Friday: Hili dialogue

March 25, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows that we’re pretty much through the Drake Passage and are approaching Cape Horn. We’ll now turn left and head up the coast of Chile to Valparaiso:

A weak sunrise from my balcony at 7:30 a.m. (breakfast is half an hour later on a day with no landings). Now the sun is gone again:

We won’t be able to land at Cape Horn because the weather is a bit dire, with high winds, but that’s okay—I’ve been there before and can say I’ve stood on what many see is the southernmost bit of South America (see here for my 2019 post on the site; I note sadly that comments were more numerous then).

The best part of the site is the famous albatross monument made by Chilean sculptor José Balcells and installed in 1993. The albatross is seen in the space between two offset metal plates. It’s beautiful and very clever.

My photo from 2019

It was another rough passage but the seas have abated a bit. I don’t have to lecture today but will do so tomorrow.

If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for March 25 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.

*Here’s today’s headline from The New York Times (click on screenshot to read):

And the NYT news summary:

After meeting with NATO allies and announcing a deal to help secure more liquefied natural gas for the European Union to reduce its dependency on Russian fossil fuels, President Biden is traveling to the Polish border with Ukraine on Friday to highlight the growing humanitarian catastrophe caused by the war and to underscore the moment of peril for Europe as it confronts Russian aggression.

Even as Mr. Biden continues to rally European allies to keep up the pressure on Russia, Ukrainian forces have launched several counteroffensives that appear to have changed the dynamic of the war. But Western leaders worry that as Russian forces are stymied on the battlefield, President Vladimir V. Putin may turn to unconventional weapons.

In a new sanction, Finland has stopped its last trains to Russia (a line from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, so that there is no longer any direct train service from Russia to Europe.  The war is “grinding on”, as the paper says, with Russians continuing to wreak havoc on Ukraine’s infrastrcture but not gaining much territory. In an act of remarkable stupidity (or nastiness), the Russians are shelling areas near the Chrenobyl nuclear power plant, now in Russian hands. Another nuclear disaster, with the release of radiation, is possible.  And the NYT has an absorbing gallery of photos of the last five weeks of conflict in Ukraine (has it really been that long?)

*Supreme Court Justice Clarence “I Never Speak” Thomas et famille have turned up in the news. First, his wife, Virginia, is known from a series of 29 saved messages to have been pretty deeply involved in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. As the Washington Post reports, Thomas

repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

She’s as much of a loon as her husband! I suppose this means that, according to judicial protocol, Thomas would have to recuse himself from adjudicating any Supreme Court cases involving the January 6 insurrection, as judges aren’t supposed to deal with cases that involve their spouses.

*As for Thomas himself, the 73-year-old Justice was hospitalized last Friday for an unspecified “infection”.  All we know is that he experienced “flu-like symptoms,” is said to be responding to antibiotics, and is expected to be released very soon. There has been no comment from the Supreme Court itself.

*Remember the “superyacht” Scheherazade, thought to be owned by Putin or bankrolled by his buddies for his use? It’s been cooling its heels in an Italian port while authorities investigate its ownership—possibly before confiscating it. According to the NYT, all the Russian crew members have suddenly quit their jobs.

The crew members had been fixtures in the small port of Marina di Carrara since the fall of 2020, when the 459-foot-long yacht, Scheherazade, arrived at a dry dock less than four months after being built. No owner has been publicly identified.

“They were replaced by a British crew,” said Paolo Gozzani, the local leader of Italy’s General Confederation of Labor trade union, on Wednesday. “I don’t know and don’t care whether the yacht is indeed Putin’s or not, but I worry about the repercussions on shipyard workers if police impound or confiscate the vessel.”

Workers at the shipyard and regular visitors to its private lounge confirmed that the Russians had routinely supervised the work done on the yacht and had drinks at the bar or played pool there in the evenings. The yacht, estimated by the website SuperYachtFan to cost about $700 million, has two helicopter decks, a swimming pool with a retractable cover that converts to a dance floor and a gym.

. . . This week, the research team of Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, published a video in which it argued, based on a 2020 crew manifest, that a dozen of the Russian crew members of the Scheherazade either worked for or had a connection with Russia’s Federal Protective Service. The team drew the conclusion that the yacht must belong to Mr. Putin or some of his closest aides.

The ownership of the yacht is obscured by being filtered through shell companies, but here’s a picture of what is likely to be Vlad’s Big Toy:

*Reader Ken sent me a WaPo article by Jennifer Rubin called “Biden is proving all the awful foreign policy takes wrong.” (He added that “I’ve come to be a regular reader of her columns, as they are usually spot-on, fact-based, and generally from the perspective of a ‘traditional’ liberal.”

I don’t recall the MSM bashing Biden nearly as hard as they bashed Trump, but Rubin says they pretty much did. Regardless, I agree with her defense of Biden’s foreign policy (except for the Afghanistan debacle):

Certainly, there were plenty of critics bashing Biden after his administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, but even then it was clear Biden’s foreign policy bore no resemblance to Trump’s. From the get-go, Biden elevated U.S. alliances, stressed democracy as a core value and ended the United States’ fawning over dictators. The United States under Biden rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accords and negotiated a breakthrough deal on nuclear submarines with Britain and Australia.

After the Afghanistan withdrawal, media coverage was full of prognostications that Biden had lost the confidence of allies and had eroded the United States’ international credibility. We know now that as these complaints were raised, behind the scenes Biden and his team were knitting together a historic, coordinated response to Russian aggression.

. . . There will be rocky times ahead, but Biden’s recent accomplishments should prompt more humility and circumspection among the media that are all-too-willing to paint him as a failure.

And yet she admits that “Media coverage finally seems to have caught up to reality,” so she’s kvetching about the past. Granted, I haven’t read the Right-wing media lately, but I’m sure they’re bashing Biden on all fronts, for that’s what they do.

*I have to preen a bit about my prescience here, as I predicted that the Taliban’s promises to allow women equal access to education in Afghanistan were lies. Now it seems that I was right, at least according to the Associated Press.  The relevant article is called “Many baffled by Taliban reneging pledge on girls’ education” and it notes this:

A news presenter on Afghanistan’s TOLO TV wept as he read the announcement. Images of girls crying after being turned back from school flooded social media. Aid groups and many others remained baffled.

The Taliban have so far refused to explain their sudden decision to renege on the pledge to allow girls to go to school beyond sixth grade. Schools were supposed to reopen to older girls on Wednesday, the start of the new school year.

The ban caught even the Taliban-appointed Education Ministry unprepared. In many places across Afghanistan, some girls in higher grades returned to schools, only to be told to go home.

But crikey, why should anyone be baffled? Limiting women’s opportunities is part of their religion; and that’s exactly what they did when they had the country before. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that their “pledges” to the world after they gained control were mere window-dressing to make nice and get aid. They should remain pariahs to the world.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka’s got the heebie jeebies, but she’s right. All three cats are there!

Hili: I have a feeling that somebody is walking behind me.
Kulka: You are imagining things.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że ktoś za mną chodzi.
Kulka: Zdaje ci się.

Below is a sweet picture: the Ukrainian guest/refugee, 8-year-old Karolina, cuddling little Kulka in Dobrzyn. It’s an Andrzej monologue.

Andrzej:  Putin, war, our village is quiet, so I’m talking with a little girl in her third language using sentences from a primer.

[JAC: The language is Polish, which Andrzej is teaching Karolina.]

In Polish: In Polish: Putin, wojna, nasza wieś spokojna, więc z małą dziewczynką rozmawiam w jej trzecim języku zdaniami z elementarza.
And some news about Karolina and her mother Natasza, both in Dobrzyn:

They got a TV today. It was a collective effort of a few inhabitants of Dobrzyn. One family donated a used TV, another an antenna, and a mechanic installed all that. When I wanted to pay the mechanic, he was almost annoyed. “You must be joking!” he said to me. Unfortunately, still no news from Natasza’s husband.

When I asked Malgorzata if they could pick up Ukrainian channels in Dobrzyn, she responded: “Yes, they can get Ukrainian channels and now Polish TV is broadcasting Ukrainian programs both for adults and stories for children.”  Isn’t that lovely! But don’t forget that despite the hospitality of the Polish people, their government remains a regressive, right-wing organization.

Below: a comparison that’s a bit over the top, but still funny. From Jesus of the Day:

From Anna:

From Phil:

A journalist in Ukraine reports some words she heard:

Two from reader Barry. First, “how to pet a porcupine”. WITH the grain!

And “a sneaky fish indeed!” Some flounders can actually change their body pigment (like some squid) to match the surface on which they’re resting.

Tweets from Matthew. This first one is funny, but not exactly in the best of taste for an obituary:


This species is in a genus of terrestrial flatworm:

A giant deep-water sea cucumber from the deep-sea rover Nautilus (they have a livestream at the link). Be sure to watch to the end.

Live and Learn Department: Loris have brushlike tongues! Three tweets, one with a video:

45 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’m so happy to see the beautiful little Karolina cuddling with one of the cats. It can’t possibly make up for any of the troubles, but it can be very soothing and calming to be with a soft, purring cat. I hope that her father is safe, and that people around them continue to be kind to them. Imagine what a wicked person you’d have to be to put that sweet little girl and her family in turmoil.

  2. On this day:
    1584 – Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a patent to colonize Virginia.

    1655 – Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.

    1807 – The Swansea and Mumbles Railway, then known as the Oystermouth Railway, becomes the first passenger-carrying railway in the world.

    1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.

    1919 – The Tetiev pogrom in Ukraine, which become the prototype of mass murder during the Holocaust

    1931 – The Scottsboro Boys are arrested in Alabama and charged with rape.

    1948 – The first successful tornado forecast predicts that a tornado will strike Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

    1949 – More than 92,000 kulaks are suddenly deported from the Baltic states to Siberia.

    1965 – Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King Jr. successfully complete their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

    2006 – Protesters demanding a new election in Belarus, following the rigged 2006 Belarusian presidential election, clash with riot police. Opposition leader Aleksander Kozulin is among several protesters arrested.

    1867 – Gutzon Borglum, American sculptor, designed Mount Rushmore (d. 1941)

    1867 – Arturo Toscanini, Italian-American cellist and conductor (d. 1957)

    1881 – Béla Bartók, Hungarian pianist and composer (d. 1945)

    1904 – Pete Johnson, American boogie-woogie and jazz pianist (d. 1967)

    1920 – Paul Scott, English author, poet, and playwright (d. 1978)

    1920 – Patrick Troughton, English actor (d. 1987)

    1934 – Gloria Steinem, American feminist activist, co-founded the Women’s Media Center

    1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2018)

    1947 – Elton John, English singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor

    1966 – Jeff Healey, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2008)

    1976 – Wladimir Klitschko, Ukrainian boxer – currently defending Kyiv with his brother, the city’s mayor. They never met in the ring, having promised their mother that they wouldn’t fight each other.

    Those who did the obituary mambo: *
    1736 – Nicholas Hawksmoor, English architect, designed Easton Neston and Christ Church (b. 1661)

    1818 – Caspar Wessel, Norwegian-Danish mathematician and cartographer (b. 1745)

    1918 – Claude Debussy, French composer (b. 1862)

    1931 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (b. 1862)

    2002 – Kenneth Wolstenholme, English journalist and sportscaster (b. 1920) – … It is now…!

    2019 – Scott Walker, American-born British singer-songwriter (b. 1943)

    *Thanks, Larry!

    1. Among those born was David Lean (1908), the British film director. His films include Great Expectations , Oliver Twist, Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Passage to India.

  3. For all of you here who cry about how we got out of Afghanistan, please explain how you would have done it. Explain any other examples of getting out of a long lost war is every any different. How about Vietnam? How about Iraq? Look how we got out of Syria with Trump. And what were you saying when we got into Afghanistan? Was that Bush genius? The mistakes Bush and company made after 9/11 is why we are in the pathetic mess we are today. If you watched any of those crackers in the judicial hearings the last few days tell us how that fits in.

    1. 1) Get all America citizens and Green Card holders and dependents out
      2) Remove or destroy all military supply and vehicles stockpiles
      3) Withdraw American troops

      Withdrawing troops, abandoning civilians and weapons, is just imbecility. An vacationer knows to put the kids and the luggage in the care before you drive off. Failure in the past does not excuse failure in the present, if anything it should provide a negative example of what not to do. We abandoned a position of strength in Afghanistan, and the schedule was ours to set.

      1. Regarding #1: According to what I read, the administration gave Americans 3 months advance warning about the withdrawal and told them to get out. Those that did not get out, that waited until the actual withdrawal, leaving in a panic, hold responsibility for putting our armed forces and themselves in preventable danger. Why did they wait 3 months and contribute to chaos?

    2. Frankly, Randy, since I’m the only one “crying about how we got out of Afghanistan”, I take this a a snide comment on what I said. I can answer you (one response is to kept US troops there longer during the evacuation of civilians, and you can Google “how we screwed up Afghanistan”, but I’m no longer willing to tolerate your impolite snipes). You could have been much more polite about this criticism but that apparently is not your character. This is a Roolz. violation that you’ve tried to disguise by not going after me directly but lumping me with “all of those who cry about how we got out of Afghanistan.”

      You really should work on your civility, but do it on your own time, not on this site.

    3. >..mistakes Bush and company made after 9/11 is why we are in the pathetic mess we are today.

      As I recall, didn’t the FBI warn Bush about the impending attack, (pilots who only wanted to learn to fly— but not land planes?) And that Bush dismissed them with something similar to ‘You’ve covered your ass.’

      1. Much has been written about warnings on 9/11. A snippet out of context is not helpful. But to set the record here straight:
        Ref: A Review of the FBI’s Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the September 11 Attacks, Chapter Four The FBI’s Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui

        Footnote 94:
        “Media reports later incorrectly reported that Moussaoui had stated that he did not want to learn to take off or land a plane. In fact, according to the FBI, the Pan Am manager [at the flight school] reported that Moussaoui only wanted to learn to take off and land the plane.” [emphasis mine. Is this where the “fly but not land” canard came from? Or are there other sources about other 9/11 conspirators where it might be true? Was such a warning given to Bush? How would we know what his reaction to a confidential intelligence briefing was? –LM]

        Re two other would-be pilots, from National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States

        “Hazmi and Mihdhar came to the United States to learn English, take flying lessons, and become pilots as quickly as possible. They turned out, however, to have no aptitude for English. Even with help and tutoring from Mohdar Abdullah and other bilingual friends, Hazmi and Mihdhar’s efforts to learn proved futile. This lack of language skills in turn became an insurmountable barrier to learning how to fly.36

        “A pilot they consulted at one school, the Sorbi Flying Club in San Diego, spoke Arabic. He explained to them that their flight instruction would begin with small planes. Hazmi and Mihdhar emphasized their interest in learning to fly jets, Boeing aircraft in particular, and asked where they might enroll to train on jets right away. Convinced that the two were either joking or dreaming, the pilot responded that no such school existed. Other instructors who worked with Hazmi and Mihdhar remember them as poor students who focused on learning to control the aircraft in flight but took no interest in takeoffs or landings [emphasis mine –LM]. By the end of May 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar had given up on learning how to fly.37″

    4. You start with evacuating the noncombatants and nonessential personnel, coordinating with your allies.
      Destroy or remove the crypto, and the databases on Afghan allies.
      Never leave stockpiles of advanced weaponry behind. Even the Brits at Dunkirk destroyed their vehicles and kit, and they had no control of the timetable.
      At the end, there is going to be some stress from the bad guys. So the last place you evacuate should be an easily defended position. Like Baghram Air Base.

      Botching the withdrawal from Afghanistan cannot be excused by bringing up past failures. If anything, those should have been learning experiences.

      I agree we should not have been there trying to make them into a western democracy. But given that we were there, we were not then left with the binary options of either staying there forever, or just fleeing in disarray.

    5. THANK YOU RANDY! I think that EVERY time people criticize Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. And folks REALLY seem to forget which party starts these damn wars.

  4. I note your lament that there were more comments on your posts in 2019. For my part, I don’t comment on every post, but I do read every post with interest. So, your efforts are having an impact, even if you don’t always know about it.

    Thank you for your dispatches from Antarctica and surrounds. The pictures are awesome and they inspire my imagination. It’s also fun to see what you’re eating. You do seem to have a taking a liking to lamb sausages (which I have never had and would like to try).

  5. I am not sure which Biden Rubin is watching. The fiasco with Polish jets for Ukraine hardly seems the result of coordination and agreement among Allies. Maybe it was Biden’s revelation this week that sanctions don’t deter, which is the opposite of what he’s been saying for the last month. Or maybe it was Biden’s quip “I came to congratulate a man who just got re-elected without opposition. I dream of that some day.” If Trump has said that, jokingly as Biden we’ll assume was, it would be the headline on every mainstream media outlet, and the Dems would already be drawing up Articles of Impeachment. Of course, Biden could have been laying out the Dem strategy for 2024.

    1. “The fiasco with Polish jets for Ukraine hardly seems the result of coordination and agreement among Allies.”

      Perhaps the Poles forgot to first check with The (Indispensable) Boss.

    2. “Or maybe it was Biden’s quip “I came to congratulate a man who just got re-elected without opposition. I dream of that some day.” If Trump has said that, jokingly as Biden we’ll assume was, ”

      But Trump would not have been joking. So THAT is quite a difference. Context, Dr., context.

  6. In my opinion, that article on the criticism Biden has received regarding foreign policy is rather absurd. Biden was rightly pilloried for his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, and it did make the US look weak and incompetent, to say nothing of the terrible consequences for the citizens of Kabul and all of the people who had helped the US and are now dead or imprisoned. Not a single life should have been lost, least of all those of US soldiers. It was an absolute debacle, and if Russia had not invaded Ukraine, it would still be Biden’s most significant foreign policy action to date. In fact, it may well have emboldened Putin, but we’ll never know if that’s the case.

    Biden (or, more likely, his team, though that’s a compliment; smart people and the best leaders surround themselves with people who know more than they do) has certainly handled the Russia-Ukraine situation extremely well, though I don’t think he somehow was the one to unite Europe against Russia in the early stages of the current crisis. The immediate unification of Europe seemed to be organic and a visceral response based, at least in significant part, on the memories of WWII and The Cold War. But Biden’s administration has done a fantastic job of supporting European, NATO, and Ukrainian efforts, consistently finding unique ways to come right up to the “red line” in supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia, and in assisting the now united European nations in further isolating Russia and remaining shoulder to shoulder.

    Still, I can’t help but see an article claiming that the previous criticism of Biden’s foreign policy was somehow unwarranted. If anything, there wasn’t enough criticism before a few weeks ago. The MSM has either ignored or fawned over his Iranian “we give you money and you just pretend you won’t build nukes” deal. That’s another one of the worst foreign policy blunders in recent memory, and just completely dismissed in the article above. This new “deal” requires even less of Iran than the one entered into by the Obama administration, and that giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran based on BS “inspections.” It’s basically giving Iran hundreds of millions of dollars to continue to fund terrorists, the destruction of Israel, and nuclear capabilities, in return for being able to say that the administration struck a deal to keep them from getting nukes. At its core, it’s funding for terrorism, torture, and murder, given to a brutal authoritarian theocracy, in exchange for little more than good optics for the administration.

    If it wasn’t for the current crisis, Biden’s foreign policy record would be very, very poor. But we do have the current crisis, and since it’s by far the most important thing happening and perhaps the most important since around 1990, that should be the main focus of assessing his foreign policy’s success.

  7. At the Atlantic site, Eliot Ackerman, a Marine Corps veteran who fought in Iraq, discusses the changing tactics of modern warfare. Drawing on a conversation he recently had with another Marine Corps veteran that has volunteered to fight with the Ukrainians, he notes that the battlefield advantage often goes to the defensive. Anti-tank weaponry has improved significantly in the past decade making mainline battle tanks (such as the Russian T-90) particularly vulnerable. Ackerman notes that U.S. tanks in Iraq withstood attacks. This would not be the case today. The Ukrainians have realized this with great success. This, in combination with poor Russian tactics and high Ukrainian morale, has resulted in the invaders being fought to a standstill. He also comments that large capital ships, such as U.S. aircraft carriers, are vulnerable to attack by relatively low cost weaponry. This is particularly concerning since it seems that the U.S. naval strategy is based on the role of huge and extraordinary expensive aircraft carriers.

  8. As DrBrydon said, it really wasn’t difficult, and yet the Biden administration somehow made it difficult.

    Let’s see what else we could add to DrBrydon’s easy three point list:

    Not giving the Taliban advance warning that we were pulling out
    Not pulling out over the course of an entire month in an absurdly chaotic manner
    Not leaving people who helped us to be imprisoned, tortured, and killed
    Keeping ground forces in place to properly protect the withdrawal infrastructure
    Keeping forces in place to control the airport instead of leaving it to fall into absolute chaos

    Your comparisons to wars like Vietnam and Iraq are entirely irrelevant. I think you know that Afghanistan, and withdrawing forces from a single city of which our army had complete control at the time, is nothing like very slowly ramping down operations in Vietnam or Iraq.

    And your whataboutism regarding Bush does not somehow diminish Biden’s incompetent handling of the withdrawal. It’s just a distraction.

    1. Sorry, this was a reply to Randal’s post above. I don’t know how it ended up here, and there’s no edit button showing up. This website doesn’t function properly far too often!

  9. A nit to pick: Charlie the porky likes to get petTED! I’ve heard this “likes to be pet” among the yoof recently and it sets my teeth on edge.

  10. You make some good points regarding his handling of the current crisis. I think he’s doing a largely good job of coordinating with Europe and NATO, but there have been significant missteps as well (the cockamamie scheme to get jets to Ukraine being one, as you noted). On the whole, I think Biden is doing a pretty good job on this particular front, but certainly not beyond reproach.

  11. “I’ve come to be a regular reader of her [Jennifer Rubin’s] columns, as they are usually spot-on, fact-based, and generally from the perspective of a ‘traditional’ liberal.’”

    Rubin’s long been one of the house conservatives (along with George Will) at WaPo. She’s a never-Trumper (as is Will) and has drifted a bit Left since 2016. Still, I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a “traditional liberal”; if she seems that way now, it’s got more to do with the GOP cultists having lurched to the Right under Dear Leader.

    1. I think you are correct. When I used to subscribe to the Post, the commenters under her columns would predictably foam at the mouth that her “house conservativism” betrayed the bifurcated crusade to get President Trump impeached and Elizabeth Warren nominated.

  12. I’d live to know if the fabled “green flash” is visible in the areas of Antarctica – seems possible.

    1. My experience is that it is likely to be seen when the conditions are clear and calm, which is not the normal circumstance near the poles.
      It is not really “fabled”, in the sense of being imaginary. If you watch enough sunsets far out at sea, you will see many of them.

  13. Re the Nathalie Robin Justice tweet about the monkey hording the bananas. What if that monkey has a lot of bananas because he had discovered the trick, through effort, of growing bananas in quantity? This makes bananas cheaper for all monkeys, even poor lazy or disabled ones unwilling to climb trees. Previously, when bananas were a scarce foraged resource these monkeys really would starve unless their kin were willing to share their own meagre supply. Now at least they can obtain a few free bananas, just because the world is awash in bananas, thanks to the banana-grower’s self-interest in growing lots of them. Because of course he doesn’t actually horde them — hording something that you have no use for really is a mental illness. Rather he sells them and invests the proceeds in the economic growth that allows poor monkeys to have free bananas. In liberal capitalist societies no monkey starves — even the poorest of the poor eat too many bananas for their own health.

    Now, sure, the “starving” monkeys could gang up on the monkey on the cover of Forbes, kill him, steal his store of bananas, and fight over the booty. But then unless they knew how to grow bananas themselves, they would all starve when they ran out of bananas.

    No, I don’t follow Twitter.
    Yes, I will check my white male Euro-centric oppressor privilege at the door from now on.

    1. Aesop wrote about the Grasshopper and the Ants. From that perspective, hoarding was presented as an example of good planning.

      1. Not for perishables. But trade the banana surplus for wheat or salted cod or whatever….and hoard that, OK.

        My gosh I just realized from your comment that I misspelled “hoarding” even time I used it. Yikes. and Thanks.

  14. Regarding Rubin’s column accusing the media of piling on Biden: much of my news comes from reading NYT and Wa Po on my on- line subscriptions and this observation was true for these 2 outlets along with several others I read. The constant criticism of the Afghanistan withdrawal was exhaustive and, I felt, slanted. At times, it seemed like an organized effort to undermine Biden as much as to report the news. It was so intense, I thought at the time they were trying to prove they would be as hard on Biden as they were on Trump. I look forward to books will be written about the withdrawal that will contain a more objective analysis than I was able to get from the daily news. I think withdrawing was not just the right thing to do, but long overdue.

    1. I agree. And many of the articles mostly or even entirely ignored the facts of the history of the withdrawal and the repercussions of that history that the Biden administration and the military had to deal with. I also have found it ironic that many of the people that criticized the US going to war in the first place (me being one of those) also then criticizing that we shouldn’t have withdrawn forces until all friendly locals were gotten out. I’m sympathetic to both of those criticisms and I understand the sense of decency that underlies the latter.

      But the later issue was pretty much unavoidable, always is, unless you decide to never remove your forces or you are actually successful in helping the locals put together a decent government that is capable of providing security and rule of law. The only way to have avoided the issue would have been to not go to war in the first place. And even that wouldn’t absolve us of all responsibility to the local people, only changed the character and degree of it.

      1. My recollection is that the vast majority of the criticism was about how poorly handled the actual withdrawal was, rather than about the argument that we should be keeping a semi-permanent force in Kabul. Almost all of the criticism in this comments section is about the former. Surely nobody thinks it was an orderly withdrawal…? So, for those of us who believe we never should have been there and don’t think we should have been keeping troops there, it’s the actual process of the withdrawal, and that process deserves enormous amounts of criticism.

        Also, I don’t think anyone has argued that we should have extracted “all the friendly locals.” Nobody expected the US to extract 90% of the country’s capital. What I think I reasonably expected was managing to get (1) American lives out before they lost control of the entire airspace, and (2) get out the people who were know to have worked with the American military for years, given reassurances of their safety when they did so, and who we knew were sure to be executed by the Taliban.

        1. The actual withdrawal took place over months. What you are talking about is the final days. Your number 2 is exactly what I meant by “all the friendly locals.”

          1. Actually, it was the entire final month that was a debacle, and any armchair general could see why. DrBrydon and I have already gone over many of the reasons, and I think they need to be rebutted if you want to make a real case that the withdrawal wasn’t terribly handled and didn’t deserve all the criticism it received.

            And saying “friendly locals” doesn’t change who I’m really talking about: people who worked directly for or with the military and were given assurances of their safety should the US ever leave. Regardless, this is probably the least important part to most people (whether or not it’s right for it to be the least important to so many people is a different question).

    2. I contemplate the late teens/early twenties enlisted U.S. service members who were (secretly) grateful to get out of Afghanistan. Should they have congenially and stoically (fatalistically?) stayed to assuage/accommodate the critics of the withdrawal, many of whom were not (and never would be) similarly put in harm’s way?

      Andrew Bacevich of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has thoughts worth hearing regarding the American public’s generally perfunctory “Thank You For Your Service” perspective on U.S. service members.

      High school juniors and seniors (likely as not from “populist”-leaning backgrounds) ought to thorougly educate themselves on the history of U.S. interventions in/invasions of other countries, if they can discipline themselves to do so, before entering the military. To avoid cognitive dissonance, not a few might be disinclined to so educate themselves, and put up a purposeful ignorance-is-bliss wall in that they feel they have no option to entering military service as their ticket to get out of poverty and an otherwise dead-end life (as compared to the opportunities afforded their confreres who are the offspring of the monied and/or foreign policy “Blob”/elite Establishment). In that the U.S. has a volunteer military force, from the perspective of the Masters of the Universe it won’t do for the economy to be “too good.”

  15. The only comment I’ll make on Afghanistan is that everyone seemed to be surprised at the speed with which the Afghan Army (on which the US and allies had spent 20 years and billions of dollars) collapsed.
    My issue with the media at the moment is not the slant so much as the nagging negativism, particularly of the “if we do *anything* to help Ukraine, Putin might start World War 3” tone. Of course Putin might start WW3, we can’t stop him; but the idea that we should paralyze ourselves with fear and indecision over this is just nonsense. I’d like to see more done to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion, though it seems to be doing a remarkable job with what it has and such aid as we and NATO have given it; but I’m prepared to trust the judgment of Biden, the other NATO leaders, etc., and scare stories about, e.g., Russia’s stock of tactical nuclear weapons are unhelpful.

  16. Re: Afghanistan withdrawal: I wish we could go back in time twenty years, take every last cent that the U.S. has spent on arming and training the Afghan Army, and use it to buy SAMs and Switchblade drones for Ukraine.

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