The Ukraine propaganda war

Ukraine

There is a new blog post entitled, “Vladimir Putin is a fool.”

In general, what I’m seeing out there is a divergence between “tankies,”[18] who, thinking the U.S. is a great Satan, consider anyone opposing the country not merely virtuous but saintly,[19] and therefore argue for compromising Ukraine’s sovereignty;[20] and neoconservatives, who, knowing they’re not going to get a nice not-so-little war out of this one,[21] are nonetheless whipping up hysteria.[22] I’m pretty sure the truth lies somewhere between these asinine poles, I’m not sure where, but I think probably closer to the neoconservative pole: I do think Vladimir Putin is a fool[23] in possession of a significant military with nuclear weapons, which makes him a dangerous fool. What appears absolutely to be the case is that Russia and the West are engaged in a propaganda war.[24]

Julian Borger, Luke Harding, and Andrew Roth, “US accuses Russia of conspiring to take over Ukraine government,” Guardian, January 20, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/20/us-russia-ukraine-government-sanctions

Julia Ioffe, “Trump’s Former Russia Guru Explains His Putin Complex,” Puck News, January 21, 2022, https://puck.news/fiona-hill-explains-his-putin-complex/

Paul Sonne, John Hudson, and Shane Harris, “U.K. accuses Russia of scheming to install a pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine,” Washington Post, January 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/uk-accuses-russia-of-scheming-to-install-a-pro-kremlin-government-in-ukraine/2022/01/22/41c0999e-7bde-11ec-b79d-e53ef5e1fbe2_story.html

John Hudson, “State Department orders diplomats’ families to leave U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, citing ‘threat of Russian military action,’” Not Housebroken, January 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/state-department-orders-diplomats-families-to-leave-us-embassy-in-ukraine-citing-threat-of-russian-military-action/2022/01/23/c857b95e-7ca3-11ec-a844-86749890616a_story.html

Robyn Dixon et al., “U.S. puts troops on alert and NATO sends ships, fighter jets to Eastern Europe as Russia continues buildup on Ukraine border,” Washington Post, January 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/24/ukraine-eu-us-embassy-russia/

Fiona Hill, “Putin Has the U.S. Right Where He Wants It,” New York Times, January 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/opinion/russia-ukraine-putin-biden.html

Jon Allsop, “The information war over Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 25, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/ukraine_russia_america_britain_media.php


Student loans

Molly Osberg, “Who Gets to Be an Expert on Student Loans?” New Republic, January 24, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165109/student-loan-forgiveness-experts


Pittsburgh

Snow plowing

I did go out Monday (January 24), but cut off orders early, as I saw that snow was accumulating on roads even outside the City of Pittsburgh. I came home and read about Pittsburgh Public Works still trying to catch up from Sunday[25] which only reinforces my suspicion that what they’re really counting on is for the temperature to rise so the snow melts.[26] After all, it always works eventually.

It’s now Tuesday and I’m reading about Brookline.[27]

Sorry, Pittsburgh Public Works needs to be shut down, disbanded, and rebuilt from scratch. Fire everyone; make sure they can never get another city job again ever in their lives. This is a culture that must be expunged from government at all levels; the harm it does is to expose government as inept, incompetent, and quite probably corrupt. It rationalizes the capitalist libertarian and neoliberal distrust of government that would privatize everything, even things it makes no sense whatsoever to privatize, and diminish political power in favor of economic power.

Political sanity in the U.S. requires zero tolerance for agencies like Pittsburgh Public Works.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh crews working to clear city streets after Sunday’s snow,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 24, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-crews-working-to-clear-city-streets-after-sundays-snow/

WTAE, “Residents in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood frustrated with snow response,” January 24, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/residents-in-pittsburghs-brookline-neighborhood-frustrated-with-snow-response/38876127

Gentrification

Bill O’Toole, “Pittsburgh lacks affordable housing for everyone. Here are key resources for starting your search,” Public Source, January 24, 2022, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-allegheny-county-affordable-housing-service-guide/


U.S. Civil War

Barbara F. Walter, “Why should we worry that the U.S. could become an ‘anocracy’ again? Because of the threat of civil war,” Washington Post, January 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/24/why-should-we-worry-that-us-could-become-an-anocracy-again-because-threat-civil-war/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Amy B. Wang and John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor granted special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/24/georgia-prosecutor-granted-special-grand-jury-probe-trumps-efforts-overturn-states-election-results/


Right-wing dictatorship

Jonathan Lai, “The clock is ticking for Pa. redistricting. The 2022 primary is at stake. Here’s what to know,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 24, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pennsylvania-redistricting-delays-primary-election-date-20220124.html


COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

Melanie Phillips[28] isn’t quite coherent. What the hell is “demonstrable evidence in favour of ideological dogma?” If such evidence exists—and yes, I’ve heard this claim before—then we are no longer talking about ideological dogma but rather a policy proposal based on positivist evidence. She describes herself as “a Brexiteer who follows the evidence and who believes that science has indeed been hijacked by ideology over climate change,” which is to say she does not follow the evidence, which is pretty much what I’ve seen of so-called “demonstrable evidence in favour of ideological dogma.”

Melanie Phillips, “Libertarian right has lost its way over Covid,” Times, January 24, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/libertarian-right-has-lost-its-way-over-covid-d3gd0v9w8


State stores

A Pennsylvania oddity is what used to be called “State Stores,” which have now branded themselves as “Fine Wine and Good Spirits.” Pennsylvania allows private retailers to sell beer; a number of these are literally set up as drive throughs. But to get just about anything else alcoholic, you need to go to the state store. It’s a peculiarity that dates way back—I remember all this from when I was a kid—apparently to the end of Prohibition.

Ford Turner, “Will Pennsylvania’s state-run alcohol stores finally be privatized? How the latest attempt differs from past ones,” Harrisburg Morning Call, January 24, 2022, https://www.mcall.com/news/pennsylvania/capitol-ideas/mc-nws-pa-liquor-privatize-proposal-20220124-27g3y6cd6vd2tfswdm6wuyaoca-story.html


John Fetterman

On Twitter, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman portrays himself as a progressive, a strong advocate for recreational marijuana legalization and for LGBTQ+ rights. He’s running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pat Toomey, who is retiring[29] after having voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment.[30] But he didn’t show up for a “forum last week with Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidates” put on by Black Philadelphia clergy.[31]

The no-show brought into the open simmering questions in Democratic circles about whether Fetterman can handle the intense scrutiny that comes with being his party’s early leader in one of the country’s most crucial Senate races. It also drew criticism of his willingness to listen to Black voters. . . .

Fetterman’s campaign also canceled on a December forum organized by the group Indivisible Narberth and Beyond, which said his campaign hasn’t responded to requests to reschedule. In Western Pennsylvania, Progress PA, a coalition of progressive groups, is struggling to schedule him for a candidate event.[32]
Remember that this is the guy who, as mayor of Braddock, a Pittsburgh suburb with a prominent Black population, having heard shots, chased down and brandished a shotgun at a Black jogger. His defense was that the town was having a major problem with gun violence.[33] But he apparently expects to coast on his time as mayor of that borough:

[John] Fetterman’s campaign said his responsibilities presiding over the Senate on their first day of the 2022 session “made his attendance literally impossible.” The state constitution has provisions for the Senate President Pro Tempore to lead the chamber when the lieutenant governor is absent, and Fetterman has missed sessions before, though not frequently.

“Our campaign clearly communicated this along with our sincere regret to the event’s organizers,” the campaign said in a statement, also pointing to his record as mayor of Braddock, a city outside Pittsburgh. “As the 4-term mayor of a more than 70% Black community, our campaign is eager to discuss John’s record on these and other critical issues in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.”[34]
Bullshit.

Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari, “John Fetterman skipped a forum with Black clergy and some Democrats say he’s ducking scrutiny,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 25, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-2022-senate-race-black-clergy-20220125.html


  1. [18]Noah Smith, “Tankies!” Noahpinion, December 31, 2020, https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/tankies
  2. [19]David Benfell, “Democracy Now!’s not-so-good interview with Stephen Cohen on the Ukraine,” Not Housebroken, August 28, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/2014/02/20/democracy-nows-not-so-good-interview-with-stephen-cohen-on-the-ukraine/
  3. [20]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/
  4. [21]Andrew Roth and Julian Borger, “US says it will send troops to eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine,” Guardian, December 6, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/06/us-says-it-will-send-troops-to-eastern-europe-if-russia-invades-ukraine
  5. [22]Anne Applebaum, “The U.S. Is Naive About Russia. Ukraine Can’t Afford to Be,” Atlantic, January 3, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/ukraine-russia-kyiv-putin-bluff/621145/
  6. [23]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin is a fool,” Not Housebroken, January 24, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/24/vladimir-putin-is-a-fool/
  7. [24]Jon Allsop, “The information war over Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 25, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/ukraine_russia_america_britain_media.php
  8. [25]Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh crews working to clear city streets after Sunday’s snow,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 24, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-crews-working-to-clear-city-streets-after-sundays-snow/
  9. [26]David Benfell, “Waiting for the snow to melt,” Not Housebroken, January 21, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/21/waiting-for-the-snow-to-melt/
  10. [27]WTAE, “Residents in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood frustrated with snow response,” January 24, 2022, https://www.wtae.com/article/residents-in-pittsburghs-brookline-neighborhood-frustrated-with-snow-response/38876127
  11. [28]Melanie Phillips, “Libertarian right has lost its way over Covid,” Times, January 24, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/libertarian-right-has-lost-its-way-over-covid-d3gd0v9w8
  12. [29]John Fetterman, “I'm running for the U.S. Senate to fight for all of Pennsylvania. . .,” Twitter, February 8, 2021, https://twitter.com/JohnFetterman/status/1358776958042181635; NEXTpittsburgh, “Why does Lt. Gov. John Fetterman want to run for Senate?” Public Source, January 15, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/why-does-lt-gov-john-fetterman-want-to-run-for-senate/; Holly Otterbein, “John Fetterman launches Senate bid in Pennsylvania,” Politico, February 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/08/fetterman-senate-pennsylvania-466932; Zoe Richards, “PA Lt. Gov. Fetterman Files To Run For Toomey Seat In 2022,” Talking Points Memo, February 5, 2021, https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/pa-lt-gov-fetterman-files-to-run-for-toomey-seat-in-2022
  13. [30]Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/
  14. [31]Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari, “John Fetterman skipped a forum with Black clergy and some Democrats say he’s ducking scrutiny,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 25, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-2022-senate-race-black-clergy-20220125.html
  15. [32]Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari, “John Fetterman skipped a forum with Black clergy and some Democrats say he’s ducking scrutiny,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 25, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-2022-senate-race-black-clergy-20220125.html
  16. [33]Stephen Caruso, “Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, February 10, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fetterman-justifies-but-does-not-apologize-for-chasing-down-and-brandishing-shotgun-at-black-jogger-while-braddock-mayor/
  17. [34]Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari, “John Fetterman skipped a forum with Black clergy and some Democrats say he’s ducking scrutiny,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 25, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-2022-senate-race-black-clergy-20220125.html

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