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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


For a second time this week, I might not be able to publish Madman tomorrow. -NG

The Real Dick in Charge

If there was ever any doubt, there can be none now. Vice President Dick Cheney is, in fact, the true President of the United States. Just because he doesn't actually hold the title doesn't make him any less so.

Cheney is the man who makes the decisions. Sure, his signature doesn't lay at the bottom of any proposed legislation, making it law; nor is it scribbled on any Presidential orders or "signing statements". All he does is to propose, write, and lay in front of the guy behind the desk everything he wants done.

There is no wrong or right with Cheney. He is always right, and all one has to do is ask him about it. If President Bush couldn't name one mistake he had made as President of the United States, I'm sure Cheney would, at the very least, say the same.

In Dick Cheney's world there are tow kinds of people: "Them's" and "Us's". In case you haven't noticed, most of you who are reading this are part of the "Them's". The "Us's" consist of the very wealthy and powerful whose only wish appear to be even richer and more powerful. President Bush, at a fundraiser once called them his "base" of "haves and have mores". Dick Cheney is their best friend because, as he has always done, the Veep has found ways to give them what they want.

Other elected officials have attempted to make their "friends" stronger as a reward for their donations and loyalty. When they do so, the worst of them, until now, have viewed the "Them's" with apathy. If the lower classes (that's you and I folks) do or don't gain advantage from a particular law or policy, so be it. Like when Ronald Reagan put into effect his "Voodoo" economic policy, as George H.W. Bush once called it, into effect: The Trickle Down Theory. One might argue that "The Gipper" really thought making his friends rich would cause a "trickle down" effect for the rest of us and we all would reap the benefits, albeit less so the further down the "trickle" one goes. I always thought that "Trickle Down" was meant as a means to make his donors and friends healthier while doing no harm to the rest of us. Of course, we all know how that ended: It ended with Reagan having to apply a tax on everybody in his second term to make up for his "Trickle Down" shortfall.

Cheney, on the other hand, seems to delight in the misery of others. Never once have I heard him speak of poverty, health care, infant mortality or AIDS as though they were genuine problems for our society. Maybe it's true that he feels that there is only one issue: Terrorism. And whoever is well enough and rich enough to live in this Cheney-esque Utopia will offer thanks to its architect.

Yuch! Who would want to live in that world anyway?

And it's just fine with Cheney if you don't want to live in his world. (After all, it is his world, you know.) He'll give you options, the first being "Stay our of my way!
-You can move to another country. He doesn't ant you here whining anyway
-You can die... NOW. It'll just save him the time and trouble of killing you, either by removing all benefits you once had or by allowing his "friends" in the insurance industries ways of making it impossible for you to protect yourself.
-Or you can just stand there, take it and give up most of your meager salary while working your way towards that early death you now crave.

It was said that a high tide lifts all boats. But in Cheney's world, our anchors are cut short and all of our small, but once seaworthy boats are all under water.

If President Bush has made this world a worse place to live, then it was Dick Cheney who designed it. Cheney is a blight on us all. His departure from government, alone, will make our nation and the world a better place to live immediately.

-Noah Greenberg

One Sick Child

Did anyone happen to catch this week's "Extreme Home Makeover" on ABC. Okay, maybe it was a repeat. In the "application video", where the family "applies" to tell their story on national TV, we saw an Iowa family of five with two working parents. They looked just like any other family which any of us might know. It could have been any one of us. The difference is that this family has one child living under their roof who was born with a hole in her heart. The little girl with this ailment is now 12 years old and has had four surgeries.

The insurance company doesn't pay for any of her bills - none of them. Although the family has health care coverage, they must have been without at the time of her birth, or at some time afterwards because they consider her condition "per-existing". The mother and father told of one - just one- bill which totals in excess of $530,000 for their daughter's care. How many of you can afford that, I wonder?

The reason they sent in the video application was because, due to the care which they have to provide to their daughter and her two brothers, the monies they have to spend on medical bills and the time which both parents spend at their full-time jobs, they haven't been able to devote any time, let alone money, towards even a general upkeep of their home, and it showed. It showed in the mold present in the house; it showed in the drafty hallways because of a lack of heat; and it showed in the ease in which one of the small children was able to rip a door off its hinges because of wood rot.

The little girl's room was enclosed and made as air-tight as the family could make it to help protect their daughter with the congenital heart problem. They put air cleaners and humidifiers in the room and appear to put their lone daughter's health above all else. it's what any of use might do in their place.

Someone ought to bring those lawmakers in Washington DC to see this family. They should at least be made to watch this show and view this little girl's life. With all of her problems, this little girl possessed a great spirit and an attitude which none of us might be able to even imagine.

What happens if a child like this dies due to the fact that they couldn't keep her home warm enough due to the bills they have to pay for her medical treatments? what happens to this little girl's family if she gets sick again? What will our politicians say if she dies?

The President says things like health Care Savings Accounts will save our children, They won't save this little girl or any of the other millions of sick children in our nation. We have an infant mortality rate of a third world nation and yet possess more wealth than any other nation on the planet.

At a little girl's funeral - one that might have been avoided and been replaced by birthday parties, a wedding and the birth of her own children, what will President Bush say to her family? If he treats it as he has treated the deaths of our American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he'd say nothing. he wouldn't even go to her funeral.

The profits for Bush's "base" of "haves and have mores" are obviously more important to this president than the health of one single child. There can be no doubt that they're more important than the health of 48 million Americans without health care coverage. It just amazes me how the likes of those in power can't even see those who their inactions hurt. There is no "compassion" with these "compassionate conservatives". There is just profit and those few in their true "base" who they only, truly represent.

-Noah Greenberg

Hurrah for Partisan Politics!

Don't know why it took so long--and they should be doing this to close down the Iraq War--but FINALLY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE DISCOVERED THE SECRET OF MAINTAINING THE INFLUENCE--even the existence--OF THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH!! Most of them must be dreadfully ignorant of history. Dennis Kucinich is one of the few who seems to have read a few books on the history of democratic government.

Here's how the Medieval Parliaments kept their kings in line: they simply denied funding. (They had the right to do so, constitutionally, from the early 13th century, even earlier, in some countries. It was before the days of Machiavelli, and the "Divine Right of Kings" which Bush and Cheney obviously idolatrize.) The Medieval kings could demand money imperially, rant and fume and threaten when they didn't receive it, but they were forced either to back off--or close down Parliament & obtain their money illegally, which usually triggered a general popular uprising from the barons to the peasants. The royals forced the issue now and then, which explains all those Medieval civil wars, but 49 times out of 50 they backed off.

HURRAH FOR PARTISAN POLITICS! Let's have more partisan politics, please! A lot, LOT, LOT more partisan politics! It's the only way to run a representative democracy. And we must keep constantly on the backs of those wimpy Dems who've never read history books, keep them aware that denying money is the way, the historically certified way, the ONLY CERTAIN WAY, to win Congressional battles. Most Americans seem to understand this instinctively, which is why they despise the Democratic Congress for giving in to the imperial Executive--not standing up, battling, and winning our country back to its traditions!

-Jenny Hanniver

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

What a week! Boy Shakira, Rosie and Elisabeth at it again, Hillary and Bill reprising *The Sopranos,*Paris getting out of prison early, Jimmy Kimmel having an emergency appendectomy, Bush and Cheney claiming they aren’t part of the Executive Branch of government (does that mean we can ask them to move out of the White House?). Without TV we might never laugh, cry or feel our blood pressure go up exponentially.

Our favorite waste of time is NBC’s *America’s Got Talent,*the number one show in the country. It’s *so* addictive: you laugh, you cry, you berate yourself for not spending those two hours reading a good book (or even a bad one). But it is *always* a freak show and *always* entertaining. Since most of the good shows (except *The Wire*and *The Riches*) are on summer hiatus, it’s the perfect thing for a global-warming summer’s evening.
It is, after all, the highest of camp.

First, unlike *American Idol,* we enjoy the synergy of the judges. Piers Morgan might be an effete Brit, but he’s a smart effete Brit and he never shows off his man-breasts as if they could possibly be something to look at (yes, we are talking to *you,* Simon Cowell). We adore Sharon Osborne, who’s a wonderful addition to the show. Always kind. And who could deny the goofy charms of David Hasselhoff, who also doesn’t show off his infamous man-breasts?

Every week there’s something outrageous, in addition to the fabulous (Butterscotch, the best beatbox vocal percussionist *ever*) or the just plain ghastly (the college student who broke pencils and rulers and bent a spoon with his ass cheeks). This week, our favorite moment was Boy Shakira, who is destined to become a cult item (check his performance out on NBC.com).

The 30-year-old Los Angeleno, whose real name is allegedly Luigi (although he’s Latino, not Italian) and who travels with his mother, is a tubby little dragster with irrepressible attitude. He pranced and danced across the stage for his 90 seconds like a renegade from *A Midsummer Night’s Dream.* With his long blonde curls, tiny string bikini top and swishy skirt, he was, puckishly delightful. “I do the Shakira performance,” he told the judges. “I have lived a lot of things that she has lived.”

Unlike the real Shakira whom he admires so much, he does not sing. But he was highly entertaining, which is, after all, the point. He was also a pretty fab belly dancer, unlike some of the real girls who performed that night, including a trio of burlesque dancers from San Francisco who were, sadly, Ruby Keeler wannabes.

And we *never* liked Ruby Keeler.

Hasselhoff hated Boy Shakira. So much so that when Piers and Miz Osborne voted Boy Shakira on to the next round, The Hoff stormed off the stage (as Osborne had the previous week, only Hasselhoff didn’t ditch his false eyelashes).

We’ve never considered that someone like The Hoff could be homophobic–not after all those years with his breasts bouncing through *Baywatch,* but...it sure came off that way to *us.* After all, Piers is the most hard to please of the judges, has no patience with drag acts and said he enjoyed Boy Shakira “against my better judgment.” So if *Piers* liked Boy Shakira that much, what of The Hoff? (We most liked the exchange between Boy Shakira and Osborne: “You entertained me, I feel you're totally genuine and I feel you entertained the audience too," said Osborne. "You’re a good celebrity," replied Boy Shakira.)

Speaking of girl fights, the tabloid shows were teaming with more hub-bub about the Rosie/Elisabeth tiff. We thought this was so over, but no. Apparently when Bob Barker said Rosie would be a good replacement for him on *The Price is Right,* everybody had to weigh in.

In case this still interests you, Elisabeth Hasselbeck says Rosie hasn’t been in touch for a few weeks. "Truthfully, I think a friend is someone who you have positive communications with, so I don't know if I would define us as friends right now. I did define us as friends, but I'm not going to make the leap to assume that we will or will not be friends in the future," said Hasselbeck in an interview with *Access Hollywood* June 19th, which has since spread to YouTube. "We really did challenge each other, and I loved that. I found such meaning in this job because we were able to turn the lens on one another, as good friends should do."

*Sob.* We never cared about Elisabeth and our concern for Rosie is ebbing fast.

BTW–Rosie is *so* not going to replace Barker. But our sources tell us that Barbara Walters is considering filling Rosie’s empty chair on *The View* with *a man.* One name that keeps coming up–cutie pie Mario Lopez, from *Dancing with the Stars* and *SoapNet.*

The only sad part about that is he would be sitting down, so while we would get to see his dimples, we wouldn’t get to see his phenomenal ass. (Remember, it was the gorgeous Lopez who played queer Olympic athlete Greg Louganis in *Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story. Now *that’s* worth seeing again.)
The TV moment this week that surpassed all, however: Hillary Clinton’s political parody of the final episode of *The Sopranos.*

This was, in a word, superb, and we didn’t need Air America’s resident lesbian commentator, Rachel Maddow (whom we urge you to watch regularly on YouTube), to tell us so. (Although we admit, we like having Maddow tell us things. And she *did* cite Hillary as the most-improved candidate.)

The Clintons as *The Sopranos* was genius, especially considering we still get emails about how Hillary murdered Vince Foster (yes, that canard is still running).

The video was *the* most perfect takeoff. Except we kept thinking–are we supposed to think Bill is Tony Soprano, or Hillary is? Because she was more dykey than usual in this video. We really could see her whacking people.

Anyway, we loved her flipping through the little jukebox at the table, ordering carrot sticks for Bill, who picks one up, looks at it with sadness and says, “No onion rings?” to which Hillary responds, “I’ll take care of you,” like any cool Mafiosi.

Meanwhile, we see Meadow’s–we mean *Chelsea’s*–car wheels hit the curb as she attempts to park and then Vince Curatola gives one of his killer looks to the table.

Of course the moment when the screen goes black is when Hillary picks the song: Celine Dion doing “You and I.”

And that, your honor, is when we chose another candidate because we *loathe* Celine Dion.

Seriously, this is the Hillary we like--bad choice of campaign song aside–the jocular, relaxed, *fun* Hillary. On the evening news the other night a reporter was asking a group of women if they would vote for Hillary. They had all voted for Bush and each said no.

Why? No one could answer.

Perhaps because they just couldn’t say “I don’t trust women to be in charge because I expect my husband to do that sort of thing, myself.”

Meanwhile, speaking of *The Sopranos,* we caught actor John Turturro on Craig Ferguson June 21st. His cousin, Aida, is on *The Sopranos* and he just starred James Gandolfini in his latest directorial effort, *Romance and Cigarettes,* which also stars Kate Winslet and Susan Sarandon.

Ferguson asked Turturro if he would ever play a woman in a film (he currently plays a bad guy in *Transformers*) and he said he once tried out for a role in a well-known drag film. “I went as Barbara Streisand. I sang. My body was great,” he lamented to Craig, then said the director said he “looked to much like a man.”

Turturro went on to say he’d like to do a film were he was totally in drag and in a couple with another drag queen. He suggested Johnny Depp, noting, “He’s even more beautiful as a woman than he is as a man,” citing Depp’s drag performance in the superb *Before Night Falls* with the incredibly sexy Javier Bardem.

Playing in drag with Depp would be a dream, Turturro, who is straight and married, noted. Yet when discussing his own latest film, he said women like James Gandolfini because “he’s like a big woman” and said he thinks of Gandolfini that way.

No wonder the screen went black....

Speaking of black, those who have been in mourning for Paris can rejoice that their long nightmare has ended.

Can we just say: the girl was in prison *reading fan mail.* So much for the change in perspective. Until she gets the needle out of the groove of *me,* expect to see her DUI sooner rather than later.

Speaking of delusions, we were a little stunned when George Bush declared–on June 23rd, a slow-news Saturday when people aren’t paying much attention–that his office isn’t part of the Executive Branch of government and thus not subject to rules regarding same.

Now anyone who thought Dick Cheney *wasn’t* running the show, take note. Cheney said the same thing about his own job a few days earlier. Cheney’s excuse was that as head of the Senate, he wasn’t under the executive rubric.

Thank you, Dr. Strangelove.

Even as the CIA releases all its past secrets, Bush and Cheney solidify their positions as the most secretive heads of state in American history.

According to the White House, like Cheney’s office, Bush’s office won’t allow independent oversight of how his office handles classified national security information.

Apparently when Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003, he issued an executive order which amended an existing order requiring all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. But according to the news on June 23rd, this was never meant to include either the VP or the Prez.

Richard Nixon is rolling in his grave wishing *he’d* thought of that.

Speaking of weasels, another news event that got no coverage–no, we’re not talking about the spike in American troop deaths and injuries in the past two weeks in Iraq–was Bush’s veto of the stem-cell research bill proffered by the Democrats on June 20th.

Bush has vetoed three bills in his entire presidency: one to withdraw American troops from being killed in Iraq and two to fund stem-cell research to save millions of lives.

Yep, he’s the pro-life Prez, alright.

Finally, our Rant of the Week dovetails with our News You Aren’t Seeing segment.

Perhaps we watch too much news. It’s possible. Unlike the President who prides himself on neither watching TV news nor reading the newspapers, we do like to stay informed. So we watch the news. Lots of it. On CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC and even CBS, although no one really considers that news since Dan Rather and Bill Schieffer stopped doing it. (And actually, we don’t think what Dan Rather said about the “new” CBS news was sexist, in part because we are tired of seeing Katie Couric smiling perkily through even the most horrendous stories, as she did when she interviewed Kimberley Dozier about nearly being killed by an IED.)

Perhaps because we watch so much news we have come to recognize that even the news is not free from reruns. ABC is the prime offender (CNN misses this #1 spot because although they run a lot of the same news, it’s always just a little different, even if that means making the story more ludicrous as they go along). We have seen the exact same pieces flit between *GMA,* *World News Tonight* and *Nightline*–and then *all* be reprised on *World News Now,* which should be re-titled, *World News Last Night or Even Several Days Ago.*

It’s hard to do the legwork of reporting. We have done it, we know. But there’s a lot of news out there–a lot of news *you aren’t seeing*because it’s not being reported.

So here are some suggestions for this week: The news that domestic partnership rights were rescinded by the 9th Circuit Court. The news that the U.S. is funding the war being waged by Ethiopia against Somalia and even providing troops. The news that White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was caught in a lie by Jon Stewart on *The Daily Show* when he said that the U.S. is providing homes for Iraqi immigrants. (Syria has provided approximately 80,000 since January; the U.S. has provided 69.)

And one last rant: TV ads for the new film *Evening* are touting the film as “from the author of *The Hours.*” Well, Susan Minot wrote *Evening* and Michael Cunningham wrote *The Hours.* While each is a co-producer of the film, that does *not* mean the studio can pretend *Evening* was written by Cunningham. And why would Minot stand for that?

Stay tuned. The only place you might actually find the news that should be on the tube is here.

Send your comments to: NationalView@aol.com or comments@nationalview.org

-Noah Greenberg