Open thread Sept. 13, 2022 Dan Crawford | September 13, 2022 8:06 am Hot Topics Comments (13) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
“But, ‘one counteroffensive does not make a victory,’ both the Post and other observers remind. It’s not anywhere near over. What Vladimir Putin cannot take, he will break, someone yesterday commented.”
“With a little help from Ukraine’s friends” – Digby’s Hullabaloo (digbysblog.net)
Morse Concedes to Bolduc in New Hampshire Senate Race, Realizing GOP Fears
NY Times – Sep 14
Don Bolduc, a retired Army general and 2020 election denier, appears to have captured the Republican nomination for Senate in New Hampshire after his chief rival conceded early Wednesday.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race. As of 8 a.m., Mr. Bolduc held a lead of about 1,200 votes over Chuck Morse, the president of the State Senate.
Mr. Morse was endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu and helped by $4.5 million from national Republicans, who were worried that a victory by Mr. Bolduc would forfeit what they saw as a winnable seat in the quest for Senate control this fall.
Mr. Bolduc’s apparent victory will come as a relief to Democrats, who also assume he will be the weaker opponent against Senator Maggie Hassan, a first-term Democrat. She won in 2016 by about 1,000 votes in purple New Hampshire but has been saddled with low job approval numbers. Four states — New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — have vulnerable Democratic senators the party is aggressively defending to keep its hold on the Senate. …
(Up in) New Hampshire, ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than a motto
Boston Globe – Sep 12
… Free Staters are an existential threat to democracy itself.
Once considered a fringe movement in New Hampshire, the Free State philosophy has moved far past theory. Free State leaders estimate that more than 6,000 people have moved to New Hampshire as part of the movement, and say that nearly 20,000 have signed a pledge to do so.
Those figures have been disputed by critics, but Free Staters in New Hampshire are running for office from select boards to the State House, including contests in Tuesday’s primary election. Already, there are 25 known and likely members in the state House of Representatives, according to progressive tracking groups, and a number of other representatives are suspected of sympathizing with the movement.
They constitute a formidable bloc that some mainstream Republicans contend has hijacked their party in pursuit of an extreme conservative agenda.
Free Staters helped win approval for an expansive school-choice program, now in its second year, that gives families an average of nearly $5,000 per pupil to spend as they see fit, including home school and online learning.
They have pushed for fewer firearms restrictions in New Hampshire, including a 2017 measure that now allows hidden, loaded firearms to be carried in public without a license. …
The Free State strategy is simple and incremental: Attract more members to this small state, acquire and concentrate political power, and then disassemble government from the inside out.
When Jason Sorens, then a Yale graduate student, launched the movement with an essay in 2001, he envisioned 20,000 people moving to a yet-to-be-determined state. New Hampshire, which has a 400-member House, was chosen two years later.
Free Staters often run for office as Republicans, and many have been accused of using the party to gain credibility and disguising their goals while campaigning. But more and more Free Staters are gaining confidence to advocate publicly for a radical end-game. …
Social Security’s Cost-of-Living Increase Will Be Largest in Four Decades, an Estimate Says
NY Times – Sep 14
Retirees will learn the amount of the increase for 2023 in October, and the current estimate is that it will be 8.7%.
More than 70 million Americans who receive Social Security benefits can expect an inflation adjustment to their monthly checks next year that will be the largest in four decades.
Government inflation figures for August, released on Tuesday, point to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, known as the COLA, of 8.7 percent, according to an estimate by a nonpartisan group that lobbies for seniors. The Social Security Administration will announce the final figure on Oct. 13, after the release of September inflation data.
The 8.7 percent estimate by the group, the Senior Citizens League, is lower than the league’s prediction last month of 9.6 percent. The revision reflects the recent slight cooling of inflation to 8.3 percent. But if the league’s projection holds up, the COLA still would be the largest since 1981, when the inflation adjustment was 11.2 percent.
Is the Russian invasion of Ukriane what it takes to truly unify Europe?
The E.U.’s top official lays out plans for lasting support of Ukraine.
NY Times – Sep 14
In an hourlong address replete with symbolism, Ursula von der Leyen, the top European Union official, emphasized the bloc’s unwavering support of Ukraine and detailed plans to manage the domestic costs of its confrontation with Russia.
Clad in a yellow-and-blue outfit to match the Ukrainian flag colors — and with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, sitting in the front row of the European Parliament chambers in Strasbourg, France — Ms. von der Leyen framed Russia’s invasion as a war against Europe.
“This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future,” said Ms. von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.
Ms. von der Leyen used the annual “State of the Union” to deliver a message of resolve, seeking to dispel speculation that the 27-nation bloc was considering loosening sanctions against Russia despite the economic pain Moscow has inflicted. …
“I want to make it very clear — the sanctions are here to stay. This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement,” she said, adding that she would visit Ukraine later on Wednesday in a previously unannounced trip.
Ms. von der Leyen also pledged 100 million euros ($100 million) to rebuilding Ukraine’s schools. And she announced policies that attempt to knit Ukraine — which is a candidate for E.U. membership — closer to the bloc, including extending its free cellular roaming zone to Ukraine and giving the nation access to its single market for goods and services.
Ms. von der Leyen spent much of her speech addressing the energy crisis, saying that her office would propose legislation to cap the revenues of companies that produce electricity from cheap resources, such as renewables.
And, in a bolder step than many expected, Ms. von der Leyen said that she would propose that the bloc reform its energy pricing system to decouple the cost of electricity from the cost of natural gas. She also said gas and coal companies would be taxed further on their profits. A more detailed presentation of the measures, which would need to be approved by E.U. governments, was expected later on Wednesday. …
“The months ahead of us will not be easy — be it for families who are struggling to make ends meet, or businesses, who are facing tough choices about their future,” she conceded.
But she added: “I stand here with the conviction that, with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Europe will prevail.”
New Inflation Developments Are Rattling Markets and Economists.
NY Times – Sep 15
The Russians Spent Months Forming A New Army Corps. It Lasted Days in Ukraine.
Forbes – Sep 15
The Kremlin this summer scrambled to form a new army corps, seeking replacements for 80,000 troops injured or killed in Ukraine and 5,000 wrecked or captured vehicles. …
The 3rd Army Corps on paper is a powerful force, with several brigades encompassing 10,000 troops in a dozen or more battalions equipped with hundreds of T-80 and T-90 tanks and other vehicles.
But it’s a hollow formation, staffed by old, unfit volunteers including drug and alcohol addicts. And when the 3rd AC’s vanguard rushed to northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast last week in a desperate bid to block a Ukrainian counteroffensive, the corps just … melted away. …
Fit or not, elements of the 3rd AC in late August deployed to Kharkiv Oblast where, a week later, a dozen Ukrainian brigades launched a powerful counteroffensive that, in a heavy five days, rolled Russian forces out of the oblast and back across the Russian border. …
Related: Putin acknowledges China may have ‘questions and concerns’ about the war.
NY Times – Sep 15
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Thursday that Moscow understood that China had “questions and concerns” about the war in Ukraine — a notable, if cryptic, admission from Mr. Putin that Beijing may not fully approve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He made the remark as he met with Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, in Uzbekistan. …
Chinese Support for Putin’s War Looks More Shaky After Summit
What is Putin hoping for from Xi?
NY Times – Sep 15
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday, displaying a united front against what the two autocratic leaders consider to be American hegemony.
Mr. Putin was also looking to China as a lifeline at a time of weakness: Russian forces have suffered significant losses on the battlefield in Ukraine, and as Western sanctions continue to inflict damage on the Russian economy, Beijing has emerged as a major buyer of Russian products.
But Mr. Xi expressed caution in his public remarks, and avoided even mentioning Ukraine. China released a statement saying the two countries would support each other on issues “concerning their respective core interests.” …
Putin Nods to Xi’s ‘Concerns,’ and the Limits of Their Cooperation
NY Times – Sep 15
President Vladimir V. Putin acknowledged on Thursday that China had “questions and concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, a notable, if cryptic, admission that Moscow lacks the full backing of its biggest, most powerful partner on the world stage.
Mr. Putin met China’s leader, Xi Jinping, on Thursday in their first in-person meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine, and as Mr. Xi traveled abroad for the first time since the start of the pandemic. But rather than put on a show of Eurasian unity against the West as Russia struggled to recover from last week’s humiliating military retreat in northeastern Ukraine, the two leaders struck discordant notes in their public remarks — and Mr. Xi made no mention of Ukraine at all.
“We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis,” Mr. Putin said in televised remarks at the start of the meeting. “We understand your questions and concerns in this regard.” …