I've never been sure what to make of the celebrated "close friendship" that is said to exist between Bush and Putin -- to laugh at it because it is so obviously a fraud and a transparent media concoction, or to be horrified by the very remote possibility that it might be real. On the surface, the two men could not be starker opposites: Bush the silver spoon-fed dunce who was all but handed the reins of the American empire, and Putin the ultra-cunning self-made criminal mastermind who clawed his way to the top through the ranks of the Petersburg underworld. Putin bested a thousand superior men in one of the world's most lethal political arenas to get to where he is today; if he made that journey just to buddy up to a lumbering fool like George Bush, the world is an even darker place than I thought it was."
"As the experience of both post-communist Russia and America has proven beyond any doubt, the vast majority of journalists in this world will roll over for anyone who pays the bills even without the threat of violence. But you get a much more enthusiastic crowd of reportorial ball-washers and ass-kissers when you dash the brains out of the rare malcontent who steps out of line, and this is what Putin has achieved in Russia. That's why the best way to get a sense of what life is like for journalists in Russia these days isn't to ponder the crime scene of Anna Politkovskaya."* btw - i've long thought that the two most stupidly obvious 'advances' in blogospheric commenting technology were A) wysiwyg B) an aggregator where you could keep track of all your comments in one place and check to see if someone has responded or if you were whistling in the desert. Apparently A) is still beyond the geniuses at Blogger, Haloscan and Typepad - but it appears that there might be an answer to B). see www.cocomment.com I'm still testing it - so this isn't an endorsement.