Thursday, April 17, 2014

Last Call For A One-Sided Battle

So Tuesday's "Anti-terrorist" operation in Eastern Ukraine didn't exactly go so well, and as a result, the Russian predictions of civil war and a breakup of the country seem pretty damn prescient, rather than propaganda.

Ukraine’s “anti-terrorist operation” against anti-government rebels has proved a spectacular debacle. Soldiers refused to move in on rebel-held positions. The rebels captured six APCs, drove the soldiers into Slovyansk flying the Russian flag, and sent them back on dingy buses, dejected, disarmed, and defeated. Self-appointed “self-defense” commanders who couldn’t even agree on which one of them was in charge disarmed and defeated Ukraine’s army.

On the eve of talks in Geneva between Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., and the European Union on the country’s crisis, Kiev seems to have proven many of the points the Kremlin and its propaganda machine have rammed home for weeks. Eastern Ukraine is in chaos, and Kiev’s central government has no power over large parts of it. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov acts deaf to protesters’ demands, and frightens them with force. Moscow’s calls for a federalized Ukraine with special status for the Russian-speaking southeast, which Kiev and its Western backers decried as tantamount to breakup only weeks ago, now seem inevitable.

Kiev's government has no power outside Kiev itself, and that was proven this week.

Asked what they wanted, nearly all the protesters made identical demands mirroring those voiced on Russian television for weeks about a federalized Ukraine. That, many commentators say, suggests Moscow’s goal may be to destabilize Kiev’s government, which it says is illegitimate, and disrupt presidential elections set for May 25 to help bring a more favorable candidate to power. In any event, the protesters appeared to have succeeded in bypassing Kiev’s ban on Russian state television, which it shut off last month. Many of them would not talk to BuzzFeed without assurances this reporter was not secretly working for oligarch and presidential favorite Petro Poroshenko’s Channel 5, which is seen as having supported protests in Kiev against Yanukovych last winter.

Even some of the soldiers seemed affronted by Kiev’s mixed messages and failure to address the concerns of eastern provinces. “Some people say one thing, others another – it just leads to clashing heads with locals. I don’t know whom to believe anymore,” Dima, 27, a reservist, said. “The only thing we are scared of is armed conflict with the locals. We are not scared of the Russian army,” he added.

So given a choice between Russia and Kiev, a lot of folks in eastern Ukraine are choosing Russia.  There's next to nothing that the West can do, so we'll see how all this shakes out.  But the practical upshot is Ukraine will not be the same country anymore.

Tuesday I was worried about a shooting war.  Now it seems that the government of Kiev is so incompetent and hated that nobody wants to take a bullet for them.

Oh Susana, Now Don't You Cry For Thee

Andy Kroll at Mother Jones posts an article revealing that New Mexico GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is petty, vindictive, ignorant, and thin-skinned to almost Palinesque levels.  (I know, shocking, right?)

Despite numerous requests, the governor and her aides declined to comment for this piece. But previously unreleased audio recordings, text messages, and emails obtained by Mother Jones reveal a side of Martinez the public has rarely, if ever, seen. In private, Martinez can be nasty, juvenile, and vindictive. She appears ignorant about basic policy issues and has surrounded herself with a clique of advisers who are prone to a foxhole mentality.

Martinez doesn't look like any of the governors who came before her, and members of her inner circle sometimes feel that she has been subject to unfair attacks. Jay McCleskey, her closest aide, once sent a text message complaining about an opponent's negative mailing: "They're trying to keep the brown girl down!!!"

Still, interviews with former Martinez aides, state lawmakers, Democratic and Republican officials, fundraisers, and donors show a governor whose prosecutorial style and vindictiveness have estranged her from leaders in her own party and from the Democratic lawmakers she must work with to get anything done. Martinez and her staff, they say, have isolated themselves in her fourth-floor office inside the modest state capitol known as the Roundhouse. As one major Republican donor in New Mexico puts it, "They've got this Sherman's march to the sea mentality, burning everything in sight until they get to the finish."

Martinez's office wastes no time proving the core of the piece to be true.

Hours after it was published, Martinez circulated a fundraising email decrying the "D.C. Liberal media."

"We’ve come a long way since the days of Bill Richardson, but now liberals in Washington want to undo the progress we’ve made," Martinez said in the email. "In the absolute height of desperation, one of the most radically liberal publications in the country is now peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago.

"Their 'smoking gun'? I referred to Diane Denish using the B-word four years ago in a private conversation with close advisers," she continued. "I admit it — I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life."

Can't make this stuff up, folks.  How dare the liberal media use my exact words verbatim!  Meanwhile...

Martinez's crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez's DA office who had access to law enforcement databases. In one instance, a campaign aide took a photo of a license plate on a car with an anti-Martinez bumper sticker and emailed it to the investigator. "Cool I will see who it belongs to!!" the investigator replied.

Nope, not vindictive, petty, or thin-skinned at all.

Back To Barack Bashing

And Sen. Mary Landrieu has learned precisely nothing from the awesome collapse of Blanche Lincoln four years ago as she rolls out a new ad attacking President Obama on oil and gas drilling.

A new ad by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) features TV clips of her going after the Obama administration's oil and gas policies, spliced with footage of Louisianans who appear to be energy workers in the state. The ad is running statewide with a buy of $250,000 this week, a Landrieu campaign source told TPM.

"The administration's policies are simply wrong when it comes to oil and gas production in this nation," she says in one clip. In another, she says there are 300,000 oil and gas workers in Louisiana, and "you can't just beat up on them." Landrieu chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

So when Republican Bill Cassidy wins by 15 points in November, recall what Mary was doing to her fellow Democrats.   Because the energy industry has been so good for the Louisiana coast.


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