Since 2008 I have often suspected that the Obama administration is one huge, unfunny, practical joke. That is certainly the only rational explanation for the reaction of the Obama administration to the ongoing slicing and dicing of Ukraine by Mother Russia under the leadership of Vladimir “Fearless Leader” Putin. James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:
Here’s a case in point. On March 13, a week or so after that interview was published, Samantha Power, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about Moscow’s intervention in Crimea: “I missed the day at law school where self-determination was defined as #Russia-determination. Russia must halt its military action.” Two days later, she added: “Russia can veto a Security Council resolution, but it can’t veto the truth.”
It would appear the State Department is seeking to maintain the balance of power through a strategy of mutually assured derision.
One problem with using sarcasm as a weapon is that its proliferation is uncontrollable and widespread. Even the Canadians have it. In a column for the Toronto Sun, Ezra Levant mocked “the ironically named Ambassador Power.”
Another problem, as Levant suggested, is that the Russians appear to be better at mockery than their American counterparts. After a phone conversation between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, Levant wrote, “the Kremlin release[d] this note: ‘Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Putin on the success of the Paralympic Games and asked Mr. Putin to pass on his greetings to the athletes.’ . . . At least Samantha Power stomped her feet and wrote a mean Twitter tweet. But Obama personally congratulated Putin, during a phone call about a war?”
Wait, it gets worse. Some of Foggy Bottom’s tweeters are deadly earnest, making them totally defenseless against post-Soviet sarcasm. On March 26 Jen Psaki, State’s top spokesman, tweeted this: “To echo @BarackObama today-proud to stand #UnitedForUkraine World should stand together with one voice.” In an accompanying photo, a smiling Psaki gave a left-handed thumbs-up while holding up in her right hand a sign with the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag and her Twitter handle, @statedeptspox.
Yesterday, National Review Online’s Patrick Brennan reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account started including the hashtag in its tweets on the subject. Example: “[Foreign Minister Sergey] #Lavrov: Our US counterparts must compel the acting officials in Kiev to bear responsibility for the current situation #UnitedForUkraine.”
Barack Obama’s political operation frequently sees its Twitter hashtags “hijacked” by conservative antagonists. Remember #WHYouth? But in domestic politics, mutually assured derision is just good clean fun. Partisan politics thrives on antagonism. If the purpose of the domestic hashtags is to motivate Democratic base voters, conservative mockery is a help rather than a hindrance.
At Foggy Bottom, however, they seem utterly clueless as to what the Russians are up to. Brennan notes that Macon Phillips, who runs the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, tweeted in response: “Welcome to the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag @mfa_russia! 2 steps to join in: First watch an intro video [titled 'Sanctions: How Did We Get Here?'], then RT!” Continue reading
Well that didn’t take long. Fearless leader and this thugs are making certain that Crimea is Catholic free.
Members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church are fleeing Crimea to escape threats of arrest and property seizures, a priest told Catholic News Service just four days after Russia finalized the region’s annexation.
“The situation remains very serious, and we don’t know what will happen — the new government here is portraying us all as nationalists and extremists,” said Father Mykhailo Milchakovskyi, a parish rector and military chaplain from Kerch, Crimea.
He said officials from Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, had called him in for questioning about his community and to ask whether he “recognized the new order.”
Father Milchakovskyi told CNS that he and his family and at least two-thirds of his parishioners had left Kerch for Ukrainian-controlled territory on the advice of Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.
“All my parishioners are patriotic Ukrainians who love their Crimean homeland. But Russia is now seeking to drive us out,” he said March 25.
He said Father Mykola Kvych, pastor of the Dormition of the Mother of God Parish in Sevastopol, Crimea, also fled after being detained and beaten by Russian forces, who accused him of “sponsoring extremism and mass unrest.”
“During 10 years in Sevastopol, he never said or did anything against Russians,” Father Milchakovskyi added. Continue reading
After winning two CPAC polls and a spat with Ted Cruz in recent days, it is arguable that Rand Paul is the current GOP front-runner for the 2016 presidential election. Of course it is absurdly early to really make the call, but many of us have been expecting this trajectory since Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010. Some of us, myself included, have welcomed it.
On the non-negotiable issues for Catholics who even bother to vote in accordance with the natural moral law, Rand Paul is solid. He is 100% pro-life, supports the 10th amendment right of states to determine their own marriage laws, and has declared school choice “the civil rights issue of our day.” (Remember, the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit is a non-negotiable.)
On economics, he has proposed the establishment of free-enterprise zones for cities such as Detroit that have been devastated by decades of bureaucratic mismanagement, union thuggery and bloated government. The “social justice” crowd will never accept human freedom as a means by which the common good can be served, but the rest of us are under no obligation to ignore empirical reality. It is the creation of wealth that lifts masses of people out of poverty, and it is the unleashing of creative human potential from the pretensions of would-be social engineers and demagogues that allows the most wealth to be created and shared.
My only problem with Rand Paul is foreign policy. I imagine that some of my respected co-bloggers also have this problem, though for a much different reason than myself; they may see him as too much like his father, while I am disappointed that he is not overtly enough like him. Yes, I am a Ron Paul non-interventionist (I can’t stop you from calling me an “isolationist” in spite of my preference for free trade, the free flow of information and cultural exchange, but you should know that I’ll think you a moron if you do).
I was proud of Paul, and for the first time, much of the GOP, when it rejected Obama’s ambition to attack the Syrian government and send aid to Al-Qaeda (to switch our enemy from Eastasia to Eurasia). Since the Ukrainan crisis, Paul has been doing his best to straddle the fence and appease the interventionist hardliners as well as the loyal support base his father built up and which he needs to win his campaign for him. I am encouraged, however, that in spite of the obligatory denunciations of Putin that all US politicians must offer, Paul has spoken of the dire need to protect the world’s persecuted Christians. As Putin has also often spoken of this need, perhaps this could form the basis of peace and cooperation between our nations. Nothing in my view is more dangerous, tragic, stupid and unnecessary than the antagonism currently brewing between the West and Russia over Ukraine – a situation that was deliberately inflamed by Western support and encouragement for the Ukrainian opposition. Rand Paul will only have my support if he can prove himself to be above this irrational nonsense.
Well, Fearless Leader has won the referendum in Crimea with 95% of the vote, so back to
the USSR Russia Crimea goes. One can determine the trustworthiness of that vote by recalling that 36% of the population of Crimea is ethnic Ukranian or Crimean Tatar, neither group having much love for the Rodina.
If Putin were going to stop with Crimea that would not disturb me much. Sevastopol has always been the main naval base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. With 58% of the population of the Crimea being ethnic Russian, the Russians clearly made a major mistake in allowing it to become part of the Ukraine and Russia was never going to allow a hostile Ukraine to keep it.
The problem is that Putin is unlikely to stop there. In Obama he realizes he is confronting the weakest, and most feckless, President the United States has had since James Buchanan. He views this as an opportune time for him to recreate the old Soviet Union as much as he can. Next up is likely to be Eastern Ukraine. Continue reading
Lenin statues are being toppled all over the Ukraine. As Iowahawk tweeted, if you are wondering who the good guys are in the Ukraine popular uprising, they are the ones toppling the Lenin statutes.
Of course the question is whether Putin now will intervene to support his deposed puppet:
Putin put his money on Yanukovich. He awarded him a $15 billion loan (a third of which has already been transferred to the Ukrainian treasury) to prop the failing economy and allow him to pull back from signing an agreement with the European Union last year. He gave him diplomatic backing and directed the Russian media to describe the protestors in Kiev as “terrorists” and “Nazis.”
But the Ukraine president wasn’t enough of a Putin. He wasted time negotiating with the opposition and the EU’s foreign ministers; he failed in threatening the oligarchs not to abandon him. He lost control of army and police units, who refused orders to violently suppress the protests. Worst of all, he allowed them to run riot through the center of Kiev and take dozens of police hostage.
Putin wasn’t surprised. He had already prepared a fallback plan, and now is presenting Ukrainians with a stark choice: Accept their status of citizen-subjects of a vassal state, or see entire regions of their country break away. Continue reading
Because when you go three weeks between blogposts, things sort of build up in the queue.
Typically brilliant insight from Simcha Fisher about the sudden conservative and Christian appreciation for Mother Russia – you know, the authoritarian state run by the corrupt, narcissistic, kleptomaniac.
Fascinating documentary in Great Britain where welfare recipients are forced to live on 1949 allotments. If your primary concern is making sure those on welfare have every last need and want met, then the modern system is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re into old fashioned concepts such as human dignity, maybe things were better once upon a time.
Leave it to a mediocre pop artist to really get to the heart of the issue. John Legend has decreed that the newly passed voter ID law in North Carolina is the new Jim Crow. Because having to show a picture of yourself before voting is totally the same as segregated schools.
Republican Congressman would totally love to hold town hall meetings during the summer recess to discuss the immigration bill, but they like got that thing that they gotta do. You know. That thing. Right Vinny?
The usual cheerful article from Kevin Williamson. President Obama has essentially handed over the management of government to bureaucratic functionaries. If anything Williamson undersells the painful reality of life in Washington. Our government is in the hands of well-meaning, well-credentialed, but power-hungry managerial type so perfectly depicted in CS Lewis’s masterpiece, That Hideous Strength. Basically it’s the N.I.C.E. minus the scary head thing. What’s worse is that President Obama is using these agencies to bypass that pesky little thing known as Congress. As Williamson puts it:
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about.
And on a lighter note, a look back at a rather questionable hiring decision.
Mother Russia has done it again: this time, it pushed through a UN resolution affirming the link between traditional values and human rights. It did so against the protests of European and American delegations, who were primarily concerned about the implications that such an affirmation would have for gay rights.
The European and U.S. delegations repeatedly complained that “traditional values” is a vague concept used to justify violence and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) persons.
Homosexual activists are not happy:
Support for traditional values is deeply troublesome to LGBT groups, as the Gay Star News reports. They are worried it will be used to defend the natural family, and fear they will be unable to de-criminalize homosexuality worldwide.
I am thrilled to see that there is a relatively powerful nation on this planet that isn’t an Islamic theocracy willing to defend traditional values before the entire world. I am elated to see Russia brushing aside as the anti-social insanity that it is the complaints of LGTB activists and their UN proxies.
I haven’t heard much about the ongoing dispute between the Russian government and the Western media over the fate of the faux “punk rock band” ***** Riot in the American Catholic media. But this is a dispute in which I believe we ought to take sides as Catholics.
[No, I will not give the vulgar hate group the sociopathic pleasure of having yet another Christian publication use their name]
Three members of the vulgar hate group were arrested following their desecration of Moscow’s largest Orthodox cathedral. They have now been sentenced to two-year prison terms, with the six months spent at trial counting as time served.
My position on this incident is pretty clear. I stand 110% with the Russian government, the Orthodox Church, and the tens of millions of Russian Orthodox who have condemned the vulgar hate group – and I believe all Catholics in all countries ought to do likewise.
Not simply because this appears to me to be a deliberate ploy encouraged and promoted by anti-Russian elements in Europe and the United States; not simply because in all of the Western countries hypocritically condemning Russia these same actions could be and likely would be regarded as hate crimes according to their own established laws; not simply because the right to free speech does not, never has, and God willing, never will mean the right to invade any space one chooses and defecate on the floor; not simply because I respect the religious sensibilities of the Russian people; not even because I am fairly certain that being on the opposite side of whatever cause the degenerate celebritariat is championing is almost always the best and wisest choice – ???. Not just for those reasons.
The death toll is at 31 but a Quaker terrorist group is being speculated as the possible perpetrator to this horrendous act of violence in Moscow’s most busiest airport.
Terror analysts are surmising that it could very well be the work of the Quaker extremist group called “The Real Quaker Faith”. A minority of analysts are insisting it is the work of the “Reformed Amish Fellowship of Unsmiling Dutch”. But most agree it is Christian sect of believers that are being credited (sic) for these latest bombings in Russia.
The attacks look very similar to the acts of terror committed by the “Religious Society of Friendly Russia” terror group as well as the “Russian Friends Religious Society” terror group where recent suicide bombers set themselves off at Unitarian-Universalist Churches as well as Tony Robbins seminars.
President Obama has already issued a statement of not jumping to conclusions and is urging caution in rushing to judgment and laying blame.
The London Daily Telegraph is reporting that Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the Polish army chief, and most of the Polish political elite and their wives perished in a plane crash over Russia.
“It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces,” Mr. Sergei Antufiev reported of the Polish plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski how it crashed. “There were no survivors.” Polish state news agency PAP reported the same.
In the case of a president’s death, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Mr Komorowski’s assistant Jerzy Smolinski told Reuters.
Poland declared a week of national mourning as shocked citizens flocked to lay flowers and light candles outside the seat of government.
Notable Catholic blogger Damian Thompson, understanding the Polish people’s propensity for conspiracy theories, is speculating that many will begin blaming a cabal of Russian agencies for this tragic accident.
Let us keep those that have died and the grieving Polish people in our prayers.
For more breaking news of the tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski click here.
This is an fascinating story: a Russian soldier who was killed on his 19th birthday in 1996 is being venerated in his home country as a martyr and an icon of him is giving off aromas of myrrh:
Today according to Inferfax of Russia in Penza, an Icon of Evgeny Rodinov gave off aromas of myrrh in the St. Lukas Church at the Penza regional oncologic dispenser. Russian soldier Rodionov was executed in Chechnya in 1996 after refusing to renounce Orthodox faith and take off his cross.
“Myrrh came out in two spots, in a palm of his hand and where one wears the cross,” the church Rector Alexy Burtsev told journalists.
According to the Church Rector, it happened during the All-Night Vigil on February 15. Those in attendance, at the Church, stood behind praying, and took in the strange pleasant aroma.
The priest noted that on February 15, 1996, Penza-born Evgeny Rodionov was captured in Chechnya, imprisoned for hundred days and when he refused to renounce Christian faith, militants beheaded him.?
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov (Russian: ???????? ??????? ?????????????) (May 23, 1977 – May 23, 1996) was a Russian soldier who was kidnapped and later executed in Chechen captivity. The purported manner of his death has garnered him much admiration throughout Russia, and even prompted calls for his elevation to sainthood.
Rodionov was born in the village of Satino-Russkoye, near Podolsk, Moscow Oblast. Though he aspired to be a cook, he was conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 1995. Private Rodionov was deployed to Chechnya, he served in border troops and on February 13, 1996 he was captured by Chechen rebels. They held him captive for more than three months.
On his 19th birthday Rodionov was beheaded on the outskirts of the Chechen village Bamut. According to his killers, who later extorted money from his mother in exchange for knowledge of the location of his corpse, they beheaded him after he refused to renounce his Christian faith or remove the silver cross he wore around his neck.
Yevgeny Rodionov was posthumously awarded the Russian Order of Courage. There is a growing movement within the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize him as a Christian saint and martyr for faith. Some Russian soldiers, feeling themselves abandoned by their government, have taken to kneeling in prayer before his image. One such prayer reads:
Thy martyr, Yevgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from thee, our God, for having thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.
As of 2003, religious icons depicting Yevgeny were becoming increasingly popular. Yevgeny’s mother has one herself; she has suggested that the icon of her son sometimes emits a perfume which she believes to be holy, to the extent that it actually drips with it.
Evgeny Rodinov, pray for us!
Reprinted with permission by Eric Sammons of The Divine Life.
Something for the weekend. The Arise Ye Russian People sequence from the film Alexander Nevsky. A true work of genius by Sergei Eisenstein who somehow pulled off the feat of making a film about an Orthodox Saint, an aristocratic Prince and pillar of the Church, and ladling it with Communist and anti-religious propaganda, and yet having the final result not be laughably absurd. The film was among the first efforts of Stalin to rally traditional Russian patriotism against the looming threat of Nazi Germany. Poor Eisenstein found himself in the doghouse soon after the release of the film due to the Nazi-Soviet pact. After the onset of Operation Barbarossa, the film was once again released and played to packed houses throughout the war. The song was composed by Sergei Prokofiev. The lyrics roughly translated are :
Arise, ye Russian people,
to glorious battle, to a battle to the death:
arise, ye free people,
to defend our beloved country!
All honour to the warriors who live,
and eternal glory to those slain!
For our native home, our Russian land,
arise, ye Russian people!
Today is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II as Germany bombarded Westerplatte with canon fire. Eventually Germany made peace with their neighbors by recognizing the role they played in the devastation of Europe. Since then Europe has experienced only one conflict since the end of World War II.
But Russia remains another matter.
Russia continues to be belligerent in their interpretation of the war. Denying much culpability in their conflict with Poland and even insinuating of Polish-German designs on the Soviet Union.
In the days leading up to anniversary, Russian media has aired a string of accusations against Poland, claiming that Warsaw intended to collaborate with Hitler in an invasion of the Soviet Union, and that Jozef Beck, Poland’s foreign minister in 1939, was a German agent. Moscow broadcasters have also claimed that there was a “German hand” in the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish PoWs, an atrocity generally held to have been the exclusive work of Stalin’s secret police.
In fairness, the de facto ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin, did offer a conciliatory tone relating to Russia’s aggression towards Poland:
“Our duty is to remove the burden of distrust and prejudice left from the past in Polish-Russian relations,” wrote Mr Putin, who went on to describe the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as “immoral”, and also thanked Poland “from the bottom of my heart” for the 600,000 Poles who fought on the Eastern Front under Red Army command.
Depending on your temperament, you may be either amused or sobered by an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal about Igor Panarin, a Russian academic and former KGB analyst who has been predicting since 1998 that the US will collapse via economic implosion followed by civil war during the spring of 2010.