CSotD: Watch Your Steppe

Maarten Wolterink (Cartoon Movement) offers this commentary on the pending confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, and his work falls over two sides of the fence:

On the one hand, it is a caution against military adventurism and getting unnecessarily involved in unwinnable conflicts.


After all, as Proverbs 26:17 cautions, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.”

However, on the other hand, these three conflicts are not that similar, beyond offering the option of standing by and letting them play out. And that will be much of our topic today, because the key is blundering into those conflicts without knowing what we were getting into — “We” in this case being the people, not the leadership.

The Pentagon Papers revealed the degree to which our government lied about Vietnam, but much of what’s in them had been discussed at teach-ins during the war, the problem being that even people who went to protests yawned through the teach-ins and waited for the singing and chanting to begin.

And most people weren’t there at all.

Vietnam was a civil war, the two sides having temporarily separated after the French withdrawal, with Ho Chi Minh’s loyalists heading north, the Westernizers heading south and the bulk of people hunkered down trying to live their lives amid chaos.

Afghanistan was less evenly divided, and bin Laden’s parting gift to his Taliban hosts on 9/10 was the assassination of the leader of the opposition Northern Alliance. But any glance at Afghan history would show that a civil war there would be far more futile than the situation in Vietnam ever was.

Helicopters — though not Chinooks — were used in Saigon, and cargo planes, not choppers, in Kabul, but artistic license is permitted.

Historic license, however, should prompt more pushback, and the Vietnamese had two years to di di mau after the American withdrawal, compared to the overnight collapse of the Kabul government.


The situation in Ukraine is completely different, assuming you accept that the Soviet Union collapsed and its various republics are genuinely independent of Moscow, which, as John Deering (AMS)’s cartoon suggests, is at the heart of the current conflict.

Ukraine has been a political football through much of its history, which is why it has been known as “The Ukraine,” suggesting that it is a region, not a nation. Today, calling it “The Ukraine” is a political statement favoring Russia’s side of the argument.

As Deering suggests, Putin wants to restore its status as a province, and Russia has been interfering in Ukrainian politics and undermining its government nearly since the end of perestroika and the days of Mikhael Gorbachev.


Jennifer Cohn’s brilliant history of the strife is being widely shared on Twitter, and, BTW, contains several cartoons as well as these before-and-after photos of the pro-Western presidential candidate disfigured and nearly killed by a poisoning that would be far more mysterious if so many of Putin’s opponents around the globe hadn’t suffered from similar minor incursions.

It is unfair, I suppose, to ask opponents of sanctions and other diplomatic efforts in this conflict to specify their alternatives, but it’s certainly not out of bounds to demand that they find out WTF they’re talking about before they share their opinions. Cohn’s article is must reading.

And if you can’t pick out the heroes in this tangled mess of conflicting political parties, you should realize that it’s not the Russians. Or Paul Manafort.

There are, and will be, many heroes there whose names we’ll never know, but if you need a name, I’ll nominate Natalya Dmytruk, the sign language interpreter who, as the official 2004 election results were announced on national television, signed instead

I am addressing everybody who is deaf in Ukraine. Our president is Viktor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies…. And I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you. Maybe you will see me again.


That’s the sort of Ukrainian Vladimir Putin fears most, and, as Kevin Siers points out, you can tell the heroes from the villains if you make an effort to look and listen.

Today’s Wordle took me about 10 minutes. I think you can read Cohn’s essay in slightly less.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Joe Heller)

(Randy Bish)

My Social Security payment will arrive tomorrow, but, alas, it covers December. I won’t see my 2022 Cost of Living raise until February 23.

But I have a cunning plan for getting by until then. It involves spending less money.

I’ll grant you, I’m not feeding four kids or driving 45 minutes to work each day, but we all need to chill a bit and ride the waves.

After all, we’ve survived worse. Or, at least, I have, and, if you’re of voting age, you have, too.


However, it’s possible that the central problem is not that a seven-percent inflation rate raises the price of bread and milk but that we live in a system which, as David Fitzsimmons points out, isn’t geared towards, or interested in, making the lives of working people manageable.

Hard times would be easier to abide if the pay gap between the owners and the workers were not widening at such a jaw-dropping rate.

And if these exalted tyros at the top had any sense of what it costs the commoners to live.


Don Landgren references Jimmy McMillen specifically in response to a project in Worcester, Mass., but it’s a universal. Here, there is desperate need for affordable housing, and a developer — ” who lives abroad much of the year” according to the paper — recently proposed a 150 unit project that would include both studio and one-bedroom apartments.

The newspaper didn’t report studio rents, but the builder told the planning board that rent on the 929 sq ft one-bedrooms would be about $3.50 per square foot.

So let’s do the math: $3,251.50 per month. If you budget the standard 30% of income for housing, you’ll need an annual salary in the neighborhood of $130,000 to make it work.

Median income in New Hampshire is $35,807.

Not sure this project addresses our affordable housing issue.


Why are these proles laughing?

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Watch Your Steppe

  1. “And if these exalted tyros at the top had any sense of what it costs the commoners to live.”

    What would that change?

  2. SSDI is also paid early, on or before the 3rd of the month. Since we have a disabled adult son I can confirm the COLA is included in SS payments this month.

  3. Right — it’s the change in cost of benefits that won’t show up until the February check. I managed to drop $50 in monthly premiums for prescriptions, so, while I’ll get another $72 tomorrow, I’ll get a total boost of $122 next month.

    What can I do? It pays a debt. $122 may save my dear Cosette.

  4. The statement I got in December about my rise in behefits confirmed my payment would remain the same. The check went in last Friday and – sure enough – no change.

  5. I switched my Part D from coverage costing $58 a month to one that costs $7, drops my deductible to zero and lowers my prices on all my prescriptions. It seemed like a good idea.

  6. “I switched my Part D from coverage costing $58 a month to one that costs $7, drops my deductible to zero and lowers my prices on all my prescriptions. It seemed like a good idea.”

    I would think so! I did not see anything like that in my choices.

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