February 2023

28 February:

Today is election day in Chicago.

The Fox / Dominion brouhaha rolls on, after revelations about evidence given by the big boss…

Meanwhile, some of the leading potential GOP presidential candidates are set to skip the latest CPAC gathering in Maryland this week. Some observers suggest that the sexual misconduct allegation against CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp has been a factor.

Government agencies are instructing employees to remove TikTok from their official devices by the end of March.


27 February:

Plenty of interest, if not a lot of actual clarity, surrounding the WSJ story over the weekend on the supposed origin of the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, western concern grows over China’s involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Former Vice-President Mike Pence says he will decide “by the spring” on a Presidential run, while Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is preparing for the release of a book this week – usually a precursor to a bid for national office. He appeared to have picked up one endorsement over the weekend.

The RNC, meanwhile, attempted to pressure potential candidates to pledge support for whomever is the party’s eventual nominee. But didn’t they try that one time before?

Pressure continues to grow on Fox News and some of its high-profile “talent” over the Dominion Voting Machines lawsuit, which Fox media commentator Howard Kurtz says he is prevented from commenting on.

The death toll in Turkey and Syria earthquakes passed 50,000. Weeks removed from the event, the danger is that the story becomes only a number…


25 February:

Los Angeles was hit by some highly unusual extreme weather as the city experienced heavy rainfall and its first blizzard warning since 1989.

There was a legal blow for PA Rep Scott Perry, one of the GOP lawmakers who sought to overturn the 2020 election, after a judge ruled that Perry could not prevent the DOJ from accessing his phone records surrounding Jan 6th.

Meanwhile, news organizations are pushing back on GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to release thousands of hours of video from the Jan 6th attempted insurrection to Tucker Carlson at Fox News. The move comes as the Dominion Voting Machines defamation suit against Fox may be approaching a crucial moment.


24 February:

Today is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – what Tom Nichols calls the “final shovel of dirt on the grave of any optimism about the world order that was born with the fall of Soviet Communism.”

Last night, the United Nations passed a resolution calling on Russia to remove its forces. The resolution is, of course, non-binding. Nothing is binding on Vladimir Putin.

Is there a diplomatic road forward? Or is the current situation likely to grind relentlessly on for the foreseeable future?


About three months into the war, I did a Q&A with Michael Avila, who had recently returned from Moldova, and we discussed the uncertainty over how events in the region would play out. He’s going back in a few weeks and when he returns I’ll speak with him again.


23 February:

Dylan Lyons was 24.

Originally from Philadelphia, he had moved to Florida to follow his dream of a media career.

The nation’s latest incident of gun violence claimed the life of the young TV reporter – what CNN’s Oliver Darcy called “a newsroom’s worst nightmare” – in what appears to have been a bizarre and tragic day.

The shooting came shortly after Alabama congressman Barry Moore introduced a bill in the House (co-sponsored by Lauren Boebert & George Santos) making the AR-15 the “National Gun of America”.

Last week, the day after the shooting at Michigan State University,, GOP House members had been wearing lapel pins distributed by Jan 6th insurrection supporter Georgia Rep Andrew Clyde, not of the American Flag, but of an assault rifle.

Amid criticism of the government’s handling of the incident, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio , the day after former president Donald Trump showed up and denied he was responsible for pretty much anything.

Understandably overshadowed by this week’s focus on Ukraine, it’s worth catching up on a couple of significant local political stories:

Jennifer McClellan won an historic victory in Virginia’s special election to the House. She will be the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress, and replaces Rep. Don McEachin (D-Va.), who died in November.

In the primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court  – described as the most consequential election of 2023 because of implications for both abortion legislation and gerrymandering of electoral districts – a Democrat came in a strong first and will run-off against the second-placed Republican on April 4.

Sen Jon Tester said he would run again in Montana – a senate seat the GOP had ambitions to pick up if he were to step down.


22 February:

Before flying back to the US on Thursday, President Biden continues to make the most of his bump from the past couple of days. Russia’s president, not so much…

Meanwhile Biden’s predecessor – obviously for some reason other than just misguided attention-seeking – visited East Palestine, Ohio; scene of the Norfolk Southern derailment earlier this month.

And, talking of disasters….

Godzilla egg? Sure, why the hell not, given everything else…?


21 February:

Today was one of those days of split-screen history, as the leaders of Russia and the West delivered speeches – almost simultaneously – restating positions on both sides of the invasion of Ukraine which are becoming increasingly dug in as its one-year anniversary approaches.

At his annual state-of-the-nation speech, a defiant Vladimir Putin blamed Nato and the West for the war and announced he was “suspending” Russia’s participation in the nuclear START treaty.

Meanwhile, speaking in Poland after his symbolically triumphant visit to Kyiv yesterday, President Biden praised his hosts’ work for Ukrainian refugees and in a strong speech said that “Freedom is at stake” in the ongoing conflict, but that Ukraine would “never be a victory for Russia.

Biden’s Republican opposition at home, in turn, seems to be symbolically floundering after some called for the ending of aid to Ukraine, and with one congressional “leader” even raising the dissolution of the United States in some kind of desperate, trolling distraction.


20 February:

At the beginning of a week that marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced visit to show support for the government there. It is his first visit there since the war began – and the first visit in recent memory by an American president to a war zone without a US military presence. Biden later travelled on to Poland as the immediate future of the war hangs in the balance amid a fresh Russian offensive.

Meanwhile, there is growing alarm surrounding the future role of China and their potential supplying of arms and support to Russia. It comes at a time when relations between China and the US are particularly weak following the “spy balloon” incident.


19 February:

If you want your faith in mankind to be even temporarily restored, read some of the tributes on Twitter…


18 February:

At the Global Security Conference in Munich, the US accused Russia of “crimes against humanity” and encouraged a re-strengthened transatlantic alliance to recommit to support for Ukraine – even as bipartisan congressional backing at home is far from guaranteed.

Another day, another headline so generic you need only replace the name of the state and the number of fatalities.

And tomorrow there will likely be one more.

After a week of legal setbacks for the former president, one more potential headache (but probably among the least of his worries)…

Of somewhat greater concern to some of Trump’s backers past and present might be the unfolding legal case between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems, which appears set to reveal the extent of the deception behind the message of the “Big Lie”; coming especially at the same time as the culmination of the Fulton County, Georgia, action against potential election interference.


17 February:

President Biden was given a “clean bill of health” at his annual medical check-up. As he prepares for an announcement on his re-election plans, however, his age remains an issue for many voters – if re-elected next year he would be in office until he was 86 – often overshadowing the legislative and judicial achievements of his presidency so far.

Meanwhile the fallout from the Norfolk Southern toxic derailment in Ohio continues, with serious health, environmental – and political – implications. And there was another derailment in Michigan, thankfully this time without such a drastic outcome.

And, in Arizona…


16 February:

Another exciting episode of the chaotic legal sitcom that is Trumpworld.

Significant parts of a grand jury report on alleged election interference In Georgia by former President Trump and others were released today. While the bulk of the report remains under seal, crucially it include  details – without naming names – of witnesses who may have lied in testimony.

Next steps lie with Fulton County DA Fani Willis, who has previously said that charges in the matter were “imminent”.

Also, there’s this…

Meanwhile, after former-VP Mike Pence indicated, wrigglingly, his intention to resist a subpoena from Special Counsel Jack Smith over Pence’s role on Jan 6th, CNN reported that a subpoena had been issued to another figure critical to the day’s events and after, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.

It also emerged that the Special Counsel’s office is putting pressure on one of Trump’s lawyers, Evan Corcoran, in connection with the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

Meanwhile, er, oops…

In other legal news, after a two-year investigation, the DOJ said it would not move to charge Florida congressman Matt Gaetz in a sex trafficking inquiry.

On the other side of the aisle, 89-year-old Sen Dianne Feinstein “announced” that she would not seek re-election, formally dropping the flag on what looks likely to be a contentious race to replace her. Three high-profile California congresspeople – Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee – have already said they will contest the seat, and the field could yet widen ahead of next year’s primary.

Under California’s system the top two primary vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party. Given the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, it’s quite possible that next November, Californians will choose between two Democrats to be their next senator.

Sad news, with political implications, here…

And just sad news too…


15 February:

Former Trump acolyte Nikki Haley announced she would seek the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first candidate apart from Trump himself to enter the race. In what could end up being a crowded, “seven or more dwarves”-style field ahead of the first nominating contests in February and March of 2024, Haley will likely find herself a candidate without a constituency. as she tries to “tiptoe around Trump.” She won’t be alone.

And she seems to be off to a fine start, setting the tone early…

Trump’s former VP indicated that he would oppose a subpoena from the DOJ over his role on Jan 6th – a legal wriggling and delaying tactic in part driven by trying to avoid alienating Trump’s MAGA base, without which no GOP candidate can likely succeed. Despite his efforts, though, Mike Pence’s bid to lead the ‘Hang Mike Pence’ party is likely doomed to failure.

The unknown quantity, of course, remains Florida Gov Ron De Santis – the only possible candidate to thus far rival Trump in opinion polls – who seems determined to try to embrace a Trump-esque culture war-driven platform that may not play so well outside his home state.


14 February:

Three people are dead and five injured, all of them students, in a shooting on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

After a manhunt for the suspected shooter, at 12.30am on Tuesday, police said a 43-year-old man with no connection to the University was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but that the situation remained “fluid”. While the shelter-in-place instruction had been lifted and students were free to leave, the campus would be closed for two days while investigations continue.

Some of the students caught up in last night’s events on campus had also been at Oxford High School near Detroit, where a shooting took place last year.

The suspected shooter was later named as Anthony McRae. Any motive remains unclear.

The MSU shooting was the 67th incident of gun violence in the US in the first 44 days of 2023. More than 100 people have been killed in these incidents.

Today marks five years since the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There have been 2,740 mass shootings in the United States since that day.

Today is also 15 years since the shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Read previous related posts:


13 February:

A week after major earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria, the death toll surpassed 30,000, and is expected to go on rising. Aid agencies operating in the region continue to experience difficulty as recriminations grow about the quality of building construction.


With the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine approaching, a fresh Russian offensive is under way on the Eastern front and through continued missile attacks across the country.

Uncertainty surrounds Moldova and the region of Transnistria after its government government resigned amid “multiple crises” as a result of Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine.

Read my conversation from earlier this year with travel writer Michael Avila, who had just returned from Moldova, shortly after the war started:


With questions mounting, the White House appeared to rule out alien activity in connection with the recent series of high-altitude shoot-downs over North America, but it remained unclear who owned the targeted objects or what their purpose was. Officials also said there were no US surveillance devices overflying China.

Meanwhile, as Pitchers and Catchers participating in next month’s World Baseball Classic begin to report, the season unofficially begins with some sad news…


12 February:

For the first time, two Black quarterbacks faced each other in the Super Bowl, as Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs against Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. After an exciting game with plenty of controversy – but then when isn’t it? – the Chiefs took the crown. At At the ages of 27 and 24 respectively, they became the quarterbacks with the youngest combined age in Super Bowl history.

It was also the first time brothers had played against each other in the Super Bowl; but it was an historic day for more than what was happening on the field.

Meanwhile, this now seems to be a regular occurrence, with pressure growing on military authorities to provide more information, at risk of letting speculation run rampant.


11 February:

Another unidentified high-altitude object shot down by a US jet, this time over Yukon in Canada.

Meanwhile, catching up on a major local story that fell through the national cracks somewhat…


10 February:

This seems somewhat worrying. And for now the less is said publicly, the more worrying it can only become, as the White House will surely have learned from the Chinese balloon incident.

And, also kind of worrying…


Despite all kinds of worrying weirdness, though, one thing that’s always reassuring is that every day we get closer to serious, major league-level baseball being played on American soil.

As various Winter leagues wrap up around the world, personnel will start to gather *next week* for the 2023 World Baseball Classic tournament, and then – whisper it – Pitchers and Catchers will start to show up for Spring Training in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.

I’ll be heading out to Phoenix for the Pool C games in the WBC, and I’ll be counting down and writing about it here. Follow along!


9 February:

As the death toll surpassed 20,000 from this week’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, desperate efforts at rescue continue.

In Washington, the House GOP-led sub-committee on the “weaponization” of government got under way.



8 February:

Ukraine President Volodymir Zelensky kicked off an unannounced visit to Europe in London where he addressed parliament and, amid a triumph of PR, apparently received encouragement in obtaining fighter jets from the British government. He later travelled to Paris to meet with French and German leaders.

In the aftermath of the childish behavior of some GOP congresspersons at last night’s State of the Union, playtime continued at a committee hearing on social media and the intelligence community.


7 February:

President Biden successfully used his second State of the Union address to celebrate some positive economic news and legislative accomplishments, drawing an effective contrast between his typical appeal to middle-America and the backdrop of chaotic change brought by GOP control of the House of Representatives.

The speech will doubtless heighten speculation over when Biden might formally announce his campaign for re-election, despite some lingering pessimistic polling.

Arkansas Gov Sarah Huckabee Sanders provided a head-scratching, hardcore GOP response, which doubled-down on emphasising that contrast between real-world governance and circus.


6 February:



More than two thousand people are dead, with hundreds more injured and missing after two large earthquakes struck across Turkey and Syria in the early hours of this morning. Turkish President Erdogan called the quakes the nation’s greatest natural disaster since 1939 and appealed for international assistance.

There was also a smaller earthquake near Buffalo in upstate New York on Monday morning.


5 February:

The Democratic National Committee, meeting this weekend in Philadelphia, approved changes to the party’s primary calendar that would see South Carolina replace Iowa as the first in the nation nominating contest.

President Biden had asked for the change in December and the elevation of South Carolina – that state that gave his campaign for the nomination fresh life in 2020 – could act in his favour; but there will be legal hurdles before the change is confirmed. Each state faces challenges in amending their schedules. The Republican legislature in New Hampshire is set to uphold a state law that guarantees New Hampshire’s position as the first primary state.

Yet, there are still so many moving parts to a scenario on both political sides that will start to come into closer focus over the coming months.


4 January:

The Pentagon shot down the Chinese “spy balloon” – and then shot holes in the GOP narrative that such a thing would never have happened under President Trump…


3 January:

As the US is gripped by the “spy balloon” above Montana and whether or not to shoot it down, Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his trip to China amid a need for the Biden administration to start looking “tough” on the matter – a seeming gift to the GOP and right-wing critics.

But it’s not as simple as that… these things never are. And it didn’t help that it seems the White House might have been trying to cover it up: another misstep that makes them look indecisive and totally overshadowed any benefit they might have garnered from an overachieving jobs report, showing the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.

And there’s apparently a second one…


2 February:

In the wake of yesterday’s funeral of Tyre Nichols, pressure is growing on legislators for action on police and justice reform. President Biden met with Congressional Black Caucus leaders today to discuss the nation’s tragic long-standing problem.

Another problem for the White House is House Republicans apparently not knowing what they want – or at least not being prepared to say – in any talks over the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, the Trump/Biden/Pence documents story keeps running, even if fewer voters appear to care…

There appears to be a Chinese “spy balloon” in the skies over the northern US, and of course, everyone wants to shoot it down… (the Pentagon decided not to, partly fearing debris falling on a populated area, or that China would retaliate by shooting down one of its own high-altitude surveillance drones).

The Baltimore Orioles let Wednesday’s deadline pass to renew the lease on their Camden Yards home for another five years; instead the team and new Maryland Governor Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the stadium.

The lease is now set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can continue negotiating over a potentially longer deal.


1 February:

As Black History Month begins, our collective history tragically repeats yet again. The funeral of Tyre Nichols, who died after a brutal beating by police, took place today in Memphis.

Vice-President Kamala Harris attended, at the invitation of the family, as did relatives of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, also killed by police in 2020. The latest tragedy has revived pressure for progress on police reform and VP Harris urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. President Biden will meet with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus tomorrow to discuss potential legislative steps forward.

This is just an excellent snapshot by Danielle Allen in the Washington Post of where the nation is right now, and of what we all need to think about if we’re to pull things back to some modicum of sanity in how we govern ourselves.

As an example of such divergence in governing and representation, President Biden met with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to discuss plans to address the nation’s debt ceiling. It comes as the newly-installed GOP-led House committees begin work, with their initial focus – they say – on Covid fraud and Border security. One congressman who won’t be taking up his committee assignments anytime soon is George Santos, but hardly, it seems, through any sense of propriety or remorse.

Despite previously saying she wouldn’t run against Donald Trump, Nikki Haley said she would join the future president as the only declared candidates for 2024.

And no doubt at some point down the road there will be “soundings” about whether or not the greatest quarterback in NFL history might hold any political ambitions, after Tom Brady announced his retirement “for good” this morning.


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