Russia conquered the Republican Party by using God, guns and gays

Events from the last week have surfaced at a moment that seems almost too perfect. As reported in the New York Times

According to the complaint unsealed on Monday, Ms. Butina’s promotional activities for Russian political interests included attending the National Prayer Breakfast twice.

Why was Butina, a covert agent of the Russian government posing as a representative of a pro-gun group connected to the NRA, there at the National Prayer Breakfast? Because that’s where the Republicans were. That’s where the Right was. Because: God, guns, and gays.

The phrase “God, guns, and gays” is often falsely attributed to President Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Hillary Clinton. But that’s not where it originated. It came out of the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe—he of the snowball in the Senate, climate change-denying fame. The phrase “God, guns, and gays” wasn’t coined by Inhofe’s team as an insult. It was intended to focus Oklahoma voters on social issues, so they would ignore Republican economic and environmental policies that were ruining their towns and lives. It was a strategy. For Russians looking a way to upend American politics, it was a road map.

For decades, the Republican Party had made taking a strong stand against Russia part of its core identity. After all, it was hard to position the GOP as the party of patriotism and defense, if it didn’t make a show of standing up to America’s greatest international opponent. But just as Gods, guns, and gays was a way to make a “shotgun wedding” of a supposedly charitable religion and an anything-but political party, Russia saw that it also offered a path to not just reconciling Republicans with Moscow, but making them as thoroughly owned by the Kremlin as the Religious Right is by the GOP.

Maria Butina, though only a 22-year-old student, saw this clearly at least as early as 2011. So did her boss, Russian oligarch Alexander Torshin. In that year, Butina formed the faux pro-gun group “Right to Bear Arms,” not to actually champion the cause of gun rights in Russia, but as a way to reach out to the NRA and the right wing in the United States. Bolstered by money and praise from Torshin, the non-existent “group” became an almost overnight power on the American right. As the Washington Post documents, it took only months for Butina to secure connections within the NRA. Less than two years after she began, former Russia hawk John Bolton was recording what amounted to a commercial for her group. By 2014, both Torshin and Butina were at the NRA convention, where they were treated as celebrities.

Butina and Torshin made sure that Russians were connected to the right by guns. And of course, they already had Republicans on the other two “G’s”—hating gays and running a brutally patriarchal society that demeans the position and rights of women. Those views had already locked Russia into favored nation status with the so-called Christian Right.

As Politico reported in 2017, Pat Buchanan, who had spent decades chewing every inch of scenery over the possibility that a Russian spy might be hiding behind the White House drapes, had already so reversed himself that in 2014 he said Putin was “entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today.” It didn’t matter that Putin was routinely assassinating his opponents, killing and imprisoning journalists, and stealing everything that was and wasn’t nailed down. He was crushing the rights of gays. For Buchanan, that meant everything.

Pat Buchanon: In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.

Buchanan made the claim that God was on Putin’s side, even as Putin was invading Ukraine and the United States and Europe were scrambling to find a response to the clearest act of territorial aggression since World War II might seem shocking … but it was already settling in as accepted wisdom on the right. Putin was strong. Putin was manly. Putin was brutally cruel to gays. For the religious right—a group that’s always searching for a David to rule them as they want, even if that rule comes with moral failings up to murdering a friend, or sleeping with a porn star—learning that Putin hated gays was enough to make him the anointed one of God. No matter how many dozens, or hundreds, or thousands he had killed.

Bonding over this “godliness” established connections between organizations on the religious right that were both social and monetary. They see Putin as not just one of them, not just as a friend on whom they can rely. He’s a role model.

American fundamentalists bent on unwinding minority protections in the U.S. have increasingly leaned on Russia for support—and for a model they’d bring to bear back home, from targeting LGBT communities to undoing abortion rights throughout the country.

Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin making an appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast isn’t a coincidence. It’s not even regarded as odd—Torshin has been a regular for several years.

Donald Jr. is going down

The FBI has obtained secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank who has forged close ties with U.S. lawmakers and the National Rifle Association, that led to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the gun lobby’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., in May 2016, a top Spanish prosecutor said Friday.

José Grinda, who has spearheaded investigations into Spanish organized crime, said that bureau officials in recent months requested and were provided transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer. On the wiretaps, Romanov refers to Torshin as “El Padrino,” the godfather.

“Just a few months ago, the wiretaps of these telephone conversations were given to the FBI,” Grinda said in response to a question from Yahoo News during a talk he gave at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. Asked if he was concerned about Torshin’s meetings with Donald Trump Jr. and other American political figures, Grinda replied: “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”

More at the link.

Congress must immediately investigate what Trump gave away

A quote from a senior Russian general, July 17:

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in the sphere of international security achieved at the Helsinki summit,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian military spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday.
The Russian military “is ready to intensify contacts with the US colleagues in the General Staff and other available channels to discuss the extension of the START treaty, cooperation in Syria, as well as other issues of ensuring military security,” Konashenkov said.
SAY WHAT?????   What are these “. . . other issues of ensuring military security?”  US withdrawal from Korea?  from NATO?  from Afghanistan?  US de-nuclearization?  End joint military exercises with our NATO partners?
What did Trump give away to Putin this time?

Never forget

My mother (1924 – 2007) remembered exactly where she was and what she was doing when FDR died.

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when:

  • JFK was assassinated,
  • when the Space Shuttle exploded, and,
  • on 9/11/2001.

Remember where you were today — July 16, 2018 — when Donald Trump stood beside our nation’s number one enemy and denounced the United States.  

Remember where you were today when our nation ended.  Your grandchildren will ask you.

Trump was warned

“Don’t mess with the people who have the wiretaps, subpoena power, guns and handcuffs,” I warned him.  But he wouldn’t listen.  And now . . .

From May 2018

Spanish police have turned over to the FBI wiretaps of conversations involving Alexander Torshin, a prominent Russian banker suspected of money laundering who met with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., during the 2016 US presidential election.

Torshin is closely associated with the National Rifle Association, and he and his longtime assistant attempted to use the organization’s annual convention in 2016 to set up a backdoor meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Neither Trump nor his campaign associates attended the convention, but Torshin and Trump Jr. did attend a separate NRA dinner that same night.

When José Grinda, a Spanish prosecutor who spearheads investigations into organized crime, was asked if he was concerned about Torshin’s interactions with Trump Jr. or other American political figures, Grinda replied: “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”

Read more:

Trump has fucked over US intelligence and police agencies and now they are bringing the heat.

And now, today

A Russian national with ties to a top Russian official was charged in federal court in Washington Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, and was ordered held without bond.

Maria Butina, 29, was arrested Sunday in the District and made her first appearance in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson. Her attorney, Robert Neil Driscoll, told the judge that Butina’s residence was searched by the FBI in April, that she had testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session several months ago, and that “we have been offering to cooperate with the government the entire time.”

Butina did not speak during the brief hearing other than to state her name. A detention hearing and preliminary hearing were set for Wednesday.

The charges against Butina come days after the Justice Department unveiled an indictment against 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly conspiring to hack Democrats in 2016 and just hours after President Trump cast doubt on Russia’s involvement in an extraordinary joint news conference with President Putin.

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