I watch two news programs every weekday evening: The Lehrer News Hour and The Rachel Maddow Show. For the past two evenings, I've turned to my wife after about 90 seconds of reportage on the American ship captain captured by pirates and said, "OK, I've heard enough of this. Let's move on." Futilely in both cases, because the story droned on and on. This is the sort of thing that passes for news that requires near-breathless coverage--it led the news on both shows on both nights, and it will again tonight, too, whether this "crisis" is resolved or not.
Jeremy Scahill in a rare back-t0-back inspiration for a blog entry notes the absurdity of this situation in this entry on "The Huffington Post" today. As the entire world and probably all the eavesdropping aliens, too, know, Somali pirates tried to hijack a US-flagged merchant vessel off the African coast a couple of days ago. The deal went bad, and for the past couple of days now we have the ship's captain and four armed pirates floating around in a lifeboat that's basically dead in the water because it's out of gas. This is obviously a situation that calls for . . . Superman! That is, as Scahill calls him, "the Grand Puba of militarism," General David Petraeus, who has taken personal in charge of this operation, as part of his charter to direct US foreign policy in the Middle East.
You can read the piece, but just consider for a moment the utter imbecility of this situation: a dinky little lifeboat with four denizens of starving, chaotic Somali and an American is being confronted by an $800 million destroyer, being surveyeled by an Boeing spy plane in the sky above, and is the subject of legions of news people. More warships--including, and I'm not kidding, a frigging guided missile cruiser--are on the way to the area. FBI hostage negotiators are on the job. The merchant ship, by the way, sailed off with an armed-to-the-teeth Navy SEAL team on board! The president is being briefed regularly on the situation. Meantime one of the fearsome pirates in the lifeboat, equipped with a sattelite phone, has requested our prayers. He's probably about 17 years old. I for one am praying for him and his comrades, because mark my words, contingency plans exist right now to storm the lifeboat with special ops guys and "take out" the dastardly pirates if the situtation doesn't get resolved quick enough to suit the Supreme Puba.
You cannot make this stuff up. Nobody with half a brain would believe it. "Who needs The Onion?" Scahill asks. Indeed. Consider for a moment that this little operation is costing us taxpayers God knows how many millions of dollars. I cannot wait to see what Jon Stewart does with this. I promise I'll put it up here when he does. We are truly a demented people.