In recent months many of us have gotten used to the Russia-Ukraine war as mostly a stalemate, with small gains in each direction often canceling each other out but no dramatic changes. That seems to be changing and perhaps rapidly. You’ve likely seen some reports of the Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv region. As near as I can tell (which isn’t that great) this started as what was partly a tactical feint toward the south which allowed the Ukrainians to catch the Russians off guard further north. The gains over the last 72 hours have been dramatic.
This illustration gives some sense of it.
From what I can tell this is unfolding as a relatively traditional mechanized and armored advance that once it breaks through key points can build momentum and move very rapidly. At least in this localized area it seems to have escalated to something like a rout or at best a hasty if not disorganized retreat by Russian forces.
What remains unclear to me is enough about the terrain or forces in the area to know whether the Russians can keep this advance relatively localized or whether this can continue into the rest of occupied portions of eastern Ukraine and fundamentally change the course of the war. Just no idea. Rapid mechanized advances like this can sometimes drive all before them. They also sometimes just run out of steam.
In any case, I would recommend to you again two Twitter lists I’ve curated with experts from whom we can learn more. This one is about the Ukraine war generally and this focuses more narrowly on the military dimensions of the conflict.
In a new joint filing, Trump lawyers and the DOJ outline points of agreement and disagreement about how a Special Master review should work. One of the disagreements is who should pay the Special Master and whatever expenses are incurred in said special mastering. Trump says the US government should pick up half the tab. The DOJ says that Trump, as the guy who wants the Special Master, should pick up the whole tab.
Yesterday, when Michigan’s Supreme Court confirmed there would be an abortion rights measure on the state ballot in November, I was jarred to see how many people were not aware Senate Democrats have an opportunity – so far ignored – to accomplish basically the same thing on a national level. So far it’s the greatest missed opportunity of the election cycle. The reason is nothing substantive but rather a mix of misplaced caucus collegiality and electoral myopia.Read More
The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled 5-2 that the proposed abortion rights measure will appear on the state’s ballot in November. This is good news for all Democratic candidates in the state, since it will literally put robust abortion rights protections on the ballot in the state. That will almost certainly mean robust protections in the state going forward. It will likely also bring marginal Democratic candidates to victory with the tide of voters who turn out to vote for the amendment.
But it’s a very important development in a more general way.Read More
One of the minor questions with today’s news was whether Charles would become King Charles III. It seems obvious. But in the past it was frequently the case that a monarch would choose a regnal name which was not the one they were known by familiarly before taking the throne. But Liz Truss, who just became Prime Minister two days ago, just made a statement in which she referred to Charles as King Charles III. So that settles it. Seems like a rather dramatic hogging of the mic. But who knows? Not my country, not my circus. But that settles it. Charles III.
In this week’s podcast, Kate Riga and I talked about the on-going talent purge at CNN. We’ve discussed this before. CNN is under new Republican management and the top shareholder has announced his intention to make the network less “liberal” and more “centrist.” There are both ideological and business drivers, which I discussed last week. But I want to dig into the mechanics, which seem to be getting short shrift in the media discussion. Two rungs down the ladder from the top corporate boss is CNN boss Chris Licht. The game plan may come from on high (i.e., Trump donor billionaire John Malone) but Licht is the implementer. So far Brian Stelter and John Harwood have been axed and the rumor mill is now fixated on Brianna Keilar, a CNN host deemed “too liberal” or too critical of Trump for the new “centrist” CNN.Read More
The words contained in the reports themselves are vague. But they suggest that Queen Elizabeth II, 96, may be on her death bed. Her health has been in decline since the death of her husband a year ago. Reports this morning say her doctors are “concerned for Her Majesty’s health” and recommend she “remain under medical supervision.” Meanwhile, her four children and her elder grandson are rushing to be at her side at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Again, the official comments are vague. The atmospherics and actions seem clear.