Links 2/27/2022

The legend of the horned rabbit of the West High Country News

The election for the future of the internet Lowy Institute

Amazon’s $31B ad business, explained Trung Phan, SatPost

The Real Reason the Pandemic Killed Small Restaurants Slate


The Huanan market was the epicenter of SARS-CoV-2 emergence Zenodo (an open-science project commissioned by the EC and hosted by CERN). From the Abstract: “Geographical clustering of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and the proximity of positive environmental samples to live-animal vendors suggest that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.” On the geographical clustering, this GIF is slow to load but worth watching:

This screen provides indrect support for the freeze-thaw-loogie model:

(The long thread I took these tweets from is worth a read. It includes critiques.) The second in a pair of papers:

SARS-CoV-2 emergence very likely resulted from at least two zoonotic events Zenodo. From the Abstract: “We show that the SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity prior to February 2020 comprised only two distinct viral lineages—denoted A and B—with no transitional haplotypes. Novel phylodynamic rooting methods, coupled with epidemic simulations, indicate that these two lineages were the result of at least two separate cross-species transmission events into humans. The first zoonotic transmission likely involved lineage B viruses and occurred in late-November/early-December 2019 and no earlier than the beginning of November 2019, while the introduction of lineage A likely occurred within weeks of the first event. These findings define the narrow window between when SARS-CoV-2 first jumped into humans and when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported. Hence, as with SARS-CoV-1 in 2002 and 2003, SARS-CoV-2 emergence likely resulted from multiple zoonotic events.”

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Repurposing FDA-approved drugs may help combat COVID-19 Medical Xpress. You don’t say.

Repurposing the drug, ivermectin, in COVID-19: toxicological points of view European Journal of Medical Research. From the Abstract: “This narrative reviews the toxicological profile and some potential therapeutic effects of ivermectin. Based on the current dose recommendation, ivermectin appears to be safe with minimum side effects. However, serious questions remain about the effectiveness of this drug in the treatment of patients with COVID-19.”

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SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Variant Transmission Within Households — Four U.S. Jurisdictions, November 2021–February 2022 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. “Multicomponent COVID-19 prevention strategies, including up-to-date vaccination, isolation of infected persons, and mask use at home, are important to reduce Omicron transmission in household settings.” Obviously the time to “let ‘er rip!”

Risk of Long Covid in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 after two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine: community-based, matched cohort study (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “The study sample comprised 3,090 double-vaccinated participants (mean age 49 years, 54% female, 92% white, median follow-up from infection 96 days) and matched control participants. Long Covid symptoms were reported by 294 double-vaccinated participants (prevalence 9.5%) compared with 452 unvaccinated participants (14.6%), corresponding to an aOR for Long Covid symptoms of 0.59 (95% CI: 0.50 to 0.69). There was no evidence of heterogeneity by adenovirus vector versus messenger ribonucleic acid vaccines (p=0.25).” As above.

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Coronavirus FAQ: I’m a one-way masker. What strategy will give me optimal protection? NPR. “One-way masker” now an identity? Lordie. The strategy for “optimal protection” is — hear me out — for everybody to mask. This wouldn’t be so hard to see if so much effort had not been spent on obscuring it. Artwork:

The subtext is clear: As shown by little drops of sweat and a nervous expression, it is now the masked-up who must “live in fear”; or, to generalize slightly, mutualists must live in fear of libertarians. This is clarifying, although I wouldn’t have expected the clarification to have come from the totebag crowd. Or maybe I would!


Xi pursues policy of ‘pro-Russia neutrality’ despite Ukraine war FT

Why China Sees Opportunity in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Politico


Myanmar’s Drone Wars The Diplomat

New report reveals weapons transfers to military junta by UN Member States United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Handy map:

Inside the global drive to fund a revolution in Myanmar Japan Times. And elsewhere in Japan:

Why the West’s state-building practices in Myanmar are part of the problem Frontier Myanmar

The Koreas

I think Mearsheimer would like this thread:

Australia pledges $578 million for surveillance, research in Antarctica Reuters

Ukraine crisis: Japan should discuss Nato-like nuclear weapons sharing, Shinzo Abe says South China Morning Post

New Not-So-Cold War

Russian troops enter Ukraine’s 2nd-largest city, press ports Associated Press. Kharkiv.

Massive explosions light up Kyiv sky as Russian forces assault capital Axios

Ukraine Conflict Update 9 Institute for the Study of War. Handy map:

This is the best wrap-up I’ve found — readers? — but the map and the prose seem somewhat at odds in tone.

Ukraine rejects Russian offer of talks in Belarus Reuters

Russia vetoes UN Security action on Ukraine as China, India abstains Al Arabiya

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Coming to terms with the nuclear risks of the Ukraine war Responsible Statecraft

Understanding World War III Contraspin. From 2016. Highly germane.

Ukraine’s Azov Battallion and Right Sector are the real deal, not cosplay:

News you can use:

A tweet storm that would get this account instantly banned in the “wrong” context.

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Lambert here: I’m no kind of brain genius at finding fake photos. I think fake photos are so easy for me to find because they’re pervasive.

A Prayer for Volodymyr Zelensky Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

Symbol Manipulation (1): How Volodymyr Zelensky found his roar The Economist. The deck: “A man who used to entertain the nation has become its voice.” Of course, he had help:

Symbol Manipulation (2): Remember this photo from yesterday?

It’s from 2016:

Nice use of the Rule of Thirds on that flag.

Symbol Manipulation (3): Molotov cocktails:

If you want to report, instead of producing heart-tugging images, you’ll use a wide-angle lens to maximize context — for example, all the other photographers, how many people are really involved, the venue, etc. Molotov cocktails are photogenic tools for asymmetric warfare, and still have some military effectiveness, if skillfully used.

Symbol Manipulation (4): Remember Freedom Fries?

I hope YouTube cleans up this content pronto. It’s unconscionable:

Scammy Instagram ‘war pages’ are capitalizing on Ukraine conflict Input

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Russian Labor Confederation Demands Peace in Ukraine Common Dreams. Now waiting for the AFL-CIO to show international solidarity with these Russian workers.

How to Talk to Kids About Ukraine NYT. “Appease their concerns while taking them seriously.”

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I’m going to run this again because it’s so worth listening to if you haven’t. Presumanbly YouTube won’t censor a talk given on Alumni Weekend at the University of Chicago:

A tour de force of realism. If you have the sense that our national security is being run by child-like entities driven by bad ideas, playground grudges, and hysteria…. That’s because it is.

There is no such thing as Russian public opinion EconLib. Or “public opinion” generally. Hmm.

Biden Adminstration

Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine Reuters

Supply Chain

The Arab Spring correlated to rising food prices, so hold on to your hats:

Our Famously Free Press

You furnish the pictures, we’ll erase the pandemic:

The Intelligence Community

The CIA and the New Dialect of Power American Affairs. “‘We are Breetish,’ they say. ‘ We don’t got no bloody dealect.'” –William Burroughs, Naked Lunch: The Restored Text.

Groves of Academe

Letter in Support of Prof. Liora Halperin Google Docs. Adminstrators don’t want funding pulled?

Class Warfare

Oligarchs are only bad if they’re not on our team:

This dude is the Senior Ethics Fellow at POGO, who’ve done great work on defense spending, including the F-35, so you see how virulent the current outbreak of brainworms is.

It’s Tough to Build a Corporate Culture in a Remote-Work World Wired. Correct. Your genuine hands-on corporate culture is for proles essential workers, not for WFHers.

Dairy in the Americas: How Colonialism Left Its Mark on the Continent Sentient Media

Useful reminder:

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Darius

      This one and yesterdays link to the wolf antidote from two days ago. I love crows. I want to save the picture.

  1. Louis Fyne

    Ironically Ukraine is Osama bin Laden’s last laugh from the ocean. As 9/11 set off the neocon-neoliberal obsession w/starting new wars while being stuck in a 21 y.o. quagmire.

    If you look at video of US troops sent to Poland, their equipment is still painted sand beige! The Pentagon planners haven’t bothered to have appropriate paint in stock.

    Further irony, Russia uses Obama’s Syrian war as a lab for new weapons and tactics. Supposedly nearly every Russian pilot has flown combat missions in Syria. And of course what is a key part of the Syrian war? …urban warfare and fighting an opponent who is entrenched among a civilian population.

    1. ArvidMartensen

      What the US has been doing in the Ukraine for a couple of decades has one goal – to re-take Russia. The US semi-took over Russia briefly when the alcoholic Yeltsin was in charge, but Putin took back control and so they hate Putin.
      So the US long game looks something like this.
      1. Goad Putin into attacking Ukraine (tick)
      2. Allow Putin to take over Ukraine by keeping US and NATO troops out of Ukraine, or at best, give Zelenskyy a token support
      3. Once Putin has won Ukraine, keep funneling weapons and money to the Nazi guerrilla network in Ukraine (which the CIA took over from the Nazis at the end of WW2).
      4.Use the Nazi network in Ukraine to create a civil war, killing and bombing military and civilian targets wantonly. Perhaps the guerrillas also attack Russian towns near the border. This is same tactical playbook the US used in Syria, using ISIS to weaken and depose Assad (ongoing but being thwarted by Russia)
      5. Trap Russia into staying in a Ukrainian morass that it can neither win nor leave to fester because it is an existential threat to Russia.
      6. Let the Ukraine bleed Russia dry economically and militarily over a year or three.
      7. As Russia weakens, start a color revolution in Russia, which overthrows Putin
      8. Take over Russia through a coup, with a proxy head of state subservient to US interests.
      9. Take charge of the Russian oil and gas reserves in the Arctic
      10. Take over Syria and its oilfields, now that Russia has been neutralised
      11. Subsume Russia and Ukraine into NATO. Take over all of the Russian nuclear weapons.
      12. Start a new guerrilla campaign in a country bordering China.

      1. Robert Dudek

        That’s a pretty dumb plan, considering #5 will not happen. Better plan is to wait for Putin to die.

        1. JBird4049

          I don’t know near enough to say anything about this plan except that the people in the American regime (State Department, the Security State, oligarchs, contractors, PNAC remnants, etc) would probably think this a genius plan. Remember, the United States has been overthrowing, invading, assassinating, bombing, mass murdering, etc. just about everywhere for centuries. Why wouldn’t the egotistical, credentialed pinheads think differently this time?

      2. Polar Socialist

        Isn’t #4 what has been going on in Ukraine for the last 8 years? Obviously the country is perfectly capable of running a bloody civil war on it’s own.

        Maybe next 8 years the New Ukrainian Army will be bombarding enclaves of resistance in the West Ukraine?

        What is often forgotten is that 25%-40% of the invasion forces are Ukrainians pushing out of LNR and DNR and fighting literally on their home turf. Simplifying a lot one could say that in the North it’s an invasion, pure and simple, but in the East and South it’s still the civil war of 2014.

      3. Felix_47

        I served two tours in Afghanistan on the ground and two tours in Iraq. In both cases, as the Russians were instructed as well, we did our best to avoid killing civilians. The Russians in this case attacked only military facilities at first. As the civilians became more heavily armed in Iraq and Afghanistan the young testosterone fueled crowd started hitting our troops and killing and maiming quite a few. At that point our troops looked at every civilian as a threat and it was shoot first ask questions later just like in Minneapolis, Baltimore, LA, or Chicago. With a heavily armed civilian population the same thing is going to happen in Ukraine. The Russian units will lose a lot of men. Their buddies will be scared to death and it will be kill or be killed vs. civilians just like in Baghdad, Falluja, or Kandahar or South Central LA. So if anyone cares about a single Russian or Ukrainian life we have to make a decision. If we think Russia is going to take over Ukraine sending the mass of weapons we have sent and will sent is sentencing thousands, perhaps hundred of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians to death or permanent disabilitiy with no gain to anyone…..just like AFG and Iraq or South Central LA or Baltimore or Michoacan. Give young men weapons and they will use them. If we really think it would be a world disaster for Ukraine to be a neutral country out of NATO the only life saving option would be for the US to put boots on the ground…a lot of them and consider a draft and occupy Ukraine no matter what the cost. Veterans of WW2, including my wife’s dad, who fought in Ukraine, said the toughest fighting was with the partisans because they are uncontrolled and unpredictable just like the teenagers of Falluja or Baghdad or Baltimore or Detroit and as a practical matter the Taliban were unorganized partisans as well. Sending masses of weapons that will be used on Russian troops but that will not change the final outcome is morally reprehensible in Ukraine. Look at what sending US military hardware has done to policing in the US and Mexico. And if the Ukraine turns into a blood bath like Falluja the chances of a nuclear war increase exponentially as the Russians are backed into a corner. They know exactly who sent the weapons or made sure the weapons were sent. It may be the long term goal of the US to trigger regime change in Russia and if that becomes a real threat nuclear war is on the table. So it appears the Biden administration, led by a draft dodger who has stupidly overruled the military already once in his term with many good soldiers killed, is choosing the most dangerous possible approach to the problem just as he chose the most dangerous way to evacuate Kabul. And ArvidM is outlining it to a degree. The fact that we could stop this by simply minding our own business and not expanding NATO eliminates any moral standing the US has. There was no good faith negotiation with Russia. It may be that the administration is sending a message to China by doing this hoping to prevent a takeover of Taiwan. That message will be heard and if acted on we can expect that Russia and China will move away from the dollar to the Yuan. The Yuan has depreciated 0.1% in the last year while the dollar has depreciated somewhere around 7 percent or more. War is unforgiving and unpredictable. I do not have the feeling that the Blinken Biden Harris HRC Buttigieg team has any idea what they are doing. I did think Obama did. He refused to send weapons to Ukraine until the end of his administration presumably at the request of Biden who was in charge of Ukraine as a practical matter. No one would pay Hunter Biden the money he got for any service other than access to the proconsul. The Ukrainians in my family are not stupid and do not waste money. It is not in the culture.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          The West/US seem to be definitely pre-loading the Ukrainian population with lethal weapons in readiness for a long term guerrilla war (Steps 3,4)
          And as you say, arming the young hotheads creates the environment where the Russians treat all of the population as enemies, thereby making them into enemies in the end.
          The only thing different here is that this war is on Russia’s doorstep and so they will have more military flexibility than they did in Afghanistan, in getting troops in and supply chains etc.
          And the Russians are proven experts at building good walls that keep people and goods in and people and goods out. Maybe a big wall along the border to Poland etc might flow down the flow of arms.
          I think Yves calls Russia an autarky? which means they can go a whiles just living off everything they already have in Russia without needing the hostile outside world?
          The next week will tell us what the US has in mind. I don’t hold any store by the “peace talks” which are probably just diversions.

  2. ArkansasAngie

    “mutualists must live in fear of libertarians.”
    So … do maskers have a right to force libertarians to mask up?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Do you believe in the germ theory of transmission? If so, I thought the “libertarians,” i.e. Propertarians, stipulate that one is free to do as one wishes as long as it doesn’t harm another. Going unmasked in indoor spaces risks exhaling virus into the air and harming others.

      That is, if you believe in the germ theory of disease transmission.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The cartoon says the mask is “to keep me and my fam safe”. I take that to mean wearing a mask protects the masked person from others. However as you note, weren’t we all told that the primary reason for wearing a mask is to prevent the wearer from inadvertently infecting other people? I rarely that mentioned any more. Maybe I’m just confused, but the prevailing wisdom does seem to have switched on who is being protected by masking. Just one of many official inconsistencies over the last couple years.

        1. ProNewerDeal

          IIRC studies from NC daily links showed that N95/KN95 type masks do provide significant “2-way” protection to both the wearer and the other person.

          Even with N95/KN95 it is risk reduction, not risk elimination. But the risk reduction reduces viral load exposed to where the N95 wearer is less likely to get infected or if infected would have a milder non-hospitalization-causing infection.

          I like to analogize that reduced say 90% viral load reduction like drinking 2 beers which over time may increase long-term health risks like cancer risk slightly, vs 20 beers which risks alcohol intoxication death. But a Biomedical Pro could Fact Check me here on if my Folk Wisdom analogy here is appropriate.

          Also inferior masks like surgical masks or worse face coverings, may be better than no masks, but do not provide sufficient protection, at least against the highly infectious currently predominant Omicron variant or prior Delta variant.

          1. Darius

            It would be great if everyone was wearing a mask. But, of course, this is USA! USA!, where everyone can be a star in their own little drama, so forget it. In the absence of that, it now is widely known to anyone paying attention that N95 masks provide robust protection for the wearer. I still wouldn’t want to spend eight hours in a poorly vented room with a bunch of strangers or casual acquaintances.

        2. Basil Pesto

          It’s both. Plain surgical/cloth masks offer a degree of ‘source control’ (stop you from infecting others) by impeding the norma flow of aerosol-flecked gas from your mouth (as I understand it) but respirators will do that and a better job of protecting you yourself. Of course, the argument could be made that it’s the latter that most actually care about.

      2. ProNewerDeal

        I do find it strange that IRL the low fraction of people that still indoor public building N95 mask. Especially if under the influence of alcohol or hopium – eg bar/restaurant/sports stadiums/church become an illogical some people that mask otherwise at the grocery/etc drop their guard as if Covid does not exist at these settings. I hope that my IRL anecdata is not represenative of the Murican public, but I fear it is.

        This includes acquaintances I would have guesstimated would still indoor mask but do not, such as an experienced GenX nurse with a BS Biology degree.

    2. lambert strether

      So… Do non-smokers have the right to force smokers not to smoke their cancer sticks in everybody else’s air?

      1. John Zelnicker

        “So… Do non-smokers have the right to force smokers not to smoke their cancer sticks in everybody else’s air?”

        Yes, given the prohibitions on smoking in business establishments, public transportation, government buildings, etc.

        As a life long smoker, I don’t mind the prohibitions at all. I prefer not to subject others to the dangers of my bad habits.

        However, with smoking the dangers are widely accepted and enforcement of the rules rarely elicits an emotional (violent) response. Although the dangers of transmitting COVID are well documented, as well as the effective mitigations, there is a large cohort that doesn’t seem to accept the evidence.

        I don’t remember the early years of smoking prohibitions very well, but I don’t recall anything like the violence, and widespread refusal to obey the rules, whether imposed by governments or private business. It was a different time.

        This makes enforcement a much more difficult proposition. Sadly, I believe the CDC and other government agencies are responsible for the lack of acceptance of the evidence (as you and NC have documented so well).

        I don’t have a solution, but I sure would like to see more people masked-up.

        1. fresno dan

          John Zelnicker
          February 27, 2022 at 10:29 am
          I remember a televized debate on the “new” cigarette smoking restriction rules – some TV “conservative” “debating” some “liberal” anti smoker activist, and the “conservative” lighting up a cigarette, and the activist taking his glass of water and pouring it over the conservative and his cigarette. Hilarity ensued.
          As I recall, there was lots of debate, smoking ban enforcement was sporadic and inconsistent, but public policy was set, and now a days NOT smoking indoors is well accepted. And the rules have evolved – In CA one can’t smoke in one’s own apartment now (second hand smoke – really not much debate).
          Except I just got back from Las Vegas – hadn’t been there in 20 years, and I was surprized that smoking in casinos still occurs. Of course, the marijuana smell outside as you walked down Fremont street was almost overwhelming, which considered this was outside, really said something about the quantity of hast being smoked… but my recollection is kinda a cloudy…probably from inhaling deeply…

          But back on point, if pubic officials wanted masking, there would be masking. With smoking, it never evolved into a “pollitical” issue – it was public health, and a political faction decided not to die on that hill (pun intended).

          1. expr

            1st surgeon generals report 1964, Congress bans smoking ads on TV 1969 (could they do that now?) that is 5 years. Perhaps in 5 years we can ban people unmasked on TV or something

        2. Joe Well

          I am guessing you are under 30 and live in a place that got smoking bans early.

          There was and is massive resistance within the first few years of the bans. I remember very clearly in New York the smoking continuing in bars until pretty far into the 2000s despite stiff fines for the bar owners. There were at least a few NYT articles about it.

          I have been to many places in the world where indoor smoking bans are new and people are stretching the definition of indoors to include vestibules.

          In Boston I have even seen smoking on indoor subway platforms (banned for decades because of fire risk) int he past year.

          In short, no matter the law, social consensus, or widely recognized harms, some people are horrible excuses for human beings.

          1. John Zelnicker

            Joe Well – No, I’m 72 years old. I said I don’t remember the early years very well. Did you read all of my comment?

        3. BeliTsari

          I remember “having to go, smoke outside” in Napa, a lifetime ago (for us) and discovering everysomeotherbody smoking dope! When I’d first moved to UWS Manhattan, you’d have strangers sneak up to “bum a smoke,” out front; it were COOL, at first. ALL media, foistng only didactic nudges, to exemplify sneering, nanny-state libruls, was obviously a Hill+Knowlton agitprop schtick; first used conditioning denial about that last comet strike? It’s funny to watch neighbors falling for the same gags about Putin, COVID and why bailing-out 45-60yr old reactors with bogus parts and fracking 1.9 million wells is not a lot different than kids vectoring Omicron?

      2. lyman alpha blob

        To take it a step further, do pedestrians have a right to force drivers off the road so as not to inhale damaging air pollution as they walk through a city?

        1. juno mas

          Well, that has occurred in California; by making IC engines more and more efficient and cleaner.
          If you don’t drive a car (pedestrian) then you don’t pay the gas tax that funds state air resources board that monitors and restricts polluters.

          The danger of cars to pedestrians is actually their size, speed, and inattentive driver.

      1. Ken Murphy

        Life will be the death of us all, without exception. Blaming death on libertarians who don’t live the life the way you want them to live is profoundly offensive. Especially given how pathetically few libertarians there are in the U.S. I guess everyone needs a boogeyman they can other.

        FWIW, I mask up when I’m sick (and have for several decades); I don’t when I’m not. Your fear is not my burden to be borne every day.

    3. Alphonse

      This is bad framing. But this is impossible to see if you are laser focused on health outcomes as the only criterion for policy. If you want to understand why people oppose masks, you need to be open to other priorities.

      First: When a significant chunk of the population have been expelled from the community, it’s not a question of mutualists vs libertarians: it’s a question of those within the circle of the community and those without. The vaccine mandates pushed a lot of people outside the circle. It’s kind of hard to argue that they should share a sense of mutual responsibility to those who have denied the same to them.

      Second: “Rights” framing is harmful. We need to find practical ways to work together in society. The idea of inviolable rights makes negotiation and compromise impossible. Here is John Gray in Enlightenment’s Wake:

      The creation of group or collective rights is probably the worst form of the legalism that has supplanted the traditional ideal of toleration . . . Founding policy in areas where our society harbours radically divergent conceptions of the good on a legalist model of rights may be injurious to society even when the rights are ascribed to individuals. To make a political issue that is deeply morally contested a matter of basic rights is to make it non-negotiable, since rights – at least as they are understood in the dominant contemporary schools of Anglo-American jurisprudence – are unconditional entitlements, not susceptible to moderation. Because they are peremptory in this way, rights do not allow divisive issues to be settled by a legislative compromise: they permit only unconditional victory or surrender.

      Third: The claim that anti-maskers are simply libertarian is ignorant. The issue of masking is deeply morally contested. For example, here is an argument that masks attack empathy, harming social relationships and opening up society to authoritarianism:

      masks are a hack, in the most literal, computer-sciency sense of the word. They’re meant to get inside that higher-level homeostasis of individual rights, and care of community, that higher v-Meme, and BRING IT DOWN. . . . mostly, masks homogenize and make folks feel depressed. They can’t have a higher level of emotional affect. They can’t recognize individuals. They obviously can’t understand sarcasm, or irony, or all those other human communication signals that are so important for conveying nuance. Or really, independently generated affinity and love. . . . masks — the ultimate low empathy hack — came to the fore for what they actually did best — a tool of relational disruption. It certainly wasn’t stopping COVID. You can’t go to church without one. You can’t let your kids go to school without them on. You can’t go into a restaurant without one on, until, of course, you sit down at a table and immediately take one off. And on and on. What an easily identifiable badge of In-group/Out-group low empathy conformance. Masks turned into a memetic virus

      If you listen to people who are against masking, they echo many of these points about the recognition of faces (especially by children), affect, and so on. These are not libertarian arguments.

      As I’ve suggested before, I suspect that the freedom most protesters in the Freedom Convoy cared about most was the freedom to socialize and belong to a community. In Ottawa they sang together, danced together, played together and prayed together. We in the laptop set may espouse communitarian values, but in practice we are often happy to cocoon in isolation. In practice, we are far more individualistic than churchgoing protesters.

      Fourth: There is a distinction between the efficacy of masks and of mask mandates. Many of the critiques of masks use aggregate statistics finding that mandates had no effect. But that doesn’t mean masks don’t work. Similarly, just because we have evidence that masks work does not mean that mandates help, or that the benefit exceeds the costs to social cohesion and trust.

      I shouldn’t have to say this, but many people judge arguments by who makes them, so: I think masks work and wear a respirator when I’m not cocooning.

      1. Yves Smith

        I don’t buy these arguments about seeing faces at all. Japan, which places FAR FAR FAR more importance on non-verbal cues in communication than the West, not only has had masking in schools but even called for masking at home during surges. Japanese also describe their communications as “wet” as in with more emotional content, than Western “dry” oververbalization.

        In other words, this is bad unproven pop psychology.

        And you do not have evidence that the people who are making these arguments are not libertarians. They boil down to, “I have a right to raise my children my way, the hell with schools, I think the schools are wrong and I can make/make up an argument my kids are being damaged” and “I want to go to church and sing or go out and enjoy a nice meal, the hell with the risk my good time represents to others.”

        1. Alphonse

          My core point: sweeping stereotypes of anti-maskers as libertarian, selfish, etc. are inaccurate and socially harmful.

          I think the Japan argument is pop psych. The science of masks and affect seems to be an open question. The idea that people are bad because they are mistaken about science is pernicious. The real point is that people being wrong about science (if in fact they are) says nothing about their character.

          I follow a bunch of anti-maskers on Twitter. A significant contingent seem to be PMC (it’s Twitter) mothers with what until recently would have been considered left-wing views who have been appalled at the impact of masking on their kids lives’ in schools. They do not make the kinds of arguments that you ascribe to them.

          Some characteristic quotes from a quick search of people I follow:

          every single thing on the list is made worse by dehumanization, which the masks contribute to

          Is it just me or do people wearing masks almost never say “good morning” or thank you for holding doors open anymore? The way we interact with one another has changed so fundamentally that I cannot comprehend how anyone could believe this is minor or a net benefit.

          It was the first day of no masks outside at school today, and seeing my son’s huge grin as he ran towards me was priceless.

          By some estimates, plastic in the world’s oceans could outweigh fish by 2050, a problem masks will only exacerbate. (a left-wing environmentalist)

          I do not have a disability but I can’t wear masks either. They put me in an extreme state of stress and anxiety, especially in a masked up crowded space.

          You cannot repair decades of poor health, sporadic access to appropriate healthcare, & nutrition by slapping a piece of cloth on a toddler’s face.

          Of all the times I’ve been demoralized by the masks, maybe the past week has been the worst. Some people love them and they’ve finally fully incorporated them into the reflexive part of their being. It’s a routine. Faces traded away for mythical dreams forever, without regret.

          Other things I have seen/heard on Twitter: Kid comes home, says something wonderful happened today: I saw my friend’s unmasked face for the first time. Video of kindergarten erupting in celebration when mask mandate ends. Video of two-year old crying and taking mask off over and over as daycare workers keeps putting it back on.

          You basically claim it all boils down to selfishness. I think it’s clear that is simply a negative stereotype. It does not describe most of what I am seeing.

          My biggest concern with the pandemic is not health. It is social disintegration: polarization, hatred, othering, segregation. I am not making an argument against the health benefits of masks: I am arguing against the stereotyping of people who oppose them. People in echo chambers find it easy to pigeon-hole and dismiss those who disagree with them without ever understanding their point of view. This is tearing us apart.

          1. Yves Smith

            First, you have no idea of the pre-existing ideological leanings of these women. And if they worry about masks and not about having their kids use electronic devices at a young age, they are simply hypocrites. And I doubt they do.

            The Democrats made not masking a reward. The Democratic elite have been flat out hypocrites, regularly going to events not wearing masks while the help does.

            Children in Japan and China wore masks en masse during the pandemic. I see no evidence of any one there complaining about loss of social skills in children, and even less any evidence it was happening. And if these mothers don’t get that getting Covid does more long term damage to their kids than it does to adults (more immune system aging), they aren’t taking proper care of their kids. The notion they are wrapping themselves in the mantle of being good mothers while putting their kids and others at risk is deeply offensive.

            Teachers also report that kids even here in the US are way better about masking than the parents, so how can you be sure the mask-resistant kids aren’t acting out of parental signaling?

            And yes, this is “Oh this might harm my precious child’s psyche, the hell with others”. So it is profoundly selfish.

          2. bsun

            Which psychological harm do you think would be greater for a child: the alienation of not being able to see their friend’s face at school, or the trauma of getting infected in a school setting with no mitigations and subsequently infecting their vulnerable grandparents or other family members? One of my coworkers, the sole breadwinner in his household, is immunocompromised; what long-term psychological effect would you expect for his children if they brought COVID into his home and then he died, or even just ended up on a ventilator? How big a grin do you think their unmasked faces will have once their family’s income is gone because he isn’t able to work?

            All of these oh-the-poor-children anti-masker arguments assume that there is no psychological or emotional harm done by the pandemic itself, that it ALL comes from the measures that we take to mitigate it. If there indeed is some real emotional harm done by having to wear a mask, then in my opinion we simply need to weigh that against the emotional harms that might ensue if we abandon masking.

        2. Basil Pesto

          In other words, this is bad unproven pop psychology.

          Yes that has been my conclusion for some time. In fact I’ve probably been less charitable. It always had the whiff of “throw out rationalisations against wearing masks and see what sticks”. Somewhat unsurprisingly, pedophrasty proved something of a winner.

  3. Louis Fyne

    PS to the Twitter-sphere, Stolichnaya vodka is made in Latvia. IIRC, the western Stoli brand split apart from Russia in 1917.

    Inside Russia there is another Stolichnaya. Both sides claim that they are the original Stoli.

    1. Wukchumni

      Similar to Budweiser and Budweis, the former having more of the consistency of horse piss from a steed that only ate rice.

    2. cazadero hills person

      Russian Stoli is much much better than the western Stoli. I’m not even a drinker of alcohol but the Russian version was irresistible, smooth without a burn. After returning to the states and eagerly buying some in the local market, I found it completely undrinkable.
      My 2 cents.

    3. Eclair

      I melting down my samovar and donating metal to the war effort.

      Also banning use of Russian oil, gas and fertilizer in our house.

      We drink only genuine Swedish O.P. Andersson aquavit. All the kick of vodka but with anise flavor.

  4. Steve H.

    Ukraine, two things:

    : There’s a lot of commentary about this being opportunistic on Russia’s part, as responses to short and medium term stimuli, and a resurgence of Russian nationalism. John Robb has been pursuing a frame more in line with ‘nations v civilizations’, as a reassemblage of the body politic of Russia as a culture. (Here’s a podcast if you’ve got 45 minutes.)

    Given the dual novel catastrophes of global warming and global information flows, I don’t think this is just a land grab. I think it’s the annealing of a cultural identity necessary to carry them through the coming foreseeable instabilities. That’s the existential imperative. The End of the End of History must incorporate the recent experiences of the people into their mythology.

    : > #Dnipro crowds of women spent Saturday making Molotov cocktails.

    Please look at these lovely young ladies heading for a night on the town. See the line of revellers in the background. They’re making a delivery to the Trade Unions Building. Odessa, 2014.

    1. Morgan

      Joe Biden thanks the gods that now there’s a major distraction from inflation,
      a dismal economic future for most people under 30, (unless they speak Spanish and are willing to work for $10 hr. in 2021 dollars),
      the collapse of much of urban America’s small businesses,
      an environmental disaster he’s promoting with more oil and gas leases,
      a reality that is 180 degrees from every.single.campaign.promise.

      1. jsn

        Major new cause of inflation.

        This will cascade through the system in unpredictable ways. If it gets stabilized soon, just a jolt, if China and Russia take it upon themselves to reciprocate economic acts of war, it will be the biggest inflation since OPEC.

        Interestingly, if it’s not to become the trigger for a US general collapse, it seems to me Biden/Fed are going to need to distribute a lot of money to the proles somehow, which, if it happens will take a lot of the sting out of debt. If Biden/Fed doesn’t do this, it looks like a financial collapse as defaults skyrocket.

      2. rhodium

        I don’t know if anyone fully knows Putin’s motives, but within the context of what went on in Syria over the past decade and the European energy crisis, and the American political obsession that goes on in the minds of certain Washington elites with justifying our military’s existence… I’d have to guess that this is mostly just Putin trying to maintain regional influence with Russia’s energy stranglehold as well as a certain amount of paranoia about the whole Ukraine/NATO issue. Altogether, he has more reason to invade Ukraine than we did to invade Vietnam.

        As much as I despise the violence, I feel like I almost despise more the patriotic hypocrisy of Americans when it comes to this whole thing. We can’t be self-righteous about our approach to this and the aim should purely be about peace, in which case we should have been putting our money to helping Europe establish energy independence years ago by helping develop renewable energy technology rather than just ceaselessly baiting Russia and pouring funding into the military.

        Also, yes, I’m sure it has not been lost on the Biden administration that this all distracts from issues like the raging inflation in the U.S. and ever increasing income inequality as nearly 15 years of Federal Reserve policy is now hitting the end of the road where we pay for it one way or another.

  5. Blindness

    Anecdote from Germany: had conversation yesterday and we really never got past the Putin-Hitler-trope. 8 years of bombing of Donetsk was not even to be discussed.
    I see a large war coming up. There no sane minds out there that oppose escalation. People could see the pre-Iraq bullshit but now… just insane.

    1. Carolinian

      What’s double depressing about this whole episode is that our media have been in war propaganda mode for the last 20 years–the now almost forgotten “war on terror”–and therefore it’s impossible to know what’s really going on because honest sites like this one depend on media reports for information that one can then parse “between the lines.” On saker site yesterday they talked about how the Russians have no propaganda operation to speak of and think they should be secretive about their operations. But even if that weren’t true the new embrace of censorship in the US and various poodles would likely keep us from hearing their side. Seems, as with Covid, we’ll know what it was all about when it’s over. Here’s hoping that’s soon.

      1. fresno dan

        February 27, 2022 at 8:29 am
        45 years ago, the US had a serious and critical look at what the CIA did. Nowadays, CIA directors are paid employees of the MSM.
        As per Chomsky and Manufacturing Consent, 20 years after a MAJOR debacle in the mid east, we are ready for another go round. Even Carlson and Trump are falling in line.
        If our elites wanted health care for every American, we would have it. But the propaganda goliath is only for the benefit of the elite, and the elite views the masses only as canno fodder…

      2. ACPAL

        Taking a broader perspective, as Putin said this is about Russian security. Putin said he wants security for all, including Russia. The US refused to acknowledge Russia’s right to security meaning the US believes that Russia has no right to exist.

        As the great imperialist power it is, the US sees Russian (which has no right to exist or to own anything) as a treasure trove for the taking. For decades the US has been encircling and inching closer to Russia’s borders. Eventually the US would take Russia one way or the other. This is the future Putin saw. He had to either accept Russia’s fate or at some point fight back. He chose to make a stand in Ukraine.

        The US, by itself and through it’s vassals, is already taking Russia’s foreign money, one ship has already been taken, and I’m sure some of the folks in DC are already dividing up Russia and deciding who will get the various parts.

        Compared to the US’s military adventures the Ukraine fight is minor but the US (and its minions) treat it as a dastardly deed of colossal proportions. Of course, if Russia has no right to exist then it has no right to fight back and must be demonized and destroyed.

        So, for Russia/Putin this is an existential fight. For the US this is an opportunity to destroy Russia’s legitimacy. For the non-Western aligned countries this fight will determine their own fates. For Western aligned countries (aka vassals, minions, colonies) this will determine whether they have any say in their own lives or whether they become mere subjects of the US Empire.

    2. Louis Fyne

      yes, very concerning. especially as the loudest voices, the NPR-NYT class, will bear zero physical sacrifice and marginal material sacrifice.

      no skin in the game-insanity at a national level.

    3. timbers

      Very depressing story. And I do thank you, because I don’t follow corporate conglomerate fake news but I suspected that is what is going on.

      I don’t follow Western fake news and haven’t for many years now. This is because around 2008, I believed if I talked to my friends about all the fake news (that term didn’t exist then so obviously I didn’t use that term) that their minds could be changed. I believed this would be true, because at the time Democrats despised GWB and I mistakenly thought it was largely because Iraq War. Then when Obama did many of the same things as GWB, I was sure if I pointed those actions out, Democrats would realize Obama was doing what he should not.

      But that’s not what happened. I was ridiculed, told to stop watching Fox, unfriended, and told I was a Republican. And now? Honestly I have no clue what can be done against the US Fake News Complex.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Indeed, this was the “reality based community”. LOL. When I realized the truth, as you did, I developed a deep loathing of these kinds of people.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, as did I (develop a deep loathing of these kinds of people).

          I literally had that same experience, of saying, look, it was bad when Dubya spied on us without warrants, and it is bad now that Snowden has revealed Obama is doing it, too.

          It became clear to me over the course of the 2010s that many people who declaimed “War is NOT the answer!” most passionately, and hated W. most fervently, didn’t hate the terrible things Dubya et al. were doing — they hated that it wasn’t a Democrat doing them. It was illuminating, in the same way the ending of Animal Farm is.

    4. Donald

      I think Putin’s invasion is morally and pragmatically wrong— he has almost certainly created intense hatred in millions of Ukrainians. I am not going to say “ all Ukrainians” because I have no idea how they all feel, especially Russian speakers, but it is just a given that invasions create hatred against the invader. I don’t doubt that we are getting a lot of garbage reporting in the press and one- sided demonizing, but the burden of proof is on the invader to demonstrate that he isn’t a war criminal. That was the leftwing argument against the Iraq invasion. Saddam was undoubtedly a bad guy and the claim was he would become a threat to us. You don’t get to invade because of that.

      That said, I too have experienced the insanity amongst Westerners. At a blog I often visit which normally is completely apolitical, the Ukrainian Nazi thing came up. That in itself is significant— nobody ever mentions politics except around Covid. I linked an article from 2018 from the mainstream press saying it was a genuine problem. I might as well have said nothing because more comments came in talking as though Ukrainian Nazis were nonexistent. People have argued that there was no oppression of Russians and no Nazi problem because Zelensky is a Jewish Russian speaker. That’s the level of the debate.

      And then there is the whataboutism trope, where you get to shut down perfectly legitimate and morally necessary demonstrations of grotesque hypocrisy by yelling “ whataboutism”. For the past seven years we have been helping the Saudis murder children in Yemen. We are also creating famine in Afghanistan. Both of these things are happening right now and the most moral outrage you can ever see on either subject is the occasional news story and then it goes away for weeks or months. I would be interested in knowing how many people who are outraged at Putin are also outraged at Biden, Obama, or even Trump for their war crimes. ( Very little of the liberal outrage at Trump was about Yemen.) The percentage has to be very very small. And there is no self reflection on this that I can see. Safety in numbers.

      The NYT said that Putin is responsible for every death in this war. I can’t recall them ever saying that about all the American politicians in both parties who supported the Iraq invasion.

      Last bit of my rant— there is an assumption amongst such people that democracies as they actually exist don’t commit war crimes as bad as those of dictatorships. It is false and self serving. Politically aware PMC types mostly line up with one Party or the other and there is a strong emotional need to ignore or deny responsibility for the crimes committed by the person they support. In plain English, Biden and Trump voters don’t want to admit their guy is a war criminal. I voted for Biden myself. Lesser evil voting, but the evil is real.

      1. Pate

        “Last bit of my rant— there is an assumption amongst such people that democracies as they actually exist don’t commit war crimes as bad as those of dictatorships.”

        Aren’t you assuming the US is a “democracy”? Democracy Theater, yes. Some, for example Sheldon Wolin, claim it to be something other – inverted totalitarianism.

        “One party or the other” = Mearsheimer’s “tweedledee, tweedledum”

        1. Donald

          That’s why I said democracies as they actually exist. I don’t know if the genuinely good kind exists somewhere.

      2. Carolinian

        I didn’t vote, and to me a choice between Biden and Trump (just as bloodthirsty in his way) is no choice at all. We Americans are also trapped as Putin evidently felt he was pre invasion. And if he is condemned by history it looks like he is willing to accept that. Meanwhile our elites are much bigger villains, and any honest history will surely condemn them. The speed with which this happens will probably depend on just how big a disaster Biden and Blinken have concocted.

        1. lance ringquist

          its the rules based economy nafta billy clinton created, “FREE TRADE.”

          its a economy where the rich dictate, whats mine is mine, whats yours is mine.

          russia has seen this before many many times, and most sane russians want nothing to do with it.

          what the central europeans fascists in the 1930’s was really about was resurrecting free trade, where they got to call the shots, not france and great briton.

        2. Massinissa

          I voted Green myself. Quixotic to do so, but not voting would have made me feel bad, and I couldn’t choose a lesser evil.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            I also didn’t vote. The Democrats – those people who are going to “save our democracy” – had the Greens removed from the ballot. Why bother?

        3. Altandmain

          I’d vote Green if you have a choice to, although the Democrats are trying to get them off the ballot where possible.

          The Green Party in the US is far from perfect, but it’s better than the alternatives.

      3. lance ringquist

        you have to remember russia was pushed into this. they do not want to be part of the wests rules based economy, “FREE TRADE”.

        where the rich say whats mine is mine, whats yours is mine.

        the russians have lived through the nafta billy clinton types for centuries,

        free trade is destroying the world: yugoslavia, free trade or else: Bill Clinton elaborated: If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.

        Globalism’s First Victim. NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
        By David Orchard
        Global Research, March 27, 2018
        Region: Europe
        Theme: US NATO War Agenda
        In-depth Report: THE BALKANS

        they saw what nafta billy clinton did, and was repeated over and over again, till it was on russias doorstep.

        nafta billy taught them well.

      4. Rod

        but the burden of proof is on the invader to demonstrate that he isn’t a war criminal.

        I have seen many images of unarmed civilians, massed, obstructing convoys of heavy vehicles.
        The vehicles are stopped and the people are yelling and certainly not moving–but neither is the convoy rolling over them–like they could.

        The tactical exposure on both sides is awesome (adj).
        It is telling something (about both sides), imo.

        I was born as a war ended.
        I went to a war.
        and have lived with my nation at a war (or war mongering) for more than half my life.

        I am sickened of all the atrocity (n).

      5. Procopius

        Donald – February 27, 2022 at 9:47 am

        I would be interested in knowing how many people who are outraged at Putin are also outraged at Biden, Obama, or even Trump for their war crimes.

        I am. I’m still enraged at W, too. I don’t give a damn that he gave a cough drop to Michelle. And Joe Biden still owes me $600. He doesn’t get to take credit for money that Trump gave me.

      1. Pate

        Hitler was conjured by the angloamericans. I’m sticking with 1600 and the British East India Company as genetic inspiration as later elaborated by MacKinder before the first big war:

        “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
        who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
        who rules the World-Island commands the world”
        — Mackinder

      2. Anarcissie

        _Understanding World War III_ is good but to catch it up with the moment it needs more of an observation, if not an explanation, of how the psychopathy of imperialism is contagious. Certain patterns of behavior, like the aggressive extensions of imperium, which we now observe on the part of the US, Russia, and some other parties, spread from one state or party to another. Thus, in the period between 1918 and the 1930s, there were, besides appearance of the Nazis in Germany, the rise of Fascism in Italy and elsewhere, and the rise of the differently colored but formally similar appearance of the Communists in the USSR and elsewhere. In a preceding period (late 19th and early 20th century) the widely imitated extension of empire by the British, French, and others occurred and spread even to former victims of imperialism. And so the recent turn of Russia toward imperial Realpolitik follows and imitates the behavior of the US and its allies and satellites in the immediate past. (And of course only a generation or so separates us and them from Nazi Germany.) I believe these transmissions of what appears to be a mass psychopathy should not be identified solely with individual cases. They are a widespread public health problem and should be diagnosed as such.

    5. Mikel

      “There no sane minds out there that oppose escalation…”

      If you’re saying that and you are in Europe, very possible more long term plans are about to be cancelled.

  6. Mr Magoo

    Re: SARS-CoV-2 emergence very likely resulted from at least two zoonotic events

    So if this hypothesis is correct, we should expect all sorts of new variants emerging? After two+ years, SARS-CoV-2 has been shown now to be prevalent in all sorts of animal populations (wild and domesticated) and the spread is infinitely wider than the Wuhan market (which is not a stretch to identify as the first super-spreader event). So would not this provide at least one example of the type of genetic zoological ‘jump’ that that might have happened at the Wuhan market?

    1. Ignacio

      This virus uses ACE 2 receptor and can jump between species having similar enough ACE2 proteins (and one of the papers gives a list of those present in Huanan). Your comment is the only I see today on the study linked above which is important. Anything pointing to a lab leak would have prompted many more comments because that is what we like to talk about. Even if Ukraine understandably leads news.

      It apparently jumped not once but twice in a short time if those initial lineages come from independent zoonotic events. This suggests that lots of wild mammals commerced in Huanan arrived infected. Which is not incredible. On the contrary, the supply chain might indeed result in increased incidence with virus spreading between cages. Airborne, remember.

      1. Grebo

        Not had time to read these papers today. Do they ignore or have an explanation for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in Italy in early September 2019?

    2. Maritimer

      Double Standard Alert:

      “So if this hypothesis is correct….”
      So Scientists and the Anointed may engage in hypothesis, discussion, argument, speculation, theorizing….

      But if Others do so, Conspiracy Theory!!!! That double standard alone should set any Critical Thinker on alert.

      1. Raymond Sim

        My problem with Critical Thinkers of all ideological hues is their persistent confusion of highly elaborated collections of hypotheses with bona fide theory.

      2. Ignacio

        Speculation… theorizing… you didn’t read the papers, did you? It is not theory but reality that the epicentre of the pandemic was the Huanan market: reality obtained with hard work, sampling and sequencing. metagenomic analysis. The most proximate case known to one of the hypothetical index cases (these are indeed hypothetical because haven’t been found, it is extremely difficult to find them and never will) was a vendor from the market. When the vendor became infected there could have only been somewhere in between 10-70 cases. Of all the environmental samples taken (no speculation, not theorizing here) most were located precisely in the stalls where the two vendors selling wild animals and meat from uncontrolled origin were located in one corner of the market. Both, the two different early lineages were found there. All December cases that weren’t epidemiologically linked to the market located in the vicinity of the market. There is a market trading wild animals many kept alive in cages there. All the initial cases can be directly linked or geographically close to the market and still the zoonotic case is just, speculation, theorizing… very much the same speculation and theorizing with the lab leak idiocy? Or different levels of speculation and theorizing?

        Many talk about ‘gain of function’. What about the loss of function in so many brains? Worrisome. Does ‘critical thinker’ mean ‘immune to data’?

        1. K.k

          I am not well read on the subject to have an opinion on natural vs lab. I have no problem believing this virus is a result of natural zoonotic events.
          I am curious and have been wondering not about the origins but the timeline, and about stories we read in the early days of the pandemic. Such as the following from Npr,

          The study discussed indicates the virus was circulating in places like the u.s as early as November 2019. Is this study flawed? Is the method of testing blood samples previously stored to look for the presence sars cov 2 flawed? Were they just mistaking other coronaviruses for sar cov 2 in the blood samples? Do you happen to have any ideas on this one in particular.
          Many thanks for you informed comments.

          1. Ignacio

            According to the studies published above there is the possibility that it could be found in November in the US, as long as an infected Chinese traveller went there, but not circulating. The study you mention doesn’t show proof of SARS CoV 2 circulating in the US in November. Not at all. It is all about antibodies.

        2. Mr Magoo

          Yes, I read. ‘very likely’, ‘might have’ are hardly convincing.

          I think the ‘Breaking’ announcement on NYT of a ‘preprint’, ‘non-peer reviewed’ article is more of an issue, and just caters to people who do NOT read the paper.

  7. Dftbs

    NATO and Ukraine winning the Twitter war; the Russians will settle for less ambitious victories in the real world.

    I saw the following tucked away in a bank research note this week: “The West has rich digital economies based on the ‘output’ of on-line influencers, pet therapists, yoga and Pilates classes, mobile gaming, YouTubers, lifestyle planning…The ‘revisionist’ powers like Russia are much poorer, more physical economies driven by raw materials (energy, metals, agri commodities), or, in China’s case, taking those materials and transforming them into too many goods.”

    This wasn’t sarcasm.

    Now with plans to cut Russia off from SWIFT, I am beginning to wonder like Martyanov, how many feet the West has to shoot itself in?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for the link. I was struck by this:

      Military “analysis” in the West, especially by all those generals and other “experts” in the US MSM is preposterous. I will try to address the issue later, but, boy, don’t they have self-respect?

      The answer to that question is “no” as long as money is involved. The “Magic Christian” satirized this long ago. (Video)

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know whats been said, but I’ve been appalled at some of the writing and commentary even from some supposedly quite knowledgeable military experts. Its clear that some are unaware that video games now have graphics hard to distinguish from real life (live footage from the Ukrainian village of Xboxiya as some wag put it). Some have made terrible fools of themselves from making statements based on clearly falsified footage. Although the Russians are no slouches at propaganda and fakery, the Ukrainians are leading on this so far.

        Its also pretty clear that many ‘experts’ have not been paying attention to what the Russians have been doing in the past decade or so, particularly based on their experiences in Chechnya and Syria, as well as observing what has been happening in places like Armenia. The Russians are trying out a very new style of warfare – it is based on old models, but tactically and strategically it is very different from Cold War models, or for that matter, what the US or Israel has been doing. Whether it succeeds or not, only time will tell, but it does seem that the online Generals are lagging.

        1. Louis Fyne

          Twitter is even worse. Anti-Putin Twitter is convinced high oil prices won’t affect the US since so many people are driving Teslas now.

          Fortress America! cuz we don’t need nickel, palladium, platinum, potassium, vanadium, or Russian vodka.

          1. amused_in_sf

            And it wasn’t even six months ago that the “liberal” outlet the New York Times was running articles profiling the poor Hummer owner who was struggling to afford gasoline!

          2. Mikel

            “Anti-Putin Twitter is convinced high oil prices won’t affect the US since so many people are driving Teslas now…”

            That disconnect with reality is typical of someone more concerned with Tesla’s stock price falling than having any knowledge of the actual lives of “many” people in these neo-feudalist times.

        2. fresno dan

          February 27, 2022 at 9:30 am
          Some have made terrible fools of themselves from making statements based on clearly falsified footage.
          You say that as if it were a bad thing… In these times, on-air TV time is the only metric. Accuracy not only doesn’t count, it is given a negative value, as it may offend the viewship.
          I think as precedent you have to look at Trump and Russia! Russia! Russia!
          Incredibly wrong statements were made, and not retracted. Absolutely no consequences for being wrong. (it is interesting to see myth making in real time). Accusations made, and if they stick, all well and good, and if they don’t, generate new accusations.

          1. newcatty

            IOW, Listen up serfs! We create your reality, as was stated by the PTB. When called on falsehoods by the MSM town criers they ignore the accusations. Flipping the script is instantaneous and easy to do in 24/7 cries coming via the sources of “news” are dictated by the concentration of owners. Most people in this country are a captive audience. It is, IMO, important to not blame the victims in the society. The people are living in this chaos of constant stream of ( mis) information. Think many are starting to wake-up. No intention to any allusion to ” woke-ness”.

        3. wilroncanada

          The Intercept was celebrating the heroism of Zalensky using footage of him dressed in “soldier boy” gear, from video apparently made last April. Yuk,yuk.
          In addition, handing combat weapons to civilians means there are no civilians.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Turcopolier (Pat Lang) posts a piece offering advice to “Ukrainian patriots” on how to disrupt and defend against the Russian invasion. The brain worm, I guess, is driven by his experiences assisting in other asymmetric and covert warfare, in which he found sympatico and respect for the warriors, kind of without any thought to how to get to an endpoint without constant violence.

        How manny of those “patriots” are Azov or Azov-adjacent? Maybe great insurgent/guerrilla/urban fighters, who have already shown great willingness to lob artillery shells and large mortars and multiple-rocket barrages onto other “patriotic Ukranians” and do the infantry and bully-boy combat and oppression too? But if they have that sympatico with other warriors, like all those offering bits of house-to-house, jihadi-approved ™ street fighting, forget about what kind of political economy might be commensal and sustainable, everything boils down to “successful missions” like defeating this or that unit of whoever the “enemy” of the combat unit is. Only goal is “victory,” overpowering and killing off that “enemy.”

        This shit is to my mind the fundamental marker of the not-fit-to-survive human species. All the vectors (profitable sales of war toys, momentum and inertia of things like the Pentagon, amygdala activity, successful electoral results springing off the “othering” and divide-and-conquer, etc.) point in the same stupid futile direction.

        It will be so interesting if Zelensky and some Russian functionary negotiate a truce or even an actual, stable and sustainable peace — even the Mighty Wurlitzer is leaking side notes that such a next step is ever so tentatively under discussion, even while the warriors are doing their oh so brave and patriotically honorable thing… though I would think the Azovs, those Fugging nihilists. Would veto by assassination and other stratagems and tactics.

    2. Steve H.

      > rich digital economies

      In the Robb link above, he notes it looks like the trains west from Kyev are loaded with people whose citizenship(/identity) is virtualized. The antithesis of the grind of Grozny, with the people tied to the land. This is the urban/rural split in the global environment.

      Whether this is enough to alter the concentrations within the population remain to be seen. Someone once said something about the people are the ocean they swam in, but the Goog isn’t giving me the quote.

    3. Karola

      Our side: How to talk to kids about Ukraine:

      Easy, just combine the talk with their second vaccine administration, mask adjustment practicums, proper pronoun lessons and further instructions on how to choose the proper gender.

    4. polar donkey

      My kids and I are watching Gonoodle cat party on YouTube now to do our part to stop the Russian Horde. We are fortunate to live in an advanced economy of influencers.

    5. Pate

      From your link:”since Anglo-American “elite” is highly selective in “sanctions” because it conspicuously doesn’t want to impose them on energy. Anything but energy!”

      Exactly. Because (we control energy) markets! (as in “our petro dollar strategy”).

      Project force for market expansion, resource extraction, financial market monopoly …

    6. fringe element

      Wow. I had no idea that China was poor. Who knew. Funny how a quick trip around Chinese cities using Google street view shows what looks to be stunning wealth. Silly me.

      The idea I keep looping back to is that Russia, China, India and maybe the UAE for good measure, will be expanding their own payment system and turn their backs on the rest of us, sooner rather than later at this point.

      I’m barely literate about economics at best, but it seems to me that if/when Asia begins to pull away from our current global trade system the results for the US will be dire.

  8. Louis Fyne

    the scale of Ukraine is vast. Russia is gaining big ground

    if the eastern tip of Ukraine was superimposed on NYC, the western tip of Ukraine would be at Chicago, the Kyiv would be at around Toronto and Crimea would be somewhere around Raleigh-Durham, NC.

    1. The Historian

      I take it you don’t live in fly-over country. It takes about 12 hours to drive from NYC to Chicago. It took me a lot longer than that to drive from my old home in Idaho to my new home in North Dakota.

      Ukraine is about the size of Texas.

      As for Russia gaining ground, last report was that the Ukrainians took back Kharkiv and the Russians still haven’t captured Kyiv. If the Russians thought this was going to be an Anschluss, they were wrong.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I wouldn’t put too much credence on reports of major cities being ‘taken’ or ‘retaken’ over a matter of hours. We are really just seeking skirmishes and probing operations. It takes a long time to secure a city, even if its not strongly protected. I’ve seen no evidence that the Russians have even tried to take Kyiv yet – its a long way from their core areas so it would take days at least to build up the heavy firepower they need if they intend to take it in force.

        1. Steve H.

          The Siege of Sarajevo lasted 1,425 days. Why blow up what you’re going to own?

          (I could be wrong about this.)

          1. David

            The siege lasted so long because the VRS didn’t have enough combat power to take the city by assault (it’s not the easiest of cities to control anyway) and the Bosnian Serb government wasn’t ready to take the huge losses among bored conscript troops with families that would have resulted if they had tried. In any case, the city was resupplied every night through the tunnel under the airport with food and medicines sold by the Serb mafia to the Muslim mafia. The siege was more than anything else a money-making activity, like a lot of the war.

      2. OnceWereVirologist

        Retreating to urban areas is not a viable military strategy in the long-term. Sure it shields your forces from air and artillery attack (assuming the opposition isn’t willing to flatten the city you’re sheltering in) but once your diesel and ammunition runs out where are you supposed to resupply ? I gather that small arms and molotov cocktails are being handed out in Kiev but rather than construct barricades (which might actually be militarily useful) it seems that the civilian defenders are wandering around looking for Russian collaborators and saboteurs (which IMHO is more likely to hinder the defense of Kiev than help it).

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The cruise missiles the Russians launched against ISIS from the Black Sea and the reported disruptions of the Tomahawks we launched into Syria since Russia lived up their alliance were eye opening to me. It meant the world had changed. If Moscow has it, the Chinese have at worst, a slightly inferior version with way more in supply.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “(assuming the opposition isn’t willing to flatten the city you’re sheltering in)”

          why did that statement make the word “Fallujah” bubble up in my mind?

          since this started, one part of my brain has been comparing and contrasting this episode with various usa episodes, back to viet nam.
          which one’s the evil empire, again?

          and as for the usa twittersphere, i ain’t gonna even try to engage that mess.
          it’s like post-911 all over again, but with Dems in charge.
          Blue Checks parroting 2003 vintage Glenn Beck.
          me:”nope..i ain’t a ‘traitor’…I’m a ‘Heretic'(gr.’choice maker’)…try to keep it straight…”

          1. OnceWereVirologist

            Well if you wanted to be scrupulously fair-minded you could equate Fallujah to Grozny. The difference being that Russia rebuilt Grozny and managed to reconcile the Chechens to Russian rule. Not so much reconciliation and rebuilding in Fallujah, if I had to guess.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Yes, Fallujah, I mentioned to my parents tonight. I think Mosul’s recapture from ISIS is probably a good analogy, as well (wasn’t Mosul like 1.9 million or something? Definitely a large city, though not quite as big as Kiev).

      3. jimmy cc

        i assune the Russians are purposely trying to avoid attacking cities with ground troops at this moment.

        Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations is a book written decades ago that talked about Ukraine splitting in 2, with the eastern half joining russias sphere of influence.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Shiite population lived on top of Iraq’s oil, so Powell’s assertion of you break it you buy it made sense. Also, global crossroads. We didn’t want to give that over to Iran…anyway.

          River commerce isn’t what it once was, and these cities don’t have anything special. I figure the Russians are trying to drive people into cities to avoid, dealing with them and to put them into siege conditions, nicer ones than usual, but keeping people manageable.

          1. Paradan

            The MIC can stash a hell of a lot of food and ammo over the course of 8 years, of course given the level of corruption, those stockpiles may be on paper only now.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              For 200k soldiers who clearly were suspecting to not to have to worry about air cover. Gun ships and helicopters are scary, and they are on the other side of a river from where they might get resupplied.

              Then there are the cities. The vehicles need gas. The artillery has been shooting for a week before the Russian incursion. Even the Pentagon isn’t leaving those supplies everywhere. They would be in defensible positions deep behind air cover.

              1. Paradan

                I was thinking in terms of Kiev and Mauriople, so they could engage in a long term, highly destructive urban fight.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  There are almost 3 million people in Kiev. Mariupol is over 400,000. This happened in 3 days. That kind of food production has to be shipped in, on roads.

                  For comparison, Grozny had 399k in 1989 per the internets.

            2. tegnost

              “of course given the level of corruption, those stockpiles may be on paper only now.”

              scene: Eastern Ukrainian storage unit…quartermaster for a military unit opens door excitedly.
              “They said this unit contains MANPADS” (that’s the subtitle, spoken in ukrainian)
              “These seem kind of light?”
              picks up box, opens one…
              “Tucks? What’s that?”

      4. kgw

        So far the RF armed forces have been trying to be polite to all the non-shooters…They have used their artillery only against massed Azov forces. They are there to root out US-NATO sponsored forces.

        Which, btw, they have been telling the US-NATO for the last 20 years.

      5. Polar Socialist

        For what it’s worth, for all the fog of war, there’s still fighting going in Kharkiv and the mayor of Kiev just declared the city to be encircled. Also Mariupol has been encircled.

        There’s also a lot of evidence that in the Southern Ukraine (Kherson, Melitopol, Berdiansk) area people are very relaxed with Russian occupiers and at times point out the location of Ukrainian units.

        Since the sources are basically just DNR militants and the population of the area, all this has to be taken with a big grain of salt.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, Ukraine is vast, about the size of Texas. The problem for the Ukrainians is that their standing army is far too small small for the size, so they can’t necessarily use it to their advantage – they don’t have strategic depth in the way Russia historically has used their land mass as part of their defence. You have two relatively small armies fighting over a vast land area. This means that huge areas will be essentially uncontested.

      Apart from all the misinformation, I think a key reason for all the contradictory information out there is that the Russians are not engaged in a frontal war. They are using fast mobile units to move deep into the Ukraine to probe defences. When the Ukrainians come out to fight, they get walloped from the air. As such, there is no real ‘front line’, instead there is a wide band of contested land.

      If you assume they learned a lot of lessons from Syria, they will be following a policy of gentle pressure and carrot/stick on the elements that can be persuaded to change sides (for Syria, see local warlords, for Ukraine, the official army), while the hard core (Isis/Azov) are to be isolated and destroyed, bite by bite. The latter process hasn’t started yet.

      In practice, I suspect both sides will be giving local commanders a lot of tactical leeway, which is likely to make the situation even more confusing for outsiders to analyse.

      1. John

        Scott Ritter made the “gentle pressure” argument and pointed out that the Russians have not used their artillery in a manner in line with their military doctrine.

        Given an opaque situation, a 24-7 news cycle requiring “Breaking News” every 15 minutes, and non-stop propagandizing very little one can see or read reflects reality.

        oh, is there actual evidence that V.V. Putin is the “richest man in the world?”

        1. lyman alpha blob

          While I’m sure Putin is not lacking for scratch, this whole “richest man in the world” trope was started by Bill Browder, a US “investor” who went into Russia in the 90s and made an enormous fortune when the West was stripping the country for spare parts. He later ran afoul of Putin who brought his company up on charges, and that’s when Browder started the anti-Putin propaganda. All this eventually led the US to pass the Magnitsky Act to punish the Russkies during the Obama administration.

          I’ve spent a little time looking at some of these claims against Putin, and if you follow the links at least, they most often lead back to Browder.

          1. Dave in Austin

            Today from the Ukraine front:

            I’m happy to report that the invasion of the Ukraine is sliding into the second half of that wonderful movie, the Mouse That Roared.

            Today’s news is the following: desperate foreign correspondents have been reduced to standing on the roofs of their hotels in flax jackets and helmets pointing at columns of smoke from burning oil tanks 10 miles away while reporting “the end is near”; volleys of tweets claiming that the west will “soon” send arms to a government they can’t reach by some unsubscribed method are landing; columns of YouTube videos are being sent into battle showing “Russian tanks being repelled by the defenders of Karkov” with videos that show five abandoned recon cars each a bit smaller than a Ford Explorer.

            Meanwhile the Russian and Ukrainian diplomats will be meeting on Belarusian territory and both sides will pretend that that Belarus is neutral even those the “maneuvers” seem to have headed south toward Kiev. Why Belarus? Well, because this is a family quarrel and they’d rather meet in their cousin’s house that travel to Poland and have to put up with those crazy second cousins.

            And Little Katie has apparently been told to go back to her room. The very useful but relatively inaccurate Russian Katyusha (Little Katie) rocket volleys seem to have stopped. They gave the press too many photo-ops of cowering civilians and unexplored metal tubes sticking out of the pavement. Not quite as bad as napalmed babies running down the road in Vietnam, but still poor optics.

            Last night I went hunting through Twitter for the real combat shots. They are out there, just use a Russian dictionary for the key words. A few pointers: real explosion victims often end-up with their pants down at their ankles, no porn, they’re all wearing underwear; a body missing the middle third blown into the air tends to break in half when it lands and there is surprisingly little blood left; Russian parents find out their kid is dead when someone shows the military ID on Twitter with a burning truck in the background; the victors tend to leave a dead body alone, except if it is face-up with eyes open and the usual surprised expression on its face. Then they cover it with a tarp.

            On a lighter note, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official that reported the 11 border guards on Snake Island (actually Serpent Island, read the ancient Greeks) had died to a man heroically defending the place had failed to account for one thing; the families. Now they admit that the defenders may be alive. I’m sure the audio of the defenders telling the Russian ship commander to “Go f… yourself” is accurate. I’m also fairly sure that the Ruskies then fired half-a-dozen shells into the field next to where the border guards were located and sent a message saying “We’re coming ashore; please don’t shoot.” My guess is that the guards then had their guns taken away and, like Little Katie, have been confined to their barracks, where they are probably cooking dinner, watching TV and enjoying another lovely Black Sea sunset right now. Ukrainians will make lousy suicide bombers.

            As for me, after the war porn, I adjourned to my favorite Austin bar to hear a bunch of 75 year-old ex rock-and-roll road musicians play Louis Armstrong tunes and such Texas favs as “The road goes on forever and the party never ends..” and “I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna cross that river…” while happy dancers of all ages twirled and bounced. May the Ukrainians be back to doing such things in a month and may the press guys be off to the next crisis.

            1. The Rev Kev

              There were about 80 guys on Snake Island and the Russians took them prisoner, fed them and evacuated them back to the mainland. They did have them give parole that they would take no further part in any fighting and I am hearing a lot of that lately.

              Meanwhile I am hearing that the Ukrainians are freeing prisoners and arming them to fight the Russians, even if they have been guilty of murder. Good thing that that will never blow up in their faces.

      2. Louis Fyne

        yes, it is more like Ukraine is an ocean and the Russians are island-hopping from city to city.

        The current Russian vanguard is the JV team and anvil. The bigger, badder, newer hammers are still in reserves.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Per b’s linked map from yesterday morning, the Russians have seized or are seizing the northern and southern river crossings of the Dnieper River while denying resupply to the Ukrainian army which has been shelling and likely has dwindling supplies. Vehicles can’t cross on back roads because of the water.

          They are avoiding the ocean part of the Ukraine which is West of the Dnieper. The area in question is basically Iowa from a geographic stand point.

          The Ukrainian army was meant to advance into the separatist areas with the expectation of causing destruction and no threat of real retaliation. Now it’s cut off with two relatively close bridges to escape to and no command and control. People are fleeing both to the cities which still have power or out off the region. What is left is a kill zone of soldiers and people without resupply.

          I’m not sure where they will withdraw to after the Ukraine army is dealt with. The river cities would be too problematic too deal with for more than a couple of weeks. You can’t control the whole Dnieper as a result or both banks. They will have to withdraw forces, or guerilla warfare can be used.

          The area between the Crimea and the Dnieper is another issue. I don’t understand enough to have thoughts on that. It looks less problematic to go up the South side of the river and stay given the roads and do population centers.

      3. Polar Socialist

        Russian doctrine has also relied heavily on masking their intentions, movements and concentrations by both hiding as much as possible and misleading as much as possible. See: maskirovka.

        The latest invention during/after the Chechen wars are the “famous” Battalion Tactical Groups, basically a battalion with attached units. Each brigade or division deploys multiple BTGs capable of very high tempo action either independently or in relation to other BTGs. Recently the development has been towards the infantry element being used more or less as reconnaissance to discover targets for close air support or artillery — Russian brigades and divisions have very strong indirect fire capability.

      4. The Historian

        I’m not sure we can take lessons from Russia’s involvement in Syria. Russia was invited in because al-Assad wanted Russian airpower, not necessarily Russian soldiers. This latest war seems to be a more conventional ‘boots on the ground’ war at this point. That may rapidly change, however.

      5. David

        Yes, I find it amusing that the people who have been telling us for a while that the future is all cyber-war, AI and drones have suddenly gone quiet. If you have no command and control, drones are basically useless. And while the Ukrainians may be winning the social media war, the Russians are winning the real war. I know which I’d rather have.

  9. farmboy

    “In the crop year of 2021-22, Turkey was the largest buyer of Russian wheat, purchasing 4.5 million metric tonnes as of December 30, 2021. Egypt bought 3.2 million metric tonnes from Russia over the same period.” from Al-Jazeera link.
    “Turkey is a country where archaeological evidence shows that flour milling first started roughly 12,000 years ago (10.000 BC), and today it is the global leader in flour exports.
    Gobeklitepe, Sanliurfa, Turkey, is the site of the archeological discovery that could profoundly change the understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human society. The remains of fermented grains and wheat seeds contained in the dishes excavated from the ruins reveal that agriculture was carried out in a conscious manner. One of the biggest indicators of grinding wheat prior to consumption is the mid-drilled round stones shaped as the stone hand mills.” Always interesting to find mentions of GobekliTepe.
    Turkey is the biggest exporter of flour in the world due to access to Russian and Ukrainian wheat with Turkey supplanting Egypt as the biggest Russian wheat buyer. Turkey is a long time NATO member.
    Will SWIFT bans affect wheat flour milling of Russian wheat?
    Rising wheat prices this year are having a huge impact on importing countries, shades of 2014.
    World Grain is a good source for information.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That must be why Turkey is refusing to close the Black Sea to Russian Naval ships. They may be afraid that if they do, that the Russians will say that they will still ship them their wheat – but payment must be in gold bullion. With the fragile state of the Turkish economy, I do not think that that is a risk that Erdogan is willing to take. The last thing that Erdogan needs is food riots.

    2. dftbs

      I think we’ll notice that sanctions driven price increases in food (and energy) will largely manifest in dollar terms (and Euro if swift is cut off). This will hurt sanctioning nations and those aligned with them more than the sanctioned. For example Colombia will suffer dollar price increases more than Venezuela or Cuba (not that the Colombian government cares)

      We have to recognize that the USD and Euro are not absolute measures of value, wealth or productive capacity, but indexes of political power. If the governments in charge of these currencies choose to abrogate this power under the false notion that it is absolute they’re going to find out some harsh truths about its actual limits.

      This realization may force some governments, like the Turkish regime, to make some hard choices with respect to the West in order to survive.

      1. jsn

        I agree completely.

        Our leadership, however, is so isolated from reality by its own self designed information simulacrum that it’ll likely be unable to make “choices” that cohere with any observable reality for quite some time.

        That promises to be an interesting period as layer after layer of “expertise” publicly soils itself and is cast aside by the layer above it who will be desperately looking for different “experts” to tell them what they want to hear. John Authers at Bloomberg was pretty good on Friday when he said markets had already priced in that Putin will have his way. The markets can internalize realities, even if they are more an artifact of the Fed than of “value creation”, but the political class lives in a world entirely of it’s own making that they’ll never deliberately leave.

      1. Lee

        As one with non-celiac wheat sensitivity, I’m already doing my bit to alleviate shortages of that particular grain. I’m more concerned with the price of rice.

    3. Ignacio

      Spain has an oversized poultry and pork industry in part thanks to grain imports from Ukraine. These industries are going to suffer. And IMO, should be scaled down a bit. Unsustainable.

    1. Tommy S.

      I watched this. Thank you so much. forgot about Paul Jay…and hadn’t heard Wilkerson in awhile. This is really a must watch…

    2. Procopius

      I haven’t paid attention to Wilkerson since he made a spirited claim that we DID NOT invade Iraq for the oil. He earlier claimed that he and Gen. Powell sat down together and went through the UN Speech point by point examining each for plausibility. I accept the truthfulness of that, because there’s no way anyone who received U.S. Army CBR (Chemical, Biological, Radionlgical) training could have believed in the “mobile poison gas factories.” They had to know Powell was lying about that one. Wilkerson tells good stories.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Xi pursues policy of ‘pro-Russia neutrality’ despite Ukraine war”

    More than just neutrality. China has now gotten an exact look-see what is in story for them with Taiwan substituted for the Ukraine and they are not impressed. They can probably imagine a Taiwan that is being heavily weaponised just like the Ukraine which will pose a clear and present danger to the Chinese mainland. They have already thrown the first lifeline to Russia as China has lifted all restrictions on wheat imports from there-

    But wait, there’s more. The Chinese Embassy in Russia has sent out a bunch of tweets in which they really slam the US for what they have done and what they are still doing-

    1. Carolinian

      RT seems to once again be down. Seems they are under cyberattack and only intermittently available. Tass still works but their reports are bare bones. This report says European countries are closing their airspace to Russia which presumably means Russia will retaliate–a big problem for airlines.

      Here where I live gas prices are shooting up. Biden is probably more worried about this than the lives of Ukrainians and Russians.

      1. Brian Beijer

        Apparently, Anonymous has come out to wage “cyber war” with Russia. My guess is that*e why RT keeps going down. For me, their announcement just confirms my suspicion that Anonymous is a CIA/ NSA front so that they can do black hat cyber-ops in the name of “anarchy”.

        As a side note, I want to express my gratitude to NC and all the commenters here. The last two years of the Pandemic have taught me that as cynical as I was before Covid; I wasn’t nearly cynical enough. Now, I know not to trust ANYTHING that appears in Western media. NC has become my sanctuary of sanity. When significant events happen, like the developments between Russia and Ukraine, NC has become my first (and often only) source of information. If NC were to ever go away; I would truly be alone in the dark.

      2. Lee

        Biden should be worried more about the home front than tribal conflicts in far flung lands. That’s his effin job.

        Majority in U.S. oppose major role in Russia-Ukraine conflict, says AP-NORC poll PBS Newshour

        This is from four days ago so we’ll see how the relentless American propaganda machine is able to shift public opinion, or not, should the domestic economic ramifications bite too deeply.

        1. gc54

          Indeed, Glenn Greenwald posted a long substack article a few hrs ago on how the propaganda has been effective over the last few days at swinging US public opinion around to *we must support Ukraine because Russia is a critical threat to US interests*. Contrary opinions are being banished of course. Article is for subscribers but I imagine that it will leak out soon.

          1. Robert Dudek

            Imagine that! Russia is a threat to US interests! I had no idea! Thanks propaganda! How did I not know that before?

            1. GC54

              No idea how you missed that Critical threat = we must support Ukraine in this fight so that US frackers can make $s from LNG exports for a few years.

    2. fringe element

      Ian Welsh has a good post about this today.

      “telling both Russia and China they are your enemy, at the same time, is breathtakingly stupid”

      Welsh points out that having Russia fall to Western powers would be an existential crisis for China, and they know it.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    I recall the important work of ravens, who are just as insightful as their relatives, the crows. And today, in this epoch of baroque messes of unconnected and unconnectable imitations of facts, the work of the raven is all the more necessary.

    Stealing from a site on Norse Mythology called “skjalden” (which seems legit): “In Norse mythology, Huginn and Muninn are Odin’s two ravens. Huginn is the old Norse word for “thought” and Muninn is the old Norse word for “memory”. Every morning at sunrise he sends them off to fly throughout all of the nine realms to gather information on what is happening. In the evening they return to Odin in Asgard and tell him everything that they have seen and heard.”

    Would that it were so.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Yeah, sure, but saying it well requires paying close attention to delivery, timing, tone, and cawdence.

    1. Judith

      The Haida nation has wonderful stories of Raven as the curious impulsive Trickster. Raven, through a complex series of tricks, frees the Light that an old man keeps hidden in a small box, and thus illuminates the world.
      Raven also discovers a closed clamshell on the beach and while playing with it frees the first people who are trapped inside.
      This. Second story is the subject of the magnificent Bill Reid sculpture at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver – raven and the First Men.

      1. Wukchumni

        We have an annual raven festival here in Three Rivers, where the 5 rivers (we’re modest in our claims unlike say Thousand Oaks down south) are all forks of the Kaweah River, which the Wukchumni tribe called the Gaweah, their name for ravens.

      1. newcatty

        Beautiful picture of Raven. We live in an area where Ravens fly the sky. Raven is one of my token spirits. As noted in the above post about the Haida nation, Raven is an important Trickster and messenger in many people’s cultures throughout north America, europe and the rest of the world. The celtic peoples, as well as native peoples, honor Raven.

  12. Sardonia

    Good article on Ukraine’s blunders in allowing the US to first use it as a weapon against Russia on foreign policy, and then use it for Democrats’ fight against Trump – leading Putin to realize that with Biden in office, there would be no end to Ukraine being used as a pawn and a weapon against him. First a few paragraphs, then the link:

    “And that was only the beginning. Just as Russiagate seemed to be coming to a close in July 2019, U.S. national security officials injected yet another Ukraine-related narrative into the public sphere to target the American president. This one appears to have been initiated by Ukrainian American White House official Alexander Vindman and his colleague Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who had served as Vice President Biden’s point man on Ukraine during the Obama administration. When Vindman told Ciaramella about a phone call in which Trump had asked the Ukrainian president for information regarding allegations about the Biden family’s corrupt activities in Kyiv, they called on help from U.S. intelligence services, the State Department, the Pentagon, Democratic Party officials, and the press. Quick, scramble Team Ukraine—Trump is asking questions!

    “In order to cover up for what the Bidens and perhaps other senior Obama officials had done in Ukraine, a Democratic Congress impeached Trump for trying to figure out what American policymakers had been doing in Ukraine over the past decade. As for the Ukrainians, they again put themselves in the middle of it, when they should have stayed home.

    “The end result was that the Ukrainians had helped weaken an American president who, unlike Obama, gave them arms to defend themselves against the Russians. More seriously, they reinforced Putin’s view that, especially in partnership with the Democrats, Ukraine did not understand its true place in the world as a buffer state—and would continue to allow themselves to be used as an instrument by policymakers whose combination of narcissism and fecklessness made them particularly prone to dangerous miscalculations. The 2020 election victory of Joe Biden, a man whose family had been paid by the Ukrainians to protect them, can have done little to quiet Putin’s sense that Ukraine needed to be put in its place before it was used yet again as a weapon against him.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Speaking of Vindman , I saw that he was at a conference yesterday and that he was given a standing ovation by the whole crowd. Personally I would say that he is a traitor to his country – him and his brother – but that is just my take.

  13. Iji

    About “The Huanan market was the epicenter of SARS-CoV-2 emergence”

    So if this hypothesis is correct, we should expect all sorts of new variants emerging exhibiting similar genetic discontinuities? SARS-CoV-2 has been shown now to be prevalent in all sorts of animal populations (wild and domesticated), and two plus years later with the spread is infinitely wider than the Wuhan market (lets call it the ‘world’ market), would not this provide at least one example of the type of genetic zoological ‘jump’ that that might have happened at the Wuhan market?

  14. Tor User

    In my opinion, it is highly likely (over 98%) that this will end shortly with a Russian military “victory”, at least in the eastern part of the Ukraine. After all, not even all of the Russian/ Belarusian troops on the border have been committed to the battle. In addition it is quite clear that the Russians have not used all their available (conventional) weaponry. For example, there has been very little EW deployed.

    It is also my opinion that the West had some pretty accurate intelligence leading up to the start of the war. (I use the West to mean mostly the US, as we know NATO stands for “Needs American to Operate”) The records are available in older tweets, but on the 16th, the original guess for the invasion, the West stopped flying manned reconnaissance flights over the Ukraine. A rumor making the rounds is that Putin delayed the invasion by a couple of days to make the West look like fools. There were some pretty amusing statements to this effect by the Russians at this time.

    Likely what is talked about here along with other conversations had been vacuumed up and tied out to each other. (right click and translate)

    After a day or so later the manned flights where back until the day of the actual attack. When the ‘second’ invasion date came around the time of the attack was basically publicly known. And that time was off by maybe a half hour.

    It was amazing to watch the airspace clear shortly before the attack commenced. In the end only one aircraft was up over Ukraine and it was a US Global Hawk and it headed west to Romania as fast as it could go.

    Some thin supporting evidence for the delay is the fuel shortages that happened so quickly after the invasion. Another is the food shortages. (That the store security cameras are still working is amazing.) Keeping the Russian forces, basically on the assault line, chewed up additional fuel and food that wasn’t fully made up for. On the other hand, there is always someone for some reason doesn’t get done what they are supposed to and it is not uncommon that advancing armies outrun their logistics. Before the start there were stories about the limited amount of resupply meant that the Russians would not invade. So who knows for sure?

    During the lead up to the invasion, while Zelenskyy went around saying he didn’t think it would happen; his military acted like it would and dispersed their assets where they could. Thus the combined lighter footprint of the Russian attack and the dispersal of the Ukrainian assets enabled them to survive longer than otherwise.

    Thus, today the Ukrainians have a few aircraft and a few more helicopters flying. There have been pictures of Ukrainian aircraft at an airbase in western Ukraine and given the holes in the area around the runway it is highly likely the pictures where taken after, at least the first Russian ballistic missile strikes. While the Russians pretty much have air superiority the Ukrainians still have some large anti-aircraft systems left, though not tied into a national network. Their command and control is still functioning at a more than a basic level and is likely being fed in near real time from what the West can see. Which is clearly not as much as they could see before the war started but a lot more than what Ukraine can see. In addition to what can be seen publicly flying around the borders of Ukraine, it is likely that the US still has a stealth platform over Ukraine at times. (Maybe the Russians will hack it like the Iranians claim to have done and make it land in Russia.)

    Why did Putin act now? In the videos he seems to be uncomfortable these days. He doesn’t do the athletic stuff he used to be displayed doing. Yes, he is older now.

    The videos also show that his inner circle is sometimes confused on what he is thinking.

    Something to think about; given Putin’s well-deserved reputation for being very calculating and not taking excessive risk, did Putin get Covid in September or October of 2021 when a number of his inner circle got it? If so, does that account for some of his decision making these days.

    Even if Putin didn’t get Covid, did his self-imposed isolation and current distancing keep him from hearing others different opinions? Does that event explain his use of the long table type settings?

    Putin misjudged how hard Ukraine would fight. As a guess, he might have thought that a light footprint would be successful and easier for the Ukrainians and the West to take in the future.

    It is clear that more Ukrainians than thought will fight. There are videos of older men and a occasional woman in North Face or like coats around wrecked lightly armed and armored Russian equipment. There are one or two videos with the same types of people around a Russian prisoner or two. As noted, Ukraine is handing out weapons to whoever wants them. Mostly rifles, but some people have been seen carrying what look like M-72 like anti-tank rockets or RPGs with launchers with telescopic sights. While this has mostly been talked about as happening in the capital, it is happening in many other places in Ukraine.

    Before the invasion, the top Ukrainian general gave an interview where he stated he saw the possibility that regular army personal would combine with the people in small groups from the TDF (Territorial Defense Forces). The regular army personnel would provide the expertise to use the anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons while the local people provided security while that happened. Today it was publicly announced that another 1,400 of these two things would be sent into Ukraine from the West as fast as possible.

    The numbers of these things sent in the last month or two must be climbing towards 5,000? Of course these weapons have to arrive at the right place and time to be used. But if even 10% of them hit something Russian, that is a significant lift over what was thought possible 2 months ago. And don’t forget the indigenous Ukrainian stuff they had before all this.

    The Russians are making considerable progress in the south, but not doing as well in the north. Clearly, significant parts of the Ukrainian army were not on the line of contact with the separatists. Nor were all the new weapons sent there. In some parts of the south, the Ukrainian army has been trading space for survival. There was a traffic camera up the other day that showed 4 minutes between when the last Ukrainian Army unit passed it and the first Russian one. An odd thing is that the Russian air assets have seen a fraction of activity it is capable of generating. But this fits the idea of light foot print. And this strategy of trading space eventually runs out.

    With Starlink, among other systems now operating in the Ukraine, it is likely videos will continue to come out to the west showing horrific things that will motivate the West to continue the pressure that they have been exerting to this point.

    Kyiv may well be the capital of Ukraine but capturing it may not end the war.

    1. lambert strether

      Clearly, the Russian offensive is running out of steam due to logistical problems.

      This is best shown by the fact that the Mayor of Kyiv now says his city is surrounded.

      1. timbers

        I am wondering… maybe Russia should not enter Kiev? Wikipedia says it’s 75% Ukrainian. It won’t be friendly to occupy. And occupy…for what purpose exactly? In contrast, Russia has taken 2nd largest city in northeast that is 75% Russian and rumors are she will make it a provisional Capital to arrange transition. That sounds a better safer plan.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          for what purpose exactly?

          Its near 3 million people. The Russians aren’t committing the kind of forces to deal with that. The encirclement seems like overkill when they just need to prevent the bridges from being used. I suppose it could be keeping forces from heading to relieve the target which is the forward deployed Ukranian army.

          Rationally, administrative units tend to exist for reasons usually involving geography and local trade. Pulling back to the borders of the formerly separatists oblasts makes sense because there is no way to hold a city like Kiev without a major depopulation. The power and such seems to still be on in these various cities.

          If these maps going around are right, its likely the cauldron will be finalized before the Belarus meeting. At that point, the Ukranian artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles will be destroyed in some fashion.

  15. farmboy

    “While both energy markets and security concerns are valid, they pale in comparison to food and agricultural products for the MENA region. Russia and Ukraine are the world’s main wheat exporters, of which a vast volume goes to the MENA region, especially Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and others. Food supplies are needed to maintain stability for most Arab countries.”

    1. tegnost

      Hm. I wonder how Usian GMO patent pushers feel about getting their GMO wheat into these areas. Taking over the world, one patent at a time is an idea bill gates could get behind…

      1. LifelongLib

        Well, wars are very expensive. The ideal is to always be preparing for war but never actually fight one…

        1. Sailor Bud

          Your RonCo FlipQuip sarcasm detector is malfunctioning. RonCo stopped selling them in the 1970s, but there are specialists out there who delight in these wonderful devices. I am one of them, and I know all the models.

          I charge a mere $999,999.99 (taxes and special fees may apply) for my expert services in restoring all old FlipQuip devices to near-new condition. Buy now! Call today!

          …man, how much happier I am since turning off autocorrect.

  16. timbers

    Russia and maps:

    The maps at Vineyard which are already at least a day old, suggest much greater Russian progress that of the Institute for the Study of War. An important happening IMO is Ukraine troops in Donbass reportedly fled advancing Russian forces. The majority Russian eastern part of Ukraine should be Russia’s for the asking. Securing her people now and for the future from the Azov Battalion influences should be Russian number one goal, always, IMO.

    1). Two days ago, Putin paused the attack to wait for Zelensky talks, who never showed up. Might have been a bad move allowing Ukraine forces to reposition. I think Western Media barely if all reported that but instead used it to portray Russia bogged down.

    2), Who is Russia going to negotiate with when the attack ends, and does she even need to? IMO she should concentrate on a fortress by focusing on retaking friendly, Russian majority areas with an eye on denying Ukraine/USA access to ports in Black Sea and a land bridge connecting Crimea and her access to water from Dnipro that is Ukraine sabotage proof. Getting “Ukraine” to officially recognize Crimea and other parts are now Russian would be nice but we all know reliability of not agreement capable USA. The Dnipro btw looks as though it could be handy geographical border to separate Russians from Ukraine but no really sure if Russian majorities take us fully to the Dnipro.

    3). MOA up with good examples of blatant USA media fake news regarding Russia bombing Kiev, killing Ukraine folks, etc.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Who is Russia going to negotiate with when the attack ends

      I keep hoping Russians did play out the possibility of Ukrainian leadership on so many levels going into Der Untergang mode instead of being responsible government trying to save their population.

      We do know that the parliamentarians of both countries are in connection with each other trying to arrange a ceasefire or even negotiations (which seem to fail, time after time) but apparently the situation is not yet desperate enough for somebody capable and brave enough to take over. Ukraine does have uncommitted reserves in Western Ukraine, and they may still hope the sanctions starting to work.

      On the other hand, Russia putting the Strategic Missile Forces on high alert may finally clear some heads in the West and people may want to start finding the way out of this, instead of digging deeper and deeper. At least I hope so.

    2. Louis Fyne

      imo, the map made for the war’s wikipedia entry is the most reasonably impartial, and updated often

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Outside of Kiev, a road map of Ukraine show 4 bridges not in Russian control along the Dnieper River. The Russians have run up it on the Crimean side, but there is the cauldron. Swim or traffic jams. The Kiev forces are withdrawing towards those bridges per the map. I don’t see a practical land bridge from Crimea to the new republics without going all the way, but Kiev and the other river cities would have to be pacified. Too much work.

      I figure they will secure Crimea water and withdraw to the new republics. Administrative regions often line up with geography.

      The next third is flat until you get to the more mountainous northwest. Russians learned about mountains.

      1. timbers

        Thanks for info. One thing that impressed me (if true) were reports that Russian troops restored Crimea water supply on day one. It’s nice to have friends :-)

          1. ambrit

            Those wily Russkies would ‘encourage’ the heroic fighters of the Quebec Liberation Front to do that task for them. Everybody ‘knows’ that Sudbury should be the border of Quebec, and Detroit and Grand Rapids.

    4. smashsc

      The maps at liveuamap also seem to be lagging in terms of progress. The geolocation of video of Russian convoys in the middle of the Eastern part of the country seem to indicate significant penetration along many axes.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Per the map, b posted yesterday, the war was over. It’s why Putin ordered a stop for negotiations. Russia can deny resupply. Now it’s mop up time.

        1. timbers

          That’s my take as well, cavet being our preferred sources could get it wrong and who knows what the West might do. Also media will spin as it’s ordered to.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Kiev is a major city. Its not Baghdad but still big. A huge force would be needed to seize it, but to knock out travel, that is different. This isn’t BosWash but sane cities. Saker has a new map, not from b’s source, that shows tightening of the cauldron with the two relatively close bridges available. Without freedom of movement, distances become meaningless unless you know what is what. I don’t.

            If the Ukrainian forces are arrayed as the blue circle, they could have a lot of people on top of each other or completely cut off shortly.

            Then in the North, they are making a general advance towards the Dnieper. Saker says the Russians haven’t entered Kiev which makes sense with an enemy army to deal with regardless of ultimate goals. Pre-war, 5 days ago, half the Ukrainian army and I imagine their heavy equipment was supposed to be well East of the river. With the destruction of command and control, they likely sat burning fuel.

    5. Louis Fyne

      Google Maps/Waze is a good way to guess the frontlines. Blocked streets have correlated with known positions of Russian military

    6. begob

      Pat Lang at Turcopolier, and his commenter TTG, reckon the Russians have screwed up badly. Their commentary on Syria from 2015 was very informative, and I haven’t come across any better online forum for this war.

      1. timbers

        Uhmm….am reading opposite, that war is basically over, Ukraine military in retreat leaving Russia to secure Russian majority areas, Uki forces surrendering peacefully to professional humane Russian forces in some cases, Russia achieved all/most of her main objectives, with mop up operations needed and a few surrounded large cities that need to taken carefully to protect civilians.

        Meanwhile NATO is issuing threats and Russia is putting her nuclear weapons on alert in response.

        1. Barbados Slim

          >Meanwhile NATO is issuing threats and Russia is putting her nuclear weapons on alert in response.

          Oh, good.

      2. OnceWereVirologist

        Pat Lang’s most recent article states :

        We have a lot of perfectly usable combat and supply aircraft that are scheduled to be sent to the desert bone-yard as part of force modernization. F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, etc. Under an appropriate “finding,” a covert proprietary company resembling Air America could be formed and pilots, ground crew and logistics people recruited for service IN Ukraine. We did something like this in WW2 with the creation of the American Volunteer Group (the Flying Tigers) in China.

        So essentially he’s arguing that a 100% American air force by personnel but that is not technically “the” American air force should be inserted into Ukraine. When it is entirely annihilated on the ground by Kalibr missile strikes does he advocate ignoring the death of all those Americans, because if he doesn’t want to ignore it, then it would be easier just to declare war on Russia now. I liked his takes on Syria but he seems to have gone off the deep end on Ukraine.

        1. pjay

          I was frankly puzzled by that Lang piece. Not sure if he was advocating such actions or simply pointing out what “we” (US/NATO) could do. But it definitely seemed discordant with some of the other analyses on his blog, e.g. by Larry Johnson. With Lang, his ideological biases sometimes override his more objective military/intelligence experience.

          1. ChrisPacific

            There are some things on which he has an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, and other topics on which he is laughably clueless (technology promises from Silicon Valley, for example, seem to turn him into a wide-eyed naïf). He makes little to no effort to distinguish between the two, so it’s reader beware.

            1. Foy

              Yep he thinks Musk and co are great examples of private sector outshining the public sector, but fails to acknowledge that Musk got billions of dollars in subsidies and all he has done is put some small satellite tin cans in the air, many of which can’t handle a small solar flare outburst, with a business model that cannot possibly pay for itself.

              And that the hard stuff eg Webb telescope, is not being done by the likes of Musk and co.

              As much as like reading his thoughts on military stuff he’s a rape and pillage capitalist at heart. It cracks me up that all these military guys can’t process that their lives and incomes have been part of the greatest socialistic boondoggle off all time

      3. Louis Fyne

        no one should be reaching such broad conclusions. It hasn’t even been 7 days.

        The 24-hour news cycle is making pundits substitute brain farts for reasoned analysis and conclusions.

        He may well be right, but we won’t be able to sense the true trajectory of events until the middle of March, or earlier if Kyiv falls in the interim

        right now, all we can say is that the war is going very well for the Russians. but of course, depending on your news source, the war is going incredibly poorly for the Russians.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          It bodes everyone to remember all the terrible takes there were for the Iraq, Afghan and Syrian wars at this early stage. Everyone (from across the political spectrum) jumped on whichever bit of evidence suited them.

          Even the people on the ground often don’t see the big picture. And the realities of military tactics and movement are often very, very different from what is envisaged by armchair generals. And this includes quite a few former real life generals, who have had a distorted view of conflict from endlessly reading about Canae, WWII and Baghdad.

          1. rowlf

            US General of the Army George Marshall noted the press getting everything wrong during WWII, where every US action was reported as leading the Germans to surrendering quickly. North Africa, Sicily, etc.

            Marshall also mentioned that Patton was famous due to the press and other US generals like Hodges got short shrift. (Echoes of William Sherman versus George Thomas)

        2. Daryl

          > right now, all we can say is that the war is going very well for the Russians. but of course, depending on your news source, the war is going incredibly poorly for the Russians.

          What I find interesting about this whole situation is that the PMC/oligarchs in charge of this country seem to have lost any ability to see through their own deception. As far as I can tell, they genuinely believe things like: a war with Russia is winnable, the Russians are mired / losing (on what… day 4?). It would be fascinating if the consequence of them screwing this situation up wasn’t nuclear armageddon.

    7. Michael

      Institute for the Study of War

      Who is we? Prop house in Foggy Bottom

      Who We Are
      Our Mission

      The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.
      Learn More
      Our Board Members

      General Jack Keane (US Army, Retired), Chairman, Institute for the Study of War; President, GSI, LLC

      Dr. Kimberly Kagan, Founder & President, Institute for the Study of War

      The Honorable Kelly Craft, Former US Ambassador to UN and Canada

      Dr. William Kristol, Director, Defending Democracy Together

      The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, Senior Council, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, LLP

      Kevin Mandia, Chief Executive Officer & Board Director, Mandiant

      Jack D. McCarthy, Jr., Senior Managing Director & Founder, A&M Capital

      Bruce Mosler, Chairman, Global Brokerage, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

      General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired), Member, KKR & Chairman, KKR Global Institute

      Dr. Warren Phillips, Lead Director, CACI International

      1. John Wright

        Kimberly Kagan (founder of the Institute for the Study of War) is married to Frederick Kagan, the brother of Victoria Nuland’s husband (Robert Kagan).

        The Nuland-Kagan clan has it all covered, Robert Kagan (at Brookings), brother Frederick at American Enterprise Institute and Frederick’s wife (Kimberly) at the Institute for the Study of War.

        From Wikipedia’s entry on Robert Kagan

        “In 1997, Kagan co-founded the now-defunct neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century with William Kristol.Through the work of the PNAC, from 1998, Kagan was an early and strong advocate of military action in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan as well as to “remove Mr. Hussein and his regime from power”

        The family must have some interesting group meals discussing their shared worldview.

        1. Glen

          Project for the New American Century –

          Talk about wrecking your country! What’s their end goal? Put China in charge? Because I think they’re pretty close to success.

      2. lambert strether

        I always check the About pages. It’s not my fault the commentary here is more sober, and the maps better, than those provided in the press.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine crisis: Japan should discuss Nato-like nuclear weapons sharing, Shinzo Abe says”

    I nominate that the first places that those nuclear weapons be stored at be Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the cities of Kyoto, Yokohama, and Kokura being nominated as alternatives sites. And if they want a code-name for this project, I would suggest Project Shadow Man. Asia’s neighbours would just love to see Japan having nukes – just like European countries would love to see the Ukraine with nukes.

    1. Oh

      They already have nukes – Dai ichi in Fukushima. The Japanese ex PM of all people want nuclear weapons! What a bozo.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        For years Japan had nukes at Yokosuka Naval Base. The US Navy’s 7th Fleet frequently made port calls there armed with nuclear weapons ( in the 1980s aircraft carriers routinely deployed with nuclear weapons). The official policy of both the US and Japan governments was to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons on Japanese soil.

  18. jr

    Steve H.:
    “Given the dual novel catastrophes of global warming and global information flows, I don’t think this is just a land grab. I think it’s the annealing of a cultural identity necessary to carry them through the coming foreseeable instabilities. That’s the existential imperative. The End of the End of History must incorporate the recent experiences of the people into their mythology.”

    “The ‘revisionist’ powers like Russia are much poorer, more physical economies driven by raw materials (energy, metals, agri commodities), or, in China’s case, taking those materials and transforming them into too many goods.”

    Thank you both for these comments, there is a lot to chew on here. Personally, I suspect that a society with a strong national identity/mythology as well as steady access to natural resources is going to fare a hell of a lot better in the times ahead than one with an identity of “Anything goes!” and even limitless vaults of Bitcoin. I would not be surprised to see the US fracture into regional political entities in the coming decades, as those regions contract around shared identities and resource pools. The globalists will be fighting it tooth and nail but there will be a point where reality outstrips even the most nuanced and confident of WEF Zoom conferences. I foresee a world of “hunkered down” nationalist identities and the neoliberal super-class standing in starker and starker relief against it all. Not claiming any great insights here, just a few puzzle pieces clicking together….

    1. dftbs

      Yes natural gas and oil are better than Bitcoin, the latter is wampum. And the globalists can shriek, but they can’t fight “tooth and nail”. The revelation of the last week is that they exist in a fantasy world. And reality is on its way to the inevitable rendezvous with their delusion.

    1. Wukchumni

      My fervent hope is that Kamchatka vodka will denounce it’s faux Russian roots and embrace the land of bluegrass and fast horses instead, where it’s distilled.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Lol. Is it actually distilled there? As opposed to, say Indiana?

        Just as an aside, I’m pretty sure any vodka actually made in Kamchatka, and I daresay there is some, is probably sold in the Russkie equivalent of 1 gallon plastic milk jugs.

        1. Raymond Sim

          I guess the stills might be. But honestly I’d be disappointed if Russian moonshining equipment isn’t both amazingly simple, or even rudimentary in design, yet somehow almost completely hands-off in operation.

  19. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    The opening ceremony for the other winter games went off with a bang this week with actual real snow on the ground for the contestants and replete with dove sellers making deals on last minute sacrifices by the poor who couldn’t afford AK-47’s and matching bullets before the embargo on merchandise was levied by the power that be.

  20. Michael

    How is all of this Western aid promised going to be delivered?

    Germany promising fuel and helmets!

    So much disinformation. Day 3 and servers are running hot!

        1. newcatty

          Or call on George Clooney and Company for special delivery. Penn will be happy to “document ” the brave and selfless actions. Are those helmets silver or white?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Aid for what? It’s reasonable for a large invasion, and there are plenty to of roads. A cruise missile for a semi truck isn’t reasonable. A stinger missile for a helicopter is. You just have to be near them.

      It’s just it’s not practical for what the map b linked to is showing. The army east of the dnieper has less spots for resupply and may not be trained or organized sufficiently to take delivery. Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia. This is the basic problem. Ukraine put it’s army on the border and talked nukes next to the Russian Fort Bragg.

  21. Pat

    Brainworm, good term for it. I was marveling, aka as getting nauseous, checking out social media and local news yesterday. The propaganda push is relentless.

    Obviously social media wasn’t as prominent then, but I still swear that there is even less responsible reporting than there was in the months running up to Iraq and after the invasion. I would be shocked if there hadn’t been a big reverse in public opinion from that recent CBS poll that was a clear NO on Ukraine for every age group but over 65. My never dying optimistic inner voice is praying that it hasn’t dropped to that 25% area I consider the bottom for all things political. I remember being surrounded by people buying the WMD and watching our gutless political class signing off on the stupidity back in 2002. It was bad back then, the delusional greeted as liberators drum beat that defied history. Now, trying to goad a country that has many of the same military resources we have AND have survived every time they were targeted is beyond insane, especially when those weapons are nuclear.

    And in an example of how unserious and idiotic we can be officials on Long Island are demanding that Biden throws out Russian ownership of a mansion there. They actually stated the goal of getting it back on the tax rolls in their press conference.

    1. Nikkikat

      I do not believe a thing I read anymore with out sources. This Russia stuff is the same as the covid pro vaccine stuff. Made up stories all over the place. Faked pictures etc. hoe much do you think is planted by the CIA and their affiliated copy writers. It is worse than Iraq. I’m sure we will see stories like the babies thrown from incubators. Where the young girl turned out to be the daughter of a diplomat. The Russians are taking out military sites. They are not killing Ukrainians they do not want Ukraine.
      We are the bullies. US knew it was driving the Russians to have to take things into their own hands. So Colbert and Kimmel have now moved from covid lies to Russian lies. Noticed also that fake charities are asking for money to help Ukrainian refugees. What a joke.

      1. judy2shoes

        “Noticed also that fake charities are asking for money to help Ukrainian refugees.”

        I am suspicious of the charities, too, and I wondered if they are fronts for the Azov Battalion or far-right-wing orgs. Could be anybody, really.

      2. tegnost

        Had hillary been elected this would have happened 4 years ago and the pictures wouldn’t seem so dated. Between that and the demise of the TPP with it’s draconian enforcement mechanisms combined with the inability of members to leave the agreement (PMC heaven, just as with patents), I’d say that as bad as it is, it would have been worse. That said, among my acquaintances any issue from deplorables to vaccines to ukraine hysteria, those who have had the most psychlogical trouble have been those suffering from TDS, and from that perspective it has been a pretty successful psyops campaign to maintain the necessary hysteria.

        1. fringe element

          It has been pointed out to me long ago that the different economic fates of the deplorables and the PMC was a matter of policy choices. Deplorables have been obliged to compete with workers overseas who can scrape by on a fraction of what an American in a comparable job needs to earn because their costs of living are so much lower. The PMC, otoh, have been protected from foreign competition. If my dentist had to compete with the money Mexican dentists make, he would be singing a different tune.

    2. Screwball

      The propaganda push is relentless.

      So true. I live in a small farm town in the middle of nowhere Ohio. Let’s call it Cornhole.

      Yesterday, our governor Mike DeWine announced all vodka made in Russia will no longer be purchased or sold in Ohio. Not to be outdone, the mayor of our little town Tweeted how we should cut Russia from all our banks, as well as a new profile picture that states “we stand with Ukraine.”

      I’ve never heard the mayor weigh in on national issues in the past. On our local Facebook page someone organized a prayer vigil for the people of Ukraine. All of this has the same feel as the push for war after 9/11 – and everyone seems to be on board.

      Especially my PMC friends – who are joined at the hip with the PNAC warmongers like Bill Kristol and the spooks. They want revenge for Hillary, Trump will get his, and China, your next.
      Ukraine is kicking Putin’s butt thanks to Joe Biden and his great leadership.

      These beliefs don’t happen by accident, and they are all one sided. None of them would even consider; maybe, just maybe, the United States might have had something to do with getting this entire mess to where it is. Nooooooo, this all on Putin, Russia, and Donald Trump. One even went as far to say “I hope China is paying attention because this is what will happen to them if they mess with Taiwan.”

      Democrats are now warmongers. Congratulations narrative managers.

      Stop, just stop. Where are the adults in the room? At best, I hope this dies down in the very near future, but given the idiots who run this country, I have my doubts. I expect a tough guy speech from Biden next week to thunderous applause by his sycophants, and no matter what happens in Ukraine, it will be billed as a great accomplishment by this administration.

      That is the good news. The bad news is, if they keep chugging their own hubris, and someone has a ****up, and the big red button gets pushed. BOOM! Full stop – what the hell just happened. Too late idiots – you just blew up half the world. It would be a fitting end for an empire as colossally greedy, stupid, and arrogant as we have been.

      I’m 65 years old. I remember the Cuban missile crisis, and how were were told how to hide from the bombs (hide under our desk at school – I guess that’s all they could tell us at the time – pretty dumb now when you think about it) if the sirens go off. It was scary for a little kid.

      Right now, it is scary for this old kid. WTF are you people doing?? Stop this insanity, please.

      1. Raymond Sim

        I’m 65 years old. I remember the Cuban missile crisis, …

        I’m 64. At the time of the Missile Crisis I lived in East Lansing Michigan. It’s beyond my powers to convey how different that society was from the one I find myself in now. One thing that never seems to be spoken of is that the trauma of WWII was not merely still in living memory, it was active in people’s lives: men waking into flashbacks in the middle of the night, or dissolving in tears for no visible reason were things that the adults of my parent’s generation seemed to accept as just part of life’s ordinary misfortunes.

        I remember the Missile Crisis as the time all the adults had fear in their eyes.

        1. Screwball

          Yes, I remember that too, and fear is correct.

          I knew people who were in that war. They didn’t have much to say. Didn’t like talking about it. People would whisper “that guy served in WWII, he was a tank driver” – “That lady is a widow, her husband lost his life at Normandy.” One old guy gave me his war metals, I’m not sure why. Maybe it brought back memories he didn’t want to relive. There were war shows on TV, war movies too, so thoughts of war never got too far in the back of our minds.

          Then we had Viet Nam. I missed the last draft by a year. I was number 8, so I would have gone. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t believe in that war, even though I didn’t really understand it at the time. I had friends who marched and demonstrated against it, some were at Kent State when the riot happened.

          I had friends who got drafted and went. Some never came home, and many of the ones who were fortunate enough to come home, didn’t come home the same. They were then treated like shit. My best buddy has flashbacks to this day. You never knew when, but they would happen. Scared the hell out of his future wife the first time it happened in front of her – I took her aside and told her to just leave him alone for a bit – he will be fine. This is what he had instructed me to do, so I honored that. Horrible sight to see.

          I worked in a bowling alley and one night someone came out of the bathroom and told me there was a guy going nuts in there. I went in to see what was going on. A guy was in the last stall sitting on the floor beside the toilet yelling at the enemy – he thought he was in a trench somewhere in Nam. Scared me to the bone, but I got him back to reality and out of there. He left quietly.

          To put it plain and simple in this family blog – **** war. Maybe if people had experienced some of the things we have, they might not be so damn anxious to get us into another one. When people start telling me we should go kick some Russian butt, I tell them – go sign up.

          Maybe we should reinstate the draft, and for everyone, even elite kids. Maybe that would slow their warmongering asses down.

          At least we had anti-war songs. One of the best IMO;
          CCR – Fortunate Son

          1. orlbucfan

            I lived outside of DC (DC native) as a kid. I remember all too well the “CONELRAD” alerts over the tube in B and W during the Cuban Missile Deal. We did ridiculous drills like hiding under our wooden desks in grade school. Really? That will protect against a nuke strike? I am really sick of living under stupidity which could launch these mistakes again.

        2. katiebird

          My teacher sent us home everyday that week with the cheery phrase, “I’ll see you tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow!”

          1. newcatty

            I had just been uprooted to a new small town when in second grade. Did not know a single kid in my classroom. My first day in the classroom our teacher began, after the pledge of allegiance to the flag, a tirade on evil communists. I wasn’t introduced as a new student in class. Went directly to a drill on hiding under a rickety old wooden desk. Mrs× set the tone for the rest of the school year, in a small school that had only one teacher for each grade. She relished her power in her little kingdom. I don’t remember any thing else about that school year, except looking forward to my little milk carton for lunch. Luckily, I already was a prolific reader and think that got me through that strange time. The school actually had a library due to a great librarian. That and sitting in the back row and being “good”.

      2. Sailor Bud

        There won’t be a nuclear response, for the same reason the war makers never go to or send their own spawn to war. If extreme undeserved narcissism is a dinosaur – and I hope it is – then clearly, we live in T-rex times right now. Their extinction won’t come so easily from their own hands.

        Your larger worry, if I’m correct, is that we have had these two years:

        A pandemic with a clear anxiety-inducing stop-and-start response from our “leaders,” with “lockdowns” that yet allowed people, goods, and services to flow internationally every day, and full ridicule for any country that tried actual quarantine – which we’ve known about for centuries. Accompanying this is the most totalizing blitheness about the death toll.

        A shoveling of trillions to the billionaires that everybody has already goldfish-brained away.

        More police and military budget increases.

        Kyrsten Sinema’s curtsy while she thumbed down a minimum wage increase (putting this here because I would bet every single thing I own that we were absolutely meant to see it).

        An increase of prices on everything and a further decrease in life expectancy.

        If I’m not incorrect, an increase in the entities begging for the last dregs of our money. My email “promotional” spam has been pounding me with ads these past four months like never before.

        And now a war in Eurasia that threatens escalation into nuclear apocalypse enough for us to post about it here like this, with a media blitz about it that is consuming all the space.


        ISTM, the globalists are waging war on the public without officially announcing it. Psychological, physical, economic, and everything else…

      3. wilroncanada

        You didn’t red the other half of the caption. It said, “We stand with Ukraine.”
        (But not IN Ukraine, it’s a s-h country).

    3. pjay

      I agree. Iraq war propaganda was massive and all-pervasive in the media. But this seems worse to me for several reasons. The social media effect is probably one factor. Another is my own better acquaintance with useful alternative sources of information which debunk propaganda in almost real time.

      But most of all, our destruction of Iraq and demonizing Sadam did not *threaten to trigger f***ing WWIII!* Our global “war on terror” was cynical, amoral, and evil. What we have been doing in Ukraine is psychotic insanity. But the media cheers it on. Our Michael McFauls will explain it all to us, while SNL and Sean Penn help us celebrate our moral superiority.

      I’m afraid my optimistic inner voice is just about gone.

    4. Barbados Slim

      Yesterday on social media: if a single Nazi sits at a table with a group of people and no one speaks up, then you have a table full of Nazis

      today on social media: um Nazis are good actually if they’re fighting Russians and anyway anyone that says the Russians are fighting Nazis is probably a Russian agent

  22. farmboy

    “No nuclear dick-waving, please.”
    The thing to do at this point is for everyone, literally everyone – US, NATO, NWS, NAS, NNWS, TPNW – to say forcefully and clearly that a threat of nuclear weapons is absolutely unacceptable. ABSOLUTELY. No nuclear dick-waving, please. This might get serious. @russianforces

    1. Louis Fyne

      Russian nuclear forces are on combat alert (per Russian social media, take with salt obviously). if true, to obviously tell NATo to back off.

      would be nice if the NYT could verify one way or another.

    2. The Historian

      I’ve been watching DWNews all morning. I just cannot stand the Sunday talking heads on US media.

      It appears that yes, the Russians have put their nukes on alert, but that isn’t what is scaring Europe – they’ve heard that line before.
      What is scaring Europe is that Belarus is holding a referendum today to rescind its nuclear neutrality. If that happens, Russia can put its nukes there – and that is as big a threat to Poland as Ukraine entering NATO is to Russia – and Poland is a NATO country.

      BTW, it is interesting that Germany is doing a 180 turnaround in financing its military and its payment to NATO in the past few days. Seems Germany is getting war fever too. I’d be curious to know if that is happening in other European countries too.

  23. Wukchumni

    I’m boycotting all of the Russian restaurants in the CVBB, no more going to the Borscht Buffet (27 different kinds!) in Yettem, they are no Pelmeni of mine.

      1. Wukchumni

        The situation is far worse than most know, for instance Hank the Tank is really a Russian bear who goes by the name of Fyodor the T-34

        1. Michael Ismoe

          I was drinking only Black Russians but was afraid it was racist so I started alternating them with White Russians.

            1. fresno dan

              February 27, 2022 at 10:54 am
              IF ONLY the vice presidency could be as valuable to society as alcohol drinks, think what a wonderful world this would be….

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Have we let her back into the country after Munich? Tin foil hat time, but I would not be surprised if she pushed Zelinsky without a proper chaperone to show her own bonafides. Politically, Biden is dead, but his opponents are gross enough to get across especially with the kids private parts bills. He can’t look weak.

                I don’t watch cable news.

  24. Louis Fyne

    both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian social media are reporting a huge Russian column entering Kyiv this evening.

  25. paul

    RE: john mearchiamer 46 mins is a good place to start if you’re time or attention challenged

    “they have the reverse midas touch”

    Which, fabulously, is incorrect.

    Everything Midas loved, died and turned to a commodity, and the more he touched the less it was worth.

    A lot of gold has been created and sent upwards by malign touch.

    From wikistupedia:

    On the eleventh day, he took Silenus back to Dionysus in Lydia. Dionysus offered Midas his choice of whatever reward he wished for. Midas asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold.

    Midas rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched an oak twig and a stone; both turned to gold. Overjoyed, as soon as he got home, he touched every rose in the rose garden, and all became gold. He ordered the servants to set a feast on the table. Upon discovering how even the food and drink turned into gold in his hands, he regretted his wish and cursed it. Claudian states in his In Rufinum: “So Midas, king of Lydia, swelled at first with pride when he found he could transform everything he touched to gold; but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer.”[20]

  26. Wukchumni

    The Real Reason the Pandemic Killed Small Restaurants Slate

    There’s a fair number of closed down long established eateries in Visalia and in the past before Covid, it seemed as if there was always another intrepid restaurateur type not dismayed by the idea that something like 8 out of 10 new restaurants go out of business, but that was then and this is now.

    Drove by one the other day, the weeds are taking over and the For Lease sign is haggard looking.

    1. griffen

      Pretty interesting and in depth reading, and clarifying to learn there is another example organization also called NRA which serves the biggest and baddest chains. Reads like a real life David (single location) against Goliath (the chains that stretch from sea to shining sea).

      However in this telling, this modern David had no updated slingshot.

  27. judy2shoes

    Before I wade into the morass, I wanted to thank you for the Jackalope story. It took me back 40+ years to a time when my sister and I were driving into Wyoming from the south. As we approached Douglas, we saw a giant billboard that said, “Welcome to Douglas, the home of the Jackalope.” My sister asked what a Jackalope was, and I replied that it was a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. I waited a couple of seconds and then took a side glance at my sister’s face, which was screwed up in intense thought trying to square that circle. One of the funniest moments of the drive for me. Thanks again.

  28. Tom Stone

    Where’s the best place to catch upon the atrocities committed by the slavering Bolshevik Hordes?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      MSNBC is always valuable. Even if they don’t have any war atrocities, they are happy to manufacture one for you.

        1. griffen

          Putin / Sauron could also send forth the Nazgul / ringwraiths to strike even more fear into the mere land dwellers.

          Life is imitating a MCU / Marvel film. Now I’m mixing up my metaphors with literary works.

    1. Brian Beijer

      On the other hand…. “Putin orders Russian nuclear deterrent forces to be on highest alert” (see the link below). I hope that Putin doesn’t pause the military operations in response to Zalensky’s offer of peace talks. I suspect Zalensky’s agreement to these talks (after insisting that he wouldn’t agree to them only hours before) is only a stalling tactic until all the weapons the US, Germany and others have offered arrive in Kiyev.

    2. Polar Socialist

      The sticking points, I think, were also the requirement of putting down arms, denazification of the government and yielding Crimea.

      The Ukrainian side is saying there are no preconditions for the negotiations. And that they’re not going to capitulate.

  29. Otis B Driftwood

    Take note that the Myannmar tweet above shows both Ukraine and Russia are selling arms to the junta.

  30. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike, dept:

    Headed to an oddity in the National Park system, a ghost town within the confines of Sequoia NP…

    Oriole Lake is an interesting locale in that there were 7 cabins before the KNP Fire came calling, 5 of which were so dilapidated and potential Hantavirus haunts, that i’d turn down an offer to stay in them, no matter the conditions outside, that scary looking-having been abandoned for many decades.

    They ‘saved’ 5 out of the 7 cabins and probably were precluded from letting them burn because of the danger in spread if they were to go up in flames in the middle of the forest.

    One of the least visited groves of Giant Sequoias is also in the vicinity, wonder how it fared in the fire?

    A view from above:

    Oriole Grove – Giant Sequoias of California

    1. Fried

      Interesting, I’m almost 50 years old and I’ve never even heard of Hantavirus, let alone that you can die from it. Although it seems comparatively rare in Austria and less deadly than the version that you guys have.

  31. Daryl

    One observation, unrelated to anything in the links.

    I am surprised by how every space in my life has quickly been taken over by this news, it’s even more pervasive 1/6. Every forum and everywhere regardless of its normal politicization needs to declare some kind of support for the Ukraine, whether it’s buying video games or rock made in the Ukraine or reporting properties owned by Russian people to the Treasury. I don’t really read right wing / conservative spots, I’m curious if it’s similar there. I imagine it mostly is, though I did just check The American Conservative while writing this and see that they have some sensible takes up.

    Setting aside my personal biases, I’m amazed that people are so quick to latch onto something happening across the world. While there’s still a pandemic raging, massive inflation and two political parties that seem to agree on basically everything as it involves family blogging over the people they’re supposed to represent. It reminds me of Iraq but the acceleration is faster and completely tilted in one direction; I doubt we’ll see protests for peace in cities this time. I wonder if the tune will change when this starts to have consequences like higher gas prices.

    1. wsa

      I believe it’s because in both the US and Britain the PMC class, rather than process their own failures like adults, decided to blame Russia for Trump and Brexit. They’ve managed to convince basically their entire partisan congregation that Russia gave them Trump, neatly avoiding discussion of their own strategic and political failures. So, we have a huge population eager to punish Putin for self-inflicted trauma.

      And for too many people Russia is still equivalent to the Soviet Union, so those emotional levers are easy to manipulate.

      1. Screwball

        I think you are spot on. My previously anti-war friends are now completely on board. They would rather talk to their new neo-con warmonger friends than me. Fine, see ya.

        Maybe the Lincoln Project did some good after all. /s

      2. fringe element

        Same experience here with people who used to seem sane before 2016. As to how this will play out when the squeeze from our domestic economic problems intensifies, I fear that an even greater frenzy of scapegoating will be deployed.

        One source of relief I have stumbled onto is watching Spanish language television. I don’t speak Spanish yet, but it seems like a good time to learn.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      It’s even overtaken the sportsball channels (again). A couple nights ago ESPN took a break from game highlights to start talking about Ukraine and said something about the “completely unprovoked invasion” or something to that effect. Had to change the channel – not a fan of propaganda with my sportsball.

      1. anon y'mouse

        you final line is hilarious.

        “sportsball” as an industry is highly interlinked with spread & maintenance of propaganda, just as Hollywood is.

        to the extent that even the opening ceremonies, all of the advertisements and the rituals and so forth are a part of it, whether one recognizes it or not.

        otherwise, people would just go watch their local HS players and have nearly as much enjoyment.

      2. fresno dan

        lyman alpha blob
        February 27, 2022 at 11:54 am
        Even The Simpsons and SNL felt compelled to refer to Ukraine. Even at the height of Iraqi II did we have such all pervasive propaganda. So this is what it must have felt like to have lived in the dark ages, when no deviation from official Church doctrine was allowed.

        1. Jen G.

          I feel like I’ve gone back in time to 2002-2003 and it’s like “déjà vu all over again”!

          Love the serendipitous placing of clips from The Big Lebowski, since I was going through the links while texting a friend. I saw the blip about liquor stores and Russian vodka, so I joked that I had some leftover vodka and Kahlua from Christmas and might have a White Russian tonight just to be somewhat contrarian. But for the intelligence services who may be listening, I’ll call it a Caucasian like they do in the movie, ha ha.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      First, it’s a major conflict, but conspiracy theorists aside, George HW Bush called it the new world order. I think he saw more cooperation between nations prior to the collapse of the USSR , but it morphed “America, eff yeah,” even for liberals with their Democratic SMRT wars. This has been the national identity in the US with Europe being friendly suit wearing colonizers, the West. We even made room for the Japanese.

      The US and the West can neither act with impunity, are the indispensable nations, or are the plucky democratic upstarts in a world of monarchs. The likely next President of Brazil wants to mirror the Russian relationship with China and has particular reason to despise us. Brazil is big enough to launch a Lula doctrine, no USian interference. All those F-35s, 22’s, carriers, and no bid contracts really did make us a poorer country and world. We don’t really want to blame ourselves for rejecting genuine opportunities for peace.

      Not that long ago, we were putting together a global coalition to build the ISS with former adversaries, but like Honorious and the Visigoths, we didn’t want the impure Chinese involved. Now they are in their own age of achievement while we celebrate Jeff Bezos flying really high. The wailing and gnashing of teeth is here. And we have a decrepit political establishment, largely at fault for rejecting that potential new world order for the old one.

    4. Synoia

      Biden (Able to get little done) and falling approval.

      Solution: Go Adventuring abroad (Inflexible on Negotiations with Russia).

      The Ukrainian Invasion was inevitable. It parallels the Cuban crisis: Missiles in Turkey(US) v missiles in Cuba (Russia).

      The direction of US policy is guided by Biden’s approval rating as the Ukrainian Invasion proceeds.

        1. Jen G.

          Miss that acerbic wit of hers! She would have endless fodder to mine in today’s politics, that’s for sure.

          1. fringe element

            I wonder about that. These days I fear our girl Molly would get cancelled by the harpies on the View.

    5. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m with you Daryl. It’s like a dam broke and all this pent up liberal energy just exploded. In my world, it seems like a lot of TDS folks know things haven’t gotten any better (at best) since Biden took office, but they don’t have any outlet for that frustration because their guy (or, most likely, the “I will hold my nose and vote for him” guy) is running things. And they’re nervous Trump might end up in office again, though they can’t explain how things would change, aside from tweets and whatnot. But they don’t really support Biden either.

      The vibe I get is, because of RUSSIARUSSIARUSSIA, this is a proxy for that and Trump and all that for these folks ready for their next #McResistance fix. The social media posts sure give off a lot of that same vibe. I’ve seen a lot of Trump stuff edging in here even though *checks Wikipedia* he is not currently an elected official.

      As an aside, it’s interesting that a lot of these folks know intimate detail of whatever Russiagate conspiracy and have no idea we backed a 2014 coup in this country they now suddenly care so much about. It’s even more interesting how many Putiln = Hitler memes and comments I’ve seen from people who have no idea about the actual Nazis we empowered in the region.

        1. tegnost

          …in denial …
          obliquely related to the slate on restaurants, I have a friend looking for work seeing lots of places needing all positions, notably part time. For a number of reasons I see this as a harbinger of things to come. The slate points out the impact of PPP helping the corporates, so it’s now an even more ruthless workspace than in the past, and there’s trouble getting bodies with hands, forget qualifications, to show up. I imagine those in the industry would have more to say on this topic.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          well…this is a portion of the mirrored inner surface of their collective bubble:

          things i remember reading about …in the mSM(if not CNN)…never happened, and were all in my head.
          Orwell was supposed to be a warning, not a manual.

          the teevee version is even worse…and interspersed with 10 minutes at a time of annoying ads for drugs i can’t afford, and numerous geegaws and vehicles i would never want.

          1. Jen G.

            I think I’m going to peruse a bunch of bookmarked articles I have saved and start deciding which ones I need to definitely have hard copies for…as if that will make a difference with some willfully obtuse people? Nonetheless, a lot of stuff is going down that memory hole these days…

            Thanks Yves and Lambert for being one of the first stops on my bookmarks in my ‘news sites’ folder that. I have a bunch, but this site is one of the few that I check almost daily. Invaluable!

      1. pjay

        Though the neolib and neocon warmongers are simply two intertwined factions of our single War Party, I sometimes sense a key difference between them. I don’t believe the Bush/Cheney neocons actually believed any of their bulls**t propaganda. They just carried out their agenda because they thought they could, exercising their Will to Power while “creating their own realities” for the rest of us dupes. The neolibs, on the other hand, seem to actually believe some of the crap they are saying, holding tight to their assertions despite countervailing evidence as with cherished religious beliefs.

        There is an oft-cited quote by Michael Hudson, that I can’t recall correctly at the moment, about how crazy the Russophobia is among many in our foreign policy Establishment. This might be the scariest aspect of our current debacle to me.

        1. Robert Dudek

          Who else should they be afraid of except the #2 nuclear power on earth. Seems logical, from their point of view.

      2. Robert Dudek

        I’d rather have lifesize waxwork of (insert person X) sitting in the Oval Office than Trump. A lot safer.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Democrats have become a menace to this country and to the world. Ever since Hillary Clinton manufactured her Putin fantasy, her party has become the greatest threat to peace.

          Even Trump would be an improvement as this point.

    6. fresno dan

      February 27, 2022 at 11:27 am
      I agree one thousand percent – it really is astounding how quckly almost (we happy few at NC) the entire US population can be persuaded manipulated into supporting war. If I were not living now, I would never believe that in my life I would see GREATER fervour for war than I did after 9/11…
      I post this too much, but it still explains a lot:
      Hermann Goering: “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece….

      “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

      “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

  32. ambrit

    Biden still owes me $600 from a year ago, and yet can scrounge up $350 million for the Ukraine on short notice.
    This tells us something profound about the government’s priorities.

    1. rowlf

      Can’t you take solace that Biden sent his expert on international border management over to help Ukraine? /s

  33. Carolinian

    This is good on the war even though from India

    Perhaps the key point is this

    Under no circumstances will Russia give up until the twin objectives are realised — dismantling the offensive weapon systems installed by NATO in Ukraine and, secondly, scattering the Neo-Nazi forces that act as the US’ cats-paw.

    Zelensky himself is a mere frontman. He is deeply unpopular, has no political base, rumoured to be a drug addict and unstable personality. He doesn’t make a worthy interlocutor for Modi to discuss war and peace.

    From this point, things can take most dangerous turns unless Biden allows the dialogue between Moscow and Kiev to proceed, as per an offer from Putin. Biden seems, however, inclined to undermine dialogue, while preaching it.

    Zelensky who first accepted Putin’s offer for a meeting has since retracted at American behest and the Russian offensive is resuming.

    Which is to say we, the US, are very much in the middle of this and Biden should get all the blame if he wrecks the American economy along with Ukraine.

    1. Bill

      Agree with everything except that I think peace talks are on again, FWIW. Does that mean Biden has OK’d them?

    2. Robert Dudek

      Do you really buy all this unsubstantiated nonsense? There is propaganda at work on all fronts. Anti-imperialists (and I am one) sometimes assume that other players, like Ukraine, have no agency and are mere puppets. This is usually not the case, as these local people have their own agenda and will work with a greater power when they deem it in their interest. If Kiev wants to talk to Russia, they will talk to them.

      1. flora

        After the last two years, I don’t think the govt or the MSM will ever tell me the truth about anything, except the weather and the sports scores. I don’t think any other govt tells their public the truth either.
        It’s a relief to finally realize I can ignore so much of the blather. (2 years of “noble lies” have that effect on me.) There are all kinds of “what’s really going on” stories out there, some wilder than others.

      2. pjay

        Zelensky was a popular media comedian who was only elected because of sponsorship by one of the most powerful and corrupt oligarchs in Ukraine. He won with something like 75% of the vote because he ran on a peace and reconciliation platform. But immediately after taking office he was forced (apparently) into a pro-Western, anti-Russian position that further divided the country, pushed both by his Western benefactors/funders and by the “ultra-nationalists” who keep the Ukrainian government moving in an anti-Russian direction. He was dangled with promises regarding NATO integration but left hanging when it counted. Western intelligence clearly knew what Russia was going to do (some analysts even claim they were tipped off by the Russians), but I don’t think Zelensky did. There is certainly propaganda on all fronts, but Zelensky has shifted positions on key issues so many times it’s hard to keep track.

        In short, if were talking about the President of Ukraine, I see his agency as very limited. Nevertheless, if he is serious about peace negotiations I wish him all the luck in the world.

  34. juno mas

    RE: Jackalopes

    If you didn’t read the article (it’s mostly long-winded ) at least scroll down to the 1987 photo of Ronald Reagan and Colin Powell in the “Reagan Ranch” home. There you’ll see Powell laughing at Reagan’s mounted Jackalope. The photo caption says Powell wasn’t fooled. Of course not, only indistinct satellite photos, vials of white powder. and hearsay ramblings about WMD’s could do that, in 2002.

  35. .Tom

    Joe Cirincione wrote in Responsible Statecraft “Ukraine does not have, nor can it build, nuclear weapons. The charge is absurd.” Putin gave a lot more detail in his explanation of Ukraine’s position wrt nukes, covering the capabilities they have and those the one they lack (U enrichment), than Cirincione gave in his explanation of Putin’s absurdity.

    ‘Responsible Statecraft” sounds like a boast now.

      1. Robert Dudek

        Not going to happen of course, as there is some likelihood that at some point there will be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev.

  36. m

    $350 million is a little over 23,000 lbs (or 7-800 stinger missiles by weight)

    Or 3% of what we sent to Iraq on pallets in 2004.

    Or 106% of the entire NYT press run if soaked in water. (OK I made that up)

    1. Big River Bandido

      Its a drop in the bucket, no doubt, in terms of war.

      Sure would have paid for a lot of masks, covid tests, and Corsi boxes, though.

  37. MRLost

    The problem with comedians is they make you laugh by telling the truth, not by lying the way most politicians do. So when Zelensky said that if NATO and the West wouldn’t protect Ukraine, then Ukraine would withdraw from the Budapest Memorandum and build its own nuclear weapons, Putin believed him. Further, Putin pointed out this wasn’t a threat like Iran, which had to start from the very bottom of a long process to build such devices, but rather that Ukraine already had multiple nuclear reactors in operation and at least two nuclear research facilities which could be used to produce plutonium. Putin pointed out that all Ukraine lacked was an enrichment process but that this was just a technical problem that Ukraine could solve. Putin has also stated that Russia would not allow Ukraine to possess nuclear weapons. This has been the crux of the entire conflict – other counties staging nuclear weapons on Russia’s borders. So expect Russia to seize Ukraine’s assorted nuclear facilities, dismantle them, return the fuel and such to Russia, and permanently “de-commission” those facilities. Promises cannot be trusted and treaties are regularly broken or abandoned so Russia will do this the hard way. In the meantime, attacking Ukraine cities will just be a way of bottling-up Ukrainian forces. I expect Chernobyl will be held as a “trust” with the help of Belarus and they will engage Japanese assistance in neutralizing that long term problem. It has also been pointed out that counties like Poland and Germany will be just fine with Ukraine not have its own nuclear weapons.

    1. Oh

      If they use the Japanese to assist in denuclearizing the facilities, they’ll pollute the Mediterranean. /1/2s

  38. dbk

    Many thanks to Lambert for posting John Mearsheimer’s 2015 lecture at UofChicago. For those interested in the deeper historical / root causes of the conflict, and the long-term goals of each side (i.e. Russia – U.S. + EU), it’s really enlightening. The situation is far more complex than we’re given to understand by MSM, which just makes my head hurt these past several days. Mearsheimer makes a lot of sense, and he doesn’t succumb to the meme-of-the-day. He takes it as a given that both Russia and China are thinking strategically and long-term.

  39. farmboy

    There are 2 concentrations of foreign activity in Russian energy. The first is BP via direct holdings. The second are Western contractors who do lots of technical work. Both are now dead. That will reduce Russian oil output by half. The question is the timeframe for the decline.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        Sounds like cultural chauvinism to me, i.e. without western expertise the benighted Russians aren’t going to be able to maintain production.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Well, Russians have been developing oil fields only since 1878 and currently have only 7 universities dedicated to oil and gas industry. What can they really know?

          Seriously though, they don’t currently have the expertise to develop the promising arctic off-shore fields, but then, neither has anyone else.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            There are active off-shore fields north of Alaska. Russian reserves may be in somewhat deeper water, but the technology certainly exists in the US industry to set up Arctic off-shore fields. Western Oil companies have been doing this for half a century. The Russians have off-shore expertise in the Sakhalin Island area, but they are still well behind in terms of experience and perhaps most crucially, access to the best drilling equipment and associated software.

            I’ve no in-depth knowledge of Russian oil and gas, but the relatively friendly nature of Russian oil and gas geology has left its industry somewhat behind in drilling technology when it comes to maximizing production from depleted fields. As Russia is rapidly running out of the easy to access oil and gas they will find it a very steep learning curve if they can’t get foreign expertise. Thanks to fracking, there have been enormous increases in productivity in drilling marginal fields in the past few years, its unlikely the Russians will have access to this knowhow without going into partnerships.

            1. Polar Socialist

              I have to correct myself – they do have the “indigenous” Prirazlomnaya platform, though.

              In 2019 Pavel Sorokin, Russia’s deputy minister of Energy estimated it would take 5-7 years for Russia to develop the arctic off-shore technologies economical enough. He also estimated that due to all the red tape it would take much longer to get the permissions required to drill in the arctic.
              According to him one needs 180 permissions from 20 separate bureaucracies, which is the main reason for nobody being keen to invest in test drilling, which means there are no actual understanding of the arctic fields. Which again keeps any further investment at bay.
              Other thing is that there’s still untapped on-shore fields to develop with the same bureaucratic problems but without all the off-shore issues.

              So, I guess with Russian economy on war footing they could manage to at least make Greenpeace very angry.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            There is a more detailed technical discussion of the issues the Russian oil and gas industry in this report. A key issue it highlights is not access to expertise, but to the specialist chemicals and software developed by the industry in the west.

    1. Michael

      BP to exit Rosneft and give up two Board seats



  40. fresno dan

    I don’t know what it says about modern American corporate media **, that I find better, more accurate, more insightful, more objective, and more meaningful analysis from the commentaters on NC than any commercial*** source…
    ** actually, I know exactly what it means. The media is totally corrupt because it has been supplanted by the non-partisan elites, who are totally corrupt.
    ***Lenin:The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.
    fresnodan corolary: The capitalists will sell us so much bullsh*t that we will hang ourselves.

  41. Brian Beijer

    I posted this here a couple of days ago but I didn’t get much of a response other than “Perhaps Zalensky mis-spoke”. I seriously do not believe this is the case and therefore I have decided to repost it because my “gut” is telling me this is an important piece regarding the EU’s response to what is happening in Ukraine. Here is what I wrote:

    Also, I would like to add a brief comment on Zelensky’s speech about asking the Euopean leaders if Ukraine could be a member of NATO. Accrording to RT he says, “I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe if Ukraine will be in NATO.” Since when are ALL 27 countries in the EU are also in NATO? Last I checked, Sweden was not in NATO. At least, not according to the Swedish parliament and Prime Minister.

    Doing a Google search, it says that 6 EU countries are NOT a member of NATO: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. I just thought it’s interesting that Zelensky inadvertently implies that 6 countries are secretly members of NATO and their citizens don’t seem to know. Otherwise, why would he contact a non-NATO country to ask if his cojntry could be a member?

    The reason why I think this is important is that I think I’m correct that Zalensky did not “mis-speak” and that it is true that ALL EU countries are actually also NATO members. I was pondering this last night and thinking about the EU’s quest to have a common military defence force. This is obviously a long-term goal of the EU in order to become the “Supra State” that it wishes to be. It would be impossible to acheive this goal right off the bat unless all countries agreed to also be a member of NATO as a condition of joining. Otherwise, you would always have a few countries refusing to provide military assistance during a conflict that involved a NATO member. It would be impossible to ever have an EU military at that point. I think that Zalensky didn’t get anything wrong when he reported that he called ALL 27 leaders to ask if Ukraine could join NATO. To me, the reason why this is important given the Ukraine situation is that one should look at the actions of individual EU countries as though they are coming from a single force, NATO… regardless of their status. I realize that making the charge that all EU countires are NATO members is almost superfluous given that all EU countries are already puppets of the US in almost every international situation, but to me, it still seems that this piece of information is relevant and crucial to understanding how different countries in the West are responding “unanimously”. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I truly think this needs further consideration.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Otherwise, you would always have a few countries refusing to provide military assistance during a conflict that involved a NATO member.

      If you look carefully enough, being a member doesn’t mean you get military assistance. You get the kind of assistance the other members deem they can/want to give.

      Also, for NATO to works as EU common defense, you would have to seriously kick out the members that are not in EU, otherwise it would not works at all.

  42. Raymond Sim

    Sublimating loogies are one thing, but slaughtering and butchering infected animals? Now we’re talking!

    Have you ever put something large and warm in a frig only to have the door subequently pop open? That a refrigerator or freezer housing freshly butchered raccoon dog might puff out aerosols every time it’s opened sounds extremely plausible to me.

  43. Jason Boxman

    China and Russia believe big powers should be entitled to special considerations for protecting their sovereignty — including, apparently, a veto over the choices of their smaller neighbors. For them, protecting sovereignty is inextricably connected to their own political, or regime, security — whereas in the West, the term is generally used to apply equally to all states with no special provisions for more powerful countries. Ultimately, when Ukraine’s sovereignty and Russia’s “sovereignty” compete, China will side with Russia — in part because Beijing wants similar prerogatives in East Asia. (Both powers argue the United States has enjoyed similar privileges in the Western Hemisphere since imposing the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, and as major powers, they’re entitled to their own versions.)

    How do people even write this sh1t with a straight face? Like the United States doesn’t have particular influence into Mexico, and other south and central American countries, overly and covertly. OAS? School of the Americas? DEA? Wall Street?


    Jacob Stokes is a fellow in the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He previously served as an advisor in the White House and the U.S. Congress.

    So there’s that. Which White House? GWB? Although this would be right at home in the Obama administration or, if there had been one, a H Clinton administration. The stupid is bi-partisan.

  44. Paradan

    I’ve decided that Twitter is the political equivalent of handing out 25,000 assault rifles to an urban population that has no hope for a better future.

  45. josh

    The last few days I have spent way too much time on twitter to be healthy. Lots of vehicles destroyed and abandoned, both Russian and Ukrainian. Decent collection of equipment destruction: One factor at play is that Russia has no interest in touting their combat victories, while Ukraine is incentivized to plaster some NSFL media all over the Internet. Significance of Russian losses, even if verified, aren’t known, while Ukrainian losses are barely documented.

    FTR, I see this mostly as evil empire v kleptocracy (take your pick) with Ukraine in the middle. Stated bias: the world might be a better place if a small but motivated defense can make invasion by a larger force seem very unattractive.

    This is mostly a sanity check for myself, but in the last 24 hours or so…

    Chechens took Hostomel (again?). A Chechen convoy then got wiped out by presumed TB2 drone strike. Ukrainian jets seem to be mostly knocked out, but air defense and drones are still up.

    Credible video of Spetznatz marching into the city behind some light vehicles, which even for this armchair general seemed real dumb. Some later pictures of burned out Russian vehicles that seem to prove me right. Reports of a couple of young Russian POWs stopping at police station to ask for gas. Either an elaborate way to nope out of the fight, or some of the dumber units believed the “police action” nonsense. If Kharkiv can’t get resupply I don’t see how they can hold out for more than a few days. On the other hand, it won’t come cheap to the Russians and I’m not convinced they can actually cut off a city of 1.4m with the forces currently deployed.

    In the south, still active combat in and around Kherson. Recent fighting in Berdyans’k and Tokmak. Russian advance either methodical or bogged down depending on perspective.

    I think the Russian leadership has already lost: economically, military credibility, and domestically. Ukraine lost as soon as they found themselves between NATO and Russia, but it’s yet to be seen how badly Ukraine loses too.

    I think this story qualifies as an antidote after all the horrors I’ve scrolled through. tldr: Russian riot police join the invasion from Belarus, split off for some reason and Leeroy Jenkins their way into Kyiv.

  46. Maxwell Johnston

    Not mentioned in today’s comments or links (so I’ll raise it now) is today’s threat by USA/EU to freeze the assets of Russia’s central bank. I.e., Russia’s huge foreign currency reserves (or at least those that are denominated in USD or EUR). If true, this is a massive escalation. I will even say that it’s the single biggest card that the USA/EU can play short of actually engaging in a shooting war. It is basically theft: and I personally would think twice before stealing billions from a country with a vast nuclear arsenal, but then again I’m not part of The Blob.

    I think it no coincidence that a few hours after this threat was made, Putin made his nuclear announcement (on a Sunday morning, and though he used bureaucratic wording, the nature of his threat is clear to those in the know). And a few hours after Putin’s speech, the Ukrainians duly sent a team of diplomats to the Belarussian border for negotiations.

    This situation is escalating way faster than I had anticipated. Regardless of the wisdom or morality of Russia’s actions, the hysterical knee-jerk reactions from the USA/EU disturb me. Even if the war ends in a month, the long term consequences will be with us for decades.

    I will be watching the currency markets very closely tomorrow morning. If the Russians are unable to liquidate their USD/EUR holdings, then I would expect the gloves to come off. Anything could happen, especially in the west of Ukraine. This is not cool, by any means.

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      Not mentioned in today’s comments or links (so I’ll raise it now) is today’s threat by USA/EU to freeze the assets of Russia’s central bank.

      Hard to believe Russia would continue to send natural gas or oil to Europe and the US if the euro and dollar payments they receive for it start getting seized.

  47. Screwball

    I don’t know how many follow Nassim Taleb on Twitter, but what happened to that guy?

    Last week he was all over Caty Johnstone, and today all over Glenn Greenwald – and it’s not pretty. Wow!

    1. aleric

      He seems to have personal connections in Ukraine that are overriding his usual skepticism. He seems pretty unhinged.

      1. Screwball

        Could be, but he has been pretty unhinged as you say. I always like to read him. I’ve read his books. But now he sounds at times like a madman.

        1. Robert Dudek

          You have to understand that as a young man he saw his family lose almost everything in the Lebanese civil war. I’d assume this had a profound impact on him and he probably perceives that the same kind of thing is happening in Ukraine (he’s not wrong).

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Holding African hostages? As human shields? Giving the African countries some skin in the game?

  48. drumlin woodchuckles

    Is it rude to express the hope that all the no-mask libertarians earn and collect their Herman Cain awards so that the totebaggers no longer have to live in fear of Typhoid Libertarian Covid?

    1. ambrit

      Wait just a minute there!
      Are you promoting a little ‘TLC’ for the Sans Masquers?
      You’re half right anyway. The “Herman Cain Awards” are just a month away.
      Also, shouldn’t that be “Tottenbaggers?” It has the proper PMC “sense of finality” to it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, a kinder and gentler alternative would be long boring lectures about how everybody masking keeps everybody a little bit safer. And good public and private ventilation would keep everybody a little more safer. And all the health-and-immunity nutrient/supplement/povidone measures would add a further layer to the informal safety.

        Maybe enough extra people would survive long enough to force the issue of public health restoration and public-directed covid control.

        But in the meantime, totebaggers can only do what they can to help themselves and eachother survive in the teeth of a combined Libertarian — Governmental conspiracy to give us all covid over and over and over again.

        Ich bin ein Totebagger?

  49. Louis Fyne

    wow, Germany will actually send weapons to Ukraine.

    No Russian gas, no German exports. like it or not, acknowledge thermodynamics realities or not, it is Germany’s turn to feel austerity when those taps run dry.

  50. Sub-Boreal

    Does the “totebag crowd” = “lanyard people”? Asking for a friend.

    (I feel a Venn diagram coming on.)

    1. Foy

      The US have so many countries sanctioned out there that I’m losing track, and it sounds like so are they. “Well we just sanctioned these guys, but that’s turning into a bit of a stuff up, so I guess um that means we’ll have to unsanction those guys”

    2. Foy

      I’ll just leave this here so you can be clear on who you are cheering for. Where were the all DC types when these guys were shelling and shooting Donbass Russian speaking civilians for the last 8 years and doing things like burning them alive in the Union building in Odessa? 15000 dead.

      Ukraine: Nazism, denazification, banderovets, residential area artillery, and guns for everyone:

      Its only 12 minutes, wont take you long

  51. antidlc
    All 535 members of Congress invited to Biden’s State of the Union address, but masks required

    Anyone attending the address will still have to follow COVID safety protocols.

    Per the memo, anyone attending the address in person will be required to present a negative PCR test, wear a K/N95 mask, and fill out a health attestation form. Social distancing will still be required. Boosters are “strongly recommended.” Members will also not be permitted to bring guests, as is usually customary in the pre-COVID era.

    The memo also noted: “failure to follow guidelines or removal of the mask in the House Chamber will result in the attendee’s removal from the event and/or fines.”

    1. Darius

      So the CDC says the hoi polloi should remove their masks, but this is the president, so it’s serious. When it’s someone really important, safety protocols will be followed. Not for all you schlubs, though.

  52. Jason Boxman

    Given how screwed up stuff is of lately, random thought: Can we just blow soap bubbles everywhere and that’ll fix the pandemic?

    1. Brian Beijer

      This doesn’t sound like anything Putin would say. As far as I know he’s never once talked about restoring Russia’s past glory, especially not in regards to attackng Ukraine. Putin doesn’t use this kind of language. That’s more like Trump-speak or Kim Jong-Un. I would guess this is written on a Russian nationalist web site. In other words, I doubt it was ever meant to be official government news.

    2. OnceWereVirologist

      Guy’s a journalist writing an opinion piece. Just like journalists do in the West. There’s going to a be a lot of US national security journalists writing pieces in the next few months saying that now’s the time to double the defense budget and reinforce Europe before Putin invades Poland. And there’s going to be lots of Russian national security journalists writing that now’s the time to reunite the Russias. It’s just a mixture of background noise, lobbying, and public perception management.

  53. NotTimothyGeithner

    b’s map guy updated.

    b’s map guy updated

    There are two bridges basically due east of the of the gap in the cauldron. The other bridges are under direct Russian control or far away from the Ukranian forces in the cauldron which this guy puts at 45,000.

  54. orlbucfan

    The CIA and the New Dialect of Power American Affairs
    Got my MA in psycho-linguistics. Enjoyed the read. It is an important one.

  55. Anthony G Stegman

    What I have not seen with respect to the reporting and handwringing regarding the Russian incursion into Ukraine is the racial component. All of this “I stand with Ukraine” stuff has racist overtones. Ukraine is a largely caucasian nation, whereas places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen are not. Europe has announced that they will welcome refugees from Ukraine with open arms, while they would not do the same for refugees from the many Middle East conflicts that they in fact helped enable. Now that is deplorable!!!

    1. Foy

      Yep and as Neils showed in his post above, the Poles are not letting the black refugees from the Ukraine into their country, leaving them outside to freeze. And gotta be white to get on the train out of Ukraine. Quite something to see.

  56. JBird4049

    I think that not enough attention to the food exports of Ukraine and Russia. Some people have mentioned it, but not enough. There are likely dozens of countries that will be affected.

    The world’s food is fungible and in good years there is enough (mostly). When countries even suspect that there will be any shortage of food, government goes into panic and starts buying, hoarding, even blocking exports. Then add the fearful citizens and profiteering merchants who also start hoarding. Even when there is enough food.

    The great famines of the past two centuries only became true catastrophes when the local government usually, but not always, British either refused to set up food kitchens or block food exports even using the army to prevent any “theft.” They justified it with libertarian ideology along with words like “the surplus population.” (Victorian England was run under libertarian policies of the most extreme kind. Therefore, so was the Empire.). Adding the free trade policy of theirs and it reminds me of today. This includes the increasing importance of the banks as well.

    What I am saying is that, if the spring planting does not occur, there will be social unrest at least or maybe war.

    If the United States had any administration or regime that could see beyond increasing its own hoard, dragon like, perhaps the country could use its food wealth to guarantee the most vulnerable people and countries their food supplies, slowing the panic, but that would require imagination, thinking, discipline, and decency. That means that they will not.

    No flexibility. No reserves. No wisdom. Just a lust for power and power as well as great fears making everyone stupid.

  57. Paradan

    “the country could use its food wealth to guarantee the most vulnerable people and countries their food supplies..”

    But that’s socialism!

      1. JBird4049

        Ah, but we can have all wars all the time, which is my point. Just as the British used its libertarian dogma to crush the Irish and the Indians by starvation, while making money from it, so would the United States.

        And just as the threat of famine can cause suffering and very real war, and the very famine people are scared of because of this panic, it can also create chaos that nobody can control because those with power, or even influence, will be too busy making bank to notice until it is too late.

        Socialism for the wealthy, poverty for everyone else, until it all collapses.

  58. EWilliams

    Two classic lectures: John Mearsheimer’s 2015 lecture at UChicago is featured above. Another is by Vladimir Pozner given at Yale in 2018. Both focus on strategic policy in the USA and Russia. Both go into the history of the Ukraine conflict, the provocative role of the USA, and the imperative underlying the Russian response. Pozner makes the additional point that there seems to be more anti Russian feeling in the USA (and anti US feeling in Russia) today than there was 30-40 years ago.

    Vladimir Pozner: “How the United States Created Vladimir Putin” (Speech at Yale University, September 2018), Two hours

    1. bwilli123

      Also the below is very instructive of what is at stake in a larger sense from a Russian perspective. A longish essay by Sergey Karaganov
      Google translate version.

      …”So far, the conditional West, both internally and externally, and even economically, is on the trajectory of a slow but sure downward slide. It is this fall – after almost five centuries of dominance in world politics, economics, culture, and especially after, as it seemed, the final victory of the 1990s – mid-2000s. – the main reason for the unleashing of a new Cold War by the West.”

  59. Michael

    Many stories up now stating damage to two nuclear storage facilities from missile strikes. Bloomberg leading the charge, starting a chain reaction of mis information.

    “Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that missiles hit the site of a radioactive waste disposal facility in Kiev overnight but there were no reports of damage to the building or any indications of a radioactive release, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.”

    “The incident came a day after SNRIU said an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility near the north-eastern city of Kharkiv had been damaged, also without any reports of a radioactive release. Such facilities typically hold disused radioactive sources and other low-level waste from hospitals and industry.”

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