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Trump’s Refusal to Impose Sanctions on Russia

2018 January 30
by Ian Welsh

He should impose sanctions, not because they are a good idea, but because they passed with a veto-proof majority.

That said, sanctions are a terrible idea. I am aware of no case in which they have not done more harm than good, except possibly South Africa.

Further, the US “punishing” another country for electoral meddling is ludicrous. If this is worthy of punishment, the US is due for sanctions 50 times worse, since they are the world’s leading criminal when it comes to messing with other people’s elections.

One of the few things Trump is doing that is a good thing is trying to keep US/Russian relations from getting any worse.

Maybe he’s doing it for the wrong reasons, but it’s still something worth doing.

Regular reminder: Russia is one of two countries with enough nukes to destroy the world.


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62 Responses leave one →
  1. January 30, 2018

    America deserves to be blown completely up many times over, by nearly everyone. I find myself in the morally complex situation of hoping for the mercy from other peoples that my own culture has never shown to anyone (I am, genetically-speaking, nearly 70% white Northern European and, nationally-speaking, 100% American).

    Punishing Russia because 21% of Americans are stupid enough to think Donald Trump can solve their problems is a disastrous plan. After long consideration, and basing my opinion on my view of Putin and his government as old-fashioned masculist doucherag strongmen who probably think grip strength corresponds to some kind of meaningful personality characteristic, I think our Russian hysteria might be making us look “weak.” We should handle our shit and move on, like grown-ups. Making sure little technical election issues like this can never happen again seems like a much more important priority than passing along economic hardship to poor Russians. Humiliating and unseating Donald Trump because he is a puke-faced, money-laundering, unprosecuted sex criminal also sounds like a nice idea. Preventing Republicans from dismantling the nicer parts of the government while grotesquely empowering the fascist parts is the star I’m reaching for. Pantsing Russia isn’t going to help with any of that (or with the fact that the Democrats keep shoving Hillary Clinton out onto the press stroll even though nearly everyone hates her).

    I would like to apologize in advance for any misspelled words in the above comment, because my autocorrect has developed disassociative personality disorder and I naturally spell like a teabagger.

  2. BlizzardOfOzzz permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Does anyone have a clue what Congress is trying to do with the sanctions? I assume that 1) everyone understands that the stated reasons (“election hacking”) are totally unrelated to the real reasons, whatever they might be, and 2) the safe bet is that this is an AIPAC thing, since Russia is Iran’s ally, which is Israel’s enemy, and the unanimity of the bill is an AIPAC fingerprint (what other lobbying interest owns both parties 100%?).

    So ironically, ostensibly sanctioning Russia for meddling is itself an act of meddling by Israel (although if they could pass an act of Congress unanimously, it were not so much meddling as puppeteering).

  3. Hugh permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Putin is a thug, and Russia is a dictatorship. Russia is not a super power despite its large stockpile of nukes. And sanctions are as good a way as any to curb his pretensions.

    Trump is in the bag for the Russians. I do not know why this is so, whether it is blackmail, driven by his business interests, or part of his dementia. But every time people start talking about him being in the bag for Putin he does something else to show he is in the bag for the Russians.

  4. realitychecker permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Damn clever, that demented Trump./s

    Hey, how about that demented McCabe, and that other demented idiot Love-Strzok?

    Nothing to see there, move along. 🙂

  5. Hugh permalink
    January 30, 2018

    If Trump were a Democrat, his ass would already have been canned, no matter how many appeals to conspiracies fomented by the FBI, the Martians, or those strange creatures from Orion.

  6. realitychecker permalink
    January 30, 2018

    You don’t think Trump could have survived getting caught sticking a cigar into a young intern’s naughty bits in the Oval Office? Duly noted lol.

    You’re better than this.

    Turn on your TV, and see who is looking demented.

    The Dem leaders look awfully sour as Trump truthfully cites the record low numbers on black and Hispanic unemployment. Fucking hilarious, but also demented.

  7. Hugh permalink
    January 30, 2018

    rc, please stop hijacking threads with your inanities.

  8. realitychecker permalink
    January 30, 2018

    What’s could be more inane than repeatedly pronouncing a triumphant President to be demented?

  9. Mojave Wolf permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Russia: my response do anything in the news about Russia these days relative is ::groan:: and ::eyeroll::. If they’re not wanting to go back to hand counted hand marked paper ballots they ain’t really worried about anybody hacking the voting machines. And no reasonably intelligent person in their right mind can possibly be that worried about a few Twitter bots. & Russia’s foreign policy is a hella lot saner than ours.

    (Aside re: Putin: he may or may not be a very bad man, on balance. He probably didn’t rise through the ranks of the KGB by being a nice person. But he seems competent and sane and non-delusional, which puts him ahead of most Western heads of state–not an endorsement of all his policies and on global warming everything positive I just said goes out the window; no large country’s providing good leadership there)

    Lastly, as far as the supposedly improving economy, it’s kind of amazing to me the every since the early 80’s the economy has supposedly been either improving rebounding growing or going gang busters at least 3 out of every 4 years. Maybe more. Supposedly people are better off now by the same numbers. Okay any of you who were alive back in the supposedly awful 70’s or the supposedly much less good than now 80’s, can any of you say with a straight face the economy is anywhere near as good now?

    Back when I was a kid a family could put their kids through college and live a comfortable middle class life without being freaked out about finances all the time on a single income in a non prestigious job, and you could live really well off of two incomes. And I’m not talking about you were like the head of your freakin giant company here I’m talking about people managing small local stores and stuff or working at manufacturing or what have you.

    Now people are working longer and harder in worse environments for less money (more accurately, less purchasing power and less financial security). You can put up whatever numbers you want and they can make up whatever numbers they want I know this is true any of you who are over 40 know this is true and quite honestly I think pretty much everybody knows this is true, including the people who keep putting up these graphs saying things are Tony the Tiger grrrrrrreat!

    People losing good jobs and getting rehired as Wal-Mart greeters (I’m probably exaggerating for effect but I’m not entirely sure) do not constitute an improving economy or a rebounding economy or any such thing. And I could list a whole bunch of other reasons to be skeptical but y’all all know them.ad well as I do.

    And Russia doesn’t have anything to do with any of this. In the US Russia has very little to do with much of anything except they probably kept us from screwing up really bad in Syria (With a Little Help from the Trump election which well as with Ian I can’t say much good about him but that’s one thing I can say he seems to at least have made some efforts to slow down this desperate desire to restart the Cold War on the part of practically everybody else in Washington).

  10. Rostale permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Whether or not Putin is a thug, his approval rating in Russia is sky-high- is it our place as americans to tell other countries who their leader can be, and before you use the excuse of Russian meddling in our elections (and ignore the fact that we’ve meddled in theirs in the past) I’ll note that the idea that a leader of a foreign country is somehow illegitimate unless they have the US stamp of approval well predates the current Russia hysteria.

    I’m not trying to sound like a Putin apologist, I’m just trying to apply an equal standard. Hillary Clinton was threatening a no-fly zone in Syria. As anyone reading this blog is probably well aware, imposing a no-fly zone is an act of war. I know that if a foreign power threatened war against one of our allies, and our leadership defused the situation bloodlessly by some internal meddling against said foreign power, I would consider it merely competent leadership.

  11. realitychecker permalink
    January 31, 2018

    A lot of that veto-proof vote was provided by Trump enemies, Dims and Estab Rethugs, who just want to hurt him. I can see where he might expect to have the political advantage if his Congressional enemies actually go ahead to pass the bill over his veto.

    I say “actually go ahead” because it appears that a whole lot of info unfavorable to Trump’s enemies will be coming out in the next few days. Politics, politics. Plus, the sanctions would show us yet again to be the worlds most shameless hypocrites. Meddle with elections? We’re shocked, shocked . . .

    Aside from that, it seems extremely short-sighted to me (not to say ‘demented’ lol) to minimize the value of keeping relations with Russia as amiable as possible, not only because they do, in fact, have enough nukes to leave a mark, but especially because it would really suck for us if they decide they would rather cozy up to neighbor (and probable dominant superpower of the future) China.

  12. January 31, 2018

    I’d say this in regards to Putin: he is an evil man who loves his country. Obama, on the other hand, is an evil man who loves no one and nothing but himself and his own.

    Z

  13. Hugh permalink
    January 31, 2018

    So Z, how is Obama, an evil man who loves no one and nothing but himself and his own, different from Trump? or really anybody else among our rich and elites?

    I am a big critic of the Chomskyan view of the world, that if only somehow the US had never existed, the rest of the world would all have turned into a bunch of Jeffersonian Democrats. As bad as things are in the world and US responsibility in them, they probably would have been a lot worse in its absence. Disagree? Look at the last couple centuries of European history or the last 3,000 years of Chinese history, long before the US was a major power or even existed. Putin is a dictator and runs a kleptocracy of oligarchs that is far more brazen and rapacious than even our own. His dream is to resurrect the colonial empire that was the USSR. He was for self-determination in Crimea. In Chechnya? Not so much. He suppresses democracy at every turn, and declares himself a patriot. How are these two things remotely compatible? You can only call him “sane” in comparison to an idiot like Trump, but that is an impossibly low bar.

  14. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Emma knocks it out of the park again. Excellent.

    The Democrats trot out YET ANOTHER KENNEDY for the SOTU rebuttal as if something so absurd & ludicrous even needs a rebuttal. It’s like the Coke Formula, isn’t it? They know NO OTHER WAY. Never change the Formula. Never, Until we are no more.

    The State Of The Union

  15. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Whether or not Putin is a thug, his approval rating in Russia is sky-high-

    I read nothing after this. It screams “I’m a Russian Troll.”

  16. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Considering the recent 1% of the 1% soiree/retreat in Davos, I think Switzerland should be sanctioned for money laundering. Let’s face it, Switzerland has always been the go-to capital refuge for some of the planet’s worse scoundrels. A safe harbor for the absconded assets of the enemies of humanity.

    Swiss Money Laundering Is Back: ICOs

    AS IF Swiss money laundering was REALLY ever gone. Too funny!! Zebras & Stripes.

  17. realitychecker permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Is America ready for a first ginger President?

    Will all hell break loose if a ginger gets elected to the highest office before a woman?

    Can Kamala Harris win a national election without declaring herself to also be gay?

    There’s not enough popcorn . . . 🙂

  18. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    What’s could be more inane than repeatedly pronouncing a triumphant President to be demented?

    Pronouncing a demented President to be triumphant, that’s what.

  19. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Trump has proven that the POTUS can be anything — demented, a dog, an eggplant or even a roll of toilet paper. It really doesn’t matter who’s POTUS. Whoever or whatever it is, the beat goes on. And the beat goes on.

  20. realitychecker permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Trump proves a political outsider can break into the duoploy’s private club. Maybe now more palatable people will try? For sure nobody but a rich guy could have broken the ice like Trump did.

    Try to see more than one aspect to complex situations, and you will be closer to the truth.

    And if you could look at the faces of Pelosi, Guttierrez (sic?), and the entire Cong Black Caucus while Trump cited record low black AND Hispanic unemployment (as well as the Dems body language generally), well, I would say that is your best measure of who is actually triumphant at the moment.

  21. BlizzardOfOzzz permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Russians must think of democracy as that system where foreign vultures got to buy up their country, and their desperate women from Moscow’s streets, for firesale prices. And look at them now, so powerful that they can swing American elections with a few thousand rubles worth of Facebook ads. No wonder Putin is so popular!

  22. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Trump proves a political outsider can break into the duoploy’s private club. Maybe now more palatable people will try?

    Billionaires are NOT PALATABLE now and never will be.

    I’m still convinced voter fraud, more so than The Russians, is why Trump is POTUS. The Democrats have shown their True Colors, yet again, for not exposing it and the reason they haven’t is because they would like to preserve voter fraud for when they need it most and that time is now.

    Trump has shown that SOME of the Oligarchs feel they don’t need professional politicians and would rather govern directly via an apolitical demented dummy celebrity, aka Donald Trump. Trump is Mercer’s boy and Mercer would like to put an end to Realpolitik and return to a time when gentleman aristocrats governed directly absent the gentleman part.

  23. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    And look at them now….

    Yes, look at them now. They took the Western Blueprint for Post-Soviet Russia and used it themselves. They adopted The Summers Model but kept it In House and now they have their very own Homegrown Oligarchy, with Putin as Chief Oligarch, just as The West has its own Oligarchy.

  24. zot23 permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Here I was thinking Congress was the legislative body who were tasked with control of the purse/sanctions and the President was the executive who implemented those laws. I guess he can just pick and choose which laws get enacted and which to ignore? That sounds like a stable system for beneficent governance, let’s do that…

  25. realitychecker permalink
    January 31, 2018

    It took a billionaire to break the ice. (Perot was also a billionaire.)

    But with the ice broken, maybe an outsider with less than a billion dollars might have a shot. The menu of plausibles just got bigger. That’s progress. OR, hey, let’s elect another Kennedy!

    After all, his family fortune was built on hard work and bootlegging lol.

  26. January 31, 2018

    “He should impose sanctions, not because they are a good idea, but because they passed with a veto-proof majority.”

    With three equal branches of government, how does Congress get to dictate to the Executive?

  27. S Brennan permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Hugh Says – – -“please stop hijacking threads”

    Talk about a thread hijack Hugh, you offer an unrelated ad hominem wholly apart from Ian point.

    And this unrelated ad hominem indicates you’d like to see a regime change in Russia? And this regime change you/Hugh desire is in direct contravention to the expressed will of the people, both American & Russian. So the only the only option for “thuggish hijackers” such as yourself is through a massive use of undemocratic force of economic & military, or is there another way to impose your will on Russia?

    And then complain in almost the same sentence about “interference” is pretty rich nonsense.

    Somebody indicated you are better than today’s nonsense, I disagree, this about your norm, you are always advocating DC’s “conventional wisdom” in the hope of an EZ-Rah Klien elevator ride to the top. Get your own blog [and live in obscurity] advocating for whatever “right thing” you are fed by the neocolonialist-neocons / gilded-age-neoliberals and “please stop hijacking threads”.

  28. nihil obstet permalink
    January 31, 2018

    The constitution specifies that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”. The only thing “equal” about the three branches of government is that none of them can change or remove the powers of the other two. Here, Trump, as the executive, is refusing to carry out an explicit law passed by the legislative.

    Given that the elites have reduced the Constitution to a joke (power to declare war? security in our persons, houses, papers, and effects from unreasonable searches? speedy and public trials?), I’m OK with Trump having done this.

  29. Peter permalink
    January 31, 2018

    These additional sanctions may have been sold to the public as a response to unproven Russian meddling in the election but they are part of already existing sanctions based on verified Russian actions. Russia annexing Crimea, violating the short range nuke force treaty and some of their actions in Syria. These were a legal basis for imposing sanctions while the meddling accusations are unproven.

    This sanctions bill was a knee-jerk reaction to Trump’s election and a power-play attempt to strip Trump of his executive power to lift sanctions. Soon after the bill was signed the problems it would create for European banks/investors was evident and Trump’s trip to Davos may have been to reassure these people that they wouldn’t be targeted by the USG especially now that Russian arms and other deals are being cancled

  30. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Trump’s trip to Davos may have been to reassure these people that they wouldn’t be targeted by the USG especially now that Russian arms and other deals are being cancled

    I agree with Peter. One of the reasons for Donnie Davos’s trip to Switzerland was to assure Russian Oligarchs and ALL Oligarchs regardless of ethnicity that America is still for sale and always will be. The women too — they’re also for sale and as they say in the trade, the younger the better.

  31. SnarkyShark permalink
    January 31, 2018

    “Trump is in the bag for the Russians. I do not know why this is so, whether it is blackmail, driven by his business interests, or part of his dementia. But every time people start talking about him being in the bag for Putin he does something else to show he is in the bag for the Russians.”

    Nice little trap you got going there. No way for him to go, damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Trying to avoid WWW3 is NOT being in the bag for Putin you evil piece of crap. Dickheads like you seem to think everybody else will stay stupid forever and never see your clever little rhetorical bullshit.You also think you are a special snowflake and wont die from blast effects or irradiation.

    You would be wrong

  32. January 31, 2018

    Hugh,

    You are very smart and I enjoy reading your posts, but I think you are lost on this one.

    I am no Trump fan and did not vote for him or Clinton, but I’d say that he cares more about the American people than Obama does in that he craves their adulation more than Obama does. Obama only craved their credulity because all he valued was being able to mislead them while he took care of his sponsors and hence himself. Trump doesn’t really value his sponsors as much, doesn’t have as many, and wasn’t as dependent upon them to become president. I also don’t think that Trump is sophisticated enough to be as duplicitous as Obama. Obama had an unique opportunity and he totally screwed over the vast majority of the country in favor of his sponsors. He could have made plenty after office even if he didn’t so loyally serve them. Truthfully, I think we would have been better off with Trump in 2008 than Obama. The American public and the media would not have allowed him to get away with as much as they did with Obama.

    By the way, I also think Trump has been horrible so far and hasn’t done much on any of the positive promises he made: renouncing trade treaties, reducing H1-B visas, and increasing infrastructure spending.

    As far as would the world have been better without the U.S., that’s kind of irrelevant to anything I wrote and has absolutely no relevance to now. The U.S. has justifiably lost a lot of trust around the world in the last 50 or so years. And looking at how elites from the U.S. assisted and benefited in the rape and pillage of Russia after the fall of the wall, and the amount of wealth that corrupt oligarchs controlled back then, can you deny that the country is better now than it was than before Putin came into power?

    The U.S. is much more an enemy of Russia than we are of it. We are much more a threat to Russia than they are to us. But the fact that they have all those nukes makes them a dangerous country, one that could destroy the whole world, and that is more important than being a “super-power” IMO and I don’t see anything to be gained to the common American by messing with them. As far as sanctions are concerned, who the heck are we to impose sanctions on them when we have been much more aggressive towards them and their interests than they have been towards us?

    I don’t believe that Putin in insane either … I don’t know where the hell you pull that from … and that he has any grand expansionist dreams, but I completely understand why they would take rearguard action against us and I don’t see any ultimate payoff on further antagonizing them and further backing them into a wall.

    As bad as Putin is, I think your disdain of him is clouding your judgement of him.

    Z

  33. S Brennan permalink
    January 31, 2018

    “Trump, as the executive, is refusing to carry out an explicit law passed by the legislative.” – nihil obstet

    “The constitutional function of Congress in foreign affairs is to act as a check on presidential power. Only Congress can declare war, and the Senate must approve all treaties and confirm the president’s nominees for ambassadorial and cabinet positions. Congress has additional authority to act as a check on presidential power through its appropriation and oversight functions. Congress can cut or increase foreign aid or the budget for a defense project. It can set restrictions on the length of time American troops are deployed during an international crisis by refusing to pay for them beyond a certain date.”

    But just as a “declaration of war” by congress without the President’s approval was foreseen and made impossible to carry by the founders through separation of powers, so it is with all of article I.

    Article I: “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes”.

    While enacting an economic blockade should be argued to exceed “regulation” of commerce and fall into an act of war without proper declaration. The whole point is made moot by fact that even if Congress feels it can “mandate” a President take executive actions in foreign affairs [that may lead to war], it has no power to impose on the presidential prerogative of enforcement. The founders separated power for just this reason.

    To say the President has to go to war because an “explicit law was passed by the legislative” is to give all power to congress, something the founding fathers would be shocked to hear out of any schooled American.

    Regulate
    verb
    [with object]

    1 Control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly.

    1.1 Control (something, especially a business activity) by means of rules and regulations.

    1.2 Set (a clock or other apparatus) according to an external standard.

  34. Jib Halyard permalink
    January 31, 2018

    The Ian Welsh blog: Where far left meets far right and fits like a glove…

  35. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    You also think you are a special snowflake and wont die from blast effects or irradiation.

    You have no clue.

    If Trump is so interested in Pleasant Relations with Russia, why all the boastful rhetoric about expanding America’s nuclear capacity & capability? If Russia isn’t the perceived enemy requiring an expanded nuclear capacity & capability, who is? How many nukes does it take to destroy North Korea and by virtue of that South Korea in the process? The Islamic State? How in thee hell can you destroy The Islamic State with nuclear weapons without MASSIVE collateral damage? It’s tantamount to freeing a home of a roach infestation by burning it to the ground with the occupants in it.

    However, the Trump proposal would actually add nuclear warheads to the US inventory in the form of “low-yield weapons.” The draft NPR calls these supplements, and they’re largely in response to the perceived Russia threat. The US has an existing stockpile of about 1,000 low-yield weapons.

    “These supplements will enhance deterrence by denying political adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States and its allies,” the review reads. “For example, Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict.”

    Despite the name, low-yield nuclear weapons are monstrous, city-destroying forces, comprising any warhead under 20 kilotons. Little Boy and Fat Man, the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II, were low-yield, and they killed more than 120,000 people combined, scorching Hiroshima and Nagasaki bare.

    The draft takes its cue from the 2010 NPR when it says, copied verbatim, “The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners.” However, the updated version expands the definition of such events: “Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the US, allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure.”

    Essentially, the draft opens the door for the US to respond to a devastating cyberattack with a nuclear strike. Perhaps a low-yield strike, even. Previously, the US has been averse to a first-use scenario, pledging to launch nuclear weapons only if the country were directly targeted by other nukes.

    “It’s actually incredibly alarming that the Trump administration is putting forth the idea that we could use nuclear weapons in response to a cyberattack,” Alexandra Bell of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation told National Public Radio on Monday. “The Trump plan actually puts multiple options on the table — nuclear weapon in response to a chemical attack, to a biological weapons attack, to an attack on civilians without a real description of where that threshold is and really widens the options for President Trump to use nuclear weapons.”

  36. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Sorry, here’s the link for that block quote.

    What Trump Means When He Talks Nukes At The State Of The Union

  37. Willy permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Has the swamp been drained yet?

  38. subgenius permalink
    January 31, 2018

    @jib halyard

    You might enjoy this…from long long ago and far car away…

    http://t00r.net/subgenius_big.jpg

  39. Peter permalink
    January 31, 2018

    I didn’t know thar Stevie was such an anti-nuke pearl-clutcher. Replacing a 500kt Nuke with a couple of more accurately targeted 30kt Nukes seems like a smart move. The C&C bunkers these Nukes are targeting will be more vulnerbls and deterence will be strengthened.

    The BS about us Nuking someone for a cyber-attack is typical exaggeration about the long held US position that Nukes are a deterent to all conventional agression by the major powers.

  40. Willy permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Can’t wait til N. Korea sells baby nukes. MAD only works with the big nukes.

  41. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    January 31, 2018

    I didn’t know thar Stevie was such an anti-nuke pearl-clutcher.

    Where did you get that idea?

    On the contrary, I’m a yuge fan of nukes. My Uncle, an MIT alum, taught me all about nukes. In fact, he taught me how to build my own low yield nuke from scratch.

    I love nukes so much, I made one for each member of my immediate family this past Christmas. They make great stocking stuffers and it’s my right to do so by virtue of the 2nd Amendment.

    Now, whenever someone gives any of my immediate family any grief, be it someone on Facebook or Twitter or the grocery store clerk even, they can nuke their damn asses to kingdom come.

    By virtue of their Christmas presents, my immediate family has become death, the destroyer of worlds. To say I’m proud is an understatement. There’s nothing as satisfying as leveling the playing field.

    YEE HAW!!!!!!!

  42. Herman permalink
    January 31, 2018

    @Mojave Wolf,

    I agree with everything you wrote. I am not a big fan of Trump but at least he has kept us out of a hot war with Russia. But the kerfluffle over Russia is pretty much a Beltway drama for the political class, meaning politicians, bureaucrats, media figures, activists and hyper-partisans. I doubt most ordinary Americans care about the Russians outside of not wanting to go to war with them .

    As for the supposedly great economy, you wrote exactly what I feel about that issue. I feel like I am back in the late 1990s with all of the talk about the best economy ever even though most people still seem to be miserable and unhappy. As you point out, all of the facts and figures brought forward to talk about the economic boom hide the fact that qualitatively most jobs are worse than they used to be. When you look at the big picture and include job stability, pensions, how you are treated at work by management and how much you can buy with your wages people are much worse off now than they were in the 1970s and 1980s not to mention the 1950s and 1960s.

    My grandfather was a World War II veteran and worked in a factory after the war. He and my grandmother raised seven children on one income and lived a lifestyle that would be impossible today for anyone other than upper managers and some professionals. As you pointed out, many people know this, even people who are younger than 40 know this because they know their family history and understand that despite the fact that they are better educated than their parents and grandparents they are not doing as well. That is why there is so much anger and unhappiness despite the happy talk coming from the administration and the media about the economy.

  43. S Brennan permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Let me second a thumbs up for Mojave Wolf’s comment….& also compliment Herman’s positive remarks in support of her point.

  44. Hugh permalink
    January 31, 2018

    The reason the world never changes for the better is that so many, including so many here, defend the indefensible. Trump and Putin, for example. All you do is run around in circles much to the amused contempt of those in power.

  45. DMC permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Remember a million years ago when the U.S. pretended China(other than Taiwan) just didn’t exist? Mao and Jou were very certainly NOT nice people and yet the old Commie baiter Nixon understood that there’s only one planet we all live on, so it’s foolish to ignore a fifth of the planet’s population just because their leaders are not very nice. Constructive engagement was the way the old time Rockefeller Republicans put it. You don’t have to like them to do business with them and, the theory went, when the advantages of Capitalism became apparent they would slowly move away from the whole collectivist model. Today’s question is “Do we want to isolate Russia(somehow?) in an effort to blunt their influence or would we rather normalize relations in the expectation that Russia will start acting like a ‘normal’ country and we can engage in trade and cultural hegemony like we do with just about everyone else?” The NeoCons want the former and if Trump is the only one for the latter, then I suppose I must agree with Trump. Perhaps he has all the wrong motivations but if he advocates that which seems the best course, then I should be a hypocrite if I opposed it merely due to its source.

  46. Tom W Harris permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Trump walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a white Russian.”

  47. S Brennan permalink
    January 31, 2018

    “The reason the world never changes for the better is that so many”, so many sycophants are willing to fellate power by engaging in theatrically overdone false dichotomies, as Hugh does above…”for example”.

    Saying my opposition to the folly of the last 4 wars [and war with Russia] makes me a “defender of the indefensible” as Hugh does now…and EZ-Rah Klein did so often before him, is a particularly disgusting form of disingenuous rhetoric.

  48. January 31, 2018

    Hugh,

    I defend what I see the truth as, that’s all. Just because someone doesn’t agree that Putin is insane doesn’t mean that they entirely defend the man.

    Your arguments are becoming Manichean when there is in fact colors and shades and complexities to people and systems and the interactions between them, and not everything comes in just plain black and white.

    Z

  49. Herman permalink
    January 31, 2018

    The Russians behave the way they do because they are afraid of the West. Russians know their history. They know that they have suffered invasions from Western powers from the Teutonic Knights to Sweden to Napoleon to Hitler.

    American policy toward Russia since the end of the Soviet Union can be characterized as kicking a beaten opponent when they are down. Russians remember that Western economists supported the devastating shock therapy policies that lead to millions of excess deaths, particularly among working-class male Russians. Then the United States broke its promise to the Russians and expanded NATO eastward. This was seen by Russians as a direct provocation. The West even supported anti-Russian neo-fascists in Ukraine which is especially ironic given how Democrats talk about Trump being a fascist and clutch their pearls over alt-right keyboard warriors while ignoring how Obama and Clinton supported real dangerous fascists in Ukraine.

    There is no reason why the United States and Russia should be enemies. In the long term Russia has much more to fear from China. The Chinese have longstanding historical claims on portions of the Russian Far East which has water and other natural resources that the Chinese will need in the future. Russia is facing the prospect of the Amur River becoming their Rio Grande as millions of Chinese may flock to the Russian Far East for work or to escape environmental degradation in China.

    Yet Russia is currently allied with the Chinese against the United States. It makes no sense unless one admits that we have pushed Russia into the arms of the Chinese due to our continued hostility and obsession with re-starting the Cold War.

  50. Webstir permalink
    February 1, 2018

    It’s interesting reading all of the perspicacious takes on Putin & Trump’s motivations.

    What do Putin & Trump want?
    What has nearly every leader in history ever wanted?

    To enrich themselves and their cronies as much as possible in an effort to secure power among their circle in perpetuity, while at the same time, throwing just enough crumbs to the masses to keep them from throwing their asses out and attempting, in turn, to do the same thing themselves.

    As such, I don’t think it should be any mystery that Putin & Trump are busily attempting to enrich themselves and their cronies as much as possible in an effort to secure power among their circle in perpetuity. But nobody likes Trump. Nobody in power anyway. So the sanctions are merely those out of power coming together to, in turn, to attempt to do the same thing Trump and Putin are doing themselves. They just have different circles they want to enrich that don’t include Putin.

    Easy peasy …

  51. V. Arnold permalink
    February 1, 2018

    The Russo-phobia here is palpable with one poster saying Putin is a thug; and said with a sense of authority (not warranted).
    Has said poster met Putin? If not, then just how does he know this information?
    But of course; people he knows and trusts have said the very same thing (including Ian); so, it must be true.
    Putin is evil. Again said with a degree of authority (not warranted) by persons here and unknown; so, it must be true.
    There are posters here who are not so easily influenced; and further, see what their own leaders are doing and have done since the end of WWII; it’s a picture of wanton imperialism with its consequent violence; defacto destruction of at least 6 countries in the ME, and south Asia as well.
    Tens of millions dead.
    I don’t think Russia or Putin can hold a candle to that; nor would Russia/he want to.
    You Russo-phoebe’s are bereft of all credibility and are your own worst detractors. I see you as a major cheerleaders of the single largest purveyor of violence on this planet. MLK (loosely quoted).

  52. February 1, 2018

    Totally agreed. And let us not forget that Russia has never invaded any territory that does not already have a majority Russian ethnic community that is being abused by their host nation. Because international law does not provide any mechanism for implementing the Principle of Self-determination of Sovereignty other means have to be used.

  53. V. Arnold permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Oh; and one more thing; Russia is NOT a super power.
    Another statement born in ignorance.
    I have no idea what metric was applied to that; but it’s wrong as two left shoes.
    On careful research, it’s apparent Russia is indeed a “super power” by all metrics the experts use.
    Syria should be ample evidence the hegemon has met its (at least) equal.
    Careless opinions based on hyperbole and not facts, history, and present realities.

  54. Peter permalink
    February 1, 2018

    If the Nunes’ FICA memo is released Friday the fake news and fake collusion plot about Trump/Putin will be exposed and replaced with a real news and collusion in high places story. If you want to see corrupt partisan swamp critters hauled out of the swamp and sent to the shoe factory this could be the beginning.

    The snowflake collective and its media mouthpieces are desperately sandbagging and throwing up chaff to divert or stop this direct attack on the deep-state and its organized plot to undermine first the candidate and then the new president. These people are such pompus buffons they believed they would win the election and the Red Queen would make certain none of this crime was ever exposed or thought about with Clintonites filling all these positions of power.

    I was surprised the republicans are showing some backbone and appear ready to fight this critical battle against real corruption and support Trump.

  55. Webstir permalink
    February 1, 2018

    “If the Nunes’ FICA memo is released Friday the fake news and fake collusion plot about Trump/Putin will be exposed and replaced with a real news and collusion in high places story.”

    Really, Peter? You think so? Because I’m of a mind that it’s counter-chaffe. Jim Wright makes the sanest and soundest arguments I’ve heard on the subject of the Nunes-Memo, here: http://www.stonekettle.com/2018/01/dirty-tricks.html.

    I’m surprised by your sudden turn from skepticism. Your comment read better the second time through when I imagined you speaking with the voice of an excited 10-year old girl. Better check and see you didn’t pee yourself a little.

  56. February 1, 2018

    IMNSHO, Putin + Lavrov deserve a Nobel peace prize for preventing a full-on onslaught in Syria by the US, (by defusing the phony-baloney, false flag crossing of Obama’s “red line” via use of chemical weapons) whatever Putin’s faults may be domestically, or in his “near abroad”.

    As for Trump, he seems equal parts in the Swamp, out of the Swamp (and fighting against it), and just plain clueless. I had encountered the claims that Trump was on the side of “white hats” (in the military and deep state) during the campaign, who preferred saving America to to saving the Empire.

    Now, as President, I have been listening to various reports (the most interesting being a former NSA guy on youtube channel “American Intelligence Media” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv0dEcvXLOf4ZFvjCahK4Lw/videos) claiming Trump is not only working closely with White Hats, but was even recruited by (or at least settled on, very early) by those same White Hats.

    Trump has actually done some very good things, even if he’s disappointing on many others. He’s apparently abandoned his less hegemonic positions as a candidate, he backed a Republican health care plan that was a joke, his bombing of Syria was war crime, etc.

    However, overall, he seems qualitatively less corrupt not only compared to the vile Hillary Clinton, but also compared to, e.g., very corrupt leadership at the FBI and DOJ. On Fox news, they are talking openly about high level leadership, like McCabe, facing criminal prosecution.

    I recommend listening to the American Intelligence Media segment called “Is Trump Deep State?” @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUeNJhQOW5M . The sister website to the Trump channel “American Intelligence Media” is Aim4Truth.org. The speaker, so-called “Thomas Paine”, says the “war” that Trump is a part of is between privatized, internationalized intelligence and military intelligence, with Trump on the side of the latter. “Thomas Paine” is a big fan of Trump’s, but admits that Trump is a greedy businessman, who uses people.

    In spite of his feet of clay, Trump shines like a beacon of hope when compared to vile individuals like the Clintons, criminals like Obama (see https://aim4truth.org/2017/11/24/absolute-proof-obama-not-russians-rigged-elections/) and traitors like Comey (see https://aim4truth.org/2017/09/06/james-comey-exposed-chief-election-meddler-and-instigator-for-the-overthrow-trump/). That he still allows hawks to muck around in Syria, thus still risking a conflict with Russia, is an uncomfortable aspect of Trump’s defects of leadership – one of many – that can’t be fully obscured, even by the afore-mentioned traitors to the Republic. (See “US secrets, lies and confusion in the North of Syria” @ http://www.voltairenet.org/article199451.html)

  57. Peter permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Web choosing a glib douche to think and sandbag for him isn’t any more surprising than the pitiful attempts at diversion the snowflakes are producing.

    These clowns are still in denial about being loosers so more denial is natural for them. The problem for them now is that this corruption and crime can’t be ignored, even their media is hooked on the story and some of them are actually aware enough to see a bloody power struggle developing.

  58. Ché Pasa permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Jeebus, gaslighting is fun, isn’t it? Reality/unreality, it’s all an illusion anyway. Judgment and critical thinking are replaced by true belief. Heroic figures are anointed, enemies identified and disposed of, chaos celebrated. Everything is justified because someone somewhere did something like it before.

    What will we do when this rollercoaster ride comes to a stop?

  59. realitychecker permalink
    February 1, 2018

    I’m with Peter on this one.

    However, I would point out (to his anticipated discomfort lol) that the Obama-Clinton types figured they could get away with this outrageous FBI-DOJ shit, because they had already gotten away so successfully with their incredible law-defying rescue effort for all the bad actors in the financial sector, where they put corrupt sheriff Holder and corrupt deputy Lanny Breuer in charge of getting the bad guys they enabled in private practice (‘MERS is OK.’), which is also the private practice where Holder again resides (maybe Breuer also).

    Time to flush this toilet already.

  60. Willy permalink
    February 1, 2018

    I blame the evangelicals. One helluva large bunch of lockstep marching faithers who believe “judgment and critical thinking” are tools of the devil.

    The Mueller investigation may find unpleasant things. (sorry, but I trust him far more than either Trump or Hillary or the conservative or neoliberal noise machines) I am fully aware that the Clintonites would try to use it to rise from the dead. But I’m sticking with my belief that Trump rode the populist wave for his own personal benefit, because it’s in line with his character.

    If the shit comes down that way it’s obvious there will be much noisy blathering from “true believers” of every stripe, instead of the critical thinking we’ll need to sort things out.

  61. February 1, 2018

    V. Arnold,

    I agree with much of what you say, but I do want to say in regards to people stating their opinions on Putin, such as when I said that Putin is evil, just because you don’t personally know someone doesn’t mean that you can’t have a strong opinion of them. I believe that Putin had his own people bombed in order to justify attacking Chechnya. If you remember, there were a series of apartment bombings that got blamed on Chechnya shortly after Putin became Prime Minister. I just don’t see why Chechnya, who had at that point achieved some degree of peaceful independence, would provoke Russia then. I think Putin wanted that war. His actions raised his popularity considerably and shortly afterward he became president.

    The guy worked his way up in the KGB and rose to power at a very lawless time in Russia’s history. I don’t think that would have been possible without a certain degree of ruthlessness and evilness.

    Z

  62. Webstir permalink
    February 7, 2018

    @Peter,

    Still think that nothing burger Nunes Memo was anything other than counter-chafe like I said? Seems the “glib douche” that I chose “to think and sandbag” for me was right.

    Now Petey, one of the hardest parts of thinking is sorting out all the bullshit on the subject one is intending to think on. You know why my thinking was more accurate than yours? Because you’re rooting for a team and it biased your judgment. I simply considered the source. Nunes is an establishment republican shill. EVERYTHING that comes out of establishment politician’s mouths (democrat or republican) is either chafe, or counter-chafe.

    And yes, it would be nice if there had been some “there” there, to stick up the establishment’s ass. But the establishment never substantively sticks it’s foot up the ass of the establishment opposition. They just throw up chafe and misdirection for the public so they can continue on with their bezzle business. I’m surprised you don’t get this. Sorry, no gold star for you. You get to repeat third grade.

    But I will admit, it was amusing watching you get all giddy with potential schaudenfreud.

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