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Trying to make sense of national news

Published July 17. 2010 09:00AM

I always enjoy the national news but I usually can't make sense of it.

This past week was typical. The national media tried to make us believe that virtually all Americans were concerned about the basketball career of LeBron James. I have a hunch that millions of Americans don't even know who LeBron James is, much less care about which city he moved to.

And just when you thought the Cold War was behind us, there was a spy exchange last week. American spies were traded for Russian spies. For some, it brought back memories of the 1960s and James Bond. For me, it was a reminder of the propaganda cartoons we watched as kids, such as those evil Russian villains Boris and Natasha. Boris' last name was Badenov (bad enough). Here we are 50 years later and we still have bad Russian spies. There are American spies, too, but nobody has told us whether they're good or bad.

There's a leaking oil well in the Gulf. I wish I had a dollar for every person who said: "We can send a man to the moon but we can't cap a leaking oil well."

That oil spill has been used as a metaphor for just about every gloom and doom prophecy of our day. They said it represents the downfall of the American empire, the greed of oil giants, corporate disregard for the environment, the ineffectiveness of government, and the Achilles heel of President Obama, or Obama's Katrina. A religious fundamentalist linked the oil spill to world annihilation, or some other ultimate calamity. Religious fundamentalists seem to overanalyze everything. Last year, evangelist Pat Robertson said on television that the earthquake in Haiti was the result of a curse over a pact with the devil. Then he called the quake "a blessing in disguise." The extreme views of religious fundamentalists often scare me more than the threat of earthquakes and oil spills combined.

And how about the mean-spirited Defense of Marriage Act? It's been ruled unconstitutional by a judge, and rightfully so.

According to Judge Joseph Tauro, it boils down to an "irrational prejudice" that conclusively violates the principles within the constitution.

He ruled that an "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest," and that it violates "the equal protection principles." He's right, and it's good to know that smart judges continue to ensure that the majority doesn't deny the minority their basic rights.

After all, marriage is marriage and should be a right extended to all consenting adults, not just some. It shouldn't be defined by government, and civil unions are not the answer. America has no second class citizens and there should be no second class marriages, especially in a land that's supposed to embrace equality. On top of that, Judge Tauro's decision wisely reinforces the separation of church and state.

But I'll never understand why these issues need to be issues. Why do human beings try to deny other human beings their basic human rights?

Finally, I saw an article about singer Lady Gaga. They refer to her as an electronica artist. What the heck is an electronica artist? That term makes her out to be a robot. Isn't Lady Gaga simply a 2010 version of Madonna? She's a colorful character with crazy outfits. But that's nothing new. Phyllis Diller was on TV wearing crazy outfits 40 years ago. Sort of like an electronica artist.

I always enjoy the national news. But I'll probably never understand it. And maybe that's a good thing.

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