The Russian potato is a hot potato politically for President Vladimir Putin. Much hotter than Alexei Navalny, and for a genuine, homegrown reason.
The Russian potato harvest suffered its worst fall last year since 2010. And the political chips will fall just as they did before – the public approval rating for the president, as well for government ministers, is falling. The outcome in the State Duma election of 2011 was a swing against United Russia, the government party, of 15%; the swings in favour of the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party were 8% and 12% apiece. That was the worst electoral rebuff Putin has suffered since he started in the year 2000.
Russian voters are like everyone else the world over. They blame hoarders and speculators when the price of staples starts to jump, and then government corruption for failing to stop them. In January, compared to a year ago, the wholesale price of potatoes was up 75%. And it is getting worse. By April, the wholesale price is expected to grow by another 20%. Between now and next September, when the parliamentary election will be held, Putin must solve the potato problem.
On the subject of oligarchy and the treasure storehouses which oligarchs build for themselves, Alexei Navalny reveals that he’s following a US and NATO script: this takes no account of how President Vladimir Putin rules Russia, or the choice most Russians believe is the preferred alternative to Putin – that’s rule by a combination of officers and civilians acceptable to the military. In the past, the name for that was the Stavka.
Most Russians believe the Army abhors the oligarchs and will eliminate them, along with their corruption, unless Putin can be persuaded to do so himself. For more than twenty years now he has been reluctant; but there is still time. In this effort Navalny’s films are a useful tool – a Russian one, but not one contrived with the assistance and operated for the benefit of Navalny’s foreign supporters.
US Government officials are protecting some of the largest Russian fraudsters and bank robbers on condition they invest their ill-gotten gains in US real estate, bank accounts, and businesses paying US tax; and also publicly attack the Putin administration for “victimising” them. The latest of these oligarch-sized accused, Vadim Belyaev (lead image), is facing trial in the New York State Supreme Court.
Belyaev is being sued by the state-owned Moscow banks, National Bank Trust and Otkritie Bank, for the return of about $1.2 billion in fake loans, fraudulent bond and debt-pyramid transactions he is alleged to have arranged for his own benefit, when he controlled the two banks and more than 150 offshore front companies through which he directed the cash to himself. His subordinates at the time are facing prosecution in Moscow for criminal fraud. The banks, which went bankrupt as a result of the asset stripping, remain under the administration of the Central Bank and the state Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA). The Central Bank is the 98% shareholder of Trust Bank and 100% shareholder of Otkritie.
Belyaev, say the banks, “exercised close control over Otkritie Holding and its subsidiaries, and repeatedly used his control to misuse assets of entities owned by Otkritie Holding, and often to siphon off those assets for personal use and the use of his associates.”
Among the homes he purchased in the US, one in Westchester county of New York state accommodates his ex-wife and children. Another, a ski chalet, in Aspen, Colorado, he recently sold for $12.5 million. Another of his homes has been identified in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. The town house in New York City where Belyaev and his current wife live, is palatial; Belyaev is paying rent of $80,000 per month.
Belyaev has yet to file a full statement of his defence in the New York court; that is due on February 5. He is asking the court to throw the case out on several grounds. One is that he has been victimised by the Central Bank’s bankruptcy procedures which he calls illegal “nationalization” of the banks. His second claim is that there is no proof that he controlled the banks or that fraud was committed in the alleged loan schemes. The third of Belyaev’s defences is that the court in New York has no jurisdiction over him, even though he lives a 10-minute walk from the courthouse.
The US Government is protecting Belyaev so far by granting him and his wife residency papers, together with Social Security and tax status. His name was omitted by the US Treasury when it published its list of Russian oligarchs on January 31, 2018; read that list here. Several Russian bankers were listed, including three on the run in Cyprus and London; their banks were not as large as Trust and Otkritie when Belyaev ran them, nor are their crimes as expensive as Belyaev’s.
The New York court is due to rule on dismissal on February 22. If the court allows Belyaev to continue living in the US, but protected from being pursued there for his crimes in Russia, it will amount to a declaration that oligarchs who steal but pay tribute in the US will be safe. By contrast, oligarchs who stay in Moscow but pay tribute to the Kremlin will be targeted by US sanctions.
This is also the catchcry of Alexei Navalny (lead image, 2nd from right) who has called for the US and European Union to “be very clear dividing two things: Russian people who must be welcomed and treated very warmly from European Union from my perspective, and Russian state [oligarchs who] must be treated like a bunch of criminals.”
Abdullah Bozkurt, the leading investigative journalist reporting on Turkey, has been threatened with assassination in Stockholm, Sweden, where he has been living since the July 2016 coup attempt in Istanbul. Bozkurt directs the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network, and publishes the Nordic Monitor.
The threat to kill was issued on CNN’s television network in Turkey on January 15. “Turkish national intelligence will find him, I’ll tell you that,” declared Mesut Hakkı Caşın, “I don’t know whether MIT [National Intelligence Organisation] will feed him to the fish or the sharks, but traitors always get their punishment some day.” Caşın is a member of the powerful Security and Foreign Policy Committee which was created in July 2018 by a decree of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (lead image, centre) giving the committee members the role of “proposing new policies, oversee implementation of policies and take macro decisions”.
Caşın, 65, also lectures at Turkish universities. His television remarks have been reported this week in Stockholm in the Nordic Monitor.
In addition to reporting from official Turkish military and police files on Erdogan’s corrupt involvement in the Syrian war, Bozkurt and the Nordic Monitor have published investigations of Erdogan’s involvement in schemes to kill Russians. These include the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov, shot in Ankara on December 19, 2016; and the ambush of the Russian Sukhoi-24 by Turkish F-16 fighters on the Syrian-Turkish border on November 24, 2015. Erdogan and Hulusi Akar, then chief of the Turkish General Staff, planned the attack on the Sukhoi; Akar then personally congratulated the Turkish pilot who had shot down the Russian aircraft.
A ruling by the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm last week to keep the biochemical contents of Alexei Navalny’s blood secret has created new evidence for Russian prosecutors in Moscow that Navalny has actively collaborated with foreign governments to fabricate the allegation that President Vladimir Putin attempted to kill him with a Novichok nerve agent.
Responding to a request by Mats Nilsson, a Stockholm lawyer, the appeal court ruled that a multi-page report on Navalny’s blood sampling and testing by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) and communications interpreting Navalny’s blood contents between Swedish analysts, the German Defence Ministry, and other NATO officials, are state secrets. They cannot be released publicly, the court wrote Nilsson on January 14, because declassification and publication “will damage Sweden’s relationships with a foreign power”.
The Stockholm appeal court did not identify the foreign power; it is clear from a public statement by the Swedish laboratory official in charge of the testing, Åsa Scott, that it is definitely not Russia. Scott is head of FOI’s department for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protection and security.
The Stockholm court also rejected Nilsson’s request for release of all Scott’s emails between August 20, the date of Navalny’s collapse on a flight between Tomsk and Moscow, and September 15.
On September 15, Scott issued a press release announcing: “FOI confirms German results on Novichok”. According to Scott, “I can confirm that we at FOI in Umeå have conducted an analysis on behalf of our German partners. Our analysis confirms the earlier German results. The blood sample from Mr. Navalny did unequivocally contain a nerve agent from the Novichok group.”
What the Swedish government officials did not anticipate at the time was that on December 22, a group of German doctors who had been treating Navalny at the Charité hospital in Berlin, would release their own biochemical analysis of Navalny’s blood, tested by the Germans on September 5; that was the same day the Swedes have reported taking their blood samples from Navalny in Berlin. The German testing, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, on December 22, revealed that Navalny’s blood on September 5 showed a level of butyryl cholinesterase so close to normal it would have been impossible for the Swedish laboratory to substantiate Scott’s press announcement.
The Swedish secret, which last week’s Stockholm court ruling has attempted to make lawful, is that there was insufficient evidence of Novichok as the cause of the cholinesterase inhibition effect which Navalny has called a Kremlin assassination attempt.
Independent toxicology and biochemistry experts believe the comparison of Navalny’s blood testing by the Germans on September 5 and by the Swedes on the same day proves there was no discoverable trace of Novichok in his blood that day. They also believe that by the time the Swedes began their analysis of the blood, there would also have been no trace of the lithium, benzodiazepamines and other drugs in Navalny’s blood, which, two weeks earlier, may have caused the sharp drop in his cholinesterase scores and triggered his collapse.
The Swedish black-out is of a black hole — the state secret is that the Swedish laboratory found no evidence of Novichok.
But now, for Navalny to continue making his allegation is exposed by the Swedish court judgement to show he is providing “assistance rendered to a foreign State, a foreign organization, or their representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation, committed by a citizen of the Russian Federation”. This is the wording in the Russian Criminal Code Article 275 for the crime of treason. If convicted, Navalny faces a prison term of 12 to 20 years.
How they are hanging is not a question usually asked of the President of the United States in the Oval Office, unless you are an intimate friend of his, or an interior decorator on the make.
There are far fewer of the former than of the latter, so whenever a president changes, the decorators make sure their changes are displayed too.
Some presidents like their office décor to show they have balls. The gold lamé curtains hung by Donald Trump behind the Resolute desk mesmerized the editor of the Financial Times and his staff when they were granted their first interview with Trump in April 2017; the president issued a threat to attack North Korea.
Alexei Navalny would have suffered from dramatic cholinesterase inhibition effects from the combination of drugs he took before his collapse and hospitalisation in Omsk on August 20, and before these drugs were detected in his blood and urine on his admission to the Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin on August 22.
European medical sources report the lithium found by the Berlin doctors in Navalny’s blood is commonly used to treat bipolar disorders. It is known to depress the butyryl cholinesterase which Navalny’s laboratory testing also revealed in the German hospital.
According to a leading medical psychiatrist treating patients for depression and bipolar disorder, if Navalny was also being treated to stabilise his insulin level with the well-known Metformin, that drug is known to be a cholinesterase inhibitor.
When Navalny appears in a Moscow court, his full medical records, including the laboratory tests recorded at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1 before he left for Germany, are likely to be produced in evidence. His previous medical history, including reported episodes of acute pancreatitis and diabetes, which Navalny’s spokesmen have denied, is also likely to be revealed.
At stake is a courtroom test of Navalny’s allegation that he was attacked with a Novichok nerve agent by men of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Also at stake is a forensic test of the medical evidence of Russian, German and other doctors that Navalny “collapsed because of the drugs he was taking”, as the expert source on the use and abuse of benzodiazepines says he suspects.
The western government case is that Navalny was the target of the crime of attempted murder, and that a Russian-made Novichok was the weapon used. The Russian government case is that the medical evidence is of a metabolic crisis caused by the combination of alcohol, lithium, and benzos taken by Navalny himself.
If the Russian prosecutors also charge Navalny with assisting the German intelligence agency BND, the CIA, MI6, and the Bellingcat propaganda unit to fabricate the Novichok story, Navalny will face Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code. That’s the crime of treason – “assistance rendered to a foreign State, a foreign organization, or their representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation, committed by a citizen of the Russian Federation.”
“Wherefore, by their fruits”, according to the Gospel writer’s version of the well-known warning, “ye shall know them”. In the attack on the website which occurred over last evening, it is wherefore by their pigeon fruit that we have worked out who the birds were, and what they intended.
Alexei Navalny believes he is throwing down a gauntlet for the Kremlin either to arrest him when he returns to Moscow from Berlin on Sunday, or to allow him to walk freely out of the airport. Either way, from behind bars as a political prisoner or from his Moscow film studio as an opposition candidate for regime change, Navalny and his supporters will announce they have shown strength, the President of Russia weakness. The one outcome Navalny hasn’t counted on is that Russians will be laughing at him.
This is the strategy of Vzglyad, the Moscow online newspaper which publishes sophisticated and accurate analysis of military, intelligence and security issues unmatched by the English-language media. It is almost unnoticed in the west, except for those services who believe it reflects the thinking of key figures, past and present, in the presidential administration. Because the Russian figures don’t think the way the western services or their media organs depict them, Vzglyad hasn’t drawn the attention of foreign reporters as do state media like RT, Sputnik, the Strategic Culture Foundation, and the Valdai Club.
On October 2, 2018, Vzglyad introduced an author whose pen name was reported as Nesh Van Drake (Нэш Ван Дрейк). These words are meaningless in English except that, spelled in Cyrillic, the first of the words evokes the Russian word Nash (Наш) meaning “our”. This was also the name of the black cat (lead image, 3rd from left) which lived with Sergei Skripal in his Salisbury house, until Skripal was attacked on March 4, 2018, and the cat was then put to death by the British. “To alleviate its suffering” was the reason of state announced at the time.
“Skripal’s cat” (Кот Скрипаля) is also the name on the byline for seventeen articles Vzglyad has published by this creature over the past two years. The other names are meant to sound both Dutch and English; to some ears they may be a reminder of Rip Van Winkle. He was the Dutch-American character invented by Washington Irving in a story he published in 1819. In that tale, van Winkle drinks a mystery liquor given to him by Dutchmen, causing him to fall asleep. When he wakes up again, it is twenty years later, and the American revolution has passed. Van Winkle’s first name is the abbreviation for Rest in Peace; Irving’s tale makes fun of people who have made themselves obsolete.
The German laboratory test results for Alexei Navalny, published by a group of doctors at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin last month, reveal a surprising number of medical symptoms, but they are not those of Novichok nerve agent poisoning as Navalny and his supporters in western governments have alleged.
Clinical doctors, toxicologists, and pharmacology experts outside Germany believe the test results which the Charité group released on December 22 reveal symptoms of acute pancreatitis, diabetes, liver failure, severe dehydration, muscular rigidity, as well as a serious bacterial infection, and a possible heart attack associated with his kidney problems. According to the experts, these are not recognisable symptoms of a nerve agent attack.
The German medical publication reports Navalny’s “laboratory values on admission”, and toxicology and pharmacology results “in blood and urine samples obtained on arrival of the patient of the patient at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (day 3)”. Accordingly, the newly available data are evidence of the condition Navalny was in during his two-day treatment in Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1 in Russia; and of the treatment he received there, as well as during his six-hour flight on a German medical evacuation aircraft from Omsk to Berlin.
The German doctors have also released a tabulation of their laboratory test results for Navalny during 33 days of his stay in the Charité hospital, and a subsequent visit to the hospital as an outpatient. The four data tables are described by the Germans as following “the supposed poisoning of the patient”. The doctors don’t wish to sign their names to this “supposing”.
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.