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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 22, 2008


The End of Rudy?

Did anyone happen to catch Rudy Giuliani's appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday? Strange is the word that came to my mind as I watched it. Rudy's face was this strange shade of red, either from the Florida sun or some low-budget tanning salon, but his eyes - his eyes were... well... spooky.

As Rudy was speaking to (but not answering the questions from) Stephanopoulos, his eyes blinked wildly as if a strobe light reflecting off of a Studio 54 disco ball were blinking into them. His red face had these two, peculiar white spots around its eyes as if Rudy were wearing the darkest of sun glasses, but two sizes too big for even his bulbous head.

It was so distracting that I couldn't even pay attention to what he was saying, which is good for "America's Mayor" because if anyone were actually listening, all they would hear is, as Senator Joe Biden put it, "A noun, a verb and 911."

And thanks to Jon Stewart on A Daily Show for pointing out Rudy's inclusion of "9 or 11" in his assessment of the economy.

"We've gone from about 9 to over 11 percent now of GDP,"
-Rudy to Stephanopoulos, as pointed out by Stewart

Stewart called it "Rudy's moment of Zen." I think its simply disgusting.

Rudy hasn't only made himself insignificant in the GOP nominating process, he has made his candidacy a joke, and it's the same thing we've all seen from him before. In 2000, during his abbreviated run against then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in New York's Senate Race to fill Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was all talk until his character was brought into question. It seems that Rudy had no problem treating wife number 2, TV's Donna Hanover, the same way he treated anyone who he felt betrayed him. Rudy told the world that he was in love with another woman, his present wife (number 3 and the temporary love of his life), New York socialite (and former nurse) Judith Nathan. Imagine the then-Mrs. Giuliani's surprise when she heard the news with the rest of us, which included her (their) children.

Of course, the divorce-and-new-love-of-my-life announcement came after his leaving the Senate race due to his diagnosis with prostate cancer. It was as good an excuse as any, but we all know that had Rudy been trouncing Clinton in the polls, instead of the other way around, there was no way he would have removed himself for Rick Lazio. Notice his ability to continue as New York City mayor while being treated for his ailment.

Mayor Giuliani showed those who had dared crossed him with the malice of a King insulted. Whether the insult was a slap in the face or merely turning his back on the King as he left the room, the death penalty was (and is) always the sentence.

In 1997, a Bronx, NY chauffeur, James Schillaci, had the audacity to call up a WABC Radio talk show hosting The Mayor in one of the ultra-Conservative station's "We Love You, Rudy" love-fests. (WABC is the home station of "personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and a host of other NeoCon spinners.) Schillaci informed the mayor of a sting by the Bronx Zoo in which NYPD officers were conducting a sting to catch red light violators. The gimmick was that a device was under a street plate, and while the motorist cruised through the intersection on a green light, the officers' patrol car would roll over that plate and cause the light, through a mechanism on the street, to turn red. The unsuspecting motorist received a several hundreds dollar summons along with a few points on his (or her) license. The city made out by collecting the penalty; the auto insurance companies made out by charging their customer for "traffic points" on the record; and the motorist was contributing to the economy.

The Mayor was mad and stunned that his highness was accosted in such a manner and had that very same NYPD came to the door of Mr. Schillaci to arrest him for a 13-year-old unpaid summons. It turns out that a traffic summons in Rudy's New York apparently has no statute of limitations. A judge through out the case, but not without Rudy extracting his revenge, and his revenge cost the people of New York $290,000 in a legal settlement.

"New York City spent at least $7 million in settling civil rights lawsuits and paying retaliatory damages during the Giuliani years."
-The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/us/politics/22giuliani.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin -The New York Times article chronicles many, many more such abuses by Rudy Giuliani)

So let this be Rudy's eulogy. With the winner-take-all Florida primary coming up next week, and the likelihood that once-favorite Giuliani will finish second behind now-favorite John McCain (earning him as many delegates as he has now - ZERO), Rudy might not even make it to Super Tuesday. So Take your Joe Lieberman Award and leave, Mr. Mayor. Your time is up.

-Noah Greenberg

An Interesting Edwards Endorsement

January 20, 2008

The Honorable John R. Edwards
410 Market Street
Suite 400
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Dear Senator Edwards:

It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father's legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father's legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.

I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.

You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don't have lobbyists in Washington and they don't get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.

I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.

From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.

I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.

So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father's words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.


Martin L. King, III

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

First, the good news. The WGA and the producers are talking. The producers have already struck a deal with the DGA (Directors Guild of America). Everyone is hoping the WGA will accept the same deal. It’s tentative, and one TV season is already sunk and another will be tanked if the strike doesn’t end by mid-February, but it’s progress. Let’s not jinx it by talking about it, though. *Shhhhh!*

Before we head to real TV, run right to your computer, go to ABCnews.com, click on *20/20* and watch the Tom Cruise segment from the January 17th episode. If you thought the jumping on the couch on the Oprah show was a spectacle, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Not only does ABC take Scientology apart (and let’s face it, it *is* a cult for very crazy rich people), but it also takes on Cruise himself and his belief that he is saving the world with his claims that psychiatry is killing people. (And yet, he so clearly needs some meds.)

Cruise has never looked more darkly handsome. But he has also never seemed more insane. Truly, truly insane.

You’ll *love* the video of him getting the big Scientology award. The scene is right out of *Star Trek* circa 1965. The whole thing is fabulous, bizarre and very, very creepy.

Now, back to what’s left of the TV landscape.

It’s not as bad as it looks, folks. And despite all the doom and gloom, it’s hard to imagine that people are going to give up TV. That’s like saying people are going to give up being Democrats just because they always lose elections.

We know *we* won’t be giving up TV (or voting against the Republicans). Especially not now that cable is sending shows over to network to bridge the gap.
Yes, it’s true. And we are positively giddy about it.

First, USA Network sent the two *Law&Order* shows back to NBC and somehow managed to make them way more compelling in the process. (The addition of Alicia Witt to *Criminal Intent* is quite a plus. And Vincent D’Onofrio is chubbier, stubbly-er and crazier than ever.) It might just be that we missed *Law&Order* because it’s been on the tube our whole lives. But it does have a fresher, newer feel to it, even in its 19th season. Wednesdays on NBC.

*Law&Order* isn’t new, of course. It’s an old, old standby. But Showtime is sending its best show, the bloody, witty, serial killer series *Dexter* over to its parent company, CBS. Can *The L Word* be far behind?

For those of you who have never seen *Dexter,* now’s your chance.

Of course you won’t be seeing the *exact* same thing as ran on Showtime, because, well, cable can do things network cannot so it will be edited.

*Dexter,* set in Miami, is about a forensics expert who is also a serial killer. Michael C. Hall, who plays *Dexter,* is phenomenal.

Unlike the *L&O* franchise, which was dumped by NBC and sent back to USA for revamping and a new audience (after all, there are two channels on cable devoted to nothing but *L&O* reruns, so the audience is built in), *Dexter* originated, bloodily, on Showtime.

CBS airs the first season (the second season just ended) starting February 17th in the 10pm slot. CBS is making the move to fill a major hole left by the WGA strike. Rather than just continuing to air re-runs, CBS is airing a show new to network viewers that has already run on cable. With 12 episodes, CBS can fill the entire spring season. CBS is looking to do more similar moves from cable to network.

Even edited for network prime time, *Dexter* will be one of the best shows on the tube. Set the DVR, folks.

One of the best series on the tube in any season is ABC’s mysterious *Lost,* which begins its third year on the tube January 31st with a two-hour premiere.

We acknowledge we have *always* been devoted to the quirky, twisty-turny *Lost* which is part sci-fi, part thriller, part fantasy. It’s a superb show with a complex storyline usually anathema to network TV and reserved for cable. After a stellar and incredibly popular first season, its numbers dropped in season two with complaints of–you guessed it–too complicated to follow week to week.

Come on folks, it’s not Dostoevsky, it’s TV. How complicated can it really be?

Although the show always gives a really superb wrap-up before each new season begins, if you’ve never watched, you can rent the first couple of seasons and then watch the new one. Speaking of complex new TV series, the fifth and final season just began of what one friend calls “The best show *ever* on TV. Next to this, everything else is and will always be, crap.”

HBO’s *The Wire,* which started as just another cop show set in Baltimore is anything but. This season the show, which has taken on corruption in Baltimore in the schools, the unions and City Hall, takes on the media.

In an effort at full-disclosure, we have written for the Baltimore Sun, which is the newspaper featured this season on *The Wire,* for 15 years. That said, the decline and evisceration of newspapers around the country is the topic, according to the show’s creators, not the Sun in particular. (Executive producer and lead writer David Simon was a police reporter at the Sun until 1995.) Whether or not the Sun is more susceptible to corruption because of the cutbacks is certainly debatable, and the newspaper’s editor has noted that the show bears as much resemblance to the reality of the Sun as does *Law&Order* to the New York criminal justice system.

Simon, however, told the AP last week that he did indeed believe that the Sun was inventing material when he was there and his animosity toward the paper stems from that experience as a reporter.

Okay, then. Simon v. Sun.

Regardless, you won’t find more compelling drama on TV.

Whether or not you find ABC’s new prime time soap, *Cashmere Mafia,* compelling will depend solely upon whether or not you like to see beautiful women improbably cast as high-powered corporate executives. Or whether you like to see beautiful women improbably cast as high-powered corporate executives even more improbably *kissing each other.*

Ah, *yes.* Finally we have some lesbian action back on prime time. It’s only been...well, never.

We really wish we found *Cashmere Mafia* compelling beyond the kissing, but, alas, we don’t. It’s nowhere near as good as the show previously in that time slot (Wednesdays, 10pm), *Dirty Sexy Money,* which had a far more realistic and interesting queer storyline. But it is nice to see Bonnie Somerville (*NYPD Blue,**The O.C.*), who plays the bisexual (yes, *bisexual*–that’s so she can make it with men later, when we move past the titillation stage) Caitlin Dowd. It’s also nice to see Lourdes Benedicto (also *NYPD Blue* and the short-lived, but complicated and smart, *The Nine*), who plays Alicia, Caitlin’s love interest and first foray into her lesbian side.

Now both women are 34, so they are indeed late bloomers, which is never explained. But this isn’t reality TV, it’s a prime time soap. And the lesbian storyline is clearly for fun, folks, not for real. We’re supposed to be thrilled that yet another walked-right-out-of-a-Penthouse-centerfold couple of lipstick non-lesbians are being touted on prime time as actual lesbians. After all, why present realistic portrayals of queers when you can present the straight male fantasy version, right?

Well, when the choice is nothing or a little more than nothing, we’ll take the pouty-lipped adventuresome bisexual kiss, please. With the cherry on top.

If you missed the kiss–and it was a long, soft-porn-style kiss–you can catch it online at ABC.com or on YouTube.

Speaking of realistic portrayals of queers on TV, for the brief moment that Luke and Noah were back on the *As the World Turns* landscape over at CBS daytime this week, Noah asked Luke to move in with him so that they could be alone together.

Luke has regained use of his lower body since he recovered from his paralysis (no one ever remains paralyzed on daytime), so you know what *this* means. A sex scene is not far behind. That is, if Luke and Noah can be on the show for more than five minutes every other week.

So while we’ve been waiting for Luke and Noah to reappear and for shows that aren’t re-runs to come back to the tube and also lighting votive candles for the WGA strike to end, we have been paying closer attention to the news, because there’s only so much reality TV one can take.

Remember the war? We remember it, but it has been MIA on the news since the writer’s strike began. We know that’s just a coincidence, since the WGA doesn’t write news, but it does make one wonder.

And here’s a scary item: On January 17th alone we counted Mike Huckabee mentioning protecting “real” marriage 12 times on three different newscasts. Just in case that nice-guy image was lulling you into a false sense of security that a President Huckabee wouldn’t be so bad. As one friend said, “Does his wife look happy to *you*?”

We’ve also been watching the pathology over at MSNBC that Chris Matthews has with Hillary Clinton. Last week he called her a “she-devil” (yes, a *she-devil*). He has also called her “witchy” and called men who support her “*castratos*in the eunuch chorus.” (Although we think the proper term is *castrati.*) He said she’s “not a convincing mom.” He refers to her repeatedly as either “Madame deFarge” or “Nurse Ratchet.” In the coup de grace, he said she is only a candidate because people feel sorry for her.

If, like us, you are tired of the misogyny, you might want to send an email to Phil Griffin, Senior Vice President for News over at NBC (phil.griffin@nbc.com). Matthews has already been forced to squeak out one apology about Clinton. Let’s see if he can get the Imus treatment and be suspended for an extended period for giving in to his obsession.

Speaking of misogyny, NBC *Nightly News* did a series last week on the truth about boys and girls, which was a disturbing eye-opener about just how far women *haven’t* come since suffrage. We were shocked to hear first-hand accounts by women of their encounters with the white-collar glass ceiling, particularly in academia and science. And to see that women still are only making 69 cents on the male dollar. (Does that mean if Hillary Clinton gets elected, she’ll have to take a pay cut?) And that girls are held to higher entrance requirements than boys for college. And that girls in co-ed classrooms are regularly ignored by teachers in favor of boys.

To see the full series of reports, go to NBCnews.com.

While surfing the tube the other night, we were drawn to an interview with Sylvester Stallone on David Letterman. Yes, it’s true. We listened to the full interview with Rocky about his new Rambo IV movie.

Why, you ask? Well, we were actually waiting for Craig Ferguson to come on. But then we became intrigued when Stallone said he wanted to make a political statement with his new film.

A political statement with Rambo IV?

“This is a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams,” Stallone told a suddenly serious Letterman. Stallone went on to explain how Burma (Letterman corrected him saying “Myanmar,” but Stallone noted that was the military regime’s name, not the people’s name) was one of the most repressed nations on earth and said he had hoped to draw attention to the horror there with the film.

“Educating and entertaining,” he said. “I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and they said Burma was the worst place on the planet.” The filming was done just before the most recent uprisings in Burma and the subsequent repression of the monks. He described his experiences filming on the border between Thailand and Burma. Survivors of the military attacks with “legs cut off and all kinds of injuries from land mines and with maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off.”

Stallone said he and his film crew saw elephants with legs cut off or blown off from land mines. “We hear about Vietnam and Cambodia [and land mines] and this was more horrific.”

There’s all sorts of news we aren’t seeing out there. Who knew Rocky/Rambo would be one of the people bringing it to us?

Stay tuned. There’s lots more on the tube than you ever think there will be, strike or no strike.

In response to Bush's Tax "Rebate", Victoria Brownworth writes:

The thing is, you still have to make over $100,000 to get the $800 tax rebate. I wonder how many Americans realize that once again, it's about giving money to people who don't need it. And those guys in the Madman graphic. They re toothless because they cannot afford a dental plan.

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-Noah Greenberg