Vladimir Putin Calls Donald Trump Brilliant, Flamboyant, Lively, Colorful, Outstanding….Um, What?

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The opening line of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground is “I am a sick man…a spiteful man.” Or is it? I once read a fascinating introduction to Dostoyevsky’s famous novella that began by collecting a dozen different translations of that line, all of them suggesting a slightly different meaning. So what did Dostoyevsky really mean? It may be impossible to say for sure in English.

That’s how I feel today, reading the news that Vladimir Putin praised Donald Trump at a news conference. Here are eight different translations of Putin’s remarks:

He is a brilliant and talented person without a doubt…

He is a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt…

He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt…

He’s a very colorful person. Talented, without any doubt…

He is a standout, talented person, without any doubt

He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it…

He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that…

He’s a very lively man, talented without doubt…

Needless to say, these are very different things. “Outstanding” suggests that Putin thinks well of Trump. “Bright” suggests a more neutral assessment. And “flamboyant” and “lively” suggest that he thinks Trump is a blowhard.

So what did Putin really say? Beats me. But video of his remarks is above for anyone who wants to provide a deeper analysis of Putin’s word choice and what it really means in Russian.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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