Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 9th, 2017

Flynn isn’t helping Trump on Russia

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Jennifer Rubin has a very interesting column on the Russian connection. Keep in mind also that it seems likely that Donald Trump owes a lot of money to Russian banks—it’s speculated that that’s one reason he refuses to release his financial information. I will remind readers that Jennifer Rubin is a very conservative blogger at the Washington Post. Her column begins:

All presidents suffer from a shortage of bearers of straight talk. Few aides want to jeopardize their standing with the president by raising objections and inconvenient facts. And while it is true that presidential aides generally figure out how to accomplish the president’s aims, at critical times they must tell him what he cannot do or what he must do. Those who don’t may provide short-term comfort to the president, but they damage him in the long run.

President-elect Donald Trump’s Russia troubles perfectly encapsulate this phenomenon. The failure of his designated national security adviser, Mike Flynn, to adequately prepare Trump to anticipate devastating intelligence findings about Russia (which Trump did not dare criticize directly) and, more generally, to project strength in his approach to Russia have severely damaged Trump’s image as a competent, resolute commander in chief. Even if one wants better relations with Russia (we think that ignores reality, but the president is entitled to try where other presidents have failed), the incessant defense of Russian motives coming from Trump and his transition team hardly makes sense. (Surely Flynn knows that Vladimir Putin respects strength.) Moreover, the Flynn-Trump tone on Russia and with regard to the intelligence community that will serve Trump has cast doubt on the incoming commander in chief’s judgment and even loyalty to U.S. interests.

As Max Boot points out, “Trump, however, doesn’t offer the slightest objection to Russia’s egregious misconduct, and that in turn raises the question of why not? Is it simply admiration for the Russian dictator on the part of a president-elect who has said in the past that Putin’s Russia is ‘hot stuff’ and that ‘what he’s done for Russia is really amazing’? Or is there something more sinister going on?” Or does his erratic national security adviser, who might harbor resentment toward former intelligence superiors (who sacked him), encourage Trump’s worst instincts?

Flynn publicly echoes Russian propaganda that Russia and the United States have aligned interests in fighting the Islamic State. Flynn’s frequent appearances on RTand defense of Russia’s international conduct more generally (“We cannot make Russia an enemy. Russia is a nation that is deeply involved in the Middle East right now,” he told an incredulous MSNBC host) put him at odds with the intelligence community, both sides of the aisle in Congress, our allies, virtually every other Trump foreign policy adviser and, to be blunt, reality.

Flynn, as the closest adviser on national security, should be in a position to explain the Russian threat to Trump. He should be able to explain that Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Middle East works against U.S. interests. In fact, Flynn wrote a book sharply critical of Russia:

In his 2016 book, “The Field of Fight,” Flynn wrote that Russia was part of an “enemy alliance” in league with Iran. “They are certainly not ‘fighting terrorists’ in the Middle East,” Flynn wrote of Russia’s actions in Syria. He also said “there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us,” noting the Russian military was establishing new military bases on its western border and modernizing its nuclear arsenal. “These are not the actions of a country seeking détente with the West,” he wrote, adding, “Putin fully intends to do the same thing as, and in tandem with, the Iranians: pursue the war against us.”

That’s all gone by the wayside. Instead, he feeds on Trump’s paranoia about the intelligence community, avoids any remarks about Putin (for example in the statement following Trump’s intelligence briefing) and any direct criticism of Putin, and sets NATO countries’ teeth on edge by downgrading concerns about Russia. Trump’s closest advisers, even those not directly involved in national security, must see that Flynn has contributed to the impression that Trump is more aligned with Putin than with bipartisan, long-held American security objectives. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 2:07 pm

“I’m from Texas, and Your ‘Liberal Bubble’ Argument is Ridiculous”

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A very interesting Twitter rant by Charles Clymer. The first few tweets:

I need to rant because I’m fucking tired of this “bubble” thing. I doubt many folks are gonna read this because it’s 3 am, but… (thread)

The first thing you should know about me is that I grew up in white poverty in Central Texas. My father is a lifelong car mechanic…

…my mother has worked minimum wage jobs all her life, and my stepfather was junior enlisted in the Army. None of them have…

…a college degree. None of them really stressed the importance of education to me, either. We were dirt poor. We lived in trailer parks…

…all over Central Texas and were on welfare. I have been around “blue collar” folks my whole life. Hell, “blue collar” is a step up…

Read the whole thing. It’s long, it’s impassioned, and it makes good points.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 1:36 pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Peter Ebdon in a tactical struggle

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Lots of interesting safe shots in this sudden-death black-ball play-off.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Games, Video

100 Percent of Dutch Trains Now Run on Wind Energy

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I immediately pictured a train with sails, but the reality is not so colorful: regular electric trains, but all the electricity comes from wind energy. That is significant, I think. Here’s the report at Motherboard.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 12:28 pm

Meryl Streep’s speech at Golden Globes

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Exactly what does the GOP object to in this speech:

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 12:03 pm

How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

During his political campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Wall Street with a specific focus on Goldman Sachs. In the final days of his campaign, Trump released an advertisement (see video below) that featured his opponent, Hillary Clinton, shaking hands with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. As the image flickers on the screen, Trump does a voice over, stating: “”It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” As the ad ends, Trump bares his soul: “I’m doing this for the people and for the movement and we will take back this country for you and we will make America great again.”

How did a candidate who repeatedly demonized Goldman Sachs as the poster child for a corrupt establishment that owned Washington end up with Goldman Sachs’ progeny filling every post that even tangentially has the odor of money or global finance? One answer is family ties; another may be something darker.

Trump’s non-stop nominations and appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni have left his supporters stunned. Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs to be his Treasury Secretary. Stephen Bannon, another former Goldman Sachs banker, was named by Trump as his Chief Strategist in the White House. The sitting President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn, has been named by Trump as Director of the National Economic Council, which, according to its website, coordinates “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.”  Last week, in a move that stunned even Wall Street, Trump nominated a Goldman Sachs outside lawyer, Jay Clayton of Sullivan & Cromwell, to serve as Wall Street’s top cop as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Adding to the slap in the face to Trump’s working class supporters, Clayton’s wife currently works as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.

But the Goldman Sachs’ ties don’t stop there. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 12:01 pm

All RazoRock, including Dead Sea, Old Type, and Zi’ Peppino

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SOTD 2017-01-09

I decided to go full RazoRock this morning. Dead Sea provides a very nice lather, fragrant and thick, but it’s easy to use too much water, so I gave the brush three good shakes before loading began. Loading is easy, and I very much enjoyed the feel of the brush, combined with warmth and fragrance.

The RazoRock Old Type is an exceptionally good razor at an exceptionally low price, and this morning it whisked away my two-day stubble efficiently, producing a trouble-free BBS result.

A good splash of Zi’ Peppino and the week gets underway, though a bit of a late start this morning.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2017 at 9:50 am

Posted in Shaving

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