Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Tragic Kingdom

For The Federalist, Christopher Rufo writes that the Disney Corp. has a long history of pedophile employees being caught in stings and arrested. It makes sense that people with sexual feelings for children will seek employment where children are sure to be present, places like theme parks, the parks' lodgings, and cruise ships of lines catering to families - Disney, Carneval. 

Rufo names names and alleges company coverups. That history makes the company's current opposition to Florida's ban on sex ed in grades K-3 look especially suspect. 

I think it likely Disney will discover it has alienated a substantial bloc of customers. A former colleague who worked at Disneyland as a college student called it "the tragic kingdom." Echoing a phrase I wish I'd coined, "get woke, go broke." 

No Alternatives

Writing for Americas Quarterly, professor & journalist Pérez Correa takes Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to task for utilizing the military for a wide variety of security and other tasks, after promising not to do so. The points she makes about the risks of militarizing society are real enough, as has beens shown repeatedly in various Latin American countries large and small.

On the other hand, presuming AMLO doesn't want to let the cartels take over Mexico completely, what other choices does he have? The police are either on cartel payrolls or too frightened to do much. 

It's a country where the feasible alternatives are few, and presidents serve one 6 year term. A president gets elected, wants to do well for the country, looks around for meaningful ways to move things in a positive direction, and sees basically, the military and nothing else.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Lowering the Bar

We have observed that Joe Biden in office has made prior weak presidents (Carter, Obama) look better by comparison. It's good for Republican electoral chances but bad for our nation and the free world.

It should therefore be no surprise that Kamala Harris, likewise, has managed to make weak former Veeps (Biden, Quayle, Agnew) look better in the rear view mirror. The value she brings? Her shocking inability to successfully accomplish public presentations and manage a staff is probably all that stands between Joe Biden and the 25th amendment.

Afterthought: You’d be tempted to give the Biden team credit for intentionally selecting as Veep someone so demonstrably inept politically, as a way to protect the “big guy.” Mounting evidence seems to suggest they lack that much foresight. 

I fear Harris is what she seemed on first blush, a box-checking affirmative action hire. History shows being hired for “who you are” rather than “what you can do” often results in nonperformance. In show business terms, such hires are props, set dressing.

Inflation at the Golden Arches

When out for a drive the DrsC sometimes like to pull into a McDonald's drive-thru to buy a couple of their vanilla soft-serve cones. For a long time those have been $1 each, plus tax. Here in NV that came to $2.17 total, and was a good value.

This afternoon we pulled into MickeyD's, ordered two cones, had the $2.17 ready, and were told the price was now $4.34. They'd added a dollar to each cone, doubling the price. I looked at the lad, asked him to repeat the price, heard him clearly, answered "No thank you" and drove on. 

Perhaps we'll go back for more at some point, but it will likely be awhile. Right now it no longer seems "a good value." We have sticker shock. 

I blame Joe Biden, who has the doo-doo touch. Whatever he touches turns to fecal matter.

WaPo: Hunter Was Dirty, Joe Was Involved

Power Line's Steven Hayward observes that the Washington Post has quite recently followed The New York Times in itemizing the ethical shortcomings of Hunter Biden, and at least inferentially his father, Joe Biden. Hayward quotes the WaPo reporting as follows:

Over the course of 14 months, the Chinese energy conglomerate [CEFC] and its executives paid $4.8 million to entities controlled by Hunter Biden and his uncle, according to government records, court documents and newly disclosed bank statements. . .

The contract, signed on Aug. 2, 2017, stated that Hunter Biden would get a one-time retainer of $500,000 and would then receive a monthly stipend of $100,000, with his uncle James Biden getting $65,000 a month. . .

The potential energy projects Hunter Biden discussed with CEFC never came to fruition.

A few weeks after he went into business with the CEFC executives in the fall of 2017, Hunter Biden requested changes to the fifth-floor office space he was renting.

On Sept. 21, 2017, Hunter Biden wrote to a building manager requesting new office signage to reflect a new family enterprise and a new business relationship: “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC- US),” he wrote in emails to the property manager.

He also requested keys for his new office mates: his father, Joe; his mother, Jill (sic); his uncle James; and the Chinese executive, Gongwen Dong.

Actually, Jill Biden is Hunter's step-mother. It's unclear whether Hunter or the WaPo misidentified her as his mother. What is clear is that father Joe was intimately involved with son Hunter's 'consulting' activities, raking in massive Chinese bribes for doing nothing anyone cares to talk about.

Hayward holds the view that this "golly, look at the corruption" discovery by WaPo is part of a Democrat effort to get rid of Joe Biden, and he predicts similar revelations about Kamala Harris, perhaps helped along by CA Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Conspiracy Theory Alert links to a Daily Mail (U.K.) story that, if true, could really make your blood run cold. I have no idea if this is on the level, so here is what they've written.

New evidence has emerged Vladimir Putin and his highest ranking commanders are running the war in Ukraine from top secret nuclear bunkers. Movements of planes used by top Kremlin officials show Putin may be in a hideaway near Surgut, in western Siberia, it has been claimed. 

His defence minister Sergei Shoigu - who has been mysteriously absent for several weeks, sparking rumours about his health - is believed to be in a bunker near Ufa in the Urals, 725 miles east of Moscow, according to investigative journalist Christo Grozev. This theory is backed up by his daughter Ksenia Shoigu, 31, visiting Ufa for an estimated three days from March 22, with mounting speculation the defence minister is suffering from heart problems. 

The suspected use of the high security nuclear bunkers is concerning as it leads to suggestions Putin may be prepared to deploy nuclear weapons, a move that would lead to inevitable reprisals.

Makes you wonder if Ukraine kept one or two Soviet nukes hidden and has developed a delivery system. The situation could get very ugly ... very quickly. 

Leaving It All Behind

Politico has a human interest story with a current events flavor you might enjoy, I know I did. It is written by an American expat - Michele A. Berdy - who studied Russian in college, moved to Moscow 40 years ago and worked there, most recently as a journalist for the Moscow Times. She has now left with her dog. 

I'd thought the Moscow Times was Russian government English language propaganda like RT, she alleges it is not, and it is "registered in the Netherlands." Anyway, she'd kept her US passport current and felt in the current environment she had to leave. That "environment" includes a new law that anyone in Russia who prints or promulgates anti-government materials can be jailed.

She's done what journalists do, write a column out of her personal necessity, and it is quite good. She now resides and works - still for Moscow Times - in a Russian neighborhood in Riga, Latvia, which may not be much protection if the balloon goes up. 

Her column is a good companion piece to the earlier post about the "last train to Helsinki." Ms. Berdy took a van over the really bad Russian roads to Estonia, with a group of other escapees. The DrsC went by tour bus from Tallinn to St. Petersburg and those roads - like almost everything in Russia - are not maintained.

Bland Won

Power Line's Steven Hayward posts findings of a recent NBC News poll which show President Biden's approval ratings have struck a new low, compared to earlier results by the same polling organization. They don't add a lot to what we already knew.

Except this chart, which shows results I believe we haven't seen elsewhere.

The "disliked opponent" vote comprised some 34% of voters, and Biden was ahead +18 on that metric. The "liked candidate" vote comprised some 53% of voters, and Trump won that segment by +13. Bottom line, Trump was the more popular candidate but also the more unpopular candidate. 

Biden won by being less disliked which, memory suggests, was because he stayed out of sight in his basement and took few positions. To help Democrats running this November, Brandon should keep as low a profile as he can between now and then without his very absence becoming an issue. 

I offer the following caution. Registered voters were asked to recall their motivation 16 months prior, and we have every reason to believe some of them 'edited' their motivation based on Biden's lame performance since his inauguration 14 months ago. 

Some of the 26% who claim to have voted against Trump actually liked Biden then but feel his performance-in-office makes their liking look foolish in retrospect, as they now experience "buyer's remorse." TDS still seems defensible.

The Last Train

I don’t always like columns from Politico, but today they have an article written by an American writer who lives in Finland and who has been meeting the express train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki to interview the Russians disembarking. It made its last run on Sunday, and is no more, at least for now.

Apparently somewhere between hundreds and thousands of Russians have escaped their homeland via this train during the last month, lugging heavy suitcases off the train and not at all certain they’ll ever be able to go home. Many have ties in the west, friends, relatives, perhaps an employer Many speak passable English. 

Imagine yourself getting off a train in Toronto or Vancouver knowing you may never be able to return home. I suppose our Vietnam-era draft dodgers felt those feelings.

A quote I particularly liked, spoken by a 50 year old passenger:

My poor 81-year-old mother dreamed all her life for her country to be free. At the train station this morning she was crying as she said goodbye to me with the saddest words I’ve ever heard in my life. “I was born behind this wall, and now I will die behind it as well.”
The overwhelming sense of powerlessness helps you understand why Russian novelists are masters of tragedy. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

A New Experience

The DrsC had an appointment in Utah and drove over there this morning, noting that the wind was beginning to stir some dust. We had lunch, saw the medical folks, did some shopping, and headed home.

The drive home to NV brought us into our first Mojave desert dust storm. I estimate the visibility dropped to around 500 yards, certainly no blackout but kinda sorta bad nonetheless. 

I found myself thinking of scenes from the 1999 film The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and the uber-villainous Arnold Vosloo. Their sandstorms were more picturesque, this was mostly dirty wind. 

However, when I was putting the truck away I found tablespoons of wind-deposited sand on my garage floor, blown in around the closed door. These mini-dunes were plenty picturesque enough to be getting on with.

Peru Ungovernable?

The Financial Times writes that, in his first year in office, Peru’s President Pedro Castillo has been a disaster.

Since taking office last July, the president has rattled through four cabinets, four prime ministers, three foreign ministers and two finance ministers. (snip) No Peruvian president has made so many cabinet changes in their first year in office — and there are still four months to go. (snip) Aides, senior police chiefs, army officers and magistrates have all been caught up in the churn, suggesting the country is becoming ungovernable.

Castillo is incompetent or at best out of his depth. Before last year, he had never held elected office. A rural primary school teacher, peasant farmer and one-time trade union activist, he has always looked woefully unqualified for the job, say critics.

Yet the current turmoil did not start with Castillo. Peru has cycled through five presidents in as many years, with successive leaders becoming ensnared in an intensifying feud between the executive and legislative branches of government.

You could argue disgust with experienced politicians was why an outsider like Castillo was elected. No surprise, it hasn’t been a success; such choices rarely are. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday Snark

Posted by Ed Driscoll, a regular contributor at Instapundit. The meme reflects unhappiness with Disney Corp.'s rejection of Florida's new law banning sex ed. in public school grades K-3.

Poll: Hunter Laptop a Big Deal

Rasmussen Reports polling has looked at likely voters' attitudes toward the Hunter Biden laptop story. That story got new "legs" recently when The New York Times admitted it was the real McCoy, not Russian disinformation as had long been claimed. Key poll findings:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop containing emails about his business dealings is important, including 48% who think the story is Very Important.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters believe it’s likely – including 48% who think it’s Very Likely – that Joe Biden was consulted about and perhaps profited from his son Hunter's overseas business deals including at least one involving a company in mainland China.

More than half of the 93% with an opinion believe:

If the media had fully reported the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election, it’s unlikely Joe Biden would have been elected president.

Given all of that, you can understand former President Trump's frustration with the "vast leftwing conspiracy" reflected in his 2020 loss. Most of the media colluded to suppress information deleterious to his opponent while tech billionaires spent tens or hundreds of millions funding lefty vote harvesters to maximize the Biden turnout. 

Describing the 2020 election as "stolen" may or may not be a bridge too far. Calling it "rigged" certainly fits. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Stardust ... Reviewed

Last night the DrsC rewatched the 2007 film Stardust, with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro. I checked to see if I had reviewed it here years ago, and apparently I haven't. 

Stardust is a fantasy film, with Michelle Pfeiffer playing a really powerful and not particularly nice witch, and Robert De Niro playing a cross-dressing semi-pirate described by his crew of bravos as "a whoopsie." Claire Danes plays a star, not a Hollywood star but a bright shining light who comes from way up in the sky. 

Ricky Gervais plays a sort of comical fence and the male lead is a young man named Charlie Cox. The cameo parts are fun too, and feature good Brit character actors. 

When you're in the mood for something light, fun, and entertaining, Stardust is an excellent choice, and it has a happily ever after ending. The violence is treated light-heartedly and the romance is similarly not overly serious. 

Both Pfeiffer and De Niro really pull out all the stops hamming it up in fun. And if you happen to know of a source for Babylon candles, drop me an email.

More Saturday Snark

Long time readers know I am almost incapable of resisting a dig at weird-to-the-bone Oregon, which this wry image from Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures for Power Line provides.

Spring Has Sprung

Shock - almost a week ago I let a milestone pass unremarked. March 20 was the spring (vernal) equinox, the day when we experience exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. 

It is now officially springtime, and has been for 5-6 days. A happy time of long twilights is upon us, getting more so until around June 21. 

I've been sniffling from the pollen, which should have alerted me. I've been somewhat distracted trying to help the other DrC recover from a hip replacement which happened 2+ weeks ago. She's doing well.

As a hay fever sufferers, we get to 'enjoy' springtime here in NV in March, then we migrate to WY in May and 'enjoy' it there a second time. This is no new 'joy,' we experienced spring twice each year when we wintered in CA. There is a bit less pollen here in the NV desert than there was in springtime northern CA, which is nice.

We've already experienced our first 80 ℉ day here, while there is still snow on the ground in WY. We enjoy the "best" of two quite different climates, avoiding the extreme cold of WY and the extreme heat here.

Biden Bumbles Badly

Power Line links to a Breitbart report of President Biden's misstatements during his recent trip to Europe. The White House has repeatedly had to "clarify" Biden's hawkish comments, most recently walking back an apparent call for regime change in Russia.

This is the third time the White House has had to clarify Biden’s remarks during his trip to Europe.

On Friday, the White House reassured people that Biden would not send American troops into Ukraine, even after the president spoke with the troops about what they would see when they got to the country.

On Thursday, the White House had to clarify that Biden did not mean the United States would use chemical weapons when he said that if Putin used them the United States and NATO would respond “in kind.”

Ol' Blabbermouth Brandon could talk us into World War III without trying, or realizing what he is about. The rules for senators and presidents are quite different, a reality of which he appears to have no visceral understanding. 

Saturday Snark

A proven way to elevate the tone and lower the incidence of cray-cray in your place of business. Image courtesy of Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures at Power Line, from the comments.

Friday, March 25, 2022

About the Polish MIG 29s

There is a backstory concerning the MIG 29s Poland offered to give to Ukraine. It would have been a simple matter for Ukraine pilots who are checked out on MIGs to come to Poland and fly them home. But that wasn't what Poland offered.

Poland offered to fly the planes to a US air base in Germany, where the Ukraine pilots could pick them up and fly them home. Why the additional step, you may well ask?

Poland was concerned that Russia would view their gift as an act of war against Russia and an excuse to attack Poland. Their offer to hand off the planes to the US who would then give them to Ukraine ensured that the US was as much guilty of the transfer as Poland, and that would be sufficient to deter the Russians from invading Poland.

The US isn't willing to go to war with Russia over its attack on Ukraine, a non-member of NATO. So we nixed the MIG deal, on the off chance Russia would include us in their retaliatory attack. It is also possible that the US wasn't excited about replacing Poland's old MIGs with new F-16s as Poland had asked.


Another factor might be the offensive capabilities of the MIG 29, it has a 770 nautical mile range which equals roughly 1400 kilometers. The distance from Kyiv to Moscow is just over 800 km per Google Maps. 

Ukraine could choose to use their Polish MIGs to bomb Moscow in a sort of latter-day Doolittle nuisance raid, certainly justified from Kyiv's viewpoint. If that happened, who knows what Putin would do? Would he nuke Kyiv? He'd have to respond with dramatic force, when we'd like to see less escalation, not more.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Popularity Polling

Real Clear Politics surveys major, reputable polls concerning the favorability of current (and one former) political figures, and computes an average for each. Here are today's averages.

Biden, Harris, Trump, Pelosi, McCarthy, Schumer, and McConnell are ranked from lowest to highest based on the spread between "favorable" and "unfavorable." For all of these individuals, the unfavorables exceed the favorables, with the smallest negative number reflecting the highest approval.

Trump (-6.1)
Biden (-9.2)
Harris (-13.8)
Schumer (-17.0)
McCarthy (-19.3)
Pelosi (-21.0)
McConnell (-34.0)  

Hat tip to John Nolte of Breitbart for the link. Nolte writes some interesting interpretation of this data, which shows Trump the most popular of the bunch. 
Trump can oftentimes be his own worst enemy regarding likability. This is a very smart and charming guy who can also be petty, childish, obsessed with things that don’t matter, and entirely too abrasive for what many people see as the role of a president or even a former president. Nevertheless, he’s wiping the floor with the media-approved politicians, at least for right now.

Which Nolte follows with this snarky, tongue-in-cheek conclusion:

If Trump would simply tone down the abrasive side of his personality from 11 to, say, 7.5, he really could be president for life.

Miscalculated Logistics

Instapundit Reynolds posts extensive excerpts of a Wall Street Journal article (behind paywall) which look at a happy miscalculation made concerning the war in Ukraine. Western supporters of Ukraine assumed their arms support would be on the scale of, and similar to, what we gave the Afghans who were fighting Russians in their country (cf., Charlie Wilson’s War).

Western security officials say their strategy initially envisaged equipping a nascent Ukrainian insurgency—recalling the transfer of weapons to mujahedeen fighters who defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan—that would employ guerrilla tactics against Russian occupiers.

Instead, because Ukraine’s military has managed to keep Moscow’s forces at bay in much of the country, the task has become equipping a regular army engaged in a large-scale conventional war.

Before the invasion, weapons manufacturers weren’t geared up to make antitank and antiaircraft arms at a wartime pace. (snip) Militaries in Europe that have given their Stingers and antitank missiles to Ukraine now want to refill depleted stocks, creating competition for new units rolling off the assembly line.

Now, as the warfare appears to emulate World War II, defense contractors are racing to ramp up the supplies of antiaircraft and antitank weaponry and ammunition.

We can’t be sure it continues at this pace, but apparently the Ukes have expended a lot of ordinance, and we’re hearing of thousands of Russian casualties. At least the West can afford to replace the expended munitions, it isn’t clear the Russians can.

A Normal Step

Ukraine President Zelensky has recently taken control of the media in his nation, and banned political party activities. Since the largest opposition party in their parliament is pro-Russia, this makes a certain sense. Nevertheless, human rights advocates here and elsewhere have criticized the move.

I’d remind those who slept through US History classes that what Zelensky has done is nothing more than what President Woodrow Wilson did in World War I and FDR did in World War II. Both took control of media and made sure it was pushing the government line. 

Let’s remember that in each of the 3 cases above, the nation acting to limit media freedom was not the military aggressor or initiator of the conflict. The right of dissent is always severely circumscribed during all-out war, which is exactly where Ukraine finds itself at the moment. 

Censorship is an unfortunate but realistic response to an unfortunate human compulsion …. making war.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Goals and Expectations

Various people have asked what is our goal in Ukraine. I suppose most of us would like the Russians to pack up and go home, leaving Ukraine intact geographically, if relatively battered. This may not be a realistic goal.

If we can do nothing else, we can provide Ukraine enough support to keep fighting. It is something they’ve either chosen voluntarily to do or have been pushed into by Russian brutality.

Our model for this is Afghanistan before the Soviets left that benighted and pestilential place and we were dumb enough to take their place. We gave various Afghan tribes enough weapons to keep fighting Russians and it became the Soviet version of Vietnam, a quagmire.

On a relatively weak economy like that of Russia, realism should set in within a few months as the number of casualties and expenses in Ukraine climbs and sanctions continue to bite. Meanwhile Ukraine appears to be running the Finland playbook against Russia, with less preparation but something like the same success.

Afterthought: How long will it take the smart people in Russia to start drawing comparisons between their bad experience in Afghanistan, and what is now happening in Ukraine? Weeks or months?

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Tuesday Snark

Title of a Daily Wire article about Vice President Kamala Harris' difficulties as an employer of staff.

Her Office Has A Higher Turnover Than Taco Bell

Latest to leave, her National Security Advisor Nancy McEldowney. Very few members of her original staff remain, most have resigned or been shown the door. 

Somewhere the ghost of Prof. Lawrence J. Peter snickers knowingly.

Getting It Wrong

Writing in the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, James Carden remembers George H.W. Bush’s 1991 “Chicken Kiev” speech. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

Carden claims Bush “got it right” when he vowed to keep the U.S. out of conflicts between Russia and its various USSR-era de facto colonies like Ukraine. And that all subsequent U.S. leaders who were encouraging and supportive of places like Latvia and Ukraine were therefore wrong.

I have problems with Carden’s argument on several levels. First, anything based in today’s Hong Kong must be viewed as heavily influenced by Beijing, the column’s acceptance meaning his view is okay with the CCP.

At a more substantive level, the USSR must be viewed as a failed Russian colonial empire during which ethnic Russians migrated to and became residents of many of the colonial possessions. That de facto empire fell apart in the early 1990s, supposedly ‘stranding’ said Russians in now-independent countries with local majorities. 

When the British empire fell apart at the end of World War II, the colonial Brits who wanted to live as Brits went home, or migrated to places (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) that would provide a reasonable facsimile of British life. Those who stayed behind in places like India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and South Africa understood they would have to accommodate to the local majority culture. 

For some this worked out okay, for others not so much. And the process wasn’t so very different for colonials in the former empires of Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy.

Why should the rules for “left behind” colonial Russians in the Baltics, and other former SSRs be different? V. Putin has nominated himself as their “protector” meaning he will intervene to support their “rights” to continue to function as full-fledged Russians wherever they live. 

Putin needs to hear from us and from former colonial powers in the EU that “end of empire” doesn’t work that way. And mostly he has heard exactly that, and rejected it. In the column linked to above, Carden defends Putin’s choice and, like Putin, is simply and profoundly wrong.

Afterthought: At the macro level, anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism are supposed to be defining characteristics of the past 80 years. In the face of which Putin is trying to reassemble the Tsar's Russian Empire. Where is the outrage? 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Monday Snark

After linking to a Salena Zito column on rootedness in flyover country and its lack in DC and NYC, Instapundit Reynolds cracks wise about the swamp dwellers who inhabit the nation's capital.

Our political class keeps demonstrating the truth of Dana Loesch’s statement that it’s "hard to run a country you’ve never been to." Not that that stops them from trying.

To which I'd add the words "and failing, repeatedly."

Afterthought: A half century ago in a sociology class we learned about Robert Merton classifying people as "locals" or "cosmopolitans" which is another way of talking about those who are rooted and those who aren't. The DrsC are not especially rooted but we choose to live in places where many residents are.

Interview: Putin Insights

The German publication Der Spiegel interviews Russian political scientist Ivan Krastev about Vladimir Putin and Ukraine. Krastev’s insights about Putin I found very interesting, perhaps you will too. The whole interview is worth your time to read. Some samples:

Putin lives in historic analogies and metaphors. Those who are enemies of eternal Russia must be Nazis. And so, he was quick to portray the conflicts in the Donbas as a genocide.

In his understanding of history, things never happen spontaneously. If people demonstrate, he doesn’t ask: Why are they out on the streets? He asks: Who sent them?

When we take him at his word, he won’t surprise us anymore. If you read his essay from July of last year, in which he wrote that Ukrainians and Russians are a single people and he would never accept an anti-Russian Ukraine, you find out exactly what his intentions are.

He is part of the last Soviet generation. His job as a KGB agent was that of defending and protecting the Soviet Union. But he and his fellow agents were unable to protect it. (snip) They failed. I think he has a strong feeling of guilt.

If Putin had 'wooed' Ukraine instead of fomenting Donbas trouble and stealing Crimea, it would have been his cozy ally instead of a truculent enemy. Analogies about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar apply.

Poll: People Feel "Worse Off"

The March Issues & Insights/TIPP poll has some interesting results with a clear bearing on the midterm elections coming up this fall.

Are you better off today under President Joe Biden than you were a year earlier? And are you financially prepared for a downturn in the economy or a job loss? The March I&I/TIPP Poll suggests most Americans would answer "no" to both of those questions.

One in five (20%) said they were "better off." while more than twice that number — 42% — said they were "worse off." Another 36% said they were "about the same."

Just over a third (34%) of households report having no emergency savings whatsoever. Another third have enough for somewhere between 1-3 months expenses. Imagine the impact of the Biden inflation on this roughly two-thirds of the populace, who skate close to the financial edge.


An article in the Financial Times describes the accelerating impact the war in Ukraine is having on business. It is a process we might call by the inelegant term “deglobalization,” and was already underway before the war started.

From a geopolitical point of view, sending our manufacturing operations to poor countries only made economic sense if (a) there would never be war or supply chain disruptions and (b) you didn’t care what happened to the people who were doing the manufacturing here and who found there were no equivalent jobs to shift to.

First Covid interrupted the supply chains while many of the former factory workers overdosed on street drugs fueling a surge of “deaths of despair.” Then the attack on Ukraine caused a reappraisal of the pie-in-the-sky idea that war was no more, an idea exemplified by Francis Fukuyama’s debunked “end of history.”

If these forces cause the U.S. to repatriate our essential manufacturing then some good can come from the disruptions we are experiencing. A degree of autarky is no bad thing, although like anything else it can be overdone.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Joe's Bagman

With the New York Times finally admitting that the Hunter Biden laptop and the ugly stuff contained therein are the real McCoy and not Russian disinformation, new questions become relevant. For example, would the 2020 election have turned out the way it did if the media had pursued the story prior to the election?

Various Ukrainian and Chinese firms have paid Hunter millions, when he has no proven ability and is stoned most of the time. Basically Hunter Biden was a bagman for Joe Biden, his father. 

Foreign firms paid Hunter to buy influence with Joe who was, in sequence, a candidate for Vice President, Vice President, a candidate for President, and now President. Clearly Joe was and is someone worth influencing if you seek favors from Uncle Sugar. 

If Hunter is indicted for corruption, tax evasion, and/or failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, can Joe continue in office? If Hunter is not indicted, will the Department of Justice have any shred of reputation left whatsoever? Other questions suggest themselves, as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Grooming Democrats

Do you know the term "grooming" as it applies to sex? It does not mean looking nice in the hope that someone will have sex with you.

Grooming is what Ghislaine Maxwell was doing for Jeffrey Epstein. Namely, finding and coaxing underage girls into being willingly involved in sexualized encounters with Epstein and his prominent pals.

Grooming is also what Pakistani immigrant groups were (and are) doing with poor underage white girls from broken homes in the United Kingdom. Basically turning them into sex slaves and prostitutes.

Talking to children in the primary grades about sex is basically pedophile "grooming." Florida has passed a law banning this activity in the public schools. It also insists that whatever is done with sex ed in the public schools' higher grades be "age-appropriate" meaning not getting into the kinkier aspects of alternate sex at all, or at least not before the mid-teens.

One political party is outraged at this FL law, and I'm sure you know which one. It's Democrats, who support grooming - they have no problem with taxpayer-funded icky people trying to coax your kids into sex with adults and other inappropriate behaviors. 

To write that no Democrat has ever seen a deviancy that he or she couldn't support or at least excuse is only a slight exaggeration. There must be a couple of Democrat prudes somewhere, keeping their disapproval to themselves for fear of being shunned.

Friday, March 18, 2022

'Gray Lady' Down

Whoo-eee, it's fun to take the Mickey out of what was once our "paper of record." The Times gradually morphed into Democrat propaganda. Image courtesy of Power Line's Scott Johnson.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Ukraine Musings

Several times a day I check the news feed to see if Kyiv has fallen. I assume that will be the major hinge-point in this invasion.

As long as Kyiv is in Ukraine's hands or remains contested, it is still an invasion and a plucky defender fighting off the bad guys. Once Kyiv falls, assuming it does, then the events in Ukraine become something else. 

Become what? Perhaps Ukraine's army fighting rear-guard actions in the west of the country, retreating toward Poland and Romania. Perhaps a resistance like the Maquis fought against the Nazis in France. Perhaps nothing much at all, a sullen, beaten country with a Russian-speaking puppet government, pledging a fealty to Moscow sincerely felt by few.

The war begins its fourth week today, and so far Kyiv is still unconquered. That is a real accomplishment, and the Russians no longer look 12 feet tall.

Assuming Putin's minions eventually eliminate the Ukraine government, their "victory" may well prove pyrrhic - too expensive by half. We will watch with interest what transpires, and hope to remain an onlooker, rather than a participant.

Needed: A Fig Leaf

Regular poster Stephen Green approvingly posted this comment at Instapundit. Understand, neither Green nor Ehrlich is arguing Putin is no war criminal. Truth isn't always what the situation needs.

With Green's reference to Sun Tzu's "golden bridge," both are arguing that what's needed, if Ukraine isn't to die under a grinding Russian onslaught, is a way for Putin to claim victory, bring his troops home and stay in power. If we convince people Putin is a "war criminal," how can we make a deal with him? 

St. Patrick's Day

I am reliably informed today is St. Patrick's Day, although why this should matter to me is unclear. Neither of the DrsC has any known Irish ancestry nor much interest in spiritus frumenti.

In the decades when we were both faculty at a university* in CA, St. Pat's became the day when students attempted to get drunk early and stay drunk late. Bars opened in the morning and much green beer was consumed. 

It got so bad the university began to schedule its spring break, formerly Easter vacation week, such that the uni wasn't in session during St. Paddy's Day. The theory was that, if the kids drank themselves to death (actually happened on one or more occasions) or were in car wrecks, they were home or in Cabo and the school wasn't responsible even indirectly. 
*I fear our former employer has become the butt of some not-entirely-friendly humor, as seen in this Kurt Schlichter column for Townhall. Our students maybe partied harder than some others, but my exams and grade curve were plenty serious and I know there were teaching credential candidates the other DrC washed out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Impact of Ukraine on China

RealClearPolitics features the writings of Prof. Charles Lipson, and we've often found them to be worthy of mention here. Today he reflects on the implications of the Ukraine invasion on strategic thinking in China, with emphasis on its posture toward Taiwan.

His is a remarkably balanced and sensible analysis. One can only hope Xi and the leadership of China more broadly are drawing the conclusions Lipson suggests they should.

Sadly, Putin's less-than-stellar move into Ukraine shows leaders who don't feel much constrained to consider the views of their people sometimes do the not-sensible thing. 

In this connection, why doesn't the U.S. undertake an overt effort to taper down to zero our purchases from China? Why is no one suggesting this logical step? Several poor countries in Asia would be happy to have our business and, unlike China, they pose no threat to our interests.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

A Speculation

The other DrC has been looking at various recent photos of Vladimir Putin and has concluded, tentatively, that he isn't well. Others have reached the same conclusion. I'm less certain, and frankly, no American and damned few Russians know for sure.

For purposes of discussion, let's assume he has received a diagnosis that is terminal in the medium run, say 5 years give or take. ALS, Parkinson's, and many types of cancer would fit, and there are others. 

My immediate conclusion is that this would make him much more dangerous. It would explain his "rolling the dice" on Ukraine when and how he did.

Putin has at his disposal the world's largest country and third largest military. And he has, we are assuming, something less than 5 years to establish his place in the history of the Rus. So, he takes his best shot at reuniting at minimum Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, plus maybe Moldova and Georgia. 

If he wins he'll be remembered as 'Tsar' Vladimir. If he loses, maybe as a martyr who gave his all in a vain attempt to reunite the Rus. 

The thing about being an autocrat is that there is no retirement plan, you ride the tiger until you die - in office or being deposed. Recent examples include the Kims, Castro, Ghadafi, Chavez, Saddam Hussein, and Ceaușescu. 

Putin acts like someone who doesn't have time on his side. He has taken the kind of risk somebody already facing a terminal diagnosis is likely to find worthwhile. A lot of other people with no such diagnosis - Russians and Ukrainians - will die early as a result.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Home to Virginia

The DrsC have called Wyoming home since 2004, so you probably get TMI about our WY politics at this site. Apologies for dwelling on a local angle.

Fox News reports the theme of Harriet Hageman's primary campaign against Liz Cheney for the sole WY Republican House nomination. It is "Send Cheney home to Virginia." 

Hageman makes a fair point, Cheney has lived in VA more than in WY. Cheney graduated from high school there, per the article. She was carpetbagging when she returned to WY to run for office.

Hageman meanwhile has been endorsed by former President Trump and House GOP Leader McCarthy. Speaker Pelosi personally chose Cheney for her Jan. 6 witch-hunt committee. I'm thinking birds of a feather.

In the August primary I'll vote for Hageman. In the unlikely event Cheney should win the WY GOP nomination, I will leave the House section of my November ballot blank.

The Supposed NATO “Guarantee”

You hear politicians and diplomats say NATO guarantees the security of its members, with all pledged to go to the support of any member attacked. President Biden recently claimed our willingness to defend “every inch of NATO territory.”

Article 5 of the NATO charter supposedly spells out that guarantee. Here is Article 5, courtesy of John Hinderaker at Power Line, read it for yourself.

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Requiring each member nation to take “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force”  doesn’t exactly sound like a total guarantee to fight for another member. What if going to war to defend, for example, Latvia isn’t “deemed necessary”? 

What if a member country “deems” a non-binding resolution of support all that is “necessary”? Attorney Hinderaker thinks that clause can be interpreted in many ways, depending on who does the interpreting. 

I suspect many European leaders have privately viewed Article 5 as “we agree to hold Uncle Sam’s coat while he fights the Russians or Soviets or whoever.” And our Cold War presidents acquiesced in that interpretation.  

Post-Cold War presidents have been more insistent on non-trivial European military contributions to its defense. None more so than President Trump whose insistence earned him few European friends.

Recent unfortunate events in Ukraine have proven Trump was right and his European detractors wrong. It seems they believed their own ‘post-history’ propaganda - always a bad idea.

A One-Sided War?

HuffPost entitles a recent piece “There Is A Culture War - And The GOP Is Waging It.” No kidding, all by ourselves? 

The article makes fun of a Democrat poll that shows voters think Democrats have put too much energy into culture war issues. HuffPost rebuts this with a list of actions Republican state legislatures have taken to roll back culture war incursions made by progressives. With their usual lack-of-self-awareness, their incursions represent simple justice, and the GOP roll-backs are the “culture war.”

Each side believes it seeks only simple justice while the other is fighting a culture war. In truth, both sides are not only waging a culture war, both engage in propaganda and misrepresent the other’s motives.

Conservatives believe we had a good country and progressives disagree. Starting in the 1960s progressives began a “march through the institutions” to change it. Conservatives with varying degrees of success have fought to restrain or roll back the changes. 

Public opinion has changed over the past half century, become mildly more progressive. However, what the poll finds is that the Democrats have gotten out beyond where the electorate is currently. This enables conservative legislatures to enact roll-backs as has happened in TX, FL and some other states. 

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Culture War continues apace with both sides fully engaged and each side winning the occasional battle.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Poll: Pump More Oil, Gas

Rasmussen Reports polling is on a roll tonight. Check out this finding.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 70% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the U.S. government should encourage increased oil and gas production to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and gas. Only 18% oppose a policy of encouraging U.S. energy independence, while 12% are not sure.

The Biden White House is out of step with the nearly three-quarters of Americans who favor increased U.S. petroleum production. High prices at the pump have a wonderfully clarifying effect on public opinion.

Top Voter Issues

Posted by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds. The top five reflect voter priority given to issues where Republican candidates are viewed as stronger.

Global Warming ... How Fast?

Power Line's John Hinderaker posts the above chart from the University of Alabama, Huntsville which shows the temperature of the global lower atmosphere - measured by satellites looking down - available since 1979. The "lower atmosphere" is where we humans live. By way of explanation Hinderaker writes:

The satellite data only go back to 1979, but that is now getting to be a considerable length of time, 42 years. This graph from Dr. Roy Spencer’s web site tracks the global average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly on a running, centered 13-month average basis.

Over the 42-year period, global average temperature has increased at a rate of 0.13 degree Centigrade per decade. At that rate, it would take 80 years for average temperature to rise one degree.

Geological evidence shows the earth's temperature has risen and fallen essentially forever, since long before humans existed. The big player in this fluctuation is our sun, which is variable within a fairly circumscribed range. 

Climate alarmists greatly overestimate human ability to influence temperature in either direction. A cynic would say their views reflect "hubris."

The Autocrat Follies

Yahoo News carries an article from the Independent (U.K.) which claims Putin has put under house arrest the top two guys in the FSB. FSB is Russia's current name for the KGB spy outfit. The two men's offense? Supposedly not warning Putin that Ukraine would put up a stout defense.

That is the problem with serving autocrats, they insist you tell them what they want to hear and replace you if you don't. Then, when events prove what you told them was in fact false, which you probably knew if you were good at your job, you are blamed for the bad info. There's no winning, unless what the autocrats want to hear happens to coincide with the actual facts in the field, as it mostly does not.

Another Brit paper carries a story remarking on Putin's recent bloated appearance, anomalous decisions and insistence on sitting far from visitors. The Daily News speculates all of this is caused by steroid treatment for cancer or perhaps early stage Parkinson's.

The U.S. isn't the only country suffering from problematic leadership.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Crowded Tent Issue

Ours is a de facto two party system. The two major parties are famously considered to be “big tents,” a reference to the range of people, ideas, classes and values crowded into each.

Realignments occur when the range of ideas being accommodated in either party becomes too broad. When pursuit of the minimum tolerable demands of one coalition partner conflict with pursuit of the minimum tolerable demands of another.

My mental image is of two somewhat bulky people trying to stay dry under a one person umbrella, inevitably someone gets crowded out into the rain. Democrats are feeling this conflict now.

Who gets pushed toward the other party are not the extremes. Rather it is those in the middle, those who already share some views of the other party.

One of the D’s major coalition partners, the Greens, demand party policy discouraging the use of fossil fuels - coal, oil, and gas. Another traditional D coalition partner, the working class, finds this is escalating their cost of living faster than their wages are rising. Buttigieg telling people who can barely afford a used Honda to buy an electric Tesla feels as elitist as Marie Antoinette suggesting cake as a substitute for bread.

As noted yesterday, Democrats meeting the environmental and social demands of the now-dominant leftist alumni coalition is conflicting with pursuing the economic and social needs of their traditional non-college coalition. As a result, the latter are migrating to the Republican tent where more of their needs can be accommodated.

N.B., Trump in 2016 was much less the initiator of this process than he was a beneficiary who saw it happening and was welcoming.

A Reminder

Tomorrow night around about this time we all set our clocks forward one hour, and begin to operate on daylight savings time. I say "we all" but nearby Arizona doesn't. 

Most of AZ stays on Mountain Standard Time winter and summer, but clocks on the Navajo Reservation - aka "the Big Rez" - are reset with the rest of the nation. This is likely because that reservation extends across parts of three states - UT, AZ, and NM - and it is administratively easier when the whole Navajo Nation is in the same time zone.


A fair few conservatives kvetch about switching times and advocate some form of doing away with clock changing. It never bothers me much. I notice mealtimes are a tad "off" for a few days and then everything settles down and makes sense. 

Maybe one reason it doesn't bother me much is the DrsC have done a lot of overseas travel - some 120 countries at last count. There was one month we circled the globe - 24 time zones - heading west the entire time. We flew to Singapore, cruised from there to Rome and flew home. Another time cruising home across the Pacific from Asia we lost an hour every other day for over a week. 

Another reason might be that we've resided in two adjacent time zones for the past 27 years, so we experience the clock adjustment four times a year instead of twice for people who live all year in one place.


The other DrC claims, with some justification, that anytime we cross more than 3 time zones the adjustment period takes a day for each zone starting with the fourth. So for example flying off the U.S. west coast over the pole to Frankfurt, you've crossed 8 time zones and it takes about 8-3 = 5 days to adjust completely.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Ukraine - a Grim Assessment

Christopher S. Chivvis is a war gamer who studies strategy and is said to be the former "US national intelligence officer for Europe." Today he writes for The Guardian (U.K.) an especially pessimistic analysis of what he believes are the two most likely outcomes in Ukraine.

Outcome one is a further escalation by the Russians leading eventually to a nuclear exchange, perhaps limited to theater, perhaps wider afield. Outcome two is a bitter peace with a puppet government in Kyiv and pressures to oppose that outcome in various ways leading to Russian reprisals perhaps in the Baltics or Scandinavia. See his bottom line:

The chances that Putin emerges strategically weak are real. But that does not mean the US can win. It will have to settle for a picture that is much uglier than it was before the war, and the sooner Washington accepts that, the better.

I wish I could point to obvious holes in Chivvis' analysis. 

Ds Losing the Working Class

Ruy Teixeira is a political scientist and most famously coauthor of The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002), the thesis of which he has subsequently disavowed. Today he writes for Substack a column in which he summarizes polling data showing Republicans becoming the multi-racial party of the non-college working class. He writes (links in the original):

Democrats have generally comforted themselves that their poor performance among the working class was purely a matter of white working class voters, who they presumed were motivated by retrograde racial and cultural attitudes. But since 2012, nonwhite working class voters have shifted away from the Democrats by 18 margin points, with a particularly sharp shift in the last election and particularly among Hispanics.

In a just-released Morning Consult/Politico poll, voters were broken down into three categories: noncollege, Bachelor’s degree only and postgraduate. Biden’s approval rating was just 37 percent among all working class voters, but 55 percent among the BA group and 63 percent among the postgraduates.

A recent Data for Progress poll shows this pattern extending to the generic Congressional ballot and a hypothetical rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024.

After all, what is the point of a left party that cannot command the loyalty of the working class and therefore plausibly claim to represent its interests?

The conclusion Teixeira fails to draw is that the Democrats have become a party driven by the values and policy choices of left-leaning college alumni, which are often antithetical to the interests of the working class.

Personal aside: Not all college alumni lean left, the Politico poll noted above found 45% of BA holders and 37% of those with post-graduate degrees don't approve of Joe Biden. The DrsC are proud members of this latter embattled minority.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Who Are the Patriots?

Quinnipiac University polling is well-known. Recently they learned the following: 
Americans were asked what they would do if they were in the same position as Ukrainians are now: stay and fight or leave the country? A majority (55 percent) say they would stay and fight, while 38 percent say they would leave the country. Republicans say 68 – 25 percent and independents say 57 – 36 percent they would stay and fight, while Democrats say 52 – 40 percent they would leave the country.

I'm relatively certain the situations are not geographically analogous. Ukrainians can move to an supposedly safe adjacent NATO country by train or car or even in some cases on foot. If North America is invaded, does anyone believe either Canada or Mexico would be a safe haven? I don't.

I suspect a better question would be one that presumes there is no feasible way for most Americans to bug out, and instead asks would you resist the invaders or keep your head down and try to get along as best you can. I'd guess the results wouldn't be so very different from those above, revealing who would be the quislings.

Ugly Truth

Guy Shepherd writes for Spectator World a brutal assessment of European geopolitics. It isn't even a little nice, but I fear it is accurate.

The whole column is worth your time, here is the Cliff Notes™ version:

The story of history is the story of the Strong Man plundering the Weak Man. In short, if you can’t defend what’s yours, it’s not yours. This is how borders are drawn and peoples forged.

And Shepherd concludes:

It’s time for Europe to man up. It’s time for you to stop imagining a world you cannot afford or defend unless you go from 2 percent of GDP to 20 percent. If you do this, you’ll like the European Man in the mirror, and the nineteenth-century men — and the nations they command — just might leave you to enjoy your peace and prosperity.

V. Putin is a prime example of "nineteenth-century man." 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Covid and Miles' Law

New York Times columnist David Leonhardt has written (in a newsletter affiliated with the Times) the following about approaches to the Covid virus. Hat tip to for the link.

Daily life in red and blue America has continued to be quite different over the past few months. It’s a reflection of the partisan divide over Covid-19.

These stark differences have created a kind of natural experiment: Did Omicron spread less in the parts of the U.S. where social distancing and masking were more common?

Leonhardt notes that mask wearing, school closures, restaurant diner spacing, and working from home were all more common in blue areas than in red. Nevertheless, the impact of all this Covid "theater" seems to have been minimal in terms of number of reported cases. 

Nationwide, the number of official Covid cases has recently been somewhat higher in heavily Democratic areas than Republican areas, according to The Times’s data.

When I look at all the evidence, I emerge thinking that liberal areas probably had slightly lower Omicron infection rates than conservative areas. But it is difficult to be sure.

Not only have Democratic voters been avoiding restaurants and wearing masks; they are also much more likely to be vaccinated and boosted (and vaccines substantially reduce the chances of infection). Combined, these factors seem as if they should have caused large differences in case rates. They have not.

What Leonhardt completely fails to consider is that population density is much higher in blue areas than in red. Cities tend to vote D while exurbs and rural areas tend to vote R. Suburbs do some of each, with those closer in and denser voting more D than those less dense and farther from the city center. 

As the very high rates of infection in extremely dense New York City show, population density is the biggest factor in spreading Covid as it increases one's exposure to others. High density involves getting people out of their socially distanced autos and into dense strap-hanger public transit and high-rise elevators.

I believe the blue areas behaved rationally, given their high densities. Less Covid anxiety in less dense areas justified somewhat less emphasis on masks, distancing, staying home, etc. so the red areas acted in ways that made sense for them. 

The politics of Covid are a coincidence, actually both reaction to Covid and political choices are largely driven by population density. It is yet another of the many corollaries of Miles' Law - where you stand is determined by where you sit. In this case "sit" means where one is registered to vote.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Russian Oil Ban Predicted

Various sources are reporting the Biden administration will finally get around to banning the import of Russian oil. The practical effect of this on Russia will not be great, but we’ll feel better about where our oil-purchase dollars are going.

We’ll buy someone else’s oil exports and Russia will sell their oil to whoever was previously buying the oil we now buy, someone with fewer scruples about its source. The technical term for this property is “fungible,” meaning interchangeability.  

Was it only thirteen months ago the U.S. was energy independent, actually exporting petroleum products? Yes … yes it was. As a result of the Zuckerbucks-rigged election of 2020 we are told we voted for the mess we now inhabit. Hard to believe, isn’t it?


Meanwhile, the Russian army is exhibiting Potemkin village-like properties in Ukraine, not precisely covering themselves with glory. The famous 40 mile column of stalled vehicles pays tribute to the Russian proclivity for ignoring maintenance. 

It’s something the DrsC observed when visiting western Russia. We saw many large buildings in serious need of upkeep, the sort of caregiving that enables buildings to last. 

For whatever reason, paint-up and fix-up doesn’t seem to be in the Russian DNA, perhaps it’s an unfortunate legacy of Soviet central planning. It rewarded completing projects, at the expense of maintaining them once completed. 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Truth in Humor

Image courtesy of Steve Hayward's The Week in Pictures
at Power Line.

I found this funny. Then upon further reflection, I sussed out what the UN does. It gives small and/or poor countries the feeling they have a voice in world affairs, which is of course an illusion. 

The permanent members of the Security Council have an actual voice, the others merely have a place to vent. Plus it's an excuse for a few of their elite to live a charmed life in a first world country, with all expenses paid and scofflaw diplomatic status.

Saturday Irony

The following is adapted from the Comments section of Steve Hayward’s The Week in Pictures at Power Line.

For most, life is an STD. For all, it proves 100% fatal.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Doomsday Scenario

Writing for The Federalist, strategist Harry Kazianis describes the results of many war games playing out the eventual outcomes of the invasion we are now experiencing in real life in Ukraine. It is one of the most profoundly pessimistic analyses I have ever read. Here is the money quote:

Can we ever defeat Russian President Vladamir Putin in an armed conflict over Ukraine or the Baltics and not start a nuclear war in the process?

So far, over at least several years, and with at least 100 different participants that all held different ideas about war and political allegiances, the answer is a flat out no.

To which he adds the following hyper-fatalistic coda: 

In every scenario I have been a part of there is one common theme to all of them: When Vladimir Putin feels boxed in and feels Russia is directly threatened, usually from a mistake he makes on the battlefield, he decides to use whatever escalatory step he desires to try and make up for it.

The only question in a NATO-Russia war seems obvious: how many millions or billions of people would die?

Wow! (Irony alert) Didn’t that conclusion simply make your day bright and shiny? Especially if you live in a major population center you know will be targeted for annihilation. Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for the link.

An Irrelevant President

I noted yesterday that I didn't watch Joe Biden's SOTU address on Tuesday. I suppose I felt I had to explain not watching. 

Tonight the Daily Wire is reporting that only 38 million Americans watched it. By my calculations that is roughly 11% of our population, roughly one person in nine. 

It turns out that most people made the same choice I made, and no explanation on my part was necessary. Who knew?

The most recent popularity surveys show roughly 7 people in 20 think Biden is doing an okay job. I have to think their version of "okay" is a president one can safely ignore, a nonentity. 

Flamboyant Trump was hard to ignore. Biden makes ignoring the POTUS easy, lots of days he has no press availability whatsoever.

So Biden gives his ballyhooed set-piece SOTU speech during a time of international warfare and 8 people out of 9 give it a hard pass. That right there is some serious, world-class ignoring.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Trump's Positive Qualities

The American Mind is published by the Claremont Institute, perhaps the foremost proponent of conservative thought in the U.S. Thomas D. Klingenstein, the Institute's Chairman of the Board writes an appreciation of the evident leadership qualities of Donald J. Trump. 

First and foremost, his undiluted pro-American stance, which people sense is heart-felt. And among others, his unabashed masculinity and his willingness to say exactly what is on his mind, without worrying about hurting feelings.

Klingenstein argues that, whoever the GOP nominee is in 2024 - Trump or someone else - that person needs to have most of the fierce traits Trump has already demonstrated. It's an interesting column, not what everyone is writing at this stage. Perhaps it is worth your time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • I didn't watch the SOTU speech, masochism isn't my thing and Joe Biden's no treat to watch. Those who earn their living in journalism get paid to take that form of abuse. I do it as a hobby and thus get to pick and choose which parts to track and which to give a hard pass. 
  • Regarding Ukraine, I'm reading that Russian troops are reluctant to massacre Ukrainians. I suppose U.S. troops would feel that way if ordered to invade Canada. A lot of "othering" goes into a willingness to take part in genocide, maybe they didn't get enough anti-Ukraine propaganda or maybe it wasn't doable. 
  • I persist in the belief that a Russian charm offensive would have produced better results in Ukraine than an invasion. Was it even tried? If not, why not?
  • Answering my own question, perhaps because Putin believed Ukraine deserved brutal punishment for not meekly toeing the Russian line.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Generic Ballot Predicts Catastrophe

Chris Cillizza is widely denigrated by conservatives as a Democrat political operative masquerading as a journalist. I only bring that up because he has written, for CNN, an article in which he predicts dire outcomes for Democrats this November. Hat tip to for the link.

Cillizza writing this article leads me to two conclusions which have nothing to do with his topic of forecasting the midterm election. The first is that the new boss at CNN really does want the cable net to focus on hard news and eschew the progressive propaganda it has featured over the last several years. The second is that Cillizza has "read the room" and concluded he prefers to remain at CNN and to leave it at a time of his choosing.


That said, what exactly does Cillizza conclude about the so-called "generic ballot," defined as whether voters intend to vote for a D or an R come November?

When the Democratic edge is five points or less on the generic ballot, the party has experienced major seat losses in midterm elections.

Now consider what the House playing field might look like with a Republican edge of seven points on the generic ballot. (Among independent voters, largely considered the swing votes in elections, Republicans have a 14-point edge on the generic ballot in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll.)

Cillizza considers the Democrat's prospects for November to be "catastrophic." He adds, of course, that much can change between now and November. Still, it's no coincidence that some 31 Democrat members of the House have "read their room" and announced they will not run for reelection. 

Afterthought: Who knew Cillizza could perform actual journalism? I believe we see here an example of B.F. Skinner's maxim that creatures do what is rewarded, however unnatural that behavior might superficially seem.

Wisconsin Investigates

The legislature in Wisconsin authorized an Office of Special Counsel to investigate irregularities in the the 2020 voting and vote counting procedures. It was headed up by a retired state Supreme Court justice. 

The group found significant irregularities in both procedures and the targeting of Zuckerberg get-out-the-vote monies solely to heavily Democratic counties. The Federalist has an excellent article which details some of those problems.

Nobody in authority is claiming these problems will overturn the 2020 election results. The purpose of the Office of Special Counsel is to determine what was irregular and suggest to the legislature what laws it might enact to correct or prevent these in future elections.

Other states with out-of-pattern results might well emulate Wisconsin's forthright action in examining what was done, with similar results. The 2020 election was anomalous, no question. I doubt we will ever know with certainty if it was, in John Kass' words, "rigged" but many believe it was hinky.

Perhaps historians will conclude the outcome was a wave of Karen-ish rejection of a president who was a flamboyant reality TV star with a penchant for marrying super models and posting mean Tweets. It is otherwise hard to explain how a masked machine politician could be elected president after desultorily campaigning from a basement in (?) Delaware.