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  • Political Theatre
    remain free will be national heroes And they will have done it all themselves a few brave men against an army of villains and monsters Daniel Ward 1 note Permalink Posted at 5 25 PM Tagged crimea ukraine Russia pan russian ism Vladimir Putin Cold War mexico Texas slavery gold rush oil natural gas politics Don t Mess With Crimea May 08 Going To Extremes France went Left and Greece went Right Well not exactly but that s the short of it for short attention span writers breaking it down for what they hope are short attention span readers The truth as always is more complicated and complicated doesn t sell product The French did vote to go Left but only by comparison with the Right of Le Sarkozy which leaves a lot of territory to cover before anybody sees the second coming of the guillotine Francois Hollande is a Socialist but he is not necessarily a socialist He comes from the same background as Sarkozy shares many of the same friends and will keep many of the same policies However much he talks about revising the economic deal Sarkozy made with Angela Merkel he ll have as much luck as Obama would have if he tried to revise NAFTA and Hollande knows this It will be one of those campaign promises he made but had to know he wouldn t get to keep and he ll be fine with it What that means is that other achievable campaign promises such as taxing the rich and withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year will get priority While some might call these measures socialist they are far more pragmatic than anything else The Greeks did vote to go Right way to the Right but they also voted way Left What they really did was vote for anyone promising to end Austerity Fever The romantic notion of right wing economics that you can and should starve the beast into submission has done nothing but put the weight of the economic crisis on the backs of the lowering classes Like the French they gave austerity a good faith effort and also like the French they ve had their fill of rich people telling them how important it is not to spend money The Greeks feel with a lot of justification that they are powerless in a larger Europe The bigger more powerful centrally located economies led by Germany s Merkel have run roughshod over the lesser countries on the fringes and have dictated changes rather than offering help as equal partners A partnership of equals is something a federation such as the European Union is supposed to promise but that too is a promise made to be broken Hyper nationalists always get a little more attention when times get tough and they actually win when voters are made to feel powerless by careless short sighted foreign politicians Will Greece leave the E U Probably not Unfortunately for them though

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  • Political Theatre
    hopeful sooner The slow trickle brutality demonstrated by Assad had been with a few interruptions sadly normal for his regime By drawing attention to it and to Assad personally Obama and other world leaders have not weakened Assad s grip by encouraging those he has been abusing but merely ensured that he tightens it If the United States and the European Union or NATO their military surrogate were able to intervene on behalf of the Syrian people the Syrian people might be impressed They can t and undoubtedly whatever encouragement the Syrians feel right now is coming mostly from watching their countrymen s resilience in the face of Assad s cruelty And that s as it should be What no one ever sees and what no news organization covers are the high level talks between the United States and European governments which basically boil down to You go first To criticize and do nothing makes you look weak to condemn and do nothing makes you look even worse Prestige is the currency of diplomacy so the diplomats hold onto it like misers Obama in calling for Assad to step down committed the diplomatic currency of the United States to removing Assad from power This you may recall was the same diplomatic commitment that involved the United States in Libya where the rebel government which the United States committed itself to on the same day it committed to ousting Assad is poised to oust Muammar Gaddafi and or turn on itself It is also for yo history buffs that same commitment that led to at least one World War They say the most dangerous situations for police officers involve domestic violence The presence of the officer brings unwanted attention to the abuser both from an outside world that may have seen

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  • Political Theatre
    coupled with massive increases in Cold War military spending Clinton helped by an end to the Cold War was already cutting back on spending but Gingrich thought he smelled blood in the water and overreached Gingrich played the debt ceiling card again Clinton refused to blink The resulting government shutdown was an embarrassment to both parties Clinton suffered at first but he had a year to recover from the crisis a year to change American s perception of who he was and what role he played in causing the crisis Clinton as we all know was and remains a very good campaigner It was Gingrich and the congressional Republicans who suffered greater long term damage They not Clinton were seen as both the instigators of the crisis and the ones who kept it from being resolved quickly and quietly Clinton was reelected Gingrich was branded a cry baby and the American people were left holding the bill Gingrich survived the 1996 election barely He remained Speaker but mostly because to replace him so quickly would have been a greater embarrassment to the Republicans than keeping him He held the title but he had been effectively neutered Will today s Republicans heed Gingrich s warning A better question is probably Will they even listen to it His own experience so similar to John Boehner s would seem to make his advice here indispensable And yet it has been his constant boorish insistence that he is so completely indispensable that has led so many both in and out of Washington to tune him out like well a crying baby Daniel Ward 1 note Permalink Posted at 5 04 PM Tagged 1996 presidential election addiction bill clinton bubbles bullying debt ceiling newt gingrich republicans politics Tantrums pt 2 Jan 07 Tantrums pt 1 If we know anything about Syrian President Bashar al Assad it s that he ll do anything to hold onto power He s slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people at this point people he swears he wants to protect and he shows no signs of stopping It doesn t seem rational looking at what his attempt to hold on has done to the country he insists he still deserves to lead but rational thinking has nothing to do with it Quite the contrary Assad s caught in a pattern we all recognize He s afraid of being killed he sees no distinction between relinquishing power and actual death so he kills to keep from being killed and the killing only makes everyone want to kill him more It s a bubble no different than we see in industries and the stock market not to mention actual physical bubbles Bubbles all follow the exact same painfully predictable cycle They form they grow they maintain themselves by consuming available resources and when they exhaust those resources they become unstable and collapse The stage Assad s entered is Cascade Failure the farther he goes in his attempts to hold on to

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  • Political Theatre
    and appropriate word to use for it describes a drama familiar to each and every one of us one in which each of us has found and still finds a role to play For the risk averse among us which is the vast majority the role we find is that of audience The part is to watch the action and to be seen watching We are so far as we are willing to recognize neither bully nor victim neither predator nor prey We are bystanders complicit in everything we see and choose not to see and aiding both predator and prey in turn At first we aid the bully This is natural Power is attractive and bullies collect power To be in the bully s favor therefore seems to promise protection and survival The victim already weak in our eyes and offering no promise for our future serves as a buffer between the selfish aggression of the bully and ourselves As long as the victim remains strong enough to serve as a buffer viable might be another word for it we will not help him The bully using his audience s inaction as a gauge then escalates his aggression And then the cycle repeats When the bully has grown so strong and the victim so weak that we the crowd watching begin to recognize the threat posed to ourselves then and only then will they intervene on behalf of the victim Our own selfishness as defensive as the bully s is aggressive dominates our decision making It is how we the majority survive This is not to say we are lost to our own selfishness There are and always will be those willing to protect the victim sooner those willing to risk something of themselves for another they may not even know but such defensive selflessness is rare and they are rarely if ever capable of defending others on their own They need the crowd those watching and safely keeping their distance and the crowd knows this Just as the bully uses the selfish risk averse crowd to gauge what he can get away with and for how long so too do they use the warnings and urgings of the selfless to gauge how much more abuse they can allow and how much longer before they must recognize that the greater long term risk the one posed by the bully is what they really need to fear The selfless among us often endure lives of lonely frustration tempted towards rash even violent behavior by hopes of instant gratification That temptation is of course the same aggressive selfishness driving the bully which is why those that give into it fail Short term thinking always will when the problem is long term This is the pattern beginning with the bully engaging his victim and ending with the crowd finally stopping the bully If you step back far enough to see it in its entirety you notice that it isn t limited to children on the playground We can in fact find this pattern at the heart of all behavior both social and physical It describes every decision we make regarding resources and survival about acquiring anything holding onto it and losing it It describes how we make and more often than not resist making decisions We have in some wishful attempt to keep it at a safe distance from ourselves and those we love relegated bullying to a childhood condition as though we do not witness bullying in the workplace or in our homes or in our neighborhoods or in Washington or on Wall Street or in Syria or the Eurozone or at the United Nations as though trying to call what we see by different names changes what it is and what it does The pattern is everywhere It will always be everywhere There is no controlling it And that isn t such a bad thing As individuals in groups and as a species we use this pattern to test our ever changing environment and to figure out how to adapt to it We do this to our great shock by making mistakes When we fail and boy do we ever fail we learn Well those of us left after the failure This is how we have established ourselves as arguably the dominant social species on this planet we fail and learn collectively and we do so better than any of the others And that s why this pattern is so important In learning to recognize it we can learn to anticipate it and take action to mitigate its worst effects We can as we have done with so many other threats cultivate an immune response We ve done it already with many former social and cultural ills There s no reason to believe that a species that has evolved so far and so well that has adapted to and changed its environment so well can t and won t continue to do so Will we make mistakes Count on it Will we learn Always when we can no longer afford not to And then the cycle repeats Daniel Ward Permalink Posted at 6 33 PM Tagged bullying aggressive selfishness defensive selfishness defensive selflessness isaac newton thermodynamics behavior politics economics selfishness amp selflessness risk aversion The Bully On The Playground Aug 28 What Does It Profit A Man Today we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington This is fact It happened It was real We remember Dr Martin Luther King Jr We remember the Lincoln Memorial We remember the crowd stretching out all the way to the Washington Memorial and the intense feeling of optimism and joy in hearing his words for the first time Of course very few of us were there It was like the moon landing even for those alive at the time We remember King s speech partly because it was televised He was the headliner speaking last and he delivered one of the great speeches any of us are likely to hear He exceeded the expectations we had and have even for himself We also remember it because we choose to That optimism and the joy in hearing his words are that important to us We remember them not simply as words spoken on a stage but in context We remember that his words came in the midst of a great struggle one that seemed to start for him almost a decade earlier and that ended violently not even five years after We remember the bloodshed that followed his death We remember the way the movement he championed slid into disunity and chaos following his death We remember how so much of the optimism and joy we associate with his leadership disappeared following his death But memories are imperfect particularly for those of us who were not there to remember in the first place What we forget or have neglected to learn are the challenges the organizers of the March principally A Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin faced in pulling it together We fail to account for the stress these men and quite a few women endured knowing that their actions drew the attention of men and women who would gladly see them dead for what they were attempting to do We too often ignore the effect of the assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers just weeks before the March began This is context And we must remember the role each of these men and women on both sides if we are to understand just how remarkable a day it was for all involved and for the rest of us We must also remember that however triumphant King was in this moment however his speech and the spectacle of this march succeeded in affecting the eventual passage of the The Civil Rights Act the following year and the Voting Rights Act the year after that it was also something of a high water mark for the patient non violence King preached Already the civil rights movement was becoming splintered and radicalized The pace of change was too slow for too many King was considered a conservative within the movement and perhaps he was He believed that going too fast in any direction was dangerous that it would put whites on the defensive The radicals who took the success of his speech and the rest of the March as a sign of whites co opting King and their movement would go on to prove him right They would embrace violence in rhetoric if not in fact and undermine much of what non violence had gained possibly adding decades to what remains an ongoing struggle Lastly we must remember or learn the full name of the march the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom This is important A Philip Randolph led a labor union and Rustin had long advocated not just racial equality but economic equality We may associate King and his speech we racial equality but this moment also marked the beginning of his own evolution when he began to expand the scope of his own advocacy His work with the civil rights movement may have begun only a decade earlier but his true struggle began as it did with all African Americans of his and other generations at birth Growing up King would have witnessed not merely racism but the poverty tied to it He would have seen how racism was used to keep men and women in poverty He would have understood the relationship Racism isn t merely about the color of a man s skin Racism is a means to an end Racism is about power acquiring it maintaining it and controlling it Power enables one man or group to use another man or group for profit Race is unimportant except in how it can be used for this purpose If race was not available as an excuse for abusing others men would find something else they often have Gender for instance Or religion Or the language you speak Or the color hat you wear Or the side of town where you were born What King recognized was that racism was part of a larger whole It was a kind of bullying And only in recognizing the that could you begin to dismantle the culture that makes racism possible Not five years later speaking in Memphis while supporting striking garbage workers Dr King had this to say Now our struggle is for genuine equality which means economic equality For we know now that it isn t enough to integrate lunch counters What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn t have enough money to buy a hamburger As we celebrate his achievements and those of the others standing with him 50 years ago today we must remember or learn what his ultimate message was about who we are and who we can be We must seek equality in all things and in all ways or we will never be equal in any Daniel Ward 1 note Permalink Posted at 3 15 PM Tagged martin luther king civil rights civil war racism politics economics medgar evers bayard rustin a philip randolph naacp core sncc bullying What Does It Profit A Man Jul 17 Why capital gains should be taxed as income Last week s Munk debate featured one of those strange bedfellow moments when Paul Krugman agreed with Art Laffer that the tax rate on capital gains should be the same as the tax rate on income Felix Salmon Reuters 06 05 13 10 notes Permalink Posted at 7 16 PM Tagged economics capital gains taxes corporatism Political Theatre Jul 16 Everybody Does It pt 3 Chris Davis plays for the Baltimore Orioles If you haven t heard of him that s OK Stardom is a new thing for him He plays first base for the Orioles Like a lot of first basemen he s built for power not speed He ll either swat dingers or strike out He strikes out a lot about three times as much as he hits home runs and he hits a lot of home runs Chris Davis is a home run hitter That more than his field position or his current team identifies him As of Sunday Chris Davis has 37 home runs more than he has ever hit in a full season His 37 ties the American League record for home runs hit before the All Star break a record set by Reggie Jackson all the way back in 1969 It s an arbitrary record Jackson hit his 37 in 92 games it took Davis 96 but if Davis keeps his pace he would finish the year with 61 home runs a number significant in the history of home run hitting and if we re to believe Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis a number even more significant to him It should therefore come as no surprise that the response to Davis 2013 power surge has been a single nagging question Is he using steroids Fans have been asking it So too have journalists Odds are many of his fellow players are asking it It s inescapable This is what the Steroid Era has done to baseball We don t trust it anymore Sure most fans and journalists aren t asking it out loud but it s there that question in the back of their minds How can it not be Two decades of record breaking numbers and end of season awards resulted not in glory and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame but in lists of players with numbers too good to be true and legacies as liars and cheaters They made a lot of money though That they made so much money so quickly can t go without comment Annual salaries for the top players now routinely top 25 million Bench players and middling pitchers might make 5 to 10 million The current Major League minimum is 490 000 That s a lot just to make the roster if players don t and spend their seasons in the minor leagues their paychecks are a fraction of that closer to the average American s And that s the temptation Personal glory is nice but few will ever have the talent to be that good They just want to hang on in the majors Maybe if they catch a break they can start and make a few million more Who wouldn t pay to recover more quickly and overcome the inevitable effects of aging Who wouldn t when holding back meant losing everything and leaving with nothing This is what bubbles are made of It s never just the few at the top making vast riches but the dream of lesser riches for those grasping desperately to hold onto a place in the middle It was no accident that all of this happened as the stock and housing markets went boom and bust That too cannot go without comment The Steroid Era was no different from other bubbles It was born from the same greed and fed from the same cultural swing towards aggressive selfishness It promises a short cut to a happy ending Those making money directly and indirectly told themselves the ends justify the means and looked the other way And it was no less lucrative even as it became scandalized as long as you got your money up front What we must remember when we think of professional sports is that there is always a time limit a short window for players to make a mark and to make a living The players their agents and team management are all too aware of this By 32 most players are long past their best years and those at the top are beginning their decline Performance enhancing drugs including steroids lengthen that window and offer the potential for the best cheater to overcome the best natural talent for the 37 year old to overcome the 27 year old We must also remember that at the time when Bonds and McGwire and Clemens and Palmeiro and Sosa and Ramirez were pushing their considerable talents while denying what in retrospect seemed so obvious the vast majority of performance enhancing drug PED users were the ones below them on the depth charts the ones who never stood a chance of making the Hall of Fame It was common It was in every clubhouse It was in every league It was everywhere It was expected Everybody did it or could And no one at least at first complained The thing is like all bubbles it was a short term solution Everybody s having too much fun at the start to think about how long it can last and nothing lasts forever The inevitable weakness in this case as in all of them was entropy PEDs brought a lot of money into the game but they also demanded more always more and the money has to come from somewhere Ticket prices skyrocketed in the twenty years of PED domination So too did the cost of food drinks and souvenirs at the ballpark The thrill of records being broken drew record numbers of fans garnered record television contracts and drove a stadium building boom funded by millions of taxpayers Those making money off the game became removed from those paying for it There would always be the next contract and a player with better stats would always command more Players were signing contracts worth a quarter billion dollars And fans knew they were the ones footing the bill It s hard enough to forgive a cheat making even a little more than you Try forgiving one making that much more The cheating we must understand may be the primary issue but it isn t what s driving the witch hunt Not really It s the money And so the

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  • Political Theatre
    of them to forget the many many opportunities he s had in the past seven years to say so openly and clearly opportunities he chose not to use He was hired to do a job and let them stop him from doing it Republican obstructionism was in many ways Obama s failure in no way more than his failure to call them out on it early and often Obama s State Of The Union was filled with inspiration and some genuinely good ideas about how to move forward but they all have been This one as you would expect was more about how he will be remembered He has that luxury However he is used now and in 2020 Obama has won two more presidential elections than any of his potential successors Lost in Donald Trump and Chris Christie s belabored defenses of New York and its Conservative bona fides is the more or less obvious fact that Trump wasn t Cruz intended target By now Cruz has set his sights on the Rupublican nomination acting as the front runner not as Trump s rival He expects Trump to fade or maybe even crash and burn It s Hillary Clinton he wants people to think he expects to have to beat and voters who hate her are those he courts now The only thing standing in Cruz way Sarah Palin OK not really but see if you can pick out the symphony of dog whistles in her Trump endorsement speech Daniel Ward Permalink Posted at 11 40 PM Tagged dog whistle politics ted cruz Donald Trump politics 2016 presidential race republicans north korea Kim Jong un iran barack obama diplomacy State of the Union sotu hillary clinton bernie sanders democrats new york values chris christie paul ryan aggressive selfishness shepherds looking for a flock flyover states Dog Whistles Jan 04 Resolve This being the start of a new year we might be expected to come up with a few resolutions It s a tradition Being resolutions of course we might not be expected to keep any of them Who does We might have broken one or two already That s what we love about resolutions no accountability Resolutions are perfect for a new year They start out with hope This year I will follow with some way we failed the year s before something that we never want to do again and mostly finish at some point long before the year runs out And why not Like campaign promises a year from an election who s even going to remember let alone care by the time it counts Resolutions are fantasy and no part as big as the word To resolve is to commit We ve had enough of something accepted failure for too long We reach a tipping point and action must be taken Anything that comes with enough wiggle room to allow for inevitable failure guarantees a lack of commitment And failure That s what a lack of accountability gets you By now you ve probably heard something about the Texas Affluenza Defense case Maybe you did last week In 2013 a wealthy teenager stole some beer with some of his friends got drunk and stoned and then drove his father s pickup truck into a stalled SUV and another car He and his friends survived even the ones riding in the flatbed when it flipped over Four others however died the driver of the SUV and three who had tried to help her A boy sitting in the car of one of them is paralyzed None of this is in dispute The then 16 year old boy Ethan Couch plead guilty to the deaths What is in dispute is his legal defense offered at sentencing It was not merely that his parents had spoiled him rotten or that he came from a violently abusive home both of which were surely true but that those things paired with his family s wealth created a human lacking an understanding of consequences And empathy He was as the juvenile delinquent song goes depraved on account he was deprived Of nothing That ladies and gentlemen is the Affluenza Defense This poor young man was as far as anyone had ever told him or shown him accountable to no one so he wasn t The idea that you should not be held accountable because you were spoiled as a wealthy child ranks down there with the Twinkie Defense which succeeded in acquitting a bigot or the ideology of Ayn Rand which holds that each of us should be held accountable to no one while still holding everyone accountable to us These are the rantings of a 5 year old They are why we have kindergarten and talk about socializing our children We are a social species succeeding or failing based on our ability to work together Not one of us has every strength and no weaknesses We must rely on others to use their strengths to shore up our weaknesses and offer our own strengths in trade The idea therefore that one individual or group can survive let alone thrive without the assistance of others is ridiculous We have evolved this way adapting to changing environments by selecting the appropriate strengths from among our group to respond to each new threat It makes us a community A union if you prefer For it to succeed we must be accountable to each other More than that we must be seen to be The rule of law must be equal We must commit to it It s important to remember that as a teenager there were limits to how much punishment Couch could face even in Texas It could be argued then that his bullshit defense meant nothing towards his sentencing And yet the sentence he received a lengthy but light probation paired with psychological treatment at a luxury rehab facility would seem to confirm our worst suspicions of what wealth can buy in

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  • Political Theatre - Elections
    in Ukraine s national parliament and one each for Donetsk and Luhansk provinces under pro Russian paramilitary control It s entirely understandable that the ethnic Russians who have dominated the region for centuries would have fears about losing their own identity and voice in a pro West Ukraine dominated by ethnic Ukrainians To be Ukrainian after all is to distrust and fear Russia and they have centuries of Russian domination to thank for it And yet whatever legitimacy ethnic Russian protests might have had they married their fears to violence It can t have helped that Russia offering its own sort of smirking protests at international condemnation has encouraged that violence at every step from its decades long interference in Ukrainian politics to continually referring to anyone in Kiev who opposes them as nazis to its invading and annexing ethnically Russian Crimea Those nationalist freedom fighters always hiding their faces Yeah well they aren t just ethnically Russian are they Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continue to offer the kinds of platitudes we expect from victorious politicians convinced they have the upper hand things like We want to solve this problem but they won t compromise and We look forward to finding common ground Of course they said these kinds of things while a cease fire they helped broker two months ago makes a mockery of the term The thing to understand when dealing with a Putin or Lavrov is that a cease fire or a treaty is no different than the platitudes about seeking compromise and finding common ground They re a way of shutting people up of testing what blustering foreign leaders and journalists are willing to accept and of buying time to set up their next move They don t want to compromise or to find common ground they want their opponents to compromise which means accepting that the ground is common because it is theirs and theirs alone Of course neither Putin nor Lavrov actually said those particular platitudes above Those were said by Republicans following Tuesday s electoral victories They of course have the exact same meaning for the Republicans Compromise is for losers Common ground is theirs No sooner had Mitch McConnell and John Boehner offered to work with embattled President Obama and the weak and pathetic Democratic losers than they were back at work threatening damnation and hellfire to any who dared oppose their grand designs The Republicans seems to think or to want us to think that Tuesday s results amount to something like momentum leading into the 2016 presidential campaign Expecting anything different from them would be foolish Of course they re going to squawk about what the American people want Of course they re going to crow about their vast stable of potential presidential picks Of course as we all know they ll spend the next two years not governing with an eye towards improving the lot of others but with both eyes squarely on taking back

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  • Political Theatre
    who have dominated the region for centuries would have fears about losing their own identity and voice in a pro West Ukraine dominated by ethnic Ukrainians To be Ukrainian after all is to distrust and fear Russia and they have centuries of Russian domination to thank for it And yet whatever legitimacy ethnic Russian protests might have had they married their fears to violence It can t have helped that Russia offering its own sort of smirking protests at international condemnation has encouraged that violence at every step from its decades long interference in Ukrainian politics to continually referring to anyone in Kiev who opposes them as nazis to its invading and annexing ethnically Russian Crimea Those nationalist freedom fighters always hiding their faces Yeah well they aren t just ethnically Russian are they Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continue to offer the kinds of platitudes we expect from victorious politicians convinced they have the upper hand things like We want to solve this problem but they won t compromise and We look forward to finding common ground Of course they said these kinds of things while a cease fire they helped broker two months ago makes a mockery of the term The thing to understand when dealing with a Putin or Lavrov is that a cease fire or a treaty is no different than the platitudes about seeking compromise and finding common ground They re a way of shutting people up of testing what blustering foreign leaders and journalists are willing to accept and of buying time to set up their next move They don t want to compromise or to find common ground they want their opponents to compromise which means accepting that the ground is common because it is theirs and theirs alone Of course neither Putin nor Lavrov actually said those particular platitudes above Those were said by Republicans following Tuesday s electoral victories They of course have the exact same meaning for the Republicans Compromise is for losers Common ground is theirs No sooner had Mitch McConnell and John Boehner offered to work with embattled President Obama and the weak and pathetic Democratic losers than they were back at work threatening damnation and hellfire to any who dared oppose their grand designs The Republicans seems to think or to want us to think that Tuesday s results amount to something like momentum leading into the 2016 presidential campaign Expecting anything different from them would be foolish Of course they re going to squawk about what the American people want Of course they re going to crow about their vast stable of potential presidential picks Of course as we all know they ll spend the next two years not governing with an eye towards improving the lot of others but with both eyes squarely on taking back the White House Seriously look who the Republicans are touting as presidential they have embattled governors one of whom barely escaped a recall and another who

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  • Political Theatre
    It s entirely understandable that the ethnic Russians who have dominated the region for centuries would have fears about losing their own identity and voice in a pro West Ukraine dominated by ethnic Ukrainians To be Ukrainian after all is to distrust and fear Russia and they have centuries of Russian domination to thank for it And yet whatever legitimacy ethnic Russian protests might have had they married their fears to violence It can t have helped that Russia offering its own sort of smirking protests at international condemnation has encouraged that violence at every step from its decades long interference in Ukrainian politics to continually referring to anyone in Kiev who opposes them as nazis to its invading and annexing ethnically Russian Crimea Those nationalist freedom fighters always hiding their faces Yeah well they aren t just ethnically Russian are they Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continue to offer the kinds of platitudes we expect from victorious politicians convinced they have the upper hand things like We want to solve this problem but they won t compromise and We look forward to finding common ground Of course they said these kinds of things while a cease fire they helped broker two months ago makes a mockery of the term The thing to understand when dealing with a Putin or Lavrov is that a cease fire or a treaty is no different than the platitudes about seeking compromise and finding common ground They re a way of shutting people up of testing what blustering foreign leaders and journalists are willing to accept and of buying time to set up their next move They don t want to compromise or to find common ground they want their opponents to compromise which means accepting that the ground is common because it is theirs and theirs alone Of course neither Putin nor Lavrov actually said those particular platitudes above Those were said by Republicans following Tuesday s electoral victories They of course have the exact same meaning for the Republicans Compromise is for losers Common ground is theirs No sooner had Mitch McConnell and John Boehner offered to work with embattled President Obama and the weak and pathetic Democratic losers than they were back at work threatening damnation and hellfire to any who dared oppose their grand designs The Republicans seems to think or to want us to think that Tuesday s results amount to something like momentum leading into the 2016 presidential campaign Expecting anything different from them would be foolish Of course they re going to squawk about what the American people want Of course they re going to crow about their vast stable of potential presidential picks Of course as we all know they ll spend the next two years not governing with an eye towards improving the lot of others but with both eyes squarely on taking back the White House Seriously look who the Republicans are touting as presidential they have embattled governors one of

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