Politics

Suddenly Applicable History: Back In The USSR, For The Last Time

It’s August, 1991. The Soviet Union is in crisis – but for the past few years it’s always been in crisis. Yet – this seems different.

Mikhail Gorbachev has not been heard from. The KGB has him under “protective custody”. The Soviet Army is in the streets. No one knows what is going on. State TV is playing the “Swan Lake” ballet non-stop and nothing else.

It is announced, finally, that the “State Committee On The State Of The Emergency” (a name which is as bureaucratically nonsensical in Russian as in English) will hold a press conference.

Five men appear, addressing a nervous country, as pictured. The leader, Vice President Gennady Yanayev, says Gorbachev is “resting” for “health reasons”. Everything is normal. Obey orders.

Except… Yanayev can’t stop his hands from shaking. He slurs his words. He’s frightened. And drunk.

Then… a reporter speaks up. An 18 year old young woman, Tatiana Malinka. She asks a question which is carried live over the Soviet Union:

“Sir, are you aware of the fact that you have just committed a state coup?”

Something breaks. And that something was the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin, who had broken with Gorbachev and been exiled to an apparently parochial position leading the Russian (not Soviet) government, stood atop a tank and told the generals to stand down. And they did.

The coup ended, and the four putschists were carted off to jail (the fifth shot himself in the head first). Gorbachev returned to Moscow.

Except the coup did not end. It had just begun. Yeltsin, triumphantly, announced that the Communist party was now outlawed. That the Soviet Union would be abolished, replaced with its member states, the largest of which Yeltsin happened to run. A few months later, the red flag was lowered over the Kremlin one last time, and the Russian tricolor raised in its place. Gorbachev was out of a job, and the USSR was gone.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

No, wait. They didn’t.

Yeltsin, faced with another coup led by the same group of people two years later, responded by shelling the Russian version of Congress – the very same building Yeltsin stood in front of, on top of a tank, and faced down the KGB and the Army – with tanks of his own.

Broken by this pretty clear repudiation of everything he stood for, he then proceeded to quite literally drink himself to death, while his family looted the country.

His last act, almost exactly 21 years ago, was to resign in favor of his successor, a completely unknown apparatchik from St. Petersburg, named Vladimir Putin.

Coups never end. Once you cross the line of legitimacy, it is forever gone.

In Retrospect, I Should Have Thought Bigger

And today, DC goes crazy.

My predictions:

  • Trump in about an hour or so has a fit of “I told you sos” on Twitter, taking perverse “credit” for losing the Senate, er, having it stolen.
  • McConnell gives an impassioned speech on the Senate floor finally, conclusively breaking with Trump, pleading for Republicans to stop following him off a cliff.
  • The futile challenges go well into tomorrow as every single MAGAt Republican that just got elected will demand their fifteen minutes of sound bytes yelling at the chamber about how Communists are poisoning America’s bodily fluids.
  • On the streets, largely peaceful protests turn violent around sunset and there are multiple deaths.
  • Trump attempts to use the violence to invoke the Insurrection Act.

Marxism-Leninism-Trumpism

This is an example of the agitprop being pushed by Trump this weekend (he tweeted it twice)

China’s government is communist in name only. You can’t be communist and invest in major Hollywood studios, for God’s sake. Do these people even know what words mean?

No, China didn’t give Biden billions of dollars. Or he gave it all away, since Biden is notably not a billionaire. (Throughout his career he had among the lowest net worth of US Senators.)

No, Trump isn’t the only politician China fears. China LOVES Trump in office because thanks to mismanagement of the US economy China is now on track to overtake the US as the largest economy a decade earlier.

There is currently no communist government (the usual suspects cited, like North Korea and Venezuela, are authoritarian dictatorships, less so in Venezuela’s case) existing in the world.

There is no overarching communist conspiracy to destroy America. The Soviet Union died 30 years ago. Nikita Khrushchev never made the quotes attributed to him in this video.

Google is not censoring your web searches. (Go ahead and try DuckDuckGo but Google really doesn’t care who you vote for, just what you click on.)

Blaming COVID-19 on China’s government gives them FAR too much credit.

Painting Donald Fucking Trump as the stalwart defender of truth, justice and the American way means one of two things; you have a grift or you are an idiot.

Still, it’s important to know the state of the art in enemy agitprop.

The Stab In The Back

As entertainment a while back, I used to tell the story of World War One. It was great fun at parties. I’d get rolling during work lunches at bougie little lunch places, and half of the establishment would be staring balefully at our table around the time I cut loose with my sixth “fuckheads”. Because World War One had a LOT of fuckheads.

Although the tale of everyone in Europe marching in lockstep to chaos is an interesting story, the ending isn’t, really. More of an inevitability – Germany’s failure to win naval superiority meant a choking naval blockade that threatened to starve German cities, four years of annihilation-scale trench warfare caused Germany to run short of men to throw in the meat grinder, and even with winning the Eastern Front conclusively thanks to Russia’s collapse into revolution, British tanks and newly-arrived American divisions meant that the German army could not survive.

And it didn’t. The collapse, when it finally came, was swift. The Meuse-Argonne offensive of September 1918 shattered the German Army militarily. The Austrians, for their part, always the weakest link of the Central Powers, had broken the back of their army trying to force the Alpine passes into Italy and failing, and were the first to surrender in October.

The German Navy, which to this point had spent much of the last half of the war in port rather than meet the overwhelming firepower of the Royal Navy, at this time decided it was time to make an honorable last sally at the enemy. Rather than die gloriously for Kaiser and country, the German sailors revolted. The revolution spread quickly throughout the starving, defeated cities of Germany, and the Kaiser fled the country. The fighting in what was now the German Revolution continued for another year, but World War One was over.

Those are the facts. They’re fairly indisputable. They happened in full view of everyone concerned; a great many of the decision makers were quite open in what they did and why.

Except they were disputed, only a decade later. German right wingers, some of which wanted to bring back the disgraced Kaiser, others who wanted a more modern, Italian-style “fascist” state, had to explain why Germany collapsed, instead of beating the entire Western alliance through tenacity and elan.

They blamed the Jews. And the intellectuals. And the workers. And the communists. All of these people stabbed the noble German soldier in the back, while he was fighting for Kaiser and country. If not for the treasonous rabble who betrayed Germany, the war would have been won, the Great Depression would not have happened, and the misery imposed as punishment by the Versailles Treaty (the final act of “fuckheadedness” of World War 1) would instead have been visited on Germany’s enemies.

Educational Film: The Weimar Republic – Stab-in-the-Back Legend - YouTube

It didn’t matter that this was all in the recent, living memory of everyone involved. It didn’t matter that even a cursory glance at what happened explains quite sufficiently that Germany could not have won the war, by any means.

It didn’t matter, because the lies were more seductive than the reality. It told people what they wanted to hear. They didn’t want to be the losers of the Great War, they wanted to be the victims of the Stab In The Back.

A poll that came out today showed that 50% of Republicans believe Donald Trump will be inaugurated for a second term as President next month.

Election 2020: It’s All Over But The Wailing And Gnashing Of Teeth

Trump and his team of attorneys on crack have been trying to convince states not to certify Biden’s slates of electors to finish the job, elect Joe Biden President, unleash the Seventh Seal of the Libpocalypse, and unleash Alexandria Ocasio-Bahamut unto a defenseless world, to slaughter and provide free health care to whomever she spies.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, for progressive Democrat-Final Fantasy crossover fans) they failed. Today both Arizona and, later, Wisconsin, the two states remaining, certified Biden as the victor.

Arizona Gov. ignores White House 'Hail to the Chief' call, while certifying  election results

Notably, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona certified the election results – not only while Rudy Guiliani was holding a “hearing” populated by Rep. Paul Gosar (Crazy Wingnut-AZ) and a few other assorted cranks explaining how the Chavez family of Venezuela conspired to shift millions of votes from Trump to Biden – but, in a moment captured on video, was called by the White House literally while he was signing the paperwork. He shook his head, put his phone to one side unanswered, and kept signing. Which really is the best illustration of how Trump’s campaign to convince everyone, most of all himself, that he won the election and remains President and really IS the best boy of all, has finally ended.

The remaining steps are the electoral college formally meeting in 2 weeks, followed by Biden taking the oath of office on January 20. Both of these will happen. There is no court case that could remotely stop this from happening – the most absolute outlier of a chance, involving multiple judges turning sudden QAnon believers and passing Rudy’s risible lawsuits up the chain, would flip one state, possibly two. There simply aren’t even enough lawsuits in process to affect the result any more, much less ones with any hope of success.

Yet Trump soldiers on, because he believes he really is President, as he snarled churlishly to a reporter on Thanksgiving Day. He really believes he is the best boy of all. And right now what administration is left to him is repeating that to him.

There aren’t many left. Attorney General Bill Barr, sensibly for his reputation, has been missing in action, a fact Trump complained about among others in a long, whine-filled cry of lament to a remarkably agreeable Maria Bartiromo Sunday morning.

Trump promised on Thanksgiving (just before he snarled to a reporter that he was the President and the reporter was “lightweight”, because none of the reporters present were reassuring Trump that he really was the best boy of all) that if the electoral college votes for Biden, then of course he will leave the White House on schedule. He then complained on Twitter that the reporters (lightweights all, who would not acknowledge he was the President or the best boy of all) fixated on that promise of a normal succession and not the implicit fact that of COURSE Trump would win the electoral college ballot, because Trump wins everything.
There are signs he honestly believes this.

He is preparing a fallback scenario though – in true Trumpian temper tantrum fashion, he is apparently planning to upstage the inauguration by holding a campaign rally at the same time, announcing his bid for the 2024 Presidency. He honestly believes that this will gain more media attention, and more of an audience, than Biden’s being inaugurated President.

Because he is the best boy of all. Everyone tells him so.

Last week, before the Thanksgiving holiday, over 4 million Americans contracted COVID-19. Trump’s only thought for them was, during the Thanksgiving appearance where he was not a lightweight because he is the President, that he created the coming vaccine. To quote directly. “The vaccines – and by the way, don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine. . . . Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines, because the vaccines were me

While going to play golf instead of attending boring meetings on pandemic management, deriding the concept of basic social distancing, and mocking his opponent and others for wearing masks and explicitly saying mask-wearing was a political attack against him personally, and making it difficult to impossible for the immigrant researchers and investors who actually developed the vaccines to remain in the country with their families, he, Trump, le vaccin, c’est moi. They were him. He is the vaccine. He is Trump, and he is the President, and you are not, and never will be, because you are a lightweight.

Because he is the best boy of all. Everyone must tell him so.