This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Friday Shorts: This Week in News

Welcome to Friday Shorts and this week’s news roundup.

On the menu: (1) Columbus Day nonsense; (2) Sessions’ asylum law freakout; and (3) Las Vegas/Weinstein.

 

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Run It Like A Business, Part 2: The Myth Of The For-Profit Democracy

Mikhail Kostin, "In Stalin's Factory" (1949)Part 1

One of the justifications that Trump supporters invariably offer for putting a bunch of business executives in charge of the country is that the US needs to be operated like a for-profit business.  Who wouldn’t like America’s governance to resemble the Trump Organization?  I suppose your average well-to-do Trumper dreams of the days when this whole land will be a Trump golf course, and assumes he’ll be among those who tee off in goofy outfits, and not one of the grossly underpaid, ill-treated staff.

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Run It Like A Business, Part 1: The Myth of Valuable “Business Experience”

Louis Alexandre Eustache Loursay, "Les Incroyables" (1975)My sincerest hope for the eventual aftermath of the Trumpist era is that we can finally put to bed the ludicrous notion that career businessmen make good statesmen for no other reason than  their business experience.

I imagine far-off future students of history chuckling at our era, when a big chunk of the country lost its goddamned mind and came to believe that wealth and self-serving dealing alone were the most desirable traits in a political leader; when people who were knowledgeable about their jobs were scoffed at; when the prior President’s experience in public service was invoked as a slur, as if being an actual public servant is a character flaw that should irreparably disqualify one from the Presidency.

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The Myth Of Parties Of Ideas

Louis-Léopold Boilly, "Les Hommes se disputent" (1818)Trump’s surprising win in 2016 led to a wide proliferation of myths about why the Democrats lost.  As I’ve been saying since Day 1, most of those pithy analyses are ludicrous, and I am glad that at least now, six months in, some professional commentators are waking up to the reality that there is no point in courting the elusive Trump Voter.  Still, many of these myths persist.  Today’s entry into the Trump Era Hot Takes Hall of Fame is the myth of progressives having “no ideas”.

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What Does This Movie Mean? Ancient Greece in 1980’s Texas: The Coens’ “Blood Simple”

MV5BOWQwZTFhNTYtN2I5Ny00MDVlLTkwMDgtMzBhZGU5NTFlOTMzL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk1NTMyNzM@._V1_SY500_CR0,0,354,500_AL_Lets begin by dispelling a common misconception among the movie’s following:  Julian Marty is not Greek — at least not literally.  He merely references Greece in conversation parallel to how Loren Visser references Russia.  Thus, the subtext of the movie immediately sets up this juxtaposition:  Greece, the land of civilization, versus Russia, the land of bears.  But then, the Coens immediately complicate it by assigning each symbol the other’s qualities:  Greece is where “they cut off the head of the messenger” if he brings bad news, and Russia is  an ordered society where everyone pulls for everyone else (“that’s the theory, anyway”, as Visser qualifies it).  The line between civilization and nature, order and chaos, refinement and barbarity, reason and impulse, can never be presumed — and nowhere is this more true than in a watering hole.

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Relax And Stop Pining For Impeachment

Eugène Delacroix,

You know what I don’t get?  On this 120-ish day of the Trump Presidency, his administration is running around like a chicken without a head, a Special Prosecutor (a good one!) has been appointed to excavate Trump’s sordid Russia stuff, yet most of what I hear in the liberal circles has to do with the tenuous likelihood of impeachment.  The pessimism is puzzling.  Right now, the Democrats are in as good a position as they’ve been since the election, and impeachment — much less a successful one — is probably the last thing we want.

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That United Airlines Passenger: The Saga Continues

United Boeing 767-300 at Chicago O'Haire

Oh, perfect.  First, a sixty-nine year-old man was told he was being booted off the flight he paid for, because reasons.  Then he was dragged away and battered by those valiant defenders of corporate profit, Chicago PD, who managed to re-accommodate his face into an armrest with enough force to draw blood.  That was yesterday.

 

Now comes the character assassination.

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Our New Normal

So this happened.  By now, you have probably seen the harrowing video of a United passenger being violently “re-accommodated” off an overbooked flight for refusing to voluntarily relinquish his paid-for seat to an airline employee.

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Uber Hate

800px-nyc_taxi_in_motionMy family came to the United States during the early 1990’s recession.  My father had been a railroad engineer back in Russia, mostly working the geriatric section of the network, the track between Moscow and (then) Leningrad.  In the States, he discovered to his chagrin that the railroads and the train industry were in the crapper, and so the only job he could find that matched his education and skills was for a custom air-conditioning company, which offered him $8.25 an hour with no benefits — provided he first worked for them for six months without pay, “as a volunteer”.  And so, like many youngish Soviet immigrants at that time, my father became a livery driver.

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Well, I Guess Kellyanne Conway Never Did Attend Charm And Beauty School

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Sitting on the floor when you had guests was at the time a gesture signifying simplicity, informality, liberal politics, hospitality, and a Parisian way of life. The passion with which Marie-Claude sat on all floors was such that Franz began to worry she would take to sitting on the floor of the shop where she bought her cigarettes.

~ Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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