Opinion

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Closing Range

Russia 1, America 0

Voter faith in our elections, leaders, even republic, keeps right on fading

As I write this, a week before publication, the Senate impeachment circus is in the question-and-answer phase. How things turned out both there, and in the Iowa caucuses, well, it looks to me like Russia wins either way.

Yep, the Russians.

Thirty long years since the Iron Curtain came down seems ancient, but I’ve always believed those who ignore history wind up repeating it – and by golly, in my dotage I’m now seeing history repeat itself. Let me explain how so.

First off, Russia is a historical bad example. From the czars keeping peasants (citizens) enslaved (as serfs), through Lenin and Stalin killing millions of “new Soviet man” in order to establish a new “royalty” in an atheistic Communist state, kept together by lies and KGB surveillance for seven decades, through the “fall of Communism” to a Russia now controlled by a KGB officer and his pals – Russia’s history is of nonstop malign governance.

That malign governance is furthermore based on a simple, even crude model – from the czars though the commies to the kleptocrats, the game has always been “haves” deliberately and actively telling whatever lies they need to keep their goodies away from the “nots.”

So, Russia’s unique practice of this game of lies, especially in the Soviet era, enriched the world’s vocabulary in ways that still resonate today.

The free world natters about elites, but the Russians invented nomenklatura, or the nomenclature. These were “name” Russians, Communist Party members in a country where only loyal party members (and their families) got the good jobs, the best apartments (with private bathrooms!), dachas in the forest and, at the tippy top, Zil limousines (cheesy knockoffs of American Packards). But what did they really work at hardest? According to a mid-1980’s Foreign Affairs writer, the nomenklatura “engaged in ceaseless political maneuvering among themselves while maintaining total power, as a privileged class […]” Kind of like things are in America these days, hmmm? And in Ukraine?

Among that maneuvering, of course, was telling the lies. The Soviet state controlled first a newspaper, infamously called Pravda (Truth), and the last Soviet national TV news program was called Vremya (Time). Both, in hindsight, with translated Russian stories compared to contemporaneous Western journalism, were pure propaganda, utterly fake news, all produced under official sanction as maskirova (masking of intent) and disinformatsia (disinformation).

Who were the targets? Useful idiots, of course, a Western term spawned from useful innocents in the late 1940s early in the Cold War to peg unwitting socialists “regarded as susceptible to communist propaganda and manipulation.” The Russians later picked up on that – their version is poleznyy idiot.

Then there’s kompromat, Russian for collection of damaging documentation (or rumors of same) in order to gain political or business leverage over not just enemies, but allies. So where does kompromat come in today? Might want to ask that of a certain British poleznyy idiot who put together a “dossier” of supposed Russian kompromat, paid for by that same political party that has screamed endlessly (and keeps screaming) since 2016 about Russian “interference.” Oh, and to be fair, there’s the other side that hoped for dirty juice from a Russian attorney who instead pulled a bait-and-switch for what she really wanted (typically Russian maskirova).

So here we are, after a crude e-phishing hack, a hundred grand in Fakebook adverts, a wasted $32 million investigation, the revelation of the shortcomings of secret foreign intelligence warrants and law enforcement ethics at the highest level, what’s to conclude? What was the point?

While some insist the Russians had a partisan outcome in mind, I can’t believe that. For starters, the Podesta emails are revealing only for their boring, sycophantic banality, and any Republican hack would have revealed same. As for Putin preferring a mercuric Trump over a predictable and inept Clinton? Seriously?

My feeling now is the Russians never cared who won, just as long as America lost. While the useless idiots comprising the Capitol Hill nomenclatura tear at each other’s throats on the premise of Russian interference, voter faith in our elections, leaders, even republic, keeps right on fading. Mission accomplished, comrades.