Tag Archives: Trump

So You Live in a Dictatorship Part III: Impunity

So recent domestic news has compelled me to write another entry in a series I dubbed “So You Live in a Dictatorship” (see the category list on the side bar for previous entries). Since it’s been a long time since the last entry in the series, let me recap it’s purpose. Since the election of Donald Trump, many Americans seem to be reeling from the new normal of politics. Well what seems novel for you isn’t for those of us who have lived under real dictatorships. Therefore using my experience from living under the Putin regime, I decided to help my fellow Americans understand what to expect as the tactics of foreign authoritarian kleptocratic dictators become commonplace in American politics. You’re welcome for my service.

Given the nature of the news cycle these days and the sheer amount of idiocy it brings on a daily basis, you might have either missed this particular item or perhaps you heard about it, rolled your eyes, and braced yourself for the next scandal, still bracing yourself for the very real possibility that the nation will one day be faced with photographs of Trump’s dick.

footballman

Yes, this manufactured scandal was also in the news again this week.

Yet as eye-explodingly bad as that apocalypse will be, and rest assured it is almost certainly going to happen, you should not ignore the story about Trump’s pardon of whackjob conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.

Some of my friends consider Trump’s pardon of Arizona ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be worse, but comparisons are irrelevant. What matters is a pattern here. Even if Trump cannot pardon himself, he can certainly pardon numerous passengers in the clown car he brought to Washington. This includes those would already pleaded guilty, like Michael Flynn, those under investigation like Paul Manafort, and those who are likely to get indicted like Michael Cohen.

The basis for Trump’s pardoning, regardless of whether the person was rightfully convicted or in D’Souza’s case, pleaded guilty, is that the courts were being “unfair.” Trump constantly uses this word “unfair,” like a little child whining on the playground. Yes, these days conservatives are extremely concerned about fairness, except when it comes to things like poverty or racial equality.

What does unfair really mean to these people? Well if they lose, in anything at all, then it was unfair. Someone cheated. It’s rigged. Moreover, it seems that the new permutation of conservative, particularly of the Boomer Tea Party variety, is that everyone they don’t like needs to go to jail, best exemplified with the campaign chant “Lock her up!” By the same token, if one of their conservative heroes is convicted of a crime or even if they plead guilty- it was “unfair.” If Hillary Clinton is still free, it’s because the courts and Justice System, including those officials appointed by Trump, are corrupt, as are those who prosecute or investigate Trump and other conservative figures. Yes, there’s a vast conspiracy against conservatives in America, and yet they somehow manage to control all three branches of government despite regularly getting fewer votes. Those poor souls.

Now obviously giving the president such powers to pardon was one of the Framers’ dumbest ideas, and certainly Democratic presidents have had their share of questionable pardons. But like previous Republican presidents, pardons usually came as they were leaving office, and they were not announced in such a way as to signal to supporters the way Trump has done by pardoning people like Arpaio or worse- D’Souza. Yes, I said D’Souza was worse because not only did he plead guilty to a crime, but he also had virtually no interaction with Trump until recently. In other words, Trump decided he likes D’Souza, so D’Souza was “treated unfairly” and deserves a pardon. What this will quickly lead to if it continues is a serious breakdown in the rule of law.

I guarantee you that if this kind of thing does not get nipped in the bud, any Republican president will use it almost constantly. I’d say the same of hypothetical Democrat presidents, except that in such a scenario I don’t really see one getting elected anytime soon. Once you are basically ready to abuse the justice system in this way, there’s virtually nothing to stop your minions from employing every dirty trick in the book to ensure your perpetual victory at the polls.

Of course abusing pardons would only be a first step towards a dictatorial system like that of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. Things tend to get really bad when prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement come under the control of a particular party. We can see how we are certainly moving in that direction with Trump, particularly in the judiciary and with law enforcement as well.

What all this leads to is more corruption and repression due to impunity. Impunity for those who engage in corruption or who support the regime against its opponents, and arbitrary harassment and suppression of dissidents. As one Russian friend of mine put it in a conversation about how this impunity works in Russia, the leadership sends signals to certain people that they can act against designated opponents of the regime and act in their own self-interests without any negative consequences. As a corollary, if anyone should push back against them, the system with its organs of legal violence will have their back. This kind of set up is why you never hear of something like Alexei Navalny decking some pro-Putin activist for trying to throw green dye on him. Navalny knows very well that in that case he’d be locked up for sure. In fact his whole organization might be rolled up and declared “extremist.”

Things don’t look too good right now, but there is a slight glimmer of hope. So far Trump’s only starting to complete one half of the equation- letting cronies get away with criminal activity. And even here he’s not entirely in control. For some reason he has not yet sacked Mueller, even though to the dismay of pussy hat-wearing wine moms everywhere, he almost certainly could without endangering his presidency. No, the shit hits the fan only when the dictator is able to direct the security services against enemies, either to convict them on dubious charges or simply harass and intimidate them. That’s the signal for open season on dissidents. Loyal self-anointed “patriots” will start doing the regime’s dirty work knowing that not only will they probably go unpunished or at most receive a slap on the wrist, but also that if their targets fight back, they will be the ones facing the full force of the law.

And if this doesn’t happen under Trump, rest assured that even Democrat administrations could pave the way for this kind of scenario in the future. In the past Democrats have often supported increased powers for domestic spying and crackdowns on whistle blowers and leakers, often for the most short-sighted reasons. In fact they have even done so under Trump, demonstrating how they are fully capable of moving the ball forward in that direction.

Thus, be on guard not only for actions in this vein coming from the Republicans and Trump, but also from their useful idiots in the Democratic party. Yes, we have these institutions that are supposed to prevent the scenario I have described here, but only a fool would put so much faith in institutions. Institutions are, after all, made up of people, and oftentimes those people care far more about their own power within those institutions than fulfilling the task for which the institution was originally intended.

 

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Guest Column: #TrumpRussia – Doing the Math

Today’s post is by Rick Chaplet, Twitter personality, motivational speaker, life coach, and management consultant. Enjoy

True patriots, the time has come to end this charade that currently calls itself #TheResistance. I have been monitoring the investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties ever since 2015, and it has become abundantly clear that the very same people who bill themselves as truthseekers and patriots against Russia’s legion of Cyrillic kompromat specialists are themselves nothing but useful idiots of the Chekists. Louise Mensch, Eric “Game Theory” Garland, John Schindler- all dupes of Team Deza.

How do I know? Well it’s quite simple, folks. I’m ahead of the game. While they’re playing checkers, I’m playing Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins on a Game Boy I bought off eBay. That’s why I’m able to spot the inconsistencies and subtle flaws in their so-called “investigations,” and more importantly I’m able to add it all up in order to see the big picture, which is in fact a mosaic whose tiles are tiny puzzle pieces. Any single piece, i.e. flaw, is meaningless when taken by itself. But woven together they make a Persian rug with an unmistakable design. I’m here to tie those threads together for you now.

I have expertise in such matters, more importantly, I have the key that unlocks the puzzle. You see Garland promised his “game theory” would explain the cat’s cradle-like connections between Trump and Putin, but he left out the map that leads to the treasure at the end of the rainbow- mathematics! And I can assure you, dear truthseeker- that was no accident. He left it out on purpose because his KGB masters in the Lubyanka. They wanted him to lead you astray. Well I’m here to bring you back on the path towards the pot of gold that lies at the end of the rainbow and is full of truth, not gold. Strap yourself in because you’re about to crash through the looking glass like an 80’s action hero as you tumble down a rabid rabbit hole of an investigation fueled solely by Country Time Lemonade and crystal meth.

The code is the in the numbers, people. You focus on the letters, the words, and you miss everything. That’s what Mensch, Garland, Schindler, and the whole Maskirovka Menagerie want you to miss. They spell it out- I add it up. Let’s start with the basics.

First we start with the two main players in the game, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. T-R-U-M-P is five letters, P-U-T-I-N is also five letters. This proves Trump’s collusion with Putin so decisively I could just as well end this investigation right here, but I’m going to do you one better and run everything down for you in lurid detail, because America demands that I do nothing less.

DONALD = Six letters.

VLADIMIR = Eight letters.

No match, right? WRONG! If we render the name Donald in its original Irish Gaelic, we get DONAILDH- the missing letters add up to eight!

So what we have here are two inextricably linked players in the game whose names add up to the same amount of letters. But what happens when we add them together?

PUTIN = 5

TRUMP = 5

5 + 5 = 10

What is the significance of the number ten, in Russian culture? Ten is the traditional number of dolls in the Russian matryoshka or nesting doll. You might be surprised to learn that matryoshkya is in fact an earlier, Old Russian word for maskirovka, which roughly translates as “pee tape blackmail operation.” You might be surprised, but not me, because I study this stuff for a living. I poured my heart and soul into this investigation because I love my country more than I love living with my wife and 8-year-old daughter or even just being within 200 yards of them. I’m sorry honey, but I told you and Ashley not to come between me and the republic. You were warned.

Moving on.

Now we must add Vladimir to Irish Donald.

VLADIMIR = 8

DHONALDH = 8

8 + 8 = 16 < Keep this in mind.

Vladimir translates roughly to “ruler of the world” or “ruler of the peace.” It’s pretty clear Putin wants to become the former, and ever since his KGB days in Dresden he has had a plan to compromise a US president because it’s the only way he could ever realize his goal. But it turns out there are some other famous Russians with the first name Vladimir. Ever hear of this obscure guy named VLADIMIR LENIN? It’s fine if you haven’t. I wouldn’t expect you to know him. I do, however. Lenin’s revolution led to the creation of the Soviet Union. Now most people think the Soviet Union consisted of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics. Well guess what- at one time they had something called the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic, giving the Union a total of…remember that figure from earlier? SIXTEEN. But we’ve only scratched the surface. We must go deeper. The only way to get to where we’re going is by going through the planet core.

We already mentioned Lenin, first name VLADIMIR. Who was, up until recently when he became a liability, Trump’s right hand man in the White House? Steve Bannon. Bannon, once called himself a Leninist. I don’t know how he could have made it any clearer. Now let’s take Bannon’s name and crunch the numbers.

BANNON = 6 letters

KGB = 3 letters

GRU = 3 letters

KGB + GRU = 6 letters Q.E.D.

Is it starting to add up now, dear readers? Am I still a “nutjob,” Anne? AM I? WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER MY EMAILS? THE COURT ORDER SAYS NOTHING ABOUT EMAILS?! 

Speaking of emails, let’s go to the money shot of Russia’s 2016 election black op- the hacking of the DNC and the leak of their internal emails.

In order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s impending victory, the Russians had to not only hack her emails, but also create a massive dezinformatsiya operation to increase the severity. For example, they spread the rumor that the Democrats were running a child sex slavery ring out of a DC restaurant known as Comet Ping Pong Pizza. In reality, there is a child sex slave ring that runs out of the basement of a restaurant, but it’s actually run by the Russian FSB (today’s successor to the KGB, which Putin used to work for) and it’s a Denny’s, not a pizza joint. But I digress. Obviously a restaurant that traffics in child sex slaves would only appeal to one target demographic- pedophiles. There once was a really famous book about a pedophile called Lolita. The author’s first name? VLADIMIR!  Are the scales falling from your eyes yet? Are you starting to see the big picture or are you still floundering about in haze generated by a Chekist smoke machine?

Back to the numbers. EMAIL is five letters. TRUMP = Five letters. PUTIN = Five letters. Add them all up:

5 + 5 + 5 = 15

Fifteen- the number of union republics in the Soviet Union throughout most of its existence. That’s not just a solid thread, it’s a strand of high-tensile piano wire linking Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin so tightly that any denier who might try to ride a motorcycle of doubt underneath would be decapitated by THE TRUTH.

Getting back to the campaign, Russia had another secret ace up its sleeve- racism. You see, America has always been about different ethnic and religious groups getting along in harmony and celebrating freedom together. So much so that just writing that sentence nearly brings a tear to my eye. Oh sure, there’s been some grumbling in the past, but on the whole it has been a long roller coaster ride of liberty and justice for all. The problem is that the Russians, first as the Soviet Union and then as Putin’s Russia AKA USSR 2.0, have always sought to amplify discontent into calls for revolution. The last time such activity peaked was back in the 1960’s, when Team Deza started running psyops on American soil. Luckily a great liberal and a true believer in the national security state named Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to realize his dream of equality for all. On that day, he defeated racism in America once and for all. That is until 2015, when Putin’s resurgent Russia resurrected racial hatred from the dead like a necromancer or Zeus in the classic Sega side-scroller Altered Beast.

Obviously Russia’s new intel assets in the United States had to be careful about being identified, so they used coded symbols and terminology. The Pepe frog and words like “cuck” (slang for ‘comrade,’ a term of address in the SOVIET UNION) are examples of these tactics. Again- do the math.

PEPE = four letters

CUCK = four letters

4 + 4 = eight letters

Whose name has eight letters? Oh right? VLADIMIR Putin’s name!

It only gets more frightening from here on out, folks.

We already established that VLADIMIR is eight letters. What is the eighth letter of the alphabet? It’s H. Neo-Nazis often use the number 88, because it is HH, for “Heil Hitler.” Putin. Hitler. Alt-right Nazis.

But there’s more. Look at the word ‘racism.’ The C is pronounced like an S, just like in Cyrillic, an alphabet associated with authoritarianism and designed so as to suppress individual thought. Suppose we pronounce the A like the A in ‘father.’ RAS-ism. Now what is Russia called in the Russian language? ROSSIYA. Doesn’t that sound like our word ‘racism,’ only with a different ending? Also, RACISM and ROSSIYA are the same amount of letters if you had the silent Latin H to the former, making it HRACISM.

It’s screaming right in your face, the same way I screamed at Anne, but she wouldn’t believe me because the Chekists must have gotten kompromat on her just like they get it on everybody.

Everybody but me, that is. That’s because I’m off the grid. Everything’s encrypted. I won’t even look at an image of Putin because I know the FSB inserts micro-print hypnotic messages into every official photo of the Ke-Ge-Beshnik-in-chief.

800px-Vladimir_Putin_-_2006

Viewed safely through a special lens I crafted myself, I can tell you that the pattern in the tie contains the repeated message “Kill your wife and daugher, Rick. Do it and you’ll be free.” Nice try, Team Deza. 

Everything in existence is reducible to numbers. Everything can be explained by math one way or another. All the nonsense of the Kremlin-operated media like CNN or MSNBC that talks of business ties and hotels in Moscow is nothing but pablum- pig slop fed to the sheeple who jostle for a spot at the trough of dezinformatsiya. The numbers are what tie the whole thing together like a rug in the middle of a room.

Anyone who tells you they understand Trump’s Russia ties without mention the code is a false prophet- plain and simple. And since we live in a world where coincidences area thing of the past, you can bet they’re trying to distract you on purpose. Why? because their part of the system- Russia’s 100-year-old system of global covert operations. Their agents are numerous and can be anybody you can imagine. Doctors, lawyers, policemen, your neighbor, a fast-food cashier, the guy who spends too much time at the bus stop near my house, divorce lawyers, court-appointed anger management therapists- anyone. Trust no one, not even me. The computer you’re reading this on could have been compromised by the Chekists using their ingenious malware tools such as Kaspersky Labs, Vkontakte, and Bonzi Buddy. I recommend you destroy the device you read this on and be sure to boil its storage hardware for 30 minutes before smashing it. Anything less and you could become a target too.

I must go now. I know that Team Deza will stop at nothing to silence me. I’ve already got a bug-out bag and several disguises. In 48 hours I’ll be a ghost, like I never existed. I can only apologize to the two women in my life for the sacrifices I had to make for the sake of our great nation. I love you, Anne, and my precious daughter Ashley, but there’s another woman in my life who is under threat, and her name is Lady Liberty.

And VLADIMIR PUTIN, if you’re reading this, I only have one thing to say to you- My name is Rick Chaplet, don’t forget it. All your nefarious plans are about to go down in flames, and I’m the guy with the match!

 

Rick Chaplet was a motivational speaker, life coach, and management consultant who made a living advising executives from Fortune 500 companies, including some of the most innovative Silicon Valley tech firms. After sending this article to be published on Russia Without BS, Chaplet was tragically shot and killed by police after he barricaded himself in a Denny’s restaurant which he claimed was actually an FSB front for a child sex trafficking ring. Investigators refuted Chaplet’s claim, stating that while the management of the restaurant was in fact found to be using the facility as cover for a sex trafficking business, there was no evidence connecting them to Russian intelligence services. 

This post is dedicated to the memory of Richard Chaplet, 1976-2017. RIP

Gotcha!

 

If I had to name one of the saddest, most useless tactics in the toolbox of Democrats/liberals, it would be those “Gotcha!” moments- pointing out the hypocrisy of their right wing and far right wing opponents. Take a look on Twitter some time and see liberal responses to President Pumpkin-face’s dainty curtsy for the Saudi King to see what I mean:

For the readers that aren’t aware, during his first Middle Eastern trip in 2009, Barack Obama made a shallow respectful bow upon greeting the Saudi monarch. The conservative mediasphere when nuts. Naturally they aren’t doing that now in response to Trump and if you managed to corner any conservative and demand an explanation they’d probably give you a rambling response about how Donald was just making it easier for the King to put the medal over his head before changing the subject to something else entirely.

Knowing this, however, I’m pressed to imagine exactly what liberals think would happen by pointing this out. Are they expecting to see conservatives respond with something like: “You know you liberals have got a point there! We made such a big deal of Obama just trying to show some courtesy to an important ally and friend of the Bush family, and it was all over nothing! I hope you can forgive us for flying off the handle that time! We’ll try to be more consistent with our outrage in the future!”

The point here is that just as basic facts don’t sway opinions for most people, pointing out even the most glaring hypocrisy can be just as useless. Even when that non-scandal with Obama took place in 2009, I predicted that there would have been outrage either way. That is to say if Obama hadn’t made any bow and just greeted the Saudi King as Westerners greet one another, Fox News and the army of conservative pundits would have screamed themselves red in the face about how the President disrespected this “valuable ally” and important partner. I’m sure some of them would have certainly declared the slight so serious as to jeopardize the War on Terror and by extension, America’s security.

These people weren’t genuinely angry about Obama being seen as submissive to a foreign leader (because normal, informed people don’t see the gesture that way at all), the point is that it was Obama, leader of the opposing team, and thus everything he does or doesn’t do is terrible and with malicious intent. And in spite of all that vaunted formal education, liberals totally missed this point and seemingly built an industry of cataloging each and every single time conservatives contradicted themselves, as though any of these people even cared about being consistent. The pundits who produce this manufactured outrage on the right are well-paid to do so. They aren’t so much as representing a coherent ideology as they are serving their purpose, which is getting masses of people to vote for the GOP and, quite often, policies which actually go against their own self-interest. I’m not saying that none of those pundits and columnists have some genuine, sincerely-held beliefs, but rather that they aren’t terribly concerned with being morally or ideologically consistent.

Realistically speaking, most people don’t have any coherent political worldview. The severe limitations on political participation and the pressures of capitalism mean that even in the most developed liberal democracies, the majority of people just “aren’t into politics.” With so many people posting political memes and sharing political stories it might seem that they are, but if you really look at what’s being shared most of it is simply bullshit. It’s clickbait, typically designed to provoke outrage or to stroke the reader’s ego for being on the “right” side. In other words- this isn’t politics but entertainment, in some cases highly-addictive entertainment. As such, it sort of resembles another form of popular entertainment- professional sports.

If you watch professional sports, you’ll notice that even casual fans balk at referees when they call fouls or penalties against their team. Sometimes, after watching the replay, they’ll acknowledge that the call was justified, but more often than not the immediate reaction to a call against a fan’s team is “bullshit!” When you’re rooting for a team, what matters is that they win. I’ve never heard of a sports fan who worries that their team might push the rules or even break them without getting caught. For a more extreme example of this just look at last year’s doping scandal in Russia. There people flat-out broke rules in a big way, and yet a good portion of people just alleged that there was an anti-Russian conspiracy and that Western athletes were getting away with the same thing (they weren’t, actually).

Obviously the world of sports doesn’t translate over to the world of politics very well. Here it’s supposed to be about ideas, values, worldviews. If you’re trying to convince people that your side is morally right (as has been the case for a long time now), you ought to be consistent in regards to your values. Ought to be is the key phrase there. In reality we’ve long passed the point where consistency matters. And yet you still have liberals saying things like “How can you be so opposed to abortion and not want to help poor women who keep the babies as you demand? Sounds like someone’s a hypocrite!” Poor liberals. As a great baseball player once put it- they think it don’t be like it is, but it do.

I must confess that I’m guilty of playing the “Gotcha!” game with hypocrisy. Who isn’t? It’s one of the easiest games to play. It’s not entirely useless either. Part of the reason why it matters to me is that I actually care about having a morally consistent worldview, and that worldview has actually evolved radically over time as a result. Plus pointing out hypocrisy is useful for youth and people who are politically undecided. If you’re not really that involved, you might steer clear of a movement which demands ideological conformity yet openly betrays its own values. In this sense it is like fact-checking, which is still useful and important even if it doesn’t actually help persuade people on a large scale.

But that being said, pointing out hypocrisy can’t really be a winning or even effective strategy, and it certainly can’t be a replacement for having one’s own internally consistent set of values. American Democrats spent years relying on snark and the “Gotcha” approach, trusting that the glaring hypocrisy of the right would attract more people to their side. In the end, it was their own hypocrisy of claiming to care about the working class and the poor while constantly kowtowing to super-rich donors that was one of the most decisive factors in their pathetic defeat.

 

 

 

Didn’t I Warn You?

So today I woke up to find out that His Orangeness launched a series of cruise missile strikes against Assad’s military airfields in Syria.

I must say this was a bit unexpected, but look who we’re talking about here. But then again, I did predict something like this, as one Twitter follower reminded me:

That old tweet of mine was based on Trump’s assertion that he’d shoot down Russian planes for buzzing American ships in the Black Sea, something which, incidentally, isn’t really justifiable. So yes, I’m going to gloat about predicting this, because in general the situation developed more or less as I thought it would, if only a bit more quickly.

If you had been reading my blog during the run-up to the election, I wrote about how the idea of a grand bargain and partnership between Putin and Trump was highly unlikely. Trump might personally deal with Putin, if only because he loves people who flatter him, but contrary to the beliefs of Trump supporters, he is only a man with limited powers in a big, institutional system. Far more important is the fact that Trump’s whole campaign was based on this idea that America sucks, and he’s going to make it great again. When it came to foreign policy, the line was that America was weak, “always losing,” etc., and this was emboldening America’s enemies. One Trump ad even pegged Putin as one of those enemies.

Trump’s tough-guy routine and his tough-guy wannabe supporters pretty much guaranteed that he would clash with Putin over some issue at some point. It was inevitable. As I’ve written plenty of times before, there really is no foreign policy the United States can pursue that would appeal to Russia save for total isolationism, which looks like submission in the minds of Trump and Trumpkins. Since the latter are basically of a similar mindset, submission is anathema, and any military action is better than none at all.  It’s also interesting to note that the Trump State Department has had tough words for Putin over Ukraine, though I doubt the US will back those words with deeds apart from very incremental targeted sanctions. From the look of things, Putin still has a free hand to wreak havoc in the Donbas.

Still, this Syria operation is a major propaganda defeat for Putin. Remember, the Russian state media worked people into a euphoria over Trump in the weeks running up to the election. High profile personalities in Moscow’s circles of power cheered his victory, including the aforementioned Margarita Simonyan, head of RT. Pro-government astroturf activists actually threw a victory party for him in Moscow. And, although we cannot say that Russia swayed the election in favor of Trump, they certainly tried.

Now what have they got for all that ass-kissing? If we were to adopt the hilariously self-owning terminology of the alt-right, I’d say they got cucked. Hard. Truly this is the Great Cuckening. Up till now, Putin was winning in Syria propaganda-wise, and propaganda is everything to his regime. The United States and the rest of the West appeared impotent. They couldn’t establish a no-fly zone, they couldn’t save Aleppo, and Russia was dictating events on the ground in spite of some setbacks. This proved Russia was a great power capable of projecting military force and of course Putin is the wise chess player orchestrating it all. Then suddenly Cheeto Benito comes in from out of nowhere and bombs the shit out of Assad’s airfields. Those super-deadly S-300 SAM systems the Russians sent were useless. Supposedly the US warned Russia ahead of the strike but that’s even worse. The Americans tell the Great Leader Putin that they’re about to plaster his ally with Tomahawks and all he can do is maybe plead with them a bit before giving in and hanging his head in shame. That doesn’t go over well with the fanboys, be they vatniks in Russia or alt-righties in the West.

putincuck

Even worse for Putin is the fact that there’s not much he can do about this. I’m afraid at most he’ll try to ratchet up the violence in Ukraine, knowing that the US isn’t nearly as interested in Eastern Europe, but he’s already suffered a minor defeat there now that Ukraine got visa free travel to the EU. Chicken Littles are already screaming about how we’re on the eve of WWIII, but what they fail to realize is that Putin’s military, compared to the US and the rest of NATO, is a paper tiger. He could cause a fair bit of damage early on, but he wouldn’t be able to sustain such a war and his ruling class won’t allow it. And with Putin’s upcoming election and rising protest sentiments, the Kremlin media’s going to be scrambling to spin this and other inconvenient facts.

While I don’t trust Trump’s ability to solve the issue of Syria any more than I trust in his abilities to understand the basic duties of his office, this latest action shows how a moronic elephant bumbling around in a china shop can sometimes produce some positive results.

 

The Evidence is Piling Up

 

Last week it seemed like every morning I’d wake up to find that another member of the Trump administration or his campaign team has been linked to high-level officials in the Russian government. We’ve already had one resignation because of such connections. It’s hard to tell where the fire is, but there’s definitely smoke.

Readers will remember that when the topic of the so-called Trump-Putin “bromance” surfaced during the election, I urged caution. Talking about Trump and Putin is kind of like a spectrum where you don’t want to ignore the connections, but at the same time you don’t want to overstate them. On one hand, there are legitimate concerns about Russian meddling in the election (which nevertheless did not win it for Trump), but on the other if you go around connecting every possible “dot” you might end up going paranoid and inventing some kind of bizarre conspiracy where Trump became a Russian puppet long before the rise of Vladimir Putin. And that, of course, would be just plain nutty!

Oh. Uh…Okay then. Let’s move on.

As we tumble down Trump’s Russian rabbit hole it’s useful to listen to a voice of reason, which when it comes to Russia topics is typically Mark Galeotti. In a blog piece Mark points out the roots of this Russian influence:

“The steady drumbeat of Russian contacts with Trump’s team on one level should not surprise. The Russians – like most real and wannabe global powers – assiduously network, hoping to gather insights and make connections that can later be parlayed into access and impact. This is, however, a case study of the way that the dirty little vices of modern democracy, from the inter-connectivity of transnational and untransparent business interests to the use of money and flattery to buy a voice, all the ways in which democracy becomes distorted by money, serve as a force multiplier for predatory authoritarian kleptocracies.

In fact, my view is that for the West today, the greatest security threat is not Russian tanks or Russian disinformation, it is our own corruption – and the ways Russia seeks to use it.”

I for one am just thrilled to see Mark drawing ever nearer to the conclusion that we must overthrow the capitalist system, and welcome him as a comrade in the glorious struggle! Seriously though, Mark’s pointing out the thing a lot of these status-quo think tank liberals don’t want to admit. For them it would be lovely if this is all a sinister plot cooked up by former KGB officer Putin driven by his proto-fascist Ivan Ilyin-inspired ideology. Because if that were the case, there’d be no need to indict the “Free-market-uber-alles,” managed democratic capitalist system we live in for being so wonderfully accommodating to kleptocrats, dictators, and war criminals (or in Putin’s case, all three!). In that case, it would be only a matter of bad people with bad ideas, people who could theoretically by displaced by good capitalists and good liberals who play by the rules and maintain the status quo.

But if Trump’s Russia connections aren’t necessarily some sinister plot, and he’s not a puppet of Putin being held in check due to fear of blackmail (which I highly doubt- see previous post), does it make sense to keep digging deeper into the case? Will anything be found that warrants such scrutiny, will it be worth it? My answer is…Wait for it…Yes.

Yes, there are good reasons to get to the bottom of this case, and I will enumerate them below:

First, Trump has, perhaps mostly unwittingly, helped Putin advance his foreign policy goals with his refusal to seriously criticize Putin at almost every conceivable opportunity. He has helped Putin by being an incompetent moron, thus paralyzing the US government and public and keeping them too occupied cleaning up the domestic mess he has made to worry about what Putin is doing abroad. You know how the administration suddenly reverted to supporting the status quo on sanctions over Ukraine, and specifically the Crimea? I don’t think for second that this had anything to do with the administration finally recognizing the need to get tough on Putin. They simply reverted to the status quo because they’re too occupied with the grease fire they’ve started at home and that status quo was never that tough to begin with. Putin has engaged in several aggressive actions in the Donbas recently, no doubt feeling secure in the knowledge that Trump is unlikely to make any move against him for the foreseeable future.

Second, even if Trump never intended to make conciliatory deals with Russia, the way he talked no doubt told certain Russian officials that there would be a possibility of concessions. This would have emboldened them. Had Trump been as bellicose about Russia as he was about Mexico during the campaign, the Kremlin might have preferred a much more cautious approach.The fact that they haven’t been cautious at all suggests confidence.

Third, let us imagine for the moment that all of these connections we see, while unethical, never led to anything seriously illegal or compromising to national security. If that turns out to be the case, who’s to say the next administration doesn’t do the same thing with a foreign government, only that time they go further and cross the boundary from highly questionable to straight up illegal or even treasonous? If Trump’s Russia connections are nothing but smoke with no fire, the only way we’re going to know is after a thorough investigation. If that investigation never happens, it basically opens up such relations to both parties, and from there it’s only a matter of time before someone pushes the limit further. Coming down hard on the Trump administration is how we hopefully nip this kind of thing in the bud. We already have enough problems with our government carrying on friendly relations with unsavory regimes.

So yeah, this is definitely worth looking at. It is an investigation best left to professionals, both in and out of law enforcement. That means no journalists or “game theorists” connecting dots on Twitter, and yes, it rules out a serial shitposter such as myself.

You and I can do two things in this fight- push representatives, investigative journalists, etc. to keep digging, and then sit back with a big bowl of popcorn and watch the Trump administration go down in flames. If we’re really lucky, Trump’s clothes may one day match the color of his face. But if not, at least every American politician will be afraid to walk within ten meters of any Russian government official.*

 

*Except Dana Rohrabacher, because he’s an utter imbecile.

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!”

 

 

How Putin “Won”

So about eight days into his first term and Trump has already managed to spark nationwide protests, rebellion within the government, a constitutional crisis, and he may have already committed an impeachable offense (apart from being utterly incompetent and unfit to serve in any public office whatsoever).

And while this was happening, there was a seriously escalation in the fighting around the town of Avdiivka in Ukraine. As a result, the government has been talking about evacuating the town’s population after Russian shelling knocked out its power and heating. When I was in Avdiivka, I’d been told that the town had lost water and power for a significant amount of time in the past, but as far as I know full evacuation was not mentioned. The situation now is most likely more serious due to the low temperature and the scale of the damage to the vital infrastructure. If authorities do decide to completely evacuate the town, this means the transfer of between 16,000 to 20,000 people.

Naturally, with all the Trump/Putin conspiracy theories still fresh in everyone’s minds, there’s a lot of speculation that this has something to do with the two presidents’ telephone conversation a few days ago. My take? Yes and no. Trump, who claimed that Putin would respect the United States if he were elected president, could have warned Putin about any provocative moves in Ukraine. He could have made it clear that escalation means increased consequences. While we don’t know what was said, it’s fairly safe to assume Trump issued no such warning to Putin. That is on Trump. But some kind of grand bargain in Ukraine? That’s unlikely.

It’s important to keep in mind the context of the recent fighting. The Russian forces have suffered several embarrassing setbacks, one of which was recently in Avdiivka. Naturally, they are thirsting for revenge and no doubt want to take back at least some of the territory they’d lost. Since this process started quite some time before the phone conversation, we can’t quite attribute the most recent escalation to something Trump told Putin. Again, if anything it was what he didn’t say to the Russian president.

That being said, let’s get one thing straight- Putin is benefiting from Trump being in office, and it’s not because they’re ideological blood brothers or because Putin has “kompromat” (blackmail material) on Trump.

During the election, when the Trump/Putin “bromance” became a meme, I gave an opinion as to what the Kremlin sees in Trump, and I think the past week’s events have tentatively confirmed that hypothesis. In short, I wrote that the Kremlin most likely sees Trump as the incompetent buffoon that he is, but more importantly they see him as a highly polarizing and controversial figure who will create so much scandal and discord with his domestic policies so as to distract him and much of the American establishment from foreign policy. It’s not that the truly intelligent people in the Kremlin believed that Trump would give them what they want, but rather he wouldn’t be able to stop them, and he’d keep anyone who might be able occupied as they react to his bumbling idiocy.

And look what we’ve got here? The orange moron almost immediately plunges the whole country into confusion to the point where pretty much the entire American media has forgotten that there’s a war going on in Europe which has killed nearly 10,000 people. Sweet deal for Putin.

But that’s not all! Trump’s clowning serves the Russian state media’s narrative that democracy is nothing but a corrupt circus everywhere. In reality, the infighting we see in the US government at the moment is actually a positive thing- it’s what proves our institutions and laws still matter more than the will of one deranged man in the Oval Office. But Russian state TV will spin this as the dreaded “chaos,” and disorder- both the opposites of the precious and holy “stability” which only Putin provides. In other words, they’ll portray it as an even bigger version of a Ukrainian Rada fistfight and tell their viewers that America is falling apart.

And what I cannot stress enough is that none of this requires Trump to be a true lover of Putin, and ideological soulmate, or an agent carrying out the Kremlin’s orders because he thinks they have footage of him getting pissed on by prostitutes (as though the release of such a tape could faze Trump). Trump just being Trump is all it takes.

If you’re still not convinced, look at it this way- suppose there’s a parallel universe Trump who’s totally identical to our Trump except for one difference. Instead of the praise of Putin and promises to better relations, he takes a hardline anti-Putin, anti-Russia stance. Now since this Trump does everything else the same, do you see him pushing aside everything that’s going on at the moment in order to make a firm statement about what went on in Ukraine in the past couple days? Would interrupt everything he’s been doing to start drawing up new sanctions? Of course not. Roughly ten days ago the guy was whining about how big his inauguration was, and now he’s in even more hot water.

In a way, this is even worse than if Trump were a pro-Putin agent. Today it’s Avdiivka, but in a few weeks some other part of the globe might ignite and meanwhile the president’s too busy explaining how he “never said” something that he’d actually said dozens of times on camera.

What to do? Well obviously Americans can’t stop their resistance now just to focus on Ukraine, Syria, or any other country, but it’s worth bringing those issues into the larger conversation. This is a president who campaigned on being a tough guy who would make dictators respect America. Instead he’s making them laugh and letting them do as they please. That needs to be added to the long list of Trump’s offenses.