Today is India's 75th anniversary as an independent nation after the UK essentially abandoned it after World War II. The Guardian looks at how much—and how little—has changed:
The attack on Salman Rushdie shone a light on where Pakistan and India, both now 75 years old, share common ground. Amid worldwide outrage, both governments were conspicuous by their silence.
The silence came from different roots. Some of the first riots after the publication of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses were in Pakistan and violent extremism is still very much part of the country’s political life.
In India’s case, it was because Rushdie has been a critic of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and annoyed his supporters, who the author himself had dubbed the “Modi toadies”.
Intolerance of free speech is an area in which India is coming to be more like Pakistan as both countries celebrate their 75th birthdays. Under Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), political opponents are increasingly likely to be arrested and beaten, and the press and judiciary are under increasing political pressure. India’s democracy has been downgraded to “partly free” by the democratic advocacy group Freedom House, a category India now shares with Pakistan.
Writers Pankaj Mishra and Ali Sethi have had enough of religious fighting between the two countries:
In many ways, the binary constructs of “Indian” and “Pakistani” embody the desolate logic of the event that 75 years ago split British-ruled India in two: the partition, attended by massacres, rapes and large-scale dispossession. Botched products of Britain’s imperialist skulduggery – and fierce struggles for personal power between leaders of the anti-imperialist movement – the new nations were locked right from their birth into military conflict; their pitiless “identity politics” ranges today from intellectual forgeries in history textbooks to the lynching of religious minorities.
The political history of their 75 years – marked by several wars, arms races, anti-minority pogroms, authoritarian rule, and minimal protections for the poor and weak – provokes mostly despair and foreboding. While Pakistan nears economic collapse, Indian fantasies of becoming a superpower lie shattered amid shrivelled growth and ecological calamity. Demagogues in both nuclear-armed countries treacherously exploit the resulting anger and disaffection. While claiming to fulfil the broken promises of modernity, they mobilise the thwarted energies of individual and collective aggrandisement into a mass politics of fear and loathing.
As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of partition, it is abundantly clear to us that politics in India and Pakistan are doomed to keep forging a history of irresolvable enmity between Hindus and Muslims. It is also clear that any reasonable hope for peace between these two nuclear powers cannot rest on a political and economic breakthrough alone. We can avoid an apocalyptic scenario only if we acknowledge and consolidate, or at least not squander, the linked cultural and spiritual inheritance of the two countries. The great truth it underscores repeatedly – of the plural and interdependent nature of human identity – is the best remedy for our rancorously polarised worlds.
Imagine what the world would look like today had the British not drawn arbitrary lines through great chunks of it.
This was such an amazing experience! Exhausting, but amazing. Backstage at intermission; Maestro James Conlon is front and center:
And we, the chorus of Roman Citizens, after our curtain call:
I should fully recover by...maybe Thursday?
The former president's stooges have no idea how to deal with the Justice Department's allegations that he essentially stole highly classified nuclear secrets from the White House:
We should not lose ourselves in the logic of this inane claim – a fake claim of authority (in pectore declassification) wrapped in a demonstrable lie (the standing order). What is more noteworthy is that these are the claims of someone who is not getting any legal advice. Not bad legal advice. No legal advice. At present Trump is represented by two women, one an unknown lawyer from New Jersey and another former OAN host. But I don’t think this is even coming from them. These sound like panicked claims of someone improvising without the benefit of legal counsel. What I draw from this is the real facts of the case are likely worse than they appear.
This doesn’t mean necessarily that the President is in grave legal peril. What it tells me – pulling all these indications together – is that the President’s actions are simply impossible to defend. Why was he refusing to relinquish material the US government thought so sensitive and secret that they had little choice but to seize them at the first opportunity?
The other measure of this is the reaction from Republican elected officials over the last 48 hours, which as near as I can tell is total silence. It’s hard to march without marching orders and Trump is giving them very little to go on about what the facts are and what the bases are for defending him.
The Atlantic's Tom Nichols tries to wrap his head around what the actual fuck:
Perhaps the former president is worried about documents mixed in among other materials that could implicate him in various kinds of wrongdoing; this is my working theory, based on the fact that the search warrant cites three criminal laws, two referring to the unlawful removal and retention of records (including information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary) and one regarding the destruction or concealment of documents in order to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings. (Interestingly, none of these laws require the information involved to be classified.)
Nothing can ever be ruled out where Donald Trump is concerned, and it’s certainly possible that Trump—whose history suggests that he never does anything for reasons other than profit or to service his debilitating narcissism—thought he could use America’s secrets for his own financial or political gain. But there’s no point in trying to pin this kind of intent on the former president, thus setting up impossibly high expectations of prosecution that will likely be dashed in the near future—especially when Trump may have already committed severe violations of a law that he himself signed in 2018 that makes his current actions a potential felony.
The short-term danger that the U.S. government had to avert comes from the possibility that Donald Trump as a citizen is as incompetent and lazy as he was when he was president, and that he could lose control of the materials he was keeping in his house.
The more indefensible his actions, the more his supporters defend him. It took certain European countries 12 years of extremist rule and several million allied troops to snap out of their delusions. I hope the Republican Party snaps out of theirs with less bloodshed.
A man attacked and seriously injured author Salman Rushdie at a lecture in upstate New York this morning:
The author Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding and under police protection after Iranian officials called for his execution, was attacked and stabbed in the neck on Friday while onstage in Chautauqua, near Lake Erie in western New York, the state police said.
The attack, which shook the literary world, happened at about 11 a.m., shortly after Mr. Rushdie, 75, took the stage for a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a community that offers arts and literary programming during the summer.
Mr. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, the state police said in a statement. His condition is not yet known. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said in an email Friday afternoon that Mr. Rushdie was undergoing surgery.
It was not clear what motivated the attacker.
[Rushdie] was there for a discussion about the United States as a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists who are under the threat of persecution.
While it's technically true that we don't know "what motivated the attacker," we can make a guess. If this wasn't religious extremism I'll post a public apology to religious extremists everywhere. And not for nothing, when our own home-grown Christianists get into the book-banning habit, they don't have far to go before this sort of thing happens. Fundamentalists of all kinds need to be removed from politics.
Meanwhile, as the Department of Justice reveals more details about just what TS-SCI documents related to our nuclear arsenal the XPOTUS stole from the White House, Republicans have used the warranted search as a fundraising talking point. Because they are the party of law and order. As Josh Marshall said today, "It is probably best to say that we are back in one of those fugue windows Trump Republicans have, much like January 7th-9th 2021, in which there’s a period of relative silence while a story is devised to explain why something inexplicable and indefensible is in fact awesome and totally fine."
After Tuesday's half-day of rehearsals (which would have been a full day except for a scheduling conflict I couldn't move), and yesterday's all-day rehearsals, my intellectual capabilities and creativity seem a bit diminished this week. We open tonight with Don Giovanni and close Sunday afternoon with La Clemenza di Tito. I'm meant to work on our product roadmap for the next 5-10 sprints (i.e., through years' end) while also delivering at least one more feature for the current sprint that ends Tuesday. But I really need a nap.
Meanwhile, Ravinia and Maestro Conlon have sent us a couple of blog posts and column about the operas. On Don Giovanni:
[O]f the many implications of this extremely complex narrative, there is an overwhelming presence that, at the beginning and the end, orients the listener. And it is accomplished without a word of text, nor preamble, nor explanation. The terrifying power of the key of D minor, in the hands of the transcendent genius of Mozart, tells us that this is a cautionary tale, illustrating the fate of those who transgress without repentance. The composer, so generous in his own clemency, pardons almost every character in his operas, but here has made a stunning and powerful exception. In an era when portrayal of death on the stage was relatively rare and unfashionable, Mozart presents us the protagonist’s damnation in full view.
On La Clemenza di Tito:
In 1789, the French populace rose up against their king and queen and brought about a revolution, eventually executing their monarchs. Thirteen years before that, the American colonies had rebelled against the British Crown and established their own sovereign nation.
None of this was lost on royals across the entire continent of Europe, who reacted with alarm and concern. The subject of “good governance,” even by monarchs who claimed to rule by Divine Right, acquired a new urgency. The French Revolution struck especially close to Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, for Marie Antoinette, the last French queen, was his sister.
So in 1791, when Leopold was to be crowned in Prague, a celebratory opera was to be commissioned. And because one of the contemporary models of Age of Enlightenment authority was that of the “Enlightened Despot,” the new opera could both flatter the new leader and subtly suggest to him an exemplary model of authority. The chosen opera would portray a Roman emperor—and by extension the newly crowned monarch—as not only a man of justice but also of mercy.
Finally, writer John Schauer makes the argument that seeing these operas in Ravinia's Martin Theater, which holds 850, will give you a better experience than seeing one at Dodger Stadium.
I'm spending a lot of time here through Sunday, performing two Mozart operas (as previously reported):
Tickets are still available.
How many sign-offs do you need to execute a no-knock raid on the former president's house?
Former president Donald Trump said Monday that the FBI had raided his Mar-a-Lago Club and searched his safe — activity related to an investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents, according to two people familiar with the probe.
One of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details, said agents were conducting a court-authorized search as part of a long-running investigation of whether documents — some of them top-secret — were taken to the former president’s private golf club and residence instead of sent to the National Archives when Trump left office. That could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.
The inventory of unclassified items in the boxes that were recovered earlier this year from Mar-a-Lago is roughly 100 pages long, according to a person familiar with that document. Descriptions of items that were improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago include a cocktail napkin, a phone list, charts, slide decks, letters, memos, maps, talking points, a birthday dinner menu, schedules and more, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the ongoing investigation.
There is a separate inventory for just the classified materials that were taken to the former president’s Florida residence, this person said. If the unclassified version of the classified inventory were organized in the same way as the inventory of nonclassified items, it would be about three pages long, according to this person.
Of course this is unprecedented, just like so much of the XPOTUS's administration. I do like the irony of the FBI executing the search warrant on the anniversary of Nixon's resignation, though. Pity the XPOTUS didn't see the connection.
When the right wing fell all to pieces because Obamacare made health care easier for poor people to obtain, they managed to pass constitutional amendments in several states to hobble implementation of the Act. Flash forward 10 years and welcome to the delicious irony of unintended consequences:
Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in Wyoming, one of the 13 states with a “trigger” law on the books that was designed to immediately outlaw abortions once Roe was overturned.
In late-July, a coalition of Wyoming residents, medical providers, and abortion-supporting nonprofits filed a lawsuit alleging that House Bill 92—the state law which makes performing an abortion in Wyoming a felony crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison except in rare cases of rape, incest or health risks—was unlawful and unenforceable. Among the plaintiffs’ many arguments against the legislation was that it allegedly violated Article 1, Sec. 38 of the Wyoming state constitution, which guarantees that “each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.”
That the amendment was intended as a spiteful measure, kicking back against Obamacare, is not in question; indeed, during a hearing before Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens, who was presiding over the abortion-rights supporters’ suit last week, attorneys for the state of Wyoming argued as much in an effort to uphold the abortion trigger law. “That statute was supposed to push back on the Affordable Care Act,” Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde told the Wyoming judge, “not to implicitly confer the right to an abortion.”
I'm interested to see where this fight winds up.
The plan for today I announced Friday has gone without a hitch, though I decided not to take a nap. And, unfortunately, I had to do one productive thing: laundry.
Cassie has enjoyed every moment of couch time while I binge Sandman, so that's a plus.
Regular posting resumes tomorrow.
Indiana sits at the "crossroads of America," interposing itself between Chicago and points east like that old racist yutz at the end of your block that you hope isn't sitting on his porch when you walk by. Yesterday, with much fanfare, they became the first state to ban almost all abortions after Dobbs, for many of the same reasons that they once declared pi to be equal to 22/7:
Indiana became the first in the nation to sign new restrictions into law – stripping away a right afforded to Hoosier women for the last 50 years over the course of a two-week special legislative session.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 1, which prohibits abortion at any stage of gestation except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies or when the pregnant person’s life is at risk, within an hour of its passage late Friday night.
Late Friday, the Indiana Senate voted 28-19 to accept Senate Bill 1 as passed by the House earlier in the day.
The bill passed the House, 62-38, on Friday afternoon. The chamber’s 71 Republicans split on the issue, with nine voting against the bill. The party has been divided on the issue, with some feeling the bill goes too far in restricting abortion and others feeling it doesn’t go far enough.
Within hours, businesses started to pack their bags, with pharmaceutical mega-firm Eli Lilly the first to point out they won't get anyone talented to move to Indiana now. Doctors, too, don't want to work there.
As I said, people traveling over land from Chicago to anyplace east can't practically avoid Indiana, but that doesn't mean we have to spend money there. (Pity, because I had planned to check out two breweries in Michigan City this summer.)
Since 1816 Indiana has demonstrated what happens when too many stupid people occupy a single political unit. Now they've added religious extremism. Because when you get down to it, Indiana is pretty much the Afghanistan of the United States.