In the Matter of the People vs. Caitlin Johnstone, the Defense Rests.

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Uncle Volodya says, “Thus it is that no cruelty whatsoever passes by without impact. Thus it is that we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”

Many of you will be aware, thanks to comments on this forum or perhaps from your own sources, of the brief suspension of Caitlin Johnstone’s Twitter account, following accusations by that venue that Johnstone was using it to ‘abuse’ John McCain.

Let me state here and now the contempt I have for Twitter as a means of communication. I just don’t get the attraction of it, and although I have a Twitter account myself, I almost never use it. Pretty much only when someone else says something infuriating or stupid – or both – on Twitter, and I can’t address it any other way. Consequently I have only a handful of tweets, and almost no followers. This has led to the smug certainty among my detractors that I am a Kremlin bot and not actually a person, or perhaps one person who manages a ton of accounts, all of which spew Kremlin propaganda the livelong day and try to divert readers from The Spreading Of Truth, as defined by the western supremacists.

A brief diversion here, if you will. The suspension, although temporary, of Ms. Johnstone’s account is coincident with the removal by WordPress of several blogs, which plied a common theme that the shooting deaths of children at Sandy Hook were part of a major hoax by the US government or its corporate backers. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about it and any purported inconsistencies to offer an opinion, although I would lean toward it having actually happened and not being a fake. But that’s not the point. According to Shannon Liao at The Verge, the situation at WordPress reached critical mass because several self-appointed activists persistently called attention to these blogs and WordPress’s stance that they would not be shut down because they did not violate WordPress’s Terms of Service. But the cause was taken up by the New York Times, and WordPress folded and took them down. A great victory for the thought police.

Because further down in that self-righteous piece of garbage was this: “WordPress’ stance is reminiscent of how other social media platforms are currently under fire for arbitrarily determining what policies to enforce and whether to police horrific misinformation or leave it standing. As these issues gain attention, many platforms are putting new measures in place to remove abusive content, but like WordPress, their initial legal groundwork could use more scrutiny.”

Whether to police horrific misinformation. Now, there’s a kristallnachty- sounding phrase if ever I’ve heard one. Because I learned at my mother’s knee that there are two sides to every story, I’ve seen proven examples of the side which now dons the mantle of righteousness caught in blatant lies which it tried to spread by that same unassailable source – the New York Times – and I know that ‘misinformation’ is what the side that doesn’t believe it, or doesn’t want you to believe it, calls everything.  It’s not that there is no such thing as misinformation, or disinformation. There is, and plenty of it, perhaps more of it than there is of the genuine article. But people have a right to make up their own mind what to believe, and it’s never ‘misinformation’ if you can make a convincing case, using verifiable facts and historical performance, that something happened the way you say it did. If the conspiracy theorists can make a convincing case that Sandy Hook was a hoax brought about by cynical manipulators with a sinister agenda, it would be a crime for that information to be arbitrarily removed from public discourse. The ridiculous justification that it misuses images of children without permission is beyond absurd; half the newspapers in the country went with photos of the children on the front page.

Look at the Skripal affair. The British government’s account of what happened is hilariously unconvincing, and the Foreign Minister himself was caught red-handed in a lie of such monstrous proportions that he was hopelessly compromised and his remaining audience of five true believers could no longer take anything he said as factual. Far from the only example of his instinctive lying, I might add. But the British government demands you take them at their word: they can’t show anyone any evidence – ‘coz it’s National Security, innit? – but any alternate narrative other than the official account of what happened is fake news. Horrific misinformation. Any western authority granted the mandate to rule on what is misinformation is going to abuse that power to ensure only its side of a story (which always has at least two) is the one that is heard. Period. You would like to believe they’re above that, but they’re not. Continue reading “In the Matter of the People vs. Caitlin Johnstone, the Defense Rests.”

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When Your Story Implodes, Call Me – I’m an American Chemical Weapons Expert!

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Uncle Volodya says, “Stupidity is the same as evil, if you judge by the results.”

I’ve been waiting for something to happen
for a day, or a week, or a year;
with the blood in the ink of the headlines
and the roar of the crowd in my ears.
You might ask what it takes to remember
but you know that you’ve seen it before;
when a government lies to a people
and a country is drifting to war…

Jackson Browne, from “Lives in the Balance”

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.”

Otto von Bismarck

During an hour or so of poring over quotes about lying (of course I don’t make these up myself), before the snatch of lyric from “Lives in the Balance” floated into my memory unbidden, I was struck as never before by the prevalence of belief in the truth always coming out. Lyric after quote after stanza has it that you can lie and lie and lie, but eventually the truth will always surface, and the liar will be caught.

Is that true? Was it ever true? Perhaps among the congenitally stupid, who labour simultaneously under their guilt and a suspicion that smarter people (which is everybody else) can read minds; I’m reminded of a story which was set in the American southern states, in which the probable perpetrator of some petty crime or other was brought into the rural sheriff’s office for questioning. He was told that he must take a lie-detector test. Accordingly, a metal colander, such as is used for washing salad ingredients, was placed on his head, with wires from it leading to the photocopier. The deputies had put a piece of paper in the copier which read, “He’s Lying!!”, and whenever they asked the suspect a question, they would press the ‘print’ button following the answer, and out would come a paper which averred that the answer was a lie, which they would show to him. Eventually, confronted with his tapestry of falsehoods and under the apprehension that he was being measured by other-worldly technology, he confessed. But the local law enforcement was already well aware that he was guilty – they just wanted a confession.

So, perhaps in circumstances like that, in which the liar is a desperate fool, perhaps then the truth always comes out. But in reality, not only does truth almost never come out, it only does when all possibility of further elaboration on existing lies has been exhausted. But here’s the real kicker – when the truth does come out, we are led by philosophers to believe that evangelical vengeance will be swift to follow. Does that really happen? Perhaps after the liar is dead, he or she goes someplace featuring a dancing-flames motif, where he or she is prodded the livelong day by imps with little pitchforks. But that sort of forestalls the satisfaction of justice done in the here and now – punishment delayed is punishment denied, am I right?

Look at the case, frequently discussed here, of British intelligence services and the fake rock, which had the guts of a Blackberry cellular telephone inside it, in Moscow. This ‘rock’ was strategically situated so that intelligence assets (you only call them ‘traitors’ if they are western citizens; Russians who betray their country are dissident heroes) could stroll past and flip messages to the rock, and every so often, British intelligence services could remotely extract it; the ‘rock’ only had to be touched to charge the batteries.

But that was six years after the fact. For six years the British stonewalled and denied, and acted hurt that anyone would believe such an obvious Russian-bullshit story; the Foreign Office scornfully retorted, “We are concerned and surprised at these allegations. We reject any allegation of improper conduct in our dealing with Russian NGO’s.” So receiving surreptitious messages through a styrofoam rock is just the above-board, in-plain-sight honest dialogue in which foreign embassies everywhere engage; why the outrage? And when Britain finally admitted what had been going on, minus all the holier-than-thou gilding of trying to build a better world with Russia through an active and engaged civil society…absolutely nothing was done. Not only does the truth not necessarily ever come out – Tony Blair, for example, has never to the best of my knowledge admitted to having lied to influence public opinion in the UK in favour of committing with its partner, the United States, to the Iraq War, which was such a smorgasbord of lies that the weapons-of-mass-destruction whopper was only the biggest. Iraq was wrecked, hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and the liars were never punished, nor ever in fact admitted their guilt. In cases where the guilty must begrudgingly admit they lied, nobody does anything about it, the firebolts of celestial retribution never appear, and the liars go on to lie some more with increased confidence. An eager and gullible audience is always ready to swallow some more horseshit. Continue reading “When Your Story Implodes, Call Me – I’m an American Chemical Weapons Expert!”

Imagine My Surprise

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Uncle Volodya says, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I had this crazy dream last night. It must have been next year sometime, because it was the opening ceremony for the Nord Stream II pipeline, in Germany. President Putin was there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony (naturally), flanked by a beaming Gerhard Schroeder and Donald Tusk. Maros Sefcovic was aglow with bonhomie as he presented the ceremonial silver shears, and a beaming Petro Poroshenko, backed by members of the Atlantic Council, applauded politely as Mr. Putin stepped forward to cut the ribbon. As the two cut ends fluttered to the floor, a pig flew in through the open window, and described a lazy parabola around the ceiling fixture. Stroking past me, it executed a casual barrel-roll, winked, and burst into a cloud of red sparks: Lady Ashton – caught in mid-clap – exclaimed, “Gosh!” It looked like a Berkshire to me, although I am not a reliable judge of swine.

Image result for pig flying

I’m just kidding, of course; there was no dream. That was just stage-setting. But you’re getting good, and require less and less such trimmings, and I know you spotted right away what made the situation ridiculous enough that it must have been a dream. That’s right! With the exception of Messrs Putin and Schroeder, none of the people mentioned would be happy at the opening of Nord Steam II. The Atlantic Council, in particular, would rather crawl through the garbage chute the day after the annual seafood buffet. In case you are unsure about their rigid and unblinking opposition to the project, you might want to refresh yourself with this: “Nord Stream 2 is a Bad Deal for Europe”.

The authors – a Lithuanian-born American who is also the author of “The New Politics of Natural Gas”, a paean of approval for American shale gas, and a fellow Lithuanian who is an intern at NATO’s Energy Security Section – list four reasons why Nord Stream II must be stopped. Just before we start looking at them, I’d like you to remember the alternative is the status quo ante: continued transit through Ukraine. The amounts will be roughly the same, but one option will see gas transiting through Ukraine as it does now, and one will not. Let’s examine each point in their argument in that context, because if they are arguing that Nord Stream II should not be built – and they are – they should be able to demonstrate how the present option improves upon the possibility. Ready? Let’s get started.

One: it undermines European energy security strategy. Really? How would it do that, in a way the current situation does not? How secure is having 30%-plus of your gas supply shut off? Doesn’t sound like much of a strategy to me. Has that ever happened under the current system? Sure has. It was blamed on Russia, of course, by Ukraine, which was siphoning off large amounts of gas meant for Europe for its own use and profit, confident that Russia would not dare shut the gas off because it was Europe’s supply. Beautiful, no? Ukraine gets free gas, as much as it wants, and the Russians grind their teeth in frustration but can ultimately do nothing. That was when Russia and Ukraine got along more or less all right, although Ukraine has regularly tried to leverage its gas-transit status. The two countries are now bitter enemies, and there is no incentive whatsoever for Ukraine to safeguard Russia’s interests, while there is every incentive to steal from Russia at any opportunity, since it will get a pat on the head from the west for doing it. A track record of pilfering, followed by deteriorating relations and an environment in which hatred of its gas supplier is encouraged: hmmmm…I’m not getting that old it’ll-be-all-right feeling. Continue reading “Imagine My Surprise”

Will the Last Person in Lithuania Please Turn Out the Lights?

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Uncle Volodya says, “You’d be surprised what people will accept once you insist two or three times running that they have seen what you tell them they have seen.”

Hey, great news! The Baltic states vow to break away from the Russian power grid by 2025, and hook themselves into the European Union electricity system, breaking the last of a ‘Soviet legacy’. I can’t help thinking that will leave them with one less thing to bitch about, but I suppose they see it as a fair exchange. Before we go further, I’ve selected Lithuania, in the title, as exemplary of the Baltic states; Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. That was mostly for the alliterative lilt offered by “Last”, “Lithuania” and “Lights”, and while Latvia would have worked just as well there, Lithuania’s portly president – Dalia Grybauskaite, who has sometimes been described as quite a bit like Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in a dress – is so reliably vocal in her hatred and disdain for all things Russian that she sort of volunteers her country.

“This is the last millstone tied to our feet, keeping us from real energy independence,” she trumpeted triumphantly to local station LRT. “That tool of blackmail, which was used (by Russia) to buy our politicians and meddle in our politics, will no longer exist.”

The last millstone tied to her dainty pink feet, the last obstacle which prevents Lithuania – and the Baltic brothers – from real energy independence! Think of that. Cause for celebration, surely? Well, except – forgive me for being a stickler for accuracy – unless the Baltics mean to generate their own power in amounts sufficient unto their consumption (and they don’t), they are actually exchanging one dependency for another. Are they making a good deal? Let’s look.

You’ll have to bear with me here, because as I have found is usual in researching utility consumption in Europe as a basis for comparison, they give you a straight answer about as frequently as you stumble upon an apparently-abandoned fifty-dollar note (or its local monetary equivalent) in the street. I found before, when trying to establish European natural-gas  consumption for the purpose of establishing how much LNG the USA would have to deliver by tanker to meet its needs, that I had to convert units of measure and costs back and forth so many times I almost forgot what it was I was trying to prove. Continue reading “Will the Last Person in Lithuania Please Turn Out the Lights?”

And The Band Played On

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Uncle Volodya says, “An assumption of flawlessness is the swiftest shortcut to disaster there is.”

Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde
And the band played on.
He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored
And the band played on.
His brain was so loaded it nearly exploded;
The poor girl would shake with alarm.
He’d ne’er leave the girl with the strawberry curl
And the band played on.

– “The Band Played On”, Palmer/Ward.

The title track debuted in 1895, and has been recorded several times since; Guy Lombardo’s Orchestra had a big hit with it in 1941, and it’s that version I first heard. For those who understand and appreciate the complexities of time signatures, the song is unusual, as the verses are in 2/4 time while the refrain is in 3/4 time.

But the event with which the song became linked in counterculture significance would not take place for another 17 years – the sinking of RMS TITANIC, following a collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Eight musicians from the ship’s orchestra continued to play – played on, if you will – on the upper deck, to preserve an appearance of normality and order until the freezing waves closed over their heads. The phrase, “And the band played on” became a metaphor for “the deliberate masking or downplaying of an impending calamity by authorities”. It endures in that context to the present.

And curiously, the song precedes the event once again, in an eerie parallel to the past disaster. The western media plays on, singing its old song of immutable power, freedom and democracy, as the probable Ukrainian presidency of Yulia Tymoshenko bears down on us. If things go as the tea-leaves of the polling now say they will, by this time next year she will be president of Ukraine. Continue reading “And The Band Played On”

When You Shake Hands with Ukraine, Count Your Fingers Afterward.

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Uncle Volodya says, “My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don’t. The reality isn’t important: what’s important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.”

Yakiv Smolii wants to tell you all a story. According to Mr. Smolii, the governor of the Bank of Ukraine, Ukraine is about to make yet another move which will draw it closer to the EU – liberalization of its foreign-exchange controls.

This, Mr. Smolii tells us, will “make Ukraine a much more investor-friendly place and will help the country take its rightful spot amongst the major European and global economies”. Ukraine, he goes on to say, has come a long way since the Glorious Maidan, what the western media sometimes likes to tout as the Revolution of Dignity.

I guess the spot it is currently in is less than its ‘rightful’ ranking – although I’m not quite sure what he means by that, except that Ukraine’s political leaders frequently allude to its ‘right’ to be better than it is – which is 50 out of 190 on the GDP-adjusted-for-purchasing-power ranking, which I am told is the fairest way to rate national economies. That’s according to the IMF, but it occupies similar if not identical rankings according to the World Bank and the CIA World Factbook. Interestingly, although not particularly germane to the present discussion, Russia is the sixth-largest economy in that ranking, breathing down Germany’s neck, while the USA has fallen to third, behind China and the European Union. There is still an enormous difference between the USA’s economy and that of Russia, but I hope you will raise an eyebrow next time you hear some smug western pundit proclaim that the Russian economy is smaller than that of Los Angeles or Peru or whatever. Bear in mind that the country is moving up the ranks despite being the target of international sanctions which seek to wreck its economy, led by the United States.

Anyway, back to Ukraine. Mr. Smolii tells us that for the last four years or so, his team has worked hard to stabilize the macroeconomic situation and create a solid foundation for economic growth in Ukraine and prosperity for all who live and work there. And he appears to believe they have succeeded; in his estimation, the banking system is in better shape than it ever has been in the history of independent Ukraine, thanks to the clean-up and reforms implemented since 2014. Ukraine stands ready to welcome foreign investors, and is a great place to put your money if you like to make money with it.

Is that true? What do you think? Continue reading “When You Shake Hands with Ukraine, Count Your Fingers Afterward.”

Wicked is as Wicked Does, My Mama Says.

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Uncle Volodya says, “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.”

“Nobody scarce doth any good, yet they all agree in praising those who do. Indeed, it is strange that all men should consent in commending goodness, and no man endeavour to deserve that commendation; whilst, on the contrary, all rail at wickedness, and all are as eager to be what they abuse.”

Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams

Since the onset of the Glorious Maidan in Kiev, it has become fashionable in English-speaking media to indulge in the most hyperbolic rhetoric about how Russia is destroying western civilization. Since the first stirrings of uncompromising resistance from Russia toward western global gerrymandering, with the public release of the uncovered cellphone call between (then) Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State Victoria Nuland and (then) Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt – in which the two were heard laying plans for the incoming Ukrainian government before it was ever formed – the western government and media collaboration against Russia has gone into hyperdrive. No lowbrow motivation, no dirty trick and no nefarious or terrifying plot has been too underhanded to be attributed – typically immediately and without any evidence – to Russia. The media condemnation quickly passed hysteria on its way to whatever lies beyond.

The ridiculous British tempest in a teapot, in which the inimitable investigative team of Theresa May and Boris Johnson instantly knew that the Russians had poisoned the Skripals with the deadliest nerve agent known to man – although it somehow failed to kill either of them – and that it had to have been ordered by the Russian government. That proved such an embarrassment that the Skripals remain isolated in the hospital and are not allowed to speak with anyone, while Her Majesty’s Government tries to massage the giant shitball into a narrative which will explain everything. The continued preposterous insistence by American politicians and media that the Russians ‘hacked’ the American elections and made Trump president. Nobody has offered any explanation whatsoever how the Russians managed to hack the election so that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, while Trump won in the electoral college, which is un-hackable since it is not decided by the casting of a public vote and the delegates are not obligated to vote the way their state did, although they most always do. Amazingly, nobody in America thought that elections might be ‘hacked’ when the Bush administration made the vote in America electronic via voting machines, provided by the company whose CEO vowed to ‘help Ohio deliver its electoral votes’ for Bush. Not even after  Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel (assisted by graduate student Alex Halderman) hacked into an electronic voting machine which was still in use in four states in less than 8 minutes, demonstrating how it could be altered to skew the vote count as desired and then delete the software at the end of the day so the deception could not be detected. Nobody remembers that, now that Russia is the looming threat to democracy and freedom. Especially now that nobody needs to prove anything.

And, yes, the absurd campaign against Russian international sport, in which the same super-sleuth Canadian sports lawyer who investigated cheating during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and found nothing – until the BALCO scandal exploded two years later and threw the spotlight on epidemic cheating, including 5-time medalist Marion Jones – was tapped to head an investigation into what fellow Canadian Dick Pound had already decided was a Russian state-sponsored doping program. ‘Whistle-blower’ defector Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov told the special investigative commission everything they wanted to hear. Just as an aside, it’s amazing how often people believe liars who tell them what they want to hear, even though every instinct should shout warning; if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Anyway, Olympic-standard liar (if lying were an Olympic sport, which the west probably hopes it will be, since they would go in with an advantage) Rodchenkov imploded during testimony at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearings, and had to confess under cross-examination that he (1) had never personally distributed to any athlete the performance-enhancing “Duchess Cocktail” he claimed to have invented, (2) had never seen any athlete take it, (3) never witnessed any instructions being given to any coach or athlete to use the Duchess Cocktail, (4) never saw an athlete tamper with a urine sample, (5) could not describe the composition of the supposed Duchess Cocktail, and (6) never personally saw any sample bottles being opened or decapped. Rodchenkov crashed and burned like the Hindenburg, and no western network said a word about it. He was the linchpin of the entire dog-and-pony show, and now that there’s nothing left of it but a scattering of horseshit, the western networks can’t quite take it in. Or don’t want to talk about it. Continue reading “Wicked is as Wicked Does, My Mama Says.”