All posts tagged: turning point

Republicans Are No Longer a Political Party

Republicans Are No Longer a Political Party

When historians chronicle the end of the Grand Old Party, they may mark 2024 as the turning point. Something called the Republican Party will surely exist for years to come, like a legacy brand subsumed by a competitor, but it appears to be coming to its end as a functional party. Instead, the Republican Party has become just another subsidiary of Donald Trump Inc. Yesterday, Trump announced his effective takeover of the Republican National Committee, endorsing Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina GOP, as chair; his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as co-chair; and one of his top campaign advisers, Chris LaCivita, as chief operating officer. LaCivita will reportedly also remain with the Trump presidential campaign, splitting time. The current chair of the party, Ronna McDaniel, is stepping down because of pressure from Trump. Officially, these are only recommendations, but they seem nearly certain to become reality. Trump has long held de facto sway over the Republican National Committee, but these moves give him de jure control, too. The reorganization is especially striking because it …

Blinken’s Make-or-Break Tour of the Middle East

Blinken’s Make-or-Break Tour of the Middle East

The United States has probably never been under so much pressure to solve the problems of the Middle East. The war in Gaza threatens to spill across the region, and whether Washington can resolve, or even simply contain and de-escalate, the tensions surrounding it may well determine the future of American authority in the Middle East. Whatever the outcome, the current imbroglio is almost certain to mark a turning point for Washington’s role in the region. That’s why Secretary of State Antony Blinken has set out on a grand tour of American allies in the Middle East with a portfolio of interlocking diplomatic proposals. Blinken’s first objective, and that of U.S. policy more broadly, is to keep the current conflict essentially contained to Gaza, wind it down there, and use the opportunity to construct a more stable Middle East in the aftermath, on the bedrock of Israeli-Saudi relations and Palestinian statehood. But Washington will have a hard time selling this agenda to its adversaries—and an even harder time selling it to its Israeli friends. The …

SpaceX Is Holding Up America’s Lunar Ambitions

SpaceX Is Holding Up America’s Lunar Ambitions

The second liftoff of Starship, SpaceX’s giant new rocket-and-spaceship system, went beautifully this morning, the fire of the engines matching the orange glow of the sunrise in South Texas. The spaceship soared over the Gulf Coast, with all 33 engines in the rocket booster pulsing. High in the sky, the vehicles separated seamlessly—through a technique that SpaceX debuted during this flight—and employees let out wild cheers. The booster soon exploded, but the flight could survive that. What mattered was that Starship was still flying. It could still coast along the edge of space, and then plunge back to Earth, crashing into the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of Hawaii, as SpaceX planned. But then, as SpaceX mission control waited to hear a signal from Starship, there was only silence. Something had gone wrong after the ship shut off its engines in preparation to coast. The self-destruct system kicked in, and Starship blew itself up, according to SpaceX’s commentators, who were narrating the livestream. A “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” as SpaceXers call it. SpaceX can certainly …

Shawn Fain’s Old-Time Religion – The Atlantic

Shawn Fain’s Old-Time Religion – The Atlantic

There’s something sermonic about the speeches of Shawn Fain, the president of the currently striking United Auto Workers. Since autoworkers began targeted work stoppages following the expiration of their contract on September 15, Fain has regularly addressed the public—and his message has a uniquely moral cast. “I’ve been without,” he told me last month. “I’ve been on unemployment and been on government aid to get formula and diapers for my firstborn child. I mean, that’s when, to me, I leaned on my faith and leaned on God and turned to scripture for answers.” In a speech delivered in September, Fain, who has been the president of UAW for only a few months, explained that he’d decided to seek the union presidency not only out of practical motives, but also because of his deep faith. “One of the first things I do every day when I get up is I crack open my devotional for a daily reading, and I pray. Earlier this week, I was struck by the daily reading, which seemed to speak directly …

The Strange and Sudden Rise of ‘MAGA Bluey’

The Strange and Sudden Rise of ‘MAGA Bluey’

Samantha Speiller, of Round Rock, Texas, started watching Bluey with her young daughter in the early months of the pandemic. Two years later, by then a dedicated fan of the wise and beloved Australian cartoon, she joined a Facebook group for Bluey memes. Here was Bluey, the six-year-old dog and title character, looking exasperated and saying, “But I don’t want a life lesson! I just want an ice cream!” And there was Bandit, her beleaguered father-dog, drinking coffee at a table with a sign that reads, Bluey is a show for adults, disguised as a kid’s show. Change my mind. Speiller was not herself an active poster in the group, and saw only the memes from other people that happened to pop up in her News Feed. But at some point this past spring, Speiller noticed that the Facebook group, called “Bluey Memes????,” had taken on a different character. At first the change was subtle—a slow drift into the culture wars. One post from April shows Bluey at the park with Bandit, who is pointing …

The Pandemic Had a Silver Lining for Cypriot Cats

The Pandemic Had a Silver Lining for Cypriot Cats

Cyprus is home to 1 million or so free-roaming cats that wander its streets, parks, and even luxury resorts. They are about as numerous as people. So when a deadly cat outbreak began sweeping across the Mediterranean island this year, the humans quickly noticed something was terribly wrong. Stray and feral cats died by the thousands. Pet cats died, too. Their bellies became swollen like bowling balls, a symptom characteristic of the disease feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, that is almost 100 percent fatal left untreated. FIP is caused by a coronavirus that infects cats but not humans. (It is related to but distinct from SARS-CoV-2.) The disease can fester in small, indoor outbreaks, but it had never raced across an entire island, leaving thousands of dead outdoor cats in its path. In early 2023, lab-confirmed FIP cases in Cyprus shot up 20-fold. The unusualness of this outbreak frightened cat owners on the island and confounded veterinarians around the world. It seemed like something about FIP must have changed, but what? Had a new strain …

David Brooks: The New Old Age

David Brooks: The New Old Age

Anne Kenner worked for many years as a federal prosecutor, first in the Eastern District of New York, and then in the Northern District of California, trying mobsters and drug dealers. “I like the hairy edge,” she told me. Her job was meaningful to her; it made her feel useful. When she became disturbed by the powerlessness of some of the young people caught up in the system, she developed a curriculum to help students understand their rights if they came into contact with law enforcement: Here’s what to do if the police stop you; here’s what to do if a cop asks to look inside your backpack. A turning point in Kenner’s life came when she was in her 50s. Her brother, who had been troubled since childhood, shot and killed himself. They’d had a difficult relationship when they were kids, and she hadn’t spoken with him in 33 years. He had cut off almost all contact with her family decades earlier, as his life spiraled into reclusive paranoia. Still, she told me, his …