Monday, October 29, 2007

Protest and Practicality

Mrs. Winston Smith made the trip to Chicago for the recent moratorium and took the above picture. The overall situation of protest in America becomes hazier all the the time. Witness the following articles, American Disengagement and Hey Soldier Quit Whining. We wonder why the War(s) keep grinding on. Its no secret, we have to live our beliefs and put up with the repercussions where ever we are.

Putin's Head

Quote of the day from the "Other Russia":

“Russia’s federal decision-making center has contracted to the size of President Putin’s head,” says a former government official."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chekist vs. Chekist

The Other Russia reports on the phenomena of security agency vs. security agency in Putin's Russia. Seems that the FSB (the Russian CIA/FBI) has it in for the FSKN (the Russian DEA). Strange irony that no legislative or judicial oversight could lead to such fratricide. Here's more:

"The latest scandal is the arrest of four FSKN officials, including Lt. General Alexander Bulbov, by the FSB. On October 1st, the officers were detained, and held on charges of corruption and leaking secrets. The lack of any transparency in the security sector makes it impossible to guess what other personal battles have been waged in recent months.

In a public and lucid article published shortly thereafter in Kommersant, Viktor Cherkesov, the head of the FSKN, called for peace among the agencies. “A ‘war of all on all’ will result in a complete disintegration of the network,” he wrote. “We must prevent a scandal and all-out fighting.” He continued, “Whoever can help the Federal Narcotics Control Service rid itself of turncoats may always count on me… But whoever is prepared to try to turn the noble cause of doing away with corruption into something else may count on resistance from me.”

Churkesov’s statement publicly acknowledges that there is strife among the siloviki (officials in Putin’s government with military and security backgrounds). For once, it appears that the incredible in-fighting and power struggles behind the closed doors of Putin’s government are coming to light."

Kind of reminds me of American CIA vs. FBI vs. NSA vs. everyone.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recruiting, A Tale of Standards and Pizza

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune details the difficulties the armed forces are having in their recruiting activities and the need to decrease standards to fill quotas. Among other things the number of convicted felons allowed in with "character waivers" has quadrupled over the last four years. The defense department maintains their standards remain high, and as one spokesman put it,

"That's a pretty tough standard," he said. "Not to be cheeky about this, but [if] we apply that standard to our legislative overseers, a significant fraction would need waivers to join the United States military."

Given the level of corruption and abuse of power seen in the last seven years I wouldn't dispute that point. Locally our National Guard unit hopes that the lure of X-Box tournaments, free pizza, and money will help fill the ranks as the photo above attests (click to enlarge for details that not even I could make up). With an unconstitutional war waged by an administration of ethically challenged former draft evaders grinding on to an unknown purpose and no foreseeable end its a wonder anyone would sign up.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dual Coronations or Who Needs Elections Anyway?

The world's largest nuclear powers are both going through the motions of political democracy and unless something really unusual happens the "fix" is in and the outcomes have already been decided. In other words nothing to see, move along.

Vladimir Putin, taking a somewhat oblique path to power, will stand as a representative of the pro-Kremlin party United Russia and essentially become prime-minister for life. Most of Russia seems to be going along with the exception of a few malcontents.

America, which was founded as a reaction against the abuses of hereditary monarchy, is set to re- install the Democratic ruling family. Once again a few malcontents question the wisdom of this. Hillary Clinton facing an incredibly incompetent selection of Republican challengers has the presidency more or less sewn up according to the media powers that be. Sadly the Democratic party which owed its recent popularity as an alternative to corruption and endless war seems posed to turn its back on the people and turn a blind eye to corruption and more war.