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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

September 1, 2008


Sexual Education - Back in the News?

"Ahhh, I think I support the president's policy,"
-John McCain, November 2007

Question: What was the above statement in reference to? Select one of the choices below:
a) Never-ending war in Iraq
b) More tax cuts for the McBush "base of haves and have mores"
c) No funding for teen pregnancy programs or sex education taught in school

Whereas any of the above answers could be true, the correct answer in this case is:
c) No funding for teen pregnancy programs or sex education taught in school

Thanks to McCain's choice as the second best person in the nation to become President, Sarah Palin, teen pregnancy is on the map again. The argument is, in part, this: Should teens be taught about ways to avoid becoming pregnant or contacting an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) or should the only policy be "Don't do it"?

Sarah Palin's pregnant seventeen-year-old daughter has become a political football that no child should have to become. But having this conversation is extremely important. The next President will be appointing federal judges and, more than likely, a number of US Supreme Court Justices. McCain has promised that his choices for those high level positions will have to meet his litmus test: Pro-Life only to meet his "values".

But it goes further than that. The new, McCain-led Republican Party looks much like the same old Bush-led Republican Party, and on the issue of sex, there is no difference at all.

Let me say this to the blind followers of no sex-ed in schools: They're still going to do it, just like Bristol Palin. They're not going to listen to their parents; they're not going to listen to their teachers; they are going to listen to their hormones and do what isn't best for them.

And as for those on the Right who rationalize that anything but vaginal intercourse goes, so have a good time, they dismiss what sex education means to the teaching of avoiding STD's.

Sarah Palin is apparently keeping her previous opinion that there is no place in public schools for sex education.

"explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,"
-Palin from a 2006 questionnaire

In other words, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Surely the daughter of a GOP Vice Presidential candidate can afford to do the time.

In 2006, McCain voted along with his fellow Republicans against funding sex ed programs aimed at curbing teen pregnancy. He did, however, endorse President Bush's abstinence-only programs and the millions of dollars sent to Religious groups, as long as they don't support abortion or women's rights.

McCain stumbles blindly behind Bush in this, as well as so many other policy issues. When asked if the government should provide contraceptives of counseling on contraceptives, his answer was an astounding:

"You've stumped me,"

And that's another part of the problem. With McCain so easily "stumped" his fall back position is whatever President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the polls of the Religious Right say. After voting 95 percent of the time with President Bush, one wonders if he even reads a bill any more or if he just calls the White House and asks, "How do you guys want me to vote on this one."

Certainly there will be no reform performed under "The-Candidate-Formerly-Known-as-the-Maverick".

As if there ever would be.

-Noah Greenberg

Learning About Candidate Palin and GOP Election "Rules"

We are all just learning about GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and, as a result of her out-of-nowhere selection by John McCain to be the one only a heartbeat away from the White House, if McCain were to win this November, Palin has a lot of unanswered questions to put a check or "X" next to, and none of these questions have to do with her daughter.

For one thing, her affiliation with the Alaskan Independence Party. The AIP, as I assumed they're known in the forty-ninth state, advocates secession from the United States and wants to put all federal lands in Alaska in the domain of their new nation. Although the McCain-Palin campaign have answered the question of how she was registered as a US citizen-voter, that particular question was never asked.

"Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, told ABC News that Palin and her husband, Todd, belonged to the party in 1994. Mark Chryson, chairman of the Independence Party from 1995 to 2002, told the network that Palin attended the party's convention in 1994. He said he was not certain if she was a party member, and party records do not date back that far."
-The associated Press

Now imagine had a Democratic candidate for the Vice Presidency had stood up to speak at a Green Party, Liberal Party or (Heaven forbid!) a Socialist Party convention sometime in the last century or so. The questions would have come hard and fast and non-stop from the likes of Fox News, Karl Rove and any number of Rightie talking heads about that candidate's patriotism.

Certainly the fact (and yes, it is a "fact") that Governor Palin not only attended the AIP's 1994 convention, but was a speaker at it makes one wonder as to where her loyalties lie.

"Your party plays an important role in our state's politics. I've always said that competition is so good, and that applies to political parties as well."
-Palin, at the 1994 convention via video from the AIP web site

Perhaps it was only pandering - something that the GOP are known to do towards vulnerable groups looking for a champion - that had Palin speak at the convention, but one has to question her intentions and whether or not she advocated (as I'm sure she no longer would admit to today) the removal of Alaska as a State in these United States.

The McCain campaign is up in arms about the revelations from the candidate they say they had vetted and knew everything about. But certainly, this one had to have been missed.

"I think people's families are off limits and people's children are especially off limits,"
-Barack Obama in response to innuendo and rumors about Bristol Palin

But is that always so? In modern day presidential politics it has not been the case, and it usually came from Right to Left. In 1972 it happened to Senator Edmund Muskie (D-NH) and the "Canuck letter" and the attack on his wife by a Nixon-supportive newspaper in New Hampshire, the Manchester Union-Leader. The Nixon-Watergate "Dirty Tricks" department was in charge of that one. Next came George McGovern's choice of Senator Tom Eagleton (D-MO) as his running mate. It turned out that Eagleton had checked himself in for psychiatric care from 1960-1966 three times. Had Eagleton not withdrew, he would have been the only candidate with a certificate that proved his sanity.

Moe recently, the Bush-Rove-Cheney dirty tricks campaign slurred the name of none other than John McCain during the 2000 GOP primary season. McCain, through what could best be called "agents" of the Bush campaign, called McCain the Manchurian Candidate , referring to his time in a North Vietnamese POW camp and brain-washing; called his adopted daughter a bastard black child he had fathered with an African-American prostitute; and called his second wife Cindy a drug and alcohol abuser. It get Bush over the hump in Sough Carolina and occurred after the two men promised each other not to perform any dirty tricks.

Then there was the attacks on Al Gore's war record. Gore, the son of a US senator, actually went to Viet Nam while his opponent, George W. Bush stayed at home and "flew" in the Alabama Air National Guard, a unit without any airplanes.

In the 2004 election, it was Bush and the NeoCons who let loose on Senator John Kerry's Viet Nam record. The "Swift-Boating" of Kerry made his stellar record as a Swift Boat River Captain appear to those who listened believe that Kerry - the man who actually served and won numerous purple hearts, two bronze stars and one silver star for his heroism in saving a fellow officer - was a coward. And if that weren't enough, the non-stop ridicule of his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, the former wife of moderate Republican Senator John Heinz - was over the top.

And need we talk about what the GOP did to Candidate, then President Bill Clinton's wife Hillary? Surely we remember the calls from such NeoCon radio hosts as Rush Limbaugh calling Mrs. Clinton a "Feminazi"; and you must remember the cries about Mrs. Clinton's statement about not wanting to stay home and bake cookies.

How many cookies does Governor Palin bake anyway? The mother is on the road with a four month old baby at home with Down's Syndrome. Take it from one who knows: Handicapped children need their parents around.

In our current election cycle we have heard from the Right that Senator Obama wasn't born in America; that he attended a Muslim Madras as a boy; and the constant mentioning of his middle name "Hussein" as a sort of curse. And if that were not enough, the voices of the Republican Party have been calling his wife "unpatriotic; calling her "Obama's babies' Momma"; have wished the pair of them dead because it would be "easier"; and called a nice moment between the candidate and his wife "a terrorist fist-bump."

As the Republican National Convention keeps dragging along, we're sure to hear how bad the Democrats are. And as the campaign for the White House moves closer and closer to its November 4th date with history, the attacks on Senator Obama's race; the attacks on Michelle Obama as un-American; and even Joe Biden's children family will get worse and worse. Sure, they won't come from John McCain himself, but they will come.

Certainly the GOP should make the rules they wish for all to follow. Their definition by the Party of Diminished Responsibility will allow them the opportunities to break and re-write them as they go along.

-Noah Greenberg

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

Ah fall–when we are finally rewarded for the long hot summer of our TV discontent with shows that augur excitement–or at least enticement–and which aren’t all reality, reality, reality (which is never quite real, anyway).

This fall’s premiere will be even more anticipated because last season was truncated by the months’ long writer’s strike.

We await the return of our favorites and anticipate the new shows. TV is busting out all over in the next few days and weeks.

Of course the election will continue to dominate through October, and with that in mind another new show is worth a look. Rachel Maddow, longtime guest host on MSNBC’s *Countdown*with Keith Olbermann will have her own (as yet to be named) show starting September 8th–the same day the new season of *Ellen* debuts on NBC, making for a nice lesbian sister act. (Maddow also has her own radio show on Air America.)

This is great news for several reasons. First, Maddow is smart and savvy and does a great deconstruction of what’s happening in the political arena. Second, Maddow is the first out lesbian to have such a show in TV history (and she even *looks* like a dyke, which is a nice change from *The L World* view of real lesbians). Third, as liberal pundit Glenn Greenwald notes “The New Republic–of all places--laments the loss of ‘nuance or intellectual rigor’ on television as epitomized by MSNBC's troubling decision to give an actual liberal her own show.”

Oh my! Because there aren’t any shows with *conservatives* hosting them? Or because Maddow’s a *woman* and a *lesbian*? It would take a lot more Rachel Maddows to balance the conservative/liberal *imbalance* on the nightly talk circuit, *we* think.

So we’re excited about Maddow. (If you missed Maddow talking about her new show on *Countdown,* it’s definitely worth watching. She’s pretty excited, too.)
We’re also all anticipatory about how the pundits are going to cover John McCain’s running mate, the super-talented Sarah Palin. (Yes, we *can* appreciate the talents of the right, even though they can’t appreciate the talents on our side. And no, we are *not* unbiased. We lean way to the left and are proud of it.)

TV pundits were batting a big zero–as was late night’s Jimmy Kimmel, who was the first to Photoshop Palin naked–in the opening days. Latching on to the “beauty queen” label and ignoring her 16 years in elected office, journalism degrees and career, TV pundits decided to go with what had worked *so* well for them with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy–blatant sexism.

Seems like TV news doesn’t have much of a learning curve. We can’t have Rachel Maddow host her own show and (*Governor*) Sarah Palin belongs naked on a moose? What year is this, again?


What year it *isn’t* is the year of queer TV. *Surprise!* But there are a smattering of queer characters on some of the new and returning shows. Some are worth watching, some not. We’ll tell you the ones that are.

We urge everyone to watch shows that are spectacularly good, whether they have queer characters or not, like Showtime’s *Dexter.* Dexter isn’t gay. He’s also not straight. He’s a serial killer. And we really, really love him.

Two shows new to last season that are very queer friendly and got clipped by the writer’s strike are ABC’s *Dirty Sexy Money* which returns on October 1st adding lesbian heart-throb Lucy Lu to the cast and *Pushing Daisies,* which returns the same night, same network, with Kristen Chenoweth hot off her Emmy nod.

*DSM* is high-toned, high-drama, prime time soap and leaves *Gossip Girl* in the teen queen dust. (Although *GG*–on the CW for those of you who have been off the planet–*does* have a gay character in Eric van der Woodsen, played twinkily by Connor Paolo. Eric came out at the tail end of last season and this season promises to have him find his own boyfriend. And maybe get fag-bashed for good measure.)

*DSM* features the only actual MTF playing an MTF on network, Candis Cayne, who is the mistress of Patrick, the politician of the Darling family (played by William Baldwin). There’s lots of sex scenes, which is waaaay over the top for prime time. Plus the show is just great, great fun and Donald Sutherland has never been more complex nor Blair Underwood sexier.

*Pushing Daisies* isn’t queer per se–except in sensibility. The gorgeous, super-saturated color and the fantasy sequences and Kristen Chenoweth and Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene all conspire to make it a queen’s delight. Every night is Tony night on this show with these three Broadway alums.

We *love* this show and you will, too.

Speaking of shows we love–even if they are guilty pleasures–*Grey’s Anatomy* ended last season with a Sapphic kiss between the recently divorced (by the show’s *actual* gay actor, T.R. Knight) Callie and boss Erica. Expect to see this lesbian/bisexual twosome flourish over the new season which has it’s two-hour premiere on September 25th.

We also have a guilty hankering for Fox’s *Bones,* a holdover from our *Buffy* crush of years past, David Boreanaz being a vampire of anyone’s dreams. He’s an FBI guy now, but will always be Angel to us.

Angela (Michaela Conlin), one of the sexy forensics team on *Bones* has a past. We all knew that. But it seems her past includes an ex-girlfriend. Hmmm. Now we know why Angela never could quite get her act together with men.

ABC’s Emmy-winning *Sisters&Brothers* returns September 28th, replete with queer storyline. Scotty (Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane, who came out himself last season) and Kevin (Matthew Rhys) got married last season after many ups and downs (like the entire clan) in their relationship.

Can a gay marriage last longer than a straight one on the tube? That will be one of the challenges for Scotty and Kevin this season.

It’s the final season of *ER* on NBC. *ER* has taken many a twist and turn over the years and has regularly featured queer storylines and this final season will likely see some of that as well. For the finale, NBC has hired a very big gun for the cast–Oscar-nominated Angela Bassett. Reason alone to tune in.

Meanwhile, over on the reality side, CBS debuts *Survivor: Gabon.* The perennial favorite in the reality category often has gay players and this season is no exception. Watch *Survivor* (in exquisite Gabon–could Africa be more beautiful?) for Charlie Herschel, a gay New York lawyer who is a marathon runner when he’s not trying cases.

Herschel is 29 and very cute, so expect to see him sans shirt throughout the season. *Survivor* has had two other queer winners, so the odds aren’t bad for Charlie if he learns the ropes. *Survivor* has its two-hour opener on September 25th.

Among the new shows this season, there’s plenty to check out, notably queer writer/producer/director (*American Beauty,* *Six Feet Under*) Alan Ball’s new series on HBO, *True Blood,* which debuts Sunday September 7th.

We love the ultra-talented Ball and we love what we’ve previewed of *True Blood,* which has another gay character of color (there seem to be more queers of color this season than ever before–Conlin, Sarah Ramirez on *Grey’s*) in Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsen Ellis). Lafayette plays to the show’s lead, Oscar-winner Anna Pacquin’s Sookie.

Lafayette is a queen of all trades–he sells blood (vampire blood), runs a porn site and is a queer escort. Sometimes he’s butch, sometimes he femme. But he’s always gay, which makes for a change.

Paris Barclay was long the only black queer on the other side of the camera on the tube. He directed myriad episodes of the Emmy-winning *NYPD Blue* and was responsible for getting gay characters into the show. Most recently he was executive producer on HBO’s popular *In Treatment,* where he brought Blair Underwood’s character out of the closet.

Barclay, who started out as an actor, has been everywhere and done all of that--directing and producing on network and cable. Now he has a new show of his own on BBC America.

*Skins* debuted on Britain’s Channel 4, known for excellent showcasing of edgy stuff. (We wrote ecstatically about *Clapham Junction* here a few weeks back.) The show has been edited for palatability to American audiences (read: the sex has been cut down dramatically because we are such prudes), but it is still superb.

For those addicted to *The Hills* and *Gossip Girl,* *Skins* is oh-so-much smarter. And it has Maxxie, a gay boy in this teen-driven drama. Maxxie has a lot of issues. The show has a lot of sex. And *Skins* covers the waterfront of teen angst, from eating disorders to sexual identity. The show debuted during the Olympics (stupidly) but airs Sundays on BBC America. (Oh and it has subtitles when necessary, even though the Brits think *we’re* the ones who distorted the language.)
A few more new shows to ponder: *Raising the Bar* on TNT, *Fringe* on Fox, *The Eleventh Hour* and *The Mentalist* on CBS.

*The Eleventh Hour* is superb. Starring Rufus Sewell (late of *John Adams*) as the brooding and brilliant Dr. Hood and Marley Shelton (the babe from *Grindhouse*) as the bionic woman. This show is one of those remakes of a British drama–except it works, unlike *The Office.* Premiering after *CSI,* it will hook you right from the first episode. A definite must.

*Fringe* has a similar theme–science gone awry. It debuts in a two-hour opener on September 9th. Created by JJ Abrams, who created the best show on network, *Lost,* as well as *Alias* and *Felicity,* *Fringe* is a sure-fire sci-fi hit.

We’re excited already at the prospect of all these new shows! We can’t help it–we *love* TV. Stay tuned–there’s more to come.

In response to, "Yet the question cannot be ignored: Why are the numbers so close? Statistically, Obama has gotten more than 80 percent of all news coverage to McCain’s paltry 54 percent. As veteran reporter Daniel Shore noted when Obama was in Germany, 'Obama’s news. McCain isn’t,'" Anonymous writes:

Perhaps you haven't seen the latest polls. Obama has gained many points in several important polls. I won't list them all here, but some include women who previously said they wouldn't vote for him.

Note: A recent study (I believe it was on CNN) showed that Senator Obama is shown more on the cable news channels and other media than John McCain by a wo-to-one margin. That same study showed that the bad Obama news overshadowed the good Obama news by a 74-to-26 percent margin.

Be careful what you wish for. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg