How Many Frequent-Flyer Miles Would it Cost to Send Ursula von der Leyen Non-Stop to Hell?

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Uncle Volodya says, “Desperate and dammed persons share an affinity for flirting with danger; an infectious case of erotic morbidity fetters them to self-destruction.”

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan;

You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is, brother, you’ll have to wait…

The Beatles, from ‘Revolution

English is the language of a people who have probably earned their reputation for perfidy and hypocrisy, because their language itself is so flexible, so often light-headed with statements which appear to mean one thing one year and quite a different thing the next.

Paul Scott

Everyone is familiar with the quote, “The first casualty, when war comes, is the truth”. But there must be something special about this war – something unique and rare, which inspires public figures to heights of bullshit scarcely attainable without going on oxygen. And none has pushed the upper envelope of the craposphere the way Cowsmonaut Ursula von der Leyen has. Consider, for example, her parallel-universe speech to the World Economic Forum (WEF) on May 24th. We’ll get back to that in more detail, and I am confident that, like me, you will be shaking your head in wonder at its apparently-deliberate falsehoods. But first, a bit of background on Ms. von der Leyen; many of her colleagues in the European Clown Circus refer to her as ‘VDL’ because they are lazy, and so are we, so I’m going to refer to her the same way in this piece if that’s okay.

VDL is said to have been a ‘late bloomer’ in politics, completing medical studies and living for several years in the United States with her family before deciding to enter German politics. But she certainly started as she meant to go on, a series of disastrous failures of leadership and imagination as she quickly worked her way up to a black belt in incompetence.

“Fixing the German army, which had been starved of resources for years after the end of the Cold War, was a herculean task. Von der Leyen blamed many of the problems facing the armed forces on her predecessors. Now in her fifth year atop the ministry, she can no longer point fingers.

Her biggest failure at the ministry may have been in not winning over the officer corps and troops. As a woman in a male-dominated universe, von der Leyen was never going to have an easy task. But current and former aides describe her management style as distant and defensive. She surrounded herself at the ministry with a small group of aides who kept tight control on the flow of information. Many interactions with rank-and-file troops were in the form of photo-ops, which often showed the minister in dramatic poses alongside military equipment.

She offended many service members by saying publicly in 2017, after the discovery of a right-wing extremist in the ranks, that the Bundeswehr suffered from “weak leadership at various levels.”

Well, she was right about that; leadership at the very highest level sucked like a black hole. But I think we are well past the novelty phase of feminine leadership where you are being made to look like a failure because you’re a woman. It didn’t stop the political system from letting her hand-pick another woman – Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – to succeed her, and she promptly proposed Germany acquire a first-strike nuclear capability as a deterrent to ‘Russian aggression or provocation’. Both these individuals were useless as a chocolate teapot at their jobs and it had not a thing to do with their gender, and everything to do with their overall uselessness at leadership. However, being a useless leader has not prevented VDL from pole-vaulting to leadership of the entire bloc.

And she might have offended some service members as Defense Minister of Germany, but by God it did not stop the Defense Ministry from trying to protect her from accountability by wiping her official phone records even after the Bundestag had ordered her phone held as evidence in an investigation.

Lindner also gave an exasperated interview to public broadcaster ARD on Friday, in which he described the Defense Ministry’s continued failure to produce the phone data, even though the Bundestag had declared the phone should be classified as evidence several months ago.

“First they said von der Leyen’s phone could not be found, they didn’t know where it was,” he said. “A week ago they said it was in the ministry, but only von der Leyen knew the PIN code, and yesterday they confessed that the relevant phone data had been deleted in August.”

Sound familiar? She might have only lived in the United States for a couple of years, but she certainly picked up a few tricks – remember the interrogation tapes from Abu Ghraib that were destroyed by the CIA even after a direct order to preserve them as evidence? And the woman who ordered them destroyed went on to be CIA Director from 2018 to 2021; poor thing, they probably promoted her because they felt guilty for picking on her because she is a woman.

The truth – according to a report by influential German publication Der Speigel – is that VDL has cocked up everything she touched since entering politics, blamed it on her predecessors, and shaken the dust of her last shattered ministry post off her heels too quickly for her to be punished for it . By the time investigators get their shit together, she has already moved on.

“VdL was in lots of ways a perfect appointment as President of the European Commission. She is good at grand promises, pledges of unity, and commitments to diversity. The problem comes when it’s actually time to deliver. At three major ministries in Berlin, she stumbled from one disaster to another. The vaccine debacle unfolding across the continent won’t have come as any surprise to those who have followed her career. When it came to buying vaccines, the Commission was too late, too chaotic, and too stingy. But when the problems emerged, VdL disappeared, and then tried to pin the blame on someone else: in this case first AstraZeneca, for failing to deliver supplies on time, and then on the British, for investing more, and earlier. ‘It is, to put it bluntly, a pattern that has occurred frequently throughout her career,’ concluded Spiegel.”

Stumbling from one disaster to another. Just the resume you want in the dreamweaver who is inspiring the eggheads at Davos. Well, I think that’s enough stage-setting – lets move on to her recent load of rubbish, introduced at the beginning of the post. Continue reading “How Many Frequent-Flyer Miles Would it Cost to Send Ursula von der Leyen Non-Stop to Hell?”

We Have Become the Soviet Union Our Parents Used to Frighten Us When We Were Children.

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Uncle Volodya says, “Anger is an acid that destroys its own container.”

“Together, they would watch everything that was so carefully planned collapse, and they would smile at the beauty of destruction.”

Markus Zusak, from “The Book Thief

And you tell me over and over again, my friend;
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction…

Bob Dylan, from, “Eve of Destruction

Most of us are familiar, in that casual way of recognizing something heard before without really pondering its import, with this Nietzsche quote: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” It is just as apparent that the west’s political leaders have never read it, or if they have, have decided to ignore it in favour of becoming the monsters they condemn. And so, slowly at first but with gathering speed and breathless momentum, we are ‘fighting those who hate us for our freedoms’ by giving them up, or at least remaining silent while they are taken away for our own good.

Journalism such as we once knew, at least the older among us, has given way to ‘shaping the narrative’, and authors take pride in steering people’s beliefs in various directions regardless what is actually happening; I’ll give you an example. Give this a quick read.

Finished already? Let’s start with the opening sentence: “As the war in Ukraine goes on way longer than Vladimir Putin appears to have anticipated, the Russian leader is getting increasingly aggressive.” This is typical of a fairly-recent phenomenon in what used to be journalism, in which you tell your readers what the target’s objectives and reasoning are, and then mock him for failing to achieve the objectives and for commencing on such half-baked reasoning. Nobody outside Russia has the slightest real idea how long the Russian government expected a war it entered into with the greatest imaginable reluctance, and only after being pushed and baited and prodded by the west, to endure. The imagined and much-touted hammerstroke which would have had the Russians in Kiev in just 72 hours is and was always a western invention, based entirely on unsupported assumptions – in this case by America’s top soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. But you can google the phrase “Russia could be in Kiev in 72 hours analysts” and come up with pages of predictions by ‘people familiar with the assessments’ and unnamed ‘security officials’ which line up behind the purported lunge at Kiev, with the entirely fictional goal of “remov[ing] the country’s democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky.”

Russia has never said or published any timeline for the operation, has never said it intended to seize Kiev, has never in any way implied that removing Zelensky is an objective. In fact, as reported by Jacques Baud in The Postil Magazine’s “The Military Situation in the Ukraine—An Update“, there was never any reason to strike at Kiev, although a feint was made toward it simply (a) because that’s what the west expected based on the silliness broadcast by its quacking analysts and its soldier-politicians, and (b) to prevent reinforcement of the bulk of the Ukrainian Army, which was poised on the line of contact of the Donbas/Lugansk Republics to effect the violent capture and return to Ukrainian control of those republics, and for which military operation the artillery bombardment had already commenced.

Moreover, Ukrainian forces are never indicated on our maps, as this would show that they were not deployed on the Russian border in February 2022, but were regrouped in the south of the country, in preparation for their offensive, the initial phase of which began on February 16th. This confirms that Russia was only reacting to a situation initiated by the West, by way of the Ukraine, as we shall see. At present, it is these forces that are encircled in the Kramatorsk cauldron and are being methodically fragmented and neutralized, little by little, in an incremental way, by the Russian coalition.

The vagueness maintained in the West about the situation of the Ukrainian forces, has other effects. First, it maintains the illusion of a possible Ukrainian victory. Thus, instead of encouraging a negotiation process, the West seeks to prolong the war. This is why the European Union and some of its member countries have sent weapons and are encouraging the civilian population and volunteers of all kinds to go and fight, often without training and without any real command structure—with deadly consequences.

Another effect of this vagueness is that Ukrainian casualties are whatever Zelensky and his and the western PR machines say they are; consistently low-balling Ukrainian losses and wildly exaggerating  Russian casualties contribute to a tentative western belief that Ukraine is ‘winning’ and that pouring more weapons and money into Ukraine will propel it to success rather than condemn more Ukrainians to death by dragging out the war for as long as possible. Anyway, I could go on all day with that one sentence; let’s wrap up, because we have somewhere else to go. The opening sentence closed with “…the Russian leader is getting increasingly aggressive.” The ‘aggression’ referred to here is the shutting off of gas supply by Russia to Poland and Bulgaria, both transit countries for Europe, because they had refused to pay for gas in rubles as required by Russia and had let the compliance deadline pass. So, by refusing to sell gas to those countries on their terms, Russia is ‘being aggressive’. Why would it take such steps? I can explain in two words; “Michael McFaul”. Continue reading “We Have Become the Soviet Union Our Parents Used to Frighten Us When We Were Children.”

Washington Pretends it was Always the Manager of Nord Stream II

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Uncle Volodya says, “All over, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”

“Narcissists are very retaliative if they believe another has achieved what they desire, exposed their insecurities, or refused to be under their control.”

-Lorraine Nilon

Well, it’s official: Washington has ‘decided’ to stop opposing the Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia to Germany, and has struck an agreement with the latter for the pipeline’s completion. Nord Stream II is a twin pipeline laid alongside the original, which has been operational since November 2011. Nord Stream already consists of two lines, the first opened in November 2011 and the second in October 2012. Nord Stream II will double that again, and increase pumping capacity to well over 100 BcM at maximum volume.

There’s a certain art – which Washington has perfected – of continuing to spin even when you failed to get your own way so that failure looks like a kind of success. A skill that allows you to pretend everything is unfolding exactly as you had planned it would, so that you even appear to believe it yourself. And few can surpass the arch-demoness of the US Department of State, Victoria Nuland, in that arena. Listen to her strut and swagger (translated by Moscow Exile).

“We imposed significant sanctions in May on an additional 19 organizations, and we also imposed sanctions on the [pipeline] operator and employees, but we suspended them in the interest of seeing if we could get Germany to work with us, the Ukraine and Poland on the issue of the consequences and vulnerabilities that this pipeline creates for the Ukraine,”, Nuland said.

“We have not taken any action to [force] the Ukraine to remain silent. The Ukraine is a sovereign country and speaks for itself”, the diplomat said, commenting on the Politico newspaper article about Washington’s alleged demand for Kiev to stop criticizing the pipeline.

“Today we will publish the agreement that we have reached with the German government. I can provide you with a number of details here”, she said.

According to Nuland, within the framework of agreements with the United States on the Nord Stream 2 project, Germany has undertaken to seek the development of pan-European sanctions against Moscow in the event of aggressive steps by Russia against the Ukraine.

“Among other things, Germany has pledged to take measures at the national level, as well as to seek the application of effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russia’s export potential to Europe in the energy sector if Russia tries to use energy resources as a weapon or commits further aggressive acts against the Ukraine. This is one aspect of this agreement”, she said.

In addition, Nuland noted, Berlin, within the framework of the agreement with Washington on Nord Stream 2, had agreed to support the extension of the agreement on the transit of energy carriers between Russia and the Ukraine, which expires in 2024. The United States is seeking to extend this agreement for 10 years, said the deputy head of American diplomacy. “Another aspect of the agreement is support for the extension of the transit agreement between Russia and the Ukraine. As you know, it expires in 2024. We will seek with all the levers of influence for an additional 10 years for the Ukraine,”, Nuland said.

To shorten all that up for you, in case high-octane political bullshit makes your eyes glaze over, the United States ordered Russia not to complete the Nord Stream II pipeline, emboldened by its unqualified success in stopping its predecessor, South Stream. Russia kept plodding ahead. The United States gestured mystically, and international sanctions rained down upon Russia’s head. It turned up its collar, set its feet and resumed plodding ahead. When the pipeline was nearly completed, the United States ordered Russia’s Swiss pipelaying partner, Allseas, to abandon the project or face American sanctions, and the company immediately put its tail between its legs and scampered away. Russia brought its own pipelayers into service to finish the project. Increasingly frantic, the United States began probing and brainstorming how best to manage the catastrophe…and settled on the German marshmallow as the weak link.

A Workplace Guide to Managing Your Control Freak Colleague

Perhaps it’s unsubstantiated nostalgia on my part, but I remember the United States being a lot better at strategy. You’re never on your best game when you’re an habitual aggressor who is playing defense, but not even that accounts for the misplaced triumph of a fabricated win after a bunch of flailing around that has achieved more or less nothing. The USA’s aim, ostensibly, is to force Russia to continue transiting gas to Europe via Ukraine, and paying Ukraine a lucrative premium for the privilege. This, in turn, is so the United States can impose a measure of control both over Russia’s ability to transit gas, and over Europe’s ability to receive it, by stirring up trouble in Ukraine. It is fairly plain Washington intends to manipulate circumstances in Ukraine so as to create a situation in which Germany must keep its promise to petition for more sanctions if Russia is ‘acting aggressively’. However, as soon as Nord Stream II is complete, Ukraine will have lost nearly all its strategic value. Continue reading “Washington Pretends it was Always the Manager of Nord Stream II”

The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.

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Uncle Volodya says, “When I find that stubbornness continually overrides common sense regardless of the logic of my argument, it seems that the only effective solution is to tell them to go ahead and stick their finger in the socket. And what I find is that what my argument failed to solve, electricity does quite nicely..”

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

– Lao Tzu

“Here’s to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don’t even care”

Leonard Cohen, from “The Night Comes On”

There must be a term for words which become so inexorably and automatically associated with one another that one of them is immediately assumed without being spoken. Like “dairy ice-cream”. I realize there are non-dairy kinds of ice cream, but generally speaking, ‘dairy’ is assumed when you say ‘ice cream’. And so it is becoming with “the United States of America” and “hyperbole”. Always known to some degree for self-aggrandizement, America’s official conversation with the world now routinely includes not only oft-repeated falsehoods that are intended to be repeated until they become truth, but wildly improbable schemes which seem to have as their purpose a general inoculation of feelgood in the American population, a return to those grand old ‘anything is possible’ days.

Certainly nobody else believes them.

An instructive, and repetitious example is the premise that the United States is going to become the major supplier of economical energy to Europe, supplanting Russia’s pipeline-delivered gas with tanker-loads of ‘freedom gas’ – I wish I was kidding, but I’m not; American leaders seem to think Europeans would eat a brick if you painted ‘freedom’ on it – brought to Europe’s LNG terminals by ship.

I’m sorry to keep bringing it up, and I know we’ve been over this and over this…but. The USA simply will not stop with this silly fable that good old American can-do will overcome all obstacles, regardless the difficulties they present. In fact, it calls to mind a line I read in Phillip Lewis’s wonderful “The Barrowfields” – “A beguiling optimism is often the first step toward folly”. America convinces itself that it can do it, and then afterward you’re not allowed to point out that it did not do it, because that would be rude and a repudiation of its cheeky and inspiring optimism.

How many times now – and you don’t even have to cast your memory that far back – has the United States promised that if the ‘free world’ (whatever that means) will only band together with it in a coalition (which it will lead, naturellement) they will turn this or that nation, presently afflicted with dictatoritis and not enough freedom, into a prosperous western-leaning market democracy? How many times has that actually come about? Has it ever? Iraq and Libya were ruined, spun in the negative-development chamber and spat out decades behind what they were before the Glorious Liberation. The Coalition Road Show gave it an honest try in Syria, where the megalomaniacal plan was to ease up on ISIS until it had managed to wipe out Assad, then pour on the coal in the home stretch, evict the flea-bitten rebels and implant a liberalizing Syrian leader who would occupy himself with gay marriage and other important western issues, while ‘international investors’ took over state energy production. Unfortunately – depending on your viewpoint – Russia spoiled that rosy outlook, and the western media went from confidently and mockingly forecasting Assad’s imminent demise to squawking about damage from Russian airstrikes that had not even taken off yet to grudgingly – and bitterly – allowing that Assad could remain in charge in the country that voted him into that capacity. America, largely on its own, tried it in Venezuela, and while it was predictably successful at causing ruin, it achieved nothing much else, although it’s early days yet and it has obviously not given up. Occasionally, it is distracted by the possibility of causing ruin in Iran, and wavers back and forth on which place it plans to ruin next.

Anyway, never mind that – I only wanted to point out that a sunny assessment of American intention to re-order this or that reality, plus $3.95 will get you a Caffe Mocha Grande at Starbucks.

I would therefore like to redirect your attention to the latest piece of caterwauling about Nord Stream II. Continue reading “The USA is Not Ever Going to be a Major Gas Supplier to Europe. That’s Never.”