Charles Lipson

Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus

Frequent contributor: 
Real Clear Politics,
Spectator| World, Newsweek, Discourse Magazine, American Greatness, Wall Street Journal

University of Chicago

November 3, January 6, and Mounting Threats to Democracy

The central point of the January 6 Committee hearings was already well known, but it deserves to be underscored because it is so fundamental to the integrity of self-government. Donald Trump never accepted his defeat at the polls and actively sought to prevent Joe Biden’s certification as his successor. To put it bluntly, Trump tried to overturn our nation’s established procedures for the peaceful transfer of power. Even though this attempt failed, it did lasting damage. Trump kept telling his

Russia slogs through the Donbas

A brutal artillery battle: that’s what the latest phase of Russia’s war on Ukraine has become. Vladimir Putin failed in his original goal of seizing the entire country swiftly, beginning with the capital of Kyiv, and installing a puppet government. When Ukrainian resistance prevented that, Putin shifted to a smaller, more achievable objective: establishing complete control over two eastern provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, which border Russia and are jointly known as the Donbas region. That’s wher

The Biden administration's five stages of grief

There are five stages of grief, according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, beginning with denial and ending with acceptance. The Biden administration must have learned from that sequence, since it regularly trots out five successive explanations for its mounting policy failures. Like Kübler-Ross, the administration begins with denial. Here are the Biden administration's five stages: • It's not really a problem. You just think it is. • It's only a problem for some people, especially rich people. It doe

The stench from the Sussmann trial

Democracies cannot survive without public trust. Citizens must be confident that elected officials represent their interests, at least in broad terms, and are not corrupt, self-dealing con men. They must believe the courts dispense justice... The essential elements of stable democracy are encompassed by two words: “trust” and “fairness.” Every basic tenet necessary for democratic well-being is being violated in Michael Sussmann’s trial for lying to the FBI. We don’t know yet whether Sussmann wi

Sussmann Trial Exposes Dems' Scandal-Industrial Process

Modern political scandals, like Caesar’s Gaul, are divided into three parts. The first is the actual malfeasance. That might be taking bribes, lying to federal agents, leaking classified materials, sexual misconduct, selling political access, whatever. The second part is the hyper-partisan involvement of Congress and, often, federal agencies, all eager to score points for their side. The third part is the media’s role, which goes beyond bias to include active promotion of political goals. Feder

Is Hillary’s lawyer cooked?

Michael Sussmann, a senior lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, is currently on trial for lying to the FBI. The allegation is straightforward. As the election approached, Sussmann texted his old friend and fellow attorney, James Baker, requesting a brief, urgent meeting. Baker was the FBI’s top lawyer and Sussmann was a partner at Clinton’s election-law firm. They were friends from their days together at the Department of Justice and continued to know each other socially. According to the

How long can Russia stay in this fight?

The central point is one we all know: Ukraine has prevented a Russian victory but has not yet won the war. There is still hard fighting to come, but the battlefield is increasingly tilted in Ukraine’s favor. Vladimir Putin wanted to seize the capital, decapitate the Zelensky regime, install a puppet government, and control as much of... The sheer complexity of the war in Ukraine can mask its most important features. So let’s cut through the complexity and focus on where the combatants now stand

Today’s ‘Diversity’ Oaths Resemble 1950s ‘Loyalty’ Oaths

It is rare to meet someone with true moral courage, someone who risks everything to do what he knows is right. I was privileged to know such a man, George Anastaplo. His story, set during the Red Scare of the 1950s, needs to be told because it applies today, when political zealots again demand rigid conformity. George, a boy from rural Illinois, refused to bow down to the most powerful lawyers in his home state. He knew their demands were wrong, even though he could have easily and truthfully s

Biden's disinformation board is a gift to Republicans

If you worked really hard, you might be able to come up with an idea as unappealing as a government disinformation board. Voters already distrust the government and are especially concerned about its excessive intrusion and unchecked regulatory power. If you worked even harder, you might find as bad a person to lead it as Nina Jankowicz, a self-styled "disinformation expert" whose real specialty seems to be spreading disinformation to support her left-wing views. If you tried hard to justify t

Ukraine is going to win

But even in these favorable conditions, Moscow’s plans aren’t working out. The Ukrainians may lack superior numbers, but they could very well win back most of the territory Russia has occupied since 2014.... The climactic battle for Ukraine is being fought in the east, on the dangerous, open terrain of the Donbas. Since it will be won with heavy, long-range firepower, Russia ought to have a huge advantage. After all, it has spent decades building a military meant to overwhelm its enemies with v

Why America Changed Its War Aims in Ukraine

Slowly, slowly, the United States has expanded its war aims in Ukraine and significantly altered its pipeline of military supplies. Those two changes are mutually reinforcing. The U.S. is finally sending Ukraine the heavy weapons it needs because the Biden administration has finally decided it actually wants Ukraine to win and the Russian army to suffer losses so drastic it will not threaten other Western countries. Highlighting these changes is not meant to downplay the support America has alr

Can DeSantis get past the Donald?

First, he won the hearts and minds of conservative voters and many independent parents by passing a law that prevents teachers from discussing sensitive topics of gender and sexual orientation with young students (grades three and under). Second, he confronted and defeated one of Florida’s largest and most influential employers, Disney World, on a vital issue. He stripped Disney of its special privilege to govern the vast territory... Last week, Florida governor Ron DeSantis took two big steps

Durham springs the trap on Hillary Clinton's lawyer

The month of May won’t be a merry one for Michael Sussmann, one of Hillary Clinton’s top lawyers at her favorite election law firm Perkins Coie, who is facing a criminal charge of lying to the FBI when he passed information to the Bureau’s general counsel, James Baker. Sussman stated explicitly that he was acting as a “good citizen,” not as a lawyer for Trump’s election opponents. The month of May won’t be a merry one for Michael Sussmann, one of Hillary Clinton’s top lawyers at her favorite el

For Biden, the Buck Stops . . . Somewhere Else

When my kids were little and something went wrong, they always pinned the blame on an absent friend. If there was a crayon drawing scrawled on the bedroom wall, they pointed to their buddy, Michael S. When an avalanche of toys came tumbling down the stairs, it must have been Michael’s fault. My boys seemed oblivious to the fact that Michael and his parents had been living in France for over a year. Joe Biden’s explanation for America’s troubles is about as convincing as my 4-year-old twins’. Le

The next phase of the Ukraine war

The fog of war doesn’t just apply to generals, sergeants, and privates. It applies to strategists and outside observers, including the best-informed journalists on the ground. All are swamped by a confusing barrage of information, some accurate, some not, none of it complete or definitive. That’s why, after over a month of fighting in Ukraine, it helps to step back, consider the basic outcomes, and try to project what will happen next. The fog of war doesn’t just apply to generals, sergeants, a

No more dithering over Ukraine

It’s the same failure they displayed for the year prior to the invasion, when Putin was building up tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border. Even now, the US and NATO are hesitating to... The extraordinary skill, courage and effectiveness of Ukraine’s fighting forces have given the US and NATO an extraordinary opportunity to reestablish military deterrence in Europe and show the Kremlin that unprovoked military aggression will be repelled and ultimately defeated. But President Biden

How will the battlefield stalemate end in Ukraine?

For the Ukrainians, that bombardment is aimed at the Russian military. For the Russians, it is aimed mostly at civilian targets, a deliberate strategy that is also a war crime. Russian artillery shells, cluster bombs and cruise missiles are killing tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and destroying their homes, schools and businesses. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s counterattack is imposing huge, irreplaceable losses on Russia’s army, killing soldiers, destroying their equipment and liquidating incom

Hunter Biden and the media's feedback loop

His only marketable skill was opening doors with his last name. It’s still unclear how deeply and directly Hunter’s father, Joe, is implicated in this sleazy business, which went on for... Well over a year after the presidential election, long after all mainstream media outlets killed a legitimate story about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, the New York Times finally announced it had “authenticated” the computer and its messages. The computer, left amid a drug-filled haze at a Delaware computer

China Wins a Little, Loses a Lot From Russia's War on Ukraine

The unfolding mayhem unleashed on Ukraine by Vladimir Putin carries one major benefit for China and two much larger losses, plus a boatload of secondary effects. The main benefit is geostrategic: The United States must now keep more scarce military resources in Europe, instead diverting them to the Pacific, as it had been hoping. That diversion would be costly for any president, but it is particularly costly for a Democrat, whose party habitually scales back military budgets to spend more on so

Fourteen lessons so far from Russia’s war on Ukraine

Amid this complexity, it is important to summarize what we know so far: 1. Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine appears to... The sheer complexity — and horror — of Russia’s war on Ukraine makes it difficult to distill the essential points. To take only one example, the battlefront north of Kyiv, where the Russian convoy is stalled, is significantly different from that along the Black Sea, where Russian forces from Crimea have made substantial progress. A third front, in the east, is con
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