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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

April 28, 2008


McCain Explains McCain and the New Hundred Year War

Imagine losing your spouse in the Iraq war. Now fast forward to the year 2060. You're sitting at your daughter's kitchen table when a uniformed soldier knocks on her door to inform her that her child, your grandchild, was killed in the same place as your spouse was some four decades earlier.

Then imagine that your grandchild's grandchild is killed in the same place.

John McCain's response to Democratic Party campaign ads regarding his "hundred years" in Iraq comments, according to McCain himself, are misleading. Here's what McCain had to say about his own words and the ads:

"It's dishonest because anyone who looks at the entire transcript of the exchange that I had at a town hall meeting with a man who came there, who had a legitimate point of view that he was against the war and asked--we went back and forth about how long, quote, America would be there, and I said, `Well,' he said, `How many years?' I said, `Could be a hundred.' But the case is, it's after we've won the war. And I immediately said it's the same as we have troops in South Korea, we have troops in Japan, we have troops in Germany, depending on the security arrangement that we have.

"No one could have interpreted that exchange as me saying that we're going to be in a war for a hundred years."

And here's what McCain had to say back then:

QUESTIONER: (at New Hampshire town hall meeting to Senator McCain): President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years — (cut off by McCain)
McCAIN: Make it a hundred.
McCAIN: We’ve been in South Korea … we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans …
McCAIN: As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me, I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training and equipping and recruiting and motivating people every single day.

Of course there is no way that McCain can guarantee the safety of American troops in Iraq for any stretch of time. That's why "The Maverick" himself wore a flack-jacket when he visited a street market in Baghdad; and that's why there were dozens of armed US military personnel present for his protection as he purchased knick-knacks in Iraq during that "shopping spree".

But what really astounds me is McCain's comparison of Post-War Korea with the active occupation of Iraq. We still have troops within the friendly borders of a friendly ally in South Korea. Our presence there is to guard the border between the Communist North Korea and the Democratic South. Our soldiers aren't patrolling streets in Seoul as an active police force and, more importantly, they aren't being shot at by snipers in the streets. For the most part, our soldiers in South Korea are safe while those in Iraq and Afghanistan are not.

Think back to Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech: The Gettysburg Address. Imagine if the words "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," were followed by this:

"And as we stand here, on this hallowed ground, we realize that this war will last another one-hundred years - and that will be just fine with me."

For a self-proclaimed foreign policy expert like McCain to confuse what we have done in Post-War Japan, Post-War Europe and Post-War Korea with what is happening in Iraq is simply foolish. Perhaps McCain isn't the foreign policy wiz which he believes he is; maybe his recall of history needs to be updated; or perhaps he just doesn't understand the world and foreign policy as well as he claims to.

-Noah Greenberg

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

It was *quite* the week on the tube.

In a vain attempt to prove he’s “game,” President Bush appeared on NBC’s *Deal or No Deal* (we *still* don’t get that show) and then he and Laura appeared on *American Idol.* As if that weren’t enough, Laura and the bad twin turned good twin, Jenna, appeared on *Larry King Live.* (Where Jenna seemed unsure of who she was supporting for president, but it definitely didn’t seem to be John McCain.)

Obviously Bush passed up the one show that would have done him some good–*Are Your Smarter than a Fifth Grader?* But then his term *is* coming to an end....
What’s with the TV blitzkrieg? Whose ratings does *this* help?

Meanwhile over on the other side–that would be the part of the presidential race that people care about, the Democrats, we love how the we-can’t-help-but-lean-right TV pundits keep insisting that the protracted primary for the Dems is helping McCain.

The “presumed Republican nominee” (Ron Paul is still in the race, not that anyone, especially voters, noticed) can barely get a mention in the news. And last we looked, it was Hillary Clinton who raised $10 million in 24 hours after her smackdown of Barack Obama in Pennsylvania. Has McCain raised a dime? If so, it’s just one more thing the news hasn’t reported about him.

So really guys (and Cokie and Donna and Andrea)–you can stop belaboring this non-existent point. If you were actually reporting the news, the evening news lead would be this: “Nation utterly disinterested in all things Republican. Can’t get enough of Democrats.”

Speaking of the Democrats and TV news, we did notice that everyone was forced to acknowledge Clinton actually won a race after the April 22nd victory. Even *Nightline’s* Terry Moran, who has had the sloppiest of man crushes on Obama, was laudatory–if stunned.

Over at PBS, however, on Charlie Rose, whose man crush has rivaled Moran’s, the tone was downright morbid–as if a favored sports hero had died. But Keith Olbermann remained true to sexist form and may be the next MSNBC news figure to get a formal reprimand–after Chris Matthews and Dave Shuster–for violent commentary about Clinton.

Olbermann, whose adoration for Obama has known no bounds–*none*–has been unable to control his desire to take Hillary Clinton out. Literally. He can’t seem to get his head around the fact that half the Democrats (actually more, if you count Florida and Michigan) have voted for her. He can’t seem to get that she’s not only not Ron Paul, but has a real chance at being the nominee. Thus his ire reached a crescendo after the PA win. In a discussion post-primary with pundit Howard Fineman about the fact that the super-delegates were going to have to resolve the Democratic primary, Olbermann said, “Right. Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.” (Video here)


We’ve watched a lot of sexist commentary over the past year, but as the stakes have gotten higher, it’s been clear just how much woman-hating is on the tube. And not just on *Law & Order* (more on that below).

It ain’t pretty, that’s for sure, and this was Olbermann’s lowest moment. Ugly, raw and vile.

MSNBC issued this non-apology from Olbermann via email: “It is a metaphor. I apologize: the generic ‘he’ gender could imply something untoward. It should’ve been ‘only the other comes out–from a political point of view.’”


Write/email/call MSNBC and demand a real on-air apology. No matter which candidate you support. The idea that the democratic process should be subverted is bad enough. Suggesting that some tough guy rough up the female candidate and force her to submit, metaphor or no metaphor is what it is: Not-so-covert rape talk. And as such unacceptable from someone of Olbermann’s stature.

Over on PBS, Obama’s worst nightmare was coming back to haunt him. Bill Moyers interviewed Rev. Jeremiah Wright for a full, disturbing hour. With the Republican 527ads running in North Carolina featuring Wright’s now-infamous “God damn America speech,” no doubt the last thing Obama wanted to see was Wright revived in all his antagonistic glory. Check out the interview at PBS.org. Then check out the 42 (yes, *42*) different YouTube clips of Wright’s various sermons. The anti-gay ones are especially interesting.

Speaking of anti-gay, Dick Wolf was at it again this week on *Law & Order: SVU.*

We could do a column a week–or three, since there are three *L&O* shows in the franchise–deconstructing the woman-hating on the tube’s longest-running series. And when it isn’t women who are the villains, it’s their surrogates: gay men.

This week it was kinda both. A closeted NFL star apparently kills his male lover–actually husband, as they were secretly married–during rough sex. The lover is found in chaps with a ball-gag in his mouth and semen from the football player all over his body.

In the course of the investigation the football player is seemingly outed by one of the most despicable women in the history of TV. He gets beaten and put into a coma by some thugs. But then is convicted of his lover’s murder.

In the end, the killer is actually his agent.

What could have been a truly interesting hour about closeting and being queer in sports and the perils of gay-bashing turned into another version of gay-bashing. With a little misogyny tossed in for good measure, natch. (It should be noted that over on *L&O* this week the criminal was once again female. Someone needs to take Dick Wolf on a prison tour so he can see *who* is actually committing crimes in America. Hint: It ain’t women and queers.)

*L&O* claims to be predicated on stories “ripped from the headlines,” and gay-bashing *does* qualify. On April 25th, ABC’s *20/20* (view it at ABCnews.com) reporter John Quinones did another in his series “What Would You Do?” One segment featured two sets of queer couples kissing and holding hands in public. The men (gorgeous!) were doing it on a bench in a public square in Birmingham, Alabama. (Yikes!) The women (also gorgeous) were doing it in the same place (albeit a different time) and then on a bench in a park in New Jersey.

The men got nothing but complaints, including a 911 call that brought out a police officer and “God will punish them” comments. One young woman–the only person to do so–said they were sweet and said they’d like Birmingham and she was friendly and welcoming.

Later, Quinones explained to her that it was a TV segment and she said she’d been raised one way and realized when she was an adult that she could make her own decisions. At the end of the segment she was sitting on the bench with the men, chatting.

The women faired better, of course, because two women is every straight man’s fantasy. A group of be-suited men introduced themselves to the women. To what end, one can only surmise. Another older man expressed his enjoyment of the scene. But even the women received caustic comments and snide looks and one teenaged girl expressed her revulsion.

In between the men and women, Quinones did a brief explanation of gay-bashing and hate crimes against queers being on the rise. A hidden-camera in a taxicab elicited a stunning exchange on how queers should be “put down”–literally.

Finally, one middle-aged African-American woman and her elderly mother commented on both couples, noting that love was the important thing, and people should understand that. Indeed. An enlightening, if mostly disturbing, exercise.

And now to the *piece de Resistance*: *As the World Turns.*

The love triangle of Luke, Noah and Ameera came to an end last week when Ameera attempted to seduce her “husband,” Noah.

We’ve been anxious about this storyline from the outset and increasingly worried that the previously bisexual Noah would revert to his safety-in-women persona. But despite the lovely Ameera (played with subtle grace by Tala Ashe) finally discarding her hijab and long sleeves and letting her chestnut tresses flow and putting on a seductive black dress, the kiss she planted on Noah was not returned.

Noah called on Luke for support and in a touching scene that demonstrates why this is one of the longest-running soaps on the tube, explained to Ameera that she did not have to leave, that no one was hurt and that they could all remain friends.

Van Hansis has delivered one of the most nuanced and emotional performances on a soap since he took on the role of Luke Snyder. Jake Silberman’s portrayal of Noah has been wholly believable–his awkwardness and shyness in his tough-guy persona has made the character come alive.

The duo has created both a ratings boost for *ATWT* and controversy among right-wing ideologues with their superb portrayal of two gay college kids in love.
The controversy ratcheted up on April 23rd when Luke and Noah–after a hiatus of months–kissed again. This was no peck, either. Just as their first and second kisses had been real ones (and unlike the lesbian coupling of Bianca over on *All My Children,* there was no long hair to cover the actual action), the long-awaited third kiss was very, very real.

The couple was out in Old Town–yes, in public–and the sexual and romantic tension was, as ever with these two, palpable. Noah pulled Luke to him, eliciting a “What if the feds are watching?” (Both Luke and Noah fear the feds deporting Ameera if the marriage is exposed as a sham.)

Feds be damned, apparently. Noah said, “I want you to know every day I think about how lucky I am to have you.” Then he kissed Luke hard on the mouth–*full* on the mouth. And Luke responded. There were six–*six!*–kisses in all. Open mouthed, sexy and romantic as hell. (Check it out on YouTube: ATWT4-23: Noah & Luke's third kiss - in public.)

It was, in a word, beautiful. Kudos to CBS and to Hansis and Silberman for making every queer kid's dreams come true by showing a real, honest and totally loving portrayal of a young gay couple.

But the happily ever after has a kink in it (no pun intended).

The ever-watchful American Family Association (whose family, we wonder?) issued an “Action Alert” on April 25th demanding something be done. The AFA asserts:

“Procter & Gamble has resumed using explicit, open-mouth homosexual kissing in their soap opera, "As the World Turns." P&G decided to include this type of content as a commitment to "diversity." P&G stopped showing such scenes some months ago, but has now decided to again help promote the homosexual agenda which includes homosexual marriage.

“Gay activists are hopeful that the P&G effort will desensitize viewers to the homosexual lifestyle and help make the unhealthy and immoral lifestyle more acceptable to society, especially to children and youth.

“View a scene from the April 23, 2008 episode by P&G. WARNING – content is repulsive!

"As the World Turns" is owned and controlled completely by P&G. No network made this decision. P&G alone made the decision to support the homosexual agenda.”

The AFA “alert” gives a sample letter of protest and a link to send it. They also demand a boycott of P&G products, including the top three P&G items–which are also the top three in their categories: Tide, Crest and Pampers.

We suggest a counter-boycott: Send letters to P&G applauding their commitment to diversity and buy P&G products whenever possible and urge your friends to do the same.

Diversity is what America needs, and P&G has shown time and again with its storylines on *ATWT* and other soaps that it is committed to showing all aspects of American life, as well as address compelling issues for America viewers. (*ATWT* is currently also airing a storyline about cancer, with an actress who is an actual cancer survivor.)

For too long the Right has determined what can and cannot be said in America.


And of course, stay tuned.

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-Noah Greenberg