I got about a full hour in the lounge on my way to the Bay Area with no stress or bother on the way in. After dropping Cassie off at my friends' house near Wrigley Field, I got to economy parking at O'Hare in less than 40 minutes. Of course getting from the economy lot to the other side of security took another 30 minutes, but as things go, that's pretty speedy. I got a light lunch and some iced tea. My only complaint is the salesy guy in my area of the lounge who has not stopped talking since well before I sat down. I hope his plane leaves soon, with him on it.
But this is traveling mid-day on a Thursday: no crowds, no fuss, and (I hope) no big delays before takeoff.
Next report from San Jose, Calif., tomorrow morning. Enjoy the last few hours of autumn!
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died. Of course every news outlet has an obituary, but Spencer Ackerman's in Rolling Stone pretty much nails it—"it" being a nail in Kissinger's coffin:
Measuring purely by confirmed kills, the worst mass murderer ever executed by the United States was the white-supremacist terrorist Timothy McVeigh. On April 19, 1995, McVeigh detonated a massive bomb at the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children.
McVeigh, who in his own psychotic way thought he was saving America, never remotely killed on the scale of Kissinger, the most revered American grand strategist of the second half of the 20th century.
The Yale University historian Greg Grandin, author of the biography Kissinger’s Shadow, estimates that Kissinger’s actions from 1969 through 1976, a period of eight brief years when Kissinger made Richard Nixon’s and then Gerald Ford’s foreign policy as national security adviser and secretary of state, meant the end of between three and four million people. That includes “crimes of commission,” he explained, as in Cambodia and Chile, and omission, like greenlighting Indonesia’s bloodshed in East Timor; Pakistan’s bloodshed in Bangladesh; and the inauguration of an American tradition of using and then abandoning the Kurds.
“The Cubans say there is no evil that lasts a hundred years, and Kissinger is making a run to prove them wrong,” Grandin told Rolling Stone not long before Kissinger died. “There is no doubt he’ll be hailed as a geopolitical grand strategist, even though he bungled most crises, leading to escalation. He’ll get credit for opening China, but that was De Gaulle’s original idea and initiative. He’ll be praised for detente, and that was a success, but he undermined his own legacy by aligning with the neocons. And of course, he’ll get off scot free from Watergate, even though his obsession with Daniel Ellsberg really drove the crime.”
Not once in the half-century that followed Kissinger’s departure from power did the millions the United States killed matter for his reputation, except to confirm a ruthlessness that pundits occasionally find thrilling. America, like every empire, champions its state murderers. The only time I was ever in the same room as Henry Kissinger was at a 2015 national security conference at West Point. He was surrounded by fawning Army officers and ex-officials basking in the presence of a statesman.
I'm listening to the BBC's coverage of Kissinger's death as I write this, and it's a bit more balanced than American coverage. The Economist got a bit more fawning, The Guardian's news reporting tried for balance, but editorially (e.g., Simon Tisdall) they align more with Ackerman. Former National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pulls no punches either.
Labour chancellor Alistair Darling also died, but he didn't kill millions, so we'll just let him rest in peace.
A while ago, I posted two constitutional amendments I'd like to see, to set term limits for the Supreme Court and for Congress. I also proposed an amendment to make the Justice Department independent of the other three branches of government.
Monica Lewinsky proposes six new amendments, including getting rid of the Electoral College and—well, an old amendment:
The most fundamental underpinning of a democracy is the fact that those who govern are chosen through free and fair elections. Especially heads of state. The Electoral College ain’t it. State electors are appointed by methods determined by each state’s legislature. That makes it an inherently political system that detracts from the very heart of democratic governance. Moreover, the Electoral College was derived from a mindset that sought to protect slavery, so it is high time for it to go.
And while we’re at it—because you might be a woman or have a daughter, or, ya know, be a decent human being—let’s wedge in amendments such as the long-languishing Equal Rights Amendment, along with one that would reassert a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.
All of this does make me wonder what our Constitution and Bill of Rights would have looked like had they been created by founding mothers instead of fathers.
They all seem pretty sound to me. But my proposal to make Justice independent would obviate hers to make the President unable to stop a prosecution against himself.
Tomorrow I have a quick trip to the Bay Area to see family. I expect I will not only continue posting normally, but I will also research at least two Brews & Choos Special Stops while there. Exciting stuff.
And because we live in exciting times:
Finally, if you're in Chicago tonight around 6pm, tune into WFMT 98.7 FM. They're putting the Apollo Chorus performance at Holy Name Cathedral in their holiday preview. Cool! (And tickets are still available.)
I guess not all of the stories I read at lunchtime depressed me, but...well, you decide:
One happy(-ish) story, as I didn't have to travel this past weekend: the TSA reported that on Sunday they screened more people (2.9 million) than on any single day in history. And of the 100,000+ flights scheduled between Wednesday and Sunday, carriers cancelled only 201 (0.2%). Amazing.
Crain's Chicago Business reported this morning on the precipitous decline in performing-arts audiences (sub.req.) since March 2020:
Chicago arts and cultural organizations emerged from COVID-19 lockdowns, virtual performances and fully masked audiences to slow-to-return patrons, reduced ticket sales and scaled-backed productions. A decline in subscription rates, shockingly higher costs, and donations that haven't kept pace with inflation have thrown some arts organizations off balance and spiraled others into crisis.
Museums, music and dance venues have bounced back faster. Theaters struggled, perhaps, due to the expense and complexity of producing and staging plays.
One widespread explanation: People are still holed up at home in their pandemic pajamas binge-watching "The Bear" and "Ted Lasso." Or they're amusing themselves with YouTube videos. On the other hand, music fans will pay thousands to see a Taylor Swift extravaganza.
Welcome to stop #90 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Solemn Oath Brewery, 2919 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, California
Time from Chicago: 14 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m
When I visited Bungalow by Middle Brow last winter, I had intended to visit Solemn Oath as well, but my friend and I had a longer catch-up over food than we intended. After visiting Off Color on Saturday, I decided to correct the oversight, so I hopped on an electric Divvy (pictured above, lower right) and zoomed over to Solemn Oath.
What a great vibe. The bartender had put on a '60s "psychedelic" mix (e.g., the Mamas and the Papas, the Doors) and despite the arrival of a large party with over a dozen people, it never got too loud.
I put together a mini-flight of three 150-mL pours, starting with the Trail DIPA (7.7%), a big Citra, grapefruity, peary, appley, hazy beer that will sneak up on you. Second, the Mountains Like Clouds hazy IPA (6.5%), that went boom!—twice. It hit me with two citrus explosions and amazing balance with a nice finish. I would have taken home a 6-pack of this if I weren't on a Divvy. I finished with the clear one on the right, the Snagglejus (6.66%), their "monstrously dank West Coast IPA" that I would also have brought home.
Anyone who lives in Wicker Park, just let me know if you want me to bring Cassie to meet you at Solemn Oath. Two Top-10 breweries in one day!
Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? Yes
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
Welcome to stop #89 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Off Color Brewing, 1460 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
Train line: CTA Red Line, North/Clybourn
Time from Chicago: 10 minutes
Distance from station: 600 m
I've actually wanted to stop by The Mousetrap (as Off Color calls their Kingsbury brewery and taproom) for a long time. It opened directly across the street from the Whole Foods Market that Parker and I used to walk to back when we used to walk there. I should have visited years ago instead of waiting until yesterday. The place has a super-chill vibe, friendly bartenders, and really good beer.
They don't do flights, so I contented myself with two 250-mL pours. First, the Beer for Lounging APA (5%), which I noted had almost a wild flavor, more like a sour than a bog standard APA. I asked about it, and the bartender explained how they use Belgian yeast, which imparts exactly those notes. No surprise they sell this beer at Hopleaf in Andersonville.
I also had a 250-mL pour of their flagship Scurry (5.3%), a "traditional" ale (actually a Kottbusser) their website describes as a "traditional German style specialty beer" with "Pils, Dark Munich, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Chocolate Malt, Honey, Molasses, Nugget and Hersbrucker hops." I tasted the chocolate and caramel, and the Belgian yeast, and I would taste it again.
In short, I have to rejigger my top 10 after visiting Off Color and Solemn Oath yesterday. And I have to stop in with Cassie next summer.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
Butters goes home tomorrow. If she understood the concept of "future," she might look forward to seeing her family again. This morning, however, she did not like getting snowed upon, will not like getting snowed upon after lunch, and will quite happily bogart Cassie's blanket until then, thank you very much:
Yesterday I stopped by two breweries for the Brews & Choos Project; reviews coming later today and early tomorrow.
Yesterday's full day with our houseguest went fine. As one might predict, the dogs have discovered each other's toys, and have stolen them. Cassie started it:
Butters definitely has an "oh, yeah?" look on her face while guarding Cassie's Kong:
She's settled right in, though. They both snuggled with me while I caught up on Loki and digested leftovers last night: