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Where Do We Go from Here?

January 31, 2022

When I vaulted into the blogosphere nearly fifteen years ago, I was brimming with naïve middle-aged bravado. I’d fire the shot that would rouse America’s moderates from their slumber. I’d inflame them with righteous rhetoric like some latter-day Patrick Henry. I’d exhort them to do battle with the extremists to the left and right of us. Finally (and most importantly), we moderates would build a movement that would clear the way for common sense and fairness to dominate our politics. We might even win the more reasonable liberals and conservatives to our cause.

After some initial press coverage and supportive gestures from fellow moderate bloggers, The New Moderate flourished for a while, generated plenty of heat in the comments section, and satisfied my urge to spread moderation across the land. I was finally doing what I had expected to do after earning my master’s in journalism all those decades ago: writing my own brand of incisive, colorful, sometimes over-the-top political and cultural commentary in the shadow of my long-dead idol, H. L. Mencken.

Well, we all know how that turned out. Moderates are more marginalized and intimidated than ever, bullied into near-silence by sniffish wokesters and hard-boiled right-wingers alike. I’ve found it impossible to generate anything resembling a moderate consensus; we’re just too independent a breed to travel in a herd. No amen corners for us… no worshipful huzzahs for our standard-bearers. My readers can’t even agree on whether I’m too far left or too far right to qualify as a bona fide moderate.

So what is to be done, as Lenin famously asked during the birth of a different revolutionary era. My advice, for what it’s worth: de-escalate. The only way to deal with a dangerously politicized culture is to stop obsessing about politics and encourage others to do the same.

I’m sorry, but viruses, vaccines, guns, women’s bodies, perfectionism, grammar, the Oscars – even race and gender – have to stop splitting us along political lines. There’s nothing inherently political about any of the aforesaid issues.

I can remember when a “community” was simply a geographical place populated by neighbors from all walks of life. Today the word has come to mean a tribe of virtually interchangeable individuals “who look and think like us.” That has to stop. And we stop it by 1) shedding our tribal labels and 2) being neighborly enough to engage with people who DON’T look and think like us.

Just talk to them as one human to another: ordinary people with families, dreams, hardships, passions, regrets, humor, pet peeves and common interests. No labels, no clinging to “identity.” Simply talk, share your experiences, listen, and understand. Eventually the heat will dissipate, and just maybe we can be neighbors again.

Easier said than done? Most likely, but we simply can’t afford not to give it a try. 

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate. His brilliant, dark-humored (and inexplicably overlooked) essays are available in three e-books for the ridiculously low price of $2.99 each. They’re available on Amazon and wherever else e-books are sold. 

90 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron P permalink
    February 1, 2022 12:13 am

    Rick, when you began your moderate message, that is really when the cable news and internet began spreading fringe positions, mis-truths and down right lies. Where Fox News did not split us, MSNBC was able to do it. There is not one major news outlet that I have watched in the last 10 years that does not twist the message by leaving out parts of the story right down to lies that never took place. And where the news does not do that, social media does. Money talks while the truth is silent. Spotify is an excellent example because they know Joe Rogan has questionable messages right down to total incorrect information and will not get rid of him due to the $100M contract they have for his podcast. When you have this going on in the media, traditional or social, being someone trying to spread a message of moderation, truth and engagement of those with differing opinions, one has to realize those that don’t want to engage in information just stop tuning in.

    So you get stuck with a handful of readers that have vastly different positions in politics that result in your being too liberal or too conservative, vastly different ways of communicating from those that comment now and then to those that comment multiple times a day and maybe some readers that read what you say, but never comment. Some of us even think it is impossible to agree and then we comment on a subject and find we are not that far apart, it is just the manner in which we comment that seems to present that illusion.

    But your postings do allow a place for the handful of followers to share their ideas and in some ways agree when it seems impossible that will happen.

    And maybe a miracle will happen, the news will become more centrist, our politicians will start working for all Americans and not special interest groups dividing the country as we have seen for the past 13 years, educators will just present facts and stop placing fancy titles on subjects that allows for attacks to occur on basic subject matter and your readership may grow as the moderates become more in play.

    Whatever happen, I do enjoy your comments.

    • Vermonta permalink
      February 1, 2022 7:17 am

      I entirely agree with your comments Ron. Yeah, I am on leave, and have been good about not looking at the news. But I did look in this morning to TNM and of course its irresistable for me not to say something. So, Bravo Rick and Bravo Ron.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 1, 2022 11:15 pm

      Thanks, Ron. You’re right about the timing of the media’s move toward the fringes. (Just as I was getting started… in fact, that’s part of what prompted me to get started.) Extremism is simply more appealing to our inner tribal savages, and in an angry country, that’s a surefire ratings booster. I’m hoping the extremists at both ends “jump the shark” — going so ridiculously extreme that they alienate many if not most of their former comrades. It’s starting to happen already, but the extremists are still well entrenched — at least for now.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 1, 2022 11:27 pm

        Just remember, many countries that have been more of a democracy have ended up under a dictatorship after the extremist voted in presidents and prime ministers that were to their liking. For example, Venezuela.

        Could it happen here? It would be harder, but not impossible. Just look at those that follow Trump. If he is reelected in 2024, one has to wonder what will he do to try to stay in office after 2028.

      • February 6, 2022 5:39 pm

        You can hope as you wish.

        What “Jump the shark” moment do you expect from the Right ?
        What I see is the right – including the fringe right LEARNING from past mistakes.

        As the left plays a game of whack-a-mole using big tech to try to censor everything from slightly left of center to the far right – the right – and particularly the far right becomes ever better at evading these constraints.

    • February 6, 2022 3:23 pm

      What is it that you think Joe Rogan is incorrect about ?

      I really do not get why anyone HERE would be attacking Rogan ?

      There is probably not a single significant public voice that is more MODERATE than Rogan.

      Fundimentally Rogan is a liberal – that would be older school liberal.

      He is not some right wing loon. He is NOT a bomb throwing extremist.

      While he IS being slowly red pilled by the lunatic left – as are myriads of other liberals.

      People like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibi, Tulsi Gabard, Alan Derschowitz, Dave Rubin, Barri Weis.

      All of these are people who started on the LEFT. Most still identify as LIBERAL.

      Each of those – and many many other LIBERALS are being TARGETED by the lunatic left.

      • February 6, 2022 3:25 pm

        Oddly Rogan is what one would have Hoped that Rick would have been.

        And actual no BS forum for MODERATE voices well argued.

  2. Vermonta permalink
    February 1, 2022 7:48 am

    Hi Rick, short and sweet, your core message. I like it and of course agree. Since you don’t read comments you probably do not know that I have enforced a news black out and a politics blackout on myself until April, and maybe longer. So far I have been good, no news. And, its wonderful.

    But I did look in this morning and saw your comment. So, let me say that while I have not been reading the present day news I have been reading history, which is a really depressing thing to read in many ways. Then, last night, as a a respite I was reading Thurber, a fellow whose humorous writing give me joy. As it happens a friend of ours moved back to Moscow and left us with a lot of books and one was a Thurber, My World and Welcome to it, that I did not own. The second part of it concerns his travels in France and Italy between the wars. He wrote some more serious things there. He was once a newspaper reporter in France, so he was not just spinning his wheels. He describes the early events of Franco and Mussolini firsthand. It got me to look up Franco and his revolution, which I had known little about and forgotten that little. Between Franco and Mussolini, there is a cautionary tale for us. Particularly in Spain, where the extremes grew more extreme and finally society broke down and hundreds of thousands died, soldiers, civilians, atrocities. Franco never left power and chose his successor.

    Could we come to that? Yes. I can give a depressing list of the Revolutions in my lifetime, that caused nothing but pain. Lebanon comes to mind, a peaceful prosperous place and then, a nightmare. Vietnam, Cambodia, the arab spring, Korea. Before my time, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, England, the world wars, our own Civil War, and on and on back through history past Hannibal.

    It made me reflect on how unusual my life and times have been and how fortunate.

    We really could go there, American Civil War II, its no joke, humans have done it over and over. Its going to take serious effort to avoid that fate. The fact that 90% of the population now has a “device” that they stare at in every free moment, and that device supports itself with clickbait and must catch people’s attention with provocative headlines and distorted stories (even in science, such as astronomy and physics I get a lot of real nonsense), where was I? I lost myself. Ah, the news, as Ron chronicled, has become even more pervasive and more distorted, and no one seems to have a way to disengage their profit motive from their propaganda machine. I sort of long for the old days when it took a week or more to find out that something had happened in France.

    Lets pray, however one does it, that this peaceful (at least on our own soil) prosperous American time continues for our children to live in. Tuning out the news is a start, spreading good feelings among people you encounter is very helpful, and seeing most members of groups you disagree with as being, unfortunately, brainwashed, rather than stupid or evil, is a more positive way to understand events.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 1, 2022 11:45 pm

      Roby: Believe it or not, I do read comments here for the first few days after I post a column, and I usually respond to everyone at least once. After that point, I skim the comments… and once Dave gets going on one of his streaks, I tend to bail out.

      I share your fear of impending civil war, or at least serious civil unrest based on hyperpartisan intolerance. It’s easy to imagine a motley militia of right-wingers attempting to install a Republican president, January 6 style, when their candidate loses — and they could succeed next time. It’s almost as easy picturing a left-wing army storming the Capitol and causing civil unrest if Trump (or a Trump-like Republican populist) wins the next presidential election.

      How could this happen? I blame the social media and biased cable news stations for promoting the extreme self-righteousness at both ends of the spectrum. There’s no more sense of accommodation, no more willingness to accept the outcome of an election. This trend ties in with what seems like an unrelated issue — identity politics. How? Both identity politics and our current hyperpartisan mess stem from myopic self-interest. (All that matters is what WE want!)

      Like you, I’ve gradually been disengaging from politics. As I wrote in a recent column, my time on this planet is growing shorter, so why ruin those remaining days by engaging in petty squabbles? I do still keep an eye on larger events, and I probably always will. But like Doctor Zhivago, something in me wants to take that train to the Urals and enjoy the pleasures of private life.

      By the way, I was a big Thurber fan back in college and in the years that followed. I should read him again for his wonderfully eccentric brand of sanity.

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 2, 2022 7:03 am

        Rick on a lighter note, Thurber for me is like Twain. Both men have an astounding ability to use the English language and combine literary genius with outlandish senses of humor. One area where Thurber comes out ahead with me is that I can reread his humor pieces over and over and I always have the same deep mirth. Twain had a piece, the Incredible German language (or something like that) and I nearly peed myself the first time I read it, gasping with laughter. But if I reread it now it won’t hit me as hard. Thurber, he just does not wear out. That is genius.
        Did you ever read this one?

      • Rick Bayan permalink
        February 3, 2022 1:35 am

        Roby: I hadn’t read this Thurber gem before, even though it’s included in “The Thurber Carnival,” which was my first glimpse of his world. In fact, I thought the story sounded more like E.B. White at first. (The two were alike in many ways, but Thurber was usually more overtly whimsical than the buttoned-down White.) Of course, as the story progressed, the comical details started piling up in Thurberesque abundance. And yet there was still a “kinder, gentler” quality about his tale. I really need to pull my “Thurber Carnival” off the shelf, dust it off, and start enjoying him again.

  3. rondabellelane permalink
    February 1, 2022 9:05 pm

    Needless to say, I agree. I read this last night, but waited to post & see what others may say…

    I can add little, except that I still follow the news – but I tend to comment less in some places where the “brainwashed” reside. I do know your frustration though, and your desire that some here restrained the rhetoric rather than literally taking over your excellent site.

    For others who may not know, Rick can’t see comments on his email like the rest of us – a glitch in this system and in his old email prevent this, and he is forced to scroll down on the site to see comments – an impossible task, especially considering one verbose individual. I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating that is, and most likely a main reason he isn’t on as much. I have no idea if he will continue to post monthly – many different ideas are being considered, but he continues.

    This is an excellent site, and most of the writings here are worth keeping. Half of me hates the frustration of that computer issue, and the other half sees the value here… I suppose it’s the perfect position for a ‘cynic’.

    • February 1, 2022 9:30 pm

      When I was having problems posting and seeing comments, I set up a second email with a different name. I then went into TNM, read the post, then commented, filling in the new email address and clicking the two boxes at the bottom.. I think I had to register that iemail n Word Press, but I was able to read comments and post comments.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        February 1, 2022 10:04 pm

        Well, if interested, Rick can try that – but he may be more into simply writing his blog and only replying a few times (just spoke to him) – he does have a lot on his plate.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 2, 2022 12:25 am

      Thanks, Ronda. It wasn’t a computer glitch that’s kept me from seeing comments in my e-mail in-box. I simply haven’t elected to “follow” The New Moderate because, hey — it’s my site and I know exactly when I post a new column. Anyway, my e-mail in-box is already swamped beyond my ability to keep up with all those messages.

      The computer glitch, which was really a WordPress glitch, is probably responsible for the drop in our traffic. For whatever reason, search engines found the site to be “unstable” and forced most of us to do somersaults to find our way back inside. I think it had something to do with my using outdated WordPress software, but then (problem #2) I can’t update it because WordPress asks for my password (which I never had to use in the early years). I can’t create a password because WordPress still has my old (extinct) e-mail address on file (so I can’t confirm it by e-mail. Exasperating, but I think the “unstable” issue resolved itself somehow.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 2, 2022 1:27 pm

        Rick, my problem getting to TNM with my tablet was at one time the site said http://www…..or something to that effect. it did not have the https required to identify it as safe. For some reason that indicator is back and I have no problems getting to it on the tablet now. I can even comment on the Amazon fire tablet which I could not earlier. The desk top always allowed me access since I have virus protection.

  4. Savannah Jordan permalink
    February 3, 2022 12:51 pm

    Rick, I always enjoy your column. I don’t think there is much hope of changing people’s minds. I have never been able to change the opinions of even my family. But your eloquent and cogent style of writing gives me comfort. One thing I think would break the deadlock in Congress, and perhaps make people more receptive to change, is to impose term limits – three 6-year terms for senators and four 4-year terms for reps. Of course, all this would require Congress to change the constitution and impose restrictions upon themselves. Don’t see this happening. I have been reading about the death of the Roman Republic and how the Senators became somewhat useless and then Caesar emerged to restore order and productivity,

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 3, 2022 10:19 pm

      Thanks, Savannah. About ten years ago there was a brief movement to hold a new constitutional convention. The purpose was to create new articles and/or amendments that would prohibit members of Congress from taking lobbyists’ money and serving as lobbyists after leaving Congress. I think the group also recommended term limits. None of these items would ever pass a Congressional vote, so that’s why they took it outside the reach of the legislative branch. Unfortunately, the movement never got off the ground.

      • February 6, 2022 1:12 pm

        There is an active movement to call a new constitutional convention.

        Depending on who is counting and how – there are somewhere between 2 and 15 more states needed to call a convention.

        Short of repealing the 1st amendment there is little you can do about lobbyists.

        Even if you crafted some anti-lobbying amendment – it would still run afoul of the first amendment – which would leave the courts to sort it out.

        As important as I think the courts are – it is in our best interests to solve things without resorting to courts.

        I have discussed in the context of elections support for processes that avoid the need for the courts.

        I favor runoffs in close elections – rather than court battles.

        The courts exist as the last resort before violence in resolving conflicts in the law or constitution.

        They are not there to decide what the law or constitution SHOULD say.
        Only what it does.

    • February 6, 2022 12:57 pm

      I have no problem discussing changes, and might agree with some of yours.

      But my goal is NOT to “break the deadlock” – it is to increase it.

      Rick rants that everything is political.

      IF we choose to do something through government IT IS POLITICAL.

      The bitterness of our current conflicts stem from the idiocy that whatever the problem – Government is the answer.

      Political gridlock is a critical means of thwarting the use of government aka FORCE, where we have not sufficiently justified that use of force.

      I support term limits – primarily as a means of breaking up the institutions of power in government. NOT as a means of getting more done.
      I want LESS done in government.

  5. Pat Riot permalink
    February 4, 2022 7:02 am

    Yes, de-escalate. Too many people tricked into thinking in terms of left-right, left-right, and then they’re marching (or shouting in a mob!) This short comment was a test because I wasn’t able to comment previously.


  6. Pat Riot permalink
    February 4, 2022 11:50 pm

    Hi Ron! A toast to Rick and the New Moderate–good writing and insights in an age of sloppy clickbait articles that are nothing but provocative titles and no substance.

    Rick, you mention moderates “don’t travel in a herd.” Yes, that’s indicative of critical thinking and our ability to recognize nuance and varying contexts that more roguish extremists trample over in their herds.

    If we think about when humans “get things done” (whether it’s a team of doctors performing surgery, engineers and workers building a bridge across a river, or a sports team consistently winning), it is about a variety of people working together to achieve results (and politics is pushed aside)

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
    ― H.L. Mencken

    24/7 news cycles have helped greatly to keep the populace alarmed. “Tuning out the news,” as Robie Vermonta has been doing, is greatly needed if civil society is to survive.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 5, 2022 4:46 pm

      Thanks, Pat! I think you nailed both our greatest virtue and biggest liability: that we moderates don’t travel in a pack. It’s a shame that our commendable independent thinking keeps us from gaining the kind of widespread support that greets the loudest ideologues on the right and left. And of course, our biased news media don’t help by pushing their overheated political agendas. (Stirring up anger is good for the ratings.)

    • Roby Vermonta permalink
      February 6, 2022 8:25 am

      Great Menckin quote Pat. I would not be surprised if a close examination of Twain would find that he said something similar somewhere in his voluminous writings as well. The more things change the more they stay the same. Things are just like they have always been, only more so.

    • February 6, 2022 12:05 pm

      Tuning out politics is a dangerous luxury.

      “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

      I have said this before – though no one pays attention – but low voter participation is a reflection of good government. Adam’s Smith’s government focused on peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice.

      Interest in politics rises as some seek to expand government beyond those limited roles.

      High voter participation, political bitterness are symptoms of efforts of some to use force – government to accomplish what they can not acheive through persuasion.

      So long as some are successful at using government to impose their will on others by FORCE, some of us will not share the luxury of putting our heads in the sand as Robby is.

  7. February 6, 2022 11:47 am

    “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
    ― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series

  8. Claire permalink
    February 7, 2022 1:06 am

    (before I send this to answer Rick, thanks John B. Say for quoting–right above this– H. L. Mencken. He was a favorite of my husband and became mine as well although J. never “pushed” any theories on me!)

    February 6, 2022 –Claire here: (this will be sent without any further editing to counteract my tendency to do that “to death.” I am using numbers even over “10” rather than spelling them out because it gives a more vivid idea of the sequences of my life)

    Hello Rick, Ron et al. I believe I’m getting close or possibly have already missed the “window of opportunity” when Rick reads posts after one of his before disappearing. Both you and Ron mentioned that to me in your answer to my post: It’s just fine! This will be answered by you and others if it calls for it, and if so when it is meant to be.

    Just as a point of reference since I don’t expect you to remember all your readers. I only have 1 post under my belt written on 11/15/21 when I joined the forum. Right now I am 75 years, 8 months, 12 days, 48 minutes, and counting. I have lived 22 years in the Old World, 20 my country of birth 2 in another, and 53 years in this one, my country of choice. I grew up feeling like a Martian in my Old World and a Venusian in this one until I became “immunized” against the initial culture shock—I couldn’t resist the analogy—and realized it fit me better than the one of my native land. Because I have yet–alas!– to shed most of my initial “Northern Californian accent” as I call it, there are actually some who, after I state how long I have lived here ask me the befuddling question: “Do you like it here?” to which the only answer I can think of is “No, I’m a masochist.”

    I think the main reason I have not joined the detailed dialogues of this forum is that although I am a bloodhound for research, I have progressively—nothing to do with the Woke re-definition–—distanced myself from most political topics and the biased media of all sides which are the source of these discussions. Hence I am not as “educated” as the readers who react the most although I do enjoy reading the posts and I do learn from them: In addition, one trip down the rabbit hole a couple of years ago left me badly bruised while it only reinforced the zone(s) of comfort that preceded it. It was initiated by an intelligent person with excellent writing skills—including journalistic ones–yet who replaced a lack of skills to connect meaningfully with individuals by being a rather rabid armchair activist proselytizing relentlessly to bring others to the “Evangelical dogma of unsubstantiated facts.” I decided to be kinder to myself for whatever time I may have left on Terra. I prefer my writings not to be used as a vindication, but rather simple human stories dedicated to friends who are making my life a better one.

    I absolutely like this post of yours, Rick, precisely because even though your de-escalating proposition may not be always easy, still it has a quality of simplicity in my book. And it is perhaps because, in my own life, I feel it still does exist. It was not an “obvious” state in my past because I did not feel targeted, scrutinized under a global microscope as I am now:

    53 years ago, I was lucky to marry someone as unprejudiced as I am and there was never any “search for the limelight” in befriending individuals of all walks of life and different origins, with common points to be enjoyed, and differences to enrich our lives. We were fully aware that we had not walked in their moccasins where it pertained—technically speaking each one of us is wearing a different size of “life-shoes.” We did not use “paternalistic” guidance and did not believe in tokenism. None of this was touted. It only became “fashionable,” when political correctness came upon the scene stage. And as my husband would, I categorically refuse nowadays to use any of this to “prove myself” to anyone who questions my good intentions: I simply won’t “grovel for acceptance.”

    I have felt so wounded over the recent past, with even more intensity for the last two and a half years in the part of this country which is at the forefront and not in the best of ways as I see it, that your essay, Rick, came as a welcome salve. Among other things I totally concur with you that none of the things you mentioned have any reason to be politicized.

    It doesn’t mean at all that I am no longer open to listening to opinions that differ from mine, but provided that I do not run “solely on emotions” and keep seeing the difference between myths and facts, there is nothing wrong with my virtually rubbing shoulders with folks of the same spirit. It would be disingenuous to pretend we do not have feelings, and yes initial chemistry plays a great part in how we see people and things. Yet as long as we navigate it with the proper balance, it is not like being a part of one of those echo chambers I shun.

    Besides the hurt, I am more than irritated by the fact that although I can take “solitude” and “aloneness” with no problem, an unknown element of unsolicited “loneliness” has crept in: It comes under the guise of an alienation derived from not knowing how those who used to accept me as I am can turn on a dime if I suddenly use a banned expression of this dystopian age.

    In 2020 I started what I call a “Peace Table” under my carport with a sign that says “you have now entered a hate-and politics-free zone. Just help people within your reach… and with kindness always.” It has been adorned with donated flowers over the seasons–thank God cuz I love them but I have a brown thumb. What makes things interesting though is that often during even a short conversation with these friends/acquaintances, who agree with the message on the table, I suddenly discover we have absolutely nothing in common politically, just from a few words they utter. With a few of them, I may be brave enough to utter “I’m a moderate” and hope the sword of Damocles doesn’t fall upon me; with most, I won’t say anything.

    And yet, we are all decent individuals they, as much as I am…and possibly many others who may deserve the genuine label of “silent majority” for their fear of retaliation: Many want to de-escalate–and possibly many of us did not escalate in the first place. I hope we resuscitate the art of listening truly–not in a half absent way; the goodness of reciprocating by opening ourselves, though not in a “let it all hang out” way. (Hmm I wonder if the DNA of this WWII orphan includes some stern Huguenots Ha! Ha!). Let’s acknowledge the notion of random kindness and R.E.S.P.E.C.T (Yeah, you go, Aretha!). All of this exists in the human species—it even has flourished in the darkest of times—I pray, in my thoroughly unorthodox ways, that we are not headed that way, for the next generations even more than for myself: The path to oblivion can occur so swiftly—learn from history. We must avoid the misplaced optimism that led some to be the victims they never thought they would be, and keep it in balance with the optimism that if we are good to ourselves and others….yes within our reach, we can ward off the extremist dark leadership of those “in charge” who should be “discharged.”

    You and the readers/writer of this forum, do stay safe, healthy, with a decent livelihood…and hopefully sane as well. Claire

    P.S.: Rick I have 2 sets of comments that are not specifically pertinent to this thread, one relating to one of your Amazon e-essays, the other one to something else. Yesterday I “grazed” your 2 other websites…I like their content. In one of them, you give an email address to readers. Even though both sites have been in a state of suspended animation (sailing to a more habitable planet?) may I send these comments to that email? I shan’t do it without your permission. (I am not on any social networks including FB—unapologetically so!)

    • rondabellelane permalink
      February 7, 2022 1:26 am

      Hello Claire. I am a friend of Rick’s, and can state with personal knowledge that his email is inundated with unread messages, but you can comment here – he will not mind.

      • claire permalink
        February 7, 2022 1:41 am

        Thanks! it can wait…this post of mine above is long enough as it is without exposing other readers to topics not directly connected to this thread–(short version: you can tell him I purchased the kindle version of “Extremely Dark Chocolates”Good Reads) But thanks a lot for letting me know (You must be a speed reader or did you “zoom” to the end of the message?). Take care!

      • rondabellelane permalink
        February 7, 2022 11:01 am

        LOL!! Not a speed reader in the typical sense of the word, I just read very fast – Rick is in awe of that!
        I’ll let him know about you – he may just tell you to email him and look for yours in his message mountain, but please – to the point – after reading your post above he’ll need a nap! LMAO!!

      • claire permalink
        February 7, 2022 1:09 pm

        1) Re: deserved LMAO – When I see this acronym it makes me wish it had a daily practical use: i.e. slowing down or even altogether stopping this part of my anatomy from expanding with old age—even without my being obese.
        2) Nap – Kids “rebel” against naps, old folks “revel” in them. Next to my endless journaling to my multiple personae—none of them pathological—and willing sufferers, sleep is my best healer from the madness of the current world
        3) Length of post – Rick’s 431 words – mine 1431- Holy Mackerel in olive oil! There is one main reason why I let it pass: Even the first of Rick’s posts I answered on 11/15/21 showed a definite movement away from his steadily/actively participating on the site. His latest one is even more so. And since I happened to concur with the rationale of his proposed remedy—”There are no solutions, only trade-offs” (Thomas Sowell)–I spelled them out within my own context and it means that now I shall go back to being mostly a listener/reader. (in other people’s words – Ye Ole Claire ran out of steam – You hope?) – Thanks for the email address. Will hold off using it for the time being. Thank you, Ciao Ronda!

        “I’d rather be a clown than a clone.”

      • rondabellelane permalink
        February 7, 2022 4:08 pm

        Considering how much I personally laugh, LMAO and LOL do have a daily purpose in my life… and please, don’t silence yourself – Rick’s silence towards the end of the month of his post is understandable, and (IMO) well deserved. Yes, this old lady uses acronyms… and smaller words so that more can understand.
        I loved reading your post, but I also pictured many with a dictionary on hand… but continue, as I smiled at that too.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        February 7, 2022 11:04 am

        Oh – his email is on this page –

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      February 7, 2022 5:08 pm

      Claire: Thanks for your heartfelt comment: eloquent and admirably moderate (other than the length). 😉 I empathize with your predicament: we have friends we want to keep as friends, and yet one wayward, non-PC remark on our part can turn them against us. That’s probably why we see so much “groveling for acceptance” (great phrase!) among people who don’t strike us as ideologues (including big corporations with their “woke” messaging). They’re terrified of essentially being exiled to Siberia for not adhering to the compulsory groupthink.

      I don’t want to totally banish politics from my world. I think we need to be aware of trends — both the good and the bad, but especially the more ominous ones with long-term implications. My call to “de-escalate” is a subtle maneuver designed to take some of the air out of overblown narratives and conspiracy theories. If enough of us gently offer the ideologues a more nuanced alternative to their inflammatory rhetoric, refrain from insulting them, and re-introduce the concept of “neighborliness” to our conversations, they might (just possibly, but with no guarantee) emerge from their bunkers and start resembling well-rounded humans again.

      Glad you discovered my other websites, even though they stand abandoned like the ruins of Babylon (but better preserved). The Cynic’s Sanctuary was great fun while it lasted, but our merry gang of cynics dispersed as Facebook became the way to go. Some upstart even had the effrontery to grab my URL after I let it lapse. (If you search for, my old URL, you stumble upon my successor’s site, which isn’t nearly as entertaining as mine. My current Cynic’s Sanctuary URL is

      Oh, and feel free to e-mail me with your two additional messages. My in-box is cluttered beyond belief, but I do check my e-mail a few times a day.

      • Claire permalink
        February 7, 2022 5:56 pm

        (just to show I did find the answer to a question I had). Now I’m going to take the nap necessitated by the energy spent on the moderate length 🙄of my previous post, although Ronda Bell–la Belle?–suggested it really should be meant for you after reading it 😂. I think I like that woman, she is loyal enough to be a little protective of her friend, yet informing you and letting you decide for yourself. Now I’m giving you a deserved break from my verbose meanderings and I shall email you in a day or two-with a considerate word count compared to the earlier one. Thank you for keeping this option open in spite of your overflowing schedule. Claire

      • rondabellelane permalink
        February 7, 2022 7:40 pm

        (Smiling)… Pretty sure I like you too Claire 🙂

      • Rick Bayan permalink
        February 8, 2022 1:10 pm

        Claire: I’m impressed! I just wish I knew how to say “You’re welcome” in Armenian. (Interesting alphabet, isn’t it? I still don’t have it all memorized because so many of the letters look alike to me. But I did read “Shnorhagaloutiun” with no trouble.)

      • Claire permalink
        February 8, 2022 1:42 pm

        You can fully credit “Google-the-Borg” for that…(one of the upsides to counteract “futile resistance.”But I will write in the forthcoming email why it matters to me. Till then.

      • Claire permalink
        February 9, 2022 2:23 am

        clarifying “muddy” answer (no reply necessary): It should have read: “You can fully credit “Google-the-Borg” for my knowledge of Armenian etc (I know several languages but with my odd eyesight I could never succeed learning the ones with a different alphabet or visual “ideograms.” my biggest regret: my failure at ASL: so wonderfully expressive a language).

  9. Ron P permalink
    February 7, 2022 3:22 pm

    I wonder how many of us “old fogies” here knew about this and how government controls have raised the price for this device for years. Just like states with laws where you have to buy a car from a dealer, even when they have none available on the lot and you order it online, these government laws do nothing to protect citizens and only protect a limited number of manufacturers and professionsionals and raise prices due to lack of competition. According to one report that I deleted, 4 manufacturers control 80-% of the market.

    Why should hearing aides be any different than eye glasses where everyone has a choice in who to purchase their eye wear from.

    Too bad we can not make government audit all these special interest laws that just raise prices for no good outcomes other than company profits.

    • February 7, 2022 5:25 pm

      There are several apps for your phone that will add high end hearing aide capabilities.

      • February 7, 2022 6:38 pm

        OK but I dont use one. But what does that have to do with govt restrictions causing a limited number of companies that reduces competition and increases price. The apps dont act ax the hearing aide, they are an enhancement to it.

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 10, 2022 9:55 pm

      Supposedly, there is a connection between hearing loss and some forms of dementia. This is what motivated me, a few years back, to get some high-end hearing aids, which I wear, oh….about 5% of the time. (Yes, I have an app to go with them!)

      At any rate, my insurance covered precisely $200 of the $6,000 cost of the hearing aids.

      With an aging population, that’s growing increasingly hard of hearing, I guess there is a real need for competition in the hearing aid market.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 11, 2022 12:58 am

        Priscilla, the issue with hearing aides is not the only issue with how the government causes prices to be extremely high in this country.

        Professional organizations control the number of medical schools, nursing schools, pharmacy schools and technical schools. they limit the number of schools that limit the number of graduates that limits the number of employees, do organizations employing these people are forced to pay higher wages than if the number of graduates were in greater numbers.

        States have CON laws in the guise of controlling cost, but the only thing CON laws do is limit the number of facilities providing care and also limit the number of services those facilities can provide. How many times in the past 2 years have we read about the shortage of ICU beds in hospitals due to covid. Id one looks at CON requests, one may find many times where hospitals have ask to increase the number of beds, both ICU and med/surg and they are denied by suits in the state agencies that think they know better than those providing the service. And when services are restricted and competition is reduced, the providers have free reign on increasing prices.

        Drug companies come under attack for the prices they charge, but government has policies that protect these companies for years so they have no incentive to reduce prices. Drug companies create drugs, sell them world wide, get paid substantially less in Europe and other foreign countries due to their government policies and have no reason to reduce prices here because their is no competition for many uears.

        And that is the same with hearing aides. There are many technical products on the market that have more components and cost more to produce than a hearing aide all while costing less retail to customers. Its all due to competition. That $6000 hearing aide which has less technology than the wireless earbuds that connect to smart devices that cost less than a couple hundred dollars would cost much less if more companies entered the market.

        There are way too many people in this country that either believe government is there to help or totally ignore the way they get screwed due to government policies. And they don;t care!

  10. Ron P permalink
    February 17, 2022 12:56 pm

    Been some discussions in different venues concerning the half time show for the super bowl. Some loved it, some hated it, some just ignored it. The rating indicate 9 million turned it off, but 103 million were still tuned in. Wonder how many were really watching or muted it, were fixing something to eat, etc.

    But this is an explanation from our local “Ask Sam” (Straight Answer Ma’am) on who produces the half time shows and how that came to be.

    Wiil be interesting to see what type of shows going forward are provided by this company and how they try to vary the acts.

    “Question: Who was responsible for the halftime entertainment during the Super Bowl? It was awful. Children and adults shouldn’t be subjected to this during a prime time event. NBC should be admonished for allowing it.

    Answer: Although you didn’t like the halftime show, many people did enjoy it.

    The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, were responsible for the halftime show. NBC broadcast the Super Bowl, but didn’t have anything to do with what was presented during halftime, according to Michelle Butt, the president and general manager of WXII, the local NBC affiliate.

    In 2019 Goodell signed a multi-year agreement with rapper Jay-Z, the founder of Roc Nation, an entertainment and talent company, to produce the halftime shows during the Super Bowl.

    The first show Roc Nation produced was the 2020 game. The entertainers that year were Shakira and Jennifer Lopez with guests Bad Bunny and J Balvin.

    In September 2021, the NFL announced that the halftime entertainers for Super Bowl LVI would be Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.

    According to a Feb. 11 Los Angeles Times article, “In 2019, Jay-Z said in a press release that the NFL had the ‘opportunity to inspire change across the country’ and that the partnership would ‘strengthen the fabric of communities across America.’ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added that Jay-Z’s ‘perspective is going to drive us.’”

    “As part of the companies’ pact, Roc Nation asked Goodell to spend $100 million on various social causes over 10 years; Dasha Smith, the chief people officer of the NFL, said she expects the league will reach the goal sooner than that,” the article said.

    NBC Sports said that 112.3 million people watched the game. 101.1 million on television and 11.2 million by live stream. The ratings for the halftime showed that 103.4 million people were watching.

    • Vermonta permalink
      February 20, 2022 9:40 am

      As a moderate democrat wishing that the GOP would just die, this seems typically counter productive to me. I did not watch the game but I heard a little bit. As a musician I hate rap. I love jazz and love many black and hispanic musicians, sister Rosetta Tharpe, glorious, Earth Wind and Fire, fantastic, nat King Cole and Natalie, very beautiful. Rap is not even music, its grotesque. An ostentatiously PC halftime with rappers is not helpful to the goal of good race relations in my opinion. Its like having perpetual black history events, I used to be enthusiastic but my enthusiasm has worn out. Everyone who is sympathetic has long ago gotten the point, those not sympathetic are in active resist mode grinding their teeth. Its the greatest thing that could happen to a GOP that should be on life support.

      An example of how originally well meaning movements lose track of reality and produce the opposite results.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 20, 2022 12:43 pm

        Roby, as with anything today, there is an agenda. Not something new, but much more so that years past.

        Seems like it used to be that most everyone tried to offer something for most people. Today its, “take it leave it, I don’t care what you think”.

        You enjoy jazz. so do I . I also think one of the best eras for music was the 30’s and 40’s with swing. I have hours of swing music on reel to reel tapes that I can no longer play because my tape player conked out, but listened to that for hours at a time. So someone wants to provide shows to appeal to the masses, mix it up. Rapper, Jazz and maybe some Latin.

        Same with food. Years past if there was a meeting or other large activity, there was usually a minimum of two choices on the offerings. Now if you dont like fish or are allergic to fish, “to bad, your problem”, that all there is.

        But “equality movements” in the past did some good, but also created strong dislikes by others. For instance, instead of creating quotas in education and hiring, to eliminate racism and any forms of discrimination, eliminating any forms of identification other than last name and application information pertinent to admission, employment or promotion is all that is needed and results in candidates that are most qualified for schools or jobs.But that did not happen, the process became one which had x number of people for each offering and even if there were those much more qualified, they were left out due to the quotas. That created strong dislikes and solidified even hatred by more on the right than anyone on the left.

        Yes, there will always be was for anyone to use something as a basis for discrimination, but in using a “blind” evaluation, it reduces substantially the “they got in/job only because they are black/minority/woman/young” argument and makes the process more acceptable and appealing to a far greater population.

        But that is not how society is today. Its all about “me” and screw “them”. Half time show, “you did not like it, I could care less, we are here to please our people, not you”.

      • February 20, 2022 1:36 pm

        I share your disdain for Rap – except that occasionally I find some Rap peice incredibly good – despite my strong desire to dislike it.

        I feel the same about Jazz – I love blues, but i hate most Jazz.

        Ultimately to each his own.

        Lots of people like music I do not,

        The NFL is their to entertain their audience.

        I choose not to be part of that audience.

        I express my views by not watching. Not by actively boycotting – I do not care enough. But simply taking little interest in most sports anymore.

    • February 20, 2022 3:00 pm


      More so than any other creature in existance, Humans are NOT the same.
      The superbowl is the perfect example of that. The participants are the extreme in ability – both physical and even within their genre of music.

      We are not equal and will never be.

      Our differences are what distinguishes man for the rest of nature.

      Discrimination is inherent and almost always laudable.

      When we elect to elevate equality above our actual differences it is important that we stick to differences that do not matter.

      I have vigorously attacked advocacy of equality and fairness here.

      Equality is not acheivable and not desireable either – humans are NOT ants.
      Fairness is not definable.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 21, 2022 12:54 am

        Dave I fully understand your thinking about fairness and equality. That thinking might be one of the reason we have the issues we have in the country.

        Humans are also smart enough to make a concerted effort to make the field as equal as possible and when it does not occur, that is when discrimination occurs on purpose. Keeping one from a spot in schools or in a job due to race is discrimination by choice. Doing what can be done to eliminate as much purposeful discrimination is what also defines humans as they have the mental awareness to identify the difference in the two.

        And fairness can be defined and humans are smart enough to strive to achieve behaviors without favoritism or discrimination as much as possible. Believing that is not possible is the driver of discrimination since it allows discrimination to occur without being challenged.

        Not accepting that discrimination can be reduced by promoting more actions that allow for more fair policies is being closed minded. (And once again you will say fairness can not be defined. It can, just look it up in Websters or google it)

        As for the NFL, you choose to avoid watching any sports and that is your right. Many people do. But right at 1/3rd of all Americans were watching that game. I doubt that the NFL audience watching that 1/2 time show all enjoyed it. but that is their choice to have rappers and the choice of the sponsors that paid close to $7 million for a 30 second ad supporting the game. When people tune out and the sponsors do not buy in, then other choices will be made. That is how the free market works.

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 21, 2022 7:00 am

        I stopped watching football decades back. I used to be really into it from my childhood. Johnny U, then Bert Jones, the Colts.

        As far as I know NFL running backs today are 99% of African American descent, and cornerbacks are not far behind. That is also intentional discrimination, obviously that gene pool has superior qualities in the running back and corner back departments. But one is not allowed to admit that the races are different because once one does that some genuine racists come along and say that their race is superior and some other race is inferior.

        The races are of course different, that is why they are races.

        People are not all alike. We cannot all achieve the same things.

        Musical talent is not one talent its ten or twelve talents and characters, all of which have associated genes and alleles. Of those talents I got a good deal in some and a lousy one in others. My coordination is average at best and I am not flexible, plus I am ADD and as a child could not concentrate. So, I never could have been a great concert violinist, despite my love of music and understanding of it. I am not the same as Maxim Vengerov or Ray Chen. Jewish people from Eastern Europe and Asians make up a disproportionate part of the worlds greatest violinists. Nature or nurture? Some of both but genes are the ultimate determinant of incredible talent.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 21, 2022 12:41 pm

        Roby, I wont get into genes and how those may be different for blacks compared to whites. Many things that occurred years ago may have played a role in this if this is the case.

        But I will make a comment on development of players in sports like basketball and football. These are a result of what I believe is a dream by many in black communities being the ticket out of poverty. Hours are spent by kids at very young ages developing athletic skills. One just needs to look at pee wee football and basketball to see where parents want their kids development and interest. Then AAU teams and high school teams are dominated by the kids that started at 5 years old or whatever. That creates mostly black players in college these days that are the professional football and basketball players.

        By comparison, baseball is dominated by Latino players. Not too many Hank Aarons or Willie Mays in lineups anymore. The road to the big leagues take longer than those making it to the NFL or NBA.

        One of the problems is the dreams dont always pan out. Lorenzo Charles was part of the 1982 N.C. State mens national championship basketball team. He attended the school but did not graduate, played a couple years in the NBA and Europe and came home, ending up driving an Elite coach bus that he crashed on Interstate 40 and died at the age of 47. His dream of millions never panned out. His biggest moment came from the dunk from Derek Whittenburg’s “pass” that won the championship game.

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 22, 2022 9:52 pm

        I recall reading that about a quarter of major league baseball players and close to half of minor leaguers are Hispanic. Yet, go to a D1 college baseball game and there is little diversity ~ most of the players are white. Of course, D1 baseball has been largely decimated by Title IX cuts, so big scholarships are not to be had.

        Certain MLB teams ~ the Yankees come to mind ~ have invested heavily in recruitment and development in Latino countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic for years…

      • Claire permalink
        February 24, 2022 3:42 pm

        Hi Vermonta (Roby?). I’m already trailing far behind in this discussion, But I found your post interesting. It is an intricate topic…balance? Aren’t we all the tightrope walkers of our lives? For me, one of the best authors/scholars who has handled this type of topic is Dr. Thomas Sowell. The interesting thing about him is that he was known several decades ago, when my husband while he was still alive read his works. I associate these thoughts about him: “When the student is ready–again!–the Teacher reappears..” And he has…He is now in his 90s and by all means incredibly eclectic in his writings and with many other talents. I only paid a little attention to him before, but now indeed, I am ready and his fairness soothes my soul. Too bad he is branded as an uncle Tom by his opponents, yet that very label proves they never read the novel! When he was asked what party he belongs to, he indicated he shies away from labels but probably would be close to Libertarians–Ouch another position who “enjoys the privilege” Haha! to be hated “equally” by both sides. I am often “sitting between two chairs, but the floor feels comfortable”–most of the time, let’s be fair! I will “rein” in my normal verbosity and stop here as I could rhapsodize far more about him. Thank you!

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 21, 2022 7:09 am

        Ron, one positive thing about our participation over the years is that gives us a lot of practice writing. Sometimes you get frustrated that you can’t say exactly what you mean. This last one of yours is one of your best from the standpoint of clarity of thought and writing. You should have a column or something.

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 22, 2022 9:27 am

        Ron, you make excellent points and I agree with your logic, except there is no way that black athletes would so dominate certain positions like running back in the NFL without there being a real genetic cause. There are still plenty of white kids who want to be NFL running backs, they just can’t compete with the African gene pool in this particular athletic niche. I did happen to read an article a few years back about how some white college kid was good enough that the scouts thought he had a chance to be an NFL running back. I don’t know how that turned out but that is when I got curious and looked up the statistics about race and the percentage of players at each position in the NFL. For certain positions they were just way too lopsided for it to be anything but genetics.

        It is interesting to me because there is so much opposition to the idea that races are different for reasons that are completely understandable. But objectively science is science and facts are facts.

        Blacks being better athletes in certain ways in no way implies anything about their other characteristics, they are independent. The most intelligent person I have ever met was the black jazz musician Stanley Jordan. I happened to know him when he was at Princeton completing a dual major in music and engineering. The second most intelligent person I have ever met is the son of a friend of mine, his father is black mother is swedish. He has in my opinion what geneticists call hybrid vigor, the mixing of gene pools produces a more genetically fit product that either of the original gene pools. Both of these guys are in another league than the Molecular Biology Ph.Ds I knew when I was doing that work, their minds just don’t have boundaries, they always think outside the box and very effectively. Its extremely impressive.

        But god forbid I should think about applying what I know about genetics (which is a fair amount) to humans, its just too sensitive, no matter how benign my intentions and ideas are it is almost taboo, because of the history of racists misusing scientific knowledge to support their disgusting ideology.

  11. Vermonta permalink
    February 21, 2022 7:05 am

    This is what a human with the best possible combination of music genes looks like. People are very different. Life discriminates.

  12. Vermonta permalink
    February 24, 2022 8:01 am

    So, I stopped reading the news and look. Bombs are falling in Dnepropetrovsk where my wife grew up and some of her family and friends still live. There is only economic retaliation possible and diplomatic. Russia should be completely cut off from the western economic world, basically forever. Today I quit a job that I could have done in a few hours a day until I hit senility having a very comfortable retirement. I will never speak another Russian word and don’t want to read another one. Vladimir Hitler, Donald Mussolini’s good buddy, has risen and Donald is still lavishing his praise on him. I never thought Putler would go so far, Donald, I am not surprised. Bombs are falling in Dnepropetrovisk where my wife grew up and some of her family and friends still live. There is only economic retaliation possible and diplomatic. Russia should be completely cut off from the western economic world, basically forever.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 24, 2022 3:37 pm

      Roby, there is still hope from two angles.

      1) Many conservatives are criticizing Biden for the response to the Ukrainian crisis. On the other hand, Trump is praising Putin for his actions. Many of those criticizing Biden are also taking a stance against Trump Putin support. This could be the first small crack in the GOP’s Gods armor.

      2) North Carolina has just gone through a redistricting court fight. Legislature design (idiotic) districts, one large county split three ways and other split two ways. NC supreme court found these to be against NC constitution. (10-4) strong GOP districts) GOP redid maps, court found them to still be against constitution. Chose a map that provides a 6-6 split with 2 additional tossups. That in a state wherer the vote has been within a percentage point or two. Looking at the congressional maps now, every county except two is in the same district, with only the largest split. Then there are two with a small portion being included in adjoining counties due to population requirements per district. What I hope and pray is these districts will result in many more centrist left/right candidates that will appeal to the moderates that will make the difference in these elections and get rid of the leftist AOC/Bernie?Obama wing of the democrats and the Trump GOP candidates.

      And if this happens in a GOP controlled state, just maybe the same can happen in states like NY and california that gerrymandered their districts where there is no logic to borders. In one district in CA, there is a piece of a county right in the middle of a district, inner city, that is like Berlin in East Germany. That is removed from the district and made part part of the adjoining district which created two left leaning districts instead of one left and one swing.

      • February 25, 2022 11:21 pm

        Trump has been attacking Biden CORRECTLY as weak and responsible for this.

        He has not been “praising” Putin.

  13. February 25, 2022 11:20 pm

    “I promise that the millions I received from Russia and China, uh, uh, uh, my son received from Russia and China will have no effect on my ability to stand up to Russia and China”

    Joe Biden.

  14. February 25, 2022 11:28 pm

    Today my son came to me worried about the prospect of global nuclear war.

    I chose not to have children when I married – because I grew up at a time we were always 8 minutes from the end of the world.

    I adopted two children in the late 90’s – because that had changed.

    My children should not have to experience this.

    Make no mistake – Putin is responsible for this. But the odds would have been far less without the doddering incompetent fool many of YOU elected.

    How bad do things have to get, before you grasp that YOU screwed up ?

    How many lies do we have to expose ?

  15. Vermonta permalink
    February 26, 2022 9:34 am

    I have listened to your delusional drivel long enough not to be surprised that you can claim that black is white and your Trump did not praise Putin.
    The internet is the perfect home for mentally defective people like yourself. Rant on, put on your perpetual freak show.
    Meanwhile international relations between the west and the world of fascist dictatorships like Putin’s Russia is a chess game and while Trump had an actually good idea to have good relationship with Russia the way he did it was typical trumpian bumbling. He gave Putin time to prepare his next moves.

    The international world will respond with steadily increasing economic and diplomatic pressure until Russia finally is in too much pain. It may take a year it may take a decade.

    I am telling you about the real world but I don’t expect any rational response.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 26, 2022 12:26 pm

      Roby, “Trump had an actually good idea to have good relationship with Russia the way he did it was typical trumpian bumbling. He gave Putin time to prepare his next moves”

      I dont want to get into another debate about Trump and what he did. But i do want to point out that Europe has been the weakest link in the response to the Russian aggression with their actions against former soviet countries. And then our response has been one that mirrored the Europeans.

      There was a lot of saber rattling when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. But little international actions. Then Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, and other than words and a few ineffective responses, did nothing further. There were also actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine and little happened internationally.

      So Bush and Obama set the table, Trump provided the appetizers and Putin showed up for the main course, Ukraine back under its fold. Putin has seen the impotent actions of the Europeans and understand the USA will only go so far if the Europeans will not act decisively. What we see happening today will take months to have any real impact on the Russian economy and little on the billionaires within Russia. Does anyone really think those people have not moved money into crypto or foreign banks where they can eaily access funds? One has to be born yesterday to think they left the money where it can be frozen by western powers. And the money they did leave probably was only left there to give support that the western actions would be effective.

      Nations can not react like they did in 2008 and 2014 and expect anything different in Russian aggression in 2022. Once this ends, seems like the western world can plan on Latvia and Lithuanian to be Putins target in soviet reconstruction plan in 2026-28. Europe needs to take the lead, make hard decisions on what they can handle as the long term impact on their countries, the USA needs to support 100% those actions and provide Ukraine as much military hardware and technical support needed as long as Europe stays united against Russian aggression. I don’t know what SWIFT is and don’t care other than it is something financial. If Europe will not support banning Russian from that, then that is what the USA should do. Once European support begins to crumble, there isn’t much we can do going it alone that would make a difference..

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 26, 2022 6:13 pm

        Ron, I have a lot to say but no time to say it right now. The the short version is that there was nothing weak about Obama’s sanctions. I saw their effect it was pretty dramatic. They did not stop Putin, so you can say they were ineffective, but nothing was going to stop him. I want the strongest possible sanctions but they will be ratcheted up. If you start with your full arsenal there is nothing left stronger to do.

        Going be in Boston tomorrow with my wife and a sign, something like Stop Putin before he is unstoppable. Or maybe something pithier.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 26, 2022 7:03 pm

        I have read some articles concerning the Crimea issue and it does not appear that what is happening today is much different from what Obama proposed for sanctions. They did not work then and they won’t work now.

        In June 2014, the Guardian wrote concerning the invasion ” The EU and the US have struggled to co-ordinate a response to Russia’s boldest military adventure since the 2008 Georgia war because the stakes are very different for both parties. EU-Russia trade volumes, including vast gas imports and engineering exports, are 15 times the level of US-Russia trade. Washington has far less to lose from a trade war, and has hitherto talked tougher.”

        I dont see where things are much different. And today, just like 2014, if Europe does not go full scale economic lockdown on Russia, then why should we do it and impact our economy when they refuse to support a neighboring country.

        I don’t have issues with supporting freedom around the world, but I am also tired of America being the “helicopter parent” sheltering other countries from bad things and expending our resources, including lives for the past 70 years, when other countries refuse to risk the same assets.

        After 15 years of Russian aggression over the same geographical area, does anyone expect doing the same thing now as in the past will result in a different outcome?

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 27, 2022 8:32 am

        Agreed, Ron. This conflict has been going on for years, and both Russia and Ukraine are rife with corruption. Russian forces have been in eastern Ukraine since 2014, and NATO has not considered that to be a problem.

        In 1994, he US convinced Ukraine to give up its nuclear arsenal, in return for promises to provide Ukraine with money, weapons, and protection from Russia. Putin must have been pleasantly surprised to see the West disarm his “prey.”

        So, we take away all of Ukraine’s leverage, some of our politicians (both parties) make a fortune pressuring Ukraine to pay for protection, like a businessman paying “pizzo” (protection from the Mafia). Ukraine itself starts cracking down on dissent in a very un-democratic way, and then ….we are shocked, simply shocked to see that Putin takes advantage of the situation to achieve Russia’s strategic goals.

        Meanwhile, the US under Biden has removed its own leverage, which it had as the world’s #1 energy exporter, and not only allows major NATO allies like Germany to become dependent on Russian oil, conveniently piped in through the Nord Stream pipeline, but begins buying hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude itself. So all we have are the same ineffective sanctions that didn’t work in the past.

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 27, 2022 8:47 am

        **Putin was not yet the Russian leader, when we convinced Ukraine to disarm, but he took over not long after.**

      • Vermonta permalink
        February 26, 2022 7:24 pm

        I think you have unrealistic expectations. If there were not the existence of the nuclear arsenals there would be a way to stop thiem it would look like WWI or WWII.

        In this era, there is no magic weapon to stop this, not military or economic. They can only be made to pay over a long period of time.

        Not to be a smartass, but I have been reading Russian papers on economics, their healthcare system, their science etc. for 15 years as part of my work. and I know a few things, they are backward in all but a few areas and becoming more backward. Eventually there is a breaking point, as happened in the 80s and 90s. Under their system they don’t adjust, they just periodically have a major earthquake. Meanwhile stupid un necessary things happen like their agricultural debacles under communism.

      • February 26, 2022 8:25 pm

        Roby, So Europe can rattle some swords, when it gets cold, they say “enough is enough and America you carry the bags”.

        And that is going to make Russia blink? Europe buying their nat gas, the world buying their oil and we block them from American babks. Somehow that seems strange to me this will work.

        Oh and I firgot. Canada pulling Russian vodka from shelves and some USA states doing the same. That’ll do it!

      • February 28, 2022 4:49 am


        I pretty much agree.

        Russia is a declining power.

        This does not change that.

    • rondabellelane permalink
      February 26, 2022 4:55 pm

      You accidentally responded to Rick, but I have no doubt who this was for. Agreed.

  16. Vermonta permalink
    February 26, 2022 6:25 pm

    Ron, there is a Peggy Noonan column on this with a paywall. Sometimes you have been able to post her columns here. Do you have a way to post her latest column on this situation?

    • Ron P permalink
      February 26, 2022 6:39 pm

      No. They figured out her emails were allowing her columns to be read, so they fixed that. Sorry, I enjoyed reading her columns, but I refuse to pay for a subscription to WSJ just to read her column. The rest of the paper is of no interest to me.

  17. February 28, 2022 4:58 am

    The reporting in this article is attrocious.

    It is BIDEN who has constantly undermined Ukraine – Trump’s impeachment was LITTERALLY over asking Ukraine to investigate Biden for undermining Ukraine to benefit Russia.

    Trump may have said nice things about Putin – but his policies disempowered Russia.

    Obama did NOT provide military aide to Ukraine TRUMP DID – massively.
    AS best as I can tell Biden did nothing but continue Trump aide.

    There have been plenty of news stories on the lead up to this that have Zelensky and Ukraine critical of Biden for making conflict with Russia MORE likely.

    But the headline is what matters – Polls show by a 2-1 margin people beleive Putin would not have invaded if Trump were president.

    And they are likely right.

  18. Vermonta permalink
    February 28, 2022 9:22 am

    The Russian system is a perpetually 3rd rate civilization because the barbaric ways of the tsars and Lenin and Stalin are in the genes of their governmental style, diluted over the generations but still present. They are however a highly consequential 3rd rate civilization. As one of the Austrian leaders said perhaps 200 years back, paraphrasing here, “The Russians are of course barbarians, but whatever you do don’t make them angry”

    So, would Putin really destroy Russia to harm but not end the western world? And… would his generals or anyone stop him or would they follow orders?

    Answers: probably not but this is Putin and this is Russia. So, still probably not but maybe.

    Putin has made Zelenskii an international hero and Ukraine a cause celebre. He thought he would quickly rout Ukraine and the world would accept it.

    For a smart guy he makes a lot of huge mistakes.

    Now, he has fucked up so badly that his own position is not 100% solid in Russia itself as it was before he launched his invasion, in fact the “putin system” is under serious threat of catastrophically failing if the present trend of events does not radically improve for putin’s invasion. Contrary to his expectations, the sanctions and economic reprisals are actually quite strong and fairly immediately hurtful if not crippling and now if he kills Zelenskii Russia will be a shunned isolated pariah for 50 years if they don’t have another revolution, this time a better one.

    What he is left with is “I’m crazy and I have nukes.”

    I cannot quantify the chances that my family and I will either be dead or be living in a radioactive environment patrolled by some combination of the trump forces and the democratic forces sometime soon but they are at least possible.

    But Putin has to be faced down at this point, no matter what he threatens. Otherwise he now owns the world in essence because, like a guy on a plane with a bomb, he controls events.

    This has always been was always going to be his trajectory and his final plan, trump was simply a useful idiot that he could manipulate to buy him time and soften the western opposition to a rebuild of the USSR by massaging his ego. We could never escape that someday he was going to do this.

  19. Ron P permalink
    March 1, 2022 1:14 am

    Priscilla, had to post this new as I could not link to your Feb 27th comment. You stated “Meanwhile, the US under Biden has removed its own leverage, which it had as the world’s #1 energy exporter,”

    Please research information and do not listen to crap on the news, either Left or right. Please look at this chart. If it opens with a bar graph, click the 5yr icon at the top left.

    In 2020 we had over 800 oil rigs pumping oil and you see that was at the top of production. Then the pandemic hit and in 2020 oil was being given away because they were still pumping with no where to sell it. As the pandemic progressed and the recession took hold, the 800+ oil rigs producing domestic oil were shut down over a period of months with less than 200 operational by year end. There was some fluctuations as the pandemic waned and then increased, but the increase in rigs did not begin until the recession ended this past spring. In January 2021 there was another downturn since the price of oil dropped below $40 a barrel and producers stopped producing from the oil rigs in operation sincwe they were losing money.

    According to Bakerhughes rig Count, today there are 650 rigs operational. That still is not at the 800+ level in 2020. One of the reasons is DUC’s, drilled but uncompleted wells..DUCs, fell to 5,957 in July, the lowest in four years, from nearly 8,900 at its 2019 peak. Why? Because oil was not at a price that oil companies could make a profit and not until oil passed that breakeven point did they begin opening up those wells again.

    I don;t support Biden on much, but I also don’t give him blame when things are not of his making. Oil production right now is not caused by his actions. Future oil production could be, but that is to be seen with the rapid transformation to EV’s and reduced oil needs. Also, Keystone has nothing to do with the problem because two new lines opened, one by Enbridge and one by Marathon that are transporting Canadian oil into the country at volumes meeting or exceeding the projected volume for Keystone.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 1, 2022 1:18 am

      The oil rigs are not directly tied to DUC’s, but when there are wells to complete, oil rigs are usually not placed into service until demand requires it.

      • Ronald Coase permalink
        March 8, 2022 7:24 pm

        The infrastructure to gt oil from the well to your car has many critical components.
        Excess capacity at one point – is useless if there is a bottle neck elsewhere.

        Right now the US is looking to:
        End US reliance on Russian oil.
        Stand behind our Energy guarantee to Europe.
        Do so without having to beg from other despots like the Saudi’s, Iran or Venezuella.

        Accomplishing this requires more drilling, more pumping, more pipelines and more refineries.
        Further it requires resources located to fascillitate the domestic sources we have – not the foreign sources we have developed infrastructure for.

        Any lack of capacity in any link will increase prices and reduce our ability to accomplish those goals.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 1, 2022 9:48 am

      Ron, we can produce enough domestic supply to be independent, or we can buy gas and oil from other nations….Biden’s executive order cancelling the Keystone pipeline, revoking drilling and fracking permits, and suspending ANWAR exploration and drilling, have all been very intentional decisions, intended to make us dependent on other nations for our energy needs.

      On this one, I’m with Joe Manchin. Obviously, he is from an energy state, but, while that certainly factors into his political decision-making, he also sees that we have emboldened Putin and China at our own expense.

      Anyway, Rick has a new column up. We can continue the discussion there.

      • March 1, 2022 12:30 pm

        Priscilla, two short comments.
        1) Manchin did not blame Biden completely, he said we need to stop Russian oil and also ask oil companies to act. Remember, Shell and BP were partners wuth Rusdian oil companies.

        2) We import Russian light sweet oil because we dont have that. All of ours is heavy crude. Both used for different pdoducts. Russian imports increased when we cut iff Venezuelan oil and Nigerian oil

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 1, 2022 1:02 pm

        Very interesting. I did not know either of those things. Thanks for educating me on important details. And, although I still think that Biden is a weak, awful president, it’s certainly also the case that Obama was even worse, when it comes to national security anyway, and his lack of action when Putin bloodlessly annexed Crimea, 8 years ago, probably was as much at fault for leading to Putin thinking that he could invade Ukraine with impunity, as much as anything Biden has done. Germany is also at fault for failing to deter this war. In any case, I blame Putin 100% for his reckless decision to invade. I blame Biden and NATO for their fecklessness in failing to deter him.

      • March 1, 2022 5:58 pm

        Just heard a comment.on business news. Another reason domestic oil production has not recovered completely is due to large layoffs in oil field jobs in 2020. When oil companies decided to gear up, could nkt get people back. Now with $100 a barrel oil they are doing everything imaginable. One website list over 10,000 job openings from$66k to way iver $100k a year. No employees to fill jobs needed to get old wells back in service.

      • claire permalink
        March 2, 2022 7:50 pm

        Yesterday I was feeling such combat fatigue from being a conscientious objector to either side’s constant battle and wounding of those who do not sing to the same choir. (no wonder the former mayor of our small town called me the “Queen of mixed metaphors” with this one). I sent a text to a young Russian woman–36 years old to my 75– I met in November at Friends’ in Portland Oregon, the city where I lived for 17 years and where I have no desire to live again, yet miss those who shared those years with me.

        I copied it to her e-mail address–because texting is so inappropriate to sharing major thinking, and yet besides social networks to which I do not belong, that’s what others do. it said

        “dobrý den! dear Sasha.I want to say something that most people may not think about or take me as the simpleton I am not: I am thinking of the repercussions of what is going on not only on Ukrainians but on Russians as well.. to sum it up: Although I have marched for good causes over the years, one of the reasons I will never be a hardcore activist (perhaps it is still a luxury in my country over others) it is because I believe that polarization forgets people who should never pay for the mistakes of their “Mis-leaders”–of any side–as I call them. I have an M.A. master’s in geography and it is a sibling of History: it shows so well the countries formed back and forth by the parceling by those who deem themselves wiser than the people whose countries boundaries they decide to change. So yes, my main thoughts now are both for Ukrainians and for the Russians, the “regular folks” who do not deserve to pay for the mistakes of those who control them.

        Even if you don’t agree with me I think you will accept my point of view as I will accept yours if it is contrary. I think this type of thoughts are somewhat easier for me to share with someone I don’t know as well, as I don’t feel the potential loss of friendship. Be well stay well and my “Pagan prayers” –no apologies I think they work just as well–are with the people you love in your native country. ” I quickly got an answer thanking me for my support.

        Later on, I was reading an e-book I enjoy which I have been browsing intermittently, rather than “bingeing on,” something I can do extremely well/badly?. Do you know the word “Bibliomancy?”–“Divination by interpretation of a passage chosen at random from a book, especially the Bible.” well for this Pagan, it wasn’t neither the Good Book, nor the “Bad one in any form and shape. But that evening I read a chapter and I fell upon these words in a chapter entitled ” “A Bug’s Death”
        “I began to see that the secret of war – of all mass murder – is to deny the individuality of the designated victim. That’s what makes the killing so damned easy: we convert our victims into abstract symbols.”

        Thank you to the author who will recognize himself and his readers. I slept better last night not that I want everybody to agree with me but that it is soothing when thoughts that matter to me get an echo.

        I shall write some more within a couple of days because this is enough as far as length. It will touch geopolitics as I have learned it in theory and experienced it second hand so someone who lived with the hardships it entails.

        BTW besides the contributors to this site that appeal to me or make me reflect about pretty sizable differences–this place is not as moderate as it seems– I have a soft spot for Ron, besides the fact that is the first one to answer my very first post in November. 1) he is a brother in verbosity 2) he is steady as it goes, the one who is around day in and day out from the time Rick posts his monthly monologue.
        Hence he is the one who gets some of the applause, and the one who gets the criticisms from mild to abrasive, so by the time they get to Rick they no longer sound like the main answer to him haha! All of this all of this said in good spirit. Claire

        View Full Site

        Blog at

  20. Claire permalink
    March 2, 2022 7:44 pm

    Yesterday I was feeling such combat fatigue from being a conscientious objector to either side’s constant battle and wounding of those who do not sing to the same choir. (no wonder the former mayor of our small town called me the “Queen of mixed metaphors” with this one). I sent a text to a young Russian woman–36 years old to my 75– I met in November at Friends’ in Portland Oregon, the city where I lived for 17 years and where I have no desire to live again, yet miss those who shared those years with me.

    I copied it to her e-mail address–because texting is so inappropriate to sharing major thinking, and yet besides social networks to which I do not belong, that’s what others do. it said

    “dobrý den! dear Sasha.I want to say something that most people may not think about or take me as the simpleton I am not: I am thinking of the repercussions of what is going on not only on Ukrainians but on Russians as well.. to sum it up: Although I have marched for good causes over the years, one of the reasons I will never be a hardcore activist (perhaps it is still a luxury in my country over others) it is because I believe that polarization forgets people who should never pay for the mistakes of their “Mis-leaders”–of any side–as I call them. I have an M.A. master’s in geography and it is a sibling of History: it shows so well the countries formed back and forth by the parceling by those who deem themselves wiser than the people whose countries boundaries they decide to change. So yes, my main thoughts now are both for Ukrainians and for the Russians, the “regular folks” who do not deserve to pay for the mistakes of those who control them.

    Even if you don’t agree with me I think you will accept my point of view as I will accept yours if it is contrary. I think this type of thoughts are somewhat easier for me to share with someone I don’t know as well, as I don’t feel the potential loss of friendship. Be well stay well and my “Pagan prayers” –no apologies I think they work just as well–are with the people you love in your native country. ” I quickly got an answer thanking me for my support.

    Later on, I was reading an e-book I enjoy which I have been browsing intermittently, rather than “bingeing on,” something I can do extremely well/badly?. Do you know the word “Bibliomancy?”–“Divination by interpretation of a passage chosen at random from a book, especially the Bible.” well for this Pagan, it wasn’t neither the Good Book, nor the “Bad one in any form and shape. But that evening I read a chapter and I fell upon these words in a chapter entitled ” “A Bug’s Death”
    “I began to see that the secret of war – of all mass murder – is to deny the individuality of the designated victim. That’s what makes the killing so damned easy: we convert our victims into abstract symbols.”

    Thank you to the author who will recognize himself and his readers. I slept better last night not that I want everybody to agree with me but that it is soothing when thoughts that matter to me get an echo.

    I shall write some more within a couple of days because this is enough as far as length. It will touch geopolitics as I have learned it in theory and experienced it second hand so someone who lived with the hardships it entails.

    BTW besides the contributors to this site that appeal to me or make me reflect about pretty sizable differences–this place is not as moderate as it seems– I have a soft spot for Ron, besides the fact that is the first one to answer my very first post in November. 1) he is a brother in verbosity 2) he is steady as it goes, the one who is around day in and day out from the time Rick posts his monthly monologue.
    Hence he is the one who gets some of the applause, and the one who gets the criticisms from mild to abrasive, so by the time they get to Rick they no longer sound like the main answer to him haha! All of this all of this said in good spirit. Claire

  21. Vermonta permalink
    March 5, 2022 8:04 am

    On the topic of assassination Marjorie Greene reacted strongly and even sounded rational until you realize where she is actually coming from. Meanwhile Ted Cruz said exactly what I have been saying while Lindsey graham said exactly what I am thinking. He just probably should not have said it publically.

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