Vlad the Invader has achieved the impossible… just not in the way he intended

Thus spake James Crisp, Europe editor of the Daily Telegraph:

Vladimir Putin has achieved the impossible many times over by invading Ukraine.

The EU, which has always styled itself as a peace project, has turned into a supplier of weapons and even fighter jets to the Ukrainian army.

That decision to use EU cash to finance bullets and weapons is unprecedented. It is a historic step closer to the ‘geopolitical’ EU punching its weight on the world stage dreamt of by the likes of Emmanuel Macron.

Unquestionably it is a historic moment for a bloc traditionally riven with deep divides over foreign policy, which had led to fears EU sanctions against Russia could be watered down or even blocked.

On Sunday, Mr Putin succeeded where successive US presidents have failed for years. He convinced chronically pacifist Germany to finally meet and exceed its Nato defence spending targets.

The volte face by Europe’s largest economy was hugely significant, as was Berlin’s decision to overturn a decades old ban on weapons exports to conflict areas to allow weapon supplies to Ukraine.  

Germany also halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as it slaughtered another political sacred cow.


Mr Putin has even managed to stir the EU’s long dormant Enlargement policy, which has been on ice for about a decade.

Croatia was the last country to join the bloc back in 2013. Other countries have been kept waiting.

Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said of Ukraine, “They belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in.”

The European Commission president will not decide whether Ukraine gets EU membership, which, if it ever happens, will not for many years.

But the fact it is even being seriously talked about in Brussels would be unthinkable if it was not for Mr Putin.

Meanwhile, a once divided West is increasingly in lockstep in issuing unprecedented sanctions against Moscow. Splits over issues such as kicking Russia out of Swift payment system have been overcome.  

Non-aligned Finland and Sweden have never been closer to joining Nato and it is all thanks to Mr Putin.

He has transformed Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky from a former TV comic struggling in the polls into a world statesman and icon of resistance. 

Faced with backfiring miscalculation after backfiring miscalculation, the Russian president put his nuclear arsenal on high alert on Sunday. 

But he could not distract from the taboos being busted across Europe or the sense the sands of history were shifting against him. 

This comes as more and more people, now including Trump’s national security advisor, General H. R. McMaster (whom some of you may know from the Hoover Institution’s “Goodfellows” podcast), seriously wonder if Putin has lost his sanity and saying “he is not a rational actor”.

“I think now he knows that all of that is at risk,” he added.

“The Russian military doesn’t look very good right now, he does not look very powerful and this is going to jeopardise his ability to stay in power.”

The Russian leader was “living in a bubble” where he was told what he wanted to hear.

“These totalitarian leaders can look very strong, but they are in fact very brittle and, as ugly as democracy is, democracies are actually pretty darn resistant, and you see that with Ukrainians, and I hope they inspire confidence in all of us across the free world.”

Speaking of which: concerning the nuclear alert, Russia is now pathetically claiming “she made us do it” about UK Defence Secretary Liz Truss. [Yes, the Brits spell “Defense” with a “c”.] Who or what are they going to blame for their next outrage, Twinkies?

The Daily Mail reports that 150 Russian officials condemned the invasions, are asking people not to cooperate. How long until they are placed in mental hospitals with “sluggish schizophrenia”, as the bogus diagnosis for dissidents in the USSR usually went?

And meanwhile, the vaunted “Blitzkrieg” appears to be mired in logistical problems, bad planning, and (anecdotal reports suggest) poorly motivated troops. Not even Kharkiv/Kharkov with its largely Russian-speaking population went right, as it appears to still be in Ukrainian hands. (What, he’s going to revive Erich von Manstein from the dead and offer him a billion rubles to conquer the city for him? ;))

And some students asked me if Putin had been put up to this by “the oligarchs”. While I’m sure they’d have been delighted with a near-bloodless conquest of Ukraine in 24h and its getting turned into a satellite state, the current situation is really not what any high-flying businessperson likes. So oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman are speaking out against the invasion, while Roman Abramovich — richest man of several countries, and a onetime Putin confidant — actually offered Ukraine his services as a mediator.

Moving from the Daily Torygraph to Der Spiegel: Mrs. Arbel was wrily amused to see opera diva Anna Netrebko had been told she was not welcome at the Met Opera because of her support for Putin. As much as I despise Putin and hold his apologists in contempt, I would not have supported this as long as she agreed to “shut up and sing” on stage, preferably with vibrato dialed down 90% 😉

Also, Switzerland [!] is joining EU sanctions agains Russia.

Meanwhile, a UN General Assembly session on Ukraine started. Will they find a way to blame Israel, the inveterate cynic in me wonders?


UPDATE 1: Douglas Murray blames Putin’s antics on “weak” Biden and “painful to watch, beneath a school child” Kamala Harris giving Putin the idea that he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strike while the USA was in a shambles.

UPDATE 2: Ouch (via Instapundit):

UPDATE 3: Victor Davis Hansen takes no prisoners: The Crowded Road to Kiev

And wow: “no taboos” in Germany’s energy about-face. Even nuclear, supposed to be phased out completely in 2022, is back on the table.

UPDATE 4: after contradictory reports earlier, Die Welt now reports that Turkey has closed off entry and exit to the Black Sea to all warships (in practice: to Russian ones).

Tangerine Dream, “Kiev Mission”

I will update with war news later, but day job calls. Meanwhile, here’s a classic ambient electronica track from 1980, at the height of the Cold War: “Kiev Mission” from the album “Exit” by electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream. Who knew we would be in another Cold War after the collapse of the USSR

The spoken voice (in Russian) says (translation in right column):

континент | Continent:
Азия Asia
Африка Africa
Европа Europe
Австралия Australia
Америкаэто America
это земля This land
прошедшее время Past tense
астоящее время Present tense
будущее время Future tense
мир, это мир [The] world, this [is the] world
понимать To understand
понять To comprehend
спрашивать To ask
отвечать To answer
говорить To speak
задумываться To ponder
проговорить зная To speak from knowledge
передача Transmission
общаться с друзьями To converse with friends
обменяться мнение To exchange with friends
безграничность Infinity
существо умное. Intelligent being
разговор Conversation
беседа Interview

Ukraine invasion: several sea changes in 24 hours

Putin turns up the war of nerves a few more notches by demonstratively “putting [nuclear] deterrent forces on high alert”.

In response, NATO went to DEFCON 2, the second-highest level on a scale from DEFCON (active nuclear war) to DEFCON 5 (normal peacetime conditions). According to Wikipedia [caveat lector, as always] DEFCON 2 has only been issued twice before: once during the Cuban missile crisis, another time during Gulf War One.

The MEMRI translation service presents two Russian-language articles by Putin critics: one calling on the Russian elite “to abandon Putin’s Titanic”, the other calling on the international community to offer Putin and his closest associates lifelong immunity of person and property if they agree to step down. “”In general, I think Putin has already begun to guess that he has hit a dead end. In order that he shouldn’t get the urge to take extreme measures in this situation, he must understand that there is, in fact, a way out. Remember what he told about the cornered rat in his first book?”

Meanwhile, Germany, under NATO partner as well as domestic public pressure, has taken some drastic steps:

  • reversed its longtime policy not to ship weaponry to an active conflict zone
  • Germany itself will more than double its defense budget

This is especially shocking considering that Germany’s SPD (social-democratic party) and Greens are both full of Russia-appeasers (fueled in no small part by historical guilt about Operation Barbarossa) and so-called Putinausleger (“Putin explainers”, sarcastic term for apologists) — and it is now them who are taking these steps, with support from the more hawkish CDU/CSU opposition.

On a broader European level, many European countries have closed their airspace both to Russian airliners and to private planes of Russian ‘oligarchs’.

I had not expected Germany and the EU to do even this much — and definitely not so fast. In Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s speech I am now watching, he refers explicitly to concern this conflict will spread to EU countries themselves, ‘unless a line in the sand is drawn’.

Also, aside from a one-time special defense spending allocation of EUR 100 billion, from now on Germany will now annually have a defense budget of more than 2% of GDP, rather than 1.4% as now. Scholz also stresses the need for R&D and procurement of advanced weaponry. (He actually specifically mentions Israeli UAVs/drones by name.)

Ironically, if the current chancellor proposing this were a Christian Democrat, he’d be accused of “warmongering” by at least some of the SPD and likely all of the Greens. But as always in a parliamentary democracy, it is the left that can increase defense spending, and the right that can make territorial concessions, since in each case the opposition will naturally back its own natural policy. Nixon could go to China, De Gaulle could leave Algeria, and Menachem Begin could make peace with Egypt.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Ukrainian and Russian negotiators will meet at the Ukraine-Belarus border. Developing…

The Daily Telegraph shows Russians queueing up to withdraw money from banks following the EU decision to exclude Russia from the SWIFT international bank transfer system, ‘both natural and legal persons’ as EC chair Ursula von der Leyen put it. (This is European legalese for ‘both individuals and corporations or nonprofits’.)

ADDENDUM: Powerline’s Steven Hayward, quoting mostly Matt Ridley and Daniel Yergin, discusses how Western anti-fracker and anti-fossil fuel groups are not just “useful idiots” of the Putin regime:

>Matt Ridley reported on this at length back in 2019 in “The Plot Against Fracking.” Key part:


The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies. Unlike most conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in Western politics, this one is out there in plain sight. The head of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the Russians, as part of a sophisticated disinformation operation, “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations — environmental organisations working against shale gas — to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”.

The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.


Ridley goes on to trace out how David Cameron’s conservative government a decade ago buckled under the public pressure, and killed a nascent natural gas production industry in Britain. The Russians were also behind successful anti-fracking campaigns in several eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria (I learned about this first hand in two trips to Bulgaria I made several years ago).

UPDATE 2: Condoleeza Rice., former provost of Stanford University and National Security Advisor under George W. Bush, is current the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. She is an academic Russologist and has met Putin many times. She is convinced something happened to him in recent years, that he has become delusional and out of touch with reality. Also, that he had expected this to be a cakewalk and clearly has bitten off more than he can chew.

UPDATE 3: I forgot to mention that an Ukrainian source here told me the reason the Russian tanks and trucks ran out of fuel was that while still in Belarus, the soldiers had siphoned fuel off and traded it for vodka… It sounds a bit like a ‘just-so story’, but let me remind you of Arbel’s Law: the greatest trouble with fighting stereotypes is that some people are hell-bent on affirming them…

Also, more seriously, AFP reports:

Sweden announces it will break its doctrine of not sending arms to countries in active conflict and send military equipment, including anti-tank launchers, to Ukraine.

The decision to send 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 pieces of body armour and 5,000 single use anti-tank launchers is the first time Sweden has sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson tells reporters.

Ukraine fighting day 3: three ways in which the US could hurt Putin without sending one soldier

Powerline rounds up some of the latest news. Perhaps the single most surprising item to me is this:

Strange bedfellows. I personally regard a choice between Putin and Erdogan as a choice between bubonic plague and cholera, but the latter is at least survivable with prompt medical treatment.

But meanwhile, Turkey denies.

And ouch:

Former deputy national security advisor under Trump, KT McFarland, outlines three steps by which the US could really hurt Putin without sending even one soldier:

First, the president should explain to his supporters that the existential threat Russia poses to our national security require him to reverse course and take the shackles off the American energy industry he imposed early in his presidency. 

Second, the president should go to our European allies, especially Germany, and tell them we have their backs. Russia supplies half of Europe’s energy. No European leader dare jeopardize that relationship. So instead, offer to guarantee their energy security. We can help them replace Russian oil and natural gas with clean, no strings attached, American liquefied natural gas. They’ve been reluctant to make the switch from Russian to American energy. Perhaps the last few days have shown them the Russian energy comes at too high a political and economic price

Finally, the president should tell the Russians that we will do everything in our power to bring down the price of oil and natural gas, through our own exports and by encouraging our Arab allies to pump more oil. 

[…] If we can drive the price of [Russia’s] major export down to 2020 levels, Russia is broke.

Meanwhile from the Daily Telegraph, harsh but fair

And Powerline’s Week in Pictures takes no prisoners: U-Cranial Inversion Edition.

However, Mark Galeotti in the Daily Telegraph is convinced that Putin has bitten off more than he can chew, and that he “has set in train the demised of his kleptocratic regime. It will wither and die like the old Soviet Union.” Wishful thinking?

According to the live ticker of Die Welt (German center-right daily, fairly reliably pro-American), a senior source in the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Germany’s foreign intelligence service) has expressed surprise that only a small fraction of the Russian troops staged at the borders actually went inside, and also his suspicion that both side are underreporting casualties.

About Germany’s own attitude — the latest “gem” being offering 5,000 helmets, but asking Ukraine to pick them up at the Polish border — the Ukrainian ambassador expressed himself “auf gut Deutsch” (in good German; idiomatic meaning: straight up, no beating around the bush): “Die Heuchelei ist zum kotzen” (the hypocrisy is to make one vomit). Having lived half my life in academia, i.e., the worldwide capital of empty virtue signaling, I believe I know it when I see it.

The Daily Telegraph reports that poor coordination, fuel supplies exhaustion, and fierce resistance are slowing down the Russian advance. Especially Javelin portable antitank rockets are exacting a severe toll:

The same article reports that the USA offered Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky safe conduct abroad, and that he answered: “I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition!

Zelensky, Jewish and a popular late-night comedy host, was expected to be a lightweight by many outsiders when first elected, but has meanwhile proven a surprisingly charismatic leader with beitzim I cannot but admire.

The hacker collective “Anonymous” reportedly gave Putin’s personal website some “loving” and has threatened to do a lot more than that, “declaring cyberwar”.

Retired US General Jack Keane:

And Douglas Murray of The Spectator:

Laura Ingraham and Kristi Noem lay the blame for everything squarely at the feet of Biden

“An invasion made in China”

ADDENDUM: wow: Kazakhstan to Putin: pound sand.

None of these backfires [for Putin] is more surprising than in Kazakhstan. Putin just got done rescuing President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev from a serious uprising six weeks ago, sending Russian army formations to put down demonstrators in Almaty. With his invasion bogging down, Putin asked Tokayev for more troops to support the Ukraine invasion.

Not only did Tokayev refuse, he went further in refusing to recognize the “independent” states Putin set up in the Donbas: […]

Nor is Tokayev the only friendly country that Putin has alienated with this move. Hungary and Czech Republic leaders had been sympathetic to Putin and growing more restive within the EU, offering Putin a chance to split the Western alliance. Those efforts also came to an abrupt halt yesterday: […]

Two until now major pro-Russian voices in the European Union, Czech President Milos Zeman and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, didn’t mince their words in criticizing Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Their countries experienced comparable brutality — the Czech Republic, as part of Czechoslovakia, in 1968 and Hungary in 1956.

Zeman called Thursday’s invasion “an unprovoked act of aggression.” …

Until just days ago, Zeman was insisting that the Russians wouldn’t attack Ukraine because “they aren’t lunatics to launch an operation that would be more damaging for them than beneficial.”

“I admit I was wrong,” he said Thursday.

[…] “Russia attacked Ukraine this morning with military force,” Orban said in a video on Facebook. “Together with our European Union and NATO allies, we condemn Russia’s military action.”

“Hungary’s position is clear: we stand by Ukraine, we stand by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” his Foreign Minister Peter Szijijarto said.

Read the whole thing.

ADDENDUM 2: rather disturbing background read by Lee Smith in The Tablet (via Instapundit)

And Der Spiegel reports (in German) that Germany changed its mind and is now giving Ukraine weaponry out of Bundeswehr stocks

Sabbath musical delight: Tatiana Nikolayeva plays J. S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”, books I and II

The world needs more of Bach, more than ever — beauty, reason, and devotion all in one package.

Tatiana Nikolayeva was one of the greatest Bach performers on the piano who ever lived — second perhaps only to the very different Glenn Gould.

One of my most precious CDs (when CDs were a thing) was her performance of The Art of the Fugue, which was issued on the Hyperion label near the end of her life. Her recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier were hard to obtain in the West, but somebody uploaded the entire set to YouTube.

We will resume warblogging after the Sabbath. Have a great weekend and shabbat shalom!

Day 2 of Ukraine invasion: Konstantin Kissin of Triggernometry; some background on Ukraine itself

(a) The second day of the Ukraine invasion is now in progress. I have added numerous updates to yesterday’s post.

Perhaps the single most revealing video I’ve seen came from “Unherd”, namely an interview with Russian [-Jewish?] immigrant to the UK Konstantin Kisin, best known for his irreverent, politically incorrect YouTube channel “Triggernometry”.

A few quick takeaways:

  • The West must accept: this is AT BEST Cold War 2.0
  • For too long, the West has been living in a dreamworld, where whether you could ‘transition’ from one gender identity to another mattered more than tangibles like land, resources
  • Putin is doing exactly what he said he would be doing, if intellectually lazy journalists had bothered to even read what he said or wrote.
  • Ukraine inherited a major part of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. Bill Clinton [whom he does not refer to by name] talked them into giving it all up in exchange for Western guarantees of territorial integrity. Had they kept it, Putin would be thinking twice before invading them.
  • That said, he is not interested in sending even one soldier of his adopted homeland to Ukraine, even though he has family in both Russia and Ukraine
  • The West fears and loathes strong leaders, and hence trades them for weaklings like Biden.
  • He is absolutely convinced none of this would have happened if Trump (whom he himself dislikes) were in power, because Trump was too decisive and unpredictable and would make Putin’s gambles that much riskier. [NB: David Harsanyi on Biden’s long history of Putin appeasement.]
  • The left got it all wrong because all they care about is staying in power and domestic fantasy project, and they get their information from what effectively have become propaganda outlets, “staffed by 20-year olds” clueless about the countries they are reporting on; but many of his longtime comrades in arms on the right (that he still agrees with on most issues) got it wrong as well because they effectively (A) are trapped in the Cretan Liar Paradox, assuming that whatever the media says must by definition be the opposite of the truth; (B) see everything through a domestic political prism — people who actually used to live in such places know better.

Speaking of which: the Jerusalem Post surveys opinions among Israel’s large former Russian and Ukrainian communities. Our own anecdotal evidence from talking to colleagues and neighbors of such backgrounds (who open up more easily once they realize we are not complete ignoramuses on Eastern European history) jibe fairly well with this report. [UPDATE: Times of Israel does the same.]

(B) A good quick summary of the economies of Russia and Ukraine, and how the conflict will affect them

(C) And now for a few bits of deep background not immediately related to the conflict

  • (1) how different are the Russian and Ukrainian languages? Is Ukrainian just some dialect of Russian, as some would claim? Polyglot Paul of Langfocus goes into some detail.

TL;DR for the impatient: yes they are different East Slavic languages, with a level of mutual intelligibility comparable to Dutch and [High] German, or Spanish and Portuguese. They developed from a medieval common ancestor (Old East Slavic). The Eastern branch, what became today’s Russian, was influenced heavily by Old Church Slavonic (OCS) — the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church — but also acquired vocabulary from Tatars during the occupation by the Mongol Golden Horde. Later, under Westernizing Tsars like Peter the Great/Veliky Piotr the language imported French and German loanwords by the truckload.

In contrast, the Western branch developed mostly in what was then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and hence acquired vocabulary from, and some morphological features of, Polish (and West Slavic languages more broadly).

• (2) what about the history of the Jews in Ukraine? “It’s complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. Rabbi Dr. Henry Abramson, who wrotes his doctoral thesis on the subject, gives an interesting summary that goes beyond the usual simplistic stereotypes.

BONUS ITEM unrelated to Ukraine: I have been asked a number of times if you can catch the omicron variant of COVID twice. Dr. John Campbell shares data from Denmark. In brief: yes, it is possible, but the risk is very, very small (less than 1 in 30,000).


Parody-proof: Jean-Fraud Kerry:  I sure hope Putin remains a partner for climate change.

And Rasmussen Reports:

A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports finds that just 31% of Likely U.S voters give Biden an excellent or good rating for the way he has handled the Russian aggression toward Ukraine. Forty-nine percent (49%) give him a poor rating for his handling of the Russia-Ukraine situation. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

ADDENDUM 2 (via Insty, who comments “punch back twice as hard”):

UPDATE 3: of course Xi der Schildkrotenf—er stands behind Putin

Looking around: Putin invades Donbass region; Poutine Trudeau suspends emergency act rather than suffer defeat in Senate?

Lots of stuff going on around the world. These are the two leading stories for today.

(A) While the Security Council was meeting, Putin brazenly announced an operation for the “demilitarization and denazification” [sic] of Eastern Ukraine (read: the Donbass region[*]). Germany has revoked its certification of the Nordstream 2 pipeline (which was constructed to avoid transit of gas exports through Ukraine) — ironically, the Chairman of the Board of Nordstream AG is none other than Gerhard Schröder, the Chancellor of Germany before Angela Merkel, and belonging to the same Social Democratic Party as the current incumbent Olaf Scholz. Meanwhile, Feckless Joe Biden has reinstated the Trump-era sanctions he had earlier condemned.

Predictably, Russia’s traditional “frenemy” China is backing Putin, presumably in return for a future quid-pro-quo on Taiwan.

Is Putin looking for a quick success abroad to shore up his flagging domestic popularity? Or is he obsessed with the idea of ending his long reign by restoring Russia’s empire? Or — as I suspect — is he taking advantage of a window of opportunity while the West’s leading countries are led by the worst leaders in at least one generation, and the West’s strongest military is tied up obsessing about pronouns and other wokebaggery, and cannot be shaken out of this bout of derpovirus even by the humiliating Afghanistan debacle?

Instapundit adds: “Of course wokeness brings weakness. That’s why the left has been encouraging it in the West for decades, even as Russia and China have loudly eschewed it.”

The above video (from India) is a surprisingly good introduction to what is behind. Her analogy of Russia trying to “justify” its invasion with ethnic Russian minorities “as if England was trying to invade India, its former colony” only goes so far: it’s not like England’s royalty and nobility originally came from India…

Austin Bay at StrategyPage (via Instapundit) speaks of the “RUBiK cube” strategy to create an autocratic Russian empire: Russia, Ukraine [now invading], Belarus [a de facto satellite], and Kazakhstan [with its vast energy reserves].

(B) And speaking of authoritarians (but without the cunning if sociopathic brain of Putin), the other main story of the day is that Justin Trudeau [a.k.a. Poutine Castreau] blinked and suddenly revoked the emergency legislation, declaring it is no longer needed. Instapundit is all over the story. https://instapundit.com/505325/

What suddenly happened? After passing the lower House of Parliament, the Emergency Act was up for a vote in the Senate, and its passage there was uncertain —- with rumors of defections in Justin Zoolander’s own (il)Liberal Party. Sources in Canada have also told me of a bank run — masses of people withdrawing as much cash from their bank accounts as they could, having lost confidence that bank accounts or electronic payment apps would not be suddenly “frozen” in an arbitrary fashion for donating $5 to the wrong cause or having used the wrong pronoun. Did senior banking figures tell Castreau, “enough already”?

I hope for the Canadian people that this sickening nightmare is over. I also hope, however, that this was a wake-up call on the dangers of trusting any government too far with authoritarian powers to “protect” democracy, lest they end up “killing democracy in order to save it”.

A Canadian immigrant coworker told me that in Canada, “unlike here in Israel, where you can go to jail and still make a political comeback” [a reference to ultra-Orthodox politician Aryeh Deri] losing an election typically means your political career is over. Does Castreau still think his isn’t? (Who knows, maybe he can fluff Chairman Xi’s unicorn for the rest of his days.) Meanwhile on the other side, a clear successor as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (and head of the Official Opposition) has yet to emerge: former deputy leader Candice Bergen (no relation to the eponymous actress of “Murphy Brown” fame) is just the interim leader since the ouster of Erin O’Toole — who had actually won the popular vote against Trudeau in the previous federal election but lost on seats.

[*] the name “Donbass” is a portmanteau for the coal-rich Donetsk Basin.

ADDENDUM: The Times (UK) reports that tanks are crossing into Ukraine from Belarus, whence the distance to the capital Kiev is much shorter. This looks more like a full-scale invasion than a local land grab. The Times of Israel liveblogs that Israeli consular staff have been deployed to land border crossings into neighboring countries — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Moldova — to assist the some 8,000 expat Israelis in Ukraine to exit the country, now that civilian airspace has been closed.

ADDENDUM 2: historian Niall Ferguson, in The Spectator, offers a window into Putin’s thinking [cached copy here]:

Putin decided on war against Ukraine some time ago, probably in July when he published a lengthy essay, ‘On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians’, in which he argued tendentiously that Ukrainian independence was an unsustainable historical anomaly. This made it perfectly clear that he was contemplating a takeover of the country. Even before Putin’s essay appeared, Russia had deployed around 100,000 troops close to Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern borders. The response of the United States and the European Union was to make clear that Ukraine was a very long way indeed from either Nato or EU membership, confirming to Putin that no one would fight on Ukraine’s side if he went ahead with his planned war of subjugation. Over the past few months, Putin has used diplomacy in the classical fashion, seeking to gain his objectives at the lowest possible cost while at the same time carefully preparing for an invasion. Western leaders have achieved nothing more than to remain united in saying they will impose sanctions if he invades. […]

If war is the continuation of politics — ‘policy’ is, in fact, a better translation — then what exactly is Putin trying to achieve? This question has elicited many wrong answers over the years. A common assertion is that he is hellbent on resurrecting the Soviet Union. It is true that in 2005 Putin called the collapse of the Soviet empire ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century’. But in fact it is the tsarist Russian Empire Putin is attempting to bring back from the dead. Peter the Great is his hero, much more than Stalin.

He made this quite clear in an interview with Lionel Barber, then editor of the Financial Times, in 2019. ‘A towering bronze statue of the visionary tsar looms over his ceremonial desk in the cabinet room,’ noted Barber. Peter the Great was Putin’s ‘favourite leader’. ‘He will live,’ declared the Russian President, ‘as long as his cause is alive.’

What was Peter’s cause? In essence, to make Russia a European great power, capable of matching the likes of Austria, Britain, Prussia and France in both military might and the economic and bureaucratic foundations on which it is based. No historian would dispute that he achieved that.

Read the whole thing.

ADDENDUM 3: Times of Israel makes it sound like our PM Naftali Bennett and FM Yair Lapid are playing a coordinated “good cop, bad cop” game, the former refraining from directly condemning Russian aggression by name, and the latter doing so outspokenly.

A factor that none of the news media have mentioned concerning the timing: the impending rasputitsa (“roadless time”) where spring thaw turns everything into a mud bath. As the Wehrmacht learned to its chagrin (and the Allies’ delight) in the fall rasputitsa, even light tanks easily get stuck in the mud, let alone today’s main battle tanks…

From https://www.reddit.com/r/TankPorn/comments/30eb2v/panzer_ii_attempting_to_recover_a_panzer_iii/

So if Putin didn’t invade now, he’d have to wait until the summer…

UPDATE 4: Condoleeza Rice four days ago:

And Insty is on point here: what would you do if you really wanted to hurt Putin economically?


Because fuel exports are the basis of the Russian economy, Putin’s war-making capability depends critically on energy prices being high, as they are now. The most effective step countries like the U.S. can take in response does not require sanctions, let alone military action. It’s simply to remove artificial constraints on energy production, especially on relatively clean natural gas. That means removing roadblocks to fracking, pipelines and LNG export facilities that could supply Europe.

It also means reversing our decades-long suppression of nuclear power.

>So why aren’t we doing it? Let’s just say there’s more reason to think that environmentalists and other >energy-deniers are on the Russian payroll than there ever was for Trump.

>130Posted at 9:34 am by Glenn Reynolds 

UPDATE 5: savage but fair

comments redundant

UPDATE 6: Not the Babylon Bee: Jean-Fraud Ketchup is worried about the carbon footprint of the Ukraine invasion.

UPDATE 7: anti-war protests took place in 40 Russian cities, thousands arrested.

Meanwhile, Not the Bee rounds up the most deranged reactions from American wokebaggers. Truly parody-proof.

In Tel-Aviv, not far from where we live, several hundred protesters gathered in front of the Russian embassy despite pouring rain. Four were arrested for spray-painting slogans onto the structure itself; otherwise, the protest was allowed to proceed peacefully. [Additional protests in Jerusalem, Haifa, with some protesters burning their own Russian passports.]

UPDATE 8: Liz Peek scoffs at claims that rising US energy prices are “Putin’s fault”, and lays the blame at Biden’s feet for being beholden to climate zealots and “green energy” special interests. She says all such measures that drive up the price of fossil fuels are a windfall to Putin:

Even as Russian tanks lined up on the Ukraine border, Biden’s administration froze U.S. drilling on federal lands and slapped on rules making it even more difficult to build natural gas pipelines. What can they be thinking?

Are they not concerned that voters rank inflation as their number one concern, and that the 48 percent spike in oil prices from last year is a major driver of Americans’ rising cost of living?

Does Biden want to empower Russian President Vladimir Putin via higher oil prices? Since 36 percent of Russia’s federal budget comes from sales of oil and gas, every jump in oil prices – and every incremental barrel he sells instead of the U.S. – is a windfall for Putin. We are currently producing about one million barrels of oil a day less than we did in 2019; that buys a lot of tanks.


Thomas Sowell on how movements turn into rackets

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Eric Hoffer, “The Temper of Our Time”

In this short video, Thomas Sowell explains how this happens, and why this really is just economics (in the broader sense of the word) at work.

For the videophobes and speed-readers, allow me to summarize and add a few interpolations of my own.

When a movement is just starting out, the adherents mostly consist of two kinds of people: those who truly believe in the cause, and [my addition] serial early adopters who want to be “ahead of the curve” by doing the equivalent of getting into the newest hot indie band before others discover it.

If the movement does not get off the ground, it may linger on for decades as an obscure pastime. But if it does become a mass movement, it will inevitably attract opportunists jumping on the bandwagon, either for personal aggrandizement inside the movement itself or hoping to reap the fruits of their investment down the line. On the flip side, some of these “early adopters” may drop out as the movement has become too mainstream, has “sold out” — again, the way they would lose interest in an indie band that has developed mainstream appeal and would go in search of something edgier.

Then the movement gains power, or — if it is more narrowly single-issue — achieves its goals. This is where many of the idealistic adherents might say, “mission accomplished”, and move on. But guess who remains? Right, the opportunists and grifters — and true to Pournelle’s Iron Law, they will now set the tone of the organization, attract others like them, and cause even more idealists to become disillusioned and leave, and so on until all that is left are empire builders and profiteers, with a few nostalgists and gullible fools as window dressing.

Alternatively (and this is a scenario Dr. Sowell does not discuss here) the movement may be hijacked and skin-suited by activists with a radically different agenda, who use the original cause as a smokescreen to push a cause that many would find repulsive if they understood it.

Ukraine and the collapse of the postwar liberal order

So Russia recognized the “independence” of two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine, Donbass and Lukhansk, and sent in “peacekeeping forces”. Whether these will become outright members of the Russian Federation or vassal states is not clear.

I suspect that even Putin has no stomach to invade all of Ukraine — the population of that vast territory would give Russia a level of indigestion at Iraq or Afghanistan levels. His best-case outcome would be the destabilization of the Ukrainian government and its engineered replacement by a Russian puppet regime — but even Donetsk and Lukhansk is something he can “sell” to the Russians as a “victory”. Heck, they might even “withdraw” if Ukraine signs an agreement not to join NATO.

Several observers have pointed out that if Russia wants to carry out any large-scale offensive operation, they would have to do it now or wait until the summer — until the rasputitsa is over, the thaw and rain season that turns Russia and Ukraine alike into a mud puddle. (The handful of roads that will remain passable by vehicles are easy to defend.)

Meanwhile, Germany has moved to decertify the Nordstream 2 pipeline, Jennifer Griffin reports.

And of course, Kamala the Vapid once again proves why she’s utterly unfit for the office she holds.

“Abso – we strongly believe – and remember also that the sanctions are a product not only of our perspective as the United States, but a shared perspective among our allies, and the allied relationship is such that we have agreed that the deterrence effect of these sanctions is still a meaningful one, especially because remember also, we still sincerely hope that there is a diplomatic path out of this moment. And within the context, then, of the fact that that window is still opening – open, although it is absolutely narrowing, but within the context of a diplomatic path still being open, the deterrence effect we believe has merit.”


Chto? Que? Wablief? Come again? I wonder if she was sent to Munich deliberately to forestall any ideas of invoking the 25th Amendment to replace an ever more obviously senile Biden with Kamala. Judge her rhetorical talent for yourselves:

The Daily Telegraph points to the story behind the story: the final nail in the coffin of the postwar liberal international order.

One would be forgiven for dismissing such a judgment as hysterical. It is still possible to glimmer some of the West’s old strength, such as in the robust rhetoric emanating from certain Nato capitals. Still, the fact remains that the Western powers have made it mortifyingly clear that they are unwilling to give Ukraine the help that it really needs as Vladimir Putin confirms that he wishes to cleave off more of its territory.

Washington has been explicit that putting American troops on the ground in Ukraine is “not on the table”. It is too late to supply the country’s armed forces with the kind of surface-to-air missiles and combat aircraft that might have levelled the playing field. The Ukrainian army could face shock-and-awe wipeout at the hands of a Russian military five times its size, if it comes to that.

For all its threats of “swift and severe” consequences, the West looks drained and compromised. Its citizens have little appetite for confrontation of any kind (only 13 percent support the deployment of American troops). Neither do European leaders, given their countries’ reliance on Russian gas. Nor can the West properly punish Putin and Kremlin-linked oligarchs without incurring enormous pain itself – pain that many Nato members are evidently unwilling to bear.  

The implications are not just catastrophic for Ukraine – they are seismic for the world. The West is  quietly abandoning its guiding mission since the end of the Cold War: to integrate the former Soviet Union – and ultimately the whole world – into the liberal order. The ecstatic story that once energised it – of the world’s long march towards liberal democracy – imploded in the chaos of the Iraq war. Ukraine confirms that ambition for such a cause is now definitively lost.

[…] The Ukraine situation is so dangerous, because it is about more than the fate of one country. The West’s enemies are watching: indeed, this could be a dry run for an even greater confrontation with China over Taiwan. If anything, the West’s position in that scenario would be even weaker. We are even more reliant on the Chinese economy. Xi Jinping’s administration has been even more aggressive in targeting Western elite figures and institutions. In recent years it has boldly ramped up its deployment of Chinese agents to court Western politicians and carry out daring intellectual property thefts within top universities.

[,…] The Ukraine situation is so dangerous, because it is about more than the fate of one country. The West’s enemies are watching: indeed, this could be a dry run for an even greater confrontation with China over Taiwan. If anything, the West’s position in that scenario would be even weaker. We are even more reliant on the Chinese economy. Xi Jinping’s administration has been even more aggressive in targeting Western elite figures and institutions. In recent years it has boldly ramped up its deployment of Chinese agents to court Western politicians and carry out daring intellectual property thefts within top universities.

Moreover, bolstered by the economic success of the “Chinese model”, as well as its ability to control citizens in an emergency like Covid, the Chinese Communist Party is in a stronger position than Russia to corrode Western values from within – not least by promoting soft state authoritarianism through the West’s useful idiots on the Left.

One can only hope that the Ukraine fiasco is a wake-up call for Western elites. That they can finally accept that the old liberal order has failed and a new one must take its place. The evidence to date is that the penny has only partially dropped. The reluctance of Berlin to drop the Nord Stream 2 project is hardly a reassuring sign that it grasps the urgent need to start prioritising self-sufficiency in its energy supply. Europe’s botched net zero transition is another disaster area; our foolish attempt to ramp up renewables – rather than hedging our bets with massive and immediate investment in fracking and nuclear – will take up to 20 years to correct.

One thing we know for sure: Ukraine is not not an isolated story of Russian aggression or Western impotence. It is merely the first earthquake as the world’s tectonic plates begin to shift. 

And meanwhile (via Jennifer Griffin’s Tw*tter feed), Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö sees ‘changes’ in Putin’s behavior.

From https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/20/finland-russia-putin-00010391

Finland has since WW II maintained a position of studied neutrality between the West and the USSR then, the Russian Federation now. Recent developments have however made Finland open to joining NATO.

I doubt that the tiny, resourceful nation that once gave the Red Army such a bloody nose is particularly afraid it will again become a Russian Archduchy as it was under the Tsars, but it is a sign that they see their neutrality policy as having become unworkable.

ADDENDUM: how much more pathetic can one get?

And Stephen “Vodkapundit” Green wrote earlier:

Putin is also testing. He needs answers to questions of his own.

Is Biden so beholden to enviro-radical domestic interests that he can’t wage an effective foreign policy? Would NATO agree to withdraw weapons and troops from former Warsaw Pact countries close to Russia’s borders? Can the West be coerced or conned into recognizing Putin’s illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea? Will Ukraine succumb to threats and return to a government more friendly to Moscow? Or could Europe go full Munich 1938 and agree to a de facto partitioning of eastern Ukraine and the Finlandization of the rest?

A “Yes” to any one of these questions would make Putin’s game of mass chicken more than worthwhile.

Even better, so far as Putin is concerned: He can always move the troops around some more in a year or two and see what he can wrangle out of us next time.

No matter what the White House claims, I don’t see an all-out shooting war happening between Russia and Ukraine. Putin can gain too much profit, or at least for now believes he can, through simple bluster. Sending in the Russian Army risks too much, including perhaps showing for all the world to see his military’s real limitations.

What I do see, however, is Biden giving the farm away at the negotiating table—all to avoid a war that Biden, himself, seems to be drumming up.

Poutine Castreau and his Trudeaustapo [sic]

Insty is all over the horrific story unfolding North of the 49th Parallel.


See https://thepostmillennial.com/woman-trampled-freedom-protest-indigenous-elder

WALL STREET JOURNAL:  Trudeau’s Destructive ‘Emergency:’ The truckers protest could have been handled without abusing the law.

Mr. Trudeau justifies the “public-order emergency” by inflating the protest into a terrorist plot to overthrow government. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association disagrees and sued Thursday. It says the standards for an emergency—“threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians” beyond “the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it”—are not met.

Protests aren’t emergencies, and Western leaders had better get used to handling civil disobedience firmly without traducing civil liberties. Mr. Trudeau criminalized a protest movement, deputizing financial institutions, without due process or liability, to find and freeze personal accounts of blockaders and anyone who helps them. These extraordinary measures are a needless abuse of power. . . .

Weak responses to civil disobedience have hurt Canada for years. New gas pipelines are increasingly stymied by blockades, often by green or aboriginal activists. On Thursday men wielding axes attacked a pipeline drill site and its workers in British Columbia. That’s worse than anything the truckers have done.

In early 2020 Mr. Trudeau urged dialogue with pipeline blockaders. Facing Black Lives Matter protests in violation of Covid rules in June 2020, Mr. Trudeau joined in. But with the truckers, the Prime Minister refused to meet or compromise. Even as province after province ends Covid restrictions, he drags his feet.

Adds Insty: “The establishment sees environmentalists and Black Lives Matter protesters, however violent, as essentially allies. It sees working-class protesters, however peaceful, as deadly enemies. Each group is treated accordingly.”

Seriously, what’s going on is un-fecking-believable.

And yes, even left-liberals should be worried… because this is setting precedents that they WILL come to deplore when they are no longer in power.

Bari Weiss: a China-style “social credit system” arrives to Canada. Elsewhere: Justin Trudeau Said He Admired China’s Dictatorship. Canadians Should Have Believed Him.

And harsh, but fair:


Though the one thing missing from his wardrobe is the turtle costume he wears when visiting Emperor Xi, king of the turtle-“lover”s.

David Solway: Requiem for a nation. “Vodkapundit” wonders if the other nations are so quiet because they are seeing Canada as a test case for how far they can push their own people. I suspect much, much less far than “nice, go along to get along” Canadians.

ADDENDUM: surprisingly (?), Canadian parliament APPROVED extending Trudeau Jinping’s “emergency powers” for 30 days. The NDP voted with the (il)Liberals, citing fears “the government might fall otherwise”. And what, another government NOT dominated by the Brahmandarin Anointed Caste might be in power? The horror!

I’m not a huge fan of Rod Dreher or his brand of reactionary “crunchy con”, but when he writes about this being a class war between the “virtual” and the “physical” class, he has a point. I couldn’t help being reminded of the Eloi and the Morlocks in H. G. Wells’s “The Time Machine”…

It cannot happen here… Canadian style

I am watching with ever greater disbelief.

William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection: “When fascism comes to the USA, it will look like Justin Trudeau’s Canada

Fascism is an overused and elastic term that in our politics mostly is used against Republicans for anything liberals don’t like. Donald Trump calling people names on Twitter is not fascism. Justin Trudeau commanding private businesses unilaterally and without legal consequence to freeze the assets of his political opposition and their supporters is fascism.

Trudeau is dangerous not just because he’s abusing Canadians, but because he is providing the wish list for crackdowns by Democrats in the U.S.

Sabbath musical delight: J. P. Rameau, “The Arts and the Hours” (arranged and performed by Vikingur Olafsson)

An unexpected delight that showed up in my YouTube feed. This is the great Icelandic pianist’s own piano transcription of an interlude from the French Baroque composer (and music theorist) Jean-Philippe Rameau’s final opera, “Les Boréades”.

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat shalom!

Thomas Sowell is a national treasure

So much insanity to write about, so little time in which to do it.

So instead, here are a few Thomas Sowell videos.

“Vision of the Anointed” is the second Sowell book I read — and still my favorite.

This one leaves me a little skeptical though. Yes, a single non-renewable six-year term for all elected offices would solve many aspects of government dysfunction —- Representatives would no longer have to spend most of their time working at getting re-elected every two years, and phenomena like Biden or Pelosi would not be able to exist.
The flip side is, of course, that such officials would no longer be as accountable to their voters, since they cannot be “punished” for betrayal or for neglect of their constituency by voting them out. Could this be mitigated by setting up a recall mechanism?

“Artificial stupidity” indeed.

Galactic levels of projection about fascism, Justin Castreau and BLM edition

(1) [On screen.] A few days ago, a whackjob tried to shoot a Jewish candidate for mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. Predictably, the stuck-on-stupid media and a Jewish flack for the Biden puppet theater tried to blame it on “right-wing rhetoric”.

Except… not only was the alleged shooter a BLM activist, but BLM actually posted baill for him.

Any Jew who makes further excuses for BLM needs mental help, as far as I’m concerned.

(2) Poutine Castreau continues his spiral into Mobius Dick insanity and totalitarian thuggery.[*] And the media are enabling him.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Trudeau accuses Jewish MP of standing with people who wave swastikas and confederate flags.

Related: Jordan Peterson Rips Trudeau Over Swastika Taunt To Jewish Lawmaker: Never ‘Encountered Anyone More Self-Righteous.’

More: Entire Media Now In Feeding Frenzy Using Hacked GiveSendGo Information to Intimidate Freedom Convoy Donors.

Insty quips: “Nazis are as Nazis do” about this: Wall Street Journal: Shutting Down Support for the Truckers: Donors to Canada’s ‘freedom convoy’ are harassed and boycotted.

[Incidentally, Dutch has the priceless verb “broodroven” — “bread-robbing” — for depriving people of income by destroying their business or getting them fired. This type of “bread-robbing by doxxing” is the main reason why I have been using a pen name on the net for everything not directly related to my day job, and have been at pains to firewall between those two net identities.]

What’s next, Castreau? Placing donors in “protective custody” (Schutzhaft) to “protect them against the righteous anger of the Volk”?

But seriously: I get thoroughly annoyed by trivialization of the Shoah and of National Socialism’s evils by those who mindlessly compare any policy they dislike to the Third Reich. (This happens here all the time, sadly, from all sides of the spectrum.)

So believe me when I say that I do not write these words lightly: Justin Trudeau’s latest antics are going down a path the Gestapo would have gone had they had 2020s technological tools at their disposal. That regime too relied for repression and enforced conformity on volunteer denunciators from the public, as I have illustrated here by the tragic story of concert pianist Karlrobert Kreiten.

Congratulations, Castreau:

Now you’ve become
Everything you claim to fight
Through your need to feel you’re right
You’re the saviour of nothing now

Everywhere around you
You find reasons to
Turn into a warrior to protect what you believe
But you think their beliefs
Make them less than you
And that is a delusion that your sickness has conceived….

(Disturbed, “Saviour of Nothing”)

[*] This is coming at a time that his own provincial premiers are rapidly phasing out the same measures that the truckers are protesting, while country after country abroad is doing the same. In fact, my own country just announced phasing out the last vestigial restrictions by March 1.

ADDENDUM February 19, 2022:

Rex Murphy in the National Post: Trudeau’s wild misuse of state authority

Powerline quotes the Toronto Sun:

The violence the Prime Minister has expressed concern about during the three-week protest in Ottawa didn’t unfold until Justin Trudeau’s Emergencies Act police army was sent in to disperse the crowd.

The three major incidents Friday, under a form of martial law, were grotesque.

Video of Toronto Police Mounted Unit officers charging into the crowd and at least one horse trampling multiple people — including an elderly woman with a walker — was disturbing.

But that was not the only troubling incident.

Another saw a protester behind a police line repeatedly being smashed with an officer’s rifle.

And convoy organizer Benjamin Dichter also told the Toronto Sun “one of drivers had his truck windows smashed by Ottawa Police (with) guns drawn and (he was) dragged out of his vehicle by force.”

On a more humorous note, see their bonus edition of the Week in Pictures. One weapon that malignant narcissists like Poutine Castreau cannot abide is mockery.

In fact, Trudeau Jinping has gotten so crepe-tastic that fellow lefties abroad, like comedian Bill Maher, are turning on him.

And on a more serious note, David Solway (via Instapundit) lets Jinping Trudeau have it with both barrels.

Freedom, tabarnak! The unique French Canadian style of “sacre” swearing

One of the more amusing pictures I saw of the Canadian truckers protest was a sign “Freedom, tabarnak!” I couldn’t find it again, but here is a related one:

Swearing in most languages involves one or more of the following

  • excretory bodily functions (s**t, merde, mierda, gavno, khara,…)
  • sex and associated organs
  • reflections on one’s ancestry (deliberate insults to one’s mother are possibly the most intercultural kind)
  • profane use of the names of G-d or other deities

Québecois French has a peculiar form in which religious terms from Catholicism are being used as swear words! Supposedly this all began with people being told, “tu ne peux pas dire ça, c’est sacre” (you cannot say this [in a profane context], it is sacred) — hence the name “sacre” for this type of swearing. This is actually strangely reminescent of the Jewish prohibition on using certain names of G-d except during prayer, and of the practice of substituting Ad-nai [my Lord] during prayer, or HaShem [The Name] in conversation, for the most sacred name of all: the shem ha-meforash or Tetragrammaton.[*]

Tabarnak (“tabernacle”) is the strongest and best known “sacre”; other ones include

  • câlice (chalice, used for Communion wine)
  • ciboire (ciborium, holds Communion host)
  • criss (Chr*st, hence also “crisser” as a synonym for “to curse in sacre”)
  • ostie or estie (host)
  • baptême (baptism)
  • calvaire (Calvary)
  • simonaque (simoniac, one engaged in simony = the selling of church benefices)
  • etc.
  • the prefix “saint-” as an intensifier

You can string them together, like below:

Note that this guy also threw in the generic French insult “putain” (wh*re). Bizarrely, typical French obscenities like that and “merde” (sh*t) are actually considered milder than sacre.

There is even a whole set of “minced oaths” as milder substitutions for sacre: see Wikipedia (caveat lector).

I remember one sort-of example in “Flemish” dialects (the variety of Dutch spoken in Flanders): “nondedju” as a corruption of French “nom de D-eu” (name of G-d).

Canadian culture is strange. For example, check out (via Jordan Peterson) these “triggering” images from the dissolution of the blockade at the Coutts, Alberta border crossing:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>MSM won’t show this <a href=”https://t.co/9pFqKIr0eE”>https://t.co/9pFqKIr0eE</a></p>&mdash; Theo Fleury (@TheoFleury14) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheoFleury14/status/1493619292222361600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 15, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js&#8221; charset=”utf-8″></script>

No wonder Poutine Narcissus Castreau feels threatened 😉 Tabarnak!

[*] shem ha-meforash literally means “explicit name” — since it is the only one of G-d’s names that has no other uses or meanings.

Looking around: Narcissus Castreau; wagging the dog on Ukraine?; Bennett state visit to Baḥrain; Nixon was a choirboy compared to Hillary

(1) Justin Castreau [kudos to “littleoldlady”] continues to plumb ever-greater depths of insanity and malignant narcissism.

Trudeau as Narcissus, by Bryce Hall, National Post.

Even people generally sympathetic to his political stances are saying Truck Fudeau’s intolerance of “unacceptable” views has led us to this moment.



As much as I hate to say it, Fidel Castreau may be the only Western leader still worse than Tapiocabrain Joe Biden. The latter at least has the “excuse” that he’s no longer all there, and just being a marionette for his puppeteers.

I wonder how long it will take for him to face a motion of non-confidence in the Canadian parliament. [For US readers: in Westminster-system parliamentary democracies, this is a common mechanism to bring down a government.] He’s heading a minority government as it is…

“masgramondou” the other day quoted Cromwell: (my paraphrase into modern English) “For the love of G-d, at least consider the possibility that you might be mistaken”. I think it is now time to roll out another Cromwell quote: his words to the Long Parliament, repeated by Leo Amery to Neville Chamberlain in 1940:

You have been here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, let us say, and let us be done with you. In the name of G-d, go!

(2) John Hinderaker at Powerline wonders who’s wagging whose dog in Ukraine:

why might war fever suddenly be subsiding? U.S. officials warned that Russia planned an invasion for Wednesday, preceded by a “false flag” operation to serve as a pretext. Then Joe Biden had a long phone conversation with Vladimir Putin in which Biden supposedly conveyed stern warnings. If war is now called off, who benefits? Joe Biden.

The U.K. jumped into the fray on Ukraine’s side, asserting British standing in world affairs and coming to Ukraine’s defense, including, I believe sending some troops to the area. So if the Russian invasion is called off, who benefits? Someone who needs a boost almost as badly as Joe Biden: Boris Johnson.

Emmanuel Macron, following in the footsteps of Charles DeGaulle, charted his own course independent of NATO and tried to be a broker via independent conversations with the Russians. He is engaged in a tough re-election race; if the Ukraine crisis dissipates, he will take credit for it.

And Vladimir Putin, by far the most secure of these four leaders, will benefit as long as Russia gets something out of its mobilization of troops at the Ukraine border. Putin is popular because he is seen as a strong leader, but no leader’s popularity is enhanced by soldiers being killed. So Putin gets the best of both worlds if he takes an aggressive position, mobilizes troops and threatens war, but then achieves Russia’s ends by peaceful means. And, of course, he avoids sanctions that could threaten Russia’s creaky economy.

Are the Western powers prepared to sell Ukraine down the river? The answer, I think, is how far down the river Putin has in mind. Some concessions are easy: “The developments came after Kyiv’s ambassador to London had signalled that Ukraine may be prepared to suspend its efforts to join Nato to avert war.”

No voter in the U.S., the U.K. or France will care that Ukraine has agreed to stay out of NATO. This is an easy win-win.

It seems to me that the question is, what does Putin need in addition to Ukraine staying out of NATO? He annexed Crimea and obviously wants to annex eastern Ukraine, which is mostly Russian speaking and largely pro-Russia, as well. My guess–and it is purely a guess–is that this is what is now being negotiated. How much of Ukraine will the Western powers be willing to sever from that country, perhaps by plebiscite, over the heated objections of Ukraine’s government? 

Call me cynical, but I think we may soon know the answer to that question. Or possibly some seemingly unrelated concession to Putin is on the table. But I think the congruence of political interests among the relevant leaders is too strong for war to be the most likely option.

(3) Israeli PM Naftali Bennett made a state visit to Baḥrain and apparently was cordially received.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Bahrain February 15, 2022. (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

More legacy of the Abraham Accords.

(4) It’s official: Richard Nixon was a choirboy compared to Hillary Clinton.

Last week, we learned that Special Counsel John Durham found evidence that the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign paid a technology company to hack servers at the Trump Tower and the White House and look for “evidence” linking Trump to Russia.

It’s safe to say that you should expect more bombshells to come to light. Sources tell Fox Newsthat Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation has “accelerated.”

Many have expressed frustration with the lack of developments from Durham’s investigation. “Where’s Durham?” Trump asked in a statement released last March. “Is he a living, breathing human being? Will there ever be a Durham report?”

But the lack of developments prior to Friday was not for a lack of progress.

Related: Trump Accuses Clinton Camp of Treason After Durham Revelations

According to the Fox News sources, John Durham, unlike Robert Mueller, has run his investigation “very professionally,” the investigation’s activities are rarely leaked, and more witnesses are “cooperating” and testifying before the federal grand jury than have previously been reported.

“Durham does this right and keeps it a secret,” the source told Fox News and insisted that there’s a lot more activity going on in the investigation than the public has been privy to.

It’s gotten to this:

According to the poll, which was conducted by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics in New Jersey, nearly three out of four Americans want to see Hillary Clinton investigated for her connection to the efforts to frame Trump for ties to Russia. That number includes 66 percent of Democrats.

The poll was conducted last month, before the latest revelations from a motion filed Friday by Special Counsel John Durham alleging that Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign paid a technology firm to “infiltrate’’ servers at Trump Tower (and later the White House) to link Trump to Russia.

It is also possible that the technology firm hacked servers at the Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank in order to make it appear that they’d been communicating with Trump.

Ninety-one percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents also want Hillary investigated.

Durham’s latest filing “definitively shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign directly funded and ordered its lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia,” says Kash Patel, the former chief investigator of the Trump-Russia investigation for the House Intelligence Committee.

(5) on a more optimistic note, the deadly recessive hereditary condition Tay-Sachs Disease (almost invariably fatal by age 5; nearly 1 on 30 Ashkenazi Jews are carriers) may finally be treatable.

Unfortunately, there is still no treatment for Tay-Sachs. Aggressive medical treatment can extend survival but doesn’t improve neurological function. The only effective way to treat Tay-Sachs is to restore the HexA enzyme in the brain. This is difficult, however, because the blood-brain barrier prevents most molecules from passing into the brain.

I am a member of a team of researchers from UMass Chan Medical School and Auburn University who developed a gene therapy that may help get around this barrier. Our treatment uses two harmless viral vectors to deliver DNA instructions to brain cells that teach them how to produce the missing enzyme. Similar techniques have been used to treat a number of related diseases and other conditions. In the case of Tay-Sachs, these DNA instructions enter the nucleus of these cells and stay there, allowing for long-term production of HexA.

The first child who received our gene therapy treatment was age 2 and a half, with late-stage disease symptoms. Three months after treatment, they had better muscle control and could focus their eyes. Now at age 5, the child is in stable health and is seizure-free, which usually isn’t possible for patients at this age. A second child treated at age 7 months had improved brain development by the three-month follow-up and remains seizure-free at a little over age 2.

More testing is needed to confirm whether our treatment can fully stop disease progression. 

COVID mini-update, Valentine’s Day edition: Ontario drops mandates effective March 1; Douglas Murray in the Telegraph on New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, “performative empathy”, and Justin Brandeau; trucker solidarity demonstration in Israel

(1) Doug Ford, premier (=provincial head of government) of Canada’s most populous province Ontario, just announced that he is stopping mandates effective March 1.

He claims that this decision had been in the works for weeks, and had been taken “despite, rather than because of” the Truck Fudeau protests.

Ontario is now fast-tracking previously announced steps to lift restrictions, including moving the next step of its reopening plan up to Thursday instead of next Monday.

On that day, social gathering limits will increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, while capacity limits will be removed in places such as restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theatres. Capacity at businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores will be set at the number of people who can maintain a distance of two metres.

Less than two weeks later, on March 1, capacity limits will be lifted in all remaining indoor public settings and proof-of-vaccination requirements will end for all settings.

[…] businesses and other settings can still require proof of vaccination if they [so] choose, the province said.

This of course leaves Justin Zoolander looking even more isolated and out of touch than he already is. A full two-thirds of Canadians are ready to drop COVID restrictions, the National Post reports. Is he going to call them all “racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobes”? As Douglas Murray puts it (see below), “Unfortunately for Trudeau, many Canadians can see through this playground antic and are not persuaded by it.” 

(2) Douglas Murray in the Daily Telegraph (archived copy here ).

[New Zealand PM] Jacinda [Ardern] seems not to have got the memo. Last summer she notoriously locked down her country again after one man was found to have Covid in New Zealand. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been him. Now, even Australia, which has been one of the strictest, harshest, countries during Covid, has started to lift regulations. And New Zealand?

Well, Ardern has announced yet another batch of regulations for her countrymen. New Zealand seems almost hooked on the stuff. The international media once again went doolally for Ardern when she gave a press conference announcing fresh lockdowns and saying that this meant that her own wedding was off. How much she seemed to care! How much her face crumpled as she talked of the plight of her countryfolk! How selfless she was even to cancel her own nuptials!

What people should have said was that New Zealand’s prime minister had clearly become a mad person. There was no reason to do this performative caring. There was no reason to sacrifice the opportunity to get hitched. The rules were the problem, and getting rid of them should have been the priority.


But it isn’t just Ardern who has this emoting, empathetic act. Perhaps the world leader in this shtick is someone with an even softer voice and even nicer hair: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

As time goes on it becomes clear that Trudeau really is the worst leader in the democratic world. His principal qualifications for the role were that he had been a primary school teacher and that his father had been prime minister before him. […]

There is no reason why Trudeau should not make peace with the truckers. Any more than Ardern should not start to walk back from isolating her island nation.

But the problem is that when you have presented yourself as the most moral person in the land – the most feeling, the most understanding – and portrayed all your critics as Nazis, it is hard to move to ground we might once have called common. So there Justin is, like Ardern, holed up in a problem entirely of his own making.

Empathy is an overrated trick in political leadership. It only gets you so far. Much more important are grit, capability, adaptability and expertise. Neither Ardern nor Trudeau have demonstrated any of these traits. And it is their populations who are suffering as a result.

Read the whole thing (archived copy here ).

(3) A planned demonstration in Jerusalem against Israel’s mandates was kind-of made obsolete by our government lifting nearly all of them. (We never had a vaccine mandate; the outdoor mask mandate was phased out months ago; purple pass has been abolished; green pass is only still in effect for crowded indoor events.) A modest crowd of demonstrators still showed up and sort-of turned the protest into a manifestation of solidarity with the Canadian truckers. “To be a free people,” (a quote from the national anthem Hatikva) says the sign on the car.

 A car, which is part of an Israeli "Freedom Convoy", displays an Israeli flag adorned with red maple leaves as it heads to Jerusalem to protest against restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shoresh near Jerusalem, February 14, 2022. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

ADDENDUM: masgramondou guest-blogging at Sarah Hoyt’s throws Oliver Cromwell’s 1650 admonition to the Scottish leadership at “Justine” [sic] Trudeau: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ[:] think it possible you may be mistaken.”

The list of countries that have abolished all or most COVID restrictions was just joined by Norway, effective February 12. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic seems to be rapidly phasing its restrictions out.

Academentia in action: three vignettes

(1) Masgramondou gives it with both barrels to Truck Fudeau (a.k.a. Justin Zoolander)

Then he quotes a Harvard professor (!) who has this truly “special” suggestion for Trudeau:

Er… moving a big rig with slashed tires and empty gas tank? Chto? Que? Wablief? Come again?

But she doubles down: “Trust me, I will not run out of ways to make this hurt: cancel their insurance; suspend their drivers licenses; prohibit any future regulatory certification for truckers, etc. Have we learned nothing? These things fester when there are no consequences.

Dafuq ba-rosh? [Knocked in the head?] Masgramondou explains at length the inconvenient truths getting in the way. While fairly well paid, long-distance trucking is a fatiguing and thankless job, and there is actually a shortage of qualified drivers as it is.

And of course banning actual truckers from making a living after they’ve spent thousands of dollars on licensing and certifications just makes the job so much more attractive to new entrants and those thinking about returning.

Well apparently it does in Harvard. Where tenure means that you don’t get fired for teaching your students things that don’t apply in the real world. 

Neo-gnosticism in action. Truth can only be found in correct doctrine, not in observation by the corrupt senses 😉

(2) Status-income disequilibrium in action. (Tweets from Instapundit.)

To be fair: at least he teaches math and not a “studies” subject. But to also be fair: the Panda Express managers, unless they belong to some protected class, can be hired and fired at will, while associate professors[*] normally have tenure at US universities.

(3) Academentia continues apace. Timothy Jackson is a professor of music theory at University of North Texas, specializing in the analysis method of Heinrich Schenker. (I first saw his name in the edition of Beethoven’s piano sonatas I bought decades ago.) He publishes a journal devoted to Schenkeriana, and, when some derpseal accused Schenker of racism and indeed claimed that classical music theory is a racist discipline. Jackson treated this allegation with the respect it deserves (i.e., none at all). The academic lynch mob came for him, demanding that he be stripped of tenure, defunded, and publicly burned as a warlock. (OK, I made up the last. More here.) A “star chamber” weighed him in the DIE (fauxversity, exclusion, and iniquity) balance and found him wanting.

Now Jackson is suing the university for violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. UNT sought summary dismissal of the suit, but the court refused.

UNT’s first response was simply to ask Judge Mazzant to dismiss the case—to say that Jackson had suffered no harm, had no standing to sue, and could not sue a public institution. Judge Mazzant roundly rejected all these arguments. Jackson has suffered harm, he has standing, and a public university has no legal immunity for such actions.

So now the actual suit can proceed. Good for Judge Mazzant. I frankly hope that Jackson takes the said university to the cleaners.

[*] associate professor is the middle faculty rank (usually granted following a positive tenure decision), senior to assistant professor but junior to full professor. Some institutions have more senior ranks, like Regents Professor and Distinguished Professor — which led at least one Dean at a top-tier institution to quip to me: “we don’t have such ranks here, as all our full professors are supposed to be distinguished, or they shouldn’t be here”.

Angelo Codevilla (RIP) on PC and wokeism as the modern legacies of Antonio Gramsci

The late Angelo Codevilla’s long but powerful essay about the history of “political correctness” (and its modern version, wokebaggery) https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/the-rise-of-political-correctness/ introduces unfamiliar readers to the father of cultural Marxism, the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. It’s a long but very rewarding read.

Angelo Codevilla | Angelo Codevilla speaking at the 2013 ...

Gramsci developed his ideas while imprisoned under Mussolini, in a set of some 30 notebooks that were smuggled out of prison (the so-called Quaderni del carcere or Prison Notebooks).

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) photographed in 1922 (public domain)

An exhibit of the “prison notebooks” (from Mediawiki; public domain)

Few people who are not either Italian or students of far-left thought (sympathetic or antipathetic) will have heard of Gramsci. Yet he is the wellspring from which much of the dreck we have to wade through today has come.

Codevilla explains that Gramsci owed as much to Macchiavelli as to Marx, if not more: indeed, he saw the role of the party as that of a modern-day “Il Principe” (The Prince). (He may even owe a thing or two to another “M” who originally came from the left himself: his ostensible nemesis Benito Mussolini.)

Then Codevilla explains the rift between the European Gramsciites and the Anglo-American ones.

Gramsci’s Choice

The Gramscian vision of hegemony over culture is not a panacea. In practice, today’s progressive intellectuals are in the same fix as Marx, Lenin, or Mussolini: society’s socioeconomic forces are not beating down the doors to join any Gramscian “historic bloc,” any more than “the workers” had rushed to be the Marxist revolution’s battering ram. Today’s progressive intellectuals, deeply engaged in cultural warfare, face the same choices as Lenin or Mussolini: weld together society’s disparate cultural sectors authoritatively and judiciously, or destroy them. The choice is basically between Mussolinian seduction or Leninist rape. [Codevilla refers to his preceding explanation of how Mussolini sought to coopt the forces and institutions he could not defeat in direct confrontation, such as the Vatican.]

This difference in preference is, roughly, what divides continental European Gramscians from Anglo-American ones.

By the 1970s, socialist parties in Europe had achieved something like monopolies of political power. But the “working classes” came to resent the cultural preferences that the socialists imposed, in addition to their unsatisfactory government. In our time, socialist parties in Europe poll in the teens or single digits. Some progressive politicians have sought the reason and the remedy for this by reference to Gramsci—primarily to the Mussolinian version of Gramscian politics. […]

“The Left,” writes [French post-Gramscian socialist] Brustier, “is no longer in a position of cultural hegemony” because it lost its grip on “what Gramsci called ‘the common sense,’ the complex of ideas and beliefs that people take for granted.” It lost that grip because it mistook the positions of power that it had conquered for power itself. Hence, while the Left “nourished illusions about itself,” the Right was “winning a vigorous cultural war” by “profiting from collective anguish provoked by decline and loss of class status” among ordinary people. While the Left was winning power, “the Right was winning minds.” Brustier concludes by asking “What is to be done with power in which no one believes any longer?”

That slap in his comrades’ faces is factually mistaken only in that it confuses the Right with the de-cultured masses of Europeans who reject the formal or informal “uniparty” coalitions that are the legacy of the Left’s cultural-political hegemony. In fact, as in former Soviet lands, progressive hegemony in Europe produced people who believe in nothing. Nevertheless, these people inhabit a world very different from that in which leftist intellectuals live. Progressives, Brustier warns, must not attribute this cultural difference to “false consciousness.” He recalls that Gramsci taught: “the people are neither blind nor stupid nor slaves.” Gramsci’s whole point, Brustier reminds his comrades, was to lead classes who really are different from the intellectuals to adhere to them. […]

But, by that standard, writes Brustier, the American comrades are even more stupid. Following the advice of such as Noam Chomsky, American Leftists had gone so far as to “recognize a number of enemies of ‘the empire’ (the United States) as potential allies…this certainly does not correspond with the feelings of the American people’s majority.” By doing such things, argues Brustier, the U.S. Left is making itself a “political fringe.”

American progressive intellectuals, however, see themselves as the soul of the Democratic Party, which is at the head of America’s ruling class. Not yet having experienced the kind of rejection that their European counterparts have, they revel in their success in changing American culture over the past half-century, and look to Gramscian notions of cultural hegemony as confirming their practice of forcing their own cultural identities onto America. The Democratic Party’s constituencies already endorse its intellectuals’ aim not to convince the rest of society, but to subdue it. For them, this is the Revolution. They have chosen the Leninist rather than the Mussolinian alternative.

They reason that America’s socio-political order is founded on racism, patriarchy, genocidal imperialism, as well as economic exploitation. Gramsci’s “historic bloc” can come about through the joint pursuit of racial justice, gender justice, economic justice, and anti-imperialism. The Revolution is all about the oppressed classes uniting to inflict upon the oppressors the retribution that each of the oppressed yearns for. This intersubjective community includes the several groups whose identity negates a piece of American culture—religious, racial, sexual, economic. Together, they negate it all.

Regardless of what Gramsci wrote or meant about using the party-state’s power over cultural institutions to subvert and transform the rest of society, for the American Left cultural hegemony means using this power to suffocate Judeo-Christian civilization in its several cradles; to allow in public discourse only such thoughts as serve the identity of the party’s constituent groups; and to denigrate, delegitimize, and possibly outlaw all others. In short, it means political correctness as we know it.

Sabbath musical delight, hit songs in odd meters edition

Traditional rockers: “You can’t write a hit single in an odd time signature, especially not in 13/4!”

Genesis: hold my beer and…. Turn It On Again! (OK, ElektrikHob notates it as alternating measures of 3/2 and 7/4 on the riff.)

screen capture from ElektrikHob video below

I remember when I first heard this tune when in junior high, then asked a school buddy who was a big proghead to tape me the album. His tape deck ran slow, so when I played it back everything had sped up 5% and shifted a semitone up — which if anything added to the sense of urgency of the song.

Until that point, I’d thought the only way to escape the rhythmic straitjacket of 4/4 (common time) or 3/4 (waltz time) were the frequent tempo changes of Romantic and post-romantic classical music — but this opened my eyes. I was instantly hooked and started driving “Luke” crazy with requests to tape every Yes, Genesis, ELP,… album in his collection, then spent my own pocket money on albums he didn’t yet have so I could return the favor.

I have a theory that, if you are going to throw listeners that kind of musical curveball, you can only do it in one major aspect of music (melody, harmony, rhythm, texture) at once — maybe two if you do it really well. Take songs like Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” — startlingly complex guitar leads over a steady drum beat and what amounts to a pedal point bass. Or various Steely Dan songs — poppy melodies and familiar drum grooves paired with complex jazzy chord progressions. Or a song like Tool’s “Vicarious” — ever-shifting time signatures paired with simple power chord harmony. A song like Dream Theater’s “Dance Of Eternity” pushes the limits on all fronts — but is basically for music geeks only.

Here, people are kept grounded through the weird meter by the continuously pulsing bass, and the chords are mostly triads over a pedal point (B, C, E, or F# at different places in the song) — though using modal interchange all over the place (ionian/aeolian or major/minor in the main riff alone; the pre-choruses modulates to C and uses both the lydian and mixolydian modes).

Here is an annotated playlist with 20 more hit singles in odd meters, in different music genres, excluding classical music as well as the kind of progressive metal and “math rock” bands for which odd meters are nearly a style convention.

For 7/8 meter, I could include lots of Rush songs, but since I’m doing that so often already anyhow, let me add a favorite of mine:

Enjoy, have a nice weekend and shabbat shalom!