Point of View Columns

How Putin Got Something Right and Other Thoughts

The past week, like so many weeks these days, has been so full of news stories that trying to keep track of all of them is like drinking from a fire hose. Here a few of the many items that warrant some attention:

How Putin Got Some Things Right

One need not be a mental health specialist to observe that Vladimir Putin is dealing with some kind of mental health abnormality that has been manifested in his taking Russia on a race to the precipice that resembles the end of the motion picture “Thelma and Louise”.

Last week he announced his imaginary annexation of 15% of Ukraine and magically made all the residents citizens of Russia “forever”. He also threatened nuclear war just to make sure the world is paying attention. But somehow all of the press commentary has made no mention of the facts that were hidden in plain view during his rant.

But Putin did get a few things right:

  1. The United States engaged in widespread genocide and land theft against the indigenous people of North America – there simply cannot be any argument that the brutal attempt to exterminate the indigenous people while taking ownership of virtually all of the land on which they lived is simply a matter of fact.
  2. The United States engaged in the enslavement of Black Americans as a matter of law (and the original version of the Constitution) – the truth is the truth.
  3. European powers engaged in the disruption of virtually all of the lives of all of the people of Africa, looting its wealth and subjugating its residents (those were not enslaved) to colonial rule – again, the truth is the truth.
  4. The United Kingdom engaged in plundering the wealth of China and India, colonizing the people of India in the process – again the truth is the truth.

There is no doubt that Putin is a madman, but it is fascinating that nowhere on any of the Western news channels was there any mention of what Putin got right. Perhaps these uncomfortable truths were just……too uncomfortable.

Did the World Just Forget Pakistan

Less than a month ago Pakistan was hit with cataclysmic flooding that left one third of the country underwater, killed well over one thousand people and left much of the infrastructure in shambles.

What made this flood even more tragic is that this flooding was not due to the weather, it was due primarily to glacial melting. As it turns out, Pakistan is one of eight countries that are most susceptible to glacial melting and that melting is absolutely due to global warming. And, the cruel irony is that while Pakistan contributes to no more than 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, carbon ovens like China and the United States and Europe are most responsible for carbon emissions. Yet Pakistan is paying this awful price for the neglect of this climate abuse.

To make matters worse, after the first outpouring of global concern that concern seems to have evanesced. Ukraine remains the headline story and now the goldfish-like attention span of the United States has been diverted to hurricanes lashing and devastating Puerto Rico and Florida.

Meanwhile most of the flooding in Pakistan has not receded. Meanwhile millions of Pakistani citizens are without proper food and shelter. Meanwhile the rest of the so-called developed world feels no responsibility to provide anything but a relatively perfunctory early expression of concern followed by the so-called developed world moving on.

One can only hope that the Pakistani government, the Pakistani people and the Pakistani diaspora would be more strident in making sure that the story of the suffering of this nation does not simply fade away.

After all, a closed mouth does not get fed.

Watching Ron DeSantis as Janus

The Romans had many gods. One of them was Janus – indeed the month of January is named after him as he was the god with two faces, one looking back at the old year and looking forward to the new year. In 2013, after Super Storm Sandy lashed the New York City metropolitan area along with a good portion of the Northeast, then Congressman Ron DeSantis voted against federal aid to New York City. His rationale was that state and local governments should rely on their own resources and not count on federal aid every time and anytime that they need help.

Just last week, nine short years later, Ron DeSantis is the governor of Florida. Of course Florida is suffering from the catastrophic damage from a once in a century Hurricane Ian which has caused billions of dollars of damage to a wide swath of Florida.

And just last week, Governor DeSantis wrote a formal letter to President Joe Biden requesting a massive amount of federal assistance. Joe Biden being Joe Biden did not comment on the irony, but it can be mentioned here.

It appears that Ron DeSantis is channeling his inner Janus. Clearly in politics according to DeSantis, two faces are better than one.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 6, 2011

The week began with the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Amidst the jubilation there was reflection on the true import of the event. And within moments the G.O.Tea Party chose finally link George W. Bush to current events in America thereby raising the question, what about everything else? This being America, even the death of a certified villain is a cause for controversy – should the photographs of his shattered corpse be released? Once again, President Obama had the right answer.

The Death of Osama bin Laden – cont’d

The death of Osama bin Laden is full of ironies, both large and small. Having French fried and barbequed Doubting Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents dinner, President Obama managed to time his announcement of bin Laden’s demise in such a way that it preempted the showing of Doubting Donald’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show/sham.

On a much more serious note, President Obama’s decision to kill the mastermind of 9/11 revealed an iron will that many of his critics doubted existed. These critics were then required to eat a heaping portion of crow as they lauded Obama’s actions.

Predictably, some members of the G.O.Tea Party could not resist sipping from the cup of partisanship and promptly announced that the killing of Osama bin Laden was the direct result of former President George W. Bush’s so-called war on terror, in the process trying to minimize the leadership role of President Obama.

It is fair to state that the apparatus that ultimately killed bin Laden had its beginnings during the Bush Administration. But if we are going to dredge Bush 43 out of the dustbin of history the G.O.Tea Party needs to also recognize that nearly 10 years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars were wasted fighting bogeymen in Iraq while Osama bin Laden lived in relative safety and comfort in Pakistan.

We will never know if bin Laden would have been captured or killed sooner if the United States hadn’t spent almost a decade trying to exorcise George W. Bush’s oedipal demons in Iraq. What we do know is that enormous amounts of resources were focused away from bin Laden and that the focus on the al Qaeda leader became an American priority from the very first days of the Obama Administration.

The results of this change in policy are there for all who care to see. Now the question arises as to whether the event of bin Laden’s death will occasion a further change of policy that will get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan on a more accelerated basis than originally planned.

It would be shames to see over 100,000 American troops continue to be mired in the muck of needless, pointless war without end.

To See or not to See

This being the second decade of the century of connectivity and communications, within 24 hours of the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden there was a clamor for the White House to release the presumably gory images of the dead villain. Some calls for the release were based on prurient motives to be sure.

Some sought the release of the photos to “prove” that bin Laden was truly dead. This motive was accompanied by the musty odor of the recently deceased birther controversy.

Opponents of the release reasonably argued that it was, in the first place, inappropriate and unnecessary to display images of this dead man. Further, and also reasonably, there is a real concern that the release of the photographs by the White House will inflame many in the Muslim world, not only al Qaeda supporters and operatives.

President Obama made the decision to withhold the release of the photographs. His statement that “there is no need to spike the ball” says it all.

This should remind us that George W. Bush proudly made his decisions with his famous “gut”. President Obama clearly thinks before he acts. The difference in results could not be clearer.

Mother’s Day

Sunday marks Mother’s Day and I would like to send a special greeting to all the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, foster mothers and caregiver. It is wonderful to celebrate this day. Of course, we should honor and celebrate mothers every day of their lives and ours. A special blessing to them all.

Have a great weekend!