Tuesday, July 04, 2023

4: Biden

Anthony Fauci on Larry Kramer and Loving Difficult People Larry was the initial driving force that changed forever the relationship between the advocacy community and the scientific and regulatory establishment. .......... the tactics that he had mastered to an art form: confrontation, outrageous behavior, anger and insults followed by insight, rationality, sensitivity, vulnerability, empathy and even humor. ........ it was pure passion related to his concern for the plight of what he called “my people,” the gay community, which drove him to outrageous behavior in order to gain the attention of the government and the general public concerning the disaster of the AIDS epidemic. ........ despite his sometimes provocative behavior, he was as noble as the most respected scientist and public servant .......... He felt strongly that I should chain myself to the White House fence and, as he put it, embarrass President George H.W. Bush into speaking out more on AIDS and providing more funding for AIDS research. I explained to him that this would be 15 minutes of attention and I would immediately lose all access to the White House. No matter. He still felt I should do it. ........... During a dinner that he threw for just the two of us in his Greenwich Village apartment, we reminisced like two aging warriors who recalled the battles that we fought together, how despite our initial adversarial relationship, we ultimately became partners in an important struggle and how differences of opinion and even a history of antagonism are entirely compatible with friendship and even love. .

Putin’s Options for Dealing With Wagner Aren’t Great For years, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s sprawling private army has quietly acted as a proxy for Russian foreign policy. The Wagner force’s network of thousands of Russian mercenaries installed in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have helped the Kremlin secure natural resources and project influence in failed states and conflict zones, while allowing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to conveniently distance himself from the group’s unsavory alliances and ruthless tactics. ........... In Syria and Libya, Wagner fighters prop up strongmen like Bashar al-Assad and Khalifa Haftar in exchange for profits accrued from the oil and gas installations the mercenaries help protect. In Madagascar and Sudan, Wagner has advised governments on stamping out protests, started disinformation campaigns and meddled in elections. In Mali and the Central African Republic, military juntas rely on Wagner for regime security, while Wagner extracts gold, diamonds and timber, and wages counterinsurgency campaigns against jihadist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. ........... Days after the doomed uprising, Mr. Putin proclaimed that Wagner was entirely funded by the Russian state, to the tune of billions of dollars. ........... Wagner forces already have a well-deserved reputation for brutality, are alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in several theaters and have been credibly accused of torture, kidnapping and executing civilians. .......... Wagner’s African footprint is vast, with ongoing activities in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. .......... Patriot, a group linked to Mr. Shoigu, is widely viewed as a significant competitor to Wagner, with reported operations in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Syria and Yemen. ........... The E.N.O.T. Corporation is another Russian private military company, founded by Russian nationalist Igor Mangushev, with some experience abroad, but is much less influential and experienced than Wagner. Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has also developed its own private army, although it is designed mainly to protect oil and gas infrastructure against attacks............. For a leader who has worked assiduously to cultivate an image as master strategist, Mr. Putin does not appear to have a plan for what comes next with Wagner. Instead, he looks increasingly vulnerable, both at home and in his effort to maintain Russia’s influence abroad. He will almost certainly struggle to rein in the beast he helped create. .

Jersey Boy Takes On Florida Man After years of watching Republicans cower before Trump, it’s bracing to see the disgraced former president finally meet his mean match............ I warned that Trump is an asymmetrical fighter, so it’s hard to know how to go at him. Clinton tried to rise above him, and Marco Rubio imitated his crude style. ........... He knows I know what his game is. .......... Trump came to debate prep in September 2020 without telling Christie or anyone else that he had tested positive the day before, and Christie ended up in the I.C.U. for seven days. ........... Christie mocked Ron DeSantis responding to Jan. 6 by saying he was not in Washington — “Was he alive?” Christie asked Kaitlan Collins on CNN. ........... Trump is playing checkers, not chess, Christie said, just scrambling to make that next jump. ......... He told me one time the reason he ties his ties so long is that it slenderizes him and I should do the same thing.” .

Biden Is Taking Aim at Trump’s Biggest Strength . The wildness of Donald Trump’s political style often obscures — at least to his critics — the more banal dimensions of his appeal. ....... the order of the day was incoherence. Infrastructure weeks came and went. Tax cuts were tilted toward the rich. There was no strategy to restore America’s manufacturing prowess or rebuild bargaining power for workers without college degrees. ......... Only about a third of voters approve of the job Biden has done on the economy. Polls show Trump is the more trusted economic manager, by far. ........ “Bidenomics.” Biden’s case is this: What Trump only promised, I delivered. ........... The Biden administration is thickly populated with veterans of the Obama and Clinton White Houses. But it doesn’t see itself in comfortable continuity with those legacies. It sees itself, in key ways, as a break with them. .......... Sullivan slammed the belief that “the type of growth did not matter.” That had led, he said, to administrations that let Wall Street thrive while “essential sectors, like semiconductors and infrastructure, atrophied.” He dismissed the “assumption at the heart of all of this policy: that markets always allocate capital productively and efficiently.” ......... In letting globalization and automation hollow out domestic manufacturing, Democrats had been part of a Washington consensus that “had frayed the socioeconomic foundations on which any strong and resilient democracy rests.” .......... “I believe every American willing to work hard should be able to say where they grew up and stay where they grew up,” he said. “That’s Bidenomics.” ......... Biden’s red states will get $623 billion in clean energy investments by 2030, compared with $354 billion for blue states. ....... After comparing the infrastructure weeks Trump never delivered and “the infrastructure decade” he did, Biden noted: “Construction of manufacturing facilities here on U.S. soil grew only 2 percent on my predecessor’s watch in four years. Two percent. On my watch, it’s grown nearly 100 percent in two years.” ......... About two-thirds of the work force isn’t college-educated. And there’s no version of Bidenomics that leaves two-thirds of the labor force out.” ........... The Black-white employment gap has nearly closed, and wage gains have been particularly strong for workers without a college education. ........ Inflation is down by more than half since its peak. Forecasters who were confidently predicting a recession in 2023 are now hedging. .

Biden Versus the Bad News Bros no longer a fringe phenomenon: Bizarre conspiracy theories are now mainstream on the American right. .......... the old inflation truthers and the new recession truthers. ....... The new group is dominated by tech bros, billionaires who imagine themselves focused on the future rather than the golden past, more likely to be crypto cultists than gold bugs. .......... Indeed, the most prominent recession truther right now is none other than Elon Musk ............ You might have expected technology billionaires to be well-informed about the world — someone like Musk could, if he chose, easily maintain a large research department for his personal edification. ........... So why do we see tech bros indulging in conspiracy theories, often citing random Twitter accounts to justify their views? ......... The answer, I believe, is that technology billionaires are especially susceptible to the belief that they’re uniquely brilliant, able to instantly master any subject, from Covid to the war in Ukraine. They could afford to hire experts to brief them on world affairs, but that would only work if they were willing to listen when the experts told them things they didn’t want to hear. So what happens instead, all too often, is that they go down the rabbit hole: Their belief in their own genius makes them highly gullible, easy marks for grifters claiming that the experts are all wrong. ............ What you need to know, then, is that the economic data isn’t fake. A recession might eventually happen, but it isn’t happening now. And the wealthy men claiming to know better are actually less well-informed than, say, the average reader of The New York Times — because they don’t know what they don’t know, and nobody is in a position to enlighten them. .

Putin Thinks He’s Still in Control. He’s Not. That was rather strange, because the festival was on Saturday, June 24 — the day Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group, launched his mutiny. Despite the shock of the rebellion, which saw Wagner forces march to within 125 miles of Moscow unimpeded, Mr. Putin flew to St. Petersburg. Nothing, not even armed revolt, would deter him from his favorite party. .......... In the opinion of my sources close to Mr. Putin’s inner circle — officials, administrators, journalists, businessmen and more — this is the clearest evidence yet that the president is divorced from reality. He still believes that he has everything under control and that Mr. Prigozhin’s rebellion has not changed the political situation in any way. But he is mistaken. Not only is the atmosphere around Mr. Putin fundamentally different, but there is also a growing appetite for change — even among those close to the president. For many I spoke to, Mr. Putin’s system of rule simply can’t go on much longer. ............. Prigozhin was clearly elevated to act as a counterweight to the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the military generals, ensuring they didn’t become too popular. So when Mr. Prigozhin started criticizing the military leadership — often in explicit, expletive-ridden diatribes — the president did nothing to stop it. ............ But it soon became a problem. Mr. Prigozhin, riding a wave of popularity, became increasingly personal and insulting in his denunciations of Mr. Shoigu. Yet Mr. Putin failed to mediate. Though he arranged a meeting between the two men in February, he did not, according to a source in the presidential administration, say anything specific in the conversation, hoping the gathering itself was a sufficient warning to stop the public attacks. Mr. Prigozhin did not take the hint, however, and continued to fulminate against the military commanders. ........... In the weeks after the meeting, Mr. Prigozhin traveled the country as if he were a politician running an election campaign, meeting with potential supporters and criticizing the war effort. In this again he was unhindered by the Kremlin, which knew of his plans but chose to do nothing about them. As Mr. Prigozhin grew in popularity, even pulling in a former deputy defense minister as a deputy commander for Wagner — a clear sign he had high-ranking admirers among the security forces — Mr. Putin kept to himself. Sources close to him tell me he hasn’t met with Mr. Prigozhin for months. ........... In early June, when Mr. Shoigu sought to clamp down on private militias like Wagner by making all mercenaries sign a contract with the army, Mr. Prigozhin couldn’t get in touch with the president to object. In the language of Russian bureaucracy, this signals the highest degree of disfavor. ............... the Wagner chief is in Belarus. Exile in the Central African Republic, where the Wagner group has a military base, is reportedly in the cards. ............ A purge is to be expected, starting with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a former commander of Russian forces in Ukraine who is said to have known of the mutiny in advance. ............ The rebellion has desacralized Mr. Putin, substantially weakening his authority. Before this weekend, much of Russian society, and especially state bureaucrats, believed that he always made the right decisions, that he was much more cunning, wiser and better informed than anyone else. But the events of the weekend have shown Mr. Putin in the worst possible light: weak, vacillating, incapable of exerting control. He alone is to blame for what happened, something that is obvious to everyone except him. ........... For many members of the ruling elite, it is now clear that Mr. Putin has ceased to be the guarantor of stability he was for so long. .

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