blood in the streets

“If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information…there’ll be riots in the street.”

That was Senator Lindsey Olin Graham of South Carolina. But I’ve been seeing and hearing that sort of idiotic bullshit a lot lately–on the news and in real life. There was a guy at the gym last week–a living caricature of a Trump supporter; overweight and angry, loud and obnoxious–saying much the same thing. He said he was so angry he was “about ready to take up arms.” About ready. Not actually ready to take up arms, but just about ready.

Putting aside the fact that this guy would have probably collapsed in a puddle of his own urine if he’d had to run across the street, there’s the question of whom he’d take up arms against. In his rant, he mentioned Uncle Joe Biden, Antifa, the DeepStateFBI (yes, it was all one word) and communists. Maybe he meant to take up arms against all of them? Or maybe he thinks they’re all the same group? I don’t know. It was an unhinged, unfocused, unorganized rant.

Is this blood-in-the-streets scenario something we really need to fret about? Well, yes and no. I mean, the 1/6 insurrection is evidence that there are a lot of angry Trumpistas who are willing to use violence to get their way. So yeah, that’s a real concern.

But that anger had focus. Misdirected focus built on lies, true–but there was a focal point. The Capitol Building. Comrade Trump pointed them at the Capitol. It’s entirely possible (assuming Trump gets indicted–and I think he will–and goes to trial–and I’m not so sure about that) that a Trumpista mob would assault the courthouse.

He could riot for maybe half a street.

But as for widespread rioting in the streets? Naw, probably not. Sure, there’ll be pro-Trump protests and some of those will likely turn violent. But the problem with the sort of conspiratorial free-floating rage we see from so many Trumpistas is that it’s undirected. Like the fuckwit at the gym, they’re intensely angry at some vague, nebulous Biden/Antifa/DeepState/commie Bogeyman that doesn’t exist. It’s easy to sustain that sort of anger, but hard to sustain any sort of direct action against vapor. You can’t punch smoke.

But you can punch fascists. If holding Trump accountable for his crimes leads to violence in the streets, then so be it. I’d much rather it didn’t happen, but if it does then it does. It’s a price we may have to pay to resist fascism.

EDITORIAL NOTES: 1) I don’t advocate punching anybody, even if they’re fascists. But if you find yourself on the street and there’s a fascist in front of you doing or saying fascist stuff, DO NOT punch him (it’ll almost certainly be a guy) in the head; heads are mostly bone and you could hurt your hand. Punch him someplace soft. 2) When I described the Trumpista at the gym as being “overweight and angry” and said he’d likely collapse “in a puddle of his own urine if he’d had to run across the street,” it wasn’t to denigrate fat people. There are fat people who are in really good shape. I’m just describing those armchair warriors who sit around drinking cheap-ass beer and eating bags of Doritos and fantasize about being tough. I probably am denigrating cheap-ass beer, though. Sue me.

stuff is happening

Three things, in reverse order.

Third, the FBI seized the cell phone of Congressman Scott Perry. This is what Perry his ownself had to say about it.

“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.”

Dude, c’mon; the FBI just didn’t want to give you the chance to destroy whatever evidence you probably have stashed on your phone.

Now, you may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, just who in the buttered popcorn fuck is this Scott Perry of whom you speak?” Perry is your basic MAGA fuckwit of the Pennsylvania variety. He had a successful military career, then went into business. While a businessman, he was criminally charged with conspiring to falsify state-mandated sewage records (no, I’m NOT making that up). But because he was a white corporate Republican donor, he was “allowed to complete a diversion program” which let him skate without a criminal conviction. I’m not saying his criminal history helped his political career, but PA voters went and made him a Member of Congress anyway. In Congress, he became a big hat in Comrade Trump’s attempts to steal the election. He was instrumental in the attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General, and he was a proponent of the Dominion voting machine conspiracy theory. He was also one of the GOP members of Congress who explicitly requested a pardon after the 1/6 coup failed. (SPOILER: he didn’t get one.)

So yeah, the FBI wanted his cell phone and they didn’t want to take the chance that Perry might accidentally drop his phone in a wood chipper. I mean, they almost certainly already know what’s on his phone (that’s how they justify a search warrant), but having the instrument of criminality right in your hands is a LOT more compelling when presented to a jury in a criminal trial. So Perry, who was ignored by Trump during his Pardon-O-Rama, might feel a wee bit less loyal now. I’m sure the 1/6 Committee is anxious to chat with him. So, good times ahead.

Second, today Comrade Trump finally had to testify UNDER OATH during a deposition by the NY Attorney General, who is investigating Trump’s business practices. She’s looking into allegations of fraud. Trump TOOK THE FIFTH and refused to answer questions. Just to be clear, the Fifth Amendment can be invoked when somebody (like Trump) believes a truthful answer would incriminate them. This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, BUT unlike a criminal case, taking the Fifth in a civil case allows a judge or jury to make the appropriate inference (SPOILER: which is that the motherfucker is guilty). So, more good times ahead.

“Do I have to answer that question? I don’t want to answer that question.”

But first, hey bingo, the FBI’s unannounced warranted search of Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, we don’t know WHY the FBI showed up and went rifling through Trump’s stuff. All we know for certain is that the FBI gave a judge enough information for the judge to believe that a specific crime had taken place, and that evidence of that crime could be found in fairly specific places in Trump’s resort/home. At this point, we don’t know what was in the affidavit supporting the search warrant. And it would be unwise for us to speculate.

LET’S SPECULATE ANYWAY!

If it was small beans–like, say, Trump or his aides had failed to return documents that rightly belonged in the National Archives–it seems likely that Trump or one of his many attorneys would release the search warrant. They have the authority to do that.

They haven’t. Which suggests to me that it’s not small beans. The fact that this happened a couple of days ago, but no reporter seems to have been able to get somebody in the FBI or DOJ to leak even a hint of the underlying crime alleged in the search warrant also, to me, suggests it’s not small beans. There IS, however, some reporting indicating that somebody dropped a dime on Trump–that somebody was aware a serious crime had happened or was about to happen.

It seems improbable (to me, at any rate) that this would be related to Trump’s attempted coup. I mean, we basically know the fact pattern of that crime, and the 1/6 Committee very likely already has all the critical documentary evidence they need. So why would the FBI feel the need to act quickly? And why isn’t Trump releasing the search warrant?

I’m speculating like a motherfucker here, BUT I’m thinking the boxes of documents the FBI seized included stuff that foreign governments would love to get their hands on. And I’m thinking Trump, being Trump, not only took classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to take, also couldn’t be bothered to keep that classified shit safe from all the MAGA assholes and foreign visitors who wander around Mar-a-Lago.

And that, oh my droogs, is a BIG fucking crime under Title 18, Chapter 37 of the US Code. And now you’re wondering, “Greg, old sock, what is this Chapter 37 bidness?” I’m about to tell you.

18 U.S. Code Chapter 37 – ESPIONAGE

This isn’t to say Comrade Trump is a spy, or even that he (or somebody near him, like, say Jared Pencilneck) is/was planning to sell classified documents. It just means that Trump possessed classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to have in his possession, and that he wasn’t protecting it.

Again, this is just me speculating. And in the interest of honesty, I should also remind you that I also speculated that there was no way in hell that Donald Trump could ever be elected President of the United States. So my speculating record isn’t exactly stellar.

Oh, and stop calling me ‘old sock.’

it’s not going to stop them

A headline in my morning news feed:

Judge blocks Biden admin directives on transgender athletes, bathrooms

Judge Charles Atchley Jr., appointed to the Eastern District of Tennessee in the last weeks of the failed Trump administration, “temporarily blocked Biden administration directives allowing transgender workers and students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.”

Here’s what happened: twenty GOP-controlled states have passed laws allowing (or requiring) discrimination against trans students and workers. President Uncle Joe’s directives, in effect, said, “Hey, it’s your state, do what you think you have to. BUT if you do that, you’ll lose some federal funding.” The Attorneys General of those states said, “It’s not fair for you to deny us some of that sweet federal cash just because we think trans people are icky and want to punish them.” The Biden position is, “Dude, our cash, our rules.”

But here’s the thing: bigots can hold power and punish trans folks, but it’s not going to stop them. I mean, just think about how much courage and determination it takes for trans people to identify themselves as trans. City, county, and state governments pass laws that are specifically and deliberately cruel to trans kids–and they still stand up and say, “I’m Spartacus!” Bigots and assholes physically attack and murder trans folks–and they still stand up and say, “I’m Spartacus!”

Do these judges and attorneys general really think trans kids will stop being trans just because the government puts an end to inclusive bathrooms? They’ve been beaten and publicly humiliated and murdered and disowned by their parents–and NONE of that has stopped them from being trans because that’s who they fucking are.

A couple of days ago on the news, there was one of those classic ‘hero citizen’ reports. Guy spots a house on fire, alerts the people inside, gashes his arm breaking a window to rescue a child. Everybody cheers this guy, because he’s a genuine hero.

Trans folks–and especially trans kids–run into a burning house every damned day just by living their lives. They risk their lives every damned day just by going out in public. They are quietly heroic every damned day.

Ain’t no judge or attorney general going to stop them.

first through the door

I give no weight to the claim by the Uvalde, TX police that they couldn’t breach that classroom door because it hadn’t been authorized. No weight at all.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully willing to believe that whoever was in charge of the situation (and it was such an astonishing jurisdictional fuck-up that it’s hard to say who was actually giving orders to whom) refused to authorize the breach. But I don’t believe that’s what actually prevented the police from entering the classroom. And in fact, it appears the final decision to breach was made despite orders not to do it.

I strongly suspect the reason for the delay was that nobody wanted to be the first person through the door. They knew there was somebody on the other side of the door with a semi-auto rifle. They knew that person had already shot and killed a bunch of kids; they knew he wouldn’t shy away from shooting at police officers. They knew the first officer through that classroom door would be targeted. They knew there was a very good chance that first officer through the door would be wounded or killed.

I’ve never been in that situation, though I’ve been in something similar. Years ago, when I was working as the counselor for the Psychiatric/Security Unit of a prison for women, I occasionally found myself standing outside a cell in which an inmate had either obtained or fashioned a knife. Obviously, you can’t allow prison inmates to have knives, which means somebody has to take it from them.

Because we had a duty of care for the inmates–and we actually believed in it–that meant finding a way to take the knife from the inmate with the least amount of damage to the inmate. Not the least amount of damage to the unfortunate volunteer who had to enter the cell, but to the inmate. That’s what a duty of care means; you have an obligation to try NOT to hurt the people under your care or allow them to be hurt.

The very best resolution, of course, is for that unfortunate volunteer to try to talk the inmate into surrendering the knife. As the unit’s counselor, my job was to be the unfortunate volunteer. Open the door, go in the cell by myself, try to convince an inmate to drop her weapon. You go in by yourself because that’s less threatening.

I’m not an idiot, though. I always had a team waiting outside, out of view, ready to rush in and help me if/when things went sideways. It made going into that cell a little bit less terrifying.

Talking worked maybe half the time. Half the time the inmate either refused to drop the knife (in which case I had to act to take her knife away) or she attacked me. I trained for this, of course, and practiced techniques for defending myself against a knife attack. But it was still pretty awful waiting outside that door, knowing I’d have to go in and maybe have to defend myself. The longer I had to wait (for example, if the backup team hadn’t arrived), the harder it was to open that door and step inside.

It has to be a LOT scarier to stand outside a door knowing the person inside has a semi-auto weapon and has already killed people.

But here’s the thing: that’s the job. You train for it. You practice it. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it’s your job to put aside your personal safety. If you can’t do that–or if you’re unwilling to do that–then you should leave the job.

Over the last several years, the attitude of police officers has shifted away from that. It began with that mantra “It’s better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.” More and more we’re seeing police officers put their own safety ahead of the public’s. We see police officers shooting suicidal, knife-wielding, psychiatric patients–because it’s safer for them. We see police officers shooting people suspected of possibly having a weapon–because it’s safer for them. We see police officers shooting people out of fear for their own safety.

That’s perfectly understandable. Nobody wants to get hurt, nobody wants to get stabbed or shot, nobody wants to take unreasonable risks. But that’s part of the fucking job. You train and practice ways to reduce the risks, to minimize the risks, to limit the damage you will very likely have to take. But those risks are hard-wired into the job.

As I understand it (and lawdy, there is SO MUCH confusion and misinformation about what actually happened in Uvalde that we still can’t be sure what took place), the first person through the door was grazed by a bullet. He could have been killed. But had he (or some other law enforcement person) had been willing to take that risk 45 minutes earlier, there’d be fewer funerals of children held this week.

The police culture needs to change. They need to be reminded about the entire point of being police officers. Protect and serve. Protect the public, serve the public. Do that even at the risk of your own safety. If you can’t or won’t put the public ahead of yourself, go work security at some shopping mall.

mtg omg

I watched the Marjorie Taylor Greene Amnesia-Fest yesterday. Technically, it was an evidentiary hearing to determine if MTG should be barred from seeking re-election to Congress based on a violation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In practice, it was MTG playing dodge-ball with the Truth, ducking any personal responsibility by claiming she couldn’t remember much of anything about anything.

You may be wondering just what in the name of the Great Bearded God of Goats is in the 14th Amendment. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in it, but the only part that MTG was fretting about was Section 3, which says this:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. 

The hearing was to determine whether there is any evidence that MTG ‘engaged in insurrection’ against the United States (SPOILER: yeah, lots of evidence) and whether the evidence was enough to begin a legal proceeding to remove her from the mid-term election ballot (SPOILER: probably not, but who knows?). The entire proceeding could be boiled down to this:

Lawyer: Ms. Greene, did you do some insurrection against the US?
MTG: I don’t recall.

I’ve seen a lot of trials and hearings, and I think I can say without any hesitation that MTG was a shitty witness. It wasn’t just that she was occasionally dramatic or uncooperative or snarky AF (though she often was), or that her memory was remarkably and conveniently inconsistent, it was the astonishing scope of her lack of memory that was staggering. She couldn’t remember nothing about nothing unless it meant nothing.

Marjorie Taylor Greene swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth except when she can dodge it.

I wouldn’t expect her to remember every pro-insurrection tweet she made, because lawdy, she made a LOT of them. But I’m pretty sure that most folks would remember whether or not they discussed, with the President of These United States, imposing martial law on the US. That’s not the sort of thing that would slip your mind. But that was the level of her denial.

Sadly, I doubt the judge will find the evidence is sufficient to remove her from the ballot for the mid-term elections. It’s pretty clear she was lying some/many/most of the times she claimed she couldn’t recall stuff she’d done, but it’s damned difficult to prove she was lying.

At the heel of the hunt, this will probably be yet another example of a Republican lying, violating the law, and getting away with it. I suspect MTG will get to stay on the ballot and will likely be re-elected. I suspect other Republicans will learn the lesson that they can lie and get away with it.

I keep hoping that someday somebody somewhere will be held accountable for something.

human decency 101

Fischer Wells just wants to play field hockey. The State of Kentucky says she can’t. I’m not making this up. Kentucky passed a law to make sure this twelve-year-old girl won’t be able to play field hockey at her middle school. Think about how fucked up that is.

You know what? It’s more fucked up that you think. Consider the process of passing a law in Kentucky (or any other state, for that matter). It’s a time-intensive process. You have to cobble together the language of the bill you want to become law, including defining all the elements. Then you have to present the bill to…wait. Here, look at this:

This is the amount of effort the State of Kentucky went to in order to keep 12-year-old Fischer Wells from playing field hockey at school. Note Step 11: “If bill is vetoed, it goes back to each chamber. If approved by a constitutional majority in each chamber, the veto is overridden and the bill becomes law.” That actually happened with this particular bill.

Andy Beshear, a Democrat and the Governor of Kentucky, vetoed the bill because it “most likely violates the equal protection rights afforded by the United States Constitution.” The Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, voted to override the veto.

Why would Republicans go to so much fuss and bother to pass this law? Because Fischer Wells is a trans girl. She’s the ONLY known trans girl playing in middle or high school sports in Kentucky. She’s in the 8th grade. She’s not much of a threat.

12-year-old Fischer Wells

A number of states have passed similar laws designed to prevent trans students from participating in middle school, high school, or college sports. They claim they’re doing it in the interest of ‘fairness’. Their reason can be summed up in this comment by Robby Mills, the Kentucky law’s GOP sponsor:

“Boys have athletic advantages even before puberty in cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, agility and power tests. A lot of time and effort is put into achieving a certain level of mastery in a sport and it would be crushing for a lady to train her whole career to have it end up competing against a biological male in the state tournament or state finals.”

Sure, that would be tough on a ‘lady’. But Mills and his fellow (should I call them bigots? I mean, the law is bigoted, to be sure. And it’s supported by anti-trans bigots. But it’s possible, I suppose, for a legislator to support the bill NOT because they’re a bigot, but because they want the votes cast by a bigoted public. But fuck that, if you vote for a bigoted law, you’re a bigot) bigots seem to be under the insane impression that there are guys out there in the sports world who consider themselves male BUT are so insecure in their ‘mastery in a sport’ that they’re willing to temporarily identify as female simply in order to win a high school sports championship.

And that’s fucking ridiculous. You have to be astonishingly stupid to believe that.

At the college level, where sports participation starts to really pay off, they’ve already taken steps to insure fairness. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a complete policy outlining transgender student-athlete participation. In theory, it applies to both trans men and trans women; in practice it’s directed primarily at trans women. It says trans women have to be taking hormonal treatment for gender transition for a certain period of time in order to participate in women’s sports. Trans men, on the other hand, don’t have to be taking testosterone in order to participate in men’s sports.

I’m not entirely convinced the NCAA actually needs to do this, but at least it’s an honest and sensible approach to ‘fairness’ regarding trans folks in college sports.

But the ‘fairness’ issue is really just a mask for all trans-related fear and hatred. Banning trans athletes isn’t just unfair to openly trans athletes, it actively discourages trans kids from even considering participating in sports. It actively discourages trans kids from letting their family and friends know they’re trans. It actively encourages trans kids to hate themselves. It actively increases the likelihood of trans kids self-harming or killing themselves. It actively encourages transphobic people to bully trans kids or find other ways to harass trans people. It normalizes trans fear and hatred.

On the surface, this seems to be a partisan political issue. Republicans pass anti-trans laws, Democrats try to protect trans rights. But some (how much, I don’t know–maybe a lot, maybe a little) of GOP anti-trans legislation is an aspect of their performative politics. It gets their base motivated, so they don’t give any thought to the repercussions. And yet at least one GOP governor demonstrated some basic human decency.

Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah vetoed an anti-trans sports bill passed by his own party–a bill that, like the Kentucky bill, only affected a few kids. Cox wrote this in his response:

“Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”

I want them to live. There it is. I don’t understand what they’re going through or why they feel the way they do. BUT I WANT THEM TO LIVE. You don’t have to understand (though it would be nice if you tried). You don’t have to agree with their choices. Just refrain from cruelty. Just let other folks live and be comfortable in their bodies.

There have been thousands–tens of thousands–of Fischer Wells, who’ve grown up afraid. There are lots of adult Fischer Wells out there, trans women who worry about going out in public, who wonder if they look fem enough to avoid harassment, to avoid assault, to avoid being targeted and killed.

If you vilify a 12-year-old trans girl who only wants to play field hockey, you create the social conditions that can keep her scared and uncertain and anxiety-ridden and alienated her entire life.

Just let Fischer Wells play. Let every Fischer Wells play. Just stop being assholes. Just make some attempt at some basic human decency. That’s really what this is about. Letting other people get on with their own lives. Letting people be themselves. It’s really not that hard.

male ego masquerading as love

Look, in the grand scheme of things (wait…IS there a grand scheme of things? It doesn’t seem very likely, does it. But never mind, it’s too early for that sort of tangent.) Chris Rock getting slapped by Will Smith is pretty small beans. Who cares if a rich actor slaps a rich comedian?

Except it happened in front of an audience–a live audience and a really huge television audience. Except that it happened during an award ceremony. Except Smith, just half an hour or so later, said, “People do crazy things for love,” as if the slap–and let’s just call it what it really was: a violent assault–as if that violent assault was the result of love. Except that some folks interpreted the assault as a ‘defense’ of Smith’s wife, who was the butt of a tacky Chris Rock joke.

It’s ego that makes people do crazy things, not love.

Except that the assault was really a clear, public display of male ego, of male rage, of male privilege. Except that Will Smith felt he had the right to interrupt a ceremony to exact physical retribution for a perceived insult to somebody else. Except the assault had nothing to do with love. Except that Will Smith made the entire incident–the entire award show and the entire night–about him. “Keep MY WIFE’s name out your fucking mouth.” MY wife.

You know what would be a good way to defend your wife? A good way to turn that joke into something actually about love? A good way to truly demonstrate your love for your wife? Use your time in front of the camera to talk about alopecia. Use that time to educate folks about what it is. Use that time to discuss the weird and often unhealthy social relationship between women and their hair. Use that time to remind folks that humor doesn’t have to be cruel. Use that time to say love doesn’t depend on hair. That love doesn’t depend on appearance. That the Beatles were right, and love is all there is.

At the end of his acceptance speech, Smith said, “I’m hoping the academy invites me back.” Invites ME back. Me. This may be the saddest thing about the entire incident. Will Smith was given an opportunity–a truly unique opportunity–to demonstrate how love for another person works. Instead, he put himself in the center.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’ve said this before, but it’s always worth repeating. Hell, it’s necessary to keep repeating. Burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, Burn it to the ground and collect the ashes, and grind them into powder. Bury the powder deep in the earth, and salt the ground above it so nothing will ever grow there. Pour cement over the salt. Then nuke the entire site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

this ukraine business

Okay, Ukraine and this invasion business. From what I can tell, it’s a result of three things: 1) Putin’s ego, 2) fear of democracy, and 3) water. I know a little bit about the region and its history, but I’m not by any stretch of the imagination even remotely expert on the affairs of Russia and Ukraine.

That said, I’ve been mostly skeptical about the notion of Russia invading Ukraine–not because I think Putin/Russia (and at this point in time, those two are basically conjoined twins) respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity. I’ve been skeptical because I couldn’t figure out what Russia would get out of an invasion that would be worth the price.

Putin’s not stupid. Sure, he’s got a massive ego, and he may long for the days when Russia was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics–when Russia was feared as a super power. But I can’t see him trying to reconquer all the former Soviet Republics just to recreate those days. I sorta kinda figured threatening an invasion would get him the global attention he thinks Russia deserves. I thought Putin would feel the threat would be enough to show the world that Russia is still a major player on the stage of world affairs. I thought a few weeks of saber-rattling would do the trick.

Who got spanked?

Apparently not. So back to the original question: what’s in it for Russia? I suspect Putin, like all tyrants, has a genuine fear of representational democracy. That’s one reason Russia helped Comrade Trump in the 2016 election. I mean, yeah, having an ignorant, egocentric, mendacious, greed-head president like Trump would be a boon to Russia, but the horrible genius of their election interference was that just making him a viable candidate was enough to weaken the entire electoral process. Helping Trump was the equivalent of injecting poison into a healthy body. It didn’t kill us (yet), but it’s compromised our immune system.

For Putin, having former Soviet Republics like Ukraine thrive under democracy is a threat. Don’t forget, Putin earlier tried to gank Ukraine’s democracy through political interference. Back in 2004 Russia supported Viktor Yanukovych when he ran for president of Ukraine. Like Trump, Yanukovish won. However, the election interference was so blatant that the Ukraine Supreme Court ordered a run-off election, which Yanukovych lost. But they tried again in 2010, when Yanukovich ran against Yulia Tymoshenko. That time, Yanukovich won.

Paul Manafort (the guy wearing handcuffs)

How did he win? He hired an American political operative as his campaign manager. Paul Manafort. In 2018, as part of a plea agreement (on charges of eight counts of tax and bank fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and witness tampering) Manafort admitted he’d conducted a media campaign against Tymoshenko, accusing her of anti-Semitism and corruption in order to undermine her support. Tymoshenko was eventually imprisoned. (This is where I note that Manafort was originally Comrade Trump’s campaign manager, and the Trump campaign is probably best remembered for this slogan related to Hilary Clinton: Lock her up. This is also where I note that Trump, after he lost the 2020 election, gave Manafort a full pardon for his crimes–which also dismissed the criminal forfeiture proceedings involving Manafort’s 10-bedroom, 6-bath US$11 million home at Bridgehampton, Long Island, his apartment in New York’s Chinatown, and his townhouse in Brooklyn. Who says crime doesn’t pay?)

After his election, Yanukovich implemented a number of Russia-friendly policies that were so unpopular the Ukrainian people rose up against him. Yanukovich fled to Russia, where he now lives. Ukraine now has a fairly and democratically elected president. And that has to both piss off and terrify Putin. So yeah, good reason to invade, right there.

But there’s also the water issue. Until a couple of days ago, I was unaware that Crimea (a part of Ukraine which Russia invaded and seized in 2014) was dependent on the North Crimean canal for irrigation and feedstock water. (Hell, I wasn’t even aware that the North Crimean canal even existed.) Not long after Russia seized Crimea, the government of Ukraine began to reduce and limit the flow of water to Crimea. Between that and a long period of drought, crops on which Russia relies have begun to fail.

North Crimean Canal

So this is what we’ve got. Russia needs water, Ukraine has control of that water. Russia fears democracy, Ukraine is pro-democracy. Putin is an egomaniac wanting to restore the legacy of Mother Russia, Ukraine was part of that legacy. So yeah, an invasion isn’t all that surprising.

But here’s the problem: what do we do about it?

I have no idea. Sanctions against Russia and Russian oligarchs, obviously. Really harsh sanctions. Military and intelligence support for Ukraine, also obviously. Troops? I’d hate to see us in a shooting war with Russia; their military is second rate at best, but if you’re killed by a second rate military, you’re still dead.

I’m just glad we have President Uncle Joe running this show. If Comrade Trump were in charge, there’d be massive gobs of extra shit in this shitshow.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Yeah, NATO. I wasn’t ignoring the whole NATO thing. I just think Putin’s issue with NATO is a subset of his fear of democracy.