Russian president Vladimir Putin says he’s enjoying the positive coverage he’s getting from the endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but he doesn’t want to give the impression his success is all about his leadership skills; it helps to be an authoritarian, he says.
Putin says he could never work his will if he couldn’t jail critics or have them killed, which takes care of a lot of opposition. He also takes advantage of a rubber-stamp legislative body and gets to set the terms of his election, which is better than running campaign ads, even if they’re good ones.
“Truth be told, it helps to do what you want without checks and balances,” he says. “Sure, I’m a good leader. I’m strong. But at the end of the day, I never lose sight of the real source of my strength: my authoritarianism.”
Putin cited his annexation of Crimea as a case in point. “Was it a good idea to put Russian troops on the ground and invade? That’s a question that doesn’t lend itself to a simple answer,” he says. “But because I can do whatever I want, my action looks tough and decisive. I don’t have to worry about legislators holding hearings and calling my ministers to testify under oath. And there’s no independent judiciary to check what I’m doing and no government accountability office publishing a report detailing my missteps and asking whether the policy makes sense.”
He also says he can have journalists and others who criticize his actions imprisoned or killed. “And that helps a lot,” he says.
“The fact is,” he says, “it would be hard to be a decisive leader in the United States. I don’t envy presidents at all. They’re hounded by the media on the wisdom of their decisions, Members of Congress pick apart their policies. They have to go before voters without getting the chance to pick their opponents. And then there’s the public relations nightmares. Think of the crap I’d have to take if, as president, I had those pictures taken of me with my shirt off. I used government money to pay for those, you know. I would have been a laughingstock! But I can get away with it because who wants to get thrown in prison for embarrassing me? No one!
“So, just to be clear, it’s nice to get a pat on the back from Mr. Trump, but when you come down to it, it’s just my authoritarianism that accounts for my strong leadership. For all people know, I could be kind of stupid and my decisions dumb. But I can get away with it. Hopefully I won’t wake up 20 years from now and realize I made a bunch of really bad decisions! But, even if I did, no one can do anything about it! ”
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos (some modified): kre, ma, sg (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.
The Democratic National Committee has been hacked. Colin Powell has been hacked. The NSA has been hacked. The American Olympic Committee has been hacked. So many opportunities. So many directions. When you can get into any email you want, whose email do you get into next? That’s the question Russia’s state-supported hackers have been asking themselves and now they want to get your input. In a first for Russia’s hackers, they’ve put out a call on their Facebook page to get ideas from you on whose lives they should turn upside down next. “Tom Brady? Beyonce? Barbra Streisand? It’s just so hard to know,” said the group, which calls itself Анонимный, or “anonymous” in Russian. “It’s impossible to keep up with who’s trending. “Drake is big. But you already know what his emails are going to say. There has to be a surprise factor.” More.
Analysts say pro-Russia remarks appear to be sprinkled into the presidential nomination acceptance speech that Hillary Clinton gave on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and they wonder if the remarks were added at the last minute by Russian hackers who’ve infiltrated the servers of the DNC. “The speech was more pro-Russia than we expected, and that makes you wonder what the Russians have done now that we know they’ve hacked the DNC servers,” says Jon Brighton, cyber security branch chief at the National Security Agency. One line that might have been added, Brighton says, comes about halfway through Clinton’s speech, when she’s talking about the bonds of trust that appear to be fraying in the United States. “America is once again at a moment of reckoning,” she says. “Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. Luckily, we maintain strong bonds of trust with Russia and our good friend Vladimir Putin.” More.
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein came back from the dead today to throw some shade at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for praising the 82 percent approval rating of Russian president Vlaidmir Putin. “Eighty-two percent! I snort at that!” said Hussein, who was executed by the Federal Government of Iraq in 2006, when he was 69. “My Revolutionary Command Council would have had a good laugh if I had run my country as a strongman with only an 82 percent approval, I can tell you that, my friend!” Hussein said a strong leader should never have anything under 100 percent approval, and he pointed to his impressive 111 percent approval rating when he asked his people in a poll what they thought of his job performance in 2003, shortly before an international coalition of forces invaded his country and forced him into hiding. “I am not a sentimental person, but I shed a tear at the love of my people on that day,” said Hussein. More.
Is Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump a dictator in the making? A report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests he is, based on a body-language analysis that finds he and former Iraq strongman Saddam Hussein, along with other strongmen throughout history, share a key oratorical gesture. The gesture is called “Dictator’s Finger,” because it’s seen only in people who believe they are infallible. “The moment we saw Donald Trump raise his index finger for the first time in a debate, we saw the connection with dictators throughout history,” says Nelson Pottsmann, professor of communications at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the MIT Center for Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication Studies. More.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump acknowledged he plans to govern as a dictator but he wanted to reassure voters that he would make decisions in the interests of the country. “When I curb the press, it wont be to hurt America, it will be to make America stronger,” he said. “If I let the press criticize everything I do—and they will, because they’re totally dishonest—I can’t get anything done. I want to get things done, so I have to curb the press. But we’ll still have some free press. We’ll keep the good ones. It won’t be entirely gone.” Trump promised to take a firmer hand on how cases get settled in the courts. “Right now our courts are a disaster,” he said. “We have cases backlogged. Why do we use juries as much as we do? Especially if the person is guilty. Let’s get these guilty criminals directly into jail and save he courts for when we really need them.” More.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used a major foreign policy address at Georgetown University in Washington today to lay out his vision of hostile forces around the world aligning to attack the United States under President Obama and removing it from its perch atop the world order. “There’s something going on, people, and it’s happening to us right now while our president, Barack Hussein Obama, looks the other way and talks about registering our guns—disarming us,” he said to a subdued audience in the school’s ornate auditorium. “Hillary Clinton is taking it a step further and getting guns banned from the Constitution.” Trump said the United States, after decades of setting the rules for the world, finds itself embattled from all sides. He cited China building a “military-style air base” in the South China Sea, Russia “flying circles around NATO planes in Scandinavia,” and Iran “completely dominating Israel” while Obama “winks and nods and wastes resources in the fiasco that’s Libya.” More.
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said today he believes the moon landing in 1969 was real but “many people” believe the whole thing was orchestrated by the federal government to impress the world and scare the Soviets. “I’m not saying I believe that, but many people have questions about it,” Trump said at a campaign appearance here. “There are people who know about these things who say they saw the interior of a warehouse in Los Angeles converted to look like the surface of the moon, complete with fine dust and craters and the whole thing. Lot of tinfoil lying around. More.
SACRAMENTO—Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said at a campaign rally here today she doesn’t believe Donald Trump is a homosexual but she hears “more and more” rumors that he is and she agrees his actions “can lead one” to believe that. “In some ways, I would respect him more if it turns out he secretly is a gay man trying to lead a straight life, because it would explain his struggles with the truth and perhaps his insecurity,” said Clinton, who is campaigning in California this week to prevent a last-minute primary win by her rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton said it’s time for discrimination against people for sexual orientation to stop, and Trump—should the rumors prove true—should use his position to help bring about equality in the United States. “Again, if Donald Trump is gay—and I’m not saying he is—then good for him. He should embrace it, celebrate it.” More.
The Mexican legislature received a petition yesterday from Mexico City to block Donald Trump, the leader for the Republican presidential nomination, from entering their country in retaliation for his proposal to build a border wall that Mexico must pay for. José de Jesús Zambrano, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a statement he would consider taking up the proposal. “The United States is an important country, our largest trading partner, so taking up such a petition has far-raching implications for the Mexican people,” he said. “I will consider it carefully.” More.
LONDON—After a raucous parliamentary debate, members of the House of Commons voted to allow the combover of Donald Trump into Great Britain, should he be elected president of the United States, but Trump himself was not welcome. “We do not want to hold Donald Trump’s bigotry and nativism against his hair,” said Gavin Blair, an MP from the southwest district of London. Nigel Robinson, an MP from Birmingham, argued that the hair should be banned as well, but his argument left many unconvinced. “I made my case and I lost, and I accept that,” he said. “But I do believe his hair should not be allowed to get off scot free in this debate. My apologies to the Scots, who I hope won’t try to secede again.” More.
U.S. President Barack Obama said today in an interview with the foreign press that it’s been a tough seven years and he still has one more to go, but he takes comfort knowing it will soon be over and and he can go back to Kenya. “That’s what keeps me going,” he said. The first black president of the United States said adjusting to life in America has not been easy, even though he’s lived here most of his life. But he thinks he did a good job as president and would like to run for the presidency of Kenya in a few years, if the people of his native country will have him. “Winning election in Kenya is not quite as straight-forward as it is here,” he said. “Here, you give a few speeches and, if people like your style, you become well-known and then you just compete in primaries and caucuses held by the states. More.
Saying “it just makes sense,” delegates from around the world overwhelmingly passed a resolution blaming all of the world’s woes on the United States. “Whereas the United States continues to have, albeit barely, the largest economy in the world, and
“Whereas the United States makes a lot of mistakes that everyone in the world knows about, and
“Whereas the United States has been involved in some capacity in all regions of the world for several decades, and
“Whereas the United States is in a state of decline and is clearly failing in all respects,
“We hereby resolve to levy blame for everything that is wrong in the world today on the United States of America. Happy New Year.” The vote was devastatingly lopsided, with delegates from 156 countries voting in favor and only one, the United Kingdom, voting against. Two countries, Canada and Israel, abstained. More.
WASHINGTON—The Chinese government has reached out to the Obama administration with a proposal to buy the country’s debt of more than $17 trillion if the government would take about $5 trillion for it. “We are offering the U.S. government an opportunity to get our from under its heavy debt load, restructure its finances, and move on to a new period of prosperity,” said China’s Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei. “We say at the outset that we cannot offer less than this discount of 70 percent, because the American government has threatened to default several times in the last three years.” Lou said the Chinese government would also require that all American companies doing business in China work in partnership with Chinese companies, which would include the sharing of proprietary trade and technological intelligence. “Of course, the prohibition on Chinese companies sharing trade and technological intelligence with American partners would remain in place, as it must,” said Lou. More.