Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King

Doctor Martin Luther King staged protests in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and upset the city fathers who then turned to the city's black clergy and pressured them to publicly distance themselves from Dr. King.  The ministers complied and told Dr. King in writing essentially not to rock the boat for those who lived in Birmingham as they would have to deal with the repercussions of his actions long after he was gone.
        Not being in a position to pick up a phone and call the men in question, or to dictate a letter to them he found the ONLY paper available to him, the April 16th days newspaper. He got a pen from a guard and in the margins of the news paper sat down and wrote a letter to his fellow clergymen which became the now legendary "letter from a Birmingham jail."

      In this now legendary epistle Doctor King explained WHY he'd come to their city and why he had to do what he was doing. He explained how simply being passive was the best way of insuring that the black man's position in the south would never change and how it was the best way to assure continued second class citizenry.

       I write this on the day Americans set aside to honor Dr. King and racial tensions in America in the year 2018 most certainly have NOT disappeared. I doubt they ever will. While there IS hope I can honestly say the America in which I live is NOT the same America in which my parents and grandparents lived. I will not be denied entrance into restaurants, hotels and restrooms simply because of the color of my skin.  I can vote without fear of the Ku Klux Klan coming to my home to "send me a message" and I can interact socially with whomever I please without fear of groups of violent bigots setting upon us.
     In 1963 Dr. King gave a speech in the shadow of the Lincoln memorial which became known as the "I have a Dream" speech in which he envisioned an America in which "his children would "be judged NOT by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." He admitted that in 1963 "a negro in the south can not vote and a negro in the north feels he has nothing for which to vote." My grandfather couldn't vote in rural Louisiana for the better part of his life. When I turned 18 one of the first things I did was register to vote and have never missed an election. I have two nephews who don't vote at all and figure it serves no purpose. One distrusts all politicians the other thinks the system is "rigged" to where his voting for president won't make a difference.

      Does racism still exist? I know of ONE job I KNOW I didn't get simply because of the color of my skin.  I have been called racial slurs by people who either didn't think I heard them or simply didn't give a damn how a person of color felt about anything.  I've had people tell stupid jokes based on stereotypes in my presence because they didn't think I possessed the intellect to know I was being insulted and I've most certainly been treated differently for simply being a black man.

     Things for which I'm simply ostracized now are things for which I would have been either jailed without cause or LYNCHED for years ago so I have to say things are MUCH better than they were.  If Dr. King were alive today, had he NOT been assassinated in 1968 his character would have been daily on Fox News and in conservative news outlets the way his lieutenant John Lewis' is now.  While he was alive conservatives in both parties OPENLY called him a "communist".
    Truth be told, today isn't the day in which I honor and remember Dr. King, for me that day is April 4th the anniversary of his death.
        I believe Dr. King's work was not so much about race in America, but rather us reaching a point where every American would enjoy the same rights and privileges regardless of his/her race, religion or where he or she might have been born. Do I believe his dream his been realized? Hardly. Do think it will be one day? I have hope and would love to live to see it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Coming in from the Cold War

Czar Nicolas II of Russia was overthrown by Vladamir Lennin and the Bolshevics in 1917 shortly following the first world war and was subsequently assassinated by them. My grandparents were born into a world when the "Soviet threat" was seen as a danger to democracy or at least to free market economies.
           My grandfather was beyond the draft age when world war two started and was more concerned with raising his young family. At that point the United States and Soviets were ideologically juxtaposed, but united to fight a genocidal, xenophobic Austrian nationalist who had convinced Germans they were a "master race." My parents were small children when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg gave the Soviets plans to replicate the hydrogen bomb that we'd used to destroy the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and were tried, convicted and executed for treason.
        The Soviets would bankroll a civil war in China and we supported the opposition. They supported a communist dictator on the Korean peninsula and we sent young Americans there to fight and die in a proxy war  there which never actually ended but rather turned into a lengthy "cease fire" which is still in effect. When my parents were in high school, the Soviets allied themselves with southeast Asian nationalists in Northern Vietnam and America's response was to send the men of my father's generation to give their lives. it became a quagmire which cost us billions and tens of thousands of American and South Vietnamese lives and went down as the only war the United States ever "lost". In the midst of that a young man named Don Trump. the grandson of an immigrant who'd become wealthy as a slumlord used a mysterious medical deferment to avoid going to the war in question. In 1980 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and we sent weapons and money to a group of guerillas who would later become a terrorist organization that ultimately attacked us and turned Afghanistan into their "Vietnam".
          Over the better part of a century the United States and Soviet Union spied on one another via our Office of Strategic Services which would later become the Central Intelligence Agency and the Soviet KGB.  We had various standoffs in central and south America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa via proxy wars, coup de tats, revolutions and counter revolutions. We'll probably never know how many Americans whose names we'll never know died in back alleys in Berlin, Helsinki and nameless tropic jungles in attempts to gather intelligence on our then enemy.

     I often tell people one of the happiest days of my life was as a young marine standing in an airport in a class A uniform watching Germans chipping away at the Berlin wall which had been a symbol of the cold war since before my birth. I smiled so hard my face hurt because I knew it meant that there would never be another war between us and the communists. While communism as a form of government vanished in Europe (it still exist in China, Vietnam and Cuba) Communist did not.
             Vladamir Putin a former head of the KGB and Russia's current leader has started wars in former Soviet republics to make them Russian spheres of influence again. He's used cyber attacks to cripple their economies, assassinated journalists and political opposition leaders in the case of the Ukraine sent soldiers (who weren't in Russian uniforms but used Soviet equipment) to simply take the country over and called it a "people's uprising."

      In 2016 Hillary Clinton a former senator and Secretary of State and one of Putin's old political enemies ran for president and according to the world's intelligence community, his machine went to work via a series cyber attacks and fake news stories to effect the outcome of America's election.
The election was won by Clinton's opponent a man named Don Trump whom you may remember was the grandson of an immigrant who became a wealthy slum lord and used his family's connectios to avoid a Soviet proxy war in Vietnam.
             President Trump while ironically IN Vietnam took advantage of the moment to not only deny Russian involvement in our election and to claim that he "believed" Vladamir Putin's denials,  but to attack the men who spent their careers in out intelligence community as "political hacks". He went on to say that we should strive for BETTER relations with Putin and the Russians.

         I can't help but wonder, at what point did attempts to subvert our government become acceptable. Over the years many American politician's careers were built or destroyed because they were either "tough on" or "not tough enough" on the Russians.  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg felt it wasn't fair that we had a weapon that could destroy cities and the Russians didn't and it cost them their lives.  Many Americans were sent to prison for selling seemingly trivial "secrets" to the then Soviet Union.
       Why is an American president so enamored with becoming an ally to a government which openly and aggressively spies on us and attempted to influence one of our elections?  Why does that same president seemingly have so little regard for the very intelligence community whose work protects and has protected him and all Americans for the entirety of his life? What is the future of the republic that is the United States of America when our elected chief executive seems to admire a totalitarian oligarch?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Help not handcuffs? What the hell?

"Drugs have been in black neighborhoods for years, but as soon as a bunch of white people start doing drugs: 'Oh GOD it's an EPIDEMIC!' " :Richard Pryor

I was a teenager in the 80s and the first time I saw a rock of crack cocaine I didn't think much of it. I'd seen people do powdered cocaine and thought it was stupid and knew cocaine could be smoked, but still didn't see the allure of getting high. I still don't.  When I saw my first crack rock, at 14 I didn't realize the  devastating impact it would have on my community and even members of my own family
        I saw intelligent young men and women throw away their futures, families, dignity and even their lives chasing the fleeting high and saw the working class neighborhood I grew up in slowly decay into a ghetto.  When I turned on my television every other TV show was telling me about the perils of drugs and even first lady Nancy Reagan (may she rest in peace) was telling me to "Just say no" to them.  I also noticed that law enforcement decided they would find a way to deal with our drug problem, they would impose harsher sentences for selling or possessing crack cocaine than for powdered cocaine. The irony of course being that you NEED powdered cocaine to make crack but I guess that escaped my law makers.
        I didn't realize it at the time but MOST of the people addicted to powdered cocaine were white and affluent and most of the users of crack tended to be black or hispanic. Essentially a stock broker living in a huge house on the right side of the tracks could be caught with a couple of grams of cocaine and get far less time than a kid from the neighborhood who was caught with two grams of crack. I'm not trying to say those being arrested for drug crimes didn't DESERVE to be, but looking back I'm wondering why the affluent were given a pass when kids from the city were sent to literally fight for their lives in America's prisons.

           Flash forward to 2017 and America again has a drug problem. This time it's not cocaine, it's opiates AKA pain pills and drugs like codeine.  Many become addicted to pain meds then when they can no longer get them, go to the streets where they become addicted to heroin.  The addicts by and large are kids in the suburbs and in rural communities all over America. The response has been swift. Drug treatment centers have sprang up everywhere. Insurance plans under former President Obama's Affordable Care Act include rehabilitation programs, politicians are getting on cable news shows in tears begging for more money to be placed into programs to treat drug addiction. I saw a sheriff in Ohio saying he sponsored a program called "help not handcuffs" and another pundit on a cable news panel saying "These people have souls and should be treated with compassion because they've succumb to an addiction."
        As I see this genuine outpouring of compassion I'm conflicted. As an American I'm proud to see my country taking positive steps to solve a serious problem, but as a man of color who has seen his friends sent to serve lengthy jail sentences for the EXACT SAME THING in the 80s and 90s my response is WHAT THE FUCK!?  I want those who are addicted to drugs to be treated as if they have a serious problem and we want them to resume normal lives and I've always wanted that, but where the hell was this compassion in the 80s and 90s when the majority of these people were men and women of color?  I'm not one to play the race card, but those who WOULD call the great country in which I live "racist" could EASILY use this as an great example to illustrate their point. The criminal justice system was more than happy to demonize young black and Hispanic men and women who became addicted to crack cocaine by throwing them in prison, but when it happens to some kid in a small town or in the suburbs suddenly they've decided that drug abuse should be treated with compassion?!
     What burns me up more than ANYTHING are some of the voices calling for compassion. The men and women who are saying that this is an "American" problem were the ones calling for the stiff sentences for drug offenders whose compassion seems quite odd in light of policies they had for "cleaning up America's streets".
       For the record, I do NOT think that we should warehouse men and women in prison for drug use. We SHOULD have programs for drug treatment and I think a national health service (like the British, Canadian or Australian models) would greatly help implementing one, but we as a nation need to OWN our hypocrisy on our "war on drugs" (as Nixon called it) for what it was overt racism and selective prosecution, then we can move forward and treat all our addicts not as denizens of small towns, suburbia or even the "inner city" but as Americans.

Friday, October 27, 2017

African...and "African".

Earlier this week I was going over a geography lesson in a classroom and noticed that the text book separated Africa into "Northern" and "Sub Saharan". Strange  that the map of Asia included all of Asia, the map of North America didn't say "Canada" and "Sub Canadian America".  South America wasn't partitioned off into "Brazil" and "Spanish South America". The book was trying to assert that the countries of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were culturally more middle eastern than African because of the influence of Islam.
                     On the surface that's easy to buy, then you realize that Islam exist in the Congo, in Nigeria, and EVERYWHERE in Africa south of the Sahara desert.  Some would say that the book makes a difference because there were civilizations in  Libya and Egypt during the time of Alexander the Great and the Romans. That is true, but the learning center in Timbuktu existed before Philip of Macedonia's son Alexander was born and far before Hannibal elected to attack a fledgling Roman state with his battle elephants.  The Kingdoms of Mali and Kush stood before Europeans knew they existed as did the Observatory in Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Ethiopia. Why then is Africa treated as two completely different planes of existence?
                    This may just be one man's opinion, but it may have something to do with the fact that Europeans saw Africa south of the Sahara as a treasure trove of Ivory, gold, diamonds and people who could be bought sold and exported. If the darker skinned African was given the same regard as the Egyptian or the Tunisian the theft of his land and resources and the oppressing of him into bondage could be viewed as immoral.  The dark skinned African had to be dehumanized so that the invasion of his land and wealth could be called "Discovery". He had to be regarded as an animal with the ability to speak so that it could be viewed as acceptable to own him as one would an oxen or an ass.
      This is generally where the tired arguments of slavery in Africa before Europeans arrival and it's existence in modern Africa will be brought up.  Slavery did exist in Africa before the arrival of Europeans, that is very true. An enemy captured in battle became one's slave. In the Muslim parts of Africa one Muslim could NOT own another and many converted rather than be slaves.  The tired argument then points out that blacks were sold TO Europeans into slavery. That IS true, but there exist in many African cultures and within Islam ways of treating one's slaves that are a stark contrast of the way slaves were literally worked to death in the Caribbean and Americas.  Mistreating slaves in parts of Africa was a punishable offense.
        Regardless,  while Europe has left her African colonies and the cultures which spent centuries raped by the powers of Europe fight among themselves for wealth that could be used to build the roads, bridges, hospitals and schools that the Europeans DIDN'T build as their only interest were railways to transport their stolen goods from the countries interiors to their coasts, the divide remains. The average American student if asked which continent Egypt was on wouldn't be able to tell you as popular Western culture all too often portrayed the Africans who irrigated the Nile and built the pyramids as Caucasian.  Even in the 21st century when one mentions Africa to the Average American the images they have are of deep jungles, half naked  men and women with bones through their noses and westerners being thrown into large pots and eaten.  The Amazing part is they never explain where the giant pot comes from.
        Why does this continue? It WAS conscious at one point; whereas, now I think it's been done for so long that westerners don't even realize it's being done.  Speaking out to correct it will have armies of ignorant people who don't know history up in arms because the "liberals" want to make text books more "politically correct" but at the end of the day we as a society are  afraid of change and very lazy.  The cruelest part is that our lazy culture ENABLES those who print inaccurate, possibly unconsciously racist text books to continue business as usual and because it does another generation of American students will see Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco as something OTHER than Africa.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Who They Cast...isn't a big deal...

I was in my favorite Japanese Market buying random sushi when a kid who works there and I started discussing Hollywood's adaptation the manga/anime "Ghost in the Shell". Neither of us wanted to see it as we felt it was yet another instance of Hollywood "white washing" someone else's art. A stereotypical "Fan boy" who was eavesdropping on our conversation chimed in and pointed out how since MOST anime characters were so western in appearance, that the race of the actor playing a particular character didn't really matter.
          I held my tongue and didn't engage the guy further, but it's easy to think that way when the hero in 90% of films looks like you.  Despite how "multicultural" Hollywood claims to be, certain sad truths about the entertainment industry remain barely changed.

        During Hollywood's "Golden age" the only roles for blacks, Latinos and Asians (if at all) were as crude stereotypical ancillary characters.  If there was a lead role for a character of color he or she would be played by a white actor in stage makeup. Most notably the Charlie Chan films of the 30s and 40s. Recognition was very rare as evident by the fact that during Hollywood's "Golden age" the only actor of color to receive a major award for a performance was Hattie McDaniel in 1939's Gone with The Wind" in which she played a loyal slave simply known as "Mammy". During her acceptance speech McDaniel thanked the academy and said how she wished to be "a credit to her race."
        Hollywood has changed since the 30s, but the roles for actors of color seem to always be drawn from the same tired well. If you're a black actor in Hollywood and receive recognition for your work you've played one of the following roles:

Obsequious negro: This character is usually a slave or yes man who doesn't want to rock the boat and tells others to follow his lead, but usually is made an example of by the same power structure he spoke out to protect. His character is generally selfless and noble and his dressing down (or even death) usually inspires a white character to some noble calling. In literature "Uncle Tom" in Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin", in film too many to mention.

Master Criminal: This character is generally intelligent; however, he tend to rise to power on the streets though violence and criminality and generally serves two cinematic purposes: 1. White liberal statement about educational opportunities for people of color and the bias against them in corporate America. 2. An Object lesson proving that crime doesn't pay. Example: Frank Lucas "American Gangster"

Redeemed Buck negro: he is a sullen  rebel who fights authority at every turn but somewhere near the end of the film "gets with the program" and dies for a worthy cause. Example: Denzel Washington's Silas Trip in the film "Glory"

Magic Negro: This is the character who isn't a "stereotype" but rather possesses a strange wisdom of the world around him, but whose only purpose in the film is to aid the growth and development of one of the film's white characters on his/her journey. Example: Will Smith in the film "Bagger Vance"

Noble Martyr: The martyr may or may not die during the course of the film, but he or she will suffer to expose an ugly truth.  Best Examples: Any film about the life of Martin Luther King OR Silas in the film "Twelve Years a Slave".

Coon: A coon is the ridiculous comedy relief who seems to embody a wealth of black stereotypes for comedic effect. He has little if any depth and generally angers blacks who see the film in question. Example: Rod Tidwell "Jerry McGuire"

For black actresses the roles for which they receive notoriety are fewer as are the stereotypes, among them are:

Mammy: she is the loud sassy but nurturing character who holds all characters regardless of their race or station together. Best example Hattie McDaniel "Gone with the wind"

Hoodrat: The hoodrat is the uncultured  female character who embodies negative social stereotypes of black women she is the female equivalent of the "buck negro" given that she rebels against the power structure and the character is rarely given any real depth or even back story.

Magic Negro, Martyr and Coon can all be female but the last  character seems not to be going anywhere.

Jezebel/Vamp: She is the black temptress whose purpose seems to be gratifying the lusts of various male characters. She is more sex object than sex symbol and is oft portrayed as amoral. Example: Too many to mention.

Sadly Latinos have barely fared any better. Roles for Latin actors are slim and sadly stereotypical.

Latin Lover: This character seems more positive than he actually is. On the surface the character is a polished, sophisticate with a way with the ladies. The downside, he rarely ever has a moral compass and seems obsessed with his own gratification. He is the negative stereotype of the Latin male as oversexed, callous and womanizing. Example Antonio Banderas in ANYTHING.

Cholo/Bandito: This character is the lawless rebel. He's selfish, self destructive and has little regard for anyone or anything. In early Hollywood he rode a horse and wore a sombrero, now he's simply a gang banger or convict.  He usually winds up dying in a blaze of glory or dying in a prison cell.
Example: Carnal "American Me".

Overly Passionate Latino: This character can be male or female. He or she takes anything "no matter how big or small" and blows it comically out of proportion.  The character is a bit of a take off on the "coon" (Latin version) as he or she is generally in a film for comedic effect.

Master Criminal: (same as black master criminal. Example Tony Montana "Scarface"

Spitfire:  (female) The Latin Spitfire is an odd combination of hoodrat and Jezebel. She's intentionally uncultured and primarily there as a sex object

Asian Americans are one of the least represent groups in American cinema and their representation always seems to be in a light many see as stereotypes:

Sage: A wise man or woman who seems to possess great knowledge and attempts to give a warning which falls on deaf ears. Example the shop keeper in "Gremlins"

Scientist/Nerd/Geek: He or she is supposed to be great at math, science, computers or something else that resulted from strict parents putting his/her nose in a book at birth. Character generally can save the day, but defers to assist leading white character who is destined to. This character is generally portrayed as asexual.

Shop Keeper: This character is a take off on immigrant stereotypes and generally is crude and lacks sophistication. He/she is rarely cast in a favorable light and is generally a rude ancillary character of a shooting victim.

Martial Arts Master: This character is either a young martial artist with incredible abilities on his journey to mastery or a wise sage who is attempting to spread his/her knowledge.  Example: Jet Li in anything.

Evil Genius: This character is a take on the master criminal, but usually is attempting to take over the world or something grandiose in a take on the 19th century "yellow peril" paranoia which lead to the Chinese Exclusion laws. Example: Ming the Merciless

Dragon Lady: She's the Asian equivalent of the vamp. Her character uses sex as a tool and a weapon. She's seen as having a mean streak and is generally cunning and evil. Example: Too many to mention.

Lotus Blossom: She is the Asian damsel in distress in need of rescue preferably by a "white knight". Example Suzy Wong "The World of Suzy Wong."

          If I may summarize, leading roles in most Hollywood films don't fall to actors of color even when they're written by and with persons of color in mind.  Ghost in the Shell is just another example of a positive character of a given ethnic group vanishing into a pale oblivion as those who've never read source material enjoy it unaware of the source material. It's oddly reminiscent of Bass Reeves. Bass Reeves was a black law man in the "Indian Territory" that became the state of Oklahoma. He was legendary in his exploits as a peace officer. Books were written about him as well as a popular comic strip. However the strip came out in the 1920s and some thought the idea of a black lawman might upset some so instead of his being black, he became "The Lone Ranger" a white man with a black mask.
       Reeves was a hero to generations of Americans who never had any idea that he was a man of color.  He has been portrayed on television and on the silver screen dozens of times, but has never been portrayed by an actor of color. But in retrospect, I guess that's not a big deal.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's JUST the Chinese...

On Thursday, president elect Trump accepted a phone call from the President of Taiwan. They discussed business and Trump later publicly spoke of the call. PROBLEM. Since 72 when Nixon recognized China it has been the practice of the U.S. Government NOT to acknowledge the elephant in the room that is the fact that there are TWO Chinese governments. Every American president since Nixon has recognized this fact. The People's Republic of China doesn't accept the sovereignty of Taiwan and regards them as an autonomous territory.
            P.E. Trump while he has never held an office presumably HAS picked up a newspaper or seen a newscast since 1972 and had some inkling that U.S. Sino relations are to say the least complex. Mr. Trump's predecessor has not been friendly to China trade wise and they welcome the change in American leadership despite Trump's angry campaign rhetoric labeling China a "currency manipulator." Before even taking the oath of office,  Mr. Trump has offended a country which has the world's largest military and boasts of having air craft carriers and Intercontinental ballistic missiles.

            Many American firms rely on Chinese manufacturing and oft use China as the economic model they would love to see in the U.S.  I.E. a country with no minimum wage,  Food and Drug administration, Environmental protection agency or workers rights of any kind. It is an Ayn Rand wet dream come true and the end result is shoddy and in many cases toxic products which occasionally have to be confiscated by AMERICAN regulatory agencies when intercepted.  China in recent years as taken pride in corporate espionage and cyber terrorism.
           President elect Trump is offending a nation who when they last fought us directly in Korea agreed to a cease fire only because it was the only way in which both sides could save face.  The Chinese have fought wars of attrition for longer than many countries have existed and if Korean war vets I've spoken to were telling me the truth, Chinese troops attack in human waves. Mr. Trump doesn't like receiving daily security briefings and apparently doesn't like keeping up on global events. Well Mr. Trump I've bad news for you sir, the American people didn't kidnap you at gunpoint and FORCE you to become our president. It was a choice YOU made and after an UGLY and divisive campaign in which you played every low card in the deck you received the honor of being our president. Guess what Mr. Trump what happens in the rest of the world is now YOUR problem now. THIS is the job you wanted.  This is why your predecessors age rapidly while in office.
          Mr. Trump needs to understand that foreign policy is the difference between war and peace and if  he doesn't understand that then he's in for a LONG four years.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Strong Leader"

In 1953 generals and diplomats left a room with a deal in hand. It wouldn't end the war, but would end the shooting.  Both sides agreed that neither would cross the 38th parallel.  We had agreed to a cease fire effectively ending action in the Korean war. The North Koreans with the aid of the Chinese and war materials from the Soviet Union were responsible for the deaths of 33,686 Americans. That number doesn't include South Korean, Greek, British or Australian soldiers who died in that conflict.
        In 1975 a helicopter leaves the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Saigon. South Korean Marines and the Australian army had left two years earlier along with most of the The North Vietnamese with aid from the Soviet Union  had killed 47,424 American servicemen and women in some of the ugliest fighting this country had ever seen. The casualties we suffered in those wars were a result of the cold war which we fought against the Soviet Union. Generations of Americans lived in fear of Russian nuclear strikes and the late President Ronald Reagan went so far as to call the Soviets an "Evil Empire" bent on imposing it's will upon the world.
      In the year 2000 the Russian people in an election many poll watchers thought to be rigged elected former head of the KGB Vladamir Putin their President.  He had seen the Soviet union dissolve and made no secret of the fact that he wished to see every satellite which had gained independence returned to mother Russia.
      In response to dissent in the Ukraine his assassins poisoned Ukrainian president Vicktor Yushenko and later were responsible for the non fatal poisoning of Ukrainian presidential candidate Alexander Litvinenko. In 2014 Russia invaded Ukraine and assumed that because they weren't in uniform, that the world would believe that it was merely an uprising by the Ukrainians themselves who wished to be part of Russia again.
       Putin has spent the last 16 years hacking American government computers and spying on the governments of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but Donald Trump when running for president called this vile thug and assassin a "strong leader."
         Russia makes no secret about the fact that they desire to rebuild their empire and our newest president elect wants to not only abandon our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty organization, but also wants to "Normalize" relations with Russia. I harbor no animosity towards the Russian people. I know and have known Russians and regard them as a fine people. My issue is NOT with the Russian people, but with the  dictator who currently runs their country. Becoming chummy with a nation whom Reagan called the "Evil Empire" will be to our detriment.