Whereof One Can Speak 🇺🇦 🇺🇦 🇺🇦

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They’re Not Communists, They’re Fascists

History professor Timothy Snyder says Putin and his associates are fascists (NY Times). No kidding:

Fascism was never defeated as an idea. . . . It was only on the battlefields of World War II that fascism was defeated. Now it’s back — and this time, the country fighting a fascist war of destruction is Russia. Should Russia win, fascists around the world will be comforted.

We err in limiting our fears of fascism to a certain image of Hitler and the Holocaust. Fascism was Italian in origin, popular in Romania — where fascists were Orthodox Christians who dreamed of cleansing violence — and had adherents throughout Europe (and America). In all its varieties, it was about the triumph of will over reason.

Because of that, it’s impossible to define satisfactorily. People disagree, often vehemently, over what constitutes fascism. But today’s Russia meets most of the criteria that scholars tend to apply. It has a cult around a single leader, Vladimir Putin. It has a cult of the dead, organized around World War II. It has a myth of a past golden age of imperial greatness, to be restored by a war of healing violence — the murderous war on Ukraine.

It’s not the first time Ukraine has been the object of fascist war. The conquest of the country was Hitler’s main war aim in 1941. Hitler thought that the Soviet Union, which then ruled Ukraine, was a Jewish state: He planned to replace Soviet rule with his own and claim Ukraine’s fertile agricultural soil. The Soviet Union would be starved, and Germany would become an empire. He imagined that this would be easy because the Soviet Union, to his mind, was an artificial creation and the Ukrainians a colonial people.

The similarities to Mr. Putin’s war are striking. The Kremlin defines Ukraine as an artificial state, whose Jewish president proves it cannot be real. After the elimination of a small elite, the thinking goes, the inchoate masses would happily accept Russian dominion. Today it is Russia that is denying Ukrainian food to the world, threatening famine in the global south.

Many hesitate to see today’s Russia as fascist because Stalin’s Soviet Union defined itself as antifascist. . . .  Its opposition to fascism, however, was inconsistent.

Before Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the Soviets treated fascists as just one more form of capitalist enemy. Communist parties in Europe were to treat all other parties as the enemy. This policy actually contributed to Hitler’s ascent: Though they outnumbered the Nazis, German communists and socialists could not cooperate. After that fiasco, Stalin adjusted his policy, demanding that European communist parties form coalitions to block fascists.

That didn’t last long. In 1939, the Soviet Union joined Nazi Germany as a de facto ally, and the two powers invaded Poland together. Nazi speeches were reprinted in the Soviet press and Nazi officers admired Soviet efficiency in mass deportations. But Russians today do not speak of this fact, since memory laws make it a crime to do so. World War II is an element of Mr. Putin’s historical myth of Russian innocence and lost greatness — Russia must enjoy a monopoly on victimhood and on victory. The basic fact that Stalin enabled World War II by allying with Hitler must be unsayable and unthinkable.

Stalin’s flexibility about fascism is the key to understanding Russia today. Under Stalin, fascism was first indifferent, then it was bad, then it was fine until — when Hitler betrayed Stalin and Germany invaded the Soviet Union — it was bad again. . . .Soviet anti-fascism, in other words, was a politics of us and them. . . . 

A time traveler from the 1930s would have no difficulty identifying the Putin regime as fascist. The symbol Z, the rallies, the propaganda, the war as a cleansing act of violence and the death pits around Ukrainian towns make it all very plain. The war against Ukraine is not only a return to the traditional fascist battleground, but also a return to traditional fascist language and practice. Other people are there to be colonized. Russia is innocent because of its ancient past. The existence of Ukraine is an international conspiracy. War is the answer.

Because Mr. Putin speaks of fascists as the enemy, we might find it hard to grasp that he could in fact be fascist. But in Russia’s war on Ukraine, “Nazi” just means “subhuman enemy”— someone Russians can kill. Hate speech directed at Ukrainians makes it easier to murder them, as we see in BuchaMariupol and every part of Ukraine that has been under Russian occupation. Mass graves are not some accident of war, but an expected consequence of a fascist war of destruction.

Fascists calling other people “fascists” is fascism taken to its illogical extreme as a cult of unreason. It is a final point where hate speech inverts reality and propaganda is pure insistence. It is the apogee of will over thought. Calling others fascists while being a fascist is the essential Putinist practice. . . .

We understand more about fascism than we did in the 1930s. We now know where it led. We should recognize fascism, because then we know what we are dealing with. But to recognize it is not to undo it. Fascism is not a debating position, but a cult of will that emanates fiction. It is about the mystique of a man who heals the world with violence, and it will be sustained by propaganda right to the end. It can be undone only by demonstrations of the leader’s weakness. The fascist leader has to be defeated, which means that those who oppose fascism have to do what is necessary to defeat him. Only then do the myths come crashing down.

As in the 1930s, democracy is in retreat around the world and fascists have moved to make war on their neighbors. If Russia wins in Ukraine, it won’t be just the destruction of a democracy by force, though that is bad enough. It will be a demoralization for democracies everywhere. Even before the war, Russia’s friends — Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Tucker Carlson — were the enemies of democracy. Fascist battlefield victories would confirm that might makes right, that reason is for the losers, that democracies must fail. . . .

Unquote.

Meanwhile, from The Guardian:

Hungary’s nationalist leader, Viktor Orbán, will be the star speaker at an extraordinary session of America’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to be held in Hungary this week, in an effort to cement bonds between the radical right on both sides of the Atlantic under the banner of the “great replacement” ideology.

In a speech on Monday, Orbán made explicit reference to the ideology, which claims there is a liberal plot to dilute the white populations of the US and European countries through immigration. Increasingly widespread among US Republicans, the creed was cited by the killer who opened fire on Saturday in a supermarket in a predominantly black area of Buffalo, New York.

Orbán is also in the news because he opposes Sweden and Finland joining NATO and has stopped the European Union from banning imports of Russian oil. Putin must enjoy having an ally in Hungary.

Russia Ain’t the Soviet Union Anymore

Two European academics who have studied Russia’s culture and politics explain why the war in Ukraine is much more than a response to NATO. They also explain why segments from the most extreme Fox News programs are replayed on Russian TV:

In recent weeks, many analysts — especially those trying to find a logical justification for the Russian war in Ukraine — have argued that the Kremlin was reacting to a perceived threat from NATO encroachment and the Western alliance’s push into Russia’s sphere of influence.

While that may be so, such explanations miss an important point. . . . 

Gay parades and cancel culture

In his sermon approximately two weeks into the war, on March 6, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church justified the invasion of Ukraine as necessary to defend Orthodox Christians against Western values and gay pride parades. On March 24, during a meeting with young artists, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about cancel culture, arguing that much the way J.K. Rowling was criticized for her opposition to transgender rights, the West was now “trying to cancel a whole 1,000-year culture, our people … Russian writers and books are now canceled.”

Russia presents itself as being at the forefront of the global culture wars, leading the resistance to liberal values. Russian anti-Westernism has religious implications: According to its own narrative, Russia is guarding true Christian faith, as embodied in the Eastern Orthodox church, from Western attempts to distort it, whether through Marxism in the 20th century or liberalism in the 21st.

Ukraine plays an important role in this story. It is depicted as part of the “Russian world,” the cradle of Russian civilization, which for many centuries was centered not around Moscow but around Kyiv, capital of today’s Ukraine. Ukraine’s choice to orient itself toward the West and reconcile a Slavic Orthodox identity with liberal democratic values is thus dangerous to this Russian vision of itself.

Global Christian Right

The arguments about gender freedoms and cancel culture that we hear today from Patriarch Kirill and Putin are nothing genuinely Russian. They derive from a global Christian right ideology, which Russian conservatives learned about in the 1990s.

Right after the end of the Cold War, Christian right activists, especially from the United States, flocked into Russia; among them were Focus on the FamilyCoMission and the World Congress of Families. From the 1990s onward, Russian conservatives have argued that the frustrations of their society falling apart result from painful liberal socioeconomic reforms. Their argument combines elements of a late-Soviet conservative social ethos, Russian Orthodox traditionalism and huge transnational influences.

Today’s Russian discourse on traditional values is a hybrid of Christian right ideas from the global culture wars and nostalgia about Russia’s great Soviet and even greater imperial and Orthodox Christian past.

The whimsical West

This type of Russian cultural conservatism was marginal until around 2010, when it started to migrate to the center of Russian political life — decisively so during Putin’s third term as president. For Putin, the traditional values discourse was a good pretext for political repression — exemplified in the treatment of the Pussy Riot women — and a shield against rising opposition, which demanded more freedoms.

Traditional values and the defense of Christianity were a suitable foundation for the new Russian foreign policy mission: becoming the leader of those countries and actors that were not, were no longer or had never wanted to be “liberal.”

In the process of “learning” the global culture wars, Russian conservatives not only defined their national identity in relation to a global Christian conservatism, but also acquired a precise vision of the West as spiritually hollow and failing. Christian conservatives flocking to Russia conveyed an image of the West that was torn, weak and doomed, because it no longer had children, no longer had values, and did not even distinguish between men and women. As a result, many Christian conservatives from the United States and Europe  looked to Russia with hope.

Christian conservatives’ image of a failing and doomed West began to dominate views of Russian conservative elites during the late 2000s. But Russian elites saw their Western conservative partners as part of that failing West: they too were weak and pitiful heralds of a West in decline.

Russian triumphalism

This account of the West helped give birth to a new Russian triumphalism. Russian media filled with TV shows and “documentaries” on “Gayropa” and “Sodom.” These shows conjured up a caricature of weak “gayish” Western males and women who lost their femininity by competing with men in spheres where they could achieve nothing serious.

Russian media frequently stressed the oddity that many Western democracies nominated women as defense ministers, as if that was the ultimate proof that the West has lost its ability to defend itself. In this collective image of a weak West, Russia depicted itself (to the inside and outside) as the country of strength, the bulwark of traditional families: with strong men, fertile women and children properly guarded against subversive homosexual propaganda.

Russian triumphalism

This image is without any empirical foundation, but that was not important. It resulted in an internal perception of Russia as world messiah and a force preventing the world from sliding into the chaos of evil, with a special mission of saving the world from liberal depravities. The Patriarch’s March 6 sermon expressed precisely that worldview.

Fascinated by this flattering vision of Russia, elites, it seems, overestimated Russia’s strength and underestimated Ukraine’s. The Kremlin also appears to have underestimated the strength and unity of the collective West, which appears not as corrupted and not as weak as Russia imagined. Pointedly, J. K. Rowling, whom Putin mentioned as a victim of Western cancel culture, refused his characterization and accused Putin of killing civilians instead.

Unquote.

Everybody should keep in mind that 21st century Russia isn’t the 20th century Soviet Union. There are no communists in power now. Putin is yet another neo-fascist authoritarian, the kind that rules over HungaryBrazilIndiaTurkey, the Philippines and elsewhere. That’s why our former president and other Republicans admire Putin and those like him. The days when being an anti-Communist meant being anti-Russia are long gone.

Where Putin’s Head Is At

A Russian journalist, Mikhail Zygar, offers this explanation of Putin’s behavior. From The New York Times:

I have been talking to high-level businessmen and Kremlin insiders for years. In 2016 I published a book, “All the Kremlin’s Men,” about Mr. Putin’s inner circle. Since then I’ve been gathering reporting for a potential sequel. While the goings on around the president are opaque — Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer, has always been secretive and conspiratorial — my sources, who speak to me on condition of anonymity, have regularly been correct.

What I have heard about the president’s behavior over the past two years is alarming. His seclusion and inaccessibility, his deep belief that Russian domination over Ukraine must be restored and his decision to surround himself with ideologues and sycophants have all helped to bring Europe to its most dangerous moment since World War II.

Mr. Putin spent the spring and summer of 2020 quarantining at his residence in Valdai, approximately halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to sources in the administration, he was accompanied there by Yuri Kovalchuk. Mr. Kovalchuk, who is the largest shareholder in Rossiya Bank and controls several state-approved media outlets, has been Mr. Putin’s close friend and trusted adviser since the 1990s. But by 2020, according to my sources, he had established himself as the de facto second man in Russia, the most influential among the president’s entourage.

Mr. Kovalchuk has a doctorate in physics. . . But he isn’t just a man of science. He is also an ideologue, subscribing to a worldview that combines Orthodox Christian mysticism, anti-American conspiracy theories and hedonism. This appears to be Mr. Putin’s worldview, too. Since the summer of 2020, Mr. Putin and Mr. Kovalchuk have been almost inseparable, and the two of them have been making plans together to restore Russia’s greatness.

According to people with knowledge of Mr. Putin’s conversations with his aides over the past two years, the president has completely lost interest in the present: the economy, social issues, the coronavirus pandemic, these all annoy him. Instead, he and Mr. Kovalchuk obsess over the past. A French diplomat told me that President Emmanuel Macron of France was astonished when Mr. Putin gave him a lengthy history lecture during one of their talks last month. He shouldn’t have been surprised.

In his mind, Mr. Putin finds himself in a unique historical situation in which he can finally recover for the previous years of humiliation. In the 1990s, when Mr. Putin and Mr. Kovalchuk first met, they were both struggling to find their footing after the fall of the Soviet Union, and so was the country. The West, they believe, took advantage of Russia’s weakness to push NATO as close as possible to the country’s borders. In Mr. Putin’s view, the situation today is the opposite: It is the West that’s weak. The only Western leader that Mr. Putin took seriously was Germany’s previous chancellor, Angela Merkel. Now she is gone and it’s time for Russia to avenge the humiliations of the 1990s.

It seems that there is no one around to tell him otherwise. Mr. Putin no longer meets with his buddies for drinks and barbecues, according to people who know him. In recent years — and especially since the start of the pandemic — he has cut off most contacts with advisers and friends. While he used to look like an emperor who enjoyed playing on the controversies of his subjects, listening to them denounce one another and pitting them against one another, he is now isolated and distant, even from most of his old entourage.

. . . No one can see the president without a week’s quarantine — not even Igor Sechin, once his personal secretary, now head of the state-owned oil company Rosneft. Mr. Sechin is said to quarantine for two or three weeks a month, all for the sake of occasional meetings with the president.

In “All the Kremlin’s Men” I described the phenomenon of the “collective Putin” — the way his entourage always tried to eagerly anticipate what the president would want. These cronies would tell Mr. Putin exactly what he wanted to hear. The “collective Putin” still exists: The whole world saw it on the eve of the invasion when he summoned top officials, one by one, and asked them their views on the coming war. All of them understood their task and submissively tried to describe the president’s thoughts in their own words . . .

As I have reported for years, some members of Mr. Putin’s entourage have long worked to convince him that he is the only person who can save Russia, that every other potential leader would only fail the country. This was the message that the president heard going back to 2003, when he contemplated stepping down, only to be told by his advisers — many of whom also had backgrounds in the K.G.B. — that he should stay on. A few years later, Mr. Putin and his entourage were discussing “Operation Successor” and Dmitri Medvedev was made president. But after four years, Mr. Putin returned to replace him. Now he has really and truly come to believe that only he can save Russia. In fact, he believes it so much that he thinks the people around him are likely to foil his plans. He can’t trust them either. . . .

The Pro-Russia, Anti-Ukraine Party

Some Republican lowlife actually said the unindicted co-conspirator who leads their cult was, unlike Biden, “tough on Russia”. (Shamelessness is their superpower). Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine reminds us of what happened on planet Earth:

On February 25, the day after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Lee Smith published an essay in Tablet arguing that Ukraine had brought on its problems. Smith, a house stenographer for Representative Devin Nunes and the author of two pro-T____ books, unburdened himself of a long list of Ukrainian provocations. In 2014, Ukraine’s people rejected Vladimir Putin’s generous offer to remain a Russian dependency and voted out his handpicked presidential candidate. A few years later, Ukrainian Americans accused Russia of hacking Democratic emails and extorting Volodymyr Zelenskyy — the guilt for which, in Smith and Putin’s view, was shared by the country their parents had fled. These defiant actions “reinforced Putin’s view that, especially in partnership with the Democrats, Ukraine did not understand its true place in the world as a buffer state.” The invasion was a terrible shame, conceded Smith, but this is what happens when a country has the temerity to offend Putin and T____ and assert its independence.

Putin’s war with Ukraine is being fought to settle a single question: Does his neighboring state have the right to make its own democratic decisions or must it subsist as a Russian vassal?

President Biden’s marshaling of a strong and united European response has thrown into sharp relief the contrast with his predecessor’s “America First” bluster. But there is an even more fundamental contrast between Biden’s multilateralism and T____’s nationalism, one that goes beyond diplomatic skill to core ideology: Many corners of the American right, including D____ T____, agree with Putin’s position.

Putin views a democratic Ukraine as an existential threat to his regime for two very good reasons. First, Ukraine’s majority prefers economic integration with Europe rather than Russia. Second, all strongmen are mainly preoccupied with maintaining power, and the existence of prosperous democracy in a neighboring country is a dangerous counterexample.

Twenty years ago, there was no significant reservoir of opposition to Ukrainian independence and democracy. The burgeoning alliance between Russian nationalists and America Firsters was set in motion when Paul Manafort went to work for the pro-Russian Party of Regions in Ukraine in 2004. Manafort, once one of the most powerful Republican lobbyists in Washington, had begun a globetrotting career selling his services to dictators. His Ukrainian client, Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions, was Putin’s main organ for maintaining control of his neighboring country.

Putin nurtured a cadre of pliant Ukrainian oligarchs and functionaries who served a devious double purpose. They would faithfully weaken Ukrainian democracy on his behalf, and then he could turn around to the outside world and hold up Ukraine’s corruption as a justification for why it should not be treated like a real country.

He paired this with a slowly escalating campaign of violence. Putin and his allies would violently intimidate their political opposition to prevent them from gaining control of Ukraine. In 2004, Putin’s agents poisoned Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-western presidential candidate. (This occurred four years before the United States invited Ukraine to join NATO, a sequence that shows Russia’s threats against Ukraine drove its interest in joining the alliance, rather than the reverse, as Putin and his defenders have suggested.) Ten years later, Manafort’s client unleashed snipers and thugs to drive away peaceful protesters before a democratic revolution forced him to flee the country. After Russophiles lost control of Ukraine’s government, Putin started using militias to seize chunks of territory.

At the tail end of the Obama administration, both Democrats and Republicans supported democratization, westernization, and reform in Ukraine. When the Obama administration pressured Ukraine to fire ineffective prosecutor Viktor Shokin — a key step forward for advancing the rule of law in Ukraine — a bipartisan letter commended its efforts and did not draw any significant domestic opposition.

T____’s rise introduced to the Republican Party a figure who shared Putin’s perspective toward Ukraine and often echoed his propaganda. When Putin ginned up demonstrations in eastern Ukraine as a pretext to hive off chunks of land in 2014, T____ gushed, “So smart, when you see the riots in a country because they’re hurting the Russians, Okay, we’ll go and take it over … You have to give him a lot of credit.” After winning the nomination, T____ promised to consider recognizing Putin’s land seizure because “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

T____ brought on Manafort to run his campaign, which further linked Ukraine’s conflict with Russia to the American domestic struggle. Ukrainians released a “black book” of evidence of secret payments by the previous, pro-Russian regime, which implicated Manafort in an embezzling scandal for which he was eventually convicted. After it hacked Democratic emails and released them to aid T____’s candidacy, Russia claimed it had been framed by Ukraine. T____ subsequently endorsed this theory. (“They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based,” he told the Associated Press a few months after taking office. “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.”)

T____, of course, was impeached the first time for pressuring Zelenskyy to smear Biden, and his motive was primarily to gain an advantage over his opponent. But he also had clearly absorbed Putin’s idea that Ukraine was corrupt and undeserving of sovereignty. T____ regularly flummoxed his staff by insisting Ukraine was “horrible, corrupt people” and “wasn’t a ‘real country,’ that it had always been a part of Russia, and that it was ‘totally corrupt,’” the Washington Post reported. (The element of Russian propaganda here is not the claim that corruption exists in Ukraine, which is true, but the premise that this somehow destroys its claim to sovereignty or justifies subjugation to its far more corrupt neighbor.)

By the end of T____’s presidency, the distinction between his agenda in Ukraine and the Russian agenda in Ukraine was difficult to discern. In the aftermath of T____’s first impeachment, Rudy Giuliani inherited Manafort’s role as a liaison to the pro-Russian elements in Ukraine’s polity. In his travels through the country, Giuliani linked up with Party of Regions apparatchiks as well as known Russian intelligence agents, ginning up business proposals and allegations to fling against Biden. T____’s agents, Russian agents, and pro-Russian Ukrainian apparatchiks were speaking in almost indistinguishable terms.

That view of the world is expressed cogently, if chillingly, in Smith’s essay depicting Ukraine as a tool of the joint enemies of Putin and T____. And it has bled widely into the conservative mind. In the run-up to the 2020 election, numerous right-wing pundits warned darkly that American liberals were fomenting a “color revolution” akin to the pro-democratic uprisings that had broken out against several of Putin’s vassal states. Both their narrative and their diction depicted pro-democracy activists as a sinister cabal and Putin their innocent victim.

By the outset of Russia’s invasion, pro-Putinist rhetoric was common. “Ukraine, to be technical, is not a democracy,” asserted Tucker Carlson. “And by the way, Ukraine is a pure client state of the United States State Department.” To be sure, this view remained a minority on the right — and just as many of T____’s most fervent supporters recoiled at the January 6 insurrection, even many Putin defenders conceded a full-scale invasion went too far. Still, Putin’s claims against Ukraine have received endorsements from both the right’s most popular politician and its most popular media personality. That is not nothing.

It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration’s combination of sanctions, diplomacy, and military aid will be enough to save Ukraine from the predations of its neighboring dictator. The military odds remain favorable to Russia. But as Putin’s militarized irredentism grows larger on the world stage, an increasingly relevant consideration in American politics is the fact that only one American party truly disagrees with it.

Exxon, Chevron, Shell – They’re Not America’s Friends. Neither Are Republican Politicians.

Biden isn’t to blame for rising oil prices. Or gas prices: “Energy analysts say other factors — which predate the Biden administration — are responsible”. Charles Pierce of Esquire uses colorful language to say we should look elsewhere:

Since it seems that the elite political media is going to define everything except the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament through the price of gasoline—CNN should open a bureau at that one gas station that is clearly overcharging people . . .

When did the consensus among us common folk break down that the oil companies are a miserable flock of price-gouging harpies interested only in lining their own pockets, despoiling land and sea and contributing to the planet’s self-immolation? I mean, Deepwater Horizon wasn’t that long ago. . . .

So now, as Ukraine fights to remain an independent nation, and as the economic recovery from a worldwide pandemic rolls on largely unacknowledged by much of the elite political press, the oil company executives, who currently hold a plethora of oil leases, are shoveling the money they’re gouging out of the rest of us to their shareholders rather than plowing it into developing the leases they already own. From the New York Times:

In his broad Oklahoma twang and in language that will be heard repeatedly in the next few months, [former Democratic senator Fred Harris] . . .  said that Congress should “break up” the major oil companies, which he contends illegally control both production and marketing of petroleum products.

Where have you gone, Fred Harris? Your party turns its lonely eyes to you.

Unquote.

Some facts from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post:

A cynic is rarely disappointed by this Republican Party. Yet even by that standard, the current attempt to blame President Biden — and absolve Vladimir Putin — for the spike in gas prices is a special case. . . .

It’s not only that the charge is bogus — the current price of gas has virtually nothing to do with Biden’s energy policies — but that the Republican officials leveling it are sowing division at home and giving a rhetorical boost to the enemy at a perilous moment when national unity and sacrifice will be needed to prevail against Russia.

Announcing the ban on Tuesday, Biden said, accurately: “Since Putin began his military buildup on Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of the gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents. And with this action, it’s going to go up further.” He dubbed it “Putin’s price hike” and said “Russia is responsible.”

Republicans leaped to Putin’s defense.

“These aren’t Putin prices. They’re President Biden’s prices,” House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday. Via tweet, he claimed: “Gas prices started rising the day President Biden took office — when he canceled the Keystone Pipeline and halted new drilling on federal lands.”  

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), head of the House Republican Conference, added: “Joe Biden blames Russia for skyrocketing gas prices. But make no mistake — Biden’s war on American energy is to blame.”

Scores of Republicans piled on. The GOP side of the House Energy and Commerce Committee tweeted: “Russia isn’t ‘responsible’. Biden’s shutdown of American energy is.”

That’s just a gusher of mendacity.

Gas prices “started rising the day President Biden took office”? Wrong. They’ve been on an upward trend since bottoming out in April 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This is because of booming demand during the recovery — not because of Biden’s policies . . .

Canceling the Keystone XL pipeline caused gas prices to rise? Wrong. It was only 10 percent done when Biden canceled it, and its owners didn’t expect to open it until 2023 at the earliest.

Biden “halted new drilling on federal lands”? Wrong. After a temporary halt in new leases, Biden has outpaced Trump in new drilling permits for public lands, The Post reported.

As for Biden’s “shutdown of American energy,” U.S. production has increased under Biden from 9.7 million barrels a day to 11.6 million barrels. The number of oil rigs operating was at 172 in July 2020, E&E News reports. Now, 519 are in operation. U.S. production is forecast to set a record next year.

What’s holding back oil production isn’t government policy. U.S. producers still have 4,400 wells already approved and drilled that are not yet producing. They aren’t drilling more because of a shortage of workers and equipment and, particularly, [Big Oil]. As The Post reported, major U.S. oil companies say they would rather use their profits “to boost payouts to shareholders” than “rush to drill new wells.”

Blaming Biden for the spike in prices around Russia’s Ukraine invasion isn’t just false — it’s an assist to Putin . . .

[That’s not surprising]. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, after parroting Kremlin talking points justifying its invasion of Ukraine, has pivoted to blaming the United States for provoking Putin. “Why in the world would the United States intentionally seek war with Russia?” he asked on Monday night.

T____ himself has praised Putin’s acuity, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has called for the United States to appease Russia by abandoning its support for Ukrainian membership in NATO, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) [supports impeaching] Biden for “threatening war” with Russia . . .

Unquote.

Meanwhile, the creepy intruder from Upside Down World speaks:

T____ says the U.S. should not have been buying Russian oil, but imports increased 39% during his four years, after dropping 22% over Obama’s two terms.

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