Hitler cleverly invaded, one at a time, a series of countries his Germany could conquer--Holland, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Poland and so forth. The list is long – too long. By the time he invaded the Soviet Union he'd lost that perspective or simply gone bananas or something. Russia was much vaster than Germany in area and population. There was no way a small state like Hitler's could compete with it.
Now here's Putin. Can his Russia conquer Ukraine? Probably. The rest of Europe if we and they unite against him? Probably not.
The great mistake, as Hitler's early victims proved, would be to let him get started.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Wire stories today report Russian troops giving Ukrainian troops an ultimatum--surrender or we'll open fire. It makes you wonder whether history really does repeat itself, at least sort of, some of the time,
Once upon a time, before and after World War II, we didn't have lots of countries in that part of the world, just one great big one, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR for short. It was mighty, a nuclear power like the United States. Many feared the two would have a nuclear war and destroy the planet. We didn't.
The Soviet Union dissolved in 199l; the big war never happened; and all those other countries that existed before it swallowed them—Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and so on-- came back to life.
What happens now? I have no idea. Russia, we know, has nuclear arms. Ukraine may too.
All we really know for sure is that the game goes on. The stakes could be very high and I really don't want to play.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
I wrote here earlier this week about a bill the Arizona legislature passed which would have allowed businessmen and women to deny service to gays if the denial were based on sincere religious conviction. The governor, conservative Pam Bewer, vetoed the bill, whicih means, as you might have expected, that the argument goes on.
The notion that you can deny me--or I, you-- some service based on our religious beliefs is troubling The heart of the trouble is the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....." In other words, we are all free Americans and your religion can't tell me what to do.
But freedom of religion cases are pending in at least four other states. The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month over whether businesses should be allowed to refuse to give their employees contraceptive coverage.
In other words, the beat goes on.
Friday, February 28, 2014
I've written before about social change in this country--same-sex marriage, for instance. Approved by one state or another, it's still illegal in most of them. Now the Arizona legislature has jumped in with a bill which, as the Washington Post described it, "allows business owners wtth strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays."
The next step is up to conservative Governor Jan Brewer (R) as she decides whether to sign or veto the bill, which she's expected to do this coming week.
You'd think this would be a constitutional no-brainer, but hold on. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...." But he left out women, presumably on purpose; they didn't get the vote for more than a century. And when he said "all men," Jefferson, a Southerner and a slave owner, certainly didn't mean he thought his black slaves were equal to him. It took a bloody civil war and then the civil rights movement to get them them the vote just a few years ago.
So we'll see. Discrimination based on sexual preference seem bizarre to me. But bizarre bad stuff hasn't always stopped us in the past.
I think the Republicans in the Senate are planning a surprise attack.
At least, that's the impression you get from a story in the Washington Post today. It describes the campaign office--camouflage netting, sandbags, and a quote from one hero about being at war every day. I guess the GOP hid the machine guns.
Still, there is an election this fall and control of the Senate (now Democratic) and the House (now Republican) are prime targets. There are 435 House members, divided among the states according to population--New York, many; Wyoming, few. All are up for election every two years. There are 100 senators, two per state. They serve six year terms, so only a third are up this year. The current lineup--50 Democrats, 42 Republicans, 2 independents;
What are the chances of a GOP triumph? The Republicans say, good, look at the mess over Obamacare. Democrats can answer yes, the debut was sloppy, but people seem to like the bill itself; good numbers are signing up.
I wish I knew the answer, but I'm retired now, not out there campaigning. If I had to bet, I'd bet on the Dems, but boy, would I be nervous.
The National Spying on us Agency--I know, it's officially the National Security Agency, but I would feel more secure if it didn't exist--wants more. It can already tap every telephone in America. Now it wants to be able to track every automobile license plate too.
The NSA, according to The Washington Post, wants a private company to do the actual work of tracking but that makes no difference; the data will go back to the Agency anyway. "Joe Smith drove to Louisville for a weekend with a girl friend even though he's married? We can check that." And so on, in annoying, salacious detail..
The usual critics are out. An ACLU spokeswoman said, "This is just another example of the government's appetite for tools of mass surveillance." That seems just right. Barack Obama never impressed me as the kind of president who approved of spying on his people.
I guess I was wrong.
Editor's note: Mr. Morton's columns were delayed while his editor enjoyed a bout with the flu. Apologies to you and him.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
I think what makes baseball special is that players have to think. The shortstop, who may have to field a ground ball--does he throw to second in hope of a double play or throw to first for the sure out there--and so on.
I like football too--a graceful run or pass reception can be very moving, but there's something special about baseball for me.
One thing I know--it has nothing to do with where I grew up. That was Chicago, home of the Cubs--lovable losers is a local nickname. The Cubs last won the pennant in 1945, more than half a century ago, last won the World Series, the grand prize--in 1908--more than--that's right, a century ago.
But whatever it is, it works for me.
Friday, February 14, 2014
They said the snow would be big and bad. Shut us in our houses, make us weak and sad.
It did snow, the ground turned white But it wasn't heavy; in fact it was light.
They said eight inches but I confess,
It always looked to me like less.
That's from my window, not outside,
But I think I could have gone for a pony ride.
It's all gone now; I may go out.
And to fierce winter I will shout,
You may come back but you won't stay,
Think of May this Valentine's Day!