Wednesday, Dec. 06, 2023|
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Nonstop cable news presenters were agog and aghast. They warned us, last Wednesday, that we were about to witness an epic moment. Their news worlds were about to collide.
Unprecedented and seemingly unrelated mega-news stories, foreign and domestic, were careening at us simultaneously, anchors explained. They all might suddenly gush out of our Great News Funnel – and into our living rooms – at once. Just imagine it:
NEWS GUSH: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was secretly flying to Washington hoping to save his fledgling democracy from Vladimir Putin’s invaders. In a few hours, Zelenskyy would meet with President Joe Biden, and then address Congress. A day earlier, Zelenskyy was at the bloody front line, boosting his troops’ morale.
NEWS GUSH: For the first time ever, a House committee has urged the Justice Department to criminally prosecute a former U.S. president for insurrection. The select House committee probing the Jan. 6 riot and insurrection said it was releasing its report detailing evidence of crimes former President Donald Trump committed to prevent Congress from certifying his 2020 election defeat. Including that Trump did “incite,” “assist,” “aid and comfort” an insurrection – violating the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
NEWS GUSH: A House committee was finally making public Trump’s income tax returns and that Trump’s IRS never conducted the required audit of the president’s tax returns (which it did on every president since Richard Nixon). Trump paid virtually no taxes in three years since 2016. (How much did you pay in those years?)
So TV’s anchors were fretting aloud – what should they do if all the news gushes out at once? But lo, it all happened quite manageably. The historic mega-news arrived in a steady but orderly mainstream flow. (Partly because the Jan. 6 panel delayed its report a day.)
Zelenskyy’s Wednesday night addressed to Congress was unlike anything ever seen. Imagine a presidential State of the Union address – except the speaker Congress is repeatedly standing to applaud is a dark-bearded man in olive green army combat pants and sweater. Zelenskyy, determined to speak in English, effusively thanked Congress and Americans for their aid.
And his message led us to see the true big picture of our time: “Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
Indeed, we are investing in our democracy when we, and NATO, invest in Ukraine’s democracy. We must stop those autocrats who for their own egos seek to gain or maintain power by using force or fraud to overthrow democracies. This week’s breaking news reminded us that Putin and Trump, two autocrats of our era, have used force, fraud and Big Lies to try to topple both the world’s iconic and fledgling democracies.
Any chronicling of our times must include the assaults on democracies undertaken by Putin and Trump – whether just to stay in power, or just empower their egos. Or maybe a little of both. If a book will someday chronicle their misbegotten conduct, it could be titled: “Autocracy’s War on Democracy.”
Putin and Trump are two very different figures who seem to have a bizarre affinity for one another. Both operate on shared assumptions that truth, facts and commitments can always be bent, discarded or deep sixed – and human lives can be treated with equal disregard. Just to fuel their high-octane egos. Putin and Trump could be the Marxists of our times – not Karl, but Groucho and Harpo doing their mirror scene. Except this is deadly serious.
Consider Putin’s children of Ukraine: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that 408 children are included in the 6,557 Ukraine citizens who Putin’s troops, bombs and missiles have killed since Putin began his war against the fledgling democracy of Ukraine. And the actual numbers are far higher, because the surveyors lacked access to many devastated sites.
But also consider Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump ordered his Secret Service to turn off the magnetometer weapons searches of the rally he was sending to the Capitol to stop the election certification. Why? Trump reportedly said many with guns were entering his rally – but they weren’t going to shoot him, so let them keep their guns. And when that mob broke and entered and overran the Capitol, Trump watched for hours on TV, ignoring pleas that he tell his faithful to go home.
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