The Remnants of a Rotten Week

It’s been a rotten week in America and the hits just keep on coming.  As the weekend looms, I look forward to taking some time out to hunker down with smart friends, suck on a bottle of gin, and brood.

Let’s take a look at the issues of this past week in no particular order:

Just after three o’clock yesterday afternoon, regular television programming was preempted with a “breaking news” banner – you know, one of those hyper-dramatic interruptions that cause a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach?  One of those nerve-jangling attention-getters, accompanied by intense music and a theatrical voiceover normally reserved for world-changing, historic moments like the Kennedy assassination or the death of a sitting Pope.

This disruption of daytime television announced that The Artist Formally Known as Prince had been found unresponsive on the greasy floor of an elevator at his mysterious compound known as “Paisley Park” somewhere on the outskirts of Minneapolis.  He was 57, and without question a true icon of music whose talents influenced popular culture and entertained us all.

Now, the death of anyone is regrettable and this is a terrible loss.  I won’t begin to diminish the impact these things have on a certain segment of the population who are moved to hysteria and the rending of garments whenever certain personalities pass away in this country.

But, just maybe, hard news outlets in this country should realize that there is a larger population to whom the other news of the day is equally important.

In the wake of Michael Jackson’s death several years ago, media outlets took heat for their wall-to-wall coverage that some felt pandered to a “Cult of Personality” – guess it fell on deaf ears.

It concerns me whenever all three television networks and every international cable “news” outlet in the Free World come to a hard stop to run looping tributes to a pop singer – or other “celebrity” – virtually to the complete exclusion of all other news and critical information.

After all, they built the 24-hour news cycle – the everything, all the time reportage that the American public has been forced to consume in a manner not unlike trying to drink from a three-inch fire hose since Teddy Turner flipped the switch on CNN.  Full-bore, baby.  Now, feed us our goddamned news.

Is it me, or is there something slightly lessening about watching trusted journalists wiping tears and whipping middle-aged fans into a frenzy of gut-wrenching grief, using terms like “transcendent” and warning that “the world will never be the same” while the strains of Raspberry Beret waft hauntingly in the background?

I’m just saying that I don’t believe Prince’s death – tragic as it is –  warrants the scale of coverage that we’ve seen, non-stop, since the news broke yesterday.

I mean, doesn’t anyone care that Kelly Ripa walked-off the set of “Kelly and Michael”? Can we get our priorities in order?

Perhaps during this orgasm of public grief and horror that has overtaken the nation like a shroud we could also take just a minute to reflect on the loss of former Arizona Cardinal-turned U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman who died in Afghanistan ten years ago today.  Or maybe we could contemplate the contribution of the thirty-three law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty in this country since January 1st – true community heroes who have been taken from us and their families without a single fucking word of acknowledgement from our President.  Despicable.

But I suspect we’ll see more kick-out-the-jambs “All Purple, All the Time” coverage through the weekend – unless Donald Trump comes up with a catchy new adjective to describe Ted Cruz – or John Kasich does us all a favor and schleps home to Columbus. . .

(That, you can interrupt Live! With Kelly and Michael!” for.  Please.)

Speaking of failed presidential candidates – we also learned this week that Senator Lindsey Graham has “put on hold” legislation that he co-sponsored with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions that would open the door for victims of the September 11th attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for their suspected role in the worst act of terrorism in history.

On Tuesday, Sen. Graham told reporters that he took the action to block his own bill amidst fears that the legislation could open the United States to retaliatory lawsuits due to the acts of individuals or allies acting on our behalf.  Bullshit.

Unfortunately, Sen. Graham’s pull-back came at the same time the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began issuing harsh threats to sell off $750 billion in U.S. Treasury assets if the law passes – an action that could severely weaken our recovering economy.

There was a time in this country when direct threats of economic retaliation would have resulted in a behind-the-scenes ass kicking that wouldn’t soon be forgotten by any tin pot monarch stupid enough to raise their hand against the most powerful nation on the face of the planet.

Ah, the good old days, huh?  When some asshole kicked sand on us, he got a guided missile warhead planted directly on his forehead, and he didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Why in the hell does Saudi Arabia hold so much sway over our country and our legislative system?  After all, the Saudi’s have been allies in name only, suspected of funding ISIS and other regional terrorist groups, and have completely shirked their responsibility to accept war refugees or show leadership in other crisis points throughout the region.

This is what happens when a weak U.S. administration plays patty-cake rather than project strength.  I have no doubt that President Obama arrived in Riyadh with his hat in hand, bowed to the king, and fretted over how best to “clear the air” and dispel this recent “unpleasantness.”

At least Michelle didn’t disembark Air Force One in full Hijab. But then, based upon her strength of personality, I’ve suspected that she has worn the pants in that relationship for quite a while now. . .

In my view, it’s high time that President Obama and his administration get tough with the Saudi’s on this and other important issues.  Americans have a right to know why fifteen Saudi’s launched a vicious attack on our nation that took the lives of nearly 3,000 (with more first responders dying every day from illnesses originating at Ground Zero).  We have a right to know where they stand on the increasing threat of ISIS and al-Qaida (which has its very roots in Saudi Wahhabism).

The Saudi’s are a tribal people who are beginning to see the fragility of their oil-based economy for the first time, and who know, in their heart-of-hearts, that they need us far more than we need them.

It’s time for President Obama to reinforce that notion with King Salman.

On the local scene it appears the “Embry-Riddle Fifteen” aren’t going anywhere.

In a pointed and very well-written retort to the administrations tepid response to student and alumni demands for increased transparency by the Board of Trustees, the former Student Government Association representatives let everyone know that ERAU Potentate for Life Mori Hosseini has overstepped his bounds.

The tipping point appears to be naming rights to new construction on campus, a place which Chairman Hosseini has micromanaged like a feudal lord for years.  In their very well constructed response, former SGA President (’06) Sara McCook let everyone know that slapping Mori’s name on the new Student Union isn’t necessarily a done deal:

“We acknowledge that Mr. Hosseini has contributed greatly to Embry-Riddle over the years. Indeed, his assistance in the securing of several million dollars in state funding, as discussed in the Board’s response, will surely aid in Embry-Riddle’s expansion. As chairman of the Board, Mr. Hosseini deserves to take pride in the acquisition of this historic state grant, as it is exemplary of his ability to serve.”

 “However, this funding is a grant of taxpayer dollars, and that must not be confused with private philanthropy. Embry-Riddle cannot afford to accept good deeds in lieu of major gifts. Someone with the privilege of serving as chairman of the Board should be expected to deliver such benefit in the course of his or her duties, without any expectation of reward.”

 Well said, President McCook.  Speaking truth to power isn’t easy – but it demonstrates true leadership and, in the end, is the only way to truly ensure positive and lasting change.

That’s it for me.  Have a great weekend everyone.

     

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