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HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK - Moves forward to 2125 due to election of US President trump.

Estimate of the time that Humanity will go extinct or civilization will collapse. The HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK moves forward to 2125 due to US President trump's abandonment of climate change goals. Apologies to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for using the name.

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There Are Alternatives to Free Market Capitalism [http://www.mkeever.com/taa.html]

Specific Country Economic Policy Analyses - More Than 50 Countries from Argentina to Yemen [http://www.mkeever.com]




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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

GOP Ain't Moral



A primer:


Some voters vote for the GOP because they think the GOP is moral and Democrats are not.


Really??


GOP - Forbidding abortions to prevent child murder is MORAL


Sanity - Requiring a child rape victim to bear her rapist's child is cruel and EVIL. It ruins two lives to save one. It is NOT moral.


Nobody can make that decision except the mother.


GOP - Changing election procedures to help trump win is MORAL.


Sanity - That is criminal and NOT moral.


GOP - Changing election laws to make it harder for poor people to vote is MORAL.


Sanity - That too is criminal and NOT moral.


GOP - trump says he won the 2020 election and I believe him because he is my guy; ignoring the complete lack of evidence and the unanimous verdicts of many courts is MORAL.


Sanity - It is NOT moral; it is INSANE !


GOP - Suing Biden to stop forgiving student loans is MORAL.


Sanity - That's just CRUEL , plain and simple.



Monday, September 26, 2022

Russia After Putin



The WEST, NATO, EU and the USA, has a strong security interests in the condition of Russia after Putin falls or dies. 

The Russian state is designed for tyranny and it is unlikely that a democracy will appear. It is more likely that another tyrant will emerge unless the West takes action.

Actions should be on two fronts:

1. Financial support for the State and large scale private businesses with significant employees; and,


2. Insistence that the DUMA pass laws to protect the economic structure of the country. It will be difficult but it is necessary.


Here are the conditions and policies the DUMA must protect [www.miepa.net] :


 GROUP 1: CRITICAL INTERNAL POLICIES

Economic policies in Group 1 are policies critical to the well-being and security of the nation-state. The policies in this group are a government's first priority.

Freedom from internal control

Citizens are free from positive or pro-active control by government agencies. They are free to move about and engage in any activity that is not prohibited for good reason. This freedom provides the maximum opportunity to create new enterprises and wealth. Unfree citizens must obtain permission before undertaking any wealth creating activity. Countries wherein citizens are free to move about at their own discretion receive high marks.

Freedom of speech

Citizens are able to express themselves freely without censorship or restriction. This freedom provides potential entrepreneurs with maximum exposure to possible opportunities. High marks to countries with no restrictions on speech or other communication.

Effective, fair police force

Citizens and enterprise managers need freedom from fear of criminals; freedom from fear of crime encourages maximum new enteprise creation.

A police force perceived as fair by all members of a community allows all members to share a sense of responsibility for the society's future. Minority citizens will be more likely to start new enterprises if they feel they will be treated equally. Countries receive high marks when the police force is efficient and fair.

Private property

Laws that protect private property in conformance with local practices so that titles are nationally recognized, instead of extra-legal titles that are recognized locally only, create incentives for individuals to establish wealth creating ventures, producing benefits for the entire economy. Countries where property owning citizens and foreigners alike have clear and court protected rights receive high scores, provided that all property (real, personal and intellectual) is protected. See THE MYSTERY OF CAPITAL: WHY CAPITALISM TRIUMPHS IN THE WEST AND FAILS EVERYWHERE ELSE, Hernando de Soto, Basic Books, 2000

Commercial banks

Commercial banks which lend money to enterprises and in which most citizens leave their cash deposits facilitate commercial activity and employment. Countries receive high marks when the commercial banking system is sound and actively finances business operations while limiting its activities in financial, non-business activities.

Communication systems

An extensive network of communication facilities - telephone, TV, radio, FAX, newspapers, magazines, computer networks and so forth - facilitates the introduction of new ideas and business opportunities into a country. High scores are received when communication facilities are ubiquitous.

Transportation

Good transportation facilitates the movement of merchandise and people, thereby improving the commercial activity of the country. All means are included: roads, rail, air, and ship. All markets of the country should be available by at least two transportation means. Countries receive high marks when all markets and population centers are easily accessible to passenger and freight transportation.

Education

Both the quality and quantity of education is critical to wealth creation. All the schools and universities in a country should prepare students to compete with students from other countries as well as other students within the country. Most children should receive an education sufficient to enable them to function in a modern economy. Countries with high literacy rates, high percentages of children enrolled in secondary schools and at University and whose Universities are world renowned for excellence receive high marks.

Social Mobility

The ability of each individual person in any group in society to advance in earning capacity is critical to wealth creation; barriers to such advancement reduce the society's capacity to create wealth. Jobs in all public sectors must be earned by ability and not given to cronies. Additionally, the education system should provide access by all persons to the tools needed by individuals from deprived backgrounds to join the more elite classes.

Share of All Jobs in Small Businesses

It is possible to use the percentage or share of overall jobs in a national economy held by workers in small businesses as an indicator of the openness of the economy to new business creation. Small to Medium size Enterprises [SME's] are generally held to be companies with fewer than 100 employees. Ideally, a country will have at least half or 50% of all jobs held by employees in SME's. Data for the USA is available from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, based on data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Business and Non-employer Statistics.

GROUP 2: CRITICAL EXTERNAL POLICIES

Economic policies in Group 2 are as critical to a country's well-being as the policies in Group 1. An effective sovereign government manages its external policies as well as it manages its internal policies.

Freedom from outside control

Citizens of any country should be free from control by any citizen or agency of any other country. Countries wherein citizens are subject only to the laws of the home country receive high marks.

Protection of Domestic Enterprises

Countries which create the most jobs, growth and wealth protect their domestic companies from foreign competition with tariffs, quotas and other restrictions, while taking care to enjoy the gains from trade wherever possible. [See Ian Fletcher, Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace it and Why; www.freetradedoesntwork.com for a complete discussion.] The more effective countries create an industrial policy - that is, they identify the industries they want to grow inside their country and then encourage those industries - and then use trade policy to support it.

Foreign currency transactions

Effective national governments require that only the domestic currency is used as money in the home country. All foreign currencies must be converted to domestic currency to conduct business. This creates a single currency and enables the government's fiscal and monetary policies to be effective. Countries in which all transactions are conducted in the official, national currency receive high scores.

Border control

Effective governments have strong borders. The national government decides which persons and goods shall enter and which shall not. Failure to control a country's borders leaves the wealth creating process inside the country open to any disruption from outside trends. Countries with effective control of smuggling in both directions get high scores.

GROUP 3: IMPORTANT INTERNAL POLICIES

Policies in this group are almost as important to national security as are policies from the first group.

Currency

Use of a single currency as money throughout a country encourages commerce within the country. Use of currencies issued by a variety of banks or other domestic bodies discourages commerce. Use of a single currency allows the economic policies of the sovereign government to have predictable effects. The difficulties are more severe when one or more of the currencies preferred for commerce are foreign currencies. Countries receive high marks when the only currency issued in the country is the official, government approved currency.

Cultural, language homogeneity

More wealth is created among a population that shares common values, language and customs. Introducing minority cultural groups increases the difficulty of conducting commerce and raises the possibility of armed conflict. When minority groups remain relatively small compared to the majority culture, wealth creation can continue. The likelihood of problems increases when the cultural differences are severe and when the various cultural groups are nearly equal in size. High scores go to countries with cultural and language homogeneity.

There is absolutely no justification here for any forced uniformity such as "ethnic cleansing." Any such action is morally reprehensible on its face. Countries with minority conflicts that remain peaceful create more wealth than countries where ethnic conflicts become violent.

Political effectiveness

Good governments recognize and solve problems. This improves the business climate when it extends to all parts of the country, rather than remaining localized in the major population centers. Countries wherein rural areas are governed as well as urban areas create more wealth. High scores accrue to countries wherein the political process does solve problems.

Institutional stability

Countries wherein most organizations remain stable for many years create more wealth than those countries where institutions change frequently. Countries with stable governments, courts, schools, law enforcement and businesses receive high scores.

Honest government

Good governments attract leaders who truly wish to help their subjects while poor governments contain functionaries who use their office for profit. Government leaders who work to limit or eliminate corruption create high scores for their country.

Common laws

Good governments have the same set of non-conflicting laws, justice and dispute resolution throughout the population. Also, the administration and implementation of the legal system is uniform in all parts of the country and for all parts of the population. High scores result when the legal system is effective and when it is equally fair in all parts of the country.

Central bank

Central banks are required to manage the commercial banks in the country and the currency of the country. These banks should be independent of political control and charged with producing the most good for the economy in the long term. A country receives a high score when the central bank manages the country's commercial banks and monetary policy effectively and the central bank is independent of political control.

Domestic budget management

Good governments spend as much money as they collect in taxes. Continuing or increasing budget deficits indicate a weak government that caters to special interests. A balanced domestic budget results in a high score for the country. However, if a country attempts to reach zero inflation, it is likely that wealth creation will be reduced; while inflation must be controlled, wise countries recognize that zero inflation is impossible to achieve and allow limited inflation as an incentive to job creation.

Government debt

Good governments manage their debt to avoid any negative effect on economic growth. Debt paid to foreigners is more of a drain on the economy than debt paid to citizens. It is possible to manage debt to achieve a high credit rating while still producing a negative force on the economy. Countries with total government debt as a low percentage of GDP receive a high score. A country is considered excessively indebted when the present value of its debt service exceeds 50 percent of its GNP.

NOTE: Debt produces a negative effect on the economy because debt service payments take money from wealth creating activities. This is true even if the borrowed principal produces wealth because the total repayment stream will be in excess of the borrowed principal. While inflation reduces the economic cost of borrowed money, inflation creates severe negative effects on the economy and borrowing to finance budget deficits increases inflation. See CONCEPTUAL ECONOMICS.

Economic statistics

Accurate and plentiful statistics produce increased awareness of business opportunities. Poor statistics increase risk and reduce investment. High scores go to countries where plentiful statistics are published, provided that independent observers rate them as accurate.

Protection of public health and safety

Good management of waste, food inspection, infectious disease and other public health issues increases wealth in a country. Countries receive high scores when their public health statistics for indicators like infant mortality and tuberculosis approach the highest world wide standards as collected by the UN.

High wage policies

Countries that encourage high wages have larger domestic markets. Obviously, countries with high wage policies must protect domestic workers from low wage foreign competition or the positive effects of the high wage policies will be destroyed. Countries receive high scores when most of the working people can afford to buy consumer goods beyond basic living necessities.

Environmental protection

Countries that protect their natural environment from harm preserve the value of their resources. Countries which resolve conflicts between resource preservation and resource development receive credit for sound policy making. Countries receive high scores when they protect clean air, water and forests with effective regulation.

GROUP 4: IMPORTANT EXTERNAL POLICIES

This group of external policies shares a high level of importance with the previous group.

Strong army

The national armed forces should be strong enough to protect the country from armed attack by likely hostile neighbors as well as from attack by revolutionaries or bandits within its borders. Small countries do not require armed forces to protect them from large countries; they rely on defense agreements with protector states instead of diverting massive funds to military uses. Countries which have sufficient armed force to protect the nation's borders from attack receive high scores, provided that the cost of the forces is below one-third of the domestic budget.

Foreign trade impact

Well managed countries rely on foreign markets for a manageable share of their economic output. If trade accounts for a majority of the nation's economy, the country is vulnerable to outside forces. On the other hand, if trade accounts for almost none of the country's economy then it is likely that the country will create more wealth for its citizens by increasing foreign trade. Countries where the total of imports and exports (foreign trade) is about one-third of the GDP receive high scores.

Management of foreign currency budget

Well managed countries recognize that foreign currency surpluses and deficits have multiplied effects on the economy because of the fractional reserve banking system; these countries do not accumulate large surpluses or deficits of foreign currencies. Either imbalance reduces the economy's strength. Countries receive high scores when the combined balance of payments for goods, services and real capital transfers is close to zero.

GROUP 5: BENEFICIAL INTERNAL POLICIES

These policies benefit wealth creation and national security although they are not essential.

Layers of collective action

Countries with a wide variety of collective enterprises develop a tradition of accomplishment and leadership. Elected school boards, city councils and volunteer groups give many people an emotional stake in the country's future and also provide a steady supply of seasoned managers. Countries wherein there are many locally elected bodies that are not dependent on the central government for funding or appointed officials receive high scores.

Pro business climate

If the society places a high value on business, then more people will consider enterprise leadership as a career and more businesses will be created. When business persons enjoy high social status and encouragement from the government the country receives a high score.

Government enterprises

Government owned businesses can contribute to the well being of a country, provided that they are self-supporting. However, some governments establish and maintain enterprises for other reasons; these enterprises destroy wealth when they require government subsidies to continue. If the treasury pays few such subsidies, the country receives a high score.

GROUP 6: BENEFICIAL EXTERNAL POLICIES

These policies benefit any country.

International security agreements

Mutual aid treaties and other agreements that increase a country's ability to counter an armed threat help a country's security. Countries which enter such treaties to protect thier domestic security from attack receive high marks when the treaties are effective.

Protection of domestic enterprises from government mandated costs

When any country imposes costs on its domestic enterprises that are not uniformly imposed by other countries, such as environmental taxes or worker safety regulations, those companies will be at a cost disadvantage in the home market. Countries should protect domestic companies from government imposed cost disadvantages. Countries which impose tariffs to neutralize these costs receive high scores.

"©" copyright 1995, 1999, 2003, 2018 Mike P. McKeever

 













Thursday, September 22, 2022

Hey DEMS: Playing Nice Won't Beat the Insurrection



GOP election deniers run on fear and hatred. 


To beat the insurrection, we need Biden's really good policies, but they are not enough by themselves to beat the insurrectionist GOP.


In every contested election across the country, Democrat candidates should attack every denier/insurrectionist with fear and anger, and better policies. Do not let them lie their way out of the consequences of them winning. 


Average American voters cannot comprehend what a GOP victory will bring since they have not seen it in person. 


Voting for any GOP election denier will help install a tyranny in the United States. All GOP candidates should be accused of allowing the actions below:


Democracy will die: Elections will not matter - armed mobs of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers will assault the Statehouses violently in all States and install a puppet of the tyrant.


Abortion will be illegal - even 10 year old rape victims will be forced to give birth. Hospital medical procedures will prioritize saving the child and allowing the mother die. 


Torture cells will be installed in all major cities. Political malcontents will be arrested, hands tied, tortured and then killed. Burials will be remote and unmarked. Relatives will never hear from them again. I will probably suffer this fate.


The Tyrant will encourage Proud Boys and other insurrection mobs to torture and kill black, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Trans, LGBT and any other group they choose. They will not be penalized for their crimes. 


Air Force goons who throw people into the ocean without parachutes because they are political opponents will be promoted. 


DOXXING - you may be DOXXED. GOP can post your personal information on insurrection websites and social media. DOXXERS are cowards. Do not respond to email or phone messages. Take your garden hose and spray them with water if they come to your house. Take photos of their license plates. 


I am paying attention and I am afraid.


Vote as if my life depends on it - because it does; your life may depend on my vote.




Saturday, September 10, 2022

Who will an American Tyrant Kill ?



 Americans who want to install a tyrant in Government may think his disregard for law and order will protect them from a runaway Government. 


It is more likely that the tyrant will kill them first since he will accept no constraints from  Government. We should ask about Epstein and Ivana. 


Here's what Aesop said: 'Those who voluntarily put power into the hands of [a] tyrant...must not wonder if it be at last turned against themselves' Aesop


Here's what Putin actually does:


' More than 2,000 miles away, in Spain, another oligarch — Sergei Protosenya — was found hanged, with his wife and daughter stabbed to death, Spanish TV channel Telecinco reported. His body was found Tuesday, Spanish outlet El Punta Vui reported.


He was found with a bloodstained knife and an ax at his side, Telecinco reported.


Protosenya was the former vice president and chief accountant of Novatek, a major gas company with close connections to Gazprombank.


He and his wife and daughter were staying in a rented luxury villa in Lloret de Mar, a coastal Catalan town, for the Easter period, according to Telecinco.'  


https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/world/news/2-russian-oligarchs-were-found-dead-one-day-apart-alongside-their-wives-and-children-reports-say/articleshow/90985521.cms




Sunday, September 4, 2022

'It’s America—love it or leave it'

 

Seems it may be time to bring back the 1970's:


Mother Jones: 'In 1970, country singer Ernest Tubb was pissed off.


“Well, I’m getting mighty tired of seeing hippies run wild and burning down the schools and stepping on the flag,” he sorta-sings, mostly-rants. Tubb’s song crescendoes with the chorus: “It’s America—love it or leave it.” '    

 Love it or leave it





Wednesday, August 31, 2022

D O J Answers in New Filing

 

See the entire document here.      Copy and paste the link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nxJHlu3jqN5njXLM8J8QTrzRsiE4M_p1/view

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Without Fear or Favor



I am grateful to live where no man is above the law. Merrick Garland and the DOJ will follow the law where the facts lead. If they find a person has committed a crime, they will prosecute the person. And, if a jury finds the accused party guilty, he will serve a prison sentence. 


As Charles Linehan put it: 


There are some deluded folks who may demonstrate against lawful actions taken by law enforcement and who may also threaten the government officials carrying out the law. Threats against law officers are crimes. The folks making the threats will be prosecuted and, if found guilty, they will be sent to jail. 


There’s an old saying “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime “

Friday, July 22, 2022

U.S. considers giving Warthog warplanes to Ukraine and training its pilots.

 U.S. considers giving Warthog warplanes to Ukraine and training its pilots. — New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, July 22, 2022




U.S. Air Force leaders have raised the possibility of training Ukrainian pilots in the United States and giving Ukraine the American fleet of A-10 Warthog ground-attack planes — an idea that could solve a problem for both countries.


The notion is a classic trial balloon. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall this week entertained the idea of giving the A-10 planes to Ukraine, while adding that it was still in the discussion phase.


Such a plan could make sense. Ukraine needs more air power and more ways to destroy Russian artillery and tanks, and the Warthog was designed during the Cold War for that very purpose.

And the Air Force has for years wanted to get rid of the A-10s. That would free up maintenance money for new planes that can be used for multiple purposes, and would be more effective in a possible conflict with China.


But Congress has blocked every attempt to retire the A-10.


Under the Obama administration, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates tried to retire the plane, only to be opposed by Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire. Instead of retiring the A-10, Congress approved money to modernize and extend the life of the planes, a project that was completed in 2019.


Under Mr. Kendall, the Air Force has once again tried to retire the planes to save money to modernize the military. But the most recent attempt to mothball the Warthog was blocked by Senator Mark Kelly, Democrat of Arizona.


While designed to destroy Russian tanks, the Warthog was used in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide support for troops in combat. Air Force pilots would fly the Warthog slowly over the terrain and then open up with its guns on insurgent fighters.


Some former officials believe that in Ukraine the Warthog could perform a combination of that role and its original tank-killing mission. In recent months, those former officials have been working with Ukrainian and American officials to discuss the possibility of sending Ukraine at least some of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet.


For now, though, any plan to ship Warthogs to Ukraine remains only a suggestion.


But there are some indications that sending the planes to Ukraine could appeal to some lawmakers. The House version of the annual defense policy bill would authorize the United States to train Ukrainian pilots on American planes.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

2024: Count ALL the Votes



trump may succeed in violently attacking several state election systems and processes so that the Electors cannot certify the election of a new President.


Al Gore in that situation deferred to the Supreme Court and did not contest the election of Bush.


Joe Biden CANNOT follow that lead. We want him to stay President until the votes are counted and certified. 


Be sure to count ALL the votes, even if it takes a year. 


If we hand the country to trump, he will never leave. The rule of law will become an archaic memory. 







Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Can a U.S. president or candidate face criminal charges?

 


I read the law this way: trump is a private citizen and can be prosecuted now for any crimes he may have committed in or out of office. 


The idea that he can escape prosecution in the event he is a candidate for President in 2024 is simply absurd.


No person is above the law.


The United States of America faces severe negative consequences if we fail to indict trump for all criminal activities - such a failure may well let loose a cascade of violence and intimidation that can end the rule of law in the United States.


We should appoint a Special Prosecutor in the event the Attorney General cannot prosecute him expeditiously. Any delay encourages violence from his supporters.


Delaying prosecution sends the wrong message. Now is the time to act.


'Can a sitting U.S. president face criminal charges?'


By Jan Wolfe, Reuters, FEBRUARY 26, 2019


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-indictment-explainer/can-a-sitting-u-s-president-face-criminal-charges-idUSKCN1QF1D3


'COULD TRUMP BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE AND THEN PROSECUTED? 


Yes. There is no debate over whether a former president can be indicted for conduct that occurred while in office. In fact, President Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon after his resignation, was mindful of this when he granted “a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed.” '


[WHAT ABOUT NOW?]


'...some lawyers have argued that the nation’s founders could have included a provision in the Constitution shielding the president from prosecution, but did not do so, suggesting an indictment would be permissible. According to this view, immunity for the president violates the fundamental principle that nobody is above the law....'


COULD MUELLER [HAVE INDICTED] ...TRUMP DESPITE THE EXISTING POLICY?


'Possibly. The Justice Department regulations governing Mueller’s appointment allow him to deviate from department policy in “extraordinary circumstances” with the approval of the U.S. attorney general, the nation’s top law enforcement official. Trump appointee William Barr currently holds that post.


Some legal experts have suggested Mueller could invoke this exception if he has uncovered serious wrongdoing and lacked confidence in the ability of the divided Congress to hold Trump accountable. Some lawyers also have said Mueller is not bound by the 1973 and 2000 memos because he is not a typical employee of the department.


Ken Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton in the 1990s in the somewhat different role of independent counsel, in 1998 conducted his own analysis of the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted, indicating he did not consider the 1973 Justice Department memo binding on him.


Starr did not indict Clinton in his investigation involving the president’s relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, but lawyers in his office concluded he had the authority to do so, according to a once-secret internal memo made public by the New York Times in 2017.'



Monday, July 18, 2022

Radical USA Terrorists Will Attack Elections Violently

 

There is an 80% to 90% probability that domestic USA terrorists will violently attack State government facilities during both the 2022 AND 2024 elections.

 

They will likely attack two or three election vote counting locations and State capitol buildings. It may happen in States where Republican majorities control both houses of the State legislature.

 

The early attacks can serve as a test of the protective systems installed by the National Guard and Police. If protection is weak and attackers succeed  OR escape with few arrests and little physical harm, then terrorists may see that as a message: the US will not protect the rule of law against violence. Any such message can encourage more attacks.

 

The goal of these attacks will be to call into question the legitimacy of the election process and results.

 

That can be an excuse for overturning all elections and installing unelected officials in critical positions.

 

The USA should prepare to treat such attacks as acts of war. 

 

 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Christian Nationalists - Are They Terrorists ??

 NYTimes - OPINION

GUEST ESSAY


Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next

July 5, 2022


By Katherine Stewart


Ms. Stewart has reported on the religious right for more than a decade. She is the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.”


'The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.


The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph. On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.


A good place to gauge the spirit and intentions of the movement that brought us the radical majority on the Supreme Court is the annual Road to Majority Policy Conference. At this year’s event, which took place last month in Nashville, three clear trends were in evidence. First, the rhetoric of violence among movement leaders appeared to have increased significantly from the already alarming levels I had observed in previous years. Second, the theology of dominionism — that is, the belief that “right-thinking” Christians have a biblically derived mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society — is now explicitly embraced. And third, the movement’s key strategists were giddy about the legal arsenal that the Supreme Court had laid at their feet as they anticipated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.


They intend to use that arsenal — together with additional weaponry collected in cases like Carson v. Makin, which requires state funding of religious schools if private, secular schools are also being funded; and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which licenses religious proselytizing by public school officials — to prosecute a war on individual rights, not merely in so-called red state legislatures but throughout the nation.


Although metaphors of battle are common enough in political gatherings, this year’s rhetoric appeared more violent, more graphic and more tightly focused on fellow Americans, rather than on geopolitical foes.


“The greatest danger to America is not our enemies from the outside, as powerful as they may be,” said former President Donald Trump, who delivered the keynote address at the event. “The greatest danger to America is the destruction of our nation from the people from within. And you know the people I’m talking about.”


Speakers at the conference vied to outdo one another in their denigration of the people that Mr. Trump was evidently talking about. Democrats, they said, are “evil,” “tyrannical” and “the enemy within,” engaged in “a war against the truth.”


“The backlash is coming,” warned Senator Rick Scott of Florida. “Just mount up and ride to the sounds of the guns, and they are all over this country. It is time to take this country back.”


Citing the fight against Nazi Germany during the Battle of the Bulge, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina said, “We find ourselves in a pitched battle to literally save this nation.” Referring to a passage from Ephesians that Christian nationalists often use to signal their militancy, he added, “I don’t know about you, but I got my pack on, I got my boots on, I got my helmet on, I’ve got on the whole armor.”


It is not a stretch to link this rise in verbal aggression to the disinformation campaign to indoctrinate the Christian nationalist base in the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, along with what we’re learning from the Jan. 6 hearings. The movement is preparing “patriots” for the continuation of the assault on democracy in 2022 and 2024.


The intensification of verbal warfare is connected to shifts in the Christian nationalist movement’s messaging and outreach, which were very much in evidence at the Nashville conference. Seven Mountains Dominionism — the belief that “biblical” Christians should seek to dominate the seven key “mountains” or “molders” of American society, including the government — was once considered a fringe doctrine, even among representatives of the religious right. At last year’s Road to Majority conference, however, there was a breakout session devoted to the topic. This year, there were two sessions, and the once arcane language of the Seven Mountains creed was on multiple speakers’ lips.


The hunger for dominion that appears to motivate the leadership of the movement is the essential context for making sense of its strategy and intentions in the post-Roe world. The end of abortion rights is the beginning of a new and much more personal attack on individual rights.


And indeed it is personal. Much of the rhetoric on the right invokes visions of vigilante justice. This is about “good guys with guns” — or neighbors with good eavesdropping skills — heroically taking on the pernicious behavior of their fellow citizens. Among the principal battlefields will be the fallopian tubes and uteruses of women.


At a breakout session called “Life Is on the Line: What Does the Future of the Pro-Life Movement Look Like From Here?” Chelsey Youman, the Texas state director and national legislative adviser to Human Coalition Action, a Texas-based anti-abortion organization with a national strategic focus, described the connection between vigilantes and abortion rights.


Instead of the state regulating abortion providers, she explained, “you and me as citizens of Texas or this country or wherever we can pass this bill can instead sue the abortion provider.” Mrs. Youman, as it happens, played a role in promoting the Texas law Senate Bill 8, which passed in May 2021 and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. She was exultant over the likely passage of similar laws across the nation. “We have legislation ready to roll out for every single state you live in to protect life, regardless of the Supreme Court, regardless of your circuit court.” To be sure, Christian nationalists are also pushing for a federal ban. But the struggle for the present will center on state-level enforcement mechanisms.


Movement leaders have also made it clear that the target of their ongoing offensive is not just in-state abortion providers but also what they call abortion trafficking — that is, women crossing state lines to obtain legal abortions, along with people who provide those women with services or support, like cars and taxis. Mrs. Youman hailed the development of a new “long-arm jurisdiction” bill that offers a mechanism for targeting out-of-state abortion providers. “It creates a wrongful death cause of action,” she said, “so we’re excited about that.”


The National Right to Life Committee’s model legislation for the post-Roe era includes broad criminal enforcement as well as civil enforcement mechanisms. “The model law also reaches well beyond the actual performance of an illegal abortion,” according to text on the organization’s website. It also includes “aiding or abetting an illegal abortion,” targeting people who provide “instructions over the telephone, the internet or any other medium of communication.”


Mrs. Youman further made clear that Christian nationalists will target the pills used for medication abortions. “Our next big bill is going to make the Heartbeat Act look tame, you guys; they’re going to freak out!” she said. “It’s designed specifically to siphon off these illegal pills.”


Americans who stand outside the movement have consistently underestimated its radicalism. But this movement has been explicitly antidemocratic and anti-American for a long time.


It is also a mistake to imagine that Christian nationalism is a social movement arising from the grass roots and aiming to satisfy the real needs of its base. It isn’t. This is a leader-driven movement. The leaders set the agenda, and their main goals are power and access to public money. They aren’t serving the interests of their base; they are exploiting their base as a means of exploiting the rest of us.


Christian nationalism isn’t a route to the future. Its purpose is to hollow out democracy until nothing is left but a thin cover for rule by a supposedly right-thinking elite, bubble-wrapped in sanctimony and insulated from any real democratic check on its power.'



Friday, June 24, 2022

Did Putin Write the Plan?

 

Here's the plan


Copy and paste: 


https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22060615-1776-returns


Reads just like the Russian battle plan held by Russian troops invading Ukraine....



Sunday, June 19, 2022

Biden: It Is Time to Own the Feels

 


Biden and the Democrats have ceded the political discussion about feelings and emotions to the GOP.

 

Many Americans buy into feelings as a substitute for rational analysis; then some vote for tyrants who promise them they will feel good. Some of us are afraid of the future and do not have patience to follow the intricacies of legislation and bureaucratic practice. 

 

It is time to turn the table and speak openly about Biden's feelings on issues that resonate with many Americans.

 

Of course, Biden can say this: ‘Here is my feeling about an issue, but it does not mean I can change anything without following the law.'

 

For example: 'I am proud and happy to be your President and an American because I know that Americans can solve any problem when we work together; I think that is how we hope for a better future. But, I am afraid and sad that some in our country are actively working to install a tyranny and overturn our rule of law. I worry that some Americans will try hard to destroy our political process. Some of us are afraid for our future and then follow a false creed that promises to solve all our problems. I am saddened that the politicians who promise to fix those issues are the very politicians who want to keep the problem alive so they can make more money.'

 

A few issues that may benefit from that approach include immigration, police brutality, gun control, inflation, abortion, LGBT folks, unemployment, homelessness, monopolies, billionaires, Russia, Supreme Court, etc., etc.

 

It is a mistake to avoid the emotions around each such issue in favor of working ONLY on real solutions; we have to do both.

 

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Fear the Evangelicals

 


Somber warning from Pastor John Pavlovitz about the intentions of Evangelical "conservative" Christians in American politics.


“I’ve been a pastor in the church for over two decades, much of that in predominantly white churches in the American South.

I’ve spent countless hours in church staff meetings and men’s Bible studies and youth pastor conferences.

I’ve stayed connected on social media with thousands of people still there in those churches. I read what they share and post and amplify and I know how they think and what they believe.

I need you to understand something and I say it without any hyperbole: white Evangelicals need to be stopped, now.

If the 2022 midterms elections allow Republicans to gain control of Congress, Conservative Christians will decimate this nation, and LGBTQ people, Muslims, women, people of color, and non-Christians will never have equality under the law again. We will all be at their mercy—and they will no longer have use for mercy.

This is not alarmist, sky-is-falling histrionics, it is the clear and sober forecast from someone who knows these people better than anyone. Over the last decade and a half, as my theology shifted and my beliefs grew more and more progressive, I’ve been a kind of undercover Liberal in an increasingly extremist movement, that while once relegated to minor fringe noisemakers is now at the precipice of Roman Empire-level power. They are less than two years away from having a dominance that they will wield violently and not relinquish.

I watched it all unfold from the inside:

I was at a North Carolina megachurch when Obama was elected and I saw the shift take place firsthand. I saw the fear slowly being ratcheted up and the agenda become solidified and the prejudices leveraged.

I was speaking regularly at the Billy Graham headquarters when Fox News reporters and Republicans like Sarah Palin started walking the halls with frequency.

I saw the messages at pastor’s conferences grow more incendiary and urgent, and heard the supremacist dog whistles become louder and more frequent.

While many decent people around this nation celebrated the progress of a black president and the many civil and human rights victories and gradually let down their guard—the white Conservative church set off the alarms and prepared for a holy war.

Yet, they were still a largely powerless, dying dinosaur until 2016, when Donald Trump acquired the presidency and gave the Evangelicals the perfect amoral partner to serve as the biggest bully pulpit they’ve ever had. Combine that with a fragmented Left, a general fatigue by the larger population, a ceremonial victory in Congress (thanks to Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema), and Republican attacks on voters’ rights— and we are now a hair’s breadth from the subjugation of diverse humanity here.

These are not followers of Jesus despite the trappings and window dressing. They are Jesus-less extremists: blind zealots for nothing but power. They have been conditioned by decades of polluted theology and FoxNews alternative facts to see diversity as a threat, to see progress as attacks on America, and to interpret more people being treated with dignity as oppression of white people.

Trust me when I tell you that we won’t recover from the theocracy Evangelicals are constructing once it is established. If we fail in 2022, they will have a political power that will render every election null and void, and we will never have a voice again in our lifetimes.

Women will lose autonomy over their own bodies.

LGBTQ people will have the rights to marry and adopt taken away.

People of color will be fully squeezed out of the electoral process.

Immigrants will be denied access to opportunity and refuge here.

These are not creative projections. They are precisely what Evangelicals have repeatedly stated as their intentions, and they’re closer than they’ve ever been to having a rubber stamp.

We can still stop it, though.

We just need a unity and coordination that transcends theirs.

We need a sustained, passionate, dedicated defense of humanity that rivals their relentless assaults on it.

I hear many people say they’re terrified, but being terrified alone doesn’t do anything but help these people.

Be terrified and get angry.

Be terrified and get busy.

Be terrified and go to work.

Be terrified and fight like hell.

I wish more decent people in America remembered they are among the vast majority instead of acting as if they are helpless victims of Republican Christians. We could defeat them, and we need to. We just need to stop lamenting how much damage they are doing and start doing something to oppose them.

We’ve seen this play out throughout history and we know how it ends. We know what unchecked religious extremist is capable of and we know the cost of the silence and inaction of good people. We also know what people are capable of when they refuse to accept fascism and white supremacy cloaked in the Bible and wrapped in the flag, when they fight for something inherently good together.

As someone who knows just how much these Christians have lost the plot of their faith tradition, believe me when I tell you that they cannot be allowed to steer this nation. It will not end well for the disparate people who call it home or who one day wish to.

Love and equity and diversity are in the balance.

It’s time we made a choice.

It may be the last one we get.”

Pastor John Pavlovitz

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

I Thought Putin Invaded Only Ukraine.



 OPINION, N Y Times, May 31, 2022, THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


'I Thought Putin Invaded Only Ukraine. I Was Wrong.


BERLIN — I’ve been writing nonstop about the Ukraine war ever since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, but I confess that it took coming to Europe and meeting with politicians, diplomats and entrepreneurs here for me to fully grasp what happened. You see, I thought Vladimir Putin had invaded Ukraine. I was wrong. Putin had invaded Europe.


He shouldn’t have done that. This could be the biggest act of folly in a European war since Hitler invaded Russia in 1941.


I only fully understood this when I got to this side of the Atlantic. It was easy from afar to assume — and probably easy for Putin to assume — that eventually Europe would reconcile itself to the full-scale invasion Putin launched against Ukraine on Feb. 24, the way Europe reconciled with his 2014 devouring of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a remote slice of land where he met little resistance and set off limited shock waves.


Wrong, wrong, wrong.


This invasion — with Russian soldiers indiscriminately shelling Ukrainian apartment buildings and hospitals, killing civilians, looting homes, raping women and creating the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II — is increasingly seen as a 21st-century rerun of Hitler’s onslaught against the rest of Europe, which started in September 1939 with the German attack on Poland. Add on top of that Putin’s seeming threat to use nuclear weapons, warning that any country that interfered with his unprovoked war would face “consequences you have never seen,” and it explains everything.


It explains why, practically overnight, Germany’s government dispensed with nearly 80 years of aversion to conflict and maintaining the smallest defense budget possible, and announced instead a huge increase in military spending and plans to send arms to Ukraine.


It explains why, practically overnight, Sweden and Finland abandoned more than 70 years of neutrality and applied for membership in NATO.


It explains why, practically overnight, Poland gave up playing around with pro-Putin, anti-immigrant populist Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, and opened its borders to more than two million Ukrainian refugees while also making itself into a crucial land bridge to funnel NATO arms into Ukraine.


It explains why, practically overnight, the European Union threw off years of baby-step economic sanctions on Russia and fired a precision economic-sanctions missile right into the center of Putin’s economy.


In sum, what I thought was just a Russian invasion of Ukraine has become a European earthquake — “an awakening — boom! — and then everything changed,” as Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, put it to me. “The status quo ante will not come back. You are seeing a huge change in Europe in response to Russia — not based on American pressure, but because the threat perception of Russia today is completely different: We understand that Putin is not talking about Ukraine alone, but about all of us and our way of freedom.”


Whether we like it or not, added Fischer, modern Europe is now in a “confrontational mode with Russia. Russia is no longer part of any European peace order.” There’s been “a complete loss of trust with Putin.”


Is there any wonder why? Putin’s army is systematically destroying Ukrainian cities and infrastructure with the seeming intent not to impose Russian rule on these towns, communities and farms but rather to erase them and their residents from the map and make true by force Putin’s crackpot claim that Ukraine is not a real country.


At the Davos World Economic Forum last week, I interviewed Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, Ukraine, the town where Russia stands accused of murdering scores of civilians and leaving their bodies on the streets to rot, or piled into a mass grave in a churchyard, before the Russian troops were driven out.


“We had 419 peaceful citizens murdered in multiple ways,” Fedoruk told me. “We had no military infrastructure in our town. People were defenseless. The Russian soldiers stole, they raped and they drank. … I am really surprised that this is happening in the 21st century.”


If that was the “shock” phase of this war — and it is still going on — the “awe” phase is something I detected among European officials in Davos and Berlin. To put it bluntly, while the United States of America seems to be coming apart, the United States of Europe — the 27 members of the European Union — have stunned everyone, and most of all themselves, by coming together to make a fist, along with a number of other European nations and NATO, to stymie Putin’s invasion.


You could almost feel E.U. officials saying: “Wow, did we make that fist? Is that our fist?”


Since February, the E.U. has imposed five packages of sanctions against Russia — sanctions that not only badly hurt Russia but are also costly for the E.U. countries in terms of lost business or higher raw material costs. A sixth package, agreed to on Monday, will cut some 90 percent of E.U. oil imports from Russia by the end of this year while also ejecting Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, from SWIFT, the vital global banking messaging system.


Maybe the most impressive thing is how many Ukrainian refugees E.U. nations have been willing to house without much complaint. There is an awareness that Ukrainian menfolk are fighting to defend them, too, so the E.U. nations can at least house their women, children and elderly.


“They are being given the same health care, childhood allowances and education that Poles are,” Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, told me. “Why not? They are working and paying taxes. The only thing they don’t have is the right to vote.”


Putin thought the E.U. would quickly splinter under his pressure, added Morawiecki, “but Putin was wrong. Europe is now much more united than before the Ukraine war.”


Putin, observing all of this, must be asking himself: “Is that a fist I see coming at me from the E.U.? Can’t be! No, wait … it is! What’s going on here! I thought I had Germany in my pocket — bought and paid for with my cheap gas. I never dreamed they’d rally to Ukraine this way and see my invasion of Ukraine as an attack on all of them.”


But that’s exactly what happened. Still, many in the E.U. are asking how long they will be able to maintain this painful fist. It is a legitimate question.


“Putin is counting on the fatigue of the West,” Morawiecki said. “He knows that he has much more time because democracies are less patient than autocracies.”


It’s true. Some E.U. leaders are already encouraging President Biden to call Putin and explore terms of a cease-fire. Putin’s forces in eastern and southern Ukraine are now out-pummeling the Ukrainian Army at various strategic junctions, volleying round after round of rockets and heavy artillery. They don’t need to be accurate; they just need to overwhelm the Ukrainian forces with their sheer volume.


I hope the Ukrainians can hold their ground long enough for more advanced Western arms to arrive to even the fight and for the E.U. sanctions on Russia to really hurt, so that Ukrainians have real leverage with Putin in any negotiated settlement.


That said, though, I could not help but notice another theme that has run through my conversations here. It is a conviction that because this is so much Putin’s war, and because the barbarism of his forces in this war has been so criminal, as long as Putin remains in power in Moscow it will be very difficult to trust Russia on anything regarding Ukraine.


I heard no one advocate regime change, but I also heard no one say the West could return to any normalcy with Russia without it. All of which is to say something very big with Putin got broken here, and that is going to be a problem when we do move to the negotiating table — as long as Putin leads Russia. But Putin is a problem for the Russian people to deal with, not us.'

Sunday, May 15, 2022

We Are FAMILY



The United States of America is a diverse family. Anyone living here is a family member. You don't get to choose your family - it is given.


Family members help each other when times are hard, it is what most Americans do.


Well-to-do families help the poor and marginalized families. 


But, we can choose to stop helping each other. 


If many of us choose to stop helping, then our family will fail.


I invite any American resident who does not want to help our family to leave. I am sure you will be welcome in the Russian army and other places. 


Here's what our family looks like:


Percent of 2021 total population of   331,893,745 [US Census}


Self-identified race, ethnicity Percent of population


Non-Hispanic White                57.8%


Hispanic and Latino (of any race) 18.7%


Black or African American        12.1%


Asian                                         5.9%


Two or more races                        4.1%


Native Americans and Alaska Natives 0.7%


Some other race                         0.5%


Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders 0.2%



     Sexual orientation: 

4.1% of Americans aged 18–45 identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual [UCLA]; extrapolating to total population gives 13 million LGBTQ


     Numbers of Foreign born residents:


Americas                   23,241,959


Europe                    4,818,662


Asia                               13,907,844


Africa                     2,293,028


Oceania                    263,965


It is likely that recent immigrants value our family more than some born into it.


       Health - 


       Mental Illness: 20%, 66 million



Mental health challenges exist frequently throughout the United States. About one in five (20%) adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in a given year.  Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide and there is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. We are in the middle of an epidemic and you can help. [https://www.defeatsuicide.com/the-epidemic]


      Disabled: 19%, 61 million


61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. 26 percent (one in 4) of adults in the United States have some type of disability.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

General Strike: US Women May 11, 2022


The forces of repression are dismantling freedom for women in the United States.


We call upon ALL American Women to STRIKE: Withhold ALL your contributions for one day Wednesday May 11, 2022.


Let men change diapers, wash dishes, answer the phone, clean their mothers' body, etc., while women stay home and watch TV or read.


The economy and the government will shut down for a day. 


Men will fear another Strike. Women will have power to stop repressive forces.


THIS IDEA HAS SUCCEEDED BEFORE:


Women struck in Iceland for one day: ' 24 October 1975 - when 90% of women in the country decided to demonstrate their importance by going on strike....Banks, factories and some shops had to close, as did schools and nurseries - leaving many fathers with no choice but to take their children to work. There were reports of men arming themselves with sweets and colouring pencils to entertain the crowds of overexcited children in their workplaces. Sausages - easy to cook and popular with children - were in such demand the shops sold out..' 


Things changed in Iceland; see it here..




Saturday, April 30, 2022

Bear Baiting: What is it like when Putin wants you dead?



Bill Browder has written a gripping book about how he pissed off Putin.


Spy tip: the FSB treats themselves to a cup of tea in your kitchen and leaves the dirty cup as a calling card.  



Sunday, April 24, 2022

Billionaires: It's Your Fault


The United States of America faces many severe challenges. Many Americans suffer real and preventable ills. 


While some look to Government to solve those ills, Government, especially in the United States of America, cannot solve them.


Our political system is gridlocked and cannot manage the simplest task. Our enemies exult.


Simultaneously, you, the obscenely rich among us collect massive fortunes and then hide away; you fail collectively to address any real issues.


I speak to you:


Listen up you bastards, you have two choices.


You can man up and solve the issues; 


or, you can continue to hide out while waiting for us to find you and HANG you.


You have no middle way; the Rapture will NOT save you. If Putin takes power in Washington D.C., you are the first person he will kill. 


Your wealth will not protect you.


BUT, throughout history, when the rich people decide to fix something, it gets fixed. When rich people ignore problems, the problems continue to fester.


Every time a homeless person dies or is killed on the street, IT IS YOUR FAULT.


Every person shot by police IS YOUR FAULT.


Every child killed by Russian bombs, missiles or pistols IS YOUR FAULT.


Your choice: Cowardly death or heroic attempt to fix real issues. 


Choose one, now.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Russia - Murder and Genocide as Policy



Russia, quite simply, is unfit for the civilized world. Stalin and Putin simply kill their political rivals.  

The Russian apparatus established for systematic murder and genocide requires dismantling in order to secure a real change; simply replacing Putin will not suffice. It will be difficult.

Stalin Massacres


Some Putin Murders to 2009 [La Russophobe]

 

March 1997

45-year-old former KGB agent Vladimir Putin is plucked from obscurity out of the St. Petersburg local government apparatus by President Boris Yeltsin and named Deputy Chief of Staff. In June, he defends his PhD dissertation in “strategic planning” at St. Petersburg’s Mining Institute. Later, this document proves to have been plagiarized from a KGB translation of work by U.S. professors published many years earlier (as if nobody would notice, and in fact for quite a while nobody did).

July 1998

In a second inexplicable move, Yeltsin names Putin head of the KGB (now called the FSB).

November 1998

Less than four months after Putin takes over at the KGB, opposition Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova (pictured, right), the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic in the nation, is murdered at her apartment building in St. Petersburg. Four months after that, Putin will play a key role in silencing the Russian Attorney General, Yury Skuratov, who was investigating high-level corruption in the Kremlin, by airing an illicit sex video involving Skuratov on national TV. Four months after the dust settles in the Skuratov affair, Putin will be named Prime Minister.

August 1999

Completing a hat trick of bizarre spontaneous promotions, proud KGB spy Putin is named by Yeltsin Prime Minister of Russia. Almost immediately, Putin orders a massive bombing campaign against the tiny, defenseless breakaway republic of Chechnya, apparently seeing the reassertion of Russian power there as key to overall resurgence of Russia’s military and state security apparatus, his primary political objective. On August 26th, he’s forced to acknowledge the horrific consequences of the bombing. Hundreds of civilians are killed and tens of thousands are left homeless as civilian targets are attacked. World opinion begins to turn starkly against Russia, especially in Europe, very similarly to the manner in which it has polarized against U.S. President George Bush over Iraq. Putin’s poll numbers in Russia begin to slide.

September 1999

An apartment building in the Pechatniki neighborhood of Moscow is blown up by a bomb. 94 are killed. Less than a week later a second bomb destroys a building in Moscow’s Kashirskoye neighborhood, killing 118. Days after that, a massive contingent of Russian soldiers is surrounding Chechnya as public opposition to the war evaporates. On October 1st, Putin declares Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov and his parliament illegitimate. Russian forces invade.

New Year’s Eve, 1999

Boris Yeltsin resigns the presidency of Russia, handing the office to Putin in order to allow him to run as an incumbent three months later. Given the pattern of bizarre promotions Putin has previously received, the move is hardly even surprising. So-called “experts” on Russia scoff at the possibility that Putin could be elected, proclaiming that, having tasted freedom, Russia can “never go back” to the dark days of the USSR.

March 2000

Despite being the nominee of a man, Yeltsin, who enjoyed single-digit public approval ratings in polls, Vladimir Putin is elected “president” of Russia in a massive landslide (he wins nearly twice as many votes as his nearest competitor). Shortly thereafter, all hell breaks loose in Chechnya. Russia will ultimately be convicted of human rights violations before the European Court for Human Rights and condemned for its abuses of the civilian population by every human rights organization under the sun.

[Between April 2000 and March 2002, Russia plunges into a nightmarish conflict in Chechnya eerily similar to what America now faces in Iraq. Opposition journalists, especially those who dare to report on what it going on in Chechnya, suddenly start dying. In 2000 alone, reporters Igor Domnikov, Sergey Novikov, Iskandar Khatloni, Sergey Ivanov and Adam Tepsurgayev are murdered — not by hostile fire in Chechnya but in blatant assassinations at home in Russia. On June 16, 2001, at a press conference in Brdo Pri Kranju, Slovenia, President Bush is asked about Putin: “Is this a man that Americans can trust?” Bush replies: “I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.”]

April 2003

Sergei Yushenkov, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia political party (pictured, left), is gunned down at the entrance of his Moscow apartment block. Yushenkov had been serving as the vice chair of the group known as the “Kovalev Commission” which was formed to informally investigate charges that Putin’s KGB had planted the Pechatniki and Kashirskoye apartment bombs to whip up support for the Putin’s war in Chechnya after the formal legislative investigation turned out to be impossible. Another member of the Commission, Yuri Shchekochikhin (see below) will perish of poisoning, a third will be severely beaten by thugs, and two other members will lose their seats in the Duma. The Commission’s lawyer, Mikhail Trepashkin (see below) will be jailed after a secret trial on espionage charges. Today, virtually none of the members of the Commission are left whole and it is silent.

May 2003

Putin’s popularity in opinion polls slips below 50% after sliding precipitously while the conflict in Chechnya became increasingly bloody. Suddenly, he begins to appear vulnerable, and oil billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky begins to be discussed as one who could unseat him. All hell breaks loose in Russian politics.

July 2003

Yuri Shchekochikhin (pictured, right), a vocal opposition journalist and member of the Russian Duma and the Kovalev Commission, suddenly contracts a mysterious illness. Witnesses reported: “He complained about fatigue, and red blotches began to appear on his skin. His internal organs began collapsing one by one. Then he lost almost all his hair.” One of Shchekochikhin’s last newspaper articles before his death was entitled “Are we Russia or KGB of Soviet Union?” In it, he described such issues as the refusal of the FSB to explain to the Russian Parliament what poison gas was applied during the Moscow theater hostage crisis, and work of secret services from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, which operated with impunity in Moscow against Russian citizens of Turkoman origin. According to Wikipedia: “He also tried to investigate the Three Whales Corruption Scandal and criminal activities of FSB officers related to money laundering through the Bank of New York and illegal actions of Yevgeny Adamov, a former Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy. This case was under the personal control of Putin. In June of 2003, Shchekochikhin contacted the FBI and got an American visa to discuss the case with US authorities. However, he never made it to the USA because of his sudden death on July 3rd. The Russian authorities refused to allow an autopsy, but according to Wikipedia his relatives “managed to send a specimen of his skin to London, where a tentative diagnosis was made of poisoning with thallium” (a poison commonly used by the KGB, at first suspected in the Litvinenko killing).

October 2003

Assaults on the enemies of the Kremlin reach fever pitch as the election cycle begins. Within one week at the end of the month, two major opposition figures are in prison.

October 22, 2003

Mikhail Trepashkin (pictured, right), a former KGB spy and the attorney for the Kovalev Commission, is arrested for illegal possession of a firearm (which he claims was planted in his vehicle). Also retain to represent some of the victims of the apartment bombings theselves, Trepashkin allegedly uncovered a trail of a mysterious suspect whose description had disappeared from the files and learned that the man was one of his former FSB colleagues. He also found a witness who testified that evidence was doctored to lead the investigation away from incriminating the FSB. The weapons charge against Trepashkin mysteriously morphs into a spying charge handled by a closed military proceeding that is condemned by the U.S. government as being a blatant sham, and Trepashkin is sent to prison for four years. Publius Pundit reported on Trepashkin’s plight back in early December of last year.

October 25, 2003

Just as the presidential election cycle is beginning, Khodorkovsky (pictured, left) is arrested at the airport in Novosibirsk. He will be tried and convicted for tax fraud and sent to Siberia, just like in the bad old days of the USSR, in a show trial all international observers condemn as rigged (his lawyer has documented the legal violations in a
75-page treatise). He is there today, now facing a second prosecution for the same offense. His company, YUKOS, is being slowly gobbled up by the Kremlin.

March 2004

With Khodorkovsky conveniently in prison and the Kovalev Commission conveniently muzzled, Vladimir Putin is re-elected “president” of Russia, again in a landslide despite his poll numbers. He faces no serious competition from any opposition candidate. He does not participate in any debates. He wins a ghastly, Soviet-like 70% of the vote. Immediately, talk begins of a neo-Soviet state, with Putin assuming the powers of a dictator. The most public and powerful enemies of the regime start dropping like flies.

June 2004

Nikolai Girenko (pictured, left), a prominent human rights defender, Professor of Ethnology and expert on racism and discrimination in the Russian Federation is shot dead in his home in St Petersburg. Girenko’s work has been crucial in ensuring that racially motivated assaults are classified as hate crimes, rather than mere hooliganism, and therefore warrant harsher sentences — as well as appearing as black marks on Russia’s public record.

July 2004

Paul Klebnikov (pictured, right), editor of the Russian edition Forbes magazine, is shot and killed in Moscow. Forbes has reported that at the time of his death, Paul was believed to have been investigating a complex web of money laundering involving a Chechen reconstruction fund, reaching into the centers of power in the Kremlin and involving elements of organized crime and the FSB (the former KGB).

September 2004

Viktor Yushchenko, anti-Russian candidate for the presidency of the Ukraine, is poisoned by Dioxin. Yushchenko’s chief of staff Oleg Ribachuk suggests that the poison used was a mycotoxin called T-2, also known as “Yellow Rain,” a Soviet-era substance which was reputedly used in Afghanistan as a chemical weapon. Miraculously, he survives the attack.

[Throughout the next year, a full frontal assault on the media is launched by the Kremlin. Reporters Without Borders states: “Working conditions for journalists continued to worsen alarmingly in 2005, with violence the most serious threat to press freedom. The independent press is shrinking because of crippling fines and politically-inspired distribution of government advertising. The authorities’ refusal to accredit foreign journalists showed the government’s intent to gain total control of news, especially about the war in Chechnya.”]

September 2006

Andrei Kozlov (pictured, left), First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, who strove to stamp out money laundering (basically acting on analyses like that of reporter Klebnikov), the highest-ranking reformer in Russia, is shot and killed in Moscow. Many media reports classify Kozlov’s killing as “an impudent challenge to all Russian authorities” and warn that “failure to apprehend the killers would send a signal to others that intimidation of government officials is once again an option.” Less considered is the possibility that Kozlov, like Klebnikov, was on the trail of corruption that would have led into the Kremlin itself, which then lashed out at him preemptively assuming he could not be bought.

October 2006

Anna Politkovskaya (pictured, right), author of countless books and articles exposing Russian human rights violations in Chechnya and attacking Vladimir Putin as a dictator, is shot and killed at her home in Moscow. In her book Putin’s Russia, Politkovskaya had written: “I have wondered a great deal why I have so got it in for Putin. What is it that makes me dislike him so much as to feel moved to write a book about him? I am not one of his political opponents or rivals, just a woman living in Russia. Quite simply, I am a 45-year-old Muscovite who observed the Soviet Union at its most disgraceful in the 1970s and ’80s. I really don’t want to find myself back there again.” Analysts begin to talk openly of Kremlin complicity in the ongoing string of attacks. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes: “Local businessmen had no motivation to kill her — but officials of the army, the police and even the Kremlin did. Whereas local thieves might have tried to cover their tracks, Politkovskaya’s assassin, like so many Russian assassins, did not seem to fear the law. There are jitters already: A few hours after news of Politkovskaya’s death became public, a worried friend sent me a link to an eerie Russian Web site that displays photographs of ‘enemies of the people’ — all Russian journalists and human rights activists, some quite well known. Above the pictures is each person’s birth date and a blank space where, it is implied, the dates of their deaths will soon be marked. That sort of thing will make many, and probably most, Russians think twice before criticizing the Kremlin about anything.”

November 2006

Alexander Litvinenko (pictured, left), KGB defector and author of the book Blowing up Russia, which accuses the Kremlin of masterminding the and Pechatniki and Kashirskoye bombings in order to blame Chechen terrorists and whip up support for an invasion of Chechnya (which shortly followed), is fatally poisoned by radioactive Polonium obtained from Russian sources. Litivinenko had given sensational testimony to the Kovalev Commission and warned Sergei Yushenkov that was a KGB target). In his last days Litvinenko himself, as well as other KGB defectors, including Oleg Kalugin, Yuri Shvets and Mikhail Trepashkin (who allegedly actually warned Litvinenko that he had been targeted before the hit took place) directly blamed the Kremlin for ordering the poisoning. Recent press reports indicate that British investigators have come to the same conclusion. With Litvinenko out of the picture, the only member of the Kovalev Commission left unscathed is its 77-year-old namesake chairman, dissident Sergei Kovalev — who has grown notably silent.

March 2007

On Sunday February 25th, the American TV news magazine Dateline NBC aired a report on the killing of Litvinenko. MSNBC also carried a report. The reports confirmed that British authorities believe Litvinenko perished in a “state-sponsored” assasination. In the opening of the broadcast, Dateline highlighted the analysis of a senior British reporter and a senior American expert on Russia who knew Litvinennko well. Here’s an excerpt from the MSNBC report:

Daniel McGrory, a senior correspondent for The Times of London, has reported many of the developments in the Litvinenko investigation. He said the police were stuck between a rock and a hard place. “While they claim, and the prime minister, Tony Blair, has claimed nothing will be allowed to get in the way of the police investigation, the reality is the police are perfectly aware of the diplomatic fallout of this story,” McGrory said. “Let’s be frank about this: The United States needs a good relationship with Russia, and so does Europe,” said Paul M. Joyal, a friend of Litvinenko’s with deep ties as a consultant in Russia and the former Soviet states. Noting that Russia controls a significant segment of the world gas market, Joyal said: “This is a very important country. But how can you have an important relationship with a country that could be involved in activities such as this? It’s a great dilemma.”

Five days before the broadcast aired, shortly after he was interviewed for it, McGrory was dead. His obituary reads “found dead at his home on February 20, 2007, aged 54.” Five days after the broadcast aired, Joyal (pictured, right) was lying in a hospital bed after having been shot for no apparent reason, ostensibly the victim of a crazed random street crime.  He was returning home after having dinner with KGB defector Oleg Kalugin, and had been an aggressive advocate for Georgian independence from Russian influence.  The attack remains unsolved.

CONCLUSION: Did the Kremlin have anything to do with either Joyal’s or McGrory’s fates, or is it just coincidence that both were struck down within days of giving statements directly blaming the Kremlin for Litvinenko’s killing to the American press? Would the Kremlin really be so brazen as to attack an American for speaking in America? Whether it did not not is almost beside the point: the thing you can’t see is always scarier than the thing you can. The Kremlin is now positioned to turn random accidents into weapons. Appelbaum sums it up: “As Russian (and Eastern European) history well demonstrates, it isn’t always necessary to kill millions of people to frighten all the others: A few choice assassinations, in the right time and place, usually suffice. Since the arrest of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003, no other Russian oligarchs have attempted even to sound politically independent. After the assassination of Politkovskaya on Saturday, it’s hard to imagine many Russian journalists following in her footsteps to Grozny either

January 2009

On January 19, 2009, Russian human rights attorney Stanslav Markelov (pictured, right) was shot in the back of the head with a silenced pistol as he left a press conference at which he announced his intention to sue the Russian government for its early release of the Col. Yuri Budanov, who murdered his 18-year-old client in Chechnya five years earlier. Also shot and killed was Anastasia Barburova, a young journalism student who was working for Novaya Gazeta and who had studied under Anna Politkovskaya, reporting on the Budanov proceedings.

July 2009


On July 14, 2009, leading Russian human rights journalist and activist
Natalia Estemirova (pictured, left), a single mother of a teenaged daughter, was abducted in front of her home in Grozny, Chechnya, spirited across the border into Ingushetia, shot and dumped in a roadside gutter.  Viewed as the successor to Anna Politkovskaya and by far the most prominent living critic of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who had repeatedly threatened her life, Estemirova was a member of the “Memorial” human rights NGO and a steadfast defender of human rights in Chechnya.  Most recently, she had been reporting on the barbaric practice of the government in burning down the homes of rebel activists, often with women and children locked inside.