sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 28, 2014

Second Revolution Underway in Ukraine?

Or third, if we count the Orange Revolution of 2004.  The Orange Revolution peacefully reversed election theft by Russia-supported Viktor Yanukovich.  For a moment, Ukraine united behind democratically elected nationalist Viktor Yushchenko supported by the West.  Yushchenko eventually deflated, receiving a mere 5.5% of the vote in 2010 presidential election.  He was replaced by his former arch-nemesis Yanukovich (they’d since kissed and made up), now democratically elected.

In November 2014, demonstrators demanded the resignation of Yanukovich, who by now signed an agreement to enter Russia’s Customs Union, leaving the EU association.  Demonstrations, that had support of about 1/2 of the country quickly turned violent.  The violence was perpetrated by neo-Nazi groups Svoboda and Pravy Sektor.  One of the three chief leaders of Euromaidan, as the protest became known, was Oleg Tyagnybok (I’m going to spell his name with g‘s because I can and with an y because it sounds funny to a Russian speaker — inside knowledge, I know) of Svoboda.  Those protests were marked by chants of “Moskolej na nozhi” or “Stub moskals (derogatory for Russian) with knives” and wild hopping teens screaming “Kto ne skache, tot moskal” or “The one who doesn’t hop is a moskal”. Certainly, there was more to it.  Most Ukrainians, whatever their political leanings, were clearly fed up with poverty and corruption.  Many wanted to be a European country.  Most understood that neither the EU not NATO are in a position to include them.

Protesters waved the black and red flags of the Nazi-collaborating Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Ukrainian Insurgent Army alongside Ukrainian flags.  Nazis attacked riot police.  In other words, if Occupy or the Tea Party were doing it, they wouldn’t last a day.  Because we are not a failed state.  Yet.

Maidan leader from Svoboda party Oleg Tyagnybok

The protesters achieved their goal of overthrowing Yanukovich and installing their own “people’s trust” government.  Ukraine’s south-east, which voted for Yanukovich, is not exactly pleased with this turn of events.  Wasting no time, Putin chopped off majority ethnic Russia Crimea.  His previously waning popularity soared among the Russians; the nation was Crimea-crazy since the break up of the Soviet Union.  Now, the US, along with Britain and France found themselves in a curious bind.  Being the signatories to Budapest Memorandum, we promised to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for nuclear disarmament.  Needless to say, we have no appetite for going to war.  But why did we recognize the current government in the first place?  So far they’ve achieved two goals: Replacing one set of oligarchs with another and moving up the regularly scheduled election by a whopping 9 months.

Now, I’m happy Ukraine is disarmed because their current equivalent of secretary of defense is a Nazi, as are many other members of the provisional cabinet.  There are moderates in the cabinet, of course.  Among the Kerensky figures is the “people’s trust” PM Arseni Yatsenyuk who looks like a mix of a grass-hopper and a rabbit.  He proclaimed himself a “kamikaze” ready to make unpopular economic decisions.  That he did.  In the meantime, Putin annexed Crimea waiving the carrot of higher pensions and capital investment before the residents of the peninsula.

“Brilliant green” Yatsenyuk. The political leader was assaulted in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv in February. In the country where politicians are flamboyantly charismatic, this one was destined to be a kamikaze

The provisional Ukrainian government turned off Russian television and is readying prosecution of separatists from the south-east.  To behead pro-Russian opposition, “lustration” of political adversaries, Yanukovich’s Party of Regions is in the works.  Pravy Sektor, displeased with the slow speed of “lustration” and general lack of revolutionary progress, vowed a new, more radical revolution to accomplish the goals of Maidan.

In the meantime, former Chechen fighter and Pravy Sektor YouTube super-star “Sashko Bilyi” filmed on multiple occasions threatening and assaulting officials in the Western Ukrainian city of Rovno (Rivne), was shot and killed by local law enforcement, allegedly resisting arrest.  Rovno is the territory of Batkivshchina, the moderate nationalist party of Yatsenyuk and formerly jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Some call Tymoshenko the drama queen of Ukrainian politics

On the other hand, in the opening salvo of her Presidential campaign Tymoshenko released that audio of herself promising to “kill Russian-speaking Ukrainians with nuclear weapons”.  This didn’t deter Pravy Sektor, who, in the aftermath of Bilyi’s death immediately pledged to avenge him, from surrendering the Ukrainian Parliament, the Vekhovna Rada.  The radicals who strong-armed the revolution and now found themselves in positions of power don’t poll well, so it’s in their interest to start a civil war.

To add to this mess, Russian tanks are positioned on the Ukrainian border, and Russian TV aired national weather forecast that included Ukraine’s north-eastern regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk.  Protests across the south-east are ongoing, sometimes calling for federalization of the country, sometimes — for restoration of Yanukovich and/or the Soviet Union and /or the Russian Empire withing the 1917 borders.  Since Sacramento, CA, which boasts a sizable Russian and Ukrainian population, was not a part of the 1917 borders, the US might be off the hook.  But neither Poland nor Finland are.

Many observers anticipated that after the victory Kyiv nationalists will relocate their protest onto the enemy soil of south-east Ukraine, but that didn’t really happen.  Some Pravy Sektor revolutionaries did attempt to occupy government buildings in these areas, but they were kicked out.  A few shoot-outs notwithstanding, Maidan presence on the Party of Regions strongholds was limited.  Revolutionaries stayed home, parading through the streets of western Ukraine, and, being the only armed group there, harassing locals.

In a highly televised (in Russia) video, the citizens of the eastern Ukrainian industrial region of Donbas attempted to stop a Ukrainian tank.  (X-rated Russian language, real action starts at about 5:05):

Interesting times lie ahead for Ukraine.

March 4, 2014

Ukrainian Outtakes, Updated

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:45 am

This was filmed last Saturday in Kharkiv:

These men are storming the regional administration building occupied by Maidan activists who moved into this east Ukrainian city when former President Yanukovish fled it.  The building was previously surrendered by the Kharkiv politicians “to avoid bloodshed”.  The occupying activists, by the way, are mostly of the Pravyy Sektor neo-Nazi group.  While surrendering the government building, kharkovites erected a fence around the Lenin monument on Freedom square:

Found on social media under the heading “Our square! Our monument!” is this Lenin. Around him are Ukrainian, Russian and Soviet (?) flags as well as the orange and black military honor ribbon. On the fence are the pictures of the killed Bertkut policemen and various signs

Pravyy Sektor also took over the building of fight club Oplot; the club was involved in a fight against Maidan activists in Kyiv a few months earlier.  The video filmed after the squatters were forced out of Oplot shows damage done to the club, including swastikas and Ukrainian neo-Nazi symbols (sometimes over Soviet symbols) as well as a picture of Nazi collaborationist Stepan Bandera glued to the window.  And — oh yeah – -empty liquor bottles everywhere:

And the people storming these two building in Kharkiv?  They are the ones disenfranchised by the current Ukrainian regime which about half the country does not support.  Some wrapped themselves in Russian flags, screaming “Fascism will not pass” and had some choice words for “banderlogi” or the followers of Bandera.

Frankly, I’m surprised that so many conservatives are convinced that anything good will come out of this (or any other) revolution and poo-pooing the possibility of refugees flowing from east to west and back.  In the southern city of Nikolaev the local Russian speakers almost pushed the protesters from the west into the river.  Ukrainian nationalist from the south-east might flee into the west of the country or the EU.

Here is a graphic I found on social media:

It reads: “Live in Ukraine and hate Ukrainians? There is a solution: Suitcase, train station, Russia”

And here are the refugees from Odessa crying for help in Sevastopol:

A street scene in Russian-speaking Odessa: Pravyy Sektor marching through the city chanting “Moskolei na nozhi” or “Stab moskalis with knives”, moskali being a derogatory term for Russians:

We hear stories of Berkut men stuck in Kyiv hospitals where they are said to be denied medical care and which they can’t leave because they don’t have civilian clothes.  There are stories of people attacked by the mob in Kyiv.

In the western town of Rovno, Maidan leader Alexander Muzychko [aka Sashko Bilyy] of Pravyy Sektor gave his version of “out of my cold dead hands” speech in which he proclaimed his willingness to established a new order by the power of the gun — that’s in a country with a very low rate of gun ownership:

This commissar has little patience for Ukraine’s political elite, on the side of revolution or against it, and despises those who arrived at Maidan rallies in luxury cars.  Muzychko, who fought on the side of the Chechens in the Russo-Chechen wars, is expected to be indicted for threatening a local DA:

Then there is this beyond parody video of Maidan protesters hopping up and down under the Nazi black and red banners and chanting: “The one who isn’t jumping is a Moskal” and then breaking into “Glory to Ukraine — glory to heroes” holler:

A video by Graham Philips from a stand off in Odessa:

People chanting “We will not surrender Odessa”.  Plus, waiving a Stalin flag:

December 31, 2011

Saving Libertarianism from Ron Paul

I know there are people out there, decent people, who really, really want to like the Texan OB Gyn because he made a name for himself championing libertarian economic ideas.  They want to like him to the point of denying his racism.  But come on.

Steve Horwitz who was around when Paul devised his “paleolibertarian” strategy in the 80s, thinks that Paul was pandering to the Neo-Nazis (via Dan Mitchell).  You see, he didn’t want hippies in his movement, so he went for the white supremacist demographic.  Which makes total sense, of course.  I mean, Neo-Nazis are vastly more admirable, and the choice between the two is not a false dilemma.  Certainly in the 80s when greed was good and Ronald Reagan was the President the American mainstream was not primed for Libertarian ideas.  And in the 1980 the Libertarian Clark/Koch ticket didn’t get over 1% of the popular vote, best performance by Libertarians in a presidential race ever.

And in any case, if Paul didn’t like hippies then, he certainly likes them now, parsing #Occupy and pledging to unite them with the Tea Party.

Ron Paul Neo-Nazi

Your Congressional creep from TX with Stormfront founder and Stormfront founder's son

Longtime Paul adviser Eric Dondredo contends that Paul is not anti-Semitic, merely anti-Israel.  How do you figure?  Consider that Paul invents all sorts of imaginable unimaginable excuses for Iranian nukes and HAMAS.  And oh, he also claimed that Israel was behind the World Trade Center bombing.  For an alleged not anti-Semite, Paul acts and sounds an awful lot like one.

Still, Paul tells Haaretz that he feels “a bit surpris[ed] and disappoint[ed]” at being left out of Republican Jewish coalition Presidential debate.  The Congressman’s innocence is truly disarming.  Or not.

As is usually the case with the “anti-Israel” types, Paul is anti-American.  Take a look at his campaign commercial:

Yep.  Terrorists shooting at our men are freedom fighters.  US is the source of evil.  That this kind of rhetoric is coming from a Texas Republican should give every Berkeley professor pause.

In September 19 issue of National Review, Kevin D. Williamson, who writes terrific libertarianish essays on economics and politics, did a delightful expose of Ron Paul.  In it, Paul is quoted saying that there is no way a libertarian could possibly be a racist because libertarians just don’t have it in them.  Williamson commented that somebody put racist crap in Ron Paul’s newsletter, and it was a libertarian.

What’s “paleolibertairan” anyway, and how does he forge an alliance with the Nazis?  Libertarians are supposed to be live-and-let-live kind of people — small government, personal freedom and all.  Nazis took “live and let live” literally and turned it on its head.  They built a big government killing machine that successfully exterminated the Jewish population of Western and central Europe — along with Poles, Gypsies, Belorussians and others.  Ron Paul is supposed to be the principled candidate but his pandering to the neo-Nazis doesn’t sound too awfully principled to me.

Neither does his asking for earmarks and then voting against the bill that contains them.  The supposed principled libertarian got to bring the pork home and claim to be a principled libertarian on the national stage.  His supporters don’t like hearing about it.  Speaking of which, I fail to see how Paul’s personality cult positively reflects on libertarian movement.

Even if, as Horwitz suggests, Paul’s alliance with white supremacists was a matter of strategy, not conviction, Paul should recognize that he outlived his usefulness (granted, if libertarian ideas are currently popular, it is despite and not because of Ron Paul and his “paleolibertarian” strategy), step aside and allow a new generation of Libertarian Republicans (preferably not related to the Congressman by blood) rise to prominence.  A decent libertarian-leaning Republican candidate should be able to gather momentum, if only Paul wasn’t sucking all the air out of the room.

So far the MSM has largely given Ron Paul a pass.  A few weeks ago Rush Limbaugh explained that the Republican establishment wants a large group of non-Romneys to split the vote, so they left the OB alone (just realized, Barack Obama is BO, and Ron Paul is an OB, which is kind of amusing, admit it).  Democrats for their part would love Ron Paul to prevail because he’s the only Republican in the race who can’t defeat Obama.  The media that went berserk on the occasion of Sarah Palin’s target signs and turned stones on Rick Perry’s property is, curiously enough, not too terribly interested in Ron Paul’s racism.  At least not yet.  They know they have him by the balls, so they can ignore him for the time being.

I don’t believe the creep will get the nomination, but if he does well in Iowa, he will generate enough attention to damage the Republican party and libertarian ideas that he’s supposed to champion.  We will be associated with his racism and put on the defensive on the subject of race:

“What do you mean the Tea Party is not racist?  Isn’t Ron Paul a Tea party darling?”

“Libertarian economics?  But you are Jewish!”

I can hear it in my ears.

Take heart, though, the Republican and Libertarian blogs and magazines that are doing the vetting of Ron Paul.  The push back is a grass roots phenomena.

Happy New Year and cheers!

The Silver is the New Black Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

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