Liberal Dems Claiming a Russian Election Hack and Putin Control Over Trump are the New ‘Birthers’
As the British newspaper the Guardian, points out, in a way that you will be hard-pressed to find reported honestly in the US corporate media, Putin, during his decade and a half of running Russia, rebuilt the Russian economy, improved the lives of average Russians immensely, and equally importantly, restored a once great nation from the status of global basket case to a major international power again. Not surprisingly, he is now one of the world’s most popular leaders.
While wild swings in the exchange value of the Russian ruble vs. the US dollar make the figures a little squishy, Russian GDP in 1999, when Putin took over the government, was $196 billion, and rose to over $2 trillion in 2011, hitting a record $2.2 trillion in 2013. With oil and gas exports central to Russian international trade, the crash in oil prices in 2015 knocked Russia’s GDP back down to $1.3 trillion, but it needs to be pointed out that for most Russians, who primarily buy goods from food to clothing to housing on the domestic market, unaffected by exchange rates, this has had little impact on their standard of living, only raising the cost of imported goods. Without question, in the view of most Russians, Putin has done a good job of managing the Russian economy.
That’s not to say he can't act in an autocratic manner. Laws that make defaming politicians a crime, required registration and adherence to governement regulation for media sites that receive more than 3000 hits a day, prosecution of critics of Russia's Ukraine policy (for example the banning of reports on Russian casualties, and sometimes violent harassment of critical journalists, show how he has weakened the constitutional protection of freedom of the press, and certainly Putin's policy on gay rights is troglodyte, but that begs the question: even if he were a true autocrat, when has a country’s being headed by an autocratic leader or even a tyrant deterred the US from having friendly relations with it? There’s no room in this article to run a list, but let’s just mention the Shah of Iran, the Chilean military-dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Brazilian and Argentine juntas in 1964 and 1976, Salazar and Franco in Portugal and Spain, and then the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and other countries of the Middle East. In comparison to these disturbing examples of American “friends,” Putin seems absolutely a paragon of democratic values. (Besides we live in a country here where the government spies on everyone, the CIA maintains "assets" in major US media, the president has the power to arrest, imprison and kill American citizens, without even reporting his actions, on his own authority, and has been locking up whistleblowers for revealing state crimes to the press, all of which would qualify as the actions of a dictator, so where do we really get off criticizing Putin?)