Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:42 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Navalny continues to be an irritant to Moscow, and yet one that also strikes fear in the powers-that-be. He tweets:

The main torment of imprisonment is, of course, the inability to see the faces of your family, to talk to your loved ones. I haven’t had any visits for 8 months and yesterday I was told that I’d be transferred to a cell-type facility for the maximum possible term of 6 months. No visits are allowed there. This means more than a year without a visit. Even maniacs and serial killers serving life sentences have the right to receive a visit, but I don’t. Well, hardships make one tougher, though I don’t understand why this should apply to my children too. But most importantly, when something like this happens to you, you realize how important it is to fight this unscrupulous regime, how important it is to do just about anything in order to throw the yoke of these scoundrels off Russia and dispel the illusion that they have planted in the heads of millions.

Let us try to remain strong and do all we can every day.

Navalny’s daughter told CNN after learning about her father being moved to solitary confinement that Vladimir Putin and the FPS are slowly torturing and killing him.

The particular cruelty of today’s Russian prisons :

One might object that Russia’s history is a litany of imprisonments—nothing new under Putin. This is not quite right since Russian prisons have evolved as reflections of the regimes that have used them to muzzle opposition. We know this from literature: many Russian writers have endured prison and lived to tell about it. Dostoyevsky, in The House of the Dead, relates his experience: collective detention rooms, with their fleas and their filth, but also their sharing of tea and alcohol. The horror was tempered by a kind of camaraderie. If Navalny had the choice, he would surely go back to Dostoyevsky’s time. Putin’s regime is far crueler than the Czars’ ever was. And at the end of the nineteenth century, the Czars were becoming more humane under European influence. Chekov traveled all the way to the penal colony of Sakhalin Island to assess the condition of the prisoners. Each had his stone hut and his garden. The air was pure, as Chekov relates, and the prisoners’ main complaint was that Sakhalin was far from home; they did not want to be buried in Asia, so far from their European birthplace. Navalny would probably like to go back to Chekov’s time—or even to the time of Solzhenitsyn. To be sure, the Gulag Archipelago was a harsh place, where one froze in the winter. But Solzhenitsyn was treated for cancer in the Gulag, where he recovered. And he had the paper and pencil necessary to write his memoirs. Today’s Russia, as revealed by its prisons, is thus crueler than the previous regimes ever were.


The Russia expert who uncovered the poison attack on Navalny on the run from the reach of the Kremlin:

The Bulgarian Russia expert and investigative journalist Christo Grozev wants to leave his adopted country of Austria because he himself has become a target of the Kremlin. Vienna, his home for almost 20 years, has become so dangerous for Grozev that he will not return here for the time being, the “Falter” reported on Wednesday. “I suspect that there are more Russian agents, informers and henchmen in the city than police officers,” the weekly newspaper quoted him as saying.

The 53-year-old journalist, who has been working for the investigative website “Bellingcat” since 2015, was put out by Russia for a wanted manhunt in December. Grozev gained international fame when he tracked down the assassins after the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In a phone call made under a false identity, Navalny was able to get one of the perpetrators to describe how the poison attack was carried out. Grozev found out about the group through creative data-journalistic approaches, such as the use of airline passenger data.

If you haven’t watched the documentary Navalny, you need to. I’m so happy to see that it has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature film. Hopefully, it will give Navalny’s cause even more exposure, and further expose the vileness that is Putin and the Kremlin.

Second news item

UPDATE : The balloon was downed this morning by Air Force fighter aircraft over the Carolina coast. The recovery effort is now underway.

Despite some people thinking it silly or paranoid to discuss or be concerned about the balloon’s presence over the continental United States, it would appear that it presented a serious enough problem that the administration and Pentagon felt it needed to be brought down. There may have also been concerned that the balloon could be collecting intelligence that might be problematic for us. We just don’t know. Perhaps we will learn more in the coming week. One last thought: It’s also quite possible that President Biden also felt he needed to respond to China’s provocation and send the message that if they violate our airspace there will be consequences. I think it’s an important message to send.

Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana:

A massive spy balloon believed to be from China was seen above Montana and is being tracked as it flies across the continental United States, with President Joe Biden for now deciding against “military options” because of the risk to civilians, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Still, officials insisted, they continue to closely monitor the vessel as they have since it entered the country — while voicing their concern to Beijing.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is flying over the continental United States right now,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement on Thursday. “NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] continues to track and monitor it closely.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry claims that it’s a weather balloon used for scientific research and simply drifted off course.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed this morning that it is a surveillance balloon, not a weather balloon, despite China’s insistence that it’s a weather balloon. He also reiterated that they don’t believe the balloon poses any threat to the U.S., but they did say that its presence violates U.S. airspace. The balloon is moving eastward, and there was no answer as to the question of whether the balloon was being controlled by China, or if it was just floating on its own.

JVW emails:

…if the balloon satellite poses no greater risk of gathering intelligence than low-orbit Chinese satellites do, then why would China even bother to launch this balloon, knowing full well that it would cause controversy here? Unless of course what they really want to know is how supine the Biden Administration will be when China provokes us. I guess they have found their answer, and it would not redound to our favor.

I think he’s hit on something there…but, if the U.S. knows that it’s a surveillance balloon collecting information over sensitive sites below (per the Pentagon) but we can’t take it out because the debris could injure people, it seems we are sending one of two messages: we may not have the ability to safely shoot it down, or we do but want to keep any such capabilities secret. But it’s just peculiar that the mere fact that it’s a Chinese spy balloon collecting information while over sensitive sites in the U.S. doesn’t compel us to take any seemingly real action… And let’s not forget that Antony Blinken has now canceled his scheduled trip to China as a result of the spy balloon, which indicates to me that it’s a far more serious issue than the Pentagon is letting on.

Third news item

Just terrible:

A New Jersey councilwoman — the mother of a young daughter and leader of her church — was shot and killed in a possible attack outside her home, an incident officials are calling “shocking” and “senseless.”

Eunice Dwumfour was the first sitting elected official in recent memory who had been shot and killed in office in the state, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters Thursday.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone told ABC News the councilwoman’s political position does not yet appear to have played any role in the homicide.

Dwumfour was inside her white SUV when she was shot Wednesday night, officials said. She sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Police have no clear motive for Dwumfour’s killing, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

If police have no “clear motive” for Dwumfour’s murder, then how can the prosecutor say with any certainty, that Dwumfour’s politics didn’t play a role in the homicide? This jump-the-gun nonsense reminds me of Kamala Harris deeming that Jussie Smollett was the victim of an attempted “attempted modern-day lynching” even before an investigation took place…

Fourth news item

The importance of preventing Russia from rebuilding military capabilities:

European Union sanctions on Russia should be targeted at stopping Moscow from rebuilding its military capability, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.

“We are very interested to ensure that Russia fails to rebuild military production. Sanctions are slowing down this process. We know precisely how many rockets were built there before the full-scale invasion and what happens now as result of sanctions from EU, US, Britain and other partners. Therefore, for us it is very important to make sure they don’t have the capability to bypass sanctions as they often manage with help of some other countries,” Zelensky said at a news conference in Kyiv alongside top European Union officials…”It is very important not to allow any dilution of the important European sanctions that have already been approved, as well as any relaxation of these sanctions against some individuals, as is speculated in some countries, and even in EU member states,” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is attempting to hold onto the Eastern city of Bakhmut. Zelensky is emphatic that the city will not be surrendered.

After eight months of grinding combat, Russian forces are bearing down on the city from three directions, leaving Ukraine’s main supply line under severe pressure and Kyiv facing an agonising choice over the cost of holding its ground…While analysts say Bakhmut has little military significance, the city has become the focal point of both Ukrainian resistance and Moscow’s drive to regain battlefield momentum…with relentless shelling and first world war-style attacks, Russian forces have managed to capture several towns and villages around Bakhmut in recent weeks. Most notable among them was the salt mining town of Soledar, 15km to the north.

Unsurprisingly, it is now Russian troops supporting Wagner Group fighters in the battle for Bakhmut:

Fighters from the Wagner Group, a mercenary organisation founded by close Putin ally Evgeny Prigozhin, have been in the vanguard of the Russian assault. Many of its fighters were recruited from prison colonies in far-flung Russian regions. They were used as “cannon fodder”, Ukrainian soldiers told the Financial Times during a visit in December.

Fifth news item

Giving homeschoolers a bad name:

Ohio’s education department said it would investigate the apparent use of fascist materials by a home-schooling network after reports that the pro-Nazi group is run by a couple living in the state. The course materials denigrate the intelligence of African Americans and celebrate Adolf Hitler..But there’s likely little the state can do because while the state mandates that certain topics be taught, it does not govern details of what home school can and cannot include.

Specifics of the materials:

The messages and lessons distributed by the home schooling network are filled with Nazi, white supremacist and racist lessons…When the network reached its 1,000th subscriber [WHAT??!!], leaders celebrated with a photo of boys delivering a Nazi salute… She told a podcast called “Achtung! Amerikaner” that she started the network because she was having trouble finding “Nazi approved school material for my home-schooled children.”

She also said: “We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi.”

One lesson distributed by the network teaches students that Black people have lower IQs than White people do. The lessons venerate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and denigrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Mrs. Saxon” also talks of celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday with favorite German foods, bragging about making a “swastika apple pie.”

Sixth news item

The problem with both political parties, in a nutshell:

Both parties are missing something big. For the Democrats it’s an inability to accept a gift from history and become a normal party again. For the Republicans, it’s an inability to agree on what they stand for in this century, and an inability to talk about the meaning of things.

Seventh news item


Lawyers representing Hunter Biden are urging federal and state investigations into several allies of former President Donald Trump, including Rudy Giuliani, alleging they unlawfully disseminated personal data used to attack his father, President Joe Biden.

The action by Biden’s attorneys, in letters to the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, represent an aggressive offensive as House Republicans are poised to launch inquiries into the Biden family.

In a separate letter to Fox News and personality Tucker Carlson, attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that the network retract reporting from a broadcast last month or face a possible defamation lawsuit.

Eighth news item

Worrisome call to arms in 2024:

On his Truth Social platform, Trump shared the message of a user actively encouraging physical violence on his behalf.

Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort “will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.”

“People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,” the user said. “What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.”

Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort “will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.”

“People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,” the user said. “What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.”

Ninth news item

Heroes who continue to fight for freedom:

An exile confirms the brutal tactic:

[Director of Abdul-Rahman Berman, Center for Human Rights in Iran] Roya Boroumand said another tactic used by Iranian police is to target people’s faces with pellets, which could result in them losing their eyesight.

Saman told ABC News that he was a victim of this tactic.

He said that an Iranian officer shot him in the eye with the paintball gun while he was attending a protest in Valiasr Square in September 2022. Saman was hospitalized and lost his left eye.

While recuperating in the hospital, Saman said he found out that the police were looking for his hospital room number.

“Fortunately I was in the examination room and, with my friend’s help, I managed to get myself to the hospital’s yard and escaped,” he said. “By leaving the country, I decided to make my face living evidence for the world to see the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crimes closely.”

Tenth news item

For starters, any U.S. president who fomented an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and encouraged rioters does not deserve to have any public entity named after him. Shame on these lawmakers:

Two lawmakers would like to see a portion of the street near the Tennessee Capitol Building renamed for a former president rather than the late Rep. John Lewis.

Sen. Frank Nicely (R—Strawberry Plains) and Rep. Paul Sherrell (R—Sparta) introduced a bill that would rename two-tenths of a mile of Rep. John Lewis Way to President Donald Trump Boulevard.

When I contast the lives of John Lewis and Donald Trump…


Father Brown is a favorite of mine for the same reasons, so now I love Bob Dylan even more after he said:

I recently binged Coronation Street, Father Brown, and some early Twilight Zones. I know they’re old-fashioned, but they make me feel at home. I’m no fan of packaged programmes or news shows…

Have a great weekend!


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