Youngkin racks up national level talent while in Washington, the Biden administration is contemplating turning Ukraine into Syria.
First things first.
Daily Caller has an article on how Republican governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s new selection for Secretary of Education was the founder and CEO of Data Quality Campaign (DQC) — an organization which collected data on public schoolchildren including their class schedules, grades, and other data in order to provide metrics to enhance student performance at a policy level.
The firm was so successful that Bill Gates threw $26 million at DQC, which like most corporate firms included some hat-tip to the wokeisme — my new favorite word — drive for equity . Which might offend me if not for the fact that every institution seems to have bent the knee to these modern-day Jacobins in order not to be cancelled, looted, spat upon, and so forth.
Obviously the Daily Caller wants me to be outraged.
Equally clear is that data and reason are two very scary words for woke progressive who believe both to be inherently racist functions of the white patriarchy.
So perhaps I’m not terribly exercised over this gotcha moment. After all, we can only test what we measure — which is what our Standards of Learning (SOLs) are designed to do and why they are so viscerally hated by the Virginia Education Association (VEA) whose mission nowadays seems to be to push parents away from children and then lament how student performance is lagging.
In fact, maybe we want more data and analytics. Yes, it can be done in a manner that protects privacy. Yes, we all know that education in Virginia requires better analytics. Yes, we know that charter schools and school choice must be a part of this schematic.
What scares the political left — of course — is that metrics mean that we get to hold a system that spends $12,000 per pupil each year to task.
In short, data and metrics are good. They are the two things that send shivers of fear up the spine of any bureaucrat. That we have an expert and innovator in the field at the helm of Virginia’s education system? One could imagine some public relations staffer clapping hands at the fact they got the story run in the conservative Daily Caller, but the fact of the matter is that Guidera’s approach with metrics is a sorely missing piece of education reform — and not just in Virginia.
If standards matter, data matters. Simple as that.
Cummings To Serve as Secretary of Finance of the Commonwealth of Virginia
From the Youngkin press team:
“Lowering taxes and restoring fiscal responsibility in Richmond is a primary focus of our Day One Game Plan, and Steve’s experience and expertise will help make sure we deliver real results for Virginians. Steve shares my vision of respecting Virginians’ hard-earned tax dollars and ensuring the Commonwealth’s budget is managed effectively and efficiently, and he has the skillset and leadership qualities that our team needs to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin.
Steve Cummings, a leader in Finance in the United States and abroad, and most recently President and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) in the Americas, will join the Youngkin Administration as the Commonwealth’s next Secretary of Finance.
Prior to his role at MUFG, Steve served as Chairman of UBS’s Investment Banking division in the Americas, served as Global Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Wachovia Bank, and at Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co. where he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
There are a few things that are striking me about these cabinet appointments so far:
- They are truly independent of the Virginia political class. None of these names with the notable exception of Caren Merrick have even touched Virginia politics in any serious or tangible way. Richmond insiders will argue that this means they will not have the relationships required to get things done. Washingtonians will note that Youngkin probably sees this as a plus — and what’s more, the independence means they cannot be bullied.
- Each of these picks could be a governor in their own right. Cummings is a former CEO of Mitsubishi Financial Group. Merrick is a former tech CEO who is devoted to developing leaders and not just cogs in an economic machine. Guidera isn’t just a reformer, but one on the same lines as Michelle Rhee  who famously took on the District of Columbia’s failing school system. These aren’t just accomplished people — these are nationally accomplished people.
- None of them are overtly political; thus far, all of them are technocrats. Successful technocrats, one might add. People who like developing systems and then watching them work.
- Gravitas. Here’s where the whole concern of relationships and access goes by the wayside. Youngkin is building a center of gravity here, not just doling out appointments to people who did him favors in 2021. These are serious people, with serious backgrounds, and serious experience that make people serious about government… well… positively giddy.
Of course, there are a few pitfalls. Relationships do matter in Virginia. The bureaucracy isn’t precisely friendly to Republicans and hasn’t been since Reconstruction — yet it will yield to competent operators. House Republicans — eager to co-operate with the new governor — will still have to take on
the House of Lords the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate — and as General Jim Mattis reminds his Marines, the enemy (sic) does get a vote.
US Army Creates Vaccine That Kills All SARS Variants, Including COVID
I read a ton of Tom Clancy as a kid. So my imagination as to what the US military can do when they put their minds to it is somewhat exceeded by my actual experiences with the US military.
Nevertheless, the announcement that we are indeed going to get a vaccine that works on everything  is damn well needed and on time:
The achievement is the result of almost two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. Very early on, Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well.
While I’m a fan of mRNA vaccines — mostly because they do not require the use of HEK-293 in either the testing or development of the vaccine — the idea of endless boosters make it seem like the medical equivalent of duct tape.
Hats are off to the men and women at Walter Reed Army Medical.
Just In Case You Really Want to Get Your Blood Boiling…
It appears as if Russia will be invading Ukraine in the next two months — we should know when things are close when the Ukrainians activate their reserves, which for having 100,000 Russian soldiers at their doorstep, the Ukrainian government seems rather content to sit back and fight this war to the very last American.
Of course, Ukraine is not a part of NATO — but Lithuania is. With a plurality of Russian forces parked in Yelnya (north of Ukraine, east of Belarus) the question becomes as to whether the Russians stop with the primarily Russian-speaking majorities in southern and eastern Ukraine, whether they go all the way to the Polish border and bypass the small NATO units training the Ukrainian army, or whether they do something more daring and invade Lithuania — thus linking Kaliningrad with the rest of the Union State.
The Biden administration to date has settled on further antagonizing the Russian government, sending Stinger missiles to Poland and Romania while continuing to send mixed messages of additional sanctions. This while the Biden administration — now regretting their withdrawal from Afghanistan — is now considering the unthinkable :
“The administration task force, which includes the CIA and other key agencies, has been studying how insurgencies were organized against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Russian-backed forces in Syria—and also against the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s an ironic example of turning the tables, weighing whether and how to inflict harm similar to what U.S. forces have suffered in recent years.”
The madness and sheer immorality of this policy defy polite description.
As historian John Keegan writes about the partisan conflict in Yugoslavia in his book The Second World War, stories of heroic resistance fighters stoically accepting retaliatory massacres of civilians by occupation forces in order to carry on with their raids “read well on the page,” the reality of such glorious tales is simply horrific. Ukraine has endured such circumstances before, both during the Nazi occupation and the Holodomor of the 1930s, when Soviet occupiers sought to crush Ukrainian aspirations by brutally enforcing the starvation of millions of people. Yet apparently such is the fate that the polished ladies and gentlemen of the Biden administration are willing to contemplate for Ukraine.
Biden could prevent any invasion of Ukraine with one simple step.
In 2008 when Russian troops were on the verge of entering Tbilisi, the US Navy sent fewer than 100 personnel into the city as observers. This stopped the Russian army cold in Georgia after they reimposed their will on South Ossetia and Abkhazia — both autonomous Russian enclaves post-1991 that then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili  attempted to forcibly reinclude over the objections of the Bush administration and the Russian government.
Yet Biden won’t do this. Instead, the intention will be to allow the Russian government to invade the Ukraine after a US-sponsored “democratic revolution” in Kiev in 2014 and then feed any Ukrainian resistance movement with money, weapons, ammunition and explosives as they rip one another apart.
The result? Civilian casualties and years of violence designed to bleed the Russians dry and push them further into the arms of the Chinese government.
So the wider question becomes this. The Russian government understands that every day that goes by erodes their advantage in the Ukraine. If the decision for war has been made, why not go the maximum distance? Or better still, if the Russians are willing to bleed for Kiev and NATO is not willing to bleed for Kiev, then what logic permits Moscow to believe that Americans will bleed for Vilnius, Riga, or Tallinn? Or Germans, Italians or French for that matter?
The cynical approach of allowing the Ukrainian people to bleed in a Syrian-style civil war in order to deny the Russian Federation their near abroad strikes me as one of the more cold-blooded calculations one can consider — though the Obama administration certainly did not blink in Syria or Libya as protracted civil wars destroyed both countries. The Obama/Biden policy of “democratic uprisings” in Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia and elsewhere has been devastating for civilian populations, fueling much of the European migrant crisis and destabilizing North Africa, the Middle East and the Ukraine — including efforts to topple Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015  in an instance of meddling in elections.
There are 43 million people living in the Ukraine, roughly divided between pro-Russian and pro-EU camps. Does anyone truly believe thrusting 43 million people into a state-sponsored civil war exemplifies the very best of the Western liberal democratic tradition? Or are we tipping our hand just a touch to reveal that at core, the powers-that-be are just as totalitarian and authoritarian — and violent — as their perceived enemies?
Perhaps the US and EU should cut some cards here and realize that a strong Russia is far preferable to a weak Russia , insofar as a strong Russia will not balkanize into a Yugoslavia-style civil war over 1/6th of the globe (with nukes). That driving the Russian government into the arms of the Chinese Communists is a geopolitical mistake we should be working overtime to correct. Surely a strong Russia puts the European Union on notice, yet for the last 30 years we have done everything in our power to antagonize the Russian Federation — breaking promises and pushing the frontiers of NATO from the West German border to the gates of St. Petersburg and even the cradle of the Russian people.
The hard math is that the Russians will bleed for Kiev in a way that the American public will not bleed for Kiev. This is the only calculus Moscow requires. Surely there are better ways to resolve the crisis in the Ukraine rather than plunging 43 million people into the maw of a state-sponsored insurgency. That such a solution is even being considered suggests the moral bankruptcy of this Biden White House is far deeper than previously imagined — though I am sure those who were left to the tender mercies of the Taliban in Kabul need no reminders.