Putin holds the hammer (and sickle?)

Apparently, the very serious measures President Obama has announced haven’t fazed Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. From The Wall Street Journal:

Russia Moves Closer to Absorbing Crimea, Despite Sanctions
Putin Orders Approval of Draft Agreement on Annexation of Crimea

By Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon in Washington, and Gregory L. White in Moscow | Updated March 18, 2014 7:24 a.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off an initial round of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and defied warnings of stiffer punishment to come by taking another step toward annexing Crimea.

The Obama administration Monday enacted what it called the most comprehensive sanctions to hit Russia since the end of the Cold War. It targeted 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, including some of Mr. Putin’s top advisers and the ousted former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, a close Kremlin ally.

The European Union followed by blacklisting 21 individuals. Unlike the U.S. it steered clear of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, wary of ratcheting up the East-West confrontation. Business ties run deeper between Russia and Europe, although the landscape gets murkier as tensions climb.

The officials blacklisted by Washington and Brussels laughed off the initial wave of sanctions, with many saying they have no overseas assets that could be targeted. Russian financial markets, which have been hit hard during the crisis, also jumped in what traders said reflected relief that the penalties weren’t more sweeping.

More at the link.

The sanctions are an annoyance, no doubt about that, but just an annoyance. They don’t have the power to undo Russia’s actions, or the bite to unseat President Putin, and everybody knows it. Thus far, Russia’s actions have been (mostly) limited to the Crimea, but if President Putin decides that his troops have to move into eastern Ukraine, ostensibly to protect the rights of the ethnic Russians and Russophones living there, he already knows that the West cannot and will not stop him.

In 1990, President Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi forces to invade neighboring Kuwait, which quickly fell and was annexed by Iraq. At the time, the United States had a real President, and the elder George Bush told President Hussein that he had to leave Kuwait, period, or he would be forced out. President Hussein didn’t believe him, and President Bush took action; after several months of fruitless negotiations, and an American-led Coalition military buildup, Mr Bush ordered the assault which drove Iraqi forces back out of Kuwait.1

But President Bush did what was possible; it is not (realistically) possible to tell President Putin that if he doesn’t evacuate the Crimea, or if he assails eastern Ukraine, that we will use military force to expel him. We will not go to war over eastern Ukraine — or all of Ukraine, for that matter — and everybody knows it. All that remains are non-military measures, and the huge entanglement of our European allies with Russia, primarily Russia’s supplies of natural gas and petroleum, means that democratic Europe can’t tolerate much in the way of economic or financial sanctions. With the coming of Spring, Europe will need less natural gas from Russia, but is in no position to get no gas from Russia. Everybody knows that, too. Ideas that we could replace the supplies that Europe receives from Russia depend entirely on the Obama Administration being willing to allow greater oil and gas production and transportation, but the President and his Administration seem more concerned about climate change warnings than foreign policy, so we might as well take that idea off the table.2

And here is where President Obama’s past foreign policy weaknesses have hurt his credibility: the famous red line that he drew, and that Syrian President Bashar al Assad stepped right across, showed the world just how seriously anyone needs to take the threats of President Obama. In what now seems like an obvious ploy, President Putin even helped the United States, by brokering a deal in which Syria would give up its chemical weapons,3 but it exposed Mr Obama’s weakness vis a vis Mr Putin. A former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin isn’t the kind to miss things like that. He took the measure of Barack Hussein Obama in Syria, and saw exactly what kind of an opponent he faced.

President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with the expression “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Reasonable people already knew that we could not and would not use that big stick against Russia, with her huge armies and nuclear weapons, but President Putin quickly determined that President Obama was very reluctant to carry that big stick even against Syria4 and Iran, and Mr Obama’s obvious distaste for the Israelis being willing to defend themselves vigorously only reinforced that view.

Bashar al Assad and Ali Hosseini Khamenei both showed that countries which could not resist the United States militarily if it came down to that could still flout Barack Obama’s demands, and that he would back down; a lot of not very nice men saw those examples and learned from them, and Vladimir Putin, who rules a country that the United States could not defeat militarily, certainly learned that lesson . . . because he helped to craft it!

Flags flown by demonstrators in the Crimea; note the old one in the center.

And so it has come to this: President Putin will do exactly what he wants to do, because he knows that he can do it. President Obama can bluster and fuss, which he will, but the former KGB officer knows that there’s just no threat like an empty one.

President Obama should be glad that there are no real reporters in the Kremlin, who could capture Mr Putin, on tape, laughing at him, because we all know that that’s exactly what he is doing.

  1. Regrettably, when we had Saddam Hussein on the ropes, the elder President Bush yielded to poor advice that President Hussein would be deposed by the Iraqi people, and stopped Coalition military action 100 hours into the ground assault. President Hussein survived, and this left it to the younger President Bush to finish the job.
  2. Even if the President reversed his policies, to allow such changes, the infrastructure to export large amounts of natural gas to Europe does not exist; port facilities would have to be modified and more liquified natural gas ships built.
  3. Which has begun, but which is also behind schedule.
  4. Sending out your Secretary of State to say that Bashar al Assad must go, twice, six months apart, and then forging agreements with him that do not require him to go does not exactly inspire confidence that your threats should be taken seriously.

Another solar energy company is failing

Normally, when quoting from newspaper articles, I try — not always successfully — to limit myself to the first four paragraphs. Donald Douglas, on the other hand, frequently quotes more, and considering that the original source is The New York Times, which limits non-subscribers to ten free article views a month, I think that I’ll refer you to Professor Douglas’ article, where you can read more without going over your NYT limit:

Fears Over China’s Currency
Interesting piece on the move toward a larger official trading band for the Chinese yuan, at the New York Times, “In China, Shaking Up Currency’s Strength.

Beijing heavily controls the value of the yuan (when it appreciates against the dollar, Chinese goods become more expensive, potentially hurting the country’s export-led economy). But what fascinated me about this piece was the effects on global traders from the default of a major bond investor to the tune of $163 million:

Over the years, China’s investors and trade partners have come to rely on what amounts to a “Beijing put,” an option that provides assurance that a minimum level of growth will be attained. When the country looked set to fall short, the government would intervene to prime the pumps — freeing up credit, introducing subsidies and otherwise ensuring that China avoided any real economic pain and remained on track as the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Yet in the face of apparently slowing growth, this implicit guarantee is showing signs of fraying. Markets around the world are growing worried, from Australian iron ore miners to the luxury fashion houses of Europe to American scrap exporters.

Take copper, where global prices have fallen sharply in recent weeks. This is partly the result of concerns that growth is slowing in China, which accounts for more than 40 percent of global consumption of the metal. But the falling prices represent another, bigger fear — one that focuses on the role copper plays in China’s huge shadow finance sector and the realization that Beijing will not always be there with a bailout.

Further down in the article, if you choose to read it — and you should — you’ll notice that the problem was caused by a default on ¥1 billion ($163 million) of bond interest payments due by Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology Company.

Dr Douglas’ article, as well as the Times original — and there is more there, if you want to read it — goes more deeply into the financial situation, and I’m happy to let them address that part of the issue. What intrigued me was that the default was by a small producer of solar panels. The Chinese aren’t concerned or controlled by our House of Representatives and the evil Republicans who dominate it; how is it that everyone in the world other than we wicked American conservatives are so concerned about global warming, and doing something about it, yet the manufacturers of solar panels are having such problems?1

Somehow, no matter how much good, noble, well-intended people like former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore tell us that we have to worry about climate change, no matter how much august statesmen like Secretary of State John F Kerry tell us that climate change is as big a global threat as terrorism, poverty and weapons of mass destruction, in the actual real economy, it seems as though the favored businesses to provide alternative, renewable energy sources just aren’t doing very well. It’s almost as though it isn’t just radical right-wing global warming deniers who don’t take the Chicken Littles of climate change very seriously.

We told you so!

Breitbart notes the troubles in the Windy City:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Warns of Doubled Property Taxes to Fund Spiraling Pension Costs
by Warner Todd Huston 12 Mar 2014 1236

Illinois has one of the worst pension messes in the nation as the cost of government employee benefits is sending state, county, and local governments into bankruptcy crises all across the state. No place has more trouble than Chicago, prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to warn that property taxes will have to double to serve that spiraling debt.

In 2015 Chicago faces a looming financial disaster with a municipal pension system that is in worse shape than that of any other major U.S. city. Chicago is under the gun for a whopping $1.07 billion balloon payment on its $19.4 billion pension debt for city employees. Chicago’s mayor is struggling to figure out how to pay the balloon payment, which is equal to one third of the city’s entire budget. According to The Wall Street Journal, the balloon payment alone could pay for the salaries of the Chicago Police Department’s entire 4,300 officer force or for the re-paving of all 16,000 blocks of roads in the city.

More of the ugly details at the original. But I have to quote the last paragraph for you:

Meanwhile, the State of Illinois already comes in at second place in the number of citizens moving out of state. Outward migration for The Land of Lincoln ranked second only to New Jersey in 2013.

I wonder: has anybody ever mentioned this kind of problem before?

Naturally, there was this news, thatMoody’s downgraded Chicago’s credit rating, from A3 to Baa1, with anegative outlook putting it only three notches above junk-bond status. The Windy City now has the worst credit rating of any major city other than Detroit . . . and Detroit is in bankruptcy!

Of course, Mayor Emanuel knows the dirty little secret: property can be bought and sold, but it can’t move. People who want to flee yet another tax increase will have to sell their property to someone else, because they can’t take it with them. The tax increase will have eventual effects on property prices, as people will lower their offers for property because the increased taxes make it more expensive. Most people with jobs in Chicago won’t be able to leave their careers. And the poor, who are mostly renters, will be bamboozled into thinking that this isn’t a tax increase on them, but just their evil landlords, while the landlords will do what they have to do, and pass on the tax increases in what they charge for rent!

The Democrats have a one-track mind: raising taxes is their only solution! But raising taxes really doesn’t work all that well, as the higher tax areas are finding out . . . though the Democrats will never admit it. They get higher tax revenues now, but their future growth is inhibited, and they wind up with a poorer populace.

Gone to the BIRDS

Every year about this time the Canadian Geese, Snow Geese and Tundra Swans are on their great migration NORTH to Canada. There is a Wildlife Preserve called Middle Creek which is in northern Lancaster Co., PA. As many as 80,000 to 100,000 birds could be resting here and waiting favorable winds. They are a week late this year due to the cold. The lake at the wildlife area is about 80% iced over. The othe two times I went there it was ice free. For comparison, the last two or three years crocus and mini-Lilacs were in bloom now. Today they are barely sticking shoots up.

First two pictures are from 2008 with a large migration:


Continue reading ‘Gone to the BIRDS’ »

Крым голосов присоединиться к России

Via Donald Douglas:

Exit polls show Crimeans vote to join Russia

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Exit polling showed Crimeans voted overwhelmingly Sunday in favor of a referendum to join Russia, indicating 93% voted in favor of the move.

Ethnic Russians braved the rainy weather and were out in force, backing a breakaway from Ukraine, while many foes of the plan refused to participate in an election clouded by the presence of Russian guns.

Russian state television had warned that pro-Russian defense forces, which had flooded the Crimean peninsula since the beginning of the month, were on high alert to prevent “provocations” from pro-Ukrainian forces. However, not a single armed guard was seen in the vicinity of Polling Station No. 08086, at a gymnasium on Simferopol’s Kiev Street.

“Of course I voted for joining Russia, I was born in Russia,” said Raisa Dragunova, a pensioner in her 70s who voted there, tearing up as she spoke. “The referendum wasn’t a surprise at all. I was so happy.”

More at the link, though be forewarned: there’s an annoying autoplay video when you open the site.

Another one bites the dust?

Insiders: Jay Carney preparing to leave White House

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

Insiders very close to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicate that he’s on his way out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Mirror has learned. Carney has told people he’s leaving the White House soon.

In 2008, Carney became Director of Communications for Vice President Joe Biden. In 2011, he became the nation’s 29th press secretary, President Obama’s second, replacing Robert Gibbs.

Before that, Carney was a journalist for The Miami Herald and later TIME and CNN. In the last 48 hours, Carney has been getting press attention from outlets like The Weekly Standard and the New York Daily News for plugging his wife, ABC’s Claire Shipman‘s, book —”Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success” — during a press briefing. She has a new book on women and confidence co-written with BBC’s Katty Kay rolling out in mid-April.

More at the link. According to the article, Mr Carney could be picked up by CNN or MSNBC for a much higher salary. MSNBC would seem more appropriate, given that they have demonstrated a great tolerance for hiring known liars.

Rule 5 Blogging: Blondes!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Malin Åkerman in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

This week, as I was searching through my photo source, the question arose: are all Swedish soldiers blondes? :)

Swedish soldiers participate in joint Russian-Swedish military training exercises, 12 December 2007, outside St. Petersburg in the town Kamenka. The chairman of Europe’s security watchdog, the OSCE, on Wednesday urged Russia to reconsider its decision to withdraw from a key Cold War treaty that sets limits on troops and weapons across Europe. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER DROZDOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER DROZDOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Blondes!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

In the first spot is L D Jackson’s Political Realities, in which Sir Publius explains why he is a conservative.

Hube shows us the cheesiest superhero costumes on television, ever!

John Hitchcock on Truth Before Dishonor tells us that Harry Reid’s Koch-addled asininity was debunked there — 21 months ago.

On Protein Wisdom, Darleen Click notes that racism apparently works in only one direction. We never thought differently, Darleen, we never thought differently.

On Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion, Mandy Nagy writes about mounting tensions ahead of a planned referendum Sunday to determine whether or not Crimea will break from Ukraine and join Russia. Of course, Secretary of State John François Kerry has said that the United States will not recognize the outcome of that referendum and that there will be serious consequences for Russia if the referendum is held and Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin goes ahead with some sort of back-door annexation of the Crimea. President Putin is, I am certain, just shaking in is boots over that!

William Teach tells us about the 9-year-old girl who schooled the gun grabbers about the idiocy of their ideas. Of course, it doesn’t matter, because the gun grabbers’ minds are closed.

Click to enlarge

Donald Douglas posted Racist Americans Suddenly Become Sexist in 2016, with a photo from Facebook. But I have to wonder: how is it that people who want to imply that opposition to Hillary Clinton’s presumed 2016 presidential candidacy must be sexist decided that the best way to illustrate it was to use a glamour photo of Mrs Clinton from many years ago, trying to hide the fact that she is 66 years old already, and looks every day of her age?

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, writes about Jason Greenslate, an able-bodied man male who lives by mooching off friends, food stamps and free health care coverage, who said that he wouldn’t take an $80,000 a year job driving a truck in North Dakota because it would interfere with his lifestyle. Surf’s up, dude! Would it be wrong of me to hope that he gets eaten by a shark?

Patterico covered President Obama’s admission that if you like your doctor, you might still not be able to keep him under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And a much prettier Dana is now a guest poster on Patterico’s Pontifications.

On the Victory Girls, Ruthie Thompson notes even more politically correct idiocy, a report which says that there is no reason to exclude transsexuals from the armed services, and wonders if the Commander-in-Chief will issue the order to allow such obviously nuts people to enlist. We need look no further than Bradley Manning to know how stupid that idea is.

Finally, Robert Stacey Stacy McCain writes about the idiocy of the feminist leadership.

Here we go again for the11th, 12th, 13th or whatever #&@^%@# Snowstorm AGAIN

We have some very good friends in Finland. The land of one hour of daylight on “first day” of Winter, and one hour of twi-light on the “first day” of summer. Daylight Savings Time is called “Summer Time”, although theyaverage about 20 hours of daylight from mid May to mid July. During the Winter, it can get cold like a lot of days that highs are -30C (-28F) and get a lot of -40C or -40F (the same). And a lot of snowy days. They get a lot of snow storms, but not very deep snow storms. They are amazed when we get 30inches or 75cm of snow. But this year we’re pushing 5 feet of snow here, or 150cm of snow. I told our friends we got their winter and they got our winter. But, this sunday night into Monday, this is coming. (It never stops. We’re down to less than 5% snow cover or less. But nature this year hates that. :-) )

Now this:
Here we go again