WAR CRIMINAL (a brief preview of my new book)
It is now official. Putin has an arrest warrant issued by the I.C.C. (International Criminal Court) for War Crimes. War Crimes are serious violations of customary and treaty law rules that are classified as criminal offenses for which there is individual responsibility. Andriy Kostin, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, has registered more than 65,000 Russian war crimes so far in the one-year conflict. 16,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly taken hostage and taken into Russia. Seventy-five thousand civilian structures have been turned into rubble. Half of Ukraine has lost its energy sector, which has caused much suffering by civilians even freezing to death. Russia has become a pariah state, and Putin has been justly labeled a war criminal. After World War II, a special tribunal was created, the Nürnberg Tribunal, and 16 war criminals were executed, and many more were given prison terms from 10 to 20 years. Putin certainly qualifies and would need to be executed by Nürnberg standards. In 1899 the Hague convention created the first formal “Laws of War” that set standards that the combatants could not violate. Subsequently, others have been tried, the most notorious of whom are Slobodan Milosevic for genocide, Adolf Eichmann for complicity in the Holocaust, William Calley for his role in the Mỹ Lai massacre, and Muammar Gaddafi, who ordered the shutdown of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, with 270 fatalities, but he was killed before he could be tried. It would be an appropriate designation for Putin if Flight M.A.S. 17, shot down over Donetsk Oblast, could be memorialized in that fashion for a future historical reminder of a brutal murderer.
“They will find a way to kill the killer!” said Vladimir Zelensky, “I just don’t know when.” Putin’s inner circle eventually may come to that conclusion to stop the insanity and rescue what is left of Russia. Russia has been decimated militarily and as a country. 200,000 Russian men of military age have been removed from the workforce, and the husbands and fathers that are so necessary for the families of Russia. 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers are dead, not counting the 18,000 Ukrainian civilian casualties. As many as 1,000,000 people are said to have left Russia, mostly the more educated and professionals. Over 8,000,000 have fled from Ukraine. Believe me, Putin has thought of his culpability for all the military, and civilian deaths that will be brought up in his trial should Russia lose. It must give him trouble going to sleep at night even if he uses his new hyperbaric Oxygen tank bed, just like Michael Jackson, which is meant to make him live longer. I could recommend a doctor formerly employed by Jackson to help him sleep. I am sure the doctor has learned from his past mistakes!
The atrocities committed at Bucha on Putin’s orders are enough to make him a candidate for a war criminal. (Just a little reminder for the three Stooges Congress people and Tucker Carlson that they are promoting a war criminal as heinous as Göring and Hitler, just in case they didn’t realize it). He has already made plans for the escape should he need to do so. Various places have been mentioned, like a permanent spot at the Space Station, where Russia has some real estate. But the most likely is Venezuela. He has friends there, and with his hefty bank accounts in several Swiss banks, he will hardly suffer. He could sell his former housekeeper and lover, Svetlana Krivonogikh’s Monaco apartments if all else fails. Svetlana has come into quite a bit of money, $102,000,000. Housekeepers earn quite a bit when working under the right person. The other option is the Swiss Chalet near Lugano which has been on the market for $75,000,000 Swiss Francs, just a little over $82,000,000 US dollars, where he is hiding his current girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, along with her children.
Putin is in an untenable position that he alone has created. He is on the wrong side of International Law regarding annexing Crimea and the southeastern Oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. He is also losing the war. All Russian Czars that lost Wars have not been in power too long after their failures. He also knows that if he brings out “Nukes,” there is a good chance he will destroy the World, which I believe his inner circle, who are not interested in suicide, will not let him do. He has ruined Ukraine, he has ruined Russia, and he has killed at least 39 Oligarchs, important scientists, and politicians, along with 300,000 or more Russians and Ukrainians. How much longer can “THEY” tolerate him and his minions?
The arrest warrant for Putin, issued by the International Criminal Court, was met with apparent indifference as a useless piece of paper. But in fact, it did make all those obscure dark creatures that inhabit the Kremlin concerned that they could be the next Heinrich Himmler or Joseph Göbbels, both of whom did not fare so well at the Nürnberg (Nuremberg) Trials, choosing suicide over execution by hanging.
Some on the ultra-right say we are spending too much for Ukraine when we should worry about the Fentanyl crisis, the Southern Border, and not enough baby food in grocery stores. How exactly not supporting Ukraine is going to solve those problems is a mystery to me. Aid to Ukraine has cost us peanuts compared to the total U.S. defense budget of $715 billion a year. Our cost for Ukrainian support has been $40 billion for 2022, money well spent to degrade the military of a previously formidable opponent and expose his weakness! We would never have guessed that Russia, one of the major world powers, could be contained this cheaply! The cost to defeat Hitler was $ 4.1 trillion, along with 50 million lives—something we do not want to repeat. To date, not one American soldier was lost to Russia.
The view that our support of Ukraine is unduly costing our taxpayers and that we have no business in interfering in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia unmasks an incredibly shortsighted worldview, very reminiscent of our view when Hitler marched into Poland on September 1, 1939. It took the U.S. over two years to conclude Hitler had to be stopped. It is the same reason Putin must be stopped now! It will be much costlier for us to disregard the clear and present danger in terms of dollars and lives! “The bang for the buck” has been well worth it, not counting the preview China got if they are thinking of doing the same to Taiwan! And, for that matter, anybody else emboldened by apparent military weakness. The World is a dangerous place with bellicose countries just looking for an opening to pounce, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia. Just saying stocking grocery stores with more baby food will not help that!
More than two millennia ago, Plato, in his book, The Republic, book 1, pointed out the view of Socrates that “justice requires strength.” That was the unfortunate truth 2,398 years ago, which is still true today. If we can show strength with just $40 billion rather than $4.1 trillion, we are ahead of the game despite what the three Stooges, Matt Gaetz, Loraine Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene said.
Let us learn from history and not repeat the mistakes of the past. I’ll take Socrates over M.T.G. any day!
The Truth About Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
THE TRUTH ABOUT VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH PUTIN
I have finished my fourteenth book, The Truth About Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. In it, I start with his early life, his rise to power, and his current mindset. I muse about his sanity and present data that questions it. This man could start World War III and wipe out life as we know it! Many of his public statements are propaganda that are grotesque distortions of the truth. He is still fighting World War II, and his enemies are still the Nazis. My book explains why that is utter nonsense, but in one respect, his march into Ukraine is very reminiscent of Hitler’s march into Poland, and it may just lead us to the same place Hitler wanted to go. His idea that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people is also a spurious argument. Spain and Portugal have similar origins and languages, but that is hardly a justification for one country invading the other.
Nevertheless, he has convinced many that he is the virtuous one who is trying to set things right. My insight into Vladimir Vladimirovich is from growing up in a Ukrainian home with Ukrainian parents who had spent most of their life dealing with deranged autocratic dictators who had also committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
I chose the picture of Putin, which I photoshopped for my book cover, as a maniacal monkey grabbing a club with his left hind leg because that is how I see him. Putin miscalculated big time! In his delusional World, where he thought he could recreate the Imperial Russia of Peter the Great, he assumed that Ukraine would be crushed in days. He could just walk into Kyiv and arrest Vladimir Zelensky, likely put on a kangaroo show trial, then execute him and live happily ever after. That did not happen. Surprisingly, what was thought to be the most effective Intelligence Organization in the World, the former legendary K.G.B., now F.S.B. (Federal Security Service), could not figure out that Ukrainians do not like Russians and are not the same people, nor have they been for centuries, and furthermore Putin has a warped sense of history that does not correspond to what the scholars say.
My Father was born in Ukraine and considered himself Ukrainian, like millions of other Ukrainians did and still do. 92.3% of the Ukrainian population affirmed the desire for independence and separation from the Soviet Union in a referendum conducted in 1991 by the democratically elected unicameral Parliament. Ukrainian culture goes back hundreds of years. The Cossacks who formed the kernel of the culture were influenced by Lithuania, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire long before Russia even existed. Ukrainian was my Father’s first language which he spoke all his life, especially when he spoke to my mother so that he didn’t want me to understand until I, too, started laughing at off-color jokes he would tell her. I did not study in K.G.B. school as Putin did, but I have known since childhood that the two countries were, at best grudging neighbors. When someone visits you, a Ukrainian custom dating back to Kievan Rus is to give them bread and salt. The bread symbolizes wealth, and the salt is the purity of the soul. Putin envisioned people streaming out of their homes with bread and salt in hand, welcoming the Russian soldiers. Instead, they were met with bullets.
There were clear signs that Ukraine would resist a Russian occupation. Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians, along with my uncle, and imprisoned millions more in Siberia, including my Grandmother. He forbade the Ukrainian language to be spoken, taught in schools, or even written. Hundreds, and even more, who dared speak Ukrainian were killed or imprisoned and even committed suicide. It was not until the 1960s that Ukrainian could freely be spoken in Russia. That does not engender feelings of mutual fondness, and people do remember and pass on their memory to the next generation. Eight years ago, the Maidan Protests in Kyiv chased out the pro-Russian “puppet” President, Victor Yanukovych, to Russia. Shortly after that, Putin illegally annexed Crimea. That prompted 140,000 people to leave Crimea. Crimeans saw how their population was treated by the Russian thugs. They also saw that Putin created a Kleptocracy that stole from the Russian people. He could not have amassed $200,000,000,000, built eight palaces for himself, and bought six mega yachts on his K.G.B. salary. Bombing hospitals and schools are not considered civilized and constitute war crimes that in the past have qualified those war criminals for the death penalty. That gives you a clue of how untrustworthy and uncivilized the Putin regime is. It guarantees a festering wound between the Ukrainian and Russian people that may not heal for many decades, regardless of who wins.
My book explains why Ukraine has little choice. And why we must support them to avoid paying the same price we did to defeat that other dictator, Adolf Hitler, the spirit of whom Putin still claims to be fighting. Helping Ukraine is not charity (as some of our short-sighted Congress members claim). It is an investment in restoring the World order and securing our own safety from people that have no moral compass and no conscience. The book will be available on Amazon.com by April 1st.
Moldova, about the size of Maryland, has not been on my radar until recently when I learned that Putin is fomenting a revolution in Moldova to destabilize it. Moldova is southwest of Ukraine with a thin land ribbon between it and Ukraine called Transnistria. Moldova was part of the Soviet block. When the USSR broke apart, Moldova became an independent democratic state just like Ukraine. The small ribbon of land forming the most easterly border of Moldova wanted to stay with Moscow. The people that want to remain with Russia are considered to be a “breakaway” group of pro-Russians loyal to Moscow, even though the most recent count shows forty percent of the population is Moldovian, only about a third of its population is Russian-speaking and Russian-culturally, and a fourth is Ukrainian. Nevertheless, Russia stationed 1500 Russian troops there “to protect it” from being taken over by Moldova. All of NATO and the rest of the world do not recognize Transnistria as a separate state and see it as currently illegally occupied by Russia.
Moldova is neutral at this time, but it has had a varied past. A mix of people settled there, Germans, Austrians, Romanians, Ukrainians, and of course, Russians. Although Moldova was never part of Austro-Hungary, parts of it (Bukovina) were annexed. My Grandfather, a portrait painter struggling to make a living there, likely was in that turmoil of unrest. So he decided around the turn of the previous century to migrate, and like most Jews, the ideal place was Jerusalem, which he decided to do, briefly stopping in Czernowitz, Bukovina, to meet up with my Grandmother-to-be.
So with the recent collapse of the Moldovian government and what has been euphemistically called “the little green men” Russia sent to take over Crimea in 2014 started appearing in Moldova, my Moldovian genes started to flash the red lights. That is how it started in Crimea. Green camouflaged uniformed men with automatic weapons and no insignia on their uniforms started taking over public buildings, rounding up people, and confining them; basically taking over the country by armed force, creating civil unrest, holding public officials hostage, or just making them disappear. That is what Russians do.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with a GDP per capita at $17,779 (GDP is the total value of all goods and services of a country divided by its population) compared to the US at $75,180. Its 2.6 million people are deeply affected by the Ukrainian war next door with energy shortages, pressure from an influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine, an inflation rate in excess of 30%, and now having to deal with the Russian Secret Service trying to undermine its government. Russia has already shot missiles into Moldova as well. Putin is holding all the cards. If Moldova falls into Russian hands, it will be a major disaster for Ukraine, which now would have its southwestern border as an enemy as well.
This is what Tucker Carlson, Lauren Boebert, and MTG fail to understand. Putin is not honorable, smart, clever, or reasonable. He is a former KGB operative. Nothing is off the table. He will bomb, kill, destroy, and take over whatever he needs to gain his objectives, which are to make Russia great again. This means the West (us) must be weakened or preferably destroyed. All his actions up until now point to it.
Ukraine is not the endpoint, and neither is Moldova. Poland, then the Baltic countries, London and Berlin, are in his crosshairs too! His propagandists have said so. If that happens, there is no way the US can stay out of it. I wish all those people who want to cut Ukraine off should be in the front trenches. They should be grateful that Ukraine is fighting and dying for them this very moment.
It has now been established without a doubt by irrefutable intelligence, intercepted communications, and an International Joint Investigation Team of experts from the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, and Ukraine that Putin was personally behind the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 with a BUK missile he supplied and gave the OK to shoot down, 280 civilians with 80 children aboard. He gives orders to specifically bomb maternity hospitals and apartment buildings, which has been verified by captured pilots, and cannot be denied just by looking at the pictures of the bombed-out buildings. He has given orders to drain a water reservoir in Ukraine that would deprive a million people of water and damage the ecology of thousands of acres. His list of war crimes rivals the cruelest monsters in history. He sends untrained Russian soldiers into war, knowing they will be ground up in a meat grinder. He has created a kleptocracy (a government led by criminals that steal from its people). He has amassed obscene personal wealth beyond belief that clearly is the product of theft and corruption. He has been behind dozens (if not more) of assassinations, all documented. He is a murderous psychopath who has tremendous power and no conscience.
Mozart, the Requiem, and the Autobahn
I was born in Linz Austria. Mozart was born in Salzburg. Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart, his parents, gave their first and only son the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. When he was 21 years of age, it was trendy to Latinize your name, and he chose to change Theophilus (Greek for loved by God) to Amadé, the French version of Amadeus, the Latin version he rarely used. Here is his signature as he wrote it.
The two cities are about 66 miles apart; it takes roughly an hour to get from one to the other, especially given that there is no speed limit on the Autobahn. I remember driving to Salzburg with the family. I was driving a Ford van with a four-cylinder engine and was trying to pass a long truck pulling a trailer. I barely saw the tiny image of the distant Mercedes limo in my rearview mirror when I pulled out to pass. By the time I got to the front of the truck, despite having the accelerator pressed to the floor, the Mercedes was only 100 feet from my rear bumper, furiously flashing its lights but maintaining his speed in excess of 100 mph. It seemed that he fully intended just to drive us into the ditch or just drive over us. I was barely able to get to the safety of the right lane when the Mercedes passed and pulled in front of me with palpable anger. As previously mentioned, there is no speed limit on the Autobahn, and people have a certain “get off my road attitude.” It is that drive from Linz to Saltzbug that will always remind me of Mozart’s Requiem (music for the dead.) We were so lucky to get to the birth town of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart alive.
I am not sure why Mozart is my favorite composer. Is it that we were from the same corner of the world, or is it because, during my formative years, I heard a lot of organ, choral, and orchestral versions of Mozart’s liturgical music in my role as an altar boy in the Catholic Church? My favorite is, in fact, the Requiem, which I want at my own interment ceremony, hopefully not anytime soon. It was also Fredrick Chopin’s request at his funeral when he died in Paris. It was quite a chore to get it approved to have women in the choir, which was forbidden at the time in France. The work has +- eight parts, some of which have subdivisions, full orchestra, and choir, mostly in minor keys that is intended for somber music. The Introduction is followed by the Kyrie (Lord), the Dies Irae (day of wrath), Tuba Mirum (hark the trumpet), Rex Tremendae (King of tremendous majesty), Recordae (remember), Confutatis (the accursed) my favorite, followed by the Lacrimosa (tears), yielding to the Offertorium, then the Sanctus, the Benedictus, Agnus Dei (lamb of God), and finally the Communio which recapitulates the music of the first two movements. If you have not seen the movie Amadeus, it is one you should not miss, one of the best movies ever. Director Miloš Forman did accurately portray the life of the late 1700s and the flavor of the times. The film got eleven Academy nominations and won seven, including Best Picture. One of the great scenes is the creation of the Requiem as Mozart is dying. Although not historically accurate, it is, in my opinion, a scene with great pathos and fantastic music to boot.
Actually, the Requiem is indeed shrouded in mystery and intrigue. It was commissioned and paid for by a stranger who likely was going to pass it off as his own work. Mozart started working on it in July of 1791. He worked on it obsessively, and many historians think he had a premonition of death which, as it turned out, came true. This was going to be his own “Swan Song.” He had the first part done but only sketched out the rest. He died December 5, 1791, before he could finish it. One of his students, Franz Süβmayr, to whom Mozart had given extensive instructions along with his rough draft for its completion, did finish it at Mozart’s wife’s (Constanze) request as she was desperate to keep the commission. It was Beethoven who said, “If Mozart did not write the Requiem, it was a Mozart who did!” If you have never heard it, I highly recommend putting it on your “bucket list!” Furthermore, try to avoid driving on the Autobahn if you can help it.
THE AZORES, A LOST PARADISE
In 1969 all men born between January 1943 and December 1950 received notice from the Selective Service System (the Draft Board) to report for duty in the military. I was born in 1943, so I was eminently qualified. I was in a Residency Training Program for General Practice that finished in July of 1970. In August 1970, I was sent to Witchita Falls, Texas, for basic training. I never thought that a doctor would be taught how to march, shoot, and crawl under barbed wire, with live gunfire above (at least that is what they told us), but I was. The US had just included Cambodia in the Vietnam War. I was expecting to go to Vietnam.
But then a miracle happened! I was sent to Portugal as an Air Force Captain. I was able to bring my wife, and we were stationed on Tercera, the third largest island in the Azorian archipelago, a virtual paradise. The Azores were the first place Christopher Columbus stopped on his transoceanic trip to discover the Americas. The church where he prayed for guidance still stands and was the site of many a picnic we had with our Air Force friends. Angra de Heroismo is the largest town of about 35,000 inhabitants. Frédéric Chopin also stopped there during his search for a place that would be better for his lungs, which were besieged by the Tubercle Bacillus. I even sat at the piano, where he gave an impromptu concert for Angra. If you ever get to Angra, you must try the regional specialty, “Alcatra Regional,” a beef stew cooked in an earthen pot on charcoal, which is absolutely outstanding.
Our base was composed of about 4,000 troops, mostly Air Force, but there were also Marines who did the security, the Navy who surprisingly did the flying, and Air Force that did the support, including the hospital. I “fought the war” for the next two years on a semi-tropical island doing health care for basically healthy young people. We bravely kept every Viet Cong from making landfall there. I didn’t know it then, but it was probably the best time of my life. I was young, full of energy and enthusiasm. There was a lot of time to pursue hobbies. I learned to work with wood in their wood hobby shop. Mary and I built shelves using an Acacia tree, the hardest wood in the Azores, that was split just for us. We also built a copy of a 15th-century Savanarola Florentine chair. I became a more sophisticated photographer and even learned to Scuba Dive to look for treasure. Lobster was plentiful in the Atlantic just for the taking, and we did. The harbor near our house had been the scene of great battles between the English and Spanish with treasure ships laden with gold that were sunk by Sir Francis Drake. Unfortunately, all we ever found was a few barnacles-encrusted canons and the occasional shark that lost its way. But sculpting was my favorite hobby. I had always loved to sculpt. My beautiful wife served as a model for several works, one of which is seen here.
It is Time to Find Better Candidates for President
Democrats and Republicans need to find other candidates for the 2024 presidential election. Both Biden and Trump are damaged goods and furthermore too old with extra baggage we do not need! I would advise, as Elon Musk, that they should ride off into the sunset. With all the smart people around, surely they can find someone who did not storm the US Capital with an armed group to reverse an election or a president who botched the withdrawal of US forces from a nation we had protected for 20 years, causing thousands of people to lose their life, condemning millions of women to a life of servitude and minority status, not unlike in the middle ages, not to mention stealing their educational opportunities and giving away trillions in military equipment.
Who was responsible for leaving Afghanistan in such a disorganized fashion when all his military advisers counseled against it? And who incited hundreds of people to carry weapons and threaten to hang the Vice-President, when all his advisers told him that he had lost the election. I can only think of two people, neither of whom listen to their counselors. Both are know-it-alls! They have lost my respect, and both forfeit their leadership roles, especially the most important position in our government. How can any reasonable person support either man who is so clearly unfit for the highest office in the land? If you succeed in getting either man elected, you will on the one hand, get a bumbling demented man who cannot put two sentences together without flubbing the teleprompter lines and on the other, a self-absorbed narcissist who is bent on avenging himself on all those that opposed him. Neither take advice nor listen to their advisers. Both of them lack good judgment. How about we find wiser candidates with new visions of a Country based on Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all who respond to their Electorate and Cabinet? The actions of both these two “loose canons” should clue you into their unhinged minds, regardless of cause, be it age-related cognitive problems or a personality disorder.
We especially do not need leadership that brings us 9.1% inflation with a looming recession. We do not need self-absorbed people who go through advisers like worn-out shoes, discarding them for the most inane reasons. We do not need octogenarians (I hasten to add that I am one of them). Many of that age have the beginning or worse of deteriorating cerebral cortexes, who cannot reason logically anymore, and have a variety of medical and mental issues that interfere with their function, like walking, talking, thinking, comprehending, or administering the largest most powerful nation in the world.
At age 65, 20% of individuals have some degree of cognitive deterioration. It doubles every 10 years so that by age 80 about 50% have some cognitive malfunction. Does it make any sense to look for leadership in a group where half of the people have cognitive decline?
We need to go back to our roots, our beginnings when the Age of Reason gave us men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Yes, these men had flaws, as we all do, but they were great thinkers who could overcome their prejudices and foibles. Our Constitution is still valid and a living document that has given us prosperity and justice for close to two and one-half centuries. I do not forget about slavery. That was, however, a worldwide plague that was not limited to this country, to racial divisions, or even that time. There is more slavery of black, white, and yellow races now than there ever was. We need to stay away from recent philosophies that have failed miserably, such as Marxism and Fascism, both of which I have had some close encounters. From personal knowledge, I can tell you, “be careful what you wish for. You may just get it!” All countries that have tried those philosophies, even in small doses, have failed and reversed their form of government, including England, New Zealand, the old Soviet Union, Israel, India, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and Laos are the only countries still toying with Marxism. Even China and Vietnam are now mostly market-based economies, although still dictatorships. Who can forget the incomparable disasters of the two Fascist countries, Italy and Germany?
We are not perfect and never will be. There is still racial strife and feelings of superiority toward one over another. However, nothing like it was 200 years ago or even 50 years ago. We have taken great strides forward, and I doubt these issues can be solved quickly or even legislatively. There have been changes in our hearts and minds by leagues and we are continuing to do so. But I do know with certainty that neither Biden nor Trump are the right choices for us!
WHY DO CHURCH AND STATE NEED TO REMAIN SEPARATE
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That is the first sentence of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist Church from Danbury, Connecticut, explaining the Establishment Clause very eloquently. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Over forty previous decisions of the Supreme Court have upheld this principle to the extent that it required the removal of the Ten Commandments from courtrooms across the country. Very prestigious Justices weighed in on this point, including Justice Bryer, Justice Souter, Justice Ginsberg, and Justice O’Connor. Sandra Day O’Connor made the very astute argument, “We are a religious people, but the separation between church and state was the very thing that freed Americans to practice their faiths.”
It appears that the Supreme Court has again blundered into overstepping its authority to overrule a couple of hundred years of precedence, not to mention trampling on our Constitution. The Constitution has obviously had much more thought put into it by people of greater prestige and wisdom than our current Supreme Court has. It exposes the current Justice’s religious prejudices, and partisan politics, along with their personal opinions. As in the discipline of physics, every action will lead to an equal but opposite reaction, their poorly thought-out decisions will eventually come back to bite us. Court-packing evolving to a one-party rule is the next step. Relevancy of the Court will become an increasing issue making a shambles of the three branches of our government.
Religion is based on writings going back at least three millennia. It is the infallible word of God. The problem comes in that each infallible scripture of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the dozens of the others, Buddism, Hinduism, Mormons, and all the other 4,300 religions of the world do NOT AGREE with each other on many points! Colorado’s Third Congressional District Representative Lauren Boebert in her learned wisdom, says she is tired of hearing this “Separation of Church and State junk!”
If prayer were again allowed to be said in public schools, how many prayers would have to be recited to make it fair and equal, or would it just be the Evangelicals who would get that privilege? How would most Christians react if they were forced to participate in Muslim prayer, even if they did not have to touch the ground with seven parts of their body as the Quoran requires? An all-knowing God would understand that silence is golden under certain circumstances.
Lauren further explains that the church should tell the state what to do, not the other way around. My question to her is, “Which church? Would it be the Baptists or the Anabaptists or possibly the Rastafarians?” Lauren only needs a turban, and she would then qualify to lead the Christian Taliban and realize her wish of a Full-On Theocracy like in the good old days. Was life so much better when we had the absolute certainty that we were the center of the Universe and the sun revolved around us? We almost burned Galileo at the stake which we did to his predecessor, Giordano Bruno for not following what the Holy Scriptures said. It gave us the authority to burn heretics and hang a few witches. It was not that long ago, in 1826, when we executed the last heretic, Cayetano Ripoll, for teaching Deism.
Just look at the question of when life starts. The IRS does not allow a deduction for a baby in utero regardless of time from conception nor can a pregnant woman use the car pool lane by herself. It is not a person, our government says. Jews quote the Bible, “And God formed the man of dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7. Therefore they believe life begins with the first breath. Muslims say ensoulment happens at 120 days, and Buddhists don’t believe there is a soul. I want a religion that has a direct line to God so we can rely on it to tell us what we should do, or should we just ask Lauren Boebert.
It is considered unethical and even illegal for a student and teacher or a patient and doctor to have a sexual relationship precisely because there is an inequality that makes that indecent, immoral, and worse. Teachers have lost their jobs and doctors their licenses to practice over that issue. Along the same line, how then can it be acceptable for a football coach to pray on the 50-yard line encouraging the team to join him? Besides, what message does that send? I was unaware that God watched high school football, and if He did, He really shouldn’t be asked to take sides! Of course, it would be even worse if He answered the prayer by taking sides!
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.
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