Dear Bush Beat . . .

You're a moron . . . you're nuts . . . you're a nut case . . . Chechnya is nuts

Robert Hicks of Linden, Virginia, writes:

The fact that the rest of the world wants Bush out is the best reason to keep him in.

Thank you for reading.

Jan Mider writes:

We are America, and WE vote for our leaders. We do not, by any means, have to see what the rest of the world thinks we should do. If we thought like this in the past, we would have English or German accents.

Thank you for reading, Fräulein Mider.

Mike Manuel writes:

Hey, moron, the rest of the world doesn't get to vote in the American elections—in case you didn't know, you fucking moron. Thank GOD for that. If more people in the U.S. like Kerry, then they should have registered to vote, but of course they are too stupid and lazy. Again, thank GOD for that.

Thank you for having someone read my column to you.

Kyle Towers, a manufacturing engineer in Avilla, Indiana, writes:

I was bowled over by the indignation regarding "conservative schemes to make the states, instead of the federal government, responsible for the general social welfare." Apparently Mr. Harkavy is less than familiar with the Constitution of the U.S. . . . If Mr. Harkavy can find where the Constitution enumerates the power of Congress to administer the "social programs" that he believes "go begging," I will be mightily impressed. Assuming that he cannot (a reasonable assumption), then any efforts directed toward shifting such responsibilities can only be interpreted as being moves to restore constitutional government to the U.S. That doesn't deserve to be derided and dismissed as "conservative schemes."

Thank you for reading. I guess I just don't understand, Kyle, why the Constitution's "promote the general welfare" has to mean "promote corporate welfare."

Mike Callis of Tennessee writes:

Y'all are a bunch of nut cases.

Thank you for reading. Well, Mike, some of us are. But at least that's better than being a pod person.

Neil Tessler writes:

The preeminent source of quality information on Chechnya—that gives you the full measure of the mead, without your actually having your ear sliced off before you're garroted—is the Yahoo group Chechnya-sl.

I have been following this collection of readings from all sides of the conflict for four years, from about the time the Russians rocketed the Grozny public market, killing several hundred people (denying they ever did it) as the prelude to the carpet bombing of Grozny (which also never happened). From beginning to the present, to read the harrowing reality vs. the endless string of Russian denials is an enormous political education. Lazy Western journalists and indifferent politicians simply don't have a clue as to the significance of what is occurring, who this Putin is with whom they are all kissy-face. The Russians take America's lead but go the next step with language and action as total as that of the Asiatic hordes of the Dark Ages.

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Thank you for reading. And Neil, thanks for the suggestion. I signed up for Chechnya-sl (Chechnya Short List), and e-mail started pouring in, much of it invaluable translations into English from European papers and TV. Run by Norbert Strade out of Denmark, the site is much more of a news service than a typical moderated discussion list. And what stories! Whew! Frightening, absurd, eerie, sad. A real tangle of political and human drama, from all sides.

Mixed with the more dramatic stuff are snatches of background material that may help people try to understand what's going on over there. On September 21, for example, members of the newsgroup received a translation of some fascinating history, part of it a 60-year-old text written by Caucasus historian Abdurahkman Avtorkhanov. (For a fascinating modern perspective on this major figure, see this Chechen Times piece.) Plus, there was the added background of how Stalin, who had revived the Chechnya-Ingushetia region and had even given it some autonomy, suddenly reversed himself in the mid '40s. He uprooted all the inhabitants of what was Chechnya-Ingushetia and expelled them to what is now Kazakhstan, liquidating overnight their "republic."

(Digression: In 1957, many of the exiles were allowed by Khrushchev to return; they were, and are, brimming with bitterness. When the Soviet empire collapsed, Chechnya declared independence, but hardly any other country recognized it. In 1994, Boris Yeltsin sent troops there to prevent secession—southern Chechnya has valuable reserves of oil. Between 1994 and 2002, almost 40,000 people have been killed in the warfare between Russian federal troops and various feuding Chechen factions, by some accounts. What a tragic mess. End of digression.)

The September 21 Chechnya-sl post continued:

It is well-known that the Bolsheviks considered the struggle of oppressed peoples for their national liberation and independence as justifiable when it took place before the establishment of the Soviet regime. Any national liberation struggle in the Soviet Union, on the other hand, was not only condemned but mercilessly quelled.

Russia is Russia, in other words, whether it's Soviet or post-Soviet. Russian President Vladimir Putin is eager to portray the present Caucasus turbulence as part of "international terrorism" and somehow tied to the Bush-Cheney "war on terror." But the revolt Putin faces has deeper roots than that.

You'll find a link to Chechnya-sl on this Danish page of English links to Chechnya info. You can also go to Wikipedia's Chechnya page to get a ton of other links and info. It's worth the trouble, if for no other reason than Putin is a player in American politics and business. And he's a pal not just of Republicans, but also Democrats. More on that later.

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