[guest post by Dana]
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!