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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

June 10, 2008


Allowing "Them" to "Fix" Oil

"The Saudi Cabinet has instructed Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi to call for a meeting in the near future that will include representatives of oil-producing countries, consumers and companies that work in extracting, exporting and selling oil to look into the price hike, its causes and how to deal with it,"
-Saudi Arabia's Information and Culture Minister Iyad Madani

I hope you're all breathing a lengthy sigh of relief today knowing that the Saudi Royal Family is on the case.

That's right, as reported by various news organizations, the Saudi government is going to look into the soaring rise in gas prices. And while they're doing that they're also making this promise:

Saudi Arabia will "guarantee the availability of oil supplies now and in the future,"

You bet your last dollar they will. After all, without oil there is no oil money; and without money, there is no power.

A funny thing happened to me yesterday. A friend - a very, very right wing friend - came to me and asked me a simple question: Why are oil prices rising? This friend and I have had various disagreements about, among other things, the Bush administration's handling of just about everything. He is a staunch supporter of President Bush and, even today, supports all of the President's economic policies and refuses to acknowledge that Bush is in any way at fault for our, and his current predicament.

My friend has three boys who are involved in various activities. And although he works close to home and his household is a two-income household, with all of the increases in prices due to the rise in gas prices he is having his own financial issues.

But before I could answer his question, he made it rhetorical by answering it himself:

"It's the oil companies, right?"
-My Friend

And it is the oil companies, but it isn't all just their fault. In order to make prices rise and profits soar in the way that Big Oil wants it to grow, they need an accomplice. They found their partner in crime in the Bush administration. This isn't to say that Big Oil wouldn't be raising prices if there were a Democrat in office, but one would like to believe that a different President might have done something to keep Big Oil in check somewhat.

This President's answer about every economic issue was, and is, to let the market decide. And if the market needs help, or if the market wants more, then to aid it with subsidies, no-bid contracts and awards of American middle-class tax dollars seemingly in exchange for "future considerations".

There is an answer and that answer doesn't include the Saudi Arabian government "looking into things" for us.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE standards which determine the miles per gallon as fuel efficiency for our vehicles was presented in an act of congress way back in 1975 in response to the first gas crisis in 1973. Its purpose was to make America less dependent on foreign oil by creating more fuel efficient cars, vans and light trucks. The idea was that, in a few years, all of the vehicles on US roads would be reaching the 40 MPG mark. It was passed by a Republican President (Gerald Ford) and was all but killed by another Republican President (Ronald Reagan).

Making real CAFE standards today would go a long way in helping our nation's future gas crisis. Certainly we can't rely on our present government for any relief, so we have to think towards the future and live in the present. and the present stinks!

This President, and his would-be successor John McCain (or is that McBush?) are dead set against any such standards. They use words like "artificial" and "temporary" but offer no real alternatives in exchange.

When President Bush made the statement that "Americans are addicted to oil," it truly seemed as if it were a revelation to him. Bush, himself an oil man, albeit a bad one who saw the demise of his very own company at his own hands, has relied on oil wealth for his personal and professional fortune. And McCain is set to step up to become Bush (44).

Brazil should be used as the model which we base our future upon. Today, thanks to ethanol produced from its biggest crop sugar cane, Brazil is essentially self-reliant for its energy needs. Gas stations even offer dual pumps: one for gasoline, the other for ethanol. Our gas stations offer very few, if any at all, alternative fuels for sale.

This isn't about only the price of gas, but the availability of fuels and some self-sufficiency on our part. President George W. and John McBush just don't understand this or simply prefer the situation as it stands.

When President Bush said, we'll finance "cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but wood chips and stalks or switch grass," one had to wonder just how much switch grass he had on his Crawford, Texas ranch.

-Noah Greenberg

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

It’s going to be a long, hot summer of sky-rocketing gas prices, which means most of us will be sitting home staring at the tube. New shows, Olympics and the ever-present election coverage will be the staples of our summer viewing.

Meanwhile, the first lap of the election has wrapped this week, and it’s been bittersweet.

African Americans saw a dream realized when Sen. Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

But for all the joy that raised among a diverse group of Americans, among an equally diverse group there was bitterness and sadness as another dream–that of potentially the first female president–was dashed.

The polls and attitudes shocked us over the past few months. Many who thought it would be harder for a black man were proven wrong daily: a man, regardless of race, is still considered more acceptable than a woman when it comes to the highest office in the land. Even as Hillary Clinton garnered the most popular votes, the polls still showed that a majority of Americans felt queasy about a woman–any woman–as president.

Apparently we *haven’t* come a long way, baby.

And who says TV doesn’t have the power to make or break a candidate? The polls also indicated that even voters who were leery of a female candidate still thought the media was treating Clinton far more harshly than either Obama or McCain.

Ever since Richard Nixon’s sweaty five-o’clock shadow made him look the criminal he turned out to be in the first televised presidential debate between himself and John F. Kennedy, TV has had a large (some, us included, would say too large) hand in determining who gets elected in America.

In one night, 97 million Americans voted for the two finalists in the latest season of American Idol. Conversely, in 54 contests over six months, only 36 million Americans voted for the two most exciting candidates in recent American history.

The excitement generated by the race between the first woman and first African-American to vie for the nomination for a major political party has been immense.
So too had been the interference from the TV media.

The list of people we can no longer watch/listen to has gotten longer and longer as the race drew to a close. It became increasingly difficult to be a woman and listen to the news because of the sexist vitriol. Which also meant the spew would attach to the other candidate–Obama–in the minds of voters supporting Clinton.

As it has, which does raise the question of whether the pundits are trying help Obama or hurt him.

There were the people we never liked: Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd, Peggy Noonan, Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulous. But then there were the people we had once admired, like Keith Olbermann and Terry Moran. Or the people we had no feelings about prior to the race, like ABC’s appallingly unprofessional Kate Snow, who we now might actually spit on if we saw them on the street.

All were infected with the Clinton Pathology Syndrome early on and no matter what Hillary Clinton did–winning more votes than any other candidate in primary election history to winning states they said no woman could win–she just could not get a positive spin from the TV pundits.

Conversely, Barack Obama was made by and for TV. “Discovered,” groomed and presented by Oprah, the most powerful woman in America, Obama went from unknown local to rising star in a matter of months with repeated play on Oprah’s show and appearances on shows of her powerful media friends.

We’ve seen candidates made and unmade before, of course. George Bush was media made, Al Gore, Howard Dean and John Kerry disturbingly unmade.

Who can forget the infamous “scream” that allegedly showed Dean to be a madman? ABC anchor Diane Sawyer explained one night how it had been manufactured by the media–turning down the background noise and turning up the scream–but by then it was too late.

How many times did we hear how Al Gore was “wooden” and “unlikable” while George Bush was “affable” and “easy going”? Bush managed to hold onto his affability moniker in 2004–but only because Kerry was presented as “cold” and “unfeeling.”

Now the TV pundits have their two favorites in the bag: Obama and John McCain. The pundits have turned a very blind eye to any flaws and failings in either candidate, juxtaposing them only against the contenders from their respective parties.

The question will now become, who does TV love more: McCain the maverick or Obama the rock star? Because anyone who believes the die will be cast by the voters doesn’t watch *American Idol* and hasn’t been paying attention since Iowa.

John McCain had the deadest campaign in the history of American politics six months ago. He was making his own campaign signs and carrying his own suitcases through airports for red-eye flights–on coach.

Now he’s the Republican nominee in large–LARGE–part because he has always been a media darling. *The Republican Maverick Who Can Cross the Aisle and Reject Party Politics.*

In an interview with ABC anchor Charlie Gibson on June 5th, McCain noted that he himself was surprised that the poll numbers between him and Obama were so close “given the taint on the Republican brand this year.”

Let us deconstruct that comment: TV pundits love McCain and view him as a different kind of Republican, so they ignore his gaffes and moments of utter right-wing lockstep.

Meanwhile, pundits who were masturbating over Obama for months can’t quite kick the habit of Hillary hate and have been dissing her since Obama went over the top on June 3rd.

Gracious winning isn’t a strong suit of the tube and it’s bound to hurt Obama, *not* the TV pundits.

Nor is gracious losing something the media moguls are good at. Bob Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and a staunch Clinton supporter whose dislike of Obama is comparable to the rest of the TV media’s dislike of Clinton, has been waging his own battle to force her onto the ticket.

On June 4th, Johnson, who was a black entertainment mogul and political power broker when Oprah was barely done toddling, sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus urging them to “encourage” Obama to choose Clinton as his VP. *Strongly.*

Looking back over the past six months of campaigning, we’ve seen highs and lows from both Obama and Clinton. But mostly we’ve remembered–from the candidates themselves–the moments of grace and verve and extraordinary power. There have been many of those and it’s those that we should remember. Not what Tim or George or Peggy or Keith spun out of it. We’ve seen a lot of despicable moments from these pundits–far too many to count. And the slander of Clinton as a woman and as a candidate has been unlike anything in modern American history.

Those who think the media won’t turn on their candidate, be he Obama or McCain, now that Clinton has been defeated need to think again. TV survives on blood. And blood they will have.

Remember, if it bleeds, it leads. And to us, just based on historical precedent, Obama’s blood looks fresher to us. McCain’s a veteran of the TV bloodletting. And as he noted to Gibson, “I’m the underdog in this race.”

And we know how America loves an underdog....especially one coddled by TV.

We were intrigued to hear that Michelle Obama will be a guest host on *The View* on June 18th. ABC’s daytime divas had apparently invited Mrs. Obama to be a guest this month, according to *The View* executive producer, Bill Geddie, Mrs. Obama said she didn’t want to be a guest, she wanted to be a guest *host* like Cindy McCain was in April.

“Equal time, that's hard to argue with,” Geddie said June 4th.

We were very surprised by Geddie’s comment about equal time, given that *The View* invited John McCain and Barack Obama onto the show as solo guests several times, but consistently refused the same offer to Hillary Clinton.

Apparently women can only get equal time on the show *for women* if they are *wives* of candidates, not candidates themselves.

As for why Mrs. Obama wanted to be a guest host, the reasons are clear: She’s been told in no uncertain terms by the Obama campaign to clean up her abrasive image. *Fast.*Being a guest host means Mrs. Obama will help interview guests and participate in the opening “hot topics” nattering about what’s in the news that day.

A source inside the Obama campaign told us that the guest host position will “give Michelle the opportunity to show her softer side, the side we want people to see.”
The implication there is clear: Her softer side has yet to be seen, and the Obama team wants to promote that. As our source noted, “We all remember Teresa Heinz and we don’t want to go down that road.”

Geddie, sounding like someone inside the Obama campaign himself, said the guest-host slot “Offers the chance for someone to show a more complete personality than just sitting for an interview and talking about themselves.”

Which doesn’t mean there won’t be the opportunity for more gaffes. Mrs. Obama has been cited by pundits as Obama’s greatest liability after his lack of experience.

Comments and video of Mrs. Obama were used recently in the campaign when the Tennessee Republican Party ran TV commercials questioning her patriotism and suggesting she hates white people. The video clips used of comments by Mrs. Obama in those commercials were decried by John McCain, but that just made him look fair-minded–a win-win for the Republicans with Mrs. Obama as the scapegoat.

Welcome to the world Hillary Clinton has been living in for 17 months--or years, depending on how you count.

The TV attacks in Tennessee prompted Obama to tell ABC’s Robin Roberts that political opponents should “lay off” his wife.

Good luck with that. Just because they laid off you, Senator, doesn’t mean they won’t go after the Mrs. Just ask Cindy McCain, who is still shell-shocked from her experiences in 2000 at the hands of the media and the Bush slime machine.

“We treat the wives differently than the candidates,” Geddie said. “We're tougher on the candidates than we are on the wives. We're trying to get to know them.”

Hmmm–we remember Barbara Walters telling Barack Obama he was sexy. That’s tough alright. Especially since we know Walters had an affair with another married black congressman in the 1970s. Can you say “cougar?”

Speaking of cougars and sexism and sex, on a lighter–or maybe not–note, CBS has debuted the long-awaited *Swingtown* to lead its summer lineup.

We expected the show to be steamy. And it is, especially for network. (The opening scene looked like a porn video of a rather energetic blowjob.) But more than steamy, it is disturbing. The world of suburban swingers in the 1970s seems to revolve around the sexual unhappiness of the women. Who engage in sex with other women rather repetitively and seem quite unsatisfied in their sexual relationships with their husbands.

*Swingtown* clearly depicts the bisexual playing field of the 1970s where Quaaludes and Harvey Wallbangers were the prelude to ostensibly straight couples getting to play with the genitalia of their own gender under cover of “swinging.”

It’s an intriguing look, but the subtext needs more deconstruction. Thursdays on CBS.

Several new shows debuting are also worth a look: NBC’s harrowing *Fear Itself,* proffers hour-long mini-movies by the folks who directed and produced *American Psycho,* *Freddie and Jason* and the *Saw* franchise.

These are absolutely superb shows–12 episodes throughout the summer. If you love horror (or need an antidote from the real life horrors on the evening news), this is the show. Thursdays on NBC. (Opposite *Swingtown,* so set the Tivo.)

Two reality shows well worth watching are the hilarious *I Survived a Japanese Game Show,* which premieres Tuesday, June 24th, on ABC. Possibly the best and most engaging game show *ever,* this is both fun and has contestants you can actually like.

Also on ABC is a return to *Hopkins,* a reality docudrama that takes the viewer into life at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital. This is one of the most compelling hours on TV and airs for six weeks starting June 26th on ABC. (Yes, we know–three of the only shows worth watching in exactly the same time slot each week. *Sigh.*)

Finally, in the news you aren’t seeing, because there’s an awful lot of *that* these days, sodomy is apparently back in the books in North Carolina *despite* the landmark 2003 case of *Lawrence v. Texas.*

According to TV reports in Raleigh, “Raleigh police first charged Nelson Keith Sloan, 40, of Grand Manor Court, who called them to his apartment about dawn, saying he had been attacked.

“Police later filed the same charge against Ryan Christopher Flynn, 25, of Glen Currin Drive. They also charged Flynn with simple assault for biting Sloan. And they charged him with communicating threats by telling Sloan he was going to disembowel him and show him his innards.

‘“This looks like a case of a consensual act that may have gotten out of hand,” said Raleigh police Capt. T.D. Hardy. ‘The law is still on the books. Our detectives got involved in it last night and decided this was the best thing to do. What the D.A.’s office will do with it, I don’t know.’

Sloan, however, said he was the victim of an assault. ‘I didn’t allow anything,” he said Saturday after being reached at home by phone. ‘They knew it and turned it around and arrested me. I have never been so humiliated in all my life. It’s just awful.’”

The ultimate outrage? Flynn was not charged with sexual assault.

Okay, we get it: If you are gay, you can be raped, but it will be your fault.

And the laws that apply in the rest of country do not apply in North Carolina. And who knows how many other states, which is why it’s the news you aren’t seeing.

There’s a lot of promises to be made between now and November, folks. Stay tuned.

In response to "A Dream Achieved, A Dream Denied", Keith A. Dewey writes:

No one under any circumstance should vote for a person because of their race or gender. Never! This is simply very stupid behavior. I vote for how that person will carry out my Liberal ideals and affect my life. I believe in affirmative action: First, it’s “can they do the job”; then I would choose the minority, every time. It would be great to have a woman president as a role model etc…, but not at the expense of a country.

Hillary votes to get votes. I believe that Hillary does not vote what she really believes. She voted for the Iraq war and then compounded it by voting to say the special army force of the Iranians is a terrorist group. If I, thousands more, Obama, and 150 plus Democrats in the Senate and House knew we should not invade then Hillary also knew. Her obtuse argument was “I believed GW …" When? After it was showed he lied 5 times before he even took office? That is part of the reason why I decided to support Obama. If Hillary had voted against the war she would now be the nominee.

To confirm my decision, Hillary wanted to suspend the gas tax. This was pandering and a poor idea. On top of that she cowed-towed to FOX and the likes. More pandering. Republicans voted for her, to mess things up, and have an easy target in November. Anything the Republicans vote for is suspect.

Where in all of this is a gender decision or issue. Nowhere! But here might be one. I know several woman who voted for Bush twice and put up shrines (literally) “Hillary for President...” Fanatics, as we all know, are always wrong. To argue in any way that gender is the reason for voting and nothing else matters is totally emotional and irrational. And this plays into the stereotype of the illogical, irrational, and emotional woman, as in Hillary for President because of gender.

In response to, "It’s important for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, to understand that for women and girls of every race, ethnicity and religion, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy represented the possibility of gender equality for the first time in American history," Pat Thompson writes:

When Black men could vote, mainly in the North, all women still did not have the ability to vote. There were women in Hillary's campaign who were born when women did not have the right to vote. And many who had heard that story from their mothers and grandmothers. It was just as momentous for a woman to be a serious contender, and the cries from the pundits and talking heads for her "to get out of the race" started long ago. Her 70/30 wins in many states, along with victories in California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other big states didn't seem to make much difference to the media, who had their candidate already picked. Now they will begin to tear him down.

And in response to, "Contrary to the media representation of the Clinton demographic, it was vast and diverse," Pat Thompson writes:

Yes, the Chris Matthews and company description of Clinton's demographic as poor, uneducated, old women made many people, who are not politically very interested, line up with Obama to show they were not poor, uneducated or old -- he was the coolest new thing -- sort of like American Idol. I wonder how many of them read either of his books?

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-Noah Greenberg