Murdaugh, Murdoch, Mother Courage...
A Cluster Of Stories To Start the Week But Only One Involves Jared Kushner
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Some days I freeze before writing this newsletter because there are too many topics to do justice to. As someone who was schooled in old-fashioned journalism, I’ve known for thirty years that the general rule of writing a “column,” at least in a “newspaper,” is to stick to one topic and do it well.
But here I am on Substack. Where “newspaper rules” no longer apply. And we are invited to reinvent the wheel. And, one of the things I was told by the wise people at Substack when I started the newsletter was that readers like to feel inside my head, and my process, which is somewhat daunting, given the mad scramble that often goes on in there.
But today I feel I have some interesting snippets on a variety of stories that I don’t particularly want to blow out of proportion. I just want to give you my stream of consciousness, so to speak.
First, I got so many comments after my two Q and A’s with Kira, that I did want to respond to that. In my opinion – and you can always disagree – Kira is not “stupid,” and certainly not “imbecilic.” She may be pro-Putin, yes, but she is Russian. Were she to criticize Putin she’d likely be imprisoned for 15 years upon her return to Moscow.
I feel that those of you who thought I should have pushed back on her narrative that she’s planned a pregnancy in the US in order to return to Russia and get a mortgage through Putin’s Maternity Capital program may have missed the point of what I was trying to show, with her words, not mine. (And that may well be my fault. It’s hard to capture someone’s tone in a written Q and A. Kira’s accent makes her hard to understand, which is why I didn’t give the audio).
As I see it, Kira is a woman trying to survive in a world where, due to the war in Ukraine, her job opportunities in New York suddenly dried up, and she was socially ostracized. It would be great if she could just assimilate into the States, but given that she still has one young child in Russia, that’s not really an option.
So, she’s had to adapt to survive in her Russian/American vortex. That she felt she had to get pregnant to do so, to me is a shocking reminder of Putin’s cunning – and his effective propaganda. That was why I gave her so much room in the interview. Her falsely bright narrative reminds me of another falsely bright wartime narrative I studied as a teenager: that of the protagonist in the play Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, in which a woman fights to survive in a war controlled by men, and the effort to live on her own terms not only does not work, it backfires horrifically.
But, I welcome your feedback. It helps me get to know you, and understand what interests you, even if it is inflammatory. It also tells me if I haven’t conveyed something in the way I meant to.
On a somewhat lighter note, we are now in week six of the Alex Murdaugh murder trial, which I think could wind up this week. My sources in South Carolina predict a hung jury. Not just because Murdaugh has been an effective advocate for himself on the witness stand, but because I am told it’s so cold in the courtroom, that the jury can’t wait to leave. One juror sits huddled in a blanket, and a little strangely, and wears Kleenex stufffed in her ears.
So many people in South Carolina are watching the trial on TV that Mr. Friendly’s, an upscale restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina, said it would give away lunch half price last week due to the sudden lack of business while Murdaugh testified.