Putin Forever?

At least with George Bush, no matter how much we dislike him and how much we question the legitimacy of the 2000 election, only the most paranoid really think that he will try to stay around more than eight years. In Russia, some believe Putin may remain in power forever:

“He will not leave,” Sergei Stepashin, head of Russia’s accounting chamber, was quoted as saying in the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily Saturday. “I think he will find the kind of formula in which he would step down, but stay on.”

Stepashin, a former prime minister, secret services chief and KGB veteran, suggested that Putin’s post-Kremlin future could be modelled loosely on that of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who in the 1990s was widely considered to retain backroom power despite his retirement.

Asked what sort of options Putin might consider, Stepashin answered: “Lots. Party leader, head of parliament, government, a new state council.”

Dumb But Smart

Imagine completing your thesis and graduating from the London School of Economics and being labeled “dumb-but-smart” by The Washington Post. I guess that’s what’s in store if you first become known for sexual acts (or non-sexual acts if you take everything Bill Clinton said as truth) with the President. Monica Lewinsky ‘s thesis had nothing to do with thongs or stained dresses and was entitled “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity.”

The article is in the Arts and Living section and therefore doesn’t have anything to say about jury selection but does consider other celebrities who are dumb-but-smart:

Ashton Kutcher! Majored in biochemical engineering in college. (Huh?) And: Jessica Simpson, who famously didn’t know the difference between tuna and chicken, and posited that buffalo wings are made from buffalo. Simpson’s mother once told Vanity Fair that her daughter has “this, like, 160 IQ And, you know, that’s, like, a genius level.”

They note that the dumb-but-smart crowd extends to politics. They sidestep the question of whether this applies to the current President but have no qualms about bringing up a former Vice President:

But Dan “potatoe” Quayle is a good example. It is easy to remember his dumb moments, but it’s its also worth recalling that Quayle earned a law degree and was the youngest-ever senator from Indiana when he was elected. These are accomplishments that require — at the very least — emotional intelligence and some intellectual capacity, if not the genius of, say, Jessica Simpson.

Personally I think that pappy’s choice of Quayle was his way of looking for the qualities he sees in his own son. As for the previous President, they present a different category:

President Clinton, meanwhile, seems more like a smart guy who does stupid things than a stupid guy who does smart things. We’ll call this category smart-but-dumb. American history is replete with examples of people like him, bright people prone to idiotic behavior. The invasion of the Bay of Pigs is an example of what happens when smart people make dumb decisions. Also, “Ishtar.”

Daily Kos Reviews Exit Polls

Besides placing checks on the Executive Branch, the Democratic victories in the midterm elections are providing another benefit. They have reduced the talk in the liberal blogosphere about stolen elections. Before the election I received responses to some of my posts critical of the most tin-foil hat theories claiming that the Republicans could easily change the election results and there was no way they could lose.

Clearly the Republicans do not have a magic button to push in order to change election results, even in the Diebold machines. Many of the theories of a stolen election were based upon misinterpretation of the exit polls. DemFromCt has a front page post at Daily Kos which reviews data on exit polls, such as the work by Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal disputing the claims made by people like Robert Kennedy, Jr. The post notes how exit polls have historically over-estimated Democratic votes and that “exit polls are designed to see how people voted, not to predict winners…The bottom line is that data that’s used to support a pre-existing agenda is likely to be misread. The exit polls didn’t prove Kerry won in 2004…”

There are problems which need to be corrected in elections, but the arguments based upon exit poll results,and the conclusions of a stolen election based upon them, are not valid and distract from the real issues.