Tuesday ReadsPosted: March 22, 2022
Putin’s genocidal war on Ukraine continues, and the horror of what he’s doing is almost unbearable to see or even think about. Here at home, we are in day two of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. And of course we continue to deal with the aftermath of Trump’s four-year attempt to bring down U.S. democracy.
Just one outstanding article and a relevant work of art; that’s all I can handle today.
The artwork is from the Maiden revolution of 2014, but people are posting it now in response to Putin’s current war on Ukraine. Read more about the artist at Artnet.
This story at the AP is beyond horrifying, but IMHO, it is absolutely essential reading: 20 Days in Mariupol: The team that documented the city’s agony, by Mstyslav Chernov. (Mstyslav Chernov is a video journalist for The Associated Press. This is his account of the siege of Mariupol, as documented with photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and told to correspondent Lori Hinnant.)
MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — The Russians were hunting us down. They had a list of names, including ours, and they were closing in.
We were the only international journalists left in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and we had been documenting its siege by Russian troops for more than two weeks. We were reporting inside the hospital when gunmen began stalking the corridors. Surgeons gave us white scrubs to wear as camouflage.
Suddenly at dawn, a dozen soldiers burst in: “Where are the journalists, for fuck’s sake?”
I looked at their armbands, blue for Ukraine, and tried to calculate the odds that they were Russians in disguise. I stepped forward to identify myself. “We’re here to get you out,” they said.
The walls of the surgery shook from artillery and machine gun fire outside, and it seemed safer to stay inside. But the Ukrainian soldiers were under orders to take us with them.
We ran into the street, abandoning the doctors who had sheltered us, the pregnant women who had been shelled and the people who slept in the hallways because they had nowhere else to go. I felt terrible leaving them all behind.
Nine minutes, maybe 10, an eternity through roads and bombed-out apartment buildings. As shells crashed nearby, we dropped to the ground. Time was measured from one shell to the next, our bodies tense and breath held. Shockwave after shockwave jolted my chest, and my hands went cold.
We reached an entryway, and armored cars whisked us to a darkened basement. Only then did we learn from a policeman why the Ukrainians had risked the lives of soldiers to extract us from the hospital.
“If they catch you, they will get you on camera and they will make you say that everything you filmed is a lie,” he said. “All your efforts and everything you have done in Mariupol will be in vain.”
The officer, who had once begged us to show the world his dying city, now pleaded with us to go. He nudged us toward the thousands of battered cars preparing to leave Mariupol.
This is the end of the story. These courageous journalists reached safety after their 20 days of documenting events in Mariupol while the city was cut off from the outside world and under constant attack by Putin’s army. I hope you will go read the rest of this brilliant article.
Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings
I was watching the hearings until Lindsay Graham began his questioning of Judge Jackson, and his angry presentation and inappropriate questions got to be too much for me. He spent much of his time whining about the treatment of conservative candidates for SCOTUS :and other courts. One example of his questions when he finally got to them.
At CNN, Clare Foran wrote about today’s hearing as of about 11AM: Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces intense questioning on second day of confirmation hearings.
Democrats have so far used the hearings to praise Brown — who would be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice — as an exceptionally qualified, trail-blazing nominee whose depth and breadth of experience, including as a federal public defender, would add a valuable and unique perspective to the bench.
In contrast, Republicans have attempted to portray her as weak on crime by zeroing in on some of her past defense work as well as by broadly attempting to connect her to criminal justice policies they argue have fueled a rise in crime. Republicans have raised questions over what constitutes Jackson’s judicial philosophy as they warn against activism, and prescribing policy outcomes, from the bench. And they have also criticized support for the nomination from left-wing groups….
On Tuesday, senators may ask questions of the nominee for 30 minutes each, according to the schedule outlined by the committee. There are 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the panel and the questioning is likely to stretch late into the evening.
So we’ll all have plenty of time to watch how Jackson handles the Republican Senators. So far they haven’t laid a glove on her.
Jackson said on Tuesday that she approaches her work in such a way so as to ensure impartiality and does not impose personal opinions or policy preferences, an assertion that comes as Republican senators have expressed concerns over judicial activism.
“I have developed a methodology that I use in order to ensure that I am ruling impartially and that I am adhering to the limits on my judicial authority,” Jackson said.
“When I get a case, I ensure that I am proceeding from a position of neutrality,” she said.
“I am not importing my personal views or policy preferences,” she added….
As the Senate vets the nomination, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has raised concerns about Jackson’s record on sentencing in child pornography cases.
Jackson forcefully rebutted the accusations on Tuesday and referred to the issue as a “sickening and egregious crime.”
“As a mother, and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” the nominee said when asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, to react to the charges.
Read the rest at CNN. It’s a good summary.
The Trump/MAGA hangover
Tim Dickenson at Rolling Stone: Amid War Crimes in Ukraine, American Right Wingers Are Applauding Russia.
Vladimir Putin is ramping up his brutal assault on Ukraine, shelling civilians from Odessa to Kharkiv, and leveling the port city of Mariupol — leading President Joe Biden to denounce the Russian dictator as a “war criminal.” But if the initial days of the war were marked by some conservatives muting their admiration for the Russian state, a spate of notorious right-wing figures are now dropping the mask to defend Putin, and even claim his fight as their own.
Over the weekend, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, MAGA media maven Cassandra MacDonald (née Fairbanks), and former Staind rocker Aaron Lewis all spoke out to praise Putin, denounce Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky — or both….
In an interview aired on the far-right network Real America’s Voice, former Trump adviser Roger Stone defended Putin’s horrific war against Ukraine. “Putin is acting defensively,” Stone insisted against all evidence. “He’s not acting offensively. But you won’t read that in the mainstream media.” Stone rattled off a winning BINGO card’s worth of Kremlin-friendly talking points and conspiracies. He denounced Zelensky as undemocratic for having “shut down three television stations that were critical of the government.” (That decision rightfully inspires debate, but context here is also important. Stone failed to mention that those stations had broadcast Russian propaganda, and were run by mogul Viktor Medvedchuk, who is so tight with the Kremlin that Putin is literally his daughter’s godfather. Mevedchuk was hit with U.S. sanctions in 2014, described as Putin’s “long-time proxy and close personal friend.”) Stone then rehearsed the MAGA canard that concern over Ukrainian borders is misplaced as long as America’s are overrun by “millions of illegals … bringing disease.”
Stone kept twisting and twisting the facts until he snapped into Putin’s paranoid worldview — that Ukraine is a dangerous aggressor that must be stopped: “Ukraine is not even remotely [about] what they’re telling us it’s about,” Stone claimed. “The Ukrainians have used their soil to place dual-launch missile pads, missiles that will be aimed at the Soviet Union [sic].” Stone closed out his pro-Putin rant by citing the latest right-wing conspiracy theory about U.S.-funded biolabs. “There are in fact biolabs that are funded by our tax dollars, cooking up who knows what pestilence to dump on the Russian people,” Stone claimed.
Read about the other MAGA Putin fans at the RS link.
Read about the other MAGA Putin fans at the RS link.
Martin Pengelly at The Guardian: Kid Rock says Donald Trump sought his advice on North Korea and Islamic State.
The rapper Kid Rock said Donald Trump once asked him for advice about US policy on Islamic State and North Korea.
In an interview with the Fox News host Tucker Carlson broadcast on Monday night, the musician also discussed “cancel culture” – claiming to be “uncancelable” – and the coronavirus pandemic….
In a friendly interview timed for the release of a new album – Kid Rock wearing a “We the People” cap, Carlson in V-neck sweater and khakis – the subject turned to the musician’s friendship with Trump.
In a famous picture from 2017, the rapper was shown in the Oval Office, behind the Resolute Desk, with Trump, the rock musician Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential nominee. Palin said she invited the rightwing rockers “because Jesus was booked”.
“I was there with [Trump] one day when he ended the caliphate,” Kid Rock, 51 and born Robert Ritchie, told Carlson in reference to US efforts against the Islamic State.
“He wanted to put out a tweet … I don’t like to speak out of school. I hope I’m not. But … the tweet was, and I’m paraphrasing, but it’s like, you know, ‘If you ever joined the caliphate, you know, trying to do this, you’re going to be dead.’
“He goes, ‘What do you think?’ [I said] ‘Awesome. I can’t add any better.’ But then it comes out and it’s … reworded and more political, to look politically correct. And just, ‘be afraid’.”
He also said he and Trump were once “looking at maps. I’m like, you know, like, ‘Am I supposed to be in on this shit?’ Like I make dirty records sometimes. I do.
“‘What do you think we should do about North Korea?’ I’m like, ‘What? I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this.’” [….]
Some online critics wondered whether Trump really asked Kid Rock what to do about North Korea.
But after Kid Rock’s White House visit with Nugent and Palin in 2017, Nugent told the New York Times the group discussed “‘health, fitness, food, rock’n’roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, Russia and a half-dozen other issues”.
All I can say to that is that I’m very glad that Joe Biden is president right now.
So . . . what are you focusing on today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.