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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

June 26, 2008


Karl Rove Comments on Senator Obama

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone."
-Karl Rove on Barack Obama, off the record (wink-wink, nod, nod)

The guy at the country club, huh Karl? I sincerely doubt that Senator Barack Obama would be in the same country club as you. I'm not saying that he wouldn't want to join, just that any club which you belong to probably wouldn't allow Senator Obama in That is, of course, unless it was through the back door to make a delivery or through the kitchen.

-Noah Greenberg

BOOM! and a Photo-Op

Certainly, it's a gesture. But in true Bush administration form, it's a gesture that's probably a little to little and comes a lot too late. North Korea has issued a declaration "detailing" its nuclear weapons programs. The declaration was released to their neighbor China, which leads the six nation conference on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

There's just one tiny, little problem with the Axis of Evil founding member's declaration - it doesn't say much of anything.

The big gesture of the declaration is the blowing up of a water cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear complex tomorrow.

After missing the declaration deadline set for last year, North Korea, the other five nations and America haggled over what would be included and what would be excluded in this year's version. With the US declaring that Kim Jung Il's nation's declaration should be "complete and correct", taken along with the time delay and the ultimate capitulation from North Korea, one would think that everything would be both hunky and dory.

It isn't. And to prove how much it isn't, the White House's web site thought it was the fourth most important item of the day. Here are the headlines:
1- President Bush Attends Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives' National Conference
2- President Bush Discusses Legislative Agenda
3- President Bush Attends National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast
4- President Bush Discusses North Korea

North Korea's declaration, and the ensuing demolition of a water cooling tower, is nothing more than a measure to appease its critics and gain economic satisfaction. With this gesture, President Bush is going to recommend the lifting of sanctions against Il and his government. For those of you not paying attention, after all of the howling and threats and fist-shaking the Bush administration had thrown Il's way, the sanctions are really all we had actually done.

"The declaration was not expected to include details of the North's alleged attempts to enrich uranium — the dispute that sparked the nuclear standoff in late 2002. The list also will not describe how the North allegedly helped Syria build a nuclear plant."
-The Associated Press

Now you get it, right? This declaration, and its acceptance by the Bush administration will not be the "complete and correct" version which the Bushies have insisted upon since day one. In their rush to declare North Korea a member of the Axis of Evil, President Bush had taken a hard line against Communist China's neighbor to the southeast. Had Kim Jung Il been sitting on a bunch of oil (bunch?); and had North Korea been sitting anywhere other than on the border of China, Il's fate would have been that of Saddam Hussein's.

So why allow North Korea a way out of their doghouse? Today - on Thursday, not a Friday afternoon - President Bush will tell us all how his plan to control North Korea has worked. He'll do so from the rose garden at the White House. Consider it fertilizer. And although nothing has really changed, other than a tower being blown up, he'll take his photo-op shots, take a few, well-scripted questions from friendly reporters from such news organizations as Fox News and be on his way with the accolades he surely will be accepting from the Right-Wing media.

And watch for a John McCain-McBush sighting as well. Surely he will be somewhere near for a few shots of his own.

There will be no questions asked of North Korea about how many nuclear weapons, technology and other information has gone elsewhere. The Syria and Iranian questions, in relation to North Korea's nukes, will not be answered.

But the real goal will be achieved - President Bush will have his photo-op.

-Noah Greenberg

McBush's Health Care Plan - Legacy and a Continuing Nightmare

So Madman, how's this for progress on health care. From The Center for Studying Health System Change

Falling Behind: Americans' Access to Medical Care Deteriorates, 2003-2007

The number and proportion of Americans reporting going without or delaying needed medical care increased sharply between 2003 and 2007, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) nationally representative 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey. One in five Americans-59 million people-reported not getting or delaying needed medical care in 2007, up from one in seven-36 million people-in 2003. While access deteriorated for both insured and uninsured people, insured people experienced a larger relative increase in access problems compared with uninsured people.


With McCain, health care plan that number will easily swell to 3 out of 5 Americans (maybe worst). McCain's plan will simply lead to companies dropping their group plans. Individual plans will be way too expensive. Obama's health care plan is not exactly universal, though in principle anyone without coverage can buy into it at a lower than normal price, but it's a start in the right direction after decades of neglect.

-Robert Scardapane

Telling the Truth - Kucinich-Style

Dennis Kucinich is a man who speaks the truth. I can not improve on this so I will quote verbatim and hope Madman prints it:


"In March of 2001, when the Bush Administration began to have secret meetings with oil company executives from Exxon, Shell and BP, spreading maps of Iraq oil fields before them, the price of oil was $23.96 per barrel. Then there were 63 companies in 30 countries, other than the US, competing for oil contracts with Iraq.

"Today the price of oil is $135.59 per barrel, the US Army is occupying Iraq and the first Iraq oil contracts will go, without competitive bidding to, surprise, (among a very few others) Exxon, Shell and BP.

"Iraq has between 200 - 300 billion barrels of oil with a market value in the tens of trillions of dollars. And our government is trying to force Iraq not only to privatize its oil, but to accept a long-term US military presence to guard the oil and protect the profits of the oil companies while Americans pay between $4 and $5 a gallon for gas, while our troops continue dying.

"We attacked a nation that did not attack us. Over 4000 of our troops are dead. Over 1,000,000 innocent Iraqis have perished. The war will cost US taxpayers between $2 - $3 trillion dollars. Our nation's soul is stained because we went to war for the oil companies and their profits. There must be accountability not only with this Administration for its secret meetings and its open illegal warfare but also for the oil company executives who were willing participants in a criminal enterprise of illegal war, the deaths of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis and the extortion of the national resources of Iraq.

"We have found the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. It is oil. As long as the oil companies control our government Americans will continue to pay and pay, with our lives, our fortunes our sacred honor," he concluded.

-Robert Scardapane

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

One thing we’ve learned from TV (and Jean-Baptiste Karr) is *plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose.*

Two weeks ago we were kvetching about the shoddy, sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton on the tube. This week the hatchets are still out for Clinton–inexplicably as she’s no longer running–but they’ve also come out for Michelle Obama.

Now we admit, we are not among Mrs. Obama’s fan base, *however,* we do have a commitment to fairness, and sexism against one woman is sexism against *all* women.

Would that the networks would get that not-rocket-science-boys concept.

We understand that Fox news is neither really news nor in touch with the hip or the happening, which *could* explain two extreme fauxes pas in a row. One made reference to the Obamas’ fist bump on the night Barack Obama declared he was the Democratic nominee as a “terrorist fist jab” and the other referred to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s baby mama.”

Now if we were Sharon Stone, we might call this karmic payback for the way the Obama campaign treated Clinton, but we aren’t, so we won’t.

What we will say is this: The constant right wing news references to Obama as a terrorist just don’t fly. As Dieter used to say on *SNL,* “Your story has become tiresome.”

The other insult is more appalling. “Baby mama” is a derogatory term. “Baby mama” means a woman who’s had a baby with a man she’s neither married to nor really involved with. A man who has used her and tossed her. In fact “baby mama” implies the woman is both a whore and a vessel. It is also most commonly used about black women.

Like her or not, Michelle Obama is no baby mama. The insult–with its combination of sexism and racism in equal measure–is incredibly low even for Fox.

Michelle Obama did not overtly address the Fox controversy when she guest-hosted on *The View* June 18th, although she did give each of the women a fist bump. Not mentioning the Fox mess was to Mrs. Obama’s credit, but not to the credit of the women of *The View,* who managed to make her appearance positively dreary with their collective vapidity.

The Obama campaign had hoped Mrs. Obama’s appearance on the popular daytime talk show would help rehabilitate her image as a harridan. Mrs. Obama presented well, and made no gaffes, as the women of *The View* didn’t ask a single difficult question, except perhaps how she keeps her upper arms so fit to show off her sleeveless dresses.

Mrs. Obama did volunteer some of her own commentary on the primary process, including to note that “yes, there was sexism in the coverage” and the campaign. Mrs. Obama asserted that “it’s hurtful and painful” what Hillary Clinton went through, but that, as Clinton herself had said, “she put 18 million cracks in that [glass] ceiling and we have to keep pushing it and pushing it. She’s (Clinton’s) taken the hits so that my girls won’t have to take them as badly.”

When Barbara Walters pressed her on whether Hillary Clinton would be her husband’s VP choice, however, Mrs. Obama was unequivocally equivocating. “A nominee earns the right to pick a running mate who reflects their vision of running the country,” she said. “I’m just glad I will have nothing to do with it [the choice of VP].”

The 5'11" Mrs. Obama also said “It’s fun to look pretty.” Which prompted Whoopi Goldberg to assert, “I like seeing you on TV because whenever we see black women on the news they have no teeth or they have gold around them and they can’t speak a sentence. So thank you.”

We’re pretty sure there are a lot of African-American women who might protest that assessment of *all* black women who make the news, but at least we know Whoopi wasn’t pulling a Fox.

Speaking of Fox, without even trying, Mrs. Obama seemed to quell any further discourse on whether or not her husband is a Muslim. In a segment on breakfast (we *told* you it wasn’t hard-hitting), Mrs. Obama admitted that the Obama household has a breakfast of bacon, toast, fruit and pomegranate juice.

Yes, *bacon.* And when the nutritionist suggested Canadian bacon or turkey bacon, Mrs. Obama made a little “ew” sound, like a true non-Muslim carnivore.

Take that, Fox.

The disappointing truth is, despite the pre-show hype, the gloves were *on.* Anyone hoping to see the right wing Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Michelle Obama go at it a la Elisabeth and Rosie, was sorely disappointed.

Speaking of disappointed, we hate to be the bearer of bad news–or merely *news*–but shocking as the sudden death of NBC’s Tim Russert was, Russert was *not* the reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow.

We understand that Americans suffer from collective amnesia on a regular basis, which is actually how John McCain got to be the Republican nominee for president. But while everyone is giving their tearful eulogies to Russert, we would like to remind you of who he really was: a collaborationist with the Bush Administration in the war on Iraq.

Yes, we said it.

Russert was a collaborationist.

Now this wasn’t *always* the case, but it certainly has been since he had his brain transplant right around the mid-point of the Clinton Administration when he started to believe Ken Starr was God and Bill Clinton was the anti-Christ.

There once was a time when the *Meet the Press* host was indeed a hard-hitting questioner of the status quo in Washington, but that was many years ago. Not as far back as when he was Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s chief of staff, but definitely back around the same time we last had peace and prosperity–the Clinton years.

There was no mention in any of the teary-eyed eulogies, for example, of Russert’s involvement in the Plame case and Scooter Libby trial. Nor was there mention of how Russert never once held Dick Cheney or the other orchestrators of the Iraq war accountable, despite their numerous appearances on *Meet the Press.* Dick Cheney made his famous “we’ll be greeted as liberators” speech on *Meet the Press* to Russert. Russert never demanded a retraction on subsequent appearances.

Yet when Hillary Clinton was first running for president, Russert asked *her* on *Meet the Press* if she wanted to apologize to the American people.

For what? Being cheated on by her husband? How about asking for an apology from any member of the Bush cohort, instead of asking how much more boot scraping could be done?

We don’t like to speak ill of the dead–really, we don’t–but while we know Russert did many good things, like mentoring inner-city kids, he slacked off on his real job for years. That job was to speak truth to power, not to be the oracle through which power spoke–and lied–to the audience, the American people. *Time* called Russert one of the 100 most influential people in the *world* in 2008.

Russert had the opportunity and the journalistic acumen and obvious power to take every member of the Bush Administration to task for creating seven of the worst years in American history. He never did. A gazillion eulogies to the contrary will not change that reality. Tim Russert kissed the asses of the Bush team for seven years with alacrity.

Tim Russert’s death was indeed tragic for his family. But it was not a national or even a Washington tragedy.

A national tragedy is Iowa underwater, thousands of people displaced, millions of acres of farmland destroyed and the President who Russert bolstered every chance he got ignoring all of it for over a week. Bush had time to comment on Russert’s death during his European farewell tour, but left Iowa for his return.

Tragedy is more than 4,000 Americans and countless Iraqis killed in an utterly senseless and never-ending war that Russert never challenged beyond mumbling lip service.

And the worst tragedy? That Chris Matthews is the most likely replacement for Russert. That’s enough to make everyone cry.

Speaking of tears and Iraq, ABC’s Brian Ross revealed yet another horror story of the Bush Administration on June 18th. Mentally “distressed” veterans of the Iraq war have been being used to test drugs that have been found to cause violent side effects, including suicide. It’s a stunning and disturbing story. Kudos to Ross for continuing to air the dirty laundry of the Bush Administration regarding the war and veterans. To see the story, go to ABCnews.com, click on *Good Morning America* and Brian Ross’s report: “Disposable Heroes.”

Speaking of heroes–Ellen DeGeneres is one of ours. We consistently love her audacious refusal to slink back into the closet and her forthrightness on queer issues on her show. So of course we were thrilled to see her garner another daytime Emmy for best talk show host, which she is. She has out-Oprahed Oprah this season and we salute her. (Plus, we loved seeing her kiss Portia.)

Alas, Van Hansis, who presented Ellen with the award along with Jake Silberman, his co-star in the only queer relationship on daytime, did *not* win in the category of Outstanding Younger Actor. We were as shocked as he seemed to be. He was unable to put on the immediate fake happy face when the award was announced and he was not the winner. We were deeply disappointed, but still glad his ground-breaking role and superb execution won him a nomination.

Speaking of adorable guys, as *People* magazine’s Hottest Bachelor, the extremely adorable and stupendously sexy Mario Lopez is stripped down much further than he ever got on *Dancing with the Stars* or *The Bold and the Beautiful.* Sizzling photos of him posed to mimic Burt Reynolds’ famous nude spread in *Playgirl,* or Brad Pitt’s shirtless scene in *Thelma and Louise* or Marky Mark in the infamous Calvin Klein ad, appeared in *People* and were debuted on every tabloid TV show. If you missed them on *ET,* Insider, *Extra* or *Access Hollywood,* check them out at zimbio.com. He’s *so* much hotter than the guys he’s reprising. The dimpled cutie with the super-duper six pack and the rock hard buns from *Extra* is by far the sexiest pin up since James Dean. The package in the Marky Mark simulation and the pixilation in the Burt Reynolds’ one will be the stuff of many a...dream.

Speaking of dreams, we were thrilled to see George Takei, aka Mr. Sulu of *Star Trek* fame, achieving his by applying for a marriage license to marry his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman. A September wedding is planned by the couple.

Finally, we have never been happier to see the shorts beaten off anyone the way we were to see the Lakers trounced by the Celtics in the NBA championship. It’s been over a quarter century since the Celtics won the NBA title. They played stupendously this season, the finals were great and besides, we just hate the arrogance of both the Lakers and Phil Jackson and sometimes you just like to see the asses of asses get kicked.

Stay tuned–because although it’s a long way away, in November *someone* will finally be kicking George Bush’s ass the way the Celtics did the Lakers. And that’s a TV moment we cannot wait to see.

In response to Big Oil's windfall, Ginger writes:

The benefits for the oil companies never cease. After 19 years of fighting, Exxon got the Supreme Court, that bastion of impartiality, to reduce the $5 billion judgment in favor of people and industries, to say nothing of marine life and the environment, affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill to 1/10th that amount, or $500 million, saying that was "enough." Nothing must interfere with their record profits and those executives' bonuses.

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-Noah Greenberg