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

Putin, Stop Now!

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Retreat! Go home! You’ve lost this war.
Stop murdering people, Ukrainians and your own.
The West will not stop supporting Ukrainians and we will not surrender to you or anyone.
We are a free people.
Russians are not.
You have failed. But you don’t have the decency to own up to it, and instead want to sacrifice more of your own brothers and sisters, while firing more missiles to Ukraine to destroy all you can and massacre as many as possible.
Pause when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. Look carefully. Yours is the face of inhumanity and cruelty.
There’s no way back for you. If you dreamt of being revered as a great leader, you failed.
And you failed because you thought you could own other human beings, strip them of free speech and command them to obey you instead.
Those who resisted, you poisoned, incarcerated or killed.
That is you who are.
You have built nothing. You think your nuclear weapons will save you?
They will not.
Because if we give in to you now, we will have to give in tomorrow.
If you fire your nuclear weapons we will fire back.
If New York burns, then Moscow will burn.
And the Chinese know that if that happens, then Shanghai and Beijing will burn too, for the West cannot allow China to be left intact, for they are your accomplices and they will take advantage to dominate everyone they can. That is who the Chinese are at this stage of their development.
Look at them, just starting a big convention to reelect their dictator, Xi Jinping, to another 4 years. They’re very proud of their accomplishments.
So they won’t let you ruin things for them.
If they see you eager to fire on the West, then they’ll turn their nuclear weapons and point them at you, to keep you from destroying what they’ve worked hard to build.
They will not let you drive them to destruction.
You could have done something very different with Russia, a nation with so much talent and so many natural resources. But your ego needed to be fed and you convinced Russians that was a national priority.
It has taken them a while to realize that such deal was costly and at their expense.
But there’s still time for you to stop committing atrocities.
I’m sure Russians will let you enjoy retirement in peace. But they must act now.
It could be anyone stepping up and saying, ‘enough!’
It could be a member of your personal guard, stepping up and saying, ‘You have caused so much destruction, this can’t go on.’
Anyone, please, act now. Russians, you started it. Now stop it.
We earn our freedom every day.

oscarvaldes.medium.com

Biden, Arabs and City Councils

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Saudi Arabia chose to reduce their oil production by 2 million barrels per day at a time when energy prices are fueling worldwide inflation. The move leads to higher prices for oil and Russia will be a big beneficiary.
The action has stirred talk in Congress of retaliation against Saudi Arabia, such as stopping arms sales and removing weapons already in the country.
I think our response is myopic and wrong.
We have been buying less oil from the Saudis as we increased our gas production and now give greater support to renewables.
The Saudis, in turn, have been moving closer to Russia and China.
Like Turkey, they play both sides. India does it, too, but we’re not thinking of retaliating against them.
I think we should take the long view on the Saudis’ behavior.
They are a repressive regime that shares much with Russia and China yet wants to stay open to the West. Let’s not shut the doors. Changes are happening in Saudi Arabia which are, gradually, likely to move the country even closer to the West.
Iran is the problem in the area. Presently there is much unrest and a push to take the clerics out of government. When that happens, there will be a significant realignment of forces in the region.
An American presence that is open and forgiving will be in a better position to influence events.
Not rejoining the Iran Nuclear deal will be a positive development.
I understand Biden’s worry that the effects of the reduction in oil production by the Saudis may have an impact in the upcoming mid term elections by further increasing inflation. But this may be underestimating the American electorate.
The war in Ukraine and the Russian retreat are huge accomplishments for the West and Biden deserves a great deal of credit for it. It is there in plain view.
Are democrats selling this success to undecided voters and enlightened Republicans?
Freedom demands sacrifices and Biden may need to remind voters of it.
Inflation will top off in the near future and ending the war will play a big role.
But to get there we must keep our support for Ukraine going strong.
While a large number of Republicans remain loyal to former president Trump, even though he attempted to deny Biden the presidency and reinstate himself for another term, enough Republicans realize the damage done to the country and that their party needs to repair itself by confronting its antidemocratic side.
Under Trump, Ukraine would have been in Putin’s hands long ago, for Trump would not have objected to the invasion.

As to City Councils.
On Monday, in Los Angeles, a tape recording emerged of a private meeting held a year ago involving three city council members and a labor union chief. During the meeting, disparaging racial remarks were made.
There has been an outcry and demands that the council members step down. The union chief has already done so.
Yesterday, President Biden added his voice to the demands for council members’ resignation.
I think this response is too meddlesome.
Race is a complicated issue. The world is going through a transition dealing with it. Europe is roiled by immigration and race is a big factor.
To expect purity from our elected officials or from any of us is not rational.
People deserve chances to rectify their behaviors.
Additionally, this is a matter for Angelenos to sort out.
Mr Biden’s focus should stay on the big picture.

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

The World is Changing Fast

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The Russian Army is retreating – unthinkable a few weeks ago – and Saudi Arabia just said to Biden, ‘take a hike, we’ll do what we have to do to keep our coffers filled, and if we help Putin get wealthier, you’ll just have to live with it.’ And they added, ‘we know how important affordable gas prices are to you, with the mid term elections coming up and inflation running high, but business is business, and if Republicans take over congress, well, too bad. You should have bowed to us last time you visited, instead of just giving us the fist bump.’
Oh, Saudi Arabians and gulf states, you’re one of a kind.
If it weren’t for us the mullahs in Iran would long ago have swallowed you up, and you’d be kneeling before the ayatollahs, that blessed group of folks that the heavens sent us.
But all is not well there now either. Iranian women, who have long put up with the absurdity of having to live with the head scarves, have been taking to the streets in blatant defiance.
Something about freedom spurs them on. They have only one life to live so why defer to the ruling clerics?
My hope is that the movement they’ve started will keep growing until it overthrows the theocracy. What a wonderful message would they be sending to the world. ‘Rise, sisters, rise! If men don’t give a damn about our unfreedom, then we’ll fight the fight ourselves.’
The heroic battle for freedom in Ukraine deserves much credit for the ongoing changes.
They are inspiring people all over the world, telling us, ‘do not be intimidated, speak out, do not let others cow you into submission.’
Putin’s barbaric invasion has awakened the West. And the West is discovering powers it didn’t know it had. They’re discovering that they can cooperate, join forces, put up with hardships and learn from what mistakes they’ve made.
Neither Putin nor China thought the West could learn how to do so.
Of course, they had been encouraged to think that way by Donald Trump, who somehow got it into his head that America could become an island and live happily ever after.
Now a new balance of power is being forged.
The West and its allies are finding that they will be able to face down China and slowly begin to diminish whatever reliance they now have on them.
An official in Singapore said sometime ago, ‘we don’t want to have to choose between one side and the other.’ But they may have to.
The stronger the West, the more they will be an inspiration for the Chinese people now living under the oppressive rule of the communist party, with their insistence on suppression of free speech and constant surveillance. The communist party just can’t trust their own.
The Chinese are looking at the world and seeing the debacle in Russia. They ask themselves, ‘How come, when Putin calls for people to be enlisted, so many of them run for the border to escape being sent to fight in Ukraine? Isn’t there glory in fighting for your country?’
Not if you’ve not been allowed to have your own voice, like Putin has done in Russia and Xi Jinping is doing in China.
The powerful engines of the internet have helped spread the notion of freedom. Men and women all over the world want to hear their thoughts, want to hear the sound of what they think and share it with others. And they don’t want to live feeling intimidated by their leaders.
Instead, leaders of nations should be agents of change, people with the gift to free their brothers and sisters.
So fight on, brave Iranian women, fight on brave dissident Russians and dissident Chinese. Your time is now. No one should restrict your freedom.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Hijabs and Fertility

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On September 16th, Mahsa Amini, a 22 y/o woman of Kurdish origin, was detained in Tehran by the Morality Police, an outfit dedicated to enforcing strict adherence to the religious mandate of wearing head scarves and robes. She was visiting the city with her family. She died later that day while in custody. Physical abuse while in detention is suspected.
Long repressed resentment has led to protests and many dead across Iran.
Women have seized the moment to go on the offensive and reject the religious strictures aimed at suppressing their femininity. They have taken to publicly burning their hijabs or head scarves. Many have been incarcerated.
Yesterday, a NYT article reported that Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech at a police academy graduation, blamed foreign interference for the disturbances. He cited the US and Israel, along with paid Iranian traitors as the main culprits. Videos on Twitter show scenes of people shot and of protesters at Sharif university, a technology center in Tehran.
But he never mentioned the effect the battle for freedom in Ukraine is having on Iranian women. Never mentioned the drones that Iran is selling Russia so they can more effectively kill Ukrainians.
Iranian women, long fed up with the regime’s repression, want freedom too.
They want their freedom to be women. Why should the gifts that nature gave them be covered up?
Why? To suppress their sexuality? Yes. To hide their looks and the power they have over men? Yes.
Women have reason to be angry that they are denied the option of showing their bodies. Apparently, the regime believes that would be too unsettling for Iranian men.
Allowing women to show their bodies is seen as too disruptive by the theocracy in power.
What will they want next? Political power? NO!
They must be kept in their places, under the control of men. Doing what religion says they ought to do. Bear children and be quiet.
And in a city square somewhere in Iran, I can hear the cry of a proud Iranian woman addressing a crowd of supporters, both women and men, as a bonfire sparkles and crackles before her.
‘It is up to us to change the rules that govern us, up to us women, because we are the most oppressed.’
She has her hijab in one hand as she steps forward and throws it into the bonfire.
Cheers rise from the audience. Some of the women in the audience step up to the bonfire and toss their hijabs into it also.
‘This fight is just starting… so what can we do to make our statement and improve our condition?’ continues the speaker.
And all the women raise their fists and start chanting, ‘Free Iranian women!’
And the speaker says, ‘We need to do something radical to gain our freedom… so let us all stop having sex!’
People in the audience laugh, at first incredulous, asking themselves, is she serious?
‘Yes’, resumes the speaker, ‘Let us stop having sex, even if you’re married. Stop. In the name of freedom. Stop. All women should say, we will not have sex and will not bear children until we are free to be who we are!’
‘Woman power!’ resume the chant from the audience, now more vigorous.
Some of the men in attendance laugh at first, but then slowly start joining in.
‘It has come to that point…’ restarts the speaker, ‘that we have to deny our nation a new generation… until such time as all of us women are granted our freedom.
To control us is unacceptable. The profound disregard for us have shown the ayatollahs to be inept. They should go back to their temples, get on their knees and ask god where was it that they went wrong.
So as difficult as it may seem, I ask that all Iranian women choose chastity… and deny our nation the option of fertility… for it is not a given.
For a woman to be fertile she must be respected… and we are not respected in our land.’
‘Woman power!’ resumes the chant from the audience. ‘Woman power!’
‘Long live Iran!’ cries the speaker, ‘and long live Ukraine… blessed nation and inspirer of people all over the world.’
Applause.
Then a gun shot rings in the night.

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

Dear Russian Military

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The time is now.
Now that Putin is scared of Ukraine’s mounting offensive and growing desperate that the exodus of Russians cries out loudly, ‘we don’t trust you, you’re destroying our nation, do not sacrifice our lives for your lies.’
If he had been sleeping well at night, that has changed.
That cry is haunting him and has opened a precious opportunity for you to act.
Russia has been underperforming as a nation for a long time. You know that.
And you can make a difference.
The world knows of Russia’s economic, intellectual and artistic capacities but yet the nation remains on the margins. There are various reasons for it but lack of sound leadership has been a key factor. It takes a little luck for nations to have good leaders. You have not had such luck.
After being dominated by the czars, the communists took over.
There was a very brief period in the late 1980s until 1991 when Gorbachev brightened your heavens, but then his star dimmed. Boris Yeltsin, who had the distinction of leading the protests that stopped the coup against Gorbachev, went on to make the horrible mistake of appointing Putin as prime minister in 1999.
But opportunities return. There is today a great opening for a courageous Russian military officer to lead the effort to depose Putin.
Your nation cannot and must not allow itself to be degraded the way Putin does.
Think of why you joined the military. If you joined to get a pension then stop reading this and go back to your crossword puzzle. But if you joined because you wanted to do something for your country then this is for you.
To seize the opportunity that is now before you, a great deal of courage is needed. It will not be easy. You will be risking your life and will need fellow officers to work in concert with you.
But the rewards will be enormous, for you will change the world.
You will have a chance to free millions of people, to change the present geopolitical balance and to remind the oppressed everywhere, that men and women of courage are here today and willing to step up in the hour of need.
Putin must be stopped. The West has done an excellent job forming a united front and supporting Ukraine. But it is not enough. We need you now.
Dear Russian military, we know you exist. There was the bombing death of a spokesperson for Russia’s Far Right a few weeks ago and just this last Monday, 9/26, the Nordstream pipeline was damaged by explosions that created 4 gas leaks. Maybe it came from you or maybe it didn’t, but both actions required very specific information.
I do not advocate violence against anyone, not even against Putin, for there are other ways that can be used to neutralize him.
But for you to remain passive in the face of the atrocities committed in the name of Russia, does not make any sense. It makes you a de facto accomplice. I am sure that was not why you joined the military.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s actions had a resoundingly positive worldwide impact. Germany is united today because of him. And though he subsequently ran into much resistance at home, I don’t think he should have chosen to voluntarily cede power to Yeltsin in 1991.
Such decisions can have enormous consequences.
And yet, the spirit of Gorbachev lives on. The light that he shone on the world can still be seen and is there to guide Russia and its courageous soldiers in the effort to remove Putin.
Open your hearts and minds and step up.
Now is the time to join with Ukraine in the quest for freedom.

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

Biden and Putin Talk

Photo by Ramaz Bluashvili on Pexels.com

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.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com