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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

December 2, 2008



Schiavo's Senator Not Seeking Re-Election

The man responsible for the Schiavo Memo isn't going to seek a second term in the US Senate.

"I've faced much tougher obstacles in my life. My decision is not based on re-election prospects, but on what on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life."
-Senator Mel Martinez (REPUBLICAN-FL)

Someone ought to tell Senator Martinez that his next two years are supposed to be devoted to the people of Florida who voted him into office four years ago and the people of the United States - all of whom he is supposed to represent in the United States Senate.

As it appears that Martinez has no intention of doing anything for the remaining two years as a US Senator, the statement above should have ended, "...after I resign from the US Senate today."

Martinez' ties to President Bush puts him in front of the same freight train which took down so many of his Republican party brethren over the past two federal election cycles. It remains to be seen if two years from now the same sentiment which has prevailed these past two years will still be the prevailing sentiment in 2010.

Martinez, however, is taking no chances. His ties to President Bush are solid and a career-killer in an opinion-shifting state such as Florida. His tenure with the Bush administration as Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD), followed up by his appointment by President Bush to the Chairmanship of the Republican National Committee have made the re-election probabilities for Martinez...well... improbable.

Martinez, who came over from Cuba as a teenager, was able to use Florida's Cuban-American Republican base to get him into the Senate. And it worked. However, the 100-seat chamber also known as America's biggest boys' club, isn't worth a fight, or a change of heart from Martinez.

Politicians today are so set in their ways, so set in their ideals and so setup by their respective lobbyists that someone like Martinez couldn't possibly change for the betterment of America. It isn't that he couldn't look at his current views on the world, realize that they differ with us mainstream Americans, and then change to meet our needs today. Martinez would rather remove himself from government then try to change himself or his party to meet today's world views. And as its former chairman, he could have been one of the people to change it. Today's GOP House and Senate members still rely on fear and wedge issues to keep them in their comfy seats and Martinez' state isn't one of those few Really Red states whose majorities will stand behind their GOP representatives no matter what.

HUD under Martinez was a joke. It was one of the many Departments of US Government which could have taken their charter and flushed it down the toilet for all the good it did us under his and President Bush's leadership. Martinez' appointment was one made to keep the Cuban-Americans, so instrumental in Florida politics, satisfied and, to his political (not actual) credit, he capitalized on it.

Martinez most notable moment in the Senate came in the Terry Schiavo matter. He, along with Republican Senators Bill Frist (TN) and Rick Santorum (PA) voted without a quorum to pass Martinez' Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo (S. 686 CPS), a bill aimed at politicizing the choice of Michael Schiavo, Terry's husband, to allow her to die with dignity. It's the only time President Bush thought it important enough to end a vacation at his Crawford, Texas ranch and come back to Washington for a "National Emergency", something he didn't when Hurricane Katrina hit.

One could search, but one won't find any other real legislation written by US Senator Mel Martinez. Most of the legislation he sponsored was aimed at pandering to specific groups. They begin with words such as, "A bill to commemorate..." or "A bill to recognize..."

My hope is that during the next two years real progress will be made by President Obama and the Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and US Senate. It also includes a real desire to see serious, productive and compassionate people, from both political parties, running for Martinez' vacant seat in 2010.

After all, it's been vacant enough for the past four years.

-Noah Greenberg

Q on the Tube: HIV/AIDS on TV
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 PGN, Inc.

In New Zealand on World AIDS Day MTV devoted 24 hours to AIDS awareness. In Nigeria and China, feature programming addressed issues of safe sex and men having sex with men.

In the U.S., AIDS programming was, as has so often been the case, the purview of the soaps.

On “As the World Turns,” Dr. Bob Hughes had his usual red ribbon, as did other hospital staff in Oakdale. Over at “General Hospital,” Robin Scorpio continues to be the only character on TV who is HIV-positive, having acquired the disease as a teenager from her then-boyfriend, Stone Cates.

In a TV first, Robin gave birth to daughter Emma on Nov. 4, setting a new standard for TV characters with HIV/AIDS. (Kimberley McCullough has portrayed Robin since 1985.)

Since the epidemic began, soaps have taken on HIV/AIDS in long-term storylines. In 1987-88, actress Barbara Bush played Dawn Rollo on “Another World.” Dawn, who was a virgin, had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion she received from her prostitute mother.

From 1987 through 1989, on “As the World Turns,” Hank Elliot was one of the first gay male characters on daytime. At the end of a long, front-burner storyline, Hank left Oakdale for New York, to care for his partner who was dying of AIDS.

Also in 1987, on “All My Children,” Stuart Chandler, twin brother of mogul Adam Chandler (both characters remain on the show) became involved with Cindy, who had contracted HIV from her drug-abusing ex-husband. Cindy and Stuart fell in love and got married before she died.

The storyline ran for more than a year and a half. Stuart still refers to Cindy often on “All My Children.” Ellen Wheeler won a 1988 Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy Award for the role. In 1988 on “The Young and the Restless,” Cricket's mother, Jessica Blair, who had just married John Abbott, told the Abbott family that she was HIV positive, having contracted the disease while working as a prostitute. She later died, but not before other characters who had been involved with her or with John had to be tested for HIV.

“General Hospital” debuted its AIDS storyline in 1995. Stone had AIDS and infected his teenaged girlfriend, Robin. Stone had contracted HIV from a previous girlfriend who had been a drug-addict. He died of the disease. Michael Sutton was nominated for a 1996 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for the role.

Over 13 years later, Robin Scorpio is a doctor and also now a mother, still HIV-positive and a declarative example of someone living with AIDS. Robin is in striking contrast to the early representations when the characters died swiftly–much like real people did in the early days of the epidemic.

Worldwide, soap operas have been a consistent vehicle for AIDS awareness. In 1991, Britain’s popular and long-running soap “EastEnders” had major character Mark Fowler discover he was HIV positive. His first wife died of the disease, but Mark lived with HIV for 13 years on the show before succumbing to an opportunistic infection in 2004.

Like “General Hospital” has with Robin, “EastEnders” used the storyline to deal with the array of concerns for people with HIV/AIDS, from how to tell one’s family and friends to the ostracization and fear that accompanied that revelation to how to maintain one’s health and sexual life.

It was such a ground-breaking storyline and “EastEnders” was such a hit show watched by millions, that AIDS activists attributed an increased rate of HIV-testing in the U.K. to the soap’s storyline.

In Tanzania, Brazil, Russia and South Africa, soap operas have recently been used to explore issues related to AIDS. Discussions of bisexuality, men having sex with men, women getting the disease from male partners who have unsafe sex and the perils of IV drug use have all been topics of soap storylines in these countries.

In the U.S., however, while HIV/AIDS has been a topic of storylines for 20 years, there continues to be haphazard use of condoms and safe sex on soaps. Characters frequently have unprotected sex with more than one other character at a time and unplanned pregnancy often results–but never STDs or HIV. A missed opportunity.

Thus, while soaps have broken ground on HIV/AIDS awareness, there is still more ground to be broken. TV remains the most comprehensive medium for getting out information about the disease and soaps have a vast audience. AIDS is not over. TV programming, whether daytime or prime time, needs to reflect that reality.

In response to, "The last attack on American soil before 9/11/01 was in the War of 1812," Dorothy Schwartz writes:

Wasn't it actually Pearl Harbor?

And Madman points out:

The real answer is the Aleutian Islands of Alaska which the Japanese attacked and even occupied. However, since our Embassies and the lands they sit on in other countries are technically the soil of the United States, attacks on them have to be considered, too.

And when the giant US Embassy in Baghdad is finally finished, certainly it will be the target of numerous bombing attempts as well. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg