A Knife in Search of a Gunfight.

Uncle Volodya says, “When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.”

Sittin’ around the house,
watchin’ the sun trace shadows on the floor;
Searching for signs of life, but there’s nobody home…

Better Than Ezra, from “Good”

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

Frank Zappa

I imagine most of you have heard the expression, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”. The meaning is pretty self-evident, but the Free Dictionary helpfully frames its intent: “To come poorly prepared or equipped for some task, goal, competition, or confrontation. Often used in the negative as a forewarning or piece of advice.

You are far more likely to come ill-prepared for some task, goal, competition or confrontation if you are stupid. In recent years many of us have become accustomed to stupidity in our elected and appointed officials, but watching Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly’s performance of her duties is like being chained to the village idiot. To put the situation in the context of the expression above, sending her abroad to represent even the flailing country this one has become is like taking six inches of dental floss to a gunfight. Perhaps while wearing a T-shirt with a bullseye printed on it. It’s asking to be sent home with a red face and ruler-tracks on your bum.

Melanie Joly is the Canadian Sarah Palin; she was a cartwheeling disaster as Heritage Minster. Heritage Minister!! The department’s mandate centers on “fostering and promoting “Canadian identity and values, cultural development, and heritage”. Sounds like a job the average drugstore manager could perform with distinction, especially if he or she had a whole department of more than 1,800 employees to help and advise him or her. But tasked with management of the festivities and ceremony attendant upon the 150th anniversary of Canada Day, Melanie Joly rolled out a train wreck that earned comments like “I have never seen such a poor, chaotic display. Shame on you Ottawa.” And: “Please, (Minister Joly), I beg you to step out of your protective shell and acknowledge what a mess Canada Day was and take some responsibility for it.” And: “Time for you to resign!” The local news of the village she is idiot of – Le Journal de Montreal – said “she sounds like a living answering machine having a nervous breakdown”. No need to wonder any further where the inspiration came from for the Sarah Palin reference. “Joly’s penchant for bafflegab made her a frequent target of cartoonists and humorists in the province — hardly what Trudeau was hoping for when he made Joly his highest-profile Quebec minister.”

Sacked from the stress-magnet job of Heritage Minister, Joly was shuffled downward – not resoundingly kicked from the top step of Parliament, remember, she’s a personal friend of our talking wig-stand Prime Minister – to bring her administrative talents to bear on the minor portfolios of tourism, official languages and la Francophonie.

And then, just when things looked darkest…she vaulted straight to Minister of Foreign Affairs, promoted by her good friend Justin Trudeau in what critics claimed was a reward for her loyalty in the 2021 election which saw the Liberals re-elected, as well as toads raining from the sky and a lightning bolt straight from the finger of Jeebus. And things went rapidly downhill from there.

“My guess is that during that very challenging campaign, she cemented her status as a trustworthy lieutenant,” Mr. Reid said. “When you fall behind during a campaign and then mount a comeback, you see up close who can be counted on. I suspect he saw that in her and decided he wanted that in Foreign Affairs.”

What struck me on reading the reference, though, was a comment she made in describing her vision for the Foreign Affairs responsibility. She was speaking about possible disciplinary action which might be taken against China, but she claimed, “I can tell you, however, that we have no illusions. Our eyes will be wide open.”

And then the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, with her eyes wide open, concurred with the United States that the Russians likely blew up their own gas pipeline, all part of Putin’s weaponization of energy.

Asked by CNN anchor Jim Sciutto during a conversation in Washington, hosted by the Atlantic Council, who was behind the damage, Joly did not mention Russia by name but pointed to allies’ assessments that the attacks were deliberate. “At this point we’re still investigating, but obviously we want to make sure that we do things the right way, but we’re not naïve,” she said. “You’re not naïve as to who’s behind it?” Sciutto responded.“As I said, we won’t speculate but at the same time, we want to make sure that — the world needs to understand that this is very important European infrastructure that was sabotaged,” the minister added.

She added no gas was flowing through either pipeline at the time the leaks occurred.

Really? No gas flowing through either pipeline…at the time of the leak? Then how could there be a leak? Leak of what? The very next paragraph confides,

“On Thursday, Swedish officials discovered a fourth leak along the Nord Stream gas pipelines, vital energy links for Europe that have been spewing methane into the Baltic Sea since Monday following two underwater explosions.” Spewing methane. Natural gas is almost completely methane.

And NATO muttonheads were quite happy to pontificate and puff over these ‘deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage’ while they believed the perpetrator would never be identified.

But then, Seymour Hersh – one of the most credible journalists alive – broke a story on how American Navy divers had planted the explosives under cover of a NATO exercise, assisted by Norway, which explosives were later detonated remotely, destroying the pipeline. America had threatened it, had tried to stop its construction through sanctions and international bullying, had shopped proposals to Europe that Europeans buy American ‘molecules of freedom’ instead, and had flatly promised to stop it ever going into operation. Means, motive and opportunity. And yet, when America announced that Russia must have done it itself, Melanie Joly agreed. After all, we’re not naive.

To this moment there has not been any statement of which I am aware in which Melanie Joly recants or expresses doubt in her conviction that Russia blew up its own pipelines.

Continue reading “A Knife in Search of a Gunfight.”

The Smile on the Face of the Dragon.

Uncle Volodya says, “Whole nations are transported, exterminated, their name to be forgotten, except in the annual festival of their conquerors, when sycophants call the names of the vanquished countries to the remembrance of the victors.”

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Attributed to William Monkhouse

The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

Genghis Khan

 The thrill of controlling a large, powerful and potentially dangerous animal is undeniable; to make it your servant and compel it to do your bidding is satisfying balm to the ego. How much more satisfying again it must be to control an entire country, and to bend the collective work and product of its people to your power and enrichment. America has long manipulated great-power politics to its own benefit, and the pleasure of doing so seems to be enhanced when the victim is helpless to resist. At least that’s the way it is consistently portrayed in the government-managed western media, for the enjoyment of the cheering assholes in the international bleachers.

Well, as another parable has it, riding the tiger is the easy part. The hard part is getting off. This is helpfully explained as “Once you have taken this path, there is no way back.”

The west – led, as usual, by The Exceptional Nation – climbed aboard the tiger in 2014, when it decided to initiate and support a coup in Ukraine and turn it into a heavily-armed foil to Russia. Admittedly the second part came later, but perhaps as early as 2015, when the Minsk II Agreements – with the ulterior motive for the west being the arming and strengthening of Ukraine until its army was powerful enough to not only take back the Donbas republics and Crimea by force, but powerful enough to drive Russia back over its borders if it dared to intervene – were signed. As I just suggested, the west took no serious note of the agreement’s provisions beyond opportunities to nag Russia that it was not holding to its responsibilities (although Russia is not mentioned in the accords at all), because the intent was to use the agreement to stall for time while Ukraine’s striking power was built up. Consequently when the time came to set The Great Game in motion once more, Russia massed troops on the border with Ukraine as a visible deterrent – we see what you’re doing, and if you try it, you’ll be sorry. It failed to deter President Zelensky, who ordered an artillery bombardment of the border regions of the Donbas Republics to soften up resistance prior to an armored and infantry attack…and now quite a few people are sorry. Just before the Russian military operation began, the state published a list of demands for the well-known supporters of chaos. The requirements were:

  1. An end to NATO military activity in eastern Europe, including Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia;
  2. No expansion of NATO membership, particularly to Ukraine;
  3. No intermediate or shorter-range missiles deployed close enough to hit the territory of the other side;
  4. No military exercises of more than one military brigade in an agreed border zone;
  5. An agreement that parties do not consider each other as adversaries and will resolve disputes peacefully; and,
  6. Neither Russia nor the United States can deploy nuclear weapons outside their national territories.

The referenced article was published well in advance of any formal reply from NATO, but Deutsche Welle was already confident the west would blow Russia off contemptuously. Why? Because riding the tiger is fun.

“Russia has released a series of security demands to NATO, including a veto on the alliance’s expansion. It is calling for an immediate dialogue, but NATO members aren’t likely to acquiesce to Moscow’s wish list.”

And the west did reject Russia’s demands, stingingly and entirely, because its combined coalition groupthink informed it that Russia would not bother with a warning unless it was weak, and knew it. Strong countries do not offer an opportunity to reconsider your options. They kick ass. And as many of us learned only recently, courtesy of Moon of Alabama, the pretense that nobody could have known what might happen will not be available this time. Because the influential RAND Corporation think tank warned the US government of potential consequences of each of its actions as far back as the Spring of 2019, all of which it took anyway. No longer content to simply ride the tiger, America began to hammer its ribs with its heels, and of course its simpleminded vassals loudly chorused approval. Continue reading “The Smile on the Face of the Dragon.”

It Will Be Easier to Blow Sunshine Up Your Ass When You Can’t Afford Pants.

Uncle Volodya says, “If talking to yourself when alone is a sign of madness, then listening to yourself in front of others is doubly so.”

“…But the fact remains, nevertheless, that you can’t help if they persist in the course of behaviour which originally got them into their trouble. For example, you can’t preserve people from the horrors of war if they won’t give up the pleasures of nationalism. You can’t save them from slumps and depressions so long as they go on thinking exclusively in terms of money and regarding money as the supreme good. You can’t avert revolution and enslavement if they will identify progress with the increase of centralization and prosperity with the intensifying of mass production. You can’t preserve them from their collective madness and suicide if they persist in paying divine honours to ideals which are merely projections of their own personalities – in other words, if they insist on worshiping themselves…”

Aldous Huxley, from “After Many a Summer Dies the Swan”

She likes to play for double or nothin’
tellin’ all the boys she’s hot;
And everybody knows she’s ready
To give it everything that she got:

She’s a roller, a high roller, baby, my, my..

April Wine, from “Roller”.

Yes, she’s a roller; my, my. The problem is, she’s rolling with your money – and if you live in Europe, the standard of living that you and your children can expect down the road depends on her telling you the truth. And I’m afraid the odds are just not on that possibility. Judging by performance to date, like.

In fact, although I’m not a psychologist and don’t even play one on TV, the conclusion I have reluctantly arrived upon is that Ursula Von Der Leyen believes you and all the other European voters are stupid. Oh, the extent of the global lumpenproletariat assumed to be too stupid to reason for itself goes considerably beyond Europe, and it’s causing problems which extend well beyond its shores. But it is Europe which is Ground Zero for her unwavering line of self-stroking bullshit, and it is Europe which will bear its effects, perhaps and conceivably to its ruin.

Did you think that if you could somehow struggle through this winter, the energy crisis would recede and the nightmare would be over? Au contraire, mon ami. But you could be forgiven your optimism, because Von Der Leyen – let’s just call her VDL, as her co-workers are said to do, for simplicity – wants you to think so, although the most elementary reading-between-the-lines analysis should give you that ice-water-down-your-back tickle of unease. Because the title of the article is fairly clear; the energy crisis could worsen next year. But never mind that for now – take a bow, says VDL; you guys were all brilliant with your self-sacrifice, wearing a sweater while you’re doing the supper dishes in cold water, skipping the shower…magnificent. You certainly showed that psychopath up in the Kremlin.

“We have been able to manage, we have been able to withstand the blackmail. We have acted, and we have acted successfully,” von der Leyen said at a press conference in Brussels. She touted Europe’s success in carrying out its plan to reduce Russian gas demand by two-thirds before the end of the year

Considering NATO operatives blew up the twin pipelines carrying most of the supplied Russian gas to Europe in September, I’m not sure ‘blackmail’ is the right word. But keep that fact in mind, because other projections are not so sunny as VDL’s.

The bloc faces a potential gas gap between supply and demand of 27 billion cubic meters in 2023, according to the report. Such a situation could occur if Russia’s gas deliveries drop to zero and if China’s LNG imports rebound following a pandemic-related decline in 2022, the authors explained. “Many of the circumstances that allowed EU countries to fill their storage sites ahead of this winter may well not be repeated in 2023,” Birol said.

‘Such a situation’ IS going to occur; you can pretty much count on it. Russia could not send gas through either leg of the Nord Stream pipelines if it wanted to help such a worthless bunch of cretins as the Europeans are, those pipelines are now just so much scrap metal on the seabed. I think we can agree Russia is not going to send augmented gas supplies through the pipeline network which crosses Ukraine, and pay Ukraine transit fees that will immediately be turned into ammunition supplies to shoot at Russia’s soldiers; besides, the Ukrainian Gas Transit System is in nearly as bad shape as the destroyed Nord Stream lines. So this year, as horrible as it may have seemed to you, Europe got at least some Russian gas for an entire half of the year, and normal supplies for the first couple of months. Next year, it’s zero. Goose egg.

If Europe does not get any Russian gas next year, it is already looking at a deficit of nearly 60 BcM. Fifty-seven, according to the report. The Happy Days Are Here Again cheerleaders claim that the deficit will be partly offset – 30 BcM of it – by Even Greater Economies of consumption, mumble nuclear mumble and yes, even more renewables!!

Continue reading “It Will Be Easier to Blow Sunshine Up Your Ass When You Can’t Afford Pants.”

The S-300 ‘Ground Attack’ Capability: Fabricated by Ukraine, Amplified by Western Media, Totally Fictitious.

Uncle Volodya says; “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

Well I’m accustomed to a smooth ride
Or maybe I’m a dog who’s lost it’s bite;
I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don’t expect to sleep through the night
Some people say a lie’s a lie’s a lie
But I say why deny the obvious child?
Why deny the obvious child?

Paul Simon, from “The Obvious Child“.

“That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.”

Joseph Goebbels

Tell it like it is, Joe. I daresay we all remember examples of propaganda which, in retrospect, it is hard to believe a wide audience fell for. “We know where the weapons of mass destruction are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat”, how about that one? I remember reading a critical response to it in which the writer congratulated Donald Rumsfeld on having, with the vagueness of his description, eliminated only international waters and deep space from consideration, and laughing in delighted appreciation; good times, my, yes.

But that and other completely fabricated martial fairy-tales successfully convinced huge western audiences of the smoldering malevolence of Saddam Hussein and, by extension, of Iraqis in general, and by even further extension, of more or less all Muslims. To the extent that tens of thousands of Muslim men were forced by the Bush administration to register with the US Government – a policy which “broke up families by triggering a wave of mass deportations and instilled fear throughout Muslim communities across the country, all while proving itself wholly ineffective at accomplishing its primary task: catching terrorists.” The same reference helpfully highlights that such propaganda ‘successes’, once internalized, contribute to longstanding bias even after they are outed as propaganda – there was no shortage of support for Trump, more than a decade later, calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

At its simplest, propaganda is little more than consistently and repeatedly expressing an allegation, while claiming it is supported by evidence, and then shouting down any source which attempts to correct the record, deflecting their arguments with insults and rhetoric. In fact, I covered the methodology in some detail on the old blog back in the Spring of 2015; re-reading it now, I find we are offered a priceless lead-in quote, from none other than Anne ‘Poland Makes Me Wet’ Applebaum.

“…[o]nce upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate; now, unedited forums often deteriorate to insult exchanges. Like it or not, this matters: Multiple experiments have shown that perceptions of an article, its writer or its subject can be profoundly shaped by anonymous online commentary, especially if it is harsh. One group of researchers found that rude comments “not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.” A digital analyst at Atlantic Media also discovered that people who read negative comments were more likely to judge that an article was of low quality and, regardless of the content, to doubt the truth of what it stated. “

It’s hard to argue with the forthrightness and accuracy of that opinion – but Annie was complaining about commentary which criticizes western intervention and regime-change operations, and the low-lifes in those instances were – you guessed it – Russian trolls and ‘spreaders of disinformation’. The west prides itself on open forums, respect for a wide range of opinion and a willingness to entertain alternate points of view. It would never stoop to trolling as a means of silencing dissent.https://thenewkremlinstooge.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/04206-abe_lincoln_top_hat.jpg

Ha, ha. Perhaps that was true once, but that kind of integrity went out of fashion in the west at approximately the same time as the top hat. Anyway, we’ll be coming back to this post later; I want to show you something. But for now, we’re going to look at a contemporary phenomenon – the tremendous investment by the west, and most especially the western media, in breathing life into propaganda from Ukraine.  In the example I’d like to discuss, the underlying theme is Ukraine’s brash public-relations technique of spinning every single negative thing that happens as having been the fault of The Russians, from the pitiful murders of  ‘collaborators’ in Bucha to the damage to civilian apartment buildings by falling or uncontrolled air-defense missiles fired by panicky Ukrainian crews…and the west’s role in polishing those stories’ credibility.

Long before what looks to have been an S-300 air-defense missile – designed and built in The Country That Doesn’t Make Anything, according to Obama – landed in neighbouring Poland and caused a couple of fatalities, missiles said to have been S-300’s struck a couple of apartment buildings in Kuh-yiv, and caused some fatalities among Ukrainian non-combatants. But when life hands you lemons, the smart move is to make lemonade, they say, and Ukraine quickly spun the situation so that the diabolical Russians had re-engineered some of their S-300 air-defense missiles so they could be used to attack ground targets such as apartment buildings full of helpless, shivering civilians. A bonus of this trope was that it could be used to argue Russia is running out of precision weapons, and has to repurpose existing stocks to do a job they were never designed for; the S-300 is old now. But journalists have given it new and malevolent life, and ‘S-300’ is apparently the only weapon system they can remember. So they make up for it by writing lurid fan-fiction about it. Continue reading “The S-300 ‘Ground Attack’ Capability: Fabricated by Ukraine, Amplified by Western Media, Totally Fictitious.”

This Year’s Recipient of the Double-Headed Eagle Prize for Being the Antithesis of the Degenerate and Hypocritical West.

Uncle Volodya says, “Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”

“For me, the most ironic token of it is the plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon that Apollo 11 took to the moon. It reads: “We came in peace for all Mankind.” As the United States was dropping 7 ½ megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity. We would harm no one on a lifeless rock.”

Carl Sagan, from “Pale Blue Dot: a Vision of the Human Future in Space”

Before we congratulate the winner, a bit of background. This is an entirely new award, and its origins call for a bit of explanation. As most readers will be well aware, western nations – and most typified by the United States of America – have a wide range of honours and awards which recognize a significant and valuable contribution to the human condition. Recognition for advances in medicine, science, awards for inspiring moral courage, medals for bravery and skill and excellence in a plethora of professions.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Winners should be proud of the contribution their  skill and perseverance made to the betterment of mankind. There is also a number of awards made to advancement of more amorphous concepts – such as ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, two words that politicians like to sprinkle over everything like kids in control of the sugar bowl. The politically-minded have displayed a tendency in recent decades to honour those the west perceives as ‘Russian dissidents’ for no apparent reason other than that they appear to believe it makes Russians crazy with frustration and rage. Real contributions to such concepts as freedom and democracy – of which those handing out the honours have only the most rudimentary and imperfect understanding themselves – are much harder to measure. Being rewarded with a trophy for scientific excellence because you are the inventor of carbon fibre, for example, is easy to quantify and understand. Making a contribution to ‘freedom’ where most countries are already quite free is therefore often subjected to political spin, and politicians enjoy being able to give a shout-out to their proteges and friends, and to pretend that yahoos who are greatly disliked in countries those politicians regard as enemies are actually some kind of virtuous saints.

Look at the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for example. The highest civilian award in the United States, it was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is traditionally awarded by the President and is awarded to a person of his or her choice, or as a result of recommendations. It recognizes “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It can be and frequently is awarded to non -Americans. Although it is a civilian decoration, it can be awarded to military figures, and when it is it may be worn on the uniform.

Colin Powell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice. It would be difficult to deny his overall humanity and compassion in such cases as his obvious anguish in recall of how Saddam Hussein murdered the Kurds after they were persuaded to rise up against him by American instigators, who then whistled and looked out the window as if there were something interesting going on across the street while Saddam’s forces rolled over them like a sandstorm. The world turned its face away, blubbered Powell in memories of the event. It sure did – including Colin Powell, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time it happened. The President he served then – George H.W. Bush – is on record saying “There is another way for the bloodshed to stop: and that is, for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and then comply with the United Nations’ resolutions and rejoin the family of peace-loving nations.” That was on February 15th, 1991. On February 24th, one of the ubiquitous ‘Free Insert Name of Nation Here’ radio stations the CIA frequently sets up to influence the national population, in this case Voice of Free Iraq, broadcast an exhortation to the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow their leader.

Here’s an excerpt from CNN, with Brent Sadler: “Iraq’s infrastructure: bridges, roads, water, and electrical power systems were severely damaged. Many Iraqis lost services, vital to daily life. By war’s end, one of the most prosperous and modern Arab countries in the Middle East lay in economic ruin; if Iraqis had expected life to improve, they were mistaken. Indeed, 10 years on, their economy is barely functioning. Iraq’s oil revenues are managed by the United Nations, and strict sanctions remain in place on what can and cannot be imported. These trade restrictions have contributed to a spiraling humanitarian crisis for the country at large. A recent UNICEF study drawing a world health organization support and Iraqi data, states that half a million Iraqi children under 5 have died unnecessarily. Under prewar living conditions, they would have survived.”

But that wasn’t enough: the United States for some reason did not kill Saddam Hussein that time around, so it went back for another whack at Iraq, in 2003. Some countries were pretty reluctant, and required coaxing and convincing at the UN. Who convinced them? You know, don’t you? Colin Powell. Using fabricated evidence, pretending to be absolutely sure of facts when many were just assumptions based on Iraqi ‘defectors’ telling the Americans what they wanted to hear, and including Powell’s personal embellishments of recorded intercepts so that they appeared to show the Iraqis attempting to hide prohibited materials from inspectors. Those embellishments were not on the original intercepts.

But he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Twice. Continue reading “This Year’s Recipient of the Double-Headed Eagle Prize for Being the Antithesis of the Degenerate and Hypocritical West.”

The Rise of GloboHate; Washington’s Doctrine of Bullying and Ethno-Hatred Inspires its Admirers.

Uncle Volodya says, “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend, or to keep one.”

Well, we’ve come a long, long way..
Look at everything we know;
We’re getting smarter every day
Ah, but where’s it gonna go?
For all the words that go by,
I’ve got a feeling inside,
That after it’s all said and done:
Though we’ve come a long, long way.
This old world’s not much better than it was…

Ian Thomas, from “Long Long Way”

So we learned recently, via the intertubes, that celebrated American horror writer Stephen King has entered the political fray – unsurprisingly, on the side of Ukraine. In addition to sternly ordering Russia to get the fuck out of Ukraine, he has officially suspended the publication of all his new books in Russia, and also banned the renewal of expired previous rights.

Of course, that’s his privilege, and I wish I could say I never acted like an arsehole through ignorance, but that would be a lie. It’s not my purpose to hold him up to ridicule for his political beliefs or suggest his opinions are of no consequence; I’ve always enjoyed his fiction and have read nearly everything he’s ever written. In fact, in writing, I learned to use snatches of popular music or poetry to set the stage for things I wanted to say or to establish mood from reading King, and it remains a favourite technique. I think he’s wrong on this issue, but we can’t be right all the time, and in most cases we can say later, “You know, on that thing we talked about – I was wrong”, and the world will continue to turn with no serious harm done.

Nor can we guess much, from a short social-media statement, of what he actually knows about this subject, or if the belief he expresses holds true for all countries – if it’s not your country, you have no business there in a military capacity uninvited – although I am bound to say if the latter is true, he must not get out much. The country of his birth, residence and which he doubtless supports (considering he could probably live anywhere he likes) has never been shy about entering other countries with military forces, and when it cannot think of an excuse for doing so which will be broadly accepted, it simply makes one up.

No; the real reason I wanted to feature his declaration up front, together with all it implies about any belief he might harbor that he speaks for the nation, is because of a delicious serendipity. You see, in ‘The Stand’ – one of his best books, in my opinion – and through the character of Harold Lauder, King wrote a mini-manifesto that rings like he was speaking of America itself.

It’s said that the two great human sins are pride and hate. Are they? I choose to think of them as the two great virtues. To give away pride and hate is to say you will change for the good of the world. To embrace them, to vent them, is more noble. The world must change for the good of you.

If you ordered The United States from Jeff Bezos, when the Amazon box with the big smile showed up on your doorstep, the packing slip would read “The United States of America. The world must change for the good of you.” Because America considers itself the original model, upon which all others are based; you don’t have to pattern yourself after us. But if you want our endorsement, you will, and you can’t be a real country without it. And don’t try that “Hi; I’m your new neighbour. Any chance I could borrow a cup of democracy?” because we own the trademark on democracy, and if it don’t read “Made in the USA”, it ain’t the real thing.

Did the United States invent democracy? Hardly. The modern concept is generally acknowledged to have its origins in 5th-century BC Athens, although social groups which arrive at decisions through consensus predate that by a significant period, a social construct referred to as ‘tribalism’. That term, in fact, much more accurately describes the political environment in Washington today. Anyway, when democracy was a’borning, there wasn’t anything in what today is the United States, not even beavers and Indians, although it’s not polite to call them that anymore.

Oh: but look at this, though.

“Modern representative democracies attempt to bridge the gulf between the Hobbesian ‘state of nature’ and the grip of authoritarianism through ‘social contracts’ that enshrine the rights of the citizens, curtail the power of the state, and grant agency through the right to vote. While they engage populations with some level of decision-making, they are defined by the premise of distrust in the ability of human populations to make a direct judgement about candidates or decisions on issues.”

Is the present-day United States even a democracy? Is there a social contract between the US government and the people which enshrines the rights of citizens? Sure is; it’s called the Constitution; more accurately, the Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Saying a document has the force of law, though, is not the same as saying it protects citizens from violations of it by government. Let’s just look at a ‘for instance’; the First Amendment provides that the government “shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” But further back than The Creepiest White House Press Secretary Ever, Ari Fleischer, who told Americans they ‘have to watch what they say, watch what they do’, the United States government has taken steps to limit the freedom of speech, and along about 2020 they discovered the magic formula – if you say Things We Don’t Like To Hear, you are ‘spreading disinformation’, and we have to shut that down hard, to protect right-thinking citizens. Since then, Watching What You Say has gone into high gear.

An Ipsos survey in 2020 found that more than half of Americans said they had become more concerned about their online safety and were spending more time trying to determine if their Internet searches were safe. That’s good news but also an unfortunate sign of the times that so many of us have become paranoid about what we read online.

Determining if their internet searches were safe…from whom? The Russians? The Chinese? Or their own government? How many people said ‘their own government’?

Continue reading “The Rise of GloboHate; Washington’s Doctrine of Bullying and Ethno-Hatred Inspires its Admirers.”

The Changing Face of Foreign Affairs: the West is in Serious Trouble.

Uncle Volodya says, “”We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of irrational events. The more we try to explain such events in history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they become to us.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run;
There’s still time to change the road you’re on…

Led Zeppelin, from “Stairway to Heaven”

“They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Great Gatsby”

    I led off with that snippet from ‘Stairway’ for two reasons – one, a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin. Two, an opportunity for ironic amusement. Because the time to change the road we’re on slid into the rearview mirror along about the time the USA summarily refused all Russia’s demands for security guarantees, in exchange for resumption of the uneasy peace which had prevailed. Although the forces and pressures which set the current military operation in Ukraine in motion had been steadily increasing for some time, years – that was the moment the wheels of inevitability began to pick up speed, until the windows hum with their turning.

The time to change the road we’re on has come and gone, and the world is now committed to whatever will ensue. We’re in the back seat, while our lunatic ‘leaders’ jerk the wheel this way and that. Each day brings new astonishment to stoke our incredulity, from Germany’s Annalena Baerbock’s ringing declaration that Germany will not waver from supporting Ukraine no matter what its voters think, to Liz Truss’s promise that Britain’s support this coming year will at least equal, if not surpass that of the year currently bleeding out. The UK has committed £2.3bn so far this year, so figure on at least another £2bn in 2023. That’s in an environment where inflation has topped 10%, and the Truss government is planning to borrow about $120 Billion for spending on subsidies to cap British energy prices. The inmates have taken over the asylum – who does Truss imagine will be on the hook to repay a borrowed $120 Billion? The taxpayer, of course. For Germany’s part, in July of this year it recorded its first trade deficit since Helmut Kohl was in his penultimate term as Chancellor. An export-based economy, Germany had been posting the highest trade surpluses in the world; 8%, 9% of GDP, or €20 billion a month. German industry is being ruined before its electorate’s horrified eyes – it is the nature of business that when conditions are imposed upon it such that it can be neither productive or profitable, it relocates to where that potential is again within reach. The German Greens, like Baerbock and Robert Habeck, don’t give a fuck – they hate industry anyway; it uses too much energy and generates so much smoke and pollution that it’s hard to see the dear little windmills turning. Don’t forget, in the next day or two, Germany is expected to announce the nationalization of gas-import giant Uniper; this was supposed to cost the German taxpayer €19 Billion, but according to Oilprice.com the cost has ballooned to €30 Billion, added to the €100 Million Uniper is losing each and every day in its flailing efforts to replace Russian gas. Along with that bizarre action, Berlin also seized the local unit of ROSNEFT PJSC. In case you were unaware, ‘seized’ means ‘stole’. This invites retaliation and escalation from a country which has no worries at all where its gas is coming from, and has customers eager to buy the volumes Europe resolutely turns its stupid face from. Russia continues to realize record profits from energy sales even as the volumes it sells decline.

“Despite efforts to massively damage Russia’s economy in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s energy industry appears that it is continuing to boom, with Vladimir Putin’s state-owned gas company Gazprom posting record half-year profits on Tuesday thanks to soaring natural gas prices worldwide.

The company has since announced that it has totally halted gas deliveries to Europe via its major Nord Stream pipeline for what are ostensibly reasons to do with repairs, leaving bigwigs in Europe to sweat over whether the supply will ever be turned back on again.

According to a report by Der Spiegel, Gazprom posted a six-month profit of around 2.5 trillion rubles, roughly equivalent to $41 billion.

This is compared to the company’s previous record annual profit of 2.09 trillion rubles which it posted last year, a much smaller sum especially when the value of the now surging ruble is factored into the equation.”

Two years in a row of record profits, coincidentally two years of concerted NATO efforts to bring thehttps://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-e1b014177b887dcaa39a65ffe7ee70d5-c country to ruin, during which it has steadily descended to pretty much every dirty trick in the book. Russians are the same as people everywhere; they see it when people blindly follow prejudice and disinformation to foment hatred against them. Despite this, Putin remains steadily and constantly popular with those he leads. The Conversation has an explanation for that – Putin owns the news media, and it pumps out Putin-love propaganda day and night. As well, people are too scared Putin will come into their room at night and kill them – he does that a lot – to criticize the war.

“Alexander Hill, a professor of military history at the University of Calgary writes that the Russian leader has the support of pretty much all of the country’s news media (unsurprising, as he controls pretty much all of it). So ordinary citizens have been fed a non-stop diet of propaganda since before the invasion was launched. Meanwhile, thanks to oil and gas revenues, the economy is in reasonable shape still. And, Hill asserts, people may just be too scared to admit their opposition to the war.”

I am encouraged to think Americans actually believe Putin is an unstable tyrant who rules with an iron fist, at the very same time that his hold on the public is so sclerotic that criticism from addled dotard Alla Pugacheva is the final straw which will bring his rotten empire crashing down around his pointy ears. The author cheerfully asserts that Pugacheva remains as popular and influential as she ever was, even though she is 73 and her last album was released ten years ago, relying on go-to western-shoe-kisser Stas Belkovsky, and a Russian blogger who writes…Christ, I don’t know if I can get this out….COOKBOOKS! You all remember Stas Belkovsky; you’ll be happy to know he’s still at the National Strategy Institute. They were damned lucky to get him, if you ask me. Strategists like Belkovsky – who predicted in 2007 that Putin would leave politics that year because Russia was too dependent on agricultural imports, the economic outlook for average Russians was deteriorating and Putin wanted to go someplace to enjoy his stolen wealth – don’t grow on trees. Incredibly, he didn’t stop there; Putin, he said, would need a prestigious international apolitical position to insulate him from the fury of Russians when they realized the extent to which they had been duped, and forecast Putin might become head of the International Olympic Committee. Well, he is only 70; still plenty of time for a second career. And in 2021, Russia became a net exporter of agricultural products – way to light a fire under that incompetent bastard, Stas. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Foreign Affairs: the West is in Serious Trouble.”

Lead Us Not Into Destitution

Uncle Volodya says, “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room.” Especially if there is no cat.”

“It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”

George Orwell, from “1984”

I went down to the bank this mornin’, ’bout half past nine
Well, I was lookin’ for a little somethin’ in the credit line
But the man said, “Look, what we got here, Sonny
There’s too much month at the end of the money”

Marty Stuart, from, “There’s Too Much Month (at the end of the money)”

What I wanted to do with this post was to highlight the unprecedented simple-mindedness with which Germany is sleepwalking into a profound economic catastrophe, which – if left to run the course its idiot government has charted – will see the ruin or relocation of core industries, the collapse of its status as the powerhouse economy of Europe and the cratering of living standards for many of its population. I thought a good way to start might be to cite an example of comparable stupidity, but that proved much harder than I thought it would be. I searched for “examples of stupidity by national governments”, but what mostly came up were jackhole lists of ‘the worst-governed countries’ as compiled by self-congratulatory think tanks like the Legatum Institute. Ha, ha; sorry, something just struck me funny – look; back in 2015, Ukraine made the list of the 25 worst-governed countries as rated by that collection of ersatz intellectuals. Of course, that was before the Churchill of Chernivtsi, the Napoleon of Novovolynsk, the Rommel of Rozdilna, the almost-too-much-humble-genius-to-fit-into-a-green-T-shirt super-fucking-size-me statesman, Volodymyr Zelensky, emerged to take the helm of the country Europe now recognizes it cannot do without. But let’s not get sidetracked. We are not here to talk about Ukraine, except peripheral recognition of its role as prime mover to a catastrophe.

Any discussion of the shit avalanche Germany is standing under, shouting up, would be incomplete without a short sidebar about how useless its present leader, Olaf Scholz, is. And again, that was much harder than I thought: the question that immediately springs to mind is – how the hell did this chocolate teapot become the leader of Europe’s most powerful and energetic economy? And I’m not quite sure myself. I know it’s not an elected position; at least, not a general election with a public vote. No, the Chancellor is elected by the members of the German Parliament. That suggests ample latitude for politics rather than what is good for the public or who might make a good leader for this reason or that. And Scholz struck a coalition agreement with the paint-chip-eating Greens, awarding the powerful positions of Foreign Minister and Economics Minister, as well as Vice Chancellor, to loopy Green ideologues Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck. And it is those two who are really running Germany, and the direction they are running it right now is on a collision course with the earth’s core. Right into the ground.

The former cannot seem to get her stories straight, claiming at various occasions to be a member of the German Marshall Fund and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and an international lawyer – she was none of those – plagiarizing passages of her book, “Now. How We Renew Our Country” and declining to disclose all of her income. The latter, Habeck, sounded positively ebullient when he announced that Germany was ready for a shutoff of Russian gas: “Habeck, a member of the governing coalition partner Greens, acknowledged that if Germany were to cut off supplies of Russian gas, there would be a gap initially that would certainly “drive prices higher.” Habeck added, “As far as the short-term price increases and the burden on consumers and businesses are concerned, we will provide relief elsewhere.” Continue reading “Lead Us Not Into Destitution”

Complete Gas Shutoff – Terrible! Resumption of Deliveries – Even Terribler.

Uncle Volodya says, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

Energy can be directed;
I’m turning it up, I’m turning it down…

From “Switchin’ to Glide” by The Kings

“The most dangerous irony is, people are angry with others because of their own incompetence.”

Amit Kalantri, from  Wealth of Words

I came by the reference I want to talk about in this post through a roundabout and somewhat bizarre path. More than a decade ago, a friend implored me to join LinkedIn so that I could add an endorsement to his professional qualifications. I did both, but my LinkedIn account has lain more or less dormant since then. If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn, it has some things in common with Facebook, and they are mostly the reasons I have avoided Facebook. Both send you a non-stop stream of clickbait: “Mark Chapman, you appeared in 4 searches this week!” so that you will be overcome with curiosity as to who could be looking for you, and down the rabbit-hole you go for hours and hours. Both use algorithms and things you have written or read to match you with people who might be acquaintances, and try to get you to build a network of friends and contacts that the program uses to link you to other networks, and so on and so on.

Which is how I keep getting notifications that Edward Lucas has posted something. Yes, that Edward Lucas, the talking spittoon, Estonia’s first digital citizen, fighting cock of the Baltic Republics and noted Russophobe, onetime compiler of birdcage carpeting at The Economist.

The foregoing considered, it will not surprise you, then, that I would be as likely to eat soup made from boiling turnips and Boris Johnson’s bicycle seat as I would be to pay attention to further gobbling from Lucasville. Normally I just alternate between my LinkedIn messages and the ‘delete’ button. This time the message said “Edward Lucas has shared a link”, and although I could not care less if he shared a bathtub with Satan, something in the tagline made me pause: “Edward Lucas, prospective political candidate for….”

You have got to be shitting me. But no! It’s true. Edward Lucas, as addled as a pithed frog, is dipping a toe in the turbulent waters of national politics – as a Liberal Democrat, no less.

Let’s take a look.

“Hello, I’ve finally reached the point of no return. Democracy is in danger. We need to save it.

I’ve tried journalism, writing books, thinktanks, punditry and advising governments. None of it has worked. We are being cheated and lied to at home. Our enemies are menacing abroad.”

Well, he started out far more honestly than most politicians do, although I would suggest he went past the point of no return several stops back. But it can only be a gift for political dissembling that resulted in the phrase “None of it has worked” when the truth would have looked more like “I sucked at all of them”. Perhaps he is destined for politics.

We could probably go on like this for quite some time; it’s been a while since I got going on the subject of Edward Lucas, and I’d forgotten how much I like it. But to tell the truth, I also checked out the post he linked, and it is the subject of today’s discussion.

As you’re all aware, Russia ordered its western gas customers to pay for the commodity in rubles, to Gazprombank in Russia so that the funds would be safe in Russia from western ‘confiscation’ The reason for this was the theft of approximately $300 billion from Russian accounts in western banks, which had served to receive payments by western gas customers. By seizing these funds, western countries announced that they were helping themselves to Russian gas for free, while the blatant theft served as warning that if Russia continued to supply contracted volumes of gas, its western customers would consider it a gift, since payments could be confiscated at any time. The order to pay in rubles, or to make other arrangements for gas deliveries, was effective at the beginning of April this year.

There was a great show of unified resistance, and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša announced huffily that ‘nobody in Europe’ would pay for gas in rubles. That proved tohttps://clipartspub.com/images/plumbing-clipart-cartoon-3.png be one of those predictions like “telephones will never be taken seriously as a means of communication” by the President of Western Union in 1876, or the official rejection of The Beatles by Decca Records in 1962: “The Beatles have no future in show business. We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.” Within a month of the directive, nine EU member states had opened ruble accounts with Gazprombank and four of them had already commenced payment in rubles. Poland and Bulgaria vehemently and loudly refused – in Poland’s case, likely because it believes itself a natural leader and that if it hung tough, everybody would follow: I’m afraid it is forever getting that wrong. Poland and Bulgaria had their gas supply cut off, and became dependents of the Union. Just a few days ago, Latvia’s supply was also shut off, making the naughty-corner occupants Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark, all of whom refused to comply with the ruble-account requirement. Additionally, delivery to Germany’s Shell Energy Europe was terminated. Latvia replied, “So what? Who cares?” and told anyone who would listen that it had already planned to cease all imports of Russian gas as of January 1st, 2023. How they plan to do that must still be a closely-guarded Latvian state secret, since Latvia’s dependency on Russian gas in 2021 was 92%; probably they meant “the EU will give us free gas”. Eastern European countries frequently attribute magical powers to the EU major states which are second only to those of Gandalf.

In mid-July, Russia declared force majeure on its contracted gas supplies, due to the refusal to return a critical gas turbine which had been sent to Canada for scheduled maintenance, whereupon Canada refused to return it, citing sanctions. Gas supply was reduced to 40% of contracted volumes, and after the scheduled maintenance on Nord Stream I was completed, reduced to 20%. Force Majeure is a mechanism employed in “those uncontrollable events (such as war, labor stoppages, or extreme weather) that are not the fault of any party and that make it difficult or impossible to carry out normal business. A company may insert a force majeure clause into a contract to absolve itself from liability in the event it cannot fulfill the terms of a contract (or if attempting to do so will result in loss or damage of goods) for reasons beyond its control.” Russia’s reason for the declaration apparently is that the turbine has still not been returned, although Canada reversed its decision and claimed the turbine had been returned to Germany for shipping onward. Natural-gas prices in Europe have risen 450% year-on-year. Continue reading “Complete Gas Shutoff – Terrible! Resumption of Deliveries – Even Terribler.”

Don’t it Always Seem to go, That You Don’t Know What You Got ’til it’s Gone? It’s Already too Late, so Take Your Time Wising Up.

Uncle Volodya says, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies that I have made.”

..Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise,
put up a parking lot…

Joni Mitchell, from ‘Big Yellow Taxi‘.

“You won’t know whether you paid too much for it until it’s too late”

Warren Buffett

Most of you North Americans who were more than 5 years old in 1970 will recognize Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ bringing us in today. I was 14 in 1970, and I remember it well from radio airplay. It was a pretty good song, but I was never a Joni Mitchell fan – she was too folkie for me, which is probably why I waited until Nazareth covered her ‘This Flight Tonight’ in 1973 to appreciate her songwriting. In one of those funny quirks that make life the crapshoot it is, Nazareth and Mitchell happened to be in A&M studios together when the Nazareth version nudged the Top Ten in the UK – a little later, when Mitchell was playing a show in London, she said to the audience, “I’d like to open with a Nazareth song” before she played the signature lead-in to “This Flight Tonight”.

Anyway, it has been a preoccupation for some for decades to interpret songs and poetry – and the former are really just poetry set to music – to decipher what the artist was saying; sometimes the analysis is astonishing. For instance, I read just the other day in a completely unrelated story that Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was actually ‘an indictment of the anti-intellectualism that Irving correctly assessed is central to the American character’. At first you want to say, “Wut???” But once it’s pointed out to you, it’s hard to unsee it; Brom Bones, big and strong, good-looking, slightly malicious and cunning but otherwise completely innocent of brains, triumphs over the gawky pedagogue Ichabod Crane, and wins the prettiest girl in town. Football players love it. Oh: politicians, too.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what Mitchell was saying in ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ – overdevelopment and pollution were crowding out nature, even then. But there’s always been a magic resonance to that couplet, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?”

Because it’s true, isn’t it?  We don’t learn to miss something, whether it be a treasured item or a sustaining relationship that underpins our life, until we lose it; and only then do we realize that we often treated it with an affectionate, casual semi-contempt while we had it, assuming that would always be the case.

Like Stunned Pricks Incorporated of Europe, an entity which includes its entire population, especially its political class but even those who had an apprehension of what going along with American sanctions against their biggest energy provider might eventually mean. The sole exceptions are those who spoke out about it, saying that it was lunacy, and that noddy-head cooperation with American foreign-policy aspirations at Europe’s own expense is the kind of behavior exhibited by people for whom the warning on lawn-mower decks which reads “BLADE TURNS WHEN ENGINE IS RUNNING” is both intended and necessary. The rest – stunned pricks.

Now, only now, Europe is worried. Fear of a natural-gas emergency stalks Europe like some great stalking thing, to use a simile from Rowan Atkinson’s ‘Blackadder’ that always made me helpless with laughter. But this is no laughing matter, you better believe. I think two things will strike you right away in that article; one, all this misery and turmoil is down to Putin, because he invaded Ukraine. Two, Europe does not deserve such treatment. Continue reading “Don’t it Always Seem to go, That You Don’t Know What You Got ’til it’s Gone? It’s Already too Late, so Take Your Time Wising Up.”