Congressman Zinke Becomes Vladimir Putin’s Number One Fan Boy

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It should hardly surprise anyone that Congressman Ryan Zinke seems drawn to egomaniacal, self-promoting autocrats, but even I, as one of Zinke’s harshest critics, was taken aback today when I read that he not only agrees with Donald Trump that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama, but that he cited his invasions of a neighboring country as evidence to support his position. From the Washington Times today:

The former SEAL Team Six team leader cited Mr. Putin’s successes annexing Crimea, spreading Russian influence in Ukraine and planting the Russian flag at the North Pole, claiming sovereignty over a large portion of the Arctic Ocean.

I define effective leadership and success a bit differently than Congressman Zinke.

Putin has not been more “effective.” He’s been a tyrant. He’s ruled over Russia with no meaningful opposition, going so far as to murder some political opponents and imprison others for the crime of dissent. This Human Rights Watch report details a leader who has cracked down on free speech, permitted horrific abuses against the LGBTQ community, imposed a security law that makes the Patriot Act look like a defense of civil liberties, and turned Russian into an inward-looking imperial power that threatens its neighbors.

After praising Putin, Zinke offered the caveat that he doesn’t approve of Putin because “he’s a tyrant,” as if he doesn’t understand that Putin is able to do whatever he wants because he is a tyrant. He can pass whatever legislation he wants because there is no opposition party, and certainly no party more interested in destroying a President than working on meaningful legislation. President Obama, who has been a remarkably effective President, despite the kind of childish obstructionism that Congressman Zinke represents, has been able to pass an agenda through legal means, not brutal repression and fear.

And it’s troubling that a member of Congress, especially one who fancies himself a geopolitical expert, seems just so taken with authoritarian action.

But Zinke’s absurdity doesn’t end there, because he runs around claiming that President Obama is a tyrant. In January, he claimed that President Obama had a “tyrannical record, but it should still worry every American who values their rights and liberties – whether that be the right to free speech, free press, privacy, protection from illegal search and seizure, or any other enshrined in the Constitution. Barack Obama is the president, not the king.”

The idea that President Obama is a tyrant is laughable, but it’s especially ridiculous for the Congressman to claim, given that he’s endorsing the actions of a tyrant in Russia, praising his effective leadership.

And in the event you think this is an example of a partisan blogger taking Zinke out of context, it’s worth noting that this is hardly the first time he’s praised Putin. Who can forget his calling Putin “masterful” in 2013 or his lie that the Russian military was doing more to bring a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict?

Of course, it’s not just Putin. Just this summer, Zinke also praised another tyrant for his efficacy as a leader, when he praised Saddam Hussein’s lawless, authoritarian, murderous, torturing strategy to combat terrorism.

Congressman Zinke is already running ads about his service in the military, touting his work to protect American freedoms. Don’t those start to ring a bit hollow when he repeatedly defends authoritarians?

Is it now finally time for the Montana press to cover this? To deal with Zinke’s calls to invade other countries, his penchant for supporting tyrants, his endorsement of torture? I’m afraid I already know the answer.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

34 Comments

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  • So Denise Juneau is our best choice as a High School teacher for 3 years, specialist at the Montana Office of Public Instruction for 3 years, attorney and law clerk for 2 years, division administrator at the Office of Public Instruction for 2 years, and now Superintendent of Public Instruction. Bachelor’s Degree in English, PHD never completed, and Juneau confirmed she had twice been arrested for driving under the influence while a college student. For Montanans I don’t believe this is a Republican or Democrat issue.

    • Zinke may know who they are but their entire backgrounds and motivations? Hussein is a moot point, being dead, but who really knows Putin’s motivation? Maybe some oligarchs …

  • Trump and Zinke are aware of the Mr. Putin’s successes annexing Crimea, spreading Russian influence in Ukraine and planting the Russian flag at the North Pole, unlike the old state department and current administration which they have done noting about these actions. They do not condone this as many seem to twist their words.

    At lease the voters are now aware of these issue. Would you please pass this on to Ms. Juneau.

      • “In other words, any reporting or commenting on significant foreign policy issues could open a journalist or a citizen to a U.S. government investigation into whether you are part of some nefarious Russian propaganda/disinformation scheme.

        This McCarthyistic investigative style has already begun to have a chilling effect on public debate in the United States where dissident views on Russia, Syria or other hot topics are quickly disparaged as enemy propaganda. Almost anyone who questions whether a new, costly and dangerous Cold War is necessary is immediately tagged as a “Russian agent of influence,” a “Putin apologist,” or a “Moscow stooge.”

        In this case, the Democrats have been particularly aggressive in playing the Joe McCarthy role by denouncing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in such overheated terms, even suggesting his disloyalty for suggesting that he could, as President, get along with Putin.”

        https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/07/new-york-times-and-the-new-mccarthyism/

        • Let me see if I understand your position. It’s McCarthyism to call out American political leaders who praise the efficacy of an autocrat who brutalizes his own people?

          Interesting point of view.

          • Or maybe we can communicate, work out and/or set terms, futher understand their motivations, and collaborate to fight the Jihadists rather than to do nothing and criticize. Good job Sparkie45.

          • It’s not my point of view, but I agree with it. Did you read the article (unless you’re a remarkable speed reader, the article is over 3,500 words, and you replied to my comment in 6 minutes)?

            The author’s premise clearly demonstrates that democrats (like you) use neo-McCarthyist tactics to demagogue political rivals and people who dissent with their (your) militarist and nationalistic views. Your anti-Putin diatribe above, when used to attack any who don’t agree with you and your politics is classic neo-McCarthyism

            • Actually, I am a speed reader. Thanks for asking.

              The author’s premise is absurd. To argue that it is Democrats who present nationalist and militaristic views is patently absurd. How many countries has Congressman Zinke called for an invasion of in just the past three years, for instance?

              The information I presented about Putin is factually accurate. Do you care to dispute any of it? That he silences the press, imprisons and even kills rivals, has invaded neighboring countries?

              Those are all true. To defend those acts as “effective leadership” is to defend authoritarianism.

              • Let’s see, Robert Parry is an investigative journalist with over 30 years experience, who won the George Polk Award for covering the Iran-Contra affair.

                Last year he won the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation “for his career distinguished by meticulously researched investigations, intrepid questioning, and reporting that has challenged mainstream media” (Wikipedia).

                I think I’ll defer to Parry’s expertise in this matter as speed reading can lead to slow learning. Your continued insistence that your opinion allows you the privilege to lambast people for their views on Russia and now me just cements my opinion that you are a neo-McCarthyist.

                • I think repeating your claim a third time really sells it. Just to be clear, you don’t think it’s true that Putin uses violence to silence critics? You don’t think it’s true that he invaded Crimea and undermined the government in Ukraine? You don’t think he allows violent repression against the LGBTQ community in Russia?

                  If you can’t accept facts, there’s no possible debate. But remind me that liberals are all neo-McCarthyists again, because somehow that’s an argument.

                • You insistence that your opinions based on propaganda are facts, and continued attacking me validates my point. Nowhere did I say all liberals are neo-McCarthyists. I just said that you are. And this comment thread validates Parry’s assertion, and my concurrence. As it is obvious that you are impervious to debating what you assert are “facts” when they are actually just propaganda attests to the depth of your red-baiting here.

                  For the record:
                  1) There is much propaganda about Putin using violence to silence critics, but little evidence; on the contrary there is much speculation and much evidence that Obama (his kill list of U.S. citizens and others for instance) and other U.S. presidents (NSA, CIA, State depts, etc. included) have used violence to silence many, many critics
                  2) Putin did not invade Crimea, Russia already had an agreement with Ukraine for its base at Sebastopol and for 10s of thousands of soldiers to be there; conversely it was the U.S. through the actions of the State Dept. and CIA that destabilized Ukraine by instigating the coup, oh, and the Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to be accepted back into Russia — their historical homeland — to be protected from the Ukrainian nazis
                  3) I don’t think Russia has sanctioned violence against minority communities any more than the U.S. allows violence to occur against minority communities. Look at all the police violence against blacks, dogs used on native americans, unequal justice against rapists and drug offenders and illegal immigrants, failure to prosecute violence for crimes against lgbtq individuals, and on and on. America’s hands are as dirty, if not moreso than Russia’s in this category.

                  But keep on believing the propaganda, and following your neo-McCarthyists ways with your proclamations and lambasts. That’s becoming the new way for many democrats, as Parry so well illustrated. And have a nice day. This has become repetitive and unproductive to debate with you. You may have the last word.

  • Zinke is yet another Putin ‘Poodle’ being played…as a military professional Zinke should KNOW when his MENTOR Trump is being ‘Played’ by an experience KGB Colonel and tyrant!

  • UH oh! Looks as if Slinky the Barking Seal (and Putin’s puta) is ALSO unfit for office! Geez, Slinky the Puty’s puta, and Puty Puta himself. What a pair!

    But lest we forget, Slinky ALSO chose Baldy Livingscam as his running mate for guv., the creep who claimed to have his “own CIA”! Hmm. Wonder what Baldy Livingscam, Slinky, an Puty puta have been doing behind closed doors!

    This is frickning beyond belief. If we had a REAL friggin’ press in Montana besides that moron ecke at the Spitoon and the ridiculous baldheaded buffoon from back east, philly cheesey blake, this MIGHT make into the news!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/former-cia-director-trump-can-not-credibly-serve-as-president_us_57d45d03e4b03d2d459ac8ab

    • p.s. And what MOST folks don’t know is that beyond normal SEAL training, there is an advanced course for guys like Slinky the Barking Seal. It’s called getting to know brutal tyrants up close and personal. Oh sure, it’s kinda like hell week, but I heard that Slinky actually kinda LIKED it. It’s brutal, it’s honest, it’s tough, and it’s ONLY for guys like Slinky who played just a wee bit too much football without a helmet. What’s it called you ask? Well, it’s called Squeal like a seal week! And I’m told that Slinky excelled. Thus, his close relationship as Puty’s puta! Enjoy. Slinky did! (I heard he requested a refresher course!)

  • Sumthin’ REAL strange goin’ on with Slinky the Barking Seal and Drumpf, and it looks for all the world to be treasonous. Since when do a couple of buffoons like these two get make foreign policy decisions all by themselves? And based upon what? The recommendations of Slinky’s lil’ buddy, the guy that claimed to have his OWN CIA? Weird, very weird.

    I wish the press would maybe investigate a little more the background and relationship between Slinky and the dude with his own CIA. I think that we would then begin to get some answers as to just where Slinky is coming from. I mean, really, his OWN cia? Yeah right! WHY did Slinky pick this dude to be his running mate for guv? Outta the blue? I don’t think so.

    Scary times.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/morell-and-vickers-an-open-letter-to-donald-trump/2016/09/10/1af395dc-776b-11e6-be4f-3f42f2e5a49e_story.html?utm_term=.4b9b5ec61190

  • 76 years is apparently plenty long enough for many Montanans to forget our history. Each day Mr. Zinke spends on his Congressional soapbox praising Putin is another day we as Montanans look as foolish as when we were represented by Jacob Thorkelson.

    Simply replace anti-Semitic rhetoric with the same against Muslims and you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • I am absolutely astounded, more like appalled, at the childish ignorance being spewed! Anyone who thinks that Mr BO has done an excellent job in “leading” this country obviously still has their head in the sand. But if that’s your comfort zone, you’re certainly at liberty to stay there.

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