Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bitter, Nasty & Vindictive: That’s our JOHN MCCAIN

Before you get too far into this, let me just warn you: The theme today is “Bah Humbug,” and playing the part of Scrooge is John McCain. And as much as I’d love to be able to say that he’s just old and crotchety and lovable, the best I can offer is old and crotchety. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think it is time for McCain to hang it up. Way back in 1986 the U.S. eliminated a mandatory retirement age, so as I see it, John McCain could keep playing Senator for another 20 years, depending on longevity. After all, he is 77. I do not think that should be allowed to happen.

Last Saturday, the most significant piece of civil rights legislation in decades was passed by the U.S. Senate. All of the years of gay people honorably serving their country, but dishonorably being forced to hide who they were came to an end. By the day before Christmas Eve, President Obama had signed it into law. The bigotry that clearly defined the U.S. military was voted down, not just by the Democratic majority, but by several Republicans, as well. Before the vote, here is what McCain had to say about the “danger” of allowing gay Americans to serve openly in the U.S. military:


Without trying to play dime-store psychologist, it is not difficult to see the anger that boils just below the McCain surface. Maybe the anger has justifiable roots. After all, this is a guy who is well known for having spent five years in a Vietnamese prison camp. Much of that time he was in solitary confinement. It is widely reported that he was routinely beaten while held prisoner, causing permanent disabilities. He cannot, for example, raise his arms above his head. In his later life he has battled repeated bouts with skin cancer. Just this is enough to cause a guy to feel lifelong anger.

But then there is his political career. Although he has served in elective office for decades now, he ran twice for President of the U.S. and never quite made the cut. First, he was defeated by George W. Bush in 2000. Then he was defeated by Barack Obama in 2008. His campaign speeches were described by supporters as “fiery,” and his self-labeled persona was “maverick.” If you take the time to look back at his rhetoric and his demeanor, it is better described simply as angry.

Maybe it is just that anger that has driven McCain to make some very extreme moves, and to make some rather ill-advised statements. When the Senate was about to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, McCain called it a “very sad day.” He mentioned that the American people did not support this move, even though the last poll that was done before the Senate vote, by the Washington Post and ABC revealed that 77% of Americans favored the repeal. So, for whom was that a sad day? There was an obvious disconnect between McCain’s manipulative rhetoric about marines with no limbs in veterans hospitals, and the will of the American public.

It is not the first time that McCain has demonstrated how out of touch he is with contemporary American thought. It is also not the first time he has reversed himself on major issues. In 2006, in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, McCain said, “…I‘ve had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.” In early 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen both publicly supported the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. McCain’s reaction was to publicly denounce both of the senior officials for supporting the repeal.

McCain appears to support that which is most convenient for him in the moment. For example, I am not the first one to bring up his hypocrisy as it relates to military rules. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (Article 125) makes it clear that sodomy is cause for dismissal from the U.S. Military. Since it widely assumed that sodomy is part of homosexuality, the UCMJ essentially outlaws homosexuality. But article 134 outlaws adultery, specifically sexual intercourse with someone who is married. When McCain returned from Vietnam, his then wife had been in an accident and was partly disabled. Shortly thereafter he took up with his current wife, while he was still married. Would McCain support a military that discharged him for violation of the UCMJ 134? If not, how does he justify the discharge of others who violated article 125?

I could cite many other examples of McCain’s reversal on key issues, and examples of McCain’s selective use of military and U.S. policy, when it suits him (e.g. in 2003 and again in 2006 McCain publicly supported pathways to U.S. citizenship for U.S. immigrants, but last week he voted against the Dream Act, which would enable young people already in the country to stay and ultimately achieve citizenship). Instead, let me just say this: There is a difference between being politically conservative and being out of touch with contemporary societal mores. McCain’s view of gays in the military is an outdated display of ignorance. His ill-concealed anger only serves to show that his emotions are dictating his political moves. Is 77 to old to serve in the U.S. Senate? I think not. However, a Senator of any age who fails to keep up with the morals and cultural progress of his constituency is not fit for the office he holds.

My observation is that the American people ultimately see their elected officials for what they are, and McCain, having repeatedly compromised his credibility is now the emperor with no clothes. It is not John McCain’s age that will do him in. Rather, it is his rigid inability to recognize the true will of his own constituency. John McCain was clearly positioned to be a senior statesman in the highest levels of the most powerful government in the free world. Instead, he has morphed into an angry old man, embittered by a series of bad breaks in his life. It is that persona that will sully his legacy and ultimately result in his own obscurity.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DANGER! CENSORSHIP AHEAD

Back in 2008, the United States Air Force quietly instituted a new rule banning troops from visiting any web site with the word “blog” in its URL. So, for example, if you enlisted in the Air Force, you would no longer be allowed to bring up www.GreenbergRants.blogspot.com on your computer. This was not highly publicized, but it was enforced. The Air Force published this statement at the time: "The idea isn’t to keep airmen in the dark — they can still access news sources that are primary, official-use sources. Basically … if it’s a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it’s fairly cut and dry that that’s a good source, an authorized source.”

That changed this week when the Air Force revealed it has blocked 25 news and information sites from its troops. The purpose, it explains, is to make sure that troops do not have access to classified documents leaked by WikiLeaks. One of the sites blocked by the Air Force is none other than The New York Times. Somehow, between 2008 and yesterday, the New York Times is no longer deemed “an established, reputable media outlet.” So far, the Army and Navy have not followed suit. Foreseeing a possible PR fallout, the Department of Defense (DOD) was quick to issue a statement that makes it clear this was not ordered from the DOD. Access to the 25 sites is denied on all official Air Force computers, which means troops can still access anything they want to see on their home computers, but they are reportedly being discouraged from doing so.

So, what’s going on here? One could conjure thoughts of censorship, right? Right. The Air Force has made a largely symbolic move which only furthers its image as an operation that seeks to control the flow of information to American citizens. Those citizens happen to be the very ones who voluntarily signed up to serve their country – a country that thrives on its First Amendment rights. Where’s the logic? I agree with CNN’s legal analyst, Jeffrey Tubin, who responded to the news this way: "This seems like a rather pointless protest. Our enemies can see the documents, but not those whom we trust to defend our country."

The predictable outcome here is a wave of resentment among enlisted personnel, and under-informed masses of troops. The last thing we need is to have our own U.S. military not be allowed to access news and information about the very country they defend. As of today, the Air Force has not even released a full list of the 25 sites it has blocked. We do know that the New York Times is the only U.S. newspaper on the list. Will some activist enlistees go to court based on a denial of the First Amendment rights? Will the complex Freedom of Information Act be cited in protest to the ban? Too soon to tell, but I trust there are bright, thoughtful people in the enlisted ranks who will not take this lightly.

Meanwhile, in a related story, one of the incoming Congressional Tea Party-elects. Allen West (R-FL) is calling for American news companies to be censored for running stories based on the recent WikiLeaks cable dump. He refers to the publishing of information about the whole WikiLeaks debacle as “aiding and abetting of a serious crime.” Listen to what West had to say:

Let’s review: Here is the key part of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that West seems unfamiliar with: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” I rest my case. Note to Mr. West: In the unlikely event that news organizations were to be censored, have you given thought to who would decide what can and cannot be reported, and who would set these standards? I think not. And even if you could somehow circumvent the First Amendment, who are you to decide what information is inappropriate for me?

In defending the Times’ decision to run the WikiLeaks information, Public Editor Arthur Brisbane wrote this on December 5:
“What if The New York Times in 1964 had possessed a document showing that L.B.J.’s intent to strike against North Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident was based on false information? Should it have published the material?
What if The Times had possessed documentary evidence showing that the Bush administration’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were unfounded? Should it have published the material?”
When government officials or military organizations start making noises about limiting the free flow of information, everybody loses. They lose respect and credibility because they are then perceived as practicing censorship. Citizens lose their most vital links to information that directly affects their lives. The U.S. loses the respect of other world powers because suddenly everything our country was built on is being compromised.

Brisbane summed it up best: “The Times, like other serious news organizations in democracies, exists to ferret out and publish information — most especially information that government, business and other power centers prefer to conceal. Arming readers with knowledge is what it’s about, and journalists are motivated to pursue that end.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

12 MONTHS IN THE LIFE OF SARAH PALIN

Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is a larger than life character that emerged seemingly from nowhere to become a national force of nature. I am fascinated by her rapid and turbo-charged ascent, so I paid special attention to her movements in 2010. Here’s what I saw:

JANUARY: FOX proudly announces Palin has signed a multi-year contract “to offer her political commentary and analysis across all Fox News platforms, including Fox Business Channel, FoxNews.com and Fox News Radio.” Soon after, Fox announced Palin would host a special called “Real American Stories,” which finally aired in April to dismal reviews and ratings. Prior to airing, Fox announced LL Cool J and Toby Keith would be Palin’s interview subjects. Both went public to say it was totally untrue and they had no plans to be on the show. It was an effort for Palin to gain street cred (LL) and a middle-American following (Keith) that went awry. We haven’t heard of any further Palin specials on Fox.

FEBRUARY: The term “Hillbilly Palm Pilot” enters the American lexicon after Palin uses the palm of her hand as a sort of “hand-o-prompter.” In images from a speech she delivered to an early Tea Party Convention, her crib notes are clearly visible on the palm of her left hand. This was also the month Palin defended Rush Limbaugh’s use of the word “retard.”

MARCH: Palin, an aggressive campaigner against Obama’s healthcare plan, reveals that when she was a child her family used to go to Canada to take advantage of their universal healthcare plan. "Believe it or not -- this was in the '60s,” she said. “We used to hustle on over the border for healthcare that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing, and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn't that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting healthcare from Canada?" In reporting the story on March 9, the L.A. Times put it this way: “Sarah Palin could see Canada's healthcare from her window.”

APRIL: After Evangelical minister Franklin Graham says the God of Islam is not the same as his God, and that the Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion,” the Pentagon disinvites him from their National Day of Prayer event. Palin defends Graham: "Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can't abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith?” she asks. “What a shame.”

MAY: After Arizona enacted legislation that would authorize/encourage law enforcement officers to use racial and ethnic profiling, Palin travelled to the state to stand in solidarity with its governor. At the rally, Palin claimed that Arizona’s new law simply “mirrored federal law.” And then she added, “We’re all Arizonans now.”

JUNE
: Palin, who had amassed a couple dozen ethics complaints while Governor of Alaska, got into a little legal scuffle in June. Seems her legal defense fund collected some of its money while she was still Governor, which is not kosher. A judge ruled that she had to give $386,856 back to donors. No worries though. By this time, Palin had made millions from her best selling books.

JULY: Palin invents the word “refudiate,” but…you knew that already. Did you know that same month she praised Ronald Regan for attending Eureka College in California? But, see…Reagan went to Eureka College in Illinois. Oh, and lest we forget July was the one year anniversary of Palin’s resignation as Governor of Alaska, in the middle of her term, without much explanation.

AUGUST: Back in February, Palin got mad when Rahm Emanuel used the word “retard.” She said how appalled we would all be if someone in his position used the word “nigger.” But when radio talk show host Laura Schlesinger said “nigger, nigger, nigger” on her radio show, Palin expressed her outrage at Schlesinger being “forced off the radio” for using the word. Her message to Dr. Laura: “Don’t retreat – reload!”

SEPTEMBER: The audience at ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” booed when Palin was introduced. She was there to see her daughter – “Bristol the Pistol” -- dance. That same month Palin teamed with Glenn Beck to hold a commemorative event for 9/11 in Anchorage, Alaska. Why Anchorage? Nobody knows. But the real news is that tickets for the solemn occasion ran from $65 to $115, depending on whether you wanted to sit in a “dry” section or a “wet” section where alcohol will be served. Seriously.

OCTOBER
: By Fall, Palin was busy endorsing candidates, right and left…er, uh..well…right. Our favorite? Sharon Angle in NV. You remember Sharon don’t you? She’s the one who told a group of Hispanic school kids they looked Asian. She’s the one who said a girl who is raped by her father and gets pregnant needs to “make lemonade out of lemons.” Sarah somehow saw real potential there.

NOVEMBER: Former First Lady Barbara Bush revealed she thinks Sarah is pretty, but she hopes she stays in Alaska. Sarah’s new TV show debuted… “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” Big ratings the first week would plunge deep in the following weeks. When Sarah shoots a moose, all hell breaks loose among animal rights activists. But the best is yet to come: Sarah invites Kate Gosselin and her eight kids to go camping with the Palins. Oy.

DECEMBER: Donald Trump is so freaked out about Palin he starts making noises about running for President in 2012. Rumors swirl that Todd Palin, an unemployed guy with time on his hands, may be on “Dancing With The Stars.” Comedienne Margaret Cho claims Sarah forced Bristol to do “Dancing With The Stars.” Palin claims WikiLeaks supporters hacked her computer. LA Governor Bobby Jindal claims Palin is “absolutely electable” in 2012. Sarah announces a “humanitarian” trip to Haiti with…wait for it…Franklin Graham.


That’s an awful lot of drama, if not a lot of substance, to pack in to one calendar year. Gosh, what will the new year bring? More dancing? More shooting? More support of the use of the word “nigger?” More bonding with BFF Kate Gosselin? More trips to the doc in Canada? I, for one, am on the edge of my seat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WAS IT ALL JUST A DREAM?

You have heard of the DREAM ACT, and you know it has to do with illegal “aliens.” But a quick, highly NON-scientific poll of my co-workers and friends tells me that the average American is not paying much attention to this highly controversial piece of legislation. The House of Representatives approved it and the Senate is iffy about it at best. So far, the Senate has only delayed its discussion of it until next week sometime.

In brief, here is what the DREAM ACT is about: DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. Essentially, if you are a kid who is not in the U.S. legally, you may be able to gain permanent residency if you have been here for five years before the ACT is passed, and if you serve two years in the military and go to college at a four-year institution for at least two years. All of that nets you a six year pass to stay in the U.S. Within those six years you must either earn a bachelor’s degree or receive an honorable discharge from the U.S. military. If you do not meet the requirements, the U.S. government has the option to return you to the immigration status you had before the ACT was passed.

Critics come from all directions. First, they say, if someone is here illegally, why did they not go through the necessary process to become a U.S. citizen, if they planned all along to stay? Further, some critics argue that forcing people from other countries into the U.S. military makes no sense because once they get there many
of them will not feel a strong commitment to protecting the U.S. When a version of this bill was first introduced nine years ago, our all-volunteer army was in big trouble finding enough people to serve. That is not exactly true right now, so critics see no justification. Others point to a stipulation in the bill that requires you to be “of good moral character.” According to whom, they ask? What if my interpretation of “good moral character” is more or less stringent than yours? Somebody needs to define this, they argue.

Well, the truth is it is defined by our immigration laws, but the definition only refers to what the immigrant cannot do or be. For example, they cannot be involved in prostitution, money laundering, illicit traffic of controlled substances or passport fraud. The list is very long. No felonies, no gambling, no tax evasion or alien smuggling and definitely no child pornography or polygamy, and that’s just for starters. By my count, there are three dozen such stipulations. I’m left to wonder how many born-in-the-USA 18-year-olds could measure up to all of the requirements. After all, one thing that can keep you out is “being a habitual drunkard.” How do you define “drunkard,” and would our college campuses be pretty empty if that were a requirement for 18-year-old Americans? Just asking.
Listen to the two sides make their case:

At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, I would point out that in the early 1900s when the great immigration movement was happening and thousands were coming through Ellis Island,(below, right) our country saw this as an issue of humanity, rather than one of politics. Immigrants largely left their countries to escape persecution, racial prejudice and religious intolerance, among other issues. The U.S., which was founded and nurtured by immigrants, welcomed them. We were a destination and a source of hope. The best of multiple cultures contributed to the culture that we are today.

Evidently a century can rewire our civic brains. Today a great number of Americans are afraid of illegal immigrants. Political ads from the recent election showed thugs breaking through fences in the dark of night, suggesting that this is the true profile of every person who comes into the U.S. Critics ask – and rightfully so – why shouldn’t we enforce immigration laws as they stand right now? Agreed, but if an 18-year-old kid grew up here with his parents who came in illegally, and is therefore classified as an illegal alien, whose fault is that?
Not his or hers. It is the fault of the parents and a government who was lax on enforcing existing laws. What the DREAM ACT says, in essence, is that we get that. It says that we know you did not create this situation, and we’re giving you an opportunity to stay here lawfully, but you have to meet some tough criteria. In other words, you can have your freedom, but you must earn it. That sounds pretty American to me.

I suggest we need to get over this extreme paranoia about human beings who were not born within our borders. Being born in Tijuana or Toronto or Brasil or Guatamala does not mean one is a degenerate person. Being in the country illegally at age 18 does not mean one is here simply to take advantage of government assistance, welfare or free health care. We were a reasonable nation with strong values about the sanctity of human welfare. We were highly respected as such. We are not terribly respected globally at this moment. Denying people from other nations a chance to live freely and productively and explore their own potential will do nothing to enhance our worldwide reputation.

In my book, humanity trumps politics, but it is politicians who will make this decision for all of us. So, I suggest you speak up and let your voice be heard. It’s up to the Senate now, and you need to call your senators and stand up for humanity. Not sure how to reach him or her? Click here and then click on “State” to find full contact information for your senator(s). Do it now and you could contribute to enhancing or even saving countless lives.

Friday, December 3, 2010

AT STAKE: MEDIA FREEDOM

I am continually telling journalism students that we are still in the “pioneer days” of online communication. Most of us first got online in the mid to late 1990s, when the Internet seemed very 'space agee' to us. Today, although the Internet is a significant player in all of our lives, we are nonetheless still establishing its societal standards of use. That brings me to one Julius Genachowski, the current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Genachowski evidently does not approve of how you and I are handling the Internet. Instead, he wants the FCC to regulate Internet broadband providers, much like it exerts control over network television and telephone companies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it.

Genachowski, (below, right) to his credit, wants to keep Internet providers from banning legal content. Some providers feel they can decide what is okay or not okay for us to view online. So, that part of what the chairman proposes seems to ensure our continued freedom of information. But there’s more: Genachowski on Wednesday proposed that service providers should charge customers who use the Internet more heavily than others, more for the service. He’s not real clear on why he wants to do this, but in fairness, new online movie services like Netflix are reportedly clogging up the Internet. Movies take a lot of bandwidth. In his current proposal, Genachowski calls these enterprises “problematic services,” and in his perfect world apparently providers would be able to limit how much a user can use certain services. It makes me wonder what ever happened to the free enterprise system. Do we really need the FCC to tell us how often we can use the Internet and for what? I don’t think so.

I think if there is one part our culture the government should keep its regulatory paws off of it is communication. That is why I also have some concerns about something that FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps (below, left) said this week in an interview with the BBC. He said, “It’s a pretty serious situation that we’re in. I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue, we’re not producing as much news as we did five years, 10 years, 15 years ago and we have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country.”

Really, Mr. Copps? That’s odd, because I am a news junkie, and I can tell you unequivocally that the American dialogue right now is more vigorous than it has ever been, simply because the average citizen has a voice in it. When all we had were Walter Cronkite, Huntley & Brinkley and John Chancellor, the news simply came “at” us. Now we are actually part of the process, and it feels good. Also, now we have countless outlets for information, which allows us access to multiple perspectives. Then it is up to each individual to assimilate this wealth of information. What we now have, Mr. Copps, is a mix of ideas, rather than three news directors telling us what they believe we need to know. Sounds better to me. How about you?

If I have any concern, it is simply this: A government agency that limits, controls or regulates the flow of information is not my choice as a citizen. I want the choice of news sources. I want the free flow of information. I am smart enough to determine which information is not credible. And if I have doubts about credibility, I will find more sources until I figure it out. It’s not rocket science. It’s surfing. The problem is simply that Genachowski, although academically impressive (undergrad in history and J.D. from Harvard Law) seems to be trying to impose his opinion about online information on the rest of us. I believe your opinion and my opinion are of equal importance to his. What he is promoting is commonly known as “net neutrality.” But his version of it is a clear attempt to create an online hierarchy. One might say it’s dangerous.

As for Copps? Well, Copps (who was acting FCC chairman before Genachowski) is on record throughout the last decade in opposing deregulation of media organizations. His position has been that everything possible needs to be done to prevent communications monopolies, such as one company owning multiple news and broadcast entities in the same city. I agree with him on that. But with his background in history and academics, he is not in a position to decide what is news and what is not news. He is certainly not the arbiter of information for the American citizenry, and by making statements like the one he made to the BBC, he demonstrates his lack of understanding of the proliferation of news and information available online and via other media. He showed his cards in that regard when he said out loud that we are not producing as much news as we did 15 years ago.

I would also point out to both gentlemen that there is no turning back. The proliferation of news, information and entertainment, and the inevitable blurring of lines among all three is simply what is. No amount of regulation or enforcement is going to alter that. It would be better, I believe, to allow the free market system to determine how this all plays out, and to trust in the collective wisdom of the citizenry to determine what works and what doesn’t. Two FCC officials do not a citizenry make.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

INTEGRITY IN ONE MINUTE AND 48 SECONDS

Sometimes big heroes come in small packages. Consider Graeme Taylor, age 14. In tiny Howell, Michigan (population less than 10,000), a teacher banned a student from his classroom for a full day when the student made insulting, anti-gay comments. The school, in turn, suspended the teacher, Jay McDowell, without pay for a full day. Outraged by this news, young Taylor attended a school board meeting and spoke up for McDowell. Taylor is not a student at the school, and only spoke at the meeting because of his strong feelings about what happened in that classroom. Whether you agree with McDowell's actions or not, do what I did: take one minute and 48 seconds to listen and learn from a wise 14-year-old:

Friday, November 19, 2010

HEY, TSA -- SEE ME, FEEL ME, TOUCH ME

I never imagined I could find myself in full agreement with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) about anything. After all, many sources agree that Paul has the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress since 1937. This is the guy who once opined that “95 percent of black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.” Oy. But this week, Paul stepped up, I must admit. He introduced H.R. 6416: The American Traveler Dignity Act in Congress, which essentially would bar TSA agents from touching your junk when you go through airport security. Paul said, "My legislation is simple. It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us."

Paul’s bill comes in response to the new equipment and “enhanced pat-down” methods that the TSA has instituted in airports coast to coast. (In high school we used to just call it “feeling somebody up.”) Your choice now is go through a body scanner that shows a clear outline of your entire body, including your genitalia, or opt out and receive a pat down that includes the closest thing to a prostate exam ever done in public. Reports indicate that lawsuits against the TSA are mounting, just as the pilots union has come out encouraging pilots to opt out, just so they can cause gridlock in the security lines that would then perhaps force the TSA to relent on these ridiculous techniques. Can somebody tell me why pilots need to be checked for explosives? I mean if a pilot wants to kills us on a plane, all he has to do is turn the thing into a missile and fly us into a mountain, right? What good does it do to body scan a pilot?

Then of course there are the anecdotal incidents like the one in San Diego that made national news. If you are one of the three people who hasn’t heard this story, it seems a California man refused the body scan and then told the agent, “If you touch my junk I’m gonna have you arrested.” Then there’s the cancer survivor flight attendant who was forced to remove her prosthetic breast during an enhanced pat-down.

The TSA’s published salary information for airport security screening personnel runs between $10.58 and $15.77/hour. So, we have people touching our junk who are almost on the poverty level by today’s standards. You can get this job if you have a high school diploma, pass a drug test and a background check. You may feel free to call me a snob if it makes you feel better, but just this qualification profile and educational standard alone causes me some concern. Who exactly is this person feeling my body in places usually reserved for sex partners or doctors? Are they enjoying it? I so don’t want them to be enjoying it.

The good news? This is a non-partisan issue. No politics necessary here. It doesn’t matter if you’re Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow, John Boehner or Barbara Boxer. This is an issue of privacy, ownership of our own bodies and governmental intrusion on the most extreme level. The groundswell of protest over these new procedures is simply the collective voice of the American people saying, “I will decide who touches me, and the TSA agent is not on my list.”

A New Orleans radio talk show host said yesterday morning that what this amounts to is simply that the terrorists have now won. They wanted to scare us into some sort of chaotic anarchy, and they have succeeded. Terrorists wanted to reduce us to sniveling fraidy cats, and that is just what they have done on the most humiliating level. A few ignorant extremists made it onto airplanes with explosives in their shoes and their underwear and now we are expected – by our own government, no less – to be publicly humiliated on our way to see grandma in Iowa. Even grandma in Iowa is subject to the assaultive screenings and pat downs if she travels our way. Really. In Corpus Christi it is reported that an 87-year-old woman in a wheel chair was body searched. A television reporter’s 3-year-old daughter was traumatized by an extensive pat-down.

Where does this lead us? Who’s next on the list of workers who can examine our bodies? How about the cop who stops us for speeding? Does he or she get a little stroke? And what about the people who take our tickets when we enter a football stadium? Do they get to take a little pinch and tickle? All I can say is that if you are planning to fly on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, you may want to have a little extra Scotch or pop a Valium before you go to the airport. It’s National Opt-Out Day, and that means the throngs of holiday travelers are being encouraged not to allow the security people to put them in a body screener. That means lots and lots of time-consuming pat downs, which probably means long lines and delayed flights.

And all because some idiot put a bomb in his underwear and another idiot with a modicum of power in Washington, D.C. over-reacted.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

MARK TWAIN'S CRUSH ON TINA FEY

Consider: The world’s most prestigious awards and prizes are bestowed upon the most creative individuals among us. Everything from the Academy Award to the Nobel Peace Prize is rooted in the creative spirit. So, along comes Tina Fey, whose own spirit has insinuated itself into improv, TV and movies, until ultimately she came to the realization that her true gift is writing. Last week, in a lavish evening at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Tina Fey was awarded the highest honor in comedy, The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor . She is now in the good company of such geniuses as Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal and Bob Newhart. Wow. Oh, speaking of genius, did I mention George Carlin?

Mark Twain said, “Humor is the good natured side of truth.” Maybe that is why none of us will every forget Tina Fey channeling Sarah Palin saying, “I can see Russia from my kitchen window.” Like another generation’s Elaine May and Carol Burnett, Fey gives us a window into the absurdity of what is happening right now. And she does it with such normalcy. And let’s face it – we love geniuses who don’t know they’re special. Once Fey said, “Oprah and Gayle were in my apartment, and they stayed for hours. It's like the most amazing thing that can happen to a white woman in the twenty-first century."

I think we like Tina because she embodies a new "cocktail" of qualities that work for us -- smart, hot and funny, with a dash of humility. Here now, two minutes and 17 seconds of the world according to the newest Twainee, Tina Fey:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CALL ME CRAZY, BUT…

As is the case with many other Americans, I found myself paying more attention to the recent mid-term elections than any other mid-terms I can remember. I kept hearing Republican candidates insist that government spending was out of control, and if elected, they would make spending cuts “across the board.” So, we waited for some specifics on those across the board cuts. Would they cut entitlements? Would Social Security and Medicare take hits? Would veteran benefits be cut? Would salaries for U.S. military personnel be reduced? What? We never quite got the answers we were waiting for. Now the elections are over, and the GOP emerged victorious. As you can imagine, reporters are doggedly in pursuit of information about what will be cut. But the legislators are tap dancing around the question. Listen to Anderson Cooper fight the good fight to get Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) to get specific about planned GOP cuts. The interview starts at 1:41.

NBC’s David Gregory had similar challenges getting S. Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint to spill the beans on planned spending cuts. And Christine Amanpour didn’t get any further in her efforts with newly minted Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to ante up on where the cuts would be made. Watch:

It is bad enough that our elected officials won't come clean about their real intentions, but it gets worse. Just this week the Republican Study Committee (don't feel bad; I've never heard of it either) recommended cutting a welfare program that could save us $2.5 billion every year. Oh, but see, there was just one problem. It turns out that this particular program, called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) expired on September 30. I'm thinking the Study committee needs to go to detention. What do you think?

So…call me crazy, but it appears the GOP simply told many Americans what they wanted to hear – that the budget would be balanced (although all of us know this is not possible right now); that Social Security is safe, that Medicare is safe, that veterans are safe. Who or what is not safe? If we need to cut trillions, we can’t really do that by trimming the President’s security detail, watching out for overpriced Amtrak tickets and cutting Federal jobs, which would do nothing more than drive up unemployment. And we can't save much money by cutting programs that no longer exist. Is it just me, or were we just bamboozled by some disingenuous legislators?

Monday, November 1, 2010

WHY JON STEWART MATTERS

Imagine this if you will: Crooner Tony Bennett sharing a stage with rocker Kid Rock, The Ojays, Cat Stevens (yes, Cat Stevens) Ozzie Osbourne Sheryl Crow, Sam Waterston and wrestler Mike Foley. Who could bring this disparate, diverse band of brothers and sisters together, but one Jon Stewart? And who else would be there to bolster the whole thing since it occurs in front of approximately 215,000 people, with the U.S. Capitol Building as a backdrop? Stephen Colbert, of course.

Stewart, in 2009, was named by TIME Magazine as the most trusted newsman in America. Not Brian Willliams (he was second), not Charles Gibson, not Katie Couric. Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart got 44 percent of the vote, with Williams a distance second at 29 percent. That being said, there were still a lot of skeptics offering up their cynical take on Stewart’s and Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the Washington Mall. Stewart, who helms Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” calls his brand of infotainment “fake news.” I beg to differ. If it were all so fake, why would actors and authors, pundits and politicians and even presidents fight the good fight to guest on his show?
Stewart is a pied piper of news, and at a time when citizens are collectively “over it,” as it relates to the current state of affairs in the U.S., Stewart is getting us to pay attention and raise our collective current events consciousness.

I was at the Stewart/Colbert Rally and I can tell you this: The people in the crowd were not there just for a good laugh. They were there to give voice to a desire for some sense of order in Washington, at a time when political candidates are dressing up in Nazi uniforms, denying their association with witchcraft, threatening to “take out” reporters who say the wrong thing, and telling rape victims to “make lemonade out of lemons” if they get raped by their own fathers. The crowd told the real story: Although largely white, there were young and old, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled. There was not one reported incident of civil disobedience, violence or aggressive protest.

Best of all, the attendees smartly satirized the current political divisiveness with their own brand of satire. Many carried signs that said things such as “I will not tolerate lactose,” or “I’m ambivalent as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore…I don’t think,” or “I may disagree with you but I probably won’t step on your head,” or “I masturbate to Christine O’Donnell,” or "Moderate women are hot,” or “Palin/Snooki 2012!” or “God hates figs,” or “Hitler Called – he wants his hyperbole back.” And this being the day before Halloween there were costumes…men dressed as Christine O’Donnell were common. I saw a sexy illegal alien nanny, a guy wearing mirrors that said “I’m You,” lots of mama grizzlies, Ann Coulter Skeletor, Hispanic Arizonans, Uncle Samantha, a male soldier in high heels, and…well, you get the picture.

Jon Stewart enabled us to lighten up, and yet have full awareness of all that is not so light right now in our country. Grownups got to dress up, laugh, jump, dance, sing and celebrate being Americans, rather than question our dedication to our own form of government. Not until the end of the three-hour rally did Stewart get serious for a few minutes. Watch and listen to what he said:

After listening to that, you start to get the real idea of why Jon Stewart matters. Pundits and talking heads had a judgmental field day before this rally, collectively asking, “Why should we pay attention to two comedians who decide to hold a rally?” Well, that’s a valid question, but let me ask a few questions here. Would you rather listen to Stewart say things like “We live now in hard times, not end times,” or Glen Beck, who back in 2007 said, “It feels like cataclysmic events of 9/11, Katrina, tsunami, famine and the threat of global pandemic are signs we're living in the end times.” Would you rather hear Stewart say, “We can have animus and not be enemies,” or tune in to Ann Coulter saying, “Enraging liberals is simply one of the more enjoyable side effects of my wisdom.” What makes more sense – listening to Stewart’s “The inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more,” or to fear-mongering political candidates that would have us believe that all Muslims are terrorists?

I’ll take Stewart. If you see the world through a lens that only distinguishes humans as conservative or liberal, I suppose you see Stewart as a liberal. Listening to him at the rally, I see him as a moderate. And if there is one thing sorely missing in our current political climate, it is moderation, or as Stewart called it, “reason.” It was energizing and encouraging to see hundreds of thousands of Americans gather without politically extremist rhetoric, without an undercurrent of hate, without a racist agenda and without boiling anger. So, if the satirical signs and costumes seem to compromise the credibility of the message, think again. At this rally, Americans regained some of their wit, their humor and their lightheartedness, while still demonstrating an awareness of the troubled state of the nation.

That troubled state may have best been summarized by one attendee whose big yellow sign said, “It’s a sad day when our politicians are comical, and I have to take our comedians seriously.” Amen to that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THE CANDIDATES WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHEN TO SHUT UP

If you are as tired as I am of hearing all the talking heads and self-appointed political pundits ramble on about the mid term elections, raise your hand. There may have been past election years when the choice of candidates included so many extremists, but memory fails me. The best way to really get to know who these people are is to hear exactly what they have said, rather than to hear O’Reilley/Stewart/Colbert/Maddow/Spitzer/Matthews/Gregory/Amanpour/Olberman/Mitchell/Ratigan/Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity/Cooper/Blitzer, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen “interpret” their words. After all, you’re smart enough to figure out what the candidates really mean. While you’re reading and listening to this stuff, ask yourself this: Is this who I really want representing me and managing the United States of America? Really, is it???

CARL PALADINO, Republican candidate for New York Governor, says he thinks unemployed people who are on welfare should be sent to former psychiatric hospitals and prisons where they can learn things like hygiene. Really, he said that. Paladino, a somewhat educated thug who admittedly sends out racist, misogynistic emails and who wants to repeal the ban on assault weapons in NY, is somehow just naive enough to believe that New Yorkers would have him as their Governor. Watch:

KEN BUCK, Colorado Republican nominee for Senate is running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger, even though he has made some pretty outrageous proclamations during the campaign. Just last Sunday he lumped homosexuality in with alcoholism and declared begin gay a choice, because “you can choose your partner.” Watch:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


SHARRON ANGLE, Tea Party lovechild who is running against Harry Reid for the Nevada Senate seat is the gift that keeps on giving for comics and satirists. Decidedly an all-American girl, she seems to think people believe she is Asian. Huh? Watch this video of her speaking to a group made up entirely of Hispanic students. But before you do, know that as of this morning, Angle and Harry Reid are virtually tied in the polls.Go figure:

Christine O'Donnell
, Delaware's answer to Lucy Ricardo just yesterday made the misstep of her entire candidacy. It seems the not-a-witch comic relief of the 2010 mid-years has never read the mere 45 words of the first amendment. You know -- the part that constitutionally established the separation of church and state. Right in front of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, O'Donnell expressed surprise that the amendment addressed the separation. Really. Watch:

At some point we all must step back from party loyalties, collective anger over economic doldrums, considerations of race or gender and let reason re-establish itself. That will be the moment when we allow ourselves to know that there are too many candidates this year that should not have a place in our government. Thugs and sexists and eccentrics racists and ill-prepared political wannabes notwithstanding, this is still America. And in America we have standards to uphold. So that moment that reason re-enters our electoral system is critical. Let's just hope it comes before November 2.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CALL ME CRAZY, BUT....

A few days ago, here on Greenberg Rants, you may have read a story called, “2010: Year of the Political Whack Job.” There are so many from which to choose this election season. So, should we be surprised that Ohio Tea Party favorite Rich Iott likes to relax on weekends by dressing up as a Nazi soldier and acting out actual World War II battles with other grown men? Oy. Even if what Iott says is true -- that historical re-enactments are educational, and that he did it as a father-son bonding experience – at the very least it lacks good judgment. At the extreme, it smacks of anti-Semitism. Oh Rich, Rich. Couldn’t you and your son just go fishing like Sheriff Andy and Opie? Call me crazy, but even the best fiction writer couldn’t make this stuff up. Watch:

Friday, October 8, 2010

POWERFUL WOMEN - POWERFUL WORDS



Forbes Magazine just published its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women. The top five in media have often conveyed highly inspirational messages from their own life experience. Here is a sampling of what they have to say:



OPRAH WINFREY - Television Host, Humanitarian “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

ELLEN DEGENERES - Talk Show Host, Comedienne "You have to have funny faces and words, you can`t just have words. It is a powerful thing, and I think that`s why it`s hard for people to imagine that women can do that, be that powerful."

KATIE COURIC - Journalist “I've always tried to stay true to my authentic self. I think sometimes people project things on you, but I'm trying to handle everything that's happened to me with a certain amount of grace, dignity and good manners. You just can't necessarily win all the time.”

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON - Founder, The Huffington Post "Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me."

TINA BROWN - Founder, Editor - The Daily Beast
"Sexy brain food. Give us something to make us smarter, but for God’s sake don’t make it feel like work. People are in such a glum frame of mind they are looking for confidence, audacity, practicality, and FUN. They want to stop talking about problems and hear about solutions."

Rick Sanchez is a Conventional Idiot

Recently fired CNN anchor Rick Sanchez did his first on-air interview this week with George Stephanpoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America." Sanchez, ostensibly there to offer his mea culpa, instead used the discussion to plug his book, "Conventional Idiocy," not once, but twice. He also once again took the opportunity to express his tedious "poor me" rap about his childhood. Watch:

Important Words From Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres

Following a series of teen suicides related to bullying, a number of high profile people are speaking out about this pressing social problem. Among them, Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper have taken a strong stand against bullying. Here is a recent conversation between the two broadcasters:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010: THE YEAR OF POLITICAL WHACK JOBS

In a world where Lisa Rinna’s lip reduction surgery and the Octomom’s home foreclosure are considered news, is it any wonder a whack job like Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (right) becomes a high profile media figure? Her newest campaign ad begins with the line, “I am not a witch.” Hey, we’re living in a moment when the Governor of Arizona gets legislation enacted that allows a cop to stop a person if he thinks he or she looks like an illegal immigrant. That being the case, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Nevada Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle had the balls to actually call her opponent and suggest he drop out of the race. Let's say this all together now: ANYTHING GOES.

Angle, (left) another big bowl of crazy like O’Donnell, recently had this to say about unemployment in her state: ''People ask me, 'What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?' Well, that's not my job as a U.S. senator.'' I promise you she said that. Out loud. Really.

While all of this craziness is splashed across the headlines, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)(right) comes forward to say he believes unmarried, sexually active women and gays should not be allowed to teach in the public schools. (Apparently sexually active single men do not present a problem). I wonder if he has any idea how many empty classrooms there would be throughout the U.S. if this came to pass. And how many married, heterosexual nut jobs would end up as teachers?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul,(below, left) the Tea Party Senate candidate from Kentucky (who happens to be the current frontrunner) wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and give full control of the schools to the states. I can’t help wondering: If that would happen, how would
each of the states make up for the millions of federal dollars that are pumped into their economy for education? I guess the individual states would have to raise taxes – a lot. Paul also once said, "…a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination,even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin." Did he not get the memo that we passed a Civil Rights Act in 1964?

And then there’s good old Joe Miller, (below, right) the GOP Senate candidate from Alaska. Joe, who has been vocal (read: LOUD) about the importance of Federal government bowing out of people’s lives and spending less and less, turns out to be something of a hypocrite. It was widely reported that he accepted farm subsidies from the Federal government in the 1990s, and that his wife received Federal unemployment dollars after she left a job – working for Joe! Miller, it should be noted, is on the record in opposition to Federal unemployment insurance, which he says is not authorized by the Constitution. And still he wins the nomination. Am I missing something here? I don’t think so.

These few examples of the chaotic and often discriminatory mindset of contemporary politicians clearly illustrate the extreme social confusion in our country. Some elements of our culture that we accepted as standard are now being marginalized. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state, for example? Ultra-conservative radio entertainer Glenn Beck (left) is inching closer and closer to preaching when he talks politics. "People aren't recognizing his [Obama’s] version of Christianity," Beck said on "Fox News Sunday." His recent heavily-attended “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C. was described by some as the closest thing to a religious revival they had ever seen. Blogger Dan Riehl interviewed one of the attendees: “He has a spiritual connection to us; you can hear his heart speaking,” said Susan Trevethan, a psychiatric nurse from Milford, Conn. “I believe he has been divinely guided to be here in this place,” she said. “He is doing the research. He is teaching us.”

You know, if Glenn Beck can become Jesus, maybe I can morph into, say, Brad Pitt? Come on.

Guess what other traditional American standard has been marginalized: Civility. It doesn’t really matter, for example, what your political party preference is, when it comes to respect for the office of President of the United States. Even in the worst of times, if Americans were not sold on their chief executive, they moderated their comments and actions in deference to the sanctity of the office. Not now. Now we have people carrying signs at rallies that show President Obama made up to look like Hitler. Just the other day, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Obama a “jackass” and an “ignoramus” live, on the air. At Tea Party rallies, Obama is routinely referred to as a socialist. That is particularly baffling, since many of the attendees are on Social Security and Medicare, arguably the closest programs we have to real socialism. And those programs have been in place and unquestioned for decades. Let’s review: When we abolish the Department of Education and raise their taxes, should we also eliminate Social Security and Medicare? I’m just sayin.’

The bottom line: The Americans who are sullying the political process, promoting the dissolution of Government agencies and departments, blurring the lines between religion and government, lowering the bar on respect for the presidency and generally questioning American standards without offering viable alternatives are radicals. They may point to others in the society as dangerous and un-American, but the truth is that these people are extremists.

I do not want extremists of any ilk or political affiliation making decisions for me. I do not want to see the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution construed to mean that people can carry guns into churches or schools. I do not want the 1st Amendment to the Constitution twisted to suggest that hate speech and bullying are protected under the law. I do not want to see white-haired, white-skinned male legislators enacting legislation that disallows a woman to have an abortion after she has been raped. I do not want to see a Governor use her power to endorse racial profiling. I do not want to see the widespread dissatisfaction with the flailing American economy become the rallying cry for the deconstruction of almost three centuries of American government.

What about you? What do you want?

Monday, October 4, 2010

RICK SANCHEZ: The Newsman Who Became the Story

Rick Sanchez is one of those new age broadcasters who undervalue the concept of journalistic neutrality. During his tenure on television he often pulled inane stunts like having himself tasered (below,left) to demonstrate how powerful the device is. He often spoke before his brain caught up with his mouth: One time he said he couldn’t understand how there could be a volcano eruption in Iceland because it’s so cold there. Remember Will Ferrell’s fictional anchorman, Ron Burgundy? In a way, Rick Sanchez is the real life Ron Burgundy. Bumbling, sometimes ill-prepared, seemingly disorganized and unafraid to look like a fool on television, Sanchez somehow inched his way up from a small TV station in Alexandria, MN to a two-hour anchor slot on CNN. Industry insiders never quite understood it. He morphed from a self-described poor immigrant kid named Ricardo León Sánchez de Reinaldo to a handsome, glib network news guy named Rick Sanchez. With his inexplicably anglo good looks and his self-imposed name change, one might not even know of his Cuban ethnicity.

A few months ago, recently-ousted CNN President Jonathan Klein offered Sanchez a juicy two-hour daytime slot that the anchor decided to call “Rick’s List.” It was a new-wave technology combo of traditional broadcasting paired with social media that allowed viewers to actually drive the content. It was a rather groundbreaking concept. But a concept is only that, unless somebody follows through on it. Sanchez’s follow through was often inept and anything but groundbreaking. Comedian Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” often used short clips of Sanchez’s gaffes for his signature “Moment of Zen” segments.

Sanchez evidently didn’t take the ribbing well. His final meltdown took place on Pete Dominick’s Sirius XM radio show, when he described his childhood this way: “"I grew up not speaking English, dealing with real prejudice every day as a kid; watching my dad work in a factory, wash dishes, drive a truck, get spit on. I’ve been told that I can’t do certain things in life simply because I was a Hispanic." He then went on to lump Stewart with what he termed “elite Northeast establishment liberals.” (For the three of you who don’t know this, that’s code talk for Jews). He went on to say, “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.” If you haven’t heard the interview, listen:

Two hours later he was fired.

Sanchez is apparently by nature a reckless man. In 1990 it was widely reported that he was driving his father home from a Miami Dolphins game, when he hit a man who was running between two cars in the stadium parking lot. Reportedly, Sanchez was drunk, as was the victim. Sanchez left the scene of the accident and did not return for two hours. The story that is told in Miami is that Sanchez had buddies on the police force, and he was able to get off with a simple DUI charge. His victim, one Jeffrey Smuzinick was not so lucky. He was paralyzed, ended up in a nursing home, and died in 1995 at the age of 36.

So, let’s review: Here’s what we have so far on Rick Sanchez – Unprofessional, anti-Semitic, bitter and cowardly. To this day, the married father of four has never addressed the hit and run incident. It is as if he pretends it simply didn’t happen. Personally, Sanchez never learned about accountability. Occupationally, despite all of his missteps and misstatements, he never quite got the message that he needed to become more professional and work a little harder. Watch this behind the scenes clip of Sanchez and his staff hours before his fateful radio interview, “preparing” for that day’s “Rick’s List.”

His was a laissez-faire, free-flowing style of journalism. It lacked the main ingredients of good reporting: solid research, meticulous preparation, and well-thought-out words. It opted for off-the-cuff, under-informed and sometimes arrogant banter. Sanchez wanted to come off as the “every man” of journalism. But there was something vaguely discomforting about his delivery. It was too nice, too folksy and not authentic.

Sanchez’s firing from CNN is not so much about a denial of free speech, as it is an example of irresponsibility. To call Jon Stewart a “bigot,” with nothing concrete to back that up was disingenuous. In all of Stewart’s making fun of Sanchez, he never once referred to his ethnicity. To fall back on the old “Jews own everything” argument is an insult to the masses of middle-class Jewish Americans, many of whom were Sanchez’s viewers. Further, blaming the Jews – or any other ethnic group, for that matter – is a copout from a guy who simply did not do the work required to become an Anderson Cooper or Diane Sawyer. One has to wonder if all of this doesn't just come back to professional jealousy on Sanchez's part. There is indeed a disconnect on how the public perceives Stewart as opposed to Sanchez. For example, Sanchez's oddly titled book, "Conventional Idiocy," sold just 802 copies in its first week of release. Stewart's book, "Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race" had a first printing of 1.1 million copies and sold almost 54,000 copies in its first week or release.

Even with the clear Shakespearean nature of this situation, with the antagonist falling on his own sword, I cannot work up much sympathy for Rick Sanchez. In the end, we are all responsible for our own words, and the respect – or lack thereof – we afford other human beings.