Two International Notes, Two Domestic Notes & Two Combined Notes

Looking Beyond Just Events, We See Important Trends Shaping Up

Two International Notes

Fascism, Autocracy, and Stalin on the Rise in Russia

This is serious level ugly that, along with the economic sanctions, will set Russia back at least 30 years. Putin started out talking about “purifying and deNazifying Ukraine. Now he talks of doing the same in Russia. Those whose families bore the brunt of such vendettas in the early Soviet years under Stalin (Cossacks, White Russians, others) must feel a chill in their bones. This is the kind of talk that Stalin used on his way to killing 20 million of his own citizens. This is a terrible turn of events that brings back all the worst of Soviet days.

The punishments being inflicted on Russia by the West are fully justified; they should be continued for a long time and be increased as the war continues. But we need also to beware the example of Germany after WW I. The punishments then were so pervasive and complete as to make it impossible for Germany to reemerge as a part of Europe. One result of that isolation and resentment was the rise of the Nazi’s.

The Nazis were constantly harping on the unfairness of the burden borne by the German people. They played on a sense of isolation and encouraged a sense of victimhood. It’s the kind of rhetoric we hear today from Putin.

It is important that Putin be called out, be diminished, be held responsible for what he has done, whether he continues in power in Russia or not. But as we can, we need to foster moderation and an easing of isolation of Russia when the time comes. Let us not give the extremists their golden opportunity to build something even worse for Russia.

The Possible Change in Europe are Huge: The End of Neutrality, German Rearmament

I am truly struck by the unity and substantive decisions of NATO, the G7, and he EU. Biden and company get a lot of the credit for this, but so do all the partners, almost without exception. Germany is building serious armed forces for the first time in decades – cheered on by their neighbors- something unimaginable just a few years ago. The new German Chancellor was something of an unknown. Like his Ukrainian counterpart, he seems to be stepping up to the role.

Eastern European members of these alliances are stepping up their defensive preparations, are reaching out at some risk to help Ukraine, and encouraging stationing of US and allied troops in their countries. Well established countries who previously never considered joining NATO (Sweden, Finland) are now seriously looking at joining the alliance. Putin’s actions have mobilized the West like nothing we have seen since WWII. And this seems to have legs – it does not feel like short-term posturing. Just amazing to watch.

Meanwhile, Here at Home

Daylight Savings Time Forever?

Every year we seem to have a loose national debate about Daylight Savings Time (DST). Like others, I have long thought this a silly thing to be doing. Let’s kill it off. Lots of people seem to agree in principle. A couple of states already do not do this dance of the clocks and no less than 19 others have legislation in the hopper to kill it off. The US Senate just passed a bill unanimously (I did not think they could order lunch unanimously) to kill off the switching back and forth.

But there are some interesting wrinkles here. Almost all these bills are to make DST permanent and to kill of standard time. That seems backwards to me, but apparently a lot of people really like that extra daylight in the evening. These are obviously not the people who would find themselves putting school children on the bus in the dark.

Whatever is decided needs to be at the national level. On the surface, this may seem a minor issue but having a hodge-podge of time settings is not smart operationally. Can you imagine how much fun it would be if half the country was on DST and half not, each state making its own decisions? The opportunities for errors and economic impacts would be large indeed.

Let’s decide on a course of action and do it the same everywhere, once and for all. And that still would be better than the current Chinese system, which has everyone everywhere on Beijing time, which is nuts for a country so large, having only one time zone

Congress As Jekyll and Hyde

Our US Congress continues to dazzle us with its never-ending display of split personality.

One the one hand, we have witnessed seriousness, attention to priorities, and even on occasion bipartisanship. In recent weeks important legislation has been passed to save the US Post Office for unrealistic financial requirements, a cut to the chase on the aforementioned DST, some pretty good movement on approving Executive Branch appointments, and overwhelming support for Ukraine.

On the other hand, we see the same legislative body refusing to fund near term and future pandemic prevention (can we really be THAT stupid? Apparently so!), allowing the temporary aid that cut child poverty in half expire (no more stupid excuses for that than those mouthed by Manchin), and still mostly define infrastructure (and its funding) in 1950’s parameters.

Some days I think the gene pool for the Congress is running low, other days I think everyone there should be subjected to frequent, random drug tests. The good days are just too few and far between, but every so often, they show they can, when they so choose, get thier act together..

Two Combined Domestic and International Notes

The Apparent Permanent Alignment of the American Right with Autocracy & Putin

One other ugly element in all this is the continued support for Russia in general ,and Putin in particular, by much of America’s right-wing, including members of Congress and a number of TV commentators (and not just on Fox). We have seen this before, in other wars, but to watch it spring up from the ruins of what was once a zealous anticommunist party is about like looking at a car wreck. It is terrible, but you can’t help looking.

In some corners, this has led to some open splits between the pro=Trump/Putin wing and real Republicans. Perhaps on the good side this will accelerate the burial of the Trump effect. Time will tell. This seems to be happening at the national level. At state level, where so many Trumpites are now in place, not so much.

What about Companies like Koch that are Business as Usual in Russia?

A reminder that while hundreds of US based companies have ceased or greatly curtailed operations in Russia and Belarus, about 40 have not. Among them is one of America’s largest companies, Koch Industries.

Yep, the same guys who have been fighting climate change and funding the writing of the worst of new laws in state legislators on a wide range of issues. A company like this is hard to boycott, but sure would be nice to extract a price from them for their “profits at any cost” mentality. Would really like to hurt this bunch.

Time Marches On

That’s it for today. Spring is officially here near the end of March. It will be interesting to see what blooms in the human brain and heart.

At least we get to watch Russian tanks getting seriously mired in the mud. Armored warfare in Ukraine in the Spring goes about as well as infantry fighting in Russia in the Winter. Not recommended for the feint of heart or weak of purpose. Hey, that sounds like the Russian army, doesn’t it?

     Bill Clontz

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