Sunday, November 12, 2023
Speaking of Which
I started this mid-week, way too early for what I rarely intend as
anything more than casual note-taking, but with elections on Tuesday
and the "kiddie-table debate" on Wednesday (credit the quote to SNL's
Trump personifier), the stories piled up fast. Most of the early ones
just got links, but some inevitably provoked one-liners, and soon
enough longer disquisitions ensued. But some of the most important
pieces are barely noted, like the Savage and Shafer pieces on Trump's
second-term ambitions. (Sure, they're not exactly new news, but the
new articles are more detailed and comprehensive.)
Still, mostly Israel this week, mostly rehashing points that were
obvious from the start of October 7. The story there is, as it's
always been, about power and resistance. As noted
last week, Gabriel Winant described Israel as "a machine for
the conversion of grief into power." That grief brings with it a
great deal of anger and righteousness, which goes a long ways to
explaining why Israeli power has been remarkably successful for
so long. But the problem is that power never quite works the way
you want it to. Every effort to exercise power, to impose your
will on other people, meets the resistance of what we might as
well call the human spirit. And that resistance takes a toll,
both physical and psychic, as despite the hubris of the powerful,
they too have human spirits.
So while the "Israel-Hamas War" since October 7, starting with
one spectacular day of rebellion followed by a month-and-counting
of relentless, methodical slaughter, has been an object lesson in
the massive superiority of Israeli military power, it doesn't feel
like a victory, least of all to the Israelis. For one thing, the
revolt punctured Israel's long-held belief that power makes them
invulnerable. For another, they're slowly coming to realize that
they can't kill and destroy enough to stamp out resistance, which
will return and flourish in their ruins. And finally, they're
beginning to suspect that any victory they can claim will prove
hollow. In this understanding, the world is moving way ahead of
its leaders, perhaps because the human spirit is concentrated
among the powerless, among those whose minds aren't corrupted by
their pursuit and cultivation of power.
Given this, calling for an immediate cease-fire should be the
easiest political decision ever. Even if your sympathies and/or
identity is fully with Israel, an immediate halt is the only way
to stop adding to the cumulative damage, not just to Palestinian
lives but to Israel's tarnished humanity. Because, and we should
be absolutely clear on this, what Israel has been doing for more
than a month now isn't self-defense, isn't deterrence, isn't even
retaliation: it is genocide. That is the intent, and that is the
effect of their tools and tactics. Genocide is a practice that
the whole world should, and eventually will, condemn. And while
the roots of the impulse run deep in Israel's political history,
down to the very core tenets of Zionism, we should understand
that the actions were conscious decisions of specific political
leaders, aided by key people who followed their orders, abetted
by political parties that bought into their mindset. While it is
very unlikely that even those leaders will ever be adequately
punished -- as if such a thing is even possible -- unwinding their
support will start to make amends.
It feels like I should keep going with this argument, but I'm
dead tired, and rather sick of the whole thing, so will leave it
I tossed this
tweet out on Thursday:
Re Biden's polls, this "wag the dog" effect doesn't seem to be working.
Rather than rallying behind the leader, it seems like he's getting
blamed for all wars, even when few object to his policy. Have folks
begun to realize all wars are preventable? So each reveals failure!
Top story threads:
Israel: The ground war, ostensibly against Hamas, as well as
the air war, really against all of Gaza, continues as it has since the
Oct. 7 prison break. This section quickly gets filled up with opinion
pieces, largely due to our vantage point far from the action, partly
due to our intimate involvement with the long-running conflict, and
the dire need to insist on a cease fire to put a stop to the mounting
destruction, and allow for some measure of recovery to begin. So the
actual day-to-day details tend to escape my interest. To obtain some
sense of that, I thought I'd just list the headlines in the New York
Times "updates" file(s):
- More patients die at major Gaza hospital amid fuel delivery
- Crisis heightens at Gaza's main hospital amid dispute over
desperately needed fuel.
- The U.S. carried out another round of airstrikes in Syria on
- Netanyahu says he sees no role for the Palestinian Authority
in Gaza, for now.
- Al-Quds Hospital halts operation as it runs out of fuel and
power, the Red Crescent says.
- The U.S. warns Israel to avoid fighting in hospitals.
- Over 100,000 march in France against antisemitism.
- A U.N. residential compound in southern Gaza came under fire,
- Demands grow for a pause in fighting as the humanitarian
- Chris Christie is the first Republican presidential candidate
to visit Israel since Oct. 7.
- Calls grow for Israel to pause fighting
- Demands grow for a pause in fighting as the humanitarian situation
- Gaza's main hospital struggles to keep patients alive
- Gaza's main hospital is without power and at a breaking point
as fighting closes in.
- Thousands of protesters in Tel Aviv called on Israel to prioritize
rescuing the hostages.
- Hezbollah's leader says his fighters will keep up pressure on
- Across Europe, thousands call for cease-fire in Gaza. [Photos of
demonstrations in Edinburgh, Barcelona, London, and Brussels.]
- Surrounded by Israeli troops, Palestinians evacuate a cluster of
hospitals in northern Gaza.
- Iran and Saudi Arabia, regional rivals, call for Gaza cease-fire
- Here's a map of the Gaza City hospitals Israel has been closing
- Life in Gaza City: Privation, rationing and desperate fear.
- The W.H.O. chief says more than 250 attacks on Gaza and West Bank
health care facilities have been verified.
- Israel lowers Oct. 7 death toll estimate to 1,200
- Israel has struggled to distinguish the remains of Oct. 7 victims
from those of attackers.
- 'These babies, these ladies, these old people': Macron mourns
civilian deaths and urges an Israeli cease-fire.
- Concerns grow for hospital patients and sheltering civilians.
- The W.H.O. chief says more than 250 attacks on Gaza and West Bank
health care facilities have been verified.
- Al-Shifa Hospital is increasingly a flashpoint in the war.
- Israel steps up airstrikes inside Lebanon following Hezbollah
drone and missile attacks.
- Israel is on high alert as regional threats from Iran-backed
- Israel's public defenders refuse to represent Oct. 7 attackers.
- America's top diplomat says 'far too many Palestinians have been
- Israel is considering a deal for Hamas to release all civilian
hostages in Gaza, officials say.
- Antisemitic hate crimes soared in New York City last month.
[E.g., "police are searching . . . vandals who scrawled 'Hamas' and
antisemitic graffiti on several Upper East Side apartment buildings
- The war has led to the deadliest month for journalists in at
least three decades.
- U.N. human rights chief says Israel should end bombardment
with heavy munitions.
- Intense protests again shut down Midtown Manhattan streets.
- The Israeli police detained Arab Israeli politicians preparing
a vigil against Gaza srikes, civic groups say.
- Israel expands daily combat pauses to let civilians flee, White House says
- Israel has agreed to put in place regular daily four-hour pauses for civilians to flee, the White House said.
- A day of fierce combat and diplomatic talks ends with a deal to try to help Gazans reach safety.
- Islamic Jihad releases a video of two Israeli hostages in Gaza.
- The war has taken a staggering toll on the Palestinian economy.
- Israeli police detained five Arab Israeli politicians who planned a vigil against Gaza strikes, civic groups say.
- The C.I.A. director and the Israeli intelligence chief met with Qatari officials to discuss a possible Hamas hostage deal.
- Intense protests again shut down Midtown Manhattan streets.
- Video offer glimpses of battle in Gaza.
- Casualties in Gaza may be 'even higher' than previously thought, a U.S. official told Congress.
- Palestinian officials say 18 are killed in the West Bank as violence spikes.
- Chickenpox, scabies and other diseases surge in Gaza, the W.H.O. says.
- Macron convenes an aid conference on worsening conditions in Gaza.
- Archaeologists look for traces of the missing in the ashes of Hamas's attack.
Maps: Tracking the Attacks in Israel and Gaza: Sections there:
- [11-09] Strikes hit hospitals, schools and other shelters for displaced
people in the Gaza Strip
- [11-07] A third of buildings in northern Gaza are damaged or destroyed,
- [11-05] Frequent fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border continues
as tensions mount
- [11-03] Where Israel's invasion has cut Gaza in two
- [11-02] Where Israeli forces are advancing toward Gaza City
- [10-31] At least a quarter of buildings in northern Gaza are
damaged, analysis estimates
- [10-30] Where Israeli troops are encircling Gaza City
- [10-29] A more detailed look at Israel's advance into northern
- [10-28] Where Israeli military videos show ground forces entering
- [10-26] A new look at where Israel has hit Gaza
- [10-23] Deadliest period for Palestinians in the West Bank in
The file goes on, including several entries on the Oct. 18 blast
at Ahli Arab Hospital, declaring the cause and death toll to be
unclear. In addition to maps, there is a lot of aerial photography
Some more news articles, mostly from the New York Times:
If you want something that reads less like Israeli Pravda,
Mondoweiss has a daily
Here are this week's batch of articles:
Paula Aceves: [11-07]
The corporate and cultural fallout from the Israel-Hamas war:
Updated, though with new outrages every day, they're falling behind.
Geoffrey Aronson: [11-09]
The ghost of Ariel Sharon hovers over the Gaza Strip.
Michael Arria: [11-10]
Columbia University suspends Students for Justice in Palestine and
Jewish Voice for Peace.
Bill Astore: [11-11]
When collateral damage is the strategy: "Buildings destroyed,
civilians killed, millions made refugees: mission accomplished."
Omer Bartov: [11-10]
What I believe as a historian of genocide: Author is "a professor
of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University," a job description
which suggests viewpoint as much as expertise, or if it doesn't to you,
just read his quibbles and hair-splitting.
The Holocaust was the ne plus
ultra of genocides. Nothing else comes remotely close in either the scale,
the speed, or the single-mindedness of the killing, but the impulse, the
intent, was hardly unique to Nazi Germany. That's why the generic term
was coined: not to describe specifically what Nazi Germany did -- Shoah
and Holocaust suffice for that -- but to identify comparable forces of
which Nazi Germany is one obvious example.
Bartov makes this clear when
he cites the UN definition of genocide: "the intent to destroy, in whole
or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such."
Immediately after Oct. 7, many prominent Israelis, including the Prime
Minister, were very explicit about their intent to commit genocide. The
subsequent bombing killed indiscriminately, and created conditions to
kill further. The scale of the destruction easily satisfies "in part."
And the destruction is continuing, with no end in sight. That sure
sounds like genocide to me.
Do we really have to wait until the last
Palestinian is killed? No one has tried to argue that since some Jews
survived in Auschwitz, the Nazis fell short of "the crime of crimes."
By the way, the line Bartov draws between "ethnic cleansing" (which
he defines as "aims to remove a population from a territory") and
real genocide is spurious -- the intent and practical effect is the
same, and the term itself is fraught (it was originally a Serbian
euphemism for mass killing, bound to notions of racial and/or ethnic
purity). I think it's caught on because older terms like "removal,"
"transfer," and "exile" seemed too sanitary, but they are all
instances of the same hideous mindset.
Of course, if Israel ceases its assault on Gaza, and behaves decently
in the aftermath (which minimally includes arresting the pogroms in the
West Bank), we might reduce the charge, granting that they weren't fully
intent on genocide. But right now is not the time to make excuses for
what they are doing. Also see:
Zack Beauchamp: [11-09]
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers are on an anti-Palestinian rampage:
"Since October 7, settler radicals have been attacking Palestinians at
an unprecedented rate -- uprooting entire communities and threatening
a wider war."
Jason Burke: [11-06]
'I could never dream such a nightmare': Gaza in grip of humanitarian
Isaac Chotiner: [11-11]
The extreme ambitions of West Bank settlers: Interview with Daniella
Weiss, a longtime leader of the settler movement and an ally of Bezalel
Smotrich ("the extremist minister of finance, who has said that the
Palestinian people do not exist and that Palestinian communities need
to be erased").
Sandhya Dirks: [10-23]
Palestinian Americans on the Israel-Hamas war: 'We're not even allowed
Thomas L Friedman: [11-09]
I have never been to this Israel before: For many decades, Israel's
number one fanboy, but lately he's been disturbed by the Netanyahu
government's far-right turn, especially the decision to restack the
courts against democracy, and he's even shown signs of sobriety in
the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks. However, with his return to Tel Aviv,
he's back in the fold, reprogrammed to parrot Israel's existential
fears, even if the "I love Bibi" module hasn't kicked in yet. He
outlines "three key reasons" why Israel is in "more danger than at
any other time since its War of Independence in 1948".
The first is an array of daunting enemies ("modern armies with
brigades, battalions, cybercapabilities, long-range rockets, drones
and technical support" -- mostly Iran-backed, "and now even the
openly Hamas-embracing Vladimir Putin"; "all of them seemed to
surface together like dragons during this conflict").
The second danger is that Israel's ability "to fight such a
difficult war with so many enemies" is critically dependant on
"unwavering partners abroad, led by the United States," including
"a coalition of U.S., European and moderate Arab partners," which
is tricky as long as Netanyahu's basic pitch is "help us defeat
Hamas in Gaza while we work to expand settlements, annex the West
Bank and build a Jewish supremacist state there" -- i.e., exactly
what Israel has been doing since the June 1967 war. So the third
danger is really just Netanyahu himself: "the worst leader in
[Israel's] history -- maybe in all of Jewish history -- who has
no will or ability to produce such an initiative."
Let's get real here. This is probably the worst case of threat
inflation since the run up to the 1967 war, where a government
that had absolute confidence in its ability to defeat its combined
enemies (which it did decisively in six days, and those enemies
really did have planes, tanks, and battalions) yet spent several
months scaring the daylights out of its own citizens to justify
its aggression. None of today's "enemies" have the wherewithal to
do any serious damage to Israel, let alone the desire to expose
themselves to retaliation that could include nuclear weapons. (Ok,
Hamas had the desire, but that was only because they were desperate
enough to mount what was effectively a suicide raid, but even that
threat is now spent.)
As for the alliance, while Israel always welcomes American arms
and money (and, as Moshe Dayan explained, ignores the advice that
comes with it), Israel needs no help containing Hamas, intimidating
Hezbollah, or beating up on Palestinians. And they could flip "the
Iran threat" in an instant if they just told Biden to make up with
Iran and let them buy some Boeing airliners. Israel's problem is
not that they need help fighting. It's that they need help calling
off the fight, which is the only thing they know how to do, the only
thing they've prepared for, but against such a weakened enemy looks
more and more like genocide, making them out to be monsters. Sure,
Biden hasn't turned on them yet, but all around the world it's
getting harder and harder to ignore that this war is Israel's true
self, fashioned over a century of continuous conflict.
Here's a quick rundown of Friedman's columns, showing how quickly
his initial caution gave way to the company line. One common thread
throughout is that there's never the slightest inkling of sympathy
for any Palestinians:
Inside the Israeli crackdown on speech.
How to maintain hope in an age of catastrophe: Interview with
Robert Jay Lifton. Gessen quotes from Lifton's book about Hiroshima,
Death in Life, which I read shortly after it came out in 1968:
"We are all survivors of Hiroshima, and, in our imaginations, of
future nuclear holocaust." Ever since then, I've been touched by
that same imagination, the ability to see oneself both as victim
and survivor, of the worst human tragedies, also the most mundane.
Farrah Hassen: [11-10]
Americans want a ceasefire; it's our politicians who are out of
touch. It's our politicians who are owned, with many of them
trapped in a belief system that sees war as a noble activity.
Yoav Haifawi: [11-11]
From the river to the sea: There is one Israeli dictatorship:
"How repression is deepening inside the Israeli dictatorship."
Ellen Ioanes: [11-11]
Israel's humanitarian pauses in Gaza, explained: Well, it's pretty
simple: Israel wants to drive Palestinains out of northern Gaza, so
they can complete its demolition while lessening the staggering number
of casualties they're inflicting. They also hope the southward tide
of refugees will empty out into Egypt, never to return. A cease fire
wouldn't help, as it would just encourage people to stay in or close
to their homes. But as long as more bombing is coming, people are
motivated to flee for their lives. That's basically how the Nakba
worked in 1948-49. The legal term for it today is genocide. Israeli
apologists may tell you it's just "ethnic cleansing," but that phrase
has never been anything but a euphemism. "Humanitarian" isn't even
Sarah Jones: [11-10]
Listen to dissenters on Israel.
Nicki Kattoura/Geo Maher: [11-09]
Why must Palestinians condemn themselves for daring to fight back?
Karim Khan: [11-10]
We are witnessing a pandemic of inhumanity: to halt the spread, we
must cling to the law: Author is chief prosecutor at ICC.
Jen Kirby: [11-11]
The Israel-Gaza war is exposing Europe's divisions.
Nicholas Kristof: [11-11]
'We cannot kill our way out of this endeavor'. He's never been
someone I look to for insight, but sometimes the simpleton is right.
Since I've listed Thomas Friedman's op-eds above, here are his (do
you suppose his job at the Times is to make up for Friedman's empathy
Eric Levitz: [11-09]
The two-state solution is still our only (distant) hope. Curiously,
there's no section here explaining what the much vaunted "two-state
solution" might look like these days. That hardly matters, because the
real stickler for Israelis is "solution": they've never wanted one,
and now that they have a clear war path, they sure don't want one now.
If they did, I have no doubt they could make something work. All it
really takes is some system that allows Palestinians to live where
they are now in some measure of peace and dignity. They could be
citizens of Israel ("one-state") or of some other entity ("two states"
or some kind of confederation or bination) or some combination of the
two. The problem is that no one can force them to allow peace/dignity,
and they've become too twisted to see that would be better for them
as well. Indeed, that's been a given for so long that the main selling
point behind "two states" was that it would allow Israel to exclude
most Palestinians from their apartheid state. Still, even that promise
wasn't good enough for Israel's leaders. They insisted not only on
separation but on distinct systems of law and order to maintain their
superiority and to punish and control the unchosen.
Louisa Loveluck: [11-09]
Settler violence is erasing Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
Which leads to Yasmeen Abutaleb: [11-10]
White House urges Israel to curtail settler violence in West Bank.
Which leads to, well, nothing.
Ruth Margalit: [11-11]
The long wait of the hostages' families. This shouldn't be a hard
problem. The way to save the hostages is to stop destroying Gaza. Given
that Israel has nothing to gain, and good will to lose, from further
destruction of Gaza, a long-term cease-fire the obvious first step.
After that, release of the hostages will depend more on whether the
people holding them can trust Israel not to break its cease-fire
than on any negotiated swaps.
Israel's own bad faith in this was shown by their immediate
efforts to scoop up hundreds or thousands of Palestinians, making
them hostages as well -- though our press simply calls them "prisoners."
Hostage negotiations are always nasty business, fraught with overtones
of extortion, feeding into the fear that each successful negotiation
will incentivize more hostage-taking. The real challenge is to find
the right thing to do regardless. That's often difficult, but here
it's remarkably easy: stop the genocide.
James North: [11-09]
"Hostages?" How the U.S. media is distorting the news from Palestine.
Orly Noy: [11-10]
The Israeli public has embraced the Smotrich doctrine: "The
internalization of the far-right minister's 'Decisive Plan' is evident
in the popular support for a new ultimatum for Gaza: emigration or
Yumna Patel: [11-09]
'Thought police': Israel passes law criminalizing 'consumption of
terrorist materials': By "materials" they mostly mean publications.
Samah Salaime: [11-06]
For Israeli leaders, every Palestinian citizen has a seat on the bus to
Sarah Salem: [11-09]
Palestinians in the U.S. are under attack.
Alex Shams: [11-10]
'They don't want people to know we exist': "Palestinians across the
West Bank describe what life has been like since October 7."
Jeffrey St Clair: [11-04]
An infinite distance [The scourging of Gaza: Diary of a genocidal war]:
Behind the paywall, a long list of bullet points like his "Roaming
Nahal Toosi: [11-06]
U.S. diplomats slam Israel policy in leaked memo.
Li Zhou: [11-09]
The House censure of Rashida Tlaib, explained. One of the charges
was her use of a slogan, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will
be free." For more on this terminology, see Jewish Currents editor
What does "From the river to the sea" really mean?, which
includes a reprint of a 2021 article by Yousef Munayyer. Also:
Tuesday's elections: Democrats came away with some bragging
rights, but none of these results were resounding wins:
- Kentucky governor: Andy Beshear (D) 52.5%, Daniel Cameron 47.5%
- Mississippi governor: Tate Reeves (R) 51.5%, Brandon Presley (D) 47.1%
- Virginia State Senate: 21 Democrats, 19 Republicans; State House:
51 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 1 undecided (R leading +228 votes)
- Ohio: reproductive rights amendment: 56.6% yes, 43.4% no;
legalize recreational marijuana: 57.0% yes, 43.0% no.
We had two signs up in front of our house. Our mayoral favorite lost
to the Koch money machine, but our school board pick won.
Andrew Prokop: [11-08]
3 winners and 1 loser from Election Day 2023: "Democrats had a good
night. So did abortion rights. Glenn Youngkin, not so much."
Jamelle Bouie: [11-10]
The GOP's culture war shtick is wearing thin with voters.
Sarah Jones: [11-08]
The anti-trans backlash failed last night.
Ed Kilgore: [11-09]
Are Democrats the party of low-turnout elections now? Too many
wrong takes here to work through, but the idea that low voter turnout
favored Republicans was largely established in 2010, when marginal
Democrats who had landslided for Obama in 2008 stayed home, giving
Republicans what seemed like an amazing rebound. Few people noticed
that the 2010 turnout was almost exactly the same as 2006, which
had been a huge Democratic wave, as Bush tanked post-Katrina, even
pre-recession. Since 2010, Democrats have tried hard to increase
voter turnout, and Republicans have worked even harder to suppress
it. The West Coast, with high voter turnout mostly due to mail order,
seemed to support the Democrats.
In general, people who don't feel they have much stake in the
system are the ones who don't vote, or don't vote regularly. Most
of these people should align better economically with Democrats,
but they often can't see that, and Democrats haven't worked very
hard at winning them back -- at least since the 1980s, the focus
has mainly been on raising money. Trump threw a monkey wrench into
this: a lot of low-info, low-concern people like him for what we'll
call aesthetic reasons, and that's boosted his vote totals, to
where in 2016 and 2020 he ran about three points better than the
"likely voter" polls, which got him way closer than he should have
been, and helped Republicans overperform elsewhere. But I believe
the underlying dynamic is a gradual shift from R-to-D, at least
among regular voters (and young voters who are increasingly seeing
voting as worth their time). This is being masked because Democrats
still aren't very good at getting people to vote economic interests
(although under Biden they've started to pay off), and Republicans
are still very effective at lying to people and scheming behind
their backs, and the media is way too generous to Republicans.
On the other hand, Republican voter suppression often backfires.
Philosophically, Democrats believe in high turnout, because they
believe in democracy, where Republicans only believe in winning.
So in most ways, the issue is probably a wash.
Dion Lefler: [11-08]
The $630,000 mayor: Can Lily Wu keep her boldest promises?
While Democrats were enjoying wins elsewhere, here in Kansas we
lost our mayor to a Koch-financed Republican dressed up as a
Libertarian, checking off a lot of diversity boxes no one has
come forward to brag about (female, non-white, immigrant from
Guatemala, but also non-hispanic). Although the elections were
technically non-partisan, Republicans claimed three seats --
with Wu, a majority -- on the Wichita City Council. Curiously
enough, the School Board seats shifted to Democrats, including
one at-large seat won by Melody McCrae-Miller.
Charles P Pierce: [11-08]
Ohio Republicans are already beefing with the will of the voters on
abortion and weed: One thing you'll never hear a Republican say
after a loss: "the people have spoken, and we have to heed their
Bill Scher: [11-08]
Glenn Youngkin's big fat 15-week abortion ban belly flop.
Li Zhou: [11-07]
Andy Beshear offers Democrats some lessons for how to win in Trump
country: "Here's how a Democrat won reelection in Kentucky."
The "third Republican presidential debate": We might as
well split this out from the general morass of Republicanism, even
though it did little more than exemplify it. I didn't watch, but
my wife did, so I overheard a segment on foreign policy that was
several orders of magnitude beyond bonkers.
Andrew Prokop: [11-08]
0 winners and 5 losers from the third Republican presidential debate:
"All the candidates failed, but they failed in different ways."
Zack Beauchamp: [11-08]
The Republican debate is fake.
Jim Geraghty: [11-09]
A sober GOP debate for serious times. Just as well Trump wasn't
there. By far the silliest take on the debate.
Ed Kilgore: [11-09]
Republican debaters want to go to war with everyone (except Trump):
Egged on by moderator Hugh Hewitt, a Navy-obsessed conservative pundit,
all five candidates called for a lot more defense spending even as they
railed against debts and deficits. To the extent they disagreed on
foreign policy, it was mostly about whether defending or defunding
Ukraine was the best tack for combating China. (Haley and Christie took
the former position, while DeSantis and Ramaswamy took the latter.)
Getting closer to home, there was total unanimity among the debaters
on the need to ignore climate change and frantically resume uninhibited
exploitation of fossil fuels. Haley called DeSantis a "liberal on the
environment," forcing him to defend his determination to frack and drill
until the icecaps fully melt.
Ramaswamy played his anti-neocon card by dubbing Haley as "Dick
Cheney in three-inch heels," then adding "we have two of them on
stage," lest DeSantis feel left out, but Ramaswamy was an eager for
war against China as any of them.
Natalie Allison: [11-12]
Tim Scott suspends his presidential campaign.
I generally hate it when people try to make a case by pointing
out how a person looks, but I've been having a lot of trouble in
following clips of Ramaswamy, not just because he's so nonsensical
but because he doesn't seem to have a face behind the mouth that
spouts such nonsense. Perhaps this is just something that happens
with age, but it's not a problem I see with the other candidates
(DeSantis has a face, although it's turned into a self-caricature,
a different problem), or most other people. I'm looking at Salon
as I write this, and even Ivanka (7 pictures) has some kind of
face-in-progress. Her father (8 pictures) has a face, even if it's
mostly buried in bronzer. Even Brian Kilmeade, staring as blankly
as his brain, has a face. But Ramaswamy doesn't.
Trump, and other Republicans:
Michelle Cottle: [11-08]
What voters want that Trump seems to have: She beats around the
bush a bit, but the ultimate point is that Republicans hate the other
half of America, and they realize that the most effective way to express
their hate is to restore Trump, given their understanding of how much
their targets fear and loathe Trump. Trump's entire campaign so far is
nothing but persecution complaints and revenge fantasies. No other
Republican candidate, no matter how evil, comes close to challenging
Trump in that regard.
PS: Ok, I just jumped on the idea of Cottle's piece. Dean Baker
read it and takes exception to the details: [11-08]
Michelle Cottle makes up facts to push the Trump case: "I guess
that New York Times columnists get to be condescending, out-of-touch
jerks when they want to make their case. If they insist that people
think the economy is awful, we can't let what people say get in the
SV Date: [11-11]
If progressives don't like Biden's Gaza position, wait till they learn
David Freedlander: [11-10]
Live with Rudy: "Indicted, isolated, and broke, Giuliani has one
comfort left: the sound of his own voice."
Marisa Iati/Isaac Arnsdorf: [11-11]
Trump's rivals seize on opportunities to challenge his acuity.
Laura Jedeed: [11-10]
Inside Mike Johnson's ties to a far-right movement to gut the
Ed Kilgore: [11-10]
Speaker Johnson has one weird plan for avoiding a shutdown.
Paul Krugman: [11-06]
Why does the right hate America? Fair question, one that occurred
to Krugman after reading Damon Linker's recent [11-04]
Get to know the influential conservative intellectuals who help explain
GOP extremism (which I cited last week, but mostly just took names).
A glib but not inaccurate answer is: "because they hate our freedom" --
which seemed silly as an explanation for Islamic terrorism, but with
these guys, their fear and loathing bleeds from every line. Sure, we
on the left are more conscious of the freedom we're still denied, but
any fair review of American history will remind us that everything in
our history that we take pride in, at least as far back as "all men
are created equal," came from the left, and was resisted by the right,
same as today.
Kelly McClure: [11-11]
Ted Cruz blames extreme left for rise in antisemitism: Cruz was
plugging his new book: Unwoke: How to Defeat Cultural Marxism in
America. Quite an accomplishment. It's really hard to put that
much stupid into such a short title.
Charlie Savage/Maggie Haberman/Jonathan Swan: [11-11]
Sweeping raids, giant camps and mass deportations: Inside Trump's 2025
Jack Shafer: [11-07]
Trump's recipe for a shockingly raw power grab. Starts with "plans
on the first day of his new administration to invoke the Insurrection
Act so he can dispatch the military to counter any demonstrations that
might resist his policies." (See:
Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second
Steven Shepard: [11-11]
The power grabs that will determine control of Congress: "Partisan
gerrymandering isn't new, but what's happening right now is far from
Michael Tomasky: [11-12]
It's official: With "vermin," Trump is now using straight-up Nazi talk.
Biden and/or the Democrats:
Jonathan Guyer: [11-09]
More than 500 Biden campaign alumni want a Gaza ceasefire.
Eric Levitz: [11-08]
Do Democrats need to get less 'globalist'? Fairly long piece
occasioned by the new John Judis/Ruy Teixeira book, Where Have
All the Democrats Gone? Probably worth some thought, but the
focus here is on trade (good for capitalists, not so much for
workers) and migration (one way workers try to catch up), while
skipping other aspects of international policy, such as war and
climate. For more on this book:
Carlos Lozada: [11-11]
A Trump-Biden rematch is the election we need.
Andrew Marantz: [11-02]
How Israel is splitting the Democrats. Isn't it basically between
the politicians, who are virtually all on the take, and the base, who
once again have every reason to suspect their leaders?
Andrew Prokop: [11-09]
Joe Manchin retires, making Democrats' brutal 2024 Senate map even
more brutal. On the other hand, Manchin is still a possible
presidential election spoiler, for which see Ed Kilgore: [11-09]
Joe Manchin announces end of Senate career, new 2024 threat.
Molly Redden: [11-09]
'The phone doesn't stop': Overwhelming demands for a cease-fire catch
Democrats off guard.
Legal matters and other crimes:
Climate and environment:
Alex Harris/Ashley Miznazi: [11-05]
King tide floods offer glimpse of Miami's soggy, salty future.
I saw this in the Wichita Eagle today, which led me to more pieces:
Nathan J Robinson: [11-10]
The climate crisis is slipping from the news right when it needs our
attention most. This is the kind of idea that gets in the way of
thinking, and for that matter communicating. It's not like climate
crisis hasn't gotten any ink this year. Various storm and fire disasters
have been front page a couple times each month, and statistical effects
have been written up -- I don't think we've had a single month this
year that wasn't among the hottest in history (usually number one),
plus there's all the melting ice caps, the record high tides, etc.
Sure, not enough is being done about it, and nowhere near fast enough,
but that's a bigger political and economic quagmire, one that needs
not just attention but a serious rethink. But how the hell's that
going to happen when we can't even think our way out of a stupid,
pointless, and extremely cruel war like Israel's?
Around the world:
Charles Hirschkind: [11-08]
Exterminate the brutes: "Beneath the veneer of a celebrated concern
for human rights, the racism that defined 19th century colonialism
continues to provide the dominant lens through which the West exercises
the subordination of non-Western populations." Another piece about
Israel, but I thought I should give it a little distance.
Matthew Hoh: [11-10]
Armistice Day and the empire: A name change and the catastrophe that
followed. It's now Veterans Day, November 11, signifying not the
arrival of peace (after WWI) but the endless waste of war.
Yarden Katz: [11-09]
Are Israelis Jews? Returning to Jewish minority life: Argues that
"Israel has erased the Jewish people and destroyed the possibilities
for Jews to live in Palestine as non-colonizers. 'Israeli' is a colonial
identity we should renounce, because it harms both Palestinians and
Jews." Interesting attempt to drive a wedge between identities Jewish
and Israeli, then flip them over. Nothing is quite that simple.
Jeremy Kuzmarov: [11-10]
How Bill Clinton set the groundwork for today's foreign policy
disasters. Co-author, with John Marciano, of a book I should
have noted when it appeared in 2018: The Russians Are Coming,
Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce;
also Obama's Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the
Permanent Warfare State (2019); and forthcoming: Warmonger:
How Clinton's Malign Foreign Policy Launched the US Trajectory
From Bush II to Biden.
Keren Landman: [11-09]
It's getting increasingly dangerous to be a newborn in the US.
A big part of this seems to be: Alice Miranda Ollstein: [11-07]
Congenital syphilis jumped tenfold over the last decade.[
Michaelangelo Matos: [11-05]
Documentary review: 'The War on Disco': I accidentally saw a bit
of this show, but didn't stick around long enough to evaluate Matos on
the subject (although I know him to be one of the best dance-oriented
critics around). I always thought the anti-disco rants in the 1970s
were more stupid than racist (although what finally shut them up were
disco hits by Blondie and New Order, so go figure).
Nathan J Robinson: [09-19]
Is Thomas Sowell a legendary "maverick" intellectual or a pseudo-scholarly
propagandist? Asking the question practically answers itself. One
more in a long series of profiles in right-wing mind-rot.
Aja Romano: [11-10]
What the Hasan Minhaj controversy says about the trouble with
Robert Sherrill: [1988-06-11]
William F. Buckley lived off evil as mold lives off garbage:
An archive piece, by one of my favorite journalists fifty years
ago, a review of John B Judis: William F Buckley, Jr: Patron
Saint of the Conservatives. Sherrill's title bears structural
resemblance to his book, Military Justice Is to Justice as
Military Music Is to Music.
Alissa Wilkinson: [11-09]
The long, long Hollywood strikes have ended.
Ask a question, or send a comment.