Here's what I think.
Vladimir Putin's spy service has discovered that Hillary Clinton has secret (and crooked, but I digress) sweetheart deals with foreign powers around the world -- including with his oil rivals in the Middle East. When she first became Barack Obama's secretary of state, Putin may have believed Hillary had only forged such a relationship with him and his, but now he knows otherwise.
Russia's intervention in Syria is not about fighting terrorists, nor even protecting Syria's national sovereignty and right to be ruled by whatever insane dictatorial regime its people may be willing to tolerate as a lesser evil. It's about extending Russian influence into an oil-rich region of the world as OPEC's cohesion breaks down. Putin fears that if America regains its rudder behind a president who isn't beholden to him, his maneuverings will be for naught.
Putin's recent efforts to influence the presidential election have betrayed a growing panic on his part; Russia's oil has been its prime economic mover in this century and for various reasons it isn't performing as well as conventional thinking would have suggested. The breakdown in OPEC solidarity -- caused by increased production by non-OPEC states like the U.S. and, ironically, Russia -- has made oil cheaper on the world market.
Putin wants either for OPEC to regain control, or for Russia to be in a position to herd its members from the outside to do what they no longer have the will to do on their own account.
Forty years ago being OPEC's sheepdog would have been a key to vast global power, due to oil's unchallenged supremacy as an energy source. Since then, OPEC's past hijinks have taught the world that dependency on a single fuel from a single bloc is a bad idea.
And if world power were Putin's objective in his recent maneuverings, he wouldn't be so obsessed with getting Donald Trump into the White House. No, this isn't about geopolitics, but about Russian domestic politics, as determined by the flow of hard currency to Moscow.
This is why Putin talks of nuclear war if Trump loses. It's a typical Russian threat display that, as we learned after the fall of the Soviet Union, has nothing behind it.
He is in a precarious position at home. If future U.S. foreign policy is not firmly pro-Russia, Vladimir Putin risks being humiliated before the world as Mikhail Gorbachev was when George Bush ignored him about Iraq in 1991.
No bully can survive such humiliation.
© Friday, October 27, 2016 Kevin McGehee
Yesterday was the start of early voting here in Georgia, so Mrs. McG and I swung by the newer of the two early-voting sites in Coweta County to have our say.
In principle, early voting is described as a bad thing because it encourages people to vote before having the chance to learn all there is to know about a candidate or ballot question. In practice, it dissipates the impact of "October Surprise" gotcha revelations about a candidate or ballot question -- which in my mind isn't a bad thing. Eliminating the incentive to play endgame gotcha tricks on the electorate changes the tenor and rhythm of campaigns, and really the only ones with reason to complain are those who rely on such tricks.
In 2016 there are no negatives about either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton that I needed to wait to hear. Both are unfit for the presidency and therefore both must be rejected.
Contrary to my preference I also voted dutifully for Republicans down-ballot, even where the only other line for that office was for a write-in vote. Given that Hillary Clinton is almost certain to win, she needs to be confronted with a Congress that is at least nominally opposed to her agenda. Having Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and Dick Durbin or some such as Senate Majority Leader would mean fast-tracking Hillary's every whim -- whereas Ryan and McConnell will only fast-track 90% of them.
It's unfortunate that the alternative is Hillary's every whim coming from a Trump Administration, where a GOP Congress would feel compelled to fast-track all of it.
I despise "losing more slowly," but thanks to the know-nothings who took over the GOP nomination process, and the stand-for-nothings who couldn't pander to them fast enough, losing more slowly is our only option. If these were people capable of planning a dumpster fire I'd almost think they were in on it.
I hold out no hope for reform in the GOP. Until rank-and-file voters get the hint once and for all and abandon the elephant, I cannot imagine our politics getting any better.
Trying to win our needed victories in the political realm is like trying to win a small-claims lawsuit in the Supreme Court. Stop, already.
© Wednesday, October 18, 2016 Kevin McGehee
For now I'm dropping Red Canyon as the subject of my background image, in favor of a recent photo of the Dunoir Valley, up the road from Dubois, Wyoming.
At this point the valley of the Wind River runs between the Wind River Mountains to the south and the Absaroka (ab-SOR-ka) Mountains on the north. The latter range, which spawns DuNoir Creek, also marks the east side of Yellowstone Park as well as of the caldera of the supervolcano that created its thermal features.
The continental divide leaves Yellowstone Park and runs along the Wind Rivers to South Pass, where the Oregon Trail crosses from the Sweetwater River basin into that of the Green River before striking off toward Fort Hall, Idaho. The paths of the Mormons, the Donner Party, the Pony Express, and the 49ers of the California Gold Rush instead took a southerly turnoff that took them to the Great Salt Lake and, except for the Mormons, beyond.
Viewers of the "Longmire" TV show that haven't yet watched the fifth season on Netflix may be confused about the pronunciation of "Absaroka." I'm not sure what author Craig Johnson's intent was for the Absaroka County in the books, but the TV series made a decision to pronounce the name as it was spelled, in part perhaps to distinguish it from the mountain range more than 100 miles to the west -- the mountains looming over Durant, Wyoming are the Big Horns; Durant is based on Buffalo, Wyoming at the junction of Interstates 25 and 90.
The name "Absaroka" comes from the name the Crow Indian tribe used for themselves, presumably pronounced more like the mountain range than the fictional county.
© Friday, October 13, 2016 Kevin McGehee
Charles at Dustbury posts a Yahoo! Answers question -- the latest in a series of Y!A questions he has posted over the years that make one want to weep for the future.
When do you become an adult? This is a topic for my University essay and i want to know the answer from that point of view?
My spur-of-the-moment answer, on reflection, is only half-right:
You’re an adult when you have the experience and informal learning to be able to answer the question without asking other people.
That question, and questions like it, yes. But being an adult also means still being willing to ask other people for information when your life experience hasn't encompassed it. Math questions from high-school algebra on, for example, I'm better off asking someone who's mastered it than WAG-ing it like I often did in high school.
Self-reliance within your limits is part of being an adult.
Knowing and admitting your limits is another.
Delayed self-gratification and all that other stuff too.
Oh, and knowing that no matter how much you know, or how much you can rely on yourself, there's always something you can add to the toolset. Death begins when learning ends, so stay alive as long as you can.
© Thursday, October 12, 2016 Kevin McGehee
I live in Georgia, which Trump will almost certainly win. As I've said before in this and previous election years, if the Republican nominee can't win Georgia without my one vote, he's got bigger worries than my one vote.
I think the question is not which candidate will surpass 270 -- if either one does, it will be Hillary Clinton -- but whether she will make it past 300. In my opinion the narrower the margin the better, regardless of who wins.
I am profoundly dissatisfied with my choices for U.S. House and Senate, but again this is Georgia, and the House district is one of the reddest in the state. Squishy Johnny Isakson will go back for another term in Mush McConnell's Senate, and cronyist Drew Ferguson will succeed retiring coulda-been-a-contender-for-Speaker Lynn Westmoreland.
In this, the most disheartening election cycle of my lifetime, I will make a point of casting a ballot. With middle finger raised against those who made it that way.
© Wednesday, October 11, 2016 Kevin McGehee
Found out our other neighbors weren't being contacted by anyone offering to buy their homes, so I think it's safe to conclude the inquiries we received last spring were related to Mrs. McG's mother having passed away.
It's just as well; I'd really rather hold off on another move until it's to a climate I like. Heat and humidity like this in October is totally uncalled for.
© Thursday, October 5, 2016 Kevin McGehee
Yesterday morning -- the last day of September -- Mrs. McG's weather station out yonder in the field reported a low temperature of 48.3°F.
This morning it reported a low temperature of 48.6°F.
Obviously this is not climate. It could only be climate if the low temperatures were in the 80s or 90s.
© Saturday, October 1, 2016 Kevin McGehee