I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. When I first visited London in 1992, a bobby at Victoria Station explained that they didn't have bins there because "they tend to explode." I supported President Clinton in brokering the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and I was in a pub in Killarney in July 2005 watching the telly with the silent crowd there as Sinn Féin put down their guns for good.
So while today's news would have shocked me in 1992, I'm merely surprised in 2024:
Northern Ireland’s devolved government has reconvened and appointed Michelle O’Neill as first minister in a historic moment for Sinn Féin and Irish nationalism.
The Stormont assembly nominated the County Tyrone republican as the region’s first nationalist first minister, ending a century of unionist first ministers.
The appointment of a republican first minister represented “a new dawn” unimaginable to previous generations that grew up with discrimination against Catholics, said O’Neill. “That state is now gone.”
The devolved government reconvened after the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) walked out of Stormont on 3 February 2022 in protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements that it said undermined the region’s place in the UK. The party agreed to end the boycott this week after its leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, wrung concessions from the UK government that smoothed the so-called Irish Sea border.
Welcome to the 21st Century, when both republicans and unionists can find common ground in their disgust with the Conservative government in Westminster.
I'm still thinking about propaganda in the Gaza war, but I'm not done thinking yet. Or, at least, not at a stopping point where a Daily Parker post would make sense. That said, Julia Ioffe sent this in the introduction to her semi-weekly column; unfortunately I can't link to it:
The absolutely poisonous discourse around this war, though, has taken all of that to a whole other level. The rage, the screaming, and the disinformation, ahistoricity, the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, the propaganda—all of it has felt overwhelming at times. The way that reasonable people I otherwise respect have shown themselves to be hard-hearted zealots—clinging to what they want to believe, starting not with the facts but rather their ideology and working backwards from there—has led me to stop talking to people on both sides of the divide. The facts of what’s happening in Israel and Gaza are hard enough to absorb as it is.
As usual, Ioffe wrote what I was thinking. Again, I'll have more, but that's a very good take.
- The column Ioffe introduced in that email, an interview with international lawyer David Scheffer, is a must-read.
- A jury found the National Association of Realtors liable for restraint of trade and anti-competitive practices, awarding the plaintiffs $1.87 billion in damages. (Where's my refund from my last house purchase?)
- Strong Towns points out that contrary to the wishes of many on the left, rent control works as an anti-displacement policy, but not as an affordability policy.
- Chicago Tribune sports writer Paul Sullivan laments that this year's World Series, between the 5th and 6th seeds, for which three 100-win teams lost in the playoffs, has the smallest audience of any World Series in television history. Can't think why.
- It turns out, AI image generation can only be as good as the images it learns on, which means AIs have even more bias than humans do.
- Somehow I wrote a 20-page paper for 11th grade on Mark Twain and never read the account of him meeting Winston Churchill in 1900.
Finally, Michelin just announced its Bib Gourmand list for Chicago, with its US stars all coming out next Tuesday. The Bib list has five new restaurants that I must now visit. We'll see who gets new stars in a few days.
Between the destruction of Twitter as a platform of consequence and my good fortune that most of my Facebook contacts are sane (and I can mute the others for 30 days at a time), I haven't seen much of the disinformation and propaganda about the Hamas pogrom and Israeli response that others have reported on. But I have read some good commentary that recognizes the context of the current conflict, particularly that its outlines haven't changed one bit in at least 3,000 years.
Before I highlight some of the commentary I found useful, even if I didn't agree with it completely, I should remind everyone that Israel has a right to exist. After the Romans expelled Jews from what is now Israel, Jews have been persecuted and killed simply for being Jews in every country they've lived in, including the United States. I don't think any other ethnic group has lived with that kind of threat for as long and in as many places, ever. So, after Nazis killed 6 million Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, the United Nations agreed to turn over the historically Jewish lands inside the former British colony of Mandatory Palestine to the administration Jews as the modern Jewish state of Israel—the name the land had before the Roman occupation 2,100 years ago. The million or so non-Jewish people already living there—alongside the million or so Jews who lived there before European refugees started settling post-WWII—had a choice: live inside the democratic state of Israel, with all the rights and privileges of Israeli citizens but under Jewish government, or leave. Many left.
Of course it's not that cut-and-dried, and there is ample evidence that Israeli militias forcibly expelled some of them. But the creation of Israel, and the departure of Palestinians from the new country, gave Israel's neighbors a single goal: the destruction of Israel. Since 1948, governments and militias in the region have openly advocated wiping Israel from the map and killing all the Jews in it. Imagine if every US State south of Canada wanted to destroy New Jersey—and on several occasions have tried—and you can start to consider what living in Israel feels like.
So last week, a group with an explicitly genocidal charter and who have ruled an area the size of Detroit through terror launched a pogrom against unarmed civilians for the purpose of undoing the normalization of relations between Israel and the aforementioned neighbors. The disorganization and incompetence of Israel's government under Netanyahu gave them the opening, and the illegal settlements and armed incursions onto Palestinian land by right-wing religious nutters with the passive acquiescence of Netanyahu's coalition partners gave them the excuse. Of course, they don't need an excuse; they just want to kill all the Jews.
I believe the Israeli government under Netanyahu needs to end, and the next government needs to remove the illegal settlements in the West Bank to allow Palestinians to form a real state with real borders and a real government. But there's no moral equivalent between land theft and killing babies.
I'll have more on this later, along with links to some of the saner commentaries I've read in the past week. Clearly one center-left moderate American won't have the answers to this 3,000-year-old problem, but I hope at least I'm looking for the right questions.
I could have worked from home today, and probably should have, but I felt well enough to come in (wearing an N95 mask, of course). It turned that I had a very helpful meeting, which would not have worked as well remotely, but given tomorrow's forecast and the likelihood I'll still have this cold, Cassie will just have to miss a day of school.
I have to jam on a presentation for the next three hours, so I'll come back to these later:
- Alex Shephard says this is the week Twitter finally went totally evil.
- Bret Stephens says the American anti-Israel left really needs to sit down for a minutes.
- Julia Ioffe decided to take the risk of getting yelled at as she mourns the chance for any peaceful resolution to the millennia-long conflict in the Levant.
- Yair Rosenberg interviews his friend Amir Tibon, who describes how he and his family survived the Hamas attack on Nahal Oz on Saturday.
- Yoval Noah Harari draws a line from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and right-wing populism to Saturday's attack.
- Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz (Blue and White) have agreed to form a wartime coalition, excluding the crazy parties on both sides, and to suspend routine legislative activity.
- Speaking of crazy parties, House Republicans have nominated Steve Scalise (R-LA), "David Duke without the baggage," to take over as Speaker. He needs 217 votes to get elected, which means any 4 people in his party can send this game to overtime.
- As soon as that's done, the New York delegation to the Republican House Caucus plans to introduce a measure to kick out Rep. George Santos (R-NY). This will probably succeed as the seat will certainly go to a Democrat next November if he stays, but only probably go to one if the GOP can run someone else.
- In a filing with the court overseeing the XPOTUS's classified-documents trial this week, the US said it can show why he took the documents. ("Vell, Donald's just zis guy, you know?")
- Speaking of fraud, Molly White takes us through the first half of Caroline Ellison's testimony in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial.
- Speaking of corruption, US Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (R$), the subject of thousands of press reports that he took bribes in every form but bags of cash from billionaires before ruling on their cases before the Supreme Court, once again called on the Court to do away with the Sullivan rule that ensures the press can find out when Justices are on the take.
- Caltrans fired its deputy director for planning and modal programs for advocating against widening I-80 through Sacramento, even though widening I-80 through Sacramento is one of the worst ideas currently proposed by Caltrans.
Finally, no sooner did it open than the new Guinness brewery in Chicago is for sale. It will stay a Guinness brewery, just under different ownership. The Brews and Choos Project will get there soon.
Just a few:
- US Representative George Santos (R-NY) faces another 21 felony charges in New York, with prosecutors alleging he stole donors' identities and misappropriated their donations.
- Isabel Fattal attempts to explain Hamas, the terrorist organization that attacked Israel on Saturday.
- Alex Shephard is glad the news media have gotten better at reporting on the XPOTUS, but they've still missed the biggest part: he's a "singular threat to American democracy."
- Jason Pargin pays homage to celebrity worship, and goggles at how weird it's gotten.
- Molly White explains the evidence presented at Sam Bankman-Fried's trial yesterday that (allegedly) shows how they perpetrated the fraud in code.
- McSweeney's has a helpful template for right-wingers who are upset with Taylor Swift.
Finally, National Geographic gets cozy with the history of bedbugs and their relationship to humans. Fun evening read, y'all!
I woke up this morning feeling like I'm fighting a cold, which usually means I'm fighting a cold. One negative Covid test later, I'm still debating whether to go to rehearsal tonight. Perhaps after a nap. And wearing an N-95.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:
- Kenyan runner Kelvin Kiptum ran the world's fastest marathon yesterday in Chicago, finishing the race in 2:00:35, 36 seconds faster than Eliud Kipchoge's 2:01:09 set last year in Berlin.
- David Ignatius reflects on the massive intelligence failure that allowed Hamas to attack Israel over the weekend.
- Matt Ford completely debunks the XPOTUS's argument that being president granted him total immunity from prosecution. Along those lines, David Graham says that anyone who represents the XPOTUS in court has a fool for a client.
- David French finds "moral outrage" in the insult "OK Boomer."
- Chicago spent $3.5 million hosting NASCAR over the summer, offset only a bit by the $620,000 in fees the organization paid to the city for the privilege. And we're stuck doing it next year, too.
Finally, pilot and journalist Jim Fallows annotates a 17-minute video of the Air Traffic Control conversations with FedEx 1376, which made a gear-up landing at Chattanooga, Tenn., last week. (No one was injured, but the Boeing 757 will probably be written off.)
Charlie Pierce, noting that "[p]eople with firearms forced the civil government of the state of Michigan to shut itself down," wants to know in what sense this isn't terrorism. In other fun weekend stories:
And it's pouring, and will continue to do so for several more hours.
Today is the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, which began the American Revolution.
It's also the 25th anniversary of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.
And day 28th day of Illinois' stay-at-home order.
Apparently, life went on in the US while I was abroad last week. First, to James Damore:
Of course, that wasn't the big story of the weekend. About the terrorist attack and armed ultra-right rally in Virginia, there have been many, many reactions:
- From New Republic, Ryu Spaeth says President Trump is killing us, and Brian Beutler says the neo-Nazis are Trump's troops.
- Josh Marshall points out that Trump is one of them.
- From Citylab, Kriston Capps says the ultra-right are waging a war against public space, David Dudley talks about the Dodge Challenger as a killing machine, and Yoni Applebaum advocates taking all the Confederate statutes down.
- Krugman flat-out calls Trump un-American, which, it turns out, is like calling Parker a dog.
- Meanwhile, prominent Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Trump's tepid response, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying the attack met the legal definition of terrorism.
- Fox News is bending over backwards to cover the story as non-politcally as possible. In some cases, they're succeeding. Though I have to say, it looks like a challenge for them.
Can we have a discussion about domestic right-wing domestic terrorism now? Before we have another Oklahoma City?
Responding to the horrible bombing of Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester, England, last night, this morning President Trump had this to say:
We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom. So many young beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.
I'm going to guess two things: first, that only the first sentence of that paragraph was scripted (which is more obvious when you hear it), and second, that he had no idea (nor would he have cared anyway) how much his off-script remarks would grate on just about everyone whose view of the world has changed since junior high school.
Speaking of grating, Trump apologist Scott Adams thought the president totally nailed a presidential tone and communicated the gravity of the situation appropriately, saying the "losers" epithet "is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time."
Next, our Master Persuader in Chief will call them "stupid-heads" and take his ball home.
Because that's exactly how we want our head of state to memorialize the killers of children.