He first appeared publicly two weeks ago, on November 17, to say he had escorted a battery of Russian Army BUK missiles from Russia into Ukraine early in the month of July 2014; that was days before Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was downed and destroyed on July 17, 2014.
Tarakanov’s claim contradicts everything known for seven years and made public by the US National Intelligence Council, State Department and White House; the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD); the Russian Defence Ministry; the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) headed by Dutch police; Dutch prosecutors at the murder trial which opened in Schiphol in March 2020; the presiding judge at the trial Hendrik Steenhuis, and his secret investigating judges; the Dutch lawyers defending the Russian Army officer in the dock; and the agency in charge of all evidence in the prosecution’s case file, the Ukrainian Security Service SBU.
Tarakanov is an unusual name Russians aren’t keen to have. It means cockroach. As insects go, these are very ancient – about 350 million years – very hardy, very numerous. There is no evidence that soldier Igor Tarakanov exists – except for a publication in English by the Bellingcat group two weeks ago, and in Russian at the same time by a related publication, TheInsider.
A High Court judge in London has ruled sharply against Catherine Belton and Rupert Murdoch’s book publisher HarperCollins dismissing their principal lines of defence against a multi-million pound case for libel by Roman Abramovich and the Russian state oil company Rosneft.
Yesterday, in two detailed examinations of Belton’s allegations of a corrupt conspiracy masterminded by President Vladimir Putin and implemented by Abramovich, Rosneft and others, Justice Amanda Tipples (lead image) dismissed the publisher’s case that Belton had been justified in reporting opinions from named or anonymous sources. The judge’s rulings cast doubt on the credibility of Belton’s sources, requiring lawyers for the defence to show in trial next year that Belton’s reporting proves the truth of her “statements of fact”. This sets the stage for one of the largest and most expensive court tests of truth and faking in the Anglo-American war against Russia.
Worse for Belton and HarperCollins, Tipples ruled that their allegation that Rosneft had created a fake transaction to bribe Putin with $300 million is a statement of fact which Belton is unlikely to be able to prove in the witness box on oath and under cross-examination. Tipples dismissed Belton’s method of using sources whose “denials do not provide any antidote to the information provided by Mr Kondaurov or the anonymous source.”
“This is a big blow to the anti-Russian propaganda that’s the basis for the US and European sanctions war”, a New York attorney with multinational clients comments. “It will have a bigger impact than the recent Justice Department Russiagate indictments exposing sources connected to the secret services whose lies to the media and FBI are going to land them in jail.”
Evgeny Dobrenko (lead image, left) is a letter-perfect demonstration of several things he appears, despite years of learning at universities from Odessa to Durham (North Carolina) and Sheffield (Yorkshire), not to have heard of.
In the academic world, like any other business, it’s the money which does the talking, pays the piper, calls the tune. Upward mobility it is called less musically by sociologists. That means ambition fulfilled – promotion up the professorial ranks, rising wages, bonuses, and holiday trips which require conformity and usually a kindly attitude towards the world in return for more of its rewards.
Downward mobility is the reverse – ambition blocked, wages declining, unkindliness toward those individuals, institutions and states which are blamed for the individual’s fate and resented for his obscurity. Evgeny Dobrenko blames Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin.
Starting with a surname from the Russian word meaning kind, Dobrenko has suffered grievously from them. He started well enough, upward for a Jewish boy from provincial Odessa to the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow, a creation of the first flush of Boris Yeltsin’s administration and of Americans arriving to dismantle the Soviet state, army, banking system, and culture. Born a decade after Stalin’s death, Dobrenko managed only two years in Moscow before moving to Durham, where the university called Duke is situated. The years flew by with fellowships promising promotion and employment at more prestigious places that didn’t materialise. Dobrenko got his taste for the feast, but not a tenured seat at the table. As he dropped professionally downward, he took jobs at Nottingham, then Sheffield university. It was from there Dobrenko, a US citizen, has been watching Putin from afar. Between Stalin and Putin Dobrenko has detected no difference at all.
The explanation for this is also Dobrenko’s apology for himself. “The Soviet state”, he concludes, “magnified the flaws of the Russian Middle Ages… after a short pause [Yeltsin] Russia returned with such irrevocable readiness to the same fantasies of imperial grandeur and phantom pains… The country created by Stalin did not escape this past which has remained as its present. Putin’s Russia returned… in a natural fashion to late – but still not bygone – Stalinism”.
The “phantom pains”, Dobrenko explains, include “anti-liberalism, anti-modernism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism… inflicted on the country, just as any autocrat transforms his personal complexes into a national agenda (such a link can be easily traced in Putin’s Russia)”.
This is conventional Russia hating and war propaganda except for an unusual twist — Dobrenko is the director at the University of Sheffield of the Prokhorov Centre for the Study of Central and Eastern European Intellectual and Cultural History. Named by the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and created with money from Prokhorov’s Moscow foundation in 2014, the University of Sheffield didn’t announce the philanthropy then or since. University officials refused this week to disclose how much money Prokhorov paid seven years ago and continues to pay today. According to the Centre website, its “strategic priority” is to address “the ideological bases for conflict and barriers to cooperation and the bridges that have been built, and could be built, towards greater understanding and collaboration.”
Remember the ten plagues of Pharaonic Egypt – the Israelites capitalised and made their getaway to a happy ending. The story has turned into several blockbuster movies and tons of popcorn have been consumed watching them.
There have been two plagues on the Russian film industry, but one is permanent, and there is no escape, no happy ending, no popcorn. This is the story of how the plague of money – from the state budget, oligarch groups, and state banks – is saving the film studios and cinemas from death by coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the story of scandal and corruption around the state financing system that is killing Russian audience demand. This is a blockbuster no Russian director, studio producer, cinema operator, or even film critic dares to present in public.
There is another scandal no one in the industry acknowledges. This is the role of the state-directed Gazprom group which acts as import agent and cinema distributor for the Hollywood studios. Counting all films which have taken more than $5 million at the Russian box office over the past fifteen years, the US hits out-number the Russian, 532 to 172. That’s a ratio of three to one.
For the time being, the state banks now shielding the cinema chains from bankruptcy see the marketing of Hollywood films as their guarantee of getting their money back with profit.
Russian poets are hardly the only ones to think they are irresistible on account of what comes out of their mouths.
The two I’ve known best, Yevgeny Yevtushenko (lead image, right) of Irkutsk and Ted Hughes of Yorkshire, were irrepressible on the point, which helps account for some of the fatuities in their poems.
It’s well-known that of the ancient Latin greats, Ovid had a laughably large nose. I suppose Catullus must have been just as ugly for his inamorata, Clodia Metelli, not to fall for his compositions. So it seems the more beautiful the poetry, the uglier the poet. Byron thought himself the exception, but wasn’t. Cavafy didn’t think so, but was.
Yevtushenko, the Russian poet who was more popular in his day than any other before or since, was quite sensitive about his nose.
When he was a teenager he “discovered in my nose if not ugliness at least some obvious duckliness. For a while I almost stopped writing poetry and wasted a huge amount of time manipulating no less than two mirrors investigating the configuration of my nose with the fragile hope that this, not the best part of my face, would improve as I asked in my prayers. But, my nose tragically refused. Having lost all hope for it I began step by step to try to adjust to my own profile. It was an additional waste of time. Only when someone’s shy lips whispered three magic words to me — and you can guess what they were — did I finally forget about this nasal problem. Until this moment I live in the pleasant illusion that I am not so ugly as to have to commit suicide.”
By the time he said that in 1994, Yevtushenko, who of course had read Gogol’s story of the man whose nose ran away from him, was kidding. Yevtushenko knew very well how he attracted women. He also knew that by then it wasn’t the poems that did the trick. Also, by then he had come to the realisation there was no place for him, nose or poetry, in the Russia which had succeeded the Soviet Union. So he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is where he was when he died aged 84 on April 1, 2017.
He was taken to Moscow for burial. Representing the state at the funeral was Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the most powerful figure in the country after the President Vladimir Putin. What Yevtushenko would have resented about that was that Putin didn’t appear in person.
For his burial Yevtushenko scored another career goal. His grave is beside Boris Pasternak’s, a writer and poet Yevtushenko thought, and said publicly, was an inferior and a mediocrity. In the end, Russian politics has reduced the two of them to the same level in the ground – except that as he went down, Yevtushenko demonstrated he understood Russian politics much better, and the discreditable role the Russian intelligentsia usually plays — before the Revolution, during Stalin, during Yeltsin, nowadays. Yevtushenko said so; Pasternak didn’t dare.
On November 7-8, this website published a report on what the indictment of Igor Danchenko by the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Counsel John Durham didn’t mean, and what consequences it was unlikely to have. The title was: Does the US Government really intend to make lying about Russia a crime? The question was more than rhetorical, it was ironical.
In the days following, more evidence has been published which fills out the blanks in that report, also heaping irony upon irony. This work provides fresh evidence about individuals; organisations; a trail of urine from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Moscow; money trails and plots which the Danchenko indictment masks with anonymous tags, overlooks, or conceals deliberately.
Research and detective work by Liane Theuerkauf in Munich, Stephen McIntyre and his ClimateAudit website in Canada, Marcy Wheeler and her EmptyWheel blog in Houston, Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller in Washington, DC, and others deserve to be expanded here and followed up. They are instructive; Aaron Maté and his Grayzone colleagues, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Jimmy Dore ignore or misrepresent this research while trying to sell you false scoops they attribute to themselves.
British government officials. state prosecutors, and police have lied repeatedly in announcements over the past three years that they have issued European Arrest Warrants charging three Russian military officers with attempted murder using the Novichok chemical weapon against targets in England.
The three Russians have been named in official British press releases as Alexander Petrov (also known as Alexander Mishkin); Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga); and Denis Sergeyev (Sergei Fedotov – lead image).
This week a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London declared: “I can confirm that European Arrest Warrants have been issued for all three suspects.” Asked for proof, a senior CPS official refused, announcing: “We have nothing further to add.”
In The Hague, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) administers the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme and maintains the database of all EAWs requested by the UK and issued for circulation to the European states. The Eurojust spokesman, Ton van Lierop, was asked this week to confirm details of the EAWs which the British claim to have obtained for the three Russians. Van Lierop replied: “we have not found any records of the cases mentioned.”
Not white or black; neither the Big Lie nor the small one. Those are differences between what’s true and what’s false.
In our war-fighting world the real difference between lies is whom you tell your Russia lie to. This is according to the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the indictments they have composed against Michael Sussmann (lead image, left) and Igor Danchenko (centre).
Their lies were told in aid of, and in hope of reward from Hillary Clinton. Among the rewards which one Russian, their Russian sub-source number 1, told them in exchange for his lies were Clinton’s autograph and a promise “to take me off to the State Department [to handle] issues of the former USSR and then we’ll see who is looking good and who is not.”
Five years after their lies started, it is now the official position of the US Government that these conmen invented the story of Donald Trump’s Golden Showers on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow. In the interval, the gullibility of the government and lawlessness of the liars they engaged have demonstrated for all to see who is looking good now and who is not.
Alternatively, the five-year interval and the indictments of Sussmann and Danchenko demonstrate nothing of the sort. This is because much bigger lies about Russia remain the official policy of the US Government. They are on trial in the High Court of London where the liars are Catherine Belton (right) and Rupert Murdoch’s publishing outlet, HarperCollins.
When David Cornwell (aka John Le Carré) died after a bathroom fall last December, the current chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6), Richard Moore, announced by tweet that Cornwell had been “a giant of literature who left his mark on MI6 through his evocative and brilliant novels”. By mark, Moore didn’t mean blot.
On October 21, the last of the Le Carré novels was published. Called “Silverview”, it starts with a whopping mistake on the first line. It continues making mistakes until the last page where the final words Le Carré wrote were: “and that’s the last secret I’ll keep from you”. The publisher has followed with twelve blank pages. No mistaking them – they are Le Carré’s evocation of the state of mind inside the Service from Moore down.
Not a secret he can keep from you. Nor a mistake by Le Carré.
The Russia bunker-buster information bomb, Catherine Belton’s (lead image) Putin’s People, proved to be a dud at a London ceremony last week. In its award for the best non-fiction book about Russia for 2020, Pushkin House announced the winner was a retiring Oxford don whose “long and distinguished career” had displayed “wisdom and insight.”
Despite lobbying by Belton’s supporters and the publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins, Belton’s book was relegated. Pushkin House doesn’t have a prize for fiction about Russia.
Sources familiar with the book prize review believe that HarperCollins’s recent acknowledgement of fabrication and unprofessional conduct by Belton in an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit by Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, and ongoing lawsuits from Roman Abramovich and Rosneft in London’s High Court, cast doubt on the veracity of the book and of the author. After accepting a donation from Alexei Navalny in 2018, and a sharp fall in investment income last year, Pushkin House’s trustees and donors decided they could not afford to risk fresh political controversy.
The High Court case against Belton and HarperCollins is continuing. If it proceeds to a full hearing of witnesses and evidence, with appeals, London lawyers estimate it will cost all sides about £100 million. The risk of penalty damages and cost indemnity judgement against HarperCollins doubles the potential cost to a figure roughly equal to last year’s accumulated earnings for the publishing company, $303 million (£220 million).
But last week, in a fresh signal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is concerned at the financial losses British exporters and investors are paying for Whitehall’s information war against the Kremlin, he told President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call “the UK’s current relationship with Russia is not the one we want.” In the matching Kremlin communiqué, Putin said he and Johnson “expressed the shared opinion that, despite obvious problems, it is necessary to establish cooperation between Moscow and London in a number of areas.”
The “obvious problem”, both understand, is the faction of British government, military and secret service officials who are running the information war, continuing their engagement in the Skripal and Navalny Novichok operations. But official support for Belton’s book is waning, sources close to the High Court case believe. It is likely to weaken further as new evidence and witnesses appear, and as defence lawyers worry that Belton will be unable to withstand cross-examination in court.
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.