Breaking Now on RT: War is Peace, Slavery is Freedom.

This afternoon, while in the middle of a consultation with an economist with a major German energy company concerning financial strategies to facilitate replacement of Nord Stream 2 with shipments of liquefied natural gas, Gretchen sent an IM to my computer screen, reading, “There’s an unbathed creep out here in the reception room who stinks of vodka and won’t stop hitting on me. He says his name is Mudak Sukov he works for the RT Washington Bureau at 1325 G Street NW, he knows you, and he wants a consultation ASAP. Help!”
Excusing myself from our discussion momentarily, I typed back, “Yes, I know him. Give him a hundred dollars, tell him its a gift from me, provide him with directions to the Round Robin Bar and tell him to enjoy some drinks there and meet me at six o’clock at Mari Vanna – and make reservations for two under my name there right away.”
Five minutes later, Gretchen sent another IM: “Done. He’s gone. Where do you dig up bozos like that 8>( ???”
I guess she used an emoticon instead of an emoji because she figures I’d consider that more businesslike. But I have no doubt she was thinking of a row of peaches and eggplants punctuated by a pile of bitmapped excrement with eyes on it or something similar. Alas, Mudak has been chasing me around DC for years, ever since he paid off a local ISP admin for the private email traffic logs of various Washingtonians he had heard were well connected. I never agreed to be a source for anything, of course, but that has never deterred him, either. He’s as persistent as a case of Siberian clap. I’ve found the best way to deal with him is to buy him food and booze at a restaurant he can’t afford – like Mari Vanna, for instance – and then send him on his way. And that was my plan today.

“Zdravstvuyte, gospodin ital’yanskiy-amerikanskiy syn barmena!” He roared, turning heads everywhere in the restaurant as a wave of alcohol vapor and yesterday’s pelmeni washed over me. “Long time no see, as you say here!”
“Maybe not quite long enough,” I opined as I sat down at the table. “What do you want?”
“Same as always,” he whispered, leaning close and adopting a conspiratorial tone, “tips! What you got, Mister big-time Beltway insider?”
“Kak vsegda,” I replied, “nichego.”
“Nichego, nechego,” he griped, swigging from his Moscow Mule with affected dejection, “nichego kazhdyy raz, vsegda nichego s toboy!”
“Potomu chto v nem nikogda net nichego dlya menya,” I shot back. “And look at you. Here I am, buying you drinks and lunch, and for what? Nichego, that’s what.”
“So,” he pressed, “if that is so, my friend, why bother?”
“If you must know, I find you to be a perverse source of amusement,” I confessed. “The things you say, the things you do, your ridiculous ideas, your absurd world view – you’re the quintessential autocratic state mouthpiece; a hopeless drunk who thinks he’s a journalist. I relish our little get-togethers because afterward, I wake up in the middle of the night laughing about them.”
“You,” he told me with a slight smile, raising his drink in an ironic toast, “are a very cruel person. I like that.”
“I’m cruel?” I challenged. “Compared to who? Putin, for instance?”
“Are you… gentlemen… ready to order?” the waitress inquired as she walked up, regarding us both with haughty skepticism.
“The Platinum Osetra black caviar plate,” Sukov bellowed with anticipatory gusto, followed by, “two! One for me, and one for my friend, who is paying!” and a hideous cackling laugh. “See?” he snickered, “I can also laugh!”
“As far as the laughs go,” I assured him, “you’re worth every kopeck, moy malen’kiy pridurok.”
“And three shots each,” he continued, “pear-, black currant-, and raspberry-infused vodka!”
“Enjoy the caviar,” I suggested as the waitress departed, “there’s not likely to be much of it around here in the future.”
“But plenty of it still in Russia!” he taunted. “Where I will have it and you will not!”
“If you can get there,” I japed.
Sukov’s face went blank. “What do you mean, ‘if you can get there?’ Of course I can get there!”
“So you didn’t know that virtually all of the Russian Federation intercontinental commercial aircraft are under lease from Irish aircraft firms such as AerCap, which, due to the sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, will now have to recall 152 commercial airliners? Not to mention all the other Irish aircraft holding firms, with which, for international taxation reasons, the Russian Federation has, over the last twenty years, nearly completely converted the Russian fleet to leases? If you want to fly back to Russia, zhopa, you’d better hurry, because they only have until the end of March to take all their planes back.”
“Putin won’t let them take planes back,” he scoffed, beginning to drop his articles, as drunk Russians do when speaking English. “When Russian paratroopers with assault rifles come to airport and board airplanes, you show me how many Irish leprechauns will come and tell them they must go away and let planes fly back to EU, huh? What you think, huh?”
“I think, number one:” I responded, “If he does that, Putin will not get any replacement parts for those planes, ever, and you tell me how many must fall from the sky before nobody in Russia wants to get on one. And number two: meanwhile, none of those planes will be allowed to land anywhere outside of Russia besides China, Belarus and North Korea.”
“And Cuba!” Sukov objected. “I will simply fly to Canada, take flight from Canada to Cuba, then fly from Cuba to Russian Federation.”
“What makes you think the Canadians will let you do that?” I needled. “Are you planning to make up some story about going to Cuba for a fun-in-the-sun vacation?”
“Maybe,” he shrugged.
“Well,” I concluded, “don’t expect to leave Havana on any Aeroflot flights, and I hope you have a huge pile of money to pay Cubana de Aviación, because they’re going to be the only ones offering service from Cuba to Russia for a long, long time, and I wouldn’t be expecting any favors from them, even if the Canadians let you get to Havana in the first place. And that’s just the beginning. Putin severely miscalculated this time. Even the Swedes and the Swiss are on board with sanctions against Russia – that’s totally unprecedented. One by one, Russian central banks are being cut off from global financial markets. The ruble has gone straight down the toilet – it’s worth less than a penny and still sinking. The US Justice Department, democratic governments and Interpol are confiscating Russian oligarchs’ property everywhere in the world. All the big multi-national corporations are pulling out. Pretty soon, there will be no electronic funds transfers, no access to dollars, no new computer technologies to hack other countries systems with – think how disappointed the KGB, APT29 and the rest of them will be. And since you said you want a tip, believe me, this is only the tip of the iceberg – wait until the Russian oil boycott kicks in. You guys are going to be bartering beets and potatoes for fur hats and tin pots in the alleys out behind your mighty weapons factories. Plus, it’s a slam-dunk that Putin and his generals are going to get indicted for war crimes by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Not only that, but…”
“Okay,” he breathed with a theatrical sigh, “you tell me – what is with sanctions everybody put on Russia for going to Ukraine and throwing some fascists out of power, huh? You tell me that!”
“That is question is completely pathetic,” I observed, “although pretty good material for causing me to wake up laughing in the middle of the night.”
“Why?” he demanded. “What are you talking about, pathetic?”
“It’s pathetic,” I explained, “because it indicates that you, who are supposedly a journalist, actually believe the ridiculous state-authored fabrications you push on the Russian people.”
“Is not fabrication!” he barked, banging his fist on the table as the waitress arrived with the caviar and vodka. “Is true!”
“’And Pilate said unto Jesus,’” I quoted, “’what is truth?’”
“Hah!” Sukov exclaimed grabbing a shot of raspberry infused vodka from the waitress’ tray, downing it in one gulp “and Jesus said, ‘I am!’”
“So He did,” I confirmed. “And still, to this day, nobody knows exactly what He meant by that. But I’m pretty sure, He didn’t mean that the truth is whatever the most evil, unscrupulous, sadistic, lying, thieving, power-mad scumbag says it is, which is apparently your idea of it.”
“All right,” he grumbled, scooping caviar onto a blini as the waitress retreated again, this time in a bit of a huff, “now you explain to me, Mister know-it-all American smart guy, how come when Putin drops incendiary bombs on Georgians, when he drops vacuum bombs on Chechens, when he drops barrel bombs on Syrians, no big fuss, no big speeches in the UN, no NATO maneuvers and no sanctions, no talk about ICC in the Hague, but when Putin drops some bombs on Ukraine, everyone goes nuts, everyone makes huge fuss, big speeches in UN, NATO mobilized, everyone imposes huge sanctions, talks about war criminal trials. Come on, you tell me, as you Americans say, what’s up with that, huh?”
“Simple,” I explained, helping myself to my own blini and caviar, “the Ukrainians are white.”
“White?” His eyebrows shot up like a pair of katyusha rockets. “Is that all?”
“That’s it,” I confirmed. “Putin doing all those things to Arabs and such folks – that was one thing, but when Americans and Northern Europeans see him doing that to people who look and act like them, well, that’s another kettle of fish entirely.”
“So they are racists?” he asked.
“Of course,” I affirmed. “The signs are ubiquitous – when trains began fleeing the Russian invasion, not only would the Ukrainians refuse to permit African, Asian and Middle Eastern people on ahead of the white people, but worse, when those Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners finally did get on a train, and those trains finally got to Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, the authorities there took them into custody, making lame excuses about visa problems and the like. Not that they would admit it. Responses from officials in all those countries to questions about treatment of non-White refugees uniformly denied any kind of discrimination, and several made statements to the effect that ‘the Ukrainians are not the refugees we are used to,’ saying things like, ‘the Ukrainians are educated, sophisticated, modern people with cultures similar to our own,’ and so forth. They used every euphemism for ‘White people’ they could think of to avoid coming out and actually saying it, but yeah, obviously – it’s a big deal now because the Ukrainians are White Europeans. ”
“So… is hypocrisy,” he asserted, taking a bite of blini with caviar, munching, somewhat smugly, awaiting my reply.
“Yes,” I conceded, “but nothing compared to the hypocrisy the Russians are engaged in, claiming that a country with a democratically elected Jewish president is a fascist regime; much less then using a preposterous lie like that as a pretext for a brutal, murderous invasion rife with acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity.”
“Is not lie!” Sukov barked, bits of caviar flying from his lips across the table at me. “Is pravda!”
“Eto nepravda, eto zlaya propaganda khuzhe Stalinskoy,” came my blistering riposte.
Sukov’s face froze. A tear ran down his face and dropped from his chin into his caviar. “Stalin sent my grandfather to the gulag,” he sobbed. “He died there. My parents always talked about how the NKVD came and took him away in the night…”
“There, there,” I consoled, “it wasn’t your fault. But if you help Putin act like Stalin, that will be your fault. Now, have some more vodka and eat your caviar, okay?”
“Okay,” he sniffled, downing a currant infused shot. “Look,” he resumed after finishing another bite of blini and caviar, “you have to understand about Putin. Sure, may he is liar sometimes, maybe he is crook most of the time, maybe he is evil all the time, but since Soviet Union… collapse, fall apart, go away, whatever… since then, Russian people feel bad, feel small, feel unimportant, feel… insignificant. And Putin, he came and made Russians proud again. So they follow him, they believe him, they… obey him. Understand?”
“Sure,” I acknowledged. “It’s a common phenomenon in history. It even happened here, in the twenty-first century, in the United States, just like Putin in Russia.”
“It did?” Sukov inquired, wiping another tear from his cheek with his table napkin.
“Almost exactly the same,” I assured him. “Donald Trump cultivated a base of disaffected, disappointed, fearful people who felt ignored and abandoned by their society and made them feel good about themselves again, and now, they would follow him off a cliff – even more to the point, they would jump off that cliff while he watched if he told them to, just like the Russians would for Putin. And they nearly overturned a legitimate election, an act that would have put in motion a series of events leading to a dictatorship right here in America just like you have in Russia. That’s why Donald Trump called Putin a genius when Putin invaded Ukraine. They are kindred souls. Deep inside, they are evil dictators, just like, deep inside, the Americans and the Russians they duped are kindred souls, the misguided puppets of evil dictators. And of course, the twentieth century had plenty of examples mad men with dictatorial personalities leading hordes of disaffected, alienated, gratuitously angry followers before those two: Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Lenin and Stalin, of course, and Adolf…”
“Tom!” He interrupted. “I have confession to make… I… I can’t… I can’t go back… to Russia!”
“Why,” I wondered aloud, “won’t they let you?”
“No, no,” he shook his head, “that’s not it! I’m afraid to go back.”
“Really?” I said, nonplussed. “Afraid of what?”
“Afraid,” he explained, “that I will write something for newscast that Putin does not like, and I will go to jail for fifteen years. Is new law against ‘fake news.’ You have heard of it?”
“Absolutely,” I assured him. “It’s probably the only news item that’s all over the media both here and in Russia at the moment. For different reasons, of course.”
“Please, I know I was talking about going back to Russia, but was just bragging; I was bragging because I am so scared. Please, I want to stay here,” he implored, “where I don’t have to worry about going to jail for saying something Putin does not like. Can you help me… stay here?”
“Well… I can’t make any guarantees,” I warned. “If Trump isn’t put away in jail for a reasonably long time and he’s still around to run for president in 2024, we could end up with the same kind of problem, you know, and Trump proclaiming the death penalty for spreading what he thinks is ‘fake news’ wouldn’t surprise me much. But meanwhile, I could call in a few favors and arrange for you to stay in the United States – as a humanitarian gesture in support of worldwide press freedom.”
Sukov’s eyes lit up. “You could?”
“Yes,” I confirmed, “but what would you do for a living here?”
A long pause ensued as he chewed his blini and caviar contemplatively. “Actually, I hadn’t thought about that,” he admitted. “Is a problem, perhaps. All I know how to do is listen to blatant lies told by wicked, greedy psychopaths, convince myself I believe them, and then tell those lies to millions of naive, unsuspecting, mostly ignorant and generally unintelligent suckers.”
“Oh, in that case,” I exacted, “can you solemnly swear that if I set you up with a job here in America, you will stop pestering me for story leads?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” he answered, holding up his right hand, “on my mother’s grave, I promise!”
“Okay then,” I offered, “I’ll pull some strings and you can stay here in America and keep right on doing the same thing for living, with full protection of our Constitution’s First Amendment.”
“Really?” Sukov began bouncing up and down in his seat with excitement. “Where?”
“At Fox News,” I declared, hoisting a shot of pear-infused vodka. “Writing copy for Tucker Carlson! Now, let’s finish this caviar!”