Ukraine’s Casualty Count Is Big; it Will likely Get Much Bigger

Washington Post: The war in Ukraine is on track to be among modern history’s bloodiest

It is killing far more soldiers per day than the typical war — and all signs point to protracted conflict

By Paul Poast
 —June 23, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is entering its fifth month, and there is no end in sight. The grueling conflict has shifted to the eastern provinces, where Russian progress in the Luhansk region has been described as “plodding.”

Still, military experts predict that the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk may fall. At the same time, the Ukrainians — increasingly well-equipped, courtesy of the West — talk boldly of reclaiming the southern city of Kherson, which the Russians took early in the conflict.

American attention has drifted somewhat from the war to domestic concerns, which makes it easy to overlook that what’s unfolding in Ukraine is one of the deadlier conflicts of the past 200 years. That it is a “mere” proxy war, rather than a clash between two great powers, also tends to obscure its scale. But the rate at which soldiers are dying is already significantly higher than in the typical war of the modern era — and both sides are digging in, meaning it will steadily climb the list of conflicts that have caused the most overall fatalities.

Continue reading Ukraine’s Casualty Count Is Big; it Will likely Get Much Bigger

Living As Well As We Can In Spite of Them Is the First Revenge

NOTE: It’s clear to me that Garrison Keillor doesn’t like to be profound, at least not when he’s performing.

He starts off writing or doing a monologue, following the curves and turns of a narrative, striving for a seamless whimsy. Then something big & weighty abruptly rolls like a boulder onto his path — interruptions that happen too doggone often these days — which  he’d just as soon avoid, or slide around, or deal with obliquely, sidelong, seeking a way to draw at least a half smile out of it. Continue reading Living As Well As We Can In Spite of Them Is the First Revenge

Paul McCartney at 80: A Great Gig, Not A Hard Day’s Night – And Even A Cheer for Ukraine

Will Paul McCartney still be on stage at 90? I bet he will try: Beatles biographer HUNTER DAVIES on a tear-jerking performance from a living legend

It was a tease of course. He was pacing himself, knowing what was to come, the fireworks and special guests, saving his voice and body so it would last the whole two hours.

In your eighties, as I know only too well, you mustn’t rush things. You might dry up, get confused or fall over.

Paul never thought he would last this long. In the Sixties I remember him and John being unable to imagine performing in their thirties. The notion was grotesque.

So what would they be doing? John presumed he would be a bum, like his Dad. Paul envisaged becoming a teacher. When Paul wrote When I’m Sixty Four, the idea of anyone being 64 was mythical, the oldest he could think of anyone ever being. At the time he was only 16.

Paul never thought he would last this long. In the Sixties I remember him and John being unable to imagine performing in their thirties. The notion was grotesque

Paul never thought he would last this long. In the Sixties I remember him and John being unable to imagine performing in their thirties.
The notion was grotesque.

Now look at him. Especially when he eventually took his jacket off. ‘The only wardrobe change this evening.’

A good joke. Well, as jokes go, at live open air concerts. The songs, especially his own classics, were fab. OK, so he cannot quite reach all the high notes and gets a bit croaky on the low notes.

He was wise not to attempt Yesterday. That has to be a solo, with no effects, and would have given away his age.

Mr Kite was probably a mistake. His heart did not seem in it. It is a John song, which needed John’s voice.

But when he did a George song, Something, playing a ukulele which George gave him, that was funny and touching.

He was just beginning to wilt slightly when he was joined by two guests – Dave something from I think the Poo Fighters, whose name I never got – and then Bruce Springsteen. Wow, what a surprise. Bruce was clearly thrilled to be there, even for just a couple of songs.

They immediately had a rejuvenating effect. Paul always liked singing with John, trying to impress each other.

At the O2, a year or two ago, he had no help on stage with the singing, though a pipe band in kilts suddenly arrived to play Mull of Kintyre. I think that might have been wasted on a Glasto audience.

I did ask him at a family party afterwards how he had managed two hours without a break.

‘Drugs,’ he said. I took that as a joke. Anyone watching him live on Saturday must have seen how fit and healthy he is for 80. Lucky beggar.

I did notice him though having one swig of water. What a cheater.

Her Majesty, when she did a two-hour session giving out honours, never had a drink. Or so I observed six years ago. At the young age of 90.

Will Paul still be performing at 90? I bet he will try. It’s what he enjoys most. He began Wings because he wanted to go on stage again when the Beatles packed up.

At the end after brilliant, belting performances of Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Helter Skelter, Get Back, I had tears in my eyes. No really, what a softy.

Not just for days gone by, and memories and images of Paul as he was in the Sixties.

Or thoughts of my own life and memories and mortality. But tears of gratitude.

We are so lucky to have had the Beatles in our lifetime. And to have Paul still with us. Still pleasing us. Still pleasing himself…

Hunter Davies is the author of The Beatles, the only authorised biography


Eloquence Exemplified In Dissent: Courting the Post-Roe Future

Excerpts from the dissent by justices: Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. (Some emphasis has been added.)

After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. The majority accomplishes that result without so much as considering how women have relied on the right to choose or what it means to take that right away. The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.

. . . The majority accuses Casey of acting outside the bounds of the law to quell the conflict over abortion – of imposing an unprincipled “settlement” of the issue in an effort to end “national division”. Continue reading Eloquence Exemplified In Dissent: Courting the Post-Roe Future

The Other Name for June 24: Susan Collins . . .

“Susan Collins Was A Fool & A Sucker Day”

Washington Post, June 2, 2022:

“If this … is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” said the statement the senator released after the story broke. “Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.”. . .
She explained that the judge  — in their two-hour face-to-face session followed by a one-hour telephone conversation — had assured her of his belief “that precedent provides stability, predictability, reliance and fairness.” The Supreme Court would overturn a precedent only in “rare and extraordinary times” — including, and here she borrowed Kavanaugh’s language, when a decision is “grievously wrong.”

Admittedly, Kavanaugh said plenty in his public hearings about the limits of precedent, and plenty more in his past that set off alarms for pro-choice activists. For Collins, these bells never tolled. The nominee’s “views on honoring precedent,” she proclaimed, “would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.”

The year after Kavanaugh ascended to the high court, he dissented in a case setting aside a law that required abortion providers in Louisiana to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. This was ominous. The chief justice gave the liberals his vote — and a majority — because the law in question was almost identical to another struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Roberts had objected to that outcome, but precedent was precedent. Not so for Kavanaugh. How did Collins respond? “He said under oath many times, as well as to me personally many times, that he considers Roe to be ‘precedent upon precedent,’ because it had been reaffirmed in the Casey v. Planned Parenthood case.” She added, “To say that this case … tells you that he’s going to repeal Roe v. Wade, I think, is absurd.”

She believed him, because trusting in each other is how government always used to get things done. Susan Collins might soon have a different worry: After this, who’s going to trust her?

Which makes June 24:

“Susan Collins Was A Fool & A Sucker Day”


They Proved Me Wrong

The one newspaper headline I wrote that I don’t have a copy of (but wish I did) hit the streets of Boston in midsummer of 1972, just after the Democratic National Convention. It read:

“Why McGovern Can’t Lose.”

[For those not of a certain age, Senator George McGovern had just been nominated for president. He would go on to lose 49 states in the 1972 election, winning only Massachusetts (and the District of Columbia).]

If I still had it, that headline would be in a frame, placed in a spot where I would see it often. But just the memory is still a useful reminder, of something I repeated here on June 12:

I don’t know the future.

Specifically, I didn‘t know if Congress would pass the proposed gun reform package.

But I was doubtful; very doubtful. To quote:

I’m also a Quaker, and we aren’t supposed to gamble. But if I was going to break that rule, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any of that “outline/framework/unbaked loaf.”

For that matter, I wouldn’t even bet the ranch dressing.
Go ahead, Congress, prove me wrong.
“I’m keeping it.”

Today, June 24, Congress passed it. They proved me wrong.

It feels good to be wrong about that.

I still don’t think the package amounts to much. But luckily I didn’t bet, so I’m keeping the ranch dressing.

And I still wish I had a copy of that 1972 headline.

Democracy In Peril: Progressive Billionaires to the Rescue?? (Well, Maybe . . .)

“Money,” truthfully spake the legendary California pol Jesse Unruh, “is the mother’s milk of politics.”

And if money, rather than love, is All You Need (as spake, or crooned, the legendary Beatles), Democrats & their worried (“terrified” is more accurate) and beleaguered progressives ought to be breathing easier today, despite the fate of Roe.

The morning papers bring news that, busting through the encircling hordes of vote suppressors, election stealers and insurrectionists, the cavalry is coming. They’ve been sent by a pentagon of the biggest Dem billionaire campaign donors, and bear saddlebags stuffed with cash (and bitcoin?) to help the Dems fend off the MAGA assault:

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, one of the nation’s top political donors, gathered more than a dozen billionaires or their representatives over Zoom Friday to sound an alarm about the coming elections.

“MAGA leaders intend to use 2022 midterm wins to install Trump in 2024 regardless of the vote,” read a slide of the PowerPoint Hoffman presented to the group, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

He was pitching some of the nation’s wealthiest people on a doomsday idea that has become a growing obsession among the liberal donor community. Another slide, titled “How MAGA midterms can install Trump,” laid out a step-by-step hypothetical scenario: Republicans win statewide offices in key battleground states in 2022 and then change state laws in 2023 to give legislatures control over presidential electors. After the next presidential election, they declare votes from urban centers “tainted” and overrule the popular vote by sending their own slate of electors to Washington.

The goal [here] . . . was to raise tens of millions of dollars for groups that the PowerPoint described as being able to increase Democratic turnout, persuade swing voters to vote Democratic and “dissuade” Republican voters from going to the polls.

You get the idea. The plot to use 2022 as the stepping stone to a Trump or successor MAGA coronation will be familiar to most of us who can read, listen, or remember their nightmares. I for one am not a doubter.  The MAGA-orange drive is as real as Covid; and stopping it, if that can be done, will cost beaucoup bucks.

However. Continue reading Democracy In Peril: Progressive Billionaires to the Rescue?? (Well, Maybe . . .)

Think Pieces: Peaceniks Still Struggle With Ukraine War Support

NOTE: On a day off from the January 6 Committee hearings, it’s a suitable time to ponder the Ukraine war, and how it has scrambled long-held beliefs & positions for many people. Here are two perspectives: first, that of an internationally-noted public scholar, and the other from a writer who interviewed & wrote about many combat veterans who strongly opposed the U. S. War in Iraq, but now feel supportive of Ukraine’s resistance to Putin’s invasion.  Like the Ukraine war, these mostly inward struggles seem likely to  continue.

#1 – The Guardian: Ukraine
Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine
Slavoj Žižek — Tue 21 Jun 2022

The least we owe Ukraine is full support, and to do this we need a stronger Nato

For me, John Lennon’s mega-hit Imagine was always a song popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine that “the world will live as one” is the best way to end in hell.

Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of “imagine”. Imagine a world in which tensions are no longer resolved through armed conflicts … Europe persisted in this world of “imagine”, ignoring the brutal reality outside its borders. Now it’s the time to awaken.

The dream of a quick Ukrainian victory, the repetition of the initial dream of a quick Russian victory, is over. In what looks more and more as a protracted stalemate, Russia is slowly progressing, and its ultimate goal is clearly stated. There is no longer any need to read between the lines when Putin compares himself with Peter the Great: “On the face of it, he was at war with Sweden taking something away from it … He was not taking away anything, he was returning … He was returning and reinforcing, that is what he was doing … Clearly, it fell to our lot to return and reinforce as well.”

More than focus on particular issues (is Russia really just “returning”, and to what?) we should read carefully Putin’s general justification of his claim: “In order to claim some kind of leadership – I am not even talking about global leadership, I mean leadership in any area – any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.” Continue reading Think Pieces: Peaceniks Still Struggle With Ukraine War Support

Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand

Most folks who speak often in public tend to have a collection of anecdotes they repeat to illustrate familiar points. Dr. King, for instance, had a whole stack of sermon passages, which he shuffled like a deck of cards, to fill out various addresses. (Yes, “I have a dream” was one.)

Wendy Brown, academic doyenne, is another, still very much alive. She also has her go-to stories. Not being an academic, I only know one of hers: the tale of the near-broke little Carolina Quaker college which sold its soul to an Ayn Rand-obsessed mega-donor, for half a million dollars and a ten-year supply of her doorstop clunker screed, Atlas Shrugged.

Brown dropped this nugget into a lengthy Times interview early last month, which we duly noted here.

But that wasn’t enough for The Paper of Record. Continue reading Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand

Drag Queen – MAGA Smackdown In Arizona


AP News: Drag queen blasts GOP candidate for Arizona governor

PHOENIX (AP) — Kari Lake, the frontrunner in the Republican primary for Arizona governor, condemned the growing cultural clout of drag queens, jumping into the latest social grievance taking hold on the right.

But her comments were quickly criticized over the weekend by one of the most popular drag performers in Phoenix, who says Lake is a hypocrite who frequented his performances.

Barbra Seville

Richard Stevens, who performs as Barbra Seville, said Lake, a former television news anchor, regularly attended drag shows and even hired him to dress as Marilyn Monroe at a private party and brought her young daughter. He posted photos on his social media accounts of Lake posing with drag queens and screenshots of his conversations with her.

The dispute between the gubernatorial frontrunner and the prominent drag queen drew national attention and put Lake on the defensive two weeks before early voting begins ahead of Arizonas Aug. 2 primary. It also fuels a persistent criticism of Lakes conversion from Barack Obama donor to Donald Trump conservative.

“They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens,” Lake tweeted on Friday night. “They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.”
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Stevens responded on social media the next morning: “I’ve performed for her. I’ve performed for her family. I’ve met her kids. I’ve been in her home, and I have her private phone number and her private Facebook account.”

He told The Associated Press on Monday that he stayed in touch with Lake and privately defended her even as she ran a farright campaign that he disagreed with. But when she came after drag queens, he said, “this hypocrisy really bothered me.”

“I was just personally offended by that tweet, Stevens said.

Stevens said he first met Lake in the late 1990s, when he performed regularly at a gay bar near the KSAZ studios, where Lake was an evening anchor. He said Lake and her coworkers would sometimes stop by the bar’s weekly drag show after the broadcast, and he recognized her from watching the news. They eventually struck up a friendship, he said. She would ask him for sources to discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ community, and he occasionally appeared on Fox 10 broadcasts.

Lake once hired him to perform as Marilyn Monroe at a coworkers baby shower about a decade ago, and there he met her daughter, whom he remembers being around 9 or 10 years old.

As Stevens post quickly gained traction on social media Saturday, Lakes campaign initially responded by drawing a distinction between a drag performer and a man impersonating a female celebrity.

The campaign published a statement Sunday condemning the media for covering the controversy and threatening to sue Stevens for defamation.

“Like most sane people, Kari Lake is very much opposed to grown men or women dancing provocatively for children, especially at the expense of the taxpayer,” the statement said. “Why would anyone be opposed to this?”

The statement called Stevens a talented comedian and performer that Kari Lake covered during her TV career and pointed to his support for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

A spokesman for Lake, Russ Trumble, declined to comment further Monday, saying “it’s a legal matter now.”

Lake jumped quickly into the frontrunners position after launching a campaign that energized the GOP base and earned Trumps endorsement. She has aggressively promoted false claims that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. But she faces a challenge from businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, whos family fortune has allowed her to vastly outspend Lake on television ads, and from former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon.

Drag shows feature men dressing in flamboyant womens clothing while dancing and singing or lipsyncing. Once a relatively obscure subculture, theyve have exploded into the mainstream with the popularity of the television hit “RuPauls Drag Race. Some performances, particularly lightnight events at bars, can be risque. Others are promoted as family friendly affairs, such as drag queen story hour.

Lakes drag queen tweet latched onto an issue that caught fire this month with conservatives around the country who say drag shows are sexualizing children.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation attempting to ban children from drag shows, and GOP leaders of the Arizona Senate say they have plans for a similar bill.

“The fact is, drag has existed forever,” Stevens said. “I’ve been doing drag longer than Kari has been a Republican. But if you want to outlaw drag in front of kids, you better free up your calendar because it’s ingrained in our culture. The first drag queen I saw was Bugs Bunny.”