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This Is What Democracy Looks Like?

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Media Madman
A Real Associated Press Headline

"Gonzales' hold on job grows uncertain"

I disagree. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hold on his job IS certain. He doesn't have one. After all, if the Bush administration could get rid of Donald Rumsfeld, VP Dick Cheney's mentor, then what chance does Gonzales have?

I wonder how it's going to go down?

"In light of some personal, pressing family matters, I have decided it's best for me and my family to leave the Justice Department. I want to spend more time with my family."
-Gonzales, the way things ought to be

Three thousand pages of emails and other documents have just been released regarding the firing of the Bush appointed federal prosecutors, some of them damaging.

"The Attorney General is extremely upset with the stories on the US Attorneys this morning. He also thought some of the DAG's statements were inaccurate."
-Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse, from a Feb. 7 e-mail

One wonders if Roehrkasse meant this statement made my McNulty before congress?

"In every single case where a United States attorney position is vacant, the administration is committed to filling that position with the United States attorney who is confirmed by the Senate."

We all know by now that the DoJ had no plan to consult the Senate regarding new attorneys. After all, it is the reason why they put the "no need to come before the Senate for confirmation" provision into the Patriot Act, isn't it?

And speaking of the Patriot act, today, the Senate voted 98-2 to end the AG's power of appointing federal prosecutors without making them go through the vetting process.

"If you politicize the prosecutors, you politicize everybody in the whole chain of law enforcement,"
-Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (DEMOCRAT-VT)

And if there was no "plan" to fire these prosecutors, perhaps someone in the Bush administration could explain this email from the DoJ's Kyle Sampson to White House Consul Harriet Miers and Carbon Copied to McNulty:

"I am concerned that to execute this plan (firing seven U.S. attorneys simultaneously) properly we must all be on the same page and be steeled to withstand any political upheaval that might result. If we start caving to complaining U.S. attorneys or Senators then we shouldn't do it — it'll be more trouble than it's worth."

In other words, for those of you who don't have their "reading between the lines" glasses on, there was a plan and it was executed.

And then there's this gem, also from Sampson:

"still waiting for green light from White House,"

Who in the white House is controlling the traffic signals anyway?

Included in the 3,000 pages turned over by the Bushies was the revelation that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, was included among those names who should be fired. You all may remember the Illinois Republican (yes, he is a Republican) as the man investigating the Valerie Plame CIA leak affair and the man who got I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby convicted on lying to the FBI and the Grand Jury just about a week and a half ago.

How bad is it? Long shot Presidential Candidate, and hater of all things Mexican (except for the food, of course), Rep. Tom Tancredo (REPUBLICAN-CO) is even getting ready to jump on the "Dump Gonzo" bandwagon.

"Alberto Gonzales has repeatedly shown that he is unwilling to enforce the law and unable to effectively manage the Department. While I do not believe the dismissal of these eight political appointees warrants Mr. Gonzales removal, his total mishandling of the affair is simply the latest in a series of leadership failures at the Justice Department."

Maybe it's the name "Gonzales" that's getting to Tancredo. I bet he tries to have the soon-to-be ex-AG deported or something.

Even Former House Majority Leader (and soon to be convict) Tom DeLay (REPUBLICAN-TX) is getting in his two cents.

"And the Bush administration sort of showed their weakness when they got rid of Don Rumsfeld. This is a made up scandal. There is no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever. ... They ought to be fighting back."

I bet, with statements like that, there's going to be a spot on Fox News for DeLay when he gets out of whatever minimum security prison he spends a few months at.

If you want to know if AG Gonzales is on the block for this one, all one has to do is ask President Bush.

"I do have confidence in Attorney General Al Gonzales."

"Those rumors are untrue,"
-White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, regarding rumors of a "short-list" to replace AG Gonzales

"a very strong vote of confidence."
-White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, characterizing a phone call made to AG Gonzales

Someone get Gonzales a few empty boxes and alert security. Oh... and by the way... shine up that Medal of Freedom, will ya?

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

April might be the cruelest month, but on TV, March is certainly the most annoying. March madness has begun–but enough about Washington politics! All bad Henny Youngman-style jokes aside, we are in that terrible slough between the end of February sweeps and May sweeps. What that usually means is a lot of mid-season replacement shows and non-stop reruns of the shows we actually watch but might not feel like seeing again.

Which is why there’s cable.

And why there’s *Lost,* the producers of which had the foresight to take their hiatus a few months back so that now all the shows are new, complex and wonderful, reminding us of what good TV looks like and how networks really *can* measure up to cable with good writing, multi-layered storylines and fine ensemble acting. If you aren’t watching, tune in–ABC makes it easy to catch up with episodes available online.

Now to those mid-season replacements. Would that we had something good to say about *The Black Donnellys,*which should have been titled, *Sopranos for Beginners.* Or *October Road,* which makes the treacly *Men in Trees* look absolutely edgy. This show is so soapy and sappy–with heavy-duty instrumentation behind *every* scene, in case the sledge hammer hasn’t hit you hard enough–that it makes one want to flee to *Grey’s Anatomy* for substance. There’s simply no excuse for such bad shows. Really. None.

There’s also no excuse for NBC dumping *ER* (if only for a few weeks and reruns at that) for *Raines.* We cannot express just how much we wanted to love this show. And we *will* watch it until it gets killed off, which should take maybe four episodes. Jeff Goldblum is the detective of the title. He’s at his absolute best, which is far better than almost anyone else’s best, but still cannot overcome the problems of the show.

Apparently like everyone else, NBC execs don’t watch their own lineup. If they did, they would know that they already have this show on the air. It’s called *Medium.*

How are *Raines* and *Medium* different? Hmmm–*Raines* star Jeff Goldblum is tall, dark, Jewish.*Medium* star Patricia Arquette is small, blonde, WASPy. Otherwise you have two quirky detectives who see dead people. One sees them in the daytime, the other at night in her dreams. Both solve crimes this way, which, btw, is not how crimes get solved in real life. *Raines* has more chuckles and the exquisite Madeline Stowe. *Medium* has more family fun and the adorably bizarre Maria Lark, the best child actress on TV.

Watch *Raines* if you don’t have cable, because there is nothing else worth watching on network in that time slot, vying as it does with *October Road.* Watch it once, regardless, to see Goldblum in action. But don’t get hooked. This one won’t be around for very long.

And may we just add that NBC killed the superb and multi-layered and *smart* *Kidnapped* (not to mention *Studio 60*), but is feeding us this rehash of *Medium,* while ABC axed the superb and multi-layered and compelling *The Nine* and replaced it with the icky pabulum of *October Road.*

Memo to ABC and NBC: tune in to HBO and Showtime for an evening–any evening–to see what real TV dramas are supposed to look like. Or hey–just watch an episode of *Lost.*

While we’re feeling cranky, let’s take on NBC for the decline and fall of the erstwhile *Law&Order* franchise.

There we were last week, on spring break and tuning in to an episode of *L&O: Criminal Intent,* which we rarely catch. Detective Eames (Kathryn Erbe) was kidnapped by a serial rapist/torturer/murderer. The graphic details of the tortures and rapes, the depiction of Eames literally strung up, her mouth and eyes duct-taped, were non-consensual S/M of the worst order. The frantic screaming is still in our head.

We understand that the popularity of films like the *Saw* and Hannibal Lecter franchises as well as other “kill the teenaged girl slowly and horribly because it’s fun to see pretty girls suffer” has bled–literally–into TV. But *L&O:CI* is on at 9pm. It’s kids fare, for the most part. And each week–this episode being among the most egregious–some new girl gets slaughtered for the small screen. The same thing happens on *L&O: SVU* and the original *L&O.*

For years now we have commented on creator Dick Wolf’s obsession with female criminals, a subset which barely exists in real life in comparison to male criminals. More than 60 percent of the murderers on the *L&O* shows are women. (As opposed to real life where they comprise fewer than five percent of murderers. There’s also a surprising number of queer killers, another non-event in real life.)

We understand that TV is about drama and suspension of disbelief, but the *L&O* franchise is supposed to be “ripped from the headlines.” Because the shows are very much reality-based and often barely disguised stories from the news, when they are re-made to have the killer be a woman, or have the male killer set up by a woman, it leads the average viewer to believe, well, that women are killers. Which, despite what Dick Wolf would have you believe, simply isn’t true.

Speaking of lies, that segues nicely into what we have to say about that other ongoing drama series, *Mr. Bush Screws Up Washington.*

There was a lot of interesting posturing going on for the TV news media this week as Alberto Gonzales and Peter Pace tried to best each other at ignorant remarks before the camera. Pace, of course, wanted everyone to know he thinks being queer is immoral and queers don’t belong in the military. Pace did not apologize for his remarks, nor has he fled to rehab.

That was duly noted by queer veterans of the Iraq war who have had their legs blown off in service to their country.

We’ve had little of merit to say about Katie Couric on CBS, but she did a very nice job of parading gay soldiers before the camera last week, from Eric Alva to guys you never heard of. Including the aforementioned amputees. Apparently *she* thinks it might be immoral to send kids to die for their country and then when they serve–unlike the President or Vice President, who both weaseled out of service in wartime–trash them for their sexual orientation.

And might we also note that the Pace comments did not provide the finest hours for Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), who, when cornered by the media, were unable to immediately say that Pace was a bigoted Neanderthal. Both hedged and then later had to cover their equivocating asses by saying what they meant to say the first time around, which was that they disagreed with Pace.

Too bad the female and black candidates didn’t get the memo that bigotry is passé. Of course, they both have to pander to the conservative African-American voters who are busy making the Down Low the fastest route to HIV in America as well as pander to the myth of the independent voter.

Ah, if only we could get religion out of politics!

Meanwhile, the guy that Ann Coulter called a faggot a few weeks ago and Rush Limbaugh said could be our first woman president, John Edwards, got grilled over on CNN by Wolf Blitzer on the subject.

Now this is interesting since Blitzer has long been an apologist for the bigoted freaks over in Bushworld, and CNN could only get more right wing if Fox suddenly went out of business. So one assumes Blitzer was trying to trip up Edwards.

He didn’t. Apparently Edwards *did* get the memo that being a bigot just doesn’t fly, even if you want the conservative black vote or those elusive independents.
Here is the Blitzer/Edwards exchange:

Blitzer: Let’s talk about General Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs. He suggested today, his own personal opinion, homosexuality, he said, was immoral. As a result, don’t change the don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

First of all, in your opinion, is homosexuality immoral?

Edwards: I don’t — don’t share that view. And I would go — go further than that, Wolf. I think the don’t ask, don’t tell is not working. And as president of the United States I would change that policy.

Blitzer: Is the don’t ask, don’t tell policy immoral?

Edwards: I think the don’t ask, don’t tell policy is wrong. It’s not working. I think what it’s done, effectively, is kept us from having some of the most talented people we could have in our military. It’s caused — caused more problems than it’s solved. And it ought to be changed.

Compare that to Clinton who is on record as being against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” yet first noted, “Well, I am going to leave that to others to conclude.” And then, a few hours later, asserted, “I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple.” The next day, apparently after hordes of Village gays flooded her office with calls, she said this: "I have heard from a number of my friends, and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had. I do not think homosexuality is immoral. I'd like to follow the lead of our allies like Great Britain and Israel and let people who wish to serve their country be able to join and do so. And then let the uniform code of military justice determine if conduct is inappropriate or unbecoming. That's fine. That's what we do with everybody. But let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love."


Far worse than the 11th hour scrambling by Clinton were the unconscionable remarks by Obama, who proclaimed, “I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That’s probably a good tradition to follow.” Hours later–after Hillary’s first comments were adjusted–Obama’s *spokesperson,* not Obama, declared that Obama did not agree with Pace. No statement, just that. Then, a looooong time later, we get this, in a press release from his “people”: “As the New York Times reported today, I do not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral. Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years.”

Wow! Don’t overwhelm us with your embrace of the queer community, because we know Chicago isn’t a big queer town or anything and you don’t need the queer vote. Something tells us Dr. King would not be happy about this. Talk about not quite ready for prime time....

Apparently Edwards’ taste of homophobia slurry at the hands of Coulter and Limbaugh provided him with a wake-up call on the topic of queers. He didn’t equivocate, didn’t need a few hours to feel the pulse of the electorate, didn’t need to be slapped around by Human Rights Campaign, just was actually able to answer the question when asked. And correctly, we might add.

This is like *Jeopardy,* folks–there really *is* only one right answer.

And while we’re talking jeopardy, do McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Brownback really think it's solid to stand for don't ask, don't tell when even John Warner is against it?

There’s little point in discussing Gonzales, except perhaps to say that Teflon is as Teflon does and in this administration, Gonzales, the man who made torture all-American, can lie to the camera with the best of them. The best of them being the best liars: Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice and –the list is too long for this column.

We can almost hear the conversation between Bush and Gonzales: *Constitution? What Constitution? We got rid of that pesky Geneva Convention nonsense, didn’t we? And even got former torture victim Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to sign onto torture. We don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution!*

However–and there is always a however on TV–there *are* emails. Perhaps Mr. Gonzales will remember what happened to Mark Foley when *his* emails came to light. Once Nancy Pelosi fixes you in her stare, it might be the endgame.

Meanwhile, on a far lighter note, no doubt Gen. Pace would have a good deal to say about a few of the Emmy nods. Van Hansis, one of the most underused actors in daytime, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series. He has played gay high school student Luke Snyder on *As the World Turns* since 2006 and he’s been fabulous. He’s back on the front burner in another homophobia storyline, denied a literary prize because he doesn’t represent the school the way they want it represented.

And of course America’s favorite non-sexual lesbian was nominated for the umpteenth time. Ellen proves the point that everyone in America knows *someone* queer and that most queers are not only non-threatening, they’re invisible.

We would have liked the stellar work that Jeffrey Carlson has done as Zarf/Zoe, the transgendered character on *All My Children* to have received a nod, but we know it’s soon. However, much as we hated this storyline in the beginning, we have come to believe it can change the hearts and minds of the Peter Paces of America.

An episode last week in which Zoe goes to a TG support group—filled with and led by real TG people–was incredibly moving, unbelievably edgy and covered the range of TG experience very, very well. The members of the group–MTF and FTM–were presented as ordinary people, not freaks. It was spectacular and one of the best moments of queer TV we’ve ever witnessed.

Take *that,* Gen. Pace.

And stay tuned.

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-Noah Greenberg