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Putin’s Information Bubble Springs a Leak

The cat is out of the bag. The Russian citizenry can now be quite sure there’s a real war on, with real people dying. Something about a 300,000-man military draft — more likely a million — serves to focus the mind. It was only a matter of time before even the most brainwashed of parents would figure out that their sons were highly likely to be blown to pieces sometime soon. Who would have thought Putin’s hermetically-sealed information bubble would be pierced, not by liberals or intellectuals or human rights activists, but by the militant right? I suppose it does make a certain weird sense. The left has either fled the country, gone to jail, or — in most cases — opted to shut up and lay low for a decade or so. So it’s the far right that, curiously, is giving Putin the most heartburn. Specifically, it’s the ultra-militarist bloggers on Telegram — boasting millions of followers — who are reporting from the front lines of the war. And they’re telling it like it
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Dobbs is Just the Bludgeon We’ve Been Looking For

I recently had occasion to engage in a brief political discussion with a bright and well-spoken woman in her mid-twenties. She was clearly perturbed at what she considered the failure of Democrats to push through the progressive agenda she and her generation have long been promised. I felt her pain, knowing how hard the next twenty or thirty years will be for her age group, not just in this country, but planetwide. She will surely be a witness to spontaneous atrocities, environmental calamities, and a competition for dwindling resources that will reduce many of her fellow humans to savagery. At the same time, I was embarrassed — as I often am — that I’m passing along to her a nation in far worse shape than it was when I found it. Even so, I felt she was being a bit hard on the Democrats in power, most of whom have, more or less, behaved admirably in pursuing basically the same agenda as hers, even as they remain shackled to a constitutional system on the very c

Leonard Leo and the Republican Inquisition

For anyone who thinks democracy is still an idea worth pursuing, Leonard Leo is a living nightmare. I had hoped never to write about him, but as his star continues to rise I feel compelled to spread the word. His low profile has served him well over many years, but now we need to know him better. Leonard Leo, for those who don’t know, is the brains behind the Federalist Society , the lavishly-funded cabal of right-wing ‘originalist’ lawyers committed to marching the country back to the Middle Ages. But unlike the assorted crazies and half-wits now so prevalent on the right, Leo is smart, strategic, and has a Who’s Who of wingnut billionaires on speed dial. His game is judicial appointments, and even before he got all that help — first from Mitch McConnell, then from Donald Trump — he was busy remaking the federal judiciary into a radical force for values widely reviled by most Americans. The goal — never exactly hidden, but now totally out in the open — is to

They’re Using ‘Trump’ and ‘Espionage’ in the Same Sentence

It isn’t every day that a former president gets investigated for espionage. One more first for Donald Trump. Yes, we’ve all been titillated by every sordid new development in the ongoing saga of the Mar-a-Lago files. But the big question, at least for me, remains: What was he thinking? Why would he take state secrets out of the White House, knowing full well it’s a felony? Not that he’s a stranger to felonies, but still. The press has focused mainly on the make-believe theories thrown up by the wingnut right to explain away the obvious. But I’ve not seen much on the espionage angle itself. Which is strange. Because the very word ‘espionage’ puts an unmistakably sinister spin on Trump’s motives. It’s not a word that either CIA or DOJ throws around a lot. But it’s a word both are using. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Trump it’s that life is about transactions, about trading favors. He is, by nature, a quid in search of the perfect pro quo. So while we don’t know how s

The Second War Between the States has Already Started

The flashpoint of the next civil war won’t be slavery. It will be abortion. And it’s already here. It’s a war that may never get to the point of armed conflict, but it will be no less hard-fought and bitter for all that. The states are already lined up, more or less, the same way they were last time, which makes it hard to think well of the American South, which is now joined by much of the Midwest, and a lot of the northern border states. I’m sure there are good people in all these states. I’m sure there are even Democrats. But good people don’t get much traction in an electorate where the ignorant and apathetic are being brainwashed by the cruel and crazy. The Dobbs decision has opened the door to a new era of state-to-state conflict, in which the laws of one state will be diametrically opposed to, challenged by, and possibly undermined by the laws of another state. The war will be fought mostly in the courts, which will be tied up for years and years, sorting out the multi-j

Is the Pendulum Finally Swinging Left?

Since I last posted here, it’s been a whole month of long-awaited schadenfreude. It’s okay, we deserve it. And we’re too battered and bruised to take it for granted. But the sheer throw-weight of legal firepower now aimed squarely at Donald Trump and his band of crazies is truly heart-warming. From DOJ to New York State to Manhattan to Georgia — and to any number of investigations percolating under the surface — Trump and his minions are finally on the run, with rightwing media struggling to invent reasons, most of them cringe-worthy, for the naked criminality now being exposed in all its squalor. Weisselberg is in handcuffs. Giuliani is a target. Graham is being forced to testify. Phones are being confiscated, homes raided, subpoenas flying in every direction. Creeps are going to prison. And Republican leaders everywhere are losing sleep over those boxes from Mar-a-Lago and those texts from Alex Jones’ phone, and how they might just want to hire a lawyer, y’know, just in case. T

Impunity and Its Antidote

I have now subjected you to a full month of reruns, but I don’t feel too guilty. In that time, the news has been nothing short of astonishing, yet I’m not tempted to weigh in on any of it, at least not yet. Being outside the country, with no TV and limited internet, I find I have little to add to the blizzard of punditry from which I’ve been semi-isolated. With that in mind, let’s revisit my post from January 12, 2021, less than a week after the riots of January 6, when we were still struggling to digest those horrific events. In it, I argued for accountability, a word that is very much front and center today. I got some pushback on my post from last Tuesday. It was the day before the Capitol insurrection (or whatever history plans on calling it). In that post, I urged career civil servants to come forward and report any felonies that Trump appointees might commit as they slither out the door. The pushback came from a Canadian friend who was rightly concerned tha