken over Bangkok and the surrounding area in order to maintain peace and order. There has been no struggle. We ask for the cooperation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience."
-A new Thai Government Public Announcement

Sounds a bit like "Please pardon our appearance as we redecorate."

After the coup, ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra fired the old head of the army. After all, he has a better job now. Talk about closing the barn door after the horses fled.

There has been so much which has gone wrong under the administration of George W. Bush that one can hardly keep up. Some of you may remember that prior to the terrorist bombings of September 11, 2001, the Bushies flexed their new muscles and pushed through their first tax give-back to the wealthy. That was the first step at our nation's economic instability. Then came 9/11.

"That wasn't our fault," was the cry from 1600 PA Avenue. After all, they "would have moved Heaven and Earth to stop the terrorist attacks". At least that what they said over and over and over again.

Then came great job losses.

"That wasn't our fault," they cried again. It was the
Clintons fault and the Clintons had all this "Good luck" when they were in the White House. And the Clintons were responsible for the dad economic fortunes of today. And the Clintons lost you your job. And the Clintons caused the towers to fall on 9/11. And the CIA was to blame for the bad intelligence.

Then came more jobs lost., and higher gas prices and the Enron Scandal and the MCI Worldcom Scandal and the rich "base of haves and have mores" got richer and the poor got poorer and the middle class made up the difference.

Then it was Saddam Hussein's fault for any and every problem facing the world. Years later, when we found out the truth, again it wasn't the Bushies' fault, despite all of the evidence that pointed to the FACT that they LIED to us in order to go to war. It wasn't their fault that no weapons of Mass Destruction were found in Iraq. he must've moved them It wasn't their fault that the Downing Street Memo's showed the Bushies and British Prime Minister Tony Blair lied to get us into Iraq.

After all, it was all for Democracy's sake.

FREEDOM! LIBERTY! We will be greeted as heroes and they will throw flowers at our feet. That, of course, must be when they stop shooting at our children dressed up as soldiers, which none of the Bushies had ever done.

It wasn't their fault, either, that
our Children dressed as soldiers were given cloth to protect hem instead of body armor. Nor was it their fault that there were so few armed troop carriers to protect them as they moved, unprotected, from place to place "in harm's way".

It wasn't the Bushies' fault that they had no plan for an occupation, or as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said in his Pottery Barn Rule, "If you break (Iraq), you bought (Iraq)." We broke it and are paying for it on the Bush lay-away plan.

And these are but a few.

I don't know what's going to happen in Thailand. It appears that nothing, other than the names on the doors, are going to change. I just hope that this doesn't become another "Bush Freedom Zone." We can't afford it.

-Noah Greenberg

BREAKING: Bush Made Secret Deal With Bin Laden: No Retaliation for Cole Bombing

Forgive me for the 'BREAKING' title, but I think this qualifies. I've just been off the phone, and there are big new developments on the heels of Mickey's "Path to 9/11", indicating that Bush wasn't just ineffective in dealing with Bin Laden: there may have been a significant relationship between the two before Bush even took office.

In late 2000 figures associated with the Bush campaign, including Bush advisor James Baker, allegedly met with representatives of the Taliban in Milan, Italy. Neoconservative figures on the Bush team had convinced Bush that one of the first targets of a Bush administration would be Saddam Hussein, and were seeking regional allies, including religious fundamentalists in the region, to help destabilize the Hussein regime. They were obsessed with the thought of installing a pro-American government in Iraq, and as al Qaeda was formed from forces also allied against Iraq, considered the religious extremists to be necessary, if messy, allies in the region.

By December of 2000, the Bush team, led by Baker, had arranged for a payment to al Qaeda in cash and weapons, and promised to remove Clinton-era punishments against the Taliban for opium production and human rights violations. In excess of $40 million dollars was arranged to be paid, using the Taliban as a proxy. One of the other key arrangements would be that the Bush administration would lobby congress to undo congressional retaliations against the Taliban, and that al Qaeda would be granted amnesty in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- no retaliation would be undertaken for previous terrorist acts by al Qaeda. A total cessation of efforts against the terrorist organization.


I haven't known "hunter" to be wrong yet. Say it loud and often; Bush and the Republican party are Al Qaeda appeasers - that's why they are trying to smear Clinton with PT11.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert from a post by Hunter in Daily Kos

Saddam is to al-Zarqawi as Bush is to Bin-Laden

"There's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al Qaeda associates, according to a Senate report on prewar intelligence on Iraq."
-The Associate Press

Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates,"
-From the Senate Intelligence Committee report, chaired by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) (a HUGE Bush Supporter)

"Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and…the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."
-The BIG quote from the report

"And there was a relationship in this sense: Zarqawi was in Iraq...."
"There was no direct operational relationship, but there was a relationship. They were in the country,"
-White House press secretary Tony Snow stating there was a "relationship" between al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein

Does that mean that Bush was in cahoots with the 9/11 bombers? After all, they were in America prior to, and during the Bush presidency. Much like Hussein knew that al-Zarqawi was in Iraq, Bush knew that Mohamed Atta was in the United States. We know that there were those who warned the president about the terrorists among us. We also know that the president was "briefed" about a PDB titled "Bin-Laden Determined to Attack in US". Using the Bush-Snow-Rove-Cheney logic, that means that President Bush is MORE responsible for 9/11 than Saddam Hussein was.

-Noah Greenberg with Eddie Konczal

Where Our Money Ought to Go

If the millions of dollars a day we are spending in Iraq were spent on providing clean water to people like those who suffered the earthquake in Kashmir, lost their homes, spent the winter in tents, and are now suffering from Cholera -- we would be loved and not hated and we would have less to fear from terrorism.

-Pat Thompson

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

We’re so glad it’s fall–*and* an election year! Between the new shows premiering every night and the pre-election antics, no more whining “There’s nothing on the tube!”

We love when TV and politics intersect. Take, for example, that gayest of shows, *Dancing with the Stars.*

If anyone had illusions that (straight) white men *can* dance, that delusion dissolved into a puddle of pathetic footwork as the new season of ABC’s runaway hit debuted.

Who was the first “star” voted off the parquet? None other than conservative talk show host, Tucker Carlson.

We were actually sorry to see Tucker go, because despite his bad politics, he actually has a sense of humor. (Unlike Sara Evans, the right-wing ideologue singer being backed by Tom Delay, who inexplicably managed to stay in the game, despite incredibly low scores from the judges and a look we haven’t seen since *The Lawrence Welk Show.*)

We so loved seeing Tucker’s white (white?!) button-down shirt untucked and open at the neck (no bowtie!). Plus he really seemed to be having fun, and politically he made a nice counterpoint to Jerry Springer.

Springer was equally hilarious. His is the dancing version of Rex Harrison’s singing in *My Fair Lady.* Just as Harrison talks his songs, Springer walks his dancing. But we give him props for not having a heart attack on stage. (Although there were points where we covered our eyes.)

The most graceless white guy was Harry Hamlin. (We sure hope he moves better in bed than on the dance floor or those big, fat lips of Lisa Rinna’s are going to waste.) We can honestly say we have *never* seen anything that stiff that was that big.

Alas, there is no Stacy Keebler or Kelly Monaco among the women this season. The gals are uniformly dull, with the exception of Vivica A. Fox, in the memorial woman-of-color over-40 role. She definitely has it. But please–get her a more flattering dress!

Our money to win, place and definitely show is on soap and talk-show heart-throb, Mario Lopez. Not only does he have the best ass in the show, the smoothest moves and the cutest personality, but those dimples! If he were in the room with Arnold Schwarzenegger, we’d be hearing more dish about hot Latinos.

Speaking of racial stereotypes, we held our nose and took the plunge for *Survivor: Eugenics* September 14th to see how the race cards would play.


We’d like to say we were pleasantly surprised and that there was no racial element to the show. We’d *like* to say that, but since we actually*watched* the show, how could we?

It’s no secret that *Survivor: Race Bait* has created controversy with its decision to divide the teams by race this round. As many people wanted CBS to pull the show as wanted ABC to pull their reprehensible fiction masquerading as history, *The Path to 9/11.*

But just like ABC mimed free-speech, so did CBS. And to hell with consequences.

We have been a *Survivor* watcher for years, and have truly enjoyed some seasons of the show, once the best reality show on TV. We will definitely be watching this season from beginning to end. But producer Mark Burnett’s high-toned commentary dictated to/through host Jeff Probst that the show is a “social experiment like never before” is just a load of beetle dung.

Here’s what we know from previous *Survivors*: the show has always been ultra white. There have been a few gay men–all incredible flamers–and a handful of people of color (who have always brought their own racial stereotypes to the show: the lazy black guy, the angry black woman, the sneaky/furtive Asian/Latina woman, etc.). The show has *always* highlighted the stereotypical among its few minorities. So really, this isn’t such a stretch.

*Except*–the focus is on *Survivor* like never before. People are actually rooting for their own races in bars and on college campuses. Nice idea, huh? And, just as in previous shows, the stereotypes (purposefully?) abound.

We have the Vietnamese nail salon owner (Cao Boi) who does alternative medicine on his fellow tribesmen. We have the lithe young Latino (Ozzy) who can scamper up a tree (a fellow teammate noted “Just like Mogli in *The Jungle Story.*”) for coconuts. We have the older white guy (Jonathan) who stole the Asian team’s chickens. And we have the African-American team, so rife with stereotypes that if we were black, we’d be suing CBS *now.*

So here’s how it played out: three black women and two black men. The older of the two men, Sekou, was fat and lazy and pissing off the women. The African-American team was the only one that hadn’t managed to make fire by the point of the first challenge, which they lost–resoundingly–because they could not work as a team to save their lives. (The Asians won, followed by the Latinos and whites.)

The losing team got to pick someone from another team to go to Exile Island. The two black men, Nate and Sekou, stepped away from the women and made the decision (they chose Jonathan, the older white guy who stole the chickens).

We weren’t the only ones shocked by that racially stereotyped moment. Even Probst was aghast, and asked the women why they let the men decide. The answer was incredibly lame: “They looked like they knew what they were doing.”

Oh, okay. Did you forget you are playing for a million dollars?

This was also why the group didn’t have fire, yet–because they were leaving it up to Sekou, the guy who was eventually the first to be booted off. He had to take a lot of “breaks” and never got anything done. And although the women had found the water, without fire to boil it, they couldn’t drink it. The team had no fire until day three, when they were given flints at tribal council. (Ironically one of the women, Rebecca, noted on day one “We have to step up to the plate and show, yes, black people know how to swim. Black people know how to get on a boat and paddle. We don't just run track.” But the first challenge was getting on a boat and paddling, and the running up a ladder and they came in dead last.)

It should be noted that the white supremacy websites have been all over this show, which is just their dream program–racial stereotypes and race wars. But what about the average person watching, who isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool racist? How do *they* see the show? Did they see what we saw, which was a spotlight on an African-American team that couldn’t get itself together to do anything, was fraught with gender and other issues and floundered at every turn while purporting to be in solidarity with each other.

That was what we came away with from the premiere episode (episode two airs September 21st)–black people can’t even get along with *each other.* (Meanwhile, over on the Asian team, Cao Boi was telling Asian jokes. Oy.)

Now everyone *knows* that reality TV is edited, right? But is that what viewers were thinking when they watched the show--that it was edited to highlight the stereotypical aspects of each team? (Weren’t viewers of *The Path to 9/11* thinking that the right-wing writer’s scenario was *historical fact*?) We think that anyone watching *Survivor* came away with a head full of racial stereotypes, not one of them good. (And that includes Jonathan, the stereotypical older white guy who steals food–the chickens–from people of color.)
Stay tuned. Or not–we’ll keep you apprised.

Speaking of stereotypes, the evangelical Christians are at it again, going after queers on their own special networks. Debuting this week is *Pure Passion.* The show will be carried by The Sky Angel Satellite Network and will also run on the Christian Television Network and TBN.

According to the Exodus International website: “*Pure Passion* deals with sexual sin and brokenness and the issues that surround it. Each episode will cover problems such as homosexual confusion, child sexual abuse, sexual addiction, masturbation, pornography, transgendered conditions, prostitution, human trafficking, father-wounding, and much more. From personal testimonies to expert teaching, you will recognize many Christian leaders such as Steven Arterburn, Francis MacNutt, John Sandford, Neil Anderson, Jack Frost, Diane Langberg and Kathy Koch. *Pure Passion* also features Christian recording artists like Dennis Jernigan, The Lads and Clay Crosse, who share their own testimonies of sexual brokenness. Spread the word to friends, pastors and support groups about God's healing message heard every week on *Pure Passion.*”

Okay–we’ll try to ignore the fact that one of the leaders is actually named MacNutt and another Jack Frost, and go right to the core of the show.

It’s about “curing” homosexuality.

CBS’s longest-running soap opera, *As the World Turns*, has been doing a queer storyline for the past eight months with a key character, Luke Snyder. Luke’s biological father sought out an Exodus-like group to “cure” his son and things went terribly awry.

We *love* soaps and have always been thrilled by their ability to be issue-oriented while also utterly suspending disbelief. If a *soap opera* understands that you can’t cure homosexuality, that it’s innate, then what exactly are these folks doing other than spreading the word that being queer is bad and if you are bad you will go to hell and if you are going to hell then you might as well just kill yourself.

We don’t like the message. But tune in for yourselves.

The show, produced by Mastering Life Ministries, will be hosted by David Kyle Foster, a former male prostitute; Exodus International President and self-confessed former thief Alan Chambers, pop singer Sy Rodgers, and ex-lesbian activist and self-avowed former “home-wrecker”Christine Sneeringer.

Try and envision this group on *Dancing with the Stars.*

We *told* you this season was gonna be a blast!

Speaking of blasts, we have been mesmerized by President Bush’s all-out offensive against the press. Remember when he *didn’t* give press conferences? Now he’s like Donald Rumsfeld–giving them every day just to scream at reporters.

On September 15th Bush held a press conference to explain–well, have a tantrum about–why the U.S. needs to torture alleged terrorists and other detainees.

It didn’t go well. Perhaps it’s that his handlers have lowered his Ritalin dosage (or upped it drastically) or perhaps it’s simply that Karl Rove’s arm is shorter than it once was. Whatever the problem, it’s a biggie.

NBC’s chief White House correspondent David Gregory took some hits in the Sept. 15th affair. Gregory queried Bush about what his reaction would be if an American were captured by a foreign government which then tortured, tried and convicted him with evidence he wasn't allowed to see.

Remember what we said about someone tampering with Bush’s medication? Well, he went nuts. “My reaction is that, if the nations such as those you named adopted the standards within the [White House's] Detainee Detention Act, the world would be better,” Bush insisted, rather agitated–and also deeply confused, since this would mean the American would be held indefinitely and tortured in secret. Kind of like the men at Guantanamo.

Gregory, an ace reporter and no slouch when it comes to pressing a point, did so, asking about Colin Powell’s commentary on America’s moral standing if we eviscerate the War Crimes Act
“I know you think it's an important point,” Bush sniped, then angrily reiterated that certain techniques were necessary to protect America from terror. Like, well, torture.

Gregory was like a dog with a bone. Once more into the breech he went to get a response from Bush, who, on the verge of waterboarding him, turned his head and said “Next man,” while looking awfully like the Queen in *Alice in Wonderland* when she proclaimed “Off with their heads.”

In the same press conference, Bush referred to Secretary Powell the way V-P Cheney refers to Democrats. He didn’t come right out and call him an al-Qaeda lover, but close enough:
“If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. It's just — I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.”

In case you were wondering why *we* get to torture and *they* don’t: Flawed logic.

Finally, we’d like to once again applaud Craig Ferguson. *The Late Late Show* is far and away the best late night show on network TV. On September 11th, Ferguson came out in a suit and tie, which he’s done only once before–when his father died and he did a tribute show to him.

Perhaps it’s that he’s European, and thus understands the concept of respect for the dead, but instead of a comedic monologue (and his are *fabulous*), he talked about 9/11 and democracy.

Regular viewers know he’s a super intellect as well as a wit, but his 9/11 show proved that he’s got tremendous heart, as well. He talked about love of country (he’s getting his U.S. citizenship) and how it’s a big thing to change countries. And he talked about the survival of our democracy despite 9/11, despite terrorists and despite politicians who have used that national tragedy for their own ends. He told some very moving stories. His guests included CNN’s Aaron Brown on as well as a firefighter who spent a year at Ground Zero and got cancer. The fabulously melancholy Paulo Nutini sang. At show’s end Ferguson noted, “I’m going to pat us on the back now. We didn’t have a single politician on tonight.”


Stay tuned.

In response to "The Pope, the President and the Ayatollah," Billie M. Spaight writes:

Right On!

Your comments are right on about the Benedict mess. While the pope was insensitive and stupid and deserves scorn, his remarks should not be an excuse for killing people.

The problem is that the jihadis will use any excuse--even the flimsiest excuse--to murder and kill people. I would never have put Mohammed in that category the way Pope Benedict did. Even moderate Muslims feel hurt, but unlike the jihadis, they won't go around killing people.

It is a sad commentary on things when insults can't just be insults and people can't insult each other instead. I mean, I could see somebody saying that the Pope is a backwards, intolerant person who doesn't deserve respect. I could even see people picketing and writing comments that are nasty. But killing a nun or people in churches is bad. The nun and the churchgoers don't dictate what the Pope says.

And in my view, Muslims are not responsible for what the jihadis do either. All these crazy extremists get all the attention and everybody else has to suffer. I wish there were a way to get rid of the extremists but then we would turn into them.

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-Noah Greenberg