Yes, the headline is a reference to the memorable 1966 comedy — well worth revisiting or watching for the first time.
For the second day in a row, the mainstream media offers hysterical headlines such as “Russian fighter jets, bombers intercepted off Alaska for 2nd day in a row“. These pieces come complete with pictures of big bad Russian bombers flying through the sky:
U.S. warplanes intercepted Russian bombers and fighter jets off the Alaskan coast for the second day in a row on Tuesday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed early Wednesday morning. The U.S.-Canadian airspace defense agency said two Russian bombers accompanied by two Su-35 fighter jets entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and were intercepted by two NORAD F-22s.
The astute reader realizes by the second paragraph that at no time did these aircraft enter American airspace. In fact, even further down we learn that such flights have been routine (or at least common) for more than a decade:
NORAD said it has “intercepted an average of approximately six to seven Russian sorties entering its ADIZ since Russia resumed long range aviation patrols in 2007.”
So it turns out that there is no news here. Russian aircraft are performing operations that Russian aircraft commonly perform. I’m not a military expert, but I’m pretty confident that American aircraft perform pretty much the same operations off the boundaries of Russia and China on a similarly routine basis. This exemplifies the kind of hysterical media madness that was so pervasive during the cold war (and that the cited movie marvelously lampoons).
The motivation for this media madness is no laughing matter. It bears all the earmarks of an intentional distraction — the question is “distraction from what?”. I can’t help but note that the Austrian government is in turmoil because of a scandal involving its newly-ascendant right-wing “Freedom Party” and Russia. That party has long and deep ties to Russia and Mr. Putin (emphasis mine):
BERLIN — The leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party has signed what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and recently met with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the designated national security adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump of the United States.
Word of the agreement with Russia was the latest sign that the Kremlin is forging bonds with political parties across Europe in what some European leaders suspect is a coordinated attempt to meddle in their affairs and potentially weaken Western democracies. Many of these efforts are murky and involve obscure groups, and it is unclear whether President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has any direct involvement.
The Freedom Party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, reported the signing of the agreement with United Russia, Mr. Putin’s party, on Monday on his Facebook page, where he also disclosed that he had visited General Flynn a few weeks ago in Trump Tower in New York.
It appears to me that the most of the GOP is in thrall to Mr. Putin and has been since the 2016 election of Mr. Trump. Contrary to Mr. Barr’s loud assertions to the contrary, the Mueller Report clearly states that Russia DID make widespread and concerted attempts to manipulate the 2016 election. It is clear that the Trump campaign and Mr. Trump welcomed those attempts. It is clear that this was part of a worldwide Russian campaign to destabilize western democracies around the world.
How far do the tentacles of this long-term Russian intervention extend? What if the leaders of today’s Trumpist GOP are themselves compromised by Russian interests?
Is this what the media would prefer us not to explore further?