Voices from Russia

Friday, 20 October 2017

20 October 2017. When America Threatened Russia… This was Russia’s Response

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Earlier this year, when Hillary Clinton and Obama hurled threats and imprecations at Russia, what did the Russians do? Why, they invited the kids from American embassy families to come to the big New Year shindig at the State Kremlin Palace! You could see who the juvenile brats were and who the grownups were. The Anglos threw their usual adolescent hissy fit. They wouldn’t let their kids go to the show. I think that this proves to all comers that Russia is in the right and the USA is utterly in the wrong (again). After Trump took office, things didn’t improve one little bit. Instead, they’ve gotten worse. Look at what Russia offered to our kids AFTER America issued spiteful and lying statements about the Rodina. Why, the USA hasn’t issued an apology for interfering in the 1996 Russian Election, have they? You can see what evil American neoliberalism represents. That’s both Republicans and Democrats, mind you.

How much longer shall this godless pretence last? It has the potential to destroy all civilisation. However, many of these American warmongers call themselves “Pro-Lifers”… what a demonic imposture and charade…

BMD

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

21 May 2017. THIS IS RUSSIA…

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Obama wore a “bicycle helmet”… Putin doesn’t. Putin doesn’t wear a helmet driving a Harley trike, for Chrissake…

BMD

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Barack Obama is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused to Do So

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Defenders of Barack Obama’s decision to do things like accept a 400,000 USD (22.8 million Roubles. 2.76 million Renminbi. 25.68 million INR. 548,000 CAD. 532,000 AUD. 368,000 Euros. 312,000 UK Pounds) check for a speech to a Wall Street brokerage house argue that the former president might as well cash in… everyone else does. That was Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s defence of Obama:

People are like, “Why doesn’t he not accept the money?” No, fuck that. So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards? No, no, no, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything! Fuck that, and fuck you. Make that money, Obama!

This argument, while common, comes from historical ignorance. It assumes that presidents have always found a way to leverage their political connections post-presidency to make money from interest groups and wealthy political actors. However, that isn’t the case. It used to be the norm for presidents to retire to ordinary life after their stint in the White House… just ask Harry Truman. When the Democratic president was getting ready to leave the White House in 1953, many employers approached him. The Los Angeles Times noted:

If he’s unemployed after he leaves the White House it won’t be for lack of job offers … but [he’s] accepted none of them.

One of those job offers was from a Florida real estate developer, asking him to become a “chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than 100,000 USD”… the sort of position that’s commonplace today for ex-politicians. Presumably, had Truman taken the position, it would’ve been a good deal for both parties… the president’s prestige and connections would also enrich the company. Truman declined. He wrote of his refusal to influence-peddle:

I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialise on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.

Although he had a small pension from his military service, Truman had little financial support after leaving office. He moved back into his family home in Independence MO. He insisted on being treated like anyone else. He’d tell people not to call him, “Mr President”, and settled into an ordinary routine once he was back in Independence. He’d take a morning walk through the town square. He kept an office nearby where he would answer mail from Americans. He chose to engage with just about anyone who walked into his office… not only people who wrote him big checks or invited him onto their private yachts and private islands. He once said:

Many people feel that a president or an ex-president is partly theirs… they’re right to some extent… and that they have a right to call upon him.

Indeed, his office number was in a nearby telephone directory. He eventually agreed to write a memoir for Life magazine, but it was a lengthy project, which paid a far-from-luxurious stipend. Truman’s modest life post-presidency moved Congress in 1958 to establish a pension that provides an annual cash payout as well as expenses for an office and staff.

Nevertheless, Gerald Ford shattered precedent when he joined the boards of corporations such as 20th Century Fox, hit the paid speech circuit, and became an honorary director of Citigroup. However, his successor, Jimmy Carter, who grew up in a modest home in Plains GA, didn’t follow Ford’s example. He refused to become a professional paid speaker or join corporate boards. He moved back to Plains and a crowd of neighbours and supporters welcomed him home. He quickly made himself busy as a nonprofit founder and a volunteer diplomat. He did make money post-presidency…but by serving ordinary people, not the élite. He wrote dozens of best-selling books bought by millions of people across the world… the post-presidency equivalent of small donors. Carter explained his thinking to the Guardian in 2011, telling them:

My favourite president and the one I admired most was Harry Truman. When Truman left office, he took the same position. He didn’t serve on corporate boards. He didn’t make speeches around the world for a lot of money.

The presidents who came after did not choose the same path. At a time when Japan was a major trade rival with the United States, Ronald Reagan flew to Japan for a series of paid speeches after he left office. He accepted 2 million USD (114 million Roubles. 13.8 million Renminbi. 128.4 million INR. 2.74 million CAD. 2.66 million AUD. 1.84 million Euros. 1.56 million UK Pounds) for a pair of 20-minute speeches to the Fujisankei Communications Group. An additional 5 million USD (285 million Roubles. 34.5 million Renminbi. 321 million INR. 6.85 million CAD. 6.65 million AUD. 4.6 million Euros. 3.9 million UK Pounds) went for expenses related to the visit. Both Bushes also joined the paid speech circuit, and the Clintons made over 100 million USD (5.7 billion Roubles. 690 million Renminbi. 6.42 billion INR. 137 million CAD. 133 million AUD. 92 million Euros. 78 million UK Pounds) from banks and other corporations, shortly after the Clinton presidency deregulated Wall Street. Bill Clinton lamented to a student group in 2009:

I never made any money until I left the White House. I had the lowest net worth, adjusted for inflation, of any president elected in the last 100 years, including President Obama. I was one poor rascal when I took office; but after I got out, I made a lot of money.

Obama was hardly facing poverty. He already has a 65 million USD book deal (3.705 billion Roubles. 448.5 million Renminbi. 4.173 billion INR. 89.05 million CAD. 86.45 million AUD. 59.8 million Euros. 50.7 million UK Pounds) and that 200,000 USD annual pension (11.4 million Roubles. 1.38 million Renminbi. 12.84 million INR. 274,000 CAD. 266,000 AUD. 184,000 Euros. 156,000 UK Pounds). By joining the paid speech circuit… his spokesman Eric Schultz told the press that paid speechmaking will be a fixture for the former president… Obama was making a conscious choice. Obama could have been like Truman or Carter, but instead chose to be like Bush and Clinton.

1 May 2017

Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/01/barack-obama-is-using-his-presidency-to-cash-in-but-harry-truman-and-jimmy-carter-refused/

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Why Do Progressives Like War?

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Liberals are supposed to be anti-war, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who weren’t motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.

As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment. They’re retired limousine liberals. Now, they call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. However, they also did a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation, some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria, and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. More recently, we saw the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen, and Syria in so-called humanitarian interventions, which turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems, it was “responsibility to protect time” (R2P) and the entire world trembled as they let loose the drones.

Last Friday, I started to read an op-ed in the Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system”. It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in terms that the MSM have repeated ad nauseam. Of course, it was lacking in any evidence, as if we should regard the opinions of co-opted journalists and highly-politicised senior officials in the intelligence community as sacrosanct. Not coincidentally, these are the same people who reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.

Ignatius is well-plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish, but he’s also a typical a WaPo politically correct progressive on most issues. Therefore, here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that hasn’t been demonstrated and might be false. Russia is attacking “our political system!” The WaPo isn’t alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from the New York Times and on TV news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American “hysteria” relating to anything coming out of Moscow.

Rachel Maddow is another favourite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel-good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on 26 January, she roundly chastised Russia and its President, V V Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely at Donald Trump’s election, is now keen to demonstrate that Russia has corrupted Trump and the Kremlin now controls him. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to find the underlying cause of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy”. Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.

Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow aren’t alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it isn’t, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous manoeuvring that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it wouldn’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons if someone confronts it militarily and it faced defeat. The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that’s long bedevilled a certain type of American Know-Nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there’s a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in Congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham recently said:

2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.

It’s my belief that many in the National Security State convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the USA and not because it’s a nuclear power that can strike the USA. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it’s seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump. No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and the Ukraine. In addition, it’s a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the US sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that they euphemistically describe as “peace missions”.

There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia, as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the Treasury into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military-industrial-congressional complex, but my real fear is that having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat to US vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the USA has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the USA. In fact, Washington is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilising entire regions, not Moscow. When Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the USA wasn’t so innocent it was a gross understatement.

Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right, but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the McCain camp, which demonises Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain never found a war he couldn’t support. It’d be a tragedy for the USA if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.

17 February 2017

Philip Giraldi

Unz Review

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/why-do-progressives-like-war/

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