Biden Keeps Floundering

President Biden is getting kicked around by most of the press corps for walking back on statements made relating to the Ukraine/Russia conflict.

He called for regime change in Russia; the administration walked back his comments. He implied the US would respond to chemical warfare by Russia “in kind” meaning that the US might consider responding with a weapon of mass destruction if Russia used one; the administration walked it back. He implied that the US might use ground forces against Russia; the administration walked it back because it was too inflammatory.

The result of all the flip-flopping is that the US looks weak and indecisive. Our allies are starting to think that Biden is not calling the shots and assuming assurances by the US cannot be taken for granted. I would like to know who is making decisions in the administration.

What is particularly disturbing is that Americans and Europeans think Putin has lost his mind, and he should be replaced, by force or whatever. For some reason, expressing this opinion publicly is undiplomatic. And, who would replace Putin? Would he or she be more bellicose then Putin? Will the chances of a nuclear confrontation be greater or lesser under a new Russian regime? Americans have been led to believe that the intelligence infrastructure is supposed to advise the president on all these matters. Apparently, they’re not doing such a great job, or Biden is not capable of following a sensible script.

The fact of the matter is that economic sanctions are putting average Russians on the hot seat, especially since Putin does not allow dissent in his country. The sanctions are crushing Russia’s currency and turning the economy topsy-turvy. Everything is more costly to Russians, and they are starting to resent their predicament, at least that’s what experts are saying.

I believe the US should have tried to bankrupt Russia since the Crimean invasion several years ago. Putin has taken advantage of a cash flow bonanza as oil and gas prices have increased markedly. Russia traditionally goes to war when oil prices go up.

Joe Biden is proving time and again that he is not capable of leading our country. His 40% current approval rating makes it obvious that that a large majority of Americans are unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Biden has not been an effective leader of his congressional caucus even though he spent decades in the Senate. Yet, he keeps trying relentlessly to push progressive economic spending programs through the Congress with no success. The president just announced another $5 trillion giveaway even though inflation is causing angst and the country cannot afford it. There is no chance this legislation will become law.

Having a president that cannot deal with our enemies is a pathetic situation, especially in America. Is there not one politician capable of winning election and leading us to peace and prosperity? Are all politicians blathering idiots? Do we have some men or women capable of standing up to crazed autocrats?

Given the maniacal things Russia is in the process of doing, are there any leaders in the country who can rally Americans and peace-loving nations? If we cannot put together a loyal following around the world to counter Russian aggression, will we be able to do anything productive with the global community regarding climate change, nuclear proliferation, hunger and disease?

The Russian Blame Game

The New York Times published a story that suggests there is dissension brewing between Russian generals and Putin. The war in Ukraine is not proceeding well and some officials are playing the blame game. If the Russian effort continues to worsen, heads will roll. Hopefully, Putin will be among those who take a fall.

Some generals are criticizing the Russian effort. The war plan was supposed to be a bloodless takeover. When Ukrainians saw a massive invasion of tanks, armored carriers carrying 175,000 troops and fighter jets in their air space, they were expected to yield to the aggressors and put down their arms. Not so.

The opposite has occurred. With support from their friends, Ukrainians have stealthily held their ground and have inflicted massive casualties along with destruction of countless armed vehicles. Choosing to attack in the Spring was a bonehead decision because tanks cannot move effectively through wet areas. They are travelling on roads where guerrillas are ambushing them with anti-tank missiles provided by the US and other countries. To make matters worse, several generals have been killed while attempting to motivate the troops. This has resulted in serious morale issues that have been exacerbated by fuel and food shortages.

In general, no pun intended, the occupation is not a cakewalk because every able-bodied Ukrainian is fighting to protect his and her freedom. The response by Russian leadership has been to become more aggressive and crueler as time passes. Missiles launched by warships close to Ukraine, bombs by fighter planes and artillery shot by ground forces have been directed at civilian areas including hospitals, schools and residences. The result is an epic sprint to the border by those rendered homeless. When it’s over, millions of Ukrainians will be disbursed to countries across Europe.

There still is the existential threat of nuclear weapons weighing heavily on the minds of Europeans and the US. A fraudulent and unwise incursion by Russia could lead the world into a larger confrontation. In effect, a relatively minor incursion could result in a conflict with horrendous ramifications.

Back home in Mother Russia, Putin’s people are getting restless. The pocketbooks of many are being impacted by a seriously devalued currency, a devastated financial system and an inability to trade with other countries. Putin has responded by making it a crime to protest the government and has censored all news outlets. The actions will likely infuriate citizens and ultimately encourage regime change.

The scary question is, how will Putin react to his crumbling government? Will he resort to more violence directed at Europe and US? He has already communicated with Xi Jinping who should have warned Putin to avoid the use of nukes. Xi’s design of worldwide domination is not enhanced by Putin’s roguish actions. There have been no obvious offerings by China to assist Russia in its Ukrainian invasion.

Softball Politics published a blog on July 22, 2014, titled “Severe Economic Sanctions Could Bankrupt Russia And End The Conflict In Ukraine.” In it, financial sanctions were encouraged shortly after Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine shot down a commercial airliner with a land missile. A Russian invasion of Crimea occurred soon after. The moral of the story is that EU and the US should have been imposing greater and greater sanctions against Russia to discourage future aggression eight years ago. The US did nothing more jawbone at the time. Our current president should learn from history that Putin and his war-mongering generals understand nothing other than brute force.

The Cost Of War And The Benefits Of Peace

All the horrors of World War II, including a Nazi attempt to take over the world and the murder of six million Jews, along with countless episodes of genocide in Eastern Europe and in Africa have not yet convinced leaders of certain countries that peace is the answer.

As I think backwards of so many incidents of crimes against humanity and consider what is happening right now in Ukraine, I conclude that there is something dramatically faulty with humans. Without war and associated expenses to defend ourselves, or to retaliate, humans could prosper, and billions of people under duress could have security and not need to struggle to survive every day.

Tyrants and megalomaniacs pop up across the globe frequently. Generally, these individuals have warped perspectives about their own country, tribe or other social and political associations. They believe their compatriots deserve more than others. They believe it is righteous to take by force what is not theirs. This nationalistic and ethnocentric attitude usually results in the death of many soldiers, and the slaughter of innocent women and children. Peaceful nations must protect themselves against bellicose, belligerent and entitled regimes.

The US defense budget is about 750 billion dollars per year. At this rate, 7.5 trillion dollars will be spent over a decade assuming no increases. If this insurance were not needed, the money could be used to eradicate disease and enable most of the world to live in comfort with ample food and clean water.

What is happening in Ukraine is a perfect case in point. For incomprehensible reasons, Russia attacked a sovereign country. The facts are that Ukraine is very much influenced by Russian culture. It borders Russia. It is a democracy. It has a valuable access to the ocean. Putin says Russia is threatened by Ukraine’s way of life because it is friendly with European democracies. Also, Putin believes that nations should reflect the ethnic demographics of their population. From Putin’s vantage point, all Russian people should be a part of a larger homogenous community. Most experts refer to the America’s melting pot and say this perspective, which calls for despotic leadership and no democratic rights, is a thing of the past. Hitler said the same things about countries situated near Germany nearly a century ago. For these reasons, Putin wants to reconstruct Eastern Europe and rebuild the Soviet Union. This strategy gives no credence into the fact that most former SSR’s want more freedom, more democracy and greater affiliation with the West, in particular Europe and the US.

Brave foreign correspondents report on the courage of the Ukrainian people, and the carnage inflicted by Putin and his army. Unlike World War II, when most Americans had no idea about the savage German war machine, now we know of every residence, school and hospital that the Russians are firing missiles and bombs at. They are also chronicling the pathetic movement of several million refugees and homeless people.

I am ashamed of the human race for allowing this catastrophe to destroy a nation and a peaceful group of people. When I watch the news, it breaks my heart to see how many innocents are suffering. And when I ask myself what Putin’s justification is, I draw a blank. He will be classified as a mass murderer just like Hitler was when this all ends.

To make matters worse is the possibility of a nuclear encounter.  This is an existential cloud that hangs over the world.

Why would peaceful Russians allow a man like Putin to represent them?

Putin’s Strategy Makes No Sense

As it should be, the Ukraine war with Russia has dominated the news. Nearly every civilized country in the world has publicly criticized the invasion.

I’m confused by several things the Russians have done in the past few weeks. Here’s a short list of my observations.

Ukraine poses no real threat to Russia, whether it becomes a member of NATO or not. For sure, NATO weaponry can be situated close to Russia in Ukraine, but so what? In a serious confrontation that pits NATO against Russia, a few tanks parked in Ukraine and several thousand soldiers should be no real concern. The application of tactical nuclear weapons and long-range cruise missiles, along with fighter jets, will dominate an upscale war.

The incursion by Russia is going to have a huge impact on Ukraine’s infrastructure and its civilian population. Additionally, the Russian attack is creating a humanitarian crisis. Estimates are that refugees from Ukraine could surpass more than 5 million people. These individuals will be dispersed primarily throughout Europe. The whole world is ready to support Ukrainians, especially because of their bravery and love of country. Note: Poland has done the most to accommodate refugees and deserves a lot of credit for its generosity.

The Russians are in the process of completely emasculating Ukraine. Its entire government, police force, legal system and educational structure will need to be rebuilt from scratch.

The Russians are dropping bombs on civilians. This is in direct conflict with generally accepted wartime standards. When possible, military actions are expected to avoid collateral damage involving innocent civilians. News outlets have been relentless in the coverage of these atrocities.

The Russian attack has destroyed its reputation and standing globally. Putin is being compared to Adolf Hitler, including an effort to extinguish an entire race of people. To make matters worse, Russian leaders are lying about their objectives. This strategy bodes poorly for Russian after the conflict ends. It will take many years for Russia to regain its credibility as a member of the international community of nations.

Russia cannot afford to orchestrate a war against Ukraine, much less the US and NATO. Their primary sources of revenues come from sales of oil and gas to the West. Currently, prices are high. But this is an aberration especially considering the world’s efforts to decrease the use of fossil fuels to zero in the not so distant future. Note: Russia has a history of initiating conflicts when oil prices are high and its cash inflows are stronger.

Putin is risking domestic upheaval by using so much of his resources to fight with Ukraine. Also, severe sanctions by the West have devastated the Russian economy and the prospects of thriving Russian companies. Upheaval will ultimately equate to regime change.

The final issue, and the most important, is that Putin keeps reminding his adversaries that he has nuclear weapons and will use them if necessary. Suggesting actions that could end the world, as we know it, are signs of an imbalanced leader with a quick trigger finger. If NATO shoots down a Russian jet, will Putin retaliate with a weapon of mass destruction including nukes and chemical agents? Why is Putin so aloof about starting a nuclear war with the West? One must question Putin’s sanity.

Russia has done a terrible job executing the Ukraine invasion. It is losing thousands of soldiers, many tanks, hundreds of armored carriers and even a few fighter planes. These losses will soon be a heavy load for Russians back home and for the morale of the troops.

Russia is killing thousands of women and children. The invasion is heartless and a crime against humanity. Russia, it citizens and Putin will incur the wrath of the global community. This will be hard to amend in the future.

Should Euthanasia Be Legal Nationwide?

In the past, I’ve written about the pitfalls and benefits of euthanasia. Should we have a right to terminate our lives when circumstances are dire? Should federal and/or state governments regulate this activity, keeping in mind that euthanasia is rife with practical, medical, ethical and religious minefields.

Medical ethicists give us great issues to ponder. Should doctors and researchers have the extension of life as a primary goal? Is keeping a suffering individual alive the golden rule in every situation? What is the current and prospective lifestyle possibilities of the person in jeopardy? Is pain a primary or secondary issue? Should a life be terminated if an individual does not want to live or has indicated during healthier times an aversion to life without full consciousness and lucidity?

The pitfalls of euthanasia are multifaceted and seemingly endless. Do the custodians of a sick person have a right to decide what would be best for a sufferer? For sure, if the sufferer has not expressed his desires previously and cannot speak for himself any longer, someone else must decide. Why wouldn’t every healthy person sign a document indicating to their survivors what their wishes are in times before death? These are called living wills. In fact, taking this decision from loved ones could be a great relief especially if family members disagree. In some situations, it is a gift from the sufferer.

What should a family do if there is little money available to continue treatment for a seriously ailing love one? Or their love one is in terrible pain? Or the sufferer is not lucid? Or the sufferer cannot take care of him or herself? And the big question, what should happen when it is just too much to deal with a loved ones’ sickness any longer?

Religion can play a significant role in a euthanasia decision. For instance, devout Catholics believe euthanasia is a mortal sin, one that results in eternal damnation. Why would a believer commit a mortal sin in his last moment on earth? Eternal damnation is a great threat to some people.

Many think that hospice is in fact a form of euthanasia. What difference does it make if a sufferer is given a pill that takes life immediately or is deprived of food and water and dies in a few days? It seems like straw splitting to me. These are identical for all intents and purposes.

As one ages, sometimes we feel detached and useless. A feeling of not being an integral part of the family could be very depressing, especially if the individual does not have activities to keep busy. The moment may come when a person believes he no longer has a purpose in life. Why shouldn’t these people have an opportunity to end their lives?

Many would say that euthanasia is a coward’s way out. This is true in some circumstances, but not all. Approaching a moment when a person’s mental health is in shambles and his role in life is diminished may be an excellent moment to move on.

By far the most useful situation for consideration of euthanasia is when serious health problems are involved. No one should be forced to live with excruciating pain every day. Our leaders and lawmakers should consider a nationwide policy pertaining to euthanasia that can be used in carefully planned situations.

I have mixed feelings regarding euthanasia. In fact, I had a situation many years ago when a doctor asked me if I wanted a very sick relative to be resuscitated if he died. I was unable to make the decision to give up hope. In retrospect, it was the wrong decision. 

Why Did Russia Attack The Ukraine?

Like many others around the world, I’ve been watching, in shock, the events unfolding in the Ukraine. It’s shameful that Russia, and its deranged leader Vladimir Putin, have decided to attack a helpless sovereign nation. Thousands of innocence people will ultimately die, and the Ukraine will be left in ashes.

In the meantime, over one million refugees have crossed the border seeking safety from the onrushing Russian tanks and soldiers. A humanitarian crisis is brewing as two or three million Ukrainians are expected to leave their homes. Russian soldiers have repeatedly targeted civilian buildings, residences and non-military targets like a TV radio station and a gigantic nuclear facility that provides electricity to Ukrainians. 

It’s unclear what Putin’s ultimate objective is. Is it to engulf Ukraine for sentimental or political reasons? The country is not a powerhouse by any measure. There were 30 million people living in Ukraine when all this started. They are reportedly hard-working people with loose connections to Russia. There are no raw materials or anything worth starting a world war over. The only strategic asset in the country is Crimea, and its access to the Black Sea.

Putin believes Ukraine belongs to Russia, which is absurd. And, he wants to use Ukraine as a buffer to keep away European military forces, as if Europeans are planning to invade Russia. This is all nonsense. In a hot war, the US would attack Russia with our intercontinental ballistic missiles based thousands of miles away. 

Why the hell is Russia spending all this money and risking economic disaster for Ukraine? It has to be because Putin has gone batty. This leads us to another concern. Who is in control of nuclear weapons in Russia’s arsenal? This point was made in my last blog about Putin.

In the meantime, the US is still buying oil from Russia, which is funding his invasion. The US has decreased its production of oil and gas making us dependent upon Russia and Middle East producers. Presumably, this was done in an effort to jumpstart the war against fossil fuels. How can our president and Congress sacrifice national security because of demands by radical left wingers in our government?

I think the ultimate solution to the crisis is to not be weak and cringe every time Putin reminds us that he has nuclear weapons. Biden must indicate that the US is willing to go to war with Russia if its forces move on one foot of territory beyond Ukraine. We must protect our allies from this evil force that threatens democracy and freedom. Further, the US and nations around the world must bankrupt Russia, literally.

This means that all countries should stop doing business with Russia. No bank facilities should be available to the Russian government or its corporations. These actions will crush the Russian economy and create havoc in the country. And hopefully, the Russian people will recognize that Putin is an egotistical maniac that is bad for the country. A change in regime should be the ultimate goal. 

This plan should effectively convert Russia to a second class, irrelevant country.  

Conversational Etiquette

One good thing about Covid is that we’re attending fewer rubber chicken dinners than before. Sit down dinners are really killers. Being trapped next to a blabbermouth, or worse, someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about for two hours is absolute torture. Too often people of means are trying to impress every person they meet about their knowledge of every issue. Going dressed in a tuxedo makes the ordeal that much more intolerable. There are a few things I learned during my time on the social circuit that I want to share with you.

In the old days, before I became a teetotaler, I drank a half bottle of wine to assist me in getting through an affair. I don’t drink anymore, so I must deal with the travails of gala events without any medicinal assistance. Without booze, I effectively eliminate 80+ percent of the uncomfortable situations that I faced previously.

I’ve picked up a few things about conversational etiquette over the years that have kept me out of trouble. When I was drinking, I would try to remember the next day if I said something offensive during the gathering, too conservative or not politically acceptable. If so, I would text the offended and apologize. But this is not an issue anymore because I’m off the fire water.

Whether you’re on the bottle or not, the following are suggestions to keep in mind as you try to stay out of trouble. When you’re in conversation with one or more people, you should try not to be too aggressive or too condescending. Don’t be obnoxious. It’s worth it to avoid confrontation as some people get testy if they disagree with your off the wall perspectives. It’s difficult to avoid a skirmish if you are proselytizing conservative dogma chatting with a liberal. If you say Democrats don’t know what the hell they’re doing, which I do often, you’re in for a rough ride.

Political liberals are good sports until they suddenly turn on you for defending conservative principles. I was once at a dinner party with a famous TV talking head, a really dangerous situation for me. Naturally, I questioned him about his inane left leaning proclivities thinking I had a I had my ducks lined up for a frontal assault. The guy completely obliterated me factually and politically. I was devastated. The hostess’ brother who witnessed the slaughter told me that I should not be too upset because the talking head interviewed and spoke with government decision makers and people in the know every day. I’m still licking my wounds from that experience. It was like having road rage and finding out the other guy has a concealed weapon. 

I’ve turned over a few new leaves, especially avoiding vehicle confrontations. One is just to avoid political debate at both large and small social affairs. I’m not going to change anybody’s opinion, so it’s better to be quiet and avoid arguments. If I get dragged into a heated repartee, I walk away. I used to enjoy a spirited screaming match about politics, but no more.

And, I measure my comments before I speak. I consider what I’m going to say. A speaker only has a second or two to predict whether someone will blow their top after hearing what comes out of your mouth. This tactic will save you unnecessary heartburn. In fact, taking time before making inflammatory pronouncements, declarations, insults or criticisms about others should never be made without thinking a minute, an hour or a day. One needs to decide if the vitriol you are preparing to deliver is worth all the hassle that it will create.

In life with my family and friends, I have begun to apply the advice I’ve given you given in this post. Before starting World War III in my home with a family member or friend, I try to assess the impact and severity of my opinions. This is even more important before putting something in writing. Why create a trail of evidence that people can impeach one about at a later date?