To Russia, with Ambivalence (posted 9/3/18)

With the Mueller probe entering its second millenia, I’ve been thinking a lot about Russia lately.  Inexplicably, though, no one has been clamoring to hear what I think about Russia.

“Hey Martin,” people who don’t stop me on the street never say, “We’ve been wondering what you think about all of this Russia business.”  And then a small crowd never gathers, leaning close in a hushed silence, like in those old E.F. Hutton commercials, straining to hear my words of wisdom.

So I’ve been keeping my thoughts about Russia to myself.  But then I thought, “Hey, I haven’t written a CO column in a full week, and I’m sure that the entire CO nation has been losing sleep because they don’t know what I’ve been thinking about Russia.”

So, here you are, and you’re welcome in advance.

First, I have to admit that I’m no expert on Russia.  In fact, I could list just about everything I know about Russia pretty quickly.

I don’t like Russian dressing, and I would not care to play Russian roulette.   I hear the weather is not great there, and Siberia sounds unpleasant.  I also don’t care for the empty headed Russian pol Elizabeth Warrenov, who pretended to be a Manchurian just to get an affirmative-action university job and parlay that into a political career, even though she has obviously never been east of the Urals.  (#wemustneverstopmockingher.)  Also, Russia was once ruled by a guy called Ivan the Terrible, which suggests that they have not mastered PR.

I picture three Russians sitting in a tavern shortly before the election:

Russian 1:  I’m leaning toward Fyodor the Concerned this time around.  How about you?

Russian 2:  I’m partial to Boris the Prudent.  He’s for the children, you know.

Russian 1 (to Russian 3): Hey, we haven’t heard much from you since the primaries.  Who are you voting for?

Russian 3 (mumbling): Ivan.

Russians 1 & 2 (shocked): the Terrible?  Ivan the Terrible is your choice?!

Russian 3 (outraged): That “terrible” stuff is wildly exaggerated.  The media hates him!

Russian 2: I’m sure he wouldn’t be called “the Terrible” for no reason.

Russian 3: Oh yeah?  They did the same thing to Vlad the Impaler.  He was always just plain “Vlad,” until some polls showed him ahead in a few swing states.  Then some thinly sourced story comes out that he impaled one guy, years ago, in college.  And all of a sudden, he’s “Vlad the Impaler!”  It’s fake news!

(And, scene.)


On the other hand, From Russia With Love was a solid Bond film, and Back in the USSR was a fair to middlin’ Beatles song.  While I’m not fond of Molotov’s cocktail (HA!), a White Russian is pretty tasty.     Tolstoy and Dostoevsky could write a little bit, and Tchaikovsky had a way with a tune.  And one of their leaders was Peter the Great; I’m not super familiar with his work, but with a name like that, he must have been pretty cool.  (In a 50-state contest of “the Great” vs. “the Terrible,” I’m thinking Peter would have won in a Reaganesque landslide.  Sure, CA, IL and NY would go for Ivan, but only because they’ve been voting for terrible candidates for decades, and at this point it’s basically muscle memory for them.)

But one thing that I do know about Russia is that for the last 101 years – since their first-ever communist revolution – the Democratic Left has been in love – I mean head-over-heels, Bonnie-and-Clyde, Joanie-loves-Chachi IN LOVE — with Russia.   The affair started right after the revolution, and has survived every disastrous failing and famine and pogrom and Five-Year Plan for over a century now.

Consider just a few examples:

In 1919 American journalist/socialist John Reed wrote the first in a long line of romanticized accounts of the great and noble commie experiment in “Rescuing Humanity from the Evils of Free Markets, Prosperity and Respect for Individual Rights.”

That’s my title for his work.  He actually called it Ten Days that Shook the World.  In case you are wondering what kind of book a lefty American journalist would write about a bunch of leftists taking total control of a nation, I can sum that up by noting that the book received a rave review from Lenin.

Not the 1960s leftist with some musical talent but horrible taste in Japanese women; the early 20th century leftist who kicked off an impressive slaughter, and whose corpse is currently lying embalmed in Red Square.  If you ever visit, it’s the dessicated husk under glass that still manages to look more lifelike than Bernie Sanders.

If you are really a glutton for punishment, you can watch the Warren Beatty biopic/hagiography of Reed, called Reds (1981).  With a running time slightly longer than the revolution itself, it is a film so sluggish that only a leftist hack could love it.  So naturally, it was nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, and Beatty won for Best Director.  If you’d like to catch it on cable, try the Watching Paint Dry network.

For another prominent lefty journalist’s take, I can cite Lincoln Steffens, who after a 3-week visit to the USSR in 1919, returned to promote the Russian communist miracle, famously stating that, “I have seen the future, and it works.”

Which is something like saying, “I have seen Bill Clinton, and he really respects women,” or “I have seen Ted Kennedy, and he’s sober as a judge,” or “I have seen Trump, and he’s a shy, unassuming fellow.”

Flash forward to the early 1930s, and the Russian progressive experiment is going swimmingly.  Stalin had appointed (I can only guess) the great-grandmother of Crazy Eyes Chavez-Guevara-Castro as Minister of Farming & Food Supply.  So naturally, the fertile farmlands of the USSR were now producing a bumper crop of dust and tumbleweeds and sorrow, and the bodies of millions of dead and dying peasants were piling up like cordwood.

Into this agricultural Mordor came intrepid NY Times journalist Walter Duranty, who apparently inserted his cranium into his rectum (a move later immortalized as “the Krugman Maneuver”) as soon as he got to the Russian border.  He then travelled around Russia not noticing a horrific famine, and wrote a series of articles so delusional and detached from reality that their fantasy quotient was not topped for nearly a century, until Barack Obama created a healthcare system.  His basic thesis was, “Everything is great, this communism thing is really the cat’s pajamas (because that’s how they talked in the 30s), and reports of a famine here are wildly exaggerated.”

It was the kind of Mount Rushmore of b.s. that only leftist hack journalists could love.  So naturally, Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for his “reporting.”  You would think that the Times and the Pulitzer committee today would be ashamed about all of this.

Or I should say, you might think that.  I mean, if you haven’t been paying attention to the leftist MSM for the last half-century or so.  Because no – when the Times received some pressure starting in the 1980s to renounce Duranty’s Pulitzer, both the Times and the Pulitzer committee carefully evaluated the situation, and then decided to do nothing.  And the Pulitzer still stands.

Okay, this is getting tedious. So let’s just do a swift re-cap of the last 80 years or so:

1940s – Many American leftist thought leaders display a strange new respect for Hitler, after the dreamy Russians make peace with the Nazis by way of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  They only become anti-Nazi again after Hitler betrays their beloved Stalin.

1950s — The lefty “it” couple the Rosenbergs steal American nuclear secrets and give them to their first true love, the Russians.  (That was back in the good old days, when we sent traitors like them to the electric chair, instead of trading 5 captured jihadi leaders for them and then giving them a welcome home ceremony in the Rose Garden.)(Thanks, Obama.)

1960s & 70s – Academic lefties spend two decades arguing moral equivalence (the USA and USSR are both evil superpowers, even though the USSR isn’t quite so bad), and cheerleading for every Russian-sponsored proxy war from Vietnam to Cuba to the liberal arts departments at every major US university.

1980s – Ted Kennedy colludes with high-ranking Russian and KGB officials to counter what he thought were the aggressive militaristic policies of Reagan, and hopefully to hurt Reagan’s chances of winning re-election.  (I am not making that up – Google it, and behold what real collusion looks like.) Sting releases the sappy song “If the Russians Love their Children Too.”  (His first version of the song, “If the Mass-murdering Communist Politburo Members Love Russian Children Too” just didn’t have that ring to it.) Plus Bernie Sanders honeymoons in Russia, which I understand is absolutely beautiful at no time of the year.

2012 – Barack the Truly Terrible gets caught asking Putin’s puppet president to relay to Vladimir that he (Obama) will have more flexibility to decrease US military presence on Russia’s western borders with Europe once he gets re-elected.  (Again – THIS is what collusion looks like.) Later in the same year, Obama mocks Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia is a huge foreign policy threat to the US, saying, “The 1980s called, and they want their foreign policy back.”

2016 – Hillary Clinton and the DNC fund a sleazy oppo research report on Trump that involves a Brit working with Russians to come up with all kinds of slanderous gossip to hurt his campaign.

And after all of that – after a century of deriding anybody who suggested that Russian communism might be a threat, and doing their best to undermine US opposition to Russia during the Cold War and after – the Dems and their lefty enablers in the MSM turn on a dime when it looks like the fantasy of Russian collusion is a cudgel they can use against Trump.


They pretend to suddenly be shocked and offended by Russian bad actors, and their malign influence in our politics.  And they spend many months and millions of dollars on an investigation that even they are now grudgingly having to admit was based on a sleazy, fallacious report cooked up by Democrat politicians who were – ironically enough — colluding with Russians, among others.

I don’t think the MSM and lefty elites know how ridiculous all of this looks to most Americans.   But after a century of mocking the idea that anything could possibly be wrong with Russian influence in the world, the leftist blowhards in politics and the media look pretty foolish trying to gin up a new Red Scare.

They may win Academy Awards and Pulitzer prizes when they stay true to themselves and embrace Russian commies, but I can only hope that their recent, amateurish attempts to pose as Red Hunters are unlikely to win them anything in the electoral college.

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