Max Fisher Shows what he Knows about Russia

WaPo blogger Max Fisher

WaPo blogger Max Fisher

We feel this qualifies as the single most hilarious headline on an article about Russia that we’ve ever seen:  “Yes, Americans hate on Russia too much. This ‘Daily Show’ segment proves it.”

The headline appeared over a piece by The Washington Post‘s “foreign policy blogger” Max Fisher.

It’s so hilarious because (1) the “evidence” of the author’s conclusion comes exclusively from a frivolous TV comedy show and from leading Russia hater Julia Ioffe, who’s quoted in the body of the piece, and because  (2) Fisher himself had viciously bashed Russia just a couple of days earlier. Twice, One of his key quotes: “Maybe it’s not so surprising that Americans would be sour on Russia.”

There’s just something so amazingly sublime about an American who clearly knows absolutely nothing at all about Russia getting his information from a TV comedy and then purporting to illuminate “ignorant” Americans about the country after doing himself exactly what he’s now found it possible to criticize, and not noticing. It’s rolling-on-the-floor, good-times-for-all hilarious!

There’s so much ignorance in the author’s text it’s hard to know where to begin.

(1) Fisher finds it somehow laudable that the ‘Daily Show’ reported the fact that Russians don’t know about famous Russian villains in U.S. popular culture. He thinks this proves the U.S. is too hard on Russia. Exactly the opposite is true.  Russians have given Americans many, many valid reasons to fear and dislike them, from providing support to Hezbollah terrorists to aiding U.S.-hating regimes like Iran, Syria and Venezuela to choosing to hand unchecked power to proud America-hating KGB spy named Putin. Maybe if Russians knew how much they’ve antagonized the powerful USA, they’d change their ways.

(2) Fisher writes: “The popular American treatment of the Olympic games in Sochi drives home how unsympathetic Americans can be toward Russia, and makes this a perfect moment to call attention to that habit.”  Incredibly, Fisher doesn’t stop for a second to review Russian treatment of Americans. If he knew anything at all about Russian popular culture, he’d know it demonizes the USA and that Russian politics demonize it even more, going all the way back to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s demand that the USA surrender Alaska.

(3)  He writes: “When the opening ceremony featured a song by the celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, for example, many Americans seemed eager to point out that he was gay, as if those homophobic Russians would be unaware of this fact or must all support the country’s anti-gay laws.”  But Russians are unaware that Tchaikovsky was gay, because this fact like many others are suppressed in the Russian education system.  It’s totally outrageous that Fisher would claim they are not without even trying to document a source.  Russia is engaged in a furious crackdown on homosexuals because of its benighted ignorance about them, and Fisher is rationalizing this.

(4) He writes that foreign journalists didn’t criticize China’s human rights record as much as they are doing to Russia “even though the then-ongoing crackdown on Tibetan rights activists was arguably far more severe than anything happening in Russia today.”  Is Fisher really unaware of the savage litany of murders of Putin’s political opponents and critics?  Does he know that Russia has murdered more journalists (like him) than almost any other country, and far more than China ever dreamed of doing?  Is he really suggesting that Russia should get a free pass on human rights atrocities if China got one? Did he even try to look for coverage criticizing China during the games, which was in fact abundant? Does this “journalist” care about facts at all?

(5) He writes that there is “no countervailing narrative in the United States that maybe we’re too hard on the Russians.”  Here at last, he finally admits that this is “also a product of President Vladimir Putin’s own government, which after his disputed 2012 reelection and the ensuing protests has sought to whip up nationalistic sentiment.”  But is he really unaware of the vast array of Russia-funded media being pumped out on a daily basis? He’s never watched Russia Today? He’s never seen the Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement in the New York Times?  Has he ever heard of Professor Stephen F. Cohen, whose drumbeat of pro-Russia, anti-US screeds at The Nation magazine is endless?  Simply amazing stuff.

(6) Amazingly, Fisher openly admits that Russian officials are telling brazen anti-American lies to the Russian people about such issues as Afghanistan yet he does not directly criticize Russians as he does Americans nor does he call for any changes in Russian policy. He cannot point to anyone in Russia who is challenging these hostile anti-American attitudes towards the USA, yet he does call upon Americans to “question their views of Russia.”  Apparently, Fisher is one of those people who view Russians as helpless children incapable of taking any adult responsibility, and who therefore must be led towards it by Americans taking unilateral action.  Needless to say, that is the road to ruin.

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Dark Clouds on Russia’s Demographic Horizon

Back in April, Izvestia reported (Russian language link) that Russia’s average life expectancy figure had suddenly stopped rising, hitting the wall just before Russians reached an average life of 70 years.  Just the month before, the Washington Post had reported on how Russia continued to grapple with massive forces pressing down on life expectancy, such as smoking and drinking, which in the case of women not only shorten adult lives but lead to shockingly high infant mortality as well.

According to Kremlin data (never entirely trustworthy, to say the least), Russia’s life expectancy stopped falling in 2003 and rose every year until 2012, soaring from just below 65 in 2003 to nearly 70 in 2011.  Then it began to slip backwards.

Back in 2008, the United Nations predicted (see pages 30-31) a similar phenomenon for Russia’s similarly rising birth rate.   The UN pointed out that Russia’s rising birthrates was a temporary phenomenon due to a happenstance baby boom some years ago, which would peter out and disappear.

And now Izvestia is revealing that Russia is about to be hit with a terrifying double whammy to its population numbers.  Mortality will increase just as births are decreasing. Russia’s population, in other words, is headed back into free fall.

The CIA currently places Russia an abysmal #152 when compared to all nations of the world for life expectancy.  This cannot be surprising when you understand how dangerous it is to live in Russia, which leads most major nations in statistics ranging from road fatalities to spousal homicide.  Drinking and smoking are epidemic problems, as is AIDS. And on many issues, especially AIDS, the government prefers neo-Soviet denial and propaganda to forthright efforts to deal with the problems.

The Izvestia article acknowledges the UN finding that Russia’s birthrate spike is temporary, and it shows that Russia’s birth and mortality figures are virtually identical, meaning that significant population growth is not possible.  It admits that no more than 20% of the growth in birthrates could be due to Putin’s policies, with 80% being accounted for by an accidental baby boom that will soon peter out.

Even Russophile propagandist Mark Adomanis is worried, calling the life expectancy reversal “quite alarming” and a “harbinger of serious trouble.”  He doesn’t of course, acknowledge that he failed to see this coming after beating the drum defending Putin’s record on demographics for years and egregiously minimizing the UN data showing Putin had nothing to do with raising birthrates, which were entirely temporary. But the mere fact that even the likes of Adomanis acknowledges Russia is on the precipice of demographic implosion, even as it also faces economic stagnation at best, double-dip recession at worst, ought to send chills down the spine of any Russian citizen.

Zigfeld on the Neo-Soviet Collaborators

Over on the massive Pajamas Media megablog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld castigates an outrageous WaPo op-ed piece by former Bush administration official Paul Saunders, who urges that Americans just keep calm and submit to the will of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, Kim rips into another equally nasty little Putin collaborator, the doddering and apparently senile Larry King, who has just signed on to be a part of Putin’s propaganda machine known as Russia Today.

Obama as Enemy of American Values

On American Thinker, Kim Zigfeld pulverizes Barack Obama and his Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul for their craven support of   the Putin regime, which has helped Putin become president for life.  On a Washington Post blog, Jennifer Rubin points out that Obama’s government actually congratulated Putin on his “victory.” It’s a new low in American history.  And on Pajamas Media, Kim puts the hurt on the Western mass media for its repugnant misreporting on the opposition movement, exposed by the dominating return to power of Vladimir Putin. She explains that their desire to help Obama look good is part of the reason for their mis-reporting.

Obama’s response to Russian human rights atrocities in Syria, where it is helping to murder women and children by the hundred, and Russian human rights atrocities at home, where it has just conducted a rigged election and anointed a proud KGB spy as president for life, has been truly shocking and outrageous. Instead of condemning these Russian atrocities, Obama responded by rewarding Russia by promising to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was passed to punish the USSR for its own similar human rights atrocities.

America stands without moral leadership, helmed by a figure similar to Neville Chamberlain who will sell out American values to her enemies in the hopeless search for appeasement.