Ukraine, U.S.A.

     Nevada is our Ukraine.
     No one is in charge of eastern Ukraine right now: not Kiev, not Moscow, not the Russian-speaking Ukrainians. No one.
     And no one was in charge of Nevada last week when the gun-toting friends of the racist rancher whose name I refuse to mention threatened to shoot Bureau of Land Management workers for having the unmitigated gall to ask the rancher to pay $1.35 a month for grazing his cattle on public land – on your land and mine.
     What’s the difference between Kiev, Carson City and Washington, D.C., if none of them can enforce their own laws on their own land, without fear of being shot by fascist goons?
     Those automatic weapon-toting U.S. terrorists in Nevada are just as vile as the thugs Vladimir Putin is encouraging to terrorize the Ukraine. And the U.S. response to Ukraine shows more guts than our response to the terrorism in Nevada.
     U.S. politics today can be summed up in six words: Republicans are liars; Democrats are cowards. After you’ve said that, the subject of U.S. politics is, if I may say so, exhausted.
     Until the rancher went on his dearly beloved Fox TV to make overtly racist comments about freeloading black people, this freeloading nitwit was a darling of our so-called “conservatives,” who are better described as weak fascists.
     Doctor Johnson said in 1775 that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It’s true today. This racist rancher has been sucking government tit for two decades, refusing to pay the measly $1.35 a month per cow that the United States charges to graze cows on public land – far cheaper than it would cost him to buy, or, heaven forbid, cut the fodder himself.
     This guy says, to adulation by Fox News and a stream of Republican officeholders, that the government of the United States does not exist, and to prove it he drives around with a U.S. flag on his car.
     Almost as revolting as the man himself, and the mealymouthed Republican senators and congressmen who smooch his vile, vicious butt, are the Democrats who refuse to come out and call the guy what he is: a mooch, a criminal, a lowlife welfare queen.
     But enough about him. Let’s talk about Vietnam.
     Wednesday was the 39th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. I’m sure that you enjoyed, as I did, all the newspaper articles and TV shows commemorating that day.
     I jest. I didn’t see a one of them. Did you?
     I remember the day long ago that I bought a newspaper to see what my draft number was, and whether I would have to participate in that vile war, or go to jail for refusing.
     I got draft number 323. I was out of it.
     I expected that my first feeling would be relief, but it was not. My brain’s first thought upon seeing that magic number was: “What a smart (expletive deleted) Nixon is.” He had bought me off, and bought off half the men my age, by giving us an out. He’d split the country in two.
     It was an outgrowth of his famous “Southern Strategy,” which still dominates U.S. politics: Split up the country into factions, into smaller and smaller factions, then pit them against one another, and exploit each faction the best you can. Then amid the turmoil you have festered, slink away with your office – and, if I may coin a phrase, the entitlements of office.
     What a way to govern.
     But that’s how our country is run today.

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