There’s a lot going on today, much of which does not reflect well on civilization.
My Kindle edition of Bob Woodward’s “Fear” was delivered at midnight, but, for the moment, I have only the Washington Post coverage of the other day and a few other early reviews to go on.
However, I suspect there will be some Oval Office departures, since Woodward is specific about his accusations even though he protects his sources, and Dear Leader will have as many discontented employees to deal with as in this Clay Jones piece, only he’ll know who at least some of them are.
Woodward’s major criticism of the New York Times Op-Ed was its vagueness, that the anonymous writer made general observations but pinned down none of them. Now we’ll all get to see what he means.
And, while Trump calls the whole thing a fraud, he’s going to have a lot of specific incidents in which, while the source remains anonymous, the actors are named. Stand by for a temper tantrum.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to pose the question “Does he ever see any actual news, or just the encouraging snippets his staffers feed him?” because, while he claims NBC unmasked a fraud, the interview pretty much does the opposite.
The specific issue of anonymity and denial that he carps about begins at about the two-minute mark and, as a bonus, the last minute or so deal with the NY Times Op-Ed. The whole 10 minutes are well spent, however.
Thing is, I wouldn’t have seen it at all, if I weren’t made curious by Dear Leader’s tweet.
He’s like the four-year-old who loudly announces “I didn’t break the lamp” before anyone has noticed that the lamp is broken.
Courage in Cartooning
Yes, it’s 9/11 again and there have been several cartoons marking the anniversary.
But while we’ve had some tearful tributes and a couple of boastful how-strong-we-are panels, Joel Pett‘s piece stands out for his willingness to recap the aftermath.
One of the issues at the time was that, as intertwined as we were in world politics, we had remained very insulated from day-to-day impacts of the growing global unrest, and, despite the earlier attempt on the World Trade Center and a few other relatively impotent efforts, we had very little experience of the terrorism that had already been erupting elsewhere in the world.
The Islamophobia and disastrously off-target military responses that followed did more damage to our image abroad and our internal social and political stability than anything bin Laden dreamt of.
It’s not a bad thing to remember and to grieve the deaths that day, but it takes particular courage to look at the overall results as well.
And now the Sports
If all that weren’t depressing enough, it appears we aren’t getting good marks in “Plays Well With Others” either.
The response to the mutual meltdown of Serena Williams and Carlos Ramos has been interesting not for what it says about tennis but for all the subtexts that inform and inflame the conversation.
If you toss out the commentary from people who — to steal a line from Bill Parcells — “don’t know if the ball is round or square or stuffed with feathers,” there remains a lot of back and forth over the rules, the application of rules, and whether Carlos Ramos is as big a dick in umpiring men’s games as he is when umpiring women’s games.
Seems to be unanimity on the fact that he is, to use a more polite and less gender-specific term, quite strict and has been criticized for it in the past.
And while it might be wise to keep cool when you know the umpire is a complete … strict person … that ignores the passion for which male players are praised and female players condemned and which may have helped get them to the point at which the whole world is watching.
More to the point, it ignores the role of the umpire/referee, which is not simply to enforce the rules but to see that the game remains in control.
Anyone who has watched the FIFA World Cup has seen the best refs keep the most intense players from disrupting the game, often by defusing a furious, in-your-face challenge without showing a yellow card and further stirring things up.
Ramos — for all the speculation about men and women and white and black — failed as an umpire because he let things get out of control. As the saying goes, “he had one job.”
Few if any are actively defending Serena’s behavior, except for her attempt to cool things down at the awards ceremony.
This NY Times analysis even quotes those who praise and defend Ramos. But it also contains this telling quote:
“Both made mistakes,” said Pam Shriver, the former player who is now an ESPN analyst. “Ramos helped derail a championship match by being rigid beyond normal protocol by not giving first a soft warning for coaching, not communicating effectively to defuse an emotional player and by not allowing a player to let off more steam before giving the third code violation that gave a game at a crucial time in a final.”
There was also an excellent analytical piece in the New Yorker by someone who, like Shriver, seems to know the shape and filling of the ball.
And then there was this astonishing throwback, from Australian cartoonist Mark Williams, (update: No, Mark KNIGHT.) who was promptly slapped down for it by other cartoonists.
Granted, Serena is a large person of dark complexion, though he got her hairstyle somewhat wrong in a somewhat booga-booga way.
However, hair styles and skin tone apparently aren’t his strong point.
But Dr. Jack and Curtis managed to get Serena’s features right without making her look like a minstrel show mammy.
Still, give the guy a break: It might not be racism.
It might just be a complete lack of artistic talent.
In any case, his Barbie-fication of biracial Naomi Osaka reminded me of this 1998 Wanda Sykes routine.