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Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I watched the Putin-Trump press conference.  I do not speak Russian, but I do speak English.  I also have the average human being's ability to read body language.  My personal judgment?  Putin has something on Trump.


Anonymous said...

It's like an autocratic regional manager of a chain store suddenly meeting someone from the corporate head office.

MS said...

It does appear that way.

But how serious could it be that Trump would not feel confident that he could lie his way out of it and still maintain the support of his base?

The alleged sex tape he could claim was a Russian imposter that looked like him, or was computer generated, and his base would believe him. Moreover, sex scandals do not seem to mortify him, e.g., Stormy Daniels.

Laundered money from Russian mobsters? Fake news. It is not likely he would be indicted or impeached for crimes committed before he campaigned for President or was elected. It would have to be crimes committed during his administration or perhaps during the campaign. It is generally understood that the term "high crimes and misdemeanors" refers to the abuse of a public office and would therefore involve misconduct while holding office.

That would leave evidence of actual collusion with Russian agents during the campaign, which after the election he falsely claimed had not occurred. But then Putin would have to disclose that Russia did interfere in the election.

I am mystified.

Hopefully, Robert Mueller will eventually have the answer.

s. wallerstein said...

This is getting entertaining.

Putin must have something "special" about Trump, something which Trump fears, for example, a little tape of Trump in drag or participating in gay sex (passive role) or Trump paying someone to kill a business rival maybe in Russia. Putin seems to know something about Trump which if exposed, will destroy Trump, either by liquidating his self-image as an alpha macho or by implicating him a crime which not even Trump supporters will laugh about.

Robert Shore said...

With all the hullabaloo over the possible interference of Russia on the 2016 election, it should be remembered that the US has interfered many many times in the politics of other countries including helping Boris Yeltsin get elected in 1996! And while on the subject of other countries interfering in US politics why does no one ever criticize the Netanyahu government of Israel for its huge influence on US politics which dwarfs to insignificance any influence that Russia might have, including helping Trump get elected because he was much more likely to favor Israel than Hillary would have been. Events like the move of the US Israel embassy to Jerusalem and the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA nuclear treaty with Iran have shown how right they were.

Robert Shore said...

Sorry, I was wrong about no one criticizing the influence of Netanyahu on American politics including the 2016 presidential election. Take a good look at today's Juan Cole's Informed Comment with the headline: DC Elites Shocked at Trump Bromance with Putin but Give Israel’s Netanyahu a Pass

There is something profoundly hypocritical about US elites pretending that the US doesn’t embrace people like Putin all the time

s. wallerstein said...

Robert Shore,

The U.S. has embraced worse people than Putin: Somoza, Trujillo, Pinochet, Papa Doc, Suharto, Marcos, the Sha of Iran, Franco, but until now it was always clear that the U.S. was the boss. What freaks people out now is that it seems that Putin, not Trump, is calling the shots. I can't say that I'm crying over the situation myself.

MS said...

I'm sorry, but I have to take issue with Robert Shore's comments about Israel and comparing Netanyahu's conduct with regard to opposing President Obama's policies regarding Israel, and Putin and Russia's interference in the U.S. election.

Let me make clear, I am not a fan of Netanyahu and disagree with many of Israel's policies. I resented Netanyahu's appearance before a joint session of Congress in order to lobby against the proposed treaty with Iran. I do not support AIPAC. So yes, Netanyahu's appearance before Congress and his support of Mitt Romney over Obama were a form of interference in U.S. politics, and I disagreed with it.

However, to compare it to what Putin and Russia are accused of having done during the 2016 Presidential campaign is, frankly, ludicrous. Putin and Russia are accused of having violated U.S. law, hacked into the DNC email server, stolen emails, distributed those emails in order to influence the outcome of the election, planted false and outrageous stories on social media sites, and, perhaps, in doing so, actively colluded with Trump's campaign in order to enhance his election prospects.

I am not aware of any claims that Israel has violated U.S. law or ever engaged in comparable conduct in order to promote its political preferences in this country. Netanyahu expressed his opposition to the nuclear treaty with Iran publicly, allowing for public scrutiny and public criticism. AIPAC, whose positions I oppose, does not hide them.

The term "election interference" encompasses a broad range of conduct, some more nefarious and sinister than others. One is not a hypocritical elite for being able to make nuanced distinctions between such forms of conduct. If we are going to promote cogent analysis of current events, we need to use language responsibly.

Anonymous said...

MS said:

"I am not aware of any claims that Israel has violated U.S. law ..."

That does not make Israel innocent of playing politics in Washington D.C. Schumer, for example, is in a similar uncomfortable grip of Israeli politics as the president is of Russia. Your defense reverts to narrow definitions and legal boundaries, but ignores the common sense reading of the situation. Shore's comments are entirely accurate, justified, and on the point.

Anonymous said...

"Take Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is guilty of most of the same infractions held against Putin. Netanyahu openly campaigned for the Republican candidates in 2012 and 2016. He openly interfered in US politics by insisting on addressing Congress to derail the Iran nuclear deal (a quest in which he ultimately succeeded, putting the US closer to war footing with Iran)."

(From Juan Cole's Blog)

Sure, the Israel lobby is strong in the USA, and most of us here probably call the strength of that relationship into question. Fine.

But there's a big difference between Netanyahu "openly interfering" and lobbying for policy to one of its allies, and Russia clandestinely breaking into servers, leaking data, planting disinformation, and doing who knows what else to interfere directly with the election...all while its leader continues to completely deny any such actions.

Not to mention, Israel is our puppet, while Russia is a competing world superpower that actually poses a threat to us. It's just not a great comparison, except in the minds of the always-Israel-obsessed commentators.

Guy Tennenbaum said...

S. Wallerstein,

Please spare us the schadenfruede. Countries are not discrete moral agents existing over time. They’re made up of individual people. Some people, like me, have for most of our adult lives been aware of the U.S.’s role in propping up the people you mentioned (all of whom reigned before I was born). Yet we still have to suffer the aftermath of the T***p/Putin alliance, which includes the real possiblity that from here on out our elections will no longer be free and fair. Nobody benefits when the net amount of evil is increased in the world. And when a nationa as powerful as the US turns full-on authoritarian, God help us all, including you.

Guy Tennenbaum said...

And I might add: Do you think Henry Kissinger is suffering one iota from whatever relationship the current occupant of the White House has with the president of Russia? Probably not, seeing as how the Kissinger was feted in the Oval Office not too many months ago.

Anonymous said...

Juan Cole:
Netanyahu runs spy rings against the United States far more aggressive and extensive than those of European countries, the seriousness of which Congressional staffers have found “sobering.”

Is there really such a big difference between Netanyahu "openly interfering" and lobbying for policy to one of its allies, and Russia clandestinely breaking into servers, leaking data, planting disinformation, and doing who knows what else to interfere directly with the election...all while its leader continues to completely deny any such actions.?

s. wallerstein said...

Ed Barreras,

"Free and fair elections"?

Since when?

As Chomsky points out, the biggest interference in the U.S. electoral process in 2016 was, as always, corporate financing, not the evil Mr. Putin.

By the way, the electoral college can hardly be called "free and fair".

Guy Tennenbaum said...

S. Wallerstein,

What I was referring to was the fact that U.S. elections are (for the most part) thought to be “clean,” meaning that vote tallies aren’t changed. That is no longer a guarantee. And will the current leadership do anything to rectify the situation given that they stand to benefit from it?

And if Chomsky can decry the effects of corporate propoganda in American elections, surely he can do the same for propoganda issued by thuggish foreign powers bent on advancing their own interests.