Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Quick Hits: Volume CXXIV

- In a presidential campaign that has defied all logic and conventional wisdom, why should Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump for President come as any surprise?

Yes, logic and common sense in this cycle died long ago. And if you believe National Review columnist Jim Geraghty, the Tea Party Movement has also assumed room temperature.

Trump’s an odd figure to win the heart of a public figure once so synonymous with the tea-party movement. He boasts of the influence his money has bought him with politicians, including Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, and Harry Reid, some of the movement’s biggest enemies. He supported the TARP and auto bailouts and praised socialized medicine. He’s currently touting ethanol subsidies to the rafters in Iowa, and his tax plan would increase the deficit by $10 trillion, according to the Tax Foundation. The day the Tea Party debuted, he praised Obama as “a champion.”

And yet, here we are. The woman who became the Tea Party’s biggest star is officially behind Trump. How did the movement come to this? Why is it so marginal compared to the heights of its power in 2009 and 2010? Is it even a coherent political force anymore?

One thing that continually amazes me is how those who worked to get Republicans elected in the recent past were lectured by the likes of Palin et al that it's better to lose on core principles than win while compromising them. It's quite obvious that Palin and her ilk have abandoned that strategy. What's scary is they probably don't even realize it. This all about sticking a proverbial thumb in the eye of the GOP "elites."

- Suppose comedian Jeff Foxworthy became offended if a fan asked him if he found a car while mowing his lawn. How about if said fan also asked "Hey Jeff, if your porch collapsed, would it kill 5 dogs?" One would question whether Foxworthy should be so indignant given he's made a fortune on sharing similar anecdotes.

Yes, those are obviously fictional accounts. However, I'd have to say that this incident is pretty analogous to what I conveyed above.

- I've seen plenty of buzz on social media regarding the Netflix TV series Making a Murderer. It's a documentary about a man named Steven Avery, who was exonerated on a rape charge after serving 18 years in jail. After exposing corruption in the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin sheriff's department, Avery was then charged (and ultimately convicted) with murdering photographer Teresa Halbach. The crux of the issue is the same department that bungled Avery's rape case should not have been allowed to investigate the Halbach murder.

I personally have not indulged in this mini series, but Breitbart writer John Nolte did so recently and seemed to believe that filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos either omitted or woefully under-emphasized some key facts.

This is what the documentarians did not want us to know:

1. The bullet found in Avery’s garage came from Avery’s .22 rifle and contained Halbach’s DNA.

2. Handcuffs and leg irons were found in Avery’s home (a trailer), and Steven Avery admitted to purchasing them (for his girlfriend).

3. The mysterious key to Halbach’s car, the key that seemed to appear out of nowhere, has DNA from Avery’s sweat on it. You can plant blood, hair, and fibers. You cannot plant sweat.

4. Avery’s sweat DNA was also found on Halbach’s vehicle.

5. Using a false name, Avery specifically requested Halbach take the photographs of the vehicle he wanted to sell.

6. On three different occasions, on the day she was murdered, Avery not only called Halbach, he twice attempted to hide his identity using a *67 feature.

7. Brendan Dassey’s mother reported that, per her son, the large bleach stains she saw on his jeans on the night of the murder came from helping his uncle clean the garage floor, where the .22 bullet was found. The documentary makes a very big deal out of the lack of forensic evidence at the murder scene (the garage) but tells us nothing about the bleach stains.

8. Halbach’s cell phone was found in the burn pit. Slate explains why it matters that this crucial piece of evidence was left out by the filmmakers:

The issue of the cellphone is especially problematic. The series implies that whoever accessed Teresa Halbach’s phone on the day she died (which both Halbach’s brother and her ex-boyfriend admit to doing) might have been involved in her murder. But anyone with physical access to Halbach’s phone would have also been able to access her voice mail. Is that why this piece of evidence was left out?

9. Per a cellmate, while in prison, Avery openly fantasized about building a torture chamber for women.

10. Avery has a very troubling history of sexual violence. Slate again:

What’s more, at the time of Halbach’s disappearance, Steven Avery was being investigated for the alleged 2004 sexual assault of a teenage female relative, who claimed that Avery threatened to “kill her family” if she told anyone about it. Worse, Dassey alleged in a phone call to his mother that in the past Avery had touched him in places that made him “uncomfortable.” Stachowski claims that Avery beat her repeatedly, and Penny Beerntsen, who mistakenly identified Avery as her attacker in the 1985 rape, says that Avery called her up shortly after his exoneration, asking for money to “buy a house.”

11. Teresa Halbach had been out to Avery’s place in the past to take photographs and didn’t want to go back that day because he had once answered the door wearing only a towel.

One general sentiment I've witnessed is a belief that corruption in the Manitowoc legal system and the guilt of Avery & Dassey are mutually exclusive. As such, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker felt compelled to respond to pleas from viewers who wanted the two convicts pardoned.

It seems that this series could do just as effective a job of accurately depicting the shenanigans in Manitowoc County while also broaching the damning evidence used to convict the accused. Emphasizing the former while barely (if it all) addressing the latter would give one the impression of this being a propaganda series.


1 comment:

jerrye92002 said...

"...lectured by the likes of Palin et al that it's better to lose on core principles than win while compromising them."

I know there is a too-large segment of what SHOULD be the Republican base that believes this way. I just never heard Sarah Palin say it. And by the way, that is and always was a false choice-- to lose on principle or compromise them and win. The purpose of the campaign should be to WIN on principle. If you don't win, you lose.

All that said, it doesn't make any ideological sense to endorse Trump other than to sign on to his angry rhetoric about the "establishment." Or maybe line up for a VP slot or cabinet post.