Having supported the futile U.S. war in Afghanistan throughout their congressional careers, helping to flush $2 trillion down the toilet of that primitive and ungovernable land, Connecticut U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy this week flew off to Ukraine in the hope of getting their country into a war with Russia -- right on Russia's own border.
The senators said they wanted "to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Ukraine," which long was part of the Soviet Union and, indeed, was the birthplace of Russia itself.
Many Ukrainians want nothing to do with Russia anymore, but some do, and Russia is meddling in their civil war, incentivized by the eagerness of the anti-Russian side to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and thereby oblige the United States and Western Europe to defend Ukraine militarily.
Russia doesn't want U.S. and NATO forces in Ukraine for the same reason the United States doesn't want Russian forces in Cuba and Mexico. That is, both sides want some distance between them and any forces that could attack quickly.
The Russian regime is brutal. But buffers between great powers help keep the peace. The expansion of NATO into eastern Europe has been a provocation to Russia. Murphy says this expansion would "protect U.S. national security interests," but the United States has none in Ukraine, whose government is incompetent and corrupt, just like Afghanistan's was and remains.
If the United States and NATO stay out of Ukraine and Russia invades anyway, Russia will have more of a problem than anyone else as it tries to subdue a hostile population. The West's battle lines are simply not defensible so far east.
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FIRST HE MADE IDIOTS: Accountability isn't a problem only in police work in Connecticut, as the General Assembly thinks. Accountability is just as much a problem in public education, which often isn't public at all, as the Board of Education in Windsor Locks is demonstrating.
The board recently proposed to prohibit at its meetings any public criticism or complaint about school personnel or anyone connected with the school system. The proposal said any criticism or complaints involving school staff should be made to the superintendent, presumably in private.
While the board's chairman, Dennis Gragnolati, seems to be backing away from the proposal, he said the new policy was needed because teachers and administrators who are criticized at board meetings can't defend themselves. Nonsense. Particular teachers or administrators may not be present when they are criticized at a meeting, but they can be invited to respond at a later one.
The Windsor Locks teachers union fairly suspects that the censorship policy was proposed in retaliation for criticism the union president directed at the superintendent at a board meeting in November, and thus the policy is meant to silence teachers as well as townspeople. Of course criticism of school personnel still could be made in other public forums, like newspapers, internet sites, and television and radio broadcasts, but criticism is most relevant when made directly in public to the officials who have jurisdiction over who or what is being criticized.
At least it's nice to see a teacher union in Connecticut clamoring for openness, since those unions long have been benefiting from and defending unaccountability in a different way.
That is, at the insistence of Connecticut's teacher unions, for almost 40 years state government has exempted teacher evaluations from disclosure under the state's freedom-of-information law, an exemption granted to no other state and municipal employees.
It's still legal to criticize teachers in Connecticut but concealing their evaluations makes it much harder to criticize them with any authority -- the objective of the evaluation secrecy law.
No one gets rich serving on a school board. There is no financial compensation. It's community service.
But as Harry Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can't stand the controversy of a school board but remain on the board anyway and impose censorship like what has been proposed in Windsor Locks, you validate Mark Twain's observation: "In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards."
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.