Sunday, December 18, 2016

Donald Trump: The Russian Lap Dog

Yes, I continue to suffer from melancholy as I watch what appears to be the end of the America that I always knew. A dangerous narcissist is on the verge of occupying the White House, racists, white supremacists and "Christian" religious extremists are all ascendant and emboldened.  Before the election I had in retrospect foolishly thought that the day would come where the scholarship for LGBT graduating high school students in honor of my late parents would not be needed.  Now, especially in light of Der Fuhrer's nominee for Secretary of Education, the need for the scholarship may instead be growing.  Equally disturbing is how I have to on occasion socialize with those who voted to kill democracy and unleash hate and bigotry - e.g., a holiday party this evening that I'd rather not attend whatsoever (I've told the husband that we make the briefest appearance possible).  The most troubling, however, is American's soon to be realigned position as an ally to a murderous despot by the name of Vladimir Putin.  I am not anti-Russian.  Sadly, the Russian people have been plagued by toxic rulers for years.  Now, America has joined the Russian people on that journey.  A column in the New York Times looks at the troubling things to come.  Here are highlights:
In Watergate, the break-in didn’t affect the outcome of the election. In 2016, we don’t know for sure. There were other factors, but it’s possible that Russia’s theft and release of the emails provided the margin for Donald Trump’s victory.
The C.I.A. says it has “high confidence” that Russia was trying to get Trump elected, and, according to The Washington Post, the directors of the F.B.I. and national intelligence agree with that conclusion.
Both Nixon and Trump responded badly to the revelations, Nixon by ordering a cover-up and Trump by denouncing the C.I.A. and, incredibly, defending Russia from the charges that it tried to subvert our election. I never thought I would see a dispute between America’s intelligence community and a murderous foreign dictator in which an American leader sided with the dictator.
Let’s be clear: This was an attack on America, less lethal than a missile but still profoundly damaging to our system. It’s not that Trump and Putin were colluding to steal an election. But if the C.I.A. is right, Russia apparently was trying to elect a president who would be not a puppet exactly but perhaps something of a lap dog — a Russian poodle.
Frankly, it’s mystifying that Trump continues to defend Russia and Putin, even as he excoriates everyone else, from C.I.A. officials to a local union leader in Indiana.
Now we come to the most reckless step of all: This Russian poodle is acting in character by giving important government posts to friends of Moscow, in effect rewarding it for its attack on the United States.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, is a smart and capable manager. Yet it’s notable that he is particularly close to Putin, who had decorated Tillerson with Russia’s “Order of Friendship.”
Whatever our personal politics, how can we possibly want to respond to Russia’s interference in our election by putting American foreign policy in the hands of a Putin friend?
Tillerson’s closeness to Putin is especially troubling because of Trump’s other Russia links. The incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, accepted Russian money to attend a dinner in Moscow and sat near Putin. A ledger shows $12.7 million in secret payments by a pro-Russia party in Ukraine to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. And the Trump family itself has business connections with Russia.
[O]ver all it looks as if the Trump administration will be remarkably pro-Putin — astonishing considering Putin’s Russia has killed journalists, committed war crimes in Ukraine and Syria and threatened the peaceful order in Europe.
There are other issues to explore as well, including his role in enabling corruption in Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world. The same is true of his role in complicity with the government of Angola, where oil corruption turned the president’s daughter into a billionaire even as children died of poverty and disease at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world.
This is not only about Tillerson just as the 1972 break-in was not only about the Watergate building complex. This is about the integrity of American democracy and whether a foreign dictator should be rewarded for attacking the United States. It is about whether we are led by a president or a poodle.

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