Limu Emu and Vlad
A couple of years ago I moved to a different state and had to change my auto insurance policy with my big-name insurance company. A month after paying for the new policy, I accidentally discovered that they were about to auto-renew my old policy (for the state I no longer lived in). I was livid. The lady on the phone told me “Well, of course, you have to tell us to cancel your old policy". Recently I canceled the policy, which was an amazingly tricky and confusing process. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to make a claim after an accident with such shysters.
That’s when I started to appreciate the genius of the new generation of crazy insurance commercials. My favorites are the Limu Emu and Doug commercials by Liberty Mutual. Watch them often enough and you start to think of Doug as a good neighbor (not the State Farm Insurance kind, but more like the Simpsons). He’s your friend, almost family, not a conniving businessman. A company that makes such commercials understands you
That’s the problem. They do understand you, but you don’t understand them. You forget that they want to take as much of your money as possible, and give as little as possible back (that’s why they are so successful). They never talk about what happens when you need to make an insurance claim, and you never think about it. Conveniently for them, not for you.
We don’t understand Russia
The relationship between the Soviet Union and Russia is incredibly important to each American. For generations, there have been thousands of nuclear warheads that the Russians could drop on America at any time. Yet our schools teach nothing about this incredibly dangerous threat. Russians understand America, but most of us understand nothing about Russia (or CCP China).
I do. In 1994 I landed in Moscow. I had already studied Russian for several years, but this was my first time in Russia. I was shocked by the grotesque scene of filth and stagnation in front of me. All of the western politicians, academics, and intellectuals that ever had anything good to say about the Soviet Union were total frauds (including Comrade Bernie Sanders who was in Moscow praising breadlines only 6 years before I arrived). This was a country that had been at war with itself, run by a gang of genocidal Marxist maniacs.
I had gone to the Urals with fellow Americans Kate and Simon to work in an orphanage. Sweet little Katie wanted to “give something back” to the land of her ancestors. The local school system invited us and was responsible for our safety. The top school administrator was intent on raping Kate. The only thing that saved her was the constant presence of Simon and me.
The school administrator’s behavior was nothing unusual in Russia (the Soviet Union was worse). But in the early 1990’s we were sold the myth about the new Russia, that it was finally free. I knew otherwise, from first-hand experience. Even my Russian friends used to jokingly ask on Russian Independence Day “independence from who?”.
Good ol' Vlad
During WW2 FDR’s government called the genocidal mass-murderer Stalin "Good ol' Joe" to make Americans not throw up at the idea of helping a man at least as evil as Hitler. Putin’s father was an NKVD (KGB) goon operating in the Baltics during WW2. Between 1941 and 1951 the genocidal Soviets deported about 20,000 Estonian women and children to their deaths in Siberia. Putin rose rapidly up the ranks of the KGB, the Stalinist killing machine. It’s no accident that Putin is deporting Ukrainians to Siberia now.
I lived in St. Petersburg when Putin was a miserable grey nobody assistant to mayor Sobchak. Only a few years later I was watching TV in Germany with my dear friend Alla, a Russian Jewish retiree immigrant from St. Petersburg, when Yeltsin appeared on the news, handing the keys to the Kremlin to Putin. We were shocked. Russia was lost. The terror had returned to Russia.
We did not know who Putin was (the Russians did). He made sure we never found out. With the help of western image-makers, he became masculine, but not toxic. He smiled (well, at least smirked). In Liberty Mutual insurance commercials, they breakdance, ride mechanical bulls, and knit clothes for their pets. Good ol’ Vlad flies planes, goes fishing and horseback riding bare-chested, and practices judo.
He slowly became someone we trusted. Western leaders played along. Sweet little Angela Merkel, who had only good things to say about her life growing up in East Germany (which for me was a red flag that she was a fraud or a nutcase), was one of Putin’s best friends and key enablers. Not surprisingly, she hated Trump.
"Why can’t we all just get along?" (Rodney King)
As the years went by, we all came to think that we had an unspoken contract with Vlad. We’d all get along and prosper together peacefully. Never mind that Vlad got ultra-wealthy while impoverishing his own citizens, invading neighboring countries, and killing indiscriminately.
America was not responsible for Russia’s failure to become a “normal” country; America in the 1990s was too morally rudderless to save the Russians from themselves.
For the Russians to buck the system would have cost many of them everything (look at Navalny now), but it would have cost our government officials and business elite almost nothing. The Russians really believed in America in the 1990s. But they quickly came to understand American decadence and immorality, and out of desperation and a desire for some kind of stability, they embraced Putin. It was the only way they could get along with themselves.
They needed Vlad, and so do we. Thirty years after the fall of the wall, we need Vlad to save us from ourselves. Western governments and elites have been selling us another New Deal, the Deal of Deals, a great reset (sending us back to the countryside like Mao sent the Chinese), saving us carbon-based life forms from carbon, from fossil fuels, from our own genes (transgenderism and Covid gene therapy). But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has forced western governments to focus on their own survival instead of the subjugation of the proletariat. Even the German Marxists have temporarily become responsible leaders. They might even stop being a vassal state of Russia (something Trump, a man the Germans constantly compared to Hitler, could not convince them to do). Instead of pointing their guns at their own citizens for not wearing masks, they have started rebuilding their almost non-existent army to protect themselves from good ol’ Vlad.
Maybe Vlad (and the CCP) are the only way to save an America that buys car insurance from an emu (a deadly modern-day dinosaur) and puts faith in some cold-blooded KGB killer goon riding bare-chested on a horse (another deadly dinosaur that we all thought was extinct). Thank the good Lord that we have good ol’ Vlad (and the CCP) to save us from ourselves.
Photo credit: Russia
Joseph Kulve is a pen name.