A world-traveler name Harris
Took a trip on a wheel made by Ferris
It rolled faster and faster
Deftly forestalling disaster
And arrived at a cafe in Paris.
On May 9th, Vladimir Putin made a much-anticipated speech to the Russian people (https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/nato-nazis-and-the-motherland-putin-s-full-victory-day-speech-1.10787657 ). Interspersed with familiar tropes, was a softer Putin message.
1.Narrowed Focus: Rather than focus on annexing all of Ukraine, Putin now seems intent on solidifying control of the Donbas region; that is, the eastern-most provinces of Ukraine: Donetsk and Luhansk. In addition, Putin wants to build a land bridge between Crimea and Donbas: secure Kherson and Melitopol and the surrounding territory.
Putin observed, “Donbass militia alongside with the Russian Army are fighting on their land today… I am addressing our Armed Forces and Donbass militia. You are fighting for our Motherland, its future, so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II.”
Captured Russian documents (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/putin-s-precious-war-plan-left-behind-by-fleeing-russian-troops-officials-say/ar-AAXaaQ5 ) reveal that Putin’s original focus was to annex all of Ukraine: “‘Investigators… found important documents of soldiers of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces that give a clear understanding that Russia was preparing to seize all the territory of Ukraine,’ Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation Chief Oleksiy Sukhachev said in a statement.”
2. Calmer Presentation: Although Putin’s justifications for the invasion were the same as they had been in previous speeches, his words were less bellicose.
Although western observers can be encouraged that Putin has narrowed the scope of his invasion, the fact remains that he seems intent on annexing the Donbas region. Putin is going to have considerable difficulty doing this. Russian forces have lost control of strategic terrain and they can no longer move supplies using Ukrainian railways. This suggests that Putin has put himself in a “box.” He can’t move forward and he’ll lose face if he retreats.
3. Falsehoods: Much of what Putin told the Russian people were lies. The BBC fact-checked his speech (https://www.bbc.com/news/61379405).
a. Ukraine wants nuclear weapons: “President Putin has repeatedly said Ukraine plans to acquire nuclear weapons as a justification for Russia’s invasion, although there’s no evidence this is the case… the Ukrainian government has not expressed an intention to acquire nuclear weapons and a military strategy document published last year did not refer to them.”
b. Neo-Nazis are seizing control of Ukraine: “President Putin has frequently claimed the presence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine as a justification for Russia’s invasion. At the last parliamentary election in 2019, support for far-right candidates was just 2% – far lower than in many other European countries. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and members of his family died in the Holocaust.”
c. NATO was preparing for war before the invasion: “President Putin appears to be suggesting, not only that Nato has been expanding its influence in the Baltic states which are Nato members – but also inside Ukraine, which is not in Nato. It’s true that Nato allies have supported Ukraine with equipment and training since 2014, and they have deployed more forces to some Nato member states in eastern Europe.”
4. IMPASSE: Russia cannot win this war, but it can inflict terrible damage as it thrashes around. On May 10th, President Biden’s advisor, Avril Haines (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/10/putin-nuclear-weapons-us-intelligence-avril-haines?) warned there is a dangerous path ahead : “Vladimir Putin could view the prospect of defeat in Ukraine as an existential threat to his regime, potentially triggering his resort to using a nuclear weapon… The prediction for Ukraine was a long, grueling war of attrition, which could lead to increasingly volatile acts of escalation from Putin, including full mobilization, the imposition of martial law, and – if the Russian leader felt the war was going against him, endangering his position in Moscow – even the use of a nuclear warhead.”
Summary: Putin isn’t going to “fade away.” He’s a psychopath. Hold on tight.
Some weddings are brief
Some last all day
My favorite is
When I don’t have to pay.
One of the few social occasions
Where you are obliged
(Funerals are another.)
The couple can always elope
Or not get married.
(“Shack up” or “Live in sin.”)
There’s no such thing as a
If you decide to
“tie the knot”
You invite your entire family
Even Uncle Bud who drinks way too much
or Leaping Lena who “sleeps around.”
Then you have to decide who sits where
What food to serve.
What kind of ceremony.
Should there be music
Who is going to pay for it all.
My favorite ceremony:
Everyone I know attends
Outdoors in good weather
Sit on ground
Wonderful food and drink served by robots
Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads
Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen play
Desmond Tutu officiates
My children pay.
When historians look back on 2022, they’re likely to characterize it as “the year of the big reveal.” The year Vladimir Putin was revealed as murderous thug. The year Donald Trump was revealed as feckless loser. The year Republicans were revealed as the party of white male supremacy. The year the US Supreme Court went rogue.
On May 2nd, Politico (https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473 ) published a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating the court was about to issue “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 [Roe v. Wade] decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights.”
1. Philosophy: Overturning Roe v. Wade is a reflection of two philosophical pillars of the contemporary Republican Party: state’s rights and misogyny. It’s a reflection of “state’s rights” because overturning Roe v. Wade means that each state will determine abortion rights. This is a reflection of the current Republican thinking that most civil rights should be determined at the state level; for example, the right to same-sex marriage should be determined by each state. (In effect, the Republican Party is taking the same states-rights position that led to the civil war in 1861.)
It’s a reflection of the underlying Republican misogyny because overturning Roe v Wade means that, in Red states, white men will control women’s bodies.
2.Public Opinion: Most Americans do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned. For example, a recent Public Policy Institute of California Poll (https://www.ppic.org/blog/a-broad-range-of-californians-oppose-overturning-roe-v-wade/? ) found that 76 percent of likely voters do not want Roe v. Wade overturned; 87 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Republicans. (There was no major California Demographic category that did not oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.)
Of course, California is a blue state. But recent polling indicates that there is strong national opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade. The Guardian notes: “A Politico/Morning Consult study found voters are two to one in favor of preserving the 1973 Roe v Wade opinion that safeguarded protected women’s access to abortions… exactly 50% of respondents wanted it maintained. 28% wanted it overturned, and 22% were undecided. A separate Washington Post/ABC poll reports 54% in favor of preserving Roe, and 28% against, while an even higher number of Americans, 70%, think abortion is a private issue between patient and doctor.”
The New York Times breaks this down by state (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/04/upshot/polling-abortion-states.html), noting: “the national average [is] 54 percent who mostly or fully support legalized abortion, compared with 41 percent who mostly or fully oppose it.” The Times article goes on to state: “The public’s views on abortion are notoriously hard to measure, with large segments of the public often seeming to offer muddled or inconsistent answers. Polls consistently show that around two-thirds of Americans support the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and oppose overturning it.” [Emphasis added]
The map accompanying the Times article indicates that in all the swing states — that is, the ones whose votes will determine control of Congress in November — a majority of likely voters support Roe v Wade.
3. Politics: It’s unlikely that Republican politicians (McConnell, McCarthy…) wanted SCOTUS to strike down Roe v Wade at this time. After all, until recently, it was widely assumed that Republican voters had more enthusiasm heading into the 2022 midterms. Nonetheless, after Russia invaded Ukraine, and Biden showed remarkable leadership, Democratic enthusiasm ticked up. Now it has exploded.
Politicsusa.com (https://www.politicususa.com/2022/05/03/bombshell-poll-shows-overturning-roe-could-trigger-a-blue-wave.html ) reported: “An Ipsos poll exclusive for Reuters, fielded May 3, 2022 after the leak of a Supreme Court draft decision challenging Roe v. Wade, finds that in the upcoming November elections, two-thirds of Americans (63%) would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports passing a law legalizing abortion, replacing Roe if it is struck down.”
4. Platform: At the end of 2021, it appeared that the 2022 midterm elections would be, in effect, a popularity contest; Republicans would say, “Trump was cheated; we can’t stand Biden; we want anybody else.” Democrats would say” “C’mon, Biden’s not that bad.”
That’s changed; the November election will not be a popularity contest. The consequence of the SCOTUS decision will be that voters will consider consequential differences between Democrats and Republicans. There’s at least four differences between Democrats and Republicans:
a. Abortion: Democrats will say, “We support a women’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. Moreover, we believe that civil rights should be determined at the Federal level; for example, the right to chose who we marry and the right to vote.”
Republicans will counter: “We oppose abortion in all circumstances. And, by the way, we plan to repeal Obamacare. Moreover, we believe in ‘State’s Rights;’ we believe that civil rights should be determined at the state level.”
b. Voting Rights: Democrats will say, “We believe the right to vote should be guaranteed at the Federal level. By the way, we believe the 2020 presidential election was fair and what occurred on January 6, 2021, was an insurrection. We also want to abolish the electoral college and have national presidential elections decided by popular vote.”
Republicans will counter: “Each state should determine its own voting standards. By the way, we believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen and what occurred on January 6., 2021 was exaggerated by the liberal media. We want to hang onto the electoral college as a cherished heirloom.”
c. Economy: Democrats will say: “Democrats have guided the US economy out of a tough period and, after hitting a few potholes, the economy is back on track to be the strongest in the world. By the way, we need to tax corporations and rich individuals to ensure they pay their fair share.”
Republicans will counter: “Biden’s handling of the economy has been a disaster. We need to return to the days of ‘Trumpanomics’ where we had a steady hand on the wheel. By the way, taxes on corporations and rich individuals are still too high; everyone should pay a minimum tax — particularly the poor.”
d. National Security: Democrats will say, “President Biden recognizes Vladimir Putin as a murderous thug; Biden has united the western world in opposition to Russian aggression. By the way, the most serious national security problem is climate change.”
Republicans will counter: “Putin is a strong leader; he’s smart. The real national security threat is Hunter Biden.”
Summary: SCOTUS has gone rogue and Republicans have joined them.