Is Putin Unhinged Mentally

The craziness in the Ukraine is beginning to look like an Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy novel complete with an existential threat to mankind. “Maniacal Russian despot attacks helpless former Soviet Union SSR and threatens to use nuclear weapons to fend off interference by the US.” It’s a daunting story line.

I’m beginning to think Vladimir Putin is off his rocker. All his strategic and tactical moves in Ukraine make no sense. He has lost the respect of virtually all peace-loving nations globally. Maybe not all nations, the leaders of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and some rogue African nations are probably siding with the mad Russian.

We haven’t heard a peep from China. Xi Jinping is probably cooking up a nefarious plan to attack Taiwan given the tepid response of Joe Biden towards Russia’s latest foray into Europe. I suspect Xi is ready to take advantage of our weak US president and leader.

So what’s going to happen next? Here are some possibilities. 1. Putin defeats the hapless Ukrainian army and puts Zelenskyy on trial for crimes against humanity. 2. Putin defeats the Ukraine and rebuilds his Army to move against former Balkan SSRs. 3. Putin agrees to a cessation of violence and demands that Ukraine agrees to never join NATO. 4. Biden threatens a real war in Europe if Putin attacks any former SSRs that are now members of NATO. Keep in mind every member of NATO is committed to fight against any aggressor towards NATO members.

The big question is whether Russia will, under any circumstances, test the patience of the US and Europe and risk a larger scale war that could include nukes. Putin has indirectly implied that he will use weapons of mass destruction if the US or Europe interfere with his plans.  Does this include the reunification of the Iron Curtain?

The choices Putin has made up to now are puzzling prognosticators. Does anyone really believe a coherent Putin might initiate a nuclear war to regain control of a few less than impressive former members of the Soviet Union? Has Putin gone off the deep end? Are any senior officials challenging Putin about his actions that threaten global peace? What if Putin orders a nuclear strike? Will Russian generals execute such a plan? Is the world at risk of a nuclear holocaust?

I’m getting existential for good reason. In the US, a person who becomes president cannot launch nuclear weapons without concurrence of others. Does Russia have the same failsafe arrangements?

Large wars have resulted because of errors in judgment and mistakes by former leaders. Mutual destruction protection does not work for insane leaders of countries with nuclear weapons. The leaders of the world should think about this, after this sordid chapter of history ends.

In the meantime, who is going to stop Putin? Zelenskyy wants to negotiate. Putin thinks he’s an empty suit.

Someone in Russia better be monitoring Putin’s battle plans to ensure none of it includes nuclear weapons.

Putin’s Ukraine Invasion Is Insane

My prediction of a Putin bluff regarding the Ukraine is not looking good at this moment. The power crazed leader of Russia is determined to make trouble in the Baltic countries, while attempting to re-assimilate the former SSRs. NATO guarantees should mitigate this latter possibility.

Putin’s gambit makes no sense from any perspective. Politically, he has alienated most of the civilized world. Putin’s invasion is taking us back to the years before World War II when Hitler overran European nations at his leisure in violation of international law. Russia has lined up thousands of tanks and heavy artillery along its border with Ukraine. One might ask why is this outrageous action important to Russia? Is it ego, political, financial? It’s difficult to see the upside of Putin’s erratic behavior.

It’s possible that Russia will end hostilities after re-assuming Ukraine territory that has strong Russian ties in the eastern part of the country, an annexation à la Crimea. But, Putin has amassed thousands of troops close to Kiev in a likely preparation to assault the capital.

Russia is temporally riding high because of the soaring prices of oil and gas. This is a passing moment and prices will decrease moving forward as producers drill more. Liberal efforts in the United States to decrease oil and gas production will reverse as producers are attracted to higher fossil fuel prices and the US changes its policies to avoid yet another oil crisis.

When prices fall, Russia’s windfall cash flow will subside, and the country will be ready for bankruptcy once again. This will be the beginning of the end of the Putin regime.

You would think the crazed leader of Russia would be saving for a rainy day. No. Instead he is mortgaging the future of his country by mobilizing and moving tanks, troops and armaments to the Balkans. The impending economic disaster will become a political disaster for the current leaders of Russia. 

And what about the US reaction to Russia’s aggression?  It was pathetic. Our country is virtually leaderless. Nickel and dime sanctions don’t threaten self-proclaimed conquerors like Putin. We should be going all in and doing everything possible to up the costs of Putin’s strategy. Decreasing defense spending is not such a good idea when there are megalomaniacs at play throughout the world.

Every US sanction should be directed at Russia’s cash reserves. We should make it difficult for Russia to sell oil and gas and move military assets from place to place. We should completely shut down Russia’s ability to pay for and receive payments for everything they do internationally. And we should encourage our allies to follow suit.

Putin is going to spend billions overrunning the Ukraine. What will he get in return? Tell me, because I can’t think of anything except a bad reputation. Russia is ripe for a change in its leadership.

The same is true of American leadership. We have the wrong person in the White House to combat this dangerous situation. 

Putin Is Going To Back Off

Vladimir Putin has come a long way since being a member of the KGB. According to Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, he was a shy man who was intimidated by a US president, George W. Bush, 20 plus years ago.

Today Vlad’s is now a full-fledged megalomaniac and certainly not shy any longer. With higher oil prices, Russia is in the money. And so, Vlad has decided to take the world to the doorstep of a great war to wrest concessions from the West that are seemingly irrelevant. Russia is the only country that acts progressively more belligerent and aggressive when fossil fuels go up in price. Vlad probably hasn’t gotten the memo that fossil fuels are going to decline in value as the world gets deeper into climate change. Or maybe he has and wants one more bite of the apple.

This may be Russia’s last chance to bring back the good old days, not quite by making Putin a real czar, but by reassembling all the former SSR’s of Russia that can supposedly act as a buffer between Western Europe and Russia. Of course, This is an exaggeration. If the US got into a shooting match with Russia, the guy with the most ICBMs and nuclear weapons, not tanks and soldiers, would have the edge. If nukes were put into play, they could easily destroy the world as we know it today. Escalation from a small confrontation to a large worldwide maelstrom is what the world needs to worry about.  

The domination game that Russia and China are playing makes little sense. It would be wiser and more profitable to dominate smaller nations with valuable resources as allies not as satellites. Occupying foreign places, even if they are next door to the aggressor, is an expensive undertaking. In many situations you can gain political influence and abscond natural resources without using your soldiers to occupy. 

Vlad is doing a lousy negotiating his with the West. Nobody likes a bully, especially one that is always looking for a fight and threatening others with advanced weapon systems. The US has suffered in this regard continuously in the 20th and 21st centuries. Being blackballed is not good politics or economics for Vlad and his oligarch buddies. I think he bit off more than he can chew in this situation.

If Russia invades Ukraine, the world will line up behind the US, something that Russia does not want to happen. The West, led by the US, is going to shut down a big chunk of Russia‘s oil business and ability to use the international banking system. And what for? To gain a foothold in Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus?

I am still convinced that Russia will not invade. It just makes no sense from any perspective.

Will Russian Go To War With The US?

Ever since the latest Russian troop build-up began on the border of the Ukraine, I’ve been skeptical about Vladimir Putin’s intentions. Would the megalomaniac intentionally start a continental or world war by invading a sovereign country? Doubtful.

I appreciate Russian angst about having a country loyal to the West on its border, or part of NATO. And it doesn’t surprise me that Putin wants to stop any former SSR’s from joining NATO, but are these reasons to start a war?

The downsides to Russia initiating a conflict and occupying a country include extraordinarily costs, maybe more than Russia can afford. At today’s oil prices, perhaps Russia has the cash flow to fund a war and an occupation for a short time. But what if oil prices decrease markedly or the West effectively closes the North Stream 2 pipeline, a major source of revenue for Russia?

The US may also cut off Russia’s access to the world banking system and abscond funds from Putin’s oligarch friends.

What if Biden gains the cooperation of other peace-loving countries against Russia? This existential danger to Russia could affect Putin’s ability to sustain his regime.

Yesterday, I read in the newspaper that Putin’s advisors are saying there are still a number of possible diplomatic solutions to the dispute. Seems to me that Biden has the upper hand and should not let Russia off the hook.

The dangers of an expansion of hostilities is more likely to occur if each party (the US and Russia), continues to mobilize troops, planes, ships and armaments. An invasion by Russia of a sovereign nation is one of the most audacious moves Putin could make. He will be demonized by all of Europe and the US.

Why is this happening now? Russia, and China for that matter, believe the US has weak leadership. It’s not a coincidence that both countries are acting far more aggressive than before the election. Biden has proven he is not up to the job of controlling and manipulating our greatest enemies. Incidentally, the actions of Iran (producing a nuclear weapon) and North Korea (launching ballistic rockets) are further evidence of American weakness.

I’m going out on a limb, but I don’t think Russia will invade the Ukraine, especially if given a chance to save face. Biden must make some minor concessions to Putin, and visa versa, to prevent the relatively minor dispute from mushrooming into a calamity.


I promised some of my readers that I would look at the sunny side of the world and not focus exclusively on global negativity. This is a difficult thing to do given the plethora of dangers facing America and people throughout the world, including a war in the Ukraine and a continuing threat from viruses.

So, forgive me. I have something on my mind and when this occurs, I must write. The topic is pain, all types of pain that humans must deal with every day.

Humans spend an inordinate amount of time trying to alleviate pain. Pain comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be physical, a toothache or a back spasm. It could be emotional, romantic, mental or stress related. When pains assail us, we usually react by trying to deal with it using aspirin (for headaches), prescribed drugs (for injuries) and so on.

There are hundreds of medicines available to alleviate pain. We expect our doctors to tell us which remedies are best for what ails us and to ensure that medications do not have side effects or react with each other. As we get older, pains grow in severity, and sometimes our efforts to rid them forces us to use stronger habit-forming drugs.

The most obvious drug that has created a worldwide disaster is oxycodone. The movie “Dopesick” is a real-life dramatization about how a pharmaceutical company fraudulently earned billions selling a drug that eliminated pain and was not supposed to be habit-forming.

The company’s salespeople convinced doctors to prescribe the medication for many types of maladies. They included injuries that occurred on the job and all kinds of physical pain resulting from sports, accidents and just old age. The world wanted a magic bullet to fight against pain, and they got it. Unfortunately, the drug was highly addictive, even as the maker said it wasn’t, and stopping the use of oxycodone is a monumental effort that results in horrible withdrawal issues.

This essay is about some of the trials I have had with pain, many of which were affiliated to sports activities. I’ve attempted to “lighten up” the episodes elucidated below, but I can assure you they were traumatic. The morale of the story is that we all will have episodes of pain, and we must be diligent about which medication we take to fend it off.

For my whole life, I have dealt with pain. This was not a problem because I was fairly good about it accepting my burden. As you might know, I was an avid athlete as a child and into adulthood. Athletes who play sports such as football, rugby, long distance running and skiing often have injuries.

I vividly remember suffering from childhood diseases and maladies including measles, German measles mumps and chicken pox. These were vicious attacks on my body that most kids in the 50s and 60s had to deal with. I depended upon my doctors to alleviate the pain affiliated with these sicknesses.

While in high school playing football, I injured my knee when I was blocked below the waist. I went to see a doctor who specialized in high school sports injuries. All the good players wanted to see him when they were hurt. He guaranteed to have you ready for next weeks’ game. A lot of people thought the doc was a quack. I could care less, so long as I healed quickly and experienced less pain. The doc was a bit crazed as he raced in and out of examination rooms. I had to see him three times a week for my injury.

His most insane quirk was a required injection every time you went to his office. He loved injecting football studs who were frightened of needles. Nobody had any idea what the hell this guy was injecting into us. For those big linemen, who were hired assassins and scared sh–less about injections, he would sneak up on them while they were being treated with electric shock machines and inject them. Then he would proceed to use the needles as darts throwing them into the wall.

I had to shave my leg from the groin down to my ankle because it needed to be taped for me to play. TMI, I was pretty hairy in those days, so shaving was an ordeal, and my hair grew back quickly. In fact, the first time I shaved my leg, with my parents hovering over me, I cut myself along my shin, and it bled profusely. My mom started screaming, and dad threw a fit.

The next ordeal was taking the tape off a day or two later. My teammates would gather around to witness the “celebratory ripping of the tape.” It was done in one fell swoop by one of my sadistic teammates. I screamed every time.

This is a funny memory, but I must say that I suffered from excruciating physical pain along with the pain of sitting out a game. I welcomed the meds that eased my discomfort. It was a trap that I did not fall into.

A second memory was when I was an active runner and participated in marathons. I ran in seven races over a decade. Training for these torturous events occurred over the entire year. I ran a lot of miles each day before work and a lot more on the weekends. I was not a greyhound by any means, at 200 pounds. My marathon times were on either side of four hours. Not too shabby for a big guy. Right?

But what you should realize is that I suffered like a dog from pounding away on the streets and the road around Central Park. For ten years, I could not touch either of my Achilles tendons. They were perpetually swollen and angry. I could not put my feet on my desk for fear that the tendons might touch the edge. I never took any meds to alleviate the pain. I gutted it out even though it affected how I walked and how I slept.

And then there were the races themselves. My first one was a New York Marathon. I was smoking cigarettes at the time and decided to run in the race on a lark. I didn’t have running shorts, so I cut a pair of long pants. My sneakers were worn down, but I used them anyway. I was the worst dressed runner in a crowd of 20,000. I was about to have a rude awakening that included plenty of soreness and fatigue. Why do people run marathons anyhow?

I barely made it through the five boroughs and was a happy camper when the race was over. The only problem is that I had to walk from the family gathering area on the east side of Central Park which was about 3/4 of a mile from my apartment. Trust me, I didn’t need to be on my feet one more second. I couldn’t wait to lay down. On the way home, every step was tremendously painful. The soles of my feet were screaming. I never took a pill to ease my discomfit.

When I got home my wife filled a tub and I crawled into it, literally. I could not get out by myself, so my wife dragged me into the bedroom and put me to sleep. I began to bleed out of my nose. She screamed, and I was horrified. It was no big deal.

For several days, I was unable to walk downstairs facing forward. I had to turn around and walk backwards. My quads were so tight I could barely stand it.

In my last marathon, I lost weight and was in the best shape of my life. I was determined to post my best time in the New York race. Little did I know that the weather that day would be my downfall.

When the race started, I felt like a million bucks making my way through the hundreds of slower runners. The Verrazano Bridge was the starting point. I prepared by relieving myself at the longest urinal in the world. TMI again. The conditions seem perfect for a great run.

I got off to a fast start running with great confidence. All was well until I reached the halfway point in Brooklyn just before the 59th St Bridge. My halfway time was 10 or 15 minutes better than usual, but suddenly I felt exhausted and overheated. Then it dawned on me. The temperature was in the low 70s, and I was not taking enough water to offset the heat. I increased my liquid intake and started to feel bloated. Great, I had 13 miles to go and I felt like crap.

The ensuing 13 miles were the most painful of all my previous marathons. I posted my worst time and suffered terribly. By the way, there is a “wall” in long distance running. The temperature got the best of me. The aches and pains that I felt were unbelievable. Needless to say, that was the end of my marathon career.

I concluded that I was hurting my body from running so much every day. Little did I know that the damage I was doing to my legs and back, along with contact experiences from football and rugby, would affect me getting out of bed when I reached 70 years old.

I was interested in the oxycodone movie. It was amazing to me that so many people we’re falling into a trap while dealing with their aches and pains. And it was incredible that a company would lie to the public about the efficacy of their product. The documentary was an eye opener for me. It indicated that millions of honest working, average Americans who had high levels of pain from working and living took opioids to relieve their sore bodies. They were not habitual drug addicts, but rather, normal people who were looking for relief.

It became clear that I should be empathetic towards the people portrayed in the movie and not be critical of their efforts to relieve their bodies of pain. Prior to watching the movie, I was very critical of doctors who prescribed opioids without considering the side effects and the addictive nature of the drugs.

I’ve had my fair share of surgical procedures and have always been very careful with the pain relievers given to me by doctors. In fact, I was probably overly cautious which caused me to suffer unnecessarily. But I think it was worth it not to take any risks relating to drug addiction from pain medication.

The opioid crisis is not over. People of all ages are seeking to find relief from those pains that afflict them and ruin their day every day. Ironically, the company that developed oxycodone had the right idea. Pain in and of itself is a medical condition that needs to be taken care of so that people can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. In pain it’s impossible to enjoy your life as you should be able to.

I hope that more attention is given to this serious situation. Incidentally, it seems like there are many new holistic remedies that have no narcotics in them that are being marketed to people in the US. This may be a good sign.

Note: Oxycodone has a duration of action of three to six hours. These drugs are used for treatment of moderate to severe pain. They are highly addictive, usually taken by mouth and their effects begin in 15 minutes. The side effects of opioids are euphoria, Constipation, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Trump For President? No Way!!!

Apparently, Donald Trump believes he can successfully run for president once again. He has been making appearances across the country at his former strongholds. I’m not sure what his supporters think he can do if he runs again, but I’d like to remind them of a few things. One thing is that he has no chance to be reelected president.

Trump will damage the Republican Party by diluting the drawing power of a credible conservative candidate. I’m sure he doesn’t give a damn about his party or anybody for that matter. In 1992, H. Ross Perot selfishly ran for president and took a large chunk of the popular votes from the incumbent Republican Party candidate; most of these votes would have gone to George H.W. Bush. It was one reason Bill Clinton stole the election from Bush.

Trump does not have a realistic chance to defeat Joe Biden, if the latter is the Democratic candidate. Trump’s legacy consists of a series of lawsuits and accusations of self-dealing and various types of corruption. Keep in mind the man was impeached.  So, a vote for Trump will come out of the pocket of the Republican candidate.

In hindsight, Trump has given America no reason to have another bite at the apple. The man is not a loyal party man and was a horrible candidate, only succeeding against Hillary Clinton because she was universally chastised by so many Americans. Most experts believe that Trump would have lost against any other credible candidate in 2016.

While in office, his megalomaniac behavior made the vast majority of Americans cringe, even those who voted for him as a way to defeat Hillary. Donald Trump is not someone you’d want to have a cocktail with or befriend. He’s not a nice man and only cares about himself. Time and again, he threw minions under the bus for his own missteps and thorough inability to serve as president. The White House had a revolving door to accommodate the people he fired or who walked out on him. He had no redeeming qualities.

Trump used the presidency to build his own image and failed miserably. He cared not for the needy or those with problems or allies that asked him for US assistance. His ascendancy to the highest office in the land was a perfect storm. Many Americans were turned off by politicians, so they gave a businessman a chance, a shady man at that, to lead the country. It could not have been a worse pick by the Republican Party.

Whenever Trump didn’t get his way, he cried foul. He was he was a terrible winner and a horrible loser who tried, and continues, to bring down our electoral system after he was defeated decisively by Biden and for the next year after.

Trumpers are under the impression that Biden’s failure to act and govern like a president gives Trump an opportunity to try again. They are both losers, and our country would be better off if both retire to a quiet place.

Every time I hear Trump drew a large crowd at one appearance or another, my skin crawls. He destroyed the Republican Party, but Biden has given conservatives another opportunity to take control over the government, the presidency and Congress. Let’s not let this opportunity slip away by supporting in any way a man who is dangerous for our country and our security.

There are many Republicans who are frightened of Trump and want to run for office without denigrating the former president. This is the wrong attitude. Trump has no power. He is an empty suit, a bad man that is despised in the US and around the world. By disavowing Trump, Republican contenders for the presidency will win kudos from loyal and informed party members.

Government vs. Civil Liberty

The Constitution guarantees the right of free speech. Some Americans rebel against those who have different perspectives relating to unencumbered speech. Anytime a college or a high school censors free speech of a student or a guest speaker, it is a direct attack on our liberty. In a free society, citizens, the press and the opposition must have free rein to present their side of an issue. Of course, a speaker who incites violence is not, and should not be, protected.

Lately, liberal elements and institutions of higher learning have unilaterally canceled opportunities for dissenting voices. Often, the issues involved are highly contentious. Women’s rights, BLM, gay marriage, civil rights, the right to protest and the role of police officers are front and center. Burning down cities, looting stores, destroying property and committing bodily harm are too often associated with “free speech activities.”

Do you feel that the government is too intrusive into the affairs of average Americans? It seems to me that federal and state politicians are in our faces, pockets and lives far too often. Our civil liberties are being threatened on a daily basis.

The first thing that comes to mind is taxation. Our government has the right and duty to tax income and purchases to fund its needs. Since Washington is responsible for defense, security and a plethora of services, it needs to take part of our earnings every paycheck. But who evaluates whether the federal and state governments are using our money wisely? And who determines how much every citizen should contribute to the expenses of state? Of course, the answer is Congress. The people we elect every two years are the stewards of taxes imposed on citizens and noncitizens alike.

I’ve always been amazed that the 1% of earners have not been have not been abused in this regard. If 99% of Americans effectively have control of the government, why wouldn’t they attack the affluent more strenuously? If you ask someone who makes $50,000 or $100,000 to vote for a person who believes in higher taxes, why wouldn’t they be agreeable. It will not cost them anything while they increase government revenue that can be spent on things that improve society.

I suppose that everyone, rich and poor, aspires to make more money and to become part of the 1%, even though this logic is faulty. Thank goodness some of our leaders recognize that you can’t tax the rich at 90% and have a true capitalistic society. Many 99%ers want capitalism to thrive. They understand that the richest people subsidize the poor and middle classes in the country. Trickle down economics is a reality.

Are our tax dollars being spent wisely by our legislators? Should we spend almost $1 trillion each year to defend our country? These dollars are being used to protect our freedom, and worth every penny spent. Aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons are expensive items.

Why does the government try to keep taxes low on corporations? The answer is simple, corporations hire millions of Americans and pay them good wages.

But what about welfare and financial aid? America has an obligation to care for the needy. No one really disagrees with this principle. What roils people is that welfare always increases and never subsides. Aid that was needed years ago, but it’s no longer required, should end. And why shouldn’t every able-bodied person have a job, rather than a monthly check that enables them to stay home? There should be a quid pro quo for securing aid.

Parent involvement in schools is being attacked in recent months. There has always been a conflict between teachers and student parents about the level of involvement of the latter. Some parents want to have a say about what novels are read by students and, generally, the curricula designed by school administrators. Some teachers want to press students on certain theories about controversial issues too early or too often. For instance, the legitimacy of gay marriage has been a hot topic as well as issues regarding evolution. These topics are fair game only when the students are old enough to digest the facts (not opinions), and with parental input.

In recent months during the pandemic, the conflict between teachers and parents came to a head. In-school instruction versus home teaching has been a hot topic. Most parents, even those who are concerned about the deadly virus, want their kids back in the classroom. They believe children learn more when the teaching occurs face-to-face, in person. Many teachers are concerned about the health risks of an in-person teaching. Should the federal government intervene? This would be better than allowing the teachers to run free rein over our children.

Another fire storm involves the southern border of our country. Radical elements really do believe that entering our country without proper authorization is not a crime. These people are dead wrong. There is a procedure that must take place for immigrants to enter the US and ultimately become citizens. Local governments have no right to unilaterally change these requirements.

The same elements are also betting that illegal immigrants will become citizens even though they have broken our laws. And if enough of these immigrants become citizens, they will impact the balance of liberals and conservatives and in the country. Really? Do radical elements think that conservatives are going to stand aside and allow millions of people who illegally crossed our borders to become citizens?

Actually, the answer is yes. Millions of illegals are already living in America, and if they follow our laws, they will likely receive citizenship. But the flow must stop, and conservative groups must do everything possible to stem the illegal flow of humanity onto our soil. If not, the rights of legitimate citizens will be denigrated.

As you can see, there are many areas where our government has usurped the power of the people. Our leaders must recognize that they are in power at our pleasure and only if we vote for them again in the next election. Unfortunately, because of opposition to term limits, too many of the people in Congress have remained in power to the detriment of all citizens. I believe a strong federal government is important to our country, but the power of the people should never be minimized.