Daily Bread for 3.21.21

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 65.  Sunrise is 6:53 AM and sunset 7:09 PM, for 12h 15m 18s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 49% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. leads 3,200 people on the start of the third and finally successful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Anne Applebaum, 12.19.19, writes The False Romance of Russia (‘American conservatives who find themselves identifying with Putin’s regime refuse to see the country for what it actually is’):

Sherwood Eddy was a prominent American missionary as well as that now rare thing, a Christian socialist. In the 1920s and ’30s, he made more than a dozen trips to the Soviet Union. He was not blind to the problems of the U.S.S.R., but he also found much to like. In place of squabbling, corrupt democratic politicians, he wrote in one of his books on the country, “Stalin rules … by his sagacity, his honesty, his rugged courage, his indomitable will and titanic energy.” Instead of the greed he found so pervasive in America, Russians seemed to him to be working for the joy of working.

Above all, though, he thought he had found in Russia something that his own individualistic society lacked: a “unified philosophy of life.” In Russia, he wrote, “all life is focused in a central purpose. It is directed to a single high end and energized by such powerful and glowing motivation that life seems to have supreme significance.”

Eddy was wrong about much of what he saw. Joseph Stalin was a liar and a mass murderer; Russians worked because they were hungry and afraid. The “unified philosophy of life” was a chimera, and the reality was a totalitarian state that used terror and propaganda to maintain that unity. But Eddy, like others in his era, was predisposed to admire the Soviet Union precisely because he was so critical of the economics and politics of his own country, Depression-era America. In this, he was not alone.


But in the 21st century, we must also contend with a new phenomenon: right-wing intellectuals, now deeply critical of their own societies, who have begun paying court to right-wing dictators who dislike America. And their motives are curiously familiar. All around them, they see degeneracy, racial mixing, demographic change, “political correctness,” same-sex marriage, religious decline. The America that they actually inhabit no longer matches the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant America that they remember, or think they remember. And so they have begun to look abroad, seeking to find the spiritually unified, ethnically pure nations that, they imagine, are morally stronger than their own. Nations, for example, such as Russia.

 Masha Gessen writes How Joe Biden Rattled Vladimir Putin:

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have been having an unusually lively exchange. On Wednesday, in a televised interview, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he knew Putin and if he thought he was a killer. Biden responded, “Hmm, I do,” which most observers interpreted as a yes to both questions. Biden also twice promised that Putin would face repercussions, both for attempting to interfere in the 2020 election, on behalf of Donald Trump, and for being a killer. In response, Russia recalled its U.S. Ambassador to Moscow for consultations—a diplomatic move that says, “We are not talking to you.”

But then Russia kept talking to the United States. Putin wished Biden good health. On Thursday, Putin said, “Now, for the statement of my American colleague: How would I respond to him? I would say to him, ‘Be healthy.’ ” He smiled. “I wish him health. I say this without irony. This is not a joke.”


It’s rare for Putin to spend this much time speaking directly to the camera, apparently unscripted, on a single issue. One gets the feeling that he will be coming back to this topic in the days to come. Such is the effect on Putin of the U.S. President saying something that’s true, even if it’s just “Hmm, I do.”

(Ignorant commentators on Fox News think Putin’s replies are a sign of his strength. Gessen – a Russian-born American who has studied Putin – knows better: Putin has responded from weakness, repeatedly and agitatedly, after Biden’s three simple, truthful words.)

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