Abbreviated pundit roundup: Democracy and abortion rights on the ballot


Here’s how 2 local reporters in battleground states are tackling the midterms

‘I want to call things lies when they’re lies.’

Over the course of his career, [Greg] Bluestein has seen Georgia politics transform into a national story. He was on the ground two years ago when much of the country zeroed in on the state in the days after the presidential election, and then covered the leadup to the two Senate runoffs that sent Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to Congress. Warnock is now back in the news as he faces off against Herschel Walker, a candidate who Bluestein noted has a very good chance of winning in November, but who also has a history of lying.

Asked about his approach to combating misinformation, Bluestein said he doesn’t want to repeat falsehoods.

“I want to call things lies when they’re lies,” he said.


Martyn McLaughlin/The Scotsman:

Analysis: US lawsuit puts Donald Trump’s Scottish resorts under scrutiny

For years now, searching questions have been asked of how Donald Trump arrived at the valuations of his two golf resorts in Scotland.

In 2018, when Trump was in office, The Scotsman reported how he told the US Office of Government Ethics that Turnberry, his flagship international property, together with his Aberdeenshire business, had generated £17m a year. In actual fact, the UK accounts showed their collective turnover was just £11.6m, with combined losses of £19m.

Back then, ethics observers described Trump’s disclosures as “error-ridden, deliberately obfuscatory, and incomplete.” Now, one of the most powerful legal figures in the US has gone further.

The very foundation of Trump’s purported wealth, according to Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, is “rooted in incredible fraud and illegality.”


NY Times:

Can Ukraine Break Through Again?

A surprise advance this month exposed deep vulnerabilities in Russia’s overstretched military. As Russia calls for more troops, can Ukraine keep gaining ground?

Ukraine’s continued progress is by no means assured.

There is no indication of a mass Russian withdrawal, and Russian forces have continued to assault Ukrainian positions and pound Ukrainian towns and villages. In areas where Ukraine has had the advantage, the Russian military may find a way to dig in, hold the front and wait for winter, when the ground freezes and advances are harder. After a period of faster maneuvering, the fighting could slow down and revert to a war of attrition, with Russia’s willingness to destroy populated areas with artillery pushing Ukraine back.

But the recent Ukrainian gains have reshaped the politics of the war as well as the battlefield. It now seems less likely that Western countries would withdraw military support for Ukraine, which has proven essential. Meanwhile, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is facing unusual criticism at home over the military’s recent losses — and concerns from Xi Jinping, the leader of China, which is Russia’s most powerful partner.



Foreign Policy:

Vladimir Putin Often Backs Down

The idea that Russia’s leader always fights to the finish is a myth.

One stark example of this came in November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter jet near the Turkey-Syria border. At the time, there were widespread fears that this could escalate into a direct conflict between Russia and a NATO member. Instead, Putin’s response was mild. Moscow imposed insignificant trade sanctions on Turkish imports and suspended Russian package tours to Turkey. And even those small measures were lifted several months later after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent an apology to the Kremlin. Several recent clashes between Russia and Turkey also took place in Libya, where Erdogan and Putin backed opposing sides in a protracted civil war. For example, Turkish forces attacked the strategic military base of al-Watiya in 2020, where mercenaries of the Russian Wagner Group were based, forcing them to flee and leave their equipment and weapons behind. One Russian mercenary was allegedly captured. Losing al-Watiya was a key step in the Libyan National Army (LNA)/Wagner retreat. It meant that taking Tripoli by force was no longer feasible, at least as long as the Turks were present. As result of that defeat, the Wagner Group retreated to the positions it held before the Tripoli campaign. The LNA has not made another attempt to advance on Tripoli since.


David Frum/Atlantic:

Ron DeSantis Can’t Troll His Way Into the White House

The Florida governor’s cruel stunt will collide with the serious real-world problem of immigration.

To restore order at the border, two things must happen first: The rules at the border need to change, and more Americans need to return to work.

You’d think that politicians seeking votes on the immigration issue would offer ideas to meet those two necessities. But that’s not happening.

Instead, the leading critics of the Biden administration have launched harsh and deceptive stunts. They have duped asylum seekers onto buses and planes, promising to take them to jobs—but instead dumping them on the sidewalk across the road from the vice president’s residence or stranding them on the vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Much has been said about the cruelty of these stunts. The Martha’s Vineyard operation was especially nasty, because it was designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for the asylum seekers to meet their first court dates.

But something else is going on too, something even stranger and darker.

As Matthew Gertz of Media Matters has pointed out, DeSantis evidently got the idea for his Martha’s Vineyard airlift from a July 26 Tucker Carlson monologue (obviously, readers shouldn’t rely on his numbers)::

Joe Biden took 70 percent of the vote on that small Massachusetts island. Over the past four years, according to FEC data, 92 percent of all donations from its biggest town, Edgartown, went to the Democratic Party. So you probably imagine Edgartown is pretty diverse; I mean, the Obamas live on the island, right? No. In fact, we checked. At last count Edgartown is 95.7 percent white. What century is this? As of 2019, only 3 percent of all people, all residents of Edgartown, were born outside of this country. So do the math: That’s 17 people, total. That’s effectively zero diversity, which means zero strength. They are begging for more diversity. Why not send migrants there? In huge numbers. Let’s start with 300,000 and move up from there. As the island gets stronger, more.:

Embedded in this text that inserted a concept into the brain of the governor of Florida is a theory about how and why immigration happens. It’s not responding to incentives, signals, and rules—not even perverse incentives, signals, and rules. It’s a plot. It’s a plot inflicted punitively on Real America by cosmopolitan elites. The right response to this plot, the theory continues, is not to address incentives, signals, and rules. The right response is to retaliate against the cosmopolitan elites, who are to blame for immigration, by imposing punitive diversity upon them too.

This way of thinking is conspiratorial, paranoid, and vengeful.

It’s also wrong and stupid.


So then this happened (Politico) after the AP story came out: House GOP cuts loose candidate who misled about military service.


These male politicians are pushing for women who receive abortions to be punished with prison time

A businessman turned state representative from rural Oil City, Louisiana, and a Baptist pastor banded together earlier this year on a radical mission.

They were adamant that a woman who receives an abortion should receive the same criminal consequences as one who drowns her baby.

Under a bill they promoted, pregnant people could face murder charges even if they were raped or doctors determined the procedure was needed to save their own life. Doctors who attempted to help patients conceive through in-vitro fertilization, a fertility treatment used by millions of Americans, could also be locked up for destroying embryos, and certain contraception such as Plan B would be banned.

“The taking of a life is murder, and it is illegal,” state Rep. Danny McCormick told a committee of state lawmakers who considered the bill in May, right after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked.

“No compromises, no more waiting,” Brian Gunter, the pastor who suggested McCormick be the one to introduce the legislation, told the committee.


NY Times:

Representative Mary Peltola, a Democrat who defeated the Republican Sarah Palin in a special House election and became the first Alaska Native in Congress, is on track to do it again in November. A new poll by the Anchorage-based pollster Dittman Research puts Peltola at 50 percent, Palin at 27 percent and the Republican Nick Begich III at 20 percent in the first round of ranked-choice voting.

Pro-fish candidate leads!


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