I have been insufficiently pessimistic

Pandemic

Since coming to Pittsburgh, I’ve come to suspect that the over-the-top displays of patriotism, the flags, the guns, the ubiquitous memorials for veterans and war dead, which have made me wonder what folks are compensating for, are in fact white supremacist displays.[1] Here it is again, albeit outside Pittsburgh, as authoritarian populists again blur the distinction with paleoconservatism, protesting lockdowns and attacking Jews.[2] I have to wonder what the father in that Jewish family that runs my favorite vegan restaurant—it really is good—around here thinks now.[3]

Meanwhile, reading David Wallace-Wells,[4] it seems to me the headline attached to his article misleads: Though we might—I find this unduly optimistic—indeed be approaching a point where the lockdowns might ease, we are likely not even the tenth of the way the headline, but not the article, claims. And the capitalist god demands human sacrifice[5] and right-wingers are all too anxious to appease.[6]

This keeps being a story that keeps getting worse than I imagine. It’s not uncommon for me to be overly pessimistic. It’s unusual, but not rare, that I might be insufficiently pessimistic or cynical. But this pandemic has exposed me as insufficiently pessimistic repeatedly and that is truly something to behold.

Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-far-right-extremists-are-now-calling-social-distancing-a-nazi-policy/

David Wallace-Wells, “We Are Probably Only One-Tenth of the Way Through This Pandemic,” New York, April 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/; David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/; David Benfell, “An unhealthy relationship with guns,” Not Housebroken, January 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/01/an-unhealthy-relationship-with-guns/
  2. [2]Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-far-right-extremists-are-now-calling-social-distancing-a-nazi-policy/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/
  4. [4]David Wallace-Wells, “We Are Probably Only One-Tenth of the Way Through This Pandemic,” New York, April 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/
  6. [6]Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-far-right-extremists-are-now-calling-social-distancing-a-nazi-policy/

The morality of polarization makes an appearance in Israel

Israel

While the United Kingdom’s Balfour declaration, calling for creation of a Jewish homeland predates the Holocaust, little action, apart from mass Zionist purchases—they seem to have made generous offers—of Palestinian land, was taken until after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.[1] Accordingly, I hadn’t even questioned that Israel was founded in response to the Holocaust as the latest and most horrific in a series of pogroms that occurred over a period of centuries.[2]

Apparently, however, Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, given in 2009, connecting the Holocaust with the founding of Israel caused outrage because it was understood to have undermined the Zionist claim to indigenous status in Palestine,[3] a claim which is ridiculous given that nearly all residents of the region for thousands of years, at least, have had somewhat darker skin than the Ashkenazi Jews[4] who dominate Israeli politics, often discriminate even against darker-skinned Jews, and are often the most vocal Zionists. (Spare me your white Jesus bullshit. Just spare me.) This truly belongs in the same category with Rachel Dolezal, a white former college instructor who claimed to be Black.[5]

But now that U.S. Republicans are saying it rather than Obama, guess what? It’s all okay,[6] offering yet further evidence for my theory of the morality of polarization.[7]

Gotta tell you: It’s bad enough that a country founded as a political response to the Holocaust engages in genocide against Palestinians. Hypocrisy such as this is its own reason for the obliteration of Israel.

Ron Kampeas, “Linking Israel’s founding to Holocaust, once cause for outrage, is now accepted,” Times of Israel, January 15, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/linking-israels-founding-to-holocaust-once-cause-for-outrage-is-now-accepted/


  1. [1]David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Owl, 1989).
  2. [2]Avigail Abarbanel, “A change needs to come,” Electronic Intifada, May 26, 2008, http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9567.shtml; Albert Memmi, Portrait of a Jew, trans. Elisabeth Abbott (1962; repr., New York: Viking, 1971).
  3. [3]Ron Kampeas, “Linking Israel’s founding to Holocaust, once cause for outrage, is now accepted,” Times of Israel, January 15, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/linking-israels-founding-to-holocaust-once-cause-for-outrage-is-now-accepted/
  4. [4]Masha Kisel, “How does it feel to be white?” Times of Israel, November 29, 2019, https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/how-does-it-feel-to-be-white/
  5. [5]David A. Love, “Can Rachel Dolezal redeem herself as an ally?” Grio, June 14, 2015, http://thegrio.com/2015/06/14/can-rachel-dolezal-redeem-herself-as-an-ally/
  6. [6]Ron Kampeas, “Linking Israel’s founding to Holocaust, once cause for outrage, is now accepted,” Times of Israel, January 15, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/linking-israels-founding-to-holocaust-once-cause-for-outrage-is-now-accepted/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/; David Benfell, “The theory of the morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/23/the-theory-of-the-morality-of-polarization/

Violence

There are two new blog posts from December 28th:


Paleoconservatism

Faithful readers of my blog know that I’m finding signs of and hearing about a militia movement, which I think likely to be white supremacist, entirely too close to home in Pittsburgh.[1] I didn’t find this article in New York[2] until today on Apple News.

I honestly don’t know what to do. A large part of my problem is the sheer scale of gun nuttery in Pennsylvania and the fact that it is almost certainly connected to racism[3] frankly makes me hang my head in shame.

For me, even without a single shot being fired, this is violence. The violence is directed at Blacks but, in perceiving it, I feel again all the unfair violence I endured as a child[4] that has been exacerbated by my experience with the job market as an adult.[5] And I feel it again as I am subject to the aggressive driving of (mostly) young white men in testosterone trucks while driving for Uber and Lyft.[6]

Whites assert their power with impunity here and I recall all the violence waged with that same impunity against me. I am traumatized again.

Claudia Rankine with James D. Walsh, “This Is America,” New York, December 19, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/white-supremacy-terrorism-in-america-2019.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/; David Benfell, “The place where I live,” Not Housebroken, December 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/26/the-place-where-i-live/
  2. [2]Claudia Rankine with James D. Walsh, “This Is America,” New York, December 19, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/white-supremacy-terrorism-in-america-2019.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  4. [4]I was physically abused by my father, but also, I was relentlessly bullied by other children in school. I recognize the experience that C. J. Pascoe describes in Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School (Berkeley: University of California, 2007), in which boys enforce social conformity with the ‘fag’ epithet regardless of the victim’s sexual orientation, decades later, in another place, as if it were my own.
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh-driving-for-the-uninitiated/

Dementius, J.D.

Government

There is a new blog post entitled, “Encouraging the good.”

George Monbiot, “Rewilding Politics,” Guardian, December 23, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/12/23/rewilding-politics/


Donald Trump

Ain’t Rudy Giuliani a piece of work? It gets even richer if you read the New York story by Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,”[1] that the Washington Post story is largely based on.[2]

I suppose that Amerikkkans deserve to know who is representing them and in what capacity, but it seems to me Nuzzi’s reporting approaches an ethical boundary. Details such as the saliva dripping from the corner of Rudy Giuliani’s mouth onto his sweater, the unzipped fly, the stumble against the wall,[3] and his claim to be “more of a Jew than [George] Soros [a Holocaust survivor] is”[4] combine to paint an unflattering portrait of a man not in command of his faculties. As I see more in life, I begin to associate paranoid rambling, as with Giuliani’s ranting about George Soros (a favorite authoritarian populist bogeyman),[5] in older people with dementia.

My mother would undoubtedly remind me that it’s an old tradition among reporters, of whom a very old archetype is scarcely better, to let their subjects get drunk and spill their beans. But is an obviously drunk and possibly demented Giuliani really competent to consent to such an interview on the record?

Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,” New York, December 23, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/a-conversation-with-rudy-giuliani-over-bloody-marys.html

Michael Brice-Saddler, “Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic, says he is ‘more of a Jew’ than George Soros, who survived the Holocaust,” Washington Post, December 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/23/rudy-giuliani-says-he-is-more-jew-than-george-soros-who-survived-holocaust/

Jerusalem Online, “Rudy Giuliani: I’m More of A Jew than Holocaust Survivor,” December 24, 2019, https://www.jerusalemonline.com/rudy-giuliani-im-more-of-a-jew-than-holocaust-survivor/


  1. [1]Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,” New York, December 23, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/a-conversation-with-rudy-giuliani-over-bloody-marys.html
  2. [2]Michael Brice-Saddler, “Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic, says he is ‘more of a Jew’ than George Soros, who survived the Holocaust,” Washington Post, December 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/23/rudy-giuliani-says-he-is-more-jew-than-george-soros-who-survived-holocaust/
  3. [3]Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,” New York, December 23, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/a-conversation-with-rudy-giuliani-over-bloody-marys.html
  4. [4]Rudy Giuliani, quoted in Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,” New York, December 23, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/a-conversation-with-rudy-giuliani-over-bloody-marys.html
  5. [5]Olivia Nuzzi, “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel,” New York, December 23, 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/a-conversation-with-rudy-giuliani-over-bloody-marys.html

Gavin Newsom might not think what you think he thinks

Pacific Gas and Electric

My guess is that this is not what Gavin Newsom, who has, on balance, been governing as a progressive, means:

PG&E had been on the defensive for months after a group of bondholders made their own alliance with wildfire victims and mounted a hostile takeover bid for the utility. The bondholders, led by Wall Street hedge fund Elliott Management, insisted their takeover plan is still better for California and said PG&E’s proposal would burden the company with billions in new debt.

With Newsom rejecting PG&E’s plan, the bondholders’ effort gets new life.[1]

I’m thinking more along the lines of,

“Nothing I can think of says, ‘screw the public interest’ like a hedge fund-owned public utility,” [Dave] King said.[2]

Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html


Cenk Uygur

There is a new blog post entitled, “Bernie Sanders should not have endorsed Cenk Uygur in the first place.” This is the first of two new posts today.

Michael Finnegan, “Bernie Sanders retracts endorsement of Californian who defends crude sex ratings of women,” Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-12-12/bernie-sanders-endorses-cenk-uygur-young-turks


Anti-Semitism

A self-identifying Zionist affirms a right to criticize Zionism, criticizing the order that Donald Trump issued[3] earlier this week.[4]

Kenneth Stern, “I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect


The Left

There is another new blog post entitled, “On lessons to be learned.”

David Adler, “What the U.S. Left Can Learn From the Labour Party’s Epic Loss,” In These Times, December 13, 2019, http://inthesetimes.com/article/22220/labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-boris-johnson-uk-brexit-bernie-sanders-left

John Cassidy, “What Are the Real Lessons of the U.K. Election for 2020?” New Yorker, December 14, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-are-the-real-lessons-of-the-uk-election-for-2020


Donald Trump

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation,” Washington Post, December 13, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-will-take-up-trumps-broad-claims-of-protection-from-investigation/2019/12/13/1de84cd6-1d19-11ea-8d58-5ac3600967a1_story.html


  1. [1]Dale Kasler, “Gavin Newsom rejects PG&E bankruptcy plan, demands ‘radically restructured’ CA utility,” Sacramento Bee, December 13, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238350708.html
  2. [2]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  3. [3]Kenneth Stern, “I drafted the definition of antisemitism. Rightwing Jews are weaponizing it,” Guardian, December 13, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect
  4. [4]Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/; Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html

Don’t you dare call Israel racist! Or the Burmese genocidal!

Anti-Semitism

So a White House official confirmed to CNN that Donald Trump was about to sign an order declaring Judaism a nationality. That appears to be inaccurate,[1] but it sure kicked off a fuss.

That said, the order relies on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”[4] Which is to say that Israel may engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians, but we can’t call it racist.

Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/

Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html


Israel

Ruth Eglash, “Israel heading for third election in less than a year after politicians fail to form government,” Washington Post, December 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israel-heading-for-third-election-in-less-than-a-year-after-politicians-fail-to-form-government/2019/12/11/d9d4818a-1ac6-11ea-977a-15a6710ed6da_story.html


Amazon

Danny Fortson, “Is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon now the ‘evil face of capitalism’?” Times, December 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/is-jeff-bezoss-amazon-now-the-evil-face-of-capitalism-3lxjs0k0n


Rohingya

Aung San Suu Kyi will need to do better than this. Even if she is correct in blaming “the separatist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” for “forc[ing] Myanmar [Burmese] forces to respond,” “mass executions, sexual violence and arson”[5] are war crimes. Executed on the scale Burma is accused of and especially at a largely noncombatant population, they amount to genocide.

The one point that she might have is that international courts do indeed try claims almost exclusively against small, poor countries.[6] But “selective prosecution” is a weak defense against crimes against humanity.

Note that until a relatively legitimate government, which has not existed there in a very long time,[7] exists to assert the name “Myanmar,” I will continue to refer to the country by its admittedly colonial name, “Burma.”

As to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Rohingya generally, they appear not to be separatist at all but rather, according to C. Christine Fair, seek only “to return to Myanmar with citizenship and, problematically, with government recognition as a distinct ethnic group.” Crimes against the Rohingya, including land confiscation, concentration camps, forced labor, and arbitrary taxation, appear to precede the ARSA by decades,[8] entirely undermining Aung San Suu Kyi’s argument.

So my message to the Nobel laureate is this: Get over yourself, you lying bitch.

Clyde Hughes, “Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejects genocide claims,” United Press International, December 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/12/11/Myanmar-leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-rejects-genocide-claims/1061576065233/

Marlise Simons and Hannah Beech, “Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Rohingya Genocide Accusations,” New York Times, December 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/world/asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-myanmar-genocide-hague.html


  1. [1]Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/; Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html
  2. [2]Jamal Dajani (@JamalDajani), Twitter, December 10, 2019, 8:49 pm, https://twitter.com/JamalDajani/status/1204578922702069760
  3. [3]Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA), Twitter, December 11, 2019, 9:20 pm, https://twitter.com/RWPUSA/status/1204586619057115136
  4. [4]International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, quoted in Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/
  5. [5]Clyde Hughes, “Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejects genocide claims,” United Press International, December 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/12/11/Myanmar-leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-rejects-genocide-claims/1061576065233/
  6. [6]Marlise Simons and Hannah Beech, “Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Rohingya Genocide Accusations,” New York Times, December 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/world/asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-myanmar-genocide-hague.html
  7. [7]Lawrence James seems not to specify when, precisely, Burma fell under sway of the British empire in The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994) but notes campaigns were fought there in 1824 and 1853.
  8. [8]C. Christine Fair, “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army: Not the Jihadis You Might Expect,” Lawfare, December 9, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/arakan-rohingya-salvation-army-not-jihadis-you-might-expect

Anti-Semites for Israel

Donald Trump

Donald Trump again used a trope of Jews and money, suggesting that they’d have no choice but to vote for him because Elizabeth Warren would take their money away.[1]

Eric Cortellessa, “Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough,” Times of Israel, December 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-tells-jewish-group-theyll-vote-for-him-to-protect-their-wealth/


  1. [1]Eric Cortellessa, “Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough,” Times of Israel, December 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-tells-jewish-group-theyll-vote-for-him-to-protect-their-wealth/

Revelation! I am not white. This explains everything!

aVK6jq25mnbRQsqHWxaJsswIS4Z69Inc
Fig. 1. Comic by Matt Pritchett of the Telegraph, via his newsletter, otherwise unpublished, December 1, 2019.


Appalachia

Sam Adler-Bell, “Appalachia vs. the Carceral State,” New Republic, November 25, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/155660/appalachia-coal-mining-mountaintop-removal-prison-fight


Racism

Never mind that I am ethnically British, German, and a little French, or that I have pale skin. Or that my heritage is, regrettably, Christian and, even more regrettably, Mormon. Or that I drive down the roads of the Pittsburgh area with very little fear of police even when I’m on my way to district courts where it seems I only pick up Black men in trouble with their drivers’ licenses. It seems none of that matters.

By the logic that I am denied access to certain resources, like a real fucking job,[1] it seems I’m at least as non-white as Ashkenazi Jews.[2] I’m pretty sure my mother will find this news astonishing.

Or maybe Ashkenazi Jews can stop reifying white supremacist bullshit. For fuck’s sake.

Masha Kisel, “How does it feel to be white?” Times of Israel, November 29, 2019, https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/how-does-it-feel-to-be-white/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [2]Masha Kisel, “How does it feel to be white?” Times of Israel, November 29, 2019, https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/how-does-it-feel-to-be-white/

The anti-Semitism lie against the Labour Party in the United Kingdom

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 27, 6:32 pm.
  2. November 27, 9:49 pm:
    • Donald Trump signed the bill supporting Hong Kong protesters[1] that had passed both houses of Congress with “veto-proof” majorities, but which he had nonetheless threatened to veto.[2] In a signing statement, Trump threatened to pick and choose which parts of the law he will comply with.[3]

Anti-semitism

The British general election campaign is proving very, very ugly, pretty much no matter what side you’re on. Among the ugliness is the resurrection of allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, notably in an op-ed published in the Times.[4]

As near as I can determine, these allegations are utterly unsubstantiated, and likely result from the Labour Party’s occasional sympathy with the Palestinian cause.[5] Honestly, if libel laws in the U.K. weren’t so lax, I’d say there should be some lawsuits. And yeah, Ephraim Mirvis’ op-ed is more of the same fucking bullshit.[6] Read it and see for yourself, because—it’s amazing—this is as much substance as we ever see to these allegations.

Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk


Koalas

Natasha Daly, “No, koalas aren’t ‘functionally extinct’—yet,” National Geographic, November 25, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/11/koalas-near-extinction-myth-australia-fires/


Bolivia

Marjorie Cohn keeps being right. I expect she is this time, too.[7]

Marjorie Cohn, “US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia,” Truthout, November 27, 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/us-is-again-complicit-in-an-illegal-coup-this-time-in-bolivia/


Hong Kong

Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html


  1. [1]Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html
  2. [2]David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/
  3. [3]Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html
  4. [4]Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk
  5. [5]Wikipedia, s.v. “Antisemitism in the UK Labour Party,” last modified November 27, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_UK_Labour_Party
  6. [6]Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk
  7. [7]Marjorie Cohn, “US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia,” Truthout, November 27, 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/us-is-again-complicit-in-an-illegal-coup-this-time-in-bolivia/

Colonization and a potential pogrom

Hong Kong

Tseng Yat-yiu et al., “Hong Kong District Elections Could Gauge Support For Protest Movement,” Global Security, November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2019/china-191122-rfa01.htm


Pittsburgh

So I saw this (figure 1):
IMG_0053
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 22, 2019.

And I wrote a new blog entry entitled, “Militia territory.” My mother responded with a bunch of links[1] confirming and expanding many of my worst previously expressed fears and what my passengers have told me about racism in Pittsburgh.[2] These links don’t quite get to the militia issue but they come close, much too close for comfort, and close enough that they lay a groundwork for at least the plausibility of militias in this area, if not their likelihood.

On a more personal note, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter lived “in a neighborhood dotted with mostly small to medium brick homes, about a 25-minute drive south of Pittsburgh in the suburb of Baldwin Borough,”[3] which is the municipality where I now live. Baldwin is a fairly large place, reaching nearly down to the Monongahela River, with a few apartment buildings so it isn’t necessarily the complex I live in. But the one I live in is probably the largest, so place your bets.

If indeed a race war[4] of the shooting sort breaks out,[5] it very much appears that the part of Pittsburgh I live in could become a combat zone. To my knowledge, however, Blacks are mostly unarmed. I think the gun nuttery I see is largely a white phenomenon. So “war” is probably the wrong word for it. We’ll be looking at a pogrom.

I feel completely helpless to stop it and, after what I saw that one day,[6] I’m pretty sure I can count on the police to stand aside and laugh.

The question, then, is, just how likely is such a scenario?


Chagos Islands

Global Security, “‘Illegal colonial occupier’: Mauritius blasts UK as it skips UN deadline to return Chagos Islands housing US airbase,” November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/uk/2019/uk-191122-rt01.htm


Israel

Times of Israel, “TV report says top Likud leaders working behind the scenes to oust Netanyahu,” November 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-says-top-likud-leaders-working-behind-scenes-to-oust-netanyahu/


  1. [1]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/racism-black-burnout-in-pittsburgh-journalism.php; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  4. [4]Kathleen Parker, “Trump has essentially declared a ‘race war,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-essentially-declared-a-race-war/2019/07/30/ad6ae554-b305-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  5. [5]Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/