Art of the Union

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In the wee hours of September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was intercepted and shot down by a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15. The civilian airline was hit with 2 missiles after entering Soviet airspace on it’s route from Alaska to South Korea, finding a fatal resting place in the Sea of Japan. A world away, over skies painted by car dealerships and Bon-Ton store lights, there is a flicker that then flairs across an illuminated sky. It’s the Ronnie signal! Dashing forward from his Californian Ranch - codenamed “The Hippie Basher” - Ronald Reagan darts through the night post haste towards Washington, DC. Minutes after sensing a disturbance in the capitalismic force as soon as KAL 007 hit it’s watery grave, President Reagan summoned Vice President Bush, Secretary of Defense Captain Planet, and the rest of the Teenage Mutant Cabinet Officials to discuss a new clandestine operation. The task - simple - Ronald Reagan would lead a select group of G.I Joes on a shirtless mission into the USSR and exact revenge on Andropov and his minions …Unfortunately, this gold standard of fan fiction is not actually how Reagan handled the downing of KAL 007. And I’m not the first to point out the claims that Republicans made about Reagan’s swiftness in riding the vengeance eagle against Russia are complete bunk, but how else are they going to attack Obama’s approach to handling the MH17 downing? Compare him to Ford, the man who ate a corn husk? I don’t think so, my friend.As I’ve already stated, I’m not the first to point out the hypocrisy here, so I won’t beat a dead horse in making a case that Reagan had to be goaded into acting and finally addressed the downing after 4 days. And frankly, I consider arguing about Reagan’s legacy to be a futile task. Despite the books and documentaries and family member’s to argue to the contrary, Reagan’s corpse is constantly fished out of the catacombs and thrown in front of any current discourse. It’s the most predictable ouija board, with the guiding hand of Reagan’s spirit always spelling out “I’m awesome, bro.” But if Republicans really want to hold up an administration that would review the AIDs epidemic as a knee slapping laugh out loud riot, then so be it. I suppose everyone has their quirks.I actually want to play devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate. Republican’s want to claim that Reagan took life by the balls when the Soviet Union blew KAL 007 out of the sky, that’s fine, because I’ll argue that he didn’t go far enough.First we need to lay out a few key differences between KAL 007 and MH17. To begin, MH17 was leaving Amsterdam en route to Kuala Lumpur and was shot down over a war zone. On the flip side, KAL 007 was an outbound flight from U.S. territory - on it’s way from Alaska to Seoul, and was downed not over a battle field but for unintentionally encroaching into Soviet airspace. This brings us to our second difference. Due to the flight routes, the MH17 crash killed one American, and while that is a tragedy, the destruction of KAL 007 lost a whopping 61 American citizens. Which brings us to the biggest discrepancy between the two, which is that the KAL 007 destruction resulted in the death of sitting U.S. Representative Larry McDonald, who was a passenger on the flight.An elected official killed by a foreign nation - that’s unprecedented. The only instance remotely similar was when Representative Leo Ryan was shot to death in Guyana in 1978, but he was murdered by Jim Jones’ cult followers, and you can’t really retaliate against lunatics aside from carpet bombing households that buy large amounts of tinfoil. So what should Reagan have done? Am I spreading my wing and flying like a war hawk to the scene? Well, no, but surely you could argue that killing a sitting U.S. official might constitute an act of war. Lord knows the United States has had enemies dine on lead buffets for lesser causes. What then, aside from war? Reagan did eventually get around to condemning the Soviet Union and demanding an apology, but whether he spent a press conference calling the USSR monsters or spent the entire speech roundhouse kicking a photo of Yuri Andropov and burping into a microphone, schoolmarming trigger happy nations doesn’t deter them. Many in ‘83 America were upset by Reagan’s lack of action such as reinstating grain embargo’s and ending arms control talks (and of course the white noise that always chatters in the background screaming for bomb dropping). They, whether right or wrong, demanded more from Reagan just as they are from Obama - despite the peachy memories that are being tossed around today.

In the wee hours of September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was intercepted and shot down by a Soviet Sukhoi Su-15. The civilian airline was hit with 2 missiles after entering Soviet airspace on it’s route from Alaska to South Korea, finding a fatal resting place in the Sea of Japan.

A world away, over skies painted by car dealerships and Bon-Ton store lights, there is a flicker that then flairs across an illuminated sky. It’s the Ronnie signal! Dashing forward from his Californian Ranch - codenamed “The Hippie Basher” - Ronald Reagan darts through the night post haste towards Washington, DC. Minutes after sensing a disturbance in the capitalismic force as soon as KAL 007 hit it’s watery grave, President Reagan summoned Vice President Bush, Secretary of Defense Captain Planet, and the rest of the Teenage Mutant Cabinet Officials to discuss a new clandestine operation. The task - simple - Ronald Reagan would lead a select group of G.I Joes on a shirtless mission into the USSR and exact revenge on Andropov and his minions …

Unfortunately, this gold standard of fan fiction is not actually how Reagan handled the downing of KAL 007. And I’m not the first to point out the claims that Republicans made about Reagan’s swiftness in riding the vengeance eagle against Russia are complete bunk, but how else are they going to attack Obama’s approach to handling the MH17 downing? Compare him to Ford, the man who ate a corn husk? I don’t think so, my friend.

As I’ve already stated, I’m not the first to point out the hypocrisy here, so I won’t beat a dead horse in making a case that Reagan had to be goaded into acting and finally addressed the downing after 4 days. And frankly, I consider arguing about Reagan’s legacy to be a futile task. Despite the books and documentaries and family member’s to argue to the contrary, Reagan’s corpse is constantly fished out of the catacombs and thrown in front of any current discourse. It’s the most predictable ouija board, with the guiding hand of Reagan’s spirit always spelling out “I’m awesome, bro.” But if Republicans really want to hold up an administration that would review the AIDs epidemic as a knee slapping laugh out loud riot, then so be it. I suppose everyone has their quirks.

I actually want to play devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate. Republican’s want to claim that Reagan took life by the balls when the Soviet Union blew KAL 007 out of the sky, that’s fine, because I’ll argue that he didn’t go far enough.

First we need to lay out a few key differences between KAL 007 and MH17. To begin, MH17 was leaving Amsterdam en route to Kuala Lumpur and was shot down over a war zone. On the flip side, KAL 007 was an outbound flight from U.S. territory - on it’s way from Alaska to Seoul, and was downed not over a battle field but for unintentionally encroaching into Soviet airspace. This brings us to our second difference. Due to the flight routes, the MH17 crash killed one American, and while that is a tragedy, the destruction of KAL 007 lost a whopping 61 American citizens. Which brings us to the biggest discrepancy between the two, which is that the KAL 007 destruction resulted in the death of sitting U.S. Representative Larry McDonald, who was a passenger on the flight.

An elected official killed by a foreign nation - that’s unprecedented. The only instance remotely similar was when Representative Leo Ryan was shot to death in Guyana in 1978, but he was murdered by Jim Jones’ cult followers, and you can’t really retaliate against lunatics aside from carpet bombing households that buy large amounts of tinfoil.

So what should Reagan have done? Am I spreading my wing and flying like a war hawk to the scene? Well, no, but surely you could argue that killing a sitting U.S. official might constitute an act of war. Lord knows the United States has had enemies dine on lead buffets for lesser causes. What then, aside from war? Reagan did eventually get around to condemning the Soviet Union and demanding an apology, but whether he spent a press conference calling the USSR monsters or spent the entire speech roundhouse kicking a photo of Yuri Andropov and burping into a microphone, schoolmarming trigger happy nations doesn’t deter them. Many in ‘83 America were upset by Reagan’s lack of action such as reinstating grain embargo’s and ending arms control talks (and of course the white noise that always chatters in the background screaming for bomb dropping). They, whether right or wrong, demanded more from Reagan just as they are from Obama - despite the peachy memories that are being tossed around today.

Chief Snyder has made his decree - the name stays. Responding to Harry Reid and his rabble-rousing band of congressional troublemakers, Dan Snyder - medicine man of the DC Metro sports complex - is battling again for the Redskins’ name. Feeling a strong sense of deja vu, Snyder is hitching his bandwagon to the idea that the Redskins name is beneficial and beloved by Native Americans. Sort of like the Kix cereal of sports - white guy tested, native approved. Except of course that it’s not, and Snyder is getting all of the profits while Native Americans are getting a big helping of “respect," which is usually P.R. speak for "nothing."

The funny thing about the Snyder talking about surveys in support of his team name is that his stats seem to come from pure junk. The American University Washington College of Law has an interesting takedown of the 10 year old Annenberg survey that Snyder is clinging to like it’s an 1880’s gold-mining deed to a native’s property. Some of the issues cited in the breakdown of the sloppy survey include it’s small scope (only 768 people were polled), the question asked was a confusing double negative, the poll was delivered using landlines, and what I find most damning, it relied on the participants to self-identify as Native American with no follow up.

A sad fact of being Native American is that for centuries your people and culture have been on the chopping block, and once you’re near wiped out, everyone claims to be one with you. There’s a good chance that anyone who has ever ridden in a van with Steppenwolf blaring form the stereo will call themselves Native American. Doubly so if that individual has a wolf tattooed on them. Grandfather in a picture smoking American Spirits? That could make Gran’pappy O’Doyle a Cherokee Chieftain. I witnessed a firsthand case of indian-claiming when my tattoo artists daughter stormed into the shop and inquired about “how much indian” they were so she could apply for some scholarships. But those are now the breaks of history - Native Americans have had others speaking for their best interests since the encroachment on their lives began. In the past it was for their “assimilation” into society, and now it’s telling them that they actually like the name Redskin and should be happy with it.

This is neither here nor there, though, because I have a solution to what currently ails Snyder. While it was a nice gesture for Snyder to buy Native Americans heavy jackets at the tail end of winter and a backhoe to till their dry dirt over 100 years after the Dawes Act pushed them onto the sub-par lint-trap land plots, there lays something more substantive. Something that can touch what seems to be the true matter here - marketing. It’s a plan that would allow the Redskins to keep their logo and color while only sacrificing the name, and it’s a solution that can be found in Utah.

The Ute Indians inhabited the Western desert, roaming the “land of the sun” for centuries before European explorers would transform the continent into an apple-pie eatin’, football-loving America. And when other franchises were swooping up Native American identities like it was a $5 DVD bin at Best Buy, the Utes were able to work a deal that was beneficial for all parties involved. The Ute tribe and the University of Utah have between them a signed “memorandum of understanding" which allows the school to use the Ute name with certain perks for the tribe. On the University’s end, they have pledged to fund scholarship programs for Native Americans, educate people about the Ute tribes past, and promote fan behavior that doesn’t degrade American Indians - i.e. no dressing up in head dress and drunkenly shouting "how" for 2 hours.

So would something like this be feasible for the Redskins? While they certainly aren’t a school, I would think that the team has ample revenue to create some real, effective outreach programs (they are the NFL’s most profitable team). Snyder’s just going to need to take chastity belt off the piggy bank. And c’mon, the D.C. area isn’t lacking in a rich American Indian history that could be promoted by such a name change agreement. Perhaps the Powhatan - the native people who lived among the first English settlers at Jamestown. Certainly that’s a history that could benefit from a deal similar the Ute-Utah memorandum and have some money put into educating fans on their history beyond the “Pocahontas” movies. Why not partner with the local tribes to establish a scholarship open to all Native Americans while setting up a larger educational program based on the Powhatan tribes or go to their even broader Algonquian umbrella. And since we’ve established that a football team is not a school, the scholarship could be awarded once a year and the educational aspect could be through print collateral and summertime events. It is even conceivable to think that Snyder could remain a stingy cheapskate and not have to pay for new branding/advertising since his team would retain the Native American theme. All that would need changed would be the typography for the new name, and old merchandise could be recycled through a buyback/trade in program - similar to what the New England Patriots did after Aaron Hernandez turned in his cleats to become deaths right hand. The Washington Powhatan, it could grow on me.

Admittedly this plan is a longshot, skimming the edge of the galaxy of likelihood. Too many parties would have to come together and meet in some sort of an agreement, something that no one seems able to do when it comes to the Redskins. But, it is a plan, and that’s one thing we can agree that Dan Snyder will need. As much as he fights it, this issue has penetrated the sphere of influence, and changes are bound to happen. When you have a band made up of 50 U.S. Senators, the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians circling you, it will be almost certain that you’ll have one hell of a fight before you to retain the status quo.

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"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." And unto us an artist is born. While not quite Rembrandt, but with all of the spirit, George W. Bush’s art show is drawing to a close. On June 3, "The Art of Leadership" will vacate the walls of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and make way for W.’s next big undertaking. Perhaps a melted crayon tribute to Miss Beaszley. I’m personally hoping for a replica of Tony Blair’s teeth done completely in macaroni.

I should say that this will not be used as a platform to practice my “George Bush, more like Dumb Bush.” routine. Even on the internet, that topic has reached peak-oil and can only suitably be followed by talking about how weird the weather’s been. 

In fact, I quite like some of Bush’s paintings. Not so much his portrait show, which has a sort of Shady Oaks Retirement Home activity hour feel. The same could be said for all portraiture though - painting people in the stead of your family who doesn’t visit anymore while waiting for a nurse to bring your juice. But beyond this, if you dig deeper into Bush’s body of work, you can find some very interesting pieces for an amateur artist. His bathroom scenes evoke a sense of isolationism, painted in a pleasing loose style which I am sure was unintentional due to his lack of skill, but a nice mistake none-the-less. Kind of like a bad Edward Hopper.

As the way life is, the internet was alive with keyboard babble about how nieces and nephews, cats and dogs could paint better than what George Bush was doing. But of course, art isn’t judged on the basis of how real something looks. If it was, then there have been centuries of paintbrush wielding con-artists pulling fast ones on hapless patrons. What is interesting though, is that he stuck to the path laid before him by his political renaissance- men forefathers - portraits and landscapes. Always portraits and landscapes.

Bland and vanilla. Might as well have been painted in oatmeal on a saltine cracker. But it is very much in line with the left brain type that you would find in politics. Buttoned down and logical. Who has time to dribble paint onto a canvas in phallic shapes when there’s a world to run? Here’s a winter cottage.

The 2 most well known politician-turned-painters came out of the battlefields of the World Wars. It’s as if the only way to spend a life at rest after staving off the hun was through art, and both kept to the portrait/landscape blueprint. Winston Churchill took up painting in his 40’s, focusing primarily on scenery as if to give himself a new location to have a drink in every night. The other, Dwight Eisenhower, captured what most conservatives would in their art - farms and grandchildren, whose names might as well have been Apple Pie and War Bonds Eisenhower. And then of course there was their foil and most renowned artist to emerge from the early 20th century - Adolf Hitler - who also painted primarily landscapes and portraits. Though, in a completely expected twist, Hitler would add the tattered remains of World War 1 into some of his pieces as if to give out early hints that he had the ability to be one dark bastard.

Luckily for Bush, he is benefiting from the name recognition that other artist-politicians have garnered with their work, being able to sell artwork and get the gallery attention without having to cut off any appendages or die penniless in coal heated attic beforehand. Eisenhower recognized this injustice when he told Richard Cohen that “They would have burned this [expletive] a long time ago if I weren’t the president of the United States” at the 34th President’s gallery show. In 2007, an Al Hirschfeild-like doodle by soon to be President Obama sold for over $2,000. Similarly, former president Jimmy Carter has original paintings, such as his piece “I Think it’s a Bird,” bring in big Benjamins for the Carter Center. Sure, an impressive feat, but it’s certainly no Billy Beer.

When art sells solely on name alone, though, there can also be complications. As is no secret, many politicians are monsters, but in some cases the artwork of tyrants can sell for big bucks on novelty alone, completely casting any concern for their misdeeds by the wayside. You’re almost obliged to look back at Hitler again, whose art in any other world would be buried 75 pages in to a deviantArt search, sold for nearly $15,000 in 2009 with a price driven up solely because of his historical atrocities. Of the same era, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s (actually quite good) paintings can be seen in the book "The kindness of Franco" - a title that Spaniards may find something to pick at. Despots showing their creative side isn’t a 20th century fad, either. While not a painter, Ivan the Terrible caught himself a musical fever and proved himself somewhat of a composer. In a way that’s beautiful to Russian ears and terrifying to everyone else, he wrote himself some little ditty’s for his new serfdom to toil away into the night.

As you can see, Bush is joining an illustrious group of greenhorn virtuosos. Leading figureheads from Ulysses S. Grant to Queen Victoria have pushed paint around canvas to take them away from the high-stakes pressures of ruling a world. It will be interesting if Bush can take his amateur workings and run with them - I could possibly see one or two mid-western housewives pining to have an original W. hanging next to the Precious Moments figurine display. After all, George W. Basquiat could have a nice ring to it.

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Even in his retirement, Ron Paul is still managing to elevate my blood-pressure. The wily mage of shallow-end facts was at it again earlier this week with a USA Today OpEd, offering his version of a concise take on Crimea. I’ve been sitting on the piece since I’ve read it and I still have the same feeling that it’s run-of-the-mill editorial litter, so I thought a fun exercise would be to address the various points that irked me the most throughout his piece.

Right off the bat we have an incredible reach when Paul equates Crimea’s referendum to other European nations toying with the idea of independence. It’s a long haul to reason that nation’s such as Scotland’s and Venice’s by the book procedures when you put that up against Crimea saying “que sera, sera” at gun point and getting the Stoli logo tattooed across its heart overnight.

For instance in Venice, a case where the province may have economically outgrown it’s parent country, nationalist parties have been emerging for years - such as Liga Veneta in the 1970’s and Venetian Independence in 2012 - who have been participating in elections and referendums without units of masked gunmen in sight. There has been petitions to the EU, committees formed, and even recently a referendum was held just to see if Venetians were still open to the idea of being independent. Similarly, Scottish independence has been along time coming. The Scottish National Party was formed in 1934, didn’t win a parliamentary seat until 1945, and didn’t win their second until 1967. The SNP kept that Scottish stiff upper lip, though, and slugged it out until they won the majority of the Scottish Parliament in 2011. Yet still, only 32% of Scots say they’ll vote yes in the upcoming independence referendum. See, this is what the self-determination that Paul refers to throughout his piece looks like, not what is holed up in Ukrainian military bases under threat of unmarked foreign soldiers.

Speaking of these unmarked soldiers, that fits well into Paul’s next documentation of wrong when he tries to compare Crimea to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. First off we need to get real for a moment, there is no comparison between the two. When Iraq was invaded in 2003, there was no question as to who comprised the coalition of the willing. When the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia began fighting towards Baghdad, they didn’t try to keep things a mystery by dressing their soldiers in Kangol hats and Ecco street wear (it was the early 2000’s). Putin’s attempt to claim that the armed troops with no insignia filling the streets of Crimea as spontaneous mystery fighters doesn’t bode well for Paul’s idea of “self-determination.”

More to the point, even if you were against the Iraq occupation there is no denying that Sadam Hussein was a monster. Sure, Russian speakers in Crimea were being hassled by the hard right Neo-Nazi Svoboda party with legislation such as trying to ban all Russian media in Ukraine, but that can’t possibly touch the system of torture chambers and secret police the Iraqi dictator presided over that made fair elections impossible throughout his reign. So yes, despite Paul’s snark, it was a victory that U.S. occupied Iraq was able to have an election without the outcome being a 99% victory for a killer, as opposed to a country “secretly” infiltrated by Russia voting to join Russia.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Ron Paul rambling without mention of those rascally markets. Accordingly he postulates that the U.S. or EU “can’t afford” to levy strong sanctions against Russia because naturally uninterrupted free markets are the only way to peace. No, it would be much better for the markets to just turn the other cheek and let the worlds second largest oil supplier keep using that fact to extort it’s neighbors. Wait … come again? The fact is that what Russia is doing isn’t all that great for the economy, with oil prices on the rise. And if there’s anything the market loves more than uncertainty it’s consumer panic. Many countries throughout Europe are fearing for the future now that Russia has taken up border expansion as a hobby. Nations such as Moldova, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Poland are expressing alarm of an unpredictable Russia. Even Sweden is mulling over the idea of NATO membership due to fear of the Russian military. What country is going to want to freely trade with a nation that they think has missiles aimed at them?

If Ron Paul’s takedown of the U.S. approach to Crimea seems too short and sweet, that’s because it’s leaving out a lot. It’s not just as simple as letting them eat their cake and moving on. In today’s globalized world, actions aren’t containable and it’s time that people like Paul awaken to that fact.

And wouldn't Putin (like all Russians before him) want to punch Hitler in the nose?

Asked by
usofamerickson

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Yes, it is odd to compare a Russian to Hitler, a tyrant who dedicated part of his inhumanly evil itinerary to wiping out Slavic culture and destroying Slavic art.

I don’t want to completely come off as a smarmy contrarian. I do partially get the comparison being made to Hitler in the terms of both figures seeking to ensure the freedom of their ethnic compatriots living abroad. As Paul Hockenos discussed in his Foreign Policy article yesterday, actions by Ukraine’s hard right such as taking away the Russian language’s special status may have sounded some alarms for Putin. But, as I said yesterday, I don’t think one coincidence in policy automatically equals Herr Wolf status.

What particularly irks me about the Hitler comparisons is just how uncreative and lazy they are. Russia has a long and rich history of despots to tether Putin’s monicker to. Why not Ivan the Terrible? Ivan did have military action with Crimea, plus he took great strides to centralize his government and helped set up a class divide by aiding in creating a Russian serfdom. ”Putin the Terrible” - it rolls off the tongue.

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Here’s a sweet little glimpse into my inner workings - I have an immeasurable guilty pleasure for false analogies when it comes to politics. It’s the act of taking a pig of a fact and slapping enough make up on it to hopefully fool everyone at the prom into thinking that it’s your girlfriend, and the bravado needed to pull that off has me enamored. I’m talking about the type of article that takes something as menial as stumbling in a speech and screams “This is his ‘Bush pukes after bad sushi’ moment!” So you can imagine my excitement at the cornucopia of trash that the new Putin story arc has blessed us with.

The most obvious would be the Putin to Hitler dot-connecting, and it’s so trendy that even possible presidential contenders are joining the party. Hitler invading the Sudetenland is like Putin invading Crimea? Well duh, Hitler sent in troops to protect the native Germans from persecution and Putin occupied Crimea to keep it’s Russian descendants safe - They’re almost somewhat identical kind of! How about Hitler and Austria? Hitler demanded that Chancellor Schusnigg turn the whole operation over to the Austrian Nazis under the threat of invasion, and Ukrainian President Yanukovych speaks Russian just like Putin and “asked" for troops to be sent in, so the connection is there if you squint hard enough and maybe tilt your head a little in a dimly lit room. Maybe we go even further back, what’s the market value on a slathered Napoleon analogy? Crimea could be Putin’s Waterloo … yeah, I’m going to just let that one keep sailing over my head.

I’ll be damned if I miss out on the fun, too, so tell the conductor to lead the rhetoric train down my street because I’m throwing my hat into the ring. I raise you this - Putin is not Napoleon, is not Hitler, but is Otto von Bismarck and Crimea is his Schleswig. Wait guys, come back! It makes perfect sense. In 1863 Denmark annexed the German speaking Schleswig region and Bismarck took issue, leaving him with no other choice than to let the Prussian army do what it did best - Destroy until Prussia and the German Confederation was a Schleswig richer. You see what I’m seeing? Russia seems to not have been able to get over Ukraine claiming the Russian speaking Crimea after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russian troops having now been marched in. Mr. Publisher, my hand is primed and ready to sign that book deal now.

Well there will be no book deal, at least not for now (wink) because all of this speculation is rubbish. This game of guessing Putins spirit despot has been interesting page filler, but ultimately worthless. Putin is not Napoleon, he doesn’t have the accomplishments or the romantic fashion sense. Putin certainly isn’t Hitler, he doesn’t have the popularity or military force to be. And begrudgingly I must rescind my suggestion that Putin is Bismarck, because that was absolutely ridiculous. Putin is actually  just a regular ol’, historically on point ruler of Russia.

Peter the Great never died, he just now heads Putins foreign relations department. Russia seems unwilling to let go of the old European idea of immediate border expansion that was relevant in a time when the Mughal Empire was a world player and Johannes Guttenberg was a young man with a dream. Even as other European nations set out across the seas to turn Asia, the Americas, and Africa into a global flea market, the Russians stayed right at home, slugging it out with the likes of the Turks and Swedes. A look at any other European nations global empire would look like scattered puzzle pieces, yet Russia’s is a big mass of cold, connected sorrow.

And as nation wars fell out of vogue in Europe during the latter half of the 20th century, there Russia was, picking on it’s neighbors to extend it’s influence radius. Afghanistan, Georgia, Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia, all regions that touched the Russian border. While powers such as the United States and Great Britain were getting bogged down world’s away, Russian troops were never more than a hop, skip and a jump from the motherland.

One of the unfortunate consequences that comes from a period of tyrannical rule is that it erases all historical reference up until that point. Any action taken by anybody with negative intentions will undoubtedly appear somewhere with a little black mustache photoshopped onto their faces. Putin’s encroachment and disregard in Crimea may be tempting for the doomsayers, but it is better for the understanding of any conflict to learn the unique history that has boiled over, instead of automatically jumping from zero to Hitler.

Bob McDonnell Virginia, Republican
Crime: A thirst for looking fabulous.
Thanks in part to a disgruntled chef with Bond-like espionage talents and the need to look fly, Bob McDonnell was indicted in January 2014 on 14 counts of fraud. After being accused of stealing from the governor’s mansion, executive chef Todd Schneider began leaking information to authorities that revealed a sordid relationship between CEO of Star Scientific Jonnie Williams and the McDonnell clan. In exchange for lobbying on the part of his dubious medical products, Williams gave the McDonnell’s the standard political gifts that totaled upwards of $165,000. Perhaps spurred on by the fact that they were at the bottom of the economic barrel for a ruling class, the McDonnell’s used much of the gifts to pay off credit card debt and other common-folk priorities.

Chris Christie New Jersey, Republican
Crime: Trying his hardest to be a New Jersey stereotype.
What hasn’t Chris Christie been accused of at this point? He’s the rotund Shao Khan in the Garden States Mortal Kombat tournament. Closing down bridge lanes in a show of top tier ball-busting? Check. Extorting a mayor to tow a party line in exchange for hurricane relief funds? Check. Using said hurricane relief funds to film a campaign commercial? Check. The only thing missing in this Tri-State opera is a horse head under a sheet, but to make up for that there has been plenty of backstabbing to satiate a New Jersey party boss fantasy.

Bob Taft Ohio, Republican
Crime: Being the cheapest date in Ohio.
In 2005, then-governor Bob Taft was charged on four criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report upwards $5,800 in undisclosed gifts. The list of lackluster presents that read more like last-minute Secret Santa scramble includes rounds of golf (obviously) with Republican fundraisers, tickets for the NHL’s most prestigious Columbus Blue Jackets (thanks?), and a photograph with accompanying medal from the Defense Supply Center (oh… you shouldn’t have). Even more embarrassing than Taft’s apparent taste is the fact that in 1999 he issued an executive order requiring ethics training for everyone in his cabinet. Now that’s practicing what you preach.

Eliot Spitzer New York, Democrat
Crime: Making every night ladies night.
In 2008 Eliot Spitzer’s trousers dropped and his career followed shortly after. After North Fork Bank threw up red flags due to Spitzer’s odd monetary transactions, the governor came under the ever watchful eye of the U.S. Government. While acting as a lawful Peeping Tom, the federal agents discovered an accumulated bill of up to $80,000 of taxpayer funds spent on putting ladies of the night “through school.” Facing potential impeachment, Spitzer would resign his office on March 17, assumedly due to exhaustion on account of his nightly calisthenics.

Mark Sanford South Carolina, Republican
Crime: Taking a “walk” on the wild side.
In June of 2009, then-governor Mark Sanford let his staff know that he was taking a vacation to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then he promptly boarded a plane to Argentina to simmer in the Sofrito of his Latin American mistress. The plan was fool-proof, except that Sanford decided not to answer phone calls while he was off on his own “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, leaving everyone in South Carolina to assume that their governor was lost in the woods. The mystery was solved when a reporter intercepted the southern Carmen San Diego arriving from Argentina at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and not strolling in from the Appalachians with a walking stick and full-grown beard.

Rod Blagojevich Illinois, Democrat
Crime: Being too frugal.
In 2008, Rod Blagojevich was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of soliciting bribes for, among other things, trying to sell off the vacated Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama. You see, maintaining gaudy hair like Blagojevich’s didn’t come cheap, and Rod knew it when he uttered the infamous quote “I’m not just giving it up for nothing.” Instead of getting campaign funds or a prestigious new job in exchange for the vacant seat like he anticipated, Blagojevich received the less enviable prize of impeachment and 14 years in prison. But lest Rod fear that it was all for nothing, he can take solace in the fact that he will go down in history as the seventh Illinois Governor to face criminal charges. 

Bob McDonnell Virginia, Republican

Crime: A thirst for looking fabulous.

Thanks in part to a disgruntled chef with Bond-like espionage talents and the need to look fly, Bob McDonnell was indicted in January 2014 on 14 counts of fraud. After being accused of stealing from the governor’s mansion, executive chef Todd Schneider began leaking information to authorities that revealed a sordid relationship between CEO of Star Scientific Jonnie Williams and the McDonnell clan. In exchange for lobbying on the part of his dubious medical products, Williams gave the McDonnell’s the standard political gifts that totaled upwards of $165,000. Perhaps spurred on by the fact that they were at the bottom of the economic barrel for a ruling class, the McDonnell’s used much of the gifts to pay off credit card debt and other common-folk priorities.

Chris Christie New Jersey, Republican

Crime: Trying his hardest to be a New Jersey stereotype.

What hasn’t Chris Christie been accused of at this point? He’s the rotund Shao Khan in the Garden States Mortal Kombat tournament. Closing down bridge lanes in a show of top tier ball-busting? Check. Extorting a mayor to tow a party line in exchange for hurricane relief funds? Check. Using said hurricane relief funds to film a campaign commercial? Check. The only thing missing in this Tri-State opera is a horse head under a sheet, but to make up for that there has been plenty of backstabbing to satiate a New Jersey party boss fantasy.

Bob Taft Ohio, Republican

Crime: Being the cheapest date in Ohio.

In 2005, then-governor Bob Taft was charged on four criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report upwards $5,800 in undisclosed gifts. The list of lackluster presents that read more like last-minute Secret Santa scramble includes rounds of golf (obviously) with Republican fundraisers, tickets for the NHL’s most prestigious Columbus Blue Jackets (thanks?), and a photograph with accompanying medal from the Defense Supply Center (oh… you shouldn’t have). Even more embarrassing than Taft’s apparent taste is the fact that in 1999 he issued an executive order requiring ethics training for everyone in his cabinet. Now that’s practicing what you preach.

Eliot Spitzer New York, Democrat

Crime: Making every night ladies night.

In 2008 Eliot Spitzer’s trousers dropped and his career followed shortly after. After North Fork Bank threw up red flags due to Spitzer’s odd monetary transactions, the governor came under the ever watchful eye of the U.S. Government. While acting as a lawful Peeping Tom, the federal agents discovered an accumulated bill of up to $80,000 of taxpayer funds spent on putting ladies of the night “through school.” Facing potential impeachment, Spitzer would resign his office on March 17, assumedly due to exhaustion on account of his nightly calisthenics.

Mark Sanford South Carolina, Republican

Crime: Taking a “walk” on the wild side.

In June of 2009, then-governor Mark Sanford let his staff know that he was taking a vacation to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then he promptly boarded a plane to Argentina to simmer in the Sofrito of his Latin American mistress. The plan was fool-proof, except that Sanford decided not to answer phone calls while he was off on his own “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, leaving everyone in South Carolina to assume that their governor was lost in the woods. The mystery was solved when a reporter intercepted the southern Carmen San Diego arriving from Argentina at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and not strolling in from the Appalachians with a walking stick and full-grown beard.

Rod Blagojevich Illinois, Democrat

Crime: Being too frugal.

In 2008, Rod Blagojevich was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of soliciting bribes for, among other things, trying to sell off the vacated Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama. You see, maintaining gaudy hair like Blagojevich’s didn’t come cheap, and Rod knew it when he uttered the infamous quote “I’m not just giving it up for nothing.” Instead of getting campaign funds or a prestigious new job in exchange for the vacant seat like he anticipated, Blagojevich received the less enviable prize of impeachment and 14 years in prison. But lest Rod fear that it was all for nothing, he can take solace in the fact that he will go down in history as the seventh Illinois Governor to face criminal charges. 

With President Obama ratcheting up the push for a higher minimum wage with his state of the union and subsequently taking the message on tour across the country, the retaliatory responses have been sure to follow. It’s the usual suspects that popped up last year during the same argument: Jobs would be lost, businesses would stop hiring, the four horsemen will descend the sky and lay waste to American business once they can’t buy a lawnmower for half off at Walmart, so on and so forth. But the argument that I take the most umbrage with is that if wages rise, prices will follow suit.

Price control through poverty, and it’s a self defeating circle - Shoppers won’t buy unless prices are low, in order to keep prices low I can’t pay above this wage, people aren’t making enough to dispense with willingly so business’s don’t meet their expected profits. Moreover, it highlights the problem of American business replacing innovation with sales to increase profits, creating a coupon culture in which people expect to buy too much for too cheap.

But even if prices were to increase, it would be so minuscule that unless you have a penchant for pinching pennies into pancakes, it wouldn’t matter. For example, the Center for American Progress reports if President Obama’s original proposed minimum wage hike to $9 were to take effect, prices would only have to rise .21 percent for a span of 2 years to cover any profit lost by the spike.

The downside for some businesses is that they would have to adjust their ludicrous low pricing systems and become more in-line with average prices. Take for instance McDonald’s (the company who gives its product away for $1 and floods your mailbox with half-off coupons) - if the minimum wage were to double to $15, the price of a Big Mac would rise by $1.28 to $5.27, which is still considerably cheaper than more “upscale” burger chains such as Red Robin or Applebees.

And when we look past the chicanery of saying that a rising minimum wage will make shoppers run rampant through the streets looting and pillaging due to rising prices, with the current wages Americans are unknowingly paying higher prices whether or not if they bargain shop by eating McDonald’s rubber shmeat. When Americans can’t cover their cost of living with minimum wage, they turn to welfare programs, which are paid for by everyone.

A study released by Congressional Democrats suggests that just one Walmart super center can cost taxpayers upwards of $900,000 to cover the needs of it’s employees. And if you have your underwear in a knot because it was a report issued by a left committee, be assured that some on the right also recognize the fault of subsidizing low wages with welfare. Republican billionaire and former California gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz petitioned the state of California to raise minimum wage to $12 an hour, explaining that “It’s a classic example of businesses’ privatizing the benefits of their workers while socializing the costs. Forcing the taxpayers to supplement the salary of their own employees.”

Hear ye, hear ye! Today marks the return of my short run “Hack of the Week.” At the end of each week I take the one piece of news in which an individual portrayed the qualities of a supreme jackass and unleash their doings onto the world.

And what a week to return my series, it truly was an embarrassment of riches in fools on display. From political elites moonlighting as 18th century love gurus to a former gunslinger using stand your ground to murder art, it’s been one for the books. In the end though, it felt only right that the honor went local for the return.

On January 22, former Baltimore cop Lamin Manneh (not pictured above) pleaded guilty to running a small business venture in prostitution. 

In May of 2013, Manneh was caught playing the field in the job market when undercover cops busted him for prostituting his 19 year old wife while still an officer assigned to Baltimore’s Eastern District. 

So congratulations Lamin Manneh: Pimp Cop! On top of the five year prison sentence awaiting you, you have also been awarded the coveted title of “Hack of the Week.”

Hear ye, hear ye! Today marks the return of my short run “Hack of the Week.” At the end of each week I take the one piece of news in which an individual portrayed the qualities of a supreme jackass and unleash their doings onto the world.

And what a week to return my series, it truly was an embarrassment of riches in fools on display. From political elites moonlighting as 18th century love gurus to a former gunslinger using stand your ground to murder art, it’s been one for the books. In the end though, it felt only right that the honor went local for the return.

On January 22, former Baltimore cop Lamin Manneh (not pictured above) pleaded guilty to running a small business venture in prostitution. 

In May of 2013, Manneh was caught playing the field in the job market when undercover cops busted him for prostituting his 19 year old wife while still an officer assigned to Baltimore’s Eastern District. 

So congratulations Lamin Manneh: Pimp Cop! On top of the five year prison sentence awaiting you, you have also been awarded the coveted title of “Hack of the Week.”