Trying to imagine a possibility where that deterioration even slows appreciably in some limited context

Imperialism

Russia

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.

If you were burning with curiosity at what the Ukrainians would make public about their war plans—I know I sure was when I saw the headline on that Washington Post article—the answer is, if you get right down to it, some high aspirations, which maybe they can reach.[2] We can hope.

Beyond that, the only thing I can add—I’ve said this before—is that from the outset, the world has underestimated Ukraine’s determination and ability to resist the Russian invasion. Perhaps we are so used to things getting worse, we are afraid to imagine a possibility where that deterioration even slows appreciably in some limited context.

John Hudson and Shane Harris, “CIA director, on secret trip to Ukraine, hears plan for war’s endgame,” Washington Post, June 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/30/cia-director-burns-ukraine-counteroffensive/


  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]John Hudson and Shane Harris, “CIA director, on secret trip to Ukraine, hears plan for war’s endgame,” Washington Post, June 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/30/cia-director-burns-ukraine-counteroffensive/

I didn’t get mine

Neoliberalism

Academic repression

Student loans


Fig. 1. Unattributed and undated image via James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal,[1] fair use.

I wasn’t very much a fan of Joe Biden’s student loan relief which, at best, would barely scratch the surface of my student loan debt. It’s just $10,000 or $20,000 more that they won’t get back anyway because nobody will let me have a real job. And yes, this is kind of a I-didn’t-get-mine kind of thing.

Trouble is, it doesn’t seem likely to me that any new plan will be any better. We’ll all just have to wait another day until, hopefully, someone decides to admit to reality. It’d help a lot if a few Supreme Court justices tried that.

But you know, something like your dogma is getting in the way of my karma? There does seem something oddly narcotic about politicians and delusion, witness neoliberalism.

Jillian Berman, “Supreme Court knocks down Biden’s student-debt forgiveness plan,” MarketWatch, June 30, 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/supreme-court-knocks-down-bidens-student-debt-forgiveness-plan-30ba9892

Andrew Restuccia, “Biden to Try Again to Cancel Student Loan Debt,” Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-pressured-to-revive-student-loan-forgiveness-plan-34d0a7be


  1. [1]Richard K. Vedder, “Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans,” James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, September 16, 2020, https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/09/eliminate-or-radically-restructure-federal-student-loans/

Supreme Court says no to Joe Biden’s student loan relief

Neoliberalism

Academic repression

Student loans


Fig. 1. Unattributed and undated image via James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal,[1] fair use.

The decision [striking down the Biden administration’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for a wide swath of borrowers] means that the White House won’t move forward with the plan for now, though it’s possible officials could try to launch a new version of the debt-forgiveness initiative using a different legal authority. Roughly 26 million borrowers applied for or were automatically eligible for debt relief under the Biden administration’s plan, which canceled up to $10,000 in student debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 in federal loans for borrowers who met that criteria and also used a Pell grant in college.[2]

The Biden administration might attempt relief another way,[3] but for now, this is yet another failed promise for a party that makes a habit of supporting what can never pass only when it cannot pass, relying on excuses—there’s always an excuse—to retain progressive support.[4]

Jillian Berman, “Supreme Court knocks down Biden’s student-debt forgiveness plan,” MarketWatch, June 30, 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/supreme-court-knocks-down-bidens-student-debt-forgiveness-plan-30ba9892

Banking

Commercial real estate


Fig. 2. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

There is a new blog post entitled, “The real ‘doom loops:’ intellectual fraud at the Federal Reserve, intellectual fraud in economics.”

James Mackintosh, “How Scared Should You Be About Commercial Real Estate?” Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-scared-should-you-be-about-commercial-real-estate-1ba0f913


Imperialism

Russia

Syria


Fig. 3. “Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2023.” Pool photograph by Vladimir Gerdo, March 15, 2023, via Reuters, fair use.

Ishaan Tharoor, “The battle in Syria that looms behind Wagner’s rebellion,” Washington Post, June 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/30/wagner-syria-russia-battle-united-states/


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine
Wagner mutiny

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

Michael R. Gordon and Alan Cullison, “Wagner Mutiny Revives U.S. Fears Over Control of Russia’s Nuclear Weapons,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-mutiny-revives-u-s-fears-over-control-of-russias-nuclear-weapons-29319369

Richard Kemp, “Putin’s downfall is only delayed. It’s coming,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/25/putins-downfall-is-only-delayed-its-coming/

James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/

Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/

Douglas Busvine, Gabriel Gavin, and Victor Jack, “Putin condemns Wagner rebellion but says Prigozhin’s men are free to go,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/yevegeny-prigozhin-wagner-group-russia-ukraine-war-mutiny/

Jamie Dettmer, “Putinism’s demise will be chaotic and violent,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-wagner-group-rebellion-vladimir-putin-demise-will-be-chaotic-and-violent/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “After Putin speech on deal with mercenaries, Russia confronts divisions,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/27/putin-prigozhin-wagner-russia-divided/

Bojan Pancevski, “Wagner’s Prigozhin Planned to Capture Russian Military Leaders,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagners-prigozhin-planned-to-capture-russian-military-leaders-805345cf

Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc

John Feffer, “The Beginning of the End for Putin?” Foreign Policy In Focus, June 29, 2023, https://fpif.org/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-putin/

Max Seddon, Henry Foy, and Polina Ivanova, “Russia detains ‘General Armageddon’ in crackdown on pro-Wagner elites,” Financial Times, June 29, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e937199c-a5c1-45d9-85bc-85cf75a3528d

Ishaan Tharoor, “The battle in Syria that looms behind Wagner’s rebellion,” Washington Post, June 30, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/30/wagner-syria-russia-battle-united-states/

Anastasia Stognei, “How Wagner’s march of fury brought the war home,” Financial Times, June 30, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/a3b577e2-b441-474a-992c-47cdf96060f6


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure


Fig. 4. Post-collapse scene at the Fern Hollow Bridge, photograph by National Transportation Safety Board, January 29, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Jack Troy, “New Kensington Bridge to close for 6 weeks starting in July,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 30, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/new-kensington-bridge-to-close-for-6-weeks-starting-in-july/


  1. [1]Richard K. Vedder, “Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans,” James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, September 16, 2020, https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/09/eliminate-or-radically-restructure-federal-student-loans/
  2. [2]Jillian Berman, “Supreme Court knocks down Biden’s student-debt forgiveness plan,” MarketWatch, June 30, 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/supreme-court-knocks-down-bidens-student-debt-forgiveness-plan-30ba9892
  3. [3]Jillian Berman, “Supreme Court knocks down Biden’s student-debt forgiveness plan,” MarketWatch, June 30, 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/supreme-court-knocks-down-bidens-student-debt-forgiveness-plan-30ba9892
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/

Paleoconservatism, natural law, and the death penalty

Gilead

White Christian nationalism


Fig. 1. If one weighs by geography rather than population, Pennsylvania is very much a white Christian nationalist kind of place. Photograph by author, January 5, 2023.

The paleoconservative mind is a strange, arguably paranoid, certainly delusional mind.

Even four years after the crime, as he interviewed the defendant, [Richard] Rogers described [Robert] Bowers as almost gleeful in some of his descriptions — often smiling, sometimes laughing and pointing out things that he thought were funny or ironic from the day of the [Tree of Life Synagogue] attack.

For example, Bowers told Rogers he remembered feeling bad about parking in a handicapped space at the synagogue that day because it was illegal, and then laughing because killing people was immensely more illegal, the witness said.

Bowers described himself to Rogers as calm and focused that day.

He was proud of his actions on what he referred to as “Attack Day,” and thought he would be venerated for them — maybe with a parade or medals.

“He felt he had done something in his mind that might be seen as heroic,” Rogers said.[1]

That Robert Bowers believed he would be seen as a hero for killing Jews in a synagogue[2] is consistent with the paleoconservative beliefs that, 1) on some level, all white people agree with them (paleoconservatives); 2) races should be segregated; and 3) white people are subject to attack or “displacement” by people of color[3] and, in this flavor, by Jews. A subset of paleoconservatism anticipates and prepares for race war. I must leave to others whether this counts as criminal insanity, though I would warn anyone diagnosing Bowers against a reductive approach, which I suspect leads to Richard Rogers’ diagnosis. In anything social, context is crucial, and there is a context to Bowers’ actions that offers a rationale for genocidal acts.

That leads me to question, though I cannot say, whether Bowers was unable to form criminal intent. I do not assume he was incapable of recognizing ‘right’ from ‘wrong’—indeed, he regretted parking in a handicapped spot.[4] My question is whether he has a homicidal notion of ‘right.’

To assume that all people have the same sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ would be to reify natural law, in which the Christian god is alleged to have planted identical notions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in all humans. This presumption was flatly wrong, which is, in large part, why we now primarily rely on written law.[5] That we do not share Bowers’ sense of ‘right’ does not mean he does not have one; it means only that we disagree with it, as we should, as it is entirely incompatible with the entirely laudable goal of living with each other in peace.

But disagreement cannot be the basis of a finding of insanity. This would require us to regard any disagreement on morality in the same way, reifying the natural law understanding of insanity as an impairment of those “god-given” senses of ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ And ‘severity’ is a slippery slope if ever there was one. I might see a sign outside Emsworth, a Pittsburgh suburb along the Ohio River, that claims that “leftism is a mental disease,” but this does not assure me as to the sanity of its anonymous author, let alone particularly to doubt the sanity of progressives. Rogers, however, would have us doubt the sanity of someone who holds paleoconservative beliefs, largely on the grounds of those beliefs:[6]

Among the evaluations he conducted on the defendant, [Richard] Rogers said several were designed to show if [Robert] Bowers was faking his psychotic symptoms.

The tests showed he was not, he testified.

What they did show was that, in 2018, Bowers was experiencing “extreme persecutory and nihilistic delusions that the Jews are responsible for invaders entering the United States and destroying white persons,” Rogers testified.

In spring 2018, he continued, Bowers displayed “clearly manifested symptoms of schizophrenia.”

“This became his life,” Rogers said. “The thinking, the planning, the preparation. The act became his life.”

Rogers said that during his interview with him, Bowers became excited when talking about his feelings about Jews.

“He was doing this not just for himself. He was doing it for the white race — to stop race mixing, to stop the widespread killing of white children,” Rogers said. “It was a call to action, a call that this needs to be done.

“One of his goals was to get people to follow his example.”

Rogers measured the severity of Bowers’ delusions as “extreme,” in which he could “hurt himself or hurt others.”[7]

Much of what Rogers labels as extremely delusional[8] is, flatly, paleoconservative ideology. And even though it is false,[9] it does offer a rationale, even if woefully insufficient, for Bowers’ killings.

But on cross-examination, U.S. Attorney Eric Olshan repeatedly asked Rogers if he recognized that many of the hateful things Bowers said about Jews were popular tropes online and beliefs shared by an entire population of white supremacists. It is common on sites like Gab.com for people to claim that Jews run the government and media and that they are trying to replace the white population — called white genocide, Olshan said.

So, he asked Rogers, are all those other people delusional too?

Rogers disagreed.

“We’re talking about the severity of the beliefs and the actions taken for the beliefs,” he answered.[10]

Bowers’ life may well depend on jurors accepting Rogers’ diagnosis. There is, evidently, a considerable mental health history, including a stay at the notorious Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in Upper Saint Clair, that Rogers seems to have testified to.[11] (The hospital is long gone, the property was redeveloped into housing for the well off, and I wonder how many of its present occupants know of its history.)

Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/


Imperialism

Russia

Ukraine
Wagner mutiny

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

Michael R. Gordon and Alan Cullison, “Wagner Mutiny Revives U.S. Fears Over Control of Russia’s Nuclear Weapons,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-mutiny-revives-u-s-fears-over-control-of-russias-nuclear-weapons-29319369

Richard Kemp, “Putin’s downfall is only delayed. It’s coming,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/25/putins-downfall-is-only-delayed-its-coming/

James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/

Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/

Douglas Busvine, Gabriel Gavin, and Victor Jack, “Putin condemns Wagner rebellion but says Prigozhin’s men are free to go,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/yevegeny-prigozhin-wagner-group-russia-ukraine-war-mutiny/

Jamie Dettmer, “Putinism’s demise will be chaotic and violent,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-wagner-group-rebellion-vladimir-putin-demise-will-be-chaotic-and-violent/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “After Putin speech on deal with mercenaries, Russia confronts divisions,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/27/putin-prigozhin-wagner-russia-divided/

Bojan Pancevski, “Wagner’s Prigozhin Planned to Capture Russian Military Leaders,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagners-prigozhin-planned-to-capture-russian-military-leaders-805345cf

Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc

John Feffer, “The Beginning of the End for Putin?” Foreign Policy In Focus, June 29, 2023, https://fpif.org/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-putin/

Max Seddon, Henry Foy, and Polina Ivanova, “Russia detains ‘General Armageddon’ in crackdown on pro-Wagner elites,” Financial Times, June 29, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e937199c-a5c1-45d9-85bc-85cf75a3528d


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  5. [5]R. H. Helmholz, Natural Law in Court: A History of Legal Theory in Practice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2015).
  6. [6]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  7. [7]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/
  11. [11]Megan Guza, “‘May their memories always be a blessing’: Jewish community comes together after gunman is convicted in synagogue massacre,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 16, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2023/06/16/pittsburgh-tree-of-live-synagogue-shooting-trial-verdict-robert-bowers/stories/202306160050; Paula Reed Ward and Justin Vellucci, “‘I think he was blatantly psychotic,’ psychologist says of Pittsburgh synagogue attacker,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2023, https://triblive.com/local/i-think-he-was-blatantly-psychotic-psychologist-says-of-pittsburgh-synagogue-attacker/

Julia Ioffe is almost always right about Russia and Ukraine. This time might be different.

To the extent I left California to escape wildfire smoke, this summer has been a failure.

Smoke, apparently from Canadian wildfires, is back with a vengeance today, hanging over the neighborhood trees like a fog, noticeably darkening the skies. It’s “another code red air quality action day” for the entire state of Pennsylvania—there have been a few of these this summer.[1]


Imperialism

Russia

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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the idea that the rebellion shook Russian authorities or [Vladimir] Putin, instead insisting that it “demonstrated a high level of consolidation of society, political forces and the military around the president,” even as Russian analysts said the opposite was true.

Peskov tried to explain the contradiction of dropping treason charges while some Russian activists are in prison simply for social media posts critical of the war. Peskov said the deal was a necessity born out of “a rather sad event, an extraordinary event.”[3]

Even as repercussions begin in Russia,[4] we’re well into the post-event bullshit phase of what I guess more people are calling the Wagner Mutiny than anything else. Basically, this is where 1) all the pundits (excluding Julia Ioffe, who, if memory serves, has been on vacation) who haven’t written anything about Yevgeny Prigozhin’s coup/mutiny/insurrection/rebellion decide they need to get in on the action, but don’t really add anything new, and 2) the subjects of their discourse all try to spin what happened in their own favor. Generally speaking, trust this even less than what you heard at the time when nobody knew what the fuck was going on. What you’ll see here is mostly me catching up on details.

There’s a lot we don’t know about what really happened, and what continues to happen in the couloirs of power. In the two days since [Yevgeny] Prigozhin choked when he was within striking distance of Moscow, the Kremlin has been furiously sweeping up the damage. After a deafening 48-hour silence, [Vladimir] Putin can’t seem to stop speaking. He gave a taped, Monday-night address, then spoke on a red carpet in a Kremlin courtyard, then went inside and met with—i.e., talked at—some servicemembers. (Throughout, he refused to acknowledge Prigozhin by name, a vindictive anonymity reserved for Putin’s worst enemies, like Alexey Navalny.)

People who had been quiet during Prigozhin’s march—the defense minister, the heads of various security services, the most prominent propagandists—have resurfaced for some vigorous rewriting of the weekend’s events. Prigozhin, in the meantime, has landed in Belarus where [Alexander] Lukashenko has already started building camps to house his fighters. And even though the F.S.B. dropped its criminal case against him, there were some local media reports that Prigozhin has found the only high-rise hotel where the windows don’t open. “If we’ve learned anything over the last 23 years, it is that Putin goes after people he feels betrayed him,” said Sergey Radchenko, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “He seems to not tolerate betrayal; he values loyalty over competence.” Personally, I’ve been asking people if they think Prigozhin makes it till his next birthday: June 1, 2024.[5]

So what do we actually know? It appears that Yevgeny Prigozhin saw defense ministry moves to require Wagner to sign a contract that would bring the latter under the former’s control as an existential threat to Wagner.[6] It’s rare that I’ll doubt Ioffe, who writes,

[Yevgeny] Prigozhin was the strongest, most obvious rival [Vladimir] Putin had. He had his own private army, tens of thousands of men who had criminal pasts and were loyal to him personally, and who, having been through the gauntlet of the war in Ukraine, were skilled at violence and clearly unafraid. Sure, Prigozhin’s march revealed damning details about the defense of the Russian homeland: as Prigozhin advanced, the Russian military mostly melted away. But Prigozhin, for whatever reason, blinked first. And that means Putin won.

Having survived a coup, Putin is stronger, not weaker. And Putin didn’t even get his hands dirty trying to wrangle Prigozhin. He let everyone else—from [Alexander] Lukashenko, to his negotiating team, to his spokesman—come down to Prigozhin’s level and talk, while he removed himself from the capital and the situation, clearly demonstrating that he didn’t think Prigozhin’s march was worth his time or energy.[7]

Ioffe is almost always right. She here interprets the bully as having faced down another bully and as looking stronger for it.[8] But I think nearly everyone else, including myself, is interpreting the failure of Putin’s forces even to resist Prigozhin as a sign of acquiescence, certainly not loyalty to Putin,[9] and Putin’s departure from Moscow[10] as a sign of fear not indifference, rather that Putin uses apparent indifference to cover fear, which, in the world he grew up in and never really grew out of, that Ioffe herself has described,[11] he dare not admit to. Crucially, everyone knows this.

[Vladimir] Putin “knows they look weak” after Russia dropped charges against Wagner to avoid an open firefight that would have likely killed thousands, said a sanctioned figure within Russia’s elite.

“It’s real tough guy stuff,” the person said. “It’s like when you go into the prison cell for the first time and punch the biggest guy you can find in the face to show nobody can mess with you.”[12]

I think “real tough guy stuff” would have said to hell with the casualties, we’re gonna fight. Neither Putin nor Prigozhin showed such mettle:

[Yevgeny] Prigozhin lost his nerve on Saturday. He had a golden opportunity to seize power at a moment when [Vladimir] Putin was surprised and vulnerable. The Russian military had many of its resources in Ukraine rather than Russia, and Wagner’s heavily armed forces had at least the potential to outgun the remaining Russian security services guarding Moscow.

But Prigozhin’s moment was fleeting. Now the odds are good that Putin will have his rival murdered. The Russian leader has had opponents thrown out of windows for far less. To think that [Alexander] Lukashenko, a Putin stooge, will protect Prigozhin in Belarus is madness. Moscow has a long reach; Putin has had plenty of opponents assassinated in the West, and Minsk, the capital of Belarus, might as well be a suburb of Moscow.[13]

I also don’t buy the theory that [Yevgeny] Prigozhin’s men were scared of a bloodbath in Moscow. All of them had seen worse on the battlefields of Ukraine. Many were hardened criminals who saw the meatgrinder of war as preferable to prison. Moreover, the forces tasked with defending Moscow seemed far better at slamming unarmed urban intellectuals to the floor than fighting real, armed peers. (Also, given the Ukrainian drones that exploded over the Kremlin, Moscow may not be as well-guarded as we think.) Rather, I think that Prigozhin truly didn’t want to unseat Putin. He wanted to talk to him and get his point across, to get what he wanted from the big boss, face to face. But with Putin unwilling to meet with him, the prospect of trying to take Moscow had become not just bloody, but pointless.[14]

Okay, we don’t actually know that Prigozhin lost his nerve, but given support in Moscow that didn’t materialize,[15] it’s probably the best explanation for what happened, and Ioffe effectively refutes—not that she should have to—Prigozhin’s nonsense claim to have been avoiding a bloodbath.[16]

Even if Moscow isn’t thrilled by [Vladimir] Putin or his invasion of Ukraine, the specter of [Yevgeny] Prigozhin marching into their city and taking over threw certain things into perspective. Prigozhin is a terrifying brute, someone to the far right of Putin. Putin’s rule has been brutal but has become that way gradually, in a way that most Russians have learned to accommodate and accept. It is a familiar brutality whose rules they can now more or less guess. Prigozhin was bearing down on the capital with his mass of hardened criminals, true barbarians at the gate. What would they do when they got there? Would they do things that would make Putin seem soft and gentle by comparison?

When [Nina] Khrushcheva [Former Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev’s grandaughter] arrived in Moscow, she told me that she kept hearing Prigozhin referred to as a rapist and a murderer. “Whatever we think of Putin, it’s better than rapists and murderers,” she told me, elaborating on the mindset of people she’s been speaking with in the capital. “I heard it several times on Saturday, especially when Wagner got to Lipetsk [300 miles from Moscow]. We don’t need this.”

Putin had long built his legitimacy on the lack of alternatives, or on the fear of what the alternative might be. He was the thing standing between Russians and revolution, civil war, he argued, the stuff their great-grandparents only miraculously survived. It was hard to make that argument with Navalny, a white-collar democrat. But Prigozhin was that nightmare incarnate, the best advertisement for another 20 years of Putin that Vladimir Vladimirovich could have hoped for. And when it came time to make the choice, when it was banging on the city gates on Saturday, the Moscow elite didn’t hesitate. “Before Saturday, the Russian elite didn’t have the sense that they had to choose between [Putin and Prigozhin],” said the well-connected Moscow source. “Then when one of them started a coup, it turned out that no one supported Prigozhin. I don’t know a single person that supported him.”[17]

Perhaps the most important revelation to emerge from [Yevgeny] Prigozhin’s coup attempt is that Russia is too dependent on Wagner mercenaries to effectively confront them, Mark Voyger, the director of the master’s program in global management at the American University in Kyiv and senior fellow at Center for European Analysis, told Defense One. “The fact remains that these are still the best trained, the most motivated, the most cruel, the most brutal but still the most capable…forces that the Russian command currently has at their disposal…The Russian military cannot conjure up new forces in the foreseeable future capable of doing, you know, even a portion of what Wagner was doing.”

That’s in large part because Wagner forces could operate according to their own rules, unlike the Russian military, Voyger said. The force is composed of veteran fighters, but also convicts straight from prison. That will make it very hard for the Russian military to fold the mercenaries into formal service, he said, though the Russian military had stated plans to do precisely that by the end of the summer—likely the main catalyst for Prigozhin’s march in the first place.[18]

In quoting Mark Voyger, Patrick Tucker repeats what many have said. Putin faces not only an opponent he cannot tolerate but the prospect of fighting a war of his own making that brings him only humiliation, that he relied on a now-neutralized force to fight.[19]

Some analysts struggle to see [Vladimir] Putin tolerating the presence of the insurrectionist forces within his camp in the months ahead. Others doubt [Yevgeny] Prigozhin will slip into obscurity in Minsk and reckon he may remain a parallel source of influence over the Russian public. For years, Putin consolidated his power by both suppressing any alternatives to his rule and cultivating a cohort of de facto warlords, like Prigozhin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who seemed loyal to him if not the overall chain of command at the Kremlin.[20]

In the wake of [Yevgeny] Prigozhin’s attempted coup, there’s been a lot of full-throated certainty in the Western media—and in U.S. media, especially—that [Vladimir] Putin has been mortally wounded and that his regime is weaker than ever. Look as I might, I just don’t see it.[21]

Count me—I’ve been saying it for a while—among those who think Putin is doomed,[22] but the truth here is nobody knows. There’s a certain amount of hubris (not to mention that of pundits) inherent to this situation, where Prigozhin imagines he can keep Wagner in Belarus and where Vladimir Putin imagines he can remain in power, fold Wagner into the Russian military, and get his revenge against Prigozhin regardless. Which of these, if any, will happen? We won’t know until we know, but taking out Prigozhin is, I’m guessing, the easiest on this list, and Prigozhin would have to be even stupider than he seems not to anticipate that Putin will try.

All this said, it must surely be clear in Moscow that something will need to be done about Putin. The picture that can no longer be hidden is that Putin rules from fear and the price of his rule is not only high but repugnant. The question will be how and when, not if.

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

Michael R. Gordon and Alan Cullison, “Wagner Mutiny Revives U.S. Fears Over Control of Russia’s Nuclear Weapons,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-mutiny-revives-u-s-fears-over-control-of-russias-nuclear-weapons-29319369

Richard Kemp, “Putin’s downfall is only delayed. It’s coming,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/25/putins-downfall-is-only-delayed-its-coming/

James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/

Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/

Douglas Busvine, Gabriel Gavin, and Victor Jack, “Putin condemns Wagner rebellion but says Prigozhin’s men are free to go,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/yevegeny-prigozhin-wagner-group-russia-ukraine-war-mutiny/

Jamie Dettmer, “Putinism’s demise will be chaotic and violent,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-wagner-group-rebellion-vladimir-putin-demise-will-be-chaotic-and-violent/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “After Putin speech on deal with mercenaries, Russia confronts divisions,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/27/putin-prigozhin-wagner-russia-divided/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/

Bojan Pancevski, “Wagner’s Prigozhin Planned to Capture Russian Military Leaders,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagners-prigozhin-planned-to-capture-russian-military-leaders-805345cf

Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc

Max Seddon, Henry Foy, and Polina Ivanova, “Russia detains ‘General Armageddon’ in crackdown on pro-Wagner elites,” Financial Times, June 29, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e937199c-a5c1-45d9-85bc-85cf75a3528d


Neoliberalism

Self-driving cars


Fig. 2. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Jacob Comer, “State Police: Tesla on autopilot crashes into stopped truck on Pa. Turnpike,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2023/06/26/state-police-tesla-autopilot-crash-truck-interstate-freightliner/stories/202306260060

Eriq Gardner, “The Elon Hubris Deposition Test,” Puck, June 26, 2023, https://puck.news/the-elon-hubris-deposition-test/


Gilead

Competitive authoritarian regime project


Fig. 3. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Clarence Mitchell during signing ceremony of the voting rights act. Yoichi Okamoto, August 6, 1965, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the independent state legislature theory that would have allowed state legislatures to gerrymander and generally tinker with elections, all free from judicial review.[23]

Time will tell whether this thought proves embarrassingly ludicrous, prescient, or something else: I’m thinking that some of those justices on the Supreme Court felt their fingers burn or perhaps their noses lengthen when they saw the backlash to Dobbs, that they might have been scared straight, at least for a little while. I also might have some serious blushing to do.

Tierney Sneed, “Supreme Court allows for Louisiana congressional map to be redrawn to add another majority-Black district,” Cable News Network, January 26, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/26/politics/supreme-court-louisiana-congressional-redistricting/index.html

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rejects theory that would have meant radical changes to election rules,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/27/moore-v-harper-supreme-court-rejects/

Leo Cassel-Siskind, “Tens of thousands of Pa. mail ballots will be thrown out in the 2024 presidential election,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pennsylvania-mail-ballots-presidential-election-20230629.html

Twitter


Fig. 4. “Elon Musk shared a video of his entrance on his Twitter account.” Photograph attributed to Elon Musk, October 26, 2022, via the New York Post,[24] fair use.

William D. Cohan, “The Elon Twitter Debt Vulcan Chess Theory,” Puck, June 28, 2023, https://puck.news/the-elon-twitter-debt-vulcan-chess-theory/


COVID-19 Pandemic


Fig. 5. Cartoon by Peter Brookes, October 3, 2020, via the Times, fair use.

Understand how this will be spun among white Christian nationalists: They will say that the “deep state” (I don’t remember: am I supposed to capitalize that? or just yell it?) is getting all its hookers from the Chinese deep state. Or something like that.

Apparently, the big news is that the Wuhan Lab was indeed working on coronaviruses, but these were too distantly related to be a likely progenitor to COVID-19. Furthermore, there was no evidence that any much-ballyhooed but merely hypothesized “lab leak” had in fact occurred. This, of course, according to the intelligence community,[25] one of a few targets of extreme right-wing antipathy, in their labeling, the “deep state.”

Some old fogeys might, as I do, remember when we lamented the “deep state” for its misdeeds in Latin America, for spying on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, for running crack cocaine to U.S. inner cities to pay for aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, for facilitating a coup favoring the Shah of Iran, and, I’m sure, numerous other misdeeds either that I don’t know or that fail to come to mind. Somehow, the “deep state” is still a shadowy collection of government agencies and private contractors, but rather than acting on behalf of capitalism it now targets the right wing (you know, “anyone with a brain”). It’s an upside-down world.

Liam Mannix, “COVID-19 lab leak theory ends with a whimper, not a bang,” Sydney Morning Herald, June 27, 2023, https://www.smh.com.au/national/covid-19-lab-leak-theory-ends-with-a-whimper-not-a-bang-20230627-p5djqb.html


Jeffrey Epstein


Fig. 6. “Donald Trump with his future wife Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago in February 2000.” Photograph credited to Davidoff Studios Photography/Getty Images, February 2000,[26] fair use.

Sadie Gurman, “Jeffrey Epstein’s Suicide Underscores Negligence in Federal Prisons, Watchdog Finds,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeffrey-epsteins-suicide-underscores-negligence-in-federal-prisons-watchdog-finds-dbc423da


Gilead

Competitive authoritarian regime project


Fig. 7. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Clarence Mitchell during signing ceremony of the voting rights act. Yoichi Okamoto, August 6, 1965, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The legal doctrine in question is contained in Section 5 of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It seems clear enough, particularly given the context, which was to establish that the “free soil” of a reunited America made full citizens of ex-slaves. The prevailing Supreme Court interpretation of the birthright-citizenship clause, handed down in 1898, held that the American-born son of noncitizen immigrants was indeed a citizen.

But the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction of,” originally intended to exclude the children of foreign diplomats and Native Americans from automatic citizenship, has caused some doubt and confusion. A smattering of conservative legal scholars have argued that it means Congress can regulate birthright citizenship, typically by withholding it from the children of immigrants present in the country illegally. Trump asserted before and after becoming president that he had the power to do exactly that by executive order. He never did, however, probably because he was told it would invite an immediate court challenge. But in his current campaign, he has pledged to issue an order ending birthright citizenship (technically requiring that one parent of a qualifying person be a citizen or legal resident) on “day one” of his next administration.[27]

When you are desperate to limit who can vote to certain identity groups, it has to be brain-dead obvious that you are worried that certain other identity groups will either not see or object to the merits of your policies, which just about has to mean that they think you’re trying to fuck them over, which just about has to mean your policies increase social inequality.

Tierney Sneed, “Supreme Court allows for Louisiana congressional map to be redrawn to add another majority-Black district,” Cable News Network, January 26, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/26/politics/supreme-court-louisiana-congressional-redistricting/index.html

Ed Kilgore, “DeSantis Joins Trump’s Call to End Birthright Citizenship,” New York, June 27, 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/06/desantis-joins-trumps-call-to-end-birthright-citizenship.html


Human Science

Inquiry

Quantitative
Artificial idiocy

There is a new blog post entitled, “For regulating artificial idiocy, against regulating cryptography.”

Margaret Heffernan, “The tech sector’s free pass must be cancelled,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/c668bf20-40ea-4eb9-8910-ab63d213a63b


Illiberalism


Fig. 8. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Dov Lieber and Michael Amon, “Netanyahu Revives Judicial Overhaul Stripped of Most Controversial Piece,” Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/netanyahu-revives-judicial-overhaul-stripped-of-most-controversial-piece-33160de


  1. [1]Patrick Cloonan, “Another Code Red air quality action day declared for all of Pa.,” Indiana Gazette, June 29, 2023, https://www.indianagazette.com/news/another-code-red-air-quality-action-day-declared-for-all-of-pa/article_342ab07c-669c-54ef-9cf4-114727bd2b5b.html; Jenna Wise, “Code Red air quality alert extended in central Pa. as wildfires bring haze,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, June 29, 2023, https://www.pennlive.com/weather/2023/06/code-red-air-quality-alert-extended-in-central-pa-as-wildfires-bring-haze.html
  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
  3. [3]Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “After Putin speech on deal with mercenaries, Russia confronts divisions,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/27/putin-prigozhin-wagner-russia-divided/
  4. [4]Max Seddon, Henry Foy, and Polina Ivanova, “Russia detains ‘General Armageddon’ in crackdown on pro-Wagner elites,” Financial Times, June 29, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/e937199c-a5c1-45d9-85bc-85cf75a3528d; Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc
  5. [5]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  6. [6]Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482
  7. [7]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  8. [8]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  9. [9]Jamie Dettmer, “Putinism’s demise will be chaotic and violent,” Politico, June 26, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-wagner-group-rebellion-vladimir-putin-demise-will-be-chaotic-and-violent/; Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/; Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/
  10. [10]James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/
  11. [11]Julia Ioffe, “About a Boy: The Roots of Putin’s Evil,” Puck, May 10, 2022, https://puck.news/about-a-boy-the-roots-of-putins-evil/
  12. [12]Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc
  13. [13]James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/
  14. [14]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  15. [15]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/; Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/; Max Seddon et al., “Vladimir Putin freezes out hardliners after Wagner mutiny,” Financial Times, June 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/1d084fc7-d249-451d-b791-56a05b9010fc
  16. [16]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  17. [17]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  18. [18]Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/
  19. [19]Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/
  20. [20]Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/
  21. [21]Julia Ioffe, “Putin vs. Prigozhin: The Post-Coup Report,” Puck, June 27, 2023, https://puck.news/putin-vs-prigozhin-the-post-coup-report/
  22. [22]David Benfell, “If Vladimir Putin doesn’t make sense, he doesn’t make sense, and he cannot last,” Not Housebroken, June 25, 2023, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/10/10/if-vladimir-putin-doesnt-make-sense-he-doesnt-make-sense-and-he-cannot-last/
  23. [23]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rejects theory that would have meant radical changes to election rules,” Washington Post, June 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/27/moore-v-harper-supreme-court-rejects/
  24. [24]Thomas Barrabi, “Elon Musk barges into Twitter HQ as deal nears: ‘Let that sink in,’” New York Post, October 26, 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/10/26/elon-musk-barges-into-twitter-headquarters-as-deal-nears/
  25. [25]Liam Mannix, “COVID-19 lab leak theory ends with a whimper, not a bang,” Sydney Morning Herald, June 27, 2023, https://www.smh.com.au/national/covid-19-lab-leak-theory-ends-with-a-whimper-not-a-bang-20230627-p5djqb.html
  26. [26]Martin Pengelly, “‘She say anything about me?’ Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides,” Guardian, October 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/04/trump-ghislaine-maxwell-epstein-maggie-haberman-book-confidence-man
  27. [27]Ed Kilgore, “DeSantis Joins Trump’s Call to End Birthright Citizenship,” New York, June 27, 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/06/desantis-joins-trumps-call-to-end-birthright-citizenship.html

Does anyone know where Vladimir Putin is?

Imperialism

Russia

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.

Apparently, no one knows where Vladimir Putin is.[2]

Russian opposition news websites have reported that [Vladimir] Putin’s presidential plane took off from Moscow at lunchtime on Saturday and Kew towards St Petersburg before it switched oJ its tracking system around the Tver region. Putin has a residence in the region.[3]

He has not been heard from since[4] and I presume he’s aware that he’s in grave danger,[5] so I’m just wondering if he’s grabbing a few things before escaping with his life.

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

Richard Kemp, “Putin’s downfall is only delayed. It’s coming,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/25/putins-downfall-is-only-delayed-its-coming/

James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/

Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/


Neoliberalism

Democratic (neoliberal) Party

Joe Biden
Hunter Biden

Byron Tau, C. Ryan Barber, and Sadie Gurman, “Did Hunter Biden Get a Sweetheart Deal? Prosecutors Weigh In,” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/did-hunter-biden-get-a-sweetheart-deal-prosecutors-weigh-in-2dc8656e


Gilead

Competitive authoritarian regime project


Fig. 1. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Clarence Mitchell during signing ceremony of the voting rights act. Yoichi Okamoto, August 6, 1965, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Tierney Sneed, “Supreme Court allows for Louisiana congressional map to be redrawn to add another majority-Black district,” Cable News Network, January 26, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/26/politics/supreme-court-louisiana-congressional-redistricting/index.html


  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]James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/
  3. [3]James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/
  4. [4]James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/
  5. [5]Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html; Richard Kemp, “Putin’s downfall is only delayed. It’s coming,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/25/putins-downfall-is-only-delayed-its-coming/; James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/; James Kilner, “Putin disappears as allies ask how rebels got so close to Moscow,” Telegraph, June 25, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/25/vladimir-putin-disappears-question-how-wagner-close-moscow/; James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/; Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482; Patrick Tucker, “How Prigozhin’s Baby Coup Weakened Everyone in Russia,” Defense One, June 25, 2023, https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2023/06/how-prigozhins-baby-coup-weakened-everyone-russia/387888/

Yevgeny Prigozhin was desperate

Imperialism

Russia

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.

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Benoit Faucon, Joe Parkinson and Thomas Grove, “Why Wagner Chief Prigozhin Turned Against Putin, ” Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/wagner-prigozhin-putin-mutiny-moscow-march-7072d6ea

James Risen, “Prigozhin and Putin: Dead Men Walking,” Intercept, June 25, 2023, https://theintercept.com/2023/06/25/prigozhin-putin-russia-coup/

Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Ishaan Tharoor, “Putin is reaping what he sowed,” Washington Post, June 25, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/25/putin-wagner-damage-challenge-image/


Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Housing


Fig. 1. Most of the homeless encampments I’ve seen around Pittsburgh have been on the North Side. This one is downtown, right by a Parkway (Interstate 376) onramp. Photograph by author, May 22, 2023.

Neena Hagen, “Pittsburgh stalls land bank reform as city council debates key legislation,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 25, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2023/06/25/pittsburgh-land-bank-blight-vacant-kail-smith-gross-properties-city-council/stories/202306260009


  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]Tatiana Stanovaya, “Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. . . .” Twitter, June 25, 2023, https://twitter.com/Stanovaya/status/1672991911538196482

Have Yevgeny Prigozhin and Vladimir Putin taken each other out?

Imperialism

Russia

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.

We can at this point only speculate about why [Yevgeny] Prigozhin undertook this putsch, and why it all failed so quickly. One possibility is that Prigozhin had allies in Moscow who promised to support him, and somehow that support fell through: Perhaps his friends in the Kremlin got cold feet, or were less numerous than Prigozhin realized, or never existed at all. Prigozhin, after all, is not exactly a military genius or a diplomat; he’s a violent, arrogant, emotional man who may well have embarked on this scheme huffing from a vat of his own overconfidence.[2]

Mostly, there isn’t much new from last night (June 24, 2023). But Nick Allen, at the Telegraph, reports that Vladimir Putin found only lukewarm support even from his allies, who called it an ‘internal matter,’ as he faced down Yevgeny Prigozhin. There is a sense that this may not be over, as the Wagner Group has forces and relationships with governments around the world;[3] even eliminating the forces in Russia or Ukraine would not eliminate the organization.

Perhaps. But as I think with Donald Trump and the January 6 coup attempt, you tend to only get one shot at it.

First, [Vladimir] Putin has suffered a huge political blow, and he has survived by making deals both with [Yevgeny] Prigozhin and with his own colleagues in the Kremlin that are, by any definition, a humiliation. And second, Yevgeny Prigozhin has changed the Russian political environment surrounding Putin’s war in Ukraine.[4]

I don’t think we know the full content of those “deals.” But my expectation is that Prigozhin is done[5] and so, too, soon, will be Putin,[6] whom I would advise to make an escape into exile, sooner rather than later.

[Yevgeny] Prigozhin drew blood and then walked away from a man who never, ever lets such a personal offense go unavenged. [Vladimir] Putin, however, may have had no choice, which is yet another sign of his precarious situation. All of the options were terrifying: Ordering the Russian military to attack armed Russian men would have been a huge risk, especially because those men (and their hatred of the bureaucrats at the Defense Ministry) have at least some support among Russia’s officers and political elites. Killing Prigozhin outright was also a high-risk proposition; with their leader dead and the Russian military closing in, the Wagnerites might have decided to fight to the death.[7]

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Nick Allen, “Vladimir Putin receives lukewarm response from allies over ‘internal’ problem,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-lukewarm-response-allies-support-belarus-deescalate/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html

Colin Freeman, “How Yevgeny Prigozhin went for broke — then left everyone guessing,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/how-yevgeny-prigozhins-wagner-group-launched-coup-russia/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

Luke Harding, “The Wagner rebellion has been called off but Putin has never looked weaker,” Guardian, June 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/24/even-if-wagner-rebellion-fails-putins-presidency-has-never-looked-weaker

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Graham Russell, “‘Putin humiliated’: what the papers said about the Wagner rebellion in Russia,” Guardian, June 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/25/putin-humiliated-what-the-papers-said-about-the-wagner-rebellion-in-russia

Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a


  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]Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/
  3. [3]Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html; Nick Allen, “Vladimir Putin receives lukewarm response from allies over ‘internal’ problem,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-lukewarm-response-allies-support-belarus-deescalate/
  4. [4]Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/
  5. [5]Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/
  6. [6]Peter Baker, “Short-Lived Mutiny in Russia Sheds Light on Putin’s Hold on Power,” New York Times, June 24, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/us/politics/us-russia-putin.html; James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/; Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/; Graham Russell, “‘Putin humiliated’: what the papers said about the Wagner rebellion in Russia,” Guardian, June 24, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/25/putin-humiliated-what-the-papers-said-about-the-wagner-rebellion-in-russia; Robert Tombs, “Putin is not out of the woods – he stands gravely weakened,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-not-out-of-woods-gravely-weakened/
  7. [7]Tom Nichols, “The Coup Is Over, but Putin Is in Trouble,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/putin-russian-coup-over-prigozhin-wagner/674522/

Vladimir Putin survives

Imperialism

Russia

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.

In the end, it wasn’t the story a lot of people (including me) had to be thinking it might be:

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced a deal late on Saturday that Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin would depart for Belarus in return for being spared prosecution, after an abortive rebellion in which his troops made a dash for Moscow.

The announcement, carried by the Tass news agency, came shortly after embittered warlord Prigozhin announced his men were turning back from Moscow to avoid a devastating civil conflict. In a voice recording posted to his Telegram channel, Prigozhin said his troops would turn back after advancing within 200 kilometers of the capital.[2]

It’s still a hell of a story:

Wagner [Group] troops, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, earlier in the day took over the main military headquarters for southern Russia, in Rostov, and other installations there, encountering virtually no resistance from the regular armed forces. Wagner also sent columns of troops northward toward Moscow, as the Russian army rushed to cut off highways and defend the capital city.[3]

This after Yevgeny Prigozhin had promised to bring “justice,” whatever that actually means, to the Russian defense ministry and to the country as a whole, and the Russian government replied with, among other things, a warrant for Prigozhin’s arrest.[4]

[Yevgeny] Prigozhin, smarting over the Kremlin’s handling of the war in Ukraine, announced early on Saturday that his mercenaries had seized the major southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, a logistics hub for Putin’s war, and threatened to push on to Moscow. Wagner forces also appeared to be well established in the city of Voronezh, 500 kilometers south of the capital.[5]

This morning (June 24, 2023), in separate articles, Anne Appelbaum and Yaroslav Trofimov confirmed that the Wagner Group moved into Rostov. But we still didn’t have a clue what was really going on beyond that it sure looked like a coup attempt. Appelbaum called it a “civil war,”[6] but I think for it to be a civil war, this has to be more than one ambitious military commander and his forces; it needs significant popular support on each side and I still don’t really see that.

I’m not yet prepared to call it a coup. History shows they are especially difficult in Russia, and I want to see how many friends [Yevgeny] Prighozin has in Moscow. But the Wagner mercenaries have proven to be tougher and better organized than the army, and the far right is robust. ([Vladimir] Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can largely be seen as shoring up his right flank.)[7]

It’s worth a detour to see what we think of what we know about Russian public opinion: We saw that some people say they support Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine but we still can’t know beyond stereotypes whether they in fact do.[8] And we saw that some people are snitching on people who don’t support the war,[9] for whatever benefits they might derive and for whatever scores they may hope to settle in doing so, reminiscent not only of the Soviet Union but of the U.S. “terrorist” roundups in Afghanistan that snared many innocent people.

Apart from the right-wing bloggers, I have seen absolutely zero public support for Wagner or Yevgeny Prigozhin, who got many (my impression is ‘most’) of their recruits from Russian prisons. And I’m pretty damned sure that we don’t know jack shit about what the Russian public, with any sense of proportion, really thinks of the Ukraine War or Putin.

The evidence we actually have is of people protesting and fleeing Putin’s military draft.[10] And what’s worse, all of the information I have on Russian civilian public opinion is several months old.

I am simply not seeing anything like adequate evidence for any claim on Russian popular support. I’m deeply skeptical that anybody has that support. So I think Appelbaum’s “civil war” label was at least a step too far. Trofimov, for his part, called it rather an “insurrection”[11] while U.S. government sources are calling it a “coup.”[12] For now, I’m sticking with an attempted “coup.”

A senior Eastern European intelligence official said the service was scrambling to get a clear picture of events but added that “time is not on [Vladimir] Putin’s side.”[13]

All that said, it’s Prigozhin now who’s telling at least a partial truth that Ukraine did not threaten Russia. He claims, unverifiably, that Putin was duped by his military leadership.[14]

We do not know that anyone in Russia who is not on Telegram heard anything Prigozhin said. We do not know that anyone in Russia dared to repeat it. But I have to think that Putin is vulnerable,[15] that his support is soft at best.

The right-wing military bloggers who’ve supported Putin but have complained that the invasion lacks vigor[16] couldn’t have been enthusiastic about Putin but seemed unlikely now to support Prigozhin. We were now well past the point where talk was what mattered and so we still don’t know that their backing substantially matters anyway.

Putin’s military forces have uniformly been reported to be demoralized in the war on Ukraine. It had remained to be seen whether they would resist Prigozhin, join him, or stick with Putin,[17] and if Putin has any inkling at all of how his war in Ukraine has been going, he has to know that he didn’t actually have an answer to that question, and he probably didn’t want to put it to the test.

So where was Prigozhin’s support? Those 25,000 fighters he claimed to have—“[s]ome of these will be ex-convict chancers but others will be the best Russian soldiers, former special forces and former members of the Kremlin guard.”[18] And we don’t even trust that he has those—he claims after all that a Russian military strike took out a large number of his soldiers.[19]

Appelbaum refers to a “hall of mirrors that Vladimir Putin has built around himself and within his country [that] is so complex, and so multilayered, that on the eve of a genuine insurrection in Russia, I doubt very much if the Russian president himself believed it could be real.”[20] One thing to watch for was that it might not only be Putin who deceived himself, and so it proved:

After a day of heightened military tensions — with shells fired in Voronezh and Chechen fighters being dispatched to take on Wagner in Rostov — the uprising suddenly fizzled out in the evening. Ultimately, Moscow appeared an improbably ambitious target for [Yevgeny] Prigozhin and Russian regular forces appeared unable to do much to counter Prigozhin in the south. . . .

“At the moment there is an completely constructive and acceptable option of resolving the situation, with security guarantees for the Wagner PMC fighters on the table,” [Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s office’s] press release claimed. If there are such guarantees, they will be a bitter pill for [Vladimir] Putin, who promised to punish the rebels.

Given [Dmitry] Peskov’s statement that Prigozhin will depart for Belarus, it now seems the Wagner commander has failed to to secure his core demands.[21]

This isn’t a win for either Prigozhin or Putin. But Prigozhin will presumably have some safe place in Belarus or perhaps a point beyond. Putin, on the other hand, likely remains in serious trouble.[22]

In the short term, I predict an even more brutal war in Ukraine as Putin strives to get the right-wing bloggers back on side.

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a

Nick Allen, “US says Wagner coup is ‘real’ and ‘serious’ as White House consults allies,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/wagner-coup-russia-us-reaction-joe-biden-vladimir-putin/

Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/

Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/

James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, “U.S. spies learned in mid-June Prigozhin was plotting Russia uprising,” Washington Post, June 24, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/24/us-intelligence-prigozhin-putin/

Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a


Electric cars

It looks like Tesla is winning the charging station competition:

On Tuesday, electric car maker Rivian announced it will adopt Tesla’s North American Charge Standard, or NACS. The move follows similar announcements from Ford and GM in recent weeks; Hyundai is reportedly mulling a shift too. Allowing non-Teslas into the extensive Tesla charging network will be a boon for the company: The flurry of new deals could add some $3 billion to Tesla’s revenue in 2030 and more than $5.2 billion in 2032. It could also give one company and its mercurial, right-wing CEO enormous sway over how and where infrastructure critical to decarbonization gets built.[23]

This certainly sounds like it might become an antitrust matter as it appears car makers and other charging providers will struggle to adapt.[24] What I’m really wondering about is how Toyota’s ceramic battery technology[25] will play with all this.

Kate Aronoff, whom I quote above, expresses concern that this might lead car-buyers to defer electric car purchases.[26] I don’t think there’s any question of this; those who’ve waited will surely be vindicated, both by the charging standard war[27] and a far superior battery technology.[28]

Kate Aronoff, “Tesla Is Taking Over America’s Charging Stations,” New Republic, June 21, 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/173823/tesla-taking-americas-charging-stations


  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]Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/
  3. [3]Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  4. [4]Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/; Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  5. [5]Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/
  6. [6]Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  7. [7]Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherrin], “Russia Briefing,” Patreon, June 24, 2023, https://www.patreon.com/posts/russia-briefing-85060327
  8. [8]Julia Ioffe, “Mothers for Putin,” Puck, April 21, 2022, https://puck.news/mothers-for-putin/; Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-do-so-many-russians-say-they-support-the-war-in-ukraine
  9. [9]Robyn Dixon, “Russians snitch on Russians who oppose war with Soviet-style denunciations,” Washington Post, May 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/27/russia-denunciations-arrests-informants-war/
  10. [10]Agence France-Presse, “‘Full chaos’: Over 100,000 Russians flood neighboring countries to flee army call-up,” Times of Israel, September 28, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/full-chaos-over-100000-russians-flood-neighboring-countries-to-flee-army/; Sarah Cahlan et al., “Russians rebel as Putin drafts more people in battle for Ukraine,” Washington Post, September 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/29/russia-putin-mobilization-protests-fury/; 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/; 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/; 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; 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/
  11. [11]Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  12. [12]James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/
  13. [13]Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  14. [14]Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/; Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/; Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  15. [15]Con Coughlin, “Putin is retreating into dangerous fantasies,” Telegraph, June 15, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/15/vladimir-putin-is-retreating-into-dangerous-fantasies/; John Hudson and Dan Lamothe, “Biden shows growing appetite to cross Putin’s red lines,” Washington Post, June 1, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/06/01/ukraine-f-16s-biden-russia-escalation/; James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/; Vazha Tavberidze, “Interview: The ‘War Of Clans For Putin’s Throne Has Begun,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 24, 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-clans-war-russia-interview-succession-ukraine-war/32425962.html; Shaun Walker, “‘Three months ago, this wasn’t possible’: exiled Russians dare to dream of Putin’s fall,” Guardian, June 10, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/10/russia-exiles-life-after-vladimir-putin
  16. [16]Pjotr Sauer, “‘We have already lost’: far-right Russian bloggers slam Kremlin over army response,” Guardian, September 8, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/08/we-have-already-lost-far-right-russian-bloggers-slam-kremlin-over-army-response
  17. [17]James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/
  18. [18]James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/
  19. [19]Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/; Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/; Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/; James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Putin Orders Military to Crush Wagner Power Grab, Calls It Treason,” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  20. [20]Anne Applebaum, “Russia Slides Into Civil War,” Atlantic, June 24, 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/06/russia-civil-war-wagner-putin-coup/674517/
  21. [21]Gabriel Gavin and Christian Oliver, “Kremlin says Prigozhin will depart for Belarus after his rebellion fizzles,” Politico, June 24, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/wagner-group-russia-forces-turn-back-moscow-prigozhin-declares/
  22. [22]James Kilner, “Putin’s aura of invincibility is shattered – and in Russia, weakness is terminal,” Telegraph, June 24, 2023, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/06/24/putin-betrayal-russia-coup-armed-mutiny-wagner-prigozhin/
  23. [23]Kate Aronoff, “Tesla Is Taking Over America’s Charging Stations,” New Republic, June 21, 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/173823/tesla-taking-americas-charging-stations
  24. [24]Kate Aronoff, “Tesla Is Taking Over America’s Charging Stations,” New Republic, June 21, 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/173823/tesla-taking-americas-charging-stations
  25. [25]Akito Tanaka et al., “Toyota bets on solid-state as CATL eyes Thailand,” Financial Times, June 15, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/09e23ac9-f73a-4104-aa2e-33ea48eba67a
  26. [26]Kate Aronoff, “Tesla Is Taking Over America’s Charging Stations,” New Republic, June 21, 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/173823/tesla-taking-americas-charging-stations
  27. [27]Kate Aronoff, “Tesla Is Taking Over America’s Charging Stations,” New Republic, June 21, 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/173823/tesla-taking-americas-charging-stations
  28. [28]Akito Tanaka et al., “Toyota bets on solid-state as CATL eyes Thailand,” Financial Times, June 15, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/09e23ac9-f73a-4104-aa2e-33ea48eba67a

A litigious Donald Trump has worn out his welcome with lawyers

Gilead

Donald Trump


Fig. 1. Donald Trump, depicted in an orange jumpsuit, reportedly by the Drudge, via Mediaite,[1] fair use. Apparently, no mugshot was taken when he was actually arrested over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.[2]

Donald Trump has been in steady litigation for the greater part of his career, and it’s fairly clear he’s the consummate nightmare client: stiffing lawyers, apparently pressuring them to break legal and ethical rules, and gleefully ignoring their advice. There was that time his lawyers told him to refrain from tweeting about the then ongoing Robert Mueller investigation only to have him do it “before they got to the end of the West Wing driveway,” The Washington Post reported. As the legal fallout from the January 6 insurrection started to put a number of Trump lawyers in legal jeopardy of their own, some of them began joking that MAGA actually stood for “making attorneys get attorneys.” Even Trump told Sean Hannity this March: “I say sometimes to a lawyer, ‘Are you sure you want to represent me? I think you’re making a mistake.’”[3]

Jack McCordick, “Donald Trump’s Lawyers: A Guide to the Attorneys Who Signed Up to Defend the Ex-President (And Where They Are Now),” Vanity Fair, June 21, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/06/donald-trump-lawyer-guide

Abortion


Fig. 2. 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.

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer with Caroline Anders and Emily Guskin, “Republicans struggle with abortion one year after Dobbs,” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/23/republicans-struggle-with-abortion-one-year-after-dobbs/

Migration

Robert Barnes and Maria Sacchetti, “Supreme Court says White House can continue to set deportation priorities,” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/23/supreme-court-immigration-deportation-biden/


Neoliberalism

Self-driving cars


Fig. 3. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Russ Mitchell, “San Francisco’s fire chief is fed up with robotaxis that mess with her firetrucks. And L.A. is next,” Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2023-06-22/san-francisco-robotaxis-interfere-with-firetrucks-los-angeles-is-next

Banking

Commercial real estate


Fig. 1. “The iconic Crescent stands as recognizable landmark in the upscale neighborhood of Uptown, Dallas.” Photograph by Dallasedits [pseud.], July 5, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Natalie Wong et al., “The World’s Empty Office Buildings Have Become a Debt Time Bomb,” Bloomberg, June 23, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-06-23/commercial-real-estate-reset-is-causing-distress-from-san-francisco-to-hong-kong


Imperialism

Russia

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,[4] fair use.

It appears Yevgeny Prigozhin may be making his move, possibly because his hand may have been forced before he was ready. He denies it, saying this is not a coup, but rather that he seeks to return ‘justice’ to the Russian defense ministry and the entire country. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.[5]

Russia’s Federal Security Service late Friday announced a criminal case against Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin, accusing him of “incitement to armed rebellion” after he declared an open conflict with Russia’s military leadership and called on Russians to join 25,000 Wagner fighters against Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top commanders.[6]

In a statement issued Friday night, the FSB security agency said it had “legally and reasonably begun criminal proceedings” against the Wagner Group warlord “for the organization of armed insurrection.”[7]

There is no confirmation either of Prigozhin’s claim that the Russian military attacked his forces or that a column of his forces is moving into Rostov, though some evidence for the latter claim is circulating on social media.[8]

Francesca Ebel and Kamila Hrabchuk, “Delivering mail in war-ravaged Ukraine: ‘There are still people living here,’” Washington Post, June 22, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/22/mail-delivery-war-hulyaipole-ukraine/

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/

Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/

Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a


  1. [1]Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/
  2. [2]Sarah D. Wire and Alexandra E. Petri, “Trump charged with 34 felony counts in alleged hush money cover-up case,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2023-04-04/donald-trump-alleged-hush-money-investigation-indictment-arraignment
  3. [3]Jack McCordick, “Donald Trump’s Lawyers: A Guide to the Attorneys Who Signed Up to Defend the Ex-President (And Where They Are Now),” Vanity Fair, June 21, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/06/donald-trump-lawyer-guide
  4. [4]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
  5. [5]Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a
  6. [6]Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/
  7. [7]Gabriel Gavin, Tim Ross, and Zoya Sheftalovich, “Putin in crisis: Wagner chief Prigozhin declares war on Russian military leadership, says ‘we will destroy everything,’” Politico, June 23, 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/putin-in-crisis-as-wagner-chief-prigozhin-declares-war-on-russian-military-leadership/
  8. [8]Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina, “Wagner mercenary boss faces arrest over ‘incitement to armed rebellion,’” Washington Post, June 23, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/23/prigozhin-wagner-mercenary-russia-military/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Wagner Chief on Charges of Mutiny,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shoots-down-russian-cruise-missile-barrage-9d9da03a