November 30, 2023

Resolution reaffirming the State of Israel’s right to exist

Whereas the Jewish people are native to the Land of Israel;

Whereas throughout history and across the reign of multiple kingdoms, the Jewish people were persecuted and expelled from the Land of Israel, forced to live as minority diaspora communities in other lands;

Whereas Jewish diaspora communities were historically violently persecuted in, and in some cases expelled from, other countries throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia due to their religion;

Whereas the Nazis attempted to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe during the Holocaust, murdering 6,000,000 Jews during this time;

Whereas this genocide provided new urgency to re-establish a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people following the Holocaust, where they would not be a vulnerable minority, where they could freely practice their faith, and where something like the Holocaust could never happen again;

Whereas the modern State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948;

Whereas even after the establishment of the State of Israel, other countries and terrorist entities continued to attack Israel, reject its right to exist, and call for its destruction; and

Whereas Israel is the only Jewish State, and therefore, despite persistent external threats, the existence of Israel provides Jews a place to live free from persecution and discrimination: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) reaffirms the State of Israel’s right to exist;

(2) recognizes that denying Israel’s right to exist is a form of antisemitism;

(3) rejects calls for Israel’s destruction and the elimination of the only Jewish State; and

(4) condemns the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Israel.

October 28, 2023

A Brief History of Palestine Since World War I

The lands currently known as Palestine/Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon were regions of the Ottoman empire for some 400 years.

The Ottoman empire ended with, along with internal challenges, its defeat in World War I. France took control of Syria & Lebanon (as a single entity), Britain of Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Palestine (as separate entities) (Treaty of Sèvres, 1920). Palestine was intended for “the establishment ... of a national home for the Jewish people, ... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” (Balfour Declaration, 1917).

Jordan (Transjordan) was established as independent from Iraq, and Lebanon as independent from Syria, all of these countries recognized as increasingly independent through the 1920s and ’30s until the final withdrawal of France and Britain after World War II.

The League of Nations mandate for Palestine (1920) was superseded by the United Nations partition plan (1947) for two independent states, Jewish and Arab. Civil war between Jewish and Arab communities ensued. When the British Mandate expired in 1948, the Jewish state of Israel was declared, and the recently formed (1945) League of Arab States, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria, as well as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, invaded, resulting in an expansion of Israel (recognized internationally as the 1949 “Green Line” and later the “pre-1967” border) and occupation of the remaining areas meant for an Arab state by Jordan (West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza).

Arab militants continued raids through the 1950s and ’60s, with corresponding responses by Israel.

In 1956, Israel joined Britain and France to attack Egypt in their attempt (which failed) to regain control of the Suez Canal after its nationalization by Egypt. While in Gaza, Israel killed hundreds of Arab militants (or just young men) in Khan Younis and Rafah.

In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran (the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea) to Israeli shipping, and Israel attacked Egypt (the “Six-Day War”). Jordan and Syria joined with attacks on Israel. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza from Egypt. The Arab League reiterated its policy of no recognition of and no peace or negotiations with Israel.

In 1973 (the “Yom Kippur War”), Egypt attempted to retake the Sinai Peninsula and Syria the Golan Heights. The rest of the Arab League helped them, as did the Soviet Union. Israel pushed them back, but eventually both Israel and Egypt decided to make peace. Israel withdrew back to roughly the Golan Heights as before. With the 1978 Camp David Accords, Israel ceded the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt recognized Israel. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.

In 2005, Israel removed Jewish settlers and withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

In 2006, the Hamas movement became the elected government for the Arab Palestinians and in 2007 expelled the rival Fatah movement from Gaza. Israel and Egypt put Gaza under blockade. In 2014, Hamas launched attacks on Israel and Israelis, and Israel attacked Gaza to destroy Hamas’s military infrastructure and operations.

Hamas, as well as the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, continued rocket attacks and incursions against Israel and Israelis.

In 2023, Hamas attacked Israel with thousands of rockets and an invasion by some 2,500 fighters, killing more than 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages.

October 12, 2023

Forgotten, but not yet gone

Forgotten, but not yet gone.

Progress is the insult done by each generation on the previous one.

(The first line is from Our Like WIll Not Be There Again: Notes from the West of Ireland by Lawrence Millman (1975). The second line paraphrases a line from The Trouble With Being Born by Emil Cioran (1973) that was used as an epigram to one of Millman’s chapters.)

“The Blasket people call their departure from their island “the vanishing.” … In a sense, they are living beyond their own disappearance.’

August 19, 2023

Ag caint ar gaoil

Ó Caisleáin Óir le Séamus Ó Grianna (1924):

« ‘A mháthair mhór’, arsa Séimí, i ndiaidh a theach chun an bhaile, ‘an bhfuil gaol ar bith againne do bhunadh Mháirtín?’

« ‘Is fada amach é’, ar sise. ‘Fan go bhfeice mé. Seáinín Mór agus Conall Ó Fríl clann an deirféar is a dearthár; Micheál Sheáinín agus Tarlach Chonaill an dá ó; d’athair agus Máirtín an dá fhionnó; tusa agus Babaí [iníon Mháirtín], dearfaidh mé, an dá dhubhó. … Tá fréamh eile ghaoil nó dhó ag Séimí anseo do chlann Mháirtín. Tá mise agus Síle Chuirristín — go ndéana Sé a mhaith ar na mairbh — clann an bheirt dearthár; fear an tí seo agus Máirtín an dá ó; Séimí agus clann Mháirtín an dá fhionnó. … Tá tuilleadh ann. Gaol mhuintír na Brád. Bríd Chéillín agus Nualaitín an clann is ó; Peigí Tharlaigh Dhuibh agus Croíán ó is fionnó; bean an tí seo agus bean Mháirtín fionnó agus dubhó; Séimí anseo agus clann Mháirtín dubhó agus glún taobh amuigh de sin.’ »

(Seáinín Mór and Conall Ó Fríl are the children of a brother and a sister [1st cousins], Micheál Sheáinín and Tarlach Chonail 2nd cousins [ó], your father and Máirtín 3rd cousins [fionnó], you and Babaí 4th cousins [dubhó]. … Síle Chuirristín and I are the children of brothers [1st cousins], the man of this house and Máirtín 2nd cousins [ó], Séimí and the children of Máirtín 3rd cousins [fionnó]. … The Bráds: Bríd Chéillín and Nualaitín are the children of 2nd cousins, Peigí Tharlaigh Dhuibh agus Croíán 2nd and 3rd cousins, the woman of this house and Máirtín’s wife 3rd and 4th cousins, Séimí and the children of Máirtín 4th cousins and further out.)

(The first relation is established through the fathers (who are thus 3rd cousins), the second through their mothers (who are 1st cousins), and the third through the children’s mothers (who are 3rd and 4th cousins, presumably the former relation by a tie not elucidated here, or perhaps “2nd and 3rd” means 2nd once removed).)

[[[[ ]]]]

“Cousin” in Irish is col ceathair. Col refers to impediment to marriage (the reason Séamí is asking how related he is to Babaí), and ceathair refers to 4, that is, 4 degrees of separation: self, parent, grandparent, parent’s sibling, cousin. Col cúigir (5) is 1st cousin once removed, col seisir (6) is 2nd cousin, col  seachtair (7) is 2nd cousin once removed, col ochtair (8) is 3rd cousin.

Similarly, the degree of relation can be expressed as, for example, Tá siad a dó is a dó, They are cousins; Tá siad a dó is a trí, They are cousins once removed.

Also: Is iad an treas glúin iad, They are second cousins (of the 3rd generation). This derives from the simple use of glúin for generation of descent, for example, an dara glúin ó Micheál Sheáinín, the 2nd generation after Micheál Sheáinín. (Glúin also means “knee”.)

In the above passage, yet another way of describing relations is used, based on ó (originally úa), meaning “grandson” or “grandchild”, as in surnames, for example, Ó Grianna, as mac means “son”, which is also used in surnames. (For women’s surnames, Ó and Mac are replaced with Ní and Níc, respectively. Second cousins, both grandchildren of the same grandparents, are an dá ó. Fionnó is “great-grandchild”, and 3rd cousins are an dá fhionnó. (Iarmhó is another word for great-grandchild.) And dubhó is “great-great-grandchild” and 4th cousins are an dá dhubhó.

Dinneen actually quotes the above passage extensively in the dictionary entry for ó. He provides some other examples of usage as well: Táimíd i n-ó le chéile, we are cousins; Táimíd i n-ó amháin, we are first cousins; Táimíd ar (or idir) dá ó, we are second cousins; Táimíd i dá ionn-ó le chéile, we are third cousins; Tá siad i dá dhubh-ó, they are fourth cousins.

A third cousin may also be referred to as dhá ó and a fourth cousin as trí ó.

An etymological question is the origin of fionnó and dubhó, which appear to mean white cousin and black cousin. Fionnó was originally ionn-ó (as in the example provided by Dinneen), suggesting legitimacy, that is, marriage is possible. Perhaps as ionn became fionn, so became dubh. Dú-ó would suggest what is natural, that is, marriage idir dá dhubhó is proper, fitting.

From Caisleáin Óir: « ‘Ta sibh saor ar cháin’, arsa Donnchadh Mór, ‘ó rachas sibh taobh amach de na fionnóí.’ » (You are free from censure since you have gone past 3rd cousins.)

August 5, 2023

Excerpts from a couple of essays in Tablet magazine

From “The Culture of Transgression,” by Michael Lind, July 31, 2023

Everywhere we see our political, cultural, and financial elites bankrolling activists to dismantle traditions. While flags and slogans celebrating racial or sexual identity are proudly displayed by Western governments and corporations, overt displays of national patriotism are regarded by establishmentarians on both sides of the Atlantic as vulgar and distasteful. Religions tend to be viewed with distrust and contempt by the trans-Atlantic elite, unless their premodern teachings have been modified into alignment with the views of the campus left. The Western canon, instead of being enlarged to include unjustly excluded authors, has been jettisoned, and liberal education has been replaced by ideological indoctrination in the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI).

Iconoclasm is nothing new in history. The term was coined to describe the controversy over icons in medieval Byzantium, and has come to mean any attack on cherished traditions and familiar imagery. Radical Protestant reformers broke the stained glass and smashed the statues of Mary and the saints. The Taliban dynamited Buddhist statues in Afghanistan in 2001, and later ISIS destroyed many ancient Mesopotamian monuments and statues.

In most historic cases, programmatic iconoclasm has been temporary and accompanied or followed by the fabrication of new traditions and the imposition of new orthodoxies. In communist Russia, the statues of the czars went down and statues of Lenin and Stalin went up. ...

But the cancellation of the Great Books curriculum has not led to a new consensus canon featuring minority, female, and nonbinary authors along with a smaller number of “dead white males” who are deemed acceptable. Instead, much of the energy of woke jihadists goes into purging or censoring existing works of art and thought—rewriting the novels of Roald Dahl, for example—or randomly parachuting nonwhite or “queer” characters into movie remakes instead of creating something new.

The cultural ferment in contemporary North America and Europe does not feel like an interregnum between one cultural regime and a stable successor. It feels like a permanent revolution.

Put another way, the Western elite culture of transgression is an example of antinomianism, not iconoclasm. Unlike iconoclasm, antinomianism is not a temporary campaign of destruction of older iconography and traditions to clear the way for the imposition of new canons and orthodoxies. Derived from the Greek words meaning “against” and “law” or “norm,” the term antinomianism refers to the view that all laws and norms are oppressive always and everywhere, and that the act of transgression in itself is virtuous, if not holy. ...

At the moment, the fashionable justifications invoked by the elite antinomian vandals attacking Western society from within are climate change, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, and “anti-fascism” as a catchall category. Upper-middle-class young men and women who throw paint at artistic masterpieces or glue themselves to trains claim they are defending the earth’s environment, but they could just as well say they are fighting white supremacy or patriarchy. They are acting out the ethos of a Western elite culture that believes the act of transgression itself is virtuous; the alleged goal of the transgression is merely an excuse.

Call it “the culture of transgression” of the dominant overclass in North Atlantic democracies. The three saints of transgression are the illegal immigrant, the transsexual, and the woman who proudly celebrates abortion. All three are idealized by our revolutionary ruling class precisely because they violate traditional norms—the traditional norm of patriotism, based on the legitimacy of the city-state or nation-state or kingdom and its laws and borders; traditional gender norms; and traditional family norms, which celebrate the capacity of women to give birth and to nurture their infants and of men to provide for them. Most of what is called “progressivism” today is really transgressivism.

y now the antinomians in Western nations have won their war against tradition in every realm. The members of the credentialed corporate-government-nonprofit-academic-media oligarchy, along with billionaire entrepreneurs and bankers who themselves are usually born into managerial-professional families, are almost all modernist in their aesthetics, libertine in their views of sex and recreational drug use, and dismissive of nationalism and patriotism and religion, which they regard as mental diseases of the lower classes. They work in offices designed by trendy “starchitects” decorated with abstract art, and often live in postmodern homes designed to be sterile, off-putting, and the very opposite of petty bourgeois comfort.

Having vandalized every premodern tradition, the elite antinomians of the modern West now don’t know what to do next. What should rebels against the bourgeoisie rebel against when the bourgeoisie has fallen?

The answer, it is increasingly apparent, is to rebel against the proletariat. Instead of shocking the bourgeoisie, our post-bourgeois managerial overclass now delights in shocking the working class. ...

Whatever working-class “normies” believe and enjoy, the most influential tastemakers of the trans-Atlantic ruling class denounce and seek to ban, using one of their three or four specious all-purpose justifications. ...

By declaring the democratic preferences of the working class a danger to society, the West’s oligarchs justify subjecting their enemies to pervasive surveillance and other counterextremism measures originally designed for foreign terrorist groups. ...

From “The Obama Factor,” by David Samuels, August 02, 2023

[Note: There’s a lot of (counterfactual) anti-Putin/Trump crap in this piece, which rather plays right into the very stuff the authors critique. Samuels is also offended by Obama’s supposed minimization of American exceptionalism, but he equates that exceptionalism with empire, which Obama clearly embraced (to great harm).]

... By then, it was clear to any informed observer that the Obamas’ continuing presence in the nation’s capital was not purely a personal matter. To an extent that has never been meaningfully reported on, the Obamas served as both the symbolic and practical heads of the Democratic Party shadow government that “resisted” Trump—another phenomenon that defied prior norms.... The election of Joe Biden in 2020 gave the Obamas even more reasons to stay in town. ...

Near the end of June, for example, Politico ran a long article noting Biden’s cognitive decline, with the coy headline “Is Obama Ready to Reassert Himself?”—as if the ex-president hadn’t been living in the middle of Washington and playing politics since the day he left office. Indeed, in previous weeks Obama had continued his role as central advocate for government censorship of the internet while launching a new campaign against gun ownership, claiming it is historically linked to racism. Surely, the spectacle of an ex-president simultaneously leading campaigns against both the First and Second Amendments might have led even a spectacularly incurious old-school D.C. reporter to file a story on the nuts and bolts of Obama’s political operation and on who was going in and out of his mansion. But the D.C. press was no longer in the business of maintaining transparency. Instead, they had become servants of power, whose job was to broadcast whatever myths helped advance the interests of the powerful. ...

At bottom, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama [by David Garrow] is a tragic story about a young man who was deeply wounded by the abandonment of both his white mother and his Black father—a wound that gifted him with political genius and at the same time made him the victim of a profound narcissism that first whispered to him in his mid-twenties that he was destined to be president. It is not hard to see how Garrow has come to believe that Obama’s ambition proved to be toxic, both for the man and for the country. ...

My own read of Obama has always been that he was a skillful elite-pleaser with a radical streak that did in fact emerge from the anti-imperialist politics of the 1970s, the foundational claim of which was that equality trumps freedom. ...

Progressive theology is built on a mythic hierarchy of group victimhood which has endured throughout time, up until the present day; the injuries that the victims have suffered are so massive, so shocking, and so manifestly unjust that they dwarf the present. Such injuries must be remedied immediately, at nearly any cost. The people who do the work of remedying these injustices, by whatever means, are the heroes of history. Conversely, the sins of the chief oppressors of history, white men, are so dark that nothing short of abject humiliation and capitulation can begin to approach justice.

It goes to say that nothing about the terms of progressive theology is original. It is the theology of Soviet communism, with class struggle replaced by identity politics. In this system, Jews play a unique, double-edged role: They are both an identity group and a Trojan horse through which history can reenter the gates of utopia.

Ghettos were invented for Jews. Concentration camps, too. How can Jews be “privileged white people” if they are clearly among history’s victims? And if Jews aren’t white people, then perhaps lots of other white people are also victims and therefore aren’t “white,” in the theological sense in which that term gains its significance in progressive ideology. Maybe “Black people” aren’t always or primarily Black. Maybe the whole progressive race-based theology is, historically and ideologically speaking, a load of crap. Which is why the Jews are and will remain a problem. ...

[Obama] was the guy chosen by history to put something in the American goldfish bowl that made all the fish go crazy and eat each other: America’s emerging oligarachy cementing its grip instead of going bust. The rise of monopoly internet platforms. The normalization of government spying on Americans. Race relations going south. Skyrocketing inequality. The rise of Donald Trump. The birth of Russiagate. It all happened with Obama in the White House. ...

[The interview:]

DS: What do you see as the connection, if any, between the personal lives of powerful men and their public lives, based on your years of research on Dr. King, and your experience writing about Obama?

DG: I think one can in large part, in King’s case, say these were sort of two separate lives. Because he lived it that way. He lived it as two separate lives.

DS: Might one make the same case about Obama, but in reverse? It seems clear that Obama leads an exemplary, highly controlled private life, consuming exactly seven almonds while watching The Man in the High Castle or Draymond Green highlights on ESPN for stress relief.

DG: Right. Yes.

DS: In fact, I can make the case that Obama’s public life was the amoral part, beginning with the toleration of genocide in Syria and the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens, and extending to wide-scale illegal surveillance and spying, and his now becoming the spokesperson for gutting the First Amendment in favor of government censorship of large tech platforms. ...

DS: So Obama starts out as an eloquent opponent of the Patriot Act, etc., etc. By the end of his presidency, his people are unmasking intercepts of his political opponents every day, and the FBI is spying on Donald Trump.

DG: That’s right. ...

DS: What interests you most about Obama today?

DG: The number one thing about Barack this past five years is how completely he’s vanished.

DS: Why is he living in the center of Washington, D.C., then?

DG: Well, how much time is he spending there as opposed to Martha’s Vineyard? I have no idea.

DS: Between July Fourth and Labor Day, sure. The rest of the year, he lives in a large brick mansion in Kalorama. Doesn’t it strike you as weird that he’s an ex-president, he’s comparatively young, and he’s living in the center of Washington, D.C.? The original excuse was that Sasha had to finish school. Then you could say, “Well, the opposition to Trump needs a figure to rally around.” But now Sasha has graduated from USC, Trump is gone, Joe Biden was elected present, but he’s still there.

DG: I never see any mentions of him.

DS: Doesn’t that strike you as odd? I mean, I have heard from more than one source that there are regular meetings at Obama’s house in Kalorama involving top figures in the current White House, with Secret Service and cars outside. I don’t write about it because it’s not my lane. There are over a thousand reporters in Washington, and yet there are zero stakeouts of Obama’s mansion, if only to tell us who is coming and going. But he clearly has his oar in.

DG: I don’t follow the Iranian stuff super, super carefully, but I have been puzzled at the Biden administration’s continuing attachment to the Iran deal.

DS: The easy explanation, of course, is that Joe Biden is not running that part of his administration. Obama is. He doesn’t even have to pick up the phone because all of his people are already inside the White House. They hold the Iran file. Tony Blinken doesn’t.

DG: Rob Malley was the guy on that.

DS: Rob Malley is just one person. Brett McGurk. Dan Shapiro in Israel. Lisa Monaco in Justice. Susan Rice running domestic policy. It’s turtles all the way down. There are obviously large parts of White House policymaking that belong to Barack Obama because they’re staffed by his people, who worked for him and no doubt report back to him. Personnel is policy, as they say in Washington.

Which to me is a very odd and kind of spooky arrangement. Spooky, because it is happening outside the constitutional framework of the U.S. government, and yet somehow it’s been placed off the list of permitted subjects to report on. Which is a pretty good indicator of the extent to which the information we get, and public reactions to that information, is being successfully controlled. How and by whom remain open questions, the quick answer to which is that the American press has become a subset of partisan comms.

DG: I’m going back to something you said 20 minutes ago. From the get-go, I know enough intelligence community stuff that from the first time I saw it, I realized that Christopher Steele’s shit was just complete crap. It was bad corporate intelligence, even. It was nonsensical.

DS: What scared me back then was coming to understand that a new milieu had been created consisting of party operatives, the people in the FBI and the CIA who are carrying out White House policy, and the press. It is all one world now. And that’s something people still seem loathe to admit, even to themselves, in part because it puts them in a state of dissonance with this new kind of controlled consensus that the press maintains, which is obviously garbage. But if you question it, you’re some kind of nut. ... Now the question becomes, why are they still fixated on Iran after the Iran deal failed, its premises are exploded? And who are “they,” exactly?

DG: Well, for Barack, everything has to be a success. Everything has to be a victory. I mean, I’m not a health policy expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve always thought that the whole Obamacare thing was, in large part, a fraud. It’s a great achievement for the health insurance industry.

DS: Obama reluctantly started talking about health care because it was Hillary Clinton’s issue in 2008, and then they were like, “Well, you have to have a healthcare plan, because Hillary has her big healthcare plan.” It was like, “All right, fine, I’ll have one too.” ...

DS: I think future historians are going to look at the Obama presidency and see it as the moment when this new oligarchy merged with the Democratic Party and used the capacities of these new technologies and the power of this new class of people, the oligarchs and their servants, to create a new apparatus of social control. How far they can go with it, what the limits are … you see them trying to test it out every week or so. ... So if Obama is the first U.S. president from the periphery of empire, he’s also the first president from the billionaire-foundation-NGO complex, which makes him the perfect mediating figure between the progressive part of the party, the billionaires, and the security state. ...

DS: As someone who has been a serious student of this subject for the past 45 years, how consequential is the court’s decision to overturn Roe?

DG: It’s a class issue. That’s the number one thing. Even before Roe [and], if you were a woman who had your life together and could get yourself to New York, you were fine. If you had the time and the ability to buy yourself a plane ticket to New York City, you were fine. Anybody from the Rio Grande Valley needed to get, past tense, to San Antonio or Austin to get an abortion. And that’s what we’re looking at now, is that it’s a travel challenge, because there’s going to be this whole swath of states—Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas—where folks are going to need to get to New Mexico, Colorado, or Illinois. ...

[T]he problem with the reproductive rights movement, going all the way back to Mrs. Sanger in the teens and the ’20s, is that the activist population has no connection to the beneficiary population. Because the beneficiary population is generally poverty-class women who have messed-up lives—and, in some circumstances, abusive life situations. But they are working-class or poverty-class people for whom the ability to get out of Pittsburgh, just to use the local geography, to fly out of Pittsburgh, would be a humongous challenge for them. They can take the bus around Pittsburgh, but how do you get to the airport? How do you get a ticket? Where do you go? Do you have an internet connection at home? ...

DS: So how do you talk all this foundation-land, community-organizer shit and then preside over the transformation of the country into a Gilded Age oligarchy? Maybe I just answered my own question: Obama is the Magic Negro of the billionaire industrial complex. And targeting Jews as outsiders and pushing them outside the circle was the way that the Gilded Age oligarchy consolidated itself in America, back then and also now. ...

DS: [I]magine telling Harry Truman, “Hey, why don’t you sell that old house and buy three or four huge mansions in Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in sweetheart deals with big corporations while you’re vacationing on rich people’s yachts?” ...

DG: Everybody, especially white folks, thought that having a Black family in the White House would be cure for the legacy of American racism. Now there’s no question in anybody’s mind that on that score, that scale, the presidency was a total failure. But why are race relations, at least as people perceive them or imagine them, ostensibly well worse today post-Floyd than they were in 2008? ...

DS: [T]he point where race relations in America turned sour wasn’t with George Floyd in 2020; it was with BLM in 2014, and that’s squarely during Obama’s second term ...

DG: I think it’s inescapable that Barack’s success in ‘08 is rooted in white people seeing him as an easy ticket toward racial absolution. It’s a need that white people in this country have. And what we’re still seeing week after week now for these past two or three years, especially with places like the Times and the Post, is that this white need for absolution was not cured by the Obama presidency. ...

DS: The protagonists of the grand drama of race in America are the cultural and actual descendants of the Puritans, not Black people—who, as Americans, mainly desire the same things that other Americans do, like safe streets and decent jobs and health care and not to die prematurely from heart disease. White Puritans have more elevated concerns.

DG: Exactly. For them, 200-year-old statues are more important than five-year-old Black children. ...

DS: What do the Obamas and their circle have in common with each other? They are Ivy League people, who ran away from whatever they came from in order to become members of the credentialed elites, whose loyalty is to the system that gives them prestige—or rather, gives prestige to their degrees, of which they are the holders. Once they pair off and reproduce under the seal of Harvard or Yale, they may find it seemly to donate money to an NGO that offers microloans to female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. So why should Obama, the ultimate winner, carry on the charade that he’s part of a community, whatever that means, with these people? He’s happy to go on NPR and talk about meaning or Marilynne Robinson novels or whatever, to make the wine moms identify with him, so he can put one over on them. Just don’t ask him to visit the hospital when you get cancer, because he’ll be hanging out on someone’s yacht, with the other winners. ...

July 27, 2023

“Mar a chaith mé laethanta saoire an tsamhraidh”

Bíonn an t-úrscéal Diosco Dé le Séamas Mac Annaidh (Coiscéim, 2006) ag spaisteoireacht thart faoi samhradh mar teagasc Béarla i gcampa Tuirceach an bliain 1999. Tá sé mar bheadh cuntas taistil nó cuimhní cinn seachas úrscéal ann. Cúpla uair tá leaideanna go mbeidh eachtra mór ag forbairt, ach leanann an scéal go dtí eachtranna eile sa champa, i rith na turais, teannas agus comhcheilg idir na múinteoirí Gaeilge, na pearsantachtaí ar na múintoirí uile (Béarla agus Tuirceach) agus ar na daltaí nua gach coicís, an dúshlán ar an ceannais an an champa a choinnigh gabháil i gceart is go sabháilte.

Is as Doire atá an scéalaí agus a chailín Astrálach, agus tá siad ag filleadh (.i. pilleadh) chun an champa cá bualadh iad le chéile an bhliain roimhe. Tar éis naoi mí i nDoire, tá siad araon ag dúil le am ar cósta na mara Mharmara a chaitheamh.

Ni féidir a inis níos mó faoin scéal gan nochtadh an cúis go bhfuil sé seo cén úrscéal maith, mar ar deireadh is úrscéal an-tochtmhar é. Go cáiréiseach, fíonn an Annach an léitheoir isteach le scéal an scéalaí féin.

July 26, 2023

Climate change–fueled weather demands action now, sez Sarah Copeland Hanzas — annotated

Sarah Copeland Hanzas was a Vermont House member for 18 years before being elected as Secretary of State in 2022. This commentary, reproduced here in full with notes following, was published in several news outlets (without the notes).

Vermonters have always rallied to protect and care for our friends and neighbors in a crisis. I am grateful for Governor Scott’s calm and measured response when Vermont is in crisis. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Scott followed the science and took the appropriate steps, despite considerable opposition,a to keep Vermonters safe and to prevent a greater tragedy. Now, we need the same courage and focus as we grapple with flood recovery and take action to address the underlying forces of climate changeb that drove its severity.

So far this summer, Vermont has seen a record heat wave in May,c the state’s worst air quality in history in June, and recently a record rainstorme that dumped as much as two months of normal rain on towns around the state in just over a day.

And this is clearly the new normalf for Vermont as the impacts of global warming hit us. Nolan Atkins, the former chair of the atmospheric sciences department at Vermont State University said: “In a warmer world and a warmer climate, [we should expect] these more frequent and more intense weather events.”

Yet despite the science, and clear evidence of increasingly severe weather, the Governor has vetoed every major piece of climate legislation the Vermont Legislature has put before him in recent years. We need Governor Scott to direct state agencies to recognize the climate emergency and treat climate action with the same emergency response and focus we are seeing right now during the floods, and that we did during Vermont’s Covid response.g

As the former co-chair of the Legislature’s Climate Solution Caucus, I traveled throughout the state listening to Vermonters’ concerns about the looming impacts of global warming and the urgent need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I heard over and over that if we don’t act on climate and curb our emissions we will run out of time; we will be too consumed by the effects of climate change to focus on transitioning to renewable energy.h

I have seen our pragmatic Governor do a policy pivot when faced with an emergency. After the shooting threat in Fair Haven High School, he was a constructive and supportive partner for meaningful gun safety reforms.

It is time for the Governor to pivot on climate policy. There are a few simple things the Governor can do right now to make a difference and help Vermont be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And more importantly, prevent greater tragedy.

First, the Governor should direct his appointees on the Climate Council to shift to an emergency response.i The most immediate and constructive action he could take at this moment is to make sure Vermonters whose heating systems were destroyed in the flood are encouraged and incentivized to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.j Let’s help provide loaner heating systems to get through the upcoming heating season and accelerate our investment in our green energy workforce. This will not only speed up Vermont’s green energy transition but also create jobs; we can combat climate change and help Vermont’s economy at the same time.

Second, direct his Agency of Natural Resources and Department of Public Service to become willing partners in implementing the Clean Heat Standard to help all Vermonters transition from fossil fuels for heating and cooling their homes and businesses. Over one-third of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating and cooling our homes and businesses. Despite this, Governor Scott and his administration have inexplicably been an anchor in getting this groundbreaking initiative into action.

And third, support legislation to ensure Vermont gets 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by the end of the decade. With the passage of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, wind and solar power are cheaper than everk and price competitive with new natural gas. Vermont needs to do its part to clean up its electric sector and end our environmentally unjust practice of importing our power from oil- and natural gas–burning plants in low-income communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

I’m not saying it’s simple and easy, I understand firsthand the challenges rural Vermonters face in heating their homes and getting to work. But if we think transitioning to renewable heating and transportation is inconvenient or possibly a little more expensive, just look around at what we will be facing if we don’t.l Can we afford not to?


a“despite considerable opposition” — Actually, the considerable opposition was that he wasn’t draconian and dictatorial enough.

b“to address the underlying forces of climate change” — The earth revolves around the sun with a tilted axis, thus causing the seasons, and turns on that axis, thus causing day and night. These cause weather.

c“Vermont has seen a record heat wave in May” — And then it was over. We’re looking at a rather cool end of July and early August.

d“the state’s worst air quality in history in June” — Canadian forest fires, which we can hardly do anything about.

e“a record rainstorm” — Well, no, it wasn’t.

f“clearly the new normal” — If you were born yesterday.

g“We need Governor Scott to direct state agencies to recognize the climate emergency and treat climate action with the same emergency response and focus we are seeing right now during the floods, and that we did during Vermont’s Covid response.” — That “emergency response” to Covid was futile and harmful, as indeed is almost all of the “climate legislation” that the legislature has passed. In fact, Montpelier, along with other towns on rivers regularly floods and businesses bounce back. But they are only now recovering from that Covid response and don’t have the resilience and resources they would have otherwise.

h“transitioning to renewable energy” — From normal New England weather to CO₂ emissions as the culprit to renewable energy as the solution, this is a study in non sequitur. It is telling that as co-chair of the Legislature’s Climate Solution Caucus, she heard only people clamoring for what she is here clamoring for.

i“shift to an emergency response” — If everyone is already clamoring, it most certainly does not require an emergency response to force it on them. This “emergency response” is required precisely because people like to make their own decisions about how their homes are heated, weighing costs and benefits for their individual situation. Again, that “Covid emergency” was similarly imposed precisely to prevent people from making personal risk-benefit decisions, even to punish people for insisting on their right to make such decisions for themselves.

j“replace fossil fuels with renewable energy” — What is she talking about? She means replacing systems that burn fuel on site to provide warmth with electric space heaters. Granted, in Vermont, much of that electricity is from Canadian hydro, but the expanded demand of electric heat (and cars) will be provided by burning natural gas, converting a fraction of the released energy to electricity, transporting that electricity over powerlines at further loss, and then converting it back to heat. The inefficiency compared to burning fossil fuels on site is staggering, not to mention insanely bad policy.

Furthermore, every Vermonter knows that they need to be prepared for power outages, which can sometimes last for days. Depending on electricity for anything that you don’t have to is simply foolish. You will effectively be replacing efficient fossil-fuel systems with increased reliance on fossil fuel–powered back-up generators.

k“wind and solar power are cheaper than ever” — In fact, wind and solar are only getting more expensive. They completely depend on subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers to be built at all.

l“just look around at what we will be facing if we don’t” — And we close with the veiled threat, based on the false premises the whole essay started with. “We’ll make sure you can’t afford not to make the choices we make for you.”

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From The History of Athens Vermont, Lora Wyman, 1963:

«Freshets and floods occurred too frequently down the years to mention more than a sample of them. A few that did the most extensive damage to Athens were the freshet of Oct. 4, 1869; the great blizzard of Mar. 12, 1888; the floods of 1927, 1936; and the great hurricane of 1938. Practically all adults living today can remember the destruction caused by the hurricane of 1938. In Athens countless trees were blown down, the roof on Henry Ward’s milk house and one side of the barn were blown off. A small bridge near Camp Nai-neh-ta was washed away and abutments on others were weakened. About one-half mile of the main road to Cambridgeport, parallel with the brook above Brookside bungalow was washed away. Traffic was detoured around the road past the David Karlson farm. Two of Ned Wyman’s 10′ × 12′ chicken houses on the lower road, floated down stream, one lodging in a tangle of brush. Next morning, expecting to find the 50 or more chicks housed inside drowned, Mr. Wyman happily discovered them all perched on the roost above the water, waiting for breakfast.»

Also see: 1816: The Year Without a Summer