Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. It is a warm Florida winter day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 77˚F (25˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 80% and the wind blowing from the east southeast at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 89˚F (32˚C). Tonight, skies will be mostly clear. The low will be 65˚F (18˚C).
The Republican Party has lost its collective marbles.
That’s the only explanation that I have for the party’s apparent pro-Russia, anti-democracy attitude that has come from both Republican politicians and right-wing media pundits on propaganda outlets – we can’t consider them genuine news channels, because they’re not – such as Fox, OAN, and any website that uses the word “Patriot” in its masthead.
Earlier this morning I woke up, booted up my Lenovo PC, and checked my social media accounts not just to see what my friends and family were up to, but to catch up on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has escalated into a slow-motion invasion of eastern Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The first tweet that I saw – literally the first tweet – I saw on my Home page on Twitter was this not so bon mot from Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Sen. Marsha Blackburn @MarshaBlackburn
Biden is letting Vladimir Putin call the shots.
3:09 PM · Feb 22, 2022·Twitter for iPhone
I don’t “follow” Marsha Blackburn’s account on Twitter; I am not a political reporter, so I don’t feel obliged to subscribe to political figures’ Twitter accounts, especially if those political figures are Republican and support former President Donald Trump and/or his policies. But maybe because I’ve replied to several of her dishonest and often childish tweets, Twitter sees fit to let me see some of her missives.
Blackburn is, in case you didn’t know, a wealthy businesswoman who entered Tennessee politics in the Eighties at the local level, got herself elected to the state senate in 1998, where she served until 2003. After that, she won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2002 midterm elections, and held it until the 2018 midterms, which is when she ran for her current position as Tennessee’s senior Senator.
A member of the Tea Party and a Trump loyalist – she served as vice-chair of his transition team after the 2016 election and cheerfully supported most of his policies and political grandstanding (the only reason she voted to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory was that it would have looked bad after the Trump-inspired Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, if she had not done so) – Blackburn is a virtual doppelganger for Trump on Twitter.
Here are some of Blackburn’s “burns” about President Joe Biden and how he is handling the Russia-Ukraine Crisis:
Sen. Marsha Blackburn @MarshaBlackburn · Feb 20
Take note: the Biden administration refuses to take action against Russia until they murder innocent Ukrainians.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn @MarshaBlackburn
Joe Biden waited until Putin took action before sanctioning his comrades in the Kremlin.
Why did he wait, and who is he helping?
7:46 PM · Feb 21, 2022·Twitter for iPhone
And so on, and so on, and so on.
At one point in her stream of strident tweets, Blackburn criticized Biden for not moving to block Russia’s Nordstrom II gas pipeline to Germany, even as the Biden Administration and Germany were moving forward to do just that.
Now, understand. When Marsha Blackburn – or rather, her social media team – tweets some idiotic nonsense that attacks the current President and his team, she is not addressing either the press or the average, non-partisan American who might, just might, be neutral and objective when it comes to politics.
Nope. Blackburn is aiming her propaganda tweets at her supporters, at her base, and at conservative propaganda sites that want – nay, need – juicy sound bites or Trumpian tweets to pound away at Biden and the Democratic Party. She is, more often than not, lying, and lying big. And she knows it, too, because as a member of the U.S. Senate, she knows every move that the government makes, why certain moves are made without fanfare, and that in cases of aggression like Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, sometimes American intervention – especially military intervention – is neither possible nor feasible.
Ukraine is not a member of either the European Union or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Since the revolt that kicked Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych out of Kyiv in 2013, Ukraine has expressed interest in joining both the EU and NATO, but Putin and the Kremlin adamantly oppose these moves. Putin, who was a senior KGB officer in the former Soviet Union, is not a communist, but he does believe in Russian nationalism and a 21st Century brand of Russian imperialism. As such, he firmly believes that NATO’s inclusion of former Soviet republics and satellite states is an existential threat.
Furthermore, like many Russian hardline nationalists, Putin considers Ukraine to be part of what Moscow refers to as the “near abroad,” as well as the wellspring of Russian civilization itself. And since Putin does not believe that NATO is a defensive alliance, he is opposed to Ukraine asserting itself and joining an alliance that will, theoretically, allow American forces to operate freely on the western border of the Rodina.
Since Ukraine is not a NATO member – it’s not even a candidate for NATO membership – and Article Five (the collective defense directive that basically means “An attack on one member state is an attack on every member state!”) does not come into play. I also am not aware of any mutual defense treaty between Washington and Kyiv. So even though the White House could privately want to put American boots on the ground in Ukraine to deter further Russian aggression, President Biden cannot easily order American forces to march into that country without those diplomatic legalities.
In any case, Blackburn’s arguments that Biden is weak are groundless and petty.
They are also hypocritical, especially since many Republicans seem more intent in scoring political “gotcha” points against the President than aiming their ire at Putin and the kleptocrats in Moscow.
Look. The GOP leadership, starting with their “chosen one” Donald Trump and some of his close advisers (including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and his first national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn) all have political and/or financial connections to Putin and his friends. For a while, Manafort was a paid consultant to Viktor Yanukovych, Putin’s pal who is now living in Moscow, That’s why Trump replaced him with Kellyanne Conway during the 2016 election; it was seen as bad optics to have your campaign being run by someone with close ties to Moscow.
Apparently, in 2022 this is no longer the case, at least as far as the GOP is concerned. Tucker Carlson, Fox’s prime time darling, is unabashedly pro-Russian, pro-Putin, and thus doesn’t care if the Russian army invades Ukraine.
Last month, using rhetoric that echoes arguments spoken by “America First” isolationists between September 1, 1939 and December 7, 1941, the archconservative pundit asked on his Tucker Carlson Tonight show why was the U.S. siding with Ukraine against Russia.
The Fox News host Tucker Carlson again questioned why the US would side with Ukraine as Russia appears poised to invade the country.
“Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” Carlson asked on Monday night. “They’re both foreign countries that don’t care anything about the United States. Kind of strange.”
He said Ukraine was “strategically irrelevant to the United States. No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine. Nobody thinks a war like that would make America safer or stronger or more prosperous.”
Um, Tucker Carlson, you sound like you slept through the section on World War II and its causes when you took history classes in high school or at Trinity College.
It’s ironic. The Republicans – the same party that embraced McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the early Cold War years, the same party whose claims that Democratic Presidents were soft on Communism led Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson to make questionable decisions regarding interventions in Southeast Asia and Cuba during their administrations, whose most revered modern President, opposed Russian/Soviet expansionism – have become strange bedfellows with Russia and its authoritarian tsar-wannabe Putin.
Two words: Power. Money.
Since Reagan faded into the sunset after leaving the Presidency on January 20,1989, the Republican Party has not had anything to offer, philosophically speaking, to the American body politic. It has long been the Party of Big Business – this has been true since the Grant Administration – and as such it has always resisted progressive policies that help the not-so-wealthy. In the 1930s, for instance, Republicans were bitterly opposed to FDR’s New Deal, especially the Social Security Act of 1935. In the 1960s, Republicans also had issues with Medicare, Medicaid, and educational programs such as Head Start.
Now, the GOP – many of whose strongest supporters benefit from programs created by liberal political leaders – is fiercely opposed to anything that affects the wealth and benefits of its biggest donors.
And since the Party of Pu…I mean the Party of Rea….I mean the Party of Trump is only interested in holding on to power for its own benefactors, its leadership will ally itself with anyone who can assist in this endeavor.
So, if Putin’s interference in the 2016 election helped Donald Trump – and other Republicans – get into positions of leadership in Washington, clearly, it’s not in the GOP’s best interests to side against Russia in the current crisis in Ukraine. And if by making Joe Biden look weak and strategically inept, they can help Putin get what he wants without looking like Russian puppets, well, that’s what Blackburn and her pals in Congress are doing.