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Member since: 2001
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Hunter Biden and His Laptop

His first traumatic brain injury happened when he was two years old, in the car accident that killed his mother and his sister, and smashed up his older brother as well as himself.

It wasn't a wealthy family but they were prosperous enough not to worry about private school tuition and the necessities of life. But being a Biden came with expectations, strong ones. The Catholic upbringing. Ethics, and service to others. His Dad's work in government set a high bar for public service. His older brother's academic, public service, military and political successes came in a seemingly unbroken string of achievement.

I wonder, though, what all those expectations, and the residue of that childhood trauma, did to Hunter Biden. I wonder if at any time when he was working to get the grades and make the entrance requirements for Georgetown, if he ever thought "What else might I be doing? Are there other options for me? Is there anything I'm passionate about, other than making good by the standards of my loving family?"

Georgetown isn't one of the big "Party Schools" but it is likely that his problems with substance abuse began there. His fortune/misfortune is to have been born to a family with the expectation that they will look after one another, and the means to do so. When he seemed to 'need help' it was gotten for him, in short order.

Which kept him afloat. Which gave him chance after chance. He graduated Georgetown. He got a law degree from Yale. While it's unlikely those diplomas were wholly unearned, had he been the son of an unknown insurance broker of modest means, would he have made it all the way? Certainly he had the potential - intelligent, curious, creative enough to be interested and intrigued by new things. I'd be willing to bet, though, that he had a pattern of starting out really well, and then getting distracted, bored, or demotivated, and either abandoning or just scraping through on completing stuff.

Still, it was enough. Having an older brother successfully launched in State politics and a father in the U.S. Senate, he never had to worry about prestigious job opportunities. The name "Biden" did it all, a fact of which he was undoubtedly conscious, and possibly humiliated by. Had he not had that little problem with crack cocaine, alcohol, etcetera, the Biden name probably would have propelled him almost anywhere - but maybe not anywhere he really wanted to go.

His resume of lobbyist, board member, consultant, reveals a pattern. He was on the masthead, and he was a communication channel. Was he ever more than superficially interested in the actual businesses, their aims and goals? Did he ever get a sense of satisfaction or achievement from having accomplished something for a client or helped a business build something worthwhile?

Someone raised to believe that work and service should do good things, should make the world a better place. Someone also raised to be successful, to carry out activities of note, to shine in the public eye. Someone with deep childhood traumas and an escalating substance abuse disorder. In close proximity to money, power, and influence, on the international stage.

Yeah, there's likely to be some ugly stuff to drag out.

Yeah, Hunter's family probably did more than they should to enable him not to fail catastrophically during some crucial years.

But here are some other things to consider:

1. I would bet large money that none of Hunter's family's enabling stretched as far as "illegal" or even "unethical" in the public sense. That doesn't mean they didn't talk people into giving him chances he probably shouldn't have gotten, or found ways to minimize or amend harm done. They probably yanked him back from the brink a good many times. But breaking laws or engaging in deceitful, unethical things that would have done great harm to others? I'm betting NOT, no matter how the MAGAts try to spin it.

2. In spite of all that enabling, Hunter has clearly reached some level of self-knowledge that is allowing him to work at recovery and change. Will he relapse again? Possibly, that's how the disease works. But he has a better-than-average chance of continuing a recovery trajectory, and part of that will be getting more help to deal with the effects of traumatic brain injury and his long bouts with substances. Part of it will be learning what's best for HIM, apart from family history, the expectations he internalized, and the lucratively successful failures of his past. Who knows what directions the creativity he seems to be finding will lead?

3. If the chaotic, messy trajectory of his years in active addiction includes any real crime or corruption --as it well might-- he will pay a price, and it may or may not be a reasonable, proportionate price. The privilege of being Joe Biden's son has two edges, and one of them is that his sins WILL be judged with the greatest attention and scrutiny of the public eye and a very hostile lynch mob baying on the sidelines.

If Hunter Biden's early life had been similar but his father had been a politically influential and well-connected banker who'd never held elected office, his personal and professional trajectory might have been very much the same. But it would have been a private, family tragedy, a personal struggle, and the consequences of any crimes or misdemeanors would be worked out without the roar of public conflict and the distorting lens of partisanship on either side.

So here's what I think: Whatever solid thread of fact there is in the trove of rumor, innuendo, conspiracy-mongering, emails, documents, and laptop files, THAT thread will be acknowledged and appropriately dealt with, as impartially as possible, by the Biden family. Beyond that, they will do nothing to add credibility, fuel, or attention to a politically-motivated shit show orchestrated by authoritarian wannabes.

Nor will the Bidens play the "tu quoque" game, pointing out the myriad corruptions and visibly flaunted crimes committed by family members of [Redacted]. Democratic leadership will take a similar line, though of course, Democrats being Democrats, there will be plenty of kibitzing from Party rank and file.

And in the long run, in spite of the painful endurance required, this will result in a net gain for the Bidens, and a net loss for the GOP, as everyone who isn't already a cult member perceives the difference between who the Bidens are, and what the GOP is. Add in the complete lack of any tangible accomplishment that a GOP House will be able to deliver while it's lost in the clown show, and they will not be happy campers by the time November of 2024 rolls around.

So please, my DU friends and colleagues, try to keep a sense of that bigger picture. Add as little as possible to the frothing scum. The Bidens will deal with this family tragedy as they have dealt with every other family tragedy: Appropriately, with dignity, continuing their best efforts to do right and serve the public all the while.

The best thing we can do is remain confident in them, and refrain from feeding trolls.


The Next Gift From Nancy Pelosi to America (and the Democratic Party)

She's stepping down from the elected leadership positions in the House Democratic caucus, and of course she'll be missed there.

But once again, she's laser-focused on how and where she can have the MOST impact for the Democratic Party, and the future of America.

She knows that remaining in a formal leadership position would turbo-charge the Magaloon wing of the House GOP in efforts to demonstrate that they are "punishing" Nancy Pelosi, whom they've inflated into an Evile Genius at the root of all that's wrong with government and Amurka.

She also knows that Democrats have to be in this for the long haul, a sustained effort to retain key influence and controls over several election cycles - and that means developing the next generation of leadership and deepening the bench as the pols of her generation begin retiring from the Democratic ranks.

So this is her gift: Quietly, she's relocating from the "Speaker of the House" office, to the unmarked "Éminence grise" office.

You can bet that within a few weeks there'll be a well-worn track in the carpet to that door, as Representative Pelosi is sought for advice on how to accomplish this or that difficult committee task, counter this or that GOP maneuver, check this or that GOPpie leader's mad rush to the Pit of Legislative Lunacy, etc. Generously, as ever, she'll provide the information and advice requested.

No fingerprints will ever appear. But her ongoing work will remain critical to the new Democratic minority's effectiveness in preventing worst-case scenarios and setting up the GOP for massive losses in 2024.

Thank you, Representative Pelosi. You do us proud, as always.


To every DUer who is serving, or has served, in the U.S. military in any branch - THANK YOU.

Whatever ideological or political issues I may have with how our armed forces are deployed and the policies that dictate their activities, the actual women and men who make the choice to give a key part of their lives to the training, discipline, and sacrifice of that service merit the gratitude of all Americans.

Your willingness to serve, your investment in training and learning, your discipline and professionalism help to keep us safe, and give our leaders a reserve of strength in a difficult and sometimes chaotic geopolitical situation.

You took an oath to defend our Constitution, and were ready to put your lives on the line to carry out that oath. Some of you have paid dearly to keep that oath. Some have given everything, and to you and your families I will always be grateful, and always stand with you for the promises we citizens made to you.

I pledge to continue expressing my support for improvements in the pay and working conditions of all active service members, including the right to be free from any form of harassment or discrimination. I pledge to continue supporting our government's obligations to you in providing health care, education, family support, pensions and all other benefits you have been promised.

Thank you for standing strong. You are awesome, and I am grateful.


Desperation: GOP Escalates from Zone-Flooding to Signal Jamming

"Flooding the Zone" has long been a recognized propaganda technique. To "flood a zone" is to pump out multiple, constant streams of items into every communication channel - opinion pieces, letters to the editor, news releases, announcements, advertisements, interviews, analysis, summaries of all descriptions in all types of media.

In the old days this was newspapers, radio, television, outdoor advertising, mass mailing, and eventually robocalling. With the advent of the Internet, additional channels and media opened up for flooding - podcasts, social media, websites, streaming services, etc.

By "flooding the zone" propagandists achieve several goals - they overwhelm the channels that would otherwise carry communications from a variety of sources with similarly varying content with their own material. Successfully doing this often involves using proxies, subverting gatekeepers, etc., so that the flood appears a natural outcome of legitimate concern from many sources, rather than a targeted propaganda barrage. This interferes with information consumers' conscious or unconscious perceptions of importance and rankings of issues, and often 'overwrites' immediate and short-term memory of conflicting information/events/etc.

The GOP has been skillfully and successfully zone-flooding for nearly three decades.

They have to do this, as a combination of demographic realities, lack of accomplishments or ideas, and their own natural hostility to change is in the process of dooming them to permanent electoral irrelevance.

Every election, every year, even every news cycle, they have to increase the volume and intensity of the flood, to survive.

But recently they have escalated to a next-level tactic: Signal Jamming. Not a literal frequency jam, but the employment of vast amounts of noise on every conceivable channel, to degrade the signal/noise ratio beyond any useful carrying capacity.

Zone-flooding requires providing actual content with some minimal level of coherence and/or coordination in service of a specific propaganda goal or agenda. Signal jamming requires only noise, large quantities of it, with no requirements as to coherence or even comprehensible content. The signal jammer doesn't even need to use proxies or subvert sources, only to prevent any kind of frequency modulation or content moderation that would filter out noise. And to constantly escalate both the volume (both flow volume and auditory volume) and the number of source points for the noise.

In addition to the kind of 'blind spot induction' that zone flooding produces, signal jamming induces another level of interference with information consumers' brain function. Long-term exposure to loud, meaningless noise from multiple sources overwhelms the auditory processing centers of the brain. Long-term exposure to signal jamming has similar effects on the brain's ability to process information.

Overwhelming the brain's ability to process information has many secondary effects, including fatigue and depression.

When better to "peak" this effect than in the week before an election they cannot possibly win without massive efforts to suppress voting?

And that's the way it is, Friday, November 4th, 2022.


We Need to Organize a Winter Relief Campaign for Ukraine

With so much of their infrastructure in ruins, the ordinary people of Ukraine will face horrific suffering as winter hits and they have limited to no power, heating, clean water, shelter, etc.

Citizens of America can help, but we need an organized Winter Relief effort to coordinate the efforts. Is anyone doing this yet? Does anyone know of a centralized, non-governmental source that has set up the infrastructure to:

*Communicate with sources on the ground in Ukraine to identify the most acute needs and the places most in need
*Set up the receipt of cash donations, provide documentation, and communicate about prioritizing cash efforts
*Set up the receipt of non-cash donations, including depots to receive winter clothing, supplies, etc. on both small and large scales
*Solicit and train volunteers to sort and prep shipments for relief material and coordinate those activities
*Solicit contributions of logistical and transport assistance, and coordinate the Relief deliveries with other NGO and government aid
*Work with Ukrainian sources on the ground for "last leg" logistical coordination of transport and delivery
*Work with businesses to generate in-kind services to provide relief, logistics, transport, and support
*Work with community-based organizations to coordinate locally-based efforts from groups, churches, etc.
*Provide communications and public relations on digital and other media to track efforts, solicit for special needs, etc.

This is not a small undertaking. But even a few moments' thought about what the people of Ukraine will be facing in the months to come as they maintain their valiant defense of their homes should make the absolute necessity clear.

Think about a hospital or a local emergency clinic trying to help with limited generator power and much of their supply inventory buried in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

Think about parents trying to ensure children have warm clothing in their size, and sufficient food for cold-stressed bodies, in unheated apartments with only limited hours of power availability.

Think about schools trying to maintain some kind of learning and protection for students without supplies, heat, etc.

Think about local people trying to clean up the rubble of destroyed sites, create emergency shelters, triage the sick and wounded, evacuate the most vulnerable, without much in the way of tools, protective gear, etc.

Think about people in destroyed areas trying to stay in touch, locate the missing, and rebuild without wifi boosters, generators, and communications necessities.

We have to do this. If anyone here on DU is aware of some organization or group working to make this happen, can we link up with them? Coordinate efforts here on DU to communicate, solicit for special needs, etc.? Maybe create a Group here on DU to promote and track Winter Relief efforts?

People of Ukraine are doing the heavy lifiting to build a better future, not just for themselves and their children, but for a WORLD that needs the inspiration of resistance to tyranny, and the power of community self-determination. The least we can do is help as best we can.

Slava Ukraini!


The Theater of Madness: America's Time-Travel

About 350 hundred years ago, an institution named "Bethlem Royal Hospital", established in 1247 in the Bishopsgate district of London as a kind of general-purpose charity to collect alms and provide care for "the poor and needy", was moved to Moorfields, where it could expand, and focus specifically on hospital care for the destitute. While Bethlem always provided some medical assistance (of whatever sort was available) to the poor, it won its fame, and a new name, by focusing more specifically on caring for those afflicted with mental illness. It was a madhouse.

And it became known as "Bedlam".

In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was also a tourist attraction.

An entertainment venue.

Guidebooks to London urged visitors not to miss this stop among the metropolis' points of interest. Admission was free, but for a fee, visitors could take a conducted tour to view the denizens in their cells, and shudder or mock the sufferers, who were encouraged to "perform" for them. Donations were solicited, monetizing the misery of the inmates.

It was to a patient's benefit to exhibit the more extreme symptoms of their illnesses, as those who attracted the most attention might be provided with somewhat better conditions and care, and occasionally earned tips which could buy them small comforts - if those were not stolen and sold by the keepers.

And so the inmates gibbered, and cursed, and strutted, and spoke the inner scripts of their despair and rage, or cowered and whimpered, pointing at what only they could see. Some exchanged mocking or rageful banter with the tourists - those were very popular. The ones who threw their own feces, visitors were warned to stand back from, to avoid the splatter.

Even locals, non-tourists, regarded a visit to Bedlam as a form of entertainment on a par with attending a public hanging or a bull-baiting. Fun city. Suffering and cruelty on display for the amusement of the more fortunate.

And an occasional moral lesson, of course, but those were mere window-dressing. Or "explanations" for the suffering - the "wages of sin" coming justly home to punish the guilty. That was nice, for the spectators, who could luxuriate in the evidence of their own virtue and superiority.

As the 18th century progressed, the "Age of Enlightenment" began shifting some social and cultural perspectives. Attempts were made to address the pain and suffering of the unfortunate from the humanist perspective and "there but for the grace of God" was even occasionally heard. Humankind was attempting to evolve past the bestial Social Darwinism that provided so much entertainment for so many.

Attempts were made to evolve more compassionate care and treatment for the mentally ill. In some private "madhouses" the regimen was surprisingly enlightened, in those pre-pharmaceutical, pre-EST days. "Fresh air and quiet" was a popular regimen, with "natural surroundings" and gardens featured as amenities in the better sort of asylum.

The leering, pointing, shuddering visitors were a thing of the past by the mid-19th century, although standards of care for the destitute afflicted with mental illness hadn't significantly improved. By the end of the Victorian era and the coming of the 20th century the social imperative for dealing with acute mental illness aspired to regard them with compassion and provide custodial care in privacy wherever possible.

That seems to have been a peak, from which we've abruptly descended.

Now, those afflicted with mental illness are monetized by the media, who provide them with platforms that offer a modern version of the cells of Bedlam, attracting clicks and shares, likes and comments and advertising revenue. The most popular performers are co-opted and even normalized by those seeking the support and sanction of the growing number of Americans suffering from the effects of decades of dark propagandizing, economic insecurity, and their own xenophobias.

I don't know who set America's Tardis for the mid-seventeenth century. I just hope that a new Age of Enlightenment helps us recover before our democracy, our economy, and the ability of our planet to sustain life have been obliterated by the obscene pleasures of madness-watching.


How We Got Here, Why It's So Hard to Fix

Our government was constructed from a blueprint - our Constitution. The basis of that plan, and the thing that differentiated it from the monarchy-evolving-into-parliamentary-system government it replaced, was to equally apportion power and influence to all citizens (at that time, white male property owners) without regard to privileging factors of family descent, wealth, and religious conformity that had determined power and influence in England.

Flawed as the white-male-property-owner (WMPO) citizenship basis was, the equal apportionment of power to all citizens was truly revolutionary. Yes, the WMPO had to "own property", but the comparatively poor holder of a small homestead was guaranteed the exact same access to power and influence in the new government - via their VOTE - as the wealthy owner of vast properties. Yeah, they stacked the deck for slave owners with that bogus "3/5 of a person" thing - that's the "equity flaw". The "equality principle" was still transformational, even with the "equity flaw".)

Confused about the difference between "equality" and "equity"?

We have been lucky so far. Almost every major change to the Constitution has focused on a) strengthening the equality principle and/or b) correcting the equity flaw.

Today's Democrats and Progressives focus on this, partly from a belief in the fundamental importance of justice. More practically, we know only the combined efforts of ALL of us, fully empowered and with full access to all opportunities, can build a sustainable economic and social structure that will support a large, diverse population and succeed in meeting the existential challenges of our time.

But something's definitely gone wrong. Our government has degraded in many important ways. Everything from a tax code that privileges billionaires to a whole branch of government that has disequalized more than half the citizenry. How did this happen?

Was it a long-planned conspiracy by a small cabal of evil super-powers in the shadows, pulling strings and manipulating puppets?

Ummm, no... that's their shtick, not ours.

Right from the beginning, there were two "cracks" built into our self-governance.

Remember the basis for the "equality principle"? That all rested on the definition of citizenry - who that principle applied to. When we look at it, we see the goal as being to ensure equality, and expand who it applies to, by increasing equity. We believe the very purpose of the Constitution is to provide a framework for that expansion, toward a 'more perfect Union' where all human beings under our Constitution's jurisdiction share the same fundamental rights, and citizenship is afforded to all who are willing to commit to fulfilling its obligations.

There is, however (and has been, since the beginning) another view of the equality principle, based on a view of "citizen" shaped by those who were originally privileged in the Constitution. Reading the document their way, the mission of government is not to build a broad commons held in equity, but to protect the rights of citizens in a zero-sum polity. Historically, this belief is held by a minority, with the extent of its support waxing and waning based on perceptions of threat and socioeconomic conditions.

This legitimate difference in Constitutional interpretation is one of the built-in "cracks" in the foundation of our self-governance. And it has been exploited to create the "culture wars" of our era, far beyond legitimate differences in perception and interpretation based on the second "crack".

This one is built into human nature and exacerbated by our social culture. We'll never be without people who seek power and influence greater than the system entitles them to, or their natural endowments merit. A well-designed system includes fail-safes to limit opportunities for the acquisition of illegitimate power and influence.

But America has always had a near-religious reverence for wealth. Lacking a built-in hierarchy of aristocracy, we create in informal hierarchy of wealth, fed by a mythological sense of "opportunity" available to all. Wealth becomes equated with all kinds of superior character traits from intelligence to self-discipline to ingenuity and drive. Recently, evangelical Christianist sects have even equated it with virtue itself, divinely anointed with monetary success.

Our Constitution did NOT privilege wealth as a path to power, in fact, it explicitly denied that privilege in the "one person, one vote" principle of equality.

But the wealth-worship nurtured in our culture (with encouragement, naturally, from those who have accumulated wealth themselves) created another "crack": The deeply toxic delusion that in America, anyone COULD be wealthy, if they worked hard and/or got lucky - and "the system didn't punish them by taxing it away". This delusion is exploited to subvert those who are not, and almost certainly never will be, wealthy, to support the agenda of those who have already accumulated wealth.

And that agenda, naturally enough, is to acquire sufficient political power to put a "thumb on the scales" to protect their wealth and the means of acquiring more. Which will enable them to use that wealth to amass MORE political power to protect more of their wealth and more ways to keep acquiring it - however toxic, damaging, and exploitive that process may be, however greatly it increases an economic inequity that is eating away at the very structure of our freedom, our self-governance, and the ability of our planet to sustain life.

But this isn't a cabal or a conspiracy. Forget Bretton Woods or Davos or Bohemian Grove - sure those are where the elites meet to suck feet, but they don't actually "control" anything and they have no more ability to lay deep, complicated, multi-generational plots and carry them out than any other bunch of self-interested short-term thinkers. No, they're just individuals making choices, day by day, to protect themselves, and to build support for their agendas. They do share large chunks of their agendas with other rich and super-rich people, but that doesn't mean they're always working together, or taking orders from each other.

And their natural choice, over many, many decades, has been to strengthen the Republican Party, where there is fertile ground to support their agenda. The "protect citizenship privileges in a zero-sum game" mindset that interprets the Constitution as the tool of a natural elite of thinkers and super-capable people who strongly resemble the WMPO "Founders" just happens to potentiate agendas based on the individual right to get mine at the expense of your well-being. The fear-based POV inherent in zero-sum game theory and the "othering" of those who aren't part of the "people like us" who should be protected and privileged made it easy to exploit the "Someday I'll get lucky and then I don't want the Gummint to take it away and give it to brown people" mindset.

As soon as they had some successes, they built on them. Citizens United was a huge success, but it wasn't the result of a shadowy conspiracy. Just lots of money-fueled work exploiting culture-war issues and the inherent vulnerability of an opposition committed to both equality and equity, unwilling to distort equal protections and limit freedoms in the cause of protecting and restoring justice to those most disempowered.

Citizens United hammered a wedge into the wealth-related crack. More money is exerting more power in the sphere the Founders explicitly wanted it excluded from, and using that power to perpetuate and increase its control of the system.

There is no one Evil Genius we can take down to fix this. Not even a "League of Villains" meeting on a private island somewhere. For all their gaudy self-indulgence and florid monkey-wrenching of particular bits of the economy, even the exemplars of a young generation of fragile, amoral billionaires are just acting from self-interest. It's their outsize wealth and the sycophantic cooperation of the GOP that allows them to do so much damage.

Fighting our way out of this is going to take generations, and involve some long, difficult fights about free speech, economic structure, maybe even Constitutional amendments - none of that is easy.

Fortunately, the balance is beginning to tip.

And in the end, if you look back at our Constitutional history, the truth remains: Almost every major change to the Constitution has focused on a) strengthening the equality principle and/or b) correcting the equity flaw.

We will prevail.


I plan on wearing my pussy hat to the polls this year.

It has no lettering on it, no slogans, no pictures. It's just a knitted cap with pointy corners.

It's not red or blue. It's pink.

I wonder if I'll be the only one wearing one?


Coyote Greg and Coyote Ron may not get the cess they're hoping for from their cruelty...

How Democrats Can Turn the Tables on DeSantis

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, the Republican governors of Florida and Texas, respectively, have exploited thousands of migrants by busing and flying them to New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Martha’s Vineyard, off Massachusetts. The idea is simple: Make the Democrats deal with the border crisis and prove they’re all hypocrites, human rights be damned.

As a matter of optics, it’s not yet clear who has emerged ahead. Martha’s Vineyard, rather than the large cities, captured the public imagination in the past week. Indeed, the crisis didn’t become a crisis until DeSantis picked as a destination an island retreat for the ultra-wealthy. In that sense, Democrats did fall for the immoral stunt. They cared more about Edgartown than Midtown. Lis Smith, a prominent Democratic strategist, tweeted, “Trap laid, bait taken, right wing gets their headline” with a picture of a New York Post front page that declared, “Liberals Deport Migrants.” The conservative newspaper accused “rich Dems” of hypocrisy because they’d sent the migrants to a military base on Cape Cod, where they could be provided temporary shelter and humanitarian aid. Of course, many Martha’s Vineyard residents embraced the migrants. That part of the conservative narrative—of snooty white liberals cowering in horror—was simply untrue.

But the Democrats have an opportunity here. Rather than lament yet another disingenuous culture war that Republicans are thirsty to wage, Democrats of all ideological stripes should use this moment to celebrate the very places that could become permanent homes for migrants fleeing violence and economic calamity. Since the pandemic-induced crime spike, Trump Republicans have inveighed against big cities, taking up an incendiary and racially coded 20th-century playbook to throw Democrats on the defensive. Few prominent Democrats have offered an adequate counterargument. Now political leaders who care about immigrants should declare, affirmatively and loudly, Yes, send them here.


If the Biden administration wants to get ambitious about reviving the ailing cities of the Rust Belt, federal officials could actively help migrants relocate there. The federal government could coordinate with mayors and governors ahead of time, instead of busing migrants without warning to politically expedient locales, like DeSantis and Abbott did. Cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis have long bled residents and would be well served with a new class of immigrants enthusiastic about finding work and wanting to remain in a country far more stable than their homeland. Refugees, in great enough numbers, could begin to repopulate vacant neighborhoods, launch new businesses, and eventually create new generations of taxpayers. Some may even decide they want, in the years to come, to move to Florida or Texas. Perhaps by then, the governors of those states will perceive them, simply, as Americans.

Something I've been saying all along. This family realized they were at risk of horrible suffering and death staying where they are. So they grab only the essentials and, determined and persistent, cross multiple borders, risk all kinds of peril, looking out for each other all the way, to get to a land of "opportunity"? Where they can be safe, build a future for themselves, raise their kids to have a better life?

Well, these are Americans, then. They're the kind of neighbors I want.

A two-pronged approach of opening the lemonade tap here at home, and working diligently to help other nations in our hemisphere build stability, prosperity, and functional, participatory governance will end the "immigration problem" within a couple of generations. Which is actually pretty fast, in sociocultural terms.

And Coyote Greg and Coyote Ron can rot in the dustbin of history along with the other tyrants, grifters and mass murderers.


When the dust settles in Ukraine

Zelenskiiy, the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian military have said from the day the Russian invasion began, that it will be over when every bit of Ukrainian territory is free of Russian control. Some, even knowledgeable political and military analysts, assumed that was a negotiating tactic, propaganda for domestic morale, etc., and that ultimately Ukraine and Russia would negotiate an end to hostilities that would leave Russia in control of some part of Ukraine.

It now seems more likely that a) It will be over when every bit of Ukrainian territory is free of Russian control; and b) that may happen a lot sooner than the knowledgeable military and global geopolitical analysts imagined it could be accomplished.

Slava Ukraini, indeed.

So the world better begin planning now, for the aftermath of this war.

The rebuilding of Ukraine is the most obvious challenge. They have been literally bombed back to the Stone Age in large parts of their Eastern territory. Population has been massively displaced, almost all resources will be depleted, agricultural production capacity substantially diminished, infrastructure destroyed and/or seriously degraded, and economic and social capabilities across all sectors significantly reduced.

The Ukraine government, to the extent it can spare capacity right now to think and plan ahead for the massive rebuilding that will be required, has signaled a desire to reconstruct as a "green state" - implementing environmental reconstruction and building stewardship and sustainability into everything from infrastructure to economic development. This is an important goal, but without support from the rest of the world its achievement could be delayed or even denied in some respects.

Those parts of the world that value principles of human progress, civilization, and cooperative/collaborative models of geopolitical interaction have promised help to Ukraine, and that's wonderful. However, as anyone who's ever run a disaster reconstruction effort knows, there's meaningful assistance with regard to the needs, situation and future well-being and sustainability of what's under reconstruction, and then there's truckloads of surplus and unwanted junk landing on top of you, messing up your logistics and requiring a lot of insincere thanks and appreciation for the donors' noble sacrifices.

If we want Ukraine to become an anchor for positive progress in a key region, we need to be prepared with the first kind of help, and very generously. And while it may look like an expensive and possibly risky investment, it will pay off much bigger in the long term. If Ukraine is able to develop and pilot new technologies that the rest of the world can build on as we all address climate change together, it'll be a win-all-around.

Then there's the other challenge: Post-Putin Russia

It's just a guess, but an additional agenda for Bill Richardson's recent very low-key diplomatic visit to Moscow was as much to scope out the potential players in a post-Putin Russia as to negotiate specific hostage resolutions. As a good many analysts have pointed out, the Putin-precipitated collapse of Russia into a mid-tier nation in global power and influence still leaves them with "spoiler" capability in the form of their enormous nuclear arsenal, U.N. veto, and positional value as a client state and resource pipeline for China.

And that's just how they'll end up, if whatever leadership remains in Russia continues to be oriented toward a kleptocratic oligarchy. It's an Awful Warning of what happens when a nation's leadership values kleptocracy, via strongman autocracy, direct oligarchy, or a weak autocrat fronting for an oligarchy. Russia should be making every kleptocracy-enabling nation with any remnant of a broader self-governance structure seriously rethink the risks and costs of their downhill slides, based on that vivid, technicolor Object Lesson.

Whether any kind of assistance could help Russia pull back from its own depths of kleptocratic degradation and reshape itself with a government focused on building a functional, broad-based economy with broadly-distributed benefits and a robust middle class, I don't know. They're pretty far gone. Stubbornness and resilience cut both ways, in pushing through or avoiding difficult change.

I think it's worth a try. In low-key ways. There may be cracks in the facade that honest, well-crafted offers of assistance might hammer some wedges into. If any leadership remains with the potential to work toward a vision of a genuinely strong Russia with a broadly-based, sustainable economy producing population-wide benefits and building increasingly-robust self-governance into their future, we should be finding them and providing them with some help.

None of this will be easy.

But it's essential, if we want to keep this planet habitable for our grandchildren.

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