Monday, February 28, 2022

Putin's Motive?

Someone using the nom de blog of Streiff posts at Red State and has a very interesting take on Putin's motives. As the presumably pseudonymous Streiff admits, we have no way of absolutely being certain the source he cites - Bellingcat - is on the level. 

What they posted, and Steiff quotes, does have the serious advantage of making sense of Putin's motives. Whether or not it was on several Russian sources, and then mysteriously disappeared, is something that can be verified.

Here is Streiff's interpretation of what that source claimed.

If you think the goal is a reconstituted USSR, I believe you have it wrong. The goal is the Russia of Nicholas II. He’s not interested in Potemkin Soviet Socialist Republics. He sees Ukraine and Belarus, and Moldova as integral parts of Greater Russia.

"Greater Russia" meaning people of one ethnicity. Along with, probably, what we know as Sweden and Finland. I bet Putin thinks Tsar Vladimir the Reuniter would be a bol'shoy epitaph.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Prediction Comes True

Dang, it didn't take long to happen. On Friday I wrote a post I called "Waiting" in which I predicted some BIPOC talking head would put down the media interest in the Russian attack on Ukraine. Both sides being white, therefore popular interest being evidence of white racism.

Two days later, the Daily Mail (U.K.) reports that Nicole Hannah-Jones who founded the ahistorical and racist 1619 Project for the New York Times has done exactly as I predicted. DM quotes her as follows:

Every journalist covering Ukraine should really, really look internally. This is why I say we should stop pretending we have objectivity and in instead acknowledge our biases so that we can report against them. Many of us see the racialized analysis and language.

Honestly, these admissions of shock that this is happening in a European country are ahistorical and also serve to justify the lack of sympathy for other invasions, other occupations and other refugee crisis involving peoples not considered white.

She did go on to say Ukraine was no less deserving of our support than any other country, but made it clear she felt it got much more media focus because the people living there are white. 

The left would be more interesting if they weren't so pathetically predictable.

It’s the Culture, Stupid

Salena Zito wanders the old rust belt - states like Ohio and Pennsylvania - and tells the stories of people who aren’t famous, aren’t elite, aren’t glitterati. Her columns show up in the Washington Examiner and are some of the best Americana being written today.

People talk about journalists needing to understand the so-called “grassroots.” Zito documents the grassroots in the interior northeast, and does it better than anybody. She is a storyteller and an observer, and she draws very smart conclusions from that milieu, for example:

Ask any suburban parent (mother or father) who has spent hours driving back and forth to swim meets and soccer practices for their daughters how they feel about women’s sports today that have biological males crushing females in meets and tournaments.

If you think that hasn’t pushed them center-right, you haven’t listened to them.

If you think the violent crime epidemic in our cities hasn’t pushed people center-right, then you haven’t paid attention to the diversity of new gun owners who purchased their first guns in the past two years to protect their homes and their families — or have moved out of those cities.

By the way, this is not about Republicans getting things perfect or even semiperfect or even partially perfect — this is about Democrats overreaching so wide and so far that they can't see the forest for the trees.

People will calculate that the midterm elections this year will be about a lot of things: Trump, racism, and not getting Build Back Better passed. They will be wrong — it is the culture, and had they just spent some time listening to people, they would have known.

Zito has her finger on the wrist of America. She feels our pulse and describes it, combining the skills of a Garrison Keillor and a David Broder. 

NATO Waking Up reports new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced relatively dramatic changes in German defense spending.

Speaking at an emergency session of the German parliament to discuss the war, Scholz said that his government would set up a special €100 billion fund to swiftly upgrade its armed forces and that Germany will in future adhere to the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense.

Describing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a turning point in the history of our Continent,” Scholz told lawmakers that “it is clear that we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy.”

We will from now on, year for year, invest more than 2 percent of our gross domestic product in our defense,” Scholz said. His remarks were met with loud applause by lawmakers.

Germany currently spends around 1.5 percent of GDP on defense and the current coalition government had previously been reluctant to commit to the 2 percent target, despite pleas from NATO allies.

Mental image of an ostrich, removing head from sand in shock, and going on offense. If Putin attacking Ukraine spurs laggard NATO members to fulfill their 2% of GDP defense spending pledge, some good will come from it. 

Note to Putin: In English, we call this an “unintended consequence.” Perhaps you have a similar term in Russian?

News Not All Bad

On Wednesday we wrote that the western powers really had to get serious about those “tough economic sanctions” they’d promised if Putin attacked Ukraine. I am both happy and a little surprised to see that they have actually done some of what they promised.

Apparently most flights into and out of Russia have been shut down, although the pajama boy who governs Canada hasn’t yet joined that effort. For now NordStream 2 remains off line, and at least some interference with Russia’s access to the Swift financial network will occur. 

When Trump left office, we were exporting oil, which is to say, producing more than we consumed. Now we import oil, because of Biden’s pandering to environmentalists.

Russia is a major funder of the environmental movement in western nations, with the aim of suppressing our oil and gas production and supporting the market for Russian petroleum production. 

The U.S. buys billions of dollars of Russian oil every year, and so far that “buy” hasn’t been curtailed.  Helping to pay for Russia’s war effort is the fault of Joe Biden and the evil minions who pull his puppet strings.

Later: Sorry, Canada, this story indicates you've joined the Russian flight ban, better late than never. And the EU indicates they will furnish weapons to Ukraine, not clear if it is "sell" or "fund the purchase of," but doesn't appear to be "give."

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Ukraine’s Loss, Afghan’s Gain

Some considerable fraction of the $83 billion in U.S. military aid supplied to the Afghan government was still usable equipment, abandoned when we left precipitously. If the U.S. had extracted those billions of dollars of military equipment in Afghanistan, it would have been available to "loan" to Ukraine. 

President Biden is the gift that keeps on giving ... to our enemies. Everyone who voted for him should now feel remorse. Those who don't feel guilt, must wish our country ill. Doing so, if not treason, is certainly treason’s close relative.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Poll: Putin Attacked Because of Biden

Here's how to create heartburn in the West Wing of the White House. Check out the results of a new Harvard Center for American Political Studies (CAPS)-Harris Poll. Hat tip to for the link.

[It] found that 62 percent of those polled believed Putin would not be moving against Ukraine if Trump had been president. When looking strictly at the answers of Democrats and Republicans, 85 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats answered this way.

A majority of Americans polled — 59 percent — also said they believed that the Russian president moved on Ukraine because Putin saw weakness in President Biden.

It's amazing almost 4 in 10 Democrats think Biden's evident weakness encouraged the bully Putin. Will any underling have the courage to show these results to Slow Joe? 


Ours is a society where everything is being unnecessarily racialized. Thus I am waiting for the first BIPOC commenter to write or say on camera that - as a war between white people - the invasion of Ukraine is unimportant, although perhaps entertaining.

Possible comments about securing adequate popcorn would be especially gratuitous.

Major Matters

CNBC describes the findings of a recent study by the New York Federal Reserve Bank which looked at starting and mid career salaries earned by college grads with majors in many fields. Engineering and computer science did best, liberal arts and the ever-popular psychology were among the worst. 

The good news for those with majors that start low is that they improve by mid career, but never catch up with the engineers who likewise improve. BTW, some of the lowest paying majors do very little better than someone with a full-time minimum wage job.

If you know young people who might be choosing a field of study, impress upon them the desirability of a major that pays relatively well and for which firms actively recruit. Racking up $100k of college debt to study something “fulfilling” but non remunerative is self-destructive behavior. An apprenticeship in the building trades makes far more sense, and pays better.

We last wrote about this topic some six weeks ago.  Here it is again with similar results, albeit from a different source.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

History Comes Knocking

Ever since World War II ended, the leaders of Western Europe have operated like our cartoonish avian friend. As a result, the only European nation with a truly significant military is Russia, although the efforts of Switzerland, the U.K., and France haven't been trivial. 

One supposes the others believed the United States would defend them, so they didn't need to spend the money and inconvenience their people. Now war has again broken out between European nations and none of the neighbors could intervene if they wanted to

For decades, U.S. presidents have pestered NATO partners to pull their weight for the common defense. For as many decades they have made polite noises and spent their time and money elsewhere. 

Now they are faced with an actively belligerent Russia while the U.S. is governed by a sad, tired old political hack. Joe Biden didn't amount to much when he still had all his marbles. The spectacle of him abandoning our Afghan ally cannot reassure NATO's other member nations.

Note to Francis Fukuyama: That "arc of history" stuff is bunkum. History appears to be very much alive and thirsting for gore. Perhaps it was on sabbatical when you declared it dead. 


It turns out Putin didn’t blink. He was just more deliberate and less headlong than it first appeared. The conquest of Ukraine will now occur.

His aim will be to unseat the present Ukraine government and install a pro-Russian government more-or-less immune to popular opinion. He will help it set up an effective secret police, purge or kill the most effective anti-Russian voices, and leave, claiming “job done.” 

We know this Russian game plan. It’s what Stalin did in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics at the end of World War II. Stalin’s “fig leaf” of international communism is all that will be missing. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Answer

We know the answer to my question yesterday, namely would the invasion go beyond the Donbas. The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports Putin's Russia is invading the balance of Ukraine, and people in the capital Kyiv report hearing explosions, most likely bombing or missile strikes.

That being the case, we'd better see some draconian sanctions as well as deniable cyber warfare sent toward Russia. Presumably there will be some negative consequences coming our way as well.

Putin has indirectly threatened nuclear warfare, and has the weapons and delivery systems to make good on that claim. I doubt he is MAD enough to go down that road, MAD being the acronym for mutually assured destruction. If he does, I hope to be far enough from the nearest blast zone to survive, though there are no guarantees.

Strap in and hang on, the next months will be a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Rick Scott's Eleven Points

Via Politico, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has released an eleven point plan (scroll down) for the modern GOP. Think of it as the 'grandchild' of the 1994 Newt Gingrich Contract with America. 

Scott stakes out uncompromising positions on patriotism, culture war issues, election security, crime, controlling the border, the family, and America First foreign and domestic policies.

Do yourself a favor, see what Scott has proposed as a Republican agenda. It is bold and will irritate most Democrats and some few Republicans, but I like it ... a lot. 

I think of his plan as aspirational. It’s what he’d like to be able to accomplish if he can assemble a working majority for each of his points.

If it were possible to accomplish even half of Scott's agenda, us "normals" would be ecstatic. The left would absolutely soil themselves while reaching for Thorazine. 


Afterthought: What isn’t clear is whether his eleven points appeal to a majority of Americans. The “tent” of those who agree with Scott may not be “big” enough, always a consideration in a de facto two party system.

Second Afterthought: Left-leaning Politico believes the Scott manifesto will do the GOP more harm than good, likely the main reason they agreed to post it. Scott is betting they're wrong, Gingrich did well with his.

Ukraine Update

Based on this Wall Street Journal article and other reports I've seen, the question tonight appears to be the following. Will the Russians stop with the Donbas, or will they gather their troops there prior to attacking the entire country? 

I don't think we know the answer yet. Maybe their decision will be influenced by the seriousness of the sanctions imposed on Russia for occupying the Donbas. 

The size of the force they've amassed suggests their appetite is much larger than just the Donbas. It gives them the option to gobble up the rest of the country, if the West seems irresolute in the face of what they've done so far.

Likely scenario: The Russian troop presence will embolden Donbas locals who have been fighting off the Ukraine army. The locals go on the attack, Ukraine regulars respond, and their response will be a pretext for the Russian troops to join the fight. 

We live in interesting times.

Ukraine - What We Know (So Far)

As noted earlier, whatever "invasion" happened in Ukraine would likely occur after the Winter Olympics ended. Sure enough, the Olympics ended on the 20th and it happened on the 21st.

I put invasion in quotes because what happened was far less dramatic (so far) than expected. Russian "peacekeeping" troops moved into the breakaway Donbas region, likely without firing a shot or being opposed.

The Donbas region of Ukraine is made up of two separatist proto-countries named Luhansk and Donetsk. They are largely Russian speaking, and many residents have recently issued passports granting them Russian citizenship.

This region has been in armed revolt against the Ukraine government ever since the last pro-Russian government in Kyiv was overthrown. The national government has had basically no authority in the Donbas. 

Border fighting has continued at low levels between the Ukraine army and the rebels. Ukraine has not made an all-out effort to regain authority in the region.


From at least one point of view, Putin blinked. He had half his army surrounding Ukraine, nearly guaranteeing a successful takeover of the whole nation. He instead chose the least offensive action possible that avoided the shame of giving up and going home. 

So far he has sent troops into an area where their presence is welcome by most locals. This action is unlikely to generate serious bloodshed; it may be the nothing-burger Biden hinted he could ignore.


Some have claimed recognizing the independence of the Donbas was the last thing Putin would wish to do. It would reduce the number of Russian speakers in still-independent Ukraine and thus strengthen the majority of those identifying as nationalistic Ukrainians with pro-EU sentiments. Perhaps those claiming this were incorrect?

His actions to date instead mirror what he did in Georgia (the country, not the state). There he supported breakaway provinces which favored Russia. 


The moves Putin is making in Eastern Ukraine will not help him reach his alleged goal of reestablishing the old Soviet sphere of influence. Perhaps instead his immediate goal is merely to bring together all regions with ethnic Russian populations? 

I am reminded of Hitler absorbing Alsace, Austria and Sudetenland. Hitler wasn't satisfied with uniting the ethnic Germans, he wanted (and conquered) much more before eventually being defeated. With the wisdom of hindsight, Monday-morning quarterbacks concluded Hitler would have been easier to defeat if he had been opposed earlier.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Monday Snark

Writing at PJ Media, Stephen Kruiser coins an alliterative descriptor for the activities of AOC and her Squad. He calls it:

Commie Chick Shtick

I bet you can't say that five times rapidly, without tripping over your tongue.

Asking the Question

I reread the prior post and asked myself the following question. Why Russia has been unable to befriend Ukraine in ways that make the two nations natural allies? Proverbially, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. 

Let's explore possible answers to that question. Perhaps it is that, for whatever reasons, Russia cannot match the bourgeois affluence of France and Germany. The higher standard of living in the West might be the draw that entices many Ukranians to identify with the EU.

Perhaps it is Putin's natural affinity for autocrats like Belarus' A. G. Lukashenko. Maybe the people of Ukraine want a multiparty representative government as is common in the EU, not a president-for-life in the style of Russia's Putin.

Maybe Ukraine remembers the Holodomor, the artificially created famine attributed to the Soviet leader Stalin which some say killed 7 million in Ukraine. It was roughly 90 years ago, but the bitterness lasts.

Or just maybe it is because Russia wants the people of Ukraine to be Russian in everything but name, and that desire is only shared by a minority of Ukrainians. A majority of Ukrainians believe they have a separate identity to go with their somewhat separate language.

Actually, all of those are good reasons and perhaps all are partially responsible. Nevertheless, it would seem that a charm offensive would pay more dividends than a military invasion. 

I can't imagine the prospect of repressing an unhappy Ukraine into the indefinite future seems attractive. Putin must view it as the lesser of several bad choices he has.

Russian Motives in Ukraine

RealClearWorld reprints a very interesting discussion of “the world as Russia sees it.” Some key points arise from the study of two maps of Russia and its neighbors. The first is a population density map of the world’s physically largest country.

Russia, however much it purports to be a “Eurasian” country, and despite holding extensive territory in Asia, is fundamentally and will always be a European country. Think of Moscow as the eastern extremity of Europe. Russia has far more in common with Europe than it does with its Asian neighbors, like Japan, China, and Mongolia. Europe’s geopolitics matter to Russia because the vast majority of Russia’s population lives in Europe.

The second map is topographic and makes clear there are no mountain or water barriers of any military consequence between the English Channel and Moscow, an area geographers call the Northern European Plain. European Russia has been invaded repeatedly across this plain, causing great suffering and death they do not forget.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin says things like, “The collapse of the Soviet Union was the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the [previous] century,” he is not bemoaning the fate of the global proletariat (much to Lenin’s dismay). He is lamenting Russia’s loss of its strategic depth – a loss Putin has spent his entire rule attempting to correct. No matter who is President of Russia, no matter what his or her ideology is, Russia has an imperative to expand to the Carpathians either politically, or with military force, to ensure the defensibility of its territory. It always has, and it always will.

Author Jacob Shapiro thinks Putin doesn’t really want to invade Ukraine, but will if he can achieve “strategic depth” in no other way.  We should know soon enough if the author is correct.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Birds of a Feather

Anybody who's listened knows National Public Radio is deep, deep blue - very progressive and liberal. That said, here is an article from NPR about people moving to states where their politics are in the majority that is ... believe it or not ... relatively balanced. 

They report both liberals and conservatives are moving to states, or parts of states, where the dominant local politics are like their own. As longtime COTTonLINE readers know, this is a hobbyhorse I've been 'riding' for years. The DrsC made this sort of move in 2004 and never looked back. Some NPR thoughts:

America is growing more geographically polarized — red ZIP codes are getting redder and blue ZIP codes are becoming bluer. People appear to be sorting.

Political scientist Larry Sabato posted an analysis on Thursday that shows how America's "super landslide" counties have grown over time. Of the nation's total 3,143 counties, the number of super landslide counties — where a presidential candidate won at least 80% of the vote — has jumped from 6% in 2004 to 22% in 2020.

Put another way, Biden won 85% of counties with a Whole Foods and only 32% of counties with a Cracker Barrel.

Regardless of leaning left or right, people don't enjoy feeling like an outlier in their home town. Knowing the neighbors' votes will overwhelm yours, making your vote meaningless, isn't fun. Neither is local and state governments routinely choosing policies of which you disapprove.

Profound Personal Tragedy

Power Line's Scott Johnson shares some words from a new biography of Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Author Walter Stahr wrote:

Chase knew profound personal tragedy. By the age of 44, he had lost three wives to untimely deaths. After his third wife succumbed to tuberculosis in 1852, Chase never remarried. He also lost nine siblings and four children. 

My own grandfather buried two wives, and was buried by his third, who was my grandmother. When anyone today tells me they have it tough, I reflect on the almost routine tragedy experienced by those who lived before 1900.

As the life of Chase demonstrates, it wasn't just the poor and downtrodden who experienced the premature death of many loved ones. For all its faults, I'm glad I live in an age of antibiotics and outpatient hip replacements. 

Cold War: Dead or Revived?

Robin Wright has covered the foreign policy beat for 4+ decades, most recently for The New Yorker. Today she takes up the question of whether the Cold War actually ended, back in 1992 when then-President George H. W. Bush announced its death.

Spoiler alert: she reaches no firm conclusion. It turns out whether it ended or not depends on whether one views the Cold War as a clash of ideologies, or as a clash of nations and empires. 

If the Cold War was a fight to the death between Communism and Capitalism, between the dictatorship of the proletariat and freely elected representative governments operating in a multi-party environment, the answer is it is over, Communism lost.

If on the other hand the Cold War was a battle between the Russian empire, aka Soviet Union plus Warsaw Pact versus the West - the U.S. and its NATO allies - then no, it never ended. There was, to be sure, a pause, a lessening of hostilities, but no end. 

Putin has described the fall of the Soviet Union as the "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." He intends to "put the band back together," to reassemble as much of the old Soviet sphere as he possibly can. He has had some success in Crimea, Georgia, and Belarus. Ukraine - a major prize - appears to be next on his agenda.

Latter-Day Invasion Stripes

As we noted four days ago, the period of maximum risk for an invasion of Ukraine began about three hours ago, when the Winter Olympics ended. If we get through the next week without columns of Russian troops and vehicles entering Ukraine, it probably won’t happen. I have no independent source of information, clearly those who have such data seem to believe Putin will invade. 

British papers have photos of Russian military vehicles marked with a “Z” which are convoying toward the border. Several photos show the Z drawn inside a square box. What makes this symbology particularly interesting is that there is no letter “Z or z” in the Russian alphabet. 

Marking all vehicles with a symbol reminds me of the “invasion stripes” the Allies painted on their aircraft prior to the D Day landings in Normandy. This post explains the D Day rationale - telling friend from foe. It makes even more sense in the modern context since the Ukraine military operates mostly Russian-made vehicles and weapons making it difficult to distinguish attacker from defender units while “on the fly” and splattered with mud. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

A Whiff of Fascism

At the Legal Insurrection website, William A. Jacobson looks at the greater implications of Justin Trudeau's action to require all financial institutions in Canada to freeze the accounts of people identified as protesters in the trucker dispute. See what he wrote. 

He (Trudeau) suspended civil liberties in Canada, targeting peaceful protesters and anyone who supports them. Not because those supporters committed a crime, but because they supported the political opposition to Trudeau’s government.

Trudeau ordered all financial institutions to freeze the assets of his political opposition without court order and with full immunity from liability, and no financial asset was spared. 

Attorney General David Lametti seemed to say on CTV Wednesday that anyone who donated to Freedom Convoy could potentially face seeing their accounts frozen by the federal government.

When fascism comes to America, it will look like Justin Trudeau’s Canada.

Almost everyone today uses direct deposit for paychecks, retirement benefits, dividends, savings, etc., and buys most things via credit or debit card. Freezing accounts means anyone it happens to must almost immediately resort to crime to feed themselves, buy fuel, etc. 

This isn't good; it ignores "innocent until proven guilty" and forces the otherwise innocent into crime. We'd better make sure it can't happen here. It is bad enough happening next door.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A Reminder

The DrsC saw this bumper sticker on a pickup with Utah plates. It clearly enunciates our flyover fears of Californian carpetbagging.

Evangelical Wokeness

Sohrab Ahmari is the op-ed editor of the New York Post. Writing at, he makes keen observations about the pestilential phenomenon of "wokeness."

It’s hard to deny the religious characteristics of wokeness. The woke have their own liturgies .... They believe in original sin (slavery, colonialism) and exalt themselves as a sort of secular Elect and excommunicate heretics (cancel culture). They’ve built a hieratic structure, composed of high priests (the UCLA critical theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, say), popular preachers (Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo) and ordinary pastors (your workplace diversity consultants). And because theirs is a messianic faith, they are hellbent on imposing it on the rest of us.

A famous New Yorker cartoon caption captures my view of wokeness, "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."

An Endorsement

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has officially endorsed Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary in Wyoming. Hageman seeks to replace the current incumbent, Liz Cheney, who voted for Trump's impeachment and is serving on Speaker Pelosi's Jan. 6 witch-hunt committee. The Daily Mail (U.K.) has the story. 

Former President Trump has already endorsed Hageman. House Minority Leader McCarthy is one of the two most highly placed Republicans in Congress, the other being Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 

I'd guess we shouldn't hold our collective breath awaiting McConnell's endorsement of Hageman. It could happen but McConnell has spoken against the Republican National Committee's censure of Cheney.

Afterthought:  I doubt that endorsements carry a lot of weight with Wyoming voters.

Cruising During Covid

The DrsC have done dozens of cruises, both as paying passengers and as on-board lecturers. We haven’t done any since the Covid-19 pandemic began and I’ve wondered if we will ever go again.

Blogging at PJ Media, Ed Driscoll describes a Royal Caribbean cruise he and his wife took recently. It was likely of a week’s duration, typical for that cruise line. His description doesn’t make it sound particularly inviting, a mixture of normal cruise ship health cautions, pandemic ‘theater,’ and bureaucratic BS. 

We have a U.S. river cruise on the Mississippi booked for this October, postponed from last October, and we may cancel it. Getting sick was too easy on shipboard before the pandemic, I can’t imagine the situation has improved since.

When Friends Fight

Regular COTTonLINE readers know I follow the bloggers at Power Line and often, but not always, enjoy their viewpoints and their access to behind-paywall material I’m too cheap to pay for. Now two of the four fellows who post there - Steven Hayward and Paul Mirengoff - are angry with each other.

Apparently Mirengoff taking a dim view of someone Hayward really thinks is great was the camel’s-back-breaking issue, as seen in posts here and here. I guess commenters to the site are taking sides, I won’t do that here (or there). 

I have found contributions by both Hayward and Mirengoff useful on many occasions, and I agree with neither 100% of the time. I don’t share Mirengoff’s interest in soccer or baseball and unlike Hayward I have never tasted a whiskey I like. I’d hope that both can agree to disagree and keep doing their own things as before. 

The essence of the First Amendment is that people with whom we don’t agree nevertheless have a right to have their say. I’d estimate the two agree on most political issues but find those few points of disagreement very irritating. Since they live roughly 3000 miles apart, it shouldn’t be too difficult to operate in parallel without interacting.

BTW, my title for this post is an exaggeration, I am personally acquainted with none of the four but feel I somewhat know them having read their thoughts more or less daily for years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Weird Psychopharmacological Science

Instapundit links to a Medical Express report of research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine which found that treatment with psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," is efficacious for those suffering from depression.

Previous studies by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers showed that psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved major depressive disorder symptoms in adults for up to a month. Now, in a follow-up study of those participants, the researchers report that the substantial antidepressant effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy, given with supportive psychotherapy, may last at least a year for some patients. 

A report on the new study was published on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Good news for those with the can't-shake-'em blues. Sufferers are cautioned not to attempt such treatment in unsupervised, non-clinical settings.

Afterthought:  I have long believed a substantial portion of street drug usage is the result of psychiatrically hurting people self-medicating to either reduce mental chaos or achieve temporary oblivion. Maybe a few have inadvertently stumbled across an actual long-term palliative.

Status Update

We've not wintered over in the desert before this year, though we have RVed in Palm Desert and AZ in those months. Yesterday here in eastern Nevada we made a midday grocery run in short sleeves and were comfortable. 

N = 1 is too small a sample from which to generalize, but at least this year what passes for 'winter' here on the eastern edge of the Mojave was the months of Dec. and Jan. Even then, except when the wind was blowing hard, a long-sleeved denim overshirt was all that was needed. 

Meanwhile, this webcam photo shows what it looks like today at home in WY.

It is definitely worth the hassle of changing residences twice a year to avoid that much winter and the 110℉ summers in NV.

Ukraine Update

As we noted here earlier, there were predictions of war in Ukraine starting as soon as today. As I write this, it is already early evening in Eastern Europe and no invasion has been reported. 

The Beijing Winter Olympics concludes in four days, on the 20th. Some have speculated Russia would not want to steal ally China's spotlight by attacking during the Olympics.

If by the 22nd or 23rd there has been no attack I would judge the odds begin to shift in favor of a continued cold peace, in effect a Russian stand-down. We'll see what happens.

P. J. O’Rourke … RIP

A great American humorist - P. J. O’Rourke - has died, at age 74. The loss to American conservatism is hard to overstate. 

O’Rourke’s columns wrapping up our nation’s absurdities in each of the last several years were gems. At Power Line, Scott Johnson quotes a favorite O’Rourke put-down of American progressivism, of which he wrote:

Let us all salute (and be sensitive to the needs of) the shiftless, the feckless, the senseless, the worthwhileness-impaired, the decency-challenged, and the differently moraled. And hello to their leaders — progressive, committed, and filled to the nose holes with enormous esteem for themselves.

If those words don’t remind you of Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, of their shared disdain for the ass-hats who elect to screw up their own lives and the bleeding hearts who celebrate and enable that folly, you haven’t been paying attention.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

If It Can Happen in SF....

Voting today, the citizens of San Francisco have recalled the three members of their 7 member school board who were eligible for recall. The three losing their jobs are Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga.

It wasn't at all close, in each case more than 70% voted for ouster. The anti-woke parent revolt we saw first in the Virginia races is alive and well on the Left Coast. 

Some have designated the school board recall in SF as the year's most important election, happening as it does in a deep blue jurisdiction. I expect Republicans running in November to lean hard and often on the issue of dysfunctionally woke public schools.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Remembering Selket

From 1976 to 1978 we were living temporarily in a Maryland suburb of DC. I was doing a visiting stint as a government internal consultant, on loan from my university. Meanwhile my dear lady was doing PhD coursework at U. of  Maryland.

At that time there was a traveling display of King Tut's tomb artifacts at the Smithsonian we wished to see but the lines were notoriously long and tedious. On a Super Bowl Sunday like today we took a chance nearly everyone was watching the game, went and the wait was only a few minutes.

I write as this year's game is being played in Los Angeles and once again I'm not watching the game. But I am remembering the King Tut materials we saw that afternoon, and saw again at the Egyptology museum in Cairo roughly 30 years later. 

Both times I was particularly struck by a gold statuette of Selket, Goddess of Magic and the Underworld (photo here, scroll down). Amazing that notions of feminine beauty haven't changed a lot in 3300 years.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Winds of War

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports the U.S. will evacuate its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, as quickly as possible. DM quotes German source Der Spiegel predicting the attack can come as early as Wednesday. 

It has been suggested Russia would wait until the Winter Olympics finished in Beijing on Feb. 20, in order to avoid stealing ally China's spotlight. Perhaps that will not leave enough time to overrun Ukraine before the spring thaw.

The article includes a map of the region with likely invasion routes marked. We haven't seen its like for decades. 

Hat tip to Herman Wouk for loan of this post's title. I wonder if there are any Pug Henrys left to save our bacon. It's damn certain Joe Biden is no FDR.

Later: Several European countries have urged their nationals to leave Ukraine, following the U.S. lead in doing so. And neighboring Poland is permitting free entry with valid passport and, the State Department claims, proof of Covid vaccination.

About Wearing Masks

It is currently fashionable among us on the political right to be anti-mask. I had an atypical experience with face coverings and thus hold a divergent opinion. 

The other DrC doesn’t like masks (honestly, who does?) so she purchased clear plastic face shields for us to wear in lieu of cloth masks. We did so through the early months of the Covid mess. 

We quickly discovered we both speckled the lower front inside of the masks with tiny droplets of saliva, which dried and looked gross. We ended up Windexing the masks at the end of each outing. Eventually we tired of cleaning the shields and wore masks.

I doubt that we are unusual spit-sprayers, chances are most folks do it without noticing. I believe the main benefit of masks is intercepting the wearer’s spray. I have close to zero faith in the masks’ ability to filter inhaled air. 

As long as most folks wear masks, there is much less airborne saliva mist about, and that has to reduce contagion. When most no longer wear a mask, I’ll probably stop too since me wearing it was mostly to protect the others in my vicinity as their masks protected me

I haven’t seen this view written anywhere. As noted above, my opinion is both idiosyncratic and divergent.

Afterthought:  People who oppose face masks have called them "face diapers" as a putdown. Actually, if my conclusion above is correct, that is largely why they're useful. Like a diaper, they don't protect the wearer, but those around the wearer who don't want to be exposed to what the wearer is shedding.

About Ukraine

You are going to see people drawing analogies between Afghanistan and Ukraine. Quite simply, geographically and developmentally the nations are not analogous. 

Foreigners in third-world Afghanistan were more or less trapped when flights out couldn't handle the demand. Ukraine is a (relatively) modern country with passenger rail connections to 2-3 adjacent NATO countries, most directly to Poland. Flights are also available.

American citizens have been warned by our government to leave Ukraine, straight out with no qualifiers. Doing so is within the power of anybody who wishes to go. Those who choose not to leave stay at their own risk.

There may be a handful of people who are hospitalized or otherwise physically unable to travel and perhaps some minor effort to extract those should occur. 

I am disinterested in the plight of those U.S. citizens who claim their business or family obligations prevent leaving. If business or family obligations are more important than one's physical safety, so be it. That is a choice which, once made, absolves us of responsibility. 

Such individuals should expect the Russians to imprison them as CIA stay-behinds with local covers. It's what a Russian GRU sector commander would choose, and sometimes he'd be correct.

Mitch Vents, Mollie Disapproves

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently spoke against the RNC censure of Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger and by implication supported Pelosi's Jan. 6 witch-hunt committee on which both serve. While I don't agree with his sentiments, I was disposed to cut him some slack.

The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway writes a quite good column taking issue with his claims and has, I have to say, convinced me to cut him no slack. She doesn't defend those who actually rioted, trespassed, etc. They are under arrest and if found guilty will experience the law's penalties.

Some key points she makes:

All Republican elected officials should be working for the Republican Party and against Pelosi, not for her. McConnell not questioning the legitimacy of the committee, which has not a single Republican-appointed member, is insane and inexplicable. No reasonable person thinks the January 6 committee is conducting an inquiry but an inquisition.

Republican voters would like their leaders to meet the simple test of not calling them terrorists for engaging in peaceful political protest. They would like their supposed leaders to meet the simple test of not accepting the media’s routine lies about them but, instead, to fight vigorously against those lies. That McConnell failed so dramatically in this regard does not bode well.

I understand McConnell and Trump both found working together difficult, their styles are so different. Both are inclined to let that irritation show on occasion. 

Their mutual vendetta is unhelpful for the GOP, which I believe both wish well. In the phrasing of Archie Bunker, they both need to "stifle" the sniping and take their frustrations out on the Dems.

Hunkering Down

MSNBC and other sources are reporting that a Russian-owned super yacht - the Graceful - was in a German yard for luxury upgrades. The yacht, reputedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, suddenly left the Hamburg shipyard yesterday before the work was finished. It transited the Kiel Canal and sailed for a Russian Baltic port, Kaliningrad or St. Petersburg.

It is speculated this was done to put it beyond the grasp of NATO seizure in the event that Russia again invades Ukraine. Obviously no announcement of owner's intent, or identity, was forthcoming. 

An alternative explanation might be an intent to send a further gray-area threatening-but-short-of-war signal to the West and to Ukraine, amping up the pressure. And of course moving the yacht could serve both ends sequentially.

TMI Follies

Not everything we post here has to be deadly serious. Ed Driscoll, a frequent poster at Instapundit, has a fun item. It seems the mayor of Hudson, OH, disclosed more than he intended when the topic of permitting ice fishing on a nearby lake arose. He said:

If you open this up to ice fishing, while on the surface it sounds good, then what happens next year? Does someone come back and say ‘I want an ice shanty on Hudson Springs Park, for X amount of time?’ And then if you then allow ice fishing with shanties, then that leads to another problem: prostitution. And now you’ve got the police chief and the police department involved.

God forbid a married guy should have a shanty where his wife is unlikely to go. You just know he’ll have a snowmobile-riding tart on speed dial. 

I’ve never wintered over where ice fishing is a “thing.” Is commercial sex standard fare for ice fishermen, illicit fun while waiting for a bite?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Degrees of Connectedness

At his Insanity Wrap column for PJ Media, Stephen Green documents ugly stuff that has recently happened to Zuckerberg's Facebook and its parent company Meta, and more ugly is threatened by the EU. Somewhere the Winklevoss twins are sharing a high five. 

Full disclosure: The twins' dad - Howard (pictured in linked bio article) - and I were doctoral students at the U. of Oregon in the late '60s, and would go drinking together in the omnipresent rain. Later, the other DrC and I visited Wink and Carol in Philly where he taught at Wharton, before the twins were born. 

Wink's Wikipedia entry says his doctorate was in mathematics, which doesn't agree with my memory of him getting a business Ph.D. I know he studied with the B-school’s insurance guru Mark R. Greene, before Greene moved to U. of Georgia. Still, it’s over 50 years ago so (a) my memory can be faulty and (b) it no longer matters.

Weird Psychological Science

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology carries peer-reviewed research which shows the following not-very-surprising finding.

We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue.

Individuals with Dark Triad traits-Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy-more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies.

They forgot to add that Dark Triad individuals - claiming virtuous victimhood - are instinctive Democrats. Perhaps that observation was considered too obvious to mention.

One View: War Probable

Are you up for reading a thoroughly pessimistic analysis of the Russia-Ukraine conflict? One that sees war as essentially inevitable? I’ve got your link, at RealClearDefense. As a result of an analysis the major points of which they spell out, the authors reach three conclusions excerpted below.

First, there is not simply a possibility of war but a high probability of war.

Second, NATO should prioritize the capabilities that most disrupt Putin’s plans, specifically UCAVs, anti-air and anti-tank missiles, medium-range rocket and missile launchers, and electronic warfare equipment.

Third, Putin’s incentive structure favors broader escalation if an attack fails.

This third point raises a chilling implication. If NATO does support Ukraine during conflict, Putin will broaden the conflict, attempting to escalate his way out and break NATO's will.

A betting person would not risk a lot of money on the proposition that NATO survives this sort of challenge intact and invigorated. The temptation to throw Ukraine and the Baltics under the bus will be too great for some member states to resist.

N.B.: I present the ideas above for your consideration. I neither endorse nor dismiss them.

Two Scofflaw Policies

Writing for RealClearPolitics, political scientist Charles Lipson notes the logical way two seemingly separate issues become merged in the public consciousness.

It’s not just urban centers where law enforcement has collapsed. It has shattered along the southern border, thanks to Biden’s policies.

Voters now see this combination of open borders and open doors for shoplifting, smash-and-grab, carjacking, armed robberies, and murder as intertwined policies. Dangerous ones that disregard our laws. The public associates them with the Democratic Party, concludes that the administration is failing, and says it expected something far different, far better, far more moderate from Biden, given his campaign promises.

Most presidents see their party in Congress take a beating in the midterm election two years after their own election. Is it because most presidents are a disappointment; having over-promised to get elected, and consequently underperformed once in office? That’s my working hypothesis.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Build Back Bolshevik

Posting at Instapundit, Stephen Green comes up with a very snarky name for Biden's multi-trillion dollar "human infrastructure" bill. It's the one Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refused to support. 

Biden called the gigantic wish list "Build Back Better." Green calls it "Build Back Bolshevik," a "take no prisoners" label.

Unrequited Love

About the current issues in Ukraine, Politico has a good long article laying out the history of the peoples of both Ukraine and Russia. Honestly, reading it will probably be TMI for most with a casual interest in the region. I do, however, very much endorse the following sentiment.

What can you do when your former imperial master declares that it cannot live without you? Putin’s historical article from last summer is essentially a statement of unrequited love and illustrates Russia’s core problem vis-à-vis Ukraine: It thinks of itself not as a nation but as an empire.

Imperial ambitions are not easy ones to give up, certainly Putin hasn’t lost them. In Putin’s plaints, I’m hearing echoes of Britain’s former talk of India as the jewel in its imperial crown. It is unfortunate Kiev/Kyiv was the long-ago capital of the entire Rus (Viking) nation, when Moscow was still a remote backwater.

Poor Peru

Poor Peru, a place with electoral politics so messy the voters last election chose a non-politician school teacher as president. Not surprisingly, now he’s been in office for some months it is clear that as a non-politician he has no clue how to make Peru’s government function. He has churned through 3 cabinets in 6 months.

Parts of Peru are relatively cosmopolitan and even marginally 21st century, other parts are almost pre-Colombian. It is home to Machu Picchu and the Nacza lines - world class archeological sites by any standard. In times past it played host to the violent Shining Path Maoist guerrilla movement that was suppressed at quite a cost to civil liberties.

I liked the country when I visited there, but after it being something of an oasis of prosperity for quite a period, it now seems to have sunk back into the political miasma that sadly typifies Latin America. As I've noted before, in the absence of proof I’m inclined to blame lingering elements of Iberian colonialism for many of the region’s problems as well as much of its charm.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Red Shift

The Daily Mail (U.K.) does a nice job of synthesizing various data sets to look at Americans moving from high-tax states run by Democrats to low-tax states mostly run by Republicans. As they note:

Low or no-personal-income states such as Utah, Montana, Arizona, South Carolina, Delaware, Texas, Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina all saw population gains of 1 percent or more.

Meanwhile, District of Columbia and New York - the only two to raise personal income taxes in 2021 - shrunk significantly in population.

The states with the highest personal income taxes, California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Illinois, experienced the most staggering population losses.

It's called "voting with your feet."

A Data Point

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports President Biden today renewed his pledge that, should a Russian invasion of Ukraine occur, the NordStream 2 pipeline would not go into operation. That pipeline is designed to bring additional Russian natural gas to Germany while earning Russia much needed foreign exchange.

Interestingly, DM also reports the words of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"We're acting together," the German chancellor said. "We're absolutely united and we will not take different steps. We will do the same steps."

Scholz did not however mention the pipeline in his remarks.

The Great Resignation

Considering it is CNN, this article on "The Great Resignation" isn't too bad. It notes that some 2.5 million people have left the job market for a variety of reasons, including Covid. Others have quit to either find or take better jobs with more pay, better hours, better perks.

One factor omitted, I hesitate to say on purpose, is the number of people who have opted to home school their children, necessitating an adult staying home with the kids. Given the disrepute in which the public schools are now held by many parents who seek something beyond government-funded child-care-plus-indoctrination, those numbers may be considerable.

Another factor omitted was people moving to places with lower cost of living (mostly housing) and working from home via computer and the Internet. Lower housing costs in rural or flyover locations may mean one parent can afford to not work. Ceteris paribus, a parent at home leads to better child outcomes.

Window Closing

A window of opportunity is closing. If Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine in the next month, it probably won’t do so until very late spring or early summer, if at all. The spring thaw turns the unpaved parts of this region into a swamp in which wheeled vehicles bog down and movement is problematic even for tracked vehicles or foot soldiers. 

Worrying about the weather seems old-fashioned, but when the issue is movement of men, machines and material across open country, it matters. “General Mud” is a remorseless opponent, one who serves entropy.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

All In the Family? Not Really

I was rereading Friday’s post about Liz Cheney’s (very) limited future in Republican politics, and began thinking about the whole subject of dynastic politics, or what happens when politics is the family business.

Mostly, in the U.S. it hasn’t worked out well. Examples that come to mind include George W. Bush whose father was also President, and Al Gore whose father was a Senator. I’d add Mitt Romney whose father was a governor who unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination. 

The Kennedy brothers did well, if you can overlook two of the three being assassinated, but the next generation has been a bust. The jury is still out on Rand Paul, whose father Ron was a maverick congressman. 

I suppose we should add Hilary Clinton as a failed presidential candidate. And while it wasn’t on the national level, as CA Governor Jerry Brown couldn’t hold a candle to his father Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown.

I conclude that politics-as-family-business is largely a flawed model in the U.S. and maybe elsewhere as well. On the other hand, an objective observer would judge Nancy Pelosi has had a successful career and her father was a mayor of corrupt Baltimore.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Last Stand

In an article in The Federalist, Jonathan Tobin describes Liz Cheney’s attempt at reeection in 2022 as “The Last Stand Of The Ancien Regime Republicans." His contrast of the Bushies with the modern GOP is spot on.

Wyoming conservatives understand that Trump’s populist defense of the working and middle class is a better fit for the party than one that seemed more in line with the interests of Wall Street.

I predict in August Wyoming will give its GOP House nomination to Harriet Hageman. Then Rep. Cheney decides if she will run as an independent, which might be a write-in effort. 

She could be deluded enough to try, but the party is no longer her dad's GOP. The political 'tectonic plates' have shifted, the neocon “corporatist” types have left the building.

Miles' Law

Various sources are reporting former President Trump is unhappy with his Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to act in his capacity as presiding officer of the Senate to block acceptance of the 2020 elector counts sent by the states.

Pence claims to have believed he did not have that authority. He most likely is correct in that belief. What you see is an underlying stylistic difference in the two men's behaviors. 

Trump believes it is easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission. In other words, do it, and there's a good chance it will be okay. If it isn't, apologize and try something else. This approach probably worked for him as a developer and assembler of deals.

Pence has a different history and tries not to get out ahead of what he knows will pass muster. In a career in government Pence found that has worked for him. Pence's decision makes sense to career politicians, Trump's doesn't.

I take no position on which man was correct. I do believe each sincerely believed he was in the right, and finds the other's position troubling, perhaps even baffling. It is Miles' Law in action.

The Logic of Hydroelectric Power

Some additional thoughts about Wednesday’s post on the superiority of hydroelectric power. All renewable power sources are ways to harness the sun’s power to generate electricity. With direct solar power systems the link is obvious, but no power is generated during hours of darkness, heavy cloud cover, or with snow on the solar panels.

Sunshine powers the wind, and much of the time it blows either too hard or not hard enough for wind turbines to function. Renewables like wood, biodiesel and ethanol are likewise sun-dependent, but put carbon in the air when burned - thus are not clean.

The only clean and reliable sun-powered energy source is hydroelectric because sun-evaporated water falls as rain or snow in the mountains, is trapped there by reservoirs where it waits, and generates power on demand when we let it fall through turbines on its way to lower elevations to be used for various things like drinking, bathing, and irrigation. 

Why all the above isn’t obvious to decision-makers is unclear. Some blame the Sierra Club and their green fellow travelers. A conspiracy theorist would believe some sort of “fix” is in place to prevent it happening.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Poll: Brandon as WOAT

The Washington Examiner has new polling data from Rasmussen Reports and Gallup - the Examiner’s headline isn’t a bad summary.

Biden in 'worst president ever' territory

Some juicy details from the Democrats’ debacle:

As Rasmussen Reports said in its latest analysis, “Most voters think President Joe Biden is one of the worst ever to hold the office, and rank him below his two immediate predecessors in the White House.”

Collectively, satisfaction at the start of 2022 in a variety of areas is about as bad as it's been in two decades of Gallup measurement.

If GOAT decodes as “greatest of all time,” WOAT must be … Joe Biden. Annnnnd hapless Jimmy Carter loses his last claim to notoriety. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Not Beanbag

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports former President George W. Bush is donating to the reelection campaigns of RINO Republicans Liz Cheney (R?-WY) and Lisa Murkowski (R?-AK). I'm not sure who would be surprised by these actions.

I fully expect Bush 43 to actively help every anti-Trump Republican running in 2022. Trump never much disguised his lack of respect for Bush's meager accomplishments, which look even worse in hindsight than they did at the time. 

Human nature suggests 43 would reciprocate in kind. In terms Finley Peter Dunne popularized, "Politics ain't beanbag" but is played for keeps.

Dam It

The cleanest energy we utilize is hydroelectric power, produced by falling water spinning turbines. It is the ultimate solar power as it works round-the-clock.

The sun creates the evaporation which builds clouds, the clouds produce rain and snow, those fill reservoirs, the reservoir water spins turbines, and no ash, carbon dioxide nor radioactivity is created as a byproduct. It is the original renewable technology, it works very well, and yet in the search for clean power it is scorned.

If California was sensible, every major canyon dropping west out of the Sierras would have a dam on it, controlling floods, producing power, and storing water for CA’s more-than-occasional droughts. If those had been built, think of all the hydrocarbons we would not have to burn to produce needed electricity. 

Those who oppose hydro power argue that beautiful valleys are drowned, which is true. However, beautiful lakes are created and those have recreational potential too. Yes, so-called "wild rivers" are tamed, making life less fun for rafters, a small price to pay and balanced by the new fun water skiers and boaters have. 

I spent most of my adult life downstream from a chain of hydroelectric dams on California's Feather River. I never once regretted them. 

Damn it, we need more dams. 

Zucker Out at CNN

Various news sources are reporting that CNN President Jeff Zucker has resigned, effective immediately. The reason given, a previously undisclosed romantic relationship with his “closest colleague.”

Most U.S. sources aren’t reporting that colleague’s identity, but The U.S. Sun has this:

The woman in question was Allison Gollust, CNN's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. She is said to be remaining at CNN.

The Sun adds, somewhat cattily, that both Zucker and Gollust are divorced. In recent years the cable network Ted Turner founded has fallen on hard times, having lost its airport monopoly and lagging far behind competitors MSNBC and FoxNews in viewers. 

Later: Another website suggests the Zucker/Gollust affair was the reason they both divorced, which timeline puts a different spin on the story.

Even later: The New York Post calls the long-running Zucker/Gollust affair “the worst kept secret in TV.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Ground Hog Day

Tomorrow is ground hog day, and it appears that ol' Phil from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, won't see his shadow, since the northeast is under a storm watch. Legend has it that outcome suggests an early spring thaw. 

The ground hog/marmot/woodchuck is actually an oversized ground squirrel. The myth that these rodents can predict the weather apparently came with the misnamed Pennsylvania "Dutch" who were ethnic Germans.

I have watched a colony of ground hogs, or their alpine relatives, along the north shore of Lake Yellowstone, where they bask in the sun. They hibernate through the long high-altitude winter, as do their more diminutive  relatives, the Uinta ground squirrels locally known as "picket pins." 

History Note: The first serious federal presence in Yellowstone after its designation as a national park was a unit of cavalry. If you tour the old buildings of Mammoth Village in northern Yellowstone you'll see the officers' quarters, barracks, stables, etc. of a late 1800s U.S. Army post called Fort Yellowstone. The nickname "picket pin" comes from the ground squirrels' upright resemblance to the metal pegs these cavalrymen used to tether their mounts.

Later: Reports are Phil did see his shadow, so six more weeks of winter are predicted by this folk indicator.

Friedman's Guess

COTTonLINE's favorite foreign affairs analyst, George Friedman poses an interesting theory on what Russia is trying to accomplish with its threatening troop build-up near Ukraine.

Russia’s intention might have been to simply divide NATO so deeply that it could never be repaired. Considering the Europeans are unwilling to financially sustain the alliance, the U.S. doesn’t trust its members to share all the risks, and with the general economic forces driving Europe apart, Russia doesn’t have to try all that hard to divide the alliance.

In support of this notion, Friedman notes:

If NATO shatters, the Russians think they will take control of Ukraine without risk. From the viewpoint of Germany at least, the benefits of NATO do not compare with the benefits of access to natural gas. Germany, for one, cannot value NATO over gas.

Is Friedman correct in his supposition? We'll see. As he notes, the shift in European public opinion Putin might be counting on hasn't yet materialized.

Afterthought: I wonder if German industrialists hope to accomplish in Russia the conquest Hitler's legions could not?

Cultural Politics Matter

The website carries a Newsweek article in which Manhattan Institute polling is reported on the question of which issues voters care most about. 

In our survey, people were asked whether students should be taught that America was stolen from native peoples, and that the school they attend and houses they live in are built on stolen land. 90 percent of Republicans were "strongly against" teaching this, while Democrats were just about evenly split across the four response categories—strongly for teaching this, weakly for it, weakly against it, and strongly against it.

Author Eric Kaufmann observes that with respect to cancel culture and CRT, Democrats are split into two groups: cultural liberals (66%) and cultural socialists (34%). Cultural liberals' issues include: "free speech, due process, equal treatment before the law and elsewhere and the scientific method." Cultural socialists espouse: "protecting disadvantaged groups from offense while redistributing self-esteem and power."

Republicans of all stripes tend to share opposition to cancel culture and CRT. See Kaufmann's conclusion. 

Cancel culture and CRT split the Left and rally the Right, making these issues are a clear vote winner for the GOP.

Glen Youngkin, Virginia's new GOP governor, rode these issues to victory in a state thought safe for Democrats. Prediction: you'll hear a lot more about them in the campaign for the 2022 midterm election.

Looney Tunes

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is mostly known for a measured tone, as befits a law prof. Rarely he writes what he really feels without filters or holding back, like the following. 
The left is an endless fount of astonishingly stupid, socially destructive ideas, promulgated with a psychotic sense of moral urgency. They should be told to shut up and sit down until they can function as adults. 
Growing up isn’t the issue; research shows the left’s “out of touch with reality” problems are clinically psychiatric. Reynolds gets closer to the truth when he refers to us non-lefts as “normies.”

Geography Matters

Geography - where things are located - matters.Writing at the website, author Robert Farley examines Ukraine’s history to answer the question embodied in the column’s title.

Can An Independent Ukraine Exist Alongside Russia?

Farley concludes:

Ukraine can only peacefully exist in the context of a deeply weakened Russia. (However) the existence of an independent and autonomous Ukraine deeply weakens Russia’s security position.
In the same sense, a truly “independent and autonomous” Canada would “deeply weaken” the neighboring U.S. “security position” if for example Canada sought to become an ally of China or Russia. Hat tip to RealClearDefense for the link.