The World Doesn’t Trust Putin – But, They Trust Trump Even Less

❝ Russian President Vladimir Putin inspires little confidence when it comes to handling world affairs, a Pew Research Center survey showed. But he still outshines his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

“Although confidence in Putin’s handling of foreign affairs is generally low, in many countries he is more trusted than American President Donald Trump,” Pew wrote in a survey focused on Russia’s power and influence. Pew is a Washington-based non-partisan research group.

❝ A median 60 percent of people in 37 countries, including the U.S., said they lack confidence in the Russian leader’s actions in world affairs, versus 26 percent who said he’s doing a good job. Pew didn’t provide matching statistics for Trump in a survey focused on Russia, but of the 36 countries canvassed on who they trust more, 22, including Germany, France and Japan, trust Putin more than Trump, according to the pollster’s 2017 spring survey.

❝ The survey was conducted Feb. 16 to May 8, before Trump set global markets on edge in August by tweeting threats to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea should the hermit regime threaten U.S. territory with any of its intercontinental ballistic missiles. It also preceded Trump’s decision to sign a bill deepening sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. The Kremlin retaliated by ordering the U.S. to slash staff at its diplomatic missions.

Now that Trump voters have had time to watch their 1-percenter superhero in action I’m forced to continue to rely on the Mencken analysis of decision-making by American consumers, e.g., “You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of Americans.”

Believing Trump’s blatant lies, ignorance and bigotry would somehow change things for the better for folks who work for a living in America requires a qualitative leap in gullibility. Even in a land brainwashed by decades of advertising about, say, cigarettes “without a cough in a carload”.

Trump returns to cowardice – blames opposition to Nazis and Klan for clash


Trump speaking at his NYC Berghof

President Trump on Tuesday condemned the counter-protesters who showed up at Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, stating that they had attacked the other group and were partially responsible for the violence that ensued. His comments drew swift criticism from those who believed the president was attempting to justify the initial rally, which was meant to protest the removal of a Confederate monument and unite white supremacists and Nazi-sympathizers behind a common cause…

Trump then claimed that the counter-protesters initiated the clashes by “violently attacking the other group.” He did not present evidence to support the claim.

Those poor little racists and nazis need Trump to defend them, I guess.

He’s already gathering in the fruits of his sophistry getting congratulations from the Klan leader David Duke:

Sorry, folks. I have no sympathy for folks who were gullible enough to believe Trump’s campaign lies. All he did was imitate the worst of the politicians he said he condemned. That’s flattery, not an alternative.

Now, the whole nation must suffer under a morally bankrupt, profiteering thug. The United States is a laughingstock to the rest of the world. We are ruled by a man without the courage to stand up to racism and bigotry, a man who condemns ordinary citizens whose home town is invaded by criminals and push back to let them know they are not wanted.

Mafioso love the free market


Photo/AFP

❝ Democracy and free markets are intimately connected to organised crime, notes Federico Varese in this new book, Mafia Life, his wide-ranging exploration of global mafias. Authoritarian regimes don’t scruple to stamp out their power, he explains, while democracies often come up short.

Powerful mafias emerged in Sicily, Japan and Russia as their societies underwent a sudden transition to the market economy, abetted by weak legal structures. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Varese suggests, the West was focused on the rush to privatisation, when it should have been helping to strengthen legal institutions. It was a costly error.

❝ Varese has been studying organised crime for more than two decades and has worked as an adviser on the Russian mafia to John le Carré on his 2010 novel Our Kind of Traitor. In Mafia Life, he digs deep into the culture and practices of Japanese Yakuza, Hong Kong Triads, the Sicilian Mafia and their Italian-American counterparts, as well as post-Soviet criminal gangs.

❝ The last have their roots in the vory-v-zakone – men who follow the code – a Russian criminal class that the French-Russian spy Maximilien de Santerre encountered in the gulags in the late Forties, noting their elaborate religious tattoos and private language.

RTFA for more on the sub-culture that so many politicians are willing to join in bed and elections.

Donald Trump refuses to call out white supremacist violence

❝ Donald Trump refuses to name the problem of white supremacist violence

His remarks on violence in Charlottesville were ignorance to the point of callousness.

❝ White nationalists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend against the removal of Confederate statues in public spaces. White nationalists attacked counter-protesters on Friday night, punching and kicking them and (reportedly) pepper-spraying them. One counter-protester was killed and several were injured when a car rammed into them after accelerating for over a block.

President Trump blamed both sides

❝ This is not just a failure to condemn the white nationalists who were responsible for the bulk of the violence and disorder in Charlottesville with the same vehemence that Trump condemns “radical Islamic terrorism” during any attack of any size in the US or abroad. It is an actively misleading account of what happened.

It implies that both rally-goers and counterprotesters were equally to blame for violence, leaving the door wide open for Trump supporters to assume that “the left” started it. It implies that the “hate and division” are equally distributed, and that the counterprotesters seeking to stand up to the rallygoers are every bit as hateful as the rallygoers sporting swastika pins. And by calling for the “swift restoration of law and order,” it implies that the problem is disrespect for police — encouraging the misinterpretation that this is somehow the fault of anyone else but the white nationalists themselves.

Racism and violence go together like ham and cheesy excuses from chickenshit politicians. They are as American as apple pie – and they’ve been around in this land since the first day white folks landed and shoved nonwhites to the side of the road. Centuries have passed and lip service from politicians hasn’t changed anything. People of courage and conscience have. Threatening the gravy train in city hall, the statehouse, Congress and the White House has provoked every bit of change in modernizing the halfway decent start we had to a Constitution.

It took pressure and demonstrations to bring voting rights to all – and change in the legislation provided by politicians running scared from that pressure. Now, with one of the two candyass parties we’re allowed campaigning on the basis of shutting down voting rights a fightback is imperative.

Nazis and racists are emboldened by a thug in the White House they feel is one of their own. Certainly, his failure to stand responsibly aids their reactionary cause. It’s time all people of conscience acted to slide the mostly creeps in Congress out of office, work to elect independent, progressive women and men to office whether they’re called Democrats or Republicans or whatever they choose!

Republican Congress raises price for senior National Park passes 800%

❝ As Cathy Morin neared her 62nd birthday last month, she knew she was just about to qualify for one of the country’s best bargains. For just $10, senior citizens can buy passes that give them lifetime entry to national parks and other public lands as well as discounts on campgrounds and other amenities.

Around her birthday, she learned that she’d have to move quickly to take advantage of that deal. The pass has cost $10 since 1994, but in December, Congress voted to increase the price to $80. On July 10, in the middle of their busiest season, the National Park Service announced the new price would start on August 28. So at the end of July, Morin hustled over to a U.S. Forest Service office about 10 miles away from her home, Conejos Peak Ranger District, which is part of the Rio Grande National Forest in southwestern Colorado. “You might as well save $70,” says Morin, a retired former hospital worker. “Once you’re retired and on a limited income, that looks like a really good deal.”…

And that’s what it’s all about, folks. Unless you’re in a tax bracket protected by Congressional pimps, the first thing you better learn about retirement is how to search for a deal. You live in a society that considers retirement, healthcare, a privilege – not a right. Tough enough we still have to fight for education and opportunity for the generations to follow, we must be on guard in the months following an election cycle when the reality of campaign-lies is dissolved in puddles of green controlled by lobbyists for corporate America.

❝ The passes can be used at more than 2,000 sites, including wildlife refuges, national forests and places run by the Bureau of Land Management. They’re good for any people traveling in the same passenger vehicle as a passholder or for three additional adults.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which processes the requests for passes, is overwhelmed. Currently, it takes 12 weeks for people who apply to receive the passes. In the meantime, the receipts are good for entry and discounts.

RTFA for details and motivation to get while the getting is good. Sure, the mid-term elections may bring a reversal of the fools who believed the Trumpkin lies along with the usual Republican hustle. Maybe Democrats will develop some backbone if for nothing more than fear of being displaced by Bernie-style progressives. Either road, you should have learned by now that Establishment politics at all levels of government are good for what they promise if you stay ready to do some arm-twisting.