SATURDAY 30 JULY 2022
The Russian government is planning to hold “referendums” in the occupied regions of Ukraine as early as September. They have already issued passports (newborns are registered as Russian citizens), replaced the currency with the ruble, put internet through Russian servers and arrested hundreds who have resisted.
The referendums, which will inevitably go in favor of Russia (in Crimea the pro-Russia vote was 97%), will give Putin a reason to declare the areas Russian territory, protected by Russian nuclear weapons, making any attempt to reclaim the territory more difficult.
It would be the largest territorial expansion by force since WWII.
They have “invited” residents to join election commissions. There is a new pro-Russian newspaper in the Zaporizhzhia region.
“Annexation by force will be a gross violation of the U.N.Charter, said John Kirby, “and we will not allow it go to unchallenged or unpunished.” Who knows what that means.
The school curriculum has been changed to a Russian one. Access to Russian television was considered so important that set-top boxes were distributed and even in some cases delivered to residents.
The mayor of Kherson spoke in a video interview about the situation. His assistant was abducted by pro-Russian occupying forces days later.
Open confrontation seen earlier in the war has largely ended in the occupied regions. Instead, people go out at night and paint Ukrainian flags on buildings.
Vessels are getting ready to transport the first grain shipments since the war began. If the grain sits long enough in the ports, it will spoil.
Russian Prison Camp Bombed
Ukraine called on the UN and the Red Cross to investigate an explosion that ripped apart a prison camp holding Ukrainian prisoners.
Many had fought to defend the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. Earlier in the week, the Russian embassy has tweeted out that these men should be hanged and “humiliated.” They don’t have the problem now.
A recent graphic video showed a Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian prisoner.
There were those who argued that the attack on the prison camp was intended to cover up the torture and mistreatment of the men held there.
Prisoners recently released from the camp described “hellish conditions.” There was almost no food and there were regular beatings.
Russia has cut off Latvia from its supply of Russian natural gas. Latvia had announced that it would pay for the gas in euros not as Moscow demanded, in Rubles.
Russia had already cut off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands and Denmark.
WEDNESDAY 27 JULY 2022
UKRAINE, THE LATEST, Podcast by the Telegraph (7/27/22)
- Interviews with people on the ground in Ukraine.
- Kherson, the beginning of a counterattack is possible. One of the most important bridges has been closed for civilians. The Ukrainians don’t want to destroy the bridge since they may have to use it.
- A replacement has been named for the new Prosecutor General after the previous Prosecutor General was removed for not adequately removing Russian collaborators.
- Discussion with Telegraph Reporter Dom Nichols in Kyiv.
- People seem to have accepted the fact that the war is going to last over a year, according to polls.
- The number of people who have no employment has increased.
- After Bucha there has been a dramatic swing in the number of people who reject diplomacy to end the war. People fee that Russia wants to eliminate them as a country and they are not interested in negotiating.
- As Russia shells towns in Ukraine, there are graves in the yards.
THE POWER VERTICAL podcast, (7/20/22)
- “Ukraine Fatigue” is a serious problem.
- Approximately 2 million Ukrainians are in the U.S.
- Interview about maintaining support for Ukraine.
FRIDAY 29 JULY 2022
The DOJ has indicted a Russian national for operating three political groups in the US. I am certain that there are hundreds of Republican groups that could be similarly indicted or named as “unindicted co-conspirators.”
- Aleksandr Ionov was charged with a “years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics.”
- He used American political groups in Florida, Georgia and California to push a pro-Russian agenda and sow discourd.
- He funded and directed these groups.
- The groups are not named. (Note: The group in Florida appears to be a black separatist movement.)
- These groups were, according to the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, turned into “instruments of the Russian government.”
- Individuals identified as only as unindicted co-conspirators included two Americans who ran for local office.
- Ionov wrote to handlers in Russia about managing the campaigns. He referred to one indieicual as a person “whom we supervise.”
- He paid for one group to conduct a four-city tour after they submitted a petition to the United Nations at his behest.
- The group is thought to be “Uhuru House” which is run by the African People’s Socialist Party.
- According to one FBI agent this was an attempt to “destabilize and undermine trust in American democracy.”
- Search warrants in the St. Petersburg area are being executed.
- Ionov provided the groups with money and advised them.
- After the invasion of Ukraine, Ionov told his FSB handlers that he had enlisted the Florida group to support Russia in the “information war unleashed.”
- The group directed by Ionov in California advocated for secession.
- He is accused of trying to persuade the leader of the group to physically enter the governor’s office in a protest.
- Ionov also went so far as to provid designs for signs used in a protest by the Atlanta group.
Justice Department Release
MONDAY 25 JULY 2022
UKRAINE: THE LATEST Podcast from the Telegraph
- The Ukrainians are looking for points of weakness in the Russian forces. We should see a love of movement in the South.
- The Ukrainians need to deny the bridges for heavy military equipment but leave them open to civilian traffic.
- The export of the grain out of Ukraine has to occur with Russian “permission.” The Russians will try to get concessions in exchange.
- Lavrov is saying that they are going to expand the war aims.
- There is a real problem with insuring these ships
- We should expect more attacks on Odesa.
- The big story is the effect of the HIMARS. The accuracy is very good. It has reduced the Russian artillery to a trickle. It has made a marked difference.
- Lavrov has said if the West continues to supply the HIMARS, they will expand the war.
- This is the sixth month of the war.
- Zelensky is saying that Ukrainians are advancing into Kherson.
- Zelensky has made some remarks about the air defense systems that are needed to counter the Russians. They need air defense weapons and have not received enough of them. The equipment has not arrived.
- Zelensky also announced that at the peak of the fighting the Ukrainians were losing 200 soldiers a day. This has decreased now.
- There are debates about what information to release about losses.
- A cease-fire with Russia that does not allow Ukraine to have back formerly taken territories by the Russians is unacceptable.
- The Russians are trying to reconnect with the international community and also benefit financially by the grain deal. It enables Russia to grandstand in Africa, presenting themselves as the savior of African lives.
- Diplomacy is a weapon for the Russians. It is something that will buy them time.
- Germany has turned off streetlights and is rationing energy. The EU is suggesting targets at decreasing the use of energy for all members regardless of their dependence on Russian oil and gas. France is against uniform targets in reduction.
- France and Germany are usually together on policy. This represents a break.
“That’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner.”
— Read on www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/07/leaked-audio-steve-bannon-trump-2020-election-declare-victory/. Listen to the part where Bannon says trump will never have to confront a voter again.
FRIDAY 22 JULY 2022
There is supposed to be a deal between Russia and Ukraine to get grain out of the Black Sea ports. Who knows how this will work.
UKRAINE, THE LATEST, THE Telegraph podcast
- We are hearing from Turkey that a deal has been made to get the grain out. They are expected to sign the deal today.
- Ukraine will clear the mines and the Russians are not to fire on the convoys.
- The UN is also involved in these negotiations.
- Turkey is to inspect the ships on arrival to stifle the Russian fears of arms shipments coming in on the ships.
- One Ukraine official stated that the deal is with Turkey not with Russians.
- This may affect the cost of living in Europe.
- This will also play into a concern that Putin is bring brought back into the international fold. This is a negative consequence.
- The food crisis benefits Putin and we don’t know why they have been willing to come to an agreement.
- This is an attempt at outreach on the part of Putin to the outer world.
- Britain’s spy chief has said that Russian forces are exhausted and perhaps Ukraine can launch a counterattack.
- The U.S. believes that a counterattack is coming. If it fails or is slow, this will play negatively abroad.
- Richard Moore, head of MI6, making remarks saying that the Russians will have to pause in the next few weeks. This is a winnable campaign for Ukraine. This is highly unusual for MI6 to comment publicly. They are trying to urge western governments into realizing the seriousness of the situation.
- Zelensky seemed confident in his recent statements.
- There is talk of a counterattack especially in Kherson. It was the first major city to be captured by the Russians. There is a substantial population still there, living under occupation.
- Georgian Legion is a group of foreign volunteers from Georgia. They are mainly ex-professional soldiers. There are about 800 currently serving. They have been there since 2014. It is independent of the Georgian government.
- In 2008 Georgia had its own war with Russia. Russia invaded two areas in Georgia to “protect” these areas.
- The leader of the group is warning volunteers that if they come, they should have military combat experience. They should also accept the fact that they are on the weaker side.
WEDNESDAY 20 JULY 2022
Gaslit Nation Podcast (7/19/22)
- In this episode of Gaslit Nation, the podcast opened with a clip of a television interview Bernie Sanders did with some anchor. She starts rabbiting on and he interrupts her to say what most other Democrats will not say, i.e., that Joe Manchin never intended to support the Biden Climate Plan and that Democrats have to stop talking to him like was serious.
- Note: It amazes me how few Democrats there are who will actually tell the truth. When CNN or MSNBC starts to interview a member of congress, I just fast-forward through the segment. It is almost always a waste of time. None of them (with a few exceptions) can even talk without sounding like a staff edited version of a focus group tested script.
- In this interview Sanders also pointed out the obvious (but again unsaid) fact that Manchin receives massive contributions from fossil fuel interests and from Republican billionaires.
- Note: Biden should make sure that the locks on Manchin’s office doors are changed, have his parking slot taken away, arrange for Machin’s wife to lose her cushy position, start telling people what Machin’s daughter does to make a living, take Manchin off all his committees, and primary him, for a start.
- Sanders reacted with the disdain that every Democrat should demonstrate when the host says that Manchin argues that he’s concerned about West Virginia. “Really, reaalllllly,” Sanders says. But most of the rest of the Democratic party is concerned about being nice.
- Sanders continued that statements like the one made by Manchin were “…the same nonsense that Manchin has been talking about for years.” West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country. “Ask the people of West Virginia.” Sanders concluded. “Manchin represents the wealthy not the working people of this country.”
- Note: It is obvious why the Democratic Party would rather blow up the world rather than have a progressive like Bernie Sanders leading the party.
- Gaslit Nation is a podcast about “rising autocracy around the world.”
- Sarah Kenzior describes Merrick Garland is a “mafia state enabler.”
- And notes that this may be the last free election we have if the Republicans assume power.
- She notes the North Carolina gerrymandering case to be decided by the Supreme Court next year.
- Kenzior notes that Garland’s use of the Barr memo to restrict DOJ cases which might (in some conceivable world) appear “political,” is much like the OLC memo Mueller hid behind to keep from having to indict Trump for crimes he himself detailed in his report.
- Garland, she concluded, is taking his cues from Barr.
- Garland is labelled as an “institutionalist,” but the institution he is leading is rotted and corrupt and complicit. It was so when Barr was AG at the end of the Bush administration.
WEDNESDAY 20 JULY 2022
Majority Report (7/19/22)
- Manchin killed the Biden climate package. It is in Joe Manchin’s financial interest that climate change is not addressed.
- There is very little leverage with Manchin. The more he tells the Democrats he is going to destroy their agenda, the more his popularity in West Virginia rises.
- Manchin was pushing a tax on “pass through” entities. He was evidently not aware that a lot of businesses use this structure. This tax was going to fund climate change programs. Monied interests complained to Manchin, so he pulled his support from his own proposal.
- Manchin is one of the most corrupt members of Congress. He and his wife secured funding for a new conservation area that just happened to adjoin their vacation property. (Note: His wife has been appointed to a profitable job as part of the courting of Manchin and Manchin’s daughter has also engaged in controversial deals.)
- (Note: When Biden gave the Rose Garden speech recently, Manchin hung around like a groupie trying to shake hands with Biden. Unlike MSB, he didn’t seem to get even a fist bump.)
- Majority Report did an interview with Ryan Grim about Manchin (7/15/22).
- Biden is “on the brink” of declaring a climate emergency.
- More horror stories come to light as women with difficult pregnancies are unable to get adequate medical care because hospitals and doctors are afraid of running afoul of the new abortion laws. Women, in some instances, are allowed to not only suffer but become dangerously ill waiting for a condition where doctors feel comfortable giving them medical care. Fearing litigation patients are allowed to worsen until their lives are in jeopardy. This is occurring even in situations where there is no viable fetus.
- The belief behind these laws is that pregnancy, illness, spontaneous abortions are the will of God. If the woman dies, that’s just the will of God. We are all being dragged into the hell of their religious beliefs. These laws reflect a desire to punish. “They are fundamental theocrats,” says Sam Seder. They get to decide what God wills.
- Other fresh hell
- Biden’s polling numbers are dismal. Democratic candidates are doing better than Biden.
- COVID is on the rise.
- Because of objections by Rand Paul (?) Chad Meridith has been dropped for a federal judgeship. This story gets more and more weird. (What the f..k was this about?)
FRIDAY 14 JULY 2022
UKRAINE UPDATE: UKRAINECAST, Podcast from BBC (7/13/22)
- Ukraine has announced it has killed dozens of soldiers in a bombing of a Russian ammunitions’ depot in the southern city of Nova Kakhovka (east of Kherson). This strike is reported to have been carried out by the American supplied HIMARS system.
- In Kherson, a Russian-installed official has accused Ukraine of bombings peaceful cities with American arms.
- Olga Ivshina, a reporter, notes that the number of Russian soldiers that have been buried in Russia is almost 5,000. These are the ones reported and whose names are known. The estimate for how many there actually are is around 10,000. 20% of those killed in Ukraine and buried in Russia were officers. This is a very high percentage.
- The high number of officers killed may indicate a struggle by the Russians with communications. Higher level officers may have to go to the front to command because there is not a well-developed chain of command.
- At the beginning of the war, Russia was using a large number of conscripts. Most of them were brought home. The Russian government has launched a “huge campaign” recruiting contract soldiers. The Ministry of Defense is giving out lucrative contracts, much more than individuals can make in their territories. The estimate is that the money is five, eight times higher than they can make.
- Life in Russia is so tough for many people in parts of Russia that the risk of dying seems not as serious as it might.
- There are stories of those refusing to fight in Ukraine. Legally, because there is no official war, individuals can refuse to fight, and cannot be prosecuted. But the reality is much different. What is legal and what is done are two different things.
- If an individual decides not to go to fight in Ukraine, all the power of the state is brought to bear on them.
- These people who are reluctant are intimidated. They attempt to shame the individuals by publishing their names.
- Some people seek legal help when they are reluctant to fight. They go to people like one lawyer who was interviewed.
- Also, sometimes Russian operatives pose as soldiers who don’t want to go back to catch people (like this attorney) who are trying to help them.
- People who are helping have to be very careful. There are laws which restrict not only what the helpers do, but what they say.
- A month before the invasion, National Guard soldiers in Krasmador were deployed in Crimea for exercises. A day before the invasion, they were put on buses and transported to the border. Only then were they told they were going to fight Ukrainians. Twelve of them refused.
- They were driven back to Crimea, and all fired. The trials are currently going on, in a closed secret procedure. No one is allowed inside the courtroom.
- The lawyer who was interviewed who is helping the soldiers asks that people remember Russians who are suffering because of the war. It is also for Russia “a real tragedy.” Generations in Russia were brought up thinking that whatever else happens, a war should never happen. “The machine of repression” however, is stronger than the desires for peace. Whoever speaks out against the war is “brutally suppressed.”
- “Please remember,” the lawyer continues “…a lot of people in Russia are intimidated.” “Who ever dares to speak is brutally punished.”
- Illya Yashin, a Russian activist, has been detained. The attorney calls this “very depressing.” He compares the situation to 1937, the peak of Stalin’s repression. “It’s a true tragedy that’s going on.” He concluded.
- Olga is asked about the situation and whether she agrees with the attorney.
- “It’s very hard.” She notes. “It’s very uneasy.” Olga’s mom suffered because of her work in journalism. “Generations of Russians have been brought up under this repressive apparatus.” She concludes. Some people have only seen Putin as a leader and heard his message.
- It’s not only the threat of being thrown into jail that Russians face, but other threats – losing a space for your child at school or university. Olga notes: “It is really easy to make your life unbearable in Russia.”
- There is a denial in Russia. At the beginning of the fall of the Soviet Union, there was some accountability. All this disappeared. So, now there is a nostalgia about life under the Soviet regime, a feeling that life then was perfect.
- Olga’s mother is still in Russia. When Olga was reporting from Crimea, her mother had huge problems at work. She changed her working place.
- A lot of Olga’s friends are not speaking to their parents because they are called “traitors” or “enemies of the nation.”
- Another reporter, Frank Gardner, assesses the state of the war. Russia is now in a pause. But they have not stopped pulverizing cities with missiles. They seem to be preparing for another effort.
- Ukrainians are pushing back hard. The long-range weapons from the West are helping. It’s clear that Putin is not going to give up on this. If he succeeds in the Donbas, he will push further.
- Russians claim they are using high-precision weapons, but they keep hitting civilian targets.
- Frank Gardner maintains that Russia is winning the war if you look at it solely as a strategic issue. They have redefined their aims. The first phase was a disaster. There was no unified command. They sent tanks in with support of infantry. They had a rethink and narrowed the aims.
- They don’t seem to care about civilian casualties. It’s second world war stuff, but they “do it very effectively.”
- Once they have taken Donbas, where do they go from there? Will they attempt to seal Ukraine off from the Black Sea. If so, that involves taking Odesa which will be very difficult.
- A lot of people in Russia have lost hope. There are people whose children were relying on Western medicines. They can no longer access these medicines. There were scientists whose work depended on knowledge gained through internationally exchanges. They no longer have access to this international scientific cooperation. Many people wonder “…where Russia is going at the moment.”
- There is also Ukraine fatigue in the West.
- Germany is thinking of people freezing to death this winter. Prices are going higher. Half the middle east is facing starvation. For the Russian people it is bad news, bad news that is being disguised.
- On the other side, here are overly optimistic briefings from the British government.
- However slowly, the Russians are advancing in the east.
- Older people in Ukraine, a lot of them, listen to Russian state television. Russian speaking parts of Ukraine especially the older population listens to this government news.
- Among Ukrainians coming out of Russia, there is a marked difference between old and young. Older people swallow the line that NATO is to blame, that Zelensky is a drug addict and a Nazi.
- More than 70% get their news from state-controlled media.
- “They just eat, eat what is fed to them.” Says Olga.
- There is Ukraine fatigue. Germany does it want to deplete its own stocks of weapons. Russia has depleted its stock, especially precision weapons. Vast stocks of dated equipment (1960s) is now being used. This out of date group of weapons are no match for Nato supplied weapons. But, the question is how quickly will those new weapons be deployed.
- Many military people say that Russia’s army is rubbish, but it’s a big rubbish.”
- Also, in Russia, they are not in the middle of being attacked. Their factories are working (24/7) and can produce equipment. This gives them an edge.
- An odd circumstance is that the Russians have a tank, considered the most modern tank in the world. It hasn’t appeared in Ukraine, at all. Several of the tanks were displayed at the May parade. There is speculation that these tanks which require high technology chips, can’t be used because the Russians don’t have access to the chips.
- OnTwitter at @cjjohns1951
TUESDAY 12 JULY 2022
BOOK: “Thank you for your Servitude” by Marc Leibovich
This book focuses not on Trump, but on the Trump “enablers” who made it all possible.
Marc Leibovich, a staff writer for the Atlantic Magazine, described the book in this way in an interview on MSNBC (7/11/22): The book is “about the people who allowed it to happen,” and who keep rehabilitating Trump “at every turn.”
Unlike those in the press (Michael Schmidt) who have written excuse-filled books essentially arguing that people like Don McGhan were in a “difficult” position, faced hard decisions, or did a service by remaining because they were the adults in the room, Leibovich is open about his contempt for Republicans who he deems “parasitic suck-ups” “starstruck and desperate to keep their jobs,” on a “thrill ride.” He describes them as “groveling legions,” “hollowed-out men and women who knew better,” the “most supplicant super-careerists, and finally (my favorite) “lapdogs in Trump’s kennel.”
As Leibovich notes: “Without the complicity of the Republican Party, Donald Trump would be just a glorified geriatric Fox-watching golfer.”
Without the complicity of the Republican Party…
In Lebovich’s previous book about Washington he described a town in which “Democrats and Republicans kept coming to Washington, vowing change, only to get co-opted, get richer, and never leave.” Then, Donald Trump was nominated, and things got even worse.
A lot of people could see that Trump was a huckster, a con man, and dangerous for the country. My partner is a life-long Republican. When Trump was nominated, he declined to vote for him. After five years of listening to Trump’s bullshit and learning about the depth of the criminality involved with the administration, he voted Democratic for the first time in his life.
But, the Kevin McCarthys and the Lindsay Grahams of the world had no problem at all jumping on the Trump bandwagon and taking the system for all it was worth to them.
In an article in the Atlantic about the book, Leibovich describes Kevin McCarthy detailing with relish the game of working for Trump. He quotes McCarthy as saying: “This is the tightest tightrope anyone has to walk.” Graham (whose excuse for kissing Trump’s ass was that he was only trying to remain “relevant”) also seemed to relish the game. They were proud of the access, proud of the position proud of the temperamentality of Trump. “There was always a breathless, racing quality to both men’s voices when they talked about the thrill ride of being one of Trump’s “guys,” writes Leibovich. “Relevance,” he adds, “casts one hell of a spell.”
Leibovich also goes into detail describing what a jerk Kevin McCarthy really is. When Leibovich met with McCarthy to do an interview, McCarthy spent his time scrolling through his phone and showing Leibovitz photographs of himself with celebrities. (Note: I could not help thinking that this must be what it’s like to interview Ari Melber).
“Here’s another of me with Trump on Air Force One,” McCarthy said to Leibovich. “What did you ask me again?” These are men who have held some of the most powerful positions in the world. It makes me sick.
Leibovich describes McCarthy as “sensitive to perceptions that he is a lightweight whose career trajectory is owed purely to his Olympian brownnosing and backslapping capabilities.” Graham, he wrote, admired Trump because Trump could get away with anything. Does that sound like a 13-year-old?
Leibovich stated: “I don’t see how they can live with themselves.”
But live with themselves they do, and it appears from Leibovich’s own book, they do so quite happily.
Leibovich concluded: “It’s all a game to them.”
I haven’t read the book, but the best, the very best quote from Leibovich’s article is: “If they’d never stooped this low before, maybe it’s just because no one ever asked them to.”
Leibovich’s Atlantic article about the book: