Da Snark MUST Be Shared!

Ever notice how in certain weather, your head and chest just seem to fill with ‘stuff’ and you sneeze, wheeze, gasp and cough until you think surely you’ve coughed up a lung?  Well, in certain political climes, my head just fills to the gills with snark, and there’s only one way to alleviate the symptoms … share it!


You could’a knocked me over with a feather …

Yesterday was a red-letter day in the United States Congress!  Why?  Because the Senate … members on both sides of the aisle … actually agreed on something and voted 95 to 1 to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO!  95-1 … can you believe it???  I think this is the most cohesion we’ve seen in the Senate since … since … maybe 1867 or thereabouts!  Granted, there is little reason to object to allowing these two nations to join NATO … it is a win-win, for it adds strength to NATO and provides protections for Sweden and Finland, but these days, there doesn’t seem to be a need for a reason to split the two sides!

Oh … that single ‘nay’ vote?  That was ol’ Josh Hawley, the brunt of many jokes since the January 6th committee aired video showing Josh of fist-pump fame running desperately from the insurrectionists that day!  His reason for naysaying the treaty expansion was, in his words …

“NATO expansion would almost certainly mean more U.S. forces in Europe for the long haul. In the face of this stark reality, we must choose. We must do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia.”

No, it made no sense to me, either, but then … it’s Josh ‘fist-pump’ Hawley, so I don’t expect intellect, but merely nonsense.  Rumour has it that he sees himself as a presidential candidate in 2024 🤣 🤣


Religious freedom?  I think not.

It was on June 27th, just over a month ago, that the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the case of Kennedy v Bremerton School District.  In a nutshell, the case was filed by Joseph Kennedy, a public-school football coach, who had taken the practice of praying at the middle of the field immediately after each game. The school board were concerned the practice would be seen as infringing on the Establishment Clause separating church and state. They attempted to negotiate with Kennedy to pray elsewhere or at a later time, but Kennedy continued the practice. His contract was not renewed, leading Kennedy to sue the board.

The Supreme Court ruled that the school’s actions against Kennedy violated his rights under both the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.  This decision has bothered me for over a month now, and last night I had a thought that I would share with you, my friends.

I don’t deny that Mr. Kennedy or anybody else has the right to pray … here, there, or anywhere.  However, public schools are not the place for public displays of religious acts!  They are institutions of learning … learning math, science, literature, history, and more … not religion.  In case the U.S. Supreme Court has not noticed, this is a secular nation.  We have people of every religion here and many of us are non-religious … that is our right, per the U.S. Constitution!  So, the thought I had was this:  Would the United States Supreme Court justices have been so quick to defend the man’s ‘right to prayer’ if he were a Muslim publicly praying to Allah?  I’m betting not.

Some of the boys on the team Mr. Kennedy coached said they were uncomfortable with his habit … some boys joined in, and those who did not believe or did not wish to join in were made to feel left out, felt that to belong, they had to join in.  THIS IS NOT what public education is about, my friends!  I would take umbrage if my child or grandchild were subjected to a teacher or other school employee praying in public during school hours or activities!  Again … if it had been a Muslim … can you just imagine the furor?

The U.S. is a nation founded in part by religious freedom.  That does NOT mean that one religion, ie Christianity, dominates the spirit of the nation.  It doesn’t.  The Court made a grievous error on June 27th, one that some were just waiting for in order to pounce and turn our schools into religious institutions.  We must not allow that to happen.


Say WHAT???

Ryan Kelley was running in the GOP primaries for governor of Michigan.  He lost.  In fact, he lost by a lot, coming in at fourth place with only 15% of the vote, or 165,016 votes as compared to the leader, Tudor Dixon, who received 434,673 votes, or 40.6%.  (I will have more about Tudor Dixon at a later date)  Now, one would think ol’ Ryan Kelley would tuck his tail betwixt his legs and go home to lick his wounds or cry in his beer, yes?  But nope.  He is planning to contest the election!

Kelly made the announcement early Wednesday morning as primary election results began to roll out that he refuses to concede and is contesting the election results.  Oh … and it may not surprise you to know that Kelley was one of the insurrectionists who was arrested for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election on January 6th by breaking into the Capitol, destroying property, attacking Capitol Police, and calling to hang Mike Pence!  And it surely won’t surprise you that he was endorsed by the former guy who incited the attempted coup.

Methinks he can contest until the cows come home, but he ain’t gonna be the one running against Democrat Gretchen Widmer in November!

Send Jets to Ukraine!

This post by Diane Ravitch is in and of itself worthy of a re-blog, but check out some of the accompanying commentary … very interesting! Thank you, Diane!!!

Diane Ravitch's blog

President Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded with every nation that would listen: Send us jets so we can protect our citizens. Thus far, President Biden has stood firm in opposition because he fears a wider war. Ukraine is not a member of NATO so NATO is not obliged to defend it.

But as awareness of the war crimes and atrocities committed by the Russian military increase, the necessity of helping Ukraine defend itself grows more compelling.

Ukraine wants MIGS. Poland wants to give them to Ukraine. Let it happen.

What is the difference between sending tanks to Ukraine and sending jets? What’s the difference between sending Stingers and Javelins and sending jets?

Putin threatened war if the West defends Ukraine. But the West is already defending Ukraine.

Putin already said that economic sanctions are a declaration of war. So in his mind, he is already at war with the West. But…

View original post 405 more words

A Tribute To A Great Woman — Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright was one heck of a woman, my friends.  Her death last week took me aback, though it shouldn’t have, given that she was 84 years old!  I wanted to write a tribute to her, but didn’t know quite where to begin, for she was truly larger than life.  Ms. Albright served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, and as U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administrations from 1997 to 2001, but those are facts … they are single-dimensional and they don’t tell who Madeleine Albright was, the person she was.

While I struggled to write a memorable tribute, one that would be worthy of the woman she was and what she gave to the world, I stumbled across a tribute written by none other than Hillary Clinton.  I think Ms. Clinton captured the essence of who Madeleine Albright was, for she had a personal connection, and her words are far more moving than mine would have been.  Thus, I share with you, a tribute to a great woman, Madeleine Albright!


Madeleine Albright Warned Us, and She Was Right

By Hillary Clinton

March 25, 2022

Late one night in 1995, in a cramped airplane cabin high over the Pacific, Madeleine Albright put down a draft of a speech I was set to deliver in Beijing at the upcoming United Nations conference on women, fixed me with the firm stare that had made fearsome dictators shudder, and asked what I was really trying to accomplish with this address.

“I want to push the envelope as far as I can,” I replied. “Then do it,” she said. She proceeded to tell me how I could sharpen the speech’s argument that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

That was Madeleine, always cutting right to the heart of the matter with clarity and courage. She pushed the envelope her entire life. She did it on behalf of women and girls, shattering the glass ceiling of diplomacy as the first woman to serve as secretary of state and calling out atrocities against women all over the world. She did it for the country that took her in as a child fleeing tyranny in Europe, championing the United States as an indispensable nation and the leader of the free world. She never stopped pushing the envelope for freedom and democracy, including cajoling sometimes skeptical generals and diplomats to see human rights as a national security imperative.

For Bill and me and her many friends all over the world, Madeleine’s passing is a painful personal loss. She was irrepressible: wickedly funny, stylish and always game for adventure and fun. I’ll never forget how excited she was to walk me through the streets of her native Prague and show me the yellow house where she lived as a girl. We couldn’t stop laughing when an unexpected rainstorm blew our umbrellas inside out, and couldn’t stop smiling when the captivating playwright and dissident turned president Václav Havel charmed us over dinner. Madeleine was 10 years ahead of me at Wellesley, and for decades we used to address and sign our notes to each other “Dear ’59” and “Love, ’69.”

Madeleine’s death is also a great loss for our country and for the cause of democracy at a time when it is under serious and sustained threat around the world and here at home. Now more than ever, we could use Madeleine’s vital voice, her cleareyed view of a dangerous world and her unstinting faith in both the unique power of the American idea and the universal appeal of freedom and democracy. We can honor her memory by heeding her wisdom.

Stand up to bullies and dictators

In the 1990s, when my husband named Madeleine U.N. ambassador and then secretary of state, she went toe-to-toe with the blood-soaked Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. She helped marshal American power and the NATO alliance to end the brutal war in Bosnia and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. She saw the chronically underestimated Russian president Vladimir Putin for what he is: a vicious autocrat intent on reclaiming Russia’s lost empire and a committed foe of democracy everywhere. In a prescient column in The Times published Feb. 23, she warned that an invasion of Ukraine would be “a historic error” that would leave Russia “diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance.” As happened so often, the man with the guns was wrong and Madeleine was right.

Madeleine Albright talking to Kim Jong-Il, center, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2000.Credit…Andrew Wong/AFP/Getty Images

She was a woman of action, especially when facing injustice. Madeleine understood that American power is the only thing standing between the rules-based global order and the rule of the sword. That did not mean she was ever quick or casual about the use of force, even for the right cause. Madeleine was a diplomat’s diplomat, ready to talk to even the most odious adversary to advance the prospects of peace. In 2000, she was the first secretary of state to travel to North Korea, where she spent 12 hours negotiating with the dictator Kim Jong-il. But, as she often said, her crucial historical frame of reference was Munich, not Vietnam, so she had a deep appreciation for the risks of inaction. Today, with a rising tide of authoritarianism threatening democracy not just in Ukraine but all over the world, that is a lesson worth remembering.

NATO and U.S. alliances are the cornerstone of world peace

As secretary of state, Madeleine helped my husband welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO after the end of the Cold War. Years later, I asked her to head up an international commission for the Obama administration to redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. Having experienced Europe’s historic traumas firsthand, she understood that the security provided by NATO was the key to keeping the continent free, peaceful and undivided. She saw it as a political alliance, not just a military pact, cementing democracy in countries that had only recently freed themselves from authoritarianism.

Madeleine rejected the criticism, renewed recently, that NATO’s expansion needlessly provoked Russia and is to blame for its invasion of Ukraine. As the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin has noted, that argument ignores Russia’s centuries-long efforts to dominate its neighbors. Madeleine would be quick to add that it also erases the aspirations and autonomy of the former Soviet bloc countries that threw off their chains, built fragile democracies and rightly worried about Russian revanchism. She would encourage us to listen to the insights of leaders like our friend Mr. Havel, who said the message of NATO expansion is that “Europe is no longer, and must never again be, divided over the heads of its people and against their will into any spheres of interest or influence.”

Make no mistake, if NATO had not expanded, Mr. Putin would be menacing not just Ukraine but the Baltic States and likely all of Eastern Europe. As the historian and journalist Anne Applebaum recently argued, “The expansion of NATO was the most successful, if not the only truly successful, piece of American foreign policy of the last 30 years.”

Madeleine Albright, right, with Hillary and Bill Clinton at the funeral for Václav Havel, the former Czech president, in 2011.Credit…Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Madeleine also strongly disagreed with Donald Trump’s approach of treating America’s alliances as a protection racket where our partners must pay tribute or fend for themselves. She knew that U.S. alliances — especially with other democracies — are a military, diplomatic and economic asset that neither Russia nor China can match, despite their best efforts, and are crucial for our own national security.

Attacks on democracy at home play into the hands of dictators abroad

They make it harder for the United States and our allies to champion human rights and the rule of law. In her searing 2018 book, “Fascism: A Warning,” Madeleine described Mr. Trump as the first U.S. president in the modern era “whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals.” She observed that his assault on democratic norms and institutions was “catnip” for autocrats like Mr. Putin. After the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn a free and fair election, Madeleine imagined Abraham Lincoln weeping. “My family came to America after fleeing a coup, so I know that freedom is fragile,” she wrote. “But I never thought I would see such an assault on democracy be cheered on from the Oval Office.” With the Republican Party recently declaring the insurrection and events that led to it to be “legitimate political discourse,” and some of the party’s most powerful media allies pushing Kremlin talking points on Fox News and elsewhere, it’s clear that the threat to our democracy that so alarmed Madeleine remains an urgent crisis.

The fundamental truth that Madeleine understood and that informed her views on all these challenges is that America’s strength flows not just from our military or economic might but from our core values. Back in 1995, Madeleine told me a story that still inspires me. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, she visited parts of the Czech Republic that had been liberated by American troops in 1945. Many people waved American flags as she passed, and to her surprise, some had just 48 stars. They had to be decades old. It turned out that American G.I.s had handed out the flags a half-century earlier. Czech families said they had kept them hidden all through the years of Soviet domination, passing them down from generation to generation as the embodiment of their hope for a better, freer future.

Madeleine knew exactly what that meant. Even at the end of her life, she treasured her first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, sailing into New York Harbor in 1948 as an 11-year-old refugee on a ship called the S.S. America. She would have been thrilled by President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States will welcome up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, and she would encourage us to do more to respond to this unfolding humanitarian nightmare. She would warn, as she did in her book, about the “self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive,” and urge us to keep pushing the envelope for freedom, human rights and democracy. We should listen.

Fly … or No-Fly?

We’ve all heard much talk of whether or not the U.S. should establish a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukraine to protect the country from attack from Russian planes.  Representative Adam Kinzinger was among the first to call for a limited no-fly zone and since then, others have jumped on the bandwagon.  Even Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has asked NATO to establish such a no-fly zone.  But is it really a good idea?  I’ve read the pros and cons and I think Nicholas Kristof sums it up best in his latest newsletter …


Here’s Why I’m Against a No-Fly Zone

It increases the risk of a Russian-American war, even of a nuclear exchange. That doesn’t seem worth it.

Nicholas Kristof, March 10

Almost nothing would be as satisfying right now as shooting down a Russian Mig that was bombing a Ukrainian apartment block or hospital. So it’s understandable that there are growing calls for the United States to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

The Russian bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday is just the latest war crime of this nature, and there may be many more. In Chechnya and Syria, Russia repeatedly bombed hospitals and clinics, reflecting a doctrine that emphasizes terrorizing civilian populations and forcing them to flee.

Ukrainian leaders are pleading for the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone, and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi supports the idea. (Senator Rick Scott of Florida goes further and says that it’s worth considering dispatching U.S. ground troops to Ukraine.)

I’ve often argued for no-fly zones in other regions, from Darfur to Libya, so you might thing I’d be in favor this time as well. There’s no question that Russia is using its air power to commit mass atrocities.

But I’m against the calls for a no-fly zone in Ukraine, and I think President Biden is right to resist. The big difference from Darfur isn’t a principled one but pragmatic: In this case, a no-fly zone could escalate into a war between two superpowers.

Let’s understand that a no-fly zone is not some neat and bloodless intervention. It means that we shoot Russian planes out of the air, and our planes are also at risk of being shot down. To protect our planes, we would begin by striking Russian anti-aircraft positions, killing Russians. In other words, the first step of a no-fly zone is going to war with Russia.

This would be an undeclared war of uncertain legality. There is an enormous difference between supplying lethal weaponry to Ukraine and directly bombing Russian anti-aircraft batteries or shooting down Russian aircraft.

Vladimir Putin’s instinct has often been to double down. So what if he reacts to America downing a Mig by lobbing a few missiles at U.S. bases in Europe? Do we then fire missiles at Moscow? Where does this end?

I already think there is a small but non-zero risk of nuclear weapons being used (most likely tactical nuclear weapons, not strategic ones) as a result of the Ukraine crisis. If the U.S. and Russia are shooting down each other’s aircraft and firing mortars at each other’s bases, the risks go up enormously.

The risks of a no-fly zone also have to be weighed against the benefits. A no-fly zone, if successful and if it did not lead to World War III, could prevent Russia from establishing air superiority over Ukraine. That would be important. But it would not be likely to fundamentally change the outcome of the war, and Putin would still be able to blow up hospitals with his ground-based mortars, missiles and RPGs.

The blunt reality is that the main way Putin turns cities to rubble is ground artillery, not bombers. Artillery is a crucial element of Putin’s firepower and military doctrine, but do we really want to propose that we also take out Russian artillery positions?

Resisting a no-fly zone does not mean doing nothing. We can and should do everything we can to stand against Russia as it bombs a maternity hospital.

We can take other steps, particularly the transfer of more weaponry to Ukraine’s resistance, more intelligence sharing about specific targets for Ukraine to take out, more economic pressure on Russia and on oligarchs, and more effort to transfer Migs from Poland or other countries to Ukraine. All that will help Ukraine and bog Russia down while reducing the risk of triggering a larger war.

But a no-fly zone is different.

A no-fly zone is a useful tool that can often advance humanitarian objectives. But in this case, Putin would still have artillery and other tools to commit war crimes, and a no-fly zone would increase the risk of an American-Russian war, even of a nuclear exchange, with incomparably greater casualties than anything plausible in Ukraine alone. On this I reluctantly agree with Biden: That does not seem worth it.

Wise Words

When I read on Sunday that Putin had put Russia’s nuclear forces “on alert”, I was aghast and furious.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, though, for Putin is a ‘man’ without a conscience, one who will do “whatever it takes” to expand his empire, even if it means the destruction of millions of lives.  The best, most realistic and logical of the many editorials I have read on this topic comes from Joel Mathis of The Week, and I would like to share it with you.


Putin just dramatically raised the stakes. What should the U.S. do?

Escalating is easy. Prudence is difficult.

Joel Mathis, February 28, 2022

Once the cycle of escalation starts, it’s hard to stop.

So it’s both alarming and unsurprising that Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sunday put his country’s nuclear forces on alert, pushing back against the flood of sanctions and angry rhetoric from Western leaders that has followed his decision to invade Ukraine. “Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country,” Putin said. He might have been referring to last week’s comment from the French foreign minister that “the Atlantic alliance is a nuclear alliance,” which itself was a response to Putin’s own nuclear-tinged warning against outside countries interfering in his war. Every tit-for-tat heating up of rhetoric just ratchets the tensions a little bit higher.

Escalating is easy. Prudence is difficult. But prudence is exactly what is needed from U.S. and European leaders in the days and weeks ahead. 

What does that mean in this case? It doesn’t mean surrendering to Putin’s aggression by giving up sanctions against Russia or the (so-far) limited efforts to aid Ukraine in its defense. But it does mean remembering — as if he’d let us forget — that Putin has command of a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, and that any direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces might turn a regional calamity into a worldwide disaster. It means (as my colleague Damon Linker put it) being very careful that the “urge to do something” doesn’t make a bad situation much worse. 

It means being calm, even when events seem to demand otherwise.

For example: It’s easy to see how the U.S. response to Putin’s nuclear provocation could spin out of control. As The New York Times’ Max Fisher pointed out on Sunday, it’s unlikely that Putin actually wants to start a nuclear war — but it’s also possible the combination of itchy trigger fingers and simple misunderstandings could end in calamity. “Putin is not insane; he is not going to deliberately start a nuclear war,” Fisher wrote. “Rather, the main risk is a freak accident or miscalculation that sets either side hurtling toward last-ditch ‘defensive’ strikes in error — very unlikely, but not impossible.”

Which is why America’s best response to Russia’s nuclear alert is probably to do nothing for now. “Putin would like nothing better than to take everyone’s mind off Ukraine and focus us all on a game of nuclear chicken,” The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols wrote Sunday. So why give him that opportunity?

The good news is that the Biden Administration is indeed playing it cool for the moment. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called Putin’s escalation “totally unacceptable” — but there was no announcement that American forces were raising their own nuclear alert status. Prudent. 

The bad news is that President Biden will be faced with dozens more moments like Sunday’s, endless crises that will demand a fresh choice about whether or not to respond, and then how to respond effectively without being too provocative. With the stakes so high, it will be much easier to get those decisions wrong than to get them right. And those decisions — no matter how wise or unwise they end up being — will be instantly castigated by a Republican Party that has collectively decided that there will be no rallying around the flag for a Democratic president.

And if, as likely, things get worse in Ukraine in the short-term future, the voices calling for a “tougher” reaction from the United States are likely to get louder. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is an honorable man, but his proposal of a U.S.-enforced “no-fly zone” over Ukraine would immediately, and probably violently, pit American forces against the Russian military. Similarly, glib talk of “regime change” in Russia will probably produce more problems than solutions. The hawkish impulse might be understandable in the current crisis — who doesn’t want to see a bully get a bloody nose, and get it right this instant? — but that doesn’t make it smart: If a bully has a gun, the satisfaction that comes from punching him might be short-lived. That would be … imprudent. 

As always, President Biden might get every decision right and still end up with an unsatisfactory outcome: It remains very likely that Ukraine or some significant portion of it ends up under Putin’s thumb. There may be no winning scenario for the good guys, only a series of less-bad possibilities. Anybody who says they have a secret-but-magical solution to the Russo-Ukraine war — like, say, former President Trump — is selling you something. Sometimes, there is no easy way forward.


A Voice From When News Was News

I often miss the newscasters of yore, people like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, John Chancellor, the team of Huntley-Brinkley, and more.  One who is still around, though no longer serving as a news anchor, is Dan Rather.  His periodic newsletters are insightful and informative, and today I share his latest, his take on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.


Reacting to War

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

Feb 24  

The world spins.

The sun sets on a nation under attack.

The sun rises on a desperate awareness of a new, dire, and unpredictable crisis. 

Panic spreads across Ukraine as the sounds of death echo across its cities and countryside. We must think first and foremost of those facing the brunt of the invasion, especially the civilians who will inevitably be caught in the crossfire of conflict. We can picture the parents desperately trying to soothe the fears of their children, even as they wonder with sickening uncertainty about how they can protect their families.

The tragedy ripples outward. A sense of stability has been shattered in Europe, and around the globe. There are other countries, like the Baltic states, who must wonder what Putin’s plans are for them. There is the NATO alliance, tested in new and urgent ways. And there are the world’s leaders who must decide how to react so as not to risk escalation but also not let this injustice stand unanswered.

What Putin’s motives really are for destabilizing our world order are hard to definitively discern. Perhaps he himself doesn’t know. A return to a perceived Soviet-era glory? A determination to leave his mark as a man of conquest and consequence? A twister of history and fact who believes his own lies? Likely some of all of that, and more.

Reports are that many in Russia are shocked by the turn of events. Do they really want a war? Against a country with whom millions share close ties of friends and family? The chaos Putin has unleashed in their name will reverberate back across the Russian state. What will happen when young Russian soldiers come home in coffins? What will it do to the Russian economy?

A lot of the justification for this conflict, including among Putin’s cheerleaders in the United States, has been that this was provoked by the West, that it was due to the encroachment of NATO to the Russian borders. The tides of history are difficult to separate into simple cause and effect. Many others have noted that NATO expansion has been used as an uneven rationale for Russian grievances. Far more damaging to Putin’s visions of Russian power is the example that Ukraine poses as a counternarrative. Here is a country that could thrive outside of Russia. It is a democracy that challenged Putin’s autocratic vision of Russian destiny. In that way it is similar to what Taiwan means to China.

And here is where I gather hope. I believe that the vast majority of peoples around the globe do not yearn for war. I think most will side with the Ukrainian people, even if world leaders have trouble in the short term mustering an effective response. We have seen a march of authoritarianism and attacks on a world order that has, for all its faults and needs for improvement, nonetheless provided for an era of broad peace since the end of World War II, especially in Europe. Under this umbrella of peace, an internationalized culture has flourished, especially among younger generations. This talk of empires and lines on the map feels dangerously dated, the deadly games that old people play with the lives of the young.

Putin is empowered by an autocratic government he has made pliant to his will. He uses the grievances of fabricated history to justify his actions. He stokes divisions and plays to the faded dreams of a past that never existed. This is also the playbook of some actors in American politics. We must all awaken to the danger.

Might this be the spurring of a great response? Might this be the wake up call the world needs? Might countries reinvigorate old alliances and create new ones to repulse aggressors? Are these the last gasps of the unresolved conflicts of the 20th Century? Or is it something new entirely?

At this point there can be no certainty in any direction. But I hope that by staring into the abyss, we can find a way to understand all that is at stake. Out of upheaval can come new ideas and energy. Outrage can be a motivator for resolve. Putin has started a war that could, in the long term, have the exact opposite results from those he intended. I suspect he will be considered a villain in the histories he does not have the power to rewrite. And I hope that the ultimate response to that villainy is a new commitment to peace, security, and democracy.

The First 100 Days …

If a president serves his entire four-year term, he will have been president for 1,459 days.  The first 100 days are some sort of a marker, though they are less than 15% of his expected tenure, because there is always an analysis of what a president accomplished in his first 100 days.  Additionally, a part of a candidate’s campaign platform also includes “What I plan to accomplish in my first 100 days”, which is later used as a benchmark for the aforementioned analysis.

I would like to clear some things up regarding Joe Biden’s “First 100 Days To Do List”.  Donald Trump seems to think he has a copy of Joe’s list, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t.  Donald Trump has falsely declared that in his first 100 days, Biden plans to …

  • Implement a $4 trillion tax hike
  • Demolish the U.S. energy industry
  • Shut down the entire U.S. economy to combat the coronavirus pandemic
  • Remove windows from homes and offices (Say WHAT???)

Now, obviously Trump has made all of this and more up in that demented mind of his, but … remove windows???  Where does he get this shit?  Anyway, I thought it prudent to take a look at what Joe Biden actually plans to accomplish in the early days of his presidency.

  • Rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) and restore our leadership on the world stage
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords
  • Contact NATO allies, saying “we’re back and you can count on us again.”
  • Work with Congress to pass hate crime legislation
  • Send a bill to Congress repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers, and closing background-check loopholes
  • Send an immigration bill to Congress creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and retaining rights for “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
  • Move to eliminate tax cuts passed under Trump in 2017
  • Direct his secretary of housing and urban development to form a task force and provide a road map for ending homelessness
  • Restore federal worker’s right to unionize
  • Reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, that would restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
  • Issue new sweeping ethics standards that would apply to members of his administration
  • Give the inspectors general full power to investigate any allegation of improper influence

And there is more, but I think you get the picture … none of his goals and plans are ‘evil’, none are power grabs, none favour only the wealthy, and all are things that will benefit the people … We the People.

Joe Biden’s plans for his first 100 days and beyond are necessarily ambitious, for Donald Trump has broken much that needs to be fixed … PRONTO!  And, whether Biden is able to accomplish his initial goals largely depends on whether Mitch McConnell and his band of republican thugs continue to hold a majority in the Senate, for if they do, Biden and the rest of the Democrats in Congress will have to fight tooth and nail for every inch of progress.

Now, let’s think for a minute about what Donald Trump actually did during his first 100 days in 2017.  I can sum it all up in three words:  He Broke Stuff.  In April 2017, Trump touted that …

“No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.”

I guess it all depends on how one defines an accomplishment.  If I kill my neighbor, did I accomplish something, or am I a murderer?  In his first 90 days, it is true that Trump signed bills and issued executive orders … but not a single one did anything to help the people of this nation, or to make us a better nation.  Many of his orders were overturned within that same 90-day period, such as his ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries.  His executive orders overturned and reversed environmental regulations that were put into effect to protect and preserve the air we breathe, the water we rely on, and the ecosystems that are essential to life on this planet.

He attempted to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) that enabled millions of citizens to have affordable health care.  He did manage to place Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, after bribing Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire, thus ensuring that the Supreme Court would lean to the right in most decisions – not a good thing for We the People if we are women or people of colour or non-Christians.

But to my original point.  Donald Trump has no idea what Joe Biden has pledged to do, and he is making up ridiculous lies, rants, to attempt to slur Joe Biden.  I saw a post by a (former) friend on Facebook tonight accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile, and most every comment pertained to Roe v Wade, accusing Biden of wanting to “rip poor unborn children …”.  I could not help myself … I rebutted a number of the comments before finally asking myself why I was wasting my time with these low-life misogynists.  My point here being that, while Trump’s accusations are obviously uneducated, inaccurate, and blatant lies … some of his less intelligent followers will believe every word.  Therefore, I think it is important that we tell the public … over and over and over again … what Joe Biden really stands for and what he truly hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days.  Joe Biden is a good man with integrity and good values … something that has been sorely lacking in the Oval Office for the past 1,327 days since Trump’s inauguration.  Joe Biden cares about people, he cares about our planet.  Donald Trump cares only about … Donald Trump.  Your choice, my friends.

Did Anybody Notice … ?

In this morning’s post, Jeff from On the Fence Voters made the very salient point that we need to focus less on Trump’s rhetoric, and more on what he is actually doing.  I fully agree, and as an example, one thing that nobody seems to be talking about is the fact that today ends the INF treaty that was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which led to the removal of more than 2,600 U.S. and Soviet nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles — specifically, ground-based weapons systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 and 3,417 miles). That proximate distance, and the fact that they could hit their targets within 10 minutes, made such missiles the source of constant fears of miscalculation during the Cold War era.

The landmark agreement, backed by a verification process and inspections on both sides, effectively eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. It lifted the veil of permanent nuclear threat that hung over Europe. It also launched a lengthy subsequent process under which both Washington and Moscow reduced their nuclear arsenals.

In February, Trump announced that the U.S. would be exiting the INF Treaty in six months, citing long-standing U.S. complaints that Russia was violating the treaty’s terms with the development of a new land-based, nuclear-capable cruise missile. The Russians first denied the existence of the missile but now claim its range is under 500 kilometers (310 miles).INF-treaty-range.png“Now that the treaty is over, we will see the development and deployment of new weapons,” said Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. The United States also is believed to be developing at least three new types of medium-range missiles — all of them intended to carry conventional warheads.

Jan Techau of the German Marshall Fund warned that the collapse of the INF Treaty is “the most visible proof” of the shifting geopolitical winds …

“Washington calculated that in order to regain strategic parity with China in this field, it was worth sacrificing European stability.”

National Security Advisor John Bolton recently indicated that he also wants to end the Obama-era New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which expires in 2021. Another historic agreement, it limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russia. Similar to their grievances with the INF agreement, Bolton and his ilk argue that New START is insufficient for the present moment and complain that it did not include short-range or tactical nuclear weapons — no matter that the treaty was not intended to address those sorts of capabilities.

This seems to be the mentality of Trump and Co these days:  If something isn’t good enough or strong enough, rather than work toward making it better, just trash it.  This is exactly what Trump attempted to do with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).  There were problems, it needed tweaking, but rather than iron out the problems, rather than work toward improving it, building on the foundation, Trump tried to ditch the whole thing.  This amounts to what is called “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.

Here’s what some of the experts are saying …

“There is a very real risk that the whole security architecture around nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through neglect, miscalculation and ill-founded threat analysis.” –  former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

“This is serious. The INF treaty has been a cornerstone in arms control for decades, and now we see the demise of the treaty.” – Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

“When something like the INF goes down the drain almost like nothing, it shows you the degree to which people have forgotten the power of these weapons. One day it’ll be too late.” – George Shultz, the U.S. Secretary of State who was instrumental in negotiating the 1987 INF Treaty

The entire world would be safer without nuclear weapons.  Period.  Were it in my power, I would see them all destroyed … every last one.  Today, the world became a little less safe … well no, actually a lot less safe, for far too many of those nuclear weapons are in control of power hungry madmen.  It would seem we are in a race to see whether mankind will destroy itself by destroying the environment, or by blowing up the world with nukes.  As George Shultz said, “One day it’ll be too late”.

Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest

The sheer arrogance and ignorance of some within the Trump regime, including Trump himself, is astounding, jaw-dropping and mind numbing!  Keep in mind that U.S. foreign policy is in tatters at the moment.  Donald Trump is literally despised by all truly democratic nations and loved only by autocrats and strongmen dictators.  Trump has no idea how to conduct foreign relations.  Well, given that he is on wife #3, and has cheated on her at least twice that we’re aware of, I think it’s safe to say he has no idea how to conduct relations.  Period.  However, that doesn’t stop him from sticking his nose into others’ business and telling them how to run their countries.  Three examples in the news just this week …


Dumb

For starters, we have Richard Grenell back in the news.  You may remember the post I did about him last June when he first went to Germany as the Ambassador from the United States.  Grenell is a former Fox ‘News’ commentator, which should tell you something.  When he first arrived in Germany, he made a fool of himself by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel on just about every and any issue he could think of, including immigration.

grenell

Richard Grenell

Grenell is back in the news this week, and at least one German lawmaker is calling for his expulsion, saying he is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.”  In his remarks, Grenell criticized the budget of Germany’s finance minister and said it was unacceptable that the country was once again going to miss its NATO defense spending target.

This is not the role of a diplomat and in fact flies in the face of the very definition of the word ‘diplomacy’!  I hope Germany does send him packing, for he is further damaging relations between the U.S. and Germany that Trump has already rent with his frequent criticisms of Ms. Merkel.  Imagine if Pete Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. tried to tell Trump that, say, he is wrong to declare a state of national emergency just to rob the U.S. of funds to build his ego wall.  Trump would expel him in about 2 seconds flat, right?


Dumber

Then there was Trump himself, who in all his narcissistic arrogance offered President Macron an unsolicited lecture.

“How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France? After 18 weeks of rioting by the Yellow Vest Protesters, I guess not so well!”

After similar comments by Trump last December, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appropriately said …

“We do not take domestic American politics into account, and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump, and the French president says it, too: Leave our nation be.”

It seems to me that Trump’s own nation is in worse shape under his reign than those nations he chooses to criticize and condemn.  Perhaps he should clean up his own house first.


Dumbest

And finally, the very definition of ignominy, is Don Trump, Jr.

Don Trump, Jr., who has proven more than a few times that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and he is truly as much of an idiot as his father, had the unmitigated gall to criticize UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit.  He went so far as to actually write an OpEd piece published in Britain’s The Telegraph, chastising May … taking her to task for not following the advice of his father! It would be funny, except it isn’t.  He claims that …

“… and ultimately, a process that should have taken only a few short months has become a years-long stalemate.”

A ‘few short months’???  And he knows this because …???  Junior’s international experiences are limited to colluding with the Russians to get his father elected and murdering wild animals in Africa! don-trump-junior.pngTrump the Younger went on to inform the land of the Magna Carta, John Locke and Oliver Cromwell that, in his “expert” view, “democracy in the U.K. is all but dead.”  Say WHAT???  Savvy readers will note that it is the U.S. where democracy is ‘all but dead’ and his father is the very one to have pulled the trigger!  This is simply beyond words … this young idiot, this “chip off the old block”, this killer of beautiful animals … has the nerve to give his unsolicited and unwanted opinion on a topic of which he knows nothing!  Junior has no role in our government, is not a member of the cabinet nor the administration … why does he even speak???  My apologies to all my friends in the UK for this abomination … and his father.


Never before has a United States president acted with such reckless abandon, seemingly intent on destroying every relationship the U.S. has worked toward building since it’s founding.  Never before has a president’s family member taken it upon himself to stick his nose into the business of our allies.  Never before has a madman taken the helm, determined to plow into the largest iceberg he can find at warp speed.  To all our allies, on behalf of We the People, I apologize for the terrible behaviour of the ‘man’ in the White House, his family members and appointees, and hope you will bear with us until we are able to rectify this situation.

Who Will Be Next To Go?

It seems a foregone conclusion that Jeff Sessions’ job is likely to be toast shortly after the November mid-term elections, and it isn’t surprising, since Trump has been threatening him almost daily since he rightly recused himself from the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.  But there is another head that’s likely to be on the chopping block after the mid-terms and this one needs to be taken seriously as well.

More and more, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is coming under fire from Trump.  I’ll go into some of the reasons in a minute, but Jeff Davis, who recently retired from the U.S. Navy after serving as a spokesman for the defense secretary sums it up, I think, in two sentences:

“Secretary Mattis lives by a code that is part of his DNA. He is genetically incapable of lying, and genetically incapable of disloyalty.”

He is, at the very core, the exact opposite of Donald Trump.

The probably firing of Mattis has absolutely nothing to do with Mattis’ job performance.  According to Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee …

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job. His departure would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”

But Donald Trump’s first priority when it comes to his staff is not whether the person is qualified, but whether he or she is loyal.  Which is not to say that Jim Mattis is not loyal, for he is, but his loyalty is to his country, not to the man-child who makes decisions based on almost anything except logic.  One of the problems, according to a number of people, is that Mattis is frequently referred to as “the adult in the room”, indicating that in the chaos of this administration and amid the temper tantrums of the ‘man’ in the Oval Office, Mattis’ is the voice of reason.

When Trump, for no apparent reason, announced via tweets that trans-gender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, Mattis announced that trans-gender service members will continue to be allowed to serve pending the results of a study.Trump-MattisWhen Trump demanded that military families no longer be allowed to accompany service members deployed to South Korea, Mattis refused, saying it could be seen by North Korea as a precursor to war.  Mattis and Trump have also been at odds over NATO and Trump’s unwise decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.  Possibly one of the biggest issues Trump has with Mattis is that despite Trump’s numerous requests that Mattis appear on Fox and Friends in order to praise Trump’s agenda, Mattis has declined to do so.

And then there is the Bob Woodward book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, where Mattis is quoted as having likened Trump’s intellect to that of a “fifth or sixth grader”.  Well … sounds about right to me!

There have been other disagreements:

  • In June, Trump ordered Mattis to set up a Space Force over the defense secretary’s objections that such a move would weigh down an already cumbersome bureaucracy.

  • In July, Trump blew up a NATO summit meeting that Mr. Mattis and other national security officials had worked on for months. The Pentagon chief and others saved the final agreement only because they shielded it from the president and urged envoys to complete it before Trump arrived in Brussels.


  • In August, Trump undercut Mr. Mattis after a news conference at the Pentagon in which the defense secretary suggested that the United States military would resume war games on the Korean Peninsula. The exercises had been suspended — against Mr. Mattis’s advice — after Trump met with Kim Jong-un, in Singapore. “There is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games,” Trump tweeted.

MattisWhy should we care?  First, because the truth is that James Mattis is, in reality, often the only ‘adult in the room’.  The fate of Mattis is important because he is widely viewed — by foreign allies and adversaries but also by the traditional national security establishment in the United States — as the cabinet official standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.  Mattis is highly popular with the men and women of the American military. Most of the rest of his fans are people that Trump does not care about: Democrats, establishment Republicans and American allies.  It is for this reason that Mattis’ job is safe until after November 6th, for even Trump realizes that it is not likely to be a popular move.

Obviously, I am not a close personal friend of Mattis, and thus have not had a conversation with him of late, but my best guess is that if Trump fires Mattis, it will come as something of a relief to the often-beleaguered Defense Secretary.  The constant chaos, disagreement and denigration have to take a toll.  I have often said, I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Trump administration, and I think those with a conscience, those who are determined to ‘do the right thing’, must breathe a sigh of relief on their way out.  I hope the observers who predict Mattis’ termination are wrong, for this nation needs him, but I suspect they are right, for he is a good man, an intelligent man, and those are not traits that are valued in the White House today.  Time will tell.