Democrats are willing to fight anyone except a foreign invader?

Democrats frequently promise to “fight” when seeking election. Here’s the party’s thought leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “‘We can and must fight‘: AOC urges Americans to ‘get to work’ to defeat Donald Trump following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death” (Independent 2020). Nancy’s Pelosi’s 2010 statement on President Obama’s Economic Speech says Democrats are “fighting” for the middle class. The most excellent of current Democrats, as evidenced by his/her/zir/their elevation to the Presidency: “I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first,” said Biden. (NYT, December 2020) Biden’s inaugural address: “I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.” Biden in April 2021: “the climate crisis is not our fight alone. It’s a global fight.” The godlike Obama in 2018: “You can make it better. Better’s always worth fighting for.” Obama in 2009: “I will fight for you. … I got my start fighting for working families in the shadows of a shuttered steel plant.” Hillary Clinton’s concession speech: “I have, as Tim said, spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. … please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

A Quinnipiac University poll, however, found that there was one thing Democrats did not want to fight against: a military invasion.

As the world witnesses what is happening to Ukraine, Americans were asked what they would do if they were in the same position as Ukrainians are now: stay and fight or leave the country? A majority (55 percent) say they would stay and fight, while 38 percent say they would leave the country. Republicans say 68 – 25 percent and independents say 57 – 36 percent they would stay and fight, while Democrats say 52 – 40 percent they would leave the country.

Here’s more granular data (from the above URL, click “download as PDF”):

White men were the group most likely to say that they were willing to fight, at 75 percent. We’re informed that Americans who identify as “women” are generally strong and independent, but, in the event of an invasion, only 40 percent say that they’d be willing to fight. Americans identifying as “Hispanic” were actually slightly more likely than whites to be willing to fight while Americans who identify as “Black” already had one foot over the border (only 38 percent would be willing to stay and fight, the lowest percentage of any demographic group).

Although most apparently won’t be fighting, Americans who identify as “white women” are the ones who are truly suffering from what is happening in Ukraine, with 65 percent saying that they’re feeling anxious:

When we combine decades of political rhetoric with the poll results, is it fair to say that Democrats are enthusiastic about any fight except one involving a foreign army that is trying to take over the U.S.?

Full post, including comments

Can Ukrainians identify as female and leave the country?

“Ukraine men ordered to stay and fight Russia as others flee” (New York Post, 2/25/2022):

Ukraine announced late Thursday that men between the ages of 18 and 60 were forbidden from leaving the nation, which has been under martial law since the start of the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian authorities “were nice, not rude, but they said that men have a duty to defend the country,” said Erzsebet Kovacs, 50, at a train station.

I asked a Ukrainian-American friend whether this was a practical obstacle. “Why can’t anyone who wants to leave say ‘I identify as a woman’?” He responded, “It’s another example of male privilege. The border agents would probably shoot you in the balls.”

He speaks and reads Russian and travels regularly to Ukraine, yet in early January 2022 he estimated the chance of an invasion at only 10 percent, upping his risk assessment somewhat after Joe Biden hinted that a “minor incursion” would be tolerated (NBC). His U.S.-educated child: “This war makes me realize how trivial are the concerns that we’re taught to worry about in [public] school. The microaggressions, the gender pay gap, and Covid. What’s really important is where to hide money and how to get food.”


Full post, including comments

Potential explanation for the Ukraine situation

A reader comment on Why didn’t Ukraine become a NATO member back in the 1990s? highlighted this 2018 lecture at Yale by a French-Russian-American guy, 83 years old at the time(!), who was formerly a Soviet spokesman. Starting at about 19:00 he summarizes the various insults that the U.S. and NATO have inflected on the post-Soviet Russians. These include the 1998 expansion of NATO, breaking explicit promises made to the Soviets, recognizing the split off of Kosovo from Serbia, rejecting Putin’s proposals to join NATO and the EU, returning nothing for Putin’s assistance post 9/11.

He highlights Thomas Friedman, not for being smart enough to marry the daughter of a billionaire and fret about global warming from inside an 11,000-square-foot mansion, but for a 1998 article about the NATO expansion:

So when I reached George Kennan by phone to get his reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO expansion it was no surprise to find that the man who was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union and one of the great American statesmen of the 20th century was ready with an answer.

”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”

The point about “neither the resources nor the intention” reminds me of a question at a Chinese New Year party in Miami: “Why does Joe Biden want to defend the Ukraine border when he won’t defend our own?”

”I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

If we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.

Thanks to Western resolve and the courage of Russian democrats, that Soviet Empire collapsed without a shot, spawning a democratic Russia, setting free the former Soviet republics and leading to unprecedented arms control agreements with the U.S.

And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.

As he said goodbye to me on the phone, Mr. Kennan added just one more thing: ”This has been my life, and it pains me to see it so screwed up in the end.”

Geopolitics is a complex topic so I don’t think Pozner or Kennan has access to the whole truth (but Friedman does! Marry a rich woman and live under Maryland family law so that she can’t get rid of you without ruinous financial consequences). However, the Pozner lecture is a good refresher for Americans who’ve forgotten everything that we’ve done in Europe during the past 30 years.

Full post, including comments

Why didn’t Ukraine become a NATO member back in the 1990s?

In a comment on MIT weighs in regarding the war in Ukraine, Paul wrote the following:

sure looks like NATO poking the Russian bear to me.

What’s inside the referenced January 10, 2022 NATO document?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: On membership. We have reiterated the decision we made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and we stand by that decision. We help Ukraine to move towards a NATO membership by implementing reforms, by meeting NATO standards. … Meaning that it is for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership.

Let’s ignore for the moment the question of whether it was wise, as Russian forces gathered on the borders of Ukraine, to talk about the inevitability of Ukraine’s future membership in NATO, exactly what the Russians were objecting to. The question for today’s post regards “NATO standards”.

Let’s step back and look at Jens Stoltenberg? Wikipedia says Mx. Stoltenberg is “a Norwegian politician”. He/she/ze/they is not someone with military experience, in other words, and yet he/she/ze/they leads what is supposedly a military enterprise. Below is a 2018 meeting where we can see how mild-mannered he/she/ze/they is compared to Donald Trump, who points out that Germany’s continued fossil fuel purchases from Russia work against the organization’s mission.

Hindsight is 20/20, but if the goal was to have Ukraine as part of NATO, why wasn’t that done in 1994, when the Budapest Memorandum was signed? Putin’s leadership of Russia did not begin until 1999.

NATO in January 2022 said that Ukraine could join NATO “by implementing reforms” and “by meeting NATO standards,” but what was deficient about Ukraine from NATO’s perspective? It can’t be about fighting spirit, can it? There are plenty of countries in NATO that are not renowned for military valor. What “reforms” did Ukraine need? They had already stopped paying Hunter Biden (and, indirectly, “the big guy”, though $2.5 million of this cash was harvested by a retired-stripper-turned-family-court-entrepreneur; see BBC for a summary), right?

If countries that have historically crumbled at the first hint of a foreign invasion can be part of NATO, what was the obstacle to Ukraine’s membership years or decades ago?

Full post, including comments

Book recommendation: The Great Siege, Malta 1565

Sadly topical, let me recommend The Great Siege, Malta 1565 by Ernie Bradford. For Americans softened by 150+ years without war on our soil, this is a sobering reminder of the nature of war and life in a besieged city. For those who are concerned about the fighting abilities of the innumerate 79-year-old whom Americans elected as our Commander in Chief, the book may provide some comfort. Suleiman the Magnificent, who ordered the siege, was nearly 71 years old at the time. Dragut, “The Drawn Sword of Islam”, who proved to be Suleiman’s best military leader, was 80 years old. Jean Parisot de Valette, who led the defense and gave his name to Malta’s capital, was 70.

Trigger Warning: the book’s author died in 1986, when Science was but poorly understood, and thus the book lacks coverage of how the 2SLGBTQQIA+ and BIPOC communities experienced the siege.


Full post, including comments

Ukrainians on the Ukraine situation

The situation in Ukraine is bewildering to those of us who received parochial American educations. The Wall Street Journal attempts to explain it in “Putin’s Endgame: Unravel the Post-Cold War Agreements That Humiliated Russia”:

The Russian leader is trying to stop further enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whose expansion he sees as encroaching on Russia’s security and part of the West’s deception and broken promises. He wants NATO to scale back its military reach to the 1990s, before it expanded east of Germany.

In sum, Mr. Putin seeks to undo many of the security consequences of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, an event the Russian leader has called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

Looking back, many current and former Western officials say it is clear that the U.S. and its allies handled relations with Moscow poorly in the 1990s, and that the triumphalism over winning the Cold War was excessive.

“Although I think that Western diplomacy was arrogant and incompetent in the 1990s, and we’re paying the price now, that is not a reason for Putin to put himself in a posture that makes other people think he’s about to launch a war,” said Rodric Braithwaite, who was British ambassador to Moscow when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Yet in 1994, Russia joined with the U.S. and U.K. in committing “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against it, a security guarantee that helped persuade Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons.

Where are the US and the UK today with their “security guarantee”? (See the Budapest Memorandum.)

A successful friend who grew up in Ukraine:

Overheard young Swiss on a chairlift:
Guy 1: All this stuff with Ukraine is crazy. If World War III happened, it would be kind of cool. But also kind of not cool.
Guy 2: Yeah, it would not be. But you know, if we [Switzerland] manage to repeat what we did in WW2, we should be fine.

An American on the European response (putting the amazing new undersea pipeline on hold):

Man the Germans are sticking it to Putin. They are only going to buy half of their natural gas from him.

A Deplorable American with a Ph.D. in biology:

New sanctions are going to be about as effective against Putin and Russia as cloth masks were against the coronavirus.

From an aircraft mechanic:

If Putin takes over the Ukraine does Hunter still get his board of director payments?

An American passionate about free speech:

I am curious to see how long it takes for Twitter to suspend Putin’s account for spreading misinformation. Or does suspension apply only to “mean tweets”?

One question is whether the 44 million people who live in the Ukraine can qualify for asylum in the U.S. A person who says “my spouse is hitting me” qualifies for permanent residence in the U.S. and, if he/she/ze/they does not wish to work all that much, a lifetime of associated means-tested subsidies for housing, health care, food, and smartphone. As fearsome and difficult to escape as a domestic partner might be, a shooting war involving the powerful Russian Army is surely scarier. (Note that the New York Department of Health actually spends more than what the Russians spend on their entire military.)

I asked a friend who gets a paycheck from the refugee-industrial complex what would stop all 44 million Ukrainians from going to Mexico, walking across the Rio Grande, and saying “I request asylum”. His response:

They might qualify, but due to Trump policy that courts have not let Biden rescind, asylum seekers are being sent back across the border to wait in Mexico. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case. They might have a better chance of getting asylum if flew into NY on a tourist or other visa and then got a lawyer and filed asylum claim.

Me: “I don’t see how one can argue that Ukraine is not a dangerous place to be right now.”

Covid rule is different. That’s called “Title 42” and allows for immediate deportations due to health crisis. It also depends which city your hearing is held in. Rate along southern border is much lower than in NY. And if you have a lawyer, about 10x better chance. I would agree those fleeing Ukraine have a decent claim, but you’d still have to convince asylum judge. Being a political dissident or member of religious minority is better than just saying “I’m scared of war”. If Russians or Separatists declare that they’re looking for you that would help. You need to be able to convince a judge that you have a reasonable fear of persecution. Asylum seeker must show that they have a “well-founded fear of persecution in their home country on account of either race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” That’s the legal principle.

He pointed out that Temporary Protected Status would also be an option for Ukrainians who wished to be far away from any armed conflict.

Haitians had it after earthquake.

(“Temporary” for Haitians began in 2010 and was recently extended to at least 2023. Children born in the U.S. in when “temporary” began are now biologically capable of having children themselves.)

The question of 44 million Ukrainians being entitled to come here makes me wonder a bit about what kind of society the U.S. is building by giving immigration priority to those who say that they are at risk of being attacked somewhere else. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, people migrated to the U.S. because they liked the idea of living in the U.S. Now we are filling the U.S. to a Chinese/Indian density with people who say that they don’t want to live wherever they’ve been living. It isn’t that they are attracted to what they perceive as American cultural values, for example, but they are repelled by threats against life and limb wherever they are. They might find American cultural values, such as hatred of Asians and discrimination against Blacks and those who identify as “women”, abhorrent, as Eileen Gu does, but living in the U.S. is nonetheless preferable to suffering inescapable domestic or gang violence in their home countries.

Full post, including comments

WSJ: Covid-19 was more destructive of American life than World War II

“One Million Deaths: The Hole the Pandemic Made in U.S. Society” (Wall Street Journal, 1/31/2022):

Covid-19 has left the same proportion of the population dead—about 0.3%—as did World War II, and in less time.

So Covid is only about twice as bad as fighting World War II on two fronts? (same number of deaths in half the time) No.

Unlike the 1918 flu pandemic or major wars, which hit younger people, Covid-19 has been particularly hard on vulnerable seniors. It has also killed thousands of front-line workers and disproportionately affected minority populations.

According to the journalists, the 1918 flu and “major wars” weren’t that bad because they killed “younger people” (who are annoying and we are better off without them?) rather than “vulnerable seniors” (median age of a Covid-19 death in Maskachusetts was 82 (and 98.2% had “underlying conditions”)). World War II also killed white people, apparently, who are overly numerous and expendable, unlike “minority populations” that we want to preserve because they are precious.

By saying that Covid-19 has done more damage than Adolf Hitler, is this Wall Street Journal article an illustration of Godwin’s Law?

Separately, if Covid-19 is actually killing more Americans and more valuable Americans (the vulnerable elderly and minorities) than those who were killed in World War II, why are there so many frivolous stories in the same newspaper? Look to your left and look to your right. One of those neighbors will soon be dead from Covid-19 (best to budget for a 40% increase in rent even as this viral neutron bomb depopulates the U.S.). The same newspaper that urges you to wait apprehensively to see who dies next also wants you to check out Rihanna (the birthing person photo below shared the home/front page with the story about 1 million precious Americans who died):

Also on the front page, a football team will play in a football game, which football fans probably didn’t realize from watching football on TV:

We’re about two years into the war that we declared against Covid-19. What did an American newspaper look like two years after Pearl Harbor? Every story is about the war except for one about a union strike against New York City’s public schools.


  • “Across regions: Are most COVID-19 deaths above or below life expectancy?” (Germs, March 2021): The reported age of those suffering from COVID-19-related deaths was evaluated across eight countries (United States, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland). … COVID-19 differs from recent pandemics of the 21st century because it disproportionately targets individuals over 65 years of age. … Given this dataset, the findings revealed that ∼65% of COVID-19 deaths occurred above life expectancy.
  • Cost of all U.S. wars versus cost of coronapanic (adjusted for inflation, we have spent more than 2X on Covid compared to World War II)
  • Memorial Day Thoughts: One sobering statistic is that only about 25 percent of the early B-17 crewmen completed their 25 missions and came home in one piece.
Full post, including comments

Why is the conflict over Ukraine happening now?

Please forgive my ignorance of everything that happens beyond the borders of the U.S. (and/or beyond the borders of Palm Beach County), but I’m hoping that readers who follow matters international, especially those who live in Europe, can explain the Russia-Ukraine-NATO-US situation to me.

Why now? What has changed to create this conflict? Why wouldn’t it have happened in 2018, for example?

The New York Times assured us that Vladimir Putin controlled Donald Trump. From 2019, for example, “Donald Trump: The Russia File” (a consensus piece from the entire Editorial Board):

Standing on the White House lawn on Monday morning, his own government shut down around him, the president of the United States was asked by reporters if he was working for Russia.

He said that he was not. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it’s a whole big fat hoax,” President Trump said.

Yet the reporters were right to ask, given Mr. Trump’s bizarre pattern of behavior toward a Russian regime that the Republican Party quite recently regarded as America’s chief rival. Indeed, it’s unnerving that more people — particularly in the leadership of the Republican Party — aren’t alarmed by Mr. Trump’s secretive communications with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and reliance on his word over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

Given the direct control of U.S. politics that U.S. media asserted that Russia was exercising from 2016 through 2020, if Putin wanted to do something in Ukraine without American interference, wouldn’t it have made sense to do it while a Russian puppet (Donald Trump) was in charge in D.C.?

Russia annexed Crimea during the Obama administration (Wikipedia) and took a lot of heat for that. Unless we/NATO/Europe has done something recently to antagonize Russia, wouldn’t it have made sense for Russia to do whatever it is doing now back in 2014 so that it would have had to suffer only one round of sanctions?

Finally, given that the U.S. is packed with immigrants from both Ukraine and Russia, I wonder what the consequences for this dispute will be here. Our corner of Florida in particular is home to both Ukrainians and Russians (many had been living in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, but moved when lockdowns and school closures were imposed). Can expats from Ukraine and Russia get along? I remember when Crimea was annexed, a Massachusetts immigrant from Crimea was vocal in support of Putin and the annexation (her father was a Russian military officer).

This is a big story in U.S. media recently and yet I have no idea what Americans are supposed to know about the situation.


  • New York state public and welfare health spending compared to Russia’s military budget: How much is $88 billion? Mexico spends about $1050 per person on health care. That includes health care for the rich, middle class, and poor. Mexico’s population is roughly 130 million so this works out to about $136 billion. In other words, with only 20 million people, New York spends close to as much on public health and welfare health insurance as Mexico does to care for its entire population, including cosmetic surgery for the richest people in Polanco. (How are the results in the Mexican system? Mexican life expectancy is about one year less than American life expectancy.) Comparisons between coronavirus and war are common. What if we wanted to have a military force with supersonic fighter jets, nuclear-powered submarines, an aircraft carrier, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, nearly 1 million active-duty troops, and 2 million reservists? Somewhere around $70 billion is what Russia spends. In other words, New York state spends more for public health and welfare health care than Russia spends to fund what might be the world’s most powerful military (let’s hope that we never find out who is actually the strongest!).
Full post, including comments

Cost of all U.S. wars versus cost of coronapanic

It was Veterans Day last week, when we celebrated anyone who carried a gun, flew a desk, stocked shelves, or conducted gender reassignment surgery on behalf of the U.S. military. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has a budget roughly comparable to what the formidable Russians spend on their active duty military. To what could we compare our military budget that would make it look like a bargain?

What’s the scope of the spending that we’re hoping to put into perspective? Let’s start by looking at a Congressional Research Service report, “Costs of Major U.S. Wars” (figures in 2011 dollars). According to the pointy heads, the U.S. spent $4.1 trillion on World War II, $728 billion on the Vietnam War, and roughly $1.1 trillion for the first 10 years of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our other wars were insignificant in costs by comparison.

What could have cost more than all of these wars? Coronapanic! Ignoring what cities and states might have spent, e.g., paying employees who weren’t working, the federal government alone has spent roughly $10 trillion so far (

A Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit, November 2019:


Full post, including comments

Shut down the U.S. Army now that we know more about our limits?

Some 9/11 reflections…

U.S. military spending in 2000 was $320 billion. That’s about $520 billion in today’s mini-dollars. The 2021 military spend is about $700 billion (35 percent higher in real terms) plus about $220 billion for veterans (pensions, health care, etc.).

We were recently defeated by a peasant army in Afghanistan. Might it be time to consider investing less in an area where we have a record of ineffectiveness?

My dumbest question: Why spend money on an army (1 million uniformed personnel plus 250,000 civilians)? I can understand why we might want a navy (though maybe we could lose it all in an hour or two? See Robot kamikaze submarines shaped like blue whales render navy ships useless?). I can understand why we want an air force, e.g., for drone attacks on people we don’t like, dropping bombs on the assets of governments we don’t like, etc. I can understand why we might want Navy SEALs and similar special forces. But what is the Army for in our current strategic situation?

We’re not going to invade Poland with tanks, right? We’re not going to occupy Canada (I hope!). We’re not going to try to secure the border with Mexico against unauthorized crossing. Why are we paying 1.25 million people to prepare for a land war and/or to fight unwinnable land wars, such as in Afghanistan?

One argument in favor of the Army is that it can be deployed against domestic enemies, e.g., those who violate lockdown and mask orders (see Australia and Peru) or Trump supporters who might have wanted to come back to the Capitol after January 6. Another argument is that the National Guard part of the Army can help with disaster relief, e.g., picking up people with helicopters after floods. But these roles wouldn’t seem to require 1.25 million people.

Here’s another way to phrase the question: If we had no military forces of any kind today, what would we choose to fund and build? Would a million-soldier land army be part of that?


Full post, including comments