Vladimir Putin may be near the end of his reign, but that end is unlikely to be today

Western neo-fascism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE


It is time for me to confess an error. While I have viewed white Christian nationalism, formerly Trumpism, a unification of the disparate tendencies of conservatism I identified in my dissertation with quite some alarm,[24] I have paid somewhat less attention to a larger political ecosystem which includes European far right movements as well as the Gilead project in the U.S. that have aimed for, and in some cases, established competitive authoritarian regimes, effectively locking out all opposition from power. While a number of authors have given this development its due, Ishaan Tharoor has been outstanding.[25]

This page is my attempt to catch up. It is missing much, particularly with Marine Le Pen in France, but I hope to remedy this over time. It is not that I had not heard of the rise of these political parties and their politicians. I have long been aware of Germany’s efforts to expunge extremism and especially Nazism. But I have been in denial, trusting that mainstream politicians would confine extremism to the fringes. That hope is no longer tenable.[26]

It is also possible to argue that I continue to err in failing to include such figures as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India, and the now-retired Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. My time is limited and I am trying to contain my scope.

I remain optimistic for now about the situation in the U.S. I think Republicans may well be headed for a historic defeat this November.[27] But such a moment clearly has yet to arrive in Europe,[28] even if Giorgia Meloni’s victory in Italy may not quite be all it appears[29] and Le Pen came up short in France.[30] While Vladimir Putin may be losing his gamble in U.S. politics, he may be winning it in Europe and so I remain deeply concerned for Ukraine.[31]

Michael Crowley, “Italy’s Hard-Right Lurch Raises New Concerns in Washington,” New York Times, September 26, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/26/us/politics/italy-election-biden.html

Yascha Mounk, “Italians Didn’t Exactly Vote for Fascism,” Atlantic, September 26, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/italy-election-far-right-winner-giorgia-meloni-fascism/671556/

Ishaan Tharoor, “The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/27/mainstreaming-wests-far-right-is-complete/


Gilead

Competitive authoritarian regime project


Fig. 2. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Clarence Mitchell during signing ceremony of the voting rights act. Yoichi Okamoto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“You do not have to have emergency powers or a military coup for democracy to wither,” Aziz Huq, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Chicago, told me [Andrew Marantz]. “Most recent cases of backsliding, Hungary being a classic example, have occurred through legal means.” [Viktor] Orbán runs for reëlection every four years. In theory, there is a chance that he could lose. In practice, he has so thoroughly rigged the system that his grip on power is virtually assured. The political-science term for this is “competitive authoritarianism.” Most scholarly books about democratic backsliding (“The New Despotism,” “Democracy Rules,” “How Democracies Die”) cite Hungary, along with Brazil and Turkey, as countries that were consolidated democracies, for a while, before they started turning back the clock.[32]

Mathew Ingram, “The social-media platforms, the ‘Big Lie,’ and the coming elections,” Columbia Journalism Review, September 27, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/the-social-media-platforms-the-big-lie-and-the-coming-elections.php


Inquiry

Quantitative

Surveys


Fig. 3. Graph showing the deterioration of response rates by the Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, fair use.[33]

Perry Bacon, Jr., does not address[34] that when the response rate, which should be ninety percent of a representative sample or more,[35] is instead in the single digits,[36] pollsters have a self-selecting sample that cannot represent non-respondents, particularly when, due to non-response, we have no idea, none whatsoever, how members of that self-selecting sample differ from all those non-respondents. This completely invalidates the methodology and I don’t care what rhetoric pollsters deploy to excuse themselves—the claim that polling works regardless[37] is belied by all the instances in which it doesn’t[38]—or what statistical magic they think they can employ to get around this problem—an absence of data remains an absence of data. This is a non-methodology that persists because we are desperate for an imaginary certainty of numbers,[39] and because people have built entire careers around this non-methodology.

No one addresses this point. Because to do so would be to admit that they are fundamentally full of shit.

Perry Bacon, Jr., “Polls are useful. They just can’t predict elections in swing states,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/27/polls-accuracy-midterm-elections-perry-bacon/


Ukraine


Fig. 4. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[40] fair use.

Anatol Lieven and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft were wrong to favor Ukrainian capitulation to Russia in January.[41]

That said, it is interesting that Lieven thinks Vladimir Putin’s regime may be at an end. What he now wants is to save face for a successor regime by giving them something they can paint as victory.[42] I’m not fond of solving Russian political problems at Ukraine’s further expense: Ukraine has already paid a very high price.

There’s good reason to suspect that Putin may not long remain in power,[43] and there certainly is public unrest and an awful lot of draft resistance,[44] but frankly, I expect to see a lot more heat and smoke before Putin goes down. Lieven’s argument here is that this is not what happened when Boris Yeltsin capitulated to Putin,[45] but Putin is not Yeltsin, not by any stretch.

Lieven’s Quincy Institute misjudged Ukraine’s prospects at the beginning of the war.[46] I honestly have no idea why we should trust their judgment now.

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres

Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/

Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/

Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea

Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up

David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, “With Kalashnikov rifles, Russia drives the staged vote in Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/24/ukraine-putin-referendums/

Robyn Dixon et al., “Russian mobilization prompts backlash as Ukraine annexation effort plows ahead,” Washington Post, September 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/25/russia-ukraine-mobilization-referendums/

Edward Helmore, “Jake Sullivan: US will act ‘decisively’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, September 25, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/25/us-russia-ukraine-war-nuclear-weapons-jake-sullivan

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Pushing East of Kupyansk, Ukrainian Forces Expand Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pushing-east-of-kupyansk-ukrainian-forces-expand-offensive-11664111037

Ishaan Tharoor, “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/26/ukraine-west-right-wing-fatigue-italy/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Male Fragility,” Puck News, September 27, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-male-fragility/

Anatol Lieven, “Putin’s regime may fall – but what would come next?” Guardian, September 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/27/putin-regime-fall-ukraine-west-negotiate


  1. [24]David Benfell, “I cannot yet tell you my 2024 forecast was wrong,” Not Housebroken, September 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/13/i-cannot-yet-tell-you-my-2024-forecast-was-wrong/; David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, September 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  2. [25]Zack Beauchamp, “Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian,” Vox, April 28, 2022, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/4/28/23037788/ron-desantis-florida-viktor-orban-hungary-right-authoritarian; David Broder, “The Future Is Italy, and It’s Bleak,” New York Times, July 22, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/22/opinion/italy-draghi-meloni-government.html; Roger Cohen, “Emmanuel Macron Defeats Marine Le Pen for Second Term as French President,” New York Times, April 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/24/world/europe/french-election-results-macron-le-pen.html; Yascha Mounk, “Italians Didn’t Exactly Vote for Fascism,” Atlantic, September 26, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/italy-election-far-right-winner-giorgia-meloni-fascism/671556/; Jennifer Rankin, “ECJ dismisses Hungary and Poland’s complaints over rule-of-law measure,” Guardian, February 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/feb/16/ecj-dismisses-hungary-poland-complaints-eu-rule-of-law-measure; Zsuzsanna Szelényi, “How Viktor Orbán Built His Illiberal State,” New Republic, April 5, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165953/viktor-orban-built-illiberal-state; Ishaan Tharoor, “U.S. conservatives yearn for Orban’s Hungary,” Washington Post, August 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/08/04/american-conservatives-orban-hungary/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: The U.S. right walks in Hungary’s path,” Washington Post, May 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/17/viktor-orban-american-right-illiberal-orbanization/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: Florida shadows Hungary’s war on LGBTQ rights,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/cpac-hungary-lgbtq-orban-florida-desantis/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: How to capture a democracy,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/orban-democracy-trump-united-states-elections-hungary/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Italy is on its way to being run by ‘post-fascists,’” Washington Post, July 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/26/italy-meloni-post-fascists/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Orban at CPAC brings the ‘far-right international’ into focus,” Washington Post, August 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/08/04/orban-hungary-far-right-international-cpac-conservative/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Sweden’s election marks a new far-right surge in Europe,” Washington Post, September 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/16/sweden-election-far-right-democrats/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/27/mainstreaming-wests-far-right-is-complete/
  3. [26]Ishaan Tharoor, “The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/27/mainstreaming-wests-far-right-is-complete/
  4. [27]David Benfell, “Spring in November?” Not Housebroken, September 26, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/19/spring-in-november/
  5. [28]Ishaan Tharoor, “The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/27/mainstreaming-wests-far-right-is-complete/
  6. [29]Yascha Mounk, “Italians Didn’t Exactly Vote for Fascism,” Atlantic, September 26, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/italy-election-far-right-winner-giorgia-meloni-fascism/671556/
  7. [30]Roger Cohen, “Emmanuel Macron Defeats Marine Le Pen for Second Term as French President,” New York Times, April 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/24/world/europe/french-election-results-macron-le-pen.html
  8. [31]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s [T/t]rump card,” Not Housebroken, September 26, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/05/21/vladimir-putins-t-trump-card/
  9. [32]Andrew Marantz, “Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future?” New Yorker, June 27, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/07/04/does-hungary-offer-a-glimpse-of-our-authoritarian-future
  10. [33]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  11. [34]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Polls are useful. They just can’t predict elections in swing states,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/27/polls-accuracy-midterm-elections-perry-bacon/
  12. [35]This according to Valerie Sue, the professor in my first research methods class, at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay), Fall 2003.
  13. [36]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409; Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  14. [37]Steven Shepard, “Report: Phone polls aren’t dead yet,” Politico, May 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/pollsters-phone-polls-238409; Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  15. [38]Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html; David Byler, “Polling is broken. No one knows how to fix it,” Washington Post, July 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/22/polling-is-broken-no-one-knows-how-fix-it/; Mona Chalabi, “The pollsters were wrong – again. Here’s what we know so far,” Guardian, November 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/nov/04/the-pollsters-were-wrong-again-heres-what-we-know-so-far; David A. Graham, “The Polling Crisis Is a Catastrophe for American Democracy,” Atlantic, November 4, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/polling-catastrophe/616986/; Steven Shepard, “Dem pollsters acknowledge ‘major errors’ in 2020 polling,” Politico, April 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/13/dems-polling-failure-481044
  16. [39]Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, John Wilkinson, trans. (New York: Vintage, 1964).; Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York: Vintage, 1993).
  17. [40]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  18. [41]Anatol Lieven, “Diplomats & experts: negotiate, or expect ‘drastic escalation’ by Russia,” Responsible Statecraft, January 20, 2022, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/01/20/diplomats-experts-negotiate-or-expect-drastic-escalation-by-russia/
  19. [42]Anatol Lieven, “Putin’s regime may fall – but what would come next?” Guardian, September 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/27/putin-regime-fall-ukraine-west-negotiate
  20. [43]Julia Ioffe, “Fear and Loathing in Moscow,” Puck News, September 13, 2022, https://puck.news/fear-and-loathing-in-moscow/
  21. [44]Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea; Robyn Dixon et al., “Russian mobilization prompts backlash as Ukraine annexation effort plows ahead,” Washington Post, September 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/25/russia-ukraine-mobilization-referendums/; Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/; Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Male Fragility,” Puck News, September 27, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-male-fragility/; Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/; Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up
  22. [45]Anatol Lieven, “Putin’s regime may fall – but what would come next?” Guardian, September 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/27/putin-regime-fall-ukraine-west-negotiate
  23. [46]Anatol Lieven, “Diplomats & experts: negotiate, or expect ‘drastic escalation’ by Russia,” Responsible Statecraft, January 20, 2022, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/01/20/diplomats-experts-negotiate-or-expect-drastic-escalation-by-russia/

U.S. conservatives yearn for Orban’s Hungary

Western neo-fascism


Fig. 1. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

See also:

Ishaan Tharoor, “U.S. conservatives yearn for Orban’s Hungary,” Washington Post, August 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/08/04/american-conservatives-orban-hungary/

Jennifer Rankin, “ECJ dismisses Hungary and Poland’s complaints over rule-of-law measure,” Guardian, February 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/feb/16/ecj-dismisses-hungary-poland-complaints-eu-rule-of-law-measure

Zsuzsanna Szelényi, “How Viktor Orbán Built His Illiberal State,” New Republic, April 5, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165953/viktor-orban-built-illiberal-state

Roger Cohen, “Emmanuel Macron Defeats Marine Le Pen for Second Term as French President,” New York Times, April 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/24/world/europe/french-election-results-macron-le-pen.html

Zack Beauchamp, “Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian,” Vox, April 28, 2022, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/4/28/23037788/ron-desantis-florida-viktor-orban-hungary-right-authoritarian

Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: The U.S. right walks in Hungary’s path,” Washington Post, May 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/17/viktor-orban-american-right-illiberal-orbanization/

Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: Florida shadows Hungary’s war on LGBTQ rights,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/cpac-hungary-lgbtq-orban-florida-desantis/

Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: How to capture a democracy,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/orban-democracy-trump-united-states-elections-hungary/

David Broder, “The Future Is Italy, and It’s Bleak,” New York Times, July 22, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/22/opinion/italy-draghi-meloni-government.html

Ishaan Tharoor, “Italy is on its way to being run by ‘post-fascists,’” Washington Post, July 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/26/italy-meloni-post-fascists/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Orban at CPAC brings the ‘far-right international’ into focus,” Washington Post, August 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/08/04/orban-hungary-far-right-international-cpac-conservative/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Sweden’s election marks a new far-right surge in Europe,” Washington Post, September 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/16/sweden-election-far-right-democrats/

Michael Crowley, “Italy’s Hard-Right Lurch Raises New Concerns in Washington,” New York Times, September 26, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/26/us/politics/italy-election-biden.html

Yascha Mounk, “Italians Didn’t Exactly Vote for Fascism,” Atlantic, September 26, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/italy-election-far-right-winner-giorgia-meloni-fascism/671556/

Van Badham, “The election of Italy’s fascist-adjacent Giorgia Meloni is a public reminder that women can be just as awful as men,” Guardian, September 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/27/the-election-of-italys-fascist-adjacent-giorgia-meloni-is-a-public-reminder-that-women-can-be-just-as-awful-as-men

Ishaan Tharoor, “The mainstreaming of the West’s far right is complete,” Washington Post, September 27, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/27/mainstreaming-wests-far-right-is-complete/

One of Vladimir Putin’s gambles may be about to pay off

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “The atomic cloud over Nagasaki 1945.” Photograph from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch, New York Office, News and Features Bureau, (12/17/1942 – 09/15/1945), by Charles Levy, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It seems it isn’t just Russia that can rattle a nuclear sabre:[1]

We have communicated directly, privately and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail.[2]

But with extreme right-wing parties’ electoral gains in Sweden and Italy,[3] Vladimir Putin’s gamble that western conservatives would undermine support for Ukraine[4] may be about to pay off. At least some Republicans in the U.S. would cut aid to Ukraine[5] but with Donald Trump’s legal troubles undermining Republicans’ formerly rosy electoral prospects,[6] I’m now skeptical they’ll get the chance.[7] The balance of power in Europe, however, may be swinging against Ukraine.[8]

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres

Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/

Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/

Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea

Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up

David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, “With Kalashnikov rifles, Russia drives the staged vote in Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/24/ukraine-putin-referendums/

Robyn Dixon et al., “Russian mobilization prompts backlash as Ukraine annexation effort plows ahead,” Washington Post, September 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/25/russia-ukraine-mobilization-referendums/

Edward Helmore, “Jake Sullivan: US will act ‘decisively’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, September 25, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/25/us-russia-ukraine-war-nuclear-weapons-jake-sullivan

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Pushing East of Kupyansk, Ukrainian Forces Expand Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pushing-east-of-kupyansk-ukrainian-forces-expand-offensive-11664111037

Ishaan Tharoor, “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/26/ukraine-west-right-wing-fatigue-italy/


K-12 education

Sophie Black, “‘Families can fall apart over this stuff’: the children refusing to go to school,” Guardian, September 25, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/sep/26/families-can-fall-apart-over-this-stuff-the-children-refusing-to-go-to-school


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 2. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

What’s catching my eye here is not so much that there is a QAnon splinter group in tension with Donald Trump’s team but rather that Trump himself seems to be drifting ever further into indisputable lunacy.[9]

Isaac Arnsdorf, “How a QAnon splinter group became a feature of Trump rallies,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/26/trump-qanon-rallies-negative48/


  1. [1]Edward Helmore, “Jake Sullivan: US will act ‘decisively’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, September 25, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/25/us-russia-ukraine-war-nuclear-weapons-jake-sullivan
  2. [2]Jake Sullivan, quoted in Edward Helmore, “Jake Sullivan: US will act ‘decisively’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, September 25, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/25/us-russia-ukraine-war-nuclear-weapons-jake-sullivan
  3. [3]Ishaan Tharoor, “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/26/ukraine-west-right-wing-fatigue-italy/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s [T/t]rump card,” Not Housebroken, May 31, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/05/21/vladimir-putins-t-trump-card/
  5. [5]Ishaan Tharoor, “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/26/ukraine-west-right-wing-fatigue-italy/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, September 24, 2022, More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Spring in November?” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/19/spring-in-november/
  8. [8]Ishaan Tharoor, “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/09/26/ukraine-west-right-wing-fatigue-italy/
  9. [9]Isaac Arnsdorf, “How a QAnon splinter group became a feature of Trump rallies,” Washington Post, September 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/26/trump-qanon-rallies-negative48/

Rumors may be and likely are too good to be true

Rumors are flying on Twitter. So far as I know, there is no coup in progress against Chinese leader Xi Jinping and, also so far as I know, Vladimir Putin has not left the Kremlin to avoid protests against his latest moves on Ukraine.

If the latter rumor were true, it would more likely signal that the undoubtedly well-secured Kremlin was no longer secure for Putin, strongly hinting at a coup d’etat. This, in my mind, is more plausible than the China rumor, but not sufficiently plausible that I believe it.

It’s more than a little odd that these rumors even reached me so it’s possible I’m inadequately informed. But so far, I’m seeing nothing on them from sources I trust.


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 2. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m mostly in Allegheny County, but further updating an earlier blog post, I was in Westmoreland County, mostly around Greensburg and Latrobe, nearly all afternoon Saturday. Yard signs and flags supporting Donald Trump can still be found, but have become rare, albeit not as rare as Confederate flags. On recent trips through Beaver and Washington Counties, I’ve seen much the same.

Finances


Fig. 1. Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas, undated image credited to https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/ [bad link], CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

William Cohan thinks Letitia James’ lawsuit against Donald Trump may prove harder than it looks.[1]

William D. Cohan, “The Trump Lawsuit’s Known Unknowns & New ‘Shittrix’ Drama,” Puck News, September 25, 2022, https://puck.news/the-trump-lawsuits-known-unknowns-new-shittrix-drama/

Abortion


Fig. 3. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

There is a new blog post entitled, “The perversity of perversity.”


Pittsburgh

Unauthorized violence


Fig. 1. “A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday’s shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 29, 2018,” photograph by Cathal McNaughton for Reuters, via ABC News, October 29, 2018,[2] fair use.

Maddie Aiken, “2 teens, 1 man shot inside Kennywood Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 24, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/reports-of-shots-fired-at-kennywood-park-police-on-the-scene/

Joe Napsha, “1 man fatally shot, 1 wounded on Pittsburgh’s Hill District,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 24, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/1-man-fatally-shot-on-pittsburghs-north-side-1-wounded/


Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[3] fair use.

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres

Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/

Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/

Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea

Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up

David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, “With Kalashnikov rifles, Russia drives the staged vote in Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/24/ukraine-putin-referendums/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Pushing East of Kupyansk, Ukrainian Forces Expand Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pushing-east-of-kupyansk-ukrainian-forces-expand-offensive-11664111037


  1. [1]William D. Cohan, “The Trump Lawsuit’s Known Unknowns & New ‘Shittrix’ Drama,” Puck News, September 25, 2022, https://puck.news/the-trump-lawsuits-known-unknowns-new-shittrix-drama/
  2. [2]Bill Hutchinson et al., “Pittsburgh synagogue-shooting suspect wheeled into courtroom; Trump to visit city Tuesday,” ABC News, October 29, 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/US/pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting-suspect-discharged-hospital-set-make/story?id=58825389
  3. [3]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q

Yet another migration crisis as potential Russian soldiers flee Vladimir Putin’s conscription

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[1] fair use.

Der Spiegel has a long read on Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of troops—which will make little or no difference in the short term—from a perspective inside Russia and among Russians, some of whom are fleeing the country to avoid conscription, a conscription that seems likely to call up many more young men, not just experienced soldiers, than Putin claimed.[2] You won’t find a lot that you haven’t seen before, but there’s some, and it’s a damn fine article. Set aside some time to read it, but do read it.

Meanwhile, European countries are debating whether to admit those potential soldiers fleeing Putin’s conscription. Baltic countries are tut-tutting about “civic duty,” that is, a “civic duty” to go to war against Ukraine, even as the French more correctly observe that admitting the men would undermine Putin’s war effort. The queues at Russian border crossings are often over twenty-four hours long as those waiting fear Putin will close the borders. It has the look of another migration crisis: Some European countries have already felt besieged by mass migrations from Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. And now, Russia. They’re slamming the doors shut.[3]

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres

Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/

Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/

Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea

Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up


Gilead

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 1. Image credited to Darnella Frazier, made from a video posted to Facebook, of Minneapolis white supremacist gangster Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, May 25, 2020, via ABC News,[4] fair use.

Count the Fraternal Order of Police’s rejection of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey‘s contract offer as further evidence of white supremacist gangsters’ unyielding rejection of accountability.[5] The FOP should properly be understood as a terrorist organization.

Rich Lord, “Big raises for disciplinary change? Gainey’s offer rejected by Pittsburgh police union,” Public Source, September 21, 2022, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-police-contract-arbitration-ed-gainey-raises-discipline/


Royalty

Our research has proved that virtually all women with a public profile on social media receive a stream of abuse and harassment, and platforms are systematically failing to act on the problem.

Meghan Markle is another example of a high-profile woman targeted with racist abuse, misogynist attacks and conspiracy theories on social media platforms. The truth is that platforms are safer for abusers than the women users, and that has to change.[6]

Imran Ahmed, quoted in Lisa O’Carroll, “Could peace deal between Prince Harry and family ever be brokered?” Guardian, September 24, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/24/could-peace-deal-between-prince-harry-and-family-ever-be-brokered


  1. [1]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  2. [2]Şebnem Arsu et al., “Putin Bets It All in Ukraine,” Spiegel, September 23, 2022, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/no-more-illusions-putin-bets-it-all-in-ukraine-a-a94b78fd-a99b-4196-a0a6-0332057337ea
  3. [3]Pjotr Sauer and Dan Sabbagh, “Border queues build as people flee Russia to escape Putin’s call-up,” Guardian, September 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/border-queues-build-as-people-flee-russia-to-escape-putin-call-up
  4. [4]Catherine Thorbecke, “Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, complaint says,” ABC News, May 29, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/derek-chauvin-knee-george-floyds-neck-minutes-complaint/story?id=70961042
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Time to take the guns away,” Not Housebroken, April 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/01/04/time-to-take-the-guns-away/; Rich Lord, “Big raises for disciplinary change? Gainey’s offer rejected by Pittsburgh police union,” Public Source, September 21, 2022, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-police-contract-arbitration-ed-gainey-raises-discipline/
  6. [6]Imran Ahmed, quoted in Lisa O’Carroll, “Could peace deal between Prince Harry and family ever be brokered?” Guardian, September 24, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/24/could-peace-deal-between-prince-harry-and-family-ever-be-brokered

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, the pariahs

Fiona


Fig. 1. Screenshot by author from animation in a Washington Post article,[1] September 23, 2022, fair use.

“An aircraft when sufficiently high enough can fly safely above a hurricane as long as they avoid the individual thunderstorms that sometimes are adjacent to the hurricane,” a spokesman for the Professional Pilots Association, a nonprofit group through which pilots discuss safety, told The Washington Post.

Still, such conditions nearby would probably not make for a pleasant flight, said Randy Bass, a certified consulting meteorologist who runs Bass Weather Services.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that flight,” Bass said.[2]

The flight landed safely in Newark.[3] But trusting capitalists with this kind of stunt is just not my thing. I’ll be keeping my wheels on the ground, thank you very much.

Scott Dance and Amudalat Ajasa, “Fiona grounded dozens of flights. A JetBlue plane flew right over it,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/09/22/jetblue-hurricane-flight-fiona/


Ukraine


Fig. 1. “The atomic cloud over Nagasaki 1945.” Photograph from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch, New York Office, News and Features Bureau, (12/17/1942 – 09/15/1945), by Charles Levy, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

When the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to condemn the invasion shortly after it started, 35 countries abstained. It wasn’t just China and fellow dictatorships such as Cuba and Nicaragua, but also India, South Africa and Senegal. Others, including Ethiopia and Morocco, didn’t vote at all.[4]

I see the United Nations as largely irrelevant. The only body with actual authority is the U.N. Security council, where five permanent members, including Russia, hold a veto. But U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has now condemned Russia’s nuclear threats.[5]

“I’m also deeply concerned by reports of plans to organise so-called referenda in areas of Ukraine that are not currently under government control,” [United Nations Secretary General António Guterres] said. “Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from a threat or use of force is a violation of the UN charter and of international law.”

Russia was widely condemned at Thursday’s security council meeting chaired by the French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, repeated Beijing’s line that the UN charter and territorial integrity must be supported, without directly criticising Russia, which is an ally. Wang did not, however, offer Moscow any rhetorical support in a carefully worded address.[6]

It is starting to look like the lesson here may be that if you are against the United States and you are an imperialist, you need to succeed quickly. Opposition to Russia’s war was, at best, lukewarm in parts of the world that long suffered U.S. and European colonization.[7] Now that Russia is failing, countries seem to be jumping on a bandwagon with more strident opposition. Are they cynical hypocrites? Of course they are. Is this a criticism of our system of social organization? Of course it is.

As to those nuclear threats,

The Biden administration generally has decided to keep warnings [sent for several months] about the [grave] consequences of a nuclear strike deliberately vague, so the Kremlin worries about how Washington might respond, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive deliberations.

The attempt by the White House to cultivate what’s known in the nuclear deterrence world as “strategic ambiguity” comes as Russia continues to escalate its rhetoric about possible nuclear weapons use amid a domestic mobilization aimed at stanching Russian military losses in eastern Ukraine.[8]

I think strategic ambiguity has limits. I think the recipients of ‘strategically ambiguous’ messages can generally assume that they threaten a minimum, not a maximum response. It is true that they can’t be sure. But the assumption will hold in a vast majority of cases and finds support in this:

The Biden administration would face a crisis if Russia were to use a small nuclear weapon in Ukraine, which isn’t a U.S. treaty ally. Any direct military U.S. response against Russia would risk the possibility of a wider war between nuclear-armed superpowers — the avoidance of which the Biden administration has made its No. 1 priority in all of its Ukraine policymaking.[9]

The real threat here is the very thing that Joe Biden has made plain he seeks to avoid, which I think fatally undermines this strategic ambiguity.

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres

Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, “Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/22/mobilization-putin-anger-russia-war/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/

Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been thinking recently that Donald Trump is done politically and, indeed, that seems to be becoming a prevailing view.[10] But there’s still this relationship he has with his true believers, that Tina Nguyen touches on,[11] that I still see evidence of in a vastly diminished but still non-zero number of Trump yard signs around southwestern Pennsylvania.[12] There are still rabid right wing militia groups[13] and their loosely aligned gun nuts. There are still police white supremacist gangs and white supremacists in the military. There is still white Christian nationalism and, certainly not to be forgotten, a white Christian nationalist Supreme Court.[14]

Gilead may now only be a dream, but it is still a dream. It is a figurehead, a unifying figure for white Christian nationalism that is going down, not all the rest of the scary stuff. We do not know yet what will happen to or with this rest of it. The only thing I can say with confidence here is that this rest of it is not going away.

Jennifer Rubin, “If Garland sincerely believes in the rule of law, Trump is in deep trouble,” Washington Post, September 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/19/garland-trump-cannon-ruling-appeal/

Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “Special master to Trump’s lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Politico, September 20, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/20/trump-special-master-judge-mar-a-lago-00057805

Perry Stein, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs, “Special master prods Trump lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/20/dearie-mar-a-lago-trump/

Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers are Already Bickering With the Special Master, Whom They Picked,” Truthout, September 20, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-lawyers-are-already-bickering-with-the-special-master-whom-they-picked/

Devlin Barrett, “Appeals court sides with Justice Department in Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/mar-a-lago-appeal-court-ruling/

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/21/donald-trump-special-master-00058176

Tina Nguyen, “‘DeSantasy’ Revisited,” Puck News, September 21, 2022, https://puck.news/desantasy-revisited/

Richard Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “That is, if I were a Judge and was overturned in this manner, I would find it hard to leave the house” Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/thorough-rebuke-judge-aileen-cannons-pro-trump-order/

Julian Mark, “Trump says presidents can declassify docs ‘even by thinking about it,’” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/trump-hannity-declassify-documents/

David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation

Perry Stein, “Dearie asks Trump lawyers whether they believe FBI lied about seized documents,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/dearie-trump-order-declassify/


  1. [1]Scott Dance and Amudalat Ajasa, “Fiona grounded dozens of flights. A JetBlue plane flew right over it,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/09/22/jetblue-hurricane-flight-fiona/
  2. [2]Scott Dance and Amudalat Ajasa, “Fiona grounded dozens of flights. A JetBlue plane flew right over it,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/09/22/jetblue-hurricane-flight-fiona/
  3. [3]Scott Dance and Amudalat Ajasa, “Fiona grounded dozens of flights. A JetBlue plane flew right over it,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/09/22/jetblue-hurricane-flight-fiona/
  4. [4]Bloomberg, “The West Must Bridge the Global Divide Over Ukraine,” June 6, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-06-06/the-west-is-behind-ukraine-the-developing-world-not-so-much
  5. [5]Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres
  6. [6]Julian Borger, “Russia’s nuclear threats ‘totally unacceptable’, says UN chief,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/russia-nuclear-threats-totally-unacceptable-says-un-chief-antonio-guterres
  7. [7]Bloomberg, “The West Must Bridge the Global Divide Over Ukraine,” June 6, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-06-06/the-west-is-behind-ukraine-the-developing-world-not-so-much
  8. [8]Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/
  9. [9]Paul Sonne and John Hudson, “U.S. has sent private warnings to Russia against using a nuclear weapon,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/russia-nuclear-threat-us-options/
  10. [10]David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation
  11. [11]Tina Nguyen, “‘DeSantasy’ Revisited,” Puck News, September 21, 2022, https://puck.news/desantasy-revisited/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, September 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” May 23, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/; David Benfell, “The danger that still remains,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/24/the-danger-that-still-remains/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The white Christian nationalist Supreme Court,” Not Housebroken, September 18, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/18/the-white-christian-nationalist-supreme-court/

Interesting times

It’s all really rather astonishing about now. I think y’all know I try to keep a grasp on the bigger picture with, well, just about everything. But this is weird.

I don’t think we’ve seen upheaval of this magnitude since the counterculture, antiwar, and liberation movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. The situation is completely different; I invoke that era only for the scale of upheaval, not for any analogy.

I am wondering how all this plays out.


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Department of Justice photograph of seized materials, reportedly partially redacted, via the Washington Post, August 31, 2022, public domain.[1]

Jennifer Rubin, “If Garland sincerely believes in the rule of law, Trump is in deep trouble,” Washington Post, September 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/19/garland-trump-cannon-ruling-appeal/

Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “Special master to Trump’s lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Politico, September 20, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/20/trump-special-master-judge-mar-a-lago-00057805

Perry Stein, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs, “Special master prods Trump lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/20/dearie-mar-a-lago-trump/

Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers are Already Bickering With the Special Master, Whom They Picked,” Truthout, September 20, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-lawyers-are-already-bickering-with-the-special-master-whom-they-picked/

Devlin Barrett, “Appeals court sides with Justice Department in Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/mar-a-lago-appeal-court-ruling/

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/21/donald-trump-special-master-00058176

Richard Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “That is, if I were a Judge and was overturned in this manner, I would find it hard to leave the house” Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/thorough-rebuke-judge-aileen-cannons-pro-trump-order/

Julian Mark, “Trump says presidents can declassify docs ‘even by thinking about it,’” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/trump-hannity-declassify-documents/

David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation

Perry Stein, “Dearie asks Trump lawyers whether they believe FBI lied about seized documents,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/22/dearie-trump-order-declassify/

Finances


Fig. 1. Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas, undated image credited to https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/ [bad link], CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is no excerpt I can offer of Eugene Robinson’s column that does him justice. You’re just going to have go read him for yourself.

Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, “Donald Trump, 3 of his children sued for business fraud by New York AG,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/trump-sued-new-york-letitia-james/

Hugo Lowell, Maya Yang, and Martin Pengelly, “New York attorney general lawsuit accuses Trump of ‘staggering’ fraud,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/trump-new-york-investigation-ivanka-donald-eric

Eugene Robinson, “Letitia James used Trump’s boasts against him. It was devastating,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/21/letitia-james-trump-marketing/

David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation


Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[2] fair use.

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/

Robert Mackey, “Russians Return to Streets to Protest Widening of Putin’s War on Ukraine,” Intercept, September 22, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/09/22/russia-ukraine-putin-war-protests/


  1. [1]Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/
  2. [2]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q

Of Donald Trump: ‘He’s done.’

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Department of Justice photograph of seized materials, reportedly partially redacted, via the Washington Post, August 31, 2022, public domain.[1]

When I got home last night, my Twitter feed was dominated by a fair amount of triumphalism, including among lawyers, with a lot of screenshots from the Appeals Court stay of Aileen Cannon’s order regarding classified records that the Department of Justice won.

The lower court [Aileen Cannon] “abused its discretion in exercising jurisdiction … as it concerns the classified documents,” the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta] panel wrote in a 29-page opinion. Two of the judges on the panel were appointed by Trump; the third was an Obama appointee.[2]

The appeals court’s opinion was unsparing toward [Aileen] Cannon and replete with indications that the appeals judges took a vastly different approach to the document fight than she did.

[Donald] Trump’s legal team, Cannon and even a senior judge that she appointed as a special master have generally referred to the national-security documents at issue as “marked classified,” deferring at least to a degree to Trump’s claim that he declassified all the records found at Mar-a-Lago, despite a lack of evidence buttressing his assertion. But the appeals court panel took a different approach, often referring without qualification to the records as “classified.”

They also characterized the public dispute over potential declassification of the documents as a “red herring,” contending that even if true, “that would not explain why [Trump] has a personal interest in them.”[3]

[A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit] repeatedly rejected not just the Trump legal team’s lack of arguments, but also [Aileen] Cannon’s acceptance of them. Indeed, they suggested it was inexplicable that Cannon ruled for Trump even by her own logic.

The ruling really kicks into gear when the judges address what a 1977 Supreme Court case considered the “foremost consideration” in deciding whether a court such as Cannon’s should exercise jurisdiction in such a case: whether the government “displayed a callous disregard for … constitutional rights” in its seizure.

The judges say Cannon conceded that it hadn’t displayed such disregard, but then disregarded that consideration all the same — and say she thus “abused” her “discretion.”[4]

My favorite response, though, would be this:


It recalls my mother’s comment that judges do care what their colleagues think of them. But I guess the only opinion Cannon cares about is Donald Trump’s.

Jennifer Rubin, “If Garland sincerely believes in the rule of law, Trump is in deep trouble,” Washington Post, September 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/19/garland-trump-cannon-ruling-appeal/

Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, “Special master to Trump’s lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Politico, September 20, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/20/trump-special-master-judge-mar-a-lago-00057805

Perry Stein, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs, “Special master prods Trump lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/20/dearie-mar-a-lago-trump/

Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers are Already Bickering With the Special Master, Whom They Picked,” Truthout, September 20, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-lawyers-are-already-bickering-with-the-special-master-whom-they-picked/

Devlin Barrett, “Appeals court sides with Justice Department in Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/mar-a-lago-appeal-court-ruling/

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/21/donald-trump-special-master-00058176

Richard Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “That is, if I were a Judge and was overturned in this manner, I would find it hard to leave the housek” Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/thorough-rebuke-judge-aileen-cannons-pro-trump-order/

David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation

Finances


Fig. 2. Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas, undated image credited to https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/ [bad link], CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though the New York suit is not a criminal prosecution, [Letitia] James’s referral to federal prosecutors at the southern district of New York threatens further serious legal peril for the former president and his three adult children.[5]

“He’s done,” said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, in Washington, who has accurately predicted every presidential election since 1984. “[Donald Trump has] got too many burdens, too much baggage to be able to run again even presuming he escapes jail, he escapes bankruptcy. I’m not sure he’s going to escape jail.” . . .

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, noted that the civil component “involves things of particular significance to [Donald] Trump and his family and his organisation, namely their ability to defraud the public, to defraud banks, to defraud insurance companies, and to continue to subsist through corruption. Without all of that corruption, the entire Trump empire is involved in something like meltdown.”

Tribe added: “Trump is probably more concerned with things of this kind than he is with having to wear an orange jumpsuit and maybe answer a criminal indictment … As a practical matter, this is probably going to cause more sleepless nights for Mr Trump than almost anything else.”[6]

Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, “Donald Trump, 3 of his children sued for business fraud by New York AG,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/trump-sued-new-york-letitia-james/

Hugo Lowell, Maya Yang, and Martin Pengelly, “New York attorney general lawsuit accuses Trump of ‘staggering’ fraud,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/trump-new-york-investigation-ivanka-donald-eric

David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation


  1. [1]Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/
  2. [2]Devlin Barrett, “Appeals court sides with Justice Department in Mar-a-Lago case,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/mar-a-lago-appeal-court-ruling/
  3. [3]Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump suffers setback as appeals panel rejects Cannon ruling,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/21/donald-trump-special-master-00058176
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “A thorough rebuke of Judge Aileen Cannon’s pro-Trump order,” Washington Post, September 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/thorough-rebuke-judge-aileen-cannons-pro-trump-order/
  5. [5]Hugo Lowell, Maya Yang, and Martin Pengelly, “New York attorney general lawsuit accuses Trump of ‘staggering’ fraud,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/trump-new-york-investigation-ivanka-donald-eric
  6. [6]David Smith, “‘He’s done’: how Donald Trump’s legal woes have just gotten a lot worse,” Guardian, September 22, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/21/donald-trump-lawsuit-new-york-investigation

Vladimir Putin rattles his nuclear sabre

Ukraine


Fig. 1. “The atomic cloud over Nagasaki 1945.” Photograph from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch, New York Office, News and Features Bureau, (12/17/1942 – 09/15/1945), by Charles Levy, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In the wake of stunning military setbacks for Russia in its war on Ukraine,[1] which call into question even Vladimir Putin’s hold on power,[2]

Prominent Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of [Russia Today], who is among the hawks cheerleading for a tougher approach to Ukraine, hinted Tuesday that the planned referendums [in regions which would be annexed to Russia] were a sign of more dramatic actions to come.

“Judging by what is happening and what is about to happen, this week marks either the eve of our imminent victory or the eve of nuclear war,” Simonyan wrote on Twitter. “I can’t see any third option.”

Russian officials and pundits on state television have asserted for months that the war it initiated against Ukraine is actually part of a larger existential fight against [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization].[3]

“Imminent victory” seems far more likely, which isn’t very, for Ukraine than it does for Russia and Margarita Simonyan warning of nuclear war, a warning more subtly echoed by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the country’s Security Council,[4] and by Putin himself,[5] and a threat acknowledged by Joe Biden,[6] is what I have worried about all along.[7]

“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all resources at our disposal,” [Vladimir] Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”

Putin also said Russia would “do everything to provide a safe environment” for Kremlin-installed proxies in four Ukrainian regions that on Tuesday pledged to hold referendums this week to join the Russian Federation.[8]

This quite frankly is one place where my optimism of yesterday[9] could yet prove misplaced.

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647

Barbara Kollmeyer, “Putin’s partial draft announcement appears to spark scramble to leave Russia as flights fill up,” MarketWatch, September 21, 2022, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/putins-partial-draft-announcement-appears-to-spark-scramble-to-leave-russia-as-flights-fill-up-11663769382

Pjotr Sauer, “Putin flirts again with grim prospect of nuclear war – this time he might mean it,” Guardian, September 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/21/putin-flirts-again-with-grim-prospect-of-nuclear-war-this-time-he-might-mean-it

Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/

Ishaan Tharoor, “Russia pushes the panic button and raises risk of nuclear war,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/21/russia-referendums-ukraine-occupied-nuclear/


Pittsburgh

Gentrification


Fig. 1. The old Hazelwood library branch. It has been replaced with a new branch on Second Avenue. Photograph by author, May 1, 2020.

Mark Belko, “Quicker conversions of Downtown Pittsburgh offices into apartments moving closer to reality,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 21, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2022/09/20/pittsburgh-planning-commission-zoning-apartments-condos-residential-downtown-partnership-larimer-twg-indianapolis/stories/202209200105


Gilead

Donald Trump

Finances

Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, “Donald Trump, 3 of his children sued for business fraud by New York AG,” Washington Post, September 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/21/trump-sued-new-york-letitia-james/


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Ukraine pushes major counteroffensive as war marks 200 days,” September 11, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-moscow-kharkiv-9e5363cd199fd7f01cba14efa4678e5f; Hugo Bachega, “Ukraine’s rapid gains stun Russia,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 12, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62874557; Elena Becatoros and Hanna Arhirova, ““Ukraine claims to have reached Russian border as counteroffensive maintains momentum,” Times of Israel, September 12, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/ukraine-claims-to-have-reached-russian-border-as-counteroffensive-maintains-momentum/; Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, “Intelligence points to potential turning point in Ukraine war,” Washington Post, September 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/12/ukraine-russia-retreat-us-intelligence/; Steve Hendrix, Serhii Korolchuk, and Robyn Dixon, “Amid Ukraine’s startling gains, liberated villages describe Russian troops dropping rifles and fleeing,” Washington Post, September 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/11/kharkiv-liberated-retreat-izyum-russia/; Isabelle Khurshudyan et al., “Ukraine extends battlefield gains as Kremlin reels from setback,” Washington Post, September 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/12/ukraine-russia-war-retreat-kharkiv/; Mike Martin, “Putin is finished. The Ukrainians have him on the ropes with a stunning victory in their sights,” Telegraph, September 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/09/11/putin-finished-ukrainians-have-ropes-stunning-victory-sights/; Merlyn Thomas, “Ukraine war: Russians ‘outnumbered 8-1’ in counter-attack,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 12, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62874557
  2. [2]Insider, “Municipal deputies in 18 Moscow and St. Petersburg districts demand Putin’s resignation,” September 12, 2022, https://theins.ru/en/news/254943; Julia Ioffe, “Fear and Loathing in Moscow,” Puck News, September 13, 2022, https://puck.news/fear-and-loathing-in-moscow/; Allison Quinn, “Moscow Officials Urge Putin to GTFO: ‘Everything Went Wrong,’” Daily Beast, September 10, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/moscow-officials-urge-vladimir-putin-to-give-up-power
  3. [3]Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/
  4. [4]Robyn Dixon, “Russia moves toward annexing Ukraine regions in a major escalation,” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/20/russia-referendum-annexation-luhansk-donetsk-kherson-ukraine/
  5. [5]Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/
  6. [6]CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Nuclear survival,” Not Housebroken, September 18, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/13/nuclear-survival/
  8. [8]Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat,” Politico, September 21, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-announces-partial-mobilization-russian-reservists-nuclear-threat-conscription-ukraine/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Spring in November?” Not Housebroken, September 20, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/19/spring-in-november/

Come one! Come all! See the fabulous stalling of Donald Trump’s legal team!

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I am not a lawyer but I’m assuming this is just another stunt, utterly without legal merit, meant to prolong the proceedings:

In a court filing on Monday night, [Donald] Trump’s lawyers responded to a “draft management plan” written by [Raymond] Dearie. The plan asked Trump’s lawyers to provide details about documents that the former president has publicly claimed were declassified. Trump had previously claimed that the documents were his property.[1]

It seems the special master, Raymond Dearie, thinks, this being a civil suit filed by Donald Trump, that Trump bears the burden of proof for assertions that any documents the government claims are classified are in fact not classified.[2]

In their filing, lawyers for the ex-president refused to respond to the request, explaining it could hinder a future defense for Trump should he later be indicted over the mishandling of the government documents.[3]

[Raymond] Dearie bristled at the effort by [Donald] Trump’s lawyers to resist his request for proof that Trump actually attempted to declassify any of the 100 documents that the Justice Department recovered from his estate. Without evidence from Trump, Dearie said his only basis to judge the classification level of the records was the fact that they all bear markings designating them as highly sensitive national security secrets — including some that indicate they contain intelligence derived from human sources and foreign intercepts.[4]

Of course this allays my suspicions not in the least:

The former president’s legal team also took issue with [Raymond] Dearie’s proposed timeline for completing the assessment of the documents and their privilege claims. Though he has until the end of November to complete it, Dearie’s plan suggests he could complete the process by October 7.

“We respectfully suggest that all of the deadlines can be extended to allow for a more realistic and complete assessment of the areas of disagreement,” the lawyers said.[5]

Which is, of course, to say they intend to argue every last document. Even more pathetic is that they scarcely disguise this intention.

Notably, the delay [Donald] Trump’s lawyers want would push [Raymond] Dearie’s work past the midterm elections. The [Department of Justice] doesn’t appear to oppose most of the special master’s action plan.[6]

Donald Trump wanted a special master. A real judge would surely insist that he deal with that special master in good faith. But it’s clear Trump has himself a very friendly judge,[7] who I’m sure will bend over backwards, even do somersaults as his lawyers come running to mommy. So I’m guessing that, yet again, what happens will be almost anything other than what ordinarily should happen.

It’s certainly something to consider that if the white Christian nationalist plan to establish a competitive authoritarian regime succeeds—I increasingly think it won’t[8]—this will become the norm.

Jennifer Rubin, “If Garland sincerely believes in the rule of law, Trump is in deep trouble,” Washington Post, September 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/19/garland-trump-cannon-ruling-appeal/

Perry Stein, Devlin Barrett, and Shayna Jacobs, “Special master prods Trump lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’” Washington Post, September 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/20/dearie-mar-a-lago-trump/

Chris Walker, “Trump’s Lawyers are Already Bickering With the Special Master, Whom They Picked,” Truthout, September 20, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-lawyers-are-already-bickering-with-the-special-master-whom-they-picked/