The Bulls*** and the Bear

Watching the third presidential debate last night was painful. I have never been one to yell at the TV, but last night was an exception. I have never seen such bold-faced lies and outright hypocrisy in my life than what I heard from Hillary Clinton. Even after all the Wikileaks revelations and the O’Keefe documentary, the woman had the audacity to proclaim that political graft and corruption must be brought to an end, and she’s the one to do it. Confronted with her own words about wanting open borders for the entire western hemisphere, without pause or expression she attempted to shrug it off by saying that she was referring to open borders for energy… I was unaware that energy has hitherto required visa sponsorship to enter the United States.

I was absolutely aghast at the way in which she was permitted to prance around on stage spewing forth one lie after another, one distortion after the next, spin after spin. And Trump, I am sorry to say, allowed her to get away with it. Cato the Elder, seeing a great threat to Rome looming in the rise of Carthage after the Second Punic War, finished every one of his speeches in the Senate with the following reminder – “Ceterum censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam” (By the way, Carthage must be destroyed). Trump should have finished every one of his answers last night with the words, “By the way, Secretary Clinton should be in prison because X,” substituting a different crime for X each time he uttered the phrase. Last night, he needed to lay siege to her candidacy and salt the political stage so that her campaign would never be able to rise again from the ashes like the daemonic phoenix it’s shown itself to be. I regret to say that that is not what happened.

Above all else, though, one thing bothered me the most about last night’s debate. And that is, yet again, the use of the Russian bogey man by Secretary Clinton to distract the electorate from her own crimes. Last night, it was taken to a new level. And it must be said that this incessant prodding and poking of the Russian bear has become dangerous. Watching last night’s debate from Russia, how could it be possible not to come to the conclusion that if Hillary Clinton gets into the White House, there will be no negotiations, there will be no diplomacy, there will be only conflict. Clinton calls Putin a dictator and a criminal, an oppressor of journalists, minorities, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, asexuals, pansexuals, archipelagosexuals – whether by meiosis or mitosis – you name it, Putin oppresses it. And we know what she wants done with people she talks about in these terms – “We came, we saw, he died.”

But Russia is not Libya. It is not Syria. It is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Russia has a nuclear arsenal on par with that of the United States with advanced delivery systems. It has an enormous conventional military with a reserve corps. double or triple that size. If she really wanted the Russian people to have political change, she and her colleagues would stop pushing for interference in their internal affairs. Nothing rallies the Russians together like the threat of a foreign power. Any idiot in Washington who assumes otherwise is ignorant of history.

But that really doesn’t surprise me. Clinton and the neo-liberal ideologues that orbit her gravitational lust for power are people who surround themselves with exiled dissidents with agendas of their own who will say whatever needs to be said and offer whatever reassurances they deem necessary in order to obtain the material support of Washington. From Aristagoras to Ahmed Chalabi, ill-advised and ill-fated interventions have been made on behalf of such wily con-men, or at least on the basis of their fairy tails and assurances. The troop of opposition ‘leaders’ caught marching into and out of the US embassy during the last round of protests in Moscow at the time of Putin’s reelection no doubt made the same type of promises and proclamations to then ambassador McFaul as the two men I named above made to the Greeks, or to the Bush administration, respectively.

Clinton’s comments came just days after President Obama, himself, made several statements in a speech denouncing Donald Trump with which he predictably continued the policy of bear-bating, and kindly set the stage for Secretary Clinton to do the same last night, making sure the echo chamber was adequately primed with the proper reverberations going into the debate. While certainly not new to US politics, this rhetorical hostility to Russia has been increasing in frequency since the end of 2013 (maybe it has something to do with this) and now, against the backdrop of the presidential election campaigns and the unfolding debacle in Syria, it has reached a fever pitch.

Given the level contempt the establishment has for both the Russian leadership and the populist/nationalist candidate, Donald Trump, it was probably inevitable from the start that the regime’s opposition to one would at some point dovetail with its opposition to the other. The Trump-Putin meme which they have crafted, and with which we are all now familiar, is incessantly repeated and harped on by the media and politicians so often that it has become not only possible, but normal to transition directly from a discussion of Donald Trump to one about Vladimir Putin and Russia or vice versa as fluently as one transitions from a discussion of the weather to one’s weekend plans. The elite and their media propagandists are doing their best to turn “Putin and Trump” into a pairing as natural and reflexive to the American mind as peanut butter and jelly or death and taxes.

This is despite the fact that Trump has only ever said that the US and Russia should work with one another in partnership rather than against one another as adversaries because the United States and Russia share so many interests (especially with regard to security) and that Obama is a weaker leader than Vladimir Putin. Putin, for his part, has only ever referred to Trump as a talented individual. Nothing more. Actually, why not let Putin’s own words speak for themselves on this matter:

“Why do you twist my words?” Putin asked in response to CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria’s question concerning his alleged praise for Donald Trump. He continued:

I said Trump is a bright person. And what, is he not bright? He is. I did not attribute any other characteristics to him. But what I especially pay attention to and what I welcome, and I don’t see anything wrong here, – is that Mr. Trump announced that he is ready for a full-scale restoration of Russian-American relations. What is wrong with this? We never interfere in the internal processes of other countries, let alone those of the United States. But we will work with any president, whom the American people choose.

Now it remains to compare this characterization of what was said, with what was actually said and determine for ourselves the extent of Putin’s praise for Trump.

He is a very bright person, talented, without any doubt. It is not our business to determine his suitability [to be president], this is the business of the American electorate, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says that he wants to come to another level of relations, closer and deeper relations with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this.

With the exception of the remark about Trump being the absolute leader of the presidential race, this statement is exactly as Putin later described. But insofar as it pertains to that remark, it is important to frame it within the context of the time in which it was said. Putin said this in December 2015, when Donald Trump was leading his closest competitor in the polls, Ted Cruz, by 20 points. A Google search of “Donald Trump December 2015 polling numbers” returns such headlines as “Donald Trump Dominates GOP Field Heading Into 2016” -(CNN).

There is little here to indicate that Putin is championing Trump’s cause. He makes it clear that he is glad to hear, as any world leader surely would be, that a possible future president of the United States is willing to work with his country in a constructive and amicable partnership. Is there anyone, aside from the most hawkish of the effeminate, pencil-necked bureaucrats in Washington, that would not like to see this? Wasn’t it, after all, during Obama’s first term as president, led by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, that Washington tried for a rapprochement (or a “reset,” as they called it) with Russia? That attempt, if in fact it was sincere, clearly failed – another example of the massive incompetence Trump brings up so often.

At any rate, Putin points out that he himself is ready to work with whomever the American people elect. That doesn’t sound quite as ominous as it’s been made out to be by the American press. Nor does the press ever mention that Vladimir Putin also stated, in his exchange with Zakaria, that he was “thankful” toward former president Bill Clinton for the “warm relations” between Russia and the United States during the 1990’s.

In fact, Time Magazine’s 2007 ‘Person of the Year’ article on Vladimir Putin by Adi Ignatius and Richard Stengel mentions an anecdote Putin relayed to them while they interviewed the Russian president over dinner:

Putin tells us how, at an APEC dinner in which he was feeling somewhat lost, Clinton crossed the room past other world leaders and leaned down to talk to him. “Volodya,” Clinton said, using the familiar form of the name Vladimir, “I suggest we walk out together from this room.” Putin rose to his feet, and the two men strolled out together. “Everyone applauded,” Putin recalls. “I will remember that forever.” It was Putin’s only sign of softness during the 3 1/2 hours we spoke.

Interestingly, that same article goes on to mention another of Putin’s relationships with a US president. “Clinton was not the only American who found something to like about Putin,” the author tells us. He then reminds readers of a statement by George W. Bush about the Russian leader:

I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy… I was able to get a sense of his soul.

In his turn, the article informs us, Putin was able to pay Bush a compliment as well, saying:

I have a very good personal relationship with Mr. Bush… I consider him a very reliable partner, a man of honor. Yes, Iraq was a mistake, but he is a fair and honest man.

This back and forth of compliments between Putin and US presidents (or potential presidents) is not new. Yet we are led to believe by the Western press, the very same press that wrote the Times’ article I’ve just cited, that this is unprecedented and unacceptable. Even dangerous. In reality, this is called diplomacy. Something which I, and most other rational people, find far preferable to the alternative.

Ignoring reality, however, is something at which Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton, and the majority of the press have grown quite adept. They warn us endlessly that Trumputinism exists, that it is vile, that it is on the rise, and that it puts our democracy at risk (apparently campaign finance fraud, improper handling of classified government secrets, corruption and graft, conspiracy, election fraud, illegal and undeclared wars, warrantless surveillance, porous borders, transference of sovereignty to unaccountable, supranational bureaucratic institutions, and fiscal chaos, by contrast, are just the grease that keeps the cogs of democracy turning).

Everything is blamed on Russia, and Trump is made out to be Russia’s Trojan horse or Manchurian Candidate, busily undermining the American political system – as if the present elite wasn’t already hard at work doing just that. This behavior is known to therapists, to whom I would happily refer about 95% of the upper-echelons of government and media, as “projection.”

Returning from this digression to Obama’s recent anti-Trump speech, he made the following remark:

We think that Russia is a large, important country with a military that is second only to ours and has to be a part of the solution on the world stage rather than part of the problem.

Notice that Obama doesn’t actually go so far as to define what the ‘problem’ is, nor does he offer any insight into the nature of the ‘solution’ he has in mind and in which Russia ought to take part. But the observation that Russia is large is probably the most fact-based statement the president has ever made about that country in at least his second term as president. So I suppose he should be commended for that.

Later, he goes on to say the following:

Mr. Trump’s continued flattery of Mr. Putin and the degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches to politics on Mr. Putin is unprecedented in American politics…

A few observations:

  1. Not a single example demonstrating Trump’s ‘flattery’ is mentioned.
  2. To what policies is he referring? How can a man who is not yet president be modeling policies off of anyone? Obama makes this claim as if he taken the time to sit down and reflect on the effects and direction of a set of policies which (unless I’ve missed something) do not exist.
  3. If he is referring to Trump’s campaign promises, he fails to actually identify in which instances the intent or design of those promises intersect with Putin’s policies as president of Russia. Maybe he’s referring to lower taxes? (Russia’s income tax is at a flat 13%) Or perhaps he’s referring to Putin’s policy toward ISIS? (annihilating them, as Trump promises to do) Or maybe it’s the abstention from regime change that leads to enormous political chaos, violence, and mass demographic displacement… (refer to the NYT op-ed by Putin, mentioned above).

At any rate, I apologize for my rude interruption. Let’s allow the president to speak:

… and is out of step with not just what Democrats think but out of step with what up until the last few months, almost every Republican thought, including some of the ones who are now endorsing Mr. Trump.

That the government and media lie about absolutely everything, but for some reason can be trusted to tell the truth about Russia? That the tea party candidates really represent the Republican grass-roots? That the Bushes and Fox News are actually conservative? That Clinton couldn’t be any worse than Obama? That the justice system still works? That’s an awfully ambiguous statement. But I do hope that Mr. Trump doesn’t wander too far out of step with ordinary Americans, since I get the impression that President Obama and Secretary Clinton don’t much care for his company.

 

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