Trial by Blockhead

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.”

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

– Adolf Hitler

We’re going to do something just a bit different today; the event I want to talk about is current – in the future, actually – but the reference which is the subject of the discussion is almost a year old. and the event it discusses is coming up to its sixth anniversary. The past event was the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine, the future event is the trial in absentia of persons accused by the west of having perpetrated that disaster, and the reference is this piece, by Mark Galeotti, for the Moscow Times: “Russia’s Roadmap Out of the MH17 Crisis”.

You all know Mr. Galeotti, I’m sure. Here’s his bio, for Amazon:

“Professor Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague, and coordinator of its Centre for European Security. Formerly, he was Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and head of History at Keele University. Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is a specialist in modern Russian politics and security and transnational organized crime. And he writes other things for fun, too…”

Yes, yes, he certainly does, as you will see. But this bio is extremely modest, albeit he most likely wrote it himself. Mr. Galeotti also authored an excellent blog, In Moscow’s Shadows, which was once a go-to reference for crime and legal issues in Russia, a subject in which he seems very well-informed. The blog is still active, although he seems mostly to use it now to advertise podcasts and sell books. That’s understandable – it’s evident from the blur of titles appended to his name that he’s a very busy man. Always has been, really; either as a student or an educator. He also speaks with confidence on the details of military affairs and equipment…despite never having been in the military or studied engineering; his education has pretty much all been in history, law or political science.

I know what you will say – many of the greatest reference works on pivotal battles, overall military campaigns and affairs were written by those who had no personal military experience themselves. Mr. Galeotti studied under Dominic Lieven, whose “Russia Against Napoleon” was perhaps the greatest work of military history, rich with detail and insight, that I have ever read. It won him the Wolfson prize for History for 2010, a well-deserved honour. Yet so far as I could make out, Mr. Lieven never served a day in uniform, and if you handed him an AK-47 and said “Here; field-strip this”, your likely response would be a blank look. He most certainly was not a witness to the subject military campaign. No; his epic work on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was informed by research, reading the accounts of others who were there at the time, poring over reams of old documents and matching references to get the best picture we have been afforded to date of Napoleon’s ignominious defeat through a combination of imperial overreach, a poor grasp of logistics and, most of all, resistance by an adversary who refused to be drawn into playing to Napoleon’s strength – the decisive, crushing battle in which the enemy could not retreat, and in which Napoleon would commit all the reserves and crush his enemy to dust. Continue reading “Trial by Blockhead”

It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people.”

“Do you remember that part, in the Wizard of Oz, when the witch is dead and the Munchkins start singing? Think that kind of happiness.”

Julie Mulhern, from “The Deep End”

The New York Times is unable to contain its glee at Russia’s having had to cancel its Victory Day celebrations. There was no end of negative press directed at Putin for having not yet announced postponement or cancellation, because it looked for a bit as if Russia was going to go for herd immunity rather than bringing everything to a grinding halt, and sequestering its terrified citizens in their homes as the west has done. But finally the number of Russian infections began to rocket encouragingly upward, and something had to be done. So it was lockdown, Victory Day postponed indefinitely, and the Times couldn’t be happier.

The Times has been going downhill at quite a clip ever since the mendacious aluminum-tubes nonsense in the runup to the American invasion of Iraq, and in fact the Times was an enthusiastic promoter of that war in general, swaddling itself in righteousness when serial liar Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal her sources. It was a ‘proud but awful moment for The Times’, but heroine Miller ‘surrendered her liberty in defense of a greater liberty’. Give me a moment, will you? I want to put on some violins.

Ah, that’s better. Inspiring, thank you, Judith. But in the end the Times’ blubbering about greater liberty looked a lot more like a heartstrings strumfest in defense of telling outrageous lies that got thousands upon thousands of innocent people killed, brought out the very worst in Americans in the grimy corridors of Abu Ghraib, and left a country so battered, demoralized and divided that it has never recovered to this day.

The foregoing is simply a measure of how far the Times has fallen, from standard-bearer for journalistic excellence to liberal demagogue, not fit to wrap fish and chips in. And the unseemly sneering and giggling of the authors of the subject piece should be regarded with the same contempt which would surely be directed at Russians who cheered at Independence Day celebrations having to be canceled in the United States – stick your tailgate parties up your tailgate, Amerikanski! Continue reading “It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.”

Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick”

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Issac Asimov

There’s a prejudice against making fun of the mad that spans all cultures, all ethnicities; mock the mentally ill at your peril, for some fair-minded citizen will surely intervene. Possibly many, enough to make you take to your heels, because those who were born without the ability to reason, or had it and lost it, are perhaps God’s most innocent children. There are few compensations for being born half-a-bubble off plumb, but one of them is anti-mockery armor. Having a laugh at the expense of the lunatic is bad form; something only dicks do, because it’s cheap and easy.

That’s what must be preventing Dmitry Rogozin from roaring with laughter; from falling helplessly to his knees and collapsing, wheezing, onto his side. If someone smart says something stupid, they are fair game. But laughing when someone whose openly-stated beliefs suggest they are suffering from dementia is inappropriate. His dilemma is both obvious, and acute – what to do?

First, some background; who is Dmitry Rogozin? A former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Russian Federation’s defense industries, he also served as his country’s Ambassador to NATO. He has degrees in philosophy and technology, and currently serves as the Russian Federation’s Special Representative on Missile Defense. He is also the Director of Roscosmos, the Russian state’s Space Industry. Some have talked him up as a possible replacement for Vladimir Putin, as President of the Russian Federation, but it is in his latter capacity, head of Roscosmos, that we are most interested today. He knows more about rockets than that they are pointy at one end and have fire at the other, if you get my drift.

A bit more background, and then I promise we can begin to tie things together; I think I can also promise you are going to laugh. Not because you’re a dick. But I think you will find you do have to kind of snicker. Just be careful who hears you, okay? It’s not as much of an insult if people don’t know. Continue reading “Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick””

Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.” 

Audre Lorde, from “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches”

Few exercises build perspective like reviewing the actions, approbations and forecast career trajectory of various socialites at the high point of their lives – or what one supposes to have been the high point; you never know – and their circumstances in the present. Sometimes it’s uplifting. Sometimes it’s humbling, or should be. And sometimes, especially in Ukraine, it highlights how certain characters are made prominent public figures despite their venal characteristics, snapping-turtle craziness or dangerous sociopathy, simply because they generated a lot of press in Russia and were perceived as being polarizing or otherwise undesirable figures in Russia. For their annoyance value, not to put too fine a point on it.

Nadiya Savchenko, for example. She was accused by Russia of acting as a spotter for Ukrainian artillery fire which killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in June ofhttps://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/07/09/article-2686230-1F83233300000578-574_306x427.jpg 2014. Even now, her Wikipedia page remarks scornfully that she was ‘abducted from Ukraine’ an  hour before the journalists were killed, so somebody else must have dunnit. The celebrity-hungry British paragons of press quackery quacked endlessly about the ‘glamorous Ukrainian pilot’ who was a ‘role model for Ukrainian women’, featuring soft-focus cheesecake shots of her flawless complexion framed by a photoshopped pilot’s helmet (she actually did complete flight school and was qualified to fly aircraft, but the Ukrainian Air Force made her a helicopter navigator) and more or less uncritically rebroadcasting Ukraine’s position.

“‘By openly abducting citizens of Ukraine on the territory of their state, the Russian authorities not only violate all international norms but also exceed basic norms of decency and morality.’ Savchenko is regarded as a role model for women in Ukraine, having earlier served in Iraq in a peacekeeping mission. It is believed she was wounded in fighting before her alleged seizure by pro-Moscow fighters.” Truly heroic women always go down under a hail of bullets before the cretins who shot them capture them once they are too injured to defend themselves, after having fought like tigers. You know, like Jessica Lynch. Continue reading “Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.”

The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “There are only so many stories you can tell, but an infinite number of storytellers.”

“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100/Methuselah’s Children

I have sinned, Dear Father;
Father, I have sinned:
Try and help me, Father;
won’t you let me in?
Liar

– Queen, from “Liar”

I may have mentioned the Canadian newspaper The National Post previously – I know I have mentioned it numerous times in comments. It’s a fiercely conservative medium, and its columnists are mostly united in the belief that Canada died a little when Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election to those liberal pansies. I am almost positive I remember him once describing his (Conservative) party as ‘the Republican party of Canada’, perhaps making a joke, but I cannot find any record of it now. Whatever the case, there were plenty of other people ready to attribute the Republican label to him.

Just as an aside, this is not an indictment of Harper as Prime Minister. I didn’t care for his politics personally, but I don’t care for (present Prime Minister) Trudeau’s, either. The former resisted calls from bankers to deregulate at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, and no matter what he might personally have wanted to do, it was the right decision; Canada emerged from the crisis with the strongest economy of the western nations. He was a staunch advocate for the military, in which I spent the best part of my adult life. All in all I could find little to personally complain about, except a general revulsion for conservative policies in general. Anyway, the purpose of this detour is to establish an alignment between Harper conservatives and the US Republican party, and by extension, an appetite on the part of National Post writers for conservative fiscal policies, foreign policies and leadership.

Including a visceral dislike – I would go so far as to say ‘hatred’ – of Russia and China, and tireless ridicule and scolding of those countries, as well as enthusiastic buy-in for any case made out against either or both. Would you like an example? Coming right up. Meet David J. Bercuson, a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and director emeritus of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. For those from Without – Calgary, Alberta is the very navel of conservatism in Canada. Mr. Bercuson’s piece is entitled, open-mindedly enough, “COVID-19 is bringing out the deceptive worst in Russia, China and Iran”.

He begins reasonably enough; Trump – yes, a Republican, but ideological conservatives often dislike him intensely – is full of shit when he refers to COVID-19 as ‘the Chinese virus’, something he only recently stopped doing, probably after being prompted by advisors. COVID-19 is not a Chinese weapon. Soothing bla bla bla…BANG! China, like all dictatorships, is covering up. It’s in their nature to lie to the west.

Ditto Russia, congenital liars, who are sowing discord through social media and frightening people with looney-tunes rubbish about COVID-19 being introduced to China by the US military. Continue reading “The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed”

Vladimir Putin’s Long Run

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “Your enemies are not to be destroyed, grant them longevity to witness your success.”

Who can go the distance? We’ll find out
in the long run…

Eagles, from “The Long Run”

The substance of this post appeared as a comment to the last post, but I was having so much fun with it that I decided to expand upon it a little. Contrary to what the title might suggest, it is not my intent to discuss pending Russian legislation which might see Putin remain President of the Russian Federation for an additional term or perhaps even more than one – the positions on that issue are both far apart and clearly defined. The west blanches at the idea, and would have been happy to see him gone long since, and at least half the electorate in Russia would vote for him probably so long as he lives.

No, what I wanted to talk about for a little bit more – and hopefully to a wider audience – is the statistically improbable, and therefore incredible, run of luck enjoyed by the Russian leader since the west first soured on him and decided Russia could never be a friend and partner, and that it must therefore be shunned. Left to its own devices, it could not but destroy itself without western advice, know-how, initiative and wealth.

Well. About that.

Washington has tried for as long as the Russian Federation has existed, and before that when it was the Soviet Union, to alternately destroy it and subordinate it to Washington’s will. There was a brief window during the Bill Clinton presidency in which it appeared the United States was actually trying to come to terms with a great-power Russia co-existing with western power led by a great-power United States. But it lasted only until Clinton had gotten an agreement on a united Germany, whereupon the United States promptly reneged on its part of the bargain and began adding countries to NATO like an international charm bracelet. That notwithstanding, I’d like to look at US-Russia relations just including and since the George W. Bush presidency; this is both so that our scope does not broaden until it’s too unwieldy, and so that we restrict ourselves to those relations while Vladimir Putin has been in an influential political position, either as President or Prime Minister.

What I think will become clearer is that either (1) Putin has enjoyed an incredible run of good fortune which has permitted his country to dodge repeated attempts to smash it like a walnut, simultaneously remaining at the helm despite western machinations to drive him from office whose stubbornness is matched only by their incompetence, or (2) the whole thing has been a ballet of consummate skill, in which the blundering United States has been outmaneuvered by Russia at every turn. Continue reading “Vladimir Putin’s Long Run”

Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

One dime is all it cost me, and
I found out for sure; you know,
that you double-crossed me:
Just how much can I endure?

Harlequin, from “Innocence”

“Everything is a contest. All dealings among men are a contest in which some will succeed and others fail. And some are failing quite spectacularly.”

Brandon Sanderson; “The Way of Kings”

You probably thought you had seen it all this year where Russia Hysteria In America is concerned. You probably thought there was no way America could top the loony accusations that Russia rigged the 2016 election for Trump, when the only part of the election Russia could conceivably have affected – the popular vote – was actually won by his opponent. Trump won in the electoral college, which would be impossible for Russia to manipulate – the electoral college votes using a paper ballot with a chain of custody impossible for Russian agents to interdict.A Pennsylvania elector holds her ballot for President-elect Donald Trump before casting it in December 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It would be quite a feat for Russia to rig the election so that the candidate it wanted to win actually lost, but still won – I’m not sure too many investigators could stay with that pretzel logic, and if the Russians are so smart they could pull that off with a layout of less than $110,000.00 when the combined spending of the Democrats and the Republicans on the 2016 election was $2.6 Billion (just on the Trump-Clinton war), it is probably useless for Washington to struggle against them any further. It would be like Dirty Harry in a shootout with a guy from the Bronze Age, or Crocodile Dundee in a knife fight against Boy George armed with a sherbet spoon.

But we’ve been over that before; America persists with the deluded canard that Russia ‘interfered’ in the 2016 election only because Hillary Clinton was incapable of coming to terms with having been beaten by Donald Trump, the intellectual equivalent of a street race between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Segway. I didn’t want Clinton to win because she is a warhag whose first instinct is to send in the Marines for anything more competitive than the Boxing Day Sale at Best Buy, but I would have to stipulate that she is so much smarter than Trump that they might be different species. Even mild-mannered dotard Bernie Sanders plays along with the charade, raising arms like steamed noodles in a fighting stance as he vows to protect America’s precious democratic process from the blackhearted machinations of Vladimir Putin.

While not too busy subverting the will of the American people, lumbering them with a President more like a petulant four-year-old with a bad comb-over, Russia shot down MH17, stole Crimea, invaded Ukraine, cyberattacked Ukraine over and over, rigged Brexit so the UK had to leave the European Union even though most of the British wanted to stay, hacked the French election and no end of other skullduggery, all of which America said it could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, and none of which it proved. Ever. Satellite photos of Buk missile launches, anyone? Continue reading “Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin”

I Heart Anarchists, by T.H.E. West

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “Nothing goes so well with a hot fire and buttered crumpets as a wet day without and a good dose of comfortable horrors within. The heavier the lashing of the rain and the ghastlier the details, the better the flavour seems to be.”

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”

Gilles Deleuze, from A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

I often have to wonder if the media of the western democracies spends more time watching what’s going on in its own countries, or what’s going on in Russia. Because the minute something goes down in Russia, the western media is on it like a fox on a mouse, like Rush Limbaugh on an unsupervised cheeseburger. And the first question the western media asks itself as it’s putting the story together for its audience of desperate housewives, harassed junior executives and the great amorphous trusting blob of the workforce is, “How are we going to spin this so the Russians sound like the shitheels of the universe?”

You certainly don’t have to take my word for it: how many times, just in the last decade, has the west – represented for the purposes of its values by its media – discovered a sudden espoused camaraderie and good fellowship for rebels, elsewhere than in the western democracies themselves? The west loved them some Syrian rebels so much it did not even notice they were offshoots of the same group that drove airliners into the World Trade Center in 2001. One man’s terrorist is another man’s Swiss Army knife – it just depends on the situation. And terrorists – oops; I meant, “moderate rebels” – are often very useful for stirring up trouble in countries the west has made enemies of through its pigheaded behavior, prejudice and general assholery.

Consider the recent and convenient example of the arrest, trial and sentencing of the Russian group calling itself – or being referred to in the news as – Network. I’ve selected coverage by The Guardian, but western reporting on the group and its tribulations at the iron hand of monolithic Moscow is pretty uniformly on the side of those poor boys, so misunderstood. Let’s take a look – everyone’s outrage filters set to maximum? Let’s go.

Right out of the gate, the British newspaper labels the group “Anti-fascists” rather than anarchists, although they refer to them as anarchists in the body of the article; this is targeted at ‘busy’ people who only skim headlines, and the message is that if you don’t support the accused, you like fascism. Is the Russian government fascist? It might be helpful to look at the definition.

Fascism: a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control, and being extremely proud of country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed.

Well, that basically tells me nothing, since barring the final parameter, it sounds like every government that has ever been – let’s look at the current British government, captained by the blonde buffoon, Boris Johnson. Is he a very powerful leader? He certainly thinks he is, and he managed to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union albeit nearly half his electorate was vigorously opposed to it. That sounds powerful enough to me – and what kind of a ridiculous qualifier is that, anyway? What leader of what government is going to suggest he is a milquetoast rather than a powerful leader? Christ, Juan Guaido figures he is a powerful leader, and he’s head of a government that doesn’t even have a country. Next! Continue reading “I Heart Anarchists, by T.H.E. West”

A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Grudge Meets a Line in the Sand

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”

And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

William Shakespeare, from Richard III

The hysterical behavior of Poland on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz has been an archetype of clumsy redirection, enthusiastically backed by western academics – Look! they cry; Putin is trying to blame Poland for starting World War II!! When everyone knows it was the Soviets with their notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, under whose terms the filthy co-conspirators planned to carve up Poland for themselves.

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest here that if the Polish attempt to rewrite history meets with broad acceptance, the practice will become a model for countries who wish to sanitize their own history so that they appear to have been victim rather than aggressor; hapless sacrifice to a peaceful nature rather than eager collaborator.

History – well, we assume it is the real history, although you can’t be too sure these days – reflects that over 230 Soviet soldiers, including the commander of the 472nd regiment, died in combat in the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Seems a drop in the bucket compared with the Soviet Union’s losses overall in the war of extinction with Nazi Germany, but the number reflects combat losses in that operation alone; men who died when they might reasonably have been expected to live, in order that thousands of prisoners might be liberated. Poland’s recent response has been to destroy Soviet war memorials in the country, backed by an order of the nationalist Polish parliament, the Sejm. And suddenly, enough became enough as far as Russia was concerned.

It is against this backdrop of determined lunacy that I feature the first-ever guest post by Dennis Pennington, British-born resident of Russia for over 20 years, and better known to most of us here as Moscow Exile. Without further ado; Dennis, take it away!

A Four Hundred Year Grudge

On September 1, 2019, the Polish leadership did not invite Vladimir Putin to attend commemorative events to mark the outbreak of World War II in Europe, whereas practically all other world leaders had been invited. In that same year, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp, the same thing happened: the Russian president was snubbed, no matter that it was the Red Army that had liberated the inmates of that death camp in 1944. Furthermore, the Polish authorities have ostentatiously refused to celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of Poland from Nazism. The Polish Foreign Ministry has already issued a sharp statement on the outcome of the Second World War in Europe. In its official account on Twitter, that ministry has expressed its views as regards this liberation of Poland from the Nazis:

“We respect the blood sacrifice of soldiers in the fight against Nazism, but in 1945, the Stalin regime brought terror, brutality and economic exploitation to Poland”.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that:

“The Red Army liberated Warsaw from Nazi occupation, but that did not mean freedom for Poland!”

During the Warsaw-Poznan offensive, on January 17, 1945, Warsaw was liberated from the Nazis by Soviet troops. This year is, therefore, the 75th anniversary of this event. However, although Poland had ceased to exist more than 6 years before this date, following a swift Nazi-Germany Blitzkrieg victory against the Polish armed forces in September 1939, present day Polish politicians prefer to call the Soviet liberators of Poland “Soviet occupiers” who “oppressed” Poland until the Soviet Union in its turn ceased to exist in 1991 and Poland had become a NATO member state. Continue reading “A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Grudge Meets a Line in the Sand”

The United States of Amnesia, and Its Incredible Asbestos Pants

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, You must remember, my dear lady, the most important rule of any successful illusion: First, the people must want to believe in it”.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire…

Chidren’s rhyme

In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagined past.

Alan Moore, from “Watchmen”

Unless you were catatonic this past couple of weeks, dead drunk from Sunday to Saturday, suffered a debilitating brain injury or were living in Bognor Regis where the internet cannot reach, you heard about the west slapping a four-year Olympic ban on Russia. Because it could, it did. And not really for any other reason, despite the indignation and manufactured outrage. It’s a pity – now that I come to think on it – that you can’t use outrage to power a vehicle, fill a sandwich or knit into socks: because the west has a bottomless supply, and it’s just about as renewable a resource as you could envision.

As I have reiterated elsewhere and often, the United States of America is the cheatingest nation on the planet where professional sports is concerned, because winning matters to Americans like nowhere else. Successful Olympic medal-winners and iconic sports figures in the USA are feted like victorious battlefield generals, because the sports arena is just another battlefield to the United States, and there’s no it’s-not-whether-you-win-or-lose-it’s-how-you-play-the-game in wartime. Successful American sports figures foster an appreciation of American culture and lifestyle, and promote an image of America as a purposeful and powerful nation. Successful sports figures anywhere, really; not so very long ago Olympic gold medalists were merely given an appreciative parade by a grateful nation, and featured in lucrative advertising contracts if they were photogenic. More recently, some nations have simply paid athletes by the medal for winning. This includes most nations, with the notable exceptions of the UK, Norway and Sweden. So the pressure is on to win, win, win, by whatever means are necessary.

Since Russia is in second place only to Germany for all-time medal rankings in the Olympics, and since Russia eventually made it back up to Public Enemy Number One in the USA – after a brief hiatus during which it looked like a combination of Boris Yeltsyn and teams of Harvard economists were going to make a respectful pauper of it while it became a paradise for international investors – the USA spares no effort to beat Russia at everything. On occasions where it is not particularly successful, as it was not in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, it has turned to other methods – screaming that the Russians are all dopers who benefit from a state-sponsored doping scheme, and implementing bans to prevent as many Russian athletes as possible from competing.

And that’s my principal objection. In media matters in the world of sports, just as in other political venues, the USA relies on a combination of lying and relentless repetition to drive its points home. Thus it is that the English-speaking world still believes Russia was convicted of having had a state-sponsored doping plan, found guilty and justly sentenced upon the discovery of mountains of evidence, its accusers vindicated and its dissident whistleblowers heroes to a grateful world. Huzzah!!

Examples abound – here’s a random one from the BBC:

“Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports, claims a new report.

It was “planned and operated” from late 2011 – including the build-up to London 2012 – and continued through the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics until August 2015.”

The BBC is Britain’s state-funded broadcaster, financed by the British government, and the British government is second only to the United States in its virulent hatred of Russia and Russians. But that was back then, when the ‘doping scheme’ was newly ‘discovered’, and all the western reporters and government figures were nearly wetting their pants with excitement. What about now?

Essentially, nothing has changed. TIME Magazine:

“It’s the latest twist in a long-running saga of investigations into widespread, state-sponsored doping by the Kremlin.”

My soul, if it isn’t the USA’s star witness, Doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, in AFP;

“Doped athletes do not work alone. There are medical doctors, coaches and managers who provided substances, advised and protected them. In Russia’s state-sponsored doping scheme, there is also a state-sponsored defense of many cheaters including state officials, witnesses and apparatchiks who are lying under oath and have falsified evidence. These individuals are clearly criminals,” he said.

More about him later; for now, suffice it to say the western media still finds him a credible and compelling witness.

The Canadian Globe & Mail:

“In 2016, independent investigations confirmed that Russian officials had run a massive state‑sponsored doping system during the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, which fed illicit performance-enhancing drugs to hundreds of athletes and took outlandish measures to pervert national drug-testing mechanisms.

The evidence was incontrovertible.”

I was going to go on, listing examples in the popular press from around the world, published since the latest ban was announced, all claiming investigation had proved the Russians had a massive state-sponsored doping scheme in place which let them cheat their way to the podium. But I think you get the picture, and that last lead-in was my cue; it was just too good to pass up.

Independent investigations confirmed. The evidence was incontrovertible. Continue reading “The United States of Amnesia, and Its Incredible Asbestos Pants”