Russian Copium, I
The Big Picture
[I began this with a specific idea and got off the point and rambled. I’ll deal with the subject “Copium” tomorrow. For now:]
At this point, I am reduced to quoting Bismarck.
On America: “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America."
On Russians: “Never fight with Russians. To your every stratagem they answer with unpredictable stupidity.”
If you have to quote someone in a time of war, Bismarck isn’t the worst, but quotations are always cherrypicked bits of cuteness culled from a larger context and confession: I really do not know from which sources the above quotations are culled.
But they describe pretty well where I am now. I am praying for the first. I hope the second isn’t true. And I’d really love to know the context because I don’t think the quote really means what it appears to men. I think the Russians are pretty clever. But that’s me.
For the first time in my life, I fear the worst.
I’ve always been an optimist. I’ve always believed that humanity will pull through, and that I was lucky to have been born in the United States of America, no matter how much I disagreed with its policies or decried (parts of) its history. I still feel that way, but my faith has been sorely tested in the last few years.
I’m putting together a list of Ukraine-Russia links, but first, a word about the decline of my own neck of the woods. I took a walk to a pleasant shopping area on Columbus Avenue between 97th-98th Streets yesterday. About a year ago, one of the anchors of the center closed down, a Covid casualty:
I had an uneasy feeling that this was the start of something bad.
Yesterday I saw that the Chase Bank on 97th and Columbus is closing. Uh-oh. Yeah, I know that banks closed a record number of branches in 2021, maybe they were over-extended, got it, but I think banks know stuff and you and I don’t, and I don’t feel good about this little shopping area, and I don’t feel good about the future of New York City.2
Which brings me to the latest atrocity. I feel that I must say something about it. I can’t have a diary called “Life In An Age Of Collapse” and not say something about it but…
I have nothing to say about it, other than to note, mournfully, that it happened, and grieve, however distantly, for the young lives so brutally and prematurely cut down. That’s it, nothing more. Except this: nothing will happen. The politicians will scurry around and say bullshit, AOC will screech, Ted Cruz will bloviate, and nothing will change.
Is it too low-class, crass, and prole to say that a country that has so many of these incidents is hardly in a position to impose order in the rest of the world?
I used to make fun of people like the one I have become. I thought they were small-minded, petty, self-absorbed and couldn’t see the Big Picture.
As you age, some things really do become brutally clear. You no longer have, choose your cliché, a dog in the hunt, skin in the game, you gain perspective, and yes Virginia, the United States runs around the world trying to solve other people’s problems because Americans can’t stand facing their own.
I realize that this goes against the Caitlin Johnstone “America is an unthinking pitiless Military Industrial Complex.” Ms. Johnstone’s view is accurate but not essentially true.
The motivating passion behind the MIL isn’t profit—the US could make as much, if not more, by peaceful trade. Its soft power is unparalleled. Our problem: a Puritanical, missionizing zeal that has roots deep in Yankee American culture. They (we?) subdued a variety of peoples (Native Americans, Confederates, Mexicans, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Western Europeans… and now we’re onto the rest of the world.)
Which brings me to Ukraine, but I’ve used up my word quota for the day. Tomorrow.
Bismarck again: “The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.”
I can only add to that: “And stick to it.” Of course, the collapse of the INF treaty3 is all Russia’s fault. Right. I’m sure that’s true. Mike Pompeo said so, and if you can’t trust him, whom can you trust?
This is another example of my loathing of the privileged, spoiled American pseudo-left: their hatred of so-called “big box stores.” Big box stores can co-exist quite nicely with smaller businesses, they employ minorities at much higher rates than small, family-run businesses, you can duck into them and use the restrooms, and anyway, I like them. I used to spend a lot of time at that Michael’s and I’m still heartbroken that they closed.
Don’t get me started about Eric Adams. I didn’t vote for him, I barely pay attention to him. He is clearly not up to the challenge of pulling this ship out of the trough that Covid and de Blasio sunk it in.
Did you ever think you would become all warm and nostalgic over Reagan and Gorbachev? Those were the good old days!