This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “mainstream media”

This Week In News: Tell Me Who Your Friends Are

Pieter Breughel the Younger, "Drunkard On An Egg" (late 16th-early 17th centuries)“Tell me what company though keepest and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”

~ Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Chapter XXIII

This past week’s news cycle has been dominated by the mind-numbing scandal over whether presidents call the families of fallen soldiers and which presidents do it better (or at all).  To recap, this is how it all went down, following a by-now well-trod path familiar to kindergarteners: first Trump insinuated that Obama never called any families to  offer condolences for fallen service members; next, this allegation was proven false; next, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on the false claim; then a Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, Frederica Wilson, accused Trump of making an insensitive remark to a military widow during a phone call; in response, Trump accused Wilson of fabrication; and it went downhill from there.  As much as I despise Trump, this was, initially, an example of the outrage machine going into overdrive.  It is well-known that Trump is inarticulate and has an obnoxious delivery, so he couldn’t convey a sensitive statement like one of condolences for a loved one if his life depended on it.  Trump made a doody on Twitter, because it’s just another day (in paradise).

What was remarkable, however, was his Chief of Staff, John Kelly’s deeply shameful press conference on Thursday.  In his statement (that the reviled Librul Fake News Media for some reason tended to characterize as “moving”), he essentially confirmed Wilson’s account of Trump’s phone call to the widow, but then attacked Wilson with a fresh claim that was proven false within hours.  I don’t want to rehash all the back-and-forth.  Here is a good summary.

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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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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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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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Steven Avery’s Prosecutor Fights Back, Proving He Was Portrayed Fairly

Quesnay_De_Beaurepaire_Vanity_Fair_4_February_1893

Not Ken Kratz

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s ten-part documentary, Making a Murderer, about a man who spent eighteen years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, and was later very likely framed for another crime, go see it now.  Have plenty of liquor and cute bunny pictures on hand; you are going to need both.  It is one of the most affecting documentaries of all time and a wholly infuriating look at the American criminal justice system.

If you have seen it, then you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the prosecutor in Steven Avery’s and Brendan Dassey’s trials for the murder of Teresa Halbach, Ken Kratz, has come to know the wrath of the Internet (the usual: furious Yelp reviews, harassing e-mails, death threats, and so forth).  And so, The Kratz is fighting back.   Read more…

Nine Stupidest Things People Like to Say in Defense of Hateful “Humor”

Lighten up, it's only art.

Relax, it’s only art.

I continue my frustrated “Stupid Things People Like to Say” series. Today’s entry: stupid things people like to say in defense of bigotry, especially bigoted “humor”. My post focuses on anti-Semitism, but I think a lot of what I say here is applicable to other forms of bigotry as well. Read more…

“Stupid” Is The Least Of It

Unknown, "A Laughing Fool" (c. 1500)So this Dutch 14-year-old got herself arrested for tweeting a terrorist threat at American Airlines. Copycats inevitably followed, because the world is apparently full of people who think that the worst thing about such tweets is that they are “stupid jokes”. Read more…

More Stupid Things People Like to Say: Third Installment

John William Waterhouse, "A Tale From the Decameron" (1916)People love saying things that sound clever. Especially people who aren’t very bright. Take that combination — an intellectually mediocre person and a desire to appear “deep” — and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the birth of notions so intensely stupid, they are destined to endure forever. These are notions that end up on “inspirational” posters of sunsets and beaches. These are notions that the world’s vulgarians repeat over and over — and still think themselves not only well-informed, but original. So here is my third list of certain pearls of “wisdom” that are common as dirt — and explanations as to how they are actually idiotic. (You can find prior installments here and here). Read more…

“Restorative Justice” Is Potentially Destructive, Too

Jakub Schikaneder, "Murder in the House" (1890)The New York Times magazine has published an article about the application of the “restorative justice” model to a Florida murder case. To get this out of the way immediately (I’ll get to the details later), the case centers on a 19-year-old who shot his girlfriend in the face. The families of the perpetrator and the victim were quite close. The girl’s parents and siblings, who described themselves as devout Catholics, elected to forgive the murderer, and to work that forgiveness into getting him a reduced sentence and sparing him the anguish of a trial. They did it because Jesus, and also because they didn’t want to become “trapped in anger” over the boy they loved blowing their daughter’s and sister’s head off while she was on her knees and pleading for her life. The article bears a pithy title, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” — to let you know right away on which side of the issue the author comes down and also to prepare you for the warm and fuzzy feeling this article is apparently supposed to give you. Alas, it has mostly left me cold. Read more…

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