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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Media Madman - An AP headline
Bush, Democrats escalate Iraq war debate

Listening to the talking heads, especially the ones on Fox News and WABC Radio in New York, you'd think that a debate about the Iraq war and its funding was a bad thing. Let me put that myth to rest: It isn't. Someone, more specifically, probably someone in the White House decided to start a campaign that any debate about the Iraq war, in any way, shape or form, is anti-American, anti-troop-support and, well, just downright treasonous. It isn't either.

We are so used to a Congress that says "Yes sir, Mr. President, Anything you want," that we forget that the job, spelled out by nothing less than the US Constitution, of our elected representatives is to set up these debates and, by consensus with the President, come up with the best plan for our nation. It's obvious to at least 65 percent of our nation, at this point in time, that President Bush's unfettered and unfiltered (by the Congress) plans, so far, have simply not been working. and in the case of Iraq, their "not working" has led to the loss of American lives.

Even Bush's economic policies, which the GOP and the wealthier class of Americans, have been touting over the past few months as "making the economy stronger" have been ignoring the fact that this "recovery(?)" has left a grand majority of their countrymen out of this beneficial loop. Of course, when there are no jobs, many more of the poor will join the armed forces, and...

Harry Reid (DEMOCRAT-NV), the Senate Majority and President Bush, the media tells us, are headed for a show-down of sorts. Reid is out and out in favor of withholding funds the President seeks in his bid to practice the oversight which has been so sorely lacking these past four years. Bush, Fox and the other neo-con cronies could only respond with" The Democrats hate the troops." Yet, the President doesn't call on either House Leader Nancy Pelosi (DEMOCRAT-CA) or Reid to come to the White House and talk this whole thing out/


Is it because the President knows he is right (much in the same way he has been certain before)?
Is it because the President's advisors have finally come up with a "Plan" to finally win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people? (I thought that plan was in place already - Like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "You stick with 'Plan A'.")
Or is it because this President simply must have his way? ("I'm the Decider," "This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship…just as long as I’m the dictator!")

The debate about Iraq war funding is a valid one. After all, were promised by the Bushies early on that this war wouldn't last long, wouldn't cost much and that we would be "welcomed as liberators" by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Rice and President bush himself. Their being so wrong, so often, not allows the debate which the President doesn't want and tells us is "dangerous", but it screams for it to take place.

"If the president vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period,"

The President may actually win this war of words against the forces of compromise in the House and the Senate, especially given the power of the bully pulpit which is his. However, it doesn't make him right.

-Noah Greenberg

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

So there we were, watching *American Idol* and the thought came to us: George Bush and Sanjaya have a lot in common. Both are talentless oafs who keep getting re-elected despite their lack of talent.

At least Sanjaya is cute. And *his* tone-deaf repertoire isn’t likely to bring the world to an end, even if it does make little girl’s cry.
Bush’s tone-deafness, on the other hand....

We’re waiting for the time when real TV–you know, dramas and sit-coms–supplants the stories coming out of the Bush White House for suspension of disbelief. Hmmm. Don’t hold your breath waiting for *that.*

Well, unless you have Showtime. (And if you don’t, how *exactly* are you watching *The L Word*?) Then you can start watching *The Tudors*(if you missed the first episode, you can see it online at www. SHO. com), which is political intrigue at its very, very best.

Focusing on the life, loves and political maneuverings of Henry VIII, *The Tudors* is a ten-episode series. Shot on location in Ireland, the series was created, written and produced by Michael Hirst, who did the phenomenal *Elizabeth,* with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. First, we *adore* the creepy-sexy Jonathan Rhys Meyers (he was soooo good in Woody Allen’s *Match Point*), who puts an entirely new spin on Henry VIII. And could there be a more perfect Cardinal Wolsey than Sam Neill? This is a stellar cast with a superb storyline. *The Tudors* make the buffoons in the Bush Administration look like, well, buffoons.

Alas, they are *our* buffoons.

Where is the Tower of London when you need it?

Speaking of buffoons, was there a late night comedy venue that did not show clips of and poke fun at the embarrassing events at last week’s annual Radio/Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington?

The “hit” of the evening, of course, was “MC Rove”–Karl Rove rappin’ about his bad self.

*Omigod.* Do these guys have no shame? As Jimmy Kimmel–the original schoolyard bully–noted: “Did these guys forget there’s a war on?”

First, Rove introduced himself as Patrick Fitzgerald. (You know, the U.S. Attorney who nearly indicted him and who had been shortlisted to be fired for allegedly not doing his job–or doing it too well--in the recent U.S. Attorneys scandal.)

Rove was introduced and then asked what he did when he wasn’t working, to which The Architect said, “I like to go home, get a drink–non-alcoholic, because I don’t drink–and tear the tops of small animals. Rip the heads off of small animals.” (We’re not kidding. Check out YouTube if you want to see the entire exchange.)
Then he was asked if he had any other hobbies, since that was decreed “sort of *Silence of the Lambs.*”

Rove asserted, “I readily admit I am a practicing philatilist.” Pause. “Stamp-collector.”

To which the announcer said, “God, I hope it’s stamps, because the first thing that popped into my head was not stamps.” Loud laughter.

Then we go to the rappin’ Rove, which begins with, “Listen don’t get the jitters, but Rove likes to tear the heads off of critters.”

Yes, this is our government at play. Tearing the heads off small animals. Let’s imagine the Mahmoud Ahmandinejad version, now, shall we?

Speaking of Mr. Windbreaker, is there a reason why Tony Blair is getting into a pissing match with this guy? Ahmadinejad is the only “elected” leader on the planet with a lower approval rating than Bush and Blair. Has it not occurred to the Poodle Apparent that perhaps the better part of valour (he might try going to see *The Queen* or watch *The Tudors*) would be to just say, “Oops, we accidentally crossed into your waters” *even if it’s not true* and “We’d like our people back, please.”

Can anyone say “Bay of Pigs?” Remember the concept of *negotiation*? Or are truncheon politics the wave of the present (because there will be no future without diplomacy)?

And frankly, we’re tired of everyone thumbing their noses at the Geneva Conventions as if they weren’t supposed to save us from perdition and lawlessness, not to mention soullessness. Forcing captured sailors to read false confessions is just so not cool.

Speaking of not cool, we did so love seeing Nancy Pelosi on every network telling Bush to “calm down” as if he were a child throwing a tantrum.

*As if.*

If you are, like us, looking for an antidote to the Bush antics, watch *Planet Earth* on the Discovery Channel. The series is extraordinarily beautiful, if a bit disturbing in a *March of the Penguins* kind of way. The opening bits with the polar bears is an emotional roller coaster, as are the snow leopards, but since these creatures may be completely wiped off the face of the earth within the next 20 to 30 years, we should see what we can of them. The American version of the BBC series is narrated by Sigourney Weaver (sorry, but she’s no David Attenborough; still, it’s a competent narration) and is in hi-def, which makes for absolutely breath-taking viewing. Well worth watching. Plus, it’s chock full of information about the planet. (Warning–not for the faint of heart, nor for small children who will be upset by animals killing each other.)

Otherwise, the mid-season shows are utterly unremarkable. *Raines* has not gotten better over time, although we have really enjoyed seeing the strange Jeff Goldblum on every talk show doing his perverse shtick. And the new ABC sit-com *Notes from the Underbelly,* about pregnancy and parenthood? ABC has already moved it so it won’t conflict with *American Idol,* and that’s before it even debuted. If you think peeing on a stick is amusing, you’ll love this one. There’s no one funny line in the show. Not one.

But then no one can sing on *American Idol* this season and outside of the professionals, no one can dance on *Dancing with the Stars.* (Admit it--we are all watching simply to see Heather Mills’ leg come off.) So why the ratings worries?

Meanwhile, in a story ripped from the headlines, former senator Fred Thompson, who plays the conservative DA Arthur Branch on *Law& Order,* is considering a run for the Republican ticket in 2008. The most recent Gallup polls last week put Thompson third among Republican voters behind Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

But Thompson’s candidacy got tossed a wrench tossed on March 30th when Focus on the Family’s Rev. James Dobson said Thompson was “not a Christian.”

Dobson’s people asserted that the evangelical pastor known for his virulent attacks on queers didn’t mean that Thompson was, say, Muslim, which he has intimated about Barack Obama, but just that Thompson didn’t discuss matters of faith in the evangelical way. And beat people up accordingly.

Dobson currently supports Newt Gingrich for the 2008 spot.

Dobson’s support of Bush in 2000 and 2004 was pivotal in garnering the evangelical vote for Bush. Evangelicals represent one in four Christians in America. The evangelical movement has already voiced its displeasure over Giuliani’s multiple marriages and his announcement to Barbara Walters in the March 30th *20/20* that he would have his wife sit in on cabinet meetings. (Giuliani has since back-tracked from that statement.)

With this column we want to introduce the Rant of the Week–a bit we saw on the tube that just was too good not to share. This supplants the quote of the week in that it might be longer and might not be overtly funny; it could be just an *omigod* moment.

Thus, there might be a rant of the week from someone in the Bush Administration. Tony Blair was almost our ranter of the week when he took on Mr. “Who says a windbreaker isn’t chic?” Ahmadinejad. (Blair’s just as much of an ass as Bush, he just sounds so much smarter and of course understands the concept of grammar.) Ditto Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), when he suggested on a host of TV talk shows that impeachment had to be considered as an option if Bush continues to ignore Congress. And then there was the refreshingly open declaration by the Edwards’ about Elizabeth Edwards cancer.

All worthy candidates for the Rant of the Week.

But–then we caught this wonderful closing at the end of *Real Time* with Bill Maher and, well, you’ll see why we just *had* to share it. Maher’s homily was made all the more powerful, we might add, because he is *not* a liberal. He’s a self-proclaimed conservative-leaning libertarian who did not recognize the dangers Bush presented back in 2000, when he continually insisted that Bush and Gore were interchangeable.

However, like so many others, Maher changed his tune moments after 9/11 when he saw just how dangerous Bush really is.

Here’s what Maher had to say about one of the latest scandals of the Bush Administration, Plamegate. And of course, due to Maher’s language, this rant could not be aired on network or in prime time. So, transcribed for you with loving care, Bill Maher:

“Not to generalize, but the 29 percent of people who still support President Bush are the ones who love to pronounce themselves more patriotic than the rest of us. But just saying you are patriotic is like saying you have a big cock: if you have to say it, chances are it’s not true.

“And indeed the party that flatters itself that they protect America better, is the party that has exhausted the military, left the ports wide open, and purposefully outed a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. That’s not treason anymore, outing a spy? Did I mention it was one of our spies?

“How despicable that Bush’s lackeys attempted to diminish this crime by belittling her service, like she was just some chick who hung around the CIA, an intern really, groupie if you want to be mean about it.

“No. *Big lie.* Valerie Plame was the CIA’s operational officer in charge of counter proliferation. Which means she tracked loose nukes.
“So when Bush said that his absolute number one priority was preventing terrorists from getting loose nukes, that’s what *she* worked on. That’s what she devoted her life to, staying under cover for 20 years. Maintaining two identities *every goddamned day.* That’s extraordinary service to your country.

“Valerie Plame was the kind of real- life secret agent George Bush dreams of being when he’s not too busy pretending to be a cowboy or a fighter pilot. CIA agents *are* troops. This was a military assassination, of one of our own, done through the press, ordered by Karl Rove. He said of Valerie Plame, “She’s fair game” and then Cheney shot her.

“George Bush likes to claim that he doesn’t question his critics patriotism, just their judgment. Well, let me be the first of *your* critics, Mr. President, to question your judgment and your patriotism. Let’s not forget why they did it to her. Because Valerie Plame was married to Joe Wilson, who the Bush people hated because he busted them on one of their bullshit reasons for invading Iraq....Valerie Plame’s husband told the truth about *their* lie, so they were willing to jeopardize a whole network of spies to ruin her life.

“*Wow.* Even the mob doesn’t go after your family.

“Mark Twain said, ‘Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.’ And I say Valerie Plame is a patriot because she spent her life serving her country.... Valerie Plame kept her secrets. The Bush Administration leaked like the plumbing at Walter Reed.
“In 2008, I really think Hillary Clinton should run for president on a platform of restoring honor and integrity to the Oval Office.”

Stay tuned. It can only get more nasty from here.

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-Noah Greenberg