Who, after all, can you have the slightest bit of confidence in these days?Last night, I got into an argument with Karlgrenze about my pessimism and cynicism, while simultaneously talking to my friend Ren about whether or not and why Bill Maher is, according to her father, an asshole. (Her dad ad the job of building a set for his show when it came to DC. ) My response to Ren was to note the observation that the last seven or so years of his career was spent debating people who lied to him in incredibly artful ways (it's called 'Spin' in Washington). Unlike others, he'd try to call them on the lie. So I told her that maybe, the blunt standoffishness was a defense or coping mechanism. Those episodes had me thinking, am I becoming a Bill Maher or a David Letterman -- disillusioned with the world, and am I justified in that. (KG says I'm not, I disagreed. That was the argument.)
Business leaders? They ran WorldCom, Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, Adelphia and Xerox into the ground with their greed, number-fudging, book-cooking, paper-shredding, tax-evading, corner-cutting and plain old stupidity.
Accountants? The major audit firms were so obsessed with pleasing their big customers and selling them consulting services that they blessed blatantly fraudulent numbers and missed or ignored bogus billions that have now brought down a series of huge companies.
Wall Street brokerages? Their analysts knowingly inflated a huge market bubble by pushing stocks they knew were dogs while kissing the rings of the companies involved so they could earn millions in investment banking fees and write snarky e-mails about the garbage they were peddling.
Religious leaders? The Catholic Church aided and abetted pedophiles for decades, inflicted them on the community and covered up the acquiescence of its leadership in this moral squalor.
The government? The FBI and CIA were so busy guarding their turf and refusing to talk to each other that they failed to pick up on clues that could have prevented the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. Then the authorities approved the terrorists' visas after the fact.
Martha Stewart? Not a good thing.
Amtrak? No way to run a railroad.
Historians? They plagiarized other scholars because they were too busy cranking out blockbuster books and preening on TV to double-check the facts themselves.
Athletes? They abused steroids, drugs and alcohol, flaunted gaudy tattoos, went on strike despite ridiculously generous salaries and generally acted like overpaid adolescents.
Internet geeks? They promised us a revolution of free music and free ideas while pocketing zillions in stock options, yet turned out to be arrogant, clueless and ultimately broke while presiding over a collapse whose main legacy is annoying pop-up ads.
Journalists? They became cheerleaders for crooked CEOs and compromised analysts, got bored with the terrorism story when it mattered, looked the other way on church abuses for too many years while chasing ratings and relentlessly inflicting on the public stories involving O.J., Bobbitt, Di, Elian, Chandra and now Elizabeth Smart.
Throw in the Middle East morass and Palestinian suicide bombers and it's not a pretty picture.
It's enough to make the Sopranos look good.
After that, I decided to quit the internet, and take a nighttime drive, to blow off the frustration and clear my head. I had already attempted to do this by quitting messageboards. Apparently it isn't working, but never mind. Anyway, I got to thinking how bitter Mark Twain became later in life and how lonely David Letterman has ended up. Twain had a wife to I presume soften the rough edges, but Letterman has nothing but his show and his cynicism. And a good number of people are turned off by that. It's possible that he caused his heart problems with his cynicism. If anything else, I don't want to die of a heart attack. Well, not with a heart attack not being caused by eating giant hamburgers. Which I'm optimistic about having, tonight.