The mere fact that both Sarah Palin and her grandson’s father Levin Johnston are both getting reality shows says more about the transformation of American politics into pop culture spectacle than we ever could. So we’ll just have the MSM speak for itself, courtesy of Newsweek.com.
Monday’s shocking revelation for most people wasn’t that Menudo singer Ricky Martin was a “fortunate homosexual,” but that the 90s pop icon was coming out of the closet now, years after his turn in the American spotlight. Then we found out he was pitching his autobiography, and that made a little more (business) sense. But there was at least one person for whom Martin’s sexuality was a total “surprise”: as Stephen Colbert said on his Comedy Central program, “I knew he was livin’ la vida loca…just not that loca.”
We hope that Colbert’s producers can convince Ricky to come on the program for an interview…we’d love for an excuse to see Stephen in that belly-shirt again.
It’s clear that his wife Michelle has the makings of a fashion icon, but who would have thought that Barack himself would be Rwanda’s not-so-resident fashionisto. Well, move aside Justin Timberlake, William Rast may be losing sales to Obama Jeanswear, spotted earlier by a travel writer on location in Rwanda.
Mark Seal’s “The Temptation of Tiger Woods” piece in the new issue of Vanity Fair provides just as many down-and-dirty details as you’d expect from a Tiger exposé at this point. There’s the revelation that members of Tiger Wood’s inner circle didn’t just know of his affairs, they helped cover them up. There’s the depressing accounts of Earl Woods‘ alleged womanizing and bouts with alcoholism. And, there’s this, which takes the cake for “most sordid detail nobody really needed to know about.”
But a detail that almost gets lost in the shuffle is the connection between Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, and the effect it may have had on Woods’ moral compass:
“When Tiger showed up in Vegas, he was always with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley,” according to Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke. Years earlier, however, John Merchant had warned Woods to avoid Jordan and Barkley, saying of Jordan, “Stay away from that son of a bitch, because he doesn’t have anything to offer to the fucking world in which he lives except playing basketball.”
There is very little evidence given in the preview of the story that MJ gave Woods advice of any kind regarding his extra-martial affairs. There isn’t even any evidence that he knew about it at all (although this Fox News headline would have you think differently).
But it could signal the beginning of a more startling event: the taking off of the kid-gloves regarding the media’s relationship with Jordan. It’s no secret that Jordan has his dark side: problems with gambling, alleged infidelity, and an uncomfortably competitive disposition that made him the best player on the court, but kind of a dick off of it. Very rarely is this side of Jordan discussed, largely because of the media’s reluctance to cast the most important basketball player of all time in a negative light.
The piece also raises questions about Jordan’s almost-appearance at Woods’ famous apology press conference. Was he hoping to head off some negative press? Did Jordan, the ex-most-famous-athlete on the planet still living in the fast lane, help build up Tiger’s false sense of “entitlement” regarding the dicier trappings of fame?
Luke Russert was paneling with David Shuster earlier today, in what may have been the most shameless (and yes, sadly, entertaining) moments on cable news thus far this week. Taking off on a Daily Beast feature ranking the top political sex scandals in recent history, Russert took a decidedly sporty style to analyzing what makes a political sex scandal interesting and who has suffered the most political shame: Democrats or Republicans. Video of the sophomoric and salacious video below:
Yes, we accept the irony in criticizing the very video that we are publishing ourselves. That’s just the way we roll.
Did you wake up this afternoon in a room you didn’t recognize, surrounded by used drug paraphernalia and with an email from Sting in your inbox? For once, chances are you’re not an aging groupie— just a member of the Drug Policy Alliance. The legendary musician went on the offensive today against the War on Drugs and sent a friendly note of support to every subscriber to their newsletter (and publishing the letter at the Huffington Post).
Sting has been vocal about his support of marijuana legalization before, mostly praising the positive impact he believes marijuana consumption can have on a person’s life. This email, however, is specifically targeted towards ending the War on Drugs and the violence of the illegal drug trade. “Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned,” he writes, “People who genuinely need help can’t get it. Neither can people who need medical marijuana to treat terrible diseases.”
It’s also specifically targeted towards… you. Note that subscribers actually got an email from “Sting,” who also happens to be the webmaster at drugpolicy.org, apparently. For drug legalization advocates, waking up to a “personal” letter from Sting must resemble the adrenaline kick that comes around 3:30 PM every day when the apocalyptic Glenn Beck radio newsletter arrives, except it only happens once in a lifetime. Enjoy it while it lasts!
For the few of you that somehow aren’t on the Drug Policy Alliance email newsletter, here’s the full text of the email:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sting <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:37 PM
Subject: Let’s End the War on Drugs
Whether it’s music, activism or daily life, the one ideal to which I have always aspired is constant challenge — taking risks, stepping out of my comfort zone, exploring new ideas.
I am writing because I believe the United States — and all of us — must do precisely that in the case of what has been the most unsuccessful, unjust yet untouchable issue in politics: the war on drugs.
The war on drugs has failed — but it’s worse than that. It is actively harming our society. That is why ending the drug war is a matter of social justice. And it’s why I hope you’ll donate to the Drug Policy Alliance today.
Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned. People who genuinely need help can’t get it. Neither can people who need medical marijuana to treat terrible diseases. We are spending billions, filling up our prisons with non-violent offenders and sacrificing our liberties.
For too long, the war on drugs has been a sacrosanct undertaking that was virtually immune from criticism in the public realm. Politicians dared not disagree for fear of being stigmatized as “soft on crime.” Any activist who spoke up was dismissed as a fringe element.
But recently, I discovered just how much that’s changing — and that’s how I came to speak out on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance. Join me in supporting them with a donation today.
I learned of DPA while reading what once might have been the unlikeliest of places for a thoughtful discussion, the Wall Street Journal.
It featured an op-ed that dared to say in print — in a thoughtful, meticulous argument — what everyone who has seriously looked at the issue has known for years: the war on drugs is an absolute failure whose cost to society is increasingly unbearable and absolutely unjustifiable.
Their work spoke directly to my heart as an activist for social justice — because ending the war on drugs is about exactly that.
To me, it all adds up to a clear message of exactly the sort I’ve always tried to heed in my life: It’s time to step out of our comfort zone and try something new.
That’s where DPA comes in. Their focus is on reducing the harm drugs cause rather than obsessively and pointlessly attempting to ban them.I hope you’ll assist their work by donating today.
I’m partnering with DPA because they champion treatment, advocate effective curricula for educating young people about drugs — and from local courtrooms to the Supreme Court, they are utterly relentless defenders of the liberties that have been sacrificed to the drug war.
Now, political conditions in Washington seem finally to be aligning in favor of profound change in drug policy. But success is far from guaranteed. We must all work to ensure this issue becomes a priority and is acted upon in a meaningful and sensible way.
That’s why I hope you’ll join me in becoming a member of the Drug Policy Alliance today. We are building a movement that will put the team at DPA in a position to take maximum advantage of the political changes in Washington while continuing to fight for sanity in drug policy across the nation.
Everyone knows the war on drugs has failed. It’s time to step out of our comfort zones, acknowledge the truth — and challenge our leaders … and ourselves … to change.
This Tiger Woods story from December just refuses to skulk away in disgrace. The morning greeted us with a new Tiger mistress exposé in Vanity Fair and a New York Times Opinionator post evaluating the damage Woods has done to America. Even if Robert Wright is right about the Tiger story incinerating American culture, no one wants this story to die more than Tiger Woods, which is exactly why we should keep writing about it.
The Vanity Fair article is straightforward, sleazy and, if you’re into that sort of thing, wildly entertaining. The Opinionator piece is a thoughtful conversation-starter questioning what message it would send American children if Woods managed to come out of this scandal a golf legend having only to give up a couple of million dollars (not all that much for Woods) and an hour with Oprah Winfrey. “Does redemption that comes easily, without major atonement, send a message that transgression is no big deal, and wind up encouraging self-destruction?” he asks. The answer is yes, it does, but just because Woods is trying to avoid to spotlight doesn’t mean it has been– and will continue to be– a difficult experience for him. And the media is mostly to blame for that.
Tiger Woods was not a compelling human being before his sex scandal and even given the most interesting narrative a mundane person could get, a bout with “sex addiction,” he is still generally uninteresting. Even his mistresses are only remarkable in number, not style. But sex sells no matter how boring the participant, so media outlets are keeping the ball rolling for as long as they can cash in. They are, however, also indefinitely prolonging Woods’ public shame and misery, and the longer that goes on, the more of an example he becomes for public figures who consider behaving badly.
To think the psychological consequences of being the laughingstock of a nation will be lost on someone whose only focus in life (besides the waitresses) was his career is a bit short-sighted. From the comfort and anonymity of our computers, of course being a topic on The Insider for four months doesn’t exactly sound like a prison sentence, but it’s nothing to scoff at, either. Woods lost all of his public dignity literally overnight– more than enough to drive anyone insane. His transgressions, however, are grave enough to merit that and much more, and it’s the responsibility of the entertainment industry he works for to hold him accountable. Unfortunately, that means the Vanity Fair article won’t be the last of it, and the light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere in sight, but America will just have to suffer right along with him.