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 finaally thinking clearly for the first time in years. Who knows? What I 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:

twitter/Stonekettle

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 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. 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. Stalin gave the Crimea to Ukraine. That’s how Crimea came to be part of Ukraine (Crimean war, anybody? 1856 too far back in history?) 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. 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?

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 to have ever given up it’s 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 Hitler, 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 are 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

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. More to come.


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

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.

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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

The Way of Peace

The way of peace is a seamless garment that must cover the whole of life and must be applied in all its relationships

A.J. Muste (found here)

A common observation about A.J. Muste I’ve seen many places now goes like this:

Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”

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I haven’t found a reliable source for the quote or the observation yet. He died on this date back in 1967. There is a foundation that was established in his name located at this URL: ajmuste.org

I am not a pacifist. On the other hand, I’m beginning to think that I probably should have always been one.

Stolpersteine

I think the large Holocaust memorial here [in Berlin] will always remain abstract. You have to make the decision to visit it. But not with the stumbling blocks. Suddenly they are there, right outside your front door, at your feet, in front of you.

Guenther Demnig
Morning Edition – Stumbling Upon Mini Memorials To Holocaust Victims May 31, 2012

The artist Gunter Demnig has placed almost 60,000 “Stolpersteine” cobblestones across Europe. The first 50 were placed in Berlin in May 1996. Illegally. Now, it is the biggest decentralized monument in the world.

20 years of ‘Stolpersteine’

Stolpersteine translates, literally, into stumbling stones. You stumble over them because they are obvious. Gunter Demnig has earned his place in artistic history, placing every one of the 60,000 stolpersteine himself. This is the website where you can donate to the fund or even pay to have one placed with a name of your choice.

I was thinking of posting the memorial image below again today on Facebook, as I have for the last few years, because it is once again the anniversary of Sophie Scholl’s death sentence.

…but those really aren’t her final words, except that they were in one of the last letters she wrote before the death sentence was carried out. What her final words were remain undocumented. That she died at the hands of people who thought she did not belong, is documented. So I’m creating this post in memory of her on this date. In memory of all the holocaust victims, with the sincere hope that we don’t have to start installing stolpersteine in the US in order to mark the spots were the brown-skinned people we arrested and hauled off to their deaths used to live, because people in this country continue to deny that it has happened here, and continues to happen here.

New York Times – The White Rose Guillotine

We know their story well, these students who wrote the Leaflets of the White Rose. We know their bravery, their utter courage, how they wrote death-defying words that led straight to the guillotine.

Yet we hardly know them at all. We focus so tightly on their noble deeds that we overlook who they were. We’re listening so closely for those awe-inspiring retorts as the students stand before Judge Freisler that we miss the wonder of the debates that stirred them to act.

When we begin to step back to “see” them better, to grasp the whole of their work, we find that our widened lens is capturing people we don’t know at all. There are new faces, new voices, new perspectives.

Before long, we realize there is so much more to “resistance” during the Shoah than just White Rose, more even than White Rose plus 20 July 1944 plus Rote Kapelle plus the Kreisauer Circle and the handful of other groups that have made their way into the literature.

Every new story we find – whether it is Helmuth Hübener and his friends, or Helle Hirsch, or the BMW leaflet writers – demonstrates how much there is still to learn about the strength of character of so many unknown heroes.

Once that camera lens pans the landscape of thousands of courageous individuals, our spirits are lifted. We understand that even in the darkest of days, there were those who stood up for justice, those who did the right thing no matter the cost.

The Center for White Rose Studies has dedicated its resources to uncovering those stories. We began with White Rose, but we are actively documenting as many heroic acts (and heroes) as we can.

We believe that these biographies will inspire and encourage young people in 21st century America to live lives characterized by integrity and the pursuit of justice. We believe that, because we know how the stories have affected us.

Join us on this journey!

White Rose Studies

Associated Forces

This unspeakable act on the United States has really forced me, however, to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God for direction. September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. This is a very complex and complicated matter.

Now, this resolution will pass, although we all know that the President can wage a war even without it. However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let’s step back for a moment. Let’s just pause just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.

Now, I have agonized over this vote, but I came to grips with it today and I came to grips with opposing this resolution during the very painful, yet very beautiful, memorial service, as a member of the clergy so eloquently said, “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”[1]

Rep. Barbara Lee, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (wikisource)
Radiolab – 60 Words – January 7, 2020

Associated forces are the mythical sixty-first and sixty-second words in the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) They appear nowhere in the text of the document passed by the US congress, and yet they are the basis for the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and were the basis for the support of the war against DAESH/ISIS. They are the basis for the latest strike on Qasem Soleimani on Iraqi soil. They will be the basis for the eventual war in Iran that Republicans desperately want to start next.

Hindsight has proven that Barbara Lee is an American hero. A patriot that puts people like yours truly to shame. Why? Because I acted to quash a resolution by Travis county Libertarians to come out against declaring a war on terrorism. I did this not because I thought that war was justified. I did it because I felt that a political organization that hoped to be given power in some future election could not publically come out against a war that was so demonstrably popular with the masses back in 2001.

I would like to think that if I had been in Barbara Lee’s shoes back then, I might have had the fortitude to stand up for what I believed in, as she did. But I doubt it. I would probably have seen the writing on the wall, as Senator Joe Biden did, and felt justified in supporting a resolution that was going to pass whether I spoke out against it or not.

What I do know now is that the AUMF has to be rescinded. We will never get out of this endless war unless we do rescind it. We are breeding new legions of US hating terrorists with every one of the targeted strikes we engage in now. Unless we like being the most hated country in the world, with our citizenry afraid to travel beyond the country’s borders for fear of being targeted themselves, we have to give up this unwinnable war against terrorism. Unless we want to bankrupt our country in much the same way as we forced the USSR to bankrupt their country in Afghanistan at the end of the cold war, we cannot continue acting the way we have acted since 2001. It is time for all of this hatred and killing to stop and we have to stop it.

The Afghanistan Papers

“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers. He added, “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”

THE WASHINGTON POST – Confidential documents reveal U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan
On the Media – The “Pentagon Papers” Of Our Time – December 11, 2019

I had hopes, when Bush II went into Afghanistan, that he would keep his eye on the ball of catching and punishing those responsible for the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. It didn’t even take a year for me to realize that he and his administration were not up to the task. Iraq became the thing he was obsessed with instead of getting the job that he had started done properly.

What I didn’t know was how complicit President Obama was in covering up the failures in Afghanistan. At least he managed to finish the job Bush II started. If only he could have gotten us out of Afghanistan, too. Attempting to occupy Afghanistan was what did in the USSR. It looks to destroy the United States, too.

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi

Yep. Agreed. Terrorists and dictators should be handled severely and quickly. Handled severely should be read as killed for those who, like me, need direct language. One could argue that with each step Trump takes down dictator lane, he gets one step closer to being handled severely himself. It would be smart for those around Trump to explain these facts of life to him before he goes too far.

…and if he doesn’t listen to the advice given by people concerned for his and the nations safety, we could call that suicidal behavior. Just one more reason to impeach him. Justice is served how and when it has to be. You don’t have to like it, but it remains justice in any case.

Trump did not kill Baghdadi. Delta Force did.

Facebook comments.

Due process is reserved for people who respect the process.

Justice is served in the time and place that it has to be. In the case of Saddam Hussein, who did get his trial, was subjected to due process, justice was hardly gentle. Slightly more gentle than what Gaddafi felt. You are wasting your sympathy lamenting the death of Baghdadi. Opining about the lack of due process. He’d cut your head off as soon as look at you. Not everyone deserves a fair trial. Deserters on a battlefield get a bullet in the back, if they are lucky. Terrorists, dictators and frausters like Trump take advantage of the system. They all count on most people not being willing to shoot them for their misbehavior. I’m for getting rid of the garbage when it is identified. Sometimes that means justice is brutal.

If you are sent to serve in a war, all your fellow soldiers rely on you to do your job. If you don’t do your job, their lives are at risk. The military is a machine whose parts are people. Like any machine will, the military breaks down if the parts don’t work the way they are supposed to work. If you don’t want to fight and die, then don’t go to war. Don’t sign up for the military.

I don’t spit on people who dodged the draft and were honest about it. Go to Canada. Go to jail. Ol’ BoneSpurs is the only kind of draft dodger I will spit on. The kind that made up shit to keep himself from serving. The kind that buys their way out of service, a convenience denied to the poor. Don’t skip out and pretend that you were justified in escaping your duty. You aren’t, no matter how much money you have in your pocket.

Shooting deserters in the back is not murder if that is the right thing to do. If that is what keeps the military machine running the way it is supposed to. It’s still taking another person’s life, but sometimes that has to be done. I hope to get out of life without having to kill another person. That is why I didn’t join the military. I know I can kill, I simply don’t want to anymore. Not killing would be winning the game, in my estimation. How to win the game of life, escape without taking another person’s life. Baghdadi lost that game a long, long time ago.

Pluspora comments.

NYT: The Daily, The Life and Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The Daily – The Life and Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – Oct. 29, 2019

Donald Trump is a fake. Fake as in you can tell when the guy is reading off the script. He’s horrible at linking thoughts together and clearly resents being told to stay on point. But he loves watching people blow up. You can tell that just by the animation in his voice listening to him describe how Baghdadi dies to the reporters at the press conference. It is sickening.

Pluspora comment.

Perspective

George Bush got a pass from history that I will never understand. He starts a war for a completely fictionalized reason, which results in hundreds of thousands of people dying, and an entire generation of war vets coming home, damaged for the rest of their lives, and you can see them on the streets. Why are they on the streets? Because George Bush started a war for no reason. Right? And then not to mention the devastation that is left over in Iraq because we started a war for no reason. Right?

…And somehow this doesn’t matter and we’re obsessing about Trump’s tweets when there is a guy in Texas…

(Larry Wilmore: You know who was against that war? Your boy Trump.)

I don’t think Trump is nearly as egregious as George Bush. I don’t think it’s even close. He started a war on the basis of a lie. A complete falsehood which he told to the American people that had nothing to do with 9-11. Which devastated tens of thousands of lives, cost a trillion dollars, and left a generation of American soldiers devastated and wounded and somehow he’s perceived as this genial guy down in Texas painting pictures and giving speeches.

What is the matter with us? There is nothing Donald Trump has done that has come even close to the human devastation of George Bush’s time. Not even close. Not even close. I mean, Trump is a deeply objectionable figure, but he has not resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people for no reason.

George Bush is a war criminal. That is what a war criminal is. Someone who enters into a disastrous conflict for no good reason. For worse than no good reason. For a completely trumped up, ridiculous reason. The choice of things that Americans get riled up about has always amazed me.

Malcolm Gladwell

Something I’ve pointed out a few dozen times myself. As much as Trump is an active threat to the proper functioning of the United States, and a fraudster that is duping us of millions of dollars for every day he is in office, he hasn’t yet descended to the level of war criminal that Bush, Cheney, et al occupy.

The Orange Hate-Monkey hasn’t gone that far down the scale of evil yet. Yet. The back and forth occurs at 40:45 in this episode of Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air.

Malcolm Gladwell on ‘Talking to Strangers’ (Live) | Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air

I also took the time to listen to It’s Been a Minute With Sam Sanders,  Best-Selling Author Malcolm Gladwell On ‘Talking To Strangers’: A Live Conversation. Both podcasts were worth the time, and you gain an insight into the personality of Sandra Bland that isn’t available anywhere else unless you just happened to run across her Youtube channel yourself, as well as why every time you call a racist a racist you are in some small way handing a victory to institutional racism.


It is worth noting that not prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al for their war crimes leads directly to Donald Trump becoming president. Which means that in some small part, Barack Obama is to blame for the predicament that we find ourselves in today. George W. Bush was not prosecuted for war crimes because the Obama justice department chose not to make a case of the conspiracies and lies that lead us into war in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost, the foundation of DAESH (what the media in the US calls the Islamic State) hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives lost, thousands of American lives lost, more than a hundred thousand injured and disabled US veterans, trillions of dollars wasted. George Bush and his administration get a pass for all of that when all of that sprang directly from the lie that Iraq was somehow involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. President Obama gave him that pass.

Had George Bush been prosecuted. Had the known crimes against humanity committed by the Bush administration been subjected to inquiry, justice and restitution, the Republican party would not have felt that they were still in the right when it comes to their delusions about foreign policy. Their delusions about christianity. The place of the US government as part of a whole world which requires governance. Requires justice.

They would have known that their beliefs were based on lies because the criminal proceedings would have made the truth of this blatantly clear. Whether they agreed with the verdicts or not, in the end, the trial of George W. Bush for war crimes would have altered the trajectory of the Republican party if not resulted in its destruction and reformation as a viable opposing party to the Democrats.

Instead we let George Bush off the hook. And what we got for letting him off the hook was transparently racist hatred of Barack Obama and an unrepentant Republican party willing to sacrifice everything on one last chance to get their beliefs enshrined as public policy, even if that meant they had to destroy everything they pretended to hold dear in the process.

What we got for our inaction on the crimes of the Bush administration was civil war in Syria and unrest across the entire region that we refer to as the Middle East. How many millions of lives will be negatively impacted by our unwillingness to get involved in the Syrian civil war?

Morning Edition – Survivor Of Torture In Syria’s Prisons Is Telling His Story

Climate change is a portion of the reason why Syria descended into civil war. Civil war is always more complex than any one group involved in the civil war ever wants to admit. An extended drought in the region lead to crop failures and the migration of the starving farmers into cities and towns where they demanded aid and assistance from the Assad government. Instead of responding with aid, Bashar al Assad imprisoned these protestors and forced the dissident groups within his country to ally with outside forces in order to topple his government. Topple his government so that the poor in his country could be given the assistance that they needed to weather the crisis brought on by climate change.

The conservatives here in the US deny that climate change is real, and they further deny that we have any reason to think that the human tragedies occurring in Syria and elsewhere around the world are our responsibility. All while we pump out more carbon dioxide than any other country as technically advanced as our own.

How many millions of people, if not billions of people, will suffer and possibly die because of the denialism that we allow to fester in our country, when it comes to climate change? Why do we allow these people who deny science to lead our country? Why do we think that they have a right to believe things which are demonstrably not true? Will flat earthers be given a seat at the leadership table next?

Morning Edition – We Are On The Front Line Of Climate Change, Marshall Islands President Says

That is perspective. Study it closely.

Brother Where You Bound

You’re tellin’ lies, so don’t you criticize
Yeah I got used, all messed up and abused
You let me down, with all your runnin’ round
Still you pretend and try to call me friend

Supertramp, Cannonball

This is where my mind went after the feedback from that last post. Supertramp’s Brother Where you Bound album. The album was a weird one, a departure from the happy but cynical tunes on Breakfast in America, the only other album that I had heard from Supertramp at the time. (I have quoted that one before) So I listened to Brother Where you Bound again, wondering if there was a piece of lyrics that summarized why I went there.

I didn’t find anything that expressed the compulsion to listen to the album well enough to use as a quote. I didn’t find anything because I started with the title track and not the first song on the album, Cannonball. What I did find was a portion of the nearly seventeen minute video that the band released before the album as a promotion for their musical change of course.

Supertramp “Brother Where You Bound”

Hodgson’s departure placed the burden of delivering new material squarely on Davies, but the absence of a full-time guitarist opened up new opportunities for the band when it came time to record the title track. Although Marty Walsh filled the guitar spot for much of the record, “Brother Where You Bound” featured some major-league pinch-hitting from David Gilmour and Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham.

UltimateClassicRock.com

A quote from 1984 begins the album track, a much better intro to the album and the song than the intro that is part of the above video. Here is the album track,

Supertramp, Brother Where You Bound, from the album of the same name.
Concord HPL 115 – 1979

It starts the second side on the cassette tape that I first heard the album on. When I would plug it into the tape player in my car, I would get to Brother Where you Bound somewhere on the back side of Lake Sweetwater. The album was the perfect length to start at the beginning of an evening ramble because it ended about the time I would get to the highway that either lead me further away from home or back home in Sweetwater, back in 1984 when the album came out. It’s more of an EP than an LP since it only contains six songs. In my searching for the full video version of the song, I stumbled across this mashup of the audio from the song with video segments from Brazil that was was worth watching.

Brazil – Brother Where You Bound

I never did find the full video as I remember seeing it on MTV back in the day. I was bitter about my breakup with my then fiancee who had cheated on me in my absence from Garden City, Kansas where I had attended the middle years of high school. She did me a favor. I should probably thank her, as I should thank Mom or Mr. Polk for allowing me the chance to get past the volcanic rage I felt towards him. She did me a favor because her infidelity lead me to take alternate paths in life, leading me ultimately to the Wife and kids that I still call family.

but this album resonated with me because the first three songs were solidly about getting through a breakup, while I was going through a breakup myself. Cannonball, Still in Love and No Inbetween all continue the theme of the pain of separation. (Like In the Air Tonight does with violent rage) Better Days, the last song on side one of the album/cassette is an intro to the song that takes up most of side two, the title track, Brother Where you Bound.

Rick Davies and his bandmates in Supertramp going through the loss of Roger Hodgson’s input impacted me and my life directly. It is weird how the music you embrace in any given time and place reflects the emotional turmoil of one’s own life. Or maybe that is completely predictable. In any case, the miskey by some of my family on asking them for feedback on Divorce clearly caused me to retreat to music that I was listening to the last time I was spending any real time with them. Or maybe I grieve for the breakup of my extended family in World of Warcraft. Probably the latter, but the music would not have come to me without family not understanding what it was I was driving at.

So it is in all relationships. The question that remains unanswered for me, in retrospect, is what the album that featured both Brother Where you Bound and Had a Dream might have sounded like. It would have been better than Famous Last Words, there is no doubt of that. Breakups are like that.

Had a Dream – Roger Hodgson

Had a dream it was war
And they couldn’t tell me what it was for
But it was something they could lie about
Something we could die about, you know

Anytime, anyplace
When you look that man in the face
Well it is not a face you wanna see
Sleeping with the enemy, you know