From History

A Book of Inspirations

A BOOK OF INSPIRATIONS

      My 11th book just went off to the printer. It will be out in July, and I hope to sell a lot of them. I think it is my best book to date. I WILL DONATE ALL THE PROFITS TO THE REBUILDING OF UKRAINE. It is amazing to me that one crazy person can do so much harm in such a short time. It took Hitler a decade and Stalin two decades to destroy the world. It took Putin only a few months.         
     This new book was my therapy to counter the evil of this insanity. Art and esthetic beauty have always calmed me down and given me new inspiration that things will get better. The book’s title is Muses and Inspirations and features works of two UKRAINIAN ARTISTS, my father and me. My father was motivated by the two-dimensional muse (painting), while I paid homage to the three-dimensional muse (sculpting).
     Each work is accompanied by a write-up of why, how, and what motivated us. I have been a Surgeon most of my life, so naturally, that was a major part of my inspiration and created the work you see below, the gloved hand of a surgeon making the first incision. It is held up by the scalpel, which was quite a feat to have it appear to come from above as if guided by some unseen force. Bronze is a metal of copper mixed with 12% tin and thus is quite heavy. It would collapse if held up by a bronze scalpel, so the knife is cast in stainless steel, a metaphor for the King of the Medical Arts.

      Blacksmiths were one of my Father’s favorite subjects to paint. Painting them spanned his entire career. He admired the strength of brawn and brain that allowed them to tame iron. A blacksmith’s work is never done! Iron and steel obey his every whim from shaping horseshoes to forging swords.

This Blacksmith was a friend of my father, and allowed him to paint him in his shop. Unfortunately, the Blacksmith was very fond of “the grape.” While shoeing a horse in his shop, he was kicked by the horse in the upper abdomen. He was too inebriated to get help and bled to death from a ruptured spleen. That ended not only his life but also his career as a model and friend to my father.

On one of my trips to Paris, France, I became enchanted by the “gargoyle.” That is a sculpting adorning many cathedrals of Europe. The word “gargoyle” comes from the Spanish word “garganta,” which means “throat.” Originally the gargoyle was used to divert water from the roof of a church and the water was channeled out of the mouth of the gargoyle. The legend claims that these hideous faces actually discouraged evil spirits from attacking. They protected the people and the cathedral. I, too, had to have one to protect my house. So I sculpted one, and so far, it has been successful. No evil spirits have infested our house. Here is my version of the gargoyle.

Winter is filled with fun and excitement:  Christmas, holly, mistletoe, sleigh rides, chestnuts, and sitting by toasty roaring fires. Snow is difficult to paint. It is white, that is true, but it has character, substance, and it is cold. To convey this with a brush on a canvas with white Zinc Oxide oil paint and make it believable is quite a trick. The New England Winter, 24″x36″ oil on canvas,seems to be inviting a horse-drawn sleigh with jingle bells to pass over the bridge. This painting comes from the Santa Monica period of Vladimir’s life. A time in sunny California, 1965 to 1974, which made Vladimir reminisce about his time in colder climates. He forgot how bad winter could be: the house calls to the farm at the very peak of the mountain in the Austrian Alps in waist-deep snow and the cold winters in Peoria when he was night physician on call for six thousand criminally insane (that is for another book). His car had to have an electric heating blanket covering the engine so he could start it.

     To my knowledge, I am the first sculptor to incorporate the artistic rendering with a real object. In this sculpting, I took a real violin and have bronze hands positioned as if playing the violin. I call this piece Air on the G-String. Sometime between 1717 to 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote “Orchestration No. 3 in D Major.” Orchestration No. 3 did not get much exposure and languished in a drawer for around 150 years, very much like J.S. Bach’s other famous Opus, the six Brandenburg Concertos.

  A very talented violinist thought to be Germany’s best violinist, also a friend of Richard Wagner, discovered Orchestration No. 3 in D Major. He re-scored it so that he could play it on just one string on the violin by changing the key to C Major and lowering the entire score one octave. That string happened to be the lowest string on the violin, the G-string. His name was August Wilhelmj. Audiences came to use the name “Air on the G-string for it.” It was an immediate success and remains so still today. You would recognize it instantly as it is frequently played at weddings. The G-string has a more lusty connotation. To learn more about it, you will have to wait for the book. I shall put out a notice when it is available.         


  

Not to Support Ukraine is to Support Putin

     I am shocked by the number of Representatives and Senators who are voting against aid to Ukraine, along with news anchors who have lost their way. Their reasoning for not supporting Ukraine is muddled and based on flawed thinking. I am sure there are reasons to hone and target the aid so as to be most effective without wastefully throwing money down the drain, but their logic is defective. I see any efforts to take support away from Ukraine as an effort to help Vladimir Putin. I hold to the principle that the enemy of my friend is my enemy.
     I must disclose that I am of Ukrainian descent. I cannot be convinced that ostrich-like behavior is in the best interest of our country. Isolationism didn’t work to contain Hitler, and it won’t work for Putin either. But I have a brain, and I have a family history (see my books Tales from my Hometown and Tales of a Country Surgeon) going back eighty years which makes me very knowledgeable about Putin’s mindset. He is just like Stalin, who almost murdered my parents, and imprisoned my grandmother in the Siberian Gulags for thirteen years. Stalin is the man whom Putin wants to emulate. Putin has, on numerous occasions, explained his thinking. Just listen to his speeches and read his essays of the last decade. His aim is to restore Russia to its former glory and strength. The world also failed to heed Mein Kampf, which outlined Hitler’s mindset. Do these dense politicians and news anchors not understand that this is a proxy war where Ukrainians are dying in our place? Putin, unless defeated, will continue his insanity. Moldova is next because Putin needs to protect the 500,000 people of Transnistria, the eastern breakaway sliver of Moldova, from the supposed “Nazis.” After that, the Baltics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also need liberation by bombing them to smithereens. If he is successful, NATO is next. Now with Norway and Sweden at his doorstep, he is even more nervous. The real target is us. Putin controls 6,257 Nuclear Weapons, of the megaton flavor, with 1,357 pointed at us. That would be more than enough. He is a sick man physically and mentally. He does not care if he gets out of this alive. He will die regardless, and he does not care whom he takes with him. World War III does not frighten him. He wants history to remember him as the savior of Mother Russia.
     Eighty-one Senators voted for aid to Ukraine, but eleven Republican Senators did not! Those who opposed the plan were Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.). The Senate is not the only body that has misguided members among them. These Republican Representatives are also challenged: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Scott Perry (Pa.), and Tom Tiffany (Wis.) voted against the bill. The stated objections were all mind-boggling non-sequiturs like we have no baby formula, the southern border is our major problem, and Fentanyl is the primary killer in this country we need to address. All true but not related. I would be very interested in how to get baby formula out of Howitzers. And how exactly will aid to Ukraine allow more illegal aliens to cross the Rio Grande? That will only be solved by a new administration running the border. Fentanyl overdoses have no relation to aiding Ukraine. That is a problem related to our permissive society and the drugs made in China which we allow the cartels to bring across the leaky border.
     Lack of oversight was another issue. How do you oversee Howitzers anyway? They are not going into someone’s basement to be sold off later. Even unsupervised Howitzers will help Ukraine defeat the man who wants to nuke us before he can push the button. Ukraine is fighting for Europe and us. If it were not for them, our boys would be dying over there.   If Putin wins, NATO will be forced to put boots on the ground, and guess what? We are part of NATO. Article five in the NATO charter states that if one member is attacked, all member states are obligated to come to its defense, and voilá, we are involved.

Air on the G-String       

I have been a busy sculptor. My next piece combines a real violin with the sculpted bronze hands that are playing it. The note that is being played is on the G-String, hence the name of the sculpting. To let you in on the secret of how I named it is a true story that comes from history and has done its part to change it.      

Sometime between 1717 to 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote “Orchestration No. 3 in D Major.” He composed this piece for his patron, Prince Leopold von Anhalt. Bach was in his early 30s and not yet an established composer, furthermore, the Anhalt family was not enamored with Bach’s music. Orchestration No. 3 did not get much exposure and languished in a drawer for around 150 years, very much like J.S. Bach’s other famous Opus, the six Brandenburg Concertos, that he composed as an application for a new job, with the Margrave of Brandenburg. Since his career with Prince Leopold von Anhalt was at risk, he tried to entice the Margrave to hire him. He sent the six Concertos to him, but just like the “Orchestration No. 3 in D Major,” the Margrave didn’t even listen to any of them, nor did Bach get the job when Prince Leopold unceremoniously fired him.      

Luckily a wise and music-savvy scientist named Carl Sagan was in charge of picking the music for a gold-plated CD that was to be sent into deep space for a future Alien to find. The second Brandenburg Concerto went out on Voyager I in 1977, but the job application to the Margrave of Brandenburg was just a few hundred years too late. The Orchestration No. 3 in D Major at least had a second chance to be heard sooner.

A very talented violinist, a friend of Richard Wagner and the son of Prussia’s Chief Prosecutor, thought to be Germany’s best violinist, discovered Orchestration No. 3 in D Major. He re-scored it so that he could play it on just one string on the violin by changing the key to C Major and lowering the entire score one octave. That string happened to be the lowest string on the violin, the G-string. His name was August Wilhelmj. Audiences came to use the name “Air on the G-string” for it.  It was an immediate success and remains so still today. You would recognize it instantly as it is frequently played at weddings. 

So how did the G-string get its other, more lusty connotation? The 1939 World’s Fair opened in the Queens district of New York. We did not enter World War II until 1941 on the Day of Infamy. The World’s Fair attracted 44 million people, including  King George V and his Queen, along with Albert Einstein, and many more notables. But it also attracted a less lofty group, strippers! Mayor Fiorello La Guardia made it the law for strippers to wear a Bikini-like bottom in New York when performing. First, Fredericks of Hollywood and then Victoria’s Secret repurposed the  G-sting in their naming of the skimpy garment. The G-string on the violin is just a thin wire, and it happens to be the lowest in position and sound of the violin strings. What could be a more appropriate name for Mayor La Guardia’s mandated tiny modesty vestment?   


 WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

The Kremlin, meaning Vladimir Putin, claims that the atrocities are staged by Ukrainian Nazis, to shift the blame on Russia and to incite world outrage against them. Here are the problems with that. It is difficult to believe a man who has lied to you repeatedly from the outset: that would be Vladimir Putin. “We are not going to invade Ukraine!” he said. Then he did. “We are not attacking civilians,” then he did. Maternity hospitals and shelters had inscriptions on the pavement. “Children” were bombed – with 400 fatalities. Pictures, witnesses, and international organizations that watch for War Crimes testify. All counter Putin’s lies. The Jewish population and their Rabbis, who are Ukrainian national figures, deny Nazi presence in Ukraine. Russians pull out and within hours there are 400 bodies of executed civilians in the streets and in mass graves. The Russians claim these are staged after they left Bacha. It takes time to kill 400 people and excavate mass graves. The Nazis had to work awfully fast to kill all those people from the time the last Russian tanks rolled out, to before the bodies were discovered. There was not enough time for the Nazis to get in and tie all those people’s hands and shoot them in the head. Actually, satellite pictures show many of the bodies in the exact position in the streets as they are now, weeks before the Russians pulled out at the time they were in control of the town. I suppose the Nazis snuck in at night while the Russians were sleeping. International journalists testify and show us pictures of the dead. There are witnesses. There is satellite and drone video, and cell phone video.  The lies are staggering and easily refuted. Do they think we are that gullible?
Putin and his Generals are war criminals, very much like Hitler, Göring, and, Göbels, etc. only documented better. You don’t need any more convincing evidence than the bombed-out apartment buildings in Mariupol to see the perfidious lies of the Kremlin. No Nazis lived there.

Are those bombed-out buildings part of the pretend destruction, along with the crisis actors, and those buildings are just photoshopped and made to look like civilian apartments? Putin and his henchmen must think we are blind too.           

What are these atrocities? To kill unarmed civilians whose hands are tied behind them shows disregard for morality and civilized behavior: bombing apartment buildings and theaters where civilians are sheltering, taking a family out in the woods, and shooting Mayor Olga Sukhenko and her family, husband, and son after being tortured, then dumping their bodies in a mass grave. In Irpin, Russians shot women and girls and then drove tanks over their bodies. The lucky ones just got raped and had their tongues pulled out. Some of the bodies were rigged with tripwires to explode. Those are atrocities, and those are the kind that real Nazis commit. 

In 1945 General Dwight David Eisenhower insisted on photographers taking pictures in the captured concentration camps of the mounds of corpses, because Eisenhower did not think the world would believe that human beings could inflict such monstrous despicable acts on fellow human beings. In one respect, Putin was right, there are Nazis, but as it turns out, he didn’t need to go to Ukraine to find them. They were right there in his own military, following his orders.

IS PUTIN INSANE? 

 

The signs are clear. The man has isolated himself from life. He does not allow anyone to come into his office, and only communicates by phone. No one can come within 40 feet of him. Speaking of social distancing! This has been going on for two years.    

He exhibits signs of Paranoia. The world is against him. He just put his nuclear forces on high alert. He needs nukes to protect him. Ukraine is full of Nazis. He is saving the world by killing them all and de-Nazifying the world. This despite that there is not one shred of evidence of that. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, is a Jew. Three of his uncles were killed by Hitler. He won the election with overwhelming numbers. 70% of the Ukrainian people voted for him. And all the supposed “Nazis” are running away to Poland and the Nordic Nations, exactly the opposite of what Putin predicted. The unhinged mind uses different mechanisms than the normal mind. It projects its own internal demons onto others in order to cope. The population has not risen up to attack the Ukrainian leadership but has taken up arms against the invading Russian forces. Putin wants revenge for the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which he calls the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century, never mind the Holocaust, never mind World War I or World War II, never mind 9/11, never mind Covid-19. Putin’s mind is confused and warped. And who do you think he blames for the fall of the USSR? Hint, not Ukraine! He blames us, the USA! Condoleeza Rice states that he is a changed personality since she knew him. Others have also noted Putin’s erratic behavior and language. Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, has hinted of major health issues which he is reluctant to share at this time. Trust me, we are next on his list!      

There is not one country that supports his actions. Even the Chinese urge reasonableness and negotiations to settle the differences. The problem is that insane people cannot reason. Their mind is clouded by faulty connections inside the brain. He has stopped listening to his advisers. Only he knows the truth!    

My father was a Psychiatrist in a mega-hospital in the 1960s that institutionalized the criminally insane. At its peak, the hospital had 7,000 patients. As part of his compensation, he got a house for himself and our family. I grew up in an insane asylum! I had a paper route and delivered newspapers to those patients that still could recognize the difference between hallucinations and reality. I learned about Schizophrenia and Paranoia before medical school, and later I learned it again at Camarillo State Hospital where UCLA took us to learn about mental illness. It is what we are seeing in Vladimir Putin. The Russian people need to wake up. They will suffer from all the sanctions, not Putin. He is isolated and protected from all sanctions, and does not care about the suffering of his people. His inner circle must recognize his insanity and put him into a padded cell. All the Oligarchs have lost billions of Rubles. The Russian Stock market has gone down 30%, as SNL says to minus 90%.       

Putin and Hitler have a similar mindset. Hitler, too became paranoid and started doing irrational things even against the advice of his top generals. Hitler marched into Poland, then Russia. and started bombing London. Putin is just like him. They should call him PUTLER. We must support the Ukrainian people because just like in Nazi Germany, if we don’t, we will suffer the same fate. If you fail to take action against an insane bully who attacks innocent people you become their next victim.    

Russia’s one Achilles heel is its profits from oil. We must cut off those profits by becoming energy independent again before it is too late. We certainly cannot buy oil from Russia! Buying oil from them now is almost treason!          

 

               UKRAINE😢

My father, Vladimir Iwasiuk, painted the picture above. My sister posed for the painting in the full Ukrainian traditional folk regalia, from the embroidered blouse and jacket to the headdress. This is what the country girls wore on festive days. But that was in the past. Ukraine has become a pawn in the chess game that Vladimir Putin is playing. Unfortunately, our  President and the EU are playing checkers. I am of Ukrainian descent. My father was born in Czernowitz (the German version of the spelling), in western Ukraine. This was at a time when the Austro-Hungarian Empire happened to be the owner of that part of the world. Ukraine has never been blessed with unity.

Its borders and territories have been disputed by all of its neighbors, each claiming a piece of it at various times. Great heroes have risen to fight for Ukraine in all those battles. Taras Bulba, a Zaporozhina Cossack (referring to lands  – wild fields – around the lower Dnieper River), was one of them at the time the Poles were tearing off a chunk of Ukraine for themselves. Yul Brynner played his character in the 1962 movie by that name, well worth watching to get the flavor of the Ukrainian nationalist spirit.

In the 10th and 11th Centuries, Ukraine was the MOST POWERFUL NATION in Europe! That era was ushered in by Vladimir the Great around the year 1000. Ukrainians are very proud of their heritage and resent being lumped together with Russians, as they so often are. More than 70% of Ukrainians belong to the Greek Orthodox Faith. Medieval Christianity split into an Eastern and a Western theology in 1054 AD at the time of Ukraine’s Golden Age. The division occurred over a variety of doctrinal issues, such as the Pope’s infallibility, the worship of icons, the marriage of priests, the understanding of the trinity, and the three-bar Orthodox cross. This cultural factor imparts Ukraine with a distinct Byzantine flavor in its architecture, art, and clothing; something you can appreciate in the painting above. If you have ever seen Pysanky, the Ukrainian Easter Eggs, you will notice the very intricate style typical of Ukrainian design. Much of the Ukrainian traditions, designs, and dress have all but disappeared except in the remote regions.           

The current crisis in Ukraine reflects the turmoil of centuries of unrest. East Ukraine has been given the better soil and has been referred to as “the breadbasket” of Russia. While the western part of the country is grassland, where the Cossacks ruled. They had a remarkable ability to handle horses, probably in part due to their having domesticated the horse in the first place ca. 6000 years ago. The East has been coveted by Russia ever since Catherine the Great, who, in fact, was not Russian at all. She was a German princess who became the Czarina when her husband, Peter III, was murdered by her lover’s brother. She started populating the eastern area with German farmers to till its fertile fields.

It has been said, “Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.” This was not lost on Joseph Stalin (or on Vladimir Putin, for that matter). Stalin claimed Ukraine for his own and demanded unreasonable production quotas of grain. When the farmers couldn’t produce that much, he decided to “collectivize” the land (steal it) and have the state administer it.   The Ukrainian farmers, known for their independent spirit, objected. He proceeded to kill 11,000,000 of them (eleven million!) in what has become known as the Holodomor (killing by starvation), an unprecedented decimation of a people that is now recognized among the several infamous genocides of recorded history. It overshadows the Holocaust in sheer numbers of murdered humans. Stalin himself confessed this “man’s inhumanity to man” to Winston Churchill in a conversation that took place on August 16, 1942, as recorded in Churchill’s memoirs. Stalin had all the intellectuals rounded up and deported to Siberia to further eliminate resistance, where about another half-million Ukrainians (men, women, and children) died from hunger and exposure. Ukraine lost 25% of its population during the Holodomor. Eastern Ukraine was resettled with mostly ethnic Russians from the north. That is why eastern Ukraine is now Russian-speaking, Russian culturally, and Russian friendly.    

The Russians had already illegally annexed  Crimea on March 1, 2014. To show their loyalty to Putin and display their unity with the just-completed invasion of Crimea,  the trigger-happy pro-Russian “breakaway”  separatists of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, commanded by Russian Intelligence Colonel, Igor Strelkov, downed Malaysian Airline Flight 17, of July 17, 2014, with a BUK Russian missile. The flight was routed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The separatists saw this as an invasion of “their airspace”. That was the death of 283 civilian passengers, including 80 children.  The whole affair is a bitter and tragic consequence of social, economic, and military meddling with the hordes of useful idiots that were manipulated by the criminal minds of a couple of ruthless dictators, past and present, intoxicated by the elixir of limitless power. The blame was laid at the feet of Russia and Vladimir Putin by the European Court of Human Rights! Stalin set it up, and Putin lit the fuse. 


Now Putin’s mission is to rebuild the old Soviet Union. He has the old Communist revisionist version of history and is in the process of putting the pieces of the puzzle back together. Georgia, Moldova, Crimea, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and now it appears the rest of Ukraine, all are examples of how Putin plans to restore the past. It started with Stalin’s murder of one-quarter of Ukraine’s population and replacing them with Russians who now claim it as their country.      

On a personal note, my Ukrainian grandmother, on my father’s side, survived more than thirteen years of imprisonment in Siberia. When Nikita Khrushchev took over, and the de-Stalinification of Russia ensued, she was released at age 80 for her son’s crimes (my father) of evading Stalin’s clutches by escaping from the Soviet Union.    

Putin sees the opportunity to strike. The EU is totally dependent on Russia for its energy supply. We have given up our energy independence by closing the Keystone pipeline and stopping fracking. Germany has closed its nuclear power plants. We are seeing unbridled brute force from Vladimir Putin, not exactly brilliant or masterful diplomacy skills. But nevertheless, if you are not considering statesmanship, what do you expect from the mindset of a former East German-trained mid-level ex-KGB agent? Exactly what you see!

The Hand of God

Recently, I have a renewed inspiration to sculpt again, something that I have been doing off and on since I was in high school. I never had any formal training in sculpting and believe it is just a DNA thing passed down from my Father and Grandfather.
I finished a piece that just came back from the foundry. I would like to share it with you.  I call it the Hand of God. The idea of it comes from a sculptor I have long admired, Auguste Rodin, the undisputed Father of Modern Sculpture.  He sculpted over a 100 years ago in Paris, France.  This piece is not a copy of his work by the same name. Frankly, without any intended malice or envy, I think my Hand of God is better! (So how come I am not rich, famous, or undisputed anything?) But certain aspects are taken from Rodin.  The size is larger than life, which is what Rodin started doing after he was accused of using his hand and making a plaster cast of it.  I did use his idea and the name, The Hand of God, for my sculpting, and I did use my hand but as a model, not a plaster cast, and it is, as Auguste recommends, larger than life-size.  Rodin’s sculpting had what looks like the hand is holding an embracing couple, while mine holds the globe of the world, a bit of reflective difference in Rodin and my Weltanschauung (world view.) I recently learned from Legalzoom that one could copyright works of art, so I did just that. If you copy it, I hope to collect a small fortune from you for copyright infringement. I seem to be on a sculpting kick and have several other projects in the works, all based on the hand motif. Hands are one of the real challenges that many artists often avoid because of the complexities and technical difficulties of making it look like a human hand. I hope to have a small exhibit at the Santa Paula Museum of Art in the near future, and you can judge for yourself.


Auguste Rodin   The Hand of God  

Rodin Museum, Paris, France

Gösta Iwasiuk

Gösta Iwasiuk  Hand of God, Santa Paula, California

 

 

 


 

 [GI1]

A THREAT TO OUR EXISTENCE

History has shown us indubitably that vaccination is the best weapon we have against most infectious diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, influenza, tetanus, hepatitis, pertussis, chickenpox, diphtheria, meningitis, and more to the point, Covid -19.  The argument that “I am healthy, exercise every day, and eat right,” is not valid as that does not provide even a shred of protection for any infection, especially not Covid-19.  The argument that having had Covid-19 should exempt you from vaccination is also flawed.  Firstly there is very little data on immunity after infection. Fully one-third of people who had Covid-19 generated no antibody response. The immunity from the disease is variable and not as reliable as vaccine immunity. Another study out of Israel gives reason to have more doubts about the quality of that immunity. The breakthrough events, defined as getting infected again after either having had the disease or getting vaccinated, occur at twice the rate in natural immunity as in vaccine acquired immunity. This suggests that even though an individual has had the disease, immunization is still required, in opposition to the opinion of what one US Senator says.

Herd immunity is acquired by a population when there is no more of a reservoir for the virus to infect, and therefore the virus cannot multiply and cannot mutate. The risk of mutation is a major reason to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent the next, possibly more lethal virus that may or may not be susceptible to the vaccines. That level of immunity is said to be a minimum of 80%.  Current worldwide immunity is at 35%, not even halfway there. 
There are many reasons why worldwide immunity is so low. The poor nations do not have the infrastructure and funds. The wealthy nations have pushback from the people that are anti-vaxxers for a variety of reasons: lack of education, fear, religious objection, genuine medical contraindication to the vaccine, and just plain stubborn ignorance.
There are efforts to get the poorer nations to meet their needs through private and public actions. Vaccine hesitancy is another major obstacle.  China, through mandates that only an autocratic government is able to muster, has reached the goal of herd immunity and is beginning to relax its mandated programs. It is now focusing on segments of the population that need more attention, such as those that were missed in the first round or need a booster. 

To date, there are 21 countries that are in the process of various levels of mandates from rigorous, such as no vaccination no job, or the unvaccinated are simply shut out of their economy, including denial of hospital admission, to more lenient attitudes such as a vaccine passport or frequent testing.  That list should give you a hint as to the conviction all these nations have of the need and urgency to do this! These countries all, by and large, are democracies and have public health agencies that have found it necessary, despite all the effort to do this on a voluntary basis, to implement methods that require a more aggressive demand for compliance:
Australia                 Indonesia               Russia          
Britain                     Italy                       Saudi Arabia
Canada                   Kazakhstan          Sri Lanka
Costa Rica              Lebanon               Switzerland
Fiji                           Malta                    Turkey
France                    Micronesia            Turkmenistan
Hungary                 Netherlands          United States

It has become obvious that mandates will be necessary for most countries to achieve the herd immunity we need. I realize that this will bring much resistance and even potential violence. But this has been necessary for past situations, even in our Democracy. A threat to our existence is a powerful motivator. When we are threatened by annihilation from another country, for example, we will arm ourselves and shoot (to kill) the enemy. This is not the first time we have done this! People that refuse to participate (known as draft dodgers) are put in jail. When existence is at stake (and 700,000 deaths are getting very close to the level of an existential threat), we have in the past restricted civil rights, even imprisoned innocent people, with no due process whom we judged to be a threat. 

To demonstrate what fear of a perceived threat can do, if you have not done so, I would suggest you visit Manzanar in central California, one of the prison camps for Americans of Japanese descent during WWII (120,000)– two-thirds of whom were born and raised in the United States of America!

AFGHANISTAN

As George Santayana, the philosopher, and my role model for writing said, “Those that do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it!” I do believe we made a mistake and forgot our past and now are doomed. To recount what I know about Afghanistan, I need to tell you a little of my own history. It starts with my first girlfriend, who lived next door to me in a huge mental asylum of some 7000 inmates. Before you jump to any conclusions, both our fathers were doctors at that institution. As part of their compensation, we lived on the grounds of this 200-acre compound.  There was the entire gamut of mental diseases hospitalized there, from harmless demented old men and women who just existed until they faded away, to dangerous schizophrenic mass murderers. My desire since age six was to be a doctor like my father, so I followed my father around, saw unbelievable events from violent people getting lobotomized (cutting the brain connections from the front part of the brain to the rest of the brain that made them into vegetables) to suicides who jumped off a tall structure right in front of my house, reminiscent of the recent events in Kabul.

It was a very disturbing but exciting time for me. My relationship with Leila, confounded by her younger brother, Merrill, who delighted in surfacing from behind couches where we were doing what teenagers do, soon ended because her father found a better job in Dayton, Ohio, and the family moved just as we were getting friendly.  Although our families continued our friendship, and Leila went to the University of Indiana in Bloomington’s School of Music, where she was already an accomplished pianist, and eventually would go professional.  We continued our relationship despite the distances between Peoria, where I went to Bradley University and she to IU.

What was the Afghani connection? Leila’s father, an Afghan, was sent by his government to study medicine in Germany during World War II.  Although Afghanistan remained neutral in World War II, Germany and Afghanistan were allies.  Her father became a surgeon.  He was specifically groomed to become the personal physician of the King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah. Mir Nisam, her father, met and married a Jewish girl in Germany, not a good time to marry into a Jewish family.  But because he had diplomatic immunity, he was able to leave Germany with his new bride and her brother to his homeland and his job as the physician of the King.  His wife had to learn new customs, a new culinary style, new dress fashion, and a new language. The King, who was educated in France, established a Constitutional Monarchy. He imported many modern concepts of government but eventually ran into troubles with civil unrest, Mir Nisam MD decided to leave the country.  The King was treasonably deposed by his brother-in-law and left for Italy.

In our early school years, my sister and I would have access to the Afgan court clothing from both parents of Leila.  We had great fun playing dress-up with real vestments of the Afghani court. Leila and I met once more when I went to Med. School at UCLA, and she continued in graduate studies of music at USC.  But as is common with high school romances, we lost touch. I do remember the one dish that her mother taught me to make, Afgan rice, which remains a standard dish for our family celebrations, especially at Thanks Giving.  

Afghanistan was like a fairy tale to me, hearing all the court intrigue and the history of this far away land, the different foods, and different customs my family learned from the Nisams. Leila being half Afghani and half German, was a striking beauty with some of the Asiatic Persian and European features melded into one person.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan has turned into, pardon my profanity, the “shithole” of the world.  How did that happen? It was Hitler that claimed that Persia, Iran, Afghanistan were Aryian.  Few people know how Persia changed its name to Iran. Hitler personally convinced Shah Pahlavi to rename Persia, Iran, for Indo-Arian.  In Hitler’s construct of world history, the Aryian migrations of 50,000 years ago gave rise to the early cities of Afghanistan. Alexander the Great and later Genghis Khan would rule Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah Durrani, the first of the  Pashtun kings, marked the origin of modern Afghanistan in the 18th Century. The last King of Afghanistan, born of the aristocracy that had ruled Afghanistan for two centuries, Mohammed Zahir Shah, educated in France, took the throne in 1933 until his brother-in-law ousted him in 1973, who in turn was ousted by the Soviets that ruled for ten years. The Russians had bad experiences in Afghanistan. With Carter’s undercover support and later the Reagan administration’s help, the Mujahideen, Afghan warlords, chased out the Russians. But the various factions squabbled among themselves and could not find common ground.  One faction, the Taliban, won out. They ruled the country from 1996 until 2001. The Taliban is a hardline radical Islamic group who support strict Sharia Law of public execution by beheadings and stoning, including cutting off hands or feet for theft and petty crimes. Men are required to grow beards, women have to wear all-covering burkas, television, photography, music, and cinema are forbidden, girls are banned from going to school. Teachers that taught in girl schools were executed in the streets. The Taliban destroyed the historical monuments of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, 6th-century carvings. They massacred thousands of Afghans and denied food to 160,000 starving civilians, all in all cruel and uncivilized people.  

When the Taliban was ousted in 2001 King Mohammad Zahir Shah had a brief return after 29 years of exile. He was named “the Father of the Nation” in Afghanistan’s Constitution. There was even talk of his returning the monarchy to the country, but it was not to be. Hamid Karzai, a fellow Pashtun tribesman, and the country’s President at the time, announced the King’s passing on July 23, 2007.  

In 2001 the US, in response to 9/11 and the unwillingness or inability of the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden sent in special forces who toppled the Taliban in just two months.  It was Barack Obama who increased the troop deployment in the Afghan state to 100,000 troops. In 2010 Julian Assange complicated things further by a massive leak of secret files known as the WikiLeaks with out-of-context information on the Afgan war. On May 2, 2011, a small team of US special forces located bin Laden in Pakistan and killed him. By 2014 Obama decided to end the combat troops and left 13,000 as support troops. That same year a new leader, Ashraf Ghani took over from Hamid Karzai.  Trump took office in 2016 with the plan of further drawing down the troops from 5,000 starting in 2020.  There were only 2500 troops by this year, 2021. All the while, the Taliban was gaining strength.  It was clear to everyone that the Taliban had to be involved in the governance of Afghanistan because without them, no government could survive for very long. Meetings with high-level Taliban, including former leaders whom we had captured and imprisoned, were now set free to take part in the negotiations. Secretary Pompeo made it clear to the Taliban that no harm should come to any Americans or Afghans that helped us during this drawdown, and indeed as agreed, no casualties occurred.   

It was Biden and his team that changed the rules. I am certain that this would have played out differently under the Trump team. With Biden’s fanatic need to destroy anything that had Trump’s mark on it, he erased the restraints that Trump had placed on the Taliban. But we also showed the world and the Afghan army what a weak country we had become in such a short time.  We could not control our own cities’ violence as Seattle and Portland were burning and Chicago and New York were exploding in a hail of bullets. We were defunding the police. Our military leaders were vastly more interested in “Wokeism” and teaching CRT than protecting us, our allies, and strategic planning to keep the world safe. Our Congress was more involved in dismantling carbon-based energy and going from energy independence to begging the Middle East and Russia to give us more of precious oil. The final straw that convinced them of our weakness was how our last few weeks of the withdrawal were executed; amateurish, feeble, and incompetent are what the rest of the world, both allies and enemies, think, despite what Biden says. It is not how a major world power deals with a disorganized, uncivilized, uneducated band of 70,000 hillbillys with cell phones (aka the Taliban).  The writing was on the wall that America was no longer capable of supporting the legitimate Afghan government anymore. There was general agreement that 20 years of military support was long enough. Four presidents have tried to disengage, but to shut down our airbases and pull out the military first before evacuating civilians both American citizens and the Afghans that helped us, as well as our weapons, tanks, and helicopters has to go down as one of the more stupid military moves in all of history going back to the stone age. No wonder the Afghan military threw away their weapons, went into hiding, or fled the country any way they could, including in our Black Hawk Helicopters. The Taliban saw their chance to act out their most barbaric behaviors with what they recognized as a weak leader in the Whitehouse and a country that had lost its moral compass. It took them less than ten days to overrun the country with none of the restraining threats the Trump administration had promised. The Taliban, we see now, are the same people that came to power in 1996. They are older now, and their sons are with them, and not much different.  There are, however, various factions within the Taliban.  The real religious fanatics have not yet gotten to Kabul.  They are centered in Kandahar and are working their way to Kabul.  We may see much more humanitarian abuses once they get there. But from what we have seen so far, the Taliban is just as crazy as it was in 1996. What they have shown us has not been a new Taliban. They are the ones that surround the Hamid Karzai airport and beat, shoot, and otherwise prevent Americans and Afghans from getting to the planes that would evacuate them in diametrical opposition to their own interest. So much for the picture that our deluded President paints.

We froze assets the Taliban and the former Afghan government had in the US, billions of dollars!  There are 30,000,000 inhabitants of Afghanistan.  The economy has been destroyed, with no people earning a living, no income for anyone.  The Taliban has no means to feed the people.  How long are they going to withstand 30,000,000 demanding food, energy sources, health care, and a livelihood? Where are the smart Taliban leaders? It does not appear the Taliban has thought this through!

Afghanistan is a mess that will haunt us for decades.  Political blunders, weak leaders, stupid decisions, idiotic events, religious fervor, zealotry, mental illness, corruption, lack of coordination, and the pathologic hatred between the Trump and Biden teams which did not allow for a coordinated transfer of power.  Also, our country’s recent display of weakness, inability to control crime, inability to control our borders, inability to control the pandemic, misguided political agendas, inconsistent economics, upward spiraling inflation, continued problems with unemployment despite companies with the inability to find workers to fill their jobs.  If you think these are not all interrelated, you are living in a fairytale. This has all played a major role in needlessly creating a disaster with potentially thousands of murders. It will take years to sort out who is the most guilty in this human tragedy. But I have my theories.

Where Does the Buck Stop?

How predictable the left is.  In the face of clear errors of omission and commission, that border on incompetence or worse, our President is being defended, supported, and even urged on by the blind left.  It was the Afghan army’s lack of will to fight in the face of the Afghan mortality rate that in one year was greater than all of the US mortality in 20 years! It is highly unlikely the Afghan soldier would rather just get killed than fight. It was the Afghan political leadership that left before they too would be murdered. How cowardly of them. The left says it was Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban over a year ago, really?

Biden issued over 60 executive orders in his first 100 days, more than any other President, most of them an effort to destroy Trump policies: the wall, the Keystone pipeline, the fracking, multiple regulatory policies that deal with the environment,  energy, immigration, equity, economy, etc. How did he miss the Afghan withdrawal? He reversed everything else, including dismantling a system designed to protect American citizens trapped abroad — just months before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, stranding thousands of Americans in the Central Asian country.  Ahh! He must have been honor-bound to comply with a deal made by Trump, even after the Taliban ignored all of Trump’s conditions and spit on the documents. After pointing the finger at everyone but himself, Biden’s plagiarizing Truman’s line, “The Buck stops here!” doesn’t quite cover it. It does, however, point to Biden’s affinity to use other people’s words to cover his own failures. Although a good soundbite, his finger-pointing clearly points to the fact that Buck barely pauses here. Ultimately Biden has multiple other places where he claims the Buck actually does stop.

He is not telling us the truth that he had no other options, but clearly, the one our President took was not the correct one.  It is a repeat of the disgrace of Saigon. This is a repeat lesson of how not to do it!

This is the greatest National Defeat since 9/11.  It is a stain on our Nation’s honor and will affect us for decades.  What do you think our enemies like China and Russia are thinking?  We have a doddering old weakling in the Whitehouse.  That was exactly what the Japanese leadership thought and acted on the morning of December 7, 1941.  What about the nations that depend on us? Taiwan, South Korea, Europe, Japan, and others who are left with an ally they clearly cannot trust anymore.  It will spill over into other aspects of international negotiations as well.  Trade with other nations will now be looked at with a perspective of a weak inferior nation that does not have the clout to deal from a position of strength.  Cybersecurity will be at greater risk given our weakened position.  The greatest concern is terrorism. 

The Taliban won and now have a new base from which to attack us. Al Qaeda was not supposed to be given a venue in Afghanistan by Trump’s deal.  They are there already.  And they are not knitting doilies. They are ruthless medieval minds, and I do mean evil, who have plans for us! Unfortunately, this world is the good guys against the bad guys.  And if the bad guys have more guns, they will subjugate us sooner or later. I am dismayed by the silence from the women in power in this country.  Where is Kamala, Liz Chaney, AOC, Cori Bush, etc.? Women are being raped, forced into so-called “Islamic marriages” (aka sex slaves), and denied education, a profession, a job.  They cannot dress like the rest of the women of this world. There are reports that women who are not in a Burka are shot in the streets of Kabul. Where is the “Me Too” movement when you need them? Girls who go to school will be evicted or worse – shot in the head as Malala Yousafzai found out. These people have medieval minds with whom you cannot discuss or change them. Radical Islam is indeed radical. They openly tell us what they believe and will do. They reject modernity and do all they can to take Islam back to the middle ages. They have announced they will return Afghanistan to Sharia Law. If you want an evening of horror, read what Sharia Law is. They consider it their duty to convert the infidels (us), and if they can’t, to kill them. We should not be surprised as we have similar medieval thinking in nearly half of our own population who will not accept evidence, logic, science to get the lifesaving Covid vaccine, and they are US-educated, unlike the Taliban. Luckily these brainiacs do not have power over us (yet).  If they did, I suspect they would be just like the Taliban.

Biden is left to try to rectify his bungling with really no one to step up to help him. But I think he really is not capable of dealing with this alone.  We are stuck with a lame duck with no one in the wings to save thousands of people from slaughter.