And so the first (relatively modest) listrnof federal lower-court nominees putrnforth by President Bush in May—a listrnthat even included two minorit)- judgesrnoriginally placed on the bench by PresidentrnClinton —alarmed the Borkcrs.rnParticular fire was directed at MichaelrnMcConnell, a soft-spoken professor atrnthe University of Utah School of Law,rnwho was nominated for a seat on the U.S.rnCourt of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.rnMcConnell was an editor of the law reviewrnwhile a student at the Universit)- ofrnChicago Law School; he then clerked forrnan appeals-court judge and for SupremernCourt Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Hernlater ser’ed as assistant to the U.S. solicitorrngeneral, assistant general counsel forrnthe U.S. Office of Management andrnBudget, and as a law professor at the Universit)’rnof Chicago for a dozen years. Hernwas recently offered a tenured appointmentrnat the Harvard Law School. He isrnan exceptionally effective advocate beforernthe U.S. Supreme Court, often represenhngrnreligious organizations. It is difficidtrnto imagine someone with morernimpeccable credentials, but McConnell,rnlike almost ever)’ other serious student ofrneonstituhonal law, had expressed reserxationsrnabout Supreme Court decisionsrn”discovering” a right to abortion in thernConstitution, as well as similar acts of judicialrncreativit)’.rnMcConnell is also generally known tornbe a person of strong personal religiousrneonviehons, and he has argued that thernoriginal understanding of the Constitutionrnincluded some place for religion inrnthe public square. The Rev. Barry W.rnLynn, executive director of AmericansrnUnited for Separation of Church andrnState, immediately Borked: “This nominationrnrepresents a terrible assaidt onrnAmerican freedom by the Bush administration.rnMcConnell is the religiousrnrighf s dream court nominee. He’s a conservahvernChristian who’s willing to usernthe force of government to impose hisrnviewpoint.” Reverend Lynn isn’t quiternup to Senator Kennedy’s standards, butrnhe shows promise. Soon it may be timernto recall Sen. Alan Simpson’s words duringrnthe Bork hearings, when he calledrnthe Borkers “the 4-H Club of hype, hoorah,rnhysteria and hubris.” Said Simpson,rn”I referred to them once as ‘hug-eyedrnzealots.’ I have no reason to change thatrnopinion at all.” Nor would he have onernnow.rn— Stephen B. PresserrnVLADIMIR PUTIN’S one-vear anniversaryrnas president of Russia wasrnmarked by a Soviet-style celebration.rn”We are back to pretending again,”rnmy Russian friend commented as wernwatched the stage-managed antics of severalrnthousand young people, all of themrnwearing T-shirts bearing the likeness ofrnVladimir PuHn, converging on VasilevskyrnSpusk (adjacent to the Kremlin) onrnMay 7. They are members of a pro-Putinrnyouth organization, one of several thatrnhave sprung up in recent months. Ever’-rnbody wants to suck iqj to vlast (the authorities,rnthough the “powers that be”rnmight be closer to the Russian) nowadays.rnRussian elites have more or lessrnconsolidated aroimd the “little colonel,”rnas the ex-KGB officer is derisively calledrnb’ some of my Russian pals who see thernhand of the Kremlin behind the “Marchingrn’I’ogether” groiqi’s performance.rnSome of the participants openly admittedrnthat “material incentives” had played arnrole in their trip (they were shipped inrnfrom all over the countr)’) to Moscow.rnPutin is obviously a front man, a suitrnput forward by elites to protect the kleptocracyrnbuilt by his predecessor, BorisrnYeltsin. He has not let them down. Hernput on a good show, seizing control ofrnVladimir Gusinsky’s NTV station, runningrn”Gus” out of town, and lettingrnRussia’s former “oligarch number one,”rnBoris Abramovich Berezovsky (BAB),rnknow he was unwelcome in these parts.rnThus, Mr. L,aw and Order made “war onrnthe oligarchs,” providing cover for Gusinsky’srnand Berezovsky’s replacements, whornare now busy fighting over the morsels ofrnproperty Gus and BAB left behind. Itrnturns out that the “war on the oligarchs”rnwas just another “re-division of propert}’,”rnwith Russia’s gangsters/oligarchs cuttingrnup the shrinking economic pie oncernmore.rnMeanwhile, Russia is being whittledrnaway, little by little. The countr)”s infrastructurerncontinues to wear out. ThernMay 10 fire that knocked out a Russianrnmilitary command-and-control facilityrn(temporarily putfing several Russian spyrnsatellites out of action) was ju-st the latestrnin a series of “technological catastrophes”rn(the Kursk submarine disaster, the MoscowrnTV tower fire) that have illustratedrnthe coimtry’s technical/industrial decline,rnl l i e flamboyant “ultranationalist”rnVladimir Zhirinovsky has proposed legalizingrnmultiple marriages to help copernwith the country’s demographic disaster;rnRussia is losing nearly a million a year inrnpopulation, but nobody wants to talkrnabout the factors that have acceleratedrnthe country’s demise, including alcoholismrn(the state and Kremlin-friendlyrnoligarchs control the production and salernof vodka), abortion, and suicide. And thernoligarchs have found a profitable new industr)’,rnwith children disappearing fromrnorphanages and being sold by their relationsrnto supply the international trade inrnhuman organs.rnThere will be no Day of Reckoning forrnthe Russians, just the slow winding downrnof a nation and civilization in retreat. Sornthe Russians are back to pretendingrnagain, as they did under Brezhnev, thatrntheir countr)’ is a superpower, that theirrnleader is the Father of the Peoples, andrnfliat all is well and the plan has been overfulfilled.rnPutin, who particularly appearsrnto enjoy ceremony and the trappings ofrnpower, will hand out more medals in thernland where everybody is a hero. It is arnpainful thing to watch a countr)’ die. ThernWest should observe closely—and learn.rn—Denis PetrovrnO B I T E R DICTA: 2001 marks the 25thrnyear of publication oi Chronicles: A Magazinernof American Culture, and we haverndedicated this deluxe issue to reprintingrnsome of the best articles of the past quarter-rncentury. In addition, we have includedrn16 pages of excerpts that showcase thernbreadth of ideas and the depth of talentrnrepresented in Chronicles over the years.rnWe hope that you enjoy reading this issuernas much as we have enjoyed assemblingrnit.rnIf your favorite article isn’t reprintedrnhere, don’t despair. Simply droprnus a note at [email protected], and we’ll post your selectionrnon our website, Please limit yourself tornone request.rnAdditional copies of all of our backrnissues may be purchased by callingrn(800) 397-8160. This issue, in particular,rnmight be a good way to introduce a friendrnto Chronicles. Quantities are limited, sornplace your order now.rnIf you like the higher-quality paperrnand cover stock that we’ve used for this issue,rnplease consider a donation to help usrnmaintain it. Contact Executive EditorrnScott P. Riehert at (815) 964-5054 for fiirtherrndetails.rn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn