Hanlon’s Razor

So let’s see- we’ve already had a minor constitutional crisis, a resignation, the appointment of an utterly incompetent person as Secretary of Education, talk of impeachment, a fresh scandal about the president’s ties to the Kremlin…and we’re not even a month in. I’m sure I’ve even missed a few things as well. Who could have possibly predicted that electing a man with zero political experience or knowledge, a man with an obvious personality disorder of some sort, could turn out for the worst?

Since Flynn’s resignation the Russia connection has suddenly been pushed back to the fore once again. At this point it’s not clear whether there will be some sort of investigation, but since Russia’s in the news again, I think it’s important to recap a few points about what those connections mean. In other words…Let’s start with some game theory. 

Seriously though, if you’re reading #theResistance and tracing the red lines that supposedly reveal the complex web of connections between Trump, Putin, and Russian intelligence agencies, do yourself a favor- stop, now. There are some key points you need to understand and they don’t require any Glenn Beck-style charts or diagrams.

First there’s the issue of “kompromat” and potential blackmail against Trump. Supposedly the bombshell is that the Russians might have a video of Trump getting golden showers from prostitutes while at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. The Resistance (probably the most laughably pathetic resistance movements in the history of insurgency) believes that Trump was at some time made aware of this tape, and thus he’s beholden to Vladimir Putin to keep it a secret.

Now before I burst this particular bubble I just want to make something perfectly clear. Do I believe that Trump paid prostitutes to piss on him? Yes. That is totally plausible. Has he done it in his past? I’ve heard that he has. Will the presidency change him or will he continue to enjoy such activities in the future? For all I know, he could be getting a golden shower from a high-class DC escort as I write these words. Yes, I think it’s totally plausible that Trump is into piss, big time. Now do I believe he was recorded during such activities during that particular stay in Moscow in 2013? That I cannot say. Without better evidence we cannot know if that particular pissing incident actually happened, and thus we must default to the negative until we have something concrete. All we know at the moment is that the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in all likelihood probably loves getting pissed on. If anything it would explain the color of his face.

Obviously I’m engaging in a little hyperbole there, but let’s deflate this myth of kompromat once and for all. First of all, yes, it’s quite safe to assume that Moscow’s luxury hotels are all wired for surveillance. However, the alleged incident took place in 2013, long before Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 election. To Moscow, he would be nothing but a prominent American businessman, one who had thus far struggled to get any major projects off the ground in Russia. If the Russians wanted something out of such a man they could have just opened more doors to his business ventures in Moscow- no need for blackmail.

More importantly, there are several more fundamental problems with the kompromat theory, one of which is the question of whether such a video’s release could really embarrass Trump, a man who clearly has no shame. For some weeks now I’ve been able to imagine Trump’s potential explanation. One version has him saying something like:

“Look, folks- I tell it like it is. When you’re a successful businessman, you enjoy the finer things in life. You work hard you play hard, you know? So when I go to Moscow and I’m rubbing elbows with other successful businessmen and some of them tell me these lovely ladies want to meet me, what am I supposed to say? No? Listen, I make deals, it’s what I do. I’m not going to say no and insult them. And let me tell you, in my lifestyle there’s no way you could know that these women were prostitutes. I’ve got women throwing themselves at me all the time. You buy them some drinks, take them for a ride in your limo. It’s not like they say they’re prostitutes and then read you out some kind of price list. When you’re rich and successful they just do whatever you ask. I admit that some things in that video aren’t so politically correct, but when you’re a star you have a totally different life…”

Of course there’s another equally plausible variant Trump might go with- “It wasn’t me.”

 

More accurately, Trump will just call any US media coverage of the tape “fake news,” and his dimwitted followers will repeat it ad infinitum. I’m sure we’ll hear all about how George Soros paid the world’s best special effects experts to fabricate the offending video.

Let’s say you don’t buy my shameless Trump theory. Very well, let’s focus on Putin then. The idea is that Putin can have Trump wrapped around his finger by reminding the Donald about the tape. Can Putin actually make good on that threat? I believe that he can’t. Think about it- Putin releasing the tape proves to the world that the Russian intelligence services are engaging in not only blackmail, but also using blackmail as a means of interfering in the affairs of other sovereign nations. Naturally Russia will deny it, but all across the world even Kremlin-sympathetic politicians will be confronted with undeniable proof that Putin and his cronies are malicious. If anything, it is those politicians who have been most friendly to Putin who have the most to fear. Have they gone on press junkets or other visits to Moscow? Could their rooms have been bugged? What could their Russian “allies” have done to ensure their loyalty? If Putin reveals a tape- he only makes his enemies more resolute and his allies scared. All these politicians will begin to take actions against Russia not because they believe in human rights or even because they love their own countries, but simply to save their own asses. Whatever the motives, Putin loses. So much for the tape then.

Now in the wake of all this controversy, Trump has suddenly decided to talk tough on Russia. The final cucking of the Kremlin (or more accurately those who watch and believe their state-run media) came when the administration announced that sanctions against Russia would remain until Crimea is returned. What then, do we make of this?

Well first of all, I don’t trust Trump any further than I can throw him, and I’m a guy who’s trained in judo. I believe that Trump is saying this to deflect from all the Russia-related controversy he’s generated these past few weeks. He gets attacked so he points to the Obama administration and complains about them. He still hasn’t made any significant criticism of Putin or his actions. Everything is always something else’s fault when you’re in the party of personal responsibility.

That being said, for the time being Ukraine can at least stop worrying about a “grand bargain” that sells them out to Russia. This isn’t much relief, however, because Trump still enables Russia to get away with a lot, but for other reasons.

Hanlon’s Razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” For the Kremlin, Trump’s value isn’t in that he is their agent or at least sympathetic toward Putin; it’s in his belligerence and incompetence.

Long ago I pointed out that if the Kremlin appeared to be supporting Trump, it was only in order to troll Hillary (who they believed would win the election), or because they saw Trump as a highly polarizing, incompetent figure who would tie the US down with so many domestic scandals that it wouldn’t be able to adequately respond to any of Russia’s actions. Indeed, while Russian state media praised Trump to the heavens, the attitudes of Russia’s leadership had always been more cautious, especially as the inauguration approached. The recent statements on sanctions probably confirmed what they already feared about Trump, that he’d maintain the status quo, but at the same time Trump has caused such an uproar over his executive orders and tweets that it’s unlikely a significant portion of the already battered American people will support a tougher line on Russia and strengthened ties to Europe.

Serious analysis says that the Kremlin would have preferred a weakened but predictable Hillary to an unpredictable Trump, but they still “win” because Trump’s scandals make Americans focus inwards. What is more, Trump’s policies will continue the neo-liberal rot that Russia has counted on for nearly two decades now. The free-market dogma destroys societies, spreads cynicism, and thus creates an audience for Russian state propaganda like RT and Sputnik. And at the very least, Trump’s antics allow Russia’s TV propagandists to tell viewers: “You think America is so great? Look how they’re run by a complete buffoon! That’s what their so-called democracy gets you!” Even if he’s impeached the Kremlin media will find a way to spin it so it fits their general narrative- “democracy is a sham!”

 

 

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42 thoughts on “Hanlon’s Razor

  1. AndyT

    Regardless of one’s views on Donald Trump, no one can say his Presidency it has already been an eventuful one 😛

    Jokes aside, I completely agree with your closing remarks: a Trump Administration is highly unlikely to tackle the neo-liberal dogma – he’s a billionaire leading a group of billionaires, how might it be different?

    I’m still wondering how people – both in the U.S. and abroad – might have thought he was going to “drain the swamp”…

    Reply
  2. Callum C.

    I was under the impression recently that the piss tapes were sort of secondary to the allegations that Russian oil assets had conspicuously changed hands.

    Not saying this is 100% true, but the one consistent thing about Trumps choices as president is that they pretty much all favor the petroleum industry.

    I also liked how Putin couldn’t quite resist bragging about how awesome Russian prostitutes were while denying the piss tapes existence.

    Reply
  3. gbd_crwx

    Btw, even if he likes golden showers, that is his business, isn’t it. I mean if we are to embrace LGBTQ+ rights in other parts of society, we can’t go puritanical in this case just because it’s Trump.

    Reply
    1. AndyT

      Exactly – Evangelicals have already shown a high degree of “adjustment”, so to speak, by endorsing Trump (whose behaviours and attitudes hardly match their ethics); I don’t think such a discovery could change much.

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      One is not born a piss-lover, to the best of my knowledge. I’d be more inclined to let it go if it weren’t for the fact that he’s head of the “party of family values” and he got massive Christian support. I’d even ignore the prostitution issue in this case because I’m quite sure that the sort of escorts he would have had are well paid and probably work strictly for themselves rather than a pimp.

      Reply
      1. gbd_crwx

        I think the piss thing wheter true or not is a distraction. That by itself I think would not get him inpeached, but I wonder if some of those other stuff he did would. Anyway, I do think there is something fishy about his attitude against Mr P. It seems so out of character to be so smooth against him.

  4. Mr. Hack

    ‘Do I believe that Trump paid prostitutes to piss on him? Yes. That is totally plausible. Has he done it in his past? I’ve heard that he has.’

    Having heard that there were sexual favors performed by high price call girls during one of Trump’s visits to Moscow was not unbelievable. But, as I’ve not yet heard of ‘golden showers’ before, my curiosity was excited by your own beliefs here Jim and encouraged me to do a little research to become more informed about this strange subject matter. The best that I’ve been able to come up with is that there’s a report being circulated in Washington that alleges that Trump had paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed that apparently Obama had previously slept in while in Moscow. The report, supposedly is full of suspect and uncorroborated statements and seems to be untrustworthy. Maybe Trump really only got ‘pissed off’ while taking a whiz at the Moscow Ritz Carlton, thinking about his then #1 nemesis, Obama? 🙂

    https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-the-donald-trump-golden-shower-allegation-about-glad-you-asked-29530

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I thought it was obvious that I was taking the piss there (no, I won’t apologize for that pun), but recently I’ve become aware that Trump’s love of showering may have been well known in certain circles as far back as the 1980’s.

      Reply
    2. Brenshar

      The report is raw intelligence data but without any kind of compromising information on the sources and without any evaluation of the source credibility.

      That being said from what I have read some NATO intelligence agencies have corroborated as has the US intelligence community recently.

      And finally the man who compiled the report is a veteran former spy who used to focus on Russia-related affairs and who is considered a trustworthy and sober professional

      Reply
  5. Mr. Hack

    BTW, your main underlying premise to this piece, regarding the unholy alliance between America’s evangelicals and Donald Trump has not gone unappreciated.

    Reply
  6. Brenshar

    If the Russian’s have kompromat and its more serious than Trump’s sexual fetishes then I image they’d release that information via Wikileaks or another third party group?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      They probably would, but even then it would signal to all these Western politicians that everything their media has been saying about this is real, and it could be them next.

      Reply
      1. Dave Thomas

        I disagree with your assessment. Here in Ukraine, we have seen for hundreds (yes, hundreds) of years how various Russian governments (yes, since the days of Bohdan Khmelnytsky) have made false promises, tricked, bribed, blackmailed, lied to, tortured, poisoned, killed, etc ., etc., etc., various politicians. History shows that quite often we’ll only know the truth about what is happening RIGHT NOW, in about 10, 20 or even 50 years. Having said that and with regards to your theory that pro-Russian/Putin Western politicians would be “scared” by a release of a “Golden Shower” video, why were they not “scared” when the Russians released the Pyatt-Nuland phone conversation? Or did they not think that Russia was behind that? Of course they also don’t know that Russia invaded Ukraine and is behind the death of 10,000 Ukrainians, not to mention about 300 passengers of MH17 or that Russian bombing of Syria is killing massive numbers of Syrians thus making the refugee situation in Europe worse. No, of course not, because Putin has denied all of this. Knowing how the Russians have operated for centuries, and especially for the last 100 years, my guess is that many of the pro-Russia politicians are paid off in some way or another: Russian banks financing of Marine LePen’s Front National, Czech President Zeman’s “business” dealings with Russia, etc., etc. Again, only the future will show us just how many politicians really were in the Kremlin’s pocket one way or another. This is not a “conspiracy theory” but rather how the Russians operate and it’s no secret.
        As for the “golden shower”, my guess is that Trump couldn’t care less even it’s true that the Russians have filmed him. Like you said, he can just deny it as “fake news”. Furthermore, he has already done so many things that should have killed his political career (groping women, comes to mind, making fun of disabled people and women, support by KKK, etc.,) that a simple “Golden shower” who probably be very entertaining for his white trash supporters. But my guess is Mr. “Businessman” Trump has been offered a very impressive business “deal” by the Kremlin. Some day we may find out. However, even if he has been made such an offer, the anti-Russian pressure that is on him right now may ruin this “deal” because if it comes between going to jail as a traitor or losing the deal, he will certainly choose the latter.

  7. Jesus herself

    Totally unrelated but I wasn’t sure where else to put this.

    It seems like there’s been a wealth of historical films coming out of Russia in the past half decade or more.
    I’ve seen a few ranging from the great (Attack on Leningrad and Brest Fortress) to the peculiar (that new Stalingrad film) or the plain weird (9th company)
    Hope I didn’t fuck up the English titles too bad.

    Anything to recommend as a decent film without being too jingo?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Generally the best films are those which were joint productions. For example Brest Fortress was a joint production with Belarus. The Battle for Sevastopol, which was a joint Ukrainian-Russian film finished prior to all this mess, is supposed to be very good. It’s the story of Ukrainian female sniper Ludmila Pavlichenko.

      Reply
      1. Callum C

        Oh man I’ve been meaning to see that. The trailers make it look good but I’ve been preparing for disappointmental nonetheless.

        I have liked some recent Russian movies in general (Stilyagi is one of my all time favorites from any country) and some war movies specifically (I actually quite liked 9th company) but I find a lot of them lack tonal control. Like, even more than some recent Hollywood films do.

        The snow white scene in 9th company is a good example of this.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yeah that scene in 9th Company really pissed me off. It was fucking disgusting. Bondarchuk was obviously trying to rip off Full Metal Jacket yet throughout 9th Company it’s clear that he really didn’t understand FMJ and the messages it conveyed.

        I hear the Viking movie might be good. Russian nationalists were pissed at it, so that’s a good sign.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        It’s called Viking and it’s supposed to be about the struggle of Volodymyr to become Grand Prince of Kyiv. Apparently it’s very frank about some of his actions. What’s important to know, however, is that there’s a 12+ version (think PG13 in the US) and a better 18+ version. Obviously you want the latter.

  8. whatdoiknow

    “… But all across the world even Kremlim sympathizers will be confronted with undeniable period that Putin and his cronies are malicious…”

    Yeah, because they had absolutely no proof whatsoever before that would happen…

    Reply
  9. mariinskyrose

    Hi Jim, you have been alluding to your impending move out of Russia and into Ukraine for awhile, but I would like to learn more about this decision you made: your reasons, your “final straws”, the pros of Ukraine as opposed to another country or even back to America etc…I am also interested to know your predictions on Russia’s near and long term future.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I’m already in Ukraine. There wasn’t any last straw, really. I just saw shrinking opportunities and I was getting sick of the attitudes as well as the behavior of employers.That was by early 2016.

      Then I decided I had to do more to help Ukraine, something more hands on. I had to take some time to make more money and do some research first, which is why I didn’t end up arriving until February this year.

      In the near term for Russia it looks like there’s been some recovery due to oil prices, but long term prospects are terminal. They’re trying to re-fight the Cold War from a much weaker position. They have decided that truth doesn’t matter, that objective truth doesn’t exist. Dissent in the circles of power is treated as disloyalty, so Putin is surrounded by sycophants.

      All of these things are a recipe for disaster.

      Reply
  10. Mr. Hack

    Replu to gbd_crwx – Jim’s cover as a ‘pinko global hipster Marxist’ was too incredible to believe
    in the first place. I like his new one, where his grandfather’s Banderite leanings come through:
    ‘Online Self-Radicalized Ukrainian Jihadi’ 🙂

    Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        And ‘Online Self-Radicalized Ukrainian Jihadi’ sounds more as if old Dido was a Banderite (or at least a Petiurite) than a Commie?

  11. Mr. Hack

    Reply to gbd_crwx – Jim’s cover as a ‘pinko global hipster Marxist’ was too incredible to believe
    in the first place. I like his new one, where his grandfather’s Banderite leanings come through:
    ‘Online Self-Radicalized Ukrainian Jihadi’ 🙂

    Reply
    1. Mr. Hack

      ‘It would have been impossible for my grandfather to have been a Banderite. He was in the US as a child.’

      Well, somebody in your family line had to have made it over the pond from Ukraine for you to subscribe to being of Ukrainian descent (if, only partially). And to end up in Phoenix, AZ? I’m currently researching the background of Izydora Kosach Borysova, the sister of Lesya Ukrainka, who apparently lived in Phoenix, Arizona sometime in the 1970’s?…It’s tough patch so far!

      Reply
      1. Mr. Hack

        Hey Jim, I’m not putting words into your mouth now, am I? You really do have some Ukrainian blood in your lineage? Now that you live in Ukraine, you might be able to find any distant relatives…

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I doubt it. That was the rather unlucky side of the family. Besides, the emigrated from what was then Poland ergo I’m guessing any records would have been either destroyed or ended up in a Polish archive of some sort.

        But I truth be told long ago I learned to be comfortable being simply American, in spite of all the international influences on me over the past decade. I could live here another 10 years and I’d probably still be seen as American by most people because let’s face it- that’s the culture I was raised in.

        For me my Ukrainianess will be based on service to Ukraine’s cause and eventually, citizenship.

  12. Pingback: The Evidence is Piling Up | Russia Without BS

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