Category Archives: Politics: International

Genuinely Weird

This is not Italy

One of the stranger things I’ve seen in the paper recently: Jason Horowitz, Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader:

ROME — Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit and attended “Camp Hobbit” a gathering of hard-right youth.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

Worth reading the whole article. Incidentally, the article suggests that,

Ms. Meloni …. said she had learned from dwarves and elves and hobbits the “value of specificity” with “each indispensable for the fact of being particular.” She extrapolated that as a lesson about protecting Europe’s sovereign nations and unique identities.

Given the history, I expected her to say it sounded like (20th Century Italian Fascist) corporatism. But, no, it’s just dressing up 21st Century nationalism and bigotry.

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Putin Joke

Predictable punch line, but still funny:

Putin dies and ends up in hell. After a few years, the devil calls him in and tells him that he is being paroled back to Moscow for good behavior. Putin arrives in Moscow and goes to his favorite bar and orders a small pitcher of vodka. He starts talking to the bartender. “I’ve been away for a long time, Tovarisch, and I have been out of touch. Do we still hold Crimea?” “Yes,” the bartender replies. “How about the Donbas?” “That, too,” says the bartender. Putin is hesitant to ask, but he jumps in the deep end, “Do we have Kyiv?” “Yes, we have Kyiv.” “That’s wonderful!” says Putin and pulls out his money to pay for his drink. “What’s that?” asks the bartender. “Ten rubles,” says Putin, “eight for the drink and two for you.” “Rubles? We haven’t used rubles for years. The price is ten Euros.”

Posted in Completely Different, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Ukrainian Joke

Question: why are all Russian vehicles in Ukraine marked with a “Z”?

Answer: the other half of the swastika was stolen by military contractors

From Business Ukraine Magazine via Eugene Volokh.

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For My Russian Readers

If the map in the right column is to be believed, I have eight recent Russian readers (representing under 0.2% of the total recent audience). As I understand Twitter is blocked in Russia, I’ve taken the liberty of hosting a copy of a video originally posted by this Tweet (crediting @ZelenskyyUa) [Warning: graphic scenes]:

Feel free to share.

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A Number I Can Grasp

The US is planning to send $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, about half of it military.

I like to divide federal spending by the number of US households (c. 130 million in 2021) to help me grasp what it means.

So that $13.6bn becomes $104.62 per US household. Of course that’s just an average as federal tax incidence is not uniform. Personally I’m happy to pitch in, but it’s easy for me to say that.

Posted in Econ & Money, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Accountability, Perhaps

Accountability has rarely been a key feature of US politics (see, e.g. Kissinger, Henry), at least not in a sensible way (see, e.g. “Who Lost China?”).

But Priorities USA is trying to gin up some accountability with this pair of new videos:

There’s Off the Hook:

And there’s the even more blunt Chosen a Side :

Posted in 2022 Election, Trump, Ukraine | Leave a comment