Nearly three months into the war Ukraine, events upended quite a few assumptions by quite a few people. I count myself in that crowd.
I didn’t expect Vladimir Putin to order the invasion.
When he did, I expected it to go the way of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War – a quick rout of Ukrainian forces, a stern “don’t ever do that again” warning from Putin (as with Ukraine, the Georgia dust-up had to do with attempts to re-conquer seceded, pro-Russian areas), and a quick return to International Relations Business as Usual.
“Today’s inflation report,” US president Joe Biden told us on March 10, “is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike.”
It’s the latest in a long line of dodges on the causes of US inflation, which took a dive in early 2020, then began its steady climb toward the current official rate of 7.9%.
The first explanation was that inflation increases were “transitory.” That explanation made sense. Or would have, anyway, if Congress and the Biden administration had brought government borrowing and spending levels back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Instead, they decided to go bigger. When the causes aren’t “transitory,” the effects won’t be either.
In the fog of war, it’s difficult to tell which claims are true and which aren’t. What are Vladimir Putin’s forces up to in Ukraine? Apart from some high points (real or media-manufactured), it’s often hard to tell.
Even when we think that the US government’s claims are true, they’re difficult to credit as uniquely damning, because they almost always refer to behaviors the US government has no problem with when it’s the one engaging in them.
“[W]e have credible information,” Bathsheba Nell Crocker, US Representative to the Office of the United Nations, wrote in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in February, “that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”
“The will of the people has been heard,” said President Joe Biden in his inaugural address on January 20, “and the will of the people has been heeded.” Later in the speech, Biden told us that “the American story” depends on “‘We the People’ who seek a more perfect union.”
At some point on that same day, Biden’s incoming administration shut down “We The People,” a section of the White House web site launched by the Obama administration.
“We The People” brought the First Amendment’s right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” into the digital age, with the promise of official responses to petitions receiving 100,000 or more signatures within 30 days.
So, why is it gone? As of this writing, I’ve been unable to find any public comment from the administration. They seem to have simply memory-holed “We The People.”
Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River church in Tampa, Florida, strongly believes that God wants his church to continue holding live services for hundreds of parishioners even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister and state attorney Andrew Warren strongly believe that they’re entitled to threaten Howard-Browne with arrest for holding those services, then follow through on that threat.
Howard-Browne is obviously willing to go to jail for his belief. Are Chronister and Warren willing to go to prison for theirs?
Whether Howard-Browne is correct in his assessment of God’s commands isn’t something I’ll pretend to know. But Chronister and Warren are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, incorrect in their claims of authority.
The US Navy confirms that three online videos showing two military air encounters with what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” and the rest of us call “unidentified flying objects” are authentic, Popular Mechanics reports.
The videos are interesting, and some might find them disturbing. What’s more disturbing to me is that the Navy thinks they’re none of our business 15, or even four, years later (the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2015).
Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells The Black Vault website, “[t]he videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld.”
The videos aren’t classified. They just haven’t been “cleared for public release.”