Archive for the 'Russia' Category



19
Dec
10

Communist Joke of the Day

Q: Why isn’t there any flour for sale?

A: Because they started adding it to bread.

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14
Dec
10

More Neo-Nazis at Wikileaks [updated]

A few days ago I mentioned that one of the major figures in Wikileaks, Birgitta Jonsdottir, in addition to apparently goading on some of the “Anonymous” cyber-attacks we’ve seen over the last few days, was also linked to 9/11 “Truth” organizations, lunatics like David Icke, and even neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.

Turns out she’s not the only one. Harry’s Place and Reason are both reporting that one so-called “Israel Shamir,” a well-known Swedish neo-Nazi and anti-Semite posing as an Israeli writer, as well as his equally notorious son, are the so-called “Gatekeepers” for Wikileaks in large parts of Northern Europe. That is to say it is they who get to decide what gets published and who gets to publish it. This is what Harry’s Place has to say:

Here’s the specific problem. “Shamir” is a liar and a racist. So is his son. Both are responsible for feeding Wikileaks stories to the press. Some of the stories given to the Russian press, apparently, are fakes.

[…]

What we’re seeing, instead, is material being taken from liberal democracies which, because they are open societies, are particularly vulnerable to leaking. It is then being peddled by two Nazis to Russia: one of whom may not simply be selecting who gets to see what, but may be making things up too.

As Reason’s Michael Moynihan puts it:

So let’s treat the WikiLeaks organization like the journalists they insist they are, and ask the question put forward by Novaya Gazeta reporter Yulia Latynina: Out of all the competent journalists who are sympathetic to the WikiLeaks mission, why have Wahlström and Shamir—one a disgraced journalist, the other an extreme racist—been trusted with the largest intelligence leak in history?

Good question.

[update]

I’m not sure which is worse: neo-Nazis working for Wikileaks or Michael Moore involving himself in the whole fiasco:

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that’s the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you’re up to. You simply can’t be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now.

Remember what I wrote the other day about people suddenly jumping on all this “open and transparent government” business as a smokescreen for their own agendas? I mean, does anyone on earth believe Michael Moore gives half a fuckload about open government? After all, when he isn’t bloviating about Iraq, he’s advocating creating massive government bureaucracies and stumping for corrupt Democratic Machine politicians like Barack Obama (who, Moore seems to have forgotten, got exposed by Wikileaks for trading access for Guantanamo inmates).

Oh, and then there’s this:

And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

What’s that old phrase that got bandied about so often during the Bush years about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel, again?

Michael Moore is welcome to go around throwing tens of thousands of dollars at whatever cause he pleases. But that doesn’t make him any less a cynical glory hound. And don’t for a minute fool yourself into thinking he cares about open, responsible, democratic government. His voting record alone proves that, despite raking in money hand over fist by playing the populist, he’s mostly just interested in making sure his faction runs the plutocracy.

And if you’re in the mood to die a little bit inside, just read the comments thread under Moore’s piece.

11
Dec
10

Quote of the Day

“Those who drink vodka, who smoke — they help out the state more. if you smoke a pack of cigarettes — it means you contribute more money to solving social problems.”

— Russian Finance Minister Andrei Makarov

If one accepts this logic, then it would seem that all these little twerps who’re preening about “clean air” and banning smoking at the UO are actually just perpetuating social injustice by trying to end smoking and thereby depriving the state of much needed tax dollars while simultaneously demanding the state actually spend more money on health care and “assistance” for people trying to quit smoking.

Maybe, instead of clamoring for Obama to levy an envy tax on the rich, these little statists could just take up smoking.

09
Dec
10

In Soviet Russia, Muck Rakes You

In what could be a grand moment in cognitive dissonance, or perhaps just a brazenly bold attempt to be dickish, Russia has suggested that Julian Assange be nominated for a Nobel prize for his efforts in muck-raking. From The Guardian:

“Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him,” the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev’s office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: “Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate.”

[…]Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s hardline ultra-nationalist ambassador to Nato, also today voiced his support for the embattled Assange. He tweeted that Assange’s arrest and incarceration on Monday at the City of Westminster magistrates’ court demonstrated that there was “no media freedom” in the west. Assange’s “fate” amounted to “political persecution” and a lack of human rights, the ambassador said.

In completely unrelated news, sometimes investigative journalists in Russia mysteriously disappear or are shot. Putin was unavailable for comment as he was busy loading a large, rolled-up blanket into his jeep and had to “take care of some business.”

03
Dec
10

Wikileaks, the Caucasus, and the New York Times

What a difference a Wikileak can make.

As it turns out, I have a certain small fascination with the Caucasus, especially Georgia. It has therefore not been without some interest that I have been reading about some of the documents released by Wikileaks pertaining to the so-called “Five Day War” between Russia and Georgia.

Some, including the analysts at Eurasianet, have suggested that cables from American diplomats in Tbilisi bolster the Georgian government’s contentious claim that it was Russia (or their South Ossetian proxy) that started the fighting in August of 2008.

Sadly, the Wikileaks documents do little to clear up matters.

This New York Times article, by one C.J. Chivers, a journalist and former Marine Corps officer who seems to have some experience covering events in the former Soviet Union (Beslan and Andijan, specifically), argues precisely the opposite, maintaining that American diplomats in Georgia were so dazzled by Saakashvili that, “as the region slipped toward war, sources outside the Georgian government were played down or not included in important cables.”

Well, maybe.

But I maintain that this ongoing squabbling about “who shot first” is, ultimately, a pointless exercise. To embark on a search for “original sin” in Georgia is to dive headlong into a rabbit hole that leads to questionable Russian “peacekeeping” missions, flagrantly illegal passportization schemes, post-Soviet geopolitical thinking, ethno-territorial violence, and Soviet nationality policy, to name but a few factors that led quite directly to what transpired in 2008. If you want my opinion, the answer to “who shot first?” is “the Bolsheviks in 1921.” But I digress.

My point is that that the notion that the Times can castigate American diplomats for “relying on one-sided information” while uncritically repeating verbatim the Russian government’s version of the story — completely shorn of any context (*cough* passportization *cough*) — and describe the territorial dismemberment of a former Soviet Republic in direct violation of numerous international law, not the least of which is the Helsinki Final Act (which, among other things, asserts the inviolability of frontiers and the territorial integrity of states) — as, and I quote, “a more stable cease-fire,” utterly defies belief.

By most accounts, Mr. Chivers has written ably about the role of the AK-47 in modern conflicts. Given his apparently limited and uncritical understandings of the subject, however, one might suggest that in the future he should perhaps content himself with discussing the implements, rather than the politics of warfare.

03
Dec
10

Cablegate Roulette

The Atlantic created a nifty little site that loads random diplomat cables from the latest WikiLeaks dump. A perusal of random posts seems to confirm what the rest of the Internet says about the dump — that the info is interesting primarily as gossip-fodder. Two samples, the last of which is about Nicolas Sarkozy chasing a dog chasing a rabbit:

FROM: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: AUGUST 6, 2006
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL
SEE FULL CABLE

Gadzhi has cashed in the social capital he made from nationalism, translating it into financial and political capital — as head of Dagestan’s state oil company and as the single-mandate representative for Makhachkala in Russia’s State Duma. His dealings in the oil business — including close cooperation with U.S. firms — have left him well off enough to afford luxurious houses in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Moscow, Paris and San Diego; and a large collection of luxury automobiles, including the Rolls Royce Silver Phantom in which Dalgat fetched Aida from her parents’ reception. (Gadzhi gave us a lift in the Rolls once in Moscow, but the legroom was somewhat constricted by the presence of a Kalashnikov carbine at our feet. Gadzhi has survived numerous assassination attempts, as have most of the still-living leaders of Dagestan. In Dagestan he always travels in an armored BMW with one, sometimes two follow cars full of uniformed armed guards.)

Continue reading ‘Cablegate Roulette’

27
Apr
10

In Former Soviet Country, Bill Ratifies You!

By way of our friends at the Oregon Commentator comes this video of the Ukrainian Parliament “discussing” extending the country’s lease to a Russian naval base. Discussing, as in “throwing eggs and smoke bombs.”

God, it looks like a senior-edition of Wild and Krazy Kids. Remember when people were mortified that what’s-his-face-Republican-guy shouted “You lie!” at Obama?

P.S. On a tangentially related note, Dick Cheney recently said in an interview that telling Patrick Leahy to “go fuck yourself” on the floor of the Senate was “sort of the best thing I ever did.” Keep on rockin’ in the free world, Mr. Cheney. Say what you will about the man, but you have to kind of respect his unrestrained chutzpah.

P.P.S. It’s a tradition among my roommates to announce “Dick Cheney shot a man in the face” at random moments, to keep alive the knowledge that, once upon a time, the vice president of the United States of America shot his friend in the face with a shotgun … and then his friend apologize for getting in the way of his birdshot.