Putin Presidency, Part Dba

(That’s “part two” fer all you furiners.)

Says The Telegraph, that fine British rag:

“Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he could run again for the Russian presidency next year, just one day after Dmitry Medvedev, the country’s current president, also made a renewed pitch for the job.

Perhaps he can borrow a slogan from President Obama, apply it only to himself, and say <<Да я могу!!>>
Fans of the Russian constitution, and/or people who have read this blog in September 2009 will know that the Russian constitution allows the president of Russia to serve two consecutive terms in a row. However, it does not explicitly forbid said president from serving again after another president has held the office for four years. In other words, it clears the way for Putin to nudge Medvedev aside.
Curiously, this would fulfill the “chrome dome syndrome” that has been seen in Russo-Soviet leadership for most of the past century. I’ve talked about that here before too. Witness:
Russian Chrome Dome Syndrome

Two two rows are the Communist era leaders: Lenin (bald), Stalin (not), Khrushchev (bald), Breshnev (not), Andropov (receded), Chernenko (not), and Gorbachev (bald).

In the bottom row showing the post-Communist Russian Federation. We have Yeltsin (not bald), Putin (bald, yet so badass), Medvedev (with a fine haircut), and presumably Putin (the badass baldy) once again.

History repeats itself…

Collect the BP Republicans trading cards!

Get ’em while they’re hot! These lovely new BP Republicans trading cards—well, they’re more like posters, but I call ’em trading cards—were just released by your friends at the Democratic National Committee. First among them is none other than Ron “Go easy on BP” Johnson.

Ron Johnson, BP Republican

(Link: PDF, 3.5 MB)

It’s a good thing that Ron Johnson agrees with Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania on drilling in the Great Lakes. There’s a card for that!

Pat Toomey, BP Republican

The two for Sharron Angle and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-TP/BP) are quite poignant as well:

Angle-Bachmann, BP Republicans

Just imagine, if the Republicans take Congress this fall, they’ll be able to set the tone, course, and direction for all energy policy for the foreseeable future! That’s great news for companies like BP. And hey, we’ve got things taken care of. All that bad bad stuff with hooligans like Enron or that little oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could never happen again.

Democrats, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook!

••  •  ••

Also, remember the good old days when BP wasn’t particularly reviled for an oil company? That was the case back around 2001, which is when the Infinite Jest American Crusade 2001+ trading cards came out. Rich with play on the patriotic doublespeak that was so prevalent in the heady days of late 2001, these trading cards turn the doublespeak right back upon itself. I’ll warn you, some of these may bring back painful memories or shed light on things you weren’t aware of at the time. Here are some of the less disquieting cards:
Axis of Oil: Halliburton + Cheney + Iraq: PlusGOOD

Ahh, Halliburton. Yes, they had nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon. Nothing that they’d accept responsibility for, anyway. And certainly that little war in Iraq ain’t got nothin’ ta do with no oil they got under all that sand.

Civil Libertarians: DoublePlusEVIL

Hey, that’s Russ! Sole voter against the PATRIOT Act in the U.S. Senate. I’m still proud of him for doing that. (Too bad that made him DoublePlusEvil.)

Last, what’s a visit to this blog without something about Russia? Vladey, baby, come to me…

Da, you know, ve so close to Alaska, I can zee Sarah Palin from my bedroom vindow!


More on the Russian spy ring

A few things:

• A total of eleven people have been arrested. They led seemingly normal lives in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

• Their neighbors thought they were average suburbanites, not spies. “‘They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas,’ 15-year-old Jessie Gugig quipped to the New York Times after the arrest of the Murphys.”

• This case is showing the subtly with which the Obama administration is capable of operating. From The Guardian:

[President] Obama was aware of the investigation before he met with the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at the White House last Thursday. The two leaders did not discuss the issue, Gibbs said.

• Obama knew about it, but he and Medvedev had cheeseburgers together one day in Virginia! Mr. Obama certainly is a cool-minded leader if he can pull that off.

• Curiously, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is among those who have said this won’t have a real impact on the course of Russian-American affairs. A writer for The Guardian agrees with that. (It’s my sense, too.)

• Who knew—Medvedev’s a Mac user! And an iPad user. And Steve Jobs gave Medvedev an Apple iPhone 4G during his tour of Silicon Valley. Lucky dog…

(Compare this to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s tour of California in 1959, when there was still extensive train service, and Silicon Valley didn’t exist!)

• The FBI announced the arrests a few days after Medvedev returned to Russia. David Hearst argues that this spy scandal is the last thing that Medvedev needs as he seeks to bring Russia more fully into the modern economic systems.

• The good news? The spy ring was busted before it could do any real spying.

Putin confirms he may run for Russian president in 2012

An AP article by Vladimir Isachenkov quotes Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as saying he may indeed make a run for the Russian presidency in 2012. This is allowed by the Russian constitution, thanks to a constitutional amendment that Putin had put in a few years ago while he was still president. It’s notable that Putin made such affirmative (for a politician) statements while he spoke on a four-hour “question-and-answer show” on Russian TV and radio. This harks back to the days of—or at least the stereotype of—Soviet leaders going on for hours at Central Committee meetings, belaboring how great the Soviet Union’s agriculture and economy was, not to mention Leninism with Stalinist influences would very soon now begin a crushing overrun of American imperialism.

As I’ve discussed on here, Putin may be bringing a hair-free stance back to the Russian presidency in 2012, keeping up the infamous “Chrome Dome Syndrome” that has tracked through Russia and the former Soviet Union since the Nicholas II/V. Lenin transition.

That said, I do wonder a bit about the train bombing that killed 26 people in Russia last week. It is likely that it was set by Chechen separatists. But it’s awfully curious that Putin would make a great stand so soon afterward. Perhaps the suspicion should fall more on the side of Putin, who executed a fierce war in Chechnya, using the event as a basis to start his return, rather than causing it and then rising up in that moment of need. Sad as the statement is, it makes much more sense for the Chechens to have done it. And it’s telling that Putin could use the media conglomerates in Russia to so thoroughly broadcast his intentions.

China and Russia explore future energy, political, and military partnerships

Although China and the Soviet Union were viewed by many as part of a monolithic wall of communism, their differences ran deep. In fact, Soviet Premier N. S. Khrushchev and Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong had such a fierce clash in 1959 that the cold silence between the two states lasted until some time after the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991.

Fast foward to 2009. According to the AP, Russia’sonce-and-future president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “landed in China Monday in an effort to bolster energy, political and military ties between the former rival nations turned strategic partners.”

High on the agenda are a gas-for-loans deal, which is reported to be similar to a $25 billion oil-for-loan deal that the two states worked out earlier in 2009.

So then, Russia is certainly oil-rich, but not quite as financially boyant as they were when petroleum was around the $80/barrell mark. China, on the other hand, has relatively few mineral resources, but they are doing quite well for themselves under former Chairman Deng Xiaoping’s 1984 plan for “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” And really, who needs democracy when you can have socialism with Chinese characteristics?

Or it could be like Russia. There, Anders Åslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics argues, market reform has succeeded, but democracy failed to take root.

(Note: The author is at this point extremely grateful that he is in a country where he can say that without fear of persecution from anyone except an occasional blog troller, and not the secret police.)


Anyhow. Russia and China teaming up. Huh! Wonder what could come of that. Putin looks out for his own, and I’m sure the infusion of cash will go a long way to help him when he runs for re-election as Russian president in 2012. Unless Medvedev tries again; he’s been doing all right, so it just may work out that he can run for reelection should Putin allow him to do so.

Another fair question is what it means for China. They already have an oil pipeline a deal for an oil pipeline in the works that would run from Siberia to China.* Their rapidly expanding industry needs energy, especially petroleum, and consumes it ravenously. And there’s the whole shipping aspect — all that cheap plastic crap has to get to Wal-Mart somehow. The mind can swirl in amazement at the scale of it until you narrow down your range of vision and focus on particulars within it.

* That’s such a big space, it’s like saying a pipeline would run from western Canada to somewhere in the lower 48 American states.

Update: No breakthrough for China and Russia on natural gas, apparently, but you’ve gotta start somewhere. Besides, how else do you get great pictures like this?

The above photo is of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reviewing troops with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. (Photo (C) 2009 AFP/Getty Images.)

Putin may run for Russian presidency in 2012

Thought so.

This comes as no surprise to people who watch Russian politics. The way is open for Putin to do this. The Russian constitution says that a president may serve no more than two consecutive terms. It makes absolutely no mention of a person being in the presidency after that. So Putin could in fact run for (and likely win) the Russian presidency after having already been in office for eight years. Although current president Dmitry Medvedev is seen as having done a fairly competent job, the speculation has long been that Medvedev was a placeholder for Putin.

Most importantly, if Putin’s reelection is successful, this would continue the “chrome dome syndrome” that has been seen in Russo-Soviet leadership since the time of Tar Nicholas II… which I’ll work on showing later which I now have for your viewing pleasure. Nicholas isn’t in on this picture, but rest assured he had a fine coif of hair.

chromedome syndrome by Jason Haas

And here they are! In the Communist era: Lenin (bald), Stalin (not), Khrushchev (bald), Breshnev (not), Andropov (receded), Chernenko (not), and Gorbachev (bald).

In the bottom row showing the post-Communist Russian Federation era, we have Yeltsin (not bald), Putin (bald yet so badass), Medvedev (with a fine haircut), and presumably Putin (the badass baldy) once again.

Putin Cathes a Cab

I read just enough Russian to say that the above title is what the Russian (Cyrillic) characters say… and that appears to be Putin! Odd…

(h/t foxtrot-echo)

Also: A friend of mine who speaks pa-Russki much more than I said, “This one is quite funny because the song on the radio is a Chechen remix!” Makes you wonder about the cab driver crashing at the end, which presumably would spell an end for his passenger.