First, could you please make it easier to contact Bulwark staff with an easy to find link - I want to write comments and letters but always have to scroll and search. Tonight I read this: "A new Harvard Center for American Political Studies (CAPS)-Harris Poll survey released Friday found that 62 percent of those polled believed Putin would not be moving against Ukraine if Trump had been president." We need some ads highlighting Trump's history with Putin and Russia: 1) Moscow Trump Tower lies 2) inviting the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the Oval Office where he disclosed highly classified info to them 3) Helsinki, 4) Mueller report on how Russia meddled on his behalf and how his campaign welcomed the help 5) How he hid the details of his meetings with Putin 6) how he supported Putin's talking points on Crimea 7) How he tried to get Russia readmitted to the G7 group 8) How he refused to confront Putin over massive cyber attack. And then there is what he did with Ukraine that takes on added significance now.

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"I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius.”"

His ability to express himself is getting worse by the day. Sadly, this is what half the country wants in a president.

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The bromance between Trump and Putin is not surprising.

They both cannot stomach democracy, free elections, opponents. Putin has poisoned a number of them and “disappeared” others.

For an ex-President to praise a person like Putin as brilliant is beyond the pale. They both are liars and only fend for themselves

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I think Trump uses the phrase "and frankly" the way other people would use "so, um". It's just filler. Repetitive, irritating filler. It shows up in every other sentence. I'd forgotten how freaking contemptible it was to hear the man speak. I still don't understand how audiences could consider his word-diarrhea "charismatic".

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I don't know much about Sykes, but he seems oddly biased.

I assume most of us reading The Bulwark have a healthy level of detestation for Trump. While that's probably a litmus test for a person's basic apprehension of reality, Trump's record on Russia is fairly clear . . . and it's really not what Sykes and Mona Charen carelessly represent it to be.

Trump massaged Putin's ego - questionable but a realpolitik tactic that's been employed by figures such as Churchill (with Stalin), Nixon and Kissinger (with Mao), and Eisenhower (with Khrushchev) - while consistently implementing sanctions and condemning Russian policy.

Brookings details Trump's policy actions vis-a-vis Russia here - https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/09/25/on-the-record-the-u-s-administrations-actions-on-russia/.

It's just kind of lazy (and intellectually dishonest) to represent the entirety of Trump's policy on Russia as "sycophantic Putin a**kisser." If that's the depth of our argument and analysis, we're not much better than Fox News.

Both things can be true at the same time - (a) Trump is a dangerous narcissist that needs to leave public life and (b) his record on Russia was consistently tough.

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lol, now that is a picture that completely destroys Putin's nationalistic rhetoric. He smouts it as if Kyiv sprouted from, has been, and always will be an extension of Moscow. Watch the "Winter of Fire" on Netflix. I don't think Putin wants Kyiv. The Ukrainians are the most hard core liberals on the planet.

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The entire Rick Scott platform is nothing we haven't heard from literally the entire party at this point for years. It's everything they believe in writing, but it's also everything they're actually doing at the state level and want to do at the federal level. Simply put, it's exactly what one would expect when 'conservatism' decides that there is nothing left of America to conserve, and instead requires top down correction by zealots who adhere to the 'true' faith of America.

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By Putin's logic, Poland & Lithuania should annex Kaliningrad.

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Hey Charlie.

After listening to yesterday's podcast, where you posed a question to Tim O'Brien regarding why Putin is making this move now instead of during Trump's tenure, I believe David Frum in the Atlantic has the answer: the current tightness of the energy market:


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Thanks for the link. Also the departure of Merkle last December, someone said (Ian Bremmer, I think).

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Two points -

1.) In the interview, Trump stated that he would have handled this situation differently. I guess he would have been very firm and tough with Putin to get Putin to accept his help in taking over Ukraine and destroying NATO. Trump is like my very friendly dog, that, if a robber got in the house, he would have told the robber where the valuables are and offer to help carry them out.

2.) Yes, the Republicans will finally get corporations, who are people according to Mitt and SCOTUS, actually pay their taxes.

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Rick Scott's list just demonstrates how dumbed down our whole political world has become.

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I took the "all Americans should pay some income tax" point in a different way. My understanding is that many wealthy people don't pay any income tax because the tax laws are such that their wealth is held in places other than income, and that the same can be said of some large corporations. I thought this was so widely known that Rick Scott making that statement was kind of an "oops" or an own-goal. Tax accountants and CPA's, could you comment on whether I have this right or wrong?

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I'm a little confused by the statement that Trump's "flattery" of Putin "was a shocking display of groveling appeasement." Groveling? Well, sure. It's just what the guy does vis a vie Putin and the like. But appeasement? If this asshole were still residing at 1600 Pa. Avenue, I guess it would be seen that way. But he's holed up down in Maga Largo, with his hands firmly on the levers of power of the GOP, but thankfully no longer on those of the U.S. government. At least for now. So, I'm not sure how this amounts to appeasement, at least as I understand the word (no doubt, I could be wrong). Unless, of course, Donald figures Vlad's pissed at him about something, like blowing Jan. 6 because his heart (wait, incorrect anatomical reference; read balls instead) wasn't in it, and consequently Vlad now has to deal with 4 years of an actual American president being in the oval office before he may possibly have another useful idiot ensconced there for use as he sees fit. Yeah, I could see that. Four years is a bit more than a minor inconvenience, I guess.

So, a bit of advice here, Donald. Take a more direct approach. Be honest. Your friend very much appreciates that particular quality in someone, as evidenced by his own frequent displays of it. Just say Sorry, I fucked up. I promise it won't happen again if you just give me another chance and throw a little help my way so I can get back up north in a couple of years. It's pretty hot down here, and the cost of air-conditioning's a bitch.

Worth a try. He may be more forgiving than you think.

The only thing I would find shocking is if this doesn't happen in some way, at some point.

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Just a thought that occurred to me as I read the post plus comments. What started as a Clinton/liberal "we are so powerful that we should save everybody from all those little wars." was doubled down by the Bush/Chenny "we are so powerful we can remove bad men and make the world right" has basically and predictably failed. Our problem is nothing has taken it's place. So we seem to be arguing between this failed policy and an equally failed policy of isolationism.

So where are the big picture thinkers in this administration, it maybe its biggest failing so far.

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The problem is that they are caught between a certain American political reality and a certain geopolitical reality. Namely, that right now America has no appetite for involvement in foreign conflict, even though, in the grand scheme of things, America's leadership of the international global democratic order is crucial.

This is what happens when you mismanage our role in the world like the Bush administration did. Prior to Gulf War II, America was the undisputed leader of the free world. Bush's cowboy foreign policy, mishandling of Afghanistan, and opportunistic overreach in Iraq eroded our credibility in that regard, and led to years of America shrinking from its role in the world - because it was what its people wanted. What we're seeing now is the kind of careful management and steady leadership that we've needed all along (Afghanistan notwithstanding). This is how we maintain our status within the free world, and the free world realizes it; the remarkably unity we're seeing from our allies is inspiring. It is likely the result of realizing how badly the world missed American leadership during the Trump era, and a desire to invest in making sure that doesn't happen again.

The problem is teaching our people at home this lesson. Most Americans think of WWII as the war in which we heroically defeated the evil Nazis and saved the Jews, rather than the war which established a global international order led by the United States. Americans care little about foreign policy if it doesn't directly affect them, but when it does people will tend toward isolationism if they don't see the big picture. That's why we're so stuck right now; our ability to rally the nation is limited by our partisanship, by the bad faith arguments made by people who profit from our disunion. The left has always rolled its eyes at the pretense of U.S. leadership, and now the right has completely surrendered to the narrow-minded provincialism that festered within its ranks for years. What we have here is a golden opportunity to re-assert ourselves and give Americans a reason to take pride in their country's role on the world stage - *if* we can cut through the propaganda and disinformation.

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That is because the elites are searching for some narrative that will get people to get behind what they want to do (foreign policy-wise).

Most Americans, for some reason, find actually serving American interests in foreign policy something of a non-starter. We are supposed to be this exceptional country that does things for ethical reasons to improve the world (despite the huge mass of evidence to the contrary).

The Cold War was awesome for these people because it excused a lot of really bad behavior that was supposedly done for good reasons. They tried to do the same sort of thing with the clash of civilizations and Islamic terrorism but, in the end, people didn't really buy it. You are trying to tell me that these guys hiding in caves are an existential threat? That's a hard sell even to the terminally stupid.

Been trying to do the same thing with the Chinese (for better reasons) and now, again, the Russians.

Ya, these people are our enemies--isn't THAT enough to actually oppose them?

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Ya got to love the term "elites" it is such a marvelous "strawman". The beauty of it is we each get to draw our favorite face on the strawman and whack away in unison with others,

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It is a lazy shorthand--here is what it means...

It refers to a couple of different groups of people:

1) Professional policy makers, especially in foreign policy;

2) Long term professional politicians, especially those from political families (the Bush family, for example or the Cheneys);

3) Holders of extreme amounts of capital (from the hundreds of millions upwards)

4) Certain media personalities--like Hannity.

These are basically the people who either make the decisions or have a very strong influence in the making of decisions--they represent a strata of society that possesses the wealth, power, or connections to materially and substantively shape policy. They went to the same schools. Belong to the same organizations. Live in the same types of places. They are the reason why things tend to be the way they are.

The group varies with who is in power (and who has their ear), but the holders of extreme capital are almost always numbered in the group.

As a rule they are very self-serving (which accounts for them being in the position they are in, ITFP) and they work to shape policy to their benefit and the benefit of their fellows--which is why most programs that are supposed to help people don't actually help people all that much (and why programs of that type always seem to be underfunded and have a lot of small rules and limitations).

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The disconnect between what the GoP says (because I am pretty sure most of them aren't stupid to believe it--most of them)--and between what the MAGAts believe (that Trump was this super awesome foreign policy guy that would have been tough on the Russians) and the reality of his term (and campaign before) is gob-smacking.

This is a guy who SOUGHT assistance from the Russians to get elected--he out and out ASKED for it IN PUBLIC.

He did everything but pull down Vlad's pants and give him a BJ on camera (who knows what he did in private).

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Thugs excite Trump. Violence turns him on. He stood next to Putin and supported Putin over US intelligence services. He has been a Putin fan boy for years supporting Putin over America's best interests. He practically salivates when saying Putin's name. And, you're probably even right about that last part.

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And don't forget the blackmail, the kompromat. Ah, that sweet kompromat Putin holds in spades.

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I think the "funniest" thing is the entirely predicable torching by Trump of anyone who tried to get out in front of him. All those pundits taking about how "tough" Trump would have been on Putin, then Trump goes out and fanboys all over him.

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Some of the Trumpy "intellectuals" are sympathetic to Putin, portraying him as a champion of the church and family and tradition against the corrosive effects of "the liberal order." The average MAGA-head thinks more in terms of "Trump was tough! He wouldn't have let an invasion happen!" There also seems to be a large group who hold both thoughts at once. Then there are those who will happily go through all the mental contortions required to be an Always Trumper.

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That's why they love Orban as much.

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