Asking the obvious question


Could someone please explain to me the following?

  • How is it that a known serial adulterer being accused of asking his second wife, with whom he was cheating on his first wife, to open the relationship so that he could continue to bang the woman who eventually became his third wife, can reliably count the scandal as an asset among allegedly conservative family values voters?

John Darkow, Jan. 18,  2012What the hell is happening to American conservatives? I generally speculate something about neurotic tensions at the breaking point, but my conservative neighbors think that an unspeakably evil form of character assassination.

Just what is going on in Republican America?

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How fal-awful?


Bill O'ReillyOne of the problems with the infotainment industry sector known as cable news is that it is, well, entertaining. Even when they’re not trying to be. To wit, during post-Irene coverage, a CNN anchor whose name escapes me, with a turd-under-the-nose blueblood sort of posture and delivery, was trying to cover first the people who were dumb enough to stay on outlying islands to the result that 2,500 of them are without road access to the mainland for perhaps two weeks. And then he tried to manage an interview with a woman who was among twenty-three stranded in a rural area of New York. The whole sequence was macabre.

But then there are the deliberate entertainers, the punditry hosts who raised FOX News to dominance or transformed the inept MSNBC into a GOP fundraising bogeyman. The persistent, even seemingly teflon Keith Olbermann has landed on his feet at Al Gore’s network, Current, with a version of Countdown that sounds much the same, and only looks any different as a matter of budget. And yes, we know Keith is politically active and wears his bias on his sleeve. Yes, we know how conservatives loathe him. But it’s so much more fun when he tells the latest story of FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, himself a lightning rod of such comedic scale that you can’t write this kind of fiction. Mr. O’Reilly topped yesterday’s “Worst Persons in the World” list, and Olbermann clearly enjoyed the hell out of explaining the logic behind that:

You may recall years ago before he was fired from his syndicated radio show, that a caller mentioned my name to O’Reilly and he responded by saying that the caller’s name would then be turned over to Fox security, and soon he’d be receiving a little visit from the police. You may also recall there was a little problem with Bill and one of his producers, and his phone calls to her about three-ways and loofahs, and improbably about falafels.

Today, the two topics merged into one. This is going to be easier if I just read the first paragraph directly. Shall I?

“Last summer, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly came to believe that his wife was romantically involved with another man. Not just any man, but a police detective in the Long Island community they call home. So, O’Reilly did what any concerned husband would do, he pulled strings to get the police department’s internal affairs unit to investigate one of their own for messing with the wrong man’s lady.”

Wait, Internal Affairs investigated Mrs. O’Reilly’s alleged internal affair?

Gawker has identified the Nassau County Internal Affairs Unit detective actually assigned to investigate Billo’s alleged cuckolder. “The source provided contemporaneous e-mail traffic to support his account. He told me, ‘You’ll never guess what happened to me the other day. Do you know Bill O’Reilly?’ I got called into my boss’ office saying they wanted me to meet with these two PIs”—that would be Private Investigators—”working for O’Reilly to go over some information because a detective was having an affair with O’Reilly’s wife.”

He’ll turn this over to Fox Security! He’ll be receiving a little visit from the local authorities!

“The investigation was highly sensitive for two reasons, the source said. One, it was ordered directly by then-police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, and, two, O’Reilly was at the time considering making a major donation to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a private, not-for-profit foundation Mulvey helped found in 2009 to raise money for construction of a planned $48 million police training facility at Nassau Community College. These internal affairs cops were on the case at the behest of Mulvey in order to get O’Reilly’s funds,” the source said.

Oh, great. So now it’s not trying to get the cops to get a cop to stop an alleged affair with Mrs. O’Reilly. It’s trying to get the cops to stop a cop to stop an alleged affair with Mrs. O’Reilly, in exchange for donations to the policemen’s charity. So where’s the evidence?

Unfortunately Gawker not only has records of Mrs. Billo buying her own house down the street from the family home, and being removed as a director of the O’Reilly Family Foundation, but the Nassau Police Commissioner kind of confirmed the investigation when he told them, “I don’t know if the investigation is ongoing or concluded,” Mulvey said, “so I wouldn’t comment.” You just did.

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The heterosexual family


Well, there is an upside to this grim report from the Associated Press:

A former New York City corrections officer has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his two children — one of them a toddler who was in her high chair when she was shot.

A jury convicted Everett George of murder and sentenced him Monday. Jurors rejected his claim that he was suffering extreme emotional distress and did not understand his actions were wrong.

Prosecutor Maxine Rosenthal said George killed his 1-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old brother on Nov. 24, 2004, to punish their mother for seeing another man.

At least they weren’t gay. Because then those poor kids would be screwed.

Right?

Z is for “zaftig” …


… a polite word, as I understand it, for “buxom”. Its etymology includes the Yiddish word for “succulent”.

Seriously.

Zaftig. I kind of like it. Old-fashioned, sublimely dirty, and just mysterious enough that the kids might like it.

Aah, family values.

Lesson over, right? Well, I should probably make a usage note to help you out. So a little background, first.

The word came to me via that forgotten magic medium called the radio. For those who have forgotten, the radio, once upon a time, was a useful and even important means for distributing information. Whether news and commentary, or sheer entertainment, there was a time when American families actually gathered around the radio in order to spend “quality time” absorbed in common experience. To the other, though, I should probably shelve, as being at least slightly neurotic, any glorious fantasy of quiet evenings spent with my daughter enraptured by public radio.

I mean, really. Come on.

Nonetheless, it happened that last month I happened to catch an episode of Speaker’s Forum on Seattle’s KUOW. The episode featured Michelle Goldberg, who covers politics for Salon.com, and who came through Seattle in April, 2007, in support of her book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. She gave a good talk at Elliott Bay Book Company:

So at the 2003 conference, when the abstinence educator Pam Stenzel spoke, she knew she didn’t have to justify her objection to sex education with prosaic arguments about health and public policy. She could be frank about the real reasons society must not condone premarital sex. “Because it is,” as she shouted during one particularly impassioned moment, “Stinking filthy dirty rotten sin!” A pretty, zaftig brunette from Minnesota with a degree in psychology from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Stenzel makes a living telling kids not to have sex. Rather, she makes a living trying to scare kids out of having sex. As she says in her video, No Screwing Around, “If you have sex outside of marriage, to a partner who has only been with you, then you will pay.” A big part of her mission is puncturing students’ beliefs that condoms can protect them. She says she addresses half a million kids each year, and millions more have received her message via video. Thanks to George W. Bush, abstinence education has become a thriving industry, and Stenzel has been at its forefront. Bush appointed her to a twelve-person task force at the Department of Health and Human Services to help implement abstinence education guidelines. She’s been a guest at the White House and a speaker at the United Nations. Her non-profit company, Enlightenment Communications, which puts on abstinence talks and seminars in public schools, typically grossed several hundred thousand dollars a year during the first Bush term.

At Reclaiming America for Christ, Stenzel told her audience about a conversation she’d had with a skeptical businessman on an airplane. The man had asked about abstinence education’s success rate, a question she regarded as risible.

“What he’s asking,” she said, “is ‘does it work?’ You know what? Doesn’t matter. ‘Cause guess what? My job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public school’s job should not be to keep teens from having sex.”

Then her voice rose and turned angry as she shouted, “Our job should be to tell kids the truth!” And I should say that up ’til then, I agreed with her. But here’s what she means by the truth:

“People of God,” she cried, “can I beg you to commit yourself to truth? Not what works, to truth! I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day, I’m not answering to you. I’m answering to God.

“Let me tell you something, People of God, that is radical, and I can only say it here,” she said. “AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy! I will not teach my child that they can sin safely!”

The crowd applauded. Of course, Stenzel isn’t just teaching her child.

Family values, indeed. Gather up the kids and have a post-pomo throwback to the glory days of radio. Or maybe put the kids to bed and fire up a joint before listening to this one. It might actually help.

Anyway, Z is for zaftig. Go on. Impress your friends with the new word you learned today.

What? I had to look it up when I got home. And judging by the puzzled looks I’ve been getting as I play around with the word, I don’t feel stupid for having to. So neither should you, if you’ve never heard it before. In fact, if you already know this word, consider yourself either smart or old. Maybe both.

Seriously. I’m just glad the explanation didn’t involve any crippling moral dysfunction.

Oh. Right. Sorry. My bad.

GOP front-runner?


Georgetown University’s Chris Cimaglio offers one of the better summaries of the challenges facing the GOP presidential candidates. A highlight:

Despite his record as a cross-dressing, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani wants you to know that he’s really a staunch conservative. He misses no opportunity to assert that he cut taxes 23 times as mayor of New York and exploit his reputation for leadership on 9/11 by reminding voters that he’s for torturing terrorists, terror suspects, anybody who looks like a terrorist, and the guy who looked at him funny on the street. Giuliani has apparently detained truth indefinitely as well. He is so shameless in his desire for the presidency that he has thrown his moderate credentials out the window in favor of ultra-conservative bluster. While his dramatic ideological change might not bother some conservative voters, Rudy will have more trouble covering up the fact that he married a woman he thought was his third cousin and was then stunned to discover that she was, in fact, his second cousin. He then proceeded to cheat on his second wife and move his girlfriend and future third wife into his house before his second wife moved out. As a result, Rudy’s children don’t speak to him and his daughter supports Barack Obama. Party of family values, indeed.

Mind you, none of this makes him, fundamentally, a bad guy. Not knowing who he was marrying? Some would say that is every guy. And it is, except it means something different in that context. Exploiting a terrorist attack for political gain? Is exploitation not the American way? Certes, except Hizzoner is now asking to be president, and if the last fifteen years of GOP attack dogs accusing character issues of damn near every Democrat they could find have not explained the expectations to Rudy, what good could that do him?

And, like, the cross-dressing thing. That should not be much of an issue, except for the fact that, as with his history on abortion, gay rights, and gun control, Hizzoner is supposed to be a Republican. The GOP has spent so much bluster trying to push homosexuals back into the closet that, yeah, the cross-dressing thing could be problematic. And, besides, who really wants to think of Rudy Giuliani in lingerie? The only thing I can think of that would be more disturbing is, well, yeah. Marv Albert. In … er … lingerie.

Damn.

Sorry.