Vladimir Putin's back as Russia's president--not that he was ever far away from it. He retained power behind the scenes during his ally Dmitry Medvedev's
presidency, and the plan all along was for Putin to return. The ex-KGB
strongman wants to reconstitute the empire that was lost when the Soviet Union
fell. Putin and Medvedev are playing Good-Cop-Bad-Cop on a geopolitical
scale. When Russia needs to be conciliatory
Medvedev is the man to do it. When it needs to be strong and aggressive, enter
To win reelection, Putin resorted to rigging the election,
as outlined in a Ventura County Star editorial.
Every word of it is true. We tend to look down on other democracies, with good
reason. They're often subterfuges for dictators. Only Sean Penn thinks Hugo
Chavez was elected fairly, and I haven't yet heard anyone say Putin was fairly
elected. Maybe George W. Bush.
But it struck me while reading the editorial that, while we
clearly see the faults other nations have, we often overlook our own faults.
Our democracy is not corrupt. Our elections aren't rigged. Consider the following statements in the Star
Wall Street Journal cited a poll that says 35 percent of Russians think the
elections are illegitimate and 40 percent distrust the government, a figure
surely on the low side.
Even if 40 percent is a low figure, it has a long way to go
to match up with the 83% disapproval rating Americans
give to Congress. Incompetence is not proof of corruption, but for some
reason these people keep getting reelected. We already know that gerrymandering
all but ensures reelection for career politicians--isn't that something we'd
expect to find in a banana republic?
ensure the outcome, the Kremlin resorted to a vote fraud so crude it would make
a Chicago alderman blush -- "carousel voting."
Interesting that Chicago is held up as a model of corruption,
because that's the president's political home. In fact, he had close ties to ACORN there,
which even the left-leaning FactCheck.org said "had widespread problems with
phony [voter registrations]."
the election had been honest and confined to Moscow, where three months of
nonstop protests led up to the election, Mr. Putin might have gotten less than
20 percent of the vote.
Even though conservatives
are the largest ideological group--twice as numerous as liberals, we're
still dominated by them. Interestingly, Gallup has the percent of the
population as liberal at 21 percent, just like the pro-Putin minority. Like
them, we find ourselves outnumbering the opposition but losing to them. Democratic
leadership is pretty far to the left--nobody (except the media) would say that
Obama or Pelosi or Reid or Schumer or Durbin or Frank are moderates. Let's be
nice and call them "social Democrats" instead of outright socialists. But when it comes to Republican leaders, we
have to put up with moderates. Bush, while socially conservative, was not
fiscally conservative. McCain, our 2008 presidential nominee, tried to out
bailout Obama. We're going to have Romney next, and he out Obamacare'd Obama in
Massachusetts. For governor here in California, we had Arnold, who practically
declared war on his own party. In short, why is it that the biggest ideological
group never has a candidate that represents those beliefs? Simply put, the
media is corrupt and with the exception of Fox News and talk radio,
conservative candidates are piled on by the media. Just look at poor Rick
President Dmitry Medvedev will return to his previous role as prime minister.
President Medvedev and Mr. Putin exchanged jobs so Mr. Putin could comply with
the Russian Constitution's limit of two consecutive terms. The president's
term, meanwhile, was extended from four to six years.
In America, we too get around term limits by having our
close associates run in our stead. The elder Bush was the outgoing President Reagan's
vice president. Then we got Bill Clinton, and several years after he got termed
out Hillary ran (and Chelea is a being groomed for a political future). Between
the Bill and Hillary campaigns we had the younger Bush. The only reason Hillary
didn't win is because the lightning President Obama captured in a bottle. Will
we next see a Michelle Obama campaign?
is a growing backlash against officially sanctioned corruption and the numerous
overweening perks of Kremlin favorites.
Do we need to even get into the perks that Washington
favorites get, like legally sanctioned insider stock trading? Gold plated
medical insurance? Payouts to your political supporters, like $500 million for
the campaign, Mr. Putin made promises to voters that would total more than $160
billion, money the Kremlin doesn't have.
Wow, our politicians never promise to buy us anything with
money we don't have. $160 billion sounds like pocket change for us.
Putin might surprise his critics. A key test will be three measures before the
parliament: one restoring the direct election of governors, another eliminating
at least some restrictions on political parties, and a third giving the
opposition access to state-controlled broadcast media.
Opposition access to state-controlled broadcast media? Show
me where conservatives have access to PBS.
Russia's corruption might be cruder and more obvious than
ours, but ours still exists. We just have nicer words for it. Other countries have
state run media outlets that disseminate pro-government propaganda. We call it "public
broadcasting." In Russia, journalists get intimidated with violence. Here, they
get intimidated by Media Matters. In other countries those that say the
wrong political things get assassinated. Here, their character gets assassinated
(just ask Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck, or Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bachmann,
or any other high-profile conservative).
Face it, our system is corrupt. Romney, despite having
almost no support from non-political establishment Republicans, is the likely
GOP nominee. And President Obama--let's just say that any other president wouldn't
even try to run for reelection with $5/gallon gasoline and 9%
unemployment. But he'll probably do what
nobody else has been able to do and win, because he'll benefit from about a
billion dollars worth of free advertising from the complicit media. Our elections aren't rigged, in the strict sense of the word, but the establishment has such an advantage that it can almost always ensure that someone from the single largest ideological group never gets elected president.