George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher and writer, said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Harry Truman said “The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know.”
When I was a boy, I lived in a small Iowa town. We had neighbors that spoke with an accent. They had fled Hungary after a 1956 uprising that the Soviet Union brutally crushed. A few days later Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev told a group of Western diplomats “We will bury you!”
A lot has changed since 1956. The Soviet Union is no more. However, we see Putin acting much like Khrushchev. He seems to delight in antagonizing the US. Now he is invading Ukraine. It’s hard to tell where things will go from here. One extremist politician has a map in his office that shows Alaska as a part of Russia.
Putin knows that he can act with impunity. We are the only country that can stand up to him but we will do nothing except give empty words of protest.
We normally don’t hear much about Ukraine. I have to confess that I only knew it as a country which had been part of the Soviet Union. Ukrainians have a long, tragic history of domination by other countries. Soviet rule was particularly harsh. Millions died in a famine caused in part by the Russians taking their food. The country has had a troubled history since gaining its independence. They have been led by a president with close ties to Russia. He imprisoned opponents and lived in incredible luxury while the country was in economic chaos. He resisted the desire of those in the west to align more closely with Europe.
Protestors are celebrating their victory. It will probably not last long. Vladimir Putin has a grand vision of restoring the Soviet Union. Ukraine is part of his plans. He has tried to keep an economic stranglehold on the country and has even cut off their natural gas at times. It seems quite possible that there will either be a civil war or a Russian invasion.
The United States is probably the only country that can stand up to Putin. President Obama has warned of “consequences” but everyone knows that is an empty threat. He has repeatedly backed down in Syria and elsewhere.
Sadly, it looks like the Ukrainians will go through great suffering and we won’t lift a finger to help. With the announcement that our military will shrink to pre-World War 2 levels, we won’t be able to respond to future crises. We can look forward to a world in which thugs and tyrants don’t need to fear us.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has drawn a lot of criticism for a proposed study. Part of it would involve people stationed in newsrooms with the right to grill reporters and editors regarding their stories.
Even though the Obama administration has enormously benefitted from a fawning press core, they still want greater control. Most notorious was the massive wiretapping at the Associated Press. This attitude was present when President Obama complained about being treated unfairly by Bill O’Reilly. Apparently O’Reilly’s offense was not asking questions Obama wanted to answer.
Clearly, having government agents in newsrooms is an assault on the First Amendment. So why does the FCC want to do the study? My belief is that they want to restore the Fairness Doctrine. It was imposed in 1949 and eliminated in 1987. It required TV and radio stations to devote time to public issues and provide equal time for each side. This creates some ridiculous situations. A man appeared on a late night TV show. It turned out that he was running for a local office so all the other candidates had to appear on the show. Ronald Reagan movies were not allowed on television when he ran for President.
Back then we had limited access to media but cable TV and the internet have changed that. There is plenty of opportunity for someone to learn about every side of an issue so there is no need for the reinstatement. Backers have only one goal; getting conservative talk radio off the air.
We need to stop the FCC from invading newsrooms and silencing political opponents in the name of “fairness”.
I first started watching the Olympics in 1960 and have been a dedicated fan ever since. But this time around I’m really indifferent. Some of this has been building for a long time while other factors are specific to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Here are some of the reasons:
Delayed broadcasts – If you want to avoid learning the results, you must stay away from TV, radio, newspapers and the internet.
Location – The sports are supposed to be on snow and ice, not slush. It also makes no sense to hold them in an area full of terrorists.
Putin – An obscene amount of money was spent for the glorification of a man who is little more than a dictator.
Sports – Traditional sports need to compete with those from the X games and ones few have heard of or care about.
Contestants – It used to be that athletes were in it for the glory of the game. Now many are hoping for the megabucks in endorsements if they win a gold medal.
If you are having a good time watching the games, go right ahead. I’m looking forward to the return of the regular TV schedule.
I have lost much of my vision due to a tumor. Many people would say that I am visually impaired. I prefer to think that I am a person with a visual impairment. That may sound like a distinction without a difference but I beg to disagree. My difficulty has absolutely nothing to do with who I am and should not be used to define me.
There was a time when people were labeled in a derogatory manner and they were used for discrimination. We have certainly made tremendous strides in the last 50 years. Martin Luther King asked for a society where people are judged by the content of their character.
Unfortunately labels seem to be on the increase. Groups are told that they are “special” and everyone needs to be hypersensitive to avoid even the slightest hint of an offense. While this may be done with the best of intents, it is demeaning to the people affected.
Let’s get rid of the labels and try to live up to Dr. King’s ideal.