Ill-Informed

This is an odd thing to say:

The independent Arms Control Association non-profit group criticised Mr Trump’s remarks.

“Mr Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons,” the group said in a statement.

“The history of the Cold War shows us that no one comes out on ‘top of the pack’ of an arms race and nuclear brinksmanship.”

An alternative view is that the Cold War shows us that an arms race – specifically Reagan’s Star Wars programme – is exactly what brought somebody out on top of the pack.

Sure there were other factors at play, and perhaps Star Wars didn’t have as much an effect as some claim. But for somebody to state that an arms race had no bearing on who came out on top in the Cold War in the same breath as calling Trump ill-informed is a bit ironic. Perhaps this outfit is like CND and thinks the wrong side won?

As Streetwise Professor has pointed out:

Russia has strained mightily to overcome the decrepitude of its 1990s military, and has managed to recapitalize it sufficiently to make it a credible force. Even after these efforts, however, it can only dimly see the tail of the American military in the distance. If Trump goes into super-cruise mode, Russia’s expenditures will have largely been for nought. Closing the military gap required the US not to compete. Trump made it clear he would compete.

Also, this from the BBC article:

His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, repeatedly cast Mr Trump during the campaign as too erratic and lacking in the diplomatic skills required to avoid a nuclear war.

She mocked him by saying “a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes”.

Whereas as things turned out, the electorate were more concerned about a woman who was itching to go to into a shooting war with Russia over a ruined town in northern Syria.

Bubble Spotted

Every so often the mainstream media run a story which inadvertently reveals the yawning chasm between them and the rest of us. Usually it takes the form of a situation which the Establishment Classes in the media think is appalling but comes across quite differently to those people forced to live in the real world.

Take this BBC article for example:

Mexico has condemned new guidelines issued by the United States, under which almost all illegal immigrants can be subject to deportation.

The new rules include sending undocumented people to Mexico, even if they are not Mexicans.

Okay, fair enough. This is questionable and worth reporting on. But this:

The Obama government focussed on deporting immigrants convicted of serious crimes.

Now, the new priorities are broad enough to apply to almost any illegal immigrant, including anyone who has been charged with a crime, misrepresented themselves, poses a risk to public safety, or “abused any programme related to receipt of public benefits”.

Note how the BBC attempts to portray this as some sort of hardline policy brought in by Trump in contrast to the caring, gentle approach of that nice man Obama. Only pretty much every ordinary person who has a functioning brain would look at these “new priorities” and think “It’s about f*cking time! What the hell were we doing up ’til now?!” Whole swathes of the country will be wondering why they’re not deporting illegal immigrants who haven’t committed a crime on the basis that they have entered the country illegally. Trying to provoke outrage over a policy that would see illegal immigrants deported if they scam the benefits system or commit a crime is one of those things which can only seem sensible in a left-liberal bubble.

Right beside that article is another:

Donald Trump’s government has revoked guidance to US public schools that allowed transgender students to use toilets matching their gender identity.

The guidance, issued by his predecessor Barack Obama, had been hailed by as a victory for transgender rights.

Last May, Mr Obama’s justice and education departments instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom corresponded to their gender identity.

I think people will look back and use this transgender bathroom issue as an example of what happens when the Establishment Classes get too detached from those who they govern. I suspect most people of my generation and younger are more or less fully accepting of gays, something that probably couldn’t have been said a few decades ago. Even those who opposed the SCOTUS gay marriage decision for various reasons probably shrugged their shoulders, muttered something about the world going to the dogs, and accepted that most of the population isn’t bothered by it. The SJWs then seized on this “victory” and decided that the general public either would be or should be as accepting as transgender people up to and including them being able to decide which gender they are on any given morning. Somehow they then persuaded the Federal Government to enshrine this in law via the back door, when almost the entire country was thinking “Now hang on a minute…”

The ZMan had a post up yesterday that explains this disparity between the Establishment Classes and everyone else:

Now, it is possible that Progressivism is on its death bed. Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.

In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. The trouble is, they are running out of victims to champion. Black guys getting pushed around by rednecks at the polling booth make for sympathetic victims. Mentally unstable men in sundresses wanting access to the girl’s toilet are not good victims. They are ridiculous and championing them makes the champions look ridiculous.

There are several reasons why Hillary lost and Trump won, and that is one of them.

Idiots Reporting On Idiots

Okay, we all know that Amnesty International got captured by the militant left years ago and went from a group fighting for the release of prisoners of conscience to a run-of-the-mill political lobby group masquerading as a charity. Anyone who took them seriously after their general secretary said the US prison at Guantanamo Bay was “the gulag of our times” in 2005 is an idiot. Naturally, this means those at the BBC take them seriously, hence an Amnesty report singling out Trump for special criticism is front page news:

Politicians who have used a divisive and dehumanised rhetoric are creating a more divided and dangerous world, says rights group Amnesty International.

Its annual report singles out President Donald Trump as an example of an “angrier and more divisive politics”.

There’s a spectacularly odd notion out there that Donald Trump is a divisive President, implying he approached a unified country and split it in two via “dehumanised” rhetoric. Hopefully there is at least someone out there besides me who thinks Trump’s success was born of the fact that America was already deeply divided long before he threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination.

But it criticises other leaders, including those of Turkey, Hungary and the Philippines, who it says have used narratives of fear, blame and division.

It would be easier to list those politicians who don’t employ such narratives. Or are we to believe that the vitriol being poured onto those Brits who voted to leave the EU by the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker and the anti-English bile spewed by Nicola Sturgeon is somehow different?

The group also says governments are exploiting refugees for political ends.

By importing them by the million as voting-fodder and (laughably) to shore up collapsing government finances?

The report, which covers 159 countries, cited a rise in hate speech across the US and Europe targeting refugees and said the reverberations would see more attacks on people on the basis of race, gender, nationality and religion.

Alas, the Amnesty Report doesn’t say what they mean by “hate speech”. What’s the betting their definition includes a mere questioning of the merits of unfettered immigration?

“Instead of fighting for people’s rights, too many leaders have adopted a dehumanizing agenda for political expediency,” Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“The limits of what is acceptable have shifted. Politicians are shamelessly and actively legitimizing all sorts of hateful rhetoric and policies based on people’s identity: misogyny, racism and homophobia.”

Yes, identity politics is an awful thing, isn’t it? Causes all sorts of rifts and divisions. Just the sort of divisions a man like Trump could come in and exploit, actually. Only he didn’t create them, did he?

The group made special reference to Mr Trump’s executive order last month that banned refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the US.

It said Mr Trump put “his hateful xenophobic pre-election rhetoric” into action by signing the measure.

Whereas Obama’s decision to end the policy of America accepting Cuban refugees doesn’t warrant a mention. Here’s what the report does say about Obama and Cuba (page 25):

Notable events during 2016 included US President Barack Obama’s historic state visit to Cuba, which put the two countries’ human rights challenges – including the ill-treatment of migrants in the USA, the impact of the US embargo on Cuba’s human rights situation, and the lack of freedom of expression and the repression of activists in Cuba – in the international spotlight

It does also say this, though (page 12):

[Trump’s] predecessor, President Barack Obama, leaves a legacy that includes many grievous failures to uphold human rights, not least the expansion of the CIA’s secretive campaign of drone strikes and the development of a gargantuan mass surveillance machine as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Not that the BBC included this snippet in their article. For reasons of space, presumably.

Russia: Not Black and White

Alex K. writes in the comments under this post:

The idea that Russia helped install Trump in the White House is not much different from the Kremlin’s favorite talking point (much parroted on the American left and right), that the 2014 protests in Kiev were nothing but a US-manufactured coup d’etat.

Alex’s comment illustrates the point that finding sensible commentary on Russia is difficult (which is why his own blog is worth reading). I am often told I see things in black and white too often, but when it comes to Russia I find it is others whose views fall into one of the following two categories:

1. Russia is America’s number one enemy, they rigged the US election in order to install their puppet Trump, they are hell-bent on taking over Europe by force and they must be confronted in Syria.

2. Russia is absolutely no threat to Europe, Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia and the annexation was perfectly above-board, they have been forced to launch a war in Eastern Ukraine because of Western plans to encircle them, they are directly threatened by NATO and they have shown us all how things ought to be done in Syria.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in between, which is a bit depressing. Then again, I’ve always thought people were a bit clueless when it comes to Russia. Insofar as I am concerned, the actual situation lies somewhere in the middle and recognising this is the first step to understand how to deal with Russia.

Russia ought to have been confronted more forcefully, albeit diplomatically, over its annexation of Crimea and the failed attempt to carry out a popular uprising in Eastern Ukraine. Russia’s claims over the strategic value of Sevastopol were always bullshit, as were their claims that US/CIA/NATO/EU backed fascists were about to take over Ukraine at the expense of the ethnic-Russian population. Yes, Russia did have historical claims to Crimea and the majority of the population might have wanted to join Russia, but the way they went about it ought not to have been tolerated. Those claiming parallels between Crimea and Kosovo don’t appear to understand the difference between secession and annexation, and should be ignored. As I have written before, the pro/anti-Russian sides in Ukraine cannot be simply split by language, and nor can they be split by geography. There are no simple solutions, and anyone who thinks there is should be ignored. Ukraine is notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional and is likely to stay that way regardless of whether Russia gets to control the place.

Russia should have been confronted more forcefully, again diplomatically, over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Perhaps it was the Ukrainian military, but the missile is far more likely to have been fired by a rag-tag pro-Russian militia with the direct support of the Russian military. Finding out the truth ought to have been a priority, but the West caved in to Russian obstructionism and misinformation. If there was one incident for which Putin should have been raked over the coals, this was it. The financial and other sanctions should have been doubled or tripled at that point, but I guess the glorious Western leadership preferred a quiet life and German businesses wanted to keep making money in Russia.

Russia’s “concerns” over NATO exercises in Poland, Estonia, and elsewhere should be roundly ignored as these countries have a far more recent and unpleasant history of being invaded and subjugated by Moscow than vice versa. If Russia doesn’t want Poland defending itself, then they should look at how they’re behaving towards Ukraine. If Russia wants to believe NATO intends to invade them, then let them. But they don’t really believe that any more than they believe half the crap they broadcast on Russia Today.

The constant drive to incorporate more NATO countries into the alliance is unwise, e.g. Montenegro. Nobody in the West is going to risk nuclear war with Russia over Montenegro, and this continuous expansion seems to be driven by organisational empire building rather than defence concerns. This plays straight into the hands of Russia and it’s apologists who whine that NATO is an expansive, offensive alliance that wants to encircle and conquer Russia.

Rather than confront Russia over blatant land grabs in Europe and the shooting down of civilian airliners, some clowns seem to think the West should confront Russia in Syria. Why the fortunes of Syria are of any interest to those in the West I don’t know, save for the fact that we are subject to mass migration of those fleeing the war zones, or at least pretending to. If that is our concern then the priority should have been to end the war as quickly as possible instead of letting it drag out by arming the rebels such that they could not be beaten but also could not prevail. The US/CIA didn’t start the war in Syria, but for some reason Western policy is to insist that Assad goes even though there is nothing even remotely close to an alternative on offer. If we were to jettison this idiotic policy then there is no reason to believe Russia is an enemy of the West in Syria. Sure, their methods might be appalling and we should and could criticise them, but their actual aims – smashing ISIS and restoring Assad to the head of a functioning country – are not wildly different from what anyone sensible in the West wants. So Russia gains “influence” in the Middle East? Let ’em have it.

Could Russia be a valuable ally in the war on terror? Possibly. In some instances yes, others no. They can be relied upon to kick the shit out of Islamists either using a Kadyrov in Chechnya or carpet-bombing in Aleppo, but let’s not kid ourselves that wedding ourselves to Russia and these sort of tactics will yield results to our liking. I think the West should cooperate with Russia in this regard and grudgingly appreciate that they are not squeamish about dealing with Islamists, but I don’t think their assistance is worth giving them a green light to do what they like in Ukraine and the Baltics.

I don’t think Russia is interested in conquering Western Europe, but I do think they might be interested in grabbing more former-Soviet territory if they can get away with it easily, like they did in Crimea. If they get away with more of that, they’ll keep pushing until they meet some resistance. So provide stiff resistance to Estonia, Poland, and others but let’s not get carried away in thinking Russia is some mighty foe that directly threatens America. Russia doesn’t want a war, they want quick and easy results. Making sure they don’t get the latter will prevent the former.

The hysteria over Russia “hacking” the election and Trump being Putin’s puppet is just the latest line excuse the Republicans and Democrats are using to explain why their preferred candidates got soundly beaten by an outsider nobody fancied. As Streetwise Professor explains, Putin is probably slowly realising that Trump winning might not have been to bis advantage after all. He’s going to have a lot more difficulty going up against Mattis and Tillerson than he would whichever shower Hillary would have picked. Trump was not Putin’s puppet and he is unlikely to do Putin’s bidding, but nor is he likely to start giving orders to shoot down Russian planes in Syria and other acts of rank stupidity. If Trump is “soft” on Russia regarding Syria, there is no reason to think that is a green light for Putin to help himself to Estonia. If Trump talks about easing sanctions on Russia in order to secure their help fighting ISIS, this doesn’t mean the US is about to recognise the Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. If the people in the West do have concerns with Russian influence on their politics then maybe they should say something about Germany’s cosy relationship with Russia which run so deep that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was able to take a high-profile job on a Gazprom project mere days after he left office. Nobody said a thing, but now we’re supposed to believe that Trump is compromised? Please.

In other words, the West should deal with Russia by treating each situation and policy separately instead of going for a blanket approach, and understanding that the place is complicated and requires certain nuances that aren’t going to fit in a single line or Twitter comment. Russian interests both align with and oppose Western interests depending on what we’re talking about, and a mature, balanced approach is required to deal with them. Trump’s first step towards achieving this should be to utterly ignore most contemporary commentary on the matter.

Flynn’s Sacking Explained Simply

Having read people’s reactions on social media to Trump’s press conference yesterday, it is amazing how few understand what Trump said regarding Mike Flynn:

No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.

Ben Shapiro’s response was not untypical:

I suspect so many commentators are struggling with this because so few of them have worked in a business environment before. Shapiro is a lawyer/writer/public speaker. The relationship he has enjoyed with his superiors in these professions, insofar as he has any, will be a lot different from the manager-employee relationship most ordinary people experience in the corporate world, especially towards the top when things get a lot more cut-throat.

For me, it is completely plausible that somebody could be doing his job as instructed but, for reasons unknown only to himself, decides to mislead his manager regarding some aspect of it which results in the manager making an arse of himself. In fact, I can’t believe there is anyone who has worked for more than a few years in a modern corporation that hasn’t seen this scenario crop up at least once.

An example. An Engineering Manager asks his Piping Designer if he has finished those drawings. The Designer says “Yes, they are done.” The Engineering Manager calls the Construction Manager and says “Yup, they’re done. We’ll send them to you first thing in the morning.” The next morning the Engineering Manager asks the Designer for the drawings. Turns out they are not completed after all, they’re only at 90% and they need another day’s work. For whatever reason, the Designer lied. The Engineering Manager now has to call the Construction Manager, who has a welder on standby ready to start fabricating, and tell him they drawings are not ready after all. The Engineering Manager looks like a dick who can’t run a department properly, and the Designer is going to get bawled at as an absolute minimum. He might even get fired. But that doesn’t mean that the Designer was doing something he wasn’t supposed to, far from it: he was doing his job just fine, even if the drawings weren’t ready it would have been no big deal. But he lied to his manager and put him in a very bad position. In any organisation, this is unacceptable.

The fact that most of our media commentators, even smart ones like Ben Shapiro, don’t understand this speaks volumes about how little real-world experience that sector has between them.

Not the News but the Narrative

It wouldn’t be a day at the BBC without a front page article bashing Trump, would it? Their latest effort is entitled Will Trump’s Russia crisis be bigger than Watergate?

The answer, of course, is no. If you follow the link you find not a story about Trump’s alleged “crisis” but a story about former news anchor Dan Rather speculating with a desperate hopefulness that Flynn’s resignation is similar to Watergate.

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has compared the controversy over links between members of President Donald Trump’s team and Russia to the Watergate scandal.

This is what the British Broadcasting Corporation considers front page news.

Rather, who was for decades one of the best known and most trusted figures in US journalism, said in a Facebook post: “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”

What the BBC doesn’t tell us is that this “most trusted figure” saw his career come to an abrupt end when he was fired by CBS for pushing a false story about George W. Bush’s service record which was based on forged documents.

The post has been shared more than 88,000 times and has generated nearly 200,000 reactions.

Rather also promoted his post on Twitter, generating more than 13,000 retweets and 22,000 likes.

Because volume of shares and likes on Facebook and Twitter is an excellent basis for promoting news to the front page.

This is not a political story at all: it is a non-story regarding the reaction on social media to speculative comments made by a former news anchor with a history of false reporting. But hey, let’s run it anyway because The Narrative.

Career Killers

From the BBC on the subject of David Patraeus potentially replacing Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser:

Once considered a rising star in the Republican Party after his success organising the 2007 US military troop “surge” in Iraq, he was forced to resign from the CIA in disgrace and charged with sharing top secret documents with a civilian reporter with whom he was having an extra-marital affair. He eventually pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information

That, it seems, has not been a career-killing event, however.

Didn’t Hillary running for President prove beyond all doubt that mishandling classified information isn’t a career-killer? Although granted, had she not been called Clinton it might have been. That name provides ample cover for extra-marital affairs, too.

Michael Flynn’s Resignation

There is a lot of talk at the moment about how the “intelligence community” brought down Michael Flynn, and how Trump’s opponents now smell blood in the water and will go after another of his cabinet as they attempt to destroy his entire administration and Presidency.

What surprised me about Flynn’s resignation was that Trump accepted it. Perhaps Trump is the sort of man who will see any resignation as a sign that the individual in question is no longer up to the job. I have certainly seen American managers of far lower stature than Trump refuse to waver over an employee’s resignation on the grounds that to enter into a negotiation after he or she has resigned is a sign of weakness on the part of the manager. Any negotiations must take place beforehand, with the resignation being a final decision. I know at least one person who submitted his resignation in the hope his management would beg him to stay and was most upset to find it promptly accepted and him being shuffled out the door. So that might be one reason why Trump accepted Flynn’s resignation.

But assuming this was not the case, why would Trump accept Flynn’s resignation when doing so would appear to be a victory for his opponents and give credibility to the claims that Flynn had done something wrong? My guess is that Flynn’s resignation was accepted, and possibly even encouraged, by Trump because he had breached some sort of internal disciplinary standard rather than because he has been compromised by the Russians and there is a baying mob outside the White House doors. In other words, somewhere along the line Flynn pissed off Trump, probably unintentionally, and for Trump maintaining discipline among the ranks is important. What Flynn actually did in relation to the Russians is likely to have nothing to do with the decision to remove him from the post, and nor are the “demands” of Trump’s opponents.

If Trump is the sort of person who can be pushed into firing members of his cabinet by media pressure, opportunistic Democrats and Republicans, and treacherous staff in the civil service then he might as well pack up and go home now. I suspect this isn’t the case, and Flynn was fired for reasons that have more to do with how Trump manages than what the media say he did. I doubt we’ll know for a few years exactly how Flynn transgressed, but Trump will have made it abundantly clear to the rest of his team and they’ll not be making the same mistake. If I’m right on this, next time the “intelligence community” or somebody else tries to force out one of Trump’s cabinet picks – which I think will be very soon the way things are going – they might find the target to be quite well protected. They might also find revenge to be swift.

Trump and Russia

The BBC is showing no signs of letting up on its anti-Trump propaganda campaign, perhaps believing that if enough middle class Brits get upset he will resign or something.

Today the topic of choice is Trump’s alleged links to Russia:

Throughout the confusion of Donald Trump’s campaign and the chaotic events of his early days in the White House, one controversy has clung to the Trump train like glue: Russia.

Except this isn’t quite true, is it? Russia only became the albatross of choice with which to hang around Trump’s neck when all others were laughed off: misogyny, racism, fake news, etc.

The sudden departure of Michael Flynn from his role as national security adviser on Monday was the latest in a string of controversies tying the administration to apparent Russian interests.

More accurately, it is possibly the one genuine story in a whole string of non-stories which the media has been peddling for all it’s worth since election day.

Mr Flynn resigned after misleading the president, and Vice-President Mike Pence, over whether he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador in the weeks before Mr Trump took office – which would violate a law that prohibits private citizens from conducting diplomacy.

So Trump is maintaining discipline within the ranks. Why this merits front-page news at the BBC is anyone’s guess.

It was back in May 2016 that the first reports emerged of hackers targeting the Democratic Party. Over the next two months, the reports suggested US intelligence agencies had traced the breaches back to Russian hackers.

This was less of a hack than lapse security by dimwitted Democrats, and there was never any evidence provided that Russians were responsible nor that they specifically targetted the Democratic Party. But leaving all that aside: what has this got to do with Trump?!

In July, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Wikileaks published 20,000 internal emails stolen by the hackers. US intelligence officials said they believed with “high confidence” that Russia was behind the operation, but the Trump campaign publicly refused the accept the findings.

Most of the world publicly refused to accept the findings of US intelligence officials over WMDs in Iraq.  Does this mean they were in cahoots with Saddam Hussein?

Instead, at a press conference, Mr Trump caused outrage by inviting Russian hackers to target Hillary Clinton’s controversial personal email server, saying: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing”.

Erm, no. Hillary’s server had been compromised years before that remark. Trump was assuming the Russians, along with everyone else except seemingly Hillary and the FBI, already had the emails taken from the now-destroyed server. The outrage, insofar as there was any, was whipped up by Hillary’s supporters who didn’t like the subject rearing its head during her ill-fated campaign.

About the same time the hacking scandal was beginning to unfold, Mr Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was accused of accepting millions of dollars in cash for representing Russian interests in the Ukraine and US, including dealings with an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I have no idea whether Manafort actually did receive millions of dollars from people representing foreign interests, but we all know Hillary did via the Clinton Foundation. Why are unproven allegations of dodgy dealings by a campaign manager seen as worse than actual corruption by a serving Secretary of State?

While Mr Manafort was running the campaign, the Republican Party changed the language in its manifesto regarding the conflict in Ukraine, removing anti-Russian sentiment, allegedly at the behest of two Trump campaign representatives.

So Trump’s campaign disagreed with mainstream Republicans on Russia and Ukraine. Along with pretty much everything else.

Mr Manafort was investigated by the FBI and quit as Mr Trump’s campaign chairman. Like Mr Flynn, Mr Manafort, a political operative with more than 40 years’ experience, was supposed to marshal some of the chaos and controversy around Mr Trump, but ended up falling prey to it.

Yet Trump still won and Hillary lost.

In October, the US intelligence community released a unanimous statement formally accusing Russia of being the perpetrator behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

It would have been better if they’d released evidence. But again, what’s this got to do with Trump?

Mr Trump continued to argue against the finding, claiming in a presidential debate that it “could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds”.

Which happens to be true: the DNC security was so poor that John Podesta’s emails were hacked via a simple phishing operation.

The same day that the intelligence agencies released their finding, the explosive “Access Hollywood” recording emerged of Mr Trump’s obscene remarks about women in 2005. An hour later, Wikileaks began dumping thousands more leaked Clinton emails.

What the hell has Trump’s remarks about pussy-grabbing got to do with Russia?

Mr Trump continued to refuse to acknowledge the consensus that Russia was behind the hack.

Would that be “consensus” in the global warming sense?

In December, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security published a report of the US intelligence findings linking Russia to the hack.

Which, if memory serves, relied heavily on a Wikipedia article.

In response, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and levied new sanctions on Russia. The world awaited Mr Putin’s response but he chose not retaliate. Mr Trump, by then the president-elect, sided with the Russian president, tweeting: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

So Trump thinks Putin, who showed admirable restraint in the face of pure petulance by the outgoing Obama, did the right thing by not retaliating and doesn’t think Putin is stupid. Is this supposed to be controversial?

Mr Putin’s decision not to respond in kind struck many as a canny PR move, but reportedly set off suspicions among US intelligence officials that Russia was confident the sanctions would not last.

Or that he might finally get to deal with an adult in the White House in a few weeks.

The same month, Mr Trump picked Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state, arguably the most important job in the cabinet. The biggest hurdle for Mr Tillerson’s confirmation? Close ties to Mr Putin.

As CEO of the ExxonMobil oil company, Mr Tillerson cultivated a close personal relationship with the Russian leader, leading many to speculate on whether he was fit to serve as America’s most senior foreign diplomat.

There’s a lot of speculation in this piece, isn’t there? One would have thought with this spaghetti-like network of ties between Trump and Putin somebody would have been able to produce some evidence of one by now.

In January, Buzzfeed published a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official and Russia expert, which alleged that Moscow had compromising material on the then-president-elect, making him liable to blackmail.

Among the various memos in the dossier was an allegation that Mr Trump had been recorded by Russian security services consorting with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel.

Mr Trump dismissed the claims as fake news.

You mean the BBC thinks it is real?!!

CNN revealed that President Obama and President-elect Trump had been briefed on the existence of the dossier by intelligence officials, and Buzzfeed went one further, publishing the entire thing.

The document went off like a hand grenade tossed into the already febrile political scene and generated a backlash against Buzzfeed for publishing what were essentially unverified claims.

Which the BBC is nevertherless happy to include in an article on Trump’s supposed Russian connections.

In February, the most concrete and damaging Russia scandal finally surfaced, months after suspicions were raised among intelligence officials.

A Washington Post report said Mr Flynn had discussed the potential lifting of Mr Obama’s Russia sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, before Mr Trump took office.

Mr Flynn, who had appeared regularly on Russian propaganda channel RT and once attended dinner with Mr Putin, resigned as Mr Trump’s national security adviser, saying he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador” late last year.

It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.

It’s also illegal for the United State security services to conduct surveillance on a private citizen without a warrant.  See Streetwise Professor for more details on that. But either way, this looks more like a matter of internal discipline of the Trump administration than proof that Trump is a Russian puppet.

Mr Trump has made no secret of his regard for Mr Putin and his desire to establish closer ties with Russia. But the more pressing question, and one which the president just can’t seem to shake, is just how close those ties already go.

On the basis of what’s in this article, not very far at all.

Look, if Trump had a tower with his name on in Moscow or a casino in Vladivostok then one could raise legitimate questions over his connections to Putin. But he doesn’t, and nothing I have seen suggests Trump ever had any business or other interests in Russia aside from him having a quick look-see back in the 1990s or early ’00s and deciding, quite sensibly, that it wasn’t worth the hassle. Has Trump actually ever been to Russia in person? Has he met Putin? I’ve not seen any evidence he’s done either, and if it existed surely we’d have seen it by now. This whole obsession with Russia is nothing more than the latest in a line of pathetic attempts to cast doubts on the legitimacy of Trump’s Presidency and shore up the narrative that he is not acting in the interests of America. The media, including the BBC, needs to put up or shut up.

Game Rigged

I don’t agree with all of the ZMan’s post here, but this paragraph is spot on:

We have reached a point where it is heads they win, tails we lose. The game has been rigged to make reforming the system within the rules an impossibility. When a majority of the people favor a policy that the managerial class opposes, the policy gets hamstrung by the rules of the game. All of a sudden, the process is sacred. When the managerial class wants something for their masters, they change the rules so it either flies through or simply happens without anyone noticing. The process is not all that important.

And this, which I touched on in yesterday’s post:

All the blather about America being a nation of laws is just cover for the fact that ours is a lawless nation ruled by lawless men. An obvious example is the Ninth Circuit judges, who have fabricated a legal justification for throwing sand in the gears of a wildly popular executive order issued by President Trump. These are not men enforcing the law or respecting the laws. These are men who hold the law in contempt. All that matters to them is obedience to the weird secular cult we have come to call Progressivism.