Vladimir Putin continues to kick up his heels in Eastern Europe, and the United States’ reaction continues to be feckless and ineffectual. First of today’s commentaries on that subject comes from the Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto: Russian Republican? Excerpt:
“Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions ‘teed up’–even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine,” the Associated Press reports from Tokyo.
“Teed up”? What was it that somebody said about Putin playing chess while Obama plays golf?
Obama’s comments in Tokyo call to mind a story in Sunday’s New York Times by Peter Baker, which carried the curious headline “In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin”:
Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said. As a result, Mr. Obama will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, preserve whatever marginal cooperation can be saved and otherwise ignore the master of the Kremlin in favor of other foreign policy areas where progress remains possible.
Only a short generation ago we thought the Cold War was over. Mr. Putin, who we should bear in mind is a former KGB Colonel, seems determined to either re-ignite that Cold War or to establish a new Russian Empire – either that or a new Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, as Mr. Taranto pithily points out, the laughably inexperienced President Obama continues to play golf while Putin is playing chess – and, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor, Putin is playing for all the marbles.
More on that point, this time from Reason.com: Russia Threatens Invasion Unless Ukraine Stops Stopping Separatists. Excerpt:
Russia launched new military exercises along the Ukrainian border as part of yesterday’s threat that Kremlin forces would invade Ukraine if the nation continues its “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russian separatists.
Showing that Russia means business, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu today mobilized artillery, tanks, and fighter jets. Without a hint of irony, he justified the move by condemning the Ukrainian government’s action against the insurgents who are suspected of being Russian-backed. “The forces are clearly unequal. If this military machine is not stopped today, it will lead to a large number of dead and wounded.”
Let’s face it – if Ukraine and Russia come to blows, it won’t end well for Ukraine. The Russian Army is only a pale shadow of the WW2 Red Army colossus, but it’s more than enough to roll up the Ukrainian forces like the cheapest of carpets. And aside from some ineffectual sanctions, what will the U.S. and western Europe do?
That’s right. Nothing.
Interesting times, True Believers. Interesting times.
PJ Media’s Roger Simon has opined on the GOP’s ongoing public relations disaster. Excerpt:
Given the current state of the USA, Republicans should be winning every election from Seattle to Key West. The economy hasn’t moved for years with the labor participation rate at record lows — people have given up – and bankruptcy over entitlements looming. The international situation is in free fall with China becoming the global power, Iran making a mockery of faux negotiations and Putin on the way to reconstituting the Soviet Union. Al Qaeda is not only alive, it’s growing. (GM is dead.) Optimism about our country is in the proverbial toilet. More Americans feel threatened by their own government than proud of it.
Republicans should be winning by acclimation for every position from dog catcher to president.
But they’re not. And you don’t need Strother Martin to tell you why – it’s a failure to communicate.
In my estimation the GOP’s problems with messaging are threefold:
- Solidarity. The Democrats, no matter what their issues, are better at presenting a unified front – and they never let down The Side. Case in point: No matter what nutball Joe Biden or Harry Reid makes, and both of them routinely trot out some real whoppers, there is no argument from The Side.
- Consistency. The GOP contains some pretty diverse elements; the Tea Party, libertarians, the religious right (there is a religious left, too, which somehow the mainstream media usually fails to notice) the small business element that some call the Sam’s Club Republicans, the few remaining old blue-blood country club Republicans and a few old Goldwater conservatives. Somehow they never seem to be able to unite on message.
- Adaptability. The American public’s attitudes on many social issues have changed dramatically in the last few decades – on things like gay marriage, legalization of pot, and so on. The GOP is lagging behind on these issues; agree with them or disagree, but the facts are there, and the GOP has to adapt, either in articulating the opposition in terms that people accept, or accepting the change.
Mr. Simon is right; given the state of the country, especially considering the tax code and the economy, the GOP should really be sweeping elections. They aren’t. But then, they don’t call the GOP the Stupid Party for nothing. Case in point: Our own Colorado, where the state Republicans have been drawn up in a circular firing squad since Bill Owens left the Governor’s mansion.
A brief rundown of some interesting tidbits today, as we had a late night last night and an early morning today – work, not fun.
First up: Dozens reported killed in Yemen drone strike on suspected militants. Making more bad terrorists into good (as in, dead) terrorists.
It seems Russia and Ukraine declared an Easter cease-fire…. Whoops. No they didn’t. Call it another chapter in Cold War II.
DNC Chair Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz: Obama Isn’t Factoring Politics into Keystone. Animal: Horseshit. Seriously, does she actually expect anyone to believe that? It’s all about politics. President Obama is holding energy independence and tens of thousands of jobs hostage to appease the far left wing of the environmental lobby.
Speaking of environments, we may now know the location of a habitable exoplanet. That makes one, incidentally, but it’s a start.
What’s more interesting is this; the Aricebo Observatory has picked up a mysterious radio burst. Someone trying to say hello? Odds are against it, but…
On that note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has become a man of great consistency; every time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out. As an example, he labels the protestors in the recent Bundy ranch debate as “domestic terrorists.” Excerpt:
Senator Harry Reid has made a habit of saying stuff with no basis in fact and then repeating it, as if by sheer repetition the lie will become truth.
Remember his lie that “an anonymous source” told him Mitt Romney paid no income taxes for 10 years? Tax experts and fact checkers called this a load of codswallop. But Reid continued to make the charge on the Senate floor, thus assuring that the lie would have plenty of exposure.
Now comes Reid’s willfully exaggerated and hysterical claim that protestors on the Bundy Ranch were “domestic terrorists” – apparently because some of them were armed. No shots were fired. The only violence occurred when the feds confronted peaceful, apparently unarmed protestors.
Now, it’s inarguable that Cliven Bundy was grazing his cattle on BLM land without paying any grazing fees. Like it or not, he was breaking the law, and was defiant in so doing – but does that merit the mobilization of over 200 armed troops on the part of the Imperial Federal government? What warrants that? What warrants snipers on hilltops? What warrants a veritable army deployed to collect grazing fees in arrears? Is Cliven Bundy such a fearful figure?
Mind you this is a government that called the attack on our Benghazi consulate a “spontaneous protest,” and the mass murder committed by jihadist Major Nidal Hasan “workplace violence.” But a genuine spontaneous protest at the Bundy ranch – some of the protesters were, yes, bearing arms, legally, as they have every right to do, but there were zero deaths, zero injuries, save whatever minor injuries Cliven Bundy’s son suffered from being shoved to the ground and tased.
These people are what Harry Reid – who shall henceforth be known on this pages by his proper and well-deserved title, “that asshole Harry Reid,” calls “domestic terrorists?”
This man bears the same title that was once borne by the likes of Marcus Porcius Cato, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. It is a title for which he has repeatedly shown himself to be manifestly undeserving.
The recent Fort Hood event has reignited the debate on the carry of firearms, which is perhaps predictable; PJ Media has this story on the topic: Fort Hood and Disarmament. Excerpt:
The latest active shooter attack at Fort Hood, Texas on April 2, 2014 left three dead and 16 wounded. As is almost always the case, the killer, confronted with armed resistance, choose suicide, ending the rampage. The Army has released a timeline that indicates that the attack lasted something over eight minutes, but the timeline fails to note how much time passed between the first shot and the first 911 call, which means the actual time was likely about ten minutes.
This will become significant shortly. The gun that anti-freedom forces love to demonize, the AR-15 with its standard 30 round magazine, was not involved. Instead, the killer used only a commonly available .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun.
As all mass attacks do, this one has reanimated the gun control debate, but this time, anti-freedom advocates have a unique handicap. It may seem counterintuitive and surprising to many, but continental United States military installations are a gun-free anti-gunner’s dream. They are even more strictly regulated than many schools. Soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines are nowhere as thoroughly disarmed as they are on American military bases.
And why, one wonders, should that be the case? Why – why the bloody hell – should our servicemen and -women, professionals in the profession of arms, be denied the ability to bear arms on the grounds of their own bases?
As recently as the Seventies at least officers and senior NCOs routinely carried sidearms even on stateside bases. The expectation was simple: Service members were in the business of bearing and using arms, and it was taken for granted that they would be armed in the course of their duties.
And how is this relevant to the nutbar shooter at Fort Hood? Or his predecessor, the nutbar turncoat jihadist Major Hasan?
There are two possible scenarios: First, the shooter would have expected armed resistance at the target area, and would have either given the whole thing a pass or, at worst, selected another target. Second, the shooter would have encountered armed resistance at the target area and been terminated before doing as much damage as he did.
So, the risk analysis is fairly simple; worst case is a diversion to a softer target. Best case is an aborted mass-shooter. In either case, the argument for disarming professional warriors in their own bases comes off as what it clearly is: Idiotic.
If North Korea’s regime collapses today, it would most likely be due to Kim Jong Un’s lack of leadership, common sense, and rational judgment. Given the magnitude of the potential consequences triggered by a regime collapse, North Korea’s state of affairs cannot be ignored. The international community must remain vigilant at all times and begin to organize jointly for such an event. A disintegrating North Korea could turn the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophic and dangerous hot zone, in which uncontrolled nuclear weapons and an exodus of North Korean refugees could combine to be the worst destabilizing event imaginable in Northeast Asia with enormous implications for U.S. security.
North Korea is truly a pariah among nations – a rogue state run by a twisted little gargoyle with bad hair, third in a line of twisted little gargoyles with bad hair. A failed Stalinist state, it’s not even a good failed Stalinist state – old Uncle Joe himself would have been disgusted with the thought of a hereditary dynasty calling itself Communist.
North Korea’s collapse is almost certainly inevitable – no nation lasts forever, and a horrendously restrictive nation like North Korea never ends well. But while the short-term effects on the region will be unpleasant, maybe even catastrophic, in the end to failure of a horrendous caricature of a nation like this can only be of benefit in the long run.
And as for the scion of the Kim dynasty, that latest in the line of twisted little gargoyles with bad hair – well, Mussolini ended up hanging from a lamppost. Something along those lines would be a fitting end for Kim the Third.
In 1919 the eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of “intoxicating liquors” in the United States and by 1933 the era of prohibition was over when the twenty-first Amendment rescinded it. Alcohol consumption was and is a social problem, but sometimes the government is not the right vehicle for dealing with them.
The United States is a huge market for what are deemed illegal drugs and, for many years, marijuana has been among them. That prohibition is now going the way of the earlier effort to make alcohol consumption illegal. Questions remain as to whether this is a good thing or not.
Theo’s contributor, Alan Caruba, concludes:
Americans love booze and love pot. What the long term effects on our society will be are unknown, but there will be effects.
Well, obviously. Everything has effects. Booze has been legal, as the respected Mr. Caurba points out, since 1933 – this time. It should be legal.
It’s not the place of government to protect us from ourselves.
It’s our place to make our own decisions. It’s our place to decide what’s good or bad for us. And the flip side of that is this: It’s likewise not the place of government to shelter us from the consequences of bad decisions. So, yes, pot should be legal, as booze is. And if people abuse it and screw up, it’s on them. If they screw up and hurt someone else, they face stern criminal penalties – their right to swing their fists ended at someone else’s nose, and they blew it.
It’s not complicated. Good policy shouldn’t be complicated.