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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Surrounding themselves with macho men

As I was looking for pictures for that post about how the Russian Duma is sexier than its American counterpart, it became apparent that Putin likes to socialize with tough, masculine men. Trump seems to be picking part of his Cabinet using the same criteria.

Putin is friendly with former heavyweight boxing champ and current Duma member Nikolai Valuev in his entourage (on far left):

Here's Putin with Russian super heavyweight wrestling champ Aleksandr Karelin:

Putin with heavyweight boxing champ Wladimir Klitschko (on left):

Putin's favorite seems to be Fedor Emelianenko, the great heavyweight mixed martial artist, seen above at right and below, next to Putin (Karelin is at far right):

Putin has attended several of Emelianenko's fights, and often gets into the ring and gives a speech afterwards:

It's easy to understand why Putin likes these men. The acromegalic Valuev looks like a movie monster, but is in fact a soft-spoken, thoughtful guy, as this interview shows.

Karelin was for many years the pride of Russia, the personification of the Russian bear.

Emelianenko is widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. He often overwhelmed larger and stronger opponents through sheer aggression, and was stoic in both victory and, toward the end of his career, in defeat. He is deeply religious, and humble. He has been married three times, but the first and third marriages were to the same woman.

It's a little harder to understand why Putin would have befriended Steven Seagal, but he has, even offering Seagal Russian citizenship recently (at Seagal's request):

It's also a little mystifying that Putin would become friends with Jean Claude Van Damme:

(Putin must like old martial arts movies. The only guys missing from his entourage are Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Norris.)

Similarly, some of Trump's Cabinet choices seemed to have been picked for their alpha qualities.

For the Department of Defense, retired Marine Corps General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, whose quotes seem to be a pretty big thing on the internet:

For National Security Advisor, retired Army General Michael Flynn:

(I'm not sure how hawkish he is, but he sure looks like a fierce bird of prey.)

For the Homeland Security post, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly:

(He could probably scare away any threats to the homeland with that scowl.)

For Secretary of the Interior, former Seal Team Six Commander Ryan Zinke:

(We need a Secretary of the Interior who can pick off those few pesky remaining buffalo with a single head shot from 500 meters.)

And for Secretary of State, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who has no military pedigree, but nonetheless exudes alpha:

Tillerson was evidently picked because of his close relationship with Putin:

Which brings us back to the two guys this post is really about, Putin and Trump. Both are aggressively heterosexual, and there's probably not even any homoeroticism involved in their choice of companions and coworkers.

It probably has more to do with that atavistic instinct to want fierce warriors on your side, which has been evolutionarily adaptive for most of the past four million years.

But most of it is probably a matter of self-image. Both Putin and Trump like to see themselves as tough guys, and they seem to feel that the machismo of their companions somehow reflects on them.

Is that silly? Of course it is. But, it's also understandable.

Putin's posse has more of a combat arts flavor, whereas Trump's team has a more military cast.

But, Putin and Trump seem predisposed toward liking each other, so it's highly unlikely the two groups would ever have a rumble.

Which is a good thing, foreign policy-wise.


Steven said...

Putin clearly tries to project a certain image but it kind of works because it does influence how people see him.

Its more than just image though. He is regarded as a formidable political player for good reason. He took control of Russia, got the oligarchs in check, brought the rampant corruption of the 90's down to 'normal levels', faced off the western powers over the Ukraine and has been pretty successful in expanding Russia's influence in the middle east.

I'm glad that Trump is inclined to be friends with Putin because I don't see any fundamental reason why the west should make an enemy of Russia. If Trump restores good relations with Russia and they defeat ISIS and end the Syrian conflict, then he's basically secured world peace. Of course, we'll have to wait and see. It could all go tits up!

John Craig said...

Steven --
There's no question Putin is a tough leader, and a ruthless one as well. And the ruthlessness can't be separated from his success. But being tough leader and being a champion martial artist are two separate things, and Putin seems to like to hang out with top fighters, as well as actors who portray that ability, which was the point of this post.

Yes, the US is far, far better off being allies with Russia. I certainly hope your vision of what happens with ISIS and Syria comes true.

Anonymous said...

"It could all go tits up."

It could. If Russia invades the Baltics, the Dems would be howling, "I told you so!"

They are going nuts on this Russia hacking thing. It's bizarre for anyone of my age who remembers the cold war. Or is that Cold War?


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Yes, Putin's been eyeing them, and also Belarus. And Georgia. What would our response be?

Hillary wanted to enforce a no fly zone over Syria, which would have put us in direct conflict with Russia. She also wanted to make the Ukraine and Georgia part of NATO. All of these moves would have put us into direct conflict with Russia. But of run to put bases, and missiles, in those countries, would be like Russia putting bases and missiles in Canada and Mexico. Would we put up with that? Of course not. So why should be do that to them?

I say, it's none of our business. Because the alternative is WWIII.

Anonymous said...

Wladimir Klitschko is engaged to the actress, Hayden Panettiere. I learned that he has a brother, Vitali Klitschko, also a former boxer and currently mayor of Kiev. Both brothers are very masculine looking.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Yes, Vitali was at one point in the running for President of the Ukraine. I wrote about the brothers here:

GT said...

High ranking former military and CEO's, wonder how many sociopaths are now on Trumps team? I think Trump just interviewed Carly Fiorina also. Can Trump, as a narcissist, spot a sociopath?

John Craig said...

GT --
Good question. I wonder too. I'd imagine Trump has a pretty good feel for people, even though he probably isn't well versed in all the literature on sociopathy. I think at this point he's more concerned with just having a strong, capable team. I also think it's important to him to present a strong, formidable face to the world, and so far his team looks more formidable than friendly.

I hadn't heard he'd interviewed Fiorina, that's interesting; I wonder what she's being considered for. There's a certain Machiavellianism to Trump, the way he's been interviewing so many of the people who were so vocal in criticizing him during the primaries and even during the general election: Romney, Cruz, and now Fiorina. He's even appointed a couple people to his Cabinet who weren't supporters of his during the primaries, most notably Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, and Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. It's as if he wants to mute them. He know that once he's met them, once they've walked the gantlet at Trump Tower and retreated from their formerly critical stances about him in front of the media, they'll be far more inhibited about criticizing him in the future.

Anyway, I'm getting away from your question: is he aware that some of the people he's interviewing and appointing are sociopaths? He probably has some sense; but keep in mind, if a person isn't a major public figure, or done something really outrageous, you have to observe them over a fairly extend period of time before you can make that judgment.

GT said...
"On Monday, the former CEO and GOP presidential contender went to midtown Manhattan to meet with Trump, who is reportedly considering her for director of national intelligence."

Agree on Trump bringing in old rivals - The expression of Romney's face when this picture was taken is priceless. Looks like he just got busted on a date with the most unpopular girl is school

John Craig said...

GT --
Yes, after getting your comment I looked Fiorina up, saw she had met with him on Monday. Can't say I'm wild about all the hawks he seems to be cultivating of this administration. One of the more appealing things about him had been that he hadn't seemed like a warmonger, unlike some of his primary rivals. He just wants to dispose of ISIS, and get down to the business of business.

Ha, yeah, Romney definitely looks uncomfortable, whereas Trump is wearing a devilish grin.

Rifleman said...

The Happy Gangster! LOL.

Putin on Boris Nemtsov murder

Rifleman said...

The Putin video was fake but funny.

Here's Putin's comments on the killing.

And then there's THIS.

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
No question, Putin is a ruthless strongman. I'm pretty sure he stole the last election, too.

I was surprised how, in that video, the entire audience would laugh at Putin's jokes when it was pretty obvious he was lying. "Being a dissident is an unhealthy occupation and I wouldn't recommend it." He wouldn't get away with that kind of stuff in the West.

John Craig said...

Rifleman --
I fell for it -- I guess I trusted you too much.....

Yes, I guess Putin said what he had to. In truth, he may not have ordered the killing directly, it could well have been one of his fairly high up supporters in the Kremlin.

Anonymous said...


Perhaps we are misunderstanding each other. I agree that if Putin moves into the Baltics, we should hold our fire. Not worth one American life. I'm simply pointing out that if this happens, the Democrats will be literally howling for Trump's scalp, and sadly, a lot of Republicans will go along with the program.

It'll be "who lost China?" all over again, in the Internet age. Remember that one? Looking back, it was all madness. No one lost China, it went Commie for reasons of its own. This seems to be an American illness, far predating the neocons. (Again: not defending the neocons, just saying that they aren't the first insane busybodies to infest the US body politic.)


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Just checked, I had a typo in my last reply to you which made my response a little nonsensical ("of run" was meant to be, "for us"), but I agree: if Russia wants to take the former SSR's back, it's not worth one American life. And yes, for some reason, the Dems are extremely antagonistic to Russia now. Probably because they finally realize that Putin, despite being a former communist, does not subscribe to their pc nonsense, and deals with the Muslim uprisings in his own country with a firm hand. His loyalty is to his own people, the Russian people, which is to say, white people, and the Dems of course hate that. They believe that every other race should display solidarity, but not whites. And I think that explains much of the current antipathy and the current NATO buildup along the Russian border. I hope Trump dismantles that buildup.

People sure have forgotten Obama's hot mike moment with Medvedev: "After the election I'll have more flexibility." It's never been satisfactorily explained exactly what Obama meant by that.

And yes, agree, we didn't "lose" China unless you feel that we should be the world's policeman.