Good morning! Before I get to the depressing news, let’s talk about Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson. She is the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. She is extremely well-qualified. Most importantly, she currently sits on the DC Court of Appeals.
As you know, the DC Court of Appeals is often a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson was just recently appointed to the Court of Appeals. In the Judiciary Committee, she received three Republican votes. We should have no illusions that she will receive any Republican votes this time.
The big question is will she receive a hearing? Although Republicans do not control the Senate, arcane Senate rules require a quorum before any significant business can be conducted. This means that Republicans will actually have to show up. One of Joe Biden’s nominations is currently stuck in the banking committee because the Republicans on the committee refused to even show up so that the Democrats can hold a hearing. If the Republicans show up, expect another contentious staged hearing. Democrats will praise Ketanji Brown Jackson and Republicans will vilify her. It will be ugly. It will be unnecessary. It will be exhausting.
Hopefully, in spite of this, we can get her on the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson will be a breath of fresh air. She will be not only far more qualified than many recent appointees, but she will also be more experienced, more judicious, and—this is important—more honest than any of the last three jurists who now sit on the court. This is the good news.
Right now, when we are not reading about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are reading about inflation. Of course, inflation is Joe Biden’s fault. This is what the conservative media has been printing for the last three months.
If you read The New York Times or the Washington Post, they have been talking about supply chain problems that have caused certain items to be extremely scarce. We had problems with computer chips which seem to be in everything from cars to refrigerators, maybe even to my blender. And now, with the Russian war against Ukraine and subsequent cutting of gas and oil supplies, we face higher gas prices as well.
So, we are being told that it is a simple supply and demand problem—though it’s all Joe Biden’s doing. There is tons of demand—in large part because we have come out of the worst recession in 70 years; 6 million jobs have been added since Joe Biden’s was inaugurated; unemployment has been cut in half, from 7.8% to 3.9%; and wages have risen dramatically for the first time this century. So with high demand, and a supply chain that is broken, stressed, whatever, we have inflation.
But I really haven’t seen anybody discuss the fact that major corporations are raking in record profits. It seems to me that prices are going up because these major corporations are simply charging more. Just as an exercise, let’s look at the Fortune 500’s top 10 companies with regard to profits for the last year.
Apple computers sits at the number-one spot with $57 billion in profits last year. Microsoft made $44 billion in profits. Berkshire Hathaway made $42 billion. Alphabet (Google’s parent company) raked in $40 billion. Meta Platforms (Facebook) reported $29 billion (up 57% from the year before). J.P. Morgan Chase also made $29 billion. Amazon had a profit of $21 billion. Intel $20 billion. And both Bank of America and Verizon each had a profit of $17 billion. Remember, this is not revenue.
This is profit—total gains after all expenses! These top 10 companies in this list are swimming in $316 billion worth of profit!
So, sure: there’s a (pretty minor, actually) supply chain problem; and a higher demand problem from a thriving population; but there is also a big, ignored greed problem.
It has been ten years. On one hand, it is almost refreshing to see how far we have come in the past decade, a young man (he was really a teenager, just 17 years old), Trayvon Martin, was walking home from a convenience store. He was carrying Skittles and a some of iced tea.
He was confronted by George Zimmerman, a “security guard”—though many people forget that he was actually just a neighborhood watch volunteer, and that the police advised him not to follow Trayvon Martin after he’d made the phone call reporting a “suspicious” person.
In fact, there was no good reason for George Zimmerman to stop this teenager, except that Martin was a young Black male—as were all five of the other “suspicious persons” Zimmerman had reported before reporting, and then killing, the teenager. But when the wanna-be policeman confronted the youth, an argument ensued and escalated until Zimmerman felt “threatened.
So 17-year-old, 158-pound, Black high school student Trayvon Martin was shot dead, and the 200-pound, 29-year-old White shooter who followed and accosted the teen, was found not guilty of murder.
Over the last 10 years there have been so many men and women, boys and girls, people of color who have been needlessly shot and killed. Some, unarmed, have been shot and killed by law enforcement. The list is too long to name.
George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly ten minutes, started what could only be called a revolution. This police officer was found guilty. The two police officers who stood by and watched the gruesome murder were also found guilty. Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by three white guys who, without any evidence, thought he was someone who vandalized a house in the neighborhood. Each of those men was found guilty of murder—and each them was also found guilty of violating Mr. Aubrey’s civil rights. The most remarkable thing about this case was that it took place deep in the heart of Georgia.
Trayvon Martin. Please rest in peace. Please know that your senseless murder started a movement. It started a revolution. It is almost possible to say that Black and Brown men and women can now hope for and may receive justice.
The news out of Ukraine is disheartening. President Joe Biden had warned us, in excruciating detail, for weeks ahead of time. He told us that Russia was amassing forces to invade Ukraine. I believed him. Unfortunately, many of the Ukrainian citizens didn’t believe that war was coming. They seem to be caught off guard when the tanks rolled, and the mortars started falling. The president of Ukraine was not caught off guard, but the average citizen clearly was not prepared.
In my opinion, Vladimir Putin has been planning this invasion for years. I think he was planning this invasion ever since he invaded Crimea. When he stole Crimea from Ukraine, the West failed the Ukrainian people; there simply weren’t enough consequences, or sanctions, to stop him the next time. Therefore, all of the sanctions that the United States and our European allies are imposing on Russia are now not a surprise, or a deterrent, to Putin. I think that Vladimir Putin has already decided that this is a price that he is willing to pay.
My question is, what would make Russia stop their aggression? Let me state the question a different way: how do you stop a bully? If you’re at school and the bully wants your beautiful leather jacket, how do you stop the bully from doing what he wants? Can you talk the bully out of taking your jacket? I guess that’s possible, but I doubt that will work. Can you negotiate with the bully? Can you convince the bully that taking your jacket is not a noble pursuit? Maybe, but again, I doubt it.
The only way you can stop a bully is with a show of force or with force. You and your friends need to stand there and say “No! You cannot take my jacket!” Period. If that is not enough then the fight is on.
What steps, beyond sanctions, is the international community willing to take in order to stop Vladimir Putin? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see this bully stopping until we confront him with a military power. We must be willing to use military force, overwhelming military force. He must be humiliated on the battlefield. Every military option must be on the table.
I understand how scary that sounds. I understand that this strategy could devolve into World War III. The alternative is for us to meekly impose sanctions and allow Vladimir Putin to take whatever territory he would like to take, as often as he would like to take it.
Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t want the United States to resemble Neville Chamberlain in the late 1930s when he told the world that Hitler was not a threat. (If you’re too young to remember learning about Neville Chamberlain, Google “the great appeaser.”
We have to confront Putin, and we have to do it before he thinks he can get away with his bullying once again. It won’t be easy, but it has to be done. This is the bad news.