Monday, January 31, 2022

Neil Young, Joe Rogan, and the censorship that wasn't

 Steve Berman and I are a good example of how conservatives are not monolithic. We both agree on the broad principles of conservatism, but we often disagree on the details to the point that some of our Twitter friends are aghast when we do hold the same opinion.

The former is the case with the Spotify kerfuffle. When I woke up and was thinking about what to write about today, I thought it was probably time to address the issue, which has been all over social media for the past few days. Then I read Steve’s piece, which was well-reasoned but which I disagreed with on many points.

My point can be summed up in my 280-characters-or-less tweet from Saturday in that the Spotify battle isn’t a matter of censorship but a private contractual matter. No one is censoring Joe Rogan and that suggestion has not even been seriously made by anyone to the best of my knowledge.

Let me preface my discussion by saying that I’m not in either camp. I tried to listen to Rogan’s podcast a couple of times and found it to be unlistenable and way too long. Three hours is too much even for a good podcast, much less Rogan’s rambling. I don’t have anything personal against Rogan though. I enjoyed watching him on “News Radio” (I may be the only one who remembers that show) and “Fear Factor.”

On the other hand, I’m not a Neil Young fan. His music predates my time and, as Lynyrd Skynyrd said of Young, “A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”

On the third hand, I have a paid Spotify subscription and I’m happy with the service. I’m not canceling any time soon.

So here’s my take on what’s happening. Rogan has a very objectionable podcast that has been cranking out a lot of misinformation. Neil Young, among others, doesn’t like Rogan’s podcast, especially the fact that Rogan is using his platform as an anti-vax megaphone. His misinformation is literally getting people killed. (And I mean that in the traditional definition of “literally,” not the modern meaning where “literally” means “figuratively.”)

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But the details about what happened have gotten a bit distorted in the reporting. Last Monday, Rolling Stone reported that Young had sent an initially open letter to his record label and management team with an ultimatum: “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY [emphasis his] that I want all my music off their platform.”

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young continued.

Is this an attempt at censorship? Not really.

Think about this: If Spotify had decided to remove Rogan’s podcast, he would have lost a platform, but he would not have been silenced or censored. There are a lot of other platforms for Rogan to stream his show including Stitcher, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Even Napster is still around and would probably benefit from having a popular show like Rogan’s.

What seems to have happened is that Neil Young got what he wanted, which was to not have his music on the same platform as Rogan’s podcast. I’m sure he would have preferred if his music was still on Spotify and Rogan’s show was gone, but I don’t think Young is very concerned about the loss of revenue from streaming on Spotify.

Billboard reports that Young will lose about three-quarters of a million dollars annually from leaving Spotify, and while that seems like a lot of money, the singer reportedly earns more than $10 million per year and has a net worth of more than $64 million. The break with Spotify won’t be painless, but Young can afford to back up his beliefs with his wallet, a characteristic that many grifters on the right apparently do not share.

I see the Young-Rogan-Spotify clash as a private business dispute in which Young exercised his right to freedom of association and to exert control over his musical portfolio. The bottom line here for me is that we live in a free country. Neil Young can pull his music from Spotify for whatever reason he wants and Spotify could pull Joe Rogan’s show for whatever reason it wants.

This view is supported by a second letter from Neil Young explaining his decision.

“I support free speech,” he wrote in a letter quoted by Rolling Stone. “I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front-line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”

Young went on to complain that Spotify’s music files are of low quality and inferior to other sites. While I can’t hear the difference, Joe Rogan was apparently not Young’s only complaint about Spotify.

Conservatives shouldn’t jump to defend Rogan’s show, which is pretty raunchy and contains a lot more objectionable material than just anti-vax screeds, just because he’s the cause célèbre of the moment and because Young is a liberal. Rogan is no conservative even though many on the right like his anti-vax message (again I have to shake my head at that).

But Rogan shouldn’t be banned either. He has a right to speak, no matter how wrong-headed his message is.

But I’d be fine if Spotify and other platforms decided to drop Rogan’s show because, as I’ve said many times before, denying someone a megaphone is not the same as denying them the right to speak. You have a right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to be heard across the country and around the world. That’s especially true when the podcast platforms are private companies and making business decisions of their own free will. Maybe some will decide, as Young did, that it isn’t worth the profits to be associated with Rogan.

The important point is that it would not be the government that would be limiting Rogan’s reach. Private companies can do decide who to do business with and who to drop, but the government cannot force them to drop (or to carry) shows like Rogan’s. That would be a First Amendment violation.

A Venn diagram of the First Amendment relationship to censorship would have the “First Amendment“ circle entirely within the censorship circle. First Amendment cases are only a subset of censorship examples and in many cases, censorship is not only legal but beneficial.

For example, in my house, I don’t allow obscene material or Church of Satan leaflets. That’s censorship, but it’s legal and most of us would probably agree that it’s appropriate. It’s also appropriate and legal for businesses and artists to have some control over who they do business with and who they refuse to partner with.

What Neil Young did was more akin to a boycott than an attempt at censorship. He said that if Spotify wanted to do business with Rogan then they couldn’t do business with him. That’s not only legal, it is the same thing that members of the right have done against numerous companies, from Disney to the NFL, that transgressed their beliefs in some way.

Going back to the beginning, Steve and I don’t always agree, but we are both coming at this from a conservative angle. Steve puts more emphasis on the fact that many would like to silence Rogan. On the other hand, my emphasis is on the fact that Rogan should not be immune from the fallout of his comments if private entities decide that they don’t want to be associated with him.

We may disagree, but we do so in good nature and I think that’s something that the rest of the country could learn from us. As much as I think the world would be a better place if everyone was like me, it would also be a less interesting place without disagreements and squabbles. The key is to not take disagreements personally and assume that anyone who doesn’t think like you on every issue is the Worst Person in the World.


Congratulations to the Cincinnati Bengals and the LA Rams, the two contenders in this year’s Superbowl. I don’t really have a dog in this hunt, but I’ll probably be pulling for the Bengals since we lived in Northern Kentucky just outside Cincy for while.

Despite living there, I never learned to spell the name of the city and I still rely on autocorrect. I know it’s either two “ns” or two “ts” but I always guess wrong.

In the Tweet of the Day, He Who Is No Longer On Twitter confirmed in a nontweet that he really wanted Mike Pence to overturn the election. This message should live in infamy and may/should come back to haunt The Former Guy.


From the Racket

Friday, January 28, 2022

Will Republicans burst their bubble?

 As we lead up to the primary season, all signs are pointing towards a crushing defeat for the Democrats. COVID is persisting, inflation is lingering, and Biden's foreign policy is flagging. It should be a banner year for Republicans.

FiveThirtyEight, among its other polling averages, tracks polls that show voter partisan preferences for Congress. Currently, the average shows Republicans favored by about two points over the Democrats, and historically, when Republicans are even close to on par with the Democrats in such polling, they do very well in elections.

Photo by Braedon McLeod on Unsplash

The potential problem for Republicans is that voters prefer a generic Republican over a generic Democrat, but unfortunately, generic Republicans won’t be on the ballot in November. Given some of the personalities that dominate the GOP these days, I have wondered whether Republicans will do something to muck it up.

Erick Erickson hit on some of those same doubts this week. As most of you probably know, once upon a time, I was a writer for Erick’s Resurgent blog. These days, I disagree with his assessment of the relative dangers of MAGA populism versus liberalism, but even with our disagreements, Erick is still a savvy political observer. In a video clip this week, Erickson cited some of the same concerns about the upcoming election.

The bottom line is that, while voters can prefer one party over the other, sometimes there are other concerns or factors that override those partisan preferences. I can think of a few examples among Republican candidates of the past, but the one that really sticks out in my mind is Christine O’Donnell.

If you think back to 2010, you will remember that it was a Tea Party wave election year. Republicans gained 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate but nevertheless failed to win control of the upper body. Christine O’Donnell was one of the reasons.

Looking back to 2009, Joe Biden had to resign his Delaware Senate seat to become vice president. Delaware’s governor appointed a Democrat as a placeholder to fill the seat until the next election. A popular Republican former governor and congressman named Mike Castle ran for the seat and was the presumed frontrunner.

Enter Christine O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was a Tea Party favorite who said all the right things and hated all the right people. The Tea Party faction labeled Castle a “RINO,” and at one point a website supporting O’Donnell even accused him of having a homosexual affair. On primary Election Day, O’Donnell pulled off an upset to become the Republican nominee.

Then things got interesting. It was only after she won that people started taking a close look at O’Donnell and a number of skeletons soon emerged from her closet. I won’t rehash them all, but the most memorable was the revelation that she had “dabbled into witchcraft” from a 1999 episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” That was the most memorable of her problems, but it was far from the only one.

Needless to say, O’Donnell lost the general election to Chris Coons, who is still the junior senator from Delaware to this day. Republicans wouldn’t gain control of the Senate until four years later.

O’Donnell was far from the only Tea Party candidate to fail to close the deal with voters. In fact, the Tea Party was much more successful at getting candidates nominated than in getting them into office. In its best year, 2010, only about a third of Tea Party candidates won their elections despite the popularity of the movement within the GOP. (Full disclosure: I considered myself a Tea Partier in those days and attended several events.) The moral of the story is that primary voters need to consider electability in the general election.

The reason I summon up Christine O’Donnell’s spirit is that quite a few of the candidates that Republicans are considering this year are O’Donnell-esque in their personalities and histories. For example, in his video, Erickson cites:

  • David Perdue, the failed Georgia senator who is running for governor and polls much worse against Stacey Abrams than Brian Kemp

  • Herschel Walker, the frontrunner for the Georgia Senate seat, has a history of mental illness and released a weird, rambling campaign video on Twitter earlier this month

  • Josh Mandel, running for Senate in Ohio, who Erick says has “gone off the rails” and whose “campaign is an embarrassment”

  • J.D Vance, also running for Senate in Ohio, is a former NeverTrumper who has gone to the opposite extreme and competing with Mandel to see who can be most trumpy to the detriment of both

  • Dr. Oz, a celebrity and Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, who has so far confirmed that he is a political novice without deep support

On the one hand, Republicans have a number of weak candidates who are unaccustomed to campaigning. On the other hand, Donald Trump has an ax to grind against some Republicans who he deemed insufficiently loyal during his tenure. This includes Brian Kemp, who Trump blames for not intervening to overturn election results in Georgia.

There really are two Republican Parties. There are the vestiges of the party of Reagan and Bush and there is the new Trumpist Republican Party that comprises people like Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene ( who, by the way, endorsed J.D. Vance). The question is which Republican Party will be nominating the preponderance of candidates this spring.

While this sort of candidate can get elected in red states and districts, they have a tougher time in swing districts and purple states. It is these not-so-red areas that Republicans need to win, but that might be turned off by eccentric (to put it nicely) candidates. Herschel Walker strikes me as one of the candidates most likely to pull an O’Donnell and flame out after winning the nomination. Republicans should be praying that he never debates Raphael Warnock.

I’d like to see traditional Republicans come out on top, but I have my doubts. Unlike Erickson, I’m no longer a Republican. I’ve been a swing voter since 2016 and at this point have no qualms about rejecting Republicans who shouldn’t be in office.

A line in the sand for me is voting for anyone who sided with Trump in his coup attempt, especially if they continue to do so. Attempting to overturn elections and the Constitution to put The Former Guy in office for a second term trumps any danger that the left presents. For example, I’m one of the people who plans to vote for Brian Kemp, but if David Perdue is nominated, he will not get my vote for governor, just as he did not get my vote for his reelection to the Senate.

As in 2020, the dynamic between the two parties may put the squeeze on swing voters and moderates. People aren’t happy with the Biden Administration and the Democrats, but they also weren’t happy with the Trump Administration. A politically astute party might offer independent voters what they want in a candidate and a party platform. Unfortunately, in America in 2022, we don’t have one of those. We will likely get to choose between progressivism and Trumpism once again.

If Republicans don’t consider the desires and concerns of the undecided voters in the middle, instead assuming that every voter in the country is a closet MAGA true believer who wants to see Joe Biden impeached and the January 6 committee packed off to jail, they may well end up nominating a bevy of Christine O’Donnells. That might mean that Democrats retain their hold on one or both houses of Congress or, worse, they might get elected and saddle Republicans (and Americans) with another handful of Marjorie Taylor Greens.

From the Racket

Gog me with a spoon

 I’m pretty sure everyone else is going to lead off with the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer today, but we really don’t know that much about the situation yet, so y’all are just going to have to wait until later in the piece for my take on it. To start with, I’m going to talk about something that I started pondering while hiking yesterday: Gog of Magog.

If the phrase “Gog of Magog” doesn’t sound familiar to you, I’m sure that you aren’t alone. It comes from a rather obscure Biblical prophecy found in chapter 38 of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 38:2-4 contains a description of Gog:

“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.”

Putin holds a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden on 7 December 2021 By, CC BY 4.0,


The prophecy is obscure for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t one of the more well-known Biblical prophecies, but it also isn’t clear as to what it means or who Gog is. The reason that I thought about it yesterday was that Russian aggression is once again in the news, and many Biblical scholars think that the prophecy may point towards a latter-day confrontation between Russia and Israel.

Back in 2008, I wrote a blog post that describes the theology and scholarship regarding Gog of Magog. Suffice it to say that clues in the passage above point towards Russia as the home of Gog of Magog, whoever he might be. The entire prophecy speaks of an alliance that Gog will lead against Israel in a war that many theologians believe will take place prior to the end-time events of the Revelation that most of us are familiar with.

My purpose here is not to speculate that Vladimir Putin is Gog and that he will veer south to attack Israel at some point (although that was on my mind in 2008). I think that there is way too much twisting of prophecy in an attempt to make it fit the events of the day. I’ve gotten to the point where I think a lot of the church is like the ancient Israelites who read so much into the prophecies and had so many expectations of how they would be fulfilled, that they didn’t recognize it when prophecy was unveiled before their eyes. In my opinion, it doesn’t pay to be dogmatic about how prophecy will be fulfilled.

Rather, the thought that I had as I walked was that it was curious that so many evangelicals seem to be enamored with Vladimir Putin when Russia has traditionally been on the wrong side of end-time events according to our interpretations of eschatology.

Like a lot of other Christians, I developed an intense interest in eschatology in the 1990s as I read Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s “Left Behind” series. My curiosity inspired me to dig deeper and I ended up reading a lot of books about prophecy. The authors of a lot of these books, including LaHaye, Joel Rosenberg, and John Hagee, identified the Gog prophecy with Russia. Even the Rapture Ready Index, a three-decades-old compilation of factors believed to be associated with the end times, equates Gog with Russia (the index currently stands only three points below its all-time high from 2016).

Given the prevailing view among evangelicals that Russia will one day attack Israel and incur God’s wrath, I had to wonder why it was that so many conservative Christian Americans are sympathetic to Putin’s Russia. After all, prophecy aside, there are many reasons to keep your distance from Putin, both metaphorically and literally speaking. The guy is a former KGB officer, he has started three wars, and people who criticize him tend to turn up dead or disappear into whatever they call the gulags these days.

Frankly, I don’t have a good answer, although I could offer some theories. The most obvious is the ongoing political realignment that I wrote about earlier this week in which the Republican Party, at least partly led by Donald Trump, moves towards a more pro-Russia position. Some might also view Putin as God’s instrument after Russia meddling in the 2016 election put Trump over the top. Less obvious is the Matthew 24:24 possibility (or warning) that Christians can be deceived by false prophets.

One thing that I don’t see evidence for is the idea that Christian supporters of Putin are purposely trying to speed up the end-times timeline by helping prophecy along. While this is an occasional trope in books and films, I’ve never seen anyone with this attitude in the church. These people may exist, but they aren’t common.

If anything, I’d say that more Christians would be the opposite. The fears about implanted chips, cashless transactions, and the Mark of the Beast, not to mention the whole idea of Making America Great Again, seem to indicate a belief that political action might delay the Second Coming. (I also find it curious that so many Christians seem to be preparing to live through the Tribulation when most evangelicals believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture, but I digress.)

In reality, God is going to work on God’s timeline. Nothing man can do is going to speed up or delay his ultimate plan. It will happen when it happens and it will come like a “thief in the night.”

At any rate, the whole matter is curious and seems to reflect a shift in thinking among evangelicals about the end-times and Russia’s (or at least Putin’s) role in prophecy.

In the end, we don’t know for certain that the Gog prophecy has anything to do with Russia, but we also don’t know that it doesn’t. When in doubt, don’t trust former members of the KGB.


Now, on the Supreme Court…

Justice Stephen Breyer announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court yesterday. Breyer, an 83-year-old who was appointed by Bill Clinton, will serve until the end of the current term.

The Democrats have been burned when it comes to recent Supreme Court nominations. First, Mitch McConnell declined to act on the appointment of Merrick Garland in 2016 and then Hillary Clinton lost the election, giving Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint three new justices, including a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in the runup to the 2020 election. These confirmations were the unequivocal high point of the Trump Administration, but for Democrats, they stung.

I have to believe that Breyer was considering all this when he announced his retirement. By retiring now, before the 2022 midterms, Majority Leader Schumer will be running the circus that is our confirmation process.

Does anyone really think that if Mitch McConnell was running the Senate that he wouldn’t defer the confirmation for two years until the voters had a chance to weigh in? And then another four if the Democrats win the White House again in 2024? I thought not.

I won’t speculate on who Biden will appoint except to say that he made a campaign promise to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court. Beyond that, his nominee is going to have to gain the Manchin-Sinema seal of approval, so he can’t nominate someone too far to the left. I wouldn't be surprised if Biden's pick even gets a few Republican votes.

I don’t think that the Supreme Court will be a big issue in the midterms for two reasons. One, Breyer is one of the Court’s liberals so a Biden appointee won’t shift the balance of the Court, which currently leans to the right. Second, the confirmation will be ancient history and forgotten by November.

Clarence Thomas, 73, is the second-oldest currently serving justice. If something happens to Thomas, all bets are off.

The FDA revoked its approval for monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Tuesday, prompting a tirade from the DeSantis Administration in Florida. DeSantis, leery of promoting vaccines and offending the anti-vax members of the GOP base, had invested heavily in monoclonal antibody treatments for the Sunshine State.

Per the Orlando Sentinel, DeSantis claimed the decision was based on “a single, non-peer-reviewed, non-clinical study that was actually done by a consultant for a rival company to the other two monoclonal antibody treatments. ... It’s really a reckless decision to be able to take this option away from patients.”

In reality, both Regeneron and Eli Lilly acknowledge that their treatments are not effective against Omicron. That’s pretty strange behavior for Big Pharma companies that could be raking in boatloads of cash for selling their treatments in a pandemic… if they worked.

Daniel Dale provides written evidence that DeSantis is lying in our Tweet of the Day.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Stop Putin now

 The situation in Ukraine is deteriorating. Over the weekend, the British claimed to have exposed a plot by Russia to replace Ukraine’s government with friendly puppets while the US has ordered nonessential diplomatic staff and civilians to leave the country. President Biden is considering deploying thousands of US troops to the threatened country. The situation is dire with 100,000 Russian troops poised to sweep across the border.

The British government did not issue specifics on the Russian plot, but said in a statement, “We have information that indicates the Russian government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine.” The Russians dismissed the claim as propaganda.

Little Green Men: Unidentified Russia-backed soldiers on patrol at Simferopol Airport in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. 2014 By Elizabeth Arrott / VOA - Voice of America website


The Washington Post reported that NATO is deploying additional troops and fighter jets to the region, quoting a statement that said the defense organization is “putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine.”

All this has combined to present Joe Biden with the greatest foreign policy crisis that any president has faced in years. The last equivalent crisis would be Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea in 2014. That invasion was allowed to stand and undoubtedly whetted Vladimir Putin’s appetite for conquest.

Unfortunately, the president has sent mixed messages to Putin about the US and NATO response. Mr. Biden was criticized for comments about the difference between a full-scale invasion and a “minor incursion” last week. Although the White House has tried to walk back and clarify Biden’s comments while affirming the US commitment to Ukraine, what he said seems to reflect the truth that everyone already knows. The US and NATO are unlikely to go to war over a small conflict in Ukraine. After all, we didn’t draw a line in the sand eight years ago.

On Twitter, Patrick Chovanec pointed out that the Ukraine crisis is reminiscent of the 1948 blockade of Berlin by the Soviets. President Truman resolved that crisis with the Berlin airlift. Sadly, our leaders these days are not the same quality as Harry Truman.

And I do mean “leaders” in its plural sense. I’ve seen several people longing for Donald Trump and claiming that his unpredictable nature would have prevented Putin from escalating the Ukraine crisis. Trump was certainly unpredictable, although a weak leader in his own right, but these revisionist claims ignore that Trump was a Putin fanboy who sided with Russia over US intelligence in Helsinki in 2018 and then bowed to the Russian leader on the way out. Trump’s record on Russia was mixed at best with the Trump Administration lifting many sanctions on Russia and Putin’s allies. The overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in support of Trump strongly suggests that Putin is not intimidated by The Former Guy.

What’s more, former Trump aides indicated that if Trump had won a second term, he planned to withdraw the US from both NATO and South Korea. The removal of American soldiers from Europe would have made Mr. Putin’s conquest of Ukraine quite a bit easier. While it’s easy to imagine Donald Trump making threats over the situation in Ukraine, it’s tougher to imagine the isolationist intervening to stop “Mad Vlad.”

No matter how the election of 2020 turned out, we’d probably be facing a similar crisis with a weak leader. We can’t say for sure how it would have played out under a second Trump term, but what we can know for sure is that the time to stop Vladimir Putin is now.

There is a clear pattern since Putin came to power in 1999 of the new Russia rebuilding the empire of its glory days. Putin began with a reconquest of the breakaway republic of Chechnya and then seized the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia in 2008. Then, of course, there was the invasion of Crimea and incursions into Ukraine in 2014.

This pattern indicates that there is no former Soviet republic or territory of the tsarist empire that doesn’t have a reason to fear Vladimir Putin. Beyond Ukraine, the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are prime targets. Other countries, such as Belarus, where fighter jets forced down an airliner in order for security forces to arrest a dissident journalist last year, already have pro-Putin regimes installed. Incidentally, Raman Pratasevich is apparently still in jail although the US indicted several Belarussian officials for air piracy last week.

Vladimir Putin and his puppets will continue to push until the West pushes back. Like Hitler, Putin just wants a little piece. A little piece of Ukraine. A little piece of the Baltics. Maybe even a little piece of Poland.

Also, like Hitler, Putin is popular at home because he has been a winner. The nationalists like the fact that Putin is making Russia great again and restoring the empire. It’s even better because the price in terms of Russian blood has been very low. With few casualties, public discontent with Putin’s aggressive policies has been stifled.

However, it’s doubtful that Putin wants a serious war with NATO. His gambit is that the West will stand down and let him have his way with Ukraine or at least negotiate a deal that gives him concessions. That may be where the British information on the plot to install a pro-Putin regime comes in.

Many right-wing pundits, such as the frowny-faced and perpetually outraged Tucker Carlson, give Putin cover by blaming NATO for deepening its ties to Ukraine, never considering that the former Soviet republics once lived under Russian rule for decades if not centuries and don’t want to repeat the experience. To put it in WWII terms, Carlson hopes to appease Putin by allowing him to bring Ukraine back into Russia’s sphere of influence. I think he’s dangerously wrong.

If Russia is allowed to take Ukraine (or another piece of it), Putin will keep returning to the well every few years to take a little more. As we saw in the 1930s, the appetites of dictators can be insatiable and Russia’s old stomping grounds go at least as far as Poland and halfway through Germany. Eventually, things may reach a point where the only choice is to fight or let the crocodile eat the whole of Europe.

The lesson from the 1930s and countless other authoritarian expansionist regimes is that the world should stand up to bullies. If this is accomplished early enough in the process, the bullies will back down or at least be easier for the coalition of free nations to defeat. When bullies lose face by backing down, it also encourages their domestic opposition.

I don’t want a war. That’s especially true since I have a high school senior who is leaning heavily towards enlisting in the military after graduation. I don’t want my son and other American boys and girls to be sent nine or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what European boys and girls ought to be doing for themselves.

I don’t want war, but as John Stuart Mill once said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse.”

I believe that the best way to avoid risking a lot of American lives in the near future is with a show of resolve right now. President Biden is considering deploying as many as 5,000 American soldiers plus ships and aircraft into the crisis zone. He has also warned Russia that an attack on Ukraine will be met with heavy sanctions. These are good moves.

President Biden needs to talk tough and let Putin know in no uncertain terms that an invasion of Ukraine will not be tolerated and that his aggression will not be rewarded. And the president needs to stand firm and follow through if Putin does launch an attack.

Whatever happens in the current crisis, we haven’t seen the last of Vladimir Putin. Whether he succeeds or fails in his current moves, he will try again. We need to be ready when he does, diplomatically, militarily, and emotionally.


I noted last week that The Former Guy lost a Supreme Court case that involved protecting his executive records from being turned over to congressional (and other) investigators. It became clear pretty quickly why Mr. Trump didn’t want his private records being released.

Among the records that have been uncovered so far were draft Executive Order that would have empowered the Department of Defense to “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under” US law that relates to preserving election records. Politico has a pdf of the original document online for review.

It isn’t clear who authored the EO and it was never signed or issued, but the author cites classified documents. This indicates high-level input to the draft order, which also cited election conspiracy theories but failed to point out an “unusual and extraordinary threat” that would have triggered federal law.

A seizure of voting machines as part of an effort to undo a lost election should never have been put to paper in the United States, even if it wasn’t ultimately acted upon. The January 6 commission and the DOJ need to keep digging and exposing the depravity of Donald Trump and his associates.

Bit by bit, it is becoming ever more clear just how close America came to a really bad situation after the 2020 election. The Capitol insurrection was only the tip of the iceberg.

I didn’t watch football this weekend since Georgia wasn’t playing, but here’s the Tweet of the Day. I don’t care who you are, this is funny. For my second favorite take on the game, check out our Facebook and Twitter feeds this afternoon at 6 pm Eastern.

IN-LAW update: I mentioned on Friday that my in-laws both have COVID. So far, they are plugging along with no serious complications. They are very fatigued and my father-in-law has a cough, but they are otherwise not faring too poorly and are in good spirits.