An interview with Putin in 2035

Good morning. This is Natalia Smirnov with Fox/ RT News. I am here with Tsar Vladimir Putin in the first of a series of interviews looking back on his career. Good morning Comrade Tsar.

Q – Comrade Tsar, what do you see as your greatest achievement?
A – I believe the reconstitution of the New Soviet Republic. We are once again a country of great importance.

Q – What were the key events leading to this ascension?
A – Clearly, the fall of a united west was most critical, but that took a lot of planning. I also believe our alliance with China helped show the world that we are the future.

Q – You mention a lot of planning, what do you mean by that?
A – It took proactive and reactive planning to accomplish our goals without using military might. My training allowed us to take advantage of social media to spread our messages and take advantage of opportunities.

Q – You mention opportunitues . What do you mean?
A – The crisis in Syria allowed us to gain a new friend, but expose Europe to millions of refugees that strained their economic and political systems. Brexit was another key as it greatly weakened the UK which is now down to England and Wales, but also damaged the EU. Clearly, getting a friend in the US White House who was malleable was a huge plus. The disruptive influence weakened both the west and the US. It enabled us to form an alliance with the US, especially when their debt overwhelmed their ability to do things.

Q – What were some of the obstacles?
A – We had to take the good with the bad. Having a US leader we could influence was good, but his unpredictable behavior added chaos to the equation. We learned to stroke his ego to get what we wanted. Another is France, Germany, Canada and Japan don’t always go along with us and China. Since the US became an autocracy, they are a better partner.

Q – One final question for this session. What concerns you most?
A – Sadly, it is water and food supplies. We have way too much sea water and too little fresh water. These desalination plants cost a lot of money. And, the world has had to relocate too many people from coastal cities. Look at the US city Miami – it is disappearing right in front of us. Plus, we are having to grow more and more crops indoors. With the loss of bees and hotter climates, growing crops outside is a challenge.

Thank you for your time Comrade Tsar. We look forward to our next visit.

Too often we miss the point

Between tribal politics and some media too aligned with tribes, we miss the key points. Examples are in abundance.

On the Greenland issue, the issue is not wanting to buy Greenland, which other presidents have voiced. The issue is how it was raised. The president was scheduled to visit Denmark. The time and place to broach the subject was face-to-face. And, if the answer was no, the president could have been prepared to discuss a joint investment. All of this could have been done without offending a key ally.

Brazilian president Jari Bolsonaro has decided that the burning Amazon is not good for optics. Yet, the concern is it horrible for the planet. Now, he says he will accept the financial help from the G7 if French president Emmanuel Macron apologizes. The planet’s lung is burning – fix the problem. Your ego is secondary.

British prime minister Boris Johnson keeps  saying a no-deal Brexit is manageable. This runs counter to what CEOs are saying. Don’t tell us it is, tell us what you plan to do to mitigate the problems. The point is Brexit is a huge undertaking and it continues to appear the UK government is ill-equipped to address this. So, until Johnson is more forthcoming, Brits should  be skeptical. Suspending parliament is an autocratic move, the US president would envy.

Oh, Prince Andrew. You can say you did not do what you have been accused, but footage of you seems to betray your words. Jeffrey Epstein was someone you should not have been around. The fact two famous womanizers – Bill Clinton and Donald Trump – did so does not help your argument. The point is why do important men believe they can treat people like they own them and get away with it? Sadly, until the people who aid, abet and hide these crimes stop, these high powered men will continue to do so.

Finally, why is the US president such an errand boy for Russia? Here is a country that attacked the US to influence the election and is continuing to do so. They are denying travel visas to members of Congress which has Congress in a bipartisan uproar. So, the president is insistent that Russia rejoin the G7 glossing over why they were kicked out. Why is Trump so rewarding of Russia? That is the point. A clear message from the Mueller report is the significant level of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Those are the points that need to be made. And, we need leaders and the better media to step up and make them.

A bellwether event

In a sea of bad news last week for the US President, a bellwether event occurred as to why this man does not deserve to be the incumbent. A bellwether is something that is an “indicator or predictor of other events.” It is getting more press and even overshadows the event where and when it occurred.

At the unsuccessful conference with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, which the President’s own staff forewarned him of beforehand, the President took the word of Kim that he did not know of the maltreatment of American prisoner Otto Warmbier. This maltreatment led, first to Warmbier’s coma, and then his death once he returned home. The parents of Warmbier took issue with Trump’s siding with Kim, a man known for squelching the smallest of dissent or less than enthusiastic applause with murder. Killing his half-brother and uncle are just two examples of his evil nature. Even Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy took issue with Trump’s acquiescence to Kim. He is not alone.

In the Washington Post,  Kathleen Parker’s editorial called “The president’s lying ears,” called the President on the carpet for this and other transgressions where he sided with despots over the advice of his own intelligence staff. Parker references “Trump’s strange attraction to tyrants, dictators, murderers and thieves.”  She goes on to say “Trump believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denied knowing about Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. And, he believed Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he denied knowing anything about the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”

“At the same time Trump believed their lies, he disbelieved the conclusions of American intelligence agencies, which, in each case, pointed a finger at the top guys. How could it be otherwise?”  Before he passed away, Senator John McCain called the President on the carpet for his weak-kneed acquiescence to Putin in Helsinki. I so wish McCain was alive today, as he would again vilify Trump for his lack of support for Americans and America. He might say hugging the flag at CPAC won’t erase the malevolence of your actions to our country.

Yet, an article, by a regional libertarian thinker and humorist named Keith Larson, who does a podcast along with weekly articles, called “A proud deranged American,” adds the flavor in McCain’s absence. Apparently, the MAGA cap wearers have called him “deranged” for saying something similar to Parker. His response includes the following:

“I thought expecting a president of the United States to stand up for Americans against brutal dictators was central to conservatism…I thought seeing soldiers – even, and perhaps, especially, those who fell into enemy hands – as heroes, was part and parcel to patriotism….Kim Jong Un is a murderous despotic dictator, the president of the United States has become his fawning publicist, and anyone who can’t abide him and his presidency has a Derangement Syndrome.”

“Life, in Donald Trump’s America. Where I’m proud to be deranged.”

These are not fake news stories, as Trump likes to claim about any bad press. He said the words and has not defended Americans or America. He is everything Michael Cohen said and more, which is not a very flattering picture. But, even if he were not a “racist, con man and a cheat,” not standing up for our citizens and country is not very presidential, nor is it courageous. It is weak. Acting tough to cheering crowds does not make up for that weakness. Nor does hugging the flag.

 

 

Anatomy of a Liar

One of the biggest factors of more autocratic governments is difficulty with the truth. Vladimir Putin, for example, may be the world’s most adroit liar. This is a key reason that the US President’s frequent problem with the truth give people concern over where the country is headed.

Looking at the anatomy of a liar, several things jump out. At the center of these untruthful leaders is a large ego that bristles at any kind of criticism. For this very reason, a liar tends to take credit for all things good and deflect blame to others for all things bad. Close to home, it is not uncommon for the US President to claim things he did not work on as “disasters” and things he did as “beautiful” or the “best ever.”

A favorite tactic of a liar is to keep things simple and repeat it over and over again. Using labels and calling people names are key parts of this strategy. When delivered with bombast, these lies seem very convincing. Smugness is also a common tactic to delivery. Smugness and bombast do not make you right, but unfortunately people are fooled by them. As for Trump, when he punctuates a thought with “believe me,” he is most likely lying.

In today’s news, several lies are jumping off the page. Saudi Arabia continues to come up with a changing storyline on the killing and dismembering of a reporter. Putin continues to deny strong evidence he tried to poison a former Russian agent on British soil and interfere in the 2016 US election. He also tried to interfere in the French election, but Macron’s people knew this and placed incorrect emails in the trove they stole to lessen the impact.

As for Trump, he lies everyday at a rate of more than 2 out of 3 statements per Politifacts. He is even worse at his pep rallies, where he lies 3 out of 4 times. I have long ago stopped believing anything Putin says. I also chose to do the same with Trump. To be trusted, one has to be trustworthy. And, therein lies the rub.

The tribal BS must stop

America’s governmental leaders have become so polarized with a tribal mentality, it is to the point of dysfunction. This has been a negative trend for some time, predating the rise of the lightning rod US President. His style in the role of leader has only made things more divisive.

This tribal BS has to stop. I am an Independent voter who left the Republican Party over ten years ago. I chose not to rejoin the Democrat Party of which I was a member in my early adult years. I define myself as fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I think many people are mixes of various degrees of beliefs. So, being an Independent better fit my belief construct.

I do not mind people being more conservative or liberal than I am. What I do mind is so-called leaders not using facts to make decisions and in some cases lying about or oversimplifying the causes of problems. It is hard enough to govern with facts, but nigh impossible when you don’t. And, what is also frustrating is some of these so-called leaders know better, but their funders told them to believe the opposite of what is true or more true.

Neither party has all of the good ideas and both have some bad ones. This statement is worth re-reading for emphasis. It is important to note, a key reason I left the Republican Party was its tendency to make things up abetted biased news sources. That coupled with their stance on climate change were deal breakers for me.

Both parties have been untruthful and will continue to be such. Yet, it frustrates me that my old party has deviated greatly from what they were. It is now the Trump Party and many more Independents are former Republicans. The number of Conservative pundits who actively do not support the GOP is telling – Will, Gerson, Erickson, Brooks, Schmidt, et al.

But, Democrats must not govern as Republicans have done the past few years. They must focus on the issues and help get things done. Our country must have collaboration or lasting changes will not occur. Leaders must follow process. Any time, leaders deviate from normal process, take it to the bank, it is political. Kavanaugh must answer to questions from his accusers, but this should have come up earlier when the hearings were underway. On the flip side, Merrick Garland not have a hearing in 2016 was an injustice, as well.

The tribal BS must stop. Find common ground. Ask good questions and listen to the answers. Insist to our leaders the truth matters. It is a problem the US President lies more than he does not. And, remember the real tribe is the United States of America. If that is not enough, know this, what Vladimir Putin accomplished most through his interference and meddling is helping drive a larger wedge in America and he is still doing it.

McCain offers words of caution on Putin

I was sharing with Roger how some US Republicans have said they hold Vladimir Putin in higher regard than Nancy Pelosi and other US Democrats. In short, these folks are taking their eye off the ball. If they really feel this way, I have serious concerns around their judgment. Why would I say this?

In addition to his bent for invading or infiltrating former Soviet satellites, Putin has a history of ordering the elimination of his opposition. Either by murder, arrest or both, people who criticize the Russian leader have a habit of disappearing. In John McCain’s biography called “The Restless Wave,” he gives the example of Sergei Magnistky, among others, for whom the Magnitsky Act was passed to sanction Russia.

In short, Magnitsky, an auditor, went to bat for a US businessman who did business in Russia. When the businessman tried to extricate himself, his Russian business and its assets were seized by Putin under false pretenses. For his efforts, Magnitsky was jailed, where he was not treated for illnesses and was severely beaten, eventually dying in prison.

As is his nature, Putin took great offense at  the sanctions and made an executive order to cease US adoptions of Russian children.  Why is this important now? When Donald Trump, Junior and Senior, say the meeting at Trump Tower with the Russians was about adoptions, it is really about the existence of the Magnitsky Act and other sanctions that precipitated Putin’s cessation of adoptions.

Per McCain and other sources he cites, Putin, as a self-possessed strong man, reacts to strength, not weakness. He will keep doing what he is doing until the pain exceeds the gain. The sanctions hurt like hell, which is why he takes great offense when they are used, as he did today. So, unless the US punishes Putin for his cyber attack on America to sway public opinion, it will keep occurring with impunity.

The primary reason we know Putin is involved in the cyber attack is he controls everything in Russia. He pays attention to content of the US version of Russian Television so says former US anchors who left as a result. He pays attention to TV sitcoms to make sure they favor Putin on big items, while allowing some small criticism to avoid being too overt per a former producer of TV sitcoms. So, on the most impactful and cost effective tactic in modern warfare, where he can gain a great deal without ever firing a shot, of course, he is intimately involved in puppeteering the ongoing operation.

Putin is a shrewd man. He knows his stances against LGBT people in Russia, as well as repurposing the church as a center of influence, play well to US evangelicals. So, as he does his part to help break up western alliances and diminish democracies, as he is doing in the US, he is positioning himself as a global statesman.

Finally, there are two cautions from McCain we should heed. First, the source of the Steele Dossier about the Russians potential compromising information on the US President, Christopher Steele is a well-regarded professional, so says Sir Andrew Wood, former UK Ambassador to Russia. Issue has been made that the dossier was paid for as opposition research by first Republican opponents of Trump, but then by Clinton. But, McCain and Wood felt the dossier has enough veracity to get in the hands of the FBI.

Second, Putin views acquiescence as weakness. So, the US President’s fawning over Putin in Helsinki revealed Trump’s weakness. It was so weak, Putin actually walked away with too much (think about the sitcom story above), as it caused a backlash from the US Congress. He would have been better served if Trump appeared tougher towards Putin.

Trump contends there is pushback on his meeting with Putin. Of course, we should talk with other leaders who are at odds with is. I have not heard criticism of two parties talking. The criticism has been over being prepared and not being fooled. Putin, and Kim before him, have studied and prepared for such a meeting. The US President brags on winging it. That is not a good bargaining strategy.

Sunday seasoning

Sunday is a good day to simmer something slowly in the crock pot. With judicious seasoning, the aroma permeates the house until dinner time. Now that I made you hungry for pot roast or stew, here are a few seasonings to sample.

It is nice to see Tiger Woods competing for The Open Championship at the northern most venue in the world at Carnoustie in Scotland. For more than a decade, Woods was more successful than any other golfer in history. Unfortunately, injuries and personal issues derailed him from more major victories that would help him overtake the impressive record of Jack Nicklaus. It is good to see him back on the leaderboard.

The unraveling continues with the US President. Not only did he bully his allies, he appeared very weak in the face of Vladimir Putin. What should not be lost is by throwing his intelligence people and country under the bus, he has made even more Americans believe he may be compromised by the Russians. It has been reported that we may see some more departures from his White House, as it is quite apparent, he will throw anyone under the bus to save face.

The best feel good story of the year has been the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team. What should not be understated is the significant amount of cross country collaboration and reliance on people who had expertise to figure out the best path forward. To me, this is an exemplar as the antithesis of Donald Trump’s “go-it-alone and I-know-best” approach. Collaboration is hard work, but when nurtured and seasoned can do wondrous things.

In this same vein, another large ego, Elon Musk, showed his disappointment that the Thai rescue crew did not use Musk’s expensive technology based idea. To his credit, Musk has done wonderful things for the world and wanted to help. Yet, I mention this as the most elegant solution is not always the most sophisticated one. The term “elegant” is used in computer programming to mean the easiest and most effective solution. In this case, the safest solution was arrived at after much debate by people on the ground who were more knowledgeable of the risks.

This reminds me of the story of the child who solved a problem with a delivery truck that was just a tad to tall for an overpass it tried to go under. Everyone was stymied at what to do. After much discussion, a child who had been watching opined that they should let enough air out of the tires to lower the truck and they could drive it out. Now, that is elegant. It also worked.