Saturday, February 22, 2020

Why Putin Wants Bernie

Bernie Sanders will be easy to defeat in the Fall.  But why does Putin want Trump?

We all know about Putin's interference in the 2016 election - and how nuanced it was.  I saw it firsthand on Reddit - which I used to peruse back then.  The subreddit r/the_donald was full of trolls who upvoted "memes" about Trump and caused general mayhem in other subreddits.  They started the whole, "If it isn't Bernie, I'll vote for Trump!" thing, making it sound like their positions on the issues are similar.

Today, no mention of Trump on the front page of Reddit - it's all about Bernie Bros - or as we call them, The Russian Internet Research Agency.   They are promoting Bernie on social media - often not directly, but in a nuanced way - leaving snarky comments, upvoting certain things, encouraging useful idiots, and so on and so forth.  Some people deny this is happening, as they don't see badly phrased postings in Russian English lauding Sanders - they are far more subtle than that.

Our own government security agencies have reported that Russia interfered in 2016 to favor Trump, and in 2020 to favor Sanders - which indirectly favors Trump.   But why would Putin want Trump?   After three years, he hasn't lifted sanctions against Russia, and indeed new sanctions have been levied against the Russian oil company Rosneft, which is to say, sanctions against Russia, which is to say, sanctions against Putin.  Putin is Russia, and everything in it.  He is the richest man in the world, by some accounts - others have mere billions, he owns a country.

So why would he favor Trump?    Well it isn't so much they like Trump, but they dislike the alternatives more.   Hillary Clinton and traditional centrist Democrats (and the traditional Republicans we used to have, but seem to have evaporated lately) were in favor of a policy of "engagement" in the world - projecting power through the use of diplomacy, foreign aid, and of course, the military.   Trump has promoted a more isolationist view - withdrawing troops from Syria and pretty much leaving the battlefield to Russia and Assad.   Trump also hasn't raised too much of a fuss about the annexing of the Crimea, or Russia's general mayhem in Ukraine.  In fact, Trump has used the Ukraine as something of a whipping boy - alleging all sorts of conspiracies hatched by his predecessors.   You've read about this, no doubt.

So Trump is the lesser of two evils.  And in a second term, when Trump has nothing to lose (and by then the economy will have fallen into recession) maybe Trump will lift sanctions and let Russia invade the Ukraine, which seems inevitable, unless someone stands up to Putin.   And Trump isn't that guy.

Putin's worst nightmare is Biden - the traditional centrist Democrat who would "engage" the world in his foreign policy and no doubt make things difficult for the Russians.  More sanctions, more interventions, and of course, more support for the Ukraine.  Putin would rather see America weak and divided, and Trump is doing a great job of pitting Americans against each other - and getting Americans to turn inward and think in isolationist terms.   "America First" is a policy of retreat.

So why support Sanders?   Well, I think they have done the math on this and realize Americans won't vote for a Socialist or Communist.  It is not that Russians like Communism - they tried that, and it left a bad taste in their mouth.   They know full well it doesn't work, which is why they have retreated to a tsarist State, with a new tsar-for-life, Vladimir Putin.   So it isn't a matter of Commie-loving-Commie, but the knowlege that Sanders will lose.

Sanders claims to be winning, and the press is making a big deal as we speak about how the Nevada caucuses will "cement his front-runner status!" - although technically, that crown would go to Pete Buttigieg, who is one delegate ahead of Sanders in the race.  I am so glad the media is neutral on these things and doesn't cheerlead for one candidate over another.   The reality is, of course, in that poll after poll, Americans don't put Sanders as their number one choice for the Democratic ticket, and in a face-off with Trump, he is arguably the weakest candidate.   While he may have "won" in New Hampshire and come in a close second in Iowa, three-quarters of the voters in both States selected "Not Sanders" and more specifically, two-thirds selected "Centrist Democrat" - not socialism.

The New York Times let one slip by the Political Correctness Police and published an article bringing up some inconvenient truths about Sanders.  These are the sort of things that are fodder for attack ads in the Fall when the general election gets going - Trump will have a field day.   People forget he honeymooned in the Soviet Union and proclaimed admiration for their Communist State - one that slaughtered more people than Hitler.   He also has lauded the government of Venezuela and said that America should adopt similar policies.  His wife bankrupted a university - and was the subject of an FBI investigation.   Then there is the little issue of wanting the nomination of a party he steadfastly refuses to join.   Will he still be an "Independent" when elected President?   Just asking.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  No doubt others will dig up more dirt on him, for example, how his personal financial life is a trainwreck of debt, and how he has never held any job other than government employee (talk about an insider - that's all he's done in life!).  And that's the real issue, too.  Bernie Sanders has been a failure at everything he has tried to do in life.  Think about it.  He was a crappy carpenter by all accounts, which is why he got into politics.  Left-leaning Vermont elected him, knowing that he was likely to vote with the Democratic caucus, and thus they could be idiosyncratic and practical at the same time.

But in his long career in the Senate, Bernie Sanders can't really point to any real accomplishment, other than as a seat-warmer and semi-reliable vote for the Democratic caucus.
While a member of Congress, Sanders sponsored 15 concurrent resolutions and 15 Senate resolutions, two of which passed, one on veterans' policy and the other designating 1 Marble Street in Fair Haven, Vermont, the "Matthew Lyon Post Office Building". 
That's not much of a track record.  The only thing he can point to in his years in the Senate was his being a "vocal critic" which is to say, he did really nothing but make a lot of noise - which is about what he would do as President - as even Democrats would not go along with his socialist agenda.

Like I said, he voted with Democrats most of the time, but the one time he didn't - well, five times actually, was with regard to background checks for gun purchases:
In 1993, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, which mandated federal background checks when buying guns and imposed a waiting period on firearm purchasers in the United States; the bill passed by a vote of 238–187.  He voted against the bill four more times in the 1990s, explaining his Vermont constituents (high on hunting, low on homicide) saw waiting-period mandates as more appropriately a state than federal matter.
Wait, what?  I mean, WHAT THE EVER-LOVING FUCK???   The one hot-button issue among Democrats these days - these days of mass-shootings every week to the point we don't even care anymore - is maybe enacting some teeny tiny way to perhaps keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons and insane people by performing an instant background check - a law, by the way, that the firearms industry has learned to live with for the last couple of decades.

And yet, the far-left lauds him as some sort of uber-liberal, instead of the unreliable vote that he is.

All of this is fodder for attack ads in the fall.  And it will be more than enough to re-elect Trump, in fact, I suspect by a landslide.   Trump barely squeaked by the electoral college last time around - and lost the popular vote.  He would sure like to have a Nixon-like landslide re-election this time around.

Last time around, Hillary won 45% of the vote here in Georgia.  That's in spitting distance of winning, and I suspect if she had been any other centrist Democrat the Democrats might have won.  But she was a divisive character, and many folks just blindly hated her.  Even the people who voted for her (myself included) were not exactly enthusiastic about the whole deal.  It was "Well, it's her or Trump - and Trump is insane!"

This time around, I doubt Georgia will be in play - or Florida, the Carolinas, or even Virginia, which had become a "Blue State"in the last two elections.   Blue, but not Communist-Red.   Trump will handily take Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and perhaps even Minnesota.   People just aren't ready for a Socialist President no less one that is so utterly incompetent and has such wild ideas.

Make no mistake about it - what Sanders is proposing are sweeping changes to the very nature of our country.   Medicare-for-all might or might not be a good idea, the problem is, the health insurance companies have deep pockets and are not about to go quietly into the night.   What's more, it seems he wants to throw out Obamacare just at the point where it seems to be working.  Rates are going down, as are costs, for the first time.   Maybe we could tweak what we already have, instead of once again, throwing out everything and starting over from scratch.

As a result, I doubt most - if any - of his platform will ever pass Congress.  Student loan forgiveness, free college, medicare-for-all, and whatever other giveaways he wants to hand out will probably fall flat in the House and Senate.  And in the mid-term elections, I suspect he would lose both houses to the Republicans - as is typical of most Presidencies, but especially so with him, as people will become alarmed.

But the point is moot - Sanders isn't likely to win.   Putin wants Sanders the nominee so that Trump can tear him down (Trump and the army of Trump Trolls, half of which are Russians).   Once the conventions are over, the front page of Reddit will be all Trump postings upvoted and brigaded to try to influence public opinion, even very slightly.  And slightly is all it takes, as we saw in the 2016 election, to move one or two States from column A to column B.  Some internet rumors and fake news, and half the people out there will change their mind.

Doubt me?  Then explain why Bloomberg is polling as well as he is, based entirely on Internet ads.

UPDATE:  It's all over folks!  According to the Times and the Post, Sanders has "cemented" his lead and his position as "front runner" - so you might as well not bother voting!  I am sure glad the two left-leaning newspapers in the USA are fair and impartial when it comes to these elections.

You need 1991 delegates to get the nomination.  Sanders has 34.  "Not Sanders" has 42.   But hey, that's close enough, right?   Democracy is over-rated.  Let's have the newspapers call this one for us!

As this chart illustrates clearly, the election is all but over!