Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Throughout history the legitimacy of violence has been a common debate. Was it right for one marauding tribe to go to war against another for more land or food or offspring? Was war to avenge an injustice OK? If so, when and at what level was violence excessive?

The ancient Romans believed in total war until their targets capitulated completely. Although the Christianization of the Roman Empire saw the rise of "just war" theory, religious wars in those days between various sects accusing the other of "heresy" almost nullified the righteousness of each sect's beliefs. Not long after, Islam adopted the pattern of conversion through mass capitulation under duress if necessary. And so it went, some wars were waged chivalrously and others visciously.

So despite "just war" theory's existence, it's utility waxed & waned over the centuries. America's Civil War might have been "civil" in that both sides strictly forbade violence against non-combatants, but the combatant death tolls were truly horrific. And from then on war's capacity to inflict horrific harm to lives and treasure has become boundless.

Enter a debate on the ethics of war - again.

Commonly, advanced democracies believe that violence between states or by governments on any sect among its population is wrong. Enter Putin. Clearly his fear that Russia's former Soviet satellites were aligning with NATO and the EU was a critically serious threat to Putin's idea of Russia's national interests. (Note, though, that Putin's kleptocracy defines Russia's interests as everything that keeps Putin rich and his kleptocrat lieutenants enriched and in power.) So, in cahoots with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril, a long-time former KGB compatriot of Putin, Russians are told that Russia is saving ethnic Russians from Ukraine and stopping Western immorality from expanding into Russia's neighborhood. So does Russia's #1 religious leader Kiril endorse Russia's aerial on Ukraine's civilians? Does Kiril understand the concept of "proportionality' in war?

If Ukraine's response to Russia's violence on civilians were to be "proportional", then should bombardment by Russia on a Ukrainian city be matched by a Ukrainian bombardment of a Russian city? If this is a consideration, then Russia ought to make those air defense units very prominent. Two world wars showed Europe the horrors of matching violence with violence. But for how long should Russia's civilian population be allowed to remain dumb to the violence Russia's military has unleashed on their civilian counterparts in Ukraine?

Make Russians realize that their violence vs civilians has consequences. Somehow. How?

Which brings me back to poor Andrei Medvedevs crisis. No doubt, he needs asylum. If Putin dies or is deposed, two leading candidates for succession are m:

Former president, ex-prime minister, and deputy chair of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev who has been particularly busy making statements. His over-the-top, hardline comments on foreign policy issues and insults hurled at Western leaders often look comical, but the role he's trying to play is clear. It blends tough isolationism with populism, firmly placing the blame for internal woes on the shoulders of external enemies.

Another contender is Yevgeny Prigozhin, once Putin's private cook, and now @Owner" of the Wagner Group, a mercenary army not constrained by moral conventions of warfare. Prigozhin Is considered Putin's likeliest successor, though "suspected potential usurper" might be more likely. His aggressive rhetoric and tactics seem to be winning public support among extremists who believe their aging president is failing them.

(See: nypost.com "Signs Yevgeny Prigozhin is worse than Putin' and could be Russia's next leader)"

In either case, a militant distant Medvedev relative, or a thug hiring sadist of a boss do not make a ldzhappy homecoming likely for poor wannabe retired Andrei Medvedev. The Norwegians should pal him up with some friendly party going herring catching Norwegian military vets who will help him enjoy swapping Army & Wagner stories over aquavit and vodka & gjetost cheese & herring sandwiches until the Arctic winter's over.

Better to make a friend, than to make enemies. And getting Medvedev's side of the story has to be a hundred gallons of aquavit & a half ton of gjetost & herring sandwiches.

Good article.

I had a frend who served his national duty in Norway's Army at the arctic bordet between Norway & Russia. Hiis stories of that tour of duty were sometimes hilarious as both Russian and Norwegian soldiers peered at each other through binoculars while each was fully armed for global combat to start at moment's notice.

Still, the Norwegians pulled sight gags to test their Russian counterparts' reactions. For example, one story was that the Norwegians created a skit where their soldiers played was a mock execution of a "bad" mess hall cook.

One morning after breakfast in the dim Arctic dawn's light, a huddle of "angry" Norwegian soldiers dragged a dummy in cook's clothes out of the mess hall, yelling obscenities at the "cook" for serving an "inedible" breakfast, and after dragging & kicking the poor incompetent cook to a flagpole, they tied him (it) to the post in plain sight of the always watching Soviet observers. Then one sergeant shouted for the cook to be shot. One of the Norwegians with a blank in his rifle fired right into the poor dummy's belly and then all the Norwegians in the "disgruntled" crowd took their caps off and bowed their heads in somber respect for the late incompetent chef, as a handful among them untied the dummy cook and carried it back to the messhall.

Apparently the observing Russians were stunned, getting their officers to the line and grabbing binoculars from the enlisted observers. Meanwhile, according to my friend, a great laugh was had by all inside the Norwegian messhall.

Mapped: The World's Billionaire Population, by Country


Seems tha America's billionnaire class had grown by 50% since 2018. Check out the link.

The Top 1% is not necessarily the top 1% of INCOME earners. About 600 US billionaires own about $5 trillion in total US wealth (that's 600 billionaire households out of ~ 100,000,000 total US households, or 6/1,000,000 (0.0006%) of US households) or about 4% of America's est. $125 trillion ye2022 wealth.Roughly $25 trillion of America's wealth is owned by households w/ $30 million net worth.

Let's just say that the wealthiest 1% of US households own 25% of America's wealth. The next 49% own about $97 trillion, and the poorest 50% or about 170,000,000 Americans in ~ 50,000,000 households own just 2% of America's wealth. That means the median wealth for the bottom 50% is only $60,000; great globally, but modest compared to the top 49% and a pittance compared to the top 1%.

Many of these top 1% of America's "wealthiest" families are not the country's too 1% of income earners. Trump, for example, reported income at the bottom 10% of Americans for half of the past 8 years? How? Corporate tax laws allow deductions for nearly any expenses except for graft or bribery. When deductions & expenses exceed revenues you have a net loss for income reporting purposes.

For this reason, it's not that the top 1% of income earners must be paying too little in taxes, it's that wealth (with qualified exceptions for properties) isn't generally taxed, so wealth grows exponentially.

So if folks chant "Tax the rich!", they need to figure how to fairly tax the wealth component; something some theocracies have attempted to do with limited effectiveness, and which free market democracies have barely been able to do at all.

Tor, many critics of the Russian War on Ukrainians are on the left of the political spectrum.

Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale, aired an essay, "The War in Ukraine and the Future of Democracy"(snyder.substack.com) on AltenativeRadio.org recently that forecasts that the future of democracy depends on Ukraine's success vs. totalitarian aggression. Yale's history faculty is fairly balanced between conservatives and liberals and centrists. But Snyder's thesis is that Russia's government under Putin is fascist and that Putin, the world's wealthiest billionaire, has great fear of participatory democracy, freedom of the press, and a fair judiciary. His model of governance is no better than Hitler's was, and his lieutenants and mouthpieces are no better than Himmler or Mengele.

On the other hand, U. Chicago's John Mearsheiner, a right-of-center International Affairs professor is a strong critic of the West's support of Ukraine. (m.youtube.com).And Trump and his allies seem to be pulling for Putin to succeed in The War on Ukraine.

Nixon, if my Ukrainian-born grandfather hadn't been so terrorized by Stalin's mignons and had 2 of his favorite cousins "disappeared" (his word) from their homes near L'viv in the middle of the night in the 1930s when he was visiting from the US, I'd probably not have laughed so hard at your meme. (It's a bit of sick humor, but to those terrorized by Russia and by earlier generations of Soviet wickedness and terror it's a pressure relieving schadenfreude.)

In a way it's so sick what Putin has done to the young recruits in his military. And it's so sick that Russians are putting up with Putin, his kleptocracy, and his kleptocrat ex-KGB lieutenants.

If there's a message to the parents & loved ones of the 100k+ KIA Russian military that we should send it would one of commiseration for their loss, wishful hope that their loved dead were not among the immoral war-criminal rapists & murderers that have so characterized Russia's aggression; and urging that they get all of Russia to aveng their loss by deposing their lying kleptocrat dictator, and striving for a benevolent and egalitarian social democracy that has brought the rest of Western and Northern Europe to peaceful progress over the past 6 decades.

And to all Russians, please send Russian Orthodox (& ex-KGB) Metropolitan Kiril the message that Ukraine is not Russia, nor is it Russia's to invade or attack. Russia should leave Ukraine, Putin should eat crow and pray for mercy from a world that would justly condemn him, and the people of Russia should pay reparations to repair the physical destruction they've done. There can scarcely be any reparation possible for Russia's psychological harm it's caused, and generations to come will hate their Russian neighbors, but if Russia gets out of Ukraine now, it will start the healing process faster.

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