Our friend rawgod doesn’t post often, but today he had something to say and I think he said it quite well. Thanks, rg, for reminding us what is truly important (and it ain’t Major League Baseball!!!)

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

I have not written much personally lately, I haven’t felt much need to say anything wise or useful. The world is going to hell in many ways, while some people are doing great things to bring the world together. Who gets the most media attention. The loud obnoxious ones. You’d think people would be over Trump by now, he has already proved he is incapable of being a leader for a nation of people, but listening to today’s American media they still think he is the best thing since Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread sucks. So does Trump.

But that’s just one thing. While the Putin war on Ukraine is well into its second year, it is no longer headline news. All the political bullshit around and behind the war is still there, sort of, but it is no longer about people being killed every day. The media does not want…

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Ukraine and Russia. The Tragedies, Histories, Hubris and Hypocrisies.

I have had an interest in history since I could read words on a page, but in truth I am no more a scholar than anybody else and I often struggle to understand the many ways in which the past has led to the present. Conversely, our friend Roger, well-versed in the history of our world, has an analytical mind that never ceases to amaze me. Today, I share his analysis of the Russian war against Ukraine that I found very enlightening and I think you will, too. I was not surprised to find that he put over 22 hours of work into this excellent post. I do hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and ponder his words, for they have value in understanding what is happening, why it is happening, and the likely outcome. Thank you, Roger!

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

UkraineAn Introduction

The 24th February 2023 marks the 1st Anniversary of the War between the nations of Ukraine and The Russian Federation. In military terms this is a continuation of The Russian Federation’s annexation of the Crimea and support of ethnic russian separatists in what was the south-east of Ukraine both commencing in 2014. An anniversary commentary though is not one which lends itself to shortness, not when History weighs in.

The Tragic Tides of History

History is not something that simply happened decades ago, but has cause and effects that stretch back over the centuries. If you cannot accept that don’t read anything further. This is not a post for the blinkered. We are looking at another chapter in the annals of Human Tragedy. One whose pages arguably were already laid out and just waiting for words to be written, in of course red; no not ink.

Each war, …

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The Right Thing To Do

When I woke up yesterday morning and the first thing in my newsfeed was that President Biden was, at that very moment, in Ukraine, I was surprised, to say the least.  I knew he had hoped to visit, but last I heard, the trip was unlikely to take place due to security concerns.  The news of his time spent with President Zelenskyy reinforced my views that President Biden is a good and decent man.  It also reinforced what I’ve been saying for a while – don’t judge him by the number of years he’s been on this earth.  Biden has a reserve of energy that would put most people half his age to shame. Former policy advisor and political journalist Taegan Goddard said that the trip “will likely go down as one of the most important moments of his presidency.”

Eugene Robinson, writing for The Washington Post, gives us a bit of insight into Biden’s trip …

Biden’s Kyiv visit shows Putin seriously misjudged his courage and resolve

Eugene Robinson

20 February 2023

As President Biden walked the streets of Kyiv on Monday beside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, air raid sirens began to wail. A Russian fighter jet had reportedly taken off from Belarus, carrying the type of hypersonic missile that Ukraine’s defenders cannot shoot down. The two leaders did not flinch.

Say what you want about Biden, he lacks neither courage nor resolve. His surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital might be the first time a sitting president has braved an active war zone — with no inviolable U.S. military cordon around him — since 1864, when Abraham Lincoln went to see the fighting at Fort Stevens, near the northern tip of the District of Columbia, and came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters. “Get down, you damn fool!” shouted a young Union officer named Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who later served as a justice on the Supreme Court.

No one took a potshot or fired a missile at Biden. But to reach Kyiv he had to endure a 10-hour train ride from Poland — followed, after his visit with Zelensky, by another 10-hour journey back to safety. The president spent a full day exposed to potential Russian fire.

What many people fail to understand about Biden, the oldest president in our history, is the extent to which he is guided by a sense of mission. He came out of retirement and ran for the White House only because he believed he had the unique ability, and thus the obligation, to save the nation from another four years of Donald Trump. And he has faced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the same burden of duty imposed by history.

“I’m a great respecter of fate,” Biden said last year, having seen so much of it during his long and eventful life: He lost his first wife and daughter to a car accident, lost his first son to cancer, almost lost his second son to drug addiction. And in 1988, he suffered two brain aneurysms and was given no better than a 50 percent chance of survival.

In his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep,” Biden wrote: “Maybe I should have been frightened at this point, but I felt calm. In fact, I felt becalmed, like I was floating gently in the wide-open sea. It surprised me, but I had no real fear of dying.”

In Kyiv alongside Zelensky, Biden walked with the cautious gait of an 80-year-old man. Perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin, in deciding to launch the invasion, thought Biden’s age meant his response would be one of weakness or vacillation. If so, he neglected to take into account Biden’s deep and abiding Roman Catholic faith, his belief in destiny, his commitment to the rules-based international order — and the fact that Biden is rarely more animated than when he talks about drag racing in his Corvette at triple-digit speeds. He is a man with considerable tolerance for risk.

Biden and Zelensky reminisced about the awful moment when the war began. “Russian planes were in the air and tanks were rolling across your border. … You said that you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again,” Biden said. “That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. … Perhaps even the end of Ukraine. You know, one year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

Other world leaders allied with Ukraine have visited Kyiv, as have other high-ranking U.S. officials, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But Zelensky said Monday’s was “the most important visit in the whole history of the Ukraine-U.S. relationship” — and that was an understatement.

Without Biden’s leadership and diplomacy, it is hard to imagine how the NATO alliance could have been made stronger by Putin’s invasion, rather than weaker. Without Biden and Congress providing what almost amounts to an open spigot of military and economic aid, it is hard to imagine Ukraine not only surviving the Russian onslaught but also reclaiming lost territory and inflicting massive casualties on Putin’s forces.

I should also mention Vice President Harris, who last year, at the annual Munich Security Conference, warned of the “imminent” Russian invasion at a time when some allies were still skeptical that Putin would pull the trigger. Last week, at this year’s Munich gathering, she laid out a compelling case for holding Putin and his soldiers criminally responsible for “crimes against humanity.”

It would be no surprise if Putin reacted to the Biden visit with a deadly barrage of missiles against civilian targets. No one can keep Putin from waging his war. But Biden can — and will — keep him from winning it.

There will be critics of Biden’s trip, both within the U.S. and from outside, but in my book what the president did was courageous and was the right thing to do.  Full stop.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy embrace after their visit to the Wall of Remembrance to pay tribute to killed Ukrainian soldiers, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Alive And Well, Thanks To RSF!!!

Last March I wrote about Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor/producer (at that time) at Russia’s state television Channel One.  On that evening back in March, in the midst of the nightly live news (propaganda) program, she had burst onto the set behind the news anchor yelling, “Stop the war. No to war” and carrying a sign …

Marina Ovsyannikova, Editor at a Russian TV Channel, Interrupted Live Broadcast with Sign That Read ‘NO WAR’

At the time of my post, I predicted that there likely could be no good outcome for Ms. Ovsyannikova – but I was wrong!!!  This is one time I’m happy to be wrong!  Yesterday my inbox contained a letter from Christophe Deloire, the Secretary-General of RSF – Reporters Without Borders – that began with this statement from Ms. Ovsyannikova …

“The resources deployed by RSF were extraordinary. They saved my life, they helped me to flee Russia, a country where the government is run by war criminals.”

Mr. Deloire’s letter continues …

Five days after Marina Ovsiannikova became a symbol of resistance against Russian propaganda in March 2022 by brandishing an anti-war sign on camera in a Russian TV news studio, I called her to offer our support. In September, when she was under house arrest in Moscow, fitted with an electronic bracelet and facing a possible ten-year jail sentence, she told us she wanted to flee Russia. She left Moscow a few days later and, for four months, a small unit of RSF employees worked in the utmost secrecy on organising her escape, called “Operation Evelyne.”

What she did shows that it is possible to resist propaganda apparatuses, that one can disrupt them from within, that one can say no, and that it is possible to get out of them, to defect, to oppose the falsification of history and the manipulation of the news.

It is your support that makes this possible.

Thank you for your help.

Back in October, The Washington Post and other outlets reported that Ms. Ovsyannikova had escaped house arrest with her 11-year-old daughter, but there was no word of their whereabouts nor how they had escaped, so I was skeptical at that time.  There is an RSF press conference with Ms. Ovsyannikova – it is over an hour long and there are difficulties with the sound in the beginning, but in case you’re interested in seeing her up-close, here’s the link.

Two thumbs up 👍👍 to Marina Ovsyannikova for following her conscience nearly a year ago, even though it nearly cost her life, and another two thumbs 👍👍 to Reporters Without Borders for their dedication and determination!

My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

We Cannot Abandon Them!!!

One of my biggest concerns about Republicans holding a majority, albeit a small one, in the House of Representatives next year is the threat that I’ve heard bandied about that they would cut off all future funding to Ukraine.  Some claim we “need to move on from Ukraine”, but how do you just abandon an entire nation of people?  It breaks my heart to think that this nation would simply stop aiding Ukraine, leaving them to almost certain takeover by Russia, and at the cost of how many lives?  And then yesterday I came across this piece by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recently-returned New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof.  This article shows us why we must continue to support Ukraine, why anything else is unthinkable from a humanitarian perspective.  The article is a bit long, so I will share only a portion here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the rest.

I Went to Ukraine, and I Saw a Resolve That We Should Learn From

By Nicholas Kristof

Photographs by Emile Ducke

16 November 2022

IZIUM, Ukraine — Inna Osipova pointed to the 30-foot pile of rubble that is all that’s left of her apartment building. She and her 5-year-old son narrowly escaped when Russian shelling destroyed the structure, but her grandmother did not and is interred somewhere in the wreckage. Osipova hopes her body will be found so she can be given a proper burial.

Her voice cracked with emotion, but she held together until I asked what she thought of Americans who say it’s time to move on from supporting Ukraine.

“We’re people, you understand,” she said, and she began weeping. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.” And then she was crying too hard to continue.

“We’re people, you understand,” said Inna Osipova, in front of the ruins of her apartment building, which entombs her grandmother. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.”

These areas in northeastern Ukraine, recently liberated after months of Russian occupation, show what’s at stake as some Americans and Europeans seek to trim assistance for Ukraine. There are bombed-out buildings, survivors cooking over open fires outside, children injured by land mines, freshly vacated Russian torture chambers — 23 discovered so far here in the Kharkiv region alone — along with mass graves of corpses with hands tied and shattered limbs.

“Right now people are finding graves everywhere in the villages,” said Tamara Kravchenko, who runs the only funeral home still operating in Izium. “The Russians would often just throw dirt on bodies where they killed them. Every day we find someone.”

“We will be dealing with this for a long time,” she added.

While President Vladimir Putin of Russia seems unable to break the spirit of Ukrainians, he is already shattering the will of some Americans and Europeans.

“Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine,” says Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the firebrand Republican. The Republican leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, says that it’s time to end the “blank check” for Ukraine. A Wall Street Journal poll published this month found that 48 percent of Republicans believe the United States is doing too much to help Ukraine, up from 6 percent in March. On the American left and in Germany and France, there are also signs of impatience, though fewer.

“I’m not afraid that Ukrainians will tire of being attacked by missiles but that people in other countries will say, ‘Enough. Time to turn the page,’” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, 47, a former minister of finance who signed up to be a soldier after the Russian invasion in February, was injured in June and is now recovering.

He’s right. Buck up, America and Europe! And take some inspiration from Ukrainians themselves. I see people here suffering enormous hardship — yet ever more determined to fight back.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, 26, was a television journalist whose boyfriend, Oleksandr Makhov, enlisted as a soldier immediately after Putin invaded. After reaching the front, Makhov proposed to her by video call, jokingly proffering a ring from a grenade. “Yes!” she said, and they giddily planned what to name their children.

Then Makhov was killed in May by Russian fire — and Blyshchyk signed up to be a soldier herself. I met her on an icy afternoon near her base. She may have felt shattered, but she projected strength, wearing body armor and walking carefully to avoid land mines. “Follow in my footsteps,” she advised.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, a former television journalist, joined the military after her boyfriend was killed in combat. “They killed the man I love,” she said. “Of course I’m here.”

“Today is exactly six months since Oleksandr was killed,” she said, quivering but not teary. “I’ve promised myself I won’t cry.”

I asked her why she enlisted to fight the Russians.

“They killed the man I love,” she said simply. “Of course I’m here.”

Please do take the time to read the rest, for it is both interesting and informative.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 10/15

I’ve opined enough for one week and my poor brain needs a rest, so let’s hop over to TokyoSand’s Political Charge where she has uncovered the best of the political cartoons from the past week!  Thank you, TS … much appreciated!!!

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

♫ Peace Train ♫ (Redux)

Yesterday’s music post, the Rascal’s “People Got To Be Free”, led to this one today!  Our friend rawgod tells me that this one was ‘just there’ in his head, a natural sequel as it were.  Happens that I agree.  I have posted this one twice before … once in 2019 and once in 2020 … and both times, I noted that it was so very appropriate for the current times.  Two years ago, it was the Christchurch mosque attack, today it is Russia’s war against Ukraine. Here we are two years later and it is still the perfect song for the day.  Perhaps it always will be.  Namaste.

A National Remembrance Service for the victims of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and all those affected by it, was held this morning.  Yusuf Islam, better known to the world as Cat Stevens, performed his 1971 song, Peace Train, and I cannot think of a more appropriate song for the solemn occasion.


Yusuf Islam – 29 March 2019

One of my readers, Anne, suggested it might be a good song for my music post, and I fully agree.  Thank you, Anne, for this perfect suggestion.

Prior to performing, he delivered a short speech, dedicating his appearance “to the families who lives were snatched away in that evil carnage while they were worshipping in the mosque two weeks ago,  To those shining souls whose lives were snatched away in that moment of madness may peace be upon them. Peace in this world may take a bit longer.”

Peace Train
Cat Stevens

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
Oh, I’ve been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it’s going to come

‘Cause I’m on the edge of darkness
There ride the Peace Train
Oh, Peace Train take this country
Come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
Thinkin’ about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
Something good has begun

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now Peace Train
Yes, Peace Train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the Peace Train
Come on now, Peace Train

Get your bags together,
Go bring your good friends, too
‘Cause it’s getting nearer,
It soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,
It’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
Soon it will all be true

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now Peace Train
Peace Train

Now I’ve been crying lately,
Thinkin’ about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
Why can’t we live in bliss

‘Cause out on the edge of darkness,
There rides a Peace Train
Oh Peace Train take this country,
Come take me home again

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now, Peace Train
Yes, Peace Train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the Peace Train
Come on, come on, come on
Yes, come on, peace train
Yes, it’s the peace train

Come on now, peace train
Oh, peace train

Songwriters: Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam
Peace Train lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

The Week’s Best Cartoons 10/1

I seem to have a bouncing mind this weekend for I have three separate posts in process, but haven’t managed to finish a single one of them!  So, I figured there’s no better time than the present to see what cartoons our friend TokyoSand has managed to dig up for us!  Naturally, Hurricane Ian is front and center, as is Putin’s brutal war against Ukraine, but there is even more.  These are only a sampling, so be sure to visit TokyoSand at Political Charge to see the rest! Thank you, TS, for finding the best offerings of the cartoonists this week!

Florida and Ukraine were in the eye of the news for most of this week, with of course, other important stories sprinkled in. Here’s how the nation’s editorial cartoonists covered them.

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

Words …

President Biden gave a speech yesterday in Warsaw, Poland, before heading home.  The speech has been hailed by many, comparing it to two of what are considered the greatest speeches of the Cold War by U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.  While I have not listened to the speech, I have read the transcript … here are a few parts that caught my eye:

  • “A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”

  • “Let me say this if you’re able to listen: You, the Russian people, are not our enemy. I’m telling you the truth: This war is not worthy of you, the Russian people.”

  • “For generations, Warsaw has stood where liberty has been challenged and liberty has prevailed. In fact, it was here in Warsaw when a young refugee who fled her home country from Czechoslovakia was under Soviet domination, came back to speak and stand in solidarity with dissidence. Her name was Madeleine Korbel Albright. She became one of the most ardent supporters of democracy in the world. She was a friend with whom I served. America’s first woman Secretary of State. She passed away three days ago. She fought her whole life for central democratic principles. And now in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are in the front lines.”

  • “My message to the people of Ukraine is a message I delivered today to Ukraine’s foreign minister and defense minister, who I believe are here tonight. We stand with you. Period!”

  • “President Zelenskyy was democratically elected. He’s Jewish. His father’s family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust. And Putin has the audacity, like all autocrats before him, to believe that might will make right.”

  • “And earlier today I visited your national stadium, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees are now trying to answer the toughest questions a human can ask. My God, what is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my family? I saw tears in many of the mothers’ eyes as I embraced them. Their young children, their young children, not sure whether to smile or cry.”

  • “I didn’t have to speak the language or understand the language to feel the emotion in their eyes, the way they gripped my hand, little kids hung on to my leg, praying with a desperate hope that all this is temporary. Apprehension that they may be perhaps forever away from their homes. Almost a debilitating sadness that this is happening all over again.”

  • “I also want to thank my friend, the great American chef Jose Andres, and his team for help feeding those who are yearning to be free. But helping these refugees is not something Poland or any other nation should carry alone. All the world’s democracies have a responsibility to help. All of them.”

But in keeping with the way this nation is today, the media and others seized on one of President Biden’s last lines …

  • “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

He uttered the heartfelt words that so many of us are thinking … one way or another, Putin cannot remain in power for if he does … if he does, it is a near-certainty that the world will see another massive war that will touch every nation, every person on the globe.  But immediately people jumped to the conclusion that the president was calling for regime change and that he was willing to be the one to make that happen.  NO, people, that is not what he said nor what he meant!  A statement was issued by the White House to clarify the president’s remarks …

“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

I hate it when people try to ‘interpret’ what someone has said.  If I say I’m not hungry right now, that’s precisely what I mean.  I do not mean I am not feeling well, I do not mean that what you’re offering does not appeal … I simply mean I’m not hungry.  Every word President Biden utters is picked apart ad nauseam by those on the right side of the aisle, by the media, and by people who don’t even understand the situation.  Sometimes it’s okay to take a person at their word, to take what they say at face value.  Why on earth would people let 9 short words colour their view of a 30-minute, 3,097-word speech, one of the best Biden has ever given in my view?  Because the free press jumped like a pack of hungry dogs on a bone.  I support freedom of the press to the fullest extent, however with freedom comes responsibility — in this case, the responsibility to speak with conscience, not to put words into the mouth of another, not to twist and turn words into something they were not meant to be.

We, as a nation, really need to get over the finger-pointing, the seizing on every word a member of the opposing political party utters, the lies, the hatred, the divisiveness.  There is much work to be done, but we cannot do it as long as the nation remains so divided that we cannot even listen to one another.