Trump & Putin: Final Summary

As you might have imagined, I’m getting real sick of writing about the supposed Trump/Putin love affair. The Hillary campaign is making it such a focal point that I’m starting to come off as a Trump supporter to those whose brains cannot function beyond 140 characters. As such, I’m going to wrap this up so I can say I put the information out there while Hillary’s campaign made a conscious decision to give this election to an orange abomination.

Yes, I said she’s handing him the election. If this race has taught us anything so far, it’s that Trump’s tactics have been effective. Trump spends virtually all his time talking about domestic issues. This is kind of important in a country where a significant portion of the population has never even had a passport. Regardless of how you feel about documentary producer Michael Moore, at least read point one in this article of his and tell me if you honestly think that the rust belt voters Trump’s concentrating on give two shits about Russia and the Baltic NATO members.

Sure, there was a Democratic candidate who talked about issues which were important to such people, and without attributing the problems they face to Mexicans and Muslims. We had such a candidate, but the geniuses within the Democratic party considered pro-worker politics to be the utopian pipe-dream of aging hippies and naive young people. They knew what’s best for us, which of course is more of the same. Oblivious to the world outside of their clique, they are quite possibly driving their own campaign off a cliff, and the worst thing about it is that after they hand Trump a victory they’ll naturally blame everybody but themselves. “It couldn’t have been our fault! We all have advanced degrees in political science and marketing! It must be those stupid rednecks and unrealistic radicals voting for Jill Stein! It was Putin! Nothing is ever our fault!”

I am so fatigued by all this that I’m going to do two things here. First I provide the reader with a list of all the articles where I have written about Trump’s alleged Kremlin connections and why they are not what people seem. Thereafter I shall provide some final insight with a plea for people to use critical thinking and perhaps urge the Democrats to return the focus of their campaign to domestic issues so as to have a chance against Trump this November.

Trumpapalooza

STOP…DOING…THIS…NOW!

One-Trick Ponies

Not Gonna Happen

Now onto some of the key arguments about Trump and Putin. Some of these were covered in detail in the links above, but I guess some people need them broken down even further. This is as simple as I can explain it without the use of puppet theater.

But Trump said he wouldn’t honor NATO’s Article 5!

No, actually he didn’t say that. What he said was characteristically stupid, but just look at his statement through the lens of things he’s said in the past whenever he’s asked a question about something he knows nothing about (in other words most topics). They ask if Trump will honor obligations to dirty foreigners with strange names, and Trump says he’ll do so if they honor their obligations to America, the country beset upon by parasites the world over. That’s the gist of the worldview there. That’s what he was expressing.

Trump said nice things about Putin! 

Yes he’s said things about building a wall, making Mexico pay for it, and of course he’s going to make US military personnel commit war crimes and they won’t refuse. I’ve said before that Trump’s praise for Putin is part of a strategy, part of his character. Both Trump and the Kremlin choose whatever position is seen as the opposite of the “establishment.” If Hillary had made the foreign policy side of her campaign about the so-called “reset” and called for better relations with Russia, Trump would go after her as a quisling of the “Commies.” Keep in mind this guy heads a party with a significant amount of voters who believe that Russia is still “Communist.” Some don’t know that the Soviet Union hasn’t existed since 1991. There was football on, dammit!

People keep focusing on the friendly things Trump says about Putin, while ignoring the negative things he’s said about Russia. In the article above entitled “Not Gonna Happen,” we see a Trump ad that clearly casts Russia and Putin as America’s enemy, on par with ISIS. The message is that Hillary is weak, so America’s “enemies” will laugh at her.

This isn’t the only example. Trump said the US should shoot down Russian planes if diplomacy fails. Here are the key excerpts:

“It just shows how low we’ve gone where they can toy with us like that,” Trump said, describing such scenarios as “terrible.” He insisted that the problem is Russia’s lack of respect for U.S. President Barack Obama.”

See? The problem is that Russia doesn’t respect (i.e. fear in Trump’s mind) America and it’s Obama’s fault. So what do you do?

“Normally, an Obama—let’s say a president, because you want to make at least a call or two—but normally Obama would call up Putin and say, ‘Listen, do us a favor, don’t do that, get that maniac, just stop it.’ But we don’t have that kind of a president. He’s gonna be out playing golf or something,” Trump said. “But I don’t know, at a certain point, you can’t take it.” (emphasis mine)

See that? You “can’t take it.” You can’t back down. This is the underlying foundation of the worldview Trump is appealing to. America is weak; make it great again. As such, the idea that Trump would actually put up with Russia’s trolling is ludicrous. If anything, Trump would inevitably turn more hawkish toward Russia than Hillary ever would, and if the Kremlin hacks believe otherwise they clearly don’t understand the mentality Trump is tapping into.

Okay but what about Ukraine? Trump has actually removed support for Ukraine from the GOP party platform!

As troubling as this is, what exactly has the Obama administration been doing to truly support Ukraine? For the most part they’ve been sending old equipment they no longer want and non-lethal aid. Democrats have been just as if not more worried about “escalation” of the conflict by providing Ukraine or even letting Ukraine buy higher-quality weapons. Meanwhile Russia’s clearly not concerned about escalation as their proxies in the Donbas routinely launch dozens of attacks on Ukrainian positions, killing and wounding Ukrainian servicemen on an almost daily basis. Let’s also not forget that Russia had to accidentally shoot down a passenger liner full of 298 civilians for the US and EU to step up and slap Russia with some real sanctions, and since then all the talk is about when the sanctions will be removed or weakened- nothing about additional sanctions.

Has Hillary said anything at all that would give us reason to believe that her behavior on this matter will be significantly different in any way? I don’t think so. Knowing the Kremlin’s propensity toward holding grudges over the smallest slight, their support for Trump could be little more than “revenge” on Hillary for the time they accused her of meddling in their “election.”

And speaking of Hillary’s relationship with Russia…

Trump has business interests in Russia! 

Yes, as do many other Americans, including those who support Hillary. Goldman Sachs, for example. In fact, Hillary herself has done a bit of business with Russia. The “Manchurian candidate” crowd also forgets that John McCain’s campaign manager in 2008 was Rick Davis of Davis-Manafort. Yeah…That Manafort. One of Romney’s top campaign advisers was also a lobbyist for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Basically what’s going on here with talking points and connections is an example of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. Everyone is scrambling to find evidence to confirm the Trump-as-Putin’s proxy hypothesis that they’re ignoring contrary evidence on one hand, and on the other hand ignoring all the other business that American companies are doing with Russia in spite of the sanctions. Perhaps it’s comforting to some to believe that it’s just Trump doing business with dictators.

Are you denying that Russia is trying to influence the election?

No, they almost certainly are. But how effective their efforts will be really depends on the reaction from the Democrats. First on the matter of the emails- while they don’t contain anything terribly scandalous, the fact is that they were written. They might have been exposed by dirty means, but that does not make them squeaky clean themselves. The Democrats chose to favor someone with a poor reputation amid voters, someone who comes off as feeling entitled to the presidency and who does not feel accountable for her actions. Now they are choosing to make this election about Russia and Putin instead of pressing domestic issues. Russia can’t make them lose the election; only they can do that.

And that seems to be what they’re doing. In the wake of the email attack, the best response would have been to publicly say something like: “Awww isn’t that cute? They think they’re a superpower!” Then move on. Get back on message. The Kremlin relies on being seen as more powerful, more dangerous than it is. The only tactics it has against the vastly superior forces opposing it are passive-aggressive trolling, hysterical ranting about WWII and nuclear weapons, and pathetic stunts like this email hack. They want attention, they want to be seen as a great power, and nothing makes them angrier than aiming a salvo right at their raging inferiority complex. Conversely, panicking and acting as though Putin is secretly manipulating the US is something that will make every Kremlin propagandist positively orgasmic.

I suspect this advice will fall on deaf ears though. We’re not talking about a campaign that is known for accountability, and more importantly, focusing on Putin and foreign policy is a great way to distract from the fact that Clinton has no plan for America. The best reason to vote for her is that she is not Trump, period.

 

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28 thoughts on “Trump & Putin: Final Summary

  1. AndyT

    Really, one would think seasoned politicians should know better.

    Also, I cannot grasp all of this “Trump and Putin”-themed scaremongering.

    Just think a minute, folks.

    How could Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rhetoric and his isolationist remarks ever go hand in hand?

    The slightest provocation from Russia, China or every other Country would drive his fanbase nuts – and it would require a quick, muscular and highly-publicized reaction from President Trump, wouldn’t it?

    He could never say “Oh well” and do nothing – many “‘Murica’s best” supporters would call for him to be empeached – and a House and Senate filled with Democrats and hostile Republicans would be glad to embark on such an endeavour.

    IMHO, Trump talks about most of the “correct” issues… in the wrongest possible way.

    As you have pointed out, Clinton’s only edge over Trump is… well… not being Trump.

    However… I’ve been spending some time on Quora, recently – and “lesser evilist” calls on Sanders’s supporters to rally behind Clinton are having mixed results.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Exactly. Trump will say isolationist things, but he’s admired for his “tough guy” swagger- no different than George W. Bush, who also made famous isolationist-sounding statements during his campaign in 2000. And of course war is a great way to distract from failures at home, but who knows? Maybe Democrats think that Trump’s domestic policies will be a smashing success.

      Reply
    2. wildthang

      “As you have pointed out, Clinton’s only edge over Trump is… well… not being Trump.”

      There is another factor, she has also female reproductive organs… that’s about it tho

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Are you saying Trump DOESN’T have female reproductive organs? Because he does. I assure you. They are YUGE! The most fantastic female reproductive organs ever. Losers are jealous of them!

      2. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

        “I’m not sure relying too heavily on the “woman card” might help her, actually…”

        If you think the appeal of having the first woman President *to women voters* is nothing then I have a Bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

    3. Gorwin Peter

      Trump’s overt pleas for Russia to hack the DNC, flies in the face of Watergate and the Nixon administration’s considerable efforts to keep such mischief a secret. Many of todays young voters aren’t aware of the nuances of that event, and it would behove the “Bernie or bust” wing of the democrats in particular to watch “All the Presidents Men.” Also, those thinking about voting for the Libertarian or Green Parties should study how George Bush won his first election in 2000 when Ralph Nader pulled all too many votes. For some, all that is ancient history now. (It’s alright to vote with one’s heart and follow one’s ideals, but sometimes it’s necessary to vote with one’s head. Hillary isn’t being foolish, but the “Bernie or Bust” are being, as Sarah says, being ridiculous.

      http://www.salon.com/2016/07/27/bigger_than_watergate_the_russian_orchestrated_dnc_email_hack_places_our_national_sovereignty_at_stake/

      In a recent interview on the CBS “This Morning,” Norah O’Donnell asked Paul Manafort, chair of Trump’s campaign, whether Trump has financial connections to Russian Oligarchs. 

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-tax-returns-russia

      Manafort insisted that Trump had no reason to release his tax records as all other past candidates for the Presidency, that the release of such tax information would reveal no such Russian connections, and that Trump assured him that no such Russian connections have existed. Nonetheless, Manafort has his own share of Russian skeletons in his closet along with many other fascist skeletons as well, some playing into Trump’s contention that as president that he would bring back torture, that contention after previous Republican Presidents have struggled to deny that any of their torture existed in the first place. Norah O’Donnell, though headed in the right direction, failed to vigorously follow up.

      In order to downplay any connections that he now has or ever has had with Russia, after earlier bragging about how impressed he was with Putin upon meeting him, Trump now contends that he has never met Putin.

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-never-met-putin-fact-check

      and

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-putin-yes-it-s-really-a-thing

      One of the greatest ironies about Trump and his subversive Russian connections is Trump’s close relationship with old Roy Cohen, one of the chief counsels for Joe McCarthy during his quest to prosecute Americans during the 50’s who he believed had subversive, Russian connections.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/us/politics/donald-trump-roy-cohn.html?_r=0

      Reply
  2. Josh Cohen

    Spot on as always. Also worth mentioning that this whole Cold War 2 stuff is nonsense too. Russia has just a fraction of the economic and military power USSR did, and they have no alternative ideology to offer eithere. In sum, this Cold War2 – that implicitly makes them seem like equals – is really the wrong approach.

    Reply
  3. Vooks

    The point is politics takes more than polished speeches; you have to strike a distinct chord in the hearts of the electorate. Is there any single thing Hillary is saying that the average guy can EASILY identify with?

    Reply
  4. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    Sorry Jim but you must be watching a different election to me.

    “The Hillary campaign is making it such a focal point”

    Actually no, it’s the media doing that. The campaign, the actual campaign, has made one very weak ‘we have concerns’ type statement on one show. It’s not front and centre at the DNC. You know why? Because that is about HRC and uplifting her and personalising her and driving down her negatives. There’s actually very little about Trump at the DNC because Trump’s negatives speak for themselves. The media will continue on Trump over this – for one thing because he’s practically taunting them to – especially over the taxes issue. The media also has a responsibility to cover it because such blatant foreign interference hasn’t been seen since The Guardian tried it on in one Ohio County in 2004. IOW, it’s news.

    “Trump spends virtually all his time talking about domestic issues.”

    Their talking point today is ‘how come they’re not talking about ISIS at the DNC?’ Trump’s RNC fear laden speech was ISIS-this, ISIS-that. He wants to ban Muslims from *foreign* countries …

    I can see you’re a Bernie fan. So answer me this then, how come Sanders never got the black vote, which is the bedrock of Democrat victories, particularly black women? Surely Bernie’s economic appeal should resonate with black people? Are black people stupid or what?

    Moore’s theory and this wider idea of Trump’s appeal being to economic anxiety totally discounts the racial anxiety and the actual content of his speeches, which are all about blaming ‘the other’, White people, which is who he is appealing to and his base, are barely mentioned in media because they’re the default. The media has spent months and will spend months excusing and dismissing Trump’s out and out appeal being based in part on race. The base that FoxNews has spent 20 years stoking up. Also, Trump’s policies, which are about transferring even more wealth to the rich, will get smothered because of this narrative.

    At the DNC we had Bernie supporters chanting ‘TTP! TTP! TTP!’ over Elijah Cummings talking about voter suppression. After the nomination when they left and occupied the media tent they had a ‘No justice, no peace!’ banner. It was the perfect vignette for how out-of-touch Bernistans were on race..

    I agree with everything you say about how wrong it is to say that Trump must be pro-Putin – Galeotti is making similar points on how Russian interference could obviously back fire on them – with one caveat. Apparently all his debt is Russian because US banks won’t lend to him. This may well be why he won;t release financial details and that does imply some real-world Russian leverage.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I’m primarily a media critic, especially media that relates to Russia. If Hillary and the DNC aren’t making a big deal of this- good. Let them continue to do so.

      As for Bernie not getting the minority vote, I’d chalk that up to his relative obscurity prior to the campaign and the general belief in the electability of Clinton. I don’t blame anyone for that- I thought she’d win by a blowout myself.

      You have to realize that many of these Bernie-or-bust fanatics are people who probably never really did any work in real politics before. Now they’re disappointed that things didn’t work out their way. This attitude has been on the rise in America for quite some time, and as we see- not only on the left. Matt Taibbi almost perfectly nails this new American attitude in his book The Great Derangement.

      Reply
    2. sglover

      Sanders got plenty of **younger** black voters. But Clinton apologists need to obfuscate that.

      In the same fashion, it’s incredibly disingenuous to say that it’s “the media” puffing up the Trump-Putin entente. Krugman’s been hyperventilating about it for a week. He seems to be repeating allegations, wholesale, from the Talking Points Memo guy. Are you seriously going to claim that those are anything other than party hacks? (Yeah, yeah, Krugman has his “Nobel Prize”, he’s a “scientist”, the man is simply beyond question. ) Otherwise, when I look at, say, Reuters or Deutsche Welle or the Guardian — you know, the media — they treat the supposed Russian hack episode as merely one more story among the dozens that happen every hour.

      Trump’s loathesome, our own Berlusconi, no doubt. I think it’s still likely that Clinton will win. Of course, since I expect her to wade into yet another idiotic war within six months, it’s hard to see a Clinton win as anything to be happy about. But also, the special thing about Clinton is that she is almost uniquely capable of losing an election that really ought to be a Dem bustout. Leave aside her demonstrated incapacity to learn from mistakes (e.g., Iraq –> Libya –> Syria). She has so much sleaze and self-dealing in her past that she guarantees the biggest October Surprise since ’80.

      And JK is absolutely right that if/when it happens, Dem “leaders” will blame everyone and everything but themselves.

      Reply
  5. Asehpe

    One way in which doing this (stressing Putin-Trump relations, or simply ‘playing the Russia card’) might work is that there are many low-information conservative Americans who do care about Russia — they care about (or even know) anything that is happening there, but because they grew up being told that Russia was ‘the enemy’ — Red Russia, the commies, etc. To stoke this fire again might work just because of this prior prompting. Downplay ‘this Putin guy’ and stress ‘Russia the enemy’ (with Trump as a collaborator, actively asking for further meddling, hacking, spying, etc.), and this might get them more votes.

    Reply
    1. AndyT

      It might well be the case, indeed – those folks’ hate for Russia – and China, and Iran, and whoever opposes the U.S. – is so strong they may end up dropping him as a hot potato, should they be persuaded a Trump presidency could actually bolster foreign powers’ influence.

      Reply
  6. fapper

    This is when the Dems remind voters of Reagan, and how he would be turning in his grave at Trump’s call to Russian hackers.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: They pull me back in… | Russia Without BS

  8. Pingback: The Real Paranoia-Inducing Purpose of Russian Hacks – YouNuz

  9. Gorwin Peter

    Trump’s overt pleas for Russia to hack the DNC, flies in the face of Watergate and the Nixon administration’s considerable efforts to keep such mischief a secret. Many of todays young voters aren’t aware of the nuances of that event, and it would behove the “Bernie or bust” wing of the democrats in particular to watch “All the Presidents Men.” Also, those thinking about voting for the Libertarian or Green Parties should study how George Bush won his first election in 2000 when Ralph Nader pulled all too many votes. For some, all that is ancient history now. (It’s alright to vote with one’s heart and follow one’s ideals, but sometimes it’s necessary to vote with one’s head. Hillary isn’t being foolish, but the “Bernie or Bust” are being, as Sarah says, being ridiculous.

    http://www.salon.com/2016/07/27/bigger_than_watergate_the_russian_orchestrated_dnc_email_hack_places_our_national_sovereignty_at_stake/

    In a recent interview on the CBS “This Morning,” Norah O’Donnell asked Paul Manafort, chair of Trump’s campaign, whether Trump has financial connections to Russian Oligarchs. 

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-tax-returns-russia

    Manafort insisted that Trump had no reason to release his tax records as all other past candidates for the Presidency, that the release of such tax information would reveal no such Russian connections, and that Trump assured him that no such Russian connections have existed. Nonetheless, Manafort has his own share of Russian skeletons in his closet along with many other fascist skeletons as well, some playing into Trump’s contention that as president that he would bring back torture, that contention after previous Republican Presidents have struggled to deny that any of their torture existed in the first place. Norah O’Donnell, though headed in the right direction, failed to vigorously follow up.

    In order to downplay any connections that he now has or ever has had with Russia, after earlier bragging about how impressed he was with Putin upon meeting him, Trump now contends that he has never met Putin.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-never-met-putin-fact-check

    and

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-putin-yes-it-s-really-a-thing

    One of the greatest ironies about Trump and his subversive Russian connections is Trump’s close relationship with old Roy Cohen, one of the chief counsels for Joe McCarthy during his quest to prosecute Americans during the 50’s who he believed had subversive, Russian connections.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/us/politics/donald-trump-roy-cohn.html?_r=0

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Putin and Trump’s bad bromance

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