Crimea Secedes

The Crimean Parliament has voted to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia.  They plan a referendum on the issue for their citizens on March 16.  Will the rest of Russia-leaning eastern Ukraine follow suit?

If Ukraine splits up, it might be easier for them to move forward.  Since independence from the Soviet Union, they have been torn by those who want to look east and those who want to look west and have been somewhat immobilized.

Ukraine’s biggest problem is its horrific corruption and dominance by oligarchs, who function as feudal lords.  If the western part splits off and joins Europe, they will have a chance of reducing that corruption to, say, Italian or Greek or New Jersey levels.  The eastern part will remain a mini-Russia, a kleptocracy.

The big takeaway here, people, is that if you have nuclear weapons, don’t ever give them up for a meaningless piece of paper (that joke of a Budapest Memorandum).

On a more serious note, my main sentiment is that when the Soviet Union broke up, Russia’s power and prestige hit rock bottom and had nowhere to go but up.  So I see Putin’s actions in the Crimea, like his actions in Georgia in 2008, as a “reversion to the mean.”

He knows he’s not going to get his whole empire of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact back, but he also knows he can get something without having to fight.   Taking Crimea is a slam dunk, as taking the rest of eastern Ukraine probably is.  Heading into western Ukraine means he’d have to fight the locals, who’d have help from us, and occupy them.  Heading into Poland means he’d have to fight NATO.  I doubt Putin’s eyes are bigger than his tummy.

Of all the aggressive actions Putin could take, I see the Crimea as the most logical and least threatening to our interests.  If you did a word cloud for Russia, “warm water port” would appear very prominently.  Of all the world’s territory technically outside Russia right now, I can’t think of anything more deeply tied to them, more arguably theirs, than the Crimea.

Overseas Trip Hurt Mitt

A new PPP poll shows that 44% of registered voters found Mitt less ready to be president after his goofy, gaffey trip abroad, 18% found him more ready, and 36% said it made no difference.  The numbers among independent voters were close to those for all voters, with 42% finding him less ready, 19% more, and 37% the same.

PPP among likely voters in Colorado finds President Obama up over Mitt 49 to 43%.

PPP among likely voters in North Carolina finds President Obama up over Mitt 49 to 46%.

PPP leans Dem.

When in Trouble, Lie

In trouble for what he said about the Palestinians, Mitt is behaving like a five-year-old who ate the forbidden candy, and lying his tush off.  Now he’s claiming that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture,” when he clearly did, negatively and explicitly contrasting their culture with that of the Israelis in terms of their per capita GDP.

How he thinks denying that he said what he said is going to help him is beyond me.  It prolongs the controversy and adds another dimension to it.   It makes him look even more strange, untrustworthy, and unfit for the Oval Office.

His staff continues to be bush league.  His traveling press secretary had a nasty encounter with reporters in Poland, telling them to “shove it” and “kiss my ass.”

Except for his hefty fundraising, the trip was a disaster, and Mitt was an embarrassment to the GOP and the country.