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Thursday, May 13, 2021

New Exploding War Between Israel & Palestine

This recent violence between Israel and the Palestinian paramilitary organization Hamas is very worrying. It's as if Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist allies have found a new justification to eradicate the Palestinian people in their entirety. Before we get to that though, let's clear something up: Israel, like all nations, does have the right to defend itself against would-be aggressors. However, under Netanyahu's leadership, Israel's response has once again become overkill.

The goal looks to be collective punishment of the Palestinians for standing up to several illegal Israeli settler landgrabs in the 4-5 months prior to the recent outbreak in violence. Instead of blocking action on Israel's overreaction, America should put its foot down and tell it to end its landgrabs for good. This is what's fueling it, and Joe Biden, as America's president, has the clout to do so right now. He (Biden) shouldn't bother listening to AIPAC (which, for the record, is the domestic mouthpiece for Likud in America) with its lectures about how any criticism of Israeli policy is anti-Semitic/anti-Semitism. The 2 are not interrelated, despite what AIPAC says to the contrary. In fact, they're very different from each other.

The Palestinians need a voice at the table, and America would be in a position to facilitate that if it would quit buying into the lie that Israel is the aggrieved victim in this saga when it's very clear that it's the actual aggressor. It's also time for America to quit dragging its proverbial feet in engaging in some tough love on Israel; clearly laying out the law by saying that using the Holocaust to justify genocide and apartheid is wrong. This rings especially true given how modern Israel was born in the wake of the Nazis' nearly successful attempt to exterminate Europe's own Jewish population during WWII. It's not helping Israel's cause in becoming a non-pariah on the world stage.

Republicans Have Just Shot Themselves In The Foot

It's incredibly obvious that the Republican Party doesn't know what it's doing post-Trump, or where it's headed. The fact that the party is lashing out at its own elected officials is enough to demonstrate this point. That's especially true in Liz Cheney's case when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed her out of her leadership position as Conference chair.

Cheney has been doing America a real service by not going along with the Republican lie that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump last year. However, we can't lose sight of the fact that her father, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, had a hand in creating the conditions that allowed his (Trump's) presidency to happen in the first place.

By sidelining the "reasonable" voices in their ranks, the Republicans are alienating moderate voters whose votes they'll need if they want to regain congressional control (full or partial) in next year's midterm election. And at the rate they're going racing towards MAGA-world, that's unlikely to happen. Centrist voters understand what MAGA is now, and they want none of it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Why Neo-McCarthyism And Russophobia Are Still Threats To Watch Out For

Neo-McCarthyism is still a problem in this day and age, especially when we start calling those who disagree with us Russian puppets. Look, America was founded on the principle that we don't all have to agree on everything, and that our political discourse is the contest of ideas and their effective implementation. But in all honesty though, we need to not be calling each other Russian puppets and bots. And I still think in this day and age that it's incredibly dangerous to be bashing Russia for political advantage. Doing this plays to the narrators who say that Russia is the cause of our problems and that it should be wiped off the face of the map; that it's the very existential threat to our way of life. 

First off, that premise is so laughably false on its own merits. Here's how: Russia doesn't have anything to gain from antagonizing us, or our allies; nor does it have anything to gain from breaking America up. The Russians are not stupid, they understand full well that the breakup of America would bring a level of chaos that is substantially bigger than what their nation went through following the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991.

Secondly, what do the Russians have to gain by trying to remake our country in their image? Nothing, other than making the point that if we don't want them interfering in our domestic politics, don't do so in theirs. If you think about it, it has credence. They understand full well that trying to remake us in their own image won't get them anywhere as they've tried doing it without any success. To russify us is an exercise in futility, just like it is for us with americanizing them.

Finally, the Russians understand that atagonizing us is a dangerous game for them to play. They know full well what we'll do in retaliation and that we can pull off a retaliatory strike much faster than they can. The Russians are aware of the fact that not only will we hit back faster and harder, we'll also go the extra step of forcibly pacifiying them by remaking them in our image. How do they know this? Our doing so with Japan at the conclusion of WWII. When we did this with the Japanese, we went the extra step of creating a constitution that prohibits them waging war unless it's done in self-defense. For the Russians this would be the ultimate catastrophy as they'll have to deal with the humiliation of being occupied by a foreign power while they're being rebuilt.

In terms of the neo-McCarthyists, we need to make clear to them that they don't get the only say in how we conduct our relations with the Russians or how we're supposed to view them. If anything, their anti-Russia hysteria will only breed a return of occasionally violent russophobia (fear or hatred of Russians as a people). And yeah, it's happened during the red scares of the early-to-mid 20th Century.

I can tell you from first-hand knowledge from dating a Russian lady, most of them are not mean and/or violent brutes with no manners or morals. Most of them are actually very friendly and willing to help you out when you need it. Can they get aggressive? Sure, but that's only when you spook them or piss them off. If anything, they're loyal to a fault. As for manners, they have them, they're just somewhat different from what we think of them as. For example, and this is no joke, the phrase "Feed me" to Russians is a polite request. Honesty is generally not an issue as they're people who will tell it as it is. Like us, they consider directness to be a display of honesty. Last of all, no, most Russian girls and women are not sex kittens! Russians for the most part stick to the traditional view that sex out of wedlock is immoral and reflects poorly on the family as a whole.

I can keep going on with that mini-side lecture, but the point is that they're not like they're made out to be. The next time you hear someone spouting off russophobic comments, take that as a sign that they don't know anyone who's Russian or that they've never been around Russians.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Christopher Steele's Dossier - What I Got Wrong About It

 I know that I wrote a piece a few years ago about how Christopher Steele having lied about Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election; about it working on Donald Trump's behalf. I need to come clean and say that I was wrong, dead wrong. Steele was by no means a puppet for the Ukrainians, or for that matter the Clinton 2016 campaign, to tar both Trump and Russia in a neo-McCarthyist manner. When the intel community used his dossier and kept coming to him for additional information, it meant they considered him a credible source for Russia's activities. It turned out that Robert Mueller's investigation was able to use the information Steele provided to convict several figures in Trump's orbit and disprove the Trump Administration's lies about the Trump 2016 campaign's involvement.

Russia did apparently have some sex videos that it could use to blackmail Trump, but not even those would have mustered a yawn. People would be disgusted to see them, but not thoroughly outraged. Sex scandals have been common in our electoral politics since the 1990s, which means they largely don't pass the smell test for qualifying as a scandal at this point; that is unless there's some other egregious factor involved. I think what does get lost in all of this though is that, while certainly compromised, Trump still had more leverage on the Russians to blackmail them with. Don't forget, he was 1 of the Russian elites' primary vehicles into the U.S. economy starting in the 1980s. What also gets lost in the noise, which I bought into, is the extent to which Bill Barr had been less than forthcoming about Trump's involvement.

Barr's complete disregard for proper procedure and truth gave Trump a sense of impunity. By falsely declaring that Trump was cleared of any Obstruction of Justice charges and then going to great lengths to hide the fact that it was a lie fed into Trump's false narrative that he was innocent the entire time. A federal judge for the D.C. district court ruled earlier today that the Justice Department had to publicly release a memorandum with Barr's false evidence. Whether that happens or not isn't the question to be asking, the question we should be asking ourselves is what did Barr have to gain in keeping that memo hidden; and moreover, what his intent was, too. Should there be a criminal element to this, he needs to be held accountable.

Barr's actions also played right into the contents of Steele's dossier; just like Trump's. Steele warned us that something was amiss with Trump 2016, and many on the left and right (including the author of this blog) ignored it. And to all my readers, I can't apologize enough for that. From now on, I'll try to be more judicious in verifying sources before spouting off like I did back during Trump's term in office. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Joe Biden's 100-Day Mark Speech

Joe Biden's 100th day in office will be on April 30, and it's good to see the progress we've made thus far. 200 million shots of the COVID19 vaccines in American arms is good, but we need to make sure that Americans are getting fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. Biden is right to be pushing for a more ambitious program of big government spending that is sorely needed. Americans who aren't wealthy are getting badly squeezed financially and they need relief. Child care, preschool, college tuition, etc. Pretty much any big expense you can think of is eligible for the previous short list of goods and/or services that most Americans eithr can't easily, or at all, afford. Biden is right that it's well past time for Corporate America and the wealthiest Americans to start paying their fair share of taxes, especially when many have paid nothing due to various loopholes in the tax codes. Tax cheating is keeping our country from functioning at all, and it needs to quit.

Another relief to hear from Biden is that he plans to wind down the war in Afghanistan so that we can start bringing our troops home from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. At least that's his goal. Just to be clear, it's going to take some careful calculations by high command to pull this off; and we all know how risk-adverse they are. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing; it's just how they're trained to think. Minimize risk as much as possible so that it doesn't give the enemy an advantage, and at the same time, cover our own asses in case something goes sideways. Here's the thing about the top military brass, many of them are among the smartest people we'll hear about. That being said, it's good to know that the troops are finally going to start coming home.

The fact is that we've gotten quite a bit done under Biden's leadership so far. Much more so than during Barack Obama's first 100 days in office. It's not that Obama did nothing, he did quite a bit, but other than dealing with the banks and auto companies, his list of accomplishments was not as big. I will admit this right now, I was wrong about Biden's not being able to get anything done. I was wrong to underestimate him, he's been a lot more effective at getting progressive policies through than the previous 2 (Obama and Bill Clinton) put together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Free At Last

 I have to say, it's a relief to know that I can finally come out of "quarantine" as it's been 2 weeks since my final shot of the COVID19 vaccine. I can't complain though, as I had no horrible side effects, just some chills, sleepiness and a sore arm, but that's it. But that's not solely why I'm relieved, as the other reason is that I can let myself go out in public without anymore mental barriers of being scared of getting the virus itself. For the past year I've been mostly walling myself up at home to avoid contraction of COVID19. Probably the most irritating part of the pandemic was not being able to spend any real quality time with my lady. Now that both of us are vaccinated we can finally start doing this again.

It'll also be a relief to finally start doing my own laundry again. I got to tell you, going 2-3 weeks without doing laundry sucks. Think about it, how can you go anywhere when you don't have clean shirts or pants? You can't. Like I said before, this is a massive relief.

Even though I'm vaxxed, I'm still going to wear a mask in indoor public settings. No it's not because it's a legal requirement, it's just commonsense given the rate of how quickly the virus spreads indoors; especially when it's crowded. I'm not taking chances with my health.

Friday, April 23, 2021

How Vladimir Putin Is Playing With Fire Violating American Airspace

It's obvious that Vladimir Putin's Russia has been throwing a self-destructing tantrum ever since Joe Biden became president. If Putin thinks invading American airspace to harass fishing boats is his ticket to success, he's delusional. If anything, he's going to provoke a JFK-like response from Biden, which would further complicate an already deteriorating relationship between America and Russia. Don't be surprised or shocked in the slightest should war threats come eminating from Washington to Moscow if Putin decides to escalate matters even further (which he will). These types of threats are not to be taken lightly as we're talking about a war between the nations with largest nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Unless Putin really wants an exchange of nuclear launches, he should quit these provocative escalations before innocent people get killed. Lobbing 1 at the Kremlin's men's room is the last thing we need. America is going to respond, it's a matter of when, not if, and how. We'll have to keep a close eye on this situation as it continues unfolding.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Derek Chauvin's Case Being An Illustration Of The Current State of American Race Relations

 It's no secret that we're in a polarized time with regards to race relations in America; something that Derek Chauvin's trial for murdering George Floyd last year represents very clearly illustrates. What we're seeing with the trial is a growing realization that race relations aren't/weren't what they seemed. In 1 sense, it's good to see that people are coming together regardless of their background, but don't ignore the fact that for all the progress we've made over the past nearly 60 years, we still have more work to do. 

Irrespective of whether Chauvin's found innocent or guilty, it still doesn't change the fact that expression of racist tropes has been on the rise for the past 10+ years. No, Donald Trump's presidency wasn't the cause of any it, it was a byproduct of that steep rise. The problem goes back to just prior to Barack Obama declaring he was running for president in February 2007, with photos with racist commentary having been allegedly leaked from Hillary Clinton's campaign in January 2007 (There isn't enough evidence to confirm that accusation).

Should he be found guilty, however, it would be a significant step to realizing the long held principle of "Equality under the law." We need to send the message that we practice what we preach." It would also send the message that Black and other people of color's do actually matter and that America hears them in their time of pain.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Resist The Republicans Effort To Disenfranchise Us

 The Republicans are looking to take away your voice to get back at you for taking out their dear leader in last year's presidential election. So far we have 361 bills in 47 states being considered for becoming law. We need to do everything to keep this from coming into fruition. If you're able, get into the streets and demand that the Republicans quit trying to silence you. We're all part of the whole system of self-governance, so let's make some noise about it. Keep up the pressure on companies like The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsico, demanding that they use their influence to rein the Republicans' effort in before it turns our nation into an oligarchy.

By the way, those same 47 states are going to turn into 50. It's a matter of when, not if. The Republicans' efforts to silence us might not work for 2022, but it certainly will for 2024. We need to be doing everything we can to make noise! So let's get to it!

Republicans Caught Flat-Footed Trying To Oppose Biden

 It's not lost on anyone that Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have been running circles around the Republicans in Congress with great success thusfar. While it is great to see that, it's also a warning sign, too. Here's how: It's a warning sign by illustrating just how broken our system of governance has become; and with 1 of the 2 major political parties out to lunch, fixing it is going to be a real challenge. The first means of getting control of our nation from the hijacking done by the far-right is to rein in corporate excess and wealth inequities that have been driving its extremism.

So far, the Republicans seem content on embracing this far-right extremism and making it their party's brand; rejecting the will of the rest of the electorate in the process. To them, the far-right's extremist conduct and rhetoric is their ticket back into power in 2022. That and extreme gerrymandering. Whether all of that will work or not isn't the question we should be asking ourselves. The question we should be asking ourselves is how to go about changing the culture in Washington, DC so that the Republicans have no other choice than ditching the far-right for good. That is going to take some time, and a few electoral losses, for the Republican Party to ultimately reach that conclusion. In the meantime, many veteran Republican senators and representatives are heading for the exits as they don't see any reason to remain in an environment that encourages the worst abuses of power for personal gain. Essentially they're tired of being forced into concentrating on scoring political points instead of doing their actual job, which is governing and keeping tabs on the current issues of the day to craft policy.

It's the 1 fact that Democrats in Washington are beginning to recognize, they need to start moving the government's policy-making closer to where the people are. If they keep remaining responsive to this fact, it'll help them hold strong in the 2022 midterm election; maybe even gain seats in both chambers (the incumbent party has pulled off this result 4 times in US History: 1806, 1818, 1934 and 2002). Should the Democrats continue to successfully illustrate actual governance and productivity looks like, it'll help them make the case that the Republicans should not be given any lever of power given that they don't govern at all and their party has become the unproductive do-nothing party. 10 years of Republican mismanagement has taken a heavy toll on us all, and so far the Democrats have demonstrated that they understand that point very clearly. They recognize now in 2021 that they screwed up badly in 2009 and 2010 by going by the old manual of crafting legislation, which did little to help people as the economy began to recover from the worst throes of the Great Recession.

As for the original premise of this blog post, the fact is that Republicans are not just opposing the vast majority of the electorate when trying to obstruct Biden and the Democrats. They're also opposing their own base who actually supports what Biden and the Democrats are doing with their new trifacta. Biden is able to connect with them, making it easy for them to understand what's being churned out of Congress. The other problem the Republicans are also running into is that Biden is nowhere near as polarizing as either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were when they were running for president (or in Obama's case, as president). And because he's nowhere near as polarizing, it's next to impossible to get their based all riled up in anger. Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they have nothing to offer and are bankrupt of ideas; that is with the exceptions of lowering taxes on the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations and expanding deregulation of the economy.

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