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SAY WHAT? - In a blessed move acknowledged by Chuck Schumer as not just years but generations overdue, the Senate confirmed eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman and first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court; her confirmation will also mark a tipping point for a Court that will now, for the first time in its 233-year history, no longer have a majority of white men. The well-earned  ascendance of Jackson, in a final tally of 53-47, was made just a bit sweeter by being presided over by Kamala Harris, this country's first female Vice-President of color; you could see her trying not to smile at the vision of women of color taking over the whole damn joint, and not a moment too soon. Harris later said the occasion made "an important statement about who we are as a nation," or at least, perhaps more accurately, who we aspire to be. Many others likewise rejoiced, from a beaming Cory Booker to members of the Black Caucus in "Black Women Are Supreme" t-shirts to Rep. Ayanna Pressley celebrating the signal to black girls that, "We belong everywhere."

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SAY WHAT? - EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content.  A Ukrainian volunteer In Bucha works to unbind the wrists of a dead man, his hands tied behind his back. Visiting the ravaged town, President Zelensky accused Russia of committing genocide after the discovery of mass graves and many executed civilians left in fields and on roadsides. Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images 

Really, we have no words. But the stomach-churning stories and images emerging from Bucha and other Ukraine towns call for some response, acknowledgement, lamentation, as powerless as it is. "While we all have seen many painful videos and pictures in recent weeks, nothing can be compared to what we've seen from Bucha," said Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who called the grisly evidence of Russian war crimes "unspeakable." Bloody bodies half buried in dirt, many with hands tied behind them. Bodies slung into muddy mass graves, boots and feet emerging. Bodies left lying in the street where they were struck down, or toppled over bikes, or stuffed into wells, or splayed in ignoble piles under hastily thrown tarps. Women raped, men tortured, cities become dark, twisted rubble, cars strafed by bullets despite "Children" scratched into them, a helpless, hopeful hedge against death. The mayor of Motyzhyn, her husband and their son shot at close range and dumped in a shallow grave, reportedly after beingtortured when they refused to cooperate. "This is not a special military operation," said one resident. "This is genocide."

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SAY WHAT? - The horrors, little-reported, persist for Palestinians trapped by Israel's brutal apartheid regime. One of its latest, smallest victims is Fatima al-Masri, who died in besieged Gaza on the morning of March 25 after waiting five months for Israel to issue a permit allowing her to travel for treatment for a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart, diagnosed last year. Fatima was 19 months old. Her father Jalal al-Masri said Fatima missed two medical appointments at Jerusalem’s al-Makassed Hospital in December and February while the family awaited a “review” by Israel's Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), which handles Palestinian travel permits. Meanwhile, she kept getting sicker. Given a years-long Israeli blockade that rights advocates say has "suffocated" Gaza's health system and left it “flat on its back" with serious shortages, very ill Palestinians must seek, and often long wait for, permits to get treatment elsewhere - a common form of what they call "bureaucratic violence" at the core of apartheid practices that have only grown worse with the pandemic. Even then, rights groups say Israel denies care in about 30% of even the most urgent cases. According to Palestinian NGO Al- Mezan Center for Human Rights, which took on Fatima’s case, at least 71 Palestinians, including 25 women and nine children, have died since 2011 following Israeli delays or denials of exit permits.

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SAY WHAT? - Amidst the ongoing barbarity of the war in Ukraine, sacred and profane border guard Roman Hrybov was just awarded a medal for his chutzpah in facing down a Russian ship demanding he and fellow soldiers trapped on Snake Island surrender - an order to which he now-famously replied, "Russian warship, go fuck yourself." On the first day of the Russian invasion, Hrybov was one of 13 Ukrainian guards defending the small rocky Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island, in the Black Sea off the port of Odesa, when a commander on the Vasily Bykov radioed them. "This is a Russian military warship," he said. "Lay down your weapons and surrender... Otherwise, you will be bombed." On the audio later released, a scratchy silence ensued. Then, a voice that turned out to be Hrybov's offered the defiant rejoinder that became so synonymous with the grit displayed by fellow patriots it's now memorialized in a new Ukrainian stamp. With no means of defence or escape, early reports said the 13 men had been killed after refusing to surrender. But several days later, Ukraine officials announced most were stil alive and had been taken captive. Earlier this month, they were freed as part of the first major prisoner exchange for 11 captured Russian sailors; by then, the Vasily Bykov had been hit and sunk by the Ukrainian Navy.

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SAY WHAT? - Woefully predictably, the GOP turned Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court into a noxious maelstrom of frat boy "whiteness at work," with relentless, hectoring assaults by a "marauding band of racist, sexist visigoths" who managed to transform a more-than-eminently qualified black female judge into a child-porn-loving, critical-race-spewing danger to the Republic. Sadly, the most striking feature of almost four days of hearings was not the historical moment - a nation poised to add, finally, the first black woman to its highest court - but the bullying, badgering, appalling spectacle of the motley collection of ignorant old white guys (and one young one) subjecting a black woman to the kind of contemptuous "jackassery" that no white counterpart, even a sniveling, lying, bellicose, sexual-assaulting bro, would ever suffer, like, say, being asked the definition of a woman or if babies are racist - WTF - all while she dutifully kept smiling, mostly.

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SAY WHAT? - Despite a flood of fake news about some slight disturbance in some backwater place called Ukraine, it turns out the true fight for liberty has been unfurling for weeks in our own, troubled, mask-enslaved country, where a noble Freedom Convoy of truckers - at one time touted to draw up to 100,000, but currently topped out at about 100 diesel-guzzling souls stubbornly impervious to reality - has come to save us. The story behind the convoy is long and winding. We told it a while ago in a lengthy post our computer then devoured in one malignant gulp, so we're not dredging up the links again; here's two to prove we're not making it up.) In brief: In thrall to the Flu Trucks Klan hordes who invaded Canada this winter, two truck convoys set out from California on Feb. 23 for Washington D.C., or possibly not really into D.C. but somewhere around there, unless a select few decided to actually go into D.C., but they weren't sure. Their initial goal was to disrupt Biden's State of the Union speech - yes it was that long ago - and occupy D.C. (or not) to protest evil, life-saving COVID restrictions like vaccine mandates behind lofty if QAnon-flavored slogans like "Let's Go Brandon" "Rise Up!" "Blinded by the Mask" "Jesus Saves" and other stuff for freedumb. Also to whine about other things in guvment, like CRT and socialism, they might not like though they're not sure what they are, but still. Unfortunately, by the time they left, mandates were largely a thing of the past. Also, unfortunately, the next day, a bloodthirsty madman invaded Ukraine, which swiftly garnered the attention of a famously fickle media, as, in this case, it should have.

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SAY WHAT? - As Russia's brutal assault uproots the lives of nearly a quarter of Ukraine's population, the world rises in striking unanimity, and in  wildly disparate ways, against it. Especially brave, given a mad czar who's taken to calling critics "gnats," “bastards and traitors” to be purged, is resistance from Russia itself. This week, Putin forced out Arkady Dvorkovich, head of a prominent technology foundation and the International Chess Foundation, after he "took the side of the enemy" by telling Mother Jones, "My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians” and, "Wars kill hopes and aspirations." In response, Mother Jones has joined a global campaign by alternative media outlets to save Meduza, Russia's last remaining independent newsroom, still working to "get the truth about the war to Russians every day." Improbably but effectively joining that effort is America's own Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who posted a heartfelt, now-viral video addressed directly to Russian soldiers, who evidently love him. Refuting the lies to blame only the Kremlin - "This is not the Russian people's war” - he echoed a video he made after Jan. 6 that summoned dark Nazi history he witnessed as a child that turned his father and many others into "broken men drinking away the guilt." "You already know much of the truth I have been speaking," he said. "I don't want you to be broken like my father." 

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SAY WHAT? - As Russia's war against Ukraine grinds on - and its captured, troubled foot-soldiers begin to concede, "We all will be judged" - activists in France and the U.K. affirmed private property is theft, especially when owned by accomplices to war crimes, by seizing two massive "Mafia castles" owned by Russian oligarchs, claiming them for homeless Ukrainian refugees. In London, squatters calling themselves London Makhnovists - for Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian anarchist and commander who fought to form a stateless society during the Bolshevik Revolution - occupied a £50-million (about $75-million) mansion owned by Russian aluminum magnate and Putiin bestie Oleg Deripaska, who's accumulated over £2.3 billion in ill-gotten gains, not counting his now-sanctioned, multimillion-pound property portfolio in the UK. After entering what they dubbed the "filthy fancy" monolith in the city's upscale Belgrave Square, the anarchists hung a Ukrainian flag and two banners at the front of the balcony declaring, "This Property Has Been Liberated" and "Putin Go Fuck Yourself"; at the other end, they hung one that read, "Power Breeds Parasites. All Tories Are Oligarchs." They danced, played music, sang the Dirty Dancing song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," and reportedly, when they noticed people peering out the windows next door, called, "We're your new neighbors - we'll come over tomorrow with some brisket."

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SAY WHAT? - Bewailing that "war crimes are happening right now," fake newscaster and master of profanity Jonathan Pie - the creation of British comic actor Tom Walker - has lambasted a "gutless" UK, and by extension many Western democracies, for enabling Putin's atrocities in Ukraine by long and blindly doing business with him - in the U.K.'s case, by becoming "the money laundering capitol of the world" for billionaire Russian oligarchs. Having made a name for himself as a television journalist who often takes  withering detours to rail about political hypocrisy in foul-mouthed tirades, Pie filmed a furious New York Times op-ed to decry sketchy U.K. loopholes - "Welcome to Londongrad" - that have encouraged Russian billionaires, many with direct links to the Kremlin, to hide their money there. They've bought ritzy real estate - many thousands of homes bought by anonymous billionaires through off-shore companies - soccer clubs, vodka companies, newspapers, yachts. "Rinsing dirty money clean" is "the only industry we have left," he says. "For 20 years, Putin's been using our own greed against us."

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SAY WHAT? - Over 400 years after trafficking African slaves to the New World and through a century of nearly 200 failed efforts during seven U.S. presidential administrations, Congress has at long last rendered it a hate crime to hang from the limb of a tree until dead the overwhelmingly innocent African-American descendants of those slaves. Named for the 14-year-old black boy savagely murdered 67 years ago for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act makes lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It passed the Senate Monday night by almost-unheard-of unanimous consent, and now goes to Biden to be signed. Not long ago, the grotesquerie of lynching was such a popular crowdpleaser that enterprising capitalists sold postcards of the events: "Token of A Great Day." The Equal Justice Initiative has documented at least 4,081 lynchings in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950; the NAACP,looking even closer to the here and now, reports at least 4,743 lynchings, with almost all black victims, between 1882 and 1968. Still, it's taken over 100 years for America to agree black lives should matter at least enough to stop the grisly carnage.

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SAY WHAT? - Even as global media outlets halt broadcasts across Russia in response to Putin's increasingly dystopian censorship efforts, Russian authorities pulled their shroud of paranoia and repression ever tighter by shutting down what is reportedly the country's last independent media outlet, the youth-focused TV Rain. State officials announced the suspension after TV Rain reporters flouted Putin's Stalin-esque "special operation" moniker for his savage invasion of Ukraine by speaking truth to power and calling it what it obviously is, a "war." The country's Orwellian censors surreally turned that act, in other parts of the world deemed doing their job, into the "purposeful and systematic" posting of “information calling for extremist and violent acts.” 

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SAY WHAT? - With so much fast-moving news in Ukraine - bad, good, ambiguous - a quick update. Among Russian atrocities is ongoing heavy bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, after a Russian rocket strike on downtown's Freedom Square killed at least 11 people and wounded 35, with the death toll expected to rise. As Russia's military implausibly claimed it "takes all measures to preserve the lives and safety of civilians" by using "exclusively precision weapons (only) on military targets," President Volodymyr Zelensky got real, calling the attack "a war crime" and "frank, undisguised terror." "Nobody will forgive," he said. "Nobody will forget." On Tuesday, even as emergency workers toiled to put out over 20 fires and disable about 70 explosive devices left behind, Ukrainian forces continued fighting back. It was also revealed that Russia's Monday attack on Kyiv's TV tower hit, among apartments and other citivilian sites, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial. The site marks one of the worst mass murders during the Holocaust, when nearly 34,000 Jews were killed by SS troops during two bloody days in 1941, some of an estimated 100,000 ultimately massacred there. Tweeted Zelensky, a Jew who lost many family members: "History repeating." And so much for Putin's "de-Nazifying."

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SAY WHAT? - "VLADI GO HOME," read the sign held by a woman protester in Germany, thus succinctly summarizing - along with the hashtag #PutinIsaWarCriminal - an aghast world's response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia's paranoid, power-mad Ivan-the-Terrible wannabe. The escalation came quickly, with much drama. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky offered an impassioned plea to the Russian people - in Russian, which he typically avoids using - to “listen to the voice of reason” and spare what would be too many lives lost. Putin gave an incendiary, rambling speech about the need to defend the "new republics" from a "nightmare (of) persecution and genocide" by the "Neo-Nazi" regime of Zelensky, who's Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors. America's right-wing tools, goons and useful idiots hastened to take the wrong side, from the stunned lunacy of the former guy - man, woman, person, camera, TV - to the brownshirt bilge of Steve Bannon and Erik Prince, blathering that at least the anti-woke Putin never made your kids read about slavery, use a same-sex bathroom or wear a skirt like Harry Styles. Meanwhile, experts seeing "a preview of great brutality" pondered the surreal implications of Putins's unveiled nuclear threats, murky "endgame" and possible problematic occupation of a nation of 41 million, an act akin to "committing suicide for fear of death," all to assuage the ego and hubris and greed of a guy who may have "lost the plot." And as always, the fearsome costs are borne by the people, whose stories and images quickly began pouring out on hashtags like #Ukraine and #UkraineUnderAttack

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SAY WHAT? - On this date 57 years ago, Malcolm X - former inmate, fierce civil rights warrior, "one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen" and for what he proudly deemed Afro-Americans "our own black shining prince" - was assassinated while giving a speech at New York City's Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He was just 39. Malcolm had become a key figure in the fight for civil rights in part through his fiery oratory, famously insisting, "We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day...by any means necessary." Clear-eyed, he knew the harsh realities of a country where, "We are brutalized because we are black people in America." "I'm not an American. I'm one of 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism," he said in a 1964 speech. "I speak as a victim of America's so-called democracy. You and I have never seem democracy; all we've seen is hypocrisy...We don't see any American dream; we've experienced only the American nightmare." Often, he referenced not just the physical but psychic pain inflicted by our racism. "America's greatest crime against the black man was not slavery or lynching, but (teaching him) to wear a mask of self-hate and self-doubt," he said. "They cripple the bird's wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they."

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SAY WHAT? - Intent on making America bigoted again, GOP-controlled states - because who else would do it - have cavalierly added LGBTQ+ identity to racism as a "divisive" subject in order to support their feverish efforts to push queer or other "other" kids back in the fearful closet with deliberately vague, singularly cruel bills essentially banning any discussion or material that supports, addresses, depicts or even friggin' recognizes the existence of, you know. Because the right's censorship crusade was never gonna stop with Critical Race Theory, their new focus on sexuality in addition to race is a logical extension of an unprecedented "national assault on our education system, censoring both what teachers can say and what students may learn," argues PEN, which has already documented a steep rise in educational gag orders and book bans, often accompanied by uncommonly harsh punishments. Now, they say, "bills silencing speech about LGBTQ+ identities have also surged to the fore," rising on the tide of an anti-Critical-Race-Theory and "indoctrination" hysteria that has "primed the public to support sweeping censorship of classroom speech." The sorry result: a "once-in a generation opportunity" for anti-LGBTQ+ activists to "lock LGBTQ+ topics on the wrong side of the schoolhouse gate."

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SAY WHAT? - In furious tribute to this week's anniversary of the murder of his 17-year-old son Joaquin and 16 others in one of this country's worst mass school shootings, Manuel Oliver scaleda towering construction crane across from the White House to remind its occupant that 45,000 people, still and all, had "died of gun violence on your watch." Oliver's action on Monday came exactly four years after a gunman killed 14 students and three staff, and injured 17 more, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. It also came as Sandy Hook families finally won some accountability from the gunmaker who killed 20 of their children, and as the financially floundering but still-sociopathic NRA continue to fight even modest limits on their power to kill innocents - offering proof, one more infuriating time, the filibuster has to go. In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland massacre, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill calling for what advocates called "baby steps" toward sensible gun reform: raising the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21, imposing a three-day waiting period for the purchase, and banning bump stocks that turn standard firearms into automatic weapons, like the one the sick kid used in Parkland to mow down 17 people in six minutes. In its enduring, obscene zeal, the NRA sued to block the bill, charging that making any aspiring young mass murderer wait till he's 21 to shoot up a school violates his vital 2nd Amendment rights; legal arguments on that unholy stance begin in March.

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SAY WHAT? - Cowards and liars and frauds, oh my. In what Nancy Pelosi has called their  longstanding, by-now-wearisome "limbo contest with themselves to see how low they can go," milksop Republicans are ever more frantically fleeing accountability and reality itself as a steadfast Jan. 6 Committee keeps digging for truths they don't want revealed. With their outlandish Cheney/Kinzinger censure claim that rioting thugs represented "legitimate political discourse," Pelosi suggests, the GOP may at long last have reached "rock bottom," but God knows we've thought that before. Still, they're definitely getting down there. Despite the scandalous news their former Dear Leader illegally, relentlessly ripped up records of his catastrophic reign - and stole a bunch - Lock-her-up Hillary haters have fallen strangely silent on the whole "full disclosure and full exposure" idea. They include Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who said, "I really don't know enough to comment" - but his documents! - even though a few years back he was harumphing that Clinton's possible, minor breach of email protocol “raises serious concerns for Americans who believe in open government and the accountability of our highest officials.” Curious what he thinks of the new revelation Orange Julius flushed some of that accountability down the toilet, an ewww on so many levels we can't even. Hillary, meanwhile, is peaceably having coffee. 

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SAY WHAT? - Somehow, brazen crimes by the former fascist-in-chief keep surfacing. (Feel free to stop now if you understandably don't want to read any more about this affront to humanity. Lamentably, it's still news.) Less than shockingly, it seems the lying grifter who hid his school grades, tax returns, sexual assaults and countless financial transgressions also blithely ripped up hundreds of documents, often in violation of the Presidential Records Act and despite warnings from legal experts; later, his minions, or National Archives staff, had to paw through papers to tape them back together for shredded posterity and, now, the Jan. 6 Committee. “He didn’t want a record of anything,” said one former staff member. “He never stopped ripping things up.” Sometimes, he also took home - ie stole - stuff, including his "love letters" from Kim Jong Un. But what about her emails?

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SAY WHAT? - Yeah, wearisome, venomous, crackpot Nazis are still everywhere. Following the lead of a craven GOP unfathomably declaring a riot "legitimate political discourse" to its logical toxic conclusion and never mind the death, trauma and overthrowing-ness of it, the sickest of the sick are shrieking that needle-wielding white cultists are raping children with COVID vaccines, degenerate Jews are molesting and sacrificing "goyim" children, and liberals are "genociding us" by bringing in refugees from "shithole countries" while teaching them to hate white people, as in,  "Every single thing Jake Tapper says, he might as well just say, 'Go kill whitey.'" To fight back, a rabid, Stop-the-Steal, masks-are-Satanic "pastor" in Tennessee (oh, Tennessee) who believes Mitch McConnell is controlled by “Illuminati hand signals” - though, ok, he may have something there - cited a Biblical mandate to call for and then preside over book-burning of devil-worshipping Harry Potter and Twilight books as "a deliverance from demons." "We're exposing the Kingdom of Darkness," he proclaimed. "It's time for people to be delivered."

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SAY WHAT? - In a rare move against white privilege and for racial equity, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has rejected a federal plea deal for the three white thugs who murdered Ahmaud Arbery for jogging while black; her ruling came after Arbery's mother, who's fought fiercely for justice for her son, denounced the deal as "a betrayal." In November, Travis McMichael, his father Greg, and their neighbor William Bryan were convicted by an almost all-white jury of chasing, trapping and killing Arbery, 25, in their Georgia neighborhood in February 2020; last month, they were all sentenced to life in prison. But with the men also facing a federal hate crimes trial next week - any convictions there would be immune from pardons from future wingnut governors - Department of Justice prosecutors suddenly struck a deal to allow at least the McMichaels to serve somewhat cushier time. In exchange for skipping that trial and pleading guilty to one hate crime - killing Arbery simply because he was black - the men could do 30 years in a slightly more civilized federal prison, likely safer especially for the elder McMichaels as a former cop, rather than the hell-holes that are most Georgia prisons; only after that would they be transferred back to the state system.  

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SAY WHAT? - Eerily echoing Adolf Hitler's vow to "burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of LIBERAL excess," a Tennessee school board in their unholy wisdom has banned Art Spiegelman's singularly searing, brutally tender, Pulitzer-winning graphic novel Maus, which uses cartoon animals - Nazis as cats, Jews as mice, Poles as pigs - to tell the harrowing story of his survivor parents and the carnage, horror and enduring trauma of the Holocaust. Unsparing and multi-layered, Spiegelman merges personal and historical devastation by documenting the lives of his father Vladek and mother Anja, Polish Jews who survive Auschwitz deeply scarred, and his own struggle to unspool their painful stories. Disquietingly, there is no redemptive arc, no real justice in the end, just a dark account that must be recorded. Anja committed suicide in 1968, when Spiegelman was 20; Vladek, who lost a six-year-old son and most of his extended family during the war, emerges as a controlling, cranky, shut-down old man; their fraught relationship leads Spiegelman to the pitiless conjecture that, "Unimaginable suffering doesn't make you better - it just makes you suffer." Through much of Maus,Vladek harshly resists his son's inquiries into a past whose losses still haunt him. "It would take many books, my life," he says bitterly, "and no one wants anyway to hear such stories."

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