2008 begins as 2007 ended: talk of politics, Britney Spears

And so, here we are, back at work, chopping through another year of insincerity and silliness. And I refer only to the political landscape of the next 12 months!

This year began with the controversial and pathetic Britney Spears strapped onto a stretcher and put under lockdown in a mental-health facility - a boon to TMZ, Perez Hilton and gossip mongering everywhere.


Already we've seen the sudden - perhaps temporary - setback of Hillary Rodham Clinton, her presidential campaign of experience and inevitability swept away by Barack Obama's youth, energy, his call for "change" and the promise of a truly transforming moment in America's history - a man of color leading our nation.

We shall see if America wishes to be so transformed, either with Barack or with Clinton, who would be the first woman to hold the job of chief executive. And we mustn't forget Mike Huckabee, who wants to "reclaim the country for Christ." I roll my eyes at every candidate who tries to persuade with "I'm the one you want to have a beer with" likeability and/or "I'm the one who has the stronger faith" halo effect.


You know what? I don't much want to have a beer with the president, and I don't care how often he or she goes to church. I do care about intelligence, good sense, honor and honesty. And some modesty might not be bad.

Out with it

Sigh! Well, enough procrastination. Miss Spears - what is there to say? She is now a truly tragic figure, without proper resources of friends or family. The only thing her mother could think to do was to call up the TV egotist Dr. Phil, who was shockingly allowed by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to barge in on Britney unannounced, hoping to persuade her to be "intervened" on his show, live on air. Blessedly, whatever her problems, the one-time pop princess dismissed the doctor and his ratings ploy. (In a perfect world, Dr. Phil would be stripped of his ability to "practice" his brand of domineering psychobabble.)

There have been conflicting reports about Britney's substance intake prior to her meltdown, but the most reliable source - the hospital - maintains the singer was clean of drugs or alcohol when she hysterically refused to hand over her children to ex-hubby Kevin Federline, locking herself and one of her kids in a bedroom for three hours.

Isn't it clear by this point that whatever issues Britney might have had, or still has, with substance overuse, she is seriously disturbed? She isn't smart enough to deal with her problems logically and nobody around her seems to possess a working brain cell. How to help a simple girl surrounded by idiots? (Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, River Phoenix were more talented and more on the ball than Miss Spears, but even they could not be saved from themselves. I will spare Britney comparison to Anna Nicole Smith, who, in my opinion, contributed nothing to popular culture, other than her tabloid attributes.)

There is almost an element of Greek tragedy in Britney's compulsive wanderings through Los Angeles - restaurants, petrol stations, boutiques; begging for attention, agonized when it comes - a dizzy nymph in her petrol-fueled chariot, staggering toward Hades.

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