So, did I read this right? Should I have hung in there?

The only decent picture I could find illustrating the setting of the anecdote. No, I’m not in the picture.

It’s anecdote time. But first, a few words from Nicholas Kristof:

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Many Americans and Europeans flatter themselves by seeing the war in Ukraine through a false prism.

Too often, we think we have sacrificed for the Ukrainians. We pat ourselves on the back for providing expensive weapons and paying higher heating bills to help Ukrainians win their freedom — and we wish they’d get on with it.

In fact, what’s clear here in the Baltic countries is that it’s the other way around: The Ukrainians are sacrificing for us. They’re the ones doing us a favor, by degrading the Russian military and reducing the risk of a war in Europe that would cost the lives of our troops…

The whole piece is worth reading, but only those first three grafs are relevant to the memory that they stimulated…

It was a few months ago, maybe even in 2022. It’s hard to pin down, because it happened at Lowe’s, and I go there a lot.

This time, I wanted to copy some keys, and was using the self-serve machine devoted to that purpose. So for a minute or two, I was standing there, unable to easily evade folks who come up to strangers and initiate conversation.

There are a lot of people like that. And seriously, I try to go along and be nice to these folks. I get the impression sometimes that they are lonely. Maybe they live alone, and only get to speak to other people when they are out and about. And this is bad for everyone — but (or so I understand intellectually) especially painful for extraverts. (Although it would be great if some of them would stop whining about it! Oh, wait — I’d better add one of these… 🙂 )

This guy, whom I’ll describe as an older (as in, near my age) white guy, was at least topical. He comes up and without prelude (although maybe I’m just forgetting the prelude), he asks me who I thought would end up paying for all this aid we send Ukraine — us, or the Ukrainians.

I simply said, well, I assume we will, since we are the ones with the money as well as the goods. At that point, I could have gone on at length about how important it was for us to do so, and to keep doing so.

But I didn’t, because I sensed I was standing at the precipice, and one more step would take me into a spontaneous, fruitless argument with another isolationist. And I get into enough of those.

The conversation ended at that point. I don’t recall whether he just had no rejoinder — he may have been hoping to connect with someone who would say “It’ll be US, dammit! AGAIN! Those damn’ foreigners!” and didn’t know how to respond to my more neutral response — or I found some easy way of extricating myself.

Anyway, I now regret that I didn’t wait to see what was going on. It would only have taken a moment to find out whether I was in “America First” territory (in either the Trumpian or Lindbergh sense). I could have extricated myself at that point. Or perhaps I could have gotten him to see a broader picture (OK, everybody, stop laughing hysterically).

Or maybe he would have responded by saying “Hallelujah! Finally, somebody who’s not an isolationist!” And we could have had a high old time slapping each other on the back in mutual congratulation. That probably wasn’t where we were going, but let’s admit the possibility.

I think what chased me away was the thought that here’s a guy who comes up to busy strangers and starts conversations with something as likely to lead to acrimony as that. Made me wonder whether it was wise to stick around. Although I appreciated that he wanted to talk global affairs, rather than the weather or the Gamecocks.

But rather than keep kicking myself, I’ll close with Kristof’s words:

We’re right to celebrate a successful NATO summit. But especially if Ukraine struggles to recover large swaths of territory in this counteroffensive, there’ll be feckless grumbling in Western capitals about the price we’re paying and the favors we’re doing Ukraine. Anyone tempted to think that way should listen to the Baltic leaders, because they’ve learned the hard way how best to manage unruly bears.


35 thoughts on “So, did I read this right? Should I have hung in there?

  1. Doug Ross

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a warmonger. Thinking that there’s a mass of people in Russia who are just itching to start a war with the U.S. to achieve.. umm… conquer…ummm.. what exactly would Russia do to control the U.S.? And why?

    Luckily it’s usually old guys like Brad and Joe Biden who never had to put their own lives in danger.. just sit on the sidelines replaying John Wayne movies in their heads… They’ll be fine in a decade or two. If we cut the defense budget in half tomorrow, we would be at no further risk of being overtaken by Russia or China or any other Boogeyman invented by Raytheon and Halliburton…

    Imagine a president who focused on peace instead of war? It’s easy if you try.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And there we go with the standard isolationist response, which tends to involve erecting fantasy targets to shoot at.

      For instance, who has suggested “there’s a mass of people in Russia who are just itching to start a war with the U.S.?”

      The routine personal insults aside (as interesting as it would be to know where all Doug’s hostility has come from over the last couple of years), I think these false arguments he comes up with result to the blinders that are particular to libertarians. They really don’t SEE how the world is connected. None of the collective security arrangements this country has pursued since 1945 — which have been, by the way, ways of PREVENTING another war, not causing one — make sense to libertarians. What happens in other countries doesn’t matter. As long as nobody’s on your border and invading at this moment, no worries.

      And it’s hard to have a serious conversation about international affairs with someone who lives on this complex, interconnected globe, but doesn’t perceive the connections or why they’re important.

      Especially when the someone seems to be bitterly angry all the time…

      1. Barry

        Outside of Marjorie Greene and 1-2 others, no one really advocates Doug’s position.

        Yeah, the straw man argument that anyone thinks regular Russians want to kill Americans or takeover America is an odd one. Haven’t heard that one before. So, that’s not worth discussing.

        Now- that’s not to say the defense budget shouldn’t be cut.

        Rep Katie Porter had a great time in a committee meeting taking apart some defense lobbyists and I agreed with her wholeheartedly. She’s great- and smart.

        and she didn’t leave out Trump’s hypocrisy either- but he’s not the only one

        This is well done. It’s theatrical- but that’s what committee meetings are and always have been. Might as well play along and make a point.

        “Each year, lawmakers and defense lobbyists play the same game, pouring hundreds of billions into the Pentagon without scrutinizing every dollar—and it’s taxpayers who lose.”

      2. Doug Ross

        The “collected security” killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name a few minor skirmishes.., and achieved nothing in securing the world… and cost us trillions of dollars that could have been better spent on all the failing domestic programs and infrastructure. But those are all just trivialities when it comes to global affairs…

        My disgust for warmongers parallels your ongoing disgust for libertarians… I’m comfortable taking the side of freedom and doing no harm.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, I’m sorry if I insult you in any way with my disregard — I don’t think I’d call it “disgust” — for libertarianism. I don’t mean to be uncivil. It’s just that that’s a way of looking at the world that I examined and thoroughly rejected long before you and I met.

          In our “ones and zeroes” world, we hear constantly from folks on the left who utterly reject the right (however they define it; the definitions are often mushy), and vice versa. As y’all know, I’m very disturbed by the bitter division that results from that.

          Well, for me, the thing I utterly (almost) reject is libertarianism. And I’m sorry if my rejection sometimes takes forms that could be interpreted as ad hominem. I do get irritated, I know, particularly when people seem to be deliberately trying to provoke me — you know, with the personal insults and such. And that shows, and I later criticize myself for it.

          A lot of people mock the phrase “hate the sin and love the sinner,” but it’s a goal I think we should all strive for. There are ideas that each of us find distasteful or even intolerable. And I don’t think we should be intellectually dishonest and pretend that we think all ideas are equally good. But we shouldn’t allow our distaste for the objectionable ones to attach to the people who hold such ideas.

          Avoiding that trap is, I firmly believe, essential to being civilized. It’s certainly essential among people living in a country that is based upon liberal, pluralistic ideas.

          And I, along with others, need to work harder at it…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            By the way, the reason I inserted “almost” parenthetically between “utterly” and “reject” above is that there are of course exceptions. Libertarians are sometimes right, and not just because of the “stopped clock” principle. Obviously, there are elements of liberal democracy that naturally overlap with libertarianism.

            That’s why I occasionally remind people of my strong opposition to the idea of “hate crimes.” I don’t see how any thinking person who believes in what America is about can advocate for such things, but obviously many people — including no doubt some thinking ones — do that.

            It pleases me to be able to occasionally agree with libertarians. I like being able to find common ground with people whenever possible.

            It also pleases me to demonstrate that I’m not an ideologue. When I write about something like that, I know I’m going to take heat from confused “liberals,” but it also feels good to know I’m evading, at least momentarily, the famous hobgoblin.

            To be perfectly consistent with a political principle is to fail to apply judgment. For instance, people who strive for a kind and fair world need to realize when they’re stumbling into Orwellian territory. “Liberal” advocates of “hate crimes” somehow fail to see that…

            1. Ken

              I’m one of those thinking persons who supports hate crimes laws.
              Because the crimes they encompass are aimed at more than their direct victim. They are aimed at both that particular victim as well as the larger community that victim belongs to. So it is appropriate that the latter be taken into consideration.

              1. Barry


                Hate crimes are often committed to “send a message” to others in a group.

                People that kill or hurt someone for being gay or trans- or attack someone based on their religion often are looking to hurt anyone in that community, not necessarily one individual person. We have recent examples right here in South Carolina.

                Plus, crime enhancements aren’t exactly unique.

                We have enhancements for gang affiliations. We have punishment enhancements for using a gun when committing a crime. We have enhancements based on WHY – or on what level their decision was made.

                Oddly enough, those enhancements don’t draw much (or any) comment or disagreement like hate crimes do. Strange how that works.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Except it isn’t. We’re not talking about aggravating circumstances, which bear upon a jury’s or judge’s deliberations in administering penalties. And we’re not talking about intent, which unlike other thoughts and attitudes bears directly on culpability for the crime itself.

                  This is a separate charge, with separate procedures.

                  Your “Strange how that works” comments indicates, of course, that you see some underlying motive. And you’re sure everyone KNOWS what it is — racism, or whatever -ism applies to the particular identity being protected.

                  There’s also an underlying motive in advocating for “hate crimes.” It is to ensure that people don’t think, or feel, things that we find abhorrent.

                  And it’s absurd, and deeply insulting, to suggest that it somehow makes you a racist to object to such policing of thought in a free society.

                  Yes, there are assholes who don’t want to outlaw these attitudes because THEY are racists (just to stick to one aspect of “hate crimes”). No doubt about it. They are racists because they’re assholes. Or perhaps they are assholes because they are racists; take your pick.

                  We should do all we can to encourage tolerance and mutual respect for fellow citizens in our society because they are essential to everything the society is about — not only in terms of our ideals, but in terms of what it takes for our representative democracy, our economy and everything else to WORK. (The reason our political environment is such a mess because that tolerance and respect has broken down so appallingly.)

                  But we should never, ever, make it a crime to think or feel a certain way. We should punish the crime.

                  We shouldn’t congratulate ourselves for our enlightenment because Dylann Roof was convicted of 33 federal hate crimes. We should take grim satisfaction that this monster was convicted for killing nine innocent people. THAT’S the crime, and it’s abominable enough.

                  1. Ken

                    The suggestion that hate crimes law are the equivalent of Orwellian thought crimes does not stand up to scrutiny. Why? Thought crimes, as defined by Orwell, punish wrong thinking as such: politically unorthodox thoughts. No action on the part of the “criminal” is required. The thought itself is a crime.

                    A hate crime is nothing of the sort. It does not punish thought, it punishes an action committed based on evident bias against a protected class as defined by law. It has to do with motivation, another word for intent. In that sense, it is not unlike the fundamental legal concept of mens rea: actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, meaning: “The act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty.” In other words, determination of criminality in general itself relies on an estimation of mental state.
                    Determining malice or wilfulness, for example, are determinations in law of mental states.

                    Hate crime laws are no less well rooted in legal principles and traditions.

                    And just by the by, is it any more objectionable to suggest that those opposing such laws may be motivated by race than it is to allege that those who support such laws are unthinking and don’t believe in what America is about?

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      You make a good point here:

                      The suggestion that hate crimes law are the equivalent of Orwellian thought crimes does not stand up to scrutiny. Why? Thought crimes, as defined by Orwell, punish wrong thinking as such: politically unorthodox thoughts. No action on the part of the “criminal” is required. The thought itself is a crime.

                      But you get off course here:

                      A hate crime is nothing of the sort. It does not punish thought, it punishes an action committed based on evident bias against a protected class as defined by law.

                      That doesn’t fit the way it works. Note those headlines I referred to above. Dylann Roof was separately convicted of first hate crimes, and then murder. His attitude was entitled to its own separate charge and procedure. Here’s the thing — if he’s also being tried for murder, how is the separate hate crime charge anything but a consideration of his attitude at the time of the crime being separately considered?

                    2. Ken

                      You’re merely restating the notion that hate crime is thought crime. Which we have already demonstrated is false. It’s not thought that’s criminal, but rather the motivation/intent involved. So it is not dissimilar, for instance, from a charge of assault with the intent to commit murder. Penalties for this crime are harsher than for simple assault.

                      Further, in the case you cite, Roof would not have been charged with a hate crime had he not committed murder. So it is not a stand-alone offense unconnected to any other criminal act. Roof could’ve thought all the murderous thoughts he liked so long as he did not act on those ideas. The hate crime charges were part of the prosecution’s effort to establish motivation. The two elements – crime and motivation – cannot be separated the way you’re trying to do. The federal hate crimes statute involved (18 U.S. Code § 249) links willfully causing bodily injury together with motivation. They are not separate or separable.

                      It’s hard not to see your rejection of hate crime laws as yet another example of an single-minded campaign against identity politics. A largely misguided campaign, especially here. If that is to be our guide, we might just as well abandon the fundamental legal concept of protected classes, since they, too, might lend weight to the politics of identity. Or, for that matter, the additional penalties connected to killing police or federal officials, etc.

                    3. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Wow. There’s so much there to respond to (and, were I to choose to be as didactic as Ken, to “correct”), but I don’t have time.

                      It astounds me that you don’t see the difference between a motive (racism, robbery, road rage, lust, or a thousand other reasons, including just not liking the color of the other guy’s tie) and intent, which is about whether you meant to do it. The qualitative difference is huge.

                      And, just in passing, “protected classes” are a “fundamental legal concept?” Fundamental? You think that word applies to this concept? Say “fundamental legal concept,” and I think “innocent until proving guilty” (unless you’re under the Napoleonic Code), or “right to counsel.”

                      Protected classes are a political concept that at various times are codified into law. Like protecting legislators from arrest when on their way to the capital, or what have you. Hardly a fundamental concept underlying the rule of law.

                      And “It’s hard not to see your rejection of hate crime laws as yet another example of an single-minded campaign against identity politics.” Ya think? Of course it fits into that category. But it doesn’t arise from my objection to identity politics. It’s one of many things that cause me to oppose identity politics.

                      But I have no time to go further, and I’ve said what needs to be said. And I’m done with this topic. Gee, people, all I did was say libertarians weren’t wrong about everything. But of course, as usual given the state of dialogue in our society, I get outrage from others rather than a rare “that’s right” from the libertarians… 🙂

                    4. Barry

                      Brad wrote

                      “Dylann Roof was separately convicted of first hate crimes,”

                      South Carolina has not been- and is not- debating the federal hate crimes law used in the Roof case.

                      Thank goodness we do have the federal hate crimes law. That’s wonderful and I am thankful for it.

                      However, South Carolina has been and is debating the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act.

                      It’s a punishment enhancement available to a judge AFTER the offender is found guilty of certain categories of violent acts.

                      The proposed law goes out of it’s way to specifically state that no one can be found guilty of such a violation unless they were found guilty of the underlying offense.

                      In other words, the law makes- crystal clear that someone could be proven to hate someone because of their race or sexual orientation, etc- but if they aren’t guilty of the original violent act, there is no violation of the hate crime law.

                    5. Barry

                      “But of course, as usual given the state of dialogue in our society, I get outrage from others rather than a rare “that’s right” from the libertarians…

                      I’m not so much outraged as I disagree with you and your characterization of the facts of the hate crime laws.

                      You and I have entirely different values. It’s should not be a surprise that I would disagree with your characterization of the law- which I found fundamentally inaccurate and wildly inconsistent.

                  2. Barry

                    Brad wrote

                    “This is a separate charge, with separate procedures.”

                    It’s not a separate charge.

                    As I correctly stated above, the hate crime law proposed in South Carolina is an enhancement to punishment – AFTER- the offender is found guilty of the threatening action.

                    I’ll now quote from the South Carolina proposed law… (Copy and paste)

                    The “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act,” provides for an enhanced penalty for certain violent crimes when the offender intentionally selects a victim due to the offender’s belief or perception regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.

                    The enhanced penalty, consists of an additional fine of not more than $10,000 and an additional term of imprisonment of up to five years, may only be applied to the penalty for the underlying offense under certain circumstances.

                    Brad, people can think- feel- whatever they want to think or feel.

                    But when thinking crosses into action, that’s different and you know it’s different.

                    To suggest they are the same thing is not a fair representation of the facts.

                    No one is punished for thinking something. That’s absurd.

                    The hate crimes law specifically is a punishment enhancement when a party if found guilty of crimes targeting individuals because of the aforementioned characteristics.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Good point about the Pinckney Act. Although I still see it as unnecessary. Punish the crime itself (in this case, the murders) to the fullest extent of the law — and that has been done successfully. In fact, Roof has been sentenced to death. I don’t believe in the death penalty, but if I were ever to endorse it, it would be for cases as horrific as this.

                      You say the Pinckney Act provides for an enhanced penalty? How would you enhance this penalty? Make the execution especially painful? You might run into a constitutional problem with that.

                      As for thought, my chosen word seems to throw both you and Ken. Well, you could choose a lot of other words that are subsets of the category described by “thought:” Attitude, opinion, world view, resentment, and on and on. But beyond that, the only problem I see with the word, as applied here, is that when we’re talking hate — real hate, that leads to murder or something close to it, not the mere rhetorical use of that word that we encounter a lot these days — we’re sort of in a realm below thought. Gut feelings and such. Reflexive responses…

                    2. Barry

                      “You say the Pinckney Act provides for an enhanced penalty? How would you enhance this penalty? Make the execution especially painful? You might run into a constitutional problem with that.”

                      A South Carolina hate crime law for Dylan Roof isn’t necessary.

                      Like many other charges we have had in law for decades- even centuries- an “additional penalty” isn’t always necessary for the worse of crimes.

                      Yet, even then people are sentenced all the time years beyond anyone’s life span for their actions. That doesn’t seem to generate any anger.

                      But of course not every situation is Dylan Roof.

                      Not every hate crime is murder. Not every hate crime calls for a life sentence.

                      The South Carolina addresses that reality.

                      and again- it’s not criminalizing thought.

                      Think whatever you want. Thinking isn’t a crime- nor does a hate crime penalty enhancement apply to what someone thinks about something.

                      That’s a red herring.

                    3. Ken

                      Just this:
                      Your very brief list of fundamental legal concepts is in no way all-inclusive. Protected classes defined under various laws include those of race, sex and sexual orientation, religious belief, national origin, age. Which are quite fundamental elements in human life. So, yes, the laws protecting them surely should be considered fundamental and not somehow ancillary or of secondary importance.

                      Distinguishing between motive and intent is not central to the concern you raise. The suggestion that hate crime laws punish thought is.

                      And, no, neither Barry nor I were “thrown” by your use of the word “thought.”

                    4. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Well, you certainly seem to be. But whatever…

                      And it’s not a gotcha that “Your very brief list of fundamental legal concepts is in no way all-inclusive.” It wasn’t intended to be. In fact, I initially gave you just one example. Don’t know why I even bothered to add a second, except as a way of saying you could name lots of others — like right to trial by jury, etc. And “et cetera” includes a bunch.

                      Anyway, this parenthetical argument — my listing of ONE thing I agree with libertarians on, and the extended period of back and forth about that one point — is over. I’ve said what what I think, and you’ve said what you think (which I think the Dude would say we both have the right to do — another one of those fundamentals), and from now on, any time I can find to spend on the blog (either writing, responding or approving comments) will be devoted to other subjects. There are plenty of them out there….

                  3. Barry

                    Brad wrote

                    “Your “Strange how that works” comments indicates, of course, that you see some underlying motive. And you’re sure everyone KNOWS what it is — racism, or whatever -ism applies to the particular identity being protected.”

                    My “strange how that works” comment is appropriate in this case because we have penalty enhancements for all sorts of crimes that don’t’ seem to be an issue at all and raise no objection.

                    A crime against a someone deemed vulnerable (elderly, disabled, etc) has a penalty enhancement available to the judge. The offender, if found guilty, often receives additional time because they targeted someone they felt had no ability to respond and is less likely to report a crime in the first place.

                    Even having a gun on you (or in your car- or even at a separate location from the crime) has a penalty enhancement available (even if the offender wasn’t using the gun in the underlying crime)

                    Prior convictions are eligible for a penalty enhancement- even when the underlying crime had nothing to do with the previous crimes.

                    Gang affiliation – offenders are eligible for penalty enhancements if they are affiliated with a gang or committed a crime with hopes to impress a gang- even when the offense wasn’t directly tied to a gang.

                    Financial crimes often are eligible for penalty enhancements if the crime is proven. In fact, some laws increase crimes depending on the dollar amount. Steal $999 and you are subject to one penalty. Steal $1000 and you are subject to additional penalties. Sometimes an enhancement is allowed depending on the motivation of the crime itself.

                    Sentencing enhancements aren’t elements of the crime. They’re additional facts that, if established, increase the potential penalty of a crime.

                    They are deeply ingrained in law- but people do get worked up if an enhancement is considered for someone who intentionally targets people because of their race, or sexual orientation, or religion, or gender, etc..

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I don’t get “worked up” about it. I simply see it as problematic.

                      And there’s a world of difference between punishing people (or enhancing their punishment) for their attitudes toward other people, and — for instance — adding to the murder for the killing of a cop. You kill a civilian, and you’ve committed murder. You kill a cop, and you’ve struck a blow against the rule of law itself. So yeah, I can see adding to the penalty for that.

                      That said, I’m not totally convinced the cop-killer laws are the way to go. I’m even less convinced on the gang-association laws. Seems to me to run against the “fundamental concept” (to quote Ken) of freedom of association.

                      Of course, at the same time, the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and I can understand lawmakers pushing the envelope in trying to deal with the serious problems caused by gangs. Just as I can appreciate — under the extreme circumstances — Lincoln deciding he had to suspend habeas corpus.

                      And I absolutely fully appreciate the abhorrence of racism that leads people to endorse hate-crime laws. I share that abhorrence. But I don’t think the solution to the problem, in a society such as ours, is to directly or indirectly, or even partly, outlaw it. First, it won’t work — any more than the death penalty works as a deterrence to capital crimes — and it militates against concepts that truly are fundamental to what our country is about.

                      People are free to think what they like and like whom they like. That’s why the First Amendment is first. The several broad concepts set out in it are all about freedom of conscience.

                      Y’all realize what I’m doing here, right? Doug thinks I — and the rest of you — suffer from “Trump derangement.” But folks, what I’m doing here is sticking up for him and his followers. They do have a right to be the way they are, and to think what they think — although in their cases, “feel what they feel” may come closer to the mark.

                      They have that right even though their attitudes frequently make me want to throw up. My duty, and yours, is to persuade them that they’re wrong, not to pass legislation to punish such attitudes. Yep, it’s an uphill climb, on a Sisyphean level. But we have to try…

                      OK, I’ve already spent enough time on this sidetrack to have written a couple of new posts. So no more. We’re done with this…

    1. Bill

      Stoned Jesus are a stoner metal band founded by Igor Sydorenko in Kyiv, Ukraine circa 2009. The band is currently composed of Sydorenko on guitar, Sergii Sliusar on bass and Dmytro Zinchenko on drums. The band has a distinctive stoner metal sound with elements of doom metal also incorporated.

  2. Barry

    I have a neighbor who engaged me in a discussion about 2 months about Russia. He asked me what I thought about Russia. He didn’t really mention Ukraine much. I guess it’s more accurate to say he “tried” to engage me.

    He served in the military. He’s a Trump guy but honestly I’ve never talked politics with him other than one time I recall him saying he liked Trump- which surprised me a bit based on a few other things I know about him.

    He’s a very quiet guy but looks very imposing. He had a bad breakup with his wife 4-5 years ago. All I can recall of her issues with him was her allegation that he was “never going to change” – whatever that meant to her.

    What surprised me was his eagerness to believe whatever Putin was saying at the time. He kept saying Putin had a right to do what he was doing and we needed to understand him.

    I didn’t engage in the discussion. I just kept saying it was a crazy situation but I did say I thought Putin’s actions were not helping him (by mentioning how NATO was expanding and Putin was responsible). He didn’t really react and that was the end of the conversation. Heck, I was doing some yardwork anyway and I guess he realized I needed to finish it.

    But I’ve never met anyone else that even brought up the subject – or that I thought even thought about it. I suspect most people don’t think about it at all – and likely don’t know much about it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah… which is why I wonder why this guy at Lowe’s came up to me and started the conversation — just launching right into that question without any sort of intro or transition. That I can recall. Of course, perhaps I was giving off some sort of “Ukraine” vibe while I stood there making a key. But I don’t think so…

  3. "Bobby"

    Jinjer is a Ukraine Band; singer Tatiana Shmailyuk is “interesting?”

    From Wikipedia: “In March 2022, it was reported that Jinjer had “paused” their career to focus on relief efforts in Ukraine after Russia invaded the country one month prior. In June 2022, Jinjer announced that they received permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to leave Ukraine and tour as ambassadors of the nation.”

    Kick ass music; kick ass people!

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