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Surreal Times, Real Anger

March 31, 2022

Nobody expected, back in March of 2020, that we’d now be entering the third year of our wretched coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a hard and unforgiving life: the constant masking, the avoidance of friends and strangers alike, the ritual cleansing of groceries with disinfectant wipes, the abandonment of indoor public amusements, and the ongoing war between the pro- and anti-vax tribes.

Yes, cases are sharply down as I write this, but we know the routine by now. It’s just a matter of time before the virus cleverly assumes another shape and packs another wallop. (Amazing how such brainless, infinitesimally microscopic cells can be more adaptable than the average human; the gods must love them.)

Even if we’ve survived the pandemic unscathed by the evil bug, Covid has been almost as hard on our minds and souls as it has on the millions of bodies afflicted by it. We’ve grown snappish and impatient. Crime has soared while our social lives have shrunk. We’re tired of watching yet another damned variant pop up to taunt us just when we thought we were in the clear. We despise anyone who disagrees with our politics, of course. And the world around us has come to look increasingly surreal.

For example, we’re just supposed to accept, without blinking or snickering, that a broad-shouldered biological male swimmer who identifies as female must be allowed to compete in women’s swimming events. No matter that the swimmer in question wins nearly every race, often by whopping margins, or that even the swimmer’s teammates have objected (anonymously, of course) to his/her presence on the team. Anyone failing to pretend that the transgender swimmer is a bona fide woman earns a prompt rebuke – condemned as transphobic (read “heretical,” “unclean,” or “unfit for polite society”). Funny, isn’t it, that women’s rights have suddenly slipped below trans rights on the intersectional totem pole.

And how about that surreal moment at the 94th Academy Awards? When Oscar nominee (and eventual winner) Will Smith marched up to the podium and whacked Chris Rock upside the head, the world let out a collective gasp. Some of us realized at that moment that we had finally entered the Twilight Zone, and it still seems unreal. Imagine Jimmy Stewart slapping Cary Grant. Or even Mel Gibson spewing profanities at Tom Hanks. It just wouldn’t happen except in an alternate universe.

We’re living in that alternate universe now. While the pandemic has uprooted our lives, we’ve watched in disbelief as one outrage tops another, just when we thought the world couldn’t possibly keep coming up with new ways to shock us.

Of course, one multimillionaire celebrity smacking another in public can’t compare to a Russian despot smacking 40 million of his neighbors with bombs, destruction, and premature death. And yet there was something emblematic about the slap heard ‘round the world.

In half a minute or less, we witnessed rage that could no longer be contained… rage so far out of proportion to the provocation that it seemed to encapsulate all the over-the-top reactions we’ve seen during the past few years: senseless mass shootings… lifelong friends unfriending each other over politics… the nationwide riots and looting in response to the occasional unwarranted police killings of black criminal suspects… a U.S. president attempting to overturn an election he clearly lost… an angry mob storming the Capitol to help overturn that election on behalf of their idol… obsessive identity politics stemming from built-up grievances, whether legitimate or imagined… mandatory groupthink conquering the “enlightened” segments of American society, with dissenters publicly dissed, shamed and tossed onto the scrap heap. And of course, the brutal invasion of Ukraine – the ultimate over-the-top angry response to minor provocations.

All of the above are extreme reactions. Of course, we live in an era that promotes extremism in all its forms, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised when it smacks us in the face. That’s the lesson we’ve been learning from Ukraine, Oscar night, Trumpism, identity politics, and all the rest of the unholy, surreal pageant of life in the twenty-first century. If we’re moderate in our politics and behavior, our faces are pretty sore by now.

Because extremism is more dramatic than moderation, it tends to win more huzzahs from a drama-craving public. It sells… it’s a conduit for stifled anger… it plays to a receptive tribal audience. But I have to wonder if the twin shocks of Putin’s Ukraine invasion and Will Smith’s unprecedented face-slap might have signaled a turning of the tide. The almost universal revulsion spawned by both events was remarkable for uniting people who agree about almost nothing else.

Yes, both Putin and Will Smith have their diehard defenders. (Putin was fighting a Neo-Nazi regime! Smith was defending a black woman’s honor!) But my inner optimist is hoping that those two gentlemen might have revealed the ugliness of extreme behavior once and for all. If, by chance, they’ve shocked some of our extremists into becoming less angry, less tribal and more inclined to forgive, America will be a better and stronger nation.


Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate. His three brilliant (but inexplicably overlooked) collections of darkly humorous essays are available on Amazon and wherever else e-books are sold. Choose your favorite title or buy all three. They’re selling for the ridiculously low price of $2.99 each – less than a latte at Starbucks, and much more fortifying.

All content at The New Moderate is copyright 2007-2022 by Rick Bayan. Feel free to quote from this site as long as you credit Rick Bayan as the author.

199 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2022 5:15 am

    So good to read a Moderate in a world full of yellow journalism and screed. The Reform Party USA is rebuilding its brand after a decade of turmoil. Stop by if you get a chance.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 1, 2022 10:50 pm

      Thanks, RC. I’ve tried to stay nonpartisan, but if your party is for unity and clean politics, I’ll definitely check it out.

  2. Vermonta permalink
    April 1, 2022 9:49 am

    Hi Rick, Its another on-target piece, thank you for continuing your moderate quest.

    I guess the headline applies (at least) to the last 5 or 6 years. really.
    Whatever happened at the Academy awards, its about number 12,345 on my list of concerns. Were it not for the invasion of Ukraine it might be higher on my list, perhaps all the way up to 12,344. I have no Idea what Rock said, and I don’t want to know. If it was really so bad Will Smith may well have been entitled to punch him in the gut and knock the wind out of him, but privately, not at the awards. Anyhow, I don’t care about the lives of hollywood celebrities at all, outside of thinking that woody allen is a talented man but a complete wretch as a human and roman polanski is even worse. But that is old news. The world of the national enquirer celebrity gossip and the world of so-called American culture is not my world. The last great cultural thing this country produced was rock and roll and the last important movie in my world was Being There. I’ll admit to admiring Will Smith as an actor and person much more than the average hollywood schmuck.

    As you may guess, all I really care about now is Ukraine and the political derangement in both parties but most especially the GOP. Maybe, I hope, Putin will have performed a miracle and pulled the GOP out of trump and trumpism for the most part.

    Nothing at some smarmy Hollywood event could make my radar, not before and not after the twin catastrophes of trump and putin.

    Even before putin’s invasion I saw some signs that the strength of the positions of the activist idiots of both the right and left were declining, which would make moderate voices the winners by default if so. Moderates can only ever win by default it seems, when the extremes finally piss off too many people. Lets hope.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 1, 2022 10:59 pm

      Thanks, Roby. “The Slap” doesn’t come close to rivaling the war in Ukraine, of course. I just thought it summed up so much about our times in one outrageous gesture: the ill-suppressed anger, the extreme overreactions to minor slights, and the way the last few years have been able to deliver one shock after another.

      I agree that the tide may have been turning even before the war and the Slap. Conscientious conservatives like George Will have distanced themselves from Trumpism, and the wokesters are starting to alienate traditional liberals who believe in archaic principles like free speech and the content of one’s character.

      By the way, “Being There” ranks high on my list of favorite movies. Hard to believe it’s already over 40 years old!

  3. Ron P permalink
    April 1, 2022 12:14 pm

    Rick, Excellent work! You out did any of your more recent articles.

    You comment “But my inner optimist is hoping that those two gentlemen might have revealed the ugliness of extreme behavior once and for all. If, by chance, they’ve shocked some our extremists into becoming less angry, less tribal and more inclined to forgive, America will be a better and stronger nation.”

    My pessimistic side does not believe this will happen. I think the division will continue to grow because the tribes will continue to demand more special treatments and the “conventional middle” will continue to ignore what is happening on the left and right until it impacts them personally, which at that time is too late because they will have become angry at the action that impacted them.

    For example, a recent decision by a Washington State school district has created student discipline based on culturally responsive discipline criteria. It is now been determined by those in that school district that kids of different environments are disciplined differently within the environment that they are raised, so punishment for like behaviors will be punished using some criteria to base punishment on cultural differences. They gave no specifics on how that different criteria will be administered. But if one ever wants to continue to create more division in the country, all one needs to do is formalize a long term practice of punishing students differently based on some “experts” theory that will be very difficult to explain to parents..

    While the unwritten plan has impacted minorities more severely in the past, this plan may reverse that. Regardless of which group of kids get punished more severely, having that practice is wrong and putting it in writing will do nothing but create division between those punished differently.

    So as the tribes demand special treatment for any reason, each time those special treatments are created, it has a negative impact on someone else. Equality can not be achieved when unequal treatment is provided to any group. As an example, the trans swimmer is being given unequal treatment by being allowed to swim against women. Equal treatment would be to create three divisions within sports at all levels. “M”, “T” and “F”.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 1, 2022 11:13 pm

      Thanks, Ron. It won’t be easy to roll back the power of the extremists, but as I mentioned to Roby, it’s already starting to happen in fits and starts. Yes, the wokesters control academia and the mainstream press, and they’ve even made inroads into the corporate world. People are terrified to disagree with them for fear of being excommunicated from polite society.

      What makes me just a little optimistic is that as the extremists continue to grow more extreme, they’re starting to alienate the more clear-thinking individuals — people who might have sided with them initially but now feel that they can no longer pass the extremists’ purity tests. I think they’ve watched the extremists on both sides move the goal posts of acceptable belief so that only the most extreme of them measure up… and they’re starting to rebel.

      It’ll take some work for that to happen in the academic world, because independent thinkers are afraid of losing their jobs. But I know some universities have come down firmly on the side of free speech, and that’s a welcome sign. On top of that, some notable black thinkers have objected to the wokesters’ treatment of blacks as helpless victims who need coddling. Let’s hope their line of thinking gains some traction.

  4. rondabellelane permalink
    April 1, 2022 3:13 pm

    As I told you earlier, Rick – excellent piece. What more can I say?
    I read frustration bordering on anger, gradually simmering down to an excellent piece that saw the possibility of compromise and a degree of understanding.
    Amazing (and sad) how Putin’s actions could have brought us to that, but he seems to have inadvertently helped.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 1, 2022 11:22 pm

      Thanks, Ronda. (Gee, I’m thanking everybody. I wonder if I’ll even be thanking Dave when he chimes in.) I might have overstated the importance of Putin’s war and Will Smith’s slap as turning points in our struggle against extremism, but I hope not. I like to think both outrages have opened people’s eyes to the sheer madness of angry behavior that’s far out of proportion to the provocation.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 2, 2022 1:39 am

        Well Rick, as I said, I don’t think things will get any better due to these two issues. One, Ukraine is a war that was brought on by a foreign leader that most anyone on either side of the isle does not like or may not even know who he is if asked.( The same ones that cant ID the president) As for Will Smith, there are a bunch of people like me that does not give a damn what they do in Hollywood. They have been disrespectful to others for years, so a slp is not much difference than the verbal abuse they provide, its just that speech is protected and a slap is not.

        That slap has been a long time coming! No longer are comedians funny, they are not comedians as real comedians were in the days of Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Carol Burnett and many others. Today their routines are either vulgar or they are highly disrespectful and insulting. Had the act today been used when comedians were funny, Chris Rock would be playing the side street dive bars and not emceeing the Oscars.

        But with the attitude of people today, it is fine to make fun of, chastise one, point out flaws and basically bully someone and people sit and laugh like it is all fine and good. The only time this ever happened before was during a roast and even during those they were more private and not something that was seen by millions in America,

        So my thoughts is the slap is the symptom of the disease that effects America today. And the disease today is the disrespect that many people in this country display whenever they disagree with another persons opinion. R E S P E C T is basically dead in America and it is getting worse because leaders in the country in both parties set the example that it is fine to treat others in this manner. Not until we see leaders in politics, education, media and other influential setting decide that attacking others and their positions in a disrespectful way is not acceptable will anything begin to turn around so in 20 years we may be more accepting of others positions.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 2, 2022 6:24 pm

        Putin’s war and the Smith’s slap are on two different plains, but MOST people agree on them – and that does matter. We’ve agreed on so little lately.
        Putin’s war can hardly be called something that everyone agrees with because they hate Putin, when our former ‘whatever he was’ acted like best buddies and he was still supported by the right.

        And that slap? Humor does often get too raunchy for my taste, but sarcasm? Sarcasm has been a part of humor forever. Seems to me some forget the ‘roasts’ that were always so popular and laughed at. Thin skin has been ‘in’ far too long for my taste.

        I personally care little about Will & Jayda’s marriage, or what agreements they have come to regarding other partners – it matters not. What does matter here is a sense of entitlement too many feel, but now – with it occurring in the midst of one race – are ashamed of.

        I somehow feel that the absurdity of both the far right and the far left will awaken more sensibility.

      • April 2, 2022 7:59 pm

        Ronda, there is one huge difference between a roast and disrespectful humor of today. When an individual is “roasted” they knew what they were walking into. Even with Don Rickles, if you went to a show of his, you knew beforehand you were fair game.

        I have no idea what Chis Rocks show is like. If he normally attacks the audience like Rickles, then smith should have known Jada was fair game. If not, the Rock was way out of line.

        Seems to me looking at Twitter feeds, the only ones talking about this is the left wing media and the few nitwits that follow Hollywood’s elitist news. We have 330 million people in America. There were 15 million in the country watching. Double that for people checking why there is stuff on twitter, you have 10% maybe careing what happened.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 2, 2022 9:32 pm

        Ron, I’ve seen Chris Rock perform, and he isn’t an insult specialist like Don Rickles. On the other hand, he’s hosted awards shows in the past, including the Oscars, just a few years ago, and he has joked about all of the celebrities and nominees. This time, he was a presenter, but obviously was told to do his comedy thing first.

        Regina Hall, a host of this year’s Oscar show, made a much meaner, tastless joke about Will and Jada, when she called up to the stage single men that she found attractive, saying that she would swab them for covid with her tongue. When she called up Will Smith , she said, something like “I know you’re married, but Jada said it was ok,” referring to the Smith’s open marriage. Link has the video clip.

        Many felt that Will was humiliated by that, and that it led to him overreacting to Rock’s relatively mild joke about Jada looking like another beautiful actress (Demi Moore) with a shaved head. He may have even thought that she also shaved her head for a role.

        I’m pretty sure that this will blow over.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 2, 2022 11:56 pm

        Priscilla Thanks for the feedback. Since I have never watched the Oscars ( that I can remember) I have no idea what goes on other than a bunch of elitist millionaires meeting to show off multi-thousand dollar cloths, drinking and.listening to none stop “thank yous”.

        Rick thinks this might cause people to examine the way they have behaved. When I see people from Hollywood change their behavior, then I may be more optimistic society will do the same. But as long as Hollywood believes being a bully and denigrating anyone that does not hold the same views as them, I cant be optimistic change will occur.

        But based on your description of the obnoxious comments made by the host, whatever any of them do to each other is well deserved. And with the lefts double standards, had a male said the same concerning female actors, they would be chastised for being sexist and criticized more heavily than Smith for his slap.

        So since I am running off with comments based on not knowing any details and basing any on the Hollywood environment that I see, I think I have said too much already, so now I will shut up on this subject.

        As a footnote to the Ukraine war issue. I was watching a financial news program, either PBS or Bloomberg. Talking about gas prices and oil prices. The Russian oil embargo has not even begun to hit the USA yet. Bidens directive was “Oil companies, you can not enter into any new contracts to buy Russian oil as of this date (whatever it was). But if they have contracts signed and funds have or are in the contract to be paid, that oil can still come into the refineries. There information said most contracts are for a period of about 90 days, so Bidens embargo on the oil will actually hit late April, mid May.. That is why so many oil consultants have been projecting $150+ per barrel once that actually takes effect. I will not be surprised once the summer driving hits for gas to be+$5.00 national average, California +$7.00.

        What better way to promote Ev’s than this!

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:48 pm

        Actually, Priscilla – he was laughing UNTIL he looked at his wife.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:47 pm

        He does normally attack, (if that’s what you call it) audiences. Maybe there is enough written about this incident, but what is written should be checked first.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:55 pm

        the Penn Gillette movie “The Aristocrats” is 17 years old.

        Chris Rock does not even come close to the “disrepectful and disgusting” bar set by that.

        Comedy is inherently OFFENSIVE.

        The problem with comedy today is not that it is disrespectful.
        It is that it is not funny.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 3:16 pm

        “I somehow feel that the absurdity of both the far right and the far left will awaken more sensibility.”

        If that happened – how would you know ?

        If Ivanka got a 3.5M diamond from a Putin tied Russian Oligarch Trump would have been successfully removed from office.

        But you aparently do not even know that Hunter Biden got the diamond.

        It has recently come out that a group inside the CIA was actively trying to get the Hunter Biden laptop hard drive in 2020 – to determine if Joe Biden was compromised by the Russians.

        But they were ordered to stop.

      • April 3, 2022 7:47 pm

        Dave can you share a link to the cia-hunter biden investigation issue they were ordered to stop

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 1:34 am

        When I trip over it again – I will provide a link.

        The Hunter Biden stories are not going away, and they are not going to get any better for the Biden’s.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 2, 2022 5:24 pm

      Do you beleive the conflict in Ukraine could have been resolved by compromise ?

      What would that have looked like ?

      If Putin decided that Alaska used to be part of Russian and that he wanted it back – is there come compromise that would resolve that ?

      Compromise is a NEUTRAL tool.

      IT is NOT a value, and certainly not a principle.

      SOME Compromises are good. Many are bad,

      Some disagreements can be solved by compromise,
      Some can not.

      If you do not understand that you can expect as much success as Neville Chamerbelain had at Munich with Hitler.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 2, 2022 5:31 pm

        Dave you must have read a article from Rick that I did not see.

        Where did Rick say anything about compromise in Ukraine? I would like to see that piece.

        But since I asked where he said it, I will comment about compromise in Ukraine.

        No one knows if compromise is something that can happen or not in Ukraine. No one knows what that would look like. No one knows if and when it will or could happen.

        But what I do know is only Ukraine and Putin know if it can happen, if it will happen and what it would look like. No one else needs to be sticking their noses into that issue nor does it need to be debated or discussed by anyone other than the parties involved. Much the same as anuy other issue where two parties compromise to reach and agreement.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 3:27 pm

        Did YOU read what I wrote ?

        You, and Rick treat compromise as if it is something scared, a magic want to fix all problems.
        That failure to compromise is inherently evil.

        Rick has since responded – making it clear that he believes that this could have been avoided by a compromise no one was talking about at the time.

        This did not occur because talks between Russia and Ukraine broke down.

        It occured because Ukraine was strengthening ties to NATO.
        Getting more weapons. and training with NATO forces.

        Should they be allowed to do that if they want ?

        Was it wise ? Doesn’t look that way.

      • April 3, 2022 7:51 pm

        You dont read either! I ask where did Rick address compromise concerning Ukraine BEFORE his response to you. You have not provided that. I suspect you wont because he did not until you made your unsubstantiated claim

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 1:40 am


        The timing of posts changes NOTHING.

        FURTHER – again YOU are not reading. I NOTED that Ricks response was AFTER.

        But please read the relavant sentences

        “You, and Rick treat compromise as if it is something scared, a magic want to fix all problems. That failure to compromise is inherently evil. ”

        I do not say – 2 minutes ago – or 2 minutes in the future this is true.

        Your and Rick’s religious position on Compromise is atleast as old as I have been posting on TNM.

        I am not criticizing something you or Rick have just said for the first time.

        I am criticizing a position that you have overtly and indirectly expressed for years.

        It is STILL wrong.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 5, 2022 5:08 pm

        Dave, I ask you to correct me if I am wrong concerning compromise. You believe compromise is bad and mostly always bad from what I can take from your comments. You believe it is only a tool for opposing opinions to reach some agreement, and most times that agreement is worse than not doing anything at all.

        My opinion is compromise is a way for opposing opinions to reach a deal where they both get something and that something is most often good. Yes there are times that the compromise is bad, but the good that can take place exceeds that bad.

        So to begin with, I view our country as a result of compromise. And I view our country as a continued free country because compromise continued after the constitution was created.

        So example of the good (My opinon only, you may say it is wrong, but that is your opinion only)

        1. Congress with one chamber created based on population, one based on equal # of senators. Created due to some founding fathers not accepting large states having total control if population controlled representation.

        2. Tariff only used for foreign imports.

        3.More recently, the civil rights act of 1964. This would not have passed had it not been for compromise of some issues to gain GOP support to get it passed.

        And there are many more that I could list, but wont to limit the length of comment.

        What I also see (from my point of view and opinion) is the lack of compromise in the country today leading the division we have. We have a former leader of a major party totally unable to accept defeat that is creating an environment that led to violence on Jan 6th and one that I believe is leading the country further into violent actions. In this case, you compromise your own personal position for the good of the country. That is not happening.

        When two people or two parties can not look at the needs of the country before their onw party or career needs, nothing good comes from deadlock.

        right now we have 1-2 individuals in government creating the need for compromise before anything passes. When that environment does not exist, really bad things can pass, most for promoting party and careers.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 5:24 pm

        Compromise is a tool – only one of many. It has no independent value.

        SOME Compromises are good – some are not,

        This is not merely my opinion. It is an actual fact. It should not be hard for you to think of compromises that were mistakes as well as ones that were good.

        Even “good” compromises are NOT inherently truly good.
        Historically “compromise” accomplishes little more than postponing the conflict.

        We have myriads of famous legislative and judicial compromises that accomplished nothing more than kicking the can down the road.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 5:29 pm

        My problem is not with compromise per se – but wit YOUR and Rick’s positions on compromise.

        You have elevated compromise to a value – even a principle – which is it most certainly is not.

        There are negotiations right now to end the war in Ukraine. Short of the defeat of either Ukraine or Russia the conflict will end – FOR NOW, in a compromise.

        Do you think all possible compromises to end this would be good ?

        Should Ukraine have put down its arms at the start of the invasion ?

        The very fact that people are fighting and dying in Ukraine is PROOF that some things are worth fighting and dying for.

      • April 5, 2022 7:13 pm

        Compromise is an agreement by two entities to accept an outcome that benefits both parties.

        The decision on how to bring the war to a cease-fire rest with the leaders in Ukraine and Russia.

        It is decision based out how many dead the two countries are willing to accept.
        It is a decision on how much destruction Ukraine is willing to accept.
        It is a decision on how much the people of Ukraine are willing to support their countries decisions.
        One thing it is not, it is not something the Russian citizens will have input into any time soon.

        And most importantly, It is not something I would have any idea what should happen and what decision should be made since I am not living and experiencing what is happening in Ukraine.

        So you ask “Do you think all possible compromises to end this would be good ? No!
        Should Ukraine have put down its arms at the start of the invasion ?” No!

        In war, there are no compromises! One party wins, one party loses. It justbdepends on the size of the win and loss.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 3:29 pm

        In what world would a valid counter argument be to demand that I frame the 4 corners of a compromise between Russian and Ukraine ?

        I am NOT the one who sell Compromise as some moral obligation.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 3:41 pm


        The world is involved.

        Ukraine would be at the bargaining table in an instant – if the west threatened to cut off its supply of weapons.

        What Ukraines army is doing is amazing. but they will be wiped out quickly without constant western resupply.
        This war is not being fought with sticks.

      • Rick Bayan permalink
        April 2, 2022 11:24 pm

        Dave: Compromises are like the people who make them; some are good, some are bad, and some are just ineffective. Hindsight tells me that the war might have been prevented if Ukraine had simply let those ethnic Russian border regions secede and join Russia. Ukraine has made too much of an issue of “territorial integrity,” when it would be better off without an alienated border population itching to switch nationalities.

        That said, Putin’s brutal invasion has slashed the chances for such a compromise solution, because it would look as if Ukraine is capitulating to Russian force. Maybe Ukraine could let Russia keep Crimea, which was part of Russia until Khrushchev awarded it to Ukraine back in the 1950s. And it could encourage those Russian speakers in the east to move to Russia if they don’t want to remain part of Ukraine.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:45 pm

        Polishing my crystal ball.

        My LONG view is that Putin will eventually lose power.
        I suspect an eventual coup.
        Russia has been exposed as much weaker than we has suspected. I have real concerns about a post Putin russia – as anarchy in the nations with the largest number of nukes is really bad.

        Russia will be substantially weakened and at that time Ukraine will just take back Crimea, and other ceded territories – probably without using force.

        Is that 2024 ? 2030 ? I do not know.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:48 pm

        I do not think compromise was what was needed here.

        Avoiding this war required:

        Not poking the bear.
        A president other than James Buchannon II.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 9, 2022 11:13 pm

        To the extent there is any significant consensus regarding what actually provoked this – it is the rhetoric of the Obama, Biden adminstrations – as well as European statements about Ukraine joining NATO or the EU.

        There is ZERO doubt that the Russian invasion of Crimea was a direct response to Hillary’s Ukrainian COUP.

        The current Ukraine war is probably the largest Russian conflict – but it is far from the first.

        Everyone has been pretty much the same – some Russia adjacent country that was historically part of Russia or the USSR or both cozies up to the west – and especially starts talking about NATO and Russia sends in Tanks and troops and destroys things – and usually leaves.

        It is not as if this is the first time this has occured.

        In each instance Putin has made claims – much like Hitler of doing so because of Russian ethnic minorities. But that justification has always been thin.

  5. Priscilla permalink
    April 1, 2022 10:08 pm

    Excellent post, Rick. As balanced as anything can be these days, when moderation is often derided and simply defining “moderate” is a challenge.

    We’ve debated that definition here endlessly over the years. Some have gone with the more Platonic view that a moderate is someone who honestly considers genuine, good-faith proposals from both left and right, seeks compromise, and does not believe in any kind of political extremism. Others have just stuck with “all things in moderation, moderation included.”

    Trump’s election blew up those definitions. Compromise with Trump supporters became not only impossible but eeeevil. Any good faith attempt at compromise was rebuffed, and moderates on both sides were often referred to as weaklings and cowards, for not “taking a stand.” Or for taking the wrong stand.

    So, it’s interesting that the Oscar “slap heard round the world” happened at the yearly wokefest at which incredibly rich and beautiful celebrities award each other, for the incredible bravery of making and/or acting in movies, and for being so diverse and inclusive and believing in social justice (but not actual justice).

    Will and Jada Smith are super-woke. They have long said that they are in an open marriage, and have proudly raised at least one non-binary, gender-fluid child. Jada, for her part, has spoken of her autoimmune disorder, and just recently posted on Instagram that she doesn’t give “two craps” what people say about her bald head, because she likes it.

    Except, apparently, she does give two craps. Because Chris Rock’s joke about G.I Jane 2 was pretty mild, yet elicited a definite scowl from her, and, subsequently, Will’s violent, not to mention profane, response.

    And, of course, when Smith was 1)permitted to stay, and 2)actually won the Oscar for Best Actor, he received a long standing ovation from the woke crowd, after which he sobbed that there was no excuse for his behavior and, in the next sentence, excused it as something he had to do to defend his wife’s honor.

    The next day, the gross hypocrisy on display at the Oscars show was too much to excuse away, and the woke mob turned on Smith, who went from saying that he was defending his wife’s honor, to saying that he ruined everyone’s night, and he is voluntarily resigning from the Academy, before the Academy kicks him out. Nah, he didn’t say that…he said he was resigning because he is going to ‘work on himself’ so that this doesn’t happen again.

    I wish I could agree that the general condemnation, on both sides, of Putin and Smith would bring us together in a way that we haven’t been since 2016. Or maybe 2001.

    Like Ron, I tend to be pessimistic on this point. But, we can hope.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 2, 2022 12:04 am

      Thanks, Priscilla. (There I go again — five consecutive “thank you’s” to start my reply.)

      The now-immortal slap was, of course, unprecedented in awards history. The closest I can remember was Kanye West striding up to Taylor Swift at the Grammys and telling her “Imma let you finish, but…” (Although I’ve read that John Wayne had to be restrained from personally yanking Sacheen Littlefeather off the stage when she went into a political tirade back in 1973.)

      What too few talking heads have discussed is whether Chris Rock knew that Jada was suffering from alopecia. He might have thought her buzz-cut was just a fashion statement that made her look like Demi Moore as G.I. Jane. Not exactly an insulting comparison, and totally innocuous. Even if he was aware of her alopecia, he might have been trying to make light of it (“it’s not so terrible; you could pass for a hot warrior”). It’s not as if she had cancer and lost her hair due to chemo.

      I’ve read that the “authorities” at the Oscars actually told Smith to leave the ceremony and he refused. It would have made for an interesting climax when they announced his name as best actor — and somebody had to accept for him. I suspect that escorting him out of the auditorium would have created unreasonable sympathy for him, though — not to mention cries of injustice against “black bodies.”

      Anyway, as I stated in my column, I’ve been hoping that public examples of extreme behavior (whether political or personal) will start shocking people away from extremism in all its forms. And we all have to remember that being moderate isn’t synonymous with dullness or lack of conviction. I’ve probably never revealed this, but I was going to call my blog “The Raving Moderate” until I found out that it was already taken.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 2, 2022 8:23 am

        Rick, you’re much too measured and articulate to be described as “raving.”

        I have wondered if Rock knew that Jada Smith has alopecia, but in the scheme of things, it wouldn’t make any difference. Jada has been publicly open about her condition, and she is a drop-dead gorgeous woman, with or without hair.

        And, as Bill Maher said last night, she could have worn a wig, “like everybody else” if it bothered her so much.

      • Rick Bayan permalink
        April 2, 2022 11:28 pm

        Priscilla: Believe me, sometimes I strain to keep that measured mentality in my writing. Some of the public attitudes and antics I’ve observed have driven me to what I call the “Popeye Point”: you know, “That’s all I can stands, ’cause I can’t stands no more!” (Cue “Stars and Stripes Forever” as I reach for my can of spinach.)

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 3, 2022 10:05 am

        “Popeye Point” ~ that’s great! I’m going to remember and use that term. I wonder if young kids today have enough cultural touchpoints to be able to use a reference like that and have the majority of their cohort understand what it means?

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 2:19 pm

        One of the problems with moral outrage is that unless you are right it is immoral.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 12:39 am

        The Smith/Rock thing is just not consequential.

        Further it is not Shocking anyone to moderation.

        I do not think it is even shocking anyone.
        Sides are drawn, if you are on Team Rock – Smith was wrong, if you areon Team Smith – Rock was wrong and Smith was justified.

        But few people are shocked – and NONE to step back.

        The left, the democratic party, the media, our institutions are all failing BADLY.

        I would like to say that cant continue – but history shows it can – and if it does that it will get worse.

        To those who say it can not get worse here – I answer that Germany was a civilized western country before the Nazi’s infected it.

        Regardless, I do not think the growing justified anger at the left in this country will end in violence – but that is far from certain.

        Regardless, Shock does not typically drive us to peace. It drives us to violence.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 3, 2022 12:42 am

        Were the Ukrainians shocked into a moderate response to Putin’s invasion ?

        The argument that the extreme behavior will result in a return to moderation is disproven by pretty much all of history.

  6. adam Smith permalink
    April 1, 2022 11:37 pm

    Well this post has crept a TINY bit away from Rick’s compulsion to blame everything equally on both the left and the right.

    At the Same time Rick seems unable to accurately grasp the CAUSES of the problems that he is ranting about.

    Of Course We are ANGRY. Anger is a natural consequence of censorship, oppresion, and restrictions on liberty.

    If you want a MUCH better examination of the root CAUSES of our current problems
    Try this article from Tablet.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      April 2, 2022 11:34 pm

      Dave: Frankly, I didn’t think the article explained the causes of our over-the-top anger and polarization… it just cited numerous examples of HOW we’re angry and polarized. Also, whenever anyone raises the issue of vaccines as an example of authoritarian deprivation of our freedoms, I’m tempted to answer, “How about red lights, then? Aren’t they an imposition on your precious freedom?” Our personal freedom ends where it harms others.

  7. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 1, 2022 11:38 pm

    Well this post has crept a TINY bit away from Rick’s compulsion to blame everything equally on both the left and the right.

    At the Same time Rick seems unable to accurately grasp the CAUSES of the problems that he is ranting about.

    Of Course We are ANGRY. Anger is a natural consequence of censorship, oppresion, and restrictions on liberty.

    If you want a MUCH better examination of the root CAUSES of our current problems
    Try this article from Tablet.

    • Ron P permalink
      April 2, 2022 1:11 am

      Would have been a good article had he foot noted each reference he uses to make a point. Right now its just his opinion and nothing more, just like the talking heads on Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and any other alphabet news atation.

  8. vermonta permalink
    April 3, 2022 8:12 am

    I am amazed reading these comments how much energy people are devoting towards some snit at the Academy awards. My positive attitude towards Will Smith is based on information that I had a decade ago. I have no idea who Jada is or what she looks like. I have none of this mega-detailed information about the Smiths and I never ceased to be amazed that people put such a huge level of effort into knowing about such things. Long ago it was established that Smith is a very hard worker and a very positive person, and as well, quite a funny guy who was highly versatile as an actor. As to his politics or activities now I have no clue. And its going to stay that way. I do not care at all about the world of celebrities.

    Howard Stern and that TV show where the host encouraged idiotic fights (I even forget its name) were moments on the way down, and then we had some imbecile World Wrestling host as POTUS, a man who is now still the most powerful figure in the GOP and so-called conservative movement (Regan would puke) in spite of his demented behaviors and cosmic level of ignorance. We will see if so-called American culture can find an upward trajectory and some decency and class ever again. I do know about the elections of 1800, 1824 and 1828, we were never so great as we might might imagine culturally, but we are evolving in our science, medicine, and technology as time has gone on since 1800 and there have been moments when it seemed from a distance that culturally we had some class.

    Its like maybe 20% of the population who sincerely like to roll in shit, but they define the entertainment business and under trump, politics, and they have dragged us down to the level of animals. At least some upward movement is possible against this backdrop.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 3, 2022 12:14 pm


      I find is humeorus that you are constantly citing Republicans like Reagan, or Romney, or Will to try to criticize Trump. Do you expect anyone to beleive that you respected any of those people in the past ?

      What republican presidential candidate has not been called a Nazi ?

      Trump is quite litterally the Anti-Romney. Democrats Walked all over Romney, and that is a major factor in Trump’s rise. Republicans elected someone you could not walk over.

      Further like you I grew up in the Pre-Reagn era. Just like Trump no one expected Reagan to win in 1980, Reagan was the Trump of his era. Even their policies are similar.

      The Southern Wall was first authorized During the Reagan presidency. The oldest sections of the wall date to the 80’s. Reagan used trade policy as a carrot and a stick, He was accused of being racist and antigay. He was accused of being anti-science. He was also purportedly a light weight, prone to gaffes.
      Yet today he is remembered as “the great communicator”

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 3, 2022 1:04 pm

      “Its like maybe 20% of the population who sincerely like to roll in shit, but they define the entertainment business and under trump, politics, and they have dragged us down to the level of animals.”

      Did you read this before you posted ?

      What is this synergy between the entrertainment business and Trump ?

      The very people you piss over the most are the ones who are LEAST influenced by those in entertainment.
      While those you fawn over are the ones most likely to have actually watched as Smith slapped Rock.

      You do not live in the real world.

    • rondabellelane permalink
      April 3, 2022 2:53 pm

      Agree. My comments in response were as short as possible. BUT we are capable of considering more than one issue, and they both do seem to separate us more from the far sides.

  9. vermonta permalink
    April 3, 2022 8:18 am

    I will continue to post things on Ukraine and putin, but I will use the discussion on that topic instead of the the latest post by Rick, for that purpose. That way I will not divert this topic from Rick’s purpose. I did find an interview with a retired General who has been involved in Ukrainian military matters that I think is probably the gold standard for an informed military analysis of the war. I will post it on the Putin Overreaches topic.

  10. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 3, 2022 6:16 pm

    This peice by Glenn Greenwald seems the perfect response to Rick’s rant.

    The gist of which is
    “To Avoid Criticism, Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing”

    Greenwald focuses on the demand of the elite to be free from criticism – they are a big and easy target and certainly the most deserving.

    But the problem is larger. So many – even posters here, attempt to wrap themselves in victimhood and demand that whatever nonsense they might say – they should still be immune from criticism.

    • April 3, 2022 8:06 pm

      “But the problem is larger. So many – even posters here, attempt to wrap themselves in victimhood and demand that whatever nonsense they might say – they should still be immune from criticism”

      The only person here who wraps themself in victimhood and expects to be immune from criticism is you.

      No one here criticizes others here for their opinions OTHER THAN YOU! We have discussions and we dont always agree, we question, we comment, if we agree, the discussion ends because that is how to handle subject where an agreement can not occur.

      Why do you think others just ignore most of your comments? Could it be that it is impossible to discuss anything with you without you telling us how wrong we are based on your opinion.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 4, 2022 5:56 pm


      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 2:35 am

        Beat that straw man to a pulp.

        Try READING Greenwald.

        All echoing Ron does is make clear you did not understand a thing Glenn said.

        I have never sought to silence you.

        I use the word FORCE constantly. Words are NOT force.

        I have not used force against you.
        I have not threatened you with force.
        I have not begged Rick, the gods, or Karma to impose my will on you by FORCE.

        Pretty much every Article Rick posts eventually results in someone here demanding that I am silenced.

        Since Ron does not grasp this – I am not wrapping myself in victimhood.

        Rick can silence me anytime he wants.
        It does not make me a victim.
        But it speaks volumes about you.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 2:44 am


        I have lived a long life.
        I have been an actual victim too many times in the real world.
        This is not the real world, It is the internet.
        If you can not deal with criticism, argument debate here, you will wilt and die if faced with the slightest adversity in the real world.

        One of the things I have learned – painfully, in the real world, is that holding on to being a victim is self harm.

        If you are robbed, raped, bullied, beaten, cheated, lied about, you are the only person who can make you strong again.
        Wrapping yourself in the mantle of the victim, makes you weaker and sucks all the joy out of your life. Worse still – whatever laid you low – wins.

        It is not getting knocked to the floor that takes the joy from your life.
        It is staying on the floor.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 2:20 am

        Read, don’t.

        I have no control over that.

        Nor am I moved by your suggestion that ignoring errors would bring anyone closer to answers.

        Need I reiterate that EVERYTHING is not an opinion, and of those things that are opinions – they are not all equal.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 2:24 am

        If two people agree -why would they post more than “I agree” ?

        If you agree with what Rick posts – why comment at all ?

        There is a “Like” button under the post.

  11. Priscilla permalink
    April 4, 2022 7:47 pm

    No one thinks that the behavior of Will Smith, his wife, or Chris Rock is of any real consequence, especially as we teeter on the brink of WWIII.

    No one. No one thinks that.

    So, if we are going to make that the bar that must be cleared before we can talk about the incident, why it may, or may not, signify a change in our culture wars or political enmity, or even what exactly precipitated one superstar celebrity attacking another superstar celebrity at the biggest awards show on the planet, and on live tv…well. I guess we can’t talk about it, and Rick can’t write about it. Which would be silly.

    I’m pretty sure that the energy expended on the topic is proportional to the interest people have in it. Based on the amount of coverage it’s gotten, I would say there are a lot of people who find it interesting, and for a number of reasons, involving issues of feminism, racism, mental health, and the consequences of violence, as well as chivalry, elitism, and hypocrisy.

    Not as serious as a war, but worth discussing, I think. And, I’m glad that Rick brought it up.

    • April 4, 2022 9:24 pm

      Priscilla, your next to last paragraph gives a different take on the issue. Many different opinions depending on ones perspective.

      Rock should be happy that Smith slapped him in a Hollywood film method of slaps. Side of face, open fist, most of the impact appears to be fingers and not palm. A much different conversation had it been a street fight punch

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 4, 2022 9:49 pm

        You bring up an interesting point, Ron, that I’ve wondered about, even as I’ve seen the video of Smith smacking Rock a couple of dozen times now.

        It was a weird way to hit someone. If Smith had hauled off and punched Rock, it would have been much worse, on many levels. At first I thought, “Sheesh, kind of a sissy slap.” ( I know, that’s kind of un-PC) But then I remembered that Will Smith had played Muhammad Ali in a film about the boxer, and had many realistic fight scenes, so, presumably, he knows how to throw a punch.

        But he didn’t do that. Instead, he smacked Rock “upside the head,” and Rock appeared to see it coming. I wonder if it was staged, after all?

        I’ve also wondered why Jada herself didn’t get up and slap Rock. She was the offended one, and feminism dictates that women can take care of these things themselves, and don’t need men to protect them….

        Again, none of this is important, but it was a strange event, no doubt.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 5, 2022 3:02 am

        That is correct – What happened is FACTS.
        what it means to YOU is opinion.

        It is also the least controversial type of opinion there is, because it has no consequences.

        My Opinion is this is small potatoes.

        I do not see it as being consequential.

        Men have done far worse throughout history over slights to their wives.
        Sometimes defending their wives honor, sometimes. defending their own ego.

        This is not new, nor reflective of the times.
        It is aparently not the first time the awards shows have been violent.

  12. vermonta permalink
    April 7, 2022 12:14 pm

    Since the discussion of the slap has fallen off and people are discussing Ukraine and putin again I will post some links here that interest me on reactions to the war by cultural and scientific figures in Russia. These reactions show the extent of the harm that putin has done to science in particular. The scientists and musicians who have signed these open letters are behaving with heroism. The letter from the scientists has been removed from the Russian website along with the names of the 8000+ signers. Russian classical music has been one of the most successful exports of Russia and has provided very good PR. Now they have lost that. Some famous Russian musicians such as denis matsuev, who I have seen play twice in Moscow 20 years ago, are strong putinists. I am very happy to see that Vladimir Spivakov, a very beloved international performer and a person who runs a famous international program for young musicians is among the principle signers of this letter. Our putin loving ex friend once ran his foundation. She should read this letter.

    These kinds of things show that the intelligent people in Russia whose professions brought them into contact with the world outside Russia are as strongly against this war as possible and someday these people may make an even stronger attempt to save science and the arts in Russia. Below are the texts of the open letters. I am hoping to see a full fledged result of Russian scientists in particular.

    Numerous Russian cultural leaders have signed a petition for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to stop the war.
    In the letter, which was signed by the Bolshoi Theatre’s General Director Vladimir Urin and prominent conductor and violinist Vladimir Spivakov, leaders said, “We now speak not only as cultural figures, but as ordinary people, citizens of our country, our Homeland. Among us are the children and grandchildren of those who fought in the Great Patriotic War, witnesses and participants of that War.”
    They added, “Each of us lives a genetic memory of war. We don’t want a new war, we don’t want people to die. The past 20th century has brought too much grief and suffering to humanity. We want to believe that the 21st century will become a century of hope, openness, dialogue, a century of human conversation, a century of love, compassion, and mercy. We call on everyone on whom it depends, all sides of the conflict, to stop the armed action, and to sit at the table for negotiations. We call for the preservation of the highest value – human life.”
    The signatories of the letter include Oleg BASILASHVILI, Mikhail BYCHKOV, Igor Zolotovitskyi, Igor Kostolevsky, Dmitry Krymov, Evgeny Mironov, Andrei Moguchy, Eugene PISAREV, Konstantin RAIKIN, Maria REVYAKINA, Victor RYZHAKOV, Yuri ROST, Vladimir SPIVAKOV, Vladimir URIN, Nina USATOVA, Valery FOKIN, and Alyssa FREINDLICH.

    We, the undersigned Russian scientists and science journalists, declare our strong opposition to the Russian hostilities launched against the Ukrainian people. These hostilities are incurring huge human losses and undermines the foundations of the established system of international security. The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia.
    There is no rational justification for this war. Obviously, Ukraine poses no threat to the security of Russia. The attempts to use the situation in Donbass as a pretext for launching a military operation are totally contrived. The war against Ukraine is unjust and frankly nonsense.
    Ukraine has been and remains a country close to us. Many of us have relatives, friends, and colleagues living in Ukraine. Our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers fought together against Nazism, and unleashing a war for the sake of the geopolitical ambitions of the leadership of the Russian Federation, driven by dubious historiosophical fantasies, is a cynical betrayal of their memory.
    We respect the Ukrainian statehood, which rests on the ideals of a democratic institution. We are sympathetic to the orientation of Ukraine toward the European Union. We are convinced that all of the problems in the relationships between our countries could have been resolved peacefully.
    Having unleashed the war, Russia has doomed itself to international isolation. It has devolved into a pariah country. This means that we, Russian scientists and journalists, will no longer be able to do our job in a normal way because conducting scientific research is unthinkable without cooperation and trust with colleagues from other countries. The isolation of Russia from the world means cultural and technological degradation of our country with a complete lack of positive prospects. The war with Ukraine is a step to nowhere.
    It is bitter to realize that our country, which has made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism, has now instigated a new war on the European continent. We demand an immediate halt to all military operations directed against Ukraine. We demand respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state. We demand peace for our countries.
    Let’s make science, not war!

    • vermonta permalink
      April 7, 2022 12:16 pm

      full fledged result = full fledged revolt.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 8, 2022 2:06 pm

      That you for the information regarding meaningful russian disidence.

  13. vermonta permalink
    April 7, 2022 12:18 pm

    more on the destruction of Russian science by putin

  14. vermonta permalink
    April 7, 2022 12:24 pm

    This is two weeks old, the numbers have gone up since then. This gives one an idea what putin and his generals are willing to do to young RUssian men. Its horrible. Someday a reckoning will come.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 8, 2022 2:12 pm

      I would fully support the efforts of the Russian people to hold Putin accountable.

      Biden’s “Regime change” remark brought the concept of removing Putin to the fore.

      I support the RUSSIAN PEOPLE removing Putin, just as I hope the Afghans remove the

      I do NOT support the US or NATO trying to remove Putin or any other world leader, by any means. We have done or tried that in the past – we have dozens of disasterous results singe WWII.

      Ultimately a nations people must choose their own government – even to the point of dying for it.

      That is what Ukrainians are doing right now.

      Many sources are pointing out that despite Zelenskies incredible performance – Ukraine is NOT some incredible enlightened western democracy. That does not matter.

      The US should not have meddled in the government of ukraine in 2014. Putin should not have invaded in 2022. These are not the same, they are both wrong.

      I hope the Russian people choose a new govenrment. But that is THEIR job. Not ours,

  15. vermonta permalink
    April 7, 2022 12:35 pm

    This is from a British tabloid, its almost certainly exaggerated. I have the benefit on having an Army officer in my family, he explained to me several weeks back that if the Russian army has lost 15,000 dead then the invasion force is broken and not capable of further effective combat.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 8, 2022 2:24 pm

      Lots is lost in the “fog of war”.

      It is near certain that Ukraine is doing much better than the west expected.

      It is probably that Russia is doing far worse than Putin expected.

      It is NOT clear this is or will be a major Russian defeat.

      As atleast one analyst I followed noted (in 2014), Putin will be satisfied by Wrecking Ukraine.
      That will meet his definition of victory. an he appears to have succeeded in that – regardless of how badly everything else has gone.

      I am also lead to beleive that Putin is in no danger politically. I hope that is wrong, but I fear that is right.

  16. vermonta permalink
    April 7, 2022 1:01 pm

    This is from the NYTimes. Since there is a paywall I copied it.

    It is interesting to me that this does agree with the things my daughter’s army officer husband told me. Although there would seem to be lots of Russian soldiers left, the loss of 40,000+ dead wounded and MIA very strongly depreciates the effectiveness of the army. Missile and bomb warfare is their strong point but comes at ever increasing costs in terms of the western reaction.

    WASHINGTON — As Russian troops retreat from northern Ukraine and focus operations on the country’s east and south, the Kremlin is struggling to scrape together enough combat-ready reinforcements to conduct a new phase of the war, according to American and other Western military and intelligence officials.

    Moscow initially sent 75 percent of its main ground combat forces into the war in February, Pentagon officials said. But much of that army of more than 150,000 troops is now a spent force, after suffering logistics problems, flagging morale and devastating casualties inflicted by stiffer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance, military and intelligence officials say.

    There are relatively few fresh Russian troops to fill the breach. Russia has withdrawn the forces — as many as 40,000 soldiers — it had arrayed around Kyiv and Chernihiv, two cities in the north, to rearm and resupply in Russia and neighboring Belarus before most likely repositioning them in eastern Ukraine in the next few weeks, U.S. officials say.

    The Kremlin is also rushing to the east a mix of Russian mercenaries, Syrian fighters, new conscripts and regular Russian army troops from Georgia and easternmost Russia.

    Whether this weakened but still very lethal Russian force can overcome its blunders of the first six weeks of combat and accomplish a narrower set of war aims in a smaller swath of the country remains an open question, senior U.S. officials and analysts said.

    “Russia still has forces available to outnumber Ukraine’s, and Russia is now concentrating its military power on fewer lines of attack, but this does not mean that Russia will succeed in the east,” Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said on Monday.

    “The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted,” Mr. Sullivan said. He added that Russia would probably send “tens of thousands of soldiers to the front line in Ukraine’s east,” and continue to rain rockets, missiles and mortars on Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Lviv and other cities.

    U.S. officials have based their assessments on satellite imagery, electronic intercepts, Ukrainian battlefield reports and other information, and those intelligence estimates have been backed up by independent analysts examining commercially available information.

    Earlier U.S. intelligence assessments of the Russian government’s intent to attack Ukraine proved accurate, although some lawmakers said spy agencies overestimated the Russian military’s ability to advance quickly.

    As the invasion faltered, U.S. and European officials have highlighted the Russian military’s errors and logistical problems, though they have cautioned that Moscow’s ability to regroup should not be underestimated.

    The Ukrainian military has managed to reclaim territory around Kyiv and Chernihiv, attacking the Russians as they retreat; thwarted a ground attack against Odesa in the south and held on in Mariupol, the battered and besieged city on the Black Sea. Ukraine is now receiving T-72 battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons — in addition to Javelin antitank and Stinger antiaircraft missiles — from the West.

    Anticipating this next major phase of the war in the east, the Pentagon announced late Tuesday that it was sending $100 million worth of Javelin anti-tank missiles — roughly several hundred missiles from Pentagon stocks — to Ukraine, where the weapon has been very effective in destroying Russian tanks and other armored vehicles.

    American and European officials believe that the Russian military’s shift in focus is aimed at correcting some of the mistakes that have led to its failure to overcome a Ukrainian army that is far stronger and savvier than Moscow initially assessed.

    But the officials said it remained to be seen how effective Russia would be in building up its forces to renew its attack. And there are early signs that pulling Russian troops and mercenaries from Georgia, Syria and Libya could complicate the Kremlin’s priorities in those countries.

    Some officials say Russia will try to go in with more heavy artillery. By focusing its forces in smaller geographic area, and moving them closer to supply routes into Russia, Western intelligence officials said, Russia hopes to avoid the logistics problems its troops suffered in their failed attack on Kyiv.

    Other European intelligence officials predicted it would take Russian forces one to two weeks to regroup and refocus before they could press a major offensive in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years. Western officials said that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was desperate for some kind of win by May 9, when Russia traditionally celebrates the end of World War II with a big Victory Day parade in Red Square.

    “What we are seeing now is that the Kremlin is trying to achieve some kind of success on the ground to pretend there is a victory for its domestic audience by the 9th of May,” said Mikk Marran, the director general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service.

    Mr. Putin would like to consolidate control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, and establish a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula by early May, a senior Western intelligence official said.

    Russia has already moved air assets to the east in preparation for the renewed attack on the heart of the Ukrainian military, and has increased aerial bombardment in that area in recent days, a European diplomat and other officials said.

    “It’s a particularly dangerous scenario for the Ukrainians now, at least on paper,” said Alexander S. Vindman, an expert on Ukraine who became the chief witness in President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial. “In reality, the Russians haven’t performed superbly well. Whether they could actually bring to bear their armor, their infantry, their artillery and air power in a concerted way to destroy larger Ukrainian formations is yet to be seen.”

    Russian troops have been fighting in groups of a few hundred soldiers, rather than in the bigger and more effective formations of thousands of soldiers used in the past.

    “We haven’t seen any indication that they have the ability to adapt,” said Mick Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official and retired C.I.A. officer.

    The number of Russian losses in the war so far remains unknown, though Western intelligence agencies estimate 7,000 to 10,000 killed and 20,000 to 30,000 wounded. Thousands more have been captured or are missing in action.

    The Russian military, the Western and European officials said, has learned at least one major lesson from its failures: the need to concentrate forces, rather than spread them out.

    But Moscow is trying to find additional forces, according to intelligence officials.

    Russia’s best forces, its two airborne divisions and the First Guards Tank army, have suffered significant casualties and an erosion of combat power, and the military has scoured its army looking for reinforcements.

    The British Defense Ministry and the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank that analyzes the Ukraine war, both reported on Tuesday that the Russian troops withdrawing from Kyiv and Chernihiv would not be fit for redeployment soon.

    New efforts to isolate Russia. NATO foreign ministers are discussing an expansion of military aid to Ukraine, and the European Union is weighing a ban on Russian coal. As the United Nations considers suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council, the U.S. Senate is set to vote to strip Russia of its preferential trade status with the United States.

    Peace talks. Hope for progress dimmed after Russia’s foreign minister said the Ukrainian side had proposed a new draft deal that deviated from previous versions. Belarus further complicated the situation by demanding to be included in the negotiations.

    On the ground. Spurred by reports of Russian atrocities outside Kyiv and alarmed at signs that Russia’s military is about to escalate assaults in eastern Ukraine, many civilians appeared to be fleeing the region.

    In the city of Mariupol. More than 5,000 people have died in the southeastern city since the start of Russia’s invasion, according to the city’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, who said Moscow’s forces have destroyed almost all the city’s infrastructure.

    “The Russians have no ability to rebuild their destroyed vehicles and weapon systems because of foreign components, which they can no longer get,” said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, a former commander of U.S. Special Operations forces in Europe who has been involved with Ukrainian defense matters since 2016.

    Russian forces arriving from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two secessionist statelets that broke away from Georgia during the 1990s and then expanded in 2008, have been conducting peacekeeping duties and are not combat ready, General Repass said.

    Russia’s problems finding additional troops are in large measure why it has invited Syrian fighters, Chechens and Russian mercenaries to serve as reinforcements. But these additional forces number in the hundreds, not thousands, European intelligence officials said.

    The Chechen force, one of the European intelligence officials said, is “clearly used to sow fear.” The Chechen units are not better fighters and have suffered high losses. But they have been used in urban combat situations and for “the dirtiest kind of work,” the official said.

    Russian mercenaries with combat experience in Syria and Libya are gearing up to assume an increasingly active role in a phase of the war that Moscow now says is its top priority: fighting in the country’s east.

    The number of mercenaries deployed to Ukraine from the Wagner Group, a private military force with ties to Mr. Putin, is expected to more than triple to at least 1,000 from the early days of the invasion, a senior American official said.

    Wagner is also relocating artillery, air defenses and radar that it had used in Libya to Ukraine, the official said.

    Moving mercenaries will “backfire because these are units that can’t be incorporated into the regular army, and we know that they are brutal violators of human rights which will only turn Ukrainian and world opinion further against Russia,” said Evelyn N. Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration.

    Hundreds of Syrian fighters could also be heading to Ukraine, in what would effectively return a favor to Moscow for its helping President Bashar al-Assad crush rebels in an 11-year civil war.

    A contingent of at least 300 Syrian soldiers has already arrived in Russia for regular training, but it was unclear if or when they would be sent to Ukraine, officials said.

    “They are bringing in fighters known for brutality in the hopes of breaking the Ukrainian will to fight,” said Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. But, she added, any military gains there for Russia will depend on the willingness of the foreign fighters to fight.

    Stiffer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance has left much of Russia’s original force of more than 150,000 troops spent, military and intelligence officials say.

    “One of the difficult things about putting together a coalition of disparate interests is that it can be hard to make them an effective fighting force,” she said.

    Finally, Mr. Putin recently signed a decree calling up 134,000 conscripts. It will take months to train the recruits, though Moscow could opt to rush them straight to the front lines with little or no instruction, officials said.

    “Russia is short on troops and is looking to get manpower where they can,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at C.N.A., a research institute in Arlington, Va. “They are not well placed for a prolonged war against Ukraine.”

    • April 7, 2022 2:12 pm

      Roby, seems like there us one more issue that may keep Ukraine in the fight.

      When an invading force comes in, destroys much of the cities, kills thousards, most all other residents leave, does that not remove many reasons for the defenders to continue fighting and repulse the offensive force.

      With the military hardware in hand, the low morale of the Russian troops and the knowledge of a poor army, Putin could find the Ukrainians willing to try to take back Crimea.

      • vermonta permalink
        April 7, 2022 3:37 pm

        I think I understand the meaning of your middle paragraph but the wording is a bit odd.

        Ukrainian eastern cities with low numbers of civilians left in them that putin wants to take in a hurry to create a land bridge may become a death trap to Russian forces. One thing is that, as my daughter’s husband keeps telling me, we don’t know much about the casualties in the Ukrainian regular army. They are also suffering large losses, we don’t know how large. But I would just think that there is a large pool of men who could take the place of the fallen soldiers in Ukraine, men of fighting age who could be given some training and some weapons. It is probably the most professional soldiers who can use the higher technology weapons to bring down tanks and planes, so a lot depends on how many of those people are left.

        It is my opinion that the next month or 6 weeks will be horrific and at the end of that period the Russians will either have turned the situation around in Eastern Ukraine or they will be a broken and spent force and putin will have a large number of terrible results to have to force his population to accept.

        If the Russians do lose big time in eastern Ukraine then the question is whether putin can remain in power and how long. Will he be able to force his country into complete submission or will Russians finally revolt?

        I have wishful thinking answers to these questions of course, but I cannot really predict. I think that the situation may favor the Ukrainians if they can find enough soldiers.

      • April 7, 2022 6:55 pm

        You are right. That paragraph did not make much sense. What I meant.
        Cities destroyed.
        Few citizen left
        Only thing left is your land.
        If cities and people were left, Ukraine might have more reason to negotiate to preserve towns and life.
        With only destroyed cities and few citizens, continued fighting causes no more harm to towns and citizens. And the reward if won is your border is preserved.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 7, 2022 7:52 pm

        Seems like an insane way to fight a war. Would the long term goal in that scenario be to have Ukraine fight a long term insurgency with a government in exile?

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 7, 2022 8:03 pm

        Not being critical, so much as wondering what an endgame would look like.

      • April 7, 2022 8:26 pm

        Ok guess I am still not being clear.

        Ukraine has specific borders
        Russia invaded
        Killed thousands so far
        Basically destroyed cities in the east.

        So, if Russia had not destroyed the cities and people lived there in mass like before war, continued fighting would cost more lives and more destruction. So in this case, a govt might be more inclined to negotiate an end to fighting to protect lives and property. What that would look like, I have no idea. But most likely Russia would get something they did not have.

        But if those condition did not exist, land is the only asset being fought for. Would a govt be inclined to keep fighting for that land or negotiate a settlement like above. I suggested they would be more inclined to fight since the only lives at stake are military, not civilians and the only assets to lose are military, not cities.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 7, 2022 9:58 pm

        Ok, now I see what you’re saying. I thought you were saying that you opposed any negotiated settlement.

        My issue with all of this is that I fear that we are being pulled deeper and deeper into a situation which will only end with our active milit

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 7, 2022 10:04 pm

        (hit the ‘send’ button, by mistake)

        My issue with all of this is that I fear that we are being pulled deeper and deeper into a situation which will only end with our active military involvement. Can Ukraine continue to succeed with monetary support, which they’re getting plenty of at this point? Or will they need troops?

        I think what you are saying is that fighting for land that has essentially been destroyed, there would be a kind of scorched earth strategy that might work.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 13, 2022 11:45 pm

        Just a thought, but land is (to many) their most important asset – many will rebuild, and I’m thinking that (when/if that happens) other countries will assist.

      • April 7, 2022 8:13 pm

        Please clarify. Not sure how this applies to my comment. Why would the govt be in exile?

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 7, 2022 8:31 pm

        Well, my understanding was that the citizenry would be dead or exiled into refugee status, the militias would be degraded over time ( unless the Russian army were to withdraw), and the political leadership of Ukraine would, at some point, be unable to stay.

        I clearly misunderstood you. My apolologies.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 8, 2022 3:04 pm

        I do not think there are 6 tweeks.
        I do not think Russia can “turn things arround” – Their redeploying troops will result in ukraine redploying. And Ukraine has that easier.

        Time favors Ukraine.

        The big negative for Ukraine is protracted civilian casualties.

        I expect a peace deal soon. Both sides have good reason to negotiate an end.

      • April 8, 2022 3:40 pm

        The details that have been communicated is most all citizens in eastern Ukraine have keft, been killed, imprisoned in Russia or fighting for Ukraine. There is little infrastructure left.

        So why should Ukraine negotiate, give Russia eastern Ukraine and give Putin the “win” that he desired at the beginning.

        If theybdo that, furst he invaded s and get Crimea. Next he invades and gets the land bridge and eastern Ukraine. So in 2028-29, he invades and takes the north and northeast of Ukraine and negotiates a new ceasefire. When does he stop?

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 8, 2022 7:45 am

        The best possible end game for Ukraine is one where they have the advantage in urban combat and deprive Putin of any major victory while inflicting serious losses on an already seriously damaged Russian army. Meanwhile time goes on, the Russian economy feels an ever increasing level of pain and destruction.

        Putin, as we now all know, got himself into a war under hugely incorrect assessments of everything. Now he is trapped in a quagmire and has seemingly no way out. Through his mistakes he has done incredible harm to Russia’s future and Russia already was not doing well. For the moment the better elements in the country have no power to stop him.

        By fighting on Ukraine is dooming Russia to a future where they will be a much weaker and poorer country and a humiliated one. Something like what happened to the US in Vietnam but much much worse.
        Ukraine has done the world a huge favor at incredible cost. If Ukraine can hold on they will have cripple their giant neighbor and struck an enormous blow against the model of government that Russia always follows, one ruthless man with all power let in place by a police state. All of this is incredibly important and every sane intelligent person in the Senate, House, intelligence agencies, our military etc. understands the stakes, party affiliation does not matter.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 8, 2022 2:54 pm

        It will be interesting to see what happens next.

        We forget that as Russia realign’s its forces – so Does Ukraine.

        Ukraine was starting to engage in significant and effective counter attacks before the Russian withdrawl.

        It is likely Ukraine will move its forces to those places still engaged in fighting.

        Just as Russia tries to rejuvenate its efforts to build a land bridge to Crimea,
        Ukraine is likely to be trying to push Russia out of those parts it currently occupies.

        I actually expect a peace deal soon.

        Putin – despite heavy losses and bad press has actually accomplished his primary objective – Wrecking Ukraine. Continuing this Putin has little to gain and lots to lose.

        At the same Time it is an open question whether Ukraine can actually defeat the Russian forces remaining in Ukraine – though I suspect they can.
        And a bigger question whether they are willing to pay the cost to do so.

        Both sides have incentives to bargain now.

      • vermonta permalink
        April 10, 2022 8:27 am

        Dave, I expect a peace deal never, or in a very long time. Neither side is actually negotiating. Its an empty performance. Neither side can afford to give up their positions. Putin has to win some large thing or he is in terrible shape, not just general mayhem. This will be a quagmire. If the Ukrainians can keep up what they have been doing, they will have won. Much depends on their manpower.

        I see the Russians, with a fancy new commander, are sending a 10 mile convoy of tanks in from the east. As my military relative told me, that is an idiotic maneuver. Kill the first tank, the last tank, the rest are now sitting ducks and you slowly pick them off at your leisure.

  17. Vermonta permalink
    April 8, 2022 8:03 am

    Russia has spent a lot of their not large resources on modernizing their military since 2014. Here is what went wrong according to what I read. Somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of every ruble they spend winds up being diverted by corruption to, ironically the people around Putin. It winds up in yachts and villas. Next, Putin himself is the main architect and strangely he has spent only 14 percent of the military budget on ground forces. So it’s on him that his army has turned out to be defective. A dictatorship is actually a terrible way to do anything successfully everything is decided by one man surounded by toadies.

    What the west is doing now, with a large amount of input and leadership by the US, the Biden administration, is pulling the plug on Russia’s future economy and access to western technology. If the Russian military is a mess today, their future is much bleaker.

    • Vermonta permalink
      April 8, 2022 8:19 am

      This view I am giving is the optimist scenario. Many things could lead to a different outcome, they would start with the Russian military fighting much more successfully on the ground than they have. An incredibly large effect on our future, and I mean our mid and long term future not just the next election cycle depends on Ukraine with the help of the west defeating Putin’s upcoming concentrated assault on Eastern Ukraine.

  18. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 12:28 pm

    The trial of the Michigan Wolverines is over.

    Two of the “militia men” accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Whitmer have been outright aquited. The other two were aquitted on some charges, and the jury hung on other charges.

    The Jury concluded that the Militiamen were entrapped into a Plot concocted by the FBI.

    A judge in DC has thrown out charges against one Jan 6 defendant – because he proved he was invited into the capital by capital police.

    What is really disturbing is that ANY defendant has had to prove this.
    The burden of proof is ALWAYS on the prosecution.

    Absent evidence of actually breaking into the Capital – which very very few people did, all “trespassing” charges must be dismissed.

    It is essential that the government be REQUIRED to make public ALL the video – I beleive it is 1400 hours worth, of what happened in the capital.

    Our government should ALWAYS be required to tell us the unvarnished truth – not what is most politically expedient to the narative it wishes to sell.

  19. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 12:41 pm

    Here is more reporting on the Whitmer Kidnapping Debacle.

    I would note that the Defense succeeded in this case DESPITE numerous rulings by the court excluding evidence.

    They were NOT allowed to provide the jury with evidence that one FBI witness had previously perjured themselves.

    They were not able to provide evidence that an FBI agent was using his FBI efforts to entrap them as a means to secure PRIVATE contracts for himself with the FBI.

    They were NOT allowed to introduce their own recorded statements demonstrating a lack of intent because they judge ruled them hearsay.

    They are hearsay, but they are admissible.

  20. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 12:48 pm

    TX Gov. Abbot is now busing illegal immigrants to the Capital Steps.

    Apparently the illegal immigrants he is busing are going voluntarily.
    I am not sure I care if he does so by force.

    These people entered the country by force. TX is not obligated to keep them.

    I do not like our existing immigration laws. I would relax them.

    But until the law is changed – we enforce the laws we have.

    That is what the rule of law means.

    We enforce the actual immigration laws we have – not the ones we wish we had.
    We enforce the actual election laws we have – not ones we made up to benefit our party.

    • April 9, 2022 2:29 pm

      I think Texas should look at their cost to support these immigrants and compare that to the cost of support, healthcare, education and any other expenses. Then knowing how much they would save, provide any illegal immigrant with a one way bus ticket to any place in the country they wish to go. How could that be illegal or criticized by those supporting illegal immigration.

      • April 9, 2022 2:31 pm

        Compare support cost to cost of a one way ticket! (I was asleep witing that comment)

  21. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 1:11 pm

    There was ALWAYS ample Evidence for Attorney General Barr to appoint a Special Counsel
    yet, there STILL is none.

    There is no doubt about Hunter Biden’s activities.
    There is little doubt about Joe Biden’s actual involvement.
    There is not a Republican operative in sight.
    The evidence comes from Hunter Biden’s Laptop(s) Not Rudy Gulliani – though Gulliani provided more than enough evidence to require an investigation.

    Further what was known YEARS ago makes the Democratic Faux impeachment itself an act of Political corruption.

    Trump was impeached for asking for an investigation into the misconduct of the Biden corruption Syndicate in Ukraine. Something that was obviously worth investigating in 2015 and all the more so now.

    And we have stories that Biden is ranting in the Whitehouse demanding that AG Garland Prosecute Trump.

    If Democrats impeached Trump over that – why not Biden NOW.

    I though seeking the investigation of a political rival was a crime ?

  22. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 1:24 pm

    This is an amazing peice in Salon attacking Chris Rufo.

    What is remarkable is how naively hypocritical the entire peice is.

    CRT is complex (actually not really) regardless how does an ideology that demands the right to define things however it wishes and can not tell us what a woman is complain Because people have chosen their own definition of CRT ?

    Much of the Salon article fixates on words – as if left wing actions in education would suddenly become acceptable if only we would use the correct words.

    Parents are objecting to what their kids are actually being taught – regardless of the labels being used.

    I also find it hilarious that the Salon writer is terrified that Rufo is seeking to impose quota’s in public institutions – as if that is not CORE to leftism.

  23. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 1:31 pm

    This article is from the political analyst that predicted that the demographic shifts in the country would produce a democratic stranglehold on government.

    Now he is arguing that Democrats are hemoraging minority voters.

  24. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 1:52 pm

    More on the FBI Fiasco in Michigan.

    Kelley also alludes to the FACT that this resembles the Supression of the Hunter Biden Laptop.

    In this case the FBI manufactured a plot for the purpose of extracting political revenge in Oct 2020 against Trump for his attacks on the FBI.

    Fox is likely the quintessential example of “the extreme right” that is bandied about as this existenital threat.

    And Fox can not manage to conceive of and plan a plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer – that does not require the FBI telling him what to do at each step. And even then – no consequential steps are taken to actually impliment that plot.

    The US Attorney claimed this was not a Free Speech case. – it is much more, but it actually is a free speech case.

    You can not ACTUALLY kidnap someone.

    You can talk about any stupid even criminal thing you want – so long as you do not take substantive concrete steps to ACT.

    You can espeically do so – when you are just parrotting what the FBI is selling.

  25. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 1:57 pm

    WSJ – Obama rewrites his history with Russia – Bill Clinton is now doing the same.

  26. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 2:06 pm

    Deutche Bank sees Recession comming.

    Or more accurately is among the first to admit that there is only one way to stop inflation, and it is painful.

  27. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 2:14 pm

    I find it interesting that “experts” are capable of grasping the complex effects of US efforts to fight inflation on other countries, but can not grasp the relatively simple relationship between inflation and money supply.

    You can not have inflation – an average increase in prices, without an increase in money, or a decrease in total available products.

    With a fixed supply of money – and increase in the price of some things requires either a decrease in price or a decrease in purchase of other things.

    Average prices can not increase unless the amount of money increases – that is called MATH.

  28. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 2:22 pm

    CNN Terrified that Trump might once again be able to tweet.

  29. April 9, 2022 4:17 pm

    This is Savannah Jordan. WordPress won’t let me use my regular email so I had to create another email.

    As always, Rick, a very well-written article. I agree with you that many opinions prominent in America have become almost surreal – contradictory, devoid of logic, oblivious to outcome or facts – but I am not as optimistic as you about the future of America. It is true that some of the more egregiously surreal ideas have been ameliorated in a few parts of the country (MIT stopped its policy of ignoring achievement tests; San Francisco’s more leftist school board members were voted out of office; the defund the police movement has lost some support as crime has risen exponentially in those cities that reduced their police force). But there is still a vast and committed number of influential Americans who are determined to implement their woke-snowflake policies and many are driven by the idea that America is a systematically evil state that must be radically altered. Every society that I know of that has reached an apex in their history has followed that apex with a descent into what I will call darkness. I cannot help but think we are on the downside of our apex.

    Since I am an athlete, I greatly appreciated your citing the absurdity of allowing the trans swimmer, with shoulders as broad as a Volkswagen, muscles bulging, to compete against women, and how her decimating her female opponents is not only proof that she is not in the same competitive class as her female opponents, but is also denying women of their rights and opportunities (which supposedly many LGBT activists’ support.) The whole purpose of Title IX was to force schools to open athletics to women thus giving them a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. In order to achieve this, there had to be separate divisions for male and female. Everyone acknowledged that the difference in their physical abilities was too great for women to achieve any success against men. Even Serena Williams, probably the greatest female tennis player of all time, could barely get a game off of the #203 men’s player. The stats make it blatantly clear that the requirement of comparable ability is being discarded in order to cater to the demands of transgenders. Even trans females like Caitlyn Jenner and Renee Richards admit that their athletic ability still far exceeds that of non-trans females and that it is unfair to the latter. Men aren’t complaining about having to compete against women who have trans to men. Why? Because the transition does not radically increase or decrease the athletic ability. Our lawmakers are denying this blatant unfair advantage. Why the hell did they mandate separate sports for the two genders if differences in physicality was not going to be a determining factor in grouping. To them the feelings of the trans female are more important than fairness, more important than the sense of achievement and empowerment on the part of the non-trans female. Women are again being thrown under the bus and being forced to submit to the far superior physical strength of a man.

    There are a multitude of other flagrant contradictory movements and policies, one being Black Lives Matter. They claim to be working for the just treatment of blacks, but they are only concerned with blacks’ infrequent confrontations with the police and are totally indifferent to the massive black on black slaughter.

    And then there is the MeToo movement. The feminists who were most adamant that men’s sexual advances are an example of their rampant abuse of women are the same feminists who trumpeted to the world that men and women have the same sexual appetites and any apparent differences are merely social constructs. You can’t have it both ways, ladies. You can’t have women being as sexually aggressive as men and also being traumatized by men’s aggression. You don’t see any men tearfully relating how a woman drugged them or put a gun to their heads to force them to have sex. I also believe that there were many things about the movement that disempowered women. My being an athlete and a STEM professional, I deal with men a lot. I hate to tell you how many times a man has gotten into my face and started screaming at me, thrown a file folder or a ball in my direction. They never did it more than twice. If a man makes comments to a woman, either sexual or insulting, a woman has the ability and the obligation to stand up for herself. I have had to do it way too many times to know that it is not impossible.

    Then there is the recent ruling by the NFL that requires all 32 teams to hire an offensive coach who is “a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority” for the 2022 season. We all know how biased the NFL is against blacks. Oh wait, about 65% of NFL players are black. Maybe when they said racial minorities they meant whites.

    Lastly, the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol was described as the most heinous attack upon our government in centuries. Yes, it was horrible, and please don’t think I am a Trump admirer. When he was elected, I was dumbfounded and told a friend there goes democracy. But the January 6 riots did not do nearly the destruction that the BLM/Antifa riots of the previous summer did and yet while they were occurring and afterwards there was hardly a murmur of condemnation. In the January 6 riot, 5 people killed, $30 million worth of damage, lasted a few hours, approximately 2,500 stormed the Capitol building. The BLM/ Antifa riots, 25 people killed, $2 billion worth of damage, hundreds of thousands rioting, lasted months. People have told me January 6 was more severe because the Capitol is a symbol of our government. There were government buildings that the BLM/ Antifa rioters destroyed or occupied. The mantra of these rioters was not the election was rigged and must be overturned, but that America is a systemically evil government that must be overthrown and must be replaced with a utopia consisting of no police, no prisons, and no corporations. Which one of these mantras sounds more dangerous to the existence of America?

    With regards to Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock being an indication of our society’s growing collective realization of what is truly unacceptable, I don’t think so. I think the hoopla is merely a reflection of our obsession with the lives and actions of celebrities, and I must admit that it is an obsession that I find disturbing. We are making role models, almost idols, of a people who are almost totally at odds with the values that we profess to be guided by and the values that we apply to the ordinary people in our lives. I remember a friend of mine who was reveling in Elizabeth Taylor’s and Richard Burton’s romance and I reminded her that Taylor took a man away from his wife and children and, in fact, had done it more than once, and had a neighbor done that, she would have been outraged and would have wanted the woman to be shunned and wear a scarlet letter. Another friend of mine was praising Marilyn Monroe and I reminded her that if her daughter or her daughter’s friend was that promiscuous, she would have told her daughter that she was degrading herself or told her daughter not to associate with the promiscuous friend. As I said we are creating role models from a group of people who live lives that are essentially antithetical to the values that we profess to guide us.

    • Priscilla permalink
      April 10, 2022 9:29 am

      Savannah, I agree with every word of this (well, other than that I voted for Trump, because I thought he was the better alternative of those available).

      I remember once writing here that I was no longer a “feminist,” because the goals and values of today’s 4th wave feminism do not in any way reflect my own.

      If the feminist movement were really the female-empowering one that it claims to be, it would never, ever, be allowing ~ even encouraging~ grown men, with their superior bone and muscle mass, longer arms and legs, bigger hands and feet, greater lung capacity, etc., to compete with women in what is still called “women’s sports”

      I have no wish to tell anyone how they should live their own life, and if a adult man or woman wants to live his/her life as the opposite sex, it’s ok by me. But don’t force me to pretend that a man wearing a dress (or a woman’s swim suit) is an actual woman. Not so long ago, the incidence of gender dysmorphia was well under 1%. Now it’s something like 15-20%? Something is very wrong.

      Transgenderism ideology, or the belief that your identity is wholly within your mind, and completely divorced from biological reality, is an ideology with real, and many, victims. The invasion by men into women’s sports is one, for sure. The forcing of women to accept men into their private spaces, such as bathrooms is another.

      No one is more victimized than the children and adolescents who are being medicated and carved up, in the name of “transitioning” into their “true” gender. The physical and psychological harm done to these kids is incalculable. But we’re all supposed to say that it’s life-affirming and good, even when it’s perpetrated on minors.

      It’s truly madness.

      • April 10, 2022 9:52 am

        Hi Priscilla, Yes, I am dumbfounded that anyone cannot see the unfairness of this competitive advantage and I find it bewildering that those who supposedly are adamant supporters of women’s rights are ignoring how this negatively affects women.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 10, 2022 1:07 pm

        And, I think it’s important to note that men and boys are also victims of this insanity.

        Parents are being encouraged by many pediatricians to have their very young sons injected with puberty blockers, with the understanding that these drugs will prevent the emergence of both primary and secondary male sex characteristics, so that the boys can “decide” later if they want to be girls.

        Problem is, many of the side effects of these drugs are either long lasting or permanent, particularly in regard to growth and fertility. Not to mention the emotional effects of being smaller and weaker than one’s peers.

        The main criteria for this treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic is “Show a long-lasting and intense pattern of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria” And, of course the treatment requires informed consent, but… since the patients are pre-pubescent, it’s the parents who generally give consent. However, in some cases, the courts have intervened to mandate the treatment in the case of a child who says he (or she) really wants it and that he understands the potential long term risks.

        Umm. sure. The average 10 year old understands these risks….

      • April 10, 2022 3:19 pm

        Please accept my language. I looked up what Priscilla wrote since I was sure it was wrong.

        Sorry P for thinking that.

        This country is fucking nuts!

        And we are concerned about division?! Maybe we need to concentrate on insanity.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 10, 2022 8:03 pm

        The victims of left wing hate

        Kyle Rittenhouse.
        Eric Grietens
        Carter Page
        George Papadoulis
        Paul Manafort
        Daniel Harris
        Brandon Caserta,
        Adam Fox,
        Barry Croft, Jr.
        Matthew Martin

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 10, 2022 6:06 pm

        The worst consequences of this nonsense are NOT with respect to men – but women.

        I do not give a damn about Lia Thomas – beyond that potentially birthing persons should not have to compete with her.

        Honestly why do we have title 9 at all – if we are going to allow men to compete in womens sports.

        The biggest problems are with Women. We have more than doubled the frequency of anxiety and depression in children and young adults – and the largest increase by far is in women.

        We fight over biological men using womens locker rooms.

        But he big problem is with women – and I mean that sympathetically.
        If you have two X chromosomes and you wish to live life as a man – I do not care.

        But I do care about rising drug problems, mental health problems. suicides.

        Interestingly mental health problems mostly in women that were linked with anxiety and depression such as anorexia and bulemia have all but disappeared – they have been replaced by massive increases in gender dysphoria in women.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 10, 2022 6:44 pm

        You’ll get no argument from me on the effects of so-called gender dysphoria on girls and women, Dave.

        According to Abigail Schrier, who has written an excellent book on this topic, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” the incidence of gender dysphoria in young adolescent girls has risen an astounding 4400% (that’s not a typo) over the last decade. In fact, this is a quote from the book: “Before 2012, in fact, there was no scientific literature on girls ages eleven to twenty-one ever having developed gender dysphoria at all.”

        I happen to think that Will “Lia” Thomas is an important example of a guy who has been able to dominate a girls sport, by taking a testosterone suppressant and estrogen supplements for less than a year, which does not even meet the standard that has been set by the NCAA. Thomas has not had any modifications to his/her body, and the girls on the UPenn Swim Team claim that Thomas not only strolled around the locker room naked, but also claims to still be sexually attracted to girls.

        I can recall from my corporate sexual harrassment training at J&J, that would certainly have been described as a hostile environment for those girls.

        The truly amazing thing about the Lia Thomas story is that UPenn, and the entire Ivy League, apparently had no hesitation in telling the girl athletes who objected to competing with a 6″1″ biological male, to shut up and swim, or be kicked off the Penn team, and out of the championship meet.

        Way to defend our daughters, UPenn!

  30. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 4:27 pm

    Excellent article by Kevin Williams at National Review – Poking fun at most everyone.

    Williams has lots of fun, but the article is still full of LOTS of points.

    What constitutes the “right” in France is radically different from the “right” in the US.

    What is called the extreme right is often quite comfortable with the extreme right Marine La Penn is courting Socialists to join her cabinet should she defeat Macron in France.

    There is much to criticize about Trump in terms of “ideology”, and most of that criticism should be for positions that he borrowed from ….. Bernie Sanders.

    Williams correctly offers that there is no such thing as “extreme or radical conservatism”.
    That is an oxymoron. That the worst of modern conservatism is its rejection of classical liberalism with respect to Trade and Immigration, and that that rejection is CENTRIST not extreme.

    • vermonta permalink
      April 10, 2022 7:57 am

      “There is much to criticize about Trump in terms of “ideology”, and most of that criticism should be for positions that he borrowed from ….. Bernie Sanders.”

      Yes. That is something I was saying 6 years ago. Its because they are both populists and both total ignoramuses and demagogues who know nothing about how anything actually works.

      I have always blamed sanders for getting trump going, in fact for getting trump elected. I wish both would disappear and their movements go the way of free silver. I have seen some movement in that direction in the last year. I can’t predict whether these two somewhat similar populist movements will really just fade away, but the collapse of trump’s position on putin in the GOP is a hopeful sign. Time will tell.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 10, 2022 1:53 pm

        As we agree that most of Trump’s policy errors are shared with Sanders can you stop the nonsense of claiming that Trump is “Extreme right”.

        That is unless you are going to claim that Sanders is “Extreme Right”.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 10, 2022 9:12 pm

        First of all they are both extreme. Second sanders is clearly of the left and Trump clearly of the right. Go far enough to one side and you come out on the other. It’s one reason that when people with radical views switch polarity later in life they often flip over to the extreme of the other side.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 1:01 am

        This response is much like all your arguments – heavy on naked assertions that do not hold up under examination.

        Barry Goldwater was to the right of the Republican party, as was William Buckley and Ronald Reagan – Trump is toward the center from each of these on probably every issue.

        As best as I can tell you defintion of extreme has nothing at all to do with positions, policies or issues.

        It seems to be based on your emotional response to these people.

      • April 11, 2022 11:38 am

        Dave, Trumps agenda may have been more centrist, which I did and would support 90% if another candidate ran on it. But Trumpism is an extreme far-right ideology that attacks democracy and normalizes violence against progressive agendas and liberal cultures that promotes violent actions to achieve a desired outcome. Jan 6th was the epidome of extremism and Trumps muted response when it happened is unforgivable!!

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 7:55 pm

        so muted responses are unforgiveable ?

        The most egregious misconduct of the past decade has been GOVERNMENT misconduct.

        Where is the loud response to the collusion delusion hoax ? To the Russian disinformation hoax ? To the FBI’s whitmer kidnapping hoax ? To the massive amounts of misconduct and lies by our institutions ?

        Democracy is not going to be destroyed by some guy wearing bearskins prancing arround the house chamber.

        Frankly I do not even think the current left poses a real threat to “democracy” despite the fact that they are incredibly undemocratic.

        The threat they pose is to our standard of living.
        That is always the threat posed by institutional lies.

        I would further note that the most tryanical authoritarian, antidemocratic forces in theis country got their way in the 2020 election.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 1:10 am

        Why is Trump on the extreme right – you have NEVER answered that.
        You have done nothing but claim it over and over – not merely without evidence – but without even providing criteria to measure by ?

        I would note that you repeatedly call Trump (and Sanders) populists, AND you call them extremists – they can not be both. Trump is absolutely a populist. His platform, his public remarks are practically designed to appeal to the majority of americans.
        Sanders is NOT a populists – he has SOME policies that have broad populist appeal, but he has many other policies that he THINKS have popular appeal but they are less popular than he thinks.
        Sanders MIGHT think he is a populist, you might think so,
        But for populist to mean anything he ca not be.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 11, 2022 6:32 am

        It’s funny how you obsess about what I think. Tell me me, did sanders ever incite an invasion of the capital by a collection of various right wing scumbags and lunatics and half wits? Do the proud boys worship Sanders? This is obvious. Sanders is a hero to socialists and Trump is a hero to white nationalists and actual racist groups. You want to live in your delusional alternate universe, fine. You expect me to live there too? You are wasting your time.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 1:48 pm

        “It’s funny how you obsess about what I think. ”

        No I just point out the unreality of what you SAY.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 2:01 pm

        I have no interest in defending the Proud boys.

        But you are clueless – So you think that a group lead by a hispanic is racist and white nationalist ?

        The proud boys describe themselves as Western Chauvanists.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 2:11 pm

        Sanders is a hero to Anarchists and communists.

        You constantly rant about White Nationalist groups and racist groups as if there are hundreds of thousands of them hiding under the bed.

        But you can not make the case that your poster boy group – the proud boys is white nationalist or racist.

        Words and accuracy actually matters.

        I am not some fan of the proud boys – I think they are juvenile.
        But strip away the left nonsenical rhetoric and what you have is a group that revels in showing up at Antifa Events itching for left wing nut pajama boys to be stupid enough to throw a punch so they can beat them up.

        The proud boys have actually made it possible for journalists who actually wish to cover left wing violence to do so while getting the shit kicked out of them by Antifa substantially less frequently.

        Regardless, you have not made your case regarding the proud boys – and you do not seem to have anything else left ?

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 2:13 pm

        And there are more members of Antifa in portland than the proud boys in the entire US.

        You do not seem to get it, there is no consequential threat by the right to destroy the country.

        There is an OPEN threat by the left to do just that.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 11, 2022 2:15 pm

        Your still trying to make this STUPID parity argument.

        There is no parity.
        If you think the proud boys are the worst of the extreme right. if you think they are consequential – you have already lost the debate.

        Even if the proud boys WERE what you describe – and they are not, They are STILL inconsequential.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 12, 2022 6:30 am

        Where did I say that the proud boys are the worst of the extreme right.? Nowhere. The extreme right loves Trump, proud boys just being one visible element. As well, show me where I made a parrity argument or how it is relevant how many antifa are in Portland. All in your head.

        You really never will learn to read and when you get going like this you are the epitome of an internet crank.

      • April 12, 2022 10:38 am

        Roby “You really never will learn to read and when you get going like this you are the epitome of an internet crank.”

        Just remember how the old crank start cars got going. Someone had to turn the crank. And in some cases, recoil was a bitch.

        Concerning Ukraine appears Europe is funding the war.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 12, 2022 11:35 am

        if the proud boys are not the extreme right – then who the fudge is ?

        The proud boys are the far 0.00001% of the right.

        Why is it that anyone should care about even less consequential groups.

        You constantly speak of the “extreme right” as if they are some meaningful force.

        Yet, you are unable to identify them – as YOU refer to them they are a consequential group on the far right.

        My point is there is no such thing.

        Your claim that the “extreme right” loves Trump is doubly meaningless
        First you STILL have not identified who or what is the extreme right.
        And next – So What ? Antifa Love Bernie – you do not seem to grasp that this guilt by association stuff is idiocy.

        Rational people do not make choices based on whether some fringe groups favor them or not, nor do they judge other based on the lunatics that fawn over them.


      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 12, 2022 11:37 am

        Where did you (or Rick or …) make a parity arguement – everytime you make an argument where you reference both extremes – especially when you pretend they are an equal problem.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 12, 2022 12:11 pm

        Actually read your own posts.

        You are the epitome of the muddled incoherent mess I post about.

        You toss about terms – like “extreme right” – you are not alone in that, though you are the most profligate – yet, these terms have no clear meaning.

        Absolutely you and Rick and probably Ron have a shared understanding of “extreme right”.

        But it is not a REAL THING – you are ranting about “emanuel goldstein” – and just like goldstein because he is not defined, he can be made into whatever you need for any given day.

        You do not even think about it as you do that.

  31. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 9, 2022 5:19 pm

    An amazing article by Mr. Swanson.

    It is about our disasterous response to Covid, but more importantly it is about how censorship has made us LESS safe.

  32. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 10, 2022 7:03 pm

    We purportedly bar government from making announcements prior to an electiont hat will influence the election.

    Would orchestrating a criminal conspiracy so that you can charge people right before and election be FAR worse ?

    We have a huge pile of lies, misconduct, and criminal activity by those in the media, those in govenrment. those on the left, and democrats to influence the past TWO presidential elections.

    Why should we beleive that if a fraudulent kidnapping plot is morally acceptable to this people that actual voting fraud is not ?

  33. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 10, 2022 8:10 pm

    CNN and much of the media ran articles in 2020 – how to make sure your mail in vote is counted.

    This can be answered trivially.

    Go to the polls on election day as americans have for over 250 years and bring ID.

    All of us should be suspicious of any ballots where the voter did not have to appear in person to vote.

    I get several phone calls everyday from machines, I strongly suspect much of my mail never touched a persons hands.

    Why should we trust that mailin ballots are actual votes by people ?

    If you are unwilling to come to the polls to vote – your vote should not count.

    Why exactly should we make it easy for those who seek power to impose their will on us by force ?

    If you can not get out of your couch to vote – your vote should NOT count.

  34. vermonta permalink
    April 11, 2022 8:03 am

    This says what I want to hear. It says what I think.

    I hope its wrong.

  35. Priscilla permalink
    April 18, 2022 9:21 am

    Here we go: Senator Chris Coons wants American soldiers to fight for Ukraine.

    “We are in a very dangerous moment where it is important that on a bipartisan and measured way we in Congress and the administration come to a common position about when we are willing to go the next step and to send not just arms but troops to the aid in defense of Ukraine,” the senator, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. “If the answer is never, then we are inviting another level of escalation in brutality by Putin.”

    The military-industrial complex strikes again. I realize that Coons didn’t specifically call for American troops to intervene right now. But the suggestion that we need to draw a red line implies that he thinks this is our fight. Coons will not likely be the only one to suggest this intervention. He’s only the first…

    • April 18, 2022 11:07 am

      Very easy for anyone that does not have a personal dog in the fight to propose sending our military into battle.

      If they want this war to come to an end anytime soon, western europe needs to stop funding Russias effort. Recent articles report that the rise in oil prices has substantially offset the loss of other revenues and Europe is a major contributor to this revenue.

      And if a western military becomes part of that figut, its in western Europes backdoor. USA should stay behind the lines with support only!

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 18, 2022 4:51 pm

        Western Europe can not go cold turkey on Russian energy quickly.

        Decades of bad energy policy can not be corrected overnight.

        But I do expect they ultimately Will reduce dependence on Russian energy.

        That means depending more on Mideastern or US energy.
        The former means a much more significant role for Europe in the Mideast.
        The latter requires the US to return to and expand Trump’s energy policies.
        More fracking, more pipelines, more refineries.

        Biden is just barely putting his toe in the water by allowing 20% of the leases Trump would have allowed.

        Though frankly the pipelines are much more important. It is likely we can pump more oil out of the ground than we are currently with current wells. But we do not have the pipeline capacity to transport Alaskan Crude, Canadian Crude and Crude from the western oil basins.

      • April 18, 2022 9:05 pm

        Dave, maybe western Europe cant go cold turkey on Russian oil, but they can cut back. And they can be the western powers sending troops.

        I suspect that Russia will maintain their control of about 120 kilometers into eastern Ukraine, and use scorched earth procedures in the west, along with the possibility of chemical weapons. Ukraine will eventually negotiate, give up eastern land. I would not be surprised if many refugees from Ukraine never return.

      • April 19, 2022 7:29 pm

        Most refugees are not likely returning.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 18, 2022 4:44 pm

      So much for the claim that those on the right that said we were headed here were wrong and wing nuts.

      Ukraine would not be in this mess but for Biden’s fouled up foreign and energy policy.

      That said – aside from lots of stupid comments, the Biden administration has SO FAR threaded the needle fairly well between support for Ukraine and escalating the conflict.

    • rondabellelane permalink
      April 19, 2022 10:25 pm

      I hear what you’re saying, Priscilla.. and I don’t want a war with Russia (actually Putin) any more than you do.
      IMO, the senator was just being honest, in that IF Russia goes beyond in some way, we cannot stay out of it any longer. I truly hope that ‘beyond’ isn’t reached, but I am also sure it would mean more of a direct European threat.
      We can no longer stay out of it like we tried to do in WWII.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 19, 2022 11:08 pm

        Ronda, there was a time that I would have certainly agreed with you. That time would have been about 20 years ago, when I totally fell for the Bush admin’s regime change/bring democracy to the MidEast/protect the world from Saddam Hussein/ keep Russia out of the MidEast narrative. And by saying I “fell for” the narrative, I don’t mean that there was no merit to it at all…just not the merit necessary to send Americans to fight and die for a pipe dream.

        I do believe that there was merit and purpose in punishing the Taliban for providing the training ground for the AlQaeda terrorists that attacked us on 9/11, but I no longer support interventionist wars that involve spilling the blood of US soldiers when there is no direct threat to the US. And, in particular, a military intervention that would likely start WW3.

        The Ukraine-Russia conflict has been going on for many years, Russia has had troops in Ukraine since 2014, and at no time has the US been in danger of an offensive military threat from Russia, a nation that possesses more than 6,000 nukes, and is led by a capricious, and probably desperate tyrant, who would probably not hesitate to use them on us, if we went to a hot war.

        Ask yourself why have we not pressured Ukraine to go to the negotiating table? Without our money and military weaponry, Ukraine would not have been able to hold off Russia as it has. Are we going to continue to pour tens of billions into this war, AND send troops to fight it?! Who benefits from that?

        Not the long suffering people of Ukraine, many of whom have lost everything, and stand to lose their nation. Not the American taxpayers, suffering economically, with much more pain to come. Not the Western European NATO countries, all of whom have been clear that they won’t go to war with Russia, Ukraine or no Ukraine.

        Who? I think that is a question worth answering…

      • April 20, 2022 12:08 pm

        I learned 30+ years before you (1967) about getting involved in any war that America is expected to be the primary supporter of men trying to fight for others that wont sacrifice for themselves. Who really thinks France, Germany, or Italy is going to send front line boots into Ukraine and die for the Ukrainians? Maybe the Brits, but we would need to be first!

        If 100,000 men are needed, then those 4 countries can send 25k each, with USA technical and supply support behind the scenes. We have fought and died around the world for unthankftul nations enough

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 22, 2022 9:07 pm

        I don’t want to go to war with Russia… and what I meant by “beyond” is attacking beyond Ukraine.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 22, 2022 10:53 pm

        Sorry if I misunderstood you Ronda.

        The US is obligated to defend 29 countries under NATO’s Article 5. Of course, technically, they’re obligated to defend us too.

        So, in theory, all Russia would have to do to start WW3 is attack, say, Montenegro, or any one of the other 28.

        I don’t know…I am disturbed by the warmongering that I see in the American media. Seems to me, we are playing with fire.

        I guess I believe that we should give peace a chance. Banal, I know. And probably hopeless, as well.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 27, 2022 1:05 am

        It is disturbing, but I consider it from a “far side”… and although loud, I do not think of them as being numerous enough to scare me. I truly believe we will continue sanctions, and they ARE hurting Russia.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 23, 2022 1:20 am

        It is also important to make this costly for Putin – because China is watching.

        Invading Tiawan would be several orders of magnitude worse than this .

        Chian is an ascendant super power. Russia is a waning one.

        If Putin had rolled over Ukraine – the odds would have doubled that Xi attacked Tiawan.

    • Savannah Jordan permalink
      April 21, 2022 2:57 pm

      This is Savannah Jordan. I never know what WordPress is going to do with my name. I definitely do not want us putting boots on the ground. I feel extremely sorry for the Ukranians and believe that Biden has the best approach, that is, we should send them supplies and medical aid and assist the refugees. But boots on the ground would put us at war with Russia and I have little doubt that this would involve nuclear weapons. I know that people hearken back to WWII citing the possibility that we could have prevented Hitler’s successes if we had stopped his initial aggressions but I don’t believe this is similar to Hitler’s objectives. Putin doesn’t have a plan to dominate the world and our interventions in other more recent global conflicts has been a disaster.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 22, 2022 9:25 am

        Savannah, watching this Ukraine-Russsia war and hearing all of the various takes on it, I am more reminded of the causes of WW1 than WW2. Nationalistic concerns, especially regarding Serbia and alliances, not dissimilar to NATO, that made Germany feel threatened.

        I agree with you that, as dangerous and brutal a dictator as Putin is, he is not Hitler. He is not committing genocide, nor is he attempting world ~ or even European ~` dominance.

        Ukraine appears to be a proxy state for America right now. We have poured 10’s of $billions$ into this war against Russia, (just yesterday added another $800 million, while the media claimed we still haven’t given enough, despite already supplying to the tune of $14 billion, just in 2022).

        From what I can tell, we have already made this our war, we just haven’t sent troops yet.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 22, 2022 9:28 am

        Ok, 10’s of Billions is an exaggeration! I meant 10’s of Millions ( I keep making that mistake!) Actually, hundreds of millions is the correct take.

      • April 22, 2022 10:44 am

        After Russia annexes Donbas and southern Ukraine, their next step is Moldova. They are already talking about “Russian soeaking” Moldovian citizens and Moldova also is not a NATO member. Once that happens, the rest of Ukraine will be easy pickens with movement on three sides, something the Ukrainian military will be hard to resist. Plus, once Ukraine loses its industrial east, it would seem like it would become a much poorer nation which could lead to people having less desire to resist change.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 22, 2022 11:06 am

        Don’t get me wrong, Ron. Putin is an imperialist, and clearly wants to reconstitute as much of the old USSR as he can. I just don’t see his goal as world domination. That seems more like China’s goal.

        It is, and has been, NATO’s goal,and entire purpose, really to deter this. My argument all along (it’s a useless argument, because those who want us to go to war with Russia don’t acknowledge it) is that NATO failed to deter this war in Ukraine, and so has made the likelihood of all-out war, in Europe and around the world, more likely.

        Woody Allen once said: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

        His point, of course, was that sometimes there are no good options, only the lesser of evils. I think that’s where we are now. When deterrence fails, good options are often lost. I think that a cease-fire and a negotiated settlement of this war is the best we can hope for. The worst is unthinkable.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 23, 2022 12:54 am

        I am deeply concerned by those who would take significantly more risks of escalating this.

        Absolutely I WANT NATO and the US to provide much more assistance.

        But wanting to does not make it a good idea.

        It is incredibly easy for this to get out of hand. Tensions are high, NATO forces are very “in your face” with Rusian forces right now – deliberately trying to tie them down and keep them from being deployed to Ukraine.

        I support that – but one mistake and things can escalate FAST.

        Further Putin is generally trustworthy – that does not mean he is a good person. It does mean if he says you do this I will do that – he keeps that commitment.

        If I have to choose between Romney, Coons, and Graham – only the last of which I would have considered a neocon, and Gabbard with respect to what to do in Ukraine – I am going with Gabbard everytime.

        I am very worried that there are lots of people in DC – some outspoken but many working quietly who want to act much more aggressively.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 23, 2022 1:05 am

        Right now Zelensky is probably screaming for the 80B in military hardware that we abandoned in afghanistan.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        April 22, 2022 9:11 pm

        Exactly. IF Putin is insane enough and greedy enough to go beyond Ukraine, then we must do whatever is necessary, but I also don’t see that at this point. However, I do support aid and whatever sanctions we can continue to implement.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 23, 2022 1:09 am

        I do not beleive Biden knows what he is doing, and I do not beleive he is in charge.

        But this is only the 2nd time since being inaugurated where I beleive that this administration is managing to find the sweetspot between starting a bigger war and letting Ukraine get overrun.

        They Botched everything leading up to this – and they are constantly having to walk back stupid remarks Biden makes. But in terms of what they are doing – so far they are doing well.
        On this issue alone.

  36. Priscilla permalink
    April 24, 2022 10:03 am

    I have a question: does anyone here think that it’s still possible to end this war through diplomacy? Or is escalation and expansion of it now inevitable?

    The forms of punishment now being implemented against Russia– severe economic sanctions and military aid to Ukraine – are designed to prolong the military struggle and to cripple the Russian economy, on the theory that Russia’s discontented masses and oligarchs will then replace Putin with a leader more to the West’s liking. But that’s no guarantee of what will happen.

    Escalating and prolonging the conflict will kill more Ukrainians and Russians, and inspire both sides to seek revenge. It may also move the world closer to nuclear war. Making a whole people suffer often unites them against their adversary rather than turning them against their leader.

    Putin started this war, but avoiding it required more than just convincing him that it was a cruel and bad idea. The invasion could probably have been averted if the Americans and Europeans had agreed to stop expanding NATO and to treat Ukraine as a neutral buffer state, as they did after World War II in the cases of Austria and Finland.

    So, is there anything that can be done now?

    • Ron P permalink
      April 24, 2022 12:08 pm

      Putin has made it very clear. He has stated his goal is all of eastern Ukraine around to the Moldovan border and annexing the Russian speaking sections of Moldova.

      I think he also understands that once the eastern part of Ukraine is Russia, the rest will fall over time due to a collapsing economy and lack of ports for trade.

      Moldova has a constitutional requirement to stay neutral, will not allow foreign troops on its soil, so they are ripe for the pickens. Russia will walk in with no resistance at all.

      As for Ukraine. 11.5% of the population has left and 16% has been displaced. With the destruction of the east, who knows how many would return. I suspect a large percentage of individuals will find home in another country and never return after Russia takes what they want. I doubt they would ever put the money into rebuilding much in the east they have destroyed other than military bases.

      As the fighting goes on right now, the west is only extending the inevitable because Ukraine is not NATO and no NATO country is going to send troops to help. Ukraine is not NATO since they were a Russian puppet nation after the breakup of the soviet union .There have been calls for NATO membership since 2002, but not until recently has Ukraine made some of the changes from a soviet style govt to a more democratic nation that the west demanded. And even to late, corruption has been one of the stumbling blocks to that proceeding.

      And as long as Europe is dependent on Russia for oil and gas, they will continue to fund Putins expansion into the west. With the doubling and at times tripling of oil prices, whatever they have lost due to sanctions has been offset a lot by increased oil revenues. As for the oligarchs, they have not had the influence they once had for a few years now.. Putins inner circle is military and KGB (or whatever they call it now) for the most part. As long as one supports that structure, one can stay or become rich in Russia. If not, you either disappear or you are in a different country hiding from being poisoned by Russian operatives.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 25, 2022 7:32 pm

        My goal is to get through this without a global nuclear war.

        To a large extent most other outcomes are not all that important.

        Even if Russia secures eastern Ukraine, Russia has been exposed as a paper tiger.

        It will be a decade before they can dream of another military operation.

    • Savannah Jordan permalink
      April 24, 2022 8:27 pm

      I do not think diplomacy is an option. The Ukrainians want their independence and Putin wants Ukraine returned to Russia. Fear of Ukraine entering NATO was just an excuse to begin the invasion. This is from a BBC article that I read, “Since Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapsed, it has gradually looked to the West – both the EU and Nato.

      Russia’s leader has sought to reverse that, seeing the fall of the Soviet Union as the “disintegration of historical Russia”. He has claimed Russians and Ukrainians are one people, denying Ukraine its long history and seeing today’s independent state merely as an “anti-Russia project”. “Ukraine never had stable traditions of genuine statehood,” he asserted.”

      Eventually Russia’s overwhelming military superiority will crush Ukraine. Putin knows it and sees no reason to acquiesce to any of Ukraine’s demands.

      • vermonta permalink
        April 24, 2022 9:04 pm

        I don’t agree Ron. Yours is a very negative assessment. Your predictions may come true but the Ukrainians have knocked down the Russian combat effectiveness by 25%. That may seem like no big deal, 75% are left right? Wrong. 25% combat effectiveness lost is a huge deal, it means that they are actually at the edge of their resources. My family military source mentioned 25% loss as the point at which a military is defeated. The Russians are desperately trying for some huge victory by May 9 and in the process are throwing together bits of pieces of units that suffered huge losses. Many military analysts I have read think the Russian army will continue to face the same issues that defeated them in their attempt to take Kiev. As well the Ukrainians are better armed every day.

        Ukraine is facing a very tough month but is well in the fight and has 10 million or so men to call on potentially and pretty much infinite resupply by the west of weapons, which Russia does not have. And you are not factoring in Russian incompetence and very low morale. Weather is also likely to bog Russia down in the next phase.

        Yes they are a huge country, yes they are talking big, but they have been a fairly pathetic army thus far and the Ukrainians are fighting like the devil and very effectively.

        Still your dire predictions could come true, but that is not what military analysts are favoring at this point.

      • April 24, 2022 9:21 pm

        Roby thanks for this info. Right now everything on most news in Mariopul and the last hold outs in the steel factories. Unless one knows how to search for data, pages come up that say thesame thing. Hooe you are right!

    • April 25, 2022 7:15 pm

      This MUST end through diplomacy – the risk otherwise is far too great.

      Many people have noted that Washington will fight Putin down to the last Ukrainian.

      That is a joke, but it reflects a serious issue.

      It is increasingly likely that if Ukraine wishes to – at great human cost they can drive Russia completely out – including from Crimea – given sufficient supplies from the west.
      And increasingly the west is happy to oblige.

      But that is the RISKIEST solution to this. That greatly increases the odds that Putin excalates – that he uses WMD’s

      Purportedly Russia is currently engaged in salvage operations on the Moskova – because there were Nuclear Cruise missiles on board.

      It is in theory possible that Putin can be defeated and that he will take defeat graciously without escalating.

      I would not bet my children on it. And that is what we are doing if we push too hard.

      In the long run Russia must lose, but that is likely anyway – even if there is a diplomatic settlement now.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 25, 2022 7:21 pm

      The expansion of NATO as well as the diminution of the US role in NATO are both actually good ideas.

      So good that Europe should have been slowly working towards incorporation Russia, rather than alienating her.

      That said – it was a BAD idea to poke the bear – before this war started.

      Sweden and Finland are now seeking to join NATO in WEEKS.

      That too is not a bad idea. Right now it probably does not matter – Russia is already pissed off, and they do not have the resources to open another front.
      Right now Sweden and Finland joining NATO would increase the pressure on Russia – it would double the NATO boarder it would have to defend.

  37. Priscilla permalink
    April 24, 2022 3:31 pm

    “And as long as Europe is dependent on Russia for oil and gas, they will continue to fund Putins expansion into the west.”

    Agree 100%. Almost half of Russia’s whole economy is based on oil and gas exports.

    “Putin is continuing to make at least a billion dollars a day selling oil and gas, and the lion’s share is from Europe,” said Edward Fishman, a former Europe specialist at the State Department. “Individual European countries are sending military assistance to Ukraine but it’s dwarfed by payments they’re making to Russia for oil and gas.”

    • vermonta permalink
      April 24, 2022 9:21 pm

      No energy is not 50% of the Russian economy. Its 40% of government revenue and 10 to 20% of GDP.
      Yes, Russia still has income from energy but they have a giant country to run as well, that takes most of the money they make. They can use only a small part of their oil income to fund the war, the majority is needed to do everything else the government does and the Russian government is nothing if not huge and wasteful and uber bureaucratic. .
      I find plenty of evidence that the Russian economy is in deep trouble that will only get deeper. Its is taking a lot of money to artificially stabilize the ruble and the ruble is as strong as it is because the russians no longer importing nearly as much. They are cut off from many imports, including ones they need to repair their military losses. They are about to default and be cut off from the ability to borrow for years. Inflation is running at nearly 20% Their economy is predicted to shrink by 10-15% this year. Moscow lost 200, 000 jobs due to foreign firms leaving. Lada ( the main Russian car manufacturer) is shrinking by the minute
      The pain is only just beginning for the Russian economy. Something like six Russian oligarchs have committed suicide since the war began. Russia is in deep economic shit, not that they will collapse completely. If they could buy a victory they would have done it already. They have to get a victory in the end on the ground with their army and their army sucks and has lost a huge part of its resources.

      Ukraine is far from defeated as of today.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 25, 2022 10:49 pm

        Again we are in agreement.

        Russian’s economy was weak BEFORE this.

        Russia has propped up the rubble – but the way they have done that will ultimately fail – it is just a matter of time.

        It has taken Putin 3 decades to build the army to the point it was.
        Russia is not replacing what it has lost quickly.

        Russia is NOT the USSR and the USSR was never as strong as we thought.

        Russia has a lower GDP than Texas.

        Further there are increasing economic indications that the Chinese economy may be in serious trouble. China may not be able to prop Russia up.

        There are more issues than money. New Tanks and top of the line Frigates do not grow on Trees.

        The US defense budget is half as large as the entire Russian economy.

        Even if this ended quickly with Russia getting much of what it wants – Russia will take a decade or more to recover.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 25, 2022 7:38 pm

      There is more than money involved.

      Estimates are Russia has expended 10-20% of its military – i.e. equipment has been destroyed. It has taken 20 years for Putin to rebuild the Russian military to the state it is in today.

      Russian arms production is poor – most foreign countries are NOT buying Russian military hardware. And they will decline. Russia has been paying for the modernization of its own equipment with foreign sales that were drying up before this.

      The Sinking of the Moskova is HUGE – that was like the US losing a Super Carrier.
      It was also huge – because the Moskova is supposed to be a fleet defense ship – it is supposed to be able to defend not only itself but other a whole battle group.

      It is like a US AEGIS cruiser. And it was taken out by a Ukrainian Harpoon clone – that is a RETIRED US antiship weapon.

      I do not think the Russian military are recovering from this in a very long time.

  38. Vermonta permalink
    April 24, 2022 10:07 pm

    One more thing, I have my own take on negotiations. I think neither side wants them and neither side will settle for anything other than a win. In my opinion a long drawn out war favors Ukraine and in my opinion they have more resources, more people to fight, more military help from abroad of which Russia has none. Not to mention much higher morale and much stronger motivation.

    Zelensky is playing psychological warfare when he offers to meet with Putin to negotiate in my opinion. Zelensky may have the balls to meet Putin, but Putin will put a gun in his mouth before he would meet Zelensky, most especially if Ukraine can withstand the Russian Donbas offensive and push back. Putin has too large an ego to come face to face with a man who has achieved what Zelensky has and humiliated him.

    I see Ukraine being the victor, at a terrible cost, if they survive this month or two.

    I see Russia being the big loser no matter what happens now, their place in the world has fallen sharply and could only recover if they make a drastic change in their government. They can sell energy to china and india, but being a pariah in Europe and the “west” and being outcast from the world banking system in many ways is a blow to an already pathetic standard of living. At some point in time ordinary Russians will rebel. It may take years but it is the future.

    • Priscilla permalink
      April 24, 2022 10:33 pm

      I completely agree with you on negotiations. Neither side wants to make any concessions, so that’s that. Don’t know which side wins politically in a long drawn out war, but the global economy looks to be a loser.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 25, 2022 11:01 pm

        There will be a negotiated settlement if and when Biden wants one.

        Zelensky can not continue long without US aide.

  39. Vermonta permalink
    April 25, 2022 7:44 am

    Harm to the global economy will pass. Harm to the political and ideological situation in the world would be permanent if a fascist dictatorship in Moscow really were to succeed in it’s aims without the west confronting them and prevailing. We owe Ukraine a huge debt of gratitude for their guts and skills.
    Putin really IS the enemy and the size of his threat to the world cannot be overestimated.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 25, 2022 11:20 pm

      Putin is “the enemy” – but he is not and has not been for a long time the most significant threat to the US or world.

      The left’s idiotic Trump Russia nonsense has created a false perception of Putin as much more important than he is.

      Ukraine has done well – they have also shown us all how weak he was.
      Russia has not be a real threat to a significant western country for some time – Ukraine just exposed that.

      The west does owe Ukraine – but I would close to guarantee that at the right moment the US will force Zelensky to the table.

      The US and the west will rebuild Ukraine after this.

      Russians will have to decide what to do with Putin.

      There is nothing we can do that will not make things worse.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 26, 2022 9:00 am

        “The left’s idiotic Trump Russia nonsense has created a false perception of Putin as much more important than he is.”

        I see, this is the “left’s” idea in your world.

        Remind me, is there is some other country with a paranoid megalomaniac leader surrounded by yes men with no political constraints that controls a military with 6000 warheads, nuclear subs, and has no impulse control, wants to expand its already largest in the world land mass, has a seat on the security council, energy domination of Europe, and meddles all over the world in any place it can support another dictatorship?

        So, Sweden and Finland are going to join NATO because of their fear of an undangerous power?

        Please. You hate the left so much and in so delusional a manner that you think the left is have invented a fictitious fear of Putin?

        This is seriously in the running for the stupidest idea you have ever had.

        Earth to Dave: There is no greater danger to world stability, economic, military and ideological than the delusional autocratic leader of the largest country on earth that has the largest stockpile of every kind of nuclear weapon, a man who is unconstrained by the normal considerations that drive the thinking of other countries, and is looking to expand his borders again due to either flat out warfare or intimidation that they may find some Russians who are being oppressed in a neighboring country and use that as a pretext to invade, hmm, lets say Kazakhstan, in a year after they have licked their wounds and need a new project to restore national pride.

        Yes his army is unimpressive but the problem is that he is quite willing to use it anyhow. Have you noticed the destruction and death his untalented military have nevertheless caused in Ukraine?

        Earth to Dave, left, right, and center are united in the US and for the most part in Europe and every first world country in the idea that Putin is a danger to the free world, a man who has plenty of weapons, military and non military, to destabilize the world and to kill anyone he thinks opposes Russian imperial ambitions.

        Please inform me, which other country is more dangerous than Putin’s Russia and give a coherent set of reasons why.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 26, 2022 9:54 am

        Roby, Dave is agreeing with you about almost everything here. Putin is a bad guy. You’ve said Russia’s army is collapsing. You’ve said Russia’s economy is in the toilet. Why argue whether Putin is the worst guy ever in history or not?

        Maybe he is. Probably not. Doesn’t change anything,

      • April 26, 2022 10:29 am

        Interesting report in Newsnation last night. Speculation that Putin is suffering from Parkinsons, Brain Tumor or cancer is taking off. Also, the question of just how good our intelligence info is has come up because this has been developing, but only ID’ed the oast month or so. Now many reports of this on internet.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 26, 2022 10:51 am

        Yes, I’ve read that as well. And if you look at pictures of Putin from even 2-3 years ago, and compare them to now, he looks alwful. His face is very bloated, as if he’s on some kind of steroid medication like prednisone, and when he sits at a table he sometimes grips it like he needs support.

        But, who knows?

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 6:57 pm

        We all hope Putin is gone soon. We can turn blue in the face debating exactly how evil he is.

        What is true regardless, is that but for his nuclear arsonal Putin is militarily impotent.

        We have been waiting on a Russian offensive in the East for weeks.

        I have seen no consequential changes. Either it has not occured or it was so weak it was obliterated. Putin’s self imposed May 9 deadline is fast approaching.

        I see the same daily new videos claiming Ukraine bloodied Russia’s nose again
        But no evidence that Russia is meaningfully advancing.

        A war of attrition will cost lots of Ukraine lives – but Russia will lose.

        As I noted before – Russia can not even remain where it is without total victory or a peace deal.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 5:28 pm

        I actually share more common ground on this with Robby than Ron.

        Ron is unbelievably pessimistic.

        None of us should be blase – the best possible outcome involves lots of death and destruction.

        But it is clear that Putin’s military is much much weaker than believed.

        I do not know what the real support of people in occupied areas are for Putin and Russia.
        If those people really identify with Putin and Russia – Ukraine will not be able to recapture and hold those regions. Otherwise Russia will not be able to hold them indefinitely.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 5:30 pm

        Also Robby does not want to see that Putin is weaker than thought – because that means Trump was again right.

        And everything for Robby is ultimately about how evil Trump is.

        If Putin and Trump got into an actual fight – Robby would pick Putin.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 3:24 pm

        The short version.

        It is self evident right now that we should ALL be concerned about Russia as a global nuclear power.

        It is also self evident that Russia is NOT a global military, or economic power.
        They are a regional power well within the ability of Europe to manage with logistical support from the US.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 4:04 pm

        The planet is full of delusional authoritarians like Putin. They are all a threat.

        Xi is far more brutal than Putin – to his own people, and has at least the same aspirations.
        and is actually more actively perusing them – though less militarily.

        It is self evident right now that as a military threat Russia is not even close to having the capability of attacking even a small part of Europe given even weak support from the rest of Europe and US logistical support.

        They are a regional military power – nothing more.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 4:39 pm

        Russia is not attacking anyone in a year.
        They are not attacking anyone else in a decade.

        As even YOU have noted the damage to the Russian military is enormous.

        Russia has the most modern Main Battle Tank in the world, possibly one of the best fighters in the world – atleast on paper. it is producing a handful of those a year. It has easily just lost a decades worth of military production,

        Russian tanks are numbered after the year they were designed.

        The US M1 Abrhams – our top of the line Dates to the 1980’s.

        The Russian T80 is supposed to be equivalent – it is not. The T-90 is supposed to be superior, the T-14 of which there are only a handful is supposed to be one of the best MBT’s in the world. Putin has not sent a single one to Ukraine because the loss of even one would make it impossible for Russia to sell them, except they are not selling anyway.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 5:14 pm

        Absolutely the west is united.

        I have not said otherwise.
        Frankly that is another huge strategic mistake of Putins.

        But I would note that the west is united to
        “fight Putin down to the very last ukrainian”

        It is obvious to most everyone that Putin is dangerous enough to injure his neigbors,
        But not strong enough to defeat them.

        Short of a massive Russian breakthrough and the utter defeat of Ukraine in the next few days which is not going to happen. Russia is not invading anyone else anytime soon.

        Your engaged in incredibly shallow thinking.

        The crystal clear lesson of all of this is that the terrifying Russian military is a paper tiger.

        Right now EVERYONE knows that – including Putin.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 26, 2022 10:42 am

        Priscilla, over the course of this war Dave has been reasonable quite often, we have had more agreement than usual, and I can point to quite a few cases where he has even surprised me pleasantly.

        But, the idea that Putin’s importance is a fiction created by the “left” and that the weakness of their army indicates that we should scale down our assessment of the risk Putin’s Russia poses is wildly wrong and I said so. If Dave can make the case that China or islamic fundamentalism or some other entity are more dangerous than Russia, then let him make that case.

        There is this, to me unbelievable, tendency of some elements of the right to play down the danger of Putin, although most elements of the right have shifted back to their traditional (correct) view of Putin and the historical trend of Russian government and foreign policy. As I long predicted would happen.

        I obviously never said that Putin is the worst in history, but he is the most dangerous man in the world since Hitler. In a sense he is more dangerous than Hitler because Hitler did not control 6000 nuclear weapons.

      • john Say permalink
        April 26, 2022 6:25 pm

        No putin is not the most dangerous man in the world.

        Yopu correctly note his nuclear arsenal.

        You fail to come to terms with the fact that it is now evdent that is ALL he has.

        Xi has enough nukes to knock the world back a century – and his likely all work.

        You jumped to Islam. I do not consider Islam much of a threat.
        Further it is Europes problem not ours.
        With good policy – we do not need mideastern oil.
        Europe does.

        But for oil no one would care if various islamic groups killed each other.

        I think it is inevitable Iran will get a nuke – and the Biden deal will not even be a speed bump.

        All that means is the US needs to improve its ABM systems – that languished under Obama.
        These will nevr neutralize, Russia or China, but they will deal with everyone else.
        If we do not fall behind again.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 26, 2022 10:49 am

        Ron, I have been following the story of Putin’s possible health issues. I also have been following the story of the suicides of at least 5 oligarchs (murder suicides in several cases). Both those stories are so far mostly occurring in tabloids. It is natural for me to suspect that oligarchs murdering their wives and children and then hanging themselves are suspiciously Putinish in flavor and could be intended as his warning to “scums and traitors” in his campaign to “naturally purify” Russia of such people. This may in fact become a huge story but so far its not entering the mainstream media too much.

        All kinds of shit are going to go down in the next year, any day could provide some new shock to the norms we expect.

        Sadly, Parkinson’s would not keep Putin from being Putin but a brain tumor or cancer might cut him short.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 26, 2022 6:28 pm

        All interesting – but the primary US interest in Russia today is what would cause Putin to use nukes and how do we avoid it.

        Russia is not militarily strong enough to require anything from the US but weapons.

  40. Vermonta permalink
    April 26, 2022 10:59 am

    I am seeing relatively little news of the new Russian campaign in Donbas. I have the idea, probably wrong, that the Russians never will make this a full fledged assault because of:

    1) the much weakened state of their army
    2) fear of the new western weapons entering the battlefield
    3) the fear that what is left of their military needs to be preserved for other purposes of actual defense of Russia and the idea that they cannot afford to lose much more of their army or have it embarrased much more. The words of Blinken on this are matter, the strategic weakening of Russia by degrading their military, are very effective psychological warfare.

    I am probably over analyzing this and they will probably launch a major assault to win something by May 9. Still…

    I am much enjoying the complaints of Russians such as Lavrov about America’s meddling being objectionable to Russia. Seems to me they are beginning to grasp that they are losing.

    Targeting Odessa with missiles and blowing up radio towers in Moldova seem to me to be the desperate ploy of an incompetent military that has no idea what to actually do to win this.

    Once again, I am, probably over optimistically, seeing signs that Russia could be in for such a bad month of May that they may face an internal crisis.

  41. John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
    April 27, 2022 6:50 am

    Apparently this has become popular again.

    I heard Barry sing this live several times in the 70’s

    50+ years later and unfortunately still relevant.

  42. Vermonta permalink
    April 27, 2022 8:51 am

    Dave, I have found more agreement than usual with you over this war, and some of what you have said is correct in my view, but in the end you will always be a contrarian living in a world that looks delusional to me much of the time. Russia has badly hurt itself, but has not lost the war yet in Ukraine in terms of its ability to cause incredible destruction and it too early to know how the battle for the east and south will come out or what extremes they will go to if it comes out badly for them. You are wildly underestimating the danger of Putin and Russia. They won’t attack another country for a decade you say? They attacked Moldova yesterday! You live in an alternate universe. If Putin were to die or be removed and the next Russian leader were to be less insane then perhaps this war will have ended Russian aggression for a good long time. As long as putin is in power he will need to use the Russian military to feed his ego and his ultra nationalist Russian view of the world. If you were living in Kazakhstan, which has Russian separatists and no military to speak of and no western protection you would not think that Russia is a paper tiger. Was the US a paper tiger because we lost Vietnam?

    You would be hard pressed to find any western military person who does not take the threat of Putin’s Russia much more seriously than you do, even in their now weakened state. Finland and Sweden understand the meaning of putin, but in the US and Europe some bizarre part of the right either like putin or think he is overrated, or alternately, some think he is so dangerous that we must not irritate him by fighting for Ukraine. There will always be some people who are trying to go against the tide of reality.

    Dmitry Rogozin gave a talk a few years back in which he stated that if Russian conventional forces were to fight Western ones they would be demolished in 8 hours. No sensible person ever thought that Russia can take on NATO with conventional weapons, but nevertheless they flew a formation of fighter jets down the middle of the Thames in broad daylight a few years back and British just watched them do it. They live by provocation and threats, not to mention poisonings and murder. This “paper tiger” demolished Aleppo and has now demolished Mariupol and committed widespread atrocities in Ukraine, a European country and the world could not stop them and the Russian people are also not able to influence Putin or support him. You wildly underestimate the danger of Putin’s Russia. OK, I am not going to reach you and I will stop trying. Be contrarian, it’s a world view that has no influence at present.

    Yes, China is even more repressive than Russia internally in some but not all ways, and yes China is ascending. But you are fixated on China, who are doing precisely nothing in terms of making war, as well as having a much smaller nuclear stockpile and having no good reason to use it or threaten to. You are correct when you say that if we do really come out with a clear victory over Putin then it will certainly have an effect on China’s thinking, one more excellent reason to defeat Russia and damage them as much as possible militarily, diplomatically, and long term economically. But no matter how much damage we do to Russia they will continue to have a huge nuclear arsenal, most probably will always have a single person who has all political power, and a desire to be a large force in the world and bitterly fight the west rather than joining us. Landing a knockout blow on their form of government would be a wonderful thing, but it has not happened yet and I would not bet on it. So, this war between Russia and the West will likely continue for a very long time and any Western weakness or complacency will always be a giant mistake.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 27, 2022 3:57 pm

      With respect to “what is likely in the future because of this”

      Again we are into massive crystal ball reading.

      Russia’s Ukraine debacle did not actually weaken China – but nearly everyone agrees it lowered the risk of a China invasion of Taiwan.

      If you wish to argue that Putin might send troops into Kazhakstan or topple some antenna’s in Moldova – fine.

      I will agree that this loss will not prevent Putin from engaging in further agression that is inside the capability of a significantly weakened and defeated military.

      I also suspect for some time he will engage in “standoffs”.
      Pull stunts that try to create the appearance of strength

      As I said before “But for Nukes, Russia is now a REGIONAL power”

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 27, 2022 6:34 pm

        That is the world’s largest but. We have found agreement it seems.

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 27, 2022 6:57 pm

        I have qualified many of my remarks as tea leaf and crystal ball reading.

        Something that should be self evident. That I should not have to do. That I am probably not going to continue to do – not because it is not true, but because the difference between statements of opinion and assertions of fact are pretty clear especially when we discuss the future which is ALWAYS an opinion.

        I think there is absolutely no doubt at all that Russia’s failure decreased the odds of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

        It did NOT decrease it to zero. Less likely is not the same as will not happen.

        Before Russia invaded Ukraine it was still less than 50:50 that China would do so in the next 4 years.
        I would have put the odds of Russia invading Ukraine below 50:50 a year ago.

        Odds are not certainty – they are just often the best we have.

    • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
      April 27, 2022 4:13 pm

      I strongly suspect that Russia’s Weakness is driving Finland and Sweden into NATO,

      Many european nations – including Sweden and Finland that are not part of NATO are so because of an implicit and sometime explicit deal with the USSR and now Russia that their neutrality would be respected if they limited their ties to the west.

      There are significant benefits to being part of NATO for finland and Sweden.

      Regardless, I am all for NATO growing and the US role in it diminishing.

      NATO diminishes the likelyhood of military conflicts between NATO countries.

      Germany does not have armored divisions defending its borders with France.

      NATO not only means all will defend one. It also means it is nearly impossible for members to have a military conflict with each other.

      • Vermonta permalink
        April 27, 2022 6:35 pm

        It’s a good point

      • John B Say (@johnbsay) permalink
        April 27, 2022 7:40 pm

        Russia’s attack on Ukraine both undermined the implicit/explicit neutrality deal, but it also revealed that if Ukraine can defend itself against Russia with some help – then NATO can easily defend any NATO country. That makes membership more valuable than neutrality.

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