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A thank you note for Vladimir Putin

by Charlie Barber | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | November 29th, 2017

“…there is a hunger all over America for a discussion about economic truths, for a counterattack on the ferocious assaults that are taking place against working families, and for a practical plan on how we can reverse the obscene politics that favor the rich over the middle class and the disadvantaged in our nation.” - Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), The Speech, 12/31/10

“I never forgot that it was Hillary (Clinton) in 2003 who told some of the party leaders to pay attention to a talented young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama.” - Donna Brazile, Hacks, 2017

“In 2016 our democracy was assaulted by a foreign adversary determined to mislead our people, enflame our divisions and throw an election to its preferred candidate. That attack succeeded because our immune system had been slowly eroded over years. Many Americans had lost faith in the institutions that previous generations relied on for objective information, including government, academia and the press, leaving them vulnerable to a sophisticated misinformation campaign.” - Hillary Rodham Clinton, What Happened, 2017

“I’ve worked for four decades in the trenches for the Democratic Party and its candidates. This election reminded me, however, that as much as I love my party, I love my country more. Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. The Russian hacking of 2016 showed us that without intense vigilance, our electoral process is deeply vulnerable to tampering. That should terrify every American. Let’s take the terror and turn it into action. We must ensure our democratic institutions are strong enough to withstand the cyber attacks of the future.” - Donna Brazile, Hacks

The other day I was staring out my back window in Mandan while composing a long list of things and people to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday: my family, friends, decent health, and, of course, for a historian of politics, plenty to write about.

One of the items on my list, I had to admit, was President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his morose band of hackers and manufacturers of fake news, who helped bring about the terribly real Presidency of a thoroughly fake human being, Donald Trump.

Thanks Vladimir! We Americans needed that! We needed to be reminded that our freedoms are not guaranteed, but must be jealously guarded by every generation.

U.S. citizens needed to be reminded that the rule of law is not just guaranteed by a written constitution, but must be fought for, albeit peacefully, at the polling places, by voters demanding their electoral franchise.

We needed to recall that, rather than just complain and demonstrate, those of us who are only afterthoughts of the rich and the smug, needed to run for political office and make our private concerns for health, jobs, safe streets and homes, and tolerance for diversity, the public business in our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Rather than wait for another Bobby Kennedy or Dwight Eisenhower, we had to become our own Bobbys or our own Ikes.

While contemplating this unintended gift to our democracy from its bitterest opponent, I saw my old friends, Putin and Rasputin, former KGB Siberian huskies, padding up my backyard hill, scaring the hell out of pheasants taking refuge from North Dakota hunters in my backyard.

High Plains Reader: Hello old friends! I was just composing a thank you note to your old boss for his unintended reinvigoration of American democracy. Until Election Day, November 7, 2017, I wasn’t really sure that grassroots resentment of the malevolently rich and powerful would translate into a new generation of men, and, especially, women, who would step up in the Democratic Party and give voters, conservative as well as liberal, a real choice against the institutionalized venality and irresponsibility that has become the Republican Party in the past decade.

Putin: Really?

HPR: Yes, really. Perhaps you could help me get this thank you note to Moscow.

Rasputin: You’re wasting your time. President Putin is subtle in the ways of seducing the weak of mind and will, but he has no sense of irony. He doesn’t understand how the free spirit of the West translates into real political strength. But he does fear it; as much in the Ukraine as in the U.S. He will not be amused by your message.

HPR: Nevertheless, I would like to contact him this way, and thank him for giving us The Donald. Trump’s dictatorial threats to our democratic processes are so much more obvious than the insidious, far more effective sabotage of Congress by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rasputin: That’s easy enough. Just mention President Putin’s name in an Email to a friend and one of Russia’s paid hackers or useful idiots in the Tea Party or White Nationalists will send your Email on to Wikileaks.

HPR: Uff da! You’re right. I’m sure that Vladimir already knows that I think of him as a Stalin wannabe. I’ll bet he’s really pissed since finding out that it’s Congress that decides the fate of the Magnitsky Act, not President Trump.

Putin: No kidding. Right now he’s trying to figure out whether Trump duped him into thinking that his Presidential powers alone could remove sanctions against Russia, or whether (Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson is right and Trump is such a f*cking moron that he didn’t really know how separation of powers actually works in the U.S., when Congress has enough guts to use them.

Rasputin: And Vladimir certainly underestimates how many wealthy and super wealthy Americans really do care about the rule of law and democratic procedures, and are willing to put their financial resources behind those beliefs. Capitalists with a conscience are an oxymoron in the vocabulary of old Leninists and new “gangsta governors” alike in today’s Russia.

HPR: How do you guys know all this about President Putin? I thought you were refugees from the KGB.

Putin: We are, but we haven’t lost our skills. Vladimir Putin trained us to “dog” Pussy Riot when we were in Russia, but now that they are on tour in the West, we just use our skills for them instead. Hacking is an equal opportunity employer.

HPR: Well, good luck to the both of you. Time will tell whether the Russian-inspired wake-up call has been answered in time to save our rule of law and democratic traditions, but I’m figuring better late than never. Keep sniffing around, my friends, and I’ll keep up a good supply of “beef tenders” for your next visit!

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