Let’s Argue Substance For A Change

In a world where narratives count more than facts and data, we may be evolving to a time people armed with actual knowledge are in a place to shut down those too lazy to ground their positions in something other than personal prejudice. Take the Trump true believers claiming election fraud. They’ve yet to produce anything when challenged to show us the basis for their claims. The other side has placed their goods on the table. Only the like-minded listen to these people. Others cast their votes against “Trump Won” candidates.

We can deal the same fate to those claiming the world is ending because of overpopulation, climate change, or a combination of the two. Adherents of “the science” tell us Covid came from a “wet Market,” locking everyone down, including children, prevents the spread, and mandating vaccination for everyone numerous times is necessary. Our nation’s history is really what “The 1619 project ‘ claims. The gap in the U.S. between rich and poor has grown to an all-time high.

We know from the Russian Collusion and The Biden Laptop fiascos those without facts turn to suppress those that do. Unless you’re the Chinese Communist Party, facts ultimately will come out. We can extend the growing embarrassment of elites in politics and media taking this route to their followers.

Simply asking for the basis of their position on any of these subjects may result in a blank look. How can you question dogma? Everyone knows this is true. I read it in the N.Y. Times or The Washington Post. O.K., but where are the facts? Could you show us the data? Volunteer to read whatever they can provide, but in return, they have to read your sources. 

Of course, you need to have sources to offer. If you don’t readily have them, may I suggest a few easily accessible books and articles that skewer many progressive, most cherished themes?

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Out of the Jaws of Victory

Ukraine could still lose its war with Russia. It isn’t for lack of skill or courage of the Ukrainians we’ve arrived at this point. For all the sacrifice and treasure expended to repel Putin’s legions, the invaders may still prevail. From Russia’s 2014 invasion to the present, the Obama and Biden administrations have been playing catch up in providing the weapons needed for the Ukrainians to win. Trump sent Javelin anti-tank missiles, while Obama sent only non-lethal supplies. 

Only Ukrainian success in the initial battle for Kyiv brought forth supplies of modern arms. Our military and intelligence establishments expected a quick Russian victory and were unwilling to waste resources in a losing cause. They were unaware of the nation’s military improvements and the use of the weapons and other military aid they received from the Trump administration. The fact the Ukrainians had fought the Russians-backed forces in the eastern part of the country to a standstill was unappreciated.  

I and others opined we should give Ukraine whatever weapons they needed as fast as their ability allowed them to use them. As they have proved to be fast learners, they should be sporting the most sophisticated arms by now, and the Russians are paying an unbearable price. 

We haven’t given them weapons to shoot back This failure has allowed the Russians to inflict horrendous civilian casualties and infrastructure degradation. Instead of routing the poorly led and trained Russians, the war degenerated into WWI trench warfare. 

It’s not that potent weapons never get to the Ukrainians; they need to get there quickly. Eventually, we send HMERs, effective air defense, better artillery, and tanks only to stave off defeat. Even now, we are doing the same dance over sending F16 fighter jets. Eventually, we will send them, but they should already be there.

Some Republicans are questioning the expense. Instead of Russian defeat and Ukraine being made whole, we have a war likely to drag on. The longer a fight drags on, the likelihood of war weariness appears. Democrats always have an anti-war wing. 

Other powers might perceive it in their interest to keep us engaged in Europe. In China’s case, a U.S. bogged down, depleting our military assets gives it a more substantial hand in Asia.

Biden says he is relying on the weapons advice of the military. These are the same military leaders who failed so dramatically in Afghanistan and predicted a quick Russian victory in Ukraine. There is no reason to be confident in their advice. Bringing in new people at the joint Chiefs and Defence Department might get us on track to winning the war.

Russia will strike again if it can hold a big part of Ukraine and rebuild its military. The next time will probably involve NATO members drawing the U.S. directly, resulting in American bloodshed. We know this is true because Putin has told us his intentions.

Continuing to Revisit

Catching up in several areas is necessary from time to time. It’s essential to see where I’m right, wrong, or a mixed bag. Rather than put it all in one post, I’ll do it in smaller bites over the next few days.

 While I perceived the frenzied attack on police would backfire, I missed other things. Making assumptions about the efficacy of covid vaccines is a significant whiff.  

Like many others, I concluded after receiving the two shots was protected. After all, this is the way vaccines such as those for smallpox and polio work. Further, I could no longer spread Covid.

Vaccinating everyone on a cruise protects everyone from passing Covid. The more people vaccinated would slow and eventually stop the spread.

 Based on this perception, I favored vaccine passports and some mandates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis saw it differently. He banned orders requiring vaccination for Covid in his state. At the same time, he actively opened his state. People were walking on the beaches without masks. Children went back to school.

We both supported the Great Barrington Declaration thesis lockdowns are the wrong approach and do great harm. A governor has far greater resources to dig deeper than a lonely blogger. DeSantis did just that. Based on what he found, he concluded the vaccines were being oversold. There is no evidence that vaccines prevent the spread. We found out Pfizer never even tested its vaccine for spread prevention. 

The basis for passports and mandates evaporates if the vaccines don’t stop Covid spread. DeSantis dug into the data and realized this was the case. Even though a big state Governor has far greater resources than a lowly blogger, I should’ve looked closer at DeSantis’ reasoning and the data, or lack of it; he based his actions. I drank the Kool-Aid.

My admiration for the Florida Governor began with his diligence during the pandemic and willingness to stand up and take the heat for his data-based actions. This stance is what leadership is all about.

In my series on Covid, I did get other aspects right. The lockdowns were a disaster. Lost jobs, trillions unnecessarily spent, and children’s learning loss resulted from failing to follow my and the other Great Barrington Declarations signer’s recommendations. Rather than continuing to suppress data on the lab, leek theory and natural immunity have belatedly received proper coverage. 

We still need a thorough investigation of the mishandling of our Covid response. Why were legitimate concerns and information suppressed in opposition to all of our methods of scientific inquiry? Reversing a greatly diminished faith in our medical and other institutions is necessary before we suffer another calamity.

Some You Get Right, Others Can be A Mixed Bag

Trying to get policy right is a humbling experience. Sometimes you get it right, are way off base, or some parts right and trip on others. My Predicting a decline in public safety, especially in some significant cities after the Ferguson riots, is sadly proving true every day. On the other hand, while I am generally right about the lockdown disasters, I was off-base on the vaccines. 

Politicians’ failure to stand firmly behind Ferguson, Mo. officer Darren Wilson when he had to shoot the attacking Michael Brown set off a chain of events diminishing public safety. At the time, I predicted dire consequences. Unfortunately, they came to pass.  

No matter how justified the shooting, the message is a white officer who shot a black is in a world of hurt. Darren Wilson left the police force and hasn’t been heard from since. Much of Ferguson was destroyed and has never recovered. Michael Brown’s parents pocketed a $1.5 million settlement, even though a grand jury and the Justice Department never found fault with Wilson’s actions.

Demanding police reform, meaning the police should look like the communities policed. This policy meant hiring and promoting more minorities. Increased oversight and clamoring for the removal of qualified immunity protecting officers from being sued personally swept across the nation.

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The Right To Shoot Back Doctrine

The Ukraine War has reached a crucial moment. Russia is trying to advance in the East while threatening an attack through its client state, Belarus. The Ukrainians have battled the Russians into giving up some territory, but their civilians are taking a beating. Ukraine needs more and better weapons to maintain momentum.

There can be only one winner in this war. It would seem a no-brainer for the U.S. and its allies to go all in to ensure a Ukrainian victory. If Ukraine drives the invaders out of their country, Russia no longer threatens our NATO allies, and we will avoid direct involvement in a European war. If Russia doesn’t lose, given time, it will rebuild its military to resume aggression towards Ukraine and its neighbors. 

Recently, Ukrainians arrived in the U.S. to train on the Patriot air-defense system. The question is, why can’t we give Ukraine the tools to win in a timely fashion? Instead of shipping needed tanks today, we’re witnessing Germany refusing to O.K. the transfer of German-made Tiger tanks unless the U.S. contributes some of its Abrams tanks. 

The Russians pummel civilians and infrastructure with drones and rockets sent from bases out of the range of Ukraine’s present weapons while the Ukrainians wait. Many of these bases are in Russia. 

The situation calls for a simple logical policy change. You don’t restrict your friends to knives in a gunfight. Just give Ukraine weapons to shoot back. If someone shoots at you, the right of self-defense says you can return fire. You’re not escalating, just leveling the field to protect yourself. If bad guys have guns, law enforcement has to have them, too, if they’re to be effective.

A simple solution is to give Ukraine the means to hit back. If Russia sends rockets or drones from bases in Russia or Crimea, give Ukraine drones and rockets to take out whence they come. Do the same with planes. 

An agreement with Ukrainians to only use long-range weapons to take out these bases is quite doable. With our satellite and trajectory computing, we know exactly where the Russians are launching attacks. This action is only returning fire. The Russians are placing the bullseye on these locations—no attacks from there, no return attack.

Early in the war, it was reasonable to fear that any long-range weapons provided to the Ukrainians might result in hitting Moscow. After a year of close cooperation, an agreement only to assail identified targets are reasonable. The deal is in the interests of both the U.S. and Ukraine. A resulting irrational response from Putin isn’t in anybody’s interest.

Lessening or eliminating air, drone, and rocket attacks from the previously out-of-range bases gives the Ukrainians military, economic, and morale boosts., while having the opposite effect on Russia.

Facing losses in people and equipment, an unpopular Belarus government might find getting involved in Russia’s war unattractive. Knowing you’re getting hit back focuses the mind.

Older planes, drones, and long-range HIMARs exist in our inventory—only a short time is needed to bring them to bear in the field. The Ukrainians have proven very adept at mastering a wide variety of arms.

Once available, we establish a website showing where attacks on Ukraine originated. Then we have a choice of immediately retaliating or warning Russia and Belarus to expect to be hit wherever an attack on Ukraine emanates. 

The first option would yield immediate results. The second option puts Putin on the horns of the dilemma. He could divert resources to protect his bases and continue using them or cease using them, thereby avoiding heavy losses, resulting in a significant plus for the Ukrainians.

If Russia opts for the second choice, the new equipment can return fire anywhere within Ukraine. For instance, the Crimean area lies within Ukraine’s recognized borders and is the main staging ground for drone attacks. Only lack of range has prevented this in the past. 

The beauty of this “Right to Shoot Back” doctrine is that it leaves it up to Russia and Belarus whether the war widens geographically. Just returning fire isn’t escalation. It simply matches what your opponent does. Whatever Putin decides, Ukraine is in a much stronger position. Without safe bases, we’ve significantly weakened Russia and Belarus. We get this result without endless discussions with our allies. This policy is a win-win any way you look at it.