Why Average Americans Should Care About Helping Ukraine

Part of the current impeachment hearings involves Trump withholding congressional approved military aid to Ukraine, who is now engaged in a war with Russia. (My understanding is that Russia invaded and has annexed Crimea, which is a territory in Ukraine.) I think most Americans can agree that this act of aggression is wrong, and I think they can understand, on some level, that withholding aid to a U.S. ally like Ukraine, in their current situation is troubling. However, I’m not sure most Americans understand how helping Ukraine is in the interests of average Americans. I was going to write a post to make a case for this, but I think the following Time article is a good start. Here’s a key excerpt:

…an effective Ukrainian defense against Russian aggression raises the cost of that aggression and (crucially) raises the perceived cost of future aggression.

A Russia that can simply walk over Ukraine is a stronger Russia – a nation that one day may feel emboldened to take even greater risks to secure regional dominance and strain the western alliance. A Russia that is bogged down in a fight against a well-armed foe is less likely to seek another fight – especially a fight with much higher risks.

In my opinion, what the author, David French, is talking about is a lesson from World War II–namely, when one country invades or annexes another, that act of aggression must be rebuffed quickly at the beginning. If not, the aggressive nation will likely act aggressively in the future–until another country(ies) push back hard. The thing is, if you wait too long, the initial aggressor might become really powerful–powerful enough to be a threat to the U.S. In the case of WWII, the U.S. eventually had to join the war–paying a significant price in blood and treasure.

Instead of sending U.S. troops to fight in a massive war, wouldn’t it be better to arm Ukrainians, helping them stop Russian aggression before it escalates? I believe this is one reason helping Ukraine–in terms of helping them defend themselves against Russian aggression–matters to average Americans.

There’s also another, more abstract, but no less important, reason. And I’ll try going into that in the next section later.

House Impeachment Inquiry Thread

Thread to discuss the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. Public hearings started today.

References and Resources

The Just Security website has page with links to transcripts of public testimony. See below.

Notes on Fiona Hill’s testimony, October 14, 2019

I can’t believe I’m reading the transcript of this testimony, which occurred behind closed doors with House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (I think members of two other committees were also present or allowed to attend.) I say, “I can’t believe,” because I didn’t have a strong interest in reading this. But I just took a peak and got hooked. (We’ll see how long the transcript holds my interest.) These are some notes as I read the transcript.

Disgusted with Washington? Instead of Voting for Someone like Trump, Here’s What Needs to be Done.

I’ve heard that some people who voted for Trump did so because they were so frustrated with Washington. My guess is that a big source of this frustration stemmed from partisan warfare that ultimately leads to gridlock. One solution is to vote for an outsider president, including one who may burn everything down. I’m sufficiently frustrated and disgusted to understand this sentiment. However, voting for wildcard like Trump is not the answer in my opinion. To understand the solution to the problem one must have an understanding of why the problem exists. Continue reading “Disgusted with Washington? Instead of Voting for Someone like Trump, Here’s What Needs to be Done.”

Trump: Impeachment Thread–Is it Time?

This thread is for links and comments about on impeaching Trump. Should the House of Representatives impeach Trump? Should they do so even if the Senate won’t convict and remove him? The first thing I’m going to post is a twitter thread from Yascha Mounk, a political scientist who studies democracies. Mounk lays out the two key questions that one should ask, in my opinion Continue reading “Trump: Impeachment Thread–Is it Time?”

Mueller Report

I figured the report deserves a separate thread.

BREAKING: The House Judiciary Committee is told to expect notification by 5pm that the Mueller report has been delivered to Barr— Ellen Nakashima (@nakashimae) March 22, 2019

While we wait for more information, I think the following David Frum piece,
A Special Prosecutor is not the Answer, written in 2017, is worth reading. The gist is that a Special Prosecutor will focus illegal acts that can be prosecuted, and that a president can do a lot of bad things that aren’t crimes. The Trump campaign coordinating with Russia and its cutouts to harm Clinton may not be illegal, or the Special Prosecutor may decide there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute anyone. This does not mean that the coordination is acceptable. What it does mean is that the question is not something for the legal system to answer, but the political one. In my view, the Republicans has hindered the political system from properly functioning. If Clinton had become president and Clinton campaign behaved similarly with regard to Russia, we would be moving towards, if not completing, impeachment. If a future president behaves in a similar manner, impeachment and removal would be justified.

This is probably better:

Continue reading “Mueller Report”

Is Streaming Video/Music Economically Unsustainable?

Jazz critic Ted Gioia has some tweets about how streaming services are “the black hole of the entertainment business.”

I’ve updated my quick and easy guide to streaming economics—the black hole of the entertainment business.https://t.co/7AXsrUgB0E— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) March 13, 2019

His basic point is that streaming services lose, and continue to lose, a lot of money, and I assume he thinks this won’t change. At the very least, Gioia doesn’t seem to believe that streaming model will be able to support the making of movies, TV shows, and music. Equally dispiriting is the notion that musicians are getting even less revenue from streaming services (less than money they’d get from the traditional recording industry). That really sucks. I really don’t want to pay for a service where the musicians and artists don’t really get far less than they deserve (which, actually seems to have always been the case, but this is going in the wrong direction). Should serious music fans consider purchasing music in a traditional way (e.g., cds, records), and, even better, from the musicians themselves?

Another question: Why can’t artists ever take control of the distribution so that they can receive the majority of the profits?