Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The case against profiling

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thinks the recent TSA outcry is really a call for profiling. He makes a compelling case against doing so.

He writes:
What the critics really mean is not that the TSA should let underwear bombers board planes. What they're saying is: Don't search me, and don't search my grandmother. Just search the potential terrorists.

In other words, they want profiling. That's a seductive idea, I suppose, if you don't spend a lot of time worrying about civil liberties. But it couldn't possibly work. Our terrorist enemies may be evil, but they're not stupid.

If we only search people who "look like terrorists," al-Qaeda will send people who don't fit the profile. It's no accident that most of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were from Saudi Arabia; at the time, it was easier for Saudi nationals to get U.S. visas than it was for citizens of other Arab countries. If terrorists are clever enough to hide powerful explosives in ink cartridges, then eventually they'll find a suicide bomber who looks just like you, me or Granny.
I’ve harbored the fanciful notion that TSA could profile behavior, not ethnicity or nation of origin. But what is “terrorist behavior?” Sweaty palms, shifty eyes, condescending smirk? Such characteristics might very well identify terrorists. The problem is they would also ID half the lawyers in the country. Short of shredding the Bill of Rights, I’m afraid we’re stuck with TSA procedures.

The Last Lion

On this day in 1874, renowned WWII leader and UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was born. He died in 1965 at age 90. Two favorite Churchillian quotes:
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

"Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter."
And an excerpt from a famous speech Churchill delivered before the House of Commons on June 4, 1940:
"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
They don't make them like Winston anymore.

Tom Sawyer's Father

On this day in 1835, renowned author and humorist Samuel Clemens ('Mark Twain') was born in Florida, Missouri.

Apart from his rapier wit and humor, Twain was best known for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He died in 1910.

My favorite Twain quote:
"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
I'll drink to that.

Over-thinking Lennon

A very curious tract from Andrew Sullivan this morning:
"Actually, a multi-millionaire in a vast, minimalist, white mansion. Personally, I have extremely mixed feelings about this song. Most times it makes me want to vomit because of its self-serving sanctimony and silliness. I mean: Lennon did not have to imagine, he could have sold every thing he owned to the poor as Jesus recommended to the rich young man. But life in the Dakota was somehow preferable. But I must confess that occasionally - if heard purely as a utopian fantasy - it can work. Musically, it's sublime."
Wow. Talk about over thinking something. There is a time to intellectualize, and a time to just shut up and enjoy the music. For most of Lennon's work, thinking is not required. Just “Let it Be."

What Obama Should Do

Don't let the headline throw you. I detest those "what Obama should do" columns. But this entry from Andrew Sullivan (who’s on a roll today) isn't one of them:
“I know many want Obama to become a liberal partisan firebrand to defeat the crazed Tea Party rhetoric. I reiterate my view that this would be a terrible mistake, and a massive over-reading of the mid-terms. Obama has to recapture those in the middle, especially Independents (like yours truly) who really do want to see a grown-up in Washington offer a serious plan for eliminating the long-term debt. If Obama can do that - and fight for it more aggressively and specifically than he did for health insurance reform - a slowly reviving economy, bolstered by more long-term confidence, will win him a landslide (and save the country's economic future too).”
And I think that's exactly what President Obama is doing.

Gays and Mr. McCain

I, too, have been somewhat puzzled by Sen. John McCain stance against DADT. One reader of Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog provided what I thought was a pretty good explanation.

He wrote:
John McCain is 74 years old. People who are his age and served in the military have a very different perspective. When they were in the military, being gay would have been viewed as shameful and perverted. Many people that age still think that. Senators, given the bubbles they live in, don’t realize how much things have changed. When McCain was saying that he wanted to “hear what the soldiers had to say” he was certain they would be against repeal – because he would have been uncomfortable serving with gay soldiers.

You can tell by watching McCain that it is simply inconceivable to that 74 year old military man that gays and lesbians would be accepted by soldiers. It just doesn’t compute. He can’t process that information because it is so different from his world view. When he gets a survey that tells him that such acceptance has occurred, he can’t believe it; it must be wrong. Most of the men in the Senate are much closer to McCain’s age than to the age of the average soldier serving today. What we are seeing is what happens when cultural norms change and “the old folks don’t like it.”
Pretty convincing, no? But Sullivan quickly shot this notion out of the sky:
Alas, I don't actually believe that in McCain's case. McCain knows and has worked with and relied upon openly gay people in his own staff. His disgusting posturing on this question now is not, in my view, out of conviction but out of calculation. He got re-elected by veering to the far right and junking much of what he once believed in. He is also clearly consumed with bitterness and hatred of the president who so humiliated him in his disastrous campaign. He is lashing out. And he is contemptible for it.
Alas, Sully is probably right.

Pardon, moi?

On the topic of WikiLeaks, Eugene Robinson penned this petite gem today: "Likewise, we're not shocked to learn that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is highhanded, given that 'thin-skinned and authoritarian' -- which is how a diplomat describes him in a cable -- is just another way of saying 'French president.' " Mon Dieu. Heh.

Scoundrel

New York Times columnist David Brooks opened his piece today with some facts about Julian Assange I didn't know.

Brooks reported:
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had moved 37 times by the time he reached his 14th birthday. His mother didn’t enroll him in the local schools because, as Raffi Khatchadourian wrote in a New Yorker profile, she feared “that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority.”

She needn’t have worried. As a young computer hacker, he formed a group called International Subversives. As an adult, he wrote “Conspiracy as Governance,” a pseudo-intellectual online diatribe. He talks of vast “patronage networks” that constrain the human spirit.

Far from respecting authority, Assange seems to be an old-fashioned anarchist who believes that all ruling institutions are corrupt and public pronouncements are lies. For someone with his mind-set, the decision to expose secrets is easy.
Sure explains a lot.

Get it done

In its long anticipated formal report, the Pentagon today said it sees little long-term impact on the services if the ban on gays is repealed.

Per the New York Times:
The Pentagon has concluded that allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the United States armed forces presents a low risk to the military’s effectiveness, even at a time of war, and that 70 percent of service members believe that the impact of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law would be either positive, mixed or of no consequence at all.

The report … also found that much of the concern in the armed forces about openly gay service members was driven by misperceptions and stereotypes. Leaving aside those with moral and religious objections to homosexuality, the authors said that the concerns were “exaggerated and not consistent with the reported experiences of many service members.”

Nonetheless, [Defense Secretary Gates] said that there were higher levels of “discomfort” about repealing the law among those in the combat branches of the military, and that “those findings remain a source of concern to the service chiefs and to me.” He said the concerns were not insurmountable, but that implementing any repeal should be done carefully and with more preparation of the military’s combat forces.
In other words, the critics should stop whining like little girls, and just let the military folks get it done. There’s a war on, two in fact – remember?

A clown short of a circus

Columnist Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, writing for the Russian newspaper Pravda, delivered a scathing (but well earned) critique today about Sarah Palin:
"I have already called Sarah Palin a pith-headed bimbo from the back of beyond, in this column. I shall now go one step further. By attacking the democratically elected President of the United States of America at a sensitive time in her country's history, she shows the tact of a boorish drunkard bawling obscenities at a funeral.

If Sarah Palin is not some kind of a massive political joke in the USA, wheeled out to liven up the political scene from time to time with nonsensical and pastiche (one hopes) displays of sheer and utter ignorance, then it is worrying. It is even more so if anyone other than a manic depressive suffering from a chronic lack of lithium takes this ... female ... seriously.
Yowzer! Nothing like a well-aimed arrow hitting its target dead center. And yes, it actually gets better. Read the rest here.

Palin-palooza

Republican pundit Mark McKinnon, former advisor to John McCain, begs Sarah Palin not to run for president:
”If Palin runs, I think the entire Republican primary process will be hijacked. With ardent fans and a rabid media, it will become Palin-palooza. A celebrity fest will follow with even more amplitude than the adulation and adoration that surrounded Barack Obama, who was so revered he was sometimes referred to in biblical proportions as “The One.” An all-consuming super nova, Palin will suck the oxygen out of every room, everywhere she goes. And one of two things will happen. Discerning conservative voters in early primary states will be offended by the circus-like atmosphere and the presumption that they could so easily fall for a “cult of personality.” And they will vote against her. And she will lose. Or, Republican voters will be completely swept up in the mania and nominate her as the GOP standard bearer to go up against President Obama. And she will lose—perhaps the only Republican nominee who could lose in 2012.”
And, I might add, she’d lose big. Run Sarah Run.

'All Clear' sounded

OK, OK -- I've obviously lifted my self-imposed Sarah Palin blackout. Hey, I tried. Having been flushed out of my dugout, though, I'll spare her no quarter going forward. Here's a zinger from Dubya's mom, Barbara Bush:
“I sat next to her once. Thought she was beautiful. And she's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there."
Did I just hear "Oh Snap!" in the background? Heh.

And so it begins

AS PREDICTED, it seems grown-up Republicans are slowly awaking from their Tea Party stupor. Growing numbers are concluding that playing Russian Roulette with Sarah Palin may not be healthy for the party's future.

I give you former Republican congressman (and current host of Morning Joe) Joe Scarborough:
"This is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow. If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy. But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin."
Wow. Here are more GOP voices, a growing chorus. (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Running on empty

Meghan McCain, 26, the daughter of Sen. McCain, tweeted this (as McCainBlogette) today: "New column out tonight/tomorrow! Topic: Does being a "blue blood" make me a bad Republican?" Answer: Nope, but she is getting perilously close to becoming the Paris Hilton of politics, and just as irrelevant.

Madam Spymaster?

FIRE Hillary Clinton! She’s turned the State Department in a shadowy den of spies! And Slate columnist Jack Shafer wants her head on a pike.

Shafer has also jumped the shark, and journeyed a bridge too far. He says, “The leaked cables make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to continue as secretary of state.” Impossible. Her heinous crime: She supposedly encouraged our diplomats to spy on foreign diplomats abroad.

Shafer huffs and puffs and tries to blow Hillary’s house down:
"She's become the issue. She'll never be an effective negotiator with diplomats who refuse to forgive her exuberances, and even foreign diplomats who do forgive her will still regard her as the symbol of an overreaching United States. Diplomacy is about face, and the only way for other nations to save face will be to give them Clinton's scalp."
This is laughable on its, um, face.

First of all, our diplomats don’t drive around in Aston Martins and introduce themselves as “Bond, James Bond.” They don’t have to. We employ real spies for the requisite skullduggery. American diplomatic officers (including ambassadors) have always collected “soft intelligence,” mainly through passive observation and open sources. That’s no secret, and it’s hardly an American phenomenon. Every Foreign Service does it. Anything beyond routine information gathering falls into the purview of our dedicated intelligence agencies, like the CIA.

Secondly, in the 21st century, “face” is the least of what diplomacy is about. Diplomacy, as David Frost cleverly put it, is the “art of letting somebody else have your way.” Or as Zhou Enlai said more accurately, “All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.” Whatever Madam Secretary Clinton did, I’m certain it was legal and attuned to the world as it is, not as Shafer naively imagines it to be.

The Christmas War

'Tis the season for predictable media stories. On deck: the annual "War on Christmas" meme. But at least Salon staff writer Mary Elizabeth Williams does it intelligently:
Case in point: a star-emblazoned new billboard outside New Jersey's Lincoln Tunnel featuring three wise men en route to a manger, along with the message "You KNOW it's a myth. This season, celebrate REASON!"

Whether one unshakably believes in a perfectly swaddled little baby Jesus who arrives precisely on December 25 surrounded by cute donkeys and starstruck shepherds is hardly the point. It's that snotty, oh-just-face-it-you-idiots attitude, that utter certainty, that's just as belligerent coming from an atheist as it from an evangelical.
Amen to that. Read the entire piece here.

Face the Music

“If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.” It isn’t for me, not anymore. After tiring of the vapid, predictable answers given by political guests in response to vapid, predictable questions posed by moderators on Face the Nation, Meet the Press, This Week and whatever it is Fox News offers, I gave the Sunday talk shows a rest in August. I’m still resting. Not once have I felt compelled to resume my regular viewing habits. And, it turns out, I’m none the worse for wear. Not only am I a saner citizen for turning off the Nation/Press/Week spigot, I’m practically doing cartwheels in my newfound freedom.

I’m an avowed political junkie, god help me. That the Sunday shows no longer appeal to the likes of me speaks volumes. Once upon a time, they provided valuable insight into the grand issues of the day. Today, they are little more than echo chambers for political platitudes designed for and consumed by Washington insiders. Evidently, this tiny audience is enough to keep these shows on the air. I can’t imagine that is sustainable. At some point, Face the Nation et al will have to face the music. But I’ve crossed the Rubicon. For me, if it’s Sunday … I’m doing something else.

America the Exceptional

BASED on a single sentence in a 2009 speech taken out of context, right-wingers say President Obama does not believe in "American exceptionalism." Let’s put aside the fact that what Obama actually said contradicts the charge. Let’s put aside the jingoistic dubiousness of “exceptionalism” and its relevance in the 21st century. And let’s stipulate to the utter pointlessness of debating the issue with conservatives who drink at the fountain of epistemic closure. The right is simply using this as yet another way to tarnish Obama as the Un-American Other. To wit, he’s different from thee and me. Historically, presidents have always been smeared by their opponents, so this is nothing new. But that fact makes it no less appalling.

Here’s what Obama actually said, nuanced and brilliant as usual. Here’s the big Washington Post story that is keeping this meme alive. And here’s another view (TNR's Jon Chait) taking Republicans to task for their small-minded attack.

Wiki Woes

The difference between whistleblowers and traitors:
"Revealing secrets about crimes, abuses, and corruption obviously serves a larger good -- it shines a light on wrongdoing, leading (hopefully) to accountability, while creating an incentive for officials to play by the rules. Leaking diplomatic cables, however, is harder to understand -- the point seems to be to undermine American foreign policy, just for the sake of undermining American foreign policy. The role of whistleblowers has real value; dumping raw, secret diplomatic correspondence appears to be an exercise in pettiness and spite." (Steve Benen, Washington Monthly)
Also: Daily Beast columnist Peter Beinart explains why the WikiLeaks drama is way overblown. He's right.

The Partisan Mind

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on the dubiousness of partisanship, a knife that can cut both ways:
Is there anything good to be said about the partisan mindset? On an individual level, no. It corrupts the intellect and poisons the wells of human sympathy. Honor belongs to the people who resist partisanship’s pull, instead of rowing with it.

But for the country as a whole, partisanship does have one modest virtue. It guarantees that even when there’s an elite consensus behind whatever the ruling party wants to do (whether it’s invading Iraq or passing Obamacare), there will always be a reasonably passionate opposition as well. Given how much authority is concentrated in Washington, especially in the executive branch, even a hypocritical and inconsistent opposition is better than no opposition at all.

At the very least, the power of partisanship means that there will always be someone around, when Americans are standing spread-eagled and exposed in the glare of Rapiscan, to speak up and say “enough!”
Interesting. Read his entire column here.

Media Fail, Take 2

Well, at least one major newspaper gets it, at long last:
New York Times: "The [T.S.A.] pat-down story was the equivalent of vaporware — it seemed as if something huge was about to happen, but it turned out that it was a story about a story, the noisy, fervent sound of a news system feeding on itself."
And this episode is merely the latest example of media vaporware. But don't dwell on it -- you'll break your brain.

That space between your ears

An excerpt from Richard Watson's new book, "Future Minds: How the Digital Age Is Changing Our Minds":
If we are very busy there is every chance that our brain will not listen to reason and we will end up supporting things that are dangerous or ideas that seek to do us, or others, harm. Fakery, insincerity, and big fat lies all prosper in a world that is too busy or distracted. Put bluntly, if we are all too busy and self-absorbed to notice or challenge things, then evil will win by default. Or, as Milan Kundera put it: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why he’s not president

From a CNN interview today, Sen. John McCain on Sarah Palin: "I think she had a positive impact on the last election, and I'm proud of her." (hat tip: Dan Nowicki)
As Mark Twain once said, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." I'm just glad the impacted "last election" put the right man in the Oval Office.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not nuts yet

One of Andrew Sullivan's readers at The Atlantic penned this recent observation:
On Thanksgiving Day, the ONLY thing everyone agreed with is when my 80 year old feeble mother-in-law shouted, "Sarah Palin an idiot!" In a multi-generational gathering of 30 rural Ohio Republicans, Mom was almost applauded at the dinner table. From the men who were in the garage drinking beer and frying the turkey to the wives and girlfriends who were in the kitchen, Palin is over. I was surprised to see her lose this group of FNC viewers.
I'm not surprised at all. Until proven otherwise by Law & Order's Jack McCoy, I maintain most Americans, even Republicans, are still mostly sane.

Drawing owls


On the above image, Ben Casnocha writes:
"I believe a key reason so many people on the road to mastery call it quits is not because drawing a beautiful owl in pencil is superhumanly hard. It's because they thought it would be easy."
Kinda reminds me of what too many Americans expect of democracy and the notion of change. As Obama knows, it ain't that easy. And as the Founders knew, it never would be. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sound smart, stay stupid

‘TIS THE SEASON, and with it has come something really dumb: A slew of online guides offering how to sound smart at your holiday dinner table without actually being smart.

With turkey leg in hand, you too can win arguments or showcase your inner Marcus Aurelius without knowing anything, the guides promise. Best of all, if you memorize their cheats, you can finally go mano-a-mano with crabby Uncle Ernie, and make him cry like a little girl after you slam-dunk his opinionated butt in political debate.

Somebody dissing Obama? Just say: “Obama is just like Bush—no, not that one.” Play up his similarity to H.W., advises the Daily Beast guide. “Democratic relatives will find you thoughtful. Republicans will be encouraged.” OOH AHH. Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires! Uncle Ernie shouts, flecks of gravy flying. You say: “Actually, Afghanistan's history has seen little BUT empires.” Then, as the Foreign Policy guide advises, dazzle ‘em with this. “For 2,500 years it was always part of somebody's empire, beginning with the Persian Empire in the 5th century B.C.” Oh SNAP! Is that a tear in Uncle Ernie’s left eye? OOH AHH.

All of this, of course, is merely a variation on a pop cultural theme plaguing us for some time: It’s all about me – this time as in: damn don’t I sound smart? And sure, the sundry Brains for Dummies guides are fun and (I hope) harmless. Besides, copious reading, learning the issues, arriving at independent conclusions through study and staying informed is for losers, right?

Collateral Damage

What I wrote on Twitter:
"The errand elbow hitting Obama’s lip causes media brain injury which causes endless bad puns which causes pain to us all."
Rather amazing how much you can sometimes say in 140 characters or less. It’s pretty much the same ground I covered in my previous post.

Puns at the ready

THIS morning, President Obama was out doing what a great many of his fellow citizens were not: exercising. During the course of a vigorous basketball game, an errand elbow hit him in the lower lip. Per CNN, 12 stitches were required to repair the minor injury. It’s a worthy jock wound. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama and us, it’s also breaking news. Therefore you’re going to hear every bad pun in the book about the First Lip for at least one news cycle. Expect penetrating media questions like: Will the player who delivered the blow get a presidential pardon? This will be followed by a cavalcade of bad one-liners from the late-night comedians. (And lest we forget, there’s still time for SNL to slip in a skit about it.) This, in turn, will be followed by a slew of editorials, op-eds and blog posts using the incident as a metaphor for [insert your favorite subject or grievance]. It is as predictable as the day is long. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat this post.

Shop & Awe

I LOVE the holiday season, except for all the shopping (and the lack of snow here in Phoenix). Yet, the capitalist in me knows the national economy needs a big boost this year from all of those shopped & awed Black Friday consumers. So I'll mute my annual rant about the perils of rampant consumerism and the media’s symbiotic complicity in it. Instead, I’ll just say remember humorist Bill Bryson’s first rule of consumerism as you go forth and spend: Never buy anything you can't make your children carry.

One Thing I'm Thankful For

“That, in an intensely volatile period at home and abroad, Barack Obama is president of the United States.” (Andrew Sullivan)
I’ll second that.

Behind Black Friday

So how did the term “Black Friday” originate? Wary cops, apparently.

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explains:
"In days of yore — think pre-2005 — retailers fired a salvo of price cuts on the Friday after Thanksgiving and shoppers raced to spend billions on holiday gifts. The day was originally nicknamed Black Friday by police officers who dreaded the traffic jams, bumper thumping and misdemeanors that arise when so many people converge on shopping districts and malls."

"Eventually the term came to describe the start of the period when retailers see profits for the year and a kind of retail gluttony so divorced from the true spirit of the season that it made all but the most benumbed consumers feel conflicted, if not ashamed, of the excess."
Sounds about right.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Living Thanksgiving

JOHN F. KENNEDY once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Somewhere in this great landmass we call America, there are indeed a few folks doing just that – living Thanksgiving Day rather than just enacting it. Whether individually or with friends or family, there are a few among us who are not consumed with the holiday gluttony of turkey dinner, football and Black Friday. A few among us will contemplate the sheer abundance Providence has bestowed on America. A few of us will spend this day in quiet gratitude, awed by our good fortune. And perhaps that is enough. For as long as a few among us appreciate Thanksgiving’s true meaning, it mitigates the fact that most of us have long forgotten it, as we over-eat today and elbow each other at the mall tomorrow. Still, as author Ellen Orleans wryly put it, it is a “miracle that the concept of giving thanks even surfaces at all.” I guess that, too, is something.

An old-fashioned Thanksgiving

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” (Jon Stewart)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chowing down in 1621

SO, what did the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans eat on that storied Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Massachusetts? The actual menu, alas, is lost to history. But according to Harvard professor David D. Hall (and most historians), the gathered folk ate venison, Indian corn, fish – and wild turkey, a fowl species that “Pilgrim Edward Winslow reported were accumulated in abundance just before the celebration,” said Professor Hall.

We’re bored. Let’s flog Mrs. Obama.

POLITICO specializes in vapid, incendiary articles that history will quickly consign to its famous ash heap. Today, it castigates Michelle Obama at length for not remaking the White House into “Camelot.” Never mind that America is not even aware of the issue. But hey, let's throw rocks at Michelle anyway. "Because of the campaign, people expected Obama and the first lady to revitalize some of the glamour of the White House and bring Camelot back to Washington," a Princeton professor tells Politico without a scintilla of evidence. “There has been no attempt to reach out to people they don’t see as their people,” sniffed the unnamed wife of a “senior official” outside the White House inner circle (gotta love this sourcing). So, what is the point of the article? Simple: The Obamas are snobs who don’t give enough soirees for the Washington elite, the only "people" obsessing over Camelot. The horror.

Playboy’ed

WHEN are politicians going to learn that the moment they leave their homes, every movement, utterance or gesture is being recorded by some device in some manner somewhere? Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) is the latest dunce who has not learned this lesson. Per the Detroit News, the congressman was caught reading (the paper said “ogling”) the August edition of Playboy magazine on a flight back to DC. Some jerk recorded it with his phone video camera. And what on page did Conyers linger? Oh, just the one featuring two hot lesbian babes getting’ it on. And now the whole world knows. The good news: Conyers, 81, isn’t bashful and, apparently, could care less about the kerfuffle.

Thanksgiving thought

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." (Edward Sandford Martin)

Deep thought

WOULD Sarah Palin still exist if the media suddenly stopped its incessant chatter about her? (Hint: No.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is the apocalypse nigh?

A HIGH SCHOOL student interviewed by the New York Times remarked: “I know I can read a book, but then I’m up and checking Facebook. Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”

No Conduit to Kick Condit

THE media’s disappointment is palpable. They so wanted to resurrect the Gary Condit Murder/Sex Narrative in the just completed Chandra Levy murder case. Condit was the congressman who admitted to an affair with Levy but, to the media’s chagrin, had nothing to do with her murder. But during the summer of 2001, it was all Condit all the time with all fingers (wrongly) pointing at him. Then came 9/11, and the story vanished. Thanks to the recent conviction of the real murderer, the media thought it could drag Condit back into the spotlight for another flogging -- you know, for old times’ sake and more ratings. But the public – too busy obsessing over airport groping – didn’t bite. All of which left Condit asking, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" Too late, dude, the media threw you under the bus long ago. Just be glad the “reverse gear” is disabled. Otherwise they’d gleefully back up and run you over again, and again and again.

For America, 1 + 1 = 6

TIME MAGAZINE columnist Joe Klein is deeply frustrated. And he feels President Obama’s pain. He says America wants stronger airport security, but no pat-downs. So which is it to be, greater security or greater liberty? America is appalled at the big deficit, but recoils at higher taxes. OK, so what’s it going to be, higher taxes or fewer services? I say it’s time to do the math, America. No matter how you slice it, 1 + 1 still equals 2. So which is it to be America, reality or magic?

It’s neck-and-neck!

REMEMBER President George H.W Bush’s glorious second term? No? How about your fond memories of 41st President Michael S. Dukakis? Don’t recall those either? Good, because it never happened. But a year or two out from Election Day, each man was predicted to win big. Now, in a frenzy of poll stories, we’re being told (over and over and over) Mitt Romney is edging out Barack Obama in the 2012 race, an election two years away (and in politics, that's like two centuries from now). Never mind that Mitt’s lead is 1 percentage-point and within the poll’s margin of error. The same poll shows Obama beating Sarah Palin by 8 points. That’s wrong, too. If it really came down to Obama v. Palin (and it won’t), Obama would likely win by 50 points at least. Run Sarah Run. I dare you!

Audacity of Nope, Not Even Close

THE easily impressionable folks at the Huffington Post gushed over impressionist Jay Pharoah’s impersonation of Barack Obama on Letterman last night. They say it was “spot on.” I say it wasn’t even close. Pharoah, an SNL newcomer, got some of the Obama’s mannerisms down, but that’s really about it. (I think Fred Armisen’s Obama is kinda lame, too.) But that’s just me. Like his politics, Obama is in the eye of the beholder. And I suppose if you want Pharoah to be Obama bad enough (and the HuffPo folks really, really do), then he will be. Anyway, here is the clip. You be the judge. Enjoy.

Journalism Lite

FOX NEWS Anchor Babe Megyn Kelly (pictured left) shared some pearls of insight about herself and her noble profession during an interview with GQ magazine. Reading it left me, well, slack-jawed.

Apparently, she was a lawyer before getting into the Fox News media racket (she loved the law before she hated it).
GQ: But you ended up hating the law?
"Well, I spent most of my time loving it, but ultimately, yeah, I hated it. The problem with the law is that it's always there. There wasn't a vacation I took over the nine years I practiced—this was back in the dark ages—when I wasn't having faxes and FedExs literally sent to me on the beach in the Caribbean. I used to go on cruises not because I liked cruises, but because it was the one spot they couldn't get you."

GQ: Why did you want to get into journalism, then?
"I thought the profession had some nobility in it, but it's also one in which you have to get your hands dirty."

GQ: You like the hands-dirty part?
"I didn't want anything that was too highbrow or elite. My dad was a college professor, and he constantly had the Ph.D. students over for these great esoteric discussions. But I wanted to be with the people, not just with the Ph.D.'s."
And "with the people," nothing says serious journalism like a sexy, come-hither look. And without a doubt, Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite are spinning in their graves.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Theater of the absurd

'SIMPSONS' MOCK FOX NEWS: During Sunday’s episode, “The Simpsons” fired another broadside at Fox News. It invented a new motto for the right-wing channel: "Not Racist, But #1 With Racists." Priceless. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Watch the clip on Hulu here.

CALLING A SPADE A SPADE: NYU Professor of Journalism Jay Rosen explains how Fox News rigs the news reporting game: "On Fox, the news exists in order to generate controversy. Controversy exists in order to generate resentment. And the resentment is what generates ratings." The trouble is, this model also applies to CNN and MSNBC.

SWINGING REVEREND-LY: The Rev. Cedric Miller, pastor of the 1,100-member Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in New Jersey, banned some members of his flock from using Facebook. It is a “portal to infidelity,” Miller admonished. Later, the good reverend was forced to confess in legal testimony that he and his wife had participated in a three-way sex affair. Miller said the swinging sometimes occurred during Bible study, and sometimes on Sundays after church. Sorta gives new meaning to the phrase “Christian Fellowship.” Read the story here.

GOP: Fools R Us?

THE biggest threat to America is terrorists armed with nuclear weapons. One way to keep this Pandora’s Box closed is to secure fissionable material, the stuff needed to make nukes. And a great way to do that is with the START Treaty – the very one Senate Republicans are blocking for political reasons. Terrifying, isn’t it? This sad state of affairs led New Republic columnist Jonathan Chait to remark, “If you die in a terrorist attack (someday), remember this moment.” I keep hoping that Republicans aren’t actually fools. But each day brings more evidence that they are. That’s terrifying, too.

Doctuh, may I have some wawtuh?

THAT'S how people “tawk” in Lauren LoGiudice’s neighborhood in Queens. “I grew up with people who could be the cast of ‘Jersey Shore,’ ” Miss LoGiudice, 27, told the New York Times in entertaining piece about New Yorkers struggling to overcome their native accents. Later, at Wesleyan University, she became aware she sounded like a member of the Sopranos. “If I had looked like Meadow Soprano,” Miss LoGiudice said, “I wouldn’t have had to worry about my accent.” Um, no, Lauren, you still would. Good luck with the whole de-Snooki-ing thing.

Predator Facebook?

Per the Huffington Post: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, warned that social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Friendster constitute one of "several threats to the Web's universality," arguing that such sites create "closed silos of content" that may threaten the Internet's status as a "single, universal information space." The man has a good point. Read the entire Berners-Lee article here.

Getting punk’d by hype

AMERICA, abetted by news media hysteria, is having a meltdown over scanning and pat-downs at the airport. Most folks are not even remotely as attractive as Jennifer Aniston or that Old Spice commercial dude. A great many can barely squeeze into their seats in coach. But suddenly they are the most worried about being ogled or groped. (I’m thinking of you, John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner.) Never mind that most TSA procedures have been in place for over 6 years. America, you’re getting played. The media is exploiting your chasteness (or whatever it is that’s being repressed) for ratings. Al Qaeda is exploiting your insecurity with its “terror by a thousand cuts” ploy. Fall prey to either, and the terrorists win.

A sad truth?

Atlantic editor/writer Ta-Nehisi Coates made this cogent observation today: “It's worth remembering that the goal of the terrorist is to terrorize, and from that perspective, they've been really successful. The terrorist would like to kill a lot of people, but exposing American strength as thin boasting will do in a pinch.” Have we really become so weak-kneed and malleable? I hope not.

Don't touch my junk. Touch his.

WRITING for the Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer takes apart Charles Krauthamer’s (pictured left) recent op-ed on TSA. She wrote: “Krauthamer is suffused with moral clarity when confronted with intrusive TSA screening procedures. What's his solution to airport security? Racial profiling. The trouble with screening procedures is ‘political correctness.’ The same TSA responsible for the ‘idiocy’ of new screening procedures is apparently smart enough to recognize a terrorist by his appearance; he's not a ‘beltless salesman,’ much less a ‘wizened senior’ (and, I guess, he is not Timothy McVeigh); he is an immediately recognizable ‘Nigerian Nut job.’” In other words, Kaminer writes, “Don't touch our junk. Touch his."

It's come to this

Jack Cafferty, CNN’s reigning curmudgeon and master of hype, reported today that 2 million people will jam the nation’s airports between now and Thanksgiving. And “I’m not one of them,” he adds gleefully.

For the poor saps that must travel, the holidays are “shaping up to be a real nightmare” thanks to TSA procedures (even though TSA has made no radical change in its procedures).

The “backlash is growing,” Cafferty warns ominously. Why even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton objects. Didja know a breast cancer survivor had “to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down?” Even a child, a child – partially disrobed, mind you – was groped by a “strange adult” (otherwise known as an innocent TSA worker.) And, god forgive us, “a bladder cancer survivor wound up soaked with urine during his pat-down” (thank you so much for that high-definition imagery, Jack).

O the inhumanity! “It's just disgraceful,” Cafferty laments, grinning.

Yes, yes, YES – Cafferty reports, a CBS polls shows 4 out of 5 Americans support the use of full-body scans. “But here’s my question to you”: Looking forward to airplane travel, full-body scans and pat-downs? (Which is like asking, do you like root canal?) “Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.” We can hardly wait.

This is what so-called news reporting is being reduced to. And to use Cafferty’s words, “It’s just disgraceful.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Waiting for Denzel

DENZEL WASHINGTON is missing in action. What's become of the brilliance he displayed in A Soldier’s Story? Where is the passion he showcased in Philadelphia? Or the superb portrayal of a complicated colonel in Courage Under Fire? Or the scary rogue cop in Training Day? Or the defiant ex-slave soldier in Glory? In recent years, Denzel has phoned it in for drivel like John Q, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Book of Eli and now, coming to a theater near you, Unstoppable. By now, Denzel is richer than God. So it can’t be the money. So where is our Academy Award winner? Bro, you still Got Game. And there’s still time to come back like The Hurricane we know you still are.

Nope, Na-uh, Not Evah

HILLARY CLINTON – who is way overrated, I think – always struck me as too much the Calculating Politician, a cynical wolverine in sheep's clothing, if you will. It is probably why I’ve regarded her with a certain tepidity, a certain wariness. That ambivalence turned into loathing during the 2008 presidential contest. I thought her behavior – guided by the Clintonian creed of winning at any cost – was appallingly selfish and reckless. Fortunately, Obama cleaned her clock anyway. My passions have since cooled, now reset back to benign tepidity, more or less. Intriguingly, Hillary told Politico she will not run in 2012 – or ever. If she stays true to her word, then perhaps I’ll consider some sort of rapprochement. But Reagan's rule still applies: Trust, but verify.

The Few. The Proud. The Problem?

THERE is an "Old Breed" of Marine officer by which modernity habitually passes. Today, they form the strongest phalanx resisting repeal of "don't ask, don't tell.” Though now laughable, the Old Breed also opposed President Truman’s 1948 order to desegregate. As a result, the Corps was the last to accept blacks into its combat ranks. Today, gay is the new black. Never mind that 60% of Marines have no problem with chucking DADT. Never mind that the first service member wounded in the Iraq War was Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, a gay Marine who sacrificed a leg. Like bad weather, the Old Breed will always be with us. Luckily, it’s not up to these Proud Stubborn Few. It’s up to the law. And as one sensible Marine officer told the Washington Post, “If the law changes, we will comply with the law. You can take that to the bank."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jetting blue

I HATE holiday flying and grumble about it annually. Princeton Prof & MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry LOVES it. “I'm surrounded by happy family reunions at baggage claim. It's very sweet,” she tweeted sweetly. Well, it’s comforting to know that some of us can find the silver lining in just about anything. And that is sweet, indeed.

Obama's War. Really?

THE other day, I noticed the Washington Post’s special website section on the war in Afghanistan. It’s labeled: “Obama's War: Combating Extremism in Afghanistan & Pakistan.” George W. Bush started it. Bush thoroughly screwed it up when he decamped us to Iraq. And Bush dropped the mess in Obama’s lap when he bade us adieu and decamped back to Texas. But it is Obama’s War. The mind reels.

Memo to Obama critics

ONCE in a blue moon, I happen upon a perfect pearl of insight. Harvard professor James T. Kloppenberg’s essay in Newsweek is such a gem.

Of President Obama he writes:
The shrill tone of Obama’s critics makes reading [Obama’s] books especially illuminating today.

Obama rejects dogma, embraces uncertainty, and dismisses the fables that often pass for history among partisans on both sides who need heroes and villains, and who resist more-nuanced understandings of the past and the present.

After almost two years as president, Obama has failed to satisfy the left for the same reason that he has antagonized the right. He does not share their self-righteous certainty.
Kloppenberg concludes with this penetrating insight:
In November 2010, President Obama remains the man who wrote Dreams and Audacity, a resolute champion of moderation, experimentation, and deliberative, nondogmatic democracy. It’s just that the distorting mirrors of political commentary in America’s fun house can make it hard to recognize him.
This country has no idea how lucky it is to have this man in the White House. The prism through which most Americans view him, the media freak show, certainly does not help. Obama isn’t the Messiah and never claimed to be. He’s just the adult in our national romper room. Professor’s Kloppenberg’s sagacity is a breath of fresh air.

Doorstops R Us

ONE morning some months ago, I nearly tripped over the bulky Yellow Pages book lying in ambush at my front door. As I was taking the garbage out anyway, I grabbed it up and proceeded to the dumpster apace.

Two of my neighbors arrived there at the same time, each hauling their own Yellow books. We all laughed at the irony. Does anyone still use these things in the Age of Google?

Of course the Yellow Pages Association says, “You bet they do!” Per Atlantic Magazine, the association (representing 400 of their brethren nationwide) reports, “more consumers use the yellow pages – 65 percent! – than any other source when searching for local business information.” "There's still a lot of value and high usage," gushed Amy Healy, the association's vice president of public policy and sustainability.

Uh huh – right.

According to the Atlantic, the Association's research revealed this pattern:
Yellow Pages usage increases significantly when people are experiencing life events such as buying a home, planning a wedding or preparing for retirement, among others. Two major demographic segments, Generation Y and Baby Boomers - which together number almost 160 million consumers, will experience many life events over the next 10 years or so, and many will use the Yellow Pages to help them evaluate their options and make a buying decision.
Continuing, the Atlantic said, “So the yellow pages aren't just for taxis and pizzas, they're really sleepers, lying there patiently, waiting for one of those ‘life events’ -- including, of course, the ultimate ride.”

Yeah, I got your ‘life event’; I got your “life event” right here, buddy.

I mean really. When was the last time you used the yellow pages for, like, anything -- beyond doorstop duty? I can’t remember either. Buying a house? Getting married? So, what, you ditch the Internet and Google for the inefficient, hard-to-use yellow pages? You gotta be freakin’ kiddin’ me. Nobody I know would do such a boneheaded thing.

I normally have a big issue with book burnings. But when it comes to the yellow pages, I’ll make an exception, just this one time. Maybe a big barn burner would convince the Corporate Yellow Suits to move their dead-tree directories fully online where the rest of us now live.

Hey buddy, got a match?

Got Junk?

The news media have discovered that males have “junk.” And they’re determined to beat it (um, the new catchphrase, that is) like a dead horse.

Unless you’ve been out to sea without a radio or wireless connection, you know that airline passenger John Tyner refused a TSA pat-down, warning: "If you touch my junk I'm gonna have you arrested."

Overnight, it became the put-down heard around the world. The media labeled the Californian a folk hero and now cannot stop touching its own journalistic junk. On Google, I counted over a hundred headlines containing some variant of “don’t touch my junk.”

Some actual headline samples:
Total Quality (Junk) Management
Week Ahead: Don't touch my junk!
'Don't touch my junk' flier is tired of fame
"Don't Touch My Junk" Rally Cry Gains Support
Tom Keane: TSA touched my junk
Is 'Don't touch my junk' the new 'Don't tase me, Bro'?
Touch his junk
Congress Should Defend My Junk
Report: Americans vastly overvalue their 'junk'
Anthem for Our Age: Don't Touch My Junk
‎Friday p-Op quiz: 'Junk' Edition
‎"Don't Touch My Junk" Goes Viral: Man Defies TSA‎
Finally: The “don't touch my junk” guy speaks
Don't Touch My Junk T-shirt designs
‎'Don't touch my junk' & other big news
‎Junk legislation: Circumcision might get banned in SF
Touch My "Junk" And I'll Miss My Flight!
T-Shirt: "Do touch my junk."
Google even offered to “Create an email alert for don't touch my junk.” Marvelous.

Men have been referring to their “junk” as “junk” for quite some time. Like our juvenile tendency to rate certain parts of the female anatomy as they parade by, it was kinda just between us guys. And like “cool,” that other overused word popularized by Beavis & Butt-head, the catchphrase “don’t touch my junk” will now get its own entry in the Urban Dictionary. Webster’s won’t be far behind.

And naturally, to make matters worse, the media frames the entire TSA debate as a choice between posing for a nude photograph or being groped by a government worker.

A Los Angeles Times editorial offered the best advice to the freaked out wankers who are obsessed with their junk: Shut up and be scanned. Or don’t fly.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What the public knows

Not much, it turns out. The good folks at the Pew Research Center just published a new survey:
While 75% identify the Republicans as the party regarded as doing best in the midterms, fewer than half (46%) know that Republicans will have a majority only in the House when the new Congress convenes in January. About one-in-seven (14%) say the GOP won both the House and Senate; 8% say they won just the Senate; 5% do not think they will have a majority in either chamber; and 27% do not know.
If you avidly follow the news, you probably know all you ever wanted to know about the midterm elections. The media covered it like the Second Coming.

But most folks have a life, god bless ‘em. In a more perfect world, the citizenry should be far more informed about the political currents that affect them. On the other hand, the bleak picture of the electorate painted by pundits and the media is obviously way off base. America is at the Mall and more worried about missing an episode of Dancing with the Stars than the gyrations in Washington.

And despite the blanket coverage John Boehner has gotten in recent weeks, a whopping 62% have never heard of him, let alone know he’s going to be the next Speaker of the House.

I find that hilarious and strangely comforting.

Shocked & Definitely Not Awed

Andrew Sullivan noted this afternoon that "Ackerman is worried about the firepower Petraeus has unleashed on Afghanistan." And, like we all do, he posted a blurb from Ackerman's piece with the salient particulars. (Spencer Ackerman is a “national security reporter” for Wired.com.)

Long story short: Ackerman is "worried" about the increased use of the M1 Abrams main battle tank (which he derides as "your ultimate in 30-year old precision firepower"). He thinks we’re replicating the “Soviet Union’s failed heavy footprint in Afghanistan” and implies Gen. Petraeus is pursuing a foolhardy strategy. Ackerman gets most of his selective “insights” from a piece written by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a superb Washington Post reporter. Per Chandrasekaran, the new armored up tactics may actually be working. But never mind. (Read Ackerman here and Chandrasekaran here, and draw your own conclusions.)

This post isn’t about military tactics in Afghanistan. It’s about Ackerman’s sweeping assertions. They struck me as na├»ve, uninformed and frankly reckless.

So, who the fuck is Spencer Ackerman?

Ackerman graduated Rutgers a year before the Iraq War began. Claim to fame: Editor of the student paper. He then went to work for The New Republic where he was eventually fired for "insubordination." (To prove his pro-war bona fides, Ackerman said he would "skullfuck" a terrorist's corpse at an editorial meeting if that was required. Impressed?) Long story short: He ended up at Wired Magazine where he contributes to its national security blog, “Danger Room.” The 20-something Ackerman is also into comic books and hardcore punk music, per Wikipedia. But hey, he was one of the blogosphere’s Young Lions, according to the Wall Street Journal. That qualifies him to teach tactics at West Point, right?

In order words, on Afghanistan and military strategy, Ackerman has no bloody idea what he is talking about. He’s playing soldier and rockin’ out to Top Gun’s “Danger Zone.” All of which explains his “shocked & not awed” piece.

Yes, I’m being a tad harsh. I presume Ackerman can read and trust he has used that skill to bone up on national security issues and military history (though the wisdom he might have gleamed from study isn’t apparent in his latest piece or the previous ones).

A word to the wise: With Wikipedia, it is easy to check the “bona fides” of the established journalists you regularly read, particularly the armchair generals claiming expertise on topics like national security. Ackerman is probably not a bad fellow, skull-fucking notwithstanding.

But I’d trust his reporting about as far as this former Marine tank commander could throw him.

A prayerful dilemma

Journalist Christopher Hitchens (author of "God Is Not Great") and funnyman Bill Maher (producer of the film Religulous) are both well known for their strident disapproval of religion.

Yet, Hitch and Maher would be hard pressed to summarize their views more artfully and succinctly than the forebear to both men – journalist and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880–1956).

On religion, the "Sage of Baltimore" wrote:
"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
However illogical religious faith may be, I suspect that even most doubters fall in line with philosopher Albert Camus who said, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.” For believers, Camus’ notion is merely added incentive to keep faith close. And the world is probably better off for it.

Of course, as Hitchens and Maher know, there is no avoiding the often overriding truism perhaps best expressed by playwright George Bernard Shaw: “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; He is always convinced that it says what he means.”

And therein has always laid humanity’s root dilemma.

1984, London-style

THIS morning, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen weighed in on the pending royal marriage between Prince William and what’s-her-name. (He thinks the royal wedding provides a timely boost to British morale.)

Cohen, a British expatriate who left England some 30 years to live and work in America, opened his piece with this interesting observation:
“LONDON — I left a ramshackle, rumpled and rather gloomy Britain three decades ago and returned recently to the surveillance state. On an average day in London you can expect to be filmed by more than 300 cameras. Eight British cities, including Wigan, have more cameras than Paris. You see them everywhere — and they see you. The omnipresence of Big Brother is scarcely an upper.”
Jeebus. I had no idea surveillance was that thick in the city the Romans called Londinium. It is hard to know whether all of this it is justified (it might be). But if the point of terrorism is to terrorize, haven’t the bad guys won at least a partial victory here?

Just something to chew upon.

An offer I can't refuse

TO PARAPHRASE Michael Corleone in Godfather III, "Every time I try to get out, SHE keeps pullin' me back IN!!"

Yes, noble friends, Sarah Palin has jumped the shark yet again, obliging me to lift my Palin Blackout if only for a moment.

Apparently Palin’s new book is due out soon. The Washington Post, which got its hands on an advance copy, described it this way: “Take a Sarah Palin stump speech, expand it to 272 pages, and you've pretty much summed up America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag."

Swell.

But that’s not why I’m bothering with this post. It’s one precious excerpt from the tome that nearly knocked me out my chair.

It seems, per the Post, Palin hates “talentless wannabes.” I kid you not. To wit:
"Did you ever wonder where the producers of 'American Idol' come up with the seemingly endless supply of people who can't sing but are deluded enough to get up in front of a national television audience and screech out a song anyway? ... These self-esteem-enhanced but talent-deprived performers eventually learn the truth."
Oh the irony. Metaphorically speaking, Sarah Palin just gave us a pitch-perfect description of Sarah Palin, and she is too clueless to realize it. If anyone is spectacularly “deluded” and “talent-deprived,” it’s her. The mind reels.

But like Don Corleone’s weariness of endless fighting, I tire of this endless waste of digital ink. And like Sollozzo, I’m a “businessman”; snarkiness is a big expense. It's enough to make me want to arrange a meeting with the heads of the Five Families. Maybe together they can put a cork in Palin’s mouth so I can stop writing about the nonsense that comes out of it.

-------------
UPDATE: A pair of tweets from a couple of hours ago. Just reinforces my arguments. Enjoy.

@SarahPalinUSA - Sarah Palin: The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn't that illegal?

@davidfrum - davidfrum: That last tweet by @SarhPalinUSA sums up in 140 characters why this person should never be allowed any authority over any police force ever.