Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer flank Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in U.S. Capitol
Readers of my blog and those who follow me on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter/X), know that I regularly post two things: (1) daily generally humorous items (except Sundays) related to language or writing and (2) Sunday blog posts (or reposts of “oldy-but-goodies”).
As those who know me are aware, my experiences in living and working abroad, in different cultures, coupled with my Jewish background, have long interested me in what’s going on in the world. Yesterday’s news of the Hamas massacre in Israel devastated me and made it impossible to repost elsewhere the amusing language-related item that I’d previously preprogrammed to appear yesterday on Pen-for-Rent’s Facebook page. If, in days or weeks to come, you don’t see one or more of my usual language-related social media posts, you’ll know I’m highly preoccupied.
The ongoing fiasco in the U.S. House of Representatives — and particularly its potential impact on continuing U.S. military aid to Ukraine as it defends itself from Russia’s barbarous invasion and continual bombardment of civilians — had me thinking last week of posting a blog item today on the absolute necessity of the House GOP (not very “Grand” anymore!) electing someone as speaker who will make it possible to pass a bill that continues our critical military aid to this beleaguered nation. More on this below.
What Drives Me
As blog readers are probably aware, I generally steer clear of political topics since I have friends, family members and clients on both sides of America’s increasingly sharp red-blue divide. I have, however, occasionally shared my thoughts — my anguish! — when I simply cannot keep silent. For examples of such writing, please take a look at some of the posts included in this link.
On thinking further about this in the somewhat sleep-deprived hours of the past couple of nights, I’ve concluded that it’s worth the potential costs in bruised relationships and lost business to share my thoughts on important issues at home and abroad.
So please be prepared, all half dozen or so of you “faithful readers” out there, to find me writing about issues about which I’ve kept largely silent till now. I’ll do my best to be respectful of other viewpoints.
To provide, in today’s post, a general idea of some of the things that drive my thinking, I’ll just say, for those who don’t have much in-person contact with me, that I think of myself as moderately conservative politically. In recent years, I have generally voted Republican, feeling comfortable with the GOP’s traditional “peace through strength” orientation and pro-growth/pro-jobs economic philosophy.
To be clear, however, I despise (and I’m using this word deliberately) Trump if for no other reason (and there are plenty) than his effort to overturn the 2020 election and wreck our country — and the GOP — with his ceaseless lies. I am appalled by his having fooled so many voters into electing MAGA-allegiant politicians whose utter cynicism (ask Mitt Romney!) is destroying our country.
On the other end of the political spectrum, I equally despise the “Squad” and the Democrats’ “progressive” wing. I share and admire the liberal wish to pursue policies that strengthen economic opportunity (and make it equally available to all in our diverse population) and do the greatest good for the greatest number, but I’ve been around the block often enough to recognize that “too much of a good thing” can do harm or have unintended consequences. My experience in first studying the Soviet Union and then living there for two years — all the while hearing too many excuses for that vile regime, no better than Nazi Germany — has made me wary of the left.
Thoughts on Ukraine
I’ll limit my thoughts on Ukraine to a few basic points.
First, Ukraine, a nation working hard to being accepted as a worthy member of the democratic West, is the victim of naked, unprovoked Russian aggression. It is in the vital national interest of the United States and all our NATO allies as well as democracies such as Japan, Australia and Taiwan to help the people of Ukraine defend their lives, their homes and their country from this barbarous invasion. Thousands of people are being murdered by deliberate daily Russian shelling of homes, shops, hospitals, train stations, etc. There are no IFs or BUTs about this.
Second, Ukraine depends on military assistance from fellow democracies to maintain its independence and win the war against Russia. All the arguments one hears against helping Ukraine are lies or the product of (mostly Russian) disinformation. The cost of our aid is minimal — it amounts to about 5% of the U.S. military budget, and what that modest amount has achieved is the destruction by our valiant Ukrainian friends of nearly half the Russian army’s equipment — without any U.S. boots on the ground! Moreover, much of the equipment and munitions we have supplied is surplus, sitting in warehouses ready to be scrapped — at great expense! — because it’s past its “sell-by” date. But it’s still powerful stuff, and it’s absolutely indispensable to allowing Ukraine to drive out the invaders.
Imagine that we’re living not in 2023, but 1940-41, when our friend and ally Great Britain was being bombed day and night by Nazi Germany — the Blitz, which killed over 30,000 men, women and children in England! Imagine if the British had asked the U.S. for help, and we said, No, it’s not our war. Fortunately, we had a great president back then, Franklin D. Roosevelt. In explaining to America’s people why it was important to help Great Britain, he said, Imagine your neighbor’s house is on fire. Wouldn’t you let him borrow your garden hose?
Why should we be so selfish and foolish as not to lend Ukraine our garden hose?
Unfortunately, following this past week’s deposing of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives by a cabal of congresspeople who claim they’re conservatives, the GOP caucus is trying to pick his successor — an unenviable job for anyone crazy enough to try leading a group of lawmakers that’s being defined by its unhinged right flank. One of the candidates to succeed McCarthy, Jim Jordan, is a Trump loyalist who opposes sending any further aid to Ukraine.
Can you imagine? Ukraine’s house is on fire, and one of the two leading candidates for speaker doesn’t want to lend them our garden hose.
The crazy thing is that most Republicans in both the House and Senate — and most voters around the country, Republicans and Democrats alike if the polls accurately reflect public opinion — strongly favor continuing to help Ukraine.
But the speaker can probably keep this from coming up for a vote in the House. Such an outcome would be so “un-American” it’s hard to find words to describe it.
I ask any reader who lives in a district represented in the House by a Republican to let their representative know they strongly support the continuation of aid to Ukraine and to please vote for Steve Scalise, Jordan’s opponent in the speaker’s race. Thank you!
Thoughts on Israel vs. Hamas
Yesterday, the world awoke to the news that Hamas terrorists (which much of the media foolishly and misleadingly calls “militants”) were bombarding Israeli cities and towns with thousands of rockets and had invaded nearby communities and were going door to door shooting civilians — men, women, children, the elderly — in cold blood.
Here are some scenes to help make it real for any readers who have not seen this. If you’re squeamish, scroll down quickly.
Israeli civilians murdered by Hamas, Sderot, Oct. 7, 2023
Victims at another bus stop
Woman weeping over body of her nephew, Sderot
Kidnapped Israeli body that Hamas will try to use as “bargaining chip,” greeted in Gaza by cheering mob
And here is a link to some compelling, first-person accounts and perspectives — https://www.thefp.com/p/today-is-israels-911-db6?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=260347&post_id=137763904&utm_campaign=email-post-title&isFreemail=false&r=2l840&utm_medium=email.
I encourage you to read it all. It makes clear why we Americans should not allow ourselves to be pressured — as many will try to do — into telling the Israelis, citizens of a fellow democracy, not to defend themselves stoutly from attacks by ruthless killers.
Civilization depends on good people refusing to remain silent in the face of evil.