1. Now that Obama has hit Russia with sanctions, we can see how “free enterprise” works in Russia’s  so-called democracy: If you are fortunate to be a friend of Putin’s, then you will find yourself owning, or the CEO, of one of Russia’s financial/banking sectors or of one of its  industrial, mining, or gas/oil  sectors. Putin’s multi-billionaire friends are everywhere to be found, his enemies, impoverished, cowed and/or jailed by Putin,  are nowhere to be found—at least not owning or heading any important parts of Russia’s economy, or wielding any significant political opposition to Putin himself. In Russia, Putin is all in all. He reigns over a comradeship of thieves, stealing the wealth of Russia and concentrating it in his own hands as well as those of his closest friends and allies.

This authoritarian government, run by and for Putin and his friends as if they themselves held land-title to all of Russia, was run the same way under Communism. Then, communist leaders and their friends, and other important officials, all became exceedingly rich, while the average (proletarian) Russian suffered the indignities of a cruel, unpredictable dictatorship heaped upon bone-chilling poverty and inadequate health care. These Communist leaders of the Proletariat were regal in all but name—just as now under (Czar) Putin.  Forget free enterprise, forget democracy, forget human rights. Putin, like Stalin, has in his political vocabulary only three (five-letter) words, whether in affairs at home or abroad: might, power, and force. That’s his escutcheon, which is also a summation of his personality. He’s an insecure, egocentric psychopath, hence he brooks no opposition, no contrary views. Ice-water runs in his veins. He’s a little man with a big swagger, rough talking and rough acting. He believes in, exalts, and worships violence. Reason, debate, inquiry are for him dead letters. Faith as the true guide to practical living he utterly rejects. Such is the present leader of Russia, a great country but ever in tears of sorrow and anguish, from Peter the Great up to the present day. For in Russia, there exists no clock: the past is the present, and the present is the past, and both are prologue to the future.

2. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a six-grader saved a fellow student from serious injury when she saw him cutting his wrist with a razor and rushed over to him, grabbing the razor and throwing it away. For her swift, meritorious conduct—for the love of her fellow human being—what reward did she get?—suspension from school, and possible termination!

But the one person who clearly needs to be terminated is not our young heroine but the principalherself, for such an egregious decision of the first order. Since when do we punish noble acts? Where are our values? our commonsense? our fellow-feeling?  our kindness? Are we become so vicious, so right-wing a nation, so dumb of heart and mind that this little girl’s courageous, noble, and Christian act brings only official reprisals, and condemnation heaped upon her head? O America, America, for thee I do weep.

Len Sive Jr.