Max Boot draws a straight line between the military Republican politicians say they want and the awful military Russian actually has:
Right-wingers have long claimed that the U.S. military should not be hobbled by humanitarian considerations or even the laws of war. During the Vietnam War, when U.S. aircraft dropped more bombs than during World War II, many conservatives fumed that we were fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. “Bomb them back into the Stone Age,” Gen. Curtis LeMay demanded. Most of the public supported 2nd Lt. William L. Calley, the only perpetrator of the infamous My Lai massacre (when U.S. troops killed more than 500 civilians) to be convicted by a court-martial. He served only three years of house arrest.
By right-wing lights, Russia should have the world’s greatest army. The Russian military, after all, is as illiberal, or “un-woke,” as it is possible to get.
Yet, despite the Russian army’s lack of wokeness and its proclivity for war crimes, it is not, in fact, a capable military force.
The brutalization of Russian soldiers, combined with the corruption of their officers, detracts from unit cohesion and therefore from combat performance. No doubt the abuse inflicted on Russian soldiers by their comrades makes them more willing to abuse civilians, but this, too, undercuts the professionalism of the Russian military.
The rot in the Russian military spreads from the head, of course. Much like the Republican Party over here.
Ukraine has sunk the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva:
Ukrainian officials said they had used Neptune anti-ship missiles to hit the Moskva, a 10,000-tonne Slava-class cruiser which was 60-65 nautical miles (111-120km) south of Odessa. The Moskva, commissioned in 1982, is—or, perhaps, was—the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has its headquarters in occupied Crimea. It was a “venerable, battle hardened, major surface combatant” which participated in Russian wars in Georgia in 2008 and Syria in 2015, notes Alessio Patalano, a naval expert at King’s College London. “This is one of the most severe naval losses since the Falklands war” of 1982, he adds.
The strike is rich with symbolism. The ship was built in Mykolaiv, then a Soviet city but now a Ukrainian one which has repelled Russian ground assaults over the past month. It was also one of two warships that attacked Snake Island, west of Crimea, on February 24th, the first day of the war. When it ordered the tiny garrison there to surrender, the alleged reply—“Russian warship, go fuck yourself”—became an icon of national resistance, emblazoned on everything from T-shirts to postage stamps. The Moskva’s apparent loss was “a massively important military event”, said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, on social media. He cast it as the Russian navy’s biggest defeat since the second world war.
Yet again Russia has lost a strategic asset to hubris and incompetence. Yet again Ukraine has demonstrated why authoritarians lose to smaller powers every time.
It's a bit windy in Chicago: winds steady at 25 knots peaking at 47 knots at 1pm. WGN says:
The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning through 7 p.m. Thursday.
Gusts are to build to greater than 60 mph at times–and there are indications a few of the strongest gusts could reach speeds of 70 to 80 mph.
Whitecaps were spotted in Lake Michigan and the gusts have the potential to send waves greater than 10 feet on the shoreline.
It’s a good idea to move objects indoors and out of the wind.
Great, thanks! That last bit helps. Even Cassie got tired of pushing against it.
Bonus graphic: can you spot when the cold front came through yesterday?
On 13 April 1992, damage to a tunnel under the Chicago River caused a billion liters of water to flood the Loop—entirely underground:
The Great Chicago Flood paralyzed downtown — shutting down power and prompting an evacuation that would affect financial markets and bring business to a halt for days. Those who were there vividly recall that spring day when 124 million gallons of water from the Chicago River flowed into the city’s maze of underground freight tunnels and building basements, turning the Loop into a ghost town.
The disastrous flood that hit downtown Chicago on Monday began as a small and seemingly harmless leak that was detected at least a week earlier by city workers.
The seepage was considered routine at the time it was spotted, and plans were made to make repairs from within the tunnel.
But before the work began, the leak grew into a flood that sent more than 250 million gallons of murky Chicago River water coursing through a turn-of-the-century underground tunnel system and up into the subgrade levels of buildings throughout downtown.
I was in New York at the time, marveling at how effectively the city evacuated the area. By the time I got back to Chicago most of the damage had been cleaned up.
In this must-read piece on Puck, Julia Ioffe interviews Serhiy Leschenko, one of Volodymyr Zelensky's principal aides:
What about American fears that this will set off World War III?
It’s absurd. If Russia has become so weak that it couldn’t hold on to Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel, then what World War III could you possibly be talking about? They’re just incapable of doing it. The threat of using nuclear weapons is just the appearance of a threat. He’ll never fire it. Because this decision isn’t made by one person. You can’t just press a button and a rocket starts flying toward America.
To what extent do you make a distinction between the Russian people and the Russian government?
I was recently reading the memoirs of [former German chancellor] Helmut Schmidt. He fought in the Wehrmacht and he wrote in his memoirs that he didn’t know about the concentration camps and the mass killings, he just fought and that’s it. Back then, you could still write that, because 80 years ago, there was no internet and no access to alternative sources of information. Today, no one can make that argument anymore because there is always the option of getting real information elsewhere, even in Russia.
Do you think Russians want to believe it, maybe so they can sleep better at night?
They did the same thing when they shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. They invented the Spanish flight dispatcher Carlos. They invented a Ukrainian jet fighter that flew over the plane, then they said that the plane had already been filled with cadavers or hostages. Then they said that Ukraine shot the plane down. The classic tactic of Russian propaganda isn’t to advance their version of events, but to undermine people’s trust in any version, to advance the idea that the truth is unknowable, that everything is so complicated and everyone around you is lying so much that the truth will never come out anyway. This way, they’re not advancing their own version but are instead destroying the truth.
It's a relatively short read, but helpful in understanding the Ukrainian government's views on the war.
Actually, it's 5pm here. And I have a few stories queued up:
Finally, author John Scalzi puts Rogue One in third place on his ranked list of Star Wars films, with some good reasons.
Canada has put the Prairie Provinces on a winter storm warning as "the worst blizzard in decades" descends upon Saskatchewan and Manitoba:
A winter storm watch is in effect for southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, with snowfall accumulations of 30 to 50 centimetres expected mid-week, along with northerly wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour, said Environment Canada on Monday.
“Do not plan to travel — this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades,” the agency warns.
The storm is expected to start Tuesday night, as a Colorado low pressure system moving toward Minnesota will bring a “heavy swath of snow” from southeastern Saskatchewan through most of southern Manitoba.
Snow will start to fall early in the evening near the U.S. border and move north overnight. Blowing snow and high winds will cause zero visibility and whiteout conditions, making driving treacherous.
And finally, prosecutors in Texas have declined to pursue charges against a 26-year-old woman arrested last week for infanticide after self-inducing an abortion. Welcome to the new 19th Century, at least in the religious South.
Thursday evening, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance:
That's Bill Kurtis, Peter Sagal, Karen Chee, Alonzo Bodden, and Helen Hong at this week's "Wait Wait" taping. The "Not My Job" guest was actor Matt Walsh:
Then yesterday, Cassie and I trundled up to Spiteful Brewing in the sun:
Not a bad few days, in all.
Via Molly White, a new company called Gripnr wants to monetize your D&D campaign, and it's as horrible as it sounds:
Gripnr plans to generate 10,000 random D&D player characters (PCs), assign a “rarity” to certain aspects of each (such as ancestry and class), and mint them as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Each NFT will include character stats and a randomly-generated portrait of the PC designed in a process overseen by Gripnr’s lead artist Justin Kamerer. Additional NFTs will be minted to represent weapons and equipment.
Next, Gripnr will build a system for recording game progress on the Polygon blockchain. Players will log into the system and will play an adventure under the supervision of a Gripnr-certified Game Master. After each game session is over, the outcome will be logged on-chain, putting data back onto each NFT via a new contract protocol that allows a single NFT to become a long record of the character’s progression. Gripnr will distribute the cryptocurrency OPAL to GMs and players as in-game capital. Any loot, weapons, or items garnered in-game will be minted as new sellable NFTs on OpenSea, a popular NFT-marketplace.
As a D&D veteran who once played a character (for 5 minutes) with Gary Gygax* as DM, I can't see how any gamer would want to do this. Molly White has spent the last two years documenting the ways scammers and grifters have used "the blockchain" and "NFTs" and other Web3 buzzwords to steal (or, as I believe, launder) billions of dollars. Gripnr seems like just one more scam, but I could be wrong: Gripnr could just be a lazy get-rich-quick scheme for its creators.
US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) excoriated Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) on the floor of the Senate this week. Greg Sargent follows Josh Marshall in exhorting more Democrats to get messages like this out more often:
Grandstanding and disingenuousness are endemic to politics. The tension between sordid political theatrics and the higher ideals they serve goes back to the ancients. But at a certain point, the pileup of absurdities becomes so comically ludicrous, so obviously unmoored from even the most basic standards of conduct, that it needs to be called out.
Yet we don’t hear enough from Democrats putting down hard emotional markers indicating that at moments like these, something is deeply amiss, and something unusually absurd and depraved is happening.
Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) practically snickered as he refused to say that a GOP-controlled Senate will give a hearing to a future Biden nominee to the Supreme Court.
We’re constantly told the American people hate Washington dysfunction. Yet McConnell knows he can cheerfully threaten something this obscenely destructive without fearing any political downside. But why does McConnell know this?
McConnell perhaps instinctively knows little noise from Democrats will break through to their voters, or alert the middle that something this unusual happened at all. Meanwhile, the vast right-wing media apparatus will keep up the drumbeat of wildly inflated hysteria about the threat of radical Democratic rule...
Marshall has made this point repeatedly, mostly behind paywalls. So have others. Hey, pop quiz, who's the most badass ex-military US Senator? Mine, actually. And which US Senator actually owns and works on his own farm? A Democrat. Which US Senator's latest election win was the largest swing from his state's presidential vote? A Democrat (despite it all). Who's the only person in the US Senate to have commanded multiple space missions? A Democrat.
We need to remind people who we are and what we do. And to mercilessly ridicule useless grandstanders like Hawley until they get tossed out of office.