Democrats fiddle while the country burns

Twitter

Elon Musk drama annoys the fuck out of me. I’d really rather wait until all this about buying Twitter is over, one way or another. But William Cohan writes,

I asked Kara Swisher, who knows Elon better than most of us, what she thought was going on here. And she told me, in a text exchange, that he didn’t care about any of Wall Street’s protocols, what Kindle, or his Morgan Stanley colleagues, may have advised, any of it. “He could care less,” she wrote. “See pedo lawsuit. Dating Grimes. Etc, etc.” She added for good measure, that none of this strange behavior “has hurt him so far.” It’s hard to argue with her on that point, considering along the way he has made himself the world’s richest man.[21]

Cohan is puzzled by Musk’s latest moves. Cohan makes a good case why you should be puzzled too.[22] So okay, I’m puzzled. But I’d still really rather wait until all this is over.

William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Next Moves,” Puck News, May 18, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-next-moves/


Democrats

It remains striking that the Democratic Party has refused to lift a finger against a Trumpist effort to seize control of electoral machinery.[23] Progressives may appear to be making some progress,[24] but the party record is clear: The Democratic Party is where progressives go to be co-opted and the Party is far more comfortable in opposition, where it can simply complain about Republicans without ever being expected to actually accomplish a single damn thing.

Ryan Grim, “Democratic Voters Deliver Rebuke to Manchin-Sinema Wing,” Intercept, May 18, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/05/18/democratic-voters-deliver-stinging-rebuke-to-partys-manchin-sinema-wing/


Hate

Ishaan Tharoor documents a threat that I have frankly underestimated, that ties Viktor Orbán’s regime in Hungary to the U.S. Trumpist right[25] and even to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine;[26] if you want to know what the forthcoming right-wing dictatorship in the U.S.[27] might look like, a lot of that answer might be found in Hungary: essential components include the war on abortion, which may very well go beyond the overturning of Roe v. Wade to outright bans on birth control, abortion, and gay and interracial marriage.[28]

Some will doubt that a majority of conservatives are prepared to go this far. But Trumpism, as a movement which is not very much under Donald Trump’s control,[29] has already merged[30] the authoritarian populist, paleoconservative, and social conservative tendencies I identified in my dissertation,[31] and with Rod Dreher,[32] seems to now include traditionalist conservatism, which has always been closely aligned on most issues with social conservatism.[33] As the Republican establishment has embraced Trumpism, we must now as well include functionalist conservatism. That’s five out of the seven tendencies I had identified, omitting only neoconservatism and capitalist libertarianism,[34] neither of which have been prepared on the whole to oppose Trumpism (as distinct from Donald Trump himself[35]); we are clearly looking at a unifying ideology within conservatism. It is an extremely powerful movement that, like Viktor Orbán’s in Hungary, aims to consolidate control over the electoral process[36] while the Democrats fail to do a damn thing about it.[37]

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/


Ukraine

On another Channel One program, hosted by vocal pro-Kremlin presenter Vladimir Solovyov, Igor Markov—a former Ukrainian lawmaker and pundit known for backing the Russian government—accepted the possibility that Russia could lose the war.

“Our lives are at stake, you know, and we have one option—to win,” said Mr. Markov. “What’s going on now—I don’t see how we’re going to do it.” He went on to say: “I really want to believe that they are reporting to the commander in chief the real state of things that are happening.”

The criticism on state television echoes fears Russians express in private over the fate of the conflict and their own country.

A conscript who served in Crimea in 2017 and has stayed in touch with his fellow soldiers says troops, too, are disillusioned. “They all feel let down by a military they always thought was invincible,” he said.[38]

How much longer, one might ask, before Russia has[39] its Walter Cronkite moment, a moment when despite all attempts at obfuscation from political and military leadership, it becomes clear that this putatively quick and easy war, then in Vietnam, is something much longer and much more difficult, indeed, a war that cannot be won?[40]

Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Finland Says It Will Apply to Join NATO in Response to Russia’s Ukraine Invasion,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/finlands-leaders-announce-intention-to-apply-for-nato-membership-11652340796

Pjotr Sauer, “‘They were furious’: the Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine,” Guardian, May 12, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/they-were-furious-the-russian-soldiers-refusing-to-fight-in-ukraine

Mark Trevelyan, “Russia says Finnish entry to NATO poses threat to which it will respond,” Reuters, May 12, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/kremlin-says-finland-joining-nato-is-definitely-threat-russia-2022-05-12/

Lawrence Freedman, “When will Vladimir Putin realise it is time to cut his losses in Ukraine?” New Statesman, May 13, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/war-in-ukraine-putin-losses

Ross Douthat, “There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks,” New York Times, May 14, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/opinion/ukraine-russia-putin-biden.html

Natalia Drozdiak, “NATO Expansion Could Finally Shore Up Alliance’s Weakest Flank,” Bloomberg, May 14, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-14/ukraine-war-nato-expansion-could-finally-shore-up-alliance-s-weakest-flank

Liz Sly, “Russia is furious that Finland is joining NATO but can’t do much about it,” Washington Post, May 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/14/finland-russia-nato-ukraine-retaliation/

Joe Barnes, “Sweden’s bid to join Nato ‘shows Vladimir Putin’s aggression doesn’t pay,’” Telegraph, May 15, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/15/sweden-set-follow-finland-joining-nato-despite-threats-vladimir/

Bloomberg, “Ukraine Latest: NATO Embraces Sweden, Finland; US Aid Vote Nears,” May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/ukraine-latest-nato-has-frank-talks-with-turkey-on-accession

Deutschewelle, “Finland officially announces support for NATO membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/finland-officially-announces-support-for-nato-membership/a-61803764

Deutschewelle, “NATO: Turkey outlines demands on Finland and Sweden membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/nato-turkey-outlines-demands-on-finland-and-sweden-membership/a-61806003

Kati Pohjanpalo and Niclas Rolander, “Finland, Sweden Set to Seek NATO Entry in Historic Shift,” Bloomberg, May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/finland-sweden-set-to-apply-for-nato-entry-in-historic-shift

Richard Spencer, “Third of Russian invaders destroyed,” Times, May 15, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/third-of-russian-invaders-destroyed-002xrvfsq

Guardian, “Russians and Ukrainians battle around Izium as Sweden joins Finland in Nato bid,” May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russians-and-ukrainians-battle-around-izium-as-sweden-joins-finland-in-nato-bid

Jon Henley, “Turkey says it will not approve Sweden and Finland joining Nato,” Guardian, May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russia-finland-sweden-nato-ukraine-war

Matthew Karnitschnig, “Europe’s leaders fall out of key on Ukraine,” Politico, May 16, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/europes-leaders-fall-out-of-key-on-ukraine/

Jared Malsin, “Turkey Lays Out Demands as Finland, Sweden Plan NATO Entry,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-lays-out-demands-as-finland-sweden-plan-nato-entry-11652722492

John Revill, “Neutral Switzerland leans closer to NATO in response to Russia,” Reuters, May 16, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/neutral-switzerland-leans-closer-nato-response-russia-2022-05-15/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Wood Chipper,” Puck News, May 17, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-wood-chipper/

Rozina Sabur and Nataliya Vasilyeva, “Wounded Ukrainian defenders rescued from Mariupol steelworks to be exchanged for captive Russians,” Telegraph, May 17, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/16/russia-says-willing-evacuate-wounded-ukrainian-troops-mariupol/

Emily Rauhala, “Finland and Sweden formally apply for NATO membership,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/finland-sweden-nato-apply/

Patrick Wintour, “Why has Erdoğan doubled down on threat to veto Nordic Nato bids?” Guardian, May 18, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/18/erdogan-doubles-down-on-threat-to-veto-nordic-nato-membership

Thomas Grove and Matthew Luxmoore, “As Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Stalls, Critical Voices Emerge in Moscow,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-stalls-critical-voices-emerge-in-moscow-11652958665


  1. [21]William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Next Moves,” Puck News, May 18, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-next-moves/
  2. [22]William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Next Moves,” Puck News, May 18, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-next-moves/
  3. [23]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-voting-john-lewis/2021/11/03/de00974e-3cc5-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162974/democrats-voting-rights-bill-dead; Carrie Levine, “Why there’s even more pressure now on Congress to pass a voting rights bill,” Center for Public Integrity, July 9, 2021, https://publicintegrity.org/inside-publici/newsletters/watchdog-newsletter/why-theres-even-more-pressure-now-on-congress-to-pass-a-voting-rights-bill/; Sam Levine, “Voting rights advocates frustrated by ‘same-old, same-old’ meeting with White House,” Guardian, December 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/voting-rights-advocates-frustrated-meeting-white-house; Lawrence Lessig, “Why the US Is a Failed Democratic State,” New York Review of Books, December 10, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/10/why-the-us-is-a-failed-democratic-state/; Greg Sargent, “The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse,” Washington Post, December 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/10/manchin-filibuster-protecting-our-democracy-act/
  4. [24]Ryan Grim, “Democratic Voters Deliver Rebuke to Manchin-Sinema Wing,” Intercept, May 18, 2022, https://theintercept.com/2022/05/18/democratic-voters-deliver-stinging-rebuke-to-partys-manchin-sinema-wing/
  5. [25]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/
  6. [26]Delia Gallagher, “Pope Francis warns pro-war Russian patriarch not to be ‘Putin’s altar boy,’” CNN, May 4, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/04/europe/pope-francis-patriarch-kirill-ukraine-invasion-intl/index.html; Reuters, “Patriarch urges soldiers to defend ‘peace-loving’ Russia amid Ukraine campaign,” April 3, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/patriarch-urges-soldiers-defend-peace-loving-russia-amid-ukraine-campaign-2022-04-03/
  7. [27]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, March 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  8. [28]David Charter, “Republican states plot to make birth control a crime,” Times, May 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/republican-states-plot-to-make-birth-control-a-crime-sljmb2s7f; Josh Gerstein, “What falls after Roe? Liberals warn of a privacy rights nightmare,” Politico, May 3, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/03/supreme-court-abortion-privacy-rights-00029871; Molly Jong-Fast, “The Anti–Birth Control Movement Is the New Anti-Abortion Movement,” Vogue, July 1, 2021, https://www.vogue.com/article/anti-birth-control-movement; Caroline Kitchener, “The next frontier for the antiabortion movement: A nationwide ban,” Washington Post, May 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/05/02/abortion-ban-roe-supreme-court-mississippi/; Alexandra Martinez, “Birth control, gay and interracial marriage, and more may be at risk if Roe v. Wade falls,” Prism, May 5, 2022, https://prismreports.org/2022/05/05/civil-rights-roe-v-wade/
  9. [29]David Benfell, “Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found,” Not Housebroken, January 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/14/trumpism-donald-trump-the-january-6-coup-attempt-and-a-smoking-gun-that-may-never-be-found/
  10. [30]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  11. [31]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  12. [32]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/
  13. [33]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  14. [34]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  15. [35]David Benfell, “Trumpism, Donald Trump, the January 6 coup attempt, and a smoking gun that may never be found,” Not Housebroken, January 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/12/14/trumpism-donald-trump-the-january-6-coup-attempt-and-a-smoking-gun-that-may-never-be-found/
  16. [36]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/
  17. [37]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill,” Washington Post, November 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-voting-john-lewis/2021/11/03/de00974e-3cc5-11ec-bfad-8283439871ec_story.html; Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162974/democrats-voting-rights-bill-dead; Carrie Levine, “Why there’s even more pressure now on Congress to pass a voting rights bill,” Center for Public Integrity, July 9, 2021, https://publicintegrity.org/inside-publici/newsletters/watchdog-newsletter/why-theres-even-more-pressure-now-on-congress-to-pass-a-voting-rights-bill/; Sam Levine, “Voting rights advocates frustrated by ‘same-old, same-old’ meeting with White House,” Guardian, December 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/voting-rights-advocates-frustrated-meeting-white-house; Lawrence Lessig, “Why the US Is a Failed Democratic State,” New York Review of Books, December 10, 2021, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2021/12/10/why-the-us-is-a-failed-democratic-state/; Greg Sargent, “The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse,” Washington Post, December 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/10/manchin-filibuster-protecting-our-democracy-act/
  18. [38]Thomas Grove and Matthew Luxmoore, “As Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Stalls, Critical Voices Emerge in Moscow,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-stalls-critical-voices-emerge-in-moscow-11652958665
  19. [39]Thomas Grove and Matthew Luxmoore, “As Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Stalls, Critical Voices Emerge in Moscow,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-stalls-critical-voices-emerge-in-moscow-11652958665
  20. [40]David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.