“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brought to you by Time's Person of the Year

I would say to this House, as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood toil, tears and sweat." We have before us an ordeal of the most greiveous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.Winston Churchill.

It is unfortunate that we do not have the black and white clarity developed by the existential threat of Nazi Germany on the march in 1939. Instead we are treated to Time Magazine justifications for naming Vladimir Putin as its "Person of the Year for 2007."

From Imprimus January 2007 Freedom vs. Non-Freedom: View from Russia

Andrei Illarionov Former Chief Economic Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation

The Destruction of Freedom in Russia The story of the destruction of freedom in my own country, Russia, is sad. But this story should be told, should be known, and should be remembered—to avoid repeating it and in order one day to reverse it.

First, there was an assault on the people of Chechnya. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of the Chechen people. People in Chechnya lost their independence, their political rights and many of them—their lives. Many Russians lost their lives as well.

Then there was an assault on the Russian media. This time many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of the media. As a result, the media lost its independence—first television channels, then radio stations and newspapers. And now the censors are turning their attention to the Internet.

Then there was an assault on private business. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the freedom of private business. So private business has lost its independence and has become subjugated to the caprice of the executive power. This has been accomplished through so-called PPPs or public private partnerships, but it would be more correct to call what is happening CPC—coercion of private business by the corporation in power.

Then there was an assault on the independence of political parties. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the independence of political parties. As a result, independent national political parties ceased to exist.

Then there was an assault on the independence of the judiciary. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend the independence of the judiciary. Now, there are no more independent courts or judges in Russia.

Then there was an assault on the election of regional governors. Many Russian people thought that it was not their business to defend free elections of regional governors. Today, regional governors are appointed by the president, and there are no more independent regional authorities in the country.

Then there was an assault on the independence of non-governmental and religious organizations. Finally, some people tried to defend the freedom of these organizations, but it was too late. And now even those who want to resist have neither the resources nor the institutions required to fight back. As a result, Russia has ceased to be politically free. For 2005, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World ranks Russia 168th out of 192 countries. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report ranks Russia 126th out of 159 countries. The World Economic Forum calculates that Russia is 85th (among 108 countries) in avoiding favoritism in government decisions, 88th (also of 108) in its protection of property rights, and 84th (of 102) when measured by the independence of the judicial system. The Russian government could form another G-8 with countries that destroyed the fundamental institutions of modern government and civil society as quickly as it did over the past 15 years by partnering with Nepal, Belarus, Tajikistan, Gambia, the Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

What is the Russian government doing now, when it has destroyed freedom and achieved next to full control over Russian society? Is it stopping its assaults? No. It continues them, both within and beyond Russia’s borders. Inside the country, the government has started a campaign against human rights. It has created and financed detachments of storm troopers—the movements “Nashi” (“Our Own”), “Mestnye” (“Locals”), and Molodaya gvardiya” (“Young Guard”)—which are being taught and trained to harass and beat political and intellectual opponents of the current regime. The days for which these storm troopers are especially trained will come soon—during the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007 and 2008. Beyond Russia’s national borders, the government provides economic, financial, political, intellectual and moral support to new friends: leaders of non-free countries such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Myanmar, Algeria, Iran, and Palestinian Hamas. At the same time, Russia is attempting to destroy hard-won freedom and democracy in neighboring countries. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia find themselves in a new cold war as Russian authorities pursue hostile policies involving visas, poultry imports, electricity, natural gas, pipelines, wine, and even mineral water. The Russian government has just started a full-scale blockade of Georgia. Meanwhile, the state-controlled Russian media has launched a propaganda war against Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, the Baltic countries, Europe and the United States.

What do non-free countries have in common? What unites such disparate countries as Nepal, Belarus, Tajikistan, the Solomon Islands, Gambia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Myanmar, and yes, now Russia?

Only one thing: war, in which governments take away property and destroy society, in which they send people to camps or kill them solely because they have a different perception of the world, of faith, of law, and of their homeland.

Only through hatred, fear, and electoral violence can these governments hold on to what is dearest to them—absolute power. Without freedom there can be no open discussion of topics of national and international importance. There is an exclusion from public life of conversation about the most important matters. This primitivizes public life, degrades society, and weakens the state. The politics of non-freedom is the politics of public impoverishment and of the retardation of the country’s economic growth.

The greatest practical lesson of Russia’s recent history is that freedom is indivisible. The failure of freedom in one sphere makes it harder to defend freedom in other areas. Likewise, the fall of freedom in one country is a blow to global freedom. The inability to defend freedom yesterday comes back to haunt us at a great price today and perhaps an even greater price tomorrow.


  1. Now NO ONE Can deny how extraordinarily prescient George Bush was years ago when he looked deeply into Pootie Poot's Soul.

  2. Back for your Holiday Enjoyment:

    "Pootie Poot,
    Pootie Poot,
    Pootie all the way,
    Oh What Fun it is to Poot,
    It's a KGB Display"

  3. Alas, if what I read is anywhere near right, Putin, the man with the Mona Lisa smile, has a lot of popular support, a real majority even. It's hard to understand that, but I've read it any number of times. More or less good times, in a Russian perspective is helping him out. And still they don't have an agriculture based on private holdings yet, so they don't have the base to build on. When have the Russians ever been free?

    I've been reading about Operation Homerun, back in 1956, Ike sent a large number of B-47's, surveilance types, over northern Russia, to see what was up. Many flights, many days, all made it home, without sparking a war. Russia didn't have much, if anything, in the way of radar up yet in that area, it turned out.

  4. The Lady With The Putin Smile

    Her delicate veil is a sign of purity, not Pootinity.

  5. I kind of have the feeling a Huckabee might be at a disadvantage dealing with a Putin, but then, you never know.

  6. ADolf Hitler, Time Magazine's Man of the Year, 1938.
    Though the cover was not complimentary.

    Stalin made the list twice, 1939 and 1942.
    George Marshall, twice as well, in '43 and '47

  7. From the article:

    Meanwhile an estimated 1,133 streets and squares, notably Rathaus Platz in Vienna, acquired the name of Adolf Hitler. He delivered 96 public speeches, attended eleven opera performances (way below par), vanquished two rivals (Benes and Kurt von Schuschnigg, Austria's last Chancellor), sold 900,000 new copies of Mein Kampf in Germany besides selling it widely in Italy and Insurgent Spain.

    His only loss was in eyesight: he had to begin wearing spectacles for work. Last week Herr Hitler entertained at a Christmas party 7,000 workmen now building Berlin's new mammoth Chancellery, told them: "The next decade will show those countries with their patent democracy where true culture is to be found."

    But other nations have emphatically joined the armaments race and among military men the poser is: "Will Hitler fight when it becomes definitely certain that he is losing that race?" The dynamics of dictatorship are such that few who have studied Fascism and its leaders can envision sexless, restless, instinctive Adolf Hitler rounding out a mellow middle age in his mountain chalet at Berchtesgaden while a satisfied German people drink beer and sing folk songs.

    Man of the Year

  8. I've got the one from 1933 where he is sitting there with his German Shepard, and the X issue from 1945.

    That does't ring a bell at all and I thought I had read them all. Is that a real cover?

  9. Well, I quess it is, first time I have seen that.

  10. From '33:

    Wagner: "The Jew is the plastic demon of the decline of mankind."

    Up to last week Adolf Hitler, who dotes on Wagnerian music and surrounds himself with portraits and busts of Bismarck and Frederick the Great, had set forth nothing which could be called a program of what his Government intends to do for and with Germany. From now until April Fool's Day (on which the new Reichstag will convene) Chancellor Hitler intends to rule virtually as a dictator.

    According to Nazi henchmen, the Reichstag will transact only two pieces of business: it will give Germany a new national flag, will then "adjourn indefinitely."

    National Revolution

  11. From '45:

    "Judging by present appearances, it does not seem likely that Adolf Hitler will go down in German history as a martyred leader. All last week the radio was propagandizing him as the nation's military and spiritual leader fighting at the head of his troops in Berlin.

    Nobody I met was in any way impressed. But when rumors circulated that the Fiihrer had been killed iri Berlin, Germans began to stop Allied soldiers on the streets to ask them if it was true.

    What they were concerned about, however, was not whether Hitler was alive or dead. What they said was: 'If it is true, then finally perhaps the war will end.'"

    The Betrayer

    LOS ANGELES - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner, who rose to fame in the 1950s and became a star performing with his ex-wife, Tina Turner, has died at age 76 ...
    In case you, like me, missed this all time Classy Headline.

  13. Its been a long ride since he took Robert Kraft's superbowl ring, as the impotent American cultural icon blustered.

    What a coup that was. Which will resonate in the next few years more strongly, the toppling of Saddams statue or the seizure of the superbowl ring?

    We should have asked for an ice chest full of that Falun Gong activist's most valuable organs.

    Question on all revisionist powers' heads of state is: how to top Putin in your theatrics?

  14. Ooh, I forgot about this detail:

    In front of Murdoch

  15. Hu da man meet Alderman Alderman meet Hu da man.

  16. (somebody at BC Suggested Britany, I forgot to take her out)

  17. I registered the First View of the New Hu!
    I'm Numba Fucking 1 !

  18. Big shots of Americana shown to be pretty helpless in the nasty world outside their borders.

    check out this timeline

    After mid-late 2005, some of Putin's boldest move emerge:

    -EU Energy Policy
    -Putin articulates doctrine for stronger military
    -Boasts of russian missile power

    Not like we hadn't heard of the above before - but i cant help but wonder if they were moves born of the same conviction and perspective of the world: that the hegemon could and ought to be challenged...

  19. this is embarrassing to admit but ive not posted anywhere on blogger for awhile and forgot my login...soo new name! and a much more dashing picture!

    Wonder if Putin ever had to sheepishly call Kremlin IT and tell them his password "wasn't working"

  20. Look at the Stars and Stripes draped behind me, like a beautiful curtain...

    All the worlds a stage...

  21. "that the hegemon could and ought to be challenged..."
    Where would he get an idea like that?
    An administration that wines and dines Drug Gangsters so it can imprison our own Border Agents wouldn't give him a clue would it?
    ...or one that engages in a "Peace Process" with Abbas and the Boys even as Rockets continue to rain down on Israel,

  22. I jest...

    So, only Americans from Hawaii and Idaho stay up at this hour?

    In China, every corner has a loudspeaker where we play the National Lullaby Anthem!

    Huzzah! Rest before another day or productive achivement!

  23. Bubba misplaced the codes for the Nuclear Football!

  24. Maybe your national healthcare system can come with a value-added national sleep-aid system.

    I bet you all could buy Tempurpedic beds for eachother with all your credit cards.

  25. Yeah, Deuce said it best:

    to paraphrase, "Bush thought he could bust out his Yalie charm and so woo and cajole and good-ol-boy a former KGB agent whose also a 6th degree black belt in judo"

    And if Putin was on the Justice League, and he may be, his special move would be:

    sweeping hip throw

  26. Yeah, if there was a Justice League, I don't think Rudy and Bernie K would make it on.

    Hu: Power to harmonize the world through massive electrical discharge

    Putin: Can hip throw objects/people into LEO

    Any applicants here?

  27. Well, i can only hope the absence of responses reflect that Doug has bedded down for the night, at peace with the North American Union patch his grand kids will earn in boy scouts once they learn the new bilingual national anthem and the major events of the riveting history of overcoming the nativists...

  28. banners praised the president and demanded Russia continue following his policies, while the venue's loudspeakers played patriotic songs from the Soviet era.

    Banners that praise, loudspeakers that sing, the very Russian earth breaks out in bloom...

    Well admit it, polonium is a nice break from that old tedious bullet to the back of the brain.

  29. I still got my sleep problem whodat, but I'm trying something new--doxylaminesuccinate--tone down those carbon emissions for us wouldja, you'd gain a lot of support here in the states-nightall

  30. I Hate to say it, but THIS put's Hu's Photo to Shame!
    Tell me YOU would not feel a real need to excercise you power with a Chin like that Hu!

  31. That was a very warm send-off on the previous thread, whit, and now I'm rather embarrassed to still be here. Eager as we are to leave the bone-ass cold of NoVa (don't tell me it's not really cold, bob, because I say it is) for the daytime shirtsleeves of Bogota, there's the small matter of orders (no hurry, guys, right?) and I'll be in and out of the Bar until January, in the sort of mood brought on by the chaotic upheaval and close-shave coordination of a major move - which might put at risk the inspired and inspiring headliner that I incautiously said I would write, dispelling everyone's sense of doom and gloom save Doug's (about which there's nothing to be done) or mat's (but he's Israeli and outside my jurisdiction). Or even yours, whit, but I told you to stop reading Steyn and don't even crack open that next in the series of books you've got on your nightstand (We're All Fucked, Various Authors, Volumes I,II,III, and IV.) But noooooo.

  32. Yeah, sure, I'll do that right after I'm done revamping the lickable party toys we made for your homosexual parents.

    No one ever talks about who gave us those design requirements. Just figure its the scandalous Chinese up to no good...couldn't be that two dads wanted a cheap and convenient way to party/unwind at home once the kids were in bed - without going to a club

    It was supposed to show America how responsible gay parents can be but it was hijacked! Hijacked i say!

  33. Whatever - Some girls will dig Putin, but some girls will think he gives off a creep vibe.

    I definitely don't come off as creepy. Ascendant and imperialist, maybe. But not creepy.

    My only regret is that the Aircraft Carrier Hu will make a port call in America and disembark its visiting rambunctious sailors long after I've passed into the great beyond...

  34. Maybe I can ask the boys to craft me a Cyber carrier - some sort of malware that installs itself on a box and renders all output as Hu-derived: biographical facts, government function photos, glamor shots, quotes and quips!

    Uh oh, National 2nd Breakfast Anthem is clanging away outside. I must report to the local Party matron lest i set a poor example to all the rural folk around here lately...

  35. As blessed sleep was overcoming me, this thought arose--that Time Magazine cover that Rat put up--could have been done by--Hieronymous Bosch.

  36. hu dat? said...
    "B-but I thought it was just ane intellectual free-for-all"

    So whats the dead chick equivalent in this extended metaphor? Cedarford's posts? Habu's bawdy showboating? Allen's prank debating?

    Sun Dec 03, 01:37:00 AM EST

    hu dat? said...
    Is doug on his nude calasthetics routines?

    I feel the burn and feel the flap.

    Sun Dec 03, 01:40:00 AM EST

  37. Trish Orders? I once was assigned to an outfit at Ernest Harmon AFB, Newfoundland, 48 33'N 58 33'W, that did not exist, was transferred to Goose Bay Labrador, and then the Air Force found me a site that was even more remote and colder still. SNAFU and IHTFP.

  38. IHTFP?

    That's a new one to me.

    I Googled it and the first link that comes up (an MIT site) offers many choices.

    I hate this fucking planet.

    I have to fully purge.

    I'm here to fly planes.

    It's hard to fondle penguins.

    Ike hated training FDR's presidency.

    And many, many more.

    (More remote and colder still than Labrador? They must have truly put some effort into that screw-up. One of my brothers-in-law, a biologist, spent nine months in Labrador, wiping his ass with dry moss and collecting scat samples - only one of these activities for research purposes. Loved every minute. But he's strange that way, bless his heart.)

  39. "...the Air Force found me a site that was even more remote and colder still."

    You were an eavesdropper or techie of same.

  40. I Have Truly Found Paradise
    I Hate This Fucking Place


  41. sort of like SPQR, I'm sure you will agree.

  42. Hu Dat: Whatever - Some girls will dig Putin, but some girls will think he gives off a creep vibe.

    Let's just say I'd rather meet
    Pootie in my dreams at night than Dick Cheney, and Pootie don't shoot 78 year old men in the face.