Archives for category: Cruelty

It has been widely reported in the media that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. A draft decision written by Justice Samuel Alito claims that the 50-year-old decision was wrongly decided. The implications of this decision—if it stands as written—are profound. The Supreme Court decided in 1973 that women had a right to decide what happens to their bodies. This Court is poised to say they do not.

This is Donald Trump’s legacy. This most ignorant of presidents appointed three of the Court’s most conservative justices. All three are Catholics who are staunchly opposed to abortion. they will join with at least two other Catholic justices to overturn Roe. (Neil Gorsuch was born Catholic but apparently is or may be Anglican.) Justice Sonia Sotomayer, who is also Catholic, will not vote for this decision. President Biden, an observant Catholic, opposes this decision and supports women’s rights to control their own body. Nancy Pelosi, another strong Catholic, supports Roe.

As an American, I ask how it is possible that a Court dominated by members of one religion can impose their beliefs on the entire nation? I am beyond outraged by this potential decision. The same decision could also have been written if the Court had a majority of Orthodox Jews, who oppose abortion. That too would be abhorrent.

Women who are not Catholic will be required to bend to the hardcore doctrine of the most ardent Catholics. That includes Protestants, Jews, and moderate Catholics, as well as those of other faiths or none at all.

Several states, anticipating this decision, have passed laws banning abortion after six weeks, before a woman knows she is pregnant. These laws make no exception for women who are victims of incest or rape. The victim must give birth to her rapist’s child. The victim must give birth to the child of her father or brother.

Abortion is a painful decision for most women. It should be their decision, made in consultation with a qualified health-care specialist. The Supreme Court wants the decision made not by those it affects, but by state legislatures. Women who have the money will travel to the states where it is still legal to get an abortion.

Women without the means to travel will seek abortions from back-alley abortionists in unhygienic circumstances. Or they will try to self-abort with wire hangars or other methods that risk their lives. Women will die because of this decision, if it represents the final decision.

Some states are trying to outlaw receiving abortion pills by mail. It’s hard to know how they will enforce this. It’s easy to imagine that the reddest states would devote more resources to stopping abortion than to caring for children after they are born, with medical care, good schools, nutrition, and the other supports they need. The extremists love the unborn more than the born.

Justice Alito says in his draft decision that one reason to overturn Roe is that it is so divisive. If this is the Court’s standard, we can anticipate the rollback of civil rights law, including the Brown decision, gay marriage, and anything else that is too controversial for the “Originalist” majority. (If Amy Coney Barrett were really an Originalist, she would resign at once since the original Constitution said nothing about women having the right to vote or participate in public life).

My own view is that the decision about abortion is private and personal. It should be made by a woman and her doctor. It should occur in a safe and hygienic clinic.

Those who oppose abortion should not have the power to impose their views on women who don’t agree with them. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If you need an abortion, that should be your decision, not the Red-state legislatures or the Supreme Court’s ultra-conservative majority.

The Washington Post reports on the fierce battle for Mariupol, which has been under siege for weeks:

As Russia appears poised to capture Mariupol more than six weeks into the invasion, the governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said Friday that while Ukrainian troops remain in control of the strategic port city, Mariupol “has been wiped off the face of the earth” by Russian forces.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor, told CNN that troops are still “courageously defending Mariupol” against the Russian forces that have bombarded the city on the Sea of Azov, leaving it in ruins.

“The enemy cannot seize Mariupol. The enemy may seize the land that Mariupol used to stand on, but the city of Mariupol is no more,” Kyrylenko said. “The city of Mariupol has been wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation, by those who will never be able to restore it.”

This is barbarism.

Watch “60 Minutes” tonight to see an interview with Ukraine President Zelenskyy tonight.

This link includes a clip from the interview.

Several European media outlets have written about Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen warlord who has sent his militia to Ukraine. He has cultivated a reputation for ruthlessness and for slavish devotion to Putin. The members of his militia pride themselves on their brutality.

According to witness statements collected by Ukrainian investigators and journalists, Kadyrovites in black and green uniforms have been behind some of the worst atrocities and human rights violations in towns such as Bucha, including against children….

“The Kadyrovites have very little to do with Chechen values,” says Christopher Swift, a national security lawyer and specialist on Russia and the Caucasus. “They’re a bizarre amalgam of very conservative Islamic ideas out of the Middle East and slavish devotion to the Putin regime.”

During the Russia-Chechen wars, his father Ahmad first fought the Soviets, then switched sides and became Putin’s favorite. After the Russians demolished Chechnya’s cities and gained control, Ahmad was elected president of the pacified Chechnya in 2003. He was assassinated a year later.

The younger Kadyrov, who had been a militia leader, immediately adopted Putin as a sort of father figure, and took over as president as soon as he turned 30 in 2007.

His governing skills were threadbare, but his militia – the Kadyrovtsy – specialised in killing and terrorising unarmed civilians, serving as his extrajudicial praetorian guard.

He keeps control over Chechnya with an iron fist, aided by what he himself has estimated as $3.8bn in annual subsidies from Moscow.

The U.K. Express ridiculed the warlord by posting a claim that he wore £1200 Prada boots into battle. The Express also wrote that the Chechens were poor fighters, lost hundreds of men, and departed for Chechnya. (None of these allegations have been verified).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being assisted by the Chechnyan military as it enters its fourth week. President Ramzan Kadyrov – a long-time ally of Putin’s – offered his support at the conflict’s outset. But despite facing violent incursions from the two nations, Ukraine appears to have humiliated the invaders several times and are said to be shattering the myth of the hardman Chechen dictator famed for persecuting homosexuals.

Representative Gloria Johnson posted a series of tweets describing the hateful legislation that her colleagues in the Tennessee Legislature have passed. Her Twitter handle is @VoteGloriaJ

When I got home this weekend someone asked how things are going in Nashville, I’m not sure they were ready for my answer, but it went kind of like this…

We have a “Don’t Say Gay” bill worse than Florida’s and about 4 more bills to go along with it-all equally filled with hate. GOP and B list celebrities are accusing librarians and teachers of “grooming” kids.

We have a vigilante abortion bill worse than Texas’. A bill that makes your friends and family $10k if they rat you out. Heck, if you decide to abort your rapists baby, his family and friends can sue you for $10k.

Did you ever imagine TN would give more rights to a violent rapist than a victim of a violent rapist. He can choose the mother of his child, but she can’t choose not to have her rapist’s baby. That is pure evil folks. That is today’s GOP, they don’t believe women are equal.

We have a school funding formula that’s not ready for prime time. It takes away local control, doesn’t have details and is more than 50% rule making we won’t see until AFTER the vote. And counties will love the property tax it will inevitably bring in 3-4 years😬. #whenleeisgone

President Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded with every nation that would listen: Send us jets so we can protect our citizens. Thus far, President Biden has stood firm in opposition because he fears a wider war. Ukraine is not a member of NATO so NATO is not obliged to defend it.

But as awareness of the war crimes and atrocities committed by the Russian military increase, the necessity of helping Ukraine defend itself grows more compelling.

Ukraine wants MIGS. Poland wants to give them to Ukraine. Let it happen.

What is the difference between sending tanks to Ukraine and sending jets? What’s the difference between sending Stingers and Javelins and sending jets?

Putin threatened war if the West defends Ukraine. But the West is already defending Ukraine.

Putin already said that economic sanctions are a declaration of war. So in his mind, he is already at war with the West. But he sets the ground rules.

He was outraged that Ukraine bombed a fuel depot inside Russia. But he invaded Ukraine and bombed fuel depots, homes, schools, hospitals, and theaters. He has made ferocious war on civilians, trapping the people of Mariupol in their devastated city and barring access to those bringing humanitarian aid, including the International Red Cross.

We should not allow Putin to decide how much or what kind of defensive weapons the West should supply to an innocent nation that is being pulverized by Putin’s military. Putin must not be allowed to do to Ukraine what he did to Chechnya.

Send Ukraine the jets it needs to defend itself!

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An important historical footnote from TIME magazine:

Kaja Kallas has clear memories of the Soviet occupation. She was a teenager when Estonia became independent, and she remembers growing up before that with empty shop shelves, a passport that would not allow her to travel to countries outside the Eastern bloc, and a chilling atmosphere that kept people from speaking freely outside their homes. She also remembers the stories about the harsher deprivations—deportations, imprisonment— that her parents and grandparents faced. So now that Kallas is Estonia’s Prime Minister, it makes sense that she has become one of the most vocal advocates for taking an unyielding stance against Putin.

“If Putin wins, or if he even has the view that he has won this war, his appetite will only grow,” Kallas, 44, said in late March, sitting in the elegant neoclassical building—its salons lined with paintings of Estonian patriots—that serves as the seat of government. “And that means he will consider other countries. That’s why we have to do everything we can to stop him now.”

Like other countries in the region, Estonia has had painful experiences with Russian oppression. Occupied by the Soviet Union in the 1940s, the country’s farms were forcibly collectivized and tens of thousands of its citizens deported to Siberia. It was not until 1991, when the USSR was collapsing, that the country regained its independence. Quickly reverting to democracy, Estonia joined the European Union in 2004, and put a forward-looking emphasis on digitalization—all of its public services and much of its business is conducted online. It has since become one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. But it has never relinquished its mistrust of its powerful neighbor to the east, with whom it shares nearly 200 miles of border.

As regular readers know, I have received and posted several comments complaining that I don’t write posts showing “both sides” or “different sides” on Ukraine. They disapprove of my support for Ukraine and my criticism of Putin.

In some cases, the commenters have included links to articles or videos claiming that Putin had no choice but to invade Ukraine because…he felt encircled by NATO, or he needed to protect Russians in Ukraine, or Ukraine is overrun by Nazis, or some policy analyst warned that NATO’s expansion would provoke Putin. Other commenters claim that I should not post anything sympathetic to Ukraine unless I post equally sympathetic commentaries about places where the U.S. brutalized the local population or where other nations are suffering.

Let me explain. This is my blog. It is not CNN, FOX, MSNBC, or a network station. The articles I post are my choice.

My choice is to demand that Putin stop the war that he launched against Ukraine. Stop the killing of Ukrainians and Russians. Stop the targeting of civilians. Stop the bombing of civilian shelters and hospitals and evacuation routes.

I oppose this unprovoked war. Those who excuse and rationalize it are, wittingly or unwittingly, supporting the war. And they are supporting Putin. One comment, which I chose not to publish, claimed that the war was “provoked” by Ukraine. Rubbish. Another said that Ukraine is run by Nazis. Rubbish. Another said the war was created by Russophobes. More rubbish. NATO accepted ex-Soviet satellite nations because they asked to be admitted. NATO didn’t pressure them to apply. They wanted protection from Russia. Ukraine requested membership in NATO but the request was tabled, probably to avoid antagonizing Putin.

The nations of the world should have the right to choose their own government and not to be ruled by a puppet regime. Russia took a sharp turn away from democracy when Boris Yeltsin chose Putin as his successor. He has a long history of killing or imprisoning his critics and competitors. Now he has none, and he engineered passage of a law that keeps him in power until 2036. That’s almost half a century of one man rule. The usual words for such regimes are “dictatorship,” “authoritarian,” “totalitarian.”

For thirty years, the West has encouraged ties with Russia. The goal of the West was to integrate Russia into the global economy and promote healthy relations between Russia and the West. By his invasion of Ukraine, Putin severed the past thirty years of steady efforts to build ties with the West and to turn Russia into a normal nation that does not threaten its neighbors or threaten the world with nuclear war.

I will not post defenses of Putin. If you want to defend his actions, write a letter to the New York Times or the Washington Post. Or follow the tweets of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorne, and the other members of the GOP’s Putin caucus.

One man surrounded the borders of Ukraine with nearly 200,000 troops. One man lied and said he had “no intention” of invading Ukraine. One man ordered the troops and jets and warships to attack Ukraine. One man gave the order to reduce Ukrainian cities to rubble and trap civilians who had no water, no heat, no food.

Putin.

In my view, he is a megalomaniac, an imperialist, a man without a heart or a soul. He is Stalin reborn.

I will no longer post comments defending Putin’s cruel and unprovoked war. I will no longer give space to those who say he was afraid of being “encircled” by NATO. This gives him permission to invade Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, even Poland and Hungary.

I have no obligation to post “both sides.” I don’t post both sides of the campaign to privatize public schools. I don’t post both sides on issues of racism or book banning or other issues that, in my view, are clear cut.

We can debate lots of issues. But I will no longer tolerate defenses of Putin and his war of choice. Please don’t waste your time or mine by posting comments justifying Putin’s war. I will delete them, and you will go into moderation where I can delete them before they appear.

This story appears on Apple News, taken from the BBC News site. Google it on the BBC site and watch the video if you can. I couldn’t. Anyone who blames the Ukrainians for this cruel war is insane. The attack on Ukraine was completely unprovoked. The Russian forces are now engaged in reducing the city of Mariupol to rubble. 90% of its buildings have been destroyed. Hundreds of women and children are buried in the rubble of a theater where they were sheltering. Hundreds more are buried under an arts school. And the world watched in horror.

In his hospital bed, little Artem stares into space. He clutches a small yellow toy tractor but says nothing as specialist nurses monitor his condition. The Russian shell that blasted shrapnel into his belly also badly wounded his parents and grandparents as they tried to flee Mariupol. A victim of Putin’s war and he’s not yet three years old.

In the next bed to Artem lies 15-year-old Masha, also from near Mariupol. Her right leg was amputated after it was torn apart by the blast from a Russian shell last Tuesday.

The very worst of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and what the relentless Russian bombardment has done to the people trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, can be seen at the Regional Children’s Hospital in the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated here. Their physical wounds are obvious and may, to an extent, heal. The psychological trauma will live with them for ever.

Doctors here and the children’s surviving relatives, asked us to tell their stories, among them Dr Yuri Borzenko, head of the Children’s Hospital. He can’t hide his contempt for what Russia has done.

“I hate Russia,” says Dr Borzenko, without a flicker of emotion on his face. “The girl who lost her leg (Masha) was so traumatised she wouldn’t eat or drink for days. She couldn’t mentally handle what had happened. We had to feed her intravenously.”

“Another boy,” says the doctor, “a six-year-old, with shrapnel in his skull described – without any tears or emotion – watching his mother burn to death in their car after it was hit. Two days later he said ‘dad buy me a new mum, I need someone to walk me to school’.”

What is happening in Mariupol is a humanitarian disaster, even – perhaps – a war crime. An estimated 90% of the city’s buildings have been damaged or destroyed. After last week’s destruction of a theatre where more than 1,000 people were sheltering, reports today that an arts school, with 400 people inside, has also been attacked.

Those who’ve been able to escape Mariupol talk of unimaginable horrors. First-hand accounts of bodies lying in the streets, of homes destroyed. Carrying those memories they put as much physical distance as they can between themselves and what they went through….

At Zaporizhzhia’s Children’s Hospital, I came across one grief-stricken, inconsolable father whose family had been completely torn apart.

His daughter Natasha, who was 26, and his 4-year-old granddaughter Dominica, were killed when a Russian shell landed near the shelter where the whole family was seeking refugee from the bombardment of Mariupol.

“I looked at the ground and there lay my little granddaughter with her head completely torn to pieces,” says Vladimir. “She lay there without a single breath and right next to her was my daughter with her legs fractured, open fractures.”

Dominica – whose pictures her grandfather almost caresses on his phone – was killed instantly. Her mother died from her injuries the next day.

As broken as he is, Vladimir is trying to stay strong for his second daughter, Diana. She was also critically wounded in the blast and was about to undergo emergency surgery.

But he could not hide his pain. “God, why would you bring all this upon me? I was not supposed to bury my children, my lovely girls, I failed to protect you.”

Vladimir Tismaneanu writes in American Purpose to denounce Putin’s claim that he is anti-Nazi. He is the author of “Putin’s Totalitarian Democracy.”

“Taming” Vladimir Putin is an impossible task, based on wishful thinking. Western democracies are procedural, contractual, constitutional arrangements. The FSB-controlled Russia is none of those things. Last month I watched the 2021 movie Munich: The Edge of War; Jeremy Irons plays Neville Chamberlain. I thought about the folly of putting trust in gangsters: A gentleman’s agreement with Putka the Bully is a stillborn project, a dead end.

Putka is a godfather, not a gentleman. To understand his “worldview” and modi operandi, read Mario Puzo and a history of the KGB, plus Karen Dawisha’s illuminating anatomy of Putin’s system as an authoritarian kleptocracy. For Putin, the legal person doesn’t exist. More, it should not exist.

In Putin’s Totalitarian Democracy (2020), which I wrote with Kate C. Langdon, we try to understand the origins and dynamics of Putinist political culture—its basic assumptions, conscious and subliminal goals, aspirations, apprehensions, affinities, and ambitions. Putin’s political hero is the late Yuri Andropov, who was the Soviet ambassador to Budapest when the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian Revolution in November 1956. Later, in 1968, Andropov was KGB chairman when Warsaw Pact tanks smashed the Prague Spring.

Putin, when in his early twenties, identified himself with the fictional Soviet spy Max Otto von Stierlitz played by the charismatic Vyacheslav Tikhonov in the legendary 1973 TV series, Seventeen Moments of Spring. Stierlitz was a master of deceit, self-control, and logical deduction. This is most likely how Putin sees himself. But in what the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich aptly called the “anti-Soviet Soviet Union,” there are many Stierlitz jokes.

Another source of Putin’s worldview can be found in Nikolay Shpanov’s propaganda novels, published in the early 1950s. Shpanov, an immensely popular author of military thrillers, endorsed and enhanced the narrative of World War II’s being the result of a Western conspiracy to destroy the USSR. This political myth endured, espoused by successive generations of party, Komsomol, army, and KGB cadres. For the ultra-nationalists, whenever Russia or the USSR lost a war, it was the result of a “stab in the back.”

Putin claims that he is an anti-fascist. That is absolutely false. I come from an anti-fascist family. My parents fought in the International Brigades. We lost close family members in the Holocaust. To call Volodymyr Zelensky and his supporters “Nazis” is not just moronic but nauseating. We know who the real fascist is—the KGB thug in the Kremlin with his militaristic delirium, Slavophile delusions, and imperial obsessions.

Years ago, I wrote in the journal Orbis about the Pamyat’s “patriotic society.” Putinism is the updated version of the Pamyat’s phobias, neuroses, and hatreds.

My father was born in Soroca, which was then in the Russian Empire, on February 26, 1912. During the Spanish Civil War, he joined the International Brigades. He lost his right arm in a battle on the River Ebro in 1938. His older brother, Abram, his wife, and his two children died, burned alive, in the Odessa massacre, which was ordered, planned, and perpetrated by Nazi Germany’s ally, the Romanian government of dictator Ion Antonescu. When Putin maintains that the invasion of democratic Ukraine is meant to “de-Nazify” a country whose president is a Ukrainian Jew, he commits an obscene infamy. He offends the memory of the Holocaust victims, including members of Zelensky’s family. I take personal offense at this ignominy. The scoundrel Putin is an assassin of memory.

Please open the link to read the rest of this interesting article.

The Washington Post reports that Putin callled French President Macron. They spoke for 90 minutes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, in what appeared to have been a markedly more tense exchange than previous conversations between the two leaders.

The 90-minute call failed to deliver a diplomatic breakthrough, and a senior French official said it left Macron convinced that “the worst is yet to come” and that Putin aims to take control of all of Ukraine.

“Your country will pay dearly because it will end up as an isolated country, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time,” Macron told Putin, according to a French official, who added that Macron “called on Vladimir Putin to not lie to himself.”

The conversation, which the French presidency said was initiated by Putin, came as Ukrainian officials were set to hold talks with a Russian delegation, according to Russian and Ukrainian officials. But based on the two leaders’ exchange, there was no indication Thursday that a diplomatic solution could be in sight.

“At this point, [Putin] refuses to cease his attacks on Ukraine,” Macron wrote on Twitter later Thursday.

The Kremlin’s news service cited Putin as having told Macron that the objectives “of the special military operation” — the term the Kremlin has used to refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — “will be fulfilled in any case.”

“Attempts to gain time by dragging negotiations will only lead to additional requirements for Kyiv in our negotiating position,” Putin told Macron, according to the readout.

A senior French official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because it is French government practice, said Putin’s remarks reflected a “determination to continue the military operation and to continue it to the end.”

In his speech, Macron had also said Putin’s claims that he wants to “denazify” Ukraine are “a lie” and “an insult to the history of Russia and Ukraine, to the memory of our elders who fought side by side against Nazism.”

Responding directly to those comments Thursday, the Kremlin news service said Putin disagreed “with many points” raised in Macron’s address, and he denied that Russia was behind the shelling of major Ukrainian cities — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Who is shelling Ukraine? It is a great mystery.