Tag Archives: Europe

A Solomonic solution for Ukraine

Take the entirely unscientific poll below!

I am not an expert on geopolitics, or even on world history, but, as loath as I am to adopt the right wing’s concept of “common-sense solutions” (which, interestingly, almost always turn out to be right-wing “solutions”…), it seems to me that you don’t have to have a PhfuckingD to call some shots.

The best solution where Ukraine is concerned is, methinks, a Solomonic solution* — cut that puppy in two.

Crimea, the southernmost, peninsular area of Ukraine (see map below), according to Reuters is “the only part of Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, which has often voiced separatist aims.”

Reuters further reports today that

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority [today] to invade Ukraine after troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula and pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to deploy troops in a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. …

Yikes.

It seems most fair to me that Crimea go to Russia, since most Crimeans apparently want this. This past week I listened to a Crimean woman interviewed on NPR state emphatically that she and her fellow Crimeans do not want to be part of the European Union (or the West in general), but want to preserve their culture and their language, and thus want to remain with Russia. If she truly represents the majority of Crimeans, then it should be majority rule. That’s called “democracy.”

So Crimea seems easy to me: it’s pretty fucking Russian already, and forcing the Crimeans to remain with an increasingly Westernized Ukraine against their will would be just as evil and wrong as it would be for Putin to try to force Ukrainians who want a Western, and not a Russian, alliance to remain with Russia.

My understanding is that that river that runs right down Ukraine at least metaphorically roughly splits it into very different nations, a pro-Western half and a pro-Russian half. Indeed, a map of the 2012 parliamentary election results in Ukraine looked like this:

File:Ukr elections 2012 multimandate okruhs.png

My understanding is that the pink areas represent pro-Western sentiment, while the blue and orange areas represent pro-Russian sentiment.

Indeed, the major dueling parties in the 2012 Ukrainian election were the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the “Fatherland” Party, which now is headed by the recently-released-from-prison Yulia Tymoshenko (often pictured in her Princess-Leia-like hairdo). I’m pretty fucking leery of Tymoshenko, who, according to Wikipedia, “Prior to her political career … was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.”

Hmmm. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had been heavily involved in the oil industry before they stole the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and usually when a filthy rich person (or at least a pro-filthy-rich-people person) rises to power, it smacks of fascism — a right-wing collusion between a government and corporations (usually with nationalistic overtones) — if it isn’t downright fascism, so I’m not hopping on the Tymoshenko bandwagon today.

I mean, “Fatherland” — I can’t help but think of the Nazis when that word is evoked. Indeed, Wikipedia notes of “Fatherland” that “the English word is now associated with the [fascistic] Nazi government of Germany [and usually] not used often in post-World War II English unless one wishes to invoke the Nazis… Prior to Nazism, however, the term was used throughout Germanic language countries without negative connotations…”

I have found the fascistic, unelected Bush-Cheney regime’s term “homeland,” as in “homeland security” and “the Department of Homeland Security” to be chilling enough, to be too close for comfort to Hitler’s “Fatherland,” and now here are Tymoshenko and her supporters touting their “Fatherland.”

Still, even though what admittedly little I know of Tymoshenko gives me great pause, if the northwestern region of Ukraine wishes to be free of Russia and (try to) join the European Union, as appears to be the case, I’m pretty OK with that, as you can’t advocate democracy only when the majority of the individuals in the situation at hand agree with you. (I see the wingnuts here in the United States do that all the fucking time, and I wish that phenomenon on no one else.)

It seems to me that the best solution for Ukraine, the solution with the least amount of bloodshed (including perhaps preventing a third world war…) and the solution that offers the best possible outcome for all parties involved, is for Ukraine to split into two nations.

Again, it is at least as outrageous for the United States and its European allies to try to force the pro-Russia portion of Ukraine to remain with a Western-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Russian individuals do not wish to do so as it is outrageous for Russia to try to force the pro-Western portion of Ukraine to remain with a Russian-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Western individuals do not wish to do so.

Yes, my proposed solution smacks of East Berlin and West Berlin (although, of course, I propose no wall…) — or, at least, of a messy divorce, replete with the concurrent division of property and the custody battle — and while I’m probably oversimplifying the matter of Ukraine, again, from what I know of it, the best solution seems to be to create two nations from it, and to allow one to remain, if it wishes, with Mother** Russia, and to allow the other, if it wishes and if the European Union wishes, to join the European Union.

*Admittedly, this is an imperfect metaphor, since in the story of King Solomon and the baby, of course only one of the women could have been the infant’s biological mother.

I use the metaphor because Solomon has become a symbol of wisdom, including wise arbitration, and because, per Wikipedia, “The expressions ‘splitting the baby’ or ‘cutting the baby in half’ are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which ‘split the difference’ in terms of damage awards or other remedies…”

**Admittedly, I’m much more OK with the term “Motherland” than I am with “Fatherland,” and while the term “homeland” is fairly neutral, because fascists coined the term as it is used in the United States today, I can only think of it as the equivalent of “Fatherland.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Give me socialism or give me death!

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The right wing’s witch hunts during the Cold War and the McCarthy Era involved Communists and homosexuals. Must! Root! Out! The! Enemy!

Today, it’s “socialism!” instead of “Communism!” that the right wing bandies about, and we non-heterosexuals (along with immigrants from Latin America and Muslims and other historically less powerful minorities) remain scapegoats for all of the nation’s ills.

It’s interesting that for all of the wingnuts’ blather about “freedom,” serious discussion of alternative economic systems is so fucking taboo. Here in the United States of America, land of the free only to support capitalism, socialism isn’t an economic system; it’s an epithet meant to shut down any actual serious discussion of socialism.

It’s a pretty powerful way for the capitalistic plutocrats to maintain control, to make the masses think that any other way of doing things isn’t even possible.

If capitalism were so strong and so self-evidently the only feasible economic system, then why does the right wing do its best to stifle any serious discussion about alternative economic systems by branding those of us who wish to have such a discussion as traitors? Um, yeah.

Of course, it’s the millionaires and billionaires, like Rupert Murdoch and his little bitch boy Glenn Beck, who keep stoking the pro-capitalistic propagandistic fires, since Hey, capitalism sure has been good to them! (to the rest of us, um, not so much…).

Capitalism has, in the minds of millions of American sheeple, been equated with patriotism and Christianity — and all kinds of other things, such as militarism, and yes, colonialism (um, why wouldn’t Barack Obama or any other at least semi-sane and moral individual oppose colonialism, Dinesh Dikshit, since colonialism by definition is about the exploitation of the weaker by the more powerful, you fucking moron?).

The right wing, of course, for all of its talk about “looking forward, not backward,” equates socialism and (little-“c”) communism with tyranny and the like, as though we humankind are doomed only to repeat the mistakes of the past, as though we cannot create something new.

Democratic socialism could work quite well in the United States of America, and, if the nation survives the right wing’s attempt to destroy it in an Armageddon that it creates only through its wish for such an Armageddon, probably democratic socialism — which is about what’s best for the most number of individuals (in contrast to how capitalism is about what’s best for only a small number of individuals, at the expense of the majority) — is the only thing that’s going to save the nation.

This news story from the French (socialist!) news organization AFP, though, highlights the propagandistic obstacles created by the plutocratic propagandists that we Americans who want a better future and a better present for ourselves and those who follow us have to overcome:

New Castle, Delaware — Stephen Knotts, a blond, blue-eyed member of the conservative Tea Party movement, is deeply concerned about where he sees the United States heading.

“We are pushing towards European values. Socialism, that’s a European value,” he warns. “Everybody’s kind of zombified over there.” [Gee, has he even been “over there,” I wonder?]

Knotts is one of a crowd gathered at a Delaware shooting club, awaiting an address by Senate candidate and Tea Party superstar Christine O’Donnell.

He is one of many Americans who fear their country is lurching dangerously towards higher taxes and bigger government and cites with fear the experience of France and Germany.

“Sixty percent of what they earn goes for taxes,” he tells a reporter, though the actual figure is closer to 40 percent.

Paul Lamanna, a member of the shooting club who describes himself as a first generation Italian immigrant, is similarly concerned about what he sees as a turn towards European policies in the United States.

“They have communism, they have fascism, they have socialism, even today. I’m not interested in any of that. I’m interested in democracy,” he says.

In neighboring Newark, Delaware, 31-year-old Kevin Thomas pronounces himself “sick and tired of this big government coming in, taking our money, giving it away basically to people who don’t deserve it.”

“We’re building a nation of slackers,” he warns at a campaign event for O’Donnell….

Wow. So the millionaires and billionaires who get bailouts from those of us who actually pay our fair share of taxes aren’t “slackers” — it’s only the working class and the poor who are the “slackers.” Which is exactly what Uncle Rupert wants you to believe, and which is exactly what his legions of Faux “News” viewers parrot dutifully. (Trust Uncle Rupie! He has only your best interests in mind!)

Only the rich deserve even more, you see, while the have-nots deserve even less — because they’re lazy slackers. (It absolutely is not that they are exploited in a ruthless corporatocracy that dipshits like the “blond, blue-eyed member[s] of the conservative Tea Party movement” in the story above stupidly call “democracy.” [“Blond, blue-eyed member[s] of the conservative Tea Party movement” — hmmm… Reminds me of another fascistic movement comprised mostly of the blond and blue-eyed…])

“Everybody’s kind of zombified over there [in Europe],” the blond and blue-eyed “tea-party” dipshit remarks in the news story above, very apparently oblivious to the zombification of millions of Americans by the right-wing noise machine funded by the millionaires and billionaires like something right out of “The Matrix.”

The way that we non-heterosexuals have to get equal human and civil rights is to stand up to the bullies and to counter the propaganda and lies that the wingnuts pump out there. It’s a long, tough slog, but we’re no fucking slackers, and we are winning the war against bigotry and ignorance and hatred.

And the only way that we, the millions of us Americans who are the have-nots and are the living-from-paycheck-to-paycheck and are the just-an-illness-away-from-poverty are going to get a better future and a better present for ourselves is to counter the plutocrats’ blatant fucking self-serving lies that we are the lazy “slackers.”

It’s called projection — the rich are the slackers. And we don’t need them. They need us.

It’s a popular uprising that the rich fear the most, which is why they keep a steady stream of pro-capitalist propaganda flowing to keep the “patriotic” sheeple zombified. (And it’s also why they live behind their gates with their private security.)

You gotta hand it to them, though: The plutocratic propagandists are quite successful — I mean, millions of Americans tolerate, even praise, an economic system that clearly works only for those relative few at the top. Millions of Americans stupidly incorrectly believe that this system of institutionalized exploitation — capitalism is nothing but legalized thievery — one day is going to make them rich, too. (This I call the “lottery mentality.”) Millions of Americans stupidly would defend, to the death, the very same economic system that is killing them slowly.

This slow death these dipshits call “freedom.” (George Orwell put it best when he invented Big Brother’s slogans of “War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.” This is the credo of the Repugnican Tea Party.)

That the filthy-rich powers that be have demonized socialism to the extent that they have demonstrates that it is a clear and present danger to them. If they want you to reject it, there must be something about it that’s quite good for you. 

Only when the majority of us Americans demand democratic socialism — instead of continuing to acquiesce to the pro-plutocratic, pro-corporatocratic, duopolistic partisan charade that we call “democracy” that is incapable of delivering anything even close to hope or change, since it is designed only to perpetuate the status quo of perpetual hopelessness for the majority — will we overthrow our capitalist overlords who call us the lazy slackers while they continue to steal from us.

We Americans, quite to the contrary of the claims of the “tea-party” dipshits in the news story above, could learn quite a lot from the Europeans, perhaps especially from the French, who fucking fight for better conditions for themselves.

Reports The (capitalist) Associated Press today:

Paris – A nationwide strike by major French unions canceled flights and trains and shut the Eiffel Tower [today], disrupting daily life for many and putting new pressure on the government to drop a plan to raise the retirement age by two years.

Unionized train and Paris public transport workers vowed to stay off the job for at least another day, and police said at least 1.2 million people marched in protests against the plan, the largest turnout in four nationwide demonstrations over the last five weeks.

That could be a signal of rising momentum for the movement facing off against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing conservatives over its proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

The government has refused to back down, saying the plan is the only way to save the money-draining pension system. Some unions upped the ante by declaring open-ended strikes starting [today], meaning walkouts could drag on for days or even weeks.

The outlook for Wednesday was still uncertain in many sectors, but many workers at the national railways planned to stay off the job, as did some employees of the Paris transport network. Some oil workers pledged to keep up a protest at refineries, and one union warned of looming gasoline shortages.

[Today] hundreds of tourists visiting the Eiffel Tower were ushered away after workers there voted to join the strike.

“The closure of the monument is a symbol,” said Yann Leloir, a striking employee. The tower — France’s most-visited monument — is to reopen [tomorrow] as usual….

This is why the American right wing, led by the millionaires and billionaires, bashes labor unions: because labor unions can accomplish something for the common working citizen. Labor unions can make the playing field more level.

Yet millions of Americans — working Americans — have been brainwashed by the filthy rich into believing that unions are bad for them. No — unions are bad only for the rich.

Change in the United States of America will come. The capitalist center cannot hold. It will not hold.

The only question is whether the revolution for what is right and what is fair and what is just — an end to the exploitation of the masses by the few — will be a bloody one or whether the rich will save their own necks from a repeat of the French revolution here at home.

Otherwise, those torches and pitchforks, methinks, are going to materialize sooner than most would ever guess.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Because things weren’t bad enough

Updated bel0w (Monday, April 27, 2009)

Commuters wear face masks to prevent the infection by the swine ...

AFP photo

Subway riders in Mexico City wear masks to prevent the spread of the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than 60 Mexicans so far and spread to at least three U.S. states.

Really, all that we were missing was a pandemic plague.

I refer, of course, to the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than five dozen people in Mexico thus far and has been found in at least three U.S. states (California, Texas and Kansas and probably New York as well).

In 1918, a strain of the influenza virus killed millions of people worldwide. Notes Wikipedia

The 1918 flu pandemic (commonly referred to as the Spanish flu) was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually severe and deadly [strain of the type-A influenza virus]…

Historical and epidemiologic data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks, which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly or otherwise weakened patients.

The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe, more than double the number killed in World War I.

This extraordinary toll resulted from the extremely high illness rate of up to 50 percent and the extreme severity of the symptoms… The pandemic is estimated to have infected up to one billion people — half the world’s population at the time.

Travel between the United States and Mexico is such that even if the border between the two nations were sealed, it’s probably too late to stop the new influenza virus’ spread into the United States and elsewhere, experts say; besides, the virus already has been found in at least the border states of California and Texas and also in Kansas, although no U.S. deaths have been reported thus far.

I have a friend who plans to travel to Mexico next week for a two-week stay; I am a bit concerned for her, and I have expressed my concern to her, but she’d probably still go even if it were an ebola outbreak instread of an influenza oubbreak south of the border. Her name starts with “I” and I told her that if she brought the virus back to Sacramento, in the spirit of Typhoid Mary we’d have to call her “Influenza I–––.”

My friend is in her 30s and so I’m further concerned for her because, as The Associated Press notes, “Another reason to worry [about the current influenza outbreak] is that authorities said the dead so far don’t include vulnerable infants and elderly. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults.”

(If you’re wondering why healthy young adults would die of influenza, it’s because of something called a “cytokine storm,” an overreaction of a healthy immune system to certain strains of the influenza virus and to certain other pathogens that can cause death.)

Besides traditional flu symptoms, the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, a bout of which my boyfriend had earlier this month. I have to wonder now if maybe he was infected with the virus.

Those who were immunized against influenza recently, as I was in November, may or may not have some degree of protection against the new strain, news reports have quoted the experts as having said.

The main reason I get the flu shot every year is that not only do I not want to get the flu, but, as The Associated Press notes, “Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from [influenza] viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals.”

My thinking has been that immunization against influenza might offer me some protection from such a pandemic.

As much as I love to be right, hopefully I won’t be proved right because hopefully there won’t be a deadly flu pandemic like there was in 1918…

Update (Monday, April 27, 2009):

So upwards of 150 Mexicans have died of the new influenza epidemic and at least 40 confirmed cases have been found in the United States, including at least 20 in New York City, although no one in the United States has yet died from the human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus, which, because it is transmissible from person to person (and not just from animal to person), has the potential to become a pandemic.

Sacramento’s annual Festival de la Familia was yesterday, and while I at first was disappointed that I had no one to go there with, as I love Festival de la Familia, after the news of this new potential pandemic, with its epicenter in Mexico, broke on Friday, it seemed to me perhaps wiser and safer not to go, as there is such travel between Mexico and the United States (and elsewhere in the world) that probably several people at Festival de la Familia yesterday had to have been infected with the virus, statistically speaking. (The annual festival of Latino culture usually draws thousands of people, most of them Latino.)

We might as well have called it Festival de la Influenza, I told my boyfriend, who didn’t think that I should repeat that joke to anyone.

Anyway, as if the plague (which has spread from Mexico to the United States and to Canada and even to Europe, because of world travel) weren’t enough, central Mexico was hit with a 5.6-magnitude earthquake today, prompting one resident of Mexico City to remark that “it feels like the Apocalypse.”

While I doubt that it’s the Apocalypse, I do hope the best for our brothers and sisters south of the border. I’m not the praying type, but I might be compelled to say a prayer for them shortly…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized