Friday, July 03, 2009


Palin Out

Leaves the governorship in two weeks.

My hunch is that if we hear about Sarah Palin in terms of national office again, it will most likely be in 2016, rather than 2012.

Adopting the Nixon '62 line, we won't have Sarah Palin to kick around for about seven years. By then, she'll be 52 or so -- still in a political prime. The McCain campaign will be a distant memory. Her young son will be in elementary school and she'll have been able to better balance the national media spotlight and the many tugs on her time.

Short term though, you don't quit in the middle of your first and only term as governor, if you're hoping of running for president in three years.


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Open Thread

Early thread for the Fourth of July weekend. I'll be rooting for the Yanks conquering England once again: The Williams sisters on Saturday -- and Andy Roddick on Sunday.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Birds Of Pray

Reading Time magazine's special issue on Michael Jackson is a great way to get angry.

The articles and personal testimonials are all very nice, but i's the pictures that make one's blood boil. When you look at the cherubic little black boy with eyes alternately showing irrepressible joy and a hint of shyness (almost sadness) and then see the more recent pictures of him, the question screams out -- "HOW!?? How could this have happened to this person?" Even when putting the ugly molestation stuff aside, just look at Michael Jackson and one realizes how things went terribly terribly wrong.

Yes, taking note of the ridiculous excesses of Neverland and everything else, a lot of this deterioration falls on Jackson's own head: He had all this talent and allowed his own ego and narcissism to drive himself hundreds of millions into debt.

But then again, if you've turned on the television of the last few days -- or checked the stories on the Internet -- you realize that with Michael Jackson, whatever he did to himself, there were at least a half-dozen people never too far away to help him ease on down the road to damnation.

It's as vivid in the barely a week since death as it was in his life. Joe Jackson, the so-called "patriarch" of the family who, in his 80's can't let a media opportunity pass without shilling his new record company or some garbage that is being released on Blu-Ray disc. Goodness knows, if Billy Mays hadn't died a couple of days after Michael, you know Joe would have hired him to do the evening infomercial selling the memorabilia.

As horrible a man as Joe Jackson has been reported to be as a father -- the severe beatings when recording sessions didn't go right, for example -- one is tempted to give him a modicum of slack. As a 40-something black man, I'm uncomfortable judging the choices made by a man several decades my senior who -- growing up in an America with many states having Jim Crow laws -- saw the talent within his children and wanted to harness it in the best way possible to rise the entire family out of poverty. He played the hand dealt him -- and it was not done pretty.

That said, after decades of success, when he helped produce the biggest star in the world, someone who made himself and his family millionaires many times over (nearly all of which was squandered), is it really the case that his son's death is seen as just another hook with which he can gain one more buck in his dotage? His son essentially had his soul squeezed out of him -- left as a walking drained husk well before his heart gave out -- and this is the best Joe Jackson can do before his son is even buried in the ground? Just squeeze still more blood from a stone.

But this is why Michael Jackson is dead -- because those in his orbit, even those tangentially, can never subsume their own personal dramas for their supposedly beloved relative or friend. And, standing front and center, right by the rapacious Joe -- the political ministers of black America, Revs. Jesse Jackson (no relation, as much as it galls him) and Al Sharpton.

Michael's death has renewed the simmering rivalry between the political ministers and one-time presidential candidates. Did they step in to try and provide some order to the growing chaotic circus around all things Jackson? Hah! They had to become part of the show, of course! Thus, Jesse was zooming to Los Angeles within 24 hours of Michael's death to emerge as yet another spokesman to declare that the family wasn't satisfied with the first autopsy and requested another one.

Meanwhile, Sharpton held court in New York, rushing to the Apollo Theatre to take the lead in East Coast mourning. Sharpton, of course, has practice at this: He orchestrated the James Brown viewing and wake at the Apollo three years ago. In fairness, he and Brown truly were close: Sharpton's once signature pompadour hairstyle was directly modeled after the Godfather of Soul's. While he may have known Michael for 35 years, he was never quite as much an intimate of the King of Pop. Regardless, Sharpton was in California Monday before zooming back to the Big Apple to lead a cheering, dancing mini-revival memorial back at the Apollo.

For his part, Jesse Jackson knows something about gaining some personal prestige by being in the right place at the right time when a legend known as a "King" passes in untimely fashion. A late-era member of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s entourage, Jackson notoriously kept wearing a sweater stained with King's blood for days after the April 4, 1968 assassination. How the blood even got on the sweater was a point of mystery itself -- a fact that Sharpton didn't mind reminding media of some years back, when a reporter brought up Tawana Brawley between the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Regardless, Jesse has also made himself available to record a public service message to prevent overzealous fans from killing themselves over their idol's death.

It's sad. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become famous themselves, controversial though their methods may be. But are they so starved for attention that they must bask in the reflected glory of a truly tragic entertainment figure? To ask the question is to answer it.

No wonder Jesse and Al needed to rush to be in front of microphones by Joe Jackson's side. Birds of a feather flock together. And vultures love to share in a tasty meal.

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Marking The Time

The aftermath of a sex scandal involving a married elected official can play out in different ways depending on the circumstances.

In some cases, like former President Bill Clinton and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the philanderer manages to save both his office and his marriage (for whatever reason the wronged spouse chooses to stay).

In other cases, like former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), the politician can lose the job but not the marriage.

And then, there's the worst of all possible worlds: Like former Gov. Jim McGreevey (D-NJ), the politician can lose his office and his spouse. Admittedly, the McGreevey affair was somewhat unusual because of his admission that he was a "gay American." Given that Dina McGreevey was female, the writing on that wall was pretty much a foreordained conclusion. The divorce four years later was especially ugly.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, however, seems hell-bent on joining McGreevey by simultaneously destroying career and marriage.

As awful as last week's press conference was admitting to his affair, Sanford went one better (i.e. worse) this week. Last time around, Sanford managed to garner some sympathy by stepping in front of the cameras and delivering a solo cri de coeur, sharing his anguish with thousands of viewers in his state and across the country. While no one could approve of what he had done, he at least seemed so honest that that one would have to be completely heartless not to feel some compassion for the man.

His wife, Jenny's statement, stern as it was -- and admitting that she had kicked him out of the house two weeks before -- also seemed filled with fair amounts of Christian charity. She made it clear that she was hoping for a reconciliation.

This week's Sanford outpouring will make that rapprochement much harder -- if not impossible.

In an interview with the AP at his Statehouse office, Sanford admitted to "crossing lines" with other women (though evidently not sleeping with them). He also admitted to at least two love getaways to New York (the Big Apple) and the Hamptons over the last year -- contradicting his assertion last week that he only met Maria Belen Chapur a handful of times in her native Argentina.

Tuesday's admissions created an opening for the South Carolina's Democratic attorney general to request a review of all of Sanford's travel records (Sanford claims that his New York getaways were paid by himself and that he paid cash for his hotel stays). That provides more ammunition to the growing number of members of his own party calling for Sanford to resign.

But, as bad as that is, Sanford may have also put the final nail in his marital coffin too. The AP reports that he considers Chapur his "soul mate", but wants to try to fall back in love with his wife. Oh, geez! So, after saving his wife from the humiliation involved of having her at his side when he publicly admitted the affair, he now has to present it to her? How could any woman take back her husband after he's declared that the mother of his four children is not his soul mate -- but he'll try to fall back in love with her any way? How does he face her now? How does he face his sons?

Sanford thinks he "crossed lines" with other women? He's crossed the line on basic human decency this time. This interview will bring him and his state even more bad headlines. That will lead to him losing whatever political support he may have had left. And then he he will lose his family too.

By the time this sad saga his over, one wouldn't be surprised if he also finds that his supposed "soul mate" decides that she wants nothing to do with a man who has clearly lost his own soul.


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Monday, June 29, 2009


Why Michael Jackson Was So $^%@#$-ed Up

The "grieving" father, Joe Jackson:

Words fail.


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