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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Gary Kasparov: A True Russian Patriot

Thomas Jefferson, American hero.

What did he do before the American revolution? Well, he inherited property from his father and lived off the free labor of slaves while reading a bunch of books and becoming a smart guy.

What did he do during the American revolution? Well, one thing he didn't do was fight (like George Washington). Or travel around the country giving speeches that left him a marked man (like John Adams). Or plan the new government (like James Madison). Or the new economy (like Alexander Hamilton). Basically, what he did was to help write a really nice prose poem about the value of liberty and what it meant to be an American, something called the Declaration of Independence. In other words, he scribbled.

And after the revolution? What did he do? Well, he got elected president. Kind of. The way George "Dubya" Bush did in 2000. That is, the people didn't exactly vote for him, but he cleverly pulled some strings. He tied Aaron Burr in the Electoral College and then the House of Representatives chose him to be president in a naked political ploy directed by Alexander Hamilton, who then fought a duel with Burr and was killed. While president, Jefferson the so-called democrat took one of the most undemocratic actions in American history, purchasing the Louisiana territory without the approval of Congress, something the Constitution bans the U.S. president from doing. Oh yeah, and all this time he kept right on owning and profiting from all those slaves.

Yet, Americans look back on Jefferson's contributions to their country and call him a "Founding Father." Some crazed Russophiles even say that Vladimir Putin will be viewed this way by Russians, in the fullness of time, given a fair chance.

But Gary Kasparov, the guy who's risking his life standing up to Putin, and whose thousands of followers regulary face threats and beatings doing the same? He's just a nut job, right? Clearly crazy, deserves to be dismissed out of hand, right? Unlike the brilliant Grigori Yavlinsky of Yabloko, whose cowardice has caused his party to go the way of the Dodo, right?

Hmmm.

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