Month: January 2022

Poem: The Lesser Evil Man

The Lesser Evil Man

“Vote for the lesser evil, man,
it’s the only way to vote”
well, if you take that logic,
then they’ve got you by the throat

we’ve heard this song before, my man
you say it every year
“vote the lesser evil man”
we hear you loud and clear

we’ve tried it all before, my friend
we clenched our eyes with dread
we pinched our noses with disgust
and voted, like you said

what a wise decision, too
just look around and see
our country is in stellar shape
how much better could it be?

you claim that it was worth it,
and that we did ourselves a favor
“we dodged a bullet and a storm –
it was a good endeavor”

well, you pulled your little lever
and then went about your day
but now your lesser evil man
took more and more away

“I thought we dodged a bullet, man
how did it go so wrong?”
it should be no surprise to you –
he was evil all along

“vote for the lesser evil, man”
but you choose not to see
both are vetted figureheads
of our kleptocracy

our country has new owners now
despite what you’ve been told
a lurid, sanctioned boxing match
that’s bought out, paid, and sold

they televise their roulette game
they place their bets, conspire
it’s all the same to them, my man
which pawn do you desire?

they still run the casino, man
they still have all the power
they’ve nearly got it all, my friend
this is the final hour

so here we are again, my friend
presented with a choice
it really is quite simple,
so take notice and rejoice

to play into their hand, my friend
or expose their rigged game
to strike a blow to the status quo
or keep it all the same

to snap in line like bleating swine
at their beck and command
and vote the lesser evil man
– a spineless, trite demand

or shake the chains of the remains
of vapid, bankrupt creeds
and claim a vision that we want

and choose to fight against our plight
even when it’s tough
to tell our callous overlords
that we have had enough

if voting is indeed our voice
then proudly say with me:
fuck the lesser evil man
and let good come to be

© 2020 Chris Paulus

Speculation circus with mortal consequences

Flip on the evening news and listen to any major cable news channel right now. You can hear the war drums beating already. Buffoons with microphones chanting their war cry on live television – psyching up the American people for yet another military intervention. Pundits ask open-ended questions all day to rile up the country’s imagination:

  • “Is Russia preparing to invade Ukraine? And other questions”
  • “What would a Russian invasion of Ukraine look like?”
  • “Why would Putin invade Ukraine again?”

Harrowing news headlines dominate the media that suggest a potential Russian invasion into Ukraine:

  • “U.S. Intelligence Sees Russian Plan for Possible Ukraine Invasion: An invasion force could include 175,000 troops…”
  • “U.S. intelligence agencies point to potential Russian invasion of Ukraine within a month’s time”
  • “US alleges that Russian intelligence officials are recruiting current and former Ukrainian government officials to take over the government in Kyiv.”
  • “US and UK accuse Russia of planning to topple Ukraine’s president.”
  • “Ukraine taking UK claim of Russian invasion plot seriously, says adviser”

Notably absent from these headlines or news stories is reliable evidence for all these claims and allegations. In fact, the word “evidence” is placed in quotation marks unironically in the first sentence of this news story: “Ukraine has said it has ‘evidence‘ Russia was behind a massive cyber-attack that knocked out key government websites last week…”

Nonetheless, we’re bombarded with days upon days of, well… speculation. But fortunately, speculation is all you need to get pundits foaming at the mouth with bloodlust.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for example, has been bossing around and pointing fingers at senators, diplomats, countries, and presidents alike: “We’ve been having trouble with Germany. We’ve been having trouble with France. What does the president need to do to get Germany and France in line? Get them in line to help prevent an invasion in Ukraine!” He calls Biden “weak” in front of Putin and Xi Jinping. He insists that must hold Germany accountable for blocking the transfer of arms to Ukraine.

Alexander Vindman, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel involved in Trump’s impeachment, was particularly brash:

“I think it’s all but certain in my mind that there’s going to be a large European war on the order of magnitude of World War II, with air power, sea power, massive ground force offensives, and my concern right now is making sure that the United States is postured for that outcome. I think there’s little to be done to avoid it at this point.”

How does MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace respond to this reckless tirade? She calmly sits and nods her head in obsequious motion. She doesn’t ask a single question to challenge this bold claim.

Day in and day out, these spineless news pundits, often nothing more than lobotomized parakeets trained by the Department of Defense, squawk ad nauseum for our government to take a militaristic stance against Russia.

Then, these pundits love to play the good guy: “Well, we don’t want war, no one wants war, but…” They casually paint themselves as these level-headed, well-reasoned analysts, when in fact they’re impetuous lunatics that love to pontificate about sending people to die in war from the safety of their illuminated desks, well-decorated chambers, and multi-million dollar salaries.

Lastly, they dismiss any critique of their outlandish rants. Anyone who dares attempt to contradict this narrative is deemed a Russian asset and is disloyal to the United States.

It’s heartbreaking for me to see that Tucker Carlson and Republican representatives are virtually the only people to pose even a minor challenge to the militaristic saber-rattling spewed out by MSNBC. Silence even from “the Squad” and Bernie Sanders alike.

There is cause for heightened awareness and caution in Ukraine. Sure, Russia is organizing troops and military equipment along the border of Russia and Ukraine (about 100,000 troops currently). They are free to perform military drills anywhere they want on their soil. And sure, the presence of this equipment may be slightly provocative, but if you follow the expansion of NATO over the last couple of decades, you’ll notice that Russia’s deployments are defensive.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a massive, intergovernmental, military alliance comprised of 30 countries (originally 12) between North America and Europe. NATO members spent almost 60% of the global nominal total of military spending in 2021. The member list increases year by year, moving further and further east as it attempts to entice new members into the organization. Since 2021, NATO has floated “aspiring” members such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and, you guessed it, Ukraine.

Map of NATO
The joining of Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and potentially even Sweden and Finland, would further encircle Russia from the west.

The alliance is noteworthy, because Article Five of their treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one member state, then it’s considered an attack against all members, and other members must come to their aid if possible. Ask yourself honestly: if you noticed this cold-war relic of a military alliance slowly creeping closer and closer to your doorstep, wouldn’t you want to defensively set up some troops and perform some drills on your border?

Not to mention, while Russia is “allegedly” initiating cyberattacks, “plotting” to overthrow the Ukrainian president (installed by the U.S.), and “infiltrating” the Ukrainian government with belligerents and hell-raisers, the United States is, in broad daylight, sending arms and military equipment to Ukraine. Of course Russia is going to feel threatened and start lining up in defense.

According to NPR, Russia has a couple of requests:

  1. A binding agreement that Ukraine can never join NATO.
  2. NATO arms out of Eastern Europe
  3. Ban on NATO missiles within striking distance
  4. Autonomy for Eastern Ukraine

The United States and NATO should agree to the first three, but the most important one is number one. It is a reasonable request. NATO does not need further expansion. The United States does not have anything to gain from forcing or encouraging Ukraine to join NATO. The U.S. has 900 military bases around the world. What – our government wants to make it so that NATO comprises of 70% of global military spending instead of just 60%?

Number two dates back to a gentleman’s agreement between Fmr. Secretary of State James Baker and Fmr. President of USSR Mikhail Gorbachev promising that NATO wouldn’t expand eastward (this statement is a bit controversial. Baltic states and Eastern bloc states claim it’s Russian propaganda). Unfortunately, this discussion wasn’t codified, so the U.S. ignores it.

Number three points out that Russia does not have missiles within striking distance of the U.S., so it should be reciprocated. This will actually restore the INF Treaty that was in place since the Cold War before Trump abandoned it in 2019.

Discussing number four is beyond the scope of this piece.

Naturally, the U.S. has identified these demands as “non-starters.”

Russia is not asking for NATO or the U.S. to disarm completely. It is not asking for NATO to be disbanded. It is simply asking for NATO/U.S. to remove their threatening positioning.

The U.S. and NATO have the power to resolve this conflict diplomatically. Agreement to some of these terms would be steps toward disarmament and disengagement. Unfortunately, our government and representatives are largely bought off by Raytheon and have a flourishing $700 billion military budget at their disposal, so this outcome is unlikely.

The Biden administration claims: “let there be no doubt if Putin [invades Russia], Russia will pay a heavy price.” Who knows what kind of “heavy price” he is referring to. Pentagon officials love to let their imaginations run wild on how this “heavy price” will manifest, but they never elucidate the hidden cost of all these macabre fantasies: time (that we don’t have), resources (that we don’t have), political attention (that is currently frayed), tax dollars (that could be spent elsewhere), and most importantly, potentially the lives of human beings.

America is already a gushing wound – spewing blood out of every pore, forming serpentine streams of pus, and gigantic globes of lesions – with no suture or tourniquet in sight. Children hooked up to ventilators. Addiction. Suicide. Poverty. Homelessness. Stagnant wages. Underinsured and uninsured. Unparalleled political division. Trillions of medical and student loan debt. Unfathomable wealth inequality. Any extension abroad will certainly do us in. Our leaders are so out of touch and delirious that they are going to send even more people to die when Americans are already dropping like flies. Apparently, our own internal problems haven’t killed enough Americans, we need to add a few thousand more human bodies to the funeral pyre.

And here’s what I say to Joe Scarborough, Alex Vindman, Nicole Wallace, Bill Kristol, Jen Psaki, Keith Olbermann, and the rest of them: Fine, you want this? You go fight. Enlist your significant other and enlist your kids, too. Lace up your boots for basic training. Grab your gun and go fight. Pay for it with your salary, too. Just leave me out of your psycho trip of military domination.

Strange – it’s harder to justify losing human lives when it’s your own, isn’t it?