Herschel Walker Runs for Senator

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The man who shined as an athlete – a football player – during the 1980s, is now running for Senator of the State of Georgia at the national level. He is running against the incumbent, Raphael Warnock, a pastor at the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King used to preach.
They are alike in that both are African Americans.
But they are very different in their political substance.
Blacks are a third of the state’s population, so it will be up to the White vote to make the choice. It is a very important choice for Georgians to make.
Walker has not been active in politics during his life. Warnock is all about politics and helping push for African Americans to step out and assert themselves in the national scene.
Walker did not come up with the idea of becoming a Senator himself. It was Trump who did. Trump who persuaded him to – all of a sudden – become political and cast a vote in crucial matters for our nation.
The problem is that it won’t be Walker making the choices, but Trump.
If Herschel Walker had distinguished himself in another field, after his stellar run as a football player, then he might be a viable candidate. But he has not.
Why Georgians would even consider him as a candidate is not a good sign. The good news is that it is only some Georgians who are thinking that way.
From what I hear, Walker is buying completely into Trump’s message.
Walker could argue, ‘wait, look at the current senate, look at all those educated white men with long political careers who cast their votes based on what instructions they get from Mar-A-Lago, so what’s wrong with taking instructions?’
What’s wrong is that they are puppets.
Herschel Walker needs to ask himself if he wants to join in with that or be his own man.
The glory days of the 1980s, carrying the football down the field to the goal line, will forever be present in the minds of Americans. Thank you for that. But politics is a whole different game.
In an article that appeared in the NY Times on 10/2/22, Walker was quoted as saying to a mostly white audience in his hometown of Wrightsville this last August, ‘don’t let anyone tell you that you’re racist.’ But how do you know that?
The Ku Klux Klan had a long history in Georgia. The nation’s collective efforts to stamp them out has taken years and the lives of many.
To run for a senate seat in Washington DC from a state with such history demands a thorough knowledge of the battles your state has fought. You do not have that knowledge and have shown no inclination to acquire it.
It is only now, that Trump has urged you to run, that you have felt the enthusiasm for the job.
You might see it as one more chance to make a run with the football all the way to the goal line.
But that is not what politics is.
A critical part of becoming well integrated human beings is to know who we are, to know our limits. Your agreeing to be thrust into this race by Donald Trump does not speak well for you.
He wants to use you for his ends.
I don’t think you would win anyway, but should you do so, you would be taking over for Mr Warnock, a man with a long history of committing to empowering African Americans. And you would be doing your brothers and sisters a profound disservice.
Football was your field of endeavor. You worked hard and you shined. Politics is a whole different thing. Like in anything else, you have to work hard to stand out. Raphael Warnock has done that. You have not.
Please do not be a puppet to Donald Trump.
Do not do that to yourself.

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

Hate Russia?

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Two old friends, Pete and Sandy, get together for breakfast at a diner in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pete – Heard about the two doctors who got charged with conspiracy?
Sandy – No, I didn’t.
Pete – Read about it yesterday. They were working at a military base, I think in Virginia, and they contacted the Russian embassy offering to help.
Sandy – Oops.
Pete – Well, our intelligence services found out and had an undercover agent interview them. One of them was willing to provide medical records of soldiers to Russia to see if they could use them.
Sandy – That would’ve been the start…
Pete – It came out that they were disturbed by the hatred for Russia here in the US.
Sandy – How old are they?
Pete – Late thirties.
Sandy – Amazing. Do you hate Russia?
Pete – I don’t. I’m angry at them. Angry that they let themselves be bamboozled by Putin.
Sandy – It goes back to the implosion of the Soviet Union during Gorbachev… and their feeling diminished in the world stage as a result. Putin slowly worked up that sentiment… stoking hopes that one day they’d get it all back.
Pete – But they’d have to surrender their freedom.
Sandy – Something similar is happening in China today. Surrender your freedom today and one day – sometime in the future – we’ll be on top of the world.
Pete – But you won’t get your freedom back.

They laugh.

Sandy – Once given, it’s gone. You have to fight for it to get it back.
Like you, I am angry at Russians… how the majority has gone along with the massacring of Ukrainians. But they are waking up. The massive exodus of people wanting to avoid the draft has stung Putin. Yet he still has his supporters.
Pete – When will they get angry enough to remove Putin is the question, because they’re sure taking their sweet time.
Sandy – It’s going to take a while because they’ve identified with him… letting him sink his claws into them, as they yearned to be great again… even though other nations were passing them by in terms of economic growth. The US, China, Japan, Germany, India, the UK, France, Brazil, Italy and Canada, all have greater GDPs than they do. And it has to hurt because they know they have the human capital to shine, in addition to an abundance of natural resources. But they couldn’t break away from the spell Putin had cast over them. ‘We will be great again,’ kept chanting the sorcerer in the Kremlin, just stick with me. And most Russians went along.
Pete – ‘We will be great gain.’ Maybe that’s where our own sorcerer got that from.
Sandy – Probably. He loves Putin.
Pete – I hope our people get that.
Sandy – I’m an optimist, I think they have.
Pete – I’m not so sure. With what we saw on January 6th (2021), a clear attempt of Trump’s to install himself for a second term, we should have all stood up as one person, livid with rage at the blatant abuse of power. But that didn’t happen. Instead, there was significant opposition to the creating of the congressional committee investigating the incident, and there are many, many Republicans still in awe of the man. So something is very wrong in America.
Sandy – Putin saw that and chose to invade.
Pete – It wasn’t Biden pulling out of Afghanistan which gave him the impetus, it was Trump’s behavior and the free pass he got from a large number of Americans.
Sandy – You’re angry, Pete.
Pete – I am. And in spite of the sad spectacle of Republicans in both houses waiting for instructions from the sorcerer in Mar-a-Lago, there’s the possibility Republicans may hold both houses after the midterm elections. I can’t believe it. While we pour money to support Ukrainians fighting for their freedom, many here at home have tried to look the other way when one of our own has tried to negate the results of fair elections.
Sandy – The dissonance is alarming.
Pete – Yet you still think the majority is getting it?
Sandy – I do.
Pete – Immigration is an issue that needs to be fixed. Both sides have to sit down and come to an agreement. But compared to Trump’s attempt to usurp power on January 6th, immigration is child’s play.
Sandy – Maybe our differences will have to become even sharper before we sit at the table to try and build bridges.
Pete – They’re sharp enough.
Sandy – Inflation was expected in the wake of all the financial support Americans got for covid, but now it’s being held against Biden. The big picture is not seen.
Pete – If Biden wants to help democrats win in the mid terms he needs to campaign against Trump, how the man is a Putin admirer, and then give himself due credit for his tremendous role in forging an alliance with European nations to push back Putin. He has to do that. That issue is his. Trump could never have done what Biden has.
Sandy – We have to educate the electorate…
Pete – Good luck on that.
Sandy – So, do we hate Russia?
Pete – Of course not… but courage has been in short supply in their land… so they have to get it back. Meanwhile, we have to be mindful that we don’t lose ours.

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?

Immigration and the Upcoming Elections

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It was the Arizona governor – Ducey – who started it, then came Abbott from Texas and now DeSantis from Florida. Gathering up undocumented immigrants who, having crossed the border, detained and released pending a hearing of their case, were put in a bus (DeSantis uses planes) and sent to a different state willing to provide assistance until the time of their hearing.
The governors reasoned they would be endearing themselves to the voters in the upcoming elections by stressing their loyalty to Trump.
DeSantis recently put a group of undocumented Venezuelans, fleeing the communist dictatorship in their country, on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard, the elegant island resort in Massachusetts.
DeSantis’ choice of destination had an added punch. ‘You’re well off over there, aren’t you, in your privileged island, so you deal with it.’
Those bused or flown may or may not have valid reasons to seek asylum in this country, but the governors are saying, ‘we don’t have to go into all that, we’re just not going to feed or lodge you or provide any assistance whatsoever.’
The governors’ actions, however, won’t make much of a difference. Trump’s standing is slowly eroding and there’s no stopping the decline.
From the undocumented’s perspective, better to be in a place where they understand their plight and are willing to provide assistance, than to be in a place where they are unwelcome.
I can imagine a phone conversation between a recent arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, and his relatives back in Venezuela, ‘Where are you, Pepe?’, ‘Martha’s Vineyard…’ ‘What?’ ‘It’s very nice, a lot of rich people live here…’, ‘Not a bad start, brother…’, ‘Agree. I’m sure a lot of Trump’s people would like to be here, too.’ They laugh.
Immigration is a thorny issue. It needs mending.
For that, the ideal would be to have a national dialogue. A dialogue that is filled with data showing just how much immigrants contribute to this country.
Labor economists who are knowledgeable on the matter would provide the figures.
I am sure business would want a seat at the table where decisions were to be made and I don’t doubt they would speak clearly on behalf of allowing immigration to continue, with whatever modifications were necessary.
But should immigration be severely restricted simply to satisfy Trump’s base? No.
No, because we need the labor and the creativity and the dynamism that immigration offers.
The browning of America is inevitable. And immigration has played a role in lessening the antiblack sentiment in this country and helped heal those wounds.
The midterms are near and Republicans are worried.
Many Republicans are upset with the overturning of Roe vs Wade. Particularly women.
Biden has shown exemplary leadership to assist the enormous heroism of the Ukrainian people.
As a result, Ukraine is starting to turn the war around.
Many Republicans are also seething with envy that it wasn’t them doing the leading, making it hard to stomach that their man, in Mar-a-Lago, cannot hide his admiration for Putin. Talk about going against the tide of history.
Biden has eliminated a large portion of student debt, freeing resources and minds who are most grateful and will show up at the ballot box.
Covid is still sidelining people which adds to our labor shortages, so whatever immigration can bring, is most welcome.
Inflation has proven difficult to deal with but progress has been made and the price of gasoline has steadily gone down. With interest rates rising globally we may see a recession but there is no consensus on how severe it will be.
So, the busing shenanigans is a side show, with no relevance in the wide spectrum of things.
With added weaponry, Ukraine is likely to push Russia back to behind its borders and a stronger West will better organize its efforts to neutralize the influence of the China-Russia alliance.
To get a little ahead of myself, in the next presidential elections, Americans will reelect a democrat, whether Biden chooses to run or not.
The Republican side is now confused and will remain so for a while, unable to provide an attractive alternative.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Putin in his Bunker

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He’s alone in the room. He’s ordered dinner but he has some time yet.
It’s an ample room so he has space to stroll.
On his desk a series of phones are neatly arranged, along with some papers that arrived earlier which he has not finished reading.
On the wall across, in front of the desk, a bank of monitors show images of the war.
He’s standing in the center of the room, hands behind his back, head slightly bowed.

‘I admit… the invasion has been a mistake. I underappreciated Biden… and I overestimated the power of the Far Right in America. I clearly did not imagine that Europe would embrace America after the way that Trump had treated them.
And also grossly underestimated the will of the Ukrainian people… and that a small time comedian like Zelensky would have it in him to rise as a leader.
Those are grave mistakes on my part… and I’m not coming up with a way to undo them.’

He walks a short stretch and stops.

‘I am surprised that the Russian people have been so cooperative… so willing to believe everything I say to them. Which gives me hope that I can pull out of this hole I’ve dug myself into. But there’s no hiding from the fact that I will be a diminished leader on the world stage.’

He rubs his face slowly.

‘That hurts. I’m not winning the war. I didn’t imagine that America would be so vigorous in their defense of Ukraine. That they would be willing to spend so much money to back them up.
Why, even Republicans have joined in the effort. I missed that completely.
Biden has not got enough credit for his leadership of the western alliance…but he will… which is why I think he will be reelected… if he chooses to run… and does not fall ill.
As to Trump… he’s done… he won’t recover.
But will I?
I’ve fallen from a position of being feared, even respected… to being called a killer. And what leader from the top nations of the world will want to meet with me?
I’ll have to content myself with meeting with Viktor Orban, Modi, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, Marcos and other lesser figures.’

He turns around to see images of the bombing of a Russian depot in Crimea on the TV monitors.

‘A lot of Russians have died because of my decisions. How long will they be patient? Daria Dugin’s car was bombed. It was probably meant for Aleksandr, her father. Will they try to get to me? Yes. But I’m well protected.
Still, it won’t look good if an attempt is made on my life.’

He walks a few paces forward.

‘What options do I have? The way things are going, I don’t think we can beat the Ukrainians. Not with their motivation to fight and their help from the West.
I have talked about using nuclear weapons but if I do, retaliation will come. Xi has been very clear that it would be a bad choice.
But there are other things I could try… like targeting Zelensky himself and bringing him here, if he survives. I’ve had a hit squad training for that purpose for a while.
It would be demoralizing for his people. In the confusion, we push forward, gain more territory and right away ask for negotiations to end the war. So we split Ukraine. Having gained territory I can call it a victory.
I then offer to resume gas shipments at lower prices and that would relieve pressure on Europe.
As to Zelensky, I’d keep him as a hostage… put him on trial for crimes against humanity.’

He walks forward a few more steps, looking up now, more confident.

‘I’ll never regain the world standing I had but… so long as Russians want me, I’ll be their leader.’

A call comes in announcing that dinner is ready. He buzzes in the waitress, Hanna, who brings in the dishes and sets them on his desk. She bows, turns and leaves.

‘I’ve diminished myself as a man by my own hand and yet… I still see a future for myself.’

He smiles.

‘Sooner or later… some courageous Russians will encircle my bunker and tell me it’s all over. Just go into retirement, Mr Putin. It could be anybody… anybody with the guts to risk their lives. I know they’re out there… waiting for the right moment to strike. But they’ll have to be good… very good.’

He sits down to eat. He inspects the bottle of wine and opens it. In the last couple of months he’s only been drinking wines from 1999. The year he first became prime minister. He pours himself a glass, swirls the wine, then raises the glass for a toast.

‘To my future. To never giving up’.

He drinks. ‘Delicious.’

He turns off the monitors on the wall and looks at his music selection. He picks Tchaikovsky. His 1812 Overture. The Story of Napoleon’s defeat by the Russian army.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts

The Republican Senator

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He’s in his office, in Washington D.C., thinking about his circumstances.
He’s not pleased.
The congressional hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th are still going on. He wishes they would go away, but there they are, day after day.
Secretly – he hasn’t said a word about it to anyone – he wishes he’d had the guts that Liz Cheney has shown, taking a leading role in investigating Donald Trump’s part in the attack.
She is doing what she thinks needs to be done, not what her constituency wants her to do.
That’s the hard part, he thinks to himself. Going against your constituency.
‘It takes a certain kind of courage.’
‘The congressional investigation has uncovered enough, as if the facts themselves, as reported by the press at the time of the event, hadn’t been sufficient.’
‘Donald Trump had incited the crowd to march on the Capitol with the intention of disrupting the counting of the electoral ballots. Clearly an assault on democracy.’
Yet there he is, as Senator, sitting in his office, unable to say so.
A pang of shame fills him for a moment.
If he spoke out against Trump he’d face harsh criticism from his constituency. They would demand that he resign. And then, what would he do with his life?
All the attention he gets now would be gone.
No more ‘Senator, tell us about this, Senator, tell us about that…’ No more reporters chasing after him, photographers clicking their cameras, newspapers quoting him, lobbyists wanting his approval, trips here or there to investigate this or that, meetings with foreign leaders… and worst of all… losing the possibility of being picked for secretary of state or… dream of dreams… as a running mate for the presidency.
All he needs to do to keep those possibilities alive is to not criticize Trump.
All he needs is to simply keep lying to himself, repeating that on January 6th, Trump didn’t really incite his followers to march on capitol hill to disrupt the electoral ballot counting… that what he really was doing was asking his supporters to remind the ballot counters of their sacred duty to the country. Remind them to do the patriotic thing. But then things got out of hand.
‘But you cannot hang that on Trump,’ he repeats to himself.
‘The president would never, ever, try to disrupt the democratic process. Far from it, instead, Trump would offer his life to defend it. Because that’s who he is.’
The senator takes a deep breath. ‘It will blow over. I just have to wait it out. We all have to.’
‘I just don’t think I could live without all that attention I get every day.’
‘I’ll admit, it’s a little sad… to have become such attention junkie. But I would get very depressed if I didn’t have it. In a way, though, to have become so dependent on the opinions of my constituency is unsettling… I’m their mouthpiece.’
The thought of Liz Cheney comes to him again. ‘How can she do it? Surely, she won’t be reelected. So what will she do with her life?’
‘Hmm. Maybe, because of her willingness to disagree, she’ll get some nice offers to be a board member with some big companies. She’d get stock options and so forth. And she’d have that pride, that lasting satisfaction, that she’s made a name for herself. People might revile her, but they will remember her for her guts. That’s a nice way to be remembered.’
The Senator leans forward, rubs his face.
‘All is not lost. I could still change my mind.’
‘What makes matters worse is that I don’t think Trump will win the Republican nomination. There will be a big rift in the party and DeSantis will be chosen to run in 2024. But we won’t win the presidency, unless Biden screws up… but so far, unbelievably, he’s holding up.’
‘I don’t think we’ll win the presidency because Biden’s done a good job on the war in Ukraine… and I don’t think we’ll go into a recession… and if we do, it will be mild.’
The Senator stands up and goes to the window where he stands looking out.
‘But what if… I changed my mind and… came out in support of Liz Cheney?’
He smiles.
‘The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and right away Trump would endorse someone to run against me this Fall.’
He laughs.
‘My family would be all upset… but I’d explain and they’d settle down. I’d tell them that I have to do it for myself… for my self-respect. I’d figure out something to do with my time. It’s not like I haven’t earned a decent living before. And if, later on, I’d want to return to Washington, I’m sure I can find a job as a lobbyist.’
‘But do I have it in me to go against the pack?’
He looks out, a determined expression now coming to his face.
‘Deep inside, we’d all want to be like Liz Cheney… and maybe… just maybe… I’m due for a good fight in my life.’

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts

Oh Italy!

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You keep turning right politically.
You keep mishandling the immigration issue.
Granted, you’re right there, at the front of the problem. Immigrants from Africa keep coming to your shores, but there are ways to handle the problem.
Immigration from less developed areas is the leading problem we face today.
Technology has made the world smaller. People anywhere can see how much more there is elsewhere and they want to be part of it. They reason they live only once and so want the opportunities they are denied in their homelands because of their flawed political and economic institutions.
Man was born in Africa. We’re all Africans. I am African.
Advanced nations need to do more to assist the evolution of poorer nations, and thus help create conditions for those born there to commit to assist in their national betterment.
Until then, the desperate will risk their lives in search of a better life.
Until the needed structural changes come about in their homelands, we need to work with the immigrant.
Limits need to be set, of course, and every nation has a right to do so, but show kindness and tolerance to the desperate knocking at your door and begging to be let in. Begging for respite.
You are a creative nation. You gave us the Renaissance. The world knows of your enormous creative potential.
Do not turn back on it. Exercise it. Let it shine fully. Come up with new solutions.
I worry that your turning right politically is countering the creative energies you are capable of.
I worry that some of your politicians have openly embraced Putin.
I worry that you sympathize with a leader like Viktor Orban, in Hungary, who openly states his nation does not want diversity. Is that sensible to say in a world growing more and more diverse?
Is that not being like the ostrich and burying your head in the sand?
Dare to lead, Italy! Dare to embrace diversity and it will enrich you.
Have faith in your capacity to adapt, to invent, to show the world the way we should go.
Do not flinch from your responsibilities as a nation with such rich history.
Sure, there was a time when you embraced fascism, but you evolved.
Do not go back.
You are a highly capable nation. Be true to your heritage. Meet the hard problems of our time.
Choose leaders who value and promote independence of thought, who challenge you to use your brain, not to blindly follow them.
Do not take your cue from leaders like Trump in America who has made every effort to turn off dialogue in our land.
Rise, Italy, rise and dare to light up the torch of reason like you once did.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

PS: Do not do like Britain who, in one of their darkest moments, recently came up with a scheme to send unwelcome immigrants to Rwanda.

2024 Elections

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The Republican party has a steep uphill battle for the 2024 presidential elections.
The footprint that Trump has left will be hard to erase.
That’s how toxic it has been.
The fact that Trump is still in the running for the nomination is baffling, but that’s clear evidence of how confused the party is.
Immigration is the central issue.
Trump seized on it to rally support but couldn’t come up with an answer to the problem.
Immigration needs limits. Enforceable limits. We need borders and the means to sustain them.
But we can’t do without immigration.
The faction of the Republican party who wants to severely restrict immigration would cripple the nation if they had their say.
It is true that we need to bolster the opportunities for advancement for Americans now in the lower earning rungs of our society, but we still need to keep open the doors for qualified immigrants to come to this country.
This is our advantage over China and Russia. They are closed off to immigration. That is hurting them.
The force that immigration is has a transformative effect on any nation. And it is overwhelmingly a positive one.
Europe has been struggling with immigration for years and, to their credit, they’re still at it.
China and Russia just choose not to deal with the problem. And it is their loss.
Looking at the Republican field for the nomination for president, I see little to suggest that a Republican candidate can go up successfully against Biden, if he chooses to run, or another democratic candidate, say Harris or Newsom.
Republican candidates are failing on the issues. Overturning Roe vs Wade will do little to invigorate the party. The majority of American women want to keep their right to choose.
Had Trump been elected instead of Biden, Putin would by now have annexed Ukraine and invited Trump to the ceremonies.
In the press conference that would have followed, Trump would have been asked by a reporter if he thought Putin had the right to take over Ukraine, and Trump would have said, ‘I don’t see why not, he was feeling encircled by NATO. We need to give him his space.’
And then Putin would have walked over and handed him a Cossack hat, as a tribute to his far reaching understanding of how the world works. And Trump would have put it on. Then said, ‘Look, Russia is a great country, and they need their space. By not arming the resistance in Ukraine we have saved many lives, and America’s closer ties with Russia will help us deal with the menace of China.’
Putin would have smiled and thought to himself, ‘We need to get this guy reelected a third term.’
Trump and freedom don’t mix. His legacy of obscurantism will last for some years.
Still, there are enlightened sectors in the Republican party who might push forward a sane candidate to run against the democrats. I think that candidate would be John Kasich.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts.