Saturday, December 02, 2023

Time to put up the tree!

First, Advent Calendars! To celebrate the season I created a new List of many of the people posting daily Advent Calendars posts on Twitter - click here to find it. It ranges from art to opera to fashion to the Walking Dead. 

Next, this is sweet: And now on to the funny stuff:
Post by @clare.rolfzen
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Post by @philo_of_alexan
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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Today's News: From Trudeau v. Poilievre, to "effective altruism"

Well, well, well -- so Trudeau was right about India's responsibility for the murder of Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar. 
In his National Intelligence and Security Newsletter, Wesley Wark brings us up to date in tonight's post Murder Inc. New revelations about Indian government-directed assassinations
...This sordid tale adds further weighty credibility to the Canadian government’s public claim that there was Indian official involvement in the murder of Mr. Nijjar, a claim that the Indian government has strenuously denied. The Indian government response had a ring of protesting (way) too much. New Delhi then reacted by creating a freeze in diplomatic relations with Canada, expelling a large number of Canadian diplomats from India, suspending visa applications for a time, and suggesting Canada had failed to provide the Indian government with any material evidence of a supposed plot involving Mr. Nijjar.
In response to the unsealing of the US indictment, the Indian government has now pivoted to announce that it has created a “high level inquiry” into the matter. That is more of a concession than the Canadian government was able to obtain, but it also shifts the focus onto the higher plane of India-US relations....
Now I'm waiting for all the apologetic tweets from all the Canadian right-wingers who were so quick to take Trudeau to task for insulting poor Modi ...guys? ....I'm waiting... (crickets)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Well, here's some upsetting news

Hamas apparently doesn't know where at least 40 of the hostages are.
In his nightly Ukraine post at Balloon Juice, Adam Silverman is also keeping up with the latest news about the Israel-Hamas War and the hostages being held in Gaza. 
And the news is not good.
Under the terms of the truce, no Israeli men – of single or dual nationality – are to be released. Additionally, the only American-Israeli released today was Abigail Idan. The remaining eight, which is the current published estimate for American-Israelis being held, are still unaccounted for. I expect that Sinwar will claim that they cannot be located or will try to hold them as a final bargaining chip should all else fail. I do not expect they will be released.
Except we now know that Hamas DOES NOT have many more hostages to actually exchange! The Financial Times has the details:
...Efforts to extend a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas depend on the militant group locating dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza by civilians and gangs, Qatar’s prime minister has said.
But Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times that more than 40 other women and children were being kept captive in Gaza who were not believed to be held by Hamas
He said the truce could be extended if Hamas was able to use the pause in the conflict to locate those hostages.
“We don’t yet have any clear information how many they can find because . . . one of the purposes [of the pause] is they [Hamas] will have time to search for the rest of the missing people.”...
The estimates have been that there are between 70 and 100 Israeli women and children being held hostage in Gaza. If more than 40 of them are not in Hamas’s custody & Hamas doesn’t know where they are, then Hamas will run out of women and children hostages to exchange either tomorrow or Tuesday.
What happens then? The Israelis are going to go in hard. They are going to throw everything at Hamas. They are going flatten anything standing, bounce the rubble. The preferred course of action is to get as many of the women and children out first. But if Hamas cannot release any more after Tuesday, because they do not have them, cannot find them, or cannot get them from PIJ or the Gazan criminal gangs that have them, then they, like the men being held hostage, will be written off.[Emphasis mine]
Written off? 
OMG, this is what I have been afraid of for the last seven weeks - that the remaining hostages, close to 200 of them - will never be released. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Conservative' means never having to say you're sorry

The stupid, it burns! 
Yesterday following that awful crash at the Niagara Falls border crossing, somebody in Pierre Poilievre's office was listening to Fox News when they jumped the gun by calling it a terrorist attack and saying it was all Biden's fault. 
Well, here in Canada we can't have that -- it must be all Trudeau's fault! 
So the CPC staff jumped the gun and fed the story to Poilievre. 
Who jumped the gun and called it a terrorist attack. Which turned out to be wrong, it was just a terrible accident. 
But of course, nobody in the Conservative party, including the leader, can ever accept responsibility for any error, no matter how trivial, by just saying "sorry, I made a mistake" or even using the Political Passive Aggressive tense of "a mistake was made". 
So if Poilievre can't blame Trudeau and can't blame the Liberals, he will of course blame the Canadian media. At his Routine Proceedings blog, Dale Smith picks it up from there - Roundup: Trying to falsely blame CTV
At his media availability yesterday, Pierre Poilievre was asked if it was responsible for him to declare the explosion on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls to be “terrorism” before anything was confirmed. And what did Poilievre do? True to form, he attacked the Canadian Press reporter asking the question (including lying about the substance of the corrections that a recent CP story made to a story about comments he had made), then lied about why he said “terrorism.” Poilievre claimed this was from CTV reports, and tried to get the CP reporter to try and denounce CTV. The problem was that CTV didn’t publish anything before Poilievre began his questions in QP. And what we do know is that Fox News was definitively calling it terrorism, as were several disinformation merchants who pose as journalists over Twitter. But rather than admit that these were his sources, Poilievre lied, continued to lie, and then post the video of him attacking the CP reporter to his followers, because right-wing populism has a huge hard-on/wide-on for putting people in their place (particularly if they’re vulnerable minorities or someone they suffer no repercussions for attacking, like media). 
And then things got stupid online, as Poilievre’s fans and apologists kept trying to “prove” that CTV was still the source, really, relying on screenshots that came from a different time zone. And at least two MPs shared these screenshots before they were called out and deleted them. 
I will say that between these lies, and the ones he has been telling about the Canada-Ukraine trade deal legislation, it seems to finally shaking up some legacy media outlets to actually start calling him out on them. Somewhat. Some outlets are still egregiously both-sidesing the lies, as they always do, but you had Power & Politics host David Cochrane finally interjecting in places saying “That wasn’t true,” or walking through the timeline of lies in the case of yesterday’s attempt to blame CTV. It’s not nearly enough, but it is a start, but we’ll see how long it can actually last. 

Maybe that is happening already:

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Dogs, bruh!


Post by @dogsarethefunniest
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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

Using the excuse of American Thanksgiving, I just need to post the funniest line ever said on television:

and here's the back-story:

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Today's fascinating stuff: from Saskatchewan Batman to outstanding truckers

Historian Craig Baird is doing more interesting AI stuff -- this one is from his series on The Provincial Batman: Apparently this isn't really from Campbell's. But it should have been!
Post by @mikeachim
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Monday, November 20, 2023

Surveying the Substacks: from the Wingnut Grievance Bubble to the imminent end of the baby boomer generation

I’ve written before about the Wingnut Grievance Bubble. it’s that enclosed feedback loop where lunatic fantasies, feverish delusions, nutty conspiracies, repugnant behavior and harebrained notions are amplified. these people watch themselves on Fox News all day long. whatever crackpot ideas rattle around in their heads are never challenged.
for example, inside the Wingnut Grievance Bubble, everyone knows that Joe Biden took bribes from China because everyone knows that Joe Biden took bribes from China. it’s doctrine. it’s tautology. it’s an article of faith. it goes unquestioned.
it doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence.
which is why, every time one of these nudnicks steps outside the Bubble and opens their mouth, they fall right the fuck on their stupid face.
This one hits close to home -- at Crushed By Margaret Cabourn-Smith, MCS writes Secretly Fat CW: Fat and fatphobia
...what happens when you call a woman “fat”:
“The accusation is so strong, it is still effective even if it has no basis in truth whatsoever. I have seen size 10 women being silenced by this line – as if they feel the accuser has somehow sensed that they secretly have a fat aura or will become fat later in life, and called them on it.”
The first time I read this I both gasped and cringed (gringed?), it hit so hard. Recently I read a piece by a fat activist where she mentioned that size (UK) 14 was where fatphobia kicked in and I realized the truth of it....

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Today's News: My List about the Israel-Hamas War

Credit: WarMapper

I have started a new Twitter List of people who have useful perspectives on this awful war -- I call it just "Israel-Hamas War" and you can sign up to follow it here: 
I wish Threads had a "list" function - I like Lists because it makes less likely I will miss newsworthy posts on specific topics from people I want to follow. Hopefully eventually Threads will add this. 
But in the meantime, I will just have to continue to use the twitter list functionality. 

Catching up on recent news stories:
First, here is some recent reporting about the Oct 7 attack, which seems to have been virtually forgotten: 
Matt Gurney: What I watched Hamas do The screams I heard on Monday weren't fake. The monsters at the door weren't actors in a lot of latex. These monsters were real. 
I view these clips with something of a trained eye, and noted quickly that the shootings are methodical and efficient. The attack force was well-drilled and organized. The killers are mostly task-oriented and focused. They had objectives and stuck to them. But that doesn't mean they weren't having the time of their lives. The National Post's Sabrina Maddeaux was there on Monday as well, and in her column about the briefing, she made a point of flagging something I'd noticed too — glee. Pleasure. Delight. Whooping cheers, selfies with the boys (carefully framed to put dead or captured Jews in the background), huge grins. The attacks were efficient, but not joyless. The Hamas terrorists are thrilled to be doing what they're doing.
The survivors in the Re’im shelter played dead for hours. Ms. Yosefzon was shot in the leg and her boyfriend in the arm. Their two other friends were dead. All the while, they could hear shooting and yelling in Arabic outside.
Eitan Halley, 28, a student, was drifting in and out of consciousness on the floor. He was full of shrapnel, and the fragments of someone else’s skull lay on his leg. Two of the friends he had arrived with had been killed. “I saw the face of death,” he said.
Reuters: Hunted by Hamas: 27 hours of slaughter and survival inside Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri
The survivors, just beginning to process the nightmare they endured, spoke in the days after the attack. Many described how spouses, children or grandparents were killed by the Hamas gunmen who had invaded their homes. Some were shot dead, others burned alive. In some homes, entire families were slaughtered or kidnapped.
“It’s like a 9/11,” said kibbutz secretary Alon Pauker, referring to Al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, but with a difference: “You know everyone who died.”
Some of the survivors cried as they spoke, others were stoic. Some were enraged, their ire directed at the killers but also at Israel’s leaders, who they said had failed to fulfill their most fundamental duty – protecting them.
Like many Israelis, whose sense of security has been shattered by the attacks, they wanted to know how Hamas militants had so comprehensively breached Israel’s border defenses, and why the army they trusted had been so taken by surprise and taken so long to respond.
Anger at the government is intense. Some ministers who have tried to visit the injured in hospitals or displaced survivors have been berated and forced to leave.
The Israeli state “failed us totally,” said kibbutz secretary Pauker.
Washington Post Hamas envisioned deeper attacks, aiming to provoke an Israeli war 
Even if its current leadership is effectively destroyed, she said, Hamas and its followers will continue to regard Oct. 7 as a victory. That’s partly because the group unquestionably succeeded in focusing the world’s attention on the Palestinian conflict, she said.
“It’s the first time I can remember that Hamas has become so prominent on a global scale,” Katz said. “So many people have already forgotten Oct. 7 because Hamas immediately changed the discussion. It put the focus on Israel, not themselves. And that’s exactly what they wanted.”
Next, some analysis about public reactions and protests: 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Oddities and funny stuff: from the Valeriepieris circle to a bull riding a motorcycle

First up, the Valeriepieris circle, which is sorta fascinating. Out of a total world population of 8 billion, there are 4.2 billion living in this circle.
And this is fascinating too:

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Today's News: Ain't it the Truth!

Just a whole bunch of comeuppance news tonight. 

First, from Canada:
Scrimshaw has an interesting column about the recent "Trudeau is Toast!" polling: Comebacks, Challenges and the Connoisseur's Curse
...Poilievre has spent millions – which he has to spend, and good for him – on a relentlessly positive ad campaign. It’s Harper’s sweater vest, except with a bigger ad buy behind it and Poilievre’s kids are young enough to look cute in the B-roll.... The kids do look cute, and he looks normal.
It’s also not going to matter when the Liberals eventually go on air with an ad blitz of their own about crypto as a way to opt out of inflation and banning all vaccine mandates and all the other crank lunacy that Poilievre’s said. We see them trial ballooning the eventual TV spots with all these digital videos – they’ll find the one that works best and hit him with it, in time. Will it matter? It’ll probably blunt his rising favourables (up to 40% per Abacus, and the ascent coinciding with the ad blitz’s start), when it comes. But what will matter is how the economy is when the election’s called, and whether people come to believe that Poilievre will win.
Another two years of columns from everyone about how Trudeau’s dead and Poilievre’s inevitable will probably have the effect of hurting Poilievre....
I am afraid Trudeau isn't going to get another two years - I expect Poilievre and the entire CPC are trying every trick in the book to get Singh to abandon his agreement with Trudeau next spring -- but I expect the Liberals will be ready for that one, too.

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Today's News: Updates about the Israel-Hamas War

I think Israel is finally trying to inform the world about what it had gone through, and what it is trying to do - we're seeing more stories about what happened to Israelies on Oct 7, and what the IDF is now achieving in Gaza. 
Unsurprisingly, Israel is refusing to consider a cease-fire until the hostages are returned, placing the responsibility squarely on Hamas for endangering the safety of Palestinians in Gaza. 
Several articles I read this week provide nuance and detail on this war: 
 Reuters reporters Stephen Grey, Maayan Lubell and Ryan McNeill have written an outstanding article - Hunted by Hamas: 27 hours of slaughter and survival inside Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri 
Malcolm Nance - HAMAS Needs Children to Die 
But the pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel marches around the world today are uninterested in nuance - just angry at Israel. 
There were massive pro-Palestinian marches today in Washington:

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween part deux

My brother just sent this to me - it is amazing!
In The Hall Of The Mountain King, by VoicePlay 

Happy Halloween!

Here's some to laugh at today:

Monday, October 30, 2023

Today's News: using the Israel-Hamas War to promote antisemitism

I can appreciate the sincerity of those who support the Palestinians and oppose Netanyahu. But that sincerity is being weaponized now by those around the world who hate Jews. The Israel-Hamas War is providing an excuse for virulent and violent antisemitism.
Tonight, this happened: Berkley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky - Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now
I am a 70-year-old Jewish man, but never in my life have I seen or felt the antisemitism of the last few weeks....
On Friday, someone in my school posted on Instagram a picture of me with the caption, “Erwin Chemerinsky has taken an indefinite sabbatical from Berkeley Law to join the I.D.F.” Two weeks ago, at a town hall, a student told me that what would make her feel safe in the law school would be “to get rid of the Zionists.” I have heard several times that I have been called “part of a Zionist conspiracy,” which echoes of antisemitic tropes that have been expressed for centuries.
I was stunned when students across the country, including mine, immediately celebrated the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7. Students for Justice in Palestine called the terror attack a “historic win” for the “Palestinian resistance.” A Columbia professor called the Hamas massacre “awesome” and a “stunning victory.” A Yale professor tweeted, “It’s been such an extraordinary day!” while calling Israel a “murderous, genocidal settler state.” A Chicago art professor posted a note reading, “Israelis are pigs. Savages. Very very bad people. Irredeemable excrement…. May they all rot in hell.” A UC Davis professor tweeted, “Zionist journalists … have houses w addresses, kids in school,” adding “they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” There are, sadly, countless other examples....
if you listen to what is being said on college campuses now, some of the loudest voices are not advocating for a change in Israeli policies, but are calling for an end to Israel. Students regularly chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “We don’t want no two states, we want all of 48,” referring to going back to 1948 before Israel existed.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Today's News: What rough beast is coming in the Israel-Hamas War?

Landscape from a Dream. Tate Gallery

Until I read Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times, I didn't understand what was happening in the Israel-Hamas War - particularly why so many people around the world are demonstrating against Israel. Friedman writes Israel: From the Six-Day War to the Six-Front War:
If you care about Israel, you should be more worried than any other time since 1967. Back then, Israel defeated the armies of three Arab states — Egypt, Syria and Jordan — in what became known as the Six-Day War. Today, if you look closely, you’ll see that Israel is now fighting the Six-Front War.
This war is being fought by and through nonstate actors, nation-states, social networks, ideological movements, West Bank communities and Israeli political factions, and it is the most complex war that I’ve ever covered. But one thing is crystal clear to me: Israel cannot win this six-front war alone. It can win only if Israel — and the United States — can assemble a global alliance.
Unfortunately, Israel today has a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and a ruling coalition that will not and cannot produce the keystone needed to sustain such a global alliance. That keystone is to declare an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and overhaul Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority so that it becomes a credible, legitimate Palestinian partner that can govern a post-Hamas Gaza and forge a broader two-state solution including the West Bank.
If Israel is asking its best allies to help the Jewish state seek justice in Gaza while asking them to look the other way as Israel builds a settlement kingdom in the West Bank with the express goal of annexation, that is strategically and morally incoherent.
It won’t work. Israel will not be able to generate the time, the financial assistance, the legitimacy, the Palestinian partner or the global allies it needs to win this six-front war.
Friedman goes on to explain all of these "fronts", how challenging they are to manage, and how difficult it is going to be for Israel to fight this war. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

Today's heroes: Travis Dermott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yocheved Lifshitz

Here's a post to look back on, whenever you feel the arc of the moral universe isn't bending toward justice fast enough. 
First, the NHL's despicable decision that hockey players were not going to be allowed to wear Pride symbols anymore has been defied already - not by a big-name star but by an ordinary Canadian hockey player named Travis Dermott, at the Phoenix Coyotes home opener on Saturday: Dermott told Yahoo Sports why he did it:
“You want to have everyone feel included and that’s something that I have felt passionate about for a long time in my career. It’s not like I just just jumped on this train. It’s something that I’ve felt has been lacking in the hockey community for a while. I feel like we need supporters of a movement like this; to have everyone feel included and really to beat home the idea that hockey is for everyone.”
Dermott’s Coyotes will host the first Pride night of the NHL’s regular season on Oct. 30, playing the Los Angeles Kings. And we will likely know by then whether there are any repercussions.

Next, here is a wonderful piece by Arnold Schwarzenegger, well worth listening to and sharing widely:  

Finally, this: Her name is Yocheved Lifshitz, age 85, and her 83-year-old husband is still being held prisoner. The Times of Israel also reports:
The Lifshitz couple, who were among the founders of Kibbutz Nir Oz, were peace activists and regularly transported patients from Gaza to receive medical treatment in hospitals across Israel.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dueling videos -- Trudeau vs Poilievre

These two clips are being set up as "dueling" videos.
Last spring, Trudeau was talking to a right-wing teenager in Manitoba. This week, Poilievre was talking to a BC reporter while eating an apple.
So here are both videos, to compare and contrast.
Trudeau was, I thought, both gentle and respectful with this teenager, while still questioning his knee-jerk thinking:
Next, we have Poilievre talking to Oliver and Osoyoos Times Chronicle newspaper editor Don Urquhart. The right wing just loved this disrespectful, annoyed, apple chomping tone: As the apple-chomping clip spread on social media, reporters remembered the Trudeau clip too, even though the comparison isn't equivalent: In the Globe and Mail, Shannon Proudfoot wrote a useful analysis - Getting to the Core of Poilievre's biting "apple" interview where she talked about what was really happening during this exchange:
...Sure, Mr. Urquhart’s question was muddled – though show me a journalist who says they’ve never framed a question badly, especially when nervous, overworked or out of their element, and I’ll show you someone with their pants on fire. It’s perfectly clear what he was getting at. Mr. Poilievre is free to reject the premise of the question and deploy all of his considerable rhetorical talents to dispute it, because that’s the way this works.
But kicking a journalist in the shins over and over to throw them off balance so you can run away, then turning the exchange into a social-media flex is telling on yourself.
In order for this scenario to be the delicious come-uppance its fans believe it to be, you have to see Mr. Poilievre – leader of a major political party, a lifelong politician and, if the polls are right, the next prime minister – as the underdog here, not the overworked local reporter just trying to ask a guy from Ottawa a couple of questions in an apple orchard.
Yes, good points.  
And finally, I want to give Mr. Urquhart the last word by sharing some excerpts from the respectful and informative article that he wrote about his Poilievre interview and the rally: Pierre Poilievre was in town Wednesday capping the visit off with a rally in Oliver 
...When asked why Canadians should trust him with their votes given his demonstrable track record of flip-flopping on key issues and what some consider his use of polarizing ideologically-infused rhetoric suggesting he simply takes pages out of the Donald Trump populist playbook, Poilievre became acerbic.
Ultimately the answer was: “Common sense.” We’re going to make common sense common in this country. We don’t have any common sense in the current government,” he said.
The article went on to quote Poilievre's fantasy platform stump speech, concluding with this:
“I’m going to cut spending, cut waste so that we can balance the budget and bring down inflation and interest rates. If you want to be able to pay your mortgage again, if you want to be able to afford rent then you have to vote for Pierre Polly because I’m the only one with a common sense plan that will bring back the buying power of your paycheck,” he said sounding as if an election was just around the corner.
And finally the article also included this useful counterbalancing information:
Richard Cannings NDP Member of Parliament for South Okanagan - West Kootenay issued a statement on Poilievre’s Okanagan visit saying the Conservative Party leader’s talk is simply a performance act.
“Poilievre puts on a good show, but that’s all it is - a performance. He gets up and says all the right things, but then fights to save big bosses a few dollars at the expense of working people.
“Poilievre isn’t who he pretends to be. He doesn’t work for regular people; he works for rich CEOs.”
Cannings cited a number of instances over Poilievre’s 20 year career that highlight the contradictory nature of his claims including his support for a $60 billion tax giveaway to big businesses while cutting services for ordinary Canadians.
“Two times, he voted against having a minimum wage,” Cannings said adding that he’s tried to block dental care for Canadian families, despite having full coverage as an MP for almost 20 years.
“Canadians are struggling to find affordable housing and pay for grocery bills, and they deserve to have someone in Ottawa that has real solutions to their problems. And Poilievre isn’t that person - he’s proven it over a twenty-year political career.
So how do we like them apples now?

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Courageous people

I saw some courageous people in this week's news. 

First of all, Heather Kuttai. 
She has been one of my personal heros for the last three decades. Heather has been a Human Rights Commissioner for nine years and I'm sure it broke her heart to have to resign in protest from a position she was so eminently suitable for and so good at. 
But she did it:

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Comments about the Israel-Hamas War

I'm reading lots of thoughtful items about the Israel-Hamas War so I wanted to share them. 
By the way, one thing I have noticed is that posters on Twitter who say "Israel-Hamas War" are generally supportive of Israel while those who say "Israel-Palestinian Conflict" are generally not. Israel is trying to maintain a distinction between making war against "Hamas" but not against "Palestinians" but I am afraid this definition will be increasingly difficult to maintain as the suffering of the Palestinian people increases. 
This is well said: Yes, I can understand why people around the world are angry and terrified about what is happening in Gaza to the Palestinians. 
But remember, Hamas can stop this any time they want. They can release the innocent men, women and children they are now holding hostage, and they can abandon their war against Israel. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I read the news today, oh boy!

Landscape from a dream by Paul Nash
...The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity...

What an awful week it has been for news. 
First, the Israel-Hamas War is going to be terrible. 
I can't help but be reminded of Gary Kamiya's 2003 Salon article Sleepwalking toward Baghdad where he talked about the difference between "politics" and "history":
...For we have gone from being in a political moment to a historical one.
I use the words somewhat eccentrically, to distinguish between events that are simple enough to be fully explicable ("political") and those that are too complex to be defined ("historical"). ...
The distinction also has a moral dimension. To exist in history is to have passed beyond the pieties and slogans of the political. History is tragic: politics is not. History is glorious. It is also fatal.
The two great competing ideologies of the 20th century, fascism and communism, were both self-consciously historical movements. As Czeslaw Milosz brilliantly noted in his classic study "The Captive Mind," it was precisely the abstraction of communism, its claim to have attained the summit of morality and to have incorporated into itself all possible contradictions, that made it so meticulously horrifying. In similar fashion, fascism contained a kind of blankness at its core: the self-glorifying violence of the state simultaneously concealed and revealed the emptiness of its founding concept, the national tribe.
The lesson every government should have learned from the bloody 20th century, one written in blood across the tortured soil of old, very old Europe, is very simple: Avoid history at all costs. History is too big, too abstract, too dangerous. Avoid men with Big Ideas -- especially stupid men with Big Ideas. Take care of politics: let history take care of itself. In a word, don't play God.
We are, right now, living through another historical moment. 
In the coming weeks, I expect neither Israel nor any other country will be able to find a way to negotiate with Hamas thugs to rescue any of the hundreds of hostages abducted by Hamas last weekend. They are lost now, martyrs to a evil cause.
And it appears Israel is going to invade Gaza - the Israeli Defense Force will perceive no other way to regain their tattered reputation. 
Here is a New York Times article which describes in terrible detail what happened: The Secrets Hamas Knew about the Israeli Military
...Hamas, the militia that controls the Gaza Strip, managed to surprise and outmaneuver the most powerful military in the Middle East last Saturday — storming across the border, overrunning more than 30 square miles, taking more than 150 hostages and killing more than 1,300 people in the deadliest day for Israel in its 75-year history.
With meticulous planning and extraordinary awareness of Israel’s secrets and weaknesses, Hamas and its allies overwhelmed the length of Israel’s front with Gaza shortly after dawn, shocking a nation that has long taken the superiority of its military as an article of faith.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Israel-Hamas War: stories of courage, stories of terror

We are finding out more now about the horror that Israelis experienced as Hamas was hunting and killing them - the stories are incredible, some courageous, others terrifying.
The New York Times has a major article today about what Israeli soldiers are now finding after the Hamas terrorists ran back to Gaza - Hamas Leaves Trail of Terror in Israel:
They were killed waiting for the bus, dancing at a festival, doing morning chores and hiding as best they could. Searching bullet-riddled houses, streets and lawns, Israeli soldiers are still finding them.
The soldiers, retaking control of the kibbutzim, towns and settlements near the Gaza Strip that came under attack by Palestinian terrorists over the weekend, have recovered body after body after body.
Hamas gunmen, hitting more than 20 sites in southern Israel, killed more than 1,000 people, including women and children, and abducted an estimated 150 more people... Palestinian gunmen attacked Israeli civilians in all the mundane places of a Saturday morning in southern Israel — at an outdoor festival and in their homes, on familiar roads and in the middle of town — places where soldiers and the police were as surprised by the violence as neighbors, families and friends.
From tweets by Gadi Shamia comes these stories of courage:
Yair Golan

If you don't live in Israel or consume Israeli media, you don't know who Yair Golan is. He is a 61-year-old retired Major General in the Israel army and a former parliament MP. Spend a minute to read this story.
Yesterday, when IDF and the police were in complete chaos, Golan put on his old uniform, took his weapon, and drove into the war zone multiple times to rescue civilians under fire. He rescued two young adults hiding under a bush after 260 of their friends were murdered at an outdoor party. He answered a call from a journalist that his son was hiding under fire and simply said, "Give me his location, and I will bring him back home." An hour later, the son called his father from Golan's car.
Golan collected a small crew and went in and out of the war zone, rescuing dozens of people while exchanging fire with Hamas terrorists. He is 61, he could have stayed home, but he chose to risk his life for people he does not know.
Golan is one of the strongest voices from the Israeli left and was constantly attacked by the right wing in Israel. But when the time came, he was first fighting the barbaric attack. The same brain wiring that supports peace, is often the same wiring that drives people to do the right thing.
A true hero.
By the way, he is not the only one. Major General Noam Tivon, also 61, drove from Tel Aviv, joined the troops on the ground and rescued his son and grandkids. He stayed and help the troops fight the terrorists that were still there.
Another family's story from this tweet:
Adar and Itai Berdichevsky

Adar and Itai Berdichevsky from Kfar Aza hid their 10-month-old twins in a mamada (air-raid shelter), while they waited for the militants in the house to divert the terrorists' attention from the children.
Both served in the army, both were officers, there were weapons at home, and the guys did not give up and, wounded, shot until the last bullet while they had strength left...
Adar and Itay died. On the threshold of their house lay the corpses of 7 terrorists.
The kids were alone in the room for 13 hours.
They are safe, surrounded by love and care.
They were found by Itaya’s brother and father Adar, who had been fighting the terrorists all this time, saved dozens of people, but were unable to get to their loved ones in time.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Opinion Roundup on the Israel-Hamas War

There is absolutely no excuse for the horrific war that Hamas has now started against Israel. 
Israel will defend itself, the Palestinians in Gaza are likely going to be slaughtered as a result. and it may well cause a wider war between the US and Iran. 
The leadership of the world is displaying Israel's flag on buildings everywhere:
Here is some of the perceptive commentary I am reading this weekend: 
Charlotte Clymer - Hamas Does Not Care About Palestinians. Please stop saying otherwise. 
... Hamas has decided to attack innocent Israeli civilians because they are self-serving terrorists who exploit others’ suffering as a vehicle for their unrelenting antisemitism. 
 Nothing is to be gained for innocent Palestinians from these cowardly actions by Hamas, and they know that. 
 This is about hatred of Jewish people and a denial of Israel’s right to exist and a rejection of their rumored, historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia, and it is an astonishing moral failure for anyone to suggest otherwise. 
 It is completely absurd on the part of some to take advantage of the sheer complexity of this horrific conflict to justify the intentional targeting of civilians. You can criticize the Israeli government and not be antisemitic. You can speak out against Netanyahu’s atrocious leadership without being anti-Israel. But you cannot justify the intentional murder of civilians with criticism of the Israeli government.
 There is no rationalizing this. There is no moral basis for it. There is no nuance to be found here, however much some might wish there were.
 ...They are intentionally using innocent civilians as shields while they carry out their senseless acts of violent bigotry against Jewish people. 
 Whatever happens next, it is clear that children and the elderly will suffer most, and it is obvious that Hamas is at peace with that. 
 They need to be defeated and dismantled for the sake of all innocents, and the world needs to unite against them with that objective in mind.