Not Far from Navalny

Valerie Hopkins and Andrew E. Kramer in The New York Times:

Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist who for more than a decade led the political opposition in President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia while enduring arrests, assaults and a near-fatal poisoning, died Friday in a Russian prison, according to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service. He was 47.

The prison authorities said that Mr. Navalny lost consciousness on Friday after taking a walk in the Arctic penal colony where he was moved late last year. He was last seen on Thursday, when he had appeared in a court hearing via video link, smiling behind the bars of a cell and making jokes.

That’s a suspiciously sudden turn.

Adam Liptak in The New York Times:

Eight years ago, just before the Iowa caucuses, Donald J. Trump crowed about his invulnerability.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said. “It’s, like, incredible.”

On Tuesday, at a federal appeals court argument held the week before this year’s caucuses, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said that the Constitution basically states the same thing.

It took a few questions from Judge Florence Y. Pan to pin down the lawyer, D. John Sauer. But in the end he made the jaw-dropping claim that former presidents are absolutely immune from prosecution even for murders they ordered while in office.

“I asked you a yes-or-no question,” Judge Pan said. “Could a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

Mr. Sauer said his answer was a “qualified yes,” by which he meant no. He explained that prosecution would only be permitted if the president were first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

Trump’s argument is that the president could order a rival’s murder and the only possibility of accountability is political process of impeachment.

That seems suspiciously close to Navalny’s downfall.

Only if We’re Brave Enough

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

There’s a lot of folks in Johnson County who need to be reminded.


The Iowa state motto:

Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

It’s emblazoned on the state flag if you need a refresher.

Erin Murphy in The Gazette:

The Iowa Civil Rights Act would be changed by removing gender identity as a protected class, and by adding gender dysphoria to disabilities covered by the act, under legislation that will be considered by state lawmakers next week at the Iowa Capitol.


A subcommittee will hold a hearing on Jan. 31, and you can provide written or in-person comment.

On Abolition

Every day, we take hundreds of steps towards abolition.

Waving to a neighbor walking her dog.

Stoping to help a kid on their way to school who’s bag is spilling papers.

Handing out Halloween candy at your front door.

Meeting a new person who works near your office.

Collecting a few pieces of trash.

Holding your kid’s birthday party at the neighborhood park.

Closing a street to cars for a community festival.

Visiting a playground and playing.

Asking someone if they’re OK.

Sharing a tradition.

Picking up dog poop that’s not yours.

Giving another human grace.

Moving forward when you’re not offered the same.

Writing a poem.

Flying a kite.

Checking in an old friend.

Letting your boss know, clearly and honestly, what isn’t working.

Joining a community network that connects folks across your city to solve problems.

Asking your neighbor if they’d stop setting of fireworks.

Getting over neighbors continuing to set off fireworks.

Finding a new home for books you’ve already read and things you no longer use.

Bringing food to a potluck.

Forgiving a person who wronged you.

It’s hundreds of daily acts of resistance, easy and hard, that makeup the steps on the infinitely long path to abolition.

One-Star Food

For our anniversary last January, Laura and I visited Chicago for two nights of eating. Night One was an all-out, over-the-top dinner at the kitchen table at Next. It was good, of course, but it also felt very too much. And, ironically, maybe weird in a too-safe kind of way?

Night Two was the tasting menu at Indienne, a newish spot serving refined Indian cuisine with a bit of French flare. It was surprising and delightful, and the best meal I’d had in years.

It should be no surprise it was just awarded its first Michelin star.

How Iowa’s Book Banning Manifests

Tim Weber writing about a database he and Samantha Hernandez built for the Des Moines Register:

Together, more than 450 individual works by more than 300 authors have already been pulled from the shelves of Iowa school districts as a result of Senate File 496. Our database will continue to be updated as we receive more lists from districts around the state.

I skimmed the list of titles from the Iowa City Community School District and found a number of familiar titles, including ones that were favorites of my own kid, classics including Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Joyce’s Ulysses and a favorite of my own, Y the Last Man.

It makes book banning so much more personal. These are abstract titles of “banned books.” These are favorites being pulled from the shelves at your kid’s school.

Totally unrelated1: there’s a City & School election on Nov. 7 and there’s some scary folks running . I’m voting for Molly Abraham, Charlie Eastham, Mitchell Lingo and Lisa Williams and you should, too.

  1. It’s completely related. ↩︎

On Parenting

By the end of this month, my child will turn 18. There was a time she was struggled to lift her head during tummy time, and I remember her first wobbly steps while I feared she’d take a header off the coffee table.

I occurs to me that these moments reoccur.

She’s currently navigating decisions about college, and now, like then, I have to remind myself to let her grapple with the challenge.

She was learning to ride a bike, I couldn’t hold her up or she’s never learn to balance. When she was learning to drive, I couldn’t hold the wheel or she’d never learn to steer. When she was falling in love, I couldn’t play her matchmaker and chaperone or she’d never learn how to exist in a romantic relationship. As she learns how to be an adult, she needs the space to try and fail — or fall.

Like a newborn bird working its way out of its shell, the struggle is critical to the necessary growth. The necessary strengthening. Standing back comes with risk, but intervention comes with more.

Via Yelp via the Washington Post

The Des Moines Register:

Everyone has an opinion on who makes the best pizza, and to that end, the Washington Post took a different approach to determine the tops nationwide. The editors there started with the 7.5 million Yelp reviews of 85,000 pizza establishments nationwide, developed a formula to figure out the best — taking into consideration the rating, number of reviews, and how often reviews mentioned that particular pizza style, the Post said — and then presented it to the public.

The Des Moines Register, winner 17 Pulitzer Prizes, was once a proud newspaper. Now they run stories rewriting data journalism about pizza from the Washington Post.