Sunday, September 8, 2019
Hurricane Dorian, which last weekend was still wreaking
unimaginable damage in the Bahamas while trudging slowly toward the
Florida coast (or, for one poor soul with a rigidly linear flat-Earth
imagination, Alabama), and a week later still exists, albeit downgraded
to to post-tropical cyclone status, as it threads the strait between
Newfoundland and Labrador, expected some time Monday to pass off the
south coast of Greenland. The eye never crossed land on the east coast
of the US, but came close enough to produce hurricane-force winds,
storm surges, and scattered tornadoes from Florida to North Carolina.
When it finally made landfall in Nova Scotia, it was still producing
Category 2 winds, and Category 1 as far north as Newfoundland. It is
officially tied with a 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane as the strongest
ever recorded in the Atlantic.
Since Dorian formed in the tropical Atlantic on
August 23, three more named storms have come and gone: Erin, which
formed over the Bahamas ahead of Dorian, proceeded northeast to Florida
then out into the Atlantic, eventually producing heavy rains in Nova
Scotia and New Brunswick; Fernand, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico
and landed in Mexico; and Gabrielle, which formed in the mid-Atlantic
and is now headed toward Ireland and Scotland. The Atlantic hurricane
season continues to November 30, with Humberto the next name.
The Atlantic put a paywall on their website this week, limiting
readers to 5 "free" articles per month, so I probably won't bother
with them any more. They've moved to the right over the past year
(although not especially toward Trump -- David Frum and Conor
Friedersdorf are regulars), which cuts down on their utility. My
wife subscribes to a bunch of things, and I take advantage of that,
but haven't added to her list myself. Back when we bought a lot of
magazines, I recall liking
Harper's more than Atlantic (at
least when Lewis Lapham was editor), but I haven't read them in ages.
Looks like they offer a better subscription deal than Atlantic.
My own website remains free in every sense of the word (including
free of advertising and pitches for money), so I feel entitled to my
high horse. Of course, I realize the need publications have to raise
money to continue operations, and I understand that it's generally
good for writers to get paid, especially for serious work. But I
also recognize that few people have the wherewithal (much less the
interest) to read everything of likely interest. In this world,
paywalls help balkanize public discourse, helping to herd us into
isolated, self-selected hives. This isn't a good system. Nor is
advertising a good answer. Nor do we have the political will to
support a development system that would make public goods (like,
but not limited to, news) universally accessible. But that's the
sort of solution we should be thinking about.
Some scattered links this week:
The Trump administration's sustained attack on the rights of immigrant
Dorian one of the strongest, longest-lasting hurricanes on record in
the Atlantic. Related: Bob Berwyn:
Why are hurricanes like Dorian stalling, and is global warming involved?
The secret files of the master of modern Republican gerrymandering:
Thomas Hofeller, who died in August 2018. Daley wrote Ratf**ked: The
True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy
The Electoral College was terrible from the start: "It's doubtful
even Alexander Hamilton believed what he was selling in "Federalist
The lost promise of Reconstruction: "Can we reanimate the dream of
freedom That Congress tried to enact in the wake of the Civil War?"
Foner has written much about the Civil War and Reconstruction over the
years. He has a new book: The Second Founding: How the Civil War
and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.
What if we stopped pretending: "The climate apocalypse is coming.
To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can't prevent it." I've
been thinking along these lines for a long time now (despite being
on the slow side in picking up on global warming). As an engineer,
I've always understood that it's a lot cheaper to prevent problems
than to have to fix them later, but I've also seen so much breakage
that I've had to put even more thought into repair, not least in
planning for future repairs. So while I've been reading about how
important it is to cut back greenhouse gas emissions, it's long
been clear to me that we need a parallel effort to cope with the
disasters we can't manage to prevent. One thing I had to give
Clinton credit for was elevating FEMA to cabinet level and making
sure it was well-managed and effective -- gains Bush's cronyism
reversed, most visibly with Katrina, a combination of ineptness
and corruption that Trump has only added to. There is much to be
said for competent, responsive government, even if it's not
competent enough to prevent problems from arising in the first
All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was
winnable. Once you accept that we've lost it, other kinds of action
take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees
is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe
heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In
times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism
and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best
defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning
democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities.
In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society
can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair
elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality
is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media
is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating
for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their
enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the
country of assault weapons -- these are all meaningful climate actions.
To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural
world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as
we can make it.
Other links at the bottom of the article: a 2015 piece by Franzen:
Climate change vs. conservation (original title: "Carbon Capture");
also Rachel Riederer:
The other kind of climate denialism. In December, 2018, she also wrote:
The not-so-uplifting year in the animal kingdom.
Why Steve King's supporters are staying loyal: "The Iowa Republican's
racist comments have made him a pariah among Democrats and Republicans
alike. Buth is voters may be more devoted to him than ever."
Julie Hirschfeld Davis/Michael D Shear:
Trump Administration considers a drastic cut in refugees allowed to
A summer of unprecedented brutality in Moscow. I don't doubt that
the repression has been severe, but "unprecedented"?
Trump campaign manager sees President's family as political 'dynasty'.
Alaska's sea ice completely melted for first time in recorded history.
The week in Brexit drama, explained. Related: Mark Landler:
Boris Johnson finds his party loyalists aren't as loyal as Trump's.
Eric Lipton/Annie Karni:
Checking in at Trump Hotels, for kinship (and maybe some sway): "To
ethics lawyers, the most extraordinary aspect of the daily merging of
President Trump's official duties and his commercial interests is that
it has now become almost routine."
Michael Mann/Andrew E Dessler:
Global heating made Hurricane Dorian bigger, wetter -- and more deadly.
"Unions for all": the new plan to save the American labor movement.
Sticks and stones break bones, but words hurt McConnell's feelings.
Follow-up to Milbank's
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset. I don't doubt that he's someone's
asset, but I doubt you'd have to look as far as Moscow. More on
Pompeo says US 'delivered' on mission in Afghanistan. As the tweet
that directed me to this exclaimed: "Unbelievably good news! We won!
Who knew?" For more on Pompeo, see: Richard Silverstein:
Pompeo: Israel's errand boy.
Charles P Pierce:
William Rivers Pitt:
Donald Trump is a category 5 liar.
Almost everything bad that Trump did this summer. Subhed says "Here's
what you missed," as opposed to what she missed -- that "almost" covers a
lot of ground. Related: Philip Rucker/Ashley Parker:
Trump's lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence
A beginner's guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change.
When is America going to end its shadow war on Somalia?
The problem of medical det, and the wonky fight behind Bernie Sanders's
plan to eliminate it, explained.
Lawmakers must empower unions to combat growing inequality in US.
The incredibly absurd Trump/CNN SharpieGate feud, explained. This
may be the ultimate preaching-to-the-choir story, a fairly minor gaffe
which developed legs only because Trump tripled down, reinforcing the
easiest of all Trump critiques: that he's a moron. Other Sharpiegate
Trump's plan to host the G-7 revives the issue of emoluments.
The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP.
The White Power movement from Reagan to Trump: Interview with Kathleen
Belew, who "explains the links among 'lone wolf' white supremacist attacks
like those in Charleston, Christchurch, and El Paso."
Robert Mugabe died too late: "Mugabe died yesterday in Singapore
at the age of 95, far from the country he first liberated from
white-minority rule, then laid waste to over a 37-year rule that
began brutally and ended in pathetic squalor." Related: Steven Gruzd:
Robert Mugabe's journey from freedom fighter to oppressor.
Elizabeth Warren blasts the plastic straw debate as a fossil fuel industry