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Showing posts from August, 2023

Putin Kills Three Birds with One Stone

Evgeny Prigozhin is, predictably, dead.  He actually died two months ago, but he missed the memo. His fate was sealed the day he went for the king, then blinked. His death has now been confirmed, though confirmation was hardly necessary. Putin enjoys projecting ambiguity about these things, the better to keep the world guessing. His denials of his own culpability are laughably absurd, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone knows Putin did it, whether he did it or not. It’s no more than Prigozhin would’ve expected, given the vengeful nature of the king he served for so long, then betrayed. (If you don’t know the backstory of Prigozhin, and the spasm of hubris that led to the Wagner Group mutiny of last June, you can look it up just about anywhere — at least this week. But you might want to start with my own piece from July 4 ) Prigozhin was a blight on humanity, with tens of thousands of deaths on a conscience he didn’t possess. Now an even more terrible man has kill

Putin Lite: Republicans Ramp Up the Cruelty

This is a piece that, with a few edits, I could have written yesterday. It's from April 19, 2022, two months into the insane invasion of Ukraine, and little has changed since then. Putin has gotten worse. Republicans have gotten worse. Both are doubling down on their inhumanity. Both are paying a steep price for it. With all that in mind, I think the points made here might bear restating. If there is but one lone favor Vladimir Putin is doing for the world, it’s that he’s setting an excellent bad example. He is now the poster boy for the very worst humankind has to offer. No matter who or where you are, Putin presents you with a bright moral line, separating two crystal clear worldviews. Democracy or Autocracy. There are no shades of gray here. You can no longer look at Putin and not know which side of the line you’re on. Which is why it says a lot that so many Republicans can’t seem to decide. While they might secretly cheer the wanton slaughter of entire cities, they al

The Second War Between the States has Already Started

  When I pick a piece to re-run — as, alas, I'm doing once again here — I try to choose one that could, more or less, have run today. This one, from almost was written a little over a year ago, when the obscene torching of Roe v. Wade was still fresh in our minds. While it's hardly gratifying to see one's fears realized, much of what's here could indeed be written today. Just last week, at a federal  trial in an abortion-related case, both sides were having big trouble seating a jury that might set aside its hardened biases and hear the case on its merits. People are angry, and they're getting angrier.   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

Dobbs is Just the Bludgeon We’ve Been Looking For

  Still on vacation and aggressively not writing, I'm reprising a piece from last September — before the 2022 midterms — in which I pound on one of my favorite themes: the utter madness of the Dobbs decision. Today of all days, this is particularly appropriate. Ohio voters are even now participating in a special election that was cynically thrown together by the extremely gerrymandered Republican legislature, on the assumption that nobody wants to vote in August. Based on early voting, this was a massive miscalculation. The vote isn't officially about abortion, but rather about the ability of Ohio citizens to continue modifying their state constitution through petitions and referendums. But nobody has been fooled into thinking it's about anything but abortion.   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 De

Leonard Leo and the Republican Inquisition

In our ongoing national psychosis, there are a few key actors whose effects on society are especially pernicious, and who warrant close watching. Two of these, Leonard Leo and Aileen Cannon, were featured last year in a piece I wrote that still resonates. Leo has been much in the news lately, as people absorb how much of the Supreme Court's current stench is largely of his making. There's been special focus on the expensive PR blitz he ran in 2016 to prettify Clarence Thomas's image, even as Anita Hill's best-selling memoir was widely uglifying it. Cannon, of course, needs no introduction, and we'll be watching her legal career with great interest over the next year or so. I invite you to compare the speculations here to the piece I wrote last month . Now, as I stare out at Lake Huron, diligently not writing, I offer this re-run from September 13, 2022:   For anyone who thinks democracy is still an idea worth pursuing, Leonard Leo is a living nightmare.