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Sly and the Family Stone -- "I Want to Take You Higher"

Welcome to the weekly open thread for policy discussions by DK Elections regulars. While the main Daily Kos Elections blog, an official subsite of Daily Kos, is strictly a policy free zone for discussions of politics and elections only, it can sometimes be hard not to bring up policy issues when talking about particular candidates or topics. In addition, some of us might like to have a thoughtful discussion with other regular commenters at DKE on issues of policy when most of what we usually talk about pertains to elections. Thus, this open thread and the group blog Daily Kos Elections: Policy will provide a forum to talk about issues without derailing DKE Live Digests for those who just want election coverage and debate. Feel free to follow this group and if you would like to publish a diary to the group blog page, just PM me about becoming a contributor.

So what issues are you interested in talking about?

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Comment Preferences

  •  How very interesting that there isn't a single (0+ / 0-)

    comment on this diary given the current meta.

    Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

    by ExpatGirl on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:07:47 AM PDT

    •  Why would the current meta (0+ / 0-)

      appear in a DKE issues open thread? Or, are some main page people boycotting DKE or such?

      •  I don't think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bythesea

        that commenter understood that this is a DKE diary, or what DKE is.

        For those who don't know, DKE (or Dailykos Elections) is a subsite within dailykos that specializes in election analysis only.  Most of the site takes place in the daily threads that can be found on Dailykos.com/blog/elections.  As well, there are periodic posts for special news, like new Senate challengers, congressional retirements, and dedicated live threads for election results.  Basically, it's the part of dailykos that focuses only on election news and analysis.

        The "Policy open threads" are for DKE regulars to discuss policy and other issues, since DKE itself is only for elections discussion.

  •  Crimea (5+ / 0-)

    I think there's some merit to Putin's arguments that  Crimea should have never been Ukrainian and that we need to respect self determination.  However:

    - You can't go fixing the mistakes of the 19th and 20th centuries through unilateral annexations. For example, a Chinese man on a train told me that it was a mistake, on the part of Mao, to recognize Mongolian independence.  If China decided to "fix" this, in wouldn't be pretty. Bolivia regards Chile's 19th century annexation of their Litoral Department has a grave injustice.  What if Mexico renounced the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?  I could go on, but you get the idea.

    - Self determination needs to happen through a international recognized plebiscite, ideally with the cooperation of Ukraine.  A vote in the middle of crisis, with Russian forces occupying the region is hardly free and fair.

  •  I highly recommend (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chachy, James Allen, bythesea

    this recent diary: Colorblind Racism and White Racial Innocence: Understanding Paul Ryan's Racism in Three Easy Steps, in regards to Paul Ryan's recent statement about inner city life:

    "We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with."
    The diary goes beyond talking about the coded racism and blatant privilege on display in Ryan's statements, and talks about the state of racism in America today...as I and a lot of others have said before, people seem to think racism is a historical problem...segregation, the KKK, lynching, etc.  They think that the problem today is people even talking about race.  Consider the following passages from that diary:
    Following the triumphs of the civil rights movement, colorblind white racism has largely replaced “old fashioned” racism.

    While whites still use very explicit and racist speech in the “backstage”, private spaces, or online, America’s embrace of multiculturalism and pluralism have deemed such acts anathema to “decent” people. This is especially true for a nationally known politician like Paul Ryan.

    Colorblind racism inverts reality and distorts the facts. It involves denying that racism still exists as a serious social problem; black and brown people are limited in their life chances not because of institutional discrimination but because of their “bad culture” or “laziness”; white supremacy and systems of white racial advantage are dismissed as either exaggerated or non-existent; racism is reduced to mean words by white people, as opposed to systematic institutional discrimination against people of color.

    The most perverse result of colorblind racism is that many white people now believe that they are “victims” of "racism", and that “anti-white racism” is a larger problem in the United States than is discrimination against black and brown Americans. Mountains of research and empirical data detail how Americans society is oriented around maintaining white privilege and white material advantages over people of color.

    Colorblind racism overrides those facts by distorting white people’s (and some others’) ability to process and understand reality.

    Paul Ryan’s “inner city” comment is a quintessential example of colorblind racism. He cannot plainly state that lazy black people are genetically predisposed to idleness, crime, violence, and sexual promiscuity. However, Ryan can suggest that the supposed failures of black people are really their own fault, and that all they need to do is “work hard” and have “good culture” to get ahead in America like "normal" (read: white) people.

    The whole diary is fantastic and insightful, and I highly recommend you all check it out.
    •  All excellent points. (5+ / 0-)

      The really perverse thing is that the "inner city," insofar as it is a place of concentrated and racialized poverty, is a construct of racist policies, such as red-zoning. To then turn around and blame that poverty on "culture" is in itself so willfully blind to history as to be racist in itself, even without taking into account the dog-whistle aspects of the rhetoric.

      I have nothing but contempt for politicians who speak in such terms. (So, yeah, pretty much the whole of the republican party...)

      •  Nah, it's just "self-segregation" (5+ / 0-)

        Seriously I've had people tell me that.  Makes me want to pull my hair out.

        And yeah, any time a Republican starts talking about the "inner city", I know racism is imminent.

        •  not just "people" (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Skaje, bythesea, Stephen Wolf, Chachy

          Clarence Thomas believes that.

          My separate objection to Ryan's rhetoric is about the "culture of work" notion. For all of human history for 95% or more of humans work has at most been something that we needed to do to survive or get by, it has not been fulfilling or redeeming work. The vast majority of people do not find that their work is inherently enjoyable. Nowadays in this country it is rarely a matter of survival. Why should we need to work so hard, and be shamed if we don't work as hard as we can and as much as we can, when we may be satisfied with what we have? Why should we have to struggle and work ourselves to death if we can have the basics of a decent life without working so much?

          The question of if we can is a separate one.

          "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

          by James Allen on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 12:34:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I like this point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Skaje

            Agree totally, and wish this perspective got a greater hearing in this society.

          •  Work can create positive externalities for society (0+ / 0-)

            through things like the redistribution of tax revenue, I suppose.

            I don't think this is a sufficient justification for forcing everyone to work as hard as possible though.

          •  I would just view work as a creation (0+ / 0-)

            of personal meaning in some fashion. Poiesis is the term for the aesthetics of production, not just of art, but life in general. It reminds me of a really good documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I recommend watching it.

            "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

            by ArkDem14 on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 03:23:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It's really good, I just wouldn't (0+ / 0-)

      argue Paul Ryan and Republican leaders are not consciously manipulating racial signals and stereotypes that appeal to sentiments of white hegemony. Someone should force Ryan to read Philippe Bourgois.

      Bourgois really nails it in  his ethnography In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, which outlines how first, extremely poor minorities, first from the south, then from other countries, were pulled into urban American centers to take low-paying surplus jobs that couldn't effectively (under international economic pressures) afford to compete in the labor market for purely white workers. Then, starting in the 1960s and 1970s, the inner-urban manufacturing, particularly in cities like New York City, collapsed. This left a haughty, blue collar culture, without jobs and forced to take ever lower jobs with less social work space to vent or engage disrespectfully with bosses, etc. In the 1980s, many kids had dropped of high school to work in these factories and make money and earn respect because they earned money. When they lost their jobs, they suddenly had no moeny, no respect from anyone, and had to deal with the frustrations of white prejudice and misunderstandings.

      Bourgois really highlights how many of these people are either driven out of the labor market by such discriminatory social cultures, or by the lack of available jobs altogether, and really provides a good explanation of the crack epidemic.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 03:21:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Along similar lines as the thread above (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bythesea, Skaje

    What are your views on affirmative action? How do you define "affirmative action"? What criteria fall under that term?

    Also, please allow me to shamelessly pimp my diary on this topic for the second and final time.

    24, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

    by kurykh on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 01:07:12 PM PDT

    •  Good diary, btw. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KyleinWA, ProudNewEnglander

      I'd encourage everyone to read this Slate article: http://www.slate.com/...

      Personally, I have the same view as the president.  I strongly oppose racial preferences and strongly support economic preferences.  I highly doubt people are surprised by that.  Affirmative action based on race leads to middle and upper middle class minorities getting helped, while lower class people of all races get hurt, and then colleges get to trumpet their diversity when they're really mostly full of middle to upper class suburbanites.

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 03:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure that I think that is better (0+ / 0-)

        but economic preferences benefit from not posing a constitutional issue that racial preferences do.

        "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

        by James Allen on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 04:37:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I support race-based affirmative action. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Skaje

        For one thing, minorities at any given income level are less likely to maintain that level than whites, which implies systemic disadvantage based on race. For another, the wealth gap is the product of a long and determined effort, implemented through government policy, to transfer wealth from blacks (and other minorities) to whites. And also because there is a societal interest in having more racially diverse institutions.

        If you want to add economic-based affirmative action, I'm all for that - but not at the expense of race-based programs.

        (By the way, is that really Obama's view? That's not the impression I had.)

        •  I don't know if his view is quite as black and (0+ / 0-)

          white (no pun intended) as mine, but he certainly doesn't think it should be based mostly on race.

          http://www.politico.com/...

          Also, you can do affirmative action based off wealth as well as income, which will help the Black applicants who need the help.  That was part of the Slate article I posted.  And I disagree there is any societal interest in racial diversity; that's definitely not a fact by any means but a belief some have and others don't.

          21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
          politicohen.com
          Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
          UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

          by jncca on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 04:53:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know what you mean by "fact" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Skaje

            but it has been empirically shown to be the case that more diverse groups tend to come to better decisions, and tend to be less subject to the perils of groupthink.

            But my main argument would be a moral one: our society is fundamentally wounded after centuries of systematic racial oppression. The legacy of that racism is obviously apparent in any number of measures of social and economic inequality, and it persists in systemic ways to this day (Trayvon Martin, for instance, being an example of the very concrete ways that that systemic racism manifests itself). I say the more we can do make up for that societal debt, the better - and affirmative action would be only a very, very minor step in that direction.

            And frankly, I'm surprised that a liberal would say that our society does not have an interest in having minorities proportionately represented at all levels in society.

            •  I don't see how that's a fundamentally (0+ / 0-)

              liberal value.  I certainly understand the moral argument for it but I am not sure how it is "liberal."

              21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
              politicohen.com
              Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
              UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

              by jncca on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 09:26:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I would regard the celebration of diversity (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Skaje

                and racial justice as core liberal values - almost definitional values. I'm not really sure how to even argue the point any further.

                •  There have been some pretty liberal people who (0+ / 0-)

                  didn't agree.  It all just comes down to your definition of liberalism, which of course is personal preference (after all, liberal really means libertarian or conservative if we go back to its origins).  Plenty of Dixiecrats were plenty liberal when it came to budgetary, tax, pension, or other economic issues.  I don't share their views on race by any means, but I'd certainly still call them liberals.  

                  21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
                  politicohen.com
                  Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
                  UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

                  by jncca on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 11:11:54 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The definition is not just a matter of personal (0+ / 0-)

                    preference. Words have meaning. They're open to interpretation and dispute, but they do mean something.

                    For purposes of the present discussion, support for an inclusive, plural society and opposition to a racist hierarchy have to be high on the list of beliefs that define liberalism. Some (a few?) people support  redistributive economic policies while also being racist, I suppose, but they seem like the exceptions that prove the rule to me, because I doubt many of them do or did identify themselves as liberals, nor do many others define them as such.

                    Are you saying you align your own views with the Dixiecrats? Or do you have other examples of "liberals" who don't believe society has an interest in opposing a racist hierarchy who more closely fit your views?

                    •  No, I'm not a Dixiecrat by any means (0+ / 0-)

                      However, most people running for office aren't asked whether they think diversity is an inherent good so I don't know of people who fit into that mold.  I tend to be skeptical of things being inherently good just because.

                      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
                      politicohen.com
                      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
                      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

                      by jncca on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 11:37:00 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  What is your definition of liberalism? (0+ / 0-)

                  Classical liberalism doesn't see those as core values, I should think.

                  •  Very, very few people in America, here or (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Skaje

                    in the nation more broadly, consider "liberalism" to be classical liberalism.  Liberalism is about a stronger welfare state and a government that provides more social services.  Plenty of people disagree on the details or on what other things are liberal or not liberal, but that's the clear basis 99%+ of liberals probably agree on.

                    21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
                    politicohen.com
                    Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
                    UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

                    by jncca on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 11:33:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  aside from John Stuart Mill. (0+ / 0-)

                    "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

                    by James Allen on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 06:13:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I would argue that belief in pluralism, at least, (0+ / 0-)

                    is something that is supported in most forms of classical liberalism; and that that has evolved over time to entail a general opposition to racism. But I'm talking about political liberalism as it defines left-of-center ideology in the contemporary context. And while I've met liberals who don't support affirmative action, I honestly don't think I've ever met one who wouldn't have agreed with the proposition that society has an interest in eliminating racial inequality.

                    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                      I'm generally politically liberal, and I do agree that society has an interest in eliminating racial inequality. I also think that diversity (of all kinds) is clearly a good thing. However, as I mention below, I'm against race-based affirmative action.

                      (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

                      by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 12:31:33 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, jncca and I agree on something! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Audrid, jncca, Gygaxian

        I would also much prefer economic-based affirmative action to race-based affirmative action, for much the same reason as jncca.

        Because seriously, who needs more help: a rich black kid from Mitchellville, Maryland (average income: $118K) whose parents are lawyers and lobbyists and who went to an elite private school, or a white kid from rural West Virginia whose parents are unemployed coal miners, who lives off of food stamps, and who walked three miles every day to attend a crumbling school?

        (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

        by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:28:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As an addendum (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Audrid

        I see Affirmative Action  like a price floor in economics - because the goal is to keep the least efficient members of the market in business, but for various reasons you can't just reach them directly, you need to set prices far above the level at which the efficient participants will be making a profit. Therefore any scheme of subsidies will see the vast majority(often 90%+) of the money going to those who don't need it in the first place.

        The same is true of Affirmative action. The barriers to entry to education or jobs that genuinely disadvantaged face, with actually being qualified to apply, or even choosing to apply in the first place being prominent among them are so great that if you simply impose a blatant policy of favoring anyone who is African American or Latino, the vast majority of those advantages will go to those who are don't need them anywhere near as much, since those who most benefit from Affirmative Action at University are those who actually apply to Universities in the first place.

        Therefore Affirmative Action based on race is grossly inefficient, and always will be, because the inefficiency is baked into the system. But just as there may be a time and a place for grossly inefficient auto or agricultural subsidies I think there is an argument that the benefits that Affirmative Action provides to some people are so great that it is justified, but only with the understanding that it is a poor mechanism for doing so, and that ideally it should be a temporary one as well.

    •  Fix link (0+ / 0-)

      24, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

      by kurykh on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 05:44:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think I'm developing a philosophy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ArkDem14

    of basically Mormonized Liberation Theology (and with a bunch of social progressivism to boot)

    I feel devoutly that it's not only ethically wrong to mistreat the poor and disadvantaged, but that it's a sin. I could explain further, but I'd just be quoting a bunch of LDS scriptures at everyone, so probably not a good idea.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 04:50:10 PM PDT

    •  Now all you need to do is become the LDS head. (0+ / 0-)
      •  I've been studying Mormons, and (0+ / 0-)

        most people who have been the head of the LDS church have reached that position when they are in their 70s or 80s. While I'm not sure exactly how old Gygaxian is, my guess is that he has many decades before he'll be that old.

        (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

        by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 06:57:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great, he has 50 years to work on it. (0+ / 0-)
        •  They go by seniority of apostle (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Skaje, ArkDem14

          Which means I'll probably have to be at least late 40s (that's how old the current prophet was when he was made an apostle), and then I'll have to wait and hope I have good health and outlive everyone else.

          Of course, becoming an Apostle is entirely on the whims of the prophet/God, so I don't think I'd ever be prophet anyway.

          Also, I'm 20.

          But seriously, I'm not looking to change the church; it'll happen when it happens. I'm just developing my own philosophy within my understanding of my religion. As a side note, the early Mormons were really into pseudo-communistic economics. Up until Utah became a state Mormons were quite lefty economically. They even invented their own welfare system, which survives today as a very successful system (but which conservative Mormons use to bash government welfare).

          Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

          by Gygaxian on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 10:13:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Wait (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gygaxian

      "I feel devoutly that it's not only ethically wrong to mistreat the poor and disadvantaged, but that it's a sin."

      But that is what the Latter Day Saints basically teaches and puts into practice already isn't it? The Church is very willing to help those at disadvantages with help with food, to financial needs, to just helping a neighbor in need with even mowing their lawn if they can't.

      Age 26, conservative Republican, beautiful WA Third district, WA LD-19

      by KyleinWA on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 08:11:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, yes, but I don't see the government as wrong (4+ / 0-)

        to help people with their poverty, as many Mormons do. I see the combined efforts of church AND state helping people far more effectively than just church. My economic views are basically Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren, plus bits and pieces of FDR and Huey Long.

        And many Mormons seem more troubled by gay marriage and abortion. I feel more concerned about the poor, the minority, the disadvantaged.

        Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

        by Gygaxian on Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 10:05:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't need to restart the whole sin taxes thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gygaxian, ArkDem14

    Just thought it amusing that in Colorado, the state's stupid TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) law might compel the state to issue refunds if marijuana generates too much revenue.

    It's a provision in Colorado law that if revenues exceed the numbers listed in the voter information guide, the state just mails everybody refunds (usually a trivial amount...as the article mentions, it could be as low as $10 a person making the whole thing quite wasteful).  Despite a state referendum passing that levied those taxes on marijuana, the revenues might push the overall budget higher than it can legally go because of TABOR.

    So yeah, don't mean to restart the sin taxes discussion, just pointing out yet again how dumb TABOR laws are and how they can lead to wasteful, contradictory results like this.  No surprise that they've been defeated in every other state, even the really conservative ones.

  •  Well I kind of said I would clarify some things (0+ / 0-)

    Vis a vis Ukraine, at least because of some of the very good responses to my comment from last week that I never got to.

    First I'll get some of the articles I've ben collecting out of the way:

    http://www.thewire.com/...

    http://www.theprovince.com/...

    http://www.csmonitor.com/...

    But really, I'd like to maintain some brevity this time.

    Mainly, people kept countering that I was simply buying too much Russian propaganda and that the real situation was like this and this. That was one central line, and it's totally off-base. It's not that I buy the Russian perspective naively; it's that I don't view ours as any better and my Russian Affairs course and various international affairs courses have confirmed that for me deeply (one need to look no further than how the U.S. State Department wrote the news for reporters in El Salvadore and had any American reported who mentioned local belief in U.S. involvement, fired and the story gagged). I view myself as not buying the American propaganda hook line and sinker.

    For instance, I found this WaPo article written by the former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union a good expression of my position:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    President Bill Clinton supported NATO’s bombing of Serbia without U.N. Security Council approval and the expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact countries. Those moves seemed to violate the understanding that the United States would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat from Eastern Europe. The effect on Russians’ trust in the United States was devastating. In 1991, polls indicated that about 80 percent of Russian citizens had a favorable view of the United States; in 1999, nearly the same percentage had an unfavorable view.

    Vladi­mir Putin was elected in 2000 and initially followed a pro-Western orientation. When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, he was the first foreign leader to call and offer support. He cooperated with the United States when it invaded Afghanistan, and he voluntarily removed Russian bases from Cuba and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.

    What did he get in return? Some meaningless praise from President George W. Bush, who then delivered the diplomatic equivalent of swift kicks to the groin: further expansion of NATO in the Baltics and the Balkans, and plans for American bases there; withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; invasion of Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval; overt participation in the “color revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; and then, probing some of the firmest red lines any Russian leader would draw, talk of taking Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Americans, heritors of the Monroe Doctrine, should have understood that Russia would be hypersensitive to foreign-dominated military alliances approaching or touching its borders.

    My point has been, in so many passionate arguments with the folks here, has been that if I were Russian, I would oppose Putin's actions. I'm not Russian though, and I don't have a stake in this. Not in terms of it crossing boundaries of international law (I believe it doesn't due to the situation of Ukraine's government), and certainly not in terms of Russia pursuing its own vested interests. In other words, I have no opinion that I have a right to express, and won't portend to lecture other countries on their own agendas in relation to problems largely festered by Americans over the past 2 decades, and for very little reason other than the single-minded pursuit of hegemonic American authority, rather than strategic American authority.

    As for Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, I never called him a far-right politician or asserted that he was affiliated with fringe militia groups. His government, owever, is based on an unacceptable alliance of convenience with such groups, and relied on para-constitutional means and through violent protests spearheaded by far right militia groups, with what appears to be blatant American and Western support. While he backed down on his anti-Russian language initiative after it caused a shitfest, it remains that the Maidan ignored brokered agreements they signed to include Pro-Russian parties in the government.

    I feel like American foreign policy has no strategic interest here and no right to be involved here. All this stupefying hypocrisy does is drive Russia away from the actually important foreign policy issues of Syria and Iran where Russia is an extremely vital partner. And for what? I can't even understand what kind of brownie points the State Department and Obama thinks they are getting with all their strongly worded rhetoric and threats, as if such things won't further inflame Russian popular sentiment against the U.S. and help Putin rally support, while actually hurting the major geopolitical and humanitarian issues we need to be dealing with.

    It's more instructive to understand why Russia is doing this, and to understand that it wasn't a whimsical move. It was the result of long-building frustrations and irritations with American hypocrisy and lecturing (including the legislation targetting various Russian figures with travel bans, which was followed by Russia banning Americans from adopting from Russian oprhanages), and a long stream of antagonisms that finally pushed Russia to the point where they put their foot down and worked to protect a strategically important area from being subsumed by an illegitimate government that they, one, couldn't trust, and two, was dependent on Western powers.

    It frankly doesn't matter whether we personally find this the smartest choice among the presented options (though it was perhaps the most politically expedient choice for Putin). Ukraine was wrong to start with for initially refusing to allow or recognize a democratic referendum in Crimea to join Russia given the long-standing tensions Eastern Ukraine has had with western Ukraine, since rising nationalism propelled Yuschenko into power in 2004 (it seems he likely faked his own poisoning to gain political points, having dioxin added to his blood afterwards, something one investigative commission speculative was done by the U.S. intelligence services). A rising nationalism, I might add, that is very closely tied with anti-Russianism and historical narratives highlighting the Holodomor and among the burgeoning right-wing nationalist groups, something that takes on a distinctly anti-Semetic tone.

    But, it appears that Ukraine understands it's weak position, and this week we've mostly seen both sides stalling and Ukraine starting to make partial concessions or at least opening the door to them, particularly in federalizing and decentralizing to give many of the eastern provinces much greater authority and autonomy.

    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

    by ArkDem14 on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 03:13:54 PM PDT

    •  you'd like to maintain some brevity? (0+ / 0-)

      "I join Justice Ginsburg's dissent in full." - Clarence Thomas in Philip Morris USA v. Williams

      by James Allen on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 03:23:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I failed miserably. (0+ / 0-)

        "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

        by ArkDem14 on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 03:29:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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