The Pull Out Method

A year ago, Putin invaded Ukraine. Here's how I covered the story. Plus, this week's news.

The Pull Out Method

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Hey Friends,

Good morning to everyone except those brandishing their nuclear powers.

This past week, Russian President Vladimir Putin pulled out of the New START Nuclear Arms Treaty in a 45-minute address roughly translated as saying "I'm good" to the rest of the world. The rudest way of turning something down.

A year ago, Putin invaded Ukraine. I covered the story before it happened and immediately after – but with jokes. In response to criticism, I wrote an article about why I use humor to talk about tough topics. I'm going to revisit that topic with some additional thoughts today.

I'll get to that in a minute...

But first, let's get to The News.

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Hot Takes

Week 08 of 2023

Biden in Kyiv

This week, Joe Biden visited an active warzone in Kyiv, Ukraine, followed by a brief trip to connect with other NATO allies. Biden said the U.S. and allies would “have Ukraine’s back.” Evidently, the trip took more than a year to plan, which makes sense because it's widely understood that people move slower at his age, but in all seriousness, the trip was shrouded in secrecy, understandably, because of the sensitive nature of bringing the President into a foreign warzone, which is unprecedented. The trip sends a strong message about US support for Ukraine and for its allies in general. (more)

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin conducted some diplomatic activities of his own, meeting with various foreign partners, including hosting the top Chinese diplomat, Wong Gai, in Moscow. To be clear, his name was not Wong Gai but actually Wang Yi, but the foreign minister was referred to as the "wrong guy" (in an accent) when Putin asked for the country's full support. A follow-up conversation is expected to happen when Putin meets with President Xi Jinping during his planned visit to Russia. According to Biden, Putin suspending the nuclear treaty is a "big mistake" and "not responsible," but we know the pull out method never really works anyway. (more)

Jared and Ivanka

The power couple has finally gotten a reality show, which, unfortunately, isn't renovating a house in a matter of days (unless it's to hide evidence of treason or something). No, it's a show before a federal grand jury. Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have been subpoenaed by the special counsel to testify about Donald. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election and his role in the January 6th attack on the Capital. Although the two have already testified before the House select committee, this subpoena comes with much more of a sense of expectation. Friends of Jar-Vanka have shared books with them like "What to Expect When You're Expecting to Testify before a Grand Jury." (more)  

Ohio Train

A court order went into effect yesterday, requiring Norfolk Southern (the train operator) to identify and clean up the entire mess. And let me tell you, I've raised two kids, and I know they will never clean up as well as you want them to, but they need to learn. For cleanup, the company has earmarked just under 1/1000th of what they are spending on stock buybacks to benefit its shareholders. According to the crew, they did try to slow down the train before the derailment, but it's been reported that they were trying to avoid spilling their coffee. Instead, they spilled 115,580 gallons of toxic vinyl chloride and 3 cups of coffee. (more)

Tucker Sunshine

Kevin McCarthy gave Tucker Carlson exclusive access to thousands of hours of security footage from inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. McCarthy told the press, "I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment.” not realizing that Tucker doesn't like being called sunshine. In addition to security secrets related to the capital, the videos also help expose Kevin McCarthy's campaign strategy. (more)

Related: Communications from Fox News were submitted as part of a court filing by Dominion Voting indicating that they are not a news organization. (more)

Another Quake

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake and a second measuring 5.8 have hit Turkey’s southern province of Hatay this week, just two weeks after larger quakes caused over 44,000 deaths. (more)

That's it for the news. Now here's The Gist.

A Year Later. And Too Soon.

The Gist

One year ago this week, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, I published an article to summarize the events that was both serious and tongue-in-cheek, titled "The British Invasion was better." And it's true, it was. The Beatles land in the number one spot for record sales, selling 600 million units worldwide – more than any other artist. This is an easy call when you compare "Special Military Operation" to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

My take on the invasion was presented with a tweet picturing a friend with his hands on a coveted find for bourbon lovers, a bottle of Blanton's, with me behind him looking duped. In full meme style, the image indicated the smug loot-bearing character was Russia, and the figure looking swindled was Ukraine. In essence, I was calling Russia a dick, and I guess, also my friend by proxy (he's a reader who may be unsubscribing today after this post).

The issue drew more response than most, with one reader questioning whether I was being uncouth by using humor about something so serious. I responded personally as I do to all readers, but I took the reader's comments to heart, even if I shrugged my shoulders after. I wrote an article in response to explain why I believe humor is important.

I publish this on the anniversary of the original post as the Russian war in Ukraine continues. This week, Vladimir Putin pulled out of the New Start nuclear treaty, a decision that is laughable in its own right, even if it's not a joke. But is it too soon to make light of it? I'll admit for my whole life, I've been quick to the draw. As I said a year ago:

For no less than four decades, I’ve been doing my best to put my money where my mouth is. Unfortunately, sometimes that can mean I need to wrap my money around my foot. Not because of any bad nail-biting habits or strange fetishes but because I pair frank speech with candy-coated commentary to deliver a meaningful message.

Timing is everything, and I can assure you that if I know the iron is hot, it’s my policy to strike immediately.

I've been known to speak too soon everywhere, from business meetings to funerals. It's my job to lighten the mood when people are thinking too hard, but to make you think even if you're laughing too hard. Regardless, I'm no stranger to the butt side of a joke, either.

Life can be funny, though. Sometimes you’re the joker, and sometimes you’re the joke.

I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of ridicule as well, but it hasn’t phased me too much because you can’t dupe the duper anymore than you can cape the caper. And while you can jest the jester just as much as the next guy, I’m no stranger to a jolt of reality.  

My catch has been 22’d, and my quag has been mired as much as anyone's. But such is life. That’s why Alanis Morissette said, and I quote, “Isn’t it ironic?”. She knew that life is filled with enough negativity as it is. And we should just take that as a given.

In short, I've had more than my share of short ends, but I'd rather have a short end of a stick than one up my butt because joy comes from not letting envy be its thief.

Even the Mayo Clinic agrees that laughter relieves stress. But often, prudes and newsletter readers insist we refrain from humor when we need it most. As someone who overcame trauma with humor, for me, it has always been a lifeline. And not just that. As I've said before, "everyone is looking for happiness, but most people will only find what their itching eyes will let them see. But the thing is, in life, it's a lot like looking for your phone. Most of the time, it’s in your hand."

But the central message is this. More than laughter, we need to take our medicine, and that has never been easy. I'll close with what I consider one of the most important things I've ever written (although at this pace, that may be challenged time and again).

"I believe we need good medicine, and some medicine is hard to swallow, but we need to take it nonetheless. Laughter, however, is the best medicine, and that makes the former go down better."

That good medicine that I'm referring to is the medicine that points out that gun rights kill people even if the policy solution is not easy. The medicine that reminds us that democracy is fragile and we have to do something about it. The medicine that reminds us that climate change is expensive and we'll all need to make some changes.

These can be the most divisive issues of our day, igniting wars in congress and at Thanksgiving, but they are issues that we need to dive into. We better be prepared to have a few laughs while getting through it all. After all, it's been a year of Putin jokes, and it's still unclear if we're not inching toward a world war. But if we do, let's hope it's not one with ourselves.

That's it for this week.

If you made it to the end, thanks for reading. You mean a lot to me. Thanks for supporting my work.

Have a great weekend!

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