June 24, 2023

Is the Wagner group waging an armed mutiny, a civil war in the making, uprising, a coup, the bringing of the self-destruction of Russia, or a a spurious threat, basically a nothing-burger?

 


Update:

With the invasion apparently stopped and the convoy which was headed towards Moscow turned around, and some unknown resolution reached between Prighozin and Putin, we still don't know whether this will turn out to have been a nothing burger, all roll and no burger.

By Hal Brown

Is this the most credible threat to Putin since the start of his regime?

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin says that Ukraine never was a threat to Russia.
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Scroll down for updates - compared to last night we know much more than we did then.

The following paragraph (with strike-throughs) has been updated from when I wrote this early this morning. 

We don't  didn't know much more about what's was happening in Russia this morning than we did last night even though the stories are were all over the news, for example on MSNBC and in HUFFPOST...


... and in the two newspapers of record in the United States which only occasionally have the same top of the page stories:

The words being used to try to make sense of this include whether this represents a civil war in the making, an uprising, a coup, the bringing of the self-destruction of Russia, or on the other hand a spurious threat which would make it basically a newsworthy nothing-burger, albeit a dramatic one.

One thing is for certain, not only is this making the news internationally, but it led Vladimir Putin to address the nation, and hence the world, in a 5 ½ minute speech.


Here's a time I wish could understand Russian and listen to him without the halting English dubbing in the video shared on Sky TV. You can see his facial expressions along with the words which he seems to be carefully reading off a teleprompter. 

I expect members of our and other intelligence agencies who are fluent in Russian have been intensively analyzing this video to attempt to discern just how worried Putin is behind the bravado of his words as he tries to convey confident seriousness as he says Russia is fighting for the life and security of its citizens and its territorial integrity, and for the millennial  history of the country.

A retired general on MSNBC, by far more of an expert than I am, is none-the-less trying to discern whether this is a coup in the making which could bring major changes to Russia. He noted that much would depend whether a significant number of the regular Russian military units remain loyal to Putin.

Of grave concern is what would happen to Russian's nuclear threat if the instability led to the nuclear unthinkable. Putin has been all bluster when it came to threatening to use tactical nukes against Ukraine. If his hold on power is tenuous, while I haven't heard experts express this concern, I wonder if he would take, or attempt to take, this drastic and highly risky step. I wonder whether if he attempted to do this his own generals would mount a coup of their own to stop him.

On MSNBC, Evelyn Farkas, American national security advisor, author, and foreign policy analyst, just said the Wagner situation was incredibly serious. She called it the biggest threat Putin has ever faced.

Also on MSNBC, Congressman Gerry Connelly (a Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) said it could be the beginning of the unraveling of the Putin regime, that it could be a really serious threat to Putin's remaining in power. He did say there are no good guys in this, that Prigozhin is a  brutal murderous thug. He justified the killing of a recaptured deserter with a sledge hammer.

This is a "stay tuned and wait" story where the outcome will be decided in a matter of weeks if not days. In its significance it is about as far removed from the story which just played out about the Titanic OceanGate disaster which I wrote about on June 21st as any news story could be.

It may not be too soon to imagine Russia without Putin. Nobody knows whether Prigozhin has designs on becoming the new Russian leader. He began his adult life as a run-of-the-mill criminal, ended up in prison for nine years, but bounced back and ran a very successful catering business, became close to Putin, ran a troll farm to influence the US 2016 election, and finally developed a mercenary army which by all reports is better than the Russian army. (Read more about him on Wikipedia.)

Down the road is it possible to have major, or even minimal, positive changes in relations between Russia under new leadership with Putin out of the picture and democratic countries with another sociopathic leader running the country?

Prigozhin could end up as a more pragmatic Russian leader to deal with than Putin who seems to have descended into the realm of delusions. Perhaps in Prigozhin Russia could have a leader not obsessed with restoring the nationalist  glory of the former Soviet Union and make the country more like China with its dictator deciding to compete with the West economically.

Update:

Click above to read

Excerpt:

Prigozhin said his fighters would not surrender, as “we do not want the country to live on in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.”

“Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president was deeply mistaken. We are patriots of our homeland,” he said in an audio message on his Telegram channel.







June 23, 2023

Right's white might might make right fright: Serenity Now

 

I took the picture years ago at Little Harbor Beach in Wareham, Massachusetts.

By Hal Brown

I choose the above photo of a man fishing on the inlet to the salt marsh a short walk down from Little Harbor Beach in Wareham, MA as the screen saver on my laptop and iPhone, and for my Facebook page logo. When we lived in Massachusetts we went there almost every day in the warmer weather. Sometimes we kayaked from the beach to the Cape Cod Canal (see photo of me kayaking from Buzzard's Bay in 2010) which was about a half mile away. It was a place of serenity and fond memories. Under stress I often go there in my mind. 



As a therapist I recommend against the version of achieving serenity the way George's father did.

My title may be confusing. I'll explain. The white might, i.e. the power, of the far MAGA white nationalist part of the population might, i.e. "could" manifest itself, that is, become right, and thus cause people like me to become frightened.

The title is based on the aphorism on the origin of morality. The are both descriptive and prescriptive senses in which this phase is used. Descriptively, it asserts that a society's view of right and wrong is determined by those in power, with a meaning similar to "History is written by the victors". Prescriptively or normatively the phrase is most often used pejoratively, to protest tyranny. 

Another term for the concept is Kratocracy, from the Greekκρατερός krateros, meaning "strong".  Kratocracy is defined as government by those who are strong enough to seize power through force or cunning. It was coined by philosopher William Pepperill Montague (1883-1953). (Adapted from Wikipedia)

What led me to think of this was the pending case about affirmative action which is before the Supreme Court and the decision as is typical with controversial rulings could be handed down late on a Friday.

Prognosticators say that by the weekend there will be no more affirmative action. Saturday, you know if you've been paying attention to the news on MSNBC, is the first anniversary of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

More morning moronic idiocy is being reported from the goopy GOPers in the House what with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introducing resolutions “expunging” Trump’s 2019 and 2021 impeachments, respectively.

Add to this everything I wrote about yesterday in "Take Westworld and Stepford Wives robots and add a generous helping of crazy and you get the programmed House GOP" and my need for serenity, now, should make sense.

If you don't see the Disquis comment section below click here and go to bottom of the page

June 22, 2023

Take Westworld and Stepford Wives robots and add a generous helping of crazy and you get the programmed House GOP

 



By Hal Brown

You're reading this. You don't need me to elaborate on the craziness manifest among the headliners in the United States House of Representatives which has resulted in lunatic antics. Consider these automatons censoring Adam Schiff (an obsession with Rep. Ann Paulina Luna) as  a recent example of the GOP Steppford Wives marching in lockstep. Another is the duel between gunslingers Greene and Boebert (who got her orders from God) over who got the idea first to impeach President Biden could be right out of Westworld. The only difference between that gunfight and one staged for tourists is that they use AR-15's instead of six-shooters.

Article from Raw Story here:

Click to read

The vote to censure Adam Schiff was unanimous among the House Republicans so they certainly were acting like robots. The willingness to totally remain silent about the antics of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and let's not forget George Santos, is more wretched robotics.  

I won't even get into how all of these deranged devices defend Donald or refuse to address the Clarence Thomas ethical train wreck.

As I finish this blog this is what's on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC:


If you don't see the Disquis comment section below it is on the bottom of this page.




June 21, 2023

Tale of Two Gates: Trump-gate and the search for lost Titanic Oceangate sub

 By Hal Brown

If you remember Baby Jessica you probably are at least middle-aged.

Click above to read Time article

When 18 month old Jessica McClure (Wikipedia) fell into a well in 1987 there was no 24 hour cable news coverage. However it still was covered extensively on every over-the-air TV station.

Then in 2018 we had the rescue of the soccer team from the flooded cave in Thailand.  There's nothing like a prolonged dramatic rescue or a devastating hurricane or earthquake to bump coverage of wars and politics off the news.

Today the news is chock-a-block full of reporting about the efforts to rescue a group of wealthy morbid adventurers dying to see where 1,517 passengers and crew of the Titanic lost their lives. These death tourists may or may not actually die themselves. Unlike those on the Titanic, if they do die it is likely their bodies will end up being recovered. 

A cynic might say it would be more appropriate if the sub made it to the Titanic that they were left in the same watery 12,500 foot deep grave as the those of 1,517 who lost their lives, some to sharks and some to drowning on the surface or, if they were trapped below decks meeting their deaths there. This would bring the total Titanic death count to 1,522.

If they are rescued it remains to be seen whether they will be seen as heroes or reckless privileged idiots who cost the Canadian and American governments a small fortune to give them the gift of life. If their bodies are recovered it is yet to be determined how the media will cover the story. 

Oceangate is the name of the company which owns and operates the sub and has a Wikipedia page here.


At present this is these are the Wikipedia entries related to the current incident:

2023 loss of Titan 


On 18 June 2023, Titan went missing in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland. The submersible was carrying an expedition of tourists, including Hamish Harding, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Shahzada Dawood, Dawood's son, Suleman, and the founder of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, to view the wreckage of RMS Titanic.[29][30] The disappearance of the submarine triggered extensive search and rescue efforts to locate the submersible.[31]

2023 Titan submersible incident


What is ironic is that the suffix "-gate" is defined this way:
Suffice to say that you probably don't want anything associated with you to have "-gate " attached to it unless you own a fence gate company.

There was no Jessica-gate since she innocently fell into a well and anyone following the story breathed a sigh of relief when she was rescued.

Whether the Oceangate company even exists once this story is laid to rest remains to be seen. However, if it does the founder and executives may rue the day they called it Oceangate. The incident may end up being called Oceangate-gate.

At present a web search of Trumpgate or Trump-gate turns up lots of articles dating back to about 2020 to the present. Here's a recent one.

Before Trump-gate there was Russia-gate. Both earned Twitter hashtags: #Trumpgate and #Russiagate

The history of the "-gate" suffix refers to single episodes or incidents. 

It may come to pass that Trump-gate will go down in American history books as a description not only of everything having to do with Donald Trump flouting the law and his trashing the traditions of the presidency, but of how close the country came to becoming a autocratic fascist country.


Update: No surprise, this:


"Literally everything I’ve seen about this missing submarine is insane and sketchy AF… almost none of it makes any sense whatsoever. How long till we find other external factors making it even more so???" the younger Trump tweeted before turning to COVID conspiracies.

"Love the lefties screaming about conspiracies when it seems virtually all of the supposed 'conspiracy theories' that we were told were nonsense (despite almost always being the most plausible answer) have been proven to be dead on. See Wuhan Lab Leak etc.," he later said.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk was infuriated with fact-checking site Snopes, which reported that OceanGate, which was overseeing the expedition, used Starlink for communications. Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX, which is run by Musk. It's true, but it leaves out a lot of information about the way that the sub was communicating with those at the surface. Musk was furious seeing the link. Rather than trying to correct the claim, he tweeted it was part of a government conspiracy psy-op.


If you don't see the Disquis comment section below it is on the bottom of this page.

Update: Vox had a similar story here.





June 20, 2023

Could Nobel Peace Prize nominee Trump use "old man defense" in upcoming trial?



By Hal Brown

I'm sure you remember the photo (top, above) which was shared on social media in February of 2019. Raw Story decided to use it in this article today:
Click above to read article

This is what Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer based in Washington, DC, said on Lawrence O'Donnell last night:

"He's going to say he's gotten old. He's been with all these retirees down in Florida. He can't think anything straight. He doesn't know what he has, he forgets things. He gets facts jumbled up," Moss joked. "Look at that clip, he is talking about, 'Oh we were negotiating when Nauta and I got raided.' Well, no, you left something out. There was a subpoena that came after that, after you started giving stuff back. And you lied to the DOJ, you had Nauta moving documents; that's why you got raided. I understand. It happens to a lot of individuals when they move down to Florida. They start to get confused. It will be me one day, I'm sure. But no, this is not a defense. He has clearly walked himself into a bunch of damaging admissions. Jack Smith has gotta be recording all of that, and they are just laughing and popping popcorn because he did nothing to help his case."

I found it interesting that the 2019 photo was used to illustrate this article because Trump was obviously not as old an old man then than he is now. 

In finding the photo on Twitter I came across this from a Chris Hayes show from four years ago:

Click above to enlarge

It's worth watching. The episode includes a description of how Trump bragged about his fake Nobel Peace Prize nomination "for a little thing called the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps you've heard of it."


You can watch the video here:

Now to the question as to whether it would make sense that Trump could use the "old man defense" in his upcoming documents case trial, now scheduled to begin in mid-August, or any other cases.

Of course there's no such thing as an "old man defense" per se. There are however, the diminished capacity defense and the not reason by reason of insanity plea described here.

These defenses actually might be appropriate for Trump, or more precisely for Trump's lawyers to pursue since he'd never agree to either of them. Being a therapist and not a lawyer I can only suggest that there is evidence that he could avoid prison using either defense. I don't know whether Trump's lawyers would be able to convince a judge to order an involuntary psychiatric assessment to determine whether Trump is capable of making this decision on his own.

My understanding of the law is that a defendant has to be able to understand the charges against him and participate in his own defense in order to stand trial. If this is true then it's possible Trump could be ordered into treatment until he is determined to be "sane enough" to stand trial.

Addendum:

"And by the way, when Bill Barr, who's, you know, a coward, Bill Barr was a coward. Bill Barr didn't do what he was supposed to do. I fired him and he has great hatred. And that's OK, because some people do. And some people love me very much." 



June 19, 2023

Donald Trump for Village Snipe Hunter

 

By Hal Brown

If you are reading this on the other platforms I post on directly, namely Booksie which doesn't allow active links, Medium, or Substack, go to my primary host, Google Blogger at halbrown.org where I often post additions and updates which I don't bother putting on the other hosts.


There are some people who say Trump is mentally unfit to hold any elected or appointed office. There are those who say he is so dangerously psychologically impaired and ignorant that the only job he is qualified to hold is that of village idiot.

I beg to differ. 

He is perfectly qualified to be a village snipe hunter.

The qualifications are having a loud mouth, supreme self-confidence, never having been wrong in his entire life, and the uncanny ability to find and destroy those dangerous stink'n snipes threatening to wipe out all the fine upstanding villagers.

Snipe hunters must be ready, willing, and able to do whatever is necessary to find and to eliminate these dangerous snipes.

There are already many villages that already have their own official snipe hunters. Some are large, entire states in fact, some are merely congressional districts. With Trump being unemployed at present some village must be looking for a snipe hunter with his qualifications.

Addendum:

The current definition of snipe (not the actual bird which is known for its cryptic/camouflaging plumage and only hunted with binoculars.)


snipe hunt is a type of practical joke or fool's errand, in existence in North America as early as the 1840s, in which an unsuspecting newcomer is duped into trying to catch an elusive, nonexistent animal called a snipe. Although snipe are an actual family of birds, a snipe hunt is a quest for an imaginary creature whose description varies.

The target of the prank is led to an outdoor spot and given instructions for catching the snipe; these often include waiting in the dark and holding an empty bag or making noises to attract the creature. The others involved in the prank then leave the newcomer alone in the woods to discover the joke. As an American rite of passage, snipe hunting is often associated with summer camps and groups such as the Boy Scouts. In France, a similar joke is called "hunting the dahut".


In common parlance and as used in this blog a snipe is a person or thing that does not exist but is dangerous. Some examples of snipes are as follows:

  • anyone who believes, let alone dares to publicly say, that Biden was elected in a fair election
  • communists and Marxists who, if they could, would send you to some unspecified gulag
  • groomers who want to force your children into changing their gender
  • male entertainers who dress as women and try to turn your children gay
  • people who say that Pizzagate, the theory which claimed there were emails which contained coded messages that connected several high-ranking Democratic officials and U.S. restaurants with an alleged human sex trafficking and child sex ring, was a made-up conspiracy 
  • teachers, librarians, politicians, and others who want  to warp your mind and your children's minds by telling them what they say are lies about the country's history of racial injustice (and worse)
  • people who advocate for the efficacy of vaccines
  • people who say climate change is both real and dangerous
  • anyone who questions the American right to arm themselves with assault rifles
  • people who say that the plot to kidnap children to extract Adrenochrome (claimed to be an elixir of youth), which is being harvested by liberal elites from the blood of kidnapped children is a delusional lie
  • people who deny that there are Jewish space lasers causing wildfires
  • people who believe that the vast majority of Muslim-Americans are good people, and the same for people who want to immigrate to the U.S. from Latin America.
  • almost last, but not least, anyone who thinks being "woke" is a good thing
  • really last and definitely not least, anyone who thinks Donald Trump isn't an infallible god to whom man's laws don't apply
Full disclosure: By these definitions, since I am a retired psychotherapist who believes there is ample evidence to consider Trump to be a dangerous psychopath and a delusional grandiose narcissist incapable of empathy so impulsive that if he became president again he'd turn the country into a fascist dictatorship where his first word of business would be to wreak vengeance on his detractors, there is no doubt I'd be considered a snipe.

Related:

Click above to read
Excerpt:

Hours after pleading not guilty in federal court, Trump told a crowd of his supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that Biden, “together with a band of his closest thugs, misfits and Marxists, tried to destroy American democracy.” He added, “If the communists get away with this, it won’t stop with me.”

Other Republicans have piled on with similar messaging. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene last week took to Twitter to lambast what she called the “CORRUPT AND WEAPONIZED COMMUNISTS DEMOCRAT CONTROLLED DOJ.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest rival for the GOP presidential nomination, has argued the U.S. risks falling victim to “woke” ideology, which he has defined in interviews as a form of “cultural Marxism.” 

Click above to read Salon article
Excerpt:

QAnon is still growing (in 2021, an alarming 16 percent of Americans said they believe its core tenets, according to a 2022 PRRI study), pushing the idea that secret Satanists within the government are both sacrificing children (because the bad guy is always secretly sacrificing children) and trying to undermine your personal safety and take away your (unspecified) rights. Rippling outward from there, an even larger sample of the population seems to be stuck on the idea that children's books and history classrooms hide a secret evil that's coming for our children.




June 18, 2023

Why is anybody surprised that the worse Trump's legal troubles get the more his cult loves him, gives him money, and contemplate violence?

 



By Hal Brown

Anyone who follows experts like neuroscientist Bobby Azarian, whose latest article in Raw Story is  "A neuroscientist explains why Trump extremists will grow violent as Election 2024 approaches"or read articles like  "The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists" (Scientific American 2021) knows the scientific reasons why Trump has such an iron grip on members of his cult.

Azarian explains:

Terror management theory is particularly relevant to current political events because it provides a scientific explanation for tribalism. The theory suggests that in the face of threat or fear, we bolster our worldviews, and become more ideological. We also become more tribal, which will strengthen our support for like-minded others, while at the same time making us more prone to aggression toward those who are not like us, and who do not share our worldview.

 They also know, as Azarian explains, how dangerous some of them may be:

This suggests that an atmosphere of existential fear would simultaneously promote aggression while strengthening support for Trump, who regularly projects a “strongman” image and suggests violence as a remedy to political matters. 

This is a very scary combination of psychological effects. For this reason we must be aware of this problem, which will become increasingly salient as the 2024 presidential election begins to heat up.
Azarian concludes with a plea for empathy, using our knowledge, and optimism as follows:

So, we must be empathetic during these times, but we must also be vigilant. If we stay on the current trajectory of increasing polarization, we can almost be certain that a whole new level of unrest is headed our way. Now the question is whether we have the ability to use this knowledge to avert the coming train wreck. But I’m an optimist, and I think if we can predict something ahead of time, we can figure out how to prevent it. That is precisely why science has been such a powerful force for human civilization, and it’s time we start applying that knowledge to solving the existential threat that is the culture war in America.

What puzzles me is why so many rational people are surprised, shocked even, that the more is revealed about how Trump defied the law and put national security at risk and now may face the sword of Lady Justice for what he did, the more members of his cult support him. For example:


At a subliminal level have all of these people bought into the illusion of Telfon Don, of Superman Trump, of Rambo Trump, on bulletproof Trump riding a tank into battle?

From members of the general public who zealously support him no matter what he's done or how outlandish his behavior is to members of Congress and Republicans running for president it seems as if they fall into one of two groups. The first is the group who believe he is the superhuman being he portrays himself. The more imperiled he becomes for many the more enthusiastic their support of him becomes.  The second group is composed of the politicians who are scared shitless of him and the voting block he controls. In private they may wish he'd just disappear (see Would Republicans support Trump in 2024 if he's convicted of crimes? They're split, NBC News).

Group two is afraid of group one. They are hitching their political wagons to horses that have been grazing in locoweed.









Amazing! Trump just got some bigots pissed off. By Hal Brown, MSW

  I had to read the RawStory article shown above three times to figure out what happened. Trump was showing his supposed support for law enf...