Robert Ripley drew attention to an incident from the past that involved a doctor in Europe who was confronted by a new patient who was despondent and suffering from depression. The doctor cheerfully informed the new patient that by a great coincidence, one of the world's greatest comedians, Grimaldi, was in town and that the morose fellow would certainly cheer-up if he went to see the show. The patient gravely replied to the doctor: "I am Grimaldi." We were reminded of that story this week when we heard the distressing news about Robin Williams.
In late 1978, ABC video taped a special titled "Battle of the Network Stars" on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu and the paparazzi swarmed over certain personalities, such as Farrah Fawcett, Lynda Carter, Howard Cossell and Telly Savalas. Some of the stars were virtually ignored in the frantic search for photos of the hot personalities that would earn big bucks from various fan magazines and weekly news publications.
A student from Orange County, who attended a high school that featured both an AM and an FM radio station, got some of the stars who weren't in high demand to record a promotional sound byte for those student radio efforts.
One of the stars, who had been a well known TV personality in the Sixties was very accommodating and charming. Perhaps those two student radio stations still play the promo sound bytes featuring William Shatner.
One fellow, who was a rookie TV personality, arrived driving himself in a battered old MGA (as we recall). He didn't interest the paparazzi because of his lack of celebrity draw. He was very gracious to the high school student and provided his contributions to the student stations. It seems that the word "gracious" is ubiquitous in all the personal anecdotes being told this week about Robin Williams and this anecdote reinforces our similar impression of the star of "Mork and Mindy."
Robin Williams' death unleashed a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment that refuted the star's personal feelings of complete alienation. It is poignant and ironic that a person who was so beloved could fail to register the high esteem accorded to him by family, friends, and fans.
In another example of bitter irony, during the week, the Berkeley contingent of liberal peaceniks were becoming more and more bitter and cynical because their perception of the news about a new contingent of troops being sent to Iraq was that the President was possibly guilty of being the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to also be a war criminal because he was providing a continuing endorsement of former President George W. Bush's war crimes and belligerent foreign policy.
Conservative Trolls please note: In the era of austerity budgets in the newsroom, very few writers seem to have been assigned to fact check what is and is not a war crime. The World's Laziest Journalist interviewed an Australian woman who spent all of World War II collecting information and evidence for use in a war crimes trial. When we asked her if Dubya was a war criminal, she snapped: "Of course he is!" Thus our use of that assertion is based on fact finding with a war crimes investigator and not a personal opinion.
It is up to the individual Berkeley peacenik to decide if the sudden U-turn whereby Obama became the forth American President to order the bombing of Iraq means they will continue or withdraw their enthusiastic support of Dubya's successor.
Obviously, political pundits and columnists, who relentlessly criticized Dubya for committing war crimes, will have to decide if they now owe a profuse and sincere apology to Republicans or if they will have to laugh off their former pose of righteous indignation and endorse Obama's retroactive approval of the Bush foreign policy. We suppose that the peaceniks could just indulge in hypocrisy and say that they actually have always enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq and just used a devil's advocate response.
After years of wondering if and when America's main stream media was going to buck the austerity budget trend and pay a staff reporter to fact check the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the World's Laziest Journalist had to slough off indolence and inertia and look the information up in the Santa Monica Public Library during Bush's second term in office.
After being mesmerized by the mantra "he didn't know there were no weapons of mass destruction," it turned out that the lead American Prosecutor, a Supreme Court Justice on temporary assignment in Germany, emphatically declared that any invasion was a crime against peace. By a strange coincidence, after we posted a column containing that particular bit of a historic footnote, the Conservatives seem to have abandoned the lame "He didn't know" style rebuttal.
America fought to bring Democracy to Iraq and the fact that their elected leader was unacceptable to American policy makers just means that like a beginning music student the Iraqi voters will have to follow the teacher's advice: "Begin again!"
We bet most readers had never heard of the Yazidi brach of the Muslim religion until the day they learned that their tax dollars were being spent to protect some of that subcategory. Did the American military come to the aid of the Catholics who were being shot in Northern Ireland or are the Yazidis entitled to special preferential treatment?
If a Republican initiates a foreign policy that includes war crimes, a pundit should look askance at it. If his Democratic successor endorses and continues the use of war crimes, then the basic point of view of being critical of war crimes should continue. If the pundit condemns war crimes authorized by a Republican president but then endorses them if they are retroactively sanctioned by a Democratic President, well then that is an example of partisan propaganda and will destroy the writer's credibility.
Since President George W. Bush was not using hyperbole when he informed America it was a participant in the Forever War, then the Liberal Peaceniks in Berkeley (and the rest of the country) had better figure it out that they best drop the Christmas "Peace on Earth" nonsense and realize that they are going to have to vote for the best candidate in either party who can continue conducting the Forever War while managing to deliver a cost effective austerity budget domestic agenda.