The Russian Love Affair With Donald Trump Sours As The U.S. And Russia Move Toward War

In recent months Donald Trump has been severely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for not being sufficiently “anti-Russia”, but the truth is that the Trump administration has not been working hard enough to repair a relationship that is now souring very rapidly. When Donald Trump won the election in November, the Russians celebrated tremendously, because they greatly preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton. But just because Trump was victorious does not mean that our relationship with Russia will automatically improve. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin both have huge egos, and it is quite easy to imagine a scenario in which things between them go very, very badly.

In fact, we may already be starting to see such a scenario play out. As you will see below, under President Trump U.S. troops are being deployed to a very sensitive area of Poland, and they are also being sent to key areas of Bulgaria and Romania. That is not sitting well with the Russian government, but they were much more upset when Trump insisted that Russia must give the Crimea back to Ukraine. This is something that the Russians would never do, and they were quite stunned that Trump would even suggest such a thing.

On the flip side, the Pentagon was quite annoyed when Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. warship in the Black Sea just a few days ago, and when a Russian spy ship set up shop just off the coast of Connecticut recently, President Trump told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that “the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water”.

When I first heard about that quote I thought it might be “fake news”, but it was actually reported by ABC News and a whole host of other prominent news outlets.

I know that Trump doesn’t have much of a filter, and that is a good thing when he is dealing with the mainstream media, but it can be a very, very bad thing for foreign policy.

Look, you may think that it is a good idea to blow a Russian spy ship out of the water, but you never, ever say such a thing out loud.

The Russians think like mobsters. That means that they are quite paranoid, and it also means that they take whatever you say very, very seriously.

In a few days, most of us living in the United States will completely forget what Trump said about that Russian spy ship, but over in Russia they will remember this quote forever.

This is just how the Russians operate – they never forget, and they never, ever forgive.

When you are dealing with Russia, you have got to be very, very careful. Unfortunately, being cautious is not one of Trump’s strengths, and the wild optimism about Trump in Russia is now being replaced by disappointment and anger

The new U.S. president has been in his role for just under a month, taking office in a transition that has been marked by chaos and missteps. And already, from the right of the political spectrum to the marginalized Russian left, a mixture of disappointment with the new U.S. president — who came into office promising to remake relations between the two countries — and a sense of vindication that Trump couldn’t be trusted after all has crept into Russian political chatter.

“Is Trump already out of fashion?” the independent Russian journal Russkaya Fabula asked on Wednesday — the same day that the Trump administration was dealing with the fallout stemming from revelations about National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. The site pointed to a small demonstration by hard-line nationalists this week, which picketed a major state-run news outlet and demanded the end of the “cult of Trump” in Russian media.

And in a sign of how far things have already deteriorated, Putin has ordered state media over in Russia to cut back on their coverage of Trump

The Kremlin ordered state media to cut back on their fawning coverage of President Donald Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new US administration will be less friendly than first thought, three people familiar with the matter said.

Just before Trump took office, Barack Obama aggressively moved U.S. troops toward the Russian border, and I highly criticized him for that.

So now that Trump is doing the exact same thing, I have to be critical of him as well. Somebody needs to tell Trump that stationing 1,000 U.S. troops in northeastern Poland is not going to help our relationship with Putin…

The US Army’s Europe headquarters located in Wiesbaden, Germany announced late Saturday that 1,000 US troops and their vehicles would be sent to northeastern Poland at the end of March.

The unit – part of 4,000 US troops being deployed in rotation along NATO’s eastern flank under its “Atlantic Resolve” mission – will be located at Orzysz.

That particular Polish city is less than 90 miles from the extremely sensitive Russian city of Kaliningrad.

If I was Trump, this is something that I would not have done.

At this point, the Russians are not quite sure what to make of Trump. In fact, they have even gone so far as to prepare a “psychological dossier” on him to help Putin prepare for his first meeting with Trump…

A dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.

Unfortunately, Trump tends to listen to those in his immediate vicinity, and in Washington he is surrounded by war hawks that absolutely hate Russia. The following comes from Pat Buchanan

The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.

That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the a– in Congress.”

Members of Congress such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham are playing a very dangerous game.

It is okay to be critical of Russia, but if you are constantly making inflammatory statements all the time that is just going to push us toward war.

And as I explained in my latest book, we do not want a war with Russia.

For years, the Russian military has been laser-focused on preparing for a war with the United States, while at the same time the U.S. military has been primarily focused on fighting wars in the Middle East.

So the Russians have been working very hard to upgrade their strategic nuclear arsenal, and at this point their arsenal is far superior to ours. The following comes from an article that I came across earlier today

Russia is constantly improving its nuclear deterrence and is very close to deploying new technologically-advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles which can defeat any US missile defense systems, a Russian deputy prime minister said in an interview.

“These weapons will soon appear in our armed forces,” Dmitry Rogozin told Rossiya-1 TV on Sunday. While not naming the new ICBM, the deputy PM in charge of the defense industry said the missile will have the capacity to penetrate any American air defenses.

“These weapons are able to clear the United States’ missile defense both of today and of tomorrow – and even of the day after tomorrow,” Rogozin said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to rely on weapons systems that were developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Russians are a very dangerous foe, and it is in our national interest to try to have a positive relationship with them.

There are going to be times when we strongly disagree with what the Russians are doing, but our interactions with them should always be focused on trying to avoid a nuclear conflict.

So yes, we should let the Russians know when we are upset about something, but constantly making provocative and incendiary statements is a recipe for disaster.

Hopefully our leaders will start to realize this very soon, because right now our relationship with Russia is deteriorating very rapidly.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

15 Signs That We Live During A Time Of Rampant Government Paranoia

Big Brother - The Police State Is Watching You - Public Domain

How does it feel to live under a government that is getting even more paranoid with each passing day? Yes, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, but that is no excuse for how ultra-paranoid the federal government has become. Today, every single one of us is viewed as a “potential threat” by the government. As a result, the government feels the need to intercept our emails, record our phone calls and track our expenditures. But they aren’t just spying on individuals. The government keeps tabs on thousands of organizations all over the planet, it spies on our enemies and our allies, and it even spies on itself. The American people are told that the emerging Big Brother police state is for our safety, but the truth is that it isn’t there to protect us. It is there to protect them. Our government has become kind of like a crazy rich uncle that is constantly spying on everyone else in the family because he believes that they are “out to get him”. The following are 15 signs that we live during a time of rampant government paranoia…

#1 Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson says that the federal government was so concerned about her reporting on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and other Obama scandals that they hacked her computer, monitored every keystroke and even planted classified material in an apparent attempt to potentially frame her.

#2 The United States has become the nation of the “permanent emergency”. In fact, there has been at least one “state of emergency” in effect in this country since 1979.

#3 In America today, almost everyone is considered to be a criminal. At this point, nearly one out of every three Americans has a file in the FBI’s master criminal database.

#4 Most people don’t realize this, but the FBI also systematically records talk radio programs. The FBI says that it is looking for “potential evidence”.

#5 In Wisconsin, 24 armed police officers are an armored military vehicle were recently sent to collect a civil judgment from a 75-year-old retiree. It is being reported that officials feared that he might be “argumentative“.

#6 According to guidelines that were recently made public, purchasing Amtrak train tickets with cash is considered to be “suspicious activity” and needs to be reported to the authorities.

#7 The IRS can now seize your bank accounts on suspicion alone. If you are successful fighting the IRS in court, you might get your money back years later.

#8 Thousands of Americans have their mail spied on by the U.S. Postal Service. If you are on “the list”, all of your mail and packages are shown to a supervisor before they are delivered to you.

#9 Most people don’t realize that the U.S. border is now considered to be a “Constitution-free zone” where officials can freely grab your computer and copy your hard drive.

#10 The feds have apparently become extremely concerned about what all of us are saying on the Internet. In fact, they have even been caught manipulating discussions on Reddit and editing Wikipedia.

#11 The U.S. government has become so paranoid that it even spies on our European allies. Needless to say, our allies over in Europe are quite upset about this but we continue to do it.

#12 To the government, each citizen is a “potential threat”, and this justifies the militarization of our entire society. The following is an excerpt from an excellent commentary by John Whitehead

Just take a stroll through your city’s downtown. Spend an afternoon in your local mall. Get in your car and drive to your parents’ house. Catch the next flight to that business conference. While you’re doing so, pay careful attention to how you and your fellow citizens are treated by government officials—the ones whose salaries you are paying.

You might walk past a police officer outfitted in tactical gear, holding an assault rifle, or drive past a police cruiser scanning license plates. There might be a surveillance camera on the street corner tracking your movements. At the airport, you may be put through your paces by government agents who will want to either pat you down or run scans of your body. And each time you make a call or send a text message, your communications will most likely be logged and filed. When you return home, you might find that government agents have been questioning your neighbors about you, as part of a “census” questionnaire. After you retire to sleep, you might find yourself awakened by a SWAT team crashing through your door (you’ll later discover they were at the wrong address), and if you make the mistake of reaching for your eyeglasses, you might find yourself shot by a cop who felt threatened.

Is this the behavior of a government that respects you? One that looks upon you as having inviolate rights? One that regards you as its employer, its master, its purpose for being?

I don’t think so. While this hyper-militarization of the government is being sold to the public as a means of preventing terrorism and maintaining national security, it is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, what we are dealing with is a police state disguised as a benevolent democracy, a run-away government hyped up on its own power and afraid of its citizenry, whose policies are dictated more by paranoia than need.

#13 As our police departments have become militarized, SWAT team deployments have gone through the roof. As I wrote about recently, there were only about 3,000 SWAT raids in the United States back in 1980. But today, there are more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country.

#14 The federal government is so paranoid that it is actually spying on itself. The “Insider Threat Program” encourages federal employees to closely watch one another and to report any hint of suspicious activity

The federal effort, called the Insider Threat Program, was launched in October 2011, and it certainly hasn’t diminished since Edward Snowden disclosed details of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying. As McClatchy reporters Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay have described, federal employees and contractors are encouraged to keep an eye on allegedly suspicious indicators in their co-workers’ lives, from financial troubles to divorce. A brochure produced by the Defense Security Service, titled “INSIDER THREATS: Combating the ENEMY within your organization,” sums up the spirit of the program: “It is better to have reported overzealously than never to have reported at all.”

#15 Last, but certainly not least, there is the matter of the NSA constantly spying on all of us. The NSA is monitoring and recording billions of our phone calls and emails, and most Americans don’t seem to care. But they should care. I like how an article in the New York Post described what is happening to our society…

Through a combination of fear, cowardice, political opportunism and bureaucratic metastasis, the erstwhile land of the free has been transformed into a nation of closely watched subjects — a country of 300 million potential criminals, whose daily activities need constant monitoring.

Once the most secret of organizations, the NSA has become even more famous than the CIA, the public face of Big Brother himself. At its headquarters on Savage Road in Fort Meade, Md., its omnivorous Black Widow supercomputer hoovers up data both foreign and domestic, while its new $2 billion data center near Bluffdale, Utah — the highly classified Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center — houses, well, just about everything. As James Bamford wrote in Wired magazine two years ago, as the center was being completed:

“Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private e-mails, cellphone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’ ”

So what do you think?

Are there any points that you would add to this list?

Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

(Originally posted at End of the American Dream)

Bubble Paranoia Setting In On Wall Street As S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst

Bubble - Photo by Brocken Inaglory

Two years of uninterrupted gains in U.S. stocks are sowing anxiety among financial professionals, with three in five saying the market is on the verge of a bubble or already in one, the Bloomberg Global Poll found.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said the equity market is close to unsustainable levels while 14 percent already saw a bubble, according to a quarterly poll of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers. Almost a third of respondents called the market for lower-rated corporate debt overheated and most said stock swings will increase within six months, the July 15-16 poll showed.

With biotechnology stocks trading at more than 500 times earnings, mega-deals resurfacing and bond sales at a record, concern prices are too high is growing amid a rally that has pushed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index almost 30 percent above its peak in 2007. The view isn’t shared by the Federal Reserve, which said this week that while valuations are stretched in smaller biotechnology and social media companies, asset prices in general are in line with historical levels.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

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