Wednesday, October 11th, 2023


Restraining Disorder

(Scheduling Note: NextDraft delivery will be sporadic this week.)

"The brutality of Hamas, this bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS … Stomach-turning reports of babies being killed; entire families slain; young people massacred while attending a musical festival to celebrate peace; women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies. In this moment it must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel … Our hearts may be broken but our resolve is clear." So said Joe Biden is a statement of strong support for Israel. One word common in such speeches that was missing from Tuesday's: Restraint. Why? In part because 22 Americans are now listed among the dead and in part because Biden has seen the images of the massacres that included the murder of whole families, rapes, beheadings, and mutilations of children and even babies. Of course, it comes as no surprise to Hamas that Israel will be unrestrained in its response. They didn't think this attack would result in the re-opening of peace talks. It's about killing. We can expect a lot more fighting, a lot more brutality, and lot more losses of life. Sadly, a majority of the deaths will be innocent civilians.

+ My sister has lived in Israel for decades and spent her entire adult life working for peace in the region. The missiles flying over her shelter didn't care about that. War is indiscriminate. Terrorism even more so. An American mom, 67, spent her life advocating for Palestinian rights. Then, Hamas came for her.

+ In WaPo (Gift Article) Yuval Noah Harari does an excellent job of explaining why no quarter can be given to those who committed the vile attacks over the weekend, but also provides some of the reasons why Israel, through policies and security failures, was left vulnerable. Some of the reasons why will sound all too familiar to Americans. The Hamas horror is also a lesson on the price of populism. "For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister. He has repeatedly preferred his personal interests over the national interest and has built his career on dividing the nation against itself. He has appointed people to key positions based on loyalty more than qualifications, took credit for every success while never taking responsibility for failures, and seemed to give little importance to either telling or hearing the truth. The coalition Netanyahu established in December 2022 has been by far the worst. It is an alliance of messianic zealots and shameless opportunists, who ignored Israel's many problems — including the deteriorating security situation — and focused instead on grabbing unlimited power for themselves." (Netanyahu was defending himself, not his country. You know the type.)

+ So far, US intelligence suggests Iran was surprised by the Hamas attack on Israel. Seems hard to believe the timing of this attack was unrelated to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Saudis. This from Tom Friedman in the NYT (Gift Article) is worth a read. "I believe one reason Hamas not only launched this assault now — but also seemingly ordered it to be as murderous as possible — was to trigger an Israeli overreaction, like an invasion of the Gaza Strip, that would lead to massive Palestinian civilian casualties and in that way force Saudi Arabia to back away from the U.S.-brokered deal now in discussion to promote normalization between Riyadh and the Jewish state." Israel Has Never Needed to Be Smarter Than in This Moment.

+ As power gets cut off to Gaza, hospitals there are at risk of turning into morgues. NYT: Gaza's largest hospital says it is running out of the fuel it needs to operate.

+ As I mentioned earlier, the politics of the story are easier to consider than the human element. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the hostages and children on both sides. The 'horrendous toll' on children caught in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

+ Sadly, we can expect things to get worse. The are reports of a new front opening as attacks are coming from Lebanon, Israel has formed a unity government, Gaza's main power plant has run out of fuel, a ground invasion of Gaza looks imminent. Here's the latest from CNN, AP, and BBC.


Jim Dandy

"Republicans on Wednesday nominated Rep. Steve Scalise to be the next House speaker and will now try to unite around the conservative in a floor vote to elect him after ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the post. In private balloting at the Capitol, House Republicans pushed aside Rep. Jim Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chairman, in favor of Scalise, the current majority leader, lawmakers said. The Louisiana lawmaker is seen as a hero to some after surviving a mass shooting on lawmakers at a congressional baseball game practice few years ago." Thankfully, Jim Jordan has been pushed aside. There's not much more to be thankful about. Hopefully, the GOP will get someone officially in the top spot so we can go back to functioning in the dysfunctional way to which we've grown accustomed. Tom Nichols in The Atlantic (Gift Article): The World Needs a Unified and Resolute America. (America needs that, too.)


School Punch

"Last school year, news reports identified more than 1,150 guns brought to K-12 campuses but seized before anyone fired them, according to an investigation by The Washington Post. That's more than six guns each day, on average. Nationwide, 1 in 47 school-age children — 1.1 million students — attended a school where at least one gun was found and reported on by the media in the 2022-2023 school year." I used to be a teacher in one of the more violent schools in Brooklyn. Schools are not particularly good at finding guns and other weapons. So keep in mind that these high numbers only refer to the weapons seized. WaPo (Gift Article): Guns are seized in U.S. schools each day. The numbers are soaring.


Shop Til You Drop a Dime

"As Linda, I am a mystery shopper—a euphemism for corporate spy. Mystery shopping companies, which serve as middlemen between mystery shoppers and retailers seeking to review customer service, contact me to evaluate employees. I time how fast they make hot chocolate, rate their enthusiasm while scheduling appointments, and verify if they mention specific cord-blood benefits." Kira Witkin in Esquire: I Got Paid to Spy on People While They Worked.


Extra, Extra

Judgment Call: "If Americans had heard of Leo at all, it was for his role in building the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court. He drew up the lists of potential justices that Donald Trump released during the 2016 campaign. He advised Trump on the nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Before that, he'd helped pick or confirm the court's three other conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But the guests who gathered that night under a tent in Leo's backyard included key players in a less-understood effort, one aimed at transforming the entire judiciary." ProPublica: We Don't Talk About Leonard: The Man Behind the Right's Supreme Court Supermajority.

+ Latest Spin: "Even doctors break down dizzy spells into a staggering number of mythic-sounding categories, many of which are poorly understood: labyrinthitis, mal de débarquement, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Ménière's disease, vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine. I left the neurologist's office with new words for my symptoms, but they didn't adequately clear up what was happening inside my body, or why. I had a pamphlet about migraines in my bag, but I felt haunted by all the questions it didn't answer." New Yorker: Why Dizziness Is Still a Mystery.

+ Follow the Money:Climate crisis costing $16m an hour in extreme weather damage.

+ Thems the Breakers: "Breaking has mostly faded from hip-hop's forefront in the United States, while achieving a modest popularity in countries including Japan, Australia and France thanks to demonstrations from originating dance crews and the popularity of TV dance competition shows. It has largely been left out of the giant block party commemorating hip-hop's 50th anniversary." Is it more or less hip now that it will be an Olympic event? NYT (Gift Article): Breakers Grapple With Hip-Hop's Big Olympic Moment.

+ Tim Keeps on Slipping: One of the sickest responses to the Hamas attack comes from Tim Scott who said, "Joe Biden has blood on his hands." Selling your soul for a hopeless presidential run is a sad path to wander down.

+ Sandal in the Wind: "Birkenstock's market debut comes nearly 250 years after it was founded by German cobbler Johann Adam Birkenstock. It remained under family control until 2021 when private equity powerhouse L Catterton acquired a majority stake." Birkenstock opens at $41 per share in market debut.


Bottom of the News

"Whether you consider bachelorette parties an occasion to splurge with friends, or a scourge tormenting America's most Instagrammable mid-size cities, one thing is true: They're big business .. And no business has benefited more than that most quintessential of bachelorette experiences: the party bus."

+ Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners show the beauty — and precarity — of nature