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Putin's folly in Crimea - he should read his Chekhov. Richard Cohen essay

Putin’s folly in Crimea
By Richard Cohen, Published: March 3

Vladimir Nabokov considered Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady With the Dog” one of the best short stories ever written. For what it’s worth, I agree. The plot is a simple one. A womanizing banker from Moscow seduces a young woman at the Black Sea resort of Yalta — and then, calamitously, falls in love. The dalliance becomes an obsession for them both. They remain married to others but imprisoned by their passion for one another. The banker’s name is Dmitri. He was hardly the last Russian to lose his wits in Crimea.
The latest is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the president of Russia and, if I may say so, a real dummy. By taking one stupid step after another, he has managed to let much of Ukraine slip from the Russian orbit — to which, if the Ukrainians have anything to say about, it will never return. Putin can pound his chest all he wants, but the sound emitted is just plain tinny.
Putin’s first mistake was to not acknowledge that Russia is, to resurrect what was once said about the Ottoman Empire, the sick man of Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, it has lost much of its empire — all of the old Eastern Europe satellites (Hungary, Poland, etc.) and even countries that Moscow had swallowed whole; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, for example. Russia has become a corrupt petrostate. Oil fuels the economy, and alcohol fuels the population. The U.S. gross domestic product per capita was $52,800 in 2013. Russia’s was $18,100.
Nonetheless, Putin leaned on Ukraine to reject an agreement with the European Union and turn to Moscow instead. He succeeded, but this is precisely where things started to fall apart. Instead of merely accepting the reality that the western half of Ukraine is already oriented with Europe, he used muscle — and a $15 billion loan — to keep Kiev beholden to Russia. Demonstrators took to the streets, the pro-Moscow Ukrainian government used deadly force and the government was toppled. Putin’s guy, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanu­kovych, was last seen in Russia itself. Soon he’ll be rooming with Edward Snowden.

It is tempting to talk, as the Financial Times has, of a “second Cold War.” This is nonsense. The current crisis is neither an ideological battle nor even a tug of war between two competing empires. It is, instead, a revival of the old European game of jostling nationalisms. In Ukraine, Russian speakers do not want to take orders from Ukrainian speakers. In Europe, these matters have usually been settled by ethnic cleansing or population transfers. Here, Putin’s preferred method would be to effectively annex the Russian-speaking Crimea to Russia itself — welcome home, Yalta. It is, after all, where the czars and Stalin summered.

The relevant war was not cold but very hot indeed — World War I. It began for reasons still not fully understood and persisted for four years, illustrating the irrational power of nationalism. Men went crazy. Working-class Germans killed working-class Frenchmen as socialist intellectuals vainly blew a whistle for a timeout. Comrades, get a grip! But the war, like a giant maw, ground on, chewing up millions. A century later, Russian troops are now, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Ukraine. We have a whole new crisis. Where the hell did it come from?
Certainly, Putin does not fear President Obama. (Almost no one does.) But it would be good if he did. Declining empires are inherently unstable. They have glorious histories and dismal futures. They embrace dusty terms like “fascist” and rush to the aid of fellow ethnics who are in no danger whatsoever. German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Putin the other day and found him out of touch with reality. “In another world,” she said. He lives, like the Ottoman sultan of old, in a Topkapi Palace of his own creation.

for the rest go to source:

Rachel is on with Jon Stewart tonight - she just said it. Daily Show.

I am antsy and itchy about her show tomorrow. She will report things we know - but will also tell us new reasons "Why we did it" in Iraq. She has to walk a very fine line in this climate where really courageous reporting is not exactly encouraged, and at times costs good investigators their jobs.

FYI - Putin speaks fluent German - and Merkel fluent Russian - and did you know

that the Big Dog speaks an acceptable conversational German, and when on the phone with Merkel conducted most of it in German because he wanted to?

I just had a conversation with a childhood friend who lives in Germany who is politically interested and follows what's going on - especially the markets - because he has money.

He enlightened me that Angela Merkel is from the former East Block in Germany and speaks fluent Russian. And that as the head of the KGB Putin was stationed in Dresden Germany for a long time and except for the Russian rolling r speaks grammatically correct, unaccented, fluent German.

Now this may not be of interest in general on DU. But I wanted to share it anyway. Everyone can in their own minds assign some thoughts and importance to this little bit of information.

There are many things we miss in this country, vast as it is, with its universal one language. I'm disregarding Spanish for a minute and considering our lack of assigning value to it in general there are actually obvious reasons for doing so. In our mentality when it comes to our station on earth WE'RE Number ONE.
I never will forget the time a 50 year old American woman stood in front of a world map affixed to my kitchen door. After being asked I showed her where the US of A is.
"When did we get so small?" she asked.

It infuriates me to see an allocation of 14 dollars per student for school books in my town, in a state where teachers are so underpaid they personally have to subsidize the needs of students while it strangles their own needs.

I grew up in Germany, the West of it at the time, and at age 9 a second language was taught (English) and then at age 12 a third (French). This was mandatory.

I know we don't have a need for being multilingual here in America to the degree that it benefits the Europeans. But the sheer fact that we have so little exposure keeps me being surrounded by many who believe the SHIT that gets spewed on the Fox "news" channel, and makes them think they are learning something.

I just want to hold my face in my hands for a minute.
They have a nice word for that and here's a visual

So I laugh, because it's all I can do.

Putin Receives Strong Words of Support in long Conversation with Self - by fly on the wall Borowitz

Putin Receives Strong Words of Support in Ninety-Minute Conversation with Self

MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report)—Russian President Vladimir Putin received “strong, unqualified words of support” last night in a ninety-minute conversation with himself, Mr. Putin confirmed today.
The invasion of Crimea was the main topic of the conversation, which Mr. Putin described as “extremely collegial and enthusiastic.”

“We discussed a wide range of issues, including how everyone in Ukraine had invited us to come to Ukraine, and also how the soldiers reported to be in Crimea were not actually Russian soldiers but, in fact, local volunteers who looked a lot like Russian soldiers,” he said. “There was strong agreement on all of these matters.”

Mr. Putin pronounced the ninety-minute conversation “exceedingly helpful.” He added: “It was exhilarating to be able to talk at length with someone for whom I have such boundless love and respect.”

Buoyed by last night’s positive dialogue, Mr. Putin said that he planned to have many such conversations in the days and weeks ahead. “It was good to hear how splendidly everything was going,” he said.


Lupita Nyong'o-s speech to women before her Oscar win, it shows she is a winner through and through


A "Dali-ance" - Our Climate Change policies illustrated. (Toles Cartoon)

Violations issued against Duke for coal ash spill

Source: Winston-Salem Journal


Violations issued against Duke for coal ash spill

RALEIGH — North Carolina regulators have issued notice to Duke Energy that the company will be cited for environmental violations related to a massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Friday that the two notices relate to separate violations of wastewater and storm-water regulations. The agency could levy fines against Duke for the violations, but the amount has not yet been determined.

The spill began Feb. 2 when an old pipe under a 27-acre coal ash dump at a Duke power plant in Eden collapsed. It took the company nearly a week to fully plug the leak. Public health officials have advised people to avoid contact with the river water and to not eat fish.

Read more: http://www.journalnow.com/

Mass Gay Migration Aims to Make Arizona Majority Gay - Borowitz says, as Brewer vetoes

PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)—Rejecting calls to boycott Arizona, a newly formed gay organization is mobilizing its members to move to the state by the millions in the hopes of transforming it into the nation’s first majority gay state.
The group, called Americans for a Gay Arizona, has already received commitments from a million gay Americans to move to the state within the next two months, with a target of enlisting over six million gays to move there by the end of the year.
Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of the group, said that the influx of six million gays would be “more than enough” to insure that Arizona would be majority gay, but he acknowledged that he did not have an exact figure of how many gays currently reside there.
“We think it could be as many as a million,” he said. “But if you add in conservative politicians, that number could go much higher.”

According to one associate of Governor Jan Brewer, the plan to move six million gays to Arizona is shaping up to be the governor’s worst nightmare.
“She’s always been against immigration, but nothing like this,” the associate said.

Arizona Governor Fears Government Regulation Could Ruin Bigotry and Hatred - Andy Borowitz

PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)—Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said today that she was reluctant to sign an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill passed by the Arizona state legislature this week, telling reporters, “I believe that bigotry and hatred should be free of government regulation.”

She said that while many Arizona business owners currently enjoy employing hateful practices, “I worry that if big government gets involved, that’ll ruin everything.”

“Don’t get me wrong—I think the anti-gay bill that the legislature passed was well-meaning,” she said. “All I’m saying is, let’s leave it to the private sector.”

Offering an example, she added, “Look at how Obamacare has messed up health care. I’d hate to pass a new law that results in government wrecking bigotry.”

But Governor Brewer got some pushback today from Republican legislator Harland Dorrinson, who told reporters, "I’m as opposed to big government as anyone. But promoting hate-based bias is one area where I believe government has an important role to play.”

For her part, Governor Brewer remains unconvinced by that argument. Noting that the current system of hatred and bigotry in place in Arizona has worked well for decades, she said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


In for a treat: Rachel on with Bill Maher at 10 pm and repeat at 11 pm / HBO -yes there are others:)

The Interview:

Michelle Alexander
holds a joint professorship at both the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. A lawyer and civil rights advocate, Alexander is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

The Panel:

Charles Cooke
is a staff writer for National Review Online. His work has focused especially on Anglo-American history, British liberty, free speech, the second amendment and American exceptionalism. Cooke co-hosts the new iTunes podcast, “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.”

Twitter: @charlescwcooke

Rep. Jane Harman
served California’s 26th congressional district until 2011. She is currently the Director, President, and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as well as a member of the Defense Policy Board, the State Department Foreign Policy Board and the Homeland Security Advisory. While in Congress, she was the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee.

Rachel Maddow
hosts “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC and writes a monthly opinion column for The Washington Post. She will present “Why We Did It,” a new documentary investigating what spurred the US government to start the Iraq war, Thursday, March 6 at 9PM on MSNBC.

Twitter: @maddow

Mid Show Guest:

Steve Coogan
starred in, co-wrote and co-produced the Academy Award-nominated film Philomena. He is a co-founder of Baby Cow Productions, which has gained a reputation for nurturing new British comedy talent, while teaming up with the best of the UK’s established writers, directors and produ
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