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Peter Lavelle: The big picture – why Russians like Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin is a traditional Russian conservative in just about every way, reflecting the attitudes and aspirations of the vast majority of Russians.

Peter Lavelle

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When Vladimir Putin returned for his third term as Russian president in 2012, many people were expecting more of the same – a determined and ever-confident Putin, perhaps just a little older and more experienced. Western pundits and domestic critics had no idea what would happen (they never do). Putin is not a passing political figure; he is public figure who has already left a mark on history – for Russia and the world.

In his time in high politics, what we’ve seen is that Putin has fashioned his own particular political outlook and worldview. This had made him into a person Russians adore and admire and the west hates and demonizes.

Putin is a traditional Russian conservative in just about every way, reflecting the attitudes and aspirations of the vast majority of Russians.

When one thinks about the world’s movers and shakers, Vladimir Putin always makes the list. Western mainstream media consistently describe him in the worst possible colors and compare him to some of the least flattering historical figures. Putin as a politician is often grossly misunderstood, as are his politics.

Moscow beltway

Among Russians, Putin’s name is almost equated with an era of incredible economic and political upheaval, including what can easily be regarded as policy successes. Putin is not blamed (though his government is) for the recent recession. Though it is the dramatic drop in oil prices that have slowed the economy the most. Though this does not make him popular with every one. Far from it. Russia’s version of ‘inside the beltway’ – parts of central Moscow – have tired of Putin and protested against him personally in sometimes significant street demonstrations before and since his return to office. Though in all fairness there are huge counter-demonstrations in support of the man in the Kremlin.

Spoilt middle class

A growing middle class has come into being during Putin’s time in high politics. More affluent than in any time in Russian history, they are linked-in with the world, mobile, ubiquitous globetrotters. Yet the layers of the population that have benefitted most since the ‘Time of Troubles’ or the Boris Yeltsin years, in many ways were the most dissatisfied with Putin’s time in power. On the surface, it looks as though Russia’s ‘inside the beltway’ protestors are ungrateful and spoilt. The west sees them as their natural allies; at home though they are seen as a ‘fifth column.’

Leader and trusted protector

During his first two terms, Putin is credited with saving the state from political and economic collapse. He declared war on the oligarchs – i.e. the ‘Yukos Affair’ – and won a resounding victory. The economy was put on track – social services resumed, pensions were paid, foreign debts paid off, and year after year of solid economic expansion ensued. Counter-terrorism was single-mindedly quelled in the Caucasus. Russia’s fractionalized and at times burlesque political parties were subject to reforms to make them more credible and competitive in the minds of voters. And Russia rose from the Soviet ashes as a great power once again. Not a shabby resume for a politician in this day and age.

Hard to ignore

Putin is not always liked on the world stage, but as a world leader he is hard to ignore – the folks back home like this. The above are significant achievements, and most Russians through the years have appreciated them.

There is a solid consensus among Russians that what is first and foremost in their minds is the economy and standard of living. For a variety of reasons – both domestic and beyond Russia – the bountiful days of rapid economic growth and quick expansion of disposable income are in the past, at least for now.

Russia’s integration in the global marketplace has come at a high price – the more the integration, the greater the risk. The application of western sanctions on the back of the western-induced Ukraine crisis has witnessed calls for less integration with the west. Import-substitution, as a result, continues at a brisk pace.

This is where Putin’s conservatism comes in

Putin believes in a strong state, the family – i.e. improving demographics – religious values, particularly the Orthodox Church variety, and international respect for Russia as a great power. These are his priorities and are traditionally seen as conservative tenets that bring together and bind society. These values appeal to huge swathes of Russians, but not to those dwelling ‘inside the (Moscow) beltway’. Importantly, Putin’s conservatism is not only about convictions, but also calculated political strategy. It is not overly concerned with democracy. For Putin and millions of ordinary Russians, democracy is deemed a procedure and not necessarily a value in and of itself.

The democratic process should reinforce some form of collective will, not just highlight differences among voters. Russia’s democracy is a slowly evolving process, and the fact of the matter is that most Russians don’t see this part of public life as hugely important. That may or not change depending on the condition of the country’s economy in the years to come.

Refusal to align with political parties, liberals out of step

Few Russians (excluding some aging communists and self-hating Russian liberals) identify themselves with political parties. Putin himself refuses to official head a political party. And the largest party in parliament – United Russia – is hardly loved, or even liked for that matter. It’s not that surprising: Politics is still seen as too divisive and liberal political parties are perceived as deeply unattractive.

Russian liberals inflict enormous damage on the country’s public reputation. Small in number, they jockey among themselves over who should lead. Generally speaking liberals – for the most part, members of Russia’s intelligentsia – are suspicious or downright hostile to the role of state in society and economy, as well as antagonistic to the governing elite.

But at the same time, they are seen as out of step with the moral values of the majority of society. Russian liberals are often strident racists. They have the habit of regularly identity themselves with their western peers.

Free speech or morals – cultural war brewing

Witness the Pussy Riot case. Liberals and their allies in western mainstream media intentionally spun this case as an issue of free speech. Most Russians, in contrast, were disgusted to see a place of worship – an Orthodox Church shrine – desecrated for alleged political posturing. So, there is clearly a ‘cultural war’ brewing in Russian society and Putin has chosen to side with Russia’s ‘moral majority.’ As a conservative, he is vigilante and cautious.

Clear foreign policy

In the area of foreign policy Putin’s conservatism is obvious to discern. Russia is a status quo power focused overwhelmingly on its borders and immediate neighborhood. The very thought of re-building the Russian Empire or Soviet Union don’t even pass the laugh test. Of course Russia has dealings with states many in the west deem as ‘rogues’. Putin’s foreign policy is patently unapologetic about reaching out to all states willing to engage in mutually advantageous relations. The fact that Putin’s foreign policy irks some western states serves him well among his fellow conservatives in the body politic.

Those who claim Putin’s support of the Syrian regime is cynical should consider how Moscow views the west’s role in the Arab Spring – sinister and at times illegal regime changes that more often than not make things even worse later – i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Is Putin’s conservatism good for Russia?

At this point the vast majority of Russians think so. Global instability does not leave Russia unaffected. The globalization of western liberal values leaves many in Russia anxious, at a time when Russian culture, religion, and identity are re-surfacing after the onslaught of the Soviet experience. One thing is clear though: Putin’s brand of politics does resonate with his large constituency. And he is doing what is expected of him: act as a responsible leader of the people he represents.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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Why Joe May be Courting Stacey

Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


Of 895 slots in the freshman class of Stuyvesant High in New York City, seven were offered this year to black students, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before.

In the freshman class of 803 at The Bronx High School of Science, 12 students are black, down from last year’s 25.

Of 303 students admitted to Staten Island Technical High School, one is African-American.

According to The New York Times, similar patterns of admission apply at the other five most elite high schools in the city.

Whites and Asians are 30 percent of middle school students, but 83 percent of the freshman at Bronx High School of Science, 88 percent at Staten Island Technical and 90 percent at Stuyvesant.

What do these numbers tell us?

They reveal the racial composition of the cohort of scientists and technicians who will lead America in the 21st century. And they tell us which races will not be well represented in that vanguard.

They identify a fault line that runs through the Democratic Party, separating leftists who believe in equality of results for all races and ethnic groups, and those who believe in a meritocracy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed anger and frustration at the under-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the elite schools. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have ignored his pleas to change the way students are admitted.

Currently, the same test, of English and math, is given to middle school applicants. And admission to the elite eight is offered to those who get the highest scores.

Moreover, Asians, not whites, are predominant.

Though 15 percent of all middle school students, Asians make up two-thirds of the student body at Stuyvesant, with 80 times as many slots as their African-American classmates.

The egalitarian wing of the Democratic Party sees this as inherently unjust. And what gives this issue national import are these factors:

First, the recent scandal where rich parents paid huge bribes to criminal consultants to get their kids into elite colleges, by falsifying records of athletic achievement and cheating on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, has caused a wave of populist resentment.

Second, Harvard is being sued for systemic reverse racism, as black and Hispanic students are admitted with test scores hundreds of points below those that would disqualify Asians and whites.

Third, Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Here are Biden’s quotes, unearthed by The Washington Post, that reflect his beliefs about forced busing for racial balance in public schools:

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with.

“What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist!

“Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?

“I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They insure mediocrity.”

That was 44 years ago. While those views were the thinking of many Democrats, and perhaps of most Americans, in the mid-’70s, they will be problematic in the 2020 primaries, where African-Americans could be decisive in the contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden knows that just as Bernie Sanders, another white male, fell short in crucial South Carolina because of a lack of support among black voters, he, too, has a problem with that most loyal element in the Democratic coalition.

In 1991, Biden failed to rise to the defense of Anita Hill when she charged future Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a law-and-order champion responsible for tough anti-crime legislation that is now regarded as discriminatory.

And he has a record on busing for racial balance that made him a de facto ally of Louise Day Hicks of the Boston busing case fame.

How, with a record like this, does Biden inoculate himself against attacks by rival candidates, especially candidates of color, in his run for the nomination?

One way would be to signal to his party that he has grown, he has changed, and his 2020 running mate will be a person of color. Perhaps he’ll run with a woman of color such as Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia.

An ancillary benefit would be that Abrams on the ticket would help him carry Georgia, a state Donald Trump probably cannot lose and win re-election.

Wrote Axios this morning:

“Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

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