Wed, Apr

As Joan Rivers Would Ask, “Can We Talk?”


THE VIEW FROM HERE - Being honest is something we avoid.   This is not at a time when we need be honest whether Heidi Abramowitz was fat. 

Rather, we need to talk about the criminal mentality of some of the people whom we allow to become our leaders.  When I say “we,” I am referring to all peoples. 

Few will talk about Putin’s actions in Ukraine being similar to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.  Immediately, people jump to the end of the Nazi regime as if one can make comparisons only when some madman has reached that extreme. The comparison needs to be made with Putin in 2022 and Hitler in 1939.  More than lining up action vis a vis action, we need to assess the mentality of the two men. 

On September 1, 1939 Hitler accused Poland of persecuting ethnic Germans living in Poland, falsely claiming that Poland was planning, with its allies Great Britain and France, to encircle and dismember Germany. In February 2022, Putin accused Ukraine of persecuting ethnic Russians and that the West was encroaching on Russia and NATO was planning an attack on Russia.  From the standpoint of assessing Hitler’s and Putin’s mentality,  both had paranoid ideation of being attacked, had no regard for the truth, and cared not a whit about human suffering. 

As for the mentality of leaders who watch the invasion of sovereign nations, on August 22, 1939, Hitler warned the world: 

“Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”  Putin refers to his nuclear missiles.

In 1938, the West had acquiesced to the taking of the Sudetenland, giving rise to Chamberlain’s infamous claim, “Peace in our time.”  Who among us knows whether Biden and other Western leaders have the mentality to take effective action or are merely putting on a charade to avoid being compared to Chamberlain? The US has not even stopped importing Russian oil. Since Putin invaded Ukraine, the price he is getting for oil is close to double, while we seize an oligarch’s yacht.  We the people don’t want to say anything since we do not know what is actually happening behind the scenes. Collective world action is crucial. Look how long it to Bush I to assemble world opinion in order to boot Saddam out of Kuwait.  On the other hand, has Biden made any statements similar to George W.H. Bush’s August 5, 1990's declaration, “This shall not stand!”? 

We Have Similar Issues Closer to Los Angeles 

Yes, it’s a quick pivot, but we need to assess the mentality of local leaders and compare them to what is happening in Ukraine. Two real problems in assessing a leader’s mentality: (1) we cannot open their skulls and look inside, (2) how to recognize a similar mentality when the degree to which it has impacted people is less. 

Let’s be more concrete.  Putin is destroying civilian apartments making tens of thousands homeless and resulting in the deaths of thousands of others who die in the aftermath. In Los Angeles, our developer oligarchs with the 100% unanimous support of the city council and the courts have destroyed the homes of tens of thousands poor people, shoving them onto the streets where the disabled, single mothers and their children, and the elderly have been suffering and dying for years. Yet, the developer oligarchs continue the destruction of poor people’s homes to enrich themselves under the protection of judges like Richard Fruin who feels that the city council’s conduct is de facto non-justiciable, i.e., above the law. 

Like obedient propagandists in the Soviet Union, er under Putin, the Los Angeles Times has supported the mass destruction of the RSO units and concealed the cause of the homeless crisis. Taking a page from both the Nazis and Putin who blame their victims, the LA Times cites the mentally ill, criminals and drug addicts as the cause of the homeless crisis while being silent about the mass destruction of RSO units. Other illicit machinations of city hall have also fraudulently hyped housing prices such as Spot Zoning, which the LA Times supported in its campaign against Measure S.  March 2, 2017, Urban Growth Machine Trashes Measure S … with LA Times Support, by Dick Platkin Unlike Putin, Mayor Garcetti need not issue edits and threats against the LA Times since it  eagerly shills for the developer oligarchs.  As The New Yorker implied in October 25, 2021, the esteemed Dr. Soon-Shiong purchased the LA Times as his way to buy into LA’s elite (“The L.A. Times has long been a trophy for the city’s élite.”)  https://bit.ly/3sNH2kE  The city’s own November 17, 2015 HCIDLA found new market rate apartments had a 12% vacancy rate (only5% was acceptable) and the city has continued to construct high end apartments and demolish RSO units.  “The high vacancy rate for newer, more expensive housing exemplifies the disparity in the type of housing being built demonstrating that new, higher cost housing, is out of reach for many Angelenos.“ 2015-11-17 HCIDLA report, p 3 

Putin did not invade Ukraine on a whim or inadvertently, and LA’s oligarch developers did not cram the city with dense and unwanted high cost housing while destroying poor people’s homes on a whim or inadvertence.  The mentality of the abusive power mongers, be they in Russia or in LA, is the same.  It is calculating, cold, and done with a near psychopathic disregard for the welfare of other human beings.  

Who wants to admit complicity by their looking away as others suffer and die? (“Evil prevails when good people remain silent.”) When the wrecking ball demolishes poor people’s homes in LA, it is less dramatic than when a Putin missile blows up an Ukrainian apartment complex. Sure, there are differences. In Los Angeles a kindly judge will first order the poor onto the street and the Ellis Act be damned. Putin’s missiles do not have judges as advance men.  Differences without a distinction, except for the degree and rapidity which Putin destroys people’s lives. 

We Angelenos need to talk, but we won’t.


(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor.  You may email him at [email protected])