Showtime carried Oliver Stone’s interviews of Vladimir Putin this week. I watched parts of the Wednesday and Thursday sections. (I didn’t see the judo or hockey sessions.) Showtime subscribers can watch on line. No, I did not watch the Megyn Kelly interview.

The interviews aired on the same week of anti-corruption protest rallies staged in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities and towns.

Stone spoke English, Putin spoke Russian. An interpreter, who at times looked like a younger Costa Ronin of The Americans, translated for Stone, who seems to be fluent in Russian. Putin’s words were subtitled throughout even when he spoke English.

In case you wonder, Stone did not catch Putin breaking a little girl’s bicycle, unlike his friend Hugo Chávez,

On the one hand, Oliver is a big fan of Chávez, the Castros, and, of course, of Putin, and it shows: Rolling Stone reports that the series is set to air on Russia’s state-run Channel One in its entirety later this month,

In an appearance on The Late Show on Monday night, Stone sang the praises of Putin, to the point where a taken-aback Stephen Colbert asked, “Anything negative that you found? Anything? Or does he have your dog in a cage someplace?”

On the other hand, Putin never reveals anything accidentally or under pressure; never has, never will.

It was entirely predictable, so why did I watch?

For starters, I wanted to see what and how much was shown. There were three of Putin’s offices, a staged situation room (as in war command room with live calls from the military – think of it as Skype calls from the jet bombers), a patio with Pottery-Barn-style outdoor furniture, innumerable mile-long hallways, and a very large, traditional ballroom with elaborate carpet.

Through it all, Putin was completely in charge, poised, wearing a business suit and necktie, self-assured, and at-ease-while-fully-alert yet not quite relaxed. As Leonid Bershidsky puts it, in his interviews, “Putin has never once relaxed or relinquished control,” and he’s not about to start. This bears repeating because it is the underlying aspect of the persona I was watching on TV.

Bershidsky explains that Putin has one invariable message (emphasis added):

The message he has for foreign leaders hasn’t changed in 17 years: “Russia is a sovereign power with a set of historic interests that it will pursue no matter what; Western powers can’t tell Russia what to do.”

Putin makes it clear at every moment that he will do what is necessary to bring about what he sees as being in Russia’s best interest.

That, and that alone, is the most important takeaway from the interviews. Everything else is theater.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

The day was off  to a slow start.

First my laptop was clamoring for updates and would not let me postpone them. After those were done, we had a brief power outage during an even briefer thunderstorm.

I turned on the TV and Drudge Report to find this:

The shooter carried out his attack with a long gun.

Reps. Ron DeSantis and Mo Brooks were there,

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As of the writing of this post, the shooter is reportedly alive and in police custody. [UPDATE: He is  now reported dead.]

All year long the Left has been fostering a climate of hate, from college professors asking that Republicans be “lined up and shot,” antifa rioters, BLM demonstrators chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon,” to Kathy Griffin jihadist photo-ops, while fake blood pours as Shakespeare in the Park stabs Donald Trump.

[UPDATE: Doug Ross graphically illustrates the mainstreaming of political violence by Democrat extremists]

Predictably, the Democrats will ignore all of this “eliminationist” rhetoric as a possible motive the same way they ignore Islamism as a motive in other terror attacks. They will instead focus on the gun.

Sure enough,

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As Pete says, if you are a conservative, you should arm yourself sooner rather than later.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

I was not interested in watching yesterday’s Comey public theater. There are several reasons why, and they all add up to we are being played.

Here are four reasons why I did not watch:

  1. Two cable news channels were so hell-bent on hyping it that they had a countdown clock on the bottom corner of their screens.
  2. Each political side had already made up its mind.

  3. The guy got fired. People who have been fired have an axe to grind.

  4. Comey was going to have hours on television on which to cause the most damage in the most subtle way. Comey has decades of experience as a master operator in D.C. As such, he was not going to display Pres. Trump’s head on a pike a la Kathy Griffin; instead he was going to gather a dark cloud big enough that he could leave it there so it could cause a storm.

Face it, we’re being played.

And Comey is a player.

This would not be the first time Comey aimed to control the Washington weather: Last year he famously listed the case against Hillary Clinton and aimed to disperse the incoming storm that would have caused by essentially saying, “no matter” since no judge would indict her.

Scott Johnson looks at Comey’s latest dark cloud:

We learned yesterday that once he was fired by President Trump Comey himself sought to engineer the appointment of a special counsel. Mission accomplished.

Comey has met with Mueller and turned over his memos of conversations that he had with Trump while serving as FBI Director. Comey conveyed the impression that Trump is a current subject of Mueller’s investigation for obstruction of justice based on Comey’s firing and Trump’s subsequent remarks. John Podhoretz reads the tea leaves here. There are complications with this line of thought.

I am troubled by Comey’s confidence that the obstruction train is going down the tracks. Alan Dershowitz considers the issue here and here, Andrew McCarthy here.

In that sense, Comey’s performance was a success.

Hosea 8:7 has something to say about the weather,

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Time will tell.

UPDATE

Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Twelve years ago the family and I headed to Broadway to watch Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Denzel Washington played Brutus, Eamonn Walker was Marc Anthony, and William Sadler was the title character.

The production was staged as a Nazi-uniformed cast traipsed among the ruins while shooting machine guns, for a touch of poetic license. In the most memorable scene, Sadler, naked on a massage table and covered with a sheet, sat up and flashed the entire audience.

You can get flashed for free in NYC, so Sadler’s gesture didn’t add any insights to Shakespeare’s play, other than perhaps hint that Caesar had something in common with the average subway perv.

Poetic license now extends to a Trump-inspired Julius Caesar:

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The choice of Julius Caesar for the annual program is one dripping with subtext, chosen deliberately for the supposed parallels between the Roman dictator and Trump. A description of the play on The Public Theater’s website states that “Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.”

It describes the Roman leader as “Magnetic, populist, irreverent,” and “bent on absolute power.” The description also notes that a “small band of patriots, devoted to the country’s democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him.”

Not only does this Caesar do the full Monty, but blood gushes freely, too:

[Salem Media sales manager Laura] Sheaffer also said of the scene where the actor playing Trump/Caesar steps out of a bathtub stark naked, that it struck her as disrespectful and a “mockery of the office of the President.” Why, yes it is.

In the following scene, Trump/Caesar is attacked by the Senators and stabbed to death as an American flag hovers overhead, according to Sheaffer. “They had the full murder scene onstage, and blood was spewing everywhere out of his body. To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful,” Sheaffer continued.

The cognitive dissonance between these expressions of free speech while their supporters claim that Trump is a tyrant is nothing short of amazing.

They ought to try staging Julius Caesar in Havana with Raul Castro as the title character, and see what happens.

But that’s Cuba, the communist paradise where NYC’s mayor DeBlasio honeymooned while the noble savages starved. Manhattan elites will likely push for this production to move on to the Broadway stage where the “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it” hoi polloi would have to spend big bucks to get schooled along with children on field trips.

Back in the early 2oth Century, the French came up with the Grand Guignol, which was acclaimed as avant-garde for being gross as it featured “the goriest, most twisted imaginings of the famed theater’s writers and its troupe members.”

The Grand Guignol could not compete with the real-life horrors unleashed during World War II. While fake blood gushes at Shakespeare in the Park, over in London real blood flows on the streets from the victims of Islamists.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Hillary Clinton went on a tear yesterday blaming everything and everybody for her 2016 presidential campaign failure. Hillary brought up Macedonians not once, but thrice in her rant.

Mr. Spock and Aristotle were not present in her logic as she droned to interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg,

“And I have a lot of sympathy at this point. Kara doesn’t, but I do [KS laughs] for people trying to make these decisions. I would just urge them to hurry up. Because even if you err slightly more on the curating editorial decision-making, so some voices are going to be cut off, some fake news outlets, the guys in Macedonia are going to be denied entry into your platform, I’d rather see us erring on that side for a while to see what the effects are, instead of being kind of overwhelmed by the challenge, like, “What do you do?” I mean, how do you try and determine who should or shouldn’t be on your site? And so I think it’s a mixed bag.”

Say, what?

Prior to Hillary’s rant, the only Macedonians I ever heard of were Alexander the Great’s thundering hordes, who took over a large chunk of land from 334-323 B.C.,

Alexander, like Hillary, wanted to be boss. Or, as Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber famously said in Die Hard,

“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Benefits of a classical education.

(If you want to be pedantic about whether Hans Gruber quoted Plutarch correctly, do knock yourself out. This post is about Hillary.)

Instead of antiquity, Hillary was referring to “guys over in Macedonia who are running these fake news sites,” thus checking two items off her pretext list: electoral interference from overseas and fake news.

Add the sneaky Macedonians to the basket of deplorables.

The message is clear: in Hillary’s mind, we uneducated rubes can’t exercise own own judgement, because, if we had, she would be POTUS.

Unlike Alexander, Hillary wept because she could not conquer. I’m actually relieved she’s not POTUS. That interview leaves the aftertaste, as Scott Johnson put it, that, “To borrow a phrase from Milton, herself is Hell.”

UPDATE

Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

I was away for the weekend and spent very little time paying any attention to the news.

Which is a good thing, since when I got home and turned on the news there was the Kathy Griffin jihadist photo story hogging the news cycle.

Griffin was singing a different tune a few years ago:

Attention whoring pays off. Yes, I firmly believe the woman will do anything for attention and will continue to do so.

During the weekend I stayed in Orlando near SeaWorld.

SeaWorld was in the news years ago when one of the whales killed its trainer, after which the park replaced the orca shows with an educational show in San Diego and other new attractions in Orlando, but you can still ride the Kraken.

Since the hotel is in the middle of the amusement park area, there were dozens of little kids (middle school age and younger) all over the place at all times, especially by the swimming pool.

The bartender at the pool is a very nice lady from Scotland named Janie. We talked about how you still have enough sunlight (when it’s sunny) to read the newspaper outdoors at eleven at night in Edinburgh in the middle of the summer, while zillions of kids swarmed around us and ran under the swimming pool’s orca fountain.

You can stay away from the headlines but sometimes the headlines stay with you:

There was a large contingent of Venezuelans staying at the hotel. Entire families, who had purchased hotel and amusement park packages, costing thousands of dollars. The dissonance between this and the country’s situation was jarring, not only to me but also to my travel companions.

Even more jarring was the news that Goldman Sachs has essentially bailed out Venezuela’s communist dictatorship to the tune of US$2.8 billion.

It’s enough to make you wonder how much of that money will go for SeaWorld vacations.

UPDATE

Linked to by The Stumbling Block. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

 

Some of the smartest people I’ve ever met were Princeton University engineering students.

I lived in Princeton, N.J. for almost exactly twenty-five years, but was not associated with Princeton University. Neither I nor my husband worked there, we are not alumni, and our son chose another University when he was going to college.

I did, however, audit over a dozen undergraduate classes under the Community Auditing Program. If you were a Princeton resident, you could attend the class lectures for $100/class as long as you sat in the back of the room and kept your mouth shut.

Like Victorian children, us auditors used to say, we were seen but not heard. Auditors had an opportunity to observe.

I audited two classes in the Engineering School, a school to which you have to apply specifically, independent from PU. That is, if you are a PU undergrad you can not just transfer to Engineering, you have to apply, and most likely start as a freshman.

The engineering undergrads are excited about their studies in a way other PU undergrads were not, at least the ones in the classes I audited. The engineers were unfailingly quick and sharp in class, unlike the vast majority of the PU undergrads. Give it a decade or so, but I would not be surprised if the next Tim Berners-Lee had been sitting a few rows in front of me in engineering class.

So after all that auditing, I always read with mild curiosity articles about PU admissions. This caught my attention: Asians With “Very Familiar Profiles”: How Princeton’s Admissions. Officers Talk About RaceFederal investigators highlighted comments “associated with Asian stereotypes” as part of a probe into allegations of racial bias at the Ivy League school. It all comes down to meeting “diversity” dictates,

But documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show Princeton’s admissions officers repeatedly wrote of Asian-American applicants as being difficult to differentiate, referring to them dismissively as having “very familiar profiles,” calling them “standard premeds,” or “difficult to pluck out.”
. . .
Of a Hispanic applicant, an admissions officer wrote, “Tough to see putting her ahead of others. No cultural flavor in app.” Of a black student, another said, “Very few African Americans with verbal scores like this.”

“No cultural flavor in app.” You can bust an academic gut and shine in extra-curricular activities, but PU won’t allow you the privilege of paying them $60,000/yr (thereby graduating a quarter million dollars in hock) because you lack what they deem “cultural flavor.”

Maybe J-Lo should apply.

At least J-Lo can afford it.

What it comes down to is, with affirmative action we are all reduced to a cultural-racial stereotype, no matter the talent or the skill of the individual.

Or, as I was told a couple of times over the years I lived in Princeton, “but you don’t even look Puerto Rican!” My “cultural flavor” must have been lacking.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Thomas Sowell covered the deleterious effects of affirmative action in his 2004 Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study.  I recommend you read it, if you haven’t already.

New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade continues to lose sponsors after NY City Council Speaker Melissa Viverito named unrepentant terrorist Oscar López Rivera a “National Freedom Hero” who will be honored at the June 11th parade.

First Goya Foods, the parade’s largest sponsor throughout its 60-year history, pulled its $200,000.

The NYPD Hispanic Society and the Rafael Ramos Foundation have pulled out. Also dropping out,

the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and the other police unions representing the NYPD senior ranks.

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill, while acknowledging he would likely be at the parade overseeing thousands of cops stationed there, refused to march in honor of a terrorist.

Jet Blue, AT&T, and the New York Yankees won’t be there, either,

The Yankees’ boycott particularly stings. Bronx Bombers who have graced the parade include Puerto Rican native Bernie Williams.

“The New York Yankees are not participating in this year’s Puerto Rican Day parade,” the team said in a statement.

Instead, both Jet Blue and the Yankees will continue their scholarship programs helping “Puerto Rican students in both New York and Puerto Rico” by totally bypassing the parade organizers.

Gov. Cuomo is still waffling on whether he’ll attend the parade.

Univision continues to sponsor terrorism, never mind that

it wasn’t the belief in independence that got López Rivera locked up; it was the six pounds of dynamite and four blasting caps found in López Rivera’s apartment.

The network is set to air an exclusive interview on Sunday’s edition of Al Punto where U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez compares López Rivera to George Washington.

Viverito has dug in her heels and last Monday held a “rally to defend the parade,” conflating the parade with the terrorist. Seth Baron reports (emphasis added),

When a reporter asked her why López Rivera had dynamite, blasting caps, and bomb-making diagrams in his apartment when he was arrested, Mark-Viverito said, “in regard to the specifics of that situation you are talking about, I don’t know everything that was presented in the court proceedings.”

Just for clarity’s sake: the FALN claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings, including the one at Fraunces Tavern that killed four people and injured 50. At his trial, Lopez Rivera refused to participate in his defense on the grounds that he was a combatant in an anti-colonial war against the United States and thus a prisoner of war; he demanded to be tried by an international tribunal. He was tried in open court and convicted of “seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and ammunition to aid in the commission of a felony, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.” López Rivera refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his acts, nor has he renounced violence, conceding only that other means are “more effective.” When asked about the surviving family of his victims, he told an interviewer in 2011, “If you don’t respect me, why should I reciprocate? I wasn’t there to tell them, ‘Hey, listen, I’m sorry.’ That’s not me.”

I do not exaggerate when I say that López Rivera set his apartment as a bomb-making facility.

Lopez-Rivera had been in federal prison since 1981, serving a 55-year sentence which was extended an additional 15 years following two failed attempts to escape, where

he conspired with others inside and outside his prison to kill his way to freedom, attempting to procure grenades, rifles, plastic explosives, bulletproof vests, blasting caps, and armor-piercing bullets.

Three days before leaving office, then-President Barack Obama commuted López Rivera’s 70-year sentence. López Rivera was released on May 17th.

No word on whether Obama will attend the parade.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

I have met Robert Spencer briefly over the years in a variety of places across the U.S., and frequently read his blog, Jihad Watch, which I invite you to read.

Robert was poisoned during a trip to Iceland, after giving an anti-jihad lecture in Reykjavik.

Robert’s lecture was preceded by media reports which he describes as “a firestorm of abuse in the Icelandic press,” some downright libelous,

Perhaps most absurd of all, Icelandic media published the false claim that I incited the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik to kill. (Sigh. In a world of logical thinking, I’m as responsible for Breivik as the Beatles are for Charles Manson.) After the event, one article even featured a large photo of Breivik, yet it quoted nary a thing I said that evening.

Not one Icelandic media outlet contacted me for comment, much less for rebuttal to the charges they made against me.

In spite of the media demonizing, 500 people attended the lecture, following which Robert went out for dinner. It was then that someone slipped Ritalin mixed with MDMA (Ecstasy) in his drink. He was hospitalized for days.

Robert continues (emphasis added),

I learned my lesson. And the lesson I learned was that media demonization of those who dissent from the Leftist line is direct incitement to violence. By portraying me and others who raise legitimate questions about jihad terror and Sharia oppression as racist, bigoted “Islamophobes” without allowing us a fair hearing, they paint a huge target on the backs of those who dare to dissent.

Those who paint the targets, and those who shoot at them, think they’re doing something great. Not only does the Left fill those whom it brainwashes with hate, but it does so while portraying its enemies as the hatemongers, such that violent Leftists such as the young man who drugged me feel righteous as they victimize and brutalize for the crime of disagreement.

Mark Steyn, with whom I have also coincided at various venues, says “I don’t know how I’d stand up to a cocktail of Ritalin and Ecstasy.” I doubt that I’d fare as well as Robert.

Steyn notes the effect of poisonous social engineering (emphasis added),

The social-justice crowd are moving toward the same point as the Charlie Hebdo killers, and for the same reason: They’re too stupid to argue. For the Islamic imperialists, debate is a largely alien concept. For the left, it’s simply too much effort. As I said here many years ago, the great appeal of multiculturalism is that it absolves you from having to know anything about other cultures: If they’re all equally valid, what’s the point? Slap on the CO-EXIST bumper sticker and off you tootle. No need to worry whether the “C” might have a bit of a problem with some of the other letters, and that indeed, if not for the “C”, you wouldn’t need a bumper-sticker admonition to CO-EXIST in the first place. But, after two generations of social engineering, of the substitution of attitudes for education, it would require too much effort to equip yourself to argue against the difficult questions a man such as Robert Spencer raises. It’s literally easier to kill him.

Indeed, Robert gets it:

For years I have noted that the Left carries out relentless character assassination against those whom it hates, with the intention of discrediting us utterly, without debate or examination of our ideas. Now I see that the endpoint of this operation is not just that we be silenced, but that we be dead. Character assassination was first, and as my being poisoned in Iceland shows, now the Left is beginning to move on to the next level: actual assassination.

It’s not “only” a culture war. It never has been.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

The latest pearl-clutching news cycle comes from the NYT: Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation. The Gray Lady asserts on the third paragraph,

The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Clearest evidence, they say? On paragraph six, the NYT declares they have not seen the memo at all,

The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

Say again?

The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo,

They claim that this is “clearest evidence” that the President has tried to directly influence an investigation, but they haven’t even looked at it?

which is unclassified,

It’s unclassified because Comey wrote the memo to himself.

Comey is a lawyer. Lawyers routinely write memos to themselves on all sorts of subjects, including on ways to cover their butts. That does not make this memo (or its parts) as of itself a factual statement that would present “clearest evidence” of anything.

Not only that,

one of Mr. Comey’s associates

not Comey himself, who has been perfectly able to come forward anytime during the past three months (Michael Flynn was fired on February 13th) and present this “clearest evidence,” if it exists.

Why wait until after he was fired? Why not just quit in protest when it allegedly happened?

One thing Comey could have done short of quitting is inform the Senate Intelligence Committee of Trump’s alleged statement.

Comey didn’t make the call but instead had an unnamed associate, who

read parts of it

I’ve read whole articles over the phone when people asked me to. Just how long is this memo?

to a Times reporter.

Not to Michael Schmidt, who actually wrote the article, but to some unnamed person in the newsroom or somewhere.

So you get this,

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Not to pick on poor Rubin, but the pattern is a NYT-WaPo-CNN pearl-clutching circle over leaks provided by anonymous people over an investigation which has dragged on for several  months and has produced no evidence regarding Trump’s links to Russia.

In plain English: An unnamed person read parts of a note Comey wrote to himself (and kept in a drawer for three months), to an unnamed NYT employee.

The NYT calls it “clearest evidence;” the WaPo says it’s obstruction of justice.

Some are talking of impeachment over this – over some newspaper playing Mad Libs with stuff they haven’t actually seen.

Instead, I join with Charlie Martin in demanding, Show Me the Memos!

Here are some Tips For Reading Washington Post Stories About Trump Based On Anonymous Leaks. Pay special attention to #5, “Compare sources willing to put their name and reputation on the line.” Comey certainly hasn’t.

Likewise, John Podhoretz has valuable advice to Pres. Trump: STOP TALKING.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.