Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Piss and Vinegar

 Symbols matter: a Kennedy or a Reagan at the Berlin Wall; a Churchill with a cigar and a bowler; for that matter a green-clad Zelensky growling, ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Simply by taking the hazardous trip to Kyiv, Biden made a strategic move of cardinal importance.
Eliot Cohen, The Atlantic

Joe Biden went to Ukraine.

In the middle of a war. 

In the middle of a war waged by Russia.

And oh goddamn were both the Russians and Republicans mad about it. 

The symbolism of Biden's visit to war-torn Ukraine wasn't lost on the enemies of America. 

(Note: enemies, plural. Foreign and domestic. But I'll come back to that)

Vladimir Putin was damned unhappy about it. 

As well he should be. Because that was the intent. And there was a time when all of America would have cheered such a message. Up yours, Russia!

But that time is long gone. 

Be that as it may, Vladimir Putin is mad. 

You can tell from his speech this morning. 

It was the Moscow version of an American State of the Union Address. I could give you the Russian name of it, but you don't care and loosely translated its mostly just Putin's semi-annual They Hate Us Because They Ain't Us address. 

As such things go, it was a beauty. 

Putin gave the standard invader trope of how his war is really (mostly, sort of) about freeing Ukrainians from the tyranny of Kiev something something gazpacho oppression Nazis Western Powers and so on. No one really cares. Russians know it's bullshit. We know it's bullshit. Putin knows it's bullshit. Ukrainians for damn sure knows its bullshit. But, that's the official line Putin used to start the war and so he's got to ride that bomb all the way down like Slim Pickens a whoopin' and a hollerin' and waving his giant hat all the way to impact (or George Bush looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction, you pays your money and you takes your metaphor).

So, anyway, the Russians are just trying to help out the poor Ukrainians. Please clap. 

Meanwhile, official signs are going up around Moscow that say The Russian Border Ends Nowhere -- which is totally the thing you say when you're just trying to help your neighbors with their government and not rebuild the Russian Empire. 

Putin then launched into how the war is really about standing up to the West's unreasonable oppression of Russia. Also, he says, war is really good for Russia actually because Russian unemployment is down, the Russian economy is booming with making all the Russian war stuff, and also it allows for federalization of Russian business like in the good old days that every good Russian misses. 

Most important, Putin says, the war demonstrates to the world Russia's superior military might and power and enviable victories.  

Please clap.

I gotta tell you, it kind of made me nostalgic for those old Soviet speeches in Red Square. 

Stalin, Khrushchev, Andropov, you knew they were totally full of shit. I mean we knew they were full it, the Russian people knew they were full it, the Soviet Government knew they were full of it, but damn could those Old Guard Communists give a speech while the tanks and missile trucks rumbled by -- most of those machines barely able to finish the parade without breaking down, some actually being towed because they had crapped out before the ceremony even started. 

Putin finished up with a bit about mutual inspections under New START treaty and loudly rejected any access for US inspectors and you change a few names and boy does that sound like something you'd read on Truth Social.  

Anyway, looks like the extremists over there and over here got that new Cold War they've been wanting since the Berlin Wall came down. 

Speaking of extremism over there and over here:

That's sedition. 

From a sitting member of Congress, that's sedition. 

Of course, we apparently allow that sort of thing nowadays and it might even get you a choice committee assignment.  

And I told you we'd come back to enemies domestic and so we have. That's what you're looking at here. An enemy of America. Someone who wants to demolish the United States. Those are her words. 26,000,000 views, as of the time I took the screenshot. 

She might hate America as much, or more, than Putin. 

Greene is not alone in her sedition. Whenever Republicans don't get their way, and can't see any path to getting their way, they start talking about divorce and you don't have to look much further than Texans and their eternal threat of secession for an example. 

I don't suppose it's much of a surprise Greene, elected by people who continue to wave the Confederate flag 160 years after the South lost the Civil War, would suggest breaking up the Union. These people are nothing if not bereft of any new ideas. Just like their ancestors, MAGAs like Greene would rather burn the country to the ground, they would literally rather see America broken up, than live in peace and equality with the rest of us.

For them, life is always and forever a zero sum game. If others gets more, they always feel like they get less. If others are raised up, they always feel diminished. For them, freedom, justice, liberty, these are all measures of relative worth. For them, their perception of their own self worth is a measure of how much better they are than the people they despise. Equality is the single most horrifying concept they can imagine.

For those like Greene to be free, others must always be in chains. Always. 

And just like Vladimir Putin, and likely why they idolize him as a symbol of strength, Republicans of Greene's foul MAGA ilk are intolerant fanatics who are perfectly willing to kill all the rest of us over some manufactured outrage.

Greene, of course, is seen as the most likely candidate to be Trump's running mate in the coming election. That's right, she's angling to be Vice President of a country that she thinks should be broken up and a government that should be eliminated and if that isn't the very epitome of the MAGA mindset I don't know what is. 

Trump himself is on Truth Social this morning again carrying water for Putin. 

I'll spare you the Neville Chamberlain analogy and simply point out the staggering irony of presidential candidates, who themselves continue to engage in open insurrection, cheering on a reborn Russian Empire while at the same time suggesting the literal dismantling of the United States. 

And not only do Republicans see this as a legitimate political position, they consider it patriotism.

We live in dangerous times. 

And I suspect this is one of those moments in history where we are (again) on the very cusp of global madness and destruction. Time will certainly tell. We've stepped away from the brink in our past, though our history is one where we more often scream Geronimo and jump over the edge into the abyss a whoopin' and a hollerin' and waving our giant hats all the way down to violent impact. 

We live in dangerous times. 

But then we always do. 

I do see hope.

Because in this comparison, so long as we stand together, the fanatical dreams of MAGA Republicans like Greene and Trump are very likely as doomed to ultimate failure as is Vladimir Putin's hollow war. 

Which isn't to say there won't be violence and destruction along the way. Because there most certainly will be. It's inevitable now. 

But, just like Ukraine, if you want a better nation, then you're going to have to stand together with other good people and fight for it. 

And in the end, we will win. 

President Zelenskyy and all Ukrainians remind the world every day what courage is. They remind us that freedom is priceless. And worth fighting for. For as long as it takes.
-- President Joe Biden