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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Thanksgiving Madman

November 28, 2007


Remember, Kids... Don't Drink and Govern

During yesterday's photo-op appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Fatah's leader Mahmoud Abbas (the man ousted from the Gaza Strip and sent into a semi-exile to the West Bank), President Bush mispronounced the names of both leaders. Trying desperately to get "hooked" on the "Phonics" of the moment, GW butchered both leaders' names as if he had never heard them before. (And, perhaps he hadn't heard them before.)

After skating on by with yet another flub of the tongue, the President went on to talk about beginning a peace process he called a "joint understanding". I thought I smelled something funny.

In all, President Bush spent three hours with the two men. Just enough time to say a few words, shake a bunch of hands, congratulate Tony Blair and take a whole bunch of pictures designed to sell the American people on the fine job his administration has been doing in the middle east.

Turn off your televisions, everybody - you don't want to see the fighting in the streets of Gaza or the West Bank as the talks were going on, do you?

What President Bush and the rest of the "It's a Small Mid-East World" party seem to have forgotten is that the Gaza Strip - that area just southwest of Israel proper - is being ruled by Hamas. So, any negotiations which don't include them are near pointless. Hamas has called for the destruction of the state of Israel and, whichever side of the Israeli-Palestinian debate you fall under, you must realize that any negotiation that doesn't include them is not only doomed to failure, but will also make things worse. Just look at the anger generated by the meeting alone!

But as long as George Bush gets his photo-op, it really doesn't matter, does it.

This could have been a perfect opportunity for President Bush to have tried to broker a deal between Hamas and Fatah, a first step that must precede any effort to create a real peace in that part of the middle east. As of now, they are killing each other in an unconventional civil war. In order for there to be peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, there first must be such a peace between the Palestinians of Hamas and the Palestinians of Fatah.

President Bush, as he so often has done during his political career, and prior to that, his life as a younger man, is more concerned here about looking good than actually doing good. President Bush and those still waiting for their big pay day in the White House, are keen to point out their successes, no matter if those successes are actual successes or failures. Just check out this exchange between Frances Fragos Townsend, then-Homeland Security Advisor to President Bush (she retired on November 19) and CNN's Ed Henry:

HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, "dead or alive, we're going to get him". Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.
TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.

And this is will, no doubt, be the thought process which the Bushies will use in the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. imagine this scenario: It's Mid-2067 and there is one former Bush White House staffer still left alive; the Israelis and Palestinians finally work out a peace deal; this former, now-95-year-old staffer stands up and says "See? I told you it's a success! And it's all thanks to President Bush and what he did 60 years ago (cough, cough)." I bet that when they find Osama bin-Laden's grave somewhere years from now, Ms. Townsend will say that same thing.

The main question about how President Bush has treated peace in the middle east will persist for a long time: Why hadn't this first step been taken one, two or even up to six-plus years ago? What took so long? Why the delay? There can be no doubt that a peace between Israel and the Palestinians would begin to mark a peace process between all (or, at least, most) parties in the middle and near-middle east.

Leadership is something that this president uses a tool, and it comes in the form of meaningless phrases and photo-ops.

-Noah Greenberg

Sex, Lies And Treason

American’s priorities are mislaid and eschewed, we impeach one leader for a sex lie, yet ignore the prevarication's that compromise our own security; and just a few years later. Is this the puritanical blindness we inherited from our puritan roots or some other hidden agenda that allows this vastly tipped scale of justice to lean hard on one side and hang in the air on the other,

And sans the outrage.

As the sun arises on another day in the Neo Con planet we all seem progressively less informed and conscious on each subsequent morning we arise. We are obliged to ask ourselves, what is going on in this once great land, are we losing our morals and perspective or are we just too busy and apathetic to notice?

Recently former Press Secretary Scott McClelland dropped what I thought was the bomb that brought the Neo Con White House down, then two days later nothing mentioned on the media at all.

Shocking and unbelievable as it may seem, the very act of treason or at least gross national security breaches have occurred and no one blinks.

Was it not just a few short years ago we were ready willing and able, in fact we did impeach William Jefferson Clinton for sex and lying about it under oath?

Yet somehow this latest scandal does not reach the same level of criminality?

I have often referred to the Bush Administration as Teflon coated and it seems that is a very apropos appellation for this slippery bunch.

A new Book by Scott McClelland is coming out, another tell all naughty nitty like so many ex Bush people before him, an excerpt was leaked that stirred up the news of Mr. Bush and his lies.

Here is the verbatim statement from McClelland as it appeared in major media outlets,

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility that he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House. There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

Now we see the depth of the sedition, as the former Bush press secretary Scott McClelland admitted that Mr. George W. Bush fed Scott a lie to cover for others in the Valerie Plame Wilson exposure case. It is no surprise that a top White House aide would eventually write a book about it, the surprise came when he revealed the presidents role in the Plame case.

Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan will be releasing his book in April, and It's called "What Happened" which set off a short media blaze when Scott revealed one of the most startling revelations of his book. He implicated top aides to the White House and most of all President Bush for telling him to feed the press and American people prevarication's to cover for an act of compromising national security.

This announcement also led to a call for a full “probe” by a top US senator Dodd {Democrat Connecticut} and condemnation from former CIA agent Valerie Plame.

This scandal takes on new weight after the Libby commuted sentence leaves no one to pay for the worst security breach since World War Two. Can we say cronies never pay or better yet the sinking ship is losing its supply of rats?

Here was a woman, Valerie Plame {or Ms Wilson if you prefer} that had an enormous part in the overseeing of the Iran nuclear build up. The powers that be, exposed her for what her husband wrote in the NY Times, and all of what he said has been proven true. But the powers that be hate the truth, and tried to punish Mr. Wilson for the brash act of informing the American people.

Mr. Wilson had a different perspective and his truthful but contrary assessment of Iraq's Niger yellow cake acquisition made the Neo Con liars in the powerhouse angry. So the Powers that be, risked our security and Intel to gain revenge on Wilson, for telling what proved to be the truth.

The arrogance and hubris and lack of concern for America by her very leadership it takes to pull off a security breach for political revenge is tantamount to treason; and must be viewed in that light.

By this sad and treasonous method we all suffer and the ailing agenda of the Neo Cons proved more important to the current administration then our very security.

Treason is not too harsh a word in fact it is the best way to describe this situation and it is ugly.

After she was exposed we heard that she was marginal and not a field operative, more quick cover ups for the act of treason. That too was proven a lie and only spouted to make their crime seem a bit less of a catastrophic security breech.

Truth is, it set us back in terms of Iran's activities at least five years and now we have no spy agency in Iran and depend on Israeli Intel to keep us informed about the actions in the theocratic country of Iran.

First they tell us Iraq is a great threat with WMD and nuclear possibilities nerve gas and bio weapons, then we hear that was not true but by then we are committed, so we remain.

Subsequently we hear how Iran is the next big threat, yet they tossed our only Iranian Intel source out for political revenge, and nothing more.

America has a reality problem and we are walking around in a dull haze due to our lack of leadership and omissions of duty by the media and government. In addition we harbor a built in apathy that allows these kinds of people access to power.

Let us reflect back a few years on the Clinton years and his impeachment by the same Republicans that run the country today. Lies about sex on national TV are wrong, but does it rise to the level of impeachment?

Are we worried about sex between consenting adults more than the actual threats that keep us apprehensive?

Millions spent to probe White Water and the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal yet no one wants to touch a real case of high treason. And besides in the last few years the Republicans have led in the kinky sex department with closet gays exposed in public restrooms and possible pedophiles being covered for, a much racier sex scandal then sex between consenting adults.

Denials poured forth from the White House when the Valerie Plame case first emerged and Mr. Bush promised heads would roll if he found it was within his entourage. Nonetheless after it was revealed it was Carl Rove, Scooter Libby and possibly Dick Cheney, he commuted the Libby sentence, go figure.

As the revelations by McClelland are only marginally covered by the media we must face the facts that our priorities are way out of kilter with reality.

Case in point, the Articles of Impeachment brought to the house floor against Mr. Cheney by Democratic Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The Articles were passed over like they were dirt, yet there were obviously high crimes and misdemeanors and impeachment was the method we should have utilized. Here is a far better basis for Articles of Impeachment then a stained blue dress, or an oval office sex scandal, herein lies the treachery of our leadership laid bare and shockingly ignored.

Further we must admit the Democratic Congress is partly to blame, if they were as zealous as the Republicans on a false issue about a legitimate one; Bush and the Neo Cons would be gone.

A sociologist friend of mine pointed out that our deep puritanical roots give us an eschewed perspective on such things as extramarital sex. Perhaps even to the point of viewing sex lies and video tapes as more of a crime than security breaches or treason. I pray American priorities rise above such illogical conclusions and horrible priorities, say it ain't so Joe.

To articulate a stand that we ignore obvious treachery from our leadership yet pounce on far less important moral issues because they are sexual is not only wrong, it is ludicrous.

One must consider an apathetic and fearful Congress and uneducated American public, and the right wing propaganda machine that leaves us in this illogical quandary.

Neo Cons strive to keep us alarmed and confused and it seems to be working.

Where is the Special Prosecutor when we need one? Kenny Star where are you?

We had a Special Prosecutor for Clinton's sex lies but not Bush's national security lies, what strange priorities we harbor.

Are the Republicans able to impeach Democrats on frivolous charges yet the real crimes by fellow Republicans ignored. Both parties share the blame and shame on the Democrats for being so damned gutless.

Where is the outrage from the American Media?

Where are the American people on this? How is it we ignore the highest treason since Benedict Arnold?

I must leave these rhetorical questions unanswered as the answer has yet to be forthcoming and the silence from a dumbed down public is obvious.

Lies, cover ups, hidden agendas, prevarication's, misanthropic methods and treasonous deceit are the new working policy in D.C. and America slumbers in complete ignorance through this treachery.

-R.W. Barker

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

So the WGA strike continues, although new talks are scheduled for this week–the first in nearly a month. Thus far many of the best shows still have new episodes to run, but those will mostly all be done by the New Year, so unless the strike is ended, the TV wasteland will loom vast for 2008.

Where the effects of the strike have been most obvious is on late night. It’s pretty sad to be watching reruns of Leno, Letterman, Ferguson, et al when there is so much grist for the humor mill out there. And while it was amusing to watch Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween show on Thanksgiving night, and Craig Ferguson’s show from *last* Thanksgiving *this* Thanksgiving, that creeping sense of deja vu is getting tiresome.

What *are* insomniacs to do?

The strike has had a silver lining in that it has been good news for some shows, like *Nightline,*which has always been in the third spot in its time slot. Some of us have always watched *Nightline,* but a news junkie is a news junkie.

On Black Friday we expected *Nightline* to be all about the consumerism. We were surprised to find a far more serious episode airing.

We acknowledge we have never really warmed to Martin Bashir as a host. His often cold diffidence and British stuffiness made him an unlikely third in the *Nightline* triumvirate which includes the affable Terry Moran and perky Cynthia McFadden.

But on occasion we have seen Bashir be seriously moved by the stories he presents and Black Friday proffered one such episode.

The first segment was, in a word, ghastly. “Baghdad ER”–the title says it all. As Bashir noted in his lead-in to the on-site report by ABC senior correspondent Martha Raddatz, positive reports of the troop surge may indicate one thing, but for those working in the Baghdad ER at the 28th Combat Support Center, it’s all trauma, all the time. It is the busiest trauma center in the world, seeing 9,000 trauma patients since October, most airlifted in, two-thirds of them amputees.

Bashir’s lead-in was accompanied by a shot of a soldier hosing down stretchers bright red with blood.

It wasn’t a long piece, but it was very full, focusing on three casualties in a few hours: one soldier and two little Iraqi girls.

The soldier–23-years-old, the youngest of eight children–had been hit by an IED. It was the fourth time he had been hit by a bomb since May, but this one had nearly killed him and had it not been for medics in the field, he would have bled to death.

His right leg was gone, his other mangled beyond repair below the knee. Within the hour he would be a double amputee. He asked the male nurse, "At this point you're pretty … certain I'm not going to die, right?"

After his surgery–still not aware of his legless fate–he slept, unconscious from drugs. Members of his platoon stood at his bedside while the chaplain said a small prayer and his platoon leader pinned a Purple Heart to his pillow. It would be the first thing he would see when he awoke.

The second would be the blank space in the bed where his legs should have been.

The next casualty was an eight-year-old Iraqi girl who had been bitten by a scorpion. Her mother had flagged down a convoy and they had airlifted the child to the Baghdad ER. After much work, it looked as if her little life would be saved. Two patients in ICU, but two apparent successes in that neither had died.

The third patient was not so lucky. A two-year-old Iraqi girl had been scalded by boiling milk. Her mother had taken her to the local Iraqi doctor, who had treated the girl and sent her home. There she became acutely ill, and so–like the mother of the scorpion victim–this child’s mother had flagged down another convoy. The girl was airlifted in by helicopter and the doctors began to work on her.

Like the soldier, this was a crushing scene to witness. The tiny body with tubes and wires hooked up. State-of-the-art medicine available and ready, superb doctors working hard. But the child was past saving. Fully septic before she had been brought in, she was in multiple organ failure. We watched as the doctors called the death and then carefully removed all the tubes and wires and covered the body up to the neck with clean, unbloodied blue sheets, so the devastated mother could see her daughter one last time.

Raddatz asked the trauma surgeon, Dr. Rick Rooney, whose specialties are trauma and spinal injuries, how he coped with the endless trauma and tragedy. He explained that it was difficult–most of the staff working there were on anti-depressants and had trouble sleeping. “If we were allowed to drink, alcohol would be a problem,” he noted.

“One of the frustrating things is that as a physician a lot of times you're used to succeeding," he said. "Here a lot of the time what they hand you is a patient that's been devastated. There's no win. You lose and you lose and you lose and you're just not used to losing. It just sucks.” As he spoke the camera panned to the torn and bloodied uniform that had been the soldier’s.

Rooney looked defeated.

And the staff itself has not been immune to attack. Although the trauma center is in the Green Zone, it has been shelled and bombed and in July, Nurse Maria Ortiz was killed by a mortar. She had been planning to be married in September.

From the vantage point of the Baghdad ER, the war on Iraq has not changed at all since the troop surge–it’s all bloody, all the time.

The second *Nightline* segment was nearly as searing as the first. “Combating AIDS in D.C.” focused on efforts to alert everyone who will listen to the astronomical number of AIDS cases in the nation’s capital.

One in 20 Washington residents is HIV positive, a figure matched only in South Africa.

Yet as *Nightline’s* Jake Tapper walked the streets of the capital with a young AIDS activist, he was stunned to see teens and others rejecting condom kits. “They ain’t natural,” said one girl.

The bottom line on the segment was not news to the AIDS activist community: AIDS is, in D.C., a disease of African-Americans and queers. And as a consequence, as Hillary Clinton noted when she spoke at Howard University, no one in the Capitol seems to care.

Clinton had received a standing ovation when she said that if AIDS were striking one in 20 whites in an American city, it would be headline news. *Nightline* made it news. Hopefully, someone was watching. (To view both pieces, go to ABCnews.com and click on *Nightline.* Also check out Nightline Webcast: Combating AIDS in D.C. for more info on the D.C. AIDS situation and further video not shown in the *Nightline*segment.)

It’s no surprise that the news magazines have picked up the slack left by the writer’s strike. Over at NBC, our heart throb Ann Curry did a disturbing piece on the plight of the mentally ill and mentally retarded in Serbia.

In what is sure to be an Emmy-winning piece titled “The Voiceless,” Curry went on a tour of facilities for children, teens and young adults in Serbia where the mentally “defective” are warehoused like they were in the U.S. a half-century ago.

The scenes were gruesome and heart-rending. Some of these people had grown up in the cribs they had been placed in at birth, their limbs now misshapen and atrophied because there had been no room for them to grow.

The Serbian Minister of Health, whom Curry interviewed, was clearly disturbed by the video she showed him. He had been unaware of the situation at the mental hospitals. But he also acknowledged that under the current circumstances of the government, it would take years to change the circumstances for these people. Years they do not have.

Go to NBCnews.com to see ways in which you can help.

While you are clicking on NBCnews.com, you might want to send an email to Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and ask him what it was he meant last week when he declared at the opening of a news segment that “marriage was under attack in America.”

Really? By whom? Williams didn’t say, but the allusion is pretty clear, is it not? Combined with the recent information that Williams seems to think Rush Limbaugh is a force to be reckoned with (he is, but not in any positive way), one has to wonder if Williams has gone over the dark side and joined the wingnut brigade. Since he’s a stellar newsman who’s done yoeman work on Katrina and other catastrophes, let’s hope not.

Speaking of queer fear, while the soaps are still running new shows (because the writer’s strike hasn’t quite hit the soaps yet and hopefully won’t before the strike is settled),*As the World Turns* has been heating up its gay storyline with Luke and Noah.

Noah’s father is soon to be convicted–we hope–for killing Noah’s mother and attempting to kill Luke, who is now partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair, adding new challenges for the couple.

Noah and Luke went to see Colonel Mayer and confront him.

It didn’t go well. The Colonel was undaunted by what his orange jumpsuit means and tried to strangle Luke. The good news is the event seemed to shoot adrenaline into Luke’s legs: He stood up!

Once Luke is out of the wheelchair, it’s only a matter of time before Luke and Noah will be on their way to the bedroom. The romantic and sexual tension between them has been palpable.

While the strike continues, be sure to catch up on the news, check out the best of the reality shows (*Kid Nation,* *Kitchen Nightmares,* *Amazing Race*) and the best of the shows still not in re-run: *Boston Legal* is doing a spin on the Larry Craig incident on December 3rd and if you aren’t watching *Pushing Daisies* yet, what is wrong with you?!

Stay tuned.

Send your comments to: NationalView@aol.com

-Noah Greenberg