1. What I don’t understand is we assume that since Navalny says Putin is corrupt, then he is corrupt. What is this corruption?

    Are the Russian oligarchs close to Putin getting sweetheart deals? Is there any difference between Biden’s oligarchs who donate and control the DNC? The revolving door in Washington? Is the CIA and State Dept controlling the news media in the USA any different than Putin controlling the media in Russia?

    You might say, this is “whataboutism” but it’s true. What is the difference?

    Americans have to get off this blame game where we demonize others for our own travesties. We’ll never get very far in cleaning up this mess as long as we seek out scapegoats for our propblems. Victims don’t heal.

  2. Almost EVERY debate or argument I’ve been involved with over the last 20 years has not been with people on the far right. They’ve been with centrists. I noticed this for the first time shortly after the US invaded Iraq for the second time in 18 years (historians will rightly view this as one conflict). But it became crystal clear in the Trump era.

    There is a BIG difference and gap between a moderate and a centrist in that the former has views rooted in political values and philosophy. The centrist does not and is just that…one who seeks the center and sees the arguments of “both sides”…even if ONE side is bat-shit crazy and/or based on non-democratic values. Over the last 40 years centrists, both Republicans AND Democrats, have been slowly nudged to the right. The center of 2022 is not the center of 1980. A Republican moderate on the other hand would most likely not even BE a Republican anymore, as demonstrated by this blog’s author and many others.

    The self-described “apolitical” are really neither if they don’t even bother to vote. They’re simply passengers in the political process and are not to be bothered with anything outside their personal bubble and endeavors, whether they be devoted to community building or just getting through the daily challenges of work and raising a family. They abhor complexity and nuance and they’re often incurious and intellectually lazy. Sadly, to them the prospect of living in an apartheid state ruled by a theocratic government isn’t seen as a real possibility or, if it were to become a reality, be seen as a problem.

    The American Fascist Movement (formerly American Movement Conservatism) benefits tremendously from both centrists and the apolitical. My experience and view is that engaging in dialogue with the “others side” is a pointless waste of time. They’re not budging and neither am I. Turning centrists into moderates and the apolitical into engaged citizens is the only hope for saving the democratic republic. Spend your time and $$$ wisely.

  3. I am equally concerned about the people who deliberately shut out the world and live in a cocoon of their own making. Their interests are only those that enhance their own pleasure by indulging in an endless cycle of dinners out, sporting events, cruises, and the latest celebrity gossip. Unless some event directly effects them they have no interest. They pride themselves on what they call their independence and self reliance, while those who know them see only self absorption and selfishness. These are the folks who have never served on a committee, never worked at the polls, never went door to door for any cause, never joined, attended or led. They do not help their neighbors, they turn a blind eye to the poor, and blame society’s ills on the victims of those ills themselves, thus relieving themselves of any and all responsibility for the world they inhabit. In my experience, they are fun to be around, but once you are away from them and their world, you look back and see only a shallow and empty existence.

  4. Both Sheila and Patrick have both forwarded brilliant observations in hindsight how we have arrived to present open forums of critical debate. I had not considered the distinction between centrists and moderates until reading Patrick’s post earlier this morning. During my final post after 42 years at home and abroad, I “directed” an institution located in the center of Jerusalem known for progressive neutrality at the seam of conflict. Patrick’s thesis on differentiating centrists and moderates has me thinking more critically the challenges of sustaining progressive neutrality in a fluid conflict of global scale. It takes more than strong coffee to wake up some mornings. Thanks to both Sheila and Patrick.

  5. You just named many of the reasons I am leaving the US. I couldn’t be more ashamed, disgusted, etc with what the US has become.

  6. Over the past thirty years most political scientists have posted views that we as a whole are moving to the left and not right. Many new laws regarding civil rights show this in our laws. The problem our country and because of its failed economic policy domestically according to Sec Larry Summers we face a recession that he states we have ignored. How did we get here. Recessions are felt by the poor more than any other group. How do we find common ground to fix it?

  7. @ Stan. I have empathy for your disdain of current affairs. I have lived around the world and currently maintain homes for seasonal rotation between Canada and here in Indiana. When you discover a place to live, unless totally off grid, let me know where you settle to discover bliss of total calm suited to your way of thinking.

  8. Todd, you ask what are the differences. Well here’s a key difference for you. You haven’t been rounded up by your government for your antigovernment screeds, nor have you been poisoned. In fact, you seem to be enjoying all the blessings of liberty that the terrible government provides.

    Please don’t lecture me about your hero, Julian Assange. If he were truly heroic, he would face a trial, which is what Daniel Ellsberg did. It took some time, but all charges against him were dismissed. If Assange had been more like Ellsworth, he just might be a free man today.

    Now just a note about today’s topic. Across Red Square from the Kremlin is the GUM, a department store. In the early days of Putin’s takeover, Russians I spoke to didn’t necessarily like him, but they told me the shelves are full at GUM. They just wanted to live a good standard of life, so they accepted what Putin was doing to consolidate his control.

  9. Patrick and Theresa – you nailed it – “me” and fagetabout “we”….

  10. Stan, what is your country of choice? Congratulations on having a choice. Our fellow citizens who suffer from the corruption daily on this blog have no such choice.

  11. Patrick,

    Pretty interesting comment this morning!

    In a generality sort of way, I might agree with most of what you say. But, what was the saying back in the ’60s? Tune in and check out? Or something to that effect. There are folks like myself all over the place. I am still a registered voter, but I’ve learned the hard way, politics will not save what we call a democracy here.

    As I’ve said before, the horse is out of the barn and halfway to Timbuktu, it does no good to close the door.

    As an example, Gerrymandering makes it very difficult to make up the deficit that has been created politically. When one group has to carry a district by possibly 70% to come out even, that’s an unfair advantage.

    Politics is too corrupt, a government for the people and by the people? Not really! A government for the corporations and by the corporations would be more appropriate.

    It’s always been that way. From the beginning of this country, it was never a democracy really. Only wealthy white landowners were able to vote for anything. That was an extremely small minority in the grand scheme! Individuals started to clamor for their rights, well, politicians made sure, even though they were granted certain inalienable rights, the books can literally and legally be cooked to give the advantage to the entrenched politicians that will never leave office until they die, for the most part.

    This country sends billions, albeit trillions of hard-earned national treasure, procured from this country’s hard-working middle class, to supposedly help foreign interests which more often than not, pocket that money. Case in point, Afghanistan and Iraq. Just 1 or 2% of that money, could fund mental health centers, could prevent homelessness, could prevent hunger, could provide medical care, could prevent disabled people from being thrown off of their property, because they keep raising the taxes to send somewhere where else! It doesn’t help the people who are paying the taxes in this country!

    We glorify War! Death? Doesn’t matter! Just an example, Russian Orthodox are murdering Ukrainian Orthodox! Russians are killing ethnic Russians, for what? Our own wars had Baptists killing Baptists and Catholics killing Catholics, Protestant killing Protestant, even Jew killing Jew!

    This country had Evangelical fascists for a long time. The Ku Klux Klan os a prime example. The Bund is another prime example. ‘ President Woodrow Wilson,’ is an example of a politician who was in all essence a Klan member. He wrote: reconstruction placed southern white men “Under the intolerable burden of a government sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes” and these white men responded by forming the ku Klux Klan, “an invisible empire of the south, bound together in loose organization to protect the southern country from some of the ugliest hazards of a time of revolution.” He even had sent out an invite to the White House, where, Birth Of A Nation was viewed by a select like-minded and influential audience.

    So, where are the rights? Where are basic human rights? The right to life, the right to shelter, the right to health and well-being and that includes food. One hand giveth the other taketh away. Civil gains by minorities taken away, hand over fist since reconstruction.

    The founders did not want a state-sponsored religion that’s why they said we want a wall between church and state. Benjamin Franklin said to build the wall high. They saw the turmoil in Europe and Asia with the politically empowered churches fighting each other.

    I’ve known friends, who have been involved in politics, who are also religious, who ended up taking the fall for the establishment because they fought against that establishment. They tended to be a nuisance, and those entrenched politicians did not want anyone blowing the whistle on the things they were doing.

    They asked me to run for representative Washington’s seat so he could run for mayor of the city I lived in. The township president told me that she would throw the full weight of her political organization behind me. I had to respectfully decline, because of what I had seen while being involved in that political aspect of society.

    I’m not saying it wasn’t fascinating, I used to set an Army and Lous restaurant on Chicago’s South side, Carol Mosley Braun, Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, young Barack Obama, Willie Wilson, and many others, Harold Washington used to frequent those gatherings also. The earlier ones anyway. A lot of strategy, but, what changed? Nothing! Tell me what has improved for the common good of citizens? The government which is supposed to be for the people by the people, can’t even spend its own money for those people.

    Our Congress proudly displays the Fasces (the Italian symbol of fascism) next to the speaker’s chair!

    So, thanks but no thanks. I will continue to do my work, I will continue to work with my friends to help our neighbors. Because, whatever you do, you will not reverse the trend throughout human history. You actually think no one has tried before? I used to donate thousands of dollars to political funds, and the futility of that money being sent is boundless. If I would have thrown it in the Wood-Fired stove, I would have received some sort of benefit from it! Now, I use my financial capabilities to help my fellow man. To love my neighbor, to love my family! Everyone is a free moral agent, a harbinger of free will! So, our decisions actually reveal the inner person. It reveals the conscience, it reveals the heart! I’ve got a lot to make up for, I’ve got many years that have been lost messing around with useless movements and agendas. I fought for years to stop governments from throwing senior citizens and disabled people out of their homes because they were taxed off their property. That’s a passion of mine! But all the years and all of the work hasn’t even changed that! So yeah, I will continue to do what I do because, not only is it tangible and obvious, we all need to do right by our neighbors and our family. And, if everyone did that, you would have real change!

  12. Many of us don’t see a way to be involved without the infrastructure offered by the two-party system, which has been empowered by law.

    But I’m going to work toward a 3I Convention, where all third party and independents (3I) can have visibility … and maybe we can coalition build.

  13. Oh! Let me add this …
    Germans as the Nazi Party took over. Russians over the last decade. And Americans today.
    Saying to themselves, “It’s not bothering me. Why should I do anything?”

  14. My Absentee Ballot is in my mailbox for pickup today. Democratic candidates are more visible and active for this Primary than in recent years. By contacting them directly and following their Facebook posts, obviously they have no faith in local news or the Star, and receiving flyers with their objectives and history, have aided my ability to choose candidates.

    Does Russia even allow opposition candidates for offices other than Putin? We know how he deals with his opponents; if they live through the poisoning they are sentenced to prison. Are they sentenced for opposing Putin or for surviving his murder attempt? The “Big Lie” supporters and those who engaged actively in the January 6th Insurrection also failed in their murder attempt of their own Vice President and botched their kidnap attempt of our House Speaker. Trump’s support of Putin continues; and we can’t get the Russians out of our presidential elections and obviously we haven’t removed them from interfering in the current Primary to overturn the slim Democratic majority to favor Trump for 2024.

    “Right now, the Russians are teaching us a costly lesson about the importance of the political engagement those Americans are avoiding.”

  15. Authoritarianism is active, and liberal democracy is passive, both by design.

    In a liberal democracy, the assumption is life should be without interference either by the government or others. Everyone is free to be themselves. Diversity is honored.

    In the US, authoritarians have weaponized their beliefs by claiming that they are being made to treat others as equals. In fact, that is what our Constitution designed into government and regulation of business requires.

    The strength of liberal democracy becomes its weakness when pervasive entertainment media attacks it overtly or covertly in the name of authoritarianism.

  16. being i travel the country 6 months of the year and road construction the other 6, i run across workers in the road construction job from across the country,working diffrent contracts/companies and get a local view of where they come from. the center of whatever political nests are strong,but however you hear it,they have family that barely make a living,(due wages and cost of living)and like most seasonal cross border workers,they send a piece of their checks home. while traveling across the states i have a easier time engaging with mid states over coastal. but thats not a statisic either. growing up in Newark,n.j. up in a less that middle class place,recognising the same face is easier to engage with. seems our little world of trucking has gained alot of the left behind and many new to this country a place to work. unfortunatly,they are also the most exploited. many of whom lived on pesos a day,and still do. imagine how the resposability to drive a truck is seen as a cheap wage job. unless you do this and run the gamit on how to get in,you will never understand. point here, finding do cause to help. like many who are homeless,many truck drivers are. unless you view that box in back of that truck,as a home,,its a box. ive given time and bucks to single moms,school kids who were hungry, the person who works doing paperwork behind the counter, even paid for a meal for someone obviously needing it. most times i make it a hit and run,leave the scene,im not into recognition for my help.
    as the public sphere is aquainted now with how most political systems are run,by, whoever now, its the same fact,the RNC/DNC type orgs have demanded the spotlight. instead we have lawyers and such in full masse in the halls of goverment making decisions. who selected who,to run,and why. winning isnt everything,right? but who decides i have to tollerate a goverment that obvioulsy has endorced the rich over the needs of those who do the work. todays subject is related to those who have been kicked to the curb for the other side to flurish. it is in sense a authoritarian goverment. we obviously forgot 1980 and back,how i,believe it was better. the balance of goverment has tilted to the right, and its obvious who tilted it. try and elect a working class,and see the muck thrown. only if you have lived in this burg,you havent a clue. how come we still find the suit as the primere subject to elect? since 1980,the road has buckled for the working class,undo slants against the people who do the work,while white richie takes more out of the system and locks it up in his account. again,elected people have allowed this,and they wear suits..no slam on conventional people who,wear suits,its a figure of speach. but as i look at the halls of congress on Cspan,am i suppose to grant them my vote,or support. better get the blue jeans on and t shirt, if,you,want my support. seems the my money i can donate does better to help someone smile for a little while..
    putin cut his supreme court up due his blocking of him running for,dictator again,then the cut up the duma to make sure only those who voted in his favor remained. a stalin like purge that made little ruffles since then, seems the DNC/RNC is following ,er,suit…best wishes/

  17. One is reminded of the Libertarian mindset: so long as you leave me alone, I don’t care what you do.

    The possibility that this form of selfishness could be the basis of a stable society is the lie authoritarians (in the US, Republicans) tell. Many who are “moderates” believe this not only because they want to do whatever they wish, but because it requires nothing of them. Americans are selfish and lazy, and recognizing the laziness is key to understanding the problem. Democrats have to MOTIVATE people to prevent authoritarianism.

  18. “Bingo” indeed!
    That is just a whole new perspective for me, one that, I guess, was just under my radar.
    I expect that for those who have been politically passive, the intensification of the bat-shit-craziiness has only encouraged
    the view that “I’m certainly not getting involved with this crap, now!”

  19. Peggy,

    You do realize Daniel Ellsberg was a whistleblower like Edward Snowden.

    Julian Assange is a journalist and publisher.

    Please have Rachel Maddow explain the difference to you and what the Espionage Act of 1917 really says.

    If Assange can be charged as a spy for doing journalistic work then so can Rachel if she ever decided to use her powers for good instead of sucking up to the DNC Establishment.

  20. Todd, I am fully aware of the differences, which would seem to make it all the more certain that charges against Assange would be dismissed, if he were to turn himself in. Ellsworth didn’t have that extra first amendment protection.

  21. Peggy, I gave you high marks for your first post today. I guess it landed in the trash bin. Hope tis one does not meet the same fate. Your points are short, direct, and spot-on! Thanks so much!

  22. This is a good one, Sheila. We’ve got to be engaged, like it or not, if we want a decent world.

  23. I was at a neighborhood meeting last night. I am the chairman of the land-use committee and we were discussing a zoning issue. One of the guys that was for the project asked how many neighbors that are immediately adjacent to the project, are here? He then went on to tell me all the ways I should have reached out to these people, all the way down to door to door fliers. (We have some 500 households in the neighborhood).

    When I told him that as a volunteer “there are only so many ways I can reach out, and that a some point it takes some effort to be an active and involved citizen”, he was offended and seemed upset.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can make him vote.

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