Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Does Trump Still Refuse to Criticize Putin?

The article below from "The Atlantic" does establish their case that Trump goes out of his way to stay friendly with Russia but they have no answer to the "Why" in their heading.  They even acknowledge that his attitude probably does him political harm.

It seems not to have occurred to them that it is very much in America's self-interest to be on friendly terms with Russia and that Trump is in fact being statesmanlike in his attitude. Consider if there is serious trouble over North Korea. Russia could in various ways seriously hamper what Trump could do if it wanted to.  Given Trump's friendliness, however, Putin will almost certainly do nothing -- leaving all options open for Trump.

The Left, on the other hand,  seem to want a return to the Cold War, which seems to me to be borderline insane.  Didn't we have enough of that last century?

Note that I said above something that will grind a few Leftist mental gears if it ever gets into their heads:  "Trump statesmanlike"!  Heresy!  But it fits

The president not only won’t denounce Russia, but he goes out of his way to avoid it—like when he thanked the Kremlin on Thursday for expelling U.S. diplomats.

President Trump is most comfortable when he’s on the verbal offensive. He loves a good war of words, whether his target is a foreign adversary, a foreign ally, a Republican rival, or Rosie O’Donnell. According to a New York Times tally, Trump has attacked 351 separate people, places, and things on Twitter alone since July 2015.

The president has demonstrated that tendency this week, with his escalating, improvised threats against North Korea and his parallel assault on Mitch McConnell, his most important ally in Washington.

Those feuds make Trump’s refusal to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin all the more conspicuous.

On July 30, Putin announced that Russia was forcing the U.S. State Department to reduce its staff in Russia by 755 people. (For the most part, those who were laid off were Russians working for the embassy, not American diplomats.) Trump, who often can’t let a provocation on cable news go unanswered for more than a few hours, was uncharacteristically quiet.

He finally broke his silence, after a fashion, on August 3, the day he signed a bill increasing sanctions on Russia in retaliation for interfering in the 2016 election. Trump had opposed the legislation, but it passed Congress with veto-proof majorities, leaving him little choice but to sign it. There are many reasons Russo-American relations are strained: Russian anger at expansion of NATO, longstanding global rivalries, the Russian annexation of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine, years of Russian human-rights abuses, and Russian tampering with the election. Trump chose to place blame for the rocky state of the relationship not on any of those issues, and certainly not on Putin, but squarely on Congress. Just for good measure, he tossed in an unrelated jab at the failure of an Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan:

"Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!"

There was still not a word about Putin’s forced cuts at the U.S. embassy. Finally, on Thursday, Trump weighed in. His comments were surprising—not only did he not criticize Putin, but he thanked him:

I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There's no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.
Was Trump speaking with tongue in cheek? It’s possible, but he didn’t smile when he said it. (The president has often tried to pass off apparently serious comments as jokes after the fact, in order to defuse situations.) The remark fits with his attempt to cut costs at the State Department and his disdain for traditional diplomacy.

But even if the whole thing was a joke, it’s still astonishing that Trump’s response to Russian retaliation was to thank the retaliators. This doesn’t mean the only option is an eye for an eye; a simple public complaint is standard in cases of diplomatic retaliation like this. (Part of the problem is that Trump seems to have two modes: conciliation and escalation. The idea of criticizing without raising the stakes is foreign to him.)

The strange thing about Trump’s comments about Putin is not merely that he won’t criticize him, but that he goes out of his way to avoid it. The tweet about Russian relations and his remarks on Thursday were hardly the only times this has happened. And that’s even leaving aside Trump’s repeated praise for the Russian leader during the campaign, when he praised Putin’s leadership, suggested he’d allow the annexation of Crimea, and publicly called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Let’s draw a line between what Trump said on the campaign trail and what he’s said since the election. Although he had been briefed before November 8, it was after the election that he began getting full intelligence briefings on Russian interference. Since then, there has also been an increasing focus on interference among members of the public, press, and Congress. In other words, Trump has had many more incentives to distance himself from Russia. Instead, he’s continued to hold his fire.

On February 4, Trump told Bill O’Reilly, “I do respect [Putin]. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them.” O’Reilly pressed Trump on Putin’s murders of dissidents and journalists. Trump wouldn’t criticize Putin for those crimes, and suggested the United States was no better. “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”

He has also repeatedly declined to accept the idea that Russia meddled in the election, even though it is the conclusion of all the major intelligence agencies, and even though many of his top aides have said they blame Russia for hacking attacks. In June, he called the attacks “a big Dem HOAX.”

In early July, during a trip to Poland, he halfway accepted that Russia might have been behind them, then backed off the statement and worked to muddy the waters:

"I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries. It could have been a lot of people. I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time, it’s been happening for many, many years."

Yet he added: “Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.”

Later that week, Trump had his first face-to-face meeting with Putin, at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. U.S. and Russian accounts of the meeting initially diverged, with the United States saying Trump had pressed Putin forcefully on the hacking, and Russia saying Trump had accepted Putin’s denials.

Two days later, Trump cleared things up with a pair of tweets that basically confirmed the Russian account:

Given that Trump had already said he was dubious of Russian interference, that tweet reads as an acknowledgment that he accepted their denial.

The question is why Trump has worked so hard to avoid criticizing Putin—especially when there’s a clear political downside to appearing cozy with the Russian bear.

There is little obvious foreign-policy advantage. During the campaign and early in his presidency, Trump argued that the United States ought to launch a charm offensive in order to improve relations with Russia. Whether that was right or wrong, and whether Congress or someone else is to blame, that approach is obsolete today. As Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Russia have all admitted, relations are now at a low ebb.

Even if Trump fully believes that Putin is a spotless, admirable leader falsely accused of various crimes, it would be to his benefit to create some separation, and a matter as simple as expulsion of diplomats offers a good chance for Trump to stand up for his country. Putin, like any foreign leader, understands that sometimes a head of state has to shore himself up domestically and would surely interpret a few hostile words from Trump in that light. (Alternatively, even if one believes Trump is a bought-and-paid-for puppet of the Kremlin, why wouldn’t he publicly denounce Putin to buy himself some maneuvering room?)

Given Trump’s affection for authoritarian leaders and fixation on projecting strength, the simplest explanation for Trump’s refusal to criticize Putin might be that he doesn’t want to give the impression that he has been cowed into changing his view. Perhaps he’s thinking that if he allows his critics to troll him into offering harsh words, it would show that they are stronger than him—and if he acknowledges Russian interference in the election, it undermines the legitimacy of his victory in 2016.

In fact, his actions are making him look weak, but not in the way he thinks. His refusal to criticize Putin even in the case of diplomatic retaliation gives the impression that he is intimidated by the Kremlin and doesn’t have it in him to be tough. The president has cut off his nose to spite his face, and is now willing to cut off an ear or a lip if he must.

During his only press conference between the election and inauguration, on January 11, Trump fielded questions about his affection for the Russian leader.

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability,” he said. “Now, I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t. And if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that?”

Seven months later, it seems clear that she couldn’t have been any less tough.


This Week's Google Code Jam Won by a Male for Umpteenth Straight Time

Sport computer programming superstar Gennady Vladimirovich Korotkevich of Belarus won the 2017 Google Code Jam world finals in Dublin yesterday. This marks the fourth straight year Korotkevich, who looks a little like QB Tom Brady, has won Google’s programming tournament.

Also, this marks the 14th time in 14 years that a man has won the Google-sponsored contest. In fact, I am told, all the finalists ever in the history of Google’s event (there were 20 finalists flown in by Google to its Dublin office this year), have been guys. (Note that I haven’t been able to check that myself.) *

Commenter Candid Observer points out an interesting comment on Brooks’ NY Times column:

Observation: Google has run a coding competition (Code Jam) since 2003. It attracts tens of thousands of applicants now, including thousands of women, to compete in a multiple round contest leading up to a field of 20 finalists. This is a “hard” advance competition – no bonus points awarded for, say, lacking a penis. Google has used it to identify their best and brightest job prospects.

There has never been a female finalist. Ever. Unless you count “Code Jam for Women”, rolled out in 2014.

Probability alone would say that if only 5-10% of entrants were women, and they were as likely to to have the same skill sets and ability as men, that we should have seen a female finalist by now. The numbers actually match nicely with the list of top Chess players, which only 1 woman can really say she could/can compete at the highest level.

None of this says anything about any individual male or female, other than that testing and real world competition have shown that in (at least) certain mathematical and spatial cognition tasks, there are far more men than women who are above average to the tune of multiple standard deviations. No doubt there are other tasks where men are more likely to appear on the low end. But that is not a useful and employable skill set at Google.

* Update: Commenter Jimmyriddle points out that, judging by the picture of the 25 Google Code Jam finalists in 2011, one finalist appears to be a girl. So it’s probably an exaggeration to say that all the Google finalists ever have been male.


UK: 'Racist' Muslim sex gangs: MPs demand tougher sentences for grooming young white girls

Britain's courts should treat Asian Muslim grooming gangs behind the abuse of hundreds of white teenage girls as racially aggravated criminals, leading MPs and campaigners have demanded.

The demand was issued as senior politicians and prosecutors admitted that political correctness may have stopped the gangs being properly pursued and punished after another ring of Asian mainly muslim sex offenders was convicted in Newcastle.

The Attorney General was facing calls to review the sentences of several members of the 18-strong Newcastle gang after it emerged the apparently racially-aggravated nature of their crimes was not reflected in their punishment.

The men, mostly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin were convicted of plying vulnerable and underage white girls with drink and drugs before sexually abusing and raping them.


Trump Got Your Tongue, Media?

Ann Coulter on immigration:

The current issue of Newsweek (yes, it’s still in business!) has a picture of President Trump sitting in a recliner, with snacks and an iPad in his lap, pointing his TV remote at the viewer, blazoned with the headline, “Lazy Boy.”

Liberals only wish.

Last week, the president joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to announce legislation that would make seminal changes to our immigration laws for the first time in more than half a century, profoundly affecting the entire country.

The media have chosen not to cover the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment). This bill is their worst nightmare.

Instead of admitting immigrants on the basis of often specious “family” ties, the bill would finally allow us to choose the immigrants we want, based on merit, with points granted for skills, English proficiency, advanced degrees, actual job offers and so on.

Most Americans have no idea that we have zero say about the vast majority of immigrants pouring into our country. Two-thirds of all legal immigrants get in not because we want them — or even because Mark Zuckerberg wants them — but under idiotic “family reunification” laws.

The most important provision of the RAISE Act would define “family” the way most Americans think of it: your spouse and minor children.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the Third World thinks of “family.” In tribal societies, “family” means the whole extended clan — adult siblings, elderly parents and brothers-in-law, plus all their adult siblings and elderly parents, and so on, ad infinitum.

Entire tribes of immigrants are able to bully their way in and, as legal immigrants, are immediately eligible for a whole panoply of government benefits. Suddenly, there’s no money left in the Social Security Trust Fund, and Speaker Paul Ryan is telling Americans they’re going to have to cut back.

At some point, American businesses are going to have to be told they can’t keep bringing in cheap foreign labor, changing the country and offloading the costs onto the taxpayer. But that’s not this discussion. Business owners want cheap workers — not the disabled parents of cheap workers.

In a sane world, merely introducing such an important bill — with the imprimatur of a president elected on his immigration stance — would force the media to finally discuss the subject they have been deliberately hiding from the public.

Has Trump personally endorsed any other legislation like this? He harangued congressional Republicans on Twitter to pass some Obamacare replacement, but he never endorsed a specific bill.

But, you see, there’s a reason the media don’t want to talk about immigration.

With a full public airing, Americans would finally understand why recent immigrants seem so different from earlier waves, why income inequality is approaching czarist Russia levels, why the suicide rate has skyrocketed among the working class, and why all our government benefits programs are headed toward bankruptcy.

As Stephen Miller, the president’s inestimable speechwriter, said, some legislative proposals “can only succeed in the dark of night” and some “can only succeed in the light of day.” This is a light-of-day bill.

So, naturally, the media refuse to mention it, except to accuse Miller of being a white nationalist for knowing hate-facts about the Emma Lazarus poem not being part of the original Statue of Liberty. (It’s the Statue of Liberty, not Statute of Liberty, media.)

They ignore this bill so they can get on to the important business of Trump’s tweets, who’s up and who’s down in the White House, and Russia, Russia, Russia.

According to my review of Nexis archives, there was only a single question about the RAISE Act on any of the Sunday morning shows: Chris Wallace’s last question to his very important Republican guest. Unfortunately, his very important Republican guest was amnesty-supporting nitwit Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who sniped about Trump employing foreign guest workers at Mar-a-Lago.

However that may be, guest workers have absolutely nothing to do with the RAISE Act, which, as Miller heroically tried to explain to clueless reporters, concerns only green-card holders, i.e., lawful permanent residents — not guest workers, not illegal aliens and not a poem Scotch-taped onto Lady Liberty in 1903.

At least the media aren’t deluded about the popularity of their position. Discussing immigration is a total loser for them. They know what they want is not supported by anyone.

Low-wage workers don’t want hundreds of thousands of low-skilled immigrants being dumped on the country every year. Employers don’t want the deadbeat cousins of their cheap workers. Americans on public assistance don’t want foreigners competing with them for benefits. Boneheaded Scandinavian communities that welcomed refugees don’t want to turn their entire town budgets over to various foreign tribes.

In a recent Numbers USA poll of voters in 10 swing states with vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, only 22 percent of respondents thought immigrants should be allowed by right to bring in “family” other than spouses and minor children.

Make the senators vote, Mr. President!

Donald Trump was elected president, beating the smartest, most qualified woman in the world, by proposing to put Americans first on immigration. This bill makes good on that promise.

There’s a reason the media won’t discuss it. If Trump were smart, he’d talk about nothing else.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: