Quick takes: a strange atmosphere of unreality in Russia-Ukraine, USA, Israel

(A) So Vlad Puttanesca went ahead and, following the “decision” of “the people” in his shamferendum annexed the two “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia. Never mind that Ukrainian forces just overran the important Donetsk area town of Lyman, as even Russian defense sources admit Russian troops have been withdrawn there.


Meanwhile, queues dozens of kilometers long at land crossings into Georgia, Kazakhstan,… as people of draft age are looking to avoid conscription into a Potemkin army.

A strange atmosphere of unreality.

(B) who is really pulling the strings of Joseph Marionette Biden? Jon Gabriel considers the question and speaks of a “Regency”, albeit with an unnamed and un-appointed council of regents.


The term was regularly used in the age of kings and empires. If an 8-year-old princess was placed on the throne or an incapable king couldn’t perform his duties, one or several regents would handle the day-to-day operations.

Many a royal adviser would ignore a capable successor, instead crowning a child so the courtiers could run things behind the scenes.

One regency served during the reign of King George III, most famous for losing the Revolutionary War. After several concerning incidents, his mental health collapsed. George remained king on paper, but the Parliament appointed his heir as Prince Regent.

The dissolute prince decided he would rather party than rule, so he happily let the advisers run the show. The regency ran the empire for the next decade.

Whoever’s running things, they aren’t doing it well

In like manner, Biden is surrounded with longtime D.C. power players, such as Ron Klain, Susan Rice, Anita Dunn, John Podesta, Gene Sperling – a veritable “who’s who” of Beltway knife fights and insider skullduggery. Throughout their long careers, they’ve never sought credit or voter approval. Just power.

And the less Joe is around, the more their regency can accomplish.

Not that these new courtiers always agree. Journalists spend their days trying to determine which of them is rising and who is falling – D.C.’s version of Cold War “Kremlinology.”

These competing power centers explain the contradictory policies coming out of the Oval Office these days. Aggressively pushing a new Iran Nuclear Deal while Russia buys Iranian drones to fight Ukrainians. When there’s no one to say “the buck stops here,” the bucks turn up in pretty strange places.

(C) The introduction of GMU law professor David E. Bernstein’s book “Classified” on racial classification in the USA (for the purposes of reverse racism, er, “affirmative action”) is available for free on the preprint server SSRN.


Especially to foreign readers, the unreality and arbitrariness of the system will be just mind-blowing.

I had a long discussion with an Indian postdoc on his native country’s system of AA for “scheduled castes” and “other backward castes” (I did not make up the bizarre post-Victorian legal term), and how damaging it has been for the country, and how (as he put it) whatever help it gave primarily went to the already well-connected and well-to-do in the newly favored groups, who needed the help the least. He was surprised to hear that Thomas Sowell had made exactly that argument in his Affirmative Action Around The World (which specifically excludes the USA but looks at India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka,… for perspective).

(D) Life imitates Sunset Boulevard: Dick Morris claims Shillary mulling a 2024 run as the “moderate” alternative? Hard to add to this evaluation:


(E) NYU social psychologist Prof. Jonathan Haidt, hardly a leftie, explains why he chose to resign from his scholarly association rather than sign a DIE loyalty statement.


“Telos means ‘the end, goal, or purpose for which an act is done, or at which a profession or institution aims,'” he wrote in a Sept. 20 piece published on the website of Heterodox Academy, an organization he cofounded that promotes viewpoint diversity on college campuses, and republished by the Chronicle of Higher Education. “The telos of a knife is to cut, the telos of medicine is to heal, and the telos of a university is truth.

“The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)—recently asked me to violate my quasi-fiduciary duty to the truth,” he added. […]

Mandatory DEI statements became a concern well before Haidt’s run-in with the SPSP and the substitution of “anti-racism” for diversity.” Just weeks ago, Reason‘s Emma Camp noted that “in many American universities, prospective professors are now expected to include lengthy diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements in their job applications.”

A recent American Association of University Professors survey found that DEI criteria are included in consideration for tenure at 21.5 percent of colleges and universities, and at 45.6 percent of large institutions of higher education.

“In many cases, these policies threaten to restrict employment or advancement opportunities for faculty who dissent from the prevailing consensus on DEI-related issues of public and academic interest,” warns the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). “These policies may even negatively impact faculty who broadly agree with their institution’s DEI values but disagree on some of the specifics, or who simply cherish the right to speak without compulsion.”

FIRE acknowledges that private institutions have the right to adopt any ideological requirements they wish (public institutions are bound by the First Amendment). But it says DEI mandates threaten the commitments to free speech and academic freedom that most universities espouse.

(F) Last night, I watched an interview by Prof. Mordechai Kedar (in Hebrew) with Yaron Abraham [not his birth name] — born in an Arab family in Lod, attended radical Islamist (specifically, Salafist) madrassas in Gaza and south of Hebron where he was abused and indoctrinated into the Jihad ideology — then fled at age 17, bounced around Israel surviving on handouts and odd jobs until an MK for the far-left Meretz party and his brother sort-of adopted him. Incredibly, he served with the Givati Brigade in the Gaza area, then lived the live of a secular Jew in Tel Aviv, ultimately became attracted to religious Judaism as he sought a connection to the Almighty — and formally converted to Orthodox Judaism. He is now a married father of two and lives in Jerusalem.

ADDENDUM: bizarre, but maybe rational for a change: deal emerges between Israel and Lebanon concerning border gas fields. Effectively, Israel will maintain its maritime border, French energy company Total will exploit the gas field on the Lebanese side (which extends into Israeli territory) on Lebanon’s behalf, and pay royalties to Israel for the proportional “Israeli” part.


One thought on “Quick takes: a strange atmosphere of unreality in Russia-Ukraine, USA, Israel

  1. My wife’s family settled in the US/Mexico border area in the late 1600s. Those on the US side are generally considered “white” even though some of the older ones don’t speak English. Those on the Mexican side are considered “hispanic” even though they’re all inter-related. It’s the very definition of arbitrary.

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