Putin and The Soldier

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Andrei G., 22, a soldier who took part in the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, was selected to meet with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
Andrei had distinguished himself on the battlefield where he showed courage and skill.
He served 6 consecutive months without a break until a battlefield explosion severely injured his right arm tearing it off at the shoulder. The remainder was amputated.
He was awarded a medal of honor for his service to Russia which he is wearing pinned to his jacket on the right.
He and Putin sit across each other in the room. Two military aides to Putin stand by.
Through the window we see snow falling.
It is mid morning in Moscow.

Putin – If there were more like you, we would have already conquered Ukraine.
Andrei (left hand resting on his thigh) – There are more like me. Many more. On our side and their side. But they are fighting for their land. We are not.
Putin – Ukraine is our land. Fascists in their government have manipulated public sentiment against us. Those Fascists are being paid by the West, which wants to extend their control over our people. But just like we defeated Hitler, we will defeat them.
Andrei – Why do they want to extend their control over us?
Putin – To take over our vast national resources and to encircle China.

Andrei looks down at his hand as he pauses.

Andrei – The Ukrainians I have fought don’t look like they are being manipulated by anyone.
I have served because I answered the call to duty. In combat I killed 16 men. I am not proud of it.

The two military aides look at each other.

Putin – You are probably suffering from combat fatigue. It will affect your judgment, even make you depressed. But you will recover, I am sure of that. I will have our military psychologists work with you to restore your health and judgment.

Andrei shakes his head slowly as he looks at Putin.

Andrei – How do you recover from killing 16 brave men?
Putin – Combat fatigue is pernicious, it affects your mood also. You need time to heal. We have specially designed settings to treat the condition. I will send you to one.
Andrei – I don’t think I have combat fatigue. If I did have it, I’m over it. I got over it while recovering from the surgery to remove what was left of my right arm.
Putin – Combat fatigue will make you say things you will regret later. For instance, because of your courage, once you get treatment, you could have a good job in the army as a motivational speaker, speaking to the troops to help them fight better. It comes with good pay and chances for advancement. With only one arm, your possibilities for work are diminished.
Andrei – I may have only one arm but I am an intelligent man. I would like to explore my options. But thank you.
Putin – Of course.
Andrei – I have other concerns… which I’d like to share.
Putin – Go ahead.

Andrei (sensing that the moment is precious) – This is your war, Mr President, not Russia’s war. If I had been using my brain I would have defected, like so many have done since your expanded order for recruitment…

Putin’s eyes narrow as the two aides share a look of concern between them.

Andrei – … but because I didn’t think clearly, I became your accomplice and then killed 16 men. Brave men, all of them, fighting for something that mattered, not for the vanity of one person.

Flushed with anger, Putin’s expression turns somber. He looks directly at Andrei.

Andrei – In battle, in the fury and danger of every moment, I developed a conscience… and having done so it became harder to kill Ukrainians… or send others to kill them in your name.

Putin thinks of ending the interview and glances at the aides standing by. They are ready to step in.

Andrei then reaches for the medal of valor pinned on his right chest and awarded by Putin himself, takes it in his hand and extends it to Putin.

Putin (exploding, shouting) – Fool! Fool! To show my gratitude I have offered to give you something but you sit there and tell me I’m a liar. Fool! You have no understanding of what it means to lead a nation, to not let it be pushed aside by the West and China.
Russia will not be humiliated!
Andrei – You mean you will not be humiliated…
Putin – Silence! How dare you.
Andrei (defiantly) – Why should we pay for your dreams of power?
Putin – I said silence!

And with a sudden swing of his arm he swats the medal off Andrei’s hand, the medal tumbling to the floor and bouncing off before coming to rest near a wall.

The two aides quickly step front and placing themselves on both sides of Andrei, pull him back by his shoulders.

Aide – We should remove this man, Mr President.
Putin (controlling himself) – Wait.
(to Andrei, calmly) I should send you to prison for your disrespect… but I won’t. Instead, you will be discharged from the Army.

Andrei shrugs with an air of insouciance.

Putin – … but you shall not speak of your ideas to anyone… understood?

Andrei stares back.

Putin signals for the aides to remove Andrei.
They pick him up by his shoulders, escort him out, wait a few moments for a vehicle, sit in the back seat flanking him and drive off.
Moments later, near a corner in central Moscow, the car stops, one aide gets out and Andrei exits after him.
Not a word is exchanged between them.
Andrei walks off and disappears into the crowd of pedestrians.
The time is 11 am.
The snow is still falling.

He hasn’t been heard of since.
His family put in a complaint with the authorities.
Some say he crossed the border with Estonia and then joined Ukrainians in their fight.
Some say he emigrated to America. Others say he was seen in London.
No one is certain.
But wherever he is, his proud and defiant spirit lives on.

Miles Davis. What he Teaches

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Saw a wonderful documentary on Miles Davis, the star African American artist, on Netflix.
The blend of archival footage with interviews of relevant people in his life includes clips of the musician himself describing what he was going through at the time.
As a child his parents wanted him to learn to play an instrument. Mother suggested the violin, father insisted on the trumpet. And that was the start of a long creative period that helped define an era in jazz music. The birth of the cool, some called it.
His talent showed early and kept growing.
Right after high school he left East St Louis where he had grown up and travelled to New York to play with stars like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in clubs along a strip on 52nd street.
He went to Europe and captivated audiences with his sound. He loved Paris. But he always returned to New York.
Music was everything to him, he said. ‘I woke up with it and went to bed with it’.
That’s what dominated his life, what guided him and pushed him relentlessly to do the best he could. And the audiences loved him.
Then drugs started showing up.
When he surrendered to them, he would go into dark periods where he turned paranoid and abusive with the women he loved. They put up with it for a while but then left.
The talent, though, never left him.
The dark periods sometimes lasted for months, sometimes for years. But he kept coming back until the end. He died of a stroke at a hospital in Santa Monica, CA. in 1991 at age 65, in the company of a professional painter with whom he had begun to collaborate. Yes, he did that, too.
Seeing the film I felt the power of his talent, the relentless search for innovative sounds. And I wondered, how come a man with such gifts surrenders to a drug?
Why is the acclaim, the widespread celebration of his abilities, not protective in itself?
Perhaps, I offer, the artist had not cultivated his self knowledge.
And just what does that mean?
It means acquiring the ability to self govern, the ability to put up with the pain of our limitations as human beings. We all have them, regardless of how enormous our talents may be.
Emotional pain visits us all. It does not spare anyone. But learn to square with it, learn to look it in the face, and we will acknowledge our inevitable limitations as individuals.
Processing that pain is crucial for our emotional growth so that slowly, over time, we can say, ‘I’m learning to know who I am. To know where I am strong and where I am vulnerable.’
We thoroughly enjoy our natural highs. The feeling of elation that comes from succeeding at a task or from being with friends. The profound satisfaction to be found with a lover.
Drugs attempt to bypass the work that goes into achieving and enjoying such natural highs.
Talent alone will not give us the protection we need against the pain of living.
But sharing the pain will.
I have no idea of the depth of pain Miles Davis felt throughout his life, but to isolate and invite drugs to our solo parties, is to ask death to join in.
To learn to self govern we must share our pain first. Share our pain second. Share our pain often. And we’ll be ready to put up with it when there’s no one around to share it with.

Voted

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Voted earlier this morning. There was a light drizzle out that faded after a while.
Well organized event. Amazing technology and it keeps improving. The volunteers were courteous and helpful. I enjoy voting in person.
The smooth end result takes a lot of work from a lot of people. People committed to the democratic process. I am deeply grateful to the staff and made a point of congratulating them.
Attention turns now to what the results will be.
My hope is that the democratic side wins and retains control of both houses.
Do I think Republicans can do a better job than Democrats? Not at all.
I can’t think of one thing where Republicans – in their present state – can do better than Democrats.
I say in their present state because the Republican party has been deeply impaired by Mr Trump and his followers.
Mr Trump incited a riot on January 6th 2021, because he wanted to manipulate the electoral vote to favor him.
He was prevented from doing so but, to this day, aside from the courageous Liz Cheney and a few others, there has not been a sizeable protest from other Republicans stating ‘Mr Trump attempted to subvert democracy by force. He is not qualified to hold office.’ Something of the kind stating the facts.
The majority of Republicans have been silent.
Just because of that they don’t deserve a turn at governing this nation. Not until they clean up their act and apologize to America.
But there are few signs of that happening.
In the state of Georgia, a former football player is running neck and neck against a seasoned and committed defender of the rights of citizens. Unbelievable.
The football player has no history of political involvement. He is in the race because Trump thought his name would attract voters. And, of course, the gentleman would do exactly as Trump wants him to do. Every time.
Recently, Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, was nearly killed by a man who broke into their home looking for his wife with the intent of knocking out her kneecaps. She was not in.
Has there been a wave of outrage at such an action by Republicans? No.
Did Mr Trump publicly speak out condemning it? Not either. He thought it was fake.
And yet he is still a prominent leader of the party and is expected to announce his candidacy to again become president in 2024.
Unbelievable. There is a wave of gullibility going through the Republican party and they can’t stop it. The enlightened wing of their party has chosen to not put up a fight.
That’s not cool at all.
There is nothing or no one in the present Republican party that offers any worthwhile ideas for governing our country. Their submission to Trump is pathetic.
God Bless America.

We earn our freedom every day.

Biden and Xi Jinping Talk

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Joe Biden finds time to put in a talk with Xi, just ahead of the mid terms.
The call happens through a confidential Zoom link.
Both men appear on the screen simultaneously.
High level assistants are in the room on either side but are not seen on screen.
Biden makes the call on Sunday at 8 pm Washington DC time – 9 am Beijing time on Monday.

Biden – Good morning.
Xi – Good evening to you.
Biden – Thank you.
Xi – I wish you well in the elections on Tuesday.
Biden – Thank you so much.
Xi – How do you think it’s going to turn out?
Biden – It’s going to be close. Very close. Closer than the polls estimate. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to our in person meeting.
So, Xi, you are now president for another 5 years.
Xi – What do you think about that?
Biden – I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Xi – Why not?
Biden – Leadership, like anything else, needs to be freshened up. You’ve done 10 years, like Hu Jintao did before you, now let someone else become president.
Xi – China is going through a difficult period and it’s best the nation have a seasoned leader.
Biden – There will always be one crisis or another, so that’s not a good excuse.
Xi – You’re trying to undermine our economy by not selling us the microchips we need…
Biden – We have to. Otherwise you’ll be wanting to take over the world.
Xi – We have no such ambitions. You’re misinformed.
Biden – You can deny it but that’s what we’re seeing. So, for us it’s simple. You want to be king of the world, go ahead, but don’t do it with our chips. Make your own.
Xi – We will.
Biden – You have 1.4 billion people, while we have less than a quarter of that. And as you’ve shown everyone watching, you can make stuff. Your people are very capable. So, make the chips you need.
Xi – It will take us time but we will.
Biden – Our two nations are locked in competition, such that we have never seen. And it could be that you and your country will end up beating us. It could be that you will make the chips you need and they may even be better than the ones we make. And it could be, also, that you will be able to make better ships and better planes and better submarines and better weapons than we do. If so, then, you will be able to convince the world that your technology is more effective and faster than ours.
Other nations will go to you for equipment and knowledge and advice, instead of us.
It could happen.
Xi – Will you want to start a war, then?
Biden – No. Let me assure you, that we will never harm you because you have become better than us.
Xi – Thank you.
Biden – What you pose to us is a great challenge. Can we keep producing and inventing at such pace that we will keep an advantage over you? I think we can and that we will.
It will depend on all of us, here in America and the West, to match and surpass your creative capacities.
To do that we will have to overcome our polarization and work better together.
Xi – You’ll never do it. Which is why I think you’re in decadence. How come nearly half of your voters elected Donald Trump? Then he doesn’t want to accept the election results and worse, he may run again.
Biden – It is a risk in our political system, that people with autocratic instincts will gain power. But they will not last. And I will tell you now, that Donald Trump will not be reelected president of this country.
Xi – You can’t be sure.
Biden – I am. One hundred percent sure. Mark my words. I can say that because I have great confidence in the good judgment of the majority of Americans. We have people who are troubled, confused and resentful, but we will learn to work with them and help them overcome their difficulties, so we can become a more united and effective nation.
Most in our nation have faith that our political system is the best there is. We offer liberty and immigrants from all over the world want to join us.
Let me ask you, are people from all over the world wanting to immigrate to China?
Xi – We won’t let them. There’s enough of us already. Although, we invite talented people to come and contribute to the building of our powers. Those can stay.
Biden – Our openness to the world has made us very rich. We will remain open because it is in our best interest.
Xi – You cannot control your borders. What happens in your borders would never happen in ours.
Biden – You would do what you did in Hong Kong and with the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province?
Xi – Again, you are misinformed. We have been hard on those peoples because we wish to correct them, but it is for their own good.
Biden – We would never resort to the violence you’ve used controlling those populations.
You get away with it because you do not allow the fundamental freedoms of a democracy, just like Putin.
Xi – You and NATO, have come too close to Russia, so Putin had little choice but to invade Ukraine. However, we do think it’s time that negotiations be started to reduce the loss of life. For you to continue to support Ukraine in a battle that they cannot win is a crime against humanity.
Biden – Hmm. Interesting how you change things around. NATO and America are the bad guys. Never mind the willingness of Ukrainians to die in defense of their land.
Tell me something, if Putin chose to fire nuclear weapons, what position would you take?
Xi – We are against it. I don’t agree with you or NATO, but nuclear weapons should not be used because of the risk of escalation.
We have worked very hard to build what we have and we’re confident one day we will be the number one nation in the world. Then, we will allow freedom of speech and cut back on the surveillance of our citizens.
To preserve our gains, my government is working with some people close to Putin, to make sure that no nuclear weapons will be used.
Biden – Does Putin know about it?
Xi – I don’t think so.
Understand that we are doing this not to spare you any trouble but to spare ourselves a calamity. That in your desperation, if you are hit by a nuclear weapon, you will send missiles our way.
Biden – I won’t say who we will hit and who we won’t, but defend ourselves and the West, we will.
If, indeed, you are trying to prevent a nuclear war, thank you very much.
I don’t want to keep you longer, and I appreciate very much your time.
Our nations are tied in a fierce competition for supremacy.
We, and the West, see it as a challenge for us to become a better people, while respecting our fundamental freedoms and that of others.
Our systems are different. We think ours is better. May the world benefit from our competition.
Good day.
Xi – Good night.

Why Support Ukraine. Inflation or Not

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We’re nearing nine months since Putin invaded Ukraine, expecting a quick surrender because his majesty Vladimir was so bold and visionary and oh so talented that the West could not hope to match him. There was no way that the West could ever stand against the enraged Russian bear.
And, of course, Putin had the large store of nuclear weapons, and if anyone dared to stand against him, he’d get them ready to fire and the West would pee in their pants, kneel and plead for forgiveness.
Instead, the big bad bear is retreating.
The West stood up, looked at his majesty Vladimir in the eye and said, ‘excuse me, no, you’re not getting away with it. Ukrainians want to fight and we don’t turn our backs on men and women willing to fight. Got it?’
His majesty Vladimir is still processing that reply.
To his credit, he’s been able to resist. He hasn’t buckled. Not yet.
But it’s been costly for him. He knows he’s crossed the line and will never recover from the atrocities he’s committed.
That’s not to say he won’t be embraced by some, say China’s Xi Jinping. Xi’s atrocities are not yet of the scale of Putin’s, but he will catch up. Give him some time. His murderous repression in Hong Kong and his vast mistreatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province are just the beginning.
Putin knows he screwed up but still has hope.
His bet is that the West will get tired of the war.
He knows the West has to contend with citizens who are opposed to it and have a right to be heard.
Putin doesn’t have that problem. What he says is law, the majority of Russians having been intimidated into submission long ago. Some don’t even know they were, that’s how sad that picture is.
Putin’s hope is that people in the West will increase their complaints about inflation and shortages and their discomfort, then put pressure on their leaders to tell Ukrainians, ‘We’ve done enough. Take care of yourselves.’
Sadly, it could happen.
Protests in some NATO countries in Eastern Europe have been growing.
Macron, in France, facing the same pressures, has told his people of the need to sacrifice for the sake of liberty.
Every leader in the West should be doing the same thing. Putting the matter up front. Educating the voters. Reminding them of how unique this opportunity is to push back Russia and start a new alignment of powers in the world.
Even if some NATO members choose to back off in their support of Ukraine’s heroic fight, we should not.
Too much is at stake.
The winds of freedom from the valor displayed by Ukraine are blowing into the Middle East. Because of it there is now the chance of regime change in Iran.
And yet, here at home, there is talk in the Republican ranks of cutting back on support for the war, should they win control of congress in next week’s election.
It would be a serious mistake.
It is urgent that our voters be educated on the enormity of what’s in play.
A defeated Russia in Ukraine would have vast repercussions across the area and eventually on China.
Ukraine’s heroism has opened a door we didn’t know existed.
With an abundance of guts and sacrifice, they had the imagination to wish to reinvent themselves.
Stepping up they reached through the darkness and pain of the invasion of their land and grasping the door of freedom threw it open.
And the winds of freedom blew in.
All their pain made sense. All their sacrifices found meaning.
Ukrainians thought they were fighting for their beloved land.
They found, instead, they were fighting for the world.
America, we cannot close that door.

Formula to Wreck a Democracy

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One – Excite the anger of your followers. The cause of all evils is on the other side.
Two – Explain the world to them but keep it short and simple.
The Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania has it down pat. He was quoted as saying to his rapt audience, ‘We are the seed of the nation. The holy experiment.’
The rest of us must be second class.
He also joined the chorus of believers that the 2020 election was stolen.
Trump, though, is the master. He didn’t bother denouncing the recent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, instead went right to questioning the police investigation’s report. According to Trump, someone was trying to get out of the Pelosi home, not break in. Really?
Three – Intimidate. Stoke fears. Go for it.
Again, Trump when he incited the riot on Capitol Hill on January 6th 2021 and is getting away with it.
In New York, the Republican candidate for governor is doing everything possible to remind dwellers how unsafe the city is. He will save New Yorkers. Meanwhile, The Economist, October 29th – November 4th/2022 edition, reports that murders in New York are down by 14% compared to last year. Big cities are problematic. Everywhere. But if you can simplify it then you’re ahead.
Will our democracy survive our ‘leaders’?
The flaws of Mr Trump are so glaring that you wonder how come he’s still viable as a candidate.
What has happened to mainstream America?
I’m optimistic that the idea of dialogue with the other side is still seen as the essence of our political system. But I’m getting worried.
The quality of our candidates for office seems to be getting worse. Intolerance is rising. Plain lying is rampant.
What has gone wrong?
I am with the view that the ease that technology has allowed us is part of the problem.
Through technology we have access to an immense amount of information that is often misused while giving us a sense of self sufficiency that is false and dangerous. So we are more likely to overvalue ourselves while devaluing others.
I am glad we have so much technology and with more on the way, but it is critical we identify how it can impoverish our humanity.
If technology makes us more prone to isolate and be less empathic, we will be losers.
As it is we’re inclined to not be self critical.
Human contact is fundamental to the development of our character and ideas.
I am very glad we now have Zoom and Teams and Slack and the other variants making our connections easier, but there is something unique about live human contact. The touch of the skin, the look of the eyes, the infinite variety of facial and bodily expressions.
Bypassing these unique features of our existence end up diminishing us, and so, too, our thoughts, our ability to forgive and display compassion.
The world will continue to grow more technical. But if the human touch is bypassed, we will end up destroying ourselves.
The difficulties inherent in human contact is what makes it so rich. The more varied our interactions, the better.

Russians, Fight! Fight Putin!

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Do not let him silence your voices.
He is no leader.
Leaders are people who help us become better than who we are. Not worse.
You need to join the world, not turn your back on it.
Ukraine was never a threat to you or your country.
Ukrainians want to become free to choose their destiny, not join in Putin’s plans.
He is an envious man.
He has not been able to develop your potential as a people and looks around and sees other nations moving past Russia. But he doesn’t know what to do. So his envy is turned to murderous rage. In your name.
With your talents and resources you could become one of the top nations in the world.
Instead, you have chosen to build nuclear weapons. You have chosen to enlarge your destructive powers rather than your creative ones. So you hide behind such weapons.
That is your failure as a nation. But you can recover.
Right now, in one of your prisons, sits Alexei Navalny, one of your bravest men.
Navalny chose to openly challenge Putin. Because of it he was poisoned and nearly killed.
He will never be released unless Russians speak up.
You cannot win the war with Ukraine. The West won’t let you.
It does not matter how many nuclear weapons you have because you can’t fire them. If you do, then you will burn also.
Nuclear weapons are useful to scare people. But then you can’t use them.
You can’t use them because other nations have the same weapons.
If Putin fired a nuclear weapon toward the West and one of our cities burned, then your cities would burn, too. Beautiful Moscow and St Petersburg would be gone.
The madness of nuclear weapons is that they can only scare people and that’s it.
No more.
Think about it. All that effort and that’s all you get for it.
There was one leader, a real leader, a Russian leader, who once proposed to Reagan, then the American president, to ban all nuclear weapons. Imagine that. The vision. That leader wanted to free the world of fear. I wish Reagan would have had the imagination your leader had. That leader was Mikhail Gorbachev. That flash of brilliance came from a Russian. There is more of that in you. So step up and use that light you have to brighten the darkness in our world.
Today, many countries are torn by war and repression, kept from fulfilling their potential by small minded men like Putin.
We need you to emerge so other countries will emerge. And maybe the Chinese, seeing your example, will rise against the oppressive communist party that now deprives them of their freedom.
Rise Russia, rise! Putin is holding you back.
Rise and the world will rise with you.
The price you pay will be well worth it.
And we will all be grateful.

The Attack on Nancy Pelosi’s Husband

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There were many expressions of outrage at the attack, the assailant using a hammer that Mr Pelosi, 82, was able to fend off until he was overwhelmed by the younger man and suffered serious injuries from the blows, including a skull fracture. Mr Pelosi was very clever when, upon encountering the intruder who was searching for his wife, Nancy, said he needed to go to the bathroom where his phone was charging. From there he called 911.
If the police had not been so prompt in responding, Mr Pelosi would probably have been killed. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, was not at home. Otherwise, she would have been dead.
Some of the condemnations of the attack called for a ‘lowering of the temperature’ in our heated political exchanges.
I am in full agreement but would like to suggest a more urgent language be used. Managing our emotions.
So who should ask us to do this and keep it on the forefront of our psyches?
Those with access to the media.
Since the goal is to rein in uncontrolled rage at political figures, it falls to our leaders of Right and Left to take the initiative.
Every speech by a political leader should now be calling for restraint in expressing our political views. But they won’t. They figure that keeping the emotions raw will be to their advantage.
Sadly, these ‘leaders’ probably can’t manage their own emotions.
It’s not easy to learn how to do it. It calls for a strong dose of self awareness which comes from introspection and compassion.
Lamentably, today, you don’t need these attributes to rise politically. Some of our current leaders have become prominent precisely because they stir lots of rage in their followers. They perceive, accurately, that rage gives some people a sense of competence they may never have had. That sense of competence can’t last because it’s not rooted on substance but the point is to get it to last long enough to get them to the ballot box.
Never mind the ones that get unhinged by the rage, like the assailant of Mr Pelosi.
For a moment, holding that hammer, gave the man a sense that he was worth something.
Holding the hammer and striking the blows took him to a higher level or so he thought. He was doing something for his life. Finally. And he would be a hero to all those who might have felt like doing the same but were aware enough to curb their emotions.
It is not too much to ask from our present political leaders to call for restraint in their followers and do so at every turn.
But the money is not there. The money is in stirring up discontent to get more followers.
The money is in giving them the illusion that they are stronger because they scream louder, indulging their hatred rather than examining it.
As a nation we won’t go far if we keep this up, which is a grave concern because the world is changing at a rapid pace and this is a time to be very sober and smart about our choices.
In the war now raging in Ukraine, Putin keeps massacring people. He, too, is a man with little depth as a human being but clever enough to know how to manipulate others.
Beware of being manipulated. Beware who stirs your rage.
By the way, has Trump condemned the attack on Pelosi? If not, why not?

Biden Talks with Kim Jong Un

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Early in the morning, on a Tuesday, North Korea time, president Joe Biden puts in a call to the ruler of that country. The call is made through a top secret video link that had been cleared days before by people on both sides. The stated topic is nuclear weapons.

Biden – Good morning to you.
Kim – Good afternoon to you.
Biden – Thank you. Kim… you keep firing the missiles… and I’m worried that you might make a mistake.
Kim – I won’t.
Biden – Mistakes can happen to the best of us. We understand you want to be acknowledged… and believe me, we do. We have no intention of harming you or your country in any manner.
Kim – Then lift the sanctions.
Biden – I’m getting there. Kim, it costs a lot of money and effort to build those weapons… money that can go to more productive uses. Let’s discuss the war in Ukraine for a moment. Your friend Putin has talked about firing his missiles at us… but he won’t. You know why?
Kim – You will fire back.
Biden – Exactly. If a city in the West burns, then Moscow and St Petersburg will burn… but Beijing and Shanghai will burn, too. People in Moscow, with their skin falling off because of radioactivity, will go hunting for the man responsible for such atrocity. ‘Where is Putin?’ the angry people will say. And they will find him. I don’t have to tell you what will happen to him when they do.
Kim – You think the same will happen to me?
Biden – Worse. If you hit us, China won’t risk their country to defend you. They have bigger plans.
Kim – Why would the West hit China if Putin hits you with a missile?
Biden – Because they are Putin’s accomplice, and if we let them stand they will continue his war to dominate the world.
Kim – You are wrong, China wants every nation to be free.
Biden – If you want to believe that, good luck. Let me ask you, do you think your people are free?
Kim – Yes.
Biden – Can they say anything they want?
Kim – They understand they must sacrifice… for our glorious future.
Biden – How long, Kim?
Kim – I don’t know.
Biden – Got you. I’ll get to the point. Our present strategy with you is not working. You keep building more weapons and like I said before, I really think you will make a mistake. So here’s my proposal. We would have to work with the United Nations to have it approved but here is what I have in mind.
Kim – I’m listening.
Biden – We would lift all economic sanctions on you… so you could trade with any nation in the world… so long as you abide by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). That way businesses from anywhere could go into your country and employ your people, create goods and services, train your workers, relieve hunger and slowly begin the process of lifting your GDP.
Kim – I will not stop building nuclear weapons.
Biden – We wouldn’t ask you to stop.
Kim – No?
Biden – What we would ask you is not to sell your expertise in nuclear weapons to anyone.
Kim – Hmm. But France does it?
Biden – Yes but they are a mature and responsible nation. Kim, you have to prove yourself first. We can’t have you – in your desperation – selling nuclear expertise to anyone you want.
With this offer, you would have the chance of developing your nation. Technologically, industrially, scientifically. And you and your people will benefit.
Now, we know that you will be tempted to cheat, let companies into your country and then, secretly, try to sell your nuclear expertise to others. But we would have to insist with the companies willing to go into North Korea, that if you violate the agreement, they will have to stop doing business with you immediately.
So you must decide. Again, the United Nations would have to approve this.
I think your people would be very grateful if you agree to this idea.
Kim – I’ll have to think about it.
Biden – Of course. Think of what the West did for China when we went in with all our companies. China, on its own, would not be where they are now without the West. Sadly, they’re now choosing to deny our contributions to their development and think they have all the answers.
Eventually, your political system will have to change to take maximum advantage of what the rest of the world has to offer, but that will take many years, more than your present life expectancy… so you will die while still in power.
Kim – I’ll have to think about it.
Biden – Take your time. One final note. Ukraine will win the war against Russia. The winds of freedom are blowing and they have reached Iran. I predict that the mullahs will fall and a woman will emerge as leader of that country. And they will be pro western.
That will stop Iran’s interference in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and create conditions for more positive political changes throughout the Middle East.
Kim – I predict the mullahs will repress that protest movement.
Biden – Time will tell. So that’s all I have for you today. Hope you consider the proposal.
Kim – I will.
Biden – Oh, almost forgot. I was thinking of sending you a present…
Kim – What?
Biden – A pair of my favorite aviator glasses.

Kim laughs.

Kim – I won’t be able to use them when I meet with Putin or Xi but send them anyway. I’ll use them when I go fishing.
Biden – Okay. Have a good day.
Kim – Good night.

The Cost of Carrying Guns

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Consider these two examples.
About a year ago or so in Florida, a man riding a motorcycle was tapped by a moving vehicle at an intersection.
By his own admission, neither he nor his bike were damaged. But the other vehicle, driven by a woman, didn’t stop and left the scene instead.
The man in the bike followed. Another person, who had witnessed the accident, followed, too.
The woman arrived at her home, aware that the man in the bike had trailed her. She went inside, took out her gun, stepped out and pointed it at him.
The man drew his own and shot her dead.
No charges were pressed.
What stands out in this incident?
The woman should have stopped, yes, apologized and taken responsibility.
The man who chose to follow needed only to get her license plate and report it to the police. He already had a witness. But he didn’t. He chose to seek justice on his own.
Now consider this second example.
A few days ago, in Houston, a man and his wife were robbed at an ATM. As the robber fled, the man shot at him but missed. Instead, he struck and killed a 9 year old girl sitting in a passing car.
A grand jury chose to not indict the man.
So who takes responsibility for the death of the 9 year old? No one.
In both instances, the responses of the shooters show poor judgment and a profound disregard for our institutions.
The number of states which allow its residents to carry guns without a license is steadily increasing. But it does not make any sense.
What is being neglected in the two examples described above?
The level of emotional continence in the men who fired the guns. Neither had enough emotional strength to see the potential consequences of their actions.
The law let them get away with it but their behaviors are clear examples of what we’re not doing as a society.
To not require a license to carry a weapon that can kill another person is to assume that the carrier is of sound judgment. Otherwise, why would it be allowed? So why are we not measuring that?
This is our failure as a society.
We have let Second Amendment defenders carry the day without regard for the character that should stand behind it.
In the name of freedom we are failing to protect our citizens.
In the year 1789, March 4th, in the city of New York, the second amendment was put forward as part of the bill of rights. It read, ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’
That was 233 years ago, nearly a quarter of a millennium.
At the time it was justified as the nation was being formed and its institutions developed. But today the second amendment is outdated.
It has become an obstacle to our political maturation and public safety.
Why didn’t the man in the first example call the police so they, instead, would track the woman? He had all the identifying information.
Why didn’t the man in the second example, think of the consequences of an errant shot?
Now an innocent 9 year old is dead because of his poor judgment.
Neither shooter was doing anything for the ‘security of a free State’ as the second amendment reads. But the law allowed it.
Both men were indulging their lack of emotional control and poor judgment.
In Texas, there is now a motion being proposed to allow the lowering of the age for lawful possession of a firearm without a license to 18 years.
No mention is made of assessing the emotional maturity of the gun bearer.
The second amendment to the constitution is impeding our democratic progress.
In the face of growing global threats, i.e. China, it is imperative that we accelerate our civic maturation, to go hand in hand with our technological, scientific and industrial advancement.
Evidence that we are not making enough civic progress is the extreme polarization we are stuck with at this time.
What is needed now is to foster dialogue between our citizens and facilitate emotional growth. Not unrestricted gun ownership.
The second amendment is impeding our personal safety and our evolution as a nation.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com