Putin: Russia now officially his bitch.

What do you get when you put a scum-sucking KGB agent in charge of your country?

Answer?  You get a country which has now officially legitimized the torture and repression we all knew came out of the Kremlin, with legislation ending even the sham pretense of a jury trial for treason, which has now been defined down to include protesting your local bus schedule, if the local completely unaccountable siloviki decides that you’re inconvenient and he’d like to give your house away to his nephew.

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  1. This reminds me of the Alien & Sedition Act + HUAC. It is just… blunter.

    Also, If you are bored… check out this film I shot 2 days over Thanksgiving break. It was done quickly… but it is entertaining.

    [video src="http://www.sunspireproductions.com/files/video/films/diem_fullsize.mp4" /]

    • Not too shabby, actually. Kennedy kept insisting through his teeth that he didn’t authorize an assassination, just a coup.
      Seems, oh, just a tiny touch disingenuous to little old me.

  2. Heh. My student actually learned something. ::Warm Fuzzy Feeling::

    Actually, HUAC was a bit different than it’s normally portrayed. Rather than the nation at large scorning these folks, generally those trying to expose the actual communists there had their reputations ruined. (Over in the Senate, we have newer research that indicates that McCarthy, for instance, was not only right, but dead-on right.)

    Your film’s taking a bit to DL, but I’ll check it out.

  3. Can’t read the .mp4 file. mp4?? I’m apparently behind the curve here.

  4. It requires quicktime, you don’t have quicktime? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHnI2pxRtds
    There you go. Quality is shot though.

  5. Mike

     /  December 19, 2008

    Bleah, I don’t like the idea of MacCarthy being right. Personal issue really. The guy was a total @$$hole, a drunk, and not exactly the brightest blub. Plus I have to put him into the LBJ “Warhero” category (i.e. his war record and what he claimed it was were two totally different things). He may have been right (and probably was to an extent), but if he had not been so over the top about how he went about doing what he did he probably would have done all of us a favor. This is like having the Nazis or Al Quada coming out and going “You tell it man, we are supporting you 100%!!!!”

    Gee thanks.

    That and McCarthy went after George Marshall, I can’t forgive that one.

  6. Alex

     /  December 20, 2008

    As for MacCarthy being right….which “new data” validates him? If he really had all this information correct, then he didn’t need to be hamfisted about it and he would have been able to get even more intelligent and thoughtful senators on his side. No, I don’t buy it, and I think the new data was probably something generated by those wanting to push HUAC type activities today, but I’ll admit I would need to read it myself and see if its valid.
    MacCarthy was someone who riled up public opinion to draw things away from his own flaws, and he ruined the lives of many good people, their political beliefs not withstanding. And I agree with Mike – anyone who thought that he should go after a real patriot and citizen like George Marshall was, is, and forever will be, an evil nutcase on a power trip to bring someone down to make himself look good – the WORST type of politician possible.

  7. Alex: Senator McCarthy…. *House* UAC…. they’re not related.
    What vindicates him are the Venona Transcripts, which we now have access to (these are old KGB records) and which indicate that a metric crapload of the people he accused were, in fact, Soviet agents.

    Don’t know the details of him going after Marshall, but a big chunk of McCarthy is due for revisitation.

  8. Mike

     /  December 20, 2008

    Vindicated or not, MC was a jerk and a moron. That he was right and actually did get some people who were working for the other side is more than offset by how he did it. If he had done it smoothly and with some interagency cooperation and had really provided some “you are flat cold busted” proof that would have been one thing. But I think he did much more harm than good in his basically spray and pray drive by method of smearing everyone in his path. Now everytime someone starts bringing up questions about foreign influence or infiltration, all we hear is “McCarthyism” and its that much harder to do the job needed.

    That he was after the right folks I have no issue with. My issue is how he did it.

  9. Alex

     /  December 20, 2008

    Thanks for clarifying the point about House UAC vs. Senatorial issues. I associate McCarthy so closely with HUAC and all that mess it is hard to separate the two.
    So now let me make a comment about the Verona Transcripts you refer to. If these are old KGB records, how accurate are they really? Are they internal bluster by KGB (“See how many agents we have in the USA? Now please don’t purge me comrade.”) or are they validated against something else? How where they obtained – are they based on conversations between US based soviet agents and USSR-based agents that were captured by wiretap, or are they something that Russia revealed recently?

    Ultimately I would say this goes back to the way that McCarthy went after these things. If he was really right, then why didn’t he lay out the evidence in a more convincing manner? I still think that the efforts of McCarthy, Cohn, and others was just to draw attention away from themselves rather than address a real problem and smart people who could see through the crap called them on it, and were right.

  10. My understanding, and I”m not a cold-war specialist, is that Venona is legit. I’ve seen short exerpts, and it is very much an internal document, not something made for publication. Beyond that, like I said, this is out of my specialty, so I’m dependent on others’ scholarship, and trusting peer review that they haven’t screwed their footnotes or made something up. (Generally, unless they’re in some PC field, history dudes get caught and nailed when they do that.)

  11. Oh, Mike, I’ve tracked down a book on this, next we meet I can loan it to you… historically-speaking, “bombshell” doesn’t quite begin to cover it. Even if the Marshall bit is as far afield as one suspects it is, there is no question that we’re going to be teaching this in a completely different way in a few years.

  12. Mike

     /  December 21, 2008

    That works, but I gotta wonder if we will be looking at it differently in a few years given how the classrooms are right now. Lots of teachers seem to have a leftward bent, and would they really try to undo that wrong? Or just maybe skip over it so it just doesn’t get looked at anymore? I would bet more on part two.

  13. Lots of them do. That said, lots don’t, and academic freedom is taken very seriously at my level. (Community college is also a lot more balanced.)

  14. Side note, as I read further in: if this guy I’m running through now is even 30% correct, Mike, it’ll literally force a complete reappraisal of WWII and the Cold War. What’s cool about freedom is that we apparently took just about every espionage shot the Russkies could deal out to us, straight on the chin, and it still didn’t make a difference: free societies are just that much more powerful than any murderous bastard in a funny hat and his goon squad.

    The academic wheels are turning. It’s now acceptable to point out that the New Deal was… suboptimal. (Granted, Hoover *still* sucked rancid monkey balls.

  15. Just like science proceeds from funeral to funeral, lots of super-liberal professors are dying and being replaced by mildly liberal professors from the church of data. Not much consolation, but it’s something. At least something except in California, where marxist theorists can still get radio interviews every couple years without being laughed off the airwaves.

  16. Marxist is hardly mild liberalism. Mild and moderate liberalism is essential to America’s survival. We *need* people focused on equality, legal or opportunity-focused, and it’s no surprise that a lot of community college folks either lean moderate-right or moderate-left, but with very few die-hards. Real Life(tm) is simply too present here for the radicals to really flourish over here.

    Now, don’t get me started on the county next door… o_0

  17. Mike

     /  December 22, 2008

    Good comparison between the New Deal and McCarthyism. I think this works on my rule of “what versus how”. FDR did a good job of selling his New Deal and was really able to reassure people. So look at how it took 70 plus years to finally start relooking the New Deal.

    Heh, I do use this point to wig out my left leaning relatives that history may look differntly at Bush. THAT sends them right up the proverbial tree.

  18. Alex

     /  December 22, 2008

    You mean look differently at Bush like this:

    I dunno Mike….they way that man has run the country into the ground like he did with every organization he’s been in charge of (maybe except Texas, which was too big for him to break), somehow I doubt historians will ever look at the man any different. Maybe less harsh on some things, but he certainly presided and enabled one of the worst executive branches in US history. Only Nixon was more crooked, but strangely Nixon was competent.

  19. Alex

     /  December 22, 2008

    But the history with time bit….there is always the danger of revisionist history where the facts run into real danger of being rewritten such that they are accurate only for the victors, but in the more modern era with scholarship new facts can come to light and those detached from the original event can draw new conclusions.

    The data from the Verona transcripts and what is proposes is interesting, but the comment that our open society can tolerate that type of spying and come away with no damage is what is really interesting and insightful to me. Therefore our many opinions, center, right and left, while maddening in trying to get something done and achieve consensus, really is a strength that should continue to be perpetuated. For the study of history though – is it really possible to leave those opinions out when analyzing the historical facts and coming to a new hypothesis, or are we always inclined to put a political spin to it? I’m hoping someday that Psychohistory really comes to pass so that we can avoid that lingering doubt over interpretation, but until then I guess we’ll have to hope that the new theories have been thoroughly studied and peer-reviewed by all sides of the political spectrum.

  20. VeNona.
    Not no damage — hells no. Craploads of damage. But in the 1930s, it wasn’t clear which country was better set… in the 90s, its pretty obvious.

    Revisionist scholarship is a necessary part of the process. Crap scholarship isn’t. But revisionist in and of itself != crap, b/c it’s by no means guaranteed that the folks the first time round got it right. In fact, very often they don’t.

    For history, if you’re doing data-driven work, it’s plenty possible to leave many preconceptions behind. Not all, b/c it’s all about what questions you actually ask. Real history is much less politics-driven than the bullshit best-seller propaganda-fodder stuff that often tries to masquerade as filling the part.

  21. Alex

     /  December 23, 2008

    Okay, now I understand the damage comment, and thanks for catching the r/n typo…I’ve got to get my eyes checked sooner than I thought. They’ve been bothering me lately and I’m probably due for another prescription – again.

  22. Mike

     /  December 23, 2008

    Well as I told my Aunt Janet, Bush’s legacy is for history to deside and we will probably be dead when that comes to pass. I don’t think Bush is going to rate up with the greatest ones, but I still don’t hold him as one of the worst. Middling in my book. But I am of course slanted because of what I consider to be the big items of his term I am in full agreement with (WOT).

    Nice bit you and Alex have about revisionist history and crap history. I have found that a really interesting take on this is to read some of the material written while events are still unfolding. Lots of the books in the Clothing and Sales today are great examples. Stuff on the WOT, special forces, Anti-insurgency stuff, etc. Lots of it is being written while the fight hasn’t finished yet, so what kind of conclusions can we really get. You need to get the 1st edition stuff, not the edited after 5 years “to bring it up to date” (i.e. to re-write the totally jacked up portions so the guy looks smarter than he did). The military stuff doesn’t have so much of that, but some does get through. My best example of this was to read two books on the Indian Wars in the 1870’s and 80’s. One was written in 1890, the other in 1992(ish). Boy, do you want a clearer example of corrected history? Look no further. The first hand accounts were very cool (the indian who took part in overrruning Custer was very interesting), but talk about some king sized slant. The first real historic, non-emotional driven accounts of the Indian Wars had to wait for the vets on both sides to die off. Black Kettle was an Indian chief who only wanted peace, and he had the misfortune to have his tribe attacked and overrun twice by the US Volunteers and Cavalry. But you could never convince any man of the 7th CAV that this guy was nothing less than a blood thirsty pillager. Time had to pass to get a balanced account, and its the same thing here.

  23. Alex

     /  December 24, 2008

    I suppose this is true, that with time the passions die away and allow people far removed from the original event to look at the data impassively. But – if we study history to learn from the past to prevent the mistakes of the present and future, the danger exists that reinterpretation of the events becomes politically charged. This becomes less of an issue when you have good first-hand data from the actual historical event followed by good scholarship and peer-review, but still, one wonders if that as all those who were associated with an event die off that we don’t lose something in translation and therefore propagate an error in interpreting what really happened and what it meant.
    I wonder how easy it will be to study history of the past decade 100 years from now. We have huge amounts of documentation (books, electronic media) from our current time period, all of which is highly opinionated such that I wonder how easy it will be to draw new conclusions about our times. Will someone be able to look at both sides of the WOT objectively with so much data to look through, or will it be cut and dried due to the huge volumes of information available? Or will it be impossible with the solid majority of the information all having political slants and therefore future historians will have no idea what piece of information is just opinion and which is just fact?
    I suppose I have to agree with you that it will take a long time for anyone to look at these things objectively and determine whether or not our opinions of today were right or wrong.
    On a semi-related subject Mike – I am curious who you think has been the best (or a few of the best) and who the worst US presidents are.

  24. Mike

     /  December 24, 2008

    Best? Well, Washington and Lincoln are of course up there. Washington because he set the tone and did an outstanding job of it, Lincoln because he saw the country through the worst crisis it had ever faced (WWII included). T.R. rocked on many levels so he is up there in my book. Reagan is up there. I liked Truman because he was so damn straighforward. “The Buck Stops Here” totally rocks and he walked that walk too. That and he knew enough to know exactly what he didn’t know and therefor picked great aides and Secretaries, most of whom rolled over with Ike. That and he was really hated by many so called intellectuals for his down to earthness (points in favor for me).

    Worst? Buchanan is the top of that list for not even trying to stop the south when the Civil War started. There were a lot of things he could have done that might have really changed the course of the war very early (close the ports, reinforce forts, etc), but he literally just sat there. Do something, even if its wrong. Andy Jackson, great general but a horrible president (spoils system to politcs, serious abuse of executive power). Here is one you will be surprised about: Thomas Jefferson. A great man, not so good a president in my book. He did some stuff that worked okay, but he seriously politicized the military and crippled the navy and then put us in a position that ensured we would get into a war with England. His “yeoman militia” ideas set us back militarily decades and damn near lost us the Old Northwest/Ohio region. And he was out of office when this happened so he gets a pass usually. Good old Woody Wilson ranks up there in poor category. Anyone who puts Williams Jennings Bryant in a position of power is a moron by defintion, but Wilson went above and beyond. He threatened to court marshall any officer he found making plans for fighting Germany in 1915. And his 14 points? He actually thought that he could make Europe see “reason” on this? Appeal to their better human nature? AFTER WWI? Yeah, that went well. I’d also through in Harding for corruption and although I hate to do it, Grant too.

    How about you?

  25. Alex

     /  December 24, 2008

    I agree with best on Washington and Lincoln, as well as TR. I rank Washington particularly high since he warned against, and predicted, that the US becoming bipartisan was a very bad path. I rank FDR high as well. For all his lumps in pushing certain things through, what he did to get us out of the depression and through most of WWII is an impressive feat and I still think our nation is much better for it. I also think higher of Jefferson than you and have him up high in my list. One for the Louisana Purchase. Two for standing up to the Barbary Pirates. You however give me some other things to think about in regards to him.

    Worst – Jackson is dead bottom on my list, followed closely by Bush (43). I dislike Jackson for just about all the same reasons you do, plus his blatant violation of the constitution and enabling a solid attempt at genocide of the Cherokee Nation. We could argue as to why I rank him poorly, but I’ll save that for another time, but I will say that Petreaus and Gates helped win the WOT in spite of the poor start that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld created. I’ll also agree with you on Buchanan, but my other worst is Nixon. Nixon poisoned a lot of faith in our government, and while he did some good in the foreign policy arena, that damage, I think, far outweighs what good he did accomplish.

  26. Mike

     /  December 25, 2008

    Well, that is a good one on Nixon. I hold Bush higher because he pulled a Truman to an extent. He got good people and he listened to them. Now he could have done a lot better if he had picked more good people in other areas, but when things were not working in Iraq he had the courage to make some serious changes and push them through. That took a LOT of courage and used tons of political capital that he could have used on other things. I have not seen to many people do that.

    I did forget to mention FDR. He does rank up there for WWII. For the other problems he had, he did at least try hard and he did clearly identify a real threat early and worked against him as much as he could.


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