Mostly Monday Reads

Cossack Mamay is tempted to drink by the Polish-looking Satan, Ukrainian folk art,

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There’s actually a lot of good news today!  Above all,  there is excellent news from the Ukrainian front that Russia is being driven back.  There are even calls now for Putin to step down! I’ll get to that in a moment, but I couldn’t resist putting this headline from The Times of London first. I love the “snub for Trump” in the lede.  So much for Trump’s lie about a secret knighthood.  They weren’t expecting President Biden, so now there’s a scramble to prepare for his visit..

I’m going to post Ukrainian art today from the various museums.  We know that the Russians targeted all types of cultural locations and that many folk art items were lost in the bombings.  It will likely be a while before we discover which great works remain.

Meanwhile,

Слава Україні!  (Romanized: Sláva Ukrayíni!)

ILYA KABAKOV, THE FLYING KOMAROV.1994

 

I hope this is embarrassing for Trump, who was the ultimate clod during his visit with the late Queen Elizabeth.

Westminster Abbey is expected to be so full that only one representative from each country can attend, although they can be joined by a partner.

Questions have been asked in the US over whether Donald Trump will be invited but British sources have scotched the idea that he could accompany the US delegation and said there would not be space for Biden’s predecessors. Dwight Eisenhower, then the former president, attended Churchill’s funeral a private capacity.

A reception for overseas leaders will take place at Buckingham Place on the eve of the service, but no meetings will be allowed because of the strain on security teams, according to the Foreign Office

One more thing about Trump, and I’ll celebrate the victories of Ukraine.  This is from CNN, which I’m probably going to quit quoting because the news channel is becoming an unreliable source soon due to changes in Top Management.  “Exclusive: ‘I’m just not going to leave’: New book reveals Trump vowed to stay in White House.”   This is about Maggie Haberman’s new tell-all, as reported by Jeremy Herb.

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly told aides in the days following his 2020 election loss that he would remain in the White House rather than let incoming President Joe Biden take over, according to reporting provided to CNN from a forthcoming book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

“I’m just not going to leave,” Trump told one aide, according to Haberman.

“We’re never leaving,” Trump told another. “How can you leave when you won an election?”

Trump’s insistence that he would not be leaving the White House, which has not been previously reported, adds new detail to the chaotic post-election period in which Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat and numerous efforts to overturn the election result led to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

Ilya Kabakov, “10 characters”, album no. 6 “The Flying Mosquito” (1994)

The man is so narcissistic he’s delusional.  Let’s switch topics now!

Today’s New York Times has this headline: “Russia’s Retreat in Ukraine Pokes Holes in Putin’s Projection of Force. Russia’s military setbacks may be weakening President Vladimir V. Putin’s reputation at home as a savvy geopolitical strategist.”  Ah, tales of yet another delusional narcissist.

Ukraine’s rout of Russian forces this weekend is creating a new kind of political challenge for President Vladimir V. Putin: It undercuts the image of competence and might that he has worked for two decades to build.

On Sunday, the Russian military continued to retreat from positions in northeastern Ukraine that it had occupied for months. State television news reports referred to the retreat as a carefully planned “regrouping operation,” praising the heroism and professionalism of Russian troops.

But the upbeat message did little to dampen the anger among supporters of the war over the retreat and the Kremlin’s handling of it. And it hardly obscured the bind that Mr. Putin now finds himself in, presiding over a six-month war against an increasingly energized enemy and a Russian populace that does not appear to be prepared for the sacrifices that could come with an escalating conflict.

“Strength is the only source of Putin’s legitimacy,” Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Mr. Putin who is now a political consultant living in Israel, said in a phone interview. “And in a situation in which it turns out that he has no strength, his legitimacy will start dropping toward zero.”

Putin is now facing internal dissent.  This is something that would be unimaginable before the Invasion of Ukraine.  From The Hill link above: “Russian municipal deputies call for Putin’s resignation.” 

More than 30 Russian municipal deputies have signed a petition calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resignation.

The petition, posted by Xenia Torstrem, a deputy in St. Petersburg’s Semyonovsky District, was originally signed by 19 officials.

“We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of President Vladimir Putin harm the future of Russia and its citizens,” a translation of the petition reads. “We demand the resignation of Vladimir Putin from the post of President of the Russian Federation!”

The petition comes as the Ukrainian military pursues a counteroffensive, quickly reclaiming territory and pushing Russian troops back to the northeastern border in some places.

The push’s initial gains have provoked some criticisms of Putin inside the country, a rare rebuke of Russia’s longtime leader who over the years has sought to stifle opposition.

This reporting from The Washington Post is breathtaking.

In the end, the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals. Hours after Ukrainian soldiers poured into the area, hundreds of Russian soldiers encamped in this village were gone, many after their units abandoned them, leaving behind stunned residents to face the ruins of 28 weeks of occupation.

“They just dropped rifles on the ground,” Olena Matvienko said Sunday as she stood, still disoriented, in a village littered with ammo crates and torched vehicles, including a Russian tank loaded on a flatbed. The first investigators from Kharkiv had just pulled in to collect the bodies of civilians shot by Russians, some that have been lying exposed for months.

“I can’t believe that we went through something like this in the 21st century,” Matvienko said, tears welling.

The Threat of War (1986).” Art by Maria Prymachenko, This painting was destroyed in a Russian bombing.

While the Ukrainians struggle to hold on to their democracy, we appear to have about 1/3 of the population that are “democracy deniers.”  This is according to a poll by Axios.  The results are stomach-churning.   Axios refers to this poll as the Two Americas Index.

About one in three Americans prefers strong unelected leaders to weak elected leaders and says presidents should be able to remove judges over their decisions, according to the latest findings from our Axios-Ipsos Two Americas Index.

Why it matters: The findings from this poll shatter the myth that Americans overwhelmingly agree on a common set of democratic values around checks and balances on elected leaders, protection of minority rights and freedom of speech.

  • They’re also a reality check against President Biden’s speech that portrayed threats to democracy as solely driven by Republican supporters of former President Trump who refuse to accept that he lost the 2020 election.

What we’re watching: In this poll, significant minorities of Republicans and Democrats supported non-democratic norms in about equal percentages — and Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say presidents should be able to remove judges when their decisions go against the national interest.

  • Many Americans also believe the government should follow the will of the majority even at the expense of ethnic and religious minority groups’ civil rights.
  • And roughly a third said the federal government should be able to prosecute members of the news media who make offensive or unpatriotic statements.
  • Respondents younger than 35 or with household incomes below $75,000 a year were more likely to favor strong unelected leaders and to support prosecuting the media or empowering presidents to remove judges.

The big picture: If you’re looking for good news in this poll, it is primarily that the people who embrace the anti-democratic views are still in the minority.

  • But the findings are a reminder that for all of the attention and congressional hearings around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, anti-democratic views take many forms.

What they’re saying: “There’s a lot of anti-democratic sentiment, a lot more than we might have expected,” said Justin Gest, an associate professor at George Mason University who studies the politics of demographic change and advises the project.

  • The survey’s questions pose “hard tests” for society, Gest said — tradeoffs between “what’s expedient and best for the individual, and what actually sustains the integrity of our political institutions.”

  • Values like minority rights, separation of church and state and freedom of the press are “key foundations” of democracy but “they’re far from being fully supported by Americans,” Gest said. “These are things you’d think would be universal.”

You may read more analysis at the link.

One last bit of Trump weirdness.  Yesterday, Trump was seen deplaning from a private plane in Washington, D.C.”  The guessing game as to why he was there is on.

Conspiracy Update?

 

 

Have a great week! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?