Trump’s meeting with the leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, scheduled for Tuesday was postponed until Friday due to weather according to Deutsche Welle. Nonetheless, before the announcement The New York Times published a quite good ground-laying piece detailing Merkel’s life and views compared with Putin. Clinton’s leading Russia advisor and now President of Brookings, Strobe Talbott observes, “Chancellor Merkel is the most steadfast custodian of the concept of the liberal West going back 70 years, and that makes her Putin’s No. 1 target.” So what does it mean when there is a German Chancellor in the crosshairs of Putin who is “sometimes depicted as a cartoonish, shirtless macho man, or drawn as a master political strategist, a Slavic Machiavelli”? The New York Times provides some *Angelaspiration * by reminding us she told Der Spiegel in 2009 of the East German dictatorship she grew up in, “We had to deal with this every day,” as do we now here in Trumpistan! There is hope when she relays, “It’s a miracle that we could even unlearn it.” Whereas Merkel grew up in a Stasi dictatorship, Putin was part of that apparatus in Dresden and he learned a different lesson, namely seemingly impregnable systems can prove surprisingly vulnerable to collapse. The cautiously respectful relationship between Merkel and Putin though, especially as it pertains to her meeting with Trump, makes evident that Ukraine was “the rupture”. And of course there is the reminder that Putin once trotted out his Dobermans in front of Merkel, who is notoriously afraid of dogs, a move former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves calls “classic K.G.B.” Meanwhile those of us who still value liberal Western values as opposed to master race horrors, get to wait the full week for some more *Angelaspiration *. Please deliver us from the evils of mafia rule!

From Deutsche Welle and The New York Times.


CNN, a network that has helped to normalize the unthinkable over the last 21 months by airing Trump rallies without interruption had it’s best year ever last year thanks to Trump. Now they have pivoted to Putin hagiographies, labeling the commander and thief “the most powerful man in the world”. Naturally, CNN went with a fake to report the whole thing, serial plagiarizer Fareed Zakaria. Whether Zakaria even wrote what we are attributing to him now is a complete mystery! As is known, the Kremlin requires fakes, forgeries, lies and deceit – just like the White House! – to maintain what Putin calls his “vertical of power,” “according to” Fareed Zakaria, who “reports,” “The power of a head of state is determined both by the country’s strength and the capacity he or she has to exercise that power, unilaterally, unconstrained by other institutions, parties and political forces.” Excuse moi? In democracies, power is derived from other sources: respect, institutions and manifest in other forms such moral, social, and political. Now we have CNN shifting the goal posts to those of authoritarianism! Thanks again, CNN, between fake reports with fake journalists and Trump-a-thons for a year, rather than serving the public, CNN has helped make the public servile. Anybody remember when foreign governments could buy airtime on CNN for special reports mainly about the tourism, shopping and mineral resources sector, usually with some vaguely oriental music slapped on it so you were never too sure if it was about Macedonia or Thailand? We sort of wonder if that is not what is going on here. Also curious: how does Zakaria still have a show? A follow up CNN report notes, “Putin could potentially rule Russia until 2024, longer than anyone since Josef Stalin.” Yes, this is the language we should be discussing Putin because as Oleg Kalugin, former counter-intelligence director and KGB General, told me a decade ago, Putin’s regime “is not as bloody but just as criminal” as Stalin’s.

From CNN and CNN.





CNN has a story with an outstanding, two-snaps headline, “Spicer: Trump didn’t mean wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping,” where we get video of the daily shitshow, the White House press briefing. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “The president was very clear in his tweet it was ‘wiretapping’. That spans a host of surveillance-type of options.” This is Spicer’s way of conceding in a limited way that his boss is trapped in the eighties. POLITICO looks further into the charge then of general surveillance and the possibilities. Digital surveillance experts said a wiretap “would be preposterous and likely illegal but there is a “Section 702” loophole, one of “several sweeping foreign surveillance programs… that could conceivably pick up the digital chatter in Trump Tower.” As an example of how this might apply, POLITICO cites the possibility that “if two Trump campaign officials were talking over a Trump Tower network to, from or about a Moscow official under surveillance, that conversation might get flagged as relevant to foreign intelligence gathering operations.” What Trump has done effectively is align himself with Edward Snowden in a peculiar fashion with the “the scrutiny on this relatively obscure FISA provision,” and the PRISM or Upstream programs Snowden exposed. How odd that a man who wants all the power in the world in his hands would not want a powerful intelligence apparatus to defend that power – unless he felt they were “like Nazi Germany,” oh wait, he does think that, and he also thinks they are against him and his authoritarian will.






In recent days, headlines in the U.S. media would seem to foretell a military coup should they appear in any other nation’s media. Here as such an outcome is wholly without precedent (it would be “unpresidented” if you prefer), it is impossible to predict the future but, as a Soviet radio presenter reporting on the Politburo once said, the past is changing before our very eyes! Defense One has this heartache of a headline: “When the Generals Become Democracy’s Guardian”. “In recent weeks, whether it has been Jim Mattis on torture or Bill McRaven on press freedoms, some of the most prominent retired officers in Americamen with impeccable combat credentials—have pushed back on some of the uglier populist impulses of the new Trump administration,” Defense One reports. Nonetheless this reality presents real problems for “both liberal values and the role of the military officer corps in American society.” While the author spends much of the time discussing the role of the military in Israeli politics, the insights offered at the beginning and the end as far as America’s present predicament are prescient. “Any talk of an actual deep state in America is absurd—and exasperates scholars of Turkey, in particular,” especially since early discussion of purging the deep state in the U.S. belays how little understanding of the mechanisms of a true deep state such conspiracy theories. “Right now, it’s the diplomats and spies in the cross-hairs of the Trump administration,” as well it would be, but the Federal Reserve and the Pentagon should beware they are on the list. For now, Trump’s strategy is give the military everything they want and allow the rank and file to indulge in this toxic masculinity Trump has given permission to. I expect the generals indeed know better.

From Defense One.



According to U.S. News and World Report, “President Donald Trump’s national security team is not considering any increase in cooperation with Russia against the Islamic State group in Syria, according to multiple current advisers and former officials” who have seen the Pentagon’s plan to defeat the group. Yes, Trump’s “secret plan” that he did not want to disclose during the campaign less the enemy find out was simply to ask the generals at the Pentagon. Members of the military, notably Defense Secretary General James Mattis “have expressed deep skepticism about Russia’s ability to stand by previous commitments it’s made to the U.S. or reveal its true intentions in Syria.” U.S. officials say 80 percent of Russia’s air strikes in Syria have actually hit rebels fighting the Assad regime not ISIS, as it seems there no longer is a pretense that Assad and ISIS are in conflict. A former defense official and national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden now with the Center for a New American Security, Julianne Smith, cautions wisely that with Russia, “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, but they’ll essentially be unable to meet their end of the bargain.”

From U.S. News and World Report.



The AP takes a look at the possibilities of who might be responsible for the theft and disclosure to WikiLeaks of “Vault 7,” the trove of CIA hacking tools leaked by the hacking tool Julian Assange. The AP observes, “Spies go rogue for many reasons: money, a quest for fame, ego, they are coerced or compromised. While money has often been a key motivator, more recent examples like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were ostensibly for reasons of delivering the public information, at least neither was directly motivated by money. A retired U.S. intelligence officer now working in the private intel sector in London named Bob Ayers said, “”I think the Russians are behind it, I really do”. Another cyber security expert James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington also suspects a Kremlin hand “which he says has used WikiLeaks in the past.”

From The AP.




Russia has chosen its Eurovision entry amid boycott threats due to the contest’s location in Kyiv this year since Jamala won with her ballad “1944,” which somehow got passed the song contest’s prohibition on politically driven songs. She won last year’s contest in Stockholm with her song about the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars by Stalin, earning Ukraine the right to host the contest this year. Russia will be sending Yulia Samoilova with a song, “The Fire Is Burning”. Samoilova is an interesting choice for a few reasons. First, nationalist members of the parliament want no one to go to a nation that Russia is engaged in a proxy war with where it concedes no official involvement in. Samoilova is also wheel chair bound and lastly, the title of this song, my goodness! I am sure they imagine a torch of glory, somehow though I think of a dumpster fire inside the Kremlin.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.


Russian state-run Sputnik reports a Vitaly Churkin Street is coming to the largest city in divided Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, Banja Luka. It’s a tribute to Churkin for blocking a UN draft resolution on Srebrenica, the Bosnian town where Serb forces murdered 8,000, mostly men, during the conflict in the 1990s. The move was initiated by the city’s member of parliament, Marko Dragisic, “at a request by the local community,” according to Russian state-run Sputnik. Churkin’s ostensible justification was that passing the UN resolution would “deepened divisions inside Bosnia, made up of a Christian Serbian and a Muslim Bosniak entities.” Also a convenient time to recall that denial is the last stage of genocide.

From Russian state-run Sputnik.


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