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What Would You Do If You Were Putin?

Reading Time: 1 minutes

You saw Obama stand by as you threatened Georgia in 2009.

You heard Obama whisper to Medvedev that he’ll be willing to defy Congress to capitulate to you after Obama’s re-election.

You watched Obama and his bumbling Secretary of State mangle its its own strategy in Syria—if the US ever had a Syrian strategy at all.

You saw that the US was completely unprepared for your annexation of Crimea.

You see the headlines of massive NSA spying on US citizens, though that same NSA was blind to your invasion of Ukraine.

And you know that Obama will be a lame duck, weakened, unpopular president until January 20, 2017.

Think is, you have no idea what kind of leader will follow Obama.

You remember that the American people replaced a similarly weak and bumbling Jimmy Carter with the determined, affable cowboy Ronald Reagan.

If you’re Vladimir Putin, wouldn’t you grab all the land you can before the next American election?

 

What Will Putin Do?

Book That Called Russia’s Expansionism.

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Putin

What Will Putin Do?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ask yourself this: why did the stock markets rally today after Obama announced sanctions against Russians? I’ll get back to that, but first some background.

I’ve often said that Putin plays chess while Obama fumbles with checkers. I picture our president, chin resting on fist, brows squeezed in childlike concentration, as he carefully chooses between jumping Putin’s piece to end the game or getting another of his pieces “kinged.”

Of course, Obama goes for the kingship.

But my chess-checkers analogy misses a key ingredient: empathy. America’s political class doesn’t understand a key Russian strategic trait.

Money, Money, Money

Money rules the West. Central bankers dominate every decision in the United States. The single goal of Fed policy is to push up stocks. It doesn’t care about profits, employment, interest, or inflation. It cares about the S&P 500.

Fed policy makers, and their enablers in Washington, also take an classical economics view of people. They missed out on the science of behavioral economics. They believe everyone, everywhere decides solely on the basis of economic self-interest.

Sure, Yellen-Bernanke has played The Ultimatum Game. It found the game amusing, like a parlor trick. Yellen-Bernanke sees no connection between the game and real-life, though. It believes people  always choose economic gain for themselves. The Yellen-Bernanke believes Putin and the Russians will always choose the option that gives Russia an economic gain.

Yellen-Bernanke is wrong.

Russians Think Longer Than Money

According to STATFOR founder George Friedman, Russians think in 20-year cycles, just like generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe. But I’ve observed a key difference between Americans and Russians. This observation leads me to believe that US sanctions won’t bother Putin.

Something struck me about the batch of Russian software engineers my company imported in the late 1990s. Unlike American engineers, the Russian engineers had deep interest in the humanities and art.

For example, I know several software engineers who graduated from Washington University. They took not a single class in English, History, or any other non-engineering subject. They were, like Yellen-Bernanke, pure numbers people. Engineering, to the Americans, seemed like a religion.

The Russians, on the other hand, seemed to treat engineering like a trade to support their real loves. One Russian engineer I knew was a published poet in Russia. Another had recorded an album of original music. A younger Russian coder was an accomplished painter. The Russians’ parties were full of vodka and music. And the tobacco smoke was filled with air.

Not all US engineers are blind to the humanities, of course. Many engineers I know buck the trend. But put 100 US engineers in a room with 100 Russian engineers, and the Russians will dominate the humanities and arts. At least, that’s been my experience.

I admit my example represents a small sample size. Still, I came away from that experience with a strong sense of difference between Russian and American engineers. Russian engineers empathize with human beings in a way American engineers tend to avoid. Let’s call it an empathy gap.

This empathy gap showed itself in software design. The Americans favored efficient algorithms and complex UIs that would give expert users maximum control. The Russians favored usability and user experience that gave the user maximum pleasure and convenience. More importantly, this empathy gap leads Russians to observe people for who they are, and it leads Americans to see people as mirror images of themselves. 

As Russia embarks on a mission to re-establish  its Warsaw Pact buffer and to extend  its sphere of influence, American strategists expect that Putin will think like an American bankster. I expect Putin will think like a Russian.

So What Will Russia Do?

First, let’s look at history. What’s Russia’s famous war strategy to repel invasions? Come on, you know the phrase.

Scorched Earth.

Russia sustains unimaginable damage when foreigners invade. Think of Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-Dope. Russia hunkers down and lets its enemy punch itself out.

Russia will employ that strategy again, only this time the invasion and counter might not be military. Russia could adopt a scorched economy strategy.

Last week, a record $104 billion of foreign-owned US Treasuries was moved out of Fed custodianship. Some people jumped to the conclusion that Russia was dumping US Treasuries. But Russia did not sell the debt. She simply took it under her control.

The Econs explained that Russia wouldn’t dump Treasuries because doing so would hurt Russia more than it hurts the West. Those Econs were thinking like an American, not like a Russian. Russians will sustain damage in the short run for a win in the long run. And their long run is 20 years, while the American long run is the next fiscal quarter. The next election, at most.

While the Fed could easily buy up $100 billion in dumped treasuries, the Fed would have trouble absorbing $100 billion from Russia and, say, $500 billion from China. And if Russians think in 20-year cycles, Chinese think in 200-year cycles.

So I expect Russia will use its growing coziness with China to dangle the threat of dumping Treasuries over the West’s head. And it will scare the US Chamber of Commerce and the Banksters enough to limit Obama’s potential moves.

After Crimea and Ukraine

While the US and allies apply incremental sanctions against Russia, Russian tanks continue to roll. The Putin Doctrine says that whenever Russian-speaking peoples ask for help, Russia has the right to intervene. In other words, Putin has granted himself the right to take any land inhabited by ethnic Russians. Maybe even people who’ve reached Level 3 in Rosetta Stone’s Russian courses, who knows?

We all know Putin couldn’t care less about ethnic Russians. Putin cares about re-establishing Russia’s Cold War buffer zones in Europe, the Caucasses, and Asia. Pockets of ethnic Russians in those areas give Putin cover for invasion.

STRATFOR’s George Friedman on Ukraine:

A second, more worrying effect of the competition between the West and Russia over Ukraine extends beyond Ukrainian borders. As competition over the fate of Ukraine has escalated, it has also intensified Western-Russian competition elsewhere in the region.

Georgia and Moldova, two former Soviet countries that have sought stronger ties with the West, have accelerated their attempts to further integrate with the European Union — and in Georgia’s case, with NATO. On the other hand, countries such as Belarus and Armenia have sought to strengthen their economic and security ties with Russia. Countries already strongly integrated with the West like the Baltics are glad to see Western powers stand up to Russia, but meanwhile they know that they could be the next in line in the struggle between Russia and the West. Russia could hit them economically, and Moscow could also offer what it calls protection to their sizable Russian minorities as it did in Crimea. Russia already has hinted at this in discussions to extend Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians and Russian speakers throughout the former Soviet Union.

As I wrote on Saturday, Putin believes he needs to bring Poland and Baltic States back into the Russian fold.

The question then becomes, will the West’s plodding, careful, incremental sanctions stop Putin? Or will Putin press his advantage to stay ahead of sanctions?

The Problem With a Weak President

Like it or not, the US is the only western nation with the power to frighten Russia. That power means little when wielded by a president who lacks both the political and the intellectual capital to compete with Putin.

Barack Obama may have been an ace student in his Affirmative Action class at Harvard. He doesn’t do so well in the real world, though. He failed miserably in two of three debates against Mitt Romney, only to be rescued by “moderator” Candy Crowley. Obama was outwitted by the Syrian dictator and by Iran’s regime. He looks weak and confused by the aftermath of the Arab Spring, which he personally helped engineer.

At home, Obama has little support from Democrats in Congress facing re-election. His signature legislation, Obamacare, is unpopular even with the its initial champions, young voters. In fact, the President himself is becoming increasingly unpopular among Millennials, especially the younger ones who were still watching Hannah Montana when their older siblings powered Obama’s election in 2008.

It’s Putin’s Game

So Putin’s adversary is a weakened, unpopular, lame duck President who plays geopolitics like a chicken playing checkers, as Tyler Durden put it. Obama talks tough and carries a little stick–a stick to which China, Russia, Japan, and the Millennials hold the mortgage.

Back to the question of why markets rallied on Obama’s sanctions. The banksters realized Obama’s sanctions are too weak to hurt their schemes. Obama won’t let Russian military expansionism interfere with their Fed-induced bull market.

Returning one last time to the question “What will Putin do?” I can only assume the answer: if you were Putin, and you knew Obama was hostage to the banksters who want only for the S&P to rise, what would you do?

The Don Draper Approach To Sequester

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A reporter once informed Cary Grant, the legendary leading man, that a Time Magazine poll found him the man most American men wanted to be. Was Grant surprised?

“No,” he said. “Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. I want to be Cary Grant.”

Don Draper is the new Cary Grant

Who doesn’t want to be like Don Draper? Great looking. Smart. Rich. Beautiful women. Good dad.

But there’s something else that makes Don Draper’s character fantastic. It makes him the quintessential American Man of post-war America.

It’s not his looks or his money.

It’s not his great suits and beautiful women.

It’s a quality that a lot of us need right now, and it’s lacking–big time.

What makes Draper admirable is his unflappable confidence in life.

“Everything’s going to be okay.”

He says it all the time when others around him fall to pieces.

“It’s going to be okay, Bets,” to Betsy.

“Everything’s going to okay,” he tells the kids when Kennedy was assassinated.

Even when Betsy told him she wanted a divorce, he called her and calmly told her, “I hope you get everything you ever wanted.”

And he meant it.

Don Draper wasn’t vindictive or hysterical. He wasn’t happy that his family fell apart, but he wasn’t going to let it ruin his life. Or theirs.

“Everything’s going to be ok.”

Yes, Don gets divorced. Yes, Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price loses Lucky Strike. Yes, many bad things happen to Don, and most of them he brings upon himself.

But his attitude gets him through. And he always comes out all the better.

“How can you possibly know that?”

Betsy, on the other hand, doesn’t expect things to be ok. She expects everything to fall apart. And, for her, it always does.

Bobby’s birthday party is a disaster. So is her second marriage. And she gets fat. And her kids don’t like her (for good reason). And Don marries a beautiful young woman who’s a better mother than Betsy.

If only Betsy had taken Don’s advice.

“Everything’s going to be okay.”

The President and the press are playing Betsy Francis. They’re telling us that everything’s about to go to hell in a handbasket because of the sequester Obama invented. And it’s all the Republicans’ fault. And the Tea Party’s.

Don’t listen to them. Listen to Don Draper.

Better yet, do as Don would do. Tell yourself and everyone around you, “Everything is going to be ok.”

It will. Nothing’s ever as bad as you think it will be when you think about it.

BONUS: Zen Conservatism: Reclaim your liberty without losing your soul will help. Buy it today.

Dear Conservatives: We Are Already Losing 2016

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you need to blame someone for our election losses, blame me.

blame-me

I Let You Down

I could have done more. I could have spoken up sooner. I could have been more honest with you about the mistakes we made and the opportunities we ignored. I could have worked harder on what I saw as the most important work we could do.

I let you down. I focused on petty issues of the day, too, instead of working on a different future.

It’s Time To Look Ahead

But it’s Sunday morning. Obama’s been re-elected. The debt is growing as fast as ever. People lose personal power every day.

It’s time to stop blaming bogeymen for the 2012 election and start building a coalition for victory in 2014 and 2016.

Young Voters Matter

Between 2008 and 2012, 9.8 million Americans died. The vast majority were over 65, voted in every major election, and voted Republican over 60 percent of the time.

They were replaced by 16.8 million young people who reached voting age. These new Millennials are much less likely to register and vote, but the ones who do cast votes for Republicans less than 40 percent of the time.

If we do nothing between now and the next presidential election, six million Republican voters will die and 7.2 million kids will become Democrats.  The next election will be over long before November 8, 2016.

We Have Hope

Several surveys late in 2012 found that younger Millennials—between 17 and 21 years old—are far more fiscally conservative than old Millennials. On social issues, especially same-sex marriage, they remain liberal.

As young workers struggle to find meaningful jobs, as their debt burden continues to swell, as the world becomes more dangerous, expect this trend to continue.

If we are serous about restoring the balance of power away from central authorities and toward the people, we have to stop fighting the last election and start helping young adults.

Here’s What You Can Do Now

I’ll write more about this over the next week, but here are four things you can do right now to help win future elections.

Stop:

  • Blaming the election on vote fraud
  • Talking about social issues unless they obviously tie to economic issues
  • Hanging around in conservative echo chambers
  • Talking about secession, nullification, and disrupting the Electoral College vote

Start:

  • Helping young people find jobs
  • Treating young adults like adults
  • Explaining the virtues of being free to choose
  • Subtly explaining the failure of planned economies

That may not seem like much, but it is. Especially the Stops. If we don’t stop turning off potential allies, we’ll continue to lose election after election.

Build On These 4 Pillars

That doesn’t mean we change what we believe. It means we advance the ideas that don’t turn people off. We have many such ideas like:

  • A strong economy
  • A smaller government
  • A safer world
  • A sustainable immigration policy

We can build Big Ideas from these four pillars. We can take on the other problems later.

Please check back here tomorrow to find out how our passions are making us sound ridiculous.

Is Petraeus Taking Obama With Him?

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Note:  This is a flight of fantasy. If anything in this post is later shown to conform reality, it’s pure coincidence.  Nor am I accusing Gen. Petraeus of any crime or of compromising of national security secrets. (Just enjoy it, will ya?)

A sex scandal rocks the king of spies.

An email chain unravels the Pentagon high command.

A cover-up exposed.

It’s like the back cover of a Nelson DeMille novel.

Generals don’t forget they’re soldiers just because they crawl behind a desk.

david-petraeus-paula-broadwell-plane

Soldiers look out for each other.

General David Petrraeus’s nature is to have the back of every American in uniform. And every American assigned to some shit-hole consulate representing the USA.

When people under a general’s command die, the general dies a little with them. Maybe that’s why a fender-bender killed Patton at the end of WWII. He’d already absorbed a lot of blows by proxy.

So imagine David Petraeus’s fury at the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi massacre. Good men left to die while the President raised money for his re-election.

Then the President’s people go on TV to blame to the CIA for the debacle.

“The f***ing gall!”

As pressure mounts from non-MSM journalists, and the White House continues to lie and stonewall, General Petraeus has had it. On October 26, Petraeus throws Obama under the bus by flatly contradicting Obama’s claim that the CIA gave the order to stand down in Benghazi.

Repercussions?  he thinks. Who cares. The Commander in Chief failed in his most basic duty, and the press is letting  him walk.

The media and Congressional Democrats didn’t give a damn about a few lives in Benghazi.  And there’s no way to get their attention on the matter. Even if Petraeus quit and shouted “cover-up” from the highest mountain, Brian Williams’s head is too far up Obama’s ass to hear a pound of C4 detonating 5 feet away.

paula-broadwell

And then comes the lady trouble.

Petraeus is smart enough to know that sex sells newspapers. And TV ads. Wrap a national security story inside a torrid affair with a ex-military hottie and a Tampa Troop Groupie and everybody suddenly knows everything about everything.

Jill Kelley: Troop Groupie

He knows that he and West Point graduate Paula Broadwell are going down at some point. Why not take the White House down with them?

So the general makes sure the mistress knows just enough about the Benghazi fiasco to rock the White House, but not enough to compromise sources, methods, or operations.

(There IS a new James Bond movie out, ya know.)

Tonight the FBI raided Broadwell’s house. They’re confiscating papers and computers—anything with a magnetic disk or SSD. They’re looking for classified information that Paula shouldn’t have.

Fox News reports that on October 26—the same day Patraeus contradicted the White House about Benghazi—Paula Broadwell may have included classified information about the attack in a speech in Colorado.

The White House, eager to destroy Petraeus, will leak all the nasty spy stuff they find on the little lady’s hard drives. Andrea Mitchell will breathlessly read the “secret” memos about that horrible night in September. Americans who through “Ben Ghazi” was a kid they sat begin in second grade, will learn all about the #7HoursOfHell.

(Did you know that Petraeus conducted his own investigation of Benghazi last month?)

Could It Be?

Could David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell have thrown themselves on a grenade to get the word out about Benghazi?

Regardless, Patraeus is ruined. But if this case ended as a complicated act of defiance over Benghazi, this affair could be his finest hour.

After all, they’re reporting on Benghazi now, aren’t they?

 

Media Conspire to Suppress Republican Turnout

Reading Time: 1 minutes

St. Louis’s KSDK.com is doing its fair share to suppress the Republican voter turnout. They’re pumping a handful of counted votes to give the impression that Obama is walking away with the national popular vote:

Here’s the scam. Only 42 votes have been counted in a country of 150 million registered voters. In other words, it’s crap. No responsible news organization would post such misleading nonsense–except in hopes of discouraging Romney voters.

Filth.

But that doesn’t stop the voter-suppression wizards at KSDK , the AP, and Politico from splattering a meaningless graph across their home pages.

(Note: Politico has since removed the misleading graphic.)

Let KSDK know you don’t appreciate voter suppression tactics.

h/t @michelle_moore

 

UPDATE: In response to @Michelle_Moore’s watchdog journalism, the vote suppressors have update their misleading graphic.