The Worst New Thing in the World Today
ISIS Attacks in Syria Kill 148 and Counting
Syria's often a source of bad news these days, but today is particularly bad. A series of coordinated suicide bombing attacks were carried out by ISIS in areas that are held by the Syrian government and which house a portion of Russia's military presence. Antiwar.com is reporting a death toll of 148 people, mostly civilians. Tragedies in Syria are so common that this almost isn't even newsworthy. But it's always worth considering what the reaction would have been if this occurred in Europe or the US. It looks like this attack will have killed more than either the Paris or Brussels attacks when all the bodies are counted. But the victims in this case were Syrians--and not just any Syrians either, ones living in an area controlled by / loyal to Assad--so the probability of significant attention or sympathy for this incident from the West rapidly approaches zero.
Cop Involved in Freddie Gray Death Acquitted
One of the officers who participated in the needless and ultimately fatal arrest of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray was acquitted yesterday. Readers will recall that Freddie Gray's death in police custody was another incident in a string of dubious high-profile deaths of black men that occurred at the hands of the authorities. And given this background, it's tempting to view this as another case where a cop got away with murder, but the case for this particular officer appears somewhat more complicated. According to summary at The Washington Post, the officer was more of a bystander than a participant. Given the nature of what was happening--and the fact that being a police officer involves protecting the citizens from harm (including the ones accused of crime)--it seems like passive acquiescence ought to warrant at least some kind of negligence. But the officer was not charged with that, and at least at first glance, it appears the trial had some legitimacy in the eyes of Baltimore residents. Minor protests occurred in the wake of the verdict, but no large-scale riots yet. Let's hope that part continues.
Also, we should mention that, whatever one thinks of today's verdict, the prosecutors still deserve a lot of credit for actually trying to prosecute the officers involved. Yes, it is their job, but it's an aspect that often goes unmet for many prosecutors around the country. By attempting to prosecute this incident, the prosecutors of Baltimore are frankly giving the city a chance to heal and avoid further unrest.
Today's semi-positive story comes once again, with our apologies, from the 2016 Election cycle. In particular, the general election contest between Donald Trump and (presumably) Hillary Clinton is heating up, and Donald's campaign team appears to be living up to expectations. They just released a new ad reminding Americans that Bill Clinton was accused of rape by multiple different women.
You might be wondering why a candidate's spouse's sexual (and/or criminal) transgressions should matter at all. And the answer is obviously very little. But so long as Hillary is intent on making women a central issue in the campaign, Trump is smart to revive old stories on the depravity of Hillary's partner--particularly since at least some of them appear to be quite credible and even claim that Hillary knew about them. In a way, it's also a helpful microcosm for the main difference I can discern between Hillary and Trump. Trump says horrible things all the time when it comes foreign policy. Meanwhile, Hillary has the good sense to stick with political euphemisms that sound less terrifying, like using "smart power". But for all the bombast, Trump hasn't killed anyone yet; the same thing cannot be said for the policies of Hillary Clinton. True, Trump hasn't been in a position of sufficient power where he could readily order people to be killed, and maybe it's a matter of time. But what does it tell us about Hillary Clinton that when she did have that power, she used it to start an aggressive war?
So it is on the question of women too. Here, like everywhere else, Trump says abhorrent, brutish things on the daily. But on the other hand, he hasn't had multiple credible women come forward accusing him (or his spouse) of rape, nor, to my knowledge, has anyone alleged that he helped cover up any assaults by his spouse.
(Readers might recall a recent sensational story about Trump and another individual sexually assaulting a teenage girl. In that case, however, it was clear that the accuser had something to gain (suing for millions of dollars) and the story seems to have fallen flat quickly after it was published. Obviously, this is rather different from the multiple allegations that have followed Bill Clinton around for much of his political life.)
Also, standard disclaimer: I won't be voting for Trump or Clinton. I hope they both lose.
If You Only Learn One (More) Thing
Make it this Dateline interview with Juanita Broaddrick (long version, short version), formerly known as Jane Doe #5, who is one of the alleged rape victims of Bill Clinton. Just listen to it and judge for yourself. It's tough to see what she had to gain by making it up. Some people are desperate for fame, it's true. But being known as a rape victim of a powerful politician, and inviting all the scrutiny that comes with that seems like a high price to pay for if it was just a hoax. Obviously, you can be the judge, but I believe her.