Ten Things I Think about the News – July 22nd

Editors Note: just over a week ago, I wrote a fairly personal letter to readers of this website explaining the recent, sporadic output of my work here. Among the problems I described facing included a genuine, overwhelming sense that the news was just happening too damn fast right now to possibly cover all of the stories that truly needed to be covered because the mainstream media just wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain. In the conclusion of that letter, I resolved to release shorter posts at more regular intervals in an effort to properly grasp the rapid-fire, thoroughly under-reported issues our media actively ignores in a more timely manner – and then I promptly spent eleven days churning out precisely two longform essays that weighed in together at around ten thousand words.

In the meantime, the world and the news continued forward at the same blazing pace that had worn me out in the first place. In an effort to catch up on some of those stories, I’d like to present you with ten fast thoughts I have about events or programs in the recent news. I’m not entirely sure who I stole this idea off of, it might have been sportswriter Peter King actually, but I think it might be a good way to offer at least some brief ideas and perspectives on the chaotic events of what has now become the most objectively terrifying year of my lifetime.

 

“For what? For lies, for bullshit lies?” – Steve Boyer, Born on the Fourth of July

 
1) There is no such thing as targeted bombing; it is an entirely made up term designed to make people feel better about the United States (and other Western powers) being in a perpetual state of war. Furthermore, there is no such thing as an accidental bombing – when our government decides to drop bombs, they do so knowing the risks involved full well. Prayers for Syria are not enough; it’s time to end US imperialism and stop killing innocent people for the military industrial complex and/or US corporate interests. As many as 100 innocent civilians died in Syria to satisfy some existential, war on terror that has produced few, if any, positive results for anyone; except the bought and sold politicians who vote for these strikes. There will be no marches, no vigils, no days of media coverage for these people but at the very fucking least, we can demand our government stop killing more civilians so they can justify buying more goddamn bombs.

2) The best news program on “television” stars a talented, young comedian and it sure as shit isn’t Trevor Noah. Throughout this election cycle I’ve found myself consistently impressed with the work of Lee Camp and his band of comedic correspondents on the weekly RT program; Redacted Tonight. Although there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry who claim to be covering the stories other networks are afraid to cover, the truth is Redacted Tonight is actually doing it. With a firm focus on drawing logical conclusions from hard data and credible guests; as well as the good sense to steer clear of the truly “tinfoil hat” type nonsense that plagues other shows making that same promise – Redacted Tonight is probably the smartest show on the market. Check out this five minute primer on Neoliberal Multiculturalism by correspondent John F. O’Donnell for a good example of the kind of intelligent, informative comedy these guys are making (and almost nobody else is.)

3) Although noted conservative/neoliberal columnist Josh Barro has not always been my favorite journalist, his July 14th piece on Hillary Clinton’s ongoing trust issues for Business Insider was actually one of the more honest and well researched articles on Clinton I’ve read in months. In particular, I give Josh full marks for touching on the ongoing problems with the Clinton Foundation in a more than superficial way – something of a rarity from any writer who’s almost certainly voting for Hillary Clinton this fall. As I said to Josh on Twitter, if I’m going to blast journalists when they take a dive for the machine; I should also point out when they take a risk by delivering actual, critical journalism about that very same system.

4) The biggest Donald Trump scandal in this election is an issue that almost nobody is talking about enough – namely that Trump donated $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election fund a mere four days after she announced the state was considering joining a New York probe into fraud/criminal activities by Trump University. Unsurprisingly, the Florida AG quickly decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a lawsuit almost immediately after the check was received. Trump’s clownery gets more play on the airwaves, but that sure as shit looks like a bribe to me folks and it would to you if the mainstream media had bothered to focus on it for more than one day.

5) Speaking of Trump – there is literally, not one single person in the entire country who was going to vote for Casino Mussolini that gives a flying fuck if Melania plagiarized parts of her speech at the Republican National Convention from Michelle Obama. For the love of christ folks, these people are throwing their support behind a man who wants to ban an entire fucking religion, kill the families of “terrorists” and periodically retweets the thoughts of self-identified white nationalists; I’m pretty sure the unholy sin of fucking plagiarism hasn’t even crossed their goddamn minds. It says a lot about the priorities of mainstream media types when they start pushing “gotcha” stories about an irrelevant speech by Trump’s wife instead of absolutely eviscerating Congressman Steve King at every possible moment for saying literally the most racist thing I’ve heard on television in my entire goddamn life. Can someone, anyone explain to me why the media isn’t demanding King resign immediately?

6) There is no way on god’s green earth you can tell me there isn’t a problem with racist and violent policing in the United States after the videos we’ve seen recently but holy shit does the (non-fatal) shooting of Charles Kinsey take the mutherfucking cake and come back for ice-cream my friends. We are talking about a mental health professional who clearly identifies himself to the police while trying to protect his patient. They’re both on the ground and Kinsey is actually lying flat on his back with his hands in the air explaining to officers that his patient is just holding a toy truck. Of course, Kinsey is black, his patient is autistic and this story ends with the professional therapist getting shot in the leg. When Kinsey directly asks the cop “why did you shoot me” he replies “I don’t know.” Well, I don’t know either – but I have something of an inkling and it’s time for a better standard of policing in this country. Even if you buy the Police Union’s highly suspect excuse that they were actually trying to shoot the light-skinned, autistic guy sitting down with a gleaming white, plastic toy truck that looks nothing like a gun – isn’t that still a massive fucking problem? The Justice Department is empowered to assume control over and even disband/reform corrupt, racist police departments; it’s time to consider using that power on cops who refuse to stop shooting unarmed people, black men in particular – whether it’s because of racism, fear or carelessness is no longer fucking relevant and there’s a lot of people out there looking for a steady job with good benefits and a pension. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when you promote a culture of lawlessness by refusing to hold police accountable for murdering African Americans in the street, you create a culture where desperate, crazy people feel they have no choice but to take justice into their own hands. It’s time to stop racking up body counts and end this “war” – but that won’t happen until police in the United States stop behaving like an occupying army in black and poor communities.

7) Few words in the English language can properly express how terrified I am of the precedent set by the Dallas Police Department when they used a surplus, military-grade bomb disposal robot to literally assassinate Micah Johnson and end the standoff after he murdered five police officers. Although few would argue against the idea that Johnson was indeed a serious threat to kill more police officers, the usage of the robot and more chillingly, the statements given by the DPD to justify the use of the robot are utterly horrifying. If the police can use a robot armed with a bomb to literally blow you up, why can’t that robot fly? Furthermore, why does that robot have to blow you up – can’t it just shoot you? If you’ve realized that I’m describing a military, remote-controlled drone by now then surely you understand the massive, terrifying problem we’re facing don’t you? Today, the technology was used to finish off someone very few people in the country wanted to stay alive but if the standard for using such weapons is really “other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger” then why would the police ever engage another suspect at all? What happened to negotiating until they surrender? Wasn’t Johnson holed up in a parking garage he couldn’t escape from? Welcome to our fascinating, drone death future my friends!

8) There is not one single goddamn person on Twitter that, the company actually wants on Twitter, who is sad to see Milo Yiannopoulos eat what is apparently a lifetime ban from the platform. This isn’t a first amendment issue because Twitter is a private corporation with terms of service you agree to when you sign up for an account and while I agree that it’s awfully hard to be a right-wing, shock-peddling “journalist” without Twitter – Milo should have thought of that before he spent years behaving like a shit online. The government didn’t ban Milo and he’s absolutely free to use another social media platform or even start up his own social media platform (with the help of Breitbart News, no doubt) in this magnificent capitalism system – what’s that phrase right wing nutjubs are always using? Can’t Milo “pull himself up by his bootstraps” or is that only a superpower available to poor minorities in neocon-land? I am, mildly worried about the precedent Twitter has established here and it’ll probably make me “quote tweet” idiots a little less often to avoid “siccing my followers on them” – but is that really such a bad thing? We all know Milo went down because he’s a long term, volume offender who picked the wrong high-profile target this time – when they suspend someone who isn’t actively nurturing an online pack of white nationalist shitlords, let me know.

9) Although the National Basketball Association remains a faceless, soulless pack of greedy billionaires and the move was likely undertaken purely for public relations purposes – I applaud the NBA’s decision to pull the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina over the states openly bigoted “bathroom bill.” The simple truth is that no amount of pleading, reasoning or evidence will ever convince certain types of politicians and to some degree, the communities that elect them, to behave like civilized human beings. I know this decision will negatively impact a lot of innocent people who are actively dedicated to fighting for equality in the state, but as we’ve learned from the NCAA’s negotiations with Indiana – all these politicians understand is money; namely losing money for being openly bigoted. When local business and other politicians start to speak out against the bill that’s costing them so much money, things will likely change pretty quickly in North Carolina; the NBA is just helping that day come about a little bit sooner.

10) There was a time, not so long ago, when Dan Savage was a tireless activist for equality and gay rights as a whole. Unfortunately, that time appears to be over as Savage has fully devolved into a worthless, talking point repetition machine using neoliberal identity politics to shame people into behaving the way he wants them to. This is of course after experimenting with myopic warmongering way back during the Iraq war, but I digress. Today, my advice to Savage would be to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that being a wealthy, white, gay man is absolutely “being a minority on easy mode” in 2016 and he should shut the fuck up about what otherpasty white people” should and shouldn’t do with their vote. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out Dan, because nobody on the left is gonna miss you sweetheart.

 

  • Nina Illingworth

 

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