16
   

Monitoring Biden and other Contemporary Events

 
 
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 07:31 am
Litter Boxes for Students Who Identify as Furries? Not So, Says School Official

A Michigan school superintendent debunked the rumor after a video from a December school board meeting resurfaced in which a speaker airs concerns about students who “identify as cats.”

Quote:
It started with a comment at a school board meeting, which was later amplified by a Michigan state Republican leader, and culminated with a school superintendent explaining that, no, there were no litter boxes on school grounds for students to use if they identified as furries.

“It is unconscionable that this afternoon I am sending this communication,” the superintendent of Midland Public Schools, Michael Sharrow, wrote on Thursday in an email to parents that was also shared on Facebook. “However, our Midland PS stakeholders may be confused about a false message/accusation that has resurfaced this week and is gaining traction in the social media realm.”

The rumor that furries — people who have an interest in anthropomorphic animal characters and sometimes dress up as them — used litter boxes in the school district, which is about two hours northwest of Detroit, appears to have started at a school board session last month, based on a video of the meeting.

A member of the public who spoke at the meeting, Lisa Hansen, says in the video that she was informed by someone the day before the meeting that litter boxes had been added to the “unisex bathrooms” for students who “identify as cats.”

“I was stunned,” Ms. Hansen says in the video. “And today I am equally stunned and a little bit upset — well, not a little bit, a lot of bit upset. Furious — I would even use that word.”

Ms. Hansen says in the video that there is an “agenda that is being pushed through our schools is — just my opinion — but somewhat nefarious when it comes to some of the activities.”

She goes on to say that this is a “nationwide” issue, adding, “I’m all for creativity and imagination, but when someone lives in a fantasy world and expects other people to go along with it, I have a problem with that.”

Ms. Hansen, who could not be reached on Saturday, also says in the video that she plans to do more “investigation” into the issue.

The school board members at the meeting did not respond to Ms. Hansen’s comments, but her remarks gained traction after Meshawn Maddock, a chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, shared a video of the school board meeting and the comments on Facebook on Thursday.

“Kids who identify as ‘furries’ get a litter box in the school bathroom,” Ms. Maddock wrote in a Facebook post sharing the video of the board meeting. “Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools.”

In his statement, Mr. Sharrow debunked the rumor as categorically false.

“Let me be clear in this communication,” he wrote. “There is no truth whatsoever to this false statement/accusation! There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools.”

Mr. Sharrow did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. The Michigan Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday, and Ms. Maddock could not be reached.

According to Furscience, a website run by a multidisciplinary team of scientists studying furry fandom, “furry describes a diverse community of fans, artists, writers, gamers, and role players.”

“Most furries create for themselves an anthropomorphized animal character (fursona) with whom they identify and can function as an avatar within the community,” the website says.

In mass media, furries are usually associated with sexual fetishes, the website says, but “the most-cited draw to the furry fandom is its sense of belongingness, recreation, and escape from the mundaneness of daily life.”

Sharon E. Roberts, an associate professor of social development studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada and a founder of Furscience, said in an email on Saturday that she could not comment specifically about the Michigan school because she was not familiar with the situation.

She added, though, that “there is evidence of significant misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the furry fandom leading to claims like this (and worse).”

Mr. Sharrow, the superintendent, citing a backdrop of “this divisive/contentious world in which we currently find ourselves,” urged parents to contact him if rumors like this surfaced again.

“It is such a source of disappointment that I felt the necessity to communicate this message to you,” he wrote.

nyt
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 09:38 am
@snood,
Quote:
Update: that fine upstanding citizen who threatened to come back to the school board loaded for bear has been arrested.
I saw that. Her on-second-thought apology didn't do the trick, it seems.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 10:05 am
Republicans (and ManSinema): Obstruct, Defend the Coup, Lie about Covid and vaccinations, Bring nothing to a vote, Write zero legislation to help people

The Media’s only questions: “Why can’t democrats get their act together? How do you explain Biden’s drop in popularity polls? What are Democrats not doing, to get on the right track?”
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 10:05 am
@hightor,
Quote:
A member of the public who spoke at the meeting, Lisa Hansen, says in the video that she was informed by someone the day before the meeting that litter boxes had been added to the “unisex bathrooms” for students who “identify as cats.”

"Informed by someone". Clearly she has a black belt in critical thinking.

We ought to observe that this current broad project to disrupt school board meetings is a replay of Tea Party activists disrupting meetings, discussions and speeches particularly related to Obamacare. That too was a well-organized and well-funded political operation supported by right wing media entities. FOX News, for example, providing lists (with maps) of sites and dates of upcoming protests and in some cases, providing top level FOX personalities to appear at the protests.
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 10:37 am
@blatham,
Quote:
We ought to observe that this current broad project to disrupt school board meetings is a replay of Tea Party activists disrupting meetings, discussions and speeches particularly related to Obamacare.

And previously a similar tactic was employed by the religious right – not disruption of school board meetings, but running candidates at the local level. This is actually a form of democracy at work and scores of born again christianists were elected at various levels of municipal government. The steam sort of dissipated – I think 9/11 might have had something to do with it – but I always wondered if liberals could ever mount a campaign like that. Probably not as there just doesn't seem to be that sort of single-minded commitment among the average Democrat. I mean, would you want to serve on a local school committee, planning commission, or appeals board?

If we ever emerge from this circling drain of a sinking democracy I'd really like to see some pushback on the idea that parents are supposed to have control over school curriculum. Again we see the devaluation of expertise and I suspect that there will be huge crop of very poorly home-educated kids who will be unleashed on the labor market with no real background in critical thinking and little exposure to cultural diversity.

blatham
 
  2  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 12:10 pm
@hightor,
Quote:
And previously a similar tactic was employed by the religious right – not disruption of school board meetings, but running candidates at the local level.

Yes. That happened here in BC as well about 25 years ago as our religious right crowd was increasingly in contact with their counterparts down south and adopting political strategies from them.

One of my two sisters in law (ex-teacher) is on the school board in Abbotsford (site of massive farmland flooding two months ago). This community's politics are heavily influenced by the faith crowd and school board meetings and operations can be quite contentious. One of my cousins was the mayor of this city until 3 years ago. He would certainly never have gained the position had our grandfather not been held in high esteem by the Mennonites in the valley. When he was ousted, it was by someone much more closely aligned with the modern religious folks.

Quote:
I'd really like to see some pushback on the idea that parents are supposed to have control over school curriculum.

Yes. They have quite proper roles on school boards or in voicing opinions on school operations or on curricula, etc, but establishment of and determining of curriculum is something else. For example, the desire and lobbying efforts from the religious right to establish rules that mandate teaching Creation Science alongside evolutionary theory in science classes isn't something educators can abide.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 04:16 pm
Quote:
Liz Cheney
@Liz_Cheney
2h
A former Speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent January 6 attack on our Capitol and our Constitution.

This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.

The subject of Cheney's tweet is Newt Gingrich (who was speaking on FOX).
Quote:
Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of a strong central power to preserve the political status quo, and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting.[1]
excerpt from wikipedia

I don't think anyone has asked georgeob to explain Liz Cheney's position re the modern GOP.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 05:23 pm
It’s almost too stupid to post, but it’s going to be STATE LAW in Florida that schools and businesses are prohibited from making anyone “feel discomfort or guilt” when teaching about race in US history.


https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-bill-whites-discomfort-critical-race-theory-desantis/
blatham
 
  3  
Reply Sun 23 Jan, 2022 06:17 pm
@snood,
Quote:
it’s going to be STATE LAW in Florida that schools and businesses are prohibited from making anyone “feel discomfort or guilt” when teaching about race in US history.

Nothing says "freedom" and "liberty" like modern American conservative ideology.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 06:53 am
US conservatives linked to rich donors wage campaign to ban books from schools

Experts say trend is accelerating as groups push for bans of works that often address race, LGBTQ issues and marginalized people

Quote:
Conservative groups across the US, often linked to deep-pocketed rightwing donors, are carrying out a campaign to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues or marginalized communities.

Literature has already been removed from schools in Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Librarians and teachers warn the trend is on the increase, as groups backed by wealthy Republican donors use centrally drawn up tactics and messaging to harangue school districts into removing certain texts.

In October, the Texas state representative Matt Krause sent a list of 850 books to school districts, asking that they report how many copies they have of each title and how much had been spent on those books.

The Texas Tribune reported that the books included two by Ta-Nehisi Coates; LGBT Families by Leanne K Currie-McGhee; and ‘Pink is a Girl Color’ … and Other Silly Things People Say, a children’s book by Stacy and Erik Drageset. Krause’s list sparked panic in schools, and by December a district in San Antonio said it was reviewing 414 titles in its libraries.

In Pennsylvania, the Central York school board banned a long list of books, almost entirely titles by, or about, people of color, including books by Jacqueline Woodson, Ijeoma Oluo and Ibram X Kendi, and children’s titles about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. “Let’s just call it what it is – every author on that list is a Black voice,” one teacher told the York Dispatch.

Four high schools in Utah’s Canyons school district removed copies of at least nine books, the Deseret News reported, including Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe; the Bluest Eye, a book by the Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison that addresses racial and gender oppression; and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez, a story about romance in a racially divided 1930s Texas.

Groups purporting to be “grassroots” efforts have frequently led the charge, petitioning school boards or elected officials to remove certain books. Though some of these organizations present themselves as a local effort that sprang up around groups of parents united behind a cause, many of the groups involved in banning books are in fact linked, and backed by influential conservative donors.

Most of the books relate to race or gender equality, at a time when some Republicans are mounting an effort to prevent teaching on race in schools by launching a loud campaign against critical race theory, an academic discipline that examines the ways in which racism operates in US laws and society.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said the number of attempts to ban books had soared through 2021.

“What’s unique is it appears to be an organized effort by a number of advocacy groups to activate members in local chapters to challenge books in school libraries and public libraries in the United States,” she said.

“We’ve noted that there are a number of groups like Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, No Left Turn in Education that have particular views on what is appropriate for young people, and they’re trying to implement their agenda – particularly in schools, but also taking their concerns to public libraries as well.”

Caldwell-Stone said ALA received 156 book challenges – an attempt to remove or restrict one or more books – in 2020. In the last three months of 2021 alone, the organization saw 330 book challenges.

In most incidents there is a common format. According to the conservative groups, one parent of a child at school has spotted an allegedly unsuitable book, and has raised the alarm. But the movement is far from organic.

The name Moms for Liberty might suggest a homely, kitchen-table effort. In reality, Moms for Liberty is associated with other supposed grassroots groups backed by conservative donors, who appear to be driving the book-banning effort.

Moms for Liberty groups are promoted on the website of Parents Defending Education (PDE), another conservative group, and in May Moms for Liberty joined with PDE to write a letter to Miguel Cardona, the US education secretary, expressing concerns over federal efforts to include teaching about the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans in US society.

Moms for Liberty did not respond to a request for comment.

Asra Nomani, PDE’s vice-president for strategy and investigations, has appeared on Fox News to rail against some books, including Woke Baby and Gender Queer, being in Virginia libraries, and PDE carries a list of books it deems problematic on its website.

PDE, which launched in spring of 2021, has emerged as one of the key organizations in the conservative fight for influence in public schools. The group describes itself as a “grassroots organization”, but has ties to deep-pocket conservative money and influence.

PDE’s president, Nicole Neilly, was previously the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum and worked at the Cato Institute, a rightwing thinktank co-founded by Republican mega-donor Charles Koch. The Intercept reported that the IWF has received large donations from Republican donor Leonard Leo, a former vice-president of the Koch-funded Federalist Society who advised Donald Trump on judicial appointments.

PDE’s website offers templates as to how aggrieved people can get involved. The group is behind an effort to create a web of coordinated Instagram pages that highlight perceived liberal bias at specific schools, and offers a step-by-step guide to doing the same, from how to create a specific gmail address to match the mission to how to describe the instagram account. The guide advises: “For the ‘full name’ field, use ‘Woke at [school name].’ For the ‘username’ field, use ‘wokeat[school name].’”

PDE, which has also railed against critical race theory, even tells parents they should spy on teachers’ online activity to seek incriminating material.

“Look at the social media pages of teachers and administrators at your school. They are often quite proud of what they’re doing and sometimes post incriminating statements or materials,” PDE’s website says.

Another aim, beyond banning books, is exposed in PDE’s efforts to encourage conservative parents to run for school boards – an often ignored position that wields a considerable amount of power.

PDE offers a guide on how parents can run, and while also describing how to gain influence on Parent Teacher Student Associations. It even offers specific questions disgruntled parents can pose to their school boards.

PDE did not respond to a request for comment.

No Left Turn in Education, whose chapters are promoted on PDE’s website, is another of the groups leading the charge. No Left Turn’s website contains a list of more than 60 books it deems inappropriate.

Again, the group has links to deep-pocketed conservatives. The Milwaukee Journal reported that Elana Fishbein, No Left Turn in Education’s founder, has provided free legal representation for parents wishing to challenge school districts. According to Journal, most of those lawyers are affiliated with the Liberty Justice Center and Pacific Legal Foundation, which receive funding from the prominent GOP donor Dick Uihlein, a Wisconsin-based billionaire.

No Left Turn in Education did not respond to requests for comment.

The banning of books about race or LGBTQ issues does not just affect those communities, said Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association. It also withholds the opportunity for all students to learn “an honest and accurate truth of our history”.

“Censoring the full history of America impacts all of us as a country,” Anderson said.

“If we’re not willing to embrace the beauty of America, which is that our diversity is our strength, then we weaken the core idea of America. So it’s offensive, certainly, to people of color and other Americans who have traditionally been marginalized, but ultimately we’re short-changing every single student if we don’t tell the truth.”

In Texas, Krause, who was running for state attorney general when he released his list of 850 books – he has since dropped out of the race – did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about how he came up with his list of books.

Krause told Education Week he chose to act after school boards began reviewing books of “an inappropriate nature”.

“None of us wants grossly inappropriately material in our schools,” he said.

As the conservative effort has grown, there has been pushback in many states, from authors, teachers, librarians and students. Carolyn Foote, a library advocate who co-founded the group FReadom Fighters to push back against banning efforts, said the conservative efforts represent a “danger to democracy”.

“The supreme court protects young people’s right to choose library materials to read as a first amendment right. It also is growing to include more and more titles, which is concerning, and a minority of parents are impacting all students,” Foote said.

The Pennsylvania ban was overturned in September 2021 after students protested outside their York County high school and outside school board meetings. In Virginia, high school students managed to overturn the Spotsylvania book ban in similar fashion, while Caldwell-Stone said the ALA will continue to highlight the book-banning efforts.

“We don’t oppose the ability of parents to guide their children’s reading,” she said.

“What we have deep concerns about is one parent, or one small group of parents, making decisions for an entire community about what is appropriate reading, based on their own moral and religious values.”

guardian
Walter Hinteler
 
  3  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 07:11 am
Outrage as Newt Gingrich says Capitol attack investigators could be jailed
Quote:
Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, stoked outrage on Sunday by predicting members of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack will be imprisoned if Republicans retake the chamber this year.
[...]
He made his prediction on Fox News, for which he is a contributor.

Calling the members of the 6 January committee “wolves [who] are going to find out that they’re now sheep”, he said that if Republicans take Congress in November, “this is all going to come crashing down … they’re the ones who in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking”.
[...]
Gingrich said: “You have, both with Attorney General [Merrick] Garland and this select committee on 6 January, people who have run amok … they’re running over people’s civil liberties.

“And what they need to understand is on 4 January next year, you’re going to have a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate. And all these people who have been so tough, and so mean, and so nasty are going to be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email.”

Gingrich also said the committee was “basically a lynch mob”.
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 10:29 am
@hightor,
That's a great piece! Thank you!

When one digs down into the operations, entities and persons at the center of the conservative movement which has effectively taken control of the GOP, many of the same names keep popping up.
Quote:
PDE’s president, Nicole Neilly, was previously the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum and worked at the Cato Institute, a rightwing thinktank co-founded by Republican mega-donor Charles Koch. The Intercept reported that the IWF has received large donations from Republican donor Leonard Leo, a former vice-president of the Koch-funded Federalist Society who advised Donald Trump on judicial appointments.

This guy was the chief strategist who got John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett onto the modern court. But his associations and activism goes far beyond that.
Quote:
Leo has served on the Board of Directors of various organizations such as Reclaim New York, a charity with ties to conservative activists Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon; Liberty Central, a charity founded by Virginia Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas; the Catholic Association and an affiliated charity, the Catholic Association Foundation; The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast; the Becket Law Fund; Students for Life; the Napa Legal Institute; the Youth Leadership Foundation; and the Board of Visitors at The Busch School of Business at Catholic University.

Leo is a member of the Council for National Policy, whose other members include, among others, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas; Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center; and Ralph Reed, chairman of the nonprofit Faith & Freedom Coalition.[37]
wikipedia "Leonard Leo"

Leo also sits on the board of the Catholic Information Center which seems to be the lobbying arm of the Opus Dei crowd in America, that is, an unyeilding and ultra-conservative corner of the Catholic faith see here. As this reporting details, the prior director of CIC was the Rev. C. John McCloskey, an Opus Dei priest who converted Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich and Larry Kudlow among others to his faith. McCloskey was later removed for mucking about with female parishoners under his care.

On that board with Leo are William Barr and Pat Cipollone, Trump's White House Counsel during the impeachment hearings.

I've posted links to William Barr's speech at Notre Dame two or three years back where Barr quite candidly forwarded his notion that proper governance must be theocratic (his theology, of course).

I bring this all up not merely to further detail how interconnected these power points in the movement and party are, but also to make another point. That is... it should come as no surprise at all that the modern GOP is driven by people and ideas which are deeply authoritarian in nature. These folks do not have affinity for democracy. They don't trust it. Not unlike many in the military, they are at home in strict hierarchies and where authority is tightly defined and irrefutable.

0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 10:37 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
Outrage as Newt Gingrich says Capitol attack investigators could be jailed

... He made his prediction on Fox News, for which he is a contributor.


There are a lot of people responsible for the degradation of American civil culture and the nation's descent towards authoritarianism but these two men are at the top of that list.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 10:45 am
Fiona Hill: Putin Has the U.S. Right Where He Wants It

Quote:
We knew this was coming.

“George, you have to understand that Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.” These were the ominous words of President Vladimir Putin of Russia to President George W. Bush in Bucharest, Romania, at a NATO summit in April 2008.

Mr. Putin was furious: NATO had just announced that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually join the alliance. This was a compromise formula to allay concerns of our European allies — an explicit promise to join the bloc, but no specific timeline for membership.

At the time, I was the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia, part of a team briefing Mr. Bush. We warned him that Mr. Putin would view steps to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action. But ultimately, our warnings weren’t heeded.

Within four months, in August 2008, Russia invaded Georgia. Ukraine got Russia’s message loud and clear. It backpedaled on NATO membership for the next several years. But in 2014, Ukraine wanted to sign an association agreement with the European Union, thinking this might be a safer route to the West. Moscow struck again, accusing Ukraine of seeking a back door to NATO, annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and starting an ongoing proxy war in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region. The West’s muted reactions to both the 2008 and 2014 invasions emboldened Mr. Putin.

This time, Mr. Putin’s aim is bigger than closing NATO’s “open door” to Ukraine and taking more territory — he wants to evict the United States from Europe. As he might put it: “Goodbye America. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

As I have seen over two decades of observing Mr. Putin, and analyzing his moves, his actions are purposeful and his choice of this moment to throw down the gauntlet in Ukraine and Europe is very intentional. He has a personal obsession with history and anniversaries. December 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Russia lost its dominant position in Europe. Mr. Putin wants to give the United States a taste of the same bitter medicine Russia had to swallow in the 1990s. He believes that the United States is currently in the same predicament as Russia was after the Soviet collapse: grievously weakened at home and in retreat abroad. He also thinks NATO is nothing more than an extension of the United States. Russian officials and commentators routinely deny any agency or independent strategic thought to other NATO members. So, when it comes to the alliance, all Moscow’s moves are directed against Washington.

In the 1990s, the United States and NATO forced Russia to withdraw the remnants of the Soviet military from their bases in Eastern Europe, Germany and the Baltic States. Mr. Putin wants the United States to suffer in a similar way. From Russia’s perspective, America’s domestic travails after four years of President Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency, as well as the rifts he created with U.S. allies and then America’s precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan, signal weakness. If Russia presses hard enough, Mr. Putin hopes he can strike a new security deal with NATO and Europe to avoid an open-ended conflict, and then it will be America’s turn to leave, taking its troops and missiles with it.

Ukraine is both Russia’s target and a source of leverage against the United States. Over the last several months Mr. Putin has bogged the Biden administration down in endless tactical games that put the United States on the defensive. Russia moves forces to Ukraine’s borders, launches war games and ramps up the visceral commentary. In recent official documents, it demanded ironclad guarantees that Ukraine (and other former republics of the U.S.S.R.) will never become members of NATO, that NATO pull back from positions taken after 1997, and also that America withdraw its own forces and weapons, including its nuclear missiles. Russian representatives assert that Moscow doesn’t “need peace at any cost” in Europe. Some Russian politicians even suggest the possibility of a pre-emptive strike against NATO targets to make sure that we know they are serious, and that we should meet Moscow’s demands.

For weeks, American officials have huddled to make sense of the official documents with Russia’s demands and the contradictory commentary, pondered how to deter Mr. Putin in Ukraine and scrambled to talk on his timeline.

All the while, Mr. Putin and his proxies have ratcheted up their statements. Kremlin officials have not just challenged the legitimacy of America’s position in Europe, they have raised questions about America’s bases in Japan and its role in the Asia-Pacific region. They have also intimated that they may ship hypersonic missiles to America’s back door in Cuba and Venezuela to revive what the Russians call the Caribbean Crisis of the 1960s.

Mr. Putin is a master of coercive inducement. He manufactures a crisis in such a way that he can win no matter what anyone else does. Threats and promises are essentially one and the same. Mr. Putin can invade Ukraine yet again, or he can leave things where they are and just consolidate the territory Russia effectively controls in Crimea and Donbas. He can stir up trouble in Japan and send hypersonic missiles to Cuba and Venezuela, or not, if things go his way in Europe.

Mr. Putin plays a longer, strategic game and knows how to prevail in the tactical scrum. He has the United States right where he wants it. His posturing and threats have set the agenda in European security debates, and have drawn our full attention. Unlike President Biden, Mr. Putin doesn’t have to worry about midterm elections or pushback from his own party or the opposition. Mr. Putin has no concerns about bad press or poor poll ratings. He isn’t part of a political party and he has crushed the Russian opposition. The Kremlin has largely silenced the local, independent press. Mr. Putin is up for re-election in 2024, but his only viable opponent, Aleksei Navalny, is locked in a penal colony outside of Moscow.

So Mr. Putin can act as he chooses, when he chooses. Barring ill health, the United States will have to contend with him for years to come. Right now, all signs indicate that Mr. Putin will lock the U.S. into an endless tactical game, take more chunks out of Ukraine and exploit all the frictions and fractures in NATO and the European Union. Getting out of the current crisis requires acting, not reacting. The United States needs to shape the diplomatic response and engage Russia on the West’s terms, not just Moscow’s.

To be sure, Russia does have some legitimate security concerns, and European security arrangements could certainly do with fresh thinking and refurbishment after 30 years. There is plenty for Washington and Moscow to discuss on the conventional and nuclear forces as well as in the cyber domain and on other fronts. But a further Russian invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s dismemberment and neutralization cannot be an issue for U.S.-Russian negotiation nor a line item in European security. Ultimately, the United States needs to show Mr. Putin that he will face global resistance and Mr. Putin’s aggression will put Russia’s political and economic relationships at risk far beyond Europe.

Contrary to Mr. Putin’s premise in 2008 that Ukraine is “not a real country,” Ukraine has been a full-fledged member of the United Nations since 1991. Another Russian assault would challenge the entire U.N. system and imperil the arrangements that have guaranteed member states’ sovereignty since World War II — akin to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but on an even bigger scale. The United States and its allies, and Ukraine itself, should take this issue to the United Nations and put it before the General Assembly as well as the Security Council. Even if Russia blocks a resolution, the future of Ukraine merits a global response. The United States should also raise concerns in other regional institutions. Why is Russia trying to take its disputes in Europe to Asia and the Western Hemisphere? What does Ukraine have to do with Japan, or Cuba and Venezuela?

Mr. Biden has promised that Russia “will pay a heavy price” if any Russian troops cross Ukraine’s borders. If Mr. Putin invades Ukraine with no punitive action from the West and the rest of the international community, beyond financial sanctions, then he will have set a precedent for future action by other countries. Mr. Putin has already factored additional U.S. financial sanctions into his calculations. But he assumes that some NATO allies will be reluctant to follow suit on these sanctions and other countries will look the other way. U.N. censure, widespread and vocal international opposition, and countries outside Europe taking action to pull back on their relations with Russia might give him pause. Forging a united front with its European allies and rallying broader support should be America’s longer game. Otherwise this saga could indeed mark the beginning of the end of America’s military presence in Europe.

nyt/hill
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 10:54 am
@hightor,
Yes. Just read that. She's an incredibly smart lady, that one. By the way, her interview on David Axelrod's podcast (The Axe Files) is seriously worthwhile.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  3  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 11:22 am
Quote:
The latest GOP idea: A police force to ferret out voter fraud

In the battle over voting rights, an idea is starting to move around in Republican circles: designated police forces designed to hunt down voter fraud. On the basis of available evidence, this is a solution in search of a problem. It is another example of what comes from former president Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has put a proposal for such a force in his new budget. In Georgia, former U.S. senator David Perdue, who is running as a Trumpian candidate in the GOP primary for governor against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R), says he wants something like it to assure that only legal votes are counted.

DeSantis’s new budget calls for $5.7 million for his Office of Election Crimes and Security. The money would pay for 52 staffers, including 20 sworn law enforcement officers and 25 non-sworn investigators, with field offices around the state. The team would go after “election crimes and irregularities” and have the power to refer findings to a statewide prosecutor.

DeSantis’s office provided background material that noted that the governor does not have law enforcement responsibilities and that the governor would not direct the team to pursue specific allegations.

“The governor simply wants to ensure that Floridians will have a clear, straightforward way to report suspected voter fraud, and that a dedicated team of law enforcement personnel can address it in accordance with the law,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s press secretary, said in an email.

The unit would be housed in the office of the Florida secretary of state, where the incumbent is Laurel M. Lee. The secretary of state in Florida is appointed by the governor, not elected independently.

Proposed legislation says that the unit would field complaints or allegations from government officials or citizens...


All of this accomplishes several goals, he hopes. 1) it furthers the notion that voter fraud is real and significant and that it targets Republicans thus further validating voter suppression by Republicans; 2) by including citizens in this "policing" effort, it will inspire right wing activism at polling places; and 3) because this will be directed overwhelmingly against likely Dem voters, it will have the effect of discouraging Dem voters from arriving at the polls.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  3  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 02:33 pm
Boy, they’re busy in Florida. A Florida State House Committee just passed a “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, which prohibits talking about LGBTQ+ people.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/24/florida-republican-committee-dont-say-gay-bill

Soon, the only thing allowed to be talked about in Florida schools will be the world according to straight white men.
BillW
 
  2  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 02:41 pm
@snood,
that are Republicans.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 05:48 am
@snood,
Quote:
A Florida State House Committee just passed a “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, which prohibits talking about LGBTQ+ people.
More evidence that modern conservative ideology is built on steadfast principles of personal liberty.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 05:53 am
Pulitzer-worthy use of a common phrase...
Quote:
What was supposed to be the first day of the trial in ex-GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s defamation case against the New York Times on Monday has been pushed back to next week after she tested positive for COVID-19, the judge in the case announced on Monday.

Manhattan federal court Judge Jed Rakoff, who is overseeing the fight in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, told the courtroom that Palin had tested positive on Sunday night.

“She is, of course, unvaccinated,” he remarked.
0 Replies
 
 

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