Saturday, March 1, 2008

Honesty OR Integrity? Choose ONLY One.

I'll admit, I'm a big fan of honesty. Even if you create some sort of major, major screw up, if you at least fess up to it and say you did it, you're winning some points for that in my book (which I know is important to all of the screw ups out there). Just say so. Like drunken, Hispanic, Indiana man who, when asked why he climbed down his girlfriend chimney, replied, "Look, I'm just a-drunk. We all do a-stupid things when we're a-drunk." Good for you dude! You're right. We all DO do a-stupid things when we're a-drunk. (Like attaching the letter "a" to the beginning of words.) At least he said so.

But I guess that I've always thought (and mistakenly, it seems) that if you have "honesty" you're automatically going to have some "integrity". Not the case, I learned. No. Not the case at all. Especially if you're in the Kremlin. According to The Guardian at guardian.co.uk, "The Kremlin is planning to falsify the results of this Sunday's presidential election in Russia by compelling millions of public sector workers to vote and by fraudulently boosting the official turnout after polls close." Well, now. That seems pretty clear. Wait. Maybe I misunderstood.

"Governors, regional officials, and even headteachers have been instructed to deliver a landslide majority for Dmitry Medvedev - Russia's first deputy prime minister, whom President Vladimir Putin has endorsed to be his successor." Nope. I understood.

I really was unaware that those sort of instructions could actually be given in the case of an "election". I kind of thought that those sort of instructions were what an "election" was supposed to take the place of. See, because if you're already planning what the outcome is going to be and you can make it be what you want it to be, it really takes a lot away from the election process as a whole and in and of itself. A lot. Like all of it.

"Local election officials are preparing to stuff ballot boxes once the polls have closed with unused ballots." That seems to be pretty clear as to how this is going to work. Oh, wait, it already works this way. This is what they do. And it's what they've done. Let's go back to December.

"The Kremlin used similar tactics during December's parliamentary elections ...Russian voters had become increasingly accepting of official vote rigging and no longer regarded it as anything unusual." Apparently the only one surprised by all of this is me. And I know I don't count.

Has anyone talked to Putin about this? Well....I think so. But, I don't think he's going to be very helpful."The only person with a real vote in this country is Vladimir Putin. He has already made his position known," he added. Asked whether he intended to vote himself on Sunday he replied: "Do I look like an idiot?" (You know you'd never hear George Bush ask that question, right?)

But there has to be a reason for this, right? Ready for their reason? "They can't be Saddam Hussein or the Chinese leadership. The idea is to gain legitimacy in the west."
Legitimacy. They're striving for legitimacy by fixing their election. That sounds kind of like the opposite of legitimacy to me.

But maybe I just don't understand how it works because it's different than the election process of the US. Take the campaigning. When was the last time you were able to look at a newspaper, turn on the TV or take a (short) break from looking at porn online and not be subjected to endless stories about the Presidential candidates? Never. Right. Over yonder in Russia, "up until this week, Medvedev has refused to campaign, claiming he has been to busy." Refused to campaign? It's not like they were waterboarding him into campaigning. He doesn't have to run for Grand Poobah of Russia. (I'll tell you though, I can think of at least a couple of Presidential wanna-bes that I wish would refuse to campaign. Not to mention who I'd like to waterboard as well.)

So who is this guy running against that he's so afraid of that he has to rig the election? Well, there's "the veteran communist leader Gennady Zyuganov", "the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhironovsky" and "a fake democrat, Andrey Bogdanov." And while I greatly appreciate the colorful descriptions and spellings, I am wholly unfamiliar with the term "fake democrat", although I do find it to be hil-arious. The whole rigging of Russian elections? Not so much.

So they're honest about the fact that they're doing something that totally undermines the whole point of what they're doing in the first place. Interesting approach. And while I appreciate the honesty, I have the feeling it might be one of the last times that anything honest comes out of Russia after the elections are over.

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