Russia, Hacking and Moral Panics

First of all, I thank you all for your patience. Truth be told, I’m not completely recovered from my pilgrimage to Russia but I’m getting there. Just so you know, I plan on commenting on it fairly soon. There’s still so much for me to process so I’d appreciate your patience. (Long story short: it was fabulous!)

Anyway, I can see that upon our return to the States that things haven’t calmed down any regarding Russia and its alleged interference in the 2016 election. I’m sorry, but I can recognize scapegoating when I see it. (And don’t even get me started on the dozens of times in which we’ve interfered in other countries’ election.)

Regardless, I came across two important articles regarding Russia. The firs one is a geopolitical analysis that I think deserves a good read. The second is an excellent vlog from Black Pigeon Speaks. It’s a trenchant analysis about Russia, America and the transparent scapegoating that our political class has heaped upon Russia.

Please take the time to watch it.


  1. Nate Trost says

    I can see why George Michalopulos would enjoy that “Black Pigeon” video, it’s like a handful of cotton candy masquerading as a nutritious meal. It is a bit extraordinary how an eleven minute long video (complete with a front-end pitch for merchandise) has the informational content of maybe two tweets, if we are being generous.

    Of course, even if it were a couple tweets, or a two minute long video, it wouldn’t save it from being a shallow pool of sweeping generalizations and bold unsubstantiated assertions. And a complete inability to stand up to the slightest scrutiny.

    BLACK PIGEON: Why is the left so obsessed with Russia?

    ME: Well, yes, you can find people “on the left” who are overly caught up in Russia theories or attribute undeserved weight or influence to Russia, but that is a minority compared to the section of the American public and political figures, encompassing what could qualify ‘left’ and ‘right’, in conjunction with a broad element of Western Europe that has concerns over Russian actions and intent and how to respond to such.

    BLACK PIGEON: No, no, no, I’m going to treat Democrats/The Left as a monolithic block that entirely blames the loss of Clinton to Russia and everything that bad happens is Russia’s fault. Even as I simultaneously assert that the Democrats are nothing but a giant messy collection of different interests that all have their own agendas.

    ME: Now, see, if we walk the clock back to 2014…

    BLACK PIGEON: See The Left/Democrats aren’t the party of FDR or JFK, they are nothing but identity politics. Here, I’m going to put a picture of a woman with blue hair with a donkey graphic superimposed to prove my point. This will evoke a strong negative emotional response in my right-wing male audience who disapprove of hair dye on women, bah, feminism and its crazy notions like ‘body autonomy’

    ME: One of the biggest electoral issues defining the pending mid-terms is health-care, with Democrats trying to highlight the GOP efforts to repeal protections against pre-existing conditions and the pitch of “Medicare for all” gaining wider acceptance within the party.

    BLACK PIGEON: Nope, it’s all about gender neutral bathrooms.

    ME: And beyond healthcare…

    BLACK PIGEON: Here, look at a picture of a man making a crybaby face. The Left is entirely identity politics and that is why they hate Russia, because it is White and Christian and Conservative.

    ME: Claiming everything is identity politics is a neat dodge against having to address whether Russia has actually done anything that has caused a breakdown in relations with the US and Western Europe.

    BLACK PIGEON: Did you know the CIA has done bad things in the past?

    ME: I mean, you don’t even bother trying to deny that Russia engaged in operations targeting the US elections, you just rush past that part in a couple seconds, and act like it isn’t a big deal, really.

    BLACK PIGEON: Here is a photo of Hilary Clinton.

    ME: You only mention Crimea in passing by stating the Trump doesn’t really care about it, or apparently Russian influence efforts in US elections, which kind of ignores Russia’s military invasion and annexation of Crimea being the event that really sent Western/Russian relations on a sharp downward spiral.

    BLACK PIGEON: No, it’s hysteria over Clinton losing and Russia being viewed as to blame.

    ME: Which doesn’t even include the Russian direct involvement in insurrection in Eastern Ukraine and it’s unwillingness to take responsibility for its culpability in the MH-17 downing…

    BLACK PIGEON: I’m going to show a picture of a headline about Clinton talking about the effects of the Comey letter and Russia, but pretend the former, and leading element doesn’t exist.

    ME: …or Russia flamboyantly attempting to assassinate an exile in a deliberately attributable fashion that resulted in the death of a British citizen on British soil. And its hacking and interference in Western European elections…

    BLACK PIGEON: I’m going to assert that the Democrats aren’t really serious about Russia, because they aren’t doing anything about it even though they have control of neither the legislative or executive branches of government. Because I brand any negative assessment towards Russia as ‘hysteria’, I am not going to view in the least suspicion Trump’s lack of willingness to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

    If that’s what you consume, your dentist is going to get a new beach home.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Clearly, Mr pigeon has hit a nerve with many on the le. If anything, after my second trip to russia, I am more than ever convinced that the revulsion the western establishment feels towards Russia is because of its resurgent sense of national identity, which includes Orthodoxy.

      Nate, could you tell me why your impressions would he different? What did you experience when you were there?

    • Michael Bauman says

      NATE: One of the biggest electoral issues defining the pending mid-terms is health-care, with Democrats trying to highlight the GOP efforts to repeal protections against pre-existing conditions and the pitch of “Medicare for all” gaining wider acceptance within the party.

      Really, since when? The only people I see running on it are the Bernie Babies. But you probably live in a large metropolitan dystopia. And the whole fear mongering about coverage for pre-existing conditions being repealed is just that–fear mongering. Not only that the continuing miss identification of health care with health insurance shows that no one in the Federal Government knows anything about what they are saying and do not care. Obamacareless made an issue out of health insurance and made any real problems unsolvable. 90% or more of the issues it purported to solve were the result of the regulations and stupidity in Democrat controlled states. It is a mess, nothing but a mess and will always be a mess now.

    • The thing is, Nate, that the current state of affairs is almost entirely the fault of progressives here in the US.

      In 2008, the establishment here, in the person of Sen. Juan McCain, authorized Mikheil Sakaashvili of Georgia to attack two previously autonomous provinces there which never accepted Georgian sovereignty in the first place. In doing so, he killed about 15 Russian peacekeepers and many Ossetian and Abkhaz civilians. They all looked to Russia for protection and fled in the direction of the Russian army when it intervened. Bear in mind that borders there were less than twenty years old and that we had redrawn borders in Serbia/Kosovo already.

      Then, in 2014, the West staged a coup d’etat in the Ukraine, right on Russia’s front door. Yanukovich was the democratically elected president of Ukraine. Their elections had gone back and forth several times between pro-Russian and pro-Western leaders. They did not like a deal he was contemplating with Russia and that he was not moving Ukraine into the Western camp so they sponsored his illegal overthrow, funding the Maidan movement. Things came to a head and there was a deal agreed to which called for early elections. It was in the immediate aftermath of this deal that Western elements launched their coup d’etat using fascist parties as their spearhead, driving Yanukovich from the country. They later tried to impeach him to make it look acceptable but they lacked the votes to do so lawfully under their constitution.

      So really, the Poroshenko government is illegal to begin with and deserves no consideration.

      Given that reality, Russia retook the Crimea since it has a major military deployment there and the region is 96% Russian and chose to return to Russia in a democratic referendum. Moreover, in eastern Ukraine, many ethnic Russians were shocked that Kiev was considering banning their language and other repressive measures and simply rebelled against the new, illegal regime. That is the reality behind Novorossiya.

      Re: the MH-17 downing. The version of the Russian weapon used to down it was an outdated one that was also held by Ukrainian forces. Russia has always maintained that it was amateur hour at targeting by the Ukrainians that brought down the plane. Who knows what they were really aiming at or thought they were aiming at?

      The whole fiasco goes back to the Clinton Administration when it decided to support ever eastward expansion of the EU and NATO despite US assurances to the RF that it was not interested in hemming it in militarily or economically. Russia has been utterly patient about this but when you attack it on its border states, you cross a line. Even putting anti-missile defenses close to its border crosses a line and upsets the balance of strategic forces, no matter whom we say they are protecting against.

      The whole mentality of the West is based on two realities: One is that the Left here cannot stomach the fact that Russia rejected socialism and subsequently embraced markets and Orthodox Christianity. A conservative, white Christian nation simply must be a villain to those obsessed with identity politics. It could not be any other way. Especially one that used to be a beacon of socialism. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

      The second has to do with the conservative Cold War mentality. Most of the leadership of the conservative wing of the Republican Party is old enough to have been polarized against Russia due to the Cold War when Russia was the leading republic of the Soviet Union. The fact that only about 5% of the Russian people were ever registered as communists does not seem to matter to these politicians hopelessly lost in the 20th century. Nor does the fact that the Communist Party was the only show in town if you wanted to serve your country (as was the case with Putin). Allegiance of politicians like Yeltsin and Putin to the CP was only skin deep, unlike that of Mikhail Gorbachev who to this day remains a convinced socialist. Many left the Party as soon as it was safe to do so.

      So, Nate, really there is no substance to the standard progressive bile that emanates against Russia. We are the guilty party, by and large. It is a shame that liberal white guilt does not extend to the West’s role in alienating Russia. But then again, Russians are the wrong color and creed to deserve sympathy, aren’t they?

    • Also, I should clarify:

      I don’t claim to know exactly who downed MH-17. It could have been “separatists” or other Ukrainian forces. It was not the Russians. Russians would know how to operate their own (outdated) equipment better than this. No one (except the Ukrainian regime) claims anyone intentionally shot down a Malaysian plane just for spite. It is universally acknowledged to be an accident.

      But was it really?

      Apart from the incidental question of who exactly pulled the trigger to shoot down a plane flying in a war zone. The real question is who authorized it to fly in an area where many planes had been downed in the recent past. And that “who” would be Ukrainian air traffic control.

      That is really why the whole thing smells to high heaven and the Russians simply deny anything and everything associated with the debacle. Accusations against Russia were immediate and automatic before any “investigations” commenced. Evidence was tampered with and closely guarded against independent investigations. Perhaps the dominant version in the Western press is accurate, perhaps not. But I for one simply don’t trust the MSM not to manufacture evidence to fit their political agenda. And, even if it was Ukrainian separatists, such separatists saved many lives by downing other Ukrainian military aircraft prior to whatever happened to MH-17.

      It smells, at best, like a false flag op:

  2. Ruehl incorrectly identifies Russia as the surprise aggressor in Georgia. Georgia attacked its own civilians in the two autonomous provinces, killing Russian peacekeepers there in the process. It was then that Russia intervened.

  3. Anything is better than the communists in Russia. Stalin starved 8-10 million Ukrainians. If he had lived longer or his health held out he would have tried to kill the Soviet Jews. He was not Russian he was from Georgia. he even killed a lot of Georgians.

    I trust Putin more than Angela Merkel or some other Western European leaders.

  4. Loras Camzekes says

    Putin still calls St Petersburg Leningrad. Yeltsin and Gorbachev families suffered from Stalin but Putin grandfather was Stalin cook and food taster. Stalin killed a third of a million Greeks in 1937 Siberia. Maybe Putin grandfather coked them

  5. Michael Bauman says

    None of it matters, nor is it in our control. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and Matthew 6

  6. Francis Frost says


    Normally I would not waste my time on a precious Holy Day to respond to your usual confabulation of nonsense and propaganda; but Misha’s blantant slanders against the Georgian nation are to too much to stomach.

    First, the article that you, George, quoted clearly demonstrates that the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine were premeditated, planned invasions using patently false excuses to hide the Putin regime’s criminal intent.

    First, the Russian “peacekeepers” and their Ossetian allies spent three entire weeks shelling the Georgian villages around Tskhinvali before the so called ‘outbreak of hostilities’. Secondly, the Georgian government has the absolute and inalienable right to defend its citizens and its territory from the Russian invaders.

    If Misha wants to learn the actual history of the 2008 invasion he would do well to read the extensive expose by the Russian journalist Yulia Latynina, published in the Moscow Times newspaper in 2009. He might also watch the documentary “Uroki Russkogo” (Russian Lessons) filmed by Russian cinematographers Andrei Nekrasov and Olga Konskaya, which documents the campaign of disinformation that the Russians used to cover their invasion of Georgia and their terrorist attacks on civilian populations. This documentary also documents the direct participation of the Moscow Patriarchate and its bishops in the invasion, desecration and burning of the Ghvertaeba Cathedral in Nikazi.

    While you may admire the tactical and overwhelming military advantage that the Russians used to invade Georgia, there is one point that neither you nor the author you quoted have considered. The Russian’s stated goal was the overthrow of the Georgian government and the occupation of the entire nation. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the Russian television reported on the evening of August 8th that Tbilisi has been taken and that President Saakashvili had “chosen suicide”. Of course, neither of those reports was born out by the actual events and the reports disappeared. in a few hours.

    Instead of the expected rapid victory, the Russian invasion forces were stopped dead in their tracks just outside the Holy City of Mtskheta, not by the Georgian military who were in full rout at that point. No, the Russians came up against a barrier their weapons could not breach and their evil could not penetrate. You would do well to ponder that. The survival of the Georgian nation, the personal inheritance of the Most Holy Theotokos, was no chance event of history, and in time even the Russians will be forced to recognize the miracle that occurred on that night.

    No doubt, George, you, Misha and like minded fellow travelers will crow about Russia’s great success in ‘neutralizing’ the independence of Russia’s neighbors. Well, perhaps; but lets review a little of the subsequent history.

    Since the 2008 invasion, Georgian democracy has not collapsed. On the contrary, it has successfully managed a change in government, has held several parliamentary elections and continues to modernize the economy and governmental processes. It continues its plans to accede to NATO and the EU despite Russia’s threats.

    Georgia’s economy did not collapse. On the contrary, Georgia’s economy has been growing 6 -7 % year over year. The tourist industry has been growing nearly 25 % year over year. The skylines of Tbilisi and Batumi have been transformed by modern development. Large amounts of investment have flowed into the Georgian economy taking advantage of low tax rates, decreased regulatory burdens and the rooting out of Soviet style corruption.

    Russia’s economy, which before the war was booming, has now stagnated in recession for the past decade. Russia’s sovereign wealth fund has dried up. While the targeted sanctions imposed by the US have had a modest effect, Mr. Putin’s counter sanctions on imported foods and products have caused 15% inflation while pensioners’ checks have not been raised in the post 5 years because as Dmitri Medvedyev admitted “ we don’t have the money”. Mr. Putin’s ‘optimization’ of the health care system has gutted that system leaving nearly the entire country outside of “the center” without any medical care whatsoever. Rural Russians and elderly Russians are again dying at an alarming rate.

    As a result of the exhortation made byHis All-Holiness Patriarch Ilya II, the birth rate in Georgia has risen 25% since the 2008 war and remains at that higher level. The mass baptisms of 3rd, 4th or higher birth order babies that are celebrated in the Holy Trinity Patriarchal Cathedral 4 times each year, in which Patriarch Ilya personally presides, demonstrates that fact. Russia, on the other hand, had at best a 3 year pause in its demographic free-fall which has since resumed apace. By mid-century, Russia’s population is projected to decrease by one half and the percentage of Russian citizens who are not ethnic Russians will rise to nearly 40%. Russia’s army already has a 30 % representation of non-Russian soldiers. The tipping point where Great Russian chauvinism is insufficient to hold Putin’s empire together is not far off.

    Indeed, since Russia’s oligarchs hide nearly all of Russia’s wealth in offshore banks it would take no more than a series of banking sanctions to collapse the Russian economy. You might want to note that the British government has already proposed just such sanctions in response to the Skripal poisonings. You deride American power; but you yourself note that just the mention of sanctions has nearly crippled the Turkish economy and collapsed the Turkish lira in a matter of days. Russia is even more vulnerable than Turkey since no-one needs Russia’s gas or oil anymore. The US is now exporting both oil and natural gas, while Russia’s production capacity has been declining for the past decade.

    George, you made a pilgrimage; but apparently you learned nothing from it. Perhaps they failed to mention to you at Diveyevo the letter that St. Seraphim wrote to Tsar Aleksandr I in 1811, the year that the Russians abolished the Georgian Patriarchate.

    St Seraphim wrote: “Georgia is the inheritance of the Most Holy Mother of God. Do not make war on Georgia. If you do make war on Georgia, God will make war on Russia, and Russia will be destroyed” That wise Tsar heeded St. Seraphim’s warning; but his heirs did not. The tsarist occupiers looted sacred treasures. They outlawed the Georgian language and Georgian liturgical chants. They whitewashed ancient frescos and imported their decadent western icons in the “academic style”. In the end Tsarist Russia was destroyed and the Georgian Patriarchate revived.

    On April 9, 1989 Gorbachov unleashed the Soviet tanks and troops on peaceful teenage protesters in Tbilisi – protesters agains the proposed imposition of the Russian language on the Georgian state and its schools. Dozens of young people were killed; but the Soviet Empire collapsed with 2 years.

    Now Putin has again made war on Georgia, the sacred inheritance of the Theotokos. In 1992, St. Gabriel Urgebadze, the great confessor of Christ, the fool for Christ, the prophet and miracle worker prophesied: “If the Russians take Abkhazeti, the Most Holy Theotokos will never forgive them”. Having spurned the commandments of Christ, the sacred Canons of the Orthodox faith and the prophesies of our Orthodox saints, the outcome of Putin’s crime spree is clear. Putin, his acolytes in the Donskoi and his entire tribe of cheerleaders here in the West have had an entire decade to repent – all to no avail.

    All that remains now is the final act, the denouement of this drama, “the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds, eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality; but to those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil” Romans 2: 5 – 9

    A blessed feast to the faithful Orthodox who honor our Most Holy Lady not just in word but in deed and in truth

    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, none are so blind as those who will not see. For your information, those Russians soldiers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia who were killed by the Shaakashvili were there under the auspices of the UN. They were recognized by that body (I know, I know: “Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of US!”) whether we like that body or not. That was an act of aggression on the part of Georgia.

      As for Ukraine, when the Crimea voted to annex themselves to Russia, the sailors of the Ukrainian navy were given a choice as to whether to stay with Ukraine or join Russia. The vast majority voted with their feet and joined Russia. And no, they weren’t forced to do so. Anymore than the 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees who migrated to Russia proper after the neo-nazis who took over Kiev decided to pursue policies which can only be called ethnic cleansing (i.e. the outlawing of the Russian language, etc.)

      But let’s cut to the chase shall we? How will Georgia and Ukraine feel that upon joining NATO they will be forced to taken in tens of thousands of African, Syrian and Moslem refugees? I imagine they will be singing a different tune then. Just ask the Greeks and Italians: there’s very little Kum-ba-ya going on there presently.

      (Just so y’all know, I’m preparing a vlog/blog on the destruction of Greece because of its traitorous leaders.)

      • George,

        That is actually part of the effect of a frozen conflict like Georgia and the Ukraine. Under NATO rules, no admission of a country which is partially occupied is possible due to the organization security guarantees.

        I.e., Putin got exactly what he wanted out of the conflicts.

      • youmustbekidding says

        Greeks don’t pay taxes. Just like wealthy Americans. Just like the President’s rebuke of those who charged Manafort without paying taxes on 60 million income.

        I saved you the need to write Mr. M.

        Problem solved, rich have to pay taxes, and the poor can’t get everything for nothing.

    • Francis,
      Condi Rice travelling to Georgia is what saved Tbilisi, not the Theotokos. Moreover, Sakaashvili was driven out of both Georgia and Ukraine and any number of his henchmen jailed by the Georgians themselves. I’m on my cell so I can’t give sites but have done so in the past.

      Some people never learn.

  7. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Um, here I sit with bated breath, awaiting Nate’s response to George’s question.

    • Nate Trost says


      I guess a couple notes for future reference are in order, since they are not self evident.

      1) I try to avoid the very human tendency to ‘get the last word in’. If I have said my piece, I am generally content to let it sit. Especially if I view the responses to what I have said as not actually substantially (if not actively avoiding) engaging with it. That is the case here.

      2) Frequently there are questions George Michalopulos poises or assertions he makes that I do not view as deserving the dignity of a response. While, to me, the underlying reasons seem obvious, perhaps I need to do a bit of exposition in an instance like this.

      As an adult, I have spent upwards of a year living in a foreign country, spent a couple months traveling around another unguided with a loose agenda, and done short term charity work in yet another. Now, on one hand, to me, this hardly qualifies me as a seasoned world traveler compared to many I know. Yet at the same time, I recognize that these are experiences that are lacking in wide swathes of the American population.

      But, I do not feel these relatively unique experiences, despite the length and depth of my sojourns in foreign lands, qualify me to speak deeply into said countries or cultures. Certainly not rising to the level of expert opinion.

      With that in mind, while I am sure George Michalopulos met a great many wonderful, kind and pious people on his trip to Russia, the fact that he went on a carefully chauffeured and choreographed tour does not incline me to give his anecdotes about his perceptions of Russia any particular weight or validity. It’s kind of like going on a Carnival cruise and coming back proclaiming that you are going to tell me how the Caribbean really is.


      Considering how George Michalopulos loves to rant about forces constructing narratives and what have you, it would be rather interesting to see him deconstruct his trip with an eye to how his experiences and perceptions were being influenced, and shaped. However, that is not something I am going to ‘sit with baited breath’ over.

  8. Pdn Nicholas Jannakos says

    For those who have ears to hear, let them hear:
    USA Warhawks, listen up!:
    WWll British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had three laws of war:
    “One, never march on Moscow;’
    Two, never get in a land war in Asia;’
    Three, never march on Moscow.”
    As Napoleon, Hitler, and Lyndon Johnson learned ‘the hard way.’
    The decrepit ole PdnNicholas,
    For those who have ears to hear.

  9. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    When did LBJ march on Moscow like Napoleon or Hitler? I missed that!

  10. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today by the Associated Press in The National Herald.

    AP: Russian Spies Tried Hacking Orthodox Clergy (Vid & Pics)
    By Associated Press – August 27, 2018

  11. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today by the Associated Press in The National Herald.

    Ungodly Espionage: Russian Hackers Targeted Orthodox Clergy, Patriarch Bartholomew
    By Associated Press – August 28, 2018