WEDNESDAY MARCH 11 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia is an Evil Empire
(2) EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia stands Naked before the World
(3) Russia Admits to (Brags About) Cyber Attack on Estonia
(4) Russians Still Stealing and Worshipping American TV
(5) EDITORIAL: Salt in Russia’s Wounds
NOTE: We would just like to remind readers that nested commenting in now enabled, which means that you can click the “reply” button next to a commenter’s name and respond directly to her/his remarks; your post will then appear directly below that one and can easily be viewed by readers in sequence.
Putin’s Russia is an Evil Empire
Blogger David McDuff over at A Step at a Time ought to be required reading for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she tries to guide American policy towards the Evil Empire that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia under a hapless neophyte president.
McDuff points out that Hillary might be seen to have gotten off to a rocky start. Leaving out a crucial “za” from the word “perezagruzka” in a “reset” button she tried to give her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov as a joke, Hillary was made to appear clueless, reminding the world that during the presidential campaign that she had been unable to correctly prounce the Russian President’s last name.
But in fact, however, Hillary’s “mistakes” are leading her down exactly the right path.
Putin’s Russia, Naked Before the World
Last year, foreigners increased their holdings of U.S. government debt by nearly half a trillion dollars, and as a result the value of the U.S. dollar has soared by almost 15%. This fundamental confidence in the strength of the United States as a “safe haven” in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis is providing the Obama administration with a valuable source of investment capital it can use to address America’s own downturn.
Meanwhile, of course, Russia’s own currency has plummeted in value by more than 30% as foreigners have expressed fundamental distrust in the Russian government’s ability to keep its word. Investment capital in Russia has virtually disappeared, leading to a massive uptick in unemployment that the governement is totally powerless to address except by frittering away the last vestiges of the nation’s emergency savings funds.
Russia has been spurned once again, just as it was spurned when it asked the world to recognize South Ossetia as an independent state. And the reason is simple.
The always brilliant Robert Coalson of Radio Free Europe reports:
In the spring of 2007, a cyberattack on Estonia blocked websites and paralyzed the country’s entire Internet infrastructure. At the peak of the crisis, bank cards and mobile-phone networks were temporarily frozen, setting off alarm bells in the tech-dependent country — and in NATO as well.
The cyberattacks came at a time when Estonia was embroiled in a dispute with Russia over the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from the center of Tallinn. Moscow denied any involvement in the attacks, but Estonian officials were convinced of Russia’s involvement in the plot.
Those who have not visited Russia but have heard Russians arrogantly condemning American popular culture must find it surprising to learn the extent to which Russians shamelessly steal and copy such culture for their own TV. The always excellent Alex Rodriguez of the Chicago Tribune reports:
The suspicious girlfriend watches as her love life unravels on the screen. A hidden camera has caught her boyfriend in the throes of passion with an easy-on-the-eyes brunette. “That’s enough. I don’t want to see anymore,” says the girlfriend, her bright-blue eyes welling up, then narrowing with rage. “I’m going home. I need some time to think about what I’m going to tell him.”
The series resembles the U.S. cult hit Cheaters, a syndicated peep show involving infidelity. The difference: The men with hidden cameras stalk their philandering prey not in suburban America but in the flats and storefronts of Moscow, which has just as ravenous an appetite for voyeuristic television.
Salt in Russia’s Wounds
From our earliest days here on this blog, it has been our policy to pour salt in the wounds of Vladimir Putin’s Russia at any opportunity. Our purpose in doing so has been quite simple: To dispel the notion that Putin is running a successful state and deserves the 75%+ approval ratings he routinely gets in polls. It was yeoman’s work, of course, when Putin had the convenient cover of oil prices at $150/barrel. A monkey could have ruled Russia during that period and looked somewhat effective. Now, it’s more like child’s play.
Which brings us, grinning from ear to ear, to young Miss Anastasia Prikhodko, winner of Russia’s national round of the Eurovision song contest. Not only isn’t Ms. Prikhodko Russian, but — of all things — Ukrainian, her song “Mamo” is not sung in Russian either, but also in Ukrainian.