“I heard it through the grape vine…” – Marvin Gaye
“Rumor has it…” – Reba McEntire or Adele – take your pick
“I’ve already said that I thought that (Mark) Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) should be in jail…That he’s an enemy of the people.” – Ken Burns, Entrepreneur, 4/4/22
“In 1954 (Senator William) Langer (R-ND) predicted that the policies of this nation were leading it into a war in southeast Asia, which would be the longest and bloodiest in the nation’s history.” – Prof. Glenn Smith, Bismarck Tribune, July 17, 1968
“Time (Magazine), which makes it its business to be well-informed about small things, informed its readers breathlessly that, in 1955, Ho (Chi Minh) liked to smoke Philip Morris cigarettes while offering local brands to his visitors…but that in recent years, like many other smokers, he has switched to the filter-tipped Salems.” – Bernard Fall, Last Reflections on a War (Viet-Nam), 1967
“Sometimes, it is more important to tell the truth and expose the disinformation, even if that makes us appear to be taking sides.” – Lincoln Mitchell, NBC News, 1/12/22
“Precisely because Putin had made the Russian state vulnerable, he had to claim that it was his opponents who had done so…Russia’s real geopolitical problem was China…The West was chosen as an enemy precisely because it represented no (military) threat to Russia. Unlike China, the EU had no army and no long border with Russia. The United States did have an army, but had withdrawn its troops from the European continent…to about 60,000 in 2012…When Mitt Romney referred to Russia as America’s ‘number one geopolitical foe’ in March 2012, he was ridiculed.” – Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom, 2018
“In Ukraine (2004-2005) electoral institutions had been developing while Putin had eviscerated Russian ones during his first term of office…and there was a functional, independent supreme court to step in to resolve the standoff, whereas the Russian equivalent…had been…subsumed by the executive branch.” – Masha Gessen, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russa, 2017
“…guilt is the cockroach of emotions. Hard to root out…the Holocaust is Ukraine’s deepest shame.” – from Ron Vossler, Hitler’s Basement: My Search for Truth, Light, and the Forgotten Executioners (some of his Volksdeutsche colonist ancestors) of Ukraine’s Kingdom of Death, 2016
“63 House Republicans voted against a non-binding, bipartisan resolution expressing support for NATO.” – Politico, 4/6/22
“The idea that we can enjoy the benefits of society while owing nothing in return is literally infantile. Only children owe nothing.” – Sebastian Junger, Freedom, 2021
America’s “Arsenal of Democracy” is being tested at home and abroad by wars of words and deeds. In keeping with Rachel Maddow’s “watch what they do, not what they say,” the slaughter scenes at Bucha and elsewhere in beleaguered Ukraine show that the real Nazis these days work for Vladimir Putin. Those who have pandered to him in the United States since the devastation of Chechnya’s Grozny in 2000 have explaining to do, even soul searching, if they have one left. Unfortunately, in the United States, lies which cover up such massacres in plain sight, are protected by the 1st Amendment, which also protects unadulterated truths. Common sense and Occam’s Razor, our age old “bullshit protectors,” are overmatched by misuse of modern media.
It goes like this: Uncontested gossip becomes slander, carved in Stone-Aged minds of believers in beauty parlors, locker rooms, excesses of Twitter and Facebook, the Tucker Carlson wing of Vladimir Putin’s favorite Cable TV show. Fabrications and stupid assumptions go unchallenged into the historical record. While folks are free to speak their minds, they have no right to be taken seriously. But fanatic fools think if they insist loudly enough that 2 + 2 equals anything but 4 that makes it so. When they get their way, things don’t add up right. Americans endured this sad reality during 4 years of the Trump Presidency, and see it today via the White House Press Corps’ “gotcha journalism.” Together with Ukrainians, Europe and the world, we now see death and destruction aided by perversions of journalism and history known as “lies agreed upon.”
We are in the midst of two civil wars whether we like it or not. Vlad Putin’s and Donald Trump’s appeals to mass fear and loathing, with help from friends at FOX, can be successful in the foreseeable future, with captive audiences stretching to Vladivostok over there and QAnon territory over here. Democratic, pluralistic Ukraine, with substantial help from the West, can hold up well, despite Putin’s mass murder. Thus, a Slavic Civil War of autocracy vs. democracy rivals the American Civil War from 1861 to today, with some differences: Ukrainians are more united in their determination and efforts to defend freedom and their Union than the North was in the 1860s; Putin’s soldiers are far less enthusiastic about defending autocracy than the Rebels of the Confederate South. American leadership under Joe Biden is united, so far, in demanding that other NATO countries share the burden of defending Ukrainian democracy, while Americans defend their own democracy against domestic enemies lodged in the hearts and minds of 21st Century Confederacy advocates in the Republican Party. Ukraine is not yet considered a “stupid war,” but the will of many Americans to make sacrifices in material comfort and political pride is in doubt. The directed, but undisciplined, mob that descended on Congress with murderous intent on 1/6/21, killing a few, lacked only weaponry of the directed, but undisciplined mob that was the Russian Army in the suburbs of Kiev, to leave multiple corpses in Washington D.C.
Given that Vlad Putin’s intellectual influences: Ilyin, Gumilev, and Dugin, were advocates of fascism; it seems his Grand Strategy combines Catherine the Great’s 18th Century Empire with Hitler’s and Stalin’s death Gulags: with Russians, rather than Germans cast as the Master Race. Disinformation Strategy using the feckless Donald was clever, but battlefield Strategy using a feckless Officers corps hasn’t worked so good. Lies and indiscriminate civilian killings as Tactics serve dictators well when their victims are disorganized, but were no substitute for battle discipline, when the ill-trained rubber of Vlad’s forces met the roads towards Kiev and stout, precocious resistance under Volodymyr Zelensky. That left ancient forms of siege warfare; updated since the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, that turn stomachs of the civilized world not blocked off from real information. Orwell’s observations: “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity” and “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought” aren’t enough. I sought insights from my KGB animal informants into Vladimir Putin’s Terror.
High Plains Reader: Dear friends: Did Vlad Putin’s commanders check wind directions when their troops dug into Chernobyl’s radiated soil and they shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
Rasputin: There are all sorts of things the Russians failed to check out before they made their wholesale, disjointed move into Ukraine. Even Vlad must have figured out by now that he has screwed up, but I’m sure he had help. It’s likely that the “Best and the Brightest” of his advisors aren’t any better than JFK’s and Lyndon Johnson’s Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara and strategically placed sycophant military and civilian leaders, or George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and strategically placed sycophant leaders, plus Dick Cheney.
Schickelgruber: As soldiers, Vlad Putin’s army isn’t cutting much of a figure as a version of Hitler’s Master Race, but as imitators of Himmler’s Einsatzgruppen: mass murderers, with an extra touch of Cheka/KGB style pistol shot to the back of the head, they are doing a bang-up job. Complacent Westerners, who, with the exception of Angela Merkel’s Germany, could not be moved by Putin stealth and annihilation tactics in Chechnya (2000), Georgia (2008), Ukraine (2014), and Syria (2015), are now paying attention, and taking action; too late for some, not all.
Mr. Swamp Fox: To many Americans, especially Republicans, Ukrainians look a lot like they do, unlike folks of color at the Mexican border that Donald Trump and the GOP have taught them to despise. Yet supporting Ukrainians is an act of humanity for whatever motive. Kindness may not be as contagious as Covid, but it should be appreciated whenever it “breaks out.”
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Since the murder of George Floyd in sight of a brave girl’s cell phone, however, white Americans as individuals (and even corporations) have had a change of heart (or mind) as they witness a snapshot of centuries of oppression of fellow citizens of color. GOP leaders still touting racial politics in efforts to hang on to public office, look more and more like pimps or wimps for Putin than the Party of Lincoln (or even Nixon or Reagan). The failure of 197 Republican Members of Congress and 43 Republican Senators to vote against impeachment and removal of President Trump after 1/6/21 shows how many of them, as perpetrators or bystanders, are still unwilling to support democratic processes when it matters.
Lena: Putin’s disastrous moves into Ukraine recall disastrous moves the U.S. has made since World War II into countries that have welcomed your music, movies and manufactured goods, but didn’t appreciate your troops or your telling them how to live their lives.
Omar Khayyam: After World War II, myths of “The Greatest Generation,” caused Americans to lie to yourselves about sources of your freedom and prosperity in chattel and wage slavery, prior to New Deal efforts to mitigate those injustices. Then you lied to yourselves about what U.S. Empire builders were doing to Iranians, Latin Americans and Southeast Asians. These lies were accompanied by truths about Soviet oppression, but little about rule in the European or American Empires. Ukrainians, remembering Bolshevik, Nazi, and Putin’s gangster rule, could be forgiven for not understanding that they are suddenly “white people” on American TV.
Madame Inspector Chen: Investigative journalist, Bernard Fall, like some in today’s Ukraine, died pursuing facts that aided truth about French and American Imperialism in Southeast Asia. Fall showed that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist who sought the blessing of President Wilson in 1919 for Viet Nam to be like Poland or Czechoslovakia: free of the shackles of Empire.
Señora Perro: Unfortunately for Ho, and Americans who later died in Southeast Asia, Woodrow Wilson was a man of the American South, and of his time. Ho Chi Minh looked more to him like Booker T. Washington or Pancho Villa than an eastern European like Thomas Masaryk. America’s big lie of “aristocracy of the skin” canceled its lofty rhetoric of “self-determination.” Ho turned to the only eventual Great Power leader who would heed his plea – Lenin.
Señor Perro: Nevertheless, better angels of Woodrow Wilson’s nature, embodied in his fights against Christianity’s racism (anti-Semitism) and sponsorship of the League of Nations (ie. the UN) are now prevailing for a time. The UN General Assembly finds nations of every color and ideology espousing in many words, and some deeds, their common humanity with the people of Ukraine. This, plus the EU and NATO, NGOs and much of corporate America, the Biden Administration and a scattering of Republican Congressmen and Senators, is not a small thing.
Chicago Dog: Bad news is that darker angels are at war in hearts and minds of the GOP; a threat to commitments since the Civil War of 1861-1865 to relatively free and fair elections, along with respect for due process of law. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy seek to overthrow historic democratic procedures to regain their political power in 2022. They appeal to mass hatreds to justify their quest for a permanent Republican majority rule based on a false sense of superiority: racial, economic, or otherwise.
Annabelle Anaconda: Blatant commitment of Republican leadership to autocratic rule has broken the GOP into 6 parts, to date undiscernible to pollsters: two having no respect for the rule of law, three which do, and one, the largest, which would rather not think about it at all.
Prudence Possum: Worst are “Pimps for Putin (PFPs),” Qanon crazies and cynics, who abetted the Trump insurrection of 1/6/21, and deniers of this treason in public, but supporters in private. PFP #1, of course, is Donald Trump, but Governor DeSantis (R-FL) and Senator Hawley (R-MO) do their best to outbid him. There are scores of piss ant GOP PFP’s in Congress as well.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Second worst are “Wimps for Putin (WFPs),” like Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who were PFPs when Donald Trump was in power, the former representing him to Putin in Moscow (2018); the latter denying the Armenian genocide of 1915 to curry favor for Trump with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan. If they survive Primaries against MAGA minds, they will howl piously about how their belief in the rule of law surpasses Democrats.
Brenda Bison: Next are GOP stalwarts under the gun from MAGA madness, who don’t know how to be anything else but Republicans, but still believe in rules that need to be followed, and have come through for rule of law in 2020. They are important in Secretary of State races, for example, where there is little possibility of a Democrat winning, and represent a potential source for bi-partisan cooperation when the fictitious “stop the steal” madness strikes each November.
Becky Badger: Next are Lincoln Project folks, who feel abandoned by their Party, and see that the GOP under Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell must be destroyed by Democratic Party victories for a while. They may be small in number, but not in influence or big bucks. They have offset dark money of reactionaries who seek to overturn our representative government.
Mr. Swamp Fox: Then there are those who are so disgusted by the GOP that they have become Democrats, or Independents voting Democrat, until sanity returns to their Party, if it ever does.
Schickelgruber: Finally, there are bystanders, “X” factors in all democratic republics – They don’t want to make a choice; yet vote “R” out of fear rather than conviction – go along to get along no matter who is in charge: who, like the man who survived silently outside of Treblinka in WWII, told a Holocaust researcher that if someone’s finger were cut “it didn’t hurt him.”
Agatha Alligator: Pollsters may not credit these six shades of GOP Grey, but Moscow Mitch McConnell does. We picked up a copy of his dour musings on the “hate gap” between Joe Biden’s likeable down-to-earth personality and the Ted Cruz attempt to portray him as the leader of “Democrat pedophiles,” as contrasted to Biden’s steadiness and acumen under fire.
The Biden “Hate Gap” Blues…………………………………………………………….…Moscow Mitch
The problem with Joe Biden is: He’s real;
His gaffes are truthful; not a “Donald Lie.”
And, he’s not black or female; just a guy.
He lacks the fundamental “hate appeal.”
If Joe should lick inflation; then we’re done.
The news from Ukraine is no longer fake;
Americans can’t stand with too much hate.
“Live” corpses served with dinner spoil their fun.
I planned defeat well – for diversity;
By stealth, not crude and raucous, righteous rage.
Then Trump, plus yahoos, wrecked my careful plan.
Joe Biden’s damned, sincere humanity
Will force the “white boys club” to turn the page,
And, without vict’ry, I’m a bitter man.