Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Dangerous and Irrational Fear Of Russia

Good news. It turns out that wicked super villain Vladimir Putin, master spy, enemy of democracy, and computer hacker extraordinaire, is actually quite weak in relation to the United States. Russia is encircled by NATO and US military forces, whereas there are no Russian troops on US borders. Its  military budget of around $69 billion is a paltry sum compared to America’s, which is $600 billion and rising. Russia has one aircraft carrier, America has ten. Russia’s GDP is smaller than the state of California’s.

In fact, Putin is so weak, the only thing he could threaten us with was an astroturfing campaign that plagiarized hackneyed right-wing talking points from Fox News, Breitbart and the Drudge Report and disseminated them to an audience who was already sympathetic to their message.

That’s it. That’s all. The Lucifer in the Kremlin’s biggest play against America, the great opus generated by his devious and all encompassing super villain brain, amounted to nothing more than cranking up the right-wing noise machine half a notch. I’m not impressed.  In a country where political candidates are openly bought by wealthy plutocrats and special interests, and where such bribery has been legalized by the Supreme Court, you’ll forgive me if I don’t clutch my pearls and faint over Putin’s, “attack” on our, ahem, sacred democracy.

And I have to say, hearing officials from the CIA and NSA gravely announcing that Russia is trying to “undermine faith” in our democratic institutions is obscene beyond words. It’s like watching a pedophile lecture against junk food because it causes diabetes in children. Those crocodiles have done more to undermine faith in American institutions than anything any foreign leader could ever do in their wildest, wettest dreams. At most, Putin merely exploited a climate of cynicism and disillusionment that their own underhanded conduct and blatant mendacity  helped create.
There’s no proof of collusion, no evidence this influenced the outcome of the election, and all of the Americans who participated, save one, did so unwittingly. They were, to borrow Lenin’s term, merely useful idiots. The Russians who were involved won’t be extradited to stand trial, and this was all dumped on a Friday afternoon, where bad or embarrassing news is sent to die. In light of all the hype and hysteria surrounding this investigation, these developments are, to put it mildly, underwhelming.

People who’ve been pushing Russiagate the hardest insist this was a brilliant three-dimensional chess move on the part of Robert Mueller. It protects him from being fired by Trump and keeps the investigation alive. Maybe so, maybe not. I have no idea. Neither does anyone not involved with the investigation. At any rate, all of the hopeful speculation that Mueller “has the goods” and that there are bigger, juicier indictments on the horizon is beginning to smell like wishful thinking on the part of people who still, after more than a year, just can’t reconcile themselves to the fact that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, and that he did so not because he was helped by a hostile foreign power, but because he perfectly embodies the mental, moral, emotional, intellectual and epistemological retardation that characterizes an alarmingly high percentage of the US electorate. He’s our biological child, America. Get used it. It’s not Putin’s fault. It’s ours. We really need to stop blaming others for our problems and shortcomings. It’s a positively Trumpian bad habit.

Certainly, nothing in these indictments justifies the level of dangerous and irrational Russophobia that’s been fecklessly stoked up by hyperventilating TV pundits such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, as well as establishment beacons like the Washington Post, the New York Times and NBC. They told us that Russia hacked Vermont’s power grid, until it came out later that, on further review, they didn’t. Oops. Then we were told that Russians hacked into voter data in twenty-one states, until it came out later that, on further review, they didn’t. Whoopsie daisy. Perhaps the worst example came when James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence [sic], told Chuck Todd that the Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever,” and that these sneaky and duplicitous traits were “typical Russian techniques.”

If a US official made this kind of statement about Mexicans, Israelis, Somalis, the Innuit, the Bushmen of the Kalahari or the Pennsylvania Dutch, every liberal pundit from Rachel Maddow to E.J. Dionne, to say nothing of every editorial page in every major newspaper in the country, would be screaming “racism” so loudly our eardrums would bleed. But corporate liberals have gotten the memo from the Department of Homeland Security and those much ballyhooed “seventeen intelligence agencies” that anti-Russian xenophobia is A-okay, and our genteel talking classes, who are usually so fastidious in their political correctness, didn’t say mum about this disgusting and utterly ridiculous slur. Chuck Todd didn’t even blink. It was all so normal and acceptable, you see. It was all so, dare I say it, Beltway hip?

Now there’s an outfit calling itself the Committee to Investigate Russia,  which was founded by actor Rob Reiner, who played Meathead on All in the Family and David Frum, who coined the phrase “Axis of Evil” for his former boss, George W. Bush, as they brazenly lied us into invading Iraq. The Committee to Investigate Russia has a few more members you may have heard about:
Other members on the advisory board include James Clapper, a former Director of National Intelligence; Charlie Sykes, a conservative commentator; Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The same neoconservatives, national security hacks, pseudo-intellectuals and “resident scholars” from right-wing think tanks who brought you the Iraq disaster are now deliberately fomenting tension between the United States and Russia. Isn’t that comforting? I particularly like the inclusion of our friend James Clapper, who perjured himself before Congress by claiming the NSA didn’t spy on Americans until it came out three months later that, on further review, it did. Oops. No doubt Mr. Clapper lied out of his great love for American democracy. No doubt he was only trying to protect us from Vladimir Putin’s uncontrollable genetic drive “to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever,” which are well known, indeed, “typical Russian techniques” in its eternal war against democracy and its dastardly attempt to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

Here’s an ad they put out starring Morgan Freeman, who also, by the the way, shills for Citibank, but he’s cool because he wears an earring and supports pot legalization, so it’s okay if he pimps for Wall Street and spreads anti-Russian war hysteria on the side.


Russia has been invaded by Mongols, Swedes, France under Napoleon, and twice by Germany. The Russian experience of war has been one of unspeakable misery and surreal catastrophe. Its combined military and civilian deaths in Word War II were 24 million people (whereas America’s total deaths were 418,000). During the Siege of Leningrad, people had to eat wallpaper paste and sawdust to ward off starvation, and many were forced to resort to cannibalism. Your average American, who knows none of this and who has nothing in his historical experience to compare it to, sits on his well-padded derriere and smugly prattles about how war is good for the economy and military spending creates jobs.

Not many people realize that Russia was also invaded by a coalition of allied powers in 1918 who sought to overthrow the Bolsheviks and install a government that would keep Russia involved in the First World War.  The coalition included France, England, Japan and, yes, the United States.

Not one in a thousand Americans knows this. I assure you every Russian high school student does. Somebody tell Morgan Freeman and Rachel Maddow, Kieth Olbermann and Meathead, that the United States has actually attacked Russia with guns and bombs before, not just shadowy astrofurfing outfits and d-rate political ads. Somebody tell Morgan Freeman and Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and Meathead, that when celebrities and pundits declare that Russia has attacked us and that We Are At War, and when a presidential candidate compares their leader to Hitler, it loudly reverberates all the through Russia, scaring the shit out of a country whose history has been marred by one brutal invasion after another and is currently surrounded by hostile military forces. Somebody tell them that this kind of stupid, ignorant, reckless nonsense can very easily drive us into a serious international crisis with a nuclear armed country.

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