Money, honey.

Last summer — at least, I think it was last summer; time has become a flat circle — I wrote a piece for Deadline about how the then-flagging vaccination effort was being helped along by business. (Of all entities.) You might not be able to convince your uncle to get vaccinated, but maybe paying extra for health insurance might change his mind. Delta Airlines was charging employees who refused the vaccine an extra $200 a month for their health insurance. I wrote:

In one way, it’s amusing. Many of the conservatives who have spent the last 40 years preaching the gospel of American capitalism are now reduced to staring at their shoelaces as these undeniably capitalistic organizations lead the country in a direction they don’t like. And when governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott push for laws that tell the private sector what it can or can’t do with work rules for its own employees, you can snicker at the rank hypocrisy.

But at the same time, it’s unsettling. The fact-based policy-making process in the public sphere – i.e. self-government – is so messed up that we are relying on American corporations, not known for their expansive concern for the common good, to do it for us.

The point of the column was this: Never trust businesses to do the right thing because it’s the right thing. They only operate in their financial self-interest.

Even so, I was amazed to read this Axios story about the world’s companies pulling out of, or otherwise abandoning, Russia:

Since the invasion began:

Boeing suspended major operations in Moscow, as well as maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines.

Airbus is halting supply of parts and services to Russian airlines.

Shell will sever ties with Russian gas giant Gazprom and end its roughly $1 billion financing of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

BP is exiting its nearly 20% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft, and faces a potential financial hit of as much as $25 billion.

Exxon Mobil says it will exit Russia oil and gas operations valued at more than $4 billion and cease new investment.

GM, which sells only about 3,000 cars a year in Russia, says it will suspend exporting vehicles.
Ford suspended operations.

BMW stopped shipments and will stop production in Russia.

Daimler Truck Holdings said it would no longer send supply components to its Russian joint-venture partner.
Volvo Cars, owned by Chinese conglomerate Zhejiang Geely, halted sales and shipments.

Renault ceased operations and production at two assembly plants because it can’t get parts.

VW paused delivery of Audis already in Russia so it can adjust car prices to reflect the decline in value of the ruble.

Harley-Davidson suspended shipments to Russia.

Adidas suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union.

Nike ceased online sales because it can’t guarantee delivery.

FedEx and UPS suspended shipments.

Yoox Net-A-Porter Group and Farfetch, luxury e-commerce platforms, are suspending deliveries in Russia.
Apple has paused product sales and limited services (including Apple Pay), on top of ceasing exports to Russia and restricting features in Apple Maps in Ukraine to safeguard civilian safety.

Dell stopped selling products.

Ericsson is suspending deliveries to Russia.

Walt Disney is pausing film debuts in Russia. Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Universal say they won’t release films in the country.

Ikea is closing its Russian stores and pausing all exports and imports in the country and ally Belarus.

Suspending my three-paragraph rule to include the whole list; sorry, Axios, but man, look at that. The world’s capitalists are turning Russia into North Korea. Or will, if this drags on too much longer.

If you delve into it, these companies aren’t risking much. Three thousand cars a year? GM probably sells that many in the five Grosse Pointes, pop. 45,000-ish. Still, even small things like this add up.

I don’t want to live in a business-ocracy. But as long as government is self-strangling, we need some entity to do the right thing.

The risk, of course, is that Vladimir Putin will respond in some insane, out-of-proportion manner that will blow Europe to kingdom come. If you want someone to retreat and surrender, you can generally get a better result by giving them a way to save face. Cornered, frightened dogs will bite.

OK, then. It’s the end of the week, I have a podcast to prepare for. It has a video element, so maybe I’ll wear this:

I found that yesterday when I was cleaning out an armoire I would dearly love to get rid of. It’s a reject from Alan’s Theater Bizarre costume, and apparently has been sitting in a box in that armoire for a decade.

“Has kind of a fetish-y look to it, eh?” I remarked when I showed him. Where would people get their freak on if not for Etsy? Anyway, a new Batman movie opens this weekend, so this is my tribute.

Good weekend all.

Posted at 10:23 am in Current events |

98 responses to “Money, honey.”

  1. Icarus said on March 4, 2022 at 11:15 am

    A few years ago I posted a question here, What do we make of this story:

    Looks like there is finally an answer

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  2. Jeff Gill said on March 4, 2022 at 11:22 am

    “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

    ~ Sun Tzu

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  3. ROGirl said on March 4, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Despite the low sales volumes, they would probably start hearing calls for boycotts if they maintained business as usual in Russia.

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  4. Deborah said on March 4, 2022 at 11:43 am

    Geez, the woman who faked her kidnapping, what people won’t do for attention. Pathetic.

    I’m obsessed with reading about the situation in Ukraine, I had another sleepless night, constantly checking my phone. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the people of Ukraine.

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  5. alex said on March 4, 2022 at 11:44 am

    I’m not sure what anyone could do to help Putin save face at this point and doubt he’d take it anyway. That opportunity came and went when diplomatic negotiations were offered and rebuffed. With any luck, his own people will off him and appoint a new government. Let’s hope.

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  6. Scout said on March 4, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    alex @5 is right. Putin has been offered several off-ramps and is steadfast in his evil intent. Not that it was a wise thing to say out loud, but Aunt Lindsay is right that someone needs to end him before he annihilates the planet.

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  7. Mark P said on March 4, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    The Russians have a history of no quarter given or taken.

    From what I have read from ordinary Russians online, things are bad there. Businesses closing, runs on banks, prices skyrocketing, and protests ruthlessly suppressed. But still, a large percentage of the public support Putin. Things may change when the oligarchs start hurting too much.

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  8. Mssr. Coffee said on March 4, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    Putin bad! Russia bad! Ukraine good!

    And history began three weeks ago.

    Eurasia is the enemy. Eurasia has ALWAYS been the enemy. Doubleplus good.

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  9. Brandon said on March 4, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    Re: the mask. It’s more of a Yoda-as-Hamburglar look.

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  10. jcburns said on March 4, 2022 at 2:53 pm

    @Mssr. Coffee:

    I get that you’re being sarcastic about Putin, Russia, and Ukraine. But what’s this “Eurasia” you’re concerned about? Does it contain, oh, Poles? Finns? Latvians? I’m pretty sure those people are not the enemy.

    In fact, the average Russian is not the enemy.

    What where you saying?

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  11. Sherri said on March 4, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Hey JC, where does the IP address of our caffeinated troll originate from? Some content farm in Belarus?

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  12. jcburns said on March 4, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    You’d think, Sherri, but no. I’m getting Indianapolis and Comcast.

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  13. Deborah said on March 4, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    I’m listening to a very interesting podcast, Ezra Klein with Fareed Zakaria about Russia/Ukraine and China.

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  14. Mark P said on March 4, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    “Eurasia is enemy.”

    What? No, never mind. I’m pretty sure I won’t be interested, much less convinced.

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  15. dull_old_man said on March 4, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    One of Big Brother’s lies is that we have always been at war with Eastasia. (I can’t vouch for Eurasia.) It’s a favorite line of trolls old enough to have read 1984 and young enough to remember it.

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  16. alex said on March 4, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    I’m getting the same vibe from Miss Coffee as I used to get from a certain libertarian troll who vamoosed from the site a while back because we were having so much fun lampooning libertarians. His handle was lowercase “mark.”

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  17. alex said on March 4, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    Putin’s own effort at face-saving: Calling on the world to “normalize” relations and to accept his pretext that Russia’s actions are justified. There’s no dealing with someone that crazy.

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  18. David C said on March 4, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    Bloomberg seems to think we should feel sorry for the poor sanctioned oligarchs. I do remember him saying while he was mayor how great it would be to have Russian oligarchs spend their money in New York. The ultra wealthy are a separate sub-species without any conscience.

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  19. Deborah said on March 4, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve often thought this, how when a writer or performer is on the skids or devolving into D rating status they go to the rightwing because it’s easier to get acceptance into the realm. They don’t need talent or investment in quality they just have to echo the bottom line

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  20. Indiana Jack said on March 4, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the events in Ukraine closely and with despair. So far, the Biden administration and the EU and NATO have made all the wise steps, but they’re playing a tough hand. The sideline critics in the GOP keep spouting “advice” that could end in a nuclear holocaust. They’d be smart to keep their mouths shut, but they won’t.
    Belarus is something of a wild card. Lukashenka welcomed Russian troops, and in his dreams he imagines himself as Putin’s successor. Those Russian troops will remain in Belarus no matter what happens in Ukraine.
    Did a couple of journalism training projects in Belarus in 2005 and managed to get denounced by name on state TV as an enemy of the people. Was later blacklisted in many of the former Soviet countries.
    Did much more extensive work in Moldova, a charming and impoverished neighbor to Ukraine. My friends there are watching the situation with trepidation.

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  21. Sherri said on March 4, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    The Biden administration is doing a good job, except in the minds of too many people whose only conception of how to handle foreign affairs never progressed beyond Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick. I would guess that European unity on this has been undergirded by quiet US support.

    I’m driven crazy by all the people who seem to think that a no-fly zone is a simple as just declaring it so, ignoring the fact that Russia has an Air Force and is a nuclear power. They seem to think through what happens if we declare a no-fly zone and Putin violates it, as he would almost certainly. Then we have to shoot down his planes, and then?

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  22. Ann said on March 4, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Great story, Icarus. And not a bit surprising. Most recently Chicago had Jussie Smollett trying the same sort of stunt. My niece’s best friend was for a while engaged to a fellow Princeton classmate. He produced threatening emails and a black eye to prove he had been attacked because he opposed premarital sex. Everyone was VERY relieved when she broke off the engagement after his arrest.
    A quick google reminds me that this wasn’t his first hoax.
    And of course Fox News had to backtrack.

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  23. Dexter Friend said on March 5, 2022 at 2:42 am

    Thanks nance for a great entry today, especially listing the corporations who are deserting Russia.
    I got lost an hour ago watching John Stewart’s show on finance. His theme was how banks charge us for keeping our money in their banks instead of paying interest, to force us into the stock market, then he had a panel of experts explaining about dark pools and many other terms I could not follow, and I felt like Andy Griffith watching a football game, that comedy bit from 65 years ago…I was clueless, and a headache came on, so with 11 minutes left I had to shut it down. If you do, however, understand modern finance, search out this streaming show, maybe it’ll help you understand.

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  24. beb said on March 5, 2022 at 4:02 am

    Remember how, after the Jan6th insurrection all sorts pf companies vowed to stop donating to political parties? Well, after a few months they started donating again, proving that the need to keep politicans well lubricated trumps good governance every time. In that light I wonder how long all these patriotic companies will continue to shun Russia. Maybe six months before the CFOs starts muttering about how bad the quarterly numbers look and that they need to look for new markets …. and what about Russia….?

    The propaganda war has been amazing. I don’t know what too believe. Well, obviously, Russia is lieing but did Ukrainian really tell a Russian warship to go fuck itself? Are Russian soldiers really drilling holes in their gas tanks so they won’t have to fight on the front lines? I’m afraid I will be long gone before the truth is ever known.

    Since Putin, like Trump, will never admit to being wrong I can’t see this war ever ending.

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  25. Mssr. Coffee said on March 5, 2022 at 11:16 am

    jcburns #10:
    “I get that you’re being sarcastic about Putin, Russia, and Ukraine. But what’s this “Eurasia” you’re concerned about? Does it contain, oh, Poles? Finns? Latvians? I’m pretty sure those people are not the enemy.

    In fact, the average Russian is not the enemy.

    What where you saying?”

    A reasonable question deserves a reasonable answer. In “1984,” it was a three-superpower world: Oceania (US, UK, western Europe), Eurasia (USSR), and Eastasia (China and Japan). Two of these were always allied against one, but which two and which one changed at brief intervals. The changes were never announced as such, since history was limited to weeks at most. So, for an Oceanian inner party type, making a speech to the outer party and proles, the formulation was, “Eastasia (or Eurasia) is the enemy. Eastasia (or Eurasia) has always been the enemy.”

    Of course, Orwell wasn’t a 100%-right-about-all-the-details oracle. But it does strike me as, well, Orwellian, how the proles and outer party types here are presented with an endless series of quickly-replaced New Hitlers: Khadafy, Hussein, bin Laden, Assad, and of course Putin. We are not invited to consider ancient history — you know, back to the 1990s — when the former USSR was assured, in return for acquiescing to the reunification of Germany and dissolving the Warsaw Pact, that NATO would not expand “one inch” to the eastward. This assurance was worth … well, insert your favored synonym for “shit” here. We are not invited to recall the orange revolution of 2004, in which the democratically elected president of Ukraine was replaced in street rioting funded by CIA and various western NGOs with someone more congenial to the good old USA. Nor should we remember the Maidan revolution (again, fomented by the alphabets; think Victoria Nuland and her famous “Fuck the EU!”) of February 2014, in which a president (Yanukovych) had made the fatal decision to enter the Eurasian Economic Union instead of the US-approved EU, and was overthrown in favor, eventually, of the US-approved Poroshenko, at which point Russia annexed Crimea, where Sevastopol is their only warm-water naval base, but refused to annex the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, even though the overwhelmingly-Russian people of those provinces voted to join Russia.

    We’re also not invited to remember the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015, which were supposed to establish a ceasefire in the fighting over Donetsk and Luhansk. The Kiev government was a signatory to these agreements, but have declared that they don’t intend to observe them; and, indeed, Donetsk and Luhansk have been shelled sporadically by the Ukrainian military for the past eight years. Our attention, of course, is not drawn to this.

    A month or so ago, Putin demanded a formal, written agreement that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO. Of course, he was rebuffed by US (and NATO) warmongers. Given the history of the region over the past few decades, I think Putin was being foolishly optimistic in thinking that even a written agreement with NATO would be of any value, but that’s just me.

    At some point, a thinking person has to look around and realize that we, the Good Guys of the USA, are being ruled by criminals. And, believe me, I’m not being partisan here. Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush “the Chimp” II, Obama, the Orange Cheeto, pResident Depends … there’s a long bipartisan tradition here of maintaining the US Empire, even if we have to do some ugly stuff to accomplish it — and we most assuredly do. Fortunately for the rest of the world, it can’t last much longer, due to economic ruin. That’s the trouble with an empire: everything goes out, and nothing comes in. It’s a toy for the oligarch class.

    This is getting a little long, so I’ll close with an invitation to a thought experiment. Imagine that the commies and the Warsaw Pact were still in business, and Mexico requested Warsaw Pact membership, and was admitted. The USSR sets up shop with missile emplacements just across the fence from San Diego, in Tijuana. What would the US do? “Go apeshit” might be, I think, a good description. For that matter, what DID we do, in 1962, about Soviet missiles in Cuba?

    Wiping out humanity is a bad idea, I think. But … Ukraine good, Putin bad!

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  26. Sherri said on March 5, 2022 at 11:57 am

    Ah, I see, more Greenwald sock puppet than Belarus content farm. Capable of stringing together sentences and history to sound oh so superior to “proles and outer party types”.

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  27. Jason T. said on March 5, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Wasn’t it Balloon Juice that had a “pie filter” that replaced some obnoxious commenters with statements about pie?

    I like pie.

    Anywho, if you find yourself rushing to the comments section to defend Vladimir Putin, maybe pump the brakes.

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  28. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    this is a test

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  29. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    Ok that’s weird, just sent another comment that didn’t show up? The test one did but not the one after that?

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  30. tajalli said on March 5, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    Jason, I think John Scalzi may have used pie comments and other silly substitute verbiage for trolls and also had “I like pie” as the subtitle to his blog for a very long time.

    I also like pie, but tend to eat lots of veggies, which I also like, instead.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on March 5, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    It’s too early to tell, but perhaps the entire absurdity of “America First” can be laid to rest after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. No single nation –not even ‘Murica– can have the impact of a coalition, but the red hats never seemed to grasp that fact.

    Putin certainly did, which is why he has worked tirelessly to drive wedges into NATO and the EU. He had a blundering stooge in the White House for four years who shared his hatred of alliances and who, undoubtedly, would’ve worked to exit NATO if he’d been returned to office. Instead, Russia’s economy is being put through a wringer by scores of nations united in opposition to Putin. “America First” my ass.

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  32. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Okay that didn’t work, I tried commenting again a different way to link to an interesting video and article. Now I’ll try this

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  33. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Yay! It finally worked. The video is in Finnish with English subtitles and the words fly by too quickly for me to read them all, so read the written synopsis. Caterina Fake is a founder of Flickr. I thought it was interesting and as I said I have no idea why those other comments including the link directly to the site didn’t show up?

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  34. jcburns said on March 5, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    The Youtube video Deborah is linking to (or trying to):

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  35. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    Here’s another good video, this is about Oligarchs hiding their money in London Hope this one works.

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  36. Heather said on March 5, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Commenting from Englewood, Florida, where masks are thin on the ground but at least no one has said anything to me about mine. Haven’t seen any MAGA hats either. Weather is great, the sunsets are beautiful, food is expensive and so-so.

    Nancy, your mask evokes an evil Yoda.

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  37. Deborah said on March 5, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    My husband got back in Chicago from Sarasota last night. He said the little memorial they had for his mother with his siblings was nice but he said Sarasota itself was very Trumpy. For example he said some guy went flying out of their hotel screaming that he expected people there to speak “American” etc etc. Masks were spotty, not many but nobody gave them grief for wearing theirs.

    I remain glued to the internet for news of Ukraine and I have this inexplicable guilty feeling that when I’m not paying attention I’m somehow letting them down and hurting them even more which is absurd, as if I’m helping them in some way, it’s obviously not at all about me.

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  38. basset said on March 5, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    The Haas Formula 1 team, the only American team in F1, has officially dropped their Russian driver and the sponsorship he brings with him.

    Team statement:

    Driver’s statement:

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  39. Dexter Friend said on March 6, 2022 at 2:06 am

    Now with oldest daughter semi-settled into the big country house just north of Findlay, many of our family gatherings will be there, just an 85 minute drive for me instead of the 3 hour 50 minute distance to Commercial Point where youngest daughter lives. It makes a big difference since my vans are both 16 years old. Pogo the Labbie is a nervous rider, and she whines constantly, so I never know when she has to relieve herself. Today I misread her whining, and just as I pulled into the driveway of my destination…yes, she did…a deuce on the back seat. My lovely daughter cleaned it up for me, thankfully. Today’s occasion was my great-grandson’s 7th birthday. The house was packed with little kids, like it coulda been a Chucky Cheese.
    It was a relief to take a day off from Ukraine v. Russia. Honestly, I wanted to peek at my phone for updates, but I resisted.

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  40. Dexter Friend said on March 6, 2022 at 2:22 am

    I recall we have a few stick-shifters in our community here. I have had many stick-shift vehicles, even a manual-shift Volvo station wagon, from 1981. Enjoy:

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  41. David C said on March 6, 2022 at 6:30 am

    The guy driving the manual transmission, classic Beetle in San Francisco has my undying admiration. I drove manuals until mid-sized sedans, the types of car Mary wants to drive and ride in, stopped coming with them. At least ones that we could afford did. Since we’re a one car family, it’s automatics now. I don’t think I felt more connected to driving like the people in the article talk about. In those days manuals got better mileage which is no longer true and cost less. I’m at heart a bit of a cheapskate so both of those appealed to me.

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  42. alex said on March 6, 2022 at 9:06 am

    Still a manual holdout here. Also a holdout on buying any vehicles until the prices return to being reasonable again.

    Honda and Hyundai still offer a stick in their Civic and Elantra models, respectively, and well-appointed ones at that. I could consider either.

    I might have gone for a Subaru Crosstrek but I keep hearing people complaining about Subaru having glitchy electronics, including some of the commentariat here, so it’s giving me reservations. Also read recently that Subaru is rigging its cars so that only a Subaru dealer can work on them, which would be a dealbreaker for me.

    Right before the car market went crazy, I was going to snag me a 2018 or so Honda Accord with manual and the 2.0 liter engine. They now cost more used than they did when new. They’re also hard to find unless you’re willing to travel which puts you at a negotiating disadvantage if you just want to git ‘er done.

    So I caught this weird WaPo piece this morning about some Indiana goobers turning up with their personal arsenals in their vehicles at the Ukrainian Embassy in D.C. They claim they want to volunteer as Ukrainian soldiers. Understandably, they’re not being taken at their word. Some nutters from other states have been caught exhibiting similar behavior.

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  43. David C said on March 6, 2022 at 9:34 am

    Subaru is bad on right to repair but the others aren’t far behind. When Massachusetts passed a right to repair law by referendum, the legislature would never do it because local car dealers know how to spread cash around, Subaru disabled features in their cars. I’m sure everyone else is watching to see how it goes for them.

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  44. alex said on March 6, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Right to repair — that’s what I was reading about, Dave, now that you mention it.

    I never service my vehicles at the dealerships because they’ve all burned me and I can’t tell whether it’s gross incompetence or malfeasance, but either way I don’t trust them and won’t spend my money there.

    I’ve been putting off an airbag recall on my Honda because I’m terrified that the dealer will intentionally fuck something else up so that I’ll have to come back. The only time anything has ever gone wrong with my Honda vehicles was immediately after having anything done by the dealer. Same with my Toyota and same with a VW I used to own.

    Occasionally I go on and do a search for vehicles with manual transmission within a hundred mile radius. Lots of hits turn up for Volkswagens and Minis at ridiculously low prices even in the current market, but I know that this is because they’re expensive to repair and prone to frequent problems. On the other hand, Japanese brands, especially Honda, are priced exorbitantly.

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  45. nancy said on March 6, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Yes, I’m afraid Mssr. Coffee is pretty much giving the Dreher/Tucker/et al “sure Putin is bad, but you gotta consider…” line. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, they’re now firing on civilians.


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  46. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2022 at 10:46 am

    Shouldn’t all those freedom loving manly men who strap on rocket launchers when they go to T.G.I.Fridays for happy hour be volunteering to fight in Ukraine? About 16,000 including about 3,000 Americans have volunteered to fight Putin’s troops. Considering how much hot air they expend declaring their willingness to fight for freedom, shouldn’t they put their AR-15s where their mouth is?

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  47. David C said on March 6, 2022 at 11:45 am

    Deborah was mentioning Slava Malamud last week. Here’s a good Twitter thread explaining the Russian mindset. It won’t surprise you that it’s pretty much the Republican mindset.

    The auto makers are fighting right to repair tooth and nail but their other bad idea for making us pay and pay is making features of their cars subscription only. Want Apple Carplay or Android Auto? Sorry that’s a subscription and probably bundled with a bunch of features you don’t care about. Now that I have unlimited data on my phone my Sirius XM subscription isn’t going to be renewed. Why pay when I spend 90% of my time listening to Sirius XMU and I can get the same thing streaming KEXP or BBC 6. But if Android Auto goes away, I’m screwed. I swear we’re going back to those stupid kludges they had to play a Walkman through your FM radio. Back to the future we go because digital enabled greed.

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  48. Mssr. Coffee said on March 6, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    “Meanwhile, in Ukraine, they’re now firing on civilians.”

    Sure glad “we” didn’t do any of that in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, et cetera ad nauseam. Shock and awe! You-Ess-Ay, You-Ess-Ay!

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but have those damn Roooskies gone full Fallujah on any Ukrainian cities yet? You know, as in shooting anyone trying to get out? Actually, that’s an idle question; no one who’s not there can know, with all the journalistic lying going on (Ghost of Kiev, Snake Island, “combat” photos that turn out to have been shot years ago in other places, etc).

    Finally, when someone makes an argument, even a disgustingly heretic one, some of you folks might want to actually address the substance, instead of playing the non sequitur card: “that sounds like something that someone else, whom we don’t like, said; therefore, it’s false.” That actually doesn’t follow.

    You folks should try to keep me around here. The sort of intellectual incest that characterizes a pure echo chamber doesn’t make you stronger. It might, however, make you very good banjo players. Diversity’s a good thing, really. Don’t be afraid of it.

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  49. susan said on March 6, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    Hmmmm. I keep thinking I really should sell my 1985 2-wheel drive stick Toyota pickup, because I just don’t drive it anymore. But friends wouldn’t get in it because, well, no air bags for one. My brothers kept getting on my case. I was shamed into getting a new vehicle in 2015, and I finally did. A six-shift manual Forester (Subaru doesn’t even make those anymore!) But speaking of a reliable vehicle, that truck has 366,000 miles, same engine, only opened up once to replace the head gasket. New clutch at 250,000. Replaced timing chain and water pump at 300,000. And, ya know, that pickup has NO COMPUTERS.

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  50. Deborah said on March 6, 2022 at 1:32 pm

    Here’s another excellent video on You Tube it’s an interview with Masha Gesson that happened sometime during Trump’s presidency. It was partly on a Frontline two parter a while ago about Putin. This video is the whole interview with just Gesson. It’s very long but was very worth it to me to get a good explanation of Putin going way back. Gesson is one sharp cookie.

    edit: I am also a manual transmission hold out as I’ve said here before. When I drive an automatic rental car my left foot is always searching for the clutch.

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  51. Joe Kobiela said on March 6, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Mssr. Coffee,
    Wait until you miss spell a word or use a comma in the wrong place. pResident depends can I use that?
    Pilot Joe

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  52. LAMary said on March 6, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I live on a very steep hill and the California traffic code says vehicles going uphill on a narrow street have the right of way. It’s a big discussion in The Neighborhood. Newer residents tend to ignore the law or claim they’re unaware of it. I’m sure none of them have ever had to stop a stick shift car heading up a steep hill, then start again without stalling or rolling backwards. My car is automatic but my sons have stick shift cars. And since I learned how to drive stick in Colorado I am pretty slick about starting on a steep uphill. I shared my knowledge with the sons. But there are plenty of other reasons it’s a good idea for the car going uphill to have the right of way.
    And Alex, I’m hanging on to my cart too, but I looked at what I’d get for it if I sold it to Carvana. $22,990. I paid $23,000 for it in 2017.

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  53. MarkH said on March 6, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Lest you think all is lost. The list includes four Subaru models, including the CrossTrek. And two Cadillacs. I’ll never give up my ‘86 GMC 3500 granny-geared stump puller, nor my Alfa Spider.

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  54. Deborah said on March 6, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    One thing I really like about our Jeep is that is has something that keeps the car from rolling backward when on an incline. I don’t know what it is, and it’s the first car we’ve had that has it. Our manual BMW didn’t even have it. It has been super helpful in Northern NM with all of the topography. Our Jeep is the most stripped down manual model we could find, but somehow thankfully it has that capability.

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  55. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    I love my 5-speed Fiat 500 Abarth and I’m hoping to swing the upcoming Acura Integra if I can afford it.

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  56. alex said on March 6, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    In all fairness, Pilot Joe, usually no one points out your familiar habits of erroneous grammar, spelling or punctuation except when it’s obvious you’ve copied and pasted the writings of others and held them up as your own. But no one can fault you for consistency of content — it’s almost always the same risible troll bait no matter how well or badly presented.

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  57. Mark P said on March 6, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    So, let me see if I understand. If someone somewhere did something bad, then it’s OK for someone else to do something bad. Is that right?

    And, by the way, Mr Coffee, if you really knew anything at all about almost anyone here, you would know that almost everyone here opposed what the US did in the Middle East. But that won’t matter to you because puppets can’t think for themselves.

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  58. Sherri said on March 6, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Our new caffeinated troll is practically following the troll handbook. Wander in here, say provocative things, eventually produce a whole bunch of what-aboutisms couched as a “serious argument”, then tell us we’re intolerant or should invite more “diversity” when we don’t engage the bad faith arguments. Of course, if we embraced the “diversity” exhibited by our troll, that would bore him, since he needs to be the brave outsider telling the truth in order feel important. The whole point is to stir up a fuss.

    Our troll would be mildly interesting if he were from a content farm in some Eastern European country, but as a white guy from Indianopolis, he’s boring. And doesn’t add any diversity to this place…

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  59. ROGirl said on March 6, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    Maybe Monsieur Cafe should have an occasional glass of wine to offset the overcaffienated and odd plea for “us folks” to keep him around.

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  60. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2022 at 5:43 pm

    Life is too short to spend even a nanosecond thinking about whatever Maxwell House Jr. is saying.

    Another 3,000 Russians arrested today for protesting the Ukraine war. They risk imprisonment in some of the worst prisons in the world. Of course, they’re not as brave as those truckers circling I-495 to protest coronavirus mandates that have mostly ended. It takes real courage to sit on your fat ass listening to Toby Keith while driving in circles.

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  61. Sherri said on March 6, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Professional basketball player Britney Griner has been detained in Russia for several weeks. Most WNBA players play overseas during the offseason, because the money is better, and the most money can be made in Russia. Griner has played in Russia for several years, she’s Black, lesbian, and a US Olympian, so the worry is that she’s being held as a political chip.

    All remaining US WNBA players have safely returned from Russia.

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  62. alex said on March 6, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    It takes real courage to sit on your fat ass listening to Toby Keith while driving in circles.


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  63. Jeff Gill said on March 6, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Violating the first rule of trolls, I know, but the thought experiment is not that hard to run: “Imagine that . . . Mexico requested Warsaw Pact membership, and was admitted.” Sure, it would have been a big deal — but instead of a thought experiment, let’s just open up the Big Book of History & see what did happen. After all, Cuba did virtually go that route, and yes, we responded fairly aggressively to putting offensive weapons in that nation . . . in 1962.

    Mexico could have swung to the Soviet Bloc in a variety of ways, and it didn’t. Ukraine has established a long and steadily developing interest in loosening ties with resurgent Russia & drawing closer to the West, as has their also close neighbor, geographically & culturally, Poland. The United States hasn’t had a great generally defensible foreign policy relationship with Mexico since 1962, but in fact we’ve worked hard to keep our mutual ties woven together since then. Russia with Ukraine, not so much.

    And warmongering? Has the NATO alliance shown any interest at all in putting troops into Ukraine, or supporting a no-fly zone? That’s a fascinating word to step into, warmongering. It’s a polemic with little content to, not much substance to engage with. Except I’m only seeing one party engaging in cross-border troop movement. Sporadic artillery in two small border provinces which a variety of neutral observers have suggested might be self-inflicted provocations . . . versus rolling 200,000 troops in motion, on a border, and moving half of them across that border to capture territory and overthrow a government. That’s warmongering if I were to use the term, which I wouldn’t because it’s low fiber, high calorie rhetoric. I’d just say only one nation has started a war as a nation against another nation in the last heap of decades, and that’s Putin’s Russia. How about “war starter” as a point of reference?

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  64. Sherri said on March 6, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Even if I stipulate to the US action against Afghanistan not being a war as a nation against another nation, which…maybe, stretching things, I don’t concede the same for the US invasion of Iraq, and 2003 isn’t a whole heap of decades ago. We started a war against Iraq, our justification for doing so was cooked up, and was about as well thought through as Putin’s current misadventure.

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  65. Dexter Friend said on March 7, 2022 at 2:22 am

    Brittney Giner is a famous athlete, starring for Baylor before turning pro. She took a lot of heat in college as critics questioned if she was “female enough” to play women’s sports. My point is, she has been hounded in the press, then glorified as a pro, and in this political climate, allegedly tried to smuggle hash oil in vape kits.
    In the case I illustrate below, the smuggler man was riding in a brand new car owned by one of the other men in the Windsor strip club crew, guys just out to see the shows. The new car was detained and it took a month to get it back. The owner had to call his wife in Indiana to drive up to the customs house and take the men home. I never heard the details of fines and so forth, but the guy with the weed didn’t get hauled off to jail.
    Google blurb: “Griner, who has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason, was detained after customs service officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport.”
    We all know basketballers love the weed, the hash oil for sure, but what was she thinking ?
    Is she just stupid like the man I knew who tried to bring weed back from Canada, weed he had successfully gotten through the tunnel in Detroit to Canada, but got busted with a baggie of weed in his underwear at the bridge coming into Detroit? Stupid is as stupid does, or was she set up?

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  66. Jeff Gill said on March 7, 2022 at 7:25 am

    Well, you can blame the U.S. for the fact that it happened, but the distinction I’m making vs. Mssr. Coffee’s “warmongering” claim and invasions is that the U.S.-led coalition was a multinational force with a variety of nations supporting action (however misguided in retrospect), vs. a single nation invading another nation.

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  67. Dorothy said on March 7, 2022 at 7:29 am

    I’ve mentioned more than once the young lady I was host parent to when I worked at Kenyon. Her mother is staying in an underground subway place near her apartment in Kyiv. She has sent two messages to me via Messenger this past weekend:


    ! I pray to ask your goverment about jets plane and air forces. Please!!!!ask them too!!We see your reasons but pray for appliences to defend and survive!!

    I feel stricken that I cannot do anything to help her. Dasha is in Scotland unable to help her parents. I cannot follow the Ukraine news anymore except for cursory glances because it makes my stomach churn, I cry and nearly shake from the anger I feel with Putin. How is it going to end? How many are going to die? Will Putin be held responsible in ANY way whatsoever? My prayers are for his impending slow and torturous death and I feel no guilt at all about that.

    Might I suggest that we all try very hard to not respond to the dimwits who are trolling us? Try doing what I do – see the name at the beginning of the comment and blissfully slide right past it. They really are not worth the time or brain cells to react to them.

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  68. Julie Robinson said on March 7, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Agree on both counts, Dorothy. You have to put on your own oxygen mask first.

    We just had our first dermatologist appointments for whole body scans; what a Florida thing to do, right? I have a spot on watch and will go back in six months, then yearly. What a relief. Before good sunscreens were around I got some bad burns and now I’m religious about SPF all the time. Hubs had a spot on his ear–doc says wear sunscreen on car trips.

    Anyway, our appointment was at the ungodly hour of 7:40 AM and now I’m home and ready for a cup of tea and second brekkie. Which I deserve, after getting up so damn early.

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  69. Mssr. Coffee said on March 7, 2022 at 9:38 am

    “Well, you can blame the U.S. for the fact that it happened, but the distinction I’m making vs. Mssr. Coffee’s “warmongering” claim and invasions is that the U.S.-led coalition was a multinational force with a variety of nations supporting action (however misguided in retrospect), vs. a single nation invading another nation.”

    Ah, yes, the “multinational coalition.” As befits an imperial power, the US does indeed have a collection of vassal states, most notably the UK, along with plenty of others. Remember when France was a little hesitant about signing on as a COW (Coalition of the Willing)? They were instantly cheese-eating surrender monkeys, and French fries became … well, you remember.

    Sorry, the Middle East invasions were all US invasions, wearing the vassal states like a thin condom.

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  70. Deborah said on March 7, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Oliver Stone watches Dr. Strangelove with Putin

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  71. alex said on March 7, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t believe there was a single one of us here who supported Dubya’s antics in Iraq except for maybe some trolls who were too fucking stupid to even comprehend what was happening there and bought the bullshit line that we were avenging 9/11. But that’s got nothing to do with what’s happening in Ukraine right now and Coffee Mate is comparing apples and oranges. If anything, the so-called “vassal states” are wearing the U.S. like a condom. Protecting their own interests is what they’re most concerned about here. Joe Biden — yes, Joe Biden — accurately predicted that invading Iraq would destabilize the whole region and that groups like ISIS and al Qaeda would rise to fill the power vacuum and lo and behold.

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  72. Mark P said on March 7, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    Regrets, I’ve had a few, and one of them was responding in any way to Drip Coffeemaker.

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  73. Scout said on March 7, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    I can’t believe some of you are actually engaging with PJ’s latest fan boy crush. He’s not here to discuss, just to disrupt. But that’s just me, I guess.

    I know I’ve been down on NPR ever since they jumped on the butheremails train in 2016, but Tim Mak is a must read on Twitter. I read him and HCR every morning right before I come here to engage with this group of smart people.

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  74. Dexter Friend said on March 7, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    Julie, I began wondering how much real damage I did to my skin after being shirtless so much of the time under a blazing Vietnam sun for a year; when I returned my dad had to do a double-take at the airport because I was a dark brown tone. I never used spf-anything until the reports began indicating we need to do that. Now I use max-spf lotion and apparently avoided carcinomas from all that young-age sun exposure. I had a visual scan by a doctor but never any machine detector scan, if that’s what they do now. Anyway, the fact is I am old and it’s just wake and give thanks for another day’s challenges to face. Right now I am entertaining a plumber; he left to go to his shop for more parts to fix 2 toilets that began leaking at the stopper, which I could have tried repairing myself, but the goddam water shut-off valve was thread-stripped and so this little problem necessitated a call to the professional, and don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly pay someone to fix stuff that I would really screw up, trust me, I know myself. Ha.
    10,000 dead, total estimate, as of 12 hours ago, said NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel. That’s a lot for just 13 days of war, oh, excuse me, we can’t say “war” or “invasion” or Putin will throw us into a gulag , no kidding. He says he’s clearing out the neo-nazis, bur The West doesn’t buy it. Zelensky is a true mensch in the very nature of the word. The news is just so sad to watch, the words flow out of the TVs, the pictures accommodating are heartbreaking. Every war is so different, with all the death and mental scarring of the children, especially. Putin has isolated himself from most all except China. Does this mean anything? Time shall tell.

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  75. basset said on March 7, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    Topic change just for a brief break from the awfulness… I read “today in nn.c history” most days, and today’s entry for 2016 included Nancy’s post about the Schvitz baths in Detroit. Nancy, is that lunchtime event still going… and have you been back?

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  76. Icarus said on March 7, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Scout, perhaps this is the reason.

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  77. Jeff Borden said on March 7, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    Many years ago, a couple of Jewish buddies took me to the old Russian-Turkish baths on Division Street in Chicago. (It’s since been opened and closed a few times.) Back then, it was pretty moldy around the edges, but it was a real experience. We paid our money and were given a small bucket, a bar of Ivory soap and a towel. For an extra buck or two, you got birch branches so you could beat each other lightly on the back.

    We were doing fine –among six or eight other guys– when two barrel-chested old Eastern European gentlemen entered and began pouring more and more water onto the rocks. The heat and steam increased geometrically and we had to bolt the steam room for the ice bath. It was quite a cool experience and I enjoyed a great night’s sleep. It really took it out of me.

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  78. Scout said on March 7, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, Icarus, that is EXACTLY the reason! Great find; it is applicable to probably at least 90% of the self proclaimed geniuses on the www.

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  79. Jeff Gill said on March 7, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    Well, that’s . . . interesting.

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  80. Jeff Borden said on March 7, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    Once again, I’m amazed tRump’s cult sees him as strong and powerful. He’s such a whinyass crybaby.

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  81. Deborah said on March 7, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Icarus great link. Perfect.

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  82. Kath said on March 7, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    I have always had a manual transmission. In the 80s, I lived in Duluth MN, which is as hilly as San Francisco and has ice and snow to boot. The other night when we went out for dinner, we were running late and used the valet. We had a seat by the window, and watched while the valet sat in the car for about 5 minutes, moved it forward about 10 feet, and then left it in the valet parking space for the rest of the evening.

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  83. Deborah said on March 7, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    Kath, I’ve had that experience with valet parking when they don’t have a clue how to drive a manual transmission. I find it hilarious.

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  84. Jeff Borden said on March 7, 2022 at 9:10 pm

    Manual transmissions are a great carjacking deterrent.

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  85. susan said on March 7, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Having a manual transmission is part of the anti-theft devices in your vehicle.

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  86. LAMary said on March 8, 2022 at 12:12 am

    While I’m sure the ideas on that letter to Lester Holt are trump’s I’m sure he didn’t write it. Imagine the putz who has the job of composing trump’s pissy rants. I hope trump actually pays him and doesn’t stiff him like he has previous employees.

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  87. alex said on March 8, 2022 at 8:02 am

    I read that William Barr said he’d still vote for Trump in 2024 everything else notwithstanding. So he was smart enough not to get himself criminally entangled in a coup plot but otherwise has no moral objection to it. What an oily, disgraceful piece of scum.

    I had to take my mom to the ER last year and the valet at the hospital offered to put my car away. About an hour later he found me and was in quite a state of desperation and needed me to move my car. Somehow he had managed to move it quite a distance around the ER cul-de-sac but it was still blocking the way. I was worried he might have torn up my clutch or gears. So yes, it’s a great theft deterrent but maybe not always a good idea to entrust it to valets.

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  88. Jeff Borden said on March 8, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Barr says the leftist progressive agenda is far more dangerous than allowing a mentally ill old fart who thinks Finland is part of Russia to be the leader of the free world. These fucking assholes. . .

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  89. Deborah said on March 8, 2022 at 10:50 am

    If you haven’t read this yet, please do, and pass it on It’s the least we can do. This was written by David Rothkopf as a Twitter thread, this link is the Thread Reader capture of the thread which is easier to read than the original tweet thread. David Rothkopf has an excellent podcast too call Deep State Radio.

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  90. Mark P said on March 8, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    For a more optimistic but still realistic take on Ukraine, Putin and Russia, check this:

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  91. Jeff Borden said on March 8, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for the link, Mark P. I could use a little dose of optimism. On Page One of the NYT today is an assessment of how the Ukraine invasion has obliterated the image of Russian forces as strong and competent, so Putin will lose that advantage, too.

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  92. LAMary said on March 8, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Remember when Trump wanted to buy Greenland?

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  93. Jeff Gill said on March 8, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    Two words: Mathias Rust.

    That’s what the Ukraine invasion has been for Putin’s regime, just as that young pilot was for Soviet rule.

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  94. Deborah said on March 8, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    I remember that Mathias Rust incident, it was embarrassing for the Soviets.

    When my husband’s younger sister was in college in the late 60s she traveled to Germany with a friend. They wanted to visit East Germany and in the process of being questioned etc to board a train to do that they were required to hand over their purses to the authorities with a promise that they would be returned. They assumed it was to check their IDs and passports and gingerly relinquished them. When they got their purses back all of their cash was gone. Then when the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 80s it made us realize that those guards probably weren’t being paid properly all along and the Soviet Union was a sham. That seems to be the case now too. One of the reasons they say the military is in such disarray is because a lot of the funds that were thought to be going to modernize the military was actually used to by yachts and luxury properties by the administrators.

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  95. susan said on March 8, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    I didn’t remember Rust’s name so I looked him up on Wikipedia. He sounds nice:

    Later life[edit]
    While doing his obligatory community service (Zivildienst) in a West German hospital in 1989, Rust stabbed a female co-worker who had rejected him. The victim barely survived. He was convicted of injuring her and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, but was released after 15 months.[14] Since then he has lived a fragmented life, describing himself as a “bit of an oddball”.[15] After being released from court, he converted to Hinduism in 1996 to become engaged to a daughter of an Indian tea merchant.[16] In 2001, he was convicted of stealing a cashmere pullover and ordered to pay a fine of DM10,000, which was later reduced to DM600.[7][14] A further brush with the law came in 2005, when he was convicted of fraud and had to pay a €1,500 fine.[14] In 2009 Rust described himself as a professional poker player.[17] Most recently, in 2012, he described himself as an analyst at a Zurich-based investment bank.[15]

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  96. Julie Robinson said on March 8, 2022 at 9:10 pm

    Deborah, your story reminds me of a book written by former NOR guy David Greene, Midnight in Siberia. Greene was stationed in Moscow and when his assignment was over he rode the Siberian Express in order to see the real Russia. He learned that the Potemkin Village facade was very thin once you left Moscow.

    The train attendants took bribes instead of tickets, but then, they hadn’t been paid in months, so who could blame them? Most of the population lived as they would have 500 years earlier, on cabbages and potatoes they scratched out of any bit of garden they could find, hauled around in hand carts with wood wheels. Central heating? Ha! And they drank vodka or anything else whenever they could get it to provide a bit of escape from their miserable lives.

    Quite an eye opener.

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  97. Sherri said on March 8, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Dexter, whether or not Brittney Griner actually had vape cartridges in her luggage, she would not be under arrest were Putin not attacking Ukraine.

    Griner plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian team loaded with WNBA superstars owned by a Russian oligarch tied to Putin. She’s played for the team since 2014. Playing on a team like UMMC, players like Griner travel on charters, have drivers, stay in luxurious hotels, and are taken care of at every level, in addition to the hefty salary. Even if she had vape cartridges in her luggage, it likely wouldn’t be a problem normally, because she would be insulated from the normal rules.

    Until you’re not. Now she’s a six foot eight inch black lesbian American, and UMMC has been kicked out of Euroleague play. She’s more useful as a symbol of the decadent West than as a basketball player now.

    (Note, not all overseas basketball teams are nearly so cushy a deal, and often, there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether you will actually get paid.)

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  98. beb said on March 8, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    alex@87 : Barr is worse than you think because he believes that as bad as Trump is any Democrat is worse. The man has been drinking the kool-aid for so long he pees grape.

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