Some Questions for Trump Supporters

Trump's suggestion to include Russia again in a new G-8 makes me wonder about a couple of things.

To echo part of what Doug Mataconis noted about Trump’s trade politics earlier today, the President is far more interested in making his supporters happy (good ratings are important, dontcha know) than he is about following any kind of coherent policy formulation.

So, I have a few questions for supporters in regards to Trump’s statement today about Russia and the G-7. Trump said:

“Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend — and it’s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting, it should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run and the G-7 — which used to be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

My questions are:

  1. Based on this logic, would it not actually make more sense for China, which has a larger economy than Russia, to be included in the group?  If we are to take his statement at face value, that “we have a world to run” and Russia is an important economic actor, then it would make sense for China to be part of the group.
  2. Russia was kicked out for bad behavior (the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine).  How is Trump showing his great negotiating skills (he makes the best deals, or so I am told) if he is willing to give up a major concession to Russia for nothing?

I am not asking why Trump is doing these things.  I am asking how supporters would answer these questions:  why include Russia, and not China, in a G-8 (or G-9)?  And, why give Russia a concession without getting one in return?

I am not being snarky–one of the things I think is important in this present moment is get those who support Trump to come to grips with why they support him.  This seems like a fairly straight-forward set of questions on that count.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Donald Trump, Europe, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    As background information, Russia is the 11th, 12th, or 13th largest economy, depending on who’s counting. So it’s not just China. India, Brazil, and possibly South Korea and Australia have a claim. So yes, why Russia?

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  2. CSK says:

    You’ll never get a rational, reasoned, logical answer from Trump supporters because their fanatical attachment to him is based on emotion: a desire to spit in the faces of the “elites” who’ve been oppressing them, they say, for so long. And…he’s one of them (ha) they feel. The “blue collar billionaire,” they call him. He’s their champion. As for Trump’s attachment to Russia and Putin? Hey, Putin’ a good guy! He’s a Christian (allegedly) strongman who hates homosexuals. What could be better?

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  3. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    India didn’t bail Trump out when he was broke, China doesn’t have a pee tape, and Brazil didn’t get him elected. What Trump does he does for himself, for money or applause. He has no other motivations, so this is clearly transactional with him. He is, as I’ve believed from the start, owned by Putin. Occam allows no other answer at this point.

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  4. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We have the word of his two moronic older sons that most of the Trump money, for years, has been coming from Russia.

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  5. Warren Weber says:

    You’ve been so welcoming and tolerant and warm towards Trump supporters, I just imagine they’ll be lining up to offer their opinions and arguments and reasons, knowing they’ll be treated with respect and appreciation, that the regulars will politely refrain from gratuitous personal insults and disparagement, limit themselves to strictly the issues at hand, and there will be a very productive, insightful, and civil discourse on the topic.

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  6. CSK says:

    @Warren Weber:

    I don’t think I’ve ever gratuitously insulted anyone here. But I have asked Trump supporters a number of times what it is about him they so admire, and never really gotten an answer. MAGA doesn’t cut it.

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  7. @Warren Weber: I just scrolled though my recent posts, most of which are critical of the administration, but I do not see one that attacked supporters, per se. Would you like to show where the attacks might be? I will confess that I am sure some snark can be found in some of my interactions with certain commenters in various threads.

    Still, even if we stipulate that you feel as if supporters have been attacked (and some commenters certainly have), that does not change the fact that I have asked some reasonable questions. So, what are your answers?

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  8. @Warren Weber: In other words: ignore the commenters whom you find problematic (this is usually what I do, although I sometimes fail at that feat) and elucidate your position.

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  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    How is Trump showing his great negotiating skills

    It looks like he went to the summit to ask for a G8 and is coming home with a G6.

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  10. Warren Weber says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Against my better judgment, I will answer your questions in as serious and respectful fashion as possible. I am willing to wager that you will not take them as serious answers, as they will be more generally oriented and not addressing specifics, but that’s just how I roll.

    A great deal of Trump-haters are invested in 1) not understanding Trump, and 2) refusing to understand Trump. They demand that he fit into their preconceived notions of what a politician should be, ignoring that Trump has spent his entire life outside of politics. He has been extremely successful in his ventures, and he sees no reason to change his ways.

    I start off with a couple of assumptions about Trump’s innate character. Everyone is a liar, especially in politics; it all boils down to a matter of style. Trump is a bullshitter. His native language isn’t English, it’s hyperbole.

    Also, Trump is, at his core, a negotiator. He is a bargainer. He is a deal-maker. He’ll say or do whatever it takes to get to the final deal, and that final deal is the only thing that matters. He’ll always have his eyes on that final prize, and if the other party doesn’t do the same, they’ll get skinned alive.

    Trump’s main negotiating tactic is “carrot and stick.” His second favorite tactic is “good cop/bad cop,” but he enjoys playing both roles, often in the same negotiations.

    Russia wants back in the G7. Trump is currently playing the good cop, waving the carrot. Will Putin get the carrot? Maybe, maybe not — but he’ll have to pay dearly for it if he does.

    It doesn’t help that Trump’s domestic enemies are trying like hell to box him in, limit his negotiating room and trying to cast anything that might be seen as less than absolute hostility as proof of their “Trump is Putin’s cock-holster” conspiracy theory. It’s falling apart on them, but they’re still riding it. Plus, Trump just fricking thrives on crap like that. Hell, he’ll probably use that to his advantage, playing up the Never Trumpers as the “bad cops” who will fight any concessions he might want to offer.

    The topics you are so concerned about aren’t proposals. They’re Trump setting the context. They’re how Trump is getting Putin to the table, so we can have Churchill’s ideal of “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”

    I never liked Trump, and still don’t. He grates on me, and I tend to change the channel or hit mute when he comes on the TV. But he made a pitch to me back during the campaign that worked. What I heard was him saying “look at all the things I’ve done. Look at how many times I’ve been successful. Look at how I’ve treated those who have crossed me. Vote for me, and I’ll put all that in your service. Instead of benefiting me and my family, I’ll make the whole country my family and work for your benefit.”

    I looked at that, looked at Hillary, and said “what the hell.” And I have been nothing but pleasantly surprised since. I had extremely low expectations anyway.

    So there’s your answer, and a lot more.

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  11. Blue Galangal says:

    @CSK: In fact, they often regurgitate right wing talking points – once those are posted in the appropriate venue for reproduction – and then disappear again. It would be interesting to have them stick around and have an actual conversation that didn’t consist of cut-and-paste from lucianne.com or Breitbart along with the obligatory “what about…”. But, generally speaking, their positions are devoid of reality and lack any basis in fact, so there is no intersection point for actual dialogue.

    (Actual conversation with my mother, who was an agnostic Unitarian until TBG was elected:
    “Obama’s the Antichrist.”
    “Mom… you don’t even believe there was a Christ. How can you believe in an antichrist?”
    “Yes, I do, and he is, and he’s here to destroy us all.”
    “Mom. Obama’s not the Antichrist. There is no such thing.”
    “Yes, he is. He was born in the mideast and he’s coming -”
    “-Mom, he was born in Hawaii. That’s the opposite of ‘east.'”
    “He was born in Kenya!”
    “…still not the mideast.”
    “…Well, he’s the antichrist. I just feel he is. You’ll see.”)

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  12. CSK says:

    @Warren Weber:

    Well, no, Trump hasn’t been successful in his business ventures–unless multiple bankruptcies are your benchmark of success.
    I won’t get into what disasters his branding operations–Trump vodka, Trump steaks, Trump the game, Trump magazine, etc.–have been.
    And he managed to run the Eastern Airlines Shuttle, which he renamed Trump Airlines, into the ground in four years.

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  13. @Warren Weber: I do appreciate your willingness to try and engage.

    I will say, I am not sure you actually answered either question, however. Even if playing the good cop in the hopes of more talks with Russia is the motivation, I am left asking: to what end? Beyond that, it leave open two questions: 1) why would Trump need to play good cop to talk to Russia, since he could talk to them now without such behavior, and 2) what does he hope to gain? The question of why give up a huge concession is not answered by your perspective. Indeed, I especially do not understand the basis of this claim: “Will Putin get the carrot? Maybe, maybe not — but he’ll have to pay dearly for it if he does.”

    You did not answer the China question, BTW.

    Also, do you sincerely believe this?

    “look at all the things I’ve done. Look at how many times I’ve been successful. Look at how I’ve treated those who have crossed me. Vote for me, and I’ll put all that in your service. Instead of benefiting me and my family, I’ll make the whole country my family and work for your benefit.”

    To this point it would seem rather obvious that his family has benefited (from Ivanka getting trademarks to foreign visitors staying at Trump properties). Indeed, the President and his family have done very little to separate their business practices from their political lives.

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  14. @Warren Weber:

    Also, Trump is, at his core, a negotiator. He is a bargainer. He is a deal-maker. He’ll say or do whatever it takes to get to the final deal, and that final deal is the only thing that matters. He’ll always have his eyes on that final prize, and if the other party doesn’t do the same, they’ll get skinned alive.

    This is certainly what Trumps claims to be the case. Where, however, is the evidence to back the claim–especially in his 500+ days as president?

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  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Indeed. Trump would be wealthier today (indeed, he would be wealthy period instead of constantly baking up the same tired illusion underpinned by credit) if he’d simply taken his inheritance, dropped it into an index fund, and never touched it again. He’s an abysmal businessman by any decent reckoning.

    Trump is a poor man’s idea of what a rich man looks like. They buy the caricature because they have no frame of reference from which to recognize the real thing.

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  16. Blue Galangal says:

    @Warren Weber:

    He has been extremely successful in his ventures, and he sees no reason to change his ways.

    First denial of fact. Trump has declared bankruptcy at least 5 times, including bankrupting a casino. Nothing he has touched has been successful except grifting. Trump University was a scam, Trump Steaks… I don’t even. He bought a commuter airline and ran it into the ground in less than a year. What has he been successful at?

    I start off with a couple of assumptions about Trump’s innate character. Everyone is a liar, especially in politics; it all boils down to a matter of style. Trump is a bullshitter. His native language isn’t English, it’s hyperbole.

    Trump is a liar to the point that he denies actual reality. He states things that are factually not true, and he states them repeatedly. He has uttered 3,000 lies since taking office. This is not hyperbole, this is not bullshit. These are straight up reality-denying fact-denying lies. You cannot negotiate with someone who lies about what he said five minutes ago, and will lie in five minutes more. You cannot negotiate with someone who does not understand basic facts (e.g., tariffs increase the cost of steel within the supply chain).

    Also, Trump is, at his core, a negotiator. He is a bargainer. He is a deal-maker. He’ll say or do whatever it takes to get to the final deal, and that final deal is the only thing that matters. He’ll always have his eyes on that final prize, and if the other party doesn’t do the same, they’ll get skinned alive.

    Name one successful deal that was the result of his deal-making skills.

    Trump’s main negotiating tactic is “carrot and stick.” His second favorite tactic is “good cop/bad cop,” but he enjoys playing both roles, often in the same negotiations.

    I’m reminded of Adrian Pimento.

    Russia wants back in the G7. Trump is currently playing the good cop, waving the carrot. Will Putin get the carrot? Maybe, maybe not — but he’ll have to pay dearly for it if he does.

    What will Putin pay to get back into the G7 he doesn’t want to be in? Will that be in gold? Or will that be in more contributions to the NRA?

    It doesn’t help that Trump’s domestic enemies

    That’s an interesting term: emotionally laden and hostile to boot. Who are his enemies? The people who are trying to help Puerto Ricans restore their power? The parents of dead kids who would like to see bump stocks banned? The people who held a Supreme Court position open for 10 months in contravention of the Constitution so that their hand picked Russia-backed candidate could install a conservative justice? Oh wait… sorry… wrong enemies.

    are trying like hell to box him in, limit his negotiating room and trying to cast anything that might be seen as less than absolute hostility as proof of their “Trump is Putin’s cock-holster” conspiracy theory.
    It’s falling apart on them, but they’re still riding it.

    Error in fact. 18 indictments and counting, including the latest to drop today.

    The topics you are so concerned about aren’t proposals. They’re Trump setting the context. They’re how Trump is getting Putin to the table, so we can have Churchill’s ideal of “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”

    We do know that Trump has met with Putin in private conversations to which even his advisors were not privy; and it is reported Trump speaks to Putin frequently (by Putin). What other conversations do you envision, and what is the carrot and the stick that Putin will respond to? Do you think he’ll give up Crimea to get back into the G7?

    I never liked Trump, and still don’t. He grates on me, and I tend to change the channel or hit mute when he comes on the TV. But he made a pitch to me back during the campaign that worked. What I heard was him saying “look at all the things I’ve done. Look at how many times I’ve been successful.

    How many, exactly?

    Look at how I’ve treated those who have crossed me. Vote for me, and I’ll put all that in your service. Instead of benefiting me and my family

    How many trademarks has China approved for Ivanka now?

    I’ll make the whole country my family and work for your benefit.”

    How much money have the Trump hotels made since Trump got elected? How many times has the emoluments clause been violated?

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    A defense of the Orange Blob that includes lies…

    He has been extremely successful in his ventures…

    …wishful thinking…

    Russia wants back in the G7. Trump is currently playing the good cop, waving the carrot. Will Putin get the carrot? Maybe, maybe not — but he’ll have to pay dearly for it if he does.

    …the victim stance…

    It doesn’t help that Trump’s domestic enemies are trying like hell to box him in, limit his negotiating room and trying to cast anything that might be seen as less than absolute hostility as proof of their “Trump is Putin’s cock-holster” conspiracy theory.

    …and delusions…

    It’s falling apart on them, but they’re still riding it.

    …isn’t much of a defense at all…

    of course, the best line was…

    Instead of benefiting me and my family, I’ll make the whole country my family and work for your benefit.

    BWHWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the laugh…

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  18. mike shupp says:

    Russians have white skins. Chinese do not.

    Any more questions?

    ( I admit, I’m not a Trump supporter)

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  19. @Blue Galangal:

    What has he been successful at?

    To be fair, he was quite successful at self-promotion and being a certain kind of celebrity. And, he did manage to win the GOP nomination and the presidency. I think those things can’t be ignored. Still, I concur that the evidence that he is especially good at business is lacking (and how people look at the bankruptcies and obvious scams and see massive success is a major question).

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  20. mike shupp says:

    Russians have white skins. Chinese do not.

    Any more questions?

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  21. @Steven L. Taylor: Really: where is the better TPP? The better NAFTA? The better JCPOA? The better NATO?

    Or, domestically, the better DACA? The better ACA?

    It really does strike me: what is one “deal” of consequence that he has made?

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  22. Jax says:

    @Warren Weber: See, that’s the thing, though. You think he’s been so successful at all his businesses…..but declared bankruptcy how many times? That is not “successful”. He ran a casino into the ground, and paid a fine for money-laundering. 2 failed marriages, multiple counts of adultery, the way he talks about his daughter is right there in the “red flag” area of child molestation, literally DOZENS of accusations of sexual misconduct (but geez, that blow job Bill Clinton got was a game changer, right?!)

    How many of his negotiations have worked so far, as President? He did not succeed in repealing OR replacing the ACA. In fact, he’s on tape saying “Who knew this was so hard?!” Ummmmm…..derp. The tax cut was an obvious giveaway to his donors. I can’t think of anywhere else he “won” anything, because everything else has been done by Executive Order…..easily reversed by the next, SANE President. His “negotiation tactics” have resulted in failure, domestically and abroad. North Korea is not going to give up their nukes, but they’ll happily spend US taxpayer dollars pretending they’re thinking about it. Iran is ecstactic we pulled out of the nuclear agreement. Russia is happy watching the United States implode.

    But MAGA, dude.

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  23. teve tory says:

    He’ll always have his eyes on that final prize, and if the other party doesn’t do the same, they’ll get skinned alive.

    The people around Trump getting skinned alive aren’t his competitors–they’re the thousands of subcontractors he’s defrauded.

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  24. Warren Weber says:

    The China question is exceptionally complicated. China’s busy gobbling up the South China Sea, plus there’s the whole North Korea mess. (Thanks, Bill, Dubya, and Barack!) Your posing of China strikes me as needlessly complicating matters.

    “Nations don’t have permanent friends or permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” I don’t see any great obligation for us to push for the “fairest” or “most appropriate” G-whatever group. We have our own national interests to protect, and it’s up to other countries to look after their own interests. The notion of our promoting China’s interests or protecting their privileges in some misguided allegiance to some abstract principle strikes me as pointless. It could also be considered a bit condescending, a bit of “white man’s burden” to protect China because China can’t be expected to protect its own interests.

    As to why Trump wants to bring Putin to the table, I repeat Churchill: “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.” Russia wants things, we want things. We can go to war over them, or we can talk about them. I favor the latter (while keeping the former as an alternative, of course.)

    Years ago, I read that one of the ways to win a war is to figure out just what the other side wants, then figure out how to deny them what they want. Getting Putin to the table will give us valuable clues just what he wants, what his priorities are, and what he’s willing to trade away to get what he wants.

    And information is power.

    The alternative, it seems, is to just go ahead and declare war on Russia. No more talks, no more negotiations, no concessions, just throw everything we have at Putin.

    When you strip it down, that’s the end game of the most die-hard of the NeverTrumpers. Since anything less than that would be seen as absolute proof that Trump is really Putin’s puppet, that’s the corner they’re trying to paint Trump into. I don’t think they’ve realized that, as they haven’t shown a great deal of reasoning ability so far, but that’s where their game ends.

    So let me back up a bit and try to see if I covered all the bases.

    Why is Trump talking about readmitting Russia to the Gs? To get Putin back to the table, find out just what Putin really wants, find out what he’s willing to give up for it, and lay the groundwork for future negotiations.

    Wouldn’t it be fairer to also bring China into the Gs? Screw fair. China’s an incredibly complicated case, with a ton of extremely complicated aggressions going on in a whole bunch of complicated places. If China wants it, let them make the case themselves. In the meantime, we can argue with them over our trade issues, their taking over the South China Sea, their sponsorship of North Korea, and a bunch of other issues.

    There, that’s plenty for now.

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  25. PJ says:

    @Jax:
    Just one objection.

    Iran isn’t ecstatic, but the Iranian hardliners are.

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  26. teve tory says:

    Trump is a liar to the point that he denies actual reality.

    He tells dumb, obvious lies. One of his three lies this morning was that the US runs huge trade deficits with most countries. In reality we run surpluses with most countries. But trump’s repeated this obvious lie like 20 times.

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  27. Warren Weber says:

    @Jax: Don’t be so simplistic. It’s unbecoming.

    No, Trump hasn’t been universally successful. But in the big picture, he’s won a hell of a lot more than he’s lost.

    Don’t make me point out all the losses by Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, etc., etc.

    Actually, strike that. You can’t make me do that, because it’s too self-evident and a waste of time.

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  28. @Warren Weber:

    The China question is exceptionally complicated. China’s busy gobbling up the South China Sea, plus there’s the whole North Korea mess.

    That elides the fact that if the criterion is (as Trump himself noted) some issue of economic imperative in managing the global economy.

    Also: Russia gobbled up part of a neighbor–but that doesn’t matter in your calculation?

    As to why Trump wants to bring Putin to the table, I repeat Churchill: “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.” Russia wants things, we want things. We can go to war over them, or we can talk about them. I favor the latter (while keeping the former as an alternative, of course.)

    Yes, talking is better than war. But 1) there isn’t really a looming threat of war with Russia, and 2) that doesn’t explain, in the least, why he should want them in G-7 without any strings.

    The alternative, it seems, is to just go ahead and declare war on Russia. No more talks, no more negotiations, no concessions, just throw everything we have at Putin.

    Who says this? Certainly not me. I (nor did anyone else of any consequence of which I am aware) suggest that the options are talking v. war. I am on record as being in favor of talking.

    However: that is not an answer to the question “How is Trump showing his great negotiating skills (he makes the best deals, or so I am told) if he is willing to give up a major concession to Russia for nothing?”

    This is especially key when we look at how he has treated Canada, Germany, Mexico, etc.

    Why is Trump talking about readmitting Russia to the Gs? To get Putin back to the table, find out just what Putin really wants, find out what he’s willing to give up for it, and lay the groundwork for future negotiations.

    The problem with this answer to the question is that there is no evidence to suggest this is the only way to get Putin to the table. Indeed, I was unaware that there is any reason to assume we can’t talk to Russia now.

    Wouldn’t it be fairer to also bring China into the Gs? Screw fair.

    I said nothing about fairness. I was asking about the relative size of economies in terms of “running the world.”

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  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Warren Weber:
    Some might say that’s all gibberish and slogans. Some might, but not me because we’re playing nice.

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  30. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds: Anyone who thinks trump is a successful businessman has already removed themselves from serious discussion.

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  31. teve tory says:

    And the idea that we have to give russia free concessions or it’ll be war? That’s stupendously wrong. Russia wouldn’t dare fight us, their military is a wreck. We have, what, 19 Aircraft Carriers? How many does russia have?

    Russia currently has only one aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built Admiral Kuznetsov, which after decades in service just completed its first combat deployment to Syria, where it struggled to remain operational and lost at least two planes.

    -Business Insider Apr 20, 2017

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  32. Warren Weber says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: (sigh)

    The whole notion of “criteria” is pretty much irrelevant. It’s a rationalization for an exercise of raw economic power. Seats at the table are for those who own the table, those who the owners want at the table, and those who the owners are willing to allow at the table. There are no written rules for admission that actually mean a damned thing. And even if there were, the instant those rules conflicted with one of the owner’s self-interest, all kinds of rationalizations would suddenly appear to show why those rules were invalid.

    Who says this? Certainly not me. I (nor did anyone else of any consequence of which I am aware) suggest that the options are talking v. war. I am on record as being in favor of talking.

    Nor did I say you did. In fact, I believe I explicitly said that the anti-Trumpers were NOT saying it — but it was the logical conclusion of their arguments. If any concession or understanding or agreement with Putin will be instantly labeled as treason, then what alternative is there but war?

    However: that is not an answer to the question “How is Trump showing his great negotiating skills (he makes the best deals, or so I am told) if he is willing to give up a major concession to Russia for nothing?”

    That’s because that’s a fundamentally flawed question. The whole clause “if he is willing to give up a major concession to Russia for nothing” is based on literally nothing. It’s taking Trump saying that said major concession is possible.

    Would you rather him say it’s impossible? That it’s never gonna happen? Then Putin doesn’t send anyone to the conference, we don’t get to find out just how badly Putin wants it, we don’t get hints as to what he’s willing to give up for it, but by damn we showed him just who’s the tough guy, didn’t we?

    I’m looking at Trump’s statement and asking what the hell is the downside of it. He offered nothing, he promised nothing, he gave up nothing. He said something might be possible, but gave no hints as to what might make that possible. Then I read your comment and it sounds like he made Chamberlin at Munich sound like Leonidas at Thermopylae.

    Trump’s statement boils down to “is this what you want? Come on over. We’ll talk, we’ll see what happens.”

    Perhaps you’d like to offer your own version of what you think Trump should have said. It might be refreshing to engage in a dialogue, an exchange of ideas; this is starting to feel uncomfortably like a cross-examination (and one by several questioners, some downright rude). And while it’s flattering to be the center of attention, I am reminded of this quote from Abraham Lincoln:

    “You have heard the story, haven’t you, about the man who was tarred and feathered and carried out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it. His reply was that if it was not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk.”

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  33. Warren Weber says:

    @teve tory: If you think that Russia would actually engage the US militarily in a force-on-force operation, competing with us in the areas where we have clear supremacy, and not take advantage of their own strengths, then you have — if I may borrow a phrase — “already removed (yourself) from serious discussion.”

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    The alternative, it seems, is to just go ahead and declare war on Russia. No more talks, no more negotiations, no concessions, just throw everything we have at Putin.

    When you strip it down, that’s the end game of the most die-hard of the NeverTrumpers.

    Wow, there’s some heavy bullshit there…so those who oppose the Orange Blob hate him so much that they are willing to risk nuclear war? How…fascinating…

    His reply was that if it was not for the honor of the thing…

    There is nothing honorable about defending the disastrous joke in the White House…

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  35. teve tory says:

    The alternative, it seems, is to just go ahead and declare war on Russia.

    Funniest comment of the thread. 😛 I wonder if this guy actually believes this stuff.

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  36. teve tory says:

    If President Trump had made a deal with Vladimir Putin to advance Russia’s strategic interests, there’s nothing he’d be doing he isn’t actually doing now.

    -Josh Marshall

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  37. gVOR08 says:

    I just checked foxnews.com. I can find only one G-7 story, well down the page. It mentions that Trump proposed Russian membership, but just kind of in passing. No eleboration, no explanation, and no reaction from the rest of the G-7. They don’t seem to have had time to come up with a party line.

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  38. Mister Bluster says:

    Come on Warren. everyone knows that the only reason for any red blooded American male to support Trump is admiration for his relationship skills with women.
    You know, like how he screwed pornstars to commit adultery and how he grabs women by the pussy!

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  39. teve tory says:

    I just checked foxnews.com. I can find only one G-7 story, well down the page. It mentions that Trump proposed Russian membership, but just kind of in passing. No eleboration, no explanation, and no reaction from the rest of the G-7. They don’t seem to have had time to come up with a party line.

    All the OtB regulars have seen it happen where a news story breaks, say, Trump tweets that he’s a better president than George Washington, or than aliens from Q’laxxar B called him and told him he just won the Intergalactic Greatest President Award, and there’s sometimes a delay of 8, 10, 12 hours or more before the Trumpers show up with the talking points. It’s not long, but there is a lag time in the Fox/Lucianne/Treehouse/Breitbart universe where they figure out the talking points and get on the same page and then start pushing it.

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  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Warren Weber:

    No, Trump hasn’t been universally successful. But in the big picture, he’s won a hell of a lot more than he’s lost.

    No, actually, he hasn’t. I’ve done business with this man. I actually know what his finances look like. Not the bullshit Barnum rube’s parade he tries to sell – the truth. The things hidden in those tax returns he desperately doesn’t want you or the rest of the simple folk to see.

    To put it bluntly, on a net basis the guy is essentially broke. His company owns tiny pieces of the buildings which have his name plastered all over them, including that gaudy mess of a Trump Tower, and that’s the buildings he actually still retains equity in. There aren’t many of them.

    Some things you need to understand – nobody on Wall Street will touch the guy. He used to be able to tap into the desperate stupidity that is Deutsche’s Private Banking arm, but that flurry of subpoenas from Mueller’s office flying in to 60 Wall Street shut that pot of fool’s gold off in a hurry. At this point, he can’t get financing to build a lemonade stand without dipping into the Eastern European well, and that funding comes with a price best described as the Gambino Gambit. Once you’re in bed with those people, you never get out again.

    So – short version: on net, no real income to speak of. The guy probably clears more in presidential salary than he clears from the shell of what’s left of an equity position in actual real estate holdings. Lousy licensing deals on properties he doesn’t own, coupled with a string of abject failures in attempts to expand the licensing scheme beyond real estate. A revolving door of Ukrainians and Russians paying oddly low prices for real estate in buildings he owns some degree of equity in.

    Really short version? The guy subsists on a stream of questionable Eastern European funding, and he’s neck deep in money laundering. Quite possibly the dumbest thing he ever did was run for the presidency, because his house of cards business dealings can’t withstand the degree of scrutiny that comes with the role. It’s not a question of if he gets indicted. It’s a question of when. He may survive his term, but at the latest, the minute the guy leaves office he’s going to have the NY AG, et al, all over him, and he’s not going to like it.

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  41. MBunge says:

    Before we answer either question, there’s an important bit of context that should be added to the discussion. Namely that whatever you think of think of the state of Russia and its relationship with the G-7, Donald Trump is not responsible for any of it. We are where we are with Russia largely because of the collective failure of Western foreign policy.

    As for why Russia and not China, that’s a pretty easy question. Trump clearly recognizes that Russia is neither a real military nor economic threat to American interests while China is. I don’t think any sane person can argue against that analysis in either the short term or the long term. Yet we have spent decades now acting as if we’re afraid the USSR might spring back to life overnight while simultaneously bending over backward to integrate a horrible tyranny like China into the global economy.

    And bringing up the subject isn’t making a concession. It’s bringing up a subject.

    Mike

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  42. MBunge says:

    @HarvardLaw92: This “I KNOW Donald Trump” shtick gets funnier and funnier as time goes by, as does the obsession with pretending Donald Trump isn’t vastly more successful than virtually all of his critics put together.

    I mean, even if everything HarvardLaw92 states is true, it would still make Donald Trump the greatest con artist in human history. He took on Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, the GOP establishment, and the mainstream media with NOTHING…and he still won? Hell, that’s more impressive than actually being a billionaire political outsider exploiting a unique opportunity.

    Mike

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  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    The fun part is that you can’t refute it, though I suspect that you attack the messenger instead of the message because, on some level of whatever self-awareness you have left after this fellation of Trump shtick you’ve been on, you know it’s much more accurate than you want to either admit or accept.

    Only you, though, would regard being a con artist as evidence of success. That’s a new level of pathetic, even for a water carrier like yourself, Gunga. 🙄

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  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Warren Weber: Just answer Stevens questions. Oh and quit whining.

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  45. Franklin says:

    @Warren Weber: I actually appreciated that answer. Much of it lines up with how I think Trump operates. I am yet to be convinced that his type of negotiating is effective with state actors, and I don’t think we’ll have a definitive answer on that for years.

    So that just about covers his main ‘positive’ attribute, if that’s what it turns out to be.

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  46. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Warren Weber: Fail. In 1974, I had a negative net worth. In 2018, my wife and I have a seven-figure net worth, with roughly equal portions coming from both of us. For Trump to outstrip that level of success, he’d have to be the richest man in the world. Even his most fanatical supporters can’t make that claim.

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  47. Bruce Henry says:

    Both MBunge and Jay Tea err umm I mean Jenos I mean Warren Weber keep insisting that Trump is just, you know, “bringing up a subject.” You know, saying “come on over, let’s talk.”

    But what Trump SAID was “Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?” And also “they should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

    What is there to negotiate? Russia was expelled because it invaded and annexed part of a neighboring, sovereign country. It already knows what the conditions are for re-admittance. If it wants to be re-admitted, let it leave Ukraine.

    We, and all the G7 countries, have ambassador-level diplomatic relations with Russia. We don’t need to re-admit Russia to the G7 to “find out what Russia wants.” Russia can tell us what it wants without being re-admitted. Or rather, before being considered for re-admission.

    These two guys do nothing but pose strawmen. Jay Tea I mean Jenos I mean Warren has been doing the same schtick for at least 14 years that I’m aware of.

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  48. Kingdaddy says:

    Warren, you’re way smarter than the person whose behavior you’re trying to explain. Unfortunately, intelligence brings with it a risk: the ability to concoct a defense for nearly any position, regardless of how wrong it turns out to be.

    Take, for example, your argument that Trump’s “enemies” are trying to constrain him in critical negotiations with Russia. There are three problems with that:

    (1) Constraints on presidential power are built into our constitutional system. No President goes into any negotiation with complete freedom. That’s why, for example, the Senate has to approve treaties. It’s also why the Congress as a whole, with the power of the purse, can indirectly constrain the President’s foreign policy initiatives.

    (2) If anything, Trump’s critics are not celebrating their successes in blocking Trump. Instead, they’re frightened that the constitutional checks on executive power have broken down, primarily because of the supine posture of the Republican majority in Congress. The preservation of our system of government is a greater priority than any deal.

    (3) One group whom Trump has repeatedly attacked is the national security bureaucracy, which includes people who have dedicated their careers to understanding Russia and China, and dealing with them on a daily basis. The Russian government isn’t a vast enigma that only Trump will be able to solve by offering carrots. The State Department, CIA, NSA, Defense, and other parts of our government that would be willing to help him achieve his goals are, in Trump’s mind, opponents that he needed to sideline from practically the first day of his administration. He is the kind of insecure person who sees people with greater expertise than himself as threats, not allies. The ridiculous claim that “I only need myself” flies in the face of the obvious fact that even the most foreign policy wonkish person to occupy the Oval Office will still be ignorant of thousands of critical details across hundreds of relationships with foreign governments and other international actors.

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  49. becca says:

    @Kingdaddy: I need a cigarette after that.

    Seriously, great comment.

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  50. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @MBunge:

    I tried betting you, @Bung, that when it all comes out I’ll actually have a higher net worth than Trump. I don’t owe the Russian mob, or even carry a mortgage, so my money is actual, you know, money. As @HL says the reason you can’t collect on that is that Trump refuses to reveal the truth. He lied to you with his cock and bull story of being under audit and you bought it. Just like you bought the rest of his bullshit. You are a credulous consumer of bullshit, Bung. A sucker.

    The more you struggle and strain the funnier and sadder you get. Like a five year-old crying, “But there is a Santa Claus, there is, waaaah!”

    No, wittle Bung, there is no Santa. Santa’s a just a rancid old hustler who conned you.

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  51. @MBunge:

    Trump clearly recognizes that Russia is neither a real military nor economic threat to American interests while China is. I don’t think any sane person can argue against that analysis in either the short term or the long term. Yet we have spent decades now acting as if we’re afraid the USSR might spring back to life overnight while simultaneously bending over backward to integrate a horrible tyranny like China into the global economy.

    There are several problems with this, but the most significant is regardless of anything else, China is a more significant economic actor than is Russia. If Trump’s logic (yes, I know) is that Russia is sufficiently important that they ought to be in a G-8 (without any concessions) then China really ought to be included.

    And I am not making Russia in a bogeyman, although they clearly do pose a threat to US interests in Europe. Oh, and they did interfere in our elections, but no big, right?

    The bottom line remains: it is utterly foolish for Trump to simply offer, with no preconditions or anything else, the public notion that Russia should be included–especially when we see the way he treats pretty much every other country. His inconsistency here is stunning and it requires a great deal of speculation and rationalization (see, e.g., WW above) to even attempt to explain.

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  52. @becca: Kingdaddy knows his stuff.

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  53. @Kingdaddy:

    The ridiculous claim that “I only need myself” flies in the face of the obvious fact that even the most foreign policy wonkish person to occupy the Oval Office will still be ignorant of thousands of critical details across hundreds of relationships with foreign governments and other international actors.

    So very much this.

    Indeed, supporters need to think long and hard about this–because if they really think that Trump can go into the NK summit based largely on attitude (his words), then they are buying into a cult of personality with this president that assumes that a man who, by his own admission, gets most of his information from TV actually knows more than the entire foreign policy establishment.

    To be kind, and to understate for effect, that seems rather unlikely.

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  54. @Warren Weber:

    If you think that Russia would actually engage the US militarily in a force-on-force operation, competing with us in the areas where we have clear supremacy, and not take advantage of their own strengths, then you have — if I may borrow a phrase — “already removed (yourself) from serious discussion.”

    Um, you are the one who made all this into the dichotomy of talks v. war.

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  55. @Warren Weber:

    Why is Trump talking about readmitting Russia to the Gs? To get Putin back to the table, find out just what Putin really wants, find out what he’s willing to give up for it, and lay the groundwork for future negotiations.

    The problem with your entire premise is that there is some “table” that Putin has exited–that like the North Koreans we need a special process to talk to Russia. This is not the case, and hence your entire argument makes no sense. Indeed, Trump himself has talked directly with Putin during his time as president. And, as was noted above, we have full diplomatic relations with Russia.

    There. Is. No. Need. To. Bring. Putin. “Back.” To. The. “Table.”

    You make it sound like the only way to talk to Russia is via the G-8. That is demonstrably not true.

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  56. BTW: in terms of answers the best I have seen for the Russia offer is essentially a version of Trump has a secret plan to talk to Russia/some version of “he’s a great deal-maker who knows what he is doing”/talk is better than war.

    On the China question I have gotten: China is a bad actor (but that does not tell me why the bad actor, Russia, is being offer back in).

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  57. Warren Weber says:

    @HarvardLaw92: No, the really, really hysterical thing is how you keep making all these assertions about your experiences, your skills, your knowledge, your accomplishments, all these assertions of authority from authority, while hiding behind a fake name so no one could ever fact-check your ass.

    Personally, I keep waiting for you to name-drop your wife, Morgan Fairchild. But I’m sure that’s on your to-do list…

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  58. MarkedMan says:

    Putting politics and morality aside, Russia does not have an economy that puts it anywhere near the rest of the G7. Sure, 10-20 years ago the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries were all the rage as fast growers. But I was on the tail end of that when I moved to China 7 years ago. By that time “R” part of the business was all about shutting down the initiatives that had been started. What Putin and the oligarchs did to that economy was not just literally criminal, but also criminally stupid. On the overall ranking their economy seems to be solidly second tier, but that’s an illusion. Their hard currency comes almost entirely from oil and other natural resource extraction, and there is far from enough of that to leave much left over after they pay for the military and siphon off untold billions into personal foreign bank accounts. So all the expansion plans have fallen by the wayside. No one wants to take their profits in rubles. At the top level the government is literally a cabal of murderous thugs and at the local level there are a thousand bureaucrats throwing up every impediment you can imagine until you grease their palm.
    If you doubt it just ask yourself what the last label you saw that had “Made in Russia” on it?

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  59. Brooklyn Dave says:

    @Warren Weber:
    Sweetie, your insecurities are showing.

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  60. Warren Weber says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: (shrug) You asked, I answered.

    And then the usual gang chimed in, you saw which way the wind was blowing, and promptly managed to overlook at least 95% of what I had said.

    For example, the “war with Russia” thing. My bringing it up was in the context of how Trump’s domestic political opponents will use any negotiations with Russia against him, and how “war with Russia” is the logical conclusion of their extremely illogical arguments.

    I responded in the hopes of actually having a dialogue. That would have required at least one person on the other side offering their own ideas and observations and thoughts.

    Instead, the focus became whatever I said, whenever someone thought they could find some tiny flaw or inconsistency. And even if that requires overlooking context or intent, so be it.

    As the old saying goes, I can explain things to you, but I can’t understand it for you. Especially when you are adamant in your refusal to understand.

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  61. Warren Weber says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And if all else fails with Russia, Trump still has the “pallets of cash flown in in the middle of the night” diplomatic option available to him.

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  62. @MarkedMan: Indeed, this is much of my point: Russia’s economy really does not justify its inclusion (and I noted China because they are far more significant in that arena).

    Russia was added to the G-8 mostly out of the hopes it would become a democratic state–but that didn’t happen. It more about politics than economics, and there needs to be a good reason to readmit them now (especially given the Crimea situation).

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  63. @Warren Weber:

    And if all else fails with Russia, Trump still has the “pallets of cash flown in in the middle of the night” diplomatic option available to him.

    Sigh. I’ll take “Silly Conservative Talking Points for 100,” Alex.

    And the final nail in the seriousness coffin is added.

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  64. teve tory says:

    David Burbach

    @dburbach
    Follow Follow @dburbach

    If the club is about “running the world”, it makes no sense Trump calls for Russia but not China. If the club is about like-minded democracies, Russia makes no sense. If it’s that Trump just loves and/or fears Putin, that makes sense.

    7:56 PM – 8 Jun 2018

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  65. @Warren Weber:

    (shrug) You asked, I answered.

    Not really. But then, you never were very good at the answers. Great on the talking points, though.

    the “war with Russia” thing. My bringing it up was in the context of how Trump’s domestic political opponents will use any negotiations with Russia against him, and how “war with Russia” is the logical conclusion of their extremely illogical arguments.

    No. You started off, twice at least, with the “jaw jaw is better than war war” bit and tried to create this dichotomy between war and talk, and defining “talk” as letting Putin back into the G-8 (or, at least, talking about letting him back in).

    And: there is no serious discussion by domestic political opponents of war with Russia. You are essentially making that up.

    Your answers were based on the notion that Trump is a successful negotiator, and is predicated on the notion that he knows what he is doing, even if you can’t really say what it is.

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  66. @teve tory: Yup.

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  67. Or, it is about a distraction. He is winging it.

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  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Warren Weber:

    And yet they still pay me, regardless of whether you believe or not.

    I don’t identify myself because 1) this is recreational, not business and 2) frankly, quite a few of the people on your side of the argument (such as it is …) are 1000% batshit crazy. Crazy enough to do something stupid.

    Nice job at trying to deflect away from the message (which you don’t want to acknowledge) by attacking the messenger though 🙄

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  69. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Indeed, this is much of my point: Russia’s economy really does not justify its inclusion (and I noted China because they are far more significant in that arena).

    Very much so. People focus on GDP (erroneously in my opinion), but even on that scale, Russia falls short. There is a far better argument for including India, for example, based on GDP.

    The better measure is national wealth, and on that score, Russia is an also ran, falling between Sweden and Indonesia. It’s a somewhat strong (on fundamentals) second tier economy hampered by despotism and endemic corruption. It has no business being anywhere near a member of G7.

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  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mike shupp: No, that about covers it–and very succinctly, I would add!

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  71. teve tory says:

    frankly, quite a few of the people on your side of the argument (such as it is …) are 1000% batshit crazy. Crazy enough to do something stupid.

    if you’re trying to suggest that the kind of fine intellectuals who’d drive 500 miles to shoot up a pizza joint cause they heard hillary clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement might be a little crazy, well, I find that hard to believe.

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  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He *destroyed* Obamacare–at least in the eyes of his supporters. For them, that is the deal to end all deals–even if they derive no advantage and even significant disadvantage from it. Why they feel this way is amazing to me. Maybe Warren can explain it while he’s in his non-troll personna.

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  73. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: There is, to my mind, one argument for restoring Russia to the G7 but Trumpers can”t make it, because they’re too jingoistic and cruel to admit American violence isn’t a panacea.

    Suspending Russia for aggression made hypocrisy look honest by comparison, after what the United States had spent the last thirteen years doing: seven wars of aggression, the destruction of Iraq, a global murder program, unprovoked attack on Libya and the overthrow of democratic governments that refused to align with American business interests.

    But Russia was real bad.

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  74. Bruce Henry says:

    For years and years I have made a hobby, kind of, out of arguing with wingnuts on the Internet, and of watching others argue with them. Wingnuts, such as Jay Tea here, are extremely fond of telling any interlocutors that such and such a strawman is “the logical conclusion of their arguments.” It’s the most-used arrow in their quiver. It’s not, sadly for them, persuasive, as most folks recognize a strawman when they see one.

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  75. Lit3Bolt says:

    Anyone who is not besties with Russia is a globalist warmonger. Right? /s

    Guys, it’s quite simple.

    Mbunge and WW are loyal to Trump.

    Trump is loyal to Putin.

    Therefore, Mbunge and WW are loyal to Putin.

    An entire generation of boomers therefore becomes Russian apologists for murderous klepto-czars and the nation that supports Iran and North Korea. Hey, at least they’re white!

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  76. fVOR08 says:

    A few years ago I read Russel Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. which was supposed to be the great explanation of and sales pamphlet for conservatism. On most levels I found the book deeply disappointing. It was basically twenty or so repetitive chapters, ‘Insert name here was the great thinker of his age. The only one perceptive enough to see the great truths.’ Repeated every generation or so. But Kirk never seemed quite able to explain, or quote his subject explaining, just what these great truths were. Except that Kirk seemed to want to say it was religion, but he kept dancing around it. Big tell was when he got to his antebellum Southerners, John Calhoun and one John Randolph of Roanoke, Kirk declared he wasn’t going to say anything about slavery because it would just complicate things. No shit.

    However, at another level the book was useful. Very instructive, just not in any way Kirk intended. It was an insight into how conservatives think.

    I think, Dr. Taylor, you may have to accept that WW’s answer is as good an insight into how Trump supporters think as you’re going to get. His response to your question amounts to, “Trump’s playing 11 dimensional chess. Trust me.” But if you accept conservatism (for the followers, not the oligarchs) as a psychological phenomenon, WW’s response is instructive.

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  77. teve tory says:

    Trump takes hard line with US allies at G-7 summit

    BY MAX GREENWOOD – 06/09/18 11:49 AM EDT

    President Trump exited the Group of Seven (G-7) summit on Saturday with a stark warning to some of Washington’s closest allies: reduce trade barriers or face consequences.

    As he prepared to depart early from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, to head to Singapore ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump delivered an ultimatum to foreign leaders, demanding that their countries reduce trade barriers for the U.S. or risk losing market access to the world’s largest economy.

    “They have no choice. I’ll be honest with you, they have no choice,” Trump told reporters at a news conference, adding that companies and jobs had left the U.S. to escape trade barriers abroad. “We’re going to fix that situation. And if it’s not fixed, then we’re not going to deal with these countries.”

    Putin is laughing his nuts off.

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  78. gVOR08 says:

    I have a comment in moderation. Is one bad word now enough to put you in purgatory? It’s even scatalogical, not taking anyone’s name in vain. You can edit it to “spit” if it’ll help.

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  79. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t know if you caught my comment on the other thread, but the Chinese are the ones buying up 50% of the world-wide market in top-quality nanotech equipment, not the Russians. In fact, a lot of the Russians I used to work with in nanotech have fled Russia and are now in places like Italy, the U.K., Singapore, and the U.S. (None that I know of have showed up in China yet.)

    The Chinese are already world leaders in areas such as solar cells and all the technology surrounding them. Russia gets its money by selling oil and other commodities from mining in Siberia–but it’s almost completely fallen back into second class when it comes to science and technology R&D. Aside from internet trolling and cyberattacks–it’s gotten very good at that–but considering the collapse of the rest of their R&D that’s about the only place they COULD end up doing work in.

    So if I had any intelligence at all (Warren, I’m talking to you) I’d identify China as the up-and-coming player on the block, not Russia.

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  80. DrDaveT says:

    @Warren Weber:

    The whole notion of “criteria” is pretty much irrelevant.

    I think you and Steven are talking past each other on this point, so let me try to translate/clarify:

    Steven, when normal people give reasons for what they do or what they want, they intend the listener to understand a logical or causal connection between the reason and the thing. “Why do you want a cold beer?” “Because it’s hot”.

    Trump isn’t like people. When he gives ‘reasons’, he does not have in mind any logical or causal connection between the reason and the thing. He uses words purely for their connotations, not their denotations. It’s more like playing mood music and a laugh track than it is like discourse. The people who support him hear the music; they don’t do logic at the best of times, and certainly not when listening to Trump make such pretty music.

    Listeners on the outside hear Trump saying things like the bit you quoted, and they think “WTF? That makes no sense!?” But it was never meant to make sense; examining its internal logic or consistency is the same kind of category error as complaining that “I was born in a crossfire hurricane” doesn’t make sense.

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  81. wr says:

    @Warren Weber: “As the old saying goes, I can explain things to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

    Hey, another one of J@nos’ favorite phrases. What a shock.

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  82. I see that WW is a Tucker watcher:

    In response, Carlson argued that it’s “better to be at the table talking than not to be” and that the U.S. is “very close” to being at war with Russia and asked David Tafuri “why we wouldn’t want to defuse that?”

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