Ukraine

Another Puti-Toots Adventure

In the Kremlin, John’s proposal could be taken literally. The Russian leadership believes in a worldwide gay conspiracy, even a backroom global gay government that is trying to take over the world. Back in December 2013, when the Russian parliament was discussing the protests in Ukraine, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, Alexei Pushkov (who will be accompanying Putin to the UN), warned that if Ukraine moves toward the West, it will become part of 'the sphere of influence of gay culture' — as directly opposed to the Russian sphere of influence. Reporting on John’s speech in Kiev last week, Russia’s highest-circulation daily stated that John 'invited Ukraine to join the gay community.' So the same newspaper could imagine that if Putin had, indeed, picked up the phone to call John, he would have secured a direct line to the gay rulers of the world — and he could communicate to them that he was a reasonable man who shouldn’t be criticized quite so harshly. (Marsha Gessen, Reuters, 17 September 2015)

To the one, no, I did not pay attention to that bit with Elton John, because … er … ah … well, you know? It’s Elton freakin’ John and Vladimir freakin’ Putin, why would I?

This is my comeuppance:

Enter Elton John. The singer attended a political conference in Kiev last week, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and talked LGBT rights with him. He seemed to be positioning himself as a sort of global LGBT ambassador. Vladimir Putin wants his seat back at the world's table. How far will he go to get it? (Masha Gessen, detail of Reuters.com 22 September 2015)Over the weekend, John told the BBC that he would like to meet with the Russian president and discuss the issue with him as well.

In the Kremlin, John’s proposal could be taken literally. The Russian leadership believes in a worldwide gay conspiracy, even a backroom global gay government that is trying to take over the world. Back in December 2013, when the Russian parliament was discussing the protests in Ukraine, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, Alexei Pushkov (who will be accompanying Putin to the UN), warned that if Ukraine moves toward the West, it will become part of “the sphere of influence of gay culture” — as directly opposed to the Russian sphere of influence. Reporting on John’s speech in Kiev last week, Russia’s highest-circulation daily stated that John “invited Ukraine to join the gay community.” So the same newspaper could imagine that if Putin had, indeed, picked up the phone to call John, he would have secured a direct line to the gay rulers of the world — and he could communicate to them that he was a reasonable man who shouldn’t be criticized quite so harshly.

(Gessen)

Well, you know … this is Puti-Toots, after all. And what part of the Puti-Toots Adventure actually makes any sense?

(more…)

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Speaker Boehner at His Finest

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

Here’s a quote from the Speaker of the House:

“Does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds!”

Laughter is certainly acceptable at this point.

After all, Bush had his chance in 2008, and didn’t take the swing. Why Speaker Boehner feels the need to make up random excrement is not really a mystery; he’s a Republican operating in a post-policy, post-fact political mode. This is what Republicans do. For them, the greatest triumph of the American people would be if the people chose to believe in lies and ignore facts. There is a difference between acknowledging human frailty and exploiting it.

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Bookman, Jay. “Boehner: ‘Bush would have punched Putin in nose'”. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 28 October 2014.

Boehlert, Eric. “Flashback, 2008: When A Russian Invasion Made Fox News Shrug”. Media Matters for America. 4 March 2014.

The Latest Poop From Puti-Toots

Emperor Puti-Toots the Last looks bored upon his throne.

It is important enough to not allow that John Sweeney’s report for BBC Panorama should pass unnoticed or unmentioned. Then again, neither is it such bad news that we should panic.

Three eyewitnesses, all civilians, separately told Panorama that they saw a missile-launcher in rebel-held territory a few hours before the Boeing jet was hit.

One eyewitness saw the missile-launcher roll off a low-loader at Snezhnoye, around ten miles from the crash site, at around 13:30 local time (10:30 GMT).

“We just saw it being offloaded and when the BUK started its engine the exhaust smoke filled the whole town square,” he said.

The eyewitness told the BBC that the crew struck him as Russian soldiers: “Well-disciplined, unlike the rebels, and not wearing the standard Ukrainian camouflage uniform sported by government and rebel troops alike.”

“They had pure Russian accents. They say the letter ‘g’ differently to us,” he said.

In eastern Ukraine, most people speak Russian but the BUK crew did not speak Russian with a local accent.

Sweeney also reports that the testimony has been corroborated by a second witness “who added that an officer in a military jeep escorting the BUK spoke with a Muscovite accent.”

It seems beyond question that Vladimir Putin wants a war; a really, really big war. What remains unanswered, though, is why.

Meanwhile, there really is no point in panicking. Indeed, mere daily fretting might be overkill. This isn’t the sort of thing, like bad groundwater or poor nuclear safety, that the politicians can overlook. And, plus, wars are spectacular, whereas bringing nuclear plant safety up to par isn’t; it’s the nuclear accidents that are spectacular. That is to say, war will come or else it won’t, and if Putin intends to light up the sky, it would seem reasonable to suggest that he won’t give much immediate warning. In the question of why, it seems more and more evident that Vladimir Putin has simply lost his mind. At this point, expecting the ordinary geopolitical jousting would be the extraordinary expectation.

But the line of the day goes to Mikhail Khordokovsky, the former oligarch and present staunch foe of the Putin regime, who asserted:

“The prospect of democratic change of power in Russia does not exist anymore. There will be more blood in the future.”

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Sweeney, John. “MH17 disaster: Russians ‘controlled BUK missile system'”. BBC. 8 September 2014.

The Temptation of Saint Ronald Magnus

To the one, it’s hard to figure how Republicans could be any more disrespectful to a dead president. To the other, they’re Republicans. Steve Benen of msnbc explains:

Saint Ronald MagnusThis over-the-top Reagan worship isn’t just wrong; it’s ironic. In 1983, some of the prominent conservative media voices of the day actually complained bitterly that Reagan’s response was wholly inadequate.

George Will – yes, that George Will – called the Reagan White House’s arguments “pathetic” at the time, insisting, “It’s time for [Reagan] to act.”

The president responded publicly with rhetoric that made the president sound rather helpless. “Short of going to war, what would they have us do?” Reagan said. “I know that some of our critics have sounded off that somehow we haven’t exacted enough vengeance. Well, vengeance isn’t the name of the game in this.”

You know, just something to keep in mind as you hear our conservative neighbors regaling the myths of Saint Ronald Magnus when history just isn’t good enough.

I mean, the guy’s dead. Come on. Then again, there really isn’t any guarantee that the late president would have had any clue what people were droning on about. Still, though, lying about a dead man? I suppose that’s something to remember, as well, when conservatives preach about “values”.

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Benen, Steve. “Sometimes, ‘What Would Reagan Do?’ is the wrong question”. msnbc. July 21, 2014.