So after writing a blog about the dangers of abusing Godwin’s Law, I’m about to Godwin myself in the worst way.  I can’t help it–as much as I hate making this comparison, the current situation with Russia reminds me of the eve of World War II.

There’s the Eastern European country which nobody in the West knows much or cares about.  Back then it was Czechoslovakia, now it’s the Ukraine.  There’s the invading country making up exaggerated stories of persecuted ethnic minorities, and naturally, the way to save those minorities is an armed takeover.  There are the economic rewards which the invaders stand to gain.  Eastern Ukraine is rich in industry and energy resources, and this means much more to Vladimir Putin than the Russian-speaking population in the region ever will. And then there is the rest of the world, looking on and making vague gestures of condemnation, but unwilling to invest blood and treasure in a fight they don’t feel a connection with.

But of course, the modern-day Russians are not Nazis.  This is where a Godwin comparison always collapses.  Yes, Russian society is guilty of a few human rights abuses.  But the last time someone in Russia killed millions of people was far back in the last century.  So are we witnessing the historical chain of events leading to another global war?  It’s possible.  But it’s also possible that Putin will be satisfied with grabbing the riches of eastern Ukraine and leaving the impoverished western part of Ukraine for Europe to deal with.  And Russia’s military threats may be empty posturing, a la North Korea doing its nuclear dance without ever lobbing any missiles at anybody.  Maybe what we’re watching is the universal process of a powerful country trying to get more territory.  Jumping into a wider conflict would be foolish and draw too much attention, so instead the invader nibbles away, bite after bite.  So how should we react?  It’s difficult to decide when we don’t know what Putin’s intentions are.  If we’re too soft and diplomatic, are we walking down the road of appeasement again and could we be emboldening Putin to commit further aggression?  But if we choose the kind of tough response which John McCain seems to favor for every situation in the world, would we be rushing into an overseas quagmire, the way we have too many times in our history? 

The only thing I can say is that I hope this isn’t the prelude to another world war.  It’s too overwhelming to even think about.  I’m not ready for something that big–I’m not good at dealing with a delay to my Facebook connection, much less WWIII.  I have to wonder if today’s generation is up to a challenge like this.

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April Fools has come and gone, yet people continue to promote ideas so ludicrous I can only assume they’re pranks being played on us.  Perhaps this entire year should be dedicated to the Fool.  Here are some of the best jokes so far:

Paul Ryan:  “My plan to replace Medicare with a voucher was such a huge success, I’m totally going to bring it back.”

Chris Christie:  “I’m innocent!  My lawyer buddy says so.”

Sarah Palin:  “The Republican budget plan doesn’t cut enough benefits for the poor!”

Paul Ryan again:  “The pre-existing condition clause of the Affordable Care Act is wildly popular.  But I’m sure nobody will mind if we repeal it.”

Ann Coulter:  “If they really want to endear themselves to the voters, conservatives should keep making comments about rape.  For instance–immigration is just like rape.”  (Thanks to the Kavalkade Krew for drawing my attention to this one.)

Vladimir Putin:  “Ukrainians long to be freed by their beloved Russian brothers.”

Kim Jong Un:  “I haven’t done enough executions.  Let’s try one with a flame thrower.”

Miley Cyrus:  “America is in love with my sexiness!”

Ted Cruz:  “America is in love with my intellect!”

If this is any indication of what this year will be like, I will spend the rest of it in constant fits of laughter…or weeping.  I haven’t yet decided which.

Watching Russia Today is like doing the Soviet time warp.  The pro-Russian propaganda takes me right back to my Eastern bloc childhood.  I feel like I should be wearing my blue school uniform and clutching my ration cards when I watch RT.  Even the vocabulary of the news anchors is the same–they still talk about Western imperialism.  When America invades Iraq, it’s an example of imperialism–and I agree with that!  But when Russia invades the Crimea, they’re “liberating” that region of the world.  Hmmmm.  Sounds like somebody’s recycling old Don Rumsfeld sayings.

Not all old memories are getting recycled.  I’m not hearing anything about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat–they’re not in fashion anymore.  When I was a Commieland kid, the bourgeoisie was maligned for being a tool of the capitalists.  Now it’s turned into the squeezed middle class, and RT is defending it.  You gotta keep up with the changes.

But some things stay the same.  In the 80s, when my parents and their friends protested against the Communist government, the official news channels labelled the protesters as a violent and criminal fringe element, and threw in allegations of heavy drug use and orgies.  According to RT, the protesters in Kiev were also part of a violent fascist fringe.  I’ve heard that song before.  On the other hand, the people marching against austerity in Western Europe are always “peaceful”.  It’s a thin line between a peaceful civil resistance movement and crazy neo-Nazis, I guess.

Another classic move in the Cold War time warp dance?  Promises of a wonderful economy.  Russia is going to bring vast economic improvements to the Crimea, RT says.  Once upon a time, we heard the same sales pitch in Poland.  That one ended with bread lines around the block.

Now, I’m by no means claiming that American news media don’t do their share of propagandizing as well.  In fact, Russia Today doesn’t just remind me of Communism–it also reminds me of Fox News.  Maybe Putin’s dream was to be able to run his own version of Fox.  If so, he succeeded.

CNN finally seems to have woken up from their nap today and has started covering the Ukraine crisis in a serious way, and it took the Russian Parliament voting for military action for them to do so.  Not that there wasn’t ominous stuff going on in that part of the world before today, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at my TV machine.

Once again, I’m completely frustrated by the lack of international news coverage in the American media.  I like MSNBC for the political stuff–yes, I admit it, they reflect my bias–but they’re better on the domestic stuff.  I can’t take Fox News for the constant Obama bashing–I think that’s their full-time job at this point.  And CNN has been useless lately.  Endless Oscars specials and Justin Bieber gossip, while the world has been coming apart at the seams.  Were they joking about the “News” part of their name?

So I’ve been left with Al Jazeera.  They’ve been doing in-depth reporting on the Ukraine, and it’s been quality reporting that doesn’t appear to be too heavily biased in one direction or another.  I realize that a lot of people wouldn’t touch Al Jazeera, mainly because of who has created and owns the channel.  All I can say to that is that I would gladly watch American news channels if they improved their coverage of the world outside our borders.  But as long as they continue focusing on awards show red carpet BS, I don’t have too many options.