Butina Your Lip

Former Gret Stet Governor Bobby Jindal with Maria Butina.

I have been accused of constructing posts around a punny title. I plead guilty as charged. There’s a lot of that going around this week. The latest to cop a plea is Maria Butina. I have abandoned my futile attempt to popularize the Russian spelling of her name. She’s Two-I Mariia no more. Life goes on and on and on; much like this introduction.

The facts of the Butina case have become somewhat murky. Initially, I compared her to Elizabeth Jennings of The Americans but it looks as if she was more of an influence peddler than a spy; as much K Street as Kremlin.

The prosecution has even withdrawn some of the more sensational characterizations of her activities:

Yet even as prosecutors secured Ms. Butina’s conviction and cooperation, they faced questions about their initial portrayal of Ms. Butina as something like a character out of “Red Sparrow,” the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.

Prosecutors had already been forced to back off the most salacious accusations against Ms. Butina — that she used sex as spycraft — and acknowledged in court filings this week that she genuinely wanted a graduate degree, and was not simply posing as a student to live in the United States. They also dropped accusations of her being in contact with Russian intelligence agencies, and that she was only using Mr. Erickson to gain access to other influential Americans.

Agents come in many forms: from the covert to the overt. Butina appears to have been the latter. She bamboozled American gun nuts in broad daylight, revealing them as gullible fools willing to fall for a pretty face and a ridiculous story: a gun rights group in Putin’s Russia? Yeah, right.

There was even a memorable public exchange with the Insult Comedian:

While I still hope that Butina can damage the NRA, it’s unclear how much she knows and who, other than her boyfriend/whatever Paul Erickson, she can hurt. She certainly played them for fools, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Those pictures with PBJ, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and Wayne LaPierre are priceless.

The minute I heard that she’d agreed to co-operate, I knew that she was not a spy. We usually trade their spies for our spies. I’m puzzled by Butina’s motives in co-operating with prosecutors as she still faces deportation. Failed Russian agents tend not to have a long shelf life when they return home.

Our readers have surely noticed by now that my mind works in weird ways. This time, it has connected Maria Butina and the Rolling Stones. Her American adventure involved making connections with the NRA in the hopes of influencing the Republican party. That, in turn, evokes a song from the 1967 Stones album, Butina the Buttons:

The album’s real name is Between the Buttons and, in the end, the real connection Maria Butina made was with federal prosecutors.

The post title is also Stones inspired. The opening line of Mixed Emotions is “button your lip, baby.” It wasn’t much of a leap to Butina Your Lip.

The Rolling Stones get the last word:

4 thoughts on “Butina Your Lip

  1. There are some pretty strange pathways and connections in that head of yours!
    (And funny)

  2. https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018/12/14/what-other-groups-have-been-infiltrated-by-russian-agents/

    Putin hasn’t simply been recruiting Donald Trump as an asset, he has been courting the three groups that now make up the base of the Republican Party: gun rights groups, white evangelicals, and white nationalists. You might ask what Putin would get out of that.

    There are those who have questioned why these groups remain loyal to [Trump] as the facts emerge about his relationship with Russia. The reason is obvious. For several years now Vladimir Putin has been busy courting groups that as recently as 30 years ago would have happily taken up arms (literally) against the “evil empire.” They now see their interests aligned with his.

  3. I liked Between the Buttons back in the day, and beyond. I used to listen to it sometimes until the late 70’s when it disappeared as so much of my vinyl did. 12 songs. 4 duds by my count. 6 really good ones. That’s one hell of a good count. Before rock and roll was supposed to be important. Just some 2:45 songs.

    It’s best to remember that Russia got nothing from Trump. The sanctions go on and on and on and on. War and rumors of war persist in the Bloodlands were millions and millions and millions and millions died from 1933 to 1945 and their ghosts haunt the land and the people and their decedents who are left. There are few good guys there, none of who have power. It was hardly in our power to turn Ukraine into a point of light but our, well Brzezinski’s and thus Carter’s and thus Democrats and thus liberals dream of cleaving it from Russia absolutely will mean more blood.


    Putin personally and politically, sure he gained from Trump.

  4. I’m puzzled by these people who claim to know what Putin wanted and what he got. I don’t think any of us have anywhere enough information to make informed guesses.

    I’m pretty sure if she’s being deported that’s a pretty good indication that they were completely convinced that she’s NOT a spy. I agree it’s pretty unlikely there are any gun rights groups in Putin’s Russia, but that does not mean there are no shooting clubs. I don’t know about modern Russia, but Nazi Germany encouraged such groups for young people. The claim that dictatorships need to disarm their people is one of those myths the NRA propagates.

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