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Friday, January 28, 2022

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

By now, we’re into the seventh layer of complexity in the real-life spy thriller “Homeland meets The West Wing meets Melrose Place” – otherwise known as the Petraeus sex scandal. For those of you who haven’t tuned into the news recently, here’s a recap of what we know so far that led to Petraeus’ resignation as Director of the CIA.

  • Republican ideologue working at the FBI sends Jill Kelley, a military Party Planner (not kidding) with whom he has an unknown relationship, shirtless pictures of himself.
  • Later, said Party Planner gets harassing  anonymous emails of the “I saw what you did under the table at that fancy dinner with David Petraeus” variety.
  • Party Planner freaks out and tells shirtless Republican Special Agent.
  • An investigation is launched by the FBI on the basis of a couple such vague emails which leads the FBI to discover that the emails originated from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and presumably jealous paramour.
  • As a matter of course during the investigation, the FBI reads all the Party Planner’s email. This consequence may not have been anticipated by the Party Planner when she filed the complaint, because the emails now connect her to the guy who took over for Petraeus in Afghanistan, General John Allen.
  • Allen is now under investigation because of emails to the Party Planner described as “flirtatious” and “affectionate.” Under military law, adultery can be a crime.
  • Somehow, perhaps through the shirtless ideologue, Eric Cantor finds out about the Petraeus affair, yet the Senate Intelligence committee and the White House are clueless.

And that’s only what we know so far. Whew.

And beyond what appears to be a disturbing overreach by the FBI into personal, non-criminal matters of private citizens, and a gripping scandal worthy of a Hollywood spy thriller (and you know it’s coming), there’s another public figure whose life is in tatters because of sexual impropriety this week.

I’m sorry, Americans. Petraeus, and the loss of his talents and abilities in his chosen field are bad enough. But this, is truly a tragedy. The latest American icon to suffer the consequences of sexual indiscretion is…


Tickle me shocked.

Now, you can actually Google “Elmo Sex Scandal” and find headlines like: Elmo Denies Having Gay Sex with Minor. These are troubled times indeed.

 New York-based Sesame Workshop said in a statement that its own inquiry concluded that the claim of underage sexual conduct was unsubstantiated, and that puppeteer Kevin Clash has denied any wrongdoing and called the allegation “false and defamatory.”

But the company said Clash, 52, was disciplined after an internal investigation showed he “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage.”

OK, so it’s not an FBI probe, but the internal Sesame Street investigation has found nothing  wrong except poor judgment and internet misuse. Mr. Clash (aka Elmo) has been given a leave of absence to protect his reputation, after a brief stint in the no-no seat when the internet incident occurred.

No word yet about next steps for these two embarrassed Americans, but here’s a thought from Richard Cohen at the NY Daily News:

The list of Washington sex scandals is long and, really, quite distinguished. One would have to include John F. Kennedy and, just to be fair, Thomas Jefferson. I want to mention Warren Harding, a randy devil he, and even Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose wartime affair with his driver, Capt. Kay Summersby, has long been alleged. Lyndon Johnson’s affairs have been documented by the indefatigable Robert Caro — and were all but conceded by the weary Lady Bird Johnson. These matters can hurt.


But now that it has all been done, is there a better man to fill Petraeus’ seat than Petraeus himself? He is blackmail-proof and more than qualified for the job.
He not only was a four-star general, a West Point grad (top 5% of his class) and a Princeton scholar, but, in the quite recent past, he held the director’s job himself. The United States would not only be getting the best man for the job, but striking a blow against the sexual McCarthyism that has destroyed so many careers and, in wretched silence, has aborted many a political career before it was even announced.

Let’s not let our own proclivity for sexual McCarthyism, and love of a good sordid tale blind us to the bigger issues of the potential misuse of government investigations with nothing more than political motivations and questionable evidence, and most of all our own rights to privacy and civil liberties. We all deserve them, as a country and as individuals when there is no overlap into the jobs that affect our security, and how our government is run. Overreach by zealous government investigators is not a new phenomenon, and Americans should be more alarmed at this than at the indiscretions of fragile and imperfect humans.

Good luck to the General, the biographer, the Party Planner, their families, and the muppet.

UPDATE:  Good news for Elmo and us all!  The accuser has apparently recanted his accusations READ HERE.






34 Responses to “Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen”
  1. lacy lady says:

    I think it is time for John McCain and Lindsey Graham to retire.
    Also think the Media needs to stop fanning the flames.
    Cnn is becoming Faux #2

  2. Kath the Scrappy says:

    This is OT, but still in keeping with the title of this thread. I so hope this man is going DOWN before his ‘little man’ ideas ruin the country!

    Is it game over for Grover Norquist?

    The anti-tax activist’s grip on power, even in the GOP, has never been weaker — just as he faces a critical test

    Two meetings in Washington today tell the story of the decline of Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who is seeing his near-iron grip on GOP tax policy over the past two decades slipping. One is Norquist’s weekly “Wednesday Meeting,” a gathering of “more than 150 elected officials, political activists, and movement leaders” who plot strategy and coordinate messaging every week. After big losses at the polls in last week’s election and a fracturing conservative base just as Congress heads into its most important tax negotiations in years, it’s safe to assume that this morning’s meeting was tense. ..snipped..

  3. laurainnocal says:

    omg!!!! On Rachal, Dan Rather just said ” hey why would ya listen to a guy that named palin” in response to what do you think about Mccain’s Libya reaction.

    • lacy lady says:

      That’s for sure!
      And also defending C Rice saying there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
      And how many of our Men and women died in Iraq ? More than 4 —–I would say!

    • slipstream says:

      Did McCain criticize George W. Bush for not stopping terrorist attacks on U.S. soil which left thousands dead?


      But he excoriates President Obama for failing to stop a surprise attack on an outpost in Libya which killed four.

      It must hurt to be that hypocritical.

  4. Mo says:

    Paging Chris Hayes on the white courtesy telephone:

  5. StElias says:

    Wow, makes one wonder how our Supreme war commanders have time to lead and rally the troops while sending out 30,000 lovely-dovey emails. Not to mention the esteemed shirtless FBI gumshoe leader being all palsy-walsy with GOP majority whip Cantor. When this Shakespearean drama first began to unfold the GOP bolted out the gate salivating that they might have a stink to hang on our president, that is, until they discovered all the juice dripped from their own aristocratic ilk.

    About 17 months ago we left Tampa Bay on the MS Ryndam. As we worked our way out to sea through the narrow waterways we looked down into the stately gated subdivisions of Davis Avenue and Bay Shore Blvd. (where the Kellys live). Truly a more peaceful and beautiful setting you won’t find anywhere in America or the world (It would be a wonderful place to live except for the heat and humidity). Another little drawback for me is that the best locales for living are all Republican strongholds. I remarked to my wife as we leaned on the rail enjoying our departure “I bet you can’t even find a Democratic ballot down there”.

    Time for my favorite Book of Genesis verse, again:

    God came down to visit Adam and said, Adam, I got good news and bad news, which you want first?

    Adam: The good news.

    God: I just gave you a penis and a brain.

    Adam: Wowee, that is really good news. What possibly could the bad news be?

    God: I only gave you enough blood to work one at a time.

    • lacy lady says:

      Today, McCain and Graham are on the war path. Someone should tell those two to go home!
      Hope our President puts them in their place! And today—-I think he did just that.! Good for you President Obama!

  6. Cathy Heyworth Harris says:

    When I read she was a “party planner” a few days ago, my mind went … well, you know where it went. It is truly worthy of TMF to be so far ahead of this scandal that it was already keeping an eye on party planners. Congratulations. Lastly, I had no idea the military had this offense tactic with the rich. I guess its pretty worthwhile and seems to be working for our military. Most of the time. I am now thinking about exploring how to throw enough parties to get this “diplomatic” status.

  7. Zyxomma says:

    I’m already tired of this story. Never watched soap operas on TV; I don’t want them on the news.

    • I will admit that I watched soaps for a while until I realized one day that I was growing stupider with every episode. I’m so sorry that I wasted all those hours and I won’t do it any more. You are so right that this is like a soap opera – a very bad one, and it seems to get worse by the day. I really want it to end soon.

  8. benlomond2 says:

    Men in powe/authority positions will always be attractive to women. History has it well documented, people should not be surprised by it. Add to it , long streches of time away from family and spouse with the stress of war, our troops have high divorce rates due to repeated tours of combat duty – “If I may not survuve tomorrow, what the heck….” It doesn’t mean they can’t still do their jobs, or make good decisons

    you won’t hear comments by people like McCain , because they’ve already been documented for cheating on their wives…..

    • lacy lady says:

      McCAin is on CNN to today—ranting on the Bengazli (sp) story. They are bound and determined to nail The Obama Admin. Yet—they refuse to speak at the lose of over 5,000 in Afghanistan and God only knows in Iraq. Someone ought to tell McCain that the election is OVER and Obama WON!

  9. flex gunship pailn says:

    he was the head of the CIA and now the whole world knows what he was up to on the low down . his job was to keep people from knowing what he was doing .

  10. Pinwheel says:

    I do remember an ad Wx Post, NYT, some others, ran back in ’04-’05, referring to this guy as “General Betrayus” relative to his support and direction, of the ‘surge’ in Iraq. Many of us couldn’t trust him then.

    A dreadful time we live in that there are no people above reproach to serve in these critical but sensitive positions of our government. Thru out the history of covert affairs in America the honor of the people assigned to do the jobs has always been fodder of conspiracy theorists. Some probably deserved closer looks; i.e. Wm Casey, George HW Bush, a few others.

    Is it time we find modern intellegence officers who can either work within the current structure, or effectively dismantle Homeland Security. Talk about saving us from the ‘cliff’. Keep the cooperation among similar agencies, but eliminate the enormously huge beaucracy created. n

  11. KateinCanada says:

    The picture of Petraeus with his embed makes me think of the Jaques Brel lyric where the guy is lamenting:
    “If I could be for only an hour
    If I could be for an hour every day
    If I could be for just one little hour–
    Cute, cute, cute, in a silly-ass way!”

  12. kiksadi50 says:

    why are some people, so anxious to give Petraeus a pass and criticize the FBI for being overzealous & overreaching? The FBI’s original participation was driven by concern that someone might have hacked into the General’s email acct.That could have been an enormous breech of top secret information. Instead they came across a trove of e-mails that proved that the Gen. was having an affair. I personally don’t care if my friends or movie stars But I believe when people accept powerful positions, in the times that we are living in, they are agreeing to hold themselves to a hire standards. You want to fool around? great: just don’t do it while you are a 5 star General leading a war (it’s vs military law),or when head of the CIA when our people in Iraq & Afghan. are getting killed, & looking to their leaders for example & inspiration .Petraeus is going to testify to the infor. he gathered by debriefing those involved in the Benghazi murders.Then he’ll probably get a pass & his lover will have a best selling book. Mrs Petraeus: she gets to suffer public humiliation & heartbreak.
    If you don’t like this posting; please don’t call me a troll.

    • StElias says:

      Unless I missed something the FBI’s original concern had nothing at all to do with General Patraeus or potential hacking of his email account(s).

      Rather, Mrs. Kelley was freaking out over some suspicious emails she had been receiving and was able to induce her Republican FBI division chief “friend” into “carrying the ball” (to use a sports metaphor).

      Then this shirtless wonder put his agency’s resources into action in order to do her bidding. Little did either realize that the both of them plus a high ranking general, the head of the CIA, another woman and perhaps, yet to unfold, a few more would become the center of a universal spectacle.

      One has to be Naive to believe Mrs. Kelley wasn’t pretty much assured that the trivial emails originated from her amorous rival, Mrs. Broadwell. Which just goes to prove the old saying: “You better be careful when you throw crap, as some might splatter on you”.

  13. mike from iowa says:

    Fake Noise reports the man who accused Elmo puppeteer of being naughty has recanted and said he was adult and consensual. Not gonna post the link. The republic and Sesame Strret are safe once more.

  14. lacy lady says:

    If I heard correctly—-Eric Cantor knew about this before the election. I would like to know why he kept this a secret. Maybe he thought it would damage the Republican party? And didn’t the General do an interview with the Rolling Stones magazine while in Afghanistan—-not too complimentary on our President?
    Also interesting that John McCain hasn’t put his two cents worth in on the scandal.
    After hearing about the “other” woman—my son said it sounds like a “cat fight” to him.
    But it is always the wife and family who suffers.

    • I think it was McKristol (sp?) who gave the unflattering interview, wasn’t it? And he got fired.

      I’ve wondered about Eric Cantor as well – if that had been a Democratic leaning high ranking official I’m sure he would have made it public.

      I agree with your son about the cat fight. The person who is the big loser if the wife.

      And I agree with kiksadi50 – why are people so willing to give Petraeus a pass? No, he wasn’t a general anymore, but he was in a position of power. He must have had some sense that he couldn’t keep that secret forever.

      Actions have consequences, and unfortunately the former general has just had a big lesson on that one.

    • Pinwheel says:

      When I read this….. “perhaps through the shirtless ideologue, Eric Cantor finds out about the Petraeus affair, yet the Senate Intelligence committee and the White House are clueless.” I had this flash to Weiner and his pumped up pecs. Cantor has always impressed me as an ego chomping at the bit to get out of his suits.

      I agree the silence of the right wing hawks is telling. n

    • ridovem says:

      Yes… both families… since Ms. Paramour has a husband, who will, of course, be subjected to sympathy of some sort. For all the “intelligence” agencies the U.S. has going for it, I’m not too concerned that we’re missing much (even if the CIA wasn’t really onto the collapse of the Soviet Union, and seems to have ‘overshot’ info on Iraq, etc etc). Maybe we can get by on “group intelligence” (and a group hug, to boot). Onward! ^..^

  15. mike from iowa says:

    No worries. I already notified nutter congressman Steve King via the Sioux City Journal today(about Elmo). Congressional rethugs were wondering why they weren’t notified sooner about this CIA scandal. I imagine they will try to tie all this to Obama and throw out the results of the election. The main reason they weren’t told is because they were on vacash,again. Ms biographer was also making statements about the Benghazi attacks as if she had inside information,which she apparently does not have clearance to have.There goes the republic. Sesame Street is toast.

  16. hedgewytch says:

    Why is it that these Men of Unimpeachable Integrity and Valor, the Icons of Wisdom and Military Prowess, just can’t keep their pants zipped? Must be the testosterone.

  17. If we all went to a movie and watched this we would laugh and swear that people couldn’t possibly be that stupid. Who needs fiction and soap operas on TV when we just have to watch the news.

    I think it’s completely appropriate that he resigned. I agree that the person I feel sorry for is Petraeus’s wife. And I hope we don’t hear anything that she has done that makes me take that back.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Aren’t these Muslim countries where out brave soldiers aren’t allowed to have a leading men’s magazine,at the risk of offending their hosts? I think even rape is enough to get women in these countries killed by their relatives. Why are we still there?

  18. Beaglemom says:

    The world is becoming an increasingly weird place.

    In this whole Petraeus mess the only person I feel any sympathy for is Mrs. Petraeus. He should have known better. I think it was wholly appropriate that he resigned from his CIA directorship. When President Obama was informed by Gen. Petraeus he waited overnight before accepting the resignation.

    Petraeus’ behavior and that of General Allen and the local FBI official all look like episodes of “Homeland” on Showtime. These people, and Congressmen like Anthony Wiener, know how vulnerable communications by email are. If they don’t then they should never have been in any kind of position of power and responsibility. They are all stereotypes for television drama/comedy programs.

    • laurie says:

      Apparently, Petraeus and Broadwell set up a email account anonymously. Instead of sending email to each other, they both had access to the account and their communications were written and saved drafts. Nothing was actually sent . I think I read that they learned this trick from terrorists.

  19. laurainnocal says:

    I am rather bothered that these people are in charge of security and intelligence. It is the stupidity of their communications that is disturbing.

  20. JoAnn Blake says:

    Apparently, Jill Kelley had close ties to the FBI, that’s why they investigated her incident, more as a personal favor. Still not appropriate. I think I read that in the Wash Post — the coverage today went on for pages and pages.

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