Tag Archives: America

Observations from an American who lives in Russia when he visited America again.

I have just returned from my annual sojourn to America recently; Texas and California to be exact.

This might have been the first time I had ever been to Texas and not see someone wearing a cowboy hat. Amazing, since I spent 10 days there (14 days in Cali). Equally amazing was not seeing any police, or very, very few in both places.

Nobody shot at me either. Always welcomed.

Nothing really has changed much, but it being an election year, one could sense a palatable shift in the mood of the country; interesting to witness I must say. Living outside one’s country for years will change your perspective and give you a certain vantage point that is quite different obviously, than from someone who hasn’t experienced this. That is assuming that one can stay objective.

One major paradigm shift for me over the years living in Moscow has been to not look at things as good or bad but different.

People are people. Living in Moscow is not that different, all things considered, than living in LA. Cultural attitudes aside, I get up, go to work, meet with friends, enjoy life, deal with problems etc. much like I did in LA.

America is a great country, let’s not kid ourselves. I always have a good time there and the people are generally nice and polite. Stereotypes are blown way out of proportion, so it’s quite easy for non- Americans to take pot shots at the country and its people as if the same assholes don’t exist in their country in some form or another.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

The government takes a lot of heat, and rightfully so. Now it’s time for the American government to change its paradigm and start to work along side countries they have had dubious or mediocre relations in the past. Doesn’t mean putting up with another country’s crap, but not starting any crap of your own as well. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop the do as I say or else nonsense.

It will be interesting to see who is elected President in the U.S.. The U.S. military industrial complex needs to dial it back, that’s for sure.

One thing that was blatantly obvious while I was in America is how the cost of living has gone up in relation to Russia, and Moscow in particular. I didn’t buy half the stuff I normally do to bring back, because quite frankly it cost more in America than Russia taking the exchange rate into consideration. Yikes, what a surprise.

Moscow, normally a perennial among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world now sits at 192. New York City, San Fransisco and Washington D.C. have all cracked the top 10. I don’t think there has been a time in the last 20 years that 3 American cities have been in the top 10. Honolulu, San Jose, Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago all are in the top 30. This really has to be a first since I’ve been tracking this (since I moved to Moscow) that I have seen so many American cities rank that high.

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index

I believe the worst is over here in Russia; I’m 99% sure of it. It’s also a good time for any Westerner to visit given the exchange rate. Oil is at least moving in a positive direction for the country and the country has improved other sectors.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Western businessmen, dignitaries, and diplomats attend this year’s annual ST. Petersburg International Economic Forum after a 2-year absence. It’s quite apparent EU businesses see the Russian economy coming out of a slump and are as Putin says “chomping at the bit” to do business in Russia again. Of course they are.

These sanctions are bullshit and everyone knows this. Sanctions rarely if ever achieve their desired goals and these sanctions have taken a toll on Europe as well. Part of what the sanctions accomplished was to push the Russian’s back against the wall and force them to finally do something productive within the country. Agriculture continues to produce positive results and I see and feel it at check out counter.

America again it seems, have underestimated things with short-sighted policies.

The demise of Russia economically has been greatly exaggerated by the West. There is still a long way to go to get to the boom years of 2000-2007 and recovery is slow to be sure. As with any recession, some people suffer more than others.

Concurrently, it’s good to see Russia reach out to the West as they have done recently. Russia understands its need for the West to ensure a better future for its people. But, it must be done cooperatively, not aggressively or underhanded. I think business between Europe and Russia will start to increase sanctions or not; it’s only a matter of time.

Life is good in Moscow. Certainly not any worse than in most cities/countries. Summertime is an awesome time to be here and things are looking up. You never know about the future, but it seems there are some rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds of 2014.

My prediction is to look for Russia to show true sighs of recovery into 2017 as oil hits $60-70 with relations and business ties improving between the West and Russia.

Danchik Continue reading

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Book Review: Exceptional – Why the World Needs a Powerful America by Dick Cheney

It starts out quite interesting, actually. It walks the reader through history as Cheney sees it first, starting off with the founding fathers and the usual stuff about freedom and liberty, and he dwells on the relationship between the US and Europe in the second world war somewhat.

Reading through the lines you start to see the changes in attitude from what started out as good sound principles of freedom and liberty to what we see today (not sure he intended that to show through as clearly as it does). From what I deduced, it was somewhere between the end of the Vietnam war and the arrival of Carter as president the US started to become noticeably aggressive and interventionist abroad.

The book implies that Reagan was single handedly responsible for bringing down the Berlin wall with his Brandenburg speech. Not true.

It is an interesting read initially for the non-American as it offers an insight into *why* Americans think as they do.

What is disappointing in a way is how he described the principles the US was founded on and its early development (I suppose we all knew them anyway but they are well presented therein). He describes a country that anyone would want to live in.

What I see as an outsider (and occasional visitor), is how far wide of that mark and those intended standards the US has become, both with actions abroad and the influence of big media and business on the masses and the political decision making. But that happens anywhere.

I had no opinion on Cheney one way or another, so I can read his opinions without any particular bias against the guy. He seems to have a dim view of Obama, but then again, so do most Americans.

I was finding untruths and flawed thinking early on. The bloke is the neocon of neocons.

He seems scornful of any president who didn’t want to bail into any country, all guns blazing, at the drop of a hat. He thinks the Iraq war was a terrific idea. Obama and Clinton have had scorn. He seems to like the Bushes.

It started out well but then goes downhill rapidly with his train of thought……

Then it gives a scary insight into the neocon mind. Example: Indignation that Assad didn’t step down as Obama “instructed” him to do. Really!

About a third of it is taken up with quotes from other neocons to support his worldview, with some commentary in-between.

Then follows page after page of quotes from Obama with him trying to rip it to bits. The thing was, after reading Obama’s stuff, I am actually starting to like the bloke. I didn’t before.

Then he launches into the real out there stuff: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, etc. were all *super* ideas and they should have gone much, much further.

He thinks Russia is still the USSR, and must be hemmed in and castrated at any cost. He has similar views of China.

Then, there is page after page of what he thinks the next president should do, which basically is rule the world and start World War 3 to do it.

It rounds off with a General Cheeseburger rant about “exceptional”, greatest country in the world, apple pie on Sunday, blah blah.

I can only say its great that this old duffer was put out to grass. If one who thinks like him gets in the White House in 2016, there will be a world war for sure.

All in all it was a disturbing journey into a disturbing mindset. After reading it, I am surer than I ever was of the need to contain American aggression around the world and de-dollarise. I came out of it – unintentionally – with a new-found fondness for some of Obama’s ideas.

Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America

Should read:

Dangerous: Why the World Doesn’t Need a Powerful America Continue reading

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Russia’s Cunning Plan on Sanctions, Europe and the US.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has implemented a cunning plan in relation to Europe and their sanctions on Russia. I call it “Right back at ya – watch this!”

“Russia is finished! Sanctions from Obama and the European Union will finished the Russian economy and now it will become the poorest country in the world! Russia can not do anything to answer the West! We will all die”

So love to scream those who do not know about Putin’s cunning plan.

Europeans believed that Russia does not respond to sanctions; but Russia has. The EU will soon feel the pain as they now know that they will lose at least 12 billion euros by being Washington’s puppet.

Putin has decided to act on the principle “I will beat gently, but firmly.” The effects wont take long to be seen.

European politicians have expressed “surprise”, “confusion”, “misunderstanding” and the hope that we can somehow “get out of the logic of sanctions.”

For the European Union, Russia is a key market. The EU’s share in the Russian food imports was 42%, and for the EU, Russia was the largest consumer, after the United States.

It is significant that the European politicians console themselves in the fact that sanctions are only imposed for a year, but the Russian market can be lost forever. Therefore, the damage from the “sanctions” Putin has retaliated with will be long-term.

In addition to the direct economic effect, the Russian sanctions will create permanent political problems. It turns out that Putin has – as Russians say – generously laid out a whole constellation of buttons on the chair – and the European Union will soon think twice about imposing sanctions on Russia.

The fact is that now all the affected countries will require from the European Commission compensation for loss, and the European Commission has to then find an extra 12 billion euros a year – and it can’t.

Finland is asking already for money: Finland is worried it will slip into another economic crisis due to the fact that Russia introduced sanctions against it. The Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said, “There is the potential that it will be the economic crisis number two,” at a press conference yesterday. It’s funny that the Finnish politician immediately demanded compensation from the European Union: “It is absolutely clear. If sanctions hit Finland disproportionately, we will try to get help from our partners in the EU. he said”

With a flick of the wrist, Putin has turned a few EU countries into clones of Ukraine. They will now also lose money just for the fact that they hate Russia (or believe they should). For Ukraine, this disease has already ended badly, but Finland and other countries will be cured of it quickly.

The treatment with be with the favorite German medicine – budget austerity policy, better known as the “healing by starvation.”

Another headache for the EU is the need to somehow arrest the indirect consequences of Russian sanctions. For example, farmers are unable to repay part of the loans that they have secured via export contracts in Russia.

Some manufacturers will not be able to pay subcontractors, some will have to lay off workers – it’s creating problems; the solution of which requires money. And the most annoying is the fact that it is now or will need to accept the fact that the export potential of the EU is diminished. 10% or so is the food consumed in Russia from European exports. The EU will have to increase subsidies to European producers, so they have a chance in other markets.

The level of subsidies in the EU amounts to 30% already, and to increase it will be very expensive, and the WTO rules will not allow this. For some countries, even the increase in grants won’t help.

For example, the Minister of Agriculture of Poland has already admitted that to replace the Russian market will be extremely difficult. The Europeans do not even have options to respond in kind, because Russia does not export food to Europe.

Russia is a major exporter of grain, but does not sell it in the EU.

With the exception of certain premium goods like French wine, Italian ham and certain cheeses, all food exports from Europe are easily replaced by exports from other countries, or Russian production.

It turns out that for Russia, there is potential for growth of its own production, while for the EU losing money is guaranteed.

There is something to think about. Assessing the long-term problems that arise from the first Russian sanctions, EU bureaucrats are likely to come to the conclusion that it is much more profitable ignore Ukraine and forget about the situation there. It is very possible that such thoughts have already dawned on EU leaders.

Just a few hours after the administration of Russian sanctions, news feeds carried this message:

“We want to overcome the logic of sanctions, we want to sit down with the Russian to the table to jointly discuss further ways of development of Ukraine”, – said the spokesman of the European Commission in Germany, Austrian Richard Kuehnel, RIA “Novosti” with reference to Deutsche Welle.
Russia offered this at the beginning, but, apparently, the Europeans needed a demonstration of political will and proof that Russia can inflict pain, without even touching the gas valve.

They got the proof, and in a rather offensive manner.

One has to be very naive to believe that the Europeans would agree to suffer economic losses for Ukraine. As can be seen from the statement by Kuehnel, they can not even tolerate a couple of weeks in order to “save face” and at least pretend that they care about the problems of Ukrainians more than the problems of their own farmers.

It is possible that we will have to watch the show and it will become quite funny. Washington will put pressure on the European Union and demand the preservation and strengthening of the sanctions, or the European Union will require compensation from the United States.

Extra money, the Americans do not have now they are bombing Iraq again, and so they may be forced to run the printing presses (“quantitative easing”) this autumn for fear of completely undermining the economy.

The most likely scenario is the US and the EU will organise some kind of scheme that could pass for a “diplomatic solution to the issue”, allowing Europeans to wear the halo as peacekeepers.

Russian sanctions have freed the EU from its default feeling of invulnerability and exclusivity.

Understanding that the loss of good relations with Russia is an unaffordable luxury, will greatly help the EU to build a better relationship with Russia, in spite of pressure from Washington. Continue reading

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American “Democracy”, Russia, Ukraine and the EU.

Just ask yourself what would we do if Russia was spending billions of dollars propping up a coup in Mexico or Canada? How would we feel about them moving military weapons into adjoining nations if there were any?

Apparently this doesn’t bother the average American. That Germany is one of the members of NATO that is most supportive of the United States is totally lost on them also. The fact that 20 million Russians died dislodging the fascist German military machine, along with their Eastern European allies seems not to enter into the equation. The only predominant theme is the unrelenting propaganda coming from CNN, CBS and other mainstream media. The fact that most of what is being reported is retracted days later falls on deaf ears.

One reason I don’t write as often as I would like to is because it takes a chisel and a hammer to get things to register with most Americans. That and the fact that my writing is only carried on publications that people who already have a good grasp of what the score really is, actually read. I wish that every so often, people that don’t have an inkling of what is really happening would take a moment out of their precious, self-involved day and read what I’m trying to tell them.

Russia needs a civil war or a confrontation in Ukraine like most people need cancer. There is nothing in it for them. They sell natural gas to Ukraine and I’m sure they don’t want that income to stop. The provinces that are protesting against the people that pulled the coup in Kiev were given to Ukraine by Russia. Kerry is lying, Obama is lying and nobody seems to care. Well, after the sanctions put in place today, the deputy Russian foreign minister said that if the astronauts need replacing in the space station need transportation, perhaps they should use a trampoline. Oh, by the way, he also said that foreign energy interests in the Russian gas and oil regions may be curtailed.

Maybe that will make the people that run the American government sit up and take notice. Continue reading

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