Monday, May 16, 2022

Federico Finchelstein, A Brief History of Fascist Lies

At Amazon, Federico Finchelstein, A Brief History of Fascist Lies.

Renaud Camus' 'Le Grand Replacement'

Following-up from yesterday, "Great Replacement Theory."

The New York Times is very interested in this, as noted last night on Twitter.

Here's the newspaper's story from 2019, which bears a lot of similarity with its reporting yesterday on the Buffalo shooter, Payton Gendron (perhaps for political purposes). See, "The Man Behind a Toxic Slogan Promoting White Supremacy":

PLIEUX, France — Though the writer had already lived in his castle for a quarter of a century, it was only three years ago that he finally restored it to its original purpose as a fortress.

The writer, Renaud Camus, rebuilt the top 10 feet of the 14th-century tower, giving him an even more commanding view of his surroundings: the village of 40 souls below; the Pyrenees, faintly visible some 100 miles south despite the midsummer haze; and, in every direction, the peaceful, rolling hills of the “eternal France” that he describes as under assault from what he calls hordes of immigrants.

Up in his castle, the France that Mr. Camus imagines has made him one of the most influential thinkers on the far right in his own country and elsewhere. In his writings, he describes an ongoing “invasion” of France by immigrants bent on “conquest” of its white, European population. To him, the immigrants are “colonizing” France by giving birth to more children and making its cities, towns — and even villages — unlivable.

Others have espoused similar ideas. But Mr. Camus’s portrayal of demographic change — le “grand remplacement,” or the supposed “great replacement” of France’s original population by newer arrivals, mostly from Africa — has become an extremist talking point, cited by mass killers in distant parts of the world.

“It’s a slogan that dramatizes the situation, talking of great replacement the same way we speak of the great barbarian invasions,” said Rudy Reichstadt, an expert on political extremism at the Fondation Jean-Jaurès research institute in Paris. “Now, if you go to a horse race betting bar and talk politics, and you mention the great replacement, people will understand what you mean.”

The idea of the great replacement has directly influenced French politicians and thinkers. Interpreted and repackaged across the internet, it has resonated widely beyond France, including in white supremacist circles.

The men held in two recent mass shootings — at a Walmart in El Paso and at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand — both referred to the “great replacement” and the need to defend white populations against invading outsiders.

While decrying the killings, Mr. Camus said he had no regrets about coming up with the term.

“The great replacement has become a household word,” he said. “I take responsibility for it. I believe in its relevance.”

Stroking his white beard, Mr. Camus, who is not related to the 20th-century writer Albert Camus, sat in his expansive study — half the top floor of his castle filled with books and a handful of African masks. In contrast to the harsh words he chooses to describe France’s immigrants, he spoke softly, and sometimes with the mannerisms of another era. He and his partner of two decades, Pierre, addressed each other as “vous,” though they said they sometimes slipped into the informal “tu.”

Ensconced in his castle in southern France, in a village an hour’s drive across country roads from the nearest train station, Mr. Camus, 73, is perhaps an unlikely source of inspiration for the world’s far right and white supremacists. Until a few years ago, Mr. Camus was known, mainly by other French writers, as a novelist and a pioneering writer of gay literature. An early book about his sexual experiences, called “Tricks,” remains his most translated work.

Growing up in a conservative rural town in central France, Mr. Camus went to Paris in the 1960s and found a niche in the capital’s literary and artistic scene. He befriended Roland Barthes, who wrote the preface for “Tricks.” As a member of the Socialist Party, he became active in politics on the left.

Still, Mr. Camus longed to return to the countryside. He sold his Paris apartment and, in 1992, used the money to buy and restore the castle in Plieux, fulfilling a lifelong fantasy.

A few years after moving to Plieux, he had what he calls an epiphan that would shape his political views. While visiting a 1,000-year-old village in southern France, he said he saw a group of veiled women milling around a fountain.

“And in the ancient windows — beautiful, paired gothic windows — veiled women would appear all of a sudden,” he said. “It was really the population of eternal France that was changing.”

That led to the formation in 2002 of his own political party, l’In-nocence, which calls for an end to all immigration and promotes sending immigrants and their children back to their countries of origin.

But it was a decade later, when he publicly began using the term “great replacement” and wrote a book with the same title, that his influence in France began to be felt.

The great replacement, he wrote, indicates the “replacement of a people, the indigenous French people, by one or others; of its culture by the loss of its cultural identity through multiculturalism.”

He says he sees no contradiction between his earlier life as a gay writer on the left and his current role as an ideological beacon for the right, including violent extremists. He contends he has always told “the hard truths.”

Previous generations of European immigrants had been drawn by “love” for France, he wrote. But the newer arrivals since the 1970s — mostly from France’s former colonies in the Maghreb and in sub-Saharan Africa — didn’t come “as friends.” Instead, he declared, they came as conquerors and colonizers, filled with hatred and a desire to punish France. He singled out Muslims for “not wanting to integrate” into French society...


Buffalo Suspect Peyton Gundron, White Supremacist Spouting 'Great Replacement Theory', Is 'Mainstream Republican'

Rolling Stone's headline, at Memeorandum  "The Buffalo Shooter Isn't a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He's a Mainstream Republican." 

Talking to my wife yesterday, the first thing I said is "Democrat will use this to tar all conservatives as white supremacists." 

Sure, there's going to be a political angle to these things, but it was barely a few minutes after the news breaking that Democrats began viciously smearing conservatives and Republicans is literally accomplices to murder, as mentioned Saturday. I've been out here 15 years blogging, and grave-dancing as soon as a conservative or Republican dies is the most consistently heinous fact about Democrat leftists. It's evil.

I tweeted yesterday:

And at the New York Times, also piling on Rep. Stefanik, "A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P." (via Memorandum)":

Replacement theory, espoused by the suspect in the Buffalo massacre, has been embraced by some right-wing politicians and commentators.

Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.

The next year, another white man, angry over what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.

And in yet another deadly mass shooting, unfolding in Buffalo on Saturday, a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 people after targeting a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side, writing in a lengthy screed posted online that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”

Three shootings, three different targets — but all linked by one sprawling, ever-mutating belief now commonly known as replacement theory. At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence.

But replacement theory, once confined to the digital fever swamps of Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes — of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority — has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations.

By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as “replacers” of white Americans. Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party — spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.

No public figure has promoted replacement theory more loudly or relentlessly than the Fox host Tucker Carlson, who has made elite-led demographic change a central theme of his show since joining Fox’s prime-time lineup in 2016. A Times investigation published this month showed that in more than 400 episodes of his show, Mr. Carlson has amplified the notion that Democratic politicians and other assorted elites want to force demographic change through immigration, and his producers sometimes scoured his show’s raw material from the same dark corners of the internet that the Buffalo suspect did.

“It’s not a pipeline. It’s an open sewer,” said Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was fired in 2020 after defending the network’s decision to call Arizona for then-candidate Joseph R. Biden, and who wrote a forthcoming book on how media outlets stoke anger to build audiences.

“Cable hosts looking for ratings and politicians in search of small-dollar donations can see which stories and narratives are drawing the most intense reactions among addicted users online,” Mr. Stirewalt said. Social media sites and internet forums, he added, are “like a focus group for pure outrage.”

In just the past year, Republican luminaries like Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Georgia congressman, and Elise Stefanik, the center-right New York congresswoman turned Trump acolyte (and third-ranking House Republican), have echoed replacement theory. Appearing on Fox, Mr. Gingrich declared that leftists were attempting to “drown” out “classic Americans.”

In September, Ms. Stefanik released a campaign ad on Facebook claiming that Democrats were plotting “a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION” by granting “amnesty” to illegal immigrants, which her ad said would “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” That same month, after the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group, called on Fox to fire Mr. Carlson, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, stood up both for the TV host and for replacement theory itself.

“@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America,” Mr. Gaetz wrote on Twitter. In a statement after the Buffalo shooting, Mr. Gaetz said that he had “never spoken of replacement theory in terms of race.”

One in three American adults now believe that an effort is underway “to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains,” according to an Associated Press poll released this month. The poll also found that people who mostly watched right-wing media outlets like Fox News, One American News Network and Newsmax were more likely to believe in replacement theory than those who watched CNN or MSNBC.

Underlying all variations of replacement rhetoric is the growing diversity of the United States over the past decade, as the populations of people who identify as Hispanic and Asian surged and the number of people who said they were more than one race more than doubled, according to the Census Bureau.

Democratic politicians have generally been more supportive of immigration than Republicans, especially in the post-Trump era, and have pushed for more humane treatment of migrants and refugees. But the number of immigrants living in the United States illegally, which rose throughout the 1990s and 2000s, first began to decline under President Obama, a Democrat whom critics nicknamed the “deporter-in-chief.” There is no evidence of widespread voting by noncitizens and others who are ineligible. And while Mr. Biden has laid out plans to expand legal immigration, federal agencies have expelled more than 1.3 million migrants at the southwest border on his watch, while continuing some of the more restrictive immigration policies begun by former President Trump.

Throughout his presidency, Mr. Trump filled his public speeches and Twitter feed with often inflammatory, sometimes false rhetoric about immigrants, and he employed the term “invaders” in arguing for a border wall. Such language has been more broadly adopted by his most ardent supporters, such as Wendy Rogers, an Arizona state senator, who last summer said on Twitter, “We are being replaced and invaded” by illegal immigrants...


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Renaud Camus, You Will Not Replace Us!

At Amazon, Renaud Camus, "You Will Not Replace Us!"

Great Replacement Theory

You'll be hearing more of this "great replacement theory" in the days ahead. It's not a conspiracy as much as a real theory that can be tested against evidence. Cathy Young, for example, debunks it, here: "The Replacement Theory -- And Terrorist Practice" (Via Memeorandum). 

The American Mind, the popular "national conservatism" website, defends the theory here: "Replace the Ruling Class," and "Shaping the Perfect Subjects: The managerial class wants to replace America’s core demographic with one it can more easily control."

Fox News --- and Trucker Carlson in particular --- have come under heavy fire since the killings. I quit watching his show, but obviously the Democrat Party's open borders policies are predicated on the supply a steady stream of illegal alien public welfare supplicants to build a permanent leftist-socialist-immigrant voting coalition. 

I did catch this segment at the time, last year, featuring Mark Styen (with video snippets of Tucker). Good times, heh:

Payton Gendron, 18-Year-Old White Supremacist, Massacres 10 in Buffalo Supermarket Racist Attack (VIDEO)

Most everyone has heard about Buffalo race murders by now.

Payton Gendron has pleaded not guilty in the attack. I've searched for the racist "Great Replacement" manifesto the shooter posted online, but it's been scrubbed. Posted in Google docs, the Google information overlords removed it within minutes of posting. The shooter fitted a Go Pro camera to his helmet and live streamed it on Twitch, which was also immediately taken down.

The left's diabolical partisan political exploitation of the murders was instantaneous. No surprise there, but more disgusting than ever. I scolded Joe Lockhart and Soledad O'Brien here and here.

Gendron killed a black security guard --- recently retired as a police officer of 30 years --- in a brief shootout.

The latest is at Buffalo News, "Community holds vigil, protests in wake of racially motivated mass shooting."

The main story's at morning newsletter from the New York Times, "Good morning. A massacre at a Buffalo supermarket was the deadliest in the U.S. this year":

A gunman embracing a white supremacist ideology opened fire yesterday afternoon at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three more. The mass shooting was the deadliest in the United States this year and among a spate of racist attacks in recent years.

The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, 18, had driven more than 200 miles to stage the attack, and he livestreamed it as he fired at shoppers and store employees. He was arrested at the store and pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance.

Around the same time, a manifesto attributed to him appeared online, repeatedly invoking the racist idea that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color. The view is known as “replacement theory” and was once linked to the far-right fringe, but it has become increasingly mainstream.

Among the victims were a security guard and an 86-year-old mother of four who had stopped at the store on her way home from visiting her husband at the nursing home where he lives.

How the shooting unfolded Around 2:30 p.m., as shoppers filled the Tops supermarket, the suspect arrived wearing body armor, tactical gear and a helmet with a video camera attached. He carried an assault rifle with an anti-Black slur written on the barrel and began firing in the parking lot. Three victims were killed outside, and one was wounded.

Then the suspect went inside the store to continue his attack, briefly exchanging fire with the security guard before killing him. He went on to stalk victims throughout the store; “bodies were everywhere,” one witness said.

Shonnell Harris, a store manager, told The Buffalo News that she heard an estimated 70 shots and ran through the Tops, repeatedly falling down before escaping out back.

The gunman eventually returned to the front of the store. By then, the police had arrived, and he briefly put a gun to his neck before he began removing tactical gear as a form of surrender and the police tackled him.

The victims Of the 13 people who were shot, 11 were Black and two were white. Four worked at the Tops grocery. Few have been publicly identified.

The security guard who was killed was a former police officer — “a hero in our eyes,” said Joseph A. Gramaglia, the Buffalo police commissioner.

Ruth Whitfield, 86, was a mother of four and “a mother to the motherless,” her son told The News. Her husband had moved into a nursing home years ago and she still visited every day. She had just visited him when she stopped at Tops to get something to eat, WGRZ reported.

The suspect

The attack appeared to be inspired by earlier mass shootings motivated by racial hatred, including a 2019 mosque shooting in New Zealand and a massacre at a Texas Walmart that same year, according to the manifesto.

In chilling detail, the document outlined a plan to kill as many Black people as possible, including the type of gun to use, a timeline, a specific parking spot and where to eat ahead of time.

Gendron wrote that he chose the area of the supermarket because it was home to the largest percentage of Black residents near his home in New York’s largely white Southern Tier. The police had surrounded his home outside Binghamton, N.Y., overnight.

“It was a straight up racially motivated hate crime,” said John Garcia, the local sheriff.

Federal law enforcement officials said they were investigating the shooting as a hate crime. The next court proceeding was set for Thursday.

More at Memorandum.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Andrew L. Urban and Chris McLeod, Zelensky

At Amazon, Andrew L. Urban and Chris McLeod, Zelensky: The Unlikely Ukrainian Hero Who Defied Putin and United the World.

Democrats' Electability Argument Falling Flat in 2022

From Amy Walter, at the Cook Report:

For the last six years, the one thing that has kept the Democratic Party unified and motivated is Donald Trump. Fear and loathing got Democrats to turn out in the 2018 midterms, and kept those voters engaged in 2020. Sure, the party was divided ideologically and generationally, with liberals and younger voters flocking to the Bernie Sanders wing and older, Black and more moderate Democrats sticking with Joe Biden. But, at the end of the day, both sides understood that the most important and existential issue was defeating Trump.

This strategy for the 2018 midterms was summarized best by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's slogan of "Just win, baby." Primaries were for picking the candidates who could win these swing CDs, not for intra-party ideological warfare. In 2020, Democrats rallied behind the more centrist Biden simply because they believed he provided Democrats the best chance to beat Trump that fall.

But, with Trump no longer in the White House and Biden's approval ratings underwater, the electability message is falling flat in Democratic primaries. In 2018, Democratic candidates prevailed in GOP-leaning CDs by leaning into a message of bipartisanship. Today, however, a restive Democratic base, discouraged by a lack of action on many of their key issues (like climate and student loan debt), and frustrated by GOP attacks on issues like abortion and election integrity, want fighters, not unifiers as their candidates...



Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Josh Weidmann, The End of Anxiety

At Amazon, Josh Weidmann, The End of Anxiety: The Biblical Prescription for Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Panic.


Black Sabbath. So classic.  

For Harvard Crimson's Editorial Board, Facts Are for Losers

It's Dara Horn, at Bari Weiss's Substack, "It turns out that nobody’s SAT scores can provide immunity to propaganda":

Twenty-five years later, I still remember the theatrics involved with becoming an editor at the Harvard Crimson, the newspaper produced by Harvard undergraduates every day for the past century and a half. The newspaper’s office had a room upstairs called the Sanctum, so named because only those who had jumped through the paper’s prescribed journalistic hoops were allowed to enter—and then only for Sunday night editorial meetings, at which the coming week’s worth of unsigned editorials were debated and approved under strict secrecy. Newly minted editors were welcomed into the room with the question, “What are your politics?” One’s answer determined the side of the room where one would sit for these debates.

Many participants cared deeply about these discussions—though this being the 1990s, many more didn’t, and attended mainly for the fun of it. My peers were largely the children of baby-boomer parents who had morphed from flag-burning hippies to mall-hopping yuppies; Gen Xers like us took people’s self-important opinions with a very large grain of salt. In the Sanctum, I sat on the left by vague default, but didn’t attach much meaning to it. I was far from alone: A good number of editors didn’t even bother to remain on their side of the Sanctum, instead simply choosing the comfiest chairs.

When I later became one of the editors responsible for drafting each week’s worth of unsigned opinions about subjects like university workers’ strikes, affirmative action, and the Clinton impeachment, I learned that the only real sign of success was to say something interesting enough to generate a dissent. The only way to do that, of course, was to marshal the facts and explain why they mattered. When an editorial prompted other editors to write a dissent objecting to it—about, for instance, a campus visit by China’s then-premier—it was the ultimate compliment. You’d actually had something to say.

I hadn’t thought about any of this for ages. My work as a writer for the past 20 years has been almost entirely solitary; none of my books involved convincing a roomful of people of my point of view. But I was reminded of this ancient student ritual last week when my phone blew up with messages from dozens of irate former Crimson editors, including many actual journalists, a group of alumni going back several decades.

The current Crimson editorial board, in a somewhat modified version of the procedures I remembered, had just published an unsigned editorial fully endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, reversing its position from two years earlier. There was no official editorial dissent. Afterward, copies of this editorial were posted publicly in undergraduate dining halls, just in case anyone missed it.

The BDS movement, as it’s known, is old news on college campuses and elsewhere; it’s been around long enough that it no longer bothers to hide its goal of eliminating the world’s only Jewish state. But I had to hand it to The Crimson for timing, given that the editorial followed several weeks of terror attacks in Israel during which 15 people were stabbed, shot and car-rammed to death while engaging in such provocative behaviors as drinking at a bar or walking down the street...

Keep reading

The Crimson editorial is outrageous, though not surprising. 

Read it here: "In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine."

And see, "The Crimson Faces Backlash Over Editorial Endorsing BDS Movement," and "To the Editor: From Six Crimson Alumni In Regard to BDS."

Duke Graduation Speaker 'Surprised' That Some Passages From Her Speech Were Taken From a Recent Commencement Speech at Harvard (VIDEO)

So surprising. *Eye-roll.*

If you plagiarize you're going to get caught. I catch a number of students plaigarizing every semester, and this is on simple assigned essays, not research papers. Students probably spend more time scouring the web than actually writing a four-page think piece. Sadly, even scraping stuff straight from Wikipedia is a thing. Even more sadly: When I notify my dean she does nothing but to tell me, "let this be a lesson for the student." 


In other words, cheat, violate written college rules and ethical standards --- for which in the past a students could be suspended or expelled --- and get off scot-free. Not so fast, I say. I'll give the student a "0" on the assignment, and they can complain all they want. A plagiarized paper is worth nothing. *Sigh.*

At WSJ, "Duke Commencement Speaker Takes ‘Full Responsibility’ After Similarities in Speech Spark University Probe":

Parts of her speech included passages similar to those in a 2014 Harvard graduation speech; Duke says it is investigating the matter.

A Duke University student said she is taking “full responsibility” for parts of her commencement speech that included passages similar to those in a Harvard University graduation speech years ago, prompting a university probe.

Undergraduate commencement speaker Priya Parkash spoke to her fellow classmates at Duke’s graduation ceremony on Sunday. The following day the Duke Chronicle—the university’s student newspaper—reported that several passages of Ms. Parkash’s speech were similar to that of a Harvard speech in 2014 given by then-student Sarah Abushaar. Duke is investigating the matter, a spokesman said.

A public-relations representative for Ms. Parkash said in an interview that she incorporated ideas for passages provided by friends without researching if they had been used previously. She didn’t find out until after the speech that those passages had come from a speech given at Harvard, her spokesman said.

“I was embarrassed and confused to find out too late that some of the suggested passages were taken from a recent commencement speech at another university,” Ms. Parkash said in an earlier statement provided through the PR firm. “I take full responsibility for this oversight and I regret if this incident has in any way distracted from the accomplishments of the Duke Class of 2022.”

Michael Schoenfeld, a spokesman for Duke, said the university is aware of the allegations and has “initiated a process to understand the facts of the situation.”

“Duke University expects all students to abide by their commitment to the Duke Community Standard in everything they do as students,” he said.

Parts of Ms. Parkash’s speech were similar to passages from Harvard undergraduate speaker Ms. Abushaar’s 2014 commencement address, with references to Harvard swapped for Duke.

Ms. Abushaar didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In her speech, Ms. Parkash spoke about her experience being Pakistani and going through airport security checkpoints, wearing Duke gear as a way to prove she wasn’t a threat. Ms. Abushaar made similar comments about going through airport security as a Middle Easterner in Harvard attire.

Both speakers joked about how their respective campuses could be their own independent countries.

“We had our own version of the Statue of Liberty, the John Harvard statue; our own embassies, the Harvard clubs of Boston and London; a tax collection agency, the Harvard Alumni Association; and endowment larger than more than half the world’s countries GDPs,” Ms. Abushaar said in her 2014 speech.

In Ms. Parkash’s speech on Sunday, she said, “We are home to several consulates…we also have our own version of Christ the Redeemer, the statue of James Buchanan Duke…we also have an IRS with its surprisingly bubbly fleet of tax collectors, the Duke Alumni Association; we also have the equivalent of the Federal Reserve, DUMAC, which manages an endowment larger than the GDP of one-third of the countries in the world”...

Yep. You can see that comparison at the video above.


Biden's Incoming Press Secretary Laughs When Asked Who Is Handling Baby Formula Crisis

From Katie Pavlich, at Townhall, "Incoming White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked onboard Air Force One Wednesday afternoon about the ongoing baby formula shortage rattling American parents."

Hilary Duff Poses Nude for Women's Health

There were some hilarious tweets last night. 

From Kathleen McKinley, for one, "I’m so glad she is at peace with this hideous body."

At Women's Health, "Hilary Duff Is Seeing The Light":

The actress spent years trying to live up to Hollywood’s standards. Now she’s focused on what makes her feel happy and whole and content—on the inside.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Geoffrey Wawro, The Franco-Prussian War

 At Amazon, Geoffrey Wawro, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871.

How Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot Escaped Russia (VIDEO)

I don't listen to this band. Not particularly to my tastes, though your mileage may vary.

I like their rebellious politics though. Frankly, what other politics could they have in Putin's Russia?

There new music video is here, "Hate Fuck." 

At the New York Times, "Leader of Pussy Riot Band Escapes Russia, With Help From Friends":

After more than a decade of activism, Maria Alyokhina disguised herself as a food courier to evade the police — and a widening crackdown by President Vladimir Putin.

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Maria V. Alyokhina first came to the attention of the Russian authorities — and the world — when her punk band and performance art group Pussy Riot staged a protest against President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

For that act of rebellion in 2012, she was sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism.” She remained determined to fight Mr. Putin’s system of repression, even after being jailed six more times since last summer, each stint for 15 days, always on trumped-up charges aimed at stifling her political activism.

But in April, as Mr. Putin cracked down harder to snuff out any criticism of his war in Ukraine, the authorities announced that her effective house arrest would be converted to 21 days in a penal colony. She decided it was time to leave Russia — at least temporarily — and disguised herself as a food courier to evade the Moscow police who had been staking out the friend’s apartment where she was staying. She left her cellphone behind as a decoy and to avoid being tracked.

A friend drove her to the border with Belarus, and it took her a week to cross into Lithuania. In a studio apartment in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, she agreed to an interview to describe a dissident’s harrowing escape from Mr. Putin’s Russia.

“I was happy that I made it, because it was an unpredictable and big” kiss-off to the Russian authorities, Ms. Alyokhina said, using a less polite term. “I still don’t understand completely what I’ve done,” she admitted, dressed in black except for a fanny pack with a rainbow belt.

Ms. Alyokhina, 33, has spent her entire adult life fighting for her country to respect its own Constitution and the most basic human rights, like freedom of expression. After being freed early from prison in December 2013, she and another member of Pussy Riot founded Mediazona, an independent news outlet focused on crime and punishment in Russia.

She also wrote a memoir, “Riot Days,” and traveled internationally performing a show based on the book. Though her dream was to tour with it in Russia, only three venues agreed to host the show, and all faced repercussions.

Ms. Alyokhina was committed to remaining in Russia despite regular surveillance and pressure from the authorities. But now she has joined the tens of thousands of Russians who have fled since the invasion of Ukraine.

Alyokhina, whose friends call her Masha, had bitten her nails down to stubs, and she puffed almost unceasingly on a vape or on Marlboro Lights. She made the journey in black, three-inch platform boots without laces — a nod to her many stints in jail, where shoelaces are confiscated.

In prison, she and others instead threaded moist towelettes through the eyelets of their shoes to keep them on. As a statement, she and other members of Pussy Riot will wear them while they perform during a tour, starting on May 12 in Berlin, to raise money for Ukraine.

When it first began more than a decade ago, Pussy Riot seemed as much publicity stunt as political activism. But if their protest in the Moscow cathedral — where they sang a “Punk Prayer” ridiculing the symbiosis that had developed between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin — seemed overwrought at the time, today it appears prescient.

The church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, recently blessed Russian troops going to Ukraine, and the European Union put his name on a proposed list of people to be sanctioned.

Exactly 10 years to the day after the cathedral protest, Mr. Putin delivered a ranting speech in which he called Ukraine a country “created by Russia,” laying the groundwork for his invasion.

Ms. Alyokhina listened to the speech on the radio from a jail cell. The invasion, she said, had changed everything, not just for her, but for her country.

“I don’t think Russia has a right to exist anymore,” she said. “Even before, there were questions about how it is united, by what values it is united, and where it is going. But now I don’t think that is a question anymore.”

During the interview she was surrounded by other members of the group, now a collective with about a dozen members. Most of them had also recently fled Russia, including her girlfriend, Lucy Shtein.

Ms. Shtein had chosen to leave Russia a month before, also evading restrictions on her movement by sneaking out in a delivery-service uniform. Her decision came after someone posted a sign on the door of the apartment she shared with Ms. Alyokhina accusing them of being traitors...

Keep reading.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Douglas Murray, The War on the West

At Amazon, Douglas Murray, The War on the West.

'The Way'

Here's Fastball:

Twitter, the Supreme Court, the Progressive Revolution

From Caroline Glick, at the Jewish News Syndicate, "As long as revolutionary progressives maintain their control over key U.S. national institutions, Republican election victories will be insufficient to save the U.S. and restore liberty to its citizens":

May 8, 2022 / JNS) America is in the throes of a revolution. As historian Victor Davis Hanson has noted, progressives now control nearly every national institution. They control Wall Street, Silicon Valley, universities, local school boards, the teachers’ unions, the entertainment industry, the vast majority of the media, the Justice Department, the FBI and the U.S. military, and currently, the White House and both houses of Congress.

Progressives use their control over these institutions to change both the character of the United States and the rules of the game in a manner that will enable them to perpetuate their power regardless of the sentiments of the American people.

Progressives are rewriting American history. They are taking aim at God and believers, and at the nuclear family, while indoctrinating children against their families and their country. There is no area of human endeavor that progressives have not politicized.

One of the last national institutions where the conservatives hold sway is the Supreme Court. And last Monday, the Supreme Court came under a malicious assault whose clear goal is to subvert its independence. In a move without precedent in U.S. history, Politico published a draft Supreme Court decision written by Justice Samuel Alito. Alito is a member of the Court’s conservative majority.

Today’s Supreme Court comprises five conservatives, one centrist and three progressives. Alito’s draft explained why the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which removed the power of states to determine the legality of pregnancy termination, making abortions legal nationwide, was unconstitutional and overturned it. If Alito’s decision, which is supported by his fellow conservative justices, becomes final, the power to determine the legality of pregnancy termination will devolve back to the individual states.

Second, the leaker sought to incite righteous rage among progressives, that will pressure the two remaining moderates in the Democratic majority in the Senate to vote to abrogate the Senate filibuster. By preventing Republicans from using the filibuster, the razor-thin Democrat majority will be able to ram through radical legislation ahead of their expected losses in the congressional elections in November.

Among other things, unfettered by the filibuster, progressives will be able to expand the number of justices on the Court from nine to 15. And if they move fast enough, President Joe Biden will be able to pack the court with an additional six progressive justices and thus effectively seize permanent control of the high court.

As for those elections, all major polls foresee progressives suffering crushing, historic defeats in both houses. Until Obama’s presidency, when progressives seized control of the Democrat Party, polls like the current ones would have compelled the Democrats to abandon their progressive policies and make a ninety-degree turn to the center. But today, every demonstration of public opposition to progressive policies convinces progressive revolutionaries to double down. When last year parents began protesting anti-American, racist and increasingly pornographic indoctrination of their children in K-12 schools, Attorney General Merrick Garland instructed the FBI to treat protesting parents like “domestic terrorists.”

Progressive-controlled state and local governments have responded to public outcries against skyrocketing crime rates by passing laws banning pre-trial detention and bail, sending violent criminals back on the streets.

In every sphere of public endeavor, progressive politicians, bureaucrats and activists have met public opposition and protest with tyranny and rebuke.

One of the main weapons in the progressive arsenal is disinformation—the deliberate distortion of information to advance an agenda...

This disinformation campaign brings us to Twitter, the social media platform purchased last month by Elon Musk, the world’s richest man. Over the past decade, Twitter became the social media network with the largest influence on the public discourse. No self-respecting journalist, activist or policymaker can afford not to have an active account.

Twenty years ago, the internet and the social media platforms it generated became the largest free market of ideas in human history. They were also the engine for political victories for conservative politicians in the United States. For the first time, the internet gave conservative candidates the ability to communicate directly with voters, without the mediation of liberal/progressive media behemoths. All of this began to change during Obama’s presidency, as more and more conservative voices suffered a spectrum of sanctions, from shadow bans, which blocked their audience from seeing what they were posting, to banishment from Facebook and other social media platforms.

The process accelerated and became more extreme in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

Trump’s victory was a grave embarrassment for the Silicon Valley oligarchs. Clinton blamed them for her loss. Her basic claim was that had Facebook, Twitter and Google not permitted the Trump campaign more or less the same use of their platforms as they ostensibly offer everyone, Trump would not have won. As Clinton and her supporters put it, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and their colleagues were supposed to prevent Trump and his supporters from “disseminating disinformation,” that is, campaign materials, on their platforms. Freedom of expression, Clinton and her supporters insisted, wasn’t for everyone.

Chastened, to prevent Trump’s reelection in 2020, Zuckerberg donated $340 million to election non-profit groups he founded for the purpose of increasing Democrat vote numbers in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia. At the same time, Facebook and Twitter initiated a censorship campaign against Trump and his supporters the likes of which no one had ever experienced.

That censorship campaign reached its height weeks before the election, when the New York Post published the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. President Joe Biden’s son, a crack addict, had abandoned his laptop in a repair shop in Delaware. After his efforts to return the laptop were unsuccessful, the owner of the store turned its contents over to the FBI because the computer contained evidence that Biden and his family may have committed several felonies.

At a minimum, the contents of the laptop exposed that Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from foreign firms with direct ties to the Chinese, Ukrainian and Russian governments. Hunter Biden seemed to implicate his father in the influence-peddling operations in several of his emails.

The Post story was explosive because it was entirely true. It was Hunter Biden’s laptop. All the details of the deals were authentic. They exposed a web of influence peddling with hostile governments that made clear that Biden and his family were ripe for extortion by those governments. Yet, rather than allow their platforms to be used to inform the American people of this information, Twitter led the way in preventing the public from hearing about it. Twitter de-platformed the New York Post and private users who dared to link to the story. Facebook followed suit. Fifty retired U.S. intelligence and security chiefs proclaimed the story was “Russian disinformation.”

It took a year for the New York Times and Washington Post to admit that the laptop was indeed Hunter Biden’s laptop and that the New York Post stories were entirely true. In the meantime, in the name of fighting “disinformation,” Twitter, Facebook, Google and other internet giants had denied the American people access to information that, as post-election polls made clear, would have swung the election in Trump’s favor.

Since its first days in office, the Biden administration has openly pressured technology giants to increase their censorship and block conservative voices, claiming that such silencing and suppression is necessary to fight racism and fake news...


Anthony Giddens, The Nation-State and Violence

At Amazon Anthony Giddens, The Nation-State and Violence.


She's on Instagram.

Some lady too sexy for Instagram, on Twitter.

Plus, Anya Taylor-Joy.

Roe v. Wade Abortion Leak May Upend Congressional Midterms in Orange County

There's a lot of competitive seats around here. 

I doubt the shift of women voters will that substantial in South Orange County (think Dana Point, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Mission Viejo, etc.), but up North --- in very ethnically diverse areas like Anaheim and Santa Ana --- I can see a huge mobilization of women shifting their preferences to pro-choice Democrats. 

In 2020, Buena Park Republican Congresswoman Michelle Lee won the 48th Congressional district at 51 percent of the vote. That's razor thin. Seats like this may flip back to the Democrats in November, and it may be thanks to women voters riled up over Roe v. Wade

At the Los Angeles Times,"Galvanized by abortion fight, Orange County women could upend congressional races":

The Supreme Court’s expected decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade could galvanize Democrats and turn some reliable Republican voters — especially women — blue, according to polls and interviews. It’s a small bit of hope for Democrats, who are widely expected to lose control of Congress in this year’s election.

Polling shows that women are more likely than men to consider a candidate’s position on abortion when deciding how to vote. Women who are college graduates are also more supportive of abortion rights.

These college-educated women could be pivotal in congressional races in Orange County, where they make up more than 40% of voters — as well as in contests in similar swaths of the nation, such as the suburbs of Atlanta and Phoenix, said Mike Madrid, a GOP consultant who favors abortion rights.

The landmark 1973 court ruling asserted a constitutional right for a woman to have an abortion. If the decision is reversed as detailed in a draft opinion leaked last week, abortion would be inaccessible in roughly half the 50 U.S. states.

Overturning Roe could be “an earthquake” that upends the political leanings of suburban women, said Madrid, who has studied that voter bloc for years.

“This is a really discerning, sophisticated, informed voter that knows exactly what they are voting for. They’re voting really strategically,” he said. “They are voting against extremes. They are not voting ideologically.”

Danielle Sams, 37, typically votes Republican, including for President Trump in 2020. After hearing of the likely end of Roe vs. Wade, the registered nurse said candidates’ views on abortion could influence her votes.

“I am a ‘my body, my choice’ person because I work in healthcare. I believe in being able to choose,” Sams said as her 2-year-old played on a scooter near the Seal Beach Pier.

Sams, who is registered as a nonpartisan voter, lives in Seal Beach, which is in one of four primarily Orange County congressional districts that are expected to be among the most competitive in this year’s midterm election.

While these races are unlikely to determine which party controls Congress, they will help decide the margin, and therefore the degree of power the GOP wields...

Still more.


WATCH: President Volodymyr Zelensky Video Statement Marking Allied Victory in Europe in 1945

Yesterday. A big day for propaganda and statesmanship.

The full speech is here: "Zelensky releases video on day of remembrance: 'We hear "never again" differently'."

And at the New York Times, "Both Sides Harden Positions on Anniversary of Nazi Defeat in Europe":

PARIS — On a day of commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe, the war in Ukraine was marked by posturing and signaling on Sunday, as each side ramped up its rhetoric and resolve.

Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies vowed to end their dependence on Russian energy and ensure that Russia does not triumph in its “unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal aggression,” as President Vladimir V. Putin pursued his indiscriminate bombardment of eastern Ukraine and orchestrated celebrations for Russia’s Victory Day holiday on Monday.

A statement by the Group of 7 major industrialized nations said that on a day when Europe recalled the devastation of World War II and its millions of victims, including those from the Soviet Union, Mr. Putin’s “actions bring shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.”

The leaders, signaling to Mr. Putin that their unrelenting support of Ukraine would only grow, said, “We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine.” The memory of all those who fought for freedom in World War II, the statement said, obliged them “to continue fighting for it today.”

The tone was firm, with no mention of any potential diplomacy or cease-fire.

In Moscow, as fighter jets streaked across the sky and nuclear weapons were put on display in preparation for Victory Day, Mr. Putin appeared to signal back to Western leaders that he was determined to double down on the war until he could conjure something that might be claimed as victory.

There was fresh evidence of that on Sunday, as rescuers picked through the rubble in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine where a Russian bomb had flattened a school building the day before, killing people sheltering there, local authorities said.

“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. But it was unclear how many people were in fact in the school and that toll may prove inflated. If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest single Russian attacks since the war began in February.

Despite the World War II commemorations in most of Europe on Sunday and in Russia on Monday, a painful reminder of the tens of millions of people killed, there was no indication that the war in Ukraine was anywhere near ending. If anything, all signals pointed in the opposite direction. Russian attacks on Ukrainian towns and villages met a crescendo of Western rhetoric, accompanied by the constant danger of escalation.

Mr. Putin, whose steady militarization of Russian society in recent years has turned the May 9 celebration of the Soviet defeat of the Nazis into an annual apotheosis of a resurgent nation’s might, is expected to portray a war of repeated setbacks in Ukraine as a successful drive to “de-Nazify” a neighboring nation whose very existence he denies.

His much-anticipated speech may go further, possibly signaling that whatever conquest in Ukraine there has been up to now will become permanent through annexation. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and began stirring military conflict in the eastern Donbas region...

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine released a black-and-white video address on Sunday marking the Allied victory in 1945. Standing in front of a destroyed apartment block in a Kyiv suburb hit hard by Russian troops before their withdrawal from the region around the capital, he said, “We pay our respect to everyone who defended the planet against Nazism during World War II.”

Mr. Putin has portrayed Mr. Zelensky, who is Jewish, as the leader of a nation threatening Russia with revived Nazism. His aim has been to instill the spirit of the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is known in Russia, among Russian troops, but to little apparent avail.

In the vast Azovstal steel mill that is the last remaining part of Mariupol not under Russian control, Ukrainian troops again rejected Russian deadlines to surrender. In a virtual news conference, Lt. Illya Samoilenko, an officer in a Ukrainian National Guard battalion known as the Azov regiment, said: “We are basically dead men. Most of us know this. That is why we fight.”

Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of the regiment, said, “We don’t have much time, we are under constant shelling,” with attacks from Russian tanks, artillery, airplanes and snipers.

The remaining civilians in the steel plant were evacuated on Saturday. Local officials estimate the death toll in the city at over 20,000...

Keep reading.


Friday, May 6, 2022

Dorothy Roberts, Torn Apart

At Amazon, Dorothy Roberts, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World

Disinformation Governance Board

The funniest thing about this is I engaged this lady on Twitter a while back, not knowing a thing about all the crazy information on her. 

The next you know she's appointed as the White House Disinformation Czar, after having a looong record of spreading insane disnfo herself.

Glenn Greenwald has it, "Homeland Security's 'Disinformation Board' is Even More Pernicious Than it Seems":

The power to decree what is "disinformation" now determines what can and cannot be discussed on the internet. It is now in the hands of trained disinformation agents of the U.S. Security State.

The most egregious and blatant official U.S. disinformation campaign in years took place three weeks before the 2020 presidential election. That was when dozens of former intelligence officials purported, in an open letter, to believe that authentic emails regarding Joe Biden's activities in China and Ukraine, reported by The New York Post, were "Russian disinformation.” That quasi-official proclamation enabled liberal corporate media outlets to uncritically mock and then ignore those emails as Kremlin-created fakes, and it pressured Big Tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to censor the reporting at exactly the time Americans were preparing to decide who would be the next U.S. president.

The letter from these former intelligence officials was orchestrated by trained career liars — disinformation agents — such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Yet that letter was nonetheless crucial to discredit and ultimately suppress the New York Post's incriminating reporting on Biden. It provided a quasi-official imprimatur — something that could be depicted as an authoritative decree — that these authentic emails were, in fact, fraudulent.

After all, if all of these noble and heroic intelligence operatives who spent their lives studying Russian disinformation were insisting that the Biden emails had all of the "hallmarks" of Kremlin treachery, who possessed the credibility to dispute their expert assessment? This clip from the media leader in spreading this CIA pre-election lie — CNN — features their national security analyst James Clapper, and it illustrates how vital this pretense of officialdom was in their deceitful disinformation campaign...

This same strategic motive — to vest accusations of “disinformation” with the veneer of expertise — is what has fostered a new, very well-financed industry heralding itself as composed of “anti-disinformation" scholars. Knowing that Americans are inculcated from childhood to believe that censorship is nefarious — that it is the hallmark of tyranny — those who wish to censor need to find some ennobling rationale to justify it and disguise what it is.

They have thus created a litany of neutral-sounding groups with benign names — The Atlantic Council, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, various "fact-checking” outfits controlled by corporate media outlets — that claim to employ “anti-disinformation experts” to identify and combat fake news. Just as media corporations re-branded their partisan pundits as "fact-checkers" -- to masquerade their opinions as elevated, apolitical, authoritative decrees of expertise -- the term "disinformation expert" is designed to disguise ideological views on behalf of state and corporate power centers as Official Truth...

This scam is the critical context for understanding why the Biden Administration casually announced last week the creation of what it is calling a "Disinformation Board” inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There is no conceivable circumstance in which a domestic law enforcement agency like DHS should be claiming the power to decree truth and falsity. Operatives in the U.S. Security State are not devoted to combatting disinformation. The opposite is true: they are trained, career liars tasked with concocting and spreading disinformation. As Politico's Jack Schafer wrote:

Who among us thinks the government should add to its work list the job of determining what is true and what is disinformation? And who thinks the government is capable of telling the truth? Our government produces lies and disinformation at industrial scale and always has. It overclassifies vital information to block its own citizens from becoming any the wiser. It pays thousands of press aides to play hide the salami with facts….Making the federal government the official custodian of truth would be like Brink’s giving a safe-cracker a job driving an armored car.

The purpose of Homeland Security agents is to propagandize and deceive, not enlighten and inform. The level of historical ignorance and stupidity required to believe that U.S. Security State operatives are earnestly devoted to exposing and decreeing truth — as CNN's Brian Stelter evidently believes, given that he praised this new government program as “common sense” — is off the charts. As Jameel Jaffer, formerly of the ACLU and now with the Columbia’s Knight First Amendment Institute put it, most troubling is “the fact that the board is housed at DHS, an especially opaque agency that has run roughshod over civil liberties in the past.”

Typically, any attempt to apply George Orwell's warning novel 1984 to U.S. politics is reflexively dismissed as hyperbolic: a free and democratic country like the United States could not possibly fall prey to the dystopian repression Orwell depicts. Yet it is quite difficult to distinguish this “Disinformation Board” from Ingsoc's Ministry of Truth. The protagonist of Orwell's novel, Winston Smith, worked in the Ministry of Truth and described at length how its primary function was to create official versions of truth and falsity, which always adhered to the government's needs of the moment and were subject to radical change as those interests evolved.

That the Board will be run by such a preposterous and laughable figure as Nina Jankowicz — a liberal cartoon, a caricature of a #Resistance Twitter fanatic who spent 2016 posting adolescent partisan tripe such as: “Maybe @HillaryClinton's most important point so far: ‘A @realDonaldTrump presidency would embolden ISIS.’ #ImWithHer” — has, in some sense, made this board seem more benign and harmless. After all, how nefarious and dangerous can a board be when it is governed by a person as frivolous and banal as this, calling herself “the Mary Poppins of disinformation”? But just as banality can be a vehicle for evil, it can also be a vehicle for repression and tyrannical control. Jankowicz, reacting with horror to Elon Musk's vow to restore a modicum of free speech to the internet, just last week on NPR touted the virtues of censorship: "I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities ... which are already shouldering ... disproportionate amounts of this abuse," she said.

Her just-released book, entitled “How to Be A Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back,” is full of justifications for online censorship. Last year, she condemned me and Fox News host Tucker Carlson as “disgusting” for the crime of criticizing the fabrications of then-New York Times front-page reporter Taylor Lorenz, on the ground that powerful professional women (with the right political ideology) must not be criticized because such accountability results in harassment...


New York Times Reporter: Studies Show That School Closings Seriously Harmed Children -- And Were Driven By Partisan Democrat Politics

At AoSHQ, "We knew both of these. It's a bit shocking that the second is being admitted.... by the New York Times, of all partisan propaganda mills."

Not Much Change in Midterm Elections Outlook After Supreme Court Leak, Poll Finds

I've been saying this to folks on Twitter since Monday. 

Come November, inflation and the economy will remain the number one issue. Abortion rights may play a factor in a few tight races in competitive districts, but if anything, the outrage at the leak just reinforces existing political polarization. Coastal, urban districts aren't likely to be Republican in any case, and deep red rural areas are likely to be Democrat.

I'll have more on this, of course.

At CNN, "The Supreme Court’s draft opinion on Roe v. Wade hasn’t shaken the midterm landscape":

Republicans hold a narrow edge over Democrats on the generic ballot test, 49% to 42% among registered voters, a slight improvement for Republicans compared with the poll conducted immediately before the ruling. On the economy – the issue most likely to be a driving factor for voters this fall – nearly half of adults (46%) in the latest poll say the Republican Party’s positions are more aligned with their own, compared with 31% for the Democratic Party. About three-quarters say that which party controls Congress makes a real difference – a figure that did not shift between the two polls – with more Republicans saying so than Democrats (88% vs. 78%).

Those findings suggest the overall picture for the midterm elections is little changed after this week’s news, at least in the short term. Only about half of the country say they have heard a great deal or a good amount about the draft Supreme Court opinion thus far (49%), with 51% saying they’ve heard just some or nothing at all about it.

The poll conducted after the draft ruling became public also finds a small increase since January in the share of Americans who say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion; that view increased more among Republicans (from 15% in January to 26% now) than among Democrats (24% in January to 29% now). On this measure, though, the ideological divide tells a different story, with liberals’ commitment to a candidate who shares their views on abortion rising 12 points; among conservatives, it’s up 6 points...



Angie is Great

At the NFL draft this last week, on Twitter.

More here.

And here.

Fresh Rescue Efforts Under Way at Ukraine's Azovstal Steel Plant (VIDEO)

 Some news out of Ukraine.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Russia wants to seize the last part of Mariupol by Monday, Ukrainian presidential adviser says":

A third group of civilians was being evacuated from the labyrinth of bunkers beneath Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant Friday, officials said, as Ukraine’s military counterattacked against Russian forces in the east.

For weeks the Mariupol defenders’ dogged stand tied down Russian forces there, reducing the units available elsewhere. Now, Ukraine says it has largely blunted Russia’s offensives in other areas in the east and is hoping to use heavy weapons to push them back.

On Friday, Ukrainian and Russian officials said a total of 50 civilians, including children, were evacuated from the plant during the day. The Russian Ministry of Defense said that the evacuees were handed over to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross for delivery to temporary accommodations. The evacuation operation at Azovstal will continue on Saturday, the ministry said.

The United Nations said almost 500 civilians were evacuated in two previous operations with its assistance.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the evacuations proceeded slowly because Russia was violating a cease-fire. Moscow has previously repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

The Azov Regiment stationed at the steel plant said one fighter had been killed and six wounded as a car was struck while moving toward some civilians to evacuate them.

Azovstal, a sprawling Soviet-era complex of warehouses, furnaces, tunnels and rail tracks in the southeastern city of Mariupol, has become a focal point in the war in recent weeks. Ukrainian soldiers have continued to hold out as Russia stepped up its bombing of the plant.

Russian ground forces had blockaded Azovstal and assaulted some parts of it in the past 24 hours, supported by warplanes, the Ukrainian General Staff said Friday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday called for Russia to release or exchange those remaining at Azovstal in comments via videolink with Chatham House, the U.K. think tank.

“If they kill people who can be exchanged as prisoners of war or just released as civilians or be helped as wounded or injured, civilian and military alike, if they destroy them, I don’t think we can have any diplomatic talks with them after that,” he said.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said Russia was seeking to seize the last part of Mariupol by Monday, when Moscow celebrates the anniversary of the victory over the Nazis in World War II.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that the Russians were besieging Azovstal primarily through airstrikes and that the majority of Russian ground forces that had been dedicated to Mariupol had been withdrawn. The Kremlin has declared victory in Mariupol and said it is aiming to seal the remaining defenders in Azovstal until they surrender.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces were counterattacking around the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Izyum, said Army Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhniy, chief of the Ukrainian General Staff.

Ukraine’s military has pushed Russian troops back to the east of Kharkiv, curbing the shelling of the country’s second-most-populous city. Russia has sought to thrust south from Izyum, which is southeast of Kharkiv, but has encountered stiff Ukrainian resistance.

Gen. Zaluzhniy’s comments, which came after a phone call with the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Mark Milley, reflect optimism among Ukrainian officials that Russia’s offensives are running out of steam and that the deployment of heavy weapons systems from the West could turn the tide of the war in the east of the country in the coming weeks.

Other officials cautioned, however, that the counteroffensive was localized.

“Western weapons are not yet arriving at a rate that would allow Ukrainian forces to go on a counterattack,” Mr. Arestovych, the presidential adviser, said late Thursday.

He characterized Ukraine’s capture of some villages in the east around Kharkiv and the south around Kherson, which is occupied by Russia, as small movements that could lead to a broader counteroffensive.

“It’s too early to talk of serious successes,” he said.

President Biden said Friday the U.S. is sending another round of security assistance to Ukraine that will include artillery munitions, radars and other equipment. An administration official said the equipment is valued at up to $150 million. Mr. Biden said the Ukraine funding authorized by Congress is nearly depleted, and he has asked Congress for $33 billion more to fund weapons and provide longer-term economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Russia, meanwhile, claimed that its aircraft hit 24 Ukrainian military assets overnight, including weapons depots and an artillery battery.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that its high-precision air-based missiles had destroyed an ammunition depot in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. The ministry said that Russian forces had shot down two Ukrainian warplanes, an Su-25 and a MiG-29.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in a commentary Thursday that the Ukrainian counteroffensive “may disrupt Russian forces northeast of Kharkiv and will likely force Russian forces to decide whether to reinforce positions near Kharkiv or risk losing most or all of their positions within artillery range of the city.”

The Ukrainian advances to the east of Kharkiv could develop into a broader counteroffensive, ISW said...

Ending Roe Threatens Abortion Rights

Remember, if you're libertarian (and I'm not), you're for abortion rights. 

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, at Reason, is hear to remind you, "Ending Roe Threatens More Than Abortion Rights":

In discourse about Roe v. Wade being overturned and states severely restricting or limiting abortions, much of the discussion is (rightly) focused on the potential fallout for those with unwanted or unsustainable pregnancies. It's girls and women of childbearing age on whom such prohibitions would fall the hardest, or at least the most directly. But banning abortion would bring many second-order effects that merit consideration, too. Some children, families, and medical professionals may suffer grave consequences. We're also likely to see a drastically expanded state. Today I want to devote a little attention to some of these often-overlooked consequences...
Keep reading.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation Grows Up

At Amazon, Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults.

Do We Need a Capitalist Civil War?

 From Joel Kotkin, at UnHerd, "The working class suffer when elites agree":

We Americans like to think of ourselves as a thoroughly modern people — living proof of what, with enough toil and grit, the rest of the free world can one day hope to be. And yet for all our progressivism and idealism, America’s political culture finds itself unable to escape the past. We may be living in a 21st century democracy, but that “democracy” increasingly resembles something that could have been plucked out of feudal Europe or, perhaps more accurately, feudal Japan.

For much of its history, Japanese politics was characterised by conflicts among its ruling daimyo, and later between the great industrial zaibatsu who replaced them as dominant powers. Similarly, America’s politics is now being shaped by a civil war not between classes, but within the ruling capitalist elite.

As the 2022 congressional elections approach, two sides are polishing their armour and fletching their arrows. In one corner stand the daimyo of the gentry corporate elite, largely drawn from the ranks of tech oligarchs and much of Wall Street. Their focus lies in the creation of a capitalist utopia rooted in paternalistic state control, much along the lines of the corporatist “Great Reset”. In the other corner, meanwhile, stand their opponents to the Right, largely made up of those who own private capital and are therefore anxious not to see their activities curbed.

These divisions reflect profound differences in industry, reminiscent of the 19th-century conflicts between aristocratic merchants and British manufacturers, or the one that broke out between the daimyo who embraced industry and those samurai who stubbornly hewed to traditional ways. Drawing on this, the French economist Thomas Piketty aptly divides our capitalist class into what he calls “the Brahmin Left” and the “merchant Right”. One side, as its caste association assumes, tends to see itself as more spiritually enlightened, as priests of the progressive secular religion. The merchant side, however, is more concerned with market competition (particularly from China), the cost of goods, and the impact of regulatory policies on their core businesses.

Today, the Brahmin Left has its base in large corporations and investors, and has allied itself with the academic and media establishments, financing non-profits and generally supporting increasingly intrusive government. By contrast, the merchant Right draws its natural support from the traditional middle class — skilled workers, high-street businesspeople, and small property owners — who also have become the bulwark of the Trumpian Republican Party...

Still more.


Leaked Draft of Supreme Court's Abortion Rights Ruling Fires-Up the Left Ahead of Midterm Elections

Things certainly have changed a bit since Monday night. That said, I'm certain that bread-and-butter issues --- especially crime, the economy, education, and inflation --- will be the electorate's biggest concerns when voters cast their ballots in November.

I'll be posting regular updates on that, for sure. 

At the Los Angeles Times, "‘Barreling at us.’ Leaked Supreme Court draft turbocharges abortion activism for midterms":

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate have spent months planning for a blockbuster Supreme Court ruling this year on Roe vs. Wade. None of those plans anticipated the particular jolt on Monday night, when a leaked draft opinion signaled a decisive end to the decades-long precedent.

The disclosure accelerated plans already in the works for the upcoming midterm elections, especially in states holding marquee gubernatorial and Senate races, such as Georgia and Arizona. While Republicans have been more effective in rallying supporters around abortion in the past, Democrats believe the reality of Roe’s seemingly imminent reversal may galvanize their voters to avoid steep losses in November.

Still, supporters and opponents of abortion access took care to hedge their messaging on Tuesday, mindful that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.‘s proposed revocation of nationwide abortion protections telegraphed where the conservative court was leaning but was not its final say.

“This is a draft opinion. It is not yet a done deal, and we want to continue to raise our voices and fight like hell to make sure that everyone, including the court ... understands how horribly unpopular this is going to be,” said Kristin Ford, vice president of communications and research at NARAL Pro-Choice America. But she added: “This is coming. This is barreling at us.”

Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, sounded a similar note of caution but said her group was proceeding with its long-standing strategy in preparation for the end of Roe: working to outlaw abortion in every state.

Without the national protections articulated by the Supreme Court, abortion would likely become illegal in roughly half of the states — either through bans on the books before Roe was decided in 1973, trigger laws that go into effect if the landmark decision is overturned, or state constitutional amendments explicitly rejecting protections for the procedure. Conservative states have passed a slew of antiabortion laws in recent years in anticipation of the matter being left to individual states.

Heading into the midterms, Concerned Women for America will, at a minimum run voter registration and poll worker drives in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, Nance said. But she said antiabortion activists plan to raise the issue in every state.

“Seven men chose for every state in 1973,” Nance said, referring to the justices who backed the ruling in a 7-2 vote. “That’s why we have had this ongoing unrest and divisiveness, our Marches for Life — because we haven’t been able to advocate for our positions on a state-by-state level.”

The possibility of a ruling ending abortion rights has loomed over the political landscape for nearly a year, after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks, which would go against the precedent set by Roe. A sweeping decision seemed even more likely in December, when the conservative majority declined to block a six-week ban in Texas.

But after Politico reported on the leaked opinion and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. confirmed its authenticity, the most ardent opponents stopped well short of a jubilant celebration. Initially, some had little to say at all.

Susan B. Anthony List, an influential antiabortion group, tweeted Monday evening that it would “not be commenting until an official decision is announced by the Court.” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group’s president, followed up an hour later with a longer statement “wholeheartedly applaud[ing] the decision” — if, she noted repeatedly, it holds.

Abortion rights backers say conservatives’ circumspection hints at the political danger that would come with a sweeping decision that would open the door for expansive state bans even in cases of rape or incest...

Keep reading.