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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, February 5, 2007

 

Bush's Hidden Racism

This past Saturday, President Bush addressed the Democratic Caucus after he was invited. In the six years since he has been in office it's the first time that Mr. Bush has accepted this invitation. It will be a good thing - a very good thing - if this president finally realizes that in order to get along he better, well, get along.

When meeting with Governor Bob Riley of Alabama after Hurricane Katrina, President bush addressed him as "Governor Riley". When addressing former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (REPUBLICAN-IL), Bush addressed him as "Mr. speaker. Similarly he addresses the new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (DEMOCRAT-CA) as Madame speaker. In fact, going back through many of President Bush's speeches one notices his consistent reference to both Democrat and Republican elected members of government in respective manners.

And after referring to one of these elected officials it's not uncommon for the President to call the Rep or senator or Governor by their first name. But when President Started his speech at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa to House Democratic leaders, he chose to begin with the following:

"Speaker, thank you. First of all, thanks for the invitation, Madam Speaker and Rahm, thank you very much. I enjoyed sharing ideas with members of Congress."
-President Bush

Now we all know the remark made by Senator Joe Biden (DEMOCRAT-DE) in regard to Senator Barak Obama (DEMOCRAT-IL), but just, what seemed, hours after Biden was being taken to task by everybody with an avenue to do so, President Bush had this to say about the junior Illinois senator:
"articulate"
-President Bush describing Senator Obama on The Fox News Channel

Maybe I'm just being a bit too sensitive, but perhaps President Bush needs a little sensitivity training himself.

Democrats and the news media alike blasted Biden who made the day he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 2008 for his "main stream African American" remark. Just why does President Bush get a pass, especially at a time when Biden was being taken to task all over the airwaves and the Intert(s)?
We certainly don't expect the Fox News Channel to say a negative word to the President, but what about everyone else? Maybe the abuse by the GOP toward the African American community is so prevalent that it simply goes unnoticed.

I guess that being a Republican president means never having to say "I'm sorry".

-Noah Greenberg



MOLLY IVINS: A TRIBUTE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

Syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer January 31st at her home in Austin, Texas. She was 62.

Those are the basic facts of her death. The facts of her life were so much more than the sum of her obituaries. Molly Ivins was, for most journalists, an institution, like the Chicago Book of Style and Strunk & White. Ivins’s motto was "Raise more hell." She was irreverence incarnate and her death is not merely too soon, but too awful.

Ivins had been battling cancer since 1999. Her third recurrence landed her in the hospital a few weeks before her death, but she decided to go home and push on. She had dedicated herself to writing “until I die” about the war on Iraq and how Bush had to pull the troops out. Her very last column (she was syndicated to 400 newspapers) was about just that.

I only met Molly Ivins once, 25 years ago, before I truly knew who she was. I was living in the South and she was giving a speech in Austin and some friends dragged me to see her.

It wasn’t that she changed the life of the budding 20something journalist and activist I was then. She didn’t. But what she did do was make it clear to me that there were women doing what I wanted to do and doing it well. She had wild hair and a wild look and she spoke loudly and laughed a lot and it was difficult not to fall in love with her manner and style just hearing her talk. Reading her columns over the years I have never wavered in that feeling I first had when I heard her speak: that she was telling the rest of us–“Go ahead, dadgummit, do it!”

Ivins is best known for going after political hackery and cravenness in all its forms–egregious and more egregious. She won more awards than you could shake a stick at, and with good reason. But she wasn’t simply “award winning journalist, Molly Ivins.” She was a rabble-rousing, take-no-prisoners, don’t-suffer-fools-gladly activist for justice of the highest rank.

I have said over the years that Ivins was my hero. We use that term entirely too much in America and generally for people who have never done a truly heroic act in their lives, and thus we cheapen the word. But Ivins *was* heroic, because she never backed down and she withstood a lot. She took on the bad guys (and gals) and revealed the guys (and gals) who no one knew–until she outed them–were bad.

She stood up for the beleaguered and the vulnerable and she just hated injustice and greed and avarice and lies. She’s the one who first called George Bush “Shrub.” Of Rush Limbaugh she wrote with disdain, “Satire has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, it is like kicking a cripple.”

Ivins was a master of satire and irony, and no one would say she wasn’t powerful. But she used her weaponry with finesse and ease and against the people deserving of her punts and jabs.

In Texas, where Ivins was from, there is a flower called the bluebonnet. They are small and pink, white and blue, and grow in a great, wild mass. As you drive through the state, everything will be barren and awful and dry as dust and then suddenly–a mass of bluebonnets cascading over a patch of roadside or a small field. The bluebonnets are always startling, because they seem to come up out of nowhere when you least expect them and most need to see them, most need something to keep you going.

Molly Ivins was that clutch of bluebonnets. She was there when we needed her–to remind us that there is no more important thing than justice, no more worthy cause than protecting the vulnerable, no more vital job in life than stopping all the killing.

It is not hyperbole to say that Molly Ivins gave her life in the pursuit of truth and justice. It is not hyperbole to say that without her, it will be that much harder to carry on. But in her memory, we must.

She wanted the war to end. She pledged her dying breath to that goal.

The best memorial we can give her for her service to us all it to take up her cause.



Forgotten Commitment in the Big Easy

“President Bush is expected to shift $1.3 billion away from raising and armoring levees, installing floodgates and building permanent pumping in Southeast Louisiana in order to plug long-anticipated financial shortfalls in other hurricane-protection projects, a move Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) describes as a retreat from the president’s commitment to protect the whole New Orleans area.”

I used to live in New Orleans in what used to be the Ninth Ward. I can still see George Bush standing in front of St. Louis Cathedral days after Katrina--all the electricity available was used to light him. He stood in a blue work shirt (as if he had actually been working for the victims) and pledged his help for the region. Then the lights went out ---all over--and he left. And he has never looked back.

-submitted and commented by Victoria Brownworth



Texas Gov Rick Perry Orders Anti-Cancer Vaccine

I don't live in Texas and have my daughters in home school, but have four girl grandkids and since the New Jersey based Merck has taken it upon themselves to target every female in the country for mandatory vaccinations, I must protest.

The heart of the protest besides being opposed to anything and everything federally mandated, is the claim in the following portion of the article

-Merck could generate billions in sales if Gardasil — at $360 for the three-shot regimen — were made mandatory across the country. Most insurance companies now cover the vaccine, which has been shown to have no serious side effects.
The New Jersey-based drug company is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country-

To recap, billions of dollars are to be made, and the vaccine has been shown to have no serious side effects.

How many times to do we have to hear this claim from pharma companies before we realize that their 'no serious side effects' statements are worthless.

The reproductive system of the female is so complex that no doctor really knows how it works, especially over the long term. From puberty to child bearing to menopause, there are significant blanks of knowledge about the system. Therefore, how can anyone doing any short term research know, that 'there are no serious side effects'?

Yet, in this wash of ignorance about the female reproductive system, Merck, standing to make billions in revenue, and Governor Perry, will mandate that the vaccine be injected into all the girl children in Texas?

Thalidomide was a drug for nausea, touted in WWII, for pregnant women, as having no serious side effects. It was a miracle and stopped a generation of moms-to-be from throwing up. It wasn't until the grandchildren were born to the girls who were dosed with thalidomide while in utero, without arms, legs, fingers, etc, that the pharma and doctor community realized they had made a mistake.

Birth control pills of the 70s were similarly touted, till women began to die of blood clots. VIOXX was a similar 'miracle' for pain, till men and women began to die of heart attacks. There are hundreds of other pharma/doctor mistakes and assumptions that have killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of trusting people in the US.

Regardless of state law, no man has the right to order vaccinations for anyone except his own children. The sooner the American people wake up and demand that dictators be arrested, imprisoned and tried for despotism over the people, the better.

My granddaughters live in Idaho and North Carolina. This is copied to their parents in the hopes that they will be able to do something, before despotic measures are taken in their own states.

-Rhian



THE LAVENDER TUBE: NOTES ON A SCANDAL
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007, San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

Ah, TV–it’s weeks like these we love it as much as we love...sex, pasta or Nancy Pelosi as kick-ass Speaker of the House.
There’s so much excitement–where do we start?

Well, we’re thrilled that *Lost* is back, of course. The return was everything we knew it would be. Nothing like a really well-written, well-crafted and well-acted drama series to keep us tuned in.

Speaking of dramas and returns, in the continuing saga of *Grey’s Anatomy,* Isaiah Washington is out of rehab. That was quick! Only a week to cure homophobia. Wow! And we thought it might take a whole month! (Remember, it’s going to take Rev. Ted Haggard, the evangenital–evangelical–who was caught with his pants down *five years* to cure his closet homosexuality through spiritual rehab.)

Maybe T.R. Knight won’t have to quit after all, as our sources at ABC tell us he is planning to do. Since Washington is cured and all.

Craig Ferguson (who was in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction 15-odd years ago “before it was trendy, when it was just about saving your life”) noted when Washington was released “Eight days in rehab for anger management and homophobia. All those episodes of Will&Grace. Yep, he *must* be cured.” Then he just rolled his eyes.

Isn’t Paris Hilton due for rehab? She was spouting the n word and the f word out in public. (And why is she still allowed out in public? Aren’t her 15 minutes like *totally* up?)

Well, since we now have a cure for homophobia and it’s incredibly quick, let’s get homophobes into rehab, shall we? If it becomes a trend in Hollywood, how long before the whole country will want to do it, too? Can’t you see it: The Democrats will be hosting rehab parties–Stephen Speilberg, Barbara Streisand....

Speaking of trends spawned by the tube, we’ve been seeing these cool little ads with hip 12 year old girls for Gardisil, the vaccine for cervical cancer developed by Merck. It’s a great ad campaign with a catchy tag line: All the girls are singing “I want to be one less”–the one less refers to one less woman with cervical cancer. In the TV ads, the girls are doing pubescent girl things–jumping rope, skateboarding, singing together, going to school.

The images clearly represent young, carefree girls who are enjoying their *non-sexual* lives as girls. There are no boys in the ads. Some of the girls are obvious tomboys. Some are girly girls. But all are just girls having life-affirming fun. They clearly have no thought of sex in their young heads. It’s a perfect advertisement for what it’s selling: a product to help vibrant young girls grow up to have a life free of cancer.

Anyway, there we were, placidly watching the news on Groundhog Day–not April Fool’s Day, mind you–and there it was, the lead item after the terrible tornadoes in Florida. (We like how the new Republican governor there thinks FEMA will be right over. No, that was just for brother Jeb, dear. You will have to sit and twirl, just like they are *still* doing in New Orleans 18 months after Katrina.)

The news item was this: Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order February 2nd making Texas the first state to require schoolgirls be vaccinated against the STD, human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer.

Maybe he saw the TV commercial. Or perhaps *Deal or No Deal*?

The networks could not get enough of this story, of course, because Perry is not some flaming East Coast liberal, but an evangelical Christian Republican. Parents were just hysterical over his decision. One mother interviewed on NBC Nightly News said, “Is he going to issue chastity belts, too?”

It was a rather remarkable series of news stories, each more hysteria-inducing than the next. You would have thought that Perry had just signed an executive order insisting that Mark Foley or a bunch of Catholic priests go visit every schoolchild in Texas after dark.

Here’s what actually happened:
Perry chose an executive order because he didn’t want the legislature or conservative groups or parents’ rights groups interfering with his decision. (Has he been to rehab to be cured of conservative illogic?)

Every single person interviewed on every network said that the vaccine meant condoning premarital sex and that Perry’s decision was interfering with how parents chose to raise their children.

And they say the U.S. is a backward country....

According to ABC, NBC and CBS news, Perry declared that beginning in September 2008, all girls entering the sixth grade will have to receive the vaccine, Gardasil. And just to be sure *all* girls get the same protection, Perry insisted that state and local health departments make the vaccine available *free* to girls nine to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. As if that were not enough, he also wrote into his order that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21.

*Wow!*

It was like an episode of *Boston Legal,* except it was real.

So–a Christian, evangelical, conservative, Republican, anti-abortion, anti-embryonic stem cell research Governor of Texas, the kill-me state, thinks that it is better for little girls to be protected against cervical cancer than die from having sex when they get older. Does this mean he believes in *science* over *fake morality*?

On ABC’s newscast, Perry said, simply, "The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer. It’s no different from polio."

What’s next? Teaching evolution?

Let us just say now to all the little girls in Texas: you owe your lives to Gov. Perry who cared enough about you to not see you punished irrevocably for being human when you grow up.

Speaking of poignant moments, *Boston Legal* has consistently been keeping the heat turned up on the Bush Administration, focusing on issues of dissent, free speech, Katrina, the war on Iraq and a host of other political bullet points. (Plus, they have a black cross-dresser on the show who is *not gay,* but who *is* fabulous.) On this week’s show, which was about the lunacy of no-fly lists, Alan Shore (Emmy winner James Spader and one of the best actors on prime time) gave an impassioned speech about how much he loves America. And how important dissent is to protecting the country. It brought a tear to our eye, to be sure.

If you aren’t watching *BL* you have to ask yourself: *Why not?* David Kelley is doing his utmost to remind the viewing audience that there are political issues that we cannot afford to set aside. Like free speech and privacy and human rights and people still waiting for New Orleans to be rebuilt.

Speaking of waiting for hell to freeze over, we thought that’s how long it would take before we ever found another sit-com we liked after *Frasier* went off the air. We are not sit-com fans. We like drama. (Of course we like drama, it’s genetic!) That said, we have fallen in love with more than one sit-com this season, the most recent of which debuted this week, CBS’s *Rules of Engagement.* (Mondays)

It is, in a phrase, pants-pissingly funny. And smart. Very smart.

Patrick Warburton and David Spade are gearing up, after one episode, for Emmys. Warburton’s dead-pan delivery as the jaded married guy, Jeff, is superb. Spade is at his ironic best as the carefree bachelor, Russell. The third member of the trio is Adam (Oliver Hudson), newly engaged. (Adam: “I think marriage is going to be great.” Jeff: “Based on what?”)

One of the reasons we *don’t* watch sit-coms is because they all seem to be hopelessly heterosexual in ways we don’t enjoy. *Rules* is definitely straight, but all about the foibles, and thus actually funny. Very funny.

*The Class,* which debuted in September, took a while to warm up. It is now so funny you will want to get the DVD set the second it becomes available.

*The Class* *isn’t* just heterosexuals–it’s a myriad of characters, all dysfunctional, some straight, some queer. The ensemble cast is superb, although Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Richie Velch, is perhaps the most hilarious actor on prime time. The show has more than one gay character, Kyle Lendo (Sean Maguire), who’s out and Perry Pearl (Sam Harris), who’s flaming, but closeted and married.

Speaking of married and flaming, Sara Gilbert, who plays Richie’s bitchy ex-wife, Fern, is having a baby. Gilbert (*Roseanne,* *ER*) and her partner, TV producer Allison Adler (*Commander in Chief*) are expecting their second child. Adler gave birth to their first child in 2004. Take that, Mary Cheney!

Speaking of devil spawn–well, we don’t really have a segue to that, but we just had to say it. Devil spawn and Mary Cheney. Yes, that does sound right. Far right.

Speaking of queers on TV, we continue to be immersed in the lesbian/transgender storyline on *All My Children.* The fight for Bianca’s love is heating up. (When oh when was the last time–other than *The L Word,* which doesn’t count because it’s on Showtime–you saw a lesbian love triangle on the tube anywhere but in your own fantasies?) Zoe/Zarf and Maggie are duking it out over Binx. At this point we are so in love with Jeffrey Carlson’s wild and crazy Zoe, that we don’t know who to root for. Which means that *AMC* has successfully integrated not just the lesbian characters but also the TG one into the larger soap landscape.

See what rehab can do?

A source tells us that NBC will not be outdone by ABC in the queer as soap arena. According to our very knowledgeable source, on *Passions* (which already has had the first black lesbian soap character, Simone), Chad Harris Crane (Charles Divins), one of the main heart-throbs of the quirky soap, will be outed as a closet case. Our source tells us that the married Mr. Harris Crane will be caught in flagrante with another man.

Since *Passions* is soon to be cancelled, all we can say is–talk about going out with a bang! Two men in the sack together?

On *AMC* this week, JR caught Babe in bed with Zoe. Perfectly innocent on the part of Babe and Zoe, who are just girlfriends, but JR noted as he found them sleeping together: “I don’t know which to be more bothered by–a man in bed with my wife or a lesbian with man parts in bed with my wife.”

The times, they are a-changin’.

Meanwhile, over on *As the World Turns,* the MIA Luke came to a family dinner just in time to be verbally gay-bashed by his cousin Brad who’s back in town and didn’t know Luke was queer. Luke handled the moment well, but his mother, Lily, tossed Brad out on his hunky ass and told him such language was not acceptable in her house.

Hmmm–they could have used her over at *Grey’s Anatomy*....

Meanwhile, on the soap where all the fashion designers are straight–really, every one of them–the hunky, suave Kyle Lowder (check out his website, kids) has taken over the role of Rick Forrester. Lowder, who spent five years on *Days of Our Lives* as Brady Black, is the best Rick since Jacob Young (who has played JR on *AMC*since 2003). We wish that Rick’s comment that he was at a leather bar in Silver Lake meant there was finally a gay designer in the family, but we have a feeling he’s going to go for his pseudo-sister, Phoebe. (To which we say, ick.)

Then, over at *General Hospital,* Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough), the only character living with HIV on daytime, is facing the prospect of having possibly transmitted the disease to her lover, Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson).

The docs have been playing safe and Patrick was certain he wanted to be with Robin despite the HIV. But since he got his iffy test, Robin pushed him to be re-tested and he’s afraid to find out for sure.

Since America has pretty much forgotten that AIDS exists outside of Africa, this is edgy stuff. Robin contracted AIDS more than a decade ago from her boyfriend, Stone, who died of the disease. It was then the first AIDS storyline on daytime with a central character. (*As the World Turns* also had an AIDS storyline, but it was more peripheral.)

Bringing Robin back as a doctor with a chip on her shoulder who only wants to tell patients the bald and often painful truth was smart. Having her team up with the brash and hunky Dr. Drake was smarter still.

*GH* is showing that people with HIV live normal–and responsible--lives. Sources at ABC hint that there might be a baby in the future for Robin and Patrick.

Finally, with everyone and their sister having babies, we were struck by a very pregnant Julie Bowen on Craig Ferguson, February 1st. Bowen, who plays attorney Denise Bauer on *Boston Legal* is about to have her first child. Guesting on The Late Late Show, Ferguson asked her if she liked being pregnant.

Most women assert that, of course, they *love* it! In fact we have never heard a woman say anything else.

Bowen said, “Being pregnant? I hate it. It’s like having a rabid squirrel inside you cleaning itself all day long.” Then she added, “And I just got the news every mother-to-be wants to hear: ‘Your baby is healthy but has a very large head.’”

She followed these quips with our quote of the week. Bowen, a football fan, asked Ferguson if he was going to the Superbowl. Ferguson said yes and she asked if he was doing the whole thing, since it’s Miami–“Getting the full wax? Back, crack and sack so you can wear a thong?” The audience howled, the usually unflappable Ferguson blanched.

It was a South Beach moment, for sure.

Bowen is terrific on *BL.* And apparently, quite fun in real life. Her little tyke is going to have one amusing mama. Someone save the tape of this show for the wee one.

Stay tuned.


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-Noah Greenberg