March 5, 2022

Sunrise — 6:40.



What controversial issue is uniting right-wing Ron Johnson and left-wing Tammy Baldwin?

Ending the protection of wolves.
The bill comes after a federal judge in California last month ordered protections be restored for wolves across most of the U.S. after the Trump administration removed them from the endangered species list. Re-listing wolves on the list effectively banned any wolf hunting or trapping seasons and prohibited farmers and ranchers from killing wolves preying on livestock.

ADDED: "We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer—which is, in reality, not more than the reflected image of ourselves. We have made it the scapewolf for our own sins."

"We’re going to keep annoying D.C. … Just make them wonder a little bit. Look, we’re truck drivers; we’re very spontaneous."

Said People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis, quoted in "‘Freedom Convoy’ spinoff arrives in Md. with about 1,000 vehicles and unclear plans/The group, which is protesting vaccine mandates, previously planned to arrive in the D.C. Beltway area Saturday" (WaPo).

ADDED: Are vaccine mandates really still a problem? 

AND: I want to give the NYT credit for perceiving the truck driver as having spoken with a semicolon.

"One of the greatest surprises from the initial phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been the inability of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) fighter and fighter-bomber fleets to establish air superiority, or..."

"... to deploy significant combat power in support of the under-performing Russian ground forces. On the first day of the invasion, an anticipated series of large-scale Russian air operations in the aftermath of initial cruise- and ballistic-missile strikes did not materialise. An initial analysis of the possible reasons for this identified potential Russian difficulties with deconfliction between ground-based surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, a lack of precision-guided munitions and limited numbers of pilots with the requisite expertise to conduct precise strikes in support of initial ground operations due to low average VKS flying hours. These factors all remain relevant, but are no longer sufficient in themselves to explain the anaemic VKS activity as the ground invasion continues into its second week.... One potential argument is that the VKS fighter fleets are being held in reserve, potentially as a deterrent against direct intervention by NATO forces. This is unlikely to be the case.... [T]he continued pattern of activity suggests... that the VKS lacks the institutional capacity to plan, brief and fly complex air operations at scale...."

Writes Justin Bronk, Research Fellow for Airpower at RUSI.

Oh, come on. If it isn't an orange hair, it's not worth saying.

At The Washington Post right now, there's the headline on the column...


... and the teaser on the front page:


And though that doesn't seem to me to be something worth reading at all, it's currently ranking #1 on WaPo's "most read." I take that to mean there's still a ravenous demand for anti-Trump porn.

ADDED: The hair-on-the-sleeve metaphor calls to mind clandestine sexual relationships. That orange hair found on your sleeve that should have been noticed and removed — one pictures a wife discovering your adulterous affair. 

AND: Here's the link to George Will's column in case you want to read it. Let me know if he characterizes the Trump haters' relationship to Trump as sexual. 

Oh, I'll read what Will wrote about hair: "Floundering in his attempts to wield political power while lacking a political office, Donald Trump looks increasingly like a stray orange hair to be flicked off the nation’s sleeve." 

Bleh! Mixed metaphor! If something is "floundering," it doesn't look like a stray hair. It looks like a flopping, dying fish. 

And speaking of the "fl-" words in that dismal sentence, flicking isn't the right motion for removing a hair from clothing. Flicking works on dandruff and other small flakes and flecks. You'd better get a pincer grip on that hair and pull. 

No wonder you're having so much trouble with deTrumpification. You don't know how to use the right words, and you don't know how to take the right actions.

March 4, 2022

Sunrise — 6:37 and 6:51.



Write about anything you want in the comments.

The NYT has an article about "gravel gardens" that features the horticulturist at Madison's Olbrich Gardens.

"'I’ve never liked the name, because it just doesn’t conjure the look of what’s possible,' said [Jeff] Epping, the director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, in Madison, Wis., where he created his first gravel garden in 2009, and has planted three more since.... It is precisely because of the gravel that upkeep is so drastically reduced. This is no mere top-dressing — not a mulch layer, but a deliberate foundation four or five inches deep that the garden is planted into. That depth discourages weeds from finding a foothold, while minimizing runoff, directing available water to where roots can use it. Caring for an established gravel garden requires even less attention week to week than taking care of a lawn, which 'might as well be a parking lot, as far as the garden’s creatures go,' Mr. Epping said.... As in a raised bed, what is required is a perimeter barrier — in this case, about six inches high — to contain the gravel at a consistent depth throughout. Otherwise, pebbles near the edges would naturally spread out, and the thinner layer of gravel would invite weeds to self-sow...."

From "Why Gravel Gardens Are Better Than They Sound/Yes, they may require 80 percent less work. But their beauty alone is reason enough to rethink the way you’re gardening now" (NYT).

The Madison, Wisconsin mask requirement ended on March 1st, but businesses are still allowed to require masks.

I walked all the way down to State Street just to enjoy the freedom to shop unmasked, but the individual shopkeeper's freedom to exclude the unmasked stopped me basically everywhere I wanted to go. 

So I took pictures:



"The Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of helping carry out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The vote was 6 to 3...."

The NYT reports. 

After the justices agreed to review it, the Biden administration pursued the case, United States v. Tsarnaev, No. 20-443, even though President Biden has said he will work to abolish federal executions and the Justice Department under his administration has imposed a moratorium on carrying out the federal death penalty.

Until July 2020, there had been no federal executions in 17 years. In the six months that followed, the Trump administration executed 13 inmates, more than three times as many as the federal government had put to death in the previous six decades....

Why fight for the death penalty and maintain a moratorium against it? It's valuable to preserve power, even the power that you don't currently want to use. A slightly different way to put that is: For Democrats, the best political position is to oppose Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in court — and indeed to retain the death penalty — but never to execute anyone.

"Dickens was a social critic. Almost all his fiction satirizes the institutions and social types produced by that dramatic transformation of the means of production."

"But he was not a revolutionary. His heroes are not even reformers. They are ordinary people who have made a simple commitment to decency. George Orwell, who had probably aspired to recruit Dickens to the socialist cause, reluctantly concluded that Dickens was not interested in political reform, only in moral improvement: 'Useless to change institutions without a change of heart—that, essentially, is what he is always saying.' In fact, a major target of Dickens’s satire is liberalism.... [I]n nineteenth-century England the typical liberal was a utilitarian, who believed that the worth of a social program could be measured by cost-benefit analysis, and very likely a Malthusian.... One of Dickens’s memorable caricatures in 'Bleak House' is Mrs. Jellyby.... We see her at home obsessively devoted to her 'Africa' project, while neglecting, almost criminally, her own children.... But Dickens is not ridiculing Mrs. Jellyby for caring about Africans. ... [S]he was based on a woman Dickens had met, Caroline Chisholm, who operated a charity called the Family Colonization Loan Society, which helped poor English people emigrate. And Mrs. Jellyby’s project is the same: she is raising money for families to move to a place called Borrioboola-Gha, 'on the left bank of the Niger,' so that there will be fewer mouths to feed in England. She’s a Malthusian. "

From "The Crisis That Nearly Cost Charles Dickens His Career/The most beloved writer of his age, he had an unfailing sense of what the public wanted—almost" by Louis Menand (The New Yorker).

"In her book 'Regarding the Pain of Others,' from 2003, Susan Sontag tracked the evolution of war journalism from photography to television."

"The Spanish Civil War marked the emergence of the professionalized photojournalist, equipped with a Leica 35-mm. film camera to capture the conflict on the ground. The Vietnam War was the first war to be televised, and it made the carnage in conflict zones 'a routine ingredient of the ceaseless flow of domestic, small-screen entertainment,' Sontag wrote. Now the small screens are our phones.... For Sontag, photographs had a 'deeper bite' than video when it came to documenting war. A single image taken on the ground could endure for generations, like Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War photograph 'The Falling Soldier.' Social-media documentation is less likely to last—it’s ephemeral by design.... As Sontag wrote, 'Photographs of an atrocity may give rise to opposing responses. A call for peace. A cry for revenge. Or simply the bemused awareness, continually restocked by photographic information, that terrible things happen.'... The flood of TikTok videos is perhaps more likely to evoke our bemused awareness.... Yet... traditional news organizations are pulling their journalists to safety. Social media is an imperfect chronicler of wartime. In some cases, it may also be the most reliable source we have."

From "Watching the World’s 'First TikTok War'/Social media’s aesthetic norms are shaping how Ukrainians document the Russian invasion. Is it a new form of citizen war journalism or just an invitation to keep clicking?" by Kyle Chayka (The New Yorker).

You can see TikTok's Ukraine videos at #ukraine.

I hadn't seen a sandhill crane in many weeks...


... so I took a long look this morning — as the sun rose over Lake Mendota.

"My own view is that the biggest brains wouldn't be in the legal profession to start with."

Writes Balfegor, in the comments to the previous post, where I'd said, "But what if we could find the 9 biggest brains in the law field and make a Supreme Court out of them? We might discover they make terrible Justices."

I wrote "biggest brains in the law field" because I thought being in the law field would be a basic qualification to get started on the job, but I wrote that thinking these are not the biggest of the big brains.

That made me think about Laurence Tribe, the noted Harvard professor:

"'Patently racist': Tucker Carlson under fire for questioning Ketanji Brown Jackson’s LSAT scores /The Fox News host’s call for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s LSAT score is ‘patently racist,’ says one Harvard Law School graduate."

The Independent reports.

I don't know about "patently," but it is racist. I considered saying "insidiously racist," but, on reflection, I'll say it's somewhere on the insidiously-to-patently continuum.

Did we ever discuss any other Supreme Court nominee's LSAT score?

Here's the Carlson quote: "So is Ketanji Brown Jackson — a name that even Joe Biden has trouble pronouncing — one of the top legal minds in the entire country? We certainly hope so … so it might be time for Joe Biden to let us know what Ketanji Brown Jackson's LSAT score was."

It's very easy to say "Brown" and "Jackson," so he's just calling attention to Ketanji. What her parents named her has nothing to do with the nominee's qualifications, so why bring this up in the middle of demanding evidence of her basic intelligence? You don't have to be a genius to see that's racial.

As for "top legal minds"? Since when are Supreme Court nominees chosen from "the top legal minds"? I've never noticed that, and I've been watching the American legal scene for 40 years. In any case, law isn't like math. There's no objective test for law aptitude, and there are plenty of American law school graduates with LSAT scores in the 99th percentile who've never displayed a glint of brilliance. 

But what if we could find the 9 biggest brains in the law field and make a Supreme Court out of them? We might discover they make terrible Justices. And, by the way, I believe that the 9 biggest brains — whoever you are out there, Big Brains! — would refuse to take the job. Too boring. Too restricted. No freedom to rove all over the intellectual landscape.

Let's stop pretending we love the work of the very smartest people. Not in law we don't. We actually prefer something more ordinary. We want focus on texts, adherence to precedent, grounding in practical reality. It's dumb to be an intelligence snob here, and Tucker's posturing is particularly dumb. Virulently dumb.

"At a time when our society is deeply divided and when a surge of antisemitic, anti-Asian, Islamophobic and anti-Black racism threatens the social fabric, it feels urgent..."

"... that we develop new language for discussing the relationship between identity, ancestry, history and science. DNA analysis could help create that language by offering more nuanced ways of looking at individual origins and a more unifying narrative about our shared heritage.... [But race will not] magically disappear anytime soon.... [T]he social reality of race is undeniable. And genetics — or, for that matter, any science — has the potential to be misused, co-opted by racist ideologies and employed to bolster harmful narratives about racial purity or biological superiority. But if we can, at the very least, embrace the understanding that race (a toxic social construction) and ancestry (a shared genetic history) are not only distinct but also fundamentally opposed — and teach that in our classrooms — it could go a long way toward freeing us from some of the binds in which scientific racism have trapped us."

That's from "We Need a New Language for Talking About Race" by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew S. Curran (NYT). Gates and Curran have a new book, “Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter From the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race.'"

I added the boldface.

March 3, 2022

Sunrise — 6:28 and 6:41.



Talk about anything you want in the comments.

"Ukraine and Russia say they have agreed to temporary local cease-fires to create 'humanitarian corridors' so civilians can be evacuated and food and medicine can be delivered...."

"The development follows a second round of talks on Thursday afternoon, as local leaders warned about significant impacts to Ukrainian cities and as a mass exodus continues."

WaPo reports.

"Their lives were dotted with the minor luxuries of the progressive and affluent. They’re the kind of people who know..."

"... the local lady who makes her own Thai barbecue sauce; they notice when Rachel Maddow changes her shade of lip gloss; Bloom once had a second refrigerator devoted solely to condiments. One sign Brian was changing: his taste started to falter. This was funny until it wasn’t. He began to buy Bloom jewelry, she writes, 'so far from my taste that, if he were a different man, I’d think he was keeping a Seventies-boho, broke-ass mistress in Westville and gave me the enameled copper earrings and bangle he bought for her, by mistake.'"

From "‘In Love,’ a Novelist’s Powerful Memoir About a Happy Marriage and an Assisted Suicide/In her new book, Amy Bloom writes about loving her husband and helping him to end his life after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s" by Dwight Garner, in his NYT review of "In Love/A Memoir of Love and Loss" by Amy Bloom.

"So far, the sprawl of haute-suburban restaurants is limited to Manhattan and Brooklyn, and there is some nuance within the genre. They can take the shape of a 'classic American tavern'..."

"... a 'classic neighborhood tavern'... or perhaps a 'classic Midwestern supper club'... sold on the premise that it seems like the kind of no-frills local joints that once dotted the highway exits of Wisconsin.... I invited my friend from Madison to join me at Emmett’s on Grove.... When I asked if the restaurant resembled something from the Badger State in any way, my friend struggled to perceive any similarities, aside from the booths and the overall roominess. Nothing about the décor screamed 'Midwest' to me, but the ability to order a side of ranch with our pizza certainly nodded to the region’s culinary sensibilities. (This is not a criticism.) Our servers were also extremely polite, another midwestern trait, but that could have been our luck. We stayed true to the nostalgic vibe and split a simple pepperoni pizza, plus some arugula salad and — why not? — a baked potato because my friend’s mom eats one every day, and it felt like an authentic thing to do."

From "Haute Suburbia/Why do New York City’s hottest restaurants feel like they’ve been airlifted in from the Midwest?" (NY Magazine).

The headline and the text don't match up too well unless you stress "feel like" and take note of who's doing the feeling. But that's what restaurants do, create an ambience, and they're working with whatever's in the mind of customers who probably lack experience with the place the restaurant is purporting to evoke. 

The writer of the article (Tammie Teclemariam) orders pepperoni pizza and deems it "true" in some sense having to do with her own feeling of nostalgia, which seems attached to absolutely nothing except perhaps her own past experience with pizza-eating. Ironically, pizza is the most iconic New York City food. Then she adds a potato and deems it "authentic," but I've never heard of anyone eating potato with pizza. 

"A lot of other places around the world, they just fold the minute there’s any type of adversity... I mean can you imagine if he [Vladimir Putin] went into France? Would they do anything to put up a fight? Probably not."

Said Ron DeSantis, quoted in "Ron DeSantis suggests France would ‘fold’ if it was invaded by Russia/The 2024 presidential nominee contender also angrily chastised students on stage with him for wearing masks as 'Covid theatre'" (The Guardian).

I'm setting aside my notion that DeSantis could be the more palatable, elegant version of Trump.

"Ukraine has invited Russian women to come to Kyiv and collect their sons, many of whom appear to be inexperienced and frightened teenage conscripts."

 The London Times reports. 

In a field surrounded by the people he had been sent to fight, a young Russian prisoner of war hungrily gulped down the tea and bread they offered him. A Ukrainian woman calmed him, telling the soldier not to worry. Using her phone, she made a video call to his mother. As soon as his mother appeared on the screen, he burst into tears.

“Everything is OK,” his female captor said, while others stroked his back. “Natasha, God be with you. We will call you later. He is alive and healthy.”

The video is widely circulating. Here's one place to see it.

"When Beatrice Wood first met Marcel Duchamp at Edgard Varèse’s bedside, a fly flew into her mouth. Unsure of the proper etiquette in this kind of situation, she swallowed it."

"A man behind her, whose presence she had been unaware of, laughed. She turned and saw a 'delicate, chiseled face and penetrating blue eyes.' It was fate: 'At that moment,' she later wrote, 'we were lovers.'" 

So reads the screwy first paragraph of "Reimagining Art, One Threesome at a Time" by Lauren Elkin (reviewing "Spellbound by Marcel Duchamp, Love, and Art" by Ruth Brandon)(NYT).

I say screwy because the man with the chiseled face was Marcel Duchamp, so, contrary to impression given by the phrase that precedes "a fly flew into her mouth," Wood only met Duchamp after she'd swallowed the fly, and because, if Duchamp was "behind her," what was he laughing about? He doesn't seem to have been in any position to see the Varèse-honoring fly-swallowing.

There's also this: "It is questionable whether we really need the pages and pages devoted to ferreting out whether or not Wood actually had penetrative sex with her various lovers, or stray anecdotes like the one in which Roché asks Wood to describe her husband’s penis (referring hilariously, in his diary, to his own as 'God')."

Well, we don't really need any of this, but as unnecessary things go, why the hell not?

"The first witness in the trial, Shauni Kerkhoff, a former Capitol Police officer... told the jury that after he moved toward her up the staircase, disobeying her commands, she used a Tippmann PepperBall Launcher to fire 40 to 50 projectiles."

"That did little to slow him down, she recalled. Mr. Reffitt was also undeterred by larger projectiles fired by her partner and by pepper spray used by a third officer. At that point, Ms. Kerkhoff made a panicked call for help on her radio...."

From "Prosecutors Open Arguments Against Defendant in First Jan. 6 Trial Guy Reffitt recorded himself as he entered the Capitol with zip ties and a pistol. 'We’re taking the Capitol before the day is over, ripping them out by their hair,' he said" (NYT).

Can anyone explain to me why 40 to 50 PepperBalls and larger projectiles and pepper spray would not stop a man? The ineffectiveness of this non-lethal technology would seem to strengthen the argument in favor of lethal technology. Elsewhere in the Capitol that day, lethal technology was used against Ashli Babbitt.

March 2, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


"What the fuck does this woman—she’s a brilliant director by the way, I love her work, previous work—but what the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American west?"

"And why in the fuck does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, ‘This is the way it was.’ That fucking rubbed me the wrong way, pal. And the myth is that they were, you know, these macho men out there with the cattle.... I just come from fucking Texas where I was hanging out with families.... Not men, but families—big, long, extended, multiple-generation families that made their living, and their lives were all about being cowboys. And, boy, when I fucking saw [Power of the Dog] , I thought, ‘What the fuck? Where are we in this world today?'... I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps!"

Said Sam Elliott, on Marc Maron's podcast, quoted in "Sam Elliott Proclaims ‘Power of the Dog’ a ‘Piece of Sh-t’/The veteran actor is not a fan of Jane Campion’s Oscar-nominated cowboy movie" (L.A. Magazine).

Elliott complained about the "allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie," and Marc Maron suggested "that’s what the movie’s about." And, really, why can't a cowboy movie be about anything? I guess it's irritating to see excessive honoring of a movie that's in your genre and made by an outsider to that milieu. But why can't that be the artistic leverage, the filmmaker's outsiderdom?

"Absent from President Joe Biden's State of the Union speech tonight was almost any mention of the criminal justice reforms that Biden had promised on the campaign trail...."

"'Biden's campaign platform included ending the federal death penalty and solitary confinement, decriminalizing marijuana, and using clemency to free federal inmates serving sentences for some nonviolent and drug crimes. More than a year into the new administration, few of those promises have been fulfilled, frustrating criminal justice reform advocates.... Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were both reluctantly dragged by their party to the left on criminal justice issues, and rising murder rates have made many Democrats hesitant to stray too close to any 'defund the police' rhetoric. (One of Biden's bipartisan applause lines of the night was calling for putting more police on the streets: 'The answer is not to defund the police. The answer is to FUND the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.')"

From "Criminal Justice Campaign Promises Absent From Biden's State of the Union Speech/More than a year into the Biden administration, promises to expand clemency, decriminalize marijuana, and end solitary confinement and the federal death penalty remain unfulfilled" by C.J. Ciaramella (Reason).

"This is beyond bizarre. Is some woman about to falsely accuse him of something?"/"You have an irrational hate of women and I'm sorry your [sic] so lonely."

From the comments section at "HBO pulls Larry David documentary hours before premiere so comedian can 'do it in front of an audience'/The Larry David Story was supposed to premiere tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT."

Now, the more interesting question is how can you do something live after you already have it filmed? Before you say maybe they never did film this documentary but were always planning to say we're doing it live, look at the trailer, which seems to be evidence — albeit not conclusive evidence — that there was a documentary already made:

Key line in there: "I'm a total fraud."

It's said to be an extensive interview — Larry Charles interviewing Larry David — so what I'm hoping is happening is that they are following the "My Dinner with Andre" method. To make "Andre," 2 men had extensive, rambling discussions, then they edited it into a very tight conversation, which became the script, that they — actors, now — performed.

In this case, perhaps Charles and David filmed long interviews, and the idea may originally have been to edit the footage into a documentary, but then they decided it would be cooler to make a transcript of the edited footage and perform it as actors in one continuous live show. 

"My Dinner with Andre" became a classy as hell movie, but LD is a comedian, so, for him, the highest form is speaking to a live audience.

"What makes this memoir so absorbing is that it traces China’s tumultuous recent history through the eyes of its most renowned twentieth-century poet, Ai Qing, and his son, Ai Weiwei, now equally renowned in the global art world."

"It guides us from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist era in the 1930s, through Mao Zedong’s revolution in the 1950s and 1960s, and on to the 'reform era' of Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and Xi Jinping’s current Leninist restoration, explaining how, as Ai Weiwei writes, 'the whirlpool that swallowed up my father upended my life too, leaving a mark on me that I carry to this day.'... It does not take many pages of this memoir to leave one feeling drowned in toxic revolutionary brine. But even as readers will be repelled by the relentless savagery of China’s capricious revolution, they will be uplifted by this father-and-son story of humanism stubbornly asserted against it. Ai Weiwei reminds us that freedom is part of being human in the modern world: 'Although China grows more powerful, its moral decay simply spreads anxiety and uncertainty in the world.'" 

Writes Orville Schell, "The Uncompromising Ai Weiwei/Ai Weiwei’s memoir is a father-and-son story of devotion to free expression and resistance to state pressure" (NYRB). 

The book — which I finished reading yesterday — is "1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows." 

I should add — on the subject of fathers — that Ai Weiwei has his own son, and, in the text, that little boy flows from his grandfather and father. I highlighted this:

"I got up to date a year ago, and that's as far as I'm getting — that's your idea? You might as well be a traditionalist."

I exclaimed, just now.

ADDED: The subject was applause, a propos of the SOTU, which I had turned off after 20 minutes, largely because I couldn't put up with all the applause, which slows everything down and is an ugly sound. This evolved into the question why the Congress is still using applause, when it is known to be triggering for some people, and how the new thing is to replace hand clapping with finger snapping. But if you're going to replace what is old — here, hand-clapping — with the new, then you take on the obligation to keep up with the new. It's harder to be progressive than traditional. I don't think finger-snapping is the up-to-date substitution for hand-clapping. Haven't there been several sequential replacements? Wasn't finger-snapping found to trigger some people? The search for a silent alternative led to jazz hands, but then jazz hands also proved triggering, and I think I remember seeing that the thumbs-up sign was currently preferred in some empathetic circles.

Men cannot flee Ukraine. They are required to stay and help defend. But what about trans women?

"There were no supplies, and banks didn’t work. I did not realize it would happen this fast. This is Europe. But it is like Kabul all over again."

"I went outside to buy something to eat, but everything was closed. I went to Western Union to get money, and they didn’t have cash… just like in Kabul on the day of the fall."

Said Masouma Tajik, 23, quoted in "Afghan Refugees in Ukraine Are Reliving a Nightmare/Hundreds of people who escaped the Taliban now found themselves fleeing another war."

"Putin distrusts the West. He is sincerely flummoxed by talk about 'Western values.'... His entourage is afraid to utter a word."

"How far Putin is willing to go—that’s not known by anyone. Obviously, he is trying to realize his own conception about the structure of the world and Ukraine... I don’t have much hope for Ukraine’s negotiations with Vladimir Medinsky, our former minister of culture, who is passionate about the principle that 'truth is what is beneficial to Russia.' This is a joke... I think the plan is to divide Ukraine. With the Western part of the country, whose center is Lviv, the thinking is, Let them live as they want. Central Ukraine, with the center in Kyiv, will have the government that Putin requires, one that is oriented toward Moscow and not the West. And, as for the east, the whole Donbas will be accepted into Russia. Around eight hundred thousand people there were just given Russian passports.... Putin will never leave power of his own will.... His entourage is quite convinced that 'Without Putin, there is no Russia.' ... But the younger generations of Russians, from whom the world and the future are now being taken away, no longer believe this."

Said Dmitry Muratov, quoted in "How Russia’s Nobel-Winning Newspaper Is Covering Ukraine/'We continue to call war war,' Dmitry Muratov, the editor of Novaya Gazeta, said. 'We are waiting for the consequences'" (The New Yorker).

March 1, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about anything you want... except the SOTU address. Please go down to the previous post if you want to talk about that. This place needs to be a refuge from that.

The photograph was taken at 6:40 — 13 minutes after the view of the sunrise posted earlier today, here. It was a lovely day today — sunny and muddy with cracking ice.

It's SOTU night.

The text will be available here, eventually.

And you can watch it live here:


It's a tad late for me... and I'm in the Central Time Zone. How can Biden do it at his age?

Sunrise — 6:27.


"A thrill, almost like a fad. When you don’t have activities in their communities, everything’s shut down, young people are going to find a way to entertain themselves. It’s recreation, that’s what it is."

Said Warees Majeed, a founder of a group that works with troubled youth in Washington, quoted in "‘I Honestly Believe It’s a Game’: Why Carjacking Is on the Rise Among Teens/The crime has made a resurgence across the country over the past two years, and many of those arrested are startlingly young" (NYT). 

The top-rated comment over there is: "Well, the youth are certainly in crisis. But the idea that the pandemic is driving little children to callous, murderous acts is absurd on its face. As the article itself points out, pandemic restrictions were dropped in most places a long time ago and carjackings persist. I will never in my life shake the sickness in my belly I felt after watching the video of the DC carjackers who killed the Uber driver. After stealing his car and killing him, one of the teen girls wails that she left her cell phone in his car and she needs to go back and get it. No reaction to what she had done or to the lifeless body of the man she had just killed lying in the street. She just wanted her cell phone back. Something is seriously broken in parts of our American culture and we need to have an honest discussion about what it is."

"There’s been a shift in the consciousness of people 70 and over... They’re like, ‘Oh my God, nobody wants my stuff. I don’t even want my stuff.'"

Said Ann Lightfoot, founder of a home-organizing company, quoted in "How to Discover the Life-Affirming Comforts of ‘Death Cleaning’/Professional home organizers are seeing a spike in calls from older clients who want to cut through the clutter and make their lives more livable" (NYT).

"Zukovskis’s faith, known as Dievturiba, was pieced together from ancient rituals, songs and symbols and is now seeking official recognition from [Latvia]."

"Inside the shrine, Zukovskis, 61, begins with a ritual of gratitude. 'We can feel safe because of support from Britain, the United States,' he says, before listing several other nations. 'Regardless of what Mordor [Russia] does, Ukraine is safeguarded. We’re on their side, and they’re on ours.'... The rebirth of the Baltic countries’ pre-Christian faiths has been intimately bound up with geopolitics ever since they were reconstructed by Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians under Russian rule before the First World War. After the region was recaptured by the USSR in 1944, neopaganism was banned.... [This] faith is the product of decades of efforts to reconstruct the nature-rooted spirituality that prevailed in the Baltic before the Teutonic knights swept in and imposed Christianity at swordpoint. 'The main gods that we respect are basically connected to what is earth, what is fire; the most basic things for living that we cherish,' says Laimutis Vasilevicius, 68, a Romuva priest in Panevezys. So, for example, the shiver you might feel when something significant happens is identified as the work of Perkunas, the thunder deity."

From "The rituals of Paganism are making a comeback deep in the Baltic states/Today the old religions — or a modern approximation — are being revived after being suppressed by missionaries and then the USSR" (London Times).

I was interested in that stray "Mordor [Russia]." Googling, I found this BBC article from January 2016:

Google has fixed a bug in an online tool after it began translating "Russian Federation" to "Mordor". Mordor is the name of a fictional region nicknamed "Land of Shadow" in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books. In addition, "Russians" was translated to "occupiers" and the surname of Sergey Lavrov, the country's Foreign Minister, to "sad little horse". The errors had been introduced to Google Translate's Ukrainian to Russian service automatically, Google said.

Google claimed that these translations were not introduced by human manipulation but somehow happened through its automatic process of looking for "patterns in hundreds of millions of documents"! Ha ha. Alternatively, maybe Perkunas did it.

"I biked to the airport. Here’s what it was like/For an hour and a $3.85 bike-share, I assuaged a little climate guilt before a recent flight out of D.C."

 A headline at The Washington Post. I started read it out loud before seeing the second half, so when I finished, I laughed out loud. I laughed because: Don't take the plane!! 

The writer, Natalie B. Compton, knows this:

After the pandemic started and planes were grounded, I was wracked with guilt over my old frequent-flier lifestyle. Now travel is back, and I’m still feeling bad about flying.

Still? Why would you expect it to go away? Because you were deprived and you feel you deserve a treat now? 

To be fair, she openly admits it:

"In the name of a level playing field, this is evangelicals finding their way back into the business of converting Native Peoples to the faith of their bronze age deity."

That's the top-rated comment on the Washington Post article, "Supreme Court to review Indian Child Welfare Act, which prioritizes adoptions by Native American parents or tribes."

"'I’ll never have to work again,' Sivert remembers thinking to himself. He quickly started fantasizing about one day using the funds to purchase a car."

"'I thought it was super cool. I had no concept of what $1,800 gets you.' His mother could sense his financial naivete: 'I think he thought it was going to set him up for life,' Lorna said.... And, as he got older and wiser, $1,800 started to seem like a smaller and smaller amount. While working at a local Dairy Queen, 'my first paycheck was just under that [amount], and I was like "Oh,"' Sivert said with a laugh...."

From "His mother offered him $1,800 to stay off social media for six years. He just cashed the check" (WaPo).

What did the boy learn? Check the most important lesson. free polls

"Matthew Lawrence Perna died on Feb. 25, 2022, of a broken heart. His community (which he loved), his country, and the justice system killed his spirit and his zest for life...."

"Matt loved to travel and lived in Thailand and South Korea during his life, teaching English to school children.... He went on a mission trip to Haiti, and also took many trips with his parents and brother Steve. Matt enjoyed conversing with all walks of life, especially the elderly. It was not unusual for him to strike up conversations with complete strangers, always eager to learn from others. Matt enjoyed running long distance races and held medals from several states....Matt loved animals, especially dogs. But when a sickly kitten made her way onto Matt's porch, he nurtured and cared for her and named her Hinoki.... He attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, to peacefully stand up for his beliefs. After learning that the FBI was looking for him, he immediately turned himself in. He entered the Capitol through a previously opened door (he did not break in as was reported). He didn't break, touch, or steal anything. He did not harm anyone, as he stayed within the velvet ropes taking pictures. For this act he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives, and people who had never met him. Many people were quietly supportive, and Matt was truly grateful for them. The constant delays in hearings, and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt's heart broke and his spirit died. Matt did not have a hateful bone in his body. He embraced people of all races, income brackets, and beliefs, never once berating anyone for having different views."

From the obituary from Matthew Lawrence Perna in the Sharon, Pennsylvania Herald. He was 37.

"Last weekend, I cannot decide should I buy games to play on my PlayStation. Today, I have to decide should I have to fight Russian army to my death. It's a pretty drastic change."

From "In Ukraine, the Men Who Must Stay and Fight/As hundreds of thousands of citizens flee the Russian advance, the country’s government has ordered men ages 18 to 60 to remain" on today's episode of the NYT podcast "The Daily."

The quote above is from Eugene, an I.T. worker in Kharkiv, who had a decided to stay. Also interviewed: "Tigran, an animator who attempted to cross the border into Poland; and Andrew, who signed up for the territorial defense force two weeks ago."

February 28, 2022

Sunrise — 6:45 and 7:02.


I like the way the ice is crinkling up.

And somehow there's a large X in the sky:


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

"Blogging appealed to me because it gave me an opportunity to address the ruptures and dislocations in the society around me...."

"The blog broadened my outlook enormously, for when I responded to one reader, another person whom I didn’t know and would never meet could read what we had written and share their own perspective. Direct, sincere communication with others was no longer a fantasy—and it felt just as real as a declaration of love. I relished the endless possibilities of assuming multiple, separate online existences, and the fragmented, inconsequential, fleeting moments of emotion and engagement it gave me. Every character that I tapped on my keyboard was emblematic of a new kind of freedom. By enabling alternative voices, the internet weakened the power of autocracy, dispelling the obstacles it tried to put in the individual’s way. Freedom, of course, inspires expression, and soon my readers understood me even better than my family did. On the internet, social coercion is nullified and the individual acquires a kind of weightlessness, no longer subordinate to the power structure.... ... I was like a jellyfish, and the internet had become my ocean. I began to see life no longer as an activity taking me in a single direction, but rather as a succession of countless instants and junctures.... Every instant could be presented as a complete world in itself, unpredictable and unrepeatable, dispelling classic meanings and goals. This was empowering rather than destabilizing, and, under a tyranny intent on cheating us out of history and memory, here was a new way of telling our stories."

From "1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows" by Ai Weiwei.

"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky... said, 'No one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people.' He said that the border talks had been 'synchronized' with the 'brutal' attack on Kharkiv."

"After the two sides departed, Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation, said that they had found 'certain points where we forecast common ground' and that they expected to meet again in the coming days after consulting with their respective presidents.... Ukraine’s goal was an immediate cease-fire and Russian withdrawal. Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that Ukraine accept the loss of the eastern Donbas region, which he recognized as two independent republics a week ago. Putin has also insisted that Ukraine end its quest to join NATO, remove all its weapons and recognize Crimea, annexed in 2014, as part of Russia."

From "Russian bombardment of Ukraine’s second city intensifies as talks fail to yield breakthrough" (WaPo).

"This is a pattern in Barr’s book: He nitpicks his way to desired conclusions by carefully navigating a lawyerly path around finely drawn distinctions, all the while lobbing bomblets at anyone he defines as an enemy."

"'For all his urbane affect, Obama was still the left-wing agitator who had patiently steered the Democratic Party toward an illiberal, identity-obsessed progressivism,' Barr writes; no doubt actual 'left-wing agitators,' who have regularly denounced Obama for centrism, would like to have a word. Barr’s version of Trump, meanwhile, contains multitudes: The former president may have 'an imprecise and discursive speaking style,' even a tendency for 'madcap rhetoric,' but Barr also believes Trump has 'a deep intuitive appreciation of the importance of religion to the health of our nation.'

"After a meeting with the Swiss Federal Council, Switzerland’s president, Ignazio Cassis, said that the country would immediately freeze the assets of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail V. Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov..."

"... as well as all 367 individuals sanctioned last week by the European Union.  Switzerland said it was departing from its usual policy of neutrality because of 'the unprecedented military attack by Russia on a sovereign European state,' but expressed a willingness to help mediate in the conflict."

From "Switzerland says it will freeze Russian assets, setting aside a tradition of neutrality" (NYT).

Sunrise — 6:31.



"Bigmanism in Africa renders time subservient to the big man and deploys it in constant service to him. In other words, whenever the big man comes to an event is when the event begins."

"The big man arrives late to catch trains... flights and comes late to events, believing that his bigmanism will come to his aid."

Wrote the columnist Festus Adebayo, quoted in "Nigerian emir’s attempt to delay plane causes row over ‘big man’ attitudes" (London Times). 

Aminu Ado Bayero, the emir of Kano sought, unsuccessfully, to get Air Peace to delay his connecting flight after his late arrival at the airport. The late arrival was the fault of Air Peace, which has a lot of delays, but airlines don't wait for ordinary people to make their tight connection.

The London Times offers this photograph of the emir:

"Many young people have an unfortunate perspective derived from coming of age amid national humiliations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"In school, they’ve learned more about the United States’ shortcomings than about her triumphs and the nation’s indispensability as a global force for good. The crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed that blind spot.... The Cold War generation better understands the stakes.... It’s prudent to be cautious about drawing World War II analogies, but it’s proper to recount the carnage that followed America’s turning inward during the 1930s...."

From "Why Biden should deliver a European history lesson during the State of the Union" by James Hohmann (WaPo). 

How old is Hohmann? I wondered. It wasn't easy to Google, but I think he graduated from college in 2009, which might make him about 35. It's safe to say he's a millennial. 

I went looking for his age when I read "The Cold War generation better understands the stakes." Usually, we're called Baby Boomers, and our understanding of "the stakes" was powerfully shaped by Vietnam, and that took place under the compulsion of the military draft.

You'd better take that into account when you say we're different from these kids today who grew up under "the national humiliations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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

"'Honestly, these admissions of shock that this is happening in a European country are ahistorical and also serve to justify the lack of sympathy for other invasions, other occupations and other refugee crisis involving peoples not considered white.... To be clear: We should care about Ukraine. But not because it is European, or the people appear white, or they are 'civilized' and not 'impoverished.' All people deserve to be free and to be welcomed when their countries are at war.... Europe is not a continent by definition... [It's a] geopolitical fiction to separate it from Asia. So the alarm about a European, or civilized, or First World nation being invaded is a dog whistle to tell us we should care because they are like us."

Said Nikole Hannah-Jones, quoted in "1619 founder Nikole Hannah-Jones blasts media for 'insidious racism' and claims they only care about 'Europeans with blond hair and blue eyes' after heavy coverage of Ukraine compared to other conflicts" (Daily Mail).

"In 1945, not long after learning his parents had been murdered in Nazi death camps, Emil [Bronner] landed in a Chicago mental asylum, forcibly committed by his sister..."

"... where he was administered electric shock therapy, according to his family. After making an audacious escape, he hitchhiked to California, where he began his lifelong, peripatetic crusade to heal mankind. Bronner would hand out bottles of his product after delivering his idiosyncratic public lectures about humanity’s need to save 'Spaceship Earth,' but he soon realized most people were more interested in his free soap than his spiritual ideology. His remedy? He began printing those philosophic ramblings on the labels, which also explained the 18-in-1 uses for his concentrated liquid Castile soap. (Teeth cleaning! Dishwashing! Dog shampoo!) Though a suggested birth-control use has since been discarded, the Bronners have left much of the label’s 3,000-word verbiage untouched, a decision that reflects the family’s deep reverence for a man whose zany presence is inescapable more than two decades after his death at age 89. The patriarch’s writings and his image are scattered throughout the company’s headquarters in Vista, Calif., about 40 miles north of San Diego. A frighteningly large blowup of his grinning face greets visitors in the lobby. Nearby a papier-mâché figure wearing a leopard-print Speedo is a goofy homage to his predilection for conducting business in skimpy swimming trunks. (Fun fact: For decades, the phone number printed on soap bottles rang through to a collection of red rotary phones that Emil Bronner answered at all hours from his living room recliner.)"

"Dr. Bronner’s, the Soap Company, Dips Into Psychedelics/Under the leadership of the founder’s grandsons, the company has become a big financial backer of efforts to loosen government restrictions on illegal drugs" (NYT). 

Emil Bronner "didn’t do drugs, and he was distrustful of Western medicine, refusing to see a doctor even as he began losing his eyesight in his 60s." But the grandsons are donating millions of the company's money to the drug cause. David Bronner, a grandson executive, extols his own experience with LSD and Ecstasy: "I died five times but it got me out of my dark hole and set me on my path." The founder Emil." And he contends that Emil would approve of their promotion of drugs: "Our grandpa was all about shifting consciousness and opening hearts and minds... He probably would have put LSD in his soaps."

As an ex-law professor, I know all about the manipulation of the intent of the founders.

February 27, 2022

Here’s a place…

 … where you can write about whatever you want.

Who thinks it's a good idea to taunt Putin over his short stature? I'm starting a list of these height supremacists.

1. Mitt Romney: "We're seeing a small, feral-eyed man who was trying to shape the world in the image where, once again, Russia would be an empire, and that's not going to happen."

2. Maureen Dowd: "As for Putin’s Napoleonic megalomania, perhaps the Russia expert Nina Khrushcheva summed him up best in a Vanity Fair podcast: 'He’s a small man of five-six saying he’s five-seven.'"


"Peat’s power is how efficiently it stores carbon. Bogs, muddy swamps and other peatlands make up just 3 percent of Earth’s surface..."

"... but store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests. Lokolama’s swamps, it turned out, are part of the biggest network of tropical peatlands in the world, covering over 55,000 square miles of Central Africa and storing more than 30 billion tons of carbon. This vast peatland is relatively undisturbed, for now. But should that carbon vault be opened, it could have catastrophic consequences for the planet. In those peatlands are stored the carbon equivalent of 20 years of U.S. fossil fuel emissions. Roads could be built giving loggers better access to the forest. Politicians could decide to convert peatland into farms. In these scenarios, the peat would dry out and release carbon into the atmosphere and, the researchers warned, become not only endangered but dangerous.... Outsiders have long exploited Congo’s wealth of natural resources — rubber, diamonds, gold and, most recently, cobalt. While these new outsiders said peat had value only if it remained in the ground, to the people in this region, known as the Cuvette Centrale, the sudden interest suggested someone would be making money...."

From "What Do the Protectors of Congo's Peatlands Get in Return?" (NYT).

"The family brand was built in Texas, where Yankee patrician George H.W. Bush moved from the East Coast to West Texas as a young man, made his money in the oil patch and..."

"... then was elected to Congress from Houston in the late 1960s. But for the past decade or so, the Bush brand has been in decline. A defeat for George P. Bush in the attorney general’s race would put an exclamation point on that erosion."

From "George P. Bush charts a Trumpian path as he tries to extend the family dynasty in Texas/The family brand has taken a hit in conservative Texas. As he seeks the nomination for attorney general, Bush says he runs ‘as my own man’" (WaPo).

"While you’re still in bed and lying on your back, start by doing a full-body stretch, like a cat or dog does when they first wake up, by extending your legs and arms wide and in opposite directions."

"Then, try pointing and flexing your toes, or stretching just your arms and torso, mimicking the cliché 'just woke up' stretch. To bring fluid back into your joints, try gently bending and unbending your knees and elbows, rolling your wrists and ankles or gently nodding your head from side to side."

From "Why Does My Body Feel Tight When I Wake Up?/And what can I do to feel better?" (NYT).

I'm amused by the idea that the right way to stretch in bed is to do an imitation of the cliché in-bed stretch. Maybe getting to sleep at could be improved by doing that rubbing-your-eyes-with-your-fists things.

"President Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces to be on high alert as he condemned NATO’s 'aggressive statements' regarding his invasion of Ukraine...."

"The significant escalation of tensions came as Germany, Britain and other NATO countries said they were sending military aid to Ukraine and imposed hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, including the president himself. 'Western countries are taking not only unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, I mean here illegitimate sanctions that everyone knows about. But the top officials of leading NATO countries are also allowing aggressive statements against our country,' he said, in a statement reported by the Russian news agency, Tass. 'Therefore, I order the minister of defence and the chief of the general staff to transfer the deterrent forces of the Russian army to a special mode of combat duty.' According to Russia’s nuclear doctrine, which was updated in 2020, it can carry out first-strike attacks if it has 'reliable information' about the launch of ballistic missiles targeting its territory.... Speaking on Wednesday night, before the first dawn assaults by Russian airborne troops, tanks and cruise missiles, he warned that 'whoever tries to hinder us' would see consequences 'you have never seen in your history.'"

From "Putin puts nuclear deterrent forces on high alert" (London Times).

"Former Attorney General William Barr writes in a new book that former President Donald Trump has 'shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed'..."

"... and that it is time for Republicans to focus on rising new leaders in the party. The release of the former attorney general’s 600-page book, 'One Damn Thing After Another,' is coming as Mr. Trump, who remains the GOP’s dominant figure, contemplates another presidential run. Mr. Barr writes that he was convinced that Mr. Trump could have won re-election in 2020 if he had 'just exercised a modicum of self-restraint, moderating even a little of his pettiness.' 'The election was not "stolen,"' Mr. Barr writes. 'Trump lost it.' Mr. Barr urges conservatives to look to 'an impressive array of younger candidates' who share Mr. Trump’s agenda but not his 'erratic personal behavior.' He didn’t mention any of those candidates by name."

From "Ex-Attorney General William Barr Urges GOP to Move On From Trump/Book recounts confrontational meeting in Oval Office and says Republicans need to focus on new leaders" (Wall Street Journal).

A 600-page book called "One Damn Thing After Another"? It sounds like a caption for a New Yorker cartoon. But it's really perfect, isn't it? This isn't a book to be read — what political book is? — but a thing to wave around as the author/"author" appears on TV. Steel yourself for Barr appearances on shows advising Republics to pick someone less old and less divisive than Trump. Or just don't watch the shows. That's my approach.

"What has surprised me most about the history I have lived through is how often we get dragged on demented, destructive rides by leaders who put their personal psychodramas over the public’s well-being...."

"To prove that there were W.M.D.s in Iraq, Putin said, 'the U.S. secretary of state held up a vial with white powder, publicly, for the whole world to see, assuring the international community that it was a chemical warfare agent created in Iraq. It later turned out that all of that was a fake and a sham, and that Iraq did not have any chemical weapons.'  Hard to argue with that. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney let their own egos, gremlins and grandiose dreams occlude reality. W. wanted to outshine his father, who had decided against going into Baghdad when he fought Saddam. And Cheney wanted to kick around an Arab country after 9/11 to prove that America was a hyperpower. So they used trumped-up evidence, and Cheney taunted Colin Powell into making that fateful, bogus speech at the U.N., chockablock with Cheney chicanery. Though Donald Trump was Putin’s lap dog, upending traditional Republican antipathy toward Russia, Putin no doubt has contempt for the weak and malleable Trump. Putin could have been alluding to Trump in his speech Thursday when he accused the U.S. of 'con-artist behavior,' adding that America had become 'an empire of lies.' Certainly, Trump was the emperor of lies."

Writes Maureen Dowd, in "Rash Putin Razes Ukraine" (NYT).

"Prog — it was not invented when we started. We always try to be progressive in what we do. So we made our first album, and then we tried to move on, to progress."

Said Gary Brooker, quoted in "Gary Brooker, Singer for Procol Harum, Dies at 76/The pianist and singer composed the band’s music for five decades, including the hit 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'" (NYT)("'A Whiter Shade of Pale' drew on Johann Sebastian Bach’s 'Air on a G String' for its chord progression. Matthew Fisher’s organ opened with a stately melody, and Mr. Brooker sang a countermelody, somberly offering the surreal paradoxes of Mr. Reid’s lyrics").

If music be the food of love/Then laughter is its queen/And likewise if behind is in front/Then dirt in truth is clean/My mouth by then like cardboard/Seemed to slip straight through my head/So we crash-dived straightway quickly/And attacked the ocean bed....

"We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all. As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president."

"Under Bush, Russia invaded Georgia. Under Obama, Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine. I stand as the only president of the 21st century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country.... I have no doubt that President Putin made his decision to ruthlessly attack Ukraine only after watching the pathetic withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the military was taken out first, our soldiers were killed and American hostages, plus $85bn worth of the finest equipment anywhere in the world were left behind... The problem is not that Putin is smart – which of course, he’s smart – but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb. They’ve so far allowed him to get away with this travesty and an assault on humanity.... So sad. Putin is playing Biden like a drum and it’s not a pretty thing as somebody that loves our country to watch.... No president was ever as tough on Russia as I was. But with respect to what’s going on now, it would have been so easy for me to stop this travesty from happening."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Donald Trump defends calling Putin ‘smart’, hints at 2024 presidential bid/Ex-president tells CPAC he could have stopped ‘appalling’ Russian invasion of Ukraine before giving strongest indication he will run again" (The Guardian).

"Putin’s aggression in Ukraine has already quieted conversations in America about voting rights, filibuster reform, and Build Back Better – at least for now."

"Large-scale war, if it ever comes to that, deadens reform. The first world war brought the progressive era to a halt. The second ended FDR’s New Deal. Vietnam stopped Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Wars and the threat of wars also legitimate huge military expenditures and giant military bureaucracies. America is already spending $776bn a year on the military, a sum greater than the next 10 giant military powers (including Russia and China) together. Wars also create fat profits for big corporations in war industries. The possibility of war also distracts the public from failures of domestic politics, as the Spanish-American war did for President William McKinley and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did for George W Bush. (Hopefully, Biden’s advisers aren’t thinking this way.)"

From "Eight sobering realities about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine" by Robert Reich (The Guardian).