They are some tough motherfuckers

What they have accomplished is little short of miraculous. That said, I think the worst is yet to come. Russia realized they were spread too thin to maintain all their supply lines, and that they had left themselves too vulnerable to ambushes from many directions. I feel sure that they will simply try a different strategy, perhaps by concentrating all their strength in one column in the east and overcoming Ukrainian territory with a blunt force approach, moving their line of control forward inch by inch, keeping supply lines open behind them, and thus eliminating vulnerable left and right flanks, until they power back to Kiiv.

I think the Ukrainians anticipated that exact strategy when they took out that fuel depot in Russia, near the Ukrainian border. They have to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to supply their forces with fuel, food and reinforcements.

If the Russians had run that play in the first place, they might have controlled half of Ukraine by now, but the strategy won’t work as effectively now because the Russians have lost a lot of equipment and the Ukrainians have had time to prepare. I’m guessing that the Russians originally felt it unnecessary to use such a long, drawn-out approach to get to Kiiv. They probably thought they could take the capital easily with their original strategy, then replace the government with some of Putin’s lackeys. It also appears that they thought some Ukrainians would welcome them and/or fail to resist. If there was ever any chance of that, it is now gone. Since the Russians started bombing civilian targets, the Ukrainians have become solidly unified against Russia, and totally convinced that they don’t want to be part of any country where the leadership indiscriminately kills children and bombs hospitals. Putin has convinced the Ukrainians that being independent is not just one of the many rational choices, like Puerto Rican independence, but is something worth dying for.

It has been a good month for funny men. Zelensky and Chris Rock have demonstrated that comedians can be as tough as nails.

Which have left for good? Which have suspended ops but left options open for the future? Which have stopped investment but hang on to existing assets? Which just plain refuse to budge? This site keeps track.

There are some on the evil list that seem to make it on every evil list. Hey Halliburton and the Koch brothers – why make all this info public? Why not just do what I do? Make your direct deposits into Putin’s secret bank accounts. He’s a man who really shows gratitude for such thoughtfulness. One day I told him my grandchildren were coming round to tea and would he mind very much not poisoning my tea that week – and he agreed and just screwed my pelvis to a cake stand.

That’s impressive, as reported by the Times, but

1. All of that knowledge didn’t do him any good.

2. Biden has clearly demonstrated that the US intelligence on Russia was flawless. He tried to use this intelligence as leverage, showing the world everything Putin was going to do before it happened, and thus showing that the false flags were indeed false.

I wonder if #2 was a mistake. Because of the detail and accuracy of U.S. intelligence, Putin now knows that the USA has a mole in his inner circle. One thinks that he is working full time to expose that mole. Given that the intelligence ultimately did nothing to deter Putin’s ambitions, would it have been wiser to keep that hole card better hidden?

By far the strangest story out of Ukraine so far is this: “Louis CK to Perform in Ukraine Amid Russian Invasion

Good luck with that, Louis. Yakov Smirnoff covered this situation already, with the quote in the headline, and this one: “In America, you assassinate president. In Russia, president assassinate you!”

“On Instagram, he elaborated in a numbered list that he has ‘never lied,’ ‘never been wrong,’ trusts his sources and that he’s ‘yet to see an official statement from the palace saying otherwise.’”

As far as I can tell, the old gal is still on the sunlit side of the lawn.

The Queen Wants You to Know She’s Still Alive, Thanks

You may have read about this or seen it somewhere. A woman was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote when she had been told that she could. She is black, and several white guys have received slaps on the wrist for actually casting fraudulent votes, so it’s a clear case of unequal justice, right? One major headline even characterized it as “Black Lives Matter activist jailed for six years for trying to register to vote after authorities told her she could.” Rachel Maddow presented the narrative, then pulled her usual trick of asking her expert guest if the story had gotten anything wrong or had focused anything improperly. The problem is that she was asking somebody she already knew to have the exact same take on the case. If she had asked me, I would have said, “Yes, Rachel, you pretty much got everything wrong. There is nothing wrong with what you said. The problem is what you left out.”

First of all, the woman had already gone before a judge, who had ruled that she was still on probation and did not have the right to vote. Unhappy with the legal ruling, she took a chance on getting a low-level civil servant to review her case and certify that her probation had expired. That worked. She then took that certification, which she knew to be legally incorrect by judicial ruling, and submitted it with her registration papers. I presume she did not tell the civil servant that a judge had already reviewed the case and ruled on it, but I don’t know that for a fact.

Second, she has a long record of similar disrespect for legal rulings. She didn’t like the ruling of a judge in 2014, so she impersonated a lawyer and a notary public and tried to file a judicial board complaint against the judge. She also threatened the judge with retaliation, and created a Facebook page to make the judge look like a racist. That last bit seems like it might be protected by the First Amendment, but there are accepted exceptions to that Amendment, so that would require a judicial ruling beyond my knowledge base. That aside, her other shenanigans led to several criminal convictions. Somehow she escaped additional jail time on those particular charges, even the act of threatening a judge. The sentence was so lenient that she was only given probation! (So much for that extra-harsh treatment of the poor woman of color.)

She also has a record of having filed civil suits which ended up with her being ordered to pay court and/or attorney’s costs because she failed to follow the court’s instructions, again demonstrating a disregard for the judicial process. (1, 2)

Third, she has a long, long history of this type of fraud and similar cons. She has 16 prior criminal convictions on her record, including tampering with or fabricating evidence, forgery, perjury and attempting to escape custody. Another of her cons was to swap tags at a department store in order to get a much lower price. The history shows that she is basically a career fraudster.

It is easy to understand the judicial pique. First of all, I’m guessing that if you are convicted of a felony while on probation, and have 16 prior criminal convictions, they are not going to be very lenient with you, while they might be with a first-time offender. Second, when a judge tells you that you are still on probation and you then go behind his or her back to get a civil servant to certify otherwise, that judge is not going to be happy with you, particularly if you have a long history of ignoring judicial instructions, or harassing and threatening other judges. It doesn’t seem to me that there is a racial component there. She happens to be a woman and she happens to be black, but she is a scofflaw, both now and in the past, and she got caught again. The case is about her behavior and her history, not about her skin tone. I’m not going to defend her six-year sentence. I don’t know the applicable laws, and how they apply to repeat offenders, or how they apply to people on probation for previous felonies, but on the surface that does sound like a ridiculously long sentence for what she did.

It may be correct that the black woman’s sentence seems too harsh while the white guys’ sentences seem too lenient, but it’s far more complicated than Maddow presented it, and the woman is absolutely not a sympathetic character. On balance, I think the real issue is not the woman, who is a life-long scofflaw. The real issue is those other four guys who got essentially no punishment for voter fraud. That does in fact sound like bullshit. Those were acts of knowing fraud, and one of them even alleged publicly that somebody else had used his late wife’s ballot, which became a cause célèbre for right-wing crackpots claiming evidence of voter fraud. It turned out there was fraud all right, and he is the one who committed it. He wanted to cast an extra Trump vote. That guy only got probation, which seems outrageous to me.

There has been a lot of talk about sanctions against Russia for a Ukrainian invasion, and what Russia may do in rebuttal. I have read a lot about how the Russians may engage in monumental hacking attacks, or how they may cut off Europe’s critical fuel supplies.

What I have not read is this: Russia and its evil half-brother Kazakhstan supply 38% of America’s uranium. Uzbekistan, where my family comes from, is not as subservient to Russia, but they would have to comply if Russia made them an offer they can’t refuse, and they supply another 8% of America’s needs. All told, that’s nearly half of our uranium that Russia can control if it chooses to.

The United States has 56 nuclear power plants supplying power to 28 different states. Together those plants supply about a fifth of all power in the United States. If Russia and Kazakhstan were to impose an embargo on the sale of Uranium to the USA, it would have a massive impact on energy production. America’s allies, notably Australia and Canada, have substantial uranium resources, but can’t immediately supplant the supply from Russia and its allies. Similarly, nuclear power can eventually be replaced by other forms of energy, but not overnight. If Russia decided to take the most dramatic action and cut America off, a disruption like this could create chaos in the stock market, and could wreak havoc on everyday life in certain parts of the country.

Russia and the Kazakhs may not want to do this because they make a profit selling that uranium to the USA, so an embargo is a lose-lose, but they can do it if they feel it is necessary.

And you may have read this somewhere – Mr. Putin is not an especially nice person.

It’s not dead yet, but it’s about to go on the gurney when the “bring out your dead” guy arrives.

The Supremes have agreed to hear the discrimination suits against Harvard and UNC

“The advocates who first developed the Harvard and UNC lawsuits in 2014 aspired to an eventual battle at the Supreme Court, where affirmative action has been upheld only through fragile one-vote margins.”

Given the new roster on the court, I see no chance for affirmative action to survive. Those one-vote decisions belong to the past. Even Justice Roberts, who often sides with the liberals, has been an opponent of the practice. It’s not just the composition of the court that seems to doom affirmative action. There is also law and that pesky Constitution. I believe that affirmative action is good for society, but it’s difficult to find any legal basis for it.

Take note of these two points:

  • “Harvard argued that it considers race in a flexible way that benefits all highly qualified candidates. Its lawyers told the trial court that the college could fill its freshman class entirely with applicants who had perfect test scores and grades, but that it wanted a different mix on campus, a broader range of talent and life experiences.”
  • “The lower US courts that ruled for Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the dual-track cases, however, said the programs used race in a sufficiently limited way to fulfill compelling interests in diversity.”

You see what the Harvard defense and the lower court rulings have in common? They have absolutely no basis in law or the Constitution. They are based on social justice arguments rather than the actual pertinent law. What Harvard “wanted” is not the same as what Harvard must do under the law, and “compelling interests in diversity” is a social engineering argument, not a legal one.

On the other hand, the case against Harvard was brought under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits schools receiving federal funds from discriminating based on race. The UNC lawsuit similarly claims Title VI grounds, as well as a violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the law, which covers state institutions. Those are valid legal arguments. Justice Roberts himself famously declared, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

I have mixed feelings about this matter. I believe in the benefits of affirmative action, and even some of America’s prominent conservative voices have agreed with me, but its legal basis has always been tenuous at best, and I believe that the current conservative Supreme Court is highly unlikely to uphold it. If you’re a betting man, the over/under is that six judges will vote against Harvard and UNC.

The House committee had already received hundreds of pages of documents within hours of the ruling.

“The ruling denying Trump’s request to take up the case effectively deferred to a decision last month against him by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had concluded that Trump’s claims for executive privilege over the documents ‘would have failed even if he were the incumbent’ president, the Supreme Court noted.”

Trump’s claim was meaningless, anyway. Executive privilege only involves the President’s ability to shield certain matters from Congress or, in some cases, the judiciary and general public. So if the Supreme Court had sided with him, he could conceivably have kept the documents from Congress. But here’s the rub. He could not shield the documents from the executive branch. That’s not a thing. If the courts had ruled that Trump could shield documents from Congress, Biden could have ordered his subordinates to place everything online immediately (probably with some redactions), in which case the House committee would have had access to all of it anyway. Trump undoubtedly realized all of that, and that everything would eventually come out, but I assume his strategy was to stall for time on any evidence not in his control, while destroying any evidence in his control before it can be subpoenaed. (That’s almost always his strategy, and has been since long before he became a politician.)

She was sworn in tonight.

Pretty interesting story behind it.

Her personal back story is pretty inspiring. Her parents are Haitian refugees who worked low-level jobs (taxi driver and maid), but she made it all the way through law school and had been working as the CEO of Trinity Health. I’m not enthused about her for several reasons, but you would expect that she would be a strong candidate in a predominately Black congressional district, and you’d be right. She was essentially guaranteed a victory against any Republican. She probably would have won at least 60-40 if she had run against Jesus.

Now the Republicans couldn’t risk having one of their rising stars get slaughtered in an election, so they had to throw in a sacrificial lamb. This is the same theory that caused the 6th man on our high school golf team to play against John Calabria and Terry Diehl, two future PGA touring pros who went to two of our rival schools. Obviously our very best guy, who might shoot a 79 on his best day, was going to get killed by Calabria or Diehl, who played consistently under par on the courses we played. (If I remember right, Diehl first broke par on the Genesee Valley Course when he was 12! I remember thinking it must be a misprint.) So we just moved each of our 1-5 guys down one slot, and threw our weakest guy in against the two aces.

Who was the sacrificial lamb in the election? Quite a troll. An ex-con with quite a rap sheet, and a former drug addict who proudly displays his love of the Confederate “stars and bars.” His preferences include a preference for secession along the Mason-Dixon line.

Because black voters love that shit!

Well, you can’t accuse him of pandering!

At the time he filed his candidacy, he didn’t even have a driver’s license, because it had been suspended for a careless driving citation. Moreover, his ex-wife had filed a police report against him on Nov. 6, 2020, in which she alleged she feared for her safety. According to the report, she was told by a friend of hers that Mariner was “losing it” and wanted to take it out on his wife. “I’m just gonna tie her up, kidnap her and take her to the mountains to get her straight.”

A real boy scout. He probably even knew the correct knots to tie her up.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. He may not even have been legally eligible to run. Article VI, Section 4, of the Florida Constitution states that, “No person convicted of a felony … shall be qualified to vote or hold office.” It would be up to the courts to settle that. It’s not clear whether that provision has been overridden by an amendment. It’s not even clear whether that provision in the Florida constitution could legally apply to a federal office, since the U.S. Constitution specifically defines the requirements for the House, and it’s not clear whether the states can add additional requirements. This is a complicated matter, and not so obvious as I implied at first.

Be that as it may, you can probably guess how the election came out. The woman whose parents worked their asses off to escape poverty, enabling her to get a law degree and become a CEO, won overwhelmingly, about 4-to-1. The Confederate Flag guy got 19%. It is probably not completely coincidental that the white population of that district is (wait for it) … 19%.

So far, no surprises. That would be the end of the story in a rational world. But we don’t live in such a world any longer. All reality is backwards. The troll refused to concede the election and filed lawsuits alleging ballot issues in two areas. As if it mattered. The guy didn’t even get 20% of the vote!

His explanation makes no sense to me.

“Now they called the race — I did not win, so they say, but that does not mean that they lost either.”

OK.

His general state of confusion is further addled by what appears to be virtual illiteracy, based on his Facebook posts, which are often so baffling that one can’t tell what he’s trying to say.

“I’m 100% certain that when Dr. Martin Luther King gave this speech (the- ‘I have a dream…’ speech), he wasn’t talking about blaming disparities in the black community on ‘white privelage’. Today, the two most important issue to defeat are fatherless homes, especially in the black community, and stopping the left from using the black community as political pawns … I’ll be called a Nazi, and you’ll be called an Uncle Tom if you don’t look like me, but say what I.”

I couldn’t find any mention of his educational level in any of his biographical material. I’m guessing that a Ph.D. from the Yale classics department is probably not in the cards.

—-

“Gee, I’m kind of a dumb, illiterate white guy with multiple felony convictions who may not be eligible to hold the office I’m running for. I openly worship the Confederacy in a predominately Black district. I just can’t believe I lost! It must be fraud!”


Here it is in VHD:



According to some reports, the explosion was so loud that it could be heard in Alaska!

Here is a satellite photo that shows the size of the initial cloud compared to the size of Australia (click to enlarge)

The Tonga Online website has some pics from surface level.

Or something. I think his new term of address, rather than Your Royal Highness, is Your Assholiness.

He has also been de-coloneled and de-commodored.

I take it he is still the Duke of Earl or whatever dukedom he represents, and is still ninth in line to the throne, and will continue to be a vice-admiral, and the article still calls him “Prince Andrew.” Oh, yeah, and “Andrew will remain as a counsellor of state, able to undertake official duties if the sovereign is temporarily incapacitated through illness or abroad.”

So maybe it’s not really all that big a punishment. Call me when he gets demoted to chimney sweep.

I guess it depends on how one completes the thought. Less than what? If it’s less than Pete Davidson – certainly. If it’s less than they used to – maybe. If it’s less than me – probably not, unless they are Tibetan monks.

This may be the one and only time I link to an article in Scientific American.

It’s the only magazine where I don’t even understand the pictures.

We now resume the usual crap at my reading level, from Cracked and Weekly World News …

“The research involved stimulating the clitorises of 20 adult females while their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging.”

I don’t know if the scientists involved here are smart enough to prove this point, but I know that there’s an even more cogent argument for their genius: they thought this up in the first place. “Look, I’ll just place this device on your head while I lick your clit. It’ll only take a sec. Darn. The reading wasn’t clear. We better take a longer scan.”

The Man of La Manchin averred: “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”

The Democrats were ecstatic after they won those two Senate seats in Georgia, thinking they were in the catbird’s seat, but that was all an illusion. The situation is better for them than if they had lost those seats, but the 50-50 stalemate in the Senate has made Manchin the most powerful person in America. Manchin was sent to Washington by a mere 290,000 voters, yet he now wields more power than Biden, who got 81 million votes. Nobody would be saying a word about Manchin if the Democrats had lost those two Georgia seats. If that had happened, only serious political junkies would even be able to name a senator from West Virginia. (I have no idea who the other one is.) Now everyone who watches TV news or reads a paper will stand a tip-toe when he is named, and rouse him at the name of Manchin. Talk about a guy in the right place at the right time! (Or the opposite, depending on your politics.)