Monday: Hili dialogue

July 10, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on a workday for all (except cats): it’s Monday, July 10, 2023, and National Pina Colada Day. Mix rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, shake with ice, garnish, and you have this lovely summer drink:


It’s also Clerihew Day, explained this way,

Edmund Clerihew Bentley, commonly known as E.C. Bentley, was born on today’s date in 1875. He was a British writer known for clerihews: four-line biographical poems of a comedic nature and an AABB rhyme scheme. The subject of the poem is usually named in the first line, and other characteristics of the poem are its clumsy rhythm and irregular number of accents.

Bentley came up with his first clerihew at the age of 16, while in a science class. It was about a chemist named Sir Humphry Davy and was later published in 1905 in Biography for Beginners. The clerihew is as follows:

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

It’s also National Kitten Day, Don’t Step on a Bee Day, Pick Blueberries Day, Martyrdom of the BábNikola Tesla Day (Tesla was born on this day in 1856), Statehood Day in Wyoming, and Teddy Bear Picnic Day. The song “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” sung by Rosemary Clooney, was perhaps my favorite song as a young child. I can still sing the whole thing:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 10 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Former world chess champion and expat Russian dissident Gary Kasparov takes the U.S. to task in a WSJ column, “Ukrainians die as America dawdles.” What? Didn’t we just give them cluster munitions? Here’s what Kasparov has to say:

My first message: Ukraine is the one nation worthy of NATO membership, because it is fighting the war the alliance was built for in 1949. My second message: While America delays, Ukrainians die.

(For a strong argument that Ukraine should be admitted into NATO ASAP, see this op-ed in yesterday’s NYT by Alyona Getmanchuk.)  More from Kasparov:

The U.S. is the laggard of the alliance. The once-timid Europeans are now more assertive than the Biden administration, which is still quibbling about every weapons-system delivery. Worse, new reports of back-channel contacts between current and former U.S. officials and Russian authorities betray the concept of alliance unity and deterrence of Vladimir Putin’s terrorist regime.

. . .Mr. Putin is terrified of escalation. Yet it’s the U.S. and NATO that act as if the collapse of his illegitimate regime—or what’s left of Russia itself—would somehow be worse than a nuclear arsenal in the hands of a KGB thug waging genocidal war in Europe. Anyone else would be better.

Sixteen months into the war, the Biden administration either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that the price of aiding Ukraine will keep rising with every delay. The latest example is Washington’s clearing the way to send cluster munitions to root out entrenched Russian positions in Ukraine—which wouldn’t exist had it provided stronger support weeks ago.

For months, the U.S. and its allies have repeated that they will stand with Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” That sounds nice, but what exactly does “it” mean? To push out every last Russian colonizer from sovereign Ukrainian land? To commit to seeing the zhovto-blakytnyy—the “yellow and blue”—fly free over Sevastopol? Will NATO give Ukraine the planes, armor and ammunition it needs to win and keep the peace? The Biden administration is happy to share Ukrainian flags on social media instead of planting them in Crimea.

. . .Ukraine must win. Those are the three words Mr. Biden needs to say in Vilnius. If the leader of the alliance doesn’t publicly commit to a full Ukrainian victory, more blood will be on his hands. Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Putin in 2021 in Geneva—the city where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1985—didn’t turn Mr. Biden into Reagan. Nothing will, but he must still try to finish off the evil empire once and for all. There can be no compromise with genocide, no negotiation with war criminals.

President Biden, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for Ukrainian lives, send planes and guns to save them. Europe’s line of defense against a Russian invasion has moved from the Rhine to the Dnipro, but the values that line represents must not change. Slava Ukraini. Glory to heroes.

I support Ukraine’s admission to NATO (Biden apparently doesn’t), but will more “planes and guns” sent to Ukraine enable them to be “saved” and win the war? What can the U.S. and its European allies actually do to ensure a Ukrainian victory?

*The NYT continues its weekly pandering to religion with Pastor Tish Harrison Warren’s column, “Why we shouldn’t lose faith in organized religion.” (In her email the title was “Faith communities are still a force for good”.)

This is actually Warren’s interview with Eboo Patel, identified as “an American Muslim and founder and president of Interfaith America, a Chicago-based nonprofit that aims to promote cooperation across religious differences. . .”  Some Q&A, with Warren’s questions in bold and Patel’s responses in plain type.

At many interfaith gatherings I’ve been to, I see mainly religious progressives talking about progressive causes. Your organization reaches out to moderate and conservative religious people as well, including white evangelicals. How do you bridge those progressive/conservative divides that seem so deep now?

It’s actually so much simpler in practice than it is in theory. I’ll give an example: In any hospital in America at any hour, there are people from very different religious identities — a Muslim surgeon with a Jewish anesthesiologist, with a Mormon nurse, with a Jehovah’s Witness social worker, with a Baptist who is sanitizing the room at a hospital started by a Catholic social order like the Dominicans or the Jesuits, that is run by an agnostic who grew up Buddhist. And every single one of them before they walk into a surgery is having their own kind of moment of prayer or reflection or connection with what they call God. That’s what we see as interfaith work.

People from diverse religious backgrounds — who may disagree on some fundamental things about abortion or where to draw the line in Jerusalem or doctrinal matters like the nature of Jesus — who are working together on other fundamental things. That is the genius of American society. We call that civic cooperation. It takes place everywhere all the time.

What is needed to help people become more constructive in their approach to social change?

I’m a big believer in the stories that we tell. This is my understanding of religion, of pluralism, of social change: If you tell an inspiring story, people will want to move in that direction. If you only tell a terrible story about America, then people will think that terribleness is inevitable. You tell a terrible story about Islam or Christianity and people will think that terribleness is inevitable. Which is why I think that call-out culture and cancellation culture is wrong in both theory and practice. It is the wrong approach to social change. We want to encourage people — whether schools or churches or entire religions or nations — to be doing more of what we think is beautiful and healthy.

. . . When it comes to religious diversity, specifically, American pluralism is mostly inspiring and generally the envy of the world. And we ought to be proud of that. For all of the mistakes and sins of the European founders, their understanding of religious identity and diversity was totally inspiring, both in 1776 and in 2023. And it’s our job to try to live into that vision.

Well that “civic cooperation” leads to social strife, and we can see that in the Supreme Court or in the very split down the middle of America between Left and the mostly religious right. Yes, a Jewish surgeon can operate with a Muslim anesthesiologist and a Catholic head nurse, but that kind of cooperation is MANDATORY, not voluntary.  As for making religions worse by telling stories about them, I don’t think the Taliban or ISIS needs “stories” to perform their dastardly deeds. All over the world people are being oppressed and killed by religion (look at Iran). And yet the ever-sunny Warren tells us to “keep the faith.” No thank you, especially because there’s no evidence for the things she believes, which are wholly Christian. She is the NYT’s main instrument for touting religion, and it’s not a very good instrument.

*But Warren’s contention about the goodness of the church is countered by David French in an op-ed called “Who truly threatens the church?

. . . I’ve seen the “new” Christian right re-embrace the authoritarianism of previous American political eras. At the exact time when religious liberty is enjoying a historic winning streak at the Supreme Court, a cohort of Christians has increasingly decided that liberty isn’t enough. To restore the culture and protect our children, it’s necessary to exercise power to shape our national environment.

. . .Years ago, I laughed at claims that Christian conservatives were dominionists in disguise, that we didn’t just want religious freedom, we wanted religious authority. Yet now, such claims are hardly laughable. Arguments for a “Christian nationalism” are increasingly prominent, with factions ranging from Catholic integralists to reformed Protestants to prophetic Pentecostals all seeking a new American social compact, one that explicitly puts Christians in charge.

The motivating force behind this transformation is a powerful sense of threat — the idea that the left is “coming after” you and your family. This mind-set sees the Christian use of power as inherently protective, and the desire to censor as an attempt to save children from dangerous ideas. The threat to the goodness of the church and the virtue of its members, in other words, comes primarily from outside its walls, from a culture and a world that is seen as worse in virtually every way.

French is an evangelical Christian, but abhors what Republican-style “Christian nationalism” is doing to America:

 The sense of virtue creates a sense of righteous entitlement. In Christian America, the belief that “we” are good leads to the conviction that the churches will suffer, our nation will suffer and our families will suffer unless “we” run things. It closes our hearts and minds to contrary voices and opposing ideas.

Putting aside for the moment the long history of religious misrule, recent events demonstrate the reach of Christian sin. In 2021 our nation suffered when many Christian activistsChristian members of Congress and Christian Trump aides participated in an attempt to overturn an American election and helped instigate a violent assault on the Capitol.

. . .This recent legacy of scandal and abuse should be more than enough evidence of the need for existential humility in any Christian political theology.

. . . Who is wrong? I am wrong. We are wrong. Until the church can give that answer, its political idealism will meet a tragic and destructive end. The attempt to control others will not preserve our virtue, and it risks inflicting our own failures on the nation we seek to save.

Who’s right, the Anglican pastor or the evangelical Christian? Well, they’re both victims of religious delusion, but at least French doesn’t have the peaches-and-cream attitude of Pastor Warren that the world would be a better place if we were all religious; we just need to “love each other.” What French realizes, but Warren doesn’t, is that religion keeps members of different tribes from loving each other.  And this is what’s happening in America now.

*I checked on the doings of Elizabeth Holmes, now serving an 11+ year sentence for wire fraud in the Theranos scandal. (She’s in a federal country-club prison in Bryan, Texas).     I found that, according to the BBC and several other sources, Holmes, who owes her defrauded victims  $452 million, can’t afford to pay even $250 per month, divided up among 14 investors.

Elizabeth Holmes, the jailed founder of fraudulent blood-testing start-up Theranos, will be unable to pay back her victims when she is released from prison, her lawyers have said.

Holmes has been told to pay $250 (£197) a month for her share of $452m in restitution to 14 investors.

Her co-defendant, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani”, is jointly liable for the payments and will pay $1,000 a month.

Holmes’ attorneys said on Monday she has “limited financial resources”.

The fraudster, 39, once heralded as America’s youngest self-made female billionaire, was sentenced in November to more than 11 years in prison.

Restitution is a form of reimbursement available in federal cases to victims of crime for lost income, property damage, medical expenses or related financial costs.

Over the course of their fraud, Holmes and Balwani, 57, raised hundreds of millions of dollars, including from some of the wealthiest families and corporations in America.

Donors they have been ordered to repay include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Safeway supermarket franchise and the Walgreens drugstore chain, according to the restitution order.

An earlier restitution order had only included a $25 quarterly payment while Holmes serves her sentence at a minimum-security facility in Bryan, Texas.

But government prosecutors last week said they had made a “clerical error” and proposed a new repayment schedule: $250 a month or at least 10% of her income, whichever is higher, once she is released.

ONCE SHE IS RELEASED. Not now! Holmes argues that she’s dirt-broke and will spend the rest of her life repaying her lawyers after she goes free, even though she’s married (or not married, depending on whom you believe) to her parter and hotel heir Billy Evans, who seems to have a lot of dosh. We’ll have to wait another decade or so to see if Holmes starts paying what she owes, though I’m likely to be dead by then.

*An AP story about Bruce Springsteen’s return to live concerts after a 7-year hiatus had a title that made me click on it: “Springsteen has mortality on his mind but celebration in his songs at London show.”

Blowing the deadline was never a real threat as Springsteen, still going strong at 73, got an earlier start and powered through a three-hour set Thursday in rapid-fire succession. He only broke stride a few times to reflect on the passing of time and the passing of friends.

The 28-song set included anthemic classics like “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Prove it all Night” and “Born to Run,” along with several newer tunes and one cover in a show that leaned heavy on a message of mortality but felt more like a celebration of life as an enthusiastic audience sang along on a beautiful summer evening.

“London is there anyone alive out there tonight?” he boomed in an intro to “Mary’s Place,” one of several tunes that showcased the E Street Band’s crisp horn section, dueling keyboards and impressive group of backup singers supported, of course, by tens of thousands of amateurs. “If you’re alive, then I’m alive. And that’s what we came here for.”

The tour, Springsteen’s first in seven years, kicked off in Tampa in February and has included almost the same set list every night, which is unusual for a performer who has often played requests fans post on handwritten signs.

Despite a few cancellations on the tour due to unspecified illness, Springsteen remains a formidable performer though he moved a little more stiffly as he hustled along the stage or walked down several steps to slap palms and pose for selfies with ecstatic front-row audience.

On a rousing “Out in the Street,” in which he sings “I walk the way I want to walk,” he stumbled climbing stairs back to the stage. It was not as awkward as a fall on stage at an Amsterdam show in May. He sat on the stairs to finish the song and Clemons sat next to him.

. . .For an encore, Springsteen emerged alone with acoustic guitar and harmonica and joked he was just getting warmed up.

He then sang “I’ll see you in my Dreams,” a lullaby-like comment on mortality inspired by yet another friend’s death.

“For death is not the end,” he sang, “‘cause I’ll see you in my dreams.”

Crikey, why do they have to keep emphasizing how old he is (same age as me); they don’t do that when Paul McCartney performs, and McCartney doesn’t do threee-hour sets. Ageism, I tell you!

Meet the Old Boss; same as the Young Boss:
Photo by Vianney Le Cair/Envision/AP.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has ambitions:

Hili: How to get to be a celebrity?
A: You have to shout loudly about your narcissism.
Hili: Theoretically I would have a chance, but I’m hindered by my inborn modesty.
In Polish:
Hili: Jak zostać celebrytką?
Ja: Trzeba głośno krzyczeć o swoim narcyzmie.
Hili: Teoretycznie miałabym szansę, przeszkadza mi tylko moja wrodzona skrtomność.


An anti-theist meme sent in by Barry:

From Divy, though I don’t know where she got this:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih. The Google translation is this:

Today is the anniversary of July 18. The day the government attacked the university to shut down the protests forever and teach the students a lesson. But after years of repression, neither the universities have calmed down nor the clubs have won, but the struggle of students and their dreams for freedom is more alive than ever. #freedom_life_woman

Steve Pinker goes after his employer’s (Harvard University) “nutty admissions process.” New Republic article from 2014:


From Barry, with the caption, “Get out of here, and don’t you ever show your face around these parts again!” !

From Merilee: both ageism and ableism in an old Disney cartoon:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, two young Jewish girls gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. This first one is a work of art, and the movie in which this song appears is in the tweet:

Isn’t this adorable? It’s an elephant shrew, and there are several species falling into six genera.

This is a GREAT place for a cat to be!

Matthew adds another that just appeared at the Auschwitz Memorial site:

43 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. Funny story: Until I was maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, I thought the 1980s Tom Cruise movie Barfly was pronounced “barf-lee.”

      I’m not the brightest hammer in the cupboard.

        1. Actually, if I’m being honest, I think I was about 20 or older when I realized it wasn’t pronounced “barf-lee.” It was just one of those things I always thought until I one day had a realization. Kind of like how it took me years of watching the show Californicaiton to realize that the name had the word “fornication” in it and was a double entendre. I had that moment of realization in front of my parents. They thought I was joking. The look on their faces when they realized I was serious wasn’t a look of disbelief or disappointment, but mere resignation. They had come to expect such obliviousness from me. I really am that fucking dense.

          I laugh at myself more than anything else in the world.

          1. I’m going to say that I was spared your embarrassment because I had heard of the term “bar flies” long before the movie. So when the movie came out I didn’t have to trip over the r-f combination and got that the single singular word was a compound noun, not an adverb. But I would have stared uncomprehendingly at “barflies”….maybe the feeling you get in your head just before you, …well, never mind.

            Our hamlet was so small that we had to borrow our village idiot from the next town down the valley. But we had bar flies galore.

          2. The funny thing is that I had heard the word many times! I had read Bukowski’s Barfly for fuck’s sake, and I certainly didn’t think that title was pronounced “barf-lee.” But my brain often doesn’t pick up on or just completely misinterprets the simplest things. Now that I’m thinking about the issue, it may be my learning disability, which involves words and especially processing visual information. My brain just sees one interpretation and sticks with it.

            I could have brought some joy to your little hamlet, though at my own expense.

          3. I was in my 30’s when I first realized The Beatles had the pun “beat” in their name.

            I admit this just to make you feel better; I think that beats your barf-lee or Californication. 🙂

          4. I, uh…having read numerous books on The Beatles and listened to their albums countless times, I definitely totally knew that…

            Holy shit I’m even dumber than I thought. Thanks a lot! 😛

      1. The title of the Tom Cruise movie in the 1980s was Cocktail; The Bukowski biopic Barfly starred Mickey Rourke.

        1. For goodness’ sake, man, stop making me even more wrong about things! Haven’t I suffered enough in this thread?

  1. Are you too young to have listened to the children’s radio program “Big John and Sparky? “A Teddy Bear’s Picnic” was its theme song.

  2. Garry Kasparov is pretty much on point with his views on the conflict. Biden has been very much half-ass in his attitude and comments concerning Ukraine. If it is the number one important issue of the day then act like it. His nature is – talk softly and put them to sleep. Wake up Joe Biden. And do the same on the other important issue of the day, knocking off the republicans. Biden leaves many wondering if he can really get mad at something. If you want people to think you are not too old for the job you sometimes have to act like it. Don’t give them tanks, oh well, give them some. Don’t give them jet airplanes, okay give them airplanes. Really on top of it Joe.

    1. Agree 100%. Putin must be defeated. He has the morals of Hitler and the
      ruthlessness of Stalin. Without victory Europe will be in extreme danger.

  3. On this day:
    988 – The Norse King Glúniairn recognises Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, High King of Ireland, and agrees to pay taxes and accept Brehon Law; the event is considered to be the founding of the city of Dublin.

    1212 – The most severe of several early fires of London burns most of the city to the ground.

    1499 – The Portuguese explorer Nicolau Coelho returns to Lisbon after discovering the sea route to India as a companion of Vasco da Gama.

    1553 – Lady Jane Grey takes the throne of England. [It didn’t end well.]

    1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins of John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

    1938 – Howard Hughes begins a 91-hour airplane flight around the world that will set a new record.

    1940 – World War II: The Vichy government is established in France.

    1941 – Jedwabne pogrom: Massacre of Polish Jews living in and near the village of Jedwabne.

    1942 – World War II: An American pilot spots a downed, intact Mitsubishi A6M Zero on Akutan Island (the “Akutan Zero”) that the US Navy uses to learn the aircraft’s flight characteristics.

    1962 – Telstar, the world’s first communications satellite, is launched into orbit.

    1966 – The Chicago Freedom Movement, co-founded by Martin Luther King Jr., holds a rally at Soldier Field in Chicago at which as many as 60,000 people attend.

    1985 – The Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior is bombed and sunk in Auckland harbour by French DGSE agents, killing Fernando Pereira.

    1991 – Boris Yeltsin takes office as the first elected President of Russia.

    1992 – In Miami, former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega is sentenced to 40 years in prison for drug and racketeering violations.

    1997 – In London, scientists report the findings of the DNA analysis of a Neanderthal skeleton which supports the “out of Africa theory” of human evolution, placing an “African Eve” at 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

    2007 – Erden Eruç begins the first solo human-powered circumnavigation of the world.

    2019 – The last Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the line in Puebla, Mexico. The last of 5,961 “Special Edition” cars will be exhibited in a museum.

    1509 – John Calvin, French pastor and theologian (d. 1564).

    1802 – Robert Chambers, Scottish geologist and publisher, co-founded Chambers Harrap (d. 1871).

    1809 – Friedrich August von Quenstedt, German geologist and palaeontologist (d. 1889).

    1856 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American physicist and engineer (d. 1943).

    1871 – Marcel Proust, French novelist, critic, and essayist (d. 1922).

    1903 – John Wyndham, English author (d. 1969).

    1907 – Blind Boy Fuller, American singer and guitarist (d. 1941).

    1911 – Terry-Thomas, English comedian and character actor (d. 1990).

    1917 – Reg Smythe, English cartoonist (d. 1998).

    1922 – Jake LaMotta, American boxer and actor (d. 2017).

    1931 – Alice Munro, Canadian short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1942 – Ronnie James Dio, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 2010).

    1943 – Arthur Ashe, American tennis player and journalist (d. 1993).

    1945 – Virginia Wade, English tennis player and sportscaster.

    1947 – Arlo Guthrie, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor.

    1954 – Neil Tennant, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player.

    1970 – John Simm, English actor.

    1977 – Chiwetel Ejiofor, English actor.

    The first day after a death, the new absence
    Is always the same; we should be careful

    Of each other, we should be kind
    While there is still time.

    138 – Hadrian, Roman emperor (b. 76).

    1806 – George Stubbs, English painter and academic (b. 1724).

    1851 – Louis Daguerre, French photographer and physicist, invented the daguerreotype (b. 1787).

    1941 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1890).

    1987 – John Hammond, American record producer, critic, and activist (b. 1910).

    1989 – Mel Blanc, American voice actor (b. 1908).

    2015 – Roger Rees, Welsh-American actor and director (b. 1944).

    2015 – Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor (b. 1932).

    2020 – Jack Charlton, English footballer and manager (b. 1935).

    1. Ah, Hadrian being of The Five Good Emperors reminds me that I read Aurelius’s Meditations for about the tenth time recently. Remarkable that it was written nearly two millennia ago. Stoicism had come a long way since Antisthenes and Diogenes!

    2. A nit: The communications satellite ECHO 1 was launched 2 years before Telstar.
      (But AFAIK it didn’t inspire any pop songs.)

      At the time it was a Big Deal; I remember watching it near the horizon in the evening sky.

  4. Re the “Mission Impossible” tweet with the ball falling down the marimba-type tone bars: am I the only one who noticed that the sound produced does not always exactly coincide with the ball hitting the bar? Occasionally the sound is heard either a fraction of a second before the ball hits the bar or a fraction of a second afterward. I’m not trying to be picky here–it’s just the musician in me that notices such things. Otherwise, it’s a neat trick.

    1. The ball doesn’t even hit all the bars. The volume you hear is independent of the speed at which the ball would hit if it did. One of the bars does not correspond to a sound at all, and after that all the sounds are very early. And then the ball ends up back where it started…. As a former percussionist I call fake.

  5. I have not heard the word ‘clerihew’ in a very long time. The L.A. Times columnist Jack Smith used to traffic in them occasionally.

    1. Fuchs
      Like an ascetic

      Author unknown, cited by Richard Rhodes in Dark Sun. The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, p. 57.

  6. The issue with admitting Ukraine into NATO now is that it would entail that all NATO members are then at war with Russia. That would mean the US mobilizing troops and equipment to Ukraine, and likely several other neighboring countries, to directly prosecute war against Russia.

    For all I know that would be the best course of action, but this war has the potential to cause worldwide turmoil of historic proportions. Personally, which means not worth much, If I had to pick between Iraq, Afghanistan and Russia, I’d rate Russia as the issue most worthy of a major military response.

    The one thing I think is obvious, or at least it should be, is that if NATO did go to war against Russia they would humiliate Russia as badly as the Iraqi military was humiliated by coalition forces in Desert Storm. Russia knows that too. And given the nuclear weapons Russia has it would seem nearly a certainty that some would be used. Even if their nuclear arsenal were in as bad shape as the rest of their military that would likely be disastrous.

    1. Article 5 of NATO says only that NATO signatories shall regard an attack on one as an attack against all. Whether any individual country actually “deems it necessary” to go to war against the attacker, or do anything at all, is a matter of national sovereignty. Thoughts and prayers might be all Ukraine would get from some countries who regard themselves as unlikely to be attacked by anyone in Eurasia.

      1. That’s true. It’s very common for people, and nations, to not abide by agreements they’ve made. The point is that having the legal excuse of Ukraine not being a member of NATO is quite useful.

        1. Going back to around 2008 Germany made clear is did not agree with Ukraine becoming a NATO member. That gave Putin his sign to go further in his attempt to get Ukraine. However, it has never been practical to admit a country into NATO while in the middle of a war, especially with Russia. Russia is the reason for NATO, the only reason. I know it was the reason back in 1968-72 when I was in the service in Europe. It was always about protecting Europe from Russia. I did at least 11 or 12 TDYs while stationed in the U.K. to various countries, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Turkey in the name of NATO.

      2. But most of NATO choosing to sit out a war against a member nation would essentially render the entire endeavor useless geopolitically. Once a member state is attacked and the others don’t come to its aid, the entire idea of the protection that NATO membership offers, and that of the threat that deters its enemies, evaporates. It becomes like the ICC finding Putin guilty of war crimes: Why should he care? Why would the ICC’s declarations on anything matter to him?

        Regardless, Article 4 would surely keep Ukraine out. Multiple member nations would be immediately threatened by the acceptance of Ukraine at this time, especially Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Turkey.

        The idea of admitting Ukraine at this time is rather silly (I was going to say “laughable,” but that doesn’t seem appropriate for such a topic, despite the fact that the suggestion is indeed ridiculous enough to elicit a chortle).

    2. From an article in Foreign Affairs Magazine:
      Admitting Ukraine to NATO would also present problems for the alliance, especially the security guarantees embedded in Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty. To be sure, Article 5 only formally commits the NATO allies to treat an attack on one as an attack on all and to render the assistance they “deem necessary.” In practice, however, member states have viewed NATO membership and the Article 5 guarantees that go along with it as a U.S. commitment to go to war on behalf of its allies. As President Barack Obama declared on a visit to Estonia in 2013,

      Article 5 is crystal clear: An attack on one is an attack on all. So if, in such a moment, you ever ask again, “who will come to help,” you’ll know the answer—the NATO Alliance, including the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

      Or as Biden described the commitment more recently, Article 5 constitutes “a sacred oath to defend every inch of NATO territory.” This is why Ukraine believes NATO membership will help protect it against future Russian aggression.

      This is the argument for not allowing Ukraine join NATO. If it is allowed to join, NATO will have no choice to commit its personnel to its defense. Otherwise, Article 5 is toothless and so is NATO. This is why I think Biden opposes Ukraine membership in NATO. He supports supplying arms, but not soldiers.

  7. “The one thing I think is obvious, or at least it should be, is that if NATO did go to war against Russia they would humiliate Russia as badly as the Iraqi military was humiliated by coalition forces in Desert Storm. Russia knows that too.”

    Yet we are supposed to believe that Russia would move on to Poland, the Baltics, or Germany if not stopped in Ukraine. (And they aren’t even capable of advancing in Ukraine.)

    1. Well, Putin was stupid enough, or sufficiently detached from reality, to invade Ukraine. That’s not causing much harm, is it? He’d be really nuts to invade Poland, a NATO country, but one of the other non-NATO neighbors? Not to mention their nuclear arsenal. Or all the political and economic harm the Russian thugocracy has caused around the world during Putin’s reign.

      But, sure. This little misadventure is likely to be the end of Putin and the Russian military has been exposed as a mere shadow of the superpower level reputation they’ve propagandized so hard for so long to maintain. I’m a little surprised Putin has lasted this long. But what comes after? The Russian government isn’t really a legitimate government. It’s a crime syndicate. With the resources of a sizable nation to cause trouble with. Which mafioso or mercenary warlord will fill the vacuum? Will they be more or less dangerous than Putin?

    2. It’s not simply a matter of rolling in with tanks and battalions. Russia has barely used its air force during the current war, hasn’t launched a nuke…There are so many things that Russia could do, nearly all of them far more destructive than what its done in Ukraine. Then there’s the potential of a geopolitical alliance between Russia and China arising, which might be joined by other countries as well. There are tons of other possibilities, like an Iranian-led alliance of Arab states launching a full-scale war against Israel while the West is occupied with a war in the European/Eurasian theaters, and/or in concert with the non-Western belligerents as a distraction.

      This is how you start another World War. The Treaty of Vienna kept Europe at peace for 99 years. The treaties signed at the end of WWII have kept Europe and the Western world at peace for about 78 years. China has the demographics to be the Russia of a World War III (i.e. enough people to throw as many as needed into the fire) and, unlike Russia in those wars, an advanced array of military hardware to back it up, and a thriving industrial base with the necessary natural resources to continually produce materiel.

      We really, really, really don’t want to find out which way the many dominoes possibly in play might fall.

      1. Denounce him or insult him all we like, Putin might very well achieve his objectives in Ukraine. After millions displaced and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands dead, we (the U. S.) will likely arrive at much the same place we could have been had we negotiated with him before March 2022.

        1. If history is anything to go by, appeasement isn’t a good tactic. From the days of “once you have paid him the Danegeld, You never get rid of the Dane,” to Nazi Germany, to most recently….hey, Russia annexing Crimea!

          Yeah, appeasement didn’t work as recently as nine years ago. There was no “negotiation” to conduct. Do you think Putin first came to the Western nations and asked to negotiate the surrender of the entirety of Ukraine? Even if he did (which he didn’t, obviously), why would we expect that he wouldn’t soon be rolling into Romania, Estonia, Latvia…

        2. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, it will not be “much the same place we could have been had we negotiated with him before March 2022.” Putin planned to have control of Kiev in three days. At this point, he’s hoping to hold onto a sliver more of Ukraine than he previously held after the annexation of Crimea. Moreover, he will have a severely depleted army in nearly every respect both materiel and morale, a severely diminished reputation on the world stage, a populace that has watched its sons die for a war it didn’t ask for and wasn’t expecting, and a weaker hold on power.

          We’ve dealt with the war in the only way we could. We couldn’t put boots on the ground, but history tells us that we also couldn’t sit back and say, “yeah, go ahead and take a piece of Europe. One right next to Poland. That never ends poorly.”

  8. I’m afraid I’m coming around to the idea that the neocons who pushed the war in Iraq are now in control of U.S. policy in Ukraine. Exhibit 1 is Victoria Nuland. She was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, and then under Obama she meddled in Ukrainian politics to help undermine Yanukovych and get him removed from power.


    Now she is one of the architects of Biden’s Ukraine policy. And she is just the tip of the iceberg.

    For most of my adult life the Democrats were the doves and the Republicans were the hawks. It makes me nervous to see both parties being so hawkish. I also worry that the press is so one-sided that most of the news we get about the war is little more than propaganda.

    Biden said the reason he needed to send cluster bombs is that the Ukrainians were running out of ammunition. To me, the real story is that after 18 months of war, NATO is unable to supply enough ammunition to Ukraine to keep going without using cluster bombs.

    1. “I’m afraid I’m coming around to the idea that the neocons who pushed the war in Iraq are now in control of U.S. policy in Ukraine.”

      Bingo! (They always have been.)

      “I also worry that the press is so one-sided that most of the news we get about the war is little more than propaganda.”

      You are on a roll!

      “To me, the real story is that after 18 months of war, NATO is unable to supply enough ammunition to Ukraine to keep going without using cluster bombs.”


    2. What policies would you have advocated? It’s February 24th, 2022. Russia has just invaded Ukraine, apparently not appeased by its illegal annexation of Crimea eight years prior. Its plan is to take the entirety of a country in Europe through military force. You’re the POTUS. What’s your response?

      History has shown throughout time and literally as recently as nine years ago with Russia annexing Crimea that appeasement wouldn’t work. So you have no choice but to try and at least slow Putin/Russia and inflict as much damage as possible, while also not putting boots on the ground and thus starting a hot war between the US and Russia.

      I’ll repeat what I said to Doug above:

      Regardless of the ultimate outcome, it will not be “much the same place we could have been had we negotiated with him before March 2022.” [a quote from Doug’s response to me] Putin planned to have control of Kiev in three days. At this point, he’s hoping to hold onto a sliver more of Ukraine than he previously held after the annexation of Crimea. Moreover, he will have a severely depleted army in nearly every respect both materiel and morale, a severely diminished reputation on the world stage, a populace that has watched its sons die for a war it didn’t ask for and wasn’t expecting, and a weaker hold on power.

      We’ve dealt with the war in the only way we could. We couldn’t put boots on the ground, but history tells us that we also couldn’t sit back and say, “yeah, go ahead and take a piece of Europe. One right next to Poland. That never ends poorly.”

      So I am genuinely curious: what better way do you think there was of handling this? Because if you think the world and Russia in particular didn’t need to be taught that you can’t just go and take over a European country — one directly on the border of Poland, no less (bit of history there, eh?) — I’d love to know why.

  9. Crikey, why do they have to keep emphasizing how old he is (same age as me); they don’t do that when Paul McCartney performs, and McCartney doesn’t do threee-hour sets. Ageism, I tell you!

    I may be in a minority about this but…

    I don’t want to see old pop musicians on stage. There. I said it 🙂

    I think old musicians like Springsteen, The Stones, McCartney etc SHOULD keep playing if they really want to. Especially if there are fans who will enjoy seeing them play, even at their advanced age.

    However, I’m not one of them. To me it’s like watching a boxer stay in the ring past his prime. It’s wince-inducing watching the ravages of time in terms of performance.
    Just like watching a Sugar Ray Leonard moving without the reflexes that made him the very phenomenon that he was is unsatisfying, so watching aging musicians whose musical energy, ability and prowess was tied to their youth, also is a bummer.

    When I watch Elton John perform now, he can’t hit the notes anymore. Those sky-high notes, that vocal flexibility and control of tone, the very melodies themselves, are now often outside his capability, so it’s like he’s had to drop notes to within a single octave or two. Thus I’m constantly aware of the struggle.

    It was the same for Geddy Lee of Rush. I’m a huge Rush fan, and Geddy was known for his effortlessly high soaring melodies and vocals. As he aged he just couldn’t do it and it was brutal for me to listen…it was this aged voice that took on a gargled, struggling tone for everything.

    When I see musicians on stage who look just too old for the pop era they are trying to recreate, it just feels cringey. Like watching your grandpa try to rap at a wedding.

    This is why I think ABBA actually made the right choice in their futuristic ABBA Voyage show. They’d rebuffed calls to re-unite and tour for many years explaining “Look, pop is a young person’s game. We are old now. You don’t really want to see us hobbling around on stage trying to perform our hits. What you may be imagining is not what you’d get. We know we can’t perform as we used to, and we’d prefer to be remembered in our prime, presenting the music in the best way possible. ”

    Hence they created the show with the ABBAtars (and a young, live backup band) which has been massively successful in giving people the feeling of seeing ABBA ‘in their prime’ performing.

    Again, obviously this is my opinion, not some objective claim that others ought not enjoy any new Springsteen tour or whatever.

    1. Several years ago when I was in my early 50’s, an omniscient adolescent male tried to get in a dig at me about my age. I told him that I was grateful to have made it to my age, noted that not everyone does, and that it was worth the price of having to hear him mouth off. I then asked him if he hoped to live to at least my age. He contemplated the matter a long time – two or three seconds – and then replied, “Hell no!” An adolescent male has to save face at all cost. ( I had been given to understand that he had a not insignificant drug problem. For the sake of civility I avoided telling him that I was sure he’d make a fine looking youthful corpse.)

  10. If I correctly understand, U.S. military recruitment has not been going that well for several months. I wonder if high schoolers are paying closer attention to the NATO/Ukraine situation.

    Kasparov: “The latest example is Washington’s clearing the way to send cluster munitions to root out entrenched Russian positions in Ukraine . . . .”

    I’d like to hear Kasparov’s pearls of wisdom regarding the U.S. cluster bombing of Laos.

    1. I’m afraid recruitment into our voluntary military has not been going well for several reasons. One reason I saw recently is that many high schoolers cannot meet the physical and or mental requirements. Some say those requirements which have not changed for 30 or more years need to be changed some. I don’t think paying any attention to the Ukraine situation has anything to do with it. Being sent over to Iraq and or Afghanistan multiple time could have a lot to do with it. Going into many useless and meaningless conflicts should put any one off the military. We did it to ourselves in Vietnam and have been doing it ever since. Leadership in the military is not good and has been going downhill since Korea. Recommend reading some Tom Hicks on this issue to learn more.

      1. Sorry I screwed that name up. Thomas E. Ricks, author, journalist. I recall reading one long ago on Iraq called Fiasco. Also another one on the military – The Generals.

  11. Kasparov is more rabidly anti Putin than the most rabid anti Trumper. As far as I know Putin has good approval numbers among the Russian people.
    Putin is not the simplistic ‘bad’ man caricature the removal of whom would certainly be a good thing.
    There are worse more radical elements in Russia that a nuclear arsenal should not be in the hands off.

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