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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Inauguration Day Madman

January 28, 2009


A Surprise First Interview

People were shocked that President Barack Obama would sit down at the White House and actually speak with an Arab-language broadcasting company reporter. Al-Arabiya's Hisham Melhem, a critic of US policies in the middle east got the surprise call from the White House asking if he would like to meet with new President Barack Obama. Melhem and his employer were trying to get an interview session with new Mideast envoy and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Instead, they got the Big Dog.

Although Obama sat down with the more moderate of the Arab-language broadcasters instead of Al-Jezeera, just his granting interview number one with what many in the US consider to be a mouthpiece for the enemy has many a NeoCon head a-turnin'. And when one throws in The President's statement that he has relatives who practice the Muslim faith, those heads must have performed a 360.

Those of us paying attention, however, see a different side of the story.

The truth of the matter is that a new administration has to bring a new outlook. Instead of going on The Today Show as Matt Lauer's guest (as Lauer presumed Obama would do - and boy is he peeved about it!) and doing the soundbite thing (something we have seen way too much of over these past eight years), President Obama decided to throw the ball into the court of the Arab world.

The message was clear: We are here to talk and we expect a peaceful dialogue.

"My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect,"
-President Obama, during the interview with Al-Arabiya

For years we have seen the Bush administration rhetoric of not sitting down with those we consider to be our enemies. And while 9-11 can't be forgotten, it was a terrorist deed enacted by a small militant group of Muslims, not the entire Muslim population of the planet which encompasses some one billion people. By sitting down with the moderate voice in the Arab world (Al-Arabiya is Saudi -backed and headquartered in Dubai), President Obama has made a first move towards Peace.

And the last time I looked, we were still striving for Peace... weren't we? In the wake of the Bush years, it's hard to remember if that was ever the end result we were searching for.

There will be dozens of ill-tempered hate radio icons blasting President Obama for this made gesture-through-interview. But I ask those who may be against it now, but with sense enough to know that the like of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the Fox News Hounds will be against anything that brings an end to partisan and sectarian violence this: How would YOU go about it?

And speaking of Fox News: Did anyone happen to catch Gretchen Carlson of Fox and Friends, the morning shoe of Fox News Channel? As shown on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, The former Miss America (1989) turned Fox News attack dog was caught reading the teleprompter and trying, unsuccessfully to pronounce AL-ARABIYA. Her efforts went for naught until a voice off-camera was heard pronouncing the name correctly. Carlson then gave it her best try and said "Al-Arabiya?" as if it were a question.

Ted Baxter has been re-incarnated as a the former Miss America from Anoka, Minnesota. And they call her "the Smart One" of the three hosts on Fox and Friends.

According to Fox News, Carlson graduated Stanford with honors and "studied abroad" at Oxford University. Now there's a sheepskin I'd like to see.

-Noah Greenberg

More on the GOP's Tax Cuts

What is it with the Republican fixation on lowering taxes? They claim to be for small government but if they really were why do Republicans spend so much money on the military, homeland security and whatever they feel they need to spend on to get elected?

Every time there is an economic crisis I hear the same solution from the Republicans - "cut taxes". It simply makes no sense. We cut taxes several times under Bush and had the worse economy that I ever seen. We cut taxes under Reagan and had a terrible economy until he raised taxes twice.

Trickle down economics doesn't work. Cutting taxes for the wealthy doesn't create jobs. Now that Obama has heard the Republicans out (several times in fact), I hope he plans on moving forward. Seems to me that there is no reason to listen them anymore on this issue as we all know their strategy is to get more tax cuts.

-Robert Scardapane

And Lew Warden argues:

Perhaps a “fair” tax would be one that taxed in proportion to the benefits one received from governments, or one that taxed the flow of money entirely automatically without the burden of filing tax returns, or even an income tax that was dedicated to raising revenues and not shot thru with dubious social engineering schemes, or one that excluded special benefits for the rich and powerful, whether corporations or individual, or more heavily taxed obscenely high “salaries” and other benefits, or obscenely high excess profits, or taxed US citizens and those who profit from doing business in the United States and resorted to off-shore banks and investments to avoid taxation. For sure Dems ought to be looking beyond the income tax to saner and more equitable and less burdensome systems. But, after all, most Dem politicians gobble their swill at the same troughs as Rep hogs, so don’t expect anything significant in the way of change.

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-Noah Greenberg