Sunday, December 22, 2013

And Now the News

Some days are more thought-provoking than others, speaking of news.

A recent Washington Post had an interesting story about an Army general who, during a high-level diplomatic mission to Russia, stayed drunk for the entire time and apparently consorted with women of doubtful mores and integrity. Whether these ladies were seeking information or money is unclear. They are described as young, comely, and eminently available. Other members of the mission are quoted as saying the general’s behavior was openly outrageous, and a few worried that the ladies in question might have been soliciting secrets rather than sex.

As a writer of fiction, I immediately see this as a ploy. The general was not drunk, merely acting that way in an attempt to lull the Russians into thinking he was a lush whose knowledge of matters hush-hush could be exploited. But the General, in truth a stolid and sober man, would use the opportunity to sow seeds of disinformation that would fool the commies.

Or maybe not.  Maybe he’s just a drunk, another one of those highly ranked military men who, lately, have been acting badly.

A second story dealt with the Republican Party’s embrace of Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the Duck Dynasty television show. Robertson looks like both members of ZZ Tops put together, which is to say not particularly attractive. He recently told us that homosexuality was a sin in the eyes of God, a step above--or below--bestiality.  So of course some the high-visibility GOP pols--think Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and such--have flocked to Robertson’s side and declared him a savior, which is pretty funny. Notwithstanding his five minutes of fame, the man makes duck calls for a living. How this makes him an expert on human sexuality is doubtful, but personally, I’ve always thought Republicans were sexually a little… repressed? So perhaps it makes perfect sense, and if Cruz is elected to the highest office, we might see Robertson as Secretary of something-or-other. Possibly Environment?

According to this week’s New Yorker, a few years ago in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights are essentially non-existent, King Abdullah issued a decree allowing female staff to work in certain stores as clerks. In 2011, the country’s Labor Ministry allowed the list of shops to include those selling cosmetics, lingerie, undergarments and wedding dresses. A year later, a group of clerics told the Labor Minister during a meeting that they would pray for his death by cancer if he did not rescind the order. Now, I’m not a man of any cloth, muslin or otherwise, but I seriously doubt wishing a man dead by cancer is anywhere in the Koran.

In other news, Daniel Snyder, the embattled owner of the Washington Redskins football team, recently flew to an insolvent Zuni Indian reservation to see first-hand the poverty there. Does this have anything to do with the movement to change the team’s name from Redskins--seen by some as slur upon native Americans--to something less offensive? Don’t know, don’t care.  But it should be noted that also in Washington, DC, is a high school football team called the Frogs, in honor of the school’s French founders.

I’m perplexed by the DC police officer who recently tried to kill his wife using a metal light fixture. It sort of bothers me that the man in question was assigned to the School Safety Division.

And last but not least, a diplomat from the world’s largest democracy (as India likes to bill itself), was recently arrested in New York for grossly underpaying her nanny and possibly lying to immigration authorities. This is not unusual within diplomatic circles. Not that many years ago, an Asian diplomat family residing near my house in Northern Virginia was sent home for having what were essentially slaves working for them. The thing about the Indian woman in question is that she is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights who was quoted as saying that “India always believes in encouraging its women…” When it’s not abusing them, I guess.

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