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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
October 9, 2023

Earth to Trumpers and all their enablers: This is what happens when you tear a country apart

Israelis Can No Longer Afford Vicious Infighting (gift link)

…Now many in Israel are asking, understandably, how did one of the best intelligence operations in the world fail to see the signs? One answer is that we tend to ignore details according to our preconception — which in this case was a misconception about what Hamas is and what its intentions really are. But this is just part of the story.

In the past five years, as Israel dissolved government after government and held divided election after divided election, and even more so in the past year since Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected prime minister, the nation has been busy tearing itself apart from within. The Jewish state seems to have forgotten its second role in the world, as a place that embodies the idea of Jewish solidarity. Israelis instead found themselves engaged in an all-out war — not against terrorists but against themselves.

Over the past nearly 40 weeks, as the battle over the judiciary overhaul surfaced, violently, old questions of identity and religious affiliation, as well as ethnicity, class and privilege, shook the populace. Is Israel more Jewish or more democratic? Many in Israel experienced real anxiety: The judiciary change, presented by the most right-wing government in the country’s history, seemed to threaten the liberal nature of their beloved country. They felt that they were fighting for the soul of the nation and that in this fight, all bets were off and nothing was sacred — including the once-untouchable idea of shirking reserve duty in the army. Despite the turmoil in the streets, the ruling coalition refused to accept the fact that with a slim majority, it could not enforce such big changes without consensus, plowing ahead with ever more anxiety-inducing policies day by day.

As a nation, Israelis acted as if we could afford the luxury of a vicious internal fight, the kind in which your political rival becomes your enemy. We let animosity, demagogy and the poisonous discourse of social media take over our society, rip apart the only Jewish army in the world. This is our tragedy. And it carries a lesson for other polarized democracies: There is someone out there waiting to gain from your self-made weakness. This someone is your enemy.

October 9, 2023

The multi-polar world is here, see if you like it better

The Global Context of the Hamas-Israel War (gift link)

…the world is in the midst of a transition to a new order that experts describe with the word multipolar. The United States is no longer the dominant power it once was, and no replacement has emerged. As a result, political leaders in many places feel emboldened to assert their own interests, believing the benefits of aggressive action may outweigh the costs. These leaders believe that they have more sway over their own region than the U.S. does. “A fully multipolar world has emerged, and people are belatedly realizing that multipolarity involves quite a bit of chaos,” Noah Smith wrote in his Substack newsletter on Saturday.

…Perhaps the biggest damage to American prestige has come from Donald Trump, who has rejected the very idea that the U.S. should lead the world. Trump withdrew from international agreements and disdained successful alliances like NATO. He has signaled that, if he reclaims the presidency in 2025, he may abandon Ukraine. In the case of Israel, Trump encouraged Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to show little concern for Palestinian interests and instead seek a maximal Israeli victory. Netanyahu, of course, did not start this new war. Hamas did, potentially with support from Iran, the group’s longtime backer, and Hamas committed shocking human rights violations this past weekend, captured on video. But Netanyahu’s extremism has contributed to the turmoil between Israel and Palestinian groups like Hamas…

…I understand that some readers may question whether the long era of American power that’s now fading was worth celebrating. Without question, it included some terrible injustices, be they in Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala or elsewhere. But it also made possible the most peaceful era in recorded history, with a sharp decline in deaths from violence, as Steven Pinker noted in his 2011 book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” And the number of people living in a democracy surged. Smith concluded his Substack newsletter on the new Middle Eastern war this way:

Over the past two decades it had become fashionable to lambast American hegemony, to speak derisively of “American exceptionalism,” to ridicule America’s self-arrogated function of “world police” and to yearn for a multipolar world. Well, congratulations, now we have that world. See if you like it better.

October 7, 2023

Ravel - Oiseaux Tristes (Sad Birds)

September 30, 2023

Jeff Stein/WaPo: White House signals support for House bill, optimistic on Ukraine aid

A White House official signaled administration support for the House bill, highlighting that the legislation averts deep cuts to domestic programs and includes disaster relief. The official also said the administration expects House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to soon bring another bill to the floor to support Ukraine. The official provided the statement on the condition of anonymity to describe a position not yet made public.

September 29, 2023

Where the New Identity Politics Went Wrong

Don’t let right-wing culture warriors obscure the fact that some ideas behind this progressive ideology have genuine problems.

By Yascha Mounk

In universities and newspapers, nonprofit organizations and even corporations, a new set of ideas about race, gender, and sexual orientation has gained huge influence. Attitudes to these ideas—which are commonly called “woke,” though I prefer a more neutral term, the “identity synthesis”—have split into two camps: those who blame them for all of America’s ills and those who defend them, largely uncritically.

…As the identity synthesis has gained in influence, its flaws have become harder to ignore. A striking number of progressive advocacy groups, for example, have been consumed by internal meltdowns in recent years. “We used to want to make the world a better place,” a leader of one progressive organization complained recently. “Now we just make our organizations more miserable to work at.” As institutions such as the Sierra Club and the ACLU have implemented the norms inspired by the identity synthesis, they have had more difficulty serving their primary missions.

…The identity synthesis is also starting to remake public policy in ways that are more likely to create a society of warring tribes. In the early months of the pandemic, for example, a key advisory committee to the CDC recommended that states prioritize essential workers in the rollout of scarce vaccines rather than the elderly, in part because “racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented” among seniors. Not only did this policy, according to the CDC’s own models, have the probable outcome of increasing the overall number of Americans who would perish in the pandemic; it also placed different ethnic groups in competition with one another for lifesaving medications.

When decision makers appear out of touch with the values and priorities of most citizens, demagogues thrive. The well-founded fears roused by the election of Trump accelerated the ascendancy of the identity synthesis in many elite institutions. Conversely, the newfound hold that these ideas now have over such institutions makes it more likely that he might win back the White House in 2024. The identity synthesis and far-right populism may at first glance appear to be polar opposites; in political practice, one is the yin to the other’s yang.

More at https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/09/woke-ideology-history-origins-flaws/675454/
September 20, 2023

Ex-Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson claims Rudy Giuliani groped her on January 6

Source: The Guardian

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former Trump aide turned crucial January 6 witness, says in a new book that she was groped by Rudy Giuliani, who was “like a wolf closing in on its prey”, on the day of the attack on the Capitol.

Describing meeting with Giuliani backstage at Donald Trump’s speech near the White House before his supporters marched on Congress in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, Hutchinson says the former New York mayor turned Trump lawyer put his hand “under my blazer, then my skirt”.

“I feel his frozen fingers trail up my thigh,” she writes. “He tilts his chin up. The whites of his eyes look jaundiced. My eyes dart to [Trump adviser] John Eastman, who flashes a leering grin. I fight against the tension in my muscles and recoil from Rudy’s grip … filled with rage, I storm through the tent, on yet another quest for Mark.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/sep/20/rudy-giuliani-grope-cassidy-hutchinson-claim-january-6-trump-aide?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

September 17, 2023

A Trip to Ukraine Clarified the Stakes. And They're Huge.

By Thomas Friedman

…Back in the early 1990s, I opposed NATO expansion after the fall of the Berlin Wall, because I thought our priority should be trying to nurture a democratic Russia. I don’t regret that for a second. Now, 30 years later, though, when the prospects for a democratic Russia feel utterly remote, I would gladly use NATO and the E.U. to nurture and secure a democratic Ukraine.

Because if Ukraine can escape this war — even if it has to temporarily cede some territory to Putin — and can complete the anti-corruption and other regulatory reforms that are required for it to join the European Union, the brainpower, agricultural power and military power that Ukraine represents would serve as an important model and magnet for Russians wanting a different future, not to mention other shaky Balkan states.

…Which is why, as much as I value NATO as a security alliance, I have never lost sight of how the European Union — which Americans tend to know little about — has managed to quietly build itself into its own kind of United States of Europe, another great center of free markets, free people democracy and the rule of law. To be sure, the E.U. has plenty of its own problems managing day to day. But considering Europe’s long history of fratricide, the E.U. is a quiet, boring miracle. Adding Ukraine to it would make it only stronger.

Indeed, as I’ve thought about what could be the most meaningful and painful punishment for Putin and his war crimes, I decided it would be for him to be sentenced to sit in the Kremlin for the rest of his life, hiding from coup plotters and having to look out at a Ukraine that is a secure and flourishing member of the single largest democratic, free market/free travel zone in the world — the E.U — while Putin’s citizens would be left with the freedom to vacation and invest in North Korea and Iran.

That would be Vladimir Putin’s nightmare. Our job is to help make it come true.

(Gift link) https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/15/opinion/ukraine-war-putin.html?unlocked_article_code=_shXNurOe-J5qx42jNmZw_c27LLzewm3ayHlLWSjNoVqsPQsBKICwIf-7N3SPpYazeF78nsy9Ir0Y4vZZAyRAgSG2GE8o-OL-0O0G0YquQ9W71DVSYnaUWktLyg84e7lPabKIMPdN_Efdzn7hE7RU40kGLiRRXRvbmYrO1dzmL1k4gvIfLmpJ2uDWSM_nMUHvGdJ3ZMlVsnwb_Nx8Q25A9V2didrXkevIs58w_VMqcvpTSN5KyMgF2d1kLAYhLxN5tHpABRcE3UVaodxyVdyG9MGXhwtgqCNvwGbBmCeAJNt0iRDrP3R2iws4JYDv3zbTL1tvKgRJfI3D_s&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

This is as good as it will ever get from Friedman. Highly recommend.
September 1, 2023

Joyce Vance FTW

On MSNBC just now re why Kemp is standing by Willis against the GA wingnuts who want to remove her from office:

“Gov. Kemp can read the writing on the wall. He knows that Donald Trump is about to get to the find-out portion of this little adventure.”

August 27, 2023

Narcissists who avoid treatment

Per Scientific American:

The unwillingness to seek therapy is especially true of “malignant narcissists,” who, in addition to the usual characteristics, exhibit antisocial and psychopathic features such as lying chronically or enjoying inflicting pain or suffering on others.

August 24, 2023

"Meaner, dumber, and wholly divorced from the issues Americans actually care about."

Jill Filipovic on where the Trump Effect has taken the Republican Party:

There have been many moments when Trump’s diminishing of the Republican party has become readily apparent, and this debate goes on the list. The party, and the candidates representing it, has become meaner, dumber, and wholly divorced from the issues Americans actually care about.

What did the Republican candidates identify as the problems plaguing America? Hunter Biden. Teachers’ unions. George-Soros-funded district attorneys. Critical race theory in schools and trans kids in locker rooms.

What did they shrug off? Climate change and the deadly disasters it has caused. Endemic gun violence that is now the leading killer of American children. The man who will likely beat them all for the Republican nomination being indicted for a slew of crimes.

This country is worse thanks to today’s Republican party, and today’s Republican party is among the worst aspects of this country. Over and over again, Republican politicians and conservative commentators talk about all of the ways in which life in America has deteriorated, how we are no longer as great as we once were. They often pin the blame on immigrants, feminists, racial justice activists, Democrats, and changing social mores. But if Americans really want to see a striking example of our national nosedive, they needn’t look further than at the ridiculous men (and one woman) on a Fox News stage tonight.


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