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2:48 PM, Jun 8, 2023 toot this
tagged with politics
The Voters Just Aren't That Into You
Kevin McCarthy reached across the aisle, and worked with Republicans in his caucus, along with his Democratic colleagues in the House, Senate, and White House to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling. For this, key members of the Freedom Caucus(ie, the MAGA wackos like Gaetz, Boebert, Greene, and Roy) have decided to blow up the House's legislative session until.... nobody knows.

They voted for McCarthy(or abstained to reduce the threshold of victory) in January, in exchange for concessions that will only be fully revealed when McCarthy retires and writes a book, but one known concession is that it will take the vote of only a single member in the House to force a vote of no confidence in the Speaker, effectively putting us back where we were on January 3rd.

The problem for the MAGA Wackos is that they aren't numerous enough to get another Speaker they can control, and they will absolutely lose the control they have, such as it is, over the current Speaker and the House in general, if they remove McCarthy. The GOP leadership and most of its members would be more willing to work with the Democrats to build a coalition for a more stable government, and the MAGA Wackos know this.

So instead they're having a big tantrum, hoping to pull the Party down into the mud with them. But cracks appear to be forming. Chris Christie announced his run for President with a full-throated indictment of the former President and his penchant for crime, incompetence, stupidity, and corruption, and has thus far suffered no negative consequences for it. He will almost certainly not receive his party's nomination, but a short time ago, he would have been ousted entirely for speaking so openly against the Party's demagogue, who still aligns with a genocidal fascist dictator in Russia.

The 6-3 conservative Supreme Court ruled today that Alabama must draw a more equitable House map that better serves its black population, which makes up 25% of the state. The 5-4 decision included support by Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts.

Attempts to peel some of Fox's right-leaning viewers off have been disastrous for CNN, who've fallen to fourth place in cable news in most time slots, while Fox, bereft of cash cow Tucker Carlson, has lost large blocks of viewers who would prefer to get their "news" from the likes of Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Steve Bannon, and Steven Crowder.

Meanwhile, the GOP still doesn't have an answer on the abortion question that won't potentially spell disaster for them in 2024.

All these factors paint a picture of a much-weakened Republican Party, that may be taking some time now to realize the only successful way forward: aligning with the majority of most issues, and coming back to the center. I personally think it will take some more bloody noses and sprained ankles for them to fully agree on this though.

11:46 AM, May 19, 2023 toot this
tagged with politics
Villainy and Accountability
Republicans being Republicans-- ie: accomplishing the more villainous elements of their political agenda --is good for Democrats. Decades of deliberate suppression and disenfranchisement produced an historic turnout for an off-year Supreme Court election in Wisconsin that sent a rebuke to the MAGA world one would expect in an undeniably blue state, but not Wisconsin, which is considered at best a purple state.

A longtime legislative and judicial goal of the GOP is the criminalization and delegitimization of reproductive rights and women's rights in general. In June 2022, they achieved a massive victory for their cause, with the overturning of the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision. They proceeded to dramatically underperform in the midterm elections, later that year, as another historic turnout sent another rebuke to those who would see a future with reduced personhood for women.

Putin invaded Ukraine and has committed acts of such brutality and disgusting disregard for the value of human life that support for Russia by free-thinking people is unthinkable. Yet parts of the GOP still support appeasing Putin and rewarding him-- including the presumptive nominee for President, Donald Trump --for Putin's unrepentant inhuman butchery.

Until the 2018 election, election outcomes indicated that the GOP villainy was running unchecked, largely because few people were paying attention. Even today, many people will avoid the topic in favor of more pleasant pursuits. "I don't like politics," I'm sure you've heard many people say. Maybe you've said it yourself. But this disengagement allows villainy to become law. Suppression and gerrymandering and the erosion of basic rights of people who don't fit a certain mold is the rule with the GOP. It has to be, since majority opinion on most issues is not on their side, and they have to shape the law to protect their rule.

After the 2016 election, I think the American electorate was shaken awake, as we found ourselves in the Presidency of a man who sought not to lead, but to rule-- and didn't really understand the difference. Since that time, advocacy groups have activated dormant voters all over the country, to great effect. Their work is ongoing, ad will most likely never actually be done, but the desired effect is playing out.

When Republicans achieve one of their goals, goals that stand in contrast to the values held by the great majority of voters, they have not been held accountable for it in the past. Now, through the aforementioned advocacy by political operatives and organizations, Republican villainy is laid bare, and in an increasing fashion, they are suffering for it in general elections.

So when I see the GOP not changing its behavior to align more with majority positions, I feel reassured that they have more electoral beatings to come.

2:48 PM, May 12, 2023 toot this
The End
This is the end

The Russians are retreating from Bakhmut. Russian soldiers are surrendering in great numbers as well, probably knowing they'll have a better chance at survival as a POW than as a combatant.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is firing extremely expensive weapons they'd previously been saving for a conflict with NATO, for a one in ten chance of striking a random location in Ukraine, and a nine in ten chance of being intercepted by Ukrainian air defense.

The Russians are of divided purpose, low morale, and critically low supplies and materiel, while the Ukrainians get stronger every day. The UK just provided long-range weapons to Ukraine, after the US hemmed and hawed and shuffled their feet about it for almost a year. This means that the Ukrainians just dramatically INCREASED their ability to devastate Russian logistics, command, and supplies.

Ukraine has yet to start using the sophisticated vehicles and equipment they've been massing in the east for their large-scale counteroffensive, and has even said the counteroffensive will likely still take several weeks or even months to begin. But it seems that their enemy is disintegrating before their eyes, without an offensive even taking place.

Russia no longer has any position of power from which they may engage in negotiations. They are unequivocally losing, and outside the context of this war, Russia is ruined. No nation ever need fear them, as they were never close to as powerful as they were once believed to be, to say nothing of the complete hollowing their military has suffered as they've broken like waves against the people of Ukraine and the resolve of the West. The Russian war machine has been set back by over a century, as they desperately and foolishly poured every resource they possibly could into the impossible goal of the conquest of Ukraine.

Russia is finished. All that follows in the war is just cleanup.

12:08 AM, Apr 19, 2023 toot this
After Putin
I don't think the global economy could possibly benefit more from anything, than from the end of the rule of Vladimir Putin.

The defeat of his forces(which will happen this year) will be the end of his regime, as it will signal the hollowness of his threats. No country(or rogue oblast within his own federation) will have any reason to fear him, and he will have nothing to bargain with at any negotiation table anywhere. Even now, the only might he has left is in his loyalist central police and Moscow-based national guard. He is weak, and after he sends another couple hundred thousand farmers and factory workers charging headlong into their deaths, I think the sharks circling him will strike.

The end of his rule, regardless of who usurps him, will produce a fragmented, fractured Russia where, for better or worse, it will take decades to re-establish relevance on the world stage. It will take longer than after the fall of the Soviet Union, because even then, they had at least their military might to keep them relevant. They don't have that now, and they absolutely will not after Ukraine defeats them.

World trade will resume, and supply chain issues will evaporate. Fossil fuels will become much less important over the next few decades, effectively de-clawing the agitating forces in the Middle East.

An era of peace and prosperity such as no living person has ever known will take hold, and be the rule for at least a generation-- the end of which may see the peace and prosperity further advanced, with the realization of the commoditization and widespread deployment of fusion power, which itself will present such staggering possibilities to humanity that it is impossible to predict how far-reaching it will be.

The sun will come out after the end of the war in Ukraine.

10:00 AM, Feb 27, 2023 toot this
Can Russia Contain its Putin-shaped Loose Cannon?
The military picture of the war in Ukraine is that as soon as the mud dries, Ukraine will begin maneuver-based warfare against which Russia has never had any defense. Putin's forces will be pushed back to pre-2014 lines by mid-Summer.

The political picture is much more open-ended though. After Russia loses its war, and the war will be characterized as a loss for Russia by any metric, Putin will be severely damaged. He might be able to have his internal propaganda channels frame the outcome into a complimentary shape, or even make the history disappear, maintaining support among the elderly, docile Russian population who haven't fled the country. But the rest of the world will see Putin as the leader of a country without the military might to threaten anyone.

The people and governments of Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Scandinavia, the Baltics, The Caucasus, Japan, and any other countries Putin has threatened will have received a clear message that Putin cannot back up his posturing with actions. His allies, vassals, and would-be allies will no longer see him as a valuable ally.

As Russia's global position depends heavily on its primacy, a President who is not valued by allies, and not feared by anyone else is of no use to Russia. As such, I think we're going to see a lot more people falling out of windows in the Kremlin, and the nightmare scenario of Putin incinerating one of his own cities in a false-flag operation may play out, but that's still extremely unlikely to move anything into Putin's favor.

Putin is a wild card, but I just can't imagine any options available to him that will not change what I see as a fact: the future will not have him in it.

3:34 PM, Feb 22, 2023 toot this
I Don't Believe the Military Experts
Over and over, Western military experts have given Russia the unconditional benefit of the doubt, and it is against this fatalist outlook that the Ukrainians have amazed the world. The, "Russian offensive" that the experts warned could possibly tilt the war back into the Kremlin's favor is tapering off now.

The Russians are short on armored vehicles-- they've lost most of their infantry fighting vehicles, and their museum of main battle tanks that were made for our grandparents' generation has just about played out --and are reduced to just mindlessly sending waves of "infantry" into Ukrainian fire, supported only by poorly-operated artillery for which ammunition is running low.

All seems to depend, the experts say, on whether or not Putin declares another mobilization. Surely, another 300,000 Russians sent to the front lines would bolster the beleaguered attackers in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Avdiivka, and all other parts of Russia's 600-mile front line. It makes sense that if Russia's advantage in numbers was exacerbated, Ukraine would fall, right?

Yeah, all of that is nonsense.

First, a new mobilization would have to be actively obeyed by the Russian public, and that seems highly unlikely, given the mass exodus that took place when Putin announced the last mobilization in the Fall. A new mobilization would create enormous problems for Putin, as his "special military operation," is devastatingly overdrawn, and increasingly difficult to depict to his people as anything other than a failure.

This is a repeating theme, but it bears mentioning again: Ukrainian artillery has annihilated and demoralized Russian supply chains. Simply moving troops, food, ammunition, medical supplies, tools, and vehicles to the front is an extremely dangerous undertaking for the Russians. As a result, all commands are issued from hundreds of miles away, by people without a clear picture of the battlefield. Supplies cannot be stockpiled within 100km of the front, as they will be quickly destroyed, so that means the artillery support needed by the Russian infantry is hamstrung.

Keep in mind too that every Russian soldier who arrives at the front line is less effective than the fallen soldier he replaces. Morale is disastrously low, and the strategy of the Russian command does not and cannot change. "Take that city," are the orders. "Gain ground!" So they simply run their unsupported infantry into enemy fire, suffering unacceptable casualties.

Ukraine suffers from none of these problems. On the contrary, they are training up on technologies that will enable their use of state-of-the-art offensive equipment and tactics that the Russians have never had. They have enough food, clothing, tools, supply chains, communications, and morale to continue a war of attrition far longer than the Russians. The result will be that when the mud dries in April or May, the Ukrainians will drive the Russians out of their country, and reclaim all the territory they lost, including Crimea.

So when I hear military experts talking about how this war will be a grinding war of attrition for another year, I don't believe them for a second. Russia is hanging on by a thread, and when the mud dries in the Donbas, the thread will be cut.

12:52 AM, Feb 19, 2023 toot this
How Will it End?
I think enough has happened now that some solid predictions can be made about the end of the war in Ukraine, which I believe we will see before the year is old. It was almost a year ago that Vladimir Putin offered spurious, hollow excuses for his country's imperialist, genocidal invasion of Ukraine. The success, such as could be gleaned based on the bad information Putin was acting on, of the "special military operation," was contingent on the successful capture and continued operation of Hostomel Airport, west of Kyiv. But Western intelligence alerted Ukrainian officials of this plan, and though the Russians did wind up capturing the airport after a tug-of-war over its control, they did not manage to do so before the Ukrainians cratered the runways, rendering the site unusable for the planned landing of very large reinforcement forces, supplies, and materiel. From then, we saw the Russian invasion crumble in the north, and soon, the Russians retreated completely from the assault on Kyiv. The war never moved decisively in Russia's favor again after that.

Now, Putin has allegedly commanded his forces to complete the conquest of the four oblasts(Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson) where he staged fraudulent votes to "annex" them into the Russian Federation, last year, by the first anniversary of the invasion, February 24, 2023. As such, a large Russian offensive is currently underway-- mostly in the effort to capture the strategically unimportant small city of Bakhmut, where Russian forces were already breaking like waves on cliffs, against the Ukrainian defenders --and it is going very poorly. On some days, over 1000 Russians have been killed in action-- commanded to sprint into enemy fire by inexperienced, optionless officers, because they know Putin will kill them and their loved ones if they disobey --while thousands more have been wounded out of combat capability. The Russians lack experienced soldiers to lead their newer soldiers, while every Western military considers these experienced soldiers(non-commissioned officers, or "NCOs") absolutely indispensable. Orders come from generals and political leaders hundreds of miles away, to gain ground. Lacking any strategy other than overwhelming shows of force and numbers, the Russians simply run their men into the Ukrainian meat grinder, trading thousands of lives for meters of territorial advancement.

The Russians have very low morale, and after only a day or two in the war, those who survive are even less inclined to fight. It is my belief that over the course of the in-progress offensive, they will suffer calamitous losses, with unnumbered tears back home for the fallen, all without accomplishing any decisive gains. When the personnel committed to this offensive are expended, the Russians will have no option on the battlefield other than defense, while the Ukrainians continue to demoralize the Russians with superior artillery range, and far greater precision, disrupting logistics, command, and striking Russian forces without warning, and with devastating effectiveness. The Ukrainians, even now, have very high morale, are well-trained, disciplined, organized, and are increasingly equipped with and trained on modern Western systems. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and technicians are training in Western countries on how to use these and other Western systems, and are showing a great aptitude for it.

The ground in the Donbas is muddy and soft right now, and will remain so until probably April. This means that a relatively small number of Ukrainian defenders can hold off the zombie-like Russian attacks and inflict catastrophic losses on them, while companies, brigades, and divisions of Ukrainian soldiers can train in Poland and the UK on sophisticated maneuvers they will use to retake territory in the Spring, using modern maneuver-based combined-arms warfare and modern Western equipment the Russians cannot match. Even when the war began, and the Russians were fresh, well-equipped, and as well-trained and as disciplined as the Russians get, they had no grasp of such tactics, and no effective defense against them. Now-- and especially after hollowing themselves out in the current offensive --the Russians are a shadow of a shadow of the force they were before the invasion.

So it is my strong belief that the Russian offensive we are seeing now will taper off in about a month, with 100,000 fresh Russian corpses fertilizing the sunflowers of Donetsk, and 200,000 men will return to their families in Russia with missing limbs and other permanent disabilities. After that, the initiative on the Ukrainian battlefield will be Ukraine's, and will that not change until the lines are pushed back to where they were before 2014. I predict that by Memorial Day, the outcome of the war will not be in any doubt, as the Ukrainians overrun Russian defenses, and Russian forces surrender en masse. By the 4th of July, Ukraine will have pushed the Russians back entirely, and the war will be over.

That is how I think the war would go, if not for a couple of factors. Vladimir Putin cannot afford to lose this war. He cannot afford to lose any war, but it is happening now. He will become increasingly desperate in the coming weeks and months. I think Yevgeny Prigozhin(the owner of Wagner PMC, the mercenary group doing most of the fighting and dying in Bakhmut, and also, as it happens, the man responsible for the 2016 election meddling in favor of Donald Trump) and Ramzan Kadyrov(the leader of Chechnya) will die under suspicious circumstances, as they are both positioning themselves to supplant Putin in the Kremlin. I have little doubt of the deaths of these men coming soon, but one thing I am not certain about is how Putin will react to defeat.

He knows that the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine, or against civilians anywhere, will turn Russia into an instant pariah, and give NATO all the cause they need not only to intervene in Ukraine, but also to strike Russia's military directly. NATO exists to answer the threat of Russia. Its entire purpose is to avert a nuclear catastrophe, and as such, it would be foolish to assume that NATO's posture for longer than most of us have been alive is not one of being a single command away from executing a coordinated conventional attack on Russia that will eliminate their nuclear capabilities and raze their military with lightning speed. Let's call it, "The NATO Plan." The minute a nuclear launch is detected, the NATO Plan will be executed. Russia's intelligence, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, is far inferior to that of the US, the UK, or France individually, let alone their combined abilities. But even so, I am certain Putin is well aware of the imminent threat of The NATO Plan, and knows that even a desperate launch on his part would spell the end of Russia as a military power within minutes.

What I do think Putin would be willing to do though, is incinerate his own people in a false flag operation. I think it is highly likely that he would strike a major city in the distant parts of Russia with a nuclear weapon, and claim it was a NATO attack, in an attempt to align another nation with him in a war against NATO, and to muster a patriotic mobilization of his own people. Here, though, I think he underestimates the intelligence capabilities of the West. For one, I think Antony Blinken will warn against exactly this scenario before it happens(just as he warned the world of the invasion and Putin's approach to it, ahead of time), so that if/when Putin tries it, the world already knows he is lying. I personally think that Putin striking a city, even within his own country, would be reason enough to execute the NATO Plan. Second, it will be easy for the West to document the entire flight of any nuclear missile, showing that the attack was obviously Russian in origin.

Putin will become increasingly desperate, but his own lack of originality will be easy to work around, in my opinion. Ukraine will be free and victorious before midsummer.

12:53 PM, Jan 31, 2023 toot this
tagged with politics
Eliminating the IRS: The Solution for a Billionaire Near You
I really dislike criticisms of the House GOP's proposal to replace the IRS and presumably all federal taxes with a 30% sales tax. When they are framed as, "it will hurt working families," it's an appeal to emotion, which I consider a cowardly way to talk, even if the statement is true. And cowardice is usually a means of hiding something, so it sets off my bullshit-meter almost as much as when snake oil salesmen try to convince me to buy something that has, "adaptogens" in it. Before I go into this in any detail, let me first say that what is being proposed has no chance of getting any oxygen in the Senate, let alone a vote. Further, President Biden would never sign it. But just to explore the idea, let's dive in.

The wealthiest taxpayers in this country pay the majority of their taxes not through income, sales, or property-- but through capital gains. They make an investment, and sell it for a profit. That profit is taxed at a modest rate as it is-- a maximum of 20%, which is much lower than income tax for the highest earners --yet it is a very high priority for the politically-connected wealthiest Americans, to eliminate it. This is part of the GOP plan.

At the other end of the income-slider, most taxes are paid right now through state and local sales taxes, which of course would not be removed by the GOP plan. They would go right on being assessed and collected, with a brand new 30% federal rate on top of that. As the lowest-earning Americans are overwhelmingly living from paycheck to paycheck, they have minimal financial options. Home ownership is well out of their reach, as is investment. Their income is low enough that they effectively pay no taxes on it. In short, they are subject to the whims of the political ruling class, and have little say in their lives. "I got no rudder," as philosopher Malcolm Reynolds once said.

The vast majority of federal tax revenue in the US comes from the wealthiest and the highest earners. Their taxes fund most federal programs. Their contribution is high, and without it, the federal government would be starved for funding. But what has to be kept in mind about this dynamic is that these people can afford it. They can afford to eat whatever and whenever they want. They can afford to donate to charity. They can afford to send their kids to high-priced private schools. They can afford home ownership and private investment. They can afford comfort, safety, and luxury. They can afford to live however they want.

They can also afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to deregulate their industries. They can afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to relieve their tax burden. They can afford to spend money to establish astroturf organizations to fool lower-income voters to vote for the interests of the wealthy and not their own. They can afford to spend money to get their allies elected to office. The list goes on.

The aim of the GOP's tax plan is to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy, and onto the lower end of the income spectrum. And on the lower end, people decidedly cannot afford the added expense. The result of this will be a cocktail of disastrous consequences. More people would turn to crime. More people would turn to public aid programs to simply survive, placing a heavy financial burden on state and local governments. Fewer people would be able to afford healthcare, increasing subsidies and local government expenditures to support non-paying hospital visits.

Also, after all this, even the most optimistic predictions show that this tax plan will not be sufficient for the federal government to pay its bills. That means the GOP, presumably in control, would propose cutting or eliminating expenditures for social security, defense, and medicare.

But none of that concerns the GOP's donors. And that's the point.

2:20 PM, Jan 14, 2023 toot this
tagged with roundup
Roundup: Job Satisfaction, Universal Pre-K, Book Fair, and Twitter wants your data
I was on call this week. Unlike some of my previous turns as the oncall, there was some interesting new work to do that required some thought. Also, I discovered that one of the more tedious web applications we rely on for our day-to-day work has a capable REST API, so I was able to write the beginnings of some simple tools that will remove some desktop tedium from our normal allotment. It always feels good to write something that will improve quality of life. I like to think that that's what I do for a living, as it's always what has given me the greatest pride in any job I've had. I'm a big believer in the removal of tedium wherever possible, to allow people to use their brains to solve real problems, in lieu of being stifled and daunted by boredom.

Back in 2020, voters in Colorado chose to increase taxes on tobacco products to fund the state's first Universal Pre-Kindergarten program by an overwhelming margin, with only small counties opposed, and every congressional district voting in favor. Governor Polis signed the complementing legislation into law last in April, and the effect will be that starting in the fall, our cost for Wendy's ECE tuition will be cut in half, saving us hundreds every month. With groceries pushing our monthly bills to new heights, this will be transformational for us, and I couldn't be happier with our elected officials.

It's Saturday of a three-day weekend now, and we're going to head over to Fiction after Wendy's, "nap," and attend a book fair the brewery is hosting in partnership with the Library. Good beers, and we'll probably run into some friends.

You may have noticed that even before Twitter was acquired and privatized on a trollish lark by an egotistical billionaire, it was a really shitty place to be. Twitter measures success in what they call, "engagement," which is just their name for a combined score for a given post increased by tweet replies, likes, and retweets. Using this data, they could more effectively identify content that would attract specific people, which is extremely valuable information for people who make their living making, selling, buying, and otherwise interacting with the business of advertisement. As such, Twitter moved away some years ago from just showing users the tweets of the people they follow, in favor of curating a feed of algorithmically engaging content that is only distantly related to the feed people want to see. To combat this, millions of people-- myself included --use third party apps to use Twitter, and they will disable the rage machine and just show you the content you chose to follow. As of some time in the last 24 hours, Twitter appears to be blocking third party apps. Whether it's a conscious but unannounced decision to drive people to the algo-infected official Twitter app, or just incompetence imposed by the aforementioned egotistical billionaire firing all the smart people, time will tell.

But if the future of Twitter is an inescapable algorithm, then I'm gone. Find me here.

11:45 AM, Dec 22, 2022 toot this
2022 Was a Very Good Year
A common take in social networking circles is that this year(and every year) is the worst ever. There's a certain satisfaction, I think, in being dissatisfied publicly. And let's be clear: some truly terrible things happened in 2022. The year began with a new lockdown, because of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, during which the greatest number of new cases was reported by a wide margin. In our house, the vaccines held, and we avoided infection until September, when everyone except Oscar got it. Hospitalization and death became largely the domain of the unvaccinated and the elderly, but the death toll was still monstrous, and even now, hundreds of Americans are dying every day from this. But from here I will mention in relatively chronological order selected events from 2022, and their longterm effects.


When the year began, Vladimir Putin was massing forces along the Russian and Belarussian sides of the Ukrainian border, assuring the world that it was just a training exercise. The Winter Olympics were held in a dystopian fashion in Beijing, with utilitarian concrete eyesores forming the backdrop of most of the outdoor events. As prelude to this, Putin visited Chinese president Xi, and the two implied to the world that they were the future. Their message was that authoritarians are strong and that Democracy breeds weakness and indecision. Almost as soon as the games ended, Putin announced to the world that he was invading Ukraine, intending to finish the job he started in 2014 when he stole the Crimea. The world shed tears for Ukraine, certain that they would be conquered in days, and that Russian imperialism would be the new normal on the world stage, ending the "Pax Americana" we've enjoyed since before our parents were born.

But the Ukrainians had other plans. Since the 2014 invasion, and subsequent ongoing hostilities with Putin's proxies in the country's eastern regions, they had been receiving arms and most importantly training, from Western armies. The strongest push by the Russian forces was toward the capital, Kyiv, and it was stopped cold, as the Russians' primitive tactics, low morale, and lord-serf command structure was overwhelmingly outmaneuvered by the well-trained Ukrainian defenders. This became the theme across all fronts after a while, and by March, all Russian advances were halted. They retreated from their attack on Kyiv and refocused their efforts on making advances in the east, which were only made by brutally and criminally laying waste to cities with artillery, and at enormous human cost to the Russians. In June, Ukraine received HIMARS weapons from the US, and proceeded to demoralize the Russians on every front, so that the theme of the war now is that the Russians are pouring their poor into a well-organized, high-morale Ukrainian blender, and it's been clear for several months now that Putin cannot win the war.

I see this as good news, because the future that he and President Xi foretold will not come to pass. NATO and the world in general came to the aid of Ukraine, and Putin's allies are stepping away from him, and threatening withdrawal from his anti-NATO alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. He is exceptionally weak. His propaganda media has to keep pivoting in the face of repeated and devastating losses in the war. And perhaps most devastating of all: Sweden and Finland are joining NATO, effectively neutralizing any Russian influence and power in the region-- let alone the world. Vladimir Putin is the single most destabilizing force in the modern world, and he's not likely make it through 2023 alive. One of his oligarchs, Yegveny Prigozhin, owns a private army called the Wagner Group, and has said outright that at the behest of his boss, he meddled in the 2016, 18, and 20 US elections, and would continue this meddling in 2022. The mask is off, and it's become clear that defeat in Ukraine will spell a regime change in Russia. I can't say with any degree of certainty that the Russia of the future will be reformed as a good, responsible, benevolent world citizen, but Putin and his oligarchs will be gone, and that alone is a very good thing.

Abortion/GOP Implosion

In May, the Supreme Court leaked a document indicating their impending reversal of the protections provided by the Roe v. Wade, and in June, they followed through and overturned it. At first, this appeared to the world as what the conservatives on the Court and the adherents of the "pro-life" movement intended it to be: the end of an era of what they saw as government-sanctioned murder. It's obviously far more complicated than that, but that idea drives donations and elections, and that aspect alone, possibly did not occur to the conservatives on the Court who voted to overturn Roe v Wade. A massive source of donation income and voter mobilization for the GOP dried up overnight, and an unenthusiastic, largely disengaged Democratic base was blasted into action, with a concrete target and campaign issue for the upcoming 2022 election. Under the conditions in place before the Court overturned the precedent and allowed states to take away American rights, and set their sights on others, most agreed that the GOP was coasting toward a massive election victory. But what wound up happening was that the Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate by one seat, not losing a single Senator who ran for reelection, and the GOP took the House by the thinnest of margins, provided mostly by the gerrymandered Florida map. Because of Donald Trump's influence and compulsive need to pick candidates, the GOP nominated a slate of truly terrible candidates in 2022, and as a result, almost every election-denying candidate for state offices around the country was roundly defeated, assuring that any plans to fix the 2024 election were thwarted.

In the time since the election, pundits conservative and not, have agreed that to move forward the GOP has to expel Donald Trump, but his extremist allies are standing by him and the extremism, even though it lost the elections for them since 2018. The House is divided now between so-called moderates like McCarthy and Scalise, and extremists like Greene, Gaetz, Gosar, Biggs, and Boebert. If they manage to elect a Speaker, he or she will not have control over the GOP caucus, and the next two years will be characterized by something that's never afflicted the GOP in my lifetime: disunity. That's bad for the GOP's 2024 election chances, and that's very good news. Though that may not be the way things work out, as there is increased pressure among the people in Party leadership to stay the course, and keep moving to the right. If the extremists consolidate their control of the Party, Trump can come out of hiding and campaign on promises of getting revenge against Democrats and RINOs, and ride the wave all the way to another electoral rebuke in 2024, after which it's still not certain they'd get it through their thick skulls that America doesn't want extremism.

Also, the matters of abortion rights and female bodily autonomy remain unresolved on the federal level, and the Democrats have time to refine a compelling message for the 2024 campaign on these matters, which enjoy supermajority support from the American public. While this is happening, the GOP will be busy executing performative House investigations on Hunter Biden and "woke" school districts, and score-settling investigations against political enemies and rivals. They will pass bills that are doomed to fail in the Senate and White House, to ban trans athletes from competing, and punish physicians who perform abortions or gender affirming care. They will do this to perform for a base that is not large enough to win statewide and nationwide elections in 2024. And this is also very good news.

There's more to write about, but this post is already way too long, so I will end it here.

Scared Straight
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