Dean Clough

March 21, 2022

Portico Darwin: Sunshine and Rainbows

In this grim (but miraculously mostly unified) world, let's look at how the catastrophe in Ukraine could end positively.  While the horrific slaughter of Ukrainian civilians can never be corrected or forgotten, this could all end OK - hear me out.  As I've said once or twice before, you've got to dream it before you can live it. 


Putin Withdraws
He is losing this war, and despite killing hundreds of innocent people in Ukraine, Putin is losing badly.  His vaunted army is running out of food, gas, and hope.  They're getting massacred in Ukraine by a population determined to a man/woman/child not to live under a repressive dictatorship.  It looks like Putin can't win a ground war nor an occupation against such a resilient foe.  So the madman Putin uses mustard gas in Kyiv and detonates a couple of tactical nuclear weapons as a bonus?


Instead, I'm afraid we (actually, Ukraine) are going to have to suck it up and give the evil Putin a way to pull back yet save face, if only in his own broken mind.  He will remain in power but the war will end.  Putin's terms are fairly well-known and while most wonder why anything must be conceded, they aren't entirely onerous.

  • Ukraine should be neutral and should not apply to join NATO.  Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has already conceded this, and it is accepted wisdom.  Joining the EU is a different story and likely a bone of contention.

  • Ukraine would have to undergo a disarmament process to ensure it wasn’t a threat to Russia. 

  • Putin gets to keep the Russian-speaking and pro-Russian Donbas region.

  • Ukraine formally accepts that Crimea belongs to Russia.

But won't this demonstrate weakness, and thus Vladimir Putin will be tempted to do it all again?  No, because that's where the sanctions come in, or more precisely, the rate at which they're removed.  The monstrous sanctions imposed are the lever in all of this - they've ruined the Russian economy and will continue to do so until removed by the US and its unified allies.

(OK, the ultimate fantasy would be if Putin were arrested by his inner circle and brought to justice in The Hague.  In that case, few, if any, concessions by Ukraine would be necessary.  But this post is called "Sunshine and Rainbows", not "Sunshine and Rainbows and a Private Jet for Portico Darwin".)

So, the first war in Europe in our lifetimes ends and we can now really have fun.  It's go time.

Can You Say "Endemic"?

Yes, I know.  I read the news, too, and I am hearing of yet another variant.  But it's Omicron-based and from what I've seen, the pros aren't too worried.  I am firmly in the "give me a 4th shot and let's party" camp.

Seriously:  I think the combination of vaccines/boosters, the immunity from a previous Covid infection, and the treatments coming online now all together mean Covid-19 can be thought of as another flu strain.  Or at least no more dangerous than driving a car.

Lower Inflation
With the war in Ukraine over and most of the world (but damn it China - start using our vaccines) in an endemic state of mind, global supply chain problems will finally begin to unwind.  With that - coupled with the action The Federal Reserve is taking - inflationary pressures will ease. 

(I remain puzzled, though, by how long The Fed kept the peddle down - way down - in terms of a super-loose monetary policy.  It was historic and it started before the pandemic.  I'm not even sure if they ever stopped the shenanigans that began after the 2008 Financial Crisis?   That, coupled with the trillions in fiscal stimulus ladled on by Congress during the pandemic, and now the war, has us nearing double-digit inflation for the first time in generations.  But I join most actual experts in predicting the inflation wave has crested.)

Energy Security is Now a Thing
Right?  As if the climate crisis weren't enough, having a tyrant like Putin control a lot of the fuel taps is not a great idea.  One could argue we wouldn't be here in the first place if the world, and Europe in particular, had not been so eager to make Putin and his cronies crazy-rich by guzzling down Russia's oil and gas.

And really, can we wait much longer?  I say electrify now, and tell me again why we can't have a national program to build small, modern, and safe nuclear power plants to provide a lot of the electric power?

China Gets it Now & Leaves Taiwan Alone
I think China seeing what's happened to Russia is a great wake-up call for them.  China has elevated millions out of poverty and firmly into the middle class via a stable national and global economy, a lot it of driven by Chinese manufacturing might.  The improved living standards keeps the population pacified, despite being ruled by a dictatorship not a lot more wonderful than Putin's. 

But if China were to roll into Taiwan as part of their "One China" fantasy, they could expect sanctions equal in the breadth and depth of what Russia received.  They don't want that, especially now that they've seen how the world has reacted in unison to completely isolate Russia economically.  While China has greased too many palms around the world to become that much of a pariah, they'd come close.

(And remember:  China could end the war in Ukraine tomorrow, if they put the right kind of pressure on Putin.  China and India are about all Russia has left.)

The Big Dream
And the big dream:  it reminds all Americans what's at stake and what our leadership means to the world.  Perhaps we could dust off the plans for The Statue of Responsibility, after all.

I will conclude by asking you to ponder if Trump were in office today.  No, his puppetmaster Putin would not have invaded Ukraine.  Instead, China would have invaded Taiwan.

How do you think Trump would have handled such a situation?  As well as Biden has dealt with Russia's invasion of Ukraine?  I am hopeful we've all learned from these past years that leadership still matters and that elections definitely matter.  We all must take responsibility for that.

From someone I fantasize as a reader of this newsletter, here's a great take on the powerful video by Arnold Schwarzenegger I shared last Friday.


Fresh off his triumphant exhibition in San Francisco, the famed artist Charles Clough took time away from his studio to read my post on Friday about helping Ukraine and sent along a hardy 

"Good one!"

Thanks, cuz.  Man, was it fun working with Charlie on our art project!  This was during his recent visit.


Next up, I was thrilled to hear I helped Fi Deuce and her Dad support Ukraine.  

 "My dad and I have been trying to figure out how to help and now it is getting there so thank you!" 

Fi, you're very welcome.  But does hubby Hunter not want to send something along, too?  Maybe some schwag from The Final Final?  Actually, bartender Tim's cold stares could be a valuable weapon . . .

Although this has been a happy-go-lucky post, Steven Simon and I would like to remind you about the fucking cretin that is Marjorie Taylor Greene.  The Chicago A-lister sent this along.

"Have you seen this?  I don't think I've ever seen one of her tweets before (I don't follow Twitter).  I'll give her the folksy grammar issues . . . but 'commander and chief'?  She makes Sarah Palin seem brilliant."

Tell me again how this person is in the US Congress?  But how about this as a dream presidential ticket:  Sarah Palin and Marjorie Taylor Greene!   Perhaps Matt Gaetz could be National Security Advisor?

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


You're getting an incredible bonus here today on KLUF.  Just because their incredible song "Optimistic" fits today's tone so perfectly, you are getting my personally curated collection of the best songs by the monumental Radiohead.  They are of course Diamond Certified, and I could make the argument they are the single best band in the past 30 years - listen to all 39 of these tracks and then let me know your thoughts.


But are they perhaps the last of a dying breed of mega bands?  U2, Coldplay, Radiohead and their ilk - will any musicians ascend to a throne now mostly abdicated, willingly or not? 

KLUF is full of surprises today.  Here is an absolutely incredible and recent interview with Stewart Copeland, the second best rock drummer in history. 

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.