“We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.”
Don’t wanna be an American idiot,
One nation controlled by the media;
Information age of hysteria…
Green Day, from “American Idiot“
Is there, anywhere in the great trackless expanse of the internet, a pseudo-news site more gratuitously insulting, more deliberately offensive than Politico?
I have to say, the hysterical, grunting, wild-eyed hatred routinely on show there reminds me of La Russophobe in her prime. Its reliance on anyone who will say what it wants to hear reminds me of her sycophantic celebration of the ‘work’ of Paul Goble, deep thinker and self-confessed former CIA spook operating from darkest Taunton, Virginia. Once described by Mark Adomanis – remember him? Lithuanian by descent, referred to Edward Snowden as the worst kind of traitor until outed by a commenter as a former employee himself of Booz Allen Hamilton, the security consultancy which had employed Snowden – as ‘a whore who trawls through the lowest gutter press in Russia such as Novaya Gazeta, translates their articles and passes them off as analysis’. Anyway, the default mode at Politico is ‘unhinged’, while its agenda is as easy to see as a turd in a punchbowl, and about as edifying.
The example I’m most recently acquainted with is this hatchet job on Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Let me say up front that I am not a believer in any of the current magic vaccines, and am not interested in being vaccinated with any of them. However, this nakedly partisan attack is in a class by itself; over-the-top hyperbole that labels everything that comes from Russia a weapon. Let’s take a look.
The piece starts out neutrally enough, mentioning – accurately, enjoy it, because that might be the last time you see it for awhile – that the Russian vaccine was given the stamp of approval by The Lancet, Europe’s leading and most-respected medical journal. I would just point out here, in fairness, that The Lancet is as guilty of political bias as anything in print, and only last year was forced to withdraw its approval of a study which found hydroxychloroquine completely ineffective against the symptoms of coronavirus, and even hazardous to health. It transpired the study relied on a database which was mostly bullshit, and was overseen by a director at Brigham & Women’s Health Hospital which was at that time carrying out a trial of Remdesvir, hydroxychloroquine’s rival and a clear conflict of interest. As if that were not enough, America’s ‘leading infectious disease expert’, Dr. Anthony Fauci – living proof that if you claim every possible position on an issue, you are bound to be right on one of them – also piled on that no randomized, placebo-controlled studies have found hydroxychloroquine to be effective. For the record, it is possible if not probable that hydroxychloroquine’s studied efficacy was due to other factors. That does not change the fact that if Dr. Fauci told me my own name, I would check my driver’s license to make sure he was not lying.
Be that as it may, Politico quickly shifted into its customary sneering derision. It also wants you to know that Moscow ‘humiliated’ EU leader Josep Borrell when all he wanted to do was congratulate Russia on its success. In fact Borrell was in Moscow to talk about the Sputnik V vaccine, with a view to securing some doses for the EU. And if he had confined himself to that subject, he would have been warmly received. Unfortunately, he also wanted to shoot his European mouth off about ‘political dissident’ and ‘opposition leader’ Alexey Navalny, and to convey Europe’s absolute insistence that he be released ‘immediately and unconditionally’, which kind of smothered any possibility of cordiality from that moment on. Kind of like how if Lavrov visited Borrell in his native Spain, and ordered him to release Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras would go over among the Spanish.
“It’s a nightmare,” said German Green Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, an MEP who sits on the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Likening Russia’s Sputnik strategy to its sports doping scandal, she called it an “urgent matter” that demands the EU’s attention.”
What, you mean Russia’s ‘sports doping scandal’ which saw 28 of 39 convictions overturned on appeal, and Olympic medals which had been ordered stripped from the athletes reinstated? That doping scandal? The one that saw the prosecution’s star witness, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, crash and burn like the Hindenburg? That doping scandal?
“How the Times could provide such minimal coverage of these important April 2018 reasoned CAS decisions on matters on which the Times had extensively reported is inexplicable. By allowing the Russian athletes, for the very first time, to confront their accusers with cross-examination, the CAS was in a position to make startling revelations about Rodchenkov and McLaren. Rodchenkov, for example, admitted that he never personally witnessed any accused Russian athlete committing doping violations themselves, including taking the illegal drug cocktail, giving a clean urine sample out of competition, tampering with a urine sample, or transmitting information to co-conspirators about the coding on the drug sample after it had been given.
Furthermore, several of Rodchenkov’s explanations of events were simply not believable. For example, Rodchenkov had stated that the swapping of urine samples occurred after 1 am, but his own diary entries confirmed his bedtime by midnight each night, with two or three exceptions. When confronted with this contradiction, he made the incredible claim that he had lied to his diary.“
Dr. Rodchenkov also could not recall with any degree of accuracy the ingredients in the ‘Duchess Cocktail’ which he claimed to have invented himself, for the purpose of undetectably doping athletes.
All that notwithstanding, you can sort of see why Politico tapped von Cramon for her opinion; it had most likely already apprised itself of her Russophobic credentials from this letter she sent to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, imploring her to slow down any approval process for the Russian vaccine, citing a Russia “unfortunately notorious for politicising and manipulating even medicine and science when it serves a political goal.” No mention at all of the west, chiefly the UK and USA, politicizing sport until the Olympics is just a big rainbow-sparkle state-doping extravaganza in which actual sport comes a far-distant second to politics.
“Overall I must say we still wonder why Russia is offering theoretically millions and millions of doses while not sufficiently progressing in vaccinating their own people,” she remarked…This is also a question that I think should be answered.”She underscored that Russia would need to permit inspections of its manufacturing sites and submit all of their data for scrutiny as part of the regulatory approval process“
Oh; can you afford to adopt that smarmy tone, Ms. von der Leyen? I don’t think you can, and your frantic ass-covering over EU vaccine shortages bears me out.
“After harsh criticism of European vaccine procurement, von der Leyen said the pharmaceutical industry had simply not been able to keep up with the “groundbreaking pace” of vaccine development. Her agency has since set up a working group to prevent further production problems, due, for example, to shortages in the supply of ingredients.”
Once again, and probably not for the last time, it’s a good thing I am not in charge in Russia; I have no patience at all for the chowderhead inbreeders who make up the EU’s leadership, and I would long since have said, “Know what? You’re right – we’ll keep all our vaccine for ourselves and our direct-marketing clients. Thanks, and no need for further visits.” I might have thrown some sailor-talk in there too. Meanwhile, Seeking Alpha sees the Sputnik vaccine as a likely candidate for most popular vaccine outside the western world.
“Currently, there are about 20 countries that already authorized the Russian vaccine for use, while countless others are lining up, following a glowing review of the vaccine that appeared in the Lancet Journal. While the Russian vaccine will probably never be used in the US and it may only be used in a small number of EU countries, I think that its specific qualities make it a candidate to become the most popular vaccine outside the Western World.
The fact that it is over 90% effective and it is also apparently safe makes it an attractive vaccine compared with many other conventional vaccines, most of which did not achieve an effectiveness rate that is even close to the Russian one. The only two vaccines that are currently in use that also claim an effectiveness rate that is over 90% are the mRNA-based vaccines from Moderna (MRNA)and Pfizer (PFE). The two mRNA vaccines do suffer a major handicap however when it comes to distributing it and administering it in places where the infrastructure meant to keep it at very low temperatures is lacking. Russia’s vaccine can be kept in a household fridge if need be, while the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at -70 Celsius. Given its overall advantages, I foresee this vaccine becoming the preferred available choice for literally billions of people around the world.”
Would Russia’s time be well-spent trying to influence the United States, do you think? What about Europe, especially under its current wildly-incompetent leadership? Or would it be better off working with countries who don’t spit on the doorstep when it rings the bell? That’s what I thought, too. Russia and China both have made significant progress in South and Central American relations, while the Trumpian debacle of trying to hammer the Guaido peg into the Venezuela hole is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Europe’s view is “If we’re not your friend, you don’t have any friends”. Washington’s is “I’ll think about your offer while you tell me who is going to be the leader of our gang”. What would you say to two actual people who behaved like that? Would it be two words? Would they be ‘Happy Birthday”? I thought not.
Back to the Politico attack piece, and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.
“Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė is also staking out her opposition to the Russian jab, and has said her country will shun Sputnik even if the EMA approves it. There’s “no doubt” that Russia’s efforts to sell the vaccine to Europe are “yet another geopolitical game,” she warned.”
The Lithuanians have elevated Russophobia to a national obligation; it’s part of being a patriotic Lithuanian. Of which there are now 2.79 million, meaning total citizens and not necessarily ethnic Lithuanians, down from a high of 3.7 million in 1992, which was just about exactly the moment it announced its independence from the USSR. Before that it had seen a steady climb in demographics, so that the population of Lithuania now is about what it was in 1955, maybe a bit less. Freedom is untidy, right? Anyway, imagining once again that I am leader of the Russian Federation, I’d be saying, “Make a note of that, Sergey; no vaccine for Lithuania, I don’t care if they’re injecting mosquito repellent in desperation.” Don’t let your mouth get your face in trouble, Ingrida – at the moment Lithuania has an accumulated 194,051 COVID cases, of whom 3,171 have died. Lithuania currently is experiencing a vaccine shortage and has only the Pfizer vaccine; its hope of achieving herd immunity rests on acquiring millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, the former currently awaiting approval from the EU, and the latter just approved end of last month. The AstraZeneca vaccine achieved only 60% efficacy in trials. Against Sputnik’s 91.6% assessed efficacy. But Lithuanian pride? Priceless.
I see the Sputnik V vaccine being very well received in places like Africa, where a freezer that keeps your vaccines at a comfy -70 Celsius might be a bit hard to come by, like the Pfizer vaccine requires. It’s also much cheaper. I see it doing well in Eastern Europe, once some of the snotty pretenders realize they are going to be at the back of the line for vaccines that the west cannot seem to make fast enough.
I also see this not being a long-term issue, because people around the world are already fed up with the high-handedness of public-health Caligulas, and are not going to take kindly to being told they now need an annual COVID vaccination to cope with an always-mutating virus that just laughs mockingly at herd immunity. Someday, someday soon, a critical mass of people is going to say under its breath, “This far, no further”.
But the sheer prickishness of the leaders of the EU will be remembered, long after COVID has shuffled offstage. The hysteria of the German Greens, former radical liberals gone momentarily respectable simply because the rest of Germany’s government is as dysfunctional as a Marilyn Manson concert. The clumsy defensiveness of Borrell, who didn’t realize he had been insulted until he got home and his barking-mad colleagues told him all about it. The icy condescension of von der Leyen. Uncle Sam, grinning in the wings, ready to bend the EU over and fuck it ’til it cries with its own fancy deep-freeze twice-as-nice-for-twice-the-price vaccines. Remember.
You brought it all on yourselves.