Putin

Potpourri v16.0


Very late edition – Dateline: America
.

EXTRA! EXTRA!

EXTRA!

Republican Red Wave Just a Little Splash!

Dems Retain Control of Senate!

Control of House Still Too Close To Call

In a stunning surprise on Saturday night the Senate race in Nevada was called in favor of Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, giving Dems 50 votes plus the vote of the VIce-President in the upper chamber. Control of the Senate will remain with Dems. That will assure that Republicans cannot universally block President Biden, including in the ability to place judges onto federal benches, all the way up to the Supreme Court if such a replacement comes to be needed.

Still to be decided is the 100th seat in the Senate, as the Georgia seat presently held by Rafael Warnock will be contested in a runoff election on December 6 against former football star and Word Salad Party candidate, Herschel Walker. The outcome of that race will not influence control in the Senate.

This happened in a week that began filled with dread and ended with the most powerful of statements. The Republicans had said that they stood for ignoring the will of the majority, lying, stealing, stripping rights from Americans and ending our democracy.

The American people stood up and said, “Not on my watch.”

Reports are coming in that the flag atop the Capitol Building is flying just a bit higher today and one witness noticed a tear of joy in the eye of Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. The Founders are said to be resting undisturbed in the presence of this important news.


Russians and Republicans

From Prof. Heather Cox Richardson on November 7:

Today, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and the leader of the private military company the Wagner Group, who is close to Russian president Vladimir Putin, boasted that Russians had interfered in U.S. elections and continue to do so. “We have interfered, we are interfering and we will continue to interfere. Carefully, accurately, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do.” He added: “During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once.”

Prigozhin is apparently behind the Russia-based “troll farms” that try to affect U.S. elections. Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times writes that Russians did indeed target the 2022 elections to make right-wing voters angry so they would vote to undermine our own national security interests and also to undermine trust in U.S. elections. Their hope is to erode American support for Ukraine’s struggle to repel the Russian invasion by getting us to elect Republicans who side with – even love – Putin.

Did it occur to you before now that Republicans would side with a Russian dictator in his invasion of a sovereign nation? These guys used to be the commie haters, the Red baiters, the muscular bashers of everything east of Poland. How did they go so far right that they now sound more like fictional ultra-extremist wacko lefties from the 50s that Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Hades) invented and lied about?

Militia Letter

Thanks go to the Founders for the Second Amendment that guarantees that anyone can have a gun. This is because we still need a militia at the ready and for the original reasons: just in case the Brits invade for a third try to reverse the revolution and to put down an uprising if southern slaves try to rebel yet again.

The Amendment specifically states,

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It’s recognized not just in common sense but also in the writing of our foundational document that we need a well regulated Militia. So, here’s an open letter to our many tough guys in our many so-called militias.

Guys (plus Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene), you aren’t a Militia unless the state you’re in declares you to be so – in writing. And you have to be under the direction and limitations prescribed by your state government – certainly not as prescribed by yourselves. That’s just how we roll in this country.

Indeed, our Militias are now called the National Guard, like the Michigan National Guard and the Kentucky National Guard. You guys aren’t any state’s National Guard. You get that, right?

You aren’t well regulated, as required by the Second Amendment. In fact, you aren’t regulated at all. Being regulated would require civilian government oversight, regulation and a clear chain of command to the governor, and you don’t have any of that.

In fact, you are a perfect example of what is not patriotic. The New York Times is publishing a series of essays on “The Danger Within,” as in: domestic terrorism. That’s you. The first essay is Political Violence Is Threatening Our Democracy. Click the title and read the post and learn how un-American your actions actually are.

Look, just face the fact that your veneer of freedom loving patriotism has been scratched off. We know who you are and what you do and no amount of self-puffing is going to turn you into what the Second Amendment requires. Intimidating voters and pedestrians with your weapons and black ski masks and camo pants and boots and marching in military columns won’t make you a militia or a patriot. You’re just a bunch of pissed off guys skulking around in the woods pretending to be Rambo.

Doing your pretend Special Forces playacting will make you and keep you an enemy of the state, of the red, white and blue. It will make you a threat to innocent people who have done you no harm, nor have they done harm to anyone else or to our nation. Yours is the very stuff of bullying.

It never occurred to the Founding Fathers that any citizen would take up semi-automatic firearms and threaten our state capitols, our polling places and the Capitol Building itself in DC in an act of insurrection. They couldn’t have envisioned a bunch of huffing and puffing thugs making death threats to grannies counting votes or to any elected official who doesn’t toe your line. You’re an embarrassment to the Constitution you pretend to be protecting and defending.

But you don’t have to be that.

Fellow Kari Lake vote denialists displaying their gullibility and their complete lack of evidence.

You can stand down. You can take meaning from the 2022 election and its repudiation of extremist candidates and extremism itself. You can join the tens of millions of Americans who voted for our rights to be restored and protected, including the right not to be intimidated or harmed by you. If you were to do that, you could be – you just might become – a patriot. Red, white and blue all over.

Come to think of it, here’s a note for the 170 members of Congress who cheered on and were apologists for the January 6 insurrectionists:

Each of you could become a patriot, too. All you’ll need is a spinal implant (so you’ll actually be able to stand for something constitutional and decent) and a brain transplant (you know why).

From the most unlikely source on integrity:

“One of the most indelible lessons of human history is that those who adopt the doctrine that the end justifies the means inevitably find the means become the end.” –  Richard Nixon

Speaking of Integrity

As of this writing it is not clear which party will be in the majority in the House of Representatives and it matters who’s in charge. Here’s why.

If the House comes to be Republican controlled, Republicans will enthusiastically revert to being the Party of No. They have said publicly that they have no policies and no positions other than to accuse and criticize. They propose no solutions to our very real problems. They offer only their intransigence to anything even remotely associated with any Democrat, so they will proudly stymie all progress.

If Republicans are in the majority in the House beginning in January, set your expectations to literally nothing getting done for the next two years. Then expect Republicans to criticize the President and all Democrats for nothing having gotten better.

Integrity. It’s just so confusing for some people.

Just Sayin’

I’ve had this perverse notion that all Democrats who lost an election for any office this cycle should band together in a Stop the Steal Movement. They’ll claim there was massive voter fraud and declare themselves the winners of their elections. Each will file a lawsuit against their Republican opponent and their election officials. They’ll demand a recount, an apology from the law-flouting vote counters and a mea culpa from the phony Republican winners, along with a nice box of chocolates and a hand written note of contrition.

One more thing. We’ll send a nya-nya Hallmark card to Trump for his infantile blaming of Melania for telling him to endorse New Jersey candidate hoping to be a senator from Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz. What a weenie!

Just sayin’.

PS

I closed my Twitter accounts, as promised. What message have you sent to extremist promoting Elon Musk?

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Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

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

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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 or neighborhood vibrant.

JA


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

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.

Some are asking why.
.

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, by speech writer JA
.

“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.

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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.

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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.

The Scariest Part


Holy crap, Batman!

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on, like the Ukrainian genocide done by that Putin beast and his threat to use weapons of mass destruction, with all of their end-of-the-entire-world implications. He’s Hitler in the 21st century, and we all know how well the 20th century version worked for us. Be sure to check the Required Viewing section at the end of this post about that.

The scariest part, though, is our national craziness, the absolute conviction of right-ness of the toxic, extremist right and our smoldering civil war.

A March 24 WaPo story (this is a must read, &/or Jane Mayer’s report) exposed the radical, extremist views of Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was strongly connected to Trump’s attempt to upend our democracy. Her husband, Justice Thomas, was the only one to vote to keep hidden from the January 6 committee an important cache of documents, this in an extremist attempt to obstruct the investigation. Dan Rather asks the Watergate questions:

What does Clarence Thomas know? And when did he know it?

What do you suppose the Thomas’ talk over dinner sounds like? “Don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t an acceptable explanation. And, with his clear appearance of impropriety at a time when public approval of the Supreme Court is down to only 50%, why hasn’t Justice Thomas recused himself from all Supreme Court issues related to the January 6 investigation?

The WaPo story revealed Ginni Thomas’ mind numbingly wacko certainty that the 2020 election was stolen, calling it, “the greatest Heist of our History” in a November 10 text to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He went Biblical, texting back, “This is a fight of good versus evil…. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs.”

This is (currently) a free country where people can believe what they want to believe. If Ms. Thomas and Mr. Meadows want to believe her heist lunacy or if they believe that the moon is made of green cheese or that butterflies are evil spirits sent to carry them to a place of everlasting pollen irritation in their noses, they get to think that. What is far more worrisome is Meadows’ reply.

He and millions of Americans who believe the Stop the Steal fiction don’t believe they’re in a political brawl. They believe down to their bones that this is an existential battle of good against evil, against the devil, ungodliness, unholiness, lies, impurity, sexual deviance and more. Again, Meadows said it plainly. And, like all religious extremists, he invoked the “King of Kings.” Ya gotta believe Ginni Thomas is mainlining that drug. That isn’t the problem.

The problem is that at least 73 million Americans are mainlining it. They think their Stop the Steal delirium is an existential battle for the glory of the King of Kings. There is almost nothing in the history of the world as murderous as a religious zealot, let alone millions of them. Their story is fully set in concrete and no assemblage of facts or presentation of reality will dissolve their holy concrete. *

They are fed self-justifying, cruel fictions by manipulators in order to reinforce their hateful certainties, like that Democrats drink children’s blood (an old anti-Semitic trope) and that they traffic children and that they will bring in socialism to poison the pure heart of our godly republic or that they will bring aliens (meaning immigrants) to take away their god-given jobs – the list of their lies is endless. The 73 million hear these perversions of reality and their rage gets amped up.

Given all the putrefaction they believe is assailing them, why wouldn’t true delusionals storm the Capitol intending to murder Pelosi, Pence and any member of Congress they could find? Why wouldn’t they crush democracy in the states, steal from the unbelievers, send asylum seekers back to be snuffed out, conspire to kidnap and murder a governor, withhold medical care from millions of undeserving “others” and more? They believe they see so much appalling and vile contamination that all of their actions are justified as purification in the name of God. That’s the holy crap, Batman.

And that’s the scariest part.

And they aren’t alone

I’ve always had to hold my nose whenever authoritarianism loving William Barr was so much as mentioned. His smug self-certainty and absolutist (read: terrorist) beliefs and actions are anathema to our Constitution. Plus, there is his lying by misdirection, like his summary of the Mueller Report. It bore no resemblance to the actual report, but his summary did manage to claim exoneration of Trump by falsely saying that the Report says Trump was innocent of all wrongdoing. Then he withheld the full Report for months, leaving his phony summary to infect the public consciousness.

He did lots more reprehensible stuff, but his motivations are the scary thing. Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s post details his fundamentalist views. She reports Barr’s warped notions about self-government.

The Framers clearly intended that there would be no king of this country, no authoritarian for life. They were clear that we the people would pick our leaders through periodic free and fair elections. You know: democracy. In contrast Barr thinks that self-government means individual morality. “And, since people are inherently wicked, that self-government requires the authority of a religion: Christianity.”

Whoa!
.

Judgements heaped on others commonly are projections of oneself, so from Barr’s own mouth we learn that he is inherently wicked. Worse, he jumps to Christianity as the cure for inherent wickedness. Yet Vladimir Putin is said to be deeply religious. It doesn’t appear that the authority and impact of Christianity on him is helping the world or the Ukrainians much. Barr is deeply wrong in both his judgement and his conclusion.

The more important point is that Barr makes up James Madison quotes (things Madison never said) on which to base his dishonesty and arrives at a conclusion that endorses theocracy – there’s that fundamentalist thing. Again.

There are a lot of people with sincerely held religious beliefs who would gladly transform our democracy into a theocracy, perhaps like Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows. Worse, they have a former United States Attorney General on their side.

And that goes along as a piece of the scariest part.

Feckless – Who dat?

Righties have been exulting in demonizing Democrats with imaginary awfuls at least since the Newt Gingrich hysteria over Bill Clinton in the ’90s.

(Impossible to resist parenthetical: That’s when Gingrich thumped Bible at Clinton over his sexual dalliances. That continued until Gingrich got caught with his pants down – just ask his third wife. She was “with” him. O’ the delicious irony!)

To give credit where it’s due, Righties expanded their vocabulary during the Obama administration by adding a new term of demonization. Their ubiquitous labeling of him and all Democrats was and still is, “feckless.” **

Be honest: had you even heard that word before the constant attacks on Obama and now Biden? And have you heard any credible examples of fecklessness from them that don’t deal with very complex situations using moronically simplistic notions? Neither have I.

feck·less| ˈfekləs | adjective – ineffective; incompetent; futile; having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.

Wait, now. No sense of responsibility? Incompetent and ineffective? – who does that describe?

That’s pretty scary, too.

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Required Viewing

Julia Ioffe did an interview on March 9 for a Frontline episode, Putin’s Road to War, which aired on March 15. I recommend watching both. Ioffe’s conclusions are stark and frightening.

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* That certainty and immobility is actually thicker than that and is bound up in the human reaction of disgust. Read Molly Young’s piece, How Disgust Explains Everything. Then read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind to better comprehend the implications of disgust to our politics. First see note 5 below.

** Isn’t it odd that Republicans are so facile at spewing the “feckless” label at Democrats, but when George W. Bush and his White House Halliburton cabal lied us into two unprovoked wars, that word was never uttered. And it could have been used accurately on every day of the Trump administration, too, but we never heard it then either. Odd, indeed.

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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.

Dream Sequence


I awoke from this fully formed dream in the dark of last Wednesday morning.

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The regular army of Ukraine, plus the hundreds of thousands of volunteer citizen soldiers have inflicted enormous damage to President Putin’s vaunted military forces. Thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed and at least twice as many have been wounded. Their tanks, troop carriers, aircraft and artillery pieces have been destroyed and the Russian army is in retreat, its myth of military might destroyed.

President Zelenskyy is taking to the airwaves to address President Putin. The whole world is watching, holding its breath. He speaks fluently in Russian from his office, with only the Ukrainian flag behind him. He is wearing an olive tee shirt, over a month of dark beard and his eyes are bloodshot, yet rock steady into the camera.

President Putin, it is time for us to end this war.

Clearly, you began it with the expectation that your military would roll over my country in just a few days; that you could eliminate our parliament and me and install a puppet regime that would be your servant; that the world would stand by and watch while you once again invade a sovereign nation and commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. But none of that happened.

You did not count on the pride, the resolve and the un-bendable patriotism of the Ukrainian people. You did not expect our fierce insistence upon our sovereignty, our democracy and our freedom. And you did not understand that the fire of freedom that burns in the hearts of people everywhere would cause them to reach out and support the Ukrainian people and punish Russia. Perhaps by now you are beginning to see the truth.

We will not bend. We will not be beaten. We will prevail. So, I am now giving you one chance to end this with some of your military still intact. If you refuse this offer we will continue to destroy your armies.

Here are my non-negotiable terms.

    1. All Russian military personnel, army, navy and air forces, will immediately cease fire.
    2. All Russian military personnel will immediately withdraw from all Ukrainian territory, including the Donbas and Crimea and all of our national waters. They will continue to withdraw until they are at least 150 miles from any part of the Ukrainian border.
    3. You will not interfere with any Ukrainians being repatriated or attempting to leave our country.
    4. You will return to Ukraine all Ukrainians whom you kidnapped and have kept in Russia – or elsewhere.
    5. You will immediately pay for your indiscriminate bombardment of our civilians, our cities and our lands the sum of $2 trillion dollars in U.S. funds as reparation for the destruction you have caused. It grieves us that we cannot get reparations from you that could bring back our little children you have killed.

The entire world wants you to accept these terms, Mr. Putin, including all of the Russian people. They don’t want this horrible war any more than any freedom loving people do. That’s why you must stop the killing and suffering and end the morbid parade of thousands of body bags containing dead Russian boys being sent back to Russia and to their wailing, grieving mothers.

This offer will expire in three days. Take it. Save what you can from this misbegotten adventure and Europe will once again be at peace.

The world awaits your response.

Then I woke up.

At 8:00AM that day, March 16, I watched the broadcast of President Zelenskyy addressing the U.S. Congress, the American people and the world. His words were brilliant and compelling. His message was clear and unmistakable. And the fierce resolve of his people, even in these dark days, was reflected in his bearing, plain for all to see.

Putin cannot win this war – ever – and there is nothing he can do to change that. Ukrainian troops have begun counter-offenses and the Russians are being defeated, even at the cost of so many innocent Ukrainian lives.

America and the rest of the free world have given much and will continue to give to Ukraine to help them to succeed. And perhaps one day soon President Zelenskyy will be able to deliver my dream speech.

May it be so.

————————————

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.

News


There’s much going on that has dangerous consequences for us and for the world. Here’s hoping this provides just a smidgen of clarity about what must be done. Plus, there’s a  special message for Vladimir Putin. Psst – pass it on. JA

———————————-

There’s Another One On The Way

George P. Bush, grandson of one president and nephew of another, is running to be Secretary of State of Texas. That’s news. Here’s what was reported by The Washington Post about that. It isn’t news, although it should be.

“Bush tells the audience he has twice traveled the length of the Texas border and vows tofinish the Trump wall.’ He speaks about ‘massive voter fraud.’ He promises to go after human traffickers and drug cartels and to take on district attorneys in the big cities, who he says are not on the side of law enforcement. He decries ‘the wholesale indoctrination of our children when it comes to critical race theory’ in public schools.”

This marks a new generation of Republican-labeled politicians claiming hooeyfacts (I just made up that word). This calls for some fact checking.

  1. P. Bush tells us we should build Trump’s idiotic wall, wasting billions of dollars while doing little to help our immigration issues and doing eminent domain damage to farmers and ranchers. Less than half of all Americans want the (did I say it already?) idiotic wall.
  2. He claims “massive voter fraud” and has absolutely no evidence of any voter fraud.
  3. He wails about district attorneys in the big cities who are “not on the side of law enforcement,” yet he has no evidence of that at all, either. On the other hand, attacking big cities plays well to poorly informed, rural voters.
  4. He claims critical race theory is indoctrinating our children, yet there isn’t even one K-12 school in Texas – or anywhere else in America – teaching CRT.

That leaves us grappling for an explanation of why he would say stupid things (I say that charitably) that are easily proven false. I can conjure only 3 reasons:

  1. P. Bush is astonishingly ignorant and hasn’t the sense to keep his mouth shut.
  2. P. Bush is mentally deranged and can’t differentiate between reality and fantasy.
  3. P. Bush is a liar.

Were I a Texas voter, none of those explanations would be acceptable. His absence of either integrity or sense requires that we rate him as permanently unqualified for any public office. And our compassion demands that we send him back to his mother for instruction on not telling lies.

This spouting of outrageous, baseless accusations by Republican yelpers is man-bites-dog stuff, but it no longer has shock value because it’s spewed in a continuous stream of disingenuous noise. That’s a terribly sad but accurate commentary on an entire political party, so it just isn’t news,

so, take a look at this .  .  .

.  .  .  from Maria Shriver:

“I know the answers are complicated and long. I know it’s also tempting to turn away. But I hope we don’t. I’ve learned in my lifetime that trying to outrun pain is fruitless. It always, always catches up to you. Trying to numb it also doesn’t work, and yet that’s what is happening. We are becoming numb to the violence that is all around us. We scroll past school shootings. We scroll past the violence engulfing our cities. Our social media platforms are rife with verbal violence thrown at each other. Our political disagreements are violent and threatening. People are dying from drug overdoses in record numbers from their pain. There is pain everywhere—in every home and on every street corner.”

Click me

Do you remember the movie This Is Spinal Tap? There’s a scene where a punky band member is showing that the controls on his guitar amplifier don’t stop at 10 like those on other amps; his goes to 11. “That’s one louder, inn’t it?” he says.

And that’s where we are in what passes for our political discourse and our human non-relations: Louder.

For those brave people willing to quiet their volume-11 voices and get beneath their shields of anger and hatred, they’ll find out that what’s going on is frightening and painful. We’re frightened and in pain for all the reasons Shriver names. And we’re oddly sustaining our dysfunction at a critical moment that requires our dedication to one another. That’s yet more not-news.

It’s long past the time to discard those who promote lies and bray their declarations of bravado in order to promote themselves, like P. Bush and the rest – you know who they are.

We have a global existential threat in the form of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war and his not even thinly veiled threats of nuclear annihilation.
.
We have another in the form of global warming that is advancing far faster than even the most pessimistic climate scientists predicted just a few years ago. And in the face of these threats to our very survival, we’re squabbling like bratty siblings.
.

It’s time to work together. It’s time to turn down the volume. And when we do that, it will be welcome news, indeed.

Many thanks to MZ for sending the Maria Shriver essay.

SOTU

President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address last night and it’s too late to pick through it and comment. I’ll simply focus on what was needed most and was delivered: Leadership to bring us together.

Recall that in the face of international existential threats we must “discard those who promote lies and bray their declarations of bravado in order to promote themselves.” We have to “turn down the volume.” In short, ditch the self-serving lunacy for the sake of our country and for democracy everywhere.

That’s what we must do. So, Biden put a stake in the ground calling for us to stand together for our democracy. That’s news.

Finally, A Message To Vladimir Putin

The Vietnam war was enormously unpopular. Resistance to it was a challenge to “the establishment,” so demonstrations and protests were frequently met with police violence. The most notorious of these crack downs came in August 1968 in Chicago’s Grant Park. It was across Michigan Avenue from the Conrad Hilton Hotel, the site of Democratic Party headquarters. Later, the Kerner Commission would call it a police riot.

The chant of the demonstrators was a tweak to the noses of Mayor Daley, President Johnson and the establishment. It was nonetheless accurate and biting.

I offer it here to Vladimir Putin. Were he ever to see this he wouldn’t care a bit, but the Russian people care a great deal and the world needs them to stand up to the bully who is threatening nuclear annihilation. So, here’s 1968 once again, still sadly accurate:

The whole world is watching!

Psst – Pass it on.

————————————

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.

Liberal and Most Illiberal


Liberal

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has an interesting post on our politics. He says we’re not divided by liberal versus conservative; we’re divided by liberal versus illiberal. Here’s what he says liberal democracy is supposed to be:

By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.

If he’s right in his definition (and I think he is), then we’re not even hitting the liberal barn door today, much less the center of the bulls eye painted on it. And “illiberal” is probably too cozy a term. It’s more like outright hostility to democracy.

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but we’re living in an age when outrageousness and high volume dominate. Given our wealth of venues for instant dissemination of whatever drivel dribbles from lips and finger tips, that makes every blowhard a blow torch that easily burns down decorum, critical thinking and even our sense of reality.

Stephens’ column was nicely book-ended by that of Ross Douthat, who wrote that voting restrictions aren’t really as impactful as lefties think they are. I wonder what response he’d get if he were to run that by the people in North Carolina where most polling places in Black areas were closed and people were forced to travel long distances and wait for hours to vote. Did he check in with the voters in Georgia and Florida whose names were removed from the voting roles solely because they missed voting in the last election? So many questions, so little liberal democracy.

Most Illiberal

In an interview on the Joe Pags show Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Racism) spoke of the insurrection against the Constitution on January 6, declaring,

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

“Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Never mind that the rioters clearly didn’t love this country – they were attacking it – and rather than “never do anything to break the law,” they were in constant violation of the law. And no, they didn’t honor Blue Lives Matter, either – they attacked over 140 police officers. And let’s ignore his blatant racism implicit in “I might have been a little concerned” if the rioters were BLM or Antifa. Instead, let’s look at how Johnson defended himself against the justified excoriation of his racist comments.

“This isn’t about race, this is about riots. I have been attacked and criticized because I pushed back on the narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists, and that’s just a small part of the 74 million Americans that voted for President Trump that also need to be suspect of being potential domestic terrorists or also potentially armed insurrectionists. This is a false narrative, and so the few of us that push back on that we get mercilessly attacked.”

Since making his disingenuous comments, Johnson has been roundly accused of slimy, miserable scum bucket racism. Full disclosure: those are my adjectives and not necessarily those of all the senators, congressmen/women, pundits and ordinary folk who have called him out.

As you can see by his last sentence, he has advanced to the next step of despotic manipulation as instructed by Trump. After doing his own version of “fine people on both sides,” Johnson has taken refuge in sulking, declaring himself a poor victim. Just look what those unfair critics have done to him!

Ron Johnson is so morally bankrupt that he isn’t worth this much space in a blog post, except for one thing: he speaks for all the Americans who manage to rationalize their fear and hatred and notions of supremacy, somehow justifying their joy in discrimination. Holding him up as a fine example of this cowardliness is useful.

Michael Gerson says Johnson is no outlier. Writing in The Washington Post he says,

“There have always been bigots with access to a microphone. But in this case, Johnson did not face the hygienic repudiation of his party. Republican leaders preferred a different strategy: putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. Republicans have abolished their ideological police.”

“It matters whether leaders delegitimize hatred or fertilize it; if they isolate prejudice or mainstream it. If political figures base their appeal on the cultivation of resentment for some group or groups, they are releasing deadly toxins into our society without any idea who might be harmed or killed. Such elected leaders might not have blood on their hands directly, but they are creating a society with more bloody hands.”

To be clear, I do not know if Ron Johnson (or any other illiberal posing as a Republican) is feeble minded, galactically ignorant or if he is a vicious, pandering liar. I do know that he is dangerous because he perpetuates hatred that does more than upset people; it gets people killed and it can upend our democracy. That pleases Vladimir Putin, whose propaganda Johnson and other Republicans trumpeted loudly in the last election and beyond. Johnson, like so many other chaos generators, is actively working against America, and that is very illiberal. Read this from Anne Applebaum.

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

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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.

Freedom v2.0


Reading time – 3:01  .  .  .

I received some off-line comments (i.e., not posted in the Comments section) questioning the contention in my “Freedom” post last Sunday that if we don’t begin working together instead of fighting one another that eventually we will lose our freedoms. Here’s an effort to make that connectivity clearer.

China is in the process of building an economic colossus and a 21st century military that will rival and be able to dominate any other nation. As they trigger their tidal wave toward world domination, what do you suppose will happen to your freedoms if we continue fighting ourselves instead of dealing with this international treat? Where will your freedoms go when a totalitarian power is incrementally dominating the globe and there’s little we can do about it?

Vladimir Putin has made it exquisitely clear that he’s completely comfortable assassinating adversaries anywhere in the world. His functionaries have ripped into our national security apparatus and stolen our top secret information. At the same time, he’s had his hackers set him up to control our infrastructure. What do you suppose your freedom will look like when he shuts off your electricity and water and at the same time he knows our national security vulnerabilities?

Those AR-15s our militia members carry around won’t be good for much, nor will bombastic speeches in Congress, especially when we can’t agree on facts or whether science is good or if Hillary ran a child pornography and sex trafficking operation from the basement of a DC pizza shop. All that conspiracy crap will have done its job of making sure that we can’t work together, that we don’t and won’t trust each other and that will make us impotent.

We are in the depths of the worst pandemic in a century, but 38% of Americans think somehow it’s a hoax, even as Covid-19 is the leading cause of death in America. What happens to individual freedom when people can’t breathe? What happens if all this continues because a huge percentage of Americans refuse to believe the science and won’t take the vaccine?

What happens to your freedom when infected people are all around? You know the answer to that because that’s how you’re living right now. Worse, that’s how our millions of hungry unemployed people are living, but they’re doing it food insecure and in fear of eviction. Take a guess at what freedom feels like to them right now.

What happens when bands of militants with too many firearms, too much anger and too little accurate information storm all of our state capitols? That isn’t freedom; it’s insurrection. Sedition. Treason. And your freedom looks pretty limited in the face of those armed attempts at minority rule.

By the way, I’ve talked with some of those over-firearmed folks and asked why they’re carrying loaded firearms. The answer every time has been, “Because I can.” I’ve always tried to get a real answer by responding with some version of, “Yes, of course that’s true. But you could also stand here clucking like a hen, but you’re not doing that. Why the gun?” Commonly, the response is a repetition of “Because I can.” I’ve never been offered a real answer that approached the truth, like their needing to feel in control, their need to take some action against whatever it is they don’t like at the moment, or so they can feel like the toughest S.O.B. in the valley or to flick off authority figures. Side note: These people aren’t powerful. Their guns are powerful and deserve respect. That doesn’t transfer to them.

How do you feel walking down the sidewalk along with angry people carrying loaded hand guns and assault rifles? Do you feel safe, like they’re on the same side with you, that they’re the good guys like you, that they believe in patriotism just like you do? Can you work with them to build a better, stronger America? If your answers are no, then they’ve already trimmed your freedom.

And the more that happens the more we will sink into international irrelevance because we aren’t all pulling the American wagon in the same direction.

The reality deniers and the angry people itching for confrontation are killing our freedom. And if you’re calling them names, like stupid, racist, idiot or moron you’re making things worse. Our undeclared civil war is killing 3,000 of us every day and people with big mouths, limited information and selfish notions are the leaders in this parade to the end of the “free country” you think this is.

That’s why we’re going to lose our freedoms if we don’t start working together.

Not convinced? Then read this essay – all of it. Get over your wanting to be protective or accusatory and give serious consideration both to the facts presented, as well as the opinions.

On second thought, read the essay even if you’re already convinced. We’re living in a fraught age and a culture of peril, with our freedom at grave risk. We all need to understand well what’s happening. That’s the reason to read the essay.

Many thanks to MN for sending the link.

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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. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. 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.

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