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Comment: Re:So! The game is rigged! (Score 1) 263

by shutdown -p now (#47563479) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

You might need to apply for a crappy card at first if you really have NO history

Getting a credit card with no history whatsoever might be tricky unless you're really young. But even in that case, pretty much any bank will happily give you a credit card if you place a security deposit with them (the credit limit will then be tied to the amount of said deposit). That still counts as credit and lets you build up credit score - and eventually they will release the deposit. I had to resort to that when I moved into US from another country - given my age and employment, combined with the complete and utter lack of any credit score records whatsoever, that's the only arrangement that I could find. I got my security deposit back on the second year of using the card, and started getting more card offers from other banks at about the same time, which I assume coincides with crossing some threshold on the credit score.

Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 561

by shutdown -p now (#47561389) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

They already have to include non-Slavs, though. Remember that Russia is like 10-15% Muslim (depending on who you ask), and most of these are non-Slavs. Then of course you have a bunch of other guys like Yakuts or Buryats.

The overarching ideology is actually Eurasianism; Russians are seen as the "core nation" in that model, the one that binds everyone else together around it. Not dissimilar to how Stalin described USSR after WW2.

Comment: Re:Weakest Russia ever (Score 1) 561

by shutdown -p now (#47559835) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

You still missed the point, sorry :)

What I was saying is that your premise - "if he crashes the economy his country is no longer a threat to the world" - is incorrect. For one thing, it's always tempting to "fix" the crashed economy by going to war. But even if it doesn't actually fix it, it can be that last "okay, if we're going down, you're going down with us" sort of gesture. Yes, a country with a ruined economy won't be able to wage a protracted war, but it doesn't need to do so to make others hurt, and the bombs and the missiles won't magically disappear. Nor will the manpower - and said manpower is only going to be more desperate and therefore (with the right coaching) more angry.

Now, as to why I believe that such a war would work to bolster inner popularity. The trick, of course, is to present it in such a manner that the war is declared on you. Russian TV has already been quite successful at spinning things that way about Ukraine - a recent poll showed that 94% of Russians get their news primarily from TV channels (all of which are now state-run or indirectly state-controlled), and 75% believe that its coverage is truthful and objective. Only 25% believe that "propaganda" is an apt description for what they're seeing.

So, really, all Putin needs to do to escalate to war is to keep provoking the West, and then blowing up any responses as something big. And heck, there are tried and proven methods to get a decent casus belli when the time comes - see Mainila incident for an example. After all the crazy conspiracy theories that are eagerly accepted for granted in Russia (by the population, not by politicians!) just to be able to preserve the "we are the good guys" mentality... something like that would be swallowed very easily.

And yes, the "patriotic" fervor in Russia today is such that, with the right sugar-coating, the population will happily swallow the war pill. If they are explained that all economic woes are due to Western shenanigans (and the occasional spy/saboteur - for the sake of some public circus).

Hell, they are already clamoring for war, seemingly more so than the government itself. Did you see #PutinVvediVoiska ("Putin, move the armed forces in!" [to Ukraine]) Twitter hashtag? It's only growing in popularity as more sanctions come in. Then there's another thing where people are mocking the sanctions themselves - that is also going pretty strong.

Comment: Re:Weakest Russia ever (Score 1) 561

by shutdown -p now (#47547387) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Oh, and the other aspect of it is who is going to come to power if Putin steps away. If you asked me that question in 2011, I still had hopes that pro-western liberals had a chance (at least in a coalition with moderate nationalists). Now, though, I'd say that the people who will use the opportunity will be the ones like Strelkov and Borodai - and Putin will be a sane angel in comparison.

In fact, given that there is seemingly some bickering between Kremlin and DNR/LNR leaders, I would say that the most likely (as in, more likely than anything else - still rather unlikely in general) possibility of Putin being ousted at this point is if Strelkov and his guard escape Ukrainian forces, cross the border to Russia, and announce that they're heading for Moscow to punish the traitors who backstabbed them. There's already plenty of talk going around about how Putin is "betraying the Russian Spring" by refusing to commit full support to the rebels. If a charismatic figure like Strelkov would formally voice such a complaint, and have several thousand battle-hardened fighters standing behind him, I honestly don't know how that would go - except that there would be a rush of volunteers (from extreme nationalists, monarchists, maybe even some Stalinist-type communists) to his ranks.

Comment: Re:Weakest Russia ever (Score 1) 561

by shutdown -p now (#47547377) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

You missed the point. It will not take 2 or 5 or 10 years to get rid of him. If the economy crashes now (or in 5 years), he'll just blame the West (cuz sanctions), and will use it as an excuse to crack down on the "fifth column" and the "national traitors", that he already identified as the enemies in his speech earlier this year, even more. If it gets really tight, why, time for another war, nothing like some shooting to make sure people don't grumble too much about rising prices and lack of goods. Georgia, perhaps?

Comment: Re:Weakest Russia ever (Score 3, Informative) 561

by shutdown -p now (#47546305) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

The problem with economic sanctions is that they, ironically, work to solidify Putin's power hold.

The original reason for strong popular support behind Putin was that he oversaw a decade of steady economic growth. For many people in Russia, it was the time where they saw their lives change from borderline poverty to something reasonable. It can be argued that he is not the one to take credit, and that it's all due to high oil prices etc, but either way he got to reap the benefits. It's also what triggered the entire "imperial revival" mentality: people see that their country is more prosperous, therefore it is stronger, therefore it is time to remember the old squabbles.

Now, Russian economy was already in recession as it is, and likely one from which it will not require. The sanctions will undeniably accelerate it, but at the same time they give Putin and his clique the ultimate excuse with respect to anything bad that happens with the economy: "Americans did it". Thus, all the rage will be channeled overseas, instead of the people in charge. And if economy does collapse, what you have now is a country of 140 million, raging, armed to teeth, with a history of willing and able to pile up the bodies two to one (and even higher) to win. Oh, and with nukes.

I strongly suspect that, if the sanctions are ultimately successful, the immediate consequence will be the full-on ground invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Not the present proxy war with subtle aid here and there, but Russian tanks on the streets of Kiev, that kind of thing.

If the West really wants to help Ukraine, it needs to give it direct military assistance.

Comment: Re: Transparency (Score 1) 139

I do know a few right-wingers who discussed the subject even back in Bush days, long before Obama. For example, Matthew Bracken, who wrote "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" (it's basically a right-wing propaganda piece, with central theme being the govt cracking down on gun owners, but it also directly touches on surveillance and police militarization, and the use of terrorism as a pretext to curtail civil liberties; as I recall, it specifically mentions the PATRIOT Act). That book was written in 2003, back when Bush's reign was seen as uncontested, so effectively it targeted that administration.

You can also look at the Pauls. Say what you like about them, but they have been very consistent in arguing against all these things, and Rand at least counts himself as Tea Party affiliated (though many people in that movement would probably dislike him).

OTOH, yes, you also have large quantities of "I'm not racist, but why is he black?" guys there too, for whom it's just the convenient excuse of the day. But they're not all there is to it.

Comment: Re: Transparency (Score 1) 139

Tea Party is a minority among right-wingers, but it's also the one that is most strongly pro-gun, and also the one that's most consistently emphasizing the "right to armed uprising". Mainstream Republicans are rather averse to such rhetoric (the politicians are another matter when they're pandering to electorate - they know that being seen as "pro-gun" will win them some fringe votes, but won't spook the mainstream enough to cost them more, especially when the other option is a Democrat).

Comment: Re:we doing it all wrong... (Score 1) 125

with a place like saudi arabia and all the bloody religious fanatic countries the ONLY thing we should export are BOOKS...books and fucking books again. And THEN after everyone damn reads them all and LEARN

What makes you think that Saudi Arabia would permit the kinds of books from which people might learn such things?

Remember how it went? "If these books contradict the Holy Qu'ran, then they are blasphemy - burn them. If these books are in agreement with the Holy Qu'ran, then they are superfluous - burn them."

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