YOUTUBE, METUBE, THEYTUBE: In one of his last acts, mass murderer Elliott Rodger left behind a video polemic on his plans for “Retribution Day,” a slaughter that he later played out in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Santa Barbara, killing seven people. The reaction industry instantly went into massive froth: blogs took sides on whether he was anti-women or part of the “Men’s Rights Movement”; a video parody emerged, race was interjected and rebutted, and the Hollywood angle was trotted out and explored. In essence, Rodger held up a mirror and allowed paranoid agendas to flourish. Which harkens back to a phrase from the US Declaration of Independence, “the consent of the governed.” A government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power flows from the consensus of the society upon which it is exercised. Given the social hash exhibited on Rodger’s actions, it’s no wonder Congress is often paralyzed.
“PLAMED” OUT: The White House revealed the name of its top CIA officer in Afghanistan last week, by including his name on a list of officials briefed by Obama on his surprise trip. You’ll recall the career of CIA operative Valerie Plame was ended by a Washington Post reveal by Robert Novak, aided by White House leaks. Which leads one to speculate about whether the Afghanistan officer was well-liked, or just conveniently rendered inoperative by the leak.
SNOW JOB: The harsh Russian winter evidently made NSA leaker Edward Snowden a little antsy. In a prime-time interview last week with NBC, he claimed to be a patriot; a top spy rather than a low-level computer jockey; and looking for something to do, although hampered by his lack of Russian. The US responded by letting him know that he would be welcomed home to the dungeon anytime he wished to put himself in their clutches control.
MAYA, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Poet and activist Maya Angelou, age 86, was 86’d from life last week. Many Americans knew her only as someone they vaguely felt they should appreciate. Most did not know of her association with Louis Farrakhan, her support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, or the accusations of anti-Semitism that dogged her.
THE LEFT BEHIND SERIES: President Obama has announced that a “residual force” of 9,800 troops (why that many and not 9,666 remains a mystery) will remain in Afghanistan followed the end of US combat operations in December. That will be halved by the end of 2015, with a “small military presence” the only remainder by the end of 2016. Given that we’ve just released four top members of the Taliban in exchange for a soldier who didn’t like the US, it’s likely that the poor stiffs left on Embassy duty are going to have the shelf-life of milk in this seething sea of anti-Americanism.
COME ONE, COME ALL: The White House and Homeland Security will delay a review of deportation policies until the end of summer, hoping Congress does something on immigration reform before that. The White House/Homeland report won’t be issue until lawmakers adjourn for the summer in August. Meanwhile, the Latino presence in federal prisons has exploded, with a major source of convictions for “unlawful re-entry.” .
BALLMER IS A BALLER: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the LA Clippers for $2 billion dollars from the trust controlled by Donald Sterling and his family. Sterling has threatened a scorched-earth lawsuit against the NBA, while his wife is still complaining about having to sell the team. Considering that the Clippers are poised to sign a TV rights deal that could bring them $1 billion, it looks like a steal. Presuming the hourly billing on litigation doesn’t top the purchase price.