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[VIDEO] Now’s she’s blaming 39 problems, but a Hillary ain’t one

She shook her head when asked if she was going to run again today, but unfortunately it looks like we’re still stuck with this sore loser Hillary blaming everything but her unlikeable self for her big-league loss to Trump.

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Unpacking the New CIA Leak: Don’t Ignore the Aluminum Tube Footnote 

This post will unpack the leak from the CIA published in the WaPo tonight.

 writes: Before I start with the substance of the story, consider this background. First, if Trump comes into office on the current trajectory, the US will let Russia help Bashar al-Assad stay in power, thwarting a 4-year effort on the part of the Saudis to remove him from power. It will also restructure the hierarchy of horrible human rights abusing allies the US has, with the Saudis losing out to other human rights abusers, potentially up to and including that other petrostate, Russia. It will also install a ton of people with ties to the US oil industry in the cabinet, meaning the US will effectively subsidize oil production in this country, which will have the perhaps inadvertent result of ensuring the US remains oil-independent even though the market can’t justify fracking right now.

The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.

This story came 24 days after the White House released an anonymous statement asserting, among other things, “the Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” suggesting that the Russians may have been deterred.

[Read the full text here, at emptywheel]

This story was leaked within hours of the time the White House announced it was calling for an all-intelligence community review of the Russia intelligence, offered without much detail. Indeed, this story was leaked and published as an update to that story.

Which is to say, the CIA and/or people in Congress (this story seems primarily to come from Democratic Senators) leaked this, apparently in response to President Obama’s not terribly urgent call to have all intelligence agencies weigh in on the subject of Russian influence, after weeks of Democrats pressuring him to release more information. It was designed to both make the White House-ordered review more urgent and influence the outcome.

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So here’s what that story says.

In September, the spooks briefed “congressional leaders” (which for a variety of reasons I wildarseguess is either a Gang of Four briefing including Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid or a briefing to SSCI plus McConnell, Reid, Jack Reed, and John McCain). Apparently, the substance of the briefing was that Russia’s intent in hacking Democratic entities was not to increase distrust of institutions, but instead to elect Trump.

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

myth

[Read more at The Washington Examiner]

The difference between this story and other public assessments is that it seems to identify the people — who sound like people with ties to the Russian government but not necessarily part of it — who funneled documents from Russia’s GRU to Wikileaks.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

[snip]

[I]ntelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

[Read the full analysis here, at emptywheel]

This is the part that has always been missing in the past: how the documents got from GRU, which hacked the DNC and John Podesta, to Wikileaks, which released them. It appears that CIA now thinks they know the answer: some people one step removed from the Russian government, funneling the documents from GRU hackers (presumably) to Wikileaks to be leaked, with the intent of electing Trump.

Not everyone buys this story. Mitch McConnell doesn’t buy the intelligence. Read the rest of this entry »


Propaganda, Censorship, and Aggression at Work in Putin’s Russia

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Putin Still Doing Donuts on Obama’s Lawn

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‘You Can’t Be On The Wrong Side of History. History Does Not Actually Take Sides’

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The Most Bullying Argument in Politics

editor-commen-deskIs it just me? Or is everybody in the media stealing ideas from Jonah Goldberg these days? I’m not suggesting Dougherty‘s column was inspired directly or indirectly by previously-articulated arguments calling attention to this phrase, to the contrary, Dougherty’s take here is insightful and original. But readers familiar with Jonah’s book will recognize the “wrong side of history” cliche as one of its funniest chapters. And it gives me another excuse to encourage people to read it. (Plus, any orders made through links to Amazon helps support my cigar habit, so there’s that)

As Dougherty illustrates, the verdict of history is never really final. Enjoy. The whole text is here.

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For The WeekMichael Brendan Dougherty  writes:

There is no more bullying or empty piece of rhetoric in political conversation today than to accuse someone of being on the wrong side of history.divine-judgment-2

“To tell someone that the story of history will be the story of their demise is to make a bet on your future power and to make a frightening promise: The arc of the moral universe is long, and those who disagree with me should be impaled on it.”

And yet, we do it all the time. Over the past month, we’ve heard that the Washington Redskins are on the wrong side of history because of their refusal to change their name. Vladimir Putin, of course, is an enemy of the future. Politicians who are against gay marriage, them too. Even poor Scarlett Johansson is set to fall under the opprobrium of tomorrow.

“We invoke the future’s verdict of guilt precisely because we’d like to smuggle back into our politics the moral force of Divine judgment. But our appeals to progress are a pathetic substitute for the concept of Providence.”

These days, the phrase is most often deployed against social conservatives. But in the 1980s, it was often aimed at advocates for strong labor unions, tight industrial policy, and trade tariffs.tyranny-cliche

[You’re on the wrong side of history if you haven’t read Jonah Goldberg‘s book, “The Tyranny of Cliches, but you can order it from Amazon]

At its most innocent, telling someone they are on the wrong side of history is an assertion that they stand in the way of others who will deservedly soon acquire more power and respect.

But often, the phrase has the ring of a threat. Read the rest of this entry »


Marin Katusa: Mysterious Death Of A Top Oil Executive In Moscow Raises Questions

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Marin Katusa writes: Last month, almost no one was talking about oil giant Total SA’s move to cut the U.S. dollar from its energy trade. Now its CEO is dead, and it looks very suspicious.

As I noted just weeks ago:

Patrick de la Chevardière, CFO of Total SA (which is France’s largest energy company), has publicly announced that Total is looking to finance its share in the $27-billion Yamal LNG project using euros, yuan, Russian rubles, and any other currency but US dollars.

The effect of US sanctions was that Yamal LNG [in Russia’s far North] will be prevented from raising any dollar financings,” Patrick de la Chevardière stated in London at a news briefing.

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Patrick de la Chevardière’s boss — the CEO of Total SA and presumably the man who made that decision — was Christophe de Margerie. De Margerie is now dead, along with three crew members aboard his private jet when it collided with a 51cLQpgqUQL._SL250_snowplow just after midnight at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. The plow’s driver was drunk, according to Russian investigators, and was seemingly unhurt.

[Check out Marin Katusa’s book “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp” at Amazon]

You have more of a chance of being struck by lightning than hitting a plow or any other ground support vehicle.

So… is it a coincidence that the one CEO who prominently broke with the petrodollar is now dead?

In my new book The Colder War, there is a whole section on “suspicious deaths” that have occurred during the current conflict between Vladimir Putin and the West. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this political stare down, and it doesn’t much matter whether you’re against Putin or against the West. Many have fallen on both sides.

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De Margerie could now be one of them. We may never know for sure.

What we are sure of is that he was outspoken in his support for Putin’s agenda, and believed Russia was a good partner for Europe. He wasn’t afraid to take on the U.S. and its primary support mechanism, the petrodollar. Read the rest of this entry »


By Proxy: Ukrainians Pull Down Putin’s Pants


[VIDEO] Foreign Policy: An Interview with Historian Victor Davis Hanson

An interview with historian Victor Davis Hanson

Directed and Edited by: Joshua Hamilton
Interview and Writing by: Evan Carter
Camera Two: Anders Kiledal

Published on Sep 10, 2014


Vladimir Putin’s Veiled Nuclear Threat

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“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Aug 29 (Reuters) – Alexei Anishchuk reports: President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia’s armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: “It’s best not to mess with us.”

“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts. We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.”

Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.

“Russia’s partners…should understand it’s best not to mess with us.”

Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armour to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge. Read the rest of this entry »


Go USA! Cheerful Tourism Booster of the Day

ustourism-stamped

Courtesy of those upbeat folks at foreignaffairs.com 


Solder Blows Putin’s Secret: Posted Photos Post-Artillery Attack on Ukraine from Russia


Putin Poised to Retaliate by Trashing Iran Deal

putin-red

Now that the U.S.-Russia relationship has broken down, Moscow could throw a wrench into the teetering nuclear negotiations with Iran.

For the The Daily BeastJosh Rogin writes: The escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow, brought to fever by theMH17 airliner disaster, are finally to the point where they threaten to spoil the number one item on President Obama’s foreign policy agenda: the nuclear talks with Iran. The man doing the threatening is Russian President Vladimir Putin.Earlier this week, Putin promised to retaliate against the United States for new sanctions targeting his friends and business associates, as well as large Russian defense, energy, and financial firms.

 “If Putin decides that retaliating against the U.S. and ruining Obama’s foreign policy legacy is more important than sealing a pact with Iran, the whole thing could unravel.”

On Thursday, Putin called President Obama to alert him a civilian jetliner had crashed over Eastern Ukraine, a tragedy the U.S. says was caused by a missile shot from a Russian-made SA-11 mobile surface to air missile system located in a separatist-held area.Putin’s next call was to none other than the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.“Mr. Putin and Mr. Rouhani exchanged views on the state of talks on Iran’s nuclear program,” stated the Kremlin readout of the call. “The two leaders also examined bilateral cooperation matters of mutual interest, including joint projects in the oil and gas sector and in peaceful nuclear energy.”

“An extension is the only thing the Iranians need to complete their bomb work. The whole point of the sanctions was to make sure that time is not on the side of the Iranians.”

U.S. officials, lawmakers, and experts, have been watching and waiting for Putin to use the Iran negotiations as a way to mess with Obama ever since the tit-for-tat sanctions began in March.

Moscow and Tehran have been negotiating a $1.5 billion oil-for-goods exchange, which could undermine international pressure on Iran to make a deal with the West. But overall, Moscow has continued to be a reasonably constructive part of the international coalition pressing Iran to roll back its nuclear program. Read the rest of this entry »


SUN COVER JULY 18, 2014: ‘PUTIN’S MISSILE’

SUN-July18-2014


Moscow Bling: Gold iPhone with engraving of Vladimir Putin’s head goes on sale for £2,500

For Mail OnlinePaul Donnelley writes: Unlike former communist leaders, Vladimir Putin has tried to avoid a cult of personality.

That may all be about to change as Russians and fellow travellers can now show their devotion to the President of Russia with a gold-plated iPhone hand engraved with a portrait of Mr Putin.

The Italian-Russian-owned company Caviar Perna Penna which normally creates alligator skin and diamond-encrusted handsets has made the phone for sale in Russia for 147,000 roubles (£2,500) – it comes with its own display case and accessories.

Golden number:The golden iPhones with the portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the lyrics of the National Anthem on sale at Zhukoffka Plaza shopping centre on Moscow, Russia

Golden number:The golden iPhones with the portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the lyrics of the National Anthem on sale at Zhukoffka Plaza shopping centre on Moscow, Russia

The back of the phone is made of 18-carat gold, and below the portrait of President Putin there is a quote from the Russian National Anthem and the double-headed eagle – Russia’s coat of arms.article-0-1F30988300000578-253_308x425

In a press release, the firm says that the gadget is aimed at ‘patriotic senior government officials and top executives’.

‘It’s time to feel genuine pride and express your position clearly, without further ado.

‘President Vladimir Putin has become a symbol of the new generation, a strong-willed and decisive leader.’

The manufacturers claim that the Caviar Supremo Putin phone is ‘the best way to express patriotism’ for people who move ‘in the highest circles, in which devotion to the homeland will never be an empty shell’…(read more)

Mail Online


Sacré Bleu! Topless Feminist Stabs Wax Putin in France, Wax Figure in Critical Condition

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The same day President Vladimir Putin was to arrive in France for D-Day anniversary events, radical feminist protest group Femen destroyed the Russian leader’s statue in a Paris wax museum.

A topless member of the radical protest group Femen used a metal chisel to stab and bash in the face of Putin’s statue in a famed Paris wax museum on Thursday.

The activist, who had ‘Kill Putin’ written on her bare chest, reportedly screamed “Putin is a dictator” while destroying the figure at the Grevin Wax MuseumFrench daily Le Parisien reported.

Police arrested the activist shortly after the attack, which happened near statues of US President Barack Obama and recently abdicated Spanish King Juan Carlos, both of which escaped without a scratch.

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A Femen activist hacks apart Putin’s effigy. (AFP)

Putin is to arrive in France on Thursday to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day events, which have attracted scores of world leaders to France. Putin arrives under the cloud of the confrontation between western powers and Russia over the annexation of Crimea. Read the rest of this entry »


Putin Signs Russian Law Banning Swearing in Arts and Media

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It is not yet clear how Russian censors will deal with swearing in imported films

Russian President Vladimir #!@?%*!! Putin has signed a law banning all #!@?%*!! swearing in films, television broadcasts, theatres and the media.

Offenders will face fines – as much as 50,000 roubles (£829; $1,400) for organisations, or up to 2,500 roubles (£41; $70) for individuals.

Where disputes arise a panel of experts will decide exactly what counts as a swear word.

Books containing #!@?%*!! swear words will have to carry warnings on the cover.

Russia’s Vesti news website says that, according to sociologists’ research, swearing is common in two-thirds of Russian companies. Read the rest of this entry »


Putin’s Screensaver: A map of primary target locations for Soviet nuclear strikes from 1984

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putin-computer

Map- Peter from Texas


Russian Lawmakers Back Harsh Regulation of Bloggers

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Russian lawmakers on Tuesday passed draconian legislation that cracks down on the content of popular blogs, forcing top bloggers to adhere to laws similar to those for mass media.

“The government would have unlimited opportunity for censorship of the Internet.”

— Kommersant Business Daily

Opponents of the law say it is so vaguely worded that it could be used to target any of the social networking sites and blogs that make up Russia’s most vibrant forum for opposition political debate.

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN 

“We are scared by the number of unarticulated points in the law and the lack of clear and transparent rules of the game,” warned the general director of Russia’s top social network VKontakte, Boris Dobrodeyev, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

“That means you can’t bad-mouth a political opponent or write something bad about the police.”

—  blogger Andrei Malgin, on the Echo of Moscow radio station’s website

The head of the Kremlin human rights council advisory body, Mikhail Fedotov advised against passing the legislation, which he called stricter than existing laws covering Internet media and so broad it would even apply to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who writes a blog.

LAT_APTOPIX_RUSSIA__693894f

Under the new law, bloggers with more than 3,000 readers per day will be required to submit personal details to a special register.  Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama: ‘I Absolutely Would Save Putin If he were Drowning’

NRO‘s Josh Encinias writes: President Obama said on Friday he would “absolutely” save Vladimir Putin if he were drowning, during a press conference from South Korea…(read more)

“I absolutely would save Mr. Putin if he were drowning,” Obama said. “I used to be a pretty good swimmer, I grew up in Hawaii.”

…Putin was asked if he thought Obama would save him if were drowning.

“…I am not saying we have some special relationships with the president of the U.S., but I think he is a decent and quite courageous person. I think he would do it.”

…this is likely all hypothetical — does it look like this guy needs rescuing any time soon?

swimmer-putin

National Review Online


Vladimir Putin’s Next Move

Vladimir Putin Wikimedia Commons_1

ForWorld Affairs JournalMichael Totten writes: If Vladimir Putin invades Poland, I’ll eat my hat.

It’s not going to happen.

Even so, American ground troops are being deployed there as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. This is the West telling him STOP. He’s not going to invade a European Union or NATO state either way, but we’d end up sending a crazy-weak signal if all we did was collectively shrug.

“Even an unspoken threat of invasion, occupation, and annexation is enough to make Ukraine act with tremendous caution toward Moscow, but if Putin pulls the trigger, Kiev would have nothing left to lose.”

Ukraine still isn’t in NATO, however, and probably never will be, so it’s still vulnerable. Putin can slice it and dice it all over again. The US won’t physically stop him for the same reason he won’t invade Poland. Nobody wants to blow up the world, especially not over this.

So Ukraine’s vulnerable. Pro-Russian militiamen are occupying dozens of government buildings, city halls, and police stations in the eastern part of the country where many ethnic Russians live. It’s hard to say for sure if Putin is egging these people on or if they’re acting on their own, envious of their cousins in Crimea who got to go “home” without moving. Either way, they’re serving Putin’s agenda.

By annexing Crimea, he proved to the world that he’s willing to mutilate Ukraine when it displeases him, which it very much did when it cast off his vassal, Viktor Yanukovych, in February. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Putin and Snowden Bromance, Live on Russian TV

Snowden:

“Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?”

Snowden also asked if increasing “the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations” is justification for placing societies under surveillance.

Putin:

“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law. We don’t have mass system of such interception.And according to our law it cannot exist.”

“Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and the law, and are regulated by the law.”

(read more) National Review Online


The Rise of The Soviet Empire: Putin’s Zombie Propaganda Reanimates Russian Nationalism

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Putin’s use of Soviet-era symbolism has alarmed those already fearful for the country’s democratic institutions

Kathrin Hille writes: Igor Dolutsky finds nothing unusual in disagreeing with everyone around him. In the 35 years he has been teaching history in Moscow schools, his habit of questioning official narratives and challenging political taboos has cost him his job more than once.

“I would argue that for years we have been seeing what you could call the Nazification of the elite.”

— Igor Yakovenko, former head of the Russian Journalists’ Association

But when the mild-mannered 60-year-old tried to discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea in class, things almost got out of hand. “My students swore at me and said I wasn’t telling the truth,” he says. “Then they said I didn’t love Russia or the Russian people, and told me to leave the country.”

Mr Dolutsky has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s government. Ten years ago the government pulled his history textbook from the curriculum for its critical description of President Putin and its inclusion of unpalatable facts about Soviet history. Today he teaches in a private school, headed by a friend from his university days, which allows Mr Dolutsky to continue to talk about the Soviet Union’s occupation of the Baltic states, discuss whether Russia committed genocide in Chechnya and label Mr Putin’s changes to the political system a coup d’état.

But Moscow’s annexation of Crimea has set off rapid and drastic changes that threaten to submerge such outposts of dissent. In a speech marking the consummation of Russia’s union with the Black Sea peninsula on March 18, Mr Putin lashed out against a “fifth column” of “national traitors” enlisted by the west to subvert Russia. He vowed to respond forcefully. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] Romantic Pictures from Russian Dating Sites

CSaYHDe

“Me strong man, like Putin”

W95pFW7

“I’ll be your trashy dirty girl”

ra5Daxa

“Watch as I demonstrate my talent for oral sex. You like oral sex?”

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Former U.S. Ambassador McFaul on Whether Sanctions Have Weakened Putin: ‘No’

From this morning’s media roundup at The Corner: When asked this morning whether he thought the first round of American sanctions on top Russian officials has helped bring Putin to the negotiating table, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia had a blunt answer: “No.”

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Chances of Going to War with Russia Are Growing

Asked what he thought the chances of going to war with Russia are, he [Ukrainian Foreign Minister] responded:

“They are growing. We don’t know what Putin has in his mind and what would be his decision. That’s why this situation is becoming even more explosive than it used to be a week ago.”

Read more….

Read the rest of this entry »


Charles Krauthammer Still Unimpressed with Obama’s Pathetic Response to Putin

la-et-st-jon-stewart-charles-krauthammer-20131024-thumbnailThe increasingly annoyed  writes: Early in the Ukraine crisis, when the Europeans were working on bringing Ukraine into the EU system and Vladimir Putin was countering with threats and bribes, one British analyst lamented that “we went to a knife fight with a baguette.”That was three months ago. Life overtakes parody. During the Ukrainian prime minister’s visit to Washington last week, his government urgently requested military assistance. The Pentagon refused. It offered instead military ration kits.

[Download Krauthammer’s bestselling book  “Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” from Amazon]

Putin mobilizes thousands of troops, artillery and attack helicopters on Ukraine’s borders and Washington counters with baguettes, American-style. One thing we can say for sure in these uncertain times: The invasion of Ukraine will be catered by the United States.

Why did we deny Ukraine weapons? Because in the Barack Obama-John Kerry worldview, arming the victim might be taken as a provocation. This kind of mind-bending illogic has marked the administration’s response to the whole Crimea affair.

Why, after all, did Obama delay responding to Putin’s infiltration, military occupation and seizure of Crimea in the first place? In order to provide Putin with a path to de-escalation, “an offramp,” the preferred White House phrase.

An offramp? Did they really think that Putin was losing, that his invasion of Crimea was a disaster from which he needed some face-saving way out? And that the principal object of American diplomacy was to craft for Putin an exit strategy?

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Russians March against Putin

For NRO, Robert Zubrin writes: On March 15, there were two demonstrations in Moscow, one for and one against Russian intervention in Ukraine. A friend of mine in Russia sent me a link to an amateur video taken of both marches. Here it is:

The first half of the video shows the “March for Peace,” opposing intervention. The banner leading the march reads “Hands off Ukraine”; another banner further back reads “bring the Russian forces home.” The demonstrators are chanting “Russia without Putin!” In addition to Ukrainian and Russian flags, the protesters carry flags reading “Solidarity” and “Party of Progress.” A rough estimate would place the size of the demonstration at about 50,000 people.

[Robert Zubrin’s book “Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism” (New Atlantis Books) is available at Amazon]

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] More Sunday Talk Show Fun: Darth Vader Emerges, Says ‘No Question Putin Thinks Obama Is Weak’

“I think there’s no question [Putin] believes he is weak . . . ,” the former vice president told Face the Nation. “We have created an image around the world, not just to the Russians, of weakness and indecisiveness.”

The Corner – NRO


OOPS! TIME magazine, Feb 25th 2014

Time-Ukraine-Fail

Powerline‘s  Steven Hayward has an item you won’t want to miss. It begins with this question:

How come, people are asking, our vaunted intelligence establishment didn’t foresee Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine? 


Putin Smashes Washington’s Cocoon

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For The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead writes:  A Politico report calls it “a crisis that no one anticipated.” The Daily Beastreporting on Friday’s US intelligence assessment that “Vladimir Putin’s military would not invade Ukraine,” quotes a Senate aide claiming that “no one really saw this kind of thing coming.”

“Well bred and well read Americans live in an ideological and cultural cocoon and this makes them fatally slow to understand the very different motivations that animate actors ranging from the Tea Party to the Kremlin…”

Op-eds from all over the legacy press this week helped explained why. Through the rose tinted lenses of a media community deeply convinced that President Obama and his dovish team are the masters of foreign relations, nothing poor Putin did could possibly derail the stately progress of our genius president. There were, we were told, lots of reasons not to worry about Ukraine. War is too costly for Russia’s weak economy. Trade would suffer, the ruble would take a hit. The 2008 war with Georgia is a bad historical comparison, as Ukraine’s territory, population and military are much larger. Invasion would harm Russia’s international standing. Putin doesn’t want to spoil his upcoming G8 summit, or his good press from Sochi. Putin would rather let the new government in Kiev humiliate itself with incompetence than give it an enemy to rally against. Crimea’s Tartars and other anti-Russian ethnic minorities wouldn’t stand for it. Headlines like “Why Russia Won’t Invade Ukraine,” “No, Russia Will Not Intervene in Ukraine,” and “5 Reasons for Everyone to Calm Down About Crimea” weren’t hard to find in our most eminent publications.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Furious After Vladimir Putin Unfriends Him on Facebook

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WASHINGTON – The turmoil that was generated between Russia and the United States after President Vladimir Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden earlier this month escalated even further when President Obama cancelled his private meeting with the Russian president before September’s G-20 conference of world economic leaders in St. Petersburg. But the delicate fragments of alliance that remained between the two countries may have been irretrievably shredded in the proverbial fan today after Vladimir Putin unfriended President Obama on his Facebook page.

Sources inside the administration say President Obama learned of the Russian president’s Facebook coup during his morning White House briefing. Obama became quite upset when he was told the news, but upon learning that Vice President Biden and Vladamir Putin remained Facebook friends the president became enraged, forcing everyone out of the Oval Office before angrily kicking the door closed. Moments later it was discovered President Obama had signed onto his personal Twitter account and unfollowed President Putin.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interview with Mikheil Saakashvili: Lessons From the Putin Wars

Ken Fallin

Georgia’s former president, who has seen first-hand the sort of trouble the Kremlin is causing in Ukraine, on what to do about Moscow’s threat

For the Wall Street JournalMatthew Kaminski writes:  Between barricades of tires and impromptu memorials to the victims of Ukraine’s revolution, Mikheil Saakashvili stops to pose for pictures and shake hands. “You showed us how to fight Russia,” says a gray-haired man in a camouflage jacket, embracing him on Institutska Street, a front line in last week’s climactic clashes in the capital.

As the former president of the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia, Mr. Saakashvili certainly knows all about confronting Russia and Vladimir Putin. He also lost a chunk of his country in the process. Now he is here in Ukraine, a country he knows well from his youth, to advise its new leaders on how they can revive the economy as well as keep their nation intact from Russian’s potentially crippling intervention.

Mr. Saakashvili studied law and served in the Soviet military in Kiev, altogether for seven years. He has many friends and knows the major politicians, who seek out his advice.

Read the rest of this entry »


CNN: Putin Takes Obama’s Lunch Money

Twitter / NolteNC


Analysis: Is Russia’s Destiny Autocratic?

Coronation of Tsar Alexander lll

Coronation of Tsar Alexander lll

Robert Kaplan  writes:  In 1967, the late British historian Hugh Seton-Watson wrote in his epic account,The Russian Empire, 1801-1917, “If there is one single factor which dominates the course of Russian history, at any rate since the Tatar conquest, it is the principle of autocracy.” He goes on to explain how the nations of Western Europe were formed by a long struggle between “the monarchial power and the social elite.” In England, the elite usually won, and that was a key to thedevelopment of parliamentary democracy. But in Russia it was generally agreed that rather than granting special privileges to an elite, “It was better that all should be equal in their subjection to the autocrat.”

Coronation of Nicholas_II

Coronation of Nicholas_II

This profound anti-democratic tradition of Russian political culture has its roots in geography, or as Seton-Watson prefers to explain it, in military necessity. Between the Arctic ice and the mountains of the Caucasus, and between the North European Plain and the wastes of the Far East, Russia is vast and without physical obstacles to invasion. Invasion of Russia is easy, and was accomplished, albeit with disastrous results, by Napoleon and Hitler, as well as by the armies of the Mongols, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland. As Seton-Watson argues, “Imagine the United States without either the Atlantic or the Pacific, and with several first-rate military powers instead of the Indians,” and you would have a sense of Russia’s security dilemma. Whereas in America the frontier meant opportunity, in Russia, he says, it meant insecurity and oppression.

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George Will: Is Ukraine the Cold War’s Final Episode?

 (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

George Will writes:  One hundred years ago this coming Aug. 4, the day Britain declared war on Germanysocialists in the German Reichstag voted for credits to finance the war. Marxists — including Lenin, who that day was in what now is Poland — were scandalized. Marx had preached that the proletariat has no fatherland, only a transnational class loyalty to proletarians everywhere. “In 1918,” wrote Louis Fischer, Lenin’s best biographer, “patriotism and nationalism, born of the ‘subjectivism’ Lenin so disliked, were ideological crimes in Soviet Russia.”

statue-topple

These are history-shaping virtues in Ukraine today. Because the nation-state is the necessary framework for durable political liberty, nationalism is a necessary, although insufficient, impulse sustaining liberty. Marx, whose prophesies were perversely predictive because they were almost invariably wrong, predicted the end of nationalism. Economic forces, he said, determine political, cultural and psychological realities. So capitalism, with its borders-leaping cosmopolitanism, would dilute to the point of disappearance all emotional attachments to nations. Ukraine’s ferment is an emphatic, albeit redundant, refutation of Marxism.ukraine-kiev-protests-clashes

The political elites who cobbled together the European Union hoped that the pooling of national sovereignties would extinguish the nationalism that, they think, ruined Europe’s 20th century. They considered the resulting “democracy deficit” — the transfer of national parliaments’ prerogatives to Brussels bureaucrats — a price well worth paying for tranquillity.

0124-kiev-protests

Now comes turbulent Ukraine, incandescent with nationalism and eager to preserve its sovereignty by a closer relationship with the European Union.

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, is resisting the popular desire for constitutionally limited government and for a national existence more independent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence. Yanukovych wants to trade Ukraine’s aspirations for Putin’s billions.

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George Will: Ukraine ‘Asserting Itself’ Against Russia, Putin

From NRO: The Ukrainian protests are a sign of national pride and a rejection of Russian president Vladimir Putin​’s efforts to expand his influence over the region, as George Will sees it. Ukraine’s steadfastness to its distinct nationality and culture are ultimately proving resilient as evidenced by pushing back against Putin’s attempts to neutralize those sentiments, as the Soviet Union did during the mid-20th century.

“Today what you’re seeing is nationality asserting itself against the former KGB operative,” Will said on Tuesday’s Special Report. “There’s no question that Putin, who is seen by the world — certainly by those closest to him in Ukraine — as a thug and killer, is being repudiated.”

With the European continent as a whole largely subdued as a result of economic turmoil, Ukraine’s opposition to Putin offers a different story…

ukraine-violence-crowd

National Review Online


Whitewashing Communism

Sochi coverage sugar-coating a murderous regime.

Sochi coverage sugar-coats a murderous regime.

John Fund  writes:  We didn’t need the Olympics to be reminded that Vladimir Putin still has a soft spot for his nation’s defunct Communist system. In 2009, Russian state television aired a documentary called “The Wall.” It detailed how, as a KGB major in Dresden in 1989, he faced down a crowd of East German dissidents who tried to storm the local KGB office and steal its files.

“Putin succeeded in persuading the crowd to fall back,” the documentary’s maker gushed.

Russian state television had aired another program claiming that Putin brandished a pistol and told the crowd: “This is Soviet territory and you’re standing on our border. I’m serious when I say that I will shoot trespassers.”

Putin has never lost his Commie-stalgia. In 2005, he used his “state of the nation” address to tell Russians that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. . . . As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.”

If that weren’t enough proof, the Sochi Olympic Games opened last Friday with a lavish choreographed tour of Russian history. The 20th century was depicted as a time of rapid industrialization, symbolized by a hammer and a sickle floating above the performers. There wasn’t even a hint of the horrors of Stalinism or the deaths it caused.

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Toilets of Sochi

Tumblr has a page dedicated to Toilets of Sochi. We admire dedication.

tumblr_static_tos

Note: punditfromanotherplanet has a tumblr page, too. (the links lead back to here) Visit our Tumblr Chop Shop for a kaleidoscopic archive of cross-posts.


Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrates to reporters how he grabbed Obama’s balls and extracted unprecedented foreign policy concessions

"I developed this method when I was in KGB", he explained, demonstrating the ball-crushing, nut-twisting technique he employed during the meeting. "The finger grip is important, and getting the optimal angle, but it's the rotation and pressure that overwhelms the opponent."

“I developed this method when I was in KGB”, he explained, demonstrating the ball-crushing, nut-twisting technique he employed during the meeting. “The finger grip is important, and getting the optimal angle, but it’s the rotation and pressure that overwhelms the opponent.”

At his G-20 press conference in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin modestly expressed his hopes for an improved U.S.-Russia partnership. Appearing cautiously optimistic as he left the stage, formally addressing members of the press following the event, Putin said he engaged in a 20-minute “friendly conversation” with President Obama.

Backstage, however, in candid remarks to reporters, Putin entertained the international media with a surprisingly frank, earthy description of his meeting with President Obama.

A highlight of that informal conversation, according to a media source who spoke on the condition of anonymity: Vladimir Putin cheerfully demonstrated the technique he used to grab Obama by the balls, twist them, and deliver agonizing pain.

“Putin immobilized his opponent immediately” said the source. “And he laughed about how easy it was to gain advantage over the passive, unprepared, inexperienced American President.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Putin described the encounter.

“Obama’s rhetoric was beginning to bore me. I could tell by his slack demeanor, his unguarded posture, that he’s not familiar with negotiating tactics as they are practiced by more masculine world leaders, including his predecessors.”

“Obama’s shallow, tiresome habit of wishful thinking, and his bland, empty partnership overtures made it too easy to teach him a lesson about the reality of global conflict resolution. He left me a critical opening”.

Putin smiled, “I developed this method when I was in KGB”, he explained, gesturing with his hands. Reporters gasped as the Russian President curled his fingers into a fist, demonstrating the ball-crushing, nut-twisting technique he employed during the meeting.

“The finger grip is important, and getting the optimal angle, but it’s the rotation and pressure that overwhelms the opponent.” Read the rest of this entry »


Zombie-Fighting Putin and an 8-Bit Richard Nixon: Political Cameos in Video Games

Alexey Druzhinin /AFP/Getty Images

Alexey Druzhinin /AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin will fight zombies in a new game called “Don’t Mess With Putin”

 reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown he’s a tough guy in real life by hunting whales, riding a Harley Davidson with a biker gang, and horseback riding shirtless. Now, he’s going to fight zombies in a new game called “You Don’t Mess With Putin,” designed by programmer Michele Rocco Smeets and available on Android and iOS around Oct. 31.

The premise, according to RIA Novosti: zombies attack Putin’s press conference on the “Westernization of Russia’s video game industry,” killing everyone in attendance. In order to get revenge, the world leader goes after the zombies with apen of all things, spoofing the time he forced a billionaire to sign an agreement to reboot a struggling factory and then asked for the pen back. Putin’s sidekick, in two-player mode, is a video game expert named Mike, an “alcoholic and aggressive American tough-guy”…

…Putin is far from the first politician to make an appearance in a virtual game. Here are some of our other favs

TIME.com