Infidelity, Votes-for-Gifts and Secession

A Matter of Scale

There was much hand-wringing this week over issues of “national importance,” like (1) a former general’s marital infidelities, (2) whether the president won re-election by the inappropriate giving of gifts and, oh right, (3) the question of states seceding from the Union.

1. Honestly, I feel sorry for David Petreus. He’s obviously smart but he also seems like a very sad little man.

What started this “grand revelation” wasn’t some backroom, dark-ops way to protect the president from embarrassing revelations about Benghazi. That’s just right-wing nonsense-dreams. This happened because an overly “zealous” FBI agent wanted to have sex with a comely (albeit married) woman he knows, and when his text to her of himself shirtless didn’t do the trick (BTW, does it ever?), he went outside bureau rules and uncovered evidence of (my heavens) an extramarital affair involving the former general and current CIA director.

I don’t happen to think CIA Director is a position that requires some special level of moral authority based on leading an unblemished personal life. If it did, no one would be able to occupy it. Ever. Same goes, I think, for generals. I don’t think about their personal lives and I don’t want to. I don’t care that Petreus is married or what he had for breakfast or that he had an extramarital affair. I care that, as a general, he figured a way to get American combat troops out of Iraq. I care that he faithfully supported the administrations he served. I care that he seemed to do all the hard and thankless jobs other, less capable people kept dumping on him, to the best of his ability.

This continuing national preoccupation with the sexual behavior of public figures is embarrassing, unhealthy and, I believe, unintentionally reveals a twisted pathology of those who most strongly call for resignations, humiliations and punishments.

For no good reason, Petreus had to resign; it’s our loss.

2. Did Barack Obama promise “gifts” to potential voters as a direct inducement to improperly get their votes, or are Mitt Romney and certain fringe Republicans just sore losers who still can’t believe they lost the election?

The question is rhetorical but there’s still an answer: sore losers. End of story.

3. Secession? Seriously? Your guy doesn’t get elected president and, right away, it’s “I’m leaving this party.”

Let’s look at this “firestorm” for exactly what it is. Led by an all-out effort in (Surprise!) Texas, the online secession petitions have gathered something over 700,000 signatures (at writing time). That’s a whopping 0.022 percent of the US population. My hand to God, I think I could get that many people to sign a petition making French toast our national bird. Let’s compare that percentage to another small part of the country’s population that was (in contrast to secession) completely ignored recently, namely the number of our fellow citizens who voted for Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) in the election – about 1 million votes, or 1.2 percent of the votes cast in the states in which he appeared on the ballot.

So, is this an anemic stunt or a failed but serious movement?

If it’s intended as a stunt, it isn’t interesting, it isn’t funny, it isn’t going anywhere and, therefore, isn’t worth people’s attention.

If it’s intended as a serious movement, I find it insane beyond my words. Consider our history. The last time we had a serious secession movement, it was settled by the costliest, bloodiest, most damaging conflict in our country’s history. And as I’ve said before to friends, that is rain we do not want to call down lightly. Rational Americans do not want to call it down again, period.

But, secessionists, don’t give up hope completely. If I ever were to compile a list of states I’d happily bid a fond adieu (Note to separatist Texans: That’s French for “see ya later.”), congratulations, Texas, you would be at my list’s very tip top.

Texas #1!!!

(Don’t worry, Arizona, you can make it; just try a little harder.)

The Name Is Bond, James Bond

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Imagine sitting down over a few beers with an old friend.
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You catch up on the years since you’ve last seen each other. You ask about spouses and kids. Take a few shots at each other’s appearance. You’re fat. You’re bald. Maybe you start to loosen up and take a few bigger shots. You’ve always been ugly. How’d you get her to marry you, anyway?
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Hahahahahahaha.
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Then you start the “remember when”s. You remember old pals and former girlfriends. Never thought she was right for you. Yeah? I never liked yours either. You laugh about the time when he did something stupid. Then he laughs at something stupid you did. To no one’s particular surprise, it isn’t hard to remember enough stupid things to make quite a conversation.
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How long is it until you talk about work? And that’s when you stop talking so much and become the listener. You see, while you’ve been bouncing around the American corporate world, or the skilled trades, or some other thing, your old pal’s been logging in a 25-year career with the CIA. Think about it. There’s no topping the stories from his office parties.
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It was during one of those boozy sit-downs when my friend gave me a little insight into James Bond, the great British spy character created in 1953 by writer Ian Flemming, after whom all modern literature’s spy characters are loosely or directly based.
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My pal said there’s always a Bond but he changes over time to reflect the values of the era he’s placed in. 
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Bond is always tough. Bond is always brilliant and fearless. Bond is always a sex machine. So, of course, the idea of bringing Bond to film was irresistible.
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Over the years, Bond has been portrayed on film by 9 very different actors but the character himself has changed significantly as well. Sean Connery was the first feature film Bond, in 1962’s Dr. No. He was followed by many, including, most notably, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
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Connery was the perfect post-WW2 Bond, carrying himself just like a combat veteran operating in the murky ambiguity of the Cold War. He was outdoorsy, tough, mouthy and unfailingly sexist.
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Moore was slick, blow-dried, corporate, movie-star clean and pretty. He was perfect to represent the period from disco to the Reagan era’s faux tough-guys.
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Brosnan was smooth, implacable, brilliant. The personification of a New Millennium, Internet start-up, computer-nerd’s wet-dream spy.
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And now we have Daniel Craig’s Bond. Cruel. Violent. Heartless. Inhuman. A thug. In truth, the perfect Bond for today’s world.
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