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Shchedryk

Posted on: June 17, 2022

Hello Widdershins,

The 1/6 Commission continues to hold hearings, revealing more and more details about how much planning Trump and Friends were doing to overthrow the US Government. 99.999999% of Republican went along with Trump’s plan. And they are all continuing to support him now. The notable exceptions you can count on maybe two hands. The coup is ongoing.

Also ongoing is the war in Ukraine. Putin continues offensives in parts of the country, even as other regions – including the capitol Kyiv – have seemingly resumed their normal lives. How odd to live a normal life in Kyiv while war rages not far away. Germany, France, and Italy continue to enable Putin by calling for Europe and US to not humiliate Putin. They continue to veto providing certain weapons to Ukraine. They continue to cast doubt on Ukraine being able to join the EU. This week the three leaders of these nations finally came to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy. But someone called this image of Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy “Judas’ Kiss.” That may be what Zelenskyy is thinking.

French President Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Mykola Leontovych

The ancient Ukrainian folk chant Shchedryk (based on a simple 4 note pattern, which people used to believe had magical properties) about a swallow that flew into a house on New Year (before Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year was in April), sang about all the good things the family had achieved, and promised to return the following New Year/Spring. The word “shchedry” actually means “generous.” After Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year moved to January and the chant became associated with the Feast of Epiphany, which took place on January 18th – what is called “The Old New Year” – which was New Year on the Julian calendar. Ukrainians called this the “Shchedry vechir,” or “Generous Evening.” (All other things aside: that’s how old Ukraine is, in spite of what Putin likes to believe when he discusses Russian history.) Back to Shchedryk: in 1904 the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) composed a song based on this ancient 4-note motif, for a cappella choir, though the song was not premiered until 1916. On January 21-22, 1921, Leontovych was visiting his parents for the Eastern Orthodox Feast of Nativity in the town of Tulchyn. A man asked the family to stay with them for the night because he had nowhere else to go. They agreed and he shared the room with Leontovych. In the morning the man – who turned out to be a Chekist (Soviet secret service agent) Afanasy Grishchenko – shot Leontovych, who bled to death from the wounds. Later that year, in October 1921, the Ukrainian National Chorus performed Leontovych’s Shchedryk in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Among those present was the American composer Peter Wilhousky – who was so struck by the work that he replaced the ancient Ukrainian text with completely unrelated English words, eventually copyrighted them, and today the composition is known in the West as the Christmas carol “Carol of the Bells.” While Leontovych is revered in Ukraine (in his own time, the French called him the Ukrainian Bach), in the West he is forgotten and and no one even knows he composed one of our most frequently performed songs. Here it is then: as composed by Leontovych in 1904, using the ancient 4-note motif, with its original ancient Ukrainian text.

Happy hump day Widdershins!

The January 6 commission is about to hold public hearings to show some of the mountains of evidence they have collected with about 1,000 interviews and many thousands of documents. One “news” network has decided not to air it. We all know which one. They need to protect themselves, I suppose, since we know some of their highest rated prime time hosts were active participants in the attempted coup. They are also trying to protect their audience from the truth. Meanwhile, as we know, they held countless hours of hearings about Benghazi. But an attempt to overthrow the US government is not big enough news for them.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

– CNN

The hearings begin tomorrow. Will they make any difference? I’m trying to be optimistic…

Mariupol, Ukraine. Azovstal steel plant, May 16, 2022

Hello Widdershins,

There are some developments, still a developing story, on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Just a few months ago a beautiful ocean front city. Today a complete ruin, with many thousands of its citizens dead from shelling by Russia. The last remaining Ukrainian troops (what’s left of the Azov Battalion, Mariupol’s last defenders, accused by Russia and the Alt-left of being Nazis, which is a lie) and many civilians, have been barricaded inside the Azovstal steel plant. Even the Pope asked Putin to allow people to be evacuated from Mariupol, under Papal flags. Putin refused. But it seems that finally some deal was reached between Ukraine and Russia, to evacuate at least the wounded in the plant. They have already been taken to Russia-occupied territories. The expectation is that they will be prisoner swapped with the numerous Russians being held in Ukraine. Let us hope this happens. Zelenskyy will be delivering a speech in Kyiv about this later. Ukrainian government is saying the order to the Azov Battalion was to hold out at all costs to distract Russia from other parts of Ukraine. If true, certainly they accomplished the unimaginable – at a horrific cost. This story is developing.

When Putin invaded Ukraine, I was told by a few people that Putin is a real genius who plays 100 dimension chess. Well, the stable genius just got Sweden – militarily neutral for 200 years – to officially announce they will apply to join NATO. Finland also said they will join NATO. Interestingly for a few months now Putin and his lackeys were saber rattling, threatening nuclear war, if either country did this. As soon as both Sweden and Finland made their plans official, Putin came back with “Oh well, who cares.” It’s an interesting walk-back from Putin and it should be a lesson to Germany and France, and any other country that demands Ukraine give up some of its territories so Putin can “save face.” If confronted, finally, for the first time in his rule, confronted, Putin is likelier to back off. Sweden and Finland told Putin they didn’t care about his wishes. Putin slithered away. Meanwhile, Macron and Scholz keep talking about partitioning Ukraine so Putin can get an off-ramp. Partitioning of lands does not have a good history of keeping the peace. In our modern times, India and Pakistan are still at war. The Middle East is still at war. And Germany never quite accepted the partitioning of Germany and Berlin. Why do Scholz and Macron imagine giving away pieces of Ukraine will bring about peace? It will simply bring another war later. History tells us this with a lot of examples.

On the American front, there’s much to shake our heads at. A white supremacist murdered 10 people in Buffalo, NY. He specifically targeted people of color, claiming in his manifesto that the “White replacement theory” is real. This is the “You will not replace us” conspiracy theory that inspired the Charlottesville (very fine people!) marches. Tucker Carlson and most of Fox preaches it every day. Republican Representative – 3rd ranking Republicans in the House, Elise Stefanik – was pushing this theory on her facebook pages. (Stefanik replaced Liz Cheney after Cheney was expelled from leadership for not supporting the Insurrection.) JD Vance also pushed this theory. It’s now one of the most prevalent Republican led messages; they shout it out from the rooftops, they are running for office on this.

Happy Weekend Widdershins!

This past week saw some Twitter craziness as the world’s richest man – and one of its biggest social media trolls – Elon Musk announced that he’s buying Twitter. $44 billion was raised – much of it Musk leveraged his holdings in Tesla, which sent its stock plummeting. Whether the deal closes or not remains to be seen, but if it does Musk will turn Twitter into an incel-dominated (even more than it is now!) white supremacist neo-Nazi right-wing MAGA libertarian cesspool. In the past Musk supported Obama and HRC, but MAGA years brought out his libertarianism to the forefront. And all that is expected to happen right before the midterms! Funny that, isn’t it? The latest report is it was Peter Thiel and Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey who convinced Musk to make the bid. Talk about a deep state – billionaire tech-bros ravaging our social media landscape. We will have to wait and see how this all works out.

More Mark Meadows texts were released, including Maria Bartiromo of Faux News, hours before the insurrection, arranging with Meadows what questions she would ask Trump in an upcoming interview and giving Trump advice on how to handle himself. Nobody at Faux thinks this is problematic.

It also seems the January 6th Commission has announced that the first public hearings will be held June 9th. Fasten your seatbelts. Jamie Raskin says it will blow the lid off the House. I like Raskin’s enthusiasm, though I remain skeptical that anybody in the public cares about anything. Everybody knows what happened and none of it changed their minds. Kevin McCarthy has not been removed from his GOP leadership position.

Madison Cawthorn and staffer/possible cousin/housemate Stephen Smith

The only Republican being destroyed by his fellow Republicans is Madison Cawthorn. GOP didn’t care that he’s an insurrectionist racist neo-Nazi fascist. But they did get really mad when he said he knows Republican lawmakers having cocaine fueled sex parties. Boy did that unleash a storm of GOP condemnation and leaks of materials embarrassing to Cawthorn. Suggestive (and homoerotic) photos and videos suddenly began leaking. That’s in addition to accusations of potential insider trading and inappropriate use of funds because, it seems, he’s been paying the bills of his staffer (and housemate and, possibly cousin. This is the man in the photos and videos with Cawthorn behaving like Rudy Giuliani with his cousins. In one video Smith is seen briefly grabbing Cawthorn’s crotch). Cawthorn is laughing the images off, but we will see how his election goes. What’s interesting to me about this is that Cawthorn is a new member of the GOP delegation. And GOP had all this stuff on him, ready to go. Imagine what the GOP has on everyone else, that doesn’t leak. How big is their file on Lindsey Graham? Is this how GOP keeps their caucus so on-the-message?

This is an open thread.

War con’t

Posted on: April 12, 2022

Marc Chagall’s “The Ukrainian Family” (painted 1940-43)

The War in Ukraine continues. Putin’s endgame is really unclear. He wanted to take Ukraine, but that plan failed spectacularly. He will probably try to settle for officially keeping Crimea and the Donbas region. That’s where Western intelligence agencies believe the final battles of this war will be fought. And they predict it will be bloody. Either Putin wins there and declare victory. Or thousands will die and he will be “deposed” at home because such a humiliating failure (he is already quite embarrassed by how poorly his war has gone) won’t be tolerated in Russia. The long-term problem, of course, is that Ukraine can never trust Russia again. Even without Putin in charge Russian people have shown themselves to be quite excited about what Putin is doing. Going forward Ukraine will have an angry and humiliated enemy on its border. European Union says they are expediting Ukraine’s membership in the EU. They plan to have a meeting (you know, a meeting to plan more meetings) within the next few weeks. That will be a great symbolic gesture, which is important. But it won’t stop Russian aggression in the future. NATO is not and never will be interested in accepting Ukraine. So whichever way this particular conflict ends – and whenever that is – Ukraine will have an enemy right next door. An enemy that will want vengeance.


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