Noted in passing 2017 May 16

Three countries lead the world in imprisoning journalists

In a column published yesterday (May 15) on the Columbia Journalism Review website, Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalist pointed out that as of the end of 2016 there were 259 journalists imprisoned world wide, the most in recent history. Turkey holds the most, at least 81. China comes in second with 38, and Egypt third with 25. Those three countries count for more than half.

The U.S. has long promoted freedom of the press, but the current administration routinely attacks legitimate news organizations as “fake news,” and in a speech May 3 the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, announced a de-emphasis on human rights in U.S. foreign policy.

Trump’s bragging

In his latest column in yesterday’s The New York Times moderate conservative David Books makes what should be an obvious point, namely, that Trump’s constant (and frequently dishonest) self-promoting boasting is behavior most people grow out of in childhood. Brooks quotes several recent instances, e.g. Trump’s telling Time magazine, “In a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care,” and bragging to the Associated Press, concerning his speech to a joint session of Congress, “A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.”

There are of course plenty of other familiar examples Brooks doesn’t bother to repeat — Trump’s false insistence that his inauguration had the biggest crowd ever and his saying, over and over again, that he won the electoral vote by a historic landslide. His bragging about being famous lets him kiss and grope women at will was obnoxious in many ways, but it was also yet another example of bragging. Brooks’s point is that in this and other things (his notoriously short attention span, for example) Trump’s behavior is remarkably childish.

What puzzles me is why Trump’s supporters — in most polls well over a third of voters — don’t find this behavior more off-putting.

Morning Joe hosts report Kellyanne Conway can after all feel shame

According to Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, “alternative facts” enthusiast and Trump occasional spokesweasel Kellyanne Conway used to say, off the air after defending Trump, “Blech, I need to take a shower.”


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