Monthly Archives: December 2022


My wife, who rises earlier than I do because she has the morning dog-walking duties, woke me the other day to tell me that Thatcher was not moving.

Thatcher is a Goldendoodle or “Groodle,” a species developed in the 1990s by crossing a Golden Retriever with a Poodle. She joined our family about the same time our youngest child graduated high school and headed off to college. Thanks to Thatcher, we did not become empty-nesters.

The previous day, my wife had taken her on a five mile hike. That night, she lay by my feet in the living room, asleep by the fire, while I binged on White Lotus. When I got up to go to bed, I stepped over her carefully and wished her a good night. Sometime that night, she had stirred, moved to our bedroom, lain down, and died quietly without disturbing us.

When my wife woke me, Thatcher was lying beside our bedroom door, facing toward the patio. It appeared that she had been thinking of going out. Instead, she died as she had lived, causing no trouble.

She was just shy of 13, a long life for a dog.

Thatcher had the sweetest disposition an animal could have. She was visibly overjoyed when anyone – friend, relative, postman, deliveryman — rang the bell. She raced to the door to welcome the visitor and to ascertain by a hurried nasal inspection where he had recently been, whether he had pets, and whether he was carrying treats. She held a firm conviction that any creature walking on two legs was put on Earth to play with her.

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Filed under Culture


No sooner had WNBA star Brittney Griner and convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout crossed paths on the tarmac at the Abu Dhabi airport than the debate began in this country: Was the United States fleeced when it gave up Bout for Griner, while leaving former Marine Paul Whalen behind?

The arguments on both sides have been fervid, often verging on the vituperative. Critics say Griner was not worth the trade. They have referenced the time she refused to come out of the locker room for the national anthem; “Brittney Griner Hates America” is trending. On the other side, supporters of the deal have blamed “pay inequity” for Griner’s arrest, arguing that sexism compels WNBA athletes to play in hostile countries like Russia to earn extra income. Some have also mentioned that Whalen is no angel; he received a “bad conduct” discharge from the Marines, due to larceny.

All this sniping misses the point. The swap’s significance transcends Griner, Bout, and Whalen. It even transcends Russia. The trade is a symptom of a new and dangerous form of warfare being waged against this country by several foreign governments: seizing and holding American citizens to humiliate the United States and to advance these nations’ foreign policy objectives.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Law