The Miracle and Tragedy of Ukraine

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They keep doing it, day after day. Defending their land, their right to choose their destiny.
It puts Russians and their supporters to shame. How dare you wish to oppress a land that’s been independent from Russia since 1991.
In their fierceness, Ukrainians remind us all not to give up. To keep trying to achieve whatever it is that we desire.
As they defy death for the sake of their freedom, they remind us to not surrender our dreams. To not give in to mediocrity but to strive relentlessly for the best we can do.
Haven’t accomplished what you want in life?
Look to Ukraine and keep trying, so long as there is breath in you.
Ukrainians have made a deal with destiny. We will get there. No matter what. ‘Death will not stop us,’ they cry out loudly and boldly.
And the world is richer for it.
Day after day the monster that Putin is – with the consent of hypnotized Russians – keeps trying to extinguish the rising Ukrainian star, and day after day the Ukrainian star shines brighter.
Shame and shame again, on all those defenders of Putin, who meekly say ‘Oh, well, Putin was feeling uncomfortable with NATO being so close to him. He needed a little distance. He needed to kill tens of thousands of Ukrainians so he could sleep better.’
Shame and shame again on China’s dictatorship, repellent oppressors of their own people, for their support of Putin.
Shame and shame again on all the countries who don’t want to take a position.
‘Oh, we just want to be neutral.’
In the face of Putin’s daily firing of missiles into Ukraine – his ceaseless massacres – where is it that people go in their soul to hide from that reality?
Where is the fire in Russians’ bellies?
What has happened to the proud and courageous Russians who turned back Hitler?
Did their descendants not inherit the will to rise up against the mockery of a man that Putin is?
In their silence Russians are writing history and a sad chapter it is.
What does a parent tell his child when he/she puts them to bed in their Moscow home and the child asks, ‘Why are we killing Ukrainians?’
‘We… well… Ukrainians are not doing what Putin wants.’
‘If we don’t do what he wants, he kills us?’
‘No… it’s different for us…’
‘We… we’ve learned to keep quiet.’
‘But that’s not what you tell me to do when another child bullies me at school,’ says the child.
‘I know… but Putin is different… he’s…’
‘A really big bully?’
‘More than that.’
‘Like what?’
‘We… all of us Russians… except for some very courageous people willing to complain… we let him become what he is now.’
‘I don’t like that,’ says the child.
‘I don’t either.’
‘Will you do something about it?’
‘I promise I will think about it… come up with something. I promise. Now go to sleep. You have to get up early for school.’
‘Do children in Ukraine get to go to school?’ asks the child.
‘I’m not sure. I think that with the war… in some parts of the country… they have to stay at home.’
‘So the bombs won’t kill them?”
‘Yes. So the bombs won’t kill them.’
‘Can you sing me something happy?’
‘Of course.’
And the parent does.
How many Ukrainian children won’t ever hear their parents sing them a song?

On China. We Have Our Differences

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Take the Covid 19 pandemic. We know it started in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, but their leadership chose not to quickly contact the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead they suppressed reports by their own doctors, the first one reporting dying from the disease.
Time was critical but wasted because of China’s secrecy. If there had been openness from the start, a better organized response by all nations would have been possible. It would have led to vastly fewer deaths.
China has also rejected importing western vaccines based on MRNA technology and considered of better quality than the ones they’ve produced.
Their pride gets in the way of their own good.
Their insistence on self reliance has had significant economic consequences as well.
Their policy of strict quarantines in the management of Covid 19 has affected mobility and negatively impacted commerce, leading investors to begin to pull out of the country.
And yet the People’s Republic of China has set the pursuit of self reliance as their national goal. In other words, the Chinese believe they won’t need anyone.
Or are they just very angry at everyone?
‘Why are we not number one yet?’
‘Why did Trump put tariffs on our products?’
Well, because your cheaper products were contributing to unemployment in the US and America had not learned to deal effectively with the problem. Time was needed in the adjustment to globalization.
‘Why aren’t you (the West) not letting Huawei, our state supported electronics company, upgrade your communications infrastructure?’
Because we don’t trust that you won’t use those systems to spy on us.
You already have a history of forced technology transfers from western companies doing business in your land and a history of extensive cyberwarfare to steal secrets from us.
So why should we think it will be any different with Huawei?
You have a long history of censorship of your people, severely restricting freedom of speech and closely monitoring their activities.
Your communist party obviously doesn’t like having any competition.
We, on the other hand, believe competition is central to our wellbeing.
So, no, you can’t have Taiwan. No, because they are a free people and it’s taking them a lot of work to get there. They deserve what they’ve worked for. They don’t deserve falling under the regimentation of your party.
And yet, the West is impressed with all that China has accomplished. You keep building ships and trains and electric cars and sent a satellite to look at the dark side of the moon.
Very good.
But your people are not free.
That’s a huge difference for us.
You’re a strong supporter of Putin and his war against Ukrainians. That’s a lot of killing that Putin has done. And you support the tyrants in Myanmar, also. In other words, where there is a dictator oppressing people, you’re right there to offer assistance.
As things stand, then, you have a long way to becoming number one.
Mind you, because you are a smart people you may surprise us all. Time will tell.
We in the West have a lot of problems, too. Difficulty in communication being one of them. So we need to work hard also.
Right now we’re going through a specially difficult phase. While we talk a lot we haven’t been doing enough listening.
One of our presidents tried to overturn the results of a free election and now he’s announced he will run again. Unbelievable.
To our credit, however, America did not choose him in 2020.
In China, your citizens can’t say, ‘we’ve had ten years of Xi Jinping, we need to look at someone else’. You can’t do that. The party makes sure the Chinese people keep their mouths shut.
In China, they don’t even get the full story of the forced labor camps for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. Or the brutal repression of the Hong Kong dissenters. And I’m sure they’re not getting the full picture of all the atrocities Putin is committing in Ukraine.
Why, then, should you be number one in the world?
But we’ll keep listening.
I promise, we’ll listen to all your complaints about our mistakes and your belief that we’re in the midst of inevitable decadence.
But we differ here, too. We’re of the view that national growth requires a lot of effort and yet the outcome is hard to predict. Sometimes things move positively, sometimes negatively. But so long as the trend is upward we’re okay. A bit like the stock market. We just have to keep betting on our people.
Also, many of us believe that no matter our present differences, we should not keep your students from coming to America’s schools, should they want to, even if they go back and decide to join the communist party.
Why? Because it just could be, that something about freedom will stay with them, and who knows, that might end up helping China mature and the world become a better place.
So let’s keep talking. Talk is good. Listening, is even better.
In the end, people everywhere, want to be free.
Not ruled by a repressive regime.
The winds of freedom from Ukraine have reached Iran.
That’s not too far from where you are.

Do Not Negotiate with Putin

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With the start of winter and Russia’s retreat from Kherson – a city northwest of Crimea – a top American general has talked about negotiating with the Russian despot. There may be others similarly minded.
But so long as there is the exceptional vigor that Ukrainians possess, the West should back them up fully and so continue to push Putin to behind his borders.
Ukrainians are writing their history in blood for the whole world to see. As they do they clamor for continued support.
Putin is counting on the solidarity of the West fracturing but that is not happening.
I am sure he is profoundly disappointed that democrats in America have retained control of the Senate in the recent elections, and that even if Republicans gain control of the House, the margin of difference will be very small.
Putin was banking on Trump to lend him a hand with his grandiose ambitions. And he still kicks himself for not having invaded Ukraine while Trump was president. Back then, he could have placed a call to Trump a week before and said, ‘I’m thinking of taking over Ukraine, just to feel more comfortable about NATO’s encroachment, and give Russians something to cheer about. What do you think?’ And Trump would have answered, ‘Do it quickly, overnight if possible. We go to bed the night before with Ukraine being independent, we wake up with you announcing it is now part of Russia. So do it fast. How’s the family?’
Meanwhile, solidarity in the West keeps building.
At the start of the war Macron in France talked about the ‘Finlandization’ of Ukraine. During the Cold War, the term referred to the Soviet Union ‘respecting’ the territorial integrity of Finland but retaining influence in that nation’s political affairs.
That didn’t fly so Macron then switched to speaking about not humiliating Putin. Never mind the atrocities the Russian was committing and still is. But when that didn’t click, either, Macron finally got it and took a strong position against Putin, asking the French to think of their support for Ukraine’s resistance as a sacrifice for the sake of freedom.
Macron’s evolution may reflect the change in other political leaders in the West.
In Germany, Olaf Scholz is still handcuffed by his timidity but appears to be evolving.
A weakened Russia allows for the resurgence of protest movement in Belarus, in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the hope that they’ll be installing democratic regimes instead.
And the new power alignments may well lead to better fending off China’s ambitions of world domination.
None of these possibilities would have arisen if not for the enormous courage of the Ukrainian people.
Even Iran is feeling its effect, with their women led protests shaking the foundations of that corrupt theocracy, which is now selling drones to Russia so they can kill more Ukrainians.
Ukraine’s heroic effort shows they are determined to not submit to Russia.
They deserve our full support.
Ukraine and the West can win this war.
We should not hesitate to make whatever sacrifices are needed.
The winds of freedom are blowing.
They are blowing from Ukraine.

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.

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.

China and Reeducation

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They are very clear about it.
‘The Communist Party knows what is good for you. So you have to do as we say.
If you don’t, then there will be consequences.’
One such consequence is being reeducated. You are taught the right way to think.
‘Party people have tried very hard to do the thinking for you, so you should be grateful to be the recipient of such wisdom.’
Xi Jinping has even put his ‘elevated thoughts’ into a booklet, ‘Xi Jinping Thought’, just like Mao Ze Dong did before him with the little Red Book.
Is there a cost to trying to do your own thinking?
Just ask the Hong Kong dissenters who are now in prison or exile, after the celestial powers of Xi Jinping came down hard and crushed them in 2019.
China is asking the world to respect their way of doing things, because that is best for their people. Never mind asking the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province how they feel about it. They, too, like Hong Kongers, have felt the mighty Chinese fist.
China is presently holding their 20th National Congress, where Xi Jinping is expected to be reelected to a third 5 year term as president. Speculation has it that he’ll ask for a fourth term at the next congress in 2027. And on and on.
China has studied carefully the downfall of the Soviet Union, to ensure they don’t make the same ‘mistakes.’ Mistakes being anything that erodes the party’s integrity and clout.
As far as they’re concerned, Gorbachev was an idiot and weakling and his policies of Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (opening) exactly what to avoid to prevent the erosion of their power.
But Gorbachev was no idiot. Instead he opened the way to free many countries that had languished under the tight controls of the Soviets. Sadly, the reforms he made possible didn’t last in Russia itself. He transferred power to Boris Yeltsin in 1991 and then Yeltsin chose Putin as premier in 1999. That was the big mistake.
Had Yeltsin been a better judge of character, Russia would not have been saddled with the profound limitations of Putin.
With the enormity of the atrocities committed by him, the likelihood is that the post Putin era will be one of greater openness. The very opposite of what China would like.
Which may create tensions between them. Let’s hope so.
People in power in China have persuaded their citizenry that deferring to a one party system is the answer. They have been told to sacrifice their freedom to accomplish their goals of world domination. The Chinese population is under close surveillance and lacks freedom of speech.
They have made enormous material progress in the last 40 years, in large part due to their opening to the West which brought in ideas and technological knowhow.
That in turn stimulated China’s own creativity.
But the mistake they make is to think that freedom can be sacrificed.
Even in open and democratic societies, not all people choose freedom. But those who do are the ones who keep the forward thrust of nations alive.
Human beings can sacrifice freedom temporarily to attain certain goals, but it should not be for long. Being distant form it ends up diminishing us.
China is going through a prosperous period at present. But it won’t last.
As the pace of prosperity begins to diminish, the communist party and its army of non thinkers will rage against its perceived enemies which will lead to disastrous actions.
Cruelty of the same dimension as what we’ve seen in Ukraine, lies in the future of China.
We’ve seen it with Uyghurs and Hong Kongers. They’ll try to do it also with Taiwan.
We, meanwhile, should do all we can to increase our strengths – industrial, military and civic – so we can go to the assistance of those in need like we do today in Ukraine.
The reelection of Xi Jinping for a third term is not a good sign.
China’s reluctance to be open has already had enormous consequences. After the outbreak of CoVid 19 in Wuhan, they refused to cooperate with the World Health Organization to investigate the source of the spread.
When Australia asked for an investigation of such action, China responded with trade restrictions on that nation.
That’s who they are. Creative in some ways, backwards in some others. Always controlling.
We should not let down our guard and must keep strengthening our country and the West.
Otherwise, China will be reeducating us into thinking like them.

We earn our freedom every day.

A Homicide Hotline

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With the high number of violent deaths in our country, Joan, 32, decides to interview some folks to get their opinions. She is troubled that whatever prevention is being done is not having noticeable effect.
Microphone and recorder in hand, she approaches a man standing at a corner in downtown Chicago, as he waits for the light to change.
Joan – Good afternoon, I’m doing research and would like your opinion…
Man – Sure.
Joan – Yesterday, across the nation, according to, 26 people were killed in the United States, have you thought of what we could do to lower that number?
Man – That is a lot of people. You googled the figures?
Joan – Yes, this morning. It may be higher by now.
Man – The first thing that comes to mind is, start with the family… teach the children to have good manners, to learn to listen to others… to not insult anyone… to bear your pain. I think that’s very important, to learn to bear our pain, because everyone has pain, but your pain is your pain, you can talk about it with another person, just don’t give it to them or anyone else.
Joan – What do you do for a living?
Man – I’m a bus driver, it’s my day off.
Joan – Thank you for your time.
Man – You’re welcome.
Joan – Do you use that thinking in your work?
Man – Oh, yes. Some people come in the bus in a mood, cursing, disrespectful… not all the time but I get my share. I think to myself, they’re having a bad day… who knows what just happened to them. So I’m patient, but sometimes it’s too much and I have to step in, because of the other riders, you know. So I address them politely but firmly. If they blow me off or carry on, I call the police.
Joan – How long have you been a bus driver?
Man – Fifteen years.
Joan – You like it?
Man (smiling) – I love my work. Getting people to where they need to be.
Joan – Do you think that having a homicide hotline would be helpful… an 800 number people could call if they felt like killing someone.
Man – Hmm. That’s a thought… the challenge would be to get people to trust… I mean, with technology today, the caller may be hesitant because they’d be afraid of being tracked.
Joan – Good point. I don’t have an answer for it. My theory is that, for many people, these feelings start small and because they’re not addressed, then they grow stronger over time before they get ready to pull the trigger. That’s the population a hotline would be targeting.
Man – There might be a technical solution so they’re not afraid of being tracked… but getting to homicidal impulses when they’re hatching, that makes sense to me.
Joan – Good.
Man – Still, if the caller has to give personal information to talk to someone, that will inhibit them.
Joan – An ideal homicide hotline should not require any personal information or the identity of the intended target. The caller would be connected to someone who listens to them and gets right to the heart of the matter. ‘Why do you want to kill this person? How long have you been thinking about it? You must be very angry, I can help you with that. Anger can be managed. You’re doing the right thing to talk about it because there are ways to deal with it… and spare your life as well as the other person’s.’
Man – Cool. Are you working for a foundation or something?
Joan – No, I’m studying anthropology and thought of doing something to stop Americans from killing each other.
Man – Would you propose it to the government, to get funded?’
Joan – I’d like to first reach out to the private sector… like the National Rifle Association.
Man (laughs) – It might work.
Joan – I’m looking to do a pilot program, staff it with volunteers…
Man – Really… I’d be interested… like on weekends… you’d have some training, right?
Joan – Of course. And I’d be glad to consider you for the job.
Man – It’s not the same but I deal with a lot of people on the edge, so I think I could help.
Joan – I’m sure you could.

Smiling pause.

Joan – Well, thank you for being so generous with your time. I’ve held you long enough. Please write down your name and number so I may contact you in the future when I get this off the ground.
Man – Homicide hotline, here we come!
Joan – Get right to it.
Man – Anthropology… I remember reading about an anthropologist, a woman, Margaret Mead.
Joan – Yes, she had a distinguished career.

He writes down his name and number in a piece of paper and hands it to her.

Joan – Thank you.

They shake hands.

Man – Tom Oliver. Pleasure meeting you.
Joan – Joan Mead. Pleasure meeting you as well.
Man – Mead… any relation to Margaret?
Joan – Spiritual.

Immigration. The Economic and the Cultural

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Tough subject.
We are a nation of immigrants and should remain so, but there’s a lot of anger stirring on the subject.
Are we overpopulated? No.
Is there room for more people? Absolutely.
Who wants to keep the door open to new entrants? Business.
Who doesn’t want to? Those who perceive themselves as being left behind, feeling the newcomers are taking something from them, something they deserve because they were here before.
Business is clear in their position. Jobs are going unfilled. New talent is needed, from manual skills, caregivers, farm labor to physicists, engineers, scientists, technologists, mathematicians. Business wants them all, without unnecessary delays.
Their argument – we will move forward faster, create more wealth, stay ahead in the ruthless competition for advantage. They have a point.
The other side, the side who feels they’re being left behind – the cultural side – also has a point.
‘Why are we still behind, why are we not catching up?’
Some of the left behind may have the capacity to move up while others may not. Or they may not have the motivation. But did they have the opportunities? If they haven’t, why not?
If we’re going to start solving the immigration problem, we must listen to their side too.
Theirs is a more complex side than that of business because it exposes deep weaknesses in our system of government.
If in a given town, a business chooses to pull up and move elsewhere, that is their choice. Some of their workers will go with them but some won’t. Some will say, ‘Okay, that industry was the only game in town, so now I have to get going and move to another town, so I can make a living and feed my family. Others may not have such initiative or have yet to find it.
Sound government has a responsibility to the left behind. A responsibility to provide the necessary training for them to enlarge their capacities to work in a changing environment. That task must be done on such scale that it includes most of the affected.
When that is done then there will be less room for resentment.
I was in Germany in September of 2021, and in one of the cab drives I took I spoke to the driver. He was an immigrant from East Asia. ‘How was he adapting to life in Germany?’ I asked.
He loved it. He liked his cab driving because he could pick the hours he worked. His children were going to school. Life was good. Then there was this cousin of his, who after being laid off from his previous job during the pandemic, found out that the government was offering training programs in IT. The cousin jumped at the opportunity. A year later or so the man was making nearly 4 times the salary he had been earning before.
Not all the left behind will have the spunk the cousin had, but many will. If the opportunities are offered.
But to not have opportunities for advancement while seeing that our borders are overwhelmed and in perpetual chaos, is to inflame whatever resentments exist.
Thus the importance of dealing squarely with the immigration issue.
The perception of an orderly transition to coming into this country must be restored.
Right now the impression is that cheating is rampant. People overstay their visas. Others are allowed to stay in the country while their cases are processed but then they don’t show up for their hearings. Meanwhile, they use government services that the left behind finds intolerable.
‘Why not us?’ they ask.
Some politicians have made careers exploiting the resentments of the left behind without offering solutions. But demonizing the immigrant is not acceptable.
Building a wall is not either. Separating parents from children abhorrent.
Reason and compassion must prevail.
So we have to act. Otherwise the perception of lawlessness at our borders undermines our trust in government.
The task of solving this problem is urgent.
It will require compromises and bipartisan support but it should not be delayed.
Otherwise the problem will fester and deepen divisions we cannot afford.
The more we convey to the world our capacity to solve problems, the more we can inspire others to do the same and deter our enemies from challenging us.
Yesterday I listened to a 50 minute taped presentation sponsored by the US Chamber of commerce. It was held last year, during the pandemic.
Two US representatives, one democratic, the other republican, spoke on their views. They both agreed on the importance of tackling the problem. I heard them say that the last change to the law occurred in 1986, while Reagan was president.
I heard about legalizing those who’ve been here for years without papers yet making a contribution, all of which is important. Heard also of the importance of not demonizing the immigrant. But didn’t hear a single word about acknowledging and addressing the mounting resentment of the left behind or how to channel it.
It must be done.
It’s a cultural issue.

Mr Scholz. The Leopard Tanks

Photo by Shvets Anna on

This is a critical moment in the war. The tanks can make a difference.
Ukrainians are gaining ground in some areas but meeting fierce resistance in the south where Russians have had time to dig in and fortify their positions.
President Zelensky said the other day that approximately 50 of his soldiers are dying daily.
You stated recently that leadership is not about giving people what they ask for.
Understood. But it’s not just anyone asking for assistance with weapons.
It is Ukraine. A heroic country fighting for its life.
You speak of needing to be prepared for an attack on your nation.
Of course, so by no means deplete your stock of armament, but you are part of NATO, and at this unique historical moment, a bond has been created between Western nations that will be honored in case of such an attack.
The US Congress just approved a large amount of additional aid for Ukraine.
We too, in America, have to contend with depleting stocks, so some of the approved funds are going for just that.
I am glad that you approved an increase in your nation’s defense budget. This is the time to use those funds.
There is the growing awareness in Russian citizens that this is not a war for them to lose their lives over. The Motherland is not being threatened. It’s all about Putin’s inflated sense of himself. His dreams of grandeur. And many Russians are seeing it for what it is so they are desperately trying to flee. Those who acted quickly managed to get out. Those who vacillated may have a harder time leaving since the military has now sent personnel to border points to hand out draft notices and block their exit.
How do you transform a man or woman wanting to leave their country to escape the draft into a willing soldier? You can’t.
Somehow, somewhere, people’s lack of motivation will show. And it will translate into pain and suffering.
Putin is carrying on believing he can keep bending his people’s will. But resentment is building and it will soon show up in other places.
His desperate effort to legislate that conquered territories become a legitimate part of Russia is a sham.
Ukraine will not accept it and will fight to recapture all of the land Russia has seized, now and in recent years. It is their land. And with the support of the west and their enormous courage, they are on the verge of accomplishing their dream.
Their fight against Putin is a fight against totalitarianism. A fight with which all of us identify.
Your tanks will make a difference.
I see fear in Putin. I see growing desperation. The war has come to Russians’ homes, to their children. He has given a pay incentive of an additional $800 dollars plus a month to soldiers. Yet not a single explanation of why he assigns such a dismal value to their lives.
The hypocrisy, the sadism, the brutality keep mounting.
But Putin is no madman.
He will count the loss of lives methodically, coldly, to arrange for his next move. ’50 Ukrainians dead today, 90 yesterday, hmm, what happened?’
It is unbelievable the scale of atrocities committed in defense of lies.
And so, as Ukraine presses on, the West must too.
We trust and hope that Ukraine will become a bastion of democracy and an inspiration to all nations on earth. It will be up to them to make that a reality. And so far, they’re saying, ‘Yes, we will’ and backing it with their lives.
Our reward is not what they accomplish, but the sense that in an hour of need we lent a hand. We gave our best. We risked ourselves.
Please be generous Mr Scholz. Send in the tanks.
Putin must be confronted, no matter what the size of his threats.
A nation is bleeding for the sake of liberty.

Biden and Putin Talk

Photo by Ramaz Bluashvili on

Biden is in the White House, Putin is in his bunker.
They talk via a special channel using advanced Zoom technology and they both fill their respective screens.
While not visible, in the room with Biden are Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan.
Two unnamed assistants sit near Putin.

Biden – It’s time to end this.
Putin – Are you speaking for Zelensky?
Biden – No… he speaks for himself.
Putin – What do you propose?
Biden – You pull back to behind your borders… and agree to pay reparations.
Putin – You’re mad.
Biden – You’ve just mobilized 300 thousand Russians to fight in Ukraine… 300 thousand men not well trained, and vulnerable to getting killed or maimed because they’re no match for Ukrainians… and for what?
Putin – I have a dream of a greater Russia… a Russia that will be respected everywhere… consulted in all important decisions…
Biden – You’ve had more than 20 years to do that… and you didn’t do it.

Putin lowers his eyes.

Biden – In those 20 years, China rose to become the second most important economy in the world… even though they were still denying their people the freedom of speech… but they let them create, invent, copy from the West which they were clever to invite in. But all the while in Russia, the power stayed concentrated on you and your oligarch friends. Now China is running into other problems which will limit their growth, but we won’t talk about that this moment.
Putin – I admit they have done better than us… but they’re not better than us… like you’re not better than us.
Biden – I agree… but we work hard to assure the freedom of all our people… citizens and residents… immigrants from all over the world who come in search of liberty and opportunity.
Putin – You’re a racist country.
Biden – We have been… and maybe still are… but we keep working on it.

The two men look at each other directly.

Biden – You started this war… not because you were being threatened… but because of envy… envy of all the nations which have surpassed you during the time you’ve been in power. So you invented this dream of a greater Russia to make up for all your blunders… and chose to sacrifice your fellow Russians. That is unforgivable.
Putin – Unforgivable?
Biden – There’s no way back.
Putin – I know that.

They pause.

Biden – You can’t bring back the dead, the maimed… the tears for whom will never dry.
And yet you go on TV the other day to say that representatives of NATO nations are threatening Russia with nuclear weapons. No one has said that. You invented it to justify calling for another 300 thousand people to join in your madness.
Putin – I am not mad.
Biden – I know… which gives me hope.
Putin – Hope?
Biden – Yes, hope that you announce to the world that this is over.

Putin laughs.

Biden – Admit that you made a colossal mistake out of envy… and that you deeply regret you have not made Russia a leading nation in the world… as your nation would have become… if they had been free.
Putin (to himself)- My dear Russia…
Biden – There is still time… time to act to redeem yourself.
Putin (pulling his head back as he closes his eyes) – That time has passed… I’ve killed too many people… destroyed too many things…
Biden – You could ask all the oligarchs you’ve made rich… to contribute four fifths of their wealth toward a fund to rebuild Ukraine.
Putin (shaking his head slowly) – They’ll kill me.
Biden – … and you could start by surrendering four fifths of your own wealth to set the example.
Putin (smiling) – You’re mad, Biden.
Biden – I’m sure there are better ideas to act on… but what is clear to me is that this is over. You can still insist on causing more damage, but it will get you nothing… and because it will be at the expense of your people, they will become less forgiving. Russia needs to breathe… you need to take your boot off their throats.
Putin – I still have my nuclear weapons…
Biden – What good will they do?

Putin lowers his head.

Biden – The West will never submit to you, or to China… or anyone. We will die for our freedom, like Ukraine is doing.
Putin – Ukraine is now part of the West?
Biden – Yes. You wouldn’t let them in, so they fought their way into it.
Putin – I won’t surrender.

Biden is silent.

Putin – There’s still a chance we could beat Ukrainians. Why won’t they let me keep Crimea, the Donbas?
Biden – Because it’s their land.
Putin – You didn’t say anything when I first took it…
Biden – It was another president… another time.
Putin – I’m not envious of America. You’re a mess… violent… racist…
Biden – … and free. The nation chose Trump as president in 2016… but didn’t like what they saw and didn’t reelect him. That’s choice. If Americans had reelected Trump in 2020, then you would’ve had no problem taking over Ukraine. Trump would’ve gone to your inauguration in Kyiv. But we didn’t reelect him and we won’t again.

Putin nods slowly.

Putin – I liked him… I should’ve invaded while he was president.
Biden – Missed your chance.
Putin – I won’t surrender.
Biden – Then the dead and the destruction will keep climbing… for what?
As destructive as you’ve been, you are still a human being… better die as a human being who acknowledged his humanity, than as one who never did.

Putin shakes his head.

Putin – I will not surrender. Russians love me. I am not envious. Russia will be great again.
Biden – Putin… Russians are scared of you… and that feeling is just sinking in in all those Russians you’ve just called to enlist. They’re now learning that because they didn’t stand up to you before… you own them.
Putin – I have more nuclear weapons than you do, more than anyone on this earth.
Biden – You can’t win a nuclear war.
Putin – That’s what they say but I will… and we’ll pick up the pieces… and we’ll be the greatest nation on earth.
Biden – Russians will stop you.
Putin – No, they won’t. Russians love me.

Putin pauses, looks tired.

Putin – I’ve had enough for today.
Biden – Should we meet again?
Putin – Maybe… I’m not sure… I’ll let you know… but maybe this will be our last meeting.
Biden – Please do what is right. If not, we will stop you. No matter how much pain we must endure.

Putin looks directly at Biden for a moment, then his screen goes dark.