“…no set of historical assumptions is definitive. The happiness and sadness of our own lives shapes the way we comprehend historical events and personalities.” – Norman Cantor, Confessions of a Medievalist
“Exiled Thucydides knew; All that a speech can say; About democracy;
And what dictators do; The elderly rubbish they talk; To an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book; The enlightenment driven away; The habit-forming pain;
Mismanagement and grief; We must suffer them all again.” W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
“…it’s damned difficult to go out and tell people to hate a guy who looks like a half-starved Santa Claus…All right, so he (Ho-Chi-Minh) is the George Washington of Viet-Nam. But do we have to get stuck with all the Benedict Arnolds?” – from anonymous U.S. officers in charge of psychological warfare in Bernard Fall, Last Reflections on a War, 1967
“Ukraine then is a vital ‘swing’ state…Internationally, (it) faces both west and east and has to steer carefully between the twin myths of its essentially European or east Slavic destiny…After nearly a decade of independence, key aspects of Ukraine’s future are yet to be decided” – Andrew Wilson, The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation, 2000
“Empress Catherine spoke of ‘New Russia’ (Ukraine) much as British colonizers spoke of a ‘New England,’ (or) a New South Wales.’…New England and New South Wales are not parts of (Great) Britain, just as New Russia (Ukraine) is not part of Russia.”…“In some respects, Russia did lose in its (2014) war in Ukraine…For the first time in Ukrainian history, public opinion became anti-Russian…An invasion to defend speakers of Russian killed such people by the thousand and induced them to identify as Ukrainian by the million.” – Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, 2018
“Unlike an old European country, America did not apportion its wealth according to an entrenched class structure: it was a country of achievement and possibility for all—or so it claimed, and Russians believed this part…America was the very definition of modernity; it was the country that Russia had failed to become. Here was a sterling example of Soviet-style doublethink: America as attractive and threatening at the same time, worth emulating and eminently hateable.” – Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, 2017
“(In 2016) Russians knew Trump for what he was: not the “VERY successful businessman” of his tweets but an American loser who became a Russian tool. Although Americans might dream otherwise, no one who mattered in Moscow believed that Trump was a powerful tycoon. Russian money had saved him from the fate that would normally await anyone with his record of failure.” – Timothy Snyder, Road to Unfreedom
“People who are different are not the reason that our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment…Or that health care costs are too high, or that teachers are leaving the profession. I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard, and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight white and Christian.” – State Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-MI), 4/19/22
“A vote for Republicans is a vote to destroy Democracy” – Rob Reiner, 4/20/22
“Oligarchy works as a patronage system that dissolves democracy, law, and patriotism. American and Russian oligarchs have far more in common with one another than they do with their own populations.” – Timothy Snyder, Road to Unfreedom
Three specters haunt Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); the single greatest threat to American Democracy in the 21st Century. Dancing ghosts of Moscow Mitch’s fevered imagination are former President Donald Trump, but also Ukraine’s leader-hero, Volodymyr Zelensky, who praises President Joe Biden as a U.S. President he can believe in. Worst of all for this throwback to John C. Calhoun’s pre-Civil War “nullification” is a specter of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as a “voice for the voiceless” for Americans that Mitch’s GOP would like to keep “barefoot, pregnant, impotent, and insignificant.” All it would take for a distracted media to discover this truth would be for Justice Stephen Breyer, in the next week or so, to tell Chief Justice John Roberts and the other five democracy-hating Justices (Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas) to “take their job and shove it.” Thus, a black woman would immediately be able to render judgments for the record, albeit in dissent, on the exploding gender and race wars that confront us. Mitch’s whine (about “precedent”) is a punch line.
Tip O’Neill had it part right about all politics being local, given the Boston neighborhoods he understood, but his observation neglects the influence of outside forces that impact the inner souls of his constituents: ethnic, color, gender, class, and religious bigotries. These human failings undermine self-determination and democracy, and serve the cause of Empires: oligarchic British and Russian; or corporate American. A Slavic Civil War of freedom loving Ukraine vs. totalitarian Russia; along with the war on women’s agency for control of their bodies, minds and souls in the United States by malefactors of great “man” power, has made this clear to those whose capacities for reason and compassion have not been completely undone by propaganda.
The problem with “winning” a propaganda war by the likes of a Hitler, Putin or Trump, is that you have to back it up with winning force to match it, once your bluff is called. You can harm as many innocents as you wish with malevolence and indifference, but your all-consuming appetite for domination may itself be consumed by what you have conjured up among unwilling victims. One ironic truth is this: Glasnost and Perestroika are alive and well, but living in Ukraine instead of Russia, where they were snuffed out by a return to Stalin’s tactics and mythology in the late 1990s. Also, Vlad Putin’s fixation on a glorious Russian past which never existed shares the same sclerosis of the imagination that afflicts his stooge Trump’s MAGA minds in the U.S. As Americans who switched from Barack Obama to Donald Trump switch back to Joe Biden, I sought some council from my KGB animal friends about these mind-boggling developments:
High Plains Reader: Dear friends, what got into GOP Senator Steve Daines from Montana? Less than four years ago he was in Moscow on July 4th, sucking up to Vlad Putin on behalf of Donald Trump, and saluting the Russian flag instead of the American one. Now he is just returned from visiting mass grave sites in Bucha, Ukraine, swearing to back President Zelensky to the hilt. This politician changes flags more often than a chameleon changes colors.
Madame Inspector Chen: Ukraine is suffering for your sins in the past. Look on today’s wreckage and corpses of Bucha and Mariupol inflicted by lies and bullets of Vladimir Putin! You are seeing the wreckage of your Democracy in the future by lies and bullets of Donald Trump, the Christian Right and Republican hate and gun lobbies if you don’t wake up soon.
Omar Khayyam: Senator Daines and Montana voters, like other voters in America, can now see in the Russian bombing of Ukrainians who seek national self-determination, what it looked like to the world watching America bomb Vietnamese seeking national self-determination in the 1960s. As Thucydides pointed out centuries ago, Democracies seeking Empire, and thereby thriving on many forms of exploitation, slavery and ethnic cleansing, are waging war on their own self-determination.
Schickelgruber: Elections have consequences, even though totalitarian minds in Russia and the U.S.A. may not like it. Of the eight GOP Trump stooges for Putin in 2018, only Senator Daines, and Congresswoman Kay Grainger (R-TX) have visibly changed their tune about Putin in a way that could actually aid President Biden’s response to getting aid to Ukraine. They may have realized that their voters know that Donald Trump really did lose the 2020 election. Or, it may have occurred to them that live genocide on TV is hard to ignore. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is retiring and doesn’t give a damn. John Thune (R-SD) just does what Moscow Mitch tells him.
Kim Dog Un: Other fellow travelers on that “Mission to Moscow:” Senators Hoeven (R-ND), Johnson (R-WI), Kennedy (R-LA), and Moran (R-KS); haven’t really changed their minds, except to issue press releases that they disapprove of what their former buddy, Vlad the War Criminal, has done, and that Joe Biden hasn’t done enough to stop an imperialism they actively encouraged. They are all up for reelection in 2022, and seem content to seek Trump’s endorsement of their re-election efforts, and any MAGA baggage that goes with it.
Chicago Dog: “MAGA baggage” means votes where pro-Putin and anti-democratic forces are organized, loud, and wealthy. For a majority of the GOP, the fates of democracy in Europe and the United States are “inconvenient truths,” like Climate Change, that they are trying to avoid.
Lena: They won’t be able to dodge for long. If and when Finland and Sweden apply for membership in NATO, the U.S. Senate will have to approve, and a reporter for the Washington Post, claiming wisdom, is pointing out that the two thirds threshold that applies for treaties, applies there, and thus presumably dooms U.S. approval of such a move; given the god-like status that D.C. reporters attach to Mitch McConnell’s successes in the past.
Becky Badger: That D.C. reporter is apparently unaware of large Scandinavian and German populations of Wisconsin, with sentimental attachment to their roots, Trump or no Trump.
Brenda Bison: 75% of the population of North Dakota is either Scandinavian or German, especially Germans who emigrated from Ukraine. A similar percentage is the case for all eight of the Republican Senators in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas. They may be spineless and venal, but most have brains. Stupidity is punished quicker in politics than in most felonies.
Mr. Swamp Fox: By June, 2016, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy knew that Donald Trump was in the pay of the Russians. They also accepted Russian cyber-attacks in the 2016 campaign, exclusively aimed at the Democrats, yet covered up their simultaneous attack on U.S. sovereignty. It was more important to humiliate the opposition Party and their outgoing black President than to defend the independence of the United States.
HPR: The GOP was more anti-Democrat and pro-Putin than pro-democracy and anti-Putin?
Rasputin: Yep. That’s still the case, except that now, GOP Senators are soft-peddling the pro-Putin part in favor of updating Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist paranoia to “Putin Pedophile Paranoia” and “teachers teaching kiddie porn” against a black female Supreme Court nominee, and other nominees of President Biden in order to disable a functioning U.S. government. Putin’s playbook, as followed by Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley might be too crude for the likes of Moscow Mitch, but it’s very much in his and Vlad’s spirit of destroying functioning democracy in favor of their sclerotic oligarchies. “Hate thy neighbor” is now the GOP brand.
HPR: That’s really sick. And weird. My 5th Grade teacher in Evanston, Illinois taught us in the 1940s about what white folks in the 19th Century really did to American Indians and I felt bad for “Indian” kids, but not about myself because I was white. I was too young for an adult’s guilty conscience, I guess. Are Democrats fighting back against these slander tactics?
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: At the State level, yes. When Michigan Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow was slandered by her Republican counterpart, Lana Theis, as abetting corruption of children she slammed back at GOP and Putin-inspired hate mongering for Americans to see, hear and emulate. Identifying as a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom, McMorrow rebuked the GOP’s biblical hypocrisy and racist rhetoric with words that cry out for repetition in 2022:
“The very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense… We are not responsible for the past…cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen or deny people their very right to exist…(But) each…one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. Each and every single one of us decides what happens next and how we respond to history and the world around us… We cannot let hateful people…scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives. And I know that hate will only win, if people like me stand by, let it happen.”
Mr. Crying Wolf: The really sick part is that “pedophile paranoia” actually worked for Putin in Russia until he invaded Ukraine a second time. He’s already lost this war to take all Ukraine to the borders of NATO. It’s also clear that Russian speakers in Ukrainian lands he stole in 2014 may prefer to live under a government like Volodymyr Zelensky’s rather than Vlad’s Gulag.
Prudence Possum: Putin’s “Pedophile Paranoia” may not be working much longer over there, but it is working away over here with gusto by Cruz, Hawley and GOP Governors Ron DeSantis (FL) Gregg Abbott (TX) and Glenn Youngkin (NC); with tacit approval of Moscow Mitch.
Señora Perro: Mitch McConnell doesn’t care how many Democrats or decent Americans get smeared, as long as he gets his power back, but he is starting to worry that these tactics might not be successful in November 2022, unless inflation can be totally blamed on Democrats. As Governor Abbot slows down the national supply chain in plain sight at the Mexican border, that scam is getting more difficult to pull off. Mitch knows this. Our “Scrooge Connection” was once again able to overhear one of his nightly nightmares:
Ghosts of Future Folks I Can’t Control………………………Moscow Mitch
“Oligarchs ‘R Us” is on the brink
Of disappearing into hordes of ‘those;’
Who aren’t like us; A fate that I suppose –
Is worse than death – Dishonor, I should think.
The Donald was a fool for Vlad and me;
But then he thought that he could fly alone;
And now he’s like a dog upon a bone;
Content to chew his hatreds aimlessly.
I wanted time to stop for those of us –
The natural aristocrats of yore;
Who should be leading: Ever and always.
But when I let the Donald drive the bus,
He wrecked my vehicle of rule – my corps
Of oligarchs; and numbered are my days.