Ukraine. A Russian Civil War?

if the Russian leadership does not want to sit at the table with us for the sake of peace, perhaps it will sit at the table with you. Do Russians want war? I would very much like to answer this question, but the answer depends on you, the citizens of the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – Feb. 23, 2022

I’ve never been a fan of a foreign leader before. I have a fanboy crush on Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Who doesn’t these days?) I think I have to reveal my crush right up front in this article because I’m not thinking clearly right now. Or maybe I’m finally thinking clearly for the first time in years. Who knows? What I do know is that I love Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Despite all the odds, he stood up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and has defined courage for the world in the current European crisis:

I need ammunition, not a ride

cnn.com

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…and inspired the citizens of the world to come together in support of his country. I love the guy. If I was 20 right now I’d get on a plane and fly to Ukraine to fight beside him in defense of him and his people and their homes. His is a profile in courage.

Stonekettle asked the collective consciousness of Twitter back on February 19th:

…and that is the essential question here; should we support Ukraine or not? We being the United States in this question means that there is no easy answer. Each individual can make that choice for themselves, certainly. However, this isn’t a question that can be answered with a single word, positive or negative when it comes to the participation of outside groups in what amounts to a regional power struggle.

Modern warfare is evil incarnate and this makes it hard to justify any action that isn’t self defensive in nature. Is it in our own defense to save Ukraine from Russian aggression? That is a difficult question to answer with anything other than a regretful no or a twenty page essay explaining why it should be yes but can’t be.

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What follows will probably a twenty page essay. We’ll start with a grammar lesson. It is Ukraine not the Ukraine. It is a country, not just a place, no matter what Vladimir Putin says. You don’t go around saying “we’re going to the Texas” unless you’re going visit the battleship museum. It’s Texas or Ukraine. It is the name of a country or a state.

The United States of America is a union of states or nations. That’s why it was historically referred to as a union or The Union. The United States was never supposed to be the name of the country. They argued about the name for a long time, just like they argued about what to call the office of the president until just giving up and referring to him as the President (a practice that has spread widely) they gave up on giving the collection of states or nations another name, and just used the kludge of a name that was on the Constitution itself.

It’s quite possible that this was a signal of the imperial aspirations of the founders. They knew that there was a lot more land out there to conquer to their west, not to mention to the North and the South, before they ever needed to worry about the phrase of America in the name on the founding document.

Both the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the European Union (EU) were styled after the founding ideals of the United States; principally, the enrichment of the powerful inside those unions, clothed in the garb of caring for the general welfare of the masses of its residents. Neither of those Unions bothered with popular direct elections for representatives for those bodies. The powerful within the United States have come to regret including those provisions in their documents.

Providence, Rhode Island is a city, county, state and nation all at the same time. Let that understanding sink in for a minute. All fifty states are nations tied together within a federal structure, yet retaining independent laws and governing structures. The only interests of the various states that were ceded to the federal government were the issues of interstate trade and the relationships with foreign governments. Everything else was and in a general sense still is an internal issue to be settled within the state itself. This arrangement has the advantage of hiding from view most of the politics that matter for governing inside the United States.

You don’t get a view of local politics unless you dig for it; ask any resident of any decent sized town whether they care more about their local infrastructure or their federal government’s policies. Anyone with an understanding of just how precarious our system is will know that the politics that really matters is local politics. It determines the priorities of all the levels above it that can interfere with its operation.

When that power structure is reversed the result is almost certainly catastrophic. Case in point; the recurring lack of preparation or understanding on the part of the whole state of Texas has led to individual suffering on an unprecedented level all across the state. Power outages, healthcare unavailability, etcetera. The city has to be able to act to protect itself or it becomes the victim of charlatans and demagogues.

Governor Greg Abbott is hereby submitted as exhibition A for the court’s perusal.

All governmental requirements radiate out from the needs of individuals that go unmet; whether those requirements are more doctors or more police officers. More housing or more jails. Federal mandates almost always miss their targets because federal mandates almost never take the needs of the suffering into consideration. That level of granularity is almost beyond grasping from the distance of the White House whether the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or 1010 Colorado Street.

The problem of Ukraine being frequently referred to as the Ukraine is easily understood. I’ve done this too, refer to it as a place by putting “the” in front of it. This was a forgivable act when Ukraine and Ukrainians were inside the USSR or just a key part of the Russian empire. Ukraine was just a word in Russian meaning borderlands when the leaders in Moscow slapped that name on the area between Russia and Europe. The Soviet Union was largely a face-saving measure designed to mask the hands of Vladimir Lenin and then Joseph Stalin controlling the daily lives of millions of Russian people directly. That was their desire. The leader of the Soviet Union couldn’t call himself a Czar and get away with it. After all, the whole revolution had been fought to get rid of the Czar, hadn’t it?

So Joseph Stalin took a different title after he arranged his ascension to power, but he held pretty much the same power as the Czar; and life went on in the USSR under different management, the lot of the common people possibly worse than it had been under the Czar, but nobody being willing to say anything about it. Ukrainians no different than Poles, no different than Czechs no different than Kazakhs, Tajiks or Tatars. All suffering equally under the yoke of the new leadership.

Ukraine was a country though. The primordial Marxist state that Lenin and his Bolshevik’s created out of the ruins of the former Russian Empire engineered a compromise to maintain control of those lands. Granted them all a measure of cultural autonomy within the bounds of the Soviet Union’s authoritarian political control (Correction: Stalin did not give the Crimea to Ukraine. He died in 1953 and the transfer was in 54. I will however maintain that the USSR continued essentially on autopilot for almost forty years before expiring. –ed.) Then Stalin died and not too long after he died his empire crumbled as empires tend to do without the leaders that created them.

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Throughline – Ukraine’s Dangerous Independence – March 10, 2022

What the Bolsheviks and Lenin did really for the first time, they created a separate state, a separate institutions and a separate territory for Russia, which became known as the Russian Federation. Separating, at least symbolically, for the first time Russia proper from what used to be the Russian empire. Before that, there was no such separation.

Serhii Plokhii

Russia was a creation of the Bolsheviks, not Ukraine. Before there was Russia there was Kievan Rus’ and all three core nations of the former Soviet Union claim this nationality as their birthright. What is the true Russian state? That’s a good question. A better question is, can there be a true Russian state and why does it have to be just one state? Why is one of them named Russia in the first place? The country we call Russia is no more and no less than the region ruled as Muscovy immediately before the creation of the Russian Empire. They no more deserve the name than either of the two other countries who claim the heritage.

As a typically educated person in the middle of the American West I was shocked and outraged while watching all the maps I had spent so much time trying to learn and understand change overnight. So many more countries to try to keep track of. Gone were the days when the Northern half of the Eurasian continent was engulfed in a sea of red with a yellow hammer and sickle on it. What was most puzzling to me, as an outsider, was the breakup of what I had thought of as traditionally Russian countries. How could there be three Russian governments?

That is what also seems to puzzle Vladimir Putin. He has done his best to preserve as much of the historical Russian empire under some semblance of Moscow control since he took control of Russia in the 1990’s. Crushing rebellions here, subverting elections there, the kinds of things that a leader with imperial aspirations engages in.

It seems like we’ve been on tenterhooks over the subject of Ukraine forever here in the United States. I know I’ve written several articles on the subject dating back to the release of Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast #270 Poking the Bear in 2014. When Putin-backed insurgents shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine later that year, I was done listening to anyone who was sympathetic to Putin’s empire re-building effort. It was Obama’s reaction to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014 (too strong or too weak? it’s hard to say) that put us on the course to where we are now in history.

It was obvious to me then, just as it remains obvious to me now, that if the United States is a free country then its citizens can and should go where they like and agitate for change that some governments may or may not approve of. Even take up arms against governments against the sincerely expressed wishes of the United States government. If we are free, then we are free to do these things, too.

It is virtually impossible to discern the difference between a non-government organization (NGO) working for democracy and economic reform for its own unique purposes, and NGO’s that have been infiltrated by the CIA or any other nation’s intelligence service. If the intelligence services are doing their jobs properly, ALL OF THEM have been infiltrated by all of the intelligence services, and the various NGO’s should take this fact into account when they go about doing the business they are doing.

However, there remains a difference between acting in accordance with your government’s wishes, and acting on the orders of your government’s officers (where Buchanan’s predictions fail) Putin has had NGO’s working in the United States for every bit as long as any American NGO has been working in Ukraine, and it never started American’s thinking that Russia was trying to control its citizenry. We let Russia Today (RT) run unfettered promotions of Donald Trump for a year and never even thought to ask why RT loved Donald Trump so much.

The results of the NGO’s and the US government’s combined campaigns in Ukraine, stamping out corruption, un-rigging the electoral process, were that Viktor Yanukovych lost the Ukrainian Presidential elections that were called in 2014 after he acted against the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian people. In a huff, Vlad the Corrupter invaded and annexed Crimea, his preferred summer vacation spot. Queue the outrage from everyone who thought that Ukraine was Russian all along. Add to it the fearful outrage of people who will do anything to avoid a confrontation with Vladimir Putin on the international stage. Queue my exodus from Dan Carlin’s listening circle due to his clueless insistence that Pat Buchanan was some kind of a reputable psychic, as if that phrase isn’t an oxymoron in and of itself.

Vlad the Corrupter then sits and waits for the resulting storm to calm, rigging foreign elections and screwing up other governments all the while in hope of being allowed to do what he is doing right now. The invasion has taken longer to happen than I expected, that is the only surprising thing about it.

The Russian interference in the the 2016 election that put Donald Trump into the White House was one of the responses to the sanctions that President Obama imposed in 2014 after Putin annexed Crimea. We know this because Trump promised to get the sanctions lifted and then had to backtrack on the promise when it became public (the idiot never could figure out how not to say the quiet parts out loud) Fast forward to 2018 and Donald Trump’s attempt to blackmail Ukraine into playing dirty tricks in the 2020 elections lead to his first impeachment.

thebulwark.com

Ukraine just can’t seem to leave the front page. I’m sure they’d like to. Fast forward again to 2022. Putin continues his aborted invasion from 2014. He was always going to do this just like the United States was always going to invade Iraq under a Republican president. It was always the plan. Invading Ukraine was what he planned when his puppet (Paul Manafort’s buddy, Viktor Yanukovych. You remember Paul Manafort, right? Trump’s campaign chairman?) lost his election.

It is a sad historical truth that Ukraine was stupid enough to give up its nukes. The preservation of Ukraine’s independence that all concerned parties signed onto (including Vlad himself) in exchange for Ukraine giving up the nukes stored inside of its national borders was just the initial move in an undeclared war. If Ukraine still had nuclear weapons we would not be seeing this invasion live on screens today. Is it really any wonder why Iran wants nuclear weapons? It should be obvious by now. If you have the ability to destroy life as we know it at your fingertips, people take you seriously. Weird how that works, isn’t it?

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Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, Zelensky said, in return for a security guarantee signed by the U.S., the U.K., and Russia. What happened to those guarantees? Ukraine had been told that the doors to NATO membership remained open, but Ukraine had never been invited inside. Because the Ukrainians are not members of NATO, they know they cannot count on allied forces to come to their support. And as for those “lessons of history” that Baerbock and other German politicians have referred to in recent days, Zelensky wondered aloud whether they had been learned: “I just want to make sure you and I read the same books.” And then, in defiance of everything that everybody else had said, he used the word appeasement, to describe not Munich in 1938, but Munich in 2022.

Anne Applebaum – theatlantic.com (gift subscription for the blog author still greatly desired)

At the end of the day, it’s going to be the Ukrainians and their bravery and their dedication to this very old idea, the idea of sovereignty, the idea of freedom. It will be their dedication to that that determines what happens.

Anne Applebaum – Rachel Maddow – Feb. 21, 2022

The fog of war has descended now. Nobody can have all the facts any longer and yet facts still remain facts and facts are generally indisputable.

Here’s a fact; Putin is behaving like a new Hitler. Hitler’s bullshit excuse for claiming the Sudetenland and starting World War Two is exactly the same language that Vladimir Putin used to claim his right to invade and occupy Ukraine. There is no other conclusion that can be made when looking at that speech made by Vlad the Corrupter. He is a Hitler, a fascist, an authoritarian, and he is bent on a reconquest of historically Russian possessions with majority Russian speakers.

That is what it looks like from the UK, it’s what it looks like from France and Germany and from the Balkan states that are right now very, very thankful that they joined NATO. Putin being a twenty-first century Hitler is what it looks like when you see any Ukrainian being interviewed; whether they are in the UK worried about relatives or in Kyiv worried about what’s going to happen next. If they are being interviewed on the BBC, maybe the BBC has an agenda, maybe they don’t, but they’re interviewing ordinary, regular people; people who probably would be sitting at home watching TV at that precise moment and would prefer to not be interviewed by anybody except that a lot of shit is happening right now. Shit that has forced two million Ukrainians to leave their homes in fear.

(h/t to Stuart Surridge)

Ukraine was recognized as an independent state by Russia more than 30 years ago. The Charter of Paris, signed in November 1990 by the United States, Russia and 30 European countries, established essential principles for a post-Cold War era based on international law and global norms. Subsequently, Russia, the United States and Great Britain guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in 1995 in the Budapest Memorandum.

Moscow has no more legal basis to insist on any portion of the territory of Ukraine than Germany has the right to demand the return of Alsace and Lorraine from France. If the West accepts such Russian claims, it will not only undermine the sovereignty of all countries but also invite other nations to seek territory through military force.

nbcnews.com

I would prefer that there was never another war but that has no bearing on whether Putin is an aggressor or that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was heroic when he chose to stay with his people and fight to the bitter end. If the US had supported a real leader during our fiasco in Afghanistan the Taliban would not be in power there now. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a real leader.

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Ukraine has been an independent state for thirty years. It’s President will likely give his life for his country as will many thousands of it’s men, women and children. It is time and long past time to start treating it the way we do every other country; and with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia now being separate governments today, separate governments and distinctly unique peoples, it is long past time to admit that there is no longer a Russian empire. There are just the three countries who were once the core of the empire, two of which are lead by the same cruel little spider, Vlad the Corrupter in Moscow.

All of this is aside from the fact that we, the United States government, cannot be allowed to be seen as starting a war in Europe, which is what it will look like if we were to interfere in Ukraine directly now or in the near future. What is going on in Europe is a Russian or Eastern Slavic Civil War, no different than all the other uprisings that Vlad the Corrupter has put down in the former Soviet Republics. He saw all of them as the unwanted intervention of the United States and its allies and accomplices in strictly Russian affairs. Up to this point, he has been allowed to do what he wants with these places.

spotifyCommon Sense 323 – Gas Up the Cold War – March 1, 2022

I don’t like any of this in terms of how it worked out because I don’t want a more militarized Europe, I don’t want another cold war, I don’t want the massive defense spending, I don’t want everything that this is going to entail; but I’m not the one that invaded Ukraine. Sometimes it’s not up to us what we want.

Dan Carlin

If you grew up during the Cold War you can understand why most people don’t want to return to those years, and resuming hostilities with Russia because of Vlad the Corrupter’s actions feels a lot like the cold war is starting back up again. However, this isn’t a return to the cold war if we can keep Ukraine independent and opposed to Russian control.

…And we want to avoid a return to the cold war almost as much as we want to avoid a nuclear Armageddon. That outcome would be a setback for world peace and our need for mutual cooperation on limiting climate change. The world-wide antagonism that comes with a return to a cold war footing that might as well be read as the end of life as we know it on this planet, much the same as an all-out nuclear war will spell the end of life.

It isn’t a nuclear exchange that I fear. We are already in WW3 as far as I can tell and it may well end in a nuclear exchange for all that any of us can tell. What I fear is capitulation to Russia on the one hand and the resulting rise of authoritarianism around the world that would follow; as opposed to the standard American military response that will end in a nuclear exchange at some point.

On the other end of the spectrum from Dan Carlin’s handwringing about potentially starting a nuclear war we have this:

We must not only stop what’s happening in Ukraine, we must stop it before it happens here. 

Stonekettle (answering his own question before I can)

We cannot go into Ukraine and fight Russians directly. That is the conflict that every nationalist everywhere has been primed to fight to the death over. Being in the war should not equate to “running the war.” We must avoid that impression at all costs if we want any chance of victory for democracy and Ukraine. This has to be, first and foremost, Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. Against Putin’s aggression, his denial of their own separate personhood as a nation. As individuals who don’t want to bow down to his criminal organization.

The United States needs to figure out how to assist Ukraine and the wider European theater of operation without making the conflict all about us. It ain’t about us. It’s about Ukrainians not wanting to belong to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. IF WE RUN THIS WAR we will lose this war. There is nothing that Russians want more than to make the United States suffer after all the suffering they’ve been through, suffering they’ve been told is at our hands for more than seventy years now.

We can not be the center. Ukraine has to be the center.

spotifynytimes – Ezra Klein, Volodymyr Yermolenko 04/12/2022

We should make Russia pay for all this destruction. This is what didn’t happen in Syria. This is what didn’t happen in other countries. Russia is saying, I will destroy, you will pay. And this is incredibly wrong.

One of the light motifs of Russian culture, by the way, is the motif of “Crime and Punishment,” as we all know. The novel of Dostoyevsky. But actually, what we have in Russian political culture, in Stalinism, for example, is crime without punishment and punishment without crime. All those people who were sent to gulags without any trials or were exterminated, killed, they were punished without a crime.

And I think this is the most dangerous thing when we’re looking for — when somebody is looking for compromises with Putin, something that we need to avoid. Because if Russia is not punished, is not kept responsible for its crimes, obviously it will continue them.

Volodymyr Yermolenko

We as a country have to stand on the sidelines and do the equivalent of provide resources to the defenders of democracy and independence. Ukraine has to dictate what its victory conditions or cease fire conditions are. Ukraine has to meet at the table with the Muscovy-Russians as equals. If that is what come to the aid of means in the question that started this article, then the answer is yes. If anything more than that is what it means, then the answer is no. No, because we can’t destroy all life on the face of the planet in the name of protecting it. Anything short of that should remain on the table. How to successfully draw that line is where we are in this war, six months later.

So much for Vlad’s promises of a short war and a glad reunion of brothers. The Ukrainian regions he lays claim to now lie in ruins. The regions that Ukraine still controls are actively being rebuilt and returning to whatever passes for normal in the middle of a war. Vladimir Putin will pay, eventually. His own people may well make him pay before this is over.


I get most of my news from NPR:

spotifyNPR – State of Ukraine

Even though I don’t link any of their podcasts in this article. Most of what they broadcast is transitory. The feeds mount up and the information becomes stale and the attempt to narrativize the information becomes unwieldy very quickly.

Dirty Tricks Squad

Poland announced it would send its jets to the U.S. air base at Ramstein, Germany. That caught U.S. officials off guard. Later in the day, the Pentagon issued a statement saying flying planes from a U.S./NATO base in Germany into contested airspace wouldn’t work.

npr.org

So why can’t Ukrainian pilots just steal MIGs that Poland has conveniently anonymized? I mean, Putin would just leave Russian markings on his planes were the roles reversed, I’m not sure why we’re being so overly cautious with a guy who blatantly worked to alter our last three or four elections. He’s already declared war on us, he’s just as much as said so.

We need to start thinking like the kleptocrat that Vladimir Putin is, try to understand how a kleptocratic government would act before it acts, and then counter their avarice in advance. Clearly the intelligence agencies knew what Vladimir Putin was going to do next because their predictions came true. So what do they think we should do next? Can they think like a kleptocrat or do we need to put together a dirty tricks squad of our own just to figure what to do next?

Leave weapons just laying around for Ukrainians to steal from us? Would that work? “Hey, we didn’t give them anything, they stole it!” I mean, why not?

Russia is, after all, a country that stripped the markings from its soldiers’ uniforms in order to invade Ukraine while lying about it, and assassinated a defector in London by putting polonium in his tea. But cheating at sport and hacking e-mails to sway an American election are serious offences too.

economist.com

facebook. Featured image from: economist.com

Postscript

Folks, does anyone on this thread remember the word, “SAMs”, being introduced into our vocabulary? The acronym stood for Surface to Air Missiles. SAMs are being requested by Ukraine to hit Russian jets above 12,000 and flying just outside of Ukrainian air space. We, thus far, have refused Zelenskyy’s request because it would be “escalatory” (new code word for nuclear holocaust). SAMs were introduced to the world during the Vietnam war when Russia shipped them on a massive scale to North Vietnam, killing hundreds if not thousands of American jet pilots. The only thing they could not hit were the B52 bombers. We should not be here if Russia feared starting WWIII by giving North Vietnam every offensive weapon the Russians had at their disposal. Why are we here? Because Russia knew then and they know now that we are vastly more afraid of them than they are of us. They knew there was zero chance of starting WWIII when they shipped thousands of SAMs to North Vietnam. We should know that now but 70 years of propaganda has us as afraid of a nuclear exchange as my teachers were in 1952.

Commenter on a Stonekettle article

…and yet the Vietnam war somehow remained a war between the US and Vietnam. That’s all I’m still saying (23 weeks later) We can’t run this war. Ukraine has to. We can give them the money, we can give them the arms, we can destroy Russian vessels that try to destroy our vessels and not call it war with Russia. Can we be subtle enough to pull that off? That would be a first for us.

Wildcat

wildcatter is an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration of oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. The term dates from the early oil industry in western Pennsylvania. Oil wells in unproven territory were called “wild cat” wells from mid-1870, and those who drilled them were called “wild-catters” by 1876.

wikipedia

The oil industry is all up in arms over the demand that they produce more oil now to compensate for the loss of Russian oil on the markets. They just can’t do it, they say. It’ll take a year, they project. There aren’t workers to do the jobs we need done, they complain. All of it is bullshit. All of it.

Two years ago the oil producers were begging for money from the government to cap and plug wells in West Texas and New Mexico. They were desperate to get active wells reclassified as orphan wells because the wells weren’t producing enough to pay the royalties due on them. Not at the negative oil prices then in effect. Now that the price is back in the familiar territories of $100+ a barrel, they’re saying there’s not enough oil and gas and so they have to charge exorbitant prices.

spotifyacast.com/theeconomist

It is true, the oil industry lost billions of dollars during the pandemic lockdowns. They and all the other industries that made their living on people intermingling and traveling across the globe to enjoy their vacations, all of them have had a rough two years of it.

The fact that the world economy is stretched thin is probably why Vladimir Putin picked now to start a Russian civil war in Ukraine and thereby causing the energy panic that has now gripped the world.

Look, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” McCain said. “It’s kleptocracy. It’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important.”

John McCain – JANUARY 8, 2015

More sanctions on oil? Americans were already complaining about high oil prices:

I would have sworn that everyone was onboard with oil prices rising so as to save the oil industry? That seemed to be the mantra under the last president. Now we can’t bear to pay too much for gasoline? Pick one, people. You can’t have it both ways.

NPR – State of Ukraine – Americans on low incomes are hit harder by high gas prices due to the war – March 9, 2022

I get it, the oil companies are posting record profits for the first time in two years. Great. Maybe they should suck up some of the increased cost instead of raising prices at the gasoline pumps? Sure, that sounds good. I’m sure the investors won’t squall about not getting their larger checks in the mail. Maybe they should squall. Maybe they should get out of the investment business if they think investment should be a certain bet. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.

I guarantee you that if the US government lit a fire under oil company CEO’s asses they could go find some more oil tomorrow, not in a year. You might not see an increased flow of oil for a few months, but then we shouldn’t see a serious tightening in oil and gasoline availability for a few months, either. It won’t do much good for the political maneuvers that need to be conducted right now, but that is how things work out in the real world.

As for there not being workers, that is a flat-out lie. There are plenty of people willing to work if you’ll pay them. That is the catch, after all. The cost of living has gone up in cities across the nation. You can no longer work for even fifteen dollars an hour and be able to afford a place in most major cities. You should pay no more than 30% of your wages on housing costs and apartments average out around 1500 in Austin. One person living alone might be able to swing the cost of an apartment, but that is a dead-end life of no love, no children and no fun.

My grandfather was raised in Kansas. He used to tell me stories of working on his Uncle’s farm just outside of Scott, Kansas. When he decided it was time to go out and make his mark in the world, he moved to Texas and started working in the then newly discovered oil patch. Over the course of ten or fifteen years he made enough money to buy a large spread of land in the next county over from his Uncle’s. That is what being well-paid looks like. Workers who put in their time and then leave to go do the things they really want to do. Nobody wants to spend their life working the rigs in the oil field. Nobody should spend their whole life doing it unless they want it to be a pretty short life.

These days employers pay only what they are required to pay and then complain about how they can’t find quality work anymore. Why not try offering more money? There is a thing that every corporate leader expects these days, and it is a crime that this thing even exists. They call it the golden parachute. These benefits are paid out in addition to the outrageous stacks of cash that they are paid for every day they hold their jobs.

Oil executives should make less money than the roughnecks that work for them. This is a plain fact that can’t be stated baldly enough. Unless these guys are willing to get out on the rigs and do the dirty work along with their crews, they should be paid office scale for comfortable office work. Their benefits should include not being killed on the job. Not being maimed on the job. Not being forced out of work by repeated injuries that leave you disabled, but not disabled enough to earn disability benefits.

If you started paying the roughnecks the wages that they deserve, I guarantee you that you will get the workers you need to get oil out of the ground faster than we can use it. It has happened before and it can happen again. It just takes a willingness to put the chips on the table and force the play. Are you in, or are you out?

Featured image: Dallas Morning News – The Railroad Commission does what?

Postscript

I hate to break it to Fran Hart but substack is the blogger of 2019. Give it time. “I have a substack” will be derided like blogs are today in a very short order, especially with people like her publishing on the platform. If people come to my blog it’s because they think my writing is worth reading. I don’t have to force people to wade through my spam every day to get to what they want in their inboxes.

The oil price spike happened at the time that it did because the glut ended and the demand went up and the need to drill more became evident, not because of some mystical handwaving thing having to do with people not being willing to work. It is the boom/bust or profit/loss cycle. That’s all. No mystery to solve here.

The spike hit because American automakers stopped making cars and switched to monster trucks for morons who didn’t believe gas prices would go up again.

Dan Tolliver

Trumpismo

Mom was a huge Ross Perot fan. I’m sure very few of the family knew or even remember this about Mom, but she loved Ross Perot when he ran for president back in 1992. How many of you remember 1992? I remember that election very well. Ross Perot ran for president the year we had that three-way race that ended up saddling the United States with president William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton, the president that American conservatives love to hate. Ross Perot ran for president again in 1996, Establishing the Reform Party in the process, but didn’t do nearly as well that year.

Mom loved the fact that Ross Perot spoke straight to the people. She loved the fact that he threw charts and graphs at the arguments, getting wonkier about the policies being argued than any other candidate in American history had gotten, at least in her experience.

She thought Bill Clinton was a used car salesman turned governor and I agreed with her in that. Mom had disapproved of Reagan and then the elder Bush for pretty much the same reasons that I did. They were mean people with mean policies and they said whatever their party told them to say in order to get elected. But Ross Perot? Mom loved every minute of that sideshow. The threats on his life that caused him to drop out of the race. The surprise re-emergence of the candidate mere weeks before the election. It was great theater.

There would be no Ross Perot love in my future. I had discovered libertarianism on August 2, 1990. That was the day that the elder Bush took us to war in the gulf against his buddy from the Reagan years, Saddam Hussein. On that day, as we peaceniks were engaging in a sit-in in the capitol rotunda, back in the days when the Texas state capitol building was open twenty-four hours a day for tourists, I just happened to be sitting next to Terry Liberty Parker. Yes, that Terry Liberty Parker.

Terry was infamous in Austin. Terry had been active in the anarchist/libertarian fringe of Austin politics for decades. His experimental clothing-optional apartment complex was a distant memory by 1990. He was running a libertarian show on Austin’s cable access channel by that point in time, and he was out rabble-rousing with the rest of the troublemakers on the fringe of Texas politics that night as he helpfully enlightened me about the weird world of third party politics while we occupied some floor space in the capitol building. By 1992, I was a hard-core Libertarian Party member.

Since I was a libertarian, and since this was my first time out for a presidential election as a libertarian, I wanted nothing to do with some upstart named Ross Perot. I tried to point out to Mom that Libertarians had been trying to break into American politics since the seventies, all to no avail. Ross Perot was not going to be able to do anything even if he managed to get elected as president. With the Democrats and Republicans united against him, he would be lucky to be able to stay in office at all.

There was another reason that I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot even if there had been no Libertarian Party. A reason I have never told anyone about until now. I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot because I knew he was a real estate developer. I’ve covered this point more than once on the blog so I won’t revisit the subject beyond simply noting that, during the process of working closely with a developer, you become numb to the energy and the hype. When you finally get numb to it all you stop listening to the words of the sales pitch and you start to take note of the number of lies that form the foundation of selling the project.

The revulsion at the lies that real estate developers tell comes from a deep distrust of most salesmen. As the son of a used car salesman I was immersed in my father’s world of buying and selling cars every day throughout my teenage years. Every time I spoke to him or was around him as an adult he was sizing up and selling cars and trucks. Automobiles were all he talked about or cared about aside from sports. It was his raison d’etre, his reason for existing. I was surrounded by used car salesmen and bullshit artists throughout my most formative years. Surrounded by workaday confidence men. I reflexively recognize a sales pitch when I hear one and I reject the content of the pitch out of hand, the actual words of the pitch completely unheard by me. I know I’m being sold to, and no one sells you things you don’t already want to buy. If it is something you already want, you just buy it without having to deal with salesmen. At least, that is what I do.

Real estate developers, in comparison to car salesmen and their hourly hawking of vehicles to car shoppers, are engaged in what can be most precisely be cast as a long con. Unlike car salesmen who have to make their sales in some portion based on their reputation for honesty and repeat business (Dad’s mantra was “be completely honest with a customer”) a real estate developer never has to look at a contractor or a buyer again unless he has to go to court in order to sue them or answer a lawsuit.

Consequently, a real estate developer can be even more dishonest to his marks …er customers, than a used car salesman can get away with. Each piece of property is unique. Each contract is different. Your past failures are conditioned based on the quality of the information that you were given. You have plausible deniability to fall back on. You can’t tear down a piece of property and discover all its flaws like you can with a machine. You have to sell what the property offers, sell what you can invent or envision the property to be.

I knew that Ross Perot was selling, and I knew that he was selling hard. I knew he had a knack for selling big dollar projects, and I knew he knew his way around Washington D.C. I no more trusted him than I would trust a carnival barker who promised me the show of a lifetime. So I stuck to my guns and voted for Andre Marrou in 1992. He lost, just like libertarians always lose, and we got Slick Willie as president that year.

All of this would be a quaint history lesson if it weren’t for the fact that a real estate developer currently holds the office of president. In hindsight, I wonder if Ross Perot went through those I’m a candidate, no I’m not a candidate convolutions that he engaged in precisely because his poll numbers started to show that he might win the 1992 presidential election. That he might become president himself with all the trouble holding that office would bring, not to mention having to take a significant pay cut.

Being a spoiler in an election is one thing. Punishing the elder Bush by appealing to the fickle middle of the voting population and drawing support away from him, allowing Bill Clinton to win, was just fine with Ross Perot. Actually gaining the office of President would be another thing entirely, and he had to be smart enough to know he couldn’t survive in Washington D.C. under that harsh spotlight. He wouldn’t be allowed to maintain his vast network of properties and businesses. He wouldn’t be able to work with a congress that was pitted against him.

Ross Perot knew how to make money and how to survive in the business world. This basic understanding of the reality of the business world is something that Donald Trump really never got the hang of, as revelations about how his father bailed him out time and time again over the decades should illustrate to anyone paying attention.

Ross Perot torpedoed the elder Bush’s second presidential campaign in 1992 specifically to make sure that he was a one-term president. Seen in this light it becomes obvious that Ross Perot was the smarter of the two real estate developers to run for office in the modern age. Donald Trump was not nearly as smart and he became president with all the scrutiny that comes along with that office.

However, Donald Trump’s gaining office meant something more to me, personally. As an amatuer pholosopher. As a political spectator. As a news junkie. Donald Trump being president meant that his supporters had a political philosophy that they believe is a part of Donald Trump. Trump himself had a politics that he espoused, the essence of what a Trump administration would be about. This was true whether Trump had enumerated what his political philosophy was or not, because the people who supported him would invent what they wanted to see if he didn’t provide the substance for them, and they’ll invent it for any political figure even if that figure does give them something else that he wants them to believe. So after the paint wore off my toenails and I came to grips with the fact of a Trump presidency, I set out trying to figure out what the president’s political philosophy was.

I had to figure this out for myself, because I knew that he would never consciously reveal what his true motives were beyond lining his own pockets at our expense. In public. Every day.

Hispanics have a name for the kind of demagogue, the kind of despot, that Trump wanted to be, based on the way he presented himself to the people he was president of. The way he presented himself to the people who wanted to belong to him and showed up at his political rallies that never stopped occurring, a hallmark of the kind of authoritarian that Donald Trump admires. In public. Every day.

Caudillo is what the Spanish people called Francisco Franco when he took over Spain. El Caudillo, the strong man.

99percentinvisible.org – EPISODE 408 Valley of the Fallen – 07.28.20

Historically we in the United States consigned those who fell under the shadow of the Monroe doctrine to the tender mercies of a Caudillo like Francisco Franco was and that Trump wanted to be. That practice has fallen out of favor in the country at large if not in Washington D.C. in particular, but we’ve apparently grown so fearful of the poor among us that we will risk having a Caudillo to rule over us directly. A dictator to rule over us, like a king would. A Caudillo to rule over us in the same manner as those who lived under our corporate control in Central and South America, back in those #MAGA days when America was great.

Throughline – There Will Be Bananas – January 9, 2020

Donald Trump really isn’t a strong man, though. He was planning on being a strong man. He presented himself as a strong man. This is why the trolls who supported him on the internet called the Never-Trumpers cucks or cuckolds, weak men who allow their women to sleep with other men. Everyone who had a brain and understood what Trump was promising to bring to the office of the President knew that he was promising a dictatorship unlike anything that the United States had seen at any point in history. The people who chanted “lock her up” and “build that wall” at Trump’s rallies thought he was going to be a dictator like Bush the second joked about being.

If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.

George Bush, December 18, 2000

…and Donald Trump has made a lot of people’s lives miserable, killing over 240,000 Americans. However, he didn’t earn the hatred or directly spill the kind of blood that a title like el Caudillo requires. He didn’t declare martial law because a United States president can’t do that all by himself. Only governors have that power in the United States, and even their power on that subject is strictly measured. He didn’t get to create concentration camps to put the Mexicans that he and his supporters are so afraid of in. His wall was never built. He couldn’t effectively prosecute his political opponents even though he tried to do it several times. So he’s not really a Caudillo.

He’s more like a Caudito or a stormy child. My apologies in advance for butchering a noble language like Spanish.

Since he fancies himself a strong man, and since his supporters pretend he is a strong man, I find it fitting that his affected masculine air, his machismo, also carry an appropriate title for one such as he. Consequently the name I’ve chosen for his politics is Trumpismo, a similar label to the one hung on the politics of Hugo Chavez, the only dictator that Donald Trump hates.

Throughline – El Libertador – May 16, 2019

Trumpismo

Knowing who Trump was and naming his politics was the easy part. Trying to discern what his politics actually were? Now that was the hard part. No matter how hard I squinted at his actions, the platform that supported them simply wasn’t discernable. What does Caudito Trump stand for? What are his policy goals? What does he believe? Four years later, on the eve of his ouster from the office of the president, this remains an open question to me.

It is hard to discount the facts of Trump’s racism. There are just too many instances of him engaging in racist speech. Particular kinds of speech that he repeated too often for them to be simple misunderstandings. His racism goes all the way back to his father and his family and their effect on him, but his racism should have been apparent to anyone who was paying attention during the campaign that lead up to the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency, and what happened after it. It is not for nothing that Chris Hayes refers to Donald Trump as the birther-in-chief.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump Ph.D.

Donald Trump took up the birther cause with a vengeance that made Sarah Palin’s promotion of it pale by comparison. The idea that Barack Obama was not an American is a patently racist idea. How do I know this? Because conservatives don’t have a problem with Ted Cruz running for president, and he wasn’t born in the United States. “Ted Cruz looks every bit as white as I look, so why should it be a problem? That Barack Obama character looks like a foreigner with his black skin. He’s not an American, is he?” Therein lies the racism.

Whether Trump is a racist or not, he clearly thought his supporters were racists. Every word that he spouted was about them and they and the threat they pose. Trump’s pitches were demonstrably racist. Trump’s flunkies are still demonstrably racist. The Republican party, the party of Trump, is still demonstrably racist.

The Wife said don’t let the racists win on Facebook as the 2018 midterm elections were occurring, her obvious point being that people were being motivated to vote for Trump and his endorsed Republicans, all of whom were running exclusively on racist fears, and that these Republicans should be defeated at the polls by the rest of us self-respecting Americans. The majority of us, the people who don’t see life as a game that is only won by profiting off the suffering of others. We shouldn’t let the racist minority of Americans win. That’s it. That is the sum total meaning of don’t let the racists win.

The result was that family and friends went to town on her on Facebook, taking her to task for calling them racists. She got so much hatred on Facebook that she ended up deleting the status the very next day. If you don’t like the quality of your fellow travelers being assessed as your qualities, don’t stand up and try to defend those fellow travelers. Let the sleeping dogs lie and walk on. Walk on, because the racism of your fellow travelers is beyond question. The only question in my mind is why do you feel you need to defend yourself when you aren’t being targeted? Sensitive much?

Refugees are entitled to seek asylum by international law, even brown-skinned refugees have that right. Caudito Trump making the US into something that the refugees fear more than staying where they were makes us worse than the gangs and warlords those people are fleeing from. Caudito Trump was trying to make the United States appear more frightening than MS13, his preferred Mexican bogeyman of the time.

That was Trump’s plan. That was why he separated children from their parents at the border. That was why he locked children up in cages. That was why he and his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as well as his current AG Billy Barr conspired to make millions of people who are Americans stateless by denying them residency inside the United States. He declared these poor people invaders and outsiders simply because they didn’t have documents to prove that they were Americans.

Is that something you carry around with you? Proof that you belong here? Most of us don’t have those kinds of documents. There was a political backlash in the 1990’s against even creating a thing similar to a national ID, and yet you don’t dare leave home without your papers if you look like a Mexican in the United States, even in 2020.

These people aren’t a threat to anything aside from the narrow vision that feeding them, sheltering them, welcoming them will somehow mean there is less for the rest of us. The poor towns and villages of Mexico, with far less resources than we can command on a whim, have embraced these people and welcomed them with open arms.

That is what it is to be human. To be humane. To ease the suffering of others, even if you have to do without because of it. You welcome refugees in and you offer them whatever it is that you have to spare, because at least you have it to spare.

…And the only reason, the only reason that there can be for singling out the Southern border as the place where problem migrants come from, is racism. Caudito Trump doesn’t talk about gangs other than Mexican gangs. He doesn’t talk about anything other than the other waiting for us across the Southern border.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

However, the illusion of Trumpismo being essentially racist dissolved after 2018. Caudito Trump pushed xenophobia all day every day through the end of the 2018 midterms, and in that election he was politically flogged for the blatant racism he was engaging in. Finally and justly flogged, politically.

After the 2018 election he changed tactics. Gone were the threats of invasion from across the Southern border, other than the occasional red flag that the coronavirus could be sneaking across the border with those evil Mexicans. In the 2020 election when he needed the votes of brown-skinned Americans to win, his pitch was entirely economic.

Unfortunately Caudito Trump didn’t have a definable economic policy. His economics is not about getting dollars into the hands of average Americans that need them, or helping the drug addicted wretches strung out on profit-making drugs manufactured by international pharmaceutical companies. No, his economics amounted to calling everyone he wanted his supporters to be afraid of socialists, as if socialism was a bad thing.

Socialism is not what conservatives think socialism is. Stalin wasn’t socialist. Stalin was a dictator, like Putin is. Stalin was a dictator like Caudito Trump wanted to be. The fear of socialism has driven conservatives to embrace the thing that they should be afraid of. Socialism is Medicare or Social Security, and most Americans love those programs.

Historically? Historically socialism evolved into Marxism, and Marxism turned out to be a dead end. Marxism was what Stalin paid lip service to while killing 60 million people as perhaps the worst dictator in human history (he has competitors for that position) Marxism, as a theory, died with the USSR. The social democracies of the Nordic countries are also socialism, practiced within the loosely capitalist/feudalist framework that dominates the Western world.

(Some of text above is from facebook)

The economics of Trumpismo amounts to trickle-down economics in the form of giant tax breaks for the wealthy and be afraid of socialists. That isn’t an economic platform that can bear any weight. After four years I’m still largely left with a puzzle. What was Trumpismo? What is it? Can it be defined by the targets he selects?

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

At this point, Coach Pop paused, and I thought for a moment that perhaps he didn’t have the words and the conversation would end. Then he took a breath and said:

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

Everything Caudito Trump says can be dismissed as obfuscation. You can harm your own understanding of reality if you pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth. Hucksters of his caliber have long lost sight of what is true or isn’t true and are continually engulfed in a fog of bullshit that they can’t even see through, so there is little to be gained from sifting through his words for gems of truth.

However, this Bullshit is Bullshit truism doesn’t mean that Caudito Trump has no politics, no Trumpismo, or that his politics can’t be sieved out of his nearly chaotic actions. It’s just that the results may not create a framework that supports weight. There isn’t a there there to build on, as far as I can tell. But there is a pattern which can be illuminated, like the outline of a murder victim left at a crime scene.

I’ll start with this. Donald Trump was impeached for trying to get Ukraine to create propaganda targeting Joe Biden, the man that Caudito Trump lost the 2020 election to. Time after time Trump attempted to profit himself at the expense of the country at large, and when the thing he was trying to do benefited the Republican party, the Republican leadership in the legislature followed his lead. Sullying Joe Biden’s reputation served their interests, and so they acquitted Donald Trump of the crimes he was accused of, even though the crimes had been demonstrated in open court. This action made the Republican party accomplices to Trump’s crimes, an act that they have so far evaded punishment for.

These events, however, serve to illustrate the one major point of consistency about Caudito Trump. Time after time, when Donald Trump acted, it was to benefit Donald Trump alone.

Caudito Trump’s consistent self-rewarding actions reveal the first plank of Trumpismo. He believes that in order for there to be winners there must be losers. In order for there to be success there must be want and suffering. The first tenet of Trumpismo is belief in the zero-sum game. This belief underpins every other thing that Caudito Trump and his Stormtrumpers believe. Others must suffer so that they can have what they want in life. The suffering of others is not only unavoidable, it is desirable. Without the visible suffering of the losers there cannot be anything to desire about being a winner.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
Fresh Air – ‘Sum Of Us’ Examines The Hidden Cost Of Racism — For Everyone February 17, 2021

This is a requirement of the zero-sum game. Once you have subscribed to this tenet, everything else falls into place. The racism, the xenophobia, the bulwark of nationalists and populists down through the centuries is a hallmark of those who think they must claim more than they are rightfully due. This is why they don’t see themselves as racist when they move to keep what they have secured for themselves. Protect it from the other, those who have to do without.

Donald Trump winning means cheaters win. Cheating was and is his standard of practice and his father’s standard of practice. Caudito Trump’s biggest supporters, White Evangelicals, are cheating and they know it. They know he isn’t a christian, but they support him even with this inadmissible knowledge in their heads because engaging in this deception gets them the ideological victories that they have literally sold their souls for over the years since Ronald Reagan took office. This is just another facet of belief in the zero-sum game.

Caudito Trump runs his businesses like a crime boss, and he does business with criminal gangs from around the world. Hillary Clinton’s major failing as a candidate and a politician is that she never tried to prove that Donald Trump was a tax cheat back when New York state could have done something about it. She knew he was a cheater, just like everyone else in business and government in New York city knew this about him, and yet she did nothing to torpedo the man before he became Caudito Trump, the man in control of the largest military on the face of the Earth.

Oh my! This is why I should have stayed out of this. I could say the same about you sir. We will never agree with each other. We both think the other is willfully ignorant and will NEVER see the others point. Just keep depending on the government (other people) to take care of you. I want to depend on myself and God. I guess we just agree to disagree.

Facebook

Agree to disagree, the height of willful ignorance. That’s what I suggested was being displayed in that conversation back in 2018 with my brother-in-law and his friends. Willful ignorance. Deliberate stupidity. The author was asserting that there was a vast liberal conspiracy at the center of the average American’s perception of Caudito Trump. That this was the reason that Donald Trump has been dismissed as one of the worst presidents in history. The belief that Barack Obama was one of the best presidents in history.

A vast liberal conspiracy? I was citing a Pew poll as evidence of these assertions. That Obama was loved. That Trump was hated. Agreeing to disagree on matters of opinion is a forgivable sin, I’ll grant that much. If only nature was so malleable as to allow willful ignorance like the above to go unpunished for long.

This is the next most substantial platform of the politics of Caudito Trump under the adherence to the zero-sum game. The second platform is the belief in a grand conspiracy that is keeping the most powerful office in the United States from being exercised the way that its current occupant wants. Caudito Trump loves the stupid, and the stupid love grand conspiracy theories, so he loves and promotes grand conspiracies as the reason why he cannot give his supporters what he thinks they want.

This is why he promotes the ridiculous fantasies behind Qanon. It isn’t because he believes that crap. His supporters believe it, and so he puts on that face. His actions are a pantomime, a mimicry of what his supporters say they want in a leader.

Fortunately (unfortunately for them) nature does not reward leaders that cannot lead, and what we have witnessed time and again over the last four years is that Donald Trump can’t lead. He can’t lead because he has nothing he believes in aside from Donald Trump.

Trump and his enablers — like those from history of similar mindset — have made it abundantly clear: Anybody not of THE PARTY can’t be trusted. This is the primary message of, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?” And so, unchecked, what happens next is those who are not of THE PARTY must be removed from power. They must be purged from government, from military leadership, from law enforcement, and especially from public education.

Facebook – Stonekettle

A leader has to believe something. Faith in oneself is only part of the leadership equation. You also have to have faith in something greater than yourself, and a narcissist like Trump can’t imagine anything greater than he is. This is why he lies incessantly. This is why he constantly cheats at everything that he does. He is a broken man. He has always been a broken man.

This isn’t how we were raised. This isn’t how any of us were raised, aside from Caudito Trump. These aren’t the values of a free people. This is not the America I fell in love with as a child. If it is the vision of America that you want embodied, one that you support, then I have to wonder what it is that you are so afraid of?

Penniless, hopeless refugees are a threat to the United States? We throw away more food in a day here in the US than would be needed to feed ten times the number of refugees requesting asylum in the US right now. We have entire towns made up of empty houses. We have more empty space than would be necessary to house every homeless person in the world if they somehow made their way here to the United States.

We will soon have created a vaccine that will liberate us from the confines of the coronavirus, and we will achieve this without Caudito Trump’s stupid warp speed efforts. We will do this because that is what we do. It is what we have to do in order to overcome the limitations of nature and our own personal shortcomings. It is what we do, aided by people that Caudito Trump and his supporters want thrown out of the country.

I have some good news for you. The game is not zero-sum. Trump is a con artist that lies to you. Refugees are not a threat, they are an asset that we squander, just like we squander the vast amounts of treasure we possess on things that do not make us better people. It is time to stop being afraid. Time to stop listening to people who tell you that you should be afraid, especially when those people have the wealth and authority to solve the problems they tell you to be afraid of, if only they exercised a fraction of their wealth and power to do it. Don’t fall for the con. Don’t defend Trump’s lost cause. Don’t accept his vision of America as your vision of America.

Trump stops being president on January 20th, 2021. There is nothing he can do that will change this fact. It is written into the constitution that the office ends when and where it does. For him to attempt to remain in office is The essence of what unconstitutional means.

The Democratic speaker of the new House of Representatives will become President on January 20th, 2021 if Caudito Trump has rendered the election results inconclusive, which is the best he can do under the circumstances. I’m good with that result just as I am good with Joe Biden becoming president. The average citizen did their job on November 3rd of this year. We honored the 240,000 dead Americans and kicked their murderer out of office in the election. Our job is done. Now it is up to the people who have been given authority to to their jobs.

The governors and legislators of the various states will follow the constitution they swore to uphold, and validate the election results that the count (still going on) reveals. The electors for the president will cast their ballots on December 8th, and if that vote doesn’t reveal a Biden presidency, then the House of Representatives will step in and try to make sense of the mess. The Democratic House of Representatives. Who do you think they will chose?

The military can be counted on to follow procedure. That is one of the few things I’m fairly certain of. They will not back Caudito Trump’s transparent coup attempt that is currently being foiled in the courts. The US military will follow procedure and back whoever Congress names as the next president, because that is what procedure requires of them. Caudito Trump is done. Still, I think I will keep my fingers crossed until January 20th, just in case.

It’s going to be interesting watching Trump get evicted on January 20th. It’ll be like justice has finally arrived for all those black families his father evicted all of his life, that Trump’s son-in-law Jared evicts regularly to this very day.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

When Joe Biden takes the oath of office and enters the White House we will have come full circle again. The evangelicals that allied themselves to the Republican party under Reagan have been frustrated yet again with Biden’s victory. The people who were so scandalized by the nomination and then election of Bill Clinton to the White House, the people who were so shocked at having to tell their children about oral sex because the president got a blowjob and it was talked about on the news, those very same people went out and promoted Caudito Trump and his Trumpismo to the White House.

With Caudito Trump’s elevation to high office the Moral Majority ceased to have any claim to morals or to even being a majority anymore, and they were soundly defeated at the polls on November 3rd. Even though they managed to make some gains on down-ballot races, Joe Biden will likely win with more than seven million votes, more votes than have ever been cast for a president before in history. I wonder what hobby horse these backers of Trump and his Trumpismo will come riding back out on next time? Because there will be a next time.

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Editor’s note

In researching this article before publishing it I came to the realization that I mistook the existence of The Perot Group and its development of properties in Texas to be the only business that Ross Perot engaged in. In that assumption I was mistaken. I left the text I had written largely intact because it does reflect what I thought of Ross Perot in 1992. I was simply wrong in 1992. Wrong that he was a real estate developer, correct in my estimation that he was a salesman first. He just happened to be a technologist second and not the even more divorced from reality group designated as real estate developer.

when I decided that the name for Trump’s politics was Trumpismo back in 2017, I thought I was being unique and original. Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea at about the same time that I did. Oh, well.

Featured image from the AP story Message of Election 2020: Trump lost, but Trumpism did not published on November 7, 2020.

#39 Quarantine Powers

Twitter

If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.

39- Quarantine Powers
TrumpConLawQuarantine Powers EP. 39 – 03.17.20

I’ve skipped several episodes in this podcast series. I’ve listened to them myself, but I haven’t felt the need to put them on the blog since the treas …er, impeachment trial of Donald John Trump began and then ended. The whole thing has sort of felt meaningless in the face of the treason of the American people by the members of the Senate.

I expected the traitors to act they way they did, but that doesn’t change the shock of what they did in reality do. For once in my life the thing I expected to happen, did happen. No one was more shocked by this than I was.

However, the quarantine subject is something that is probably bothering everyone right now, so I thought it warranted advertisement.

The episodes I missed on the blog (and on Twitter) were:

  • 38 – Prosecutorial DiscretionProsecutors recommended that Roger Stone, an associate of Donald Trump, be given a heavy penalty after being convicted of seven felony counts, including lying to authorities. But after intervention from Attorney General Barr, and tweets from the President, those recommendations were rescinded. What can his case tell us about presidential interference and prosecutorial discretion?
  • 37 – War Powers and Impeachment UpdateAfter Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, many wondered if the two countries were on the brink of a major conflict. This incident is only the latest in the long-standing fight between Congress and the President over who has the power to make war, and if an act of violence against another state can be legitimate without Congressional approval. This episode also includes an update on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which began earlier this week.
  • 36 – BriberyBribery is one of the three offenses listed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Even though that is attempting to bribe Ukraine is the act that precipitated to Trump’s impeachment, it’s not explicitly listed in the articles of impeachment. Why is that?
  • 35 – Confrontation ClauseSince the beginning of the impeachment proceedings against the President, Donald Trump has insisted he has a right to confront “the whistleblower,” the anonymous member of the intelligence community who set the whole thing in motion. There is a Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says a defendant in a criminal case has the right to face their accuser. But does this clause apply to the impeachment hearing against a president in Congress?
  • 34 – Foreign AffairsDonald Trump says he should not be impeached as President, since there was ‘no quid pro quo’ on a phone call where he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But does quid pro quo need to be explicitly stated to be a legal issue? And can private citizens like Rudy Giuliani represent America on foreign policy issues? (This article on the blog #MAGA – Quid Pro Quo or Quod Erat Demonstrandum? was partially inspired by listening to this episode)

All of them contained information that I didn’t know about constitutional law, but none of them made me jump up and say this episode will change everything. Well, the bribery episode almost got me tweeting. Almost. The rest of them made me shrug and say I don’t see how spreading this around changes anything. So I didn’t bother to post them. I reference them here simply to explain the gap between this post and the last Tweet I created for this podcast series.

Questions & Closing

Both impeachment cases have been presented, both the prosecution and defense. Now we will find out what the mood of the senate is towards the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) and his bullshit.

C-SPANU.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 9) – January 29, 2020

Prayer starts at 12:00 minutes into the video. First question is read at 15:45. Two hours in (the point where I started watching live) there is little doubt what the Texas Senators think. All of the Republican questions have been rather ham-handed gotcha questions that they can’t possibly think will advance the debate on the question before the Senate. The question of whether or not the charges brought against the president deserved to be given a proper hearing.

3:30 pm. Javelins and president Trump’s support of Ukraine. If the characterization by the president’s defense is accurate, then Donald Trump can’t be said to be working in the interest of Vladimir Putin. Putin would not want the OHM to sell the Ukrainians lethal weapons. That means that OHM and his defense are either dumb enough to think there was a server that Crowdstrike sent to be hidden in Ukraine, and that this was done somehow in relation to Vice President Biden and his son hunter. They are either that dumb, or they think that their audience is dumb enough to believe that fantasy could be true, and so sell that as a diversion. The depth of idiocy/ delusion this reveals almost beggars the imagination.

The OHM either believes the QAnon conspiracy fantasy, or he likes pretending he believes it in order to cover his desire to throw mud at Joe Biden. Wow. Just wow.

6:30 pm. What we learn from people who call in to the C-SPAN line, generally, is that the supporters of Donald Trump have very little understanding of the facts in this case. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that the tuned away from FOX news long enough to listen to themselves talk on C-SPAN.

Clearly the talking point they’ve picked up is that the house failed to do a proper investigation. Anyone, ANYONE who is really paying attention knows that the OHM prevented a proper investigation. That is the truth about that specific point of inquiry. Every person who puts the blame on the House is either an idiot, is uninformed, or is lying. It has to be one of those three things. A minimal level of pushback by the talking head who listens and nods would reveal which one of the three mental states the callers are in. Too bad he doesn’t do that more often.


I didn’t even watch the second day of questions and answers. I meant to come back and catalog the first day of questions and answers, but by the time I had my phone working (that article is still in progress) and finished my World of Warcraft raids for the week (priorities) the Senate Republicans were too busy sucking Donald Trump’s cock (right there in public) to be able to do anything but pay attention to the job in front of them.

No witnesses. Nothing more on the subject of the most corrupt president in US history will be entertained by the Senate that is lead by his morally bankrupt Republican party. Closing arguments were heard this morning. I may or may not watch any of the continuing charade. Here, however, are the closing arguments of the House managers who have so valiantly lead the fight against the corruption embodied by the OHM.

C-SPANRep. Adam Schiff Closing Argument – Feb 3, 2020

So I moved this post up to Monday, February 3rd from Thursday, January 29th. The final vote will be on Wednesday. I’ve already started writing on that article. What has happened to this country since 2016 is unacceptable. It has to stop, and we have to stop it because no one else will.

It has been 3 years, 14 days, 7 hours and 35 minutes since Donald Trump should have been removed from office.

Trump isn’t Nixon and he’s not going to be held to account by Republicans. He’s going to weasel out, as he always does. As the rich and privileged and powerful always do. You knew it. You said so, right here, on my Facebook page, in my Twitter timeline. You knew. So did I. So did we all. Of course, we foolishly let ourselves hope it would be different, sure we did. We got excited there for a minute. Maybe this time Susan Collins and Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski would actually stand up and … well, yeah, like I said, foolish.

Stonekettle Station – Stalking Horse

The Drug Deal

Day two of the impeachment trial. I’m still watching.

C-SPAN U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 4) – Jan 23, 2020
Facebook – PBS

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic open … elections. Elections of USA.

Volodymyr Zelensky (Axios)

The drug deal started before Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine. It was his election that caused the Trump administration to panic. Rudy had been working with prosecutors under the previous president of Ukraine, trying to get those prosecutors to open investigations into the Putin-created conspiracy fantasy that Ukraine had somehow worked to undermine the Trump election campaign.

The fact that Ukraine favored the election of Hillary Clinton, as did every single one of our allies (except possibly Saudi Arabia) is irrelevant. Or would be irrelevant if any other person was president other than someone like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) Any other president would have understood that US allies were his allies, no matter their opinions on US political competitions. For the OHM, not wanting him to win the election was tantamount to betrayal on the part of every single one of our allies. But it was especially a betrayal by Ukraine. Why? Because Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine back in the Russian sphere of influence, and not part of the EU or part of NATO.

RAnt(hony)-ings

Donald Trump loves Vladimir Putin. He loves all the vicious dictators who currently hold power in the world. He wants to be one of them and has been working to make the US into a banana republic that he can rule over just like all his heroes do. But there is something special about Putin and Trump. One really has to wonder what kind of dirt Putin has on Trump that makes him so terrified of the Russian President. Because the OHM’s terror is palpable.

So Trump appears to be working for Vladimir Putin and against the interests of our allies in the region, whether he is conscious of this fact or not. It was because of the Putin fabricated conspiracy fantasy that Donald Trump, through Rudy, Lev and Igor, sought to remove ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine. You can’t have a corruption fighter in the ambassadorial residence if what you want done involves engaging in activities that are essentially corrupt.

Before Trump, oligarchs felt relatively defenseless in the face of American efforts to strip corruption from the Ukrainian judicial system. Because the Ukrainian nation depended on American support, a figure like Yovanovitch had the leverage to demand cleaner government. But the new U.S. president presented the possibility of salvation for the corrupt. Here was an American leader who operated in the style of an oligarch, who wanted to use the legal system to wound his political rivals. Trump seemed like he could be enlisted, with a properly calibrated message, to act on an oligarch’s behalf.

The Betrayal of Volodymyr Zelensky (The Atlantic)

This is probably why Bolton instructed his subordinates not to even talk to Rudy. Instructed them to take no part in his drug deal and to inform the lawyers that he wasn’t involved. It was his unwillingness to do the presidents bidding in this matter that probably lead to his leaving/being fired. We won’t know unless and until he takes the stand and testifies. The trial continues after dinner.

Meanwhile, the publicity stuntmen working for Donald Trump just can’t seem to keep quiet.

Facebook – Stonekettle Station

This is why I quit listening to him and to them. Because they lie constantly. Paying attention to what they say is a complete waste of time. Donald Trump will always be the guy who stole from all his contractors on his building contracts. Caveat Emptor, America. Just ask them the question.

RAnt(hony)-ings

Make them confront exactly what it is they are doing.

C-SPANAdam Schiff Closing Argument – Jan 23, 2020

It has been 3 years, 3 days, 10 hours and 11 minutes since Donald Trump should have been removed from office.

#MAGA: Quid Pro Quo or Quod Erat Demonstrandum?

Mr. Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey, keeps insisting there was no quid pro quo in his phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s interesting that he keeps using that phrase. Quid pro quo. He uses like he knows what it means, and his supporters respond like they know what it means.

But they don’t know what it means. Most English speakers don’t know what it means. Quid pro quo is meant to equate to tit for tat or a favor for a favor. Which is what the transcript that Mr. Trump keeps saying exonerated him reveals. He explicitly asks for a favor in exchange for a favor.

On July 25, during a roughly 30-minute phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, our commander in chief engaged in not one, but two acts of bribery — one of the only high crimes, along with treason, specifically delineated by our Constitution.

“You just added another word,” McCarthy said. “No, it’s in the transcript,” Pelley responded. “He said — ‘I’d like you to do a favor though?” McCarthy asked, incredulous. “Yes,” Pelley responded once more, “it’s in the White House transcript.”

The reason McCarthy refused to accept that Trump said those words is because he knew they fit the definition of solicitation to a T. Nobody literally says “Here’s a bribe,” but “I would like you to do us a favor, though” is about as close as it gets.

Washington Post – The transcript Trump released is still the only evidence needed to impeach him

…He engages in two illegal acts in the transcript that he keeps insisting exonerated him. Then he uses the phrase “there was no quid pro quo.” Oddly enough, he is telling the truth when he says that. Think on that for a minute. Donald J. Trump, the president that has told more lies in his few short years as president than any one person can do in the course of a lifetime, is telling the truth about there not being a quid pro quo in that telephone conversation. There was no quid pro quo, if you revert to the meaning of the words as they were used in latin.

The Latin phrase corresponding to the usage of quid pro quo in English is do ut des (Latin for “I give, so that you may give”). Other languages continue to use do ut des for this purpose, while quid pro quo (or its equivalent qui pro quo, as widely used in Italian, French and Spanish) still keeps its original meaning of something being unwillingly mistaken, or erroneously told or understood, instead something else.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So he’s not substituting something for the thing that he’s promising. He’s not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Volodymyr Zelensky, trying to get something for nothing. Which is completely the opposite of Donald Trump’s standard of practice. He steals from everybody else, all through his life, and now this time, when he honestly offers a favor for a favor, he gets in trouble. In any other transaction with Donald Trump, Volodymyr Zelensky would have been right to adhere to Caveat Emptor. But this time, Mr. Trump is being honest.

Do me a favor, and I’ll do you a favor. In every other instance in his life, he’d crawfish on that promise. Welsh on the deal. Or to use language that isn’t taken from gangster movies, stab his business partner in the back. He’s rightly pissed off at this. There was no quid pro quo, no attempt to get out of doing what was promised. Donald Trump would have given Volodymyr Zelensky exactly what he wanted in exchange for Zelensky doing what Mr. Trump asked for.

English speakers do this frequently. Reverse the meanings of words used in casual parlance. Sometimes they do this by accident. Sometimes it is done on purpose. But it happens a lot, and you have to wonder if Mr. Trump knows about this reversal of the phrases definition. Does he know, and this is just another showman’s wink at the camera?

It is just too bad for Donald Trump that even asking for the things he asked for is illegal. Even if he has to give the thing that President Zelensky wanted without getting anything in return. Which makes him even madder. No one steals from the Don! Except there is no theft here. Congress approved the aid. It goes without any strings attached, and asking for personal favors in exchange for unconditional aid is looking for bribes. Again, illegal, even if you don’t get the proceeds you ask for.

Ask any lawyer. Asking for a bribe, what in legal terms in the United States and England is defined as a quid pro quo, even if you don’t receive the payment, is a serious crime. Worse than lying under oath, even. The transcript that Mr. Trump caused to be released and insists exonerated him, proves that he asked for a bribe. That is quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D. Another latin phrase that Mr. Trump and his supporters should familiarize themselves with. This one means exactly what it says, unlike quid pro quo.

“The very thing it was required to have shown.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If it please the court? I’d like to enter exhibit A into the record.


Stay Tuned with Preet – Impeaching 45 (with Susan Glasser)

..In which Preet and Susan discuss just how the transcript is QED for Trump’s criminality (without using the phrase directly) and their wonderment that this farce of the Trump presidency has been allowed to continue to destroy the government and reputation of the United States for as long as it has.

I’d love to have a membership to the Insider. I hear it makes a great gift.

Moth Putin

I listen to every episode of Throughline (on NPR) that comes out. I haven’t missed an episode so far. All of them have been worth the time to listen, but this week’s episode provided an insight on a modern figure that we Americans and other free peoples of the world should take the time to learn more about.

Throughline – The Moth – December 26, 2019

…because if we don’t counter his plans for us, what happened to Moscow and Chechnya and Ukraine could well happen in your town/state/country soon.


January 26, 2020.

All Things Considered – Journalist Joshua Yaffa On New Book, ‘Between Two Fires’ – January 26, 2020

The Russian language has an especially rich word for a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly: prisposoblenets

———

I became convinced that the most edifying, and important, character for journalistic study in Russia is not Putin, but those people whose habits, inclinations, and internal moral calculations elevated Putin to his Kremlin throne and who now perform the small, daily work that, in aggregate, keeps him there.

Joshua Yaffa
Between Two Fires by Joshua Yaffa

Saratova at one point quotes a Russian movie about gangsters led by their circumstances into a life of crime: “It’s not us who are broken, it’s our life.” Ultimately, Between Two Fires is a good book about Russia, but a great book about ethics, choice, and coercion — and to read it is to be reminded that one of democracy’s most important freedoms is the freedom to be good.

WAMU

President Pence? Unlikely

So, if impeachment IS a coup as Republicans say it is, well, then the primary suspect behind this illegal power grab wouldn’t be Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff or Hillary Clinton.

No. It would be the guy who ends up in power. That’s how coups work.

You want to call it a coup? Maybe wonder where the fuck Mike Pence has gotten to lately.

Stonekettle Station

Because Pence is implicated in Trump’s crimes, he can’t serve either. I’ve heard that scenario run down on Today, Explained, The Nine Impeachment Scenarios

Continue reading “President Pence? Unlikely”