Wha’ Happened This Week. So You’re Never LATE TO THE PARTY.
1. You know what this country needs? A good sex scandal to distract us from the post-election finger pointing & the wreckage left in Hurricane Climate Change’s wake. But wait! Why have just one when you can have A HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN sex scandals?!! Mmmmm, yeeeesss.
Oh, man. This week saw a military hero’s fall from grace worthy of Greek tragedy — though not as cathartic — when 4-star General-turned-CIA-director-turned-former-CIA-director David Petraeus resigned his post amid revelations of an affair he’d had with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a brawny-armed ex-cadet who tends to overstate her credentials. And, not to be outdone, additional taintings of reputation due to inappropriate sexy-time emerged this week from such suggestive hotspots as the food industry, Big Bird’s ‘hood, the BBC, Tampa’s party scene (okay, maybe that one was a little suggestive), and an Air Force base in Texas called Lackland where abuse of power apparently runs through the water supply (so far: 8 commanders and up to 50 victims of sexual assault). You guys, that’s a lot of penises. Of course, some of these “sex scandals” involved consenting adults who suck at the fidelity part of marriage (General Petraeus and his biographer-lover are both married to other people, at least for the moment) while others of these scandals involved non-consenting employees, lower-ranking soldiers, or children forced into harrowing situations by their superiors. All sex scandals are not created equal. (Some merely deserve an Obama forehead touch of quiet distain.)
But regardless of their nature, or when the objectionable events transpired, the laundry’s all comin’ out of the hamper now — now — in the relative calm after the crazy election maelstrom, as we sit back, take stock, and eye warily both the fiscal cliff, and the Christmas decorations beckoning us to buy. (At least those of us not threatening to secede from the union). Is there a connection? Are we (the public, the media) looking for a cotton candy distraction, or are we actually trying to better understand our world — and this just happens to be our world? Certainly a plethora of smart writers have taken the opportunity to step back from the “Real Housewives of Petraeus” show to ask the bigger questions, like what makes an otherwise careful man careless? And what does privacy mean in the internet age? And what is it with Americans’ immaturity around sex and politics? Well, as Jack Shafer at Reuters suggests, our collective interest in these scandals may not be puerile. We’re actually eating our vegetables; we just like how they taste —
“Political sex scandals have a way of engaging an otherwise apathetic public in substantive coverage about the workings of the criminal justice system, the misuse of political power, and American prudery. Already the Petraeus scandal has schooled a naïve nation about proper email hygiene, the internal workings of the FBI, lax military discipline, computer privacy issues, and the loose handling of classified information. And this scandal has been in the wild for less than a week…”
And I love this too — he says that sure, we can all sort-of-in-theory try to grasp the above civics & legal lessons in the abstract but nothing makes ’em hit home like some walking, talking examples of what not to do: “Like the Bible, they [members of sex scandals] educate us about our sordid, sinful world by wrapping it up inside intelligible narratives.” For a cheat sheet on the salacious narrative, this flow chart beats anything else on the internet, ever.
But also, can we be blamed for gawking a little bit? Once five people became implicated in the ever-growing Petraeus affair, it was a LOVE PENTAGON, for God’s sake! I mean… it’s just too easy! As was this:
Heh heh. The problem does seem to be, after all, straights in the military. UPDATE: or maybe it’s just the inevitable Hollywoodification of Washington:
2. So… there’s something we might not have noticed in all the hubba hubba. Brace yourselves. The abusive relationship between the Palestinian territories & Israel, that’s all kinds of dysfunctional, has turned more violent than usual in the last few days — mostly due to the terrorist group, Hamas, that actually governs part of the Palestinian territories, exists in order to expand them (by destroying Israel), yet likes to throw its own Palestinian people under the bus. As Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Thursday “The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians… Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties… Hamas deliberately targets our children, and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children.”
The clearest, quickest, play-by-play I’ve seen:
“This is the worst flare-up of violence between Israel and the Palestinians in several years. After contending with a steady stream of missiles being fired by Hamas into Southern Israel over the course of this year, the Jewish state launched its own offensive on Wednesday, killing Ahmed Jabari, a Hamas military leader. In retaliation, the group launched nearly 150 more rockets at Israel on Thursday. The attack killed three Israelis in the southern town of Kiryat Malakhi, with rocket fire reaching Israel’s largest city of Tel Aviv.”
War is brewing (Israel’s considering a ground offensive) and this one’s not just waged in the air and on the ground; it’s waged on Twitter too. There’s a lot of confusion going around about who’s got the moral high ground here — and that’s partly because Hamas, a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION for the love of crap, is using their techniques on the world wide web as well as IRL to, it seems, deliberately manipulate the international community. As this article says, “this is the first time war has been live-tweeted.” Fortunately, when Hamas started sending around a picture of a child killed by bombing, presumably to inspire sympathy for their cause, the savvy Twitter community recognized it as an older picture from a different region of the Middle East.
Listen, it’s hard to understand the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle — I mean, it’s been going on for either a hundred years or millennia, depending on how you look at it. But here’s a pretty amazing perspective for us Americans:
And readers, please feel free to write in with anything else that’ll help. For serious.
3. Ok — something light and fun, now!! Yes, please. This one’s short ‘n sweet: we all Google. I don’t know how Bing survives (wait, Bing?). But most of us, it turns out, DO IT WRONG! If you think you’re a Google expert or you still haven’t found what you’re looking for — well, there are a billion little secrets to make us all better, faster Googlers and this article going around the internet (as you’d expect) provides a cheat sheet. Ya welcome.
Next week: a special WEDNESDAY SHMOOZE NEWS in preparation for everyone’s favorite 8-hour dinner party!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK, care of Bertrand Russell (Nobel Prize-winning British philosopher & anti-war activist):
“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”