WHAT A WASTE!!!

The total annual salaries for the 435 members of the House of Representatives is $76,300,300.  That’s just the salary, not including benefits, travel, and other perks, and not including all their staff!  When you add it all up, the total budget for the House of Representatives is $1.715 billion!  We the Taxpayers are the ones who pay these salaries.  Now, mind you, I don’t begrudge them their pay and relative to what the average corporate executive earns in a year, House members’ salaries are actually less.  But what I do mind is paying for people to do a job that they are not doing, but instead are spending their time and our money on pointless, stupid time-wasting games.

As the Republican Party leadership makes plans for their next session beginning January 3rd, 2023, we hear that their sole intent will be to impeach President Biden … multiple times if possible … for grounds as yet undetermined.  They play to spend their entire first year doing nothing but running investigations into every aspect of the Biden administration, including the president’s family members, looking for evidence of … what???

These are just a few of the ‘investigations’ they are plotting:

  • They will seek to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of Homeland Security, not for misdeeds but because they are displeased that the Biden administration’s immigration policies are more humane than the Trump administration’s.

  • They’re planning to probe the alleged “politicization” of the Justice Department, claiming it is a hotbed of leftists and Democratic partisans. Additionally, they plan an investigation into what they claim is the ‘mistreatment’ of the January 6th insurrectionists.  Say WHAT???

  • They intend to investigate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the goal of gutting the IRS budget. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act provided funding for additional IRS staffing to pursue tax fraud by corporations and the wealthy, but the Republicans want to ensure that doesn’t happen.

  • They say they plan to waste even more time and resources “investigating” the source of Covid, claiming that there was some vast ‘conspiracy’ involving none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, responsible for the virus. They say they want to see Fauci imprisoned, or perhaps even executed for his alleged ‘crimes’.

  • And of course they plan to make President Biden’s son, Hunter, the subject of some massive investigation into his emails, his computer, his sexual relationships, and probably the brand of socks he wears! Funny the double standard here … Trump’s children were involved in a number of unsavory things, but not once was an investigation launched into their shenanigans.  In fact, they were given high-level security clearances against the recommendations of the White House personnel security office at Trump’s behest.

These are but a few of the pseudo-investigations that Kevin McCarthy, Marge Greene and others are rubbing their hands together and salivating over launching.  The end goal, as I mentioned, is to impeach President Biden.  Why?  Because he’s not a Republican, because he won the 2020 election, because he’s a man of conscience and integrity, unlike most of the Republicans.  And there may well be yet another reason … because Donald Trump asked ordered them to.

Now, we can shrug it off, for it’s unlikely with the slim majority the Republicans will have in the House that they will succeed in impeaching the president.  Surely there are at least a few who would be uncomfortable with such a dramatic and ludicrous move.  And even if they succeeded in impeachment, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that the Senate would convict him.  But it is still important because it is a denigration of our entire government, turning the United States Congress into a circus act.  In my mind, at least, it signals the beginning of the end of a democratic system.  The Republicans are obviously not interested in earning their keep, in providing good governance, but are only interested in domination.  Then again, maybe part of the scheme is to deflect attention from their own crimes and those of their ‘leader’, Donald Trump.

What makes me furious is that the Republicans have absolutely no plan for policy-making or for legislating, which is what we hired them to do!  Their sole focus is going to be on trying to bring down the Biden administration and block any and all legislation proposed by the Democrats.  And for this … for this we are going to pay them $76,300,300!!!  I don’t know about you folks, but I’m sick and damned tired of paying hard-earned tax dollars and getting absolutely nothing in return!  I’d far rather my tax dollars go to help improve the lot in life of people who are struggling just to survive in this world than the already-wealthy bozos the Republicans have shoved into Congress!

Too little hype, several climate change initiatives passed in last week’s elections

There is no single issue that is more important to the survival of life on earth than the environment and climate change. None. Yet, I think most of us were unaware of the environment-related issues that were on the ballot on November 8th, most of which passed muster with the voters. Our friend Keith summarizes …

musingsofanoldfart

In an article by Frida Garza of The Guardian called “Voters pass historic climate initiatives in ‘silent surprise’ of US midterms,” some very good news occurred while we weren’t paying too much attention.

The full article can be linked to below, but here are a few paragraphs that summarize the story:

“While the economy and abortion rights drove momentum behind the midterm election this year, voters in cities and states across the US also turned out to pass a number of climate ballot initiatives .

Among the measures passed were ahistoric multibillion-dollar investmentinto environmental improvement projects in New York state, including up to $1.5bn in funding for climate change mitigation. This election also saw a $50m green bond act pass in Rhode Island, and in Colorado, the city of Boulder approved a climate tax as well as a ballot measure that will allow the city to borrow against…

View original post 321 more words

How Dems Should Tackle Economic Issues

Our dear friend Gronda has returned!!! I don’t know about you all, but I’ve missed her so very much! And after her hiatus, she is primed and ready to go, her usual fiery self, as her post today shows us! Let’s listen to Gronda telling us what the Democrats need to do to get the attention of the people in the coming three weeks.

Gronda Morin

If Dems want to maintain their majority status in the US Congress in 2023, they cannot cede winning the debate on US economic issues to GOP MAGA candidates. 

There’re 2 things that Dems can do to successfully tackle economic issues head on. First Dems can start by trusting the intelligence of even GOP MAGA voters. No, Dems won’t move the needle by much, but any movement can make a difference in close elections. The second major argument is that if GOP prevail in winning majority power in US House and Senate, US economy including inflation will probably be made worse.

Just look at what happened in 2022 when a conservative UK politician enacted a favorite right-wing solution to any economic problem, widespread tax cuts which was the catalyst for a major financial meltdown. As per a 10/17/2022 Reuters report, “Under the new policy, most of (former PM) Truss’s 45 billion…

View original post 907 more words

What Drives The Election Roller Coaster?

The upcoming elections remind me watching a game of tennis, or ping pong … back, forth, left, right, back, forth.  Round and round she goes, where she lands no one knows.  To say that it is stressful is an understatement!  Frank Bruni’s latest column sums it all up fairly nicely …


Live By the Trump, Die By the Trump

By Frank Bruni

8 September 2022

Democrats were doomed. We prediction-mad pundits felt predictable certainty about that. The recent history of midterm elections augured disaster for the party in power. Inflation would make the damage that much worse.

So why are Republicans sweating?

Their overreach on abortion and the subsequent mobilization of women voters explain a great deal but not everything. There’s another prominent plotline. Its protagonist is Donald Trump. And its possible moral is a sweet and overdue pileup of clichés — about reaping what you sow, paying the piper, lying in the bed you’ve made.

Republicans chose to kneel before him. Will he now bring them to their knees?

Thanks in large part to Trump, they’re stuck with Senate candidates — Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters in Arizona — whose ineptness, inanity, immoderation or all three significantly diminish their chances in purple states at a propitious juncture.

Thanks in even larger part to Trump, voters ranked threats to democracy as the most pressing problem facing the country in a recent NBC News poll. That intensifying concern is among the reasons that President Biden went so big and bold last week in his intensely debated speech about extremism in America. He was eyeing the midterms, and he was wagering that Republican leaders’ indulgence of Trump’s foul play and fairy tales might finally cost them.

Trump is also a factor in Republicans’ vulnerability regarding abortion rights. For his own selfish political purposes, he made grand anti-abortion promises. He appointed decidedly anti-abortion judges, including three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. He as much as anyone fired up the anti-abortion movement to the point where Republicans may now get burned.

With two months until Election Day, Republicans want to focus voters’ attention on unaffordable housing, exorbitant grocery bills and the generally high cost of living. They want to instill deeper and broader fear about immigration and crime. They want to portray Democrats as the enemies of the American way.

But that’s more than a little tricky when Trump had America’s secrets strewn throughout the bowels of Mar-a-Loco. When his excuses for mishandling those classified documents change at a dizzying clip, contradict previous ones and often boil down to his typical infantile formula of I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I. When he uses Truth Social, the media penal colony to which Twitter and Facebook sentenced him, for all the old falsehoods plus new ones. When criminal charges against him aren’t out of the question.

The progressive excesses of some Democrats pale beside the madness of this would-be monarch.

Democrats could still have a bad, even brutal, November. That is indeed how the pendulum historically swings, and two months is plenty of time for political dynamics to change yet again. Biden could overplay his hand, a possibility suggested by that speech.

But for the moment, Republicans are spooked. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, has decided to try to recapture the party’s long-ago Contract-With-America magic by detailing a “Commitment to America” that will no doubt omit what should be the most important commitment of all — to the truth. It also won’t erase the fact that 196 of the 529 Republican nominees running for the House, the Senate, governor, attorney general or secretary had “fully denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” according to a chilling FiveThirtyEight analysis of the party’s nominees as of Wednesday.

That morally corrupt position was probably a political asset in their primaries, just as having Trump’s endorsement usually was. But in the general election? As Republican nominees pivot toward that, at least a few of them are realizing that it’s a different ballgame — and that Trump is trouble. They’re taking baby steps away from the world’s biggest baby.

Good luck with that. He’ll never let them go, never muffle himself long enough or behave well enough for there to be a Republican narrative that doesn’t revolve around him. That was clear to Republicans from the start. To hang with him is to hang with him.

Offending MAGA Fascists

When I first heard President Biden refer to the maga-cult as “semi-fascist”, my only argument was that there was no ‘semi’ about it — given the chance, they would go full-on fascist. They have Mussolini’s playbook in their safe. Clay Jones agrees, only he states it better than I ever could AND … he does cartoons! Thank you, Clay, for another spot-on opinion and great ‘toon!!!

claytoonz

President Joe Biden gave an accurate description of Trump supporters within the Republican Party, and many people aren’t happy with it.

Speaking at a fundraiser for Democrats, the president said, “It’s not just Trump. It’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something: It’s like semi-fascism.” He expanded on this at another rally saying, “The MAGA Republicans are a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence.”

In a column for The Washington Post titled, “No, MAGA Republicans do not support ‘semi-fascism,” Henry Olsen makes excuses for and defends MAGA fascists. It takes him a while to get to the January 6 Trump coup attempt, but he writes that it “does not justify Biden’s use of the inflammatory label ‘semi-fascism.’” Uh, yes it does.

The attempt to overturn an election, overthrow the government…

View original post 872 more words

A Promise Made … And Kept

This week, President Biden announced his student loan forgiveness program … a long-awaited program to help those lower-and-middle income people who are struggling under a mound of student debt.  Since this is a program that helps real people, not wealthy corporate executives, it was to be expected that the Republicans would be up in arms, and they did not disappoint. It is reminiscent of the hue-and-cry when President Obama announced the Affordable Care Act, aka ‘Obamacare’.  I’ve read a number of editorials, both pro and con, but I think Robert Hubbell sums it up best …


Promises Kept.

Robert B. Hubbell

25 August 2022

       President Biden kept another campaign promise on Wednesday by announcing a student loan forgiveness program that will cancel up to $20,000 for certain borrowers. Importantly, the plan also provides relief to future borrowers by cutting in half the amount that borrowers have to pay each month from 10% to 5% of discretionary income and forgives loan balances after ten years of payments. The White House Fact Sheet for Student Loan Relief contains the details of the plan. Per the Fact Sheet, the plan will

  • Provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients
  • Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for married couples.
  • Extend the pause on federal student loan repayment will be extended one final time through December 31, 2022

          The Department of Education estimates that 43 million borrowers will receive some form of relief and about 20 million borrowers will receive complete forgiveness. The DOE estimates that 90% of all relief will go to borrowers earning less than $75,000.

          Biden’s proposal will improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans. For reasons difficult to understand, the backlash against Biden’s plan has been fast and furious. For Republicans, the hypocrisy writes itself. The GOP has described Biden’s loan forgiveness as “socialism” and a “moral hazard.” And yet, fifteen Republicans in Congress (or their business affiliates) received forgiveness of $16,193,000 in loans they received from the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Plan [emphasis added]—an average debt cancellation of more than $1 million, compared to a maximum forgiveness of $20,000 under Biden’s Plan. And then there is Donald Trump, who has petitioned for bankruptcy on six occasions to avoid paying the debts of his businesses . . . .

          The Editorial Board of the Washington Post seemed to take personal offense over the plan in an editorial entitled, Biden’s student loan forgiveness is an expensive, regressive mistake. The Board wrote:

          The loan-forgiveness decision is even worse [than the four month extension of the moratorium on loan repayments]. Widely canceling student loan debt is regressive. It takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize the education debt of people with valuable degrees.

          While the Post’s objection is technically true, it is also true for the following subsidies and credits: Trump’s 2017 tax cut for millionaires, oil company subsidies, export subsidies for US manufacturers, auto industry subsidies, lower tax rates for hedge fund managers (“carried interest deduction”), 100% deductibility for yachts purchased for “business purposes,” and deduction for 100% of the future depreciation for private jets in their first year of service.

          All of the above subsidies, credits, and deductions are regressive because—as the Post notes—“the broader tax base is mostly made up of workers” who are not millionaires, who do not manage hedge funds, who do not own oil wells, and who do not purchase yachts or private jets. And yet, the Post and others reserve peevish indignation for a program that helps middle- and lower-income earners who took a chance by investing in their futures and themselves.

         And there were complaints about “unfairness” by those who paid their loans or who do not qualify for loan forgiveness. Biden did what he could given the limits on the Department of Education’s ability to modify its loan programs. The fact that Biden crafted a plan that targets middle- to low-income earners was a reasonable compromise. Was it perfect? Of course not. But when that becomes the standard for achieving progress, all forward movement will cease. We should celebrate another promise kept by Biden.

G-G-Ghost??? G-G-Gun???

The term ‘ghost gun’ has been in the news a great deal already this week (almost as much as that singer who claims to be pregnant!).  Turns out the Department of Justice has issued a new ruling pertaining to ghost guns and President Biden announced the new ruling yesterday.  I saw the headlines more than a few times, but passed them over for the time being, intending to return to the story when I had time to ask some questions and seek answers.  So, late Monday night, I asked my first question:  What the hell is a ghost gun, anyway?

And then I sought the answer.  A ghost gun, as I understand it, is a kit … rather a do-it-yourself gun that comes in pieces but can be easily assembled in about a half hour.  The attraction for the gun nuts is that the ghost gun is … or has been heretofore … untraceable.  Anybody, regardless of age or criminal history, can buy these kits, make a gun, and POW!  Now … if you want to own a gun, but you don’t intend to commit a crime with it, then … why does it matter, why do you care if it’s traceable?  It seems to me that the only people who would spend their money for a gun kit, go to the trouble of assembling the gun, just so nobody would know they have the gun, are those people who intend to use said gun in the commission of a crime!  You follow my logic here?  Guns have one purpose and one purpose only:  to kill.

The new Department of Justice rule highlighted by the President on Monday would make it illegal for firms to make such kits without a serial number for the components and for a gun dealer to market the kits without requiring the buyer to undergo a background check. That way, at least when such guns are recovered after a crime there is some hope of tracing the perpetrators.  Personally, I would much prefer that these guns be outlawed altogether, but I am in the minority on my stance on guns, so I would happily seek a reasonable compromise.  I strongly suspect, though, that the new ruling will be found to be unenforceable.  Companies that sell gun kits and people who buy them do not necessarily play by the rules.

President Biden is a bit more optimistic than I, though …

“All of a sudden, it’s no longer a ghost. It has a return address. And it’s going to help save lives, reduce crime and get more criminals off the streets.”

An oversimplification, perhaps.  I mean … thus far, we haven’t been able to get any guns out of the hands of criminals!  Our country is the laughingstock of the world for our lax and unenforced gun ‘laws’, such as they are.  Hell, we haven’t even managed to pass a law banning assault weapons, guns that kill hundreds at a time and were designed specifically and only for use by the military!  Why?  Because far too many members of Congress have been bought and paid for by the gun industry.

Yesterday, I read that Georgia’s Governor Kemp signed into law a bill that enables people to carry a concealed weapon without a license.  That stoked my curiosity about the various states’ gun laws.  Did you know that an estimated 22% of US gun owners acquired their most recent firearm without a background check—which translates to millions of Americans acquiring millions of guns, no questions asked, each year?

Fourteen states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada , New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington) and the District of Columbia generally require universal background checks at the point of sale for all sales of all classes of firearms, whether they are purchased from a licensed dealer or an unlicensed seller.  But how do you enforce that law?  If I owned a gun and wanted to sell it to my neighbor, I could simply hand him the gun and he could hand me the money and the deal is done.  The laws, many of which are being taken OFF the books in many states, aren’t enforceable!  Only honest people, people who truly want a rifle for target practice or a pistol in case of a home invasion, are going to abide by the law.  All others know exactly how to circumvent it!  Ghost guns are only a part of the problem!

In 2021, about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations and reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The figure marked a tenfold increase from 2016.  And those are just the ones that were found!  How many more are out there in the hands of people with criminal backgrounds, people with a better aim than they have sense, and people with a temper?  In my ever-so-humble opinion, the only way to put the problem of ghost guns to bed is to shut down every seller of the kits.  Every. Last. One.  Make them illegal to buy or sell.

The gun laws we have thus far are insufficient to keep our society safe.  Worse yet, many states’ laws are even more lax.  And still worse yet, a large portion of this nation would happily fight for their right to own a gun … even before they would stand firm for their right to be a parent.  And, a topic for another day is 3D-printed guns, yet another form of ghost gun that can be produced with a 3D printer that anybody can purchase for just a few hundred dollars.

The entire gun industry is a scourge on this nation.  A few fat, wealthy blokes are laughing and eating steak tonight, while other, not-so-wealthy people will find themselves dead via a gun by morning.  The people of the United States do not need to worry about being invaded by another nation, for we are hellbent and determined to destroy ourselves from within.

Eric Boehlert’s Final Press Run

When I received this newsletter by Eric Boehlert, founder of Press Run on Monday, I set it aside, knowing I wanted to use it in a blog post, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  Yesterday I learned that on Monday, the same day this article was published, Eric Boehlert was hit and killed by a train while riding his bicycle.  That news took my breath.  Eric Boehlert has done a fine job of holding the media accountable, holding their feet to the fire, and he will be sorely missed by those of us who read and appreciated his perspective.


Why is the press rooting against Biden?

Burying great news

Eric Boehlert, 4 April 2022

Like clockwork, the first Friday of the month brought another blockbuster jobs report. The U.S. economy under President Joe Biden added another 400,000-plus new jobs in March, it was announced last week.

Biden is currently on pace, during his first two full years in office, to oversee the creation of 10 million new jobs and an unemployment rate tumbling all the way down to 3 percent. That would be an unprecedented accomplishment in U.S. history. Context: In four years in office, Trump lost three million jobs, the worst record since Herbert Hoover.

Yet the press shrugs off the good news, determined to keep Biden pinned down. “The reality is that one strong jobs report does not snap the administration out of its current circumstances,” Politico stressed Friday afternoon. How about 11 straight strong job reports, would that do the trick? Because the U.S. economy under Biden has been adding more than 400,000 jobs per month for 11 straight months.  

The glaring disconnect between reality and how the press depicts White House accomplishments means a key question lingers: Why is the press rooting against Biden? Is the press either hoping for a Trump return to the White House, or at least committed to keeping Biden down so the 2024 rematch will be close and ‘entertaining’ for the press to cover? Is that why the Ginni Thomas insurrection story was politely marched off the stage after just a few days of coverage last week by the same news outlets that are now in year three of their dogged Hunter Biden reporting? (“ABC This Week” included 19 references to Hunter Biden yesterday.)

Just look at the relentlessly dour economic coverage. For the press, inflation remains the dominant, bad-news-for-Dems economic story. Even on Friday, the day the stellar jobs report was released, “inflation” was mentioned on cable news nearly as often as “jobs,” according to TVeyes.com.

Axios contorted itself by claiming Biden’s promise to add “millions” of new jobs (which he’s already accomplished), was being threatened because there aren’t enough workers, because so few people are out of work— or something.

The home-run report itself was often depicted as a mixed bag. These were some of the glass-half-empty headlines that appeared in the wake of the latest runaway numbers:

Totally normal journalism, right? The president announces another blockbuster jobs report and the press presents it as borderline bad news.

Note that the above headlines about the sour mood prevailing despite the great jobs, and how uncertainty looms, came from the Post, the same outlet that slotted the March jobs report into 87th placed on its website on Friday.

That afternoon readers on the daily’s homepage had to scroll down 87 headlines before they saw the first reference to the great economic news. Among the headlines that ran higher on the Post site that afternoon were, “What’s The Best Way to Share My Old Home Videos?” and “The Duke-North Carolina Rivalry, By the Numbers.”

On-air, CNN also downplayed the jobs report, according to Dean Baker, senior economist for Center for Economic and Policy Research. “CNN’s coverage of the report quickly turned to inflation,” he wrote. “In its more general coverage of the economy, the jobs report — which tells us about the employment and earnings situation for more than 160 million people — was barely a blip.”  

Sunday’s “Meet the Press” round table featured two segments with assembled pundits. One focused on how immigration might be a problem for Democrats in the midterms, the other on how Trump might be a problem for Democrats in the midterms. As usual, Biden’s historic economic record was ignored.

That’s why, according to a recent poll, 37 percent of Americans think the economy lost jobs over the last year, when it’s gained 7 million. (Just 28 percent of people know jobs were up.)

Virtually all the Beltway coverage today agrees on this central point: When it comes to the economy, Biden’s approval rating is taking a hit because Americans are freaked out by inflation. But maybe it’s taking a hit because Americans are under the false impression that jobs are disappearing. Voters don’t know what they don’t know because the press isn’t interested in telling them about record job success and an economy that’s years ahead of where experts thought it would be coming out of a global pandemic.

Biden is facing not just one organized opposition in the form of the GOP, but another in the form of the Beltway press corps.

Last week, they hit Biden with 14 separate questions at a press briefing over the supposed “gaffe” he made, expressing his moral outrage over the mass killings Russian President Vladimir Putn has unleashed in Ukraine. So focused on trying to trip up Biden, the press didn’t ask a single question about the state of the Ukraine war.  

And remember all winter how the press treated Covid as the most important “crisis” Biden faced and hung the pandemic around his neck? Today, the topic has vanished, the press has given the White House no credit for steering the country back to normalcy, and instead has latched onto gas prices as being a defining issue under Biden. The buried Covid coverage represents a telling example of how an issue that the press itself claimed would define the Biden administration gets translated into no news when it turns towards positive territory.

The Beltway press needs to take its thumb off the Biden scale.

R.I.P. Mr. Boehlert … you will be sorely missed.

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.

Being Human — It Ain’t Easy

I think that being a human is not an easy task.  We care … too much.  Things that happen in our own backyard, but also across the globe, take a toll on our psyche.  I have decided that in my next life, I shall be a wolf … hopefully in an isolated area where humans don’t exist!  Meanwhile, I am stuck with being a human and there is a buildup of snark looking for a place to go, so …


Point your finger elsewhere … it isn’t the president’s fault!

People in the U.S. have long been spoiled, and when things don’t go just as they would like, they look around for somebody to blame.  Most often that pointed finger of blame lands on President Biden these days, but let me tell you something, people … Joe Biden is doing the best job he can, given that he faces a long, uphill battle to fight against the greed and corruption that has become a part of the nation’s unfettered capitalism, and he damn sure isn’t the one responsible for the rising cost of fuel!

The latest, of course, is fuel prices.  In most states, a gallon of gasoline costs anywhere from $4 to $6 and will be going higher almost immediately, now that we have banned Russian oil imports.  But who’s really to blame, if anyone?  Truth is we only import about 3% of our oil from Russia, so the impact should be minimal.  BUT … what everyone downplays or fails to note is that U.S. oil companies are still making record profits!  They could reduce their profits and keep fuel prices reasonable, but … no way, Josè!  No way is Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon-Mobil, going to agree to cut his salary of $23,494,900 per year!  Yes, you read that right … the man makes more than $23 million dollars each year and his salary has not been reduced by a single penny, while fuel prices have more than doubled!

And last year, Exxon-Mobil made $23 billion in profit, which more than made up for their losses the prior year due to the pandemic and lack of travel!  And that’s after paying Mr. Woods his $23 million!

The press plays a role here, too, in riling the masses.  At Monday’s White House press briefing, CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe recited quotes from motorists he had interviewed at a local gas station. Then he asked press secretary Jen Psaki, “What is the President’s message to Americans who are going to the gas station today and seeing prices so high?”  Ms. Psaki is a far better woman than I am, for my answer to Mr. O’Keefe would have been along the lines of … “Suck it up, Buttercup!” (Note to future presidents:  don’t hire me as your press secretary!)

Do you see the people in the UK blaming Boris Johnson or the Queen for the increase in their fuel prices, or the people of France blaming Emmanuel Macron?  No, it is only in the U.S. that people don’t stop to think or do a bit of research into the cause for rising fuel prices – they immediately jump to the conclusion that the president must be to blame!  If lightening were to strike their house and set it afire, they would find some justification for blaming President Biden!

My friends … we are all citizens of this planet.  No matter what country we live in or feel we belong to, we are all citizens of a greater global community.  When times are tough, they are tough for all of us.  The war started by Russia in the Ukraine is going to take an economical toll on every single nation on earth – that is an undeniable fact.  Food prices, fuel prices, and prices for other commodities such as vehicles, clothing, and housing will rise … temporarily.  It isn’t Joe Biden’s fault nor Boris Johnson’s … it’s the way the world works.  Don’t like paying $4 for gasoline?  No, of course not, but I predict it will climb even higher, perhaps as high as $10 before the end of summer.

How can you help?  Drive less, turn your heat down, buy fewer groceries (stop throwing food out and you won’t need to buy as much!), and put off long distance travel plans until next year.  If the oil companies start losing sales, they will have no choice but to re-think their price-gouging!  If you do none of this, then you are contributing to the problem, rather than to the solution, so instead of blaming the President, look in the mirror for a place to point your finger.


Meanwhile … another school shooting

It happened in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday.  A group of students was standing in front of the school when three vehicles drove past them.  The three vehicles circled around to pass them again and as they did, shots rang out.  One student was left dead, two seriously injured.  No less than 35 shots were fired.  Fifteen-year-old Josè David Lopez was killed, and two other students were injured. An 18-year-old girl remains in critical condition and a 16-year-old girl is in serious condition.  Six teenagers between 14 and 17-years-old now face first-degree murder charges in the shooting.

Where did kids 14 years old get a gun???  Did their parents leave it lying around, or was it perhaps, as in the case of Ethan Crumbley last year where the parents actually bought a gun for their child?  STUPID!!!  Guns do not … the people of this country have proven this millions of times … guns do not belong in the hands of the average civilian!!!  How many children have to die before Congress finally understands that gun control laws are essential???  Wake up, ye damn fools!  Get the guns out of the hands of everyone other than military or police!

Next time it might be your child who ends up dead or in prison for life.