More to ignore, Book 95....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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....The conceit of this dehumanizing bit of political theater was that the liberal denizens of Martha’s Vineyard would reject the migrants out of hypocrisy, thus proving that Democrats aren’t actually interested in welcoming immigrants into their communities. To DeSantis and his amen corner, asylum seekers are disposable, and they believe that liberals will want to dispose of them too.

What happened, instead, was that residents of Martha’s Vineyard rallied to provide food, shelter, clothing and services. The asylum seekers are now on their way to Cape Cod, to receive further assistance. The stunt failed to make its intended point.

The same was true of a previous stunt, in which DeSantis touted the arrests of 20 former felons for election fraud. The intended message was that Florida, and presumably the entire country, needed to be on constant alert to block fraudulent voters. But in the days and weeks after the arrests, an investigation by The Tampa Bay Times found that the state had actually cleared those residents to vote. As far as they knew, they hadn’t broken the law. If anything, they had been entrapped as part of a scheme to make DeSantis a more attractive candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. [...]
.....
But I think these failed stunts tell us something important about DeSantis’s ability to succeed on the national stage.

In short, he’s not quite ready......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....In trying to position himself as a viable conservative alternative to Donald Trump, DeSantis is using emotive issues such as immigration and abortion and school curriculums to raise his national profile as a culture warrior. His strategy reflects the makeup of today’s Republican Party. As my colleague Benjamin Wallace-Wells pointed out in a piece earlier this week, on the midterms, focussing on culture-war issues enables the G.O.P. to energize its electoral base of white voters without college degrees, and also to gloss over the growing chasm in the Party between those actively supporting Donald Trump and his Big Lie about the 2020 election, and those trying to maintain some semblance of independence. With Trump’s latest legal troubles dominating the news, and with the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade having detonated a bomb under what was left of the Republicans’ old base—affluent suburbanites—this strategy doesn’t seem to be working very well this year, but DeSantis will almost certainly run with it again in 2024.

The forty-four-year-old’s central insight, Wallace-Wells pointed out, is that the best way to unify a party of the right these days is to mercilessly attack educated progressives wherever they can be found: in politics, the media, education, business, or wherever. To DeSantis, at least, flying undocumented Venezuelans from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard fits this model neatly. In response to questions at an event in the Panhandle, he conceded that his action wasn’t really about the migrants, or the struggle of the border cities to take in larger numbers of them. It was about owning the libs. “All those people in D.C. and New York were beating their chest when Trump was President, saying they were so proud to be sanctuary jurisdictions,” he said. “The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they all of a sudden go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening. And it just shows you that their virtue signalling is a fraud.”

In addition to calling into question the legality of the transport flights, Democrats pointed out that DeSantis and his fellow G.O.P. governors are playing politics with vulnerable and defenseless migrants. “I think DeSantis and Abbott are overplaying their hands,” Cristóbal Alex, a former senior official in the Biden White House, who worked on immigration issues, told Politico. “They are using families, children as political pawns. It’s shameful—and will backfire on them.” Some senior Democrats, Joe Biden included, seemed to dial down their reaction to avoid giving DeSantis more publicity. With the polls having generally moved in their favor over recent weeks, Democrats are also wary of media attention shifting to an issue that doesn’t favor them. In a new poll from the New York Times/Siena College, fifty-one per cent of respondents said they agreed with the Republican Party on illegal immigration, compared to thirty-seven per cent who said they agreed with the Democratic Party......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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....Recent events have heightened the city’s anxiety, perhaps spurring the response at Northeastern. Boston Children’s Hospital has been inundated with threats and harassment. It established the nation’s first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in 2007, and the hospital is now being targeted with false accusations fostered by the far right on social media.

Boston Children’s does not perform genital surgery on people under age 18. But truth has never been a deterrent to hate. At least twice in the past month, the hospital has received bomb threats from unknown callers, causing the medical facility to contact authorities and go into lockdown.

Imagine how vile someone has to be to target a building filled with ailing children, concerned families, and medical professionals devoted to taking care of kids. These are the depths we’re contending with. In a statement after an August bomb scare, hospital officials said, “We remain vigilant in our efforts to battle the spread of false information about the hospital and our caregivers.” [...]

Of course, the point is to intimidate and demonize. That’s also the motivation behind white supremacist groups marching on Boston’s streets. Last month, they invaded the Seaport district and targeted a drag queen story hour for children. It was the second time Patty Bourrée, a Boston drag performer, was singled out. Her July appearance in Jamaica Plain was also protested by a local neo-Nazi group, NSC-131......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....COVID deaths persist in part because we let them. America has largely decided to be done with the pandemic, even though the pandemic stubbornly refuses to be done with America. The country has lifted nearly all of its pandemic restrictions, and emergency pandemic funding has been drying up. For the most part, people have settled into whatever level of caution or disregard suits them. A Pew Research survey from May found that COVID did not even crack Americans’ list of the top 10 issues facing the country. Only 19 percent said that they consider it a big problem, and it’s hard to imagine that number has gone anywhere but down in the months since. COVID deaths have shifted from an emergency to the accepted collateral damage of the American way of life. Background noise.

On one level, this is appalling. To simply proclaim the pandemic over is to abandon the vulnerable communities and older people who, now more than ever, bear the brunt of its burden. Yet on an individual level, it’s hard to blame anyone for looking away, especially when, for most Americans, the risk of serious illness is lower now than it has been since early 2020. It’s hard not to look away when each day’s numbers are identically grim, when the devastation becomes metronomic. It’s hard to look each day at a number—491, 382, 494—and experience that number for what it is: the premature ending of so many individual human lives.

People grow accustomed to these daily tragedies because to not would be too painful. “We are, in a way, victims of our own success,” Steven Taylor, a psychiatrist at the University of British Columbia who has written one book on the psychology of pandemics and is at work on another, told me. Our adaptability is what allowed us to weather the worst of the pandemic, and it is also what’s preventing us from fully escaping the pandemic. We can normalize anything, for better or for worse. “We’re so resilient at adapting to threats,” Taylor said, that we’ve “even habituated to this.”.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: The one corner of Ukraine where Russian forces are still (barely) on the attack

kos

With Ukraine moving forward on multiple fronts, I scoured recent Ukraine General Staff reports to see if Russia was still managing any offensive actions. Turns out that yes, but just a few. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the same town names popped up:

During the current day, units of the Defense Forces repelled enemy attacks in the areas of the settlements of Bakhmut, Zaitseve, Pervomaiske, Mykolayivka Druga and Novomykhailivka.

Friday morning’s update also included the town of Vesela Dolyna, but otherwise, it was a virtual copy and paste over the past several days. Let’s see where those towns are:

upd.png


Russia’s entire offensive operations span a 75 kilometer (46 mile) strip of front out of roughly 800 kilometers of active front (500 miles)—less than 10% of the contact line.

Russia has been banging their heads against most of those towns for
months. I added Kodema, because pro-Russian outlets were so proud of taking that insignificant little spot on the map at the same time that Ukraine was sweeping across Kharkiv Oblast.



My favorite sarcastic response to that tweet, “That’s a cool hill truly,” brought home the absurdity of the Russian celebration.

I also include Pisky because the General Staff report is an admission that Pisky has finally fallen to Russia (War Mapper, the author of the colorful map above, still hasn’t marked the town Russian controlled). Russia would be unable to attack Pervomaiske if Ukrainian troops were still holding on to Pisky.

But … so what? Who cares that Russia has gotten Pisky, or Kodema? They won’t capture Bakhmut, but if they did, also so what? It’s patently absurd that at the same time that Ukraine is notching gains in Kherson, Kharkiv, and northern Luhansk Oblasts, Russia is wasting time, men, and material pushing forward in a region that offers no strategic payoff.

Indeed, the original point of attacking this front was to form the southern claw of a pincer movement that would’ve trapped tens of thousands of entrenched Ukrainian forces in the Donbas. Let me dig up an old map that shows what they intended:


pincer.png

Map from July 25, 2022

This pincer plan was the reason Russia pushed hard into Izyum, at great logistical cost. They tried to make this thing happen, god knows they
tried. That’s why they spent two months trying to take tiny Dovhen’ke, south of Izyum. But this was always a stupid plan doomed to fail. Russia was incapable of extending supply lines 25 kilometers from a railhead, but they were supposed to manage several hundred kilometers of penetration, vulnerable to Ukrainian flank attacks, and then hold it long enough to starve those Ukrainian defenders?

Still, as long as they held Izyum, Russia could maintain the fiction that pushing hard in Donetsk oblast made some kind of military sense. But now that Izyum is liberated, what exactly is the military reason to continue this self-destructive behavior? Russia threw their best forces at Pisky—prewar population six—for two months before taking a town literally across the street from the Russian-occupied capital city of Donetsk oblast! Why are they still bothering with this idiocy?

The reason is simple: Russia isn’t actually in charge in this corner of the front.

This is Wagner PMC (private military contractor) territory. Russian forces lack a unified command: there’s the Russian army (divided into sectors led by separate military districts), VDV (airborne)corps, Luhansk proxies, Donetsk proxies, Rosgvardia (Putin’s personal army, the national guard), the Chechen Kadyrovites, and Wagner mercenaries. The result is a real cluster****, both in command, in cooperation and communication, in motivation, and in agendas.

So we laughed at pro-Russian sources for celebrating the capture of that hill near Kodema while the entire northern front was collapsing. Yet they were genuinely celebrating in Wagner circles, and in their Telegram channel, they reacted angrily at rumors that they were redeploying to help hold the line in Kharkiv oblast.


The information about the transfer of forces of the "Wagner Group" to the Izyum direction, as well as near Kupyansk, is not true.
"Musicians" [their self-styled nickname] continue their work on the fronts assigned to them, and at the moment they are almost, if not the only ones, who not only hold the front in Ukraine, but also advance it. No one is going to be removed from especially difficult areas to plug holes.”

In short, “We’re the only ones making any progress, so **** off anyone else that needs our help!” Perhaps this attitude might hold water if Wagner was gaining anything other than a sad hill at Kodema or the empty husk of the town of Pisky, across the street from Russian-occupied Donetsk city. But Wagner’s corporate leadership apparently decided that “we’re the only group in Russia making progress” was a much better business development slogan than “we’re all in this together.”

So yes, it’s true, Wagner forces are inching forward here or there, but in a militarily insignificant slice of front. So as always, we need to come back to this meme:

stupid.jpg




Note that the tally includes vehicles destroyed when Russia first swept through this area in March and April. They weren’t visible until now. So the captured-to-destroyed ratio is even more lopsided than what we see here, meaning there was very little fighting during Ukraine’s blitzkrieg.

The number of captured vehicles is stunning: tanks (74), infantry fighting vehicles (143), artillery (58), trucks (64), and plenty of miscellaneous other equipment. And they’re still documenting and counting more captured vehicles! I saw at least a half-dozen new captured tanks posted to Telegram after this graphic was posted.

A Russian Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) is 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles (plus assorted artillery and support vehicles). Looking at the list above, we’re looking at 4-5 Russian BTGs essentially gifted to Ukraine.

...........
This isn’t sensitive media, don’t be afraid to watch. Be patient. The payoff is worth it.



.........

Yesterday, there was heavy fighting inside Kherson city, yet Ukrainian forces are still a couple dozen kilometers away from the city.



Other views of the fighting here and here. The official Russian explanation is that they killed “terrorists.” But we know they lie, so there are several theories:
  • Insurgent activity. Self-explanatory.
  • Staged fight for propaganda purposes. We’ve seen the Kadyrovites make ridiculous TikTok videos of them shooting traffic lights and bushes. In fact, this might be the most popular theory, but note the video above, at the 2-3 second mark, there’s an incoming tracer round ricocheting off the surface toward that armored infantry vehicle. Something was shooting back.
  • Fratricide. I wrote above about all the different armies operating under Russian banner, and there have been multiple reports of these forces turning fire on each other (oftentimes as a result of alcohol). Kadyrovites have just arrived in Kherson, and they’re rumored to be used as blocking forces, shooting any Russian soldiers trying to flee the front lines. Maybe those rumors have merit, or maybe it’s just anti-muslim bigotry from other corners of the Russian empire. Or maybe two units were fighting over a looted washing machine. There are plenty of reasons internal conflict could spark into open warfare.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Sunday, Sep 18, 2022 · 10:53:03 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
There are reports that Russia is actually pulling missiles from air defense around Russian cities in order to have more missiles to launch into Ukrainian cities. While this may not seem like a very sustainable idea (and it’s not), it makes some sense as Russia is phasing out missiles using in the S-300 system for those in longer range S-400. So it can move the older missiles to kill civilians in Ukraine with little threat to civilians in Russia,

That’s assuming, of course, that the new missile systems work more reliably than every other system Russia has built since the end of the Cold War. Sleep well, St. Petersburg.

 

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