Archive for the 'Russia' Category

13
Aug
11

Certain ‘progressive’ authoritarian tendencies pt. 2

Reuters reports on things that wouldn’t need to be said, but for those tres chic leftists:

Berlin’s mayor said on Saturday he was appalled that some Germans were nostalgic for the Berlin Wall and supported a newly fashionable leftist view that there were legitimate reasons for building it in 1961.

At a somber ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s construction, Mayor Klaus Wowereit, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff paid tribute to the 136 people killed trying to get over the Wall to West Berlin.

Wowereit said the Wall, toppled in 1989, should serve as a reminder of freedom and democracy around the world. Church bells peeled while trains and traffic came to a standstill at noon across Berlin for a moment of silence for the victims.

“We don’t have any tolerance for those who nostalgically distort the history of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s division,” Wowereit said at the ceremony in front of a small section of the Wall recently rebuilt for posterity.

“The Wall was part of a dictatorship,” he said. “And it’s alarming that even today some people argue there were good reasons to build the Wall. No! There’s no legitimate reason nor justification for violating human rights and for killings.”

17
Feb
11

Musing on Geography

Glancing through the statistics for Guns, Germs, and Blogs, I noticed something strange. We got a visitor from St. Petersburg, Russia (здравствуйте!) recently, and this locational information was included in the logs:

Location
Continent : Asia
Country : Russian Federation
State/Region : Saint Petersburg City
City : Saint Petersburg
Lat/Long : 59.8944, 30.2642

What struck me was the entry on the “continent” line: Asia.

Continue reading ‘Musing on Geography’

10
Jan
11

Communist Joke of the Day

Q: Why is it not possible to control the birth rate is Soviet Bloc countries?

A: Because the means of production remain in private hands.

Bonus Soviet Joke About Nazis

Q: Do you know the difference between a bucket of manure and a Nazi?

A: The bucket.

22
Dec
10

“They Meant Well, After All…”

Man, just when I get done yammering about Hugo Chavez and digging up another hilarious joke from the former Soviet Union, I go and check the BBC to find this news:

The European Commission has rebuffed a call from several former Soviet bloc countries for the EU to legislate against the condoning or denial of totalitarian crimes.

[…]

Last week Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis sent a letter to the Commission seeking to criminalise the approval, denial or belittling of communist crimes. He was supported by the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Romania.

Continue reading ‘“They Meant Well, After All…”’

21
Dec
10

Communist Joke of the Day

Three prisoners are sitting together in a GULAG barracks in Siberia. They start talking to one another about why they were deported.

The first one says, “I’m here because I always arrived to work 45 minutes late, so they convicted me of sabotage.”

The second one says, “That’s strange, since I’m here because I always arrived to work 45 minutes early, so they convicted me of spying.”

The third one shakes his head and says,  “Well, I’m in because I showed up to work on time every day.  That’s how they they found out I was wearing a contraband watch from the West.”

20
Dec
10

STARTing to Look a Little Stupid

While it hasn’t been grabbing as many headlines as Julian Assange, you might’ve heard about the ongoing battles in Congress regarding what to do with the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. And really, if you’ve been paying attention, you might be led to believe that this treaty was somehow important. The thing is, it really isn’t. As Cathy Young wrote in Reason a couple weeks ago, the whole thing is a bit of a Cold War relic:

Despite Russia’s recent warnings that failure to ratify the treaty could lead to a new arms race, the simple fact is that the U.S.-Russian nuclear rivalry is not nearly as important or as menacing as it used to be. Russia is no longer a superpower, or a putative ideological competitor to the West. It is a regional power that has to scramble for even local dominance, and that commands far more clout through the strategic use of its oil and gas reserves than through strategic nuclear arms. In the 21st Century, our anxieties about nuclear weapons are focused on small rogue states and stateless terrorists, not on the Kremlin and its missiles.

Even during the Cold War era, arms reduction talks and treaties were little more than a ritual dance whose primary value was symbolic: to show that the two nuclear superpowers were negotiating, compromising, and trying to avoid confrontation…

“Ritual dance” sounds about right. New START negotiations are, at this point, purely symbolic. The treaty reduces each state’s stockpiles by 30%. What’s left is still more than enough to completely destroy the world. But then, that’s not really a worry these days, since there is no reason that Russia or the US would attack the other with nuclear weapons circa 2010. What the treaty does is give President Obama some excuse to talk about how the so-called “reset” with Russia is working and lets him point to a “success” in his asinine crusade for a “nuclear-free world.”

Perhaps more importantly, it gives Russia an excuse to sit at the bargaining table with the US as something resembling an equal, a status that it ceased to enjoy back in 1992.

But if the Russians are still stuck in the Cold War, so too, it seems, are many conservatives, who seem to think that ratifying START somehow jeopardizes American security or encourages the criminality of the Russian government, or… well, something or other… Frankly, I can’t quite understand what the big deal is. If it fails to pass, the Russians will huff and puff and go do whatever they please and the world will continue to spin. If it passes, the Russians will have a minor, meaningless victory… and go back to doing whatever they please and the world will continue to spin. Whether or not a new START treaty is ratified at this point has all the import of the question “do you want room for cream in that?” when you’re ordering a cup of coffee.

To quote Young again:

It now seems that, with the help of some cooperative Republicans, START may win passage after all. This will not be a calamity. But the failure to pass it would not have been particularly calamitous, either—and its victory in Congress will not be the achievement the Obama Administration will undoubtedly tout.

Much ado about nothing.

20
Dec
10

In Soviet Russia … wait, what?

Man, you guys can’t even do a good ol’ fashioned political arrest anymore.

I wanted to embed the video, but WordPress blah blah blah. It’s funny. Trust me.