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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

May 26, 2008

 

The "R"; The "D"; and The "I"

Here's a troubling trend: Fox News, the other mouthpieces of the GOP; and the "legitimate" main stream media outlets, such as CNN, are putting "experts" on explaining why Hillary Clinton should drop out, stay in or - get this - become an independent candidate for president this November.

The "Draft Hillary" movement is coming from so many on the Right side of the aisle that it's hard to put the finger on just one. But if you turn on Fox News Channel at almost any time of the day or night you will see and hear a number of reasons why Hillary should take up the mantle of independence.

Of course, we all know the real reason that so many on the Right want Hillary to become an independent candidate: Splitting the vote might be the only chance that John McCain - a.k.a John McBush - might have to beat a better financed nominee named Barack Obama.

There are even sights named drafthillary.org and votehillary.org that are devoted to making the former first Lady and sitting junior Senator from New York what the GOP want her to be - a vote-stealing independent who destroys the democratic party on a national level.

And destroy it, it will.

You could make the argument that Hillary Clinton should be the first and only choice by Candidate Obama for the number two seat on the Blue side this November. It's a case that former President Bill Clinton is now making. And it might make sense if you believe that McCain will make a strong showing in the Northeast Democratic enclaves of New York, New Jersey and other "given" blue states. Hillary Clinton certainly would help Candidate Obama solidify those states in November. But the other side of the argument is that there are probably others in the Democratic Party who might do the same and help in other states that could be up for grabs where Senator Clinton would be no help at all.

Certainly Senator Clinton isn't thinking about this independent run seriously. It hurt when, after backing the Iraq War and President Bush, Joe Lieberman lost his bid to retain the "D" after his name in the 2006 Connecticut Primary and then ran with the "I" after his name. This would be catastrophic.

And if Mrs. Clinton did decide to throw away her party - the party her husband helped re-create in 1992 - for the "I" after her name, what would any of us in the "D" party owe her?

Nothing, except contempt.

But the Independent Candidate idea does not seem to be hers. It seems as if this scheme were hatched by none other than Karl Rove with the intention of creating a third George W. Bush term. And if McCain-McBush gets into office, it's just what we'll get.

But maybe just the idea of an Independent Clinton running for President is ammunition enough for the hate-radio-mongers of the Right. After all, their track record, so far, is impressive, to say the least. Perhaps using the idea that Senator Clinton might join the race at any time after Obama is named the official Democratic candidate would be enough to cloudy the waters and take the target off of McCain-McBush and his promises to keep the Bush status quo going for at least another four years.

Imagine the gullible main stream media latching onto a Karl Rove statement on Fox News that his "sources" have confirmed to him that Senator Clinton is running as an independent. There will be discussions about "should-she-or-shouldn't-she"; they'll be "experts" claiming to "know" what she is thinking; and they'll be even more time wasted on her denials, the media's zeal for this "hot news" and Senator Obama's pleading to get back to the issues. There will be more than enough mud to cloud-up the election waters no matter what the truth is.

And Bush, McCain-McBush and Rove are just the mud-slingers to do it.

Just look at the traction the Swift-Boat debacle did against 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry. The draft-dodging Bush, somehow, came across better than the Purple Heart and Gold- and Silver-Star winning former Naval officer. It was so effective that the term "swift-boating" as added to our lexicon.

And don't put it past the GOP to use any means at their measure to do the same to Obama, or anyone else who stands in their way.

Let the swift-boating begin, if it hasn't already.

-Noah Greenberg



THE LAVENDER TUBE: LIVING LA VIDA LOCA
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

Sometimes you turn on the tube and it just seems like everyone has gone a little nuts, a little off their rocker, a little *loca.*

It was that kind of a week–crazy. The big Memorial Day weekend, the frenzy over the election, the announcement that lesbians and gay men are equal under the law in California (and Massachusetts, but nowhere else, apparently), the season finales of some of our favorite shows, new *American Idol* and new *Dancing with the Stars* winners. All of it turned up on the tube in a wild pastiche of Americana.

Where even to begin?

With solemnity. There’s precious little attention to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan these days. Apparently war just doesn’t rate face time on the news. The war has garnered less than an hour, total, of news time on the networks in the last month.

This despite 2008 being the deadliest year in Afghanistan since 2001 (yes, we’ve been there for nearly seven years), this despite the fact that our troops are being injured, killed and driven crazy with PTSD daily in Iraq.

So: take 20 minutes and go to ABCnews.com and check out the Memorial Day episode of *Nightline.* It’s a view of the war as told from three returning vets. It’s sickening, heart-breaking and enraging. But it will remind you that Memorial Day isn’t just another three day weekend with great sales. It’s a time to reflect on all those who have given their lives or altered their lives for all Americans. It’s a time to reflect on duty and responsibility. It’s a time to reflect on Bush, Cheney and the other warmongers who lied us into Iraq and never planned to leave.

The *Nightline* episode is superb. If you don’t cry, you’re missing the empathy gene.

Speaking of empathy, the candidates were continuing their various campaigns here and there this past week and an empathy vacuum opened up over at MSNBC and threatened to swallow the network whole.

Keith Olbermann went a tad insane on May 23rd in his special comment section. He was commenting on Hillary Clinton’s response to a question posed to her by the editorial board of a South Dakota newspaper earlier Thursday, in a meeting. (click for full interview)

She said that many primary races run long and cited her husband’s 1992 race and that of Robert F. Kennedy, which ended in assassination.

Some pundits–not many–went off the deep end and suggested Clinton was asking someone to assassinate her competition, Barack Obama.

For years the Right Wing has asserted that Bill and Hillary Clinton are serial killers. (No, really, they have.) So this was nothing new. Clinton, who has made the same reference repeatedly over the past few months to the assassination, apologized a few hours after the remarks were made. But since she *had* made the reference on numerous occasions and in the same context of being asked a question about the length of the primary race, it was difficult to see where the outrage came in, as no one had ever commented on it before.

On *The News Hour* with Jim Lehrer on PBS, New York Times columnist David Brooks dismissed the remark as possibly insensitive, given Ted Kennedy’s current health status, but said it was nothing to be incensed over.

Olbermann clearly disagreed. He devoted 14 minutes to excoriating Clinton in as vitriolic a manner as we have ever seen on the tube. Scarily vitriolic. (One wishes he had ever taken on the Bush Administration with such strength of purpose.) Olbermann was so over the top that we were wondering if he had lost his medication earlier in the day.

The rant was especially troubling given Olbermann’s history with the presidential campaign. His support for Barack Obama has been unabashed. So has his hatred for Clinton. And given the fact that Olbermann himself actually suggested last month that someone needed to kill Clinton to get her out of the race (“Somebody will take her into a room — and only he comes out.”) and then was forced to reluctantly apologize, it seems rather hypocritical to go off on Clinton with such vigor when *she* said nothing of the sort.

The inability of the TV media to look at the presidential primary with any objectivity at all is disturbing and bodes ill for the general election. Had the media given the same attention to the Bush Administration that it has given to parsing every word and gesture from Clinton in particular, but the Democrats in general, perhaps we would have been out of Iraq by now.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a strong and early supporter of Clinton reiterated *his* support for her after the comment in a news interview, noting, “I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

Meanwhile, over on *Ellen,*the queer talk show host was doing the job the serious journalists are supposed to be doing: Taking on John McCain.

Ellen has hosted all three candidates, but used her time with McCain on May 22nd to address the recent same-sex marriage decision in California.

The talk show host noted that she had already planned to have a commitment ceremony with her longtime girlfriend, actress Portia de Rossi, but now that the marriage ban had been lifted, would be wedding her legally.

She said to McCain, “I legally now can get married like everyone should be able to.

So I’m obviously excited and this is only fair.”

McCain, obviously uncomfortable at addressing the issue, shifted in his chair and said, “I think people should be able to enter into legal agreements. And I think that it is something we should encourage, particularly the necessity of partnerships for legal agreements in the case of insurance and other areas where decisions have to be made.” But McCain said the “unique status of marriage” belongs to a man and a woman.

“We have respectful disagreement on the issue,” he said.

Ellen did not let him off the hook. Having repeatedly taken on civil rights issues over the past year on her show, she made the analogy to the rights of women and African Americans.

“Women just got the right to vote in 1920, and blacks didn’t have the right to vote until 1870,” she noted, adding, “It just feels like there’s this old way of thinking that we are not all the same. We are all the same, our love is the same.”

McCain attempted to interject with more about contracts, but Ellen went on, “To me what it feels like, it feels like when people say you can have a contract it sounds like you can sit *there* but not *there,*” pointing as if to the front and back of the bus.

The audience applauded wildly.

“It’s just not inclusive.”

McCain, clearly wishing he were elsewhere, said politely, “I’ve heard you articulate that position in a very eloquent fashion. I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and woman, and I know that we have a respectful disagreement on that issue. And I along with many, many others wish you every happiness.”

Ellen got the last laugh, “So you’ll walk me down the aisle?”

“Touche,” said McCain.

Touche indeed. Ellen, once again doing the real work the press has forgotten how to do.

Meanwhile, over on ABC, the top-rated *Grey’s Anatomy* brought their season finale to a close with a lesbian kiss.

The most heterosexual hour on TV goes...Sapphic? *Yes.*

So goes Seattle Grace, so goes the nation.

Callie (Sarah Ramirez), Erica (Brooke Smith) and Mark (Eric Dane) are sitting around chatting in the cafeteria. Erica says they are sharing a Sapphic salad. (We want to try that one.) The women joke with Mark that he is *so* imagining a threesome. Erica lays her head on Callie’s shoulder. Mark sighs heavily.
Cut to the elevator. The women are still joking with Mark when Erica leans over and kisses Callie, long and hard.

Erica gets off the elevator and goes one way. Mark walks out of the elevator. Callie stands for a few seconds, gobsmacked, then she too walks out. Fade to black until next season.

Yikes!

We haven’t been so stunned since David Cook won *American Idol* instead of David Archuleta. (For more girl-on-girl action, tune in to CBS’s new show *Swingtown,* which debuts June 5th.)

Speaking of *American Idol,* we watched the final show, we heard Cook and Archuleta sing and we find it *incomprehensible* that Archuleta didn’t win.
First of all, he’s adorable. We know he’s a Mormon, but if he doesn’t grow up to be gay, we will be stunned, stunned, stunned.

But beyond his cuteness, he’s *such* a superior singer to Cook and he’s only 17. Who voted for Cook over Archuleta? The same people who voted for Ruben Studdard over Clay Aiken? Please.

And can we just say: 97.5 million people voted last week. Cook won by 12 million votes. That’s about as many votes as John McCain got in the Republican primary.

If we put Hillary, Obama and McCain on *American Idol,* would that be the best way to choose a candidate?

As our beloved noted when told Cook had won (after the initial shock that it wasn’t Archuleta): “Well that’s it then. David Cook is president.”

If David Cook is president, what does that make Madonna and K.D. Lang? We ask because we caught k.d. on Craig Ferguson the other night looking about as butch as we’ve ever seen her look. She still croons like a rat packer and we still swoon when we hear her. When Ferguson asked her about *American Idol* she said it was telling people that’s what singing really was and that people who were classic stars would never have made it on *AI.*

Speaking of stars who might not have made it and thus our lives would be oh so much poorer, Madonna was the featured interview on *Nightline* on May 23rd and the material girl was as fascinating and irritating as ever.

Interviewed with a fan’s fervor by Cynthia McFadden for the full segment, Madonna focused on her new documentary which premiered at Cannes on May 22nd. *I Am Because We Are* debuted to an SRO audience and received rave reviews. The film, which Madonna produced, narrated and found the director for is about AIDS orphans in Malawi, the African nation from which she adopted her son, David.

It’s always heartening to see celebs using their fame for good, not self-serving evil. Catch the entire interview plus more that wasn’t on the show at ABCnews.com, click on *Nightline.*

While you’re checking that out, check out the May 24th *Nightline* segment on fast food and calories. And be sure you do it before your next stop at McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Taco Bell, Starbucks or any other fast food chain. If you were wondering why Americans are so fat, this will explain it pretty clearly. If you get a latte from Starbucks plus a Big Mac from MacDonald’s with fries, that’s your calories for the day. And those are the low-cal items.

*Nightline* lists links to the info the chains don’t want you to have. Check it out.

Finally, we must once again sing the praises of CBS and *As the World Turns* for the Best Gay Storyline Ever. We know it’s a tad juvenile to keep saying “They kissed! They kissed!” particularly when it seems every show on the tube has women kissing whether they are queer or not just to jump the shark. (At least *Grey’s Anatomy was honest by having Mark in on it.)

But two *men* kissing–not something we see. *ATWT* clearly does not care about boycotts when its ratings are soaring and viewer response is overwhelmingly positive.

This past week Luke and Noah faced yet another impediment to the consummation of their relationship, but viewers got to see a lot of kissing and a little bit of fondling before they headed out of the bedroom and off to another adventure. CBS is coming as close to treating this relationship just like it does heterosexual relationships–with a sense of normalcy. Bravo!

So goes Oakdale, so goes the nation? We can only hope.

Stay tuned.


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-Noah Greenberg