Will Trump Become the Republican Candidate for President in 2024?

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Based on the results from the midterm elections, the answer is no.
As of this writing Republicans will end with only a slim advantage in the House and they’ve lost the Senate.
Their relative poor showing was a referendum on Trump
Raphael Warnock (D) will beat Herschel Walker (R) in the remaining undecided Senate seat in Georgia, giving Democrats the full advantage of 51 to 49.
Trump has managed to divide his party.
Yesterday he declared himself a candidate for the presidency but he will lose in the primaries.
His supporters were mesmerized by his charm but missed the substance. And the substance is that Trump is not a believer in the democratic process.
The assault on the capitol on Jan 6th 2021 wouldn’t have happened without his incitement.
The fact that, in spite of it, he managed to keep so many followers, tell us that there’s a sizeable section in this country for which democracy is just a word.
The good news is that there are many Republicans who are not fooled and were never fooled.
They showed up at the polls in the midterms and rejected Trump’s followers.
They showed up at the polls and rejected the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The best hope for the Republican party in 2024 is that Trump doesn’t win the primary.
So far, DeSantis from Florida is attracting attention as a rival.
But there is ample time for other contenders to rise.
When the lineup of Republican party candidates shows up for the primary debates, there will be plenty ammunition for them to take Trump down. And his followers will see how much better another candidate will represent them.
The division in the Republican party works in Democrats’ favor.
But Democrats will do well to select a candidate whose appeal extends to disaffected Republicans.
The time is now for Democratic candidates to start grooming their teams.
And so the matter of whether Biden will run again becomes critical.
I am a strong supporter of him but now believe that he should not run for reelection.
In just 4 days, on November 20th, Biden will be 80 years old. In 2024 he will be 82.
Age matters on a job as hectic as the president’s.
Two more years in the White House will help Biden consolidate some of his policies and we may also see Ukraine win the war against Russia.
Biden should be very proud of what he’s done.
He has said he will decide early next year if he’ll stand for reelection.
I think he will choose not to. And so open the door for Democratic candidates to flesh out their campaigns.
Kamala Harris will definitely be among the contenders but so will be Gavin Newsom from California.
They need ample time to prepare.
My projection is that Newsom will become the Democratic candidate for president in 2024.
And so help write Donald Trump’s political epitaph.
We earn our freedom every day.

Border Chaos

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Our southern border has always been problematic.
It’s been difficult to get bipartisan consensus on the number of new arrivals permitted.
But there has been a shared sense that this land will grant political asylum to those fleeing repressive regimes.
We have agreed that Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are repressive regimes in this hemisphere.
The Cuban diaspora dates from the early 60s and there is no doubt the overall positive impact such immigration has had. Miami would not be the metropolis it has become without the Cuban influx.
Venezuela’s diaspora started as former president, Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, began to
undermine their oil industry through mismanagement. Subsequently the outflow of people increased drastically when his appointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, became a tyrant.
To date, over 7 million Venezuelans, a fourth of its population, have seen no option but leave their country and brave the enormous difficulties of emigrating to neighboring nations, not all of which have been receptive.
In recent months, more and more of those refugees turned north, hoping for asylum here in the US. At first they were able to get through but as the numbers surged, strict limitations were imposed.
President Biden has now in place a parole system, whereby 24 thousand Venezuelans per year will be allowed in so long as they arrive by air and have sponsors here in the US.
The action was determined by the upcoming mid term elections.
Mr Biden made the choice to appeal to the undecided voters who might look with disfavor on the increase in new arrivals.
But lost in the shuffle were the merits of the asylum seekers. These are mostly young people who have faced great hazards in the long journey from Venezuela, crossing the northern part of Colombia, up through the Darien Gap, then Panama and up through the entirety of Central America to finally get to our border. Mostly done on foot. To then be told, ‘No. We will no longer accept you. You have to have a sponsor and money for a plane trip. Goodbye.’
I don’t think democrats are going to get any more votes than they would have because of the refusal to grant asylum to Venezuelans.
Americans who are set against immigration will see the restriction as an electoral maneuver to get their votes, not a move born of conviction.
The choice to sharply limit the asylum offer to Venezuelans is short sighted.
Venezuelans are not the frequent requesters of such assistance. They would rather stay in their country if the conditions for their prospering allowed it. But they are fleeing brutality, imprisonment or starvation.
For those who made the difficulty journey, what is there to do now? Go all the way back? Plead for mercy from one of the impoverished Central American countries they crossed?
Their options look dismal.
Mr Biden, whom I deeply respect, and who has done a wonderful job uniting the West in Ukraine’s battle against Russia, should have stuck with the asylum option. Asylum could have been limited, pending a change in conditions in Venezuela.
We are a land of hope and we need to keep it that way because it is integral to our commitment to freedom. The same commitment that Biden has made to Ukraine and that will eventually lead to a markedly diminished Russia.
The large number of Venezuelans arriving ought to be seen as genuine seekers of relief, able bodied men and women eager to repay with their work for the opportunity granted. Men and women who can also help us fill the gap in labor shortages we face.
There are distinguished Venezuelan born people in our midst who have made important contributions to our nation, such as Leo Rafael Reif, current president of MIT (through the end of this year).
And I read that much private assistance has come forward to aid those who did make it through.
Mr Biden, there is still time. Please change your stance and allow the asylum applications of Venezuelans fleeing their home country and ready to get to work to build a better life.

Putin Makes Offer to Zelensky

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It’s early morning and they speak thru a top secret video link. They both have aides with them but we only see the two on the respective screens.

Putin – Good morning.
Zelensky – How many missiles have you sent us today?
Putin – I’ll get to the point.
Zelensky – Speak.
Putin – I can offer you a deal.

Zelensky shakes his head slightly, like we’ve been through this before.

Putin – I want to end the war.
Zelensky – Then pull back to the borders we had before 2014.
Putin – Listen to me… I’m willing to do that in the East… Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson… all goes back to you…

Zelensky leans forward, interested.

Putin – … but I keep Crimea.
Zelensky – No! We’re getting back all our territory. We won’t accept anything else.

Putin lowers his eyes for a moment.

Putin – We’re losing people every day… you are, and I am, too… we can stop this.
Zelensky – Since when has that been important to you? You started it. No one was threatening you…
Putin – What happened, happened. You need to think more broadly. How long you think the West will support you? It’s costing them a lot of money to keep you well armed.
People are unhappy with all the restrictions… the shortages… inflation… and there will likely be a world recession. In America, the democrats may lose the mid term elections. Some Republicans are talking of cutting back on support for Ukraine if they gain control of both houses. But if we make a deal, the West will be grateful and relieved… and you’d be helping democrats win the mid terms. Biden will be especially grateful… and that will open the door to investments in Ukraine… to rebuild…
Zelensky – What you’ve destroyed.
Putin – We need to look forward. I am what I am and did what I did, but you and me, we can stop the losses. Do you want a war that will last forever?

Zelensky rubs his face.

Putin – I will not surrender Crimea and I can keep the war going on and on and on.
Think of the lives we can save.

Putin joins his hands in front of him as he looks directly at Zelensky.

Putin – I need a deal… that’s why I’ve come to you. I have no illusions that Europe will return to buying oil from me… but some of the sanctions will be lifted and that would be good for me and my people.
Zelensky – You must be getting pressure from some groups in Russia…
Putin – Could be… but I’ve dealt with it before.
Think of it this way… if we make a deal right now… both Ukrainian and Russian lives will be spared. If we make a deal right now… we can order that all shooting stop today… this moment… and we hold our gains until we sign the papers. Winter is almost here.
Zelensky – I need to think it over and discuss it with my people.
Putin – Your time thinking and discussing is measured in lives… for I will keep shooting missiles into your land.
Zelensky – And we will keep firing back.
Putin – It’s up to you and me.
Zelensky – Why do you want to keep Crimea and not the East?
Putin – I love the sea… Crimea is surrounded by water… and Russians like to go there on vacation.

Pause

Putin – Look, I can’t walk away with nothing. Surrendering the East is already a defeat. But I will not surrender Crimea, even if it means keeping the war going on and on and on.
The world is ready to invest in Ukraine… so, essentially, you have won. I accept that.
But I keep Crimea.
Zelensky – Have you talked about this with anyone else?
Putin – No one.
Zelensky – When did you first think about it?
Putin – It’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks. We can change the mood of the world… you and me… if we compromise. It’s up to us. Volodymyr… think about it…you will go on to be an admired leader for the rest of your life. I won’t. I will have to live with the consequences of my mistakes… and do everything I can to stay in power. Do we have a deal?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

The Upcoming Elections. Educate the Voter

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It’s always hard to predict the outcome, no matter what the polls say. We only need to remember how the forecasters were so wrong about Hillary Clinton in 2016.
What I find surprising is how little pull with the voters does the war in Ukraine seems to have.
Sure, there is inflation affecting living costs and perhaps there will be recession in the next 6-12 months and perhaps not.
But why is the war in Ukraine not a key driving force for the American voter?
Months ago I posted a blog – which I sent to president Biden (probably didn’t get through) – asking that the war in Ukraine be sold to the American public.
Sold as in, ‘Listen up, Americans, our nation is doing a terrific job in arming Ukrainians so they can push back the assassin that Putin is, and so help the world prevent other invasions and more cruelty. Listen up, Americans, we have been able to play a decisive role in uniting the West to stem Russia and its accomplices from dividing up the world and expanding their dictatorial powers. The work the West has done has been transformative. Now Ukraine is part of the West. And they have become part of us through their courage and sacrifice. Ukrainians will forever be grateful that the American people gave of themselves so generously by sending them weapons to fight back Putin.’
If Biden and co. has, in effect, sold the war to the American people, then I missed it.
It should have been front and center.
‘Fellow Americans, I know that we’re going through a rough patch with inflation and gas prices but keep the big picture in mind. Our nation is spreading freedom throughout the world.
I ask that you be forgiving if you’re having some difficulties with food and gas prices. But think of the big picture. Of the moral courage we have built.’
If that went out, I missed it, too.
I can hear political advisers saying, ‘Ukraine is too far away, it won’t resonate with the voter who’s feeling pinched by gas prices. Our voters just don’t think that far ahead.’
Are we not underestimating the voter? Are we missing an opportunity to educate?
Shouldn’t elections be about that?
Yesterday I read an article in the WSJ talking of how we’re spending less than we should on defense and consequently our combat strength has diminished.
Why wait until a crisis catches us unprepared? That’s also part of educating the voter.
I understand that immigration is an issue and that it needs fixing. But it can’t be done without bipartisan support. Here again, the voter should be educated.
And why shy away from punching where the punching needs to be done?
The Republican party has been sorely lacking in courage, as when a significant number of their legislators have become mouthpieces for Mr Trump. If there had not been a Democratic majority in the House, then the commission to expose all what went wrong with the assault on the Capitol on January 6th 2021 would not have happened.
That’s part of educating the voter.
On this count, much credit goes to Liz Cheney, a Republican with much integrity and valor who, in standing up against Trump, lost her seat.
What’s wrong with going after Trump?
If Trump had been reelected in 2020, Putin would have had no trouble annexing Ukraine. A simple call to his friend in the White House would have sufficed. Trump would have answered, ‘Can you do it quickly, maybe overnight?’
Why is that not a valid point in these elections?
The willingness on the part of our politicians to not educate the voter is abysmal.
And all of us pay for it on election night.
We earn our freedom every day.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

A Chinese and an American Talk Politics

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The Chinese, Haitao, is a physicist, the American, Bill, a mathematician. They know each other from graduate school in the US. Haitao returned to Shanghai and is employed in cloud computing by a state owned enterprise, while Bill presently works in the Netherlands in a microchip manufacturing company. They ran into each other at a conference in London.
They sit at a table in a street side café.

Bill – The 20th Communist Party Congress has just started. You think Xi will be reelected for a third term?
Haitao – No doubt. He has done a great job cleaning out corruption and the people admire him.
My worry is that he is too autocratic.
Bill – He will go for a 4th term?
Haitao (laughs) – Probably. And a fifth. Will die in office, like his idol Mao.
Bill – You think China will keep growing the way it has?
Haitao – Yes. Maybe slow down a little but not much. One of the things we have found is a sense of purpose. You don’t have that.
Bill – You mean a sense of purpose as a nation?
Haitao – Exactly.
Bill – And what would that be?
Haitao – To become the dominant nation in the world.
Bill – Dominant?
Haitao – Yes. We want to be number one. And we’re willing to sacrifice our personal freedom.
I know freedom is very important to you, but most Chinese are willing to sacrifice it for a higher cause. We have never been number one. You have been number one for a long time. Now you take it for granted.
Bill – Our system allows for very diverse creativity, in many fields, and the limited governmental interference facilitates development. You’ve had enormous growth with companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, but now the government has chosen to direct their future growth. Don’t you think that will end up having a negative impact on inventiveness?
Haitao – It could. The government is experimenting, so we have to wait and see. Xi has been very clear about the importance of shared prosperity. In America, you talk about that but are very slow to do it. You have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but it’s not enough. There’s a lot of poverty in America. We watch you very closely so we can learn from you. Learn what not to do.
Bill – The distribution of riches, how to do it well without diminishing the creative drive, has been a problem for us. We keep going back and forth on that but there is steady progress in strengthening the safety net.
Haitao – Europeans are ahead of you.
Bill – But there is a stronger enterprising drive in America.
Haitao – To what purpose?
Bill – To become all we can be… maximizing the person’s possibilities.
Haitao – See, that’s the difference between you and us. In China, we think more of the collective. You think more of the individual.
And because of that difference, we now have a national purpose, which you do not.
Bill – I disagree. We want to protect the individual’s liberty, their right to create and acquire wealth… and many wealthy people become philanthropists… and give their money to various causes…
Haitao – That is weak, compared to having a national purpose. The benefit of having such purpose is that it commits the citizens to the task and expects from them that they sacrifice for it. No other nation has progressed so fast in 40 years since Deng Xiaoping began China’s opening to the world. We have taken advantage of everything possible… borrowed and stolen, too… but we have created also… and we have now great confidence in our capacities… and faith that we will become the number one nation in the world very soon.
Bill – How soon?
Haitao – At our current pace, I’d say, in 15 years. Max.
Bill – That’s a short time.
Haitao – We are not afraid of you, anymore. We study you closely, and we see how you can’t agree on things. Your lack of national discipline is frightening. We now have a bigger navy than you do. We don’t want to be like you, anymore. We did before, but not now. We don’t have mass shootings in our country. We don’t have an immigration problem. We don’t have the homelessness that makes your cities ugly. We don’t have racial issues, or just a little bit, but not like you.
In our country, politics is orderly, in your country it’s a circus and a waste and money and energy and talent. It is pitiful to watch it.
Bill – And Taiwan?
Haitao – It’s ours. We will not make the mistake that Putin made in Ukraine. But Russia is a second rate power. When the leadership decides it’s time to take Taiwan, we’ll encircle it and take it. It will be quick. For you to intervene will be too costly, so you’ll stay away and curse your weakness.
Bill – You’re pretty cocky about your power?
Haitao – We will always be friends, Bill, but as a nation, the time for China to replace you as number one is fast approaching. You’ll just have to live with it.
Bill – I think you’re underestimating our strengths…
Haitao – America has grown too fat and overconfident.
Bill – We could surprise you… we’re known for coming together when we have to.
Haitao – There’s always that possibility… but you’re too divided… too angry at each other… too unwilling to compromise… and have shown very poor judgment in whom you elect as President. I’m not talking about Biden, he’s done a good job. But I couldn’t believe your country elected Donald Trump, then failed to impeach him, then let him incite an assault on Capitol Hill, and may reelect him again… or let Republicans win both houses in the midterms.
Something is deeply wrong with your country, and I don’t think you can fix it in time to stop our rise to world dominance. Now is our turn. Your time is past.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Putin and Xi Talk Nuclear

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The two men talk via video.

Putin – Ukrainians keep pushing us back.
Xi – I saw the video of the bombing of your bridge to Crimea.
Putin – Somehow, they got through and planted the bombs.
Xi – They’re getting better and better.
Putin – I will not surrender the East.
Xi – They may take it from you, drive you back to your borders.
I worry that the new soldiers you’ve called up may not be ready for the Ukrainians.
It could lead to a massacre of Russians.
Putin – Then I’ll use nuclear weapons.

Xi pauses, shifts his weight in his seat, looking uncomfortable.

Xi – Like I’ve told you before… it’s not a good idea. The West will respond.
Putin – I have top notch nuclear weapons.
Xi -That’s what you were saying about your army.
Putin (irritated) – You don’t believe me?
Xi – I want to… but I can’t deny the evidence… your army hasn’t delivered.
Putin – My nuclear weapons have been developed by the very best of my people.
Xi – Whether your weapons are good or bad, if you fire them, the West will shoot back… and the losses will be unbelievable.

Xi leans forward, looking Putin directly.

Xi – All because you’ve had this dream of creating a new Russia to surpass what the Soviet Union was.
But that is over, Vladimir. That is not going to happen. You must accept that.

Putting grimaces, displeased.

Xi – If your system were that effective, Russia would be much better off than it is now.

Putin looks off, his discomfort mounting.

Xi – With your human capital and natural resources,
Russia should up there with the top economies, say, rivalling Japan, but it is not. So what’s the point of extending a system that is not that effective?
Putin (firmly) – I will not give up on my dream.
Xi – I won’t pay for your dream.
Putin – I’m not asking you to.
Xi – Do you really think that if you use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the West will say, ‘Okay, we’ll just keep using conventional weapons while you fry us with nuclear ones.’
The way you’re going, desperate as you are, you may decide to hit Kyiv with a nuclear bomb. What do you think the response of the West will be? ‘Oh, he’s done it, he’s serious, let’s leave Ukraine and hope he doesn’t do it again!’
No. They are committed. They will hit your troops with nuclear weapons too and that will be the beginning of the end. The world paying for the price of your madness.

Putin winces. He’s never heard Xi say that to him.

Xi – You may decide you can get away with dropping a bomb on Warsaw or Berlin, maybe even Washington D.C. or New York.
But do you think that, should that happen, the West will spare China?
They will not.
Putin – Why not?
Xi – Because if the West is weakened, they will rightfully conclude that we’ll take advantage of it… grab Taiwan and ask Japan to submit.
Putin – You would do that?
Xi – If the West is weakened, if New York or Washington D.C. are burning, why not?
But they won’t let it happen.
If you decide to shoot at the West, they will respond and shoot at both you and us. I have no doubt.
Vladimir… we’ve worked very hard to get us to where we are… and we don’t want to see Shanghai or Beijing burning because of your madness.
Putin – My madness?
Xi – Yes.
That’s exactly what we’re all seeing. You hitting civilian targets indiscriminately…
Putin – They are killing my people.

Xi pauses, looks down for a moment, frustrated.

Xi (softly) – We’re all paying for it.
Putin (irritated) – How are you paying for it?
Xi – The world economy has weakened. There’s less demand for our products… inflation is growing globally… and then there’s the daily horror of people being killed… mass graves being found where your troops have been… I have done enough repression of my own… but this is too much.

Xi rubs his face, clearly uncomfortable.

Xi – Vladimir… if you’re thinking of going nuclear, then it’s time for you to go.
Putin – Go?

Putin seems confused. He shakes his head slowly.

Putin – I won’t.
Xi – Concede you have lost. Pull back from Ukraine entirely, even Crimea and the Donbas, everything… go back to your normal boundaries. No need for negotiations. No one will threaten your borders.
The West will go into Ukraine and rebuild it. I don’t think they’ll hold back the funds you have in the West. They will give you that back, so you can help your people.
Your test will be to regain Russians’ trust. It won’t be easy. You might face new challenges at home, but you will likely handle that.
Putin – You think it’s over for me?
Xi – Yes. You’ve chased out more than 250 thousand Russians after you announced a call to conscript 300 thousand reservists. It is time to pull back. Your people are getting tired of you… the world is too.
Putin – And you, you’re tired of me, too?
Xi – I will help you as best I can. Learn from this and rebuild Russia. You will never regain the status you had… but you could still be a player.
Putin (shaking his head) – No.
Xi – Don’t burden the world anymore. It’s time to go home.
Putin (feeling wounded) – You’re turning against me… I thought we would be friends forever… that I could always count on you…
Xi – You’re driving us to Hell.
But you can still retrench… and stay in power a while longer.

Putin lowers his head, disconsolate, wounded. After a moment, they hang up.

That same day, after an emergency meeting with the standing committee of the Politburo – a select group of seven leaders – Xi calls up Joe Biden in Washington for a top secret talk. He tells Biden how important it is to keep up the pressure on Putin. He doesn’t think Putin is mad and he would do his best to monitor the situation closely. But if things changed and Putin got close to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine or elsewhere, China would switch sides so that between the West and them, they would pressure Russia to stand down, retreat to behind their borders and so end the war.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Putin on the Progress of the War

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He is in one of his vacation homes, a hilly, secluded area heavily guarded by a top security team.
He strolls in the open field behind it accompanied by his faithful dog. Putin carries a short stick in his hands.
In the near distance, a small lake glistens invitingly. It’s early morning.
Much has been happening in the battlefields of Ukraine and he needed to step back.
They walk by a small stable with three horses that lies to their left.
A short distance past they reach the lake. He sits on a rock, facing the water, and looks off pensively into the distance. It’s a bit cold and windy and he’s wearing a heavy jacket. The dog has a thick fur coat.

Putin – It’s not going well. I underestimated the West. Overestimated the resolve of my forces.
But it’s not over.

The dog lies down on the ground.

Putin – I’ve been surprised by the reaction to my calling up the reservists. People leaving Russia every way they can. But I’m putting a stop to it. Three hundred thousand men should help in the short run. I worry, though, that many will die, that they won’t be a match for the battle-hardened Ukrainians, which is why I’ve started to talk about using nuclear weapons.
It unnerves the West.
Would I use them? Not if Russia’s territorial integrity is not breached. I’m not including occupied Ukrainian land, even from 2014 on.
I still have the support of my people, but I won’t deceive myself about a growing resistance. Like the car explosion that blew up Aleksandr Dugin’s daughter… and now the bombing of the Nordstream pipeline. We put a lot of money into it. Those bombs were set off by insiders who want me out. But we’re investigating and we’ll get them.
I need time. I am hoping the results of the mid term elections in America will help. If enough supporters of Trump get in, then the aid Congress has authorized to help Ukraine could be blocked. And Biden’s allies in Europe will complain. I’m not sure Biden can keep them together.

The dog whimpers and Putin pats him.

Putin – Winter is almost here, the rains are coming and that’ll slow things on the battlefield, which buys me time.
The assault on the Capitol on January 6th (2021) was my signal to invade. I’d been thinking about it all along but that clinched it. I thought, look how weak they are… how divided. I already knew how decadent they are… how they shoot each other all the time… how they rip each other apart over abortion and immigration… how so many of their people die from drug overdoses… and they pretend to be the leader of the world. They love to glorify themselves, ‘exceptionalism’ they call it. Ha!
And yet… they managed to surprise me… managed to pull themselves together when I threatened to invade Ukraine, a far away land. Now, that is exceptional.
I never imagined that someone, who I thought was a second rate politician who couldn’t stop talking, had the nerve to pull Europe together. I should’ve taken the hint when he chose to pull out of Afghanistan against fierce criticism. I missed that.
But I’m still hopeful that I can beat back Ukraine. Bomb all their energy producing facilities… leave them without any electricity… without any potable water… destroy all their dams… their hospitals… everything… bomb and bomb… until they get on their knees and beg to surrender.

The dog whimpers again, looks up at Putin, who rubs his head.

Putin – I need Republicans to win back both houses… not just any Republicans but those who take instructions from Mar-A-Lago. That’s what will make a difference in supporting Ukraine. They’ll protest that Ukraine is too far away and they need those funds to battle immigration… to help their own… and get back to finishing the wall facing Mexico. Those are my allies in America, the Right. The farther right the better. And I will have my cyber security experts do everything possible to inflame the immigration issue… make clear how those devils are harming America, how it’s the immigrants who are responsible for the country’s decadence. Ha! If they only could get rid of them they would be wholesome again. And inflation, that too, even though theirs is lower than England’s and Europe’s, that could be worked up, blame it on the incompetence of a senile president who’s leading them to destruction.
If I can get congress to reduce their support of Ukraine, that will be the signal for Europe to back off and push Ukraine to negotiate instead. And we’ll get Erdogan from Turkey to moderate the talks.

Thinking aloud has made him feel better.

Putin – Yes, there’s hope. I won’t be defeated. I mustn’t forget that I have friends in the West, people who like autocrats… who are tired of democracy and its constant fights… people who prefer to have permanence… prefer to have one president who can stay in power until he dies… like I’d like to… and like Xi Jinping would like to… and like Modi in India would like to, also. It simplifies our existence. Permanence, stability, they are beautiful.
As far as the nuclear weapons is concerned… if you don’t violate my territorial integrity, I’ll never fire them. They have weapons too… and once the firing starts, anything could go wrong… and my dear Russia could be burned to a crisp. Me included.

His dog stands.

Putin – Washington, you want some exercise?

The dog licks his hand. Putin stands and throws the stick far into the lake.

Putin – Go get it! Go!

And the dog runs off, jumping into the cold waters and paddling away in search of the stick.

Putin – As to Biden, I wish I’d had the chance to shine like he has. What a moment he’s living. To have pulled together Europe against the invasion. Now that’s glorious. But in a sign of their growing decadence, Americans are not giving him credit. They can’t see it. Instead, they want to defeat him in the mid term elections on account of inflation… and immigration.
On that they’re showing little imagination… showing their decadence… which is great for me.

And he shouts out to his dog, ‘Go Washington, go!’

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Vasily!

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The mass of protesters surged forward, some of them with their faces covered, some not. Men and women of various ages, arms interlocked, a look of fierce determination.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! We won’t fight Ukraine!’ They chanted vigorously. ‘Long live Russia!’
A block and a half away a unit of riot police in full gear, four lines deep, waited silently to stop them, their shields and batons at the ready, their faces covered by balaclavas. Behind them three vehicles with water cannons stood vigilantly along with 2 empty buses.
The march was taking place near the center of St Petersburg along a wide avenue lined with tall apartment buildings, from which balconies people looked down as they snapped photos and took videos.
The protesters kept advancing, undeterred by the riot police staring back at them.
More than a thousand men and women made up the advancing mass.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Moments later the protesters came to a stop about 15 feet or so from the riot police. They continued their chanting, which grew louder and more defiant.
An officer stepped out from behind the riot police and to one side. Bull horn in hand, he said to the protesters, ‘Disband! You’re in violation of the law. This is an illegal demonstration. Disband immediately or face the consequences!’
The protesters paused for an instant before resuming their chanting. ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Then the officer addressed his troops. ‘Proceed to disband!’
And the troops charged the protesters, batons held up high ready to strike the defenseless men and women. And the batons came down hard on the heads and arms of the protesters.
Cries of pain filled the air as the protesters were furiously bludgeoned. A woman and a man fell to the ground from the impact of the clubs.
A woman called out, ‘Vasily!’
She broke off from her companions attempting to reach the man who’d fallen but was blocked by the riot police and shoved back.
‘Vasily!’ she cried again, frantically.
The first cry had sounded vaguely familiar to a riot policeman in the front line but now the second cry made him cringe with fear. He knew that voice. He immediately ceased swinging his baton and yelled, ‘Irina!’
The woman looked in his direction, ‘Igor!’
‘Yes!’ answered Igor with alarm.
‘Vasily went down!’ she replied, signaling to her right.
‘What?’ His face went pale.
The riot police kept pushing the protesters back.
Urgently, Igor began to move toward where Irina had signaled.
‘Vasily!’ shouted Igor loudly, in desperation, ‘Vasily!’
He was trying to wind his way through the advancing officers, but he couldn’t get through the tight formation.
Igor pressed on and reached the fallen man, then threw himself immediately over him, his fellow officers stomping on by.
Igor felt the warmth of the body that now lay under him. But was it him? He wasn’t sure. Reaching up with one hand he then pulled off his mask. And it was him. Vasily. His son.
Irina could no longer see Igor but kept moving in their direction when a club crashed hard over her head and she,too, fell to the ground.
‘Vasily! Talk to me!’ cried Igor to his son, but Vasily couldn’t answer.
The rest of the riot police had advanced past them as they pushed back the demonstrators, the vehicles with water cannons now shooting their hard streams at them.
The officer with the bull horn strode up to where Igor covered Vasily.
‘What are you doing?’ said the officer.
‘This is my son,’ said Igor as he looked up at the officer, the expression confused, bewildered, ‘My son… I thought he was at the university… I didn’t know he was with the protesters… it’s my fault…’
The officer with the bullhorn looked down at Igor.
‘You’re a police officer. Join your fellow officers. Your son will be taken care of.’
And Igor’s expression seemed to freeze.
‘I can’t… I can’t…’ answered Igor as he looked helplessly up at the officer. And then he looked to the side where just a few yards away lay the body of the woman who had called to him. It had to be Irina. He went to her and it was she. A big clot was forming on her bloodied forehead but otherwise she was conscious. She smiled at him. “How is he?’
‘I don’t know, he won’t respond,’ said Igor.
Irina’s expression changed. ‘Help me up, Igor, I need to see him… he needs me.’
And Igor started to lift her but then the commanding officer appeared again at his side.
‘We have people to do that, now join your fellow officers, we’ll take care of your son and this woman.’
And Igor stared back at the commanding officer. He called him by his first name, Ilya. ‘Ilya… I can’t… I can’t do it anymore… these are my children… I can’t do it.’
‘Join your fellow officers now!’ insisted the man, ‘or I will charge you with insubordination.’
Igor didn’t move, just stared back, puzzled.
Two medics, a man and a woman, came up to where Irina lay and started to lift her but she said, pointing in Vasily’s direction, ‘he needs more help than I do, go to him first.’
The medics ignored her, pulled her up and took her to the side of the avenue where other injured people were being gathered.
‘Stay with Vasily, Igor, please!’ were the last words he heard from her.
Igor moved back quickly to where Vasily still lay. He was unresponsive.
‘Vasily, my child, speak to me!’ cried Igor in anguish. ‘Vasily!’
The commanding officer followed Igor and stood over him. Now he was joined by two other men.
The commanding officer stared down at Igor. ‘I will have to charge you with insubordination, do you hear me, Igor?’
Igor had been on his knees, holding Vasily’s hand in his but now appeared transfixed.
‘Do you hear me?’ pressed the commanding officer.
And Igor began to shake his head slowly, horror coming over him as tears rolled down his face. He had been taking his son’s pulse and now there was no pulse.
‘Are you deaf?’ insisted the commanding officer as he hovered over Igor.
And Igor started to slowly look up at the officer, eyes wide open, glaring in disbelief.
‘Ilya… he’s dead… my son… Vasily… he’s dead.’
And the commanding officer stood up straight, aghast.
And Igor, reacting, immediately positioned himself astride his son and started to do chest compressions. And one of the other officers joined him, alternating with Igor to give mouth to mouth respirations… and two medics came to their side with a cardio converter and they tried it. And it didn’t work. So Igor and the other officers went back to compressing Vasily’s heart and breathing for him. And they tried again the heart converter. And they repeated the cycles. Again and again. And again. With no response.
The protesters had been driven back, prisoners taken while others had dispersed, yet still they chanted, ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
From one of the balconies in an adjacent building, a woman had video recorded the entire affair. After all was over, she would upload it and it would go viral.
Igor lay a long time next to Vasily’s body, sometimes covering him with his own, sometimes simply touching his face, remembering when his son was a child, and how he liked playing checkers, and then basketball and video games, and then the guitar, and how he later enjoyed solving math problems. He was going to school to become an engineer.
He remembered that Vasily dreamed of one day visiting the West, maybe working there for a while before returning to Russia, which he loved.
But none of that would happen now, thought Igor. None of it.
Now everything was gone.
And what would he say to his mother?
Her only child.
What would he say to her?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Republicans Won’t Support Ukraine?

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I read yesterday that US representative Scalise from Louisiana had raised the question of continued support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
He would not commit to continuing with such support should Republicans win majorities in the House and Senate on November 8th.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that the gentleman is running for reelection.
He argues that the moneys spent on Ukraine’s fight for its survival should instead be spent on preparations to confront China’s rise and, generally, on other projects here at home.
Up until now it has been US support that has been the largest in defense of Ukraine. Europe, has contributed too, and the energy shortages and inflationary pressures have hit them the hardest. Yet, the western alliance against the brutal bullying of Putin stands.
Mr Scalise should wipe off his moral compass. It has got foggy. He can’t see clearly anymore. I’m assuming he once did.
But to threaten to withdraw funds from Ukraine is tantamount to saying, ‘Russia, go ahead and kill Ukrainians at will, do what you want with that nation.’
So, no, Mr Scalise, to withhold support from Ukraine now is the equivalent of appeasing Putin.
And Trump also, who’s known to be sympathetic to Putin.
Putin’s strategic mistake in Ukraine was not to have invaded while Trump was in the White House. If he had, he would have, likely, taken over all of Ukraine because they would not have had the means to defend themselves. And the world would be a poorer place as a result.
With the approaching mid term elections, president Biden has to make clear our support of Ukraine’s struggle remains a central issue.
Mr Biden’s exemplary leadership of the western alliance has Putin on his back foot and today, there is a good possibility Ukraine may drive Russia back to its borders.
I am gratified to hear that Ukraine will not respect Russia’s efforts to legitimize the territories it has grabbed from Ukraine by force. Putin has taken to insisting that any attack on those territories would be an attack on Russia itself. But we won’t fall for that lie.
President Biden and his administration are determined to keep supplying Ukraine with what it needs to fight the good fight.
He is fully aware of the enormous benefit the world and America have already derived from Ukraine’s heroic fight.
Ukraine’s valor has reminded us all of the effort needed to protect our freedom. The vigilance, the focus, the never lowering our guard.
These are critical times for our nation and the world. On January 6th 2021, a sitting American president chose to incite a riot to overturn the official result of an election that had defeated him by a wide margin.
Sadly, there are still those who believe his nonsense rhetoric. And even worse, that Trump holds influence over the minds of many confused Americans.
Apparently, he holds influence also over the mind of representative Scalise.
Dear sir, time to wipe off your moral compass. Mind you, those smudges may be hard to clean. But you should try.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Why a Nuclear Deal with Iran?

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Iran is not a good actor.
They’ve gone ahead with selling drones to Russia so it can kill more Ukrainians.
They have bombed our positions in Iraq.
They are strengthening their economic ties with Putin which aids in his aggression.
They’re in constant cyber warfare with Israel and recently launched destructive cyberattacks on Albania, a NATO nation.
They assist Assad in Syria with the brutal repression of its people.
They are violent participants in the strife in Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen.
Yet talks have resumed in an attempt to revive the nuclear deal that Trump had quit in 2018.
When that happened, sanctions were reinstated and that dampened significantly their economy.
The purpose behind the original agreement, drawn up with the US, France, Germany and other nations, was to delay Iran’s effort to enrich uranium so that such heavy metal would not reach the grade needed to produce a nuclear bomb.
Iran’s nuclear research was being closely monitored by international specialists who could certify the degree of uranium enrichment remained in compliance with the terms of the treaty.
But Trump didn’t trust them and pulled out of the deal. On that he was right.
When Biden became president, he opened talks to reinstate the agreement in the belief that diplomacy would work. (before the war started)
Sadly, it doesn’t look that way. The US, France, Germany and other nations have returned to the negotiating table willing to find a solution but Iran has not been cooperative. Given that, in the interim, Iran may have advanced toward their goal of obtaining the uranium they need to make the bomb, the West has insisted on inspection of their facilities to verify the level of uranium’s enrichment. Iran has declined. I can see why. They are likely very close to where they need to be but still want the benefits of reinstating the deal.
I used to think that while Israel was Israel, Iran would not have the bomb. I think differently now. Iran will get its bomb. They have been very diligent and creative about it. And while having the bomb would significantly raise the possibility of a confrontation with the Jewish state, we should also ask if having the bomb would act as a deterrent to avoid MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. It could.
The fact that with a renewed deal Iran would again be able to sell its oil on the open market does not now appear to be a big incentive anymore. They have found ways to bypass the restrictions. For a while, in concert with Russia, they were helping the dictatorship in Venezuela sell their oil. And they now assist Russia in circumventing sanctions by taking deliveries of their crude on the Caspian Sea, then reselling it to other nations to the south.
There is another reason Iran returned to the bargaining table, perhaps the most important. The possibility that if the nuclear deal is reinstated, they would be eligible for a sizeable cash payment, likely in the order of billions of dollars, something apparently specified in the original deal.
But in light of their alliance with Russia, is that the right thing to do?
How can the West be paying Iran anything when they are selling drones to Russia to then kill Ukrainians?
Likewise with oil. It is immoral to be buying oil from a nation that uses those moneys to support Putin.
There will be voices who say, ‘well, with Iran selling us oil, we’ll have less of an energy shortage this winter, and who knows when the war will end? So, let’s deal.’
But they are wrong.
A big part of what has renewed our commitment to freedom in the West has been the morality of the Ukrainian cause. The strength of their heroism.
Putting up with some pain is part of the deal. Part of what gives strength to morality. An incentive to end this war as soon as possible and do so honorably.
‘No, you shall not tread on us,’ have said the Ukrainians, and that is a deeply moral cry.
We were not deaf to that cry and responded.
Iran’s alliance with Russia and their willingness to join in the massacring of Ukrainians is deeply immoral.
We should not count on Iranian oil to alleviate our problems. It is tainted oil.
There may be other reasons we have no knowledge of which may still lead to a deal.
But those reasons should be made public before anything is signed. And if there is outrage, let the outrage be heard.
Greater availability of oil should not be the driver of a new agreement. There is oil elsewhere.
We should pay nothing to Iranians, regardless of what was agreed to before, for they have become allies of Putin’s brutal regime and its actions to enslave another nation.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Yesterday, I saw a clip of Putin speaking to his country. He was angry. He said that representatives of NATO nations were threatening to use nuclear weapons on Russia and that’s why they had to be ready to fire their own nuclear weapons. And he reminded his audience, that their weapons were better. ‘More modern,’ he said. I played the clip back to make sure I heard it right. I had. No one has threatened Putin but inventing a threat will aid in recruiting the next 300 thousand soldiers he needs. Innocent men and women he will use as cannon fodder.
When will it stop?