March 2023

16 March:

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will attempt to reassure Congress this morning in what was intended to be a Budget briefing, but will likely focus on the global banking system as fears of a crisis in both international and US regional institutions refuse to go away, leading to turmoil in the markets.

Womens’ health rights advocates are braced for a Texas court decision which could have implications for access to abortion services nationally.

The Pentagon released footage of an encounter between a US surveillance drone and a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea.

In baseball, as the WBC enters the knockout stage, games were overshadowed by an apparently serious injury to Mets pitcher Edwin Diaz while celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic.


14 March:

After President Biden’s assurances over continuing concerns around the US regional banking sector following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the focus remains on the impact of Trump-era de-regulation. Authorities are thought to have opened an investigation into the SVB failure.

US inflation remains high, but is slowing.


The state of our politics in a single headline…


13 March:

With his legal outlook apparently worsening – and how many times can we actually write that line? – former President Trump used a disjointed speech at a campaign event in Iowa to attack Gov Ron DeSantis. But according to Jonathan Allen, “Trump was met with relative silence from an otherwise raucous crowd when he unleashed his barrage against DeSantis, which included barbs about votes that would have reduced benefits for recipients of Medicare and Social Security.

“That may reflect an uneasiness among Iowa GOP voters — even some of Trump’s most ardent supporters — with Republican-on-Republican political violence at a time when a Democrat, President Joe Biden, occupies the White House.”

Meanwhile, former VP – and still, staggeringly, a potential candidate for 2024 – Mike Pence told an off-the-record, no cameras allowed dinner that, among the same phrases he used in promoting his book last year, “History would hold Donald Trump accountable for January 6th”. This effort to win over the press comes at exactly the same time as Pence is fighting legal efforts to hear his testimony in order to hold Trump accountable. The hypocrisy, and spinelessness, is overwhelming. A “profile in half-courage” as Will Saletan put it.


12 March:

Fallout continues from the failure of Silicon Valley Bank this week, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying there will be no government bailout but that authorities are “working to help depositors”. Predictably, the situation has become politicized and that never helps anyone. Markets, meanwhile, are understandably nervy ahead of tomorrow’s opening.


11 March:


10 March:

The chatter about possible imminent criminal charges for the former President from the NYDA’s office, appropriately enough over the Stormy Daniels hush money payments, may or may not – as so many times previously – come to anything… We should know more next week.

Whether historic charges come or not doesn’t change the threat to our politics he represents, according to Susan Glasser: “The point is that we’ve been here before. Let’s not make the mistake once again of failing to take Trump seriously. Or literally. Today’s Republican Party is a lot closer to Forever Trump than it is to Never Again Trump. The revenge play continues.”

Two Georgia professors, meanwhile, suggest changing the GOP primary process to make it less likely that “extremists” can capture the nomination.

“[Trump’s primary] victories came overwhelmingly by way of pluralities, not majorities. In the four opening contests, Trump attracted only about a third of the vote but got 62 percent of the delegates. In South Carolina, for example, Trump gathered 32.5 percent of the GOP vote in a crowded field but was awarded all fifty state delegates to the national Republican presidential nominating convention. Senators Rubio and Cruz each received about 22 percent of the vote.

“Subsequently, on Super Tuesday, Trump won seven of eleven states—all with pluralities. Indeed, he exceeded 40 percent of the vote in only two states: Alabama and Massachusetts. Nonetheless, he walked away with 43 percent of the delegates awarded that day. He went on to gain additional plurality margins of victory in subsequent primaries. Not until April 19 did Trump achieve an outright majority win, polling 59 percent in his native state of New York.”

Trump’s most likely, though still undeclared, rival for the 2024 nomination is making a trip to Iowa today, ostensibly in support of his book (which is a bestseller, as many pre-campaign publications are these days).

Meanwhile, the actual President’s $7trillion Budget plan is likely message-testing his own campaign kick-off, framing likely attacks on GOP opponents over taxation and the economy, in the context of a still-unresolved debt ceiling fight.

GOP Senate leader, 81-year-old Mitch McConnell, is in hospital after a fall. Many people “thought they’d never say this” but we collectively need him right now…


8 March:

Russian/Wagner troops appear close to finally taking the town of Bakhmut. Nato’s Jens Stoltenberg said it could fall “in a few days” but thought it would not represent a “turning point” in the war.


After yesterday, Fox perhaps unsurprisingly grasps for relevance and diversion.

Some GOP Senators, though, seem happy to push back…


The question, though, is at what point does MSNBC cross over into diminishing returns from just saying the same thing – true as it may be – every night about Fox? Their viewers already think Fox is propaganda, and it’s not like they’re winning over any new converts. It’s “for the record” I guess, but it’s pretty relentless for now.


7 March:

The Fox “News” revelations continue apace, and – as you might imagine – none of it is good. But as Richard Painter points out, the network’s problems are entirely of their own making.



5 March:

President Biden was in Selma, Alabama on Sunday to commemorate the 58th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’. He said the threat to democracy and voting rights needed as much protection now as it did then.

Meanwhile, the consequences of election lies continue and it’s All Fox, All the Time.

Better get used to further speculation about the future of Rupert Murdoch’s “news” channel as the Dominon suit throws up still more revelations about its inner workings.

Spoiler – they are who we thought they were.

After the former president’s pep rally at CPAC last night, some other potential GOP candidates get a chance to speak…

Not so fast, though…


4 March:

Earlier: Fighting in and around what’s left of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut appears to be entering a crucial, potentially final, phase. Reporting seems to invoke the final days of the siege of Mariupol, with heavy casualties on both sides.

Two views of the war at the current time…



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.


Republicans, meanwhile, appear to continue to be split over the approach to Ukraine policy.

Former president Donald Trump is set to appear on the final day of CPAC, where – of course – he “won” the straw poll of 2024 candidate preferences among a base that overwhelmingly wants to stop aid to Ukraine. Trump also stepped up his criticism of his still potentially nearest challenger for the nomination.

Meanhile DeSantis’s new book seems to be getting an even worse reception than the biography of Roberto Clemente gets in Florida schools.

But if he wants to be seen as an alternative to Joe Biden maybe he should start by figuring out what he’d do differently?

Talking of alternatives to Biden, meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Marianne Williamson threw some kind of a hat in the ring…


3 March:

So it sounds like CPAC started badly and got worse, if such a thing is possible…

Not to mention this…

Donald Trump and another defeated president, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, are set to speak on the final day tomorrow.


2 March:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in India; the highest-level in-person contact since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile the confusion over the origin of the Covid outbreak goes on.


1 March:

In Chicago’s Mayoral election, Lori Lightfoot became the first incumbent in four decades to lose a re-election bid.

In what has been described as the most “what side are you on?” election possible, the two candidates who will advance to a runoff election on April 4 are Brandon Johnson – formerly a union organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union – and Paul Vallas, who used to run the city’s public schools .

The Supreme Court is considering two cases challenging President Biden’s plan to forgive some student loan debt. The outcome would affect more than 40 million Americans and the Court is expected to rule by the end of June.