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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

December 11, 2008


The Defense Says, "Just Kidding!"

According to some legal experts - a.k.a. Chicagoland defense attorneys - convicting Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich (DEMOCRAT) might not go to jail because... well... see for yourself:

"The weakness in the government's case seems to be that Blagojevich schemed to do things but didn't actually do them,"
-Chicago defense attorney John Beal

In other words, "Just Kidding!"

Imagine if others with the kind of proof against them that the US attorney has against Gov. Blagojevich would have-could have used the same defense that it appears might be used here in defense of Blagojevich. No more would attempted murder be a crime because the victim is still alive. No longer would defenseless women be protected because their husbands didn't actually put them in the hospital.

It reminds me of the story of a man found in bed with a woman by his wife. The man jumps out of bed, stark naked and says, "But honey... Nothing happened!"

I ain't buying the non-execution of the crime excuse. This isn't a case of the "Thought Police" taking advantage of a situation.

Assuming what US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says is true, the words used by Blagojevich show not only his intentions but his mindset. The office of Governor wasn't only open for business as Illinois' new pay-to-play arena, it was a virtual supermarket of corruption not seen since recording equipment was invented some hundred-plus years ago.

The Blagojevich corruption story has just about everything with the exception of sex. (But if I know my politics, it certainly can't be far behind. Somebody must have had his pants down around his ankles somewhere at some time during all of this, dont'cha think?)

When asked, however, career prosecutors had a different take on the evidence which the US Attorney's office is going to use against the Illinois Governor:

"You're going to hear Gov. Blagojevich's own words and they are going to be used against him in court. That is extremely powerful evidence. If I were the defense lawyer I would be sitting down with the clients and telling them that this is not a winnable case and we ought to try to strike a deal,"
-Former federal prosecutor William Devaney

And, for the good of everybody, Blagojevich should strike that deal now.

Still others whose job it is to represent the reprehensible have their own take on things:

Prosecutors must show "overt acts,"
There's nothing criminal in talking about "what he (Blagojevich) wants to get and what he wants to receive, his hopes and aspirations."
-Attorney Martin R. Pollner

Attorney Pollner makes what Blagojevich did, and the upcoming prosecution of those acts, sound like Fitzgerald is attempting to dash the hopes and dreams of some little girl whose only fault is dreaming too hard. Intent is obvious and Blagojevich's words will be the noose that hangs him (figuratively, of course).

The recordings show Blagojevich's intent on holding up money for a Children's hospital in order to get a $50,000 donation from its CEO; holding up a road bill for some pay-to-play money from those who would be supplying concrete and such; and trying to sell the seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder/ fund-raiser.

The first politician (other than Blagojevich himself) to now be caught in this new scandal's rip-tide is Representative Jesse Jackson. Jr (DEMOCRAT-IL). Identified as "Senate Candidate Five" by the US Attorney's office, Jackson's "emissary" might have represented the Congressman's intention to be willing to raise as much as $1 million in campaign donations for Blagojevich's future campaigns. And future campaigns were in his front windshield.

Blagojevich, as a part of the "package" he was hoping to receive from our new President, included an appointment as HHS Secretary, a cushy and well-paid lobbying job for his wife; and maybe an appointment as a US Ambassador. Then the plan's culmination would have come in 2016 when he used some of his new-found fortune to - get this - run for President!

Hearing and realizing what kind of a guy Blagojevich is, one would have to think that all of those "plans" are, somehow, still in the back of his mind.

Does Blagojevich think that he's done nothing wrong and that his "thinking" about doing wrong was just that - a thought? Or is that merely the excuse he's going to use?

-Noah Greenberg

Q on the Tube: End of a Queer-a
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 PGN Inc.

Some TV shows end long after we’ve stopped watching. Others end and we can’t really believe they are gone.

ABC’s “Boston Legal” ended its five seasons in a two-hour series finale Dec. 9. It was a loss to the often uncritical and largely unpolitical/apolitical TV landscape.
“Boston Legal” garnered numerous Emmys and Emmy nominations, including seven for the 2008 season for its stellar acting, writing and, concomitantly, its scathing indictments of right-wing politics and best bromance on the tube.

The show debuted as a spin-off of David E. Kelley’s once-fabulous courtroom drama, “The Practice” in October 2004. James Spader entered the storyline in the final season of “The Practice,” leading into the spin-off.

Spader’s Alan Shore and William Shatner’s Denny Crane headed the star-studded cast, which included Candice Bergen and John Laroquette.

Spader and Shatner developed a relationship almost never seen on series TV–a true male love affair. Each episode ended with Alan and Denny sipping scotch and recounting their experiences together. Each often expressed their love for the other. They slept over at each other’s houses to ward off the encroachment of loneliness. They were often accused of being gay lovers, but weren’t actually—they just seemed incapable of forming the kind of deep attachment to women that they had with each other.

The complexity of the bromance between Alan and Denny was complicated further by Denny’s worsening Alzheimer’s and Alan’s fears of losing him.

(Spoiler alert!) In the series finale, Denny asks Alan to marry him. After much discussion, Alan agrees to do so, even though both men are ostensibly heterosexual.

Denny's marriage proposal is one of love, if non-sexual. It also points out exactly how important marriage is when it comes to issues of life and death. How "BL" addresses both the bromance and the life-and-death issues between these two characters typifies the edginess of the show.

But while this relationship was at the core of the show, it was hardly the only issue addressed by Kelley and his writers.

One of things queer audiences will miss most is how LGBT issues were simply a commonplace, as opposed to “An Issue” throughout the show’s run.

Denny was solicited in a sting operation in a men’s bathroom. He was merely constipated, but it brought up the whole issue of how gay men are targeted in men’s rooms. As Alan protested at the hearing, “Is this the best use of our resources? Did we catch Osama bin Laden?”

“Boston Legal” also starred Gary Anthony Williams as a black transvestite for two seasons. The show delved into his transvestism and how he was ostracized for it. (The character originally came to the show as a client suing for discrimination.)

This exchange during a case in which a Santa Claus was fired for being gay epitomizes not just how great the writing was on “Boston Legal,” but how civil rights–for everyone–was a core value for the show.

Al Sharpton: [bursts into the courtroom] Sorry I'm late, Judge, I'll make this quick...
Alan Shore: [interrupts] And subtle!
Judge Harry Hingham: [to Sharpton] Who the hell are you?
Al Sharpton: [Continues without pause] ... The image of Santa Claus has been crafted for hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of years. We're supposed to be in a different day. Give the world a black Santa Claus, let the people have an African-American come down the chimney bearing joy and good will!
Alan Shore: [whispers to Sharpton] Gay, not black.
Al Sharpton: The prejudice against gay people must stop. We all say we're for gay rights. We all say we accept homosexuality. But give a gay man a hug, sit in his lap?
Judge Harry Hingham: [Interrupts] Who is this man?
Al Sharpton: [Continues without stopping] Let the bells of tolerance ring out this Christmas. Let people open their minds as they open their presents underneath the tree. We need your mind, judge, today. Let the gay man be my brother, be your brother, be the school teacher, be the construction worker. Give the world a gay Santa Claus, God Almighty, God Almighty, God Almighty! Leave out the cookies and milk this Christmas Eve for a holly, jolly homosexual, God Almighty!
Alan Shore: And cut!
[Applause ensues]

In a deeply moving episode, “Boston Legal” also took on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It also addressed the pedophile priest issue, which raised the ire of the Catholic Church.

The show made an effort to incorporate diversity into the cast/characters. Christian Clemenson played an attorney with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Meredith Eaton-Gilden, an actress who refers to herself as a little person, played a recurring role as a “dwarf” attorney and love interest for Shatner for two seasons. Rev. Al Sharpton played himself in several cases involving racial discrimination.

While “Boston Legal” often took an over-the-top approach to politics and sexuality, each episode addressed politics in America–racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, ableism–with a vengeance, both in the courtroom and out. Alan sued the government for wrongful death in several Iraq War cases. The death penalty was addressed on numerous occasions, as was torture.

While civil liberties were being trounced and trussed by the Bush Administration, “Boston Legal” was taking them on in court.

Social issues were as much the purview of “BL” as political issues and clarified how the two blur in the realm of the courts. Michael J. Fox had a recurring role as a character with a terminal illness. Henry Gibson had a recurring role as Judge Clark Brown, who was gay but closeted in that Rev. Ted Haggard kind of way.

Alan and Denny were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but in one of the more touching final scenes in November, Denny obliquely acknowledged having voted for Obama.

While the show also never failed to take on queer and queer-related issues, it was its consistent smack-down of the Bush Administration and all its myriad ills that was most appreciated in the darkest moments of the past eight years. Few who saw it will forget the gut-wrenching episode about Hurricane Katrina.

The news might have been ignoring the outrage of the many Bush failures, but “Boston Legal” was not.

This is a show that will be sorely missed. All five seasons are available on DVD.

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-Noah Greenberg