Ukraine Shall Prevail

You’ll see a number of quotations in today’s blog. As a species, we’ve been over this same ground before and others have said it better than I ever could.

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill

Churchill’s statement was never more true than today in Ukraine.

Russia is already the world’s largest country, spanning two continents—Europe and Asia—and 11 time zones. Its history has seen great wealth and power, although not equally shared. Prior to the Russian Revolution, the leader was the “Tsar,” which is derived from the ancient title of Caesar (as is the German title “Kaiser”).

After the revolution, the Csar was dead and could no longer skim the financial cream from the economy. Theoretically, given that they were committed to the communist system, with its egalitarian focus, there should have been a more equitable distribution. After all, communism’s credo is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” – Karl Marx.

Instead, of sharing, certain Russians stepped in to claim the largest and tastiest pieces of the pie. Then World War II came, and Stalin, Russia’s ruler at the time, grabbed as much territory as he could and made some part of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic and others satellite states. Eventually, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and many nations gained their freedom.

Skipping ahead to today, Vladimir Putin, current ruler of Russia and Tsar wannabe, has initiated efforts to rebuild the Soviet Union, starting with the conquest of Ukraine. It looked like low-hanging fruit since unlike most its neighbors Ukraine did not belong to NATO. Its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not a professional politician—in fact he was a television comic actor.

Things are not exactly going to plan. Ukraine has not been a pushover—its professional military has been trained by NATO. Many/most other males—and many females—have taken up arms and been trained to be an effective extension of the regular military.

Russia’s military philosophy has been, don’t worry about being accurate or doing it right. Instead, it has been, “If you shoot enough artillery shells and rockets, you’re bound to hit something important!” In a way, this is true. Russia’s attack has decimated children’s schools, hospitals, and other places the entire rest of the world would never see as dangerous.

Russia loves flashy missiles, fighter aircraft, and other things that look great in the May day parade. Unfortunately, these are not the keys to winning.

A few quotes that sum things up better than I could:

“I don’t know what the hell this ‘logistics’ is that Marshall is always talking about, but I want some of it.” – Admiral E. J. King

“Amateurs discuss tactics. Professionals discuss logistics.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Russia does not have reliable trucks to transport the “B’s”—Beans, Bullets, Bandages, and Black Boxes. To add to the negative situation, conscripts who serve for a year don’t have time to learn how to conduct maintenance properly on the vehicles, and they’re too busy counting down days until they are released to give a shit.

Mr. Putin, I’m not a world leader, but I have experience with logistics. All I can say is that I hope that the hole you’re digging for yourself is deep enough.

George Washington’s Oft-Ignored Advice

With all the infighting, hate, discontent, and incivility in Washington, DC, I thought it might be useful to review what our first president advised regarding political parties. Bluntly put, he opposed them. 

Washington remained above the fray; he wanted to be a president of all the American citizens. The most important reason was he believed unity, not division, was necessary for a democratic republic to survive. Washington believed that political parties would divide and destroy the young United States. 

His thought, in what became known as the Farewell Address in 1796, is clear: “the spirit of party” serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. 

Throughout his political life, and until his death in 1799, George Washington was confident that the country could and should function without the existence of political parties. Maybe we should have heeded his advice. 

https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-first-president/political-parties/ 

Mold, Fungus, & Politics

Newsweek published an interesting article written by Hannah Osborne entitled “Fungi Appear to Talk in a Language Similar to Humans” (link below). This is along the same lines as last year’s news in Nature magazine that slime mold, which is a large yet single-celled organism, without a brain, can learn to navigate a maze (second link below).

Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

I wonder if they lie and scream at one another the way our elected officials do.

It would be sad (but not surprising) to find out that mold and fungus are more civilized than Congress.

https://www.newsweek.com/fungi-language-communication-talk-similar-humans-1695146

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature.2012.11811

Hail the Honored Dead

Russian KIA (killed in action) in Ukraine

Those of us who have served in the US Military know that we are committed to never leaving a fellow service member behind, whether alive or not. It’s a sign of respect among those who are committed to the safety of our nation.

The Russian soldiers who invaded Ukraine are not afforded such respect. Many of them were lied to—being told they were going on a training exercise. Instead, they found themselves in a war. Thousands of Russian solldiers have died.

It is reported that Russia has sent in portable crematoria to dispose of the bodies of Russian soldiers. This allows Putin’s propagandists to claim that individual soldiers are missing in action or captured, not killed.

Apparently, the number of Russian soldiers killed is exceeding the capacity of the crematoria. Putin must believe that Russian soldiers are like trash. If they can’t be burned, like litter, just let them lie where they fall.

Ukraine is talking about putting the bodies in refrigerated trucks and returning them to Russia. This would involve digging up the mass graves as well as collecting the bodies left above ground. I suspect that if they tried that, Putin would destroy the trucks to keep the Russian people from seeing the thousands who had been killed. Truth is not Putin’s friend.

More detail is available at https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/europe/ukraine-war-russian-soldiers-deaths-cmd-intl/index.html.

Talk Is Cheap-Especially in the Senate

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is undergoing Senate hearings consistent with the Constitution’s provision that the Senate will advise and consent to certain presidential actions.

Based on yesterdays hearings, I can only conclude that advise and consent is like truth and beauty–a wonderful concept that is neither clearly defined nor understood and that’s just fine with the upper house in Congress.

The senators talked (and talked and talked) instead of asking questions. It reminded me of the old joke about a blind date:

“Hi, are you Sally?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, enough about you. Let’s talk about me.”

Asteroid Delivery to Earth

Today, a refrigerator size asteroid struck the earth two hours after it was first discovered. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/fridge-sized-asteroid-hit-earth-2-hours-after-it-was-first-spotted-nasa-says/ar-AAVcVU8?li=BBnb7Kz. On March 11, astronomer Krisztian Sarneczky noticed an asteroid at the Piszkéstető Observatory in Hungary. No meteorite pieces that survived re-entry have been found so far.

Given that a Hungarian observatory first spotted it and that any debris that didn’t burn up in the atmosphere is believed to have ended up in Norway, Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy had no comment; apparently, he figured it was good for Putin to believe Ukraine had extraterrestrial military capability.

In the meantime, Louis DeJoy, United States Postmaster General declared the speed of the asteroid/meteor as wasteful. “If I had been in charge, it would have taken weeks for it to arrive AND I would have raised the rates while it was on the way.”

Political Lies

Lying doesn’t work.
It especially doesn’t work if you are lying to yourself.

Politicians are noted for their ability to lie (“How can you tell if a politician is lying? Their lips are moving). Right now, one of the prime candidates for Best Politician (aka Biggest Liar) is Vladimir Putin.

Vlad repeatedly promised that he had no intention of invading Ukraine.

Vlad vehemently denied sending conscripts into battle, until some were taken prisoner and expressed their dismay.

Many conscripts were blindsided when they found themselves in a war. Apparently Russian leadership told them they would be participating in a training exercise.

Russia has cut all foreign news sources possible so that only Russian broadcasters could present the party line. People in Ukraine who have family in Russia are being told they cannot be in a war, because if there were a war, it would be on the Russian news.

It appears that Vlad is lying to himself about how things are going in Ukraine.

Vlad’s lips have been moving, but it might be hard to tell since he’s at the other end of his 13-foot table.

I wonder if Putin was lying to Trump when they met.

Doing the Right Thing vs. Doing the Profitable Thing

Russia has always had a tendency to value quantity over quality–at least in war. While other countries, including the United States use smart bombs and precision cruise missiles, it seems that the Russian philosophy has been–and still is–to use large quantities of explosives. Fire enough artillery shells, drop enough dumb bombs, etc.., and sooner or later you’re bound to hit something. Not necessarily a military target, but something.

In the meantime, Ukrainians are fighting back, but while Russia is lobbing shells into Ukraine, if Ukraine fired back into Russia, Putin has implied he would use nuclear weapons. The West has emphasized economic warfare, cutting off trade and access to foreign currency.

Many companies have chosen to support the economic sanctions, but some apparently place profit above all else. I understand that some are franchises and the parent corporation doesn’t have as much control. However, many appear to be just plain greedy.

I would think that the least that they could do is send a cease and desist letter that would say, “Effective immediately, you can no longer use our name, sell our products, or in any way involve us in your business until Russia stops killing Ukrainian women and children.”

Here’s an article that you may find interesting https://www.aol.com/finance/companies-still-doing-business-russia-204129691.html

Yale University also has a list as to which companies are involved with Russia at this time.

https://yale.app.box.com/s/11lqy1d3yn1kf9xa3r96k9sb6w5m4qea

DICTATORS

Some things you just have to ask, regardless of the consequences. This is one of those.

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin made a “genius” decision when he recognized two pro-Kremlin breakaway states in eastern Ukraine and ordered Russian troops across the border on a so-called “peacekeeping” mission, while slamming President Joe Biden’s response to the crisis. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2022/02/22/this-is-genius-trump-praises-putins-move-into-ukraineand-blasts-biden/?sh=47543ef57f5c

I was going to list his other comments regarding despotic dictators, but Chris Cillizza and Brenna Williams do a much better. job. Please note,that their list is all based on Trumps own words. (See below)

My question—Given that Trump loves these dictators, do all his followers (Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Madison Cawthorne, Mo Brooks, Mitch McConnell, etc.) love them too? Or, are they only halfway committed to Trump?

15 times Donald Trump Praised Authoritarian Rulers

Analysis by Chris Cillizza and Brenna Williams, CNN

1:33 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2019 01:44 – Source: CNN

Trump keeps praising authoritarian leadersCNN —  

During his recent trip to the G20 summit in Japan, President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a photo op before the meeting, Trump said this to Putin in reference to the assembled press: “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do.” Responded Putin: “We also have. It’s the same.”

Ah ha ha ha ha. Actually not. At all. Because Putin’s government has a long history of cracking down on journalists who aren’t willing to toe Putin’s preferred line on, well, everything. Investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested last month on drug charges – which he insists were made up – after a series of reports detailing corruption within Russian government. (An ambulance doctor who examined Golunov said that the reporter had a concussion, bruising and possible broken ribs.) Last April, investigative reporter Maxim Borodin died after falling from his fifth story apartment. (Russian officials did not pursue a criminal inquiry of Borodin’s death.)

“Russia has a record of brushing aside suspicious deaths of members of the press,” said Nina Ognianova, a program coordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists, at the time. “We urge authorities on both the regional and federal level to consider that Borodin may have been attacked and that his investigative journalism was the motive.”

Trump’s comments to Putin – “you don’t have this problem in Russia” – seem to overlook the violence with which Russia deals with reporters who don’t write what the government wants. And this is far from the only time that Trump has praised the power (and methods of retaining that power) of rogue dictators and authoritarian rulers. FAR from it.

Trump on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un

* “Well, first of all, let me say that I think that Kim Jong Un, or Chairman Kim, as some people say, is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. I think he’s very much – I talk to him a lot about it, and he’s very much into the fact that – he believes, like I do, that North Korea has tremendous economic potential like perhaps few other developing nations anywhere in the world.” (May 27, 2019)

* “Kim Jong Un has been, really, somebody that I’ve gotten to know very well and respect, and hopefully – and I really believe that, over a period of time, a lot of tremendous things will happen.” (April 11, 2019)

*[Kim] wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” (September 29, 2018)

* “Chairman Kim has been really very open and terrific, frankly. And I think he wants to see something happen. So we have done – I think, mutually, we’ve done very well with respect to North Korea.” (September 24, 2018)

Trump on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

* “President Erdogan. He’s tough, but I get along with him. And maybe that’s a bad thing, but I think it’s a really good thing.” (June 29, 2019)

* “Well, thank you very much. It’s my honor to be with a friend of mine, somebody I’ve become very close to, in many respects, and he’s doing a very good job: the President of Turkey.” (June 29, 2019)

* “Thank you very much. It’s a great honor and privilege – because he’s become a friend of mine – to introduce President Erdogan of Turkey. He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks.” (September 21, 2017)

Trump on Chinese President Xi Jinping

* “And I like President Xi a lot. I consider him a friend, and – but I like him a lot. I’ve gotten to know him very well. He’s a strong gentleman, right? Anybody that – he’s a strong guy, tough guy.” (June 30, 2019)

* “President Xi, who is a strong man, I call him King, he said, ‘But I am not King, I am president.’ I said, ‘No, you’re president for life and therefore, you’re King.’ He said, ‘Huh. Huh.’ He liked that.” (April 2, 2019)

* “I had President Xi, who’s a friend of mine, who’s a very, very good man.” (April 12, 2018)

Trump on Russian President Vladimir Putin

* “Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing….” (May 3, 2019)

* “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!” (July 18, 2018)

* “I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing…” (March 21, 2018)

* “The man has very strong control over a country,” he said. “Now, it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.” (September 7, 2016)

* “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” (December 20, 2016)

That’s not a comprehensive list – by any means. But you get the idea. Trump’s admiration for and praise of authoritarian rulers – and the means by which they maintain their power – is a feature not a glitch of this President and his presidency. When you combine the fights he’s picked with traditional US allies (Australia, Germany etc.), you begin to grasp where Trump’s mind is when it comes to the preferred way to lead people. And that’s scary.

Random Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts, today:

I’ve been seeing inexpensive items that merely have a small sticker that says, “Made in China,” rather than a permanent mark on the product itself. Most labels quickly fall off—at least the side with printing on it. This could mean one of two things:

  1. China, like the United States, is now having their manufacturing outsourced to small countries to reduce costs.
  2. They may be back to using questionable ingredients, such as melamine, and need to establish plausible deniability.

The federal government’s efforts to curb spam calls is not going well. I have to wonder; how many members of Congress (or their spouses) have a financial interest in such activities?

I recently retired from federal civil service, after a career in the military. It was a painful experience, with a last minute screwup that delayed my retirement by four months. However, as I watch our elected officials in action, I’m grateful that ANYTHING gets done, no matter how poorly.

Lincoln Spins

Senator Romney expressed his displeasure at GOP members who supported Putin. Thanks, Mitt. Now, Republicans, what do you have to say?

[cricket chirp] [whirr] [cricket chirp] [whirr] [cricket chirp] [whirr]

The cricket chirps are from the Republican Party, while the whirring sound you hear is Abe Lincoln spinning in his grave. Pretty significant since after certain people tried to steal his body and hold it for ransom, it was placed under tons of rock and concrete.

But then, Abe was always an exceptional man in so many ways. After rogues attempted to steal his body and hold it for ransom–but failed–he was buried beneath the floor of the crypt, reportedly with a hefty load of concrete to prohibit future illegal disinterments. Therefore, his spinning was not nearly as easy as it would be for others in less constricted gravesites.

Nevertheless, it would be nice if you stood for something honest.

More’s the pity.

I Hope We Don’t Go to War

As you know, I am a student of history, particularly the history of war. It is my heartfelt wish that my children, their children, and their grandchildren should never have to face war. My grandfather served in World War I, my father in World War II. During my lifetime there was the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as various other military events, including Grenada, Libya, Syria, and a myriad of others. I served during the first Gulf War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I have son who served 10 years in the Navy and is now in the reserves, so to me this is not merely an academic exercise.

The two wars that keep my attention are the United States Civil War and World War II. As is always the case, the wealthy and powerful decide to go to war while others who bear the burden.

In the 1860’s, many in the North opined that if the South wanted to leave the Union, they should be allowed to. The cannonade of Fort Sumter offshore of Charleston, South Carolina changed that and is considered the single most costly victory in the entire history of warfare.

During the Civil War, a wealthy man could pay someone else to serve in his place and did not need a medical excuse not to serve. Other influential men joined and were commissioned as senior officers regardless of their education or experience. For example, Brigadier General Joseph Davis, with no military training, rose to general because he was the nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; he lost nearly two regiments at Gettysburg.

World War II was a bit different. Having been drawn into World War I, Americans were predisposed to let Europe fend for itself—until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That changed everything. Virtually the entire country threw themselves into supporting the war. Men enlisted and women took over the manufacturing and other duties back home.

Vietnam—some were drafted, some enlisted, some went to Canada, others went to a cooperative doctor for a deferral.

I am not a disinterest party in judging my fellow service men and women from the 80s until and including the 21st century. However, I would proudly serve again with any and all with whom I served with before.

Now to the crux. If we are faced with another crisis, what is my confidence level today? Like during the civil war, we are a country divided. The dividing lines are not geographic—they are philosophic. We could not build our way to victory as we did in the Second World War because we’ve exported our manufacturing. Today, if there was an embargo against the United States, could we even be confident that we could produce our own underwear? I doubt it.

Winter 2022

I grew up in northern Ohio. Winter was not only cold, but if Lake Erie isn’t frozen, as the winds came down through Canada, they pick up water vapor from the lake. When the winds hit land, which is colder, snow forms (often a LOT of snow). This is called lake effect.

I remember winters as being cold, windy, and lots of snow. By cold I mean single digits or lower, although the wind made it feel substantially colder. I worked at the downtown public library during high school, and waiting for the bus at 9:00 PM during the winter was cold, cold, cold.

I now live in Virginia. We rarely get snow here. Before sunset, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit; right now, it’s 39 degrees. Many people down here begin to wear quilted coats, gloves, and scarves about 45 or 50 degrees. I’m not that bad–at least not yet.

However, with all the differences, when I walked outside today, I caught myself thinking, “Yes, it’s winter.” I think it’s the clouds. A winter sky just looks different than any other season’s cloudy sky. I believe it makes me feel colder than I actually am.

Progress

My wife and I went out for lunch today to Abbey Road in Virginia Beach. That may sound like a infinitesimally minor event, but it wasn’t. Most of you know that I have been schwacked and reschwacked by COVID.

Before that, on several occasions, I went off to war without a second thought; I cannot prevent war, or any injury that war might inflict on me, but I can prevent more damage from COVID. As a military officer, I differentiate between the battles I can win and those that are less certain.

Don’t laugh. Knowing what is winnable is important. Longstreet, Lee’s most experienced and savvy officer advised Lee against Pickett’s charge. Lee should have listened.

In any case, I was successful in the wartime assignments to which I was assigned. Up till now, COVID; not so much. Nevertheless, I am now at the point where I can and will once again grab onto my own life.

I had a wonderful day today. I plan on having a wonderful day tomorrow.

As the Klingons say “Today is a good day to die!” It, indeed, could be, but it could also be a great day to live.

Election Shakeups in 2020

Everyone is watching elections-ALL elections to try to determine who will hold the real power after the 2022 elections. Here are my TOP FIVE predictions:

Sally M. will be elected president of the Shreveport PTA, just as she has for the past 12 years.

Jim B. will win, by the tightest of margins, the top Shriner spot.

Kathy Perry, in a surprise upset will win the Ohio Pie Contest, finally passing by Sandra Cain, who had won in the past due to political connections.

Francis X. will be the overwhelming choice for the Knights of Columbus, Grand Knight in Dubuque, Iowa.

Bob Cowznofski, who was featured in Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in Advertising, and, of course, Who Gives a Damn as to Who’s Who, will not be elected to anything, nor even be mentioned in his local newspaper.

Just wait. Next year at this time, you’ll have to admit my prescience.

Count on it.

Parental Advice

Advise our parents gave us, or should have:

  • Don’t run with scissors.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t play with fire.
  • Don’t miss a vaccine.

In mid-March 2020 I began to telecommute in order to avoid COVID-19. Since then, I live a monastic life. I leave the house for medical appointments or to take an occasional ride in the car with my wife and that’s pretty much it. This means that I’ve essentially been homebound for 687 days.

Even with these precautions, somehow, the virus got through before any vaccine was available. I started feeling bad about 11 December 2020 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 17 December. I secluded myself and my wife tried to take care of me. On 30 December 2020, we gave in, she called 911 and I was admitted to the hospital, which at this time had 3 entire wings assigned as COVID wards. I was given every medication that they had any hope for.

At one point, even though I was on oxygen at the highest flow rate, I could not breathe. I was taken to the COVID ICU. I honestly don’t know how long I was in ICU. Eventually, I was back on the COVID ward and on 10 January 2021, I was released.

It has now been over a year. I’m vaccinated and boosted and have not been reinfected. I do not currently have COVID-19. However, in an abundance (overabundance?) of caution, I normally stay at home as an added precaution. Having suffered through COVID-19, I do not want to encounter any of the variations. I hope to avoid COVID’s second cousin twice removed, or any COVID variation.

I repeat, I do not have COVID. However, I do have post-COVID syndrome, which is the damage leftover from when I had it. Damage to my lungs. Damage to my pancreas. Damage to my nervous system and who knows what else.

It is estimated that one out of three who had COVID have post-COVID symptoms. There are indications that even people who had no symptoms from COVID itself can suffer from post-COVID symptoms.

It sucks.

Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. If not to protect yourself, then to protect the neighbor who has had an organ transplant, or a child too young to be vaccinated, or a friend or relative who is immunocompromised.

An Important Message

Honest to God, I received a message from Jesus Christ. Does that make me a prophet? Maybe so.

Don’t laugh at me, or you think I’m lying. I assure you, it isn’t a joke, I’m not lying, and I’m not crazy.

However, it is a message that is for all of us–those in our country and the rest of the world. We need to heed it today.

I’ll admit. I didn’t get it direct–it’s not like Jesus rang my doorbell or called me on the phone. It passed through a number of people before I received it, just like the mail does. That does not dilute its importance. It’s a simple message, but one that could only have come from the Christ.

“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Puzzlers

Here are a few miscellaneous thoughts from my wandering mind.

Marcel Schwantes (INC. Magazine) wrote that 48.5 percent of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. Apparently, the greedy bastards are looking for two things their current beneficent employers are not offering:

  • Higher pay
  • More opportunities

——————————————————————————————————

Through the negotiations of my children over the years, we have 1 dog and 3 cats. I cannot blame them for my parrot, which is mine. All of the animals are each convinced that they are in charge. Some of this is wickedly intentional.

In humans, especially human babies, there is a physiological action called the oral-anal reflex. When you feed a baby, it’s generally followed by a diaper change. Our dog has his own style of oral-anal reflex. Every time I sit down at the table to eat, he immediately goes to the door, whines, and rattles the doorknob with his nose. I think his response is more control-of-humans than anything else.   

Why does it seem like every time I’m at a stop sign or a traffic signal with a right turn on red, there is a 10 – 30 foot hedge blocking my view of oncoming traffic.  

—————————————————————————————————————-

Don’t try to read anything into this, just enjoy.                                

Headlines!

Our local paper is the Virginian-Pilot, which by its title was obviously a compilation at least two separate papers (actually, there were more, but you get the idea). The paper was family owned until 1918 when it was sold to the Tribune Publishing Company, which was purchased by Alden Global Capital. Alden’s media subsidiaries are operated through Digital First Media. And Abraham begot Isaac . . . .

But I digress.

As often happens, local staff writers disappear, and many stories are just cut and pasted from the Associated Press. However, lately, their headline author/editor has shown a wry sense of humor.

With the COVID pandemic continuing ad nauseum (literally as well as figuratively) yesterday’s top headline:

IT’S MASK CONFUSION

Virginia doesn’t see a lot of snow, so when it’s in the forecast, all the meteorologists are on an adrenaline high an try to outpredict each other on doom and gloom. Today’s headline:

On your mark, get set, SNOW!

Now back to our regular depressing news, already in progress.

Rhyming History in Ukraine

Little Green Men (meduza.io)

We used to say that history repeats itself. Today, we tend to think it may be more like rhyming than repeating.

In 2014 and 2015, Ukraine’s computer-controlled utilities began to go on and offline unexpectedly. This has been generally attributed to Russia. Not coincidentally, forces began amassing on the Ukraine border. In February they attacked and by March, the Crimea was annexed by Russia.

The forces, generally referred to at the time as “little green men” did not wear identification on their uniforms but were believed to be Russian Spetsnaz—special forces. This was later confirmed by Retired Russian Admiral Igor Kasayonov. In Russia, the mysterious soldiers were referred to as “polite people.” How quaint.

Today, the Ukraine cyber-system is under attack. Military forces are marshalling on the Russian side of the Ukraine border.

There are a few differences. Putin has shut down REvil, one of Russia’s most notorious cyber hacking organizations and recently destroyed an obsolete satellite, which has resulted in thousands of pieces of debris in low earth orbit, at least 1,500 large enough to be tracked. Each piece, regardless of size, is traveling at nearly 18,000 mph. For comparison, a bullet on earth travels somewhere about 1,700 mph, or less than one-tenth the speed of every single piece of debris.

In the midst of all this, I have two questions and no answers, just guesses. If anyone can answer these, please do so:

  1. Why destroy the satellite and why now?
    The United States, Russia, and China all are known to have this ability, so it didn’t prove a capability. On the other hand, it may make a huge swath of space unusable for orbiting satellites. Or there may be a totally different reason. In any case, the timing is suspect.
  2. Why would Putin be making all these moves now?
    While only Putin knows the answer, there are some suspicions.
    1. The West is in chaos.
    2. The United States is in the most serious chaos—a house divided against itself. There is even talk—frequent talk—of another civil war.
    3. Trump would never tell his devotees to follow Putin. However, so much propaganda that the Oath Keepers, Three-Percenters, etc. believe information that could (and at times did) originate with RT (Russia Today). A proponent could just point to the ideology without crediting the source.

Prior to President Biden, people in the United States responded to, repeated and created disinformation consistent with Russian efforts to confuse and divide us. Biden’s predecessor, and Putin’s number-one-fan, has been out of office for one year—long enough for plausible deniability. Long enough for the apprentice to not have to worry about hearing “You’re fired!” from Putin.

America has never been so weak and so tempting a target.

I hope—I Pray—that I’m totally, completely, and entirely wrong. Unfortunately, I fear that I might be facing the truth.