Foreign Policy

Here’s Why


Take a look at this downloadable PDF map of NATO countries – they’re the ones in BLUE and follow along.

Putin has made it clear that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was not WW I, WW II or the 1918 influenza pandemic, each of which killed millions of people. No, he’s certain that the fall of the Soviet Union was the very worst thing that happened over those 100 years. He has dedicated his grandiosity to reconstructing that paragon of repression and cruelty or perhaps creating something even more dreadful. I’m sure that in his dreams he hears the sound of Soviet tanks crushing the pavement of the streets of downtown Budapest and has visions of Khrushchev pounding his peasant shoe on a lectern at the United Nations, where Putin hopes to pound his Gucci loafers.

He claimed there are lots of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which means, he says, that Ukraine isn’t a real country, but rather, it’s part of Russia. Using that logic, San Francisco should be ceded to the Chinese, Montreal should become the property of France and Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should surrender to Mexico.

In 2014 Putin grabbed the entire Crimean peninsula and large swaths of the Donbas, the southeastern part of Ukraine. That’s where you can find the rubble that was the city of Mariupol. That’s where you can still find Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, with its hundreds, perhaps thousands of wounded fighters and noncombatants who can’t get food or medical supplies, who can’t get out and who the Russians bomb every day.

When the brutalizing of Ukraine started I said that the Moldovans must be shaking in their shoes because surely they would be next. Sadly, Putin is proving me to have been right. He has announced that he will sweep up the entire east and south of Ukraine all the way to Moldova, where he’s already dropped bombs. Moldova has no army, although they do have a few traffic cops, so stopping Putin’s thugs will be more than difficult for them.

Go back to that NATO map and look at the countries in GREEN that border Russia. These are nations that are not NATO member countries. Looking north from Ukraine and you’ll find:

Belarus

Finland

Sweden

Counter-clockwise from Ukraine there are:

Georgia

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Kazakhstan

The southern “-stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Left off this list are Mongolia, China and Afghanistan. Surely, not even Putin is dumb enough to invade China or Mongolia. Or Afghanistan – again.

Finland and Sweden are likely to become NATO members by June. But the rest of the GREEN countries would be easy pickings for Putin. Belarus is already a vassal state and he can gobble up the rest without fear of a direct confrontation with NATO.

If you were the leader of any of these GREEN countries, what might you be thinking about NATO membership right now? Maybe that you’ve waited a bit too long to request membership?

Putin thinks that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are legitimate parts of Russia, just like his claim about Ukraine, but they are NATO member countries. I suspect that it’s in these Baltic states where the inevitable Russian confrontation with NATO will occur. Putin and the world will quickly learn whether Article 5 of the NATO Charter means anything. Meanwhile, here’s the reason for this geography lesson.

The U.S. is in the process of authorizing another $33 billion of aid to Ukraine and some are asking why we would spend our treasure this way. After all, they say, this is Ukraine’s war, not ours. That’s where I and many others disagree.

Set aside the humanitarian imperative to help people who are suffering or the important need to right a wrong. It’s more solidly connected to self-interest than that.

Putin’s actions threaten the entire world. He’s upsetting the carefully crafted and tended political peace and economic order that have lasted since 1945. That threatens America.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their democracy, their freedom and their independence. Those are the same reasons every one of those GREEN countries will resist. But they can be picked off one at a time by Putin’s inept but numerically overwhelming forces and his threats of chemical and nuclear war. So, the world either stops Putin in Ukraine or we will have to fight him in the next country and then the next and the next. There will be no appeasement of this monster. Reference: Neville Chamberlain’s Munich appeasement of Hitler in 1938. That didn’t work out too well for the Brits or for the world and attempting to appease Putin would be a similar disaster.

The Ukrainians’ struggle is an existential fight for all democracy and freedom in the world and if Putin isn’t stopped there this will eventually become our own fight. We can either help to stop Putin in Ukraine or we’ll have to stop him later as he directly threatens our own shores.

That’s why.
.

And that begs the question of why Representatives Biggs (AZ), Taylor Greene (GA), Bishop (NC), Gaetz (FL), Gosar (AZ), Norman (SC), Massie (KY), Perry (PA), Tiffany (WI) and Davidson (OH), all Republicans, voted against the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. They and others also voted against the resolution of support for Moldova. Just guessing that they’ll vote against the additional $33 billion of aid for Ukraine requested by President Biden. And they’ll do so with the enthusiastic support of the supreme, authoritarian loving, Putin and Viktor Orbán suck up, Tucker Carlson.

Here’s the key question:

If all those Ukrainians are doing the fighting and dying so we don’t have to, why would these elected officials oppose supporting them?
.
President Biden’s Call To Action
.

“We’re calling on all Americans to pony up all the necessary military and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for all freedom loving people. That’s good, and it isn’t enough.

“Because of Putin’s war, there will be precious little agricultural output from Ukraine this year. That country was formerly the supplier of 10% of the world’s wheat, and that’s just a placeholder for all the disruption of food supplies the world will see this year. That’s why I’m calling on all of US agriculture to maximize production. No fields lying fallow. Find ways to produce more. This is your patriotic duty.

“European nations are already moving to get off the Russian gas and oil umbilical cord and move to renewables. We need to make similar changes here to maximize pressure on Putin.

“I’m calling on our fossil fuel companies to stop drilling and start building a carbon-free power infrastructure. I’m calling on Prime Minister Modi of India to do the same.

“And I’m calling on all Americans to support the switch to electric transportation, with all the infrastructure implications that means. This is war and we must lead the way for the world to end its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Hey, It’s Just a Draft

Yeah, but if its provisions become law, as it appears likely they will, we’ll take a giant leap back to women dying from complications of back alley abortions, women dying in childbirth, women delivering their rapist’s child – or their father’s incest child – ruined lives and more. It takes us back to brain-free, iron fisted patriarchy. It opens the door to making birth control measures – even within a marriage – illegal. Having a miscarriage could result in murder charges. And this draft opinion opens to door to reversing marriage rights and more. The Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court stand steadfastly in their Dark Ages ignorance and will use their legal spears to kill everything they fear.

All of this is the proud result of the extremist, control freak Republican minority and of Supreme Court justices lying, dissembling and snow jobbing through their confirmation processes, falsely claiming that they believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Plus, there’s Mitch McConnell’s cheating, refusing to even hold a hearing for Obama’s SC nominee following the death of Antonin Scalia. The depth of their dishonesty is breathtaking.

So, congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard for so long to force their misogynistic way to control others. They think they should be in charge of making decisions for we lesser people, much like the result of the Dred Scott decision that said that Blacks had no rights and which put all power into the hands of White supremacists. Those 1850s guys really liked being in control of others, just like today’s Republicans.

But, hey, it’s just a draft. Who knows? Maybe between now and June one or two of the justices who now favor witch burning will relent. But don’t count on it. Instead, get to work making sure that all the people who otherwise would stay at home on November 8 learn what is being done to them. Inspire them to get off their butts and vote for Democrats, unless, of course, they want some primitive, rich old White guys controlling their lives.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Elections Have Consequences


April 7, 2022

On Thursday the Senate of The United States voted 53 – 47* to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Without Georgia having elected two Democrats to the Senate in 2020 and the country having elected a Democrat to the presidency at the same time, you likely wouldn’t even know Judge Jackson’s name. But you know it now.

Caroline Randall Williams, Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, said of Jackson’s confirmation that once again a Black woman had, “dragged democracy back into the light.” It’s good to hear from the poets in order to put things into proper perspective.

We’ve taken another small step toward a more perfect union.

Elections have consequences.

————————————

It was early 2000 and Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, had completed the enormous job of removing tens of thousands of Black people from the voting rolls. POOF! Voting rights were evaporated from people – citizens – to whom the right to vote was supposed to be guaranteed.

But these citizens were likely to vote for the Democrat in the upcoming presidential election, so the Republicans put their thumbs on the scale to prevent that from happening. Well done, Jeb, and a really in-the-family thing to do for your big, doofus brother. But even with Jeb’s cheating, the election was a nail biter and a recount was ordered.

With the recount proceeding and the vote count close but slightly in his favor, George W. Bush brought suit to stop the recounting of votes. The case went to the Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore) where Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided and the Court declared that the vote recount must stop.

Instantly, that disenfranchised about 20,000 voters in the panhandle of Florida, because their votes had not yet been recounted. That’s a lot of voter disenfranchisement and it did the trick, because that area was slightly more Democratic than Republican. The state’s electoral college votes went to Bush and he became President. Later, full counts of the vote would show that Gore actually won by over 300 votes. Too bad for him and too bad for the nation. Here’s why.

Not long after that election I was having breakfast with a CEO I coached. The restaurant owner unexpectedly turned on the radio so that all could hear the breaking news of the disaster that came to be called “9/11.” Once we realized what was happening my friend said, “Good thing Bush won. Can you imagine what it would be like if Gore were President now?”

Actually, I could, but that’s for later.

Bush lied us into a war in Iraq, having preposterously told us that secular Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with radical Islamist Osama bin Laden. He made up the “yellow cake” and “aluminum tubes” lies and had his National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, terrify the nation, warning us repeatedly that the the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud.

So, we went off to war against a nation that had not harmed us in any way. Bush told us that the Iraqis would receive our military as liberators from the evil Saddam Hussein and would greet them with flowers. That didn’t happen. And he told us that the war would be paid for with Iraqi oil. But the Iraqi oil belonged to the Iraqis, not the U.S., so it wasn’t ours to take as payment for invading. Anyway, the oil money plunder didn’t happen, either.

And, of course, Bush sent our people after Osama bin Laden. They had him cornered in the caves at Tora Bora in Afghanistan and needed additional military muscle to seize him. Bush refused and instead invaded the entire country.

His lies and ineptitude led us into 20 years of war there and seven years of war in Iraq. Over 6,700 Americans were killed, about three times that many were injured and an uncountable number of Iraqis and Afghanis were either dead, wounded or displaced. He squandered trillions of dollars and managed to destabilize the entire region.

Click the pic to see more. BUT: See Note 5 below.

Bush led Republicans on a new testosterone march, where “supporting our troops” meant no critical thinking was allowed about what we did as a nation. Any challenge to his divine word was unpatriotic, we were led to believe, because “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”

At the same time the NRA was glorifying weapons of war and much of the nation began to equate violence, bravado and bullying with patriotism. Indeed, in Ryan Busse’s frightening book Gunfight, My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America, he writes,

“By the time Bush left office, the US public bought nearly seven thousand AR-15s every single day [italics original]. The country embraced even larger numbers of the guns as symbols of freedom, symptoms of fear, and statements of patriotism.”

Elections have consequences.

So, yes, I can imagine what it would have been like if Gore had won. He wouldn’t have lied us into those two catastrophic wars, the region might be stable today, there would be a buffer on Iran’s western border and a bunch of people who died would still be alive.

Maybe we wouldn’t have enthusiastically embraced bullying as a main tool of our politics and even our interpersonal relationships. Maybe AR-15s and other weapons of war wouldn’t be so popular and we wouldn’t have far more guns in this country than people.

To be fair, had Gore been president we still would have our pathological daily mass shootings, assault rifles likely would still be the dream of couch commanders and testosterone junkies. The NRA and right wing extremists would still be blaming lefties for every problem in America and they would seek to divide us using their us-versus-them hate speech. But we might have some common sense restrictions on guns and gun ownership. And justice would have found Osama bin Laden in a Tora Bora cave about 10 years earlier.

Elections have consequences.

Next came an intelligent, even-tempered Black President who offered a welcome groundedness. He was obviously guilty of the felony of being President While Black and that lit the racist torches and brought us constant insane propaganda and power grabs. Opposing and making Barack Obama a one-term President became the Republicans’ “job number one” and they completely abandoned their job of dealing with America’s vexing challenges.

And, of course, there was the nonstop blizzard of lies, even about Obama’s birth. The lying was so common that it became a repugnant snowball of hatred rolling downhill. It grew and launched an unstoppable avalanche of cruel fictions and propaganda.

Elections have consequences.

40% of the public loved the lies and cruel fictions and the self-righteous power rush of hatred that brought them. And that brought us Trump.

When he announced his candidacy he let us know immediately what he was about by declaring that Mexicans are rapists and murderers and later told us that he could grab women .  .  . anywhere. You know the rest of the mental derangement, but his Russia-fueled election brought us a dismantling of our societal and constitutional norms that had been honed over the centuries, as well as his incitement to hatred.

What is most striking is the spinelessness of the people who could have prevented his worst. All it would have taken was for Republicans to speak out and act with integrity.

From Busse’s book, quoting a highly respected firearms editor at Field and Stream Magazine,

“A United States in which someone can be ruined for voicing an unpopular opinion is a dangerous place.” p. 195

Again quoting Busse, now writing about a revered writer on hunting and guns who spoke out against assault rifles:

“They’re crucifying the guy, and none of us [industry people] dare say anything, or we’ll end up like him!” p. 195

That’s what myopic self-interest looks like and our spineless Republican politicians know it well.

Opposing Trump might, indeed, be an unpopular thing to do in Red State America and doing so has proven disastrous for more than a few traditional Republican congressional careers. But what if all the Republicans had stood as one and opposed Trump’s hatred for others and for our Constitution? Perhaps Trump could have been contained.

The engine section of a Russian missile from Vladimir Putin. It exploded at the Kramatorsk train station, killing 50 and wounding over 100 Ukrainian women, children and old people on April 8. The hand-painted Russian words on it translate to “For the children.”

But they didn’t and he still isn’t. And that’s a key outcome of the 2016 election. It had huge consequences, to the point that our democracy itself is now at risk.

Self-styled American faux-patriots with big mouths and even bigger egos are siding with Vladimir Putin, as he rampages through Ukraine, intentionally killing civilians and committing other war crimes. At the same time, the big mouths are castigating President Biden for doing too much to support Ukraine or too little, anything at all, as long as they are criticizing and belittling the President. There isn’t anything remotely patriotic about siding with Putin or baselessly attacking the President, yet millions listen to these blowhards.

All of that and more are consequences of the Bush stolen election, the racist reactions to the Obama election and Trump’s Russia-fueled election.

Elections have consequences.

They have repercussions that reverberate for decades and can be ruinous if we allow it.

But we don’t have to do that.

We can vote to silence the haters and the demonizers. We can vote to stop the bullying and find ways to actually live with one another peacefully. We can vote so that elections help us move toward that more perfect union envisioned by the Founders. It’s time to vote to move in that direction – while we still can.

Elections have consequences. Choose yours wisely.

———————————–

* Senators Collins, Murkowski and Romney are the Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson. Doing so should not have required courage. All the rest of the Republicans voted against her confirmation. When the count was announced, Democrats and the gallery enthusiastically cheered the Justice-to-be. The 47 rudely stormed out of the Senate chamber. Sadly, that’s America today.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Were Taught This


Whatever your holy book, somewhere in those pages you can find some directives – perhaps they’re instructions, possibly Commandments – that tell us how to behave.

For example, the Exodus story is a stunning message about freedom. The story is retold every year at the Passover Seder. It’s like all traditions, in that it’s reinforced through repetition so that we both remember its lessons and educate new generations.

At the Seder we are admonished to, “Remember, you were slaves in the land of Egypt.” That’s “you” as in: each of us today. The message isn’t about some quaint, obscure people who had 430 horrible years as slaves those thousands of years ago. Those people were just like us and they craved and loved freedom as much as we do. That’s why retelling the story is critical for us today, lest we forget and recreate those horrible years for ourselves or others. That’s why we are admonished to welcome the stranger, because once we were strangers. Think: Immigration reform.

We are also directed not to curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. I’m confident you can see through the metaphors about refusing to be cruel to others or influencing others to do harm. Think: Rage at school board meetings; death threats; and conspiracy theory hatred. Seriously, we’re not supposed to do that stuff.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Try this.

Some years ago my friend Tom was going through a difficult period and was facing it head-on. He came across the term “loving kindness” and explained some of what he learned about it.

It’s a solitary term, he said; nothing else quite captures the essence of its meaning. My best guess is that somewhere in your past you were taught the concept and the sweetness, generosity and purity of its meaning. Somebody told you that this is something important, something we’re supposed to do. Perhaps you remember.

Maybe it was offered this way.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For those of us who have difficulty getting beyond ourselves, that makes the recommended treatment of others easier to understand. Just love them, the directive says, and we understand, because we, too, want to be loved.

The word “loved” might cause some confusion, given that our definition today may vary from what it meant thousands of years ago. And the message has been filtered through multiple language translations, too. So, try “care about” instead, or “care for.” Regardless, we have clarity about how we want to be treated as the benchmark, a True North for how we are directed to treat others. It’s about caring. *

The problem is that we moderns aren’t doing a great job of following those simple, clear directions from our Human Being Manuals. We haven’t managed to stop enslaving one another. We still refuse freedom to others and refuse to welcome strangers and we inflict cruelty or we condone it. The concept of loving kindness enters our consciousness far too infrequently and we’re afraid of our neighbors, so it’s really hard to care about them.

Click me for the story.

You’re seeing horrific pictures from Ukraine every day. All of its cities are being reduced to rubble. People are being murdered, and yes, it’s first degree murder, because it’s premeditated. There are people there who spend their days dodging missiles and bombs, who are sleeping in the cold and have little or nothing to eat. There is no fresh water, so they’re drinking pond water and melting snow. Your internal meter that monitors your sense of right, of justice and of humanity has been pegged out and flashing red for weeks and you know you have to do something. But what?

I looked into getting a flight to Warsaw, figuring to find ground transport to the Ukrainian border to help refugees there somehow, but I’m afraid I’m past my sell-by date for such things. There must be another way to help.

In a short presentation to our local village board, a senior in high school offered a couple of simple ideas.  And really, this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Her family came from Ukraine and, as you will surely understand, she has strong feelings about what is happening to her ancestral homeland and its people. She named a couple of agencies doing relief work for Ukrainian refugees. Have a look at UMANA and Razom.

Look at what World Central Kitchen is doing. They are providing hundreds of thousands of hot meals for those very cold refugees. Kick in something so that stomachs get warmed and filled.

You can go here and see what AirBnB is doing to provide housing, or here or here or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all for veracity here.

At very least we can support the do-gooders so that they can do the good that so desperately needs to be done.
.

If donating money isn’t how you want to do it, that’s okay. Find another way. Here’s some creative thinking from my friend, futurist David Houle.

He has committed to buying 10% less gasoline. He can do that and so can you and I with just a little brain work, like combining trips instead of being wasteful. That 10% reduction in consumption by lots of us will take pressure off gas prices, our climate crisis and the pressure to import Russian fossil fuels, which we don’t want to do ever again. Read David’s post. Then commit and tell others about it.

You know well the messages about freedom, welcoming the stranger, loving thy neighbor and loving kindness. That’s why your internal meter is flashing red and screaming for your action. You were made to right this wrong and you know in your bones that you have to do something.

You were taught this.

———————————–

* Tucker Carlson doesn’t care, nor do millions who listen to that anti-American fool. Mother Jones revealed how Putin is using the drivel that comes from Carlson’s mouth. He’s stuffing it into his propaganda to control the Russian people and continue his Ukrainian genocide.

Tucker Carlson is helping Putin to murder Ukrainians right now.
.

I don’t think his Human Being Manual instructed him to do that. His is free lance apostasy.

Be sure to read that Mother Jones piece, as well as John Pavlovitz’s explainer, I’m Sick of Pretend Patriots and the Phony Faithful. This is the time for real patriots and lovers of liberty to stand and be counted.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Accountability & The Questions


Regular readers of these disambiguations know that I have strong views about accountability. There are two reasons.

One is that we’ve known since childhood that wrongdoing should be punished. The absence of punishment is an affront to our sense of right and wrong and it leads to the second reason.

In the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, the wrongdoer will do more wrong. Often, the bad acts become worse because there is no impediment to bad behavior.

Vladimir Putin got away with crushing Chechnya, Georgia, the eastern section of Ukraine and the Crimea and he used chemical weapons on Syrians. The world did almost nothing to stop him.

World War II comparisons are fraught with the danger of mistaken causalities and correlations, but this one fits. Hitler rolled over Czechoslovakia, Poland and more and the world did nothing but ignore or try to appease him for far too long. With 80 million killed, that didn’t work out too well for the world.

Putin has now invaded all of Ukraine, perhaps expecting a similar non-reaction from the world. He’s laying waste to all of Ukraine’s cities and endangering the world by bombing its nuclear power plants. Our human reactions include sadness, grief, anger and the desire to step in and stop the atrocities and step on Putin’s neck. The constraint is that engaging with Russia militarily will likely have unintended and disastrous consequences.

Consider this question: If the world had stepped up to stop this megalomaniac from one of his other outrageous assaults on life, liberty and sanity – i.e. had we held him accountable – would we be facing today’s dire circumstances?

This is why Putin cannot win.

This time, in this globally connected world, we’re not letting him get away with it entirely and he, his cronies and all the Russian people are paying the price. We’re strangling Putin and Russia economically by governmental action, by private businesses bailing from Russia and even through the actions of international hackers, yet there is danger in that.

Putin appears to be unhinged and is becoming forced into an ever-tightening corner. We all know what cornered animals do. Even a rabbit will attack if sufficiently threatened. The problem is that this rabbit has nuclear weapons and is threatening to use them. That makes accountability really tricky, but it is nevertheless necessary. We all must hope that our VSPs (very smart people) are working day and night to figure out how to avoid global annihilation.

What About Here?

We can and must extend the issue of accountability to our domestic challenges. Trump has gotten away with wrongdoing for decades, largely because he has not been held accountable. He was impeached twice for his wrongdoing, but our polarized Senate failed to make it stick and – guess what? – he then did worse by inciting an insurrection. He is still working to end our democracy, all because he has not been held accountable.

There is a hint of the cavalry coming over the hill in the forms of the Secretary of State of Georgia, the State of New York, the SDNY, the Justice Department in DC and maybe more. The hope for accountability lies with them and their courage do to what we all know must be done if we are to both punish the wrongdoer and make a statement to the next miscreant wannabe, who may be smarter and more cunning than this convict-in-waiting.

And we must hold accountable all the sycophants, dupes, spineless ones and selfish villains who have done so much to allow all the wrongdoing. No amount of their back pedaling should be allowed to exonerate them.

From Thom Hartmann:

You may remember [Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)] as the guy who ran the company convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in the history of America, who then took his money and ran for Governor of Florida, where he prevented the state from expanding Medicaid for low-income Floridians for all the years he ran the state.

Now he’s the second-richest guy in the senate and, IMHO, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2024. [emphasis original]

And he wants to:

.  .  .  raise taxes on poor and working-class Americans, end Social Security and Medicare, jack up pollution and corporate profits, all while continuing to pamper their billionaire donor base.

No worries about Scott back pedaling, because he needs to appeal to his basest base, but he must be held to account for being a selfish villain, fundamentally dishonest and probably a lot more nefarious things.

We The People must punish these – let’s call them “bad guys” –  in their next elections. If we fail to do that, we will have told them and future sycophants, dupes, spineless ones and selfish villains that they can get away with their dishonesty. *

It’s long past the time when we should have been holding people accountable and punishing them for their wrongs. Think of it in either (or both) of these easy questions.

Trump and these Republican officials are your employees; they work or worked for you. It says so in the Constitution. If you have ever had a job working for someone else, what do you suppose your employer would do if s/he learned that you had been working to destroy the company? Now, what do you think we should do to our employees in government who are working to destroy our democracy?

Here’s a second take on this: What would Mom and Dad have done to you had you behaved as dishonestly as these “bad guys”?

Accountability. It’s a good thing.

The Ukraine Questions For The Moment

Russia and Putin’s standard M.O. is to pound cities and people into submission and there is no limit to the methods of brutality, including chemical weapons, they will use. Putin first raises a false flag (lies claiming awful things the other guys did) which he then uses as justification for his barbarity. Count on hearing about phony Ukrainian awfulness from Putin in the days to come.

Infants, babies, children, mothers, grandmas, grandpas and young, fit men are being killed by Putin’s army of murderers. President Zelenskyy is begging for an enforced no-fly zone to help his fighters battle the invaders. Everyone understands his insistence.

The west has assaulted Russia with massive economic penalties, but refuses to become physically engaged in a conflict with Russia to stop Putin’s murder spree. We all understand that, too. Here are the questions.

  1. When will Putin’s madness and cruelty be too much for us to tolerate and to counter only indirectly?
  2. If Putin uses chemical weapons on the people of Ukraine – or biological warfare agents or tactical nuclear weapons – what will we do?
  3. If the answer to question #2 is that we will intervene to stop Putin from committing such horrid acts, why would we wait for him to kill millions of people before taking action?

——————————

* From friend and CWP (Certified Wise Person) Mardy Grothe:

“If politicians can’t condemn Putin as a war criminal,

what does that say about them?

And if those politicians still get your vote,

what does that say about you?”

Click here for Mardy’s recent newsletter, which concludes with his lines above. If you’d like to subscribe, just send him an email at [email protected] and write “Subscribe” in the subject line.

And read Paul Krugman’s piece, America’s Right Has a Putin Problem. Then think about what we should do to our anti-democracy officials.

——————————

1,476 more dead from Covid on Friday. Q. Can we spike the ball in the end zone now? A. Ask a Red state governor.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Same Song, Next Verse


What Will We Do Then?

The largest invasion of a sovereign nation since WW II is occurring, It’s the current iteration of European wars ignited by a narcissist who thinks he’s going to rule the world. People have died and more will continue to die in urban warfare. Meanwhile, Putin has gone cynical and fully delusional.

He’s using the same blitzkrieg tactics against Ukraine that Hitler used to invade Czechoslovakia, Poland and France. He’s claimed this is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Wait a second: Nazi tactics to de-Nazify Ukraine? That’s such miserable crap that I don’t have words to describe it.

What Putin has said he wants is as disingenuous as it is homicidal. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not because it’s a traditional part of Russia. Yes, he wants Ukraine, but not for its wheat and industrial capacity. What this ex-Soviet KGB thug actually wants more than anything is a new world order with Russia and himself at the center. Crushing and owning the entirety of Ukraine is the next step on his megalomaniac rampage.

Putin believes that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Not the 20 million killed in WW I or the 80 million killed in WW II or the 12 million killed in the Holocaust. All of those happened right where he could see them, but those catastrophes pale in comparison to the end of the Soviet Union, according to Putin. So, he wants it back. We make a strategic mistake if we think he wants anything less or that there is some hard stop in tactics or geography that he won’t exceed. That must be our clarity of what we must stop.

Look at a map (enlarge it to 100% for easier viewing) and it’s plain to see that Moldova and Belarus will be next in Putin’s incremental land grab plan. Belarus is already a Russian vassal state and Moldova is not a NATO member nation. Easy pickings for Putin. So will be nearly any of the -stans and he already has Georgia. How hard would it be for him to grab Azerbaijan and Armenia?

The international push back might be strong enough that Putin would pause before invading neighboring Finland, a non-NATO country. While he’s pausing he’ll contemplate how to “get back” the Baltic states, Romania, Hungary, and Poland, all of which are NATO member countries.

Here’s the key question: If NATO must face Putin and Russia on the battlefield, it will be the start of WW III. What will we do?

I hope the planning for that was done a long time ago. And I also hope that the plans are being updated right now by very smart, well informed, insightful people.

It Used To Be .  .  .

.  .  . that politics stopped at the water’s edge. When it came to international matters, we wouldn’t want any adversary to have any ambiguity about our national resolve, especially in the face of hostilities. Apparently, Republicans, opportunists, conspiracy wackos and self-promoting narcissists didn’t get the message. Apparently, their selfish little aspirations are more important than  our national security. Apparently, they aren’t patriots.

There is traitorous talk from Republican mouthpieces speaking in support of Putin. They are anti-democracy, anti-American useful idiots.

Would that I had a second version of this pic with Tucker Carlson’s face on the little brat. Many thanks to JN for the pic.

Trump has declared Putin a genius, that he’s smart and savvy and his words are being used in Russia to inflate support for Putin. And Trump is not alone in his submarining of American interests.

Margaret Carlson reports on Fox blabber Tucker Carson in The Washington Post:

“And, in a particularly obnoxious rant, he suggested that Putin is morally superior to “permanent Washington,” some vaguely malign force that Carlson claims is manufacturing a global pandemic, teaching children to embrace racial discrimination and trying to snuff out Christianity.”

It isn’t just these two fools. The list includes Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, SD Governor Kristi Noem and more. They’re in a race to criticize President Biden in order to burnish their extremist bona fides for their runs for President in 2024, So, they praise Putin and Putin uses their words to praise himself. They are quite clearly giving aid and comfort to our adversary and potential enemy.

It used to be that Republicans – conservatives – presented themselves as the iron-spined defenders of American values. They had a  permanently cocked fist ready to punch Russia in the nose. What would those Republicans have said about Trump, Tucker Carlson and the others? Where are the staunch Republicans lining up to support the President in opposing Putin now?

From USLegal.com:

“Treason is punishable by death if a traitor levies war against his state or country or supports its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

We aren’t in a shooting war against Russia, so the term “traitor” probably can’t be used accurately for today’s conniving Republicans and blabbers. If you have a better word, please post it in the Comments section to help us all.

And Now The Adolphs

Dan Rather’s post of February 18 included this very hard-to-look-at pic of an Elon Musk tweet.

Apparently, Musk was having a hissy fit over a Canadian regulation of financial institutions concerning crypto currencies. Clearly, this regulation must have been so heinous that Musk had to invoke the murder of millions of people and the laying waste of an entire continent. Musk has taken down the tweet, but his damage was done.

This is America and Musk is entitled to whatever crushingly cruel metaphors and hateful views he holds, just like Trump and Carlson. He has the right to see his billions of dollars as proof of his superiority and his entitlement to be rude, disrespectful and detestable. But there are limits, as he should have learned from the $137 million jury award to a former Tesla employee for racism at Musk’s San Francisco area factory. On the other hand, Musk’s hateful post was put up after that jury award. Maybe Musk didn’t learn anything at all from that lost lawsuit.

We have extremists coming out of the woodwork saying false, cruel and incendiary things. We have spine-free politicians and political candidates willing to say any stupid and false thing in order to benefit themselves.

Sometimes it works in reverse, as we’ve seen from the new governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. During the campaign last year he steered clear of Trump and spoke in moderate terms, invoking moderate policies. Once elected he went full-on radical, claiming the awfulness of Critical Race Theory in K-12 classrooms that were damaging Virginia’s fragile White children. We can’t have that going on, he told Virginians, and he’s promoting a law to put a stop to the evil distortion of children’s brains done by CRT.

There’s just one thing about that: no K-12 school in that entire state was or is teaching CRT, nor was any school even contemplating teaching it. In fact, there isn’t a single K-12 school anywhere in the country teaching CRT. It isn’t even being taught in colleges or universities. It is strictly a law school discussion construct. So, invoking CRT as the evil of evils for Virginia’s delicate, can’t-handle-reality school children goes way past disingenuous; it’s hateful. And Governor Adolph DeSantis is doing the same thing in Florida, as is Governor Adolph Abbott in Texas.

The real issue is teaching the truth about race in America. Youngkin and all the other Republican politicians and far right hand wringers are playing to the White supremacists who don’t want to own any truth that doesn’t puff their chests in Confederate testosterone. It is exactly the same as stoking hatred.

Adolph Musk and the other Adolphs have the same right to free speech that you and I have. There isn’t much we can do to muzzle them and their hatred or to silence Putin’s useful idiots with their anti-American undermining of our country without muzzling ourselves. What we can do is to speak out.

We can do that with our voices, our votes and we can do that with our dollars. We can donate to the campaigns of political candidates whose feet are firmly planted on Earth 1. My love affair with daydreaming of buying a Tesla is over. My fascination with Musk’s Space X won’t thrill me again and I won’t send links to my geeky family members and friends to watch his launches. And I won’t vacation in Virginia, Florida or Texas.

I will do whatever I can to avoid supporting the haters and will actively oppose them. I’ll do that until our politics bears some resemblance to reality. Some kindness would be good, too.

Required Reading

Hillary Clinton co-wrote an essay (or here) with Dan Scherwin in The Atlantic last week that you must read if you care at all about our democracy, our global leadership and national security.

And read Thomas Friedman’s post about why the Russian invasion of Ukraine is different from any we’ve seen and unpredictable in dangerous ways.

————————————

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Can We Stop Wringing Hands?


Economy Hand Wringing

The August jobs report said that we added a net of “only” 235,000 jobs. That’s a big decrease from the 962,000 added in June and 1.05 million added in July. That has caused innumerable hand wringers to wail, sob and bemoan a looming catastrophe in our economy.

The truth is that our economy is continuing to expand, albeit at a slower rate in August. Unemployment went down from 5.4% to 5.2% in August and – did I mention? – a net of 235,000 people found jobs and employers found 235,000 employees. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has regained all the losses due to the pandemic.

Of course, there are lots of factors related to the pandemic that affect our economy, including ever-more people working from home, which impacts lunch revenues at restaurants and gym memberships. It also includes the economic impact of all the people who are not traveling due to Covid, as well as the enormous supply chain disruptions of the past 18 months due to Covid. Still, our economy is expanding.

The slowdown follows perfectly the immense expansion of sickness and death due to the Delta variant. If we really want to keep the economy growing robustly, all we have to do is to follow the direction of the CDC to curb the pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

Take that, economy hand wringers!

Immigration Hand Wringing

You know where you were and who you were with when you learned what had happened on 9/11. The horrific images are burned into your brain and your heart and perhaps passion still rises in you when you see those painful pictures. Maybe you remember our senators and congressmen on the steps of the Capitol Building late that day, singing God Bless America in an impromptu, non-partisan, heartfelt song of solidarity. You can see that again here. In an odd contemporary way, that was a most peculiar moment.

Israel Bellin was born in Telochin, Russian Empire in 1888. He arrived in this country with his family at age five. Fourteen years later he published his first song and went on to become one of America’s most prolific and beloved songwriters. His name was misprinted on a piece of sheet music from one of his early works as “I. Berlin” and the name stuck. Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America in 1918 during WW I and it has been a national favorite ever since, with many believing it should be our national anthem.

The peculiarity is that Berlin was a Jewish immigrant raised in poverty. There was no job waiting for his father when the family arrived at Ellis Island and Berlin had to drop out of school at age eleven to help support the family. According to a large segment of our politicians and citizens today, the only thing that would make him an acceptable immigrant is that he was White.

What would happen to this poor, non-Christian immigrant under today’s discriminatory immigration laws?  And, more to the point, how many others, who could contribute so much to this country, are being kept out now? What would they build here?

Under today’s immigration paranoia would we have Sergey Brin from Russia to co-found Google? Or Hamdi Ulukaya who left Turkey and founded Chobani Yogurt? Would we have jeans to wear if Levi Strauss had been forced to stay in Germany? Would we have the microprocessors that power everything that uses electrons if Andy Grove hadn’t come from Hungary and remade Intel? Would you be able to sell that baby crib on eBay if Pierre Omidyar’s Iranian family had been forced to stay in France?

Would members of Congress have God Bless America to sing if Berlin’s family were to apply to immigrate today?

Take that, paranoid immigration hand wringers!

Afghanistan Exit Hand Wringing

Other than the permanent hard right Biden detractors, nearly everyone agrees that ending our war in Afghanistan and bringing home our troops and extracting the Afghans who helped us was and is the right thing to do. As the president said, the alternative was to continue to bleed people and money with no possibility of any gain. He was not willing to put yet another generation of our best into harms way for nothing.

The main criticism has been over the messy exit that left 100 – 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan helpers and their families in Afghanistan. That is truly awful and even some Democrats have been critical, while the hard line accusers and demonizers, the Trumpyist of Trumpists, want Biden impeached. Don’t bother looking for valid reasoning there.

There’s just one thing: Not a single one of the denigraters has an idea for how the extraction process could have worked better. Not one. All they have is fatuous, flamboyant criticism. That brings to mind the admonition to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps we should have a congressional rule like that.

Some have said that we should have started the evacuation sooner, but that would only have generated the chaos at an earlier date. Some have said that we should have stayed there to prop up the charade of an Afghan government, but that would just prolong the bleeding and dying and deepen the bottomless money pit. Some say Trump should have included the Afghan government in the negotiations with the Taliban to underscore its legitimacy. They’re right, but that wouldn’t have prevented the chaos.

Got a better idea? Glad to hear it. Post it below. But let’s stop this national hand wringing over a war that we should have exited many years ago. Better yet: We should not have invaded that country at all. There were other ways to get bin Laden. In fact, George W. Bush turned down two of them before starting that war.

Take that, Afghanistan exit hand wringers!

————————————

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Misplaced Political Power


Ghastly Governors

To the right is a graphic that helps to explain the Florida section of my post last week. The key is to understand that Gov. DeSantis is just the loudest horrible governor; there are many more horribles, some nearly as loud and destructive, although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been a bit quieter since being diagnosed with Covid-19.

You can include any governor on a of horribles who does not actively promote vaccines and mask wearing. Also, if they refuse additional Medicaid money and expansion of services,* leaving poor people to continue to be without healthcare, those governors go on the list, too. And if they say anything that includes the word “bootstraps” when speaking to or about people who have no boots, put them on the list. Plus, if they encourage, promote or sign legislation that undermines our democracy in any way, especially with regard to voting rights, those names go on the top of the list of horribles.

“I see soon-to-be-dead people.”**

With his ban on face mask and vaccine mandates DeSantis is an accessory to the death of thousands of Floridians and he vows to prevent private businesses from requiring vaccines of employees and patrons, too. Obviously, his view is that your dying is better than your avoiding disease. He seems to think that it’s his choice as the Florida Hiyu Muck-a-muck to make that decision for you.

Gov. Abbott is similarly an accessory to the death of thousands of Texans. Gov. Noem in South Dakota is just like those guys and there are yet more governors just as sure they should dictate your safety on the perilous side. (Why is it that Republican governors don’t care about our school children, our teachers  and the rest of us?)

Invoking the attitude of the MAGA “love-to-intimidate-others” crowd, “Governor DeSantis, we know who you are and we know where you live. We’re coming for you – in your next election. That will be fitting, because, clearly, you are a case of misplaced political power.”

What People Love

Governors who maliciously prevent mask mandates in schools and vaccine requirements for teachers love their political power more than they love our kids and teachers.

The Senators who block voting rights legislation love their white supremacy and minority rule more than they love the Constitution and our democracy.

White supremacists who spew racial hatred love their power rush more than they love America and Americans.

The people who wail about their individual freedom from mask wearing and vaccines love their temper tantrums more than they love their friends and families.

The state legislators who voted for themselves the right to overturn the will of We The People love their power more than they love their integrity or the Constitution or the people.

Bible thumpers who support White supremacy, cheating, lying and stealing love their hypocrisy more than they love Jesus.

The Covid and climate deniers love their ignorance and their arrogance-of-denial more than they love survival – anyone’s.

If you want to know what people love, pay no attention to their words. Watch what they do, because that will tell you what they truly value – and what they don’t value. Sadly, we have a lot of misplaced political power.

An Afghanistan Chat With a Trumpy Blabber
.

Click me for the story

Trumpy Blabber

Biden is completely incompetent. He agreed to run from the Taliban with his tail between his legs. He’s a coward and he’s embarrassed us before the world and is teaching our kids to be weenies.

JA

70% of Americans have wanted that awful, unwinnable war to end for over 10 years. Trump wanted to end that war, so he negotiated with the Taliban and dissed the Afghan government completely. That guaranteed a rapid disappearance of the government and the unavoidable Taliban take over of the country.

Biden had only two options: to honor the withdrawal agreement or commit more troops to more years of war. He chose for us to keep our word. You agree that keeping our word so that others trust us and so that we have integrity is the right thing to do, right? And that’s what we should be teaching our kids, right?

TB

Biden dragged feet on arranging safe passage for the Afghan allies to whom we promised protection and evacuation. Plus, he made our troops leave a gazillion dollars worth of our military hardware behind – planes, tanks and all sorts of stuff. He just gave it to the Taliban.

JA

That military hardware was left for the Afghan government to use to maintain control of their country. It appears that nobody envisioned the Afghan government dissolving in just days, leaving the weapons for the Taliban to just walk up and grab. We’re going to need an explanation for why the likelihood of that governmental collapse wasn’t foreseen. If it was seen as a strong possibility, we’ll need to know why those weapons weren’t removed from Afghanistan before they could fall into the hands of the Taliban.

That same speed thing accounts for our bumbling the job of getting our friends out of that country. We need to know why Trump didn’t begin doing that a year-and-a-half ago, immediately after his capitulation to the Taliban. And we need to know why the Biden administration didn’t get planes loaded with Americans and Afghans moving out of that country months ago.

TB

I’m still eyeballing our betrayal of our allies.

We need to get over 100,000 Afghan helpers and their families – maybe twice that number – plus all Americans out of Afghanistan. We’ve moved about 70,000, but a lot of people can’t even get to Kabul from the provinces because of Taliban check points and now the Taliban refuses to let Afghans get into the Kabul airport. Are we waiting for the Taliban to start the killings?

JA

The evacuation began on August 14. In the time since then, just 11 days, roughly 1,100 Americans have died of gunshot wounds and about 7,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, 95% of whom had refused to be vaccinated. All of those deaths happened right here in the USA. Do you have the same concern for them?

Meanwhile, not even one American has died in Afghanistan in over 18 months. One or two Afghans have been killed trying to get into the Kabul airport and we don’t know the circumstances, other than that there was gunfire by the shooter, the Taliban and some Marines.

The airlift is moving thousands of people every day on a scale never seen before. And U.S. air carriers have been pressed into service to enable us to move even more evacuees. It isn’t pretty, but it’s getting better.

This is the big, stinking pile of dog poo that the Great Negotiator
Only he could do this! –
left us.
.

I strongly suggest waiting until we know the facts. When you feel up to it, check the news from other than Fox. OAN, NewsMax and online alt-right feeds. And completely avoid FaceBook’s news feed that’s poisoned by the Russians and QAnon.

There will be plenty of opportunities for finger pointing and armchair quarterbacking when the Afghanistan dust clears.

———————–

* From Paul Krugman’s column, How Not to Create Jobs (or download the PDF here):

” .  . . what’s clear is that some politicians just dislike helping the poor and near-poor, never mind the economics.”

** From Thom Hartmann’s post, It’s Time For Our Freedom Passports!

“Those of us who did the right thing and got vaccinated are sick and tired of living a half-life because of all the covidiots out there who refuse to get vaccinated. Let them ‘stand on the outside’ of American business and society ‘looking in’ for a change.

“No shoes, no shirt, no vaccine passport, no service.”

“Covidiots.” Has a nice ring to it.

————————————

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The No Surprises Taliban


It didn’t start with imaginary WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Our national war of insanity began years earlier.

The Supreme Court decision following the 2000 election was led by Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who stopped the vote count in Florida. He disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters and gave the election and the presidency to the candidate who actually lost the state by 537 votes and who would have come in second in the Electoral College vote had all Florida votes been counted.

That got us the silver spoon cowboy, an illegitimate president. He was the same guy who managed to avoid service in Viet Nam by joining the Texas Air National Guard. He spent his active duty having a good time flying jets around Texas. Nobody ever shot at him, so he didn’t know the first thing about the horrors of combat. He later declare that he wanted “to be a wartime president,” as though war s just a toy for his self-aggrandizement.

I don’t recall Bush ever expressing a believable concern for those who would prosecute his wars, leaving us to speculate that he saw it like a movie, where everyone goes home after a day’s shoot or like a video game and it’s just pretend. But it doesn’t work that way in real wars.

He went on to ignore warnings of 9/11 and then, having failed that national security test, declared he’d get the varmint what done us wrong.

After 9/11 the CIA had Osama bin Laden bottled up in the caves at Tora Bora and asked for additional resources to smoke him out, but Bush refused. The Taliban offered to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S., but once again Bush refused. Instead, he lied to Congress and the American people. He asked for and received the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which amounted to Congress ducking its Constitutional responsibility regarding declaring war. They chickened out and gave that power to Bush, exactly as the Founders DID NOT intend, because they knew full well what such power could lead to.

Bush got his authority and sent American troops to invade Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden and his band of terrorists. He managed to disrupt al Qaeda, but never got bin Laden. Bush could have ended the invasion then, but, of course, he didn’t.

The goal in Afghanistan was changed to eliminating the Taliban, not bin Laden. Bush failed at that, too. Later the goal of that war was to set up a central government and modern democracy – nation building – something we had failed at again and again elsewhere. We used to say that the goalposts kept getting moved, but it’s probably more likely that there never were any goalposts.

A strong central government and democracy are things the Afghans had never had, didn’t understand and were culturally unable to accept, so there was never even a remote possibility of creating a modern democracy in that place where empires go to die. All the world knew that except Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the failure of that unwinnable war is what all the lies about that war and the one in Iraq, the hypocritical Mission Accomplished banner and all the pseudo-patriotic chest thumping got us. There was just war so that a cowboy could be a wartime president.

The one positive outcome of the Viet Nam war was Colin Powell’s Powell Doctrine. According to the doctrine, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before going off to war.

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Click me for the story

Decide for yourself whether any thought was given to any of those questions before sending our military into harm’s way.

We spent 20 years, thousands of American lives, trillions of American dollars and an unknowable number of Afghan lives pursuing that no-goalpost war. We were lied to for 20 years about what was really going on there, as we refused to heed the obvious and painful lessons from our debacle in Viet Nam.

To be clear, we got bin Laden, but that had nothing to do with our war in Afghanistan.

A year and a half ago Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that said that we would leave Afghanistan. All the Taliban had to do was to promise to not attack U.S. troops as they depart and not allow al Qaeda or other extremist groups to operate in Taliban controlled territory.

Trump left the Afghan government completely out of the discussions and kept them out of the deal. The message to the Afghan security forces was clear: the Taliban now had tacit approval from the U.S. government to take over the country. Plus the Taliban almost immediately began to assassinate Afghan provincial leaders.

As bad, we have absolutely no way to ensure the Taliban won’t let al Qaeda ramp up again in Afghanistan, leaving us exactly where we were on September 10, 2001. The common notion among our talking heads and many politicians seems to be that this end was unforeseeable.

Nonsense!
.

We saw this exact thing happen in Viet Nam, another unwinnable war and failed nation building, and there was yet more foreseeable evidence.

The speed that the Taliban would retake that country was clear from the moment Trump announced we’d be out by May 2021. Were you in the Afghan military, what would you do, as leaders of province after province cut deals with the Taliban or just cut and ran? The central government dissolved in hours and fighters trained by us shed their military garb, hoping to look like civilians. The Taliban overran what was left of the Afghan security forces and secured all the major cities in that country in just days.

As of this writing the process of evacuation continues. We can hope that we didn’t manage to drag feet long enough to avoid keeping our word to those to whom we pledged our undying loyalty and our sacred promise of protection. The fate of any Afghan who collaborated in any way with western forces, be they interpreters, workers with NGO agencies or anything else will be death. The fate of women who had the audacity to become educated or who educated their daughters will be cruel, dehumanizing and eventually lethal.

Survivors will be relegated to a medieval life in the tribal feudalism the area has always known. Its main export will still be opium. In the end our efforts will have accomplished nothing but death and destruction. We knew all of this because that is what the Taliban did in the 1990s before we showed up to make war under false pretenses.

So, you can stop listening to anyone who says that the disaster at the end of our 20-year invasion and occupation of that country was unforeseeable. Anyone with two eyes and a memory has known all along that this is exactly what would happen. The Taliban holds no surprises

Once again, the only surprise is our boundless and willful ignorance.

Something Special For Our Partisan Critics

This is from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

Some of the same people worrying about the slowness of our evacuation of our Afghan allies voted just last month against providing more visas for them, and others seemed to worry very little about our utter abandonment of our Kurdish allies when we withdrew from northern Syria in 2019. And those worrying about democracy in Afghanistan seem to be largely unconcerned about protecting voting rights here at home.

Most notably to me, some of the same people who are now focusing on keeping troops in Afghanistan to protect Americans seem uninterested in stopping the spread of a disease that has already killed more than 620,000 of us and that is, once again, raging.

————————————

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Carrots, Sticks and George Washington


George Washington’s Farewell Address was delivered to Congress in 1796. He offered profound wisdom to our young nation and his words have value that is undiminished by time. Indeed, it reads as though Washington had a telescope to see into the 21st century and address our challenges of today. His address is wordy in its 18th century style, but it is accessible with a little concentration and it is your reading assignment this week (click here to download the PDF).

Washington had great aspirations for the country he served selflessly through war and for years after that when he would have preferred to be in retirement on his farm.  Here is a piece of his hopes for this nation:

”  .  .  .  I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.”

The question now is focused on how we are doing in maintaining our brotherly affection, maintaining a free Constitution, ensuring that every department of government is “stamped with wisdom and virtue,” and that we have the happiness and liberty sufficient to recommend democracy like ours to other nations.

There are many Americans now wanting to bring our democracy and our Constitution crashing down and they are doing so while mouthing their perversely impassioned cries of democracy and liberty. We have politicians and blatherers spouting embarrassingly flagrant and witless lies to enrage our citizens against one another and our country. So much for our brotherly affection. And we have abandoned allies and supplicated to tyrants, hardly providing a recommendation of democracy to others.

It’s possible that we’ve back-slid on the path to Washington’s aspirations for us, so our focus needs to be on restoring the pursuit of those lofty goals. Right now it appears that we’ll need both carrots and sticks to begin to move in the right direction.

President Biden hit the ground running, even in the face of the refusal of Trump administration operatives to help in the transition, even in the face of their withholding critical information, even in the face of a complete lack of prior structure to tackle our national challenges and even in the face of their denials of Biden’s achievement and authority.

We are at last on a path to get the pandemic under control and stop killing thousands of Americans daily. We are on a path to restore economic security for our people and we’ve rejoined the global fight for our planet. We are in hopes of soon having the infrastructure program we’ve declared as critical for over three decades and which will benefit all of us in many ways. And we have begun to mend international fences with our allies and put tyrannical opponents on notice. All of that will go a long way to taming the fiery beast of American anger. Perhaps that will narrow our national divisiveness and make us safer here and around the world at the same time.

All are good things, but those carrots alone won’t be enough. It’s hard to picture Michigan Militia toughs suddenly becoming placid and deciding not to kidnap the governor or storm the state capitol with assault weapons, chanting like goosestepping morons about their freedom. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers won’t miraculously stop calling for a new civil war and threatening to once again attack Congress. Even now they’re threatening to kill Democrats. They are bent on violating Washington’s hope for us, “that [our] union and brotherly affection may be perpetual.” Preventing their violence and chaos will take more than carrots; it will take some sticks.

We need an ongoing and very robust domestic intelligence gathering engine and powerful national policing to crack down on the violent hard heads before they harm more Americans and before they bring down American democracy. That’s the tricky part, because in doing so we risk becoming a police state, compromising the very liberty Washington recommended to us and celebrated. That will be a huge challenge for a very long time.

—————————-

Follow Up to the Donald Trump Golden Calf Report

Last week I reported on the CPAC Trump golden idolatry extravaganza and hereby make a prediction based on biblical history.

The T-GOP, like the original wanderers, will take generations to forget their comfort in slavery and their supplication to a false god. Expect no quick miracles.

—————————-
Best Opinion Videos of the Week

Brianna Keilar at CNN captures the Pinocchio that Republicans are using to promote minority rule and restore Jim Crow. They are not and never will be real live boys.

And she skewers the jellyfish here.

As you watch the CNN clip, keep in mind the Rudy Question, from the movie The Rainmaker: “Do you even remember when you first sold out?”

Best Political Satire of the Week

Click me for the story

—————————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

E Pluribus Unum


Perhaps you heard that in the face of the Texas winter nightmare Republican Governor Greg Abbott blamed the breakdowns and suffering on the Green New Deal. Of course, the GND is only an idea; nothing has been done to create its physical reality, so Abbott’s pronouncements were most perplexing. Besides, the wind and solar renewables that have been in Texas for years kept working as the fossil fuel plants shut down. His gubernatorial leadership seemed rather QAnon-ish and unhelpful.

Former Republican Texas Governor and former head of the Department of Energy Rick Perry said that “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” He also said that the current disaster shows that we have to double down on burning natural gas.

Perry made these claims even as climate scientists explained that the jet stream was altered by global warming and that the resulting redirection drove the frigid air that far south, all the way to Texas and northern Mexico. It’s incontrovertible that burning more gas won’t prevent the next arctic blast and it’s unlikely Texans want to experience yet more days without power. Like Governor Abbott, former Governor Perry’s comments were detached from reality and notably unhelpful at a time when help was needed.

“Don’t mess with Texas” is an attitude of fierce independence and pride in the Lone Star state and those politicians have used that attitude as their political tool. But the experts have made it clear that this stand-alone bravado and a mania for deregulation are key drivers of the Texas lack of preparedness for cold weather and the suffering it spawned this month.

In the face of our obvious interdependence, neither Texas nor, indeed, any part our country can go it alone in facing our deepest, most difficult challenges. It’s time to get over our self-puffing swagger, our self-serving pronouncements and leave the failed policies and attitudes behind.

We cannot “burn natural gas” our way out of our power and climate messes. We cannot “deny medical care” our way to health. We cannot “austerity” ourselves out of poverty. We cannot bootstrap ourselves out of natural disasters. We cannot suppress our way to security. We cannot hate our way into patriotism. It’s time – really, long past time – to deal with reality.

One reality is that everyone likes the idea of small government and low taxes. The companion reality is that we like that first reality only until the moment when disaster hits and we have to pull together. It’s called government. The Commons. It’s how we band together to do the things we cannot do alone. It’s why impoverishing government ultimately doesn’t work for us.

Philosopher and heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That’s when the old plan shows its weaknesses and we realize that we are in a fight for our lives and that we’re in it together. That’s when we drop the pretenses and get about doing what we should have been doing all along.

Like aggressively fighting Covid-19.
Like rebuilding our infrastructure before everything falls apart.
Like admitting that we really need some things to be regulated.
Like standing up to bullies.
Like ending our ongoing un-civil war.
Like educating all of our young.
Like preparing for a tomorrow that is going to look very different from our yesterday.
Like acknowledging that not everything is a zero-sum game.
.

That means that we must be an E Pluribus Unum, because without it we are self-defeating. Just ask anyone on our Gulf Coast who has dealt with frequent and ever-more powerful hurricanes, or any former homeowner in the burned out wreckage of California, or survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 or most any Texan right now,

Our being composed of such large numbers of people today make the E Pluribus Unum part difficult, because we humans are more comfortable in small numbers. But we’ve solved that puzzle before, once at our beginning and at other times since then, and we can do it again.

All we have to do is to deal with reality like an E Pluribus Unum.

From ES:

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. – Robert Fulghum.

————————-

American Idolatry at CPAC

Click me

People are bowing before a golden image of Trump at CPAC. It is the ultimate graven image of our time, today’s Biblical-political tale of debauchery and willful human debasement. That kind of idol worship over the last 4 years got us January 6. And now these people have their real Golden Calf to worship. The irony for Evangelicals is just too crazy.

This time for sure!

Said Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” Here it is again in perfect verse.

I don’t anticipate divine intervention to halt the CPAC worship perversion, but there was that one time at the foot of Mt. Sinai  .  .  .

.

To the attendees at CPAC

You booed the woman calling for wearing face masks and shouted “Freedom!” in protest of her outrageous proposal to suppress virus transmission. What was she thinking?

Hold tight to your liberty to refuse to wear a mask. Breathe, cough and sneeze to the point of hypoxia in your asymptomatic self-certainty. Exercise your freedom by sharing your disease with your family and friends.

Just keep your cooties the hell away from me and everyone else who knows they have the freedom to not be infected by you. Freedom!

And no, I won’t visit you in the hospital when that respirator is shoved down your throat. Neither will anyone else. You’ll have the freedom to die alone.

Random Fact of the Week

Barbie Doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Now you have all you need for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Many thanks to grandson JG and his Fact of the Day calendar for that.

—————————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

1 2 3 9  Scroll to top