Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:12 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Amplifying the outraged voice of freedom fighters in Iran:

After President Raisi condemned the West at the United Nations General Assembly last week, President Biden offered a brief and weak comment about the protests taking place in Iran:

“Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”

And yet, although President Biden said that we stand with the Iranian protesters, the State Department extended entry visas to the Iranian president, and at least one Iranian guard member to enter the U.S.

One way for the U.S. to keep attention fixed on the protests is to amplify the voices of the protesters:

The challenge for Biden is to help the protesters without allowing the regime to portray them as American stooges. The most useful thing the US can do is amplify the voices of the protesters and help them evade the regime’s blackouts, the better to communicate with each other and coordinate their protests.

Suggestions include allowing satellite equipment to be sent to Iran while lifting international sanctions. Also this:

[T]he State Department should also use every opportunity to draw attention to the protests and encourage American allies to do likewise. Every statement relating to the negotiations over the revival of the Iran nuclear deal should be accompanied with a strong reiteration of solidarity with the protesters and an equally forceful denunciation of the crackdown.

Finally, the White House must become more involved:

[T]he White House should make it clear that any Iranian official linked to abuses against protesters will be subject to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. Here, too, the Biden administration has made a good start, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken announcing sanctions against the “morality police.”

Meanwhile, while it’s difficult to get an accurate count of protesters killed and arrested, an estimated 83 protesters have been killed by security forces, and a reported 3,000 protesters are currently detained.

Iranian-in-exile, human rights worker and journalist Masih Alinejad, who currently lives in an FBI safehouse after several recent kidnapping plots with the goal of taking her back to Iran to face consequences were uncovered by the FBI, addressed politicians in the West for appealing to the Iranian government on behalf of protesters:

Second news item

A humiliated President Putin announces annexation:

Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the biggest annexation of territory in postwar Europe on Friday, claiming control over swaths of Ukraine in defiance of international law and in spite of his forces facing another significant battlefield setback.

The Russian leader repeated his threat of nuclear war, suggesting he would be prepared to use his vast arsenal to defend the four partially occupied regions of his neighbor’s south and east. It was a dramatic escalation in the seven-month conflict, which has seen Putin respond to heavy losses by calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists while intensifying his confrontation with the West.


The ceremony at the Kremlin came hours after shelling killed 25 people in Ukraine’s southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

“I want to say this to the Kyiv regime and its masters in the West: People living in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens forever,” Putin said.

Immediately after Putin’s announcement, President Biden slapped new sanctions on Russia, which include:

Department of Treasury sanctioned 14 international suppliers for supporting Russia’s military supply chains. Treasury is also sanctioning 278 members of Russia’s legislature for enabling Russia’s attempt at annexation. The State Department is imposing visa restrictions on Russian national Ochur-Suge Mongush for torturing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. The Department of State is also imposing visa restrictions on another 910 individuals, including members of the Russian military, Belarusian military officials and proxies acting in Russia-held portions of Ukraine. The Department of Commerce is also adding 57 entities to the Entity List for violating U.S. export controls.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky announced that Ukraine has signed and submitted a hoped-for fast-tracked application to NATO, and said that “Ukraine will not hold any negotiations with Russia as long as Putin is the president of the Russian Federation. We will negotiate with the new president”.

Alexander Baunov provides an interesting analysis of Putin’s speech today:

Putin’s speech on the occasion of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Russia was a rather tedious enumeration of myths and legends about an ancient and imaginary West. But there were three aspects worthy of attention from a practical point of view.

“The Nord Stream gas pipelines were blown up by the USA.” The practical consequences are that Russia is now “entitled” to respond in kind, Russia is not responsible for stopping energy supplies to Europe, & Gazprom may not have to pay for missed deliveries.

The appeal to Ukraine to immediately cease hostilities, withdraw its troops from the new “Russian” territories and sit down at the negotiating table.

Since all four annexed regions are only partially controlled by Russian troops, this is an announcement that conventional warfare will continue unless the Russian ultimatum is followed. The same ultimatum was issued on the eve of Russia’s invasion in February.

“The US, without any military necessity, dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ‘set a precedent, by the way.’”

Guess who the precedent is for? The implication is that Russia is better than the US, it won’t drop atomic bombs without military necessity—but what if such a need arises? It’s practically an announcement of things to come.

This says it all:

And finally, here is the NATO Secretary of General making it very clear that the four illegally annexed regions and Crimea are all Ukraine, as well as pledging NATO support:

Third news item

It’s unclear why they did this??:

At the center of the change are borrowers who took out federal student loans many years ago, both Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans. FFEL loans, issued and managed by private banks but guaranteed by the federal government, were once the mainstay of the federal student loan program until the FFEL program ended in 2010.

Today, according to federal data, more than 4 million borrowers still have commercially-held FFEL loans. Until Thursday, the department’s own website advised these borrowers that they could consolidate these loans into federal Direct Loans and thereby qualify for relief under Biden’s debt cancellation program.

On Thursday, though, the department quietly changed that language. The guidance now says, “As of Sept. 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.”

It’s a real puzzle… Progressive lawmakers were caught off guard and not happy with the announcement.

Fourth news item

Ginni Thomas told the Jan. 6 Committee that she believes the 2020 election was stolen, but also said that she didn’t discuss it with her husband:

“Regarding the 2020 election, I did not speak with him at all about the details of my volunteer campaign activities,” Thomas said under oath in her opening statement obtained by CNN. “And I did not speak with him at all about the details of my post-election activities, which were minimal, in any event. I am certain I never spoke with him about any of the legal challenges to the 2020 election, as I was not involved with those challenges in any way.”

Fifth news item


Fort Myers Beach, which sits on a 7-mile-long island along the Gulf of Mexico, saw “total devastation, catastrophic,” Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Dan Allers said Friday. “Those are words that come to mind when you see what you see.”

He also said that pictures show the damage but don’t “show the magnitude of exactly what it is.”

“I’d say 90% of the island is pretty much gone,” Allers said. “Unless you have a high-rise condo or a newer concrete home that is built to the same standards today, your house is pretty much gone.”

Allers told CNN that many people in the town struggled to get to higher ground amid the storm surge.

“I’ve heard stories of people getting in freezers and floating the freezers to another home… and being rescued by higher homes,” Allers said.

Sixth news item

Apple exec keeps it classy:

One of Apple’s top executives is leaving the tech giant after he was filmed making a crass joke about how he “fondles big-breasted women” for a living. Tony Blevins, Apple’s vice president of procurement, made the *wacky comment when he was approached by Daniel Mac, a creator whose shtick is asking people in luxury vehicles how they make their money. “I have rich cars, play golf and fondle big-breasted women,” Blevins said in the video as he got out of his Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. “But I take weekends and holidays off. Also, if you’re interested, I got a hell of a dental plan.”

Seventh news item

Navalny opines on the war and the end game in a strongly worded and insight op-ed. Read the whole thing!:

What does a desirable and realistic end to the criminal war unleashed by Vladimir Putin against Ukrainelook like?

If we examine the primary things said by Western leaders on this score, the bottom line remains: Russia (Putin) must not win this war. Ukraine must remain an independent democratic state capable of defending itself.

This is correct, but it is a tactic. The strategy should be to ensure that Russia and its government naturally, without coercion, do not want to start wars and do not find them attractive. This is undoubtedly possible. Right now the urge for aggression is coming from a minority in Russian society.


In my opinion, the problem with the West’s current tactics lies not just in the vagueness of their aim, but in the fact that they ignore the question: What does Russia look like after the tactical goals have been achieved? Even if success is achieved, where is the guarantee that the world will not find itself confronting an even more aggressive regime, tormented by resentment and imperial ideas that have little to do with reality? With a sanctions-stricken but still big economy in a state of permanent military mobilization? And with nuclear weapons that guarantee impunity for all manner of international provocations and adventures?


War is a relentless stream of crucial, urgent decisions influenced by constantly shifting factors. Therefore, while I commend European leaders for their ongoing success in supporting Ukraine, I urge them not to lose sight of the fundamental causes of war. The threat to peace and stability in Europe is aggressive imperial authoritarianism, endlessly inflicted by Russia upon itself. Postwar Russia, like post-Putin Russia, will be doomed to become belligerent and Putinist again. This is inevitable as long as the current form of the country’s development is maintained. Only a parliamentary republic can prevent this. It is the first step toward transforming Russia into a good neighbor that helps to solve problems rather than create them.

Have a great weekend.



Trump Team Balks At Making Public Assessment Of Items Taken From Mar-A-Lago

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:49 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Donald Trump’s legal team’s objections to Judge Dearie’s request to verify the FBI’s inventory list of items taken from Mar-a-Lago prompted the DOJ to make very clear what’s what:

Plaintiff brought this civil, equitable proceeding. He bears the burden of proof. If he wants the Special Master to make recommendations as to whether he is entitled to the relief he seeks, plaintiff will need to participate in the process.


Russia To Begin Formal Annexation of Ukrainian Territory

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:41 am

[guest post by Dana]

After the sham election in four occupied areas in Ukraine in which people freely voted at gunpoint to join Russia, President Putin is expected to announce the annexation tomorrow:

Russia will on Friday begin formally annexing up to 18% of Ukrainian territory, with President Vladimir Putin expected to host a ceremony in the Kremlin to declare four occupied Ukrainian territories part of Russia.

The ceremony would take place on Friday at 15:00 local time (08:00 ET) in the Kremlin’s St. George’s Hall, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin will deliver a speech and meet with Russian-backed leaders of the four occupied regions on the sidelines of the ceremony, he added.

Next week, Russia’s two houses of parliament – the State Duma and Federation Council – will consider the annexation.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky said that the Ukraine will “defend its people” in the russianoccupied regions:

“We will act to protect our people: both in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhzhia region, in the Donbas, in the currently occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, and in the Crimea,” he said in a video posted on Telegram.

“This farce in the occupied territory cannot even be called an imitation of referendums,” he said.

Days earlier, he told the United Nations via video that there can be no negotiations with Putin:

“Russia’s recognition of the pseudo-referendums as ‘normal,’ implementation of the so-called Crimean scenario, and yet another attempt to annex Ukrainian territory means that there is nothing to talk about with (the) current Russian president,” he said in a video message at a meeting of the UN security council.

“In front of the eyes of the whole world, Russia is conducting an outright farce called a ‘referendum’ on the occupied territory of Ukraine,” he said.

“People are forced to fill out some papers for a TV picture under the muzzles of machine guns.

“The figures of the alleged results of the pseudo-referendum were drawn in advance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced this week that another $1.1 billion will be given in additional security assistance for Ukraine.

The question now is whether President Biden’s response to the nuclear threat (he obviously favors non-nuclear options) along with his warning that the United States would “respond forcefully” to any Russian nuclear strike, will be enough to deter a humiliated Putin:

The nuclear planner and two other senior officers…don’t disagree with that view, and none of them advocate any use of nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike. But to deter Putin from using nuclear weapons in the first place, the officers say, the United States needs to talk the nuclear talk—and not be held back by the fear of having to walk the walk.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” says a senior intelligence officer. “Threatening to respond forcefully and creating catastrophic consequences for Russia [without] suggesting nuclear war: Is that strong enough to deter Putin? And is it really clear? I’m not so sure.”

“We have to ponder whether other [non-nuclear] threats are powerful enough to deter Putin,” says a former bomber pilot who is now a Washington-based Pentagon officer.

President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan offered this week that the White House has been working behind the scenes to stress to Russia the devastating consequences they will face if they use the nuclear option:

Washington has “communicated directly, privately, to the Russians at very high levels that there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia if they use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” he said on ABC News.

“If Russia crosses this line…the United States will respond decisively,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The Biden administration, he said, has “spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean” in its communications with the Kremlin.

The report notes that what the decisive response would be has not been made public.

Here is a blunt assessment of Sullivan’s comments:

“Threatening severe consequences without saying that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable under any circumstances, drawing a red-line … it isn’t clear that that is an adequate deterrent threat for Putin’s ears,” the Strategic Command civilian says.

“A general statement of deterrence didn’t prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine not only because Putin is reckless but also because ‘no matter what’ wasn’t the threat. It was the same as Sullivan’s threat today: ‘If you do it, we’ll respond.’ That’s not deterrence.”



Nord 1 and 2 “Leaks” The Result of Sabotage?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:16 am

[guest post by Dana]

After explosions in the Baltic Sea resulted in leaks in the Nordstream pipelines below the surface, Germany, Denmark and Sweden said said that the “leak” was the result of a deliberate act. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that an investigation must be done. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was a bit more restrained in his comments, and while not ruling out the possibility of sabotage, said: If it is confirmed, that’s clearly in no one’s interest.”

Ukraine showed no restraint, however, and directly blamed Russia for the leak:

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak earlier pinned the blame directly on Russia, accusing it of an “act of aggression” and attempting to “destabilize economic situation in Europe and cause prewinter panic.”

Jakub Godzimirski, a research professor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs who focuses on Russian foreign and security policy, put it this way:

“There is also the particular dimension that this could be used to further escalate the conflict between Russia and the West,” Godzimirski said.

“If Russia is going to accuse, especially NATO for conducting this kind of operation against Russian infrastructure, this could be something that could strengthen the image of Russia being at war with not only Ukraine, but also with NATO.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if this turned out to be yet one more false flag operation by Russia. After all, they have a history of playing that game.



Affidavits Filed In Ohio: Two More Minors Made Pregnant By Sexual Assault

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:02 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There is no exception for cases of rape and incest in Ohio’s six-week abortion ban:

At least two more minors made pregnant by sexual assault were forced to leave Ohio to avoid having their rapists’ babies, according to sworn affidavits filed by abortion providers…The affidavits were filed in Cincinnati as part of a lawsuit aimed at stopping the enforcement of Ohio’s strict new abortion law. Originally paused for two weeks, the enforcement delay will be extended to at least Oct. 12…If true, the affidavits show that a 10-year-old from Columbus was not the only child or teen rape victim forced to leave the state.


Gov. DeSantis and Donald Trump Throw Barbs At Each Other

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Two peas in a pod who hold no affection for one another:

While DeSantis and the former president are already locked in a 2024 cold war, the smackdown has been unfolding off camera. According to a former DeSantis congressional staffer, DeSantis trashes Trump in private.

“He calls him a TV personality and a moron who has no business running for president,” the former staffer said. DeSantis tells donors that, if he takes on Trump, he would launch a full frontal attack on his record and competence, according to a GOP source briefed on the conversations. “DeSantis says the only way to beat Trump is to attack him head-on. ”

Trump, meanwhile, vents about DeSantis constantly, according to people who speak with him. Trump’s animus is fueled by his belief that he put DeSantis in the governor’s mansion. In conversations, Trump reminds people that then congressman DeSantis was losing by double digits during the 2018 gubernatorial primary until Trump backed him. Sources said it galls Trump that DeSantis hasn’t acknowledged the boost Trump provided, aside from a cursory acknowledgement in his victory speech.

Trump tells people, ‘I made Ron,’” a prominent Republican told Vanity Fair. “Trump says that about a lot of people. But in this case it’s actually true.”

Clearly, Trump really doesn’t think much of the man he claims to have “made”:

The 45th president called the Florida governor “fat,” “phony,” and “whiny” when Haberman asked about him during a meeting late this summer at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. It is not clear if Trump offers additional disparaging remarks about DeSantis that are documented in the book and not the Atlantic article.

Trump’s comments were made around the same time as news emerged that DeSantis had raised more money since January of last year than himself or President Joe Biden. News of DeSantis’s impressive haul was confirmed by Open Secrets, which analyzed the fundraising efforts of the top 20 presidential contenders. DeSantis raised $177.4 million for his reelection campaign as of Sept. 9, a national record for gubernatorial campaigns.

And while it’s certainly early days, polling shows DeSantis leading Trump with Florida Republicans:

In addition to fundraising, DeSantis also leads the former president by an impressive 8 points in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll asking how Florida Republican registered voters would vote in a hypothetical primary between the two. That poll is far from an outlier, with numerous others in the last year having similar results.

Meanwhile, as Trump faces six lawsuits(!), DeSantis faces his own legal challenges over flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. His stunt, however, raised his national profile in a positive way with fellow Republicans:

DeSantis has reaped political benefits, grabbing center stage on an issue that once helped propel Donald Trump to the White House and putting Democrats on defense over the nation’s chaotic and overstressed immigration system. Republican leaders have embraced his tactics and begun fundraising off pledges to fly migrants to other blue-state enclaves.

At this point, barring a catastrophe, one of these blustery yahoos will very likely become the Republican nominee. We already know Trump’s schtick, and we’ve seen DeSantis in action in Florida. The question is, which of these two can out-populist the other and capture the MAGA base while offering specific policies that will entice non-MAGA voters?

On a side note, can you imagine these two going after each other on a debate stage? DeSantis is brash, polished, knows policy and politics, and would win hands down on that alone. Trump is not polished and doesn’t know a lot about policy, talks over challengers, deflects and dismisses, and yet he is able to suck the air out of the room with his bellicosity, an unwavering belief in himself, and an incredible lack of self-awareness. Voters will have an interesting time of it if they both run for the presidency.



Trump’s Unattractive, Yet Unsurprising Admission About His Tenure As POTUS

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

During an interview with Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Donald Trump made a surprising-but-not-surprising admission about his tenure as the President of the United States:

“The question I get asked more than any other question: ‘If you had it to do again, would you have done it?’” Trump said of running for president. “The answer is, yeah, I think so. Because here’s the way I look at it. I have so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are.”

Haberman goes on to note that, when considering his role as the President, “his first impulse was not to mention public service, or what he felt he’d accomplished, only that it appeared to be a vehicle for fame, and that many experiences were only worth having if someone else envied them.”

His admission is only jarring because he said the quiet part out loud. But really, it simply confirms what we already know: Trump has always been about Trump and his brand. He likely always will be. He is motivated by insatiable greed and thirst for power. One only has to look at his biographical details, including his business dealings and public life to see it spelled out. The presidency, however, brought him unparalleled power and status. Previously closed doors opened, and he gained a certain legitimacy before the world that being a reality star or developer could never give him. If Trump runs and wins the election in 2024, he will still be the same narcissist he has always been. Thus, it stands to reason that if he becomes our next president, the state of the nation and the American people might be priorities for him, just not his most important ones.


Kasparov: The Time For Half-Measures Is Over If The War Is To End

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:23 am

[guest post by Dana]

As Germany refuses to provide Ukraine with much-needed battle tanks, Garry Kasparov warns that this is not the time for half-measures or concessions, rather this is a time for nothing less than decisive action:

It’s time again to talk about goals of the war. To say loud and clear that Ukraine’s territory must be 100% liberated of Russian invaders. That there can be no way back to normalcy for Russia with Putin the war criminal still in charge.

Russians are resisting Putin’s desperate mobilization and Ukraine is winning. It’s time to finish the job, to give Ukraine everything and Putin nothing. But Western allies are still holding back despite Russia’s open transformation into a fascist dictatorship.

The winds of freedom are drifting across the globe. Iran, Dagestan, people are inspired directly and indirectly. If Ukraine can defeat Putin, dictators aren’t invincible. Even Serbia won’t recognize Putin’s illegal annexations, not wanting to back a loser.

Putin’s loyalty for benefits contract with the Russian people has been broken on the rock of Ukraine’s resistance. What’s the point of his domestic violence, his foreign terror now? There’s no payoff for the bureaucracy & siloviki anymore, just escape or isolation.

Putin is escalating as always, hoping to bluff out of a lost situation. Concessions will encourage more aggression. Ukraine must get everything it needs to press the advantage, now. That’s my message here in Germany, that half-measures are over if the war is to end.

Of course, it wasn’t a coincidence that Kasparov made his comments from Germany:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany gets right to the point when asked why his country will not send battle tanks to Ukraine: It is “a very dangerous war,” he said.


“We are supporting Ukraine…We are doing it in a way that is not escalating to where it is becoming a war between Russia and NATO because this would be a catastrophe.”


Mr. Scholz has refused to provide Ukraine with Leopard battle tanks or Marder infantry fighting vehicles, which Ukrainian officials have repeatedly asked for. As they pivot from a defensive posture to an offensive one in the south, Ukrainian forces need tanks to break through defensive lines and recapture more territory before winter and, as Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, put it, “liberate people and save them from genocide.”

Mr. Scholz’s refusal — which goes against the will of many even inside his own governing coalition — has earned him noisy and near-unanimous criticism among Germany’s Eastern European neighbors, not least in Ukraine. Commanders along the front say the Germans’ reluctance to provide battle tanks points to a policy of seeking a negotiated settlement along existing lines, rather than a Ukrainian success in pushing out the Russians.

As a reminder, back in January, when Russia amassed 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine and fears of an invasion peaked, Germany offered to send…5,000 helmets.

Anyway, it’s ironic that it is Germany that refuses to send badly needed battle tanks which could actually help prevent the genocide of Ukrainians. This despite the announcement of a dramatic change in Germany’s foreign/security policies in February 2022 (Zeitenwende).



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:47 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

As he pledged increased support from the U.S., Secretary of State Antony Blinken summed up the ongoing war in Ukraine at the UN Security Council: “If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.” Not in attendance at this particular meeting: Sergey Lavrov.

Meanwhile, the sham voting about whether the occupied regions in Ukriane should become part of Russia began today: “Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions asked residents if they want the areas to be part of Russia.”

Reports say that Russian collaborators are going door to door in some places to make sure that residents vote. In some cases, a masked police officer carrying an assault rifle accompanies them.


Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai accused Russian officials of taking down the names of people who voted against it. In online posts, Haidai also alleged that Russian officials threatened to kick down the doors of anyone who didn’t want to vote and shared photos of what appeared to be a pair of deserted polling stations.

President Zelensky points out what has become more apparent than ever:

“Russia’s decision on mobilization is a frank admission that their regular army, which has been prepared for decades to take over a foreign country, did not withstand and crumbled.”

And from Dmitri Alperovitch:

Mobilization was always a very risky political move for Putin. But the utterly incompetent way in which it is being carried out—with terrible communication, contradicting criteria, grabbing of men on the streets, etc is likely to erode support for the war and for him personally.

Many Russians that have husbands, sons and fathers of mobilization age are completely petrified right now. Given that this may not be the last mobilization they are going to need to execute, the regime’s political fortunes could turn quite rapidly.

Yes, the brutal authoritarian security apparatus is still very strong and will work hard to suppress any dissent but one can expect people to grow more courageous when faced with the prospect of losing their lives or those of loved ones

The last mobilization conducted by the Kremlin was in 1941… We are truly in uncharted waters now and Putin’s future hold on power is now on the line

This is not yet the end but it may be the beginning of the end.

Everything now hangs in the balance. For six months, Ukraine’s unified resolve to defend itself and drive out the invaders has only increased. Along with that determination, troop morale has increased, as well as the morale of the people at large. For Russia, the opposite is true. There is a madman at the helm whose priority is not to unify his people and rally them around a noble cause. Putin has sparked mass protests as Russians revolt against mobilization. He sees it all starting to collapse around him and his desperation is showing:

Strongmen whose power depends on perceptions of invincibility would rather destroy a system that threatens their power than yield for the common good. We saw an example of that in our own country on January 6. We’re seeing a higher-stakes example of it now in Ukraine. No one bets on a monkey with a hand grenade to behave responsibly. But just how irresponsibly it might behave when it’s threatened and desperate to save face, which is all this war is about anymore, is an imponderable we should all start pondering.


UPDATE #2: This from Alexei Navalny, who was put in a punishment cell for the fifth time. This is what he said in court today:

On one hand, I don’t believe that Putin can allow Navalny to live. The last thing he wants is to let Navalny’s latest message from prison inspire the Russian people to push back against Putin and his mobilization. He can’t afford to let that happen. Not now. But on the other hand, if he has Navalny killed, he will most certainly be making a martyr of him, which in turn may inspire the people of Russia even more.

Second news item

In Iran, the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old young Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested by the morality police for allegedly breaking Iran’s hijab laws and subsequently died while in police custody has resulted in mass protests throughout the country:

Protests rocking Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have spread to at least 50 cities, even as police arrest and kill demonstrators in a violent crackdown.

Videos showing women burning their headscarves and crowds chanting “death to the dictator” amid burning cars are flooding social media, despite the Iranian government’s intermittent shutdown of the country’s internet.

While Iran’s President Raisi made a ridiculous announcement that he was launching an investigation into Amini’s death because “Our utmost preoccupation is the safeguarding of the rights of every citizen,” the women of Iran know better:

Third news item

He has spent a pittance on MAGA candidates and yet there can be no doubt that his supporters will fill the coffers of this new super PAC:

Major super PACs and party committees disclosed their August finances in a new round of campaign finance reports Tuesday, with some eye-catching results. The filings revealed that Trump’s leadership PAC was still sitting on nearly $100 million at the end of last month. And save for a contribution to a group that helped defeat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in her primary, the PAC did not contribute anything to the battle for Congress, even amid fundraising struggles for some GOP candidates in notable races.

Donald Trump’s top lieutenants are launching a new super PAC that is expected to spend heavily to bolster his endorsed candidates in the midterm election — and, some people close to the former president say, could become a campaign apparatus if he runs in 2024.

Sanctioned by the former president, the new group, dubbed MAGA, Inc., will become the primary vehicle for Trump’s operation to engage in political activity in 2022. The outfit is designed to funnel large sums into key races and could conceivably be used to boost Trump in the event he seeks the White House again.

Also, as Trump considers running for re-election, let’s remind voters that nothing has changed concerning his view of the 2020 election:

Of course, his legal perils alone are increasingly weighing him down, so maybe he just won’t be available to make a solid run for the presidency…

Fourth news item

If Republican leaders hope their “assertive action” on immigration (flying migrants to liberal cities) will result in more midterm voters, they might be unpleasantly surprised:

Only a third of Americans – including half of Republicans and one in six Democrats – say it’s OK for state officials to fly or bus migrants to other states, a sign the push by Republican Southern governors to ship foreigners north could backfire with some voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.


Only about half of Democratic respondents agreed with a statement that it should be easier for people to immigrate to the United States. A somewhat larger share of Republicans – six in 10 – disagreed.

Following a highly-publicized drive by Republican governors to bus or fly thousands of migrants to Democratic areas in recent months, 53% of Republican respondents in the poll said they supported the practice. Twenty-nine percent opposed it.

Of course, polling was not limited to border states where the impact of migrants crossing the border has the greatest impact.

However, before the Martha’s Vineyard escapade took place, polling showed a consensus that the border situation being a “crisis”:

Where Americans find consensus on immigration is in the belief that illegal immigration is a problem in the first place. In that August Economist/YouGov poll, 59 percent of Americans said the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border is a crisis. While Republicans were very likely to say so (81 percent did), a plurality of Democrats (45 percent) agreed the situation is a crisis. A majority of Americans also said it was “completely” or “somewhat” true that the U.S. is experiencing an “invasion” at its southern border, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll conducted in July. At the same time, in an August Pew Research Center survey, a sizable majority of Americans (72 percent) said taking in refugees should be a “very” or “somewhat” important goal for U.S. immigration policy, and this is true for both Democrats (85 percent) and Republicans (58 percent).

Yesterday, Chris Magnus, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said:

“People across the country should know that it’s not chaos here,” Magnus said. “People that are coming into our custody here are then processed, and many of them are seeking asylum. So if some of them are released into the country, they’re doing so legally. They still have a date to appear for an asylum hearing.”

While this is likely true, that does not mean that the Southern border is not in crisis. Moreover, what do the people actually living in border statest think?

Fifth news item

I’m no fan of Gov. Newsom, but this is another pot-meet-kettle moment from Trump’s lawyer:

P.S. Gov. Newsom is *not* currently being recalled. He survived his recall election last year.

That’s all for this Weekend Open Thread as my computer appears to be having some sort of seizure.

Have a great weekend!



Allahpundit’s, er, “Nick’s” New Dispatch Column Has a Name: Boiling Frogs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 am

Allahpundit, whom I am going to have to get used to calling “Nick Catoggio,” has established his newsletter at The Dispatch. It is titled “Boiling Frogs” and I have bookmarked it so that it can be the first thing I read every day. I recommend you do the same. In an introductory post, Nick explains the meaning of the phrase and its relevance to his topic, which will largely be politics in a populist age:

The title of this newsletter, by the way, comes from the urban legend about how frogs supposedly behave when dumped into a pot of water. If the water is boiling, they’ll leap right out. But if the water starts off lukewarm and the temperature rises gradually, the slight incremental changes will be imperceptible moment to moment and the frogs will ultimately boil alive. It’s nonsense, of course; frogs have the good sense to act when an unpleasant environment turns dangerous. We, however, might not.

On that note, I leave you with a question: At what point should a candidate’s illiberalism become disqualifying? Vance is on the ballot in Ohio. Election deniers like Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano are one race away from governing swing states. Trump diehards across the map have been nominated for secretary of state, which would place them in charge of their state’s election machinery in 2024. Trump remains the party’s presumptive nominee for president notwithstanding his coup attempt on January 6, 2021 and his habit of threatening violence if the justice system challenges his belief that he’s above the law. And if he ends up losing the next primary, it’ll only be because Ron DeSantis has convinced Republicans that he’ll be as ruthless in flouting civic norms as Trump would be when prosecuting the culture war.

The temperature of the water is getting hotter. How sure are you that you know what your party’s candidates are capable of? When should a conservative voter leap out of the pot?

Great minds think alike (GMTA), and sometimes, so does mine (ASSDM). In June I wrote a post titled The Boiling Frog which read, in its entirety, as follows:

He called for violence at his rallies! Eh, it’s OK.

He treated the U.S. government like his own personal piggy bank! Eh, it’s OK.

He extorted the president of Ukraine for political favors! Eh, it’s OK.

He refused to accept the results of a fair election! Eh, it’s OK.

He stirred up a mob to invade the Capitol! Eh, it’s OK.

He approved of a mob chanting to kill his Vice President! Eh, it’s OK.

The metaphor of the boiling frog is based on a tale that is not real. A frog placed in water that is gradually heated will jump out before the water reaches the boiling point and kills the frog.

Will we?

And in September 2020, 46 days before the election, I wrote this in the wake of a report that Trump had offered Julian Assange a pardon in exchange for information about the 2016 hacking of Democrats:

Trump fans, you can play your game about the librul media and the sourcing and how Rohrabacher was a rogue agent acting without authorization and the thing. Just go in the corner and keep your voices down. Adults are talking.

Before the frog was boiled, information suggesting that the president had explicitly offered to trade an exercise of his power for political purposes would have stunned the world. In fact, just such a revelation led to this president’s impeachment.

But since, we have learned that members of his party in the Senate will vote to keep him in office regardless of what he does, and he has piled atrocity upon atrocity, so that a staggering betrayal like this just seems like another day. Commute Roger Stone’s sentence so he won’t spill the beans about Trump’s communication with Wikileaks? Yawn. Command your troll of a U.S. Attorney to open an investigation into why your criminality was investigated, with the intent of releasing a “report” (which prosecutors who aren’t special counsels don’t do) just before the election? No big deal.

I’m told real frogs actually jump out as the temperature rises. The boiling frog thing is just a fable. We can still jump out, folks. We have 46 days.

We jumped out, all right. But a lot of people are looking at that water, dipping their little green webbed toes in it, and deciding it just may be time to jump back in.

Note well, I am not accusing AllahNick of stealing my idea; the metaphor is pretty obvious, and he does more with it than I ever did. This is entirely a GMTAASSDM situation.

Nick’s latest, this morning, is about the GOP normies’ embrace of kookism, as evidenced by Glenn Youngkin deciding to campaign for absurd crank and election denier Kari Lake. Nick describes the mutually parasitic relationship of the kooks and the normies with an unforgettable metaphor — unforgettable, that is, if you are old, like Nick and I both are:

The kooks and the normies are engaged in a sort of credibility swap, each leveraging their authority over their respective wing of the party to benefit the other. Which raises the question: If you’re one of the 58 percent who consider yourself more a supporter of the Republican Party than of Donald Trump, which Republican Party do you mean? The one in which Kari Lake is endorsed by Glenn Youngkin or the one in which Glenn Youngkin is endorsed by Kari Lake? How meaningful is that distinction?

Readers of a certain age will recall the old Reese’s commercials. The great philosophical question of whether he got chocolate in her peanut butter or she got peanut butter on his chocolate ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s the same flavor either way.

If I have one issue with the metaphor, it’s that a Reese’s peanut butter cup is delicious, whereas the GOP normies’ embrace of kookism leaves me feeling queasy.

There is plenty of commentary out there that describes the embrace of kookery from a realistic perspective: “Trump fans are a significant part of the party, and one cannot alienate them if one wants to achieve policy goals . . . and after all, what do you want? Democrats in power?” This is the sort of commentary one can expect from a Charles C.W. Cooke or a Dan McLaughlin, both of whom I personally like and whose writing I admire. But I categorically disagree with their approach and see it as short-sighted for the reasons described in Allahpun–er, “Nick’s” most recent post.

I see some folks complain that focusing on the kookery of the Trump wing of the GOP amounts to giving Democrats a free pass. I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s a matter of putting things in perspective. Trump actually tried to steal an election. That’s kind of a big deal. Literally nothing any national Democrat has done in my lifetime comes close — and I say that as someone who was a lifetime Republican until the very day Ted Cruz withdrew from the 2016 primary race. To compare Trump’s attempted election theft to, say, Joe Biden’s cancellation of student debt — as outrageous and illegal as that is — is to complain about the mote in the Democrats’ eye while ignoring the beam in our own. To paraphrase the advice given in the Sermon on the Mount: GOP, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of the Democrats’ eye.

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