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What Was the ‘Soviet Century’?
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ANDRÉ FORGET: What Was the ‘Soviet Century’?
IN SEPTEMBER 2019, SHORTLY AFTER arriving in Russia, I found myself tramping through the woods outside a small village on the edge of the Mari Taiga. My wife and I were visiting a friend at his country house, and he had offered to take us to a deposit of green clay nearby that was supposedly good for exfoliation. My wife is keen on exfoliation, and keen on nature in general, so we set off on a path that took us around the village’s small but very deep lake. When we came to the place where it drained into a river, we found a large concrete pillar rising from the slough. I asked our friend what it was. He told me, rather drily, that it was “Soviethenge.”
I would see quite a few examples of Soviethenge during the course of the following year, most of which I spent living in the Mari capital of Yoshkar-Ola and travelling through the republics of the Middle Volga. There were the obvious things—Lenin busts in old toolsheds, abandoned factories with red-star gates rotting quietly in the fields, palaces of culture named after people and dates that had lost all meaning—but the USSR also lived on in the fabric of the cities, the dams on the Volga, the fact that when you turned on the boiler there was gas, and when you flipped a switch a light went on. In that part of the country, modernity had arrived with the Bolsheviks.
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DANIEL PENNY, A 24-YEAR-OLD MARINE VETERAN, was charged last week with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal choking of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old homeless man, during a confrontation on the New York subway on May 1. The case has split commentators and public opinion into camps that roughly align with the left and right—and the explosive rhetoric on both sides has obscured the facts of the case and overwhelmed our ability to reason about them calmly.
Without bothering to wait for the law to take its course, a number of Republican politicians have spoken out about the case. Donald Trump said that he believes Penny and his fellow passengers were in “great danger.” Other GOP presidential hopefuls have also rushed to praise Penny for protecting fellow passengers from a mentally disturbed violent criminal. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hailed Penny as a “Good Samaritan” and promoted a link to a crowdfunding site that has so far raised $2.6 million for Penny’s legal defense. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, has called for Penny to be preemptively pardoned. Still other Republicans have called Penny a “hero.”
Happy Friday! I was so eager to hear how our NYC event went and some of you beat my Bulwark colleagues in sending me DMs and emails asking: where is the next one going to be? It hasn’t been finalized yet, but we’ll let you know the second you can book tickets right here in Overtime.
Was it rainbow fentanyl? A Rhode Island councilman was arrested after he was found passed out in his car with a crack pipe on his lap. Turns out the guy is a real piece of work.
NBC’s Ben Collins explains linear time… To Fox’s former Man on the Street Jesse Watters.
The Fault Lines… of George Kennan.
Anti-facist… And armed to the teeth. Jack Crosbie writes: “The far right brings guns to drag shows. Now, the left is showing up with weapons, too”
The short life of Baby Milo… His unusual medical complications “tested the interpretation of Florida’s new abortion law.”
A former police chief… Was charged for being part of the insurrection. He’s representing himself in court. And it’s going about as well as you’d expect. Only waaaaay crazier.
Is Washington prepared for another Trump term? At Politico, Michael Schaffer argues it’s not. All of these fixes to Trump proof the presidency: “Rather than a dramatic betrayal or shocking failure, it’s actually a familiar Washington tale of shifting priorities, wandering attention span, legislative obstruction and relentless partisanship.”
Denial: Illustrated… Our friend Matt Labash argues that Martha Stewart doesn’t need to pretend to be a 25 year old swimsuit model.
The Jeff Roe advantage… The political strategist tells investors he gets 63% of every campaign dollar spent by clients. Nice money if you can get it.
Meanwhile, in Cleveland… 11 men stole 86 cars worth $5 million in five months.
U.S. joins F-16 training effort… Biden has greenlit U.S. participation in training of Ukrainian pilots.
What’s the future of Sec. 702? Now that the FBI has admitted it abused it? A FISA judge observes: “…it may become necessary to consider other responses, such as substantially limiting the number of FBI personnel with access to unminimized Section 702 information.” The Brennan Center’s Elizabeth Goitein has this useful thread.
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