Streetwise Professor

March 4, 2013

The Most Loathsome Member of the Russian “Elite”

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:34 am

The competition is fierce, but Pavel Astakhov is opening up a big lead in the race for the title of Most Loathsome Member of the Russian Elite.  His outrageous and utterly cynical exploitation of the tragic death of Russian born Maxim Shatto is beyond disgusting.

Almost as soon as the 3 year old’s death was announced, Astakhov proclaimed on Twitter that the boy had been murdered by his adoptive American parents; was covered with bruises; and had been given large doses of “psychotropic drugs.”  The basis for these claims was . . . apparently voices in Astakhov’s head.  Actually, he didn’t need a basis: he was making stuff up.  He was just cynically exploiting a tragic death in order to advance a political cause.

When there was some pushback, Astakhov bravely deleted the accusatory tweets in classic Soviet, 1984-esque fashion.

Now officials have announced that four pathologists-including one from another Texas jurisdiction brought in to provide an independent evaluation-have concluded that Maxim’s death was accidental.  The boy suffered from a behavioral disorder that caused him to inflict self-injuries.  There were no drugs in the boy’s system.

It is highly likely that rather than being the poster child for the monstrous nature of American adoptive parent that Astakhov made him out to be, that Maxim was in fact just another example of a Russian child born to an alcoholic mother and condemned to a dysfunctional child “welfare” system who was given a chance by an American couple willing to take on a kid no Russian would take.

Maxim’s mother was-is-an alcoholic: her alcoholism is why her children were taken from her care.  After making an emotional public plea for the return of Maxim’s brother, adopted by the same Texas couple, she proceeded to get drunk; brawl with her (also drunk) boyfriend; and get thrown off a train for her behavior.  (If you’ve seen any of the accounts of drunken brawls on Russian airliners, you can imagine what you have to do to to get pitched from a train.)

The boy’s pictures reveal tell-tale signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the behavioral problems also suggest severe developmental problems likely caused by his mother’s drinking.  (FAS is also associated with an elevated risk of congenital heart problems.  The Maxim died of a ruptured abdominal artery.  I don’t know whether  FAS can lead to defects in the circulatory system.)  Russian media reports claim that the boy was rejected by six potential Russian adoptive families.

Maxim Shatto was the victim of abuse, all right.  In Russia.  From before he was born.  Texas was his last chance.  Tragically, it came too late.

I predicted from the moment Astakhov first shot off his mouth, in the event that Texas officials did not support his claims of murder he would claim cover-up.  And indeed, he has:

Russia’s federal child rights commissioner, Pavel A. Astakhov, suspected a cover-up.

“His bruises disappeared, medications dissolved, the adoptive parents were acquitted, the authorities renounced any claims,” Mr. Astakhov posted on Twitter. “The 3-year-old boy was the victim of big politics.”

Who, pray tell, has made “the 3-year-old boy . . . the victim of big politics” other than the loathsome Pavel Astakhov?  He is the one who politicized this deeply personal tragedy.

A bit about this slug’s background.  KGB-a graduate of a KGB law school.  He defended an accused American spy, Edmond Pope, and an oligarch whom Putin turned on, Vladimir Gusinsky.  His involvement in these cases is rather interesting.  I am sure his involvement was not due to his desire to protect the rights of those under legal assault by the Russian state.

For a Russian hyper-patriot, he shows a decided affinity for the luxuries of the West.  He went to a US law school (Pitt), and made sure that his 3d child was born in France, where his wife and child live in sumptuous surroundings.  He has complained of the extreme hardships he has had to endure, shuttling between Russia and the Cote D’Azur.

The Astakhov’s lifestyle has to be seen to be believed, and wouldn’t you know, he’s obliged with a glossy magazine spread.  Quite a contrast to the squalor in which the orphans and abandoned children in “Children’s Ombudsman’s” care live, eh?

One last thing.  US Secretary of State John Kerry has told Sergei (“The Tarantula”) Lavrov that he will personally investigate the deaths of Russian adoptees in America.  Quite frankly, this is none of the business of the federal government generally, or the Secretary of State specifically.  These matters are clearly the responsibility of state and local officials in the US’s federal system (as degraded as it is), and those boundaries should be respected.  That Kerry is willing to overstep his own authority to trample on his own countrymen, and implicitly question their competence, in order to pacify cynical Russian politicians who are exploiting human tragedies in order fan anti-American hysteria in Russia is outrageous in its own way.

If the State Department wants to serve as a bridge between the Russian government and local authorities-and especially if it wants to defend the interests and autonomy of said local authorities from Russian attempts to intimidate them-fine.  If the State Department wants to tell Pavel Astakhov to go f*ck himself-even better.  But it has neither the competence nor the Constitutional authority to investigate state and municipal officials or their acts.  I heartily encourage any local official to tell Mr. Kerry or his minions to mind their own business, and to do so in the least diplomatic terms possible.

March 3, 2013

Obama Commits a Gaffe, i.e., He Inadvertently Speaks the Truth

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 11:44 am

Obama’s sequester press conference was as appalling as expected.  Demagoguery, scaremongering, blame shifting, and a lot of “balanced approach” blather.  One thing jumped out at me though:

QUESTION: Just to make it 100 percent clear, you’d sign a budget that continues to fund the government even at the lower levels of the sequester, even if you don’t (inaudible)?

OBAMA: I’m not going to — I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys.

Take another look at that answer: “I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys.”  This is from the guy whose most annoying rhetorical tic (and the competition is intense) is: “Let me be clear.”  Hell, he said that during the same press conference.  From the guy who claims his is the “most transparent administration in history.”

So Obama committed a gaffe, in the Michael Kinsley sense of speaking the truth.  This is the kind of thing that happens when he doesn’t have his teleprompter in front of him.

It is interesting that no one has picked up this inadvertent admission, least of all the press.

March 1, 2013

Punk Cures That Punk Feeling

Filed under: Music — The Professor @ 10:39 am

I was feeling a little punk yesterday.  Punk as in “blah.”  But I had a ticket for the Dropkick Murphys so I sucked it up and went to the show, and I’m glad I did.  Punk cured my punky feeling.

I’ve seen them 5 times now, so I knew what to expect, and they met expectations.  Some new stuff, some old stuff, all good stuff.

I arrived only 15 minutes before the went on, so initially was  at the very edge of the floor crowd.  But I worked my way to the front.  Mainly by following a woman about 4’10” tall and 3′ wide who went through the crowd like a bowling ball.  I just followed in her wake, and made it to the rail as the attached pictures show.  A little rambunctious, a lot of checking, a lot of “Oi!”‘s but not too crazy.  Just fun crazy.

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