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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

November 24, 2008


Screw 'em

Citigroup is going to lay off (a nice way to say "fire") some 50,000 of their employees. After making bad decision after bad decision centered around - you guessed it - the mortgage crisis, the banking giant has said that they're going to lay off approximately 13.6 percent of their workforce to stem the tide of their possible demise. (Say it out loud. It almost rhymes!)

Can there be any doubt that the 50,000 jobs Citigroup sys it will cut is just the beginning? After all, if they promise a 13.6 percent job cut, what's to stop them from cutting another five, ten or 13.6 percent on top of it?

We all know that this cutting isn't going to be coming off the top. CEO Vikram S. Pandit isn't going to drop his miniscule (by comparison) salary of $250,000 per year. And certainly Lewis B Kaden, Esq., the Vice Chairman of the Business Heads Committee isn't going to give up his $4.5 million per year salary either.

I wonder what CFO Gary L. Crittenden, the main money guy at the money giant now in near-collapse, is going to do with his $14.43 million per year salary? Perhaps he'll give some of it back. After all, $14.43 million will allow some 300-350 lower level, middle class employees to keep their jobs. What will Kaden, Pandit, Stephen R. Volk (another Vice Chairman earning $1.51 million per year) and Crittenden give up?

The federal government is authorizing a $20 billion loan to keep Citigroup in business. They're also (or should I say "We're also")? going to back some $306 billion in bad loans made, or bad debt bought by Citigroup.

If your deadbeat cousin wanted you to cosign for a loan to buy a Masserati, would you sign it? Citigroup is our deadbeat cousin and I think we shouldn't give into them.

What makes Citigroup's own circumstances different from the original banking bill is this: Citigroup is going to shed jobs at a time when we need them to keep people employed. It appears that no one at the top of their company is going to take a hit while everyone at the bottom is.

And while Ford, GM and Chrysler CEO's may have the same mindset as the Citigroup big wigs, the result of bailing out the three big US auto makers will keep those at the bottom still employed, even if some concessions are made.

The unionized US auto industry has labor leaders and UAW officials who will work to make sure that the big three US auto makers keep up to their promises as best they can. Who will fight for Citigroup's employees?

No one, it appears.

(By the way, isn't it funny how a phone call from the Citigroup head honchos to the Bush administration gets them $20 billion (plus another $306 billion to back it up) without so much as an eyelash bat or a head turn while the US auto industry, which employs multiple times more Americans than Citigroup gets put on the back burner? One has to wonder if the relationship with labor unions in the auto industry has anything to do with that.)

Since the only reason I see to bail out any company comes in the form of keeping middle class jobs from being lost; and since Citigroup has already said that they're going to lay off such a large part of their work force, I say let them go down.

Rather than save a company which cares nothing for its employees, allow them to sell off their better assets and close their doors. The parts of the company which make money will still stay in business as they will be purchased and their employees, for the most part, will have to be kept on the payroll. The rest of the company will have to go and we won't have to shell out up to $326 billion.

-Noah Greenberg

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

Sweeps month always leaves us breathless, this November even more so than in past sweeps. Every time we turn on the tube it’s a new excitement.

If you missed last week’s *60 Minutes* interview with President-elect (we just love writing that; it begins to mitigate the past eight years) Obama, check it out at CBSnews.com.

As satirist Andy Borowitz joked about the “60 Minutes” interview, “Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ on Sunday witnessed the President-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth. “But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.”

Funny, and yet, so true.

Will late night comedians and satirists be able to find jokes to tell about the incoming administration? Our suggestion is that they just go on lampooning Bush for the next four years. You know, the way they did with Bill Clinton for the first four years of the Bush Administration.

Yes, it *is* difficult to let go of the bitterness the past eight years have left us with. Could be the war(s), could be the economy.

Or it could be the sheer dailiness of Republican idiocy that we are still being force-fed via the tube.

Remember Mike Huckabee? Everybody’s favorite evangelical presidential candidate? So likable that it almost made you forget that he doesn’t believe in evolution and mentions abortion and the Second Amendment in almost every sentence?

Yes, *that* Mike Huckabee was on ABC’s “The View” on Nov.18.

“The View” has become daytime TV’s repository for lunatic political commentary, the majority of it coming from the not-so-bright co-hosts themselves, one of whom, African-American comedian Sherri Shepherd, doesn’t believe in evolution and remains unconvinced that the world isn’t flat. (It’s well worth watching her discuss this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNC117UYsHs )

Yes, Barbara Walters’ dream child has turned into a bit of a hydra. And if you are going to act like lunatics, you are likely to attract other lunatics. Which is what happened with Huckabee. Apparently queers haven’t been beaten up enough to suit the former Arkansas governor’s definition of civil rights.

Huckabee told the rapt women of “The View,” “People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that’s not really the issue.... When we’re talking about a redefinition of an institution, that’s different than individual civil rights. We’re never going to convince each other...But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.”

Okay–so homosexuals should have every right but marriage?

And there hasn’t been enough queer skull-crushing to suit Huckabee? Gee–Harvey Milk got shot to death in San Francisco by a straight former colleague, Dan White. Matthew Shepard had *his* skull cracked 18 times and was left in a crucifixion pose on a fence in Caspar, Wyoming, and unlike the esteemed and respected Rep. Lewis, did not live to fight another day, but died.

Huckabee isn’t the only one mouthing this insulting nonsense that attempts to pit the civil rights of blacks against the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, as if they are mutually exclusive.

CNN and Washington Times pundit, Tara Wall, was pushing the same obtuse commentary. Wall, that anomalous contradiction, a black conservative, insisted on CNN that no one can claim that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue because “blacks were stoned, hung, and dragged for their constitutional right to sit at the table.”

Wall needs to brush up on her history as well. Unfortunately, lesbian and gay Americans have faced the same kind of violence as black Americans and same-sex marriage is part of sitting at the table.

It’s just that the violence against lesbians and gay men hasn’t, as her comments and Huckabee’s underscore, been taken seriously.

Memo to Huckabee and Wall: Ignorance may be bliss south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but when politicians and pundits show their historical ignorance on national TV, it tends to make people think they are, well, ignorant.

We suggest a viewing of the new film, “Milk,” starring Sean Penn. But please, don’t see it in a theatre owned by Cinemark.

We also suggest reviewing the statistics from the Department of Justice which show that hate crimes against lesbians and gay men are on the rise while all other hate crimes are on the decline.

The FBI reports that in 2007, sexual orientation was the reason for 17 percent of all hate crimes.

Civil rights is an antidote to hate crimes. Someone on “The View” or CNN should have told Huckabee and Wall this. But then that would require knowledge of the issues, wouldn’t it, rather than just non-stop babbling?

Speaking of “The View” and babbling, it seems the feud is back on between Barbara Walters and her lesbian nemesis, Rosie O’Donnell. Walters took a special time out on the Nov. 20 show to denounce Rosie, whose new variety show on NBC starts Nov. 26.

Walters seems to feel O’Donnell is using “The View” to further her career. But as O’Donnell noted on “Conan O’Brien” on Nov. 21, she had a career before “The View,” which is why Walters chose her to be on the show. One can hardly claim that the show has ceased to be a scream-fest since Rosie left. The screamers are merely different.

Speaking of protests, this week’s news you are not seeing includes the Prop 8 protests. While protests in California might still be carried on local news, on the national news the issue is so last-week’s news cycle. There was absolutely no national network news coverage of the nationwide protests held on Nov. 15 nor of any subsequent protests.

But Prop 8 protests aren’t the only issue constituting news you aren’t seeing.

On Nov. 20, five Algerians were ordered released from Guantanamo by federal judge Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington. Leon said the men had been held illegally. They were incarcerated in 2001.

The Algerians had a week-long series of hearings which were closed to the public, as was the evidence presented. In his ruling, Judge Leon said the information gathered on the men had been sufficient for intelligence purposes but not for the court.

So where was the massive TV news coverage of such a monumental ruling which calls into question all the Bush Administration’s current detentions at Gitmo? (Obama pledged in his “60 Minutes” interview that he would close Guantanamo.)

It’s the news you’re not seeing. In fact, the networks have so ignored this news, you’d almost think there was no more war on terror, let alone wars being carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan and along the border of Pakistan.

One place the face of the war in Iraq can be seen is in a ground-breaking story on “All My Children,” has taken on sweeps month with a vengeance.

The show’s year-long Iraq war-vet storyline reached a new level of intensity last week when “AMC” introduced a real Iraq war veteran, JR Martinez to play Brot Monroe, the former fiancé of Lt. Taylor Thompson (Beth Ehlers).

Like the character he plays, Martinez was severely wounded in Iraq. Martinez’ Humvee hit a landmine in 2003. He suffered third- and fourth-degree burns and has had 32 operations since he was injured and spent 34 months in the hospital.

Martinez is not an actor, but he has been phenomenal in the role. For once viewers are not going to see miracle surgery where someone who’s been grotesquely injured is suddenly exactly the way they were before.

It is a testament to Martinez’ acting ability that his injuries, which include severe facial burns, cease to stun almost immediately. “AMC” is to be commended for stepping so far outside the box to cast Martinez. The move is reminiscent of the casting of real-life amputee and non-actor Harold Russell as Homer Parrish in the 1946 William Wyler classic about WWII vets, “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

“AMC” is also in the middle of another ground-breaking storyline. Bianca (Eden Riegel) is back in town, engaged to her lesbian partner, Reese (Tamara Braun) and the two have just had a baby together. (Bianca went through AI using sperm donated by her brother-in-law, Zach.) But as Bianca has noted, the two will have to marry elsewhere, as Pine Valley is in Pennsylvania, where same-sex marriage isn’t legal.

Reese’s parents disowned her once she came out to them and refuse to see her. Bianca is trying to bring the family back together.

But no doubt, Huckabee and Wall would say this lesbian couple, who have two children together, have no right to be married.

Meanwhile, over on “As the World Turns,” sweeps has catapulted the gay storyline to the front burner. What began as an election storyline with gay Luke (Van Hansis) running for student body president has now turned into a complicated gay (yes, *gay*) love triangle as Luke’s grandmother Lucinda’s new *husband* kissed Luke.

Can you say closet case?

Whoa. Wait until Noah hears about *this.* Not to mention Lucinda.

Ah, there’s so much to give thanks for, even with a tanking economy–real queer TV, President-elect Obama and five more unlawfully detained prisoners being released from America’s torture chamber in Guantanamo.

Stay tuned!

In response to the financial bailout, Denise writes:

Hate to say I told you so on the financial bailout, but I told you so. I knew with the Bush Administration and Paulson heading up the bailout none of the money would do what it was intended to do. The bailout has only given the banks more money to pay dividends and invest in God knows what this time around. Investors and Wall Street are the root of our problems. They manipulate and control the working people's future and have been allowed to do so for too long to remember. Now, that prices are easing up for the consumers (although not noticeable to me) they are talking about deflation using the fall of a barrel of oil as their example. Sorry, but 60 bucks a barrel is about where I think it should be. The average American can't win for losing with these greedy thieves.

As far as Warden's comments go, go ahead and read something else. It is important to understand the Republican's failure and wrong direction and hope that they will learn lessons and head in another direction, rather than maintain status-quo. After all, like it or not they do make up a part of Congress and it would be nice if they would work with the other party for solutions instead of roadblocks, however, with Boehner's lingo after he was reelected minority leader and Pence's win of the second in charge, they are using the same, old same old lingo - "roadblocks to stop the liberal Democrats agenda." At least we won't have to worry about their take over of Congress or the Whitehouse as long as they continue this unwinning dialogue

In response to, "I am irked by some of the opinions I hear that we should let the auto industry fail. To start, I understand that they haven't built the most fuel efficient reliable cars in the world," Victoria Brownworth responds:

You can be irked all you want to be, but when the best and brightest economists in the nation say that the bailout of the big three in Detroit--not the auto industry at all, because all the other auto companies other than GM, Chrysler and Ford are doing well because they listened to consumers---should restructure through bankruptcy rather than be given an endless supply of our tax dollars, I go with the economists.

Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel this year for Economics, was succinct on the Detroit bailout--it's a losing proposition. Warren Buffet, second-richest man in the world and financial advisor to Barack Obama, said a bailout of the big three spelled disaster and also said bankruptcy restructuring was the way to go.

These are people who understand money and understand business. It's time we let the people who actually know what they are talking about do the work and the reconfiguring. To say that Detroit (not the auto industry but DETROIT--get that part straight) hasn't built the most fuel efficient and reliable cars in the world is such an understatement it would be funny, if the companies weren't failing because of their ineptitude. Bad business should not be rewarded. Giving GM, Chrysler and Ford a bailout would be like telling George Bush, hell, take another four years. And I cannot imagine you would ever want THAT.

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-Noah Greenberg