Corrective glossary

Political and media terminology can be confusing, and I think it’s because no one knows how to talk words good no more. If you listen closely, people actually use words entirely wrong. (Or is it ‘wrongly’?)

Here then, to help cut through the smoke, is a corrective glossary to help you follow the hot topics of the day:

base (i.e., of a political party): the group of people who might or might not vote; they’re not that inspired and on the fence about it, so they constantly need to be actively courted and appealed to

climate denier: someone who, while fully aware and will readily admit that the climate exists, meanwhile has the (on the face of it unrelated) property of not preferring left-wing policies of redistribution, strict regulation, and centrally-planned economics

racist: someone who doesn’t want government policies to be racist

health care: any arrangement with a corporation in which you send money to them monthly and they sent you a brochure at the beginning, but may or may not pay you anything in return; e.g. “With Obamacare at least I have health care”

healthcare: the preferred way of saying ‘health care’ even though it is not actually a word, it is two words squeezed together for no apparentreason

healthcare (alt.): birth-control pills and/or rubbers

allies: others who do not want you to do a thing and do not want to help you do the thing; e.g. “We should have gotten our allies on board, but instead they were all against us”

data-driven journalism: an article with an Excel chart or a number in it that wasn’t just handed to the journalist by this or that spokesman/PR person and pasted into the story without understanding it or doublechecking

liberal: someone who is not liberal; fascist

Caplan agrees with me

This Bryan Caplan immigration post is O.K. And I mean O.K. in the original sense of Oll Korrect. It’s totally fine. The claims are sound.

Here’s one of them:

In the short-run, a demand spike [from allowing unrestricted immigration] leads to higher rents and housing prices, discouraging relocation without depriving anyone of the right to relocate.

So what Caplan is saying is that unrestricted immigration wouldn’t mean suddenly 6 billion people moving to the U.S. because, instead, all that would happen is that rents/housing prices would be given a boost from the extra demand. And he’s right! I agree!

In fact, I already wrote as much, in a post that got argued with, of course. So I guess I can point to this Caplan post now in support of my position that open-borders helps the already-wealthy and thus is, for them, the selfish position.

Oh, but that’s just the short run, he says. What would happen in the long run?

In the long-run, these higher real estate prices provide an incentive for construction firms to build more housing. As a result, housing prices would gradually decline from their temporary high – and the population of newly-popular Oakton would gradually swell.

More buildout of housing, more population density, more congestion. Hey, that’s right too!

I don’t think anyone disputes Caplan on these things. What they dispute is whether they want these outcomes. Increased real-estate values and increased population density are not somehow symmetrically neutral events, as regards the impact they have on peoples’ lives. They will perhaps improve the living conditions of some people, while others could fairly say that their lives would be harmed by such outcomes. As is true of most nontrivial policies.

The way we typically mediate policies with nontrivial, mixed effects is via the ballot box and the democratic-republican system. That is normal and it should be fine. The way this has worked for immigration is that we prefer it to be Non-Infinite rather than Infinite.

Okay, guys?

The only exceptions are supposed to be cases where one side’s preference in a policy debate is Disallowed by virtue of violating someone’s rights. That is not the case for immigration. (There is no universal right to immigrate anywhere you wish.) This doesn’t stop open-bordersers from pretending that there is, and it is precisely when they do that that I get most annoyed. But as for the rest of the discussion, I don’t think we have a material disagreement: open borders would, indeed, have effects like Boosting Home Values from the status-quo trajectory. Which almost by definition would help those who already have houses, and hurt those who don’t. So that’s what open-bordersers are arguing for. Bryan Caplan agrees with me on that.

Possibly the most important search term that’s ever found this blog

“was erin gray considered to be a bond girl?”

There are way too many layers to this question to suss out in a simple blog post so I think I’ll crowdsource the answer to this one.

Don’t get it: ‘the base’

I can’t remember if I’ve blogged this before or am just repeating myself after these 6-odd years of highly momentous, influential and lucrative RWCG blogging but there’s a piece of political terminology in very common usage which I really don’t get: ‘the base’.

‘The base’ of a political party is spoken of in weirdly self-contradictory terms. Everyone but me seems to instinctively know what it means. From listening to them I can gather these two things about ‘the base’:

1. They form the center, or most-assured foundation of support for the party. They are the most rabid, most ideological, most politically-involved, most motivated, most etc.

2. Politicians of a given party had better do what the ‘base’ of that party says. Politicians have to ‘appeal to’ them, or else. Or else what? Or else this ‘the base’ entity will revolt and, uh, decide not to vote for the party…that they are purportedly ‘the base’ of.

Tell me: how on earth does that make sense? How is that all not a contradiction?

To me, if they’re really ‘the base’, then they’re solid. They’re true-blue. Their vote will be there, rain or shine. There is no need to ‘appeal to’ or ‘pander to’ a base because a ‘base’, if it means anything, consists of the people who are already sold. You’d be preaching to the choir!

Yet commentators tell me again and again that this same group of people, this alleged ‘base’, is so fickle and so unreliable with their voting and support that all politicians of the party in question are constantly at risk of losing them at the drop of a hat to the point that it is an ongoing, overwhelming concern. If all of that is really true, you know what I say? THAT’S NOT ‘THE BASE’. That hypothetical group of people, if it exists, whatever else they are, doesn’t merit the description ‘base’.

It’s very common to hear that a politician is ‘pandering to the base’. I literally don’t understand how this can be true. I understand that politicians can pander, and I understand that anytime there is pandering happening, there have got to be panderees. But if so, they can’t be the damn ‘base’. What would be the point of ‘pandering’ to ‘the base‘? That’s a low-upside maneuver, a waste of effort. Right? Go do some high-leverage politicking and pander to people who still need to be won over and are winnable!

So I guess I don’t get it. What on earth is ‘the base’ supposed to mean?

UPDATE: From comments, the consensus appears to be that concerns about ‘the base’ are concerns about turnout. This ‘the base’ entity denotes people who might decide to turn out and vote, but also might not, depending on how inspired they are by the candidate. That’s all fine and the need to ‘pander to’ this group is obviously a very important dynamic in any election. But I humbly suggest that this group does not merit the descriptor ‘the base’. You can call them something like the marginals, or the iffys, or the periphery. A politician already has his ‘base’, and now he has to pander to the periphery in order to try to boost turnout above the base: do you see? How much more sense that makes? Maybe I’m just dumb but when you call this periphery ‘the base’ you just confuse me. And then, I don’t get it.

Repeal-and-replace – with Medicaid

I’ve asked this before but I’ll ask it again:

We are repeatedly being told that if some magic number of people have Signed Up For Obamacare (i.e. a barebones, possibly-subsidized Obamacare-compliant insurance plan that was purchased via the Obamacare-created ‘exchange’ (i.e. website)), that fact alone somehow makes it hard/impossible to repeal Obamacare. Why is this?

If the idea is that those people now form a constituency that is dependent on government for health insurance (whether they were or weren’t before), well yeah, but so what? There is already a well established government program for people that are dependent on government for health insurance, and it is called Medicaid. It can and will exist regardless of whether Obamacare is repealed**. Sometime in 2017, send all these people a letter: Dear [Sir/Madam], effective 12:01 a.m. on [June 30, 2017], the health insurance you purchased in 2014 will cease to be administered by [FlashInThePan RentSeeker InsCo.]. At that time your new insurance provider will instead be Medicaid. But don’t worry, all terms/conditions will remain the same, unless/until they are changed after that. [etc.]

What’s the problem exactly?

These ‘insurance’ plans are for the most part nothing but government-provided health insurance laundered through some private parties. What’s the big problem with just providing them the same thing via Medicaid directly. What’s so special about having it go through those insurance companies. Actually, with fewer middlemen, I ‘wouldthink’*** it would even be a cost saver.

The signups-mean-can’t-repeal position seems to be coming at this whole thing from a POV which conceives of ‘Obamacare’ as some kind of external entity which somehow independently and exogenously, and without needing financing, Supplies Healthcare Insurance To People. According to such a conception of things, then sure, just bringing all those people onto Medicaid would be, at least, a big deficit hit: it would be bringing onto the taxpayer’s balance sheet a bunch of liabilities that weren’t there before, and thus, it would be ‘hard’, and maybe even ‘impossible’.

But that’s an illusion, right? ‘Obamacare’ isn’t ‘supplying’ any insurance to people. Taxpayers (and fellow premium-payers, i.e., taxpayers) are the ones ‘supplying’ that insurance to others. People with Obamacare-supplied plans are already on the nation’s balance sheet as liabilities. Putting them on Medicaid ‘instead’ would just be a matter of trivially moving around line items, without materially changing the economics.

I mean, right? No? Then what am I missing?

**Don’t worry, I don’t expect Obamacare to be ‘repealed’ in a million years. This is largely an academic question I am asking.

***Yes, I am acknowledging there that this is an off the cuff analysis and I may not know what I’m talking about and there is probably something important that I’m missing. So what is it?

I’m a Liberal

Like David Henderson, I’m a liberal1.

1Ed. note: The author is using ‘liberal’ according to the original (real) definition of that term, not according to modern conversational version you may have heard and be more familiar with, according to which ‘liberal’ is used to denote a fascist.

Welfare program succeeds at giving out welfare, film at 11

WunderDataVox is still pointing to the Number Of Obamacare Signups as evidence of…something: Obamacare succeeded for one simple reason: it’s horrible to be uninsured

What has Obamacare ‘succeeded’ at exactly? Signups! You know, because the number (7 million something) was bigger than another number (7 million) that was arbitrarily laid down as a magic number benchmark of (something). And that’s all you need to know if you are part of the New, Data-Driven Journalism: ‘Success’!

Look. You created a welfare program (or something equivalent to one). The welfare program gives a nonzero amount of Money (or something equivalent) to a certain class of people. And so, lo and behold, some nonzero number of people, mostly drawn from that class, come ‘sign up’ for getting that Money. Is this fact, in itself, noteworthy? Is it surprising? Is it an achievement? Is it ‘success’?

Sure, if you are retarded.

Look, I can’t keep on doing this. It’s too much. Just wake me when the Obamacare discussion stops being retarded. Which is going to be a long sleep because that will be precisely never o’clock.

But do they “like-like” Obamacare?

Smart People are trumpeting a Gallup announcement today that states which ‘like Obamacare’ [sic] are reducing their, and have a far lower, percentage of ‘uninsured people’ than states which don’t ‘like’ [sic] Obamacare.

What is this ‘like’ vs ‘not like’ distinction they are referring to? It mostly boils down to ‘expanding Medicaid’:

…states expanding Medicaid have had faster growth in the public program than those that have opted not to participate. States that do not expand Medicaid…

News flash: Medicaid is a welfare program. It is welfare. ‘Expanding Medicaid’, if it means anything, means giving more people more welfare.

The other (secondary) reason cited is that the ‘like’-Obamacare states have set up ‘exchanges’ [sic] and people have ‘bought’ [sic], i.e. obtained subsidies to partially or almost-wholly pay for, insurance plans on those ‘exchanges’. Which is, in such cases, just another form of (disguised, apparently, though not if you think about it for more than 2 seconds) welfare.

So boil it down and we are being given the jejune information that states which have expanded welfare programs are able to engineer the (good?) result of more people being on welfare.

WOW!

It’s just that this information is being conveyed by everyone using different words, and so the listener – and perhaps even the speaker! – might not realize that this is what is being said. The most magic word involved here is ‘insurance’. ‘Getting people insured’ qua ‘insured’, regardless of details and cost and even the precise definition of what it means to be ‘insured’, is of course the Smart Person holy grail.

So fine. But what am I meant to cheer, or be impressed by, in this result? That is not so clear when you think about the actual mechanics of what has taken place.

What I gather has taken place in the states that ‘like’ [sic] Obamacare is this. Initially, some number of people were ‘uninsured’. To state this more neutrally, let’s think about what this means vis-a-vis their health care provision (which is what I actually care about; I don’t give a rat’s ass about ‘insurance’ as such): it means that if they needed health care, inevitably, it would be paid for one way or another by others – primarily, taxpayers. Then, they were given ‘insurance’ by Obamacare because their state ‘liked’ it. This either means they were (a) given Medicaid, i.e., will have their health care paid for by taxpayers, or (b) given a (presumably) subsidized ACA insurance plan on the exchange, i.e., will have their health care paid for by others – primarily, taxpayers.

In short: some number of people who previously had their health care paid for by taxpayers will now have their health care paid for by taxpayers. (But in, like, a different way, and with different paperwork.)

SUCCESS! Could anything be more obvious than that this miraculous transformation of these people from [being given taxpayer-funded health care] to [being given taxpayer-funded health care] must now be replicated at any cost all across the Union?

And if you disagree, you must not be a Smart Person.

Top men have made a plan. Top. Men.

Wonkblog says that the administration ‘has a plan’ to ‘avoid’ the Obamacare Risk Corridors becoming a ‘bailout’ (i.e. not really necessarily a bailout per se but costing taxpayers a lot of money nevertheless).

What is this ‘plan’? Let me boil it down for you:

1. Save any money it takes in, just in case it costs money later, and hope the saved money will be enough to cover any later liability (fingers crossed!)
2. Don’t pay early-year claimers all that’s owed to them under the corridor, promise it to them in yearly installments and hope that future years they’ll turn green anyway & we can net things out then.

This is a ‘plan’ to ‘avoid’ any possibility of a large taxpayer hit, you wonder? And the answer is a resounding no, according to the actual article:

So what happens if at the end of the three-year program, HHS hasn’t collected enough payments or it’s collected too much? Well, HHS doesn’t know yet what happens then

Um, what happens then is that (assuming that ‘hasn’t collected enough’ is the likely situation) taxpayers will either have to make good on the tranched insurance protection their wise Congressmen sold to insurance companies, or renege somehow. Or in colloquial terms, taxpayers will have to ‘bail out’ insurance companies to the tune of $X billion, for some unknown but possibly large and not even apparently bounded X.

And that’s the ‘plan’!

I’d hate to think what ‘no plan’ looks like.

I Don’t Understand Why Kathleen Sebelius Had To Resign

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortis whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Therefore, what’s the problem?

Or we can just look at her background. Wiki says she has a master’s degree in ‘Public Administration’. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

Then for the subsequent 30 years it looks like she’s been doing ‘jobs’ involving getting elected to stuff. So what more qualification do you need? How can we not have her in roles involving power and authority now?

I bet she even ‘leaned in’. Now granted this is just a conjecture on my part, but an educated one. I’m just saying that if you were a fly on a wall at one of the numerous meetings we presume she was always having about this and that at HHS, her ‘leaning’ posture was probably in rather than out. Maybe she even wore reading glasses (just a guess) and asked pointed questions like, ‘How are we doing on those timelines?’ and then nodded her head thoughtfully at the responses while checking her Blackberry.

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

Klein: We Won We Won Neener Neener

Der Wunderkinder: Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won

It’s a lovely mentality, isn’t it, that conceives of a policy as ‘winning’. Back in grownup-land, policies might succeed or fail, they might be costly or efficient, they are helpful or unhelpful, while all along they have distributional effects, they have subtle unintended consequences, and so on and so on.

But in Wunderkindia, it’s all about whether they ‘win’. It’s only about whether they ‘win’.

Maybe I’m being unfair though. Let’s dig into the 5th-grade-level prose that is apparently in conformance with Vox’s style guide to see what he means by ‘win’:

In other words, the law has won its survival. [...] And Sebelius can leave with her head held high. She can leave with the law she helped build looking, shockingly, like a success.

It’s ‘won’ its…survival. And therefore it’s a ‘success’ because…it will survive. The law existing means the law is successful means the law won.

But why did we want the law to exist? Why do we care that it ‘survives’? Do we even remember? (Something about ‘getting people insured’ qua insured regardless of cost no doubt)

When Obamacare supporters like Ezra Klein strike postures of foisting these policies because they care so much and want to improve lives, just remember that when the rubber meets the road all they really care about is their policy ‘winning’. They win and the bad guys lose.

If Obamacare has ‘won’, who has ‘lost’? The American middle class, obviously. Congratulations on your big ‘victory’ in raping the American middle class, I guess.

It’s us vs. them. It’s Smart People vs. the rabble dummies. It’s high school all over again.

Except for CLOs, of course

It’s morally and economically imperative for regulators to ban banks from doing trades regulators inconsistently and arbitrarily label as ‘prop trades’ unless banks complain that taking off those trades will lose them a lot of money and (gasp) widen spreads in the space in which case regulators should go ahead and unilaterally give them an arbitrary, extralegal ‘extension’ during which banks can just go ahead and disobey the morally and economically imperative law that was passed banning the activity and which is supposedly in effect.

What’s really going on here, you may wonder. Well CLOs are the one product from the Scary Three-Letter Acronym Family that ‘still work’ and so, nobody wants to rock the boat. Oh yes, the Volcker Rule surely was an intelligent rule based on informed judgment and sound, highly consistent principles.

Why do we want all people to be insured?

Why do we want so much for all people to ‘be insured’?

It’s not as if this is a recent development but it’s been getting under my craw lately just how much debate on Obamacare and health-care financing/distribution centers on the single, monolithic issue of how many people ‘are insured’. How exactly did this get to be the all-encompassing metric of everything towards which all of society’s rules ought to point?

I mean, what’s so great about ‘being insured’? For one thing this way of speaking ignores all the economically-meaningful details of whatever insurance one may have. $1/year premium and no deductible? $2000/month premium and $25k deductible? In both cases, the person ‘is insured’ and we’re supposed to rejoice (equally?).

Similarly, elevating ‘being insured’ to some kind of holy, sanctified, sought-after-at-any-cost status ignores ways of dealing with things that, nevertheless, don’t qualify as ‘insurance’ on technical grounds. We are constantly told that people who ‘weren’t insured’ would use the ER and Medicaid and whatnot. But now they will ‘have insurance’, so that’s better. But wait: why is that better? For whom? By what standard? No explanation is proffered. Who needs one? ‘Being insured’ is good and ‘not being insured’ bad, period, say all the Smart People. And nevermind the fact that (in a sense) all those people were ‘insured’, it just wasn’t by an insurance company, it was by taxpayers-and-whoever.

But I went too far with that ‘at-any-cost’ part, didn’t I? Cost is not even mentioned in the first place. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think that increasing the percentage of people who ‘are insured’ (whatever that means) by one basis point is worth spending X dollars – for any value of X whatsoever. The ledger of this retarded debate, as conducted by (retarded) Smart People, has only one side to it.

So I’ll ask again: why do we want to much for all people to ‘be insured’? It’s not obvious if you really think about it. Which few seem to.

Please oh please let Jonathan Pollard out of jail for some reason

There are a lot of people who totally care that this guy Jonathan Pollard is in jail & want him to be let out. These people don’t appear to dispute that Pollard committed the crimes for which he was convicted and imprisoned, they just want him to be let out. Such that from time to time (i.e., now appears to be another instance) Letting Jonathan Pollard Out Of Jail comes up in some sort of negotiation as a concession that party 1 could make to party 2 in order to coax party 2 to do whatever. Implicitly meaning that party 2 is among those people who totally care that this guy Jonathan Pollard is in jail & want him to be let out.

Could someone please explain why? There’s lotsa guys in jail you know. If and when Pollard finally is let out of jail as a (weird) concession to (weird) people, are we all gonna shift our focus to random jailed guy #2 for the next 30 years till he too is let out of jail as a (weird) concession? Who’s in line for #2, #3, etc.? Can we speed up these conversations a little and cut to the chase: why exactly should we let guilty and duly-convicted people serving lawful sentences out of jail?

I just don’t get it. Please explain. I’m not even really being facetious or sarcastic here. I literally don’t understand why anyone not directly related to this guy Jonathan Pollard would care that Jonathan Pollard is in jail for crimes he actually did commit, & would want him to be let out of jail despite having committed those crimes for some weird reason. I mean when I put it that way is there any rational way to explain? I don’t even think so. So why did I bother writing this post? Not the first time I’ve asked myself that.

UPDATE: Since I can see this question however seemingly straightforward is hard to answer on its own terms by the people I’m directing it at, here’s another angle you could try. Explain how freeing Jonathan Pollard is a ‘concession’ to the people it’s supposedly a concession to. Concession implies they get something out of it. So: what do the people who Want Pollard Freed For Some Reason get out of freeing Pollard? Are they planning to give him a big bear hug? And then what? Did he promise to come work on their farm or marry their daughter? Explain the ‘concession’ logic if you can. And sure, one way to explain it could be, ‘because we care about principle and freeing him accords with principle while keeping him in prison doesn’t’. But then you’ll have to explain what principle that would be exactly. Good luck,

Smart Religion

Accurate.

Gently correcting Sailer on ‘Nate Silver’

He writes:

I seem to be the only person in the world who has usually had mildly positive views of Silver.

Technically not 100% true. There’s also me.

During the 2012 election, he did a good job of making up a spreadsheet with weighted averages of the 90 or so different Presidential polls out there.

Sure did. But so did I. I’m also winning my March Madness pool BTW (basically same type of spreadsheet).

Anyway, Sailer does a good job of pointing out how the subject of ‘Nate Silver’ seems to just drive certain people crazy. I include myself here. For example, there’s this guy I’ve been seeing on the train lately who wears jeans on his way to work, sports closed-cropped brown hair, and wears glasses. And so of course, what do I think?

“Hey! That dude’s probably Nate Silver!”

Which is just crazy, of course. (But still could be kinda true?, whispers a voice in the back of my mind.) Nate, if that’s you, sorry I ignored you when you tried to make some funny comment to me. I was just too freaked out. Now, because I, like ‘Nate Silver’, am “Data-Driven”™, here’s a graph (which I trust will be self-explanatory):

silver

Discuss.

Open Borders is a morally imperative free-lunch, and also, it will have little measurable effect

Open-bordersers using utilitarian arguments need to argue that opening borders will necessarily lead to a materially-large influx of immigrants quickly. That’s because they need to point to a gigantic World-Utility-Function free-lunch gain supposedly to be had, and they need people to perceive it as so automatically large that it outweighs any doubts about the (dubious, and Large) calculation methods used to get there, not to mention whatever nativists’ petty and racist selfish concerns are (being unemployed, paying a lot of taxes, being victimized by criminals, etc.)

However, they also don’t want to spook non-open-bordersers too much, lest they lose the political battle. Gotta win arguments any way they can! So, for that purpose they will now apparently trot out arguments that – don’t worry, guys! – opening borders won’t necessarily lead to a materially-large influx of immigrants quickly, because you need a diaspora of some critical-mass size to already be there first. (This diaspora-necessity factor never having been mentioned before or alluded to, nor will it be, in the free-lunch argument, of course.)

So now you know: it will, but it also won’t. It all depends on which particular argument open bordersers are trying to make at the moment.

Wunderkindz on Teh Debt

Apparently this is the sort of output we can expect from wunderkind Ezra Klein and wunderkind Matthew Yglesiases’s new multimillion-dollar media outlet, which I assume is called “Wunderkindz”. (If it’s not, it should be.)

I have no reaction to it as the video is so mind bogglingly dumb and simplistic that it basically parodies itself. Or rather, J.D. Tuccille wrote my reaction already so I can outsource my blogging to him (thanks! I don’t really like blogging).

Did Ezra Klein really raise 8-digit funding to make news-oriented web cartoons pitched at people with the knowledge of 7 year olds? If so, well done sir. Bravo.

I Could Totally Be Saying Nate Silver Is Right Right Now

Being immune to whatever it is that made so many people so fascinated by the guy, I barely pay attention to ‘Nate Silver’ except via secondhand chatter/gripes, which is how I know he seems to have ticked off the left recently. Not sure how though, which is a damn shame, because as one of the few righties who defended (what I gathered about) Nate Silver back during the Great Silverbating Spasm of 2012, I have quite a lot of Consistency Points™ saved up. I could totally cash them in and trumpet – without being accused of opportunistic bandwagonesque thinking – whatever Silver is saying that the left is so peeved about, if only I knew what the heck it was. Ah well. I never was a very good blogger.

Stopped Clocks

I agree with Kevin Drum:

And what has Russia gotten in return? Ten thousand square miles of territory that, nationalistic pride aside, mostly represents a political and economic drain on the state. That Putin sure is a master geopolitical strategist, isn’t he?

I dunno, it’s just such a rare event that it seemed worth noting.

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