President Putin seems determined to convince us that Russia, like the universe, is not only stranger than we imagined but stranger than we can imagine:
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a decree pardoning jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the man who has been described as his archrival.
Khodorkovsky has spent the past 10 years in prison on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement. His arrest in 2003 and the subsequent prosecution have been widely considered to be Putin’s retribution for Khodorkovsky’s political ambitions…
The development — along with an amnesty for two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band and the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace protest ship — appears aimed at easing international criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin’s pet project….
In Slate, Masha Gessen, “Russian-American journalist and the author of the forthcoming Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot“ offers her opinion:
… Western leaders were unconvinced at first that staying away made sense. Behind the scenes, there was much talk of a potential backlash… While the leaders of the free world dithered, Putin kept pushing his luck. He rejected an amnesty bill that would have freed Khodorkovsky. Then Russia kidnapped about 30 Greenpeace activists in international waters and, when the Netherlands filed suit in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, refused to recognize that court’s authority. Russia recently announced, in effect, that it was no longer going to recognize even the authority of the European Court of Human Rights, some of whose decisions it had been grudgingly carrying out…
Putin panicked. On Wednesday he allowed his own version of an amnesty bill, which came before parliament that day, to be amended to cover the Greenpeace activists. The following day, he said he intended to pardon Khodorkovsky. There is every indication that this was unplanned. He made the annoucnement after the end of his annual press conference, during an informal chat with journalists. He made reference to a clemency request that Khodorkovsky had supposedly written but of which neither his family nor his lawyers were aware. Not even the clemency officials who would have processed such a request had ever heard of it.
Does that mean there will be no backlash to the snub? Probably not. Putin’s ongoing crackdown on civil society will likely intensify significantly after the Olympic closing ceremony is over. Like a schoolyard bully who has been temporarily overpowered, Putin will lash out again as soon as he feels he can…
And NYTImes sports reporter Juliet Macur assures us there’s still plenty of opportunities for Olympian trouble, in Sochi and afterwards:
… When I.O.C. members chose Sochi seven years ago to play host to the 2014 Games, they should have known that they were asking for trouble. Anyone who was paying attention back then knew that choosing Sochi had its drawbacks, not the least being that it is in the Caucasus region, one of the world’s most troubled hot spots. The Olympic Village is about five miles, walking distance for some, from Abkhazia, one of two breakaway regions of Georgia that ignited a war between that country and Russia in 2008. The restive region of Chechnya is also pretty much just down the road…
If the I.O.C. chose its cities more carefully, perhaps we would not be wondering whether athletes should be worried about showing their support for gay rights when they are in Russia. Of course, a couple of more votes for Pyeongchang seven years ago and we might be talking about the security issues in that city, which is close to unstable North Korea. Not much better, right? But we will have a chance to worry about that, anyway, because the I.O.C. chose Pyeongchang, over Munich and Annecy, France, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics…
On the immediate Olympic horizon is Sochi, then Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Already, the decision to give Rio the Games has become an issue because the city has been evicting poor residents of some of the country’s biggest slums to make way for Olympic construction…
Kudos to President Obama for doing the right thing, and especially to all the LGBT activists who called for protests/relocation/boycotts even as the Sensible Moderates assured them any action would be (a) useless and (b) counterproductive. Sometimes you really do have to ask for the “impossible” in order to get the merely difficult…
I read a good quote today from Anatole France (the guy who said “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”) it seems the world really never changes:
“Stupidity is far more dangerous than evil, for evil takes a break from time to time, stupidity does not.”
But on a lighter side he also said,”When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple; take it and copy it.”. So I will gift you this Tom Lehrer:
I am a little space geeky, so I got excited when I learned that Gaia is safely on her way. Cool stuff.
Luckovich unveils the new mascot for the Olympics.
@Schlemizel: Originality is just undiscovered plagiarism. Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.
I want Khodorkovsky to play as special guest with Pussy Riot on the Rainbow Warrior III or whatever they’re up to now. Off the coast of France.
Mika agrees with Bobby Jindal!
The 1988 Summer Games were in Seoul, which is about the same distance or closer to unstable North Korea. Now, “The Great Leader”(Kim Il Sung) was in charge then, but I doubt that even his nutty grandson(“The Nutty Leader”) will cause trouble.
@raven: I turned it off after “Happy Friday”.
And yes, a great way to start the day is with a little Tom Lehrer. In honor of Pope Francis, I give you the Vatican Rag.
Obama hits them where it hurts with tha gay.
Maybe he should try that with Congress.
Of course she does, she does represent the liberal side on the show, right?
Am still waiting for the love for people of color and progressive, pro-labor economics from the gay community, inasmuch as the gay community is getting pretty much anything it could ever ask for or dream of.
The outrage at the Duck Dynasty goobers is interesting – the public statements have bypassed the really ugly racism, and the A&E statements essentially ignore it, focusing instead on the gay hate.
It’s almost like there are a whole lot of glibertarian white males in the group driving the activism – such a surprise….
@raven: Is there any mention that A & E has the right to suspend bigots?
The article also mentions that the blacks were happy, happy, happy in the pre-welfare, pre-civil rights days. For some reason, the MSM overlooks that. ‘
@Botsplainer: Great minds think alike!
@JPL: Growing up in Memphis, I had always been a fan of blues music. Now I learn that there wasn’t any before the civil rights movement.
@JPL: Gay white males are some of the biggest racists out there. And because they have the ghey card, they feel it gives them even more of a pass to express those views. Yeahno.
The news media is trying to paint a sympathetic view of the duck dynasty person by using religious beliefs as an excuse. The guy is a bigoted asshole.
@Botsplainer: Heck, they honored the dude who wrought the dadt on them instead of the dude who repealed it. That oughta tell ya something.
@JPL: And not funny.
No particular interest in any Olympic sports.
However, trivia: the resurrection of the modern Olympics included medals for tug o’ war, plus for for a myriad of non-sport events, such as (really) town planning, art, and literature.
@Yatsuno: How ya feeling Yatsy? The kid’s been visiting so I’ve not been keeping up with things here.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
When gay white males finally have all of their civil rights, they will be a Republican constituency group.
@BillinGlendaleCA: From 6am:
@MikeJ: Awake, but it’s also med time here in a few anyway. Might be going over to Cherry Hill either today or tomorrow, will update info as I know more.
Chocolate chip scone for brekkies. Also. Too.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
Naturally. Who is better qualified to put an uppity gay woman in her place than a gay man? QED
how about it’s time to shut down the olympics for another 2200 years. the original sense of the games has been completely lost anyway. i haven’t watched in years, not being able to tolerate the unbridled commercialism and unending ‘human-interest’ stories, for which i have no patience.
IIRC, it was calls to boycott the Olympics altogether that were criticized.
Snowman should attend at get his picture taken with all professional athletes – that woud be a slap in the face. I did like the US Snowboarding jacket, made in Taiwan.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
But we get to keep the lesbians, right?
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
What did he do?
@kc: Sold us under the bus.
@srv: I wouldn’t be surprised if Snowden were to be taken there and paraded around for the cameras, but not be allowed to speak to anyone.
Maybe he’ll light the torch.
Maybe Greenwald and his partner should fly to Russia for a photo op and really slap Obummer in the face. I’m sure they’d be welcomed with open
@Baud: Good grief, that would be hilarious.
That would be absolutely awesome.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Andrew Sullivan said something like this a few years ago before DADT was repealed. He said that he thought gay men were a natural constituency for the Republican party, but he thought lesbians would stay with the Democrats.
Of course he didn’t elaborate because that would have forced him to admit that once gay men had equal rights they could then focus on their greed and forget about helping anyone else who hadn’t been so lucky. While women are always a step behind in the rights department and therefore a better fit for the Democratic party, who care about things like equal rights for all.
I’m gaywornout. So tired of every insult and slight being news. I read that the LGBT population is less than 5% and yet they seem to control the headlines every day. Please just become a normal part of our diverse population and stop the “I’m special” crap.
They aren’t the ones claiming to be special, it’s the Russians who put people in prison for being gay who think that gay people are awfully darned special.
@Violet: that would be “bell curve” “fifth column” Andrew Sullivan? Keen intellectual, he.
Camus thought similarly: “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way, as we would see if we weren’t always so wrapped up in ourselves.” (The Plague)
And yet, the species endures itself…
@Fuzzy: Who gives a fuck what you are tired of douchebag?
With his hair.
@debbie: Einstein (reputedly): “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
@chrome agnomen: hear, hear! totally agree. Fuck the Olympics. Jingoistic bullshit that is now completed merged with greed. Two of humanities worst traits.
And I’m pretty sure something bad is going to happen in Sochi.
@amk: Dammit. Curses. What a way to start the morning.
@Fuzzy: they’d love to be a normal part of society, but the bigots of the world won’t let them. And something tells me you just might be in their number. And if you aren’t a bigot, you sure as shit seem like a dickhead.
But I mean that in a nice way.
So after ten years in jail, is Khodorkovsky still an archival?
It does make me wish we’d get an Olympics again. Maybe that’d force us to close that prison in Cuba. Or stop drone bombing weddings for a week.
I would enjoy it if this Duck Dynasty thing became the straw that broke the camel’s back on lifestyle reality TV.
I liked the idea of the early competition stuff – Survivor, Amazing Race, Top Chef, even the sobbing fatties on The Biggest Loser. Those showed people striving and achieving, and you learned a little bit.
Then some production assholes (particularly that fuckstain Andy Cohen) figured they could make bank on cheaply following around narcissists with cameras, and couch potatoes would watch. No sets, no contest development, just pot stirring. Those shows have erased informational programming.
How is Yatsuno doing? Been thinking of him, winging good vibes over the Pacific. Hope they are getting there.
Eta I am off for some zzzs.. brought my beautiful daughter home from airport. I a exhausted. Need sleep to spend time with her on morrow. Have a great day juicers. Especially Yatsuno!
Chechens are going to happen.
@Debbie(aussie): He was here awhile ago and he’s hoping to be moved to the rehab facility. Hopefully, he went back to sleep because the first post would have been made about three a.m. his time.
@Debbie(aussie): surgery was successful yet painful (natch), he’s on pain meds and is duecedly uncomfortable but coping thus far.
good chance of them doing something and then the Russians will react in their typical overreaction style. They’ll murder the rebels who take the Swiss bobsled team captive, but they’ll murder the Swiss bobsled in the process..and the Canadian curling squad sleeping in the next building, too. Measured response is not in their vocabulary.
Well, then, go sit by Botsplainer.
@Violet: “Andrew Sullivan said something like this a few years ago before DADT was repealed. He said that he thought gay men were a natural constituency for the Republican party, but he thought lesbians would stay with the Democrats. ”
Andrew Sullivan is 90% a bloomin’ idjit. He was saying that as the last wave of ‘we hate gayz’ laws and constitutional amendments was getting underway.
That’s a hell of a typo, man. I’d have to say “yes”.
BTW, a lot of what Putin just did has parallels in the USA. SCOTUS issued a ruling which legalized gay marriage, in the same week as they quite deliberately let the Confederacy go back several decades on voter suppression. Those two rulings do not make sense together.
The only logical explanation is that the first was used to provide some cover for the second.
@Barry: all democrat constituencies are seen as passing through a phase. Once those youth grow up and settle down, they’ll be a natural constituency for Republicans. As will immigrants (at least the good ones).
If they do, it must be the natural narcissism and greed that makes it such. Or are those qualities unique to gay men when we give reasons for it. I mean when married white women vote republicans, is that greed or just the general fickleness of women.
I’m a gay dude and most of the gay guys *I* know are center left to way left. But thanks for reducing a diverse population to a stereotype!
Also, I’ll be sure to pass along the news that gays are “getting everything they want” to the thousands of people a year who experience violence or lose their jobs because of their sexuality. They’ll be glad to know!
@magurakurin Nice bigoted dickhead huh? See, you just proved my point. I am tired of headlines being about a normal part of our world yet you interpret that as bigotry. In my 70+ years we have managed to become fairly civil, but the insistence that no one can object to anything related to people’s individuality will never happen.
@Botsplainer: I don’t know, there’s a sleight-of-hand piece in the Atlantic that has the opposite focus. It’s all pretty awful, as far as I’m concerned. And the guy has plenty of like minded assholes to back him up.
Maybe we could move the Winter Olympics to Taos.
I will give one thing to the I.O.C. When I read that article worrying about how the I.O.C picked those dangerous, scary places in South Korea and Brazil instead of Munich or Annecy… By that logic the Olympic Games would never happen outside of Western Europe/North America/Japan, and that’s waaay more problematic to me. So good on the I.O.C ! And, I guess, Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang for making their cases successfully ? Come to think of it, if I knew how that sausage got made I’d probably disapprove, so maybe forget the whole thing.
If you think Russian attitudes toward gays are bad, well, they are, but wait’ll you see the racism that will be on display at the 2018 World Cup.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
Pretty much says what I was thinking. Thanks, Raven, for putting it so succinctly.
No, you’re proving HIS point.
And, yes, you ARE being a bigot. Or, at least, being stupid.
Drop the privilege. You are at least able to do that…way too many people can’t stop the effects of being gay and an actual part of the world.
Well then you’re going to be distressed to learn that the latest lifestyle program to be announced will revolve around the polygamy family in Utah that has won some court battle recently. Oy.