Sunday, November 19, 2017

Can your kids be friends with anyone?

What's In A Title?

Ekow Yankah’s op-ed in the NYT -- Can My Children Be Friends With White People? – has attracted remarkable attention, despite a silly argument that should have been dismissed out of hand.  The fact that serious and educated people waste any time on this says something about the state of discourse in the USA. 

Ekow Yankah: No You Can't Have Friends

Of course, it gets that attention because of the title, which is provocative, but, in an odd way, politically correct, since the rich and power don’t much care what marginalized people such as many "blacks" (sic)  might not like them.    

Liberal, middle class "whites" (sic) might care about liberal, middle class "blacks" unfriending them because they are often neighbors. 

It's a silly article and a silly argument.

But the NYT likes such things because they get unthinking people stirred up.

 I can think of only one other title that excite people more:
"Can my children be friends with Jews?"  Naturally, the NYT would never publish that, even if the argument -- logically speaking -- is substantially the same if it conflated "Jews" with Zionists.

Could you wrtie an article like : "Can My Children Be Friends With Black People?"  As Rod Dreher points out in the American Conservative an article of that kind got John Derbyshire fired.  
The answer to the question is: no.

Yankah may not get applause for his article.  But his critics are quick to qualify their discomfort with his ideas with loads of sympathy.  Honk, honk, honk, honkey.

The White Yankah
 Honk If You Are A Honkey
“I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible. When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is at fault.”
Hue?  A variation in color.  Which reminds us that melanin is one color.  And "color" is just a matter of shade".  Which is to say, there are Fifty Shades of "Black" and also Fifty Shades of "White" in this perverse racial S/M game we play. 

Keep in mind that we really don’t know what “hue” his kids are.  They could be almost "white" like their mother.  Or very African looking like Dad. While Yankah is very dark. The multiracial mother is “white”.  

DNA testing shows we are almost all mongrels. And, as with most animals, healthier and happier for it. 

This whole “black/ white” dualism is an arbitrary heuristic that makes little sense -- it is counter-factual, a mass delusion.  At least 85% of "blacks" have "white" DNA.  And as much as 30% of "whites".

Like I said, "mongrels".  Me too.  Black.  Indian. But I look white, except for a mongoloid cast to my eyes.  

What Yankah is really talking about when he uses this word “hue” (shade) is appearance – , as I have just said, visible difference – which means “otherness”.

He is talking about belonging to community on the basis of  "sameness"   -- determined by stereotypes of what a member of that community is supposed to look like.  "Supposed" to look like?  According to whom?

But Yankah doesn't belong to that community which he claims to represent.   

Mr. Yankah, by his own admission, was raised in a tolerant community.  He is obviously affluent and who teaches at a very liberal Jewish University.  He is married to a woman who is mixed racially – but, like me, looks white. He lives in an upper middle class liberal community.  He never experienced the kind of trauma that poor black kids endure daily on the Mean Streets. 
He talks about “black” people as if he knew them -- just because he looks African.   

Has he ever been homeless?  Does he know the Mean Streets? No.  He’s has probably drive those streets in his BMW. But he hasn’t lived there. He clearly doesn’t know anything about poor black people.Or poor white people.  Poor anything

I have lived that life on the street and although I look white (as I mentioned my DNA says otherwise) I have a better claim to membership in the community of victims, the powerless and oppressed.

Yankah has never been a victim.  He has never lacked power.  

Fifty Shades Of Black  Hurt Me I Love It

Yet in his game of Fifty Shades of Black , Yankah is at war with white-dom.
“If they are not clearly allies, they will seem unsafe to me.”

Says Yankah.   But he published in that ever so white, ivory tower, the NYT.  Because, presumably, the NYT is supportive. 

 “Among my dearest friends, the wedding party and children’s godparents variety, many are white. But these are the friends who have marched in protest, rushed to airports to protest the president’s travel ban, people who have shared the risks required by strength and decency”
Friendship for Yankah is a Catch 22.  You cannot be friends with someone unless they prove their loyalty to your core beliefs through action.  But why would they want to do that unless they were first friends?

In other words, Yankah’s kids can’t have any friends – not really, maybe not even with each other, depending on the degree of melanin in their skin.

Yankah would teach a nasty kind of paranoia  fear of the putative Other, people who cannot prove they are the same.
Othering and Dehumanization

What is this sensibility that Yankah would teach?  Not racism – but something just as bad -- maybe worse -- call it "othering" where we categorize people as human  according to identity with us--and inhuman accordingo their difference from us.   

Those other "identities are alien -- not human if they are not fellow travelers wearing a compatible mantel of victimhood.  We don't care about them - except in in terms of their usefulness to our cause. And if they are not useful -- fuck'em.  They are the Deplorables.

The rich looked down on the poor for thousands of years, uncaring, thinking of them as less than human, undeserving of rights, even sometimes freedom.  The American people allowed its government to kill as many as 20 million people since WWII in unnecessary wars - the biggest pogrom in history -- because, well, those 20 million were not Americans, therefore not really human.  

Americans today feel no shame and continue to idolize the military.  Will you ever see a Hollywood movie about a courageous Viet Cong superhero killing American soldiers?

There is no “white” or “black” in the US of A – only exploited and disenfranchised communities, which may be blackish, brownish, whiteish or yellow-ish, each of which is “other” to those who have privilege and power – people such as Yankah who cannot really care about what he doesn't know and doesn't want to know.  

Our enemy should not be each other – but this insidious "othering" this culture of dehumanization that perpetuates itself through poverty and inequality . 

Our challenge should be to overcome the visceral reaction to perceived difference – “black” (sic), “white” (sic), male, female, young, old, gay, straight --whatever.    We should resist "divide anc conquer".

If This Be War
If this is a war, then people like Ekow Yankah collaborate with the enemy -- sadly, the worst part of ourselves.

In this mongrel nation, e pluribus unum makes more sense.  Let us celebrate difference, not fear it. There are no "others" – only us.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Greatest Revolutionary -- The Donald

Who is the greatest revolutionary in the last 100 years?

Lenin?  Che'?  Fidel?   

No.  Donald Trump--who is single-handedly destroying the largest empire in human history - -the US of A.

"What!" you say.  " Trump is a moron. Deluded.  Crazy. A no-thing who doesn't read"

Quite right.  And those are the secrets of his success as a revolutionary.

Trump is not a truth teller --yet he is revealing the truth of America, with of course a lot of help from the Democrats.

As Hillary apparently never learned -- actions speak louder than words.

Trump is accused of being a liar. But not really anymore than any inmate in the asylum, which in this case is the US of A.

He doesn't know what is true and what is not-- and doesn't much care,   

Now, Barak Obama  -- there was masterclass liar!

In Trump's case, the Emperor has no clothes.  His subjects imitate him.  Or perhaps he imitates them.  In any case, the entire empire stands naked, too.

And the world's laughter is more damaging than any bomb or missile.

Don't blame  Mainstream Media or  Deep State propaganda.

Yes,  57% of Americans believe in the Russiagate narrative --despite the fact there is no credible evidence whatsoever to support it -- despite  key points having been disproven over and over again. 

The liberal  "center" thinks it is more educated and intelligent than Trump and his supporters --but 70% of those people who believe in the  Russiagate lie are Democrats. So much for education.  So much for intelligence.

Only 18% of Trump people believe it. Does that make them genius'.  Hardly.   The whole country -- left and right -- is crazy -- which makes "The Donald"  truly representative of the zeitgeist.

The world marvels -- and laughs -- but behind its laughter are profound changes.

  • The breakdown of American alliances
  • The decline of the dollar as a a reserve currency

The second is most serious.  Because, if the dollar is no longer the world's reserve currency, America can no longer borrow to support the excesses of the military-industrial state, its economy will collapse,  and it is very possible that some states will secede.

Take Iran.  By turning his back on the agreement with Iran and surrendering US foreign policy to Israel, what has Trump done?

  • proven (once again) the US cannot be trusted to honor agreements and promises
  • alienate the Europeans who were hoping to make money from Iran
  • show the US foreign policy is really run by Israel
  • pave the way for the Russians and Chinese to profit from the Iranian market
  • improve the "soft power" credibility of the Russians and Chinese as they embark on the New Silk Road  This results in many countries switching to the Yuan -- or probably (soon) the cryptoruble.  If the dollar loses its status as the world's reserve currency, the US economy collapses.

Or ake American attacks on  Venezuela.

Venezuela is among Latin America's most progressive and democratic states.

The US denies this -- calling it totalitarian.  The sheer idiocy of this judgment makes the rest of Latin America realize that the US cannot be trusted, energizing progressive movements.   

In the case of Venezuela itself, US pressure was interpreted as neocolonist interference -- a kind of warfare and the Venezuelan people reacted by electing a Constitutional Assembly.  The results:
  • Maduro's support has improved.  Now Maduro is no Chavez -- but Trump's attacks are elevating him and his party -- the PUSV.  The opposition is falling apart.   
  • Venezuela has switched to the PetroYuan. 
  • Rightwing governments throughout Latin American are being undermined

Or take American attacks on North Korea

Trump's attacks on Korea cause blowback -- which makes its nominal allies, the  South Koreans and Japanese nervous.   They are in the line of fire.  But, clearly expendable.  Watch for changes in both countries.  
  •  the Russians and the Chinese are going to do their best to bolster the North Korean economy and try to effect economic rapprochement with South Korea.
  • North Korea will continue to develop its defense capabilities

Or take the (impending)  failure of NAFTA

The US has never been a fan of really free "free trade agreements" -- only agreements where it has control.  Under Trump that bias is clearer than ever.

So NAFTA is failing.  The Canadian-American alliance depends on NAFTA as do right wing governments in Mexico.   No NAFTA?
  • The Canadians get more independent.   The Chinese will benefit.  
  • Canadian yuan transactions will increase.
  • Mexico will also turn to China
  • Socialists will be strengthened in both Mexico and Canada   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WaPo Lies About Kaspersky

Did the Russians use Kaspersky AntiVirus to hack the NSA as WaPo (and the rest of the mainstream media) allege.  Nope.  More hysteria.  More "fake news".  The Information Security Group  puts it right.


10 Reactions: Allegations Against Kaspersky Lab

Analysis: No Conspiracy Theories Necessary to Explain Epic NSA Pwnage
10 Reactions: Allegations Against Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab's headquarters in Moscow
Modern day spy story: A member of the National Security Agency's offensive hacking team takes top-secret work home, copies it onto a home PC in violation of agency rules, and his Kaspersky Lab consumer anti-virus product flags the code as malware, sending a copy back to the vendor's security researchers for analysis. At some point, one or more intelligence agencies apparently also see a copy of the malware and potentially trace it back to the PC in question, which they hack into directly, stealing everything it contains.

See Also: Effective Cyber Threat Hunting Requires an Actor and Incident Centric Approach
So goes one bare-bones theory explaining how the NSA allegedly had some of its biggest secrets stolen in 2015 by Russian intelligence agents. Two media reports published Thursday about the breach, which was allegedly discovered this past spring, appear to flesh out the U.S. government's concerns about how Kaspersky Lab products running on U.S. government systems could pose a threat to national interests (see Russian Theft of NSA Secrets: Many Questions, Few Answers).
Here are 10 reactions to this unfolding story:

1. NSA: Recurring Insider Problems

Blaming Kaspersky Lab may be politically expedient for U.S. intelligence agencies. But for an analyst to take top-secret NSA malware home and install it on his PC represents a massive operational security error, as highlighted by the satirical @SwiftOnSecurity Twitter account.
The NSA employee who took work documents and data home and installed it on an unclassified system does not appear to have been charged, the New York Times reports.
The incident is only the latest in a string of embarrassing insider episodes, including the case of ex-contractor Edward Snowden, who began leaking documents in 2013.
For example, in August 2016, former U.S. Navy officer and a long-time government contractor Harold T. Martin III was accused of collecting an enormous stash of classified information over a 20-year period.
In June, Reality Leigh Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International, was arrested on charges that she leaked a top-secret document to the media that describes how Russia attempted to compromise the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

2. All AV Firms Analyze Suspicious Files

The newly revealed breach that resulted from the NSA analyst allegedly taking malware home might have been prevented if he had adjusted his anti-virus settings.
As British information security researcher Kevin Beaumont notes, all anti-virus applications give users the option to share suspicious files with the vendor for further analysis. But this feature can be disabled. In enterprises, the feature can typically also be disabled via Group Policy settings in Windows so users do not have the option to participate.

3. Sharing Is the Norm

Sharing samples has long been the information security community norm. "In fact this is an industry standard. However, with KAV people can completely turn off the telemetry or install private KSN," says Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky via Twitter, referring to the Kaspersky Security Network.
The company says KSN "allows Kaspersky Lab quick collecting of data concerning new threats and developing methods to protect computers from new threats" and notes that "the more users participate in KSN, the more your computer is protected."
But as the end user license agreement for Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018 states: "If you do not wish to provide information to the Kaspersky Security Network service, you should not activate the Kaspersky Security Network service."
It adds: "Kaspersky Lab does not collect, process and store any personal user information.
Excerpt from the end user license agreement for Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2018

4. Virus Telemetry Data Matters

Security experts say such telemetry data, collected by all anti-virus software, is crucial for helping security firms to spot emerging threats and block them.
Anti-virus telemetry refers to records the software generates for all known malware that has been detected and for which a signature has been deployed. Firms regularly analyze massive quantities of unknown and potentially suspicious files to see if they're a variant of previously seen malware, or entirely new attack code.
Signal to noise can be a problem, especially with advanced attack code developed by nation-states, which may only ever get deployed against a handful of targets. Working together, however, security firms have continued to unearth some of these attack tools, such as Flame, Regin and Duqu, some of which have been tied to the Equation Group, which many security experts believe is the NSA (see AV Firms Defend Regin Alert Timing).
On a related note, Kaspersky Lab in June 2015 said that it had been infected by a Stuxnet cousin called Duqu 2.0, which many security researchers suspect was built and used exclusively by the NSA.
That may very well tie in to the recent revelations and could explain how Kaspersky Lab came to possess so many Equation Group files, notes American independent journalist Marcy Wheeler on her "emptywheel" website. "If some NSA contractor delivered all that up to Kaspersky [Lab], it would explain the breadth of Kaspersky's knowledge," she writes. "It would also explain why NSA would counter-hack Kaspersky using Duqu 2.0, which led to Kaspersky learning more about NSA's tools."

5. Sharing With VirusTotal Common

Malware samples not only get shared among security firms, but also with malware-analysis services such as VirusTotal. "Many U.S. security companies do automated submission to VirusTotal, which has Russian (etc.) researchers. That is fine and helps everybody," Beaumont notes.
Others also use VirusTotal for research purposes. For example, last year, about a week after the secret arrest of Martin, the FBI uploaded numerous files from Martin's PC to VirusTotal to see if they were malware, security researchers found. Beaumont says he tested the files and found that they were all encrypted with PGP, meaning no one else would have been able to open them. None of the files, he added, matched known malware samples.

6. Lawmakers Make Hay

Some U.S. lawmakers are already making political hay out of the Thursday reports that the NSA got pwned because an analyst took work home and it got flagged by his Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software.
The breach "serves as a stark warning - not just to the federal government, but to states, local governments and the American public - of the serious dangers of using Kaspersky software," claims Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., the Washington Post reports.
Shaheen has led the push in Congress to ban Kaspersky Lab software from government networks and beyond. "Trump admin should declassify info on Kaspersky Labs to raise awareness," Shaheen says via Twitter.
Her comment underlies the fact that the U.S. government has released no evidence that might support its assertions that Kaspersky Lab products are dangerous for not just government users, but also businesses and consumers (see Kaspersky Lab Debate: Put Up or Shut Up).

7. Remember PRISM?

Shaheen's assertion also reveals a stark U.S. bias. What's to say that domestic anti-virus vendors are not working with the U.S. government, either voluntarily or after being compelled to do so in secret? In addition, what if their telemetry pipelines are being monitored by intelligence agencies, both foreign and domestic?
In the case of the PRISM program, Snowden's leaks revealed that the NSA was secretly tapping into data centers run by such technology and cloud service giants as Apple, AOL, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. In response, many of those firms began encrypting all data center communications and rolling out end-to-end encrypted messaging products.
In an ironic twist, the Washington Post reports that the NSA employee who took his malware work home in 2015 was helping develop new attack tools because the old ones had been considered to have been burned after Snowden's leaks.

8. How Was Analyst Tracked?

What remains unclear is how the NSA employee's home PC may have come to the attention of Russian intelligence.
Anonymously sourced U.S. news reports have noted that it isn't clear if Kaspersky Lab may have helped the Russian government directly or if its software was an unwitting pawn. On the latter front, intelligence agencies might have been listening in on the Kaspersky Lab telemetry-reporting pipeline. Or they might have identified the employee as a person of interest and simply hacked into his PC by exploiting a flaw in the Kaspersky Lab software.
How exactly do anti-virus firms anonymize the origin of malware samples that get shared from a user's installation with security researchers? Information Security Media Group on Friday put this question to Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, Bullguard, Emsisoft, ESET, F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Microsoft, Panda, Symantec, Trend Micro, VIPRE and Webroot and will provide updates with their answers.

9. Kaspersky: Potential Political Pawn

Eugene Kaspersky and his firm have continued to deny any improper behavior, saying it would never help "any government in the world with its cyber espionage efforts." He's further defended his company's reputation, in part, by noting all of the state-sponsored malware from various countries that his firm has helped unmask.
"We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against cyber threats," Kaspersky says via Twitter.
Kaspersky has long offered to testify before U.S. lawmakers and had been scheduled to do so on Sept. 27 before a House subcommittee on technology. But lawmakers subsequently postponed the hearing, apparently indefinitely.
On Thursday, Kaspersky threw a dig at "politicians" - pointedly not qualifying it by saying if he was referring to the U.S. or Russian government - for besmirching his firm's reputation.
Kaspersky Lab told ISMG in a statement Friday that it "has not been provided any evidence substantiating the company's involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal on October 5, 2017, and it is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company."
Cryptographer Matthew Green, an assistant professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, says it's unlikely any such evidence would ever be produced for public consumption.

10. Likelihood: No Conspiracy

Numerous security researchers, speaking with ISMG, doubt that there's any conspiracy involving Kaspersky Lab and the Russian government. In fact, the same charges being leveled against the Moscow-based firm by anonymous U.S. officials speaking on background could potentially be leveled at any other security firm (see Anti-Virus Conspiracy Theories Cut Both Ways).
But any security firm found to be aiding its government's cyber espionage efforts would risk reputational damage and bankruptcy.
To suggest otherwise overlooks the fact that governments don't need security firms' help to hack a PC. All software has bugs, and that includes security software. Intelligence agencies regularly search for or purchase details of these vulnerabilities to aid in their targeted attacks (see Yes Virginia, Even Security Software Has Flaws).
When governments develop their own attack code, don't expect Kaspersky Lab anti-virus or any similar products to spot or block it. "Consumer-grade anti-virus products can't protect well against targeted malware created by well-resourced nation-states with bulging budgets," says Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catalonian Prediction

The Spanish Government is doing its best to ensure that Catalonia declares independence. Before the proposed referendum a majority of Catalonians would have voted “no” just as a majority of Scots voted “no” in their referendum.

But more than 80% of Catalonians support the right to vote – legalities aside.

That makes the Spanish government – that is, Spain – the bad guy.
So what you will get is a protest vote.  It will be a “yes” vote, if only because the potential “yes” voters will obey the Spanish government and stay away from the polls.

A “yes” vote does not mean independence for Catalonia – but it is huge PR victory for those who oppose the current Spanish government.  It’s a victory for Podemos.

Bullying does not win the day. 

 It is just like American attempts to bully Russia. Those attempts have just made Russia stronger and more independent than ever

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Russian Biowarfare Attack on US

According the CDC, rates of sexually transmitted diseases hit an all -time high.

A bi-partisan congressional committee is demanding a special investigation of Russian involvement in engineering new and more virulent strains of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and introducing them into the US through "sleeper cells".

Hillary Clinton says"  We knew the Russians had sleeper agents and  there job was to sleep around."
Russian Sleeper Agent

"Like Monica", she added.

John McCain pointed to the AIDS epidemic.  "This clearly came from Russia", he said, pointing to the high rates of HIV after the collapse of the USSR.

How will the US respond to this obvious biowarfare attack?

Putin's Girlfriend

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jacinda the Kiwi Trudeau?

Jacinda wins?
As I have indicated, Jacinda is a clear winner in this election by virtue of  having made Labour competitive again.

But Helen Clark has recently  made a chilling comparison -- Jacinda -- and  Macron and Trudeau.
And then they kissed

Of course, Clark was talking about Macron and Trudeau's youth and good looks.    
Yes, I like it in the ass too.

But both Macron and Trudeau are highly flawed leaders who recall Tony Blair -- who also had youth and good looks when he came into power.  There were high expectations for Blair-- and there are now for both Macron and Trudeau, both of whom are   flawed leaders with even more flawed policies.

Blair,?   A war criminal who should be in a jail cell for life.

So the comparison raises questions.  Especially -- since Adern worked for Blair in the UK.

The primary problem of most "democratic socialist" parties in this century is that most are not "socialist" at all -- they are centrist, neoliberal parties with social welfare orientations.  

So Macron served in Hollande's nominally democratic socialist government and ran then as center right.  Trudeau was never a democratic socialist but "liberal".  However, his policies are only marginally different from the previous conservative party's.  He marches in Gay Pride and wears pink shirts and he has good hair.

So who is a democratic socialist?   Jeremy Corbyn is.  Melanchon in France.  Maduro in Venezuela is.  There are not many.

Is Jacinda Adern?   In some respects, Winston Peters is to the left of Labour -- as it is now constituted. 

So far,  all you can say is that Adern is not as neoliberal as the National Party.   She recognizes taxation issues better.  And she sees inequality as a problem.  Whether or not she is really willing to do what it takes is an issue, keeping in mind that it is the public that makes the final decision. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Right again.....the NZ Election

As predicted, the NZ election is very close and Winston Peters will decide the final result.

In any case, it has to be understood as a win for Jacinda Adern, for turning Labour's fortune around in such a short time -- an unprecedented turn around.  And she would have won except for Bill English's deliberate lies about Labour tax policy.  "Lies" -- an ugly word.  But they have be regarded as lies -- because not a single economist of any reputation has agreed with him.  
Trust.  An Issue

Who would have thought that English -- an essentially honest man -- would stoop so low.  But it will come around and bite him.

Certainly, the  desperation of this tactic does not bode well for the National Party if they are able to form a government.  There is an essential element of trust.  Don't expect this issue to go away.

As far as Adern is concerned -- she has only been leader for two months. By contrast with the NZ tories, she is open and honest. She has nowhere to go but up. 

As I said before, the conservative government's neoliberal policies will bear increasingly poisoned fruit.   The concerns of Kiwis are now homelessness, poverty, the housing crisis and inequality -- non of which will solved by the National Party's neoliberal programs.

There is such a thing as a "policy gap".   Theresa May's Tories won in the UK too.  But lost by default.  As time goes on, it is clearer and clearer that they have nothing to offer.

Sorry, National , your win is like the UK Tories a Pyrrhic victory. It only give Adern time to organize and clean house.

Personally, I hope that the National Party is able to form a government.  Winston Peters would be foolish to tie his wagon to National's lame cow.   And, given his views, it would undermine him in the next election - which will likely happen soon enough. 

Better a lame duck National government than a lame duck Labour one. 

So, yes, my analysis has been correct, keeping in mind that elections are dynamic processes.

Putin for President of the USA


Could Putin Make America Great Again?

Vladimir Putin is a remarkable man -- who has done a remarkable thing.  He made Russia great again.  


America also wants to be great again.  So much so desperation drove them first to try a Black man, who wasn't really black.  Then an Orange man, with an orange for brain.

What if Putin were President of the US of A?

Let us suppose that America had elected a Russian American named Vladimir Putin instead of the Kenyan American Barak Obama back in 2008. 

By comparison with Putin, Obama's record was not exactly stellar.

Now Russians have a bad rep'. Undeserved of course. But so do Black people, which is why we have  the police to shoot them and put them in prison (if they survive).  Black people are very visible which makes it easier to make them invisible.  Granted:  Barak was not an American black but a Kenyan Black with a white mother.

Still, we Americans like to show how diverse we are, how tolerant, how anyone can be President, as long as  they have money or wealthy backers.  And politics is not reality -- it's a reality show.  We want something different everytime.  Hillary lost because she was a re-run.   What could be more entertaining than a  Russian-American as President?

Russia-Gate was a blockbuster. The fact that there is no evidence, was immaterial.    Show biz'.

I digress.

What might disqualify Putin is simply competence -- and integrity.

Putin climbed to the top of the pile to become President of Russia as the country disintegrated.  He had worked for the KGB -- quit during the abortive coup of 1991 -- and later headed the FSB.   Later, Yeltsin offered him position of Prime Minister -- which he almost refused. 

Here's what he told Oliver Stone in those amazing interviews -- the most intimate, complete and honest interview of a world leader in this century or the last.

“When Yeltsin offered me the job for the first time, I refused. … He invited me into his office and told me he wanted to appoint me Prime Minister, and that he wanted me to run for President. I told him that was a great responsibility, and that meant I would have to change my life, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. …
“It’s one thing when you are a bureaucrat, even a high-level one, you can almost live an ordinary life. You can see your friends, go to the cinema and the theater, and not assume personal responsibility for the fate of millions of people and for everything that is going on in the country. And to assume responsibility for Russia back then was a very difficult thing to do.”

 “Frankly speaking, I didn’t know what President Yeltsin’s final plans were with regard to me. And I didn’t know how long I would be there. Because at any moment the President could tell me, ‘You are fired.’ And there was only one thing I was thinking about, ‘Where to hide my children?’ …

“Just imagine, if I were dismissed, I didn’t have any bodyguards. Nothing. And what would I do? How would I live? How would I secure my family? And back then I decided if that was my fate, then I had to go to the end. And I didn’t know beforehand that I would become President. There were no guarantees of that.”

Can you imagine any Western leader talking so candidly, with such honesty?  Trump is pretty candid. But:
  1. he doesn't think, he emotes.
  2. he can't compose sentences longer than 14 words
  3. he quickly forgets what he just said

Obama at least used a teleprompter which allowed  him to speak  in complete sentences ....

Back to Putin....

He took the PM job and successfully put down the Chechen Rebellion (which had been fostered, it is rumoured,  by the CIA, as part of a program of reducing Russia to several easily exploitable statelets.) 

Putin's strategy in Chechyna was remarkable for its strategic pragmatism, offering the Chechen's a measure of autonomy, as long as they stayed part of Russia. 

This  Russian Putin is a pragmatist, a strategist -- above all-- a patriot.

We would hope for an American Putin like that.  He would also hope that he was into a working class family as his Russian counterpart was.   Maybe steel workers or something of that kind. His father would have been in the US military, possibly Korea.

Our American Putin would have gone to college and a law school -- and then joined our KGB -- the CIA but have quit working as a spook--  distressed at the direction the country was taking at the time of the failed coup of 1991. The Russian Putin has said that he understands Edward Snowden --but that Snowden should have just quit and made a difference in another way -- as, of course, Putin himself did. 

The American Putin would have entered politics.  As a Republican?  No.

The Russian Putin is usually seen as a Conservative .  He is conservative --but not right wing in the same sense that an American might be. There is a difference between conservative, which is a political sensibility and "right wing", which is a mental disorder.  Putin also leads a conservative country and accordingly  must represent the views of his people. 

 Putin is too clear-headed, too rational, too pragmatic --most of all too proletarian -- to be the kind of neoliberal or neoconservative politician you find in the West.  In fact, his policies are generally far more progressive than the mainstream DNC.

So, an American Putin  would have been a democrat --simply because the USA is a duopoly and there would not have been any other road to power.   As in Russia --he would have had to work his way up through the system -- pragmatically.  In this respect, the CIA would have been excellent training.

In the beginning, this Putin would have hewed to the Center  -- not just because he was a child of Middle America -- but because  he could have gotten nowhere without doing this.   

Entering politics, Putin would have campaigned ---offering  "Change", just as Barak did --while reassuring the power brokers in his party that business would continue as usual.  He would have learned to smile a lot more -- and keep his answers short and scripted -- at least, in the beginning.

Now,   this "what-if" assumes that Barak Obama did not run, and that Vlad would have had to face down the Hillary.

Hillary is a Faux Feminist, definitely ballsier than Rambo.      Vlad is  possibly more of a real feminist than Hillary.  Unlike Hillary, he seems to actually like women.  

Yeah, yeah, he is muscular and does judo.  He also likes kittens and puppies and animals and kids.  He likes pretty girls.  He keeps his family out of the media spotlight rather using them as props for his career.  As you can see from the  long quote above in his interview with Stone, he has a very human touch. 

Yet,  this  man of enormous integrity -- certainly compared with any American president -- or Secretary of State -- is demonized as a thug, dictator, monster, murderer.  

 When news broke of Gaddafi's demise, Hillary Clinton was caught on a hot mic prior to an interview with CBS News. Then-Secretary of State Clinton pumped her fists and exclaimed "We came. We saw. He died"
Putin's response was different.  Keep in mind that Putin has not been a Gaddafi supporter.

 Putin is remarkably human.  

Hillary?  Who makes a joke of someone anally raped and murdered with a knife?

Of course, he is extraordinarily sensitive  to the public mind, but that is part of his integrity -- he sees clearly that he is the most visible representative not just of a party-- or even a country --but of a culture and its values. 

Putin has a certain humility.   In the US, this is largely misunderstood.  

Russia is a new democracy.  And the society is evolving, with people creating social values.   Those values might seem retrogressive to Americans -- and they would be -- except that Russia is not going backwards -- to where America was 40 years ago, it is just moving cautiously forward.  

So Putin is not anti-gay.  Nor are Russians actually.  Just conservative.   Nor is Putin probably against the Simpsons or SouthPark -- but Russians worry about young children watching it.  In either case, these are not Putin's decisions to make.   Contrary to popular belief, he seeks to preserve and develop the democratic process -- albeit in an orderly fashion.

In any case, if Putin were American he would have supported the best aspects of American culture as they have evolved -- including   feminism, a woman's right to choose, black rights, transparency in government - -- all the things that Obama said he valued -- but didn't really care about.   

His problem would have been how to give the country pride in these things as distinctly American. 

2008 and the great crash would have been Putin's Big Opportunity.  Great leaders -- such as FDR --  use crisis to  to take control and really enact change that people would normally balk at it.

2008 would have allowed Putin to wave the flag as it had not been waved since WWII.

Of course, he would have to  face off the oligarchy, the military and the "Deep State"  -- and his own party-- which we lump together as the Establishment.   

My guess is that he would follow the same strategy that he used in Chechnya.  Measured.  Tactical.  Ruthless where necessary.  He would play divide and conquer.   He would take prisoners -- and hostages--  when they were useful. And he wave the flag with one hand and the Cross with the other.  He would demand reform and the rule of law at the highest levels, which might mean show trials for some.   But if you opposed such reform and the rule of law  -- then you would be unpatriotic -- and un-Christian.    

He would be accused of being a fascist, of course.   But he would have acted quickly to break up the big banks and other trusts and getting the economy back on line.  The money would have come from withdrawal from the Middle East, withdrawal of forces and bases worldwide and  rationalized defense spending --freeing up billions for infrastructure programs.  

Yes, Change you can believe in.  And "America Great Again"  - but not as an empire.  That can never be.

The American empire worked at the end of WWII, with most of the world in ruins.  But today in this  multipolar world, empires of this kind are obsolete. 

To restore American greatness, Putin would have to  simultaneously break both the Democratic and Republican parties.  Unlike Trump --who seems to have managed to discredit both more or less accidentally  -- and leaving chaos -- Putin would have to destroy the duopoly by design, aiming at  a multiparty democracy and greater dialog in the public domain.  

Such changes would require reforms in education and also reforms of the media.
Press freedom is routinely criticized in Russia.  Yet, there is more public discussion of issues -- from more points of view than in the US, where just a few companies own 90% of the media.
The regulars on these talk shows are a mix of Russians and foreigners, pro-Kremlin and anti-Kremlin voices. There inevitably is at least one American who can be counted on to purvey the Washington Narrative. A reliable regular in this category has been Michael Bohm, who was for a long-time op-ed manager at The Moscow Times and now is said to be teaching journalism in Moscow. On the 11th Michael’s place was kept warm by another upstanding Neocon, the bureau chief of The New York Post. Then there is an Israeli regular who delivers the Netanyahu perspective on events. And you can be sure to see a Pole or Ukrainian who will spice up any discussion of Maidan and the regime in Kiev.

    From among Russians, the talk show hosts bring in one or more representatives of opposition parties. On the 11th it happened to be a personality from the Yabloko Party (Liberals). But at other times there will be the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, the founder of the right nationalist LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, or the leader of the social democratic party, Just Russia, Sergei Mironov. They all get their time on air in these shows.As  in Russia, the American Putin would go directly to the people with marathon digital town meetings, answering questions from anybody off the cuff.  

Direct Line With Vladmir Putin

Putin would talk directly to the people as FDR did in his "fireside chats".  In Russia he has four hour telecasts where anyhone can phone in to ask a question.

Of course, these sessions have been accused of being staged. Yet.....

...this year’s live telecast included a new feature — text messaged questions from the public, some quite critical, that popped up on screen during the program.

“Putin, do you really think that the people believe in this circus with fake questions?” 

“Three presidential terms is enough!”
“All Russia thinks that you sat too long on your throne,” read another.
What American politician would invite such criticism.? What American politician would dare to answer questions off the cuff for four hours? 

The Media might howl -- but the same anti-trust, anti-monopoly laws used to break up the banks could also be used to break up media conglomerates.  In some form or another, the Fairness Doctrine would be back..

In dealing with the economic crisis, Putin would seek to reform social economic policy.  In Russia:
His administration holds major strategic companies under government ownership. And if necessary, appoints government bureaucrats to privately owned big corporations' boards. Moreover, Russian industry/business follows the direction government outlines - government recently decided and advocated that Russia should turn its face towards east (New Silk Road) and everyone is following suit. Things like these are unimaginable in US. Its the corporations which make policy in US. Not government.

Putin administration does not scuttle social security, leave aside planning to eat it up on stock market like how GOP had been advocating. In latest Q/A, questions from public came regarding something like increasing social security payments to people with cancer (something like this exists), and he spoke in favor. Many GOP head honchos are declaring people who take welfare as leeches. Someone like Putin at the head of GOP would cause a heart attack epidemic among the head honchos.

Corporations in Russia pay their taxes. There are laws to encourage offshored wealth to come back and also laws to punish those who don't bring that wealth. US is yet 'discussing' whether corporations should pay their taxes. In this, Putin even stands to the left of Democrat Party.

Russian labor law is light years ahead of US. It strongly favors the employee/worker, whereas in US workers generally get the butt end of the stick. Russian labor law even incorporates recent Eu recommendation of Work Councils, which is not even adopted yet in Eu. Russian courts are obliged to decide in favor of employee in employee vs employer lawsuits. Even if the laws' enforcement may lack, mere existence of many items in Russian labor law trample what rights workers in US have.Russian Labor laws

While an employee’s guarantees and protections enshrined in the Code are limited, they are mandatory, strictly enforced, and favor the employee. The legislation prohibits discrimination on any basis, ensures unemployment benefits, provides the unemployed with assistance in finding work, specifies minimum work safety and, in contrast to the US, minimum vacation and leisure time requirements, ensures prompt and accurate payment of wages, and standardizes career advancement

Putin administration does not tolerate corporations and the rich engaging in politics. "Do your business properly, pay your taxes, and stay away from politics" was what Putin told the oligarchs who put him into power the day after his election, to their shock. In contrast to what is constantly drummed about oligarchs in Russia, major oligarchs seem to magically follow what Government says - instead of government following what they say. In US its the opposite. This can't fly with GOP's corporate backers.

Putin declared that he "liked Socialist and Communist ideals during USSR, and he liked them still", just ~2-3 days after he criticized Lenin in a speech in which he told Lenin's various policies put a bomb under USSR due to letting Republics secede from the union. The ensuing public reaction to this, due to being perceived as being against socialism/communism, immediately prompted Putin to declare his favorable attitude towards socialist and communist ideals. Merely this, would clog the veins in many GOP head honchos' and voters' brains, if not immediately paralyze them.

Putin's Russian approval rating has soared as high as 80%.  He has shown an ability to use crises to his advantage.  So, Western sanctions have provided him with the opportunity to take further control of the economy, diversifying industry and agriculture.  In fact, Russia is now -- internally -- one of the world's most diverse and self-sufficient economies, less and less dependent on fossil fuels as a source of revenue. 

That would have been the case in the US of A also.  

Putin is  a populist like Trump -- but ever so much smarter.  An actual patriot -- not a fake one.   A proud man with the humility conferred by intelligence and decency  

He would understand that America's future is not to rule the world. 

The country is big enough all by itself and its energies are best devoted to building itself.  

Above all, Putin understands that great leaders do not change the public mind so much as serve as focal points for its best values and greatest goals.