CSotD: The Die Having Been Cast

There have been several cartoons comparing Putin to either Hitler or Stalin, but I like Robert Ariail’s, because it is very simple and yet pinpoints Stalin’s legacy in Ukraine, where he engineered a ghastly, deadly famine in which millions died.

All former Soviets remember their losses to the Germans in World War II, but the earlier famine was an inside job, to the extent that Russians were in charge and would have had Ukrainian interests in mind, if the USSR truly were a group of nations and not a collection of Russian fiefdoms.

There aren’t many Americans old enough to remember how the Soviets undermined and overthrew Eastern European governments in the wake of WWII, replacing them with puppets, though my generation is at least old enough to have had a few classmates whose families had fled the Iron Curtain.

You shouldn’t have to be Ukrainian to recognize what’s going on.

Steve Sack accurately show’s Putin’s longterm planning, though I hope that he’s premature in declaring Ukraine dead and that Putin may find that governments can be overthrown more easily than people.

Still, even Hungary’s bold rebellion was quashed. Eastern Europe knows its own history, and the question is whether it will choose resistance or despair?

The world’s response to this first outrage could well tip the scales.


Juxtaposition of 1939

(Jesse Taylor Cargill)


(Herblock, twice)

However, you shouldn’t assume a huge cry arose over here when Hitler moved on Poland in ’39. The German-American Bunds piped down quickly, and nobody claimed to like what Hitler was doing, but there was a substantial and effective call for American neutrality, even as British troops landed on the French coast.

They weren’t entirely selfish, but they sure weren’t eager to jump in, either.


Anne Telnaes portrays the leaders of a more toxic Fifth Column we need to deal with now.

It makes me wonder if Trump’s clear preference for Putin makes Kim Jong-il regret sending him all those love letters.

As for Tuckyo Rose, Margaret Sullivan has given him the slap Rupert Murdoch should have applied months ago, in the course of which she cites William Saletan’s article comparing him to Father Coughlin, who promoted pro-Nazi propaganda in his role as the Exception to the Greatest Generation.

And Tuckyo has earned his nickname, because clips from his show are being broadcast by Russia to show the support they have in this war.

I doubt they’re pointing out, as Sullivan does in her article, that his lawyers defend him by insisting his lies are so clearly ludicrous that no sensible person could take him seriously.


I’m hearing people question the stability of Putin’s other American Boyfriend, saying that he’s not simply obsessed with the Big Lie but seems to be falling apart. Jeff Danziger (WPWG) compares him to Captain Queeg from the Caine Mutiny, erratically defending his paranoid fantasies.

Though remember that the final scene in that story is a defense of the not-so-gifted officers without whom the system can’t function. I don’t expect to hear much of that about Ol’ Heelspurs.

Again, though, my expectations may be more based on hope than history.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Nick Anderson)


(Chip Bok – Creators)

This juxtaposition seems to be mostly graphs, but the two cartoons make different points about economic pressures.

Anderson is correct that the war, and sanctions, will cause an increase in oil and gas prices, particularly since oil production had already been stagnating before supply became threatened. And he is likely correct that those rising prices will make a lot of people resentful of Western efforts, giving the Russians an advantage.

But Bok shows another graph, strongly suggesting that economic sanctions are going to hit Russia hard. The ruble is tumbling compared to the dollar, and, while exclusion from SWIFT has not yet happened, the Russian economy can’t take a whole lot of lockdown despite their gold reserves.

Putin has worked to insulate and isolate his economy, but you can’t play Economic Desert Island indefinitely.


Even Lisa Benson (WPWG), who usually finds a way to blame things on Biden, places the blame for rising gas prices on Russia, and I like the “O Cripes, now what?” expression on the motorist.

We were already upset over gas prices. There will be a lot of price increases and supply chain issues before this is all over, and it will be a real test of character to see how much is accepted as the cost of protecting freedom and how much is a reason we should let the rest of the world perish in flames.


Mike Smith (KFS) suggests that isolationists may find themselves more eager to participate in order to keep prices down.

I suppose all allies should be welcomed, but that’s a pretty thin bit of reasoning, since fear of price increases can also be a reason to let Putin do whatever he wants. No sanctions, no price jump.

And no Ukraine, but it’s been hard lately to find a majority here who even care about other Americans.


Which dismal thought brings a particularly strong reaction to Joe Heller‘s observation that Ash Wednesday is less than a week away and just in time.

We could all use a season of sacrifice and reflection right about now, and I remember when nearly all Catholics went to services on Ash Wednesday, then bore the black cross on their foreheads the rest of the day.

It was supposed to be a mark of humility, but it was also a badge of pride in identity, since you spotted fellow-Catholics seemingly everywhere.

Back in those days, you were expected to give up something you liked. There was none of that “promising to be nice” or anything: Real, daily, personal sacrifice was required, and adults also had days upon which they were expected to fast.

Observant Muslims still maintain a full month of fasting and reflection each year at Ramadan, but I think the average Catholic has long since given up the demanding requirements that once marked Lent.

It’s too bad. However you frame your religious beliefs, you should make a place in your life for sacrifice and reflection.

Perhaps before the shells begin to fall and you no longer have a choice.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: The Die Having Been Cast

  1. I hate to disagree with Steve Sack as he’s a friend and I’m a huge fan of his work. But I don’t see Putin attacking any NATO-member nations.

  2. I did see Saletan’s article yesterday comparing Tucker Carlson to Fr Coughlin and found it somewhat compelling. I imagine I know what Fr Coughlin’s motivation was but am less sure of Carlson’s.
    My reaction to his positions are always tempered by the thought that he is driven in part to maximize viewership more than he is adopting an ideological stance. In other words, he’ll change when he senses the audience is changing

  3. @Clay Jones: The pretext for invading Ukraine was the (contrived) breakaway regions of Russian speakers, people with Russian ties, etc. I don’t claim to be an expert on former soviet states, but Moldova has a much more… valid (isn’t the right word, but continuing as if it were) reason to be invaded if that logic is allowed. The Transnistria region in the east has been functionally occupied by Russia for years. I surmise the only reason Putin hasn’t invaded there yet is for lack of any expectation of economic gain, and direct access to any borders. If Putin succeeds in acquiring Ukraine for Russia, Moldova is surrounded on three sides by supposed Russian territory, has just as valid a pretext for invasion, but is much less wealthy and thereby has less means of defense, and less economic incentive for UN, etc. allies to step up in their defense. It’s hardly a forgone conclusion, but there’s absolutely nothing stopping Putin that wasn’t there to stop him re: Ukraine, and if his goal is reunification of the former USSR states as some are suggesting, then it would be some very easy pickin’s. Looking at a map of the countries named in Sack’s cartoon, it would also likely be the next stepping stone once Ukraine is sufficiently under Russian control (assuming things get to that point).

  4. @Jason Hopper

    The west can rue Putin’s invasion of Ukraine but everyone knows that the West was not going to provide troops for its defense despite it being the idealistic thing to do.

    The Baltic countries prevent a different situation as they are NATO states. The coming tension will be if Putin turns his eyes to these former Soviet states which are full memebers of NATO which the West is obligated to defend. If Putin decides to test the West’s resolve and begin military operations in the Baltic, the West will either have to back down and thus effectively destroy NATO or will have to engage Russian troops and trigger WWIII.

  5. As a Swedish colleague on another list reminded me, Sweden and Finland on the other hand are not members of NATO. Putin would of course have to be borderline-bonkers to consider finding pretexts to move on them (no quasi-breakaway regions to “invite” him in, as far I’m aware, for one thing), but I think the needle on Putin’s bonkers-meter is fluctuating rather wildly at the moment, so who knows?

  6. Putin can wait to see if Trump gets back in office. If so then NATO is a dead letter and Putin knows it.

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