This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “news”

The Crocodile Tears Of Steve Schmidt

William Hogarth, "An Election Entertainment" (1755)The first step to a season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities.

~ Steve Schmidt, John McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign Strategist, on renouncing the Republican Party

There is nothing on face of Steve Schmidt’s tweets explaining his departure from the Republican Party that I disagree with. BUT. The renewal that Schmidt is talking about won’t begin until people like him acknowledge their own complicity in bringing about the scourge of Trumpism.  No repudiation of Trump would be complete without that.

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And Then The Murders Began

Lviv pogrom (June-July 1941)People tend to think of the Holocaust as an event, or a constant:  Hitler came to power, next stop Auschwitz.   This is far from historical fact, however. The Holocaust was a process, with a beginning, a middle and, if not an end, then at least a near-culmination. There was an arc that took European societies from accepting Jews as neighbors, fellow citizens and even prominent members of the community — if with a dogwhistle here and there, and occasional down-home Jew-hating talk — to wholesale slaughter, with a side serving of unbridled abuse, rape, torture and gleeful psychological sadism.  It didn’t happen overnight.

The proto-Nazis spent the 1920’s spreading vicious, (literally) cartoonish anti-Semitic propaganda.  Those were the Der Stürmer years. Relentlessly, the future “winners” of the German state called Jews animals, vermin, criminals, racial degenerates, ideological enemies of society.  The first race laws began to be enacted in 1933. Then, in 1935, Jews, Roma and other “undesirables” were stripped of their citizenship and civil rights.  Then came the pogroms. Then came the ghettos.  And then the murders began. Sporadic mass executions were followed by systematic, mechanized slaughter of human beings throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

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Trump Supporters Looking For A Side Of Love

die-frau-meiner-trume-1944-film-rcm300x428u

Screenshot from “Die Frau meiner Träume” (German, 1944)

“I am not a monster,” said every monster ever.

The Serious Journalists of the Both Sides Do It variety know that in the past two weeks, with the avalanche of news of baby jails, baby torture, ICE and Border Patrol straight up disappearing migrant girls, children crying for their mom and dad, fascist goons making fun of children crying for their mom and dad, and more baby torture, the question you’ve really been asking yourself is “But can the best and the brightest among those fascist goons even get laid in the liberal hellhole that is the District of Columbia?”

Take heart, — Serious Journalists of the Both Sides Do It variety have got you covered.

 

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Not A Real Criminal: An Elegy For Aaron Persky’s Judicial Career

"Timoclea Kills the Captain of  Alexander the Great" (Elisabetta Sirani, 1659)This week, the voters of Santa Clara County, California, recalled Judge Aaron Persky by a large margin.  Good riddance.

In 2016, Persky presided over  the trial of Brock Turner, a Stanford freshman convicted of rape assault with the intent to commit rape and “penetration of an intoxicated woman”. The case generated a tornado of media coverage, and featured a shattering victim impact statement, an  obnoxious dad and  sanctimonious victim-blaming.  Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail (he ultimately only served three) and three years’ probation.  The sentence was widely condemned as shockingly lenient, considering the circumstances of the crime, and ultimately cost Persky his judgeship.

During the nasty, messy recall campaign Persky’s defenders have been both vocal and eloquent in their opposition. The argument of the anti-recall campaign boils down to the idea that Persky merely followed California’s sentencing guidelines, which enumerate factors relevant to considering leniency.* Another, frankly paradoxical, justification for Persky’s sentence is that the guidelines simultaneously give judges a lot of discretion in sentencing AND somehow tie judges’ hands.  If you care about this case, I urge you to read not only the victim’s impact statement, but also  Brock Turner’s statement and Judge Persky’s  sentencing decision.  Having read all those, here is where I believe Persky and his defenders went wrong:

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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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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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